Category Archives: Cooking

eat this: texture

August’s First Friday, with three more Fridays on the calendar for August. When the fourth Friday lands, school will be back in session and my free-range Fridays will be at an end, for a while.

love at first bite, do we really eat with our eyes first?

It’s been a great summer; and if you listen to Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere, sort of. O and I returned from Michigan Monday morning and O made band camp, B and Ivy followed us home Tuesday. We’re all home, for now. We have one more final adventure Up North next weekend before school begins. After then our adventures will have to be local.

sunflowers at Dutch Farm Market

On our way home Monday, O and I stopped at our favorite farmer’s market. MM 26 on I-196 between Benton Harbor and Holland if you’re headed north and reversed if you are headed south. Dutch Farm Market is open 7 days a week from mid-May until late October, though we only stop in the summer on our way. Sometimes, like I did, we stop on the way home.  We rarely stop on our way home, it’s either too late and they’re closed, or we’re loaded, have no room, and we want to get home.

Dutch Farm Market is nestled along the fruit coast of western Michigan where the climate is perfect for blueberries and fruit trees – peaches, apples, cherries, you name it – it grows and it grows well. Farmer Ed, who owns Dutch Farm Market, has 500 acres of fruit trees and opens his orchards to the public for U-Pick. Continue reading eat this: texture

last Sunday in July

It’s Monday, August 1. Yesterday was Sunday, July 31 – the last day of July. It’s always a bittersweet day. The first day of August means the month of August is here and it means school is coming, soon.

the sun sets, day is done
the sun sets, day is done

Back to school shopping, school supplies, a regular schedule, and wearing pants (soon) every day.

Yesterday I spent the day boating, reading, and cooking.

I’ve been reading Hamilton by Ron Chernow, but it’s not easy reading. I picked it up last fall and read the first two chapters before setting it down for something lighter. It’s full of facts and details that are interesting, incredibly interesting, but it is difficult to sit and read at the lake. I discovered Audible and have listened to several chapters while driving home and back this summer. I am at the point in the book where Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds is revealed and his reputation takes a hit. ’Say No To This’. America’s first sex scandal.

I needed something lighter, easier to read so I picked up Dead Wake: The Last Crossing by the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I spent much of the afternoon and early evening reading. Despite the subject it is much a lighter topic and an easier read.

After dinner, I enjoyed B’s blueberry crisp. A perfectly sweet finish to the day and remembered I needed to cover the boat.

blueberry crisp, a book, and summer
blueberry crisp, a book, and summer

The sunset. Continue reading last Sunday in July

Today is the day

It’s Thursday morning and I am the only soul awake. Even Ivy sleeps. She woke when I did, went outside, and came back to the screen door and I let her inside. She is curled up in a ball on the footstool, grandma’s footstool. It’s Ivy’s perch, so to speak. The footstool comes with grandma’s chair, it’s grandma’s morning perch when she is here, too. There’s a marked depression where she lays and it’s now part of the cottage. Last summer, when grandma was up north, Ivy came over to the footstool, put her head on grandma’s leg and looked up, pleading. Grandma held her ground and Ivy retreated to her pad by the door. This morning Ivy jumped up on the stool without asking, though sometimes she does ask but this morning she didn’t.  I did not protest, as I often do, or almost always, she warmed my legs while I sipped my coffee and gazed out across the lake as early morning slipped into day and the lake slowly returned to light.

Ivy and the footstool
Ivy and the footstool

Yesterday was windy and it wasn’t a good day for boating, Tuesday was windy, as well, and taking the kayak out was a struggle, but I did it anyway. Today looks like it will windy and the lake will be choppy for another day. Nevertheless, I have other tasks to do; there is always something to do, to keep busy, some important task that needs to be accomplished. Continue reading Today is the day

Intricate: Weekly Photo Challenge

Spring is in full bloom. I can see it and I can feel it.  It’ll be gone before I know it. That’s the way things to work – gone and replaced by something new. The flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom and they are absolutely stunning with their pinks, reds, and whites.

intricate4
at the corner – a shrub, I simply overlooked until this evening

Continue reading Intricate: Weekly Photo Challenge

Thanksgiving – being thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with family, friends, and memories – past, present, and future.

thanksgiving

We are supposed to wake up in Ohio this morning, but we’re did not. Instead of travelling to visit B’s mom, we decided to stay home. It was a tough decision, but the right one. B and O are sick, or were sick, or in the process of getting better, or somewhere on the continuum and it’s just not worth spreading our germs to grandma or anyone else. So, we stayed home.

The turkey is in the oven, the sweet potatoes are cooked and cooling on the side burner waiting for B to turn them into sweet potato casserole. I need to clean the beans and the table, but, first, I need to say thanks. It smells like Thanksgiving in our home.

I am incredibly thankful. I have so much for which to be thankful. After getting the turkey in the oven, I sat down with a cup of coffee to read the newspaper. Ivy snuggled up beside me, resting her head on my thigh warming my legs. I read about Ferguson, Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington, the Nor’easter hammering the northeast, the Bears and today’s football games, and a guy named Steve who runs an incredible hobby shop. I read my horoscope and the weather where I learned that this Thanksgiving will be the coldest in Chicagoland in 58 years. Yikes. Then, I called my mom in Texas to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving, then my step-mom in Mississippi, and texted my brothers, too. Then, I sat down to write a short post.

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been blogging @MakingDaysCount for over four years and this will be my fifth post. I went back to read all four, they are below.

