small things

Sometimes it’s the small wins that give real satisfaction.

When I upgraded my old computer to Windows 7 and upgraded my printer software as well, it forgot how to automatically print double-sided. So I rolled back to the older version of the software. But when that computer unceremoniously died on me last August, my new one was still Windows 7, but 64-bit rather than 32, which most new PC’s are these days. So I installed the 64-bit printer software, and it once again forgot that it could print duplex.

Terry last week replaced her heavily used work printer/fax/scanner which was on its last legs with a new one that prints double-sided. That triggered the thought that I could probably get mine to behave properly by changing a couple of settings somewhere. I went online and looked for instructions, which I quickly found.

It was indeed just a couple of simple, though not necessarily easily found settings. In no time I had my printer once again printing duplex automatically.

It’s a small thing that gave me a disproportional sense of satisfaction.

That’s not so bad.

avoiding waste

My first January paycheck was slightly smaller than before, due to the expiration of the payroll tax break and higher health insurance premiums. So being prudent and avoiding waste have been more on my mind than usual. I’m happy to say we’ve had some successes in that area so far in the new year.

We don’t usually cook with beef, but we wanted to try the Trisha Yearwood pot roast we saw on Rachael Ray over the holidays. We tried it a week ago Sunday and it was marvelous. Of course we had leftovers. We put those to good use. One day I chopped some up to make taco meat and baked taco shells from tortillas left over from a previous dinner. Every bit as good as a new meal from scratch. Another day I cut up the meat and added it to the leftover chili verde that was in the freezer. I baked the last two tortillas in our tortilla shell molds. That came out very well too.

Another Trisha Yearwood recipe, Chicken Baked in Cornflake Crumbs, called for buttermilk, which we don’t usually use, so the remainder risked going to waste. But I used a bunch of it in the  bread I baked, which was marvelous, and Terry used the rest in one of our breakfast smoothies.

We had take-out Indian on Friday, one of our favorite treats. The leftovers made a great Sunday lunch. (Though I have to admit that our leftover Indian take-out rarely goes to waste.)

I can’t promise we’ll always be this responsible, but we’re off to a good start this year.

Sacred Music Friday: Gloria

The John Rutter version. Be aware that this comes in at 16:45, but I had to share it as it’s one of my favorite Rutter settings. (Then again, there’s not much Rutter that I don’t like.)

what the Bible is

I read Flunking Sainthood by Jana Riess some months ago. I was going back through my Kindle highlights and found this passage where she quotes Debbie Blue. It really resonates with me.

The Bible isn’t really at all good at being an instruction manual. It’s good at leading us into a tangle of wild poetry, heartbreaking stories, contradictions, twists and turns, the concrete struggles of a vast array of unruly, disparate human beings being sought after by God. . . . The Bible isn’t a cage that contains God, making God available to take out or hang in our living room, it’s a witness to the fecund, ungraspable Other (and our relationship to that Other).

“… it’s a witness to the fecund, ungraspable Other (and our relationship to that Other).” Wow! We could profoundly transform our relationship to our church, our religion, and to each other by taking this to heart.

burgers, taste, and our personal history

I wrote in December about some anecdotal evidence of declining quality at In-n-Out Burger. I’ve written blog entries about topics I thought were much more important, but between Facebook and my blog comments this entry struck a nerve.

Boston Pobble mentioned Five Guys, an up-and-coming chain that relies on quality and word of mouth, with no advertising. She said, “I could never eat another burger but theirs and be good.” One opened up not far from us a while back and Terry and I tried it after Christmas. It was good. Really good. And I love the way that they make it really easy to select the toppings you want.

But it is not In-n-Out. This man could not live on Five Guys alone. In-n-Out has a distinctive taste that is not like any other hamburger. But more than that, it is part of many of our personal histories. That is why, I think, my blog entry struck a nerve. As I said in my original entry, I’ve been eating In-n-Out since college. That’s forty years. Add to that the fact that for many years In-n-Out was only available in Southern California. For those of us who moved away, we were delighted when they moved north, and we could enjoy a pleasure of what was in our minds a younger, more innocent time. The fact that many of those who are new to In-n-Out burger are not all that impressed should not be surprising. After all, for us In-n-Out fans, the history, the memories, and the context are as important as the Double-Double burger.

I have to admit, by the way, sacrilege though it might be, that Terry and I agree that the fries at Five Guys are better than those at In-n-Out.

a Star Trek world

I see the depressing state of our world and the sometimes outright craziness of American society (look at some of the reactions to Sandy Hook: armed guards and armed teachers in the schools?) and I wonder, why can’t we make progress? Why do we take two steps forward and one step back so often? Why can’t we have a Star Trek society?

Star Trek had a positive vision of the future. This is most clearly embodied in Star Trek: The Next Generation where the message was that war, crime, hunger, poverty, and discrimination had been utopia2eliminated on earth. (Admittedly not so much so in the most recent and upcoming “prequel classic” Star Trek movies.) Yes, it is science fiction. But it is a modern myth, and we have our myths for a reason. They can tell us about who we want to be as a people. And that vision is utopian, it’s true. But what’s wrong with that, really? As Fr. Phil has said, would you rather have a dystopian vision of the future?

It seems hopeless at times, but I believe we need to maintain that vision and continue the fight for a Star Trek world, for a better world.

Let those who have a dream, dream,
Together we could work to build a better world.
Hand-in-hand with our companions who share our love for living,
And give more than we are given,
Let us give more than we are given.

A Better World, The Limeliters, David Reuter, Reuter’s Music BMI

what cooking should be

I’ve said that while I like to catch a few minutes of Rachael Ray’s syndicated daily television show in the morning while I’m getting my hot tea, I don’t want that fact widely known. No do I want it known, by the way, that I subscribe to the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray on my iPad.

In any case, I was catching part of her show over the Christmas break, and she had Trisha Yearwood on. In addition to her music career, she has written a cookbook and has a show on Food Network. She was making one of her dishes and said that she was not big on measuring. Rachael picked right up on that and said:

Who measures? It’s a drag to measure. Measure when you bake. Cooking’s about having fun.

I like that. That’s how I cook.

In that context, I should update you on my project. I’ve completed adding all of my Cooking Light stack3recipes using the Web versions (that’s the now non-existent stack on the right) to my Living Cookbook database, and am now ready to start the far more tedious process of scanning and adding the recipes from Clean Eating and other sources (that’s the stack on the left). But it will be fun. And even more fun to be in the kitchen making the recipes.

Here’s to having fun cooking in 2013!