Grief & Treats From Mother Nature

wouldn't it be fun to pick cupcakes in the garden

wouldn’t it be fun to pick cupcakes in the garden

Good grief and nature go together like basil and tomatoes. There is no escaping it. As much as I thought I could take a break from grief there is so much about Mother Nature that keeps it right on the edge of my mind and in my heart. William was such an outdoorsman. As a kid, he loved everything about playing in the woods. His passions included hunting, fishing or just being with Mother Nature. Fond memories include playing eye-spy searching out critters hiding in the brush. He was happy.

in the Adirondaks: photo courtesy of the Van Sant family

Our new backyard (we have lived here 2 years now) brings William into my heart nearly every day. This week there are dancing blue birds, red tailed hawks, overhead, teaching their babies to fly and just this morning 4 young bucks butting heads—the latter brings an automatic, “Good Morning, William” from my lips. It makes me happy.

my yard: photo by Carol Walsh

my yard: photo by Carol Walsh

As always I am thankful to have these moments with William and to live in such a beautiful place. I am also thankful that the deer have kept their distance from my garden and that Mother Nature has provided us with an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables for me to play with in the kitchen.

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Take the zucchini (please take some) for instance. I only planted 2 seeds and I have more than I know what to do with. It’s been grilled, roasted, stuffed and pancaked, but my favorite new recipe are these little cakes. Enjoy!

Yucatan Squash Cakes

3 cups white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur brand)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch cayenne pepper, optional

1/2 cup cocoa powder

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup canola oil

¾ cup applesauce

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

3 cups shredded zucchini, lightly tamp it down into the cup

Preheat oven 350F. Lightly grease or line 2 ½ dozen muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then whisk until blended and set aside. 

 In mixing bowl, beat eggs on high speed with an electric mixer for 2−3 minutes gradually adding the sugar. Beat until mixture is pale yellow, thick and creamy. Add oil, applesauce and melted butter; beat until well mixed. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold gently by hand until dry ingredients are completely moistened and mixed. Stir in zucchini. Using a standard ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. 
Bake 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cupcake comes out clean. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar or add a chocolate glaze or frosting, if desired, but really not needed. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes

Birthday, Basil & Cheesecake, Oh, My!

 

Basil Infused Strawberry Cheesecake

Basil Infused Strawberry Cheesecake

It was a 11 years ago, on her 18th birthday, when I presented Caitlin with 18 hand-written love letters. It was an annual event for me to write my baby girl a letter on July 14th and stash it away in a “treasure box”. Now, as she was leaving the nest, it was time for my first-born to have them. Hopefully, seeing herself through a loving mother’s eyes and remembering all the goodness she had brought to our family would give her strength and wisdom as she set off on her own.

Cait & Sam graduate

Cait & Sam graduate

As parents, Bill and I could not have been more proud when Caitlin graduated with honors in economics from Wake Forest University. Wow!-we thought, money well-spent. She was on her way to her first big job in Philadelphia and the huge responsibility of seriously paying her own bills (woohoo!) Pretty sure there were times when she wished she was back in college, but she perseveres receiving promotion after promotion. Hello Ms Marketing Director.

marriage

And then came marriage and one of the happiest days of our lives. Hello, Mrs. Pemberton. Tomorrow she turns 29 and I realize I owe her way more than a love letter, but that is between me and her.

love my baby girl

love my baby girl

I will, however, share with you her favorite dessert which is cheesecake. Inspired by the plentiful basil in my garden and the juiciest, ripest strawberries ever this recipe is cause for celebration. Happy Birthday dear Caitlin!

cheesecake

Basil Infused Strawberry Cheesecake

1-cup heavy cream

8 fresh basil leaves, plus additional for garnish

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Crust

1 cup crushed chocolate cookie crumbs (18 Nabisco Chocolate Wafer cookies)

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 pound fresh strawberries (reserve 9 berries for garnish and puree the rest)

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

Heat oven to 325F. In a microwave safe measuring cup heat heavy cream on HIGH for 1 minute. Bruise basil leaves lightly with your fingers and submerge in hot cream; set aside to steep. Mix cookie crumbs, sugar and butter until crumbly; press over bottom of 9-inch spring-form pan; bake 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, strawberry puree (you should have about 1 cup), vanilla, ¼ cup of basil infused heavy cream (cover and refrigerate the remaining basil-cream mixture) and yogurt until well mixed. Pour batter into crust. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center is just set. Do not over bake. Cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator to chill completely. Run a knife around the pan sides. Remove sides of pan. Remove basil from chilled cream. Add powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixture to stiff peaks. Garnish top of cheesecake with basil-whipped cream, reserved strawberries and basil sprigs, if desired. Serves 12.

