Nov 8, 2017

My own version of Piada's Carbonara Pasta Bowl

There is a wonderful little place to eat in Indianapolis called Piada.  It is Italian street food.  Not the Italian food that is heavily laden with that awful red sauce which every dish on the menu is immersed in. This is healthy stuff.  Delicious to the eyes and the palate.  And every time I am in the area I go out of my way to eat there. I was in Indy over the weekend with a few friends and I literally begged all the way hoping that my friends would try it. They gave in and we enjoyed a wonderful meal, especially me.     

It would be expensive to drive nearly two hours for a pasta fix on a frequent basis. So, I decided to try and make my own version of what I ate. Trust me, this is very simple and why I didn't do this a long time ago is beyond me. 


1 lb angel hair pasta, cooked according to the directions on the box

2-3 chopped tomatoes, I used Roma or use sun dried tomatoes

1-2 tsp Italian blend seasoning or to taste.  Mrs. Dash Italian Medley is my favorite

1/4 to 1/2 cup of spinach leaves or greens of your choice.  You can use a salad mix also (which is what I did)

Pancetta, (Italian bacon) Optional

1 jar of Alfredo sauce or a sauce that you like on pasta

I package of meat balls or 1 lb of cooked chicken or a meat of your choice or no meat at all

Prepare the meat of your choice and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Heat the Alfredo sauce until it is nice and hot.  Place the pasta in a bowl, toss with the sauce, tomatoes, meat, and greens.  Serve immediately. 

  • You can toss the pasta in olive oil with salt\pepper to taste if you want to save calories.
  • Look around the pasta isle at the store and experiment.  There are hot sauces called Diavolo (devil) if you like a bit of a kick. 
  • add corn, cucumber, olives, cheese, garbanzo beans, etc. 

Oct 17, 2017

Sauteed Dandelion Greens with Cabbage and Onion

Even though I grew up in the North, we ate Southern food. I grew up eating fried cabbage with bacon grease, salt, and pepper.  But as I grew older and didn't have a regular supply of bacon grease on hand, I searched for alternate healthier options to cook my favorite greens. 

A month or so ago a friend and I went to Dearborn, Michigan for the weekend.  While there I tried some Mediterranean food.  Dandelion greens were in the showcase for purchase. When we got back to the hotel I took my first bite.  They were delicious and surprisingly not bitter. I need to learn how to cook these greens!

When I got back home I tried to cook them and failed miserably. The dandelion greens were extremely bitter. Surely there is a secret? I asked a friend what her mother would do to eliminate some of the bitterness. I've had this dish three times in the last two weeks. I am going to share with you what I discovered.

I used  Victoria Taylor's Moroccan spice blend.  I use this in a lot of dishes, especially on baked chicken and vegetables or in fried coucous salad. But you can use whatever spices you prefer on your greens.  


1\2 head of cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TSP Victoria Moroccan Spice Blend or to taste, I am very generous with this 
salt\pepper to taste
1 Knorr bouillon chicken cube 
1\4 tsp sugar
2-3 TBS olive oil
2 TBS Ghee, clarified butter or regular, I like the taste of butter and oil together
2 bunches of dandelion greens, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Place the dandelion greens in the water and boil until tender. About 7-10 minutes. Boiling the greens helps to take out the majority of the bitterness. I usually cook two bunches at a time. Once they are done cooking drain in a colander.  Squeeze out the excess water with a spoon by pressing the greens against the side of the colander. 

On medium heat add the oil and butter to a large non stick pan.  Once the oil is hot add the onion. Saute until translucent.  Then add the cabbage.  At this point add the salt, pepper,  Moroccan spice blend ,and bouillon cube.  Cook until tender.  

Move the cabbage and onion mixture to one side of the pan and add the dandelion greens to the other. 

Sprinkle with a little salt and the sugar. Saute for about 5 minutes and then mix everything together in the pan.

Serve immediately.  I like to eat this with beans and cornbread.  If you cannot find the Moroccan Spice blend that I used then use your favorite.  There is no right way or wrong way for this recipe.  You are the chef, experiment. 

