Hot Sauce, Casserole, and Soup

From this pile of dishes and utensils…messaftercooking

…emerged these meals:

Veg-CVFPorkSausage-Cassarole vegsoup-hotsauce

On top, is a vegetable and pork sausage casserole. The sausage is from our Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm meat share; most of the veggies are from my garden and include potatoes, tomatoes, yellow sweet peppers, runner beans, tomato sauce, eggplant, garlic, chives, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Things not from the garden include a generous helping of mozzerella cheese, broccoli, tomato paste, celery salt, organic no salt seasoning, a bit of agave syrup instead of suger and paprika. It is VERY tasty, kind of like a cross between a shepherd’s pie and eggplant parmesean.

On the bottom right is a jalepeno hot sauce with jalepenos, tomatoes, tomatillos and garlic from the garden along with a little dash of dill vinegar and organic honey (not from my hive yet though). So good with tortilla chips!

On the bottom left is a vegetable stock made from whatever I needed to use up from the garden. I’ve been freezing the excess for the past 6 weeks and wanted to use it up before it developed off flavors, as I didn’t blanch anything prior to freezing. In addition to the bountiful tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers, this includes a LOT of dark leafy greens, including kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli leaves. My broccoli never flowered, but I discovered the leaves, minus the tough inner veins, taste just like the flower and are great for juicing, shredding and other uses. To make this stock I put all of the frozen, pureed vegetables in one pot, added Bragg’s and Costco organic no salt seasoning, plus maybe a dash of celery salt, and after about 40 minutes I had stock. To make a quick, delicious creamy soup I added some drinkable yougurt. Yum!

I must admit that my new Vitamix indespensible for making juices, salsas, or anything requiring blending. I bought my first one 20 years ago, and finally wore it out. It is an amazing appliance…I won’t do the full commercial but I will say this: it is my favorite appliance, and it actually does work as advertised. I spent a lot of money years ago and it became and integral part of how I operate in the kitchen. When it started to die I was dismayed. I couldn’t afford to buy one new this time, but a co-worker with a knack for bargain hunting tipped me off to a lady who was selling hers, less than a year old, for half the price! It seems I should have retired my old one years ago. I didn’t realize how poorly it performed in the last few years until I powered up the new one. So now I am back in business.


The Very Rough Draft

hornets nest

hornets nest

What shall I write?

I have not blogged in a while.

I’ll start a post, I’ll kvetch in style.

I can’t think of a topic, but I know if I start,

If I just keep on typing, soon it will be art!

Half a day later, I’m sitting in bed, cruising on Facebook, to see what friends said.

Oh no! Oh crap! Can it be true? I published that draft? And tweeted it too?

When did that happen? What did I do? When I thought I was saving….I sent it on through!

Quick! Hit delete! I wonder who read

that part of a post that I’d rather not send.

What to do now, should I try and complete it, update the post the way I really mean it?

Should I just ignore it, and hope for the best? Hide my embarrassment, try not to get stressed?

Or just write a poem to remind all of you

That when you are blogging, before you are through

Be Extra Careful to save but not publish

those very rough drafts that are pretty much rubbish.

On Finally Organizing my Photo Box….

Or, rescuing my life from the Black Abyss

I’m having half-forgotten ages gone by spinning thru my head
It is close to midnight and I just realized
why it is a bad idea
to let my boss buy starbuck’s coffee at 3:30 in the afternoon
Even if it does show I’m not lazy, just fighting off afternoon tedium
I am 39 will help me god live to 40

I have thin fit 20’s
wise enough 30’s
and enough grey hair
that they stopped carding me years ago

A garden in time past
impossible, at last
flowers of another era make me smile
at my son and his future to be




Michelangelo: Study of a Striding Male

I’ve been reading a great blog called The Culture Monk  by Kenneth Justice. You should check him out, he’s got a ton of thought-provoking posts and the one I just read is titled “Getting Naked for Art is Wrong…Really?”

The post reminded me of funny story…when I was an art student in college I took figure drawing as required for my major. At the end of the semester my Italian Nonna wanted to see what I’d done over the semester so my Mom and I packed the car with my art to take it over to her. I started pulling out the nude figure drawings to leave them behind. My Mom said, “Why aren’t you bringing those? I think you should”. I was mortified. Show the nude drawings to my modest, religious little old grandma?  But my Mom just said, “All those old churches in Italy have nudes in them. Let’s see how she reacts”. Reluctantly, I agreed to bring them. It turns out, she really liked them. Particularly a pastel drawing of a very handsome young man with nice buns.

