Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey Chowder

This is one of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas. I've been making it for years and everyone loves it.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups cubed uncooked potatoes
1 10 oz. package lima beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. can of tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, combine potatoes, limas, onion, celery, and salt and pepper.

Blend water and soup and pour into vegetables. Cook, covered, for 35 to 45 minutes, until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in undrained tomatoes, turkey, poultry seasoning, and garlic salt. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

At serving, sprinkle cheddar over each bowl.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Alabama 26 - Auburn 21

An e-mail I received from a cousin today stated, "You must write on your blog about the GAME."

It's no secret that I love football, in particular college football. While there are a lot of teams I follow, there is only one that I truly get excited about - the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. No, I did not attend the University of Alabama. I graduated from a women's college (or at least it was all women when I was there), Mississippi University for Women, in Columbus. I am old enough to remember watching the immortal, Paul Bear Bryant, coach the Crimson Tide.

Football is a strong attraction in the South, where I was born and raised. So it is no wonder I enjoy football so much. I think the Southeastern Conference of college football is the best in the nation.

Last night's game between Alabama and Auburn was supposed to be a yawn. That's not the way it turned out! Auburn, hard pressed to win a game this year, came out with a shocking 14 - 0 lead in the first quarter. Their onside kick after the first touchdown, in my opinion, was lame. You do trick plays like that in the waning minutes of a game to pull an upset, not in the first quarter.

The game came down to the final 10 seconds with Auburn threatening to score. With less than 10 seconds left, the Auburn quarterback threw a Hail Mary pass toward the end zone which was met by a wall of Alabama players, one of whom batted the ball away from the end zone. The game was over. Alabama won. I was having chest pains! Go ahead and laugh, but I told you, I take my football seriously!

Next week, undefeated Alabama plays undefeated Florida in the SEC Championship game. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unbelievable. . .

Here we are, two days away from Thanksgiving and I have yet to see a single snowflake. . . I have not taken my heavy winter coat out of the closet and I don't even know where my boots are. Does this mean we are in for a mild winter? I wouldn't complain about that! The deer hunters can't be happy - tracking a deer with snow on the ground is easier than no snow.

The forecast for the next 5 days is for falling temperatures into the high 30's - rain with a possible snowflake here and there.

I have lived in Rochester for 35 years. During that time, we have had maybe three or four really severe winters. Yes, I will admit, the first major snowfall of the year is fun. . . and Molly gets excited when she sees snow for the first time. . . but when it gets so deep that I have to shovel a path in the backyard for her to go potty, well then it's no fun anymore. And when March comes and you are hit with a major snowstorm, that's when you start screaming!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Slowly settling in

I've been in my new job now for five weeks. I still have a lot to learn but I am starting to feel the new-kid-on-the-block jitters fade away. I had my first monthly meeting with my supervisor yesterday. This guy knows how to manage people. During the hour long meeting, I was given a draft of his proposed goals and achievements for me to accomplish in the next one to three months. We talked about them and I was given a chance to offer feedback. When it comes time for my performance evaluation, material from these meetings will be used to evaluate my job performance.

He fully understands that if I get bored or don't feel I am allowed to work to my potential, I can become a problem child. I never made a secret of that. This week I took a course in Contribute, which is the software the University uses to produce and manage its many websites. Man! I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I loved learning how to do that. When I feel comfortable, I will take over the management and production of our division's website.

THEN we talked about our division's newsletter. Now, folks, I know newsletters! I have a lot of experience and training and I know how to use newsletters to showcase whatever it is you are doing, whether it be selling homes in real estate, promoting a chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, or letting the world know the value of the Clinical Translational Science Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center! I bounced a few thoughts off him and he readily agreed with me. He allowed me to be editor as opposed to someone who just collects articles from people and plops them into a newsletter. That really made my day. I want the focus of the newsletter to be toward the lay person who, although intelligent, most likely does not have a technical background nor understand clinical research jargon, but who will understand when you tell them, "this is what this research is going to do for YOU." People know about cancer and heart research and they are willing to donate to those causes. But even many people that work at the Medical Center don't have a good understanding of how the CTSI can benefit them. I hope the newsletters that I produce will put the spotlight on the CTSI in the community.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is this weather for real???

Here we are well into November and we are still having mild weather, little or no rain and no snow. . . yet! Can this mean we are in for a mild winter? I haven't even taken my heavy winter coat out of the closet this year and several days lately I didn't need my lightweight coat.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dolly Rugg

A real life saint died this weekend. Dolly Rugg, a dear lady in her late 80's, was a member of my church, Asbury First United Methodist. I first met Dolly about ten years ago. I had been asked to Chair the Asbury Storehouse, an outreach group that gives clothing and household items to those in need. At that time, I knew Dolly only by reputation and I knew if I wanted to learn about the Storehouse, she was the one to see. I walked into the Storehouse that day. There was Dolly, all by herself, working at sorting clothes and getting them out on the racks and shelves.

