Saturday, August 27, 2011

It Ain't Me, Babe

Recently, one of the big three newscasts reported on the suicide of Russell Armstrong, a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” husband. At the end of the story the male reporter looked into the camera and clearly placed the blame on the viewing audience that demands reality programming.

I am the original video-baby, raised in the soft light of the television console in the center of the living room. My best friends were Mickey and Minnie and the Captain. Mr. Greenjeans was my first love. I did my homework by the glow of the TV. I am an addict.

But I do not demand reality programming.

My life has been dramatic enough. I do not need the shrieking and arguing of others to fill my home. I quit watching “The Today Show” twenty years ago; hearing Bryant, and then Matt, sternly demand answers during ‘hard hitting’ interviews was curdling the cream in my coffee.
My guilty pleasure is “Billy the Exterminator.” Kill those vermin, Billy, kill, kill! Okay, so he often relocates the beasts, but I do love that he freaks out as much as I do at the sight of a snake.

I do not watch people from Jersey or kids in beauty pageants or the three KKs who are famous for being famous. And I have no interest in wives who have no idea what reality is. And I know a lot of people who are like me.

Most of them do not own television sets, They have given up. There are a hundred channels-- 53 of them are showing ‘reality’ shows; fifteen are selling things; a dozen are showing all day reruns of shows that bored us the first time around; a dozen sports broadcasts, the big three are showing many versions of “CSI” or “Law & Order” shows; two are cooking channels; PBS and one is classic movies. Then there is that last one that always has the ‘no signal’ sign on. I don’t think it really exists.

The only movies the big three channels ever show are “Independence Day” and “Pearl Harbor.” I never want to see another Ben Affleck movie in my life.

I remember when friends and family used to talk about how funny or poignant a show was. Now they say those things about YouTube clips. I know ONE person who watches “Jersey Shore.” (If that’s you, no judgement. After all I do have Billy.)

Television is losing it’s audience. We are tired of “Real Housewives” and the rest of the arguing and screaming. Current programming is not educational, entertaining or even amusing.

And, Mr. Newscaster, I refuse to take responsibility for Russell Armstrong’s choice to end his life. He made that choice.

Suicide is sad. It is a permanent solution to temporary problems. It is a hateful and merciless revenge. In Mr. Armstrong’s case, it may have been the ultimate act of spousal abuse.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Whole Lot o' Shakin' Goin' On

There has been a question about salt.
I don't use it.
Shhh. Nobody has noticed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fire! (I’ll Take You to Burn)

I can still hear my Dad’s voice, “My God, Fran! Who were you mad at?!”

Often her Green Chile Stew would be so hot that it could hardly be eaten, but would we stop? Nooooooooo. We are a stubborn people. We sat with a stack of tortillas and a hand towel, sweating our way through the meal.

Our Green Chile Stew recipe came from my parents’ families who came from the Mora Valley in New Mexico. The one time I was in Mora, I stopped for lunch and almost cried when I tasted the food. It was exactly the way my family cooked. I mentioned it to the waitress, who asked me if I realized that it was Spanish and Indian cooking-- not Mexican. I assured her I did.

Good Mexican food is a treasure, but it is not the same as what my family made. It is in some ways more exotic, with ingredients and spices that I have only begun to explore.

Everyone makes their Green Chile Stew differently. What is written below is a basic recipe. Some people use beef, more onions, no onions, no tomatoes or they add potatoes... they make it their own style.

Green Chile Stew

Pork, 1/2 pound, cubed and sauteed in olive oil-- let it brown well for the best flavor

Onion, chopped and sauteed with pork

Tomatoes, 1 can diced

Green Chile, roasted. peeled and chopped (Anaheim or Hatch, you can use the canned but drain all the liquid from them. If you use fresh, use six or so-- roast in the oven at 350 for half an hour, let cool then peel and chop.)

Garlic, crushed (to taste)

1/2 t. oregano

1/4 t. ground or crushed cumin (optional)

1/4 t. ground or crushed coriander seed (optional)

Sauté the pork, add the onion and garlic, continue cooking at low heat until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, chili and spices.

