Category Archives: Family

Sunday Soup

Usually I’m the one checking out cookbooks but a couple of months ago YA asked me to request two for her.   (Don’t ask me why she didn’t request them herself…. I know she has a library card and an online account.)  Both were “Half Baked” titles by Tieghan Gerard – not vegetarian but more veggie recipes than your usual cookbook.

The first one finally showed up last week; both books had a lengthy waiting list.  After YA went through it and marked a few recipes to copy, I figured I should look through it as well.  One of the recipes that caught my eye was the Cauliflower Pale Ale Soup so on Saturday I shopped for the ingredients and yesterday morning, I headed into the kitchen to prepare it.  I had to change it up a bit to make it vegetarian and also because I didn’t have pale ale and didn’t want to buy six bottles/cans.


5 slices of vegetarian bacon, chopped
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp. paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 c. vegetarian broth
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped (6 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tsp. dried thyme
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
1 12-oz. bottle hard cider
½ c. milk (I used skim)
2 Tbsp. butter
Shredded cheddar cheese

How To

  • Saute the bacon in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Move bacon to a separate bowl and toss with the rosemary, ½ tsp. paprika and the pinch of cayenne.
  • Add the remaining 3 Tbsp. of oil to the pan. Saute the onion and celery until soft.
  • Add ½ c. broth, cauliflower, garlic, thyme, 1 tsp. paprika, pinch of red pepper flakes, salt & pepper to taste. Stir for a bit then add the rest of the broth and the cider.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.
  • Blend the soup (either in blender or using immersion blender).
  • Serve with the veggie bacon bits and cheddar cheese.

It was yummy; YA and I both enjoyed it for lunch.  Between the two of us, there are about 15 recipes we’ve marked with little post-it notes so I’m thinking this might end up being a cookbook we decide to purchase.  Guess I’d better start looking through my current cookbook stash to see which one will have to go!!

Do you often cook with liquor?

One More Time, Once

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It has been a busy week. Monday, I hauled some equipment to Plainview for an online auction, made two trips, the first hauling our old rear blade, a fertilizer auger, and some smaller stuff. And a second with the forage chopper, and other stuff that I think, if they market it as ‘vintage,’ it could do well. The auctioneer wasn’t even sure they had ever sold any before, but he finally agreed to put it on a pallet and see what happens. (Details after the auction in April).
Tuesday I had one more clinic appointment: I have now been dismissed by the shoulder doctor, the knee doctor, the toe doctor, and the foot doctor. It’s a pretty good feeling.

I also had a meeting in the Cities on Tuesday.
Plus the week was busy at the college working on a set.

I have the song, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in my iTunes, and in the opening, Cannonball says, “You know, sometimes we are not prepared for adversity. When it happens, sometimes, we’re caught short; We don’t know exactly how to handle it when it comes up. Sometimes we don’t know just what to do when adversity takes over. And I have advice for all of us. I got it from my pianist, Joe Zawinul, who wrote this tune, and it sounds like what you’re supposed to say when you have that kinda problem. It’s called, “Mercy Mercy Mercy”.

I think that’s true. We talk a lot about how we don’t know how to deal with conflict and how it is hard to learn that a little conflict can be OK — when you know how to handle it. I started to learn that 40 years ago at one of the theaters, and the founders would get into some pretty big arguments behind the closed- but not soundproof door- And then they would come back out, and we are all shuffling our feet and looking at the floor. ‘Conflict is OK’, they would say, ‘You gotta learn to work things out’.
I also have the Buddy Rich Big Band doing a version of ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’. They are both good.

I have three versions of the song ‘Jessica’; The original, plus two bluegrass versions. I have two versions of ‘Layla’ (the original and the unplugged), ‘As Time Goes’ by Maynard Ferguson and Tony Bennett, ‘El Paso’ by the Grateful Dead and Marty Robbins. Again, so different and both so good. ‘Eli’s Coming’ by Three Dog Night and Maynard Ferguson, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ theme, the original and a version by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. ‘Limehouse Blues’ by Jerry Reed & Chet Atkins and also by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; they are strikingly different versions. ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ by Three Dog Night and Randy Newman. Two versions of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Benny Goodman, and James Horner & Orchestra. ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ by Joan Osborne and Bob Dylan (The Joan one is really good. Nothing against the Dylan version either!), a couple versions of  ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin and Rodrigo y Gabriela.
A song called ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made’ from the movie, ‘All That Jazz’, which I thought was original to the movie, until I heard Gene Krupa doing it on the 40’s station. And then, as I googled it for this blog, realized I have Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins doing a version that is SO different I didn’t even make the connection it was the same song. Prior to this revelation, I didn’t realize there were other versions of that song.

Chickens and ducks are still fine, but the coyotes are back. Kelly chased one away Wednesday morning. We’re keeping our eyes open. Bailey needs back up; she won’t engage when alone. She’s a lover, not a fighter.

