Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shakshouka: Israeli Tomato and Poached Egg Stew

Shakshouka is basically a tomato and poached egg stew.  It has a very interesting flavor and it's the first time I've had dried limes.  (I love trying new stuff!) I ordered mine on Amazon Prime, but they can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores as well.

I'll write it as I found it, but I halved the recipe.  This one serves 8! 

I found this recipe for Shakshouka in The Week Magazine, and it is from Michael Solomonov of Zahav which claims to be America's first Israeli restaurant.


1/2 c olive oil
2 onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
4 red or green bell peppers, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Tbsp grated dried limes, optional
6 Tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 c tomato puree
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
16 large eggs
1 or 2 serrano chilies, thinly sliced, for garnish
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
flatbread or crusty sliced bread, for serving

In a cast-iron skillet large enough to accommodate 16 poached eggs, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat. (If you don't have a skillet that large, use two.)  Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, dried lime, paprika, cumin, coriander, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato puree and sugar and simmer until reduced by one-third, about 12 minutes.  Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup oil.

Crack eggs into skillet, spacing them evenly in the sauce.  Lower heat, cover, and cook until egg whites are set but yolks remain runny, about 5 minutes.  Top with sliced chilies and chopped cilantro and serve right from pan, with bread.  Serves 8.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Conversation with Pilot, Tommy Ferguson

Tommy, Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 47 years old and have been married to a wonderful woman for the last 21 years.  We have two sons, aged 18 and 16.  I’ve been in law enforcement since 1998 and Cathy has been since 1996. 
Tommy, yesterday you got your pilot's license, that's fascinating to me!  What made you decide to start taking lessons?
When I was about 13, my mother was the business manager for a pediatrician’s clinic.  One of the doctors got (or had) his pilot’s license.  He took us for a flight and, after putting the plane in a banking turn, had me put my hands and feet on the controls and “fly” the plane.  I also knew a colleague of my father’s who had a plane and, even though I never flew with him, it kinda let me know that normal people did this. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn about.
Last year, Cathy and I went to Alaska for our 20th Anniversary.  We fell in love with Alaska and began dreaming about what we would do after retiring.  Realistically, we know we’ll never live there, but it was the impetus I needed to do this instead of continuing to talk about it.  I found out that two guys that used to work at the Police Department were running a flight school at an airport 12 minutes from our house.  Shane owns the planes and Will is the main instructor.  Everything just fell into place.                                                                                    

How long did this process take you?  
I started taking lessons in July of last year, and I got my license on Halloween, one year and two days after my first solo flight.  The way Will teaches, you buy a stack of books and you’re responsible for learning on your own.  There’s some of what people would think of as “ground school”, but really very little.  I spent a lot of time reading, studying, and watching YouTube videos.  I was on night shift last year, so I could only fly one day a week.  That was my routine until this year, when I got moved to day shift, then there were weeks I could fly more often.  After I soloed, I could fly anytime the plane was free.  The FAA requires 40 hours in the plane, and I had about 60 when I took the test.  There are schools that advertise getting you your license in a week or two, but I can’t see how you can absorb the knowledge in that time.

Was every moment of it just amazing?
It was amazing and scary and a lot of hard work.  There’s a phrase in the tactical training community - “Get comfortable being uncomfortable”.  I made the decision that I was going to conquer this, no matter how hard it was.  I realized that all the people we admire for doing amazing things were just people, like me.  If this was humanly possible, I could do it.

Did you have to learn flight language/terms/code that we wouldn't think of?
Lord yes.  Aviation is full of acronyms, lists, and lingo.  There’s a shorthand or phrase for EVERYTHING you can think of - like there are five different types of altitude to be aware of.  Pressure altitude, absolute altitude, indicated altitude, true altitude, and density altitude.  There’s also a lot of weather information to learn.  I could bore you to tears.  That’s what I mean about absorbing the knowledge - would you want to fly with someone who just met the minimum standards?

Do you "take the wheel" (is that the term?) in mid-air for the first time or is it taking off, start to finish it's you?
I think my first lesson was about an hour long, and I helped take the controls during a turn just like that flight when I was a kid.  Every flight I had a little more control until I was ready to solo.  I had my hands on the controls all the time, and so did my instructor, and every time he touched his controls less and less.
My instructor showed me how to pre-flight the airplane on the first day, and after that it was my responsibility every time.  Same thing with refueling the plane.

What thoughts were going through your head before your first lesson when you were in the air and "taking the reins"?  (Is that the term?)
I think the phrase would be “taking the stick” - like “stick and rudder”. Will told me once I was a “pretty good stick”.
I was thinking that this was different than what I expected.  There’s a lot to keep up with.  I knew there was going to be a lot of studying in my future.

