Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Photos by Susie Nelson

Photos by Susie Nelson

Ahhhhh, the weather is glorious today only reaching toward the eighties.  It almost feels like early fall rather than the first week in August.  Love it.

Our living room chair came in, so we picked it up today and that room is finished.  Other than painting the ceiling in the kitchen and getting a replacement stove we are complete, for now.  One is never truly complete until the universe is done with them or there’s a great sale at Macy’s, I’m thinking.

The larger items not sold at the garage sale I’ve posted on craigslist and several other sites.  It’s great to have these free fingertip options to help you unload unwanted goods.  Every time I post something on craigslist, I get replies from scammers.  These guys (or ladies who knows) need to bring some ghost writers on board if they’re going to succeed at scamming anyone with an IQ over 24.  Not only does each response have a similar vein running through it but they have the feel of someone hovering over a computer with an English translation dictionary trying to communicate with selected words and phrases.

The exact words from the most recent reply were as follows:

Kind of funny how things have work out because I have been wanting!  Reply back quick because glad I didn not buy this in last month.  Sooner better excellent portable bar in two stools.  Eric.

Number one, I feel deeply this message is not from a gentlemen named Eric, and secondly how my bar got in two stools is a mystery worth exploring.

Scammers, hackers and con men are on the rise.  Twice now I’ve had a credit card compromised and been issued a replacement.  Metal credit card holders are becoming popular to prevent hackers from scanning your information through your wallet and it is suggested you hide the keypad when entering your pin at the market or wherever to prevent others from noting the code.  Of the animal kingdom, it would seem we are the only species, and the highest ranked in the pecking order (at least according to us), who choose to prey on those of their own kind.  Although, I must admit I watched a documentary the other night on chimps and was surprised to discover chimps actually hunt a particular type of monkey for food. After watching their behaviors it is not surprising they’re only one rung below us on the evolutional ladder.

Lately I seem drawn to documentaries, particularly with summer television fare being what it is. Reality shows are so prevalent one seems to bloom off the branch of another.  The Bachelorette appeared on Good Morning America with her new choice for a mate after her original choice didn’t choose her, or something to that effect. In her words she said she needed the extra two weeks after the original disappointment to know what she really wanted, namely the second runner up.  I’m sorry, it is probably me, but that makes about as much sense as Brittany Spears saying, “I get to go to lots of overseas places, like Canada.”  If I was chosen in such a manner I certainly wouldn’t monogram my towels until we’d at least celebrated our ten-year anniversary.

Reality shows, popular with many viewers obviously, are not so much with me. I do not want to watch the gentlemen on Duck Dynasty compare their recent beard growth. What Kim Kardashian is up to means absolutely nothing in my world, although as a fellow being I hope she’s doing fine.  If you ask most people why she is famous, they will refer to the adult video she made with the R&B singer, or she was friends with Paris Hilton.

So, for now, if I find myself with the remote in hand I will endeavor to search for something other than Honey Boo Boo making sketti or whatever that is, and steer clear of Temptation Island. The documentary on the chimp was fascinating and beautifully filmed.  The story revolved around a young chimp, Oscar, losing his mother during a raid by another troop of chimpanzees challenging their territory.  Females typically keep their youngsters close to them while they mature. It falls to mothers to teach their offspring how to hunt and survive.  Without such guidance, like a human baby on a lesser scale, they will eventually succumb to predators, starvation or their environment.  All the available females in this case had babies of their own.  Shunned and alone Oscar struggles to take care of himself in the unforgiving jungle.  Tough shelled nuts are a mainstay in chimps diets.  Imitating humans they use stones or crude tools to crack the shells and harvest the nut meat.  This is a learned behavior and without a mentor Oscar could locate the nuts but was unable to open them.  In the end in an extremely rare gesture, the alpha male in the group took Oscar in and kept him as his own. It was sweet, with a little violence, but mostly an interesting peek into the lives of the members of the troop.

My other half would prefer a little more action, or perhaps a lot.  He enjoys futuristic marauding androids, slithering reptilian gooey slathering things bursting forth from someone’s chest, and men with guns chasing men with bigger guns chasing gorgeous women.  Guy flicks.  When we go to the movies we have to take turns choosing.  I took him to “The Heat” recently with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  It was hilarious.  He was sure he wasn’t going to enjoy it, but he clucked so much when he got up to go get a soda I was sure I would find an egg in his seat.

Movies for me, when they are good, are the perfect escape.  You can live vicariously through, and exchange your life for, the characters on the screen for a couple of dollars and a few hours.  Old movies and new movies all captivate me, from To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite) to Avatar. Some make me laugh, others cry, and still others keep me sitting on the edge of my seat.  The best of the best sweep me up and allow my imagination to drive the train. Always I have been curious about performing but the closest I’ve ever gotten to summer stock was dropping a hen carcass in boiling water in mid-June.  Perhaps one day I’ll give it a shot. Most probably I’ll stick to spending a Saturday night with my grandchildren pretending to be a chicken, a role I’m asked to reprise over and over again. It’s lovely to excel at something.

With as many nods as I’ve given the wee cabbages during my blog years, I have never thought to use them in soup.  I had several pounds given to me by a friend and wanted to try something different to use them up.  As the weather is cooler this week I gave it a try and we loved it.  Let me know what you think.

Brussel Sprout Curry Soup

1 lb. brussel sprouts
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 small potatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red curry powder
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Sour cream and paprika for garnish

Clean and trim brussel sprouts. Cover with water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook at low boil about 8 mins. or until fork tender. Drain.

soup 1

In large saucepan heat butter over med. heat. Add onions an potatoes to pan and cook until vegetables are tender, watching not to burn. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. Add brussel sprouts, broth, salt, curry powder, and peppers. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 12 mins. or until vegetables are tender. Allow to reach room temperature.

soup 2

Process in food processor until well blended. Adjust seasoning as desired. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of paprika if desired.

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final salad

Men, although in many cases physically stronger than ourselves, do not seem to manage as well as we do when ill. This is not just one writers opinion, on researching the subject I find there have been actual studies conducted on the subject. Even as a child, my son would take to his bed over a hangnail and moan and groan as if I’d covered him in honey and set him on a nest of fire ants. Perhaps this is why we ladies were chosen to bear children. From what I’ve seen that first strong labor pain shuddering through a man’s body might have signaled the extinction of the human race.

