Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Spiders

It's a cold, rainy Sunday.  Time to get a few chores done around the house after getting more crash pad stuff unpacked. Abby will want some walking but after that some clean up as with both of us being gone much of the summer that chowed  in the cobwebs and dust bisons in some areas of the Range.

But there were more pressing things  than dusting and vacuuming that came to mind. Saturday night.  As we were quietly sipping some 16 year old Glenlivit and watching Dr. Who, the smell of skunk become suddenly obvious. Abby was barking like mad but I knew better than to let her out. The smell was from the front of the house, under the porch.  Looks like Mr. Skunk has found a nice place to hang his hat.

Now there are ways to deal with critters that take up residence under the porch, including. but not limited to, the Redneck Range Critter Round Up Package.
But a skunk, being striker fired, needs a little more stealthy plan. The east end of the basement lays against the back of the porch. so today, a a really loud radio will play there to convince Mr. Skunk he out to sleep elsewhere during the day. Let's see if I can find a station with Polka Music or Justin Beiber. If that doesn't work, there's always CNN.

Til then, It's going to take time to get the smell out of the walk-out basement.  Time for some cross ventilation
 
But in getting the fan, I found that the skunk was the least of my worries.   There was a large assortment of spiders that took advantage of the absence of traffic and set up shop, in the shop.

I don't like to harm the  household ones that eat insects, carefully moving the Daddy Long Legs and such out of the house back into the garden.  But the large nasty ones that like the shop, one of which is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, as well as the risk of Brown Recluses, calls for different tactics. 
I think I'm ready - -

A Pilots Guide to Spider Alert
1. Sanitize flight suit and personal possessions - Check
2. Intelligence - Not much if I'm chasing large spiders with herbal hippie oil
(a). Threats - There's mud, there's nails, there's cobwebs all over the place.
3. SAR procedures - Swatter 11 is ready!
4. Interphone and Radio discipline - No live twitter of jumping spiders
5. Threat Calls - Break Left!  Bogie 1 o'clock! Just seems to be hanging there!
6. Wounded crewmember procedures - Bactine!  Check!
7. Low-level emergencies -  Holy (*#@ one just ran out from under the TR6
8. Battle damage reporting and procedures -  Maybe the broom and the ladder wasn't the best idea
9. Use of lights - The Roar of the Pelican may be small but it doesn't have a 250 knot speed restriction
10. Emergency load jettison procedures - Frankly if one of those wolf spiders jumps on me, there will be a load jettisoned and not in a good way.
11. Bailout procedures  -RUN AWAY!  RUN AWAY!
12. Crash landing/ditching procedures and egress - Everyone to the beer cooler!
13. Ground evacuation  -  see above
14. Use of equipment: parachutes, LPU’s, survival vests, body armor - I have rum,  matches and a large roll of paper towels
15. Altered/non-standard procedures: Slowdown, Random approaches, Escape -

"Tam?  Want to come over for dinner? There's Brisket. 
No, no special reason.  Oh, and bring a flame thrower".

16. Chemical environment -  Why does my shop smell like a Shamrock Shake now?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Night CrockPut

.  
It started one weekend recently when I  was writing down a slow cooker recipe experiment and Partner looked at my notes and said "Crockput?  Is that one of the new Olympic events?"

I, of course, had visions of handsome, burly Scottish guys flying 3 quart crockpots across a field;

"YES, that's new, along with Highland Games Caper Tossing (better than buckshot) and Pizza Stone Put."

I probably shouldn't jot down recipes without my glasses, but this one was a keeper.  I had four whole leg quarters.  There were two of us.  There was just one single leg left over.

