Just for nice: What’s on your walls?

I’m always fascinated to see what people have on the walls of their home. Things end up there for so many reasons: because you like it, sure, but also because you want to impress someone, because you want to show someone you care about them, because it was the right size, because it covers up the hole you made when you were trying to figure out where that smell was coming from, because it already had a frame, because it was on sale, and so on. 

Anyone want to see what we have on our walls these days? Or maybe you’d rather talk about politics, hmmmmmmmm? 

So, here’s what we have on our walls these days. 

In the kitchen, a lovely Matthew Alderman print, plus a little Audubon guide to clouds next to the window

These photos are in alphabetical order according to file name, rather than in an order that makes any kind of sense. Since no one asked for this post anyway, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Here’s the hallway/computer alcove. This is an area in flux, as the shelf I installed, with wall anchors, even, fell down and took a bunch of stuff with it, and it never really recovered. This St. Michael icon has been floating around from room to room for years, which seems appropriate. Going his rounds, I guess. You can also see one of my few attempts at linoleum prints from a long time ago. I think it was a copy of a Picasso painting. 

There are several of these woven stars here and there around the house. The kids had a teacher who was on a weaving kick for a while. This one’s in the bedroom above the window.

Here is the last remaining decorative mirror of a set of three that I bought on a “why can’t we have normal decorative things like normal people” kick. It is cracked. 

Important:

A very large original woodcut I found at a yard sale for a few bucks. I have always meant to give it a better frame, or at least a better matte than cardboard, but at least it’s up. 

Over the kitchen sink. This is What’s For Supper central, as you can see, plus something from William Blake’s Book of Urizen. I have never read it, and I’m afraid to, because I like the picture so much. You never know what you’re getting into when you start with Blake.

This is right near the stove, as you can see by the tomato sauce splats. Here is little Clara at the beach. How she loved to eat sand. 

Many things in the dining room. At left we have an Immaculate Heart of Mary by Margaret Rose Realy, and a portrait of my three oldest kids as little ones, my Christmas present from Clara. The glass bowl has half a dozen Jesse tree ornaments we didn’t get around to hanging, guarded by a lion. Which lion it is, specifically, escapes me at the moment, but it was a wedding present from Paul Connell. 

The other side of this shelf has a wonderful Sacred Heart by Margaret Realy, and here is my beloved icon showing Christ rescuing Adam and Eve from the netherworld. That’s a good one. 

Of course there’s a certain amount of this. Someday I’ll clean the wall, but right now it seems like a poor investment of time. 

More kitchen shelf. Here is merry little baby Dora, and some of the pretty cast iron shelf brackets I put in. I guess the star is a Texas thing? It’s just a star. And somebody’s pottery project.

Here’s something that I keep . . . on the treadmill. For now. I grabbed it at this weird little music and poster shop in Hanover, NH, and I was planning to frame it . . . 

but then I flipped it over and it has a whole other picture printed on the other side. So now I don’t know what to do. 

I think I like the whirlpool scene better, but those are some pretty good fish. 

A flamingo! This is in our bedroom. Dora was doing a project on ancient Rome or something in middle school, and made a mosaic out of paper. She didn’t have the strength to fill in all the little bits in the background, and I don’t blame her.

In the bathroom. I ordered this colored Flammarion Engraving print in the middle of the night because it seemed urgent at the time.

This is the other thing on the wall in the bathroom. I like Goya a lot, and he deserves better than to be a potty joke. (I also hasten to add that that frame is rusty, that’s all.)

Yo, Fra Angelico! This is over the piano. I just about had to stab the lady at the thrift store to get her to sell it to me, but eventually I got my hands on it. I also bought a wonderful frame, also at the thrift store, but when I got it home, I realize it had what seems to be an original drawing from the 1800’s. It’s some kind of miscellaneous Americana scene, and I don’t like it at all, but I’m now suffering from Antiques Road Show Paralysis, so I just keep taking it out, scowling at it, and putting it back again. Anyway, here’s Fra Angelico.

Here’s my favorite Frost poem, illuminated by Dora back in elementary school for a present. You can also see a bit of a pumpkin by Heather Schieder, whose style has evolved a lot in the last few years!

Here’s another trap I set for myself. I bought this print of irises for the frame, but every time I go to take it apart, I think, “But do I like those irises?” And I kind of do. But they also kind of look like they belong in mammography waiting room. So I just stuck it up on this shelf, who cares. 

JIM JANKNEGT SIGHTING! This one is right over the couch, and it lights up the whole room. John the Evangelist. Dude. 

A Daniel Mitsui, one of my favorites: The Flight Into Egypt. This one is in our bedroom. Need more Mitsui. 

Back to the dining room! Here you can see another one of my spectacular framing jobs. I love this photo of our little starter family. Not crazy about how it’s just sort of loosely associated with the frame. Also NOT CRAZY about how the kids somehow knocked a hole in this glorious cloud canvas by Margaret Realy. I love Margaret’s clouds so much.

In the living room: This wonderful madonna watercolor by my daughter Lena Fisher. I never get tired of looking at it. 

In the bedroom, me and my little girls as mermaids – a quick one by my daughter Clara Fisher. Notice how, even underwater, Benny is still talking. 

MOAR JANKNEGT. This is the view from the treadmill. It’s . . . energizing.

And additional Daniel Mitsui! This is in the kitchen, so a bit splatty. Ugh, you can’t see the detail at all. So good. 

The dining room, by the door. This is one of those areas that needs major help. Someone gave us this moon mirror as a housewarming present and I don’t care for the look on his face at all, but I absolutely need a mirror there to prevent me from leaving the house with a paper bag on my head by mistake. There is also some kind of loch ness monster? Ugh, this area needs help. This is the exact spot where I lost steam when I was repainting. 

Bottom of the stairs, Mother Teresa, BOOM. I think OSV was giving these posters away at some point. 

Hampton Beach. 

My magpie nest. Some very old prints by Lena. Her technical skill has increased dramatically since then, but I love the mood, especially the windshield wiper one. Also a mini landscape by Clara and one of my favorite photos of Irene, mud and daisies. 

Another greasy kitchen picture. This is from the Pumpkin Festival. Someone had lost their balloon and the kids were VERY EXCITED ABOUT SEEING IT FLY AWAY. 

By the piano. Dürer. Wabbit. I’d rather have The Great Clod, but I also like the Wabbit.

This is . . . miscellaneous dining room. I bought that round inlaid wooden plaque thing from a thrift store many years ago, when $4 was KIND OF A BIG PURCHASE. Love it. 
The other thing, I don’t know what to say.

By the dining room table, we have Rublev’s Trinity. The white frame is so wrong, but I guess I’ll just wait another 23 years and then find another one. That seems fine. Under it is the Masai Creed, plus Dover Beach. I forget why it seemed important to print out Dover Beach.

Here’s an old favorite: Dora helping Clara with her shoelaces, a photo by Sadie Centola. People come into my rooms and take pushpins right off my wall. Honest to goodness. 

Over the dining room window. This is my “even their virtues were being burned away” painted tin thingy. You can actually get this on Amazon (which I did with my birthday money).

Next up: The opposite of that. Three cozy little pumpkins by Benny for my kitchen.

