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My Dad was Hungarian and a very good cook. I think he even had his own Hungarian restaurant once.

Mom, on the other hand, was known far and wide for her burnt porkchops and except for a few tried and true ultra-simplistic recipes, she was not considered an inspiring cook.

Maybe it is true that opposites attract.

But Mom’s brave attempts at gourmet cooking caused Dad to make a teasing proclamation he repeated often at the family dinner table. It was an anonymous quote guaranteed to make Mom angry when she had done the cooking.

And the impact of those words echo in my memory and remain a constant reminder today of what constitutes a good cook.

What did my Dad say to provide such contemplation and inspiration?

He said, “The cook is not in love!”

And that meant there was not enough salt!

Nowadays we all seem to be “watching our salt” intake. Still, there is something to be said for tasting as you go. And that was the way of the best cooks in my Dad’s experience. Poor Mom stayed quiet and just kept trying.

On occasion Dad would give me his recipes for the dishes I liked best. Here’s a good one, for the most favorite dish in my family.

HUNGARIAN CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

For a family of four: 6-8 chicken pieces or more.

In large pot, melt 2 sticks of butter.

Add 2 large chopped onions and saute until onions are translucent.

Add the larger pieces of chicken (breasts) skin side down.

Spoon some of the onion over each layer.

On top of that, add the smaller pieces of chicken skin side down.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Reverse and turn everything.  Now put smaller pieces of chicken on the

bottom skin side up and the bigger pieces on top of that, skin side up.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes more.

You should now have lots of juice.  If not, add some water.

Also now add lots of paprika – 4 or 5 or 6 tablespoonsful. 

You are looking for a very orange colored gravy.

Simmer another 15 minutes.

Your Hungarian Paprikash is done!

Serve over cooked egg noodles or spaetzle.

Serve with sour cream on the side.

The odd thing about this recipe is the only spice is Paprika. NO salt or pepper are called for and in fact discouraged. Each diner can add salt or not at will. And no comments will be made about the cook not being in love.

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This is Me, Elsa

They call me a Rescue Dog but I am really just a dog, a descendent of the mighty wolves of long ago. I actually remember bits and pieces of that ancient time when we depended upon our wolf families to survive. This leftover is a dog who still thinks the family/pack is everything.

I remember my ancient mother licking my face to tell me I was safe and cared for. And I remember roughhouse playing with my siblings as practice for real hunting and fighting. But mostly I remember the “now times” and my first, second and third human families.

My name is Elsa.

I am a little rescue dog with big wolf ideas.

In this life I have some bad memories.

My first human family did not really want puppies so they gave me to a kennel where I lived in a cage. Then a mean couple finally adopted me. I had a home but it was not a happy place because the man hit the lady and made her cry. I would growl at him and bark but he hit her anyway and he hit me too. I think he broke one of my ribs because it still sticks out and I don’t like anyone touching there. I also cringe and flinch if you try to pat me on my head.

The mean couple trained me to never to “go” on the grass. They thought the neighbors would complain. To avoid getting hit or kicked I learned to always go on the edges, on the concrete or gravel even though that was uncomfortable and sometimes hot on my feet.

I never learned to play either because there were no toys in that house. As hard as I tried I suppose I never did anything right because the mean couple ended up leaving me at a kennel. Their reason given was they simply did not want me. I was back living in a cage.

The next people who adopted me gave me back too and said it was because of hospitalization. I never bit anyone but maybe they thought I did. I am not sure why they were hospitalized. Then I was put in a foster program instead of in a kennel. The foster people tried to be nice but they had too many dogs to care for. Every Saturday they took us to a pet store in Virginia where people came to meet us and maybe take us away.

How I hated Saturdays! The noise was unbearable because all the foster dogs barked and cried at once. We were all so afraid of all the strangers and there was this awful smell of fear.

But there was a lady who walked with a stick who came in that Saturday.

They brought her a chair and they took me to a cage that was right next to her. I fought with the two attendants who were trying to put me in there when the lady said, “Please don’t put her in that cage. I will hold her.” And so I sat on-leash, next to the lady with my head on her foot, shivering and looking into her eyes to thank her in the only way I could.

