Nov 30, 2012

Lincoln and the "Elective Franchise"

Abraham Lincoln will forever go down in history as the President who set the slaves free.  In his last speech, President Lincoln thought that if the black man is free then he should be given the right to vote as well.  He mentioned the "elective franchise" several times as I read through the speech.  Why not?  A country fighting against itself over slavery and the treatment of a race of people should be given all rights as the rest of the citizens of this country. They were entitled to those rights.  But radical confederates thought that this was too much.  First there was freedom and now the vote? John Wilkes Booth thought that if Lincoln was stopped then the black man would never get the vote. Booth was so very wrong. Abraham Lincoln is said to have had a nightmare about being assassinated, a few days before his death. He described seeing himself in a casket, with inconsolable people mourning around his dead body. This was Lincoln's destiny, his life purpose.

There is so much that I don't know about the history of my country, which is very sad to say.  History class was the most boring subject for me in school.  But when I started tracing my family history and found that my relatives fought in the Civil War (among many wars) is when I became interested. The subject was no longer those people but "my people" fought in those wars.  My family is from Tennessee and Georgia and the men who fought joined the confederate army when they enlisted except for one man.  It makes me wonder why they fought?  Was it for the money or the cause?  I sure would like to know. 

Anyway, there is a wonderful movie in the theaters now called, Lincoln.  Daniel Day-Lewis does a wonderful job as the President. The movie shows Lincoln not only as the President but a man fighting for something that was morally wrong.  If you get the chance, go see this movie.  

Nov 28, 2012

English Cottage Pie...English Comfort Food

Since there were so many leftovers from Thanksgiving, I thought that I would try something new. This dish has been also referred to as shepherds pie. But shepherds pie is traditionally made with lamb and cottage pie with ground beef. I have an English neighbor who put me straight about this.  Anyway, it is comfort food in every way and very easy to make.  I cannot believe that I haven't made it before. 


1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
1 tbs parsley, chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme or 1 tsp ground
1 tbs tomato paste
salt/pepper to taste
2 bouillon cubes
1 tbs flour
2 tbs butter
1 cup of water or milk
1- 12 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables to your liking
3 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

Place a large skillet on medium to high heat.  Once the skillet is hot, add the ground beef.  Saute until the meat is cooked through. The meat should be broken up into small pieces.  Next, add the onion, celery, spices, salt, pepper, bouillon cubes, tomato paste, and parsley.  Cook until the onion is translucent.  Once the onion is tender, add the mixed vegetables.  Saute for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. 

In a sauce pan, melt the butter.  Then add the flour. Mix well. Then add milk or water.  Stir on medium to low heat until it becomes thick.  You don't want a lot of sauce. Just enough so that the dish is moist when done. Pour the sauce over the meat/vegetable mixture and mix it well.  Set aside.

Mix 1/2 of the cheese with the mashed potatoes.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Now it is time to assemble the pie.  I used a 2 quart glass casserole dish.  Use butter, oil, or cooking oil spray and coat the inside of the dish.  Pour the meat/vegetable mixture in.  Then add the mashed potatoes on top.  Spread it around like you would frosting on a cake.  It should be about 2 inches or more thick.  Sprinkle on top with the remaining cheese.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy! 

Nov 21, 2012

Daring Red Wallpaper and the Office

Those dreaded cream colored walls at every working establishment have always bothered me.  I know that beige fits into every decor and will not clash with any other color.  But, honestly,life is all about color.  Red is the color of boldness.  It draws attention to itself like no other color.  Back in the early 90's, I worked at a moving company.  We sat in little cubettes, which is what I called them, they were half of a cubical.  All of the workers were lined up like sardines in a can.  Each desk a copy of the next.  A friend and I decided to put wall paper up in our work station with a stapler. (she now works with me at my current job and reminded me about this) It was red with small white dots. It looked beautiful!  We neatly arranged our papers on top with that lovely red background.  People would walk past our area, point and then laugh.  You know what? I didn't care.  I was trying to be an individual.  I wanted to break away from the blandness of everything and bring color into my world of work. 

