Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Salad

This is a reprint from our cookbook, Food and What Feeds Us.  It is is one of my favorite recipes and a holiday favorite.  Yesterday I bought a pecan pie but couldn’t stay out of it last night (hardly even a slice gone  ... yummy!!)  I cut my homemade egg noodles this morning and tonight I will make a big batch of cranberry salad.   I consider it “middle-of-the-winter-medicine” as it practically 90% vitamin C. 
Have a marvelous Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Salad

 It is Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, an entire day set aside for gratitude. Yesterday I made a batch of home made egg noodles; the first batch I have made in many years.  And I must admit it was a little trickier than I hoped.  I had called my brother, Gary (an incredible cook, he could be the Emeril of KCMO) for a few tips and got his recipe.  I got the noodles made, rolled out and cut, and I think they will be fine. And then I made my first batch of cranberry salad for the season.  It is red and beautiful and I had to test it this morning ~ it is yummy !!!!!!!!

On the eve of every winter holiday, you could walk into my parent’s small kitchen and there they would be. The kitchen looks similar from year to year, only the outfits change.  

Mom and Dad … standing side by side, cutting the fruit, sorting the berries, and grinding everything into that scrumptious red delight.  My Mom said that she originally got the recipe off the back of the cranberry bag, but I have not found it there for a very long time. They made at least a double batch every Thanksgiving.  My sister and I set in front of the TV on Friday night and we ate bowls of … not ice cream, but cranberry salad. We fought for the last bite every year; you may imagine that I am kidding, but I am totally serious. The first thing I remember asking my parents for Christmas after I left home, was my own grinder to make cranberry salad.  It was necessary to carry on the tradition.

And so I would like to share this recipe with you on this day, quickly, as I must get my turkey in the oven. 

Cranberry Salad

1 qt. fresh cranberries ( two 12 oz. bags)
3 oranges – leave the peel on one
2 apples
2 cups sugar ( I only use 1 cup, try honey or agave)
1 cup black walnuts
1 pkg. cherry jell-o

Set up your grinder.  Make up your jell-0 with only one cup of hot water and set aside to cool.  Wash the berries, cut out the bad spots and discard the soft ones. Cut the apples and oranges into 6 to 8 slices each.  Do not peel the apples but do cut out the core.  Feed the fruit into the grinder, it is fun … the cranberries pop and the oranges juice up.  I do not put my walnuts through the grinder; I chop them up into little pieces and add to the mixture.  Stir in the sugar and liquid jell-o.  Refrigerate overnight.  It gets better every day … and then it’s gone.  I freeze some every year to pull out in the middle of summer and then I eat it mostly frozen.  It is almost pure Vitamin C. 

Enjoy. And thank you, Mom and Dad.  I will always love you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Morning Miracles 11-11-11

I don’t normally consider waking up at 4:46am to be a miracle, but this morning it was moonbeams falling across my comforter that softened the blow.  I was instantly aware of pain in my head; it felt as if I had a tightening band of steel wrapped right about by eyebrows. I get this when my neck is out of alignment or I haven’t swallowed enough water the day before. I did some neck crunches, relaxing on the out breath to see if that would help ~ maybe a little.
I sat up and pushed aside books and magazines and rearranged my pillow so that I was laying sideways across me bed. The moon light caressed my face.  She was gorgeous, huge and round and I felt a funny kind of warmth in her glowing-ness. I played with the moonbeams, gazing through my eyelashes, or squinting my eyes to make shafts of light shoot off from her roundness in all directions. Silently we played together; I, warm under my downy quilts and she, Morning Queen of the Heavens.

Ka-da-thump.  I heard my cat, Magic, jump off her perch in the living room and then she plopped up on my bed. Pulling my right hand out I scratched her ears and then she showed me where she really needed it. She walked around and over me, seemingly curious about my strange position in bed.  She sat by head without blocking my vision of the moon. Gently she reached forward. I recoiled, rather violently, from her cold wet nose where she touched me right between, and a little above, my eyebrows. Nonplussed, she did it again and this time I was ready and the effect was soft and fuzzy.
I was instantly aware that the band around my forehead was gone, the pressure was released. It was if she had found the release button and set me free! One cold wet nose like a magician’s wand. I thanked her profusely, she jumped off the bed with another ka-da-thump, and trotted off.

