God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Many of my friends cook light and whenever I have tried their recipes, they have been good—keepers so to speak. So, I decided to subscribe to the magazine. Having stopped almost all subscription, this was quite a deviation from the norm but a good idea. I have now tried 3 dishes from the current issue and all 3 were outstanding. I wonder if they will really help weight loss. Think? This was tonight's yummy.


Spice blend:
2½ teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon canola oil

1¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch slices
2 cups chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cut chopped yellow pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used frozen fire-roasted corn)
32 ounce fat free, less sodium chicken broth
28 ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
3 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 diced avocado
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

1. Combine 6 spice ingredients in a small bowl
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick soup pot over medium heat. Add chicken; sprinkle with 1½ tablespoon spice blend over chicken. Saute 8 minutes or until done; cool. Chop chicken and set aside.
3. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium heat; add onion, peppers, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt. Sprinkle vegetable mixture with remaining spice blend. Saute 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, corn, broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. (I just put it all aside and let it absorb flavors until dinner time.) Add lime juice when heating.
4. Prepare relish: combine chopped cilantro and next 4 ingredients through avocado.
5. Ladle soup into bowls; top with relish. Garnish with cilentro if desired.

8 generous servings

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Can You Wear a Crock Pot?

Of course not. Who would ask such a question?

I really would not have asked this question 30, 20 10 years ago. My all-knowing spouse and other family members would have made it unnecessary. They all knew that loving gifts did not include something belonging in the kitchen. Gifts that demonstrated caring did not come in boxes sealed with packing tape and industrial size staples. Proper caring, love based gifts were in order: unexpected treasures, clothes, jewelry, books and other well-thought out expressions of appreciation of me.

Gifts that packed a function were verboten. It took just one, maybe two years, of serious threat to marital bliss for this point to be indelibly made. Can openers, automatic hot dog cookers, electric skillets (do these still exist?), vacuum cleaners—anything that implied labor or work did not qualify as a gift—after all, how romantic is a veg-o-matic?

Over time, Ken became a pretty good personal shopper. As the years passed, fewer and fewer gifts necessity hitting after Christmas sales to exchange for something I liked or that fit or was the right color. As his fashion awareness matured, he began to do a pretty good job, particularly after discovering Nordstrom.

Now something bizarre has taken place. I want, must have, obsess over sharp Japanese knives, stew pots, zesters with different degrees of zesting potential, panini makers and the perfect spatula.

Additionally, there is no way I want someone else to buy clothes for me. Since I can't find anything I like, how could someone else? I have a very definite sense of my personal fashion persona but fashion has changed and nothing works anymore. At times I think that it may be my age that has changed but why should that matter? I don't feel any differently than I did a few decades ago.

So it is fortuitous that I have joined the cooking era where what used to be seen as drudgery has become creative challenge. Chopping garlic is soothing, balsamic reduction is heavenly, the perfect ragu is always the next time away, perusing cook books fascinates and "eating in" is not so bad. Shopping at William Sonoma, Sur La Table and Bed, Bath and Beyond is more fun than trying on clothes-- on most days.

Tonight we had simply marvelous Braised Short Ribs with Egg Noodles. I did them right, far better than I would have in the past. Simple food, prepared so well—and they will be even better tomorrow after resting. Good-Good-Good.