Friday, September 30, 2005

The Return of a Cold

Last week— oh, like a week ago today— I came down with a cold. Not as severe as some colds I've had, but it was the usual sneezing, eyes watering, sneezing, and nose running like a faucet. As I grow older, I find that my colds hang on longer and longer, and so I was surprised when the cold seemed largely to be passing over by Sunday.

And indeed so it seemed. Until yesterday. Return of the cough. Hacking, hacking. Coughing up phlegm. This is not what I need, especially with this weekend looming up, and our big 125th anniversary celebration here at St. John's.

Then I remembered something the brother-in-law of a friend of mine had recommended to me, back many years ago. "Try blackberry brandy for a cold," he said.

Now, I've never had blackberry brandy before. But this little item of information dislodged itself from my memory and, since I was running out to get some things yesterday, I decided to give it a try. Picked up a bottle of blackberry brandy, brought it home. And what do you know, it works!

I discover that blackberry brandy actually tastes like cough medicine. It does apparently relieve the symptoms of a cold. In fact, it even smells like cough medicine, or like cough medicine would smell if cough medicine smelled like anything.

Note: This blog post does not constitute medical advice, or recommendations amounting to medical advice. Always consult a physician. Do not drink and drive, or operate heavy machinery while under the influence. Ask your doctor if blackberry brandy is right for you. Not to be taken within 24 hours of piloting an airliner. The proprietorship of this blog cannot be held responsible for consequences arising from the use or misuse of its contents. Don't lawsuit us! Enjoy in moderation. To the fullest extent permitted by law we disclaim all warranties of any kind (express, implied or otherwise) regarding this blog or its content, including but not limited to any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. We make no warranty about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, timeliness, sufficiency or quality of this blog or its content. Don't lawsuit us!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

State Quarters

kansas state quarter
I hadn't seen any new state quarters in quite a while. Then just yesterday, I got a couple of Kansas state quarters in change. And I was quite impressed with them. I like the buffalo. The sunflowers are a nice touch. Overall the quarter is well designed, attractive, it hangs together, it's not too cluttered.

And for a state quarter, that's saying a lot. Sorry to say. In my judgment, most of the state quarters have been fairly disastrous. Most of them look as though they were designed by a committee. A timid, clueless, interest-group-riven committee. A committee with the soul of... a committee; which is to say, no soul at all.

You know what I mean. Usually a state quarter is cluttered with three, four, five unrelated symbols, genuinely or purportedly associated with the state. Often unfurled against the background of an outline map of the state. As if the chief aim of the design was to touch all bases, mollify all factions, and give offense to no one.

Every once in a while, a state quarter with a decent design does manage to slip through the process nonetheless. Like this Kansas state quarter. And there are a few other decent state quarters, too— most of them for some reason from New England. My favorite so far is the Maine state quarter:

maine state quarter
I see somehow this year I've missed the California and Oregon quarters altogether. Oh well. I guess I've yet to recover from my home state of Wisconsin issuing an utterly forgettable state quarter last year, passing by a truly stunning runner-up which would have featured a fur trapper, an Indian, and a canoe. Actually in this case the committee had the smarts to recommend the "trapper, Indian, canoe" design, but the Governor made the final choice based on an Internet poll!!! (Full story here.)

wisconsin runner up
Above: The Wisconsin state quarter that wasn't


Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I once utterly infuriated my fifth-grade teacher.

I've always been a great defender of the word "ain't," which after all has a long history in English, going back several hundred years. Anyhow, my teacher was insistent that "ain't" was not a "real" word. I asked, "Why not?"

She said, "Because it's not a contraction of anything. What is 'ain't' a contraction of— 'ai not'?"

I said, "Well, but 'won't' is good English, isn't it?"

She had to concede that it is.

I then had the impertinence to reply, "So then what is 'won't' a contraction of— 'wo not'?"

Back in those long-ago days, this was known as "getting sassy with the teacher." Otherwise known as "asking inconvenient questions."

And let's not get into double negatives, which have a history in English going back a good thousand years, to the days of Anglo-Saxon...


The Rats of New Orleans

My brother is on vacation up north this week. He was planning to go on vacation last week, only he had to put it off, because he had to prepare a special shipment of rat poison, which is to be dropped out of the air over the New Orleans area.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Are M&Ms Politically Incorrect?

