Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food: The Mother Who Feeds

Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food: The Mother Who Feeds.
"In this world, apart from our spiritual practice, there is no other place or power that we can rely on." Supreme Master Ching Hai

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This is NOT my work. But I wish it was, because it's all so true! Too good not to pass on. (Italics are my comments.) Enjoy!

*** Adult Truths ***
1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch three consecutive times and still do not know what time it is. 
2. Nothing stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong. 
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. 
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font. (Um ya!)
5. How in the world are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? (I don't fold them. I wad them up and shove them in my linen closet, whose doors don't even close all the way. No apologies. In my opinion, there is no damn way to have an organized linen closet.)
6. Was learning cursive really necessary? 
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood. 
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died. (I disagree. I think it's way more fun to try to figure out who offed themselves vs. who died of AIDS.)
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired. 
10. Bad decisions make good stories. (No shit!! I need to blog about the Great Raccoon Caper.)
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day. 
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection... again. 
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to. (Worse yet when it says: "Do you want to revert to the originally saved copy of ______?" Learned that the hard way when I lost 9 pages of test notes last semester. Grrr!)
14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. (I would NEVER do this, because that would be RUDE.) (Where's that sarcasm font again??!)
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well. (Why?? Everything looks like a giant ice block anyway, and it's a grab bag treasure chest in there. Having a light would be of no use to me unless I defrosted the damn thing.)
16. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option. 
17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger. (is there a LINE?)
18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said? (I do this ALL the time!! In fact, my sister told me recently: BRING YOUR GOOD EAR OVER HERE!! She's totally right. I'm deaf as a post.)
19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! (This warms my heart on the rare occasion that it happens. See my post entitled: Is that a cop behind those blackberries?)
20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever. (I used to believe this was true, when I could still fit into a decent pair of jeans, until one time I walked around all day thinking, God in Heaven, what is that SMELL?? Yup, the jeans. Gross.)
21. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey -but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time. (Amen.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'll be sticking to recipes from now on....

Oh, yeah. I heard it alright. Apparently I cannot discuss family, even with great sarcasm, without eternal retribution.... so I will just stick to recipes and funny anecdotal whimsy from now on. Apparently my "tone" of humor does not translate well to the black and white.

SO.... My foodie friend Jacki and I have been discussing vinaigrette's, and our obsession with flavored vinegars.  Since a friend of mine on the coast sent me an email today wondering about vinaigrette's, this discussion was apropos. Sarah was telling me that she had been served a salad in a restaurant coated with a lovely balsamic vinaigrette, and that she'd been trying to replicate it ever since. The problem, she said, was that she couldn't replicate the "creamy" texture, and wondered if I knew how to make it. 

The misnomer here is that people think there's actually cream in creamy vinaigrette's, when we all know that if we think about it, cream and vinegar=curdles=yuck! I actually learned how to make a creamy vinaigrette from my sister Karena, who makes a kick-ass salad dressing from scratch. She was the one who taught me how to make the worlds best snack plate, so kudos to you, sissy, for showing this old dog a new trick.  

So back to the creamy: there are a few different ways to achieve that creamy consistency that you're looking for in a good home-made vinaigrette. If you want a cheesy component, any soft cheese crumble adds a wonderful creaminess. I like blue cheese crumbles, which have their own musty flavor and texture. But if you are wanting a non-cheesy creamy dressing, the best way to "cream" up your concoction is with fruit or mustard. I prefer Coleman's dry mustard, but bottled works too, but with a sharper flavor.  Other must haves: fresh garlic, some kind of fresh or dried herb, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Don't be stingy with that salt!

Give this recipe a whirl, literally:

Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, ala Jacki

A handful of fresh or frozen blueberries
About 1/8th cup of Blueberry Basil Vinegar, or plain balsamic if you don't have a flavored vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic
Olive oil
8-10 basil leaves washed and thinly sliced
In a blender puree the blueberries until smooth. Add to blender: vinegar, some S/P and garlic.  Puree.  Now, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you get the consistency and taste of dressing you want. There is no specific formula for this, the trick is TASTE. Most of the time, it works out to be a little over half a cup.  After blending, readjust the seasonings by TASTE and then add the basil.  Give all of this a good stir, or even one or two more pulses in the blender and there you have it...HOMEMADE dressing..lasts a good week or so. This works with any fresh/frozen fruit, and any flavored vinegar. Just think about your fruit combinations before you whirl. 

Happy "Fall Greens" dressing! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What are sisters for?

I'm sure I'm going to hear about this post, in some way or the other. But when something's on my mind, it's on my mind, and I have to get it out there.

My girlfriends and I talk about the subject of family quite often. Many of us are part of large families. Most of us have a sister, and a few of us just have a brother or two out there. ALL of us wonder the same thing: How is it possible that we're related to these people?! Who said that just because you have the same mother you should be friends? It's a proven fact that is is a bullshit lie, so who made up this rule?

