Friday, September 23, 2011

Ratatouille: Follow your passions

Never thought I'd think a rat could be lovable, but while my little grandson sat in his car seat in the van waiting for his mom, we watched the movie, Ratatouille, and I was hooked.
The creators of the wonderful cartoon characters made it believable that a rodent could perch on the top of a garbage boy's head and guide him into creating fabulous recipes for the French dining establishment where the rat's young human friend worked.
Disaster struck, and the garbage boy became the chef. The kitchen crew scrambled about with worry when a food columnist announced he was coming and would rate the food. I understood completely because I wrote a pile of newspaper food stories myself when I was in Lifestyle and we rated different dishes around town occasionally.
It was totally believable when the health department came to close them down, because I've been with environmental health workers as they inspected restaurants. One of our fast food restaurants was closed for a while because one customer found a dead mouse in her chili. Turned out the mouse probably met his demise in the tomato canning factory.
Yet, I was overjoyed when Remy the Rat and his helpful friends escaped from the inspectors and sad when they closed the Parisian Restaurant where the rat and the young chef made fabulous ratatouille, a delicious vegetable dish. Yet, there was the happy ending when the rat and his friend opened another restaurant and the food critic was their best customer.
The theme of the movie is "Follow your passions."
Now some passions are worth pursuing and others are not. Some passions have the capacity to destroy our lives and send us directly to hell. But when you know the Lord, He places a passion in us to know Him, to tell others about Him and the abundant and eternal life He gives. We hunger and thirst after righteousness and are miraculously filled with the peace and joy that goes along with it.
Often the Lord gives us a passion to develop and use our talents for Him and to bless others.
The Message Bible highlights the Psalmist's words: "Wait passionately for God, don't leave the path. He'll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it (Psalm 37:33-35).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A good historical romance

Hailee (Montana Skies)Hailee by Penny Zeller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hailee is another great book from Penny Zeller

In 1965 we stayed in a nice hotel in Downtown Denver. Only a few months later the place sat vacant, an eyesore on the street while the building awaited demolition to make room for a new high rise business building.
So when I read about Hailee Annigan and her brothers trying to survive in a vacant hotel, it was easy for me to imagine the orphans living in such a place, working at the jobs they could find, but sometimes stealing so they could eat.
But I’m getting ahead, or should I say behind? Penny Zeller opens the story with Hailee tying up ends so she can travel to her new teaching job in Montana. Among her tasks is posting her new address around downtown Cincinnati so her long-lost brothers can find her.
In the best use of back story I’ve read, Penny Zeller turns back the clock and we’re with Hailee and the boys in the dark unheated building, wondering where the next meal will come from and whether one of them will be caught by police.
After several narrow escapes, Hailee is caught. Her thievery lands her in jail, but then the Sanctuary of Promise becomes her home and her brothers disappear.
Thus begins a story of struggle, worry, and eventually hope and romance. But what if her suitor discovers her background?
Penny Zeller does a great job with this book, creating characters, and taking us from the present to the past. I ordinarily skip much of the back story, but she didn’t tell it, she showed it in vivid detail, and I enjoyed it.
This is another good book from this author and I recommend it.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Salt-free Diets

