February Food

10 02 2016

I love to cook good food.  I love to look at photos of beautiful food. I really love to eat good food.

So, when a few days ago, I saw a photograph of an interesting dinner offering – a wintertime beauty pageant of yellow squash with a stuffing of porky goodness – from a restaurant that is too far for me to visit, I was dismayed. I knew I had to eat that dish, but there was no recipe with the post

. . . so I did what any self-respecting foodie-glutton-pretend-chef would do . . .

I created one.

Nothing makes a delicious dish taste better than to serve it on a fabulous handmade plate. One of my favorites is by the beautiful and kind Christy Knox http://www.christyknox.com/ , so even if you’re not a fan of this kind of food, I trust you’ll enjoy perusing the gorgeous pottery at this link.

Here it is, my recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash with Sausage Stuffing and Port and Apple Cider Glaze. I just polished off a plateful and the dishwasher is humming (as am I.)

 

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Butternut Squash with Sausage Stuffing PKL                                       2 servings

One small butternut squash, halved, seeded; cavity ends cut to two bowls and two rings; neck peeled and cut into 1” chunks

Roast squash, drizzled with olive oil and lightly salted, at 400° for about 40 minutes, until tender. While it’s cooking, make stuffing and glaze.

Stuffing:

½ c          chopped onion

2t            olive oil

¼ c          dried cranberries

¼ c          apple cider

¼ t          thyme

¼ lb        breakfast sausage

1 slice    white bread

 

Sauté onion in olive oil to soften. Add cranberries and cider and reduce to almost syrup. Set aside.

In same pan, crumble in sausage and cook through, over medium low heat. Return onion mixture to pan and add thyme.

Tear bread into rough ½” pieces. Put in oven (while squash is cooking) to dry out for about 6 minutes. Set aside until squash is done.

Glaze:

¾ c          apple cider

2T           port

1t            honey

Reduce cider over medium heat until it reaches a syrupy consistency, swirl in port and heat to a simmer. Swirl in honey and hold sauce barely warm until time to serve.

When squash is tender, add bread to sausage mixture and cook, tossing, over medium high until it takes a little color. Cut the squash cubes into small dice and mix into the sausage mixture.  Place one ring and one “bowl” onto plate. Fill with sausage mixture.  Drizzle with glaze.

Admire your work for twenty-seven seconds. Devour with gusto.

 





If I Were a Groundhog

3 02 2016

Cabin fever and caucuses have conspired to make me a little bit crazy. Since looking at the real political news is depressing and watching  Punxatawny Phil was promising, here’s a little mid-winter mash-up, featuring the ten “still in it” candidates for POTUS.  I’ve arranged them alphabetically, in the name of fairness, of course.  It’s just coincidence that Trump is on the bottom of the list.

It’s February and each of these folks would like you to vote for them, so let’s see what they predict based on whether or not they see their shadow.

Jeb! Bush sees his shadow and predicts six more weeks until he gets another new campaign slogan.

Dr. Carson doesn’t look for his shadow; he just stays asleep.

Chris Christie’s shadow creates mass panic until Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains that it is NOT a total eclipse of the Universe.

Hillary thought she saw her shadow, but it was just the cloud of suspicion created by the email server issue.

Cruz sees his shadow and points and shouts, “See! I DO have a friend!  I DO Have a friend!”

Fiorina just can’t get out of the shadow of the other candidates.

John Kasich’s shadow is just annoyed that no one is paying it any attention.

Rubio does not see his shadow because his dazzling youthful smile just lights up every dark corner.

Sanders promises that everyone will have a free shadow and he’ll raise taxes on the sun to force compliance.

Trump sees his shadow and noting how dark it is, promises to have it deported.

Simon and Newt, who are not quite groundhogs but are very opinionated, approve this message.

2-3-16





(Don’t) Help Me, I’ve Fallen

27 01 2016

A few days ago, my eight-five-year old mother called to tell me she was alright, but she had “done something stupid.” She would not have told me at all, but she was developing a shiner and she knew she could not keep it from me, so she had to confess her recklessness.

My mother LOVES the telephone. She is bound and determined to never miss a call. So, when her phone rang, she leapt from her Sunday afternoon nap-during-football, to answer it.  Unfortunately, when she lowered the footrest of her recliner, it caught the blanket she’d had at her feet and, as she put it, she threw herself into the dining room floor!

To appreciate this fully, you must understand that my mom was laughing as she told me the details:

Phone’s ringing.

Wakes with a start.

Feet hit floor.

Right foot refuses to move.

Left foot refuses to move.

Face really wants to answer the phone, so it continues toward the ringing . . . and directly to the floor, where, I kid you not, she bounces.

By now, she’s howling with laughter at her own stupidity. She assessed the damage – glasses not broken, nose still in center of face, carpet free of blood and determined that, all in all, it was a pretty cool fall.  Her outlook on life, which I’ve likened to Monty Python’s Black Knight, led her to the conclusion that it’s pretty badass that she could still take a hit and get right back up and keep going . . . and going . . . and going . . .

I sure hope I can be like Mom. It’s not that she doesn’t fall.; it’s that she doesn’t need a helping hand. She does deserve a standing ovation.