Now, some background: Along with assorted step siblings, I have four sisters. Every one of them more beautiful than me, all of them smarter than me, and every last one of them lacks any need whatsoever for my advice on life. I am the oldest, so I have always suffered from the fallacy that I must pave the way for those behind me. I  don't know why it was my lot to be the guinea pig of experimentation; the long suffering "first" to experience the worst that life has to offer, but somewhere along the line I began to believe it was this way so that I could protect my sisters from having to experience the same thing. (Um, this didn't work, obviously.) Back to the belief that I was doing something admirable: I chalk it up to my mother's brainwashing that as the oldest it was somehow my responsibility. The problem is, no one ever clued my sisters in as to how appreciative they should be of my greatness. This posed some problems for us as we all made our way into adulthood.

I had five children in ten years, all while my sisters were getting their college educations, buying houses, and becoming two income families without kids. I didn't go to school until my baby was 18 months old, and I was 31 years of age. Needless to say, I do not recommend this course of action, and I would choke the life out of any of my five children if they dared to follow in my footsteps. I have done plenty of brainwashing of my own regarding getting married at 18 and focusing on nothing but procreation before you are old enough to buy a drink. But that's another story for another day. I bring it up because I think we've done a pretty good job with our kids, and I'm proud of the way that they were raised. Of course, once I went to college and learned a few things, I can see that there were many other ways they could have been raised, and "advice" my sisters tried to give me about their upbringing all made sense to me finally, once I became a more enlightened person. Doesn't mean I felt at the time they were qualified in any way to dispense that advise! My mantra used to be: "When you get a kid of your own, then we'll talk!" I'm still waiting on a single phone call asking my advice, and I have nieces and nephews approaching their tenth year of life at this writing.... once again, ingrates! Don't they realize how much I know??!

Having said that much, all of the children in my family, yours, mine and ours, have a college education. We have a doctor, a nurse, four teachers, a writer, and a medical transcriptionist. Everyone brings something to the table, and it's a lively group. I love each of my sisters for their own unique talents and lifestyles, and want the best for everyone. Why is it then, that when the five of us are together, it's like a freakin' dynamite keg waiting to explode?? I wonder what we're doing together, and why we attempt this a couple times a year.To boot, there's my mother, flitting like a butterfly amongst the flowers who are her daughters, trying to manipulate the whole shebang. Why can't there be some common ground on which all of us can stand, and enjoy each other for what we are?

As my bestie and I were discussing over lunch the other day, it's very frustrating to reach out, albeit tentatively, to a sibling only to have your feelings brushed aside as though he/she can't take time to even listen to what you're going through. And this brings me back to where I started: who says this should be an expectation anyway? Most of us agree that we wouldn't seek out people like our siblings to be friends with, and these Lifetime Movies of the week "sister relationships" are simply that: a Hollywood contrivance. So this begs the question, should we feel bad about that, or just embrace it as part of life, enjoy our sibling relationships the best we can when life throws us together, or should we continue to strive for that perfect sisterhood we read about in books? I don't have an answer, and am simply glad that all four of them continue to speak to me from time to time. If any of you out there know a spell, or a prayer, or a potion that we can use to help facilitate this most difficult fusion of people into one family, please share.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


It's Chili weather. Or chilly weather, whichever you prefer. Actually, the temps here lately have been in the low 80's, go figure. But the leaves are falling, and that makes me want to drag out the slow cooker and start whipping up stews and chillis!

I subscribe to Cuisine at Home, which is one of the best cooking magazines around, in my humble opinion. I love everything about it! The tips, the pictures, the recipes, etc. This month the theme is comfort foods, and that really feels like fall to me.  I pour through each new issue as soon as I get it, to plan what goodies I'll spring on the family that month. Mike dreads my slow cooker, because we survived on slow cooked meals while I was in college, and so he pretty much hates anything that comes out of a slow cooker! Just to fool him, I made last night's recipe in a pot on the stove:
Doesn't that look yummy? It was really good, but I will tell you this: It included eight Anaheim chilies and five jalapeno chilies. I usually roast my peppers before I use them, for two reasons:
1. I like the flavor of roasted chilies, because I think it's richer. There is nothing that smells better than a bag of freshly roasted chilies sweating on the counter top.
2. De-seeding these hot little devils is a snap after they're roasted.

This recipe called for all that pepper goodness to be chopped. RAW. So I did, and the coughing fit that ensued brought several concerned family members from other parts of the house to see if I needed a Heimlich! I consulted my fabulous chef guru friend, Jacki, to see if she thought the recipe would change much if I roasted the peppers next time instead of chopping them. I think the consensus of everyone who weighed in on the subject was that next time we should save my respiratory tract and roast as usual! So, just a heads-up: learn from me, and should you encounter a recipe that calls for chopped chilies, consider roasting them instead! Unless, of course, you enjoy sneezing, a runny nose, and bloodshot eyes. Oh, and heaven forbid you are tempted to wipe your face.....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm too old to worry about my parents being in jail....

So I get this cryptic email from my Daddy on Saturday. It says: "We don't keep in touch enough. Thanks for the birthday card. Helen brought it and your sister's card to me in jail. It was a real pick-me-up."