Now, here we have a situation. I got this wonderful tin triptych mirror many years ago at a junk shop. It originally had mirrors inside, but we used them for a homeschool science experiment and then lost them, so I put in a nice drawing of some birds Lena made when she was six. We once had a priest over, and he opened up the little door to see what was inside, and he was so delighted to see those birds. I guess he thought it was going to be saints? I still don’t know what to make of that. I don’t know what ever happened to him. Anyway, today, as you can see, the whole thing has gone to hell, and it’s on this hanger for some reason, along with a random holy card, and what may be a sock. I don’t know what to tell you. 

More kid art, plus miscellaneous Marys and Buddhas. This is one of those windows that has several layers and can’t be opened, so it’s slowly filling with spiderwebs and dead bugs. It’s nice. 

Back to the bedroom. Here is a Vermeer, The Astronomer.  I could look at this one forever. See how many times he repeats the shape of a V, open about 45 degrees northwest. It’s a picture about . . . things opening up. 

Back to the hallway. A wedding photo, an icon, and another piece by Margaret Realy! Margaret, WHY U NO HAVE WEBSITE?

Dining room again. Here we see one of my thwarted efforts to decorate like a ladyperson. I really like these wood curl wreaths, and this one was on clearance at Aldi. The children believe that I want them to throw things at it, and pull the leaves out. I do not. 
There are also a couple of extremely tasteful plastic icon suncatchers, complete with sparkly beard on Jesus. They belong on the window, of course, but that would require people thinking to themselves, “I guess I won’t steal the suction cup hooks.” 
Also a wonderful ceramic peacock light switch faceplate, a gift from the great Kate Essenberg. 

Ah, Winslow Homer! This is in the living room, and is the first art print I ever spent (what felt like) a considerable amount of money on. I think it was $15, which was pretty lavish for me at the time. I have never yet regretted spending money on a work of art. 

And last but not least . . . Wonderwoman at a party. I think this was a Christmas gift from Lena. You watch yourself. 

Okay, that’s about it for the bottom floor! I have no idea what’s upstairs. I don’t go up there.

In conclusion: Buy art. It’s good for you, good for anyone who goes in your house, and good for the artist. 

NH: call to oppose ableist physician assisted suicide bill HB1659

NH is again considering passing a physician assisted suicide bill. HB1659 will get a hearing on March 4. It says:

“This bill allows a mentally competent person who is 18 years of age or older and who has been diagnosed as having a terminal disease by the patient’s attending physician and a consulting physician to request a prescription for medication which will enable the patient to control the time, place, and manner of such patient’s death.”

Sounds compassionate. Those who argue for physician assisted suicide often paint an emotional picture of a dying patient who’s unable to escape immense pain, and who’s simply looking for release and relief.

But statistically, that’s not what happens.

Rehumanize International reports:

From a study of the results of Oregon’s 2013 Death with Dignity Act

91% of patients cited “loss of autonomy” as one of the concerns that led to them requesting assisted suicide. 89% cited a fear of being “less able to engage in activities.” 81% cited “loss of dignity,” 50% cited “loss of control of bodily functions,” and 40% cited “feelings of being a burden.”

We should not simply accept that fears of disability are driving people to suicide. Everyone deserves suicide prevention care — including those who are ill or disabled. 

The NH bill mentions broad concerns like “loss of independence” and “embarrassing indignities” as reasons to seek suicide. 

As NHCornerstone points out, “By making assisted suicide part of the discussion and a treatment ‘option,’ especially when someone has a chronic illness, it’s only a matter of time before personal choice becomes a ‘duty to die.’” 

Assisted suicide bills are driven by ableism that preys on the vulnerable. They tell people who are already in distress, “If you can’t do everything an able-bodied person can do, your life isn’t worth living. It would be better for you and for everyone else if you were dead.”

We don’t talk this way to people. We don’t tell them, “It would be cheaper, easier, better for everyone if you didn’t exist.” Instead, we try to make vulnerable people’s existence more manageable — lessen their pain, relieve their distress and depression, bring services to them, keep them company, reassure them that they are entitled to be alive in the world, just as much as the strong and healthy and productive.

This is, in fact, what NH is allegedly already doing, as it struggles mightily to decrease the state’s suicide rates, which have increased an astounding 48% from 1999 to 2016, significantly higher than most of the country, especially among teens. How can we say we have a goal of zero suicides while also telling vulnerable people that suicide is part of normal medical care? The bill is dangerous and offensive in itself, and also opens the door for even broader legislation that will encourage and even bully people into believing it’s their duty to remove themselves from the world. 

The Diocese of NH sent a good letter to the House Judiciary Committee laying out what an offensive and dangerous bill it is.

NH residents, we have a duty to reject discrimination, including the ableism that disguises itself as compassion. Please take a minute and contact your state rep and ask him or her to vote against HB 1659. You can use this site to find out who your representative is, and click on their name to get contact information. 

Feel free to copy and paste anything from this post. If you call, you just have to give your name and that town your calling from, and say that you’re calling to urge your rep to vote against HB 1659 regarding assisted suicide. My state rep was out of the office for the week when I called, so I left a message saying I strongly urge him to oppose this bill, because it’s a form of ableism and is totally at odds with any efforts to reduce suicide in our state. If you have a personal story to tell, that’s probably a good thing to include.

I know it’s hard to take time to stop and make a phone call or send an email, but we are a small state and our voices really do make a difference. Tell your rep what you want! 

Further reading: Pro-life Even at the End of Life: What the Catholic Church Teaches about Care for the Dying

On Valentine’s day, communication, and not getting kicked in the nuts

Several years ago, I revealed to my husband that I actually kind of like Valentine’s Day.  This is despite all the times I told him that I hated it, it’s lame and stupid, and a made-up, over-commercialized saccharine-fest invented by Hallmark and Big Floral.  For so many years, the poor man had been wondering why, every February 14, I would say I wasn’t mad at him, while I was clearly mad at him.

I was mad, you see, because everyone else was getting flowers and riding in heart-shaped hot air balloons and– I don’t know, eating hot fudge sundaes that turned out to have a tiny violin player at the bottom.  And here I was getting nothing, which is what I repeatedly told him I wanted. Pray for me:  I’m married to a monster.

Anyway, I finally realized that it doesn’t make me defective to enjoy flowers — and that if it’s artificial to suddenly act romantic on a nationally-specified day — well, we need all the help we can get.  Alarm clocks are artificial, too, but if they didn’t automatically remind us of what we ought to do, we’d be in big trouble.  So, yeah, I asked him to get me flowers, and take the plastic wrap and price tag off before giving them to me, and he will, and I’m going to like them.  Whew, that wasn’t so hard!

Having taken this huge leap forward in our communication skills, I decided to hunt around to see what normal human beings do on Valentine’s Day.

If you want to feel like you’ve got your act together, just ask the internet a question.  Okay, maybe not in all circumstances.  If you’re rewiring your living room, for instance, or trying to remove the Spaghetti-o decoupage from an angry cat, you may very well have lots to learn.

But if you need help with your relationships?  A quick trip down Google lane will have you feeling like an expert, a champion, a genius, a hero of common sense and decency.  For instance, if you Google “What do guys want for Valentine’s Day?” you will come across this depressing paen to modern love, written by a man:

One of my favorite presents was a trip to the grocery store.

I remember the clear, cloudless day, sun shining down on me proudly pushing my cart into Central Market. Rachel was with me, and some friends who came along.

