Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My grandparents

I've recently returned from a five day visit with my paternal grandparents and I am once again reminded how much I have to learn.  I am ashamed to admit how much maturing I had yet to do, and how much I still had (and surely have yet to) to learn.  As much as I’ve always loved and appreciated my grandparents, I appreciate them so much more now.  My grandparents have not fundamentally changed as long as I remember, but the lessons they had to teach me are finally sinking in. 

My grandparents are amazing people.  They've been working and taking care of themselves and their families since they were teenagers.  When I was younger I thought that their relationship was rather dull.  Theirs wasn't a passionate romance (as far as I knew), how boring.  But this year they will reach their 55th anniversary, and spending time with them has taught me what enduring love is. 

They first met at a bar where my grandma, Patricia, was hanging out with her mother in law (a woman I wish I could have known).  She thought my grandpa was too drunk, so their meeting was brief.  Luckily, she went to a feed store where my grandpa Fritz worked and this time his luck was better.  He asked her out, and met my dad and uncle shortly thereafter. Despite the stereotypes of the time, he took the kids along on boating trips (against his friends’ protests) and when he told his family he was going to marry her, he told them the kids were now family.  He never treated my dad and uncle any differently than my aunt and uncles that came after. 

            Together they have had five kids, countless grand and great grandchildren.  They survived my grandmother’s breast cancer, my grandpa’s hip replacement (and other minor surgeries), and now they deal with her dementia.  Despite this, they are one of the most fortunate people I know.  They are blessed with each other.  The amount of care my grandpa takes for my grandma is amazing.  Throughout their marriage they played the typical roles.  My grandpa worked as a carpenter, while my grandma cooked, cleaned, shopped, took care of the bills and children, as well as worked a few jobs.  Now that she has dementia my grandpa has had to learn to pay the bills, go grocery shopping, and I was shocked to see he’s even doing chores around the house.  My grandpa is an amazing man.  He leaves her notes when he goes out in the morning telling her which pill to take, and although they are just little post it sized notes, they each say “I love you”.  They have also had so many people in their lives that have helped them along the way.  My great-grandmother – ma Brown - helped my grandma out when she split up with her son, and even encouraged her to dance with Fritz.  A neighbor lent my grandma her car so she could get a job, and her pastor later showed up at the house and helped her get a divorce.  They have so much love in their hearts that they love my over achieving gay brother just as much as they love my very opposite older brother, or any of my other cousins.  They are wonderful people, and although I will never be as selfless and accepting as they are I will do my best to keep the lessons they have taught me

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spiced Mango Pops

   Inspired by a great mango sale at Whole Foods and the mango lassies that were being sampled I made these (plastic free!) spicy mango popsicles.  Since there is no yogurt in them I do not know if they can be called lassies 

I blended:
about three atoulfo mangoes,
the juice of one and a half limes
A little bit of ground cardamom (1/4 tsp?)
A nub of ginger (1/2"?)
And just a little canned coconut milk. Maybe 1/4C

It smells delicious. Spicy and tropical.

   A friend got me these molds from Onyx, but I would get them from because I like that company.  The molds are great because I can take fresh season produce and quickly turn it into a guilt free snack.

   In case you are intimidated by mangoes the simplest way to get the fruit out is to stand them on end, stem side up (or lay them down), and cut down letting the knife slide right over the pit.  Then simply take a soup spoon and following the contours of the skin, scoop the fruit out.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Deliciousness - achieved!

At last, I've done it.  I've made a recipe that is 90% mine.  I give Karen from the meat department credit for the inspiration.  Last year she cooked some chicken thighs in chicken broth.  Browned them on one side, added broth, reduced it down, added garlic, basil and bell peppers.  I thought, this would be good with pasta.  I tried it awhile ago with green beans but it was lacking slightly.  Tonight, it was perfect.  It is simplicity itself, and probably made often by people who don't give it a second thought.

I bought everything at Whole Foods (except I had Better Than Bullion, spices and garlic already) and the total came to $10.92.  I got five servings out of it which comes to $2.18 per serving, which is pretty awesome.


