Bringing it All Back Home

Autumn Fundraiser 2015, Day Seven

Here we are at the final day of our quarterly fundraising week.

Readers who have not yet stepped forward should rush for the tip cup now, before the watertight doors close and the Gates of Vienna submarine descends once more into the murky depths of the Counterjihad.

Tip jarIt’s a good thing we’re wrapping up this fundraiser today, because the week has left me exhausted. But then it always does — by the time Day Seven comes along, my weariness amazes me.

In keeping with the spirit of the Seventh Day, I’m going to take a bit of a rest today and write a light-hearted bleg post. Dymphna and I covered some heavy topics this week, and considering how heavy the news has been every day — today’s headlines are particularly ghastly — it seems appropriate to indulge in whimsy and frivolity, just for a change of pace.

As you all know by now, the theme for this week is “Home”. So let’s return to the sepia-toned home front for some rambling odds and ends on the topic.

As we’ve emphasized before, this blog is a Ma ’n’ Pa operation run out of our home, as befits our fundraising theme. Pa — that’s me — has the job of collecting, collating, editing, and formatting material for the site. As for Dymphna — well, everybody says she’s the brains behind Pa.

In keeping with my propensity for collecting and collating, this morning’s exegesis will focus on compound words and phrases that contain the word “home”. We’ll maintain the lighthearted tone by avoiding depressing combinations such as “home invasion” and “homework”.

But not too light — consider the word “homesick”. As Dymphna pointed out last night when we were discussing possible words, homesickness is much more severe than mere nostalgia. Drawing on memories of her years in the orphanage, she described a deep longing that consumes one’s entire being.

I never had an experience as severe as hers, but my first few summers at Boy Scout camp made me miserable. I would spend the whole week counting the minutes until I could go home. During the last summer camp I went to, I remember suddenly noticing that I wasn’t homesick at all this year — by then I was fourteen; what did I care? Scout camp was just another boring experience like so many others forced upon my adolescent self. No big deal!

Now let’s look at a few down-home words. Start with “home fries”. For those of you who live far from this part of the world, those are potatoes that are cut up into small pieces and fried for breakfast. And not to be confused with hash browns, which are unpleasant Northern glop when compared with home fries, which are Southern. Strangely enough, because Maryland and Virginia are border states, you often find both home fries and hash browns, sometimes on the same menu. (And, as an aside, we’re far enough north here that grits are considered optional additions to one’s diet — which is not true in the Deep South.)

It wasn’t until I first moved down here to the Outback that I heard the phrase “old home place”. It’s what extended families call their ancestral home, which may or may not be occupied all year round. It’s usually a big old frame house where grandparents or great-grandparents brought up the ancestors of the current generation. Even if it isn’t occupied, someone in the family who lives nearby is responsible for mowing the lawn, pruning the shrubbery, and doing the necessary repairs, so that the building doesn’t look abandoned. It may well be the location where family reunions take place, and where people stay during Homecoming (more on that below).

When you visit someone and ask them about a photo or a painting of a tree-shaded house on their living room wall, chances are they’ll tell you: “That’s the old home place.”

Another custom that may be peculiar to the South — Dymphna says she never heard of it until she moved down here — is Homecoming. That’s an annual gathering at church where people come from all over for a service and a big meal. It’s kind of like a family reunion, but for a congregation. People who have been several generations away from the area may turn up every year for their ancestral church’s Homecoming. And locals from other denominations in the immediate environs often attend each other’s Homecomings.

The custom seems to be a Protestant one, in my experience. But there are very few Catholics in this area, so I can’t say for sure what their customs are.

Enough of the frivolity! Let’s really go home, to where the music is:

What? You were expecting Bob Dylan or something?

This is the Sinfonia and Chorus from the cantata “Wir danken dir, Gott” (BWV 29) by Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s a performance by the ANU Chamber Orchestra and ANU Chamber Choir, recorded a couple of years ago in Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University in Canberra. It’s not necessarily the best rendition of the piece — the audio quality leaves something to be desired — but it was the only version I could find in which you could watch well-dressed young musicians lending their voices to and sawing away at one of the finest pieces of music in Christendom.

For the record, my favorite version of BWV 29 (Sinfonia only) was recorded by the Northern Sinfonia, conducted by Richard Hickox and featuring Peter Hurford on the organ.

And in my amateur opinion, the Sinfonia ranks up there with Brandenburg Concertos #3 and #5 as the best of Bach’s orchestral music.

And when I’m listening to Bach, I’m definitely at home. Even in the car.

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Many thanks to all of you who sent in your gifts yesterday:

Stateside: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas

Near Abroad: Canada

Far Abroad: Australia, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the UK

That’s it for this fundraiser. There’ll be a wrap-up post sometime tomorrow.

