Sacred Music Friday: Open Your Ears, O Faithful People

Open Your Ears, O Faithful People (Torah Song), sung by the Plymouth Choir and Congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, on January 22, 2017

pharmacist knows best

There seems to be, or at least there once was, a perception among some doctors that patients are more likely to take their medication if they only need to do so once a day, and at bedtime. Author Susie Bright discussed this when explaining why doctors preferred to prescribe a certain brand name medication that required one dose a day, as opposed to its generic counterpart that required two.

rx symbolMy doctor in Silicon Valley seemed to have that perception. When I first started seeing him I wasn’t taking any medication, but eventually I was taking both blood pressure and cholesterol medication. The blood pressure medication evolved to include a diuretic, but my doctor continued to reiterate the “once a day at bedtime” regimen. At one point my pharmacist in Gilroy raised his eyebrows when I said I was taking everything at night, but I didn’t change my routine.

When we switched to Kaiser this year we had to do consultations with the pharmacists on our medications as we were new in their system. Again, the pharmacist mentioned taking the diuretic combo pill in the morning. I decided that maybe I should pay attention.

I switched all of my medications to the morning. Big difference. Fewer bathroom trips at night and longer blocks of continuous sleep. My daytime routine is hardly altered at all.

It pays to listen to the pharmacist.

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grill or barbecue?

gas grillWhen I was growing up, my dad would put charcoal on the grill outside, light it with lighter fluid, and then we would cook hamburgers. We called that barbecue. When I moved to Oklahoma at the end of the 1970s I learned that barbecue was when you cooked chicken, beef, or pork in smoke at a low temperature for a long time. When I moved to the Bay Area in the mid 1980’s I learned that cooking outside was called grilling.
Whatever it’s called, Terry and I did a lot of it during our years in Gilroy. We bought a gas grill and it got a lot of use. We left it behind when we moved south in 2015 and have very much missed it. Recently, however, with Terry having a part-time job and me getting a little freelance income we decided we could afford a new gas grill.

We bought one from Amazon, put it together, and immediately fired it up. Whether it’s barbecue or grill, we love it.

the art of Casablanca

I recently read  a review about a new book on the movie Casablanca. It reminded me of some things I had read in the past.

Apparently the first choice for Rick was Ronald Reagan. Really? That never would have worked.

Bogart and BergmanHumphrey Bogart was essential in making the movie what it became. He was a master of dialogue. I understand that the script read, “Here’s good luck to you kid,” but Bogie made it “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.” The original script said, “Of all the bars in all the world why did she have to show up in mine?” Bogart rendered the line, “Of all the gin joints in all the world why did she have to show up in mine?”

The movie holds up well. We have it both on Blu-Ray and DVD. Terry and I like to watch it on a cold winter’s Saturday evening, preferably with a bottle of port. The ending always brings tears to both of our eyes.

Here’s lookin’ at Casablanca.

pressure cooker chicken mole

chicken moleThis is an amazingly simple but tasty recipe. Looking through my files I found a recipe for chicken mole, but I didn’t like the technique or the fact that it used frozen chicken. So I did it my way.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Mole

serves 2


  • Fresh or thawed chicken breasts, cut into four strips, about 8 oz total
  • mole sauce, 8 oz container
  • brown rice


  1. Spoon half of the mole into a bowl. Mix with enough water to make a sauce to your liking.
  2. Coat the  chicken in the mole sauce.
  3. Heat 2 cups of water in the microwave for 4 minutes.
  4. Put the rack in the electric pressure cooker. Add the water. Put the chicken on the rack.
  5. Set the pressure cooker to 10 minutes on High.
  6. Allow natural pressure release for 10 minutes, and then do a manual pressure release.
  7. Serve with brown rice.

Very tasty!

Sacred Music Friday: Look at the World

It’s been too long since I’ve shared a John Rutter work. Enjoy!

