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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Errant Appliances

Yes, I have really pissed off the oven gods.

Right now, in the back of my mind, while I have other stuff to do, I’m trying to figure out the best way to make Thanksgiving dinner.  For years I have done everything myself, save the pumpkin pies, which my sister in law does so much better than anyone.  But a couple of weeks ago, my oven broke.  I don’t yet have the money for the repairs, nor do I have a clue as to what’s broke.  I only know that I can turn it on, preheat it, have it stay on about 9 minutes or so, then it shuts off by itself.  So, I can bake some biscuits, but very little else.  No turkey is going to fly out of it anytime soon.

This is the fourth appliance to expire.  The TV was first (if you want to call it an appliance), just sound, no picture.  It’s plasma, so it’ll cost more to fix than to buy a new one.  Next, the washing machine.  It was the drum.  Fortunately, it was still under warranty, but I still had to pay for the labor.  After that, the dishwasher.  I haven’t a clue what’s wrong with it, just that a piece from the inside has broken off (the part that squirts the water) and nothing gets clean.  Next came the oven.

I guess I've pissed off several appliance gods.

I told my sister in law of my predicament, and she loaned me both her electric roaster and electric rotisserie so I can make both a turkey and a ham.  That, along with my crock pot (for slow cooked baked beans) will be my contribution.  My son has decided he will risk it and he will be making the biscuits since the oven doesn’t have to work very long anyway.  He did a trial run on Sunday and they baked up nice, right before the oven shut off.

I’m really hoping that I don’t piss off the refrigerator gods…

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you?

Where were you 11 years ago today?

I was home.  And I have thanked the Lord for it since.

It was otherwise a perfect fall day.  I was getting ready for work, as I normally do.  My husband was home that day, not a work day for him.  The kids were getting ready for school.  My older daughter was already at work (Disneyland).  My youngest was crawling around on the floor playing with his toys, waiting for me to get ready so I could take him to day care.

My husband started yelling from the den, "Hey, come and take a look at this...  Some idiot flew a plane into the World Trade Center".  "You're kidding me," I replied.  "Planes have been flying around that place for decades, and no pilot has ever hit a building there."

I walked out into the den.  The television was on.  It was showing smoke billowing out of one building.  I was watching for less than a minute, when the reporter on the television started yelling just as another airplane hit the opposite building.  My eyes began to sting with vicarious smoke, and I came to the realization that it was my own tears stinging my eyes.  Of all the inane, cruel and evil acts to ever be committed.  This was the most senseless, mass murder of 5,000 plus people.

I was numb.

Some minutes later my daughter called.  Apparently Disneyland was on some kind of "list" as a target place, so all non-essential employees were being sent home.

I exhaled.

As soon as I counted all heads, fingers and toes, I went to work; my husband elected to have everyone stay home.  The kids piled blankets and pillows all over the den and consoled each other.

At work, my coworkers and I continued to watch as other planes crashed into other places, killing more of God's children.  Why?  What could possibly be accomplished by these apparent random acts of violence?  We quickly took care of all urgent tasks where public safety was concerned, and were told to go home to be with our families.

It occurred to all of us, I think, that when we tell someone 'goodbye' as we go about our tasks for the day, we always took for granted that that special someone would be greeting us at the end of our day. But there are no guarantees.  There never were.

I try to remember to be the kindest that I can be when I depart from a loved one - even if we were fighting just moments ago.  Something may happen in the course of the day that might take us from each other.  Of all things, regret is by far the worst emotion.

I believe something happened to us that day as a nation - as Americans.  Maybe we got a little more careful.  Maybe we seem a little more fearful - maybe not.  Maybe we say "I love you" more - and actually mean it.  Maybe we hug a little longer, kiss a little deeper, and love a little truer.

When I think of this tragedy, and others that have happened throughout history, I like to think of what Gandhi said about it "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

And this gives me comfort.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hostages of the Madness

While I'm sitting here writing tonight, I know that the pearly gates have swung wide, and the golden streets of heaven are populated by a few more sweet souls than this time yesterday evening.  I am in deep and prayerful thought for those people in Aurora, Colorado; the families, friends and loved ones of those hurt or killed.  People all over the United States today have taken the time to hug their children a little longer, kissed their spouses a little more endearingly, and were just generally more thoughtful of others today - you know, the way we are all supposed to behave to one another.

I've spoken to a few people about it, and they say that they do not want to go out anymore, don't want to see movies anymore, and so on and that's just madness.

We should not put our lives on hold because of a misguided and perhaps mentally ill individual that cannot distinguish reality from fantasy.  He's not the first sick person to terrorize the world and he certainly won't be the last.

Instead, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back on the horse - and we refuse to be a hostage to the madness.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How can you not love gravy?

I love gravy.  I dream about it even.

My first memory of gravy when I was about 4 or 5 years old, living in Martinsville, Indiana.  My Aunt Patsy made the best gravy on the planet, and still does to this day.

"What do you want for breakfast, Ellie?" she would say.  "Biscuits and gravy," I would say.  "Don't you get tired of biscuits and gravy all the time?"  "Nope".

That was one of the main reasons why I was completely in shock when my granddaughter, Makayla, had a tearful outburst over the heavenly substance the rest of the world knows as gravy.  Makayla is the only child of our child number 4 out of 6, Pamela, who is in the Navy.

As a treat, sometimes on Saturday's or Sunday's, I make turkey loaf. It's not quite an entire turkey, but is great for one meal for just a few people.

This one particular Saturday, I made the turkey roll, green beans, a nice salad and mashed potatoes with a nice brown gravy (and biscuits of course).  My husband, Jerry and my youngest son, Benjamin love to drizzle (or dump) the gravy all over everything - their food might as well be swimming in it.  They are people after my own heart.