Don't let the amount of the garlic or the sugar put you off from trying it. Don't let the really boring pictures keep you from trying it.  With the added juice from the dark meat chicken cooking all afternoon in the crockpot, it makes a wonderful sauce for the chicken, with some leftover for later.  Plus, the chicken is amazingly juicy and tender. I served it with some pasta sautéed with garlic, broccoli and fresh Parmesan and cracked pepper plus some baby carrots.
Crockpot Garlic/Brown Sugar Chicken

In 2 T. of olive oil, lightly saute a heaping 1/4 cup of chopped  jarred garlic, until softened but not browned.
Turn off heat and stir in:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoons of maple syrup
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more if you like it hot)
Stir until sugar is melted.  Place four whole leg quarters or 8 chicken thighs and legs in a crockpot and brush  or spoon sauce over the top.  Sprinkle generously with Janes Krazy Mixed up Salt (this mixture of salt, pepper and spices is inexpensive and very good.) or salt and pepper to taste.

Cook on low 5-6 hours, opening lid and basting with liquid a couple of times if you like. If  you are the type to cook with your crockpot all day while you work, you'd be better off with large whole chicken breasts, otherwise your chicken may cook to the point of falling off the bone, still tasty if you wish to serve over rice with the sauce, but be advised.  (Note: my crockpot tends to cook on the warm side, and quicker than some crockpots.  An internal temperature reading of 165 F. near the bone is the best way to know your chicken is cooked through.)
When chicken is done, remove from pan to keep warm.  Pour sauce into sauce pan and slowly whisk in 2 teaspoons of corn starch mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water.  Bring to a boil on the stove over medium heat and whisk, adding an additional 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup, until thickened and slightly reduced. Pour over chicken and serve with rice or pasta.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If you can eat it with your hands the calories don't count - right?

I started the new job today  All went really well but there's always stress involved and where there is stress there is usually a sensible eating plan being flung out of the window with a trebuchet.

Please check back later in the week for Lettuce and low fat salad dressing.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

You Don't Look a Day Over 1900 - The History of a Browning

From a flaming apron a classic firearm was born.

Christian Friedrich Schonbein (Oct. 18 1799 - Aug 29 1868) was a German/Swiss chemist who is well known for inventing the fuel cell in 1837, but it is another of his discoveries, done  by accident, that impacted firearm design and led, in part, to the invention and production of a seemingly simple little pistol that lives in the gun-safe at the Range.
The story is as follows. Although his wife forbade him to do so, Schonbein liked to experiment in the kitchen (and NOT with flour, sugar and salt).  It is said that on a day back in 1845, he spilled a mixture of nitric acid and sulfuric acid.  Using his wife's cotton apron to clean up the evidence, he hung her apron over the stove to dry, only to find that the cloth spontaneously ignited and burned so quickly it was as if it had vanished. (Honestly honey, I don't know WHAT happened to your apron). What he had done was convert the cellulose of the apron with the nitro groups (from the nitric acid) serving as an internal source of oxygen. When heated the cellulose was completely and suddenly oxidized.
Though it was by accident, the discovery of a method of production of guncotton (nitrocellulose) had occurred.  A crude version of nitrocellulose had been discovered in 1838 by Theophile Pelouze, but he apparently failed to follow up on his initial observations so Schonbein is credited for the discovery. No fool, Schonbein recognized the possibilities here  At the time, the black gunpowder which had been around for hundreds of years, exploded producing thick black smoke. This has disadvantages beyond giving away the gunner's position and obscuring their view of the battlefield. It also produced by-products which essentially "clogged up" the firearm just as it fouled canons.

Nitrocellulose was perceived as a possible "smokeless powder" and a propellant for artillery shells, and apparently, the name "guncotton" stuck.

Schonbein patented his process, giving the manufacturing rights to John Hall & Sons in Faversham. Unfortunately, guncotton  was inherently chemically unstable, burned readily and exploded easily (much like today's modern redhead) so attempts to manufacture it for military use resulted in a number of factory explosions, dozens of deaths. and general mayhem.
It wasn't until after the death of Shonebein that French chemist Paul Vielle found a way to stabilize guncotton into a successful smokeless gunpowder. He called his invention "poudre blanche" or white powder. It burned much faster than black powder and produces comparatively little smoke, hence the "smokeless" moniker.

