Pecan Pie

Fall is a great time for hot cocoa and home-baked pie. Pecan pie is a southern tradition, and surprisingly easy to bake. Or better yet, combine apples and pecans for a warm, tasty treat.

Pecans are rich in vitamins and minerals. Pecans contain magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of strokes. A one-ounce serving of pecans has 2.7 grams of fiber, which improves heart and digestive health.

Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 store-bought pie crust, either pastry or graham cracker
  • 2 cups pecan halves and pieces (works best with mostly halves)
  • 1/2 cup dark Karo Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine eggs and sugar. Beat well.
  2. Add syrup, melted butter, and salt.
  3. Place the pecans into an uncooked pie crust.
  4. Pour mixture over pecans.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Pecans should rise to top and brown slightly.

For a recipe without the corn syrup, you might want to try this variation. Or for a decadent adult version, try bourbon chocolate pecan pie.

Caramel-Pecan Apple Pie:

Bake your favorite apple pie recipe. (If you don’t have a favorite, try this one.) Immediately after removing apple pie from the oven, drizzle with 1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping. Sprinkle with 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped pecans.

You don’t need to wait for a special occasion to bake a pie. You deserve dessert. So bake a pie (or two, or three). Play with the recipe. Alter it to match your own tastes.

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Edghill and Walker on the Dangers of Normalizing the Abnormal

This is a joint guest post, from writers Rosemary Edghill and the Rev. Mr. J. Walker.  Both posts are taken from their Facebook pages with their permission.

Rosemary Edghill on the Language of Political Discourse

Language and word use are my business. They are my stock in trade. And so, with utmost respect to those of you reading this, I submit what must be, when all is said and done, purely my own opinion, and in no wise an attempt to make you do something, or give up doing something, if, in your heart, you find it good. But perhaps some of you will agree with what I say, and take it as your own place to stand.

We must not allow the thugs in power to define the language of our political discourse. Do not follow the soi-disant Fourth Estate in normalizing the language we must use to speak of the usurpers and oppressors. Not “alt-right” but “white supremacist”. Not “unprepared”, but “incompetent”.

“Working together”? Call it by its true name: collaborating with the enemy. “Give him a chance”? TO DO WHAT, FOR FUCK’S SAKE? Make good on his campaign promises? REALLY? President-Elect Thugpuppet and his inner circle of sycophantic bootlickers aren’t the Merry Pranksters. They are privileged self-centered plutocrats who only want power at any price and absolute revenge on everybody they suspect of not thinking they’re as wonderful as they know themselves to be. AND THEY ARE ABOUT TO BE IN CONTROL OF THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT.

This is not a time to “hope” or “pull together” or “make it work”. This is a time to refuse to cede the bullies one inch of ground.

Including the language of public discourse.

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J. Walker on #ThisIsNotNormal

And more than anything else, the hashtag that I’ve been using for the past several days, the sentence that John Oliver begged us to remember in his post-election show, is something that you absolutely must keep in mind: #ThisIsNotNormal

The media, in an attempt to be fair, is going to try to normalize this. Watch out for that, and call them on it at every turn. It is not normal for an open anti-Semite and white nationalist to be in charge of White House strategy. It is not normal for a man rejected by a Republican panel as a federal judge in the 80s for racism to be the new attorney general. It is not normal for the children of a President to manage a multibillion dollar business on his behalf, and it is not normal for one of those children to sit in on the private first meeting between the President-Elect and the Japanese Prime Minister, nor is it normal for the same child to attempt to use a television interview with her family to promote her jewelry brand. It is not normal for a President-Elect to pay tens of millions of dollars to settle a major fraud case that involved seniors being fleeced of their life savings. It is not normal for his Vice President to openly advocate for shock treatment for LGBT youth. It is not normal, it is not, it is not, and we cannot afford to pretend otherwise for even the briefest moment.

And there’s so much more. The tweets against the New York Times and the cast of Hamilton. The fact that he didn’t ask the State Department to prep him before taking calls from foreign leaders, and the fact that these foreign leaders ended up having to call through to Trump Tower. His ditching of the press, leaving them completely in the dark as to where he was, meaning that they could not accurately inform the public of his whereabouts or safety in the case of a national emergency.

All of it.

This is very bad. It seems likely that he’s going to be trying to implement his programs in a serious of stages, hoping that we’ll be like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water, and not notice how bad things have gotten until it’s all done.

The only way to fight that is to not let him turn up the heat even a little.

