Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jelly Beans, Anyone?

Jelly beans. You either love 'em or hate 'em. I happen to love them, even though they are considered first degree contraband in our house.

There are many ways to eat jelly beans .

  • take a handful, line them up by color, then eat the color with the most beans first, then the next largest, etc.
  • dump out a pile of them, and eat random beans, one at a time.
  • pick through the bag, eating all except you favorite flavor, saving the best for last.
  • arrange them by flavor combinations, ie: lemon-lime, strawberry-pineapple, etc.
Or there is my favorite way to eat them ...

Just shove a handful of them into your mouth and chew. Yes, it's random and disturbing, but every time I eat them the flavor combination is slightly different, especially when they are "gourmet" jelly beans.

Well, there you have it.   Aren't you glad I told you?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Lettuce Is Greener On The Other Side??

It's really quite simple. Chopped iceberg lettuce, sliced onions, sliced black olives, shredded mozzarella, and good Italian dressing (not the sweet bargain brand). It's my favorite salad.

“Iceberg lettuce?? EWWWWWW!!!!” That's what most of my friends would say.

“I don't like iceberg.”
“I will only buy the organic dark greens.”
“Iceberg doesn't have any flavor.”
“We only use baby spinach and Romaine.”

Yeah, yeah (blah, blah, blah) …. Well, guess what? For every person who says they are absolutely disgusted by the mere suggestion that their salad might contain traces of this obviously poisonous vegetable, there are probably fifteen heads sold.

So … if no one I know likes it or would dare inflict it upon their delicate constitutions, then who is buying it?? Why are there so many heads in the produce aisle? Why do I see people walking around with 2 or 3 of them in their shopping carts?

I can only infer a couple possible answers.
  1. Most of my friends are pretentious snobs.
  2. Most of my friends are full of baloney.
Or maybe it's none of the above. Maybe I'm the only person on earth who buys the stuff.

Yeah. That must be it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Brisket In Every Pot

There's a brisket on the stove, slowly coming to a boil.  It's going to simmer for three hours. Then it will sit for twenty minutes in the water before I remove it to cool. After it cools it will take a wild ride (one chunk at a time) in the food processor, then get spooned (okay, dumped) out onto several pieces of waxed paper, which are then rolled into tubes and frozen.

Why do I go through all this trouble?  Why not just buy a can or two of corned beef from the local grocery store? 

Two reasons:

1. Price - Have you seen the price of canned corned beef??  Mama Mia!!  The cost of one can is usually somewhere around $4.99 and in most cases it isn't even a full pound. When it's on sale brisket is a full buck cheaper and I can usually get the equivalent of six cans out of one large hunk of meat. (Nana would be proud.)

2. Flavor - The canned stuff tastes a little bit like dog food smells. Yeah, I know that was an awkward sentence. Nevertheless, it does, and while corned beef is an acquired taste to begin with (especially the boiled stuff), I think I can do better. 

You might ask if we will be having the "traditional" corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. Um ... probably not.  First of all, they don't really eat corned beef and cabbage in Ireland. It's an American thing.  We'll probably have Guinness Stew and colcannon, both of which are traditional Irish dishes. 

So, why the brisket?  Well, because it was on sale, we like it, and I'm cheap.  Why else?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

BANG! BANG! ... Then The Cops Showed Up.


What was that??!?!! 

I'm not sure ...


It was a fun filled day of presentations and meetings; the kind of day that makes teachers all over the country roll their eyes and moan and groan to each other about the lack of alone-time in their classrooms to catch up on "real" work. I have to admit that overall it was an interesting and inspiring day in spite of everyone's reluctance to participate.

But it was what happened during the "active shooter" portion of our day that took the most interesting turn. I was helping a colleague with an emergency and was not in the room where the presentation was taking place when we heard what sounded like a book hitting the floor. Very hard. Then another. And another and another. Then a few more at a distance. By the time the second shot was fired (right outside the door) we realized the sound was not dropping books, but bullets being fired from a pistol. We knew about the active shooter training, but didn't know what form it would take, and in that moment weren't sure what to do.

We (I) turned off the light like that wouldn't tip off a shooter and we stood against the smartboard and made ourselves "skinny" so that we couldn't be seen from the door (and if you knew the current size of my stomach you would definitely see the irony).

It turned out to be a local police officer shooting blanks in the corridors to demonstrate the actual sound of a live shooter In the building.

In the moments when I heard the gunshots a dichotomy of thoughts occurred within me. On one side was the set of protocols that I'm required to follow (lock the door, hide the students, etc.) while on the other side was the curious little boy who wanted to peek out the door to see what was happening in the corridor. Also circling in my mind were a few questions:

1. There are three doors in this room. Which one will we run for if this jerk comes in here?
2. How much stuff can I grab to hurl at the guy?
3. Where will I hide my students?

