Sunday, March 30, 2014

High on Georgia



Cows moo with pleasure
as they graze on crisp, green grass
fed by April and May rains.

Farm fowls like chicken, rooster and guinea hen
strut about in early morning glory
waking human sleepers with incessant cries.

Hickory and Walnut trees stand magnificent
resplendent and bountiful with fruit.
Each year their height and width increases
circles not wrinkles
defining age and time.

Spring in Georgia Mountains
Shades of sapphire grace the sky
Daffodils standing still in fields of gold
carpet the earth.

My log cabin sits still
 holding me inside
I hibernate in order to rejuvenate
to breathe free, to feel full, to think bliss
in My Georgia home.


Friendship

Have you ever gone to a church service and thought, "Oh my gosh, this sermon was written especially for me." ? Today's sermon was on friendships and how we need to establish friendships that are healthy for us. The three main points made for a solid friendship are: first, seek friends who make you a better person; second, seek friends who provide spiritual strength, and third, seek a friend who will tell you the truth.
Another comment made was unfriend those who bring you down the wrong path. Examples given were, "don't hang around someone who is eating doughnuts as a hobby if you want to eat healthier; don't hang around someone who is miserable in his/her marriage if you want to improve yours, etc.
Friendship (like any relationship) is not easy; it is hard work, yet I realize that like any relationship friendships must be two sided, each person giving as well as accepting. Friendships require compromise yet in the long run friendships should help all the individuals involved to become better, healthier, stronger, and happier.
I'm beginning to think that I'll be a hundred years old before I get this friendship thing down. But, I'll keep at it till I do. It just might be my motivation for a long life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Power of the Mind

  
I have wondered how powerful the mind is in designating how happy we are or sad, how healthy we are or ill. I have heard stories of women whose mothers had breast cancer waiting to get breast cancer themselves and before their fiftieth birthday, they develop the tumor. I know of others who are so unhappy in their lives that they develop physical ailments. Are these strictly my own point of view, my observations?
      Deepak Chopra, a well known doctor and author states, "To think is to practice brain chemistry. Every thought, feeling, and emotion creates a molecule known as a neuropeptide. Neuropeptides travel throughout your body and hook onto receptor sites of cells and neurons. Your brain takes in the information, converts it into chemicals, and lets your whole body know if there’s trouble in the world or cause for celebration. Your body is directly influenced as these molecules course through the bloodstream, delivering the energetic effect of whatever your brain is thinking and feeling."
       Dr. Lissa Rankin, also a physician and author believes that the mind is capable of healing the body or causing it to become ill. One example was a patient who was experiencing duel personalities where one had diabetes and the other did not have the disease. Another example shows how cancer patients were given a pill and told it was chemotherapy (it was not). One third of the patients were healed.
       So, can we always be happy in order to stay healthy? I don't think so. Our lives can sometimes be like roller coaster rides with the highs and lows; however, I believe that we can remain overall positive, surround ourselves with emotionally healthy individuals, work in a safe and nurturing environment, and maintain relationships that are overall healthy.
       We have the power to make healthy choices in our lives, so we remain emotionally and physically healthy.




Rankins, Lissa. Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. United States:
        Hay House Inc., 2013. Print.

Monday, March 24, 2014

To My Baby Girl


No, this is not a mushy note
Not written to make you cry
It is merely a poem
Saying I love you.

I looked inside your baby book
And found some memories I had forgotten
I read of the games you liked to play
And songs from Mary Poppin.

I saw your foot prints so very small
And smiled at how awkwardly I traced them
I leafed through the stages of crawling and walking
Your very first words

I viewed your growth chart from year to year
And witnessed your changing beauty and grace
I marveled at your innocent joy
When smelling a fragrant rose.

Then I closed the book
It had come to an end
My little girl is
now a woman
Tall, proud and dignified.