That nice lady was named Dor and she was with another nice one named Emmy. They did not know me and I could not tell them how afraid I am of cars. Cars always take me to another horrible place. But Emmy and an attendant put me in the back seat of a car where I did some serious shaking and shivering. Emmy drove and Dor sat next to me. She wrapped me in her coat, held me close, and talked to me in a soft voice. She said, “It’s o.k. You are going home to a nice place where people will love you.” And she kept stroking my face and my ears like my real dog mother used to do and all the wolf mothers before her.

And I thought, “I will never forget this human. I will never forget.”

We drove for a long time to a house with other people and even a dog named Kota, who was much bigger than me and very very nervous. In fact, Kota turned out to be so nervous, she could not be still.

We went inside but I was sure they would soon take me to another kennel and another cage. I really wanted to explore but there were so many people talking at once and Kota kept running around nonstop. Finally I growled as if I were Mighty Wolf and scared Kota onto a chair with her mistress.

It was a relief to sleep that night in a dark room with Dor and Bill. I slept on a blanket at the foot of their bed and it was heavenly quiet. Everybody left in the morning except for Dor and Bill. Now we three would get to know each other and I somehow knew this would be my forever family,

I think I am as smart as any other dog, but it took a day and a night and some more experiences to believe I had a new home where the humans actually liked me.

Dor was the one human I decided to take care of.

I followed her everywhere and still do.

I sit behind her chair but if she moves I move.

I have been here two years now and all this time she thought I was the one who needed protecting. Even when I bark at strangers she thinks I am afraid for myself.

The truth is, I am protecting HER – not me. I do love all her soft words of praise and love and the gentle petting too. But I know my real purpose is to protect her and my family.

I knew this from the very first moment I heard her say,

“Please don’t put her in that cage. I will hold her.”

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Another Valentine’s Day came and went,

The only card I received was from my oldest, longest friend, Kit the Wit. Kit knows me well since we have been friends since childhood. Anyway, she knows I married a good kind generous loving man who does not believe in Valentine’s Day.

In our younger life together I put on a brave show of agreeing with Bill.

“It’s a Hallmark Holiday,” said we.

“It’s all commercialized.”

“Yup.”

And so the years went by. When hearing about our strange family custom, some friends sent cards and even candy but those acts of sympathy never lasted long. Only Kit the Wit persisted in remembering that her old friend always spent Valentine’s Day wishing for a surprise.

This Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2021 came and went like all the others.

Until February 15, 2021 – the day after! Actually the night after.

It was already dark and a holiday (President’s Day) so we were not expecting any deliveries, but suddenly Elsa the Dog began frantic barking and the lights of a delivery truck lit up the house. It was a gift from our three grandgirls – a beautiful box of chocolates with fond wishes for our enjoyment.

How wonderful is that?

THANKYOU MY SWEET AND THOUGHTFUL GRANDDAUGHTERS FOR LITERALLY MAKING OUR DAY!

AND HAPPY BELATED VALENTINES TO YOU TOO!

We love you more than you will ever know!

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Once upon a very long time ago, when I was but a wee bit of a girl, my parents took me and my little brother to semi-professional ball games at a local park. It was a way to cool off in the evenings since we lived in Florida and had no air-conditioning in those good old days.

To us kids, those parktime excursions were wondrous, not only for the star quality of the young athletes in their dashing uniforms, but for the air of excitement and the vendors who went up and down the stands hawking, “Get your hot dogs here! Get your peanuts here!”

And Dad would buy us each a bag of warm wonderful peanuts. I think they were maybe 10 cents a bag. But what I recall is the delightful aroma.

The memory of those rich fragrant little bags of nuts stayed with me for years until I found out how to make my own replica in my own kitchen. Since then I have been giving tins of them for gifts, offering them up when company comes (before and hopefully after Covid), and keeping batches of them in my freezer.

Now, if you are allergic to peanuts, feel free to burn this page. But if you are not, just follow the recipe for Dor’s Home Roasted Peanuts.

DOR’S HOME ROASTED PEANUTS

INGREDIENTS:

One pound of Raw Blanched Peanuts (I get mine at a local Farm store, but I am sure you can order them online too).

