Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Dancing with the Stars, I have to admit, is one of my guilty pleasures. Somewhere deep in the depths of me there’s a dancer struggling to emerge. On many occasions during my life this tiny dancer has attempted to extricate herself, never with any success. The first, and most notable attempt, was in ballet class at the tender age of five. Chubby for my age, the extra pounds were well-defined by the pink spandex leotard and tights my grandmother had dressed me in for the occasion. If she’d thought to top the ensemble with a tutu I could well have been picked up as an extra for Fantasia.

My partners in crime in dance class were my two best friends Katherine and Victoria. Kitty and Vicky, as they were known to their friends, were mirror image twins. Always their alikeness proved a source of confusion for my mother who invariably called one twin by the other one’s name. This was always odd to me, knowing them so well. One a tomboy and the other a princess I thought them as unalike as raspberries and bacon. The three of us were inseparable at that age. If trouble was in the air we generally got on its scent at the head of the pack. My grandmother felt that at five, being a young lady from a respectable family, I could use a little polishing when it came to the fine arts. Like many little girls I dreamed of dancing gracefully about on my toes in lovely satin shoes. Surely, looking back, as I came through the processing center to make my appearance on earth there had to be a line marked “Dancers” I missed on the way in. Meaning to stand alongside the other long-necked, pencil thin girls, oval faces perfectly framed by tightly pulled buns. Girls whose legs began at their waists and ended somewhere outside of Charleston. Instead it seems I apparently found myself beneath a sign reading “Squatty Little Girls with Lazy Eyes”. Life, even at its beginnings, is dotted with small disappointments.

Dance class was held in a large old building in downtown Halifax. In truth such a description would have aptly served to describe most of the buildings in Halifax at the time. Though modern buildings have moved in it remains historical place to live no matter when you visit.  We were led to the second floor and introduced to the instructor for our age group, Miss Leger. Miss Leger was a tall lanky being with her hair pulled back so tightly she looked as if she smiled broadly her lips would explode off her face. The room had a shiny floor, large windows to one side, a wall of mirrors, and on another wall what I was soon to learn were the barres.

Our first lesson dealt with foot positions. For me this proved a little more taxing since I hadn’t actually seen my feet since I was three. Unfortunately for me the instructor had a perfect view of them and wasn’t particularly happy about what she was seeing. After an hour of shifting our feet into the various configurations we were dismissed. Instructions to our parents were simply to practice, practice, practice.

Practice or not, grace was not woven into my chemistry at conception. In later years I was to discover my artistic side but my feet were never to perform as instructed even as they aged. Not progressing at the speed of the more gifted dancers in the class, and after one unfortunate incident with a chubby leg wedged between the barre and the wall reducing the class to pandemonium, I was excused without prejudice from dance and enrolled in piano lessons. Sigh.

I was to be taught to tickle the ivories in the house of the tickler herself. Miss Hoyt, as indicated by her name, was a maiden lady somewhat past her prime. She lived in a small house not far from ours with a very fat cat answering to Whiskers and a maiden aunt who also had never found her prince. Whiskers lay draped across the piano idly watching the metronome as my lessons commenced. For two years once a week I sat on the long bench next to Miss Hoyt, a well cushioned woman with huge bosoms nearly reaching her waist. When seated on the piano bench there was more of her body off of the bench then on. For two years I learned my scales and various musical pieces, inhaling the underlying aroma coming from her side, sort of a mix of mothballs and Brussels sprouts. At home I practiced, practiced, practiced. To this day the only song I can play with any acuity is “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. I find there isn’t much call for this at Carnegie Hall.

As we travel through our lives our talents unfold. I was to unearth a love for drawing and writing that has brought me so much. Dancing however, will be left to quiet moments in the kitchen or on the lawn with my grandchildren. Watching and appreciating the amazing dancers who did stand in the right line on the way in will have to be my vicarious enjoyment of the art. Ah well, such is life.

This chicken is so crispy and moist. Just delicious.

Crispy Baked Chicken

4 chicken leg quarters bone-in, skin on
1/2 cup soy sauce, divided
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.

Mix together dry ingredients. Set aside. Gently lift up the skin and run your hand beneath it. You want to lift it from the skin but not tear it. Divide 1/4 cup soy sauce between the four pieces pouring under the skin. Take 1/2 of the spice mix and sprinkle under the skin over the soy sauce.

