Dec 25, 2015

Lighthouse


Lighthouses don't run all  over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. 

Anne Lamott

Dec 22, 2015

Italian sausage with pasta, yellow squash, and zucchini


Have you ever wanted something filling, hearty and quick to eat?  I do all of the time.  When one works a lot a hours, there is very little time to cook lavish meals during the week.  I like to cook meals in one or two pots so that there is very little clean up at the end.

I like Italian sausage and you can use it in more things than on top of a pizza.  It goes very well with pasta.  I used rotini in this dish, but you can use any pasta that you like.  Then I added zucchini, yellow squash, and chopped tomatoes.  It was delicious. 


Ingredients:

1 lb of Italian sausage, or ground beef, lamb, turkey, or chicken
1 lb rotini, or your choice of pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 onion, sliced thinly
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small tomatoes, skinned and chopped fine 
2 small zucchini, sliced thinly
2 small yellow squash, sliced thinly
2 TBS vegetable oil
2-3 TBS butter or ghee
1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
salt/pepper to taste
1 bouillon cube, optional
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of Italian cheese, I use the Italian cheese mix in a bag from the grocer

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Place a non stick pan on med-high heat.  Cook sausage until the meat is brown. Remove from the skillet and place in a bowl, then set aside.  Next, add oil, butter, sliced onions, spices, bouillon cube, tomatoes, and saute until golden. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two. Thirdly, add the sliced Zucchini and yellow squash.  Cook until tender.  I like to brown my vegetables a bit on both sides.  Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking add the sausage to the pot, then add the Parmesan & Italian cheese. In a large pot mix the pasta and vegetables together. Serve immediately. Enjoy!  

 Cooks Note:  You can use canned tomatoes in place of fresh tomatoes if you want the dish to have more sauce. 

Dec 21, 2015

An unreasonable request for Santa



It was two weeks before Christmas. A friend and I went to see a high school musical.  The auditorium was filled to capacity.  Parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters filled every seat. But towards the back and in the middle sat a man. His red suit, natural long grey beard, and his big belly set him apart from the others.  I think that Santa made an early appearance this year.  

When intermission was announced my friend and I went out to the hall and filled our tins with cookies. On the way back we noticed that Santa was no longer sitting down but standing in the corner by himself.  We looked at each other and the wheels starting turning in my mind. I am going to have some fun with this man. Then my friend asked me if I would like to talk to Santa.  Knowing that I would never see him again, I felt a bit mischievous. "Of course, let's put our order in." 

We smiled at Santa as we approached like a hyena about ready to pounce on their prey. Then I told Santa that we would like to put our order in for Christmas.  He asked what we wanted. "Cowboys", I said, and then we burst into uproarious laughter. " Not just one cowboy, but we each need a cowboy." Santa stood there speechless holding my arm so that I wouldn't get away before he could find something to say. "Don't leave I am trying to think of something." he said. The silence seemed to last an eternity as we waited for a response. Tired of waiting,  I went on to say, " I don't think that there are that many cowboys in this area." Then Santa finally said, " You may have to settle for cut outs then." My friend and I looked at each other knowing that this was our exit cue. 

We headed towards our seats. "All Santa could offer was cut outs?" I said.  "No wonder kids stop believing in Santa.  If he cannot get you what you want then why bother asking." Then we burst out laughing again. 




The Santa picture came from here

Dec 14, 2015

Kheer: Indian Rice Pudding


At the Indian buffet there is a dessert that I love. It is called Kheer and consists of rice, milk, butter, nuts, raisins, and cardamom (it is spelled cardamon in the UK). This creamy dessert is light and delicious. I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and made it again this weekend a little differently.  The great thing is that the recipe is easy and doesn't take forever to make. 

