Armadas Steaming To Korea, Tree of Life, Both are Mistakes

Where Is The USS Carl Vinson?

First of all, the  USS Carl Vinson and its strike group are not powered by steam. The modern navy does not use steam to power their ships. Second, Armada is the Spanish word for naval fleet; we call ours the United States Navy.

Aside from the distraction of wrong descriptors, it turns out that the aircraft carrier strike group was really heading to Australia for a war games exercise and never changed course toward Korea. Statements by Resident Trump, Generals McMaster and Mattis, and Sean Spicer that the USS Carl Vinson was on its way to South Korea last week, making most of us nervous about the escalating game of chicken between two egomaniacs with nuclear weapons .

The carrier group is currently about 3500 miles away in the Indian Ocean, but they will eventually head to South Korea. The South Koreans are pissed off about this; they feel betrayed and are saying unkind things about Trump.  Not to worry, the tour of these ships has been extended 30 days so that when they are finished they can go hang out off the coast of South Korea for a while.

Tree of Life

chicken pot pie


Not The Tree of Life After All

Maybe you watched your mother or grandmother construct a pie and then vent the top crust with a knife, or maybe your grandmother bought frozen pies.  Either way there is a pattern  cut in the top of that pie crust to vent the steam that will be created during baking, and the designs your grandma made may have come from her grandma and farther back up the family tree.

The one in the picture is the design my mother’s mother made; when I was a little kid I asked about it and she called it the Tree of Life. My grandmother was born in 1856 in Bear Creek, Searcy Co, Arkansas.  She only finished 5th grade and her mother may not have gone to school for long either.

My father’s mother made a star or a daisy pattern in her pie crusts. It goes back to her grandmother Elizabeth, who was born in 1826 in Troy, New York, and who was fairly well-educated.

(I read about a grandmother who vented her mince pies with “T R” for ’tis mince. She marked all of the other pies she made with “T R” for ’tisn’t mince.)

I could never see the tree in my pattern; it looked more like branches with leaves to me and the branches aren’t connected.  Today I was messing around on the internet and found a description of the design below: ‘Three stalks of wheat, a line for the ground underneath them. WHEAT SHEAF

Hmm. Mine looks a lot like a pair of those wheat stalks. The name of my pattern was probably Staff of Life and was gradually changed by a generational game of Telephone, played by women who were barely educated and wrote down almost nothing.

Staff of Life, which is how wheat is sometimes described. The Tree of Life is something altogether different.

I can see how the understanding of a phrase is lost and the phrase changes over enough time; I do not understand what Resident Trump and his minions thought they were doing by making claims so false and so easily checked.

Chicken Pot Pie

I make this when I have extra chicken left over; one or both breasts of a roasted chicken and maybe a thigh.  Remove these  from the carcass being careful to not include any cartilage or skin, cut into cubes. Set aside. (You can also buy a roasted chicken at the store).

You don’t have to use a pie pan; you can use a square baking pan, preferably glass or ceramic. Before you begin, eyeball your pie pan to see how much you need to adjust the amount of filling to fit. For a large pie pan, one of those oversized deep-dish numbers, start by boiling 4 or 5 medium red potatoes for about 15 minutes; set aside.

chop up these ingredients:

1 large onion                                                                3 – 5 carrots

2 stalks of celery


Melt  half a stick of butter or some leftover bacon grease and sweat the onion, carrots and celery in a skillet or sauté pan. When the onions are soft and transparent, cut the potatoes into cubes, and sift about half a cup of flour over them; stir. When the flour has soaked up all of the shortening and cooked for a minute or two, add about 2.5 Cups of chicken stock or broth and stir it in. Salt to taste and stir in some herbs of your choice. I like sage and thyme for this.  Let it cook for about 5 minutes until thickened then remove pan from heat and stir in the cubed chicken.  If it needs more liquid add some until the consistency is smooth and not too thick. If you like you can add some frozen peas.

Make the pie crust mentioned in the instructions on how to make a cherry pie:

I’ve been told I’ve got some crust!

This is also called Pâte Brisée in the recipe book that came with my first Cuisinart, except it had sugar in the recipe, which I have omitted because the crust is more likely to burn.

1 1/2 Cup flour                                              1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)

1/4 tsp salt                                                      1/4 Cup cold water

Put the flour and salt into your food processor and pulse once to mix. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and pulse a few times until it looks like cornmeal and the butter has disappeared. With the motor running, pour the ice water through the feed tube and run just until the dough holds together enough to clean the bowl. Now Stop!

Set your oven to 375°. Roll out half of your dough, fit it into your pie pan, trim. Roll out the other half, fold into quarters, set aside.

Spoon your filling into the pan, add the top crust, mark it with the vent slashes of your choice (I’ve seen some beautiful vining designs that take a very sharp knife), bake for about 55 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving but it will still be hot so be careful not to burn your tongue like I did this evening.


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