Small things, great things, great love

rose

It is hard to believe.  September has arrived.  It came in rainy yesterday here in my little corner of North Carolina. Hurricane season. My thoughts continue to be with the people in Texas who lost family, pets, and all of their worldly belongings. Stuff is stuff and can be replaced, but some of the stuff has sentimental value and losing it can be traumatic. And it always seems that the ones who can’t afford to lose it all, often do. With no insurance or savings accounts to help replace the stuff or even enough to find a dry place to sleep. Heartbreaking circumstances. During Harvey’s devastation, I had a small personal tie to it through Son #2’s GF. I texted her daily (and confessed to being a worrier) to get updates on her family and friends in Houston.

Bravelets, a company that sells jewelry, mostly bracelets, and donates a portion of the profits to charity, has a Texas bracelet and necklace for sale with 100% of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross Relief Fund for Hurricane Harvey victims. There will be scammers out there, I am sure there already are, but the Red Cross does good work.

bravelet

This morning during our therapy session (AKA our morning 3-mile walk), the BFF told me about a great idea I want to share.  Undies for Everyone.  This was posted on their Facebook page just a few minutes ago–

Due to your overwhelming generosity from all over the world, we distributed over 30,000 pairs of underwear today alone to Hurricane Harvey families in need! As we receive shipments, we will continue to provide new underwear to survivors of the hurricane all over South Texas.

Nice, clean underwear is something quite a few of us don’t have to think about, right? We take it for granted. I am pretty sure that Son #1 and Son #2 dashed out to Target or Walmart to get new ones more than once when they had no clean ones.

I think that it’s now time for a What Am I Reading update. I haven’t done this in a while and I have indeed been reading. Every day. Usually for an hour or two before I fall asleep. Here’s what is on my bedside table right now.

Currently reading-

Mothering Addiction: A parent’s story of heartache, healing and keeping the door open by Lynda Harrison Hatcher

The BFF is a college friend of Ms. Hatcher. She was even a bridesmaid in what appeared to be the perfect wedding of the perfect couple. As those of us who have lived long enough know, perfect doesn’t exist and Ms. Hatcher takes us through what it is really like to be the mother of a drug addict. Her perfect life and marriage crumbles. I can identify, albeit in a small way compared to the author, as the aunt of an addict who is currently sitting in jail, headed for a 5 year prison term after a plea bargain. I went with Mama Mildred to visit him this summer. Talking on a phone to a loved one through plexiglass was only a movie scene in my mind prior to this visit. Mama and Moo go faithfully every Saturday. There is a line in the book where either the author or one of the members of her “Book Club” (really a support group of mothers of addicts) says that at least she knows where her child is when he/she is in prison/jail. Mama said the exact same thing. I can’t send care packages, only books shipped directly from Amazon. I highly recommend this book. With the drug epidemic in our country, most of us are touched by addiction in some way. Addiction is difficult to understand. As the child of an alcoholic, I have grappled with understanding it my entire life.

Waiting in the wings-

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I swore to myself that I was not going to read this one. I can be a bit touchy by the label hillbilly with my background as a proud child of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. I get tired of Deliverance jokes and those who whistle the tune for me. I do not enjoy comments made about those people. When you choose to make holier-than-thou remarks about dumb inbred hillbillies, you are talking about my people and I do not like it. I recently read a review of this book and had decided not to read it, but it was a summer reading choice for teachers at my school. After hearing about the discussion some of the readers had, I borrowed it from one of my colleagues. I read the first few pages and have decided to give it a go. I am still not sure that I will appreciate the memoir of a 30 something who did not grow up in the mountains, but my mind may be a bit more open now.

Recently finished-

Dimestore by Lee Smith

I have been a huge Lee Smith fan for many years. She writes with the voice of a Southern Appalachian woman. She is a Virginian, hailing from Grundy and this is her memoir. How she grew up, the demons her parents faced, and how she found that voice so many of us love. I have met Ms. Lee and attended more that one of her readings. Her voice reminds me of Arles Lucy, another Virginian. (I wish you could hear Arles Lucy say that word. It sounds as sweet as honey tastes.)

Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell.

I have read quite a few books about French artists, trying to see them as real people, not just masterpieces. Even after reading this one, it is hard to wrap my head around Claude Monet as a dirt poor, struggling artist trying to support his family and sell his work, surrounded by Bazille, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Manet, mentored by Boudin. This centers on his relationship with his first wife, Camille Doncieux, a woman about whom little is really known. As we all know, Monet lives long enough to see his work appreciated and he is able to live comfortably in his home and gardens at Giverny. This haunting painting of Camille on her deathbed is part of the story.

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Image: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/events/exhibitions/archives/archives.html?zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1[showUid]=99997&cHash=398d90108b

I love the Musée d’Orsay and visit it almost every time I am in Paris. I want to come back as an artist in my next life.  Or a French cat.

Murder in Saint Germain by Cara Black

Probably my favorite series, the 17th book takes place in a neighborhood I have recently been roaming around in as much as possible when in Paris. I love Aimée and have watched her struggle with love on all fronts, from being deserted by her mother, to losing her father in an explosion to her relationship with her godfather to the bad boys she chooses as boyfriends. She gets herself in hot water in a different neighborhood in each book.  Keep them coming, Cara. S’il vous plaît.

Play Dead by Harlan Coben

Several years ago, I fell instantly in love with Coben’s character Myron Bolitar, a former Duke basketball player drafted by the Boston Celtics. Bolitar blows out his knee, has to give up his hoops career and becomes a detective. Play Dead isn’t a Bolitar novel, but it is a slam dunk. (Clever, n’est-ce pas?) Basketball is front and center, with a star Celtic and a super model as the main characters. I couldn’t put it down. Lots of twists and turns and an ending that I didn’t see coming. M. Coben is very popular with my Frenchies. One of his books, Tell No One, was made into a movie in France, Ne le dis à personne. I even saw Coben interviewed on French TV once a few years back! (He had a translator.)

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

If you’ve read any of his novels, then you know that his stories are good escapes. And hard to put down, at least for me.  This one takes place in Wilmington, NC and revolves around a wealthy reformed bad boy and the successful daughter of Mexican immigrants who own a local restaurant. Some bad guys are out there and threaten their hard found happiness.

The One Thing More by Anne Perry

This novel is set in France in the time of Louis XVI with his execution on the horizon. There are those calling for his head and a few others who think that worse will happen if they do indeed send Louis to the guillotine. Célie, the main character, gets brought into the secretive fight to save the king. I thoroughly enjoyed this work of historical fiction, my favorite genre.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This is the best book I have read in a long time, maybe ever. I gave a copy of it Mama Mildred for either her birthday or Christmas last year (who just this morning tried to tell me that she thinks she read it– not believing she really did, she probably lent it to someone or someone “borrowed” it)

From Picoult’s website–

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

As I was reading this book, I attended a workshop on racial equity here in Durham which coincidentally was held on the morning of the white supremacy march in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Groundwater- Intro to Race Equity workshop was sponsored by the Racial Equity Institute of Greensboro. I fully intend to take another of their workshops to learn more about how to be a part of the solution.

Picoult is an amazing writer. She takes real events and turns them into stories told from all sides, even if you do not really want to know what white supremacists think and how they recruit new members. At one point, I thought that I would not be able to finish the book because of the couple’s hatred based solely on the color of Ruth’s skin. Ruth has done everything “right” in her life and is working hard to provide for her son and teach him that the world is fair and the color of his skin doesn’t matter. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Here you can find an excerpt and also Jodi’s story of how the idea of the book came about. The title of the book comes from a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” 

It also reminds me of a Mother Teresa quote:

“There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.”

I have read other books, but I will end with that one. I hope that Mama Mildred finds her copy. If she doesn’t, she will probably get a new copy for her birthday this year.

