January 3rd Avocado Egg Toast

Saw a great idea on Foodnetwork this morning and decided to try it as a great alternative for breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack.  It is healthy, has the good type of fat and a nice amount of protein.  I toasted a couple of pieces of whole wheat bread, smashed 1/2 of a nice ripe avocado on the slices, sprinkled with a little salt and some lemon and then topped with slices of a hard boiled egg topped with a little more salt and some pepper.  It was delish!


I need some easy things to make for breakfast so I don’t default to cereal, high in carbs and sugar. I like to scramble eggs, but some mornings I do not have the time to sauté the vegetables to make the eggs interesting and more nutritional. Plus, I like cheese with my scrambled eggs and if I want to cut some bad fat and calories, I need to add cheese less often.  So having avocados and hard boiled eggs on hand make this a great alternative that is so easy to make in the mornings.

Substitute the toast with pita bread and this would be easy to pack for lunch.  Take the ingredients to work and make it when you are ready to eat it.    I like it and plan on using it often.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It truly is for me.  I love Christmas for several many reasons.

I begin decorating the inside of our home the weekend of Thanksgiving, while my husband is decorating the outside. We have a very festive home in and out, and I love waking every morning and turning on the tree.  My Santa collection always gives me a happy, holiday feeling. The Poinsettias are on the tables and the holiday stuffed animals are scattered throughout.  It is fun!

I make lists and lots of them.  There are several lists of menus I will cook while the family is together.  Then there is the grocery lists – I have several, shopping lists, cleanings list.  Checking things off my lists shows me I am accomplishing goals as we move closer to the  main event.

My shopping is finished and all the packages that need to be mailed have arrived at their destinations.  Yea! That is a big relief.

This year, right now, our daughter and her family, which includes a granddaughter, are on their way here for the holidays.  It will be a long, eleven hour drive for them, but hey, they are young.  Last year we made the drive and we are not nearly as young as we used to be.

Our son and his family live here, and that includes a granddaughter, so the whole family will be together and that is my most favorite time ever.  I absolutely love it when we have the whole family together.

The Christmas meal will include my mom who is 91, my older sister (no need to mention her age) my nephew and his family which includes a great-niece and our whole family.  Does it get any better than that?  Well, yes, we are missing my other two siblings, including Tricia and Devin and my brother and his two girls.

I like listening to the Christmas carols.  They play in the house and in the car. Some make me feel happy – like Burl Ives and “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.  Some make me feel nostalgic, like “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, and some give me a feeling of thankfulness and can bring a tear to my eyes, like “O Holy Night”.

I am a spiritual person.  Realizing that the Christ was not really born this time of year, and He would not be impressed with the way we have totally forgotten the real reason for his birth, I still try to keep the remembrance of Him separate from the Christmas hype. “O Holy Night” brings me back and makes me think again about how awesome the occasion was and how awestruck I should be when thinking about that sweet baby, born in a manger, just for me.

So, I guess you could say I love the pagan part of the holiday and the religious part of the holiday. As I said at first, I love Christmas for several reasons.

The holiday began last night with family coming over for some white chili and the best cornbread ever (a recipe from the Baldpate Inn near Estes Park, CO) and the holiday overeating will continue through next Saturday.  There is enough food and goodies to last us for weeks.  So, it will be leftovers for Dale and I after everyone has gone home.

It is the most wonderful time of the year – enjoy!



China and “Gotcha Day.”

17 Years ago I was in China with my sister. Tricia was adopting a precious one-year-old baby girl and we went to bring her home.

Oh, she was so adorable!  All the children were just precious.  We were in a group of several parents, and we all traveled together, so we got to know each other pretty well.  Wonderful parents, wonderful babies. Of course, ours was the cutest.

We spent several days traveling around and doing some sightseeing while all the paperwork was being handled, and it was an unforgettable experience.  The Chinese people are so friendly. They would come up and admire our babies and try to show us how happy they were we were there despite the language barrier.  Another interesting thing about the Chinese women is they feel very strongly about having hats on those babies.  We had one woman stop us and smile and gesture that Devin needed her hat on.

