Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


Point of Know Return

Welcome Wayne Thompson! Wayne is my cousin, and buddy who used to ride bikes with me at his home in Lexington Kentucky, aBikesnd explore the woods when he came to visit us in Cincinnati. Our lives have gone in many directions over this last 50 years, but it’s nice to be on the same path again. These thoughts of his were inspired by my last post, Both Sides Now.


I find myself having nostalgia attacks more frequently these days, and your post sparked yet another one. Born in 1950, the 70’s were my 20’s. For me, it was a memorable decade marked by a slow drift from, and sudden turn back toward the Christian faith of my childhood. And through it all, for better or worse, pop music was center stage. The 70’s produced iconic bands that influenced me greatly – Kansas, Rock-and-roll1.jpgStyx, Eagles, Queen, Journey, Doobie Brothers, Jackson Browne, etc. In 1977, at the height (or depth) of my years as a Wayward Son, the new Kansas album, “Point of Know Return” Kansas_-_Point_of_Know_Returnbrought goose bumps as I realized nearly every song was about Christ or Christianity. What?! My favorite rock band, Kansas, was secretly an underground Christian group!? My worlds collided. I turned a corner. And I have been sailing toward that point of Know return ever since. Other bands’ songs now took on a Christian perspective for me, like Styx “Show Me the Way” and “Come Sail Away”. Music is a powerful force in our culture – for good or bad. h07-cross_sunset-10We’ve seen Joni’s clouds from both sides now, experienced Stevies’s landslide, cried with Don on that starry starry night, and walked along the road with Dan. But in the end, it’s only Jesus that can rescue us from becoming nothing more than dust in the wind.




Both Sides Now


I heard John singing in the kitchen as he did the dishes.

“I’ve paid my dues. Time after time.  I’ve done my sentence, but committed no crime. And bad mistakes – I’ve made a few. I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, but I’ve come through…”

What in the world???

gift wrapWe usually do the dishes together, but tonight I had asked him if he would do them while I finished wrapping the Christmas presents. He had seemed willing – even glad to do them…but now he was singing this unknown song full of angst.  “…it’s been no bed of roses. No pleasure cruise. I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain’t gonna lose.”

I walked the few steps into the kitchen. “What are you singing?”

QueenJohn grinned and brandished the dishtowel. “We are the champions – my friends. And we’ll keep on fighting till the end. We are the champions. We are the champions. No time for losers…’cause we are the champions of the world!”

Of course I had heard that chorus dozens of times, but I don’t think I ever listened to the verses. I was that very awkward young girl with my nose stuck in a book, sometimes listening to Simon and Garfunkel, or Chad and Jeremy.

Queen_GuinevereBack when John was going to see Queen in concert, the only queens I knew of were Guinevere and Galadriel, and some of their sisters who ruled England.

The dishes finished, John came and sat beside me on floor and pulled out his i-phone.

“Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise

Playing in the street gonna be a big man some day

You got mud on your face You big disgrace

Kickin’ your can all over the place


We will, we will rock you. We will, we will rock you.”

We sat watching Queen, followed by Kansas, Charlie Daniels Band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I’ve always told John that when I was younger and he was cooler, I would have been so shy I would have walked across the street to avoid coming in contact with him and his very cool group of friends.

He would not have said anything mean or flirty (I don’t think). He was cool but he was also kind. The point is, he wouldn’t have paid any attention to me.

So John was busy being cool and hanging out, and I was busy being cautious and hiding out. But somehow we met in the middle.

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,

From up and down, and still somehow

It’s cloud illusions I recall.

I really don’t know clouds at all.”

Okay Joni Mitchell, we’ve seen both sides now, and you were right. We really don’t know clouds. But we have learned that God had a bigger plan than either of ours. “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.


Perfect Soft-boiled Eggs

Which came first – the turkey or the egg? In this case it was the turkey.

