Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Working outside the Valley...

One of my student teachers that I am supervising this quarter teaches a little over 3 hours North from the Valley in a part of the state that I hadn't visited until this placement. When a location is that distance from your home, the University pays for an overnight which I definitely opt to do since I am not a big driver. The town's only listed hotel had poor reviews so I opted to stay in the next closest town that has more than one hotel choice, Rice Lake.

Anyhow, like the name implies this is a Lake region. In 1864 a company Knapp, Stout and Company  built a storage dam on what was an Indian village and rice bed. The first permanent settler to move his family here in 1871 had the first store, hotel and blacksmith shop making this the settlement for the company's northern operations until the area's white pines were exhausted.

Rice Lake has about 8500 inhabitants and at this time of the year  I noticed has increased with all the road construction crews finishing up projects before winter gets here. I also met some Fishermen who are mainly catching Muskies since it's fall.

My visitation actually takes place in the town of Cumberland, within the beautiful northwoods of Northwest Wisconsin.You may have seen some of those 'fall' pics from my last visit but if you didn't here's the link.
Unspoiled open spaces, clean lakes and streams, parks and forests abound. It is called the Island City as the central part of the community is located on an island. Dang I missed the Rutabaga Festival.

Upon entering town sits the main industry, a canning factory.  Last visit trucks were dumping green beans onto conveyers. This answered my question of what industry would bring migrant workers to the area besides agricultural work.

This student teacher intern has limited English speakers in the Spanish classes she is teaching. The idea is that this class resolves a placement issue to provide these students a class where they can  work on their English when their classmates are doing their Spanish.
Reality is that many times although the language at home may be Spanish, they may have had limited education in their native countries if at all and still need to learn to read and write their family's native tongue. And yes this does create more work for the teacher but if bilingualism is the end result, this is a necessary part of the educational process.

Cumberland being larger than Chaseburg actually has a  main street  with shops for its inhabitants and tourists from the Cities. Shopping possibilities surprised me as artists have also made this area their homes. I enjoyed perusing a gallery and dress shops during my lunch break last visit and am looking forward to some seasonal sale
possibilities this time.  Inside the world market is a coffee shop amidst the general store and connected gallery.

The library is housed in this terrific building and if it's too cold to  spend free time discovering Main Street finds, I will be housed here inbetween conference times. I don't think I'll have a problem hanging out.

Even though I had to leave the End of the Rainbow Valley for this job, it is reassuring to know that there are like minded people no matter where you go in this state... 

 I just hope that they remember to VOTE. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Walk, Don't Run

Taking walks didn’t use to be considered an extracurricular activity in my daily life but now that I live in the End of the Rainbow Valley I have a couple of guys who love to take walks with me. Both Natureman and Romeo have always had walks in their daily regimens.

Romeo, our ever companiable 'perro' always  leads the way as he needs to be out in front a couple hundred yards to make him the alpha male. 

 Romeo heads the pack until a squirre/rabbitl crosses his path and then he's off and running.
Even though our driveway is about a mile long we often cut off the road and journey up one of the logging roads. This past weekend we went up to our neighbor's corn field.  He has already hayed and there are still corn stalks awaiting to become silage. The rustling of the stalks is a very distinctive sound and the wind was working a number on them... No telling what's hiding amidst them. Romeo will disappear into them and then all of a sudden reappear out of nowhere. Various animals have been helping themselves to left over cobs and partially eaten cobs are strewn along our path.

If you look northward  you can spy a house at the very tip of the hill on the left hand side. I still don't know how the owners get up there but surely there must be a road. LOL.

On many a walk we have seen various types of critters. The birds are plentiful as they swoop down/ fly overhead  ... hawks, eagles, vultures, owls, geese,  cranes and  ducks besides all the other bird species. We have shared the road with pheasants,  a flock of adult and adolescent turkeys. They really gave Romeo a nice run. And at this time of the year flocks of black birds roost in the trees. Their noise is deafening...