Ingredients:

1\2 cup of Basmati rice
1 TBS ghee (clarified butter) or plain butter
4 cups of milk (whole milk, not low fat)
1 tsp cardamom
1\2 cup of sugar
a pinch of saffron
a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 TBS golden raisins, Sultana  
1\4 cup of cashews, crushed
1\4 cup of sliced almonds, slivered will work too
1\4 cup of pistachios, crushed

Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes.  Drain and then break the rice up in smaller pieces by rubbing between your fingers.  Place a medium sized pot on medium\high heat. Once the pot is warm add the ghee. When the ghee is melted add the sugar and stir for a couple of minutes, then add the milk. Bring to a boil. Stir frequently because you don't want the milk to scorch. Add the rice and simmer until the rice is cooked, usually 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently throughout the cooking process. Once the rice is tender add the raisins, nuts and spices. Turn the heat up a bit and simmer until it is somewhat thick. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve either hot or cold. Enjoy!


Dec 11, 2015

Time is Gold


When we have time we are capable of doing and achieving what we desire. Gold is a sign of wealth. Time cannot be captured nor are we able to move forward or backwards, it is therefore more precious than the golden metal that we all desire. It is like the wind, you cannot see it but feel the effects. Time can be read on a wrinkled face or a withered leaf but not recorded on a page. Seize it like you would a captive. Be in the moment as much as you can. Love what is and now. 

Dec 8, 2015

The White Swan and Winter


Last night while driving over to my cousin's house I saw the Bass Mansion all lit up.  It is a beautiful place in the daytime, but at night it is a vision. 


The pond was surrounded with milk jugs filled with light.  Exactly how, I have no idea, but the effect is stunning, and from the road you cannot tell what the lights are. While visiting with my cousin I asked my aunt if she would like to go and see the covered bridge in Spencerville the next day.  So, today we decided to go on an adventure.  


Somehow, we ended up on the wrong road and went to another city. While trying to navigate with the GPS we drove past a white bridge. I saw the reflection in the water that was so lovely. I turned the car around.  I'm not sure if we were on private property or not but I drove up as close as I could leaving tire tracks in the grass. 


As I was backing up, my aunt noticed a lovely swan swimming gracefully in the pond.  I was out of the car again, hoping that the owners of the property were not home, I was really pressing my luck by staying so long.  Swans remind me of a ballerina or maybe I have seen The Nutcracker too many times. Their feathers seem light and airy as if they are floating around the body of the swan while they glide effortlessly in the water.  



We eventually made it to the Spencerville bridge that was built in 1873.  A year or so ago a semi truck drive got lost and drove across the bridge causing severe damage to the structure.  


There are now new boards in the upper portion of the bridge, supporting the structure.  



This is a view from the side of the bridge and below is a shot from inside looking out at the water. The reflection of the sky illuminated the water giving it a blue cast, it was absolutely beautiful.  



Here in Indiana it has been very warm and I would rather be outside than trapped indoors until April. 

Dec 6, 2015

David & Peter Turnley: Fort Wayne's famous photographers


Recently, I began taking classes at the local college to help me improve my photography skills. In my first class, we learned about a lot of famous photographers. But I didn't know about the famous twins who came from Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The instructor showed us a picture of an African American lady riding the bus and I loved it. David & Peter Turnley were working on their first photo essay for school and it was 1972-1973, they were 17 years old at the time. They published around 100 photographs and showed us America through those living on McClellan Street. 

My uncle's house in the background 

The photographs eventually made their way into a book called, McClellan Street. This is where the story becomes more personal for my family.  My uncle and his family lived on McClellan Street for many years and they, too, were photographed by Peter & David Turnley.



It's a small world huh?  I didn't find this out until the other day when my cousin and I were having dinner. She invited me over to see the book and I was amazed that two seventeen year old young men had such good eyes for taking pictures. I can just imagine the kind of cameras that they used then.  


Photograph by Steve Linsenmayer\The News Sentinal

I spent a lot of time on McClellan Street visiting with my uncle and his family.  I came over nearly every year to watch the fireworks display on the 4th of July while sitting on the porch. The congested neighborhood gradually turned into a large parking lot.

