Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tastes Like Chicken ... Or Not

I've been home with a cold today, pathetically feeling sorry for myself, surrounded by tissues, good books, laptop, iphone, water, crossword puzzle books, and cough drops.

In order to redeem my self indulgent day, I'll post this recipe I fixed last night.  It is from the glycemic index cookbook.  I made it as a salad on the side.  And I doubled it, so we'd have plenty.  It was really good, and it is a great salsa salad today!  Even through the numbed taste buds, this is yummy.

If you were making this with the recipe book, you would cut all quantities in half and serve it with grilled chicken. But it is really good by itself, so go for it!

1 cup corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 ripe medium avocado, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 Tbs lime juice (about 2 limes worth)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp chili powder

Combine all the ingredients, stir, and serve.  It's better if you can let it sit a while.

Be smart using the jalapeno pepper.  I always use gloves when I seed and cut them.

I wish I knew how to make an nye with this blogger screen.  Pardon my bad Spanish.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Believe In Miracles

Yesterday my son and I spent the morning at the National Naval Medical Center as he underwent a food challenge to determine whether he could now, for the first time since he was 3 years old, safely eat peanut butter.

You see, when he was three he ingested peanuts, with some mixed nuts, at a pre-Thanksgiving gathering at some friends' home.  He had enjoyed peanut butter before that, so we had no reason to be suspicious.  What followed was a very scary anaphylactic reaction that sent him to the hospital.

So for over ten years, we've monitored his food, read every label, always carried at least one epi-pen, and known the location of the nearest hospital.

He has always wanted to go to the Air Force Academy, and fly jets, and up until recently, food allergies were a bar to any candidate for the service academies.  In meetings with his allergist, we learned that USMA and USNA now allow food allergies with a waiver under certain circumstances.  That was good news, but not the news he wanted to hear.  USAFA still considers all food allergies a bar.

But his doctor also explained that the allergy community recommends that if a child has not had a reaction in a long time, it is worth re-testing for the numbers, and if they're low enough, to do a food challenge.  The blood test showed his numbers were within the acceptable margins.

So after four hours of ingesting more and more peanut butter yesterday, the doctor declared him no longer allergic to peanuts.  We still have some tree nuts ahead of us to conquer (we'll do that in January next year), but a HUGE step forward.

Now, why is this a miracle?  Because what nearly killed him when he was three is no longer a threat. I am convinced that God healed him. God may have used the natural processes of my son's body to grow him and change the chemistry so that this would occur, but who made my son's body?  Who created those processes?  It was still GOD, and still GOD's timing. This marvelous series of events that occur in our body every day are not the result of some random accident that happened in prehistory. They are carefully orchestrated in each one of us to show us who God is, and how much He loves us.

There is no mystery about Him - He and His work are all around us every day.  From the

Evening in Hawaii by my friend Thom

to the 
mountains in Colorado

to the

first daffodil in my yard

and on around the world. 

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; 
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; 
   night after night they reveal knowledge. 
3 They have no speech, they use no words; 
   no sound is heard from them. 
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, 
   their words to the ends of the world. 

Psalm 19


Monday, March 21, 2011

Wrong Time of Year?

Our family loves turkey. We especially love it in the "off-season" which it is easier to find smaller turkeys and often less expensive ones!  Plus, since I'm fixing it just for us, I don't have to add all the extra stuff that turns holiday meals into orgies of self-indulgence.

I fixed a 12lb turkey the traditional way.  The first night we ate turkey off the bone with vegetables (sadly, to my daughter's dismay, I did NOT make candied sweet potatoes).  After the meal I harvested every bit of usable turkey for leftovers and then rescued the carcass for turkey frame broth (more on that later).

This is what I made the second day:


1 1/2 cups peeled diced sweet potatoes
2 cups broccoli florets or 1 10oz pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed (watch for modification on this)
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 to 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground allspice
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tsp all purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten with 1 Tbs water

Put the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan.  Add water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook, covered for 4 minutes.  Add the [broccoli] and onions to the pan and cook, covered, for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.  Drain well.  Turn the vegetable mixture into a shallow oval or square 2 quart baking dish.  Stir in the turkey and parsley.

