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Monday, January 15, 2018


A few weeks ago when I was going through the recipes that I had cut from my magazines, I came across one for beer braised short ribs.  It sounded good so I bought a small package when I went to the supermarket.

Today I decided to make them.  I checked and rechecked the recipe and found that I didn't have all the necessary ingredients on hand.  Thanks to my experiences at Cooking By the Book, I have the confidence to make substitutions.

I only had 1 1/4 lbs of short ribs instead of the 3 lbs called for, but that's not unusual, I often halve a recipe.  If I didn't, I'd be eating the same meal for days and days.  Then I discovered that I didn't have any potatoes on hand.  Oh well, I'm not fond of potatoes anyway.  I started browning the short ribs and peeling the carrots.  Instead of the two carrots called for, I used five, after all I didn't have any potatoes.  I always have onions in the refrigerator, but since I was halving the recipe, I used one onion instead of the two called for.  Of course, I didn't have any stout beer on hand, so I used a can of light beer.

I put the browned meat and the carrots, onions, beer and 14 oz. of beef stock into the slow cooker on high for five hours.  After an hour, I decided that it looked a lot like soup, so I added 1/4 cup of barley.

At dinner time, I opened some wine.  My philosophy is that I must have a glass of a favorite wine whenever I'm trying a new recipe.  That way, if the recipe turns out badly (as some have in the past), I'll still have something enjoyable.

It turned out to be a good soup.  Since there wasn't much meat on the bones, I ate the whole thing for dinner and I really didn't need the wine, but I did drink it.  It was good too.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Burnie - 2002-2018

It’s almost 16 years since a frisky yet cute black and white kitten saw the open door of my home when my son was going out.  This kitten wanted a good home, so he simply walked in.  And stayed.  He stayed until my son died and I sold the house and took him and Crash to live with me.

We had some interesting times Crash and Burn and I.  Crash is a princess and Burn or Burnie was just Burnie.  If there was mischief to be found,  Burnie found it.  There were some things he could never seem to learn.  It is much easier to jump onto the seat of a chair than it is to claw your way up the back of the chair and jump into the seat from the top.  Ladders are for people, not cats.

One day shortly after I moved into this house., I expected a furniture delivery.  I made sure both cats were locked up before I opened the door.  I knew they were safe, but after the delivery, Burnie was nowhere to be found.  I looked all over for him, even walked around the block searching for him.  Hours later, I heard several faint “meows”.  I followed the sound and discovered that he had opened the door under the sink and probably went to sleep.  When he woke up, he couldn’t open the door and was calling for help.

His last few years were filled with doctor and hospital visits.  He was diagnosed with diabetes and a year or two later cured.  It seems that cats have an ability to reverse diabetes.  Then, a growth was discovered in his bladder.  It didn’t pose a problem for a while except that he stopped using the litter box, an annoying habit that I tried unsuccessfully to break.  The last few months he grew weaker as the cancer grew stronger.  This past month, he began having several bouts of bleeding.

Even though I knew that he would never get better, I kept postponing this day.  I am pro-life, I didn’t want to “pull the plug” on him.  This weekend I accepted the fact that his illness was taking over.  He moped around the house and yesterday didn’t eat.  After much back and forth with myself, I made the decision I kept putting off.

This morning I took him to the vet to be euthanized.  In true Burnie spirit, he went out kicking and screaming.  This cat who didn’t seem to mind twice a day shots of insulin objected loudly when the doctor tried to administer the medication.  He also protested when she gave him a sedative.  As the sedative was taking effect, he did his “about to throw up” howl and proceeded to return the little bit of food he had eaten today.  At that point, I decided to leave.  I’d rather remember his fighting spirit.

I’m so glad he walked into the house that day and I’m doubly glad that I decided to take him a few years after that.  We had some wonderful times, lots of laughs, especially when we would bury him in wrapping paper on Christmas morning, or when he would chase the sound of the geese when they flew over the house, or when he would be looking out the window waiting for me to return from an errand or trip.  He also liked to “help” me with the Christmas lights.  I rewarded his help by dressing him for Christmas.  

He gave me as much love as I gave him.  He had a better life than any stray cat could hope for.  He was a character.   He was a lovable cat.  I have had several cats over the last 50 years, but I never had such a lovable and curious cat. 

He will be missed. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Snow Day

We had a little snow today, about 12 inches.  It really is very pretty and I think it will be around for a while.

The snow and the idea of being housebound for a few days brought out the cook in me.  The first thing I did was get a box of bread mix for my bread machine.  I always use a mix, yeast and I don't get along.  It never rises for me.

Then I got a pork chop out of the freezer.  I  bought a package of them from Costco about three months ago.  They are wonderful, so thick and juicy.  While there I saw a package of cubed butternut squash which I have been wanting to roast.

Then I got out my cookbook and found a recipe for a squash bake.  It looked easy enough and surprisingly I had all the necessary ingredients on hand.  I decided it would make a good side dish.

