Friday, December 30, 2011

Occupy: a Lamentation

I have been watching and following the Occupy movement in America this fall and even participated a couple of times in my home town activities.  I have been thinking more of this lately and have been troubled by the criticism that the movement doesn't have a clear goal - a single message.  The criticism didn't resonated as valid with me but I couldn't articulate why.  

I think I have finally figured out why this objection to the movement didn't work for me.  It appears to me that we are in the early stages of protest - we are still in the lament.  Before anything is changed one must recognize that there is a problem.  Before you go to the doctor you must acknowledge the pain.  I am no theologian but I am a spiritual person and I recognized that I had heard this refrain before.  It finally registered for me that this is much like what the Hebrews expressed in the Book of Lamentations.
Lamentations 1:11 (NIV)

11 All her people groan 
   as they search for bread; 
they barter their treasures for food 
   to keep themselves alive. 
Look, LORD, and consider, 
   for I am despised.”

It would appear that we are just now starting to vocalize the lament and declaring the pain that so many of us are experiencing.  This is the necessary first step to change.

It is only by coming together in our pain and suffering that we will be able to move on to the next step of change - correction.  We don't know for sure where that next step will take us but we are starting to realize that the step must be taken.  

This is why I can support the Occupy Movement even when so many want to dismiss it because there is no clear, sound bite message.  "No direction, no plan" is the argument.  Well, there is a clear message - our people are in pain.  Too many of our people are being left behind as this country of ours moves forward and I cannot accept that.  I cannot accept that people are without jobs when companies are showing record cash surpluses.  I cannot accept that people who have worked all of their lives and contributed to their  retirement plans and paid their Social Security taxes for 40 and 50 years are being told that their will be nothing for them when their time comes.

We are living in very difficult times for our country and for all of us on this planet.  I don't claim to have the answers - I must leave that to greater minds, but I do know that we must do something.  That is what the Occupy protests are saying to me.  That is the message.

My hope and my prayer is that the voices will be heard and action will be taken.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ron Paul wins the student mock election in Polk County, IA

Kudos to the Polk County Auditor for this opportunity to teach our children how the voting process works.  Here are the "official results" of the Mock Election held at area high schools last week.

Looks like Ron Paul could have a very strong showing on January 3rd in the real caucus.  I also see that Obama would beat all of the Republican contenders in a head to head.  In the past this could be a good indicator of what the parents are thinking.  I wonder if it will hold true this year.

Mock High School Election
Friday, December 16, 2011
RESULTS AS OF: 12/16/2011 4:07:20 PM
Select Contest or Candidate for Precinct Voting Details

Candidate NameVotes
Michele Bachmann867( 12.94%)
Newt Gingrich595(  8.88%)
Ron Paul2101( 31.35%)
Rick Perry1384( 20.65%)
Mitt Romney1504( 22.44%)
Rick Santorum250(  3.73%)

Candidate NameVotes
Barack Obama4404( 67.14%)
Michele Bachmann2155( 32.86%)

Candidate NameVotes
Barack Obama4106( 64.01%)
Newt Gingrich2309( 35.99%)

Candidate NameVotes
Barack Obama3396( 52.23%)
Ron Paul3106( 47.77%)

Candidate NameVotes
Barack Obama3749( 58.27%)
Rick Perry2685( 41.73%)

Candidate NameVotes
Barack Obama3526( 54.83%)
Mitt Romney2905( 45.17%)

Candidate NameVotes
Barack Obama4202( 66.23%)
Rick Santorum2143( 33.77%)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Homes for the Holidays

Each year, just before Christmas, Slumberland teams up with local social service agencies to give out beds to children in need.  This morning I had the honor of helping load out 80 sets to go to homes in the Des Moines area.

We teamed up with LSI to find the homes and Knights of Columbus did the deliveries.  We met at the Ankeny store and all shared a pancake breakfast donated by IHOP.  This truly is a community effort.

Eighty children received a new mattress, foundation and frame.  For most, if not all, this will be their first new bed.  For some, if past years experience holds true, this will be their first bed.  Over the years I have heard many stories of children who had been sleeping on the floor on a pile of blankets or maybe they could have the sofa.  To know that you have a bed to go home to shouldn't be a luxury but unfortunately for all too many this is the case.  I'm glad to be a part of putting a dent in that in our neck of the woods.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Lunch time in Rural Iowa

Carharts and John Deere caps, these people obviously work for a living.  This scene was in the Lincoln Cafe in Belle Plaine, IA but it was repeated all over the state.  This is life in rural America.