(Note: in 1891, James Dewar and Frederick Augustus Abel also were able to transform gelatinized guncutton into a relatively safe mixture, called cordite.  The name came about as it could be extruded into long thing cords before being dried.)

How does this little history lesson tie into the Browning 1900?
A number of attempts to create a self-loading (automatic) weapon were made before smokeless powder arrived on the scene.  None of the efforts were truly viable because of the heavy residue of black powder which obviously impacted mechanical function, and not in a good way.

With smokeless powder - that changed and a number of people became working on designs for self-loading firearms, including Mannlicher, Bergmann and Mauser.  The early models had limited sales and were mostly intended for military use.

Along comes John Moses Browning - a man who learned to repair guns in his father's shop before he learned to read and write.  He filed his first firearm patent at an age where most of us were still in college, and through the next decade followed it with another dozen or so patents on various self-loading weapons, both recoil and gas operated.  In 1896 he signed a contract giving Colt's the right to manufacture several of his automatic pistol designs for distribution in the US and Canada.  At the time, it was widely believed that Colt was simply acquiring the right to protect sales of their revolvers, for the established market for self load pistols was not yet established in the United States.
That would soon change.

One of Browning's patents was U.S. patent 621,747, covering the final design for what would be the  single action1899/1900 FN Browning. I believe it is the first production handgun to use a slide.

The design was said to have been presented to arms manufacturer FN  Herstal (Fabrique Nationale de Herstal) in 1898 with production in their Belgium facility shortly following under the designation Modele 1899. The FN engineers who produced this firearm based on Browning's design were astounded by the reliability of the piece when it fired round after hundreds of rounds without a single failure to feed or eject, remarkable in the day. The contract Browning signed with them was said to forbid the sale of the firearm in North America, where Colt already had the right to sell Browning's design.  It is perhaps for this reason that there are not all that many of these guns in the US today as in other parts of the world. 
In 1900, an improved design with a shorter barrel and wider grips was produced as the M1900. These designations were applied retroactive after FN started to manufacture other Browning pistol designs, so initially the M1900 was marketed simply as the "Pistolet Browning".  The gun was manufactured for over 10 years, with some 720,000 + units produced.

Its owners included President Theodore Roosevelt, who is said to have kept a pearl-handled 1900 in the drawer next to his bed.  It quickly earned a reputation for ruggedness and reliability and was soon adopted by Belgium as its service sidearm.  The Belgium Military had requested that their gun have a frame reinforced more than the model 1899.  Therefore, the reinforced portion of the 1900 frame above the trigger guard extends ALL the way around to the rear of the trigger guard, and all the way to the ejection port on the right side, this area being made several thousands of an inch thicker than the 1899.  If you compare it closely to the 1899 it also has slightly larger, thicker grip plates.

Over the years it saw employment by the military of a number of countries, including Austria-Hungary, Greece, Russia, France and Germany.

In appearance, it lacks the streamlined shape of its follow up, the Model 1910 but it has a number of features that contributed to its popularity.  Reliability was one of them. The recoil spring is enclose in a channel above the barrel and also functions as the firing pin spring.  This design will set off even the most stubborn primer.

It also has a separate breech-lock that attaches to the slide by means of a couple of large headed screws (unlike subsequent semi auto's that hit the market.) The safety is a small lever located on the left side of the frame.  Labeled "FEU" (fire" and "SUR" (safe) it's easy to flick to the preferred position (though you could get markings in German and English by special order for sale in other countries.


Holding 7 rounds of  7.65 mm (.32 ACP)  the magazine is secured by a fairly small heel-type catch. Grips are checkered hard rubber and depending on where the gun was manufactured, may display the initials "FN" below a engraved image of the gun itself or  imply "FN". On the Range firearm, the markings on the barrel and frame are FN inspection and Belgian government Liege proof house marks, required by law on all firearms produced in Belgium.
Gunsights are about as basic as you get with a non-adjustable rear notch and rounded blade front The rear sight is unique in that there is a rounded pin that will rise up to block the notch when the trigger is pulled on an empty chamber letting the shooting know the pistol is unloaded, as unlike many firearms the gun's slide does NOT remain open after the last shot

It's surprisingly easy to field strip and clean, having a minimum of parts.