Yesterday, you piloted with your wife, Cathy, as your passenger.  What thoughts were in your mind before taking off?
I was wishing we had more time to fly, and hoping she enjoyed the flight.  I wasn’t really nervous about flying or having her as a passenger, I just hoped the weather cooperated.

What is your favorite thing or moment when flying?
I compare being in a small aircraft to being in a small boat on the ocean.  There’s almost always some waves or currents, you just can’t see them in the air.  That was the hardest thing to get used to - the sudden thermal or wind change that you have to adjust for.  My favorite thing (so far) is when the air is still and calm and you don’t have to adjust for anything.  Those times are usually early in the morning or late in the afternoon, so that’s my favorite time to fly right now.  Flying at night is really cool too, but I need more practice at that.  Landings are difficult because your depth perception is off.

This sounds like an expensive hobby.  Do you have a plane or are there renting options?  How do you take advantage of your new license? 
I still had my first car,  a 1965 Chevelle that was in decent shape.  I sold it and used that cash for most of my training.  I rented the plane the entire time and have no immediate plans to buy a plane.  A good used plane can be had for the same amount as a good used car, but the maintenance and inspections are what runs the cost up.  I learned in a 1967 Cessna 150 (2 seater) and will be checked out soon in their 1966 Cessna 172 (4 seater).  That will let me carry a couple of people and enough fuel to go fun places.  I could rent a plane legally anywhere in the country that rents planes now, so if we’re going on vacation, I’m taking my paperwork with me!

Have you had any scary moments in flight?
My first solo was kind of scary.  The traditional first solo is three takeoffs and landings, and when I was up there and realized landing this plane was up to me, it was a real eye opener.  The first time I flew away from the airport by myself, I was scared.  That 1967 plane has a compass for navigation, and I was REALLY hoping I could find my way back to the airport.  Lots of days were scary, but like I said, “get comfortable being uncomfortable”.  I told Cathy a couple of times I was leaving the house to do something that scared me to death.
One day I was in the “practice area” about 15 minutes away from the airport, and the engine cowling door (about a foot wide, on the right hand side between the windshield and propellor) came open.  I was afraid it would tear off and damage the windshield or tail, so I turned towards the airport immediately.  The airflow kept the door shut until I flared for landing, then it opened again and tore off.  We found it lying on the centerline of the runway.  That was lots of fun.

If you could choose any plane past or present, what type of plane would you love to try to fly, at least just once?
Any warbird from World War II - an F4U Corsair would be the ultimate.  I believe I could figure out how it works and how to land it.  I’m a child of the ‘80s, so an F-14 Tomcat from Top Gun would be amazing, but I’d get my fool self hurt.  I could figure out one of the warbirds, though (I think).

What's next for you in flying? 
Well, like I said, getting some experience in different planes and flying longer distances.  Lambert’s Cafeteria in Sikeston, MO is about 45 minutes away by plane and I foresee lots of flights there and back with different friends and family members.  I can get a tailwheel plane endorsement pretty quickly, and maybe next year I’ll go on and get my Instrument (IFR) rating.  I can also get licensed to fly drones (UAVs) pretty quickly now, so I am going to do that soon.  The Department I work for doesn’t use drones now, but if they decide to, I’d like to be ready.  They are a great tool for first responders.  Everyone asks if I’m going to learn to fly helicopters for the Department, but I really have no desire to do that.  Adding a rotary endorsement is pretty expensive and the Department has plenty of pilots right now.  I learned that those things spinning overhead are the wings, and that just confounds me.

What other interesting or unusual hobbies do you have?
I have been a martial artist for 30+ years now.  I teach that a little, but not a lot.  I’m more of a never-ending student.  I enjoy letting people like Mark Hatmaker beat up on me and use me to demonstrate stuff.  I used to do a lot of shooting and teaching shooting classes, but I don’t do that much anymore.   I own a Harley-Davidson that I’ve ridden three times in the past two years.  I own a couple of guitars but can’t do much with them.  I ride a road bicycle (think Lance Armstrong) for exercise, and I’ve been doing that for 25 years, but I’m way heavier than most of the folks that do that.  I fish a little and hunt deer a few times a year.  I can do calligraphy and I play chess for fun.

What's one thing you'd like to try but haven't yet?
Skydiving.  Some folks at work have done that and I hear a company in our area on the radio announcing “jumpers away”.  Anything but scuba diving.  That’s one phobia I have NO interest in trying to conquer.  

We always end with advice to readers about what they can do right now, to get up and do something. What is one thing you can tell our readers to do to get started in learning to fly?
Look on AOPA or FAA websites (or the yellow pages) and find a school in your area.  Go take an introductory lesson and see what it’s like.  Talk to the instructor and get a feel for their experience and teaching style.

Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation. And congratulations, Pilot!
Thank you!  Let me know when you’re in the area and we’ll go fly!