Regular salt and if you have it,

Seasoned salt (usually more powdery than regular salt so it sticks better to the peanuts)

1 1/2 teaspoons butter (I use coconut oil but butter is fine too – it’s just to give the salt something to stick to).

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Pour all the raw peanuts into a rimmed pan. I use the bottom of my broiler pan.

Put the pan full of nuts into the oven and the timer on for 6 minutes.

After 6 minutes, stir them up and move them around for more even baking.

Time them again for 6 minutes. Repeat.

Repeat the 6 minute timing and shuffling for a total of 3 or 4 times.

When the peanuts look golden and brown enough, immediately remove from oven and stir in the butter all around to give the peanuts a light coating (just enough for the salt to stick to). If you use 2 teaspoons of butter it will probably be too much.

Now simply start salting to taste. I start with the stickier Seasoned Salt, generously apply and stir around. Then the regular or sea salt – apply and stir.

Serve warm or serve right out of the freezer. Mostly, ENJOY!

The taste of these peanuts is totally different than anything store bought. They are as close to the Ballgame Peanuts of my childhood as I have ever found.

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I have decided to quit. 

I am tired of progress.

This gift is another very special thing that must be learned.

And I am tired of learning.

The school room was the place for that along with a younger more receptive mind.  And if you learned something well and once, it was good for a lifetime.  Well mostly.

When I was 17 I had a job as a gopher (go-fer this and go-fer that) and they told me if I learned to clean and operate an Ozalid machine, I would have some invaluable knowledge for life.  Noone I know today has ever heard of an Ozalid machine, have you?

Nowadays, however, if you learn a thing and think you have it stored and always ready to draw upon “you have another think coming.”  Nope.  If you learn one part of a computer it may be useless in a matter of hours.

Here I am with a shiny new computer I am calling Ogar (short for Ogre) that was given to me for Christmas with great love by my whole family.  I am truly grateful since the old object of their affection, which I had partially learned after 5 years of struggling was showing signs of ultimate collapse.

Groan.  How can I disparage such a thoughtful wonderful gift? 

Well, the process of transferring all the old stuff to the new Ogar may sound easy but HA!  Not so.  The process is more like a pulling a tooth.  You mindlessly explore with the tongue for a ghostly apparition of what might still be there, but in the end all the exploration yields only a gaping empty space.

My sweet family saw this sleek new marvel would not only replace the 5 year old relic, but it would  also keep me busy whilst waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine.  In addition to proving how warm hearted my family is, there is also an element of logic there.

Ogar is definitely a time guzzler.

And better Ogar than Covid right?

Ogar is certainly keeping me busy too, creating a roadmap of wrinkles upon my brow.   Thankfully I call upon my son to guide me through all the myriad options chasing an insane cursor through a maze of intricate maneuvers over an increasingly insane canvas. And only my son really knows where the mercurial sensor is going or why.

“You see that thing that looks like a cog?” he asks in his effort to guide me through all the symbols.

A cog? 

How do I know what a cog looks like? 

Where on this page of icons, symbols and totems is there a cog?

 “Settings?”  “Oh, you mean SETTINGS!”

I am definitely retiring from Progress.

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Oh, to be thankful for a bit of good luck lately. But is it luck that Covid-19 will see many of us in the history books of the future. And if we outlive this virus, we are like the souls who survived the Great Plagues of earlier times.

Old Wives’ tales abounded then as now and regional customs took over with their guarantees of good luck. Wearing a necklace of garlic to ward off evil vapors is one I read about years ago. I haven’t tried that yet.

But dining on Pork on New Year’s Day was a tradition in Bill’s childhood (leftover from Plague times?) and a pork roast on New Year’s Day became a yearly family ritual in our home.

Most years I baked a traditional pork roast drenched in sauerkraut to bring us good luck, and though the luck did seem to follow us from year to year, the big roast got heavier and heavier, especially after all the sweets and goodies that collected over the Christmas holidays.

Eventually we decided to try simpler fare, and so arrived DOR’S APPLE PORKCHOP RECIPE (Good for good luck on New Year’s Day and beyond):

The question is: Will one pork chop bring as much good luck per person as a big roast?

