All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Friday, November 26, 2010

Physicist Dr. Don DeYoung discusses Design From Nature, Tuesday, 7:15pm

Most of us know that the inspiration for Velcro came from the common burdock plant's annoying stick-to-you seed pods, but few of us realize nature inspires many innovations for man.

Discovery of Design: Searching Out the Creator’s Secrets is the subject (and title of his book) of November's Creation Science Society of Milwaukee meeting, presented by Physicist Dr. Donald DeYoung.

His talk will be held on Tuesday, November 30th, 7:15 PM, at Grace Bible Church, 2643 South 117th Street, West Allis, Wisconsin, (414) 541-4252 (Across from Nathan Hale High School sports fields on 117th, just north of Cleveland Avenue.) It is free and open to the general public. Dr. DeYoung will also discuss Astronomy and Creation that night.

From the Creations Science Society of Milwaukee:

President of Creation Research Society to discuss
borrowing design from nature

What do dog paws, geckos, giraffes, horse bones and penguin eyes have in common?

They’ve all been the inspiration behind products that we take for granted today, according to physicist Donald DeYoung, Ph.D. – products ranging from shoe soles, adhesives and antigravity spacesuits to construction materials and sunglasses.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Dr. DeYoung, who is a professor, author and current president of the Creation Research Society (CRS), a 1700-member international group that funds research and publishes a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The fact is, the designs of nature are so perfect for their purpose that they have inspired countless innovations over the years.

This phenomenon is one of the topics Dr. DeYoung will present to the Creation Science Society of Milwaukee. ...For this part of his talk, he will draw from his fascinating book Discovery of Design: Searching Out the Creator’s Secrets

I found this interesting, "They say that if you’re looking for a scholar to debate a creationist, don’t bother asking the Physics Department – physicists tend to side with Creation Science."

Dr. Donald DeYoung chairs the Science and Mathematics Department of Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for Sunday and Monday, January 30th and 31st when Ken Ham and Jason Lyle from Answers in Genesis come to Brookside Baptist Church in Brookfield to hold an Answers in Genesis Conference in our area.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Archive: I love my repairman - Thanksgiving is saved!

Originally posted Nov. 19, 2007
My oven is back in business , thanks to my resident repairman--my son--pictured above. (Two days ago, I almost had a Chernobyl--my oven wouldn't shut off!)

Friday night, he searched the internet and ordered the parts. Today, the parts arrived. Tonight, he fixed the oven. Thanksgiving is saved!

By the way, I take no credit for his abilities. We never formally studied electronics in the 13 years I taught him. He just was interested and I had the good sense to get out of his way.

My husband and I always encouraged our son to do real work at an early age though, and he taught our son quite a bit about electricity and volt meters etc. while doing work around the house.

I think kids can do far more than we give them credit for. We tend to insulate them and keep them in the play workshop world too long instead of letting them do real jobs (with close supervision, of course).

Here is the culprit--a small, innocent looking relay--that because of its failure, could have burned down the house!

The surprising thing was that they were German made. We were expecting them to be of Chinese origin. Both were replaced*, so the oven is back in business.

My final Thanksgiving food tip is to cook the turkey upside down.

I have done this for years and it results in very juicy white meat. I usually start it upside down for at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Since we don't carve the bird at the table, presentation is not an issue, so I left it upside down 1 hour longer last year. If you have those new silicone hot mitts, you can just grab the turkey and turn it back right side up after the allotted time and let it finish baking. If you don't have the mitts, turning can be a little challenging--but worth it in juicy white meat.

Maybe tomorrow I will get back to blogging about 4K**. I needed to take a break and talk about more pleasant things for a bit, so thanks for bearing with me. The recipes also gave me a chance to try out an older laptop that came my way with the remote desktop feature on my computer. That was fun!

UPDATES: *Since this post was written, these relays failed again in 2010 and needed to be replaced.

**We thought we killed 4K back in 2007 when I originally wrote this post , but here we are in 2010 bringing it up again as a money maker for the Elmbrook School district.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's on your Thanksgiving menu? & Recipes

Recipe links are at bottom of post

The turkey is the star of our Thanksgiving table, if you ask my husband. I like it too, but I don't have the same devotion to the bird that he does. If I just made a BIG turkey, lots of mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, fresh cranberry salad, and pie, my menfolk would consider the meal perfect.

But for my sister and I, it is the other things that make the meal complete. We love tossed salad with homemade vinaigrette dressing and a vegetable such as fresh green beans or fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots with browned butter*. These are must haves in our book. (She usually brings the salad and veggies.)

Baked-in-their-skins yams are on the nice to have list. I just cut the ends off to let the steam out and toss on the oven rack at 350 degrees until tender. Sometimes I might serve pickled beets or a sweet pickle of some sort to act like a taste-bud punctuation mark.

In other words, we like vegetables that taste like vegetables. No pistachio pudding/fruit salad or green bean casserole or sweet potatoes with marshmallows for us. (If those items are on your must have list, great. I just figure we consume enough calories at this meal, I rather save my appetite and capacity for important things like the main course and pie!)

Every family has their standbys and favorites that make their Thanksgiving meal complete, and I would like to hear about your traditions.

But let's not forget that whatever is on our menu, Thanksgiving is a day to gather together with loved ones and give thanks to God for his blessings.