Friday, November 24, 2017

German Wisdom

"Read, every day, something no one else is reading.Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity."-- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing(1729-1781) German Dramatist

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Two Women, Two Whiskeys, One Subject: Obstacle Racing 2

My sister-in-law, Alex, and I did a video series on a variety of topics.  Here's our second installment of Two Women, Two Whiskeys, One Subject: Obstacle Racing where I finally apologize to Al for our first mud run.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chef Brendan Collins' Shepherd's Pie with Buttered Baby Vegetables

I got this recipe from The Week magazine and it comes from chef Brendan Collins from the Waterloo & City restaurant.  He makes a shepherd's pie topped with mashed parsnips and potatoes, mixed with horseradish for "a nice unexpected bite." 

I made this and it is absolutely deeeeeeeeeee-lish!  I don't know that I'll make mashed potatoes without horseradish ever again.

Tip from me: If you're not a big cook or finicky about lamb, don't get overwhelmed with specifics.  You could substitute ground beef for lamb.  Dried spices work well and last for storage if you don't use a lot of different spices.

Shepherd's Pie with Buttered Baby Vegetables

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 1/4 lb. ground lamb shoulder
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 can (14 oz.) San Marzano plum tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato puree
1 1/4 c. lamb or beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
Sale and pepper
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and chopped
9 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp creamed horseradish
3/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat and add onions, leek, celery, and carrots.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add lamb and brown, about 8 minutes.  Add flour to make a roux, and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add canned tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Season with Worcestershire sauce, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, make topping.  Boil potatoes and parsnips in water until soft.  Drain and mash with butter and milk. Stir in horseradish, and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon meat mixture into an ovenproof dish.  Top with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese on top. Bake pie until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Top with buttered vegetables.  Serves 4 to 6.

Buttered Baby Vegetables

Blanch in separate pots until al dente: 6 baby carrots, 6 baby zucchini, 6 cauliflower florets, 3 baby turnips (peeled and quartered), 1/4 c. English peas, and 8 Tbsp unsalted butter.  Drain each vegetable, refresh in ice water, and drain again.
In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add 1/2 c. water to make an emulsion.  Reheat vegetables in emulsion, add salt and pepper to taste, and drain.  Arrange on top of pie. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Conversation with MMA Fighter, Steven Haag

Steven Haag is a sergeant at Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office, a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and 2007 #1 Ranked ground fighter in the nation by Gladiator Magazine.

Thank you so much for talking to us today, Steven!  How long have you been training martial arts?

I have been training martial arts for 15 years.

What arts do you train?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Boxing

What got you interested?

A friend of mine did a demonstration at our middle school talent show and that’s what hooked me.

Is there something in particular that made you want to take that first fight?

I was a very competitive jiu jitsu practitioner at that time. So more than anything it was just the challenge. It was a new type of challenge. I love pushing myself and challenging myself and that was the next step.

What were your thoughts before your first fight?

LOL! I’m about to go get punched in the face!!!

Have you lost a fight?  If so, what kept you motivated to get back in the cage? I mean some of us find it hard to get out of the chair to go for a walk, my guess is that getting back in there where there is actual physical risk is altogether different.

I finished up 2-0 as an amateur and currently 3-2 as a pro. The way I look at it you either win or you learn. With that type of mindset there are no losses only the possibility for improvement. So that is what continues to push me each and every day.

Have you ever had an embarrassing or unusual moment in the cage?

Luckily not yet.

Knowing how hard you work, does it sometimes get a little annoying to hear people go on about how “tough” their day is?

Not at all. Just because it doesn’t seem tough to me doesn’t mean it’s not tough for someone else. You never know what each individual has going on in their life. So, for them it could be a tough day.

What's your take on making weight?

I hate it! I am very mentally tough so making weight has never been an issue. My last 2 weeks I am very strict on what I eat. Usually about a week out I am 10 pounds over. I cut down to 5 lbs out by Thursday and then cut the last 5 lbs of water weight that morning before weigh ins.

What does Kandace think of your fighting?

It makes her a nervous wreck! However, she knows it is something I am very passionate about and supports me 100%.

What fighters, male or female, do you admire and why?

Mine have changed some over the years but the 2 that has stayed constant is Georges St. Pierre and Demetrious Johnson. Both are very humble and confident. Both are as well rounded as they come.

How did you transition from amateur to pro and what advice to you have for others wanting to do the same?

People are going to progress at different rates but don’t go until you are ready mentally and physically. If you can’t be in the gym 2 times a day 5 to 6 days a week. Don’t make the jump until you are willing to make those sacrifices. I would also suggest have a very strong base in one area whether it be wrestling, bjj, Muay Thai. Anything that you can fall back on when things go sideways in there.

