Well…I’m not dead yet! Part Two

So as you know, if you follow my blog, my father passed away in August. I had a love/hate relationship with my father, he was kind of like dealing with a porcupine! Caused a lot of stress in my life, but there is still a strange emptiness with his passing.

August is almost a blur and soon turns into September. My back pain comes back, this time radiating into my left hip. I’m thinking that I should get an X-ray because this “pinched nerve” thing just won’t go away. Pain is getting pretty bad, like I can’t roll over in bed. I have to use my arms to get out of bed. Breathing is getting more difficult with any exertion. So off I go to the chiropractor, Xray shows some need of adjustment. With some adjustments, ice therapy, and a back brace, I thought I might be feeling a little better. However this breathing thing was getting worse and now I developed an annoying cough that of course was hurting my back!

September slips into October my favorite time of year, so much to do! Art festivals, cookouts, Oktoberfest, Halloween parties, pumpkins to carve! The weather is wonderful. I am feeling tired and run down, it was a struggle to do anything! I manage, just barely, to make our costumes. Went to a few art shows, walking around I would start to feel weak like I was gonna pass out and would have to sit down, awful! I was having trouble sleeping because of the pain of turning over and this cough. A few more treatments at the chiropractor. Then I started getting chills and running a low grade temperature? Well a pinched nerve does not cause a fever! So I am thinking maybe, just maybe I have a kidney infection…back pain, fever?

Ok so I make an appointment to see my primary doctor, the same place that gave me a glowingly clean bill of health about a year ago. My blood tests all came back great, I was so proud! Just to remind you I have always been a healthy active person so this was no surprise. Things had changed. I am feeling weak and when I look in the mirror I look pale. I have no energy and get out of breath just getting dressed. I felt so weak and generally awful, I could hear my pulse. One day I told Jerry that I feel like I am dying. I had no appetite and was basically just eating fruit. At the doctors office they asked me for a urine sample and they see a little bacteria so they put me on an antibiotic for a week. Fever came back every evening. I started taking iron supplements and B-12 anything to have a little energy. To be continued

Moms Day

I always seem to approach Mothers Day with mixed emotions. It’s hard when your Mom is not with you any longer. But then I remember, my Mom is who influenced me the most and she is the reason I am the person that I am today. Wether you want to admit it or not the person that raised you formed most of your early ideals. My Mom and I were very close, oh yes she was crazy, funny, annoying, all those things a mother can be! Of course we had our ups and downs, we all do. I always thought of myself as an independent soul, setting out on new paths and unchartered territories, I thought I was so different and innovative.  But as I get older I am finding out to my great surprise that I am from a long line of very interesting women, my tribe! Unfortunetly there is no one left on my Moms side of the family. I wish I had understood these things earlier, but I guess everything has its own time to reveal itself.

I have recently found out that my Great Grandma, Viola Sherlock, was an amazing women. This was my Moms fathers mother. Now I knew her, but I was very young and she was very old. She and her three sisters were in show business, they used to dance and perform in The Follies. I have found amazing pictures of them in their costumes and one of the sisters had a beautiful white horse that also performed. I found out one of the sisters was an artist and have some of her amazing sketches. Check out the artwork on the menus. Viola was one of the first women to have played tennis at Wimbledon. They used to talk about this little place they had called The Pepper Pot, in Greenwich Village. Well I have come to find out this was quite the place, Viola and her husband Doc owned and ran it. Apparently it was one of the only places at the time, 1929, that got away, most of the time, with selling alcohol during the prohibition. This was a crazy place, it was a jazz dance hall, a party house. Attracting lots of celebrities and sport stars apparently a place to see and be seen! A true center of the bohemian lifestyle of the village back in the day. I have found numerous articles of them being hauled off to jail! For disturbing the peace and what not! The menu was amazing and pretty pricey for the day.

This all is so amazing to me because I am a bit of all of these things, a chef, an artist, a horse trainer! A free spirit! My tribe, my blood! WOW\MOM

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Is it just me or…

Ok I certainly don’t want to rain on anybodies parade and I’m sure this has probably been someone’s best Christmas ever but for me I’m not so sure.

Now mind you my daughter is all grown up, I don’t have any children in my life right now. Christmas with children is always magical. I know Christmas is a wonderful celebration, a special time of year. But for some reason this year seemed flat. I’m not sure why? Maybe it’s the advertising and commercialism of the whole thing that seemed to start way back in October. By the time Christmas finally got here maybe we were sick of it. Maybe I got hit with the grinch stick, I don’t know? I tried to get into it, I tried to look forward to it. I usually enjoy the season, cozying up and drinking hot chocolate, sitting outside on a brisk night by the fire. But this year in Florida it has been 85 degrees, wearing tank tops and flip flops doesn’t put me in the caroling mood.

