Friday, December 25, 2015

A Year of Pinterest: Christmas Breakfast Experiment (An Early Start)

Anyone who knows me can tell you how much I love to cook...and how much I hate to measure.  I'm really a "throw it in and taste it to see what it is missing" kind of girl.

This morning's holiday breakfast was an experiment, and I had no idea if it would come out well, or if our breakfast would consist only of bacon and hash browns because the main course failed spectacularly.  Luckily, it did NOT fail.  So, to help myself remember (and because I have a feeling people will ask), here's what I did...and the changes I'll make for next time.

Crockpot Apple and Cranberry French Toast Casserole


2 loaves French or Italian bread, torn into pieces
8 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 sticks butter, cut into chunks
Ground Ginger


  1. Tear bread into chunks and put chunks into large crockpot
  2. Add apple chunks and cranberries, toss to mix well
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, adjusting spices to your personal levels of taste
  4. Pour egg mixture over bread.  Using a spatula or large spoon, gently fold bread mixture so that the bread on the top gets down into the eggs and cream, then press the whole thing down with the backof the spoon to pack it in tightly.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the bread.
  6. Distribute the butter chunks on top of the brown sugar.
  7. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, keep an eye on the edges as they will crisp up toward the end and may start to burn if not watched.
Serve with maple syrup.

Changes I'll make next time:

More apples.
More cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
More brown sugar and mix some of it with the egg mixture

All in all, quite tasty, and as it cooked overnight it was ready when we got up (and the house smelled GREAT!)

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Blessed Yule, Happy Chanukah, and any other holidays I missed! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Are the deaths worth it to you?

Multiple shooting incidents occurred today in the United States, at least two of which are classified as "mass shootings".  As many people have died from gunshot wounds in the United States in the past five weeks as have died from terrorism since 2001.  There have been more mass shootings in the United States in 2015 as of this date than there have been days in the year.

Are all of those deaths worth it to you?  Are all of those deaths worth not even having a conversation about making it harder for people to get guns?  And before you pull out the "criminals will still have access to guns" argument, let me point out that the vast majority of these shootings are committed by people who bought their guns legally.  If even one of these people had been stopped or delayed in their purchase of a firearm by a simple background check or licensing requirement, then that many more people would still be alive today.  Even ONE life saved by putting basic controls in place is worth it to me, and I don't understand why anyone would disagree with that idea.  We license cars, we require drivers tests, and yet people don't say, "Criminals still drive cars without licenses!  We should stop licensing everything!"

I honestly cannot tell you how many days I have sat in my workplace, or walked down the hall of the building I work in, and worked out in my mind different ways that I could react if someone came in looking to kill people.  I think about things like how they would get in, what direction they would likely have to come from, and where I could go to keep cover between myself and the terrorist.  I think about whether I would have the courage to try and stop them if I had the opportunity, and what weapons of opportunity I would have available to me.  I think about how likely I am to be a victim since I don't move quickly or well.  I think about the fact that my cellphone has to be kept in my locker due to federal banking regulations, so I wouldn't even get to text my husband with a goodbye, or an "I love you".

Is it worth it to you that people have to do this kind of thing?  Is it worth it that children in our schools have to have drills to teach them what to do if some terrorist comes in wielding a loaded weapon and starts killing their teachers and classmates in cold blood?  I still remember the nuclear bomb drills from when I was a child, and how the whole concept terrorized me. Do you think it will be any different for these children?  They'll always remember crouching silently in a closet, hoping it isn't real.

I do not understand the mindset that believes that basic licensing and checks equate automatically to the government coming in and stripping everyone of their guns everywhere (though, I have to admit, that idea appeals to me on days like today).  How can there be such a cut and dried view of the world.  Either this or that, and nothing in between, that is how they see it, and there is no reality where any such clean lines cut through the chaos of life.  There will always be grey areas, and there will always be exceptions to rules.

There will always be that one person who slips through despite the background check and licensing requirements.  There will always be the criminals who obtain guns on the black market.  There is no stopping that, this is true.  But I have yet to see any proof that everyone else having guns will keep our citizens safer.  Yes, there will be the one or two stories of a "good guy with a gun" who stopped the terrorist, but those stories are rare compared to the instances of people who have abused their right to own a firearm and who have made innocent people suffer and die as a result of that abuse.

These people are terrorists.  Despite the hysteria being whipped up by the rhetoric of the fear-mongers, they aren't foreigners.  They aren't immigrants.  They aren't refugees.  They are Americans, born and raised here, secure in their belief that somehow that fact protects them from the title that they have earned.  Terrorists.  Let's not call them "shooters" or "lone wolves", let's call them what they are...terrorists.

I'm tired of not even having the opportunity to have a civilized conversation about these terrorists and ways that we can limit the damage that they do.  Between the politicians that have been purchased by the NRA, the conspiracy theorists who believe that even the smallest concession to public safety is the beginnings of an attempt to force a dictatorship on them where they have no recourse because they are completely disarmed, and the hate-based rhetoric flying from all corners, the rational voices can't even be heard over the din.

How many more will have to die for us to wake up and realize what we are doing to ourselves?  How many more lives will be "worth it" before change finally happens?

I'm scared to know the answer to those questions, really.  Are you?