Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Taste of 1927

Several months ago (or is it a year or so?)  my dear grandmother gave me the wonderful gift of a couple cookbooks that used to belong to my great-grandma Ethel Carson (1884-1987).

One, Quaker Cereal Products and How to Use Them, was copyrighted in 1927.  The other, which looks more well-used, is missing the front cover.  I'm not sure of the date or title, but it appears to be a Rumford Baking Powder cookbook.  

Both are splendid examples of how quality used to matter more (in nearly everything).  The Quaker Cereal Products book is filled with beautiful illustrations.
Before the recipes in each chapter are brief historical and scientific facts about the grains.


Rumford's cookbook gives cooks detailed instructions on how to improve sanitation and efficiency in their kitchens, gives tables of weights, measures, and proportions, and explains various methods of cooking and how to formally set a table and create a menu.  

Here's a recipe I recently tried from Rumford's cookbook.  The cake is very moist and has just the right sweetness; however, to me it is more like a spice cake than a rich chocolate cake (though perhaps I used too weak of a chocolate).


Rumford Chocolate Cake
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 level cups sugar
1 egg, beaten light
3 ounces chocolate, melted
3 level teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup milk
2 level cups flour
3 level teaspoons Rumford baking powder
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 level teaspoon salt.

Cream the butter; beat half the sugar into the butter, the other half into the beaten egg and combine the two; beat in the melted chocolate; add the three teaspoons of sugar and the boiling water to the chocolate left on the dish and stir and cook over the fire until boiling, then let chill.  To the first mixture, alternately, add the milk, and the flour sifted with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt and beat in the chilled chocolate mixture .  Bake in layers about fifteen minutes; in a sheet about thirty minutes.

If your taste for chocolate still isn't satisfied by the time you've finished stoking the fire after making this cake, try the recipe below found at an awesome cooking website I recently discovered.

"Let's face it, a good creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people."  --Audrey Hepburn

Chocolate is a timeless treat.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Shall Not Be Moved

One important lesson in life is not to be unduly influenced by what other people say or think.  Some people are encouragers, others are discouragers, and others are determined to hinder.  It is good when people encourage us on our way; appreciate it, but don't depend on their encouragement; you can survive without it.  And don't let the naysayers stop you from your goals; there will always be people who tell you everything is hopeless.  Don't listen to them.

In the old tv series The Six Million Dollar Man and Get Smart, Steve Austin and Maxwell Smart sometimes faced enemy machines and robots which seemed nearly indestructible, impervious to damage.  But humans are not robots.  We have feelings; we can be hurt.  Even if we don't like to admit it, we can be made angry, lose our tempers, or cry.  Emotions are natural, and in many cases they are good.

But emotions can become our enemies if we let them rule our lives.  Everything must have its rightful place.  We must learn to forgive and not holding grudges.  A lot of people say unkind things without thinking.  Don't take them too seriously.  Proverbs 19:11 says, "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression."

Don't let what other people say bother you; they won't judge you on Judgment Day.  God is your judge, and He is the only one to whom you must give account of your life.  It's what God thinks of you that really matters.  When you're tempted to become discouraged or upset by what other people say, think of the song, "Jesus is my Savior, I shall not be moved."

"For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint,
 and I know that I shall not be ashamed."  --Isaiah 50:7

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."  --Proverbs 29:18

I recently was able to work in my flower garden for the first time this year.  I trimmed my rose bush, cleaned out the old foliage from my day lilies and some of my irises, and destroyed the remnants of a stray blackberry plant.  I was slightly surprised that weeds were alive and growing as soon as the snow had melted (and before this week's snow storm), and I set to work eradicating my garden of them.

Last year I had my most beautiful flower garden ever, and this year I am hoping to do better; but it takes a lot of work.  Quite a few years ago I was not diligent in keeping it weeded, and I grew a world-champion weed garden: humungous dandelions, 6-foot tall weeds, and healthy wild grasses.  I didn't have a vision for my garden and so nature took over and its floral aesthetic value declined.

The same thing happens with houses.  If someone does not take the time to clean, repair, and upkeep them, they gradually become uninhabitable. In our spiritual lives, we need to deliberately take time to read God's word and spend time with Him, or our relationship with Him will disintegrate.

Nations decline as their people become apathetic, yielding to lives of careless luxury and fruitless pleasures and losing their vision for greatness (as happened with Rome).  We have to have a robust, active vision in life.  Nature's course for men and for nations leads to degeneration, slow steady decline, and eventual death and destruction.  

