31 December 2007

Ham Desalination and Perhaps the best leftover Brunch Recipe

The Ham for Christmas dinner was fantastic!  I first washed and scrubbed it, then soaked it overnight before cooking it.  I hoped the local butcher shop would cut it for me, but they said no way (all I wanted them to do was cut the hock and shoulder off).  So I went out into the garage, located my coping saw and cut the hock off and left the majority of the shoulder on.

I knew, even after soaking it for 18 hours, it would still be too salty for the VOR and the kids.  I remembered while in NC one time reading on some ham steaks to fry them in a skillet with some water to remove some of the salt.  So I cut some razor thin pieces of the ham and fried them in about a half inch of water.  I flipped them several times, then washed them, added more water, repeating this process five or six times.  I couldn't get over how well it washed the salt out.  The VOR said it was one of the best hams she ever had!

Since only two adults, two kids and one junkyard dog (#3) ate this 16lbs ham there was a considerable amount of leftovers.  I cut major portions and froze them for beans and soups. The rest I carved and put in freezer bags.  On the morning of the 26th I got around to reading the NYTimes Wednesday Dining Section and discovered the baked egg recipe.  So I quickly butter a small Fiesta dish we got for Xmas, placed some hame and English Cheddar, then topped it off with an egg - WOW what a breakfast.  I have had this now five mornings (yes my veins are shrinking but lord is it delicious).  Try it, you will not be disappointed.

26 December 2007


Odd being in RI for Xmas and not in WV. Odd to have a big meal but just the five of us to eat it. Odd indeed.

Xmas went over well here. The kids were more excited by the thank you note Santa left than their toys and more excited about their stocking stuffers than their presents. They enjoyed.

First, the kids with Santa (#3 was having nothing to do with the man).We, by we I mean the VOR, made some party mix (with nearly a cup of bacon grease, aka renderings) delicious candy this year: peppermint bark, turtles, yogurt pretzels, corn flake clusters, chocolate covered peanuts, and 7 layered cookies. Here is a picture of the aftermath:Also, on the 23rd Sylven came over with the table! More pictures forth coming, but for right now here is a snippet:While waiting for the table to be delivered I walked outside to examine the bees (does not look good - losing about 50 a day. They are not eating properly and the mites are getting them). As I walked about in the yard I noticed that the maple leaves had melted into the snow creating a beautiful imprint:

The kids were angels in this years Xmas pageant. The Xmas Eve service, at 11:00pm was packed - I could not believe it, who stays awake that late on Xmas Eve? It was your standard Lessons and Carols. Over the week I have been listening to some songs by Steve Earle, Tom Waitts, U2 and Johnny Cash which made me think of a different style of lessons and carols - but how to you transition music that you listen to to congregational songs (this is one of my life goals).

The VOR's birthday is today, she tells stories of family forgetting her birthday, having presents wrapped in xmas paper and always getting a cake her dad liked more than she did. I took the kids (just #1 & #2) out shopping on Saturday for coffee (they got hot chocolate with whipped cream), then some wine for xmas dinner (they looked at amazement at all the bottles) mom's surprise xmas gift (they loved the croaking frog key chains) and mom's birthday present (for some odd reason they loved the dark brown and orange selections). #2 has a hard time with keeping secrets. He told me as we exited the van, "Hey dad, I can keep important secrets." Later that day he revealed to mom that we went to a jewelry store, but he didn't say what we purchased. Later on he said' "Hey mom, "I can't tell you what you got, but you can wear them on your ears."

In preparation for the birthday I finally got around to printing a picture for the VOR's locket. I found that if you print out a contact sheet of prints it will work perfect. Here is the picture I took for the locket, probably the best one of all three together:
More on the ham (by ham I mean the country ham, not one of the kids) later...

