Saturday, January 31, 2009

Feed your soul.....

Appropriately called "soul food", this tasty meat loaf is the best ever. I know there are as many recipes for meat loaf as there are for pot roasts and they all claim to be the best....but some of them really make you go "yummmm". ..and those are the ones we copy down and keep in our cherished recipe books. A whole lot of years ago, my best friend and I put our meat loaf recipes together and came up with this gem. The key little "secret" is the Marjoram spice, its what makes this recipe so special. Its a delight and I sincerely hope it will become a keeper in your recipe book. All I ask is that you think fondly of me when you're sitting at your table savoring it with your family. Enjoy, enjoy!


Mix together:
2 lbs. ground chuck
1 chopped onion
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. ground Marjoram spice (You may substitute sage, if desired, but I prefer marjoram)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Place in a 9x13 baking pan. Shape in the form of a loaf, flatten on top. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and drain off excess grease.

Mix in small bowl until smooth:
1 cup catsup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce OR A-1 sauce

Spread above mixture over meat loaf, return to oven for 20 more minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and let set for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

This is enough for 4 hungry people plus leftovers for sandwiches later. I serve this with baked beans and a baked potato usually. I've also served this with garlic mashed potatoes, corn and cole slaw. Wow...I'm getting hungry now. Keep smilin'.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guardian Angels like bubble gum too.....

Here's another "Frank" story. It was a relatively quiet day, not much had happened to make it memorable in any way. I remember it was cold outside and even though the sun felt warm and inviting through the windows, snow covered the ground. I was dispatching that day. Frank was back in the report writing room, putting the finishing touches on some reports before heading back out to patrol the area one last time before his shift ended. Its funny the things you remember when thinking back on stuff. I remember that Frank loved bubble gum and he was chewing some that was aqua in color. Frank was very confident and self-assured; he sort of had that demeanor like Fonzie of Happy Days, although he didn't look like him. A black leather jacket was part of his police uniform though as he was part of the traffic detail. Years before he had been part of a team when he was with the big city and they had to be perfect in their dress. Not one wrinkle, not one hair out of place, shoes and leather shined to the max. The gum was his only "vice", if you want to call it that, although it was not against any of our rules and regulations.

All of a sudden the outside vestibule door opened and this woman ran in, hysterical. In her arms she held a little girl, who was about three years old. Neither mother or daughter had on coats or shoes. The little girl was limp in her arms and blue in color, obviously not breathing. This young mother lived about the distance of a little over one city block from our station and she had swooped up her child and ran barefoot out of her house in all that snow, through our back parking lot and in through our doors. She had been feeding her daughter and suddenly she had stopped breathing....probably something caught in her throat.

I had to hit a buzzer to unlock the inner door to allow her entry and I did that at the same time I yelled for Frank. He came immediately out of the report writing room, took one look and instantly assessed the situation and took charge. I remember he took the child from the mother and laid her on the floor checking her airway as he did so. At that time he also reached in his own mouth and I saw the aqua gum go flying. Frank performed CPR on the hallway floor and in less than a minute the child was crying and getting her color back. Frank gently lifted her off the floor and handed her to her mother, someone else grabbed a coat to cover them both.

I'll never forget the look of gratitude on that woman's face as she was handed her very much alive, scared and noisy child.....a sound that was, no doubt, music to her ears. She was driven home in a patrol car, the front door of her house still standing wide open. She later took her daughter to her doctor for a checkup and was assured that all was fine. Oh....and we never did find Frank's gum.

As a requirement of our job, we all had to take CPR training but, thankfully, I never had to use it. Frank took it all in stride....just another day in the life of a cop. You never know what's going to happen from one minute to the next and through all that commotion Frank still looked perfect and would have passed big-city inspection with no problem.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You don't tug on Superman's cape.....

Today when I read one of the blogs that I routinely visit, the post reminded me of a story.