I spread two bales of straw out for the chickens. They enjoy scratching in that, and it covers up some of the mud.



Scared Silly

Scared the bleep out of myself last week.  Just running a couple of errands including a trip to the library for a drop-off and a pick-up.  At this time of year I usually wear a sweatshirt for errands, leaving the coat at home.  After all, just going from house to car, car to library, etc.  A creature of habit, I normally lock the car then put the keys in the pocket of my sweatshirt. 

When I came out of the library I reached into my pocket and… no keys.  I dug down in the pocket then re-traced my steps, thinking that maybe I set them down on the shelf when I was pulling out my holds.  Nope.  Walked back outside to the drop-off box to see if I dropped them there.  Nope.  Stood next to my car for a few minutes (of course, this was a day it was drizzling/sleeting a bit) trying to visualize if I’d had my keys in my hand when I put the book through the drop-off slot.  I didn’t think so.   I headed back into the library to see if maybe in the short time I’d been inside, someone had found the keys and turned them into a librarian.  At least I had my phone and YA was working at home that day so she could have brought me the spare key, but I was already starting to feel the loss of the keychain which my father gave me decades ago. 

As I was about to open the library door, my hand brushed against my pant leg.  The keys were in the pocket of my sweatpants!  It’s still a little unbelievable to me.  I only have two pairs of sweatpants that even have pockets so I never think about having pockets.  I can’t imagine WHY I put the keys in the pants’ pocket instead of the sweatshirt.  But I was unbelievably relieved to find them, not have to embarrass myself in front of the library staff and especially not in front of YA!

Tell me about a time you’ve scared the bejeepers out of yourself?

Waited On Hand And Foot

Daughter is coming home for a visit Friday through next Monday, the weather gods willing, and we are all excited. She hasn’t been home for two years. She is currently working six days a week at her agency job and her private therapy practice, and is exhausted. She begins her full time private practice in mid April.

Her plans are to vegetate on the sofa, crochet an afghan for us, and be pampered. We have the yarn. She doesn’t want to go any where, just be at home and have us cook for her.

We planned menus yesterday. There will be chicken enchiladas Friday, German roast pork braised in apple cider with butternut squash risotto Saturday, and pasta with mom’s red sauce and Calabrian meatballs and bruschetta on Sunday. Monday will be leftovers. Her dad has to make bacon and scrambled eggs for her. The bacon must be Cloverdale brand, thick-sliced, hickory-smoked variety, cooked just the way she likes it, meaning it is crisp in the middle and more chewy on the ends. She also wants homemade French bread. I already have two loaves in the freezer as well as the chicken, pork loin, meatballs, and red sauce. There is one remaining butternut from the garden. I think we are set.

What would you request if you could have someone cook for you for three days. When was the last time you were waited on hand and foot?

Dog Talk

One of the most trying aspects of our Grandson’s two week stay has been managing his interactions with our dog. Kyrill is a terrier, therefore terribly intrusive and curious. Grandson doesn’t like the way the dog invades his space and hovers. The dog just wants to be a part of everything. He also seems to be anxious, and when he isn’t following Grandson he is sitting in my lap. I am never alone. That has been stressful.

I found that the best way of helping Grandson understand the dog’s behavior is to talk in what I imagine the dog’s voice would be, explaining my (the dog’s) motives and feelings. The dog’s voice is lower than my regular speaking voice, with some difficulty saying his L’s. Grandson is young enough to suspend reality and have conversations with the dog (me), explaining how he feels about the dog’s behavior. Sometimes Grandson will say something, and then tell me “Oma, I am talking to Kyrill”, letting me know I have to answer him in Kyrill’s voice and from Kyrill’s point of view. Like us, the dog has been glad for our Grandson’s stay, but, like us, also looking forward to having things back to normal.

Do you have a particular voice you use for your pets? What would your pets say to you if they could talk? What were your best and worst childhood pets?

Mud & Junk & Acting

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It’s mud season. Everything is mud. And not just our farm; on FB or YT, the farmers I follow are all complaining about the mud. I don’t miss the mud I dealt with when I had cows. Even the chickens are trying to get out of it.

And we haven’t had the worst of it. Wait until the frost starts to come out. 

Lately, I end up washing all the eggs just because they’re covered with muddy footprints. 

And another snowstorm ain’t helping.

I got the car washed two days in a row (I have a wash membership) and the guy even said “You must live way out in the woods!” Not much point trying to keep it clean, it’s just to wash off the outer layer of grime.

Trying to move snow after the latest round and now the ground is soft and it’s really hard not to rip up sod and dirt or move the gravel around. And I thought to myself, I go through this every spring; you’d think it would have leveled out by now. But a bump on the front wheels makes the rear blade go down an equal amount. Or a lump on the rear wheels and the front loader digs in. Slow down and make the best of it. Eventually the lawn mower will level that back off.

