Saturday, March 19, 2011


Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…. 
Isaiah 40:1

 On this bright March, Saturday morning, Jim and I made our way over the mountain from our Nittany Valley into Big Valley, a haven of sort for us.  We crossed the boundaries of our everyday work days by cresting the mountains that surround us.  We drove through the Pennsylvania farmlands, breathing in sights of newly shorn lambs, grazing cattle, and freshly ploughed fields.

Driving out of town, I observed to my husband that the news weighs so heavily.  The devastation of Japan is hardly fathomable; Jim commented he feels such insult to land and home of such a dignified, honorable culture seems even harder to comprehend.  While I have watched with fascination (and a certain amount of celebration) the revolution rippling throughout the Arab world, the march toward military action in Libya feels ominous.  I dread yet one more war…. 

On the Pennsylvania home front, my profession and my vocation—education (along with all other public employees), is taking a sucker punch (and I must confess I am still finding it inconceivable that we talking this way) for the financial shortfall of my state (as well as other states nationwide).  The suggestion is to balance the budget on the backs of people who have worked hard and honorably for a living while we continue with tax breaks for business, who in many ways promulgated a gambling, lavish, live-beyond-your means ethos that literally broke the bank (okay, blantant editorializing...I know).

Yesterday, three teachers I respect all cried, the stress from a week of state testing tipping the scales of the weight caring educators bear every day. 

I need the weekend to repair a bit. And a repair kit for us in safe, secure Central Pennsylvania comes as simply as a good meal...

Saturday dinner for us is always big meal.  Matthew is home, and I enjoy planning and making a family dinner for the three of us.  Tonight I pulled out comfort food recipes—Pittsburgh Potatoes from my Nana and meatloaf from Adele Davis, one of the first cookbooks I owned as a newly engaged bride-to-be.  Ground chuck from Peachey’s in Big Valley, bacon and potatoes from Sycamore Farm in Pennsylvania Furnace, and onions, peppers, and carrots from our own CSA.  Old recipes laden with memories, local food, the light of almost spring, and family=batteries recharging, well filling up.

Comfort Food Recipes:

Pittsburgh Potatoes (from my Nana Lydia Hueston)
         (interesting…this assumes you know how to make a white sauce)

4 C. diced uncooked potatoes
small onion minced and cooked with potatoes for 5 minutes
2 C. medium white sauce ( 4 T. butter, 4 T. flour & 2 C. milk)
salt & pepper
1 C. grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ C. cracker crumbs

Boil potatoes and onions in water.  Place in baking dish.  Add cheese to white sauce.  Pour over potatoes and sprinkle with cracker crumbs.  Dot with butter.
Bake in 350º oven for 20-25 minutes.  

Meat Loaf (from Adele Davis, Let’s Cook It Right)

2 slices whole-wheat into ½ cup fresh milk

When moist, add and mix well:

1 egg
1 or 2 shredded onions
1 minced clove garlic
¼ C wheat germ
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 ½ tsp. salt (I never add salt to anything…years of cooking for a kidney dialysis patient)
2 T. chopped parsley
small onion and bell pepper chopped (I used frozen I had from summer)
1-2 grated carrots
½ teaspoon basil and freshly ground peppercorns

Mix thoroughly, preferably with fingertips.  Mold into loaf in a shallow baking dish or pack into greased loaf pan.  Sprinkle with paprika.  (I crisscrossed two strips of bacon over the top).  Bake in moderate oven at 350º for about 1 hour until temperature in center is 185º.

I only wish nourishing the body and soul of the world were as easy.

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