We don't appreciate many things until they're gone. For instance, salt. We sprinkle it here, dump it there, and it seems harmless enough.
Yet, for some people eating salt can cause all sorts of problems. I was at risk for toxemia during my last three pregnancies and the doctor was so strict he told me not even to drink milk or eat celery because these foods contains natural sodium.
Now, too much salt elevates my blood pressure. I have a sis with congestive heart failure and she needs salt-free foods to keep her lungs from filling with fluid.
Since I've been stuck in this dietary desert for much of my life I told her eating food the way God made it isn't so bad. For me it's better than having a stroke, which took my mom's life at age 58 and caused a different sister to lose the verbal part of her brain in her 70s. Forsaking salt is better than not being able to enjoy more years with my children and grandchildren.
I've discovered eggs can be eaten with only pepper, and sometimes I make an omelet with bell peppers, onions -- and when my BP is OK, I melt a little cheese over it.
I usually am on a low-sodium diet, so I eat homemade waffles and pancakes, sometimes a blueberry muffin, oatmeal (I don't even miss the salt in it) with raisins, nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Lunch, usually our main meal, I can have talapia, steak, pork chops, pork steak, chicken and beef and pork roasts and not miss the salt. With grilled steak I have marinated it only with lemon juice and a little garlic or Mrs. Dash, but often I add a little worcestershire sauce.
I sprinkle a little lemon pepper on talapia, which does contain some salt. If I'm eating something that has salt, I eat only a small serving.
Pork roasts I cover with pepper and sliced onion, add water, and cook in a 450-degree oven until the meat thermometer says it is done. Pork chops I use an electric skillet with a lid, heat to the highest heat, add quite a bit of oil, and keep turning them until they're done. I sprinkle Mrs. Dash on the meat the last two times I turn it. Pork steak I cover with a small amount of prepared barbecue sauce and cook in the oven on 300 degrees for two hours,adding a little sauce again when I take it out.
People who are on a low-salt diet and like ham will find if they soak ham slices in warm water, then place it between paper towels and squeeze, much of the salt will come out. When I cook a pot of beans, I add a ham bone with a little meat attached, and no salt.
Fresh or frozen green beans are delicious cooked, not steamed, in a small amount of water on medium-high heat for about five minutes (Watch or it will boil dry). Add unsalted butter. I drain canned vegetables, rinse and cook in water. Corn on the cob is good with only butter.
Lettuce is delicious when you add only vinegar, especially if you top it with mandarin oranges or sliced peaches and a little of the juice. Top salad with red or green grapes, too, and all sorts of different veggies like you would see at a salad bar.
I you have trouble with salt, perhaps some of these ideas will help you.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Book edits show imperfections

Anyone who thinks he's perfect should have his work critiqued or edited.
My editor sent me the edits of my book, Swallowed by Life, recently. Just a glance at the "Track Changes" grinds away at any gradiose ideas about myself.
In my work as a news reporter, the editor's work wasn't so obvious. When I sent a story to the City Desk computer, I didn't see my work again until after it plunked on almost every doorstep in the region. A glance told me if the headline reflected the significance of the news. A read through my lead revealed whether Steve or Chris tweaked it. Most of the time I had no idea what had been cut or changed from the rest of the story because I was too busy to check.
I know my bosses occasionally found clumsy sentences, typos and grammatical errors. Once in a while if I made a complete fool of myself, they'd let me know. When I was a cub reporter, one day the editor yelled across the newsroom and everyone knew about my silly mistake.
Even the family sometimes pointed out my errors. I handed my teenaged daughter, Carolyn, a copy of a free lance article I'd written for a Christian magazine in the days before computers. "Read this and tell me what you think."
She took the pages and sat down on the floor. It wasn't long before her melodious laughter filled the room and she rolled on the floor with glee-- and it was a serious piece. I was about to ask why it was so humorous when she began reading sentences, pronouncing my typographical errors the way they surfaced on the page.
By the time I had five children, I learned they have a way of keeping you humble.
So when the editor sent me the edited copy of "Swallowed by Life" a couple of weeks ago, I didn't cringe in shock at all the marks and comments. I had the sense to accept the majority of them, which were mostly related to style since AP style is ingrained in my writing and I have trouble changing. I accepted the editor's comments with joy because I know they improve the book. I usually do the same with my critique group's suggestions.
When I read the Bible, my imperfections glare out at me even more than they do in my writing. The Word and the Spirit point to weeds in my life that need to be killed or pulled. I try to have the same attitude I have with editors because I know when the Lord works in me, I'll be much better for it. Not always easy, though, and often tears come as I realize how imperfect I am.
But the joy is, I serve a sinless, perfect, holy and just Lord whose blood covers my imperfections because I asked Him to.