Here's proof of the deer that take refuge in the woods...  besides hiding/ running from hunters. They know it's bow hunting season. I used to say Run, Bambi, Run... but now I realize that they can stay really still laying in the tall grasses for hours. Sometimes Romeo doesn't even bother with them.

Well it was a refreshing weekend walk and probably one of the last really nice light jacket days since 
                              Father Winter is blowing into the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Monday, October 29, 2012

What's In a Name?

I had stopped at a friend's garage sale mainly to visit although I have to admit, I love to peruse for possible new treasures. Actually the only treasure to return to End of the Rainbow Valley wasn't sitting in their garage as our friends had thought of us (actually Natureman since it was his birthday) and had a special gift from Holland. And this is what returned to the Valley:

From my German knowledge and its proximity to Dutch, I could translate the tin's Dutch label Jodenkoechen as "Jewish Cookies." But what in the heck is a Jewish cookie? I was anxious to open the tin and see what they looked like. What I found was a flat 10cm brown sugar cookie.

My curiosity was piqued so of course I 'Asked Jeeves' and 'Googled' Jodenkoecken AND after eating them, not only learned this cookie's history but also was inspired to try making them.

There are actually 4 different stories. The following are all 'lifted' from the internet with some paraphrasing.

Most popular story:

The tin's label actually is factual as the original jodenkoek was made by a baker with the surname Davelaar, in Alkmaar, Netherlands in 1883. Albert Gover began a little bakery in Alkmaar and Dirk Davelaar took over the store in 1924 rebuilding it and placing a lot of ads in the local newspaper. The popularity of his specialty, de jodenkoeken, grew.

(BTW Lotus Bakeries and O'Lacy also use this same name for similar products.
Some producers have changed the name of the product to jodenkoek, after the new orthography of the Netherlands from 1996.)

▪Some say the name has nothing to do with Jews, but that a baker with surname ‘de Joode’ baked the cookies.

▪Jodenkoeken are big but very flat, making it a cheap product to produce. A lot of cheap products got the addition Jewish in former times. A lot of Jews were poor, making it likely that they bought cheaper things because it was necessary. Interesting interpretation. Hmmm.

▪The last story associates the cookie with unleavened bread, Matzoh, baked by the Jews of ancient Egypt at the time of the exodus. The connection is made by the physical properties that both the cookies and unleavened bread have in common: they are both flat, crunchy and have a very low moisture content, resulting in a long shelf-life.

Some thought the name discriminating and the manufacturer thought about changing it but in the end, he didn’t. Jodenkoeken are exported to England and China, but because of the difficulty of the name explanation, the export product is called Dutch Cookies. I loved this tidbit!

At first the cookies were sold in iron tin-plates with a yellow wrapper. Now you can also buy them in plastic tin-plates with a purple wrapper. Because the cookies are in a tin-plate, they are packed air-tight so they remain fresh and crunchy.

So do you want to try making them? The following is a simple recipe and they are great with a nice cup of tea/ coffee and not difficult to make. Natureman said he liked them.

This recipe is from the Vegweb from Quoar who accidentally made these...and realized she had replicated the famous Jodenkoeken, Dutch sugar cookie. It's close.

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

You will need:

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
Brown sugar for sprinkling

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Mix dry ingredients , then add wet ingredients until a sticky dough. (It will be very sticky).
3)Scoop dough one tablespoon at a time onto cookie sheet
4) Sprinkle the cookies with brown sugar.

Here they are oven ready. I have no clue how you would do the scalloped edge with the dough so tacky. I will experiment with that next time and there will be a next time.

5) Bake 15 minutes, checking on them every three minutes until dark brown.
6) Take them out of the oven
7) Let harden about 10 minutes.

While the cookies are cooling and hardening. Boil your water for that cup of tea
AND ESS. Eat as my Grandmother used to say...

Friday, October 26, 2012

¿Hablas español?

Last night I attended a panel of area Latinos whose participation was to inform listeners what it was like to be a non- white person in our basically 'monolithic' area.

We all have a story... Today I want to just share a little of Lisa's story. Lisa is 4th generation U.S. citizen, an articulate middle aged woman married to a man who is career military. She has lived in Arizona and Texas and now three years in Wisconsin in a town about 45 minutes from La Crosse.

