Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November Thankfulness - 2012 Edition

I'm going to try this again -- a thankful posting each day in November.  And the first thing I am thankful for is that everyone who reads this blog understands me enough to know that it probably won't happen.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frozen Pea Soup

The better name for this recipe would be "Oh my gosh, it's Market Day again and I need to clean out the freezer to have room and this time I have 6 bags of frozen peas" Pea Soup.  Cause that's how this recipe was invented last night.

Frozen Pea Soup

(Those are cookies, not soup crackers.  I realize that my last post was all about my joy in being married to Clay, but part of our joy is being slightly snarky with each other -- jabs about my height and general messiness, his intensity and ability to nap anywhere.  The fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookies in this picture have nothing to do with the soup, but everything to do with the fact that while he is enjoying the food in India, he is longing for a hamburger and other American favorites.  And might just read this blog post . . .)

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 pound turkey smoked sausage, diced
1 bag Market Day frozen peas ( or 1 lb. any frozen peas)
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup low-fat evaporated milk (which sort of tastes like cream -- regular old milk works, too)

Heat oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Saute onion until soft; add sausage and cook until sausage has a little sear.  Remove sausage from the pot and add peas and chicken stock; cook until peas are nice and tender.   Remove about half of the peas to a blender (or to a bowl and use a stick blender) and add about 1 cup of the stock; blend until nice and smooth.  Return to the pot, add milk and sausage and cook until heated through.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I served this with a little dollop of sour cream (and cookies.)  Enjoy!


PS  I have some other soup recipes on the blog, if you look for the "soup" label.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Marriage for Everyone

Next month, Clay and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage.  Whew!

Seven or eight years ago, however, we figured out just how many days/weeks/months we had been apart, and I have to tell you, for a family that's non-military and non-long haul trucker, it was pretty amazing (or sad):  we had been apart more than 350 days.

I'm sure, if we tried to tally up again, it would A) be closer to two years and B) be nearly impossible to figure, since he has been gone so much more than he was when we counted the first time around.  (Plus, the things I'm involved in often take me away from home overnight, so I am also to blame.)

When he is gone, we do fine.  I know enough basic home/car/life maintenance that I can handle most everything (he's taught me well), or know when to call someone.

When he is gone, something wacky usually happens.  This time, I have already had a battle with the alarm clock, I have gone round and round with our bedroom ceiling fan (get it -- round and round?  How funny am I?) and our front door glass is broken AGAIN.  Bring on week 2!

(Watch out, it's about to get sappy.)

And when he is gone, I miss him.  Whether he is gone for a couple of nights to Canada, or for an extended trip to an exotic place, like his current travels in India, I miss him.

I miss him bringing my coffee up to my workroom every morning.  I miss him cleaning up my kitchen messes (I REALLY miss him cleaning up my kitchen messes!)  I miss hugs on the stairs.  I miss talking to him every day at lunchtime.  I miss sitting on the couch watching Bones and Amazing Race with him.  I miss laughing with him.  I miss everything about him, and long for the day he comes home.  He's my partner, my friend, my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, my co-parent and my butt kicker when I really need my butt kicked.  Being married to him is the greatest joy of my life.

I think everyone is entitled to that joy.

Where there is love, where there is devotion, where there is commitment, there is marriage.

It's fine with me if you don't agree with this -- I understand.
But to quote the cool kids, YOLO.  Find your joy and hold on to it.

Because love is love is love.
And peace is peace.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The closer it gets to election day, the more nostalgic I become for our family dinners in the '60's and '70's.  Those dinners would start out all lovey-dovey, with "Come, Lord Jesus . . . " , stringy roast and angel food cake, and devolve into debates enhanced by yelling, cursing and fist-pounding.   Although it scared me to watch the plates jump on the table and the silverware go crashing to the floor, I also found it thrilling to know that my dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles (who were, incidentally, all on the same side of the political aisle) were so passionate about politics.  And it became crystal clear clear to me who was right and who was wrong.