Thankfulness is the soil in which joy thrives

Today, I must go finish up some shopping at the Elm Grove Sendiks. They are one of my last convenient sources for pasteurized whipping cream (not ultra pasteurized) for the pumpkin pie and Gille's vanilla custard for the apple pie. (Pick 'n Save used to carry these items but don't anymore. Maybe that is one reason they are falling behind on the Brookfieldnow grocery store preference poll?)

Turkey: I roast upside down for the complete cooking time. This makes the white meat much more juicy. This method doesn't make for the best presentation, but it does yield the best results for me. If presentation is important, you can flip it during the roasting time after about 3 hours.

Homemade gravy: 1 C flour, 1 C pan drippings, 8 C water. (Use your potato cooking water, green bean water, and plain water to make 8C.) Soak the flour in some of the water at least 1 hour before you make the gravy. After removing the turkey, pour off the fat and save.
Deglaze the pan with about half of the water, stirring constantly. Add the 1 C fat, then the flour and remaining water to make the proper consistency. Salt as needed. Strain if desired.

Stuffing: Thanksgiving favorites: Kyle's stuffing

Cranberries: Kyle's Fresh Cranberry Relish: A happy accident (I also make the cooked ones: 1 bag berries, 1 C water, 1 C sugar. Simmer until all berries are popped.)

Pie: As American as Mom and Apple Pie Includes a cranberry apple variation

Pie crust: Easy as pie...really! Pie Crust Recipe

Turkey leftovers - soup: The Turkey's Last Stand

Browned butter: In a heavy sauce pan or small saute' pan, place butter, whatever amount is desired, and put on low to medium heat. Butter will melt and as time goes on, the milk solids in the butter will start to brown and the mixture foams a bit. Watch it and stir it occasionally to prevent burning. Brown until a medium brown. It will continue to brown a bit after you remove it from the heat, so until you are experienced, err on the side of underdone. You can always heat it more. It has a delicious nutty flavor that goes well with vegetables.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Archive: The Turkey's Last Stand....Turkey Soup

Original Post: Nov. 27, 2007

This is not a political commentary posting! It is about soup.

I grew up in a home that was not very enthused about turkey, but I married a turkey-a-holic!

It must be an inherited trait on the Y chromosome, because both my guys cannot get enough of the big bird!

Sadly, our turkey leftovers are history, but there is one last meal to be had from our Thanksgiving feast, and that is turkey soup. I make it just as I would chicken soup.

I take the roasted carcass and pick off all the meat I can and refrigerate. Place the bones, scraps, and even the skin into a large soup pot.

Cover with water and add a small onion, stalk of celery, and carrot. A few parsley stalks are good too. Simmer for a few hours.

Strain the contents through a colander into a big bowl or another pot and return the broth to the soup kettle. Skim off excess fat.

Peel a few carrots and slice into disks, chop a med. onion, and slice up a few celery stalks and add these to the pot.

Simmer an hour longer and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste and some freshly chopped parsley (or dried).

By this time the bones are cool enough to go through, removing any pieces of meat. Put the meat in the broth.

Add more of the meat you set aside when you started the soup and cut into bite-sized pieces and toss in the pot.

Now you have a choice to make: Turkey Dumpling Soup or Turkey, Rosemary, Rice Soup.

For Turkey Dumpling, just take 1 beaten egg, 1 t salt, and 1 C white flour. Mix together until you can't get any more four into the egg and break off little pieces of the dough and toss into the boiling broth. Cook about 20 min. My guys really like these crude dumplings, so I make double the amount.

For the Turkey, Rosemary, Rice soup, add a sprig of rosemary to the soup, some cooked brown and wild rice (if you have any), and a few drops of Tabasco sauce. This of course it to taste. Simmer 20 minutes and then fish out the rosemary. If you have a herb bag or large tea ball, this would keep the rosemary leaves together. This soup creation came from a friend and we really like it just as well as the dumpling variation.

Depending on how much turkey you had to start with, you might have to add a little chicken bullion to make it more flavorful.

Anyway, turkey soup, either variation, has become a real family favorite. I freeze the left overs and keep them for future meals. It is like money in the bank!

Try it with your Christmas Turkey.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Archive: Easy as pie--really! Pie Crust Recipe

Original Post: Nov. 18, 2007

I cannot remember when I made my first pie; maybe I was 7 years old? Mom always let my sister and I help in the kitchen and taught us to cook and bake at an early age. The great thing about it was that she did not mind that it looked like a disaster area when we finished. It is a fond memory that I hold in my heart.

Many people are very afraid of making a pie. I think it might be because they don't have a good pie crust recipe to start with. I think Mom's recipe came from the Settlement Cookbook. It is a good, simple, basic recipe. I've never had a flop and never heard a complaint.

Here's the recipe--enough for 2 double crust or 4 single crust pies:

3 cups of all purpose, unbleached white flour -not bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups of real, salted butter OR 2/3 cup of real, salted butter and 2/3 cup of lard (yes, lard) I tend to use all butter simply because I always have it on hand. Lard makes a flakier crust.

½ cup of very cold water

The process:

Measure the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

With a pastry cutter, cut in 2/3 cup of the butter. (A pastry cutter is an inexpensive gizmo with a handle and multiple semi-circle dull blades--obtainable even from the widget section in the grocery store cooking accessories isle.) Keep cutting, pressing the cutter through the butter into the flour, until the texture is even. The color will be an even creamy tone.

Add the lard or remaining portion of butter and cut in again. This time you want to stop before it is all finely worked in. Stop when the largest chunks are the size of very small peas.