I was digging in the junk drawer in the shed the other day. You thought your house junk drawer was bad.

The only thing I routinely use out of here are hydraulic couplers, fuses, and the little lightbulbs for your car taillights. I sure don’t need this cabinet for those few things. But there’s a flat surface on the top so I can put things there! I assume it’s from our old house… Dad put it here. This summer, GONE!

All those things sitting on top? Hydraulic fittings. Two different types, one of which doesn’t fit anything I have anymore. WHY AM I STILL SAVING THEM??

I picked up Allie’s ashes. Bailey and Allie just tormented each other and it appears Baily is basically saying ‘I got your pillow; suck it Allie!’.

Humphrey always plays it cool. Or maybe he just has tummy ache. He is delicate and if he eats carrion, he doesn’t feel good and I have to give him GasX. Plus, He is eight years old, basically our age. Naps are good. 

I was reading the daily email I get from the weather channel talking about the comet Hale-Bopp appearing in 1997. I had a calf named Hale-Bopp. Sometimes it got hard to name calves. Sometimes you just used whatever was available. I had several weather related name for calves.

Chicks are in short supply. And I don’t say like I need a date; I say that as someone who generally orders chicks in March for delivery in a couple weeks. I mentioned last week I was starting to think about chicks and then saw on the news how there was a shortage, and when I logged in to Hoovers Hatchery, the first available was June! And depending on the breed ordered, it might be July! 

I ended up revising the breeds I wanted in order to get June 1 shipment. Which is still 6 – 8 weeks later than I prefer. It has pros and cons; I’ve gotten chicks in March before and the temperature crashes and while they are in a heated pen, it’s just harder when that happens. (I tried fall chicks once too; got them in October. Two weeks later it was 20 degrees and their water was freezing at night.) Mid-April is usually pretty safe weather wise, but it’s a busy time at work and home. Ok, so June should avoid both of those…but now we’re into January or February before we get eggs. And the current chickens taper off around December, meaning well, we might be in an egg crunch again from our farm. 

Why a chick shortage? What came first;  the shortage of the chicken or the egg? Avian flu and millions of chickens killed. Hence the egg shortage for a while as the hens get to laying age. Prices on eggs are up so people decided to raise their own chickens. In a year, (or the first cold week. Or when the price comes back down) there will be a surplus of ‘mature’ chickens on marketplace. I’ve gotten a lot of chickens because people were not prepared or interested in raising chickens during the winter. 

I am in this play called ‘Master Class’. It’s Maria Callas having a master class. (Born Maria Anna Cecilia Sophie Kalogeropoulou; December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977, was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.”- Wiki) I am the ‘stagehand’. I have 9 lines and I bring out a footstool, a cushion, and I refill her water glass. It is fun to be ‘onstage’ again, but when I go out for curtain call and bows, I still think to myself, “This is not right; I’m not supposed to be out here.” First rehearsal I was asking the director about this stagehand; what’s his motivation. Maria is not a pleasant woman toward him. Did he work AC/DC last night? Finally I just asked, ‘Does he have attitude?’ Oh yes, she said, there’s attitude. Perfect.

They say, keep trying things until the director tells you to back off, then you know when you’ve gone far enough. The director didn’t tell me to back off until I got a toothpick with cellophane on the end. I wanted to play him like a 1950’s old guy; stubby cigar and faded tattoo. She wouldn’t let me do tattoos. I opted for the smallest hammer, a different colored toothpick for each entrance, and I wanted a bad toupee but had to make do with an old ladies wig. (Every night, I wet it down and smooth out the curls). But it’s a fun group, and a good experience.


Worm Moon Hike

“The Worm Moon is the moon for March and for some it takes its name from the fact that earthworms begin to reappear around this time of year, bringing birds back out to feed. It signals the tail end of Winter and the beginning of regrowth for nature.”  Joey Rather, Clarksburg, WV

YA and I went out to the Arboretum on Tuesday night to do a Worm Moon Hike. I’ve never done one of these monthly hikes before but figured that by March, it should be decent enough weather.  The website gave scant information so I was a little surprised when we saw some folks putting on snowshoes. 

It didn’t seem necessary as we started out along the pond.  The path was clear and packed down.  Easy peasy.  Then we headed into the wooded area and while there were small luminaries, without the ambient night light, it was a little harder to see and in a couple of uphill stretches it was slippery.  I was doing OK as I was wearing boots; YA not so much in her tennis shoes.  We made it past the slippery spots, continuing in an uphill direction.  So far so good.

