Reflection

Reflection

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tortilla Soup

I fixed a Mexican dinner over the weekend and tried three new recipes.  I think I was forgetting that is a bit crazy to do, especially for me but it all turned out well.  I was bone tired once I prepared all the dishes but I sat down with my afternoon Latte which revived me before the guests arrived.

I found this recipe online and would do it again as it turned out so tasty and the presentation is beautiful.  So here goes and hope you give it a try.



Tortilla Soup

1 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp. of chili powder
2 qts. of chicken stock
1 T. of lime juice
1 lime to serve sliced with finished soup
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 C. corn (if you can get fresh use that or use frozen)
6 corn tortillas, cut in strips  (use good quality homemade style) prepare ahead *
2 medium avocados, diced
Queso Fresco, for topping on the soup before serving
1/2 C. cilantro leaves

1.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft.

2.  Add the garlic and chili powder.  Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Then reduce to low.  Add the lime juice.

3.  Place the chicken breasts into the chili / stock and allow it to poach.  This will give it a delicious flavor.  Cover the pot and let the chicken cook until it is very tender.

4.  Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool.

5.  Raise the heat to medium, then add the fire roasted tomatoes (I mashed them before I put them in the stock) and the corn.  Cover and let them cook in the broth for about 10 minutes.

6.  Turn heat to low and let it simmer awhile, keeping covered.

7.  Shred chicken with two forks, keep covered and warm.

*Cut the corn tortillas into strips.  Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.  Bake in oven till crisp at 350 degrees.  Check so they don't get too brown

To assemble the soup.   Put some of the shredded warm chicken in each bowl.  Ladle soup on top.  Add the diced avocado on top along with the cilantro leaves and queso fresco and lastly the tortilla strips.  Squeeze some lime juice on top.  Enjoy!

***As a note:  I find that the soup can cool down while assembling so make sure you keep the soup real hot as well as keeping the chicken warm after shredding.  Have all the toppings ready to be put on.  Also one could add black beans to the soup which I might try next time. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Sunday here in Danville




What words when pictures say so much?  We had a dusting of snow and I have trees in blossom.

Enough...I just need to pause and look....

Come live with me and be my Love





The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
        Come live with me and be my Love,
        And we will all the pleasures prove
        That hills and valleys, dale and field,
        And all the craggy mountains yield.
  
        There will we sit upon the rocks       
        And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
        By shallow rivers, to whose falls
        Melodious birds sing madrigals.
  
        There will I make thee beds of roses
        And a thousand fragrant posies, 
        A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
        Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle.
  
        A gown made of the finest wool
        Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
        Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
        With buckles of the purest gold.
  
        A belt of straw and ivy buds
        With coral clasps and amber studs:
        And if these pleasures may thee move,
        Come live with me and be my Love. 
  
        Thy silver dishes for thy meat
        As precious as the gods do eat,
        Shall on an ivory table be
        Prepared each day for thee and me.
  
        The shepherd swains shall dance and sing 
        For thy delight each May-morning:
        If these delights thy mind may move,
        Then live with me and be my Love.
 

~ C. Marlowe~


What a week....we had a call from our daughter K.   I am all a flutter....our dear K. has told us that she and B. are to be married!  Oh what joy to my Love and I...












Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Fur Coat

For Allegra....because she stirred the visions and meandering thoughts several days ago....

                                                                         *******

We walked into I. Magnin's San Francisco past the perfume department to the rear where the elevators were.  A door opened, a gentlemen held the door saying "Going up" and we walked inside.  

"What floor ladies?" as he turned to those of us in the elevator.  Up the elevator went and at every floor as the elevator stopped he would say what was on that floor.  

We disembarked on the floor we wanted and I followed close on my mom's heels to where she led me.  We were greeted warmly by a nicely dressed woman.  My mother explained that she had been to a charity event and had bid on and won a fur jacket.  Yes, we were in the fur salon.  This was long before PETA began it's vocal anger towards those who bought furs and those who flaunted them when they wore them.  This was when a mink coat meant something, especially a full length one.

We waited in the large open area that was the fur salon.  There were white chairs and settee's to sit upon and an oval white coffee table with high end magazines on display.  Oversize windows looked out to Union Square.  There were short racks for items to be hung on but they were empty.

Another lady came out a side door greeting my mother.  The lady asked a few questions and made some small talk with us and then went back through the door.

The intent was that I was to be given the won fur jacket.  My mom did not know what it looked like but she thought it was youthful looking and would not be her style, hence the reason I was with her.  The last place I imagined myself was in a fur salon.  I always felt furs were for old women, wealthy older women like my mom, not someone barely in her 20's.  Still I found it intriguing enough to go along.


When the lady came out she held out towards us on a padded hanger a shaggy sheep jacket.  It was hideous.  My mom took one look at it and was quick to ask if it was possible to choose a different jacket.  The lady was restrained enough to not even give us a look that might have shown offense.  She was cool and polite.  She left us once again to speak to someone.  My mom and I talked amongst ourselves about the jacket that she left out on the rack for us to look at.  I would never wear this and felt like we should just give it to someone else.  No, my mom was not leaving till I had a respectable fur jacket.  


This time the lady came out and said that we could put this jacket towards another one.  Fine.  With that we were asked to sit down and she would bring out some items for us to view.  

I had no idea what I was in for.


The variety of fur coats came out and put on the rack.  I was asked to stand up and try them on.  I should say that I was asked to stand and they were put on me.  I have never had such a sensation as trying on fur.  At once it feels decadent but the lightness of them surprised me.  I had assumed they would be heavy.  The silky satin lining slipped on my arms and shoulders easily followed by the brushing of fur near my checks and on my neck.  Within seconds the warmth and unbelievable comfort of this upon my body made me reluctant to want to take it off.   I can't remember how many I tried on, maybe four but the one I choose in the end was a white fox dyed to look like a lynx jacket.  It was short, fun and I felt incredible in it.  I felt like a different person in it, not the girl I was before I came to this salon.