At around twelve, my son and his best friend, Rob, apparently lacking in anything of consequence to do on a beautiful summer afternoon, came to the bright idea of playing what they referred to later as “roof football”. Do not try this at home. The rules, it seemed, involved one ball and two players. One player positioned himself on a roof and the other on the ground. The player on the ground threw the ball upward with the other player attempting to catch it and visa versa. Pretty basic. Certainly no urgent need to patent this idea before someone snapped it up and ran with it. Having had his turn on the ground, my son climbed the ladder set out for such a purpose and took his place on the roof. Ball into play, he ran back for the pass. Unfortunately, he did not take into account the restrictions of his playing field. Although completing the pass, he sailed off the edge of the roof landing spread eagle in a bed of rose bushes. The good news was the bushes broke his fall, resulting in only a sprained ankle. The bad news was they were, in fact, rose bushes, and he was completely covered with scratches and thorns.

An eight-hour emergency room visit and a down payment on a Maserati later, I took my wounded player home to recover. On the drive home we had a brief discussion on the soundness of playing football on a surface with a two-story drop on all sides. Obviously I did not have his full attention, as several months later he had sixteen stitches in the front of his head after diving in the shallow end of the pool with both hands behind his back. In case you are wondering, the answer is no. No, I did not drop him on his head as an infant. We choose rather to think of him as having an adventurous spirit. Instructions from the doctor involved rest, medication, regular icing, and an ace bandage to keep the swelling down. Working full-time, this necessitated my taking a few days vacation to nurse him back to health. Lying prone on the couch his young face was contorted in a constant grimace of pain. I waited on him hand and, well, foot. A bell was provided for my patient’s use to summon his nursing staff. Put into use so frequently, it’s clanger blessedly finally fell off in protest. “Mom”, became the dreaded word of the day, it was spoken so often.

Too weak apparently to use his words, but strong enough to push the numbers on the remote, we passed the days together. Getting him settled in the morning on the couch I would inquire as to his breakfast order. With a look as though his last breath was surely lurking around the next corner, “I’m not hungry”, came the whispered answer.

“Not even a piece of toast?”, says I.

“Well, maybe I could eat a bite of toast…. with a little butter and jelly. Oh…. and could I have a couple of poached eggs on top of the the toast to keep up my strength?” Sigh and muffled cough.

Sigh, again (that would be me).

“Bacon or sausage?”

“Could I have both?”

To this day my son still calls when down with the flu or ill, and I can almost hear that little bell clanging away in the background.

The men I married were worse. A cold required full bed rest, treats from the store, heating pads, and possibly traction. My second husband suffered from hypochondria. If someone at work got sick, by the time he got home he could be found shoving vitamin tablets in his mouth with the same enthusiasm a chubby theatergoer might approach a tub of double buttered popcorn. Reviews of his throat via flashlight were conducted at regular intervals to ensure nothing had grown there since the last look a half an hour before. God forbid I got sick. Conversations were engaged from behind a handkerchief held over his mouth. I was repeatedly bombarded with a heavy mist of disinfectant spray and food was shoved along the floor from across the room as though I was under the protection of Father Damien. Once he had minor surgery to remove a small growth on his knee, totally benign. The doctor instructed him to watch for infection and apply salve and he would be back at work the following week. So intense were the precautions put in place to protect against germs once he was home, I could have been asked to gown up and report to surgery without having to wash up.

The funny part about this phenomenon is that when I was sick, even after major surgery, somebody was still needed to man the pots in the kitchen. The general assumption, if I remember correctly, was that it would be me . While I was up why not toss in a load of whites and clean the toilet?  After all, once the anesthesia wore off what was I going to do with all that spare time?

This comes up because I have a friend nursing her husband back from recent surgery. It was not a fun surgery, but as yet I haven’t heard of one where people are fighting for position in line to have the procedure. Apparently he has been such a bad patient she is considering performing a follow-up procedure of her own to suture his lips together. Bringing him home after a three day stint in the hospital, his moaning became so pronounced the neighbors dog commenced howling to commiserate and his owner stopped by to make sure they weren’t being attacked by a band of mutant marauders.

Fortunately all is well in our house today as the move progresses. It has been nice to have taken a few days off for the holiday weekend as my body was giving me a harsh talking to for asking it to do things normally not required of it.

This salad is simply yummy. I could make a meal of it.

Fattoush (Mediterranean) Salad

final salad without dressingSalad Ingredients

2 cups romaine lettuce, torn
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 large red onion, sliced thin and quartered
1/2 large green pepper, sliced thin and quartered
1 small jar of artichoke hearts packed in oil, quartered
1/4 cup garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed
Pita chips (recipe below)

Mix together all salad ingredients in large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pita Chips

2 pita bread rounds, cut into 1″ squares
olive oil for frying

Heat 1/2″ of oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Cook squares in batches avoiding overcrowding until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

final pita chips


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in food processor. Process until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hr. before serving.

To assemble salad, just prior to serving toss mixed greens with pita chips and dressing.

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hummus final

Today I went shopping for groceries and came home with five bags of groceries and a new pair of sandals.  When I am stressed or feeling uneasy about something two things help to make it better, chocolate and shoes.  Mind you I did not need a new pair of shoes.  In actual fact, like others of my kind I only have two feet. Try as I might these two feet alone, no matter how adept at keeping me erect, could never accommodate the shoes already residing on the floor of my closet waiting to be filled.  However, I’m feeling much better about my world knowing these little bejeweled sandals are mine. They were on sale, so as I explained to my other half, practically free.

My other half does not seem to comprehend fully the “on sale” hypothesis, nor does he view this as a viable reason for purchasing something you do not need.  Several times I have endeavored to explain the concept to him complete with reviewing store brochures, explanation of savings margins, and even factoring in the “fad quotient”,  which in layman’s terms means, “if you bought it twenty minutes ago, it is now outdated”.  Still, he seems to hold to the premise if you already have twenty pairs of shoes and only two feet, this should keep your feet covered for some years to come, unless, naturally, new feet begin to grow then he promised to revisit the discussion along with explore getting me a spot on Letterman.  Try as I might he refuses to see a clear picture when it comes to this subject. So, my work here is done. Even at my most persuasive, I cannot move a rock with an ice cream stick.  I’m just sayin.

For the most part I am a fairly thrifty being.   Several months after I first met Rick he and I went shopping to fill a grocery list for a party he was planning.  Somewhat of a high roller I thought when it came to his choice in foods. As we walked the aisles the cart was filled with expensive cheeses and high-end olives and appetizers.  By the time we arrived at the check stand he looked down to find several baguettes, a flat of steaks, two boxes of mushrooms, a bunch of fresh asparagus and a bag of red potatoes.  Without even realizing it, used to several years of stringent budgeting, I had unconsciously put all the unnecessary items back on the shelves.  That, he said, was the deciding moment for him.  I was definitely the woman of his dreams. When things were tight for me financially in the years when my children and I were on our own, I had a system which worked beautifully for cutting spending.  If I saw something my heart really desired, I would load it in the cart to enjoy while I did the rest of my shopping.  Before paying for my items I would return the object of my affection to its rightful spot in the store, say my goodbyes, and purchase the things I actually needed.  I guess some of that frugality lingers beneath the surface in my makeup because even now I think a while before tossing something frivolous in the cart.  Rick will report to you, however, under his tutelage I have made great progress in overcoming this handicap over the years, as would be reflected in our monthly grocery bills.