Oct 1, 2017


Isness. What an odd word. Upon first looking at the word it has the appearance of incompleteness. Could there be letters missing? I asked myself.  I have never heard of this word until yesterday, that is, until I watched the movie called, Third Star, with Benedict Cumberbatch and JJ Field. According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary it means the state of things as they are. 

As I researched the word a little more I discovered that Martin Luther King Jr used the word in one of his speeches:  " I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him." 

The root is being in the "present moment". I often think about how much we are wishing our lives away waiting for the weekend. Are we experiencing isness during our work week? Our minds go beyond the here and now more frequently than we realize, especially mine.  

Sometimes, I find myself sitting and starring at the computer in a daze, forgetting completely what I was doing, thinking about life as it should be. Then I come back to reality and pound away on the keyboard some more.

But "Isness' is more than about being present, I think. It is being. Being who we are and what we are meant to be. Our essence. When God spoke to Moses from a flame out of the midst of bush and said, "I am that I am" referring to his "isness", took the whole concept to another level.  "Is" seems hard to define with words or labels.  It is neither here or there, but now, this moment, ourselves. 

Sep 15, 2017

Pick a Peck: Jane, Adam, Jacob, or William...

I was thrilled when I decided to start researching the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc...of the people who married into my Campbell family.  I was thrilled by some of my discoveries and some things I had a hard time wrapping my head around. 

Jane Peck (sometimes called Jenny) married Archibald Campbell in Jefferson County, Tennessee on August 9, 1806. She was the daughter of Adam Peck and Elizabeth Sharkey who came from Virginia in 1788 to Mossy Creek (now called Jefferson City), Tennessee. My Campbell relatives were living in the Dandridge and Greene area at the time. The government wanted the people of Virginia to move west and build up this country. 

Adam Peck served as an ensign in the Maryland line of the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the House, and 1st & 2nd Assemblies from 1796-1799. As a member of the the 1st Assembly of the state, he helped draft the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. 

On my way to Georgia a few weeks ago, I stopped at Westview Cemetery, Jefferson City, Tennessee and took a picture of his bronze monument below. Jacob and William Raine Peck is also buried there. 

Adam Peck and his wife Elizabeth set up house in an abandoned fort or blockhouse beside a spring until their own cabin was built. By 1797 between 75-100 families settled within a four mile radius of Mossy Creek. My Campbell family was one of them. Then children came into the picture.

One was a son named Jacob Peck. Jane (who married Archibald Campbell) is Jacob's sister and my 5 x's great grandmother.  Jacob was judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee from 1822-1835 and prior to that in 1821 he was state senator for Greene and Jefferson counties in Tennessee. Afterwards Jacob Peck and Daniel Ashmore were granted a patent on a machine for cutting and collecting the heads of grain and grasses. (See the Journal of the Franklin Institute of the state of Pennsylvania, Thomas P. Jones.) Judge Peck was one of the founders of Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. 

I found a picture of him on line and I must say, he was a very handsome man. 

Check for the image of Jacob Peck.

Jacob married Sophia Talbot and their family grew. They had a son named William Raine Peck. 

He was born in rural Mossy Creek in Jefferson County, Tennessee. I read several publications that said his height ranged from 6 foot 2 inches to 6 foot 8 inches tall with a body mass to match, almost mythical in dimensions. A giant of a man in the days when people were considerably shorter. William Raine Peck came from a line of men that had political power in the founding of this country after the Revolutionary War. When he was young William bought a plantation across the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, Mississippi. His plantation prospered and he became one of the wealthiest men in the region due to his "free labor".   As I researched his life I was amazed at the number of slaves that he owned. Some of which were Mulatto. According to the 1850 Slave Schedule for Madison Parrish, Louisiana he owned 45 slaves and in 1860 the number jumped to 53. It is estimated that he made approximately $30,000 a year from the plantation. 

Picture from Wikipedia

Around 1861 William enlisted as a private in the 9th Louisiana Infantry.  He was sent to Virginia but arriving too late for any participation in the battle that had been in the area. 