25 December 2007

23 December 2007

More Pork, More Pork and More Pork

On Friday the postman knocked on the door to deliver our 16 lbs country ham.  It is a gift from Lori's brother (he can not eat something with that much salt in it.)  The ham is now soaking, in the morning I'll take it to the butcher to slice, then cook it for the big dinner.  I'll keep the hock end for beans and the shoulder end for some flavoring and who knows perhaps some pork stock.
Last week a package arrived from Dr. Burg, his article was approved for publication in Presence; I asked him to send me a copy of journal.  In the package he included a tin of Bacon Mints.  I was excited but a bit apprehensive to ingest them: were they or weren't the for human consumption - Dr. Burg had no idea.  I thought perhaps they were in the genus of Yip Yaps.  I went ahead and tried them and loved them.  Thanks Dr. Burg.
Last night we were able to get the kids down sometime right after 7; we even watched a bit of a Seinfeld episode but the real treat was watching a Simpsons episode (the one where Lisa turns Buddhist).  In one poignant:
Homer: So, you think you know better than this family, huh?
Well, as long as your in my house, you'll do what I do,
and believe what I believe. [the camera pans to reveal
that Homer is talking to Bart] So butter your bacon!
Bart: Yes, father. [does so]
Lisa: Mom, Dad, my spiritual quest is over.
Homer: Hold that thought. [to Bart] Bacon up that sausage, boy.
Bart: Dad, my heart hurts. [Homer glares at him] Ohh. [wraps a
slice of bacon around a sausage link and eats it]

21 December 2007

1 down 99 to go

Last night I finished the first of my 100 books for 2008 (remember I am giving myself a "rolling start").  The book was the Ipod Book by Scott Kelby.  I saw this book at the local mega-lo-book-mart the other day and thought what a corny book I already know everything about my ipod; nevertheless I picked it up and found out all kinds of stuff I had no idea about.  Primarily about how to podcast.  I have been recording all my sermons on my ipod but couldn't figure out how to turn them into a podcast, now I know.  

19 December 2007

Second Hand Cursing

Golfing one day in college with a man and his son I heard the son say darn it after an errant shot. The dad replied, "Son you know how I feel about second-hand-cursing." I had never heard that phrase before in my life, still have yet to hear anyone else ever use it.

In the Sunday Times magazine there was perhaps one of the greatest usages of second hand cursing I have ever read. The cover story on Mike Huckabee contained some information by a reporter from Little Rock. The reporter said Huckabee would not swear but did have a cunning way of using vulgar language: instead of saying someone was full of *&%$, Huckabee would say the person was constipated. I thought that was pretty clever. I'm still not going to vote for him, but I do admire his cleverness.

here is the paragraph I am referencing:
Huckabee, on one wellremembered occasion, banned an alternative newspaper, The Arkansas Times, from the services of the governor’s press office. His usual weapon, though, has been his sharp tongue. Huckabee is never profane — one of his first acts as governor was to ban swearing and inappropriate sexual remarks by his staff — but he has a way of expressing himself that sometimes flirts with vulgarity. ‘‘Once he told a group of journalists that I was constipated,’’ John Brummett recalls. ‘‘That was his way of saying I was full of [expletive].’’

Gastronomical News

Since worship was cancelled Sunday due to inclement weather, I hopped in the truck and drove down to pick up a copy of the NYTimes.  (What I was thinking purchasing a small tome of news I have no idea.  Did I really imagine a day of leisure reading the paper with three kids trapped in the house all day?  I suppose I did).  Sometime after the kids were put to bed I was able to start on the Sunday magazine.  And wouldn't you know it an article by Michael Pollan.  

But this morning's Times had an even greater article on a magazine on the love of meat written by former vegetarians.  This line in particular is simply priceless: Both are in their early 30s, and both were once committed vegetarians. “We find over and over again that bacon is the conversion meat,” Ms. Standen said. “Bacon is how vegetarians change their minds.

18 December 2007

100 Books for 2008

First things first. For some reason family members, friends and even colleagues will ask me questions about suits. I suppose since I wear a suit 75% of the time I am some kind of unofficial know-it-all. All I know is what I have read about picking out a suit, spending some time in suit shops perusing the goods and paying close attention to the fashion in old movies. This morning I was searching for a suit brush when I found this great synopsis on picking out a suit.

Now to the issue at hand. I have decided to read 100 books for 2008. I am compiling a list of 80 books leaving space for 20 wildcards (new releases, new discoveries or expedient resources). I am trying to amass a list from a wide variety of authors and subjects. Furthermore (a word that we should use at least 3 times a day) I am asking for your help. Will you send me your recommendations of books you love(d) to read?