Pasta Aglio e Olio Con Zucchini



Pasta Oglio e olio is a rustic meal that is traditional in any Sicilian's home. First, it requires ingredients that every Italian has in their pantry, and second it's easy and quick. So, it's a win, win. You can add anything you want to this meal to jazz it up like chopped olives, pignoli, artichoke hearts, slices of chicken breast, and much more. Experiment and see what flavors you enjoy.
Serves Two

½   lb. regular spaghetti
1        tbs. olive oil
2        cloves of garlic, chopped
2          zucchini, sliced and fried
4     strips of anchovy
1           cup of warm water from pasta pot
salt and red pepper to taste
1           cup toasted bread crumbs
grated cheese (as much or as little as you like)
basil or parsley, it’s up to you.

In a medium size frying pan, place olive oil and garlic.  Braise garlic lightly and then add anchovy till it melts.  add the warm water, salt and pepper.  If you have added salt to the pasta, do not add to broth.  
Remove cooked pasta from stove, drain and place back in pot.  Add the oil and garlic broth and toss with cheese. Place fried zucchini on a separate plate.
Each person can fix his/her dish.  Pasta, zucchini, parsley or basil, bread crumb and extra cheese, in that order.
Sooo delicious.


Difference between Gossip and Sharing

How does one know when he/she is gossiping or sharing information? I could say that if sharing a piece of information about someone to someone else leaves you with a sense of guilt, then it's probably gossip. But, it's not as easy as that because some people don't feel guilt. Of course one can look at gossip as negative in content; whereas, sharing information can actually be positive. For example, "Did you hear that Bob lost his job?" This is information unless one adds, "he's such a loser I knew he was going to lose his job." Then, the innocent remark becomes gossip because it includes opinion, perception, bias, etc.
Proverbs 16:28 states, "A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip seperates the best of friends."
Benjamin Franklin (one of my favorite people from the past) says in Poor Richard's Almanac, "Hear no ill of a friend, nor speak any of an enemy," and "He that speaks much is much mistaken."
Sometimes one can create more problems by talking way too much and to too many people. I've learned that one missing word or one word misunderstood can cause dissention.
Remember the game Telephone we used to play when we were young? Remember, how the story changed from one person to the other? That's what happens in gossip. Stories change to such an extent that the truth is hidden under a pile of linguistic manure. The best venue is to keep mouth shut and ears closed to gossip.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Turkey Sausage w/ Risotto

This meal was excellent. Thank goodness we had left overs. I made it for the two of us, but it is more than enough for four. Of course it must be a bit high in calorie, but if you don't make it on a weekly basis, it's a nice treat for those nights when you're craving comfort food, and I'm all about comfort food.


5 links of turkey sausage
1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
32 oz. Vegetable Broth
2 T Marsala Wine
1/2 onion - chopped
3 cloves garlic - chopped
4 T butter
salt
pepper


Only one pot needed. Place butter in pot and brown onion and garlic. Add rice and coat with butter. Add some of the vegetable broth (do this a little at a time, stirring as you add). Add Marsala wine. The cooking process should take at least one half hour, so it would be a good idea to taste the rice to see if it's done.
B.Q. Turkey sausage - give yourself at least 15 - 20 minutes - coordinate rice with sausage so everything is done at the same time.
Slice cooked turkey thin, so it's one bite with rice.
Place risotto on either a soup dish or flat dish - place sliced sausage on top.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Dangers of Gossip





I am sure that everyone has gone through an ordeal with either a family member or a friend. Everyone has disagreements, so we argue and sometimes the argument leads to heightened voices and cruel words. Husbands argue with wives, mothers argue with children, siblings argue and so do friends. The best thing to do is to keep the argument between the people who are arguing because the minute others get into the picture, the gentle flame becomes a roaring fire.


Arguments or quarrels are difficult to figure out even between those arguing. The wife sees only what the husband has done wrong and the husband sees only what the wife has done wrong. Follow this scene, so the wife tells the girlfriend how the argument with her husband went. The girlfriend now thinks her friend’s husband is an idiot and tells the story (with a few particulars left out) to another friend and before you know it, the original couple has always had a terrible marriage and might even get a divorce. Same will happen if the husband decides to tell his golf or tennis buddy.


