Magic Carpet Ride

Amen, Amen, I say to you
This is the day the Lord has made
Rejoice and be glad
Join us onboard
The Intention Express
Consider this
Yoga Indra 
A magic carpet ride
Come, Come
Shanti, Shanti
Faith and Doubt
Will be your companions
The source will be
Your guide, this is
A sacred mystery
An ancient form
Of meditation
A spiritual guide
To become
More fully
What you are
Created to be
Don't fall
To sleep

poem

On Saturday I wore an old flannel shirt
Bought years ago
Black and Red
Bought probably at WalMart
I didn’t know
Better, underneath
I wore a Red T-shirt
Life is Good
A camera
Mountain range
On the shirt
Two favorite things
These are a few
Of my favorite things
A gift
From Susan
I made her a peach
And raspberry cake
And a bacon, mushroom
Spinach quiche
Life is good
She made bread

Breathe

Teacher spoke softly saying 
Breathe in
Through your nose
Breathe out
Through your mouth
Breathing in deeply
Helps me to center myself
Thoughts come and go
Like the clouds above
The urn, when breathing
Breathe, when praying
Pray, when looking
See, the birds 
Engraved on the urn
There too triangles
Circles and straight lines
Signs that are read 
Top to bottom
Bottom to top 
In the distance
Out the window
Old buildings
In need of repair 
Alludes to the thought
The Church can never be completed
Always, like us, in need
Of breath, of repair
We see a peacock
We know from our art 
History classes
It can be easy to ignore
Birds and peacocks 
As symbols or art
But writing stems 
From the pictorial
The peacock became a symbol of immortality in Christian art
The peacock serves as a reminder of the Resurrection and eternal life
The peacock is symbolic of re-growth and rejuvenation,
Royalty, respect, honor, and integrity
The peacock is also a symbol of beauty, love, and passion
In Egypt the peacock was linked to the worship of the sun god, Amon-Ra and associated with the all-seeing eye of Horus. To the Hindus, the peacock was associated with Hindra, the god of thunder who became a peacock endowed with one hundred eyes that enabled him to watch out for the demon Ravana
Peacocks are also symbolic in the Buddhist religion
Symbolic because they display their feathers by opening their tails they are associated with openness and purity, and their feathers are even used in Buddhist purification rituals
Breathe in
Breathe out
Teacher softly speaks 
This advice from Swami Buaji
Be kind
Be peaceful
Be tolerant
Begin the day with Love
Spend the day with Love
End the day with Love
This is the way to Source
Breathe

Good Advice

In the January/February issue of Poets & Writers the award-winning playwright, poet, and essayist, Sarah Ruhl, shares her reasons to keep writing.

“Sometimes I forget why I should keep writing. I hope you make a list of your own. Here is mine:

  • Write for God. The cave. The envelope.
  • Write for your mother. Your father. Your friend who is sick.
  • Write for the future. Write for the past. Write for the present, but sideways.
  • Write for the child who saw cruelty, and for those dispossessed, but sidways.
  • Write for your daughter. Write for your sone. If they don’t exist, write for the dream of them.
  • Write for your uncle to weep, for your aunt to laugh. For your babysitter to cover her face with recognition.
  • Write for the church you walked past with a sign that read: THEATER AT SACRAMENT. And you misread it as: THEATER AS SACRAMENT.
  • Write for the accountants whose eyes are too tired at night for numbers. For the farmers who grow your corn.
  • Write for your teachers. Write for every single hour they left off writing their own sentences so that they could read yours.
  • Write to thank the books you love.
  • Write for yourself.
  • Write for God. The cave. The envelope.

Sarah Ruhl teaches at the Yale School of Drama, and her most recent projects are the memoir Smile (Simon & Schuster, 2021), Love Poems in Quarantine (Copper Canyon, 2022); and a production of Becky Nurse of Salem by Lincoln Center Theater.

The featured photo I took this morning, January 1, 2023. Sunrise.