Rub the other 1/2 of the seasoning mix into the outside of the legs. Sprinkle remaining soy sauce over top. Divide butter into 4 pieces and set one piece on top of each chicken section.

Bake uncovered for 1 hr. Increase heat to 400 ad continue cooking for 15 mins. Allow to rest 5 mins. before serving.

Serves 4

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Last week I sent an email to my granddaughter asking a question. When I didn’t receive an answer I called her and asked if she’d gotten it.  Exasperated the child explained she rarely checks her email account, although she reluctantly admitted she still has one. From her tone I assumed I had suddenly become as old as dirt in her estimation and obviously not where I should be to survive in this technically driven world. Is email out-of-date as well I asked? A text was suggested in the future if I needed an immediate response. Ahhhhh, the universal language. Excuse me while I heat up my pterodactyl stew for lunch.

The Pope arriving on U.S. soil was the big news last week. Not being Catholic myself, I admire the man for what he stands for. Certainly not a personal friend but from casual observation he seems to be a kind, humble, and a being who sincerely cares about the flock he presides over as well as those milling around its circumference. In the past I have had some experience with the religion by marriage. My first husband hailed from a large Irish Catholic brood who arrived for mass every Sunday taking up nearly a whole pew towards the front of the church. As with many Irish families members of the immediate family were involved deeply in the church. In my husband’s case it was an uncle, A monsignor, as well as a great-aunt, a nun living in Hawaii.  My second stepfather was also from an Irish Catholic family, arriving in the number 10 spot out of 11 children in a New York based family. His group included a priest living in San Francisco,  a nun living in Marin County, and a policeman protecting the streets of New York. You really couldn’t write it better than that.

Before marrying a Catholic, if you as the intended are not, you and your prospective spouse are required to attend a series of classes called Pre-Cana. At the time we attended this included three Saturday’s spent in class. The first class, hosted by a married couple, guided perspective marrieds through the pitfalls and highs of wedded bliss. The second was presided over by a very Irish chain smoking priest discussing relationships (is it just me?). On the last Saturday we participated in a discussion on how to properly raise the children created from your union. Once Pre-Cana was complete, showers come and gone, and reception plans in place it was on to the wedding itself. We were to have a mass in the huge Catholic church in our area. It was on the calendar for the 7th day of September, which my luck holding turned out to be the hottest day of that particular year. The air conditioning in the massive building struggled to overwhelm the oppressive heat lurking just beyond its doors. Guests seated in the pews fanned themselves with hymnals or whatever else they could find to move the still air. Tucked into layers of silk and lace I had taken on the appearance of a cube of butter placed under a heat lamp. Mascara drooled down my lower lashes and my hair, perfectly together on leaving the house, clung to my head beneath the large veil sending rivulets of water slithering down my back. Whew. The Society Gazette’s headlines might have read, “The Dennis-Deegan wedding was one of the hottest social events of the year”.

There were two hundred plus people seated on one side of the aisle or the other. Having few relatives not living in Canada, our side definitely fell short of the grooms when it came to attendance. The ceremony involved getting up several times from our kneeling position before the priest and moving around the altar for different rites. For me in a long train and with a history of making a fool of myself every chance I got I felt there was a 9 in 10 chance the bride would end up on the floor, in the pulpit, or lighting the table on fire when lighting the candles. Thankfully the universe gave me a pass for the day and other than resisting an impending urge to rip off my clothes and take a bath in the water by the door, we made it through the hour and exchanged rings.

I have always felt one’s religion to be a personal pursuit, encouraging people during a party who embark on a conversation about the subject to do so at their own risk. Few things can create such passion or ignite such heated debates. Over history wars have been won and lost in the name of religion and no matter where you sit on the matter you cannot deny those who believe, do so vigorously.

As humans we tend to want to believe we are right in our opinions. Perhaps we should agree to disagree. In the end our goal is united in the end.

At any rate, I shall step down from my pulpit and introduce you to this delicious grilled shrimp. It never fails to make you a believer.