Whenever I try a new recipe, I have to have a glass of wine with my dinner.  This way, if the new dish is a disaster, at least I have something good with my dinner.  Tonight though, I didn't have my wine.  Leading up to Christmas I had lost 25 pounds and found one since Christmas.  I found that when I drink wine, my weight is up the next day and I'm trying to lose that one pound and several more.  Fortunately, my squash bake was delicious and I didn't need my wine.

It was a wonderful dinner.  Everything worked out well and I didn't even miss my wine.  The water was just fine.

I enjoyed my day.  I even sorted through the recipes I took from magazines in hopes of making them someday.  I made a list of planned dishes and a shopping list for the ingredients I don't have on hand.

I just love snowy days.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

I'm a little slow and unorganized this Christmas season.  My excuse?  There really is no good excuse except that I took a short trip to the Christmas Markets in Germany earlier this month (more about that in the new year).  I put off most of my decorating until I returned so I was about a week and a half behind.

I tried to fit decorating the trees, baking cookies and writing cards into 2 1/2 weeks.  It didn't work.  I only managed to bake two batches of cookies.  I plan to do more later this week.  Instead of my usual four trees, I only did three trees.  I know, it's a bit much, but I love, love, love Christmas and seeing a tree when I come in the front door is, I think, very welcoming.  I have the regular tree in my sunroom and trees in each of my bedrooms.  It's so nice when I go to be and the tree is all lit up.

Unfortunately, I never got around to sending my good wishes to all my friends.  To anyone reading this, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy Kwanza and to all a Happy New Year.  I promise to do a better job next year.

Monday, November 6, 2017

When Will It End?

Yesterday's massacre in Texas has again started the gun debate.  They can't even let the living mourn and bury their dead before blaming the tool used and not the user of that tool.

Many people are giving their opinion, so I might as well give mine.  The Las Vegas massacre, the West Side Terror Attack and now the Texas massacre all seem to have one root problem.  There is no respect for life, human or animal. 

We live in a disposable world.  Inconvenient pregnancy - abort, terminal illness - pull the plug or assisted suicide,  child misbehaving - punish/beat/starve to eliminate the problem, family disagreement - kill who you disagree with, sick pet - put it down.  Life has been put on the same level as machinery - car giving you problems - junk it, computer running slow - get rid of it.

I have a theory about the lack of respect for life, but it will never be proven because it is not politically correct to do any studies on it.  I feel it all started in January 1970.  That was when the Supreme Court decided it was OK to kill an inconvenient or ill baby because the pregnant woman did not want a child. 

We hear all to often about child abuse, elder abuse and now mass killings.  Where will it all end.  How many more will die because so many people won't respect the life of family members, neighbors, unborn children, churchgoers, etc.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Retail Problems

I've worked in many fields over the years, but the most exciting job I had was on Wall Street.  Maybe it's because I'm fascinated with money and how it's made.  While everyone else is watching Kelly Ripa or Today, I'm tuned to the business channel.  I have to witness the market opening.

For the last several months, the commentators have been putting Sears and J.C. Penny on a "death watch".  It has become the "retail ice age".  Amazon is king.

As I listen to this, I can't help but think that the management of both Sears and Penny are regretting the day they decided to eliminate the catalog.  For many years, people of all ages looked forward to receiving the seasonal catalogs.

When my boys were young, I did most of my shopping from the catalog.  In fact, I had a neighbor whose wealthy parents bought her anything she wanted for herself and her daughter.  One day, she asked me where I bought my sons' clothes, they were so cute.  I surprised her by saying, "Sears".  They had the best styles and clothes and they wore very well.

I firmly believe that if Sears and Penny had not discontinued their catalogs, they would be giving Amazon a run for their money, instead of being on a "death watch".  I will be sorry to see them go.

Gad, I miss those catalogs.  The Christmas catalog would be arriving about now.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Second Amendment

I just saw an article stating that Michael Moore has suggested that the Second Amendment to our Constitution be repealed and replaced by the 28th Amendment which would severely restrict the ability to buy and own guns while prioritizing public safety from gun violence.

While we are in the process of repealing the Second Amendment, maybe we should look at some of the other amendments and repeal them, or change them.

Let's start with the First Amendment and make it illegal to criticize or make fun of the president.  We should also make it illegal to burn our flag or gather to protest perceived offenses by the government.

We could also change the Fourth Amendment and make it legal to search or seize a person's property without a duly authorized warrant.

How about changing the Fifth Amendment that would allow a person to be tried for the same crime if the prosecution does not agree with the finding of a properly selected jury.

You can see how these amendments could be changed to adapt to the mood of certain segments of our population.  The original Bill of Rights was added to our constitution after much deliberation by the Founding Fathers to ensure that we would continue to be governed by rational thought and not the emotion of the moment or whims of any president or congress or political party..