Lisa and her husband were born with a 'tan' as she called it, a skin color darker than this area's population. Lisa said she has experienced a 50's mentality since she moved here. People ask her all the time where she is from assuming from her skin color that she is an immigrant. Lisa and her husband didn't raise their children with Spanish being spoken in the home but it was assumed that their children spoke Spanish.

Yet there are many Latinos in Lisa's community that are Latino children of agricultural and plant workers who do have limited English abilities so Lisa has become an advocate and volunteer of this minority in a town of 10,000 where almost 7% are Latino.

Can you imagine a school district with such a percentage of limited English speakers did not offer English as a Second Language (ESL) in their summer school program? Due to Lisa's advocacy the Latino Community Center (LUGAR) sponsored by the Episcopalian Diocese of Eau Claire in her town offered ESL last summer with 60 children participating. Half of the students were in k-3. Students continued their English studies through the summer and weren't farther behind when the new school year began. The hopes are to also offer a Spanish class so that Reading and Writing can also be taught ensuring true 'bilingualism.' All the teachers were volunteers.

The school district now 'gets it' and realizes the need to offer ESL in their summer program. It would seem a no brainer. Thank you Lisa for being an advocate.

We as a country need to 'get it.' It doesn't matter who is legal/ illegal. These children are here. Their parents are working here for companies who make lots and lots of money and whose goods we all enjoy. Is it the church's responsibility to take care of them / is it ours?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

MIddle Eastern Comes to End of the Rainbow Valley

I just love being able to use up vowels and the letter 'q' using the word 'quinoa 'in playing Scrabble AND I also am thrilled when I find a new recipe to use it in cooking.

One of my favorite bloggers, the Shiksa in the Kitchen is going to be using this dish in her new book and asked her followers to try it out. I think that if you try it, you will agree with us that it is a winner. In addition to great recipes you also get some history and here are Tori's words for this recipe.

"Mujadara is a Middle Eastern dish made with rice and lentils. The first recorded recipe for mujadara appears in Kitab al-Tabikh (Book of Dishes), a cookbook published in Iraq in 1226. It is unclear whether the Persians, who brought rice to western and central Asia from India, created the dish or borrowed it from India. While it is traditionally made with basmati rice and brown lentils, different countries have their own unique versions – for example, Bukharans are known to use mung beans in lieu of lentils and Iraqis like to top theirs with fried eggs. Some regions use chickpeas instead of lentils. Nearly all versions incorporate soft caramelized onions, as their sweet flavor really enhances the dish."

Tori substitutes quinoa for the rice. Try it, you'll like it.

Apparently I cannot print the recipe as it is copyrighted even though I paraphrased it and gave credit. Oh well below is the link...

It takes under an hour to prepare.


Quinoa added to the cooked lentils before cooking entire mixture

I served topped with caramelized onions, sour cream and chopped cilantro.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bear/Bare Facts ...

When you live a mile off of a main road, you can hear company approaching, assuming they arrive in a car...

Yesterday a.m. I was getting out of the shower when Natureman came to tell me that he was heading out to do chores. I kissed him bye since I would be heading out as soon as I dressed. Still dripping wet, I was working on my hair when there was a loud banging noise... there it was again, like two fists banging on the patio doors in the front of the house. Oh my, something must be really urgent. There was the banging again... either Natureman's hands were full and he needed me to open the door/ I had to hurry out to see something.

As I raced toward the front of the house with my hands outstretched with the gesture of like 'what?' my towel dropped when I reached the doorway before entering the great room to view across the room at the front glass doors a body the height of Natureman with his face pressed against the window, hands cupped above his eyes, peering in. It took 30 seconds to realize that this figure had a long white beard and was wearing a straw hat. EXPLETIVE... I am butt naked with an Amish guy staring into the house.

I let out a shriek, back step and scream for Natureman. Scurrying to the closet to grab something to throw something on, thinking all the while - Where's IS Natureman? He must be in the garage still putting on his boots and missed the arrival of the Amish fellow who has come to work on the barn.

