Barbie Doll– a poem about my mother


Barbara Lewis Duke, pretty, petite, blue-eyed and blond, my

mother, one fearless, controlling woman. Long after Mom’s

death, Dad said, “Barbara was afraid of absolutely no one

and nothing.” They married late, 34 and 38. He adored her

unconditionally. She filled my life with horses, music, love,

cornfields, hayrides, ambition. Whatever she felt she

had missed, my sister and I were going to possess: books,

piano lessons, a college education. Her father, who died long

before I was born, loved fancy, fast horses. So did she. During

my preschool, croupy years, she quieted my hysterical night

coughing with stories of runaway horses pulling her in a wagon.

With less than one hundred pounds and lots of determination,

she stopped them, a tiny Barbie Doll flying across the Missouri

River Bottom, strong, willful, free.

My mother many, many years later with Dad. I took a photo of a photo I have hanging in the hall–the sun reflecting in the windows.

Two Healthy, Easy Dishes for Dinner


Easy Asian Style Main Dish

I rarely measure, I often experiment, try new flavor combinations. To create this dish I sautéed several cloves garlic, coarsely chopped, in oil–I use olive for just about everything. I peeled and cubed 1/2 sweet potato and finely chopped approximately two tablespoons fresh ginger. I added these to the olive oil. When the garlic and sweet potatoes were tender, I added 1/2 coarsely chopped red bell pepper and several handfuls of baby bok choy which I had sliced into large pieces. When the bok choy was tender, I added peanuts and Thai sweet chili sauce. I served this over Jasmine rice.

Purple Cabbage with Poblano Peppers, and Garbanzo Beans

I had some left over cabbage and decided to create a new dish. Once again I coarsely chopped several cloves garlic and sautéed them in olive oil. When they were tender and slightly browned, I added coarsely chopped purple cabbage and poblano peppers, sautéing only until they were barely tender. To this mixture I added basil essential oil. Then I added the garbanzo beans. Do not add them too soon because it makes them mushy. I served this over conchiglie pasta from Italy.

Note: I use several essential oils in cooking–basil, fennel, lemon, cumin, thyme, rosemary, cardamon. However, they are intense so if using essential oils, use only a little, taste, then add more if necessary. It is easy to over do it.

For more recipes like this, see my most recent book, “You’re Gonna Eat That?!” It is filled with many simple pescatarian and vegetarian recipes.

STUFF


One of my fellow elementary school students from decades ago posted a quote on Facebook, the topic of which is STUFF. The gist of this is that STUFF rarely makes your life better, usually costs money, fails to contribute to wonderful memories, and provides little in the way of happiness. The timeliness of this post really hit me. Where have I been lately? Certainly not doing much blogging. In addition to working full time, my recent endeavors focus on getting rid of STUFF as in took 35 pounds of paper documents to the shredder and there is more to come, hauled one load of clothes I no longer wear to the shop for Downtown Women’s Center and another load is stacked up on a desk, gave 20 books to the school library and some to the local bookstore, lined up glassware from flower bouquets sent to me to take to the florist on Tuesday on way home from work, and I just got started. More boxes remain to attack.

How did I acquire all this STUFF, and more importantly why did I keep some of it for decades? Perhaps easier to haul it around than to address the problem. Some of it was so old, it even shocked me why I still had it. Now that I am done for today getting rid of more STUFF, I am going to take a walk in the sunshine and admire the yellow wildflower carpet beautifying my land.

Cooking with Paneer


Although I did know what paneer is–a white cheese originally from India, I had no idea what to do with it. At the last trip to the grocery, I saw it there with all the other specialty cheeses and said to myself, “Why not try this?” I’ve made India dishes of various kinds off and on for decades but never used paneer.

My first experiment resulted in this:

Here is the recipe: sauté 5 to 6 coarsely chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil (I know you should use ghee but I did not have any). Finely chop fresh ginger to equal 2 – 3 Tablespoons. Add to the garlic. Stir in garam masala or curry powder–I used some of both which I had on hand. Add paneer which has been cut into cubes. After the above were adequately cooked, I added coarsely chopped arugula and when it was wilted, I added frozen peas and continued cooking only until they were warm. I served it over basmati rice which I cooked while making the paneer recipe.

I made this a couple of days ago. Today I am experimenting with another paneer recipe I created. This time I will mix what I have on hand, chopped onions, carrot coins, chopped beets, paneer, and chopped poblano peppers. I will use the same spices as before.

Both these recipes are vegetarian.

Five Days: Tornadoes, Dust, Wind, 76, Blizzard


Hunkered down with two pillows–“Safe Place”??

Check TV to track tornadoes

It quits

Try to read, can’t

TV returns, tells me maybe safe

Tornados went east a few miles

Next day tan fog–dust

Wind, can’t stand up

Then spring, 76 degrees, birds sing,

sit on patio, sip tea.

Next morning, blizzard, wind roars,

no electricity, white out,

read by flashlight.

Electricity returns.

Thankful!

Quick and Healthy Vegetarian Dinner


This evening I needed to make something quick, easy and healthy with ingredients I had in the house. I covered the bottom of a skillet with olive oil, added some chopped onions and sweet potato. When they were tender, I added chopped red bell peppers, poblano peppers, and arugula. When the arugula was wilted, I added walnuts and great northern beans and basil essential oil. I served this over farro.

I never cook farro like the directions on the package. I find the result boring. Here is my method. Cover the bottom of a saucepan with avocado oil. Saute one cup of farro in the oil for a couple of minutes at high heat. Add three cups of water and some roasted garlic bouillon. Turn down to a lower heat so that it is boiling slowly. Cook for about 1/2 hour. Add more water if needed. I always cook it down so I do not have to pour off any of the broth.

Winter Wonderland


It has not reached a temperature above freezing for six days. One night it broke the low recored set in 1895. It dropped to minus 11. The old recored was minus 6. While a lot of the rest of Texas had no power, where I lived had only rotating short blackouts occasionally. At my house, there has been no outage. Not only has it been cold but also snowing. The last two says shout out winter beauty. The first few photos I took yesterday. Then it snowed another 3-4 inches and I took more photos this morning.

I took the above photo early this morning. The following photo was also taken this morning.

Reflections–Old Year, New Year


Most 2020 goodbyes ring with epithets on the horrors of 2020. I object. 2020 brought bad, yes, mainly due to Covid 19’s effects on the lives of masses. It also enlightened us:

-staying home makes cleaner air.

-staying home increases home gardening and thus healthier eating.

-staying home leads to a slower, more thoughtful life, to extra time with family.

-staying home reconnects us with ourselves.

2020 lead to positives that have nothing to do with Covid 19:

-increased awareness and concern for the lives of others different from ourselves.

-increased awareness that discrimination and brutality among our police exists and we need to fix it.

-increased awareness of the ever growing income gaps in our society.

Covid 19 did bring:

-an increased awareness of the impacts of any pandemic and that we must prepare ourselves because there will be more.

-an increased appreciation of essential workers and their roles in our everyday lives.

-an increased appreciation for nurses and doctors and other health care workers.

Spring will come,

flowers will bloom,

birds will sing.

Yesterday, I heard Bishop Michael Curry speak on national news. I will close with one sentence which remains with me:

“Love is a commitment to the Common Good.”