We make his life and administration an utter hell for him over the next four years, or we lose our country. The next major step will be the midterms, and if and when we get even one House of Congress back, that will seriously screw things up for his larger agenda. In the meantime, though, he doesn’t get a wink of sleep.

~~~

My thanks to Rosemary Edghill and the Rev. Mr. J. Walker for permission to repost their wise words. Ms. Edghill’s The Failure of Moonlightthe Shadow Grail series, The Empty CrownDead Reckoning, and other books are available through Amazon and bookstores nationwide.  Mr. Walker is available for weddings.

A longer version of this blog appears on my HubPages account.  Remember, my children’s book R is for Renaissance Faire is available through Amazon, as is my e-book Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid.

The CREATE Initiative

“Now is the time for all good men” — and women — “to come to the aid of their country.”

For good or ill, Donald J. Trump is the president-elect.  I personally feel he is unqualified, both morally and professionally, as I have said in other articles and blogs.  However, come January he will be president of these United States, and Mike Pence, a man who is no friend to women or LGBT citizens, will be vice-president.

What can we do besides wear safety pins?  We can create.

Do you remember a book called Splinter of the Mind’s Eye?  It was a Star Wars novel, set not long after the original movie.  Luke and Leia were still getting acquainted at that point, and he asked her why someone like her, a princess and senator, became a rebel.

Princess Leia explained  she became a rebel because she “was bored. Why was she bored? Censorship of art, literature, and music led to boring art, literature, and music. Why was it censored? A story can be a parable. A painting can be a declaration. A symphony can be a manifesto. Upon finding out why she was bored, she dug deeper and became a Rebel.

We can write parables. We can perform manifestos. Sing. Compose. Write. Perform. Draw. Sculpt. Blog. Remind Americans of our better selves. Remember our rights and responsibilities as citizens, lest those rights be washed away.”

Singer/songwriter Kathy Mar has organized a KINDNESS campaign on social media and in real life, urging people to be kinder to one another. I suggest another campaign: CREATE.

Censorship is a necessary part of fascism.  However, the Internet makes censorship more difficult: it’s far easier for an ordinary person to get their message out — be it a picture, a political cartoon, an essay, a poem, or a song — today than it was in the 1930s.  We can take a pre-emptive strike against fascism by creating.

 

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” Toni Morrison

Peace pin concept by Abigail Greig, artwork by April Porter.

Cat Faber wrote a song, just as Woody Guthrie did before her.  Blind Lemming Chiffon and April Porter have designed logos.  Blind Lemming Chiffon wrote a song, too.  Songs are a traditional means of getting a message out.

Write about war and peace, why the first is bad but the other is good, and write about when war is and isn’t necessary.  Write about freedom.  Write about the heroes of our nation.  Dr. Lin-Manuel Miranda did it with Hamilton.  Jay Kuo, Marc Acito, and Lorenzo Thione did it with Allegiance, which starred George Takei.  Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, and Sheldon Harnick did it with Fiorello!  Ann Rinaldi has done it with more than 40 YA novels.  Write a poem about poet/civil rights activist Pauli Murray.  Write an essay about Eleanor Roosevelt.  Write a song about Abraham Lincoln.  Lucretia Mott, Mercy Warren, Jane Addams, Abigail Adams, Bessie Coleman, Grace Hopper, Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Ann Seton: U. S. history is full of people waiting to have their stories told.

Write fiction and tell your message in allegory.   Sing.  Sculpt.  Draw.  Film.  Blog.  Compose.  Crochet.  Make quilts.  Garden.  Don’t let Trump and Pence and their followers destroy America.  Fight back (non-violently).  Remind yourself and your children what America has been, what it can be, what it should be.  Remember.  Teach.  Hope.  Create.

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“That’s what we storytellers do.We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” Walt Disney

Read Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again” to your children.  Memorize and recite it; declaim it.  Read the Constitution.  (I’m not sure our president-elect has done so.)  Sing the Preamble song from Schoolhouse Rock.  Know what this country has been, believe what it could be, teach what it should be.

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.” H. G. Wells

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“Creative people do not see things merely for what they are; they see them for what they can be.”  Julie Israel

It is time to create. It is time to educate. It is time to preserve civilization.

 

Who Was Sophie Scholl?

November 9, 2016, was the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, as well as the day Donald J. Trump was declared president-elect of the United States of America.  That makes November 9 a good day to remember that not all Germans were Nazis, and even in the worst of situations, there are people who work to make things better.

Sophie Scholl was such a person.

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Sophia Magdalena Scholl was born 9 May 1921 in Forchtenberg am Kocher in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany.  Her father, Robert Scholl, was the mayor of  Forchtenberg am Kocher. She was the fourth of the six children of Robert and Magdalena Müller Scholl.  Sophie had three sisters and two brothers, and she lived a happy, normal childhood.  When she was nine, her family moved to Ludwigsburg.  They moved to Ulm when she was eleven. When she was  twelve, she joined the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), which was the female auxiliary of the Hitler Youth.  She soon became disappointed in the organization.

As the daughter of a liberal politician, she learned her father and his friends did not always agree with the government.  Sophie enjoyed art.  She met what were called “degenerate” artists, modern artists whose work was frowned upon by the Nazi government.  As she grew older, Sophie, who was raised a devout Lutheran, became interested in theology and philosophy.  She read the sermons of  Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, the Roman Catholic bishop of Münster.