Somewhere recently in the blogosphere I ran across one of those oh so sincere (only not really) types who asked oh so sincerely (only not really) whether the Golden Rule— "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"— applies to masochists. The bizarrely rationalistic idea in this feverish person's mind being that if you can find any exception, however far-fetched, to a rule, then that rule is somehow dynamited by remote control.

This reminded me of a true story I once read, of someone who sent a letter to the makers of M&Ms, accusing them of having a politically incorrect slogan: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands." This person wrote, "How dare you have such an insensitive slogan, which discriminates against people who, by birth or through tragic accident, have no hands? I think you should revise your slogan to read, 'Melts in your mouth, not in your hands, if you have any hands.'"

Turns out this person was just kidding, had been sending all sorts of letters like this out to various outfits and celebrities, just to see what kind of a response he could get out of them. Problem with the rationalists of the world is, they ain't kidding. Though they're about as ludicrous.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Say What?

On the radio this morning, I heard some news flunky referring to the "mayoral race." Only he repeatedly called it the "mare-oral race."

That's right, the mare-oral race. Mare-oral. I guess there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. ;-)

What's Your Home Page?

Since I'm on a browser kick, I may as well mention that over the years I've had only two home pages on my browser.

Way back in January 1998 a friend of mine showed me his computer, which he had hooked up to the Internet down in his basement. I'd seen people websurfing before, but this was the first time I'd ever had the chance to sit down and try it out myself. My friend signed me up for a web-based e-mail address with I used this address over library terminals, still have it today though I don't really use it any more. Anyhow, when I finally got my own home Internet connection in the summer of 1999, I adopted (which in those days was a fairly popular portal site) as the home page on my browser (which in those days was Netscape 4).

Went along like this a few years, and then in late 2001 the portal went under. I guess it was one of those dot-com boom-to-bust stories. The portal resurfaced again after several weeks, under new management, and rewritten in some horrible javascript-heavy format which took a good 45 seconds to load. So I found myself looking for a new home page.

Looked around, checked out several possibilities, and finally settled on, which has been my home page ever since. Note, since I use the Opera browser, I have my start page set to about:blank; my home page comes up only when I press the "home" button on my browser.

How about you? What's your home page?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Opera Goes Free!

opera 8.5
Just the other day, the latest version of the Opera browser came out: Opera 8.5. And there was another surprise: at long last, Opera is now free, just like every other browser out there!

You may have heard of Opera's infamous built-in ad banner, which you have to pay a registration fee to get rid of. Well, as of Opera 8.5, there's no more ad banner, and no more registration fee. The Opera browser is now free for the download.

I myself am a big booster of Opera— I've used it as my main browser now for going on four and a half years. Of course, when I first tried it out, it took me less than a week to cough up the registration fee, and get rid of that ad banner for good. Best $39 I ever invested.

But— need I repeat myself?— Opera 8.5 is now free!!! No ad banner. No registration. Yours for free.

I could go on at length about all of Opera's great features. But I won't. All I'll mention is one thing: if you're using Windows, ditching Internet Explorer in favor of a browser like Opera or Mozilla Firefox is one of the best things you can do for your own computer security. (The other is ditching Outlook Express in favor of Mozilla Thunderbird or Opera's own built-in M2 e-mail client.)

Speaking of Firefox— which is also an excellent browser— Firefox 1.0.7 came out just yesterday:

firefox 1.0.7
Opera. Now free. Firefox. Also free. Check them out!


Back and Forth and Back and Forth

The other day I went out to see a confirmand's volleyball match. And I was reminded once again of a perennial feature of local school sports events: at every event, there are a few individuals who keep walking back and forth, back and forth in front of you, every minute or two throughout the entire game.

First they come walking out into the gym, and climbing up right in front of you into the bleachers. Then, two minutes later, the same individuals come climbing down out of the bleachers, right in front of you, and they head out of the gym. Then a few minutes after that, they're back again, and climbing back up into the bleachers. Right in front of you. Then, not another five minutes, and they're heading down out of the bleachers and out of the gym again. Then, two minutes after that, here they come again...