"Hi! I'm Sherry Bennett and I'm the new Storehouse Chair. Mind if I look around?" Dolly immediately dropped what she was doing and began showing me every nook and cranny of the Storehouse. I could sense the pride she had in that place. It was as if she was showing me her own cherished home. Dolly and three other women founded the Storehouse back in 1965 when it was nothing more than a large closet in another building on the church grounds. It has grown to its current state of serving over 5000 individuals a year who are in need. These are battered women, families whose home has been destroyed by fire, those who have lost their income, and others. She worked tirelessly until a few years ago when health problems prevented her from coming in.

She explained to me the four women who started the Storehouse wanted a place that was cheerful and where those who came would be served with dignity and respect.

During the three years I served as Chair, I developed a great deal of admiration for Dolly. Her Irish stubborness showed its true colors more than a few times. I started a Wednesday night session at the Storehouse. This allowed us to tap into more volunteers and serve those who had day jobs. I didn't want Dolly to be a part of the Wednesday night shift because I didn't think she should be driving late at night. But that didn't stop Dolly. One really brutal winter night, as we closed up shop after 9:00 pm, the driving conditions were just nasty. There was a heavy wet blinding snow whipping around. "Dolly, I will drive you home and bring you back tomorrow to pick up your car."

"Sherry, I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!" she let me know in that strong, independent tone of hers.

I realized this was one argument I was not going to win. "Okay, then I will follow you to make sure you get home safely."

As the years went by, Dolly became frail and her memory wasn't what it used to be. I think the last time I saw her was in church one Sunday morning about two years ago. She was sitting in the pew but didn't seem aware of her surroundings. I waved and smiled at her but I am not sure she knew who I was. How sad.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Looking forward to a great weekend

Tomorrow I will be going to Pittsford Musicals' production of Carousel with my good friends, Harold and Juanita, and then to dinner with them after the show. If you have never seen a Pittsford Musicals performance, you don't know what you are missing. They are very good.

On Sunday afternoon I am having other friends, Robert and Nancy, over for dinner.

It is so easy to get caught in the trap of using the weekend to get things done around the house or run errands that I can't do on weekdays. There is always something that needs to be done. This weekend, short of the usual laundry, grocery shopping, and basic cleaning, I'm going to have fun.

I hope each of you will take time to have fun this weekend. Do something YOU want to do. You will be a better person for it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Time for cleaning and decluttering

It is hard to imagine a day in November when you can open your windows in Western New York. I lingered over my coffee this morning, cooked a nice cheese and fresh kale omelet for breakfast, then took Molly for a walk. After that it was time to get serious. I began getting rid of excess junk and doing some major cleaning. I cleared cobwebs from the 3-season room and cleaned the floor. . . that vinyl flooring is long overdue for replacement but that will come in time. In between this I've kept the washer and dryer running nonstop. Still have dusting to do, vacuuming, and if my energy doesn't give out, there is the last of the leaves to rake in the front yard.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My window

Nothing gets my work day started off better than walking to my workstation and seeing this huge window looking out over the surrounding area. I am on the third floor and right up close to the window is the top of a big tree that right now is a beautiful shade of crimson. . . I have decreed that those red leaves are going to stay there all winter to brighten my day!!! Just beyond that is the 390 expressway and past the highway, an expansive area of trees. And then there are the clouds. Oh, my goodness, some mornings I come in and the sky looks like it was painted by an artist! It is pleasing to watch the day progress. Yesterday I saw everything from bright sunshine, to dark rain clouds, to snow pellets beating against my window.

Why am I so excited about a window? In my previous job, when we moved to the new cancer center building in May of 2008, I was in a cubicle jungle and could not see the outside from my work area. I would often eat my lunch in the second floor atrium with its massive wall of windows, just to get my "window time" for the day!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eggplant Skillet Dinner

I made this delicious and quick skillet dinner tonight and loved it. Here is the recipe:
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 small eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar
In a large skillet, brown beef with onion; drain. Sprinkle flour over beef; stir to mix. Add next five ingredients; mix well. Season eggplant with salt and pepper; lay slices over meat mixture. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar; Cover and cook until cheese melts.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It was an uneventful Halloween on my street last night, except that I almost ran out of candy. There were a lot of the cutest little kids dressed up for Halloween. One little toddler, 19 months old, was dressed in a Curious George costume. Another little girl was in a pumpkin costume with a hat made to look like the top of the pumpkin with the stalk. Molly, my Black Lab, loves Halloween. She has to get out the door and lick all the kids. Some of them laugh at her, others are scared. Some of them, the more she licks them in the face, the more they laugh!

Granny, do you have Halloween in Australia or is that just an American thing?

I never know how much candy to buy. Some years I have had well over 100 kids come to the door, others maybe 20 or less. I think, a lot of parents, out of security concerns, plan Halloween parties for kids rather than letting them go door to door.