Sophie wanted to attend the University of Munich, where her older brother Hans was a student.  According to German law at the time, Sophie had to work six months in the Reichsarbeitsdienst (National Labor Service) before she could be admitted to the university.  She did not like the paramilitary lifestyle of the National Labor Service, nor the Nazi indoctrination which was such a large part of it.

At the University of Munich, Sophie studied biology and philosophy.  Her brother Hans was the founder of a student group called the White Rose that was opposed to the war and to the Nazi regime.  The White Rose wrote pamphlets and graffiti urging passive resistance to Nazi policies.  Sophie ignored her brother’s protests and joined the White Rose.  As a young woman, she was less suspicious to the  authorities, which made it easier for her to distribute the pamphlets.  The pamphlets had such messages as:

”Nothing is so unworthy of a nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by a clique that has yielded to base instinct…Western civilization must defend itself against fascism and offer passive resistance, before the nation’s last young man has given his blood on some battlefield.”

Wehrkraftzersetzung was a crime in the eyes of the Nazis. It means “negatively affecting the fighting forces.” People who expressed doubts about Germany’s chances of winning the war, or about Hitler’s leadership were arrested for Wehrkraftzersetzung.  Robert Scholl was arrested for calling Hitler “God’s scourge” on Germany.  Naturally, the Nazi government disapproved of the White Rose and their writings, and attempted to find them.

February 18, 1943, Sophie, her brother Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst were arrested for distributing anti-war leaflets. They were tried February 21, 1943, and executed February 22, 1943.  Sophie told the judge, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.”

Although Sophie Scholl is almost unknown in the USA, she is remembered as a martyr and a heroine in Germany and widely respected in Europe.  Scottish folk singer George Donaldson of Celtic Thunder wrote a song about Sophie Scholl called “The White Rose.”  British punk band Zatopeks also recorded a song called “Sophie Scholl” and the French rock band Mickey 3D recorded a song called “La Rose Blanche.”  In Germany there are many schools and streets named in her memory.

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943)

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Remember Sophie Scholl, and do what you can to work for peace and justice.

Tammy Grimes, Broadway’s Molly Brown and The Last Unicorn’s Molly Grue, Dead at 82

Actress-singer Tammy Grimes died Sunday, October 30, 2016, in Englewood, New Jersey. She was 82.  Her theatrical career spanned — and soared — over half a century.  Her two most celebrated roles were as the unsinkable Molly Brown on Broadway and as the voice of Molly Grue in the animated feature The Last Unicorn.

Tammy Grimes was a star of the legitimate theater, but far from unknown in movies, television, cabaret performances, and doing voice-overs.  She recorded several record albums.  She won two Tony Awards, one for originating the role of Molly Brown on Broadway, a part Debbie Reynolds played in the movie version, and one for starring in Noël Coward’s play Private Lives.  She also won an Obie Award for her performance in Clerambard and a Theatre World Award for her work in Look After Lulu!  She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2003.

Tammy Grimes worked with a variety of co-stars and playwrights.  Noël Coward discovered her in a New York cabaret, and insisted she star in several of his plays.  She performed in plays by William Shakespeare and Neil Simon.  She guest-starred on TV shows as diverse as Love American Style, Route 66, The Danny Kaye Show, Tarzan, The Love Boat, and The Young Riders.  She turned down the chance to play Samantha Stevens on Bewitched (a role which went instead to Elizabeth Montgomery) to concentrate on her stage career.

Tammy Grimes acted in mystery, horror, and comedy movies, co-starring over the years with David McCallum, Eddie Albert, William Shatner, Steve Guttenberg, Bernadette Peters, Muppets, mice, and unicorns.

Her fantasy/science fiction roles include:

  • Mrs. Pinder in The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973)
  • Homily Clock in The Borrowers (1973)
  • Albert in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)
  • Narrator in The Lord of the Rings (radio version, 1981)
  • Molly Grue in The Last Unicorn (1982)
  • Catrina in My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina (1985)

Because of her aristocratic accent, she was often cast to play royalty or nobility.  Like Katherine Hepburn, Tammy Grimes was taught to speak in the Mid-Atlantic Accent, the American version of British Received Pronunciation beloved by Hollywood, in a girls’ boarding school.

  • Lady Joan Mellon in Arthur? Arthur! (1969)
  • Princess in The Practical Princess (1980)
  • Princess in The Incredible Book Escape (1980)
  • Queen Mother Estelle in Royal Match (1985)

Although many fans assumed she was British because of her accent, Tammy Grimes was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on January 30, 1934. She attended Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where she was taught to speak with a Mid-Atlantic Accent, the American version of the British Received Pronunciation that was so popular in Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1950s. She graduated from Stephens College, an all-female school in Columbia, Missouri, before going to New York City to pursue an acting career.

Tammy Grimes was thrice married, twice to actors and once to a composer.  Her marriages to actor Christopher Plummer, CC, and Jeremy Slate were brief, ending in divorce.  Her marriage to composer Richard Bell lasted from their wedding in 1971 to his death in 2005.  She had only one child, award-winning actress Amanda Plummer.  She is survived by her daughter, her brother Nick Grimes, and her nephew Duncan MacArthur.

Tammy Lee Grimes (January 30, 1934 – October 30, 2016)  RIP