This keeps up through the entire evening. The same handful of individuals; most people stay put, it's just those few. Where do they keep going? What are they up to? At first I thought they were heading to the bathroom, or out to the concession stand. But the same individual doesn't have to keep running out, every three minutes like metronome clockwork, all the way through a two-hour volleyball match. So what's up with them, anyhow?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Ran across this one a while back on a blog somewhere. Blog was written in something like Danish.

Isn't the plural of Pinocchio pinocchii?


Chopper Nightmare

The other night I had a nightmare. I was driving my new Jeep down a main drag in the city. A big boulevard, six lanes. The street ran on straight ahead, toward the heart of the city. Tall buildings on either side. The traffic around me wasn't too heavy, but on up six or eight blocks ahead, you could see that all the lanes were packed with vehicles.

Then up there several blocks ahead, I could see something emerging from one side among the buildings, hovering in the air over the boulevard, hovering over all the vehicles. It was a large helicopter, a chopper, with two helicopter blades, one up front and the other slightly higher toward the back. It looked like a chopper from the war in Vietnam, like something I remember seeing on the evening news back in the 60s when I was a kid.

Even from this far back up the boulevard, I could see traffic up ahead had ground to a halt, motorists terrified at the whirling, beating spectre overhead. Then on my car radio I heard the morning traffic crew, warning about a chopper over the city, stolen by terrorists.

And now the chopper turned in the air and was moving down the street. Moving toward me. It hadn't opened fire... yet.

For an instant I thought of trying to turn off onto a side street. Or maybe shifting into reverse, and backing down the street. But no, that might single me out, and make me an instant target.

Now I had shifted into park. The chopper was coming closer, now only a block away, and advancing toward me. I could hear the beating locust noise of its blades.

Now closer yet, the shadow of the chopper was on the road only a few yards in front of my hood. And advancing. Instinctively I bent over, leaning across into the empty passenger seat, hoping this would make it harder for them to sight my silhouette inside my Jeep.

But they could open fire on me at any instant. And likely would.

Now the chopper was hovering, paused right overhead. Right above the roof of my Jeep. The whirring of the blades was deafening. It was right above me, a chopper like Vietnam, piloted by terrorists.

It was unthinkable that they wouldn't open fire on somebody.

Then I woke up in the dark, panicked, sweating.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to my brother Steven!


I'm exhausted. I've been running close to nonstop day after day. Mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Today is the first full day off I've had in two weeks.

So in lieu of straining my brain, and since my mind has been on things automotive lately, here's a rerun of my infamous old piece about Blocking Central...

Blocking Central

Ever notice how a car will pull out in front of you in traffic at the most inconvenient moment, and then block you and slow you down until you're about to go crazy? Well, for years I've entertained a paranoid little fantasy about what's really going on.

The hidden truth is, such traffic snafus are part of a vast conspiracy by a secret organization called Blocking Central.

Blocking Central
I envision the headquarters of Blocking Central as looking sort of like the tracking center in the old 1960s Patrick McGoohan TV series, The Prisoner. People seated at control panels, maps projected on wall screens, two dudes riding a rotating videocam teeter-totter; and the commander of Blocking Central, standing there and dictating orders into his retro-60s cordless phone:

—"Yes, we're tracking the motorist on Highway 76. Have a vehicle ready to pull out in front of him at the intersection with county road A26. Estimated time of arrival, 30 seconds..."

Sure enough, just in the nick of time, that car (driven by an agent of Blocking Central) pulls right out in front of you. You have to slow down because he sure... isn't... going very fast. In fact, he's going pretty damn slow for a state highway.

—"Now, have our vehicle maintain a speed of no more than 43 miles an hour. I repeat, no more than 43 miles an hour. This is critical, we must slow the motorist down. And under no circumstances permit the motorist to pass!"

Damn! Why is that car ahead of you moving so slow?! It's doing just barely over forty! On an open highway, yet. And there's no way to get past that idiot. But wait... coming up is a passing zone...

—"All right, dispatch another vehicle up ahead, in oncoming traffic. We need a vehicle in oncoming traffic to prevent the motorist from passing in the upcoming passing zone. Yes, the computer will handle the timing on that one..."