Thanksgiving and Overnight Pumpkin Spice French Toast

A family Thanksgiving tradition: we host our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren for breakfast, gift-giving, watching the Macy’s Parade and the dog show.

In Thanksgiving days past I have made Sushi, Mushroom Spinach Quiche, and Croque Monsieur Breakfast Casserole.

This year we enjoyed Overnight Pumpkin Spice French Toast. YUM!

Reading from The New York Times:

“You only need a few everyday ingredients like milk, bread and eggs — plus a heavy dose of your favorite pumpkin spice blend — to make this warming breakfast for a crowd. The whole thing is assembled the night before, so all you need to do when you wake up is a few finishing touches before you pop it in the oven. If you don’t have a favorite pumpkin spice blend, there is one at the bottom of this recipe for you to try. Don’t forget the maple syrup — and potentially some toasted nuts or fruit — to serve.”

Ingredients

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

~3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
~2 cups/480 milliliters whole milk
~4 large eggs
~¼ (packed) cup/50 grams light brown sugar
~4 teaspoons store-bought or homemade pumpkin spice blend (see Tip)
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~½ teaspoon fine salt
~1-pound enriched bread loaf, like challah or brioche, cut into ¾-inch-thick slices (We used Multigrain Bread from Costco.)
~Maple syrup
~Chopped toasted walnuts or pecans or fresh berries (optional)

Preparation

  1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch metal, glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, pumpkin spice blend, vanilla and salt.
  3. Dip each piece of bread in the milk mixture, then lay it in the prepared pan in slightly overlapping layers. Pour the remaining milk mixture over the top. Gently press the bread into the custard, then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  4. When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees, uncover the dish, and gently flip each piece of bread, one at a time, so the side that is more saturated with custard is on the top. Rearrange the slices decoratively, as needed, so the rounded edges of the slices are exposed. Dot the top with the 3 tablespoons butter and cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until lightly browned, slightly puffy in the center, and cooked through, 15 to 20 more minutes. Tent with foil if the top is browning too quickly.
  6. Let cool slightly before serving with maple syrup, and nuts or fruit, if desired. I put some homemade Granola on mine!

Tip

  • Make your own pumpkin spice blend by combining 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground allspice and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves. Makes about ¼ cup.

Photos from our celebration:

Thanksgiving Cheers; Prosecco and Chambord. Danielle and Bella. Emily practicing for The Nutcracker. Emily trying on her new dress. Freddy keeping his eye on me–making sure I am not drinking from the Prosecco bottle! Susan and Freddy. Matthew. Our Thanksgiving Dinner; Shetland Salmon with White wine, Lemon, Fennel and Endive, Mashed Potatoes with Fennel and Horseradish, Green Beans and Mushrooms. Me.

My Sous Chef Sue Serves Brunch

From baking to soap-making there is very little my Sous Chef Sue, my wife, cannot do.

Teacher. Reader. Giver. Lover. Designer. Gardener.

I am usually the cook in our home, busy in the kitchen making breakfast, lunch and dinner–or outside grilling salmon or steak or hamburgers, and she is the baker. (This thought reminds me of the song “Baking” by Aztec Two-Step (Their Homepage here.), who I saw perform at The Main Point (Other acts seen there listed below.) in Bryn Mawr, PA when I was a freshman at Villanova University. I was studying to be a teacher. I would have been a great teacher, or so I have been told, but I fell in love with Art History. My degree is in Art History and English from Manhattanville College. I have also been told I would have been a good minister, this after speaking frequently in church, but that story is for another time.)

My Sous Chef Sue made Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

Tarragon Chicken Salad

and Berry Cobbler

The first two from this great cookbook (Look for it and buy it; you won’t regret it.):

And the Cobbler from another great gardening and cookbook:

Here are the original recipes:

Bon Appetit!

Other artists seen at The Main Point include: Cat Stevens, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Bromberg, Livingston Taylor, and others. And larger acts at The Electric Factory–Dr. John, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, Johnny Winter and Procol Harum. I think I saw Black Sabbath–but it’s long ago and now a cloudy memory. And an even bigger venue–The Spectrum: Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Chicago.