Barbecued Shrimp

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 lbs. large shrimp, tails on

Combine marinade ingredients and pour into resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp and mush together. Marinate for 8 hrs. Remove shrimp and place skewer (about 8 skewers) inserting The skewer twice through each shrimp as you thread them on. If using bamboo skewers be sure to soak in warm water for 30 mins. prior to grilling.

Cook on high heat on preheated grill for 3-4 mins. on each side. Serve with sauce.

Cocktail Sauce

1 cup catsup
1/8 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 Tbsp. horseradish
1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper

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Fall is right around the corner. My favorite time of year. The weather gurus are suggesting we might see a hint of it this week, though you’d never know by today with the air conditioning humming away to keep the temperature tolerable in the house. Autumn puts me in the mood to be in the kitchen. I have pulled most of my early fall decorations out and distributed them around the house. A pumpkin candle is poking out of the candle holder in the hall and life, as they say, is good.

September has been a weird month most definitely. Seems in my life after periods of tranquility everything unsettling happens at once. To begin with Rick has been sick. Whatever bug he was sheltering decided to hop across and check out my system so now I’m down. Neither of us has felt like doing anything which makes forward movement less than energized. Instead of our usual meals, we’ve leaned more towards bowls of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or eggs most of the week. The thought of anything more exciting seeming beyond our interest level or capability. Thankfully, today I feel a little more like me and Rick is on the mend.

Two members of our family are huge animal activists. I too am a big fan of our furry cousins and worked at the local shelter for a year mucking about cat cages. A house without a pet, to me at least, always feels like it is missing a heartbeat. These two girls, however, go the extra mile. Both actually advocate for abused animals or those needing a home. One such fat, furry, beast is presently living in Lake Tahoe. Not a far piece from us, as the crow flies, so it happens. It was suggested that we might have room to house Chubbs, a mid-size mix, and perhaps would like to either foster him or offer him forever home. I am definitely on the yea side of the vote here, but Boo, The Queen of Cats, was quick to put her paw up with the opposition. In her spoiled little life only once was she faced with sharing her space and her people and the result was other than positive for all concerned. Trying to imagine a huge black dog being welcomed by our snotty feline goes beyond what I can conjure up in my mind without special effects thrown in from Hollywood. I cannot think this will end well.

Along with all the other craziness in the air I have been managing a small business on EBAY. Certainly the word “mogul” has never been mentioned in the same sentence when discussing my little store. However, it ambles along happily depositing a little jing here and there and I get the side benefit of cleaning out my closet and making room for more unneeded items I’m sure I’ll purchase down the road. I am learning the ins and outs of such an enterprise. For instance, after several sales where I ended up eating shipping costs to the point of barely clearing a profit, I have learned to evaluate the size and cost of mailing an item before considering selling it. This week I sold a large witch, 26″ tall to be exact. I had a box that appeared perfect for her to travel in, but it turned out to be slightly short. Manipulating her into one corner her head popped off in my hand. Oh-oh. Somehow I felt she would be less valuable to the buyer on the other end without it. Damn. Sooooo, one email later and a little Crazy Glue and the witch once again took up residence in my closet. Sigh.

In the middle of all this fun I got a phone call from my mother saying her roommate was in the hospital. Mother is one tough lady in most instances, but when it comes to staying alone at night she sprouts feathers and begins to cluck. With nearly four hours separating us, both of us sick, a large dog headed my way, and God knows what else I was at loss as to what to do. In the end my mom turned on every light in the house, both TV’s and slept on the couch. Fortunately her roommate returns to the fold today so I can cross that off my list and go on to whatever the universe has in its pocket next with my name on it. Ach.

Funny isn’t it how so many of us fear the dark? When the sun dips below the horizon all manner of sounds and shadows, not the least alarming in the daylight, suddenly assume a far sinister meaning. As a kid I can remember having to take the trash out at night. I would walk quickly to the trash bin and then run like my feet were on fire back to the house as if the devil himself was nipping at my heels. There was nothing there to frighten me except my own active imagination, but that was enough.

Our fascination with the eerie and macabre is evidenced in our love for Halloween, the Zombie craze, and the endless stream of slasher and horror films flowing out of Hollywood studios. Let’s face it, we love to have the snot scared out of us whenever the opportunity arises.