Next, fluff up the butter/lard/flour/salt mixture with a fork. Run the cold water until it is very cold and measure out ½ cup. Drizzle it into the mixture while tossing with a fork until the water is distributed. Here is where you must be careful. DO NOT OVER MIX! Over mixing will develop the gluten in the flour and make your crust tough. Properly done, your dough will probably be somewhat crumbly with some white looking streaks. This is fine.

Most recipes say to chill now. I have never needed to do that, but if your kitchen is very warm, you may want to chill for a half hour. You can also put it in the refrigerator and use it later in the week. I press down the crust dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. You can also freeze it in a plastic bag for future use.

When it is time to roll out the pie crust, get out the pastry canvas and pin sock. These are essential to pie making. You can use a stiff piece of laundered canvas or other tightly woven cotton cloth for the canvas. If you cannot find a pin sock, I have used a leg from a pair of clean pantie hose. Just cut off the leg and slip over the rolling pin. Leave an inch or so extra on each end and cut off the foot. Liberally flour the cloth and the rolling pin. That means you sprinkle on flour and work it into the fabric with your hand.

Cut the pie dough into 4 parts. With your hands, form the quarter section of the dough into a round, flattened disk, patting it into shape. Lay it in the center of the floured canvas. Take the rolling pin and start to gently press it into the center in a cross mark and roll outwards. You are flattening it out a little at a time. Continue rolling it in all directions, keeping its round shape. If it starts sticking to the canvas or pin, put more flour on the fabric. Roll from the center to the edges.

When it is about 1 to 1½ inches bigger than your pie pan all the way around (hold the pan over the crust to estimate) you are ready to put it into the pan. It will be a scant 1/8 inch thick. I roll the crust loosely onto the pin--about half way (here is where the canvas really helps you out; you can lift the cloth up from one side and help maneuver the pastry onto the pin)--and then lift the crust over the pan and lower it into place. Put the outer edge about ¾ - 1 inch over the pie pan edge. Then unroll the remaining crust. Re-center if needed. Ease the crust down to the bottom edges of the pan. If it cracks a little, just squish the edges back together. If you need to put in a patch (a piece of extra rolled out crust from the edge) just wet the area to be patched (use your finger or pastry brush) and put the piece of crust on top. Gently pat into place. No one will ever know!

Now if this is a double crust pie, you repeat the roll out, leave it on the canvas and make the filling. After the filling is in the pie shell, some people brush the edge of the crust in the pie pan with a little water (it acts like glue), but I don't. Once the filling is in the pie shell, repeat the loose roll up of half the pie crust onto the pin and transfer to the pie shell. Start at one edge, leaving that extra margin of crust to hang over the edge and unroll.

For either single or double crust pies, the crimp phase is pretty much the same. First, cut the excess of crust off the pie-I use a butter knife or small paring knife for this. I support the crust with my finger from underneath and cut into it. I leave about ½ inch for double crust and 3/4 inch for single crust pies beyond the pie pan edge. Then start to gently turn and tuck that extra pie dough under all around the pie. Once you have gone around the pie once, go around again and push into place any irregular spots. The idea is to make it an even thickness.

Note that for single crust pies, there is a tendency for the crust to slip into the pie when blind baking (baking the crust with no filling in it--such as for a banana cream pie). To avoid this, make sure you do not stretch the crust to fit the pan. In fact, try to ease a little extra crust down into the pie pan.

Now comes the fun part: the crimp or decorative edge. The simplest method is to just use a fork dipped in flour to prevent sticking and press down gently to make little ridges. My favorite is the peaked crimp. For this one, I first pinch the crust edge into a raised lip all the way around the crust edge. Then using the knuckle of my right forefinger and thumb and forefinger of my left hand, I gently coax the dough into the pinch of my left two fingers with the knuckle of my right. Keeping my fingers lightly floured will keep the dough from sticking.

Be sure to cut ample steam vents into that top crust, or your crust will be soggy. This can be simply done, or in an artistic design. Sometimes I write the name of the pie into the crust with little slits or make hole in the center apple shaped, for an apple pie and add some extra crust apple leaves.

For a double crust fruit pie, bake at 450 degrees in a pre-heated oven (very important) for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Because I like to really fill up my pies, usually I need to bake longer at 350-at least until I see the filling bubbling inside.

If you are baking a single crust pie, blind (no filling), be sure to *** the crust bottom with a fork before you put it into the pre-heated 450 degree oven. This prevents large bubbles from forming in the crust. These you bake at 450 for 8 to 10 minutes. Check after about 6 min. You don't want it to get too brown. I have as of late started at 450 degrees and then turned down to 425 once the shell is in the oven. This seems to give me a good crust that does not get too brown.

You can make a fancier crust edge by using small cookie cutter shapes of pie dough and gluing onto crust edge with water. Martha Stewart had some very pretty pie edges on page 36 of her November magazine issue.

Sometimes I make some pretty shapes such as a free form Maple leaf or cookie cutter hearts, etc. to place on top of the whipped cream on a pumpkin pie. If you plan on doing this edge, cut more off your crust edge before you turn it under. Otherwise there will be too much crust under the cut outs. For shapes, roll out your crust as usual and cut out the shapes. You will need to flour the cutters to prevent sticking. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake as you would the single, blind crust, but check after a few minutes. The smaller shapes bake faster. You can also sprinkle these with cinnamon and sugar before baking. Better tell your family these are spoken for though, or they may disappear before you get them on the finished pie!