Using the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the cornstarch, rosemary, pepper and allspice.  Gradually stir in the chicken broth and wine and continue to cook, stirring, until thickened.  Pour the sauce over the turkey mixture in the baking dish and stir gently to combine.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the pie crust, sprinkling it with the flour, to the size that will fit over the filled baking dish.  Trim the edges and press the pastry around the edges of the dish.  Cut a slash in the center of the crust as a steam vent.  Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

Put the dish on a baking sheet [very important detail] and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let the pie stand for 5 minutes before serving.


I didn't have any broccoli and it just didn't sound all that great anyway, so I used chopped mushrooms, sauteing them a little to start them softening, but not making them limp and icky.  I used the pearl onions, but in the future will use a different kind because of all the comments.  Truth be told, they weren't that appealing visually or texturally.  So I'll probably chop up some sweet onion in future.

I didn't have any rosemary so I used poultry seasoning.  Worked just fine.

Here are before and after photos:

Here you can see that this FILLS the large quiche dish.
A pie plate would have worked, but been overstuffed!

Yum...want a slice?

Soon, I'll get back to low glycemic.  Just don't want to think that hard right now.  Some things going on in our schedules that make cooking by the seat of my pants a much easier prospect at present!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beautiful Illustrations

One of my jobs at the Friends of the Library is to take photos of some of the donations that are too fragile to display during the sale.  I stopped by Thursday to do so, and found some incredible magazines and newspapers. My disclaimer here is that I am NOT a professional photographer, and my purpose was just to shoot something that we could display on our blog and at the sale.  But having apologized for MY bad shots, I think you'll agree that these are exquisite!

Do you see that date?  1909!

The Delineator was a pattern company book. A good seamstress could use the drawings to fashion a gown.

Some of these fashions have made a return for young girls!

Pretentious Poochie with grand dames?

The small label near the title is the mailing label!

Our Friends group is selling all of these.  They're not in perfect condition, but they're a real find for someone who loves fashion design.  If you know anyone interested, direct them to my blog and I'll connect them with our person in charge of this type of thing!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To Fail or Not to Fail

One of our children is currently flirting with failing a class.  The child is capable, and moreover, the parents and teacher are all willing and able to help, but the child is pushing everyone away.

Both of my children are hard-headed and often refuse to be teachable. I'm pretty sure this is a result of bad parenting, but it is where we are now.  So how do we go forward?

Yes, we can hire a tutor. Yes, we have taken away electronics of any kind. Yes, we are willing to take away extracurricular activities such as the sport the child plays and the scout and youth group activities.

I'm wondering if letting the child fail the class will solve the problem or make it worse.  Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quilldancing Assignment #3

From Quilly:

The photo is of the main character.
The tale must include
a four leaf clover
a golden key

Publish, then link to Quilly.  Easy. Cheap. Worth Doing.

The Golden Key
Punkin batted at the sparkly little fly moving about in the pasture. It wouldn’t hold still and she wasn’t quite coordinated enough to capture it. Then, all of a sudden, there it was, attached to her finger!

Amazed, Punkin lifted her hand up to her face and peered at the little creature. What she had thought was a little flying insect was actually a fairy!

This fairy had its rose colored arms and lovely aqua legs wrapped as tightly as possible around Punkin’s pinky. Punkin moved her hand closer to her face to examine her prize in detail. She could see that the fairy’s wings were translucent, hinting at the colors of sunrise. She could also see that the fairy’s eyes were tightly shut and tiny fairy tears were squeezing out below sparkly pink lashes.

Punkin whispered, “Don’t cry. I won’t hurt you. I was trying to find a four leaf clover so I could wish on it. I thought I saw one but you kept getting in the way.”

The fairy opened one eye to peer at the child. “Why do you need a four leaf clover?”