When I bought my little house, the living room was a dull cream color with taupe carpet.  It was like walking into coldness. There was no warmth or pizazz. The first thing I did was paint the living room red.  It is still red to this day. I am very happy with it.  Have you ever done anything knowing that others might make fun of you? 

Nov 19, 2012

Moroccan Inspired Chicken with Chickpeas, Raisins and Couscous

This is another version of sweet and savory pairing together.  I found this recipe on the Grannies on Safari web site.  I added a few more spices and I like the results. It is a light meal and is good for you.  I think it tastes better the next day too.  


3-chicken legs\thighs (6 pieces), cut at the joint and skinned or 1 lb boneless thighs
3 tbs olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt/pepper to taste
1 onion chopped
3 tbs cilantro chopped
1 ½ tsp cumin
A pinch of saffron
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp paprika, optional
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped or 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 ½ cups chicken broth or 2 bouillon cubes and 2 ½ cups of water
2 cups of couscous
1 tbs ghee, optional
1 medium zucchini, shredded
3 tbs raisins
1 can (15 ½ ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbs honey, optional

In a large Dutch oven add the oil.  When hot add the onion.  Cook until the onion is translucent. Next, add the cilantro and the spices. Simmer for a couple of minutes. I  like to use Knorr cubes and crumble the cube and add along with the spices. Next, add the chicken.  Brown the chicken on both sides. Then add the water or chicken stock ( if you choose to not use bouillon cubes), garbanzo beans, zucchini, and raisins.  Cook on medium heat until the chicken is tender.  Final step is to add the couscous. Remove pot from heat.  If you have a lot of liquid in the pot use more couscous, use 1 cup at a time until you get the consistency that you want. Pour the couscous in the pot and stir. Cover for about 5-10 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Fluff the couscous mixture and serve. Enjoy!

Cooks Note:  I added some honey to give the dish a sweet and savory taste, which I have grown to like since cooking Moroccan food.  Also, you can use salsa instead of the chopped tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes.  We have a place here in town that makes it fresh everyday.  I used about ½ pint, but you can use as much as you want.

Nov 17, 2012

Herb's Got Wood...Fences and Such

As a friend and I were coming back from our shopping trip, my eye caught an elaborately decorated yard.  We have all seen those yards where there are a lot of things displayed.  Sometimes it is tacky and sometimes it is just wonderful. As we passed by the property, I lamented the fact that I didn't have my camera. A few hours later I returned and luckily the owner was there.  I told him how much I admired what he was doing and asked to take pictures.  Herb Niblick is an artist in a true sense.  He graciously showed me his creation.  As we walked through his various outdoor rooms, I admired the fact that this man loved his yard and what he was doing.  I couldn't help but feel the same way he does. 

Herb chops wood and sells it.   

He builds walls until the wood sells.

Everywhere that I looked there was wood and decorations.

His property roared with creativity

it was also his home

Each room with a view of another.

He set up an ancient marker letting the world know that
He, Too, is Here.

Nov 16, 2012

Heartache and Stone Walls are a Part of Life

It's not always easy to be living in this world of pain
You're gonna be crashing into stone walls again and again
It's alright, it's alright, though you feel your heart break
You're only human, you're gonna have to deal with heartache

Billy Joel

Nov 12, 2012

New "Find" at the Goodwill

I am a simple woman.  It is small things that bring me pleasure.  Whenever I have time I like to go to the Goodwill (we call it GW) and look through the items they may have.  Who knows, maybe I can find something I cannot live without.  This past week I found a beautiful vase.  It was only $15.00.  What do you think? It is a very heavy glass and not so large but sleek and classy. I like it very much.

I think that it will look good with Christmas ornaments in it.

