Saturday, November 28, 2009

I love food blogs!

My internet friend, Mara, writes a wonderful food blog. She is getting married today, so is obviously not blogging! (~_~)

I was honored to be one of her guest bloggers.

Check it out!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Round Tuit

In theory the idea of being an organ donor had always been in the back of my mind. But for some reason I just never did it.

Then a dear friend died while waiting for a kidney transplant. He was our daughter's "best college friend" and we came to know and love him while she was at Chico State. I can't begin to tell you how much he enjoyed life. Whether he was donating time to the Boy Scouts in Nevada City, whipping up gourmet dinners in his tiny Chico apartment, or earning his teaching credential so he could pass on his thirst for knowledge, everything he took on was done to the best of his ability and with every ounce of enthusiasm he had. He gave generously of his time to those he loved. He helped decorate for our daughter's wedding, and graciously made room for our out of town family and friends, even hosting the Bachelor Party and giving everyone a walking tour of the downtown Chico clubs.

I couldn't get over the senselessness of his death. He had just turned thirty. He was a young man wise beyond his years, a man who knew how short life could be, and lived every waking moment.

I kept thinking, "What if only one more person had donated an organ, Kevin might be alive today." And then I realized that someday, I might be that "one person" to someone else. That did it. I got "a round tuit" that very day.

For more information visit

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Heaven on a plate! Fresh zucchini blossoms stuffed with just a bit of sharp cheddar cheese, lightly fried (egg wash, then dipped in a mixture of flour, panko, and Pampered Chef Italian Seasoning).
Garnished with a bit more of sharp cheddar, and sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper (the only kind in my kitchen!) and Hawaiian red sea salt.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lifelong Friendships

How many of you can boast childhood friends of over fifty years—ones you still stay in touch with and see as frequently as possible?

I grew up in the very small community of Loleta, CA (up in Humboldt County---please spare me the “pot” jokes, I’ve probably heard them all!). Growing up Loleta in the 1950’s was the best of times.

A small town of about eight hundred (I used to joke that included the cows, but in fact, the rich dairy land in the Loleta bottoms probably had a larger populations than that of our human one).

One of the advantages of living in a small town like Loleta is the close-knit community feeling. Any event you attended was merely an extension of the people you knew from home/school/church. There was no need to put up a fa├žade, or indeed, was that even possible, since everyone knew everyone else! What you did on the playground, whose birthday party you went to, or even what you had in your lunchbox every day was public knowledge.

I attended first through eighth grades in the same school, and then went on to high school in the “big” town of Fortuna (population 5,000) five miles away. There were cliques in my high school, same as today, but instead of the jocks and the cheerleaders, the geeks and the stoners we tended to stay in our own little small-town groups—Loleta, Fortuna, Hydesville, Rhonerville, Rio Dell/Scotia.

I have stayed in touch with two of my best friends from those years. After high school it was Christmas cards and birthday cards, with an occasional letter or postcard thrown in. After we all hooked up on the Internet in the late 1990’s, our friendship was easier to maintain. So much so that when we get together now, we don’t have to spend a great deal of time getting “caught up” on each other’s lives. We reminisce, we laugh, we cry. We are comfortable in each other’s presence because of the history we share.

Earlier this month the three of us held a “slumber party” weekend in Sacramento. Although the kool-aid and potato chips were replaced by tapas and sangria, the giggles and laughter and friendship were as they had always been—easy and loud and full of love for old friends.

For more on the value of “old” friendships see:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TFI Friday's Crisp Green Bean Fries

Had these at dinner last night and can't wait to try a copycat recipe out at home.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Blue Plate Meatloaf with Bacon Gravy

From the Blue Plate Diner in San Francisco

The meat loaf:
2 tsp. bacon fat or butter
1 medium onion diced small
5 cloves garlic minced
2/3 cups breadcrumbs
pinch of dried thyme
2 tsp. minced fresh sage
3 tbsp. chopped fresh italian parsley
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. worcestshire sauce
3/4 tsp. red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt
a few drops tabasco sauce
1 lb. ground beef
5 ounces ground pork

The gravy:
4 strips thick-cut smoked bacon
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh thyme chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock

For the meat loaf:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 5 by 9 inch pan with nonstick spray. In a saute pan, add bacon fat or butter, onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat, until onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Take care not to carmelize the onions. Remove from pan and reserve. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the meat. Let sit for 5 minutes, which allows the crumbs to absorb the wet mix and soften, preventing the loaf from cracking.
Add the meat and onion mixture to the bowl and mix by hand until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the cooking time. Let cool before unmolding.

For the gravy:
In a large shallow saute pan over medium low heat, cook bacon with 1 tbsp. butter, the olive oil, shallot, garlic, and thyme. Add white wine, bring to a simmer and reduce for about 4 to 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half. Stir in the remaining tbsp. butter and serve over the meatloaf.
Serves: 6-8
Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Susan's Notes:

We made this last night.

The meatloaf was good, nothing extraordinary, but the GRAVY is what made this recipe a winner! We used a “real” smoked applewood bacon (as opposed to a “sprayed on” hickory flavoring).