Spicy Pork Stir Fry with Bok Choy

On a recent Sunday, I made a Pork Roast Smothered with Sauerkraut.

A few days later, I made Spicy Pork Fry with the leftover pork. So delicious.

Ingredients

-1 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), thinly sliced across the grain into 2-inch-long strips (I used the leftovers from a 3 pound pork roast; photo below.)
-1½ teaspoons cornstarch
-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-Kosher salt
-3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
-2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
-2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry (I used Mirin.)
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
-6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
-1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced crosswise
-8 small or 4 large heads baby bok choy, halved lengthwise, quartered if large, or 1 head larger bok choy, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
-1 cup sliced mushrooms (My addition.)
-Steamed white rice, chopped toasted cashews or peanuts, sesame seeds, and/or thinly sliced fresh chiles (for serving; optional)

Directions

Step 1

Toss pork, cornstarch, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a medium bowl. Stir vinegar, wine, and remaining 2 Tbsp. soy sauce in a small bowl. Have all your other ingredients prepped and ready to go (once you start cooking, there isn’t a stopping point and you’ll need them handy).

Step 2

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet (not nonstick) over high. When oil is shimmering and slides quickly across surface of pan, add scallions and ginger and cook, tossing, until scallions are browned and softened, about 2 minutes. Add bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing often, until leaves are bright green and wilted and white parts are crisp-tender, 4–6 minutes. Transfer bok choy mixture to another medium bowl.

Step 3

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over high. When oil is shimmering again, add pork mixture and arrange pieces in a single layer in skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until pork is browned and caramelized on first side, about 1 minute. Toss and continue to cook until pork is no longer pink and is cooked through, about a minute or two longer. Pour in wine mixture and bok choy mixture and cook, tossing briskly, until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and taste, then season with more salt, if desired. (Note: Because I used the leftover pork I quickly stir-fried it wok till crisp and then added bok choy and the other ingredients to wok.)

Step 4

Divide stir-fry among plates. Serve with rice alongside, if using. Sprinkle with desired toppings.

~ Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit.

I’m So Glad

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

~L.M. Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908.

Montgomery was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Nov. 30, 1874. She came to live at Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge Ontario, after her wedding with Rev. Ewen Macdonald on July 11, 1911. She had three children and wrote close to a dozen books while she was living in the Leaskdale Manse before the family moved to Norval, Ontario in 1926. She died in Toronto April 24, 1942 and was buried at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

I’m so glad. I’m glad I’m glad I’m glad.

Chile-Crisp Shrimp and Green Beans

The following recipe from Ali Slagle, a frequent contributor to The New York Times, is superb.

But first I ask are Crispy Shallots the new food trend? Lately, I can’t pick up a magazine or newspaper without reading about crispy shallots. I remember years ago Bran was the new food trend. And if my memory serves me well I was enjoying a blueberry muffin at my desk at Hearst Magazines and someone walked past my office, peaked in, and said “A blueberry muffin! How come you’re not having a bran muffin?” Egads. And not too long ago kale was king. I don’t really like kale except in this amazing soup. Do you remember the Roz Chast Kale Cartoon?

Ali Slagle writes:

This stir-fry is inspired by the taste and textures of chile crisp, that fiery condiment made by infusing oil with dried chiles, garlic and shallots. For this 20-minute recipe, make a quick version of the oil while the shrimp marinates in a combination of soy sauce, sugar, red-pepper flakes and cumin. Use the infused oil to cook the green beans (or asparagus), shrimp and peanuts, then serve topped with the fried shallots and garlic. It’s a deeply savory, spicy and satisfying dinner.

Ingredients

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large shallot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced through the root
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 ounces green beans or asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional) (I used mixed nuts.)