Tips:

#1 place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl of your food processor before securing the top to keep the top from getting dirty (since I hate washing the top)

puree the strawberries in a food processor

puree the strawberries in a food processor

#2 use a flat bottom cup to pat the crumb crust into place and the back of a spoon to smooth around the edge

easy crumb crust

easy crumb crust

 

 

 

Happy Food Memories & A Give Away

It is incredible when a simple scent or taste of something evokes a childhood memory. The moment is warm and wonderful and happy. Hopefully, the moment is also delicious as was the case for me when I made some Asian baby back ribs using Butcher Block’s Rib Sauce. Before we dip into the sauce let me give you a bit of history.

me and the kids making some food memories

me and the kids making some food memories

Growing up in a traditional Italian home my mom cooked nearly every night for all 7 of us. Having only raised two, I honestly can’t imagine how much work it was for her to cook for 5 children, 4 of them being very hungry boys. I am not certain she really liked to cook, so when she got a Friday or Saturday night off it was a total treat for her. And when Mama’s happy everybody is happy! Dining out in our household meant one of two things: Chrone’s for pizza or Chu Dynasty for Chinese.

 

Asian style ribs

Asian style ribs

My dad adored Asian food and I am certain my love for the same came from him. It certainly wasn’t any kind of food that was ever prepared in my mom’s kitchen, so going to Chu Dynasty on route 22 was always pure delight. Dad always ordered “family style” from column A and column B. Everything from wonton soup to lobster cantonese and always, always, always spareribs (or as we joked “spare-libs”). Those were his favorites. The ribs, as I recall, were always meaty, juicy and falling off the bone….and an odd shade of red. How did they make them?

love this stuff

love this stuff

Time to dip into the sauce. Many years ago I became familiar with the Butcher Block brand when I tried their teriyaki sauce. It is better than homemade with simple ingredients like sugar, soy sauce, water, fresh garlic and fresh ginger. It is delicious and convenient and has been the secret ingredient in a number of my recipe contests wins. Check out the Harley Davidson motorcycle I won using the sauce in a salad dressing. Trust me it is the sauce that is the winner.

me and my cherry apple red Harley

me and my cherry apple red Harley

So when Diane over at Butcher Block headquarters in Boston asked me to try their rib sauce and blog about it I was all in. I had never seen the rib sauce before and was curious. When I opened it up and caught a whiff I knew I had seen that shade of red before. It had Chinese BBQ spareribs written all over it. In fact, it is the original as noted on the jar and one bite of my simply prepared ribs brought me right back to those family dinners at Chu Dynasty. I would have loved to have been able to make these for my dad.

Butcher Block Rib Sauce

Butcher Block Rib Sauce

It only takes 4 simple ingredients.

Asian BBQ Ribs

Asian BBQ Ribs

Baby Back Ribs–as many slabs as you need (no trimming necessary)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Butcher Block Rib Sauce

Heat oven to 500F. Fill a roasting pan (I used my oven broiler pan) with 1/2-inch of water. Place a rack on the pan. Season ribs generously with salt and pepper; place on rack. Cover the ribs with heavy duty foil, forming a tent so the foil isn’t touching the ribs and seal the foil tightly around the edge of the pan. Place in hot oven for 1 hour. Cool in tented foil for 1 hour. Remove from pan, wrap in foil and chill until ready to grill. Grill ribs, over medium heat, turning and basting with rib sauce, until hot and glazed. Be careful as the meat will be falling off the bone….YUM!