These are real people living their lives.  I just sat in the corner and watched and listened.

There were the construction workers filling up on the "all-you-can eat" Walleye special.

"You want another plate of fish there, honey?"  "Nah.  I guess I've had enough.  I could come back about 2 for more though."  "Your welcome to darlin', but you know you'll have to pay for it again."

There is the man who joined his wife, young daughter and mother.  "I don't have much time", is his greeting.  "That's okay," replys his wife, "I've already ordered your lunch."  And as if on cue the waitress comes to the table with his burger and fries.  It only took a few minutes for his little daughter to find her way onto his lap to be greeted with a hug.  "You gonna go to the basketball game tonight and watch Sissy play?  Grandma can't go so you can cheer in her place."  "Yea, but you won't be as loud as Grandma", chimes in the mother.  "Hey",  Grandma rises to her defence, " I've gotten better.  But the game has changed from my day.  You couldn't push and shove when I played.  You couldn't even touch the other player."  "Yea, and you only went half court"  Sounds like Grandma played in the days of 6 player girls rules.  Three in the back court and three in the front court.  So here we have a table of three generations of girls basketball.

Girls basketball is very popular in Iowa and has been for generations.  In many schools I dare say it out draws the boy's game.  The Girl's State Basketball Tournament (and I capitalise it out of respect) is an annual event in this state.  Whole towns will shut down and make the caravan trip to Des Moines to see their team play.

On the other side of the room two couples of retired farmers are enjoying their lunch and talking of the weather and the corn prices (the two topics dearest to an Iowa farmers heart).  It's mild for mid-November and they don't mind too much.  It's easier on the bones.  But they really need some snow to protect the fields from the wind and to provide the moisture for next years crop.  It seems like farmers are never entirely happy about much of anything.  But maybe the price of corn.  This year's harvest may not have been a record but the prices were darn close.  In all it was a good year for most of them.

This is small town Iowa.  These people work hard.  They are not the one percent.


Friday, October 14, 2011

I joined in the Occupy Iowa demonstration today.

Occupy Des Moines moved to the Bank of America building downtown, today. I went down this afternoon to join in. There were about 30 people there. This is the first time I have gone down there to join in the action. I was impressed by the diversity. These weren't just hippies and students. These were plain old normal people.

Here are a couple of photos of the demonstration. I was standing with a small group on the adjacent corner. While I was there we had a number of cars drive by and honk in support. Even the trolley driver rang his bell quit loudly in support. I didn't hear or see anyone that had an openly negative response - just support or calmly going by without any display.

I was struck by the image of the protesters standing in front of the bank building and having the empty shops at street level with "For Lease" signs in the windows.

I have read many articles and opinions about what is going on with these demonstrations.  The common criticism is that there is no clear demand so there isn't really anything going here.  I think those people are missing the point.  I think what is going on is that there is a growing number of plain old people who are finally internalizing the fact that we are in deep trouble in America.  We know that times are tough, and that many companies are struggling and many people are unemployed.  We have been waiting for the government to respond and make things better.  And it isn't happening.  Reality is setting in.  America is in trouble and there isn't an easy fix.  So there isn't a single slogan.  There isn't a single message because there isn't a clear path out.  But, also, the normal Joe like me looks at the news and looks around and I don't see that anything is even being tried.  For me the message is,
"please, can we get to work doing something?".

My traditional close for these posts comes from the days when I first started writing in 1972.  Back then the message was clear - we wanted to end the war in Viet Nam.  Today we are at war again, and that would be good to bring our soldiers home.  But we are also at war with ourselves, and for that I continue my prayer for. . .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Wednesday

It is Wednesday night again and this week the Rev did the cooking for Wednesday Night on the Hill.  Four different versions of her egg strata.  We served about 25 people tonight and it looks like the sausage and mushroom version was the winner.

The ham dish was a hit and so was the turkey. Looks like the veggie tray was a unique taste.

We are settling into a small but regular group that comes together to share a meal.  Now we need to see if we can help it grow this winter.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Night on the Hill

We kicked off Wednesday Night on the Hill. The Rev asked me to cook burgers and brats for the meal, again.