At Blocking Central, a giant retro-60s mainframe computer with blinking lights and whirling tape reels calculates the precise timing. A roadmap projected on a large wall screen displays your location on the highway. Sure enough, just as you round the curve and sight the passing zone, you notice an oncoming car in the distance. Just at the wrong moment so that you won't be able to pass!

—"Motorist is now approaching a town, speed limit of 25. Have another vehicle ready to dispatch in front of him. Yes, at the corner of Elm Street. Good."

As you come up on the small town, the Blocking Central car ahead of you slows down, from 43 to 40. Yes, this is one of the weaknesses of Blocking Central drivers that I've never quite understood: if they dawdle along at 43 mph on a highway where the speed limit is 55, when they come to a town they'll only just barely slow down, and they'll go barreling right through a 25 mph residential area at about 40 miles an hour. "Slowgan on the highway is a speedster in town."

So the gap widens between you and the car ahead of you. But no problem, Blocking Central has another car ready to pull out in front of you, and this one is driven by a little old blue haired lady who drives all of 12 miles an hour, slowing down to less than 10 in reaction to any traffic, real or imagined. At the only stop light in town, she signals to make a left turn, and then when the light turns green, she inexplicably sits and waits ("Come on, lady, make the turn, already!!") until the light turns yellow again. Then slowly she turns, leaving you to wait through a second red light.

Now you're almost out of town, but Blocking Central isn't out of tricks yet.

"Okay, we need to position a stationary vehicle on the roadway, before the edge of town. Yes, a stationary vehicle, with an attendant pedestrian in conversation."

What's this?! A pickup truck, just sitting there on the road ahead of you. Oh, okay, the driver's talking out the window with some guy who's standing there. But why doesn't he move? Can't he see he's holding up traffic?

(Holding up traffic? But dear reader, that's precisely the point of Blocking Central...)

Finally the pickup tools off down the road. Right at the edge of town, another car almost turns out ahead of you, but you're already accelerating back up to highway speed, and you manage to slip by before he can pull out in front and block you.

"Status report! Our vehicle at the edge of town failed to intercept the motorist! Have backup vehicles ready at the intersection with South 298th Street. He will be there in less than a minute. He must not elude us again!"

In the distance, you see a procession of four cars turning onto the highway ahead of you. You soon close the gap. Now you're sunk: This knot of cars isn't going a bit over 50. No way you're going to get past them.

At Blocking Central, the commander speaks in clipped, authoritative tones into his phone:

"Very good. The motorist will now have no opportunity to get past our vehicles, anywhere this side of Cedar Falls. There is one extended passing zone on a straightaway, 23.6 miles ahead: if necessary to prevent him from passing, you may speed up to 60 or even 65 when you come to that stretch. But otherwise you are not to exceed 50 miles per hour. Blocking Central, out."

In recent years I've noticed that Blocking Central is diversifying its activities. It now also provides tailgaters to hang on your rear bumper for miles on end, even when you're doing 70. And I've also noticed agents of Blocking Central in the supermarket, spending a full ten minutes comparing packages of hamburger and blocking the meat department, or positioning a shopping cart sideways across the aisle like a roadblock.

Whilst out on the road, another car pulls out at the worst possible moment, and boxes you in. Thousands of vehicles at the ready. A vast computerized surveillance and tracking system. No, you cannot escape the insidious reach of Blocking Central...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Jeep Cherokee

jeep cherokee
Well, I got a new vehicle. A 1992 Jeep Cherokee Laredo, 4x4, 4.0 liter inline-6 engine, colored metallic grey.

Bought it off a friend, who's worked on it in his own shop and kept it in very good shape. It runs like a top. And with winter approaching (I'm taking bets on first snowfall two months from today) said Jeep Cherokee will get me around very nicely on the steep, twisting, winding gravel roads which are the chief avenues of transport out here in the Iowa countryside. Up and down and round amidst hollow and bluff.

As for the Aquamobile, it was put out to pasture, hauled away on a flatbed tow truck by Mr. Auto Salvage Man. The SUV is dead, long live the SUV!

And from now on, you will know me on the back roads of northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota by my Jeep Cherokee.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Day without the Internet

Well. I had no Internet access yesterday. Nada. I needed to get online, I was waiting on work-related e-mails from certain people, but no dice.

