Wednesday, June 18, 2008

6/18/08 "Romancing the Rose"

6/18/08 Chatterbox Betty Kaiser Has June gloom got you down? Then read on. Today’s trio of stories include a romantic couple dancing in the moonlight, the fragrant Portland Rose Festival and a lovely June bride to brighten your day. Ron and Linda Palmer’s son Matt and daughter Kirsten play major parts in these events, We begin with the popular Portland festival as a backdrop and end with a Virginia countryside wedding. The Portland Rose Festival Foundation announced “Romancing the Rose” as the winner of its much anticipated poster contest on April 25. Matt Palmer and his wife Trae‘s image adorned the winning entry. A beautiful oil painting of them by Trae’s uncle Ted Chilless (noted portrait artist and retired architect) was the contest winner and they waltzed into history for the year 2008. The poster scene displays a romantic couple (the Palmers) that has been dancing all night. In the daybreak scene, the sun is beginning to rise over Mt. Hood, illuminating the buildings of downtown Portland. Palmer and his wife are gazing lovingly at each other and holding a beautiful rose in their clasped hands. Those who know Matt say that it depicts his profile perfectly. Matt is a 1989 graduate of Cottage Grove High School where he was class president in both his junior and senior year. An outstanding athlete, he was an All-state performer in track and field; and he also made the winning touchdowns his senior year when CGHS beat both Churchill and Sheldon High Schools. He was Cottage Grove’s Junior First Citizen in 1989 and went on to graduate from the University of Oregon in 1994. Matt and Trae were married in 2002 and now live in Portland where he is an insurance broker and she an insurance executive. They have an adorable three-year old daughter Camillia who someday will admire her parents — on poster board — as they gracefully danced their way into hearts all across the City of Roses. Now, here’s a little FYI for you in case you’ve never been to the Rose Festival: put it on your calendar for next year. Everything is grand about this event. There is a grand floral parade; a grand floral run; a grand floral walk; grand food and a colorful Dragon Boat Race at Tom McCall Riverfront Park. There are bagpipes, clowns, dancing girls, horses, marching bands and drum majorettes. Bigfoot even made an appearance this year on the Oregon Realtors Float. And yes, there are also roses. This year, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Susie Norby got into the romantic spirit of the event by conducting a contest and choosing three couples to be publicly remarried on a float during the parade. Each couple’s had a romantic or sentimental connection with the festival. In 2007 the Rose Festival was named the best event in the world, winning the highly coveted Grand Pinnacle Award. It also garnered kudos as the second largest all-floral parade and best overall parade in the U.S. This year an estimated two million people attended dozens of events during the festival, generating about $80 million dollars! Pretty impressive. As this event ended on the west coast, another was about to begin on the east coast. There, a long-standing courtship was about to culminate in marriage. Matt’s sister, Maj. Kirsten Palmer, United States Air Force and her fiancĂ© Capt. Roger Lang were counting down the days to their wedding on (appropriately enough) — Flag Day, June 14. Kirsten, like her brother, was student body president her senior year at Cottage Grove High School. At Lincoln Middle School, after studying the solar system, she first got the bug to become an astronaut. But first she would have to be admitted into the U.S. Air Force Military Academy and become a pilot. The academy’s rigorous admission standards dictated that she perform multiple community service projects and do well academically and athletically. She rose to the challenge in all three areas. Well, her community service record was stellar, including four years as a counselor at the outdoor school and as a page for Sen. Bob Packwood; her grades were good; and athletically, she excelled in volleyball and track. In 1991, three weeks after graduation from high school, Kirsten was on her way to the U.S. Air Force Academy; a great education; a new way of life and a lifetime career. As a cadet she received free tuition, room and board and a monthly allotment. The Air Force has been her home ever since. Along the way she decided against becoming a pilot and received a Bachelor of Science in Management degree. She found this field challenging and has been stationed at Arizona, Germany and So. Carolina . Currently she is at the Pentagon. The couple-to-be met when they were both assigned to the 75th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. He has been a pilot for 9 years, flying everything from the C-9 medevac aircraft to the C-20 (Gulfstream 3) and C-37 (Gulfstream 5) aircraft. He is now at Andrews Air Force Base where he transports our nation’s senior leadership around the world. Last week, family and friends happily traveled to Virginia and the Historic Long Branch for the ceremony. This breathtaking 1811 manor house sits at the foot of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. The manor’s decor includes a long winding staircase, 18th and 19th century furnishings and an outdoor terrace. The grounds are graced by acres of gardens with 400 acres are devoted to care of horses. At the time of this writing, in the beautiful setting above, Kirsten and Roger have said their “I do’s” and are looking forward to a future of shared joys. Congratulations and best wishes to them and the entire family. May all your tomorrows be coming up roses! Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dad's Day Dinner

6/11/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

This Sunday is Father’s Day and many dads will be requesting their favorite dishes to be served. On Mother’s Day the family often goes out to eat but on Father’s Day we stay home. Who better to cook the meal than the one who knows dad best?