I picked up a steak and set it in the cart. Rachel said, “That’s great, Doug!”

I grabbed some chips. Rachel said, “That’s really great, Doug!”

I picked up some really expensive jam. Rachel said, “Yum, that will be really great, Doug!”

In fact everything I picked up got the same response from her (or very close to it), and that was my present: I could choose anything I wanted, and she could only say how great everything was. What an awesome gift that was, a trip to the grocery store.

So what did I get, besides some red AND yellow peppers?

I got what most men want. I was accepted.

I weep for America.  I weep for mankind.  I weep for myself, because this is the saddest, stupidest thing I’ve ever read, and I read it three times to make sure I wasn’t missing something.  What is Doug going to get for Christmas from the gracious lady Rachel?  A coupon for Not Getting Kicked In the Nuts?

You know, I probably treat my husband this way sometimes.  But the difference is, neither one of us is okay with it.  We don’t assume that relentless criticism and belittling is part of a normal relationship. If it starts to become a pattern, we go to confession, make amends, and start fresh, because we like each other, and want each other to be happy. 

This reminds me of the story of the man who had invented a brilliant method for saving money on the farm.  “On the first week,” he says, “I fed my  horse a bale of hay.  On the second week, I fed him half a bale of hay.  On the third week, I fed him a quarter of a bale.  I was damn near to teaching the horse to live on nothing at all, but on the fourth week, the ungrateful sonofabitch died on me!”

This whole communication thing isn’t as lame as it sounds. I hope that, sometime after that article was printed, Doug found a way to tell his wife, “What I really want is for you to stop treating me like I’m some kind of moron. Save the correction for really important stuff, and talk to me like you see me as a full human. Let me know what makes you feel important, and I’ll do the same for you.” I hope they figure out that this kind of thing shouldn’t be for special days, but should be the baseline of their relationship, and once the basic respect is a given, then special holidays won’t feel so fraught. 

Happy stupid Valentine’s Day, folks.  I hope you get something nice.  Or if you get nothing, I hope at least it doesn’t feel like a gift!

****

(This post first ran in 2011.)

Horse skeleton photo by James St. John [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Holy Crapballs: Pope

VATICAN CITY — In a stunning about-face, Pope Francis has not announced that married men can be priests and women can be deacons. Absolutely no one predicted that this would happen, and all the most thoughtful and reflective analysts in the Catholic world are absolutely baffled. 

“I caca’d myself when I heard,” said Monsignor Domingo DiFrootsi-Morales, a Jesuit scholar long considered to have his finger on the pulse of doctrinal development. “My dear, I absolutely caca’d myself. I’ve been listening to a bunch of American podcasts and it was pretty obvious where things was headed. The entire Bergoglian Nightmare has been an unbroken stream of radical, disastrous reversals of tradition, so this latest move from Papa, where he didn’t trample on established norms? It really came out of left field.”

“Am I saying that right?” he added with a gallic wince. “Left field? I’m really more familiar with foosball.”

Sources close to the Vatican have confirmed that Pope Francis literally had his hand poised over a parchment-patterned exhortation titled “Unleash Modernism Subito” and was ready to sign it into Canon Law, which is how it works, when he was distracted by the sound of five mysterious splashes.

According to sources, he hustled over to the window and was astonished to see a tall, heroic-looking figure hunched over the Sant’Angelo Bridge. Although it was dark, the figure was illuminated by the light of righteousness. Also, Pope Francis could see him because his eyes have been sharpened by years of malicious squinting.

“Holy crapballs,” the Pontiff reportedly exclaimed. “I need to think this through some more.” He then snuggled himself into his lavender-scented papal sleeping bag and fell into a deep sleep, where, according to reports, he was visited by the Spirit of Vatican II, who showed him what life would have been like if he had never existed. 

“It was actually pretty nice,” the Vicar of Christ told reporters sheepishly. “Everyone was able to uphold traditional values again. Every single dude I saw had his own really neat sword and was married to Donna Reed, and there were no gay people at all, just like Malaysia. Just a lot of purity, you know? ¡Caramba! It almost makes me regret the way I blackmailed poor old Benedict into quitting. I wasn’t ever really going to hurt his kitty cat, anyway. Just an empty threat.”

At time of publication, the Pope was reportedly searching for the contact page of that guy with the YouTube channel and the Latin Twitter handle and the little beard thingy, so he could get his take on some theology stuff.

“Enough dicking around, Imma donate to his Patreon right meow,” the Pontiff said. “I’m ready to be real Catholic, finally. Oh! Oh! Maybe I can get them to explain Aquinas to me. Let’s see . . . martial debt, marital debt . . .”

***
Images: https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Pope_Francis_South_Korea_2014_(1).png (Creative Commons)
and
https://pixabay.com/illustrations/knight-crusader-coat-of-arms-shield-4285860/ (license)

What’s for supper? Vol. 201: Potatoes and other tornadoes

Well! I’m fat; how are you? Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Bagel, egg, sausage, and cheese sandwiches; blueberries

Easy peasy weekend meal. There really isn’t much better than a lovely fried egg with crisp, lacy edges and a runny yolk. Goodness gracious. 

The blueberries weren’t terrible, for Februberries. 

SUNDAY
Hot wings, sausage rolls, potato tornados, hot pretzels

Sunday, you may recall, was . . . something. Nothing. Nothing happened. Everybody liked it and there was nothing funny about it at all! Mostly what I did was cook and eat. 

Damien made scrumptious hot wings with blue cheese dip and celery. He uses the Deadspin recipe and he says it’s very easy.

 

I had been meaning for several weeks to make sausage rolls, which is something Damien once mentioned enjoying as a kid in Australia.

Jump to Recipe

I guess they are street food, to be enjoyed with ketchup. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to replicate them, but the basic idea sounded yummy. 

OH, THEY WERE YUMMY.

I read a bunch of recipes and whittled it down to a very basic form. You fry up some diced onions and mix them up with loose sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage squoze out of the casings) and egg and some seasonings. Cut puff pastry into strips, lay the raw sausage mixture in a line down the middle of the strips

fold it up into a long roll, cut it into separate rolls, brush with egg, and bake. I put “everything” seasoning on some of them before baking, and that was a good idea. 

Oh man, they were delicious. Flaky, buttery layers of pastry melding gradually into the savory filling. Absolutely fantastic. 

I was truly surprised that none of the kids liked them! The tastes were not challenging in the slightest. I ended up eating them myself throughout the week. They were good cold. They were good reheated, if a little less perky in texture.

I really hope you make these. They are so easy, and really pay off in flavor and chompability. You can make them well ahead of time and keep them refrigerated

then throw them in the oven just before guests come over.

Okay, now you can listen to my sad story about the potatoes.

Around midnight, my Facebook feed switches over to other continents, and a couple of weeks ago, I saw some East Asian dad I’m apparently friends with showing off pics of his kids enjoying some kind of weird street food I had never seen. I googled around a bit and discovered they are called “potato springs,” “potato twists,” or, escalatedly, “potato tornados.” It’s a spiral-cut potato stuck on a skewer and deep fried. Intrigued, I googled some more, and found a recipe where a guy used crushed Doritos for seasoning. That is my kind of guy. 

