Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Oh, for goodness' sake. Even the Religious Policeman in Saudi Arabia is catblogging.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Here's a report on local crops from the Natchez Democrat. So I imagine the local farmers are saying more stridently about the same thing Lyman is, and we won't print that here, either.

Here is the recipe for Lyman's Seafood Gumbo. (Note: This recipe can be halved. As is, it serves about 12 as an entree.)

This is not rocket science, but it helps to have that kind of budget. First go shopping:


2 ½ cups chopped onion
1 medium onion quartered
2 cups chopped bell pepper
2 cups chopped celery
4 stalks celery quartered
4 tbs minced garlic
1 pound cut okra
1 can original diced Rotel
2 14 ½ oz. cans diced tomatoes


4 pounds headless shrimp, shells on
1 pound crab meat, can use claw meat
4-6 gumbo crabs, usually found frozen in many stores, such as Wal-Mart
2 quarts oysters


6 bay leaves
½ ts white pepper
½ ts black pepper
½ ts red pepper, we use twice as much of these 3 peppers, don’t do it the first time
2 tbs Cajun seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s


½ cup flour
½ cup vegetable oil


white rice
gumbo file’

Note: It is important to follow these steps in the order given as some things need to be prepared in advance and available immediately as they are needed.

To make stock: Peel shrimp reserving shells. Refrigerate shrimp until needed. Place shells in 6 qt pot. Strain oyster liquid into the pot with shrimp shells. Refrigerate oysters until needed. Remove legs and all small claws from gumbo crabs and add to shrimp shells. Look at bottom of gumbo crabs for a flap. Remove and discard if present. Refrigerate crabs and any large claws you want in gumbo until needed. Add quartered onion and celery to pot. Add water to cover shells, crab legs, and vegetables by two inches. Simmer stock for 1 hour. Keep warm.

Chop the vegetables: Chop the onions, bell pepper and celery. Mix together, cover and set aside. Mince the garlic (I use store bought minced) and set aside.

To make roux: Heat oil over medium-high heat in heavy pot at least 7 qts in size, preferably cast iron. When oil is hot slowly sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly with a flat ended spoon, wooden will do. Continue mixing stirring constantly. The mixture will foam slightly for several minutes. Cook stirring constantly until roux is the color of peanut butter. To judge your temperature during cooking, stop stirring and the mixture should start simmering within 2 or 3 seconds. If it doesn’t, increase your heat slightly. Be careful changing your heat, especially with cast iron as it takes several minutes to change.

To assemble gumbo: When roux is ready immediately add chopped onions, bell pepper and celery. Stir until the roux is thoroughly incorporated with the veggies, making sure no roux is stuck to pot. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are completely wilted. This should be done at a medium-high simmer and will probably take 30-40 minutes. You want most of the water cooked off, but not all.

When veggies are wilted add Rotel tomatoes, diced tomatoes, minced garlic, bay leaves, gumbo crabs and any claws, and 2 cups of the seafood stock. Add white, black, and red peppers. Add Cajun seasoning. Bring to a simmer and simmer 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes or so. Make sure to scrape bottom of pot. It should have the thickness of a hardy soup. If need be, add more stock along.

Take shrimp and oysters out of refrigerator and set aside to warm up some.

Add crab meat and okra. Simmer 30 minutes or until okra is tender. Cook rice.

When okra is tender, add shrimp, bring to a simmer and cook until shrimp are done, about 5 minutes after they start simmering.

When shrimp are done, add oysters, bring to a simmer and cook just until the oysters start to curl around the edges. Turn heat to low and move pot partially off the burner.

To serve: Place a small amount of rice in bottom of a bowl and cover with gumbo. Some like more rice and less gumbo. What ever you like. Have the gumbo file’ available at the table to be sprinkled on top of gumbo. Caution: Some people don’t like the file’. If you have never had it, sprinkle a small amount on the edge of your bowl and give a taste.

To reheat: Slowly warm all or part of gumbo. Do not let it come to a simmer.

Enjoy. If you have questions, email Lyman at lymangore at

One more thing before I post Lyman's Seafood Gumbo recipe. How do people whose diets forbid them to eat bacon celebrate the new tomato crop without eating bacon and tomato sandwiches?

J-Birds has a New York Times story up about Peregrine falcons learning to fly in urban environments. And look around the J-Birds site. Craig has several pictures posted for bird-lovers.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

We can barely see across the street. According to Lyman's weather station it is raining at the rate of 6.86 inches an hour at this moment. In the last four minutes it has rained .3 inch.