Growing up I can remember my mother being a bit of a spendthrift.  Not entirely her fault really, for she was raised in an affluent household with little denied her.  As she will recall, even during the war years in the 1940’s when luxuries were hard to come by, she felt little in the way of deprivation other than perhaps suffering a shortage of nylons or chocolate.  Although many foodstuffs were rationed, my grandfather was a physician with many farmers listed as patients on his accounts receivable list, so spring lamb, newly butchered poulets, fresh eggs and seasonal vegetables arrived at the doorstep even in the leanest of times.

Born with an innate sense of good taste, Mother really should have pursued a career as an interior designer or personal shopper so she could spend other people’s money.  On our shopping expeditions together these days, I am the one holding up the white flag on behalf of my feet, long before she’s ready to quit and go home. In high school, bags from the mall were smuggled in while my stepfather tended his beloved rose bushes in the back yard. Stashed in the closet or attic crawl space they were reintroduced later as “this old thing” or “that, I bought it last summer”.  Drawn into the subterfuge by blood ties, I remained mum hoping no questions came my direction.  A terrible liar, I literally lose a dress size in perspiration when interrogated, making detection inevitable. Although my parents earning scale would have been considered upper middle class for the time, we lived on the teetering edge of disaster most days, each paycheck accounted for before the ink was dry on the signature.

Mother compensated for her joy of spending by working hard, bringing home a tidy paycheck.  Rarely do I remember her taking a day off, and our house, in her defense, was always beautifully appointed and a pleasure to walk into, our food beautifully prepared and presented, and my closet was never lacking for something to make the hangers feel they still had a job to do.  For my stepfather, keeping up with the expenses meant scrambling every summer, as his principle job was, well, principal. He could choose to have his salary distributed equally over twelve months at a lessor amount each month or get paid more for nine months with no paycheck during the summer. With the spending on full throttle, the latter became the necessary option. The man sold Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, extension courses, worked in a gas station pumping gas, redeemed tickets at the movie theater, and scanned the papers and magazines every weekend in search of every get rich quick scheme out there or any contest requiring no purchase to enter.

In the end they taught me well with regard to money, in a backwards kind of way.  I learned to respect money, enjoy it, and most certainly learned the work ethic to earn it. I also learned not to keep too tight of an eye on it while at the same time not letting control of it get out of my sight completely. All in all I am certainly not rolling around in bills tossed in the center of my king sized mattress but I’ve formed a friendship with my finances and found I can live well with quite a bit in the bank and equally as well with just enough.

This hummus came to me via a friend’s pool party recently. It is so quick to put together and a lighter touch served with vegetables rather than pita chips or pita pockets, although good with both. When I make tahini for falafels, I freeze the extra tahini in small bags to be used down the road for hummus. Lovely on the patio in the summertime.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Zucchini Hummus

1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can garbonzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, quartered
3 Tbsp. tahini
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced vegetables or pita chips for dipping

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over med-high heat. Add sliced zucchini to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown on one side for about 3 mins. Turn over and repeat. Cook until fork tender watching not to burn. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.


Coarsely chop zucchini. Add chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and zucchini to food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.


Serve with pita chips or sliced vegetables.

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Photos by Susie Nelson

Photos by Susie Nelson

Yesterday on the local news they aired a video showing a teacher engaging in a fight with a fifteen year old student.  According to the newscaster, the teacher asked the student to hand over makeup the girl was applying while class was in session. When she declined to do so, and I do not mean by saying “no, thank you” rather by getting in the teacher’s face, the older woman lost it and began punching her.  I cannot help but think we have taken away any recourse teachers have in the classroom for maintaining order or garnering respect. At some point the frustration of being completely impotent with regard to discipline must begin to cause cracks in the structure of hierarchy in our classrooms.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I do not think that teachers should run about willy nilly plummeting their students, nor do I believe capital punishment such as rulers across palms or swatting should be tolerated, but some power needs to be given to the teacher to reprimand or defend themselves in order to provide an environment where learning can thrive.

When did we become so afraid of our children?  I wonder that often.  I know as a child my parents were definitely not afraid of me.  In turn I wasn’t afraid of them either (well maybe a little), but I did respect them.  If told to do something I certainly wasn’t allowed to continue what I was doing and ignore them, or worse yet say something sarcastic in response.  My mother’s motto was, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out”.  There wasn’t one instance growing up I can remember being spanked, still when my mother spoke, it was like “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”.

Looking back I had several standout teachers.  Mrs. Potter in the fourth grade.  A serene soul who wore support stockings and sensible shoes, and if you got close enough smelled a bit like mothballs.  I loved her.  Shy at that age, and newly arrived from Canada, Mrs. Potter took me under he ample wing and helped me to acclimate to my new surroundings until I was ready to fly on my own.  As a Canadian dropped into a Southern California society, not only did I look different, not being tan and blonde (at the time naturally), and still saying “serviette” instead of napkin and emphasizing my sentences with “eh”, there was a certain amount of teasing to be endured before I was to be accepted.  To add to the mix I was still wearing my coat of baby fat, and glasses making the target area for wounding me somewhat bigger.  If it hadn’t been for her gentle reassurance, and supportive atta girls probably my first year on American soil might have been much more difficult than it was.

Another teacher worth a mention came along in ninth grade.  A nomad even at that age, this was the sixth school I’d attended since Mrs. Potter’s class.  One thing I’ll say about moving around a lot is that you develop a thicker skin with each relocation. Adapting to new surroundings and situations comes at a much faster pace than in the beginning.  I entered high school at ninety-eight pounds leaving my baby fat behind me in the seventh grade.  Still shy, but cracking through the surface of my shell and taking a look around much more frequently, I was assigned Miss Bailey for English.  English, language and art classes easily held my attention, where with math and science I had to work hard to find my muse.  Miss Bailey, a maiden lady who often said her students were her children, was one of those humans who finds her calling early in life and settles in comfortably on top of it like a hen guarding her eggs.  Not a jocular being by any stretch of the imagination, her humor was more wry leaning on irony.  Less than perfect was an unacceptable standard under her watch and she held no quarter for slackers or “lazy Larry’s” as she referred to those deemed not striving to do their best.  In her classroom I was faced with a school year packed with book reports, to my dismay 50% oral.  For me this held the level of fear of being asked to address the nation on the eve of war.  Standing naked, at least symbolically, before my peers I would stumble over my well rehearsed words as though reading them for the first time.  Fear getting the best of me, even though I’d read the book assigned when my name was called I’d say I hadn’t done my report.  Miss Bailey would look down at me over the glasses perched on the end of her nose as if scanning me to detect a lie and spotting one glowing brightly below the surface of my skin.