Today I plan to make a new recipe, one that I’ve been thinking about for a while.  I’ve been thinking about it since I ate this dish at Luna Rotisserie in downtown Durham. Every time I go there I promise myself I am going to try something new, but, no. I cannot resist the sides– black beans and coconut rice, spicy bacon collards, pan-roasted succotash with smoked bacon and my favorite…pimento hominy “mac and cheese.” There is no “mac” in this dish nor does there need to be. I ate a lot of hominy growing up, but not once did it occur to me that you could add cheese to it and bake it. I wonder why. I have found a recipe and am off to the grocery store to get some hominy now.  Back in a bit. Oh! But first… do you know what hominy is? Do we only eat it in the South? Just in case, here you go– basically, it is corn soaked in lye. It turns white and soft and plump. My Granny used to make her own. If you want the long, drawn out, actual scientific explanation, click here.  It is also ground up to make grits, another thing we love in the South. Now I’ve made myself really hungry.

I really am going to the grocery store! See you soon.

Okay, back from Food Lion.  I cheated. My favorite brand of ready-made pimento cheese was sitting there waiting for me… with bacon already in it, no less.

pimento cheese.jpg

 

Baked Pimento Cheese Hominy with Soul

by The Nutty Vegetarian at food52.com

4-6 servings

(I apologize to the NV in advance– I plan to put bacon in mine…)

8 ounces Cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I only use Duke’s)

4 ounces Pimentos, diced into small bits

2- 15.5 ounce cans of Hominy, cooked

Crisply fried bacon

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter an ovenproof baking dish.
  2. To make the pimento cheese, combine the shredded cheddar, mayo and pimentos in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste and gently mix in the hominy.
  4. If adding the bacon, crumble it up and mix it in with the hominy and/or sprinkle some on top.
  5. Spoon into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the top is browned.

baked hominy

 

Bon appétit, mes amis!  Keep reading good books and serving up good food to your family and friends.

 

 

 

Les photos de Fanny

fanny shoes

I would like for you to meet my French sister, Fanny.  We have been friends since we were introduced by Olivier in… let’s see, March 2010 (thank you, Google photos!). Fanny was Olivier’s son’s English teacher at the collège (middle school in France) in Villeneueve-lez-Avignon. Olivier and I became friends through a website called French in New York. Fanny came to stay with me here in Durham when we began our student exchange in 2011. Back then, I wrote about having Frenchies in my kitchen.  Olivier came along to help with the trip as well.

This morning, I started thinking about Fanny and missing her. So, I decided to ask her if I could use some of her photos in a post today. And if she would give me a new recipe. I love technology because I can instantly be in touch with her across the 4,268 miles between us.

durham-pujaut

(merci, Google)

Fanny is a very talented Française.  She is an amazing cook- we have this dream of writing a cookbook together as La Brune et la Blonde. It would require me living there through the different seasons so that we could visit the local marchés, cook, photograph and write down her recipes. Not what I would consider a problem.

Fanny is also an excellent photographer. She has an “eye” for beauty, as we say en anglais.  C’est la même expression en français, madame? She gave me permission to post photos. So, let’s go to the south of France, shall we?

First, chez Fanny. Pull up a chair and sit on the patio with Cookie.

Cookie

Sunset? Le couché du soleil?

