Tuesday, November 30, 2004

FOR YOU AMATEUR DETECTIVES-JACK THE RIPPER

Apparently, there are those who cannot tear themselves away from the arms of the "Desperate Housewives" on American television in the evenings.   The various crime-and-investigation shows throughout the years have not done badly for themselves, though, and the creepy "CSI" offerings attest to the continuing popularity of the genre.  Are you interested in the unsolved case of Victorian London's Jack The Ripper? Today, I stumbled upon a website (via Oxblog) which gives the viewer the opportunity to sift through mountains of evidence and attempt to solve the crime, themselves!

The extensive Casebook:Jack The Ripper offers the amateur detective the opportunity to play Scotland Yard and explore the notorious case. Ah, but can it be solved? Even if you are not interested in doing that kind of "work", it is a rather fascinating read, and includes message boards where sleuths share information and theories. What fun, for a gloomy, wet and cold winter's day - how perfectly English!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

MOTHER'S WEEKEND ROUNDUP

After having a safe and comfortable Thanksgiving with the ones I love, I find myself thinking about our uniformed services.   Actually, I think about them daily, and I hope that you do too.  They are not just in the mountains and deserts of the Middle East, but everywhere they need to be to keep us safe. Do not forget that they are our frontlines on the WOT...and in case you have let yourself become complacent about that, you should know that the Madrid bombing has now been linked to 9-11.  This is never just going to go away on its own.

Thank you, every one of you, who are taking care of business for us.

Fallen Marines
Texas Soldier's Funeral
Online Petition supporting Marine in Fallujah
Belmont Club looks at Fallujah,here and here.  Be sure you read the last few paragraphs of the former- but not if you have a weak stomach. We are doing the right thing, make no mistake about that.
A nice "Happy Thanksgiving" piece to look at over at Mudville...and a thought-provoking Thanksgiving message from Greyhawk himself...
Blackfive suggests Pat Tillman for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year- should there be any question?  Go see what he has to say and go vote-often!
The Paratrooper of Love also had a link to a great Thanksgiving story about our people in Iraq going through much more than the woods to get Thanksgiving to their buddies!

All of this should make you want to do something! Do not just think of our Troops-take action!  'E-mail them , get with the USO, the VFW and anyone else who is doing something for the Troops.  Adopt one soldier or a platoon, but do it now.

Here a just a few to choose from:

Soldier's Angels,
Adopt a Platoon,
Adopt a Sniper,
Adopt Any Soldier,
Operation Gratitude
and the new Department of Defense site, America Supports You.
The Holidays are upon us, and there may be a tiny possibility things could get through before Christmas, but the need will not stop then. Do your part.

THANKFUL ON THANKSGIVING

Here it is, late on Thanksgiving evening, and now it is time to reflect...As a Christian, I must praise God, and thank Him for all of the gifts He has heaped upon me.  For, without Him, there is nothing! Thank You, God, for the breath of life; this world, for my being an American, for my wonderful parents. Thank You for my sweet and understanding husband and our darling children. Thank You for granting me such mercy, and opening my eyes to so much.

I am so thankful for the generations of people who have made the sacrifices that have brought forth this great nation of ours, especially those whom have made the ultimate sacrifice. None of us can be certain of our future, not even of the next day. America exists because of those who made the choice to step forward, to take the chances, to take on the responsibilities of seeking a new way of life.  From Christopher Columbus, on, those very courageous people have eschewed the comforts of the known for the difficulties of the pathways to hope. It is not without some expectations of their own that they have done this, but they have always carried the futures of others with them.

So, as I sit here at my keyboard, in my warm and safe home...after I have spent the evening with my loved ones, or conversed happily on the phone with them...I must now think my most serious thoughts, and pray my most serious prayers. I pray for the health of those in my family who will recover from their illnesses, and I pray for the comfort of those who will not.  I pray so strongly, too, for the safety of all of the men and women in uniform who are making the sacrifices that I may be here now. Dear God, Thank You for those people... keep them safe and give them courage. Please shower extra love upon their families, who must miss them more at times like now - and please give extra comfort to those who feel the pain of the greatest loss.

I am thankful to be an American.