Composition was my strong suit in English.  Writing came easier to me than speaking aloud.  My fears, hopes and dreams came alive on paper and Miss Bailey poked and prodded the best out of my attempts to learn that year, telling me I could write, should write, will write.  I remember her for that.

There were the bad seeds as well in high school.  Mr. Braxton, our driver’s ed teacher would wear the crown on this list.  A small man, not short really, but bent over as though he was carrying the weight of mankind on his shoulders. He sported a well sprayed comb over even Donald Trump would applaud and was known to pass gas at regular intervals rendering the classroom nearly inconsolable. Each day he arrived precisely at the sound of the bell.  Dressing was not his strong suit, as I remember.  A white shirt, slightly yellowed, possibly due to the fact he was a single man and owned no bleach or that he chain smoked lighting one butt with another behind the gym.  His collar was held fast by one of a selection of many gaudy bow ties he had a preference for rounded off by a pair of dark pants suitably short enough to prepare him for any rising water situation, and white socks.  When speaking, he pondered his shoes with such rapt attention I wondered if the meaning of life was written on their shiny leather exteriors, clearing his throat from one sentence to the next seemingly to give the words following room to emerge.  While lecturing monotonously on the finer points of drive shafts and pistons, most of the boys in the class occupied their time firing spit wads at his hindquarters while the girls gossiped amongst themselves.  The only thing I took from his class at the end of the semester was compassion.  Teenagers can be incredibly cruel.

So, this is my salute to teachers.  They guide and prod us to achieve and revel in our successes as their own.  Underpaid and overworked, they help us to mold our incorrigible children into viable human beings often without so much as a pat on the back.

They had huge artichokes on sale at the market yesterday so I could not resist.  Rather than have melted butter or mayonnaise, I decided to try something new as well.  This had a bit of a bit and added something special.

artichokes and lemons

Tangy Artichoke Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 drops hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Please visit me when they put me in the home because I’m sure I’m going to end up there if I put in another day like Friday.  I’d like a nice corner room with a view of the ocean, I prefer Scrabble to Checkers and I have a particular preference for cherry Jello with whipped cream on top.  I hope you’re taking notes.

Life has been too much the last few weeks. Even for me, and I’m usually a joyful participant.  Friday it really ramped up throwing in some laptop issues, escrow issues, family issues, cat issues and other people’s issues to the point where I am now seriously having issues.  As an aside, have you noticed that your laptop, printer, dishwasher, phone, etc., rarely cease to function while you’re lying on the couch working on a three-letter word for garden implement in the daily crossword puzzle? Instead, these wily devices cunningly lie in wait until the crucial moment where your sanity or future success depends on their participation in the program, then they roll over on their backs, and play dead.

Since my children first emerged from the womb I have regaled them with Susie’s pearls of wisdom regarding spending time above ground on this planet. Whether this has helped or hindered their progress is up for debate. Life, for the most part, I told them, is not always fair, rarely predictable, capricious on the best of days, and the very moment you are convinced you’ve amassed more answers than questions with regard to the living of it, life will wink devilishly and change the rules of the game entirely, neglecting to share the new rules with you.  Never, I don’t suppose even while drawing our last breath do we ever fully grasp the scope of our world. Perhaps this only serves to add to the mystique surrounding a world we know relatively little about, and helps to solidify our deep roots in religion or whatever beliefs one might hold when it comes to the hereafter.

Friday for me, was a soul-searching, what the hell is going on, kind of day.  One which I don’t care to repeat again for, well, I don’t care to repeat again for-ever.  First on my agenda was a task I was dreading. Miss Mouse the Cat first came screaming up our driveway looking for shelter from the storm about a year ago. Since then, we have taken our foundling into our house and when we weren’t looking she went and insinuated her furry self right into our hearts.  Unfortunately, Miss Boo the Queen of Cats did not in the beginning, nor does she now, share our affection for this endearing, if slightly off balanced, unexpected housemate.  Try as we may, following all guidelines provided by our vet and the pet store personnel, we have been unsuccessful in reaching a de tante between the two felines. Each time we attempt to get them to share space together fur flies, and I mean that in the most literal sense.  This cold war necessitated a daily game of musical rooms. When we shut one in a room, we let the other one out of another.  It wasn’t I minded the game, it certainly occupied those occasional moments with nothing to fill the time, but in our new house, considerably smaller than our present digs, I could see it becoming a nearly impossible task and a difficult proposition for all concerned.

It was due to the move, indirectly, that Mouse has come to find a new home.  One estimator, while at the house providing a quote, ran into Mouse reclining on the steps while on his way out to his car.  Leaning to pet her, he asked me if there was anything else he could do to help. I joked, “do you need a cat”?  To which he replied, “why, yes”.  Oh-oh.  This was not the answer I expected. On further discussion I was to determine he is a married father of five living in a rural area on a large piece of land. Both he and his family are animal people.  There definitely are such beings.  I know, because I am one.  Those humans who can overlook the occasional shredding incident, brush aside a bit of fur on an easy chair, and welcome a furry chum into their lives expecting little in return (in the case of cats) but an occasional doling out of affection. On further conversation he explained a month ago they lost their beloved cat.  When I realized he was serious about taking Mouse, I asked for a day or two to think this over. With a heavy heart and after much deliberation we decided such a gift as finding a good home for our sweet Mouse could not go ignored. We agreed to allow her to be adopted, with the stipulation if it did not work they would return her to our care. After all the darn cat is definitely a candidate for Prozac, and I wanted to leave an avenue of escape open (not for Mouse but for them). Intellectually I know this to be the right decision for Mouse, but emotionally it has been a sad 24 hours and I’m sure I will miss her silly furry self for some time to come.  I do not like goodbyes.  I wish my little friend well on her journey.  Much, she taught me, about trust and love.

On another vein, our escrow is snarled up on some ridiculous piece of red tape, so progress there has temporarily reduced to a snail’s crawl.  I’ve had fishing line that was easier to untangle than government paperwork.  To add to the mix, our laptop, which comes into play often with all the paperwork involved in home sales and is the only computer not packed and ready to go, began locking up.  When rebooted it cycled for so long I cooked a rack of ribs before it finally displayed the desktop icons.  Four times I got on-line with the remote techies overseas, averaging about two hours each time. Still the bloody thing insisted on hanging up.  On my last nerve, and eying the toilet bowl as a place to deposit this devil’s tool, I picked up the phone and dialed the geek patrol. A gentlemen arrived not long afterwards and whisked my laptop away to his lair of technology to perform his particular brand of magic on it. Personally, I believe one of these talented tech support people with their creative brains and infinite knowledge of the workings of the beast should be included in every computer sale.  I’m just sayin.