This is about the small town police department again....but maybe 5 years after I first started there. One of the large cities in our State had done a massive lay-off of officers. We were hiring two more officers so we benefited by getting in some really experienced men who were not afraid to relocate so they could have a job. One of these men had all sorts of extra tactical training and experiences that our guys only dream about. I will call him Frank because he just sort of looked like a Frank to me. He was calm, cool and collected and the other guys looked at him as a mentor. His abilities and techniques were something to behold. He liked small town living and actually moved his family out there and never planned on leaving, even if the big city did call him back to work. He had taken the lives of 3 men in the call of duty in the big city, but Frank could not shoot an animal, no matter what.

Well, a cat showed up at our station one day. He was fully grown and had the greatest personality. Frank loved animals. He had two cats and two dogs at home already or he would have taken the stray in. As it was, we each took turns bringing in food for this cat that we ended up naming Murphy. The computer monitors were warm and that was one of his favorite places to lay and take his cat naps. He mostly came around during the afternoon and midnight shifts when the 'brass' was gone and was great company for us dispatchers. He had full access to the building and fit right in. He had been spotted by the chief on occasion and the chief had voiced his opinion that the cat needed to be kept out of the building. Murphy knew he was not liked by this man and deftly avoided him.

One night we had something big happen....what, I can't remember now, but the 'brass' had to be called in because the press was going to be there to take comments and it would be broadcast on the news. When he (the chief) came in, he nearly stepped in cat poo that was positioned right in front of the chief's closed office door. (tug, tug) The angry and red-faced chief ordered one of the dispatchers to call Animal Control immediately and have them handle the problem. We found out later from the janitor that Murphy often left his calling card right in front of that office door but the janitor always saw to it that it was cleaned up before anyone else saw it. I will say that the dispatcher (not me) did call but Murphy conveniently was nowhere to be found when they arrived so they left a cage and said for him to put Murphy in it. Days went by and the cage sat there empty. The janitor, on orders from the chief, caught Murphy one day and put him in the cage. Murphy "somehow" managed to get out by jiggling the latch. (ahem...Murphy must have been the only cat alive with thumbs) He soon was caught again and this time he was transported to the local dog pound.

We were all upset but really hoped that someone would see what a great cat Murphy was and would take him home. He only had three days to charm someone into doing that. We were calling the place two or three times a day, asking his status. Now Frank just happened to be on vacation when all this was going on and when he returned he was told and quickly said that he would take Murphy and give him a home rather than see him put down. Frank had to start his shift and time was running out. So one of the office girls and I took an extended break and headed for the dog pound to rescue Murphy. His time was ticking away, only 2 hours left.

We found the place and went in the part where the cats were and couldn't believe how many cats looked just like Murphy. We had to go from cage to cage, talking to each one of them and finally he spotted us and showered us with a chorus of meows to make South Pacific pale in comparison. They extended "professional courtesy" to us and we were able to spring him without any money changing hands. I was the one who drove and I'll tell you, you haven't lived until you've driven 20 miles in a vehicle with a cat who is loose and obviously has an immense hatred of riding in said vehicle. He was wild-eyed and jumping all over the place; I think he even sprouted an extra set of legs, complete with took me months to get all the cat hair out of my car.

We finally arrived back in many least it felt like that. Frank took Murphy home right then and that's where Murphy stayed until he died of old age TWENTY years later. So, even though Murphy had the satisfaction of pooping in front of the brass's door, his vindictiveness almost cost him dearly. Somehow I have to believe that Murphy didn't really care.....and he'd do it again if he had the chance.....he was just that kind of guy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Saving big bucks online.....

OMG, what woman doesn't get heart palpitations over the thought of saving money? I have to tell you this little story that happened to me today.

I had to make a purchase and started out "shopping" for this item online. Once I found the style and make that interested me, then I set out to find the best price. The first price I found was $183.95, plus a whopping $32. to have it shipped. Wow! Definitely too much money. I would never ever pay that kind of money in postage. Most of the time I only shop online if I have free shipping. The smart stores offer it often if you buy a certain amount and also give out promo codes for free shipping, no matter how much....those codes can be obtained here. Those promo codes have saved me bundles, not only in free shipping, but in percentages off of your purchases. Sweet!