If I recall correctly you were a competitive archer in a former life. Tell me a little about that.

I shot and traveled all over the United States competing in archery when I was younger. In 2003 & 2004 I won back to back shooter of the year awards and back to back world championships!

What’s next for you in your fighting/martial arts career?

No scheduled fights at the moment. However, I just had a Black Belt BJJ Exhibition Match against Chad Hardy at Hatchers in Maryville on November 18th.

If you were to do ONE thing that you’ve never done, besides martial arts. Something else to apply your dedication to but you don’t because there are only so many hours in the day, what would it be?

I am a huge history buff. So, I think anything in archaeological work would be pretty cool.

I like to ask everyone to tell the readers what is one thing they can do to get started today (in either MMA or fighting-fitness) without any startup costs; something you can do at home, right now. What would you advise someone to do?

There are a ton of Youtube channels and fitness channels that are free of charge. Starting out just be active! Find something and do it 2 to 3 days a week 30 minutes to an hour. No matter what always push yourself. If its easy push harder.

Thank you so much for your time; it’s been an honor. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Personal Thanksgiving

My extended family and I were all very close and I had a great deal of involvement from my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  Today I want to give thanks to two individuals that I probably didn't thank enough at the time.
My Aunt Penny took me in many nights of the week and let me stay in their home.  I have great memories of staying up late, watching scary movies and enjoying life there.  She had two daughters of her own, Tori and Mallory.  Tori and I were born 2 months apart and were pretty much inseparable at times. My dad sometimes had go to to work super early and she would let him drop us at her house in the wee hours of the morning to wait until the bus ran to pick us all up.    She would take me along each weekend on family visits and to the mall or whatever excursion she had planned for them, always including me like one of her girls.

My Aunt Vickie (Mouse) was just as accepting.  She also had two children, Eric and Lindsay--Lindsay and I were very close in age and, really Lindsay, Tori and I were together much of the time.  I was always accepted in to her home as one of the family.  Once I fell in the gym and broke my radius.  My dad couldn't be reached (it wasn't yet the age of everyone having a cell  phone), so they got in touch with Vickie to come and get me.  She took me to the doctor so he could evaluate the damage before determining it was truly broken.  We lived out in the country and the whole process took hours.  She still had to drive another long distance to get me to my dad so he could get me to an even further orthopedic doctor.
I never remember these women complaining or not being accepting, loving and inviting and for that I want to thank each of you!  I love you both.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Two Women, Two Whiskeys, One Subject: Obstacle Racing Episode 1

My sister-in-law, Alex, and I did a video series on a variety of topics.  Here's our first installment of Two Women, Two Whiskeys, One Subject: Obstacle Racing where I reveal my most embarrassing moment on a course.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grandma's Sour Cream Coconut Cake

This cake is one of my favorites that my Grandma used to make.  This year I'm feeling nostalgic for my birthday and I'm making this for it.  I posted it here in my Grandma's writing.

It makes me happy just to see her writing again and who couldn't love the final line?  "Not designed for beauty-but for taste!"  Wouldn't life be better if we could all apply that?!

If you make it, let me know.  I want to see pictures!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Conversation with Dancer, Leia Campbell

First things first, Leia, thank you for taking the time. And, full-disclosure, we know each other. I married one of your cousins [which one, I won’t say.] So, we are related in that sense, but I must say we are also related in having a love of certain things out of the ordinary.

So, when did you first start pole dancing and how did you get started?  Did you take a class? 

I started pole dancing about five years ago. I stumbled across pole dancing watching YouTube videos one night and got sucked down the rabbit hole. That night I thought mhmm, I would like to try this, I wonder if anybody teaches here in Knoxville. So, I searched online and came across Sheer Inspiration Pole Fitness. I asked my husband what he thought about it, and signed up for a class.

Do you do any other types of dance or sports? 

I have taken belly dance classes and performed in a burlesque troop for about two years. I also love to explore outdoors and paddleboard.

What does Caleb think of your dancing? 

I have his full support. He knows I enjoy it, that it challenges me, keeps me healthy. And he thinks its sexy.

Have you done public performances, private events, or is this for the sheer love of it? 

I have performed in a studio review at The International. Sheer Inspiration Pole Fitness does a student review about twice a year and the shows are awesome! Everybody puts a lot of work, training, and creativity into their performances, the support and feedback one gets from fellow performers is invaluable.  It really makes it fun to participate in. And if you’ve never been to a pole show before they are so much fun!

What thoughts did you have before your first performance? 

Even though I had performed before in the burlesque troupe performing for the pole review was a different beast altogether. I was so nervous!

Do you have a stage name and if so how did you come by it? 