It was the morning after Thanksgiving and we were dribbling into John’s parents’ kitchen in search of our traditional breakfast fare – leftover turkey dressing, or maybe a slice of Grandma Ginny’s soon-to-be-world-famous apple pie.

But I had something different in mind: An egg.  Last summer when we were on vacation at Lake Tahoe, my father-in-law demonstrated “the perfect soft-boiled egg”. He had a new method he had learned from some expert chef with years of experience in test kitchens. I watched him do it, but there were a few gaps in my memory and I needed a refresher course.

This time I decided to take notes and pictures, and now I will never forget Grandpa Frank’s perfect soft boiled egg method. (With due credit to that unnamed chef who worked all those long hours with uncounted eggs in the test kitchens.)

You can do any number of eggs at the same time. That’s what’s nice.DSCN8338

Put about a half inch of water in the bottom of a pot and bring it to a boil.

DSCN8341While the water is coming to a boil, run a little warm water over the eggs so they’re not super cold. (If they’re too cold there’s a risk that they will crack when they come in contact with the boiling water.)

DSCN8347When the water is boiling, put the eggs in. The water will not cover the eggs. Put the lid on the pot and let the eggs boil (or steam) for exactly 6 minutes.

That’s it!

Run the eggs under cold water for about 30 seconds, which will stop the cooking process, but will keep the eggs hot.DSCN8348

DSCN8351Grandpa Frank advised that we should put the toast down in the toaster when the eggs were at 4 minutes. That way the toast and eggs would both be ready at the same time.

DSCN8354Voila! Every one of the eggs was soft-boiled to perfection!

So which came first? The turkey, of course. But I am thankful for this foolproof way to make a perfect soft-boiled egg!


Time Travel

Yesterday, Tuesday morning, my brother and his fiancée left the Philippines to come to the United States. They arrived in Los Angeles at 6 o’clock this morning. Tuesday. 

They left on Tuesday and arrived on Tuesday, after traveling 24 hours.

Did they lose a day or gain a day?

sundialTime is a man-made concept that measures the passing of our lives. In some ways it’s artificial, but it’s all we have. 

Sometimes I think of time as segments of eternity, but I know that’s not really accurate. It hurts my head to try to figure it out! 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us God has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

In other words, we aren’t supposed to be able to figure it out. 

C.S. Lewis said, “The Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” So the important thing is to stop right now, at this Present Point, and look at your life in the context of Eternity. 

Remember, you must be present to win. 


I Feel Your Pain

pain-measurement-scale“On a scale of 1-10, how is your pain?”  I never know what to say. I have a fairly high pain tolerance, but I want to be accurate, so I stare at the little faces on the chart, and ponder.

There have been a few times in my adult life that I’ve had an infection, and let it go too far because it wasn’t hurting that much. Case in point: I’m in the middle of an ongoing dental problem right now because my tooth was hurting, but I didn’t realize how serious it was.

And then there are a lot of really sensitive people who feel pain quickly and seriously. They are “off the chart” at a place I might consider mid-range.

It seems almost arbitrary.

In addition to being asked how strong the pain is, sometimes we are asked to describe it. Is it a sharp pain? A dull ache? Throbbing? Once in a while I have something that I would describe as “an echo” of a headache. Would anyone understand what I mean by that?

jumper cablesSo I’ve been thinking how cool it would be if “they” could invent a pain machine. It might look like a set of jumper cables. The doctor would hook one side of the cable to the patient and the other side to himself, and he could feel exactly what I feel. All of the guesswork would be gone! No need to explain or translate what I mean by “an echo of the pain”. The doctor would actually feel my pain and know exactly what to do. Cut to the chase!

I think about this a lot. But the other day, as I was sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, trying to figure out how I was going to describe how my tooth was feeling, a whole new concept opened up to me. It was like when you’re doing a jigsaw puzzle and one of the pieces suddenly makes sense. In other words, a light bulb went on in my head!

knew no sinThis idea of personally experiencing the pain is pretty much the same idea God had when He “put on flesh” and came to earth as a man. The Eternal God who created all of us made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!