While living in West Virginia I had the opportunity to go through a corn maze just before Halloween. It was a clear fall night. A full moon shone down on us diminished only by an occasional fast moving cloud passing through the area. Voices could be heard in the distance screaming as monsters of all types reached gory hands out to grab arms and legs of people passing through the labyrinth of passageways. On one occasion I turned to find a huge man, or what had been a man, standing nearly on top of me. Blood ran down the front of his white robe and his head, no longer attached to his body resided under one armpit. I believe I set the record for exiting that cornfield and haven’t set foot in another maze or haunted house since that time. Perhaps this year is the time to stick my toe in the water again and see if anything takes the bait.

At any rate I made soup for the infirmary at our house. This is a delicious French soup usually made with cabbage. As I had a ready supply of Brussels sprouts I popped them in instead and they were a perfect match. Enjoy.

Garbure (French Ham & Bean Soup)

2 ham hocks
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks, sliced thin (white part only)
1 onion, chunked
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
3 large red potatoes, chunked (skin on)
3 large carrots, sliced in 1/2″ slices
1 lbs. Brussels sprouts, halved
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Bay leaves
1 15 1/2 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chopped cooked ham
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

In stock pot bring broth, water and ham hocks to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour partially covered.

In saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Sweat leeks and onion for 6 mins. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. Add white wine and reduce until liquid has nearly disappeared.

Add leek onion mixture to pot with all the remaining ingredients through bay leaves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 90 mins. stirring occasionally. Add beans and ham. Continue cooking for 15 mins. Add white wine vinegar and djust seasoning as desired.

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finalIt has been a busy summer. I miss this old blog when I’m not writing on it, but summer this year hasn’t been dedicated to either kitchen time or quiet moments. When time permitted I sat down in front of the TV to catch up with the most recent remark Donald Trump was making on the news. Got to give him this, he certainly knows how to keep the spotlight positioned directly on his face. I watched the Republican debates. Looked like a football lineup with the fifth quarter team in tow. So many players on the field this go round. Should be an interesting campaign season. I hope the mudslinging is kept to a minimum. Stick to the issues and you have my attention.

Kids are already back in school. When I was enrolled we were let out running in mid-June and dragged back through the doors in mid-September. Glad I attended class when I did and not now. Our educational system on the whole is in the tank. Kids are pushed through from one year to the next without regard for whether or not they’ve earned the privilege or have taken with them a modicum of knowledge from the year behind them. Makes me sad.

I moved to Southern California when I was nine from my home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. So far ahead was I from the other fourth graders in my new American school I could have successfully taught the class. In Canada at the time twelfth grade was the first year of college. What we learned to get us into college, provided that being the life plan, was crammed into our brains in the eleven years prior to that. I knew much about the U.S. when entering fourth grade here but found my classmates knew little if anything at all about Canada. Until I acclimated, I endured countless questions about polar bears, penguins, and if I got cold living in an igloo. In hindsight pointing those fingers back in my direction, I suppose I perceived California as a golden state with sunny beaches, Disneyland, and movie stars parading up and down the street. The first two proved true. Certainly to my recollection I never saw one star walking down the streets of Santa Ana. As the years passed I met several notables while in Hollywood or Palm Springs for this event or that. Met would be a stretch. Perhaps saw a better description of the experience. Once I sat next to Phil Everly at a blackjack table in Las Vegas. Most of you scratching your heads and thinking “Phil who?” are far to young to recognize the name. For those of us with some years under our belts you will remember him as half of the singing duo The Everly Brothers. In high school their hit “Wake Up Little Susie” was my mantra.

Education should be high on our candidates list of vote getting agendas, I believe. We are lagging far behind other major players in this department. I didn’t graduate from college. Looking back I wish I had. Now with competition for middle income jobs so high, a college education is almost a necessity to live above the poverty line. States keep moving the minimum wage up the ladder to help those working in lower paying jobs, but unfortunately the cost of living marches right up the steps behind it.

