New Year's Day open thread

Happy new year to the Bleeding Heartland community. Here’s an open thread. I’m among the minority of Iowans not watching the Outback Bowl today, but for what it’s worth, I do hope the Hawkeyes beat Louisiana State. LSU jumped out to an early lead.

Several new laws take effect in Iowa today, notably the alternative to expanding Medicaid, just approved by the federal government in mid-December. Under the plan, federal funds will cover Medicaid for Iowans earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level and private health insurance for Iowans with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In theory, the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan is supposed to cover between 100,000 and 150,000 people, roughly half of our state’s uninsured population. Problems with the federal health insurance exchange website may leave a lot of people with a gap in coverage, though. The Iowa Department of Human Services has advised roughly 16,000 Iowans who applied for coverage through and may be eligible for Medicaid to apply again to the state agency. If they apply by January 31, they can get coverage retroactive to today.

Teen drivers in Iowa face new restrictions under Senate File 115, which passed both chambers with large bipartisan majorities last year. After completing driver’s ed and having an instruction permit for six months, teenagers will have an intermediate license for 12 months (extended from six months under the previous statute). Also, the teen driver’s parents have the option to limit the driver to having no more than one unrelated minor passenger in the vehicle. Rod Boshart explained more details about the new law, intended to reduce the risk of traffic accidents involving young drivers.

Boshart also reports, “Thousands of commercial property owners in Iowa face a Jan. 15 deadline to apply in their counties for a new tax credit established” in the compromise property tax bill approved at the end of last year’s legislative session with strong bipartisan support.

As of today, it is legal in the state of Colorado to sell marijuana to people over age 21 at certain licensed stores. Drivers with Colorado license plates were already among the groups more likely to be pulled over by Iowa State Patrol. I would guess that profiling will increase.

In some parts of the country, black-eyed peas are considered a lucky food to eat on New Year’s Day. I’m not a fan of “hoppin’ John,” the most traditional preparation, but I’ve posted the recipe for my favorite black-eyed peas dish after the jump.  

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Weekend open thread: Thanksgiving and Chanukah edition

I hope everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community enjoyed the holiday yesterday—or both holidays, if you’re Jewish. For those who prepared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, here are four soup recipes using the leftovers (two are vegetarian soups, and two use remnants of a roast turkey). We’re not a big cranberry sauce eating family, so some years I end up mixing the extra sauce with chopped apples to make a pie.

I find it hard to get into the Chanukah spirit so early, but for those who love Jewish holiday music, my favorite Chanukah album is the late, great Debbie Friedman’s “Light These Lights.” She recorded mostly traditional songs (starting with “Maoz Tsur,” also known as “Rock of Ages”), plus a few original compositions. Best of all, she omitted the cringe-inducing “I Have a Little Dreidel” song. I was amused to find out a few weeks ago that Amazon lists this record in the “Christian alternative” section. Woody Guthrie fans will enjoy the Klezmatics recording of original Chanukah compositions set to Guthrie’s words. It’s true, he wrote a series of Chanukah-related lyrics during the 1940s.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Snow day open thread

Hundreds of school districts and businesses are closed across Iowa today because of winter storm Draco. Late last night we had rare snowstorm thunder and lightning in the Des Moines area. Power outages have affected many Iowans. Our electricity came back relatively soon in Windsor Heights, and I hope that will be true everywhere.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. A few winter weather-related links and two soup recipes are after the jump.

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Weekend open thread: Thanksgiving leftovers edition

What’s on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers? I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday and will have time to relax this weekend.

For those who cooked a big meal yesterday, here are four ways to make soup from Thanksgiving leftovers (two using leftovers from roasting a turkey, one using sweet potatoes, and one using mashed potatoes). You can mix extra cranberry sauce with diced apples to make a pie.

Share your own favorite recipes or comments on any topic below. This is an open thread.

Weekend open thread: Hot weather dinner ideas edition

Most of Iowa continues to experience a relentless heat wave and drought. My sympathies go out to the RAGBRAI riders who are hitting the road tomorrow.

After the jump I’ve posted my favorite dinner ideas for this kind of weather. They won’t heat up your kitchen much or force you to stand by a hot grill outdoors. They are also quick to prepare, since long, hot days can drain your energy.

Share your own suggestions after the jump, or comments on any other topic. This is an open thread.

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Weekend open thread: Easter and Passover edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

If you are celebrating Easter or Passover, I hope you’re enjoying the spring holiday with friends or family. I tried an Italian haroset recipe for last night’s Passover seder—the recipe is after the jump.

UPDATE: Senator Chuck Grassley caused a bit of an uproar in the Twitterverse Saturday with this bon mot:

Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law

SECOND UPDATE: CBS news legend Mike Wallace has died at age 93. Morley Safer remembers his former colleague, and CBS posted other reflections, photos, and video clips at that link.

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