easy meals

I enjoy cooking and I have tried a lot of new recipes in recent months, many of which I modified in one way or another. But sometimes I need to do something simple.

leftover pizzaOn a recent Thursday I made it very easy by making a frozen Bertolli meal. It’s simple to make and really quite tasty. The next day I got a take and bake pizza from the local grocery store. I normally get one with toppings, but this time I got a cheese pizza and added my own toppings. It made for a really good meal, plus we had leftovers for a second dinner, and a lunch for me besides that.

Sometimes its nice to take the simple route.


a Toastmaster milestone

I recently passed another Toastmaster milestone. I received my Advanced Communicator Bronze award.

To get my Competent Communicator award, I had to complete the ten speeches in the Competent Communication manual. The next level, Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB), required completing two five speech sets from two of the fifteen advanced manuals. I did that by completing the speeches in the Storytelling and Speaking to Entertain manuals. I submitted my application and received the award.

I was getting somewhat burned out with Toastmasters and was thinking about making some changes, but with getting my ACB and given my role of Vice President – Education, I am re-energized.

My next speaking goal: Advanced Communicator Silver. And with my mentoring a new member I am close to my Competent Leader award as well.

Advanced Communicator Bronze award


grilled shrimp with Romesco sauce

One of the Food Network programs that I have set up for series recoding is Valerie’s Home Cooking. If you remember Valerie Bertinelli from One Day at a Time, which ran from 1975 to 1984, she is every bit as cute and charming today as she was back then. A much younger me had quite the crush on Valerie, or at least her character Barbara Cooper. The me of today loves watching Valerie share her cooking skills and learning new recipes from her.

shrimp with Romesco sauceOne recipe that she demonstrated was Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Romesco Sauce. I saved the recipe to my database and tried it on a recent Saturday. The Romesco sauce comes from the Catalonia area of Spain and is based on roasted red peppers. I made it generally according to Valerie’s instructions, although I used pine nuts instead of almonds since I had pine nuts on hand and no almonds. I tossed the shrimp as directed and grilled them on our outdoor gas grill. I served a garlic-butter rice mix on the side.

The Romesco sauce made the meal. It was absolutely delicious. Terry gave it her highest praise, which is “We can make this again.”

Not only that, there was plenty of sauce left over, which I later used on grilled chicken.

shrimp on the grill


Sacred Music Friday: Jesus Christ is Risen Today

First Plymouth Congregational Church, Lincoln, Nebraska, Plymouth Choir and congregation,  arrangement by Jeremy Bankson, Associate Minister of Music


changing browsers

I had been using Firefox as my web browser for some time now. I’ve always really liked it, and I have become used to it. But recently I went through the hassle (reentering passwords, getting cell phone authorizations, etc.) of switching to Chrome.

Chrome & Firefox logosI didn’t want to switch. Firefox is developed by a non-profit organization and is a big advocate for user privacy. Chrome comes from the Evil Empire of Google, to me as much of an Evil Empire as Microsoft. Maybe more so these days. (But I am stuck with them both, big time.)

The reason I switched was that within a period of a few weeks I was hit twice by the same ransomware attack. Firefox failed to catch it. Fortunately it was easy to get rid of this particular one. All I had to do was delete the file that contained my browsing history. Still, that shook my confidence in Firefox. A quick search brought up studies that showed that of the major browsers, Firefox was the least robust in preventing malware.

I decided, in spite of Windows 10 regularly telling me that I needed to switch to Edge, to switch to Chrome. The transition was less painful than it could have been. I am getting used to Chrome and its features.

And I am, I have to say, disappointed in Firefox and the Mozilla Foundation.


protecting our grill

Shortly after we got our new gas grill Terry said that I needed to get a cover for it. I responded that I didn’t think we needed one as it was under the patio cover. She told me it was getting covered with dust. She was right. It was dusty.

I checked out Amazon. (Where else?) I found the appropriate sized grill cover for only $19.95. When it arrived I was pleased with how heavy and sturdy it was. Great value for the price.

I’m glad I got it. When I’m ready to grill the grill is nice and clean and ready to go.

This is not a very interesting picture, but having the cover makes my grilling experience so much more pleasant.

grill cover


not so bad, I suppose

I have had an Amazon credit card from Chase Bank for quite a few years now. I have long used the points from that card to buy many of my Kindle books. I would use the points to buy an Amazon e-gift card which I sent to my email address and then enter the redemption code into my Amazon account. I then bought the Kindle book I wanted. It all worked very well.

I went to do that recently and discovered that the option was no longer available. I further discovered that I can’t even use those points to buy a physical Amazon gift card delivered to me by postal mail. I spent several hours being seriously ticked off with Amazon. Then, however, I did some further investigation and I discovered that I could redeem the points as a statement credit on my Amazon credit card. So, I did that and then ordered my Kindle book which was charged to my Amazon credit card and I was done. As I thought about it, it was actually easier than what I had been doing.

Not so bad, I suppose.