To say I was embarrassed would be an understatement. It could be said that the Amish fellow got an eyeful to say the least.

Well I hurriedly get dressed, planned a quick escape to avoid the guys as they're down in the barn. Now, if I can just sneak out without seeing them. As I am backing out of the garage up come the guys from the barn. OH doo doo, now I have to wave and acknowledge their presence. AND Natureman has no clue what has transpired. He would have to wait for the story. I nonchalantly waved and drove on.

So do you think our Amish friend told his friends?
This is what we awoke to this morning.

and you thought my life was dull here in the End of the Rainbow Valley ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not Fondue, Fondant

Some things look a lot easier than they really are but I bet you already knew that. Thanks to youtube I was able to watch what looked like a relatively easy way to create a new type of frosting that I thought would be fun to try. Besides the fact that I was skipping an art class of painting of all things'frozen grapes', I thought that grandchild Kylie's 3rd birthday cake would be my 'art' project for the week.

Most importantly always make the cake base ahead of time and put it in the freezer as it proves to be easier to frost. Trust me it lessens those crumbs and gives you a much smoother texture no matter which frosting recipe you use.

Let me say that this really was a 'big' lesson. There's a reason that those beautiful cakes cost so much. Read on... This icing is called FONDANT and I can describe it as being like play-do with about the same consistency, you roll it out and then drape it over your cake. You can cut out shapes and create layers. Here's a beautiful example from our friends at Pinterest. Who knows maybe Kylie will be 21 by the time I finished.
I can only aspire to do something so beautiful...

So here's the best Butter Cream Fondant recipe I found. Easy to find ingredients and finger licking good.

1/2 c butter
2/3 c sweetened condensed milk
6 c confectioner's powdered sugar
dash vanilla

OK easy enough... First I let the butter soften a bit and then added the other ingredients adding the powdered sugar a cup at a time, setting the speed on 'icings'. Well you would have thought that I was trying on my Casper the Ghost costume for Halloween as everything was covered in a white film including a 5 foot radius in the kitchen. It kind of reminded of being in a house remodeling project where that fine white sanded dust film is everywhere. And the beaters were spitting out creamed sugar butter clumps every once in a while too. I'll probably be finding frosting flicks for a while.

Anyhow, after mixing all the ingredients into a dough ball, the recipe suggested working with the dough kneading it pliable. Since the finger injury actually kneading is one of my prescribed therapies but I am still really weak with the right hand so I thought how 'bout trying the food processor using the dough blade? There was one little problem and that is that it is alot of mass. I discovered the Cuisinart was working overtime and pretty warm. So I split the dough and did half at a time. Shockeroo it really became play-do like.

(If it's too tacky just add a bit more confectioner's sugar. If too dry, a drop or two of water at a time)

Then divide up the frosting to add desired coloring.

I used latex gloves in order to not get the dye get all over my hands, allowing me to work it into the dough. I then stored it in my trusty tupperware until needed.

I had no clue how much I would need and hate the feeling of being short... (ok no short jokes) had me making too much of course. Hence some left over.

The next step is to ensure that the fondant does not slide off of the cake. So I took some leftover can frosting heated it 30 seconds in the microwave and just poured it atop the desired cake piece so it acted like glue. Stick the cake back in the freezer for 10 minutes.

While it is setting, sprinkle powdered sugar on the rolling surface.... Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough piece to a thin sheet. Then drape over the frosted cake. Use a pizza cutter to trim the piece once atop the cake. It worked like a charm.

And VOILA it was done. Well not exactly just like that. I had to cover the project with saran wrap and then foil and keep it in the freezer as I had to take breaks.
Dora was a bit rough but I had finished my week's art project in time for the party.
Dora and the alphabet cupcakes were polished off.

Dora made one little 3 year old girl named Kylie so mesmerized that she didn't want to leave Dora and rejoin the party. She made my day when she said 'AMAZING.' Clean up awaited me in the End of the Rainbow Valley but that's OK.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Another one bites the dust...

