cooking with cast iron

Terry’s grandmother died in December 2001 and Terry brought home a lot of things from her house in northeast Oklahoma. Among the things we placed in our storage unit were her cast iron frying pans. Really dumb idea.

Cast Iron Casseroles coverEventually we decided there was no point in paying for the storage unit and we either brought things home or got rid of them. The cast iron we brought into the kitchen. Smart idea.

We use the cast iron regularly. Terry always uses the pans for scrambled eggs, and I use them for my boneless fried chicken breasts. We do value them.

Recently, however, we found a way to kick their use up a notch. Standing in line at our cast iron casserolebusy but marvelous new Sprouts market I saw a publication called Cast Iron Casseroles. It has got a lot of recipes for cooking meals in your cast iron skillet. And they are good recipes. I have made a few and added several to my database. Many are one-skillet while some require another pan or two.

It’s nice to add new cooking techniques to the repertoire.

The book is published as a periodical and above the UPC code it notes “Display until January 30, 2017.” So perhaps you might run across it at your local upscale supermarket.

write if you get work

I’ve been working on building my web and writing business for a while now.  I have had a couple of gigs here and there, but not what I really would like.

write ifyou get work stock photoThen I had an email from a former manager of mine. She is working for a small firm that works on customer referrals and success stories. They do a lot of one-page customer success story write-ups. Would I be interested in giving this a shot, she asked. I absolutely would, I responded.

I was given a transcript of a customer interview and some general guidelines. I wrote the piece and turned it in. When I heard back I learned that I had made a couple of bonehead errors. But they also liked my work enough that they are going to give me a second assignment. And I got paid.

It’s a promising start.



saying goodbye to an old friend

I let go of an old friend last Wednesday. I sold my internet domain, which I had owned since 1996: twenty years. It was not an easy decision.

I have had many offers to buy the domain over twenty years, all of which I refused. Some were more serious than others, but I turned them all down.

Terry and I used the domain for our email for most of that time, even when we did not have an active web site. After we moved to Hemet I rebuilt the site to promote my web and writing business.

Not long ago I received an email from a domain broker asking if I would sell. He made me a fairly generous offer, but I refused. He persisted. In the end his client more than quadrupled their original offer. It was, in Godfather terms, an offer that I could not refuse.

And so I let go.

At least I won’t have to explain any longer the meaning of (Cobb + Christie, plus the fact that Terry was a physics major at Cal State Fullerton).

Please come visit me at my new domain: You can email me at

domain transfer letter

Sacred Music Friday: Come, ye thankful people come

First Baptist Church Asheville North Carolina. Sunday morning worship with the adult choir and brass ensemble.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours!

Embed from Getty Images

Amazon shipping policies

If you are an Amazon customer, depending on were you live you might have noticed more of your packages arriving via the United States Postal Service (USPS). For a long time Amazon used mostly UPS and FedEx. More recently Amazon has developed a partnership with the USPS. Interestingly, that partnership includes Sunday delivery.

AmazomWhen Terry and I lived in Gilroy, just south of Silicon Valley and a bedroom community thereof, Amazon had no Sunday delivery there. Here in Hemet, at the far eastern reaches of the Inland Empire, Sunday delivery is a regular thing. It’s not something I request specially. As an Amazon Prime customer, if I order something on Friday with free two-day delivery I get it on Sunday. It’s not like I’m ordering things where one day would make a difference. A case of car-sized Kleenex (because I can’t find that at the grocery store or Target any longer). A pair of sweat pants.

I think the difference between the two areas has to do with the proximity of Amazon warehouses. In Gilroy the closest Amazon warehouse was 85 miles away. Here there are multiple warehouses within a 50 mile radius.


our kitchen tools

kitchn logoToday’s entry was inspired by the blog kitchn, not to be confused with Food Network’s The Kitchen. Recently their blog posted an opening for a part-time writer, so I thought I’d apply. Not that I have much of a chance of getting the job. The listing was gone from their web site the next day. But they asked me for 250 words on “Tell us something you’re excited about in food right now .” I thought, “Why let that go to waste?” So here it is.