I do not have a stage name for pole performances. My burlesque stage name was Diane Taluvya, and my husband came up with the name.  I thought it was cheeky and could work in a cutesy and a kind of deadly dame manner which was the persona I was going for, and I think I carried that through into my performance for pole. I’ve always been drawn to the dark and sort of macabre side of things.

Have you ever had an embarrassing or unusual moment in a performance?

Something unexpected almost always happens in a performance and you’ve just got to go with it and make it look like you meant to do that. In the pole performance my bustle skirt snapped and when I stood up to walk off stage my skirt came detached too, so I just flung it over my shoulder nonchalantly, did a little half turn and wink and strutted off the stage. Had I not had experience in doing burlesque I probably would’ve been mortified and looked awkward, but the thing is to keep the “act” going no matter what happens.

Who inspires you in dancing?  

My pole momma and instructor at the studio I attend, Natasha Fine, is a huge inspiration to me! Along with I everyone I dance with at the studio they are all amazing and supportive. I also love Alethea Austin and Marlo Fisken. Alethea has a studio in Nashville, the Chrome Bar, and produces and performs in her shows Live Dancing Girls and Miss Pole Dance America. If you have the chance to attend one of her shows, go! It will blow your mind! Marlo Fisken has a studio based out of Boulder, CO, and she teaches movement classes called Flow Movement that are available to the masses online, if you can’t attend one in person; they are also amazing!

Any other inspirations outside dancing

I love film, nature, music, my family, and friends, I draw inspiration from all these things. I’m not a professional dancer and I am certainly not the best pole dancer I know (there are many others that are waaaayyy better than me), but I have fallen in love with the sport and plan to keep doing it as long as I can.

Pole dancing has a stigma of being associated with stripping and not-niceness, which is short-sighted to my mind.  Is the stripper-connection a misconception or do they work hand in hand?

The thing that people have a misconception about pole dance is that it is one thing. When in truth it can be whatever you want it to be. If you want a challenging workout that works all parts of your body in strength, endurance, and flexibility, then pole is for you. If you want to float like a fairy in a tutu and have a completely ethereal look, then pole is for you. If you want to have high drama or express your pain, then pole is for you. Pole is whatever you make it! So, if you want to also dance in stripper style with grinding, directional body touching, heel clacks, and floor work then, yes, pole dancing is for you! Pole dancing is what you make it!

You once posted this cute video of Caleb holding Coraline, then just a baby, and getting her to swing around the pole.  I believe you said now she plays on it and says "Look Mommy!  I go round and round!"  It was so adorable! Have you had any judgmental push back? What would you say to them if they were right in front of you

I have gotten eye rolls, been made fun of, been aghast at, had that awkward silence after saying something about what you did in class that day or that you performed in a pole show. The misconception that the studio is where sleazy strip club managers come to your class on a talent search for their club (yes, someone asked me if that happened) is just flat out wrong! I know that pole is so much more than what people think it is. People can either see past their preconceptions or you realize that is not something you can share with them. I know now that there is a wonderful community of people that love the sport, and are willing to talk and share about their love of pole too.
If my daughter came to me today and said mommy I want to learn how to do that, I would let her in a heartbeat. I would liken it to gymnastics and have seen other children participate in it as well, so I see nothing wrong with it.

What advice would you give to other dancers who are faced with opposition from friends/family/culture about what they do? 

Keep going, do what you love. I’ve learned who I can be open about it with and who I will get a backlash from. If you do get a backlash, I would realize that they don’t have a full picture of what pole dance is, and for those haters, realize that you can do something they can’t, and smile to yourself about it, you are the one enjoying the spoils and satisfaction from the hard work you have put into your training, they are the ones missing out, wishing they had arms like yours.

If there were one other hobby/pastime that you don’t currently do, but wouldn’t mind giving it a go, what would it be? 

I would like to try silks or lyra. The aerial arts bug has bitten me. And I feel like the community of flow artists is rich in this area. As a little girl I wanted to join the circus and as an adult I don’t feel like that feeling has ever left except now I feel like I might have a talent if the option ever arose.

So, Leia, if our readers wanted to start dancing what advice could you give them to get up right now and get started without any money or going somewhere? How can they capture a little bit of what you do? 

Turn on some music and start to move, see where the music takes you. To vary it up set a mood in the area you are dancing, change up the lighting, and challenge yourself by trying to evoke a mood thru dance or dance to music you wouldn’t typically dance too; push yourself out of your comfort zone and see what happens. You might surprise yourself!

Here are my answers, Kylie. Thanks for thinking of me when you think of doers, that feels good. I hope to keep doing and try new things and hopefully inspire others, especially my daughter. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Recipe: Colombian Ajiaco (Chicken and Potato Soup)

Colombian Ajiaco (Chicken and Potato Soup)

A friend of mine from Colombia, Liliana, told me about this delicious recipe and it's super easy to make.  This one is found online at and I love to make it on a chilly day.

