Sammich Pr0n

DSC_0170 (1600x1060)This is made from leftover breaded pork tenderloin that has been sliced and covered with my Awesome sauce, a handful of Italian blend shredded cheeses and then toasted on half a baguette.DSC_0180 (1600x1060)My local Kroger has a decent deli department, they have the usual cheeses and meats and a limited selection of baked goods.  This is made from a bolillo roll that they offer on occasion and is filled out with sliced ham, corned beef, and Swiss cheese – topped with slaw in a vinaigrette dressing.  I toasted the sandwich open faced to get a good melt with the cheese and a nice toasted crust on the roll before adding the slaw.DSC_0187 (1600x1060)You’ve seen most of this before, the meat filling is leftover from the gigli pasta dinner that also had some of this asiago focaccia on the side.  I put this together in the same manner as the ham and slaw sammich above.  The cheese this time is a slice of provolone that seemed more in keeping with the theme.

Pasta Pr0n – Campanelle aka Gigli

DSC_0183I had a little bit of this left over for a while and it seemed to be just enough for two.  The meat sauce is Italian sausage crumbled and browned then cooked with with a can of basil tomato bits and a ton of garlic and a few spoonfuls of my Awesome sauce.

Pasta Pr0n – Penne and Breaded Meatballs

DSC_0178 (1600x1060)

Rustic Hollow Cat Shelter

C&W Rustic Hollow is a shelter in Nashua, Iowa that provides a forever home to cats infected with FIV/FeLV.  St Francis had a few cats that were infected that required them to be quarantined from the rest of the cats.  A local donor ponied up the $1000 per cat that Rustic Hollow asks to accept them into their operation so Mrs J volunteered her time and drove all four of them up there, along with a friend.

There are six buildings in their complex that are set up as if they were actual homes that people live in:  Couches, tables, and chairs, kitchens and living rooms, porches and basements.  Rugs and pillows and cat trees are everywhere, and, of course, lots of cat beds.  The cats are turned loose and have a free run of the houses but they are permanent inside cats – never allowed outside.DSC02137 (1600x1060)

DSC02136 (1600x1060)This is as close to outside as they will ever get, there are several screened porches that are called “catios”.DSC02112 (1600x1060)

DSC02059 (1600x1060)This is where new arrivals are evaluated and held for a time before they are released into the shelter proper.  I understand the FIV and FeLV cats are segregated into their own groups.DSC02061 (1600x1060)

DSC02060 (1600x1060)The FIV cats are said to lead fairly normal lives if they are cared for but the FeLV is usually a death sentence – the shelter acts as a hospice for those poor kittehs.  The Cornell link above mentions that some cats can come to terms with the virus – “… some FeLV-infected cats develop an effective immune response, which controls the viral infection and results in a transient viremia instead of a persistent viremia. In these cats, subsequent FeLV tests will show that the cat no longer has virus in its blood.”DSC02072 (1600x1060)Mrs J reports that they have about 400 cats at present.  They don’t take walk-ins but if you have an infected cat your local shelter may be able to help you arrange an accommodation.

Missy 2003-2015

Missy 9101

After initially being fine, I’m very sad to say that Missy did not make it through surgery. We don’t know why. She recovered enough to come home, but passed about an hour after. I was able to hold her for about a half hour and snuggle with her. I’m sure Harley was there to greet her, he was always taking care of us.

I love this picture of her, because that was her attitude, always just a bit judgmental of me and my pet skills. RIP

Paw print


Breaded Meatballs

DSC_0159 (1600x1060)Mrs J drove into town to do her part at the shelter so I fiddled about in the kitchen.  I knew breaded meatballs were a thing but I’ve never tried any until today.  The meatballs were basic Italian sausage with lots of Parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, an egg, a splash of milk and salt and pepper.  I knew the breading would burn if they had to cook for a long time so I made mine fairly small – about an inch or so.  Smaller than golf balls, anyway.  I tried one rolled in just the breadcrumbs and it did OK, but the rest of them were floured, dredged in egg, and then rolled in the breadcrumbs.DSC_0156 (1600x1060)I used olive oil and watched the heat, keeping it medium low, and tried to roll the meatballs to keep any one side from getting too brown.  You pretty much need to stand over the pan the whole time.  This skillet is pretty full because it’s the last batch and my legs were tiring.DSC_0162 (1600x1060)This is the photo the whole effort was leading up to.  I buttered both halves of one of my buns and toasted them before adding the meatballs and spooning on sauce.  After grating Parmesan over it all they went back into the toaster oven for a minute or two.DSC_0164 (1600x1060)

Sammich Pr0n – Fiesta Burger!

DSC_0150 (1600x1060)It’s a Party In Your Mouth™!   I had some leftover pico de gallo and shredded cabbage from a taco dinner last night so I made a quick vinaigrette and used the combo as a burger topping instead of the usual pickle and onion.  Worked pretty well!