Life got in the way while I was pursuing my college degree. With two children and a mortgage my educational goals kept moving further off in the distance until finally they disappeared from view altogether. Fortunately, I had clerical skills which provided, if not a palatial house on the beach, a roof over our heads and a good income. Several times in such jobs I worked in manufacturing plants. The first produced tin cans and the second made sump pumps. Interesting stuff huh? Take a sip of coffee if you need help in keeping your lids up. Both jobs were interesting in truth. In the can plant, I worked for the Plant Manager. The administrative offices were situated in heart of the manufacturing area itself. Huge windows captured the view of the assembly lines and general hubbub associated with producing metal cans. Danger lurks in any assembly line, and with sharp edges associated with tin any line worker has to remain alert in order to keep all fingers and limbs attached in their original spot. Several times while employed there I saw first hand what not keeping your mind fully on your job could result in.

The plant manager, a man recently having unhappily beckoned in his fortieth birthday, was going through a mid-life crisis. Working on his second marriage to a woman roughly the same age as his oldest daughter from the first, he was struggling to keep up. Aside from my administrative duties I served in the capacity of “work wife”. The young wife didn’t sign up for any household duties it seemed when slipping the over sized diamond on her finger. Thus, loosely in my job description a number of these duties had been written in. Often my days at the plant were spent running errands of a personal nature such as dropping off and picking up dry cleaning, going to the car wash, dropping papers off at the attorney or the insurance company, banking and generally everything else of a domestic nature from grocery shopping to picking up the newest member of the family at day care. Why the little guy was in day care when his Mama didn’t hold down a job wasn’t my question to ask, but it lingered in my mind when gathering his belongings from his cubbie on the way out to the car.

Aside from this the man drank from the moment his eyes opened in the morning until he passed out at night. Being young I stuck it out for a while, but after a year I filed for a “work divorce” and went about finding a job more suited to my skills. No alimony was forthcoming.

Anyhow, I am glad to be back. I will share with you this delicious end of summer salad. A nice change of pace.

Avocado & Cucumber Salad

2 large avocados, pitted and chunked
2 English cucumbers, seeded and sliced
1/2 red onion, thin sliced and halved
3 radishes, thin sliced and halved


1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
3 drops Sriracha sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice cucumbers in half. Run a spoon down center of each half to remove seeds. Place cucumber in colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for 10 mins. Rinse well and pat dry. Put in mixing bowl and add remaining vegetables. Whisk together dressing and combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

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Time to take a break from my blog for a bit. So much is going on around here for the next few months and it’s too hot to get serious in the kitchen. Hope you’re all having a great summer. See you again in September with new recipes and stories.

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finalSaturday we were invited to a friend’s milestone birthday party. The location, our old stomping grounds, took us an hour and a half to get to. It was a particularly gorgeous summer day so we enjoyed the drive, our time at the party with old friends, and the return trip. On the way back up the hill towards home a huge plume of smoke, not visible when we left, loomed beyond the mountains. A stab of fear nibbled at the back of my neck. Summer is not our friend here in parched Northern California this year. The tree roots are reaching out for water and the ground is easy prey for a stray spark or a carelessly tossed cigarette. Very unnerving. For me, I will be glad when summer closes her books for 2015 come fall. Hopefully the much touted El Nino will swoop down with a vengeance and bring us the much-needed water we are waiting for. Unfortunately an onslaught of rain in drought areas brings with it the threat of flash flooding and landslides, but our reservoirs and springs are dangerously low so this will have to be the bad with the good to bring our water levels back up to where they should be.

It is now nearly six days into the fire and containment is at 50%. The exhausted firefighters are working in steep terrain and the temps today are threatening to soar up above 100 degrees in Sacramento for the third day in a row. Whew. Suddenly I am restless and yearning for a vacation. Definitely I’m putting this on the calendar some time this year. Our last real vacation was too far back to remember.

This week is one of those frustrating weeks where no matter what I am doing, things seem to go south. Perhaps it is that I have my fingers in too many pies at the moment. I can hear my grandmother cautioning me “it is better to do one thing well, than many things poorly”. Ah yes. Well, Gam, here I am busily doing a lot of things half assed. I’m sure you’d be proud. Actually my grandmother would never have said ass, not even if referring to a donkey. Never did I know her to swear, in my presence at least. When totally frustrated she simply said, “mercy”. That’s telling them, Gam.

Sometimes swearing just comes naturally. When you’ve stubbed your toe and stars are dancing in front of your eyes, “darn it” doesn’t seem to adequately cover the situation. I try to use foul language sparingly but every once in a while when the situation dictates my mouth embarks on a rampage without me.

