Archive for October, 2009

Edu-Smarts

eBay Books 001   Work hard in school and get a good education.  Good students are not nerds or geeks!  They are the future; you want to be part of that.  (1) 

I believe in telling your children from early on that advanced education is necessary to succeed in life.  It isn’t necessarily college.  It can be a trade school or classes that will help you advance in the field you are interested in.  Those “pieces of paper” do count.  (2)

Be curious and ask a lot of questions.  Learn about things that may not be within your usual areas of interest.  This is the definitive example of thinking outside the box.  If someone says “no” to a reasonable question, ask them why.  (2)

Read to your children at a very early age and encourage much reading, as most of your education stems from reading.  (44)

 

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October 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

Fall Fiesta

stuffed baked squash 001   When a mostly cloudy week starts to dribble over into the weekend, then gets blasted aside by a burst of midday sunshine beaming down onto vibrant late-turning leaves, it’s time for a celebration.  We invite our Hispanic friends over for dinner, set up a centerpiece of gathered cattails, and put some Corona Extras on ice.  While I am not about to compete with the marvelous cooking skills of our El Salvadoran and Mexican acquaintances, a touch of spiciness does seem in order for this spread.  

Thus, a menu of Baked Chicken, Chorizo Stuffed Acorn Squash, our old standby Roasted Potato Wedges (see 8/28/09), crispy golden Corn Sticks, Tossed Vegetable Salad, and a colorful, glistening bowl of Cubed Fruit.  For a sweet finish, I found a lovely Creme de Menthe Cheesecake on the Land O’ Lakes website, which I of course tweaked just a tiny bit and which was a perfect way to end the evening on a high note.  No clouds over this fiesta night.  (more…)

October 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

The Wounded Healer

Blue hills  It is 1962.  The Cuban missile crisis has thousands sitting on the edges of their seats, anti-apartheidist Nelson Mandela is jailed in South Africa, and a baby named Suzanne is born in a Midwestern U.S. capital.  The nation’s children are not yet being exposed to an amoral, uncensored media blitzkrieg, but American society is on the threshold of an aggressive assault on traditional beliefs.

Meanwhile, Suzanne’s family is being led in a different direction.  Her older brother becomes a believer and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school, and Suzanne, at age nine, finds herself moved by Billy Graham television specials.  Their changing hearts reflect a process that, “went beyond religion.  God was pursuing our family.  Looking back on the family’s history, you can clearly see it,” she explains. 

Suzanne’s 1980 graduation from high school is accompanied by a growing passion to do mission work, and a sense of urgency inspires her to finish her education quickly, without amassing an ocean of debt.  A three-year program in biblical studies that allows her to attend classes at night and work during the day fits the bill.  And things do hasten along, with graduation followed closely by marriage, the birth of her first child, and a call to India. (more…)

October 19, 2009 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

Ah, The Smell of Cinnamon in the Air

stuffed baked apples 003  Okay.  So I’ve moaned about getting our first snow a month before usual.  I’ve also griped about missing out on the beautiful spectrum of autumn colors that usually precedes that first snow fall.  And the morning of this writing, I look out my study window to see a low, heavy blanket of gray clouds which seems to be threatening me personally,  “You’d better quit whining or we’ll really let loose with something for you to complain about.”  

So, I’m turning over that proverbial new leaf – as in flipping pages in a book, not as in making a bad pun about those poor, tired green bits of foliage still hanging limply from every tree limb in sight:  I decide to stop whining and instead search my larder for ways to bring a little snap and color to the dinner table.  With a rather ordinary main dish such as Glazed Baked Ham, I opt for a lively mix of  Stir Fried Pea Pods with Yellow Peppers and Jicama, some Roasted Russets and Sweet Potatoes, a  pan of warm Cheddar Spoon Bread, and a serendipitous version of Over-Stuffed Baked Apples for dessert.  Fall colors may be fickle, but fall flavors have never been more reliable. (more…)

October 18, 2009 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Fall Falls Short

   

Well, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration...

Well, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration...

I lied.  But another brief whine is surely to be excused when an October 10th sunrise brings snow cover and the thumping of still-green leaves to the pavement in frosty clumps.  Ah; and just last week I noted here a hint of color, still hopeful that it would blossom into a the full-blown palette of golds and oranges and burgundies that we gratefully accept as our annual compensation for what lies ahead. 

The experts explain that erratic temperatures and not enough rain perplexes indigenous foliage – and indigenous folks as well, I would add.  But we bounce back by diving into the glories of cold weather cooking.  Tonight, let’s start with Squash Soup followed by a small Roasted Turkey, Roasted Potatoes and Root Vegetables, a little sunshine in the form of  Mango Avocado Salsa, a little color in the form of Raw Broccoli Flowerets, and a big loaf of Pumpkin Seed Bread with Spiced Orange Butter. 

For those indulging in dessert, I recommend a visit to http://www.taste.com.au for their lovely Banana and Date Custard recipe.  Otherwise, a cup of guilt-free Choco-Coffee of my own devising makes for a tummy-warming treat when there’s a winter bite to the air.   (more…)

October 10, 2009 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment

Attitude and Perspective – III

Sunset   Maintain enthusiasm for life by holding high moral values, being true to your religious faith, and focusing on all the advantages you have enjoyed:  be thankful to God that you were born in America, and for the many friendships you enjoy.  (13) 

Respect the right of others to have differing viewpoints.  Teamwork is an integral part of many aspects of life, and compromise and give and take are one way we learn from others.  (23) 

Approach life as an educational pilgrimage, and don’t waste time on things that aren’t edifying or enhancing.  (53)

Worry about pleasing God, not man.  The bonus will be that the worthy among your peers will respond well to your efforts, which will help you sift out those you don’t want to hang around with!  (53) 

Always keep your sense of humor.  As it turns out, laughter is the best remedy for many of the trying circumstances you’ll encounter; a habit of  looking at the lighter side of life will help get you through those tough times.    (23)

October 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Whole Wheat Pasta: It’s Come a Long Way, Baby

   fresh peaches 001   I’ll indulge just briefly in a short whine about once again leap-frogging from summer into winter, with only a four-day stretch of fall between “85 and humid” and “blustery wintry winds.”  That done, I am grateful that – sandwiched between ultra-chilly mornings and frigid nights – we did enjoy a few glorious chunks of glistening autumn at its colorful and sun-drenched best.

Perhaps it’s that same unfortunate tendency to dramatize the negative that brings to mind images of gummy blobs, almost unrecognizable as comestibles, when I think back to my first encounters with whole wheat pasta years ago.   (Which further reminds me of Felix Unger describing his first day as Oscar Madison’s roommate in The Odd Couple television series:  “When I got here, you were huddled in the corner eating gray spaghetti with a pair of tweezers.”  But I digress.) 

However tainted my recollections of the early days of whole grain pasta may be, the significant point is that the current crop of products in that line are so vastly improved that I now prefer them over the semolina varieties in most cases.  And with the chill in the air leading to robust appetites, we have the perfect context for simmering stews, satisfying soups, crumb-crusted casseroles, and piles of pasta.  My appetite led me toward a simple concoction with a complicated name, and a re-purposing of a few old classics, Jambalaya and Paella, as Shrimp and Ham Jambalaella Pasta.  Trust me; it works. 

Add a basic Tossed Salad, a few slabs of Crusty Whole Grain Ciabatta Bread if you’re so inclined, and a plate of Stuffed Grilled Peaches.  Follow the instructions below, and I can virtually promise you a positive spin to your day.  (more…)

October 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment


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