God has called us to better things.  Never lose your vision.  Build your life on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.  Spend time with Jesus; He is alive and He can show you the paths He has for you.  You need the Word of God in your life.  God's course leads us higher and higher into the inimitable exaltation of His glory.  Serving Him is our ultimate goal, and he must be glorified in all that we do.

"Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."  --Ecclesiastes 9:10

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stand up to the Devil

"For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, 
from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."  --Mark 4:25

     A lot of things in life are affected by the snowball effect.  The rich seem to get richer; the famous get more fame.  And the talented get more opportunities to increase their talent.  This is not at all bad, but unfortunately it works the other way too.

If you let one person (or government) knock you down or discourage you, others will know you are vulnerable and knock you even further down.  The spirits of fear, laziness, worry, and doubt are just like alcohol: addictive.  Don't yield yourself to them.  Resist evil and be strong.  

Another lesson I learned from my chickens:  Hens who were picked on by the others developed a spirit of fear.  They'd start clucking fearfully and run away whenever another chicken walked by them.  It didn't matter whether they were bigger or stronger; they were scared!  If they had stood up for themselves they might have had a chance, but sadly fear ruined their lives.

Romans 6:16 says, "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"  Don't let bad habits get a hold of you.  

Waking up at a decent hour is easy for someone who has done so day after day for the past year, but for someone who has said, "Yet a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep!" for the past week, it may be almost impossible.  Getting a job done is easy for someone who is diligent, but for someone who is lazy it may seem like climbing Mt. Everest.

Just like we must stay physically fit by exercising our muscles, we must exercise our will power every day and face the challenges before us.   We must face our bad habits, our fears, our enemies, and every evil that comes against us.  We must stand up to the devil!  If we cower, we may get nothing done in our lives.  We will be just like a poor scared chicken, buffaloed by everything.  But as the saying goes, "Where there's a will there's a way!"  It may be hard at first, but it will get easier as we establish good habits.  The Bible says resist the devil and he will flee!  With God all things are possible.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oakview Volunteer Dinner

Last year I wrote (here) about how much I enjoyed the dinner Oakview Nursing gave for those who volunteer (we get to give concerts there a few times every year).  When we received an invitation to their volunteer dinner this year we didn't want to miss it for anything.

The dinner was held at the same venue as last year, the spacious Beaman Memorial Building.  We signed in for a drawing for flower vases and took our seats at a table.  The tables were decorated with umbrellas and flower arrangements to give the room a very spring-like look.  

After greeting our wonderful hostess Jane and the Oakview staff, we admired the quilts on the walls while we waited for the first course.  The butterfly quilt above is one of my mother's favorites.  

Soon salads were served, and we enjoyed the crispy lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.  I'm not very much of a salad fan, but they definitely know how to make a simple salad taste good.
I came to dinner starving, and quickly ate all my salad.  The dangerous part of eating salad first is that it takes up so much room not enough is left to finish the main course.

...And that can be disappointing when the main course consists of a generous helping of potatoes, pork, and green beans.  The potatoes were wonderful.

Next came the most important part of the meal!  Guess what?!
Raspberry Cheesecake and French Silk Pie!

My youngest sister and I split a piece of each so we could taste both.  The French Silk was very sweet and light and the raspberry cheesecake was splendid (I love the taste of raspberries!).

After dessert the 3 tables of people were assigned to write a story about 3 elderly people, George (a 92 year old veteran), Ethel (an 80-something lady with an attitude), and Bill (A charming 82 year old gentleman).  Table 1 was to write about their morning.  Table 2 would write about lunch and the afternoon, and Table 3 would write about the evening.  We were also given several words that we had to implement in our stories.  It was fun to do, and very interesting to hear the completed story.
Then everyone who wanted to participate was invited to sit in a wide circle, and while music played we passed around a few packaged presents.  When the music stopped, whoever had them in hand had to unwrap one layer, and then the music would start again.  The people who unwrapped the last layer of packaging received the present.  Some people got Gatorade, others M&Ms, chocolate, and packaged cakes, and I received chewing gum (above).  My mother won a vase of flowers in the drawing.

It was a very pleasant evening, and I would like to thank Jane, Lynn, and all the staff at Oakview for the wonderful dinner.  They know how to make a dinner both fun and delicious, and Oakview once again retains its title as a wonderful place to volunteer.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

"Do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men?
 for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."  --Galations 1:10

Be wise when making decisions.  You are the only one who will have to live with the decisions you make for the rest of your life.  Other people are well-meaning, and in trying to influence your decisions, they may have your best interest in mind, but they won't have to live with your decisions.  You do.  

Ask the Lord for guidance, follow His leading, and make the decisions you believe are best.  Don't let others pressure you into making decisions you may later regret. 

