Wasn’t That a Time

Wasn't That a Time coverWasn’t That a Time: The Weavers, the Blacklist, and the Battle for the Soul of America
Jesse Jarnow
Da Capo Press (November 6, 2018),  297 pages
Kindle edition $13.99, Hardcover $15.43

If you are interested in the history of folk music in America this is fascinating reading.

The Weavers were a highly influential folk group in after World War II and throughout much of the 1950’s. The book discusses the background of each member of the group and how their paths led them to form the Weavers. A large portion of the book discusses the group’s struggle with the blacklist. It was interesting to learn that blacklist pressure came not only from the House Un-American Activities Committee but from private organizations intent on rooting out people they suspected to be Communists or Communist sympathizers.

The author describes how the driving force behind the Weavers, the great Pete Seeger, left the group when the group consented to do a commercial jingle, which, ironically, never aired. Jarnow even describes the collaboration of the only female in the group, Ronnie Gilbert, with the next-generation activist singer Holly Near. In fact it was on Holly’s CDs that I first became familiar with Gilbert.

If the era and the subject matter interest you this book is well worth your time.

buttermilk-hot sauce brined chicken

I took some liberties with this recipe.

buttermilk-hot sauce chickenI made the marinate pretty much as specified, with buttermilk, hot sauce, brown sugar, and pepper. The recipe said to marinate for twenty-four hours, I marinated for six. The recipe called for skin-on, bone-in breast and leg quarters. I used boneless breasts. The recipe specified cooking on an outdoor grill over indirect heat. I used our stovetop grill pan and because I used boneless breasts cooking took only several minutes, rather than the hour and fifteen minutes as stated in the recipe.

I made the baste more or less as specified with ketchup, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, and butter.

The result turned out quite well.

repairing my favorite jacket (and remembering a getaway)

Somehow it seems that most of the jackets that I own my marvelous wife Terry bought for me. But one is my favorite. It is a Pendleton. I love it.

The jacket has quite the history. Back in December 2010 Terry and I headed up to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for her birthday. It was mid-afternoon on our way into the town of Sonoma and I was in one of those need-food-now low blood sugar states (these days the word is “hangry”). We therefore stopped at the first restaurant we saw, which was Pizzeria Capri Ristorante. (I didn’t actually remember that. I’m referring back to my account of the trip on this blog.) It was a cold, rainy day. The pizza was delicious and the place was playing acoustic music from the Coffee House channel on SiriusXM. We checked in at the resort and did very little the rest of the day except for enjoying the fire in the fireplace and some wine. We likely had cheese and crackers or something similar as well.

Pendleton jacketThe next morning we had breakfast at the coffee shop affiliated with the resort but facing out on the main street of town. Terry did a spa treatment in the afternoon and I did some writing in our room while it rained. We had dinner at the Santé Restaurant, which was relaxed and leisurely with marvelous food and impeccable service. It was a marvelous weekend.

It was that morning, however, after breakfast at the coffee shop that we went across the street to a local espresso shop. Next door was a Western shop. In the window was a beautiful Pendleton jacket. I asked Terry if that could be my Christmas present rather than the new jeans jacket I had originally asked for. She liked the jacket as well and was quite agreeable. Thank you, Terry!

The jacket is very well made, except for the pockets, which quickly wore through. This was a problem, as I would take Tasha for her walks on cold mornings and I would have to dig into the jacket lining to retrieve Tasha’s pickup bags. I kept thinking that I needed to get that fixed, but never did.

Earlier this month Terry went to a local tailor shop to have an outfit of hers repaired. When she was going to pick it up I asked her to take the jacket in. She did and the pockets are now repaired.

I only regret that I took so long to have that done.

thinking about pancakes (and then…)

pancakesI was thinking about pancakes recently.

We have an electric waffle iron and we make waffles for breakfast periodically. I have never really made pancakes, however. I thought that would be fun, but I didn’t want to buy an electric pancake grill when we had the electric waffle iron. I thought a stovetop grill would be a good idea so I checked with Terry. She agreed, but for a different reason. She had been looking at them and thought it would be great to grill chicken, fish, and beef inside when it was too cold, too wet, or even too hot outside.

I turned to Amazon (of course) and found an economical reversible grill thatburgers was just about the right size for our stove, and much less expensive than the ones that were a bit larger and would have probably been too big for our stove anyway. I ordered it.

I was a bit concerned about the pancake side of things (pun intended) as one of the Amazon reviews said the flat side was rough. I made pancakes the day after the grill arrived, however, and I was absolutely delighted with the result. That evening I made hamburgers on the side with ridges and they were marvelous as well.

