Greetings to all of you!! I have things to share with you so I guess it is time to write again.
A Letter From Donna
Stan just finished singing to us...I could have listened for a lot longer. :-) We are going to go and have a breakfast burrito; suppose they are getting hungry. We had one yesterday, too; it was soooo good. Homemade tortillas and wonderful tasting.
We checked the old home site yesterday, and feed store. Stan took us out to see Uncle Bill's grave. He was so young. I think James's life would have been so different if he'd have lived... We discussed that and so many other things. Great day. Also, got to see Stan's new farm and the old house on it; visited Kathleen's place, too. Now I'll have it in my mind where they are; makes it nicer.
Heading for San Antonio today. Going to miss this great bed that is in their new fifth wheel camper. That is the nicest fifth wheel I've ever been in; no wonder he said it was the "Hilton." Awesome. He said we could stay longer; wish we could... but Beaver wants to see other things, too (as do I, but I'm torn :-). He's really enjoyed meeting these relatives, though; said they "are great!" They've been so friendly and we've had such a wonderful visit.
Well, no more e-mail now until we get back to your place.
It was very nice to hear from Weston this week; it sounds like Lori informed him that he was delinquent in performing his duty -- and he admits that since he likes reading the updates on everyone else, that maybe it is about his turn!!!! (Great work, Lori.)
He was very busy at work, but it has gotten back to normal lately -- so no excuse for not writing!!! He plays basketball on Mondays (in an open gym where people can come in and play pick-up games.
I got a chuckle out of his description of his newest activity: bowling. He and a few of his friends wanting to do something with their time when they can't play softball decide to join a bowling league -- quote, "Then we realized we were all terrible at bowling, so we just started our own unofficial *league*." So the five of them get together for a few frames every Tuesday. Way to go!!!
Weston is still dating Nicole, who is from St. Louis, and things are going just fine. He will be flying down some weekend soon to see her.
Plans are in the works for Jim and Weston to take off for spring training in Florida; they want to watch a game between the Twins and the Cardinals. It sounds like they may have guests with them this year.
Now to answer your questions to me. It is definitely warming up -- no snow right now, anyway and in the 50's. Mindy seems to be enjoying her stay but watches for the return of Donna and Beaver whenever anyone drives up.
I also have a letter from Heidi:
Nothing too exciting has happened over break. I just worked at Sheri's almost every day. It was nice making the money, though!
This semester will be a lot of fun. I'm taking Biology, which is my favorite class, so far. I'm also taking Nutrition, Humanities and Comp. I was really scared of taking bio, but I don't think it will be bad at all. My professor is really good, so that's super nice. The best thing of all is that I don't have class on Mondays or Fridays, so I go and make
some money at Sheri's!
I finished a really good book about Iwo Jima during the war. It was called The Flag of our Fathers. The author was the son of one of the men in the famous picture taken on the island of the flag raising. If you haven't read it, you should. It was written SO well.
Heidi also has a question in another section of the Bulletin.
Let's Ask Mom or Grandma
QUESTION: After reading the book on Iwo Jima I began wondering if Uncle Jim was at the battle at Normandy? -- How about Uncle Bill? What were their duties?
ANSWER: I called Uncle Jim and interviewed him. He gave some very complete and interesting information! Company had the job of moving troops, ammunition, and food to the Front -- and prisoners back. They many times traveled at night. The convoys that were closest to the front (these were the ones Jim was in) traveled in groups of 5-7 trucks.
The headlights were painted black. There were what Jim refers to as "cat eyes" (little diamond shaped, steady glowing lights) on the corners of the backs of each truck so they wouldn't run into the truck in front of them. (If they saw the lights go rolling, they stopped in a hurry to avoid whatever had caused the upset!)
Many of the German prisoners taken were very glad to be out of the war. Jim said that only five per cent of the Germans were Nazis -- the Storm Troopers and police were the fanatics.
Bill was a Sergeant of one of the Motor Pools of the Medical Corps. His job was to have the ambulances always ready for use. Their company landed on the third day of the invasion. I have heard him tell that in the midst of battle he rode in an ambulance and helped with the wounded. They had just been made more effective in treatment of the wounded by the newly discovered sulfa, and in the use of plasma (to prevent shock), but even so, the trauma of seeing so many wounded was terrible.
At daylight of June 6, 1944, the troops were waiting off Normandy beaches. The large crafts that had crossed the English Channel now must unload the men and equipment onto floating docks. This was to avoid the hedgehogs planted along the shore. The hedgehog was a huge triangular piece of metal -- 6 to 7 feet tall with sharp points that could pierce the bottoms of the ships and sink them.