Strike another match, go start anew!

The tip jar in the text above is just for decoration. To donate, click the tin cup (or the donate button) on the sidebar of our main page. If you prefer a monthly subscription, click the “subscribe” button.

19 thoughts on “Bringing it All Back Home

  1. I always thought that ‘Gates of Vienna’ was about things in Austria. Now I know why Americans are so fat, Fries for breakfast is horrible, it should be a piece of toast and a cup of tea.

    • cereal or oatmeal with milk. potatoes with eggs and bacon only once a week (Sunday) and pancakes only once a week (Saturday).

      • I like organic oats, which I use to make my own granola. But I use it sparingly as a topping rather than eating a bowlful. Milk has too much lactose, but I’ve learned to make my own yogurt using full-fat organic milk and then draining the whey <- the milk sugars from it. Can't remember the last time I had a pancake but I do like crepes and the choices for wheat flour substitutes is growing - e.g., nut flours. I have some chestnut flour but I see what the Italians mean when they call gnocchi made from chestnut flour "priest chokers". However, that chestnut flour even exists is testament to the ingenuity of those people who had no access to wheat flour and had to substitute what was available. The flour made from water chestnuts – obviously not a tree nut – is fun to work with, especially as a substitute for wheat flour or cornstarch when thickening Asian dishes.

        Knowing which are the more pesticide-laden vegetables and fruit is helpful in making choices about what is safe to buy. As a mnemonic, using the terms “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” makes searching for safe foods online much easier. And learning the health values of each is crucial. I mean, who knew parsley had such a kick?

        In doing some research on rice last year I learned that all American rice contains arsenic. This is due to the levels of naturally occurring arsenic in the areas where rice is grown. The work-around is to “ferment” the rice first: soaking it in acidulated water for a day or two (organic vinegar since the levels of pesticides in conventional apples is not insignificant) and then rinsing well before cooking removes enough of the arsenic to be worth that extra step. We’ve come to prefer the flavor and texture of this kind of rice to the original. The rice grains stay separated more easily since some of the starch is removed in the fermenting process.

        Learning about our food sources and what our otherwise over-regulated government lets the Big Food Boyz get away with is sadly enlightening. I only wish I’d known it many years ago when my children were younger. I could have avoided many pitfalls.

        • Apparently arsenic is a cancer killer – taken in small doses like the kernel from apricot seeds – my wife’s Uncle Johnny swears by it as he has defeated two diagnosed bouts of cancer over the past decade.

          You don’t use corn flour as a thickening agent?

          • Do you mean corn flour or corn starch? I used to use corn sugar to carbonate my home brew.

            Corn, it’s not just for ethanol. I still prefer it on the cob best!

          • We call it corn flour down here, but a starch it most certainly is. Corn on the cob smothered in fresh butter. Mmmmmm!

            Did you find that corn sugar imparts a taste?

        • Forgive my ignorance, Dymphna, but I thought “pancake” and “crepe” were synoymous? You know, like “Freedom Fries” and “French Fries” (“chips” in the UK- what you call “chips”, we call “crisps”; as they’re thin, calling them “chips” makes no sense. Britain 1, US nil!)

          • crepes have more egg and milk and less flour, French fries are chips that are finely sliced after the manner of all French cooking, I like the term crisps, as that is what they are. Trader Joe’s has a Tortilla Chip, as it is a cut off part of a tortilla, that is organic corn that is infused with quinoa and dried red chilis. No, you will never be able to eat just one.

            As for breakfast, we have Norm’s out here and they recently moved to Claremont. We can have steak, eggs (scrambled is how I like them) and pancakes. Let’s here it for the new Norm!(‘s). They kept me fed and healthy when I lived in Sherman Oaks and needed breakfast after working all night. Yes, they never close, and haven’t for more than 40 years.

          • Crepes also have no leavening beyond the egg(s). They can be made *very* thin so that there is less flour per piece. They don’t stick together and each one cooks in a few seconds on each side. They really extend a meal, making it look like more than merely the sum of its parts. I use mine the following way: Make 1 &1/2 cups white sauce – say, a bechamel – and use a few big spoons of it on to line the bottom of a shallow casserole dish. Use whatever left-over cooked veggies & meat you have on hand, say, strips of carrot & broccoli, perhaps some cooked chicken and ham or sausage. I’ve even used organic hot dogs if I don’t have enough meat, or pieces of cooked fish. I let them come to room temp before using- less cooking time.

            Lay a crepe on a plate, smear with some sauce, add a few pieces of vegetable & meat, roll the crepe (you can tuck in the sides if you want) and put it in the casserole dish seam side down. Repeat until you’ve used up the crepes, veggies and meat. Spoon more sauce over the crepes, top with shredded cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes in a medium hot oven. Or cook in a microwave and run under the broiler to bubble the cheese.

