Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


Flying Blind

As they say…perception is not always reality. Sometimes we can’t believe our eyes. Sometimes we can. Sometimes we can’t believe our feelings. Sometimes we can. If we believe what we shouldn’t believe…we just might go into a tailspin.

That’s why I hung a toy airplane from our kitchen ceiling about 15 years ago.  The little plane hangs upside down as a warning about the danger of spatial disorientation.

Spatial disorientation is the inability to correctly interpret aircraft altitude or airspeed in relation to the earth or point of reference. Spatial disorientation is a condition in which an aircraft pilot’s perception of direction does not agree with reality.   (Wikipedia)

In other words, an airplane pilot can be flying along just fine; keeping an eye on the horizon. He knows exactly where he is and what his plane is doing.  But if he loses sight of the horizon for some reason – say a heavy fog rolls in or a storm comes up – the pilot loses his point of reference and can become disoriented.

With no accurate point of reference, up can feel exactly like down and vice versa.  Feeling as if he is operating the plane very skillfully and gaining altitude, the pilot can drive it straight into the ground.  He would not know, until too late, that his perception was wrong – his feelings lied to him.

A pilot who is flying blind because of weather or darkness needs to know how to fly using his instrument panel. He can’t rely on his feelings. Only the instrument panel will provide accurate data about how to proceed.

This funny little video  from AOPA  illustrates the dangers of flying blind.

So the toy plane hangs in our kitchen, reminding us not to act on our feelings alone.

We got this idea years ago from an old “Moody Science Classics” video, but we’ve talked about it a lot over the years since John and Monica both took ground school and flight training and Monica is now a licensed pilot. It’s a perfect illustration.

The bible is our instrument panel as we go through life.  It’s God’s word to all humans, and it addresses every wind of circumstance, cloud of sorrow, and storm of adversity we fly into. It even gives directions about how to proceed on a bright sunny day. 

It’s important to be familiar with the bible, the instrument panel, but a lot of people would rather fly by feelings – perceived facts.

Even Christians who believe the bible… even me. 

So often I forget, and sway under discouragement, or go into a little tailspin of worry. Then with relief I remember my control panel – the words designed by my Maker who knows the complete flight plan of our lives.

That’s why I hung that little airplane in my kitchen.



Chinese New Year 粥,

The Chinese characters are 粥, or 粥 – ([ tɕuk]) It’s pronounced juk or jook. It’s also called congee or rice porridge. 

Since January 23 was the first day of the Chinese New Year, and I celebrated by making it  for the ladies who come to my bible study.  I got the recipe from my friend Karen, who is Chinese; and although there are no Asian ladies in our bible study group, everybody loved it! 

This was really an adventure and a bit of a challenge for me. I wanted it to be very authentic.  The recipe had some ingredients and procedures I wasn’t familiar with, but I followed Karen’s recipe closely and asked her a lot of questions and it turned out great! 

1 turkey carcass including skin and bones.

1 onion, peeled and cut in half

3 stalks of celery

3 green onions

A bunch of cilantro, washed but not chopped

A thick slice of fresh ginger (I used about an inch)

A few pieces of dried orange peel

6 quarts of water

1 tablespoon sesame oil

8 dried shitake mushrooms

Several sheets of flat-style dried bean curd

3 cups rice

turkey chunks, chopped cilantro, chopped green onions and shredded lettuce for garnish.


Place the turkey carcass, bones, skin – everything – in a large soup pot

Add celery, onions, green onions, ginger, cilantro and orange peel.

Add 6 quarts water

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer a long time. (I let mine simmer for 8 hours)

Strain the broth through a sieve and refrigerate overnight.

Wet the rice and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Place shitake mushrooms in about 2 cups of water and allow them to rehydrate overnight

The next day remove fat from the top from the broth. 

Add water if needed to make 6 quarts of broth. (You may use the water you used to rehydrate the mushrooms.

Place the broth and wet rice in large soup pot and bring to a boil.

Chop mushrooms and add them to the pot.

Add broken pieces of dried bean curd to the pot.

Add sesame seed oil.

Bring to a boil and then lower heat.  Simmer for at least 2 hours.  The rice will partially dissolve to a thick porridge.

Serve with chunks of turkey, chopped cilantro, thinly shredded lettuce, and chopped green onions.   You should place any of these in the bottom of the bowl and the ladle in the juk.  Add more for garnish.

Thanks Karen!  新年快樂  (Happy New Year!)


It’s All Gravy!

“Remind me to never eat gravy again!”  Monica’s face was a picture of horror as she listened to me explain my gravy-making method to David. He had asked for the recipe because he was having his friends over for a turkey dinner one evening between Christmas and New Years.  

As the daughter of a self-proclaimed Kentucky Hillbilly, I’ve eaten plenty of gravy. I know it doesn’t exactly qualify as health food, but  a few times a year — it’s a delicious treat. 

And according to reports, all of David’s friends — including Monica — ate it and liked it!

Here’s my tasty, almost fool-proof way to make it.

Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and set the roasting pan right on the stovetop burner.  My pan covers two burners and I turn on both of them.

I usually have about 2 cups of drippings in the pan when I make a big turkey, and I use them all.  Turn the burners on high.

2 cups drippings

2/3 cups flour

About 4 cups water – *cool or room temperature.