Now for those who don't understand - the Rev started Wednesday Night on the Hill last fall as a way to bring more of the congregation together outside of Sunday morning. We have a meal and then people can go off to the various groups and meetings or just come for the meal and then go on with their lives. But the youth groups meet, the choir has their practice and various committees are encourage to meet on Wednesday.

I grilled burgers and brats last year for the kick-off so I got to do it again. This year I wanted to do something a little special so I went to Penzeys Spices to see what I could find. I told the man at the spice shop that I was cooking burgers for the church and I asked, "What can I do to make those burgers special?" He smiled and said come with me. He took me to their "Chicago Steak Seasoning". This a blend of salt, Tellicherry black pepper, sugar, garlic, onion, lemon peel and hickory smoke flavor. Wow, was he right on. All I really did was sprinkle the burgers and let them set for a couple of hours before I grilled them and they were great. Last year everyone ate the brats and hot dogs, but this year the burgers flew out the door. I only had 4 burgers left over and a dozen brats. Nobody even touched the dogs.

I have a lot of fun cooking this meal. Last year I got to do it about once a month. I hope to do the same this year but if more people step up and want to cook, I'll definitely let them in. I have to do it at least once more though because I have been tweaking my meat loaf recipe. Last year I served meatloaf and tator tots and everyone loved it. But this year I will have a secret ingredient, Penzeys English Prime Rib Rub. I've tried this twice now at home and it makes great meatloaf. I'll share how it goes when the time comes.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Patty Pan Squash

Well look what we found in our CSA box this week.  That is a patty pan squash at the top sitting next to what I'm pretty sure is a Zephyr squash.  Those are both summer squashes and very tasty.  Then, could that be 2 kinds of eggplant or maybe just one type that has grown differently.  I'm thinking it is two varieties.  And then I saw the first muskmelon of the year.  I can't wait to cut that open.  Each fall the trucks come up from Muscatine in the southern part of Iowa full of melons.  But this one was grown locally.

We continue to get more garlic, carrots and peppers.  The Rev isn't big on garlic and was wondering what we would be able to do with all of them, but I assured her we could put them downstairs and they would last all winter.  I think we can probably do the same with the carrots.

I'm not sure how many more boxes we are going to be getting, it's getting late in our season but this has been a fun ride this summer.  We haven't talked it over yet, but I will be voting to do this again next year.

Enjoy the last days of summer and welcome autumn - the best time of the year.  Here it comes.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

We are home and it is done. The celebration...

We are home and it is done. The celebration of a life lived very well.

The funeral for Flo was this morning in Belle Plaine. Last night was the viewing.
I made it through last night and was doing fine today.
I choked up a little when Christy read her poem to end the funeral service - but I was okay.
Then when 16 members of the local American Legion saluted as they passed the casket to leave the church, that got to me as well - but I was okay.
I was one of the pallbearers and as we carried her casket from the church to the hearse, passing through those 16 soldiers saluting her again, I almost lost my composure - but I was okay.
We went out for the graveside service and listened to the ministers final words and I was okay.
But then they gave her a 21 gun salute and as the bugler started to play taps, Max started to cry. It was as if that gave us all permission to let go because it wasn't just me but several around me just started to bawl.

Flo was a remarkable woman. I knew that but I didn't realize how many other lives she had touched in that small community.

Go in peace my friend.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Buddy Hackett

Buddy Hackett would have been 87 today.

Here is a clip from the Tonight Show with Buddy just being Buddy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This is an amazing video of a robotic bird...

This is an amazing video of a robotic bird. Thanks to TED for sharing this work. How a bird flies has fascinated us for centuries. I am inspired by these people who have made a working machine to copy a bird's flight.

And if you haven't discovered TED yet - check it out, it is worth your time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I was introduced to a new liquor tonight...

I was introduced to a new liquor tonight. It is called Sheridan's. It is a combination of a coffee and whiskey mixture on one side of the bottle with the other side of the bottle containing cream. It comes from Dublin. Apparently it is not available in the US but you can get it in the duty free shops on a cruise ship. The Rev and I were at a dinner tonight and our hosts brought this out. Very nice. This is Bailey's kicked up a notch. 15.5% alcohol so not tremendously potent - but very tasty.

We had a great evening of good steaks and fine wines. Very nice.

Just hangin out with Christy. We just put...