I have done many varieties of brussel sprouts, but these brussel sprouts were particularly wonderful.  I adapted them from something I saw on TV.  Tess, write this one down as I know you have a preference for the wee cabbages.

Baked Brussel Sprouts with Lemon and Garlic

4 slices bacon, diced
1 lb. brussel sprouts, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
Pinch of kosher salt (generous)
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices lemon
2 Tbsp. butter
1 3/4 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut up bacon and saute until cooked crisp. Drain on paper towels.


In large bowl combine all remaining ingredients except butter and chicken broth. Toss to coat well.


Place a 22″ sheet of tin foil on top of a cookie sheet. Top with a 20″ piece of parchment paper. Place brussel sprout mixture in center of parchment paper. Top with slices of butter. Fold in tin foil on all sides to cover. Leave on cookie sheet and place in oven for 45 mins. or until very fragrant.


Place chicken broth in large skillet. Heat over med-high heat until boiling. Dump contents of tin foil into broth. Cover and lower heat. Cook an additional 10-15 mins. or until fork tender. Season as desired. Serve with sauce.

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final reuben

Big doings across the pond these days. A new Pope in Vatican City and a bun in the royal oven. It must be peculiar to be in the public eye in such a manner. People pushing and shoving to touch you or to snap your picture. I would hate it. I can’t imagine having to pull myself fully together, make-up, hair, and designer clothes to run out to the store for a pint of buttermilk. No matter what the lifestyle offered in exchange for entering into such a contract with the world, I would never be willing to pay the price of my privacy in order to obtain it.

Looking back, I’m not sure I ever satisfied my alloted fifteen minutes of fame. I did write a newspaper column for nearly two years on cooking. Not sure that counts. The closest I came to stardom was at the ripe old age of five. I was an invited guest on a local children’s television show in Halifax. The show involved a clown as it often did in those days, and several puppets, none of which I recall by name. A new dress with embroidered duckies was purchased for my screen debut. The only recollection (naturally) I have of the experience is an Eskimo Pie handed to me by a crew member. Between the hot lights and my natural grace under fire, when the camera panned to my chubby cheeks I was nearly unrecognizable (perhaps a plus). According to my mother’s oft told version of the events, the lovely embroidered yellow ducklings were totally obscured by the mess of melting chocolate and sea of vanilla ice cream moving down the front of my small person. Wouldn’t you know my only brush with fame would somehow involve food and a hot mess? My mother, always the fashionista, was suitably horrified. I guarantee she was not wearing her party smile when she claimed me immediately following. I’ve always harbored the secret notion at such times in my young life she would gladly have left me by the side of the road with a sign around my neck reading simply “take me”.

This got me to thinking who I know personally who had captured their fifteen minutes in the spotlight. My other half was featured on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News when he obtained his U.S. citizenship. Back in her twenties my mother was a model and regaled the pages of a number of Canadian fashion publications.

A dear friend of mine, Carol also had her day in the sun. She appeared on a morning talk show in San Francisco a number of years ago. Unbeknownst to Carol, her daughter entered in a contest to receive a complete makeover on the air. Along with four other entrants her daughter’s letter won. Although a lovely looking woman, Carol was holding firmly to the Cleopatra hairstyle worn since her eighth grade graduation. Her daughter believed it was time for a change. Carol, a feisty Italian girl, not the least shy of the camera nor hesitant about speaking her mind, agreed to appear. After a briefing from the production manager, the winners were herded on stage in their “before” visages. The show’s host solicited a brief bio from each participant. Introductions made, the participants were then ushered back stage to let the magic begin.

Each winner was assigned a stylist, makeup artist, and hairdresser to aid in effecting their amazing transformations. As Carol tells it, the outfit chosen for her got a thumbs up, the makeup artist did an outstanding job, but the poor bugger from Vidal Sassoon assigned to update her “Cleo-do” had bitten off far more than he could chew. Every time the man approached Carol’s head with a comb and scissors she deflected his hands like a judo master after a double espresso. A half an hour into it and no progress noted, the frustrated stylist stormed out of the studio vowing never to return again. On cue, the revamped participants returned to the stage. Carol entered at the end of the line. “Before” pictures were posted on the screen next to images of the “after” live shots of the now transformed participants. The first four reflected dramatic changes in each person’s look. Arriving at Carol, other than the outfit and a little mascara, she appeared to look exactly the same in the first picture as she did after the makeover. Undaunted, she happily waved at the camera.

Fame perhaps is not for everybody. Look at the headlines over the years following the downfall of rock stars, athletes, and movie stars once they grabbed the gold ring. Again it goes back to the premise, it’s not what happens to you in life, but how you handle what happens to you.

I often think of J.K. Rowling, down on her luck, a small daughter to raise. Out of money and nobody to help her she sat in a coffee shop every day and penned her first Harry Potter book. Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix, I would suppose. What an amazing rise that must have been for her, going from relative obscurity to having the public spotlight shining directly on her. It seems, outwardly at least, she has managed the transformation and all it embodies with grace and style.

Lately I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to be when I grow up. Most of my adult life I’ve worked, taken care of my children, been a wife or a girlfriend, but now, with retirement looming somewhere down the road I turn my thoughts to what I would like to do for the rest of my life. Truly I am thankful because I am rarely bored. Most days I find life offers up new things to think about or to explore and my mind still eagerly looks forward to doing exactly that. My rock stars days are behind me now so loftier thoughts are in order for the future. It’s kind of exciting to contemplate. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

This Russian dressing is my absolute favorite.  What I have left over I drizzle on a wedge of iceberg lettuce and garnish with some grape tomatoes and cucumber slices.  Yum.

Reuben Sandwiches with Tangy Russian Dressing

8 slices rye bread
1/2 lb. corned beef, very thinly sliced
1 cup sauerkraut, wrung dry of liquid
8 Swiss cheese slices, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter, softened
Russian dressing (recipe below)

Butter one side of four slices of rye bread. Place buttered side down on a griddle or large frying pan. Slather top of each slice with about 1 Tbsp. of Russian dressing. Distribute the sauerkraut evenly among the sandwich bottoms. Top the with corned beef and then Swiss cheese.

Butter one side of the tops of the four remaining slices. Turn over and slather another 1 Tbsp. of Russian dressing on the inside. This step is a bit messy. Place dressing side down on top of sandwiches in pan.

Heat over med-high heat until bottom is golden brown. Gently turn over and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown. Turn heat down to med-low and continue cooking until cheese is melted and gooey. Serves 4.

Tangy Russian Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp. catsup
1 Tbsp. minced yellow onion
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hr. to marry flavors.

