Nothing like fresh air to give a person a sense of well-being.

Archived | January 26, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It’s been cold here, but a bit warmer lately and it feels good to work outside. I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon shoveling and cleaning up the porch. Nothing like fresh air to give a person a sense of well-being, even if your nose is dripping all the while.
I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, too. More than in the fall, when the whole comfort food thing sets in. After shoveling on Saturday, I came in and made some hot cider and went to town in the kitchen: two pepperoni pasta bakes, homemade garlic bread, banana bread, chocolate cherry cookies, and some artichoke dip. It was too much food for one family, so I ran some over to the neighbors, the Albertsons – a single mother with four children – who were more than happy to accept some pasta bake and bread and cookies.
I think Mr. Sundberg gets a bit stressed sometimes when I haul food to friends and neighbors. It gets to be a lot now and then, but I have a tough time enjoying a good meal when I know people even nearby don’t have much in the cupboards. I do know the food shelf is well-stocked and visited daily, but you can’t beat home cooking. You just can’t. Which has me thinking the Jorgensons haven’t been out of the house in weeks, ever since Walter had that operation. I think I’ll whip up a chicken pot pie. Maybe some raisin bread, too, and a lemon meringue pie. Mr. Sundberg won’t be home ’til early evening, so that will give me some time.
Life is full up with gifts, if you take a moment to notice. My thought is there’s more than enough to go around, so make it happen. Seems the way it ought to be, sharing what you’ve got. You’ll find you’re lacking for nothing, and you may even end up with more. You just never know.
I hesitate to admit it, but crock pots are a good thing – especially when your life is full and you’ve got little time to spare. Here’s something I made recently that was a big hit with the kids. Add a vegetable and some biscuits and you’re good to go.
Turkey Breast in the Crock Pot
1 turkey breast
1 (10 oz.) can turkey gravy
1-1/2 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine ingredients in crock pot and cook on high for an hour and low for six more.

Washing machine coma.

Archived | January 19, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It had been one long day and was I ever glad to kick back with a mug of hot spicy tea and listen awhile. The day had begun with me stripping all the beds to wash sheets before I dusted, vacuumed, and did the bathrooms. The usual. Only halfway through the huge pile of sheets, the washing machine started shimmying and the lights began to flash and then nothing. Washing machine coma.
Long story short, I got that thing going again without the help of someone wearing a tool belt, a pocket protector, or one of those headlamps spelunkers wear. I didn’t get violent. I didn’t holler, swear, or dig out a manual. I simply unplugged it, had a moment with the Universe, and plugged it back in — and managed to get all of the beds made before the show began.
Not sure whether it’s determination, genetic predisposition, or the fact that I eat hot oatmeal just about every day, but I’m not one to get all bent out of shape over something relatively minor going wrong. When you have stuff, you’ve got to assume responsibility for it. Which includes accepting that things aren’t going to go your way all of the time. The important thing is that you not freak out. Instead, take a while to breathe and let whatever has gone awry cool down, and then resume your attempt to do what needs doing.
Save the freaking out for the big stuff. And, even then, it’s surprising what a few breaths of fresh, cold air can do for one’s emotional landscape. Yes, indeed.
Every year about this time I crave a Polish dish called “golumpkis.” I met a wonderful woman some years back at a canning retreat and she went on and on about her golumpkis and sure enough the recipe came in the mail one January day. So here it is, and have at it.
Mrs. Sundberg’s Friend-Whose-Name-She-Can’t-Remember’s Stuffed Cabbage
1 head cabbage, about 3 lbs.
2 c. rice
1 lb ground beef
1 lb pork
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 onion, chopped (I recommend the Sweet Vidalia)
1 lg. can tomato juice
Cut deeply around the cabbage core to loosen leaves and boil 5 minutes. Take the leaves apart and set aside. Fry the onion until brown, and add the ground meats, salt and pepper, and fry until brown. Cook the rice and add to the meat. Mix well. Place a large spoonful of the mixture in the center of leaf and roll, folding sides over to seal in the meat. Place rolls side by side in a large pan. Pour the juice over top after you have seasoned with sugar, salt, Tabasco and garlic powder. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Feel free to add what you like to this recipe. Mushrooms are good, and beets work well.
Corn might really be something.