Just hangin out with Christy. We just put a pot roast on the stove to slow cook and Christy fixed up a salad. Cucumbers and tomatoes from her garden with a peach balsamic vinaigrette.
View or comment on Dave Sundberg's post »

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Carrots, potatoes and eggplant. . . Oh my.

Carrots, potatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumber, garlic, beets, onion, tomatoes.  That is the CSA box this week.  I decided to take a picture of the whole box this week.

Oh and I forgot to mention the eggs, but they are actually an addition to our weekly box.  Rick at Small Potatoes has been disappointed with the production of his fields this year.  He sent an email to us today apologizing for the meager harvests.  This summer has been tough with torrential rains drowning the young plants followed by hail storms beating them up, and then intense record heat drying them out and baking the soil into pavement.  But I don't think he needs to apologize.  It has been more than enough for the Rev and I.  In fact we have had to work at keeping up.  What a problem - having to force ourselves to eat fresh, delicious, and healthful organic produce each and every day.

It has felt a little strange as I zip right past the produce department at HyVee each week as I do my shopping.  There really isn't much more to get in that area.  Just bread, a little meat, milk and butter from the dairy department and beverages is all I need and I'm good.

I have to add that I discovered a spice shop in our neighborhood and have added fresh spices to the pantry.  Penzys is the shop and although I just found them this past week, I am very impressed with my initial choices.  I think I may become a regular at that shop.

Well it looks like we are getting a break from the intense heat and just going to settle into our normal hot August weather for a few days.  That will be nice.

Enjoy the state fair.  Peace.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Garlic and Summer Squash this week

Carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, beets and summer squash were featured in our CSA box this week.  Fresh basil and parsley joined a couple of chilli peppers to round it out.  I fixed the squash for dinner tonight and it was delicious.  I can't wait to use the garlic.

I picked up a trick from my daughter over the weekend that I am going to try - she roasts her beets and then stores them in the refrigerator to use later.  She said to roast them in their skins and then the skins come right off.  I have to try this.

The Rev and I are eating mostly vegetables now this summer.  Tonight dinner consisted of potatoes, squash, carrots and wax beans.  Some of the fresh parsley on the beans and squash made for a very nice (and filling) meal.  We didn't even miss not having any meat.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not becoming a vegetarian, but when the veggies are this fresh, it is hard not to pig out on them.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dark Red Norland potatoes

Check this out.  Our CSA box last Friday was great.  I already have a pan of potatoes, zuchinni, and carrots ready for the grill when I remembered I needed a picture for this site. 

Dark Red Norland potatoes were the featured item this week.  The first potatoes of the season.  They were small, firm and tasted wonderful.  All I did was sprinkle some olive oil on the veggies in that pan and seasoned them with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Roast them on the grill and you are good to go.

We also found a beautiful onion, a small eggplant, and three beets.  I haven't sliced the beets yet but I think at least one of them is a striped beet.  I've never had those before so I'm looking forward to that.  I will probably just slice them up and boil them, at least the first time.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feeling Good

If you haven't seen this already, you are in for a treat.  This is from the Clark Retirement community in Michigan.

 Who says we can't have fun.


Friday, July 01, 2011

CSA comes through again

It is Friday and another box from Small Potatoes Farm (CSA).  The snow peas, kohlrabi, bok choy and lettuce are continuing to look good.  This week added a bunch of radishes and a carton of raspberries.  The Rev grabbed the berries as soon as we got home and gave them a very positive review.  Some of the snow peas and some bok choy went into the wok for dinner.  I do enjoy that combination.

Half the year is gone.  I hope you have a pleasant Independence Day week-end celebration.


Friday, June 24, 2011

This week's CSA box looks good

Look at this from our CSA, Small Potatoes Farm.  This is what was in the box today.  Bok choy, kohlrabi, romaine lettuce, snow peas and collard greens.  I can't wait for the Rev to get home so I can make a stir fry with the snow peas and bok choy - she will love it. 

I will use the lettuce in my sandwiches this week.  I even got turkey and a couple of tomatoes at the store just to set it up.  And I'm starting to become a fan of the greens.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I took on the kale

Here it is Thursday and I still haven't tried the red Russian kale from last week's box, so tonight was the night.  I decided on a simple sauté. 