It’s amusing how time blurs lines and memories. I enjoyed re-reading each post. I smiled, laughed, shed a tear, and watched the rocket videos, boy that was fun. I remember writing each post and where I was. Interesting. Every year, I wrote a list of why I was thankful and I don’t believe I could have written a better list of why I am thankful, so I won’t.  You are welcome to go back in time as I did and re-read, but please take time to be thankful in your world.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Make Your Thanksgiving Day Count, make the next day a million and six times better than the day before it and pay it forward. Light the world with your smile. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, saying thanks and praying for wonderful day with many more to come.

Thank you.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Texture

 

peach and blueberry crisp with salted caramel ice cream...hmmmm
peach and blueberry crisp with salted caramel ice cream…hmmmm

Texture – the way a food or drink feels in your mouth – smooth, crispy, crunchy, chewy….

MW_textureThat’s Merriam-Webster’s definition, but like most words we use we end up having a working definition of the word. To me texture means many things, it’s the way I wear clothes, to the way our house is landscaped, but I love to cook, to create, and have fun but the food on the plate needs to have a different texture and different feel when you eat it.

Continue reading Weekly Photo Challenge – Texture

License plates and sunshine

IMG_1260
our route – I think I could do it with my eyes closed….

We are all back up north – B, W, O, Ivy, and me. If I could, I’d stay up here forever, but there is something called money, and a job, that keeps me from doing just that. And, perhaps being up north might lose it’s luster if it weren’t an occasional treat like ice cream or chocolate. This is the place that grandpa built – it’s the place for family and more memories than I can write about for now. B’s sister will be joining us later this evening for a short visit and grandma will be coming up next week. It’ll be a good time.

We came up Sunday afternoon. We had planned to come up Sunday morning, but we just needed to take our time. I’d been at Beauty and Charm all week and W came home from football Saturday afternoon and wouldn’t move – he was so tired. He needed to pack for his scouting trip next week to the boundary waters trip in northern Minnesota, but he just lied there on his bed, so we let him sleep. He slept from 6PM until 8AM Sunday morning, he must’ve been tired, because when we got here Sunday night, he slept another ten hours into Monday morning. We drove both of the cars because W has to go back Friday for his trip and one of us has to drive him.

O, Ivy, and I left first in my car and B and W followed hers with W driving. Driving 359 miles can be a drain. O was watching a movie on the iPad beside me and I was driving, paying attention to traffic, and listening to a Market Place podcast when I had a brilliant idea, why not count the number of different state license plates we saw along our way? I nudged O and explained my idea. I asked her how many she thought we might see and she replied 24. She was in. We had rules for our game – only cars and pickup trucks, no buses, and commercial vehicles like tractor-trailer rigs or delivery trucks. And, only US states, no Canada plates. She quickly called out our first license plate – Illinois. We quickly had ten or so – Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota and we had fourteen when B called to check in and I told her about our game. She took it as a challenge and it was game on. Driving along the interstates made it easier: I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-196 are heavily trafficked but once we were north of Grand Rapids, we didn’t see another new license plate.

We finished with 24 and B and W beat us Continue reading License plates and sunshine

Roadside beach

Sometimes you just have to pull over and take time and breathe.

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller (1880-1968); Author, Lecturer, Activist

sunset, Lake Michigan - eastern shore, June 8, 2014

I was up north for the weekend. I drove north Friday night and came home, reluctantly, Sunday evening. Saturday was busy. It was full of chores and full of pulling in air, something I desperately needed. Saturday afternoon, I slow-cooked a pork butt on the grill and made my famous cucumber and red onion salad, at least it’s famous to me. It tastes like summer. I sliced off some pork slathering it with BBQ sauce Continue reading Roadside beach

Bananas…

How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

from Quart Blog By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros March 3, 2014

madagascar-kid

It’s that time of the year when my geography class gets to study Latin America. I say GET TO study, because learning should be fun, eye opening, and an opportunity to see things for the first time or see something from a different point of view. My students would have you believe they HAVE TO study Latin America, but really they GET TO. To add to the fun of learning about a place they have never seen, I ask my students to collect banana stickers . We sort them by country, brand, and organic vs. traditional. When were finished collecting, I ask them to think about what our sticker collection tells us about bananas. With the shift to Common Core – it is a good thing, trust me – I am asking my students to think deeper, to make connections to the world around them and to wonder where the food we eat comes from, and if it a good thing, or not. Living in the middle of Illinois farm country where corn, soy beans, and wheat are grown as well as cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised my kids, my students – suburban children of middle class Americans think little of where the food they eat comes from or how it gets here.

I’ve tried to re-blog the article and it seems the process is stuck….. so I am re-posting the link here it is….

How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

I heard about this article while listening to Market Place on NPR Thursday evening on my way home. I knew about the situation and had read the book mentioned in the article, but I was looking for something I could share with my seventh graders. Rather than refer to the article with an embedded link, I felt it was better to reblog it. I’ll be writing more later, but give it a read, it’s worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by,  Making the Days Count, one day at a time, and one banana a day, too.

Plat du Jour

It is Monday morning. Saturday has passed, Sunday, too. It’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday weekend and there is no school. On a normal Monday morning, I’d be up to my eyebrows in teaching ELA, but today and last Monday, and the Monday before last – school has been out. I enjoy the three- day weekends, but I get lazy and don’t accomplish what I should. However, last weekend was a three-day weekend for my students, it was not for me, the teachers had a workday and I got a lot done. Full Disclosure, though it felt like a three-day weekend.

Saturday morning's sunrise....
Saturday morning’s sunrise….

The weather has been typical Midwest January – cold. Continue reading Plat du Jour