A Song to Sing, A Life to Live

A Song to Sing, A Life to Live (cover image)

A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice by Don Saliers and Emily Saliers (2005) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Book review by Lucinda DeWitt

An inspiring book about music and its ability to stir our souls. Beginning with their own stories as musicians (Emily as half of the folk-duo the Indigo Girls, Don as a well known church musician and theologian), the father-daughter Saliers explore music as a spiritual practice. Their discussion/conversation includes: the bodily and sensory experience of music, music across the lifespan, how music can bring us together as well as divide us, how music shapes our identity, music’s role in grieving, and music’s role in work for social justice. The spiritual aspect of music is woven throughout these topics; different perspectives on spirituality are included.

I truly enjoyed this book. It reminded me why I still consider myself a musician (though I rarely play anymore). I’m inspired to rediscover my own “songline,” the story of who I am as revealed through the music I love.

My only criticism is that sometimes the flow of the writing is uneven, but that is to be expected when two rather different perspectives and voices try to join together. Each individual voice is strong, but together their differences sometimes impinge on the harmony. Still, all in all, the underlying message of the song comes through.

My favorite quotation from the book: “whenever music touches us deeply, the potential for transformation exists. What we think and what we perceive about the world and about ourselves can change. What music calls to your restless heart? Where in music does your soul encounter an aspect of reality that shatters your complacency or your fear?” (p. 174-175)

Strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2010 Lucinda DeWitt

Bacon, Swiss Cheese, and Artichoke Heart Quiche

Bacon, Swiss Cheese, and Artichoke Heart Quiche

Made this quiche a few weeks ago.  It was SPECTACULAR, PERFECT!!

Started with a pie crust recipe I hadn’t tried before (Pate Brisee from the old Silver Palate Cookbook). Also pre-baked the crust for 10 minutes before adding fillings.  Don’t know why I’ve always skipped that step (laziness probably).  Made all the difference in the world.  The crust was perfect, no soggy bottom.


  • 1 pie crust (store bought, your favorite, or use Pie Crust/Pate Brisee recipe here)
  • 8-16 oz. bacon, fried until crisp (I like to cook mine in a cast iron frying pan in a 375°F oven.  Takes longer, 30 minutes or more, but never burns and you only need to turn it once.)
  • 1 cup shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped into small pieces
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream (or cream/half&half/milk combination)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika to dust


Preheat oven to 400°F.  If you have a pizza stone, preheat that too.

Prebake the pie crust for 10 minutes in a 400° oven.  (see Pie Crust/Pate Brisee recipe for details on how to do prevent the crust from puffing up)  Allow to cool slightly before adding filling.

Turn oven down to 350°F.

Place pie pan on foil-lined cookie sheet.  The foil is to catch spills and to fold up over the crust if it starts getting too brown.

Sprinkle half of the cheese over the partially cooled pie crust.  Add bacon and artichoke hearts, distributing evenly.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Whisk together the eggs and cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over filling ingredients.  The pie plate should be full, but leave some room for everything to expand (and so that you don’t slop it all over as you transfer it into the oven).

Bake at 350°F for 50-65 minutes.  Check custard by inserting a knife into the center to see if it comes out clean.  If the crust gets too brown before the custard is done, fold the foil up over the edge.

Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before cutting.


Note: Quiche recipes range from 3-6 eggs and from 1-1/2 to 2 cups of cream.  Much depends on the size of your pie plate.  Mine is large (10″ pyrex).  If yours is smaller, adjust the egg/cream mixture accordingly.

Copyright © 2010, Lucinda DeWitt

Caesar Salad

I LOVE Caesar Salad.  But authentic Caesar Dressing includes raw or coddled eggs, so I never tried to make it.  I often buy Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar Dressing, but really prefer to make dressings from scratch.  This “Caesar-style” dressing really fits the bill.  Nice taste and texture. And egg-free!

Caesar-style Salad Dressing

adapted from a recipe from Ley Clifton in the Penzey’s Spices catalog, Spring 2010, p. 37

1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbls. Dijon-style mustard
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbls. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder (optional)
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbls. Penzey’s Italian Herb Mix (or your own blend of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the fresher, the better)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.  Blend well, taste, and add more spices as desired.  Toss with bite-size pieces of romaine lettuce.  Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

(For more details and notes, consult the separate recipe page.)


Chicken Flautas and Enchiladas

Over the weekend I discovered in the freezer a container labeled “Red Enchilada Sauce, March 2010” and realized that I had neglected to post some of the recipes I made during Lent.  Part of my cutting back on food expenses during Lent involved using what I already had in the freezer and pantry.  One thing I had was cooked diced turkey from a winter turkey roast.  This recipe is a great way to use leftover turkey or chicken.  It works with either light or dark meat.

I’m also trying a new format for posting the recipes.  I’ll be including them within the post (which makes them easier to find via search), but will still include them on separate permanent pages as well (which makes them easier to print without all of my commentary).  The links to the separate printable recipe pages appear in the column on the right and on the Recipe Index page.

