Monday, February 27, 2012

I Am A Republican

Let me begin by saying that I do not like to argue about political beliefs. Not in the least. I do not like conflict or debate. That may not make sense to some, but that's how I feel. I don't like defending what I believe to be correct. I only know how I feel about things political and am basically just putting some thoughts down for posterity. (P.S. I'm not a wimp, I WILL speak up when necessary. I just don't make a practice of spouting off.)

I am certainly no expert on politics. I do know that every four years, as America prepares to decide who will be our next President, the punches start flying from each political party. Some of the comments I've seen recently posted by liberal "friends" on Facebook have sometimes caused me to do a double take. To be fair, I have seen vicious words thrown around by conservative friends as well. I tend to feel that negative or derogatory comments can be more polarizing than productive. No one will listen to you if you are calling them names.

I was in a situation on Facebook today where I felt I was being goaded into a confrontation, no matter how "civil" the situation seemed. I stated pretty much what I said above (in a nutshell though, it was Facebook after all) and left the conversation. No harm done on either side.

 So I honestly don't know what my point is here....just this: How about we all be grown-ups this political season and at least respect each other's right to our beliefs and ideals. It's what America is all about. Just stick with what you believe and don't let anyone draw you into unsavory behavior.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gulp....I'm A Quinquagenarian!!!! And Other Thoughts...

Quinquagenarian-n.  A person 50 years old.

Well, not officially until Wednesday, but let me say that this fact is certainly at the forefront of my thoughts as the day draws near. Here are some thoughts on the matter.

First let me say that I do not feel like a 50-year-old. Sure, there are days when my joints ache from arthritis and I feel a hundred years old. But inside....where my soul resides....I still feel like a 20-something most of the time. That is, of course, unless I am preoccupied with paying my son's college tuition or making sure the insurance is paid up. Then I feel much more "grown up".

I still love seeing new places and trying new things. Sometimes my mind just flies around from idea to idea on where I want to go or things I want to try. It's difficult to land and concentrate on one single thing with all the thoughts going on in my head. But this makes me feel alive and vibrant. My idea of trying new things or seeing new places may not be another's idea of adventure, but the simple things have always pleased me. I can make an event out of a 20 mile drive for a special meal. I actually get excited at the idea of some of the things I find myself doing. A new recipe can send me into a joyful tizzy! Planning a movie night at home with my family is always a treat to me. Someday I hope to be able to travel more. Again, my idea of where I want to go may not appear adventuresome to others, but there are so many things yet to see that are right outside the small cocoon of my world. I've never travelled outside of the United States and although I would welcome the opportunity, I'll be happy with seeing the places I do get to visit right here in my own country.

Honestly, it is more than a bit scary to think that, statistically at least, my life is about two-thirds over with. Very humbling. I think we can all agree that as we age, we become more mindful of how we spend our time. I surely don't want to dwell on how much time I have left in this world, but I am certainly reminded that the clock is ticking.

Happily, I can say that I have become much more health-conscious within the last couple of years. For the first time in my life I exercise regularly. I have become mindful of what goes into my body and have developed healthier eating and cooking habits. I can proudly say that I might just feel the best I have ever felt. Improving my habits has been a gift. I'd like to spend my later years enjoying life rather than fighting illness and the effects of being overweight. I'm very happy with my decision to make those changes and have vowed to continue these habits.

So I welcome 50 in a couple of days. I may as well welcome it because there is nothing I can do to change it. Hopefully, when others look at me, they can see beyond the gray hairs and the effects of gravity (DO NOT get me started on that!). Maybe they can see that 20-something that resides in my soul and peeks out every now and then.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

State Fair Sandwiches

I came up with this recipe last year and we have enjoyed it many times since. If you've ever been to The Great State Fair of Oklahoma, you've smelled the aroma of peppers and onions and sausage cooking in huge skillets to make sandwiches. This is my version and I named it after the wonderful aroma that wafts through the house while the sausage and vegetables are sauteeing on the stove. Heaven.

~State Fair Sandwiches~

-2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
-One 14.5 oz. can Del Monte Diced Tomatoes w/ Basil, Garlic and Oregano, undrained
-One 8 oz. can tomato sauce, any brand

In a medium saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil over med/high heat. Add the garlic and cook and stir until garlic starts to brown slightly. Immediately pour in tomatoes and sauce. Once sauce comes to a boil, turn heat to very low. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes a bit. Let simmer over low heat until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside and keep warm.

-About 4 sandwich rolls, split (I've used everything from hoagie rolls to bolillos. I have also tried whole grain and do not find it as tasty as a good ole white roll.)
-One large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
-One large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
-One large onion, cut into thin strips
-One 13-16 oz. package smoked sausage, sliced into med/thin slices. (I use turkey smoked sausage to cut back on fat a bit.)
-4 slices mozzarella cheese, or shredded mozzarella

In a large skillet, heat a small amount of olive or canola oil over med/high heat. Add peppers, onions and sausage. Stir and cook over heat until all are slightly browned, but the vegetables are still bright and a bit crisp.