First I fried four slices of bacon and took that out to drain on paper towels.  I probably didn't need four slices of bacon, but hey - is it possible to have too much bacon?  Really?  Then into the pan went the kale along with some garlic scapes, spring onion and some sliced mushrooms.  The only seasoning was some kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  I let that all sauté in the bacon grease until the mushrooms and the onion were done and let that be my guide.  I finished the dish with a sprinkle of red wine vinegar and served it over steamed white rice.

I must say, I was very pleased.  This is a dish I could serve to guests.  I wondered about the kale - what it would be like.  I think it was done - it sure tasted good.  It had a very solid, chewy texture, almost leathery but not tough.  It just didn't have the mushy texture that I was expecting given how it looked in the pan.  I was expecting that mushy texture that you can get with a green like spinach but the kale definitely held up well to the pan.  Of course I sort of cheated here - you really can't go wrong cooking with bacon fat.  I will do this again.

Rumor has it that the CSA box tomorrow will include more snow peas and will also bring young broccoli and maybe even some bok choy and kohlrabi.  Looks like there will be more stir fry on the menu next week.

We are officially in summer on the calendar but someone forgot to get Mother Nature the memo.  Barely into the 60's today and tomorrow won't be much better.  Oh well, we still have July and August to go through.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Snow Peas and Parsley - CSA comes through

It's Friday and time for another box from the CSA farm.  In addition to those great eggs I keep telling you about - look what arrived today.  Red Russian kale , lettuce , snow peas and parsley.

handful of the snow peas already went into the skillet tonight along with some bok choy for a stir-fry.  The Rev was very pleased and so was I.

The lettuce looks wonderful and I'm sure is destined for salads and maybe I can even steal some for sandwiches for work next week.  I'm also sure I can find a use for the parsley - can you imagine using fresh parsley that was just harvested this morning?  Oh my, how fresh can you get?

Now, what to do with kale?  I'm not sure what to do with that.  I did buy some bacon at the store today - maybe I can fry up some bacon and saute the kale in the bacon fat, then crumble the bacon on top.  I wonder how that might work?  I'll have to try that this weekend.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Collard Greens and Garlic Scapes

We got a shipment of early produce from the Small Potatoes Farm today.  Eggs - yes, asparagus - yummy, leaf lettuce - the Rev was looking forward to that,.  .  . and then I found collard greens and garlic scapes - what in the world is this???

I'm a Minnesota Swede, what do I know from greens and scapes?  Oh well, let's try this out.  Off to the web to look for recipes.  I found out that garlic scapes were the green tops of garlic plants.  Apparently they have a mild garlic flavor.  Collard greens are in the cabbage family and very popular in southern cooking.  I could find all sorts of recipes for greens and in the southern style almost all included something like ham hocks or the sort.  Well, I don't have ham hocks and I'm not really into that so I kept looking.  Then I found a Bobby Flay recipe for sauteed kale (those are greens also).  Olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic and finish it with vinegar.  Now this is more my speed.  And if this has garlic in it already I'll bet I can include the scapes.

So off I went creating my first batch of sauteed greens.  I coarse chopped the collards and the scapes and threw them in the pan.  Served as a side dish with panko coated chicken breast and a small baked potato - dinner was on the table in no time.  The Rev and I agree, the greens were a hit, the best part of the meal.  They had a great, fresh taste, no over powering garlic flavor and the vinegar finish just accented the greens. 

I think I am going to like this arrangement with the CSA farm.  I can't wait for more of the vegetables that I am used to eating but in the mean time, I'm learning to enjoy some "greens" that otherwise I probably would have never tried.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Hubert Humphrey

On this day in 1911 a great statesman was born, Hubert Humphrey. He was raised in a small town in South Dakota and came to prominence as a senator from Minnesota. The "Happy Warrior" was a politician that probably wouldn't have fit in well in this congress. He was known for his ability to work both sides of the aisle and to get things accomplished. But most of all he cared about the people of America.

This is a quote from a speech he gave in 1948. Too bad we can't hear him today:

“We have forgotten that we are our brother's keeper, we have forgotten about each other. We are the victims of neglect, we've neglected cities and farms and people, the children and the elderly, and we have had as a measure of our success that those who already have too much will get some more, that's right, rather than those that have too little shall get enough. And the real test of a progressive, a liberal, and the real test, if you please, of a man of spirit, of faith is that he sees to it that those who have little get enough.”