Glass pie pans are my favorites. They make a much crisper crust. Aluminum would be my second choice. (I won't use that horrid baker's secret tin ware.)

One lady recently told me her grandmother always replaced 1 t. of water with 1 t. cider vinegar per double crust pie. She said it made for a flakier crust. I may just try that trick. Let me know if you ever tried that one

I know many people like to use the Cuisinart for crust. I have one and have used it, but I still prefer to do it by hand. I think you have more control by hand.

For a little extra zip, I have used about 1/4 C lemon juice mixed with enough powdered sugar to make a thin frosting. I then drizzle it over an apple pie. Yum.

PS Dad sometimes would make pies too, so don't think pie making is only for women!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Archive: As American as Mom and Apple Pie

Original Post: Nov. 18, 2007

What would Thanksgiving be without apple pie? I have the traditional recipe from my mother here and also a pretty variation: Kyle's Apple Cranberry Pie. (I can't leave a recipe alone!)

Mom's Apple Pie

Enough pie crust for a double crust pie.

Apples: A combination of Macintosh, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith

½ cup to 2/3 cup sugar (I use ½ for an 8 inch crust and 2/3 for a 10 inch-again, our family likes things on the tart side)

2 Tablespoons of unbleached white flour (I have since changed to 1 T flour and 1T instant tapioca-it makes for a more translucent juice with a better consistency)


Butter to dot the top, about 4 teaspoons


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Have the crust rolled out and ready: the bottom crust in the pie pan (I prefer glass unless you are freezing it first), and the top, ready to go, rolled out on the pastry cloth.

Wash the apples and start cutting one of each into quarters. Cut out the core and peel with a sharp paring knife. Cut each quarter into 3 to 4 sections. Arrange with the peeled side out around the bottom of the crust. Keep cutting up the apples and putting into the pie shell. While you don't have to make art work of this job, you don't want large pockets of air. I like to keep piling the apple pieces up until they mound up about 1 ½ inches above the pie pan edge level.

Mix up the sugar and flour (flour and tapioca) in a bowl. Add in cinnamon. This is to taste. Sprinkle some on and stir it in.

Spoon the sugary mixture over the apples in the pie pan. Try to get it down into the cracks and spaces between the apples if you can.

Cut up the butter into about 8 pieces and place evenly over the apples and sugar mixture.

Now put the top crust on. Pat the edges together and cut off excess crust leaving about ½ to 5/8 inch extra beyond the pie plate edge. Use a butter knife or small paring knife to cut through the crust, gently supporting from the underside the crust with your finger.

Fold under about ½ inch of the crust until the entire pie edge has been tucked under. Go around again and pat and form into a nice, even smooth edge. Crimp or decorate the edge.

Cut steam vents into the top. Use a knife and just cut slits about 1 ½ inch from the pie edge. Be sure to cut enough slits--it prevents soggy crust. You can also cut words or shapes into the top.

Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes. Filling should be bubbling inside when done. If crust gets too brown, cut off strips of aluminum foil and loosely put over the pie edges.

Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.

For best results, serve on the same day you bake the pie.

If you wish to make them ahead, then freeze when you have the pie completed, but still unbaked. (Use aluminum pie pan, not glass.) When you want the pie, bake frozen. You will probably have to increase the 350 degree bake time.

Cranberry Variation:

Apples: Mixture of Macintosh, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith - about 3 of each for a large pie

1 cup raw cranberries, washed

2/3 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon of white, unbleached flour

1 Tablespoon of instant tapioca


Butter, about 4 teaspoons

Prepare as the Mom's Apple Pie above, but sprinkle the cranberries evenly through the apples in the pie shell.

The cranberries add a pretty color to the pie and give it a nice tart flavor. The tapioca keeps the juices from running too much and yet it is not too thick.

Macintosh apples break down in cooking and fill in the empty spaces. Golden Delicious keep their shape. Granny Smith give a nice, tart flavor.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Archive: Kyle's Fresh Cranberry Relish: a happy accident

Original Post: Nov. 17, 2007

I was first introduced to raw cranberry relish at my mother-in-law's table, before I was married. It was a Prast family favorite. When it was time for me to host my first turkey dinner, I made what I thought was like my husband's mother's recipe. It wasn't. As it turned out, everyone liked my variation better!

This relish is ridiculously easy to make and is good at any time of year with pork, ham, chicken, and of course, turkey. You will need a food processor though, or it won't work.


1 bag, 12 ounces, of fresh cranberries, washed (*frozen berries can be used too)

1 navel orange, scrubbed

¾ to 1 cup sugar (I use ¾ because we like things on the tart side-it is also less sugar!)

3 ribs of celery, diced-not the dark green outer ribs but the more mild flavored medium to light green ones

½ to 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts (I do this by hand as it yields a more even texture)

The Process:

First, cut the ends off of the orange, just far enough to reach the flesh of the orange. Trim off any blemishes on the peeling. Cut the orange in half and then each half into quarters.

Place the 8 pieces of orange, still with the peeling on, into the food processor, with the chopping blade installed. Pulse until the orange is chopped into approx ¼ inch bits. Some will be smaller, some larger. Set aside.

Next, put the cranberries into the food processor (no need to wash the work bowl). Pulse until the berries are at least quartered. Again, some pieces will be smaller, some larger. (Some people like them more finely chopped, I don't.)