We were not in the metropolitan areas, we were more urban. I was hesitant to go to China because I am not a very adventurous eater and I was not so sure what there was that I would like.  Turns out, nothing. My sister had a different experience with the food and came home and incorporated a lot of the menu into her and Devin’s eating habits.  I lost eight pounds in two weeks while there.  Something about the whole chicken – and I mean after it was cooked – just left me wanting.  Not all their food was bad, but in my opinion, most of it was. I subsided on roasted sweet potatoes, instant oatmeal I brought from home and M&Ms.

That little one-year-old is soon to be 18.  Tricia and I met Devin for the first time on December 8.  We call that “Gotcha Day.”  So, instead of her birthday, I always give her a gift on “Gotcha Day.” It is something only I do as I was the only other family member in China at that time. It is special to Devin and I, and I am so thankful we have that between us. Her mom frets every year that I might forget and she says Devin looks so forward to my card.  But, I would never forget such a special day as December 8.

“Gotcha Day.”  It is a very special day.



I always like to eat seafood when I am in the south.  Actually, I like to eat seafood anywhere, but it is better in some places than others.  While I was visiting my brother in Montgomery, Alabama, I requested eating some fish.  He had just the place in mind.  As we were driving there I could see we kept getting further away from the city and more into the industrial area.  We passed the metal recycling place, a trash dump, several abandoned houses, and I was getting nervous.  When we turned into the place where the restaurant was located, I was surprised to say the least.  Had I not been with someone who was familiar with the Capitol Oyster Bar, I would have made a big U turn and been outta there. It is a dive, and there is just no other way to describe it.  But, when we went inside, the place fascinated me.  I was immediately drawn into its ambiance.  It was not that is was beautiful or even modern.  The place had an energy that was palpable. As we walked in, there were a couple of fellows working a big sink full of snow crab – yum! We sat inside because it was cold, but there was an outdoor balcony that overlooked a very old and very underused marina.  Some of the boats looked deserted. The server was the nicest southern gal and she gave us our placemats that were also the menu. The bar looked like it was made from an old wooden fishing boat.  I ordered the Swai dinner and it was worlds more than I could eat, but man was it good.  John ordered one of the specials, grouper cheeks.  He nor I had ever heard of that, but it was delicious.  Also, the best coleslaw – not the creamy kind, and hush puppies. Every Sunday night they have a music performer of some renown, and I am guessing that is a fun place to be.  They even have a print out of the performers who are scheduled for the month.  The server told us they have people sharing chairs on some Sunday nights. What a fun place!  Oyster Bar Menu Oyster Bar Capitol Oyster Bar DSC_1772 DSC_1792 DSC_1791 DSC_1784 DSC_1783 DSC_1778 DSC_1777


An Evening with a Friend

So, it is about 20 degrees here and it has been snowing all day.  I have yet to get out of my pajamas.  I did finally get everything out of the dining room because a friend invited me to the “red carpet” opening of the a Denver Film Festival film and so I invited her to dinner here first.

I love a reason to finally get something accomplished that I have stalled and procrastinated with.  So today, I was forced to find a home for everything in the dining room that was put there when the kitchen was painted.  It felt good to get that room back.  I now have the table set for Cream of Asparagus soup, a great loaf of bread with garlic I am roasting and the Basil Infused Olive Oil that Laura and I bought during an olive oil tasting while in Napa, plus some of the Domaine Chandon bubbly we had shipped home.  Fortunately, I could spend the day cleaning and de-cluttering because I made the soup a week or so ago and froze it for a day like today.  My daughter does not like this particular soup, so this is the perfect night to use it.

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I am just very pleased with the clean house and the evening ahead.  It will be a nice, warm dinner with a good friend followed by The Imitation Game about the man who cracked the code used by the Germans in World War 2.  These kind of spontaneous get-togethers make me happy.  I love having my friends over and wish I did it more often, but sadly, my house is almost always in some sort of disarray and all of my friends’ houses always appear to be in perfect condition.

But for now, the kitchen is clean, a cool new sign hangs on the wall that I found just yesterday on Antique Row, dinner was made ahead of time, the dining room is clear of clutter and looks welcoming and I have a nice evening ahead.  I am going to need to bundle and layer up, but am still looking forward to it.