Asian candied bacon

Asian candied bacon

Just for fun I also used the rib sauce to candy some bacon. All I did was dice 6 slices of bacon, cooked it until it was crisp (draining the grease as needed) and then added 1 tablespoon of rib sauce to the pan, stirring until the bacon was glazed. It was a big hit on top of these sliders which I also glazed with the rib sauce.

Asian Pork Sliders with Candied Bacon

Asian Pork Sliders with Candied Bacon

I hope I have inspired you today to make some food memories with your family and maybe even a recipe contest winner. If you would like to try any of the Butcher Block products you can order them on-line at http://www.butcherblocksauces.com or you can give them a call at 1-617-269-1105. I imagine if you are lucky enough to live in the Boston area you can pick them up in your local grocery store. And if you are feeling lucky then please leave a comment so I can enter you into today’s give away sponsored by Butcher Block. What fun it would be to win a prize pack of these delicious sauces. Good luck.

Freedom Isn’t Free

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My guess is that some of our overseas military are not having as much fun as we are today.  We are enjoying our freedom to eat and drink whatever we want. We can choose to jump in the pool or stretch out in a hammock. Or maybe we are fishing off the dock or burying our painted toes in the sand. Where ever we are or whatever we are doing we have our military to thank. These folks have a tough job and my plee to you today is to thank them.

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If you are thankful for your freedom then please consider sending a care package to a marine or sailor. My son was once part of Weapons Company. These guys are amazing and still in Afghanistan. Here is an address. Go fill a flat rate box with ramen and tuna and magazines and granola and whatever you think and can afford….include a love note from home. Thank you for the support.

Any Marine

Weapons Co 2nd PLT

1st Bn, 2D Marines

Unit 13995

FPO, AE 09510-3995

A Summer Break, Beets & Berries

berries & basil

summer berries and basil

We are just one week into summer and I am ready for a vacation. Not the travel kind, but the blog writing kind. This grief stuff takes a bit of a toll on a person and “write” now I just need happy thoughts. So, I know you won’t mind if, for just a little while, all we do is talk about good food and recipes. Ha–I bet you are raising your hands in the air yelling,  “Yipee!”

In the last couple of weeks my garden has brought me so much happiness and inspiration in the kitchen. For the first time ever I have been able to grow beets which inspired a most delicious roasted beet sandwich. Just look at these beauties all roasted and sweet.

 the fixin's for the beet sandwich

the fixin’s for the beet sandwich

If this idea tickles your fancy or you’re just more curious check out the full recipe here: http://healthy.betterrecipes.com/roasted-beet-smashed-avocado-feta-sandwich.html

Roasted Beet Sandwich

Roasted Beet Sandwich

In addition to the beets I am picking berries. Lots of berries. In fact, me and the birds are plucking 3 different kinds. The purple bird poop (yuck) all over the yard would indicate the birds prefer the mulberries over the strawberries and the “raspberry shortcake” brazel berries (thank goodness).  It has been such a delight to gather, raspberries, strawberries and mulberries and work them into different recipes. This one is perfect for the 4th of July.

Chocolate Vinegar, Berry & Basil Pie

Chocolate Vinegar, Berry & Basil Pie a la mode

Red, white and blue food. It’s what we do this time of year. It is the reason I grow borage. The borage plant has edible blue flowers that taste like cucumbers. They are the perfect garnish for that potato salad we all make with the red, white and blue potatoes, but sorry I went off on this borage tangent instead of talking about this pie.

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This pie is oddly delicious. I say “oddly” because the pie contains dark chocolate vinegar, fresh basil and black pepper. It is sweet and savory and well, oddly delicious. The dark chocolate vinegar is imported for Bella Gusta of West Hartford, CT  by the Veronica Foods Company of Oakland, CA. It was a gift from my sister in law, Erin. She handed it to me saying, “I know if anyone can figure out what to do with this, you can.” I like her confidence. And if you are interested check out: http://www.bellagustaoils.com

pie

Just one tip on baking berry pies (I have learned the hard way). Berry pies have to come to a bubbling frenzy before they are fully cooked and the thickening agent is able to gel the fruit. That way when you cut into the pie all the juice doesn’t go running all over the plate and then down your shirt. So forget the baking time because every batch of fruit is different and just watch for that bubbling happiness. You are welcome!