Truth is I love language, foul or not. Sometimes I cringe when I hear it butchered. I can’t figure out when it began but new words or phrases are becoming the norm such as “I seen it” or “tooken”. Tooken is now in the dictionary from what I understand. It is described as a non-standard version of took or taken. “Mercy”, as Gam would put it.

Grammar and spelling are not emphasized as they once were in schools. Not in school myself for some time, this is second-hand information. However, I believe it to be fairly accurate. With the advent of texting, new words, abbreviated words, and a specific texting language have emerged. Certainly geography is not pushed either, or at least not in one of my grandchildren’s school. I asked him if he new where British Columbia was during a discussion of a visit to the province. His response was “north of the U.S”. Pleased he was correct, he went on to call it a state rather than a province and was totally unaware there were any more provinces other than British Columbia existing in Canada. Sigh. Thankfully, most of the world has already been explored so this generation won’t be taxed with taking out any expeditions to discover new lands any time soon. Unless, of course, it involves space exploration and hopefully someone will have included a GPS or Mapquest directions on where to go once the moon is in the rear mirror.

Someone asked me once if I would go on a space ship if the price of a ticket was included in the invitation. Nope. Not because I don’t have the nerve, the interest, or the curiosity. Claustrophobic people are not a welcome inclusion on any trip involving closed doors with no escape. Trust me on this. Back a few years I was far worse. There were times when flying often for my job I had to suppress the urge when the doors were closed to run screaming down the center aisle of the plane screaming “stop this thing, I have to get off”! The first, and might I say last, time I went on Space Mountain at Disneyland I was so freaked out by the time I got off I wished fervently Walt had thought to include bars in his plans for Main Street along with ice cream parlours. Another time in the park I went in to see Captain EO in 3D with Michael Jackson. Doors closed all around me. Darkness descended and suddenly things were flying in my face and my overstimulated mind began screaming “RUN, SAVE YOURSELF!”. Probably I was one of the few people visiting the attraction who left in the middle of the show. Thankfully, a Disney elf took pity on me and got me out a door before I went postal.

I do love Disneyland. Many fond memories were created there when I was young. My son and his brood are going next week. He told me he could go on a cruise for the cost of three days in the park. Wow. I remember, dating myself again, when tickets were lettered A-E and you could do the whole park for $30 a person. To say it’s been a while since I’ve been there would be underlined by the fact I wasn’t aware there was a California side to the park. This is where they’ll be staying. He said the hotel spared no expense in making you feel your money is well spent even including luggage tags with Mickey’s visage on the front. What a great marketing idea. Little touches like that ease the pain a bit. A check would ease it more.

At any rate, in spite of the soaring temps I baked a pie. It was at 4:30 a.m. so much cooler that time of day. This is an old recipe from Rick’s first restaurant. Definitely has a yum factor.

1Brandy Alexander Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust, baked and cooled
3 eggs, separated
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 cup brandy
1/2 cup creme de cacao
1 cup heavy cream, beaten
Whipped Cream

Pour water in medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over top. Add 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and 3 egg yolks. Stir to mix well. Over lo heat cook and stir until mixture thickens. Do not boil.

Stir in brandy and creme de cacao. Chill over bowl of ice until mixture mounds slightly.

Beat egg whites until glossy. Beat in remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff. Fold into thickened gelatin mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into crust and chill for several hours. Top with more whipped cream and raspberries.

Graham Cracker Crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix ingredients well together. Press into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake for 8 mins. Cool on wire rack.

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Politicians are on the move once again. Mud bombs are being fired in all directions with Donald Trump leading the parade. He actually went so far as to give out Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number on national television. Graham reacted by creating a video of his smashing his phone in a variety of ridiculous ways which went viral. Really? Reminds me of a bunch of kids on a playground slinging insults at one another. Actually, I’ve seen kids play better together. I wish they’d stick to the issues rather than getting personal. I remember a counselor saying once that when involved in a debate or an argument, “Stick to the subject when having a disagreement. Do not attack on a personal level.” Words are something not easily taken back once they’re thrown out there. The impact of a verbal onslaught can be equally, if not more, damaging than slapping a person in the face.