So I googled the item and found the stores that carry it. I found it at one place for $129.00 and then at another for $111.00 with $18.00 shipping and bookmarked that in case I couldn't find anything better. One store shouted in red letters that it had free shipping but the small print said "on most items" and, of course, MY item was not one included. I gave this store a second chance, even though I considered them sneaky, because the price of the item was $99.99 and that was a substantial saving. The shipping was $19.99 and that didn't set well with me so I called them and asked them if they could do better on the shipping costs. I even pulled the "senior citizen" card on them but they didn't bite. They wouldn't give me a better deal, so I thanked them and continued on my way. You can even flip them the bird or stick out your tongue or waggle your hiney at them without fear of reprisal. Internet shopping is so great like that.

After only 3 or 4 minutes of searching I found my item at the $99.99 price at a store that actually did honor free shipping. I am so proud of myself. To their misfortune, the store I called missed out on a sale just because they didn't want to work with me on the maybe they didn't really need the sale. What amazes me is the price difference for this item. Obviously the store selling it for $99.99 is still making money, so look at the profit margin there is originally at $183.95! And how about that shipping....its not like I live in Bora Bora. Look at the difference in that....all the way from $18 to $ ship the same item. In the end you know the store I chose is making money on my $99.99 purchase and enough so they can even ship it for free and still come out ahead. But in the long run, I'm the one who benefited and something like that would make it a banner day in the life of anyone!! Keep smilin'. Hey Brad....are you reading this?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some old memories.....

I haven't talked about Big Al in a long time; not since this post anyway. I did promise more stories about him so I'll tell this one.

Our tiny little department only had 2 officers to a shift back in the days when I first started working there. Everybody pretty much knew everybody else and the regulars (constant complainers), we knew their names, addresses and phone numbers all by heart. The restaurant and diner owners, as well as bar owners were on the same first name basis. Think Mayberry.

We had a restaurant at that time that served the best fish in the well as the best deep fried onion rings. On Friday nights Howie (the owner) who was also the cook, knew that we would be making a fish run. We'd call in the order and then the patrol car would slip around to the back kitchen door of the place and Howie would hand out the fish dinners. We didn't get them free....we had to pay like everyone else, but I'm sure he gave us an extra helping since we couldn't avail ourselves to the "all you can eat" policy.

Big Al would make the fish run and come back with the fish and onion rings along with the best tartar sauce you've ever had. We would chow down at the station, getting ourselves fueled up for the Friday night rush that would start around 9 pm and continue until 4 in the morning. The usual drunken brawls and domestic disturbances always kept us busy.

Big Al went to check out a call of a suspicious vehicle that was sitting in a field not too far off the roadway. When he looked inside he was shocked to see a priest in full dress. Not only that but the good "Father" was inebriated enough that he had trouble walking. Big Al had never come across this before and didn't exactly know how to handle it. Since the vehicle was stopped, not running and off the roadway, he really couldn't be arrested for drunk driving, even though we knew he had driven there. Big Al also knew that the Chief (his boss) was Catholic so he decided to just lock up the car and bring the Father into the station. I was a bit surprised to see him walking in with a priest....not just any priest but one that looked like he stepped straight out of Boy's Town. He even had the Irish accent and gray hair. The Chief made a special trip into work and they went back into his office. After a while another priest arrived and took the good Father home. No tickets were ever issued and Big Al said that was his "Get out of hell free" card, but I suspect the Chief may pull rank on him.

Big Al's partner, who reminded us of Barney on Mayberry, had some fears. He feared all birds, for example. He especially feared chickens. They decided to play a trick on him one day and got a live chicken from somebody and tied string to its leg and put it in Barney's locker just a bit before he was due to come on duty. When Barney came in, we all held our breath as he opened his locker and the chicken came flying out. Poor Barney....he jumped about 3 feet in the air and honestly danced around the room like he was on fire, his eyes as big as saucers. The chicken was equally scared I'm sure. I'm also positive that ordeal aged Barney at least 10 years.

Yep, you had to have a sense of humor to work at this place. I also had stuff hidden in my desk drawers while there, but those stories can be for another time. Our little town has grown and its no longer like Mayberry and I miss that. People who live in those small towns may sometimes feel like the world is passing them by, but they are so very lucky to be living life at a slower pace. I'm glad I had the chance to experience it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I just had to share this.....