Chocolate Vinegar 3x Berry Pie

(Inspired by the famous Butter & Scotch Bakery in Brooklyn)

Pastry for 2 crust lattice pie

2 pounds of fresh berries (I used 1 pound of halved strawberries, ¾ pound mulberries and 1 pint of raspberries)

3 tablespoons chocolate vinegar

8 basil leaves, shredded (use Thai basil if you have it)

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

pinch of salt

Heat oven to 425F. Roll out half your pastry into a 12-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie plate leaving the dough that overhangs the pie plate in place. In large bowl, toss the berries with the vinegar and basil. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, black pepper and salt; sprinkle over the berries and toss again. Spoon into prepared pie crust. Roll out remaining dough into a 15-inch x 11-inch rectangle. Using a pizza wheel and a ruler, cut 1-inch strips and form the lattice top. Trim the excess lattice ends. Fold the bottom crust up and over the lattice strips and crimp. Place the pie on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until lattice is golden brown. Reduce the heat to 375F. Continue baking for 40 minutes or until juices are bubbling. Cool completely. Serves 8.

 

 

Good Days & Bacon Days

puffy pancakesI spent a significant part of my day yesterday creating this recipe for a contest only to realize I had missed the deadline. It has been that kind of week or should I say month. It is embarrassing to say, but there was also an episode of putting my shorts on backwards and not realizing it until many hours later and an episode of trying to get into a car in the parking lot that did not belong to little old me. Clearly, I am distracted.

William in the sunglasses

William in the dark sunglasses at Taft

Brain misfires like these make me feel like I am taking a few steps backwards. It is an upsurge in grief. I know why it is happening. It is June and there are lots of graduation parties going on. Some of my proudest moments in life were seeing my children graduate from high school and Caitlin from college. I so looked forward to William going to college, too.

Will & Cait at Wake Forest University

Will & Cait at Wake Forest University

I don’t know about you, but as a parent I marked my life by the events and accomplishments of my children.  From the time they took their first step, to getting a good report card, to making the team or not, graduating, getting married….all these things reinforced my role as a parent. I love nothing more than being a mom.

There are times I yearn for William. Truly, I am happy to see his friends graduate or getting engaged or having children, but at the same time it can be excruciating. I am growing up with a loss. I have a lot to learn, but I know I will survive these brief upsurges of grief. And you will, too.

ebelskiver

Now for the recipe. It is far from a misfire and rather far out of my comfort zone. Puffy little pancakes with caramel and bacon; the perfect balance of salty, sweet and savory. I think it is a winner.The ebelskiver pan can be yours from where else but Williams-Sonoma.

Salted Caramel-Bacon Ebelskivers (puffy pancakes)

6 slices thick cut apple wood smoked bacon

20 caramel candies, unwrapped*

¼ cup heavy cream

pinch of kosher salt

½ cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 egg, separated

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon melted butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 200F. Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel to drain; reserve bacon grease. Crumble bacon into bowl of a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. In small saucepan, over low heat, stir caramel candies, cream and salt until melted and smooth; keep warm. In small bowl, whisk flour, sugar and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk egg yolk, milk, butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients and ½ cup bacon into dry ingredients; blend well with a spoon. The batter will look lumpy. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3rd of egg white into batter to lighten it up. Fold remaining egg whites in until fully incorporated. Brush the wells of an ebelskiver pan lightly with the reserved bacon grease; place over medium-low heat. When the bacon grease is hot, spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each well. Working quickly, spoon ½ teaspoon of warm caramel into center of each pancake. Top each with another tablespoonful of batter. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the bottom of the pancakes are golden brown and crisp. Using two wooden skewers or chopsticks, turn the pancakes and cook for 3 more minutes or until golden brown. Transfer pancakes to an oven-safe platter and keep warm in oven while making the second batch. Arrange pancakes on platter. Drizzle with some warm caramel and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon bacon. Serve passing remaining caramel sauce. Makes 14 ebelskivers.

