Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day, Pensions, Latest Reading

Guillotine Today is le quatorze Juillet, Bastille Day, France’s national holiday and the anniversary of when the revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison in France. I wasn’t very good at history, but it is a date that has always stuck in my mind, probably because it is a special day in France, plus I always found the French Revolution fascinating. At the time of learning about it, I was pretty good on the subject. The picture of old women knitting (les tricoteuses) whilst watching the aristocrats being sent to the guillotine is one that has stayed with me throughout my life. Joséphine de Beauharnais, who later became the Empress Joséphine, was destined to ride a tumbril (virtually a small farm cart) to the guillotine but charmed her way into the arms of an important revolutionary and was saved from that fate. Because of the same name, I used to read a lot about her and loved being able to visit Malmaison where she lived and which is still as it was (unlike many French palaces which were ransacked). So to my friends in France, Happy 14th.

Isn’t it amazing, governments waste millions, sometimes billions, on all kinds of investments, ventures and outright stupidities not to mention a few cons and bribes. They can invest fortunes in failing companies and destitute countries, but when, after two years, they find they have mistakenly paid a couple of pensioners $72 apiece too much for the whole year a couple of years ago, they have to get it back by deducting it from an upcoming pension cheque making said pensioners short for that month. You would think they could perhaps recoup it by installments, but no, it has to be paid off immediately. If it is going to cause hardship one has to go to another government department who would take another 12 months to agree or disagree with said hardship anyway. Why is it pensioners are treated so badly I wonder, not just us, but others too. Certainly in New York State pensioners received cut backs because the New York government couldn’t balance its books. By the way, the pensions received by elected members of parliament are more per year than a majority of us earn when working full time. When you are working, $144 probably doesn’t seem like much, but it can hurt, I assure you.

I have been reading The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts. Unfortunately I gave up on it about 3/4 of the way through, I found it too heavy going and I couldn’t get sufficiently involved in the story of the two princes. Subsequently I picked up The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills (aka Karen Miller) and I am re-reading it with pleasure. I then have Wizards Inc. to read which is the sequel, and which I have been waiting for a long time..

Because his wife was moaning and groaning yesterday, Matt found a new recipe for cooking chicken breast in one of our Cooking Light books. It was quite simple and pretty good. We didn’t have any oranges left unfortunately, I think that would have given a fillip to the whole dish.

Chicken Breast Dijon

Cooking Light 1996

For a super quick supper, serve this entrèe with steamed Sugar Snap peas (the frozen kind) instant brown rice and orange wedges.

1/3 Cup fine dry breadcrumbsChicken Breast Dijon

1 Tbs Parmesan cheese

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

4 (4 oz.) skinned, boneless chicken breast halves

2 Tbs Dijon mustard

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp reduced calorie Margarine

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Brush both sides of each chicken breast with mustard; dredge in breadcrumb mixture.

Heat olive oil and margarine in a nonstick skillet over med.-high heat until margarine melts. Add chicken breast and sauté 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until chicken is done.

4 servings (192 calories per serving)

Have a great day


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