  • 1 package linguine ($1.49)
  • 1 pound chicken thighs (just over a pound, $4.29)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (it was on sale for $1.99/lb so $2.15) I got the thickest asparagus to avoid over cooking ~ break off the tough ends (save with the mushroom ends for stock) and cut into one inch pieces
  • .66 pound crimini mushrooms ($2.99) ~ sliced thick
  • garlic ~ 4 cloves roughly chopped
  • dried basil and rosemary
  • heaping teaspoon Better Than Bullion chicken broth dissolved in one cup water

While you wait for the linguine water to boil, saute the mushrooms in whatever random oil you use (I used hazelnut oil) with some garlic in a 12" skillet.  When the mushrooms have browned nicely scrape them into a bowl for later.  Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and brown them on both sides. Maybe the pasta water has boiled, and if so stir in the linguine.  After you flip the chicken add the broth, put the lid on the pan, turn the heat to medium low and let it simmer five minutes.  Or so, I'm really not sure.  This is where you realize you should have seasoned the mushrooms so sprinkle a little (a teaspoon?) rosemary and basil on the mushrooms.  Some kosher salt too.  When the chicken is nearly done add the asparagus stems, put the lid back on and cook for a few more minutes.  At this point the chicken did not seem ready so I took out the asparagus which was knife tender, and let it cook a little longer.  After another minute I figured the chicken looked done so I added the asparagus tips and let them cook for about a minute.  They don't take long.  Add the mushrooms and asparagus stems back to the chicken and turn off the heat.  Return the drained noodles to the pot and dump the chicken mixture in.  Give it a good stir, add some fresh cracked pepper (and perhaps some crushed red pepper) and eat!

Who knows why, but it seems like everything sinks to the bottom, so the first serving is a lot of pasta, and leftovers are a lot of vegetables.  Its probably good cold too.

If I was to make this for my vegetarian brother I would (obviously skip the chicken and use a different broth, like better than bullion fake chicken) probably reduce the amount of broth to one cup and maybe add just a little more vegetables.  Maybe more mushrooms and add peas.  Tempeh or fake meat if you like that.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Relationship Advice - for any and all

   The lesson I learned last year and my goal from here on out is to be more honest.  Tell the truth, be honest, discuss your feelings, don't bottle things up.  Last year I lost two friends.  There are lots of little reasons but one reason that I can identify and improve from here on out is lack of honesty.  I am guessing one friendship was lost because of something about me.  I bitch too much or I'm depressed or I don't know what.  I'll never know because she never really told me.  There could have been vague hints but (and I know this is hard) how about "you know, I've found it hard to hang out with you/I seriously think you should seek counseling/you really need to be more upbeat or people won't want to hang out with you".  Yeah, it's really hard to say that (or it would be for me) but if the choices are buck up and speak out or lose the friend?  And yeah, I'd probably be hurt or deny it if a friend said that to me, but I'd mull it over when I'm alone and give it some consideration.  The other relationship began with excellent communication but somehow it got lost.  It just got worse and worse until now there is nothing.  Part of this was cowardice on my part.  It's scary to confront people.  But if you love someone isn't the risk of a little pain worth losing them completely?  And, if you're afraid you will lose them by confronting them, consider that you will if you don't.  Maybe we are too polite.  I've really gotten into reading advice columns (Dear Abby, Dear Prudence) and this theme is constantly reappearing.  Spouses and engaged couples who can't discuss simple things, people who no longer want to see a friend due to their attitude.  Spouses should be able to discuss almost everything.  If you're not comfortable or unable to  discuss something like being fine with one orgasm per session (seriously, weird problem) than its not a great relationship.  But shouldn't you be able to tell your friend when they've become an unbearable bitch (obviously say this less bluntly)?  Isn't that what a friend is for?  
     I was talking to a friend today (who is very honest!) who mentioned the problem of being "too honest".  Obviously there are caveats.  Don't be a dick.  There is a difference between "I'm concerned about the amount of weight you've put on" and "you look like a total slob, I'm ashamed to be around you, and you look like a pig at the slop bucket when you eat".  Obviously I'm assuming we are all adults here (even if you are not legally an adult you can still try this!).  I think I made the mistake in my last lost relationship of saying "don't be too honest".  I've since decided that honesty is a trust.  If you love someone you trust them and you are honest.  You should give them your trust that they will not ask more than you can answer just as you would not ask them more than they would be comfortable answering ("did she look better in a thong than me?" "Do my sweat pants make me look fat?"). 
  This applies to everyone.  Parents, lovers and friends.  I think the level of intimacy should reflect the amount of honesty. We shall see if my friends and family agree with me!

which is more important? i.e. which would you choose at the exclusion of the other?