UPDATE: After nine minutes, we're up to .5 inch. At this moment, rainfall rate is 9.29 inches per hour.

There's 1 inch after half an hour. It's slacked off now, with promises for more later.

I wonder what the farmers are saying? I know what Lyman is saying. We won't print that here.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Lucy doesn't intimidate easily. Lyman doesn't give her delicate portions of food to nibble. He brings her half a cantaloupe, a 3-inch wedge of watermelon, half a spaghetti squash. They are often the same size she is. She eats as much or little as she pleases.

We finish up after her. Unlike a cat or dog, we know where she has been.

Lucy is about fed up with the overcast weather. She sits on top of her cage and fusses at the clouds.

Lyman is concerned about the 40 tomato plants and the okra plants in the garden that are doing not a thing without sun. "The grass is growing and the garden is not," he complains.

I have three books from the library.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Summer jobs, huh?

I only had one of any duration. I was a cashier at a True Value hardware store in North Dallas in 1974, saving money for my first year of college.

Completely uneventful except for the day that Ross Perot drove up in a beat-up old Pontiac or somesuch and bought a trap assembly for a sink. My sole brush with great wealth.

Other summers I took classes.

I have just finished Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard.

A lilting pleasure, it was.

There were a dozen other things I should be doing, but this week has been muffled, dark and rainy. Why break that spell?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Here is a funny parrot story from J-Birds.

When Lucy is tired, she wants us to know it. She opens her beak in a large, loud yawn - sometimes more than one. When she is in the mood to show off, if we remark on each yawn, she'll continue the motions, if not the sounds, until we stop. Funny birds.

Pretty as she is, living with Lucy is better represented by sounds than pictures.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Glenda's son is now engaged to a good-looking nurse from Detroit.

He hid the ring in the grass at a picnic. "Look at what I found!"

Though Edward is not tall, he has always liked and played basketball well. "Mom, she's the first girl I ever met who can beat me at basketball." She played for Wayne State.

Here's my constructive suggestion for a title for Clinton's autobiography:

Interstate 30 to International Diplomacy: My Trip

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Seems my post below about feeding Big Daddy at Lake Concordia has brought the watchband vendors up top. Good for the change. Come back.

I seldom wear a watch unless I am traveling. I have owned a Hamilton, a Timex, and two Seikos in the past 20 years. I have lost them all. They all fell off my wrist without my noticing. Two of them were given to me by gentleman friends -- the Hamilton and one Seiko. Time was up, I suppose.

Now I wear $9 watches from Walgreen's or Fred's.

Monday, June 21, 2004

I am going to use profanity in a post. What the hell are editors thinking? I hate these titles. "My Life" for a presidential memoir. His wife's was "Living History". Lucy could have written those books.

UPDATE: Of course, the publishers know that these books will sell on the authors' names. They could have been titled "c" and "v" for all the difference that will make in sales.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Here is a New York Times review of President Clinton's memoir.

Lyman says, "950 pages of Bill Clinton? That would be a good criminal sentence."

I don't hate Bill Clinton, but I do hate sloppy writing. Except my own, of course.

UPDATE: In another NYT review, Larry McMurtry likes it.

The celebration at Lyman's brother's house was as good as could be. He has built a pier that extends onto the lake with a covered 30' by 30' platform. There are requisite ceiling fans and lights, and a cooking center with a small refrigerator -- the best party room you can imagine. Four huge floor fans blew away the heat.

All 12 of us were in good humor and the food was delicious. The ice cream drew raves. I was honest. I followed the recipe for old-fashioned vanilla from the book that came with the Rival electric freezer. Our kids are all too old to sit on a crank model. Besides, they weren't invited.

Happy Father's Day to you, too.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Today I shall make a gallon of vanilla ice cream to take to Lake Concordia.

Lyman's brother lives on the lake. He and his wife have invited us and Lyman's sister and her husband to a fish fry to celebrate Father's Day.

My father died on July 8, 1990. Lyman's father turned 85 on May 30 of this year.

Poor brother. When my sister-in-law called to invite us, she set suppertime at 5:30 or later, when the weather cools down. When my father-in-law stopped in for a barbecued rib yesterday evening, he said "Lyman, you need to help Brent cook the fish." "What time do I need to be there?" "Oh, we'll eat about 4 or 4:30."

So much good food. So little time.