Place the chopped berries into a mixing bowl and add the oranges, sugar, celery and walnuts and stir. It takes a few minutes for the sugar to dissolve. Serve. Coarsely chopped fresh pineapple can be added too for a different twist.

This salad can be made the day ahead of Thanksgiving, but I like to keep the ingredients separated. I just put the chopped berries in the serving bowl first, then the pile of chopped oranges. I put the sugar in a zip loc bag, celery in another small zip loc and walnuts in a 3rd bag. I place the baggies on top of the berries and oranges and cover the whole bowl with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator until the next day. An hour or two before serving time, I just mix all the ingredients together. I found this delayed mix method works better-it makes a prettier presentation. If mixed too early, the red bleeds into the orange, walnuts, and celery. (It still tastes fine the next day though).

*Fresh cranberries aren't available all year, so I make sure I buy extra bags for the freezer.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Archive: Thanksgiving favorites: Kyle's stuffing

Original posting: Nov. 18, 2007

One year when a family member had to avoid bread (wheat allergy), I improvised on my mom’s traditional stuffing recipe by replacing the bread with brown rice, wild rice and chopped rye crisp crackers. It was good!

We all liked the rice and rye flavor so much that when bread no longer needed to be avoided, I kept the rice and rye bread ingredients and incorporated them in this new stuffing recipe. I have been using it ever since.


1 stick real butter

3 cups diced celery

9 T. chopped fresh parsley – if you’re lucky, there is still some from your garden

(4 ½ T. dried parsley may be substituted)

½ cup chopped onion

12 slices of bread, cubed.

(I like a mixture of a good rye, whole wheat (Manitowoc Ovens Hunger Filler is a favorite for this), and a white, such as Manitowoc Ovens English Muffin bread or a nice potato bread. The bread should have some body to it, not that soft, cottony type.

Freshly ground pepper—a few turns of the grinder do it for me

½ # (pre-cooked weight) wild rice – cooked (you can do this ahead of time)

1 # (pre-cooked weight) brown rice – you will need to cook this too before assembling

¼ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1 to 1½ teaspoons dried marjoram

½ to 1 teaspoon ground sage (to taste, some people do not like sage)

*Optional: sliced mushrooms, coarsely chopped pecans, chopped apple, etc.


In a large frying pan, melt the butter and gently sauté the onions. Add the celery until translucent. Add the bread and remaining ingredients and mix together. Taste it to make sure all is well.

I make my stuffing the day before Thanksgiving and keep it refrigerated in a plastic bag.

DO NOT pre-stuff the turkey the day before. I have heard this is a no-no because of possible bacteria build up.

When you are ready to bake the bird, spoon stuffing loosely into the cavity and pin/truss shut. The remaining stuffing can be put into a greased, covered casserole dish. I put this extra stuffing in the oven to bake closer to meal time for about 30 to 45 min. Baste it with some of the cooked turkey juices and stir the basting juices into the stuffing. (The turkey should be almost done now). Be careful the extra stuffing does not get too browned or the rice will get hard. When you scoop out the stuffing from the turkey, you can mix it into this extra stuffing in the casserole dish.

FYI: When I cook rice, I cook up a large batch and then freeze it in smaller amounts (for my family, 1-2 C. for brown and ½-1 C. for wild). This really helps when preparing meals that require some cooked rice. Sometimes, just the thought of having to cook the rice first can be rather defeating.

I do not cook my brown rice as long as the directions tell you. I put the rice into a large pot with plenty of cold water and start it cooking. About 20 to 30 minutes is usually sufficient. I then drain it and rinse. Brown rice is infinitely more nutritious than white, and I think it is tastier too.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Important: Call Gov. Elect Walker: No High Speed Rail! UPDATE

Weigh in, become part of the public record against High Speed Rail. Call Governor Elect Scott Walker's Transition Office and register your sentiments on the train. This is important because it could help with diverting the $810 million train money to go toward Wisconsin road projects instead.

The phone number is: 608-261-9200. Call until you reach a live person.

This may take some effort as they have very few phone lines going to this government office, but make the call. The issue is too important to leave any doubt as to where you stand.

Lobbyist groups are staging pro train rallies this weekend.

Siemans would be one such participant. They have a lot at stake here since they make trains. (The photo left was taken at the Orlando airport.)

Wisconsin cannot afford high speed rail now and it certainly cannot afford to replace it all in 15 years according to Federal safety mandates, so make that call!

H/T Vicki McKenna today, end of 1st hour.

UPDATE: I called about 10 times this morning but always got a busy signal, voice mail, or leave a return phone number message. Then I tried again this afternoon at 3:10pm and got through right away. I stated I wanted to go on the public record of being strongly opposed to high speed rail and gave my name and email address, as requested, to the woman in the office. She said they will continue taking calls on this as long as people call. That means in the days, weeks, and months ahead. So make that call!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Learning to live without "man's best friend"

Ten years ago, just before the 2000 election, we did something I never thought we would ever do...we became dog owners. My husband had dogs as a child and a cat when we were first married but never wanted to have a pet again--he didn't want to go through the heartbreak at the end of their short lives. I was not a dog person and had become allergic to cats, so pets were not on my bucket list either.

Our resolve quickly weakened, however, when our son started hinting he wanted a pet. (The popular TV show Wishbone and movie My Dog Skip, along with a field trip to the Wisconsin Humane Society added fuel to his pet passion fire.)