Gossip helps no one but hurts everyone, and taking sides creates dissonance with all. It is wonderful  to be a peacemaker not a troublemaker. Then not only will we be blessed but so will those who are in a quarrel.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fettuccine Calypso




This wonderful dish is from Palermo, Italy. My brother in law Joe introduced it to us when he joined the family. Of course, we had heard of Fettuccine Alfredo but never this delectable dish. After he made it for us, my father liked it so much he began making it as well. Most Italian men enjoy cooking as much as they do eating. They may not love washing dishes, but it may sometimes be difficult to get them away from the stove.

Serves 4 adults.


1 lb fettuccine
3 T.   Olive oil
½ lg. onion – diced
2 garlic cloves – sliced
½ lb. ground beef
2 cans (15 oz) Tomato Sauce
2 cups mushrooms – sliced
2 cups frozen peas
In a skillet place olive oil, garlic, and onion. Cook on medium heat till tender. Add ground beef and brown all around. Add the two cans of tomato sauce and cook for 1 hour. Then, add mushrooms and peas and cook for ten minutes.
Boil water for pasta.
Cook pasta till tender, drain, place in platter, add topping and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano  Reggiano.


Common Sense Isn't So Common

When I was growing up, my father would often explain the importance of common sense. He told us common sense is much more important than text book knowledge. I'm not quite sure how one learns common sense. It is not something one is born with, but I believe one learns it through watching others like one's parents and siblings and relatives. I think that as one grows older without common sense, the more difficult it is to develop. Famous people like Benjamin Franklin tried to teach common sense through Poor Richard's Almanac. These maxims, ("a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct,") educated readers on thriftiness, social conduct, obesity, slothfulness and much more. They remind me of Proverbs. I will write about a few maxims in the following week. Here is the first one for discussion.

"All things are easy to industry, all
things difficult to sloth."

Some people do not realize that one must work hard to achieve the gifts of hard work. Individuals who spend more time in bed or at play don't seem to understand why it is they are always broke. Some don't work at all yet want what they believe is their just due. I think Benjamin Franklin understood, as he was a very hard working man, that in order to have leisure time and in order to appreciate the finer things in life, one must work for these luxuries. Laziness will lead poverty and despair.


I Surrender

A snake was entangled on the netting
my pond held gold fish
he wanted ~
so entangled he became
only the smell
he tasted ~
then he surrendered
to the disappointment
of letting go
As I cut away
to set him free.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring



A whispered wisp of butterfly wings
The joyous song a sparrow sings
A buzzing buzz of bees to hive
The sounds of Spring
 come alive.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Love What You Do

I cannot imagine working with someone or someplace where I would be uncomfortable. I have been very fortunate in my employement. Today, I go to work (almost all the time) with a big smile on my face. I have been blessed. However, there are those who hate what they do, where they work, and the people they work with, yet they remain. Why?



I've been teaching my students about cause and effect. I've explained how to learn why something is, one must evaluate, analyze, and research for the answers. Some answers are attained only if we become introspective. For example, why would someone stay in this type of employement? Some may remain at their job because they attain benefits, a good salary, and periodic bonuses. These are all good reasons, but if one is unhappy, here is what can happen to those wonderful bonuses, benefits and salary. Stress brings on mental and physical problems, so the money will most likely either go to the doctor or the psychiatrist. The bonus might be spent on things that one believes will make him or her happy, not realizing that until one works someplace that is emotionally satisfying, one will not be happy. People might think they are stuck because they have never done anything else, so they are not skilled for a different job or they may be afraid of change.

One can make a plan to continue working at the familiar place while going to Vo Tech or college. One can continue to look for a different job that requires similar skills while staying on the job. There are choices; the problem is that most people don't look at the choices as multiple, they look at the choices as either/or like I either get used to this or I will be out of work and homeless. Change is not easy. Change is challenging, difficult, anxiety ridden and more, but not changing may lead to cardiac arrest, cancer, mental illness and much, much more. I say find a place where you will be happy to wake up in the morning, a place that brings you satisfaction of having done something good for others and for yourself.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter Time Chuck Roast


I'm sure one can cook this meal anytime of the year, but Mike and I enjoy this dinner in the winter. By the way, the chuck roast ends up so tender you can cut it with a fork. The gravy is delicious on homemade bread and the vegetables create sweetness to this truly hearty meal.