Jump to Recipe

If you’re a street vendor, you will have a potato spiralizer; but if you’re an idiot, you’ll try using a cheese slicer first. You sort of hook the skewer into the slice part and press and turn the potato at the same time. In the video, this resulted in a potato neatly spiraled around a skewer. In real life, I got this:

So I gave up and stomped out of the kitchen. But then I thought, well, the problem was that the skewer wasn’t stable, and the potato kept slipping around, and what if I used a box grater, and anchored the end of the skewer on the inside of the box grater? 

And that actually worked really well! I got halfway through the potato and it was all tidily coiled up on the skewer inside the box grater. So I kept going, and what do you think?

I grated the skewer in half. 

So I got mad again and stomped out of the kitchen and complained about how stupid it was to Damien, and he fully supported me in giving up on this stupid project. 

But then I thought, “But wait. Is there anything intrinsically superior about a potato in a spiral, or is it just that, when one has a spiralizing machine, that’s how it turns out? The point is to have thin, battered slices of potato on a stick, is it not?” So I decided to make one last try. This time I bring plenty-a gas! And I just took the freaking potato and cut it up into slices that weren’t attached to each other, and stuck them on a stick by the handful.

Then, uh, I did it eleven more times with eleven other potatoes. It’s not that my honor was at stake, exactly. I think I’m just dumb. 

So I mixed up the batter an crushed up the Doritos and set it aside until it was time for frying in a few hours. This, it turns out, was a tactical error in what had heretofore been an entirely streamlined and efficient process. The batter is supposed to be thin, so you can just kind of slosh it over the potato sticks and fry it up. But when you make it ahead of time and leave flour-based batter sitting around for a few hours, guess what it turns into? Correct: Glop. This is doubly true if you have added Dorito crumbs to it, and the Dorito crumbs swell up and absorb all the liquid.

Well, by this time, my honor really was at stake, and I was still dumb. So I heated up a big pot of oil and, using the impasto technique I learned in the oil paint section of Mr. Bennet’s Portfolio Development class, I forced the batter in, on, and around the potato skewers. It didn’t want to stick but I made it stick, and then fried the hell out of them. 

Some of them turned out, you know, fine, if not exactly elegant.

Some of them turned out like a cry for an exorcist

I managed this by showering them with kosher salt

They kind of reminded me of when those guys pour molten aluminum down into a termite nest and then pull it out of the sand, and then they put it in their house for some reason.

Well, the kids ate them. I ate one, and felt that it would probably carry me through my potato needs for about eleven weeks. 

The final verdict: Not a total disaster? I guess there are varieties with cheese and pleasant, piquant seasonings, and it would definitely help to batter them before the batter solidifies. My version would have been great if we had been walking around in the freezing sleet for a few hours and our fingers and noses were numb. Otherwise, it was just, wow, a lot. 

We also had hot pretzels.

MONDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, fries

A fine make-ahead meal. Damien roasted some chicken breasts in the morning and sliced them up, and we put the sandwiches together in the evening. 

Ciabatta rolls, chicken, tomato, basil, provolone, plenty of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and freshly-ground salt and pepper. 

TUESDAY
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, squash abbondanza

I started dinner going and then remembered we had a middle school planning committee thingy to go to, so I yelled some hazy instructions to the kids about how to finish it up and serve it. So I don’t have any photos of dinner, but I do have this:

Oops, my ringer was off. They did boil, drain, and mash the potatoes with butter and milk, and they did cook and slice the meatloaf. They also took the squash out of the oven, pack it into a dish, cover it, and send it directly into refrigerator exile without benefit of being on the table for even a minute. I don’t know what I expected. I threw it away the next day. I like butternut squash, but if you lose momentum, it’s really hard to get it back. 

Here is my basic meatloaf recipe, if you care:
Jump to Recipe

And here is one of my squash recipes:
Jump to Recipe

 

WEDNESDAY
Pulled pork nachos

I put a big hunk of pork in the slow cooker with a can of beer, about a cup of cider vinegar, several cloves of garlic, and some jarred jalapeños. I let it cook all day, then fished it out, shredded it, mixed it up with plenty of salt, garlic powder, dried onions, cumin, chili powder, and pepper flakes, and spread it on top of chips, and topped it with plenty of shredded cheese. 

Shoved it into a hot oven until the cheese was melted and served with sour cream, salsa, cilantro, and limes.

I also put queso on mine because I’m too thin and people are worried. 

THURSDAY
Pork ramen 

Thin slices of pork sautéed in sesame oil with soy sauce, pea shoots, soft boiled eggs, shredded carrots, and cucumbers. I had mine with soy sauce and tabasco sauce.

We had a snow day and the kids went sledding, then the little ones watched The Sound of Music. A cheery supper for a chilly day. Sometimes I quick pickle the vegetablesJump to Recipe, but I didn’t bother, and no one seemed to notice. 

FRIDAY
Ravioli?

It says ravioli, but I seem to have forgotten to buy any. I should have saved that cold squash.

 

5 from 2 votes
Print

Sausage rolls

Servings 36 rolls

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs sausage, loose or squeezed out of casings
  • 1 lg onion
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1.5 lbs puff pastry dough (1.5 packages)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • "Everything" seasoning, if you like

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. Dice the onion and sauté in the olive oil until it's slightly browned

  3. Put the raw, loose sausage in a bowl. Beat two of the eggs and add them to the bowl along with the cooked onions. Mix thoroughly.

  4. Cut the puff pastry into six long strips. On a floured surface, roll them out until they're somewhat thinner.

  5. Divide the sausage mixture into six portions and spoon it out into a long rows down the middle of each strip of puff pastry

  6. Form the sausage mixture into a tidier strip, leaving a margin of dough on each side.

  7. With a pastry brush, paint the dough margins on both sides.

  8. Fold the pastry up over the sausage on both sides, to form a long roll.

  9. Flip the roll over and lay it in a greased pan with the creased side down.

  10. Cut each roll into six smaller sections. (You can make them whatever size you like, really.) Leave a little space in between rolls on the pan.

  11. Brush each little roll with the rest of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with "everything" seasoning if you like.

  12. Bake for 20 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the rolls are golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

 

5 from 2 votes
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Dorito fried potato sticks

Ingredients

  • 12 small-to-medium potatoes, scrubbed, peel on
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 11 oz Doritos or your favorite chips, crushed into crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Slice each potato into as thin slices as possible, and thread the slices onto skewers.

    If you're not going to cook them right away, you can keep them in water to keep the potatoes from turning brown. Try to fan the potatoes out so there is a little space in between but don't forget to leave enough room on the skewer so there's something to hold onto.

  2. Start heating the oil in a heavy pot. Prepare a pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

  3. In a shallow dish, mix together the flour, water, and crushed chips. It should be thin and drippy.

  4. Dip the potato skewers into the batter and spoon more batter over them, so the slices are thoroughly coated.

  5. When the oil is hot enough (you will see bubbles form steadily if you dip a wooden spoon in), dip the skewers into the hot oil. Cook for XXXXX minutes until they are crisp.

  6. Remove to a pan lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

‘Tain’t very sanitary: Some songs I know by heart for no reason at all

People have been passing around an article about how some people don’t have a constant interior monologue going in their heads. You can count me as part of that group. That don’t, I mean. There are definitely words sprinkled in here and there, but unless I’m writing in my head, or praying, or thinking about a conversation, it’s mostly it’s sensations, patterns, images, and image-blobs, and I have to deliberately turn them into words. 