SUPPORTING THE TROOPS

Go over to the Rottweiler and see what they have to say - read the comments too.  On this day, above all, we should be thankful for those who are putting it all on the line for us (as we sit back patting our bellies while considering the turkey sandwich...)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

IN THE ARTIST'S STUDIO

Today, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit sent us over to look at a comment about the (wonderfully terrific, fun and uplifting) movie, "The Incredibles".   I cannot say I particularly agree with the author's assessment of the movie in relation to a certain other movie, but that is not what I found to be so fascinating there.  There are many real treats to be found at the Quent Cordair Fine Art website.  There, you will find the beautifully rendered work of "Romantic Realists" (if it supposed to be a painting of a beautiful woman, she is, and all of her correct number of parts are in the proper place!)

Go visit this "art gallery" on the web.  The real treat (in my estimation) is the opportunity presented to observe the different stages of progress of featured works, complete with artist's commentary!   I have not seen this before , although that does not mean it does not exist elsewhere...This access to the creative process is such a valuable gift, thank you, thank you, thank you!

MOTHER'S STUFFING FOR THE BIRD

Cooking can be a joyous and creative activity, allowing us to extend our love to others from our hearts and hearths.  Whenever we prepare food,however, we must remember safety. Work hard not to cross-contaminate work-surfaces and utensils.  Wash everything with warm soapy water before re-using, and spray flat surfaces with a bleach spray or other anti-bacterial! Do you use the same sponge or cloth for everything? Using a fresh paper towel can help prevent this, as well as discourage the growth of bacteria found on sponges and used cloth towels.  Today's strong (and yes, more expensive, but I really believe this is one product which is worth the extra cost) paper towels can be used for many cleanups and other kitchen chores (including washing the dishes and pans) before they fall apart.  Make sure that pets and children are not underfoot to get splashed, burned or scalded, and keep pothandles turned inward (so as not to catch on a sleeve and spill.)  Make sure fire safety equipment is available and that you are comfortable with the proper procedures for handling kitchen emergencies such as different kinds of fires,cuts and burns. Do not leave food out in the open for too long when it should be chilled, and commit to "err on the side of caution" when you question whether or not it is safe to consume. Check out this FDA website about food and kitchen safety and here for the Shriner's kitchen safety and burn prevention tips and the Tempe (Arizona) Fire Department had a quick-to-read page on kitchen safety (accident and fire prevention, including for grilling.) All of these precautions will help insure a safe and happy Holiday for you and yours!

For a 12-pound turkey (which would feed 6 adults and 4 children), this recipe will yield approximately 9 cups of stuffing:

-1/4 cup minced onion
-1-1/2 cups chopped celery (stalks and leaves included)
-1/2 cup butter or margarine
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1 can chicken broth
-9 cups soft (fresh) bread cubes (any flavor, including cornbread)---or--- a 14 oz. (large) bag of purchased dry bread stuffing

The dry purchased stuffing bread cubes or crumbs are usually already seasoned with spices, so add the below only if you are using your "own" or "fresh" bread.

-2 teaspoons salt
-1-1/2 teaspoons crushed dry sage
-1 teaspoon thyme
-1/2 teaspoon pepper

The chopped onion and celery may be sautee'd in the butter on top of the stove at medium heat until they are clear
OR MICROWAVE THEM
Microwave the onions and celery separately with no butter or oil in a covered casserole dish, on high power for 1-1/2 minutes at a time, until transparent. Rotate and stir them after each round to ensure even cooking. This method obviously saves on time and can provide a way to cut back on fat calories if less fat is used later in the recipe. The celery and onion can be done ahead and frozen if the meal is days away.

In a large bowl (or several, just divide the ingredients evenly) mix the bread crumbs, spices (if you are using them) and the cooked onions and celery.
At this point, you may decide to de-fatten your stuffing considerably.
You may use all of the olive oil and butter, or just add enough of each in equal amounts to flavor the stuffing...Maybe totaling 1/2 cup of fat overall, or even down to 1/4 cup?  You may even choose to use only the olive oil if cholesterol is a big concern.  (Do not skip using all of the oil or butter, but remember that this will be soaking up juices from the turkey, too!) In a large bowl or pan, mix the chicken broth and enough melted butter, olive oil or more chicken broth to equal 1-1/2 cups.
Pour the chicken broth and oil/butter mixture over the breadcrumbs, stirring well to moisten the stuffing.  If the stuffing is still not evenly moist (sticks together loosely, but not soaked), then add more chicken broth (or bullion.)