They said we could pick it up in less than a week after my initials were sewn inside.  Once I had this jacket I tried to wear it but where do I wear it?  I lived in a modest town with lower to middle class blue collar folks.  If any of the women in this town had a fur coat it was old and buried in the depths of their closet with moth balls.  When my Love and I went out I tried to wear it but even then I felt extremely out of place.  I wore it when we went to visit the parents until finally I just didn't wear it.  It was clearly not me.  

We have moved countless times and it is pushed to the back of the hall closet in it's protective cover.  What can I do with it?  I wouldn't get caught dead in it after I learned more about and understood the murder of poor little animals to make a fur coat.  No I couldn't wear it.  I thought of giving it to the Salvation army or to a homeless person in need of warmth but how would they be treated wearing fur?  Would a PETA representative harass them for possessing such a coat?  No, I couldn't do that to someone else.  And so it hangs in the dark with other wool coats I no longer wear that came from I. Magnin's before they went out of business.  


I am not a fur coat woman.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Middle Years

I have reached that point in life where it feels like the mid point of my existence.   I am no longer the child with someone holding my hand, fixing my food, bathing me, tending to my every need.

I am not the young girl playing hide 'n' seek in the neighborhood, climbing fences or trees, playing make believe and pretending , or day dreaming as I lay on my back looking up at the clouds as they flew across the sky.



I am no longer the teen holed up in my room playing loud music, keeping to myself and only finding friends are the ones I wish to hang out with and not my family.  I am not the teen riding my horse on long trail rides alone and in my thoughts wondering about my life and where it will go.


I am no longer 19, the age I was when I married.  On our own, fixing meals packing my Love's lunch, nesting our home, working as well as in college.   A lover, a companion.  Working together side by side on our first home with steel wool pads and paint brushes.  Carefree to do as we pleased.





I am not in my 20's giving birth to three adorable daughters, singing nursery songs, playing with dolls, pushing swings, tending to my family with a bursting heart of joy and overwhelmed at times of what I feel I do not do enough of for them.  Learning, every day learning what it means to be a mother and a wife.  Making a space for me to be alone where once again a horse comes into my days to ride, to groom.
I am not the woman of those days sleeping skin to skin curled up tightly to my Love as if he is all there is in the night to protect me, shelter me, adore me.  The breathing in and out as we lay in quiet with our hands touching each other whereas in the day mine are on our children...running my hands over their heads and through their hair, over a cheek of so soft skin, holding little hands, rocking little ones as I rub their backs cradled in my arms.

I am not the woman in my mid 30's.  Those years where my body craved another child in my womb.  The ache of not wanting to let go of that part of my womanhood.  The hope and the longing and at last the dream was fulfilled.  I was able to give fully into this child growing within me.  Rub my hands over my growing belly, feel the swimming and kicks of him.  My son that I could hardly believe I carried.  And when his day came to leave my swollen womb I cried because I knew that all this would be the last time.  All that led up to my great longing to hold him close to me, breath him in and I did.  Bliss had come.



I am not the woman of her 40's who finds her body going through the ups and downs of PMS.  The nights of sleeplessness, mood swings, weight gain from nowhere.  What does it mean when I don't know this body I have any longer?  The changes so slight yet obvious over those years of perimenopause.  Those years when the little things felt like big things, creating tension over any trial in my day.  The strain of losing Papa and attempting to sooth my mother who was bottomless with her demands.  Only my son gave me peace, only he gave me the illusion of my youth.   My Love braved my moods, he new when to let me be and when to give me his warm arms.  


Where am I now?  Menopause brings a lull...my womb silent, no longer a vessel to be filled with life.  I find this a relief and yet I want so much to do all of it over again.  In my dreams I sometimes give birth.  I can remember the feeling a a 'let down' of my breast, the tingle that comes before the release of my milk.  I can remember my children at my breast looking up at me with drowsy eyes, their fingers curl and uncurl or hold my finger in our quiet hour.  I can quiet the desire easier now.  I find myself looking at children remembering the roundness of a two year old's rosy cheeks.  The smallness of little feet and ticklish toes while I sang "This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home".   Reading a bedtime story curled up next to me tucked in their bed.  I do miss those times.   I have the urge to go up to mothers and tell them to absorb all this time with their children.  It passes all too soon, a mantra mothers past mothering say in tender voice. 

These are the days where my daughters are all grown up and away making their own lives.  They come in waves to see us and my Love and I feel that the older they become the less we see them and know them.  How can that be?  These are the days my teen son pulls back from my Love and I, not because he is mad with us but because he needs to become himself separate from us.  I miss and don't miss the teen years.  I want to still be needed.  I want to be a part of their lives.  I don' want them to come see us  because they feel they should but because there is something worthy in being with us.  I want them to understand that we cannot be exactly as we were because we aren't in some ways.  Our minds may not be as sharp, we may repeat, we may get tired more easily, we may forget.  We have much on our minds with the aging of our parents.  Life simply passes by faster with each day that greets us.  



I don't give in.  I may be in my middle years but I have much to still learn and to offer.  I may not be able to go back and be the younger version of myself but I may be the wiser more patient woman I could not be before.  It takes time, years to gain that privilege.  I am on a path of humility.  A path a woman of 50 takes is a path one doesn't wish to take alone.  I am amazed and feel so blessed that my Love and I are together after 34 years.  Our love bends and pulls to each other.  Our hands still find each other, entwined and comforted by knowing we will be here for each other through whatever comes our way. 

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