Monday, November 30, 2009

Yet another food search

From time to time I'll post about a food product that I like that has gone missing. This time it's Hershey's Raspberry Chocolate chips. These aren't anything that I ever would have bought--I don't even like Hershey's chocolate--except a neighbor made some cookies for me that included these chips, and I was hooked on the recipe. Since only one store locally stocked them, I bought several packages for convenience. I used the last package last year.

So I started looking for them in preparation for my Christmas cookie making, only to discover that Hershey apparently no longer makes them, and hasn't for a couple of years.

So, I think what I'm going to try to do is find a dark chocolate raspberry candy bar that I could "chip." Any suggestions?

Beef & Black Bean Burritos

For my curious friends on Facebook. This is one of my easy, relatively cheap things to make for dinner, especially when I have a freezer full of beef:

In the crockpot or dutch oven:

Approx 2 lb. beef roast (tonight it's a rump, because that's what Jonathan found on the top in the freezer)
Big can black beans, juice and all (I may add more after I see how it looks)
Chopped onions (I'm out of fresh, so today they're dehydrated, to equal one medium onion)
1 can green chiles
Salt
Pepper
1t. cumin
1/4 t. coriander
couple of squeezes of lime juice
clove of garlic, garlic pressed

This will cook on low all day. When I get home around 3:00, I'll taste test and may add some more spices. I'll let you know. Shred the beef and smoosh the beans a little. This is good on flour or corn tortillas, with or without cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, etc. I like avocado with it. You can always stretch the beef with more beans. The boys will add some sort of hot sauce to theirs. I'll probably make some rice to go with it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stuffed

Yesterday I did a big chunk of the cooking for our family Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's house. Usually I am her assistant, but she was supposed to spend more time sitting this year. So, using her list and timetable, I ran the kitchen. Kind of. Because, of course, she was never farther than the kitchen table. And she was up and down like a jack-in-the-box. But I did get to make the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. I asked her to come out and make the gravy, because I make it so rarely that I didn't want to ruin it for 20 people. There is also no way that I could have gotten it all done without Bethany and Patrick. Patrick helped me core apples for my stewed apples the night before. He cleaned and arranged the veggies on the veggie tray and peeled 10 lbs of potatoes. Bethany made the fruit salad and helped me with the dressing. (I toss it with my hands, so she was pouring the hot butter & chicken broth on while I tossed it.) She also set and decorated the tables.

Everything was so good. My niece Kate made pumpkin pie and my step-sister Susan made her awesome sugar cream pie. I had to have a sliver of each.

For posterity's sake this was our menu:

Before dinner:
Smoked oysters, cheese, crackers
Veggies & dip
Pistachios

Dinner:
Turkey
Jane's Awesome Stuffing (Thank you Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Mom's Sweet Potatoes
Noodles
Green Beans
Cinnamon Stewed Apples
Broccoli Salad
Cole Slaw with Grandma's boiled dressing
Fruit Salad
Cranberry Salad
Cucumbers & Onions
Canned Cranberry Sauce for Wicked
Pickles
Spiced Apple Rings
Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Peach Pie
Sugar Cream Pie
Brownies
Various wines
Iced Tea
Lemonade
Coffee
Pop
Cider

Nothing exciting or exotic, just lots of good homemade food. And I am stuffed. I never eat that much on Thanksgiving, because I am so busy. And usually we go shopping on the Friday after--not Black Friday bargain shopping--leisurely shopping at the nice mall that has Nordstrom, and Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn, and Anthropologie, and cool local shops, and the Cheesecake Factory. But today we stayed at mom's and mostly relaxed. And we ate leftovers. I ate much more today than I did yesterday.

So I am stuffed. And so is my fridge, because mom sent the leftovers home with me. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a turkey carcass.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anticipation

Today it hit me: It's almost Thanksgiving. That led to the exciting realization that it's almost Advent. (Really, doing the Thanksgiving and Advent I bulletins was a clue.) And that of course, made me realize that it's getting closer to Christmas.

I love Christmas.

For a number of years, when we were living away from our families, Christmas lost its sparkle. It was stressful. It was a hassle. We had to pack up our kids and the presents, suffer hours in nearly stopped Chicago traffic, arrive at my mom's late at night. We would spend a couple of days racing from relative to relative, never getting to see enough of anyone and seemingly never able to please everyone. I'm not sure how many years we went without going to a good Christmas Eve service. We would return to Chicagoland tired and cranky.

When we moved to Fort Wayne, I was determined to recapture Christmas, both for me and for our kids. The Christmases of my childhood and teen years sparkled in my memory, and I wanted to reclaim that joy. So I searched back through the memories and realized that through the years the family gatherings happened, gifts were given and received, and things changed as things do. But there was one anchor: church on Christmas Eve, mostly at my grandparents' church in Decatur. It is the standout element of my Christmas memories over the years. And this was what had gone missing.

Not that we had left the true celebration of Christmas behind. We hadn't. We attended Advent services and did our Advent Calendar. We always tried to go to church somewhere on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The kids knew WHY we were celebrating. And yet, it was not the centerpiece. It was squeezed in.

