Our Granddaughter, a Wonderfully, Gifted Soul!

When one thinks of an 11 year old female, one, often, does not think, “old soul.”  I find myself thinking that often, especially when she requested a weekend with “Grandma and Grandpa.”  “Can we have a, sort of, special Thanksgiving dinner with just the three of us?”  Of course I answered, “yes.”  It was the following  that surprised me.  I suppose I was thinking a traditional U. S. American Thanksgiving meal with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie!  So, I asked “Sammy” about her preferred menu.  “Let’s have grilled beef steak, fried potatoes and asparagus.  Also, I want root beer floats for dessert!”  That’s easy!

We just had one full Saturday with her, so we wanted to make it special.  We began the day with her requested breakfast of Honey Combs breakfast cereal.  I checked the ingredients.  Because of the name of the cereal, the consumer is led to believe that it has honey.  The product lists its ingredients as: corn flour, sugarwhole grain oat flour, modified cornstarchcorn syruphoneysalt, turmeric (color), wheat starch.  We were feeling indulgent, so we allowed her to have this allegedly healthy breakfast food.

After breakfast, we made our way to thrift stores (her old soul showing) and the mall (her pre-teen soul showing).  We followed that with lunch at an Asian themed fast food place having to do with a panda.  We knew we’d have a healthful dinner, so we moved forward.  Here she is by a colorful mural on a wall downtown. Getting both her face and that of the mural’s subject meant that I had to sacrifice a close-up.


She actually tired of the activity, so we went home for a relatively quiet afternoon to prepare for our feast.


Grilled Rib-eye Steaks

Fried potatoes (we mixed bintje and red gold potatoes, thinly sliced)

Buttered asparagus

Sparkling apple juice (instead of wine since the guest of honor is 11 years old)

Root Beer Floats

Grandpas purchased the steaks at a specialty meat shop.  He patted them dry and applied salt and pepper before landing them on the grill.

I sliced the potatoes (with skins) thinly and allowed them to sit in very hot water for 10 minutes.  I patted the tubers dry before adding them to hot sunflower oil.  Salt and pepper were applied along with a lid in order for the potatoes to steam for five to eight minutes.  I removed the lid after eight minutes to allow the potatoes to brown.  Once the potatoes began to brown, I added two pats of butter, which aided further in the even browning.  By the way, I fried the potatoes in a carbon steel wok, which aids in easy stirring.

The asparagus were simply steamed with added butter and salt toward the end of cooking time.

Here we are:

img_4242.jpg Here’s the happy menu planner, ready to tear into her special meal.


Now, the root beer float has been a topic of discussion and debate.  Do you add the ice cream first or the root beer?  When you put the ice cream in the glass first, adding the root beer causes a great foaming!  Grandpa insisted that we pour the root beer in the tall glasses, first!  Then we added the ice cream.  It worked! No foaming!  Let me know your thoughts on this.  No matter, they were wonderfully creamy and delicious with the soda’s hint of allspice, ginger, sarsaparilla, dandelion root, and vanilla bean.   It foamed, but the foam never ran over the sides of the glass.  A great treat!


By the way, the lovely dandelion, the featured image, was taken by Sammy while playing on her uncle’s farm.  She has a great eye for taking pictures.

Thank you for reading.

Thankful – For Friends, Family, and Food!

For a Native American with a long history of Indigenous ancestry, the holiday of Thanksgiving offers a mixed bag of emotions.  United States history would have you believe Thanksgiving was a time when Pilgrims (colonists) had a meal where they fed the Indigenous souls who inhabited what is now the United States.  Of course, my ancestors were treated as “hostile” because we fought when having our lands taken away from us by laws that excluded us from owning the lands on which we hunted and gathered our food, raised our families, and build our habitats.  Be that as it may, we Natives continue to celebrate a National Day of Mourning to acknowledge an era that would change our lives for ever.

My family celebrated and continues to celebrate a Thanksgiving meal with thoughts that turned to what our ancestors’ experiences and when their lives changed after colonization.  Because of the time of the year, we also used it as a time to honor our Creator for the bounty of food given to us from the land, from the seas, and from all the elements that made life possible.  So I continue that tradition today.