Maybe a dog would be a good companion for him, since he was an only child. We set aside all of our reasons for not wanting to own a dog, the nuisance, the expense, the work, and the heartbreak at the end, to give our child something he wanted so badly. We reluctantly agreed. And yes, we did get the usual promises that he would walk, feed, let the dog out, and clean up the yard, knowing full well they were just promises. (Just ask any mom who usually ends up doing all those tasks.)

The search was on.

Our son immediately started scouring the Internet for adoptable dogs. The price-tag for a purebred was out of the question; this dog would come from the humane society. Soon we were bombarded with an assortment of pooch profiles.

The first dog came from the Humane Animal Welfare Society in Waukesha. He was a 7 year old Silky/Yorkie mix charmer named Willie. We all fell in love immediately. Willie came home with us and seemed to fit right in. As time went on, however, our charming Dr. Jekyll turned into an evil, growling Mr. Hyde. We got pet counseling but it was too little too late; he bit my husband and drew blood. Hardly the pet you want for a young boy, and we knew we couldn't trust the dog again. Willie had to be returned and by law was destroyed. We were devastated. (We later found out H.A.W.S. didn't tell us of the problems at his former home that led to his surrender in the first place.)

Now we were approaching Chirstmas--not exactly the time to be getting a new dog. I kept assuring my son that God willing, we would find the right dog. Just pray and be patient.

Four days after Christmas, our son showed us a new dog profile. This one was at a rescue house in Aurora, Illinois. She was a 2 year old Westie we named Zoe, who also turned out to be a disaster. We soon found out she hated men. She hated boys. She only loved me! Hardly the right dog for our son. Two weeks later she went back to Aurora.

I still believed and assured my son that the right dog was out there, if we were patient. My son really didn't buy that but shortly after Zoe, the call came from the Wisconsin Humane Society. We have a Maltese mix young male dog here that meets your pet profile preferences. Since you are first on our list, when can you come in?

We had filled out a preference card with them back in November. Now they were calling because they had a dog who met our requirements: small and hypo-allergenic.

Come in? My son and I can be there now!

I still remember seeing "Walter" for the first time. (Walter was the name they assigned to him. We later found out he was a stray, so his real name was unknown.) He was in a small glass fronted room and ran up to the window to greet us. We could see he liked to play with stuffed animals. They let my son and I into the room and he promptly jumped up on us and wanted to play. He seemed very friendly. This one might be the one.

Unlike H.A.W.S., where you had to wait a day or two for adoption, the W.H.S. wanted you to make the adoption decision on the spot. We called up Dad and he came to meet Walter too. This one seemed right. Third time is a charm? And that is how we got Walter. Also unlike the other 2 adoption agencies, W.H.S. does extensive personality testing*. They don't adopt out problem dogs.

We brought him home trying to think of a better name for our new scruffy, white, dust mop of a dog than Walter! The first thing he did when he came in our home was mark the refrigerator 2 times. (We were told to expect that since he was 1 or 2 years old and was just neutered.) The next thing he did was run around the living room; he zipped around like he was running in the Kentucky Derby. So in a way, our dog named himself, with a little help from Dad, who suggested we call him Zipper because of it. His zippin' became his trademark.

Zipper was 13 pounds of friendly, and he loved everyone. He fit right in. His behavior in many ways was like that of our former 16 pound cat. In fact, we sometimes referred to him as a "dat", part dog and part cat. His size was perfect--small enough to pick up, large enough not to worry about. He was scruffy enough to not be considered a girly dog. Everyone he met loved him. Because of his size, people mistakenly thought he was a puppy. He was a hit when I would bring him to the Assisted Living home my dad stayed at. Walter certainly lived up to the Humane Society's personality assessment:* Life of the Party.

Our perennial puppy loved car rides, adored any drive through that gave treats, went camping with us, and sometimes went shopping with us. If you took a nap or were not feeling well, there he was at your side. Toast and pizza were 2 favorite foods, though he would eat most anything. We called him our omnivore. He sometimes got pesty when it was bedtime. It wasn't enough that we opened the door to our bedroom, no, he wanted company. Being part Maltese, he rarely barked. He did however sneeze when he wanted your attention. We think he had a touch of Terrier in him too as he was a terrorist when it came to destroying stuffed dog toys. He was smart too. Often he would pick up your gloves or socks and bring them to you, feigning he was going to chew them. That was his way of saying, give me my toy. He was loved.

About a year ago, we noticed he was having some stomach issues. Perhaps it was a bit too much turkey at Thanksgiving? I started him on some probiotics and that seemed to right the problem. Then at his annual checkup last February at our Holistic Vet, Silver Spring Animal Wellness Clinic, his blood work came back showing the dreaded news: he either had liver cancer or a hepatitis type infection. We started him on some herbs and supplements known to help enhance liver function.

He seemed to be doing pretty well with his supplements. His quality of life was good and he still acted like the eternal puppy when he wasn't napping. But as the summer drew to a close, we could see he was losing weight--three pounds is a lot to lose for a little 13 pound dog. He also seemed to get chilled easily, so we put his sweater on even in the house. One sure sign things weren't right was seeing him sit quietly next to a stuffed animal, like it was a friend, instead of shredding it.

Then he gave us a scare in late October with a G.I. crisis that fortunately passed fairly quickly, but we knew it was time. He rallied enough, thanks to Pepto-Bismol, to have a few okay days and one great last hurrah that included walking down our street on a glorious fall day, marking all his favorite places, rambling through the woods, and eating all the things he wasn't supposed to eat because of his liver problems.

