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RDJ-- Two Minute, 24 Hour Casserole, 10-06-12  RDJ
 Oct 06, 2012 12:34 PDT 

Volume 15      Number 189
US Library of Congress ISSN: 1530-3292

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Two Minute, 24 Hour Casserole

7 1/2 cups fat-free Italian herb pasta sauce
1 pound uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1 (8-ounce) package pre-sliced mushrooms
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir until blended.

Beat the cream cheese and sour cream with a mixer at low speed until
smooth (about 2 minutes).

Spread half of pasta mixture in bottom of a 3-quart casserole coated
with cooking spray; spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over pasta
mixture. Top with remaining pasta mixture; sprinkle the mixture with the
mozzarella cheese.

Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Bake, covered, at 350F for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10
minutes or until the cheese is browned. Makes 10 servings.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
    Calories: 370
    Calories from fat: 23%
    Fat: 9.6g
    Saturated fat: 5.5g
    Monounsaturated fat: 2.6g
    Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7g
    Protein: 14.6g
    Carbohydrate: 55.9g
    Fiber: 4.4g
    Cholesterol: 28mg
    Iron: 3.8mg
    Sodium: 602mg
    Calcium: 142mg

It takes about two minutes to prepare and spends 24 hours in fridge
where the dry pasta absorbs liquid from the pasta sauce.

(This column first appeared in 2001, but it could have been 2012. Not
much has changed since then.)

By Walter Mills

Looking for the Meaning in Mark Trail

For a few days the last couple of weeks I thought I saw Mark Trail
wandering out of the Lost Forest into the 21st century. But then he lost
his way and escaped back into the timeless world of the comic pages.

For those who don’t follow the exploits of Mark Trail in the funny
papers, he is an outdoors writer and photographer for a fictional
magazine, Woods and Wildlife. He lives in a place called the Lost Forest
with his wife Cherry, an adopted son, Rusty, and his dog, a Saint
Bernard named Andy.   

A couple of weeks ago Andy had a run-in with wild dogs in the forest as
he tried to save an abandoned kitten. Then, dazed and wounded, he
wandered into a deer trap, a kind of box with a door that locked Andy
and the kitten inside. Mark was frantic with worry.

I read Mark Trail on a very casual basis, usually when my little girl
crawls onto my lap to ask me to read her the funnies. Mark Trail was
also a favorite with her older sister. Our dog’s middle name is Mark
Trail, though we don’t often call him by his full name. That would be
too pretentious for a dog like ours.

I didn’t really bother with deeper meaning in the comic strip until just
recently. Like most of the long-running strips, the characters in Mark
Trail have never grown older, and though the world around them has
changed, Mark and Cherry are still caught in a time warp, looking out of
a 1940s sensibility into a post modernist world. In one panel of this
series we even see Cherry picking up the phone and saying “Hello,
operator, will you get me Bill Ellis… He’s the editor of Woods and
Wildlife Magazine.” In the Lost Forest they still haven’t heard of
direct dialing.

But when the owner of the magazine Mark works for threatened to fire
him, I began to sense that a collision with reality was in store. In
the pages beyond the comic strips there are continuous reports of huge
corporate layoffs, cost cutting, downsizing, restructuring, dot.com
companies that disappear without a trace. This is the new economy Mark
will face when he has to look for a job.

Because he makes the decision to remain loyal to his four-footed
companion, Mark has chosen to place his personal life ahead of his work
life. He has decided, in effect, that he will go to see his son’s school
play or his daughter’s piano recital instead of working overtime on the
project his boss has just handed him.   

Mark finds that the reality of trying to reclaim your personal life can
be harsh in the modern world. The magazine owner, who, in the real world
would be a CEO under pressure from stockholders, gives Mark an
ultimatum, “There’s no dog on earth worth the sacrifice you are making –
don’t be stupid.”

Mark, of course, can’t help himself. “I think I’ve just been fired,” he
tells Cherry. In the world outside the comics he would be handed a
cardboard box to clean out his desk and escorted to the parking lot by a
security guard.      

After over fifty years of hard work and loyalty to the company, Mark has
been given an opportunity to start at the bottom someplace else.
Fortunately, with his jet-black hair, which he probably dyes, he hardly
looks older than when he started to work. Maybe he won’t be
discriminated against because of his age. I wouldn’t count on it though;
I don’t think he has acquired any computer skills, and his resume will
look skimpy without a half dozen strategic career moves on it.

Fortunately Mark Trail doesn’t have to linger in the modern world for
too long. The magazine owner soon apologizes, welcomes him back and even
offers him a “substantial raise.” Mark is back in the Lost Forest of
yesteryear where a boss understands that a man’s dog comes ahead of the
stockholders, and operators are always standing by.

Read more of Walt's writing at his blog:

(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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