Actually, Tuesday the Internet kept going down for several minutes at a time. Then some time late Tuesday evening it went dead, and it was still down Wednesday morning, and on through mid Wednesday afternoon.

I wish I could say this is a rare occurrence around here, but I'm afraid it's not. Like, this is the third or fourth outage of this magnitude in the past six weeks; to say nothing of all the briefer burps and glitches. Unfortunately, our small local "Mom & Pop" ISP is the only game in town. Such are the hazards of living far out into the countryside, remote from any urban areas, cities, or even large towns.

And you know, in this day and age, us regular Internet users start getting twitchy when we're deprived of our fix? Sort of like a smoker who's run out of cigarettes.


Storm came through here late Tuesday afternoon. The storm was heralded by strong winds which came tearing through for a couple of minutes in advance of the rain. I'd bet those winds were 60 miles an hour. Afterwards I discovered that one of the pine trees out behind the church, between the church and the cemetery, had been blown over. Or rather, the top half of a 40-foot pine had been snapped right off.

There it was, lying on the ground.

I hear other folks around here had trees blown down, too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Aquamobile Is Failing

For the past five and a half years I've been driving the Aquamobile: a 1991 Chevy S-10 Blazer, 4x4, 2 door, 4.3 liter V6 engine. She's called the Aquamobile because she's painted public swimming pool aqua. Excellent vehicle, dependable, runs like a top.

I live on a gravel road far out into the countryside, five or six miles from the nearest state highway. Moreover, this corner of Iowa is filled with hills and bluffs and deep valleys— it is anything but flat. In my line of work, I have to do much of my driving on these winding and often steep gravel roads. I have received emergency calls in the middle of the night: I have to be ready to go, no matter what the weather, no matter what the roads are like.

The Aquamobile has stood me in good stead these past several years. But now I learn that the transmission is about to go. I've had the transmission replaced in a couple of vehicles I've owned over the years. But I'm afraid that taking everything into account, and with the odometer about to hit 200,000 miles, it just isn't worth it.

Not to worry, though. I've got the situation well in hand. More news on the vehicle front soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Barrister Enclave

Once several years ago I had this dream, as is recorded in my Book of Dreams:

Last night I had a dream that some of us were in Belgium, travelling around, and we were up in the Flemish-speaking part, in the north, and next we were going to visit the Belgian city of Flève, right where the Belgian border joins the Netherlands and the sea, and which is a sea of linguistic oddity, as they speak there French, an archaic dialect, fourteenth-century Law French, since this city on the coast was ruled for centuries by England, and Englishmen in legal barrister wigs.


Friday, September 09, 2005


Okay, there you go. This is my nightstand, next to my bed. And now you know beyond a shadow of a doubt: I am a funky sixties radical hippie Jesus freak. :-)


Thursday, September 08, 2005

"We Will Bury You!"

I remember, when I was a very young child, seeing President Eisenhower on TV. I also remember seeing Premier Khrushchev on TV. At first I was confused: they were both bald men in suits. Then I began to understand the difference. Eisenhower was sort of like Superman or Batman: if you were in trouble, he would send the Army to help you. Whereas Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table and said, "We will bury you!"

Not a bad understanding of world politics, for a preschooler.

There was a TV commercial on in those days which scared the willies out of me. It showed a young child sleeping in a crib. Then a voice declaimed, "We will bury you!", and a hand reached in with a rubber stamp from off screen, and stamped a hammer and sickle on the headboard of the crib.

At that age, I thought that this commercial was produced by the Soviet government itself, which was buying time on American TV stations to advertise to us their intentions of world conquest. I also thought that some day when I was taking a nap, Khrushchev was going to come to our house and rubber-stamp a hammer and sickle on the headboard of my bed.

Nobody in those days would have imagined in their wildest dreams that, in little more than 30 years, the Soviet Union would fold up and go out of business.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Another Meat Recipe

I was writing the other day about a beef stew recipe that I've used for years.

I've also been experimenting again lately with another old recipe of mine which dates way back to when I was living under the poverty of student life. This made for a welcome break from a diet of rice, potatoes, dried beans, and oatmeal— on those occasions when I was able to afford meat.