In Reassess Your Chess, Silman tells us that we have to defend our position and prove it is superior.  You need to believe in what you are doing.  If you don't, no one will.  Your opponent will insist that his position is better, but don't listen to him.  It's your job to prove your position is the best.   

Seize the opportunities you have; if you don't they will soon be gone.  But don't go into commitments half-heartedly.  Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways, and He will direct your paths.  As Davy Crockett said, "First make sure you're right, then go ahead."  

Pleasing others is a hopeless cause.  It doesn't matter what people think of you; they come and go.  Don't depend on other people's principles.  People fail.  People change.  But God is always there; He never fails or changes.  Nothing can be hid from him.  On Judgment Day you won't be answerable to anyone else.  You don't have to give account of your deeds to friends or church or anyone.  You will give account to God.

We each must have the attitude to say, "I'm going to do what God wants me to do, regardless of what anyone else in the entire world says, does, or thinks."  Only people with that attitude will be able to stand in the face of trial.

Throughout history most people simply flow with the tide.  In Nazi Germany most churches started singing the praises of Hitler from the pulpit and the pews.  Only a few dared to stand against it; they suffered persecution.  Under other wicked regimes the story has always been the same; only a chosen few will raise their voices against evil and refuse to bow to the devil when all their friends do.

God is your Judge.  What you do in your life is between you and God.  It doesn't matter what other people say.  Please God.



"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.  Yea, the darkness hideth not from not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.  For thou has possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:  marvellous are thy works;
 and that my soul knoweth right well."  --Psalm 139:7-14

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Legacy

"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage."  --Psalm 16:6

If time continues, sooner or later, we all will die.  What matters is how we live our lives and what we leave behind us.  What will be our legacy?  Will our lives continue to bless others long after we are gone?

Bach and Beethoven will never be forgotten.  Their music has blessed others for hundreds of years.  Anthony Burger died when he was only 44, yet his piano playing still blesses people today.  Many authors like Victor Hugo, songwriters such as Fanny Crosby, actors like John Wayne, statesmen like Thomas Jefferson, tyrants like Mao Zedong, conquerors like Alexander the Great, criminals like Jesse James, lawmen like Wyatt Earp, and inventors such as Thomas Edison have all earned places for their names in history, whether in fame or infamy.  

Children are another important legacy.  They are the ones who can carry on the good fight after the parents' generation is long gone.  In them, many of the parents' traits, characteristics, and (hopefully!) wisdom can live on.  

Many people's life's labor is in providing for themselves and their families; in their endeavors these ordinary people play an integral part in keeping society running smoothly.  They construct buildings, build tractors and cars, drive trucks and busses, fly airplanes, deliver newspapers, repair farm machinery, sew clothing, and doctor the sick.  They leave a legacy of hard work and prosperity.  Without these "ordinary" people, society would long ago have collapsed.  

But sadly, the names of ordinary individuals are often forgotten, by society and even by their own descendents.  Someone may see their names etched on gravestones, but who they are and what they were like is unfortunately soon lost forever.  As Ecclesiastes says, "The memory of them is forgotten.  Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun."

There are a lot of things that we think are very important now that won't matter at all 100 years from now.  But there are other things that will never be forgotten.  Small deeds of kindness and acts of love live on.  Today we still talk about Mary who anointed Jesus' feet with ointment and wiped them with her hair.  

We don't have to conquer the world to leave a worthwhile legacy.  But we must remember that our lives will soon be over; we have only a short time to leave our mark upon this world.  Leave a legacy that will make the world a better place, and shine the Light of Christ.  Be a blessing to others.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Thankful Heart


"You never know how good you have it until it's gone...gone!"  Aunt Esther used to remind us, frequently starting to cry as she repeated "gone."  She had a long and sometimes hard life.  She was born in 1900, before the first airplane flew and the Titanic sank.  She was from a different era, and she saw many things come and go before her death in 2009.  Though she now too has passed on, her advice on thankfulness has stayed with me.

I was reminded of it again this Thursday morning when I temporarily lost my voice due to a mild cold.  I wanted to sing a song; I wanted to talk with my family; I wanted to call my grandparents; but all I could manage was an occasional whisper.  I generally have very good health (thank the Lord), so this rarely happens; it's certainly a reminder of how thankful I should be for my voice!

It's easy to take a lot of the wonderful things God has given us for granted; we sometimes are guilty of complaining when in reality we have everything so good!  We 21st century Americans are particularly spoiled.  We have clean running hot and cold water at every faucet, electricity, more food than we know what to do with, high speed internet connections, good medical care, and nice warm homes.  We haven't had foreign troops invading our soil since the war of 1812.  Many of us have loving families and good health.