*note: ½ cup of high quality prepared caramel sauce may be substituted for this homemade sauce

 

 

Happy Father’s Day Pizza Mattina

pizza mattina

pizza mattina

Some say my parents were the original recyclers. Nothing ever went to waste and when it came to food it meant preparing leftover spaghetti into a tasty frittata and vegetables into savory soups and stews. Much to my mother’s dismay my dad recycled day old Italian bread into bread crumbs sailing bits of hard bread all over the kitchen as the crusts pinged off the old box grater. He made a mean panzanella with that same old bread back in the day before this bread salad was ever cool and trendy.

Of all his delicious dishes, it is the memory of his homemade pizza that has me salivating. When the breadboard (handmade by his father) came out I knew we were all in for a treat. My dad, dusted with flour, gave the task of mashing the leftover baked potato to me. The “recycled” potato was the secret to making his yeasty dough bake up crisp and delicious on the outside and tender on the inside. I am among the few who know the secret of the potato. All were welcome to the table for pizza, but if you could not make it my dad would deliver.

My dad in Sicily

My dad in Sicily

My dad died at the ripe old age of 86. He was tired and ready to go. He had worked hard, lived the American dream and was proud of the business and family he had built. As an insulin dependant diabetic he pretty much defied the odds of living such a long and healthy life, but all along the way I felt like he was preparing me for the day he would eventually go. As I watched him push his insulin needle, yet, another time, through his clothing into his body I would scream in horror…..he would calmly respond, “What? You want me to live forever?” He was a character to say the least.

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my dad with young Will & Cait

I miss my dad, but I resolved my grief within a day of his death. My dad’s passing, unlike my son, was the natural order of things. My dad was done and ready to go. He went peacefully into the night and I was prepared for it. Just a completely different experience.

Happy Father’s Day to my biggest cheerleader. You continue to inspire me to “zig instead of zag”. Inspired by you and your name I remember how proud you were when a version of  this recipe won an award from King Arthur Flour.

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Sweet Pizza Mattina

2 cups King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat flour

1 cup King Arthur Flour Unbleached Flour

1 russett potato, roasted, peeled, grated

1- tablespoon sugar

1- teaspoon salt

1 (2 ¼ tsp.) packet instant dry yeast (quick-rise)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ¼ – cups lukewarm water

2 tablespoons butter

1 baking apple, peeled, cored, chopped

1/3- cup dried sweetened cranberries

1/3- cup orange marmalade

½ cup packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Combine flours, potato , sugar, salt, yeast, olive oil and water in a stand mixer. Mix and knead about 5 minutes or until a soft, smooth dough ball forms. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 ½ hours or place in refrigerator and let rise overnight. Just before the dough rising time is up heat oven to 425F. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples, cranberries and orange marmalade; cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbly and apples are just tender.   Gently punch down dough. On a lightly buttered baking sheet, press down into a 9-inch x 12-inch rectangle. Use your fingers to gently dimple the dough all over. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch rim around the edge. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Slice into wedges. Serves 8.

 

 

 

A Father’s Grief & Sunday Brunch

Father's Day Brunch

Father’s Day Brunch

Recently, I was asked if I thought there were gender differences in the way one grieves? Honestly, I have not delved into the subject and I am no expert on the matter. I can say, however, from experience that my husband and I certainly grieve differently. Turns out, I am a sharer–as if you didn’t know that already. My husband, on the other hand, is not. He bottles in his sadness and then when it gets to be too much cries alone. He prefers it that way and I know to give him his space.

Proud dad and son

Proud dad and son

He mourns alone, too. There are things and places that are special to a father and son. Hunting and fishing were activities that they enjoyed together. Scattering a bit of William’s ashes in the forest or at the edge of a trout stream was not an unusual thing for Bill to do on his own. Nor was I surprised to discover that he had left out a small camping flashlight, “in case William needs light to find his way back to us”. That’s Bill’s version of stepping outside himself and I love him for it. He knows he is not alone, but there are just things he needs to do alone and that is OK.

hunting

Gender differences or people differences? Not sure that it matters as long as we all are putting one foot in front of the other in any way we can. Next Sunday is Father’s Day. If you have lost a child you may feel a little upsurge in your grief. It’s normal.