Makayla, who was just 3 years old at the time was sitting in her chair fidgeting a bit waiting for her meal to be served to her.  I cut the turkey into very small pieces, and dashed a little gravy on it, along with the mashed potatoes.

What came next will be the subject of controversy for years to come.  Makayla began to pout, which turned into a whimper, which transformed into a sob, which concluded in a wail.  "Grandma, I can't eat this."  "What's the matter, Makayla?"  "Grandma, I don't like this food!"  "Why not, Makayla?" 

"Grandma, this food is dirty!".

Probably from her father's side of the family...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some Things I have Learned

I’ve learned that you can’t fix everything or everyone.

I’ve learned that I have to accept things for what they are, people for who they are and me for me.

I’ve learned that Murphy’s Law is for real and Karma is a real bad mother.

I’ve learned that when I think I may be at the end of my rope, there’s always someone there, albeit my heavenly father, to either tie a knot in it for me to hold on, or to tie more rope on the end to get me through it.

I’ve learned that the majority of people’s problems are based on misunderstanding.

I’ve learned that, although I question things that don’t make sense – like why do hot dogs come in an 8 pack while the buns come in a 10 pack – I’m still not going to get an answer.

I’ve learned that it’s OK to dream, to cry, to laugh, to morn, to be happy, to be angry, to be sad and to love.  It’s not OK to hate.

I’ve learned that the minimum daily requirement for hugs has not yet been established.

I’ve learned that the only answer to a futile endeavor is to just give up.

I’ve learned that while it’s my responsibility to teach others when I can, it’s also my responsibility to learn from them at the same time.

I’ve learned that the best answer is the truth, and the best action is to do good – even when I don’t particularly want to.

I’ve learned that there’s just no good way to stop the hiccups.

I’ve learned that I don’t know everything there is to know, and I still have much more to learn.

Friday, April 27, 2012

House Resolution 615

U.S. Congressman John C. Fleming, M.D. has reintroduced House Resolution 615 to force Congress to live with the laws they create for everybody else; namely the new health care law.  Congress will now “enjoy” the same benefits offered to you and me.  To see the press release, click here. 

To visit the Congressman’s website, go to:

To view further details on H.R. 615, show support and receive newsletters, go to:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Best Ever Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

I made this for my family last weekend.  I couldn't take it out of oven fast enough.  There was a little left over which re-heated nicely for lunch the next day...

Pie Crust Ingredients (getting that part ready beforehand):
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (best to chill cubes in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before using)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp ice water
  • 1 slightly beaten egg white (for egg wash)
(It’s OK to double this if you want to make a casserole sized pie, which is what I did)
Prepare the pie crust dough.

Sift together flour and salt.

Cut in chilled butter.  Then cut in shortening until the dough resembles a coarse cornmeal.

Gradually add the ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together when pressed between your fingers.

Turn dough out on a floured surface and mold the dough into a ball; then flatten into a disk.  Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days before rolling.

Chicken Pie Filling Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken or 6 to 8 chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 4 potatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • ¼ c chopped onion
  • 1 c frozen peas (optional)

Prepare the Filling

Take a whole chicken, and cut by sections, removing skin (toss the liver & kidney portions, but use the wings, heart and neck for the stock).  You can also use boneless chicken breast, but a whole chicken is better with the bones because it makes fabulous stock.

Place the chicken in a pot and add enough water to just cover the chicken, with 2 teaspoons of seasoned salt.  Boil on the stovetop for about 20 minutes; then allow the chicken to cool enough so you can handle it, saving all of the broth.

Set aside the wings, heart and neck you used for the stock.  It doesn’t have very much meat, but it’s good to nibble on while you’re waiting.

Take the 2 cans of cream of chicken soup and dump them into a crock pot.  Gradually stir in 2 cans of the stock into the soup, rinsing the remainder of the soup out of the cans and into the crock pot, and blend until there are no lumps (use a wisk, you’ll make quick work of this).

Remove as much chicken as you can from the bones of the chicken.  You want to try to cut the chicken in 1 inch cubes.  Place the chicken in the soup mixture and discard the bones (unless there’s a little bit of meat on them for nibbling first).

Add to the soup mixture the potatoes peeled and cubed, carrots peeled and cut, celery cut into 1 inch chunks and onion (I like green onion).

You can blend a little more of the stock to the soup base to cover the vegetables and chicken, but only until it is just covered, you don’t want to make the soup base too thin.

Let all of this simmer on low for 6 hours or until the potatoes are tender.  If you like peas, you can add them at the 5th hour.  Your soup base should have a thick gravy-like consistency.  If it’s too runny, add 2 tbs. corn starch to a ¼ c cold water, mix it until it looks like milk, and blend into the soup base at the 5th hour.  It will thicken it up a little.

Once the filling is done, turn off the crock pot and let it cool a little while you prepare the crust.

Prepare The Pie

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Lightly spray the baking pan with some non-stick cooking spray.

Separate dough into 2 equal portions.  Roll out first portion of dough on a lightly floured surface to a little less than a quarter-inch thick. Carefully lay the portion of dough onto baking pan, letting the edges hang off.

Fill the pie with the filling.

Roll out the second portion of dough and carefully place over filled pie.  Brush edge of pie with egg white wash then fold over and pinch edge slightly to seal shut.

Cut a 1-inch vent into pie.

Brush egg white wash onto top of pie. Line a baking sheet with foil, place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You're not going to believe how many cookie recipe links...

My uncle sent me this a couple of years ago; these links direct you to a different cite - it's so fun.  What he did was gone on ahead and hyper linked each recipe so all you had to do was just click and go.  A real time-saver.  I've tested a few of these, and they are absolutely amazing (my family loves the Peanut Butter Blossoms).  Happy baking!