half a loaf isn’t so bad

I found something useful at Sprouts. They sell bread in half loaf sizes. They also have a variety of breads in this size.

I originally bought the half loaf size because we weren’t going through our full loaves and the last of the loaf was getting moldy or dry. But there is another valuable use. I like sourdough (or sometimes French or Italian). Terry likes multigrain or whole wheat. If we’re in a mode where we’re eating enough bread we both get what we want at the same time and it won’t go bad. In theory, anyway.

That’s a solution can work.



Sacred Music Friday: Give Us Light

First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, April 8, 2018.

reducing sodium in a small way

I enjoy the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing packets in dishes like my mashed potatoes. The problem is that if you look at the nutrition label the sodium level in those packets is quite high. Other people have recognized this as well, and the recipe files in my Yahoo pressure cooker group contain some homemade alternatives.

Dutch ovenOn Easter Sunday I made pressure cooker pot roast and pulled out the Dutch Oven to boil my potatoes before mashing them in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. The substitute recipe I used to replace the Hidden Valley packet called for parsley, ground black pepper, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme. I omitted the salt (reducing the sodium is the whole point after all), and used white pepper (who wants black flecks in their mashed potatoes?).

It turned out quite well. Both my dad and Terry really liked it. To me it was just as good as throwing in a packet of Hidden Valley.

Other versions call for dill or tarragon, so you can experiment and adjust to your liking.

The Higgs Boson and Beyond

The Higgs Boson and BeyondThe Higgs Boson and Beyond
Professor Sean Carroll, Ph.D.
The Great Courses
purchased audio download on sale for $17.95
If the course is not on sale, check back – a sale price will come around again

While most sets from The Great Courses are twenty-four or thirty-six lectures, this series is twelve lectures. But what a lot of information is packed into those twelve lectures.

You may recall when the announcement of the Higgs Boson was made in 2012. It was a major scientific breakthrough. The Higgs had been predicted by physicists working on the Standard Model of quantum physics as necessary to provide mass at the subatomic level. After the discovery, there were a lot of jokes floating around about the Higgs Boson. (The Higgs Boson walks into a church. The priest says, “Hey, get out of here!” The Higgs Boson replies, “But without me how can you have mass?”)

In this series of lectures Professor Carroll describes the theoretical background to the search for the Higgs Boson. He talks about the researchers who developed the theory and the creation of the Large Hadron Collider on the French-Swiss border, and how it was specifically designed to look for the Higgs. He explains how the phenomenon is actually a field and not a particle, but that it’s easier to talk about it as a particle. Carroll describes how the Higgs cannot be observed directly but must be deduced by the parts into which it decays.

You may know that I buy Great Courses in audio format because I listen to them on my walks. I will say for this course, however, that I believe I missed a great deal taking the audio-only route. If you’re interested in this material I would suggest you buy the DVD or video download.

Amazon is not always the answer

I wrote two years ago about buying food handling gloves from Amazon. That box of 500 lasted until just recently. I have used them regularly while preparing food, but have not been entirely happy with them. They were rather ill-fitting and I couldn’t always get them on fully. That meant if I was chopping something loose floppy glove fingers would get in the way. Rather awkward.

Two years ago I did not fully appreciate what my local Smart & Final had to offer. I have since learned to appreciate the store’s value. For example my Scotch is cheaper there than at BevMo. (And Smart & Final is a lot closer than the nearest BevMo.)

Smart & Final has a good selection of food handling gloves. I bought a box of large gloves, selecting a name brand rather than the S&F house brand. I’m really pleased. They fit well and are highly flexible. I can work much more comfortably wearing them than I ever could with the box I bought from Amazon. The cost for a box of 100 is about the same as what I paid for the box of 500 from Amazon, but the comfort and flexibility they provide make the price difference well worth it.

Sometimes it pays to not reactively default to Amazon.

food handling gloves

Ann Fontaine

We lost Ann Fontaine last week.