            Obviously this is a dish in which the crepes serve to “organize” bits and pieces of cooked leftovers. The French are clever that way.

            If you’re crippled with fatigue as I am, you freeze leftovers veggies and meat until you have “enough” (only you know when that is).


            On day One make the crepes. Find a recipe on line- there are hundreds. If you put the ingredients through a blender you don’t have to wait to let the flour incorporate. It’s instant. Then cook as many as your crepe recipes allow. I’d watch a video to get the hang of it and if you haven’t done it before, expect to eat the first try as it may crumple. I usually make 12-18. Put them in a covered container and refrigerate or freeze. I often take the long way: blenderize them and still let the mix sit for a bit while I lie down to gather energy. Then heat the pan, smear with butter or oil, pour in (about) 3-4 Tablespoons of batter and swirl in pan to even it out. Do that until you run out of batter. They won’t stick together. Refrigerate and clean up the mess.

            On day Two, make a double recipe of a good white sauce. I like one with dry vermouth, herbs de Provence and chicken broth plus some cream to make it opaque. This is the point at which you leave the container of veggie bits and sliced meat pieces down in the lower part of fridge to defrost – i.e., as you’re putting the cooked white sauce into the fridge.

            On day Three (if you’re up to it – or wait till Day Four if you’re not) get out the crepes, the leftover veggies and meat and the container of sauce. Get them out early enough so they’re at room temp when you’re making the dish -or shortcut the process using your microwave to take off the chill. Room temp ingredients are easier to work with, and take less time cooking.

            Line ’em all up: stack of crepes, sauce, filling(s) and a cup or so of grated cheese of your choice. Again I save the small bits and pieces of cheese to use here. You can eke the topping with bread crumbs if you don’t mind bread.An assembly line like this works best, takes the least time. [I explained above how to build an individual crepe, being sure to add a dollop of sauce]. I use a paper plate as my flat surface and anything that falls out stays in the plate and can go into the dish after you’ve crowded in as many crepes as the pan will hold. Don’t worry if crepes rip or look less than perfect. Won’t matter in the end. They like being crowded, so put in what you dish will hold. Spoon the remaining sauce all over the top. Use a spatula to smooth it into edges, etc. Sprinkle with a generous amount of cheese topping. Cook for at least 20 minutes in a medium hot oven. It’s a forgiving dish – you can go to 30 minutes if it’s not bubbling. You can also cook it in a microwave for far less time (google is your friend here for timing) and then run under the broiler to make the cheese bubble. Almost any ceramic dish will take that kind of heat for long enough to make the cheese turn golden.

            Cool for ten minutes or more – just as good warm as hot.

            Leftovers will be eaten the next day – at least at our house. I don’t refreeze since those veggies and meat are tired of the freezer by then.

            If you have a luxe food budget by all means use cooked asparagus and freshly poached sliced chicken breast and or ham, with a few cooked shrimp in each crepe instead of left-overs. In that case, use some cheese shreds inside the crepe too. A good emmentaler, maybe? Or have your cook do it.

            There are dessert crepe dishes too – the crepes will have added sugar in the batter. You can have fun stacking them flat and high, interspersed with various fruit fillings. Bake them briefly in a hot oven and then sprinkle enough brandy to ignite the dish at the table. Setting food on fire seems to appeal to some. Slice like a cake and serve with whipped or clotted cream…

            I hope all this explains the difference between a feather light versatile crepe and a pancake.

          • Thanks for your replies, Acuara & Dymphna. Not sure I have the patience, beyond making and chilling the batter in advance! (Though I omit baking powder, and add sugar for a dessert version).

    • Toast & Tea! The old Rt. 29 Diner in Fairfax, Vuginya used to serve a short stack of pancakes, home fries & gravy topped with two-over-easy. Served with coffee from a bottomless cup or a long neck if so desired.

    • We’ve been in existence as a blog for more than eleven years now. You obviously haven’t been here before or you wouldn’t demonstrate such total ignorance about the historical importance of the gates of Vienna for western civilization in its long pushback against imperial Islam.

      Or is that the point? To make certain all of us are aware how much more virtuous you are than those who visit here regularly?
      Well bless your sweet Dutch heart, Mr. van Hetgoor. Your transparency has made you a pain…

      As for your suggested first meal of the day, grains of any sort – especially the hybrid wheat commonly found in modern commercial breads – have become increasingly unhealthy. A breakfast consisting of “toast” would make many people sick. There are now numerous studies proving that the damaged endocrine systems of overweight Americans is due to the consumption of too many grains and not enough healthful fat.