Ingredients:
3 lb. Chuck Roast (serves 4)
6 russet potatoes - peel and cut in bite size pieces
6 carrots - peel and cut each potato into fours
2 stalks of celery - remove string and cut into bite size pieces
1 small yellow onion - peel off skin and dice
2 cloves of garlic - peel off skin and slice
1 dz. who black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
2 cups red wine
1 (16) oz. container beef stock


In a deep cast iron pot place one tablespoon of olive oil and braise meat on both sides. Remove from pot and place in dish.
Add two tablespoons of olive oil in pot and braise onion and garlic.
Add stock and wine.
Add vegetables, pepper corns, and bay leaves. Finally, return beef to pot.
Let boil.
Once it is boiling, place lid on pot and place in pre-heated 250 degree oven.
Cook for four hours.
You will have to remove potatoes, carrots before straining juice for gravy. Serve vegetables with beef on a platter with gravy on top and on the side.

The Evil Eye

I am not a superstitious person. As a matter of fact, I will step on a crack, walk under a ladder, and laugh really hard when baseball players do certain moves each time they go to the plate. However, I must say I believe in the Evil Eye. I didn't believe my mother when she told us to send a prayer to heaven when people complimented us for something, "their jealousy will bring us bad luck."
I poo poohed it thinking it was a Sicilian thing. Not true.
I used to have dozens of indoor plants. They thrived and were in constant bloom. Then, a good friend of mine (or so I thought) said, "Your plants are always so gorgeous. I wish mine could be as beautiful!"
Within the month every single plant got a bug and died. "Just a coincidence," I thought.
Another time someone commented, "Your skin is so flawless. Why is mine terrible?"
The following day I had a zit the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Yet another time, someone else mentioned how my life was absolutely perfect and hers was in shambles.
Within the month three calamities occurred within my family.
Anyway, the  reason I bring this up is because there are people who are envious and jealous and I think they might create negative karma. Perhaps it's a suggestion planted as a seed and it flourishes into a full fledged catastrophe.
These days when someone says something to me about something being perfect in my life, I send a prayer up to heaven and I move on.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aging

My age is the freedom
to fly 
the ability to go fast or slow
to jump the white caps
or touch the depths of
quiet waters.

My age is not the lines on my face
or the gray in my hair
it's the beat of my heart
and the length of my stride.

I am younger today than yesterday
enjoying eagles nesting,
flowers blooming,
love florishing 
and wisdom growing.



Chili




1          lb. lean chopped meat
1          15 oz. can tomato sauce
15        oz. can red beans
3          tbs.. olive oil
1          onion, chopped
3          cloves garlic, chopped
1          chopped onion
6          oz.  cheddar cheese, grated
3          cups cooked rice
cumin
chili pepper
Place chopped meat in heavy saucepan and gently separate meat so it's truly chopped, on low heat, brown meat thoroughly.  Remove meat from pot and drain all fat.  In saucepan place oil, chopped onion and chopped garlic, lightly brown.  Add meat, tomato sauce and red beans.  I add cumin and chili pepper throughout the process, because I think everyone has their  own personal preference.


Serve chili with either brown or white rice, chopped onion and Shredded Cheddar cheese on the side.


