08 December 2008

Holiday Spirit

Chef Jeff found out the day after the election that his company was laying off 1800 people. I have heard of doctors actually quitting their practices due to the impending health care changes; they know they won't be able to provide the standard of care they would wish to while limited by government time and cost mandates.

I'm afraid that people who desire "health care for everyone" might not realize that they'll be paying for it with their taxes, and that it will mean substandard, government-"coordinated" (ahem) care for them and their families - those without care may get it, but those with health care will lose much of what they've come to expect. Physicians and health care companies already know that. Socialized medicine is an interesting idea - but "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch," and the government hasn't exactly been great at administrating "helpful" programs thus far (Google "Indian reservation").

I'm afraid I don't subscribe to a Sesame Street-ish, feel-good attitude that, if we just believe what politicians tell us, we'll live in a Utopia of free, top-quality medical care. Words are cheap... good medical treatment, and good medicines, are not. *

A few days ago, Chef Jeff found out that he would be retained - yes, we have been on eggshells this entire time, which did not make for a very joyful Thanksgiving, but did make for vastly increased wine consumption during that particular holiday. Good thing Festival Foods had a by-the-case sale.

Chef Jeff, relieved and thankful, therefore decided that this holiday was one of celebration and deserved a real tree.

Tree shopping in Eau Claire is vastly different than in Milwaukee. Here, they use the honor system:

And our huge Fraser fir tree was a bargain at $35; in Milwaukee, this would be about $100! What are trees going for in your neck of the woods? Just curious!

Chef Jeff got some new, efficient LED lights and decorated the tree perfectly.

Molly and Emma are all aglow with Yule colors as well:

I made the best ever mac and cheese the other night, and thought you might like the recipe, as it earned an "Excellent!" from Chef Jeff - something I've never received before. Just don't tell him how easy this is!

Homemade Mac and Cheese
Adapted from The Farmer's Wife Comfort Food Cookbook

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c milk
1 tsp. salt

3 c pasta
salt for cooking water
1 c. grated cheese
2 c. buttered breadcrumbs (allow 1/8 as much butter as crumbs; melt butter, add crumbs, stir until coated)

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly oil a baking dish (mine was about 10x10).

Cook pasta in salted water until just al dente. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to baking dish.

Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet; add flour and salt and stir to blend. Cook a little while on low until "floury" flavor is gone, but do not burn! Add milk a little at a time, blending, and stir until thickened (it will still be a bit runny). Turn off heat. Add grated cheese and blend.

Pour sauce over pasta and top with breadcrumbs. Don't worry if it looks "liquid-y" - the pasta will absorb the liquid as the dish bakes. Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until brown and bubbly. Major yum!

Chef Jeff is home for two weeks for re-training. He needs my computer and Internet connection for web conferences. He has already taken over my knitting room for studying.

I was going to post a pic of the new DROPS Inka seed stitch scarf I'm knitting, but I am being kicked out - no time to even make a link for you.

It's going to be a very loooooong holiday...

* I respect that you may not share my opinion. It is, however, founded on the following: the fact that I have many relatives living in two countries with socialized health care (it sucks for them); the fact that I have a dear friend who lives in a third country with socialized health care (it sucks for her); and the fact that many of our family members and friends are physicians, pharmacists, nurses, health care workers, or involved in pharmaceutical education. Therefore, I do feel justified in sharing my opinion on this subject on my personal blog.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm right there with you on socialized health care. I, too have family members who have worked in the field and know people who live in Great Britain and disparage their access to health care of any quality. Lots of bad teeth in England, too!

Nannette said...

We've had "socialized" medical care for the last 18 years (being military and all that). I have to say there were times that it was GOOD and there were times it was BAD. And times it was VERY BAD. Overall, I'm happy to have had coverage. I have known too many people who have done without. =(

I know we need *something* to change w/ the health care system, but I'm absolutely stymied as to *what*. :::sigh:::

Bonnie D. said...

Hooray for Jeff!

We just purchased our tree in Southwest Ohio, just north of Cincinnati on Saturday. It is a 6' or so Frasier Fir and we paid $45. I was pleasantly surprised.

Lael said...

While we personally have good health insurance, there are a few facts that I find interesting. The US is the only wealthy, industrialized country without nationalized health care. Infant mortality in the US is higher than in most, if not all of those countries. Our life expectancy is lower than in those countries. If the health care is so crappy elsewhere, why do fewer babies die and people live longer? And for those of you who don't want their taxes paying for the health care of others - well, we already pay for that - here in Wisconsin it is called "Badger Care". The uninsured don't have the coverage that we do, but we end up paying for their visits to the emergency room every time their child has a fever. As I said, we have coverage at the moment, but Larry works off the farm primarily for that coverage. We couldn't both afford to be full time farmers if we had to find our own medical coverage.

By the way - 7 foot Balsam, grown in Watertown, just north of us - $36 - the Frasier's are a bit more expensive.

Lael said...

I don't want anyone who reads my comment from last night to think that I don't respect Stasia and her opinions. I would "fight to the death" her right to express them. Jeff and Stasia are wonderful people who I am proud to call friends. I love their support of endangered livestock, the way they live their lives protecting the environment, supporting local artisans and business people, providing homes for unwanted pets. I used to feel the same way about nationalized health and still don't know if it is the answer, but do feel that health care should be a right in this country, not a privilege. I know one hard working couple who had to take a mortgage out on their house so that they could afford to pay for his heart surgery. I don't know if they were uninsured or underinsured - she works as a hair stylist, probably no insurance - he has always been self-employed - farming, truck farming, making halters to sell through Nasco, etc. They are too proud to ask for help and weren't quite old enough to be on Medicare at the time. Now they are retirement age, with a mortgage to pay. Most of us hope we won't have a mortgage after we start collecting Social Security.

Off my soapbox now - keep blogging Stasia - I love to read it!