Downtown Seattle 2008

I am back from Pennsylvania with something other than food on my mind. Well, food with side of politics. Politics and food go hand in hand in countless ways, but this is not about low wages, or the mass amount of people living without food and/or clean water. This is a different kind of politics. A politics of friends, of family, acquaintances, and strangers.

As we were arriving in Seattle, there was an announcement to please remain in your seat as there was a sergeant escorting the remains of a fallen solider on board. As I anticipated the disrespect and rudeness that comes from most citizens, my mind completely focused on those two soldiers. I stopped thinking about the last bus we missed because our flight was late, and realized how completely ridiculous it was to care about it in the first place. I felt guilty, and welcomed something important to put things into perspective. I didn’t talk for the last twenty or so minutes of the flight. I held Jim’s hand.

The captain came back on the intercom to again remind us of the solider, and asked for a moment of silence. If I hear one person on their cell phone telling someone they just landed and blah, blah, blah, I was going to verbally punch someone. I hate this anyway. You are going to be off the plane in a few minutes. What did you do before there were cell phones? That’s right. You got off the plane and met your loved one. Crisis averted.

Surprisingly with only one cell phone call, everyone remained silent. The solider took his long walk down the aisle. (If there are empty first class seats, I think these should be given to military personnel) As he approached first class a few started to clap. He stopped to talk to the flight crew, who couldn’t have been more respectful, and articulate about the importance of what was happening on our flight. That pause sent everyone out of their seats and right for their carry-ons.  A sense of embarrassment flooded over me, and I was so disappointed. They couldn’t wait one more minute until he exited the plane. The world is full of selfish, unthinking people. I am glad I am not one of them, and that I fell in love with someone who is not one of them.

As the woman who had been checking her phone for the last hour sighed louder and louder, we enjoyed seeing all the rows in front of us exit the plane, making her ignorance wait even longer.

We walked off the plane to the next flight of people watching the line of fireman and police pulling a coffin from the plane. The plane we just rode for 6 hours and had no idea a part of our military and someone’s family was also on his way home.

With our arms around each other and tears falling, we watched. A women, a baby. Hands shaking, kisses on the cheek. It was dark and wet.

The first flag draped coffin I have ever seen in person.

Some looked on like it was a car accident. If they could no longer see they just walked away. Older people always going on about life experience were some of the most inconsiderate. The ones who tell us younger liberals we don’t know what patriotism is. I at the very least know what patriotism isn’t by watching most of you.

You don’t have to support the war to appreciate that your fellow citizens are waking up everyday, away from home, away from friends and family, their own bed, good food, and their own freedom.  No sleeping in, cuddling, having a beer with a friend, relaxing on a weekend, going on vacation, attending a wedding, or a birthday. Hell, just everyday things like grocery shopping, going for a walk, taking out the garbage, washing their car, sitting next to their kid.

Labor Day parade, Wilkes-Barre, PA- 2009


Labor Day parade, Wilkes-Barre, PA- 2009

I didn’t write this post to solely depress you. Of course food is involved!

If you want to do something that isn’t blue, red or even purple, do it with food.

Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers from around the country who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic military men and women who are currently deployed in a war zone. Our goal is to show our support and send a little bit of home to remind them that we appreciate all that they do for our freedom.  Find out more here:

If you know a military family, take them some food! Life is hard enough, making dinner can sometimes feel impossible. The stress of feeding themselves and their kids (if they have them) is now gone because of you. Make their kids lunches for school too! Find out what they like first of course. For those who still want to cook, but could use some help, or conversation, bring some ingredients over and cook with them.

Here’s a divine little chicken pot pie I made, that would make a great travel companion to a soldier’s home.

Gorden Ramsey’s Chicken Pie

  • 3¼ cups chicken stock
  • Leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 1¼ pounds in total
  • 10 ounces pearl onions or shallots, peeled
  • 7 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound, or 1 recipe, basic short pastry
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling


Basic Short Pastry
makes about 1 lb
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. fine sea salt
6 tbs. cold, unsalted butter, diced
4-6 tbls.  ice water
Place the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Blitz until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. Tip into a mixing bowl, add 4 tbls. of water and stir with a knife until the dough just comes together. If it seems too dry, add 1-2 tbls. more water. (Try not to make the dough too wet, because this results in a crumbly pastry). Lightly knead the dough into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the thyme leaves, then poach the chicken breasts until just firm and cooked through, 10-12 minutes. With a pair of kitchen tongs, transfer the poached chicken to a plate and let cool.

Tip the boiling onions into the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue simmering until both the onions and mushrooms are tender, 4-5 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions and mushrooms to a large bowl.

Increase the heat under the stock and boil until it has reduced to 1¼ cups. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the onions and mushrooms. When the stock has reduced, pour it into a pitcher.

Return the pan to the heat. Melt the butter in the pan and stir in the flour. Keep stirring over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Gradually pour in the hot stock, stirring until smooth. Simmer until thickened, 5-10 minutes, then stir in the cream and bring back to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce should be thick and creamy. Pour it over the chicken and vegetables and mix well. Let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Divide the pastry into two portions: two-thirds and one-third. Roll out the larger portion on a lightly floured surface to a circle large enough to line a pie dish or pan, or a casserole, that is 9-10 inches in diameter and 1½-2 inches deep. Line the dish and trim off the excess pastry. For a good-looking result, put a pie bird or pie funnel in the middle of the dish. Spread the filling evenly in the dish.

Roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid for the pie and cut a cross in the middle to fit around the pie bird. (If you’re not using a pie bird, cut a small cross anyway, to serve as a steam vent.) Brush the pastry rim with the egg wash, then drape the pastry lid over the pie and press down around the rim to seal. Use a sharp knife to cut off any excess pastry around the rim, then crimp the edges. If you wish, decorate the pie with pastry leaves made with the trimmings. Brush the pie top and trimmings with the egg wash and sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling from the steam hole, about 35 minutes.

Little house vent.