Simmer at least an hour. I usually simmer longer in a crock pot.

Makes about one quart. Serve with beans or rice or with lots of tortillas.

I often make my Green Chile Stew a day ahead of time. It’s easier to remove any grease from the top when it’s cold, making it a lower fat meal.

And my husband has a theory that chile stored in a refrigerator emerges hotter the next day. He may be right.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Man Smart, Woman Smarter

He: Yes, you’re right. You’re a;ways right, except of course... when you’re wrong.

She: When would I be wrong?

He: That would be when you’re not right, but you’re always right...


Monday, August 15, 2011

Sweets for My Sweet

A good part of what makes the Two Trailer Marriage work is a deep appreciation for the talents each brings to the union.Most of my week was spent freezing Olathe corn and Palisade peaches. I then spent Saturday roasting and packing hot Hatch chile for the freezer. Our harvest pantry is done for the year.

And my husband is proud to tell his friends, “I married a damned good cook.”

He thinks I have become a "country wife," but I have always processed good produce for the freezer, even when I lived in the city.

I didn’t cook much for him when we were dating-- at least not until the relationship started looking serious. He was pleasantly surprised and appreciative when I placed a plate of Paella in front of him on his birthday.

The reason I didn’t cook for men that I dated was that I frequently got marriage proposals spoken in the heat of passion over my ravioli or my enchiladas. I wanted to be wanted for me-- not for my culinary talent.

But I know that the man I married loves and adores me, so I don’t care who he tells about my cooking. And I love it when he makes a special request for a dish. Last night he looked at me lovingly and said, “Would you make me some English muffins?”

The dough is rising as I type.

I tried a few different recipes and finally developed one of my own. He likes them better than those incredibly expensive muffins he used to order on-line.

Jo Ann’s English Muffins


  • 1 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 cups unbleached flour


Dissolve yeast and sugar in water in mixer bowl.

Add milk, egg, honey, salt, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix thoroughly with bread hook.

Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead with bread hook until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Place dough ball in a large bowl bowl sprayed with Pam; spray top of ball with Pam.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down.

On a floured surface, roll to 1/3-in. thickness. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into circles with muffin cutter (or empty cleaned tuna can).

Place on greased baking sheet with 1 to 2 inches between each.

Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes. Bottom should be brown. Turn and bake another 7-8 minutes longer.. Cool on a wire rack.

Muffins can be frozen in plastic bags once cooled.

When ready to serve, thaw and split with a fork. Best served toasted.

I love to cook. But I truly love to cook for people who enjoy the food-- that would be my husband.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

I just got home from the high school reunion. 40th. And I have to agree with my husband-- it brought out the inner 15-year-old in a bunch of us.

At one point I was standing in a doorway with a friend, looking out at a patio full of people.

“There are a bunch of people out there... and they’re scary.”

My friend smiled. “Yup. They’ve always been scary.”

So we both took a deep breath and walked into the fray. No harm came to either of us. Just as we had survived high school so many years ago, we survived the evening.

I don’t know why these old relationships cause so much anxiety.

It’s not like I was a total pariah in school, just not well liked. The only hippie on student government. The fat chick. Mixed race and full of ethnicity. Different. Not sure who I was or where I was going. I only spent three years with this group-- but as an army brat, that was the longest I had ever spent with one group of people.

And I have regrets. I regret that I was not more generous of heart at the time. I may have hurt people without intending to do so. I was young and did not know how to handle myself. As one friend said that night, “I think we have all learned to use what we have in a much better way.”

That seems true. People who never spoke to me then were friendly and open at the reunion. My Dad once said that the nature of reunions is that eventually most people are so glad to just be alive that old injuries don’t matter any more.

In the end, it was all hugs and whispers. “You haven’t changed a bit.” they all said. But they don’t know me; I have changed tremendously. I am happier, calmer, better grounded than I ever have been.

And I am prettier than I was then. My joyful heart makes me much prettier. I was glad to see everyone, but I am so grateful that I am no longer a teenager.