Wading Barefoot

Rediscovering my barefoot-self

Cheesecake

During the holidays I baked a couple of cheesecakes, something I hadn’t done since my kids were very young. Way back then, before I had clue how many things can go wrong with a cheesecake, I just followed the directions and voila! Perfect cheesecake. I even used the water-bath technique, which is a fairly tricky method. It may be true, on occasion, that what you don’t know – won’t hurt you. It was certainly true on this occasion because it came out wonderful. It was a chocolate cheesecake and I remember being amazed that I pulled it off. It was not only delicious, it was one of the most beautiful culinary concoctions I’d ever made, second only to that Norman Rockwell turkey at Thanksgiving.

So, with this one cheesecake under my cooking belt I got up the courage to try it again. Cream cheese was on sale for the ‘baking season’, so I stocked up; using two and a half pounds of cheese per cake gets expensive fast. There are also eggs, which aren’t cheep (pun) sugar and my secret ingredient, heavy cream. A ten-inch cake weighs about as much as a gallon of milk but making it fresh and with quality ingredients makes all the difference. So far I’ve made three more and even sold two of them. I hadn’t thought about how much to charge – I didn’t expect them to be good enough to sell: was I wrong. After taking into account my time, the cost of ingredients and baking time I settled on twenty dollars for a half and thirty-five dollars for a whole. So far – so good. Folks I’ve sold them to don’t even bat an eyelash at the price. I went to the local supermarket and priced a cheesecake that was half as thick with a list of ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce. Cheesecake should be simple and seductive. There is nothing seductive about paying twice as much and getting half the amount and without the freshness and quality that I have in mine.

I haven’t attempted another chocolate one since that first cheesecake all those years ago, but that’s next. I also have a recipe for a white chocolate with raspberry swirl. Topped with fresh picked raspberries, I think this one would make a wonderful summertime desert. The process of making cheesecake is time-consuming but as it turns out, all I have is time. So, here I go – saving the world, one cheesecake at a time.

*For the record, I am lactose intolerant and cheesecake just kills me – so I indulge one slice and thank my lucky stars I can’t eat it, or I’d surly gain a ton of weight. Blessings in disguise 🙂cheesecake

January 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gun Control

I want to share my feelings about gun control and the recent events that have brought this subject back to the forefront. Like you, I was horrified when I heard about the massacre at the elementary school in Connecticut. Two days prior there was a shooting in a mall here in Portland where two people were killed. On that day my grandson changed his usual plans to have lunch at the mall where he goes every Tuesday. Instead of being in the food court at the time of the shooting, he watched it unfold from the Starbucks across the street as the emergency crews descended on the Clackamas Town Center Mall. His mother was beside herself with worry thinking that he had gone to the mall as planned. She had trouble getting in touch with him when her cell phone battery died – she said her mind when completely blank and she couldn’t remember his phone number, or anyone’s for that matter, the effect of adrenalin I’m sure. She was so relieved when she found him safe.

The days leading up to Christmas were very sad indeed and at times emotionally wrenching.  Again, like you, I struggled to find a way in which I could help those who were so torn apart by these events. There are no words to console those parents, sisters and families who lost loved ones to these outrageous acts violence that seem to come out of nowhere. How can we protect ourselves from such randomness? We walk through our life and most of us don’t think that our lives can change in a blink, but of course we know they can and do.

When it comes to protecting ourselves we have dozens of choices. Everything from becoming a recluse to legally carry a concealed weapon. There was a man at the Clackamas Town Center Mall carrying a concealed handgun. He took aim at the gunman and chose not to discharge his weapon because, as he told it, there were others in his line of sight and he felt there was too great a risk. The gunman however, reportedly saw him aiming at him and ran to the place where they found him, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Did the gunman decide it was time to kill himself because he thought police were closing in? In that scenario, did the man who took aim at the gunman end up causing fewer victims? There has been no further word on the subject in the media. Ironic how these things just fade out of the spotlight and off our minds. I thought it was an interesting bit of information, but maybe b/c it favors the ‘gun’ side of the gun ‘control’ issue, it has been put aside.

I am a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution and I am not in favor of gun or ammo control. I am glad to hear that they are considering applying background checks to all gun sales. I don’t know how this will work with private sales and gun shows. Among other things, background checks are intended to keeps gun owners responsible for their weapons, but it won’t stop guns from being sold, traded and stolen. I guess my reasoning is that if you’ve been robbed and guns were stolen it would be more important than ever to report the theft. It’s amazing how many people are robbed of their guns and don’t report it at all. Often times owners don’t even know they are missing. How can your gun be missing and you not know it? My guns are like my children – I know where they are and in what condition they are in at any given moment.

I don’t have difficulty understanding why an individual would want an assault rifle. We live in our communities together with our neighbors and should anything happen that cause us, as a community, to defend ourselves – I’d want those patrols to be armed with assault rifles and enough ammo to keep us safe indefinitely. I know it’s quite a stretch to imagine our cities and towns in that kind of turmoil – we’re Americans, it doesn’t happen here. *[Until one morning parachutes fill the sky and people start screaming as gunshots ring out.  A strategic advance force from Russia (I’m a Baby Boomer, grew up during the Cold war can you tell?) is followed by a full-scale attack. If your community is prepared for every imagined emergency then you have the tools to protect the lives of your neighbors.]

I personally don’t own an assault rifle but I’d like an AK-47.

This last week there were a couple of guys in two separate Portland neighborhoods walking around with their assault rifles on their backs. Oregon is one of 42 states that have laws allowing loaded guns to be carried openly in public. These two guys caused quite a stir and a flurry of phone calls to 911 dispatchers. The police responded but admit there is little they can do as long as no laws was not being broken. The next day they did the same thing in another part of Portland, with the same result. I suppose they wanted to make a point, but what’s the point to scaring people. The way I see it: just because you have the legal right to do something, doesn’t mean you should. They said that they simply wanted to ‘educate’ people. I think their message was wasted in the foolishness of the act.

I’m going to be very unpopular with many readers when I say that I think it’s a good idea to have armed school police at every school in our country. These officers should be specially trained for the types of incidents that we’ve seen recently. Many of our schools already have police but they are not armed, understaffed and inadequately trained. It’s time to protect our most precious children. School shootings are unpredictable but we can’t hide our heads and pretend that this trend will stop by taking guns away from people. With this thinking the only people who have guns will be the ones getting them illegally.

During my travels across the country I found only one place that really made me feel at ease. That place was Humboldt County California. Yes, the weed capital of America! Here guns are worn openly and while we ate dinner at a busy pizza restaurant there was not one adult in the place that wasn’t carrying openly. There are fewer shootings here than the rest of the USA. Why? My theory is that when everyone is packing a gun, nobody is gonna start shooting.

I’ll end by saying this – I have a dog, locks on my doors and windows and still, without my gun, I would be defenseless. The police don’t arrive in time – that only happens in the movies. It’s up to me to defend myself and my family; without a gun I am at a huge disadvantage, maybe even a fatal one.

 

© Kathleen Ryan-McCullough, 2012

 

January 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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