Punkin looked askance at the fairy, “To make a wish, of course.”

Opening her other eye, the fairy asked, “What kind of wish do you want to make?”

Punkin giggled, “I want to wish for the golden key to open the piano.”

The fairy’s eyes widened with curiosity. “The piano?”

Punkin continued. “Mommy says the piano is locked until the cows come home, and I can’t play it until I find the golden key.”

The fairy relaxed and smiled, with both eyes open. “Ah, yes, I think I remember your mommy exclaiming very loudly the other night that the cows were never coming home and you’d have to sing without the piano.”

Punkin looked sad. “Yes,” she agreed.

The fairy laughed out loud. “Do you know how to make a letter “C”?” she asked. 

With her other hand, Punkin drew one in the air.  It took form and shimmered with gold sparkly iridescence.  “Is that the golden key?” the little girl asked. The fairy nodded smiling and then pointed behind the little girl. “Look!”

Punkin turned to see that the cows were indeed coming back to the pasture. Delighted, she lifted the fairy high into the air and said, “Fly away! I can go play now!” She ran towards the house beyond the fence, circumventing the cows easily.

The fairy hovered for a moment, watching the golden C fade. “At least,” she said to herself, “now it will actually sound as much like music to her mother as it does to her.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Provocative Photo

I came across these today while scanning family photos.  Somehow I've ended up being the archivist for all the branches.  My dad was quite the genealogist so he saved every photo. His grandmother was one of 3 sisters and they had one brother.  Each received their own copy of whatever photo was taken.  So when my great grandmother died, she had "inherited" all the copies of all the photos.  Sometimes I'm scanning and I think, "I've already scanned this!" and I have...more than once, usually!

At any rate, here is one that I found particularly provocative today! The young man is my great grandfather.  This looks so "Little Rascals", doesn't it?  No one still alive knows who the little girl is.  Tell me what you think the REAL story is!

This next photo is a tribute photo.  I had run across it before but never realized who she was.  If you remember reading my story in response to Quilly's Prompt, this is the lady in that story.  The part about skating wasn't true, but the rest of it was.  This is Annie Wallace. I think she looks kind.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Call This Journalism?

Years ago one of my duties as a JAG (judge advocate) was to review incident reports.  Over time I developed an appreciation (?!) for how police jargon trumps good sense.  There were many mornings where my soul felt a certain pathos (mixed with hysterical laughter) on behalf of the "buildings found insecure"  during the 24 hours prior to my coming on duty.

But the Washington Post is our local paper and although it leans to the left it's usually pretty good about stupid headlines and bad grammar.  However, it has a local insert for our area of Northern Virginia on Thursdays. Usually I just ignore it but today I had a few minutes of down time that wasn't a long enough stretch to accomplish anything meaningful so I perused what passes for a local paper.

At the risk of offending all of you animal lovers (and yes, I love animals too), I offer here two "news items" that made me laugh out loud.

Dead cat found:  Orchard St., NW, 500 block, 1:18 p.m., Feb 28.  An animal control officer picked up a dead cat but couldn't find its owner.  The cat was taken to the County Animal Shelter, where it will remain for seven days.

Why? Does it owe some taxes and can't be disposed of until it pays up?

Raccoon tested:  Seabrook Lane, 7400 block, 3:50 p.m., Feb 26.  Animal control officers, responding to a report of a raccoon attacking people, sent the animal for rabies testing.  An animal control officers was contaminated by fluid from the raccoon.

Why can't we just say the raccoon peed all over the guy?  Perhaps the raccoon knew what rabies testing involves for the raccoon!

Farewell Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Dana at Bug's Eye View hosts Thankful Thursday.  I'm thankful for her doing so.  I finally got my act together this week to participate!

I spent the day yesterday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A friend's daughter was having corrective surgery, and I didn't want my friend sitting there alone (she is a widow). (p.s. the surgery went well).

