tex-mex chicken and black bean soup

Chicken Black Bean SoupSometimes recipes will sit in my Living Cookbook database for a long time before I get around to trying them. Other recipes get made right away when I come across them. Terry had marked a number of recipes in the November issue of Cooking Light for addition to the database. This recipe caught my attention.

It includes chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, and bell pepper. Spices include chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. The nice thing is that you simply throw everything in the crock pot and leave it. I chopped up the chicken at the outset rather shredding it at the end as the recipe specified, so when it was time to eat all I needed to do was serve it.

The recipe made for a nice hearty autumn supper.

giving away razors and selling razor blades

The phrase “giving away razors and selling razor blades” came into common use when discussing inkjet printers. The printers sold for a very low price but one got sticker shock when buying the ink cartridges. I had a similar experience recently.

label makerOur long-time, trusty label maker gave up and died. It refused to spit out the labels we tried to create. Changing the batteries had no effect. I eventually decided to replace it, so I made a trip to Staples. They had quite a selection ranging in price all the way from $19.95 to $64.95. I didn’t see anything in the more expensive models that made them worth the price, so I bought the $19.95 model. It came with a white label cartridge and I bought a transparent label cartridge.

It was only when I got home that I realized that the transparent cartridge was $9.95. Really? There’s a case of (almost) giving away razors and selling razor blades.

The new label maker is quite nice, by the way. It has a whole lot more features than the old one, which we must have had for fifteen years or more. It includes an LED display, which the old one did not have. We were making labels blind and only saw our mistakes when we printed the label. We’ll get good use out of this new label maker.

recipe fail

I write a lot about my successful recipes here, but not every attempt is a success.

shrimp on the grillI recently tried an orange-chipotle shrimp recipe which I had successfully made before. The first hurdle was the frozen shrimp that I bought. It was “deveined-tail-on easy to shell and ready to cook.” When I opened the package the shrimp was icy. Not just frozen, but icy. I attempted to remove the shells in the defrost process and in the cooking. But when the dish got to the table there were a couple of shrimp still not properly shelled.

Big fail from my perspective. I’m not Alice Waters or Julia Child, but I do take pride in my cooking. (Though, Julia, I recall, sometimes owned up to her failures.) Terry liked the meal but I was unhappy with the shelling fail.

You can’t win ’em all.

Sacred Music Friday: For the Fruit of All Creation

Plymouth Choir and Congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska


Hippie coverHippie
Paulo Coelho
Knopf (September 25, 2018), 304 pages
Kindle edition $12.99, Amazon hardcover $16.25
I somehow managed to snag this title when the Kindle edition was briefly on sale for $2.99

I have known Paulo Coelho’s work for some time. I read his novel By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept quite a few years ago. Terry read his more recent novel, The Alchemist.

This book is something of a departure for Coelho. It is autobiographical, but he tells the story in the third person, referring to himself as Paulo. He writes about his younger days and a bus journey he takes across Europe headed for Nepal. Before he gets deep into that story, however, he describes his unjust abduction and torture by a paramilitary organization in Brazil. That incident informs his encounters with authority throughout the book.

The main narrative begins in Amsterdam where he encounters Karla, who convinces him to join her on a trip on the “magic bus” headed for Nepal. Said magic bus is in fact a rickety school bus filled mostly with young hippie types seeking enlightenment. Interestingly, Coelho describes what he believes to be Karla’s thoughts, even though the book is supposed to be entirely factual.

The book ends before the bus arrives in Nepal because Paulo does not stay on it. But how that comes about and what happens to Paulo and Karla’s relationship I will leave to you to discover when you read the book.

paprika chicken

paprika chickenI saw this recipe for paprika chicken on Trisha Yearwood’s Food Network program. The recipe called for a whole chicken cut up; I used boneless leg meat. The recipe called for onions, which I omitted as usual. I pretty much followed the recipe with respect to the seasonings, browning the chicken, and using bell pepper, tomato paste, broth, and sour cream.

The recipe took less time than the recipe specified because I used boneless chicken rather than bone-in chicken pieces. It turned out quite well.

Terry enjoyed it, which is always the most important thing.


For a long time I was an Audible member and listened to audiobooks while I was out walking. Amazingly, my old Audible account still exists and I was able to see that I was a member from 2002 to 2010. I cancelled my subscription because I was not happy with the selection of books available from Audible at the time and because I was not happy with the cadence and tenor of how many books were read. I also discovered The Great Courses. I found the thirty-minute lectures perfect for my walks and the rhythm of the lecture more natural to my ear.

AudibleI am rethinking that. There are a lot more books available in audio format these days. It seems that most books from the (few remaining) big publishing houses are available in audio format. Many books are read by the author, which is a big plus. And as much as I love The Great Courses, I have listened to most of the courses they have in which I am interested and their newest courses don’t always match my interests.

But here’s what caused me to write this. Penguin Audio has re-released an old audiobook, originally published on audio cassette (remember those? I no longer even have a cassette player!), of Elaine Stritch reading selected stories of Dorothy Parker.

Did you get that? Elaine Stritch reading Dorothy Parker! Here’s the review in The New York Times Book Review.

That is more than enough to make me think about listening to audio books once again.