Assembled, at 6 and 3/8 inches long with a weight of just 22 ounces, the 1900 is easily concealed. The frames are hand ground by machinists and may vary sight in shape or length. Drawing from concealed is aided with  round contours that make it easy to draw from pocket or holster without it catching on anything. It didn't achieve great popularity in the States, perhaps due to the popularity of the 1903 Colt, but it was well regarded elsewhere, with copies even made in the Middle East and China, where the pistol was held in particularly high esteem.
So, the Range Browning 1900 is neither complex, nor rare, but I'm glad it is part of the collection.  It's not going to win me any awards with one inch groupings but it's a reliable and well built little piece of history to hold on to and to pass on to the next generation.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Crow Attack!

Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water.

I was going to start on the 1900 review but my hand is still smarting a bit  You see, I had just gotten off of work and I  was just minding my own business when suddenly - from above a shadow, a flurry of black and a sudden stab of pain.


"OWWW!!"

A small trickle of blood was running down my hand and wrist from a small but bloody divot in it.

Crow Attack!

I washed it with soap and warm water so it wouldn't get infected but it still smarts, even a half hour later.
One has to be careful - you never know what seemingly benign creature might attack and there's no time or space for a hasty exit.

Fortunately, with Abby the Lab's help, I was able to round up the offending crows
Who appeared to suffer some damage as well.
That's what I get for putting them on the very top shelf of the pantry. The sharp corner nailed me as it fell as I was trying to nag it on my tippy toes.

Or as Abby was thinking "that's what Mom gets for trying to cheat on her diet."

Stop back by this weekend for the antique firearm shooty review and if all works out, an outing to Broad Ripple for some food with friends while Partner in Grime is in town helping me pack up the crash pad for the move while friends watch the Range.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Barkley Memory - A Day of Rest

From the Book of Common Prayer.

"This is another day, Lord . .
if I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to still still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.
And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly."

Monday, August 17, 2015

"There are things known and there are things unknown,
 and in between are the doors of perception."
-Aldous Huxley

Friday, August 14, 2015

Time for a Break

Folks -

In the next three months I'm moving offices, closing down the crash pad and moving that all to another state and starting a very challenging promotion at headquarters.  Dad is needing more attention and care (the one granddaughter who was close enough to help had to move to Florida when her Navy Veteran husband lost his  IT job and couldn't find one nearby). I'm also trying to write more in my journal for future book vignettes, as opposed to blogging.   I'm also starting a serious cardio program as sitting behind a computer writing two books in a year, and marketing them, took a toll on my ability to kick butt and take names  - hard when you're constantly tired and gained (mumble mumble) pounds.

I'm going to just blog a day or two a week.  I've been having fun with Facebook and the dog blog and am also doing a lot of work with dog rescue through Book of Barkley promotions that takes many hours.  Those are things I wish to continue as they just make me smile.

It's been 7 years of almost daily posts (with some re-posts thrown in when I was on the road or at Dad's with limited computer access).  It's been fun, but I'm going to take a bit of a break from daily blogging  for the next few months for my family, and for me.

I'm tired, the muse is flagging and sometimes it just stops when interrupted by ringing phones and obligations.  So I'm going to take some time for me, to get back centered and physically in top shape as I start some new adventures.

See you in a few days (and there will be a Browning 1900 and bacon) but blogging will be light through the rest of the year.

