Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The link and pin coupler joins the combine car to the parlor car behind the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway. The Diamond and Caldor Railway used these basic couplers throughout its 47-year history. The dangerous devise spelled the death of at least one trainman on the common carrier line. Ultimately, the existence of the coupler, which was outlawed in the U.S. in 1893 for common carriers, caused the demise of the railroad.

Shot settings: f/5.6, 1/90 second shutter speed, 34 mm focal length, ISO 800 in manual mode.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Room with a View

The cupola to the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad's only caboose stands empty on a pleasant fall day. I'm sure the brakeman and conductor admired the fall colors along the eight-mile line between Placerville and Camino. The subdued yellow oaks with the occasional bright red tree helped the crew pass the time as the train rambled up the grade to the mill.

The gutted standard-gauge caboose sits in front of the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville.

Shot settings: f/16, 1/60 second shutter speed, 30 mm focal length, ISO 200 in aperture priority.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Karoly Cookie Tradition

The tradition of baking chocolate chip cookie really started back in 1970 (or earlier). Anne and Elizabeth baked, packaged and mailed several large batches of cookies to me and my shipmates during boot camp. And I'm certain they did the same for Michael when he left home for college.

They've continued the tradition over the years, often bringing cookies to mom and dad's house. Somewhere along the way, dad started baking the cookies.

Elizabeth and Anne have each contributed to dad's skill as a cookie baker. Elizabeth added:

A few Christmases ago I gave him the frozen scooped dough and he was very impressed with the uniformity of the cookies. So the following Birthday or Christmas we gave him a cookie scoop. He told me that he would bake them for a certain amount of time AND leave them on the cookie sheet for a certain amount of time.
An old gallon-sized pickle jar served as the cookie repository. "May I please have a cookie" secured entrance into the cookie jar for everyone (although I broke the rule on occasion!).

Dad's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've enjoyed taking food to mom and dad's house since we moved to El Dorado County in late 1993. They often served as my official tasters for a sauce or salad recipe that I was testing. My motivation was often my love for cooking and my desire to please others with food.

Although mom served as the principle cook in the family, dad ruled three departments in the kitchen -- Saturday hot cake breakfast (hot cake recipe), the Weber grill and chocolate chip cookies.

Dad enjoyed baking chocolate chip cookies -- a "duty" that he acquired in the 1990s -- because they respond well to engineering precision. As a life-long civil engineer, dad perfected all he touched.

“His methodicalness really came out when he made the cookies himself,” said my sister Anne. Elizabeth agreed: "He baked those cookies like an engineer!"

To dad there was no difference between the design of an earthen dam and baking chocolate chip cookies for the grandchildren. I think he enjoyed the process of baking as much as he loved watching the grandchildren devour them.

Cookies might not need the precise detail as an earthen dam (dad designed the Brite Lake dam for the Tehachapi Cummings Water District), but I can attest to one fact -- each time I dipped my hand into the cookie jar, I was rewarded with the perfect cookie.

I think dad's cookie baking skill improved dramatically when I shared a Sunset magazine article ("Seeking the perfect chocolate chip cookie," December 1995, Northern California edition, pages 103-4) that demystified the mystery of soft and chewy vs. hard and crunchy cookies.

The article help dad understand how subtle changes in ingredient quantities altered the final product. Seeking to troubleshoot cookies that baked into crispy disks (from too much spread), dad studied the article and improved his recipe and technique.

I could see the culinary light go off once he understood the relationship between the fat, eggs and moisture in the recipe.

He bound the moisture (from the eggs, brown sugar and any added water) into the shortening through the whipping action of the beaters. The flour helped slow the spread of the cookie to yield a slightly higher, softer center.

Dad approached the Sunset article with the same attention to detail that he used to design the Brite Lake dam. With any engineering project -- earthen dam or chocolate chip cookies -- he knew that there were certain formula-driven principles at work.

Where am I going with this? I can't say with the same preciseness that dad baked his cookies. I wrote this article on a packed bus, fighting tears and trying to hide.

I miss his cookies. Although I can bake a killer chocolate chip cookie, there was something about dipping my hand into dad's cookie jar.

Maybe it's the wisdom that came with the cookie. -- like the time I told dad pressures at work were driving me to resign (he said hang in there and work it through). Or maybe it was the after-work Bible discussions we'd have on occasion.

All I can say is "I miss you, dad."


I've transcribed dad’s recipe as he wrote it. It still hangs on the refrigerator on a magnetized clip. There's a lot of unwritten technique in this recipe. This recipe produces a softer cookie with a slight cakelike texture.

2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

1 cup Crisco-brand shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs or 1/2 cup Egg Starts

Cream Crisco, sugars and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons water as necessary. Stir in 1-1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips. Bake in 375-degree oven for 8 to 9 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Put on rack to cool further. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tomato Soup for Mom

Faith, the company of family and friends and a little soup have helped mom cope with the loss of her beloved during these past 10 days. On the day dad died, her freezer was packed with individual servings of soup. These meals helped her maintain her strength at a time when she didn't have the energy or inclination to cook.