During the Gettysburg Campaign he was involved with the Battle of Winchester and the Battle of Gettysburg. At this time he was promoted to captain and then on to a lieutenant in a short amount of time. On October 8, 1863 Peck was promoted to colonel of the 9th Louisiana to succeed Leroy A. Stafford.  He lead the regiment in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor during the Overland Campaign.  Due to a thigh injury in 1864 he was out of commission for a while. Peck returned to the battlefield in December of 1864 and in February of 1865 he was promoted to Brigadier General. On June 6th the same year he was paroled. 

After the war, William returned to Louisiana and continued running his plantation with much success. However he had to sign a Confederate Application for Presidential Pardon swearing that he will faithfully support all laws and proclamations, including the emancipation of slaves. This come at a cost to him. But no more dear than the lives he held captive for decades serving him for free. He died at the tender age of 52 and Peck's remains were sent back to Tennessee to be buried along side other members of his family. 

Jul 23, 2017

A view from the boat on the Detroit River

Last weekend a friend and I took a mini vacation. We traveled to Detroit and then made our way around the city.  It was our goal to go on a river tour, which I love doing. We climbed onto Diamond Jack's boat and sailed along the river. The sky was ever changing that day.  

Ambassador Bridge

One minute it would be bright and you could see the blue sky and ten minutes later it was clouded over.  I stood at the hull of the ship and tried to take in as much as I could of the scenery. I felt like I was in a different world.  And I was. 

Orthodox church on the river front, Windsor, Ontario

This is a few shots that I took and worked on yesterday.  The church intrigued me with its missing top on one of the steeples that was rust stained down the sides. I wanted the picture to look like a painting or an old postcard. The narrator told us the name of the church but without pen or paper it is lost to me. 

Detroit Princess
I wished that my passport was updated so that we could have gone across the Ambassador Bridge and explored this church. Maybe have fish and chips or tea and scones or both. 

The luckiest people live next to water or mountains, preferably both.  But I live in corn fields, where the land is flat.  

Jun 17, 2017

In the year 1812: On being a widow and the Lover's Eye

The war of 1812 isn't discussed much in the history books.  At lease, that I can remember. A few days again I encountered this woman at the Old Fort in Fort Wayne.  The Old Fort was up and running filled with actors portraying people from the time period.

As we walked towards the Fort we encountered a woman sitting in a tent with shear curtains all around it. It had several chairs inside so that when someone came in they could sit and chat a while. The woman was wearing very heavy white makeup, rouge, and thickly drawn eyebrows. During that time period the white foundation was made with lead and fats, which could be deadly. But beauty must come at a cost. Only the wealthy women during the 1800's wore this kind of makeup. 

She called herself Lady Liddington. On this day she was my history teacher. 

On her left hand there was a black onyx ring with a diamond in the middle to show others that her husband has passed away. A tiny pin fastened to her dress in the front contained a lock of hair from both she and her husband. A part of him will always be with her. The dark purple dress signifies that she is still mourning but not deep mourning. This also means that she is not interested in training another husband, because the first one was difficult enough. 

By the widow's side a miniature portrait of Lord Liddington was securely fastened into a picture frame and draped with a black scarf sitting neatly on a small table. The detail of the portrait was amazing for an item that was so small. Lady Liddington went on to say that during the same time period portraits were drawn of an eye. This eye miniature could be that of a child, spouse, lover, etc...These portraits could we worn as a bracelet, necklace, brooch, ring, or pendant. The fad began in the 1700's and the miniature became known as "Lover's Eye." Sometimes a lock of hair was incorporated into the portrait. This sounds a bit romantic to me. 

Jun 15, 2017

Ketner's Mill, Whitwell, Tennessee

I think that is was love at first sight for me when we drove up the road trying to find an old mill that we had heard of.  The dam was built on the Sequatchie River in Whitwell, Tennessee by early settlers to the area. 

In 1824, three orphans, David, George, and Elizabeth Ketner arrived in Sequatchie Valley, Tennessee. 

Ketner's Mill is named after David's son Alexander, who built the mill in 1868 and it ran fairly steady until 1992 when the mill closed its doors.  

The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The mill is surrounded by small mountains and an abundance of trees. On the third weekend in October a fair is held at Ketner's Mill and people gather together to buy and sell their arts and crafts.  This year the country arts fair will take place October 21-22.  

