Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday was a wonderful holiday for me on so many levels. Mom and Dad in from Florida, Jon joining us as a Dayton resident, Becky Ford in from Colorado and then Sue and Tom, Aunt Dorr, Tom's dad Bob and Bob's wife Jane. A traditional gathering from near and far. It was especially wonderful for me because I actually was able to go. Surgery 16 days ago and lots of hopes and wishes to be able to go. Being able to go was a little iffy from the beginning but particularly so after a grueling day Monday of doctoring, PT and recovery. The rehab PT on Tuesday gave me my marching orders to do nothing but ice my knee, exercise the proscribed number of times and relax and see. So I did just that and was able to go. Going was not so simple and required generous spirits on the side of my precious sister Sue and her husband Tom. They went out of their way to make me comfortable and welcome. For me going was like taking a baby - pillows, cooler with bags of frozen veggies for knee icing , meds and patience. I planted myself in the recliner and iced while the holiday activities unfolded.

My perch on the recliner was the perfect spot to watch all of the activities in the kitchen. It was very hard to sit there and see all of my favorite activities occurring without being in the middle, helping, advising and chatting and admiring. Sue and Tom and Mom and Dad took major leads in preparing the wonderful meal. Sue's meal is always traditional and it really touches the core of what I understand Thanksgiving to be. Yet like many dinners it is a compilation of traditions. The main meal is always pretty much that of the past. Sue does get wild and crazy with appetizers and desserts. So it is very fun and full of surprises. Appetizers were a delicious creamy bleu cheese dip with celery and onion served on crackers and a hot crab and artichoke dip with red peppers, cream and parmesan cheese baked and served with toasts. Oh those yummy chunks of crab were to die for.

The main part of the meal was a beautiful juicy turkey sliced by the engineer and beautifully displayed on the platter. Sides included mashed yukon gold potatoes with gravy, peas and onions, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, rolls and two kinds of stuffing. The sweet potatoes come from niece Becky. They are peeled and steeped in water and baking soda. After that they are drained and poached slowly in a brown sugar, butter and cinnamon syrup. They are so awesome. Each bite has butter and cinnamon. The flavor just permeates through the potatoes. So unlike sweet potato casserole where there are potatoes souffleed and covered with a glaze of nuts and brown sugar and butter. With that you eat through layers of flavors. These potatoes are simple and incredibly delicious.

Our family enjoys simple bread dressing baked in the bird. Tom's family grew up with stuffing balls. Balls of stuffing are scooped on to a cookie tray and baked to crispy goodness in the oven while the turkey rests. So you really have to savor stuffing both ways. Dessert was a cheesecake made by Sue and Tom together. Pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust topped with marshmallow creme glaze. It is so rich you have to have a very slim piece to savor. It is a sneaking up on you dessert - you take a bite and then another, each bite accruing flavor and sweetness and your tummy just leaps with joy at the last bite. This was as Lee described the best cheesecakes she ever ate.

That wonderful food combined with joy and laughter, sharing and stories was the perfect day - the Thanksgiving I dreamed about. We had calls from those not present wishing everyone well so we had more opportunities to share being family. My sister Sue is the person we call Miss Mom and tease her about her energy about the family. It's an energy we all share and treasure because it is what makes each occasion with our family so unique and special. Sue and Tom make their home a gathering place for all and welcome everyone with open hearts and warm spirits. Laughter overflows and loves bounces off the walls from hearts together. Sweet Becky Ford their daughter is a warm heart and spirit who is loving and joyful. They worked together to make a very special holiday for their family and we all say thank you to them from the bottom of our hearts.

I am including Sue's recipe for Bleu Cheese Dip. It is simple and delicious and is a great appetizer.

Bleu Cheese Dip with Celery and Onion

1 8 0z package of room temperature cream cheese
1 C crumbled bleu cheese
1 C sour cream
1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C finely chopped celery
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Combine chill 1 hour and serve with crackers or veggies.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catching Up