      Obesity is not confined to the United States; it’s a growing concern across the West and it’s largely due to the push by Big Food to have people consume far too many grains. Not to mention meat full of antibiotics and hormones. That’s why obesity is an epidemic among the poor; lack of money and indoctrination by government food “experts” guarantees a sick population.

      A much healthier choice for breakfast would be an organic egg (not an “egg” from one of the massive and massively cruel poultry factories) and some kind of fermented food.

      The Baron’s example of “home” fries was merely part of a series of word plays on our theme . But then you knew that: it appears that your point was to attempt to prove your moral superiority. #FAIL

      • Admittedly, sheer speculation here, but I have to wonder whether the “growing concern across the West” of obesity is also at least somewhat related to the growing percentages in Western countries of adherents to the religion of peace.

        One factor that might predispose Muslims to obesity is Ramadan: The feast/famine pattern carried out during Ramadan is one which is known to contribute to weight gain. This is because fasting slows down the metabolism since the body “believes” itself to be in a resource-limited environment and it therefore attempts to conserve calories – so it consequently becomes very efficient at storing away fat. And obviously, simply overeating would presumably be an issue for many after completing a period of fasting, due to the intense discomfort of hunger.

        Additionally, I have always had the suspicion that not being able to easily wear comfortable and practical clothing in public (at gyms and swimming pools, for instance) probably makes exercise – and perhaps physical activity in general – rather less inviting for Muslim women than it tends to be for non-Muslim women. This could conceivably contribute to an increased likelihood of weight gain among Muslim females.

      • I’m not sure who you are taking umbrage with here but I have to say that I love blueberry pancakes!
        They have to be the best way to start a Saturday!

    • My recent and over the past forty years observations are that Americans are getting fatter because the processed food manufacturers and other deadly characters have taken ownership of the government departments originally designed to protect the consumer. Medical “doctors” are selling and hustling patients for drugs and procedures they don’t need for the various and seemingly endless flow of pharmaceutical company goodies. The politicians originally elected by the consumer (citizen voter) seem to be beholden to lobbyists. Especially if the Saudis or Muslims are in the mix. (The stock holder thing.) Result is fat cats and fat people. Ps There may be some truth in the story going around that really good medical insurance could bad for your health and wellbeing.

  2. Don’t know why I dropped in just now, but I wanted to see how it’s going. I’ve sent my donation — you should have it any day (if not already, but itdepends on the P.O.).

    I didn’t know about the “big grain” industry — oh, the things I learn here! Fortunately, living out here in Nowheresville, it isn’t hard to get organic eggs and well-baked bread from farmers’ markets and individual country people. Also organic meat and chicken.

    The grumpy Dutchman can’t have spent much time here (or know his history) if he doesn’t understand what Gates of Vienna signifies historically (even I know that much).

    I hope your “bleg” is going well!


  3. P.S. I think the size of one’s breakfast depends on the size of the physical effort required during the day. But I’m not a nutritionist.

  4. For Dymphna.

    “The Homes Of Donegal”

    I just dropped in to see you all
    I’ll only stay awhile
    I want to hear how you’re getting on
    I want to see you smile
    I’m happy to be back again
    And greet you big and small
    For there’s no place else on this earth quite like
    The homes of Donegal

    I long to see your smiling children
    Standing by the door
    The kettle boiling on the hearth
    As I walked up the floor
    And then to see a waiting for me
    Travellers one and all
    For your heart’s alive in your mountain size
    In the homes of Donegal

    I like to lie, lie along with you
    While away at night
    With fairy lore and tales of yore
    Beside the surf fire bright
    And then to see laid out for me
    A shake-down by the wall
    For there’s rest for weary wanderers
    In the homes of Donegal

    Donegal, queen of all
    Donegal, queen of all

    Paul Brady is an old friend. Donegal is my best friend – the place I was born. My mother taught school (mostly in Irish) in several of these places – Gweedore and Glenties and Ardara.

  5. Back in the early 1970s, I traveled to Eastern Europe in January with the Cornell University Glee Club tour. In Germany (I think) there was a morning meal called Baueren schmousch (sp?) which consisted of sausages, sauerkraut, and I think potato dumplings. How anyone could tolerate that heavy stuff for the first meal of the day! But then, I’m a kind of coffee and simple croissant petit dejeuner person. The day’s main meal at noon-ish works best for my digestion. I found very little of what Americans would call ‘fresh food’ in Eastern Europe in January. All the vegetables were roots (carrots, potato, etc). Lots of meat at every meal. I don’t know if that has changed, but you can see the food was intended for people who did hard physical work from dawn til dusk. In cold weather, you just can’t do that eating only salad.

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