Quality versus Quantity Equals Pork in the Time of Covid

DOR’S APPLE PORK CHOPS

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 fairly thick Pork Chops (I use only two – one for Bill and one for me)
  • 4-5 apples peeled and sliced to lay on top of the chops (like a blanket)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown sugar, more or less
  • 2 Tbs Sage
  • 1 thinly sliced whole Onion
  • 1 Carrot cut into little tiny bits (mostly for color and a hint of health)

Rub a roasting pan (small one for only 2 chops) with the raw chops (to grease it a bit)

Put chops in one layer in the baking dish or pan

Cover chops with sliced apples

Sprinkle all over with brown sugar.

Sprinkle sage on top.

Spread onion slices on top.

Sprinkle the little bits of carrots on top too – for color.

Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 1/2 hours.

This is really delicious served with Baked Beans and a nice green salad!

Happy New Year to my friends here and there in the Blog-Us-Fear.

And Good Luck!

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It has been over 30 years since first we came to this bit of Camelot in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There was nothing here but we camped out on the land and dreamed of the perfect house to shelter us right into old age.

A Home for Living

All on one level with an attached two car garage we have given thanks many times for the cover during rain or sleet or snow. It is a modest house designed by Bill, that has bent with the years to accommodate many changes. In the beginning my mother came to live with us for several years, then Bill’s sister moved to the area and spent every weekend here. My brother and Sister-in-law and kids came too, and long time friends returned and returned. Our son came early on, married, and then grandchildren arrived, and we had dogs and horses and a garden and we grew along with the landscape and we changed too along with the house that accommodated and sheltered us all.

There are rooms with a view, mostly of the Blue Ridge Mountains which really do look blue sometimes. Other rooms look out upon our green green world and what I call the Forest Primeval.

Bedrooms have their own thermostats for individual heat control in case we lose power. But there is a big wood stove which heats the house so efficiently that I sometimes have to open windows in the middle of a blizzard.

Even though I always see this home as almost perfect, we began some upgrades in 2018. A big change was the addition of a “Whole House Generator.” It is still hard to imagine we no longer need candles. Oddly enough I still have a major stash of jarred candles “just in case.” But the generator keeps working its magic and we haven’t had to use a candle yet (except to add romance of course).

In addition to the magical generator, we upgraded the kitchen with a quartz countertop that feels cool and looks so cool that I think I am working in a brand new place. I love the view of the mountains from the kitchen too.

Kitchen Before – Outdated Cabinets and Formica Countertop
Kitchen After – Counter is actually a Dove Grey

Nope, we do not wish to sell the house! And this is not a pre-prepared advertisement. I have simply run out of adventurous things to blog about, and my self imposed isolation means you get a little tour of Camelot. Also, between you and me, I am practising using the new WordPress block editor format. What do you think?

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Homeward Bound

Some eons ago, when I was a little girl my parents took us kids out for Sunday drives.  Those were always exciting times with donuts as the grand finale.

My parents are long gone, but some of those sweet memories resurface, especially since there has been ample time to reflect on past pleasures.

Nowadays Bill takes Elsa-the-dog and me for “rides in the car.”  I think he thinks we need a change of scene and he is so right.  These outings expand our world beyond the walls that bind us since Bill and I are among the most vulnerables to the Corona Virus.

Elsa gets beyond excited when we ask, “Wanna go for a ride in the car?”  She dashes back and forth barking and whining and eagerly jumps in.  But the sad thing is, Elsa does not know how to enjoy life as a dog.   She immediately hunkers down as if to hide from imminent danger, rarely looks out the window, and shakes and shivers with her head in my lap no matter where we may wander.

Because she is so frightened I ride in the back seat with her, and off we go, with Bill as the Chauffeur.

 Elsa does sit up but only if the car stops.  That gives her a window view of sorts with glimpses of an alien world fraught with terror.