Let me further add that this is not a true 100 books for 2008 list. I am figure I need to give myself a "rolling start." I am, therefore (a word overtly used), including in the 100 books that I have already started and have yet to finish. We all have half read books laying around, haphazardly placed on nightstand or stashed in a briefcase somewhere. I am finishing all of these and going forward.

Suggestions are greatly appreciated. I will post the final list before the end of the month. Either email at gtnorvell@gmail.com or leave your suggestions as a comment to this post.

17 December 2007


First, glad to see Huggins is not wearing just sweats any more.

Second, I laughed when I heard my brother-in-law tell me that at the last WVU basketball game a student held up a sign that read "Huggy, can you coach football too?"  I did laugh at this report.

Third, while I was at the coffee shop last week the dude behind the counter had a Patriots shirt that I wouldn't mind buying: it had a player in the classic Michael Jordan in mid-air-about-to-dunk- pose only the player held a football.  Below the figure were the words: Air Moss.  

Fourth, the winter (although it is not winter yet) storm that targeted New England this week brought another 8 inches early Sunday morning, followed by freezing rain and then just rain. Around 8 in the morning I called the moderator and we decided to cancel worship - everyone else did too.  Canceling worship services on a Sunday on the one hand is a treat, on the other hand it really stinks, especially when if you follow the lectionary!  After Epiphany I am officially chunking the lectionary for a good spell.

13 December 2007

The 2007 List

It is now time for the much anticipated List of 2007 Experiences.

Special note, these are discoveries and experiences I had, if for instance a cd was recorded in 1974 but I discovered it in 2007 it will be on the list.

Category I: Biblioteca
Best Children's Book: (a tie) Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rapaport and Zuzu's Wishing Cake by D.B. Johnson.
Best Non-Fiction (in general): Heat by Bill Buford
Best Non-Fiction (biography): Tunney by Jack Cavanaugh
Best Mystery: The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter
Best Essay: The God You Touch by Ann Ulanov
Best Professional Book: The Jazz of Preaching by Kirk Jones

Category II: Gastronomical
Best New Recipe:
The No Knead Bread
Best Spirit: Laphroaig 25 year
Best Meal: Boeuf a la Bourguignon at Pot Au Feu

Category III: Wildcard
Most Life Changing Event: "The Surgery"
Most Anticipated Event that Didn't Come to Fruition: The Release of American VI
Best Decision: To go ahead with vacation even though the van broke down in Maryland.
Biggest Surpise: Cask Ale

Category IV: Audiophile
Best CD: From the Plantation to the Penitentiary by Wynton Marsails
Best New Find: Elvis Costello (The other day while reading a review of Juno in the Times they described Jason Bateman's character as such: "while Mark tends the guttering flame of his youthful hipness, watching cult horror movies and trading alternative-rock mix CDs with Juno." And after reading Lady and Dr. Burg's best music of 2007 I realized that I just dont have the time or energy to keep up with new music, when I try to read Pitchfork Media it is just too much. So I have resigned to simply keeping up with known quantities and then searching the archives for in my world, lost treasures.

Finally, What I Can't Get Over a few weeks ago I referred to a Letterman joke about President Bush being a member of the Chuck Norris Fan Club. Since then, when I puruse the sitemeter findings it reveals that an ungodly amount of people are actually searching for the chuck norris fan club and are being directed to my blog.

09 December 2007

Celtic Women by 10

Each week during the announcements time at church I make my "famous" prediction of the score for the New England Patriots game. Today was a tough call: New England vs. Pittsburgh. I enjoy the Steelers and grew up watching them and the Browns. So I went with my heart and made the prediction of Celtic Women by 10. Some caught the absurdity, some didn't.

08 December 2007

Worshipers Bracing for the Effect of the Writers Strike Tomorrow Morning

Worshipers Bracing for the Effect of the Writers Strike Tomorrow Morning

by G. Travis Norvell
Birmingham, AL

A look of disdain passed over the face of Ida McKenna as she finished her last cup of coffee before washing the dishes in the Vista Hills, a suburb of Birmingham, raised ranch. "I suppose we'll hear a sermon from last year or who knows what he'll pull out of his (she paused choosing her words carefully) well you know what I mean."

