Thursday, November 15, 2018

Deer chili: composite of two recipes––a keeper

 Back story: At bell rehearsal one Wednesday in October, I announced, “I’m taking chili to Carolyn and Lynn tomorrow.” Lynn was recovering from a stroke; Carolyn was a sister, so it stood to reason I should do something.

I texted her: “May I bring chili tomorrow?”

She answered, “I just made some last night.” So much for that.

I texted my brother Bill. “Can I bring you some chili?”

He answered, “I’ll take a raincheck; it’s chaotic over here since we’re planning to move.”

Truth be told, I hadn’t yet cooked the chili, though I’d thawed out a package labeled “deer chili” from son Eric. I’d pulled down cans of tomatoes and beans, herbs and spices to the countertop.

I waited a few days, then decided the meat needed to be cooked at least, and refrozen, if necessary. I browned the meat, cooled it, freezer-container-ed it, but left it in the fridge.

The next Tuesday, I awoke with a yen to finally prepare the chili. I’d pulled out of a collection of cookbooks one called “More Faithful Cooking,” published in 2010 by the United Methodist Women of Piggott, Arkansas, and autographed by Lou Forrest, who was at that time proprietress of The Downtown Inn.

In the section, Soups & Salads, I found on page 25, two chili recipes: one called Santa Fe chili, by Alex Routszong, and the other, Chili, by Leigh Cole. Between them both, I had about every ingredient mentioned. I found the crockpot, a wedding gift in 1960, hauled it up to the range, set it on a burner cover and plugged it in. Originally, I had planned to cook in the cast iron Dutch oven, but both recipes called for a “slow cooker.” Duh!

I transferred the meat to the cooker. I had no onion, so I sprinkled in a goodly amount of dried onion flakes. I didn’t have tomato sauce, but added diced tomatoes, Ro-Tel, and V-8 juice. Drained and rinsed black beans and pinto beans went next. Added a packet of Ranch dressing mix and part of a package of Taco seasoning. Two teaspoons of cumin, which I didn’t know I had, added. Then dash after dash of chili powder. No salt; no pepper.

After the last addition, I tasted it and added more chili powder until I was satisfied.
“Cook on high for four hours,” one said; “five-six hours,” the other recipe said. I chose four.

It was the best chili, I told son Eric, provider of the meat, I ever made and ever ate. He replied, “I hope to have some fresh meat by the end of this week.”

My brother Bill was now ready for some, so I containered a large amount, took it over at lunch time, and we ate and visited while his wife shopped.
I put the remainder in plastic bowls for left-overs. Yum! Yum! What a way to participate in the fall and winter seasons.

                        I've signed up to take a pear cobbler to the family Thanksgiving next week.

c 2018, PL, d/b/a lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Thursday, November 1, 2018

I never tire of time in the Ozarks: a look back

 While I'm here in 2018, this post was written about the same experience but in 2012. Perhaps you have come on board since then, and haven't read it. If you read it earlier, perhaps you've forgotten some details--like I had.

           Question: Who but an over-achieving writer would go to such pains just to get bundled up to go outside on a below-freezing Ozark morning? With coffee, of course, even though a bit stronger roast than my usual half-caff.

           Answer: For one, a back-packed mountain man walking the steep incline toward downtown. For another, a dog walker. She looked over and I “Good morning”-ed. In response, she said, “I just saw a red fox go across the road. Beautiful! ”

        So I’m in good company here in Eureka Springs. I’m in Spring Garden Suite, my usual stable here at Dairy Hollow. I did ask for a room in the new “505” building next door, but Ms. Director forgot and instead, scheduled a writer who wanted to stay a month. I didn’t mind, especially when I discovered it was Tom S. from New England who was a co-resident several years ago.