  • Sometimes Bill stops at an ATM machine and when he gets out, Elsa goes mad with worry – crying and howling in despair that we have lost a pack member to the insane outside world
  • The parking lot of Walmart is always interesting too.  We went there to see if the GoodWill drop was still open (and it was).  Elsa began whining in anticipation of further pack loss, but we had not brought our donations and we all stuck together inside the relative safety of the car.
  • The Sheetz gas station is colorful too and very scary indeed.  Last time we were there a mask-less fellow was filling up next to us, right by my open window.  Suddenly he began yelling at a friend who was some distance away.  Being Covid-19- paranoid I feared I might contract the virus from his unmasked yelling vapors (so I held my breath)!  I wonder why the CDC has not recommended holding your breath as a preventative measure.
  • Another time we drove to Buena Vista (the nearest little town) and we saw whole families out walking with little kids skipping alongside. None of them were wearing masks either (not the parents, kids or dogs) but they were single family units out in the fresh air.  It was a heartwarming slice of Americana but maybe Elsa has the right idea about hunkering down and avoiding even looking out the window.
  • And our last ride in the car was around our own neighborhood where we saw a new neighbor’s house being built – a lovely A-frame log home atop a hill.

We are hoping Elsa will become accustomed to our outings and will some day enjoy the wind in her hair and the sights (other than a yelling man and an ATV machine) through the window.

In any case, I will remember these precious times, these spontaeous rides, these family/pack trips during a serious pandemic.  They were Bill’s idea for a change of scene that has now become a happy tradition.

How about you?

Wanna go for a ride in the car?

 

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I can never resist writing about our little dog of course.  I rescued Elsa and talked to her and stroked her on the long ride home.  And now, over a year later, she never leaves my side.  Well she does go out with Bill but jumps on me first for permission and then comes running back as if I might disappear while she is selfishly “doing her business.”

20200529_144413

Elsa has a whole array of idiosyncracies, no doubt leftover from experiences with previous owners.

  1.  Toys?  Forgeddaboutit!  She will not play with toys.  And walks away from the squeaky ones (maybe thinking they are hurt?).  Her basket of toys remains in a corner completely and utterly untouched.
  2. Chasing a ball for exercise?  Nope.  She will not chase a ball or anything we might throw.  But, she will chase a bumble bee and maybe even go in for the kill.
  3. She is food driven and has gained way too much weight since she arrived.  Elsa is on a diet now.
  4. Elsa is afraid of:  Almost everything.   Last week we were out on the driveway and we were both looking into the woods at the wind in the trees.  It was an idylic moment all right until a very large branch came crashing down into the forest (many many feet away).  Elsa ran for home and had to be coaxed out for days after.  What do you expect when the sky was really falling?
  5. No need for a leash anymore.  Elsa is afraid of:  The outside.
  6. Don’t Leave!  I fear for probable Anxiety Attacks when I finally begin to drive again and leave the house.  We are ALWAYS together now thanks to the Pandemic. I have never had such a close relationship with a dog.  Will I be housebound forever for fear of leaving the poor pup?  Will it be my separation anxiety or hers?
  7. Elsa will still flinch if you try to pat her head.  But she is getting better now – a bit more trusting.  It has been over a year, so maybe we are making progress – if only the sky would stay up there so we could all Stay Safe!  20200529_144306

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bushel Pillow

When the grandgirls were little and came for a visit I remember singing to them.  I tucked them in at night to Mr. Sandman, recorded in 1954 by the Chordettes.  And there was the popular song from the 50’s sung by Doris Day,  A Bushel and a Peck, a happy piece from my own youth.  My best friend Kit and I actually made a recording of us singing, “I love you, a bushel and a peck, You bet your purdy neck I do!” They used to have booths in the old days where for a quarter you could have your picture taken and even make a recording!  The little record we made disappeared over the years, but the song still makes me smile.

Then all of a sudden I was a Grandmother who loved to make her grandgirls laugh.  They knew and I knew Grammy really could not carry a tune so there was always a lot of giggling going on.

My grandgirls are all grown up now and the tucking in days are over.  But last year for my birthday they came bearing a special gift – a pillow!

But it is not just any old pillow.

This one is a pillow full of memories!

And it has a home in the “kids’ room” where we sang those happy songs.  I love the memories of the laughter and the love, and I am so glad my grandgirls remember too.

And Kit, if you are reading this, “Thanks for the memories”!

Published in 2016 by Okmusix

 

 

 

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