Summer asked if this was a normal winter for us and I have to say NO. This winter so far has been twice as bad as previous ones. Every once in a while we get a bad one and I guess this is the year for it. Let me tell you that there is nearly a foot of snow on the ground right now.

When I got home from work today I could hear my weather program going off again. I have copied the weather alert just to let you know what we are expecting. I'm very glad I don't have to worry about going into work until Friday. The wind is what worries me more than anything because if it takes out the power lines....then we have no heat (among other necessities).





Hope you like Pork, try it my way.....

This is the very first recipe my mom taught me. I remember making this when I was pretty young. It only takes an hour, so I’ve never made these in a crock pot or in the oven.

PORK CHOPS - (Yield - 4 hungry people)

You will need:

A large deep skillet with a tight fitting lid (I use what they call a “chicken fryer”, its about 10 “ diameter and deep, maybe 4 inches)

6 to 8 center cut pork chops (bone in)

one good sized (large) cooking onion, cut up

two stalks of celery, leaves and all

regular flour

salt and pepper

Approx 14 oz. Of plain water

Olive Oil or Crisco

Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

Wondra Flour (for gravy making) (optional)


In the skillet, heat enough oil or Crisco to cover the bottom of the pan.

Have onion chopped and ready

Have celery stalks washed and broken in approx 2” long pieces…leaves and all

Take the pork chops and wipe them down with a wet paper towel. Salt and pepper them and then coat both sides in flour.

Brown both sides of each pork chop in the hot oil. Then sprinkle the cut up onion and celery over the top of the meat. Then slowly add enough water to almost cover the meat in the pan. Wait until the water starts bubbling, then turn down the heat to simmer or low medium and put the lid on the pan.

Do not lift the lid or disturb the contents for one hour. The results will be pork chops so tender they will fall off the bone.

Remove the chops from the pan and also remove the celery. Use tongs if you have them because the chops are so tender they will fall apart. Use the drippings left in the pan to make gravy. I use Wondra flour only to make gravy. (no lumps). The gravy will be light colored so you may use a couple tsp. Of Kitchen Bouquet if you wish to give it a little deeper color.

Serve with mashed potatoes, your favorite veggie and a tossed salad. Yummm, good eatin’! Enjoy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Here, let me freeze that for ya.....

The weather program I have on my computer was setting off sirens this morning but I figured it was just more warnings about the SNOW.

Mom Nature, never wanting us to be bored, has sprung a new one on me. I never remember having "Freezing Fog" type of weather. I don't even remember that terminology ever being used. I thought fog occurred when temps were warmer....its 16 outside. We have about 8 inches of new snow that occurred on Saturday day and all through the this. The following is copied from the Weather Alert released by NOAA.


I was awakened this beautiful morning at 8 a.m. because my neighbor chose that time to snow blow his driveway which is next to my bedroom window. I always keep my window cracked to let fresh air in but I was getting exhaust fumes on top of the noise, so I just gave it up and got up, mumbling and grumbling all the way to the coffee pot.

I have to think of some things positive to offset this grumbling so I was thinking that I'm lucky I don't have to drive in this crap for a living; that this is my day off; that I have a warm comfy house; that I have coffee to drink and even a cheese danish to go with it; and also thankful that my gun is hidden away from the grandchildren and would be too much trouble to retrieve in order to shoot out the little engine on that snow blower, thus keeping me out of trouble. *Sigh*. I'm feelin' better already.

Stay safe out there. Tomorrow, my pork chop recipe.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oh Goodie! More snow.....

Last night coming home was a bit on the treacherous side due to MORE snow coming down. Its STILL snowing today; they say we could get 7 inches of the glorious stuff. This guy spun out and nearly lost control as he pulled out of a gas station in front of me on a slippery highway. There was absolutely NO traffic behind me and he could have waited for just 10 seconds and pulled out without nearly causing an accident but he didn't. I can't help but wonder what type of mentality a person like this has. I don't understand it and I will never understand it. And....after he got in front of me, he slowed way down and drove super slow, making me have to go around him rather than alter my speed just for him. I imagine him almost losing control may have scared him a little. I hope so.