ANYWAY, there is one exception, and that’s miles and miles and miles of stupid song lyrics I have memorized and can call to mind at a moment’s notice. I may not know how many children I have, what their names are, or where I was supposed to pick them up half an hour agao, but if you ask, I can instantly tell you:

Then all Palyatchee finds the guy he’s seekin’
Cheek-to-cheekin’ with his wife,
He grabs a knife
And stabs the louse
Who stole his spouse
And then he stabs the lady and himself.
‘Tain’t very
Sanitary.

Useful! Steve Greydanus asked about this on social media the other day: You are in a random group of 10 people taken prisoner by gunmen. At gunpoint, you must pick a song NO ONE IN THE GROUP BUT YOU can sing with no mistakes. Succeed and you go free. What do you sing?

Well, let’s start with “Pal-yat-chee” by Spike Jones

Full lyrics:

When we wuz in the city, we wuz a-wond’rin’ where to go.
A sign spelled out PAL-YAT-CHEE up in lights above a show.
We thought ‘twould be a Western till the stage lit up with lights,
An’ ninety seven people sung without a horse in sight.
We couldn’t understand ’em ’cause they spoke a furrin tongue,
But we can give you some i-dee of what we thank they sung:

Ridi, Pagliaccio, Sul tuo amore’in fronto!

All at once there’s a fat guy in a clown suit.
Ain’t Haller-ween, that’s for shore.
Then this here feller, this Punchy Neller,
Begins to beller — Like we all was deef.
“Ha ha ha ha ha!”
That was PAL-YAT-CHEE an’ he sung:

Invest in a tuba an’ somthin’ or other ’bout Cuba,
He sung about a lady who weighed two hundred and eighty.
When she takes a powder, he just starts chirpin’ louder
And he don’t do a gol-durn thing ‘cept to stand up there an’ sing.

When we listen to PAL-YAT-CHEE, we get itchy an’ scratchy.
This shore is top corn, so we go and buy some popcorn.
We hate to go back, but we can’t git our dough back.
There ain’t no use complainin’, ’cause outside it’s a-rainin’. [ooga! ooga!]

Seven hours later, we’re still in the dern the-a-ter,
Takin’ turns at nappin’, a-waitin’ for sumpin’ to happen.
PAL-YAT-CHEE he ain’t hurryin’, but the folks on stage are flurryin’
And it sounds like Kat-chee-tur-ry-in’s Saber Dance.

Then ol’ PAL-YAT-CHEE finds the guy he’s seekin’
Cheek-to-cheekin’ with his wife, he grabs a knife
And stabs the louse who stole his spouse,
An’ then he stabs the lady and himself – tain’t very sanitary.
They all collapse, but ol’ PAL-YAT-CHEE sets up,
Then he gets up, sings “I’m dyin’,
I am dyin’, I am dyin’.” We start cryin’
‘Cause to tell the truth, we’re dyin’ too.

As the footlights fade out
we see PAL-YAT-CHEE laid out.
But the dagger never caused it.
PAL-YAT-CHEE
was plumb
exhausted.

I could probably also come up with long sections from “Carmen,” including the very important passage that goes:

“Carmen, darling, please marry me.
Oh, be my little bumble bee.
You’re the honey that’ll sweeten our lives.”
“Instead of children we’ll both have hives.”
They’ll both have hives!
“I can not marry you, my Don,
‘Cause I’m in love with another one.
He fights the bull in the arena.”
“I could do that if I ate Farina”

“Oh, no, you couldn’t”
“Oh, yes, I could”
“Oh, no, you couldn’t”
“Oh, yes, I could”
“Oh, no, you couldn’t”
“Oh, yes, I could”
“Oh, no, you couldn’t”
“Oh, yes, I could.”

How about a change of pace? I have here right in my hippocampus the full lyrics for the anti-World War I song “Stay Down Here Where You Belong” by Irving Berlin

I chose the clip below because this song is so stupid, Irving Berlin was apparently horribly embarrassed at having written it, and Groucho used to follow him around at parties, singing it just to annoy him. AND IT IS A VERY STUPID SONG. Thank goodness I know it instead of my bank password. 

Down below, down below
Caught the devil talking to his son
Who wanted to go
Up above, up above.
He cried, “It’s getting too warm for me down here and so
I’m going way up where I can have a little fun,”
The Devil slowly smiled and then he answered his son:
“Stay down here where you belong
The folks above us don’t know right from wrong.
To please their kings, they’ve all gone off to war
And not one of them knows what they’re fighting for.
Way up above they say that I’m a devil and I’m bad.
Kings up there are bigger devils than your dad.
They’re breaking the hearts of mothers, making butchers out of brothers.
You’ll find more hell up there than there is down below.”
 
Yeah. 
 

Apparently I was on an Irving Berlin kick at some especially malleable stage in my development, because I also have firmly memorized:

“I’m Down In Honolulu Looking Them Over.” This is one of those songs that always gets a grave warning from historical archivists about how it may include references now considered culturally insensitive. 

You know my Uncle Jeremiah,
Who disappeared a month ago;
We got a letter from Hawaii,
And I declare my uncle’s there.
The atmosphere set him on fire,
It simply went right to his head;
What do you think he wrote
In his little note?
This is what he said.

I’m down in Honolulu looking them over,
i’m down in Honolulu living in clover,
Try and guess the way they dress.
No matter what you think it is, it’s even less.
Their language
Is hard to understand because it’s so tricky,
I’ve got them teaching me to say “wicky wicky.”
I don’t know what it means
But it’s the best that ever was,
And if it means just what I think it does,
I’ll be in Honolulu looking over them for a long, long time.

Well, “In the Bath” by Flanders and Swann has the special charm of including cultural and historical references that I can’t be offended by because I don’t understand them all. But I still have them memorized. 

Oh, I find much simple pleasure when I’ve had a tiring day,
In the bath,
In the bath

Where the noise of gently sponging seems to blend with my top A,
In the bath,
In the bath

To the skirl of pipes vibrating in the boiler room below,
I sing a pot pourri of all the songs I used to know,
And the water thunders in and gurgles down the overflow,
In the bath,
In the bath

Then the loathing for my fellows rises steaming from my brain,
In the bath,
In the bath

And condenses to the milk of human kindness once again,
In the bath,
In the bath

Oh, the tingling of the scrubbing brush, the flannel’s soft caress,
To wield a lordly loofah is a joy I can’t express,
How truly it is spoken one is next to godliness,
In the bath,
In the bath

Then there comes that dreadful moment when the water’s running cold,
In the bath,
In the bath

When the soap is lost forever and you’re feeling tired and old,
In the bath,
In the bath

It’s time to pull the plug out,
Time to mop the bathroom floor.
The towel is in the cupboard,
And the cupboard is next door.
It’s started running hot, let’s have another hour or more,
In the bath,
In the bath

I can see the one salvation of the poor old human race,
In the bath,
In the bath

Let the nations of the world all meet together, face to face,
In the bath,
In the bath

With Verwoerd, and Kenyatta, and all those other chaps,
Nkrumah, Nabbaro, we’ll get some peace perhaps,
Provided Swann and Flanders get the end without the taps,
In the bath,
In the bath

My final entry is one I can’t explain at all. Here it is:

“Meine Mutter Schmiert die Butter”

Now your turn! What do you know perfectly by heart, that would probably baffle a random group of 25 people? There is absolutely nothing at stake here. I just want to talk about something that doesn’t matter for a while. 