My husband was a picky eater when we married 49 years ago. In fact, our first fight was about food. One night he came home from work and wolfed down a delicious beef, cheese, noodle casserole that I had prepared. “Wow,” he said, that was great. What’s in it?”

I distinctly remember gulping and planning my plot of escape. This casserole was chock full of cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream. Except for American cheese, his family adamantly did not like any other cheese products! Sure enough, he was pretty angry that I had tricked him into eating foods that he didn’t like.

Well, he got over it and wily female that I am, I have gastronomically surprised him more than once in our years together. Today, the noodle, meat and cheese recipe is an often requested family favorite. I became very successful at introducing new foods into his diet but sometimes I went too far.

Liver and onions was one of my huge failures. My family loved liver and onions with bacon. And I was sure that if he just tried it that he would love it too. Wrong! After all these years if I eat liver, I eat it alone or with our daughter. He won’t touch it.

Chuck’s Father’s Day dessert request is always the same: cheesecake. Honestly, the man never has met a cheesecake that he didn’t crave a bite of. I, on the other hand, am not particularly fond of it. Except for an Italian cheesecake with a ricotta filling by our Italian friend Ralph Anderson, I’d probably never eat one at all.

Chuck helped Ralph set up ”Marianne’s,” Ralph’s first restaurant in Ventura, CA. He would come home and regale me with tales and secrets of homemade Italian sausage or potato gnocchi (a kind of potato pasta dumpling). But he was especially enamored of the vanilla bean scented ricotta cheesecake and ricotta-filled cannolis.

This year’s Father’s Day dinner will feature a similar Italian Cheesecake and another old favorite, a beef brisket that I’ve been making for nearly 40 years. The brisket recipe is fabulous and oh, so easy. The leftovers (if there are any) make great sandwiches and the barbecue sauce is equally good on other meats.

Barbecue Beef Brisket

6-pound beef brisket
3 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
¼-cup Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste

Place brisket in a large glass bowl or baking pan. Sprinkle brisket with liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion and celery salt. Cover with plastic wrap and then foil; place in refrigerator and allow to stand overnight.

The next day sprinkle meat with Worcestershire sauce and pepper; place in baking pan or slow cooker. Cover with foil (or lid) and bake 5 hours at 275-degrees F. Uncover and bake 1-hour longer with barbecue sauce (recipe follows).

Brisket Barbecue Sauce

1 cup catsup or tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
1 onion, finely minced
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup margarine

Combine ingredients in saucepan and simmer 15 minutes.

Italian-style Ricotta Cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup finely ground almonds
½ cup melted butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Ricotta Filling

3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
2 8-ounce packages Neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese) softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 (15-ounce) container low fat or whole milk ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup melted and cooled butter
2 cups sour cream (not low fat)

To assemble crust:
Heat oven to 350-degrees F.
Mix together all ingredients in bowl. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9X2-inch springform pan. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Prick with fork if it bubbles up. Cool.

To assemble filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees F.
Pour hot water about 1-inch deep in a pan larger than the springform baking pan and place in oven.

Using an electric mixer beat the softened cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Beat in the ricotta cheese until smooth. Then, beat in eggs, one at a time.

Beat in the lemon juice; lemon zest; inside scrapings of vanilla bean; vanilla extract; melted and cooled butter; and sour cream. Finally, combine the cornstarch and flour; lightly mix them with other ingredients.

Pour batter into pre-baked crust. Place the springform pan in the larger pan in the oven. Bake the cheesecake 1 hour or until barely set in the center. Turn off the oven, leaving the cheesecake inside for 1 hour longer. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Refrigerate before removing from pan. Delicious topped with fresh berries, homemade strawberry freezer jam or canned cherry pie filling.
Serves 12.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. Contact her at 942-1317 or email