Wisdom

I'm going to paraphrase here, so forgive me for oversimplification. Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, was asked who was the wisest person. After going from one professional to another, he came to the conclusion that he was the wisest man because he understood that he did not know everything about everything. That is wisdom. As human beings we are forever learning.
Wisdom is not learned through a textbook. It is learned through experience, trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. Most of one's wisdom comes from going through a situation, learning the particulars, positive or  negative, and carrying that knowledge to another situation that may be similar, so one does not make the same mistake or so one can revisit the joy.
Wisdom is gained when one becomes introspective, analytical, and evaluative. Every relationship teaches a lesson. It is important that we think (there is the key word), "what did I learn about myself from this relationship?" Every occasion, good or bad, teaches us about ourselves. Every situation, positive or negative, teaches us what to avoid and what to welcome.
Yet, there are times when each of us fail to learn the value of the lesson. We carry on without learning anything at all, and then repeat faulty behavior, never gaining wisdom from the experience.
Socrates was the wisest man, for he knew that one does not stop learning till one stops breathing. No one can know everything about everything. We can only hope to gain knowledge and wisdom everyday as we live each day. I have a wonderful sign in my classroom. It states, "What new information did you learn today?" I think that says it all.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pizza



Friday night is pizza night at our house. My daughter Natalie and her husband Scott come over around five o'clock for a night of pizza, chicken cutlet parmigiano, homemade wine, and a game of Briscola, an Italian card game. She makes her own dough and her own toppings; my husband makes the chicken cutlets and the sauce for both dishes. Scott and I watch and do the dishes afterwards. It's a great family night.

Ingredients:
6          cups flour
2          cups warm water
2          packets yeast
1          tbs.. olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar

Use mixer with dough hooks for this recipe and all other bread recipes.  Place flour in large mixing bowl.  Dissolve yeast in warm water, add olive oil, salt and sugar.  Add liquid to flour mixing all the while.  When dough begins to separate from sides of bowl, place in well oiled bread bowl or any bowl that will allow dough to grow twice in size.  Place a damp cloth over the bowl and let stand in  warm place for as long as it takes for dough to double (usually one hour). Separate into two even pieces of dough and place in separate bowls. Let stand one more time.  When ready, press dough into pizza trays and prepare for topping.

Topping:
2          cups tomato sauce, already cooked and ready to serve
16        oz. bag of shredded mozzarella




Pizza making in a regular oven can be tricky.  Always pre-heat oven to 425ยบ.  Pour a small amount of sauce on pizza and spread evenly, then bake in pre-heated oven till bottom is brown.  Remove pizza from oven and pour extra tomato sauce on top, spread evenly and apply a generous amount of mozzarella.  Bake till topping is melted evenly and crust is golden brown on bottom as well as on top.  

Stromboli

This Stromboli came out of the oven plumped up and looking just like a Manatee! We were shocked but nicely surprised. The filling is different than any other Stromboli I have ever made. I hope you will like it.

1   Pizza Dough (can be purchased at either Deli or Bakery section of most Supermarkets). Give at least 2 hours for it to rise.
3   cloves garlic (chopped)
24 olives, both black and green (pitted and sliced)
6   ripe Roma tomatoes (seeded and sliced)
1   cup frozen Spinach (defrosted, drained and patted dry)
1/2 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella
3    fillets of anchovy (optional)
red pepper flakes to taste

Braize the chopped garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size frying pan. Once garlic is light gold, add the sliced olives, sliced tomatoes, spinach, anchovy, and pepper flakes. Lay out your pizza dough in a round pan that has been greased. Spread the pan mixture on the dough, leaving at least 1/2 inch from the ends free of ingredients. Then add the two cheeses. Fold the dough several times till you have a nice loaf. Then brush olive oil on top and sprinkle Kosher salt on top as well.
Bake in 375 oven till golden brown. This is a great side dish or appetizer. Enjoy.


Spicy Fried Cod

Spicy Fried Cod

I must admit that this is one of my favorite dishes. Mike makes plenty of it, so we can have it for lunch the next day. He likes his with vinegar. I like mine with lemon. You might like to make your own dipping sauce like tartar or mayo with New Orleans spice + red pepper to spice things up even more.

Ingredients:
6 fillets of Cod (cut into smaller portions)
1 cup of flour
1 tspn. cajun spice
1 tspn. red pepper
1 tspn. garlic powder
pinch of salt

     Combine all spices with the flour. Leave Cod moist and dredge in mixed flour. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour and then dredge again. Deep fry in very hot vegetable oil till golden brown.