***
Image via Wikimedia commons (Creative Commons)

Committees are no substitute for true community

We used to belong to a parish that was a true community. It was genuinely diverse, with rich and poor people, old and young, able-bodied and impaired, and racially and culturally varied; but there was a sense of unity that I rarely experienced elsewhere, in any group of people of any kind, Catholic or otherwise.

When we got on the parish mailing list, we started to get regular emails: So-and-so needs a ride to the doctor on Thursday; So-and-so needs help changing the oil in his car. I didn’t happen to give birth while we attended that church, but I can easily imagine the landslide of casseroles and hand-crocheted booties that would have come my way if I had.

There was a very clear spirit of love present, and it was concrete and immediate, not abstract. They did have programs and official groups, but there was also a constant exchange of help and concern between individuals, one to one.

It’s tragic that this parish stands out in my head, rather than being the norm. Part of the magic was, of course, that it was small.  Of course little parishes aren’t automatically kind and generous and warm and giving, but they can be. But more and more in the 21st century, they don’t have the chance, because smaller churches are shuttered and de-consecrated, to be transformed into condos or pubs, or just bulldozed; and their former congregations are shunted into high capacity consolidated churches that can serve a wide community.

This is partly because of poor attendance. You can’t pay for lights and heat and insurance if hardly anyone is turning up. But it’s also because astronomically huge gobs of money are going to pay off sex abuse lawsuits, and there’s none left to pay for things like, well, keeping lots of little churches open.

Don’t get me wrong: Victims should be paid. Pressure on parishes is not their fault. But this slow-moving avalanche of the sex abuse scandal is largely crushing other innocent people, and because of the sins of some perverts in pointy hats, people who depended on the Church for help can no longer get it.

And so it goes. Each time a little church closes due to financial strain, there’s one less opportunity for a little gem of a parish to become a warm, busy little hub of charity in the name of Christ.

In big parishes, of course, it’s still possible for the church to care for needy people, whether what they need is food or clothing or help with their electric bills or help finding a job. But what often happens, if the money is there at all, is that there’s a program for everything: A program to feed the homeless, a program for divorcees, a program for widows, a program for youths.

It’s a good thing for needs to be served. Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death. But there are grievous drawbacks to the “there’s a program for that” model. . .

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

What’s for supper? Vol. 200! Let me not be misconstrued: All I really know is food.

“What’s for supper” was this thing
I started on a whim.
I thought it would be nice to take
A weekly break from grim
And ghastly stories all about
The Church and sex and stuff,
And write, instead, about meat loaf
And peanut butter fluff. 

Well . . . 

Let the happy news be thundered:
“What’s for supper” turns two hunderd.

SATURDAY
BURGERS AND CHIPS

“Burgers and chips,” the blackboard says.
So I guess that’s what we had.
Burgers and chips are always good.
They really can’t be bad.

I didn’t take a picture, though.
You know what burgers look like, bro. 

SUNDAY
PEPPERONCINI BEEF SANDWICHES, MEYER LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Pepperoncini beef is great
Chunk it in the crock pot, then you wait. 

Shred the meat and serve on rolls,
Dish some nice jus up in bowls,

Top with cheese and mayonnaise,
Then enjoy the songs of praise.

Finish up with lemon pie!
Sweet meringue piled nice and high.

Two cheerful pies for gloomy weather.
They took six years to put together.

MONDAY
FISH TACOS

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
Fish tacos is the meal for me!
Fresh cabbage shredded cheerfully!
Lime wedges waiting plump and green!
Keep the salsa, just gimme that sour cream.

Fish tacos is an easy dish!
Fish tacos are all made with fish!
Aldi has avocados cheap!
Darling, I love you, but, oh, that cabbage heap. 
♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

TUESDAY
SHAWARMA, FRIED EGGPLANT

Sometimes life is very dark.
Joys are feeble, pains are stark.

Wherefore all this shuck and jive?
What’s the reason we’re alive?

It’s shawarma

Cease your weeping, wipe your eyes.
Marinate those chicken thighs

In garlic, cumin, cinnamon.
Filthy eastern ways are fun

With shawarma.

Slice some eggplant, salt it well
Dredge in batter, what the hell. 

Fry ’til crisp and serve it hot
With yogurt sauce. Yes, please, a lot.

And shawarma.

WEDNESDAY
PIZZA

Somewhere in my kitchen, 
Is a missing ball of dough. 
I had it Wednesday morning
But by noon it had to go. 
I made four pizzas with the rest
And looked both high and low
But dough ball number five skipped town
Like Barry Manilow.*

*I don’t know, what do you want from me

THURSDAY
ONION SOUP, BEER BREAD, BRATS

It’s only melted butter,
Melted butter in a pot
Cuddled up with onions
And some beef broth, not a lot. 
Salt and pepper and flour
And a drift of parmesan.
But it smells like heart’s desire
And it tastes like supper’s on.

 

FRIDAY
MAC AND CHEESE

You know what, you write a poem about mac and cheese. 

***

Beef pepperoncini sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 hunk beef
  • 1 jar pepperoncini
  • rolls
  • sliced provolone

Instructions

  1. Put the beef in a slow cooker with a jar of pepperoncini and the juice. If you like, cut the stems off the pepperoncini. If there isn't enough juice, add some beer. 

  2. Cover, set to low, and let it cook for several hours until the meat falls apart when poked with a fork. 

  3. Shred the meat. If you like, chop up a few of the pepperoncini. 

  4. Serve meat on rolls with mayo if you like. Lay sliced provolone over the meat and slide it under the broiler to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Serve the juice on the side for dipping. 

 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add sliced or quartered onions and chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.



  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken and onions out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

1/2 cup veg oil for frying

2 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
    Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like.. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

Beer bread

A rich, buttery quick bread that tastes more bready and less cake-y than many quick breads. It's so easy (just one bowl!) but you really do want to sift the flour.

This recipe makes two large loaf pan loaves.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 12-oz cans beer, preferably something dark
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375

  2. Butter two large loaf pans. Melt the stick of butter.

  3. I'm sorry, but you really do want to sift the flour.

  4. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, and stir in beer until it's all combined and nice and thick.

  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and pour the melted butter over the top.

  6. Bake for about 50 minutes until it's crusty and knobbly on top.

Graphic abortion images have their place, but they don’t belong at the March for Life

Are you going to the March for Life, either in DC or in your state?  If so, are you planning to display graphic photos or videos of aborted babies?

If so, I’m begging you to reconsider.

I understand why people use them. Many Americans are still somehow ignorant about what abortion really is — what it really does to real babies.  They believe the lies about a “clump of cells” or “fetal pole activity,” or let themselves get confused in a cloud of euphemisms about “choice.” Many pro-lifers remember seeing those bloody images for the first time, and can recall being shaken out of a vague, fuzzy support for the pro-life cause into the realization that this is a life-and-death struggle — real life, and real death.

These images have their uses.

But a public place is not the place to use these images — ever, I’m convinced.  These images are like a terrible weapon which should be used with fear and trembling, and only as a last resort.  Ideally, they should only be used in the context of a relationship. Why?