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Photo by Susie Nelson

Photo by Susie Nelson

I’ve been gone for a while concentrating on finalizing the deal for a house we were interested in.  This is not my first rodeo with regards to home ownership so I knew what to expect when it came to paperwork. Still, either I’ve gotten older and my memory fading or obtaining the deed of title comes with even more red tape today than it did fifteen years ago.  Plowing through the mounds of signature pages and initials, each day we took a step closer to our desired goal. So sure were we that the loan was going forward I lined up movers, measured the rooms in the new house for furniture, and did everything but have our mail rerouted.  Even with all this preparation some little sniggerer in the back field of my mind kept wagging an index finger in my direction and saying “not so fast, Blondie”.  Not one to take excitement over the top until the ink is dry on the deal, I asked my friends and loved ones not to ask me to discuss details until I had keys in hand. In the end, this was a wisely placed request.

Cresting the last wave with land in sight, my agent announced she needed an extension to tie up all the loose ends with respect to the paperwork.  Could there be more paper work?  Really? I’d be surprised to find  a single tree left standing on the west coast after all this.  Assured an extension was SOP, or at very least a common practice in the house procuring biz, I signed the extension paperwork. “If God is willing and da creek don’t rise” the house was to be ours the end of this month.  Okay, I may have done a little jig at this juncture but still I held back on going completely ballistic.  So much time have we invested in finding this property, surely it was to be ours.  As I said, “not so fast, Blondie”.

It seems the seller’s agent was not privy to the SOP/common practice portion of the program and when she received the news of the requested three-week extension she let off a little steam herself.  Next thing we knew the seller’s agent advised us unless we met the original closing date it was sayonara pretty little home in the forest, hello rental.  Sigh.  As the loan paperwork couldn’t be completed by that deadline, I was asked by my agent if I had a friend or relative who was sitting on $200,000 they didn’t need for a few months because if so it was still a go.  Really?  Do I have enough fingers to count all the people I can think of who qualify under that statement?  Yes, and ten to spare.

I would be disgusted but that would be an upgrade from what I am feeling at the moment.  However, part of the wisdom which comes to you when you have some life miles behind you is you must accept those things you cannot change with as much grace and good spirit as you can muster.  My modus operandi when faced with a disappointment is to languish in a full day of self-pity. Generally this involves consuming more than my share of the chocolate and a Cadillac margarita with salt, possibly two.  Once done, I pick myself up, grab a firm hold on the baton and get back in the race.  To quote one of my favorite book titles by W. Mitchell, “It’s Not What Happens to You, It’s What You Do About It”, kin to “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

Too trendy?

Too trendy?

This does present us with some interesting problem areas at this juncture, however.  Mainly, our house here is sold and although I’m sure it’s nothing against us personally the buyers are resistant to us homesteading with our two cats and mountains of boxes while we find suitable replacement digs.  Some people are so self-absorbed.

Tomorrow I will go out and begin to search for a rental to keep the rain off our heads.  Our two felines may have to sneak in wearing big glasses, moustaches and bushy eyebrows to avoid detection, but for enough cat treats our two pirates would pose as lhasa apso’s.


Life sometimes will not cooperate when you most wish is to. Perhaps if the universe keeps throwing roadblocks in your pursuit of a goal, you come to realize down the road a piece there was a reason for such diversion.  Thus, I have stowed my pity pot beneath the bed for the time being, and am facing the world bravely, rental application in hand. Wish me luck!

Oh, I’m full of quotes today, or full of something.  Like this one as well.

With money you can buy a house, but not a home. With money you can buy a clock, but not time. With money you can buy a book, but not knowledge. With money you can buy blood, but not life. With money you can buy sex, but not love. So what can you buy with money???  – Prem Rawat.

I love this combination of vegetables, two of my favorites.

Glazed Brussel Sprouts and Carrots

2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 large shallot, minced
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
3 carrots, peeled and sliced in 1/2″ pieces
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

Place brussel sprouts and carrots in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 8-10 mins. until crisp tender. Drain and set aside.

In large skillet melt 1 Tbsp. butter over med-high heat. Add sliced onion and cook until onions are translucent; about 5 mins. Add shallot and cook for 2 mins. until fragrant. Add orange juice to pan.


Add 1 Tbsp. butter and vegetables to pan and add brussel sprouts and carrots.


Cook for 3-5 mins. over med. heat until lightly browned, turning often. Stir in cider vinegar and maple syrup. Cook for 3 mins. or until brussel sprouts are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

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Photos by Susie Nelson

Photos by Susie Nelson

Recently I read some Chinese girls if still unmarried in their late twenties are renting boyfriends from online shopping sites in an effort to keep their traditional parents off their backs about being late in tying the knot. This, I find to be an interesting concept.  For $48.00 you get the basic boyfriend package. An appropriate kiss can be added for a few dollars more. “Find a niche market opportunity, exploit it, then reap the benefits while at all times searching for your next niche to enter, move to make, and edge to employ.” – Ryan P. Allis, entrepreneur.  Somebody out there read that quote and had their Tom Terrific thinking hat on. (For those of you who are scratching your heads thinking “who the hell is Tom Terrific”, he was an early animated cartoon character who put a funnel on his head to enhance his thinking capacity.  I have since tried this and am sad to report did not see significant improvement. I still put the ice tea pot in the cupboard and find the skillet in the refrigerator from time to time.)tomterrific-01

Actually this concept could be fraught with opportunities. Renting a baby, for example relieves you of all that after pregnancy reshaping, or perhaps even twins if they run in your family. Whole family packages might be available including photos and family histories.  Uncle Joe could be in County, Aunt Mavis still selling eggs in Arbor Tree, Arkansas.  A well-rounded life for the price of a theater ticket. I like this.  My life would have been far less complicated had I rented instead of opting to purchase outright.

Recently a friend of mine, on her own for the past eight years, decided to dip her toe once again in the murky depths of the dating pool. As is the custom these days, she chose to begin her search on an on-line dating site targeting the over fifty set.  Having met my other half on such a site, she came to me for pointers on where to start.  First, I suggested, “be honest”.  Do not post that favorite picture of you in the blue taffeta number with shoes dyed to match taken at your senior prom.  Also, when composing a profile speak to your true likes and dislikes otherwise you’ll both be disappointed. First encounters while dating often don’t reveal a real glimpse into our day-to-day personas. However, eventually who we really are is bound to surface, and if we try to be something other than ourselves the relationship is surely doomed to failure. Saying you adore roughing it in the woods when your idea of roughing it is a day spa without guava aroma therapy is a really bad idea.  Trust me, this will not serve you well. In particular should you attract the attention of an avid outdoorsman whose idea of the perfect woman is a natural gal who can hike 14 miles up the side of a mountain, kill a deer, dress it and cook it on a spit, when up until that juncture you honestly believed meat actually was produced behind those metal doors in the meat department at the supermarket.

