I was deeply moved by two paintings I saw in the Hermitage museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. One was by my favorite painter, Rembrandt, and is called "The Return of the Prodigal." It shows the biblical scene of the father embracing the wayward son who had returned home.
Sometimes, just getting out into nature can be enough to refresh your perspective. And sometimes it takes the right person to share it with to remind you.
We happened to be on I-40 East just past Strawberry Plains on a recent Saturday around noon, when six people got injured in a four-car accident around Exit 407. All three eastbound lanes came to a stop. If we moved, we moved for three feet at a time, but mostly we did not move. Google Now let us know there was a wreck near our location, and then the cell signal went out.
No matter the season, few things are as comforting or satisfying as a bowl of good soup. My father and a teacher of mine at culinary school have both remarked that one of the ways to tell a good restaurant is by the quality of their soups, the thinking being that if they take the time and care to make a good soup, they will take equal care with the rest of their menu. How telling, then, that it's almost impossible to find a really good soup in most restaurants.
Mark Twain is credited with saying, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." This was followed with, "If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." Time management gurus down through the years have emphasized this frog-eating concept in various ways. Like Twain, they have recommended to check our tasks or to-do lists and tackle the hardest or most challenging first. Just get into it, get it handled and get it out of the way. Speaker/author Brian Tracy even has a top-selling book titled "Eat That Frog," which expands on the concept.
Another Sunday morning! What a blessing to have another day devoted to the One who gives us everything we have, yet allows us to make choices in life. He lets us be who we are and what we want to be. He gives us the air we breathe, the health to do our work and make a living, and more than enough time to play.
I'd be hard pressed to pick a single favorite cuisine, but if I could pick two, there would be no doubt: Thai and Italian. Though separated by thousands of miles, the two actually have more in common than most would think. Both put an emphasis on fresh vegetables, and tend to use meat sparingly. Both also use fairly simple cooking techniques and recipes, allowing the ingredients to shine.
He has said he will before, but maybe he means it this time. Garrison Keillor could be stepping down from "A Prairie Home Companion."
I mentioned in an earlier column how writer Thomas Wolfe's classic words, "You can't go home again," proved to be true literally when wife Jean, Carl II and I made a trip back to Jean's old homestead in Oakton, Ky. There was neither a home nor a stead. Even the railroad tracks that once ran through the little community were gone, as was the hill on which her childhood home once stood. And the little town itself – well, there was no little town anymore.
Good Sunday morning, dear friends. I woke up this morning being very thankful for the several splashes of rain that God has sent to this hot and dry city of Alcoa. I was beginning to think that I truly had moved from the beautiful mountains to the concrete jungle that I joked about. Talk about hot and dry; the past several days have been miserable. Then the blessed rain came, and we will all feel so much better.
Lately I have seen the phrase "the taste of summer" everywhere: Martha Stewart Living magazine, the Relish insert in The Mountain Press, Wimbledon.
From a purely professional point of view, my favorite dish to make may very well be gumbo – it's certainly in the top three. Various meats and fish, as well different roux, give gumbos amazing variety. If I'm sick of chicken and sausage, then maybe it's time for some type of seafood. If I'm not in the mood for seafood, then maybe some duck goes in the pot.
I am a complete National Basketball Association junkie. I love watching basketball games, but almost as much, I love the weird off-season.
The grammarian in me was really riled last week when I was writing my "Celebrate freedom for one nation under God" column. There have been books, articles and discussions regarding how history continues to be rewritten, but more and more it appears many individuals and groups have also engaged in an ongoing process of changing the rules of grammar. I've previously written about how numerous media members, politicians, ministers, entertainers, businesspeople, educators and other speakers and writers are infecting our society with some bad grammar. At times, Microsoft Word 2013's spelling and grammar check feature appears to be among the grammatical violators.
Charles Schulz is the reason you're reading this.
One of the downsides of being a chef is being expected to cook whenever friends or family come to visit me. I do actually love to cook, and I thoroughly enjoy making people happy with a good meal, but the assumption that I will always cook dinner for my guests can get on my nerves at times.
My grandmother, having suffered a stroke, was cared for 24/7 by my mom. Since Grandma could not walk, she was confined to either her bed or chair. During my quiet times, she was my companion as she read the comics to me and we listened to the radio together.
Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, brings to mind many things, but should always have its major focus on the important basic fact that it is a national holiday in America commemorating the July 4, 1776, adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. John Adams, one of the five drafters of the document, wrote to his wife Abigail that this action would:
My tomato guy came through again a few days ago, and this time he came through in a big way – six gorgeously ripe homegrown tomatoes. Most ended up in between a couple slices of bread, but the two largest were destined for a different fate: my first Caprese salad in more than nine months.
What picture from scripture, art, or music do you have of Jesus? Let me share some possibilities.
Mark Twain (like Yogi Berra and others) has received credit for many quotes. Whether Twain, Yogi or anyone else actually said all the attributed statements – or was even the first to say them – we don’t always know for sure. However, I do know that one of the quotes attributed to Twain is, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
Sometimes there are no good choices. Take tomatoes, for instance. For eight or nine months a year, we're all faced with a dilemma – choosing between abstaining completely, or settling for a so-called tomato that pulls off the seemingly impossible feat of being hard and mushy at the same time, and whose taste bears no resemblance whatsoever to those we grow ourselves.
Much like me, old friends and fellow speakers Don and Kathleen Thoren from Tempe, Ariz., are in the business of encouraging people in the areas of human relations, communication and teamwork. I have been receiving from them for several years an occasional publication titled “Engaged Living,” which promotes living life to the fullest. This past week Kathleen wrote an article about doubts. I think it is a good one and I want to share a part of it with you.
The Oscars are boring. The Grammys stopped being an awards show. The Emmys? Forget it.
I'm guessing I have about three weeks before my first tomato is ripe; seems like an eternity away. Still, I do love fried green tomatoes (bonus recipe: dredge them in flour heavily seasoned with salt and pepper, pan fry them to dark brown in two parts bacon fat to one part olive oil), so at least I've got that going for me.