UPDATE: Big Daddy just stopped by. "Oh, I'm going to give Girl time to get dressed. We'll go to Brent's at about 2." Poor Brent.

Friday, June 18, 2004

I often read Jeff Jarvis. In this post he mentions "blogcards". Now, that's an idea that's overdue for the un-anonymous members of the Axis of Weevil.

Lyman installed Norton's Anti-Virus on this machine last night. Now I can't read Haloscan comments on other people's sites, though I can read them on my own. What to do?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Sugarmama, a worthy young man who loves you, and wants to marry you, has been sitting on an engagement ring wondering how best to give it to you. The girl is athletic, like you, and intelligent, like you, and young, like you. What would you want?

Glenda's son is in this place.

My friend Glenda brought me some fresh-picked booloobees!

Lucy is just plain stubborn. She knows how to say "hello". She imitates the ring of the telephone and answers it "Harro?" Drives the boys crazy when they stay the night, thinking the phone is ringing.

Lyman is a top-notch Louisiana cook. I'd set his gumbo and red beans and rice against anyone's. No reason to be, but I was a little surprised at how scrumptious his lima beans and andouille turned out. There are no tricks to the recipe. Here it is:


2 lbs. large lima beans, washed

Water to cover, plus 2 inches

2 smoked hamhocks

6-7 fresh or 4-5 dried bay leaves

2-1/2 cups onion, minced in food processor

2 cups bell pepper, minced in fp

2 cups celery, minced in fp

Minced garlic, about 4 generous teaspoons

3 lbs. andouille sausage, cut in 1/4 inch slices

1 can diced original recipe Ro-tel tomatoes

Cajun seasoning

Sliced green onions (optional)

Place the beans, hamhocks and bay leaves in a large stockpot. Cover with water plus 2 inches. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add minced vegetables, garlic and Ro-tel tomatoes. Simmer gently until beans are half done. Add sausage. Simmer until beans are done. Check seasoning. Add Cajun seasoning to taste. In this case, we used Tony Chachere's seasoning, adding just enough to salt the dish. Top with sliced or chopped green onions, if desired.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

An afternoon at the Gore household is as likely to be like this as anything:

Big Daddy taps on the carport door and lets himself in. Janis is mopping the enclosed porch. Lyman is at the grocery store.

"Yoo-hoo. Is anybody home? Is anybody home?"

"Janis is home. Lucy is home."

"What's for supper? Am I too early or too late?"

"You're in luck. Lyman made lima beans with andouille sausage."

"Hey, Lucy. Will you say hello?"

Lucy won't talk.

"I'll get some of this later."

"There's plenty. Eat some now."

"Is that all right?"

"Yes, it's all right. Get a bowl."

"The juice in these beans is delicious. Lucy, can you say hello?"

Lucy doesn't talk.

Janis finishes the floor and the phone rings.

It's Girl. "Janis, is Travis there? I just got back after two hours at the dentist's. He didn't leave a note or anything."

"He's here. He is eating Lyman's beans with sausage."

"What is he doing eating there? I want him to take me somewhere to eat."

"Here, I'll let you talk to Travis."

"Come over here and have a bowl of beans. The juice is delicious."

He hands me the phone. "She's coming."

If anyone questions why I have fallen so far behind in housekeeping, it's just that things haven't been the same since Martha was indicted.

Oh, shoot, why not admit it all?

If I have told about my neglected iron, and the Redneck Outfitters t-shirt, I might as well tell you how thrilled I was to run across a "3 for $10" deal at the Super 10 yesterday.

In the summer, I like to wear long, loose sleeveless shifts rather than shorts, unless I'm on my knees in the yard. They're cooler and less ... confining.

I drove up to the store in hopes of finding an inexpensive but decent frame to replace the one I knocked off the wall while I was working in the pantry. On a rack in front of the store, there they were, 3 shifts for $10. I bought every one in my size -- small, if you please -- which came to three. I am delighted!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

It was a drive-by assault.

I was in our bedroom, assessing Montez's trouble in Elmore Leonard's Mr. Paradise. I heard the carport door open and a deep masculine voice say "Hey".

Lyman failed to tell me that Jason, our younger boy, had called last night to say that he would be coming in this afternoon, on his way home to Baton Rouge after seeing the artist formerly known as Prince in Shreveport last night. He was accompanied by a young woman, Neysha.

What happened to Nicole, you ask? I don't ask. Jason is 29. His private life is just that.