Love
Brigid

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Posts From the Road - Still Life and Quantum Mechanics

It was once said in an age-old axiom, that an object cannot occupy two positions at the same time. Yet now, with today's technology, it may be argued that it is just possible to do that. The number of places science can go is far greater than I ever believed, even growing up reading Clarke and Asimov at every turn. Most physicists today trying to unite Einstein’s theory of gravity with quantum mechanics focus on microscopic realms beyond the reach of any conceivable experiment. Perhaps the solution that eluded Einstein is much closer at hand, in the strange territory where quantum mechanics just barely emerges into the human world. And we could be in two places at once. Or occupying the same position at two different times. Or fervently wishing we could

You've all had days like that, when simple things went awry, plans made that mattered little to you, mattered much to others, things said, bridges burned, moments that repeated themselves for weeks or months in your head. If only I'd done this, if only I'd said that. Moments in which you wish you could turn back on itself, as if you've never been there. Moments that repeat themselves in your memory, minute by minute, wrong place, wrong time.

Things happen when it is time for them to happen they say, and that moments like those long ago, likely were meant to be. Perhaps today is, as well. It's a sentimental notion, wishful thinking, or to some, a projection of some great plan by some divine power. But where would we be without wishful thinking? How much hard-bitten logic is there in the world? Would an electron have split with simply cold hard logic, and not a bit of wishful thinking by minds whose conceptions are beyond logic. How much hard reasoning is there really? Maybe somewhere out there in the world there is a place where reason is never as comfortable as a familiar sweater, where thought is as flat as a glass of stale ale left forgotten on the counter when the phone rang.


There are people happy to live that way, who lie in quiet acceptance of what is thrust upon them. People who numb the reaches of their mind in the same way someone with chronic pain eases their movements with pharmaceuticals. That person thinks there could be more, that possibilities exist, but there is too much effort involved in the motivation to take them there. It would mean giving up what is safe, getting up, moving forward, and who knows if the outcome would be the best thing they ever experienced, or simply shed more light on a world they would prefer stay comfortably dim. Best to stay still, quiet, and in the dark, they say.

Certainly such a place is safer; where no smudge of desire affects debate, prediction is not contaminated by untried theory and actions aren't clouded by concealed agendas. Still, it is a world flat and colorless as tap water. A world I don't want to live in.

I still have moments where the lone tear for things past come unbidden, yet in each day in me is an increased curiosity for the world around me and what I can take from it, even if reaching for it sometimes causes me to teeter on the edge of a precipice in which only my fate echoes. D.H. Lawrence wrote that in every year we pass an anniversary unaware. That of our own death.

I regularly visited that place. Authors such as Laurence Gonzales write about it in Deep Survival. Where we, as adventurers of the world, circle and circle, climbing faster and higher, up to that spot marked X. That spot that will mark their own demise, flirting with it, teasing, poking the bear. I've seen it enough to recognize and know when I need to stay, and when it's time to leave.

You can do the same in an ordinary life, you can fall off a ladder and break your neck on a lunch break, but we do that blindly. In a life fully lived we engage our fate deliberately, we speak the words we may later regret, but we have to say them. We engage life as a indefatigable opponent that others will wish to tiptoe by, so not to awaken it. We risk our necks, and we risk our hearts, both, cajoled by the spirit of adventure that whispers to us from the dark like a lover, with honeyed voice and strong arms that draw us out of our complacent sleep.

I look at the photos around me on the mantel. Behind a dogsled in Alaska, perched on the side of Mt. Rainer or Mt. Hood with friends, in the pilots seat of a T-6, face flush from doing aerobatics, in one frame, a leaf plucked from the upper levels of an alpine slope. I look at pictures of the last 15 years, time spent alone, graduating from the academy, giving a lecture at a university, a dinner party for friends, going to the gun range with my best friends. I look at more recent pictures, of paths taken, not always straight, but as pristine and intact as the road to glory itself. I look at other frames, vacated or new, awaiting new photos, noting those places to be filled by a heart that is. I am still an adventurer, I'm just an older, wiser explorer of the world, whose limbs and heart though tested still yearn for that last great adventure.


I am two women, at the same place, at the same time. The woman here at the apex of life, and the young woman in the photos seeking untarnished dreams. Two women; the one that I have become, and the one that I will be. That woman someday, silver haired, green eyes wise with age, will hopefully look at pictures I have yet to take, remembering the woman that I am becoming now, hopefully wiser than the young woman I was, but retaining the dreams.