Prepare the turkey for stuffing by rinsing the inside cavities (abdominal and neck), and proceed to stuff the bird only right before it goes into the oven, because otherwise it becomes a food-poisoning opportunity (Remember, it is not just the in-laws who are sharing the meal!).  Do not pack the stuffing in hard. Again, I suggest referring to the Butterball site for "lessons" on stuffing!

If there is any leftover stuffing, (I never could get that much into the bird), you may put it in a greased casserole dish to pop it (covered) into the oven after the turkey has come out for about 1/2 hour , or MICROWAVE it on MEDIUM for 10 minutes. It could probably use some more chicken broth (since it will not be basting in turkey juices), and I like to scoop some of the turkey drippings up and pour them (mixed with some broth) over the stuffing before I cook it.

CHESTNUTS ROASTING

Chestnut dressing is a tradition in my family, and it is easy to make, as long as the chestnuts are available.  Blights have really affected the crops, and one never knows what size chestnuts wait at the grocers-if any are available at all.  I have not seen them yet, this year, but I am going to the store today. The dark brown, smooth nuts are almost heart-shaped and these days seem to range from the diameter of a quarter to that of a silver-dollar in size. The cooked meat (roasted) is somewhat sweet in taste, and soft in texture.

We have always roasted our chestnuts on a baking sheet, in the oven. To keep them from exploding, cut an "x" on the flat top with a paring knife.  (Be very careful that you do not cut an "x" on the tip of your thumb...But actually, that can be a special Thanksgiving tradition of its own!) If you wrap the blade of the knife with electrician's or duct tape, (leaving about 1/2 inch of the tip exposed), that will lessen your chances to cut yourself when preparing the nuts!

Preheat your oven to 425 F, and lay the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-25 minutes (according to how big they are.) After the nuts have cooled use the paring knife to peel the outer shell and the inner membrane from the meat. Chop the nutmeats coarsely and mix in with the above stuffing recipe made with white bread (as opposed to corn bread.)   These nuts are often fairly expensive, but I have found that a little flavor goes a long way. A half-pound of chestnuts would be fine for the above amount of the recipe, although the more, the better!

Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2004

THE MARINE RIFLE PLATOON

You know, I just love our military!  I saw this over at Blackfive's, and just had to send you over to see! Be sure and take a look around while you are there, there is a lot going on that you should be thinking about.

MOTHER'S COOKING SCHOOL- THE TURKEY

As we approach this Holiday Feast of ours, in Thankfulness to our God, Creator or whatever fates one might think brought us to thrive on these shores, consider the turkey.   Such succulent delight, infused with the memories of all of the Thanksgivings before. It is this very creature, this gift of nature that the esteemed Benjaminn Franklin dubbed, "a bird of courage", which rests in such beauty in his eternal slumber upon our boards. So, remember, do not fear the Turkey...It cannot hurt you (anymore).

HOW TO BUY A TURKEY

If you have never bought a turkey before, there are a few things to consider:
-How many servings do you need?
-Where are you going to cook it, is your oven big enough?
-How soon do you need it, and where are you going to store it before cooking?  (This may make the difference between choosing a fresh or frozen bird, because it can take days to defrost a large one!)
-What can you afford? (Once you have established your needs, you may have a choice between the more expensive "name-brand" or less-expensive "store brand" turkey. A "free-range" turkey may even be an option in your area, at considerably more cost.)

Here is a link to the Butterball Turkey web site (in English or Spanish) which offers information to make it easier to figure out how much bird to get(it is a "turkey and stuffing calculator), general cooking tips, and recipes. They even have a "turkey talkline" (at 1.800.BUTTERBALL, 8 am- 8 pm Central time, 8-6 on Thanksgiving!) where you can get bilingual "live help".

Do make sure you appreciate how large your oven actually is, or is not. If you have a huge bird, that is all that will fit in your oven at one time, so organize your cooking appropriately.  If you are referring to this for Thanksgiving, know that you will need to get a frozen turkey completely thawed before you cook it!  This means, either (in a pan) in the fridge, or breast side up in constantly running cool water (maybe in the sink or a pot in the sink if it will fit.) Change the water in the pot or sink often.  DO NOT JUST LEAVE THE FROZEN TURKEY OUT TO THAW, because then, you would very much need to fear the turkey. The worst part of thawing out the turkey is getting the inside done. I have had success filling the cavity with running warm water to finish the thawing process right before cooking - but do not just leave it to soak..Raw turkey goes bad very quickly. One of the beauties of the "fresh" (never frozen) bird is skipping the whole thawing process.