 Today’s recipe is meant to offer some comfort. Dress it up with a side salad and some fresh fruit for a complete brunch menu sure to please your favorite father.

unbaked filled crepe cups

Bacon & Egg Scallion Crepe Cups

Crepes

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

pinch salt

2 eggs

1 tablespoons melted butter

1 scallion, chopped

Just Baked

Just Baked

 

Filling

12 (1-inch) squares smoked gouda or brie cheese

8 strips cooked crumbled bacon

6 eggs

1 ¼ cups milk

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

Combine all crepe ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth. Let crepe batter stand for 15 minutes. On a lightly greased crepe pan or skillet, over medium heat, swirl 2 tablespoons of batter (for each crepe) forming a 6-inch circle. Cook about 1 minute or until crepe edges look dry. Flip and cook another 30 seconds. Transfer crepe to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter until you have 12 crepes total. Cut each crepe into an even 5-inch round using a pastry cutter or…(I used the top of a jar as a template and just cut around it with a knife). Heat oven 375F. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray. Press 1 crepe into each cup ruffling edges to fit. Place 1 square of cheese in the bottom of each crepe. Sprinkle with half the bacon. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over filling to just below the rim of the muffin cup. Sprinkle with remaining bacon. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until eggs are just set. Cool slightly. With the edge of a knife carefully loosen crepe cups from muffin tins and lift out with a spoon. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with green onions. Serves 6.

 

The Challenge & Lemon Cookies

lemon cookie

lemon cookies

If you are following this blog you are either grieving or mourning or both or know someone who is. What? Grieving and mourning aren’t they the same thing? In a nutshell, no they are not. Today’s challenge is to understand that grieving and mourning are different. They are two separate experiences. If you understand the distinction you can be a catalyst to healing. That’s a good thing.

heart

 

Let’s start with grief. Grief is an internal experience. It is one’s feelings about the loss. It is about natural reactions to pain and one’s private protest to the assault. It’s one’s wish to undo it and have it not be true. Grief is often accompanied by keeping a stiff upper lip. It’s not looking weak. It’s carrying on, but in a kind of isolation. The griever may look OK on the outside, but on the inside is a lonely turmoil.

 

Mourning, on the other hand, is grief gone public. It’s wading through the territory of loss and pain surrounded by supportive people. It is active work of recognizing the loss and how to change and adapt to it. Different people mourn in different ways, but essentially it is expressing your feelings or doing something outside yourself.

 

The truth is that many people grieve, but they don’t mourn. Take the challenge. Be active in your grief. Step outside yourself. Share your feelings and celebrate yourself and your loved one. And if you know someone who has suffered a loss encourage them to mourn and be the catalyst to healing. Take the challenge.

afghanistan

Recently, my neighbor asked if I was up for a challenge. Apparently, the local bakery refused to share their recipe for her favorite lemon cookie and she was having trouble trying to duplicate it. Always up for a challenge I got busy in the kitchen. Luckily, I already had my winning lemon cookie recipe from a Mrs. Field’s Cookie contest to use as a base. With a tweak here and there I came up with a pretty good replica—at least that is how my neighbor called it.

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mine on the left and bakery on the right

mine on the left and bakery on the right

Mine are more crispy and more lemony than the bakery version. Both are good.

Lemon Drop Cookies

 2-½ cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1-cup sugar

2 egg yolks

Grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon extract

Heat oven 350F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, lemon zest, juice and extract. Add dry ingredients; blend well. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 16 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Transfer cookies to cooling rack. Makes 4 dozen.

Memorial Day

Will:Mom1 The real meaning of Memorial Day hasn’t gotten lost in the 3 day weekend. While many will celebrate a day off with a picnic, a 5k race or a family gathering others will do something quite different. They will skip the red, white and blue food, the decorations and the hoopla for a time of remembrance.

good old days at the lake

Memorial Day for many Americans means taking a moment of silence for a fallen hero or maybe placing a wreath on a grave. It’s also a time for thanking a veteran for his/her service or honoring our military by attending a parade. Yes, raise and wave an American flag and remember your freedom isn’t free.

Thank a marine

Thank a marine and his mom.

Memorial Day was created as an occasion to honor those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedom. It is our opportunity to stop and give thanks for the many who have died protecting that freedom. It is also a time to reflect on how our veterans are loved and cared for when they come home. Do all you can to insure they get what they need.