Saturday, June 25, 2011

Breakaway in Haiku, Part 1

Wisconsin in June
Cool, humid, with thunderstorms
And warmth of friendship

Polishfest evening
Kielbasa and pierogies
And deep fried cheese curds

Milwaukee sunshine
Lakefront festival of arts
Body art photos

Calatrava sails
Chinese figures, modern art
Lakeside museum

Chicago Sunday
Field museum with t-rex
Egypt and The Horse

Shedd aquarium
Jellies and man hugging fish
Happy Father's Day

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cluck cluck... chili?

A haiku:

Gray skies and chili.
Cool for skin, heat for stomach.
Contrasting senses.

On Saturday our church sponsored its first annual chili cook-off. It was a lot of fun, in spite of the thunderstorm that forced an early closing.

The girls entered Betsy's white chicken chili, absolutely delicious. They didn't win, but we all had fun tasting the various kinds of chili, from Nan's Mild to Chunky BBQ Style to Vegetarian Venom.

So in case you care, here's our recipe, borrowed from Nicole's dad:

Mr. McIntyre's Chicken and White Bean Chili

2 (15 oz) cans of white beans, drained
4 Poblano chili peppers
2 T butter
1 large onion, chopped
5 1/2 T flour
2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 c half-and-half
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (or 1 rotisserie chicken)
1 T chili powder
1 T hot sauce
1 T ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 c Monterrey Jack or Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 c sour cream
Cilantro, chopped (optional) – I don’t use this
Salsa (optional) – I don’t use this

Char the poblanos over your stovetop gas burner or in a broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in a paper bag. (Alternatively, you can place them in a bowl and seal the top with plastic wrap. Either method helps the chilies steam and makes removing the skin easier.) Let the chilis stand for 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and chop the chilies. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes - do not let the mixture brown, however. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and half-and-half. Simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add beans, roasted chilies, shredded chicken, chili powder, hot sauce, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer gently to blend the flavors, about 20 minutes. Add grated cheese and sour cream to chili. Stir just until chili is heated through and cheese melts - but do not let the mixture boil. Serve topped with cilantro and a dollop of your favorite jarred salsa if you choose.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The butterfly of the moment

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? ~Vita Sackville-West

Okay, I never heard of Vita Sackville-West before, but I was looking at quotes about writing and this one captured me. It made me think.

Is writing a romance novel really clapping the net over the butterfly of the moment?

I looked up Sackville-West. She was an English poet and novelist, mainly in the 1930s and 40s, and had a long affair with Virginia Woolf. And I thought, oh, well, poetry. That's a very personal form of writing, and certainly qualifies as capturing the butterfly of the moment. Probably the haiku I write also qualify.

But really, what about a novel? Does it have to be "literature" to capture that butterfly? Or is any writing, creativity of the mind, a scramble with the butterfly net?

I don't know. What do you think?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The joys of old age

Are there any? Joys of old age?

I was 39 on my last birthday. Honest to God. Because the year I was going to turn 40 I canceled my birthday and I haven't had another one since. Instead we celebrate cake day every year, because you gotta have cake, right? Or International Tiara Day, or Aldersgate Day, or Victoria Day. Anything but a birthday.

Anyway, if I still celebrated birthdays, this one would have been a biggie. I'd be officially old, at least by some standards. And take it from one who's been dealing with an elderly mother AND an elderly mother-in-law, old age sucks. Bigtime.

So if I actually were old, how would I deal with it?

"Put me in a home," I tell my girls, over and over again. "You don't even have to come visit me. Don't let me be a burden to you. Just make sure I have internet."

I hope that I'll still have enough sense left to get myself into a senior place that will give me whatever care I need. My mom did, with a little encouragement and help from my sister. But the thought of living to almost 95, like my mom has, scares me to death.

In the meantime, I'll just pretend I'm not old. I'll work at the church, drag myself to the gym, hang out on the internet, and read and read and read, just the way I've been doing.

And hey, the good news is, I'm not old enough to collect social security yet. So even though I qualify for a senior citizen discount at some restaurants, I'm not REALLY old yet.