Fiasco Chicken


This seems to be the appropriate time to write about an event from this fall. It’s Christmas time and everyone has either been eating, thinking of eating, or cooking. So this post fits.

First off I have to refer to “Oven-Fried Chicken” on page 107-108 in The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV SHOW Cookbook 2001-2014. This is the recipe that my version of “Fiasco Chicken” is based upon.

The recipe is fairly easy, and definitely delicious. My eldest son says it is the best chicken I have ever made. Then again, he is mid thirties and hasn’t lived near home until recently, I could have made better and his memory is basically from childhood, so there’s that.

This was a Sunday after church, and we were hungry, so I dove right in because I didn’t it would take long and the ingredient list was short.

. . .

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the required buttermilk. No buttermilk, but I had milk and lemon juice so I could make a substitute. Or, so I thought, turns out I didn’t have the amount of milk that the recipe needed, three cups. I only had two. Ah, but I did have dry milk, which around here we use as coffee creamer. Stop and make dry milk, then make the cup of dry and two of regular milk into buttermilk.

Do you see where this is going?

The chicken needed to refrigerate uncovered for two to three hours in the buttermilk mixture. So at now at quarter to twelve, I am recognizing that this is dinner, and we are hungry and expecting to eat a completed meal within the hour.

While making sandwiches to feed hungry bellies, I read the rest of the recipe (as I should have done the night before) and realize we are now short on bread crumbs due to the sandwiches made using several slices of the last loaf bread on had. The recipe calls for a box of Melba toast, but when I glanced at it initially I thought, “Oh, toast some bread and smash it in a ziplock bag and we’re good.” Yes, if there had been enough toasted bread smashed to equivalent to five ounces. There wasn’t now, after eating the sandwiches and toasting the few slices left, they gave me about two ounces. I found a box of bread crumbs that hadn’t expired and the last of some nut/flake cereal that I tossed in to make up the weight difference. There was now a mixture of dry grain stuffs totaling five ounces.

After all this and the soaking of the chicken, came the mess of dipping the chicken into the “breadcrumb” seasoning mix. I had quite the chaotic messy kitchen to clean while the chicken was in the oven: mixing bowls, the pan for the kitchen scale, the dishes and knife from making lunch sandwiches, etc.

I sat down exhausted to a plate of oven fried chicken and instant mash taters and tomato slices. Expecting everyone to be disappointed after all the mess and mix up, I was pleasantly surprised that even with it taking all afternoon to mix and fix, Sunday supper turned out delicious.Fi



What are you doing between Christmas and New Years? Myself? I am working on catching up those things which will make 2017 easier. Specifically, I am working on my drawing skills.  I picked up Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. This is a part of my effort to create better illustrations for the picture books for grandchildren.

Not only did I purchase the book at Norfolk’s Prince Books, but I also ordered the portfolio with all the equipment (a list of these items and instructions on creating them exist in the book) through the DrawRight website. After reading the introduction and first two chapters, I decided that ordering the portfolio would save me time and be worth the money for me considering the book and exercises were starting about Thanksgiving and into Christmas.

Here it is after and I am only in the sixth chapter of the twelve contained in the book. I am letting the information seep, in as well as making time to execute the exercises and watch the video that came with the drawing materials. I still plan on starting work on the BD picture book the first week in January. I have the pagination worked out and a concept of the illustrations. Now I have to do some price checking to decide the size of the book.

Why is that important? First, I want it affordable. Second, I need to know final size so that I can discern the size of the original illustrations. There is a ratio that makes mistakes seemingly disappear when reduced.   There will be mistakes, with me being an amateur artist. (That there is an enormous stretch of the word artist).

Here is a sharing of the doodling thus far. I have to admit, I am rather impressed with the method.


This was an upside down drawn copy. Issues with perspective of proportion.                                                                      
Second attempt at upside down drawn copy. Slight improvement on proportion and relationship.
Using View Pane to drawn hand.
Up close of copy of View Pane drawn hand.


Merry Christmas

There was a post that was supposed to go live today, that has been pulled. It is being entered in a writing contest.  One of my goals for 2017 is to start submitting my work for contests and publications . . . well there is no time like the present.

Starting off the year off on the right track, no sense in waiting. Will be working on editing and prepping to send it off this weekend. If you got to see it, great. If you didn’t, wait, it will eventually appear once we know how it does.

Give yourself a gift, now for next year. Work with your gift this weekend, your passion, that thing that brings you joy.

Merry Christmas!

Guest Post – Porsha Vaughn

I want to share a friend of mine’s essay for an English class. Having been a military spouse for such a long time, and a Navy one at that, there are many traditions that the military, specifically the Navy have. Porsha Vaughan wrote about one that happens every fall called the Khaki ball. I asked her if I could share it with you because she does a wonderful job describing the event. So here it is, thanks Porsha, and congratulations on the A!