The Advantage of Cooking with Dull Knives, There is no blood shed

Although my sister will disagree with me, I find cooking with dull knives much safer.  I am a good cook, and I cook a lot, and I cook for lots of people quite often.  So, today I am cutting the potatoes and carrots for my stew using my very favorite dull knife.  It is serrated (which helps the cutting a little bit) and it is a lovely orange color.  Well, that is a selling point for the knife right there because our college team’s colors are orange and black. While sawing away today I even sawed the tip of my finger, and it didn’t even bleed!  I’m thinking that is a plus.  My sister, however, cooks dangerously – she uses sharp knives. When she is at my house she gripes and complains the whole time about my knives, so for a gift she gave me what she thought was a really good gift – a sharp knife.  Well, I put it in the drawer and looked at it for months.  It is super big and really, really long.  Unfortunately, one day she asked the fatal question, “so how do you like your knife.” Hmmmm, how to tell her that so far I have only watched it. That thing scares me!! I mean I could lose a hand or something.  And, I think it weighs 12 pounds, But wanting to show her how much I appreciated the gift – NOT – I used it.  I cuts wonderfully and speeds up my preparation of food.  But where is the fun in that.  So I am back to watching the knife. It does look really good in my drawer.My favorite knife


Daughters and Chicken Noodle Soup: Two really awesome joys.

I sit here at the computer while my 17 year old makes homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch without a recipe.  Life is good.


I did not really start cooking until she was about 8 and I realized that if I continued that way we were going, she would only know how to warm stuff up.  She would not really know how to cook, with recipes or without, because I mostly just put stuff together that needed to be warmed up.  So I started watching foodnetwork and realized that I loved to cook.  When Devin was 10, I made her responsible for one meal a week.  She could take the easy route of prepared food like canned soup every once and awhile, but I let her know I wanted her to learn to cook.  I got a couple of cookbooks specific for children and off she went.  She made pad thai as one of her first attempts.  From there she took off and I am so proud that she makes stuff up, cooks without a recipe and trusts her ability to combine ingredients.  She makes all kinds of meals now and rarely follows a recipe.

She is really great at asian sauces.  Over time, we have tried all kinds of recipes that we find in magazines, cookbooks or from watching America’s Test Kitchen.  I am working on a cookbook complete with photos of the preparation and final dish so I can print and bind it as a reminder of our favorite “family” recipes.

it just does not take that much effort to build family traditions, empower your kids to be self-sufficient while building their confidence.  A little thought, a little planning, a little creativity…..I cannot say how much I have enjoyed cooking for and with her these past 9 years.  I am proud and thrilled to know that she will grow up to be a skilled, creative and accomplished cook.


Speaking of Canning

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I am not a canner…have never canned in the traditional sense.  But this year’s crop of tomatoes and apples have made me do something akin to canning.  I have made tomato blue cheese soup, marinara, salsa, roasted tomatoes and frozen them for later use.  I just discovered after 25 years that even if the apples look sort of worm-ridden on the outside, they are actually perfect on the inside.  Who knew….I just assumed that if I did not spray for worms, that the apples would all have worms inside them, but that’s not the case.  So I have just made 10 jars of apple butter from our old family recipe and with the apples left on the tree, I could make many more.  I boiled the jars to make sure they were clean and then after I filled them, I put them back into boiling water and boiled for about 10 minutes.  I have no idea if that will make the jars shelf-safe, but here’s trying.  I can hear a couple of them popping their lids and have no idea what that means.  I guess I should get my second refrigerator fixed so I have a place to store all of the bounties of my garden!

I still have something to figure out for the golden tomatoes I have left and I have a ton of apples that I could do something else with.  I am not a fan of apple sauce and neither is Devin, so that idea is out.  i think egg roll wrappers with some cooked apples inside and then fried up in the cast iron skillet might be next.   T.


I like canning.

It is relaxing to can.  I love to look at the jars sitting on the shelf, and I am tempted to not use them so I do not deplete my source of visual enjoyment. The latest addition to my shelf is Green Pepper Relish.  I harvested 13 green peppers from the garden and I needed to preserve them, so here is the product.  The recipe is very easy.

12 green peppers and 6 onions with 6 hot peppers (optional)

Chop peppers and onions in a processor and pour boiling water over them and let stand.

In a large pot, mix and boil
3 cups vinegar
3 cups sugar
3 TBLS salt
1 TEA celery seed and 1 TEA mustard seed.

Drain peppers, add to vinegar mixture and boil again.  Pour into properly prepared jars and process 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

Voila!! Yummy over cream cheese served with crackers, a relish for hot dogs and any number of other uses.

Green Pepper Relish