Chicken bouillon to taste

Add 1/3 cup of flour to 1 cup of water and shake very vigorously. (This helps assure that there won’t be lumps.) 

Pour the mixture into the drippings, and stir.

Repeat with the other third cup of flour and cup of water.

Add 2 cups water.

Allow the gravy to bubble on high, stirring occasionally.  (I’ve never had it burn or boil over.)

As it begins to thicken, the flour and water will absorb the fat.  If it still looks oily after it has thickened, you can add another cup of flour and water and let it cook a bit longer.

At some point you can taste it and see if you need to add a little more flavor by adding a a bit of chicken bouillon. (I use Organic “Better Than Bouillon” which is available at Costco)

And that’s it!  Good old “down home” gravy.  Absolutely unhealthy but absolutely yummy!


Time in a Rain Barrel

I was reading the funnies yesterday and “The Other Coast” had a comic about some people catching rainwater in a barrel from the gutter of their roof.  A squirrel had washed into the barrel. (That was the joke.)

As I looked at the panel I was carried back to my Ohio childhood, when my dad rigged up a barrel to catch rainwater.  We lived out in the country and our water was held in a cistern. We had to have water delivered in a big pump truck every few months, so we considered the rain barrel a smart economic move.

The picture in the comic actually looked like a caricature of our house and rain barrel, so it didn’t seem that funny to me. But it brought out some wonderful reminiscing.

We also ate squirrels that my dad shot in our woods, but to my knowledge we never caught one in the rain barrel.

Looking at the comic, I wondered how old Adrian Raeside is. Drinking rainwater and eating squirrel just didn’t seem that odd to me.  And then suddenly it hit me — I was shocked to realize my rainwater barrel and squirrel eating days were 50 years ago!

More than 50 years actually.  Gulp!

I remember so many conversations with our good friend Peggy Kilmer, who was in her nineties.  Peggy would laughingly sigh and say, “Sometimes I catch sight of myself in a mirror and say ‘Who is that old lady?’ I still feel the same as I ever did.”

Miss Peggy, I can relate!

One of my favourite songs is Jim Croce’s haunting Time in a Bottle… “But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them…”

This is true, but more to the point I love C.S. Lewis’s thoughts about time.  We live in time and it’s all we really know, but we’re always shocked at the passage of time. (I can hardly believe my grandson already three years old!)  Lewis says it’s because we know, deep down, that we’re not supposed to get old and die. God made us for a timeless existence.  Our natural element is eternity.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has set eternity in our hearts…that none of us can fathom what all he has done, and that he makes everything beautiful in its time.  Wow!

So with eternity set in my heart, I’m going to remind myself of one more thing C.S Lewis said. The present – right now – is the point at which time touches eternity. So I want to make the most of this eternal moment! Carpe Diem!


A Mark, a Yen, a Buck or a Pound

I don’t know where it originated, but my my cousin in Scotland sent me this economics analysis.  I must have laughed for 20 minutes…then I started to cry.  Now all I can do is pray.

Her story is based in Greece but maybe we can all relate.

It is a slow day in a little Greek village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough; everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a £100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the £100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the £100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the £100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the £100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna.

The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit.

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the £100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the £100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the £100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.


Reflecting the Christmas Spirit

“Peace on earth…good will to men” – How many times do we hear these words at Christmas?  And how often do we hear stories of people who go out of their way to bless others? But this year I was particularly struck by two shining stars of good will!

In this article it’s my honor and privilege to introduce to you two young women who reflected the true spirit of Christmas with staggering generosity.

Alexandra is my 16 year old niece and in many ways she’s pretty typical.  (Her big exciting news is that she just got her driver’s license.) Along with various other family members, I had been urging Alex to give us a list of what she wanted for Christmas. She usually just smiled and didn’t say much.

Finally she sent this group message to us on Facebook: “OK, so I know you all want a Christmas list from me. Well, this is what I’ve got: This Christmas I would like you all to donate at or some kind of organization that helps people. I really have everything I need, and more. I just want to spend time with all of the people I love. I don’t need any more stuff. Please, if you give to others in need, it would bring me even more joy than opening a present on Christmas. I hope you will understand! 🙂 Merry Christmas everyone.”

Completely humbled and blessed, I went to Alex’s charity of choice and made a donation.  But I still wished there was something tangible I could give her – something she would really like, and that she could open up at our family Christmas celebration.

That’s when I was hit by the other Christmas Star!  I met Leia Clarke, who teaches a 3-year-olds’ Sunday School class at my church every week. 

At 18 years of age, Leia is a published author and illustrator. Her first novel, Trillatia, was just released at the end of November. That, in itself is amazing.  But the thing that struck me as most amazing, is that Leia is donating the proceeds from the sale of her book to Wells forGhana to provide clean water in that country.

What a perfect gift for Alex to open on Christmas! The young lady who wanted to make sure kids have enough to eat would surely share Leia’s desire to provide others with sparkling fresh drinking water.  I was so excited to buy a copy of Trillatia for Alexandra, and ask Leia to autograph it!

I hope these two, generous young women have a chance to meet some day.

On her web site Leia writes, “Remember, adventure lies everywhere for those with the proper Perspective!  ….Carpe Diem!” 

As far as I’m concerned, both Leia and Alex have the proper perspective and are seizing the day! I can’t wait to see what adventures lie in store for each of them!