A sister and members of mom's church started cooking meals when dad's health began to fail (about three weeks before his death). Mom's one request to these culinary angels was that they join her in the meal. Mom said it would take her a while to get used to dining alone. Company helped cope with her pending loss.

I delivered two quarts of tomato soup this afternoon. In many ways, soup is the perfect food for mom. It offers ease of preparation (thaw, microwave and eat) and gives her comfort. Mom and dad often shared a soup and salad meal in the cool of the evening.

A bowl of tomato, slip pea or vegetable soup (her favorites) helps sooth the soul while giving her much needed nutrition. Coupled with the loving company of family and friends, the soup will help mom adjust to her new life without dad.


This is a variation on the recipe that I prepared at camp last summer. As I often do, I used the opportunity to use older ingredients in the refrigerator. For a cream of tomato soup, stir in 2 cups hot milk, half-and-half or cream before serving.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
3-1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped (reserve juices)
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Heal oil or bacon fat in a 4-quart heavy sauce pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and carrot to hot oil and sauteed until slightly softened, but don't brown. Add flour and stir to form a white roux. Cook roux-vegetable mixture for 2 minutes, stirring continually.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes and reserved juice, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until reduced to the desired consistency. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and carefully blend until smooth. (Caution -- hot liquids create steam which will blow the top off the blender. Cover blender lid with towel while you hold the lid down.) Return soup to sauce pot.

Add a little sugar if necessary to temper the acidity of the tomatoes. If the soup is too thick, thin out with a little chicken broth. Season with salt and ground white pepper to taste.

Makes approximately 2 quarts, or 8 (8-ounce) servings.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cemetery of Lost Souls

These headstones -- long separated from the graves they once marked -- mark imaginary graves in the Cemetery of Lost Souls in the courtyard of the El Dorado County Historical Museum. They remind us of the frailties of life. And they remind us that men die and go to the grave.

Someone asked the apostle Paul, "How are the dead raised up?" (1 Corinthians 15:35a). Perhaps they were thinking of what can happen to the body before death. Some, after battling cancer for months, leave a body that's ravished by disease. Others are be burned with fire, dismembered in accidents or drowned and lost at sea. And they knew the body decayed in the grave.

These thoughts may have led them to ask, "And with what body do they come?" (1 Corinthians 15:35b). The Corinthians were questioning the reality of the resurrection of the dead. It seems they wandered how God would put a body back together after death had destroyed thier earthly bodies.

What kind of body will a man have in the resurrection? The answer is simple, according to Paul. He said, "But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body" (1 Corinthians 15:38).

Just as God gave each creature a body that's fitted for their habitation on earth, He is able to fit us with a body suited for a heavenly existence. The simplest answer to their question is this: we will have the same kind of body that Jesus had at His resurrection, as Paul said elsewhere:
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself" (Philipians 3:20-21).
He concludes our earthly body, which is sown in corruption (that is to say, the body is subject to decay), "cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 15:50).

No matter the condition of our body upon our death, God will raise those who believe in the death, burial and resurrection of our savor, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). God does not need our earthly body to raise us as He is able to give us heavenly bodies the resurrection.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Charles Ulrich Karoly

My father, Charles Ulrich Karoly, born in San Fransisco, California on November 27, 1925, passed on from this life at about 10:20 this morning. He served his country as a Naval Aviator from 1943 until the mid-1950s.

He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Marilyn Raff Karoly, and older brother, Bennett Traber Karoly of Carmichael, California. Charles was the was the second son of Bertha Traber Karoly (1901-1988) and Bennett Karoly (1897-1951).

Survivors include Charles and Marilyn's five children and their spouses: Steven and Deborah Karoly of Diamond Springs, Michael and Karen Karoly of Davis, Anne Karoly of New York City, Elizabeth and James Smith of San Jose and David and Bonnie Karoly of Sacramento. Charles and Marilyn had 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park on Saturday, October 27, 2007 10:30 a.m.

October 25, 2007 update: Dad's obituary is posted here in the Mountain Democrat, Placerville, California.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Quiet Walk

Two weeks ago during a visit with my father, who isn't doing well, my sister took his grandchildren and great grandchildren on a walk around Lake Oaks Lake. Since the three great grandchildren were my grandchildren, I grabbed the camera and joined in the two-mile trek.

The walk gave the children time to work off energy. And it gave my sister and I some time to reflect on the recent decline in our father's health. In the short span of several months, cancer has robbed dad of his mobility.

It was reminiscent of dozens of walks we've taken around with mom and dad. Since moving to the senior park in 1990, the walks have been an obligatory part of all family gatherings.