It’s not that I disagree with everything Mr. Trump stands for, but definitely I stand on the opposite side on how he delivers his opinion and where he draws the line on expressing it. You cannot say a man so versed on running a business has nothing to contribute to the conversation, but he definitely seems to have boundary issues.

Hearing someone voice an opinion, even an unpopular one is at least taking a stand. I view this as better than having an opinion about how to fight the bull but sitting on the fence waiting to see if someone else is going to jump into the ring, pick up the cape, and take a stab at it.

The mini-series depicting King Tut’s short time in power viewed this week. I wouldn’t give it an “A” but it was entertaining enough to keep us tuned in through all three episodes. It certainly highlighted the perception that politics can be a dirty and backstabbing proposition is not a new concept. Tut, whose death remains a mystery, died at nineteen. According to the story his trusted advisor married the widowed queen, also Tut’s sister, and erased all memory of the former boy king from the records. Tut was buried in his gold sarcophagus in a lessor tomb, and remained unheralded until he was unearthed in 1922 thrusting him into the limelight. If not for this, he would have remained insignificant in Egyptian history books. What is known of him was gleaned from what was written inside the tomb he was buried in.

I have a total fascination with the Egyptians. Rick being from there and his knowledge of the area only adds to my curiosity. Such a rich and interesting culture. The Pyramids of Giza. Those amazing edifices standing the test of time in the middle of the desert are no less miraculous today than when they were erected. How on earth those huge stones came to piled in such a way with such precision of alignment. Wouldn’t I love to have been a fly on the wall during their construction to understand fully how these structures came to be. Pharaohs and their families were buried in the pyramid chambers. Their possessions were entombed with them, to be used in the afterlife. Servants, alive and well, were also sealed up with their masters to serve them as they transitioned from life on earth to the heavens to join with the gods. Hmmmmm. Being handy with a duster or throwing together a pot of fava beans might have been hazardous to your health back in those days.

Politics has continued over the years to hold hands with corruption in most cultures. The U.S. is no exception. Headlines repeat themselves as politicians from this state or that are uncovered dipping their hands in the till or twisting the law to suit their own purposes. It’s discouraging to watch as these people we elect are handed the reigns to our country often guiding it in the wrong direction.

Having a woman in charge might be interesting. I hope to see this someday, maybe even this time. We do seem to be stuck in the Bush/Clinton syndrome. Passing the baton down the line from one family member to the next. Somewhat reminiscent of Robert and Bobby Kennedy had they survived to fulfill the prophecy. John Kennedy’s assassination is one of two days, the other being 9/ll, where I have perfect recall of where I was the moment the news unfolded. When President Kennedy was shot, I was home from school lying on the couch nursing a good case of bronchitis. All day I sat, blanket under my chin, watching as the various news anchors related the events as the day progressed. The Kennedy’s, not unlike the pharaohs, suffered the burdens of public service heavily.

If you compare pictures of men assuming the presidency before they take office with those taken after they leave, it is obvious by the aging occurring during their time served the office extracts it’s pound of flesh for the privilege of holding it. Personally you have to admire anyone stepping up to the plate even if they strike out once they take the bat in their hand. No matter what decisions you make someone out there is going to think you’re an idiot, or worse. A tough hide would be helpful I’m sure to field all the complaints and rising and falling popularity polls associated with holding the office. This, not to mention walking around being a desirable target for someone with terrorist intentions or an unbalanced mind. Somehow I don’t feel all the wonderful food coming out of the White House kitchen would balance all the stuff sitting on the other side of the scale.

Looking at all this I’ve decided not to run. Although a woman and a Canadian at that might really shake up the oval office. Have a great day.

A friend shared this recipe with me. I wasn’t sure how I would like it, but as hot as it is outside it was surprisingly refreshing.

Tomato Orange Soup

2 lbs. Roma tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups rich chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried basil
4 tsp. orange zest
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place tomatoes cut side down on foil. Bake for 25 mins. until skins are charred. Peel off skin and discard.

Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 min.

Add broth, orange juice, tomato paste and thyme. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking uncovered 40 mins. Add remaining ingredients except sour cream. Allow to cool slightly. Use emulsion blender or blender to puree. Return to pot and keep warm. Swirl sour cream on top when serving.

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