Peter Turnley with the Smith Family


The Turnleys revisited McClellan Street throughout the years and on a couple occasions have taken pictures with my relatives again. Sadly McClellan Street no longer exists, at least downtown. Parkview Field was built in the same location a few years ago.  Now hundreds of people flock to the same spot to watch sporting events. 

Two brothers from the Midwest had dreams. Big Dreams. They have been all over the world photographing but keep coming back to a small city in Indiana that is called home. 

Nov 26, 2015

My Heart is Something

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My gathering was small but still appreciated.  Two women, an aunt and her niece, put together a fine meal.  But more than anything else I was able to spend time with family.  For this alone, I am thankful.  

Someone posted the video below of a little girl trying to explain what was in her heart to her mother. The little girl wanted desperately for her parents to get along. When she said that she wanted things to be in the middle where her heart was I nearly burst into tears.  Take a couple of minutes and listen to an eloquent child.  

We all have a lot to learn from this beautiful little girl.

Posted by MiNDFOOD on Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nov 8, 2015

Life outside of the cornfields


A friend and I decided to go on a mini holiday to Michigan and I am so glad that we did. Last Saturday was rainy, but we went on our outing anyway.  My friend said, "I am English, if you wait until the weather is fine then you would never go anywhere."  What a great attitude.  I never let weather bother me too much when I want to do something anyway. We started our journey in Holland, Michigan and made our way to "Big Red" the not so big light house. 


Then on to Douglas and saw a mini light house on the water. With two tug boats parked beside it. 


I imagined fishermen riding the waves, throwing out their nets, and eventually pulling in their catch of the day. 


The air was crisp with intense blue skies and wind that made your hair swirl, but I was not deterred by the gale. I was in another world far from the cornfields that I lived. 


Last fall, South Haven was cold and overcast by the time we reached this light house. This time the view was stunning and lots of locals came to view the glorious Lake Michigan that seemed to go on forever because we are having unseasonably warm weather at the moment. 


We saw a beach that looked so inviting and we bemoaned the fact that we didn't have time to burrow ourselves in somewhere for hours to enjoy the view. The waves crashed onto the shore like it was the ocean. Where I live there is nothing like this, which stirred up feelings of discontent.  If I lived closer, I would be here all of the time watching this view regularly. 


We climbed into the car and drove to Saugatuck one last time. Lovers sat on a bench and watched passersby while they sat close together. 


Our last stop was a water mill that had seen better days.  We saw it when we first came, hoping that we would remember the location on the way home. This time we were lucky. This rustic broken down place was still beautiful and I tried to imagine it when it was in working order.  


Then we got in the car and headed home. No more stops, no more light houses, or lakes that look like an ocean, only memories of what transpired that wonderful weekend. And remembering that ...



back home.

Oct 29, 2015

Michigan City for a few hours

I needed to make some artistic pictures for class. (My teacher says that we make pictures not take them.) My final was on Tuesday and I needed five pictures. The weekends are all the free time that I have. So, I decided to take a little trip by myself to Michigan City.  I had only been there one other time and it was last year during the same season. The temperature was in the low 70's but rain was predicted by the weatherman. I decided to go anyway. I needed to be alone and think.   


I listened to Moroccan music as my little Fiat bug took me down the highway. It rained heavily a few times and I nearly turned my car around. But I was persistent and am glad that I didn't give in to the weather.  It was overcast when I arrived but no rain in sight.  The wind was blowing hard and after a short while my ears started to get cold; I turned up the collar on my jacket and enjoyed the sunlight that burst through the clouds for a short time. 


The view of Lake Michigan is like looking at the ocean for me. Where I live in Indiana is called the flat lands and it is heavily laden with cornfields. One needs a change of scenery when things seem a little monotonous, especially me. 


An hour later the sun came out and I was thrilled to see the beach as it really is. The intense blue sky and the water seemed to go on forever was thrilling to behold. There were men in the water wind surfing. Sometimes they would jump up with the waves while holding onto their sails.  