More photos du chat? Pourquoi pas?
Lavender from her garden just for moi.
lavender
Cicada anyone?  These critters are not easy to find. They make quite a racket in Provence, but it’s hard to actually spot one. (And as I write this in my living room, I can hear the cicadas singing in the trees behind my house. It must be our “year” for them.)
cicada
Un beau papillon
butterfly
Now, let’s follow those shoes to Roussillon, the land of red dirt.
rousillon sign
This summer, she also went to Sète, a beach town I actually visited my first time in France, in 1978. Wow. Le temps passe vite… I remember eating eel in a spicy sauce the color of that dirt- la rouille à la sétoise it was called.  Rust from Sète. I didn’t photograph my food back in those days, the days of cameras, film and developing the pictures at the drugstore or mailing them off.
Fanny sent a photo of one of my favorite dishes, moules-frites. Merci, mon amie.  J’ai tellement faim.
moules
canal de sete sign
boats
Now, how about a little trip to the Camargue, a place that Fanny and I love. Oh! But first let’s stop by the Pont Van Gogh, as it in known around Arles. Vincent painted it in 1888.
pont van gogh
Then on to the white horses and pink flamingoes.
horses camargue
flamingoes
bird tracks in sand
camargue
Before we return to Chez Fanny, here are a few more of her photos.
And now, back to her lovely jardin at night. She recently hosted her daughter’s wedding here.  I so wish I could have been there. Félicitations, A et B! Happy New Year! (I haven’t forgotten.)
jardin la nuit
What a lovely day spent traipsing around with those red Converse shoes.
quelle belle journée
Now, for my new recipe à la Fanny.
 In her words–
Cet été j’ai créé un gratin de pommes de terre, légumes et poisson, ma foi délicieux.
This summer I created a baked dish of potatoes, vegetables and fish, my goodness delicious.
vegs
I am about to find out because it is baking in my oven this very minute.
Baked fish with potatoes and summer vegetables
serves 3
4 pommes de terre, épluchées et coupées en rondelles 
4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 oignon
1 onion, minced
1 courgette
1 zucchini, sliced
1 fenouil
1 fennel, cut in 4 pieces (I couldn’t find this so I substituted dried fennel)
1 citron jaune
1 lemon, sliced
1 tomate
1 tomato, sliced
3 morceaux de poisson blanc type cabillaud
3 pieces of white fish, such as cod (had to google it… have forgotten my fish words)
Huile d’olive
Olive oil
Sel et poivre
Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Dans un plat à gratin profond tu mets une couche de patates, sel, poivre, l’oignon émincé et le fenouil coupé en 4, au four jusqu’à 3/4 cuisson à 200 degrés celcius (fais le calcul en Fahrenheit 😂) en couvrant de papier alu
In a deep baking dish, layer potatoes, salt, pepper, the minced onion and the fennel. Place in oven, preheated to 400˚F (calculate that – laughing face), covering with aluminum foil. Bake until about 3/4 done (I figured about 15 minutes).
Puis rondelles tomate, courgette, citron, sel poivre et huile d’olives et poisson on top. Re four avec toujours papier.
Then add slices of tomato, zucchini, lemon, salt, pepper, olive oil and fish on top. Cover with the aluminum and put back in the oven.  (About 10 minutes this time)
fish
Quand c’est presque cuit tu enlèves papier pour faire un peu dorer
Tu peux rajouter un filet d’huile si trop sec.
When it is almost done, remove the aluminum foil so that it will brown a bit. Add a few drops of olive oil if it is too dry. (I left it in for about 15 more minutes.)
Et tu sers avec un blanc bien frais! (Il y en a un nouveau à la Cave de Pujaut just fine!)
Serve with a nice chilled white wine! (There is a new one at the wine shop in Pujaut that is… just fine!)  She is teasing me again. Shame on you, Fanny. (Only kidding- I wouldn’t have it any other way!)
ferme
La Vieille Ferme is from the Southern Rhône Valley.  That works.
fini
Et voilà. À table!
Bon appétit!  Merci, Fanny.  Je t’embrasse très fort et je te dis à bientôt (j’espère). Keep up with your friends. It is so easy these days.

Summer to-do list

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I am sort of a list maker.  Not that I always can find the list.  Or that I take it out and look at it. Or that I actually cross off everything more than two items. But I feel as if I have accomplished something just by writing the to-dos on a notepad. Mary Kay consultants are encouraged to make a Six Most Important Things list every day.  Maybe six is a manageable number?

6 most important

(photo: https://www.pinterest.com/thepinkbubbleco/)

What’s on my to-do list for tomorrow?

  1. Wake up early.
  2. Go to Responsive Classroom workshop.
  3. Read.
  4. Go to bed.

That’s all I know for sure. What’s on my hope-to-do list?

  1. See my granddaughter. (Maybe read her a story- she loves this now!)
  2. Have dinner with a couple of friends.
  3. Write.

Wow.  That’s seven things! Go me.