One leaf,
large and tattered,
followed me inside, like
a cat waiting for the door to
there! Come on in!
You’ll be safe from Jana’s
leaf blower. Here, join the ones I
picked up
as I
crossed the parking
lot yesterday. Right up
here under the lamp where I can
see you." 
             Behind me, cars and conversation. A writing workshop was scheduled for all day in the main house. If someone parked in front of “my” place, (six feet from the street) I’d have to move inside!  
 “Would you
look at that! A
cleverly stuffed strawman
posing as a writer on this
No gloves, though. Life-
like hands, even holding
a Razorback pen! It IS a
            Vehicles began parking on “our” street. No one exited an SUV. Might it be a photographer? After all, there are now three papers in this town, though two of them seem to have the same information—but written by different folks.

             No newspaper photog, alas, but Tom walked by with a basket of breakfast and lunch fixings “so I won’t have to ‘bug them.’” He gestured toward the main house soon-to-be-awash with paying, workshopping writers. “Oh,” he continued. “Mind if I take a picture of you writing? I’ll send it to my wife and email or text you a copy.”

           “Oh, no!” I said, followed immediately by, “Okay.” How did he know that at that very moment I was writing about a photographer? Karma?  Indeed, I DID look like an obese straw person!

             Later, I went inside to refill my coffee mug—a leaf-motif-ed one from home. As I turned back to the door, sure enough, there was a vehicle immediately between “my” walk and the street. An older man with a knitted head covering carried his supplies down the stone slab stairway to the entrance. The antique-car license also showed a Vietnam Veteran sticker. I forgave him immediately.

but the maples
aren’t yet as vibrant as
last year, or hickories quite as
Turns out that the area’s prime color peaked last week. All the maple and cottonwood leaves were underfoot. Except the ones I brought in to grace my writing space.
~ ~ ~ ~
2018: Next post will update to my current autumn visit. PL
c 2018, PL, d/b/a lovepat press, Benton AR USA 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Oh, what a week it was!

        I’ll have to admit, much of the week was spent online with the national furor over the happenings around the president’s Supreme Court nominee. I considered the social media “likes,” the “loves,” and the comments I made to various posts as one of my ways of reacting as an interested and involved citizen. So, there’s that; I didn’t keep a log of how much time I spent thereon. (I don’t have a TV, so news and commentary online and the state and local papers are my news sources.)

                The 5th -Sunday-in-September luncheon for members and guests of Ebenezer UMC in Tull, saw us trek (after church) to Highway 5 in Saline County for a great meal at U. S. Pizza. While waiting for our orders to arrive, Becky chaired a game. On a post-it-note-sized sheet, we were to answer six questions: 1. Where we attended school; 2. Our favorite teacher; 3. Our first car; 4. A hobby; 5. A favorite hymn; 6. Number of children and grandchildren.

                Then she retrieved the papers, shuffled them, and gave each of us one of the sheets. We were to try to guess which person we were reading about. Most folks knew right away who the writer was. If not right away, then when children and grandchildren were numbered. The cutest mini-bio—from a guest—mentioned Hot Wheels as his first car; playing soccer as his hobby, and “This Little Light of Mine” was his favorite hymn. It was the delightful grandson of one of the church elders.
                Just for fun and information, here are the other “favorite hymns.” Amazing Grace (3), I’ll Fly Away (3), Hymn of Promise, Trust and Obey, Blessed Assurance, How Great Thou Art (4), Great is Thy Faithfulness, Grace Alone, What a Friend we Have in Jesus, In the Garden, It is well with my Soul, “#153 (In the Cokesbury Hymnal, it’s Love, Mercy and Grace), A Walk in the Garden, Jericho Road, and, of course, This Little Light of Mine.
          If word gets out that I have a wheelchair ramp newly built down my front steps, it does not mean that I’m the one it was built for. I will need it for hosting the December-5th-Sunday-luncheon of church folks. 
          Why now, you might wonder? Because my retired son Eric who lives in Hot Springs and  offered to do some “honey-do’s” for me, is a hunter, and, with only a few days free between now and then, he had to “get on it” while he could. It’s a doozy! 
         And, who knows when I might need it myself. Or someone else I know.

