taking different approaches

sfgate logoI hated leaving the Bay Area in May 2015. But we did what we needed to do. There are good things about being in Southern California and it’s good to be close to family. I follow the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I don’t follow the San Francisco Giants or the Oakland Athletics.

Terry reads the San Jose Mercury News web site, sfgate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle we site, and the Gilroy Dispatch web site. I don’t.Mercury News logo

We’re here in SoCal. I’m focusing on being here in SoCal. No point in making myself unhappy. There Is much to be accomplished here.

being prepared

overshoesThis winter, so far at least, has been one of the wettest here in Southern California in several years. That is great and I love it. The downside is that the drainage in our city of Hemet is less than optimal. It is excellent here in our Four Seasons community, but once we exit the gates it is a mess when it is raining.

When it’s raining you have to cross a virtual river to get from the parking lot to our primary grocery store. I soaked my tennis shoes one rainy day. The office that Terry works out of to do her permit running work has similar issues.

Terry found rain boots at Tractor supply. I looked there, but all they had was oversized yellow hip-high rain boots and overshoes, the largest of which did not fit over my tennis shoes.

So what did I do? I did what I always do when in doubt. I went to Amazon. And I found a solution that works. I’m keeping these in the car.

No more soggy tennis shoes.

expanding our food horizons

spiralizer - sweet potatoTerry and I have both long avoided sweet potatoes. I think it has to do with all those Thanksgivings when relatives would make those awful sweet potato casseroles with marshmallows. But we love our new KitchenAid spiralizer attachment. And as it turns out, only certain vegetables can be spiralized. For example, spiralizing broccoli would simply make a mess. (On the other hand, spiralizing broccoli stalks works very well, and makes for a tasty and healthy pasta substitute.)

When I started noticing, therefore, that a lot of the spiralizer recipes out there use sweet potatoes, I encouraged Terry to give them a shot. She agreed. There was one recipe that looked particularly good. It was a sweet potato enchilada casserole. So I set about spiralizing a sweet potato. I also used the peeler attachment for the first time. That worked quite well, but I learned that I need to actively retrieve the peelings and not let them get mixed in with the rest of the veggies.

The enchilada casserole was great.

Our spiralizer is enabling us to expand our food horizons and to eat more healthily as well.

Sacred Music Friday: Nunc Dimittis

I’m not sure why the liturgical calendar has the presentation of Jesus in the temple on 2 February, well after the baptism on the First Sunday after the Epiphany. I don’t want to wait until then to hear the Song of Simeon. So here it is today.

George Dyson’s Nunc Dimittis in D, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

when not to adapt

Indian Butter ChickenI was looking for a recipe for a weeknight dinner, and I saw a recipe for Indian Butter Chicken that looked really good. I think it was on Pinterest. I clicked back to the original recipe, which was a pressure cooker blog. The recipe looked odd. The cooking time was only five minutes and it didn’t look to me as if there was enough liquid to bring the ingredients up to pressure. I thought about asking the folks at the Yahoo Pressure Cooking group if this made sense. I decided not to.  I knew it didn’t.

Fortunately the blog owner provided her source, which I traced back. The source recipe made much more sense than the pressure cooker conversion. I understand that if you are writing a pressure cooker blog you you are, um, under pressure to offer new recipes, but if it doesn’t make sense to convert a recipe then don’t bother.

I made the source stove-top recipe sans pressure cooker and it turned out great.

photo credit: Ginny. cropped. license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

serving two purposes

thermosSince Terry has been working, part-time at least, and since the days have been chilly, she has been heating up soup on the stove and putting it into a thermos. She also heats water in our hot pot, warms up the thermos with it, and then puts the water back into the hot pot before hot water potfilling the thermos with soup.

There are two good things about this. First, it reminds me of when I was growing up and my dad would heat up soup and put it in a thermos before leaving for work on a cold winter morning.

Second, I don’t have to wait long at all for my hot tea in the morning.

Good stuff, all of it.

The Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods coverThe Garden of the Gods (The Corfu Trilogy Book 3)
Gerald Durrell
Amazon Kindle edition $9.99
Open Road Media, 258 pages
Purchased during an Early Bird Books sale for $2.99

Gerald Durrell wrote three books about his childhood in Corfu. The first was My Family and Other Animals, first published in 1956. I read that book as a diversion when I was in college in the 1970’s. The second was Birds, Beasts, and Relatives, published in 1969. Garden of the Gods was originally published in 1978. When it popped up for $2.99 as an Early Bird books sale I grabbed it.

You may have noticed that PBS ran the British series The Durrells of Corfu last fall. The series was based on this trilogy, although with a number of liberties taken. The present book is, for the most part, lighthearted. There are some grim moments, to be sure, but Durrell writes through the eyes of his thirteen year-old self and never takes himself very seriously.

The trilogy is built around the context of Durrell’s widowed mother taking him along with his two brothers and one sister from England to live on the Greek island of Corfu. Young Durrell was a budding naturalist even before leaving England and was quite in his element in Corfu. The episodes describe the family, the residents of the island, and Durrell’s forays into collecting animals for his menagerie.

Like My Family and Other Animals, Garden of the Gods is an enjoyable diversion.

more on our KitchenAid spiralizer attachment

spiralizer - potatoes Our KitchenAid spiralizer attachment does more than just spiralize. In fact the official name is the KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment with Peel, Core and Slice. We have discovered how well the slice blade works.

I used it on Yukon Gold potatoes for a potatoes gratin recipe. The slices come out in spiralizer - sliced potatoesone long ribbon, but it is easy enough to cut them into individual slices. The nice thing is that all of the slices are highly consistent. When you slice something like a potato by hand, it is hard to make all the slices consistent. Even using a mandolin slices will not be completely consistent as it’s hard to keep one’s pressure consistent on the blade.

Because the slices were all so consistent my potatoes gratin came out evenly cooked and very tasty.

Another reason to appreciate our new KitchenAid attachment.

Sacred Music Friday: We Three Kings of Orient Are

Today is Epiphany. We Three Kings of Orient Are, Angel City Chorale and audience sing-along.

Epiphany: an ambivalent perspective

So much has changed in the last year. The world looks very different, and not in a good way.

One thing that has not changed between now and then is my ambivalent perspective on Epiphany, which we celebrate tomorrow, 6 January. I felt that way last year and I feel that way this year.

Part of me identifies with the cynicism of W.H. Auden:

quoteOnce again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

Read the whole passage here.

The other part of me wants to identify with the optimism of Howard Thurman:

quoteWhen the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost, ….
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

Read the whole passage here.

I think, however, that these times require us to reach deep inside and muster the strength to follow Thurman’s path.

I’ll give it my best.