Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cookin'... from tomatoes to cake

I'm trying.  Really, really trying, to get back to normal at our house on the hill.

Last night I finally had the gumption that I had lost this week.  I started thinking about cooking and smiling.  Not that they always go together.  Really I just wanted to smile and be happy.  The heart may feel the lack of my Annie but I need to cheer up.  

What I wanted to make was Fried Green Tomatoes.  Mine are puny and not really perfect for this so I went and bought some Heirloom tomatoes that were green.  Thank you Lunardi's market for having some there!  I texted my daughter E. to see if she wanted to come over for dinner, highlighting the fact I was fixing Fried Green Tomatoes (she and I have a thing for them).  Darn if she had other plans.

Back home with full thoughts for dinner with my two men and here is the recipe via my sister by marriage.  

Fried Green Tomatoes

1/2 cup flour for dredging
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 fresh parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 4 green tomatoes, sliced 1/8 thick  
(depends on the size of your tomatoes, mine were the size of an apple)

Have three shallow bowls out (I used pie tins).  Put the flour in one bowl.  In the other bowl add cornmeal, parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper.  In the remaining bowl add 2 eggs and beat them.

Dip your green tomatoes ahead before cooking.  Take one tomato slice at a time, dip in egg, dip in flour, dip in egg and follow with dip in cornmeal mixture.  Repeat till all are done setting them on a paper towel in single layer.

Using a large frying pan add olive oil and heat.

Fry till golden brown on both sides.  Do not crowd pan.

My Love grilled salmon, couscous and those yummy tomatoes
Now my daughter E. and I have a restaurant called Pican we love that use to fix a divine Fried Green Tomato appetizer that had a Buttermilk dressing on it.  We tried to come up with something similar and found this nifty dressing:

Buttermilk Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken well
1/2 cup yogurt (greek would be ideal)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 T. white vinegar
1  1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth and evenly combined.

Drizzle this over your Fried Green Tomatoes and tell me if you don't think these two were made in food heaven.

Today I am making my mother by marriage her birthday cake.  She is 88 years young today!  I have a dandy recipe that daughter E. shared with my son and I.   However it tends to overflow my cake pans as it grows as it bakes and the batter is thin.   So I figure my pans are too shallow and use the one higher sided cake pan that opens on the side (wish I had two).  I guess today I don't have the bottom in right (upside down) and as soon as I have filled both cake pans I am seeing leakage.  To deal with this fiasco I put a cookies sheet underneath to catch the batter till it starts to set.  What else could I do?  Oh well.  My layers will be unmatched (on is deeper than the other by a good 1/4 inch) but hey there is a delicious frosting to go on top and know one will no but me....hopefully.

Wish me luck with the cake as I need to whip up the frosting now and make a salad to bring as well.

The sun is shining, the air is warm and life is good.  Annie would be with me laying on her doggy bed in the kitchen watching me cook, hoping for some tidbit to fall for her to eat.  Hope she has many treats to eat in doggy heaven!  Unlimited doggy biscuit bar.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wildflowers of the Rockies

The Columbine

Sweet Marie, here's a columbine,
The summer can surely spare it.
See!  Here's a delicate twig to twine,
To braid in this beautiful hair of thine.
Sweet Marie, here's a columbine
Take it, my queen, and wear it!

Waved by the wind in the summer time;
Wet by the summer showers;
Blown in the balm of this beautiful clime,
Over our head where the hills are rime;
Waved by the winds in the summer time
Fairest of forest flowers.

For I have brought you this boutonniere,
Plucked from the hills above you,
To weave in the waves of your beautiful hair,
Or wear in your breast where the love songs are.
I have brought you this boutonniere
Take it, because I love you.

~Cy Warman~  1892

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Memory of Annie

     Three days.  Three long days have passed since she left us.  I took Stewie for a stroll today on the Iron Horse trail hoping to meet some doggies for him to visit with.  Not many were on the trail but I let him sniff to his hearts content.  He didn't have his heart in it,  I could tell.  I thought of all the walkies and hikes we would all do and fondly held those times in the walk.

     This is hard.  I have so little gumption.   I need to write to move forward.

      Anyone who knows me knows how much my dogs have meant to me.  I know it is not a child I have lost or a relative.  A loving, loyal dog has left our home and I am in mourning.  I will move on and feel like myself again but for now I am taking one day at a time.  Trying to inspire Stewie who clearly is in mourning as well.   My Love and I feel drugged.  Lost.  Numb.  Empty.

     Annie.   Annie-Bo-Bannie.  Miss Annie.  Annie Girl.  Sweet Annie.