It has been a little over 2 weeks since we had to say our final goodbyes to our pet pooch. We had him put down just before the 2010 mid term elections. So almost to the day, our 10 years of dog ownership came to an end. I am still not a dog person, but I loved our Zipper.

If you have had pets you understand how strange life is without them. Sometimes it is in a good way for our dog was not perfect. He had a bad habit of chewing on fleecy things like blankets and fleece throws. You could not leave a fleece jacket within his reach, for example, unless you wanted it to be customized with ventilation holes. Doors to rooms he might decide to mark can now be left open. Foods like pizza can be left unattended on the coffee table without fear of him helping himself.

But as I prepare dinner, I still find myself peeling an extra carrot for him. When we come home there is no one jumping up to greet us. At bedtime we find we miss that happy jingle of his dog tags as he ran up the stairs after us. We have his collar with tags hanging by our kitchen door. Sometimes it jingles from an air current; sometimes we give it a jingle for old time's sake. But whatever the reason, the tinkling sound evokes all the fond memories of life with Zip. He truly was the life of our party.

Past Post: My dog got mail!

*I was cleaning out our dog folder yesterday and came across Walter's original "Companion Profile" pet assessment from W.H.S. It gave specific instructions of how to deal with him. It stated he jumped up for attention but then settled down, liked to chew and play with toys, was a friendly happy little guy, was confident and outgoing, and marked. (He did improve on the marking problem.) All of those observations proved true, even to the end.

If you are thinking of adopting a dog, I recommend the Wisconsin Humane Society or any other group that screened their dogs for personality problems. That way, at least you have some idea of what you are in for. Not disclosing past problems proved to be a fatal mistake in Willie's case. He really needed a more experienced household.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Video of rescued baby hummingbird has to make you smile!

If you need a lift today, watch this enchanting home video of a young man and baby hummingbird that survived an attack. It will make you smile. The song playing in the background is "Better Together".

Hummingbirds are remarkable little animals. I always enjoy watching them when they visit my flower garden at home. Maybe my fascination is genetic? My dad used to spend hours watching and filming hummingbirds when my parents went camping.

When my husband and I camped at Wyalusing State Park in 2009 (near the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers in Wisconsin), we enjoyed watching the hummers swarm around the flowers and feeders at the ranger station. But their group of hummingbird diners can't compare with the number of hummers in the following video.

This video is of people hand feeding the birds in Alaska at the Saltery Lodge.

The link also contains some facts about hummingbirds and tips on feeding them.

So if you like hummingbirds as much as I do, start planning your hummingbird feeding station for next year! Since I don't like to mess with the feeders, my strategy is to provide flowers they like to feed on such as Bee-balm and Phlox. (If they are hungry enough, they don't seem too fussy; I saw them drink from the blossoms of Lambs Ears.)

Related links:

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Veterans Day, say thank you to a soldier today

Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside "to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans." So today, if you know a Veteran, be sure to say thank you for your service. I also think it appropriate to say thank you to those currently serving their country.

The USO offers a very easy way to express your thanks today up until Thanksgiving. All you have to do is click the link and send a message. You can designate who you want it to go to: active duty, veteran, family, etc. (They wouldn't mind a donation to the USO too.)

For people of my vintage and older, Veterans Day used to be known as Armistice Day and was celebrated on November 11th to mark the day World War I ended in 1918.

The website gives a great history of the holiday along with an explanation of the purpose of Memorial Day. There is a lot of confusion regarding the Armistice Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

In a nutshell, Armistice Day was a day "dedicated to the cause of world peace" and to honor those who served in WWI. Then in 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a day to honor vets of all wars. However, the purpose of Memorial Day was to honor those "who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle". Deceased veterans who died as a result of natural causes are to be remembered on Veterans Day, as evidenced by the field of flags at many cemeteries.

So THANK YOU, Veterans, your service to our country is appreciated.

Past Veteran's Day Posts: Thank you, Veterans, for the final salute
Thank you and God bless you Veterans and enlisted troops
My Favorite Marine--Thank You Veterans!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Thank you & God bless you Veterans and enlisted troops

This post was originally posted on November 11, 2008

Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor those who have served in the armed forces. My father, pictured right, served in the Marine Corps in WWII.

From President Bush's proclamation: (My emphasis)

From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our Nation's ideals, rescued millions from tyranny, and helped spread freedom around the globe. America's veterans answered the call when asked to protect our Nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists, and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our Nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. ...

Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom's defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty, and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

If you want to know what that kind of valor looks like, Talk show host Mark Levin spoke to Sgt. Josh, an American soldier in Afghanistan last night. Listen to this clip from 11/10 (it is at the 66:45 mark toward the end.)

Sgt. Josh's life was saved by a fellow soldier, Sgt. Brandon Zizala, who gave his life in the process. Sgt. Josh retold the incident that while fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda fighters, Zizala saved his life. Sgt. Brandon Zizala has since been awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his bravery.

Sgt. Josh also told of another buddy who was injured and given the option to return home. His buddy chose instead to return to Afghanistan. The Commander in Chief-elect described Americas presence in Afghanistan much differently. I think it will be difficult for some of our troops to serve the new commander, but being the honorable men and women they are, they will.

