Tag Archives: cooking

Guacamole …

from the avocado up.

I know you can buy this already made but there is something nearly ethereal about cutting, peeling, squeezing and mixing that makes things taste better when it is homemade.

My fresh cilantro is all gone so I had to use dried, but other than that, everything was fresh.

Cooking, though I don’t do it very often anymore, is very relaxing to me.

And quite frankly, after the last couple of days, I could use a bit of relaxation.

Maybe the simple act of the manual labor of putting something together will thwart the sleepwalking. I have no desire to be wandering around again, outside, in the dark, in the middle of the night.

In wintertime, the streetlight wakes me up but in the summer, the trees block the light that wakes me up before I can leave the porch .  I am more vulnerable. 

It is what it is and I have not the power to change it.

So here is hoping that the simple act of making guacamole will help me stay in bed all night. I will take whatever dreams that fate throws my way, but I don’t want to go outside with the opossums, spiders, frogs and other critters … not while I’m sleeping, anyway.

Thanks, mom, for the perfectly ripe avocados.

Wielding a butcher knife on a favored cutting board with Mamaw’s potato masher makes me feel like I can do anything …

and in the kitchen, when I’ve a mind to, I can.

Do anything, that is. 

Everything’s gonna be alright, literally (sorry to my fellow word geeks … I simply couldn’t resist)












at all costs, be yourself and nobody else.

My ox was in the ditch …

in this case, my “Ox” was the looming chore of cleaning out the refrigerator.  I haven’t cooked in so long, it became commonplace to buy a gallon of milk, let it go bad, buy another gallon of milk and push the bad milk to the back of the fridge.

And so it went.  For weeks.  For months.  For years. For decades.  For centuries.  Ok, so maybe I’m embellishing a bit, but not much.

There were untold gallons of undrinkable milk, containers of unusable yogurt, rancid cottage cheese, a carton of eggs that Noah may have gathered on the Ark and a few things that I wasn’t able to identify.




All of the above.

This is an undertaking that has been needing, desperately, to be tackled for a long time.  A very long time.  I would feel hungry and think I might fix a bite to eat then open the refrigerator door and see that nothing had changed.  I would, again, find the task to be more daunting than I could wrap my mind around, close the door and settle for toast-chee crackers.

I performed the same ritual, again and again, with the same result.  I felt a bit guilty, but obviously not enough to actually get on with the task at hand.

Until now.

Today dawned rainy and gray and I found I had a yen to make some red sauce.  Not the “open a can and heat it up” kind, but the “from the tomatoes up” kind.  I was once very adept at homemade cooking and enjoyed it immensely.  I would like to do so again and didn’t want to smother this bright thought in my head.

Then I opened the refrigerator door.

This time, however, it wasn’t enough to settle for crackers.  I rolled up my sleeves, double bagged several industrial sized, toxic waste approved garbage bags and got to work.

It was an arduous and, as you can imagine, rather ugly scene.  I thought I was going to have to find a hired hand just to carry the heavy bags to the garbage truck, but a strong back is a terrible thing to waste.

After much scrubbing, rinsing, bleaching then scrubbing, rinsing and bleaching some more, I have found it to be a respectable appliance worthy of edible food.  It is mostly empty now, sporting only a few jars of condiments and some jalapeno peppers, but I intend to rectify that this week.

The freezer got a dose of scrubbing, too.  The sum of everything in my freezer equals half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a pack of peanut butter Oreos, a wedge of Pecorino Romano and a bag of broccoli.

But it’s clean.

With that unseemly chore completed, I was able to get on with the fun stuff.  The tomatoes are even now simmering, along with red wine, fresh basil from my porch garden, anchovies, a garlic clove and an onion that somehow survived the prolonged neglect.

I felt the familiar thrill of making the knife dance across the cutting board while avoiding my fingers and I’m pretty sure I started humming.  I didn’t have any fresh cilantro to put in it, but I will, for next time.

It’s too early yet for the scents to make the mouth water, but in a bit of while, it will smell like glory.  My “Ox” turned out to be a blessing and I am thankful to have cleared out the cobwebs, so to speak and taken something, even if it is only red sauce, back.


On this, the first day of 2013 …

After The Storm

I haven’t left the house other than to walk to my mom’s for some sausage balls and homemade chocolate chip cookies left over from last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration.  But not leaving the house on such a dreary, rainy, wonderful day doesn’t mean that I haven’t accomplished anything.  I did a lot of thinking.  I thought about taking my Christmas tree out today.  Since it was, however, so rainy, cold and dreary outside, I decided I could handle looking at the lights for one more day.  I’m going to miss that beautiful old tree when it’s gone, but nothing can go on forever and while I love the tree, I have missed the view out the window.