Centerpiece for National Poetry Day October 13, 2018

c 2018, PL d/b/a lovepat press, Benton AR USA


Monday, October 8, 2018

Month by month the year has passed: current activities

               As of two weeks ago, we are empty nesters again: Billy (no longer a Kid, but still a grandson) moved to Hot Springs. He’s lived with us (again) since August of 2017. After one early disagreement, we got along famously. He had kitchen privileges, and separate bed-and-bathrooms. Now and then, we would buy each other favorite foods. And he left quite a bit of food here, plus an empty cupboard that I moved canned goods back into. He cleaned his carpet with Resolve, moved the rest of his stuff against the wall, and brought down the twin bed that he’d moved upstairs to accommodate his larger one. He will work at the local Cracker Barrel.

                 Pear season has come and gone. For some reason, the crop wasn’t as large as usual. I brought in a 5-gallon bucket of windfalls, laid them out on a cookie-sheet-sized pan and placed them on the bottom shelf of the fridge, rotten spots and all. Soon, a friend called to see if there were any left; friend came, and we picked up the good ones, then shook the tree for the ones high up. Friend took home parts of four bags of the fruit, from which s/he made preserves. After s/he left, I returned and gathered the mostly- good pears and added to my stash. I’ll eat them raw, unless they continue rotting in the cold. I DID cook one batch of pear sauce that’s good on vanilla yogurt.

                After many years, we’ve divorced Schwan’s. Or they’ve divorced us. Too many discrepancies toward the last for me to accept. And they never got back to me after I complained, so perhaps the feeling was mutual. We’ll miss the raspberry-white-chocolate scones and the frozen yogurt the most, but at the same time, we’ll save money.

                The new grocery that replaced our nearby Harvest Foods has a different way of charging for merchandise: The prices on the items show the store’s cost. Then at checkout, they add ten percent, plus a “food tax.” We’ll see.

                Meanwhile, I’ll keep buying all but fresh fruit and vegetables at Dollar General, also nearby. I may have to search for a good recipe for scones.
                Two seasonal projects now loom: one is to replace summer clothes with winter ones, which usually means washing, or at least airing out, what has been packed away. The second one is prepping plants to move inside. I have several more to move in than I moved out, so making space in the Green Room-cum-breakfast room will be formidable. And maybe impossible. Again, we’ll see.

                My myriad poetry submissions since mid-March have not done well, either in contests or in outright submissions. Two honorable mentions out of seven entries in one venue, and one honorable mention out of eleven entries in another. Mid-October is the final contest date. If I don’t do well there, I might just publish my own writings. Or perhaps write better poems.
c 2018, PL d/b/a lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Monday, September 24, 2018

When does autumn begin? What about the change in the weather?

I never know whether fall begins on September 21 or 22 so I asked Cortana Computer who asked The following is the first of their answers.
ASTRONOMICAL: In the northern hemisphere of Earth, Fall begins on the Autumnal equinox --22-23 September (in Persian calendar it will begin at the first day of Mehr) and ends on the Winter solstice (21-22 December). 

In the southern hemisphere of Earth, Fall begins on the Autumnal equinox (20-21 March) and ends on the Winter solstice (20-21 June). Can you imagine this? An email friend in Canberra, Australia is enjoying spring and sharing photos of daffodils!

CLIMATOLOGICAL: The World Meteorological Organization officially mandates September 1 of any year as the first day of the climatological autumn and November 30 as the last day in the northern hemisphere.
In the southern hemisphere, the climatological autumn begins March 1 and ends May 31.

             ECOLOGICAL: The ecological autumn has no fixed dates but coincides with the period that the leaves of deciduous trees change color and fall to the ground.

So, now I know. Thanks to Cortana and Bing and their online sites. True to the Astronomical season, the weather changed, or began to change, Thursday night, the 20th. Because, the next morning, I awoke with a piercing pain in the center of my left foot. Yes, I’d had foot surgery back a ‘ways, but not there—only in and around my toes.