We did have family and friends come to visit and plenty of delicious lovingly prepared food. But for some reason I couldn’t help feel that it was all a lot of extra work. Maybe my mind was elsewhere, on things I had to put on hold for the holiday. Maybe it was the fact that we tried to not buy into all the hype. We are all grown ups and pretty much get the things we want and need. Every year  we rack our brains and fight the crowds to try to get everyone something thoughtful and unique. We run around spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need! Enough! We wanted to get back to the spirit of the holiday to enjoy each other’s company and share a nice meal.  It was nice not having the extra pressure of the perfect gift, but not everyone was on board. That made for some uncomfortable moments! Not to mention my 88 year old father trying to start up inappropriate conversations, that’s one way to quiet down a room, total silence! Lol But I guess that’s part of the getting together with family thing! As for not spending a bunch of money you don’t have at the holidays, that nice meal along with all the extras of feeding family and friends for days cost at least $500!  Not to mention days of shopping, cleaning, and preparation! I did pare it back as much as I could. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the cooking and baking we had a lot of laughs, the time in the kitchen was fun. We made some amazing breakfasts, and shared some delicious new foods with everyone, persimmons grown from my tree, a wonderful new bacon we found, eggs from our free range chickens, and turning people on to a fruitcake they could love! Scott made an entire turkey with all the fixins one day, Jerry and I made sauce and meatballs and lasagna, our traditional Christmas dinner. I also baked my famous fruitcakes and some blondies.

All things considered, I guess it was good. Even though we tried to cut back and make the holiday less stressful there always seems to be that rush, a flurry of craziness at the holidays. Maybe that’s what it’s all about? Maybe I will get it right next year. 🙂

Time Rolls On

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Here in Florida it is getting HOT! Trying to fit in every outdoor activity possible. We haven’t been getting too much rain lately so it has been go, go, go! Gardening, which right now is tons of watering, weeding, and mowing. Working horses, bike riding, kayaking. Summer is here and the heat can get oppressive! Starting to shift all outdoor activities to early morning or after dinner. The chickens are getting big, I guess they are around twelve weeks old now. Starting to let them out in the evenings when we are out in the yard. They are funny little critters each with their own distinct personality! We have one rooster and he is beautiful, and I think we have 4 hens, not sure about one!

Yesterday was such a great day! I had a visit with a wonderful friend, someone I haven’t seen in a very long time! Someone I grew up with! Her name is Charlene and I met her when I was two and she was six. She is from New York and participated in a program called Fresh Air Kids. Every year she would come and stay the summer with my family, in Connecticut. We had so much fun, she was like a big sister to me! Even when we moved to Florida, she came down for a few years. She was 16 the last summer she came to stay and I missed her dearly but time rolls on. We grew up, got jobs, got married, had kids of our own, got lost in our own lives. Funny how things change…or do they?

Yesterday she came to visit. Now mind you we haven’t seen each other in over 30 years, but it seemed just like old times so familiar, so much fun! Reminiscing about all the crazy stuff we did as kids! Pulling taffy with my Mom, riding horses, swimming, drinking out of hoses at the stables that smelled so bad you had to hold your nose! We were outside every day from dawn until dark!!! Wow, brought back such fond memories. She got to meet Jerry and Scott, had to take her on the tour of our little farm, and of course we cooked her dinner, went with chicken Parmesan as I wanted to spend time visiting, not cooking. Very satisfying. What a wonderful day. I sure hope to stay in touch a little better this time!

Tie dye

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Celebrations…celebrations are rituals we perform. They are important.  I think holidays are a  way of stopping and marking time, to remember, to reconnect, to reach out. I once worked for someone that didn’t want to observe holidays, it was strange to me. In the United States we are such a melting pot which is great on one hand because you can adopt all kinds of traditions from varying cultures. But on the other hand, our traditions are watered down with so many other influences, it’s hard to remember it’s not just another sales event. I like a reason to stop and do things maybe a little out of the ordinary. Almost all celebrations are centered around food, and one thing is for sure, that gives me reason to go over the top with cooking and baking!

This past weekend was no different. Jerry and Scott are back and so began a wild frenzy of shopping and prepping, cleaning and cooking. After a delicious breakfast of fresh picked blueberries and peaches, blueberry pancakes, eggs and sausages.  We started cooking at 9am we smoked ribs three ways, smoked a pork butt too. We grilled corn and made cole slaw and baked beans and fruit salad and banana cream pie.

It was a crazy strange group of friends and family, with all the regular drama and issues people bring together, I imagine it would look like a tie dyed shirt from afar. Energy and excitement, pain and despair, sickness and health, love and hate, old and new. The human condition, in a microcosm of a group all brought together to hopefully enjoy lovingly prepared food in our humble backyard! A reason to celebrate.

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Surprise!

We just celebrated Easter, what a cool weekend it turned out to be! We travel quite a bit with our jobs and my husband Jerry was in Ohio. Our daughter was in the process of moving to her new house and she was exhausted. Everyone just seemed too busy. I am a chef and I enjoy cooking but if no one is gonna be here to eat…it was just gonna be my friend Scott and I. I was actually trying to talk myself into taking the day off and going out to eat, I have never done this on a holiday but I thought it might be fun…well different anyway.

Easter peeps!

Easter peeps!