     Was I in denial?   She made it through the surgery.  Dr. Endo removed her spleen and two masses, one we didn't even know was there.  She came home the same day of the surgery in the evening.  She rested in her bed, we brought water to her which she drank.  She took her pain medicine the first night.  She went outside and peed.  Come morning she went outside, drank water, ate rice with broth and beef that I had cooked all the day before to make tender.  She rested and walked.  She looked worn out but she wagged her tail and gave us sweet puppy licks.  The next day she got up, had her breakfast, drank and went and did her doggie business.  She rested but also was up and walked a bit too.  

     That last night......we went out to dinner with good, dear friends and after came back and sat outside as it was a lovely evening.  These friends love dogs just as I do and Annie and Stewie are special doggie friends with them and their pups.  When we walked in the door Annie was there to greet us with a wagging tail and her favorite stuffed toy, her multicolored ball with a squeaker inside.  It fills her gentle mouth.  She even dropped it for some doggie crotch sniffing!  I did let her outside with us for a bit but then I wanted her to rest so I brought her inside.  She didn't really like that but did as she was told.  We all said how good she looked and how she was on the mend.  

     That night.....I woke up and heard her cough and then I heard her panting.  I got up to see if she needed water.  She wouldn't drink any.  I wondered if she was too hot.  She wasn't panting hard just a slow pant.  She seemed settled and I went to bed.  I woke up to hearing her again panting but panting hard.  I thought it was less than an hour later but I wasn't too sure.  I knelt beside her bringing the water to her lips.  She turned her head away.  I tried to get her to get up but she wouldn't.  Stewie is there beside us.  I am alarmed and I need to check her gums to see if they are pink or pale.  That is what her Dr. and the veterinary tech. had told us to check for.  I also remember about the panting, that if she is panting heavily that is not good either.  I wake up my Love and urgently tell him that Annie is not doing well.  I turn on the light and check the gums.  Pale to white.  Her tongue is cold and she is not well.  I tell my Love I need to take her to the emergency vet and he goes to get our car ready.  I quickly go change into street clothes and then rush back to be by her side.

    It was quick.   She stopped panting.  She gasped.  My Love came in while I cried out.  I yelled her name "Annie, Annie!".....another gasp.  I tell him we need to hurry and he gently tells me she is gone.  I can't believe this.  No, no, no.  She lays there in Jesse's old bed.  Peaceful, quiet.  We are around her, Stewie, my Love and I, circling her, stroking her.  I kneel my head to hers and whisper the love I have for this beautiful girl.  She was love.  All love and licks to everyone.  Now she was gone.  

     I have never seen an animal pass away.  Our little Jesse died at home, in the same room as we all were in.  He slipped away without our knowing, peaceful slumber in the room we nightly sat in.  I honestly hope she did not suffer.  The gasping troubles my heart and head.  At near 2:30 A.M. she was quiet.  We sat there with her, stroking her golden coat, her so soft head and ears.  Stewie stared and waited with us.  I didn't want to move her, not till morning.  Luna our cat came to sniff her old friend.  Slowly she stepped around her body, gently she walked on the bed, then she walked away.  My Love decided we needed to move her and we did.   We have been through much this man and I.  We have had many furry friends who have given us such joy and companionship.   We have walked many trails with them, side by side.  Taken them on vacations when we could.  Our pets are like our family.

   In the night as I tried but failed at sleeping, I thought of Dixie our Golden who died before we brought Annie into our home.  Dixie who died while we were gone, who we could not say our goodbyes to.  She was cremated and I have had her ashes all these 11 years.  I never could let them go to the cold earth.  Some part of my heart said this was the time.   These two Golden girls should be together.  They never knew each other but they would have romped and played together if they had.   They would have covered us with Golden hair, slobbered our faces and made us happy as could be.  This was my release for Dixie.

     As morning broke I told my Love what I wanted.  It was important that Annie have her favorite stuffed ball toy.  No other dog could ever have this toy.  It was Annie's.  I told him that I wanted Dixie to be with Annie and that Dixie's Kong toy to be buried with them as well.  Annie never liked the Kong, she loved stuffed toys.  They lie buried on the hill behind our pool, the hill they both use to look up on to keep their eyes on the deer that passed by.  The view of Mt. Diablo looms in the distance.  We have called this spot Boot Hill as our Jesse lies up here along with our departed kitties from years past.  