I don’t want to oversimplify the Incarnation, but in reality God became man; and part of the reason was so that He could personally experience the things we experience as human beings. The pain, the frustration, the rejection and heartbreak… Hebrews 4 says “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”

When I talk to God I don’t need to ponder a pain chart and make a guess somewhere between 1 and 10. We are actually hooked up and He knows exactly how I feel!

manger a-modern-nativity-scene-julie-rodriguez-jones (1)

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Baseball Brown Rice Salad

I could have stuck a feather in my hat and called it macaroni… The point is, I didn’t have any macaroni, and feathers get stuck in your teeth.

I had offered to take macaroni salad to a baseball barbecue birthday party the next day. So I used some good old Yankee ingenuity when I spotted a couple of cups of leftover brown rice in the fridge.

Brown Rice Salad!  (Baseball Brown Rice Salad, since we were headed to a baseball birthday party.)

It was delicious! Jim would have been proud!

Here’s how I did it:

2 cups cooked cold rice (I had brown basmati, but I think any kind of long-grain rice would work as well)

cold rice


1 cup finely diced celery

½ cup finely diced red onion

½ cup diced red pepper


1 can of black olives, drained and diced

About 8 fresh basil leaves and 8 fresh mint leaves, chopped

mint and basil

Add enough Vidalia Onion Vinegarette to moisten (about ¾ of a cup or a little more)


Salt and pepper to taste

brown rice salad

What could be more American than Baseball, Birthdays, and Brown rice salad? It was a home run hit!

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Three Men in a Hof Brau

Carving a turkeyI thought about Jim the other day as I was picking the last details of meat off a chicken carcass. I can still see his long-fingered hands at work with that boning knife. Jim  never wasted a scrap of food in the kitchen. His frugality and culinary tricks made such an impression on me, that I have practiced some of his lessons for more than 40 years.

Hof Brau lineJim was the head chef – the only chef, I think – at the Hof Brau where I worked. Mostly I sat on a stool at the end of the counter and ran the cash register. Jim sliced roast beef and turkey onto plates or sandwiches as customers made their selections. Between the two of us we served salads and side dishes.

Jim stood well over six feet – a white pillar in his long chef’s apron and tall hat. I remember that he was quiet and kind, with an incredibly lined, and character-filled face.

roast bonesWhen it was slow I would watch with fascination as he carefully removed turkey skin, or a sliver of pastrami fat, and placed them in a “scrap pan” which he kept in a little fridge under the counter. Those scraps were later roasted and made into the most flavorful soups and au jus.french dip
I often thought of how much Jim’s frugality helped the restaurant’s bottom line. Everything was tasty and servings were generous, but there was not a bit of waste in that place.

That had to make Mike happy. Mike was the owner, and he ran a “tight ship”. (Those were actually his very words, which is kind of funny as you will soon find out.) The place was always gleaming. Mike’s eagle eye was everywhere as he strolled from table, to table joking and slapping regular customers on the back. He personally checked in the deliveries and took readings from the cash register. Sometimes I heard him ranting and berating the dishwashers and busboys in the kitchen, but we all admired his fairness and managerial skill.

mutt_and_jeff_7270In appearance Mike was as opposite to Jim as Mutt was to Jeff. He was about my height – a little over 5 feet. He was dark-haired and dark eyed, always elegant and impeccably groomed in a jacket and tie. And he had a peg leg. How that man could move on that peg leg was a wonder to me! Yes, he had a peg leg, and ran a tight ship, but you could not imagine anyone more unpirate-like.

peg legI remember one Monday morning when he told me about his weekend of snow skiing. I couldn’t believe it! Since then “mono skiing” has become more common, but in 1972 I had never imagined such a thing! That was my first personal encounter with someone who overcame a so-called physical disability. That small round man was a marvel of discipline and slope