Let’s discuss what was on my table on “Thanksgiving Day.”  A thwarted trip to my home state (Colorado) because of heavy snows, a rock slide on one of the mountain passes, and sloppy driving conditions gave the green light for us to “stay put.” We decided to stay home, cook the big meal, and find someone to feed.  I learned from my Mother’s holiday meals that they had to be vast, take  a long time to cook, and had to have a variety of offerings on the table.  Here’s my menu:

  • Aperitif: Sweet Vermouth
  • Roast Turkey
  • Sauteed, Buttered Brussels Sprouts with Sliced Almonds
  • Savory Dressing
  • Squash “Boats” (recipe follows)
  • Pickled Beets
  • Relish Tray
  • The Ubiquitous Two-layered Jello Salad
  • Baked Beans
  • Cranberry Apple Orange Spice (CAOS) Jam
  • Sourdough Bread
  • Cava (Sparkling Wine from Spain)


  • Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream for Dessert
  • Creme Sherry

I began my own tradition of making my “signature” Cranberry Apple Orange Spice jam, also known as “CAOS” (pronounced, Chaos) because I loved the taste of the combined fruits with the added Chinese 5 Spice, and I didn’t like the store-bought cranberry in a can that came out like a lump!  I love the aroma of my CAOS even more!  Next time you create your “Cheese Board” or your “Charcuterie Board”, I highly recommend pairing CAOS with brie, fried Mexican panela, or with goat cheese.  The flavors come together quite nicely.  Also, I make a Fig Apple jam that goes nicely with cheeses.  I had spoken of CAOS in one of my previous posts.  Let me know if you want the recipe.


Here’s the recipe for my “squash boats”.

  1. Wash and slice two acorn squash.  Clean out seeds. Assemble on a baking pan.  You should have four “boats” into which you add this mixture:
  2. Two apples: Cored and diced with skins. I like honey crisp.
  3. Two oranges: Diced with peels
  4. 3/4 cup (96g) raisins
  5. 3/4 cup (96g) Walnuts
  6. 2/3 cup (85g) salted butter
  7. 2/3 cup (85g) brown sugar
  8. 3/4 cup (96g) brandy

Preheat your oven to 365 degrees (185 Celsius).

Add ingredients (#2 to #8) in a bowl.  Mix well and spoon into prepared squash.

Put an additional pat of butter on each boat before you put into oven.  Bake until the squash is soft and the fruits are bubbly.  Serve whole boats on table.

I knew I wanted to cook a large meal, but most people we knew had plans, and we’ve only lived in this town since last May.  I called one set of our best friends who live a little more than two hours away.  Their daughters would not be joining them for Thanksgiving, so I said, “Come spend a few days with us, and eat Thanksgiving!”  They agreed, and we had a marvelous time!  I am so grateful for friends.  I miss our children and grandchildren, and my family, and I am so fortunate to have friends.  I see them as “adopted” family, certainly.



Our lovely day, filled with warmth and laughter, ended with turkey sandwiches and more laughter.

Thank you for reading.

It’s Geography Awareness Week!

Every year, around the second or third week in November, National Geographic Society celebrates Geography Awareness Week (GAW).  As a National Geographic Society Explorer, I have made it one of my missions to promote the study of geography in the class room.  In the U.S., the study of geography is not mandatory.  This sad reality means that many young people, mostly our Anglo students in the U.S.  have no idea that they  possess culture or are part of the human continuum that we call, “diversity.”  Geography teaches us that our respective cultures become part of us as we mature from infants to adulthood, gathering preferences, inter-sectional identities, belief systems, and ways-of-knowing, depending on what part of the world we call home.

It’s a great honor to be part of National Geographic Society as an explorer.  While I don’t get to travel to the far reaches of the globe, I help students look at the world with geo-spatial lenses.  I teach them to ask questions, which we call, “geo-inquiry.”  I have an example:

  • Ask: Framed question from a location-based perspective so that you understand the challenge
  • Acquire: the resources needed to study the question further, such as research data
  • Examine your data, and watch for patterns that begin to emerge
  • Analyze the data to see which factors influence other factors
  • Act on your knowledge to determine a problem-solving approach

–Develop your message for your intended audience to create visuals to communicate information

Let me break this down even further.  Suppose I parachute out of a plane, and I don’t know where I am.