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, February 17, 2008, The Mark Thallander Foundation Choir Festival

not in a Lenten state of mind

Some years I am ready for Lent. Other years I am not. This year I was not.

keep calm and put ashes onI missed the Last Sunday after Epiphany because I was without my hearing aid. I missed Ash Wednesday for the same reason and because Tasha was in serious need for a trip to the groomer and Terry was working.

I was, however, made very much aware of the season on the first Sunday of Lent. We did the Great Litany. Sigh. “From the Great Litany, Good Lord deliver us,” Father Phil in Morgan Hill once said.

We are now deep into Lent, and I’m just not there with it. It’s simply one of those years, I suppose.

scratch pizza

I love making pizza from scratch, but I don’t do it terribly often as it is a lot of work. My latest foray, however, I believe was my best effort since leaving behind my convection oven in Gilroy.

I have developed a set of steps for making pizza, which I adapted from the instructions that came with a Chicago Metallic pizza pan. This is just about right for a 12-inch pan.

Scratch Pizza


  • ⅝ cups warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 ½ tsp (1 packet) yeast


  1. Mix ingredients in a stand mixer (KitchenAid, of course).
  2. Let rise 1 to 1 ½ hours, punch down.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Grease pizza pan with olive oil, roll out dough.
  5. Bake for 5 minutes on middle rack.
  6. Add sauce and toppings.
  7. Bake 15 minutes on lowest rack.

For the sauce I use a Spicy Pizza Sauce recipe from Cooking Light. I drained the canned tomatoes and (roughly) doubled the tomato paste which made for a thicker sauce without the liquid that I had experienced previously. I like a smooth sauce so I blended it using my immersion blender.

I used Provolone for the cheese and topped the pizza with bulk sausage from the service meat department, fresh white mushrooms, and sliced black olives.


scratch pizza

a victory for the Oxford comma (and for grammar nerds)

Grammar nerds are delighted at the news story last week that the Oxford comma decided a court case. Being a grammar nerd who loves the Oxford comma, I got caught up in the excitement.

The Oxford comma, or serial comma, is the final comma right before the conjunction in a series of words. Some style guides favor it, others say to omit it. The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage says not to use it. The Chicago Manual of Style tells us we should use it.

Here is an example: “I had eggs, toast, and orange juice.” If you omit the final comma (I had eggs, toast and orange juice) the sentence could be read as telling the toast and orange juice that you had eggs for breakfast.

In fact, eliminating ambiguity is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the Oxford comma. Take this example: “This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.” While this was probably never really a dedication in a published book, I love it nonetheless. The implication that the author is saying that his parents are Ayn Rand and God really strikes my funny bone.

And the court case? The court case was all about ambiguity. In Maine a group of dairy delivery drivers believed they were entitled to overtime pay. Their employer said they weren’t. The relevant statute states that workers involved in the following activities are not eligible for overtime:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods. 

Note the missing comma before the “or.” Because that comma was not there, the court read “packing for shipment or distribution” as a single activity, when in fact “packing for shipment” and “distribution” were probably meant to be understood as separate activities. Nonetheless, the judge sided with the (missing) Oxford comma and ruled that the delivery drivers were eligible for overtime.

Here’s to the Oxford comma!

Tandoori chicken kebabs

Tandoori Chicken KebabsI’m always happy to have a new recipe for my NuWave oven, and I love Indian food. I’m not sure where I came across this recipe for Lean Tandoori Chicken Kebabs, but I had added it to my database at some point. It nicely covered both categories, so I decided to make it on a recent Saturday.

The first thing I did was to make the marinade the evening before in order to give it a full 24 hours. That was the right thing to do.  The chicken came out very flavorful. I followed the recipe for cooking times plus a couple of minutes, and I think it was a bit too long. The chicken was a tad dry. But I put both a lemon and a lime on our plates, and drizzling on the citrus made up for any dryness and added a little zing.

The basmati rice on the side worked well.

It made for a great Saturday dinner.