While we were there waiting, we walked around the buildings.  The old part of the hospital, dating back to the early part of the 20th century, has flashes of brilliance and beauty. The entire post is being closed as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's recommendations; I hope there's some kind of historical future for the old part.  They have a 'doomsday' clock showing the days, hours, minutes and seconds. When I noticed it, it was showing 189 days.  At that time, they will close WRAMC and the personnel and salvageable equipment will move to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) complex in Bethesda, which will then become Walter Reed Military District of Washington.  Joint will be the word of the day.

In that section, the walls are covered with large photos. The earliest date to World War I. The main theme of the photos is Presidents and celebrities visiting the troops, starting with Woodrow Wilson. There are also old warrior photos -- General of the Army George C. Pershing lived at WRAMC until he died, in a special suite built and designed for him. It was interesting to see many of these early artifacts of the hospital's existence, mostly because when it was built, those who funded it and supported thought, that those WWI veterans would be the last users of the facilities.  This is photo of a monument in the wall of the command section.  It used to be a fountain, and was placed by the Ladies of the Red Cross Volunteers.  Note the sentiment in the close-up.

Wishful thinking, fervent hope?

For being 189 days away from closure, this was one VERY BUSY place.  I saw family members of all shapes, sizes and colors. I saw wounded warriors moving around the hospital getting the care they need. And I saw medical personnel dedicated to the mission of taking care of the wounded as well as the families of those who serve.

I didn't see any photos of the current president visiting troops. Hmmm...maybe they're saving them to put up at the new location.

So this is my Thankful Thursday blog. I am thankful for a nation that remembers and honors and cares for those from who it asks such sacrifice. I am the granddaughter, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, of warriors, and have served in the military myself. I am thankful for all those who went before me, for those serving today, and those who will serve in the future. Words are not enough.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Would I Change?

I have a dear friend whose son is autistic. When he was diagnosed, she, the hard-charging career woman engineer thought, "we can fix this" and began a search for answers and solutions.
As time went on and she found there were no medicines to take, no cures to institute, she cried out to God, "Why?" He was her only child; she had such hopes and dreams for him.
My friend descended into the pit of despair, mourning what would never be for her child or for her.

It was there that she could finally hear a persistent voice. In her rushing around searching for a fix she had suppressed the voice that was calling to her. It said, "do you trust me?" It was her Savior. He had been calling all along, but her ears had not been ready to hear.
And in her grief, she laid down her self-determination and grabbed onto that voice like a drowning woman. And her life was changed FOREVER. Her grief in loss was converted to dancing and JOY.

That was nearly 17 years ago. By the measure of earthly standards, her life has not changed.

Her son is still autistic. And while she and her husband have gratefully accepted the assistance of school, church and the medical community to craft environments in which her son can thrive, he isn't "fixed", and will never live the kind of life that every parent of a newborn envisions for their child.

But she says she would not change her son's autism, even now. 

As the rest of us with teens are helping them learn to drive and prepare for college, she smiles and cheers for and LOVES our children. 

But she says she would not change her son's autism because it was through the journey with her son that she truly began a relationship with her Savior. And it is through the continuing relationship with her son that she continues to see the face and heart of Jesus.

My friend is still the dynamic, full speed ahead person that she was but her focus is different. She is, in many ways, like Paul of the Bible. She is so confident and sure of her Savior's love for her, that she doesn't waste a lot of time on the petty annoyances of life. Her deepest desire is no longer to "fix" her son, but to "fix" everyone else up with Jesus.

She wants to be the embodiment of the verse in 2 Peter in which God says he wants everyone to have the opportunity to hear His word, and come to repentance.  (The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.) My friend will give you a verse to get over your self-pity and self-doubt in the drop of a hat.

And sometimes that confidence really irritates people. But it's the kind of confidence that Paul had when he stated, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

The Gospel IS irritating. It is that voice that calls us to look hard at our lives and see whether there's anything about them that is of true, lasting significance.  And if you find out that there's a hole there, or a still soft voice calling your name, and you don't know what to do about it, e-mail me. There's so much more to life than what you're living now.