  1. Where is this place? (Ask)
  2. What is the topography? What is the climate?  Am I surrounded by mountains?  Can I see snow on those mountains? Why am I surrounded by a treeless sandy plain but I can see mountains about 25 miles (40.2 km) in every direction? What else can my surrounding tell me? Have I been to a place like this previously?  (Acquire data)
  3. After I take in all this data, I can begin to examine it to create a hypothesis on my location. (Examine)
  4. Analyzing my data, I begin to realize that I am somewhat familiar with the surroundings.  About 25 years ago, I remember that I climbed Blanca Peak, a 14,000 Feet (4267.2 meters) peak at my 11:00 o’clock as I face south.
  5. I can now act on my knowledge to find my way to the nearest town in this valley.  Where am I?  I am at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, United States.

Geography asks us to consider all our surroundings and to recognize how we humans interact with our environments.  It asks us to consider place and what makes place important to us.  Here are some other questions we ask through geography:

“What is?  or Which is?

“Where is?”

“What has changed?”  “Since when”?

“How has it changed?”

“Which spatial patterns exist?”

“What if?”

Girls pointing at map.jpg
My students pointing to their places of origin!

Here are some other geography “tid-bits.”

  • Did you know that Geography is considered the “Mother of Sciences”?  Geography’s study field embraced the entire universe and later bore many children, among them astronomy, botany, geology, and anthropology.
  • Did you know that Climatology is the study of how climates are created and what they do the environment?  Climatology is a long-term study of the geographic world.
  • Did you know that Human Ecology, the study of humans in their environments, is a unique field of Geography?  This form of geographic inquiry aims to clarify the relationships between natural environments and varying activities of humans.
  • Did you know that geography explores human systems, which include culture, economics, migration, and politics?
  • Did you know that geography explores physical systems such as land forms, climate, and rivers?

Geography is wonderful!  Some people think that technology, such as map programs, will do away with maps and atlases.  I hope not.  The joy of exploring the world through maps remains a great excitement for those of us who grew up with maps.

If you would like to hear geography linked  with music, listen to High Plains Public Radio, online at hppr.org.  Silver Rails: Music of the World in the Folk Tradition airs Saturday, November 9, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Central Time.  Lynn Boitano and I will be your host for music, geography trivia call-in, and lots of geography information.  We will be celebrating Geography Awareness!

Thank you for reading!


Missing Riki on the Day of Her Birth

Today would have been our lovely Riki’s 38th birthday.  As I had written of a year ago, we lost her to an untimely death because of a faulty medical diagnosis.  We continue to hear her voice, and we see her ways reflected in her children, which is of great comfort.

Riki lived, loved, and worked intensely.  Whatever she did, she did it well.  Thinking back to her middle school days, she decided to be on the swim teach.  She received medals for winning competitions.  Once the season came to an end, she didn’t need to do it again.  Then she played basketball.  She was the lead point-maker for her team.  Once the season ended, she did not feel the need to go back.

Riki did maintain her love of cooking and being with her “village” of friends.  When I spoke at her funeral, I wanted to tell the story of her vivid dreams of driving a car.  She was only 11 years old when she told me of the dream in which she was driving a car from the town of Ingalls to Montezuma (about 17 miles of road or 27.6 km).  Along the side of the road was a raccoon.  She stopped, and opened the door, through which the furry critter jumped in.  As she drove along a little further, there stood a young fawn along the side of the road.  She stopped, opened the door, and the little guy jumped in.  Well, she had not driven but a few paces, and there was a big dog! Yes.  He jumped in the car through the door that Riki had opened. By the time she had reached Montezuma, she carried eight animals in the car! Once she stopped, she let them out of the car, and they ran to safety.  She loved that dream, and I loved hearing her story.

If we thought about what dreams meant, it would not be until well into her adult life that I began to understand.  She gathered friends in much the same way she was gathering those four-legged creatures.  Riki quickly made friends where ever she planted. Whether I visit her home town or the town where she and Jonathan raise their children, she made close friends, and they continue to love her to this day.  Alas, I didn’t tell the story at her funeral.  Perhaps I thought, in a split second, that it would have been a weird comparison.  Perhaps not, though.  My point would have been to describe a loving heart that beat inside her.  I leave you with some images of her.