We lost a chicken and it was due to the fact that one of the girls decided to 'fly the coop.' When we are done harvesting, the girls have full run of the garden but you know how the grass is always greener on the other side? Well, someone decided to spread her wings. Those teenagers are always thinking they know everything... she did not make it back home. SO now we are down to 10 girls.

This called for a covert operation headed by Natureman with his sidekick me as his assistant. Once it was dark and the girls were roosting for the night we headed to the coop. Natureman with clippers in hand and me with the flash light. My job was to keep the light on the chicken as he did what he needed to do... The only problem was that the clippers were basically useless. Nothing like adding a little anxiety to the procedure. SO back to the house we went to grab something that would work better on feathers and plain old kitchen scissors were chosen as the instrument.

The girls didn't fuss at all as Natureman would extend a wing and just cut off the tips of some feathers. It wasn't easy being the light source with my eyes closed at first but since there was no squawking, I opened my eyes and realized it was more painful to me than them. It was like getting a haircut. Whew.

Hopefully this will deter future adventure desires for the others right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley//as Kylie may find out that you may spread your wings and not fly if they are clipped.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Snow Birds

One realizes winter's coming when friends like the birds start heading South. You may know these people known as 'Snow Birds' and that's because they are leaving before that white stuff starts falling like the temps up here in the North. We probably won't see them until after the thaw if not later.

The migration actually started earlier this year as friend Cheryl was itching to go way before fall even arrived and hey it wasn't that cold yet but she had to go to bootcamp to learn about her new lifestyle and wheels Seemore, the new motor home. Cheryl now is in Texas.

Then Thursday was Sandy's farewell luncheon before she heads to Florida. That's Sandy on the far right. We're really not that happy that she's leaving but glad for the last opportunity to get together.

Next it'll be Sara who'll head the other direction to Arizona. Remember now it's a tradition for us to eat at the Indian buffet before you depart!

I'll know winter is officially over when these buddies start returning to the area.
Until then, we will be here holding down the fort right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley. Enjoy that warmer weather for us!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Morning After...

This is how yesterday morning looked here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

I guess somebody was feeling pretty good the morning after... and I'm not talking about Bristol Palin getting kicked off Dancing with the Stars either.

The big squawking in the garden this morning was all about a misogamist... There is a reason we only have hens.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fred and Ginger , well at least Ginger...

As you read yesterday, we here in the End of the Rainbow Valley have an abundance of carrots to use... So with cooler temps blowing in, soup will be on the menu and this particular soup is certainly a good one. I think you will like it too.

Ginger Carrot Soup


2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper
Sour cream
Parsley sprigs, for garnish


In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions, stirring often, until onions are limp.
Add broth, carrots, and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat.
Simmer until tender.

Remove from heat. Let mixture cool about 5 minutes.
Transfer cooled mixture to blender. You'll want to blend in batches.
Only fill the blender half way.
Cover the blender and then hold a kitchen towel over the top of the blender since the hot mixture can spurt out. Believe me I have found out the hard way!
Pulse blender to start and then puree until smooth.
Return to pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot.
For a smoother flavor bring soup to a boil, add salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with dollop of sour cream and parsley sprigs.

AND you may just want to also grab a chunk of a good European hard crusted bread to accompany your Harvest soup...


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What's up Doc?

As I was canvassing in Chaseburg late this am, Natureman was up on the Ridge picking up some maple syrup from the Amish and also some saw dust from their saw mill.

You may ask why we need sawdust. Any guesses?

Well it has to do with storage... IN fact sawdust is a great way to store our last harvest. If you had Superman x-ray vision, you could see amidst the sawdust in this washtub are our root crops which will keep all winter in the garage.

While I was cleaning out leaves from the gutters and Romeo, our dog was chasing a Rhode Island Red (hen) who had flown the coop, Natureman was busy digging up carrots and rutabagas. BTW Henrietta did make it back to the coop in the nick of time.