We have everything to thank God for. We need to appreciate all the Lord has done for us and give Him the credit.

God hates it when people who are very blessed complain and turn their backs on Him.  God said to Israel in Deuteronomy 28, "Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee."

Take a moment to tell the Lord how much you appreciate all the wonderful things He has done for you today.  In every circumstance there is always something for which we can be grateful.  The Lord always sends a ray of sunshine and a beam of hope.  Thank Him!

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."  --Corrie ten Boom

God gives us the strength we need to face each day.  He understands our weaknesses and watches our steps, making sure our burdens are never heavier than we can bear.  

Today is the day He has given us to live.  We make life hard for ourselves when we spend our days regretting our yesterdays and fretting over our tomorrows.  We weren't meant to bear the pains, fears, and cares of 20 years in one day.  We are meant to live today.  

Learn from yesterday.  Forgive and forget the bad things; learn from mistakes, and cherish the sweet by-gone moments.  But live today.  Our wildest imaginations can not grasp what tomorrow will bring, but our heavenly Father holds our future in His Almighty Hand.  We must nurture our relationship with Him.  His plans for us are good; He will see us through every challenge, every mountain, and every valley we must face.  He will give us the strength, fortitude, and wisdom we need.  He gives us our future as we are able to bear it: one moment, one hour, one day at a time.  

We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know the One who holds tomorrow.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The International Buffet

Last Thursday, my family and I visited the International Buffet in Waterloo.  We like it mostly for its Asian cuisine (the owners are Chinese), but as its name suggests, the buffet offers a wide selection of foods.  

We came at about 2 pm, which meant we missed both the lunch and supper crowds and had the place virtually to ourselves.  Unfortunately the food had cooled down a bit and some of the dishes hadn't been re-filled yet, so it wasn't quite as good quality this time as it is usually (it's best to come at either lunch or supper time), but I enjoyed it thoroughly!  

The lunch price was about $6.00 which plus drinks (soda pop) came to a little over $46.00 for the six of us.  I thought it was quite reasonable considering we could eat all we wanted.  Supper prices are slightly more expensive, but still not bad.
My first helping (above) consisted of a Shanghai Roll, a sweet roll, sweet and sour chicken (my favorite!), sesame chicken, chicken nuggets, fried rice, and a pastry.  Another family member's first plate (below) included onion rings, rice noodles, and an almond cookie. 

 I prefer chicken and she is a vegetarian, but the buffet had plenty to choose from.  Sushi anyone?  

The Sushi bar hadn't been re-stocked after the lunch crowd, but I really didn't mind... 

There were stuffed mushrooms, asparagus, beef dishes, seafood, and potato dishes.  There was also a salad bar and a dessert section replenished with jello, puddings, fruit, coconut cookies, pastries, and a type of cake.

To the side of the dessert selection there is a self-serve freezer filled with various types of ice cream.
 My favorites are pecan and mint chip. 

The service was good (we were well attended by a waitress who refilled our cups and took our used plates), and the restaurant was very nice and clean.  We have visited the restaurant a time or two every year for the past nearly 10 years.  It is a very nice place; the paint is starting to wear off in a few places on window sills, etc. by now, but the chandeliers are still beautiful!

When we first started going to the International Buffet they played hymns like This is My Father's World in the background, and we were both surprised and delighted.  They no longer play hymns, but we still very much enjoy their peaceful, beautifully arranged classical music.  It has a way of adding something relaxing to the atmosphere.

The International Buffet is one of my all time favorite restaurants, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes Chinese food.  Just be sure to come at the lunch or supper hour to make sure the food is hot.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The 2014 Iowa Class Championships: Part 2

My opponent in the third round was Robert Johnson (1636).  I was black and got to play the Sicilian, which made me very happy.  I did have the disadvantage (excuse?) of hardly any rest time between games.



Once again I cracked under imaginary threats, sacrificing a piece to escape them when the threats were in reality innocuous.  Mr. Johnson played well, and I ended my misery by resigning.  The game was short, and so I had plenty of time to recuperate before the final round. 
I watched an episode of Black Saddle with Mama (a 1959 Western series starring Peter Breck, Russell Johnson, and Anna-Lisa), and we went out to the car for a snack, some fresh air, and a couple chess boards so we could play bughouse.  The church below is part of the city scenery that can be seen from the clinic. 