As always, we walked south toward the dam and up the east side of the lake. As we walked, I saw father and son fishing partners trolling for bass. It reminded me of those boyhood fishing trips to Hatch Lake in Sierra National Forest.

And toward the north end of the lake, the bright orange asters in the community garden caught my attention. Like dad, they are nearing the end of life on earth. But the vibrant flowers had a few more days to show their colors to all who walk by.

The quiet time togrther gave us time to reflect on dad's life and his contribution to each of our lives.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Grilled Hot Mexican Beef Sandwich Santa Fe

At first glance, this sandwich filling looks like mystery meat. You know, one of those chopped meat fillings that you'd expect to find between two slices of white bread in a 1950s cafeteria.

With the possible exception of tuna salad, I've never had much use for these sandwiches. I'd rather build my own sandwich with meat, red onion, dill pickle and lettuce. There's comfort in taking the mystery out of distasteful ingredients.

While searching for a grilled sandwich last week in Dining By Rail, I ran across this chopped meat sandwich. It was served in the dining cars of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

What I found was a delightful roast beef sandwich. The robust flavor of the roast beef comes through even when mixed with chopped hard cooked egg, minced chili pepper, chopped pimento and shredded Swiss cheese. And the Russian dressing gives the sandwich a nice creamy texture.

No anonymous ingredients here. The sandwich was a hit Saturday at the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway. I served it with old fashion navy bean soup and cole slaw.


This sandwich is a great way to use leftover roast beef. Santa Fe cooks toasted open faced sandwiches under a red-hot broiler. I adapted the sandwich to engine house cooking by toasting it in a cast iron skillet. I added sliced tomatoes and changed the hot chilies to fresh (from fresh, parboiled).

1 pound cooked roast beef, diced fine
4 hard cooked eggs, chopped
4 hot chilies, chopped fine
1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded

Russian dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

Soft butter
12 medium tomato slices
12 slices French or Italian bread

In a medium bowl, mix thoroughly the roast beef, eggs, chilies, pimentos, celery and Swiss cheese. For the dressing combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, chili sauce and hot pepper sauce. Fold dressing into the sandwich filling.

Spread butter on one side of each bread slice. Lay out 6 slices, buttered side down. Divide filling generously on bread slices. Top each sandwich with 2 tomato slices on and top with remaining bread, buttered side up.

Grill sandwiches in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until both sides are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serves 6.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Old Fashioned Navy Bean Soup

The crew of the El Dorado Western Railroad pulled its star attraction out of the engine house this morning for the second annual Fall Home and Harvest Show.

I used the occasion to prepare lunch for 12 volunteers of the railway and museum. In honor of our locomotive's 100th year, I selected dining car recipes from two railroad cookbooks -- Chesapeake and Ohio Dining Car Recipes, compiled by E. Stirling "Tod" Hanger, Jr. (C&O Historical Society: Clifton Forge, VA, 1995), and Dining By Rail: The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine, by James D. Porterfield (St. Martin's Griffin: New York, 1993).

The old fashion navy bean soup is composite recipe from the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. I also prepared cole slaw from the Missouri Pacific Lines and toasted hot Mexican sandwich from the Santa Fe.

The 100-year old locomotive (Diamond and Caldor No. 4) is located at the El Dorado Historical Museum. Volunteers are on hand each Saturday from 8 a.m. to about 1 p.m. to show visitors the inner workings of a geared Shay locomotive.


I use low-sodium beef broth in the recipe so I can control the amount of salt that gets added to the recipe. I'd rather add salt later than use a heavily salted beef stock or base.

You need an 8-quart stockpot or No. 10 Dutch oven for this recipe. Use a 12-inch deep camp oven if you're cooking over hot coals outdoors.

2 pounds navy beans
4 quarts low sodium beef broth
12 ounces bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced small
6 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Pick over beans, removing discolored beans and foreign matter. Wash thoroughly in cold water. Cover beans with beef broth and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour.

Saute bacon in a heavy large skillet until crisp. Drain off most of the bacon fat. Add onions and carrots and sweat under medium-low heat until soft. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes before adding bacon-vegetable mixture to the bean pot.

Bring beans to a boil, cover and simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender. If needed, thicken soup with a flour and paste. Stir in the heavy cream and parsley just before serving.

Serves 20 (1-cup) portions. When used as the main course, the recipe will only serve 12 to 16 persons. This recipe yields about 5 to 5-1/2 quarts.

Iron Kettle

The deep blue morning sky reflects off rain water in this cast iron cauldron. The kettle slowly fills each year as fall turns to winter. By January, a thin sheet of ice will float on the surface when the mercury dips below freezing.

The kettle is located in the yard of the El Dorado County Historical Museum.

Shot settings: f/5.6, 1/30 second shutter speed, 47 mm focal length, ISO 200 in aperture priority.