Hubert H. Humphrey May 27, 1911 - Jan 13, 1978

Rick Perlstein in the New York Times says it better than I ever could.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Too Close to Home

Joplin, Missouri may be 350 miles from our parsonage in Central Iowa but the devastation brought by that tornado last night has hit too close to home.  In my email in-box this morning was a message from a colleague in Wichita, KS that the Slumberland store in Joplin was destroyed.  Fortunately all of our staff and their families are safe.

So then I get home and I find a report from the UM Reporter that one of our UMC churches was destroyed and another badly damaged.  Fortunately, they are also reporting that all of the UMC pastors and their families are safe.  As of this writing on Monday night, the death count is reported as “116 and rising”.  I am thankful that all of my “associates” are safe but I can’t help but feel that dull pain in my heart for what has happened in Joplin.

At least for now, all we can do is pray for those fine people.  Individuals and volunteer teams are urged not to self deploy at this time. Only professional emergency responders are being allowed to enter the damaged zone. There will be a large number of volunteer opportunities available after the area is secured.  I’m can’t speak for the Rev but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a special offering next Sunday.  Nor would I be shocked to hear that the mission trip this summer has been rerouted to Missouri.

Our prayers are with the people of Joplin, MO tonight.  May God look over them and bring them . . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harmon Killebrew died today

Harmon Killebrew died today.

A legend of my youth died today. Every kid who played baseball in my neighborhood wanted to be Harmon Killebrew. He was the greatest in our minds. Growing up in Minnesota and even later in South Dakota. Killebrew was our idol. We all wished we could hit a baseball like him.

Good bye sir, you will be missed.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

My $5 Rice Cooker

So here’s the story. Two weeks ago our church had a garage sale to raise money for the youth mission trip. Of course the Rev had to go and she dragged me along. (Well, maybe dragged isn’t fair - I went along). She bought some toys for the new grandson and a rack of bins to store them in. But I found an old rice cooker - $5.
Now I’ve never had a rice cooker before, if fact I’m not sure I even knew they existed. But what the heck, I like rice and I like the idea of a new toy. So I bought it.
It is a Zojirushi model NHS-18. Now you have to understand that I knew nothing about rice cookers when I bought this thing so this is a learning curve. Well, it didn’t have the manual or anything else so the first thing I did was go on-line and I’ll be darned if Zojirushi doesn’t have a great website and I could download the manual.
So I’m off and running making my first batch. The manual says to use 2 cups of rice and fill the pan up to the “2“ mark with water. So that is what I did for my first batch. It came out hard and under done. What the hey? Then I discovered that a “cup” for a rice cooker is actually 3/4 cup in normal measures. I also found that various sites suggested a ratio of 1 part rice to 1.5 or 2 parts water. Okay, I can do that.
So the second batch has two - 3/4 cup portions and I very carefully measured three - 3/4 cup portions of water. This time the water was up to the “2“ mark on the pan and I’m thinking I’ve got it right. Nope - the rice is better but still not done tender and fluffy.
The third night I got it closer to right. I put in two (3/4 cup) portions of rice and four portions of water. This came out pretty good. The rice was still a little sticky but very tender and a great flavor.
I have to say I really like this idea now of cooking rice in this cooker. You just put in the the rice and the water and walk away. The cooker does everything. This thing is great. You just push down on the “cook” lever and when the rice is done it pops up to the warming setting and holds the rice until you are ready to serve it. That makes it very easy to just put on the rice then go outside to grill the steaks and then serve everything when you come in.
So tonight it was time to actually do a meal in the cooker. I did get a steamer tray with the cooker and the manual said I could steam things like vegetables and shrimp. So tonight I tried shrimp. I picked up a new bag of rice and a pound of fresh shrimp at the store today and tried it out. This was so easy. I put 2 measures of rice and 4 measures of water in the bottom and put the shrimp on top in the steaming tray. Put on the lid, pushed the lever down to cook and let it do it’s thing. Thirty minutes later I had cooked rice and shrimp steamed to perfection. It was glorious. I chopped up some bok choy and sautéed that with some Kikoman teriyaki sauce added the shrimp and I had a great meal.
I am hooked on this cooker. I still don’t have the rice perfect but it is very good. I also picked up some brown rice to experiment with. All of the web sites say that is harder with this model of cooker but I’m going to play with it. I’ll let you know how it goes.
We have been getting some nice spring weather finally - Enjoy and. . .