But if you need to get away for a couple of hours before then, bring yourself a chair, sit down, and listen to the sound of the running water.  I would like to be there right now. 

The address is 658 Ketner Mill Lane, Whitwell, Tennessee. 

Jun 4, 2017

Silverdale Confederate Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee

While visiting Chattanooga last weekend my cousin and stumbled upon a cemetery that I had never heard of before. 

It is located at 7714 Lee Highway next to McKay's Books, which was our intended destination.  As we flew down the street my cousin saw the Confederate Cemetery first and I was just as thrilled as she was to explore it. This was our first time seeing a cemetery like this. 

After loading the car with at least 50 books and DVD's we headed back down the street.  We turned onto the narrow driveway and hoped that no one else was coming back down. 

There are 155 unknown soldiers who are buried in this small graveyard.  Can you imagine that many men who have not been returned to their families? Relatives not knowing where their husband, son, or nephew is buried.  This was disturbing to me. 

Once inside there was only a few markers.  Initially the soldiers had wooden markers with name, rank, and division but they decayed over time. There were no records of the men who were buried there.  The cemetery is surrounded by a stone fence with a large gate in the front. 

From what I understand the soldiers fought in the Battle of Perryville and were brought back to Chattanooga to recover. 

All of the burials took place between July-December of 1862. Below is an excerpt from Thunder Creek Harley Davidson web site that gives a brief synopsis of the cemetery. 

General Braxton Bragg succeeded General Beauregard as commander of the Army of Mississippi shortly after the Battle of Shiloh and on July 21, 1862 ordered 27,816 men to Chattanooga, Tennessee in preparation for his famed Kentucky campaign. These men had been in camps in northern Mississippi where poor water, shallow wells, mosquitoes and dysentery had made many of them sick. The number of troops made it necessary for most of them to be located outside of town. 

The men buried at Silverdale are from General Withers’ division hospital. His division consisted of men from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The hospital was housed in 100 tents. It remained at Tyner’s station and in control of Withers’ division until after it was moved to Cleveland, Tennessee in December due to the weather becoming too cold for the men to remain in tents.

 If you like history, you will find this off the beaten path cemetery a fascinating place.  I would like to go back again to sit down and listen for the voices of the men lying beneath my feet.  Maybe they have something to say if only someone would listen. 

May 14, 2017

A Garden of Statues

Have you ever driven by a house and the yard is packed with junk? Then you wonder what their neighbors think of them.  I know that I wouldn't like it. But who am I to judge? 

From end to end the property is jammed with statues. Some statues are large and others are small. 

The statues are beautiful. And I honestly wouldn't mind having a few of them in my own yard. 

A property owner has a bit more leeway in the rural places, but in town, well, there are your neighbors to think of.  

What would you do if you had a neighbor whose yard looked like this? It is sort of like a distracting co-worker who always make sure that you know they are there. 

Apr 30, 2017

Looking for Art in the Alley

It has been raining for days. I sat in my little office and watched videos on Youtube to pass the time, but I longed to be outside. My mood began to feel like the weather, all drippy eyed. Then I thought, " I am going out to photograph whether it is raining or not.  
The tea is that way

My cousin told me about some art that was on display in an alley downtown. She saw an article in the paper about it. "What an odd place to display your work," I thought to myself. So, last night I tried to find it, which is rather stupid of me, I will admit it.  What can one find in the dark anyway? 

Artwork by Alex Mendez

This morning, after driving around for what seemed like an eternity, I found the alley.  When I first went into the alley way there was a large metal guitar. I wish that I had a wide angle lens because this is lovely and massive. At the other end of the alley were four pictures. 

Allen County Courthouse 

Embassy Theatre

Lincoln Bank Building

The above artwork is by Dianne Allen Groenert.  The picture below is by three artists: Theoplis Smith, Alexandra Hall, and Terry Ratliff.  The piece is called People Moving

People Moving

If you would like to see the artwork it is located at 117 W. Wayne St. Fort Wayne, Indiana. The alley is located in between The Double Dragon & MKM Architecture + Design buildings on Wayne Street.  The alley is right there but you must get out of the car to see anything. This is not a drive by viewing place.  

