March 10th, 2010

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Warhorses in Real Life

People sometimes get into debates about how smart, brave, or loyal horses can be.  Here is a fascinating essay by someone who works with Lipizzans, the Dancing White Horses.  Bred to be warhorses, they still have the same traits.  This is well worth a look for anyone who writes about warhorses in fantasy fiction.
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Spy News

Big Brother is watching you.

Considering some of the things people click on the Internet, and how fragile can be the minds of government workers ... I suspect the spies are going to get hurt reading their way through the high and wild.  Oh well.
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Family Skills: Love as a Verb

Love is the glue that holds a family together.  Our words and actions express our love for other family members.  Love is not just something you feel, but something you do.  Different people and families may prefer to express and receive love in different ways.  Frequent expressions of love help strengthen family bonds.  Here are some good ways to express your love:

* Say "I love you."  Most people enjoy hearing this.

* List some things that you love about someone: "I love your sense of humor.  I love that you encourage me."

* Write notes and tuck them where they will be found later in the day, such as a lunch box, school bag, or briefcase.

* Talk with each other.  Ask what someone did today or what their plans are.  Discuss current events.

* Show your affection physically.  Hug, kiss, hold hands, or cuddle. Give someone a massage.  Consenting adults add lovemaking to this set.

* Pay attention to the people you love, so that you learn things about them.  It is good to know their birthdays, clothing sizes, favorite color, favorite foods, what they collect, etc.  This makes it easier to talk about them and to buy or recommend gifts.

* Make a point of doing things that someone else will enjoy, such as going into stores or attending events that they like.

* When someone you love is having a bad day, do something to pick up the slack or to cheer them up.  Play their favorite song, cook comfort foods, or do one of their chores yourself.

* Give someone a little gift for no reason.  It can be something you make, or you might notice something in a store and buy it.  Flowers and chocolates are traditional, but you can be creative too -- use your knowledge of each person's interests.  This is not just for boyfriends to do for their girlfriends!  It works in most relationships, in any direction.  I once saw a commercial in which a woman said, "I thought these were <i>so cute,</i> I just had to get them for you!" -- and held up a pair of power tools.  Her husband's buddy turned to him and said, "Does she have a sister?"   

* Set aside time to spend together.  You might go for a walk, watch a movie, or play a game.

* Celebrate the milestones of life.  Go out for dinner on birthdays or anniversaries.  Do something fun to mark a graduation or other accomplishment.  Sympathize with setbacks.


What are your favorite ways of showing love?

Some additional resources:
"How to Show Your Parents You Love Them"
"101 ways to show your children you love them"
"101 ways to show you love somebody (without having sex)"
"Romance 101: How to Show Her that You Love Her"
"How to Show Your Man That You Love Him"
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Recipe: "Mini Meatloaves with Cheese"

Tonight I made miniature meatloves with cheese filling.  They went over quite well.

Mini Meatloaves with Cheese

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
about 3/4 tube butter crackers, crumbled
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Australian pink salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked ground black pepper
1 lb. ground beef
 6 mini cheese wheels, peeled


Directions:

 Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Spray a 6-hole muffin tin with cooking spray.

 In a large glass bowl, combine 1 egg and 1/4 cup half-and-half.  Crumble in the crackers.  Add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon Australian pink salt, and 1/4 teaspoon smoked ground black pepper.  Add 1 lb. ground beef.  Mix thoroughly with your hands.  (If the mixture is too wet, add more cracker crumbs.  If it's too dry, add a little more milk.)  Everything should stick together and form a nice ball.

 Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, rolling them into balls.  Pick up one ball and flatten it between your palms.  Take one cheese wheel and press it into the center of the meat patty.  Gently squeeze and press the edges of the patty upwards so they close over the cheese wheel; seal carefully.  Place the mini meatloaf into a muffin hole, sealed side down.  Repeat with the remaining balls of meat mixture and cheese wheels.

 Bake at 375ºF for 30 minutes.  When done, the meatloaves should be browned on top, and juices should run clear.  Makes 6 servings.


Notes:

Various types of crackers will work with this recipe, Ritz or Club or whatever.  The buttery flavor helps meld with the cheese.  If you don't have butter crackers, however, saltines will do fine.  Also, letting the cracker crumbs soak in the egg and milk for a minute or two while you add the rest of the flavorings will soften them so they blend with the meat better.

Australian pink salt has a subtle, complex flavor that blends nicely with many meats.  If you don't have any, use sea salt or plain table salt.

Smoked ground black pepper adds a dark spicy flavor.  If you don't have any, use freshly ground black pepper, perhaps with a tiny bit of liquid smoke.

Mini cheese wheels are about 1" to 1 1/2" wide.  Gouda and Babybel are two types often sold this way.  You peel off the outer wrapper and the wax, and you get a soft white or pale yellow cheese with a mellow flavor.  If you can't find mini wheels, you can buy a small slab of cheese and cut it into 1" cubes.  Because the cheese tends to expand when hot, it may escape the meat layer and ooze up the sides of the muffin holes.  That's okay, it will all taste fine anyway.