Sometimes, You Feel Like a (Coco)Nut

20 01 2016

I love to cook. Baking (and eating) a real cake – NOT one from a recipe that starts “to a box of Betty Crocker, add . . .” – is pure buttered and sugared joy.  Out of (very little) respect for my and my husband’s waistlines, I try to restrict my cake baking to cake occasions; to bake one on a non-cake-occasion day would be a very wicked thing.

So, I am happy to report that tomorrow is my birthday.

Cake occasion!!!

Woohoo!!!

In years past, I have made myself German chocolate cake, hummingbird cake, peanut butter chocolate cake, pineapple upside-down cake (my dad’s favorite), to name a few. This year, it’s time for a three-layered spectacle of vanilla cake, infused with coconut milk, filled with coconut sweetness that seeps into each layer, and topped with seven-minute frosting that’s been coconutted to the nth degree.

I know lots of folks are not fans of coconut, but it’s not their birthday!  I’ll bake them something delicious from their flavor favorites when it’s their turn.

For tomorrow, though . .  .

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Happy Birthday to ME!





The State of Our Union is Wait . . What?

13 01 2016

My fellow Americans, I’d apologize for this, but you know me, so read on at your own risk.

Top Ten Things I Learned Watching the 2016 State of the Union Address and Republican Response

10. The two key speakers notwithstanding, politicians are, by and large, not a good looking bunch of people.

9.   Bernie Sanders’s mother should have made him sit up straighter.

8.   Although Marco Rubio’s been absent from the Senate for lots of votes, he sure didn’t miss a national photo op.

7.   That FLOTUS woman sure looked lovely.

6.   The event would be better with an orchestra to “play the speaker off” like they do at awards shows.

5.   I’d love to play poker with Paul Ryan.

4.   Obama gave the best/worst State of the Union Address EVER according to MSNBC/Fox.

3.   Both the President and Governor Haley called for rejecting the hate-filled bigoted rhetoric that is the hallmark of a certain  Republican candidate. Alas, his supporters were all watching re-runs of The Jersey Shore and 19 Kids and Counting (until they run out of fingers and toes).

2.   If you were to combine the blink rates of Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley, you’d arrive at something approaching normal.

1.   Regardless of the words he’s saying, President Obama still talks pretty.





If You See Something, Say Something

6 01 2016

We are all too aware that the world is a very dangerous place and that we must be vigilant in our attention to any little thing that might be a sign of something bad about to happen. We are exhorted by placards, public service announcements, and the 24/7 news media to report suspicious activities, things, or people . . .

If You See Something, Say Something.

YIKES!

There’s no question that we should look out for our safety, but that’s not enough.  We must look out for our sanity and our humanity. While we continue to survey our environment, by all means, be sure we see all of it, not just the stuff that scares the crap out of us.

See the beauty. It’s there; just look.

And then

– 2016 New Year’s Resolution –

When You See Something Good, SAY SOMETHING GOOD!

It costs us absolutely nothing to give a compliment, a round of applause, or a simple smile. There’s quite a return on investment, though; we get to feel better about ourselves and our world. Every kindness we do, no matter how big or small, puts more goodness into the world.

Who doesn’t want more goodness?

Happy New Year!

P.S. If you answered “me” to that last question, I hope it is because your world is just overflowing with so much goodness that you just could not handle another bit of wonderful! If there’s another reason, know that I am smiling warmly at you, right now.

Take that!1-6-16

 





Good Grief

30 12 2015

Here we are, about to turn out the lights on another year. For some of us, that means it’s closing time and we are heading home alone and forlorn. For others, it means we’re headed for a good night’s rest and a brilliant start to 2016. Some of us are just afraid of the dark.

I’d like to talk about the dark, just for a moment. It’s not something I often discuss, especially not here, with you, on Wednesdays, but I hope you will indulge me.

This has been a hard year for many of you, my friends. I understand, better than I want, how it feels.

Since losing my beautiful daughter in 2010, I have done my best to honor her brightness by celebrating life, by finding joy, by being happy.

I’ll bet you understand that.

I’m pretty good at it, but it takes a lot of energy. It is unsustainable without taking a short break, now and then, to honor Grief.

I’d like to tell you how I do that. I hope it might help you.

I can’t deny Grief’s existence, but I do not allow it to gallop wildly through the halls of my everyday life, so, in the mansion that is my heart, there is a room where Grief lives.

12-30-15 a

Grief is messy and dark and ugly, but I must look in on it, from time to time, to be sure it is not bothering its neighbors. The room where Grief lives has no chairs and certainly no bed in which to wallow, so my visits are brief. I feel Grief’s essence; I respect that it is alive in me; but I do not stay with Grief. I leave that room and close the door firmly.

This next part will sound mad, but here goes – Grief is good for us.

It makes us appreciate life.

There are times when feeling the depth of our grief is like shooting dangerous rapids. We are drenched, exhausted, half-drowned, but still alive.  We are sputtering and shaking, a bit disoriented, but still alive and we are reassured by this proof that Grief does not kill us.

Grief ‘s sole and important purpose is to remind us that we are fortunate to have known love and that more love remains to be given.

For 2016, I will, of course, renew Grief’s lease on the space it occupies, but I will continue to build beautiful joy-filled additions onto my heart with cherished old friends and family and ones I’ve yet to meet. You’re all welcome.

Peace and Love and Health and Joy.

Happy New Year.

12-30-15 b

 








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