When we returned to the clinic, we watched part of a Lassie episode.  Players were starting to finish their games, and so we got some bughouse games started. 
At last, it was time for the final round.  This time I played Dave Wolz (1740), known across the nation as the barefoot chess player.  I played the Queen's Gambit again, and thoroughly messed up the opening, losing a pawn and giving him a lead in development.  I was able to consolidate my position however, and eventually won by an unfortunate oversight on his part.
Some of my family members' games were still in progress, so I watched various games.  The Iowa Closed Championship was in progress in the same room with 6 players competing for the state title.  It was won the next day for the fourth time by Tim McEntee (Congratulations!).  My brother finished as co-champion of Class C; and my 2 sisters finished 1st and tied for 2nd in Class D. 
On our way home we stopped at McDonalds for cheeseburgers, fries, and fish fillets to celebrate.  Upon arrival home at about 11:30, I was exhausted and promptly went to sleep.
Thanks to Mark Capron and Eric Vigil for directing a great tournament, and to Dr. Robert Keating who provided the use of the very nice tournament rooms to everyone for free!  I very much enjoyed the tournament.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The 2014 Iowa Class Championships

Saturday, I woke up shortly before 7:00 AM; a half hour later we were on our way to the Physician's Clinic in Cedar Rapids for the 2014 Iowa Class Championship. 

On the way we stopped at McDonalds and a Sinclair gas station for breakfast.  I enjoyed a sausage egg McMuffin and a cream-filled donut.  We also read Ezekiel 37, the chapter where Ezekiel sees a valley of dry bones in a vision, and God brings them back to life.  It's an amazing chapter.  When it seems like all hope is gone; God can do the impossible!

We had free parking in the parking ramp, and took the skywalk into the clinic and the elevator to the 3rd floor.  While we waited for the first round pairings, I played a few games of bughouse with friends. 


The first round I found myself on board 1 playing playing Joe Meyer (1760).  Joe has beaten me every time I played him (except once in a blitz tournament where I managed a draw), so I was slightly apprehensive.  I was able to play my ever-beloved Sicilian Dragon though, which got me off to a good start.  It was a hard battle, but I eventually won.


After the game it was time for lunch, so we went through the drive-thru of a local Taco Bell.  I ate a bean and cheese burrito; then we went into the very nice skittles room (pictured below) for the annual IASCA board meeting. 
Someone once defined a board meeting as a "meeting of the bored," and to say the least, board meetings are never exciting; however, the board members have been doing a very good job running the Association. 
They are planning to switch the Iowa chess magazine En Passant from paper to online format which should save the association over $1900, which would allow them to possibly cut membership fees.  Although I prefer reading magazines in paper format; I think it is an excellent idea to switch to online.  As was mentioned at the meeting, the magazine could be in color online; and die-hard magazines-should-be-paper people can always print a copy for themselves. 

State membership fees are not expensive, so I don't think they should be cut unless in direct coordination with a fool-proof plan for increasing membership and consequently revenues. 
 I think it would be better for any surplus money to be put to other needs of the association, possibly the stipend for the Denker, Barber, and Girls' champions.  The Association is paying all it can afford currently with about $250 per champion.  The Denker and Barber champions will be traveling to Orlando this year.  A 2-way flight for one person (no family members) to Orlando would cost about $340.00, and driving back and forth would be about $380 for gas only.  Accommodation expenses make the trip even more expensive, so I would definitely like to see the champions given a raise if the association ever has the means for it. 
All board members up for re-election were re-elected.  At-Large Director Tom Hesse retired after completing his work with a revision of the Iowa Closed Championship Rules, and Cub Noble was voted in to fill the vacancy.  Every motion of the meeting was unanimous, leading to some good-natured joking about the "machine," but I think the unanimity may be largely due to all of the decisions of the board being very logical and all the reports well written.

After the meeting, it was time for round 2.  This time I had white against Advaith Prabu (1565).  I was a little uncomfortable playing the Queen's Gambit, since I haven't had the best results with it lately, but it's been a while since I've played a serious game with either the English or e4, so I played it anyway. 

Throughout the game I was very tired.  The game started with a 75 5 time control; both my opponent and I took a long time thinking about our moves and the game was quite long.  In the end I had less than 4 minutes.  I finally cracked on move 21, sacrificing a piece in a futile attempt to survive his threats which could easily and effectively been otherwise countered with no losses (*ouch!*).  After that, my play went from bad to worse; my opponent adroitly took advantage of my blunders, and I eventually resigned.
Pairings for the 3rd round were up as soon as our game was completed.  I got a cup of hot chocolate from the kitchen, grabbed a notation sheet, and returned to the board to face my next opponent.
Stay tuned: Part 2 will be posted soon!