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Like father, like son

Jun 4th, 2008 BETTY KAISER "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder, Climbing high into the sun; Here they come zooming to meet our thunder, At 'em boys, give 'er the gun!" This partial refrain from the U.S. Air Force's stirring anthem seems a fitting introduction for today's Father's Day column the careers of local resident and retired Chief Master Sgt. Henry W. Habenick and his son, newly retired Master Sgt. W. Eric Habenick. This father-son duo shares not only a family bond but a deep love of country and dedicated service in the U.S. Air Force. Initially, dad's enlistment came from necessity; his son's from the lure of flight . Both entered as young, raw recruits and ended up at the top of their game. Henry (aka Hank) did not plan on going into the military. He had plans for college when he graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1959. Those plans changed when his father informed him that he would be expected to start paying rent. Young, jobless and with no particular skills, Hank considered his options. On July 5, 1959 he met a military recruiter and signed up for the Air Force. It was his first job, and the sky was the limit. After completing basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, he was trained as a flight engineer and assigned to Osan, Korea. Later, in England, as the cold war began heating up, he was involuntarily assigned to a top-secret , classified project and returned to the U.S. This new cross training on the Minuteman ICBM program changed the course of his life and defined the rest of his career . While training on the Minuteman in Illinois, he met and courted his future wife, Kay. They were married after he was assigned to Vandenberg Air Force Base. They have two children: Kristen and Eric. Although far from her family, Kay says that it was easy to adjust to military life. Her father was a schoolteacher who liked to move around. Her mother's motto was "Wherever I hang my hat it's home." This attitude set an example for Kay and Hank's new life together. They were off and climbing. "I was used to living on very little," Kay adds. "It was super easy to adjust to military life and income. We shopped at the commissary, had a housing allowance and bought a trailer to live in. The military was good to us. We'd do it again." Thanks to the Air Force and his own hard work, Hank received his desired college diploma in 1974, fifteen years after enlistment. He received numerous awards, including the prestigious Gen. Thomas S. Power Strategic Air Command Maintenance Man of the Year award in 1976. He was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant for his contribution to the SAC's intercontinental mission. Hank retired from active duty in 1982 and worked another 17 years for TRW Inc. In all, he served the nation's ICBM force for nearly 40 years. As a current board member of the Air Force Missileers, he proclaims himself "one of the few dinosaurs left!" As Hank's career was ending, son Eric's was just beginning, and his parents were not at all surprised when he chose to follow in his dad's footsteps . The wild blue yonder had been calling him for a long time. Eric had wanted to be a pilot since preschool. In fact, his parents laugh when they say he washed out of preschool because he didn't pay attention in class. Instead of coloring with the other kids, he was always looking out the window, watching the airplanes. When Hank came home from work Eric would say, "Daddy, daddy! Car, car!" He wanted to go down to the flight line where the action was. He jumpstarted his career by joining the Jr. ROTC in high school. After graduation, like his dad, he headed for the recruiting office . He was ready to fly , but there were no openings unless you were a college graduate. That's when it helps to have a friend in high places. His dad called a friend (who called a friend) and closed doors started opening. Eric enlisted in the Air Force as an Aircraft Loadmaster in 1987, graduating from basic training as an Airman First Class. During his career he garnered many awards and worked his way up the ranks. Among others he participated in exercises and operations in Panama, Kuwait, Antarctica, Somalia, Sarajevo, Kosovo and Iraq. So what does a loadmaster do? Well, in the Air Force world the pilot is the boss of the cockpit. He flies the plane. The loadmaster is in charge of the rest. The load he carries can be anything from paratroopers to a 65-ton M1 Abrams tank or a dignitary like Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan. "It is a great responsibility for a young person to be in charge of a multi-million dollar aircraft," Eric says. "One day we would fly into an Army post to pick up ammunition and airlift it to the war zone; other times we would airlift relief supplies or marines who had been in Afghanistan for 18 months"¦ The military trains to do one thing to go to war and protect U.S. interests anywhere and anytime. To be able to put all that training into action "¦gives you a great sense of accomplishment and pride. I did my best to give the public the best security possible." Eric loved his job and at 39 years of age was not ready for a medical retirement. Diabetes made it a necessity, as he was no longer considered worldwide deployable. Although he will continue to serve in a new career with the Transportation Security Administration, it will not be the same. "Retiring is bittersweet," he says. "There is something very special about flight . Watching the sun come up over Europe at 37,000 ft., or going 300 knots only 250 ft. above Afghanistan takes you to a realm very few get to experience. And to think"¦I got paid for it. Amazing!" His retirement ceremony at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, was fittingly held in the back of a C-17 pulled out for the occasion. His wife Theresa arranged a reception and slide show following the ceremony that had many reaching for a Kleenex to dab their eyes. Their children, Brit and Chelsey, also received recognition. As the reception ended, Hank shared a few remarks , and a rainbow appeared behind him as he saluted his son. A fitting blessing on this father-son duo who have served their country well in the Air Force's "wild blue yonder." Happy Father's Day to all! Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.