Way too long since I've blogged. Not that there haven't been themes and topics but I haven't been available. October is breast cancer awareness month and November is Knee month - well not for everybody just for me. On November 10th I had a total knee replacement. I am recovering from surgery and doing rehab. What I've learned about knee replacement surgery and recovery is that there is not a single path. There are multiple paths in recovery. Those paths are not always coordinated and interdependent. On the one path I have a new knee. The knee straightens and flexes and will allow me to have more mobility and comfort as I go about my days. I'll climb stairs, can walk on hikes and stand without discomfort. The other path is that my knee was opened, bone and joint sawed and removed and the prosthesis was hammered and glued into place. That path sounds like something out of a horror movie and therein lies the rub. When I had my gallbladder removed I rested and gained strength over two weeks and was back to work and normal routine in two weeks. Pretty simple as it all seemed to work so well together. With the knee, the new joint is in a cocoon waiting to erupt in usefulness. The only barrier is that the new knee has to break out of a shell of stiffness, swelling and pain. Do you know among knee patients OW is the most common word used in the lexicon of recovery. I do mean OWWW! So to help the butterfly knee emerge from its' strong cocoon there is PT and rehab. Rehab is a commitment to the future. A true opportunity to teach one the meaning of keeping your eyes on the prize. I am gritting my teeth and surreptitiously whining inside as I go through this. Well six weeks more I will probably be recovered and on my way back to life as a I knew it. I have missed all of the events of my normal life. I am so convinced that it just can't happen without me. Oh my delusions are huge. But I am getting better and it is something that doesn't happen alone so I am grateful.

Along the path I didn't blog about a number of things. I didn't blog the birthday of my precious 7 year old grandson Eli. I did complete his Frogs, Lizards and Reptiles of my quilt. I was rewarded with a picture by cell of a boy wrapped in the quilt like a burrito and I get reports that he sleeps in his snuggy quilt every night. He is a precious, precious boy with a very old soul and wit and intelligence that will light the future.

I missed blogging about the wedding of Matt and Halle. Matt is my nephew through Sue and Tom. He and Halle chose an intimate beach side wedding in California. Though many of us didn't go we were so joyed at their wedding. Matt and Halle are musicians and artists and very fun members of the family. Matt and Halle are an integral part of family times and we love Matt's stories about life in LALa land. They are two treasures who we all hope will share a long and happy life together.

I so missed blogging about my Mom's birthday and all that she means to me. She is awesome and ever her warm special self. She is genuinely loved by so many because of her warm smile, interest in connecting with others and true enjoyment of the family and social scene. Mimi loves her family and friends and we are all rewarded with her lovely grace and warmth. She is fun and lovely and treasured by her family. We have heard that there are other Mimi's but we always know ours is da bes!

I didn't blog about my brother-in-law Tom's birthday and what he means to me. Tom has been a part of our family for nearly 50 years. To me he is the brother I never had. He is joyful and has a wonderful hearty laugh. We are very different people but probably alike in the ways that really count. He listens to my stories of life with interest and humor and can add an observation that truly enhances my own perspective. He is one of my very favorite people because he relates to me as if I am fun, interesting, unique and playful. Plus he really likes me I can tell. I love Tom and his dear presence in my life. He is the kind of friend that makes you feel alive.

The day after my surgery was Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day is an important day for me because my Dad and my uncle are veterans. When Aunt Jimmie died this past summer we lost another veteran. I blogged about her many contributions to us and her own family. Her husband Uncle Jack and my Dad have long been two of my very important heroes for the wonderful people they are. Their love of country, sacrifice for others, and commitment to making life better for everyone and genuine valor is inspirational to me as I go about my life and my purpose. Thank you gentleman for all you are.

The last but not least event I missed blogging about was Jon's birthday. Jon came over to share an evening pre surgery and we had smoked Texas brisket, Lee's pinto beans and macaroni salad and beer. Jon requested no dessert so there was no traditional Mexican Chocolate cake. It was a fun evening with laughter and sharing. I blew it though when I forgot he hated hardboiled eggs and added some very fine minced hard boiled eggs to the macaroni salad. Poor Jon couldn't eat the salad. He has to be vigilant against hardboiled eggs lest they appear in food and shock his sensitive palate. Despite my teasing he does have a great palate and is one of my favorite appreciative eaters. He has even been known to share kitchen time as his Mama's sous chef. He is great at chopping despite no formal training. Jon is newly back in the Dayton area having a promotion. It is a huge treat to have him nearby. We've been able to have several dinners that have been so fun. He even came and brought pizza post surgery to tempt his Mama. What a great guy!