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Don't forget the Easter Egg hunt on the church lawn after the first service.

(Yes, that is sarcasm).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

UltimateBet domain seized by the FBI

As you may know, this site started as a place to report on the weekly private poker tournament called "Holdem Affair" hosted by  Go back in my post histories and you will be able to read about our regular Saturday night adventures.  We were the first, private, invitation only online tournament back in the day when playing online was legal in the US.

I haven't played for about 3 years and I'm not sure that the Holdem Affair is even still going on.  But for sure it isn't anymore.  The FBI has sized the sites of the three major online poker sites.  UB is one of them.  Here is the story

Just for fun I tried to go to and this is what I found:

I guess I don't really agree with what our government is doing here.  I know that for some, online gambling is a problem.  But for those of us in the Holdem Affair, it was a social event.  I don't think the $5 buy-in was a strain for anyone and it was a great way to make friends from all over the world.  How else am I going to meet someone from Sweden or the Mariana Islands?  Well, I guess I have to officially say good-bye to Guran and Taipan as well as Marti in Texas and all of the others that I called friends.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paul Simon: The Afterlife

It has been a long time since I have wanted to buy a song but I heard this on the music at our store of all things and couldn't get it out of my head.  Paul Simon has done it again.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wednesday Night on the Hill

It was a meat and potatoes night at Walnut Hills Wednesday night.  I love cooking for the church family and last night I went with comfort food.  Meatloaf and Tater Tots.  It was a hit.

Here is the recipe that I used - "Meatloaf for 50".  It was very easy and tasted great.  Then I threw in 2 packages (5 lbs. each) of tater tots as my side dish.  The oven did most of the work and I got the credit.  I love those deals.  I'm getting this reputation as this great cook.  If they only knew.

But really, this is what fellowship is all about as far as I am concerned.  Sitting down and sharing a meal - there is little better.

As it seems the world gets crazier and crazier, it is good to share a good meal with friends.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Farm Fresh Eggs

No, I'm not rushing the season.  That is not a collection of Easter Eggs.  I just got back from picking up our fresh eggs.  The Rev and I have bought a share in "Small Potatoes CSA", a local farm.  This will be our first experience with the concept of CSA - Community Supported Agriculture - and we are looking forward to enjoying the produce this summer.

What you see in the picture is the first benefit of this collaboration, fresh eggs.  These are from real chickens that run free on the farm.  They are not housed in a barn and crammed together.  And they are from different breeds thus the different colors.  I get a kick out of that alone but let me tell you, these eggs are good.  This is actually our second batch and the first batch has me eating eggs again.

I don't know if it is just because these eggs are so fresh or if it is because the chickens are allowed to run free, but I am convinced that they taste different.  The flavor is richer and the texture is smoother than any store-bought eggs I have eaten.  These eggs actually have me getting up earlier in the morning so I have time to fix a couple for breakfast.  And that, folks, is saying something.  Anyone who knows Sunbob knows I am NOT a morning person.  For years my morning routine was to sleep as late as possible, give myself just enough time to fix a strong cup of coffee, then rush off to get to work.  This morning I got up early even though I had the day off from the store.

I have read on other web-sites that the way to test an egg's freshness is to put it in water.  A fresh egg will lay flat on the bottom.  As the egg ages the air pocket in the egg gets bigger and the large end of the egg starts to raise up.  Older eggs will actually stand on end in the water.  The eggs are still good to eat but they are getting to the end of their shelf life.  If the egg floats to the surface it is time to throw it out.

Well, you know me, I had to test these eggs.  I tested two of them and they laid perfectly flat on the bottom of the glass.  Just to be sure of this test, I took a couple of the eggs from our first batch that have been in the refrigerator for two weeks and tested them.  Both of those eggs were starting to lift and rested at about a 45 degree angle on the bottom.  I haven't tested any store bought eggs so I'm not saying anything about them.

As I said earlier, the Rev and I are looking forward to this summer.  We will be getting periodic shipments of fresh produce from the farm as the crops are harvested.  I really don't know much about the concept of CSA but we will be learning this summer.  The basic idea is that you buy a share of the output of the farm.  You share the harvest and you share the risks.  Here is a link that says it better.  I will try to post about our experience this summer.