We doubled the recipe, and kind of eyeballed some of the ingredients (i.e. 2 eggs instead of 4, a little less milk than called for, cut the garlic in half, used poultry seasoning instead of some of the herbs called for).

One mistake we made was doing a single recipe of the gravy, because we had no idea how good it would be!

Even though we simmered it down, it was still a little thin for our taste, so we made a slurry out of cornstarch and water and thickened it up a bit.

This gravy will make it’s appearance again and again in our house!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It Comes In Threes?

It was a long week.

My sister and bro-in-law pastor a small church in Arkansas. They have really good friends from their Air Force days. I met the family at my niece's wedding a few years ago. I was especially impressed with the daughter, who was about 18. She radiated Jesus' love in everything she did (helping prepare for the wedding, cleaning the frig, cooking and feeding hoards of people). All with a smile all the time.

She was accidentially shot and killed by her husband. They were newlyweds of less than three months.

Then my daughter called to tell me that one of her daughter's classmates had died unexpectedly at home.

And if that wasn't enough, she called me back to say that her husband's cousins daughter had died in a hiking accident. She was 20.

Sometimes you just don't understand.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


There, I said it.

I'm a regifter.

Born into it.

Lived it my whole life.

Delving deep into my psyche would probably discover the reasons why.

I came from a large family where money was always a scarce commodity.

I didn't find any joy in buying birthday presents for my friends. That shopping "trip" went like this:

"Mom, Kathee invited me to her birthday party Saturday."

"OK, let's look in the closet and see what I have."

I didn't discover the joy of shopping for others until years later.

And even then, somehow I didn't realize that when I regifted I was robbing them of the pleasure of giving.

I always opened a gift with one thought lingering in the back of my mind, "Who could I give this to?", thus saving me that elusive spare cash for mundane things like rent, food, doctor bills.

In the last few years, this has happily changed for me.

I opened boxes containing earrings, pulling them off their cardboard backing and putting them on. I uncorked the bottles of wine and consumed them. I delved into the cookies and candies. I took the scarves and gloves and ripped off the tags and started wearing them. I proudly wrote my name inside the books, forever removing the temptation to regift them. I used the Starbucks card, instead of sending it on to a friend. I lit the candles.

I opened.

I used.

I enjoyed.

I have seen the light----I now consider myself a reformed regifter------because I am worth all these gifts chosen just for me!

My favorite quote from Dr. Northrup:

I do enough

I have enough

I AM enough

Sunday, January 04, 2009

RESOLVED: To Be Present

For several years now, I have realized the importance of "being in the moment"----to "be present" no matter what I am doing.

This was illustrated quite profoundly last week when I went to Sea World with our daughter and three grandgirls.

There was a young man sitting in the row in front of us at the Viva show.

Quite the multitasker he was.

With one hand he had his camcorder pointed at the action on the stage (or should I say water). The other hand was busily texting away on his cellphone. Somehow he had his map of the park spread across his lap, and was studying that, too.

Yeah, he thinks. When I get home tonight I can watch the tape.

What he didn't realize was something I could easily see sitting in the elevated seat behind him. The camcorder was pointed so that the heads of the performer had been cut off. What he was videotaping was virtually worthless.

He had missed the show, both live, and later, on tape.

How many of us go through life like this?

When I was much younger and my now grown-children-with-children-of-their-own were young, I wished much of their life away. When they learned to (fill in the blank----sleep through the night, walk, talk......) life would be easier. Always wanting them to fast forward through whatever awkward stage they were going through.

How much joy and happiness I let slip through my fingers.

With the sand in my hourglass fuller on the bottom these days, I strive not to make that error with what time I have left.

Resolve to be present in your life in 2009!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Start of 2009

Ah, come on friends, you KNOW there is a story here!

Spent the last day of 2008 at Sea World here in San Antonio with our daughter and three grandgirls, aged 3-7. We stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way for our traditional breakfast. After Sea World was done, we met her hubby (who had to work) at one of the first restaurants they ever took me to, "Cha Cha's".

Started with their premium margaritas at $27 per pitcher. They are simply the best margarita I've ever had. Smooth as silk.

Then on to the chips and nicely spiced salsa.

Gorditas were next, served with beans and rice. One ground beef, one pork.

Good stuff.

Got home about 7pm Suddenly extremely tired -- and can you believe that walking around Sea World for 6 hours only got me 7,000 steps on my new pedometer?

Decided to forgo any New Years Eve's festivities, and went to bed.

Woke up at 5 minutes after the beginning of the new year the porcelain god in the bathroom. Well, actually I was sitting on the porcelain throne with a bucket (the wastebasket) in my lap.

First the margaritas

Then the breakfast

Then the mexican food

Crawled back into bed, only to repeat the whole scenario every 20-30 minutes through the night.

Soon it was once an hour, and now I am pleased to report it's been three hours since any incidents.

I have consumed a bottle of water, a bottle of gatorade and six saltine crackers.

Think this could be the start of a new diet for 2009?

Hope your New Years Day started with much more fun than did mine.

Happy New Year!