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, sugar, red-pepper flakes and cumin. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Set aside while you fry the shallots and garlic.
  2. 2Place a fine-mesh sieve over a heat-proof bowl next to the stove. In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil, shallot, garlic and cinnamon stick over medium-high. When the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the shallots, until golden brown, 5 to 9 minutes. (Lower the heat if the shallots are browning too quickly.) Drain through the sieve, catching the oil in the bowl below. Discard the cinnamon, season the fried shallots and garlic with salt, and set aside. (I didn’t do this. I spooned out the garlic and shallots and set aside on a paper towel–so I didn’t need to return the oil to the skillet.)
  3. Return the oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the green beans, season with salt and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Push the green beans to one side, then add the shrimp and the marinade, along with the peanuts (if using), and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Stir the green beans and shrimp to combine, then sprinkle with the fried shallots and garlic. Serve immediately, over rice or noodles, or in lettuce cups, if desired.

I served this with Tabouli made with orzo and not rice.

Cheers!

Who Are You?

"John The Baptist is one of my favorite people in scripture. He knew who he wasn't (I am not the Messiah) and he knew he was (I am a voice in the wilderness).

Every day I need to get clear in my soul who I am and who I am not.

Otherwise, I find myself living a life God never called me to.

~Rich Villodas
Rich is a Brooklyn-born Pastor and author of The Deeply Formed Life & Good.

Reading from my website:

Photography is my passion. Child of an Iowa farm girl and a Vaudeville tap-dancer, I believe I have been a gift from God. A gift for seeing beauty–-creating artful, remarkable, memorable photographs.

I specialize in portrait, nature, food, and documentary photography. I am also a published writer, art consultant, and gourmet cook. I love family get-togethers, and cats and dogs. And red wine. I live in Western Massachusetts with my wife, Susan, our dog, Freddy, a Mini Labradoodle.

Drawing on a degree in Art and English, inspired by Nature, a passion for telling stories and years working as a writer and photojournalist helps me to follow my heart–bringing a heightened sensitivity to all my photography: portraits, nature, documentary, food, interiors, furniture. I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.

Chicken and Shrimp Salad with Mandarin Oranges, Strawberries, and Wonton Strips

I made this salad years ago but without the shrimp. We are experiencing a heat wave here and a special salad, and this salad is very special, seemed like a great dinner choice on a hot day–and the serve to our special guests; Julia and Daryl before they return to Colorado.

FYI: Daryl is my son and Julia is his girlfriend and they just hot engaged–in Capri, Italy where they were vacationing.

This salad is a favorite for lunch at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa.

Ingredients:

4 (5-ounce) chicken breasts
About 1/2 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined. (I used shrimp from Biloxi Shrimp Co.)
1 tablespoon olive oil (if not using grill method)
2/3 cup wonton strips
4 cups mesclun
1/2 cup julienned carrots (I didn’t use carrots)

1/2 cup julienned carrots (I didn’t add carrots.)
1/2 cup cashews (I was so busy getting everything ready, I forgot to add these!)
2 cups mandarin oranges (I used canned.)
Honey sage vinaigrette (see below)
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat grill or oven to 350.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. If grilling (I didn’t because was nearly 100 degrees!), place on hot grill and cook on both sides for 5-6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If baking, heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Carefully add the chicken and sear on both side for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Place in oven and bake until internal temperature is 165. Remove from heat and chill. Stir fry shrimp in hot and oiled Wok and cooked till done–about 6 to 8 minutes.

Place wonton strips on a baking sheet and place in oven for 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and reserve at room temperature.

Place all other ingredients, except vinaigrette and wontons, in a small bowl. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of dressing and coat thoroughly.

Place on a plate or in a bowl. Slice chicken breasts and fan over the salad. Garnish with baked wontons.

Honey Sage Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/6 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Serves 4.

From ”Pathways To Plate, Destinations And Dishes From Delaware North.” This cookbook is filled with so many great recipes—and photographs!

More about Delaware North
.

We began our celebration with White Wine Spritzers with Mint from our garden.

We enjoyed bowls of Oven-roasted Gazpacho.

And Susan made a Strawberry Coconut Ice-Box Cake for dessert. YUM!