I would heat up my cast iron frying pan on medium heat or half a notch higher. Meanwhile, peel and chop some vegetables— onions and green bell peppers are the vital ingredients, in my latest round of experimentation I've also been adding zucchini. Once the pan is heated up, crumble up some hamburger and put it in. Add the chopped vegetables. Stir until the hamburger is well browned. Drain off the grease. Set pan back on an unheated burner, add some tomato sauce, and stir. Remove results from pan, and clean pan as soon as you can cool it off (I have some vague idea that cast iron frying pans aren't fond of tomatoey stuff).

Resulting mess of meat, vegetables, and tomato sauce can be poured over spaghetti, or eaten as is. Goes great with a bottle of Leinenkugel's.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Penguin Flash Game

The point of this flash game is to see how far the abominable snowman can hit a diving penguin with a bat. I can hit the penguin over 300 feet!

Monday, September 05, 2005

The 27th Letter of the Alphabet

W X Y Z Key
When I was in first grade, my friend Kelly and I made up a new letter of the alphabet. It was called "key," and it came at the end of the alphabet, after Z. The letter "key" was silent, it had no sound of its own. It was supposed to come at the end of certain words, though the only example I can think of is that I made up a bunch of planets out beyond Pluto, and some of these planets had the letter "key" at the end of their names.

It was 1962. Planets beyond Pluto were not popular: back then science fiction was still a small, grubby, unpopular genre, sort of like detective novels or true crime stories, only moreso. A 27th letter of the alphabet was not popular: creativity and imagination were for grubby beatniks and other dangerous outlaws, not for first-graders (though I already had long hair back then, even before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan).

But it was too late. It was around age six that my "radioactive core meltdown of the imagination" began, I think initially as a psychological defense against an unhappy grade school existence. I was already making up my own superheroes, like the Scarlet Streak, and drawing regular monthly comic books about them. I was drawing intricate diagrams of underground tunnels filled with dangerous spikes, traps, and pools of acid, like a precognition of the perils of Indiana Jones. I was designing my own fire departments, with fleets of red, yellow, and even blue fire trucks. I was designing my own space ships.

Soon (age nine) I would be making up my own imaginary continent of countries, with their own history and customs, and even their own board games. Soon (age thirteen) I would be creating an entire intricate language of my own. Soon (high school) I would be writings piles of science fiction stories about my own future history, as intricate as Robert Heinlein's future history, with the colonization of the Alpha Centauri system, and the 3000 year interstellar war between the Clitonians and the Wolfites, and the Coming of the Darkness, and Simon Athelstan, Emperor of the Seven Stars and Lord of the Princes of the Vanmoor.

Back in those days, people just didn't use their imagination like this. It was unheard of. It was downright radioactive. If word of this 27th letter of the alphabet had reached Washington, I can just imagine the man at the desk of the nameless security agency (so top secret that nobody's ever even heard of it) dispatching a ninja SWAT team to hunt me down. But the Scarlet Streak comes smashing right through the brick wall! Bullets just bounce right off him!! The skies darken with fleets of spaceships, the friendly aliens from Saturn come to the rescue!!!

The letter "key," 27th letter of the alphabet! My "radioactive core meltdown of the imagination" had begun; and in truth it's never really let up, to this day.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 02, 2005

United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans

Well. I'm sitting here catching up on the situation down in New Orleans, which simply goes beyond me. On the WWL 870 AM website I discovered a "listen live" link, and am presently listening over the Internet to something called United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans. Live local coverage.

Click on the link, or copy the URL into Windows Media Player. Or if you want to be a geek like me, play it in MPlayer from the command line, as above.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Beef Stew Recipe

I was visiting someone yesterday and they gave me some fresh vegetables from their garden. Picked up a few other ingredients at the supermarket, and decided this morning to fix my usual beef stew:
  • one half to two thirds of a small head of cabbage, chopped

  • two small yellow onions (or one large onion), peeled and chopped

  • one large tomato, stem removed, chopped

  • one potato, peeled and chopped

  • some carrots, chopped

  • one pound of beef for stew
Put everything in a crockpot. Pour in water until ingredients are covered. Add one spoonful of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stew in crockpot all morning, will be ready for lunch. What's left over can be put in the freezer, though this stew is best when eaten fresh.