For although many years of life have passed, here still lies ahead miles of water to drift down, endless chasms of sky to cross; horizons that will tilt and change, for there are always challenges. Challenges fueled by dreams that I will take on until until I can no longer draw breath. Dreams that bring with them moments in which I feel the rush of air and catch the scent of warm breath on my face, entering into that other plane of being in which I see my whole life ahead of me, death still beyond it. Moments in which, in the rush of emotion, I am outside of my body. Outside, yet in, looking away, looking beyond, in a rush or pleasure so intense that I know, that even with that risk, I will chase that moment again. I am in two places, within my heart and outside of it, tasting, seeking, reaching up to touch that last crimp with the tips of my fingers, to climb past that X into the light.

I will never fully understand the science that can transport matter, or the circumstances of quantum mechanics that allows for wonders that we can't conceive of. But I can grasp the wonder of my world, in a volcanic rock formed in the earth that holds in place letters from those long gone. In a pressed leaf in a photo frame; a leaf once green, nature's compromise between life and poison, a pragmatic conformation to circumstance, retaining beauty even as it fades to dust.
-- Brigid

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cookie Monsters

Look closely at the photo----------->

Dad is home from his hospital stay a couple of weeks ago following a recent bad urinary tract infection. He needed 24 hour nursing care at home for a few days while I traveled back from where I was working.  But he is off his medication and is now on his feet and back to a normal schedule (morning and pre-bed nursing aide assistance) though he's going to continue to get spoiled a little bit

This picture makes me smile. On the wall at Dad's is a platter that my Uncle the Boeing engineer brought back from a business trip to Iran back in the late 50's or 60's.   He had told my Dad that it was a serving plate, covered with olives and all sorts of tidbits and they gave him the platter as a gift.  I went to snap a photo and only after enlarging it, did I see someone in the kitchen pilfering a cookie.

As is often the case, when I go to visit,  Dad only had packaged cookies from the store, made out of special Keebler Kevlar, so I will usually make a batch when I pop in for a visit, and cousin L. always brings a big bag up when she visits.

Dad was a little low on chips, sugar and real butter. so for this recipe I added in some sour cream for moistness, and a hint of cardamom and orange zest to accent the reduced dark chocolate.  It made a soft, almost cake-like cookie that Dad raved about.

2 cups flour
1 and 1/2  tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 cup butter, gently melted so it's mostly  liquid but not hot
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (not "lite")
1 cup dark chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or grease it well, even if non stick).

In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, cream together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in eggs and sour cream until well blended.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom, stir into the butter mixture. Mix in the orange zest and dark chocolate chips.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons 3 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown.. These will be a soft, lightly colored cookie so do NOT over bake. Let cool on wire rack

Dad didn't get a fancy platter, but after his late afternoon snack of cookies, he did get a small martini and both remotes so he was a happy man.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Today's Game. What's in Your. . . ?

It was a 4:30 wake up and it's going to be a long day.

So I don't have a lot for you today before I head out, except this.

We've done the range bag, and the range purse.  Well, for tonight,  what's in your desk drawer at home? 



click to enlarge photo

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Spot on Dinner

The weekend was busy as I had to head back on the road Sunday late, leaving Partner behind to tend the Range fires.

So Sunday supper was going to be "use what's in the fridge up" before I started the drive back in the evening hours.

Sour Cream Enchiladas.

Creamy, with a hint of smoky heat and lots of cheese and VERY easy to make.  The typical recipe for these calls for chicken but they were really good with ground sirloin cooked up with a bunch of caramalized onion. It made 8 enchiladas, enough for dinner and to freeze for Partner to have some "bachelor dinners" on the nights I'm away.
1 pound ground beef or venison
1/2 large onion

1 and 1/4 cup sour cream (I used "light")
1 and 1/4 cup green salsa (I used Trader Joe's).
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped
generous pinch of ancho chili powder (about 1/8th tsp).