Apr 2, 2017

Blossoming in the place of Solitude

Sometimes the world can seem like an overwhelming place. Our environment is filled with all kinds of stimulation that can bother those of us who are sensitive. When the world seems like it is too much then I retreat to a quiet place.  I blossom in this place of solitude. My best ideas come to me in the quiet. 

Mar 19, 2017

My Campbell relatives rubbing shoulders with George Washington

This week was my spring vacation. The skies were overcast, it was cold, and dreary.  So, what better way to pass the time than to dive into the research pool. I've been at this genealogy thing for a long time. It is something that I really enjoy and has opened my eyes to how people have not really changed over the centuries. I've found a couple of murders and a possible  "Who is the baby daddy?" in my lineage. 

But this week produced a really big surprise. I started looking seriously at the life of John Campbell, the second son of Archibald Campbell. Archibald is my seven times great-grandfather. At the time of the Revolution, the Campbell's were living in Bedford County, Virginia. 

 Archibald Campbell was a member of the Continental Army and provided beef for the soldiers during the Revolutionary War. He was granted a 300 acre land grant from Governor Thomas Jefferson afterwards. However,  Archie wasn't the only one in his family to contribute services in the Revolution, two of Archibald's sons enlisted and fought for the freedom of this country as well.  

Archibald's son James, my six times Great-Grandfather, enlisted in the 10th Virginia Regiment as a private in Captain Clough Shelton's Co. of Foot December 2, 1776. He served three years, his time expired at Morristown, New Jersey in 1779.  James was at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in May 1778 along with General Washington. But this is not the only time one of my family members was in the same company as our founding Father. 

My six times Great-Uncle John Campbell (James' brother) signed up for three tours.  He volunteered in June 1778, served three months as a private in Captain Robert Adams Company, Colonel Charles Lynche's regiment, and Lt. McReynolds guarding the lead mines in Virginia for three months at Fort Chiswell. 

He volunteered in February 1781 and served as a private in Captain James Dickson's Company.  They marched directly to North Carolina and was attached to Colonel Otho Holland William's Virginia Regiment of Regular Infantry and had a severe action with the British at Whitesell's Mills on a branch of Haw River (March 1781). Shortly after this action he was attached to Colonel Lynche's regiment and marched to Guilford Court House North Carolina and fought in the Battle of Guilford. According to the transcription of John's pension record he thought that the division of the army to which he belonged General Robert Lawson was the commander. They marched to a place called Troublesome Fire Works, North Carolina and was discharged for six weeks. 

In August 1781, John was drafted for a three month tour and entered service under Captain David Beard's Company, Colonel William Trigg's regiment and marched directly to Yorktown, Virginia where they joined the main army under General George Washington and remained there in service until the surrender of the British Army under Cornwallis (Oct 19, 1781).  Shortly after the surrender, John, was discharged after serving only two months on that tour. 

After I read the account of the military service of John Campbell, I decided that I needed to visit his grave and soon. I discovered that John is buried in State Line Cemetery, Preble County, Ohio.  

John Campbell, second son of Archibald Campbell 

I packed up my car and headed down south to see the grave of a relative that I have only read about. The Hamilton soundtrack kept the adrenaline flowing as I sped down the highway.                                                                                                                       
I found the tiny graveyard. The moment I saw the headstone a sob started in my throat and tears filled my eyes. I stood there looking at the stone that I had only seen pictures of. Then, I felt compelled to speak. I talked to him for a long time. Most of all, I asked him to help me to find the link across the pond. He knows who his people are. He knows their names. Give me a clue John. 

I didn't think to bring flowers to his grave. The only thing that I had with me was a stone from South Carolina that a friend gave me.  I went back to the car. I retrieved the stone  and put it in front of his stone explaining that the this was the closest thing I had to the place that he called home. Then I climbed back into the car. Hamilton was still playing in the CD player...

Sarah Vance Campbell, Wife of John Campbell
...and the world is gonna know your name. What's your name man?  John Campbell, My name is John Campbell.