Right = Republicans, especially Richard Nixon.

Wrong = everyone else, especially George McGovern.

Following family tradition, I was once very passionate about politics, but not so much any more.  And things are never crystal clear to me these days.

But here's one clear thing: despite growing up with a signed picture of Richard Nixon staring down at me every time I practiced the piano, I grew a George McGovern heart.

He loved people.  He believed in protecting the environment.  He believed in equality for all American, regardless.  He believed that it was outrageous that any child in this country -- or anywhere -- should be hungry.  And he loved peace.  Unfortunately for his presidential campaign, around our family table -- and around the tables of most of America in 1972 -- loving peace and longing for an end to the Vietnam War suggested that he loved Communists, and was probably a closeted one, himself.

Nope.  He loved America, and wrote this in his last book, What It Means to Be a Democrat:  

"... this is the time for us to heal our nation’s rifts and to deliver on her promise as we see it: a republic that is good to all. It is not for nothing that I will go to my grave believing that ours is the greatest country on earth.”

That's my kind of guy.  Rest in peace, Senator McGovern.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cookies of Joy

St. Hildegard?
Many years ago, I attended a Benedictine-led workshop and consequently went through an intense St. Hildegard of Bingen phase.  

What's not to love about this 12th Century German Abbess?   Scholar, musician, herbalist, cookie baker, visionary, peace maker.  And earlier this month, on October 4, Pope Benedict named her a Doctor of the Church.  (Which, for all of you non-Catholic readers, is an honor given by the Pope to some extra holy saints whose extensive writings have remained relevant throughout the centuries.  She joins the ranks of the big guns -- Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas Aq. and my dear Little Flower among them.)

Clay and I recently went to the Ferdinand Folk Festival to hear one of our favorites, Colin Hay.  There, the Sisters of St. Benedict were selling their delicious cookies.  We had hoped for gingersnaps, but they were sold out, and one of the Sisters suggested we try the Hildegard cookies.  Oh my.  They were delicious -- spicy and comforting.  St. Hildegard said these cookies could "slow the aging process, create a cheerful countenance, lighten a heavy heart and release intelligence".  Well.  Who wouldn't benefit from a couple of those cookies?  

While I should support the Sisters and just order a case of cookies from them (as I am in great need of intelligence releasing lately), I thought I would try to make them up myself.  So, I did an internet search for recipes.  After several failed attempts, I found a recipe from the book From Saint Hildegard's Kitchen, which I think must be very close to the Ferdinand Sisters' recipe.  I also added a few comments of my own when my intelligence was released:

Cookies of Joy
Cookies and tea on my Aunt Edna's china tea set -- my dad had sent it to her when he was in Korea, and she gave it to me for a wedding gift.  Plus, the last of my St. Therese Day roses.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

12 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
4 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups spelt flour* (or whole wheat flour) 
1 teaspoon salt
2 rounded Tablespoons of "Spices that Bring Joy"

First, make your Spices that Bring Joy:  3 parts cinnamon, 3 parts nutmeg and 1 part ground cloves.  (I would suggest buying new spices if yours are more than 6 months old -- they lose some of their zip, you know.)  Mix well, and store in an airtight container for your next batch of cookies.

Melt the butter in a medium bowl.  When it is cool, add sugar, honey and egg yolks; beat lightly.  Add spelt flour and spices.  Mix well.  Divide the dough into two discs and wrap with plastic; place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  When chilled, roll out dough on very lightly floured board to about 1/4 inch.  Cut into round or rectangles and place onto parchment- or Silpat-lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching carefully, until golden brown.  (You want them to be crisp.)  After a few minutes, remove to cooling racks.  When completely cool, store in airtight container.  

*If you live in a little town like me where few know what spelt flour is, you can order it from King Arthur here.

Peace.  And joyful cookies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Driving me to post...