Riki could be called mischievous!


Here’s a goofy one of Riki and “the Village”.


More than anything, we know that she loved her family, and she loved her friends, deeply.  She loved to have fun, and she continues to be an inspiration to each of us who knew her.  Meanwhile, we continue to remember what she believed in.  I leave you with a picture of her and our son, her brother, Stevie.  He carries on the tradition of fabulous cooking and sharing his food with loved ones.


Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope to talk to you soon.


Foods Shared by Family and Friends

Food seems to be one of the easiest things about which to write, and it’s no secret that much of my socializing happens around food sharing, laughter, and the occasional drink.

Since we last visited, several months ago, I had the pleasure of partaking with several friends and our son, Stevie, each of whom are fabulous in the kitchen. I don’t know whether to call them “cooks” or “artists”. I’ll begin with the most recent and go backwards.

Our friends, Mark and Kathy have a cottage on a lake in New York. A most memorable meal was the evening that Kathy prepared the Walleye fish that Mark caught on preceding evening. Upon catching fish, Mark immediately filets the fish. I’ve eaten his fresh fish on the Gulf Coast, in Alaska, on a lake in Kansas, and now on a lake in New York. Kathy takes the freshly-caught fish, dips them in milk, rolls them in seasoned flour and then finely crushed saltines before placing them in hot shortening. The result is tender, flaky fish with a crunchy breading. Kathy served the fish with homemade tarter sauce brought by the neighbor, and I prepared corn muffins to go with the sour cream and Iceland caviar as an appetizer. The neighbor also shared his homemade white wine. I neglected to take pictures of the process, but I did remember to take one.

Here’s a fine shot of our fisherman as he launched on the successful fishing trip:

Before our trip to New York, we stopped in to see Stevie and Paige. Stevie’s innovative cooking was featured in this blog some months back. This time, he created a wrapped hamburger. He described the procedure as taking seasoned ground beef patties that he browned first. He had prepared his usual bread dough prior to preparing the beef (I realize that I am not writing the process in chronological order). He wrapped each browned pattie in a rolled-out round of bread dough. He place a sprinkling of baking salt before baking at 375 degrees (190.6 C). Also, he prepared thin slices of potatoes and lined them on a baking sheet sprinkled with the baking salt, too. He presented the tasty result to us, and we enjoyed with a glass of oatmeal stout. Delicious!

A few weeks ago, we returned to the community in which we lived for 30 years (We moved to another town to be near my job about two months ago) for a wedding (Mark and Kathy’s daughter). We made good use of our time by seeing some of our best friends. It was impossible to see all of our best friends as the weekend was far too short! Our friends, Carole and Larry invited us to breakfast at their beautiful. Besides being one of my favorite artists, Carole is a wonderful baker and cook. Larry, retired from a career as an expert in all things electric, passes his retirement as a wood artisan. Larry has built wonderful frames for my art collection, some of which were created by his wife. He’s now creating rolling plant bases for large planters. I don’t have a picture of the one he made for me.

The breakfast began with a wonderful asparagus frittata accompanied by the most wonderful sour cream coffee cake. We had mimosas and coffee with a splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream. I’m not sure if I am allowed to share the recipe, but I want you to see the picture. You may notice that Carole possesses an artist’s eye even in setting a table. We visited and ate the lovely breakfast slowly so as to savor the occasion to the fullest. We took our coffee on the deck overlooking the prairie so famous in Kansas.

Finally, I leave you with one final meal for this blog entry: a first meal in our new home. I am sure I’ve written about one of our favorite breakfasts, “eggs and soldiers”. Nearly two months after moving in, we have plenty of unpacking to do. However, we found some of our boxes of kitchen dishes among which were the egg cups and my butcher block. Our usual practice is to have breakfast on the butcher block. Our previous house had a “breakfast nook”, a small space in a kitchen where a small meal was often served in older homes. In the new kitchen, there is a small dining space, which I will call a “nook”. We, happily, ate our eggs and soldiers with hot Earl Grey tea looking out onto the deck, and, thus, we came “home”.