Chicken Lo Mein and Garlic Green Beans

DSC_0141 (1600x1060)I like green beans cooked this way:  Parboil the cleaned beans for about 4 or 5 minutes then dump them in an ice bath to quickly stop them cooking.  I drain them and put them aside until right before dinner is due then saute them in oil with garlic and ginger.  I use olive oil with a wee drop of sesame oil for the flavor, and add a dollop of oyster sauce right at the end before plating.  The sesame seeds are a garnish, optional.

For the lo mein dish the chicken marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and a spoonful of chili garlic paste with some cornstarch.  I make a brown sauce that is pretty much the same as the marinade plus a slug of chicken stock.  To prepare the dish, heat some oil in a wok, add chopped onions and frozen peas, garlic and ginger, and add the chicken with its marinade.  Leave it alone in the hot wok for a minute or two without tossing and it’ll brown nicely.  Add the cooked and drained noodles and stir to combine, add the brown sauce and stir and toss as it thickens.

A Sister’s Worst Nightmare


Paul and John (Harris), shamelessly stolen from my brother’s facebook page. 

This post is a bit different, but I wanted to share this interview with members of my brother’s Army National Guard Unit.


Ten years ago my youngest brother was stationed in Kuwait, running convoys to Iraq as a National Guardsman. It was a tough time on a lot of levels. I’m sure tougher for him :-D. But from my perspective, there were a lot of sleepless nights, waiting by the computer when he was out on missions. He would always check in when he got back, via Yahoo messenger, where I could IM or video chat with him.


Then one day the phone rang. It was my brother. Dread set in, because a phone call meant something was wrong. I could hear it in his voice. He didn’t tell me much, just that their convoy had been ambushed, some of his friends had been injured, but he was okay. I have always said it was the worst/best phone call I’ve ever received. Worst because of the sound of his voice, best because the SOUND of his voice. I’m glad they all made it back home.

In all honesty, we’ve never talked much about it. Most of what I know about it I have learned over the years from various news accounts and interviews with the soldiers. On the tenth anniversary, Nebraska Public Radio aired this piece.

To listen to the full story, as told by several members of the convoy, and watch video of the attack,  click here

Ten years ago today a group of Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers was in a life or death battle on a highway in Iraq. Mike Tobias looks back at the Battle of Bismarck, with reflections from the soldiers who fought it.

“One of the most beautiful days I can remember weather wise, the entire deployment I was over there,” is how Jay Schrad remembered the morning of March 20, 2005.

Schrad and 13 other soldiers from the Nebraska Army National Guard’s 1075th Transportation Company were rolling out of a base in Kuwait, taking a 33-vehicle supply convoy into Iraq. They were young, most in their early 20s. Most were from the Columbus area. They’d been doing this for several months at this point, halfway through the deployment. This convoy included pairs of Nebraska soldiers in green semi-trucks, civilians driving white semis and three Humvee gun trucks providing security.

They had been attacked on previous missions with roadside bombs and small arms fire, which was no surprise, because regardless of tactics, mile long convoys attract attention in a war zone. “We made our presence known,” A.J. Bloebaum said. “They knew when we were coming.”

But they’d always sped away from the trouble.

“You’re in a semi with a 40-foot trailer. You’re not equipped to sit there and fight,” said Josh Birkel. “So our SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) honestly was to hit the gas go.”

Normally this worked. But soldiers say that beautiful day, 10 years ago, was different from the moment their trucks pulled out on a four-lane divided highway called Route Bismarck.

“There were things that kind of triggered a sense of, hey, there’s something weird going on today,” recalled Schrad, driving a semi toward the back of the convoy. (the rest is here)

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been ten years. They all got together this weekend and I’m guessing it didn’t feel like 10 years to them, either. Always grateful for their service – TaMara


Random Wildlife

DSC_5200These two diving ducks showed up on the front pond yesterday, I didn’t know what they were but went online and a nice fellow told me they were both female Common Goldeneye ducks.  Thanks, Mike!DSC_5209 (1600x1060)Mrs J maintains a suet feeder that woodpeckers like a lot.  This one is a Red Bellied Woodpecker.DSC_5211 (1600x1060)These are a pair of Downy Woodpeckers.  The male has the red patch.  Downys are our smallest woodpeckers.P1000260 (1600x1060)Canada Geese are frequent visitors and can really honk up a racket when the dogs show themselves.  I took this one through the window of the truck as we returned from an expedition.DSC_5210 (1600x1060)Spring is turtle roaming season.  Homer is keeping a wary eye on this one as he heads back towards the pond.PICT4485 (1600x1060)I include this one of a deer, taken by an automatic camera that overlooks the spot where Mrs J scatters corn and other seeds, because of the groomed look of her hair.  I’m guessing it results from walking through thick vegetation – maybe that’s why they call it brush.


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