I love to drive.  More accurately, I love to drive my little car, now that it is home after 6 weeks in the shop.  And, after driving for more than 37 years with no accidents and only 2 speeding tickets (which I know surprises everyone who has ever ridden with me), I'm starting to get a little cranky with those who seem to think that driving is an assumed right, instead of a privilege given to those who learn how to do it correctly in conjunction with respect for other drivers.  Therefore, I think it is only right that I share my collected driving wisdom.  (And feel free to read all italicized and bold words with the sarcasm with which they were intended.)

1.  Use your blinkers.  Please?  Pretty please with cinnamon and sugar on top?  I shouldn't have to beg, should I?  The lever is right there, within your pinkie finger's reach, in case you were wondering.

2.  Turn on your headlights.  If you're not sure whether or not to turn on your headlights, turn on your headlights.

2b.  Another repeatable gem from my pal Denise:  If your wipers are turning, your lights should be burning.

3.  Quit following me so closely.  Life is not a NASCAR track, and you are not Tony Stewart.  Let me share my favorite section from Chapter 5 of the Indiana State Driver's Manual:  SAFE FOLLOWING DISTANCE.  And yes, I have been know to scream these three words from the passenger seat to various loved ones.  Because I love them.  And my life.

4.  Sit up straight.  The driver's seat is not a La-Z-Boy.

5.  Center yourself before you put the car in gear.  Fasten your seat belt, choose your I-pod playlist, secure your Polar Pop, comb your hair and stow your phone before you pull out of your driveway so I don't have to watch you do all those things at the stoplight.  And at the next stoplight.

6.  If, for whatever reason, you must drive a scooter on a major thoroughfare, perhaps it would be best if you would keep to the right.  I'm only going to say this nicely once.  Next time, you're going to get such a look.

7.  Be nice to the farmers.  Believe me, they are going as fast as they can to get to where they need to be.

8.  Pull over and turn on your headlights for a funeral processions.  Don't they teach this in drivers ed any more?

9.  You are not a good enough driver to smoke, talk on the phone and drive safely all at the same time.  But don't feel too badly about that -- no one is.

10.  Pay attention.    11.  Pay attention.  12.  Pay attention.

Did I miss anything?

Peace.  Now put down your phone and Polar Pop and drive safely.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Doing things, version 2.0

So, here's some stuff I've been doing.

Crocheting an acorn-collecting bag for Paul:

Paul loves to collect acorns on his hikes, but his mom gets embarrassed when he yells to other kids on the trails, "Hey kids, do you want to see my nuts?"  (I think I should probably note here that Paul is 4.)

Pattern from Roman Sock, found here.  I added the handle from a .50 Goodwill purse.

Going to sporting events:
Tommy and Nate both played football every Saturday morning this fall.  It was great fun watching them play -- Tommy is getting more aggressive and Nate is a speedster!

Sewing pillow cases:
Pillow cases are my new go-to gift for sick friends and family.  One side cool cotton, the other soft minkey fabric.  This one was for Griffin, after he had his tonsils out.

Rug Making:
Ever since I learned to make "yarn" out of t-shirts, I've been a little obsessed with crocheting a rug for the back porch.  Where, I will sit and relax once it is done.  I promise.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Doing Things. Always Doing Things

I've seen this around a lot lately:

On pinterest, in blog posts, on facebook.
And I have to say I'm guilty.

I'm busy all the time.

I accept "Oh, you are so busy!"  and "How do you get everything done?" and similar platitudes as praise.
I have made "Busy, Busy, Busy" my calling card and badge of honor.
Then, I wake up panicked in the middle of the night thinking about all the things I have to do.
I get busy, I get tense, I fall behind, I get stressed.


Apparently, I must like it that way, because I am having a terrible time trying to change.

What the hell is wrong with me?  Don't answer that. 

It's just that I am just interested in lots of things.
And I like to share the things I'm interested in.  I like to teach.  I like to help.  I like to do.

Ergo, doing=busy.

It's not such an awful thing, but I want to work on glorifying relaxation.  Peace.  Family bonfires. Naps.  Porch rockers.

But first, I need to finish a few things. . . .