Bittersweet


Ten days ago I took the final photos of the house I originally built as my dream home. Events occur, life changes, new adventures await. Final photos taken from the patio, great room, and walkway to the barn of the house where I lived the last 13 years.

Now I am in The San Gabriel Valley in northeastern LA County house hunting. The trees here, the flowers, the succulents astonish. Purple jacaranda trees in full bloom line many streets. Yesterday evening while out strolling around the hotel grounds for some exercise, I saw the largest humming bird I have ever seen. I feel excited to start this new adventure.

Boxes and Handprints


This morning my house looked close to normal in spite of all the packing I had already done. I began with meditation, made coffee same as always, completed my yoga routine, ate some yogurt with walnuts. Normal ended there. I moved the car out of the garage, hiked to the gate and opened it, waited for the professional packers, figured it would take them two days. These two guys–twins probably in their 50s–are speedy. Even after getting lost and finally arriving close to ten and taking a lunch break, they have packed a lot of my life today.

Mom’s crystal, hand-painted dishes, Grandmother’s (whom I never knew) dishes, the silverware Dad gave mom on their first wedding anniversary, all the little painted china pieceds D’mitri made for me reside somewhere in these boxes.

These hold CDs and movies collected over a couple of decades, corn maiden Kachina dolls, a Navaho hoop dancer, Talavera pots, a Thai spirit house–so much of me.

I thought last night would be my last here, but I am staying tonight. All they have left to pack now are clothes, the TV, and this computer. They said they would leave this to last so I could still use it. It is a lovely evening looking down the canyon, a golden light hard to capture with an iPAD.

One of the hardest things to leave is D’mitri’s four year old handprints in the cement by the garage. He graduates from high school one year early on Friday. Yes, I will miss this beautiful setting, what I thought was my dream house, the canyon, the wildlife. Nevertheless, I am looking onward to new adventures in a new setting, making new friends, and seeing old ones more often whom I rarely see now.

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.