Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!

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D.C. Diatribe

I stood at the Lincoln Memorial, rooted in place.  The reason I was rooted in place is because my feet were stuck to the marble floor by about four layers of spilled soda, and who-knows-what-else. 

It was a far cry from the shining monument Mr. Smith visited when he went to Washington. It was even a far cry from the Lincoln Memorial our family visited on Monica’s eighth grade school trip.

As I stood there facing President Lincoln I had to struggle not to cry. I was overcome by a wave of desolation and hopelessness.

I don’t base my hope on the government or Washington D.C. — Of course I don’t! But I had been looking forward to a patriotic “shot in the arm”.   All my life, my heart has lifted at the sight of our flag waving, or the sound of our national anthem being well sung or played. 

I had told Monica and Dan that I didn’t really care what kind of “touristy” things we did while we were in Maryland– it would all be fun! But the one thing I really did want to do was go to Washington D.C.  I didn’t want to tour the Smithsonian Museums because I knew there wouldn’t be time to do them justice.  I just wanted to walk around D.C and bask in the greatness of our heritage.

We did walk around D.C.  Oh yes we did!  Dan retraced our steps later on Google Maps and we walked more than seven miles around the city that afternoon. 

And speaking of walking, as we walked along I kept sort of tripping on the brick pavement.  After I had stumbled three or four times my family began to look at me askance.  Then John tripped. Then Monica.  Then we saw a man prying up bricks.  He might have been hiding a geocache, but he looked more as though he was searching for spare change.  At any rate, we finally understood that we were tripping, not so much because we’re clumsy, but because the bricks get pulled up, and then they are  not set precisely back in place.

For the most part, it was a fun day. There were great high points like the well-maintained Viet Nam Memorial and the beautiful new World War II Memorial. But the National Mall, and surrounding areas, felt like an inner city slum.  It broke my heart. 

As I looked at all the tourists from other countries I wondered what they must be thinking. 

The grass was brown and dying.  We had visited Gettysburg National Park a few days earlier and the grass was luscious and green. We went to several neighborhood parks in Maryland and the grass was rich and beautiful. The Spilmans’ own yard had a lovely lawn. But the grass on our National Mall was sparse and brown.

We stopped at a public restroom, and – not to get too graphic – it was dirtier than the worst gas station restroom I have ever been in. There was no toilet paper in any of the stalls and no paper towels, except those littering the floor. (This was the case in both the men’s and women’s rest rooms.)

Now desolation vied in my heart with anger. If there is any place in our country that should be well-cared-for, it should be our Nation’s Capitol.

Perspective returned to me as we crossed the river to the Jefferson Memorial. The grass was greener and the memorial cleaner.  My heart rose as I looked up at the statue of the man who penned so many of the great words of our American heritage. 

On the wall of The Jefferson Monument I read “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” 

America was founded on great and godly principles, and I’ve come home determined to pray for our country and our leaders; and to do what I can to work toward a return to those principles.



Mrs. Spilman’s Crab Cakes

The T-shirt had a picture of the cutest little crab in the world, but it said “I’m crabby. Leave me alone!”  I usually don’t like to see kids wearing shirts that say things like that. I never, in all my born days, thought I’d be buying such a T-shirt. But there I was – the quintessential grandma – at the counter of the Baltimore gift shop buying, not one, but three of them!

One was for baby, Nathan, and a couple for Ethan and Angelina, who will hopefully be my grandchildren someday. (Their beautiful mommy is dating Matthew.)

I promised myself that I would tell the kids the shirts are not a license to be crabby. But they seemed like the perfect souvenir of our trip.

Marylanders love crab!

I think every restaurant in the Baltimore area serves crab in one form or another. Crab chowder, crab salad, or just plain crab. I didn’t actually see “crab legs and eggs”, but I’m pretty sure it must be served somewhere!

The Chesapeake Burger, or some other version of a crab cake on a bun, was on every hamburger menu right there along with the grilled chicken burger.
I was in heaven!

One high point of our visit was when Dan went to the drive-up seafood store and bought a half  bushel of deliciously cooked, whole crabs.

We piled them on newspaper down the length of the picnic table…What a feast!

But the crabby delight didn’t end with that! All week there was a little undercurrent of anticipation because Mrs. Spilman had promised to make crab cakes on her day off. I was really excited about that, since I’d been wanting a good recipe for those delectable crustacean creations!

And I wasn’t disappointed. Mrs. Spilman’s crab cakes were the best I have ever eaten. I appreciate her sharing the recipe with me, and thanks to Robin for taking all the great pictures of the preparation.

Mrs. Spilman’s Crab Cakes

3 cups (1 lb) cooked crab (canned crab works fine.)

1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. mayonaise

1/4 cup diced green pepper

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

2 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

3/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

ground black pepper to taste

about 3 Tbsp. butter

Mrs. Spilman had planned to use any leftover crab from our crab feed, but since there was not so much as a scrap or claw left, she used the canned variety.

Shred the crab meat into fine pieces

(You may notice that the large bowl Mrs. Spilman uses to mix her crab cakes is the very same bowl we used for the game of  celebrities.)

Add all the other ingredients except butter.

Mix well.

