Friday, May 27, 2011


I was really hesitant to take pictures and post this recipe.  It's sort of a recipe only my sisters, dad, and I could love.  Our cute mom created this recipe on her own when my darling dad told her he wished for a meat loaf without eggs or breadcrumbs (or gasp, ketchup).  So, my mom came up with this and we all loved it.  My dad didn't think the name "meat loaf" did it justice but we were not a clever nick-name sort of family so we never came up with any cute name.

A few years ago I recreated it for my sisters and they loved it.  Then I gave some to my neighbor and friend, Sheli, and she loved it.  So here is the world's easiest meat loaf:

1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 baking potato, peeled and shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

That's it--can you believe it?  Four ingredients. Well, plus salt and pepper.  I suppose you could add chopped celery and spices.  Come to think of it, my mom may have added celery.  But she only spiced it up with salt and pepper.

In a bowl mix the above ingredients, add salt and pepper, and press into a baking dish (sprayed with non-stick coating).  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Serve and eat up.  Oh, and a little squirt of ketchup wouldn't hurt.

If you can think of a better name for our dish, feel free to leave a comment!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Jackie as Editor, by Greg Lawrence There are several books out right now about JKO and her working life.  I was interested to know about her work as an editor at Viking and then Doubleday.
This book confirmed that she really did play a serious role searching for and working with new talent in different subject areas for both publishing companies.  What I was most surprised about though, was her own writing skills.  Her beautifully written thank you notes have influenced me to take a little time and write what a gift really means.  Not the typical, "Thank you for the book, I loved it." 
This is the note in response to receiving flowers:  "Your tuberoses are so beatuiful--when I walk through the living room I close my eyes and smell them and think I'm back with Proust.  I know you are my friend as I am so deeply yours--and knowing you has taught me more than you could ever know--your spirit."  Not, "Thank you for the roses, they were beautiful.  You are so thoughtful." I didn't read every bit of this book but what I did read gave me a decent understanding of the last few years of her short life.  It's hard to think that she died at age 64.
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt I am struggling to get through this book. A few favorite book bloggers greatly enjoyed this book and while I think the writing is excellent the story is not holding my interest.   Most of the characters are unlikeable, save a few.  The story takes place in England (of course) and spans from 1895 to the end of World War I.  Filled with lots of characters on various tangents, it is the story of a group of highly creative free-thinking people exploring socialism,  Fabianism, anarchy, blah, blah, blah.  Most are so self-centered it is hard to choke down (but the book cover is pretty, no?)
Typically, if I'm going to read a 600+ page book, it is non-fiction. I don't like to devote that much time to fiction. But for some reason, I haven't just chucked the whole thing.  I keep plodding along in between other reads.  Do you ever do that? (By the way, I realize the paragraphs are practically non-existent, but Blogger is not cooperating!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY, J.L. Carr - Book Review

This was a lovely read and I owe it to Thomas at My Porch.  His review compelled me to add it to my reading queue and really, you should just go read his review for yourself.   

Written in 1980 by J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country is the story of a young man, Tom Birkin, who returns to England after World War I shattered from his experience and a broken marriage.  He is hired to restore an ancient mural on the wall of a small church in a Yorkshire village.

There are so many good passages but this is an interesting exchange between Birkin and his friend, as they try to figure out something about the original artist who created the mural 500 years ago:

"And what else can be established about our departed brother?"

"Right handed, about your build--he had to use some sort of stool to get up to six feet--that's if I'm right about the parts he did on his knees or crouched on his haunches.  That's about all.  Well, maybe he'd lived in some monastery.  Only a guess, but his hands talk like monks' hands must have talked in the long silences.  Oh, one last thing--he didn't trust his apprentice.  He did the lot  except this bottom bit, this corner of hell.  Look, you can see; it's a rough job, a fill-in.  Can't understand why he handed over to his lad when his nose was at the winning-post."

Between the process of healing for this young man and the descriptions of restoring the artwork, I was captured.  I did not want this book to end.  Go and read it, you won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011


April 2011

Two years ago we planted two Anna apple trees espalier-style.  This year the branches became heavy enough with apples to require a sturdy trellis.