I guess I should think about my summer to-do list. In no particular order:

  1. Read my school summer reading book,  Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
  2. Go to the dentist (appointment made).
  3. Hit at least 10,000 steps on the Fitbit at least four days a week (maybe five?). This means lacing up the shoes and walking in the morning.
  4. Spend a week at the beach with my family.
  5. Take an on-line writing course.
  6. Try not to worry so much.
  7. Visit Chatham Hill Winery.  (I worked here part-time before The Sabbatical. I wrote an article about NC wines and Chatham Hill for the Durham Herald newspaper.)
  8. Try some new recipes.
  9. Go to the Durham Farmers’ Market at Central Park regularly.
  10. Blog as often as possible, but at least twice a week (should I make a schedule?).
  11. Work on my curriculum for the 2017-18 school year. Read the book I was given on curriculum design. (I think it is currently upstairs? Yep. Found it.) Keys to Curriculum Mapping: Strategies and Tools to Make it Work by Susan Udelhofen. We will be working on our curriculum map next year at school. Hello, Rubicon.
  12. Have lunch with friends at restaurants around town I haven’t tried yet.
  13. Read some books I want to read. (Stay tuned for an update on my reading list soon.)
  14. Write to my nephew once a week.  Send him some books.
  15. Eat as healthy as possible.

Guess we will see how many I accomplish! At our closing faculty meeting, some silly person commented that we had 72 days until school starts back.  And we now working on week 2. But I will not worry about that.  See, I am trying. I will look at photos like these of my Darling Granddaughter:

kennedyon tummy

She can now roll over.  In the night, she was babbling and when her parents got up to check on her, this is what they found. Photo 1:  “Oops. They caught me.”  Photo 2: It’s okay. I’m cute and how can they possibly be mad? I’ve learned a new trick.” Adorable, right?

I found a recipe for Tomato Pie and gave it a try over the weekend.  Not perfect, but pretty darned good.  Especially the second night. I put pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, grated more cheese on them, warmed them in a 375˚F oven for 10 minutes, then under the broiler set to high for about 4 minutes. It’s better when it looks as if it has almost baked too long.

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Biscuit Crust (recipe from King Arthur Flour website)

To make the pie “crust” skip step 4 and go to 5. Do not cut.  Pat the dough into a rectangle on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Do not pre-bake.  Set aside.

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste* (I used only 1 tablespoon)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons butter or shortening (I used 6)
  • 1 cup milk, buttermilk, or water (I used about 1-1/4 cups buttermilk)
  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients. With two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips, cut or rub the butter or shortening in until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  3. Add the liquid all at once, mixing quickly and gently for about 20 seconds until you have a soft dough.
  4. To make drop biscuits: Drop the dough by the spoonful onto a lightly floured baking sheet; or for tidier shapes, fill the cups of a greased muffin tin about two-thirds full.
  5. To make cut biscuits: Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Fold it into thirds like a letter and roll gently with a floured rolling pin until the dough is 3/4″ thick again.
  6. Cut into circles with a biscuit cutter for traditional round biscuits. Or, to avoid leftover dough scraps, cut the dough into squares or diamonds with a bench knife or bowl scraper.
  7. Bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re lightly browned. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm.

Pie filling: adapted from South Carolina Living: 7 recipes every S.C. cook should know 

Hattie Mae’s Tomato Pie

To avoid soggy tomato pie, use every bit of the salt the recipe calls for, says Heidi Trull. “It gets all the moisture out of the tomatoes. You’re not going to be eating that salt, because you rinse it off.”  (Note: I did not rinse the tomatoes as well as I should have. So, after tasting them, I did not add any additional salt.)