With all this spring fever going on around here I decided to get some chicks, thought it might take my mind off no Easter cooking, I got 5. They are so cute, little fuzzy egg shaped critters running around! I went out and got all their special food and equipment. I ordered a cute chicken coop that will be here Friday. I was always interested in having my own free range chickens and eggs. If you have never had a real fresh, free range egg for breakfast you don’t know what you are missing! They are so different from anything I have ever bought in a store, beautiful bright orange fluffy yolks that stand up tall in the pan and they are so tasty! And from what I understand they have more healthy nutrients in them too.  I got chickens that lay blue green eggs called Ameraucana. They should start laying around August, I can’t wait! So I was considering sitting around all weekend playing with the new babies!

Jerry told me he was sending me some package and to not worry about buying any food for Easter. Late Thursday night he called to ask if I had recieved the package yet and that it was supposed to have been delivered on the back porch. I said “No, no package had been delivered” I had been outside with the little peeps all afternoon, and he said, just go check, it should be on the porch. So I walk out and there he is!!! I was so surprised! I honestly had no idea! I was so happy to see him. Now it was on! We shopped and cleaned, and cooked and everyone came over for a wonderful Easter dinner. I made ham, roasted asparagus, baked beans, carrot salad, potato salad, and a cannoli cake. Everything turned out fine…good food, good company, and good laughs!

Who Will You Feed?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” Mother Teresa

Cooking, baking, creating what a wonderful thing. Feeding people is such a basic human necessity. It is a rewarding feeling when you have been prepping and cooking all day long and finally, finally, everyone is seated and enjoying the meal you prepared. There is a quiet satisfaction in the hush that comes over a room when everyone is eating.

Who do you feed? Family? Friends? Clients? Pets? Do you feed yourself well?

When we are home we have a big dinner every Sunday night. It started out as a way to stay in touch and connect at least once a week with family. But it has grown into so much more. Always an open invitation, friends we haven’t seen in a while or neighbors sometimes stop by. If the weather is nice we sit outside and watch the hummingbirds or bats. Its an opportunity to slow down and connect with nature and loved ones. I greatly enjoy these times especially in todays hectic and very busy lives.

If, like me, you enjoy making delicious, healthy meals you might want to check out http://www.cookingmatters.org where you can share your knowledge and connect with a network of people who share your passion for healthy food and community.

We are getting ready to celebrate  Easter this Sunday. Who will you feed?

Look What I Found!

Treasure

This worn out little green appointment book is an amazing treasure to me! This is a cookbook of my Mom’s and, as you can see, it was handwritten in 1953 by her! There are literally dozens of recipes in here, mostly for baking. There are recipes for crumb cakes and butter creams. Tricks to poaching eggs. Doughnut recipes. Fillings and glazes and frostings! Cannoli recipes, Italian yellow cake, Swedish cakes, Magic cookies and so much more! These recipes were special enough to my mom for her to write them down. Such fond memories! I actually do remember her making many of them, I can’t wait to try my hand at it! I would love to go one by one through the entire book and try them all.

Last week a friend and I were having a lovely lunch and we started to discuss genealogy, now this is something my friend has researched quiet a bit. Some interesting thoughts were brought to light and this is something that has fairly recently occurred to me. It’s true! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Sometimes if you have an innate talent or a passion for something, if you look back in your family tree, even to people in your family that you never knew, you very often find there was someone in your family with the same passion.

This never dawned on me before, I always thought I was doing my own thing! I never even cooked while my Mom was alive, well not very much. I did a tiny bit of research on my own ancestry and found out my family has a long line of artists, actors, and chefs. How very interesting? I am an artist. I do perform with my horses. And I am a passionate chef! This is a subject I would love to dig further into. I have some very interesting characters in my family! My great grandmother Viola Sherlock and great grandfather Doc owned and ran the infamous Pepper Pot restaruant in Greenwich Village, NY. in the 1920’s. They cooked and created their own recipes and menus. But alas, this will have to be a story for another day!

Man is Food

imageYou can’t separate man and food, man is food. This is very thought provoking for me. Over the course of history it has always been about the food, hasn’t it? Cavemen gathered together to hunt and eat, if you didn’t eat you didn’t live. Almost all of our holidays are centered around food, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Think about it, almost every time you get together with friends and family it is with food. Wedding, food. Housewarming, bring food. New baby, bring more food. Heck people even eat at funerals. Food food food! It’s something you can’t do without, not that you would want to, so you might as well do it right!

I have had this long term belief that good nutrition is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. I think growing up with a sick parent kinda gives you a different outlook on things. My brother and I are pretty health conscious. One of the fondest memories I have is going to the health food store with my Mom. Now keep in mind when I was a kid health food stores were different then they are today. No big box stores with shiny advertisements and bright lights. They were always in some cozy looking little house or building and they smelled of interesting herbs and spices. Sometimes a wonderful smell of incense wafting in the background. We would get vitamins and teas and wonderful smelling creams for your skin. I remember always getting some special treat like little golden candies with honey inside. It always seemed so magical and special to me! And I believe it piqued my interest in health and taking good care of myself and those around me. So…if you are what you eat, you better feed yourself well!