Jill, from Sweet Life Garden (and a best friend since 7th grade) designed the trellises and her brother, Kirk, from Custom Garden Works, built these beauties.

Jill, her husband Hal, and Kirk installed the trellises and then Jill thinned out the fruit and tied the branches to the the posts.

February 2010
This is how the trees looked a year ago February resting on spindly little tomato cages.  Click here for previous post.

April 2011
Look how the branches have thickened in just a year.

April 2011

Apples should be ready to eat in June.  Yea!

A big THANK YOU to Jill, Hal, and Kirk!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Pancho Villa: A Lifetime of Vengeance written by Ben F. Williams, Jr.

Full disclosure:  Ben Williams is the father of my good friend, Liz

Remember all those Pancho Villa caricatures from years past?  You know, the long mustached smiling sombrero-wearing guy with the bullet belt strapped across his shoulders, with maybe a guitar (or rifle) somewhere in the picture?  Not even close, Villa was a brutal thug. 

A maniacal criminal, Villa killed on a whim and seemed to fight everyone he came in contact with unless it was women and then he married them (quite a few, apparently).

The author, Ben Williams, is a fifth generation Arizonan rancher from the border who knows firsthand that Pancho Villa ain't no funny caricature.  His grandfather dealt with Villa and lived to tell a few stories.

Told in a matter-of-fact style, Williams combines Pancho Villa history with family stories. Williams describes the battles, the horrid violence attributed to Villa, the organization of Villa's army including his soldaderas or female soldiers/camp followers, and even the classic Mexican music.  Since there is no continuing plot line it is super easy  to pick up and read a chapter here and there.  For the last several years I have enjoyed reading two or three books at a time (that has to be good for the brain, right?) and this book slipped into that practice easily.

The family history adds to the tale including the following from Williams which occurred in an area near where the Battle of Agua Prieta was fought:

"One day, as a young boy, I walked the very ground of the slopes of Saddle Gap Mountain east of town where the United States artillery was positioned.  I found an unexploded artillery shell.  Placing it in the metal box on the back of my motor scooter, I hauled it over the rough and bumpy dirt road five miles back to town.  When Dad learned what I had brought home, he had a fit and called the local police.  They in turn called the military at Fort Huachuca.  A bomb squad was sent from the fort to remove the dangerous projectile, which they took to the artillery range at the military installation, where it was exploded."  Can't you just picture this young kid, completely unaware, bouncing all over the rough roads with explosives practically in his back pocket?  Thank heavens for guardian angels.

I had forgotten that Villa had actually launched an attack on the U.S.  In 1916, Villa and his "Villistas" attacked the village of Columbus, New Mexico.  18 citizens were gunned down.  Because of the attack, the U.S. went on the warpath sending General John J. Pershing on an expedition to chase down Villa.  Part of that regiment included a very young George S. Patton. They didn't succeed but Williams takes us on an adventure describing search which included the first use of military airplanes by the United States.  Bless those brave pilots who flew aircraft during this time.  The combination of wooden propellers, minimal power, and canvas-covered wings were a disaster.  Planes crashed routinely but miraculously no airmen were killed.  Good preparation for World War II, no doubt.

Back to Pancho Villa. There is a fun chapter devoted to the mysterious disappearance of Villa's skull.  Villa was killed in 1923 and after his death a mysterious purchaser paid $25,000 for his head.  Almost three years after Villa's death, his head was delivered and the money collected by Major Emil Holmdahl who admitted the actual deed of decapitation.  There are conflicting stories and rumors about who purchased the head, where it went, and where it is now.    Williams does a good job of tracking down facts and rumors and piecing it all together.   However, the mystery is not solved. But surely, someone could write a very fun fictional mystery about all this, don't you think?

After reading about Villa and his violence, I am so irritated to know that there are two, possibly three statues of him in the U.S.--one in Tucson, Arizona, one in El Paso, Texas and there might be something in New Mexico.  Absurd and shameful.

Bottom line: An easy, entertaining, and informative read.