At the area the army referred to as Omaha Beach (and the troops named Old Bloody), the Quartermaster Transportation Company waited. Uncle Jim was one of those men. In the afternoon, their trucks (with the men in them) were unloaded from the carrier onto a floating dock. They were arranged in rows of three trucks across. The trucks were waterproofed to drive in water up to five feet deep. They would unload right, left, and then center.
The dock was driven as close as possible to shore -- their dock hit a sandbar and the first truck off drove into water several feet deeper than the safe five feet. The men in the trucks were wearing flotation devices. They were picked up, the dock repositioned and then the rest drove off into the water and then onto the beach and approached a cliff where the troops were still under fire from the Germans, who were lobbing down grenades. Soon, though, the glider troops landed and encircled and took prisoners of the remaining nests of Germans.
The First Army, to which both Uncle Jim and Uncle Bill belonged, was under the command of General Omar Bradley. Different companies had different duties. I will now give you a little background on what the duties were of the companies your uncles were attached to.
The Quartermasters: Transportation of their dead or dying buddies is something that gave nightmares to the men for years to come!
At the end of the war Jim was given the European Theater of Operation Medal with five bronze stars that represented the five major campaigns in which he participated .
I asked him his opinion of the war. He said, "WAR IS STUPID: It is the rich man's folly, paid for with the poor man's blood!"
Letters to the Editors
Hi Aunt Dorothy,
Love your newsletter . . how do I get on the subscription list?? :-)
----You are on it as of now!
True Confessions of an Executive Chef
Installment Four: Cooking Tips Chefs Won't Tell You
Here are some pointers that took me 15 years as a chef to accumulate. These tips were closely guarded by my masters, coveted like white truffles, only for me to wrest from them with my naked, bleeding hands! (Okay, so that's a bit much, but it took awhile, okay?)
1. Blanch and shock! This is the secret to colorful purees, coulis and vegetables. It's so simple, you'll feel bad you haven't been doing it for years. First, boil water and submerge your vegetable (or fruit) in the water for a minute and a half, or until it blushes bright. Then remove and submerge in ice water for the same amount of time. Careful not to leave it in the ice water for too long, or it will lose color and flavor. This procedure guarantees vibrant color no matter how long you have to hold your sauce or side of vegetables.
2. Use shallots! A shallot is a small, sweet onion with the properties completely unique that set it aside from any other kind of onion. This little miracle is a staple of Haute (pronounced "Ot" as in "I ought to slap you for being such a pretentious Frenchy") Cuisine for use in sauces, marinades, braising, sauteing, ad infinitum. When combined with fresh, ground garlic, minced shallots will make your next helping of sauteed mushrooms the Belle of the Ball.
3. Use sea salt! I can hear you all wrinkling your sloping foreheads, as if to say, "What a snob! How much difference can there really be?" But take from me, there's not a reputable chef working who still uses that granulated jazz! (Sorry if I offend, but I promised the editor that I would pull no punches!)
4. Use Capers! What the heck is a caper, why do I need them, and who really cared anyway, are the questions most commonly asked about capers. A caper is a tiny, olive-colored berry (usually pickled) of Mediterranean origin, that is used sparingly in condiments, sauces, soups, dressings, etc. The caper can add that discreet, exotic tanginess that you may have fallen just short of in past attempts. Oh, yes, and please don't let their resemblance to rat droppings put you off; you need capers in your life, really you do!
5. Last, and most importantly, don't be afraid to improvise! Most professional chefs want you to believe that fine food is a mystical thing reserved only for the exalted magicians themselves. Don't buy it! Most cookbook entries and cooking show vignettes are designed to leave you confused and feeling unworthy of the recipe. I'm sure you've noticed little steps left out and similar deletions as you attempted to assemble that Eiffel Tower wiener scrum you saw in last month's issue of Cooking for Miscreants.
Well, don't let it get you down. Learn the fundamentals of whichever cooking style interests you, and then make it up as you go along. We professionals have been doing it for years!
End Installment Four.
Next week: Dining Tips Restaurateurs Won't Tell You
Some reactions to the missing chapter: First Honorable Mention goes to first three to apply to receive Installment Three to be sent to them
Here is some of the feedback on that issue:
"I can't wait for next week! Just think! Our own private Soap Opera." --Janie
"I loved it." --Patty Henderson
"You, my friend, have a very interesting Job!" --Eric
Lori commented on the font and form.
Editor: Grandma, Mom, Aunt Dorothy and Dorothy
St. Cloud Correspondent -- Douglas Anderson
Roving Correspondent -- Donna Johnson