This day was the last burst of warmth before the dreadful winter comes and we are forced to stay inside longing to be set free again in the spring.  I have had a wonderful summer for the first time in many years and was busy enjoying new places and experiences.  I am hoping that my borders will expand even further and travel far from home.  

Oct 17, 2015

Huntington's Sunken Gardens


I had never heard of sunken gardens before but I was impressed when I visited. These gardens were constructed between 1923-1928 on the remnants of an old stone quarry in Huntington, Indiana  


A lot of people bring a picnic lunch with their family and relax while enjoying the scenery. 


The old stairway is made of stone and mortar but is considered unsafe to use now and is blocked off.  A wooden staircase is in use located on the opposite side of the gardens.


Weddings are performed here too as well as other large gatherings . This would be a great place to perform plays, listen to a band, or sit and relax.  


The garden changes with the seasons. I was told that at Christmas time it is decorated with lights. I am going back for another visit very soon. 


 If you want to visit it is located at 1125 West Park Drive, Huntington, IN. 

Oct 14, 2015

1812: The war that we don't remember much about


History was not my forte when I was in school. Actually, I dreaded history as much as I did math. The teacher gave facts in such a mundane way that I lost interest early on.  I remember talking about the various wars, but I don't recall ever discussing the War of 1812. Not ever. But it could of happened on a day that I laid my head down on the desk and drifted off until the bell rang. 



I didn't really become interested in history until I started researching my family's lineage. Now I know a lot more than I ever did.  When a friend from work told me about the re-enactment that takes place in La Fontaine, Indiana every autumn, I jumped at the opportunity to learn something about a war that I knew little about.


In a nutshell this is the three main points of the war: 1) Americans would be kidnapped, the ones with English accents, and would be impressed to serve on the side of the British. 2) The British interfered with American trade and France. For some reason they wanted us to pay them a tax in order to trade with the French. 3) Finally, the English stirred up Indian warfare.  


One of the good things that the British did was that they blocked slave ships from coming to the United States and any slave who escaped to Canada was considered free.  


On June 1, 1812 war was declared, lives were lost, and the Indians were defeated. Then the move westward began.  


My nephews and I sat and watched as the re-enactment took place and I wondered if there could have been another way of settling the differences. 


For some reason each people group thinks that they are supreme and expect the rest to bow down to them, which causes a lot of strife. 


And yet, war is still prevalent in our world today.  


This reminds me of a quote many use from Rodney King, "Can we all get along?" 


Oct 10, 2015

Austen Land


Today, I visited a tent while at an 1812 War re-enactment that brought me back to a place in time that I have grown to admire.  It was in the early 1800's that my favorite literary author was producing her memorable collection of novels. Jane Austen has a strong following still today. Women love to dress up, men too, and imagine themselves living in another place and time when life was simple and a lot less stressful.  


As I walked thru the door of the tent I felt like I was in an Austen novel.  I had two young boys with me who would have rather been outside watching the soldiers, and I couldn't savor the the moment as long as I would wish to. But I was instantly drawn in like a moth to the flame.  The hats were lovely, large, decorative, and elaborate.  


Not only were there hats but dresses too.  Those delicately made garments enhance all that is female. I ran my hands over the smooth fabrics and longed to be able to wear one, even if it was just for one day.


When I turned the corned a lady was wearing a straw hat that she was determined to purchase. One of the ladies companions was holding up a silk dress in hopes that it could be paired with the straw hat. 


The owner advised the customer that straw should be worn with a more casual dress such as a linen or muslin and then the owner noticed that I was watching her with my camera in hand.  She posed without having to ask.  


I enjoyed this brief moment of genteel life in the middle of a war raging all around us. The name of the shop I visited was Regency Remembered and they have a Facebook page if you are interested in looking at some of the things she has to offer.

"Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."  Jane Austen