Our Veterans deserve our thanks. Our current troops need our prayers too. I have a few on my list that I try to pray for every day. Some I know, some I have never met. During the presidential campaign I added 3: Sarah Palin's son Track, John McCain's son Jimmy, and Joe Biden's son Beau to my list. I pray for their protection, that they would have wisdom to act honorably and recognize danger, and that God would draw them to Himself and keep them spiritually strong.

A thank you and prayer do not cost us anything, yet those two things could make a difference to our soldiers.

You might celebrate the day by watching a movie about America's fighting forces. These are just a few of my favorites: Glory- Civil War, Sergeant York-WWI, The Lost Battalion- also WWI (warning, great story, but very bloody), and The Tuskegee Airmen- WWII. All great stories about incredible men, available at the library.

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Save the herbs

Last year, I decided I would try to save a few herb plants over the winter in the house.

My experiment was 2 fold: to have some fresh herbs over the winter months and to save the price of buying the plants again the next summer.

So I dug up the plants from my garden and plunked them into a 3 Cup container. (Larger would have been better.)

Outside of placing them in a sunny location (east exposure) and watering occasionally, that was the extent of the tender loving care I gave them.

While they didn't exactly thrive, they did survive. The photo was taken last spring just before putting them back in the garden. They also supplied me with fresh rosemary and the occasional spearmint leaves. The creeping thyme I found did not need to be wintered in the house; it survived outside just fine.

This year I brought in the rosemary and mint again, and I will try a pot of parsley too.

My other gardening experiment this year will be to move a parsley patch close to my back door and cover with a translucent plastic bin when the temperatures head to the teens and lower. Between the warmth radiating from the south side of the house and the hardiness of parsley, I should have fresh parsley for Thanksgiving stuffing and other culinary delights all winter long.

So what do you have to lose? The weather should still hold for today and tomorrow. Get out the trowel and save those herbs!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Walker, Johnson & Vukmir win was my political Triple Crown!

It isn't often I have had a night like Tuesday night; all 3 of my major candidates won. It was rather like winning the Triple Crown!

In horse racing, the Triple Crown is considered to be a great accomplishment: it is one horse winning 3 important races.

My political Triple Crown was having all 3 of my candidate choices win their individual race for Wisconsin Governor, United States Senator, and State Senator!

In addition to my trio of winners, there were sure thing winners such as Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and unopposed 14th Assembly Representative Dale Kooyenga. That means for the first time that I can remember, most of my representatives are true Conservatives!

The faithful were gathered at the Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee, watching election returns on the big screen, while we waited for Governor elect Scott Walker to show up. As they called each Republican gain from all those national races for Governor, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and our statewide races for State Senate and Assembly, the crowd grew more excited. It was wonderful, way too hot and crowded, but wonderful just the same.

We all cheered when Ron Johnson was projected to be the winner of the U.S. Senate race. Since Johnson and Walker's numbers were much the same all evening, there was little doubt of the outcome of the Governor's race.

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch warmed up the crowd, and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner spoke too. Finally, it was the moment we all had been waiting for.

The crowd went wild when soon to be Governor Scott Walker came out. After a Happy Birthday serenade and him quipping this would be a tough birthday to top, he got serious and said, "First of all, I want to thank God. Not for this victory but for His grace to all of us..." The crowd heartily agreed. He also introduced the new slogan that would mark the Walker administration: Wisconsin is Open For Business.

The crowd thinned out a bit after that but the 3rd race of my Triple Crown still was not decided. While Scott Walker and Ron Johnson were ahead all evening, Leah Vukmir's returns seemed to take forever to come in. The first ones were worrisome, showing Sullivan at 61% and Vukmir at 39%, though I couldn't imagine that ever happening! (Closer scrutiny revealed only 8% of the vote was in--it must have all been from Milwaukee County.)

There was also a problem with some ballots in one district in Brookfield--the Vukmir/Sullivan race wasn't included. The problem was resolved but not before 20 voters had already cast their ballots without the 5th District State Senate race on it. Thankfully, those votes were not needed, and by the end of the evening, Leah Vukmir had won with 54% of the vote to Jim Sullivan's 45%.

For comparative number crunching from the vote totals I was able to find*, Leah Vukmir received 36,852 votes to Sullivan's 33,702, for a total of 70,554 votes. Back in 2006, Sullivan received 36,148 to Tom Reynolds' 33,686 for a total 69,834 votes. So this election had a higher turnout of 726 voters. (Make that 746 if those Brookfield ballots had had the State Senate race on them?) Vukmir's margin was higher too with her earning 3,150 more votes than her opponent Sullivan. Compare that to Sullivan's 2006 margin of 2,462 votes over Reynolds. So Leah Vukmir's win was 688 votes stronger than Sullivan's 2006 victory where he captured 50.6% of the vote.

Our nation and state still have a long way to go to reversing our debt load, reducing the size of government, and restoring our liberty, but at least the first step of that journey has been taken.

Just be aware, we cannot go back to business as usual, ignoring what goes on in Madison and Washington D.C. As I often say, a Constitutional Republic does not run on autopilot! Going to a Tea Party, calling your Congressman, or going to a Town Hall is not a one time thing. It is up to us to keep those we elect accountable to us. But for now, I am breathing a sigh of relief and as JT Harris said on Monday, I'm thanking God for this one more chance to turn this around.

*Some sources quote the percentages as being 52% - 48%, which works out with the vote totals presented here. Other sources state the percentages as 54% to 45 or 46% with no vote totals. Regardless, Vukmir won!

Links: Practically Speaking, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation

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