Friday night supper

Suzanne’s very permissive August Break meme invites participants to post when, what, and how they want. Photos only is the suggested mode but, for me, that is actually more challenging than a written post. As long as I’ve been blogging and as enthusiastic as I am about photography, I have yet to master the photo (or more)-a-day ideal embraced by many other bloggers. So, today’s photo-less post addresses a favorite theme…comfort food.

The phrase “comfort food” usually refers to the sensations enjoyed by those who consume a favored dish, but today I am writing from the cook’s perspective.  For me, “comfort food” involves sufficient familiarity with a recipe that I am comfortable adding, deleting, and substituting ingredients at will. Such is the case with tonight’s dinner.

We’ve been enjoying Chuck Wagon Mac since the early 1970s when it was first offered at supper with some long-time friends. Since then, we’ve experimented with the recipe by adding and subtracting ingredients to suit current tastes. The original recipe, along with suggested modifications, is provided below. A small side salad is all you will need to make this a good, satisfying meal. Try it—I bet you and yours will like it.

Chuck Wagon Mac

  • 1 pkg macaroni and cheese dinner (I use Kraft’s 7.25 oz box prepared according to package directions; the recipe calls for 4 Tbsp of butter or margarine and ¼ cup milk. For tonight’s version, I used 2 Tbsp of butter and substituted sour cream for the milk)
  • 1 lb ground beef  (or turkey; you can get by with less)
  • 2 Tbsp dry onion flakes (or approx. ½ cup fresh chopped onion)
  • ¼ cup chopped green peppers (these days, we use sweet yellow or red peppers)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 can (approx. 1 cup) corn (frozen peas are a good substitute; we also plus up the veggies with sliced black olives)
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare macaroni dinner as directed on package label. Brown hamburger in skillet. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in macaroni dinner. Pour mixture into a 2-quart casserole (or divide into smaller dishes to suit). Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes.

Following Brenda’s lead (at How to Feather an Empty Nest), I am turning off comments during August. Thank you for stopping by—I hope this month’s posts will provide some combination of insight and inspiration. I’ll be back, fully operational, in September…

I didn’t do much, but

I made history button



…I did make a bit of history at the same time as I transcribed a bit of genealogical history. The adjacent badge confirms it!

I, along with 66,510 other genealogy enthusiasts, participated in a 24-hour effort (Sunday into Monday, U.S. time) to index vital details from images of documents such as birth certificates, censuses, and obituaries.  The goal—well surpassed—was 50,000 indexers and arbitrators. Even more remarkable—some 5.7 million records were indexed during the event! I couldn’t participate Sunday evening because of server overloads, but I was able to submit a batch early Monday morning. Once that was done, I was happy to back off and let others attempt server access and batch submission on the way to meeting the 50,000-participant goal.

Before and during the event, I indexed several batches of 1960s-era birth records from the Philippines—one thing I noticed was that almost every child’s middle name was his or her mother’s maiden name. That is, first of all, very different from familiar-to-me U.S. naming conventions, but it is HUGE from a genealogical perspective because those babies’ descendants will be able to rule out all other maiden name possibilities as they research their family’s roots.

I also indexed a set of fairly recent obituary notices. It was interesting to see how newspapers treat the surnames of the deceased’s descendants. For example, they rarely list the maiden name of the daughters of the deceased, and when the spouses of either male or female descendants of the deceased are listed, it is usually without surname.

For obituaries, it was recommended that we proceed line-by-line through the newspaper notice, adding each person to the online database as accurately and completely as possible but, at the same time, avoiding assumptions about surnames, relationships, etc. The longest obituary I transcribed resulted in one record for the deceased and 11 more for the spouse, the couple’s children and their spouses, and other named relatives and non-relatives. Having indexed that record, I offer a high-five (and sincere thanks) to the indexer who might someday tackle either of my parent’s obituary notices: with ten children, their spouses and children, and miscellaneous others, they will try the patience of the most enthusiastic indexer!

Paying it forward

WWINDEX_Poster2Have you ever searched for information about an ancestor? Did you find what you were looking for? Were you, as a result, able to answer a nagging question about your family’s history?

Do you have an hour or two to spare beginning later this weekend?

If so, you may want to “pay forward” your experience by participating in the Worldwide Indexing Event, hosted by The goal of the event is to get 50,000 indexers and arbitrators to submit at least one batch during a 24-hour period. The participation period begins Sunday, July 20th at 00:00 coordinated universal time (UTC) and continues until 23:59 UTC on Monday, July 21st. My start time (U.S. Eastern Daylight time) is 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 20th. Start times for other time zones are available on the Facebook event page.

Indexing is the process of entering information from images of vital records (birth, death, marriage), government documents (censuses, draft registration cards), newspaper reports (obituaries), etc., into an online database. Once indexed, the search terms and the underlying documents become available to people searching for information about their ancestors.

Participation is fairly simple. You will have to download and install the indexing program and either register for a new account or sign in with an existing FamilySearch or LDS account. Details, introductory videos, a “test drive,” and other information is available here.

I wanted to try it out beforehand, so I signed up early Thursday evening and was soon fully engaged in entering names and dates for 1960s era birth records from the Philippines. It takes patience and attention to detail, especially for sometimes difficult-to-read handwritten records, but it is also interesting to see how Filipino naming conventions differ from what I’m used to in the U.S. The biggest payoff, of course, is knowing that someone, somewhere might be able to learn something more about a family member because the details of a birth certificate are now searchable. I have since indexed four 15 record batches. Data entry and a pre-submission quality check took about an hour per batch.

I’ll be there! Will you join me?


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