I love making our meals special, and I like to savor our conversations as well as our meals. I wish the same for you.

Thank you for reading my blog posts. I always love hearing from you.

Changes and More Changes

We are in the process of moving. As of this writing, we have moved from our beautiful home to a town 4.5 hours away. I have been working in a different job, for the same university, these past four months.

We put our home on the market and finally closed on it this past Thursday. We loved our home. It was perfect for us, because we are consummate entertainers (so I’m told), and we have the absolute pleasure of having our grandchildren with us at least one month during the summer. We’ve had that pleasure since each was four months old.

I do realize that, it’s not the actual structure of a house that makes it a home. Though, that adds greatly to how one uses the structure. What matters most are the memories we build in our homes. Friends and families help us make those memories, so I have no doubt that when we find a new home, we will begin to build new memories. In some cases, with friends and family, we pick up where we left off, only in a different location.

For one month, until the house that we plan to rent while we make decisions on the purchase of a “new” home becomes available, we are sort of homeless. I will continue to stay at the AirBnB at which I’ve been housed since November, and my spouse will live in town from which we’ve moved, as he wraps up his job of many, many years.

The bittersweet process of selling our home last Thursday was compounded by another sad and heartbreaking event: the loss of our Scottish Terrier, Fiona. Here she is.

Fiona has just turned 14 years old. I wondered if the commotion and frenzy around moving confused her, but she became ill and died about fours hours later. Scotties are a special breed. They have wonderful behaviors and can be very possessive of their family members, a.k.a. “Owners”. We are crushed by her passing, but we have the fondest of memories.

Right now, I’m eager to find a home to call our own and to begin the process of settling into normalcy of cooking, entertaining, and sharing good times with my spouse and our dog, Jitsu. She’s a sheep dog: 3/4 Border Collie and 1/4 Australian Shepherd. Here she is:

Here, Jitsu, is pictured with a young admirer who will have nothing to do with me, but love my dog! Most people love this dog, because she is friendly, loving, and funny. She even smiles! Yes. Jitsu talks, too. Here’s her famous smile:

I have a lot to catch up with more writing about foods, intercultural relationships, and life. Hopefully, I will catch up with the bloggers who have been busy writing.

Back later…Thank you for reading.

Mac and Cheese: One of my Favorite Comfort Foods- What’s Yours?

It snowed about 13 inches (33.2 cm) in my neck of the woods, so it seemed like a good time to make one of my favorite comfort foods: macaroni and cheese. It seems that I love cheese. And I love pasta! I hope this blog can be an interactive one. So, I’m asking you to share with me, in your comments, about what is one of your favorite “Comfort Foods”. Would you be willing to share your recipe? You know, that favorite dish that gives you the feeling of being completely satisfied by the aromas, the textures, the feel in your mouth as you chew it. What is is about macaroni and cheese?

My recipe varies, but this is what I did last Saturday. I began with four tablespoons of butter (56.7g) in a hot pan. I sautéed about one-fourth of a cup (56.7g) of diced onions. Then I added 1 strip of bacon (diced) and cooked until crisp. Then I added 2 tablespoons (28.3g) of rye flour (I didn’t feel like using white flour). Once my liquids had absorbed the flour and I had a smooth paste, I added milk, about 2 cups (500ml), and stirred to cook until it began to thicken. Oh, yes. Before I added milk, I added about one-half cup (125ml) of dark stout to the thickening sauce. It added, yet, another dimension to the aroma of the sauce.

Once the béchamel was becoming thick, I added 4 cups shredded cheddar (450ml) and 1 cup shredded mozzarella (225ml). To that I added one 16 ounce (454g) of shell pasta, which I had cooked al dente in salted water. I combined the pasta and the béchamel in a buttered glass pan, and baked at 350 degrees F (180 C ) for about 30 minutes until the Mac and Cheese was bubbling. It went well with a sparkling Viognier wine. We loved it and were greatly satisfied.

Some our other comfort foods include homemade bread, beef stroganoff, linguini and clam sauce, and salmon and rice (I will do another story on salmon and rice, a specialty of my deceased mother-in-law). One of our favorite breakfast comfort meals includes “Eggs and Soldiers”: soft-boiled eggs and toasted bread cut into strips. We love it with Earl Grey tea.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your comfort foods. If you can, share a recipe and a picture. I love to share!