Inside that wash tub are about 15 lbs of carrots (Thank goodness they all aren't this huge!) and about 2 dozen rutabagas. I have a feeling that our eyesight should be improving. WELL this bounty makes up for the year when the Sears guys came to take away the old frig and Natureman forgot about the carrots that were still in it. :)

ANYHOW, if you have any 'favorite' root veggie recipes, do send them this way to the End of the Rainbow Valley as I have a strong feeling that I am going to be needing them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Promulgation of fear and hatred...

I have lost track of the hours I have volunteered in registering voters/trying to educate others about those running for office/ urging voters to exercise their right to vote but also to volunteer to help elect the candidates who do not run on agendas of exclusion basing their arguments on fear and hatred. I am worried about the direction our country is heading and whose money is buying that direction.

This weekend a friend posted this letter from her brother which I would also like to share with you. May it speak to you of some of the issues to which this campaign is promulgating hate...

"I am 69 years old. I am a professor emeritus from Sacramento State University. I am gay. I have pancreatic cancer. I am changing my voter registration from Republican to Independent. Let me tell you why.

First of all, since my cancer diagnosis in April, 2012, I've been treated by an incredibly gifted team of cancer surgeons; anesthesiologists; oncologists; radiologists; pathologists; endocrinologists; nurses; pharmacists; laboratory technicians; social workers; and nutritionists. This incredibly knowledgeable group has provided me with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and a wide assortment of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The cost of these services to date totals well over $400,000 (perhaps a partial explanation of the massive construction projects currently underway at hospitals in our region). Because of Medicare and PERS, I have not had to pay out of pocket for any of medical charges. My condition, while life-threatening, does not fall into the category of the senior abuse irrationally proclaimed by so many Republican candidates for office. I am getting better every day and progressing toward recovery because of the extraordinary medical care and the compassionate laws of the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. Given my experience, senior citizens have little cause to be anxious about their inevitable future healthcare costs.

Secondly, the Republicans have a disgraceful record in extending constitutional rights to gay American citizens. I am an American citizen legally married during the "California Window" in 2008 to Phan, my loving spouse and a citizen of Thailand. We have been together for over twenty years, fifteen of which have been spent in the United States during which Phan has earned three college degrees. We now live in fear that Phan will be deported at a time I need him most for his love and support during the terrible cancer battle. You see, since we are a bi-national same-sex couple, our marriage is not recognized by the United States government due to the Defense of Marriage Act (the so-called DOMA), a law precluding us from the immigration rights and responsibilities extended to American heterosexuals (so much for leaving the issue to States' rights). Phan is not allowed to work and we have been cash hemorrhaging with legal expenses trying to establish a more permanent relationship in the United States, a goal easily accomplished by married bi-national heterosexuals. Furthermore, our status excludes us from over 1,000 federal regulations and benefits. For example, when I die, Phan will receive no social security benefits, a program into which I have paid for over fifty years. The Republicans support a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The Republican leadership has engaged in frightening seniors about health care and has cavalierly disregarded gay American citizens. For these two reasons, I am cancelling my Republican voter registration. I will maintain my fiscal conservative views, but I will no longer participate in the politics of hate and fear. In a very real sense, I am not abandoning the Republican party; the Republicans have abandoned me.

May the future of our great country be as great as its past, and may all of us survive despite the current political opportunism of negativism, fear, and hate."

AND may I add words uttered by President Obama the day he came to Madison and spoke to a group of about 40,000: Don't BOO, VOTE.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Combatting HATE...

Earlier this week I posted an entry regarding the inequality that Brown vs the Board of Education sought to eradicate. What I didn't mention was the presence of the Westboro Baptist Church which has made Topeka its home since the 50's. You may remember this name from their disruptive presence at soldiers' funerals to protest gays in the military and they even travel to other states. You'd think they would allow families to bury their dead in peace.

Their congregants have an ideology of hate and vilification towards gays, Jews and women with a regular protest schedule with hateful signs.

Every Friday night they stand with their children outside Temple Shalom's gates with their signs and we were witness to this terrible act and the fact that Jewish youngsters going to celebrate the Sabbath have to pass by this gauntlet of hate every week.