Hattie Mae’s tomato pie

SERVES 8

4 ripe tomatoes, sliced

¼ cup salt

1 cup grated hoop cheese (I had to google this… sad but true. I used Vermont sharp cheddar cheese, a mixture of white and traditional)

1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise (there is no substitute for this in the south! I also added about 1/4 cup of half and half- my mixture was not pourable, but spreadable anyway)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (totally forgot to add but I did sprinkle in some herbes de Provence)

1 medium onion, diced (decided to leave off)

Salt and pepper to taste

8 mini piecrusts (or one large) – used the biscuit crust instead

Slice tomatoes, and cover with ¼ cup salt. Let sit for 1 hour. Rinse well in colander, and pat dry with paper towel. Place piecrusts in pan(s), and lay tomato slices in pie shells. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over tomatoes. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.  (Mine needed to bake for about 35 minutes- the biscuit crust is different than a traditional pie crust.)

After it cooled for about 10 minutes, I cut it with a pizza cutter.  Kitchen scissors would work also. I cut it into 10 rectangles. You can cut the pieces as large or small as you wish. This would make a great appetizer. The Ex-Ex called it tomato pizza. He liked it and he usually doesn’t like “hot tomatoes.”

Day 2

tomato pie 2

Bon appétit!  Whether you are a list-maker or not, I hope you are having a great June.  It isn’t officially summer yet… Schedule in some fun.  And try to worry less. Wherever you go there you are.

The Red Boots of Courage

boots-3

Tomorrow, when I get dressed, I will slip my feet into what I call my Red Boots of Courage.  It’s going to be a long day.  Americans will choose the 45th President of the United States in the 58th election held since we became a country.  All American women have had the right to vote only since 1920. For first the first time in 240 years, we may have a female president. Anyone remember the cigarette campaign, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”?  At least there will be an end to the ugly political ads.

In the spirit of focusing on the positive, I will compose a list of my favorites as of late.

  1.  The potato soup I made for dinner tonight was pretty darned delicious, if I do say so myself.  And easy.

potato-soup

2.  My weekly muffins- banana oatmeal this time.  How else should you use up an overripe stash of bananas?

banana-oatmeal-muffins

3.  American history trivia.  Always interesting.

history-facts

4.  Poetry.  Especially sad poems in French.  My 8th graders are reviewing the passé composé so I thought of Jacques Prévert’s Déjeuner du matin written in 1946. First, I showed them a silent film made about the poem in 2013 by Emmanuel Tenenbaum.  Afterwards, I gave them the words, after asking for ideas about the verbs used in the actual poem.

 

“Déjeuner du matin” by Jacques Prévert
annotated by Maureen Jameson

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler

Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder

Il s’est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis son manteau de pluie
Parce qu’il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder

Et moi j’ai pris
Ma tête dans ma main
Et j’ai pleuré.

http://litgloss.buffalo.edu/prevert/text.shtml

5.  Last weekend’s trip to the mountains.  Linville.

red-leaf

bench

6.  French-themed baby quilt made by Sister Moo for granddaughter-to-be Kennedy

baby-quilt

7.  Knock out roses that I see everyday at school

roses

8.  Humble and Kind, written by Lori McKenna and sung by Tim McGraw.

Pink and red make me happy.  So do Carolina Blue skies and fall.  So, no matter what happens in tomorrow’s election, I will still be able to see the beauty that surrounds me.  I will still have good things to eat, good friends to make me laugh and lend a shoulder to cry on when I need one, good stories to read by incredibly talented writers, good music to listen to, and the ability to experience feelings that run deep and true.  I am, above all, a lucky girl.

Potato Soup

This is a lot of guess work and easy to adapt to serve however many eaters you have.  Nothing could be easier!

Bacon, cut into small, diced pieces

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 medium-sized onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

 

Potatoes- Yukon Gold or Russett, washed, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

Chicken or vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Cheddar Cheese, optional

Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add bacon and fry until well-done and crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.  Add celery and onions, to hot oil and stir to coat.  Sauté until soft.  Drain most of the fat, keeping about one teaspoon.  Add about a cup of broth and heat to boiling, scraping the bottom of the pot, if necessary.  Add potatoes to the mixture.  Pour enough broth over the potatoes to cover them.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with bacon and shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Bon appétit to my fellow Americans.  Exercise your right to vote.  Believe in goodness and actively search for it.  Be humble and kind.