Well, I don’t really know what this day, 11-11-11, will bring  ~  a new era?  a new paradigm?  or same old blessings (!) but it was a marvelous start to this Friday!
One thing is for sure, a person can never have "too much" Magic in their lives! I will be looking for more on this portentous day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

More Ramblings of a Road Trip

Yesterday, walking up Lynnell’s road I stopped to tie my shoe.  As i stood up I noticed a hairy, black tarantula right between my shoes. I think I squeaked!  Where did he come from?  When we go back to look at him he rises up on his hind legs, posturing defensively. Yes, he does look bigger and it works. I am so out of here!

Last night we talked about how  out here in the high desert with absolutely NO light pollution, the stars come right down to the horizon.  There are stars apparently sitting in the treetops on top the canyon wall. They are decorated for the holidays!  It is incredibly beautiful!
8:45 am. Wave goodbye to Abiquiu.

Today, I am on the road heading north, home.
White flanks of antelope, glow in the sunshine
… then for the next ten miles every white rock cluster in the scrubby grass promises to be another herd
Bleached white rib bones curl towards the barb wire fence ~ another victim
Elk crossing sign seems to warn away that very creature
Tears well up, never quite enough to fall out of me, just enough to blur that, which in front of me, wants so badly to recognized as reality. Is this it?
Thoughts that Patricia will never again share this scenery
.... but then again, maybe she is sitting here beside me …
… maybe these are all her observations, reminding me to pay attention ….
I forgot it was October 31 until I stopped for a cup of coffee and handed my $1.50 to an impressive Queen of Hearts! Fun!
11:15 Alamosa ~ catch 17 straight north …. great short cut.
According to one property owner, Hwy 17 is the official UFO Highway; complete with watchtower, camp ground and small geodesic observatory … I keep my eyes open! They must be with the elk!
Sand Dunes on my east, I wave and call out to my friends that live in Crestone.
Joyful Journey Hot Springs looks very prosperous and that makes me feel good. If Patricia were here we would stop for an hour, but alone, I don’t feel enough inspiration … I drive on.
Down into Pagosa Springs, I missed the golden cottonwoods ~ last week’s snow fall must have worn them out.
Salida.   Patricia, remember the time I forgot my suit. We were heading south and we left the highway and popped into the local Wal-Mart.  I still have that bathing suit.
Collegiate Peaks, Arkansas River valley, Dvorak’s Rafting Co …. Earlier time, different friends, glad I lived to tell that story!!
Wide open South Park, rimmed by snow tipped mountains, so close. Light dusting of snow still on the ground.
1:30 Fairplay.  Might miss Denver rush hour , that would be good.

Wait for it … wait for it … ah, there it is. On Kenosha Pass there is one pull off that Patricia showed me the very first time we drove to New Mexico together.  Park the car, locate the small opening in the fence, find a private spot in the junipers, listen for voices, check the wind, squat and pee.  We discussed how much we enjoy peeing outdoors while we were peeing outdoors.  On more shared memory.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

This is a major life lesson for me that I have been peeling away, like layers of the proverbial onion, for many years.  Like an onion, the pure essence of it often brings me to tears and yet I know that if I persevere, render it to smaller pieces, then apply heat with a dollop of soothing oil, a transformation will occur ~ a softening ~ as the pungency caramelizes before my very eyes and is now a sweet concoction that will enhance any recipe that it is added to.

I have rushed the process and ended up with a smoky, bitter mess. And all you can do now is clean up the mess and begin again. One time, when the experiment had gone too far awry, I threw away the ruined pan and left the kitchen.  It may have seemed like the only answer at the time, but in the end it left me hungry.
I am ready to try again; gonna need more onions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Place of Worship

I wrote this as I drove away from Abiquiu, New Mexico.  It was inspired by a conversation sitting in a beautiful sun room with new friends.
My Place of Worship

The landscape is my cathedral,
this rock shall be my pew
and a dandelion leaf my communion.
The bird and the cricket form my choir
and their tracks in the dirt are my hymnal.
The clouds across the azure sky, my stained glass windows,
even as the night-time sky is an open portal welcoming me in.
The trees are my elders,
this pungent sage, my incense.
My love for you shall be an unending tithe.
I kneel beside my horse, in awe of all that I witness.
Dear God, Goddess, Creator of all that is,
thank you for this sanctuary.
No walls to hold me in, nor others "out".
Bless you for this day.