Isn't it funny how we all get into our regular little routines and if we have to omit one or more, it seems like the rest of the day is Whether we like to admit it or not, we all are creatures of habit. I'm at the age now where I am pretty set in my ways and I don't like change. I have the pillows on the couch set up in such a way that it supports my back and neck and I can snuggle down with an afghan to watch TV or read in ultimate comfort. When my one granddaughter comes over she likes to take all the pillows and make a tower out of them. She does this very methodically, humming while she's arranging. I get a kick out of watching her and wondering what little story she is playing out in her head, but at the same time I really don't like her messing with my little setup. I haven't said anything to her and I won't in the future either. I just put them all back after she's gone home.

One time when she was here she took every single tube of lipstick I had in the bathroom and put them in a little basket, which then went into her dollhouse in the den. At the same time, she also took the hand mirror out of the bathroom. I didn't notice this until I was getting ready for work the next morning. I didn't have time to search for these items, so I got ready as much as I could, grumbling and mumbling the whole time. I use the mirror to fix the back of my hair but had to resort to using my compact mirror which just doesn't work as well. I went off to work with no lipstick on until I remembered I had one in my purse. I eventually found it and completed my 'paint job' at my desk.

I've been getting a lot of phone calls from charities lately....wanting more money. You would think that they would be smart enough to realize that January is NOT a good time to be asking the average person for money. Most people have Christmas bills catching up to them, plus property taxes are due in February. And usually the calls come in right around the time people would be eating supper. This makes me angry....I don't know about you. I've already written off two charities because of them bothering me so much for money. I give what I can, when I can and don't like to be pestered. I know....I know....there are a lot of people hurting and these charities do help them.....but at the same time they need to realize that its tough for everyone now. I always feel so effin' guilty when I say no to a charity that I give to when I have it to give.

And speaking of that. You know the mail you get from certain charities wanting money and they have either a nickel or a dime pasted inside the envelope? What's up with that? That really makes me mad because they are giving away money that could be used to help. Nickels and dimes really add up. I make it a point to never donate to charities that do something as stupid as that. They need to re-think their strategies.

And while I'm on the subject.....ever since I joined Green Dimes, my junk mail has been reduced 90% and I honestly mean that! What a great organization! Check it out and don't be afraid to use them. For a one-time small fee ($20), they will do wonders for you, not to mention they will plant 5 trees in your name.

Well friends.....I'm off like a prom dress. I have some serious reading to catch up on. Be well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Award For Me.....

Thank you, Joy from Joy of Six, for giving me this award. A little history of the award must be posted with it, so keep reading.

The Van Gogh's Ear Award was created by.... Roger of Idaho Photo; The following is an excerpt from his blog. Please link your award back to his site.

A Top Award for You
Every year I like to make up a award and hand it out to people that make a difference in the blogsphere. I like to make it a award for all to enjoy and pass out if one so wants to, I just ask if your going to give it out to link back to me as the creator of the Van Gogh's Ear Award.

Inspiration of the Van Gogh's Ear Award
You may know the story of Vincent Van Gogh a well known artist in history. Although a brilliant painter in his later years went quite insane he received the nickname of fou roux ("the redheaded madman"). The most bazaar of Vincent's behavior is when he cut off the lower part of his own left ear lobe, which he wrapped in newspaper and gave to a prostitute named Rachel in the local brothel, asking her to "keep this object carefully. After this he suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness, which led to his suicide July 29, 1890 he was 37 years old. His works of art are priceless.

The point of this award
We are all artist in are own way be it art, photography, writing, philosophy, comedy, blogging and we all go a little crazy sometimes. But if you ever feel so crazy to cut off your ear and give it to a prostitute "Seek Help"!

Always remember you're unique.
Just like everyone else.

So, I would like to pass this along to the following bloggers because I truly do enjoy reading what they have to say mainly because of their own little unique way they have of saying it. Brad and Tina, yours is for your artistic talent as well.

Big Comfy Armchair critic.....

I received some books for a gift and so I have read two of them already. Both books were not very big ones, so they were easy reads.