Nov 9, 2012

Daoud Nassar: A man refusing to be an enemy

Picture by Johannes Zang
 He is not a tall man. He sat quietly in the front of the room waiting for his turn to speak.  From the moment he opened his mouth, I knew that he was humble.  A man from a place very different than my home. A man with struggles greater than I have ever had to face.  Trying to find ways to hold on to the precious inheritance which was handed down to him.  There are those who are trying to force him and his family to leave a place that he holds dear. Home.  Land that was passed down from his grandfather to his father, and now he is the holder of the deed. An Arab Palestinian, and a Christian in a land surrounded by Jews and Muslims.  Opposition from nearly every side.  Walls are being built and the roads blocked. Years wasted in court trying to prove his legal claim to the land for which he holds dear.  Yet he refuses to hate, he will not give in or give up, violence is not an option. What can he do? Three things the man must possess.  Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest is love.  The man is Daoud Nassar. He is involved with Tent of Nations.  It is a non profit organization that promotes building bridges to bring communities together. Click here for a link to a video called, Love your enemies. Daoud is a man with a big heart and even greater faith.

Nov 7, 2012

Chalybeate Water: Loaded with Minerals?

My picture of Traverse City, MI
While reading about my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather James Campbell of Walker County, Georgia, I discovered that he moved to foot of Lookout Mountain because he was told that chalybeate water would be good for his health.  This particular water is loaded with iron, which is supposed to be good for your health. Throughout history people have had periods of being health conscious.  Early in the 17th century, chalybeate water was said to have health-giving properties and was widely promoted as such, from Italy to the United States.  Many people fell for this hype. Yet they kept coming until it went out of "style" for drinking the water or has it?

Chalybeate Spring by Tommy Patto
I went to Ringgold, Georgia to visit some relatives and discovered mountain spring water that was crystal clear and tasted wonderful. The place was called Ellis Springs. While filling my jug, an elderly couple drove up and parked beside me. They brought gallon milk jugs and filled them with the water.  The old man told me that this was the best water around. You know, I believe him.  I haven't tasted water this good since I was there.

Picture by Paul Stanfield of Georgia

I like water and lots of it.  Drinking it is a healthy thing, whether there are minerals or not. 

Nov 4, 2012

An English House in the Sea

Photo by codeshop
The sea is an essential part of life for Newquay in Cornwall. How would you like to live in a house on top of a small rock where the only way to access the property is via a small bridge?

Picture from BNPS
This house is located on Towan beach Newquay, Cornwall, England. It would be fun to spend a week away from everything.  Waking up each morning with the sound of the waves beating against the rocks. While the gulls are forraging for food on the beach. Imagine the peace and quiet you would experience.

Picture by Lynne Kovan

The house was built in 1910 and was once used as tea rooms. It was purchased by Lord and Lady Long (he was a former Tory whip in the house of lords) who converted it into living accommodation. It is now a Bed & Breakfast.  I am willing to go for a visit.

Nov 2, 2012

Spicy Indian Cabbage

I have grown to appreciate Indian food. The aroma of the spices fill the house and I love it. I am really a wimp when it comes to hot food.  Not long ago, I went to a Thai restaurant and ordered Pad Thai. I really like this dish. When I got home and took a couple of bites I felt like my mouth was on fire. I couldn't even taste the food because of the heat.  After drinking a glass of water and then some milk, I threw the food out. What is the point of eating if the food is so hot that your lips and mouth burn?  So, whenever I make a dish, I tone down the hot spices a little. It is the flavor not the heat that I look for when cooking.

Cabbage is one of my favorite things to eat.  Growing up we would fry it with bacon grease, salt, pepper, and a little water.  That is the southern way of making it.  I have since stopped cooking with bacon grease, well, not a lot.  This Indian recipe is very good.  It has carrots, onions, cumin and ghee or butter.  Stir fry for a few minutes and you have a wonderful accompaniment to your meal.  I served mine with kefta meatballs and Pulao.  The recipe is adapted from the book, The Complete Book of Indian Cooking by Shehzad Husain and Rafi Fernandez.


4 TBS butter or margarine
1 tsp of cumin powder or 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-8 dried chillies or to taste
1 small onion, sliced
4 cups cabbage, shredded
1-2 medium carrots, grated
salt/pepper to taste
2 TBS lemon juice (or lime if you like it better)

In a medium pot, over medium to high heat, add butter or margarine.  Add the sliced onion and saute until translucent. Next, add the chillies and cumin and saute for an additional minute or two.  Then add the cabbage and the carrots.  Saute until the carrots and cabbage are soft.  Last of all, add the lemon juice, and salt/pepper to taste.  Enjoy!