Through the years, my final determinate in bird selection ,(if I have a choice of brands), has been price. This said, sometimes the "name brand" has been the one on sale. Many may disagree with me, but I have not found there to be that much discernible difference in the final product placed on the table when I choose the "off brand" turkey - and I firmly believe that it is because of the method with which I choose to cook it (in foil).

I started cooking my turkey wrapped in foil almost from the beginning, because I had made a terrible error in organizing my cooking- and was coming up short on time. Lo and behold, my trusty old red Betty Crocker's Cookbook told me that if I cooked my bird wrapped in foil, it would come out moist and juicy, in considerably less time! I have never been disappointed in a turkey I have cooked ever since, and the method has cut literally hours off the cooking time! I am providing you with the link to the Reynolds Kitchens "recipe" for cooking a turkey in foil-they provide the time/size charts too. If you do not think that is the way you want to go, go back to Butterball's comprehensive site for a "regular" roasting "recipe",and this page offers all kinds of tips useful to anyone serving up a turkey dinner, including "how to videos"!

So, do your homework, and tomorrow we will talk about the rest of the meal!

MOTHER'S COOKING SCHOOL-DO NOT FEAR THE TURKEY!

Oops, did not make it Friday - but since next week is a big-time cooking week, I must offer my "help". I enjoy cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and the smells which fill the house bring back such wonderful memories. I think that I will be offering a recipe (or two) every day, up to Wednesday. At our house, we actually celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday, because the Husband always works on Thursday. Being together is an important part of the celebration for us, so we delay the holiday so it is not just a fancy dinner after a day of work. We are all Thankful to be together, and to blessed by God to live in America!

What serves as the "traditional" Thanksgiving meal may depend on what region of the country one is in. In the South, a turkey may be deep-fried (which I have never had, but it is supposed to be delicious and super-moist!) The bread used for the "stuffing" (inside the bird) and "dressing" (same thing, cooked in a casserole dish) may be white bread or cornbread (or some other flavor), and simple herbs or sausage, oysters, chestnuts, mushrooms or fruit may flavor it. Some folks always have potatoes on that table, and rice may rule elsewhere. Ethnic dishes may share the board with the traditional "American" food, and so they become part of the "traditional American Thanksgiving meal" in this nation of immigrants!  The cornucopia of different foods we enjoy on Thanksgiving absolutely overflows!  Would you care to share any of your family's epicurial traditions?

I have been married for 20 years now, and have been cooking the "turkey meal" for about as long, give or take a year or 2. I have made some major mistakes, but overall, it has been a pretty successful venture. Cooking is an art, but a decent meal can be created by anyone who can follow directions and will pay attention. Following directions is important, because while actual ingredients may sometimes be substituted, and exact measurements are not always important--sometimes it is all very important.  Early in our marriage, I learned that while eggnog makes delicious French Toast, it makes really nasty cornbread. (Did I ever tell you what a sweet man my husband is?) A watched pot truly never seems to boil, but leave the room while your beans are starting to cook, and they will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn (and smell very bad) when the water boils off. Never assume the most rock-hard frozen meat is "safe" around the pets. Sometimes those recipes which seem too bizzare to be edible...are. (Did I ever tell you what a sweet man my husband is?)

So, do not be afraid of the bird. . You are the master of all you survey in the kitchen, and it will be good. Our menu this week will consist of foods my own family enjoys for the Thanksgiving and/or Christmas holidays. As an added bonus, any of these can be cooked almost entirely in the microwave (but not the turkey.)

Our menu consists of-
-Turkey (baked in foil-this method seriously cuts down on cooking time and gives a moist bird!)
-White herbed bread dressing, Chestnut Dressing
-Scalloped Potatoes
-Creamed Onions
-Lima Beans and Green Beans
-Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
-Homemade Yeast Rolls
-Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry-Orange Relish
-Apple Pie and homemade Whipped Cream

YUMMY!

THE SUNDAY FUNNIES-ON MONDAY?

Something ate my Sunday Funnies, so here it is again...

The funniest thing last week was the Clinton Library!