The grill is cast iron, so with proper care it will last forever. It is a bit hard to clean, as is most cast iron, but for the cooking that we can do on the grill it is well worth the effort.

We made a great addition to our kitchen at a very reasonable price.

Sacred Music Friday: He Comes to Us as One Unknown

Arrangement by John Ferguson, First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska.

a tortilla problem solved, it seems

I’ve written here about buying a tortilla press and making my own tortillas. I have written about my struggles in getting things right. And I have never been totally satisfied. One of my problems was when we would make fajitas (or soft tacos, depending on your perspective) the tortillas would split.

masa packageWhen I bought masa I would always buy Bob’s Red Mill. The company is known for its quality, and I thought it a good choice. The last time I was planning on making tortillas, however, I was shopping at Sprouts. They carry the Bob’s Red Mill brand, but not the masa. They did have a brand called Gold Mine, so I bought that. The Gold Mine brand looked smoother and less grainy than the Bob’s.

When I went to make the wet masa mixture (I dive in with my food handling gloves) it definitely felt smoother and less grainy. I started to make the tortillas and I had a mess. They kept falling apart. But I knew what the problem was: too much water. I asked Terry to add more dry masa to the bowl. (Once again I was wearing food handling gloves and my hands were covered with the masa mix.) That did it. Terry and I got our tortilla production line going.

When we sat down to eat and I put the beef and toppings on the tortilla, folded it and began to eat there was no split! Wow. And that held true for two more tortillas.

I never thought that the brand of masa would make a difference, but it did. Bob’s Red Mill has a great reputation, mostly well-deserved, but it seems their masa is not the best choice for making tortillas. I’m delighted to have found Gold Mine which gives me the result I am looking for.

a simple tech fix

I wrote a while back about buying a second Roku for the bedroom so I could watch streaming programs while Terry was watching something else in the living room. I mentioned that the television in the bedroom is an inexpensive not-smart TV with only two HDMI ports. Since one port is connected to the cable box I had to disconnect the Blu-Ray to connect the Roku.

HDMI switchI didn’t like the idea of the Blu-Ray being disabled, however, and I thought that since there are USB hubs for computers there must be HDMI hubs for televisions. There are. And they’re not that expensive. The HDMI switch I found on Amazon was $9.98 and using my Amazon VISA points the device cost me $1.63.

That means I just punch the button on the HDMI switch to toggle between the Roku and the Blu-Ray.

How cool is that?

and now, interesting lunches

Lunch around here has been a rather boring affair except for those times when we go out to eat. Often I’ll heat up a frozen meal. Terry will open a can of soup. Sometimes we’ll make sandwiches using deli meat from Sprouts. Really pretty pedestrian.

paniniI was thinking about this when my dad asked for the second time what we wanted for Christmas. I don’t recall what jogged the thought, but it occurred to me that a Panini press would be really nice. I checked with Terry and she agreed. I looked on Amazon and found the Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press. It’s not expensive and it is quite compact (something that matters in our kitchen). I passed that information on to my dad.

Dad is really great when it comes to follow-through on Christmas presents. That is exactly what we got for Christmas. On the 26th I headed straight over to Sprouts (carrying a gift card from my brother and sister-in-law) and bought a bunch of deli meat along with a small loaf of sourdough bread. There was also that bottle of Sriracha mayonnaise that looked so inviting.

Terry and I got creative and we were both pleased with the outcome. I’m not sure why the same ingredients cold or heated in the toaster oven are so everyday but become transformed into such a tasty delight when made in the Panini press.

But they do.

Add to that the fact that my brother and sister-in-law gave us a copy of The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook, which is full of tempting and mouthwatering recipes, many of which scream, “It’s not just for lunch!”

Much to learn. Much to explore. Much to enjoy.

chicken with romesco sauce

chicken with romesco sauceI was having a hankering for Valerie Bertinelli’s Romesco sauce. It consists of almonds, garlic, smoked paprika, a jar of roasted red pepper, and sherry vinegar.

The original recipe was for grilled shrimp, but we had just had shrimp the previous Saturday, so I made it with chicken instead. I cooked the chicken in the skillet with Penzeys 33rd and Galena seasoning. For the Romesco sauce we had some leftover pine nuts in the pantry which I threw in. Not sure I’d do it again, but it made for an interesting variation.

Overall, a nice Saturday dinner.

Sacred Music Friday: We Are an Offering

Some time back I shared a sacred dance version of this song. Here is a very nice solo rendition.