Thank you for reading my blog.

My New Book – Cook Book!

My dear friend, Carole, gifted me, her Indigenous friend, a wonderful book of stories about my Indigenous ancestors and traditional recipes using ingredients of the hunter/gatherer culture that marked their existence. The recipes, some of which I remember from my grandmothers, include wild game, such as venison; which is the only meat in my freezer next to lamb; and juniper berries; used to tame the “wild flavor” when deer have to resort to lichens and sage for food during the long winters of Colorado and depleted fresh browse.

The author, Chef Sean Sherman (Lakota), who grew up on Pine Ridge Reservation, empowers the gentle reader, and would-be cook, to explore his or her own backyard to see what’s there. I remember my Grandma Margaret (May she Rest In Peace) using purslane, a delicious, succulent-type green that grows in gardens and along sidewalks. She would fry it with squash and corn to serve with pinto beans. We call that trio, The Three Sisters. Sherman says that purslane packs more vitamin E than spinach. Here’s the book:

Don’t you love his play on the French word, “sous” meaning “under” and often referring to the chef working with or “under” the master chef. In Sherman’s case, he’s referring to his lineage of Lakota Sioux. I love the book because he combines food history, or the concept of “food sovereignty” (Eating as our ancestors rather than the government commodities given to us when we were removed from our lands and put onto reservations) along with recipes. We eat quite delicious food! My friend, Nancy says when I prepare “Grandma’s food, which features the Three Sisters, she could likely “sell tickets” to the event, because of the “great food”!

Speaking of Nancy, I paid her a visit this past weekend, armed with lamb, mushrooms, green onions (wrong time of year to gather wild onions), and Colorado juniper berries. I cooked the Hunter’s Stew from the book. Don’t think of the famous Italian Hunter’s Stew made with chicken. Not this. This recipe calls for bison, a very lean meat. I’ll get to that later. Here’s some background. Sherman tells the story of the bison hunt of the his people Indigenous to the Central High Plains of the American Midwest. The women processed an entire bison, about 1800 pounds ( ~816 kg). Bison provided food, clothing, tools, other household items, and shelter. One could say it was a “keystone” species for the Indigenous peoples of the Plains. In the U. S. Government’s efforts to annihilate Indigenous people (called “Indians”) it chose to wipeout their source of life: the bison. Bison appear to be making a small comeback: most on ranches, and they run free at Yellowstone National Park.

Okay. Let’s get back to the recipe for Hunter’s Stew. Notice the wonderful ingredients in the list.

I didn’t have sumac or bison stock, so I used a little beef stock and omitted the sumac. I made corn meal mush the previous night so that I had firm corn “cakes” to brown in butter. The corn cakes provided the base for the stew, per Sherman’s suggestion, the stew be served over the corn cakes. I made and served bread to round out the meal. Nancy’ s son, Landon joined us, a handsome young lad who loves my cooking!

I love to cook, and I love to share a meal with good friends. Here, our meal:

I took the picture with an app called “foodie”, and I’m not sure it did the meal justice, but it was delicious, and Landon ate three to four servings. I love it when people eat my creations with hearty appetites! You can see the corn cake peeking out from under the stew. Next time, I will salt the corn meal cooking water just a little more. As usual, experiment with your cooking. As the author of this cookbook says, ” Cookbooks are suggestions “. Create, experiment, have fun, and share with friends.

Thank you for reading.

My Son- Food Lover and Wonderfully Creative Cook!

Stevie loves to cook! Who knows how much a child observes a mother, who loves to cook, to becomes a cook, himself? Or if watching mom in the kitchen was even the reason he fell in love with the creative process of cooking? Well, Stevie loves to cook and bake! I may have already written about his first loaves of bread that came out of the oven perfect, the very first time! “Mom, just tell me what to do.” That was one conversation on the phone. He even went to culinary school for a semester (carpentry is his first love, so culinary became an avocation) where he soon became lead bread baker for the school’s cafe. Keep in mind this was a kid who thought school lunch was wonderful when he was young. He was a favorite of the school cooks, I can tell you! “That was the best lunch, ever”. He’d say on a daily basis. I imagined they thought I gave him “Spagettios” at home, or some other canned stuff. So the first loaves of his fabulous bread turned turned into years of inspiring loaves.