Nothing to do but go again to Cortana/Bing: Two experts on the subject of changes and how they can/ may affect one’s body are Robert N. Jamison, Harvard Medical School, and David Borenstein, George Washington University Medical Center. They are quoted in the site that showed up first:

“One leading theory points to changes in air pressure. Although many people say that their pain worsens with damp, rainy weather, research has shown that it's not the cold, wind, rain, or snow, Borenstein says. ‘The thing that affects people most is barometric pressure.’"

 “But barometric pressure often drops before bad weather sets in. This lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing tissues to expand -- and those expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint. ‘It's very microscopic and we can hardly notice, except that we have these sensations,’ Jamison says.”

 “Nevertheless, the link between pain and weather changes remains hypothetical; research has come to mixed conclusions, Jamison says. " ‘All the results are not very clean, meaning there are people who say that weather doesn't affect their pain.’"

“Borenstein agrees that there's no consensus, but he finds barometric pressure a likely explanation because it does affect people's bodies.”

All right, then. Since my foot pain disappeared that same afternoon, I’m insisting it was caused by the barometric pressure of changing weather. Is this old wives’ tale or Grandma’s saying about pain and the weather just so much talk? Perhaps. 

 But this old former wife and grandma says it’s true.

       c 2018, PL d/b/a/ lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Death has dealt us heavy blows

                JIMMY KANE – A true Christian disciple; my Sunday-School teacher ‘way back when I was a teenager; a fisherman, a husband, father, grandfather, friend. Greeting everyone with a smile, even toward the end. He is the namesake of the Kaneraiser’s Sunday School class. Until a few years ago, he was the long-time teacher of the Tom Scott Sunday School class. I sang in the choir during his service after we quickly learned the requested hymn, “The Last Mile of the Way.” Rest in peace, Jim.

                BETTY DAGUE – The sweet mother-in-law of one of the choir members died shortly thereafter, and Ann asked me to play for the memorial service. I was delighted to do so, honoring this beautiful woman with a quick smile that exuded love for those around her. I played the organ, the 60-year-old Baldwin organ, that I had played for many years as music director of the church. Besides her large family, many church members also paid her homage. Rest in peace, dear Betty.

                LOUISE WHITLEY – (Aunt Lou) A sister-in-law’s only remaining sister died earlier this month. All four of our brother’s siblings attended the service at Ashby’s. Since Louise had taught at the Deaf School, one of the Nutt brothers signed the songs and the messages. Louise was also a minister. Janice was given a Christian flag in celebration of her sister’s well-lived life. We sisters-in-law hosted a post-burial lunch for Janice and Bill’s immediate family. Rest in peace, Aunt Lou.

                REX HELMER, Jacksonville – This man, known to me because of his wife, Kathy, who, besides being a poet and writer, is a missioner for their UM Church. She has seen to it that I get invited to their team when and if there’s a vacancy—to their annual UMCOR trip to south Louisiana. On those years when I went, I spent the night before with Rex and Kathy and their late feline, Bob. Rex was a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force for more than 21 years. He was afflicted with Alzheimer’s at the last. Rest in peace, Rex.

                JOHN MCCAIN – Arizona’s illustrious senator, chose to stop treatment for his brain disease, and died one day later, four days before his 82nd birthday. His death hit me harder than usual, because I was reading his latest book, The Restless Wave. Without sound, except for part of the church service, I scrolled through the internet’s myriad photos to get the flavor of the other services. Each time I saw Cindy McCain cry, I teared up, too. Rest in peace, Senator McCain.

                CLIFF BAKER – Brother-in-law, theater maven, all-around sweet fellow who loved everyone he met, and made them feel better about themselves—died September 6 in a New York hospital, having never awakened from a cerebral aneurysm after a week of surgeries and other treatment. He was a light in our family’s life, especially our brother, his husband. Rest in peace, dear, dear Cliff.
And since this piece came out, two more dear ones have died: PATSY REED and GERALD BAXLEY. Condolences and love to their families.

c 2018, PL d/b/a/ lovepat press, Benton AR USA