Your tools affect how you cook. I love my Calphalon frying pans. But I also enjoy using the cast iron frying pans that my wife inherited from her grandmother. The two cook differently and have different characteristics.

I also have an electric pressure cooker. The pressure cooker is nice from a “start it and forget it” perspective. But it also requires careful attention to ensuring that you have sufficient liquid to bring the cooker up to pressure. In the same “start it and forget it” category is my slow cooker. I have an older model (the original Crock Pot brand!) that cooks at a lower temperature than today’s models. Depending on what you are cooking, the slow cooker is often more forgiving with respect to liquids. It is also flexible when it comes to time. If you’re running late an extra forty-five minutes usually won’t hurt the dish.

More recently, I bought a NuWave oven. The NuWave is great for grilling types of activities. It also reduces the cooking times for many foods. I especially like it for cooking fish, especially firm fish such as halibut. I have successfully used it with chicken recipes that call for grilling.



Avid Reader: A Life

Avid Reader book coverAvid Reader: A Life
Robert Gottlieb
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (September 13, 2016), 352 pages
Kindle edition $14.99, Amazon hardcover $16.66

I have been a book person all of my life, as you likely know. I spent eight years at B. Dalton Bookseller in three states and four different stores. Six of those years I was a store manager. I was therefore very familiar with Robert Gottlieb as the respected head of the Alfred A. Knopf division at Random House. I wasted no time, then, buying this book when I read of its release.

Gottlieb describes when, as a recent college graduate, his career counselor told him that the only industry he appeared to be suitable for was publishing, and the only publishing house that might be able to cope with his personality was Simon & Schuster. Fortunately the company had a job for him.

This was when Simon & Schuster had a rather poor reputation, mostly publishing things like crossword puzzle books. As he worked his way up in the company his own reputation and that of S&S as a publishing house grew. He eventually was well-respected enough that after Random House bought the storied Alfred A. Knopf publishing firm, they turned to him to take the helm.

Gottlieb spent a number of years at Knopf, where he published many of the most distinguished and popular authors in the United States and Europe. At at time when Condé Nast owned both Random House and The New Yorker magazine, the head of Condé Nast, Si Newhouse, asked Gottlieb to take over as editor of the magazine. Gottlieb was agreeable, but after a few years Newhouse grew restless and brought in Tina Brown of Cosmopolitan fame. Gottlieb suggests, somewhat indirectly, that his settlement at The New Yorker meant that he had nothing to worry about financially.

After leaving The New Yorker Gottlieb returned to Knopf as an editor. He describes enjoying this role, not having the worries of running the whole division.

I have not given away the whole narrative here. What I have presented is simply the framework. There is a lot of detail about Gottlieb’s personal life and there are many insights into the publishing world and into the pleasure and pain of working with authors. If you enjoy that sort of thing you will love this book.


Sacred Music Friday: Abide with Me

The St. Olaf Cantorei and congregation sing “Abide With Me”. Words by Henry F. Lyte; music by William H. Monk. James Bobb, organist and conductor

good work in the community

Our regional newspaper published a heartwarming story recently.

Press Enterprise mastheadThe Press-Enterprise in its local section described the work of the organization known as EEK & Friends. The group is a nonprofit that offers art and music programs at Hemet High School for special needs students. I immediately paid attention to the article because Hemet High is my alma mater.

EEK & Friends has started a theater program for students with special needs. Special needs students often can’t participate in the regular theater program for a number of reasons. One of the Hemet High special needs teachers is quoted as saying, “Some of my students tried being in regular theater classes but there were a lot of after-school requirements they couldn’t meet due to transportation issues.”

The program is led by eighteen-year-old Hemet High graduate Mercedes Evans. Evans had been a theater student at Hemet High all four years. She is currently taking theater classes at the local community college.

The program is funded by the Soboba Foundation. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians has long had a reservation at the Northeastern edge of the San Jacinto Valley. They were a poor tribe until Indian gaming became legal and they built a casino. Now as a wealthy tribe the foundation has done a lot of great work, as I have learned through my participation in the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The full story is here. It’s worth your time.