He poured himself a glass of milk and ice-water for Neysha, exchanged pleasantries for a while, then asked "What's heatable?" Before I had time to answer, he had brought chips out of the pantry and found cucumbers in vinegar, pico de gallo and and a sauce I couldn't identify from the refrigerator. "This is good. What is it?" "Hold off a minute while I think if it's safe. Ah, that's remoulade sauce. They serve it in New Orleans with shrimp." "It's good with chips."

Luckily there was some of the squash dish left from the other day, and Girl had sent some butterbeans yesterday. I cooked a little pasta. The kids ate both. Not a menu I would have chosen.

Neysha picked up the dishes and put them in the sink and returned uneaten food to the refrigerator.

They spent a few more minutes socializing while Lyman packed a cooler with catfish, pork loin, and chicken tenders from the freezer.

They gave us hugs, and then were gone.

Hmmm, Mr. Schranck, that has possibilities. I think I'd prefer parmesan cheese, and pasta rather than rice.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

What I dread most in my list of things to do is the trip to the laundromat. Funny thing is, I've only been once in this area, and it was no problem at all. I took a book, watched traffic, and talked to an older (older than 43) black woman who was washing just about everything because she'd been caring for a sick grandchild.

The memory that grates on me is from Lemmon Ave. in Dallas. That part of town was full of singles in apartments. I lived in a garage apartment a few blocks away. I tried to time washing for night, but it was necessary to go that afternoon. The place was crammed. Every machine was going.

Some cracker family bought lunch at a fast food shop and used one of the folding tables as a lunch counter. There were three children, as I recall, and a mess of salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup and coke.

When they finally got out of there, I wiped that table down myself.

Oh, so that's where the razor was.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Something needs to be done with the boxwoods. They line our broad front porch that is unusable because of mosquitos. They were planted as part of the original landscape plan for this house in 1962, before that live oak became a lovely towering shade tree. The poor little guys are not thriving.

This lot is 130' wide by 300' deep, pure cotton plantation. Our elevation is 60'. No feature of our landscape is natural. I'm thinking of calling in professional help. Jordana's "plant whore" strategy is not effective here.

I spent my adult life before coming here in apartments. My mother had a pretty yard. It was half this size.

Egads, I need a trip to Dallas. I just did a book exchange at the library (4 blocks up the street) wearing a Redneck Outfitters t-shirt.

I'd like to see the Nasher Sculpture Center downtown.

I'd also like to see the new Modern in Fort Worth.

I'm not a redneck! I'm not a redneck! At least not until I finish this yard work.

(And I am rube enough to want to take a train in Dallas. I read about that project most of my life.)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Kids, it is hot out there. And I've concluded that English ivy ain't nothin' but kudzu with an accent.

UPDATE: That's done. At least the trimming. I wonder what the painter is doing next week?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


I replaced the steam iron when we reorganized the pantry. I had not emptied the water from it the last time I used it. When I looked closely at the tubes that indicate the water level, I saw organic matter floating. Closer examination showed that matter to be drowned sugar ants.

We had an infestation last year that culminated in a visit from Bug Busters while we were at the coast in November.


It is probably not to my advantage to report that I discovered this on June 5 this year.

I didn't bother to consult Heloise.

What to do? What to do? Onerous tasks ahead:

Hacking away the English ivy that threatens to pull the eaves off the house and touching up the paint

Trimming all shrubs

Driving across town to a laundromat with super-capacity machines to wash bedcovers currently in use and two or three bedspreads that need to be stored

Overhauling the back bedroom, which has become a repository for unneedful things

Dragging all items off bookshelves and scrubbing/dusting them

Replacing shelf paper in kitchen cabinets where needed

I suppose the outdoor work should come first. The dust inside isn't going anywhere.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

That chore is complete. Six bags of about ten ears each are in the freezer. I used a sharp paring knife for the work. I have tried one of these but find it just makes a mess. You might have better results, but I doubt it.

Lyman shucked the corn and helped monitor the blanching. Big Daddy dropped by a few minutes ago and is delighted with our progress.

Peg Britton in Ellsworth, Kansas, is looking for a drum shade for a lamp. If you have any suggestions pop over to her site where her e-mail is posted and let her have them or leave them in comments here. I can tell her that the discount stores, including Target, will not have them. They are not the style now. Perhaps shops that specialize in retro styles would be helpful. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore had drum shades on their lamps, if I remember correctly.

I can be of no help today. My project this day is to blanch, cut off and freeze a bushel of corn. Big Daddy delivered it yesterday afternoon. He doesn't care if he ever eats the corn, but it offends his senses of economy and tradition if none of the women in the family puts it up for winter.

