Diverting Projects


My apologies for the long absence. I was diverted by an excursion into the world of Facebook, cataloging my books on LibraryThing, extremely cold whether, no desire to cook, and depressing news on the baseball front.

I explored Facebook enough to see that it wasn’t really for me. I originally signed up during one of the Presidential Debates so I could see an article about Obama. Played around enough to discover that 90% of my friends are NOT on Facebook, and left it at that. I’ll check back there occasionally, but other projects are more interesting right now . . .

LibraryThing.com is a place to catalog your books and explore other people’s libraries. Right now I’ve only entered about 80 books, so I haven’t made “Lucinda’s Library” public yet. When I do, I’ll post a link to it here.

I’ve also been rereading Jane Austen’s six novels in conjunction with the Masterpiece Classics” versions showing on PBS (Sundays, 8 pm CT here). Mark your calendars for the 5-hour BBC/A&E version of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle on February 10, 17, & 24 (check your local PBS station for the dates/times in your area). It’s excellent (I liked it so much I bought the DVD 🙂 .  Masterpiece chose to make their own version of Sense & Sensibility (showing March 30 & April 6), though I can’t imagine it will come close to the Emma Thompson version.

On the baseball front–the Twins lost Hunter & Santana, but kept Morneau (boring) and Cuddyer (breath of fresh air). Nothing the Cubs have done in terms of trades is inspiring me. Lou Pinella continues to make statements that reveal how little he cares about either his players or the fans. And my favorite red-head, Matt Murton, continues to get The Snub.

That’s all for now. Stay warm.

My Cast Iron Frying Pan

I’ve been cleaning out the frig this week (stuffed shells and ravioli from the freezer, fried rice to use up left-over rice), so I’ll be adding a few essential recipes to the blog even though I haven’t actually cooked them yet this year. But first a story . . .

Some of you may wonder whether my inspiration to keep a food diary came from the pile of recent “My Year With Food”-type books. You know, the year with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking or the Year Eating Locally or the Year in some marvelous French or Italian Cuisine. Actually, my inspiration came from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

All the stories of loss and people escaping with only the clothes on their backs made me think about what I would really miss if some disaster struck my home. What should I have ready to grab before disaster hit? Of course the cats would be my first concern, but what about all the “things”. The books, CDs, LPs, tools, papers, photos, etc.?

When I thought about it I realized that what I would really want to rescue is my well-seasoned cast iron frying pan and my favorite recipes. I recognized in the stories about refugees cooking red beans & rice, or gumbo, or jambalaya to restore their sense of “home” that I would want to be able to do the same.

Twenty+ years ago I bought a set of three unseasoned cast iron frying pans for about $10. (Yes, this was before you could just pay extra and buy them pre-seasoned for you.) I carefully coated them in oil and baked them in the oven to start the seasoning process. Of course, the real seasoning came from years of use. I also discovered that the best way to keep them well-seasoned was occasionally to fry up a bunch of bacon. (Another reason I never lasted long as a vegetarian 🙂

The one I would want to take with me is the well-blackened, smooth to the point of being virtually non-stick, 10″ frying pan. I’m sure there are other kitchen gadgets, doodads, pans, and dishes that I would miss, but the well-seasoned frying pan is what I would grab before running out the door. Besides, it would make a good weapon if I needed to defend myself in a riot. 😛

As for the recipes, I knew I couldn’t take my whole bookshelf full of cookbooks plus the recipe card boxes plus the 12″ thick accordion file filled with loose pages of recipes. It occurred to me that I should make copies of all my favorite recipes and put them together into a single book. Of course having a digital backup would be good too. Thus began my project of typing up recipes some of which have already appeared on this blog.

Today I add a few more essentials: Mom’s (Dolores’) Meatballs/Meatloaf recipe and my variation on Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken from Keo’s Thai Cuisine.


Last night I watched parts of the “Debate Double Header” from New Hampshire.  I’ve been ignoring much of the campaign hoopla because it seemed way too early.  Obama’s strong showing in Iowa caught my interest so I thought I’d tune in to see what they all had to say.  Also, the Clinton camp had called me in the afternoon and seemed dismayed when I said Hillary wasn’t my first choice and the only reason I gave them was that nearly 30 years of Bushes and Clintons in the White House was enough for me; time for a change.  Thought I should see if there were other reasons as well.

The six Republicans went first.  I avoided most of that debate by cooking and eating dinner (more below), but I managed to hear enough to notice that everyone (R&Ds alike) seems to have jumped on the “change” bandwagon.  Most of them seem to miss what kind of “change” is really needed.  Not just new policies, new laws, new ways for the government to stick its nose into my business . . . rather a change in attitude.  Away from the politics of fear and “grab everything you can for yourself”.  Towards a sense of hope, possibility, and working to make sure that the means of advancement are available to all.  A generosity and compassion rather than greed and hard-heartedness.

I’m not sure any of the ten will be able to deliver even a moderate amount of “change”, but Obama and Edwards are the only two who even seem to be talking about real change in real people’s lives.  We’ll see what the next few months bring . . .

Back to dinner–Pork Cutlets “l’ orange” (breaded pork cutlets simmered in orange juice until tender), mashed potatoes, broccoli, and salad.  Nothing fancy.  Just “good eats”.

Verse of the Day: “What are you doing here?”

I start most mornings with tea and morning prayer. Mudpie (cat) usually joins me. Some days a verse or story just needs to be shared. So those of you eager for news of baseball or recipes may occasionally have to encounter a few Bible verses and/or poetry. I’ll categorize these as appropriate so you can either find or ignore them.

Anyway, today included one of my favorite OT stories. Elijah on the mountain (from 1 Kings 19, NRSV):

9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 11He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

As we recover from that busiest of times of year and move toward all our New Year’s Resolutions, may we all remember to wait through the wind, earthquakes, and fire for God in the silence, and be ready with an answer to “What are you doing here?”

The New Testament reading included a couple of pretty useful verses as well, from Ephesians 4 (NRSV):

31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

And with that I bid you Happy New Year, once again.

New Year’s Comforts

The days surrounding New Year’s Day have been filled with comfort food. I got tired of leftover roast chicken and roasted veggies, so I turned the remainder of the chicken into homemade Chicken Pot Pies 🙂 I mostly followed the recipe for Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie from the FoodNetwork, but I cheated and used “canned” biscuits (Grands) on the top. Yummo!

Then on New Year’s Eve I gathered with some friends for Mac & Cheese plus Mixed Greens Salad with Blueberries, Blue Cheese, and Pecans with Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze & Cherries for dessert. Of course there were various liquors to round out the evening. Good food, good friends, much chatting & laughing, plus Die Fledermaus to entertain us.

Happy New Year!