Colombian Ajiaco (Chicken and Potato Soup)

Serves 6 to 8
2 large chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds mixed potatoes (red, yukon gold, and russets), peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
2-3 ears fresh corn, cut crosswise into quarters, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 bunch cilantro, with stems, washed very well and tied with twine
1 bunch green onions, washed and tied with twine
2 tablespoons dried guascas
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup Crema Mexicana, sour cream or crème fraîche
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
Place the chicken in a glass or ceramic dish. Top with the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4-quart lidded pot, like the Chambaware pot or a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken with its marinating bits and brown each side, about 6 minutes total. Pour in the stock and raise the heat to high. When the mixture boils, lower the heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a platter, reserving the cooking liquid in the pot. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Cut or tear the chicken breasts into bite-size strips and discard the bones.
Place the potatoes in the pot with the leftover cooking liquid and set over medium heat. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. 
Add the corn, the bunch of scallions, the bunch of cilantro, and the guascas. Simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but not overcooked. Remove the cilantro and scallions and return the chicken to the pot. Simmer another few minutes until the chicken is warmed through.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls and place the toppings on the table to be passed around.

Recipe Notes

  • Most Latin-American markets carry guascas, under the Kiska or El Rey brand. You can also find it online at stores like Amigo Foods, TIFCO and even Amazon. If you can't track down guascas, substitute dried oregano.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Conversation with musician Kenny Pipes

Kenny, thank you so much for talking with me. I know you via martial arts but what I really wanted to talk to you about was your music. I am a big fan of anyone, literally anyone, who gets out there and does things. I’ve caught some of your work online, and you’re quite good. What instrument(s) do you play?

I play guitar and I am really good at playing the radio. LOL

Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?

I have taught myself a lot on my own, but my influence to learn was definitely my dad and step mom.  I was 8ish give or take a year, when my dad met my step mom, Linda.  She could sing very well and played guitar. Linda influenced my dad and he started learning guitar; they would have friends over every Saturday night at our house to play and sing.  Some Friends knew how to play guitar and sing and a few learned over the years as they came over.  I look back now and think what great friendships they had and how much fun they had as adults.  I didn’t realize any of this as a kid.  They played two kinds of music to quote my dad, “Country and Western” haha.  I remember one song they did very well, which my youngest sister is named after, “Amanda” by Waylon Jennings and that has to be the beginning of my music love.  My dad bought my first guitar when I was 16, it was a Gibson with a little Peavey amp and there you have it.  I hid in my room for a year and learned to play songs from guitar magazine and shredded it!!!!  LOL

You also write your own music and lyrics.  What inspired you to get started?

I can’t really remember how and why I started writing.  I didn’t sing when I first started playing then somehow along the way I picked it up. I’m sure I was inspired to write my first song, after being heart broken. LOL

Do you have a process for your song-writing?

I don’t have a process like most writers, which is why I only have about a dozen originals. My songs just hit me after some kind of inspiration and it usually is a pretty quick process. I am not able to start a song, table it for a bit and come back to it. I just have to lay it out as it hits, which some of my song are pretty basic and a couple are pretty in depth, but they mean something to me and it feels right to me.

One of my most popular songs “ In My Dreams “ , I wrote in about 20 minutes and it was inspired by a crush I had to a young lady that was to be married.

One that I really like “ Sunday” was inspired by a news article about a mom who had a drug addiction and left her 2 year old locked in a closet while she was gone, and it inspired me to write it from the father and family's point of view. I wrote “Sunday” in about 10 minutes.

Do you ever play covers or do you like creating all your own music?

I do play a lot of covers, when I gig out in my opinion it’s a must. No one really knows me or my music, so it’s hard to entertain someone who is a stranger to my music; most people want to hear songs they are familiar with.  Once someone learns my songs they typically like most of them. I get very frustrated after hearing myself on recordings, I don’t feel like I am very good, but then I hear some of the garbage that is out there and I get inspired to play again. 

Who inspires you, musically or otherwise?

Wow, that’s a long list. I love ALL kinds of music. I can say as I get older, I am a little more country though. I am current really into Chris Stapleton, Aaron Lewis’ solo stuff and I really dig Cadillac Three, as I play mostly acoustic these days, but if I plug in and jam it’s a bit different. Over the years my influences would include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackberry Smoke, Bob Seger. I am more of a blues/southern rocker if I plug in.

Have you ever played live in front of an audience?

Oh, yes many times. I am nervous as hell every time until I get started.

What thought was going through your head right before your first performance?

Ha, try not to pee my pants.

If you could staff your dream band, who would you have on what instruments?