Divide mixture into eight portions, and shape into patties. (Mrs. Spilman made a double recipe on this occasion)

Melt the butter in frying pan and begin to fry the cakes when the butter is hot.

Flatten the cakes with the back of the spatula as they cook. Fry until nicely browned and crisp.

Mrs. Spilman served her crab cakes with delicious fresh summer vegetables.

The recipe for Mrs. Spilman’s Crab Cakes is featured in our new Paper Cookbook. You may order yours with the link at the bottom of this page.

Buy yours Today. $7.95

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The Sauce Thickens: Part 3 – Delays and Detours

Our connection in Phoenix must have been one of the fastest in history.  Literally five minutes from being aboard one plane and then being aboard the other. We were the last two people to get on the plane.

I had been hopeful that our “A” numbered boarding passes would score a certain window seat, but now as the airline employee hurried us down the empty ramp I only hoped that John and I would be able to get seats together!

Clutching our belongings in front of us, we carefully edged our way down the aisle of the very full plane. We dodged elbows, and smiled or averted our eyes from the curious, sometimes sympathetic (but sometimes irritated ) faces of seated passengers.  (“For crying out loud, why can’t people get to the airport on time?”)

Every seat seemed to have been claimed.

And then – halfway between the wing and the back of the plane were two seats next to a man seated on the aisle.  (Score!)  He smiled a welcome and quickly picked up several piles of paperwork he was working on, and had spread across the empty seats beside him.

Tom is a man of Italian descent.  He’s a native of the Baltimore area, a frequent business traveler, and was a very congenial seatmate! He treated us to a glass of wine and we spent most of the flight in animated conversation. We chatted about raising kids, the Baltimore area, the work we do, religion, our mutual Catholic roots, and the Lord. It was absolutely delightful!

“We’re just about over Mount Airy  now.” Tom indicated sparse lights below us.  We would soon be landing in Baltimore, only to turn  around and drive back to the area we were now flying over. We joked about “Too bad we can’t just parachute out and be at our destination…”

Detours and delays…it’s human nature to gripe about them.  I don’t know where we would have chosen to sit if we had arrived at the Phoenix Airport on time, and entered the plane as part of the first group of passengers holding the coveted  “A” boarding passes. But I think the Lord put dibs for us on those two seats.  He has a way of orchestrating those so-called delays and detours to bring about surprising blessings.


Above the Storm

Traveling usually doesn’t go according to schedule and this trip was no exception. We left Modesto in hot morning sunshine but arrived at the San Francisco Airport under a heavy grey canopy of cloud and drizzle.  Our flight was delayed…and delayed again.  We sat on black vinyl seats exchanging grim smiles with fellow passengers, who were looking more or less irritated and nervous as time went by.

John and I didn’t mind the delay too much. We had been assured that our connection in Phoenix was also delayed. But we hated to think of  our friendspicking us up in the wee small hours of the morning. Maryland is three hours later than California.

It wasn’t a storm by any stretch of the imagination, but as we left the dark, overcast ground, and lifted skyward I couldn’t help thinking about a Scott Wesley Brown song,  Above the Storm.

The plane taxis down the runway under a cloud of gray moods and pain,

And the sun is gone, held hostage by the rain,

Then up off the ground I’m carried past the last cloud I break through my fears’

And in the golden light I lose my taste for tears. 

Up above the storm

courage revives me.

Hope comes alive in me,

high above the storm.

Lord I fly to you

and gather your strength

To rise above the storm.

The darkishness outside the plane window lightened just a little as we entered the clouds…it was like driving into wispy fog which rapidly became dense white. It was almost hard to believe, but suddenly we were shooting into pure glowing light.  Below us heaps of clouds looked solid enough to stand on, and above us was endless brilliant dark blue.

I actually caught my breath!

As the plane approached Phoenix, the clouds thinned and we could see that great city spread out below us like an endless topographic map. So many buildings and streets and cars…all the size of toys.

I’ve talked about this before – whenever I fly. I call it my airplane window lesson. The houses are the size of Monopoly houses and the streets and freeways are ribbons with little coloured beads running along them. And to think  that every one of those little beads has at least one life in it.  Each Monopoly house represents at least two or three lives. Thousands of lives spread out as far as I can see from this heavenly vantage point.  I will never know most of those people, but God knows every one of them intimately.  He is working out details in each of those lives as surely as he is working out the details in my life.

It’s something like that humbling feeling I have when I gaze into skyful of blazing stars.  “…what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

It was fun to see the Diamondbacks’ stadium with the roof open to the sky.  And that reminded me of all the traveling baseball players must do. I wondered how often their flights are delayed, and how they manage to cope with changing time zones and jet lag. We had left San Francisco in Pacific Time and – aside from the fact that Arizona doesn’t do daylight saving time – we would be changing planes in Mountain Time. One hour ahead.  That means our two-hour flight took us three hours into the future.

As we circled Sky Harbor Airport I pondered the whole concept of time zones and going backward and forward in time.  And then is struck me that just as God is above the physical world of Monopoly houses and bead-string-highways, He is outside of time – completely unhampered by those zoning restraints.  He invented it and gave it to us.

I wanted to take some time and think a lot more about that idea… But there was no time.  We had to get our luggage out of the overhead compartment and see if we were in time for our connecting flight to Baltimore!