A few feet from my stool at the end of the food line, the bar ran perpendicular down the length of the room. And behind the bar was Bob, who looked like a movie star. Actually he was handsome, but not so handsome that you would be uncomfortable. Just a very nice-looking man with a ready smile, and an other-centered attitude. He never flirted with me but he always made me feel like he had been waiting all weekend to hear what I did on my two days off. People would sit at the bar and talk and talk, and Bob would nod or smile. If his shift had not started yet, people would invariably ask me if I knew what time he would be in. There were a couple of other bar tenders, but everybody liked Bob.listening bar tender

Now, standing well within the second half of my life, I’ve been thinking about the people and events that have shaped me into the woman I’ve become. I’m probably older than Jim or Mike or Bob were when I knew them, but I’m thankful for Bob’s example of listening; and Mike’s lessons in overcoming and working for excellence; and Jim’s awesome kitchen talents. Life lessons from three men in a Hof Brau.

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Saint Paddy’s Day Pizza – The Eating o’ the Green

I thought this was worth a rerun – a nice change if you’re not a fan of corned beef and cabbage!

Paladini Potpie

Homemade Pizza has been a Thursday Night tradition in our home for as long as we’ve been married. In my pizza night post last May, I told you all three of our kids had jobs at either Round Table or Mountain Mike’s when they were in their teens. And now they all make their own homemade version.

Well David has taken that to a whole new level.

He took a Saint Paddy’s Day Pepper and Pesto Pizza to work today for their office potluck.  Celebrating his true Italian and Irish heritage.

He called us late last night from his “test kitchen” and told us about the project, and we laughed so hard.  The nut…er shamrock…doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

David’s Pesto Pepper Pizza

All you need for the crust is 1 Tablespoon yeast, 1 ½ cup warm water, 2 teaspoon salt, and about 4 cups of flour. And a little oil and green food…

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March Forth to Carrot Cake

If it’s true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach then this carrot cake might be the main reason John and I have been married for 32 years.  I made it for his birthday on March Fourth, a few weeks after we met. And I’ve made it for his birthday every year since!

It’s pretty easy and very delicious! – and it freezes well even with the icing. (If there is any left!)


Preheat oven to 325°

Grease and flour two 8” round pans, and cut a circle of wax paper to fit on the bottom of each pan.

Cake ingredients:

¾ cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

2 cups shredded carrots

1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

½ cup raisins  (optional)


 Beat eggs, oil and sugar

Mix in flour and other dry ingredients

Fold in carrots, nuts and raisins

 Divide batter into the two pans and bake at 325° for about 30 minutes.

(Cakes are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.)


Cool cakes until they are room temperature. (Peel off the waxed paper while they are still warm.)

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.  (This is the best part!)

Frosting ingredients:

1 stick butter at room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

1 pound (or a little less, depending on your taste) confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Frost thickly between the layers and all over the top and sides of the cake.

This is the hardest part for me – it’s difficult to not just sit down and eat this right out of the bowl!

Happy Birthday John!

March forth!


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David and Amanda’s Twelve Days of Christmas – a love story

I wrote this three years ago, but felt it was worth a second telling. The little family has grown to three children. They still have the coopful of chickens and the song in their heart is even stronger.

Paladini Potpie

No partridges, or calling birds or French hens, but on the first day of Christmas her true love gave her a dozen roses.

David was Amanda’s “true love”.  She had loved him since they were in the five-year-olds class at church. In fact, Amanda’s mom, Dora, remembers the exact night her daughter fell in love. Amanda came home from church with her eyes aglow over “the nice boy in the bow tie” who let her use his blue crayon during craft time.  (Yes, I did dress my little boy in a bow tie.)

Amanda says she liked him because he was nice.  As David’s mom I feel particularly blessed by this. When David was growing up he had a few heartbreaking years of dealing with “cool” boys who were mean to him. I always told him “It’s better to be nice than to be cool.”

I must have told…

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