Those are real babies.  Christians are almost alone in affirming the dignity of the human person.  The human body is sacred and always worthy of respect.  When we use pictures of real babies as a tactic or a tool, we are allowing ourselves to forget that these are children with an immortal soul, and who have a name that only their Father knows.  They have already been killed.  Let us treat their poor bodies with respect.

There will be children at the march.  Do you let your little kids watch slasher films or play gory video games?  No?  Well, those things show us actors with fake blood, pretending to be tortured and killed, or computer-generated images.  It’s bad enough when it’s fake. Why would you let your kids see the real thing?  The pro-life cause is about protecting innocent life, and that includes protecting the innocence of young children.  Violent images stay with us for a lifetime, and they damage us.

There will be post-abortive women at the march.  Imagine their courage in being there at all.  Then imagine what it does to them to see, once again, the dark thing that keeps them from sleeping at night — the thing that often keeps them in decades-long cycles of self-loathing and despair.  We don’t ask victims of rape to look at videos of rape in progress.  We don’t ask holocaust victims to look at huge banners showing the piles of emaciated bodies.  As pro-lifers, we must remember that every abortion has two victims:  the child and the mother.  We must never be on the side that hurts mothers.  Never.

Women who have miscarried will be there.  Thousands of the women at the March are mothers — mothers who have already given birth, mothers who are pregnant as they march, and mothers who have miscarried, delivered dead babies.  For many of them, the grief over a miscarriage never goes away entirely.  Many women stay away from any public march for fear of being subjected to these images so similar to the thing that caused them so much pain.  Motherhood makes a woman’s heart tender.  The pro-life movement should be a shelter that protects that tenderness — because the world needs it desperately.

Public image matters.  Some people’s only contact with obvious pro-lifers is with people who shout and condemn and terrify.  It’s just basic psychology:  if you want people to listen to you and have sympathy for your cause, don’t come across as a lunatic.  You’re not a lunatic — but to people who don’t already agree with you, you sure look that way if you’re out in public with an oversized photo of gore flapping in the wind.  Yes, your cause is worthy.  No, you’re not helping it.

They’re not an unanswerable argument that pro-lifers imagine, because people see what they want to see.  When the apostles begged the Lord to send the dead to persuade people to repent, He said that if they didn’t listen to the prophets, then they wouldn’t be impressed by the dead coming back to life, either.  Many pro-choicers speak as if it’s a foregone conclusion that pro-lifers use photoshopped images — that the tiny, mutilated feet and hands and heads are a hoax that’s been thoroughly debunked.  It’s a lie, of course.  But people believe it all the same, because they want to (and pro-lifers don’t help their cause by being sloppy about things like identifying gestational age on photos).

Desensitization is a real danger — even among pro-lifers.  It’s just how humans are made:  see something too often, and you stop really seeing it.  I thank and bless those who work so tirelessly for the pro-life cause, including those who had to spend time up close with the heart-rending remains of babies, rescuing them from dumpsters and photographing them.

But to those who use these images routinely everywhere, indiscriminately, I beg that they to stop and consider that, like policemen or like soldiers, they are human, and are in danger of becoming hardened out of self-preservation. People who have become hardened must never be the public face of the pro-life cause.  If you, as a pro-life activist, see a bloody image and you don’t flinch, then it’s time to take a break — move into a different segment of the ministry, perhaps one that emphasizes prayer and reparation.

*****

These are all arguments against using graphic images indiscriminately, in a public place. Does this mean they should never be used?

Absolutely not.  Bloody and shocking images have their place.  Pro-life activists are right when they say abortion depends on silence and darkness, and that truth must be exposed.  Too many people who are pro-choice because they somehow still don’t know what fetuses actually look like, or what happens to them when they are aborted– or because they’ve simply slipped into a comfortable shelter of euphemisms.  These lies, this comfort must be stripped away.

So when should you use graphic images?  When a teenager shrugs and says, “My health teacher says it’s not a person until 25 weeks.”  When someone who works in the front office of a clinic says she’s doing a gentle, compassionate work of mercy.  When your boyfriend wants you to get rid of “it” before it becomes a real baby.  When a college girl likens unborn babies to tumors or parasites.  Then you can respond to the actual situation, to the actual person.  Then you can take out the picture and say, “Is this what you’re talking about?” And let the poor, dead child speak for you. 

I believe that everyone should see an image of an aborted baby once in their lifetime.  And I believe that, like any traumatic image, it will stay with you.  Once or twice in a lifetime is enough. 

Abortion is violent.  Abortion is cruel.  Abortion inflicts trauma and pain on the vulnerable.  Abortion is dehumanizing to mother and child. As pro-lifers, we should have no part in any of that.  Let use those graphic images with care and respect, as a weapon of last resort. 

***
Photo used with kind permission of the photographer, Matthew Lomanno, from his photo documentary of the March for Life 2014.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 199: Exit, pursued by lion’s head

So! Next week is Vol. 200 of What’s for Supper. You know what that means, don’t you?!?!?!

I don’t know. It means what it means. If you have any neat ideas for how to mark the occasion, I’m at least partially ears. In the mean time, thanks for playing along for two hundred weeks! I have all these tabs open with upsetting stories about troubling new violations of bioethics and stuff like that, and I love having a little section of the internet where we can just talk about dang ol’ food.

Here’s what we had this week.

SATURDAY
Lasagna, garlic bread

I wasn’t sure what to make when I got home from shopping, so Damien was all, “Hey, how about if I shop for and make my special homemade lasagna?” You know, I argued a little bit, but eventually I let him. You have to let husbands have their way sometimes, for the health of the marriage. This is called “dying to self,” and it’s delicious.

I still don’t have an actual recipe, but here is his description of how it’s made:

For the meat sauce: You take some cut-up onion and garlic and cook it in olive oil with a few red pepper flakes. Then you add the meat [we had ground beef] and brown it up. Then add a can of tomato pasta and a can of whole tomatoes crushed up a little, and a splash of red wine.

For the cheese mixture: You put a shit ton of shredded mozzarella in the [three tubs of] ricotta cheese, a bunch of garlic powder, salt and pepper and oregano, and some cinnamon [couldn’t find the nutmeg]

He cooked up a few boxes of pasta and layered that with the meat sauce and the cheese mixture and lots and lots of sliced mozzarella and parmesan and chopped Italian parsley. Then he sprinkled parmesan cheese and olive oil on the top, and baked it. 

SUNDAY
Carnitas with guacamole

Jump to Recipe

Pretty mediocre carnitas, to be honest. I started the meat in the slow cooker somewhat late in the day, so it didn’t get very tender, and then I had a kid shred it and I seasoned it okay, but then I overcooked it, so it was dry and chewy. Boo.

Avocados are still 69 cents, so I made another big bowl of guacamole, but it, too, was nothing to write home about. I couldn’t find the cilantro. The refrigerator is out of control. I can’t find anything. I also forgot to buy tomatoes, and made the dubious chose to use canned diced tomatoes. I was just kind of guacamediocre, I guess. You don’t even want to know how long I thought about which was funnier, “guacamediocre” or “mediocamole.” I decided they were both stupid and maybe we can just move along. 

Here’s my guac recipe that’s really good if you actually follow it. 