Spoon sausage/vegetable mixture over bottom of bread. Ladle as much or as little of the sauce over, depending on your taste. Layer cheese on top of sauce.

Heat broiler to normal. On a flat pan covered with foil (easy clean-up, folks), lay the sandwiches open-faced with tops alongside. Watch closely. Broil until cheese is melted and bread is lightly toasted. Place tops on sandwiches and cut in half if preferred.

Serve with extra sauce on the side.

This recipe leaves plenty of leftover sausage/pepper/onion mixture and sauce for more sandwiches if desired. Can also be reheated and eaten alone with the sauce. Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

For The Love Of The Game??

I write this from the comfort of my favorite chair as I watch Super Bowl XLVI. Let me first say that I am in no way disrespecting this venerable American tradition. I just wanted to offer my thoughts.

I wouldn't say I am a devoted NFL fan. I enjoy watching and keeping up with my favorite players throughout the season. I especially like keeping an eye on former University of Oklahoma players who have gone on to the big time. OU football is my first love and always will be, at least in the sports world. That is another subject for another time, but those who know me would not disagree with that statement. GO SOONERS!!!!

Back to the situation at hand, Super Bowl Sunday is a huge day in the United States. Even those who don't watch a single game all year long tune in, even if just to catch the interesting commercials and halftime shows. It almost seems unpatriotic to miss it!

Food is the central part of this tradition, unless you are actually at the game. From chips and dips to huge elaborate spreads, households across our country are sitting down to enjoy their favorite food and drink while enjoying the game with family and friends. Offerings can run the gamut from simple pizza to fanciful creations. See for yourself:

Times sure have changed when it comes to halftime entertainment. The first Super Bowl in 1967 included performances from trumpeter Al Hirt, college marching bands and a high school drill team. I think I even spotted a guy in a jet pack in the center photo!!

Now, in 2012, we have a totally different type of show, which includes appearances by Madonna and Nicki Minaj.

Quite a difference, huh?

Interesting, too, how the cheerleader situation has changed through the years. Here is an image of Green Bay Packers cheerleaders in 1967, followed by the 2012 New England Patriots squad. See if you can spot the differences without looking at the colors of their uniforms...

Oh, and how about the players? This is a game after all. I give you images of the Most Valuable Players of the 1967 and 2012 games.

Okay, so not much of a difference there. Regardless, I think we can all agree that they typical NFL football player has changed significantly over the years. Although both past and present players put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into developing their bodies to play the sport, showboating and product endorsements have become a a huge part of the careers of more than a few NFL players in the current leagues. Materialism, flashy lifestyles and "bling" abound for some. Some players have even been charged and convicted of crimes including drug possession, firearms violations, murder and (infamously) running dog-fighting rings. I have a hard time believing that the players of 1967 were involved in similar lifestyles or activities. Maybe I'm candy-coating the old days, but that's how I remember it.

So whether you are watching for the love of the game of football itself, or for the commercials and entertainment, remember that you are taking part in a time-honored American tradition; the championship game of the National Football League. I hope your team wins and that you enjoy the game.....or the commercials.....or the entertainment....and the food.....or all four!!

What are some of your favorite foods, traditions, Super Bowl moments or actual plays from the Super Bowl? Do tell!!

Oh, and GO PATS!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When Life Hands You A Lemon, Bake Brownies

Life handed me a lemon yesterday and I wanted to tell you all the events of the morning. For your trouble, I will include a sweet recipe at the end of this entry. Everybody wins!

I left home and took my usual route to work. That route includes a daily stop at my local convenience store. I could say they have the best coffee in the city, but it's actually their sinfully delicious French Vanilla creamer that keeps me coming back. Anyway, as I pulled in to their parking lot, I was forced to park along the far side of the lot as many others were also at the store getting their RDA of the coffee creamers and cappuccini at the store. While returning to my car I looked up and noticed that my right rear tire was almost flat! Had I not parked where I did, I would not have seen that side of my car thus returning to the street headed for the highway and possible disaster. Luckily, the store also sells gasoline and has a free air pump available. I filled the tire and drove straight to my local tire store/mechanic. As my tire was not covered under the Road Hazard Warranty, I would be required to pay the cost of repair. After quickly repairing my tire, the gentleman at the store told me I wouldn't be charged. I am a longtime customer there and he was doing me a favor.

Now, luckily, I did have the extra $20 it would have cost me to pay for the tire repair. I think we can all agree that, unless we are having a tough time financially, $20 is not a big deal to most people. And yesterday it was not a big deal to me. The fact that the gentleman at the store considered me a good customer and did me a favor.....well that was a big deal to me!

So, long story short, I decided to repay the kindness of the tire store employee and bake a batch of brownies to take to his crew this morning.

Recipe courtesy Taste of Home website. I added some chopped pecans and used milk chocolate chips to make them extra special.

Speedy Brownies


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


  • In a large bowl, beat the first seven ingredients. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  • Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Yield: about 3 dozen.

And now for the fun part!!

Now go bake some brownies and make someone's day!!