Over  time I have suffered through many abysmal first dates, some my fault others simply freaks of nature.  There was the time I was driving in San Francisco with a lovely man I’d recently met on the way to a local theater and a late dinner.  At a corner turning right a large bee buzzed in front of my face.  Those of you who read regularly might know that you could put me in a room with alligators and I’d manage to stay calm, but add a bee to the mix and I’d beat the gators to death trying to get out of the room.  I digress.  At any rate while he was looking left for oncoming traffic, Susie exited the vehicle and when he turned around he found the passenger seat vacant and me standing on the corner illuminated in his rear view mirror.  A Friday night it took him about a half an hour to get back to me and needless to say although he saw the humor in the situation once I explained, I don’t believe he ever got over viewing me as a mental case.  Sigh.

I’ve been out with men who discussed their ex’s from the first drink to paying the check, those who discussed themselves for the same length of time, then asked me for my opinion of them on the drive home.  It is a dicey business this finding a mate, and you need tenaciousness and a sense of humor to muddle your way through it.   There are those you know instantly will never be a fit, but they haven’t gotten the same message and visa versa.  The awkward moment at the door when you are frantically trying to think of excuses to go inside and he is frantically trying to figure out how to kiss a moving target.  You have to take the good with the bad if you’re willing to throw yourself into the fray, that’s all there is to it.

Another tip is that even if a data site matches you with compatible matches do not for a minute believe that is based on any amazing scientific premise, and look at those people who interest you.  When I met my other half I believe I was number 207 on his provided list of suitable matches, and we had as much in common as a wildebeest and a garden snake.  Nonetheless we sorted through the chaff and found one another.  To this day we still have nothing in common, but make each other laugh most days and our differences make life challenging and interesting and our commonalities, makes us friends.

Sooooo, happy Valentine’s Day to all.  This is a great recipe. Looks lovely on the plate, isn’t too time consuming, and tastes delish.

Asparagus and Archichoke Linquine

1 lb. linguine (fresh is preferred)
4 oz. pancetta, diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. box of frozen artichoke hearts
1 lb. fresh (thin if possible) asparagus spears, cut in 1″ lengths diagonally
1 1/2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup reserved pasta water
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain reserving 1/8 cup of pasta water.

In large skillet saute pancetta over med. heat until crispy, about 7 mins. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel.


Increase heat to med.-high and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to pan. Add artichokes and cook 3-4 mins. stirring frequently. Add cut asparagus. Cook for 3 mins. Add lemon juice to pan and scape to dislodge any brown bits on bottom of pan.


Reduce heat to medium and add cream and reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins. until slightly thickened. Stir in parmesan cheese. Cook for 3 mins. Add pancetta, parsley, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Toss with pasta and serve with additional cheese.


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chille relleno

Last weekend was a busy one. Not much time to put my feet up and enjoy the Sunday paper.  Saturday night Rick and I took ourselves out to dinner, something we haven’t done in a while.  January hit the ground running this year. Fully charged with kinetic energy it seemed to pick up speed with each succeeding day.  Feel like I’ve been run over by a riding lawn mower, pieces of me scattered all over the state.  I’m hoping February will be featuring a bit tamer fare on its schedule of events.

It was the perfect night for date night.  Nothing was defrosted for dinner as I spent most of the day cooking for Super Bowl the following day. Hungry, going out seemed like the perfect plan. As beautiful an area as we live in, the downside of living here is all the excellent restaurants in the area are at least 45 minutes from home.  Now, I understand this is not a trip requiring hotel reservations or luggage, but when you’re of a mood to run out and grab a quick bite, the drive can be enough of a buzz kill to encourage you to take something out of the freezer, put your feet up, and forget the whole thing.  On Saturday, however, we were determined.

Our restaurant of choice doesn’t take reservations.  Located in the midst of a college town, it is mostly staffed with college students, as well as largely populated with same.  Knowing there would be a wait on a Saturday we drove in early. Even at that, we found ourselves waiting outside with a pager placated by the usual promise from the perky hostess of a “15 minute wait”. Not being our first rodeo we knew this meant our table would be ready closer to 40, which it was.

Super Bowl pre-partiers in the bar swelled the noise decibels to a notch above the sound barrier.  Seated by the kitchen, servers behind our booth carrying empty trays into the kitchen screamed “corner” at the top of their lungs as they passed by to avoid a mid-air collision with those coming the opposite way trays loaded with food.  Needing libation at this point, I signaled for a vodka and tonic with a twist and one was provided.

Two waitresses approached our table, one a trainee it was explained, the second the trainer. Having owned a restaurant I have infinite patience with new employees, knowing first hand how difficult those first days can be. New hires must memorize the menu offerings and prices, make themselves knowledgeable about the ingredients in each dish, all the while becoming familiar with the kitchen and staff dynamics and whatever restaurant geared computer system is in place. Stir this in a pot with first day jitters and missteps are generally unavoidable. Rick ordered the huge steak topped off with an equally large marinated mushroom depicted in the cardboard ad on the table. I ordered the steak and seafood special. Yum.  A teetotaler, Rick ordered a soda plus several appetizers to share.

After about ten minutes, our appetizers arrived.  Across the aisle from us was a family with three children. No food evident yet to distract them, all three apprentice monsters were actively engaged in sending their parents to an early grave.  The youngest disappeared and reappeared beneath the table every minute or two like a Jack-in-the-Box on steroids while the two older ones were fully immersed in seeing how many pieces of bread could be lobbed at one another before their father flicked them on the head.  Seated in the middle was an older woman who I assumed to be the grandmother guzzling a beer as if she had five minutes to live and this would be the last malt liquor she’d ever taste.  “Corner”, I heard as another waiter passed, immediately followed by a deafening crash.  Hmmm, a glitch in their highly sophisticated system.

Thankfully, Rick and I are rarely short of conversation because I believe I celebrated a birthday before dinner arrived.  In the meantime our trainee stopped by to refill Rick’s soda, unfortunately with the water pitcher, and clear our dishes. Fighting over scraps of bread on the table, our eagerly awaited meals were placed before us.  Mine appeared exactly as shown on the menu. A skewer of perfectly cooked scallops and seasoned shrimp nestled in a bed of seasonal veggies seated next to a juicy steak with a fully dressed baked potato.  Rick’s dinner was also the same as pictured, except for the steak.  The steak in the photo was thick, plump and juicy. The one resting on his plate looked more like the sole of a well used all-weather boot. It was about 1 1/2″ thick and was oddly corrugated.  Cutting into it, the reportedly medium rare meat didn’t show a hint of pink.  A crook of Rick’s finger in the server’s direction signalled this wasn’t going to work, wasn’t going to work at all.

