simplifying my walk

For a number of years now I have listened to lectures from The Great Courses on my iPod when I took my walks. It has worked out well and I really enjoyed it. Recently I wrote about how I couldn’t get a clean copy of the lectures onto my iPod from iTunes. What I did was start streaming my lectures from the Great Courses app, which has worked out fine now that we have a more generous data plan on our iPhones.

Great Courses for iPhone appInitially I was concerned about the transition from WiFi to cellular as I got out of range of our house. Turns out that’s not an issue. That is all handled seamlessly and I listen to the lecture without interruption as I head out.

The other advantage is even better. At one time when I downloaded lectures from the Great Courses I could click a button and it would download all 24 or 36 lectures automatically to iTunes while I walked away. Some time back they changed that, and I had to download each lecture individually. Big pain.

Now that I’m streaming I don’t even have to think about that. And instead of having both my iPod and my iPhone (with the fitness app that records my time and distance) on my belt, I only have my iPhone.

Simpler and easier. Much better!

London Broil

Terry and I had planned to have tri-tip on a recent Sunday. It was on sale at Sprouts for $3.99 a pound. But when I got there the packages were labeled “untrimmed” and there was a lot of fat on the meat. I picked up a London Broil instead. Terry was quite happy with that.

London BroilI found a recipe on for London Broil that had an interesting marinade that included lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and soy sauce. I followed that formula and added a splash of orange juice. To that I added a creole spice blend that I found on a recipe blog for an entirely unrelated dish: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne, oregano, thyme, and salt, which I omitted.

I marinated the steak for a good four hours and broiled it until the internal temperature reached 148, about fifteen minutes. It came out a bit rare for my taste, but it was right in Terry’s wheel house. And she absolutely loved the flavor.

I love it when I can make a meal that my wife really loves.

The Futures

The Futures coverThe Futures
Anna Pitoniak
Lee Boudreaux Books (January 17, 2017), 320 pages
Kindle edition $12.99, Amazon hardcover $14.95

I returned to the world of fiction for this one.

In this novel Julia and Evan are in a relationship at Yale. Julia is from a Boston blue blood family. Evan is a hockey player from a small town in Canada. As graduation rolls around Evan has lined up a job with a brokerage house in New York City while Julia is at loose ends. Not having a lot of options, Julia moves in to Evan’s apartment.

We know from the outset that the relationship is in trouble. Julia tells us that directly in the prologue. In alternating chapters narrated by Julia and Evan we learn of their struggles. The brokerage firm deals with the effects of the Great Recession and Julia finds a job at a non-profit organization through connections her parents had. Evan becomes involved in business dealings that are not only questionable, but downright illegal. Julia is inadvertently (or not) responsible for those dealings being exposed.

Both people make mistakes and both make bad decisions. Each had betrayed the other, as Evan’s friend Arthur pointed out. The book ends a little too neatly and neither Evan nor Julia seem to have to pay for their actions.

Nonetheless, I was carried along by the book and its narrative. The Futures is not a “page turner” in the conventional sense, but I kept turning the pages wanting to know what would happen to the characters next.

salmon with aioli

My recent blog on aioli generated more interest that usual. My cousin commented that aioli is “killer” on salmon. I don’t eat much salmon these days. It’s just too terribly rich for my stomach. But we had a piece in the freezer and I thought it would be worth the experiment.

Salmon with AioliI baked the salmon in our new toaster oven on the convection setting at 400 for about ten minutes. I coated it with the aioli and added another five.

It was excellent. Served with baked potato with all the trimmings, it made for a great Saturday dinner. And my stomach was perfectly happy with that small piece of salmon.

Thank you, Cousin!

Sacred Music Friday: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

The Summer Choir and Congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, Tom Trenney, organist.

Happy Thanksgiving

Blessings of the day!


coconut lime chicken

I found this recipe for coconut lime chicken on Pinterest before I gave up on that social media site because I kept seeing the same recipes over and over again. This one, however, from the gluten-free site, was worth capturing.

I seasoned the chicken with Penzeys 33rd and GalenaCoconut Lime Chicken. I used a fresh, locally grown red Anaheim pepper, so I saw no need for the red pepper flakes. I added fresh chopped garlic. I used vegetable stock as I always do instead of chicken stock. Of course I omitted the onion.

It turned out really well.

If you’re willing to forego serving the dish over rice (as I did) it qualifies as a one-skillet supper.

That works from my perspective.

Crucible of Faith

Crucible of Faith coverCrucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World
Philip Jenkins
Basic Books (September 19, 2017), 296 pages
Kindle edition $19.99, Amazon hardcover $19.45

This is a fascinating book by the author of The Lost History of Christianity, which I very much enjoyed.

In the present volume author Philip Jenkins discusses the period between the final books of the Old Testament and the first books of the New Testament. He describes how ideas like our modern conceptions of Satan and the end times developed after the Old Testament was closed out and before the New Testament began to be written. In fact, Jenkins does write both about books of the Old Testament and books of the New Testament. His main focus, however, is the period of these “crucible years,” as he calls them. He defines this as the period between 250 and 50 BCE.

Jenkins takes the perspective that the Qumran sect (responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls) arose in protest against the Hasmonean priest-kings (the Hasmoneans arising from the Maccabees who took back the temple from the Seleucids). He sees the Qumran sect as being different from the Essenes, though many scholars believe the Qumran group was the Essene sect. In addition to Satan and the end times Jenkins points out that angels appear much more frequently in the writing of the crucible years than in Old Testament writings.

There is a lot more material as well, so if this is a topic that interests you I highly recommend Crucible of Faith.

homemade tortillas

tortilla makerI had been thinking about getting a tortilla press for a long time. I had one that my uncle and aunt gave me many years ago, but it got lost somewhere along the way.

When Terry and I saw Bobby Flay make tortillas on The Bobby and Damaris Show (which episode we watched twice)frying the tortilla we decided that we wanted to give it a shot. I ordered a moderately-priced, highly rated tortilla press from Amazon and when it showed up we went to Cardenas, our Latino supermarket, to get fresh masa and their marvelous marinated flap meat.

the final resultIt’s not as easy as it looks. The first time we made a lot of mistakes and made a lot of modifications. The last three or so tortillas we made came out pretty well, but we still had some tweaking to do in the process.

The second go-round was a disaster. One of the mistakes we made the first time was Mistousing plastic wrap between the press and the masa rather than a cut up ziplock bag as both Bobby and the instructions that came with the press recommended. Our first time out we bought the smallest bag of masa that the store had, but it was still twice what we needed. I asked Siri if we could freeze masa, but all I got back from her was the temperature in Massachusetts. A Google search turned up the result that yes, we could.

Wrong. The masa was crackly and would not hold together. I tried adding water and some additional polenta which I had on hand, but to no avail. No, masa can’t be frozen. Not the kind they make at Cardenas, anyway.

Bobs Red Mill packageAs the cliché goes, third time’s the charm. I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina. We used a cut-up ziplock bag again, and I quickly learned that spraying it with olive oil from our Misto  (not a Mexican cooking staple, I know) was essential. I discovered that the ideal size tortilla came from a 1 ¼ ounce ball of masa, rather than one ounce as Bobby suggested. We learned to use a hamburger spatula rather than tongs when we cooked them. I rolled and pressed thenTerry cooked at 30 seconds a side in a dry (not oiled) cast iron frying pan. We got a rhythm going.

By Jove, I think they’ve got it!

The nice thing is that we know exactly what’s going into our tortillas: Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina, just a bit of salt, and water. That’s it.

We’ll keep moving forward from there.


Sacred Music Friday: Sing Out with Joy to God Our Strength

First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska