by R.L. Furse
"Brinners' won't make the menu in all American kitchens PDF E-mail

A new meal title has entered our world and it should please anyone who prepares breakfasts, dinners or suppers. The word is “Brinner” and is the joining of two words – breakfast and dinner. That means a household, if it chooses, can get by with two meals a day. In our household we’re definitely a three mealer so I really don’t know how this new concept of a “Brinner” will play out. Most of the time we each fix our own breakfasts and the betterhalf then goes solo planning and cooking dinner and supper.
My betterhalf is far from being lazy when it comes to kitchen chores. Judging by the high stack of cookbooks in her kitchen cupboard it’s obvious she has a fascination with cooking and does a pretty darn good job.
She is not one who is consistently trying new recipes, although she may add a leftover ingredient or additional seasoning to a dish that has the potential to give her cooking routine a whole new appearance. She is still basically a meat and potatoes gal when it comes to cooking, and I like it that way.
The majority of the time she sticks with her favorite cookbook, The New Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. I question the title of the book since the word “new” is mentioned in that title. She received the book with the red checkerboard cover as a wedding gift back in 1959 and I assume by now has memorized most of the recipes. The tattered pages are splattered with stains from ingredients she has followed over the past 54 years transforming from a novice cook to one who can match a Midwestern gourmet chef and serves very few meals on my plate that I don’t clean up.
Am I dissatisfied over those past 54 years when she has tweaked many of those recipes and repeated, repeated and repeated them? My waistline is my testimony I am completely satisfied and smart enough to know not to criticize a good cook.  
My life’s history shows I’m the kind of guy when I find something I like such as a car model, brand names, or a job, I stick with it. Come to think of it, that philosophy has followed me ever since merging with the betterhalf, who I must emphasize I want her to keep serving those basic meals of potatoes, meat, veggies and homemade desserts.
As I sign off, let me extend to the betterhalf a big “Thank you” for no plans to bring to our table the new modern trend of “Brinners.” That could mean I’d be facing (and leaving on my plate), specialties such as Bacon Jam, Blueberry Compote, waffles stuffed with Thanksgiving dressing and Shakshuka. “Shakshuka” is as bad as it sounds -- it is eggs poached in a Middle Eastern tomato sauce. Ugh!
We’ve been told a vegetarian diet is best for those who wish to be beautiful. Well, it does not seem to have done much for the elephant.
RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

Change of mind means weatherman likely a woman PDF E-mail

This winter we’ve managed to see the temps go up and down and at this point the weather temps seem to be stuck on the downside. The temperature’s up and down action got me thinking the other morning as I prepared to walk the dogs and was debating how long to walk each dog.

I told one of the female volunteers at the animal shelter I had come to the conclusion the weatherman was not necessarily a man, but the weather must be controlled by a woman, or weatherwoman. I based my reasoning on the fact the weather was always changing and that “change” seemed to be a characteristic of my betterhalf.

Over the years I’ve tried to follow the betterhalf changing her mind on various issues, plans and even changing long-used recipes. After the female volunteer patiently listed to my conclusion, she tended to agree. But, her conclusion was not necessarily along my same line of thinking.

“You are possibly right,” she politely said. “You also must realize most of those changes a woman makes come about because she tries to make her husband happy.”

So much for my reasoning the weather is being controlled by a weatherwoman. That weatherwoman, or if you rather believe, a weatherman, certainly hasn’t made too many of us happy thus far this winter.

We now live in the world dominated by smart phones. If you think the use of smart phones will subside, forget those thoughts. A father was standing outside a hospital nursery observing his newborn son moving his arms. The father was trying to determine if the son would be left or right handed. Finally a nurse passed by and joined the father. She eased his concern when she theorized the newborn’s movement of the left or right arm was only an indication of in which hand he would hold his smart phone and not one with which he would throw a ball.
Have you noticed the number of legislative bills that propose tax cuts for us Nebraskans? There seems to be one major hurdle with all those tax cut proposals. You cannot cut taxes thus decreasing tax revenue, and still maintain financing the programs the state already has.

It appears to me most of the tax resolutions call for several options. Those options in reality result in no tax cuts at all for Nebraskans. Tax cut options call for replacing revenue by taxing merchandise and services not already taxed. Other options being touted include: increasing sales tax rate; taking over county inheritance tax revenue; and/or transferring state government programs so those programs are funded by our local governments.

There’s only one way to cut taxes and it’s to cut spending.

Of course, if spending is cut, you will have to decide which programs to cut. We all know what that answer. . . “cut the programs that I don’t use.”

There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.

“Is there anything breakable in here?” asked the postal clerk

“Only the Ten Commandments,” answered the lady.

RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

Lawmakers shouldn’t be asked to fix all woes PDF E-mail

The Nebraska Legislature in this short session will attempt to consider more than 450 bills that have been introduced. Judging from the list you can reach a couple of conclusions.

First, it’s pretty obvious seeing the number of bills why the wheels of government turn slowly. Secondly, people have asked the legislature to solve problems that should be solved, not by government, but by those very people or organizations themselves.

A prime example is a new legislative proposal that requests reclassification of some high school varsity sports teams based in part on their success, not just their enrollment. Those with winning teams year after year would be put into the next higher class. The bill was introduced primarily out of concern about the disproportionate share of state championships won by private and parochial schools.

I would be the first to admit it’s sometimes frustrating to have a powerhouse team win year after year, but I am not ready to concede to the idea of punishing or tearing down successful sports programs and to bring them to the level of poorer teams. Of course, that seems to have become the modern day interpretation of the American way – take down any successful program or business and make it just average. No more competition; no more striving to be better; just get lazy and be average.

The big question is if people feel parochial and private schools compete unfairly, why not request the Nebraska School Activities Association change their guidelines? The NSAA governs the rules for Nebraska schools. If a majority of its representatives feel change is needed, let the school administrators and coaches suggest the changes instead of a state legislator.

While on the subject of sports, do you remember when you went to Nebraska football games to watch the game? Well, some of us (I’m not included) had wives that went to the game to see what women’s fall fashions were in style.

There were no fancy suites; just sideline boxes with folding chairs. Premium-paying season ticket holders now sit were there was once the low cost knothole section at the south end of the field.  Concessionaires sold only hot dogs, popcorn, hot coffee or pop instead of today’s Runzas, pizzas and ice cream. 

The college football world has changed and it now has become a business instead of just a game. Capacity seating needs to be met each Saturday. TV coverage and replay screens are a stadium necessity. Good sound systems blare out halftime shows from bands and pop stars. And judging by news articles of the past week, more fan attractions are coming to Memorial Stadium and even to the new Pinnacle Arena.

The NU regents signed on for a $12.3 million project for installing Wi-Fi at the stadium. The proposal called to upgrade the stadium’s sound system and install wireless Internet throughout to meet the demands of the new-age football fan

As most of you know, I have a reputation for leaving some games early despite protests from the betterhalf. I feel these new improvements might not be all bad.

Now I can text her when I learn how to text, or call from a distance and tell her to meet me at the car.

In making the announcement about the expenditure of $12.3 for the stadium improvements, the UN public relations department may have ruffled a few feathers of students and parents. At the conclusion of that same news story it was stated: “In other business, the Board of Regents passed room and board rates for the next academic year, including up to 4 percent at UNO, up to 4.5 percent at UNL and up to 5 percent at UNK.” Ouch!

RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

Caution: Do not step in the exhaust behind Amish PDF E-mail

When we lived in Iowa years ago, I always enjoyed heading to see a cousin in the northeastern part of the state.

Joy came from the fact I passed through some of the Amish communities and delighted in observing the peaceful and simple life of the Amish people. Particularly enjoyable was the Amish horse-powered carriages on the roadways or carriage and horse hitched up in the small town business districts.

Recently my memory of those scenes was jogged by a report of a vacationing family while driving their auto down the road had caught up to a slow moving carriage. The carriage owner obviously had a sense of humor because attached to the back of the carriage was this hand-printed sign. . . “Energy efficient vehicle: Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust.”
A while back the betterhalf was having a case of cabin fever and suggested maybe we should head to Texas for a few days to see the grandkids. As we looked at the calendar I pointed out the following week looked “open.” She agreed, but served noticed she couldn’t leave until the afternoon on the day I thought would be ideal to start our travel. When questioned why we had to wait until afternoon before heading out I found out the conflict.

The betterhalf had an appointment at the beauty shop for a haircut. That’s when I realized “going to the beauty shop can challenge even a grandma’s deepest priorities.”
As I stroll around the community I am constantly amazed at the numbers of toys, bikes and sports equipment laying in yards and never put away. Bikes left where a youngster dismounted may remain in that spot for several days. Basketballs and soccer balls are blown from the yards and roll into the street gutter eventually coming to rest at, or in, a storm sewer inlet far from the home. Picking up after oneself apparently is a thing of the past.

I contend if the young users of such equipment had made the initial purchase with their own money the litter scene might be different. In fact, such action might be at the root of today’s throw-away society.

It is “easy come, easy go” for many youngsters whose parents simply hand them the cash for replacements. I imagine there still might be few who’ve used the same basketball for more than a full year at best. For most if a replacement is needed for the lost item, go see mom or dad for a new one.

I would venture to say those youngsters who are conscious of “picking up and taking care of their things” will be the same ones in adulthood who will not be asking for a handout from society or the government.
Have you ever wondered why the United States Mint mints a penny when it costs the mint nearly two cents per coin? Or, why it takes 10 cents to mint each nickel?

In the meantime mint decided to hit the coin collectors’ market by minting 25 cent pieces representing all 50 states, several territories and even national tourist attractions. It would seem logical if you’re losing money minting coins you would “economize” by changing to cheaper metals and fewer coin faces. Of course we mustn’t forget, the government does few things that are logical.

RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

High-tech appliances can be a challenge PDF E-mail

Chatting with a few men gathered around the coffee table the other morning, I found most of us are household appliance illiterate. Several had to admit we weren’t much help when it came to operating washing machines, dishwashers and ovens. A few did brag they were high tech enough to handle the operation of a microwave oven and even one gentleman initially impressed us with his knowledge of operating a washing machine.

He explained he had been assigned several household duties while his wife was hospitalized. He was pretty impressive when he told of breezing through his initial chores. He measured the correct amount of soap after determining the size of the laundry load. He told of setting the machine’s “dashboard” buttons for water temp, proper cycle and even fabric choice. When it came to his final task he was stymied and that’s when his impressive laundry ingenuity was questioned by his male table audience. He reluctantly acknowledged he had trouble when he pushed the “on button” and nothing happened.

After several quick pushes he called his daughter for help. She came over to his house and started the machine. It seemed our once impressive male laundry taskmaster needed to hold the “on” button in for a second or two before the machine would start.

Personally, I’ve never been too good learning the operation of household appliances. In my youth, I could turn on a gas stove burner. I could follow directions from my working mom by taking our supper casserole from the refrigerator, putting it in a pre-set oven, and pushing “bake.”

In college days, my specialty was grilled cheese sandwiches and a can of soup ... all cooked over an apartment two-burner stove.

In our early married life we were like most couples of the era, operating on a limited budget and buying only the basic, featureless appliances. Our first dryer was purchased for a whopping $98 and sported an on-off button plus a simple dial timer. The early dishwasher was a manual via the betterhalf, and  I sometimes served as the manual drying cycle. Our pink stove was four-coil electric with an in-dash clock along with a simple automatic dial timer to bake goods in the oven.

When this new technology, such as microwaves, automatic dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers came on the scene loaded with all that computerized gadgetry, my limited household skills diminished even more. In fact, the basic timer is the only thing I use on our microwave and if one minute doesn’t  heat something up, I just keep adding another minute until done. If 45 minutes can’t dry clothes, I crank up the timer again. Concerning the automatic dishwasher, my betterhalf leaves me written instructions or presets it and simply says, “Put your dirty dishes in, close the door and push ‘Start.’” The washing machine is strictly “hands off” for me.

I was feeling pretty incompetent after listening to the fellas around the coffee table until one concluded our discussion by telling about the purchase of a new stove.

He related how he and his wife replaced their old stove with a fancy new one that had all the bells and whistles. After it was installed there was trouble with some of those bells and whistles. Numerous calls to solve problems did not yield positive results. Thus, he and his wife made the big decision to retrieve their old stove from the garage and put it back in operation in the kitchen.

Now that type of tale makes me feel a lot better. When the head of the household has a problem, she would solve it exactly the way I would ... out with the new and back with the comfortable old.

I must say, I’ve been pretty fortunate married to the betterhalf. She holds my use of appliances to a minimum. When she’s not around for a meal she generally prepares a plate and puts it in the refrigerator. She leaves a note on top of that plate informing me how many minutes it should be cooked in the microwave. Sometimes the plate features leftovers and sometimes it’s a blue plate special.

Being that good to me also brings up a couple of questions about her gifts of love. Does she give me the leftovers so she doesn’t have to help eating them up, or does she do her pre-meal prepping because she’s nervous I’m around a kitchen appliance unsupervised?

I am smart enough to opt for neither alternative and continue to believe it’s her gift of love.

RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

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