The first book was sort of a fun book, although she could have gone a lot more into things and made it a lot more fun. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. Yep, this woman has problems, but she's also a hoot. I did enjoy the book but it left me wanting more. Its a very short book. No real plot here, just a true story about some of Carrie's life. She's done a lot of pills and a lot of alcohol and also has some mental problems, which they treated with electric shock therapy. I thought that went out with the dark ages, but she said it helped her. I like her....she's fun, but I wouldn't want to live with her.

The second book still has me in shock. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This, too, is a true story. It put me through many emotions, mostly deep anger at her father and utter frustration at her mother. How these kids managed to survive is nothing short of a miracle. This should be the handbook of WHY SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NEVER HAVE CHILDREN.....although the kids seem like they have pretty much turned out OK, except for one that has some problems. I highly recommend it. If you work with children maybe a lot of it won't surprise you, but I still can't believe how this family managed to slip through the cracks and avoid any intervention from state authorities. I have to hand it to Jeannette. Never once does she show any bitterness toward her parents for the horrible lives they (her 3 siblings and herself) were forced to live. I'm not sure I could even speak to my parents if I would have had things like this to endure.

I'm about 100 pages into the third book. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell. I've followed all of her books in the Scarpetta series and this one looks like it will be just as good as all the others, even though its larger by about 200 pages. When I'm finished, I'll give you my opinion.

I have gone through all my year-end records, balanced my checkbook and have pretty much all of my stuff in one spot, ready for tax preparation. Last year I waited way too long and filed at the last minute, which was STUPID, not to mention stressful. This year, I'm going to get my stuff over there as soon as I get all my statements and W-2 in the mail.

We received more snow last night but thank goodness the foot plus of snow that was on the ground melted away beforehand. The catalogs are now featuring spring attire and I cannot wait even though winter has only officially been with us less than 3 weeks. Stay warm if you live in the cold and if you live where its warm......I'm comin' to visit. LOL

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Time for another recipe.....

These cold, dreary, winter days just beg for a meal like this.
Its one of the first recipes my mom taught me how to make.

This meal is very easy. You can put it in a crock-pot, or a dutch oven (my preference) to cook on the stove top or you can also put the dutch oven in your oven. I prefer the stove top method.


You will need:

1 Chuck Roast, approx 3.5 lbs. (You can also use a rump roast but its a lot more expensive)
Approx. 8 good sized white potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 small bag of baby carrots, peeled and washed (they already come that way)
1 stalk (not the whole package) of celery, leaves and all

1 envelope of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup (right from can, undiluted)
1 cup of plain water or just enough to almost cover the meat and potatoes when poured in the pan.

Enough Olive Oil to lightly coat bottom of the pan
Salt and pepper to taste

2 to 3 tsp. of Kitchen Bouquet if desired.

Put olive oil on bottom of a 6qt. dutch oven and get it hot enough to brown the meat. Salt, pepper and lightly flour the meat and brown it on all sides. When finished with that, sprinkle the onion soup mix on top of the meat, break up (big pieces you will later remove from the gravy) the washed celery (leaves and all) and put that on top of the meat also. Then put the peeled and quartered potatoes around the meat, then add the carrots in the same fashion. Put the undiluted cream of mushroom soup on top of all that, add the cup of water, wait until it starts to boil, then put the lid on the pan immediately. Turn down the heat to simmer or on some stoves, low medium.

Cook on top of the stove for approximately 4 to 4 and a half hours, UNDISTURBED. (do not lift the lid).

At the end of 4 hours, everything should be done, the meat should be tender enough to cut with a fork and it has made its own gravy! If you want a deeper brown color to the gravy, like in the picture, you may add a couple teaspoons or so of Kitchen Bouquet to the mixture after you've taken the meat, potatoes and carrots out of the pan.

To make this in the oven, just put the pan (covered) into the oven at 325 for the same length of time after you've followed all the steps above. For the crockpot, brown the meat in a pan on the stove top, transfer it to your crockpot, cut the water to 1/2 cup, then the recipe would be the same, except you would cook it on low for 8 to 9 hours or high for 6. The basic secret is to LEAVE THE LID ON. The steam is what makes everything so good and tender.

I know you'll love this. Enjoy!