     The house had been cleaned before the day after Annie came home.  There is not any Golden fur on the floor which seems unnatural.  My floors have always had Golden fur on them for over 21 years between two dogs.  Stewie was laying on the dog bed in our kitchen where Annie had brought a few toys days before.  A few Golden strands of her coat clung to his black fur as he rolled on his back while I rubbed his tummy.  I hate to see them go......I ache for my Annie.  I hurt.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

She's gone....

She's gone and my heart aches.....Annie was doing so well yesterday evening!  Yet in the night she went down quickly.  Too fast....

My Love and I are exhausted with little sleep last night.  All hangs heavy.  My words want to come but I have no words today.  Only tears.

Friday, July 22, 2011


     Well we are back from a wonderful vacation in Colorado with family.  Of course nothing like a welcome home with my mother by marriage having a fall and getting an awful gash down the front of her shin bone.  Thankfully she had nothing broken.

     To add icing on the cake our dear Golden Annie was not well on Sunday, a visit to the vet to find that she had a mass on her spleen.  Surgery on Thursday to find out there were two masses!  Now she is home resting watched over by my Love and I with tender care.  We wait with trepidation to hear if the spleen or tumors were malignant.

     This all feels too similar to what happened to our Golden Dixie 10 years ago this month who fell suddenly ill while we were out of the country.  Sadly it was decided her spleen or a mass broke and she bled out.  There was a huge ache in all our hearts the remainder of our trip.  Illness can happen so suddenly in our pets.  They can't tell us what is wrong until it may be too late.  I had already felt before we left that I should bring Annie in but I was concerned she was becoming arthritic since she was acting stiff and not her old self.  Well she is arthritic as that showed on the X-ray along with the mass.

     For now I will play nursemaid to our poochie.   Mother is healing with her leg bound by bandage and a prayer that she does not fall again.  I am wishing I was back on vacation on a hike.   Whatever relaxation I came home with has dissolved.

     Oh there was a star this week!  Our daughter K. was here for several days for us to glow over.  It wasn't the best with my head slightly clouded over with worry but she was a wonderful distraction.  Now she has left to be with her Love up in Seattle and settle into a new place to live for the next 6 months.

    I am having an adjustment with the new format of blogspot...anyone else?   I feel lost!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Me ~ 1975

I have a routine of daily tasks and chores I do.  Doing the morning dishes, making our bed, fluffing a pillow, loading the washer, emptying the dryer.  Everyday I set my sights on the accomplishments of finishing what I start.  For almost 34 years of marriage, four children, countless pets, I have nurtured our home life and felt my life's destiny.  I've watched as my three daughters have left home, first to college and then to their own lives.  Sometimes they have been near and sometimes they are away.  I cannot visit them physically everyday yet I miss them being in my life.

Have I been a mother so long I have forgotten the girl I was before children?  

Just the other night my Love and I were talking of a difficult situation that has happened.  We tried to understand this and talk about it.  It doesn't involve us but it does involve our love for those who are.  Inside I was grappling with the importance of how I mothered and am still mothering our son who is at home.  I thought how I feel about my role.  How I know I am needed even though I don't feel the need I use to.  

This is the first time I have only one child to take care of.  I have always been occupied with getting someone from point A to point B by a certain time on a certain day.  In a year our son could be driving himself instead of me.  With R. not being in our presence as when he was younger I am beginning to understand how it will feel when he is fully gone.  I am not taking this well.  It's that Mothering thing again.  I only seem to know how to be a mother and a wife.  

My Love and I began having children three years into our marriage and ever since I have had a child in our home.  What will it be like when that is no longer?  

I use to think that my Love and I would be able to retire, he at a young(er) age due to how strenuous is work is.  We would travel the world just he and I!  Anywhere, everywhere, whenever!  I never thought about the financial side of this.  Only in the last five years did it hit me of how we could pull that off.  The stupid economy zapped so much of his potential jobs.  Who can get a line of credit?  Who can afford to do work on their homes?  More and more people are hiring the "cheap" laborer and acting as their own contractor.  More and more are learning to do it themselves, regardless of how the job might look.  Hey, my Love has been building since he was a little kid beside his father.  You need to know your math.  You need to put in the time and not complain of heat or cold when you outside working.    You need to be appreciated for the work you do by the homeowner.  Virtually all those jobs he use to get use to be referral!  Now so many of those homeowners are dead, old and not needing anymore work.   Everyone now wants a "deal", they want it cheaper, it's like they never think about the craftsmen work to make a job not only be finished but really look good.  

So he will not be retiring early.  He will continue seeking work.  We use to say we would sell our home and buy a smaller home but he loves the home and the land.  Then of course real estate isn't doing so well.

I am deviating from my original thought though.