Mrs. McKenna and millions of other Christian worshipers tomorrow morning will either discover what a "real" sermon sounds like or will hear a repeat! How is this? Most Christian preachers subscribe to a sermon service know as Better Ministry, a Los Angeles based company that specializes in writing and distributing what they refer to as "ministry enhancing materials" i.e. pre-written sermons. Better Ministry contracts their sermon writing product to members of Local #13 a member of the Writers Guild of America.

This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent, is the first Sunday that millions of pastors, preachers, evangelists and street corner hacks will find their inbox empty. The last of the pre-strike sermons were delivered last Sunday; which has almost driven Rev. Fred Deerpointe pastor of Our Mother of the Slain and Nearly Surviving of Cuyoga Falls, OH almost to drinking. Normally a calm, cool and collected professional parish priest Rev. Deerpointe this Friday was a nervous mess: hair tattered, unshaven and smelling of pickles and mustard. He said he didn't know what he was going to do. He said, "I think may be able to get away with a long and slow reading of Psalm 119, but after that it is any body's call."

From the looks of the Saturday morning church notices it appears lots of people will be hearing Psalm 119 tomorrow.

Some Saturday Stuff

This morning I am in charge of #1, #2 & #3 - the VOR is off at a art show selling her wares. (more information will be forthcoming on this new adventure in the near future). She is enjoying her business and nurturing her creative side.

One day last week we drove down to Sylven Medyesy's studio to see the latest progress on the table. She has the top finished and is working on the base and bench. The top is cherry, the base and bench is black walnut. Here is the top:*****
The other day #2 gave the VOR an oral report of A Charlie Brown Christmas, apparently there is a new character: Chicken Patty.

06 December 2007

Some Thoughts on Presidential Politics

First, my prediction of Mr. Huckabee as the dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination is coming true. As I listened to Huckabee I think he took a page right out of the Clinton camp and reversed it: he is sounding like a Democrat. This is my thought: he realizes that the nation is not leaning Republican, so sound more like the other side and see what happens. I don't really think that is his intention, but I do think it may be at play at some level.

As I listened to the Democrats for the NPR debate I kept thinking at how paternalistic they are towards the middle class. They keep talking about the manufacturing base for the American economy as vital for the survival of the middle class. Are manufacturing jobs the best middle class folk can strive for here in America? Is the great investment in Americans with education, health care, public parks, highways, etc for a person to work at a shop making blue jeans every working day for 40 years? I would want Americans to dream bigger than that, to have a level of enjoyment, prosperity and financial security. We are a talented nation, we should have an educational system and economy that supports and lifts up creativity and let it strive.

My father worked at a bricklayer, his body after 30 years was worn out: knees shot (he couldnt go fishing) shoulder gone (could barely throw a baseball) and was in many ways tired. Is that what we want our economy to do its workers?

Come on Democrats quit sounding so paternalistic and idealizing the middle class and come up with some inspiring and uplifting visions.

If you haven't read Woody's latest post on Snickers, you must, you must!
I'm glad Ron found Woody's blog, it is great stuff.


Ron: any thoughts on which candidate(s) is impressing folk in WV?


Now off to wrestle with Isaiah.

03 December 2007

Things I Vow Never to do Again in My Life: #435

A few weeks ago the family and I, along with the sausage eating vegetarians from down the road, went to the local Christmas Tree Farm to pick out our tree. Before we ventured out to tag the tree the VOR asked if we wanted to cut it ourself or if we wanted the farm to cut it for us on a certain day. (Thinking that the trees were just around the corner and since the sausage eaters would be with us when we go to cut the trees down, I said lets cut it ourself.) {In my head I was convinced that cutting the tree down myself would save us a few buck, hey I'm Scot what can I say. Even though the VOR clearly stated that the cost was the same to have them cut it down, I heard otherwise.}

Sunday after church, I packed my saw, gloves, put my winter coat on and toboggan on and headed down the road. I walked the mile to the tree and cut it down. Since it had started to snow the tree gained a few extra pounds. So I somehow was able to chunk the 100lb tree on my back and walk back to the truck. Never again.

There is a reason why Boy Scouts, local high school bands and meg-lo-marts sell trees. therefore from now on I am supporting my local tree selling gang.