1 and 1/2 cups Mexican blend cheese (jack and cheddar).
8 small flour tortillas.
crushed red pepper (to taste)

Cook onion until soft, adding in ground beef and cooking through, Drain.

In a  bowl mix sour cream, salsa, and finely chopped jalapeno with the ancho chili powder.  Set aside. one cup of it. Spread a couple tablespoons of the remaining sour cream mixture into the bottom of your cooking pan(s).

To remaining sour cream mixture in the bowl - add 1/2 cup of the cheese and stir  it all into the meat mixture.

Place about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture in each tortilla and roll up. Top all of the enchiladas with the set aside cup of sauce and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.  Sprinkle with a small bit of crushed red pepper (optional) top with foil and bake at 350 F. for 25 - 30 minutes, until heated through the the cheese is melted.

You can leave out the peppers if cooking for children or wimps but the green salsa/sour cream is a very good flavor combination

Coming up this week - now that everyone is fed.  A review of the Browning 1900.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Toast to the Birthday Fairy

As I left the kitchen this morning after tidying up from breakfast, I spied it all on the dining room table. I looks like the birthday fairy had arrived. The actual day is later in the week, but Partner in Grime will be on the road so he gave me my gifts now.
The electric pot is for heating water quickly and to the perfect temperature for tea.  With it came a ceramic "Brown Betty" tea pot from England, made as they were centuries ago. The "Brown Betty" origins go back to the end of the 17th century and to the birth of the British ceramic teapot, although in 1700 an ordinary small unglazed teapot made from Red Clay from the Bradwell Woods area in Stoke-on-Trent was a luxury item costing about 12 shillings.

During Queen Victoria's reign, tea became a symbol of Britain's' greatest period of expansion and stability.  Every home owned a teapot, eve if it was the basic Brown Betty, tea no longer being a refined, upper class beverage, but a basis of a whole meal.

With the lovely little four cup teapot, came some scone mix and an assortment of loose leaf tea including vanilla chair, pumpkin spice black, English breakfast, Assam, Darjeeling, caffeine free Rooibos, traditional black tea and Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu-erh.  All from the English Tea Company.
With that, we opened up a package of Biscuits from my favorite, the Brits Store in Lawrence, KS. (Wonderful people to do business with):

http://www.britsusa.com/

What a nice way to relax with afternoon tea. I smiled at the flag - as my DNA testing showed mostly Scot/English DNA (no Irish)  with a bit of German/Ashkenazi Jew and my unsealed birth certificate I got last month confirmed that with my birth mother's very English surname I recognized from history lessons.

It was a happy day - Dad is out of the hospital after a scare last week with a bad infection and is home now with a full time nurse at least through next week when he hopefully he can go back to one morning and pre-bedtime.  I ended up cutting short a work assignment, but that was OK in that when I returned, I got the official news that the promotion is mine if I want it, and I will be located at headquarters about 20 some  miles from the Range (as opposed to 3 and a half hours away in a field office as I've been doing for over two years).
I'll miss being "Gibbs", but being "Director"will have its rewards.

I have the lease on the crash pad til Spring, so no rush to move everything up. I'll start bringing some things now, such as clothes, books, extra kitchen &  decorative items, winter gear and sport and shooting sport supplies and then will bring up the rest of the lamps, pictures and furniture in the Spring (which will go into storage in the basement for a simple, one bedroom retirement weekend cabin in the country). Anything not needed will be donated to AmVets. For the winter, I'll leave the place minimally furnished and decorated and use the place when we visit friends or have a place friends can stay when in town for blog or sporting events.  Since I can't sub lease it, might as well make use of it.  But I hope to be physically relocated work wise this Fall.
Things are changing and with Dad's health and his determination to stay in his home "til they carry me out on a stretcher", things can be both scary and financially draining. But I know how blessed I am in so many ways.  As I looked at the little birthday card checklist Partner in Grime made me, I could only say "I'll drink to that."