Chicken Filling for Flautas or Enchiladas

(could probably use in burritos too!)


2-3 cups cooked, diced chicken (see note below)
3 Tbls oil, plus more for frying (if making flautas)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
1-2 jalapeños, minced (or 1 large spoonful of canned diced jalapeños, NOT the pickled kind)
1/2 to 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper, to taste
tortillas (see note below)

If making enchiladas you will also need Red Enchilada Sauce (recipe below), shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack or colbyjack), and anything else you like to put in or on enchiladas (lettuce, avocado, black olives).


Saute onion in 3 Tbls oil in large pan.  Add chicken and saute.  Add remaining ingredients except tortillas.  Cook over low-medium heat until everything is combined nicely and most of the liquid has evaporated.  (If you are going to be frying flautas you will want the filling nearly dry.  For enchiladas or burritos you can leave it more moist.) Remove from heat.

Soften tortillas by (1) warming briefly, 30 seconds a side, in a dry, hot frying pan or (2) dipping briefly, 5-10 seconds, in hot frying oil or (3) wrapping in foil and placing in a warm oven for 10-15 minutes or (4) wrapping in damp paper towels and heating in the microwave on high for 60 seconds.  Everyone has their thoughts/preferences on the best way to soften tortillas. The purpose is to make them easier to roll without breaking or tearing. If they are REALLY fresh, you may be able to skip this step altogether.

For flautas: Roll heaping Tbls. of chicken into each softened tortilla.  Close with toothpick. Fry 2 at a time in hot oil for approximately 90 seconds (or until lightly golden brown).  Drain on paper towels.  Enjoy!  I love these dipped in Chile con Queso (gringo/cheaters recipe below), but salsa and sour cream would work as well.

For enchiladas: Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place a thin layer of red enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.  Spoon 1-2 heaping Tbls. of filling onto a tortilla.  Add cheese (if desired).  Roll and place seam side down in baking dish.  Continue with remaining filling and tortillas.  Once they are all in the baking dish, pour some red enchilada sauce over them (how much depends on how dry/wet you like them).  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake a few minutes more until cheese is nicely melted.  Serve with rice and beans if desired.

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, blend 2 Tbls shortening with 2 Tbls flour. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup chili powder until oil is absorbed.  Slowly add 2 cups liquid (water or broth or tomato juice or tomato sauce or a combination).  Salt to taste.  Simmer 20 minutes.  See note below about chili powder vs. ground chili peppers.

Easy Chile con Queso

Yes, the secret ingredient for an easy creamy chile con queso is Velveeta.  It really does make a wonderful cheese sauce . . . You can try this with “real” cheese, but you will need to be very careful about keeping it at just the right temperature so that the oil doesn’t separate out from the cheese curds . . .

1/2 cup butter
1 small/medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour (Wondra works well, but AP is fine)
2 to 2-1/2 cups milk
2-3 4oz. cans chopped green chiles
12-16 oz. Velveeta cheese, diced (look for it near, but not in, the dairy section 🙂
3-4 fresh Jalapeño peppers, chopped (or a big spoonful of canned diced Jalapeños, not pickled)

Saute onion in butter until tender.  Add flour, gradually, stirring constantly.  Cook for 2-3 minutes over med-low heat.  Gradually add 2 cups of the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, continue stirring.  You should end up with a thick, creamy white sauce (see note).  Add chiles and jalapeños and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes.  Add cheese, stir until melted.  Add remaining milk if needed for thinning.  Note: the cheese will thin the sauce so be sure the white sauce is thicker than desired for dip and reserve some of the milk so you can adjust at the end.


  • Chicken: I usually make this filling with chicken or turkey left over from a roasted bird.  If you haven’t roasted a chicken lately, no worries.  You can use 4 small cans of chicken meat (sold near the cans of tuna) or  3-4 chicken breasts (or other pieces) salted and poached in water or broth.  I suppose you could also dice raw chicken and just increase the time on the saute in the recipe above.  Just make sure the chicken is cooked before adding the other ingredients.
  • Tortillas: I prefer flour tortillas, though I think corn are more traditional for flautas and enchiladas.  If you are making flautas you will need tortillas small enough to fit in your fryer (I have a small fry daddy, so I use the small. 6-8″ flour tortillas for flautas, but larger ones for enchiladas and burritos).
  • The chicken filling recipe is great and versatile as is (the way it was taught to me), but could probably use some additional spices: cumin, corriander, chili powder.  Start with 1/2 tsp. of each and see what you think.
  • Chili Powder is NOT the same as Ground Chili Peppers.  Chili powder contains ground chili peppers PLUS spices like cumin, garlic and Mexican oregano.  If you use plain ground chili peppers for the Red Enchilada Sauce, you will probably want to spice it up with some spices.  For a discussion of “chile” vs “chili” see http://itsfiveoclocksomewhere.blogspot.com/2007/08/chile-vs-chili.html; I’m not very good at using them consistently . . .

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