Ann was a well-known figure to Episcopalians online. I knew her through her blog, through the Episcopal Café, and through Facebook.

Ann FontaineI was aware that she had some lung issues, but somehow I had the impression that those issues were under control. However, Ann announced before Ash Wednesday that she was not going to observe Lent this year – she had enough to focus on with her own health. She, in effect, put herself into self-managed hospice care. Somewhere around Easter she called in the hospice professionals. Her daughter let us know last week that Ann died peacefully in her sleep.

We will miss her.

I loved reading her blog when she actively maintained it. She was a founder of the Episcopal Café  and an active contributor until recently. I once wrote an article for the Café  in which I described how, though an Episcopalian, I had a big problem with the Trinity and that my theology was much closer to that of rabbinic Judaism. She posted a comment on Facebook saying, “Someone doesn’t understand the Trinity.” That kind of irked me, but she was right. I still don’t understand the Trinity.

Ann was also a Facebook friend. She would occasionally click Like on one of my posts. I appreciated that. She loved baseball, as, of course, do I. She was a big-time Cubs fan. While still in the Bay Area I was a Giants fan, but after moving back to SoCal in 2015 I had no choice but to resurrect my loyalty to the team of my childhood, the Dodgers. There was some discussion a while back about bringing the designated hitter to the National League. Ann posted her outrage to Facebook. A FB friend replied that it wasn’t that big of a deal. And replied, “Yes it is!” I fully agreed with her.

We love you, Ann. We miss you. Rest in peace and rise in glory!

Sacred Music Friday: Hallelujah

Beethoven, Hallelujah from “Christ on the Mount of Olives,” First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, Easter Day 2018

planting a mock orange bush

One of the things about yard work is that it is an ongoing process. I generally do yard work on Tuesdays because Wednesday is pickup day when my yard waste (along with our food waste) is whisked off to a stare-of-the-art plant to be turned into natural gas and fertilizer.

mock orange bushMost of my yard work consists of trimming back excess growth and pulling out dead growth. We had a few late freezes this year and lost some plants. In particular we lost a large spread-out mint plant in our front planter. It took me a couple of separate efforts to pull the bulk of it out. When I had done that I was left with a large empty space.

On a recent Saturday I asked Terry if she’d like to find something to fill that spot. I specifically avoided the big box stores and we went to our locally-owned nursery. The staff member there showed us a variety of options, and we settled on a mock orange bush, which should smell really good when it blooms.

It was a lot of work and digging to put it in, but I completed the job and now it’s part of the front yard. I certainly felt that I’d accomplished something.

chicken piccata

I recently made my own take on chicken piccata.

chicken piccataI sliced a boneless skinless chicken breast lengthwise and pounded it. I mixed Harris Ranch lemon garlic seasoning with flour and dredged the chicken in it. I sprayed my stainless steel Calphalon frying pan with olive oil and cooked the chicken. I put it on a plate in the microwave.

I added cooking sherry to the frying pan and then the juice of a large lemon. I rinsed half a jar of capers and threw that in. I nuked the chicken for a minute, put it plates, and covered it with the mixture from the frying pan.

Marvelous, if you’ll allow me to say so. Certainly Terry loved it.

guess I did say that

Last baseball season we didn’t have the Dodgers on TV as we had Frontier Communications. I wrote that we didn’t need the Dodgers on television as we had the MLB at Bat app and could listen to the radio broadcast with Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday.

That was then. This is now. And I have to admit to at least a bit of sour grapes. Because now we have Spectrum and we get the Dodgers on television. I like having the Dodgers on television. Joe Davis is not as bad as I made out. He’s a pretty decent game caller. He’s not Vin Scully, but nobody is except for Vin.

Charlie and Rick are an excellent broadcast team in the finest baseball tradition, and there’s a great baseball tradition in radio broadcasts, but yeah, really, it’s nice to be able to see the Dodgers on TV.