Something about January

Archived | January 11, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I spent the day cooking and baking and wound up with a pan full of meatballs, a pot of black bean soup, a dozen twice baked potatoes, a batch of molasses cookies on the counter, and a French silk pie in the freezer. Something about January. I’m constantly thinking about what I might cook next, and for whom, and with what new recipe I might bake up a storm of chocolated batter or nutmegged dough. Sometimes I even dream about food. Not about eating as much as creating, and those are almost as good as flying dreams.
My friend Angela dreamed last night about making a dress out of pasta. She told me all about it on the phone today, how the dress was made of dough dyed with black squid ink. The top of the dress lay in Grecian folds, with a similarly layered bodice while the skirt was more of a tube. The dress was a project in a competition for some reality show where you make stuff out of food, and in the dream, she won. Princess Pasta of the Milky Way. There was no prize, but I think she deserves a crown of semolina and a year’s supply of chocolate. I mean, come on. She ought to win just for coming up with the idea of a dress made of dough.
I’ve never worn a dress made of pasta, but I have thought, on occasion, during my bake fests, that I might like to be dipped in chocolate and decorated with dried fruit. I would resemble a work by Klimt and could be photographed and made into a postcard reading, “Welcome to Minnesota. Enjoy!” Or we could shoot for a Jackson Pollock and I could be splattered with condiments. Or maybe dip me in lingonberry jam and roll me in phyllo and sprinkled me with powdered sugar. Lord Almighty.
So much for paying bills this morning. Though I will say that every life needs a little bit of mystery, a bit of fun — whatever it is that makes a dream happen in a day. I don’t plan to greet Mr. Sundberg wearing a dress made of pasta. He’d tip over for sure, and we don’t want that. But I refuse to accept that I’ll never know what it feels like to dive into a pool of warm maple syrup. It’s in the realm of the possible. Sure is.
This recipe will engage your creativity in a big way. You may have to make these potatoes two or three times to get them just right, but it’s worth the effort.
Twice Baked Potatoes To Your Liking
Read more about it at
Content Copyright © 2011 – All rights reserved.
large, whole russett or Yukon Gold potatoes
sour cream (about a cup for 6 potatoes)
sour cream
bacon bits
Wash potatoes and prick with fork. Bake at 350 or so until soft inside. Scoop out the entire inside of potato into a bowl, leaving skins intact.
Add to potatoes — in amounts to your liking — the sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, cheese, and bacon bits (the consistency can range anywhere from being somewhat chunkier to exactly as smooth as mashed potatoes). Add milk to thin out a thicker mixture. A few green onions is also optional. I like throwing in some shredded cheddar and a bit of garlic salt.
Spoon mixture back into potato skins and top with more cheese and whatever else sounds good. Bake on foil in a 9×13 cake pan in a preheated 375°F oven until cheese is melted.
For added color, sprinkle chopped parsley and paprika on top as a garnish. Enjoy!

I’ve always been a proponent of living in the moment

Archived | January 3, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It wasn’t a live broadcast but that didn’t matter much to me. It was Christmas Day, and I listened and sang and danced a bit as usual and now have the Christmas show to look forward to this week. An important thing, something to look forward to. Of course I’ve always been a proponent of living in the moment, but something down the road to hang your hopes on does, indeed, give one a bit of impetus. Purpose, even.
It’s the in-between week once again when we’re all waiting for the New Year to roll in, and what do we do in the meantime but box up the Christmas things and eat cookies from the freezer and four-day old meatballs from the fridge and contemplate who we are and who we want to be and come up with resolutions and goals and such to get from here to there.
I’m alone in the house today. The kids are outside making snowballs in the rain, and Mr. Sundberg is away in Ohio giving a motivational speech titled, “Adult Children of Aging Parents.” I like being alone during the turn of the year, as it’s the only time I can really think clearly about the important abstract things that slip in and out of my thoughts when the kids are hollering for macaroni and cheese, homemade.
I must have shared along the way that I don’t partake in the whole resolution-making deal. I see that it is certainly fine and productive for some, but not for me. I tend to blow a big promise to myself out of the water by January’s end, and that only leaves a person feeling silly and foolish and sometimes downright incapable. I gave that all up the year I tried to quit swearing. Instead, I choose a word to think about and focus on and aspire to for a year, and it’s my hope to make the word a deeper part of my life. It was “perseverance” one year, and “courage” the next. I’ve now become indelibly familiar with “attention” and “truth” and “nutmeg.” (Yes, I did choose “nutmeg” for my word one year and was that ever interesting.
I’ve narrowed my words for 2011 down to three, and I’ll decide sometime on New Year’s Eve, just before midnight, the only other hour of the year besides the one on Christmas Eve when things seem to hang in a kind of balance and rightness. When the world pauses to take a breath, deep and cleansing, all together now. I don’t share my word if I can help it. One of the hopes is that someone along the way will figure it out. If not, no matter. It’s my word with which to do what I will, and who knows where it might take me over 365 days and nights.
Wherever you are this New Year’s Eve, I wish for you comfort in the year ahead, enough adventure to keep things hopping, and a word to get you through it all, wherever the road may lead.
I’ve only recently become a nut person, and this recipe came to me at a party where only spicy food was served. I like it because it’s simple and healthful and produces one of the more perfect things to snack on while indulging in good conversation.
Hot and Spicy Cocktail Nuts
1/2 cup butter
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T paprika
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch cayenne (or to taste)
1 pound unsalted nuts
Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, hot pepper sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Add the nuts and toss well to coat. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently over low heat until the nuts are lightly toasted. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, or store in an airtight container at room temp until ready to serve. Makes a pound of spiced nuts.