The Temple has decided to combat these demonstrations by collecting donations from their congregants and giving those monies to the very organizations that the Westboro Church has targeted.

AND if you happen to be in Kansas this month, the protesters will be at Jerry Seinfeld, Justin Bieber and Madonna performances in addition to various churches that have women clergy.

So Hate is still alive and kicking unfortunately in the Heartland... Here are some of Westboro's statistics...

6621 - soldiers that God has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
49,018 - pickets conducted by WBC.
879 - cities that have been visited by WBC.
1111 - weeks that WBC has held daily pickets on the mean streets of doomed america.
144 - people whom God has cast into hell since you loaded this page.
218,400,000+ - gallons of oil that God poured in the Gulf.
$16.17 trillion+ - national debt of doomed america.
8 - people that God saved in the flood.
16,000,000,000 - people that God killed in the flood.
144,000 - Jews that will be saved in these last days.
0 - nanoseconds of sleep that WBC members lose over your opinions and feeeeellllliiiiiings.

All I can say is that we just need to combat hatred wherever it exists.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A City Oasis...

As if we haven’t been gone enough, we were back on the road again as Natureman’s youngest brother whose home is NYC was back for a visit in the Cities in time for his birthday. I offered to drive up as I have been the passenger for all these past trips. Gratefully, Natureman took over driving once we got to the Cities as he was a taxi driver there many moons ago.

Lunch was in south central Minneapolis at a strip mall with Hallal meat, a Mexican grocery store, a Subway, the Cairo Mediterranean,Dragon Boat and the Steak ‘n Gyros restaurants to show you just how diverse this neighborhood has become. A far cry from La Crosse… I think that we were there to get some good Mexican food but instead what I really got was an eye and ear full. The clientele were the ‘invisible’ people. People who have a difficult time making it. The Haldol shuffle was pointed out to me.(the effects of major tranquilizer to control symptoms of schizophrenia.) Lunchtime was quite an education. An individual came in where we were eating with urgency to the counter and wanted to pawn off some 'computer' stuff for which he swore he had the receipt. He was all jumpy and you could tell that he needed the money fast. He kept reaching in his sweat pant pockets in and out and I just prayed that he didn't have a gun. My life really seemed super sheltered at this point. BUT maybe most of ours are…

Anyhow after lunch the brothers continued reminiscing about their excursions in younger years as we drove around the Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and where their Dad used to go for spring water and their Mom loved to go fishing.

Then there we were in the middle of the Cities at a beautiful oasis of woodland, the Eloise Butler Nature area with trails. I will mention that the little red plaque which I was going to photoshop out read there was a camera on the premises. I left it because it is today's reality that we can't even go to a park and escape vandalism/ whatever. The times they have a changed.

Eloise Butler was a teacher for many years who decided it was necessary to save this property for future school children to be able to visit the out of doors as their classroom. She fought for this property and acted as a curator for many years.

Fallen leaves crunched under our feet as we walked the perimeter of the Wildflower Garden as filled our lungs with autumnal air. We shared the trails with a small group of elementary aged school children taking notes on the various types of deciduous and non deciduous trees.

Asters, chelone and autumnal sneezeweed were the only blooms amidst the dried out bog. Hoses lined the trails to bring water to newly planted species due to the drought conditions.

AFTER lunch in the big city, what a welcomed reprieve. The Cities' residents have so many parks and lakes.
It was a lovely excursion to not only stretch our legs but also enjoy a beautiful fall day with two brothers reconnecting and sharing family memories... and I have to say creating some new ones for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More COMFORT... comfort food that is

As forementioned I use what's the freshest on hand and we still have a lot of 'Swiss chard' in the garden. I don't think I had even ever eaten Swiss chard before moving to the End of the Rainbow Valley and I've discovered that it's a great substitute for spinach. Sooooo after Natureman finished his cup of coffee, I sent him out to harvest some swiss chard for our dinner.

Hence my version instead of Spinach Artichoke Pasta is now Swiss Chard Artichoke Pasta...

BTW I also had also bought this gigantic jar of artichokes this summer at Sam's and have been dying for recipes to use it!