His loaves make people happy, They are simple, tasty, aromatic, and wonderfully satisfying plain, slathered in butter, or with jam. The next day, Stevie’s loaves make the best French toast.

I went to visit our son; and his girlfriend, Paige. He made his newly found favorite, meat and vegetable pie! It wasn’t even Christmas! He would have made Charles Dickens’ character, Mrs. Joe Gargery, proud. Anyway, Stevie made a two-pie crust. Meanwhile, on the stove, he combined ground beef (a quicker version), onions, mixed vegetables, seasonings, and dark oatmeal stout. He simmered it until thickened, and set it aside while he finished the pie crust. When the crust was ready, he poured in the “stew” and topped it off with the other crust. He sealed the crusts, and popped it into a very hot oven for about 40 minutes.

We ate the meat pie heartily, and chased it with more oatmeal stout!

Here’s the happy couple!

I wonder if he’ll make his own wedding cake…hint…hint!

Tomato Soup and Toasted Cheese

Why does a toasted cheese sandwich and tomato soup “hit the spot” in the winter months?  I’m not sure that was a childhood staple for you, but I grew up in the mountains, and when we came home from sledding, skating, or skiing, that particular menu item filled our bellies and warmed our hearts!   Perhaps Mom and/or Dad fed us that because bread, cheese, butter, and tomato soup we cheap and filling to seven hungry children.  To this day, I think my siblings would say that it’s a “go to” meal.  Well, except my sister, Eileen.  She watches her weight.  I just watch my weight…grow.

If this is your first time reading me, I took a different job within the institution of higher education where I once serve as a faculty member for 13 years.  In this iteration, I am now in a different department where I serve as director of intercultural learning (that’s another story).  So, I am living in temporary quarters until we sell a house and buy one.

One of my roommates, Regan, bakes a fantastic loaf of sourdough bread!  My other roommate has a friend who makes hard cheese (white cheddar), and I like to make tomato soup from scratch.  Together,  served a delicious and simple meal.

My tomato soup:

12 Roma Tomatoes (blanched, peeled, and blended, or chopped finely)

6 ounces (170g) of homemade pesto (I’ve offered my recipe for this a number of entries ago, but you likely have a good recipe yourself).

4 mushrooms of your choice

1/4 of a small onion or 2 shallots

One cup of red wine

1 block of cream cheese (8 ounces/227g)

1 tablespoon (14.2g) olive oil

Begin by heating oil on medium heat.  Add onions/shallots and cook until transparent.  Add mushrooms, and cook until water has evaporated.  Add tomatoes, and cook until liquid has dissipated.  Add wine, and cook until the alcohol has evaporated, but the flavor remains.  Now add the pesto.  You get your salt, more oil, and texture from the pine nuts in the pesto, so you don’t have to add too much more salt, but make sure it’s to your taste.  If you want a smoother soup, you can use an immersion blender, here.  When your soup reaches a thick point, and you are getting close to serving it, add the cream cheese with the heat lowered just a little bit.  Here it is.


While you’re watching your soup come together, you can build your toasted (sometimes called, “grilled cheese”) sandwiches.  We sliced the lovely sourdough bread, buttered it on the outside, and laid the sliced cheese.  For the two-sided, enclosed sandwich, we buttered two slices of bread to put on the outside so that it made contact with the griddle.  We used a toaster oven for the open-faced, toasted cheese sandwich.  Both are wonderful!  Now, you may think that my tomato soup looks a little like Welsh Rarebit.  I don’t put Worcestershire sauce, or dry mustard, or flour, or stout, but you could modify this recipe to be Welsh Rarebit, which is also quite delicious.  Leave out the pesto, wine, and mushrooms, however.

When we assembled our tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches so that we could dip the sandwiches into the soup.  The next morning, for breakfast, I poured the thick soup over my toasted cheese sandwich.


As with all meals, eat them with people you love and who allow you to be who you are.

Thank you for reading.