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MONDAY
Chicken burgers, fries, carrots and broccoli with hummus
Chinese food for adults

So I was supposed to review Jojo Rabbit but, like a dummy, I missed the local viewing. So I threw some frozen food in the kids’ general direction we drove about an hour to Amherst, MA, which turns out to be a pretty neat little town.  We picked out a Mandarin Chinese restaurant Formosa, that looked, let’s face it, quiet. We didn’t want a place that looked fun or cute or neat or awesome. We wanted one that looked quiet. It turned out to be a pretty serious Chinese restaurant! By which I mean there were a lot of Chinese people eating there, and there were lot of intestines on the menu, and, like, salted fish heads.

Now, Damien and I really diverge, here. When we are away from home, he wants to know exactly what he is in for, so he ordered crab rangoon, miso soup, General Gao’s Chicken, and white rice. I, on the other hand, feel like this could be my one and only chance to open a whole new door to a whole new world and what if I’m afraid to take a chance and I miss it!!!!!!!

This has never worked out well for me, not even one time. I always end up with a giant portion of something weird and upsetting. Nevertheless, I went ahead and ordered Lion’s Head Sizzling Pot. I mean, how can you not? It said it had shrimp in it, and it was called LION’S HEAD SIZZLING POT. 

The waiter tried to talk me out of it, and showed me two other items which were also called Lion’s Head; but I pushed back pretty hard, and I got my Lion’s Head Sizzling Pot. It turned out to be . . . I really can’t call it a bowl of soup. It was a tankard of soup. A tub of soup. A basin of soup. A CASK of soup. I could have soaked my feet up to my calves in this dish.

Note not only the diameter of the dish, but how far away from the table the spoon is.

It had soft, grey pork meatballs the size of softballs lurking around in it. There were veritable rafts of scrambled eggs adrift in the bowl. Also some kind of leafy greens, maybe bok choy, although it seemed leafier than that; comb-shaped bamboo shoots; vast logs of tofu, squares of ham, chewy, bulbous, dark brown mushrooms, vermicelli, and a few lonely shrimp. It was kinda bland, to be honest. I ate as much as I possibly could and barely made a dent in the volume.

They packed the leftovers up for me in several containers and I exited, pursued by Lion’s Head.

Jojo Rabbit was interesting, but boy oh boy, I have thoughts. Review should be up soon in America if they like it. 

TUESDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

Damien kindly offered to make dinner again, as I was freaking out about something or other. He makes very fine meatballs. I don’t seem to have a picture of them, though.

Here’s my meatball recipe

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He likes to pan fry his and add lots of diced onions. My recipe is less exciting but way easier, as they are made in the oven. (Whispers: ***It doesn’t really matter. If you put them in sauce the end up tasting the same.***)

Dora also invited a friend over and they made knishes, reasons unclear. Not that you need a reason to make knishes! I’ve just never woken up on a Tuesday morning and thought to myself, “Hey, I know what!” and ended up with knishes. 

WEDNESDAY
Ginger garlic chicken kabobs, string beans, pineapple

New recipe! I more or less followed Damn Delicious’ recipe, so I won’t make a new card just yet. This was pretty tasty and easy, although the fresh ginger I bought vanished without a trace, so I had to use powdered. I must say, it was plenty hot without fresh ginger. It’s a zippy, warming dish, and attractive. I over cooked it a bit, oops. 

It’s an easy marinade (oyster sauce, ketchup, honey, chili garlic sauce, dijon mustard, garlic, and ginger). I let it marinate for about five hours, then stuck the chicken on skewers and put them on an oiled broiler pan right under the broiler. I turned them once, slathered on some reserved marinade, and cooked the other side. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds and scallions, and there it is. 

Surprisingly filling. 

THURSDAY
Gumbo, brown rice

I more or less followed this recipe from The Spruce Eats.

I actually started prepping this Wednesday night, because I took a look at my Thursday schedule and did not like what I saw. So I cooked chicken thighs in the instant pot, browned up some sausage, and then sautéed the shrimp in the sausage pan; and Clara diced a bunch of celery, peppers, and onions.

(Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I bought Italian sausage because I live in NH and I don’t know anything.)

I thought I was sooooo smart, and cooking day was going to be soooo easy because of the prep work we had done. I’ll tell you what, this dish was still a pain in the ass to make. I was stirring that freaking roux for an hour, and it never did get “chocolate brown.” And it turns out I don’t have any cajun seasoning in my pantry (by which I mean two old taped-together clementine boxes on top of the microwave) because I live in NH. So I made some cajun seasoning, but by this point, I was feeling awfully cranky about the whole project, and there was really no way this gumbo was going to taste good enough to make up for the pain in my ass. 

I mean, it was good? Sometimes it’s hard to tell how good something tastes when you’re already full of resentment. 

Damien and I ate it, Corrie and Moe tried it, and the rest of them went straight for frozen pizza. And I mean frozen pizza, as in they did not cook it. They are complete degenerates and I don’t know why I bother. And yes, I brought this entire debacle upon myself by choosing to make gumbo for no reason at all. My Saturday morning ambitions do not always mesh well with my Thursday afternoon realities. 

I had delusions of making some french bread, since it turned out so well last week.

As the day flew by, I downgraded my ambitions to beer bread. But it turns out I was out of flour. This is not because I live in NH; it’s because I forgot to buy flour. Anyway, I’ll put the beer bread recipe card at the end and Imma make it soon. Beer bread is great! It only uses one bowl, and it comes together as quickly as any quick bread, but it’s much more bready and less cakey than most quick breads, and it has a wonderful yeasty, honeyed taste, and the knobbly cobbled crust is very nice. The secret is a ludicrous amount of melted butter.

Anyway, this was all in my imagination. In real life, I made a big pot of brown rice, which the kids also did not eat. Benny tried to comfort me by remarking on how chewy it is, and how funny that is. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

I don’t have a recipe, really. Just make a white sauce until it looks like enough, then dump in a bunch of shredded cheese and plenty of pepper and SOME HOT SAUCE. Then you mix this with the cooked macaroni, pour into a buttered dish, top with buttered panko bread crumbs, and bake until you can hear it. 

My kids eat it with mustard. I told you they were degenerates. 

Okay! Don’t forget to comment with ideas about what to do for Vol. 200! If it were the summer, I’d make a whole week of greatest hits, or a whole week of reader-suggested recipes. But it’s not. 

4 from 1 vote
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Slow cooker carnitas

Serve on tortillas with sour cream, guacamole, beans and rice, salsa, cilantro, or whatever you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 1 can beer (or soda)
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put pork shoulder in slow cooker with beer. Cook on low for five hours or more, until pork falls apart when poked. 

  2. Preheat broiler. 

  3. Shred meat, mix together with spices, and spread in a thin layer on a shallow pan. Broil for a few minutes until meat is slightly crisped.  

  4. Serve on tortillas with whatever additions you like. 

 

4 from 1 vote
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White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

4 from 1 vote
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Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

Beer bread

A rich, buttery quick bread that tastes more bready and less cake-y than many quick breads. It's so easy (just one bowl!) but you really do want to sift the flour.

This recipe makes two large loaf pan loaves.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 12-oz cans beer, preferably something dark
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375

  2. Butter two large loaf pans. Melt the stick of butter.

  3. I'm sorry, but you really do want to sift the flour.

  4. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, and stir in beer until it's all combined and nice and thick.

  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and pour the melted butter over the top.

  6. Bake for about 50 minutes until it's crusty and knobbly on top.