I've just watched the inspirational documentary "Who Does She Think She Is?" that is now available on Netflix.  When I first heard about the making of this I was moved.  The role of women in society, the lack of acceptability for a woman to be a mother and to have a creative side.   Wow, I hadn't thought about the role choices that women have!  How utterly naive I was.  I waited patiently for this documentary  to be available.

Now after watching it I am flummoxed.  Have I neglected or hidden my creative side?  I certainly have given little credit to what I can do or would want to do creatively.    And what do I want?  What part of me feels inspiration?  I just don't know.  I just don't really know who I am.  Certainly not the woman inside me.  I know myself as my Love's wife, friend and lover.  I am loved, wanted, and needed.

What do I want to round myself out with?  I love to write, I love to take photographs.  I don't see myself as really good at either but it does give me pleasure.  In seeing the women that were filmed I realize that each of them had a purpose that became fulfilled once they let themselves become what was always there.  It was sad though that several lost their marriages due to their desire for creativity.   It was a choice they had to make almost like women of the past who made choices to be wives and mothers or be creative.  History still repeats!  Do men feel so threatened by a woman's need to be personally fulfilled?  

I know my Love supports my need to write.  I try to balance my life with keeping our home a place I feel comfortable in and one that my family does as well.  Still I am feeling this uncanny search for my unsettled feminine Goddess within.  

I just ordered the book "When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions" .  I love how Sue Monk Kidd writes.  Her other book that fulfilled my heart's wish to someday be able to travel with my three daughters,  Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story , that she partially co-wrote with her daughter of their travel to Greece.  In this book she shares her inner feelings of being a woman and what she is searching for in her own life and what she is concerned for of what life means to her daughter in being a woman.  Her words reflected much that was and is in my heart for my daughters to want a loving, caring, respecting, resourceful, growing relationship with me.  Not just that I was their mom but I am a friend.  There is much we can share and learn from each other.

This passage said an uncanny thought I have felt that was in that book: 
" Finally, I began to write about becoming an older woman and the trepidation it stirred. The small, telling “betrayals” of my body. The stalled, eerie stillness in my writing, accompanied by an ache for some unlived destiny. I wrote about the raw, unsettled feelings coursing through me, the need to divest and relocate, the urge to radically simplify and distill life into a new, unknown meaning. And why, I asked myself, had I begun to think for the first time about my own mortality? Some days, the thought of dying gouged into my heart to the point I filled up with tears at the sight of the small, ordinary things I would miss."

How odd to get to a certain age and think of ones mortality.  Yet I do.  I don't dwell upon this but it does rise up and I look at every beautiful sky, every lovely flower and think this could be gone and how I do not want this to be.  I lull for days sometimes bemoaning these thoughts till I realize I am wasting the precious days that flow by.  Stop! enjoy.  Be happy with your life be happy with yourself.

I often wonder if my weight gain of the forties and fifties is a response many women go through of being concerned with the denial of happiness.  Does food fulfill this?  No it does not.  Does our body naturally gain to compensate for the anticipation of another decade on the heels of midlife when appetites dwindle and the body needs the fat to live upon?  I rather like that theory better.  Yet, I find myself unhappy with my body.  I compare to what I use to look like.  How can I feel this way?  If I wasn't preoccupied with such thoughts and felt fully fulfilled with myself would I become the way I envision myself to be versus the one in the mirror? 

Purpose.   Goal.  Choice.   Forgive.  I need to love what is inside me as well as what is outside me.  I have what I have and some of these can't be changed without medical intervention (those lovely veins that I developed after the birth of my children), softening of tone in my body (I am doing the gym...geesh it sure takes a lot of effort now), little lines on my face and neck (don't look too close in the mirror, especially a magnifying mirror).  What matters is what I express from within.  How I express it to others.  

I am open, careful of my feelings.  I will wake in the morning and melt inside with joy when I see my Love beside me.  I am not alone with him to share each day with.  He loves me for me.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

2  1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. butter (at room temperature)
1 C. peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 C. brown sugar (packed)
3/4 C. sugar
2 large eggs
**extra sugar for rolling the cookies in

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Working with a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two, until smooth and creamy.  Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute.  Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl.

Add baking soda, baking powder and salt on low speed.  Add the flour mixing till all blended.  

Working with the dough, I use an ice cream scoop to make my balls.  On a large cookie sheet place 9 balls.  Dip the tines of a fork in the sugar and press into the dough to make crisscross marks.

Bake for 12 minutes.  When done the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft.  Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a minute before removing to cooling racks.  Cool to room temperature.


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