I did, in fact, peak out the door to get a look at the person outside the door, and in that split second I realized how easy and innocently a student could die at the hands of a shooter. I realized that in the event of an actual event, all bets are off.

It was a very interesting day. Indeed. 

I have a whole new perspective.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

50 ... And Beyond

I turned 50. 

Saying it out loud brings a simultaneous sense of triumphant arrival and inward reflection. 

On one level I feel young and invincible like I was in my college years.  On another I feel the weight of tiny complaints of the back, kidney, eyesight, ashen hair, forgetfulness and hypertension my doctor warned me about so many years ago. 
Funny thing is, it doesn’t seem like so many years ago, but rather yesterday 
… fishing with Papap at Lake Irene … 
... walking to Emily’s store all by myself … 
... sledding down Mill Hill (waking up in the hospital) … 
... getting a haircut at “Honest Frank’s” barber shop … 
... riding my bike to Uncle Harold’s house (Aunt Fern always had cookies) ... 
... skateboarding down the hill to my grandmother’s house ... 
... joining boy scouts … 
... attending the first day of junior high (felt so grown up) … 
... taking a date to the “Queen of Hearts” dance … 
... becoming a mime … 
... getting my driver’s license …
... feeling a broken heart up close … 
... going to college … 
... auditioning for my first real show ...
... graduating ...
... working with Dad … 
... working with Mom … 
... meeting the love of my life … 
... proposing on Christmas Eve … 
... becoming a husband … 
... becoming a father … 
... losing a house … 
... losing a father … 
... losing a mother … 
... becoming 50.

I’ve been thinking about what is next. What do I want the rest of my life to look like? What do I want to do as I grow up? The reality is that I have lived far more years than I have yet to live on this earth.  What is my vision for the remainder? 

I’ll have to get back to you on that.  Right now I have a life to live.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Could Possibly Be Better Than A Baked Bean Sandwich?

They think it's more than a little weird that I enjoy it so much.

"Ewwwww!" is the general reaction around the table as my children watch me construct the delicacy that brings back such childhood memories that I actually weep inside with every soft, dripping bite. Even my own wife shouts a resounding "NO" when offered a bite. (Et tu, Suzy?)

What could possibly bring such gastronomic bliss to one person and such repulsion to others?

None other than the Baked Bean Sandwich.

Just to justify my right to enjoy this wonder of culinary delight, I did a bit of research and was delighted (and somewhat appalled) to find so many variations on a simple theme.  If there is any way to ruin a perfectly good sandwich, some recipe guru has discovered the finer points to turning a piece of depression-era history into some hoity-toity, fancy-shmancy gourmet thingy that no self respecting lover of the basic sammy would expend the time and energy to prepare. 

Don't get me wrong; most of these recipes were quite ordinary and, although they certainly wouldn't taste like the flavor memory I have in my mind, they were worthy of consideration on an occasion some time in the future (yes, I might be willing to put ketchup or mustard or even a slice of onion on the bread). However, there also were a plethora of recipes that called for more work than Beef Wellington complete with homemade puff pastry.

Really folks, it doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious.

Here's all you need:

- Canned baked beans (warm, but not hot) - homemade beans simply do not work for this sandwich.    
- White sandwich bread, toasted or plain (you may substitute a leftover hot dog roll if you happen to have one)
- Butter

It really is as simple as that.  Spread butter on a slice of bread, spoon some beans on half the slice, fold over and eat.  Repeat as necessary.

No need for homemade bread or organic butter lettuce, remoulade, imported cheese, etc. 
No extras on this one.  Just plain goodness.  And fond memories.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today, I'm Thankful

^Thanksgiving. Anyone who knows me knows this to be favorite holiday.


Simple. Nothing is required but to be thankful.

  • No toys to be purchased.
  • No decorations or lights to be hung.
  • No cards to send.
  • No financial burden (except a turkey, and most of them are deeply discounted this time of year).
This year I'm thankful for many things ...
  • My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came to Earth to save me.
  • My beautiful wife, who is the best help meet I could have imagined.
  • The smart, gorgeous children God has given us. Each one is unique and wonderful.
  • My brother and sisters. Even though we've had our differences, I couldn't imagine my life without them.
  • In laws,  cousins, brothers and sisters in law and other extended family who love us and care for us.
  • My DNA accountability group. We are few, but we are faithful.
  • My (relatively) good health.
  • Our church, some of whom are like family to us.
  • Our LEAH home school group, who have surrounded my wife with an overwhelming blanket of prayer and love in the face of devastating news.
  • An excellent team of doctors and nurses.
  • My work family who check on me every day to see how I'm holding up.
  • The kind people who provided a Thanksgiving basket to us, "just because."
  • A warm home.
  • Reliable vehicles.
  • And, of course, pumpkin pie. :)
So, this year on my favorite holiday I am filled with gratitude for all the things, both tangible and intangible,  that God has provided for me and my family. I  do not know what this year will bring,  but I am confident that He will see us through it.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)