The Kindness of Strangers…..

And how a Saboteur saved my Husband’s life


We’ve just come back from a month’s holiday zig-zagging across America to see as many of my relatives as possible, and it was a time wrapped in beauty, new vision and a lot of love. Throughout all the travelling and flight changes and bewildered wandering through airports, we had a great deal of help from strangers – giving directions, carrying our too-heavy luggage, offering places to sit, and just being great people We never knew their names and we will probably never see them again, but they sweetened our journey considerably.

We also heard much of the work of common citizens doing their best to help the dis-possessed, endangering their own reputations to bring support to those in trouble. We heard of those leaving water and food in No Man’s Land in the South, the conductor standing up for the innocent Hispanic-looking couple whisked off the train and arrested near the Canadian border in the North, the actor offering workshops to raise money for those needing legal aid in the West, the singer performing self-composed songs of welcome to any newcomers who might feel rejected. . These stories encouraged me to understand that there is still a conscience for good, for justice, and liberty for all in a troubled country.

May their courage be strengthened in this time of dangerous suppression.  The kindness of strangers.

And it reminded me again of a family story from World War II when my husband was a little baby, and an incendiary device landed on their house in Sheffield, Yorkshire. These were designed to drop quietly, and ignite at touchdown, bursting into a raging fire that could consume wooden buildings and others made of combustible material. Such devices were commonly used in Warsaw, Dresden, London, and other places, usually coupled with more explosive devices to kill rescuers and firefighters who came to the civilians’ aid.

But this device did not ignite. Some saboteur had emptied out the incendiary filling and taped the access points to turn it into an innocent tube with tail fins. John’s Dad used the end bit as a mold for lead fishing weights.

We will never know who those saboteurs were, and what happened to them.  November is the month of Remembrance. High on my list of thanks will be those people in World War II, who saved the family of the man I married years later. And special thanks, too, to all those whose acts of kindness still work for justice and hospitality today.

Pizza with Meat Crust

I’ve been thinking about carbs, and how some of you may want to entertain carb-free guests. Here’s a recipe that can be adapted for such an occasion. It originally came from a 1973 Gourmet magazine, but over the years (decades even!) I’ve twiddled and added to it. Sometimes it makes a lot of juice, which is delicious. I normally pour it on top of the pizza when serving it.

In a food processor combine 420 gms (1 lb) ground (minced) beef, turkey, chicken, or a combination, an egg – optional, and 4 – 5 tablespoons bread crumbs or ground almonds, a chopped onion, a garlic clove, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and ½ teaspoon fennel seeds. Mix well, ensuring that all is finely ground and well- integrated. If mixture is stiff add a little stock of your choice or tomato juice.

This is your crust. Press the mixture into a 9 inch pie pan (I sometimes use a cast iron frying pan) to form a shell. Bake in a pre-heated moderate oven (375 degrees) for 15 minutes. If using fatty meat, pour off any fat that has accumulated.

Place in the shell fried sliced mushrooms, and/or drained cottage cheese, and sprinkle with dried basil, parsley, and oregano, and ½ teaspoon crushed dried red pepper. On top of the filling, spread drained chopped tomatoes. Layer sliced mozzarella cheese on top, and other cheeses of choice, then top with grated parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 more minutes, and serve it in wedges.

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