Oh my, well, Chris Stapleton on vocals, Aaron Lewis on acoustic guitar and vocals, Kenny Wayne Shepard on lead guitar and vocals, Charley Daniels on fiddle and vocals, and Dave Grohl on Drums and vocals.  I would also need a slide guitar player and maybe Harmonica.

What gear do you use?

My acoustic rig consists of a Fender acoustic guitar and an Ovation acoustic, which I usually plug mic and guitars directly into the P.A.  I also have a 76 Fender Telecaster, which has a Seymour Duncan “Hot Rail” pick up in the bridge, she screams when needed.  I use this one to gig out with.  My prize possession is a 1963 Gretsch, Chet Atkins, Country Gentleman, mint condition. And I play through a late 60’s Fender Twin Reverb with various pedals.

Do you have any other interests or hobbies?

I have trained in Martial Arts on and off for over 25 yrs.  I am also a connoisseur of Bud Light.

We always like to end these conversations with asking the expert what's one thing you could tell someone reading this that they can do in their home right now to get started musically without purchasing anything? Anything to get up, get going, get doing.

Sing, sing out loud, sing out loud tunes, it’s free, it’s satisfying and it does the heart and soul good, in key or out.

Kenny, thank you for taking the time!

No, thank you for taking the time and interest.  What a wonderful opportunity you have given me. 
If anyone is interested they can look me up on Facebook and YouTube.

FB link,

YouTube link,

Friday, November 3, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A conversation with author/historian, Bethany Dillon

About the Author: My name is Bethany Dillon, author of War-Torn: A Look at Warfare
in North America Before European Influence. I have written this book to honor my good friend
and teacher Danny J.. Hoskins as well as all of my friends, teachers and guides who have been a
blessing to my life of 23 years. While I am part Lakota Sioux and have spent some years sharing
a home, and way of life among some of the most amazing people of the Navajo nation, it wasn’t
until I met Danny J. Hoskins I started to delve into Native American history, culture, dance,
games and warfare in depth and started looking into my own culture more thoroughly. He was
my first teacher in Martial Arts and teaches Native American Warrior Arts here in the U.S, a
very effective martial arts system he leads where he has taught me about the weapons, warfare,
wrestling, games, hunting, dance, and history of the indigenous people of North-Central and
South America. While I love training Native American Warrior Arts, I do love all forms of
martial arts and have since meeting him began exploring a number of different Martial
disciplines and began working with a number of talented martial artists. Aside from martial arts I
enjoy historical research, studying law, learning languages, writing, the outdoors, doing
volunteer work and target practicing with my 9mm pistol and shotgun. My goal is to continue
being a historical researcher and writer but also pursue a lifestyle of helping victims of crime as a
victims advocate, counselor, and paralegal. I have many more books I hope to have out in the
future and am thankful for every day I get to spend doing what I love.

First, thanks for talking with me. Second, your book War-Torn: A Look at
Warfare in North American Before European Influence, a fascinating topic, what got you
interested in this area?

You’re welcome. It is an honor to shed light on this topic and I am delighted to answer
any questions you have. What got me interested was a number of things. First was having spent
my early childhood among the Navajo people for the majority of my early life and having
participated in their ceremonies, dances and culture. Experiences which I shall never forget and
am most grateful for. The second was my Sioux lineage on my father’s side and having met
Master Danny. J Hoskins who is a leading expert on the subject of Native American Warfare. I
have known him for a number of years and he has encouraged me to research all aspects of
Native American life. While researching I noticed a lack of knowledge on the subject of Native
American Warfare. Particularly warfare before first contact. Everything available to the public
on the subject is often exaggerated, biased and stereotypical. Methods of war used after the
emergence of white settlers have been assumed to be methods that have always been used, and
historical accounts by often racist white explorers, soldiers etc have formed the basis of our
understanding of warfare in modern day America. Historical artifacts, oral histories, regalia,
artwork, and even pottery have left clues as to the way warfare was originally practiced among
the Native Americans, long before whites have left their impressions, opinions and beliefs.

Another aspect that got me interested on this topic was my Grandfather who had
lived his whole life facing discrimination because of his race and due to this fell into depression,
poverty and despair. He felt inferior and defeated and always wanted to be a cowboy like John
Wayne rather than be in his own red skin. Everybody respected and admired John Wayne, never
the Indian. An impression years of the cinema cowboys and Indians have left on him. In films
the Indian is often portrayed as inferior in intellect, stoic, unskilled in warfare, weapons and
strategy, charged head on into battle with no plans and lacked in comparison to the white man in
sophisticated language, religion and culture. In fact, the Native Americans were exactly the
opposite of cinematic stereotypes. It was my wish to let others know who may be experiencing
the same animosity that their ancestors were unparalleled in their strength, in warfare, in life, and
as a people and that no one can take that strength away from them as courage and bravery are
eternal. As a victim of multiple crimes in the past, I am aware of the damage people can do to
your self-esteem, hope and strength. By exploring the trials my ancestors and those long before
my time have endured and battled in life it has also given me hope and a strong spirit to triumph
over difficulties and strength to endure future battles.