So, in honor of all of the yucks we had during that infamous President's tenure, here are a few things to help you relive those days! Enjoy!

Find an absolute rash of Clinton editorial cartoons here ,(well, maybe "rash" is a poor choice of words when talking about Billy...)

Of course, let us not forget his "old lady", (after all, we got a "two-for-one" deal, remember?) First, we need to feel Hillary's pain in those scandal days, and now, see how she has grown!

Where there was Bill, there was Al...

American Pathetic" (a new take on an "old" image)

"Welcome to Chappaqqua", home of Bill Clinton...

The "changing of the guard" after the 2000 election...stay there for a little bit and you will see...

Oh, we just cannot stay away from Hillary!

Her Authoress at a book-signing!

This has to stop somewhere, so here he is at one of the parties for the Library opening. Go, Bill, go!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

PICS OF GWB IN ACTION!

Captain America, indeed!   Go to a post by Roger Schultz at Free Republic for photos and commentary of the fracas in Chile!

MOTHER'S WEEKEND ROUNDUP-CONDOLEEZA FEST!

Despite any rumors to the contrary, Presidential cabinets do change, especially going into second terms.   Actually, President Bush has enjoyed a particular loyalty from his first term's Cabinet, (and that has really fried some beans!)   Of course, the libbies are thrilled to see John Ashcroft leave ,(that ought do delay a few suicides) since they think he is worse than anyone who tried to wipe a whole race of people off the face of the earth!   There are many conservatives who think that the exit of Rodney Paige from the Department of Education should have left a permanent void, but alas, there will be a replacement.   It was Colin Powell's soon-to-be empty seat which had everyone's minds ticking so furiously, though.   Now we know.   One of the many great benefits of GWB's re-election (and they keep pouring in!) is the delicious selection of Dr. Condaleeza Rice as Secretary of State! The libbies are whining and the "furriners" (I am a "red-stater", and do not wish to disappoint) are "dismayed", so right there, we know she is the best choice!

So, on with the Condaleeza Festival!

Start off by getting some biographical information about Dr. Rice from the Hoover Institute at Stanford ,from the White House,and run over to Minority Graduate.com for a couple of magazine articles with a little insight (you be the judge of what they have to say...)William F. Buckley shouts "Whee Time!" and then gets down to business in his Buckleyishly exuberant way
The Independent Women's Forum on some of the racist and sexist depictions of Dr. Rice --Surely they are not talking about the ever-tolerant and diverse Liberals?
Armstrong Williams on Dr. Rice and a post-Arafat Middle East
George Will considers some of the questions Dr. Rice may be asked to answer at her confirmation hearings
Linda Chavez notes the foreign policy message GWB is sending with his new nominations
Cal Thomas notes that President Bush has nominated a kindred spirit in Dr. Rice--(Note to libbies: this does not mean either of them is a puppet or a clone!)
Joel Rosenberg at NRO online suggests we read what the President and Dr. Rice are reading!

Now finish it all off with a speech by President Ronald Reagan in 1991 , to remind yourself what all of the fuss is about.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

GWB-A MAN OF ACTION

I just love a strong, resolute man.   That is one of the reasons why I adore our President.   All of the talk and whimpering of the whiny babies of the world cannot even begin to equal the most simple actions of a real man who knows what to do.

Simply put, it seems that Chilean agents tried to prevent President Bush's Secret Service bodyguards from entering the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit dinner.   Our Mr. President himself extricated his lead agent and continued on.   What a man.   The heart melts.

Read about it here (thank you, Instapundit)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

THE SUNDAY FUNNIES

Another new regular bit here at my place, a roundup of Sunday Funnies. Some of them will be comics, and others will be of the written word, but all of them tickle my funnybone and I'm sharing them with you! Whether or not you find them amusing...Well, that's up to you. Be warned, sometimes I have a very dark sense of humor...


IMAO's Frank J. and his readers have some great ideas for commemorating Arafat's demise!
Go check out the Photoshopped entries at the "I'm not Sorry" site --The answer to the "I'm Sorry" stuff put out by the truly sorry meatbags of America.
This is a true newstory which is so ridiculous that it's funny!

And in honor of our guys in Fallujah-in commemoration of all our Troops have done for us over there in Iraq - Go check out the Sadaam Hussein Photoshopped pics at Albino Blacksheep!