SO this is what You will need besides the greens and artichokes:

6 T Butter
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced (we use alot of garlic so I love the ginorous jars)
2 bags Baby Spinach/ Chopped up Swiss Chard
2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Drained and quartered,(next time we will cut smaller)
3 T Flour
3 c Whole Milk (I didn't have 3 c so I add vegetarian broth & some cream cheese)
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/2 c Grated Parmesan Cheese
1-1/2 c Mozzarella Or Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
1/2 c Low Sodium Chicken/Vegetarian Broth (less Or More)see milk note
12 oz, weight Penne, Cooked Until Al Dente( I used Amish noodles)
1/2 c Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste

Start by quickly wilting the spinach in 2T melted butter over medium heat… I used the electric fry pan BTW.

Then throw in minced garlic. Notice since we love garlic in the End of the Rainbow Valley, we buy the pre-chopped garlic in the 'largest' container.

Add greens whether you use spinach/swiss chard stirring it until it just begins to wilt. This takes probably a minute, minute-and-a-half. In other words, don't kill it.

Remove greens from pan (set aside in a bowl) and melt 2T more butter in the pan. Increase heat to high.

Drain artichokes and at least quarter them. (Bigger does not mean better.)
Add to pan. Stir them for a couple of minutes, just to get as much color on them as you can… Remove artichokes. ( I let them share half the bowl with the greens.)

Reduce heat to low and add a little more butter (2T) to the pan.

HEY Nobody said this was 'low caloric.'

Sprinkle in flour. Mix it until it makes a paste cooks call 'roux.'(pron. ROO)

Now add the milk and whisk as it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add cheeses and cayenne pepper.

Return artichokes and then add cooked pasta, folding in spinach/chard...

Ladle into bowls topping with seasoned panko bread crumbs and dash of chile flakes.

Yum yum good.

Many thanks to my Jazzerbuddy Jean for trying this out and posting the recipe from Pioneer Woman. It's definitely a keeper. I know that we will be having it again here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sock It to Me...

I love socks...
the funkier the better and in the winter, the warmer the better. This is my newest pair of socks that I received by default. Hey, but I don't mind because they were hand knit, finished by my 'newest' friend while we were up in the Northwoods as they were meant for the hostess who fortunately admitted that she wouldn't really wear them... so I inherited these woolen beauties. Don't my tootsies look happy resting after a very busy month? The temps have dropped but I don't have cold feet.

It may look silly but I have a sock caddy in the closet so I can see my choices after deciding what outfit I will pick out for the day. You thought I was kidding, right? Single socks get their own drawer and when their companion's found can be added to the sock caddy. Where do their matches hang out? I even bought socks that come as 3 so if you lose one, you still have a pair. They are color coordinated, just not identical. How smart is that? Mix and match socks. I guess it's obvious from this pic that some re-organization is needed as I usually do a better job of sorting by colors. Oh well, I'll put that on my list of things to do for the boring winter days in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Meanwhile, here are some of my faves... In case you ever receive some socks that are just not you,they're probably me!

Doesn't everybody's outfit need a element of surprise?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Separate But Not Equal...

The Brown vs Board of Education museum in Topeka Kansas housed in the once segregated Moore ELementary school was a true testament to the inequality of not only education but told the story for the struggle for equality with a special emphasis of the racial struggle from the Civil War to the present.

The gleaming polished hallways and wooden floor classrooms are representative of the the 50’s era school buildings. Does this building architecture look familiar to you?
Upon entering the now historic sight, a knowledgeable U.S.park ranger docent greets visitors and lays the foundation of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision which involved a lawsuit by 5 different school systems across the country.

The decision invalidated separate but equal accommodations and was the death knell of Jim Crow segregation in the South. Separate but equal was no longer acceptable.

The museum did a good job making one think about the importance of 'equality.' We have a lot more dialogue still to do as a society whether it's regarding immigration, women's rights, gay marriage, etc. and that's coming from someone whose high school didn't get integrated until she was a senior and still lives in a community where I have the darkest skin color around...