Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hugs and Quiches

Quiche is good on a summer day. It’s a choice for ladies’ day out at the local eatery. I enjoyed a very good quiche at the bookstore in Milton about a year ago. (Yes, bookstores and quiche are good combinations.) Quiche is easy to make at home.

What is a quiche? Here it is from the Wiktionary. For anyone who is confused, the Wiktionary is a companion to the Wikipedia. Did you think it might be a dictionary?
"quiche (plural quiches)
A pie made primarily of eggs and cream in a pastry crust. Other ingredients such as chopped meat or vegetables are often added to the eggs before the quiche is baked. "

So much more is left to be said. Quiche is very wonderful. It can almost melt in one’s mouth. It is a pie, a custard, and a way to use eggs creatively. As a pie or custard it isn’t sweet. As a way to use eggs, it is delicious, and after the egg nutrition controversy of a few years ago, probably nutritious. Yes, it’s full of cholesterol, but steak is too. For more on the cholesterol controversy, and it is a controversy, go to the Internet.

I really like the following quiche. I prefer to omit the crust due to my bias against white flour, and sometimes I reduce it to two-thirds of the recipe. Here I present it as Better Homes and Gardens gives it. Please note that it requires no exotic ingredients, just ingredients most of us already have at home.

Choose-a-Flavor Quiche (serves 6)

Pastry for single-crust pie
3 beaten eggs
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup sliced green onions
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Dash ground nutmeg
¾ cup chopped cooked chicken, crabmeat or ham
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Oven 450 degrees.

Prepare pastry for single-crust pie. [or buy one]
Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more or till pastry is nearly done. Remove from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together eggs, milk, onion, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in chicken, crabmeat or ham. Toss together shredded cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture. Mix well.

Pour egg mixture into hot pastry shell. Bake in the 325 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Let stand for 10 minutes.

From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Des Moines, IA, Meredith Corporation, 1989.

I omitted the Quiche Lorraine variation and the Individual Quiche Casseroles at the end of the original recipe. The library has the book. Go and read it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Political Feeding Frenzy

The most amazing but not surprising feeding frenzy is now going on about Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He disappeared to Argentina to continue an affair with a woman there who is not his wife. The media people appear to be thrilled and can’t stop talking about it.

Harry Smith commented this morning on television, “Ho hum.” I agree with him.

I make two points here: (1) The ongoing news reporting about some very personal aspects of his indiscretion is being overdone, possibly at the expense of some other important news; (2) politicians have personal lives in addition to political lives, and in the US they seem to get intertwined, but I say let’s let them get on with their political lives.

I never heard of Sanford before yesterday, and I don’t care if he is a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. I have some sympathy for his wife after seeing the text of his romantic emails to the other woman. Maybe he should have remembered that email can be read by the world. Unfortunately, last night Keith Olbermann on MSNBC appeared to thoroughly enjoy showing this email peep show to the world. That was bad taste.

An interesting interpretation of the news about Sanford and others is in this morning’s Yahoo News. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_philandering_politicians_analysis

Here is what the article pointed out after naming plenty of political names (quoted from the article):

"There's also a clue in the kind of people drawn to politics.
These are men who love themselves deeply, need to be recognized and relish approval. These are men who adore getting praise and who often are surrounded by swarms of sycophants. These are men who, in some cases, need to exercise power and sometimes can become drunk from it. These are men who think the rules don't apply to them and who think they're untouchable.
As leaders, these are also the type of men who are likely to break promises, manipulate and cut corners. They probably are big risk-takers. And they're prone to thinking of themselves first."

So what else is news in the world of politics besides sex? Let’s get on with it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today is Rick's and my 47th wedding anniversary. It feels kind of strange and not celebratable with him gone. We never celebrated it much even when he was alive. Oh, well...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Island Report

I am vacationing at Washington Island. It’s great to be able to stay as long as I want to. The weather has been warm with occasional clouds. Somewhat like life. The lake water is several inches higher than it has been for several years, almost up to the shore. Some of us remember where the shore ought to be. Thanks to Gordon’s North Star Realty for the photo of the cottage.

I arrived Friday in time to take myself out for fish at Karly’s. I greeted Tim on behalf of Eddy. I visited with Ray and Barbara Hansen after finishing my dinner, and met one of their sons. Until now I had met only Dan. One thing about Washington Island is that everyone knows everyone.

Saturday I mowed the lawn. The grass was a foot high over the plumbing mound. I wished that Danny had mowed it last weekend when he was here. The old push power mower isn’t very efficient in high grass. It also gives new meaning to the words Heavy Metal. I’m not very efficient in tall grass, either. I am thinking that I should get a weed whacker for some not very level areas.

Sunday I went to the Lutheran Church and then had lunch with Phyllis Ellefson and Peg Sullivan at K.K. Fiske. Phyllis and Peg eat lunch every Sunday and invited me to come with them. The sermon was a Powerpoint report on the parish’s trip to New Orleans, where the attendees helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Those people who sweat here when it gets up to eighty degrees were very hot there where it was in the nineties and very humid.

Sunday afternoon I visited the Art and Nature Center, viewed the annual art exhibit, and visited with Laura Waldron, who told me about her daughter’s eating disorder. Their list of programs for kids isn’t created yet.

Of course I have been walking. The daisies, columbine, orange and yellow hawkweed and buttercups are blooming. A few wild strawberries are ready to eat, but most aren’t ripe yet. Spring came late this year. I found two stalks of wild asparagus. That seems to be late also. The poison ivy is doing well. The insects are thriving, also, especially the mosquitoes. Four deer were observed today.

Tonight Bread and Water, the restaurant across the road from Mann’s Store, is having a Thai dinner, and I plan to take part. They had one last Monday and ran out of food, so their suggestion is to get there early.