We talk a lot about comfort and what that means but recovery from surgery for me is the time I am having revelations about comfort. My family and friends have gone over board sharing meals, fruit, reading materials, treats, flowers, cards, calls and laughter. Sometimes comfort food is described as homey, plain fare. To me comfort food is so much more. The taste of love and care. The search for the right food to bring warmth and security. In lovingly prepared dishes the infrastrucure of the ties of love and support. It is awesome to experience and singular in its feeling. It is achingly beautiful to sore bones to feel such love and caring.

So as I catch you mid Thanksgiving preparations and gathering of your respective clans treasure the time you spend anticipating and working on that holiday meal. It's equally part of the fun and extends the joy of the special day. Take time to think of those near and far away. Those who we don't know who take care of our safety and security around the world. There are many people everywhere who share our hopes and dreams and work toward their being. Happy Thanksgiving each and every day to all of you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spaghetti Pie

It has been a long time since I posted but October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it is packed to the gills with activities and so little spare time. October is an eventful month even without breasts. Eli had his seventh birthday and Mimi had a birthday too but in the interests of family civility I will not share her age. I finished a frog, lizard and dragonfly quilt for Eli for his birthday. Made from batiks and adorned with appliqued critters it is quite cute. I received a lovely picture by email of Eli bundled in his quilt like a burrito. A boy burrito with a happy toothless grin I might add. Last summer Mimi and I investigated some quilt shops on our Michigan vacation. At one shop she found a very nice pine tree fabric with royal blue and white background and a complementary fabric. She chose a purse pattern that had three pockets with a sling handle and a wood button closure. I made the purse thinking of Mimi and all of the warm and wonderful things about her. I sent her the purse and I am waiting for a picture of Mimi sporting her new purse on her arm. She tells me changing purses is somewhat of an ordeal - a perspective I do not share. So I am waiting with toe tapping impatiently.

Our dear friends the Memas invited us to their lake home on Indian lake for Saturday and Sunday. It was just great to get away and have some time away from the house and our routine. The Memas' home is quite cozy and despite the high winds we had a great time in doors. I had to work Saturday morning so we arrived at lunch to see a pot of soup on the stove and a beautiful green salad. Lunch was pumpkin soup with a green salad with pecans and pears and bread. It was delicious. My task was to make dinner so I made a traditional pot roast with potatoes, onions, and carrots baked with the roast. I poured a lovely Austin lager over the meat to keep it moist as it roasted. The lager formed the base for the gravy which was really lovely. I quartered an acorn squash and mixed butter, brown sugar and rubbed sage together and put it in the cavity of the squash. The baked squash with the other vegetables and meat were well received. I made a pecan pie with a touch of dark rum for dessert. It too was appreciated. We chatted, played games, laughed and laughed. It was very therapeutic.

We were able to go because Jon served as caretaker to the canines. There aren't enough blessings for Jon for doing this. Doris woke him up at 5:30 a.m. to be fed. Dude objected a lot! Much dog barking and carrying on. I asked Jon to stay for dinner Sunday to say thank you and have some time just to hang out with him. For enticement and reward I made one of his favorite meals - spaghetti pie with salad, bread and dessert (pecan pie). This recipe combines spaghetti with a custard, two cheeses and sopressata. It's baked in a springform pan and served with marinara sauce. It is just too good. The recipe came from a fan of Martha Stewart. Personally I am not a fan of Martha but this recipe is delicious. Lee loves it too and it makes her very happy when she gets to eat it. It's a perfect fall meal and just the thing for a Sunday night.

Spaghetti Pie adapted from Eleanora Scarpetta

1 lb. spaghetti cooked and rinsed with cool water and thoroughly drained.
6 eggs beaten
3/4 C. cream
12 ounces spicy Sopressatta cut into 1/2 cubes
1 C. parmigiano regiano grated
4 C. Italian blend grated cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 C chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Spray a 10 " springform pan with Pam
Cut out two pieces of parchment to fit in the pan. Place one of the circles of parchment in the pan and spray with parchment.
Combine everything except the spaghetti in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the spaghetti and toss and stir until evenly mixed. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and cover with the second circle of parchment.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven about 45 minutes. The top should be brown and crusty and the spaghetti set. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the parchment. Trace a knife around the inside of the pan to release the contents. Undo and lift off the outside of the pan. Place a serving plate over the top of the spaghetti and turn the dish over. Remove the parchment and flip onto another serving plate.

Cut in wedges to serve and top with spoonfuls of marinara sauce.

This meal was just the nicest end to a wonderful weekend. The food was great but the highlight was the Memas and my sweet son. They are such good people to spend time with.