THAT'S IT. No explanation, just the carrot. Of course, I took the bait, and called him immediately. I was even more upset when his wife answered the phone, and I cut off her cheerful greeting:

ME: "Helen, why is my dad in jail??"
Helen: "Oh, he's not dear, I bailed him out. He's out back talking to the chickens."
ME: "Can I speak to him please?"

By the time he gets in from the coop, I'm calmer, only because, and I cannot make this up, the birthday card I sent him said this: (on the outside) "You're the best dad in the world!" (On the inside:) "Remember that if I ever call you to bail me out of jail." No lie. Just the thought of him opening that card while sitting on his ass in jail made me giggle.  (Side note: I've never been arrested in my life.)

So, instead of saying: "WTF??" which was my knee jerk reaction originally, I said instead: "Well, I guess my birthday card was apropos?!"

Turns out Daddy dearest (who has rescinded from society, long story) had a 4 year old bench warrant out on an unresolved traffic violation. He had a hallmark birthday this year: 70, so the memory must be going. He admits he forgot to renew his tags. When they pulled him over for expired tags and discovered an old warrant: voila! You get to spend your 70th birthday in the clink sir!

Just another day in the life of my pops, but I'm way too old to be worrying about my prostate cancer-ridden father sharing a cell with Joe Biker the cop killer in the county lock up. As he says: "All's well that ends well, daughter." Oy vey.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is that a cop behind those blackberries?

I want to tell you about the three arrests I made in the past 24 hours. That's right, ARRESTS.  One for speeding, one for talking on a cell phone while driving, and one for drag racing.  All witnessed by me, and all part of my dream to become an undercover traffic cop. I'd be  Of course, you wouldn't know I was there, because I'd be driving my 9 year old Saturn, looking like your average soccer mom. But that's the beauty of my dream job. You would feel free to commit your petty traffic crimes, unimpeded by  fear of the long arm of the law.... right up until I whip out my loud speaker and slap that red flashing light on the roof of my car as I pull your ass over.

YOU: "Um, what kind of cop are you?"
ME: "The undercover kind, who just observed you make sixteen lane changes in the past mile, going 55 in a 30 mph speed zone, without so much as one turn signal. Please step out of the vehicle."

Think of my dream job as a public service. I'd happily write citations, because Lord knows that there are never any cops around when I observe the heinousness that is East Vancouver transit. I know where they all hide. Each and every little nook and cranny. But it's amazing to me that they're only in their hiding spots when  I am tempted to break the law! Where are they at 12:30 am, when I am coming home from work watching cars break the law six ways until Sunday in the still of the night?  Where are the cops when the cell-phone holding twit-bag driving the Land Rover tries to side swipe me during an un-signaled lane change and almost upends her top-heavy vehicle in the process? Anyone who drives a Land Rover should be shot anyway, and I noticed she chatted her way into the IHOP parking lot after our near-miss this morning. Honey, may all those pancakes go straight to your ass.  You're welcome, and be glad that I didn't give you a ticket.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ghost stories, or just plain lunacy?

So I just enjoyed a wine tasting weekend with a couple of friends from work. We rented a VRBO in the dusty little wine-mecca of Walla Walla WA. There are almost 200 wineries in WW now, so to say that we didn't even scratch the surface of our wine-tasting potential would be more than accurate. Before we ever took our first sip, however, I was very pleased to encounter a friendly apparition looking curiously at me from the stairwell as we explored the rental house. The house appears to be a late 1800's craftsman, very typical for the area. Since I happen to see or hear "ghosts" from time to time, experiencing this was common place for me. For the two avid Christians I was spending the weekend with, however, this was not only frightening, but nightmare inducing, as evidenced by Kim's 3 am screaming fit.
Their take on this phenomenon is that all spirits are evil, because of a scripture that says something to the affect that if you're not in the presence of God then you're in the presence of evil. They were very disturbed by my causal mention of this "woman dressed as a pioneer," and they considered this person to be a demon.
I shared my feelings that all people, whether in spirit or in flesh are tied to one another by energy. I look at things as either good energy or bad energy. I am not interested in bad energy, and take daily measures to deflect negativity. It's when I allow my shields to come down, and absorb that negativity that I suffer mightily for it. When I accept the positive and welcome it, then I attract goodness.
For me it's cut and dry, but that's taking out any sort of religious component, and focusing on my own feelings. Just thought it was interesting to see the different aspects of those who believe solely in the bible and don't have an openness to any other sort of metaphysical teachings. There are so many interesting ways to think about things, and believing there's only "one way" is so limiting. To their credit, they expressed respect for my feelings, as I did for theirs, but I can't help but feel that shutting out all types of experiences really limits what we can accomplish in our short lives here on earth.
Oh well, the wine was good!

Entering the Blog universe

All of my friends who are cool have blogs. I thought it was time to create a place other than facebook where I could rant and rave about food, my kids, school, the hubster, and anything else that comes to my mind. Hope you like this look inside my madness!