After being inspected by our ladies in waiting, it was determined this was not as ordered. Apologies were issued and the plate was dispatched to the kitchen for rework.  Moments later the restaurant manager, John, a young nervous looking type already combing over his rapidly dwindling hairline, arrived at our table.  After profusely apologizing he assured Rick his reworked meal would be out in two shakes of lamb’s tail (in this case cow’s tail) and insisted on providing a dish of clam chowder compliments of the house.  Yea.

Insisting I eat before mine got cold, I dug into my dinner. I didn’t enjoy it as much knowing Rick didn’t have his, so offered him bites along the way.  The soup long eaten, and what remained of the oyster crackers having disappeared, no new steak had arrived.  Finally, the trainee came by to box up my dinner and Rick’s dinner was at last served.  Really?  This steak looked beautiful, plump and juicy as promised.  Cutting into it, unfortunately it was raw.  This was not going to end well. 

John arrived with a new apology at the tardiness of the recook, and the unfortunate fact that they hadn’t, in fact, cooked it at all and offered to comp Rick’s meal.  Rick thanked the man and explained we had owned a restaurant. As an FYI, he thought John should know the first steak served was not anything like the one now sitting on the table, but looked more like one you might pound, bread and cover with gravy. Rick was not slated to work for the diplomatic corp.  After some deliberation John, obviously having nothing else to bring to the table, came up with the explanation all cows are not constructed equally so it is this lack of continuity that probably led to the problem.  This, of all things during the evening besides the company, made the dinner worth the drive.  I must remember that the next time I get an odd-looking hamburger.  Perhaps the meat came from one of those dreaded non-uniform bovines.  Words to live by.

Chile Rellenos


6 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. sea salt

Puree 5 of the tomatoes, onion and garlic in food processor. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over med. heat. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomato, and diced chiles and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.


6 poblano chiles
3 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
4 large egg whites plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
All-purpose flour

Place chiles 1/3 of the oven below the broiler on cookie sheet covered with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Turn frequently until charred on all sides. Place in resealable bag and close. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to steam. Remove the skin.

Make a horizontal slit across the top of chile below the stem (leave stem intact). At middle of slit slice lengthwise down to the tip of the pepper. Splay pepper and remove seeds. Discard.

Place the cheese in a bowl, then add the oregano, crumbling and rubbing it with your fingers to release its flavor. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Fill each chile with about 1/4 cup cheese mixture. Fold in the sides to cover the filling, then thread 2 toothpicks across the seam to form an X. You will probably need to make a second toothpick X to secure each chile so the filling doesn’t leak out when you fry.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the egg yolk and beat 3 more mins.

Heat 1″ vegetable oil in a deep skillet over med.-high heat.

Place flour in a shallow dish. Season well with salt and pepper. Dredge peppers in flour.

Holding peppers by the stem dip into egg batter, allowing excess batter to drip off.

Cook in batches of 2, turning once until golden brown, 1-2 mins. per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with warm sauce.

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Holidays 368My dear friend Pattie, actually more like the sister I never had, made this recipe from Mike Roy’s cookbook for me back in the nineties for Christmas dinner at her house. I am sending her verbatim letter to me.  Literally this was the best stuffing I have ever eaten.  We lost and found this several times and in desperation I searched the Internet unsuccessfully for it.  It is just so excellent that I wanted to leave this with you as I’m off to enjoy my family leaving my tree to be enjoyed by our newlywed house sitters who most likely won’t notice it has lights on it. With everything going on in the world recently I feel doubly blessed to be able to see the faces of my loved ones across the dinner table.  Have a safe a happy holiday season full of love and cheer!


Select a fresh, plump turkey allowing about one pound for each serving.  If you are using a frozen turkey, try to allow it to thaw about four days in the plastic container in the refrigerator.  It will thaw overnight at room temperature.  If you are stuck with a real emergency, run tap water over the turkey in the container.  The neck is usually found in the body cavity and a package of giblets usually under the neck flap.  Put these in a 3 quart sauce pan.  The idea of this is that each time we season the dressing, we will add some of the seasoning to the giblets and neck from which we will make a stock for our gravy.  With half of a lemon rub the inside of the bird thoroughly and sprinkle with salt, pepper and monosodium glutamate.

Now, we start THE DRESSING.  We will allow about a cup of dressing for each pound of weight on the turkey.  The recipe ingredients are for a fourteen pound bird and you may increase or decrease the following.

8 cups stale toasted bread cubes about half-inch square

3 cups corn bread, diced and crumbled (I  use: 1 box Aunt Jam cornbread mix)

¾ pound butter (not margarine)

2 cups onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

½ cup parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

2 tablespoons herbs (for those of you who are old-fashioned sage and savory lovers…. Have at it….For myself,  I prefer mixture of thyme, sweet basil and rosemary).

2 cups fruit  (I vary this, using the diced fruit such as apricots, prunes and apples one time and pineapple and mandarin orange sections another time). SUSIE  I  ONLY  USED APRICOTS…..  use whatever you want, canned, fresh or dried.


1/2 cup or more of Dry Vermouth  (this is  the secret ingredient, but be careful not to overdo the amount of vermouth)

Using one-half pound butter, saute’ the onions, celery and garlic until they are soft and transparent, but not brown.  Put three tablespoons of the vegetable mixture with the giblets….add the rest of the mixture to the bread crumbs.  Add the balance of the ingredients, remembering to add a small amount of each to the gravy stock.  When the wine has been added , the dressing should be tossed lightly.  It should be reasonably dry and if your taste indicates a moist dressing, add water or stock.  Stuff the bird loosely with the dressing fore and aft.  Secure with skewers. Rub the skin of the bird with the remaining one-quarter pound of butter.  Place the bird BREAST DOWN in a rack in a open pan in a 275* oven allowing twenty-two minutes to a pound. Double check by inserting a meat thermometer at the point where the thigh meets the body and bring this internal meat temperature up to about 180*.  Allow enough time so that the turkey is done one-half hour before serving time.  When the bird is taken from the oven, place it on its back on a warm platter and allow it to set up for about one-half hour for ease of carving, saving the juices for the gravy making.  The giblets would be covered with water and slowly simmered for an hour and one-half.  The stock should be strained.  The giblets may be finely chopped and included with the gravy if so desired.


If there is any fat among the drippings, measure off about one-fourth of a cup and melt in a heavy pot.  Add 1/8 cup flour and 1/8 cup cornstarch and cook into the fat.  If there are any more crusty drippings in the bottom of the pan, add them at this time.  Slowly stir in the stock, bring to a boil, adjust for salt and pepper, seasoning to taste.  Add one tablespoon of tomato paste, 1/4 cup of red current jelly and again adjust seasonings.  If  a thicker gravy is desired, mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup water together and add, stirring constantly until the proper degree of thickness if reached.

Holidays 317

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