It wasn’t until years later when I went to Italy on my honeymoon that I understood why Nonna was ok with her granddaughter drawing naked men. My Mom was right…it wasn’t just the frescos in the churches that had nude and semi-nude figures in them (and not all of them were stick-thin). There were centuries-old larger-than-life marble statues out in the streets like someone forgot to put them away. We never actually made it to see the David because the line was so long and there was so much else to see and yeah, there was a lot of nudity. But you didn’t think of it as overtly sexual, it was just amazing art depicting the beauty of the human form.

Now, It is possible my Nonna didn’t realize there was an actual naked handsome man in the classroom that the class was drawing. Or maybe she did.



intimacy painting by laura lencioni acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 40″

waking up in the middle
waking up in the middle of the
wake up in the middle of the night

have you ever built a life
only to have it evaporate from underneath your fingertips…

I want to crumble in your arms tonight,
and in your love
to give up the fight

have you ever built a life
only to have it evaporate from underneath your fingertips…

can’t say if its wrong or right
I keep waking up in the middle of the night

have you ever built a life
and have it evaporate from underneath your fingertips…

and the echo of our love survives
whispers to a future that seems bright

I can’t say if it is wrong or right
I just keep waking up in the middle of the night

Less is More….Blueberries


Sometimes I make things overly complicated. And fuss too much. But I mean well.

When my brother brought me blueberries from his farm, he also brought over 8 cartons for my elderly uncles, who live a couple of blocks from me. As I washed and froze and made compote and organized all the berries, it occurred to me, “gosh, that’s an awful lot of berries for the uncles to figure out what to do with. I should make stuff they like to eat”. I thought out this whole menu of blueberry items I could make them over the course of the next few months from the frozen berries. I ran it past Andy, who gave me the green light to use the berries to make tasty snacks for the uncles. I held back two fresh cartons, and two frozen bags, and brought them over to the uncles. When I was dropping them off, I started to ask them about various blueberry items they might like to eat.

It may amuse you to know that the uncles were not interested in blueberry pancakes, coffee cake, or muffins. When I asked one uncle what he’d like me to make, he looked me in the eye (while simultaneously stuffing a handful of fresh blueberries in his mouth) “Why would you do all that extra work?”.

I was taken aback. These guys are known to have a sweet tooth, and, well, Italians like food in general. This uncle in particular is the guy who taught me most of what I knew about gardening until I was in my 30’s and who used to like to cook stuff for me all the time. But I realized he wasn’t trying to save me from doing all that work…he really just wanted to eat the berries straight. They didn’t need any improvement. Less is more. Maybe there’s a lesson there…I’m having a hard time articulating it but I think I need to learn how to recognize when things are already perfect, and then know when to just stop and enjoy.

I left them a couple of containers of fresh and a couple of bags of frozen berries and told him to call me when they run out. I suspect they had blueberries for dinner tonight.



Here are some blueberries from my brother’s farm! He just dropped off a box of 8 cartons at my house for me, and another box for our uncles down the road. While not certified organic, he has never sprayed his blueberry bushes.
What to do with that many berries? I washed and froze most of them in ziplock bags. For most fruits I slice and freeze them on cookie sheets prior to storing in ziplock bags in order to keep them from turning into one big block of fruity ice. However, with the blueberries I’ve found that as long as you drain the water thoroughly and stack the bags flat, the berries don’t stick to each other too much. This saves some time.

There were a couple cartons that were getting soft, so I made blueberry compote. One carton was past its prime so I am using it in homemade enzyme cleaner (aka fruit vinegar). So that leaves me with four cartons frozen, two jars of delicious compote, and one carton will be combined with various citrus fruits to make cleaner and one to eat fresh! I also will probably use a very small number of them to experiment with making my own inks to draw with. I’ve been experimenting with some different berries lately and I would like to post a video of my drawing experiments some time in the near future.

All I had to do is get stung helping to Install his beehives in the rain this spring….actually, Andy would have given them to me anyway, and I don’t need blueberries to help with the bees : )

Thanks, Andy!