Besides thinking, though, I got many things in the house done.  General cleaning, straightening and taking stock of my pantry.  It seems that I have some baking soda, a few bottles of spices and a bag of flour.  Not conducive to cooking anything of any substance.  I’d like to try to get back into cooking, otherwise, I may have to break my cardinal rule and eat a hot pocket.

Besides coming to the conclusion that there is no truly edible food in my house, I’ve been getting my hiking gear oiled and cleaned, ready to get back to weekends in the mountains.  I am confident that when I see the Orthopedists in a couple of weeks, he will clear me to get back to the trails and hard places that I love to go.  I was complaining a few days ago about the belligerent 9-year old I had to wrestle into submission in order to obtain a flu swab, but I think he did me more good than harm.  I actually believe he helped put that pesky, out-of-place bone back where it belongs.  Guess I owe the brat a thank you.


I cannot even voice how much I miss nature, the mountains, the rocks and trees, the waterfalls, the arduous climbs and the smell of the earth in every season.  So far, I have missed Winter completely, but lucky for me, Winter really only officially began a few days ago.  I long for the bare branches of the trees as they stand sentry over a barren earth, biding their time until she blooms again, bringing forth life and a different kind of beauty.  She calls to me; Mother Nature, that is.  She calls to me as the light changes, shifting over the mountains, shadows forming and dissipating almost in the same moment.  I long for the adventure of what I will find at the top of the next hill, around the next turn, behind the thunderous sound of water falling for hundreds of feet.  I dream of standing alone with nothing but the glory of nature surrounding me and find myself nearly trembling with anticipation to get back to it.


While I have been out of commission, I have exercised at home, keeping my legs and thighs strong and ready for the hikes and climbs that I so dearly love.  Yes, in a couple of weeks, I think I will be able to stop those mind-numbingly boring, in-home routines, strap on my heavy backpack without feeling like my shoulder will detach itself from my person, grab my tripod and head out with my trusty Pentax to see what I’ve missed while I’ve been gone.  I wonder if  my favorite places have missed me as much as I’ve missed them.  I’d like to think so.


It’s a little like riding a bike …

Cooking.  Something that I love to do.  Something that I haven’t done more than a handful of times in the past two years.  When Jim died, the love of food that we shared caused a nearly cataclysmic reaction in my psyche.  Food itself repulsed me and I lived for nearly six months on toast-chee crackers and Nekot cookies.  I would make a grocery list and buy the ingredients to make a dish … then I would get them home, put them away and eventually, throw the stuff in the garbage after it had turned rotten in the fridge.  I would buy milk and sometimes open it and sometimes not, but it always ruined.  Bread molded before even a third of the loaf was gone.  Each of these things, in its own way, reminded me that there weren’t enough people in the house to keep the food from ruining.  I could lie and say that the thought that I could eat the food and stop being so weird never crossed my mind.  It did.  When I threw out food that I had let waste because for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to cook it, it crossed my mind.  When I fed nearly full loaves of bread to the dogs, it crossed my mind.  When I had to open the jug of milk to pour it down the drain, it crossed my mind.  But as quickly as it would cross my mind, I would put it aside to deal with later.  I spoke of this anomaly many times to my mother and sister.  The need to cook and the paralyzing inability to follow through.  A couple of times, I would make something or other and feel great, nearly high, from the accomplishment.  But the high was short-lived and it would be months before I cooked anything again.

Today, I turned a corner.  A real corner.  Not one that leads into another corner, but one that turns into a long straight road without obstacles.  I stopped at the store, came home, put up the groceries and then cooked supper.  It was not very good.  It was much, even for me, who eats jalapeno peppers out of the jar, too hot.  The pan seared spinach, though a beautiful visual compliment to the red tomatoes and beautifully browned chicken, was a bad idea.  All in all, it was pretty nasty, but it was mine and though it lacked in too many things to mention, it wasn’t burned.  It reminded me of when I tried a few years ago to ride a bike.  My sister and I must have ridden 100,000 miles when we were kids and I was hoping to get back into it.  I found that somewhere over the past few decades, my center of gravity has changed and balancing was no longer second nature.  Though I knew how to ride a bike, I had to make some adjustments in myself to make up for the way that I had changed over time.  But, it came back.  Not on the first try, but eventually, I was riding like I was ten years old.  Tonight taught me that I haven’t forgotten how to cook … I’m just rusty … and while the first attempt was a definite fail, I find myself thinking about how I can adjust the way I look at food to compensate for the changes that time and circumstance have made.  It’s a little like riding a bike.