Not anymore. As much as I loved Christmas before, I love it even more now. We made the decision to build our Christmas plans around the services at church. Whatever our extended families have going on, we are going to be at Redeemer on Christmas Eve early so that the acolytes and choir members in the family can get ready for the service. Then we will have beautiful music, and candles, and poinsettias, and a fantastic sermon and the Holy Communion in our beautiful church surrounded by our church family. And, in spite of the fact that we are seldom asleep before 2:00 a.m., we are up for the Christmas service the next morning. As a bonus, we can continue the Christ-mass for the entire twelve days, with services each morning. And that is our Christmas. Everything else is extra.

And it is back. I love Christmas again.

Now that that's out of my system, I'll enjoy Thanksgiving and Advent, and the anticipation of the coming Feast.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The end

One of my favorite things about doing the bulletins is that I have the hymns for the upcoming Sunday in my head all week. So, for this the Last Sunday of the Church Year, this hymn has been keeping me company all week.

Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying
By: Philipp Nicolai

"Wake, awake, for night is flying."
The watchmen on the heights are crying;
"Awake, Jerusalem, arise!"
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices:
"Where are the virgins, pure and wise?
The bridegroom comes, awake!
Your lamps with gladness take!
Alleluia! With bridal care
And faith’s bold prayer,
To meet the bridegroom, come, prepare!"

Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And in her heart new joy is springing.
She wakes, she rises from her gloom.
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her star’s arising light has come!
"Now come, O blessed one,
Lord Jesus, God’s own Son.
Hail! Hosanna! We answer all
In joy your call,
We follow to the wedding hall."

Now let all the heavens adore you,
Let saints and angels sing before you
With harp and cymbals’ clearest tone.
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where, joining with the choir immortal,
We gather round your radiant throne.
No eye has seen that light,
No ear the echoed might Of your glory;
Yet there shall we
In your victory
Sing shouts of praise eternally!

Hymn # 177 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Philipp Nicolai
Tune: Wachet Auf
1st Published in: 1599

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The dangers of blog redos

There are some nasty people in internet land.

I decided that rather than downloading a pre-made template I would change my layout html and then try to find a cute background. In my search, I clicked on a google search result, and ended up with a trojan horse and a virus. I had a number of things going on on my computer at that time, so it took me a while to figure out what was happening.

I cannot fathom what makes someone want to embed a virus in what appears to be an innocuous, even helpful site. I tend to be a very un-trusting internet used, so the fact that this happened to me makes me realize how easy it is for someone to get a virus.

Anyway, be careful out there.

Watch for falling plaster

I'm redecorating. It is in process. I've saved my old template in case I can't make it work. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ready for a makeover

I think it's about time for a blog makeover. I've wanted to update my links and blogroll for a while, and I'm feeling motivated to try a new look. I'm nervous about going outside Blogger for a template, but I probably will because I want something different.

Any suggestions? What have you done? Any mistakes I should avoid?

Will a public option play fair?

You really think a public option will mean fair competition?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Stupid? Selfish? Greedy?

These are some of the characterizations I have read of people opposed to the health care bill that the congress passed last night. We'll call it PelosiCare, or PC for short, to differentiate between it in specific and health care reform (HCR) in general.

I am sure that there are some people who are against PC who deserve these descriptors. I am also certain that there are some on the other side who do also. But, in spite of the mouth-foaming rhetoric coming from many on the left, being against PC does not equate to wanting people to "just die quickly."

Far from stupidity, what informs many opponents of PC are an understanding of economics and a fidelity to principles that is frequently written off as partisanship. But is it "partisan" to question the constitutionality of a requirement that people buy a product? Is it stupid to wonder how a government that always adds layers of cost, fraud, and bureaucracy to everything they do can claim they will save us money? When did health insurance become a right?

As to charges of selfishness and greed, I am sure that I am not alone in thinking there is something horrifyingly greedy in a mass of people who are continually demanding to be given more, more, MORE--money for their house, cash for their clunker, "free" health care--from the government, from Obama (yes, really!) I heard a caller to a local radio show last week say that he didn't like the PC bill because it was going to make him buy insurance. He wanted the FREE health care that he believed the Democrats had promised him. Who's the greedy one?

I am against PC. I am not against HCR. I think that the alternative plan presented by the house Republicans had many common sense provisions that would have helped to solve current problems, some of which have been caused by government intervention in the system. In spite of the rhetoric from the other side, we have the highest quality health care in the world. If I believed that the system set up under PC would make our system better I would not be so opposed to it, but I believe it will hurt millions more people than it helps and will very likely finish wrecking our economy. It will take away freedom to chose the kind of plan you want--all plans must conform to an as yet undecided government template, so people like us who choose a combination of a higher deductible, lower cost plan and a pre-tax health savings account will no longer have that option. It will force all Americans to buy insurance under threat of fine or imprisonment.

I could write pages on what is wrong with this plan philosophically, morally, economically, and practically. But others have written these pieces, and this isn't primarily about the bill. It is about the negative, nasty characterizations of those who oppose it by those who support it. I know many wonderful, generous people who think that PC is wrong. I would gladly compare our family's charitable giving head-to-head against any liberal I know. I would be willing to bet that we give a higher percentage of our income to charity than any of them. And we are not alone in that. Being willing to tax other people and give away their money isn't generosity; but I can think of a few other names for it.

Friday, November 06, 2009