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RDJ-- Easy Jambalaya, 09-22-12  RDJ
 Sep 25, 2012 06:20 PDT 

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Volume 15      Number 178
US Library of Congress ISSN: 1530-3292
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Easy Jambalaya

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole spice mix
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 3/4 cups long-grain rice
Parsley, optional

Combine chicken, sausage, onion, green pepper, celery, tomatoes, garlic,
chicken broth, spice mix, thyme and oregano in a large (5-quart) slow
cooker. Cook on low for 5 hours.

Add shrimp and rice; raise heat to high and cook for 30 minutes more.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired. Makes 8 servings.


Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
    Calories: 457
    Fat: 22g
    Saturated fat: 7g
    Protein: 43g
    Carbohydrate: 19g
    Fiber: 2g
    Cholesterol: 216mg
    Sodium: 621mg
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AT THE MIDDLE PASSAGE
By Walter Mills


Reaping the Whirlwind

On our family’s vacation trip to Columbia and Charleston, South
Carolina, two summers ago, we stopped for gas several miles below
Stauton, Virginia, on Interstate 81. After six hours on the interstate,
my wife and kids were hungry and I was both drowsy and jangled.

We had made some sandwiches for the trip, but this busy truck stop was
no place to unwind and enjoy the sweet late summer afternoon. Against
all masculine reason, I agreed when my wife suggested we drive up the
country road a little further and look for a quiet place to eat lunch.
It is a genetic truth, hard-wired into our DNA that men need to get from
point A to point B with the fewest possible diversions and restroom
stops. So dawdling went against my evolutionary desire to race against
traffic for another 300 miles.

We took the quiet two-lane road and after awhile came to a sign that
read “Wayside Rest, ¼ mile.” Nothing resembling a typical rest stop
appeared in the next couple of miles, and when I got to a crossroads I
turned and went back. As we retraced our steps, I thought I saw a picnic
table far back among the trees. We took the little farm lane off to the
right and came upon an empty parking lot and some scattered tables in a
bower of trees and grass set beside an old mill. The wheel of the mill
dipped into the stream and splashed water on the stones. We stopped and
ate our sandwiches at the picnic table under a tree by the stream, half
worried that we were trespassing on private property.

It was, in fact, the old Cyrus McCormick farm and the place where the
McCormick Reaper was invented 170 years ago. A small rustic wooden
building housed the blacksmith shop where the first machine was hand
forged by the farm boy, who was just 22 years old. Next door, the
gristmill was completely rebuilt and functional. No guides or caretakers
were visible, and only a scattering of photos and informational signs
indicated this was a place of any significance. One wall plaque informed
us that the birthplace of the McCormick Reaper is now part of a working
farm that is run by Virginia Tech as an experimental station and
educational center.

Most of us learned about the McCormick Reaper in grade school, along
with Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, and Robert Fulton and the steam
engine. These are just names of long-ago mechanics who fiddled together
a contraption that did something new, or did something old a little
better. In the case of the Reaper, at least, that is like saying that
the personal computer is just a handy tool for typing letters. Both the
McCormick Reaper and the computer have been the catalysts for some
profound and far-reaching changes.

The first Reaper did the work of five men with hand scythes, and did the
work with infinitely less sweat and blood. In one of the sepia-tinted
photographs hanging in the old mill, you can see a line of Virginia
Reapers - as they were first known - spread out across a wide plain of
wheat. At that moment you can also see modern agriculture being created.
From that time, when 90% of the population lived on farms, to today when
only 2% of the population produces our food, a social and cultural
transformation has occurred that our ancestors could never have
foreseen.

The King James Bible talks about the consequences of our decisions.
“They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” says the
prophet Hosea in an exquisite agricultural metaphor. Leaving the family
farm would change our society in drastic ways. It would mean the rise of
cities and the urbanization of the population. The young people who left
the farm would provide workers for new factories and mines. For some it
would mean freedom from the uncertainty of drought and killing frost.
But for many in the next generations the migration off the farm would
create a sense of alienation, a feeling of rootlessness.

In a time when our own lives seem yoked to the whirlwind of swift and
uncontrollable change, it is calming to turn off the superhighway and
rest by the old mill wheel in the bower of shady trees. It unjangles the
nerves to contemplate the past and to see that almost 200 years ago we
were on the brink of changes as unforeseeable as the one we are
experiencing now.

Last summer we made another trip south, stopping at the old McCormick
farm again. This time the parking lot was not empty. A workman sat in a
pickup truck eating his lunch. By the time we unloaded our picnic
basket, he had finished and driven away. Once again the magical spot was
all our own. Just the four of us resting beside the stream with the
ghost of the young Cyrus McCormick at the birthplace of modern
agriculture.   




Read more of Walt's writing at his blog:
http://americanimpressionist.wordpress.com/

(The above column originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times and is
copyright © 2012 by Walter Mills. All rights reserved worldwide. To
contact Walt, address your emails to    awmi-@verizon.net ).
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