Moving–6, The End


Finally settled in my new home in San Dimas, CA. I finished hanging all but one piece of art and family photos this morning. In addition I discovered a new rose bush I had previously not noticed since it is among the constantly blooming oleanders. This makes rose bush no. 25 I think. What I thought was a lime tree is a lemon–now that some are turning the color of lemons. What others said was an apple tree is a pear tree. One tree is pomegranate and full. As to when to harvest, I remain clueless. Supposedly, another tree is mandarin orange but not sure yet. Flowers in bloom everywhere make my heart sing.

Because this area is not right next to the mountains, I thought probably no pumas or bears around. While we walked around the large lake in Bonelli Regional Park on Thursday, my neighbor informed me that both are here and related a story about a bear on the golf course–the back of my house adjoins a golf course, and someone watching a puma chase a bunch of coyotes. I have heard the coyotes sing more here than where I lived out in the country in Texas. The weather has been such that I have not used the heat or the AC yet. Next task is to learn the names of the birds I see here all the time. I know the raptors I have seen but not the little ones rapidly consuming something in the grass nearly every morning. Another change from the Panhandle of Texas is the absolute lack of wind. Right now no wind at all and when it is windy, it is like ten miles an hour or so basically a nice little breeze.

There is a rose bush here which just started to bloom. I had not even realized it was there. When I took this photo, it was not blooming.

Moving 5–Unusually Green


I finally arrived in California over a week ago. First leg of the journey was Amarillo to Flagstaff; second was from there to the San Gabriel Valley of CA. I have crossed New Mexico many times, have crossed Arizona as well six times since last November. Usually it is dry and brown even as recently as June. Not this time. Green all the way until I hit Barstow, California. The following photos were taken from the car as I drove I-40.

New Mexico

New Mexico–the entire drive the atmosphere was quite hazy. Not sure the cause–perhaps wild fires or the extra humid weather so unusual for New Mexico and Arizona as well.

Near Flagstaff which was super green and lovely. Morning there was quite chilly.

Near Flagstaff.

Finally, in the San Gabriel Valley in northeast LA County.

Moving 4–Bittersweet


Today I made the first leg of my journey from living in the Panhandle of Texas to living in the San Gabriel Valley in LA County, Ca. I have crossed New Mexico many times at various times of the year. I doubt I will ever again drive all the way across it again. One thing was very different this time, green. Usually, by this time toward end of summer, it is dry and hot. Not this time. Emerald green contrasting with the red rock outcrops proved quite lovely and dramatic. The green prevailed all the way to Flagstaff. The hottest temperature today along I-40 was 83 in NM and briefly a bit above 90 for a few miles in Arizona.

Just before I left my daughter’s house in Amarillo, I took a few photos. I have been going to her house for more than 18 years. My 17 year old grandson has spent almost his whole life there until a month ago. Will I ever return? Probably not. Nevertheless, the lovely memories of their life in this house will linger for the rest of my lifetime.

Moving 3–More Cooking with Paneer


As I mentioned in the previous post, I am left with one wok and one skillet. The wok seems to work better than the skillet for the sort of dishes I have been making. My previous Cooking with Paneer has been one of my most popular posts. Here is another edition of Cooking with Paneer.

For those who did not read the previous Cooking with Paneer post, paneer is a traditionally East Indian white cheese that does not melt when heated. It is a good source of protein for a vegetarian dish. I use it when a dish calls for tofu because I prefer it to tofu.

Here is a photo of my latest paneer dish.

The paneer in this photo is the white cubes. I sautéed chopped garlic, chopped onions, and purple potatoes in olive oil. Add whatever spices you prefer. Sometimes I use basil essential oil, sometimes the Ethiopian spice berbere. When these were tender, I added the broccoli and coarsely chopped poblano peppers. Saute just until these vegetables are tender but still bight green. Finally, add the paneer and saute just long enough so the paneer is heated through. Serve over rice or farro.

By the way, I did try the rice in a bag since I did not have a normal saucepan. I do not recommend it unless you are desperate for rice. It is extremely bland and boring.

Moving — 2 Cooking


For a few more weeks I am staying at my daughter’s house in Amarillo. A lot of stuff is packed and some of it is already in California. As a consequence I have to cook a bit differently. The usual pots and pans are gone. What is left is one skillet and one wok like pan. The other evening I decided to try one of my favorites anyway using the wok. It turned out great.

I chopped up some onion, garlic, purple potatoes, and Brussel sprouts. I poured olive oil in the pan, added the onion and garlic and potatoes. When they were almost done, I added bite sized pieces of chicken breast. When they were nearly tender, I added the Brussel sprouts with a touch of basil essential oil.

Since I had no pot in which to cook rice, I broke up some grainy bread into bite sized pieces, put the pieces in a bowl and poured the above over them. It was delicious.

Because I love rice but cannot cook it the usual way, I bought some basmati you can supposedly cook in a bag in the microwave. I remain skeptical about this but plan to try it tomorrow evening. I will let you know how that goes.

Moving — 1


In case you wonder where I have been, it’s called moving which can be both exciting and stressful especially if you are moving half way across the country. In my last post I posted the last photos of the house I had built and where I lived the last 13 years. In mid June I went house hunting in the San Gabriel Valley in northeastern LA County. Here are some photos I took while there.

This is the backside of Santa Anita Racetrack.
Downtown Monrovia, CA
Every Friday eve they block off this street and have a street fair with vendors and live music.

I did find a house but won’t be moving there until later in August. Meanwhile, here I am still in Amarillo, saying goodbye to friends, hanging out at my daughter’s house until it closes–she has already moved to CA, packing more stuff, reading books, and walking Athena, my standard poodle, to get enough exercise.

A tiny view of part of the yard of my new house. That is a lemon tree.

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.