That’s Washington Island, a very enjoyable and talkative place. I have decided to return home Wednesday instead of Tuesday. Sometime soon I will report on my six day bus trip to South Dakota, which was earlier in June.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More About Hormones

The medical community has been trashing Oprah Winfrey and Suzanne Somers for their support of bio-identical hormones for menopause. See a previous post on my blog for some information. Now Dr. Mercola gives it his opinion, which gives some facts to counter the opinions in the article in Newsweek.


It is a rather long piece but I think it is worth reading. It appears that the conventional medical people are pretty unhappy with the Oprah programs about alternative medicine. I’m with Oprah and Suzanne.

I wish they had also talked about bio-identical hormones for hypothyroidism.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oprah, Suzanne Somers and Hormones

There has been a brouhaha lately about a recent program on the Oprah Show, in which actress Suzanne Somers talked about how wonderful she feels after taking bio-identical hormones for post-menopause symptoms. This week’s Newsweek has an article that slams the show and the Somers point of view.

Now here is another commentary from Dr. Mercola’s blog. It points out that one of the writers of the anti-Somers, anti-Oprah article has authored a book on hormones (presumably not bio-identical), and Newsweek has drug companies as advertisers. It’s hard to be objective with these other interests, in my opinion.

The blog posting is here, along with a link to the Newsweek article.

I watched the Oprah Show that is discussed in the article and blog posting, and I found it interesting. I think the Newsweek article doesn’t do justice to it; to me it had an angry tone. I need to remind myself that Newsweek and other news magazines do a lot of interpretation and commentary, and less news reporting than they once did. Suzanne Somers might even be right. In any case, she started the therapy because she felt very unwell (she documents this in her books), and now she says she feels great.

I feel fine without bio-identical menopause hormones, but I don’t condemn others for making choices that make them feel better, if they are safe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Walk in the Park

Yesterday the Ice Age Trail. Today Elver Park. It’s a great time to be walking, with seventy-degree temperatures.

Elver Park has beautiful blossoms at this time of year. The flowering crabs are finished, as are the invasive garlic mustard blossoms that promise many more in the future. The black raspberry blossoms are turning into baby berries. Other blossoms have taken their turn.

Today Elver Park has two floral experiences. The park has two hills of woods separated by a lower grassy area that contains recreational spaces. At this time of year the interesting parts of the park are in the woods. Each side is different. As I walked through the woods at the north end, I found more wild geraniums than one could ever hope to see scattered through the shady pathway. It was very beautiful.

Coming out onto the grass, I looked across at the south hillside and saw a spectacular white or off-white expanse of flowering locust trees, all facing north. Lots of tall mature locust trees, going up the hillside. This hillside provides wonderful views of fall color later in the year for people who drive by on McKenna Boulevard. Today they can see the flowers.

The irony is that when I was walking up the trail on that hill, I couldn’t see any of the locust blossoms. They were all high above my head in the ceiling of greenery that is the woods.

There is plenty to enjoy on the ground, too. The bursting of green life that is everywhere except under the shady tall pines is reassuring that our planet is still regenerating itself even in our parks, with some help from the Almighty.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Orange Sauce

Orange Sauce

Here is the orange sauce mentioned in the previous post…

3 tablespoons butter.
Stir in until browned:
4 tablespoons flour
Stir in slowly:
1 1/3 cups stock (I used chicken broth)
Season with:
Salt and paprika.
Keep the sauce hot over hot water.
Shortly before serving add:
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2/3 cup hot orange juice
2 tablespoons sherry.

The cookbook calls this orange sauce for game, but I found it very good with grilled chicken. Due to not having all ingredients on hand, I substituted the red wine in my cupboard for the sherry, and I omitted the orange rind. I also deviated by adding a few squirts of Tabasco.

The sauce is not strongly orange flavored, but has a good fruity influence.

From: Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1952). The Foreword gives background for this edition: “The first ‘Joy,’ a modest volume, was published privately in 1931….In 1936 the Bobbs-Merrill Company brought out an enlarged and revised edition of my timidly launched maiden effort and this was followed by a second enlarged and revised edition in 1943. A new edition is now before you.”

On the Patio Slab

Now that it is June, we are finally having weather that sends us outside. Yesterday I walked six miles on the Military Ridge State Trail. This afternoon I spent an hour sitting on the slab that the condo builders decreed was sufficient as an outdoor space. No humidity-induced discomfort, few insects, a bit of breeze. A cloudy day provided little sunshine. Very good.

I watched the gophers and chipmunks scampering among the boulders of their in-ground condo that hold up the terrain between our condo buildings. A few gopher holes are near my patio, so we are providing underground housing for the new generation. Rabbits live in our yard, as do birds.

While I was enjoying the local wildlife, I was looking through one of my four editions of The Joy of Cooking. Today’s selection, a revision of the 1931 edition, was published in 1952. In 1952 people cooked with real food. The real food included a section about many kinds of sauces made with real ingredients, and a small selection of sauces made from canned ingredients. I decided to try an orange sauce on the chicken I planned to have tonight. This part of the chapter went on to present recipes for fruits with meats. I must admit that I haven’t spent my life trying apples stuffed with sauerkraut, baked cranberries made with fresh cranberries, fried bananas, or boiled kumquats.

Then I looked at salads. It began with a commentary about a scene in a medieval play, and a quote from Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop, both about salad, but more about salad culture than about how to make salad. Author Rombauer lamented the acceptance of “ready-made salad dressing.” After a page and a half of commentary, she got to the business of making salad. Some of us remember commercial salad dressings even in 1952.

There is a lot more in The Joy of Cooking, and it has changed over the years. I still love the old cookbooks. Somehow the activity of small rodents and the fun of reading an old cookbook went together on the patio. Rachael Ray, eat your heart out.