Khaki Ball
By Porsha Vaughan
The United States Navy Khaki Ball is a time-honored event that is greatly anticipated and should be attended with pride. The Khaki Ball is historically held each year to welcome newly pinned Chiefs and their spouses/significant others into the Chief’s community. One of the proudest days in an enlisted sailor’s life is the date in which they don the khaki uniform and join a brotherhood and sisterhood of fellow Chiefs.
The cool evening breeze gently blows my black cocktail dress around my knees as I walk with my husband into the upscale Westin Hotel in Virginia Beach. The lobby is beautiful where friendly and courteous staff members greet us. As we make our way up the glass staircase the aqua colored water feature that trickles down the wall entrances me. We are one of the first couples to arrive and are directed to the area outside of the ballroom for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. My palms are sticky as my nerves start to show in anticipation of meeting so many new people. Not only is this my first time meeting the newly appointed Chiefs, it’s my first time meeting my husband’s coworkers since moving to Virginia a year ago. With each new introduction my nerves are slowly starting to subside and I’m actually enjoying myself. My mind wanders back to only one short year ago when my husband was a newly pinned Chief and he was being welcomed into the Chief’s Mess. Last year’s Khaki Ball was held in a small quaint community center on board Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba which is a stark contrast to this year’s upscale hotel.
The ballroom doors open and we walk inside to be seated. The room is grand and has a warm contemporary feel to it. The tables are covered in crisp white linens, dark blue napkins, modern place settings, bulletins, and keepsake blue glasses with anchors engraved on them. In the front of the room there is a wooden podium and a DJ table. To the left is a table covered with gifts that will be raffled off later on in the night. On the right is a projector screen that is playing a photomontage of the events that this year’s new Chiefs went through during their six weeks of phase two training. Each end of the room has been set up with a buffet of food still covered with silver lids to keep them warm. We take our seats as the Master of Ceremony approaches the podium.
The Master of Ceremony welcomes us to the 2016 Chief Petty Officer Khaki Ball and introduces herself. The room is a sea of khaki uniforms adorned with shiny gold anchors on the collars along with women wearing dresses in various lengths and meticulously done hair and makeup. As we stand for the national anthem, the service members stand at attention with arms stiff by their sides and civilians stand with our hands over our hearts as a token of respect to this great nation we live in. Every head is bowed as the invocation is spoken asking our Lord and Savior to bless us this evening as we celebrate this joyous occasion. We sit down and are told the meaning of the Khaki Ball.
Twenty-nine newly pinned Chief Petty Officers are introduced to us one by one. Each new Chief is introduced by a nickname such as “Father Time” or Baby Boats” given to them during the six weeks of training as well as their rate, rank, and name. The atmosphere in the room is starting to come alive as the DJ turns up the volume and a new song is played for each Chief as they are introduced. The songs have been chosen by the individuals to show how they feel during this special event. While some of them slowly walk in with a swagger in their step, others run or dance across the room reveling in the excitement. One thing remains constant for each of them, they are all applauded and welcomed with shouts of praise into the Chief’s Mess.
The room falls silent as a spotlight is shown on a small round table set for one but is unoccupied. This table occupies a place of dignity as we remember our POW/MIA’s. The Master of Ceremony tells us the meaning behind each item placed on the table. For example, the single rose in the vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep the faith awaiting their return. Silent tears roll down my cheeks while I remember the ultimate sacrifices that past service members and their families endured for our freedom today. The wonderful aroma of prime rib and potatoes begins to fill the room as the lids are lifted off the buffet table signaling it is time to eat. The room begins to fill with small chatter as we form a single file line to fill our plates followed by the scraping of forks as we enjoy our meal.
Shouts of joy and elation start to ring out as each raffle ticket is called and the winner happily walks up to retrieve their prize. The dance floor is full of people moving to the beat of the music as others of us sit back watching the excitement. The night is coming to an end when I realize how blessed I am to take part in such a jubilant occasion deep rooted in tradition from days gone past. A family of brothers and sisters who have made it a life long goal to support and defend this great nation surrounds me.

Pumpkin Painting

Standing in line waiting to purchase cleaning supplies and storage boxes, I met a little lady with her adults buying pumpkin painting supplies. The conversation that ensued during our checkout line wait touched upon how last year the pumpkin painting colors all smooshed into a gray mass. The adults were hopeful this year to see other colors besides gray, and the little lady was just excited about the annual activity.

All this brought to mind Picasso. When Picasso was a kid, did he smoosh all the colors to gray? How much did he draw and paint before his talent shone through?

As children what were all the greats like?

Practice is something we tell children they have to do, but how often do they see their adults practice something? Do they see us fail and try again? Do we show them that trying and failing is ok?

So, whether you paint a pumpkin or carve one, isn’t it more important to try what you are interested in than how well you do right off? So do something creative today. Be an example to our youth and encourage their experiments of art and creativity.

Help them write a story, paint a picture, or mold some clay, by doing something creative yourself. Be pleased with efforts, however smooshed and gray, not everyone’s talent comes complete at the first try. Practice is one of those lessons of life not just learned and earned by doing, but by watching others struggle through the doing.

And let me clarify, it isn’t just struggling through the doing, but enjoying the doing as well.