Most people have images of “the noble Savage” in mind when they think of the American
Indian, but you are able to shine a light on a less than savory side of things. What examples
can you offer to open our eyes just a bit to the realities?

Most people today think of the Indian as having either been entirely hostile with no
regard for life or entirely peaceful and spiritual. The reality of Native Americans is that they
always waged war though like every people loved and adored life, the creator and creation.
Before the whites emerged, they warred amongst each other and did things that no man should
have to endure by their brothers as all people of the earth have done. No different than any other
culture were the cruelties expressed by Indian upon Indian though not all people were cruel just
as you, the reader are not cruel. Where mankind has gone so too has warfare, violence and
bloodshed, hardship, tears and toil. The Native Americans are not left out of such hostilities.
Even in the coldest and remote places on earth, weapons have emerged and histories have
been kept among the elders of great heroes and villains, of great tragedies and triumphs but also
of birth and renewed life. Too often today we fall victim to stereotypes, prejudiced accounts and
false impressions that have today began to manipulate our opinions and have even mislead the
majority of researchers. While some of the time this is done unintentionally, people have worked
towards denying cultures their history of militarism. A part of genocide that has yet to die out
and a form of colonial oppression whose time should come to an end.

I know from experience, it's hard to write a book. So many projects get started and not
finished in life, what kept you going?

What kept me going through this project was my eagerness share this knowledge with
others. Never before has anyone dared to challenge modern ideas of the Native American warrior
and as a practitioner of Native American Warrior Arts I felt others truly should know that Native
Americans knew what they were doing in regard to battle, warrior training and weaponry.

What first interested you in Indian Warfare in particular?

I think the fact that it is the least explored mode of warfare. Especially before white contact.

Is there a particular tribe that interests you more than the others?

The Inuit interests me the most as nearly every scholar believes they did not participate in
warfare at all due to the harsh conditions of the arctic. By researching, talking with elders and
analyzing historical artifacts, I have learned the opposite is true.

What is one of the lesser known warfare tactics or weapons you speak of in your book that
you can tell us about today?

The fact that women participated in warfare is a topic least explained. Many warrior
women have fought alongside the men either with or without approval and have fought just as
skillfully, sometimes earning status as war leaders and sitting among the councils of men. Some
of these include Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Dahteste, Lozen, Woman Chief (Pine Leaf) and
Running Eagle. A tactic I do not speak of is the plains Indians use of dummies in battle. By
dressing branches with their clothing they would hide in an obscured position and lift the bait
into sight. Thinking they have spotted an enemy, soldiers would waste their arrows or bullets in
later days destroying what they believed to be the enemy being careless. Once the enemy ran out
of ammunition they would rush from their hiding spot and attack with full force.

How old were you when you published the book and at what age did you start writing it?

I was 22 when I started writing it and 22 when I published. It took me around three months.

I believe you were home-schooled, as I was. I found this gave me a lot more freedom to use
my study time as I was interested and not as dictated by the government run system. Do
you feel like this gave you more time to study your passion/interests than would have been
granted in public school system?

Absolutely. I feel like I have been more inspired to learn since being home schooled and
appreciate knowledge more than others normally would who were at my age. As a child I studied
in my free time and was not restricted by social norms or tight schedules which made life less
stressful and learning fun.

I know I don't, but I love to ask other home schoolers, do you have any regrets about not
going to school in the traditional sense?

Not at all.

Are you working on another book?

I am working on two projects right now which I hope to have finished sometime next year.

Do you have any other unusual or interesting hobbies?

I enjoy carving, playing the Native American flute, Tinglit drum and practicing my Atlatl and
Bow and Arrow. I enjoy journaling, weight lifting and looming.

What is something you would love to try, but haven't yet?

Traveling. I have never left the United States.

What advice to you have for our readers to get started in writing a project? Where to start
researching? Getting published? Anything at all to get them going right now.

My advice is to do a project because and for somebody else. Inspiration is short lived when it is
self-serving. Go to a public library before the internet for research, go to a museum, don’t be
afraid to interview people and try out self-publishing before getting into a big publishing
company. They can be timely, and costly but if your goal is to reach a larger audience then big
publisher is the way to go. I self-published on Amazon which is very simple and easy to do. Just
be sure to get your work edited by a professional and one that can be trusted.

Thank you so much for your time; it’s been an honor.

You’re very welcome. It has been an honor for me as well. Thank you.

A Conversation with Chef Paul Deiana-Molnar

First, thanks for talking to me, Paul. Full-disclosure, one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten was prepared by you—so thank you again for th...