Girl can't do it because of arthritis, and wouldn't if she could. She decided a long time ago that she didn't have to do the things her mother did. Lyman's sister won't because she is a queen. Lyman's brother's wife? Nah, she is not much of a hand in the kitchen and says so herself. That leaves me. I won't regret it in January.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The most tender thing I have read regarding Ronald Reagan's death comes from John Kerry's statement:

“Our prayers are with his family, and the wife he loved in a way all the world could see. And to the end, she loved him with courage and complete devotion ..."

Tsk, tsk. Another reason to make the recipe below tonight is that Lyman bought basil at the grocery for a recipe last night: Pork Scaloppine with Tomato Basil Sauce.

Herbs in our grocery stores come from Melissa's. A one-ounce pack costs $1.99. I have grown basil before. In this climate, the only problem is keeping it trimmed. For the same money in seeds, I could grow enough basil to supply every household from here to Baton Rouge. Worse yet, a packet of seeds is in my kitchen drawer.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

We've turned up with gifts of garden zucchini and yellow squash. Tonight we'll prepare this recipe: squash with linguine. I found it years ago in a Contadina ad in Southern Living Magazine. Oddly enough, I can't find it at Contadina's large recipe site.

We have made changes. We use double the squash called for. We like a little kick with our meals, so we use Ro-tel tomatoes in place of the milder canned varieties. We also prefer fettuccine rather than linguine.

The dish could stand alone as a summer entree, but also goes well with about any type of simple meat, chicken or fish dish.

Natalie Solent highlights this sweet post from England.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

After a less than brutal cull, we have arrived at a clean, tidy pantry, with nearly 24 feet of empty shelf space.

Lyman took over the arrangement of foodstuffs. He cooks as much or more than I do and I adjust to change better than he does. I don't think much of horoscopes, but he is a Virgo and I am an Aquarian -- when it comes to organizing things, he takes the lead. He can also become testy when things are out of place.

It was an interesting way to mark the 11 years that I have lived in this part of the country. I drove to Natchez, MS, from Dallas, TX, with the intention of living and working here on this day in 1993.

Birdstone wins the Belmont. No Triple Crown this year. Back to the pantry.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Lucy has a low spell at about 4 in the afternoon. She becomes drowsy and often can hardly keep her eyes open. She will not nap, but will draw one foot up close to her breast, and go quiet and still.

When she is in this mood, I like to draw close, look into her eyes, and softly, soothingly say "Poor Lucy. She's a sleepy girl. Sleepy, sleepy Lucy." Her eyes will close, and open, close and open, and close, then she'll shake her head to rouse herself, just as a busy daddy I've heard of does in church on Sunday morning.

It's a gesture I hadn't expected from a bird.

Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Avocado Salsa made a light, easy and tasty dinner last night. See, it's not all chicken-fried steak and gravy in the south.

I do wonder how far the food reformers would like to intrude. Do they plan to take cooking oil off grocery store shelves? Will they confiscate the turkey fryer? What about potatoes? People do vile things with potatoes, such as frying them, or God forbid, baking them and piling them with sour cream and cheese and bacon.

Believe me, I know how to load up on calories without going within a block of McDonald's, and so does every other resident of this town.

Where is my mother's coconut cream pie recipe?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Seven is a mystical number. I have seven cake plates and seven pie pans. I rarely bake desserts.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I am cleaning the cleaner bottles and cans, to give you an idea of what's ahead.

I tossed an extra mop, an extra broom, a very nice little hardwood floor cleaner that a party guest gave us that I have used once, and a Swiffer dry thingy. Hah, we laugh at Swiffers in this house. Nothing less than a Shop-Vac garners our respect.

UPDATE: All these doubled things would make you think that Lyman and I clean together. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I won't say the bathroom is finished. The painting is completed, the new light fixture is up and Lyman changed out the plugs and switches. It is clean. There are new towels and a new bathmat.

I am not happy with the color. Too green. And the room looks too hard. There are half a dozen ways to handle this and I am ruminating.

Today I bought shelf liner for the pantry -- one hundred and six feet and a few inches. I spent more than $45 on the cheapest serviceable product at Wal-mart. Tomorrow begins the tedium of cleaning things and positioning them conveniently. We will cull again. We might have differences.

And I can't find my razor.

UPDATE: Finally got rid of the verb in that sentence. Nothing looked right.