It was clouding over but at the topmost part of the hike, there was a lovely view of the hazy moon so we stopped for a bit to admire it.  then it got rough – downhill.  The luminaries didn’t really do a great job of lighting and downhill felt way more treacherous.  YA was slipping a bit but catching trees to steady herself.  I tried to walk more in the snow than on the path but the snow depth was not consistent at all.  In one place, I’d step off the path and sink to almost my knee.  In other spots it wasn’t as deep but the ground under the snow wasn’t even so it was tough and not much fun. 

Finally at about the 2/3 mark, the snowy hiking trail crossed the road (Three Mile Road) and to our surprise, we discovered that the road back was lit.  We both agreed that we would walk the rest of the way on the road, which was completely clear. At that point, like the first 5 minutes of the hike, it was easier to really enjoy the scenery and the beauty of the Arb at night.  When we got back to the car YA said “well, I’m guessing that’s not what you expected” and she was right.  Next year I’m just doing the road!

Any memorable hikes you’ve been on?

Words To Live By

We are starting our second, and unexpected, week of caring for our grandson. A snow storm and terrible road conditions have made our planned rendezvous with Son and Dil impossible today, and it looks like the weather is going to be awful all week. We may not get him back to his parents until Saturday.

Yesterday Husband, Grandson, and dog had a wonderful time playing in the snow drifts, feeding the birds, and tearing around in the backyard. The dog came in the house with a mass of golf ball-sized snow clumps sticking to his beard, skirt, armpits, furnishings, and legs. I had to put him in a warm bath to melt them. He had a great time out there, though. Grandson loved watching the birds flock at the feeder.

Husband is exhausted from clearing snow. He says that North Dakota words to live by are “Don’t run out of whiskey in a blizzard”. His small stash of hooch is holding up just fine, but we really need spring to come.

What are your words to live by? Any opinions about whiskey?


The weekend Farm Report is from Ben.

Last week was all about the snow,

We started off this week with rain on Monday. Rain on a snow packed gravel road just makes ice, so there was a lot of phone calls between the township officials. Most of the residents know the county, whom we contract for snow removal and road maintenance, is working on it, but they will sometimes send a note just to make sure we know a certain road is an ice rink. And a few roads are more trouble than others. We all managed and in a few hours they were better.

When I was moving snow last week, I forgot to make a path from the back door of the chicken coop over to the building with the feed. I did that in the rain Monday morning because the chickens needed more feed. And I then went up the driveway and tried to scrape off some ice. I sanded the corners and had to take a moment to be grateful, again, for the things I can do this year that I was not doing a year or six months ago. I picked up and threw a bag of feed on my shoulder and I carried buckets of corn. A year ago, I had the shoulder surgery and couldn’t do any of that. I walked through the snow and I spread out sand; six months ago I was barely able to walk or keep my balance and I certainly would not have been walking on an uneven surface. 

Chickens are doing really well, we’re getting somewhere between 18 and 24 eggs per day. Thanks to Tim, I was able to move a few dozen and someone at the college took a few dozen. I think I moved 16 dozen eggs one day.

We still have the two ducks. Plus, some wild ones that come in for corn.

It’s very interesting to us, the pheasants are not afraid of the vehicles; the tractor or the gator or a car and they will just stand there and watch us go by. But I step out of the house 75 yards away and they flee.

I’m not sure if you can consider an inch of snow being ‘March coming in like a lion’, it’s March, it’s going to do whatever it does. There are basketball tournaments and they used to say there was always a snowstorm during tournaments. That doesn’t prove so true anymore, so we’ll just see what it is. But the snow is melting. Even after that freezing rain on Monday, by Monday afternoon a lot of ice had melted on the road. We talk about our long driveway, but most of the time it’s just the first 300 yards from the house that’s a problem. Those are the two corners going uphill to get out of our yard. If you can get around those two corners you can probably make it. The rest of the road is still curvy and uphill, but it’s open and in the sun, and doesn’t usually drift too bad, knock-on wood, famous last words, your mileage may vary, certain weather conditions apply.

When I was a kid, I had a rail sled. Technically, I still have it, it’s hanging in the garage.

When I was a kid I used a rail sled. At some point when I was a kid dad re- did a lot of the driveway so it wouldn’t drift so bad. But prior to that, there was these two corners that had banks on the sides. I would take this rail sled up above the second corner and get a run at it and I could make both corners, come around below the house and ride that sled all the way down to the barn. It was like a luge run! That was the coolest thing ever. My brother talks about it too. But if the road got too slippery, well then we couldn’t get out with the car. (rear wheel drive you know back then) and dad spread manure on the road and that kind of messed up the luge run. Seriously, manure. Why buy salt, we have this and it’s free and it needs to be spread every day anyway. Once it started to melt in the spring mom complained a bit.

Manure spreader designs changed over the years. They used to have multiple beaters in the back and you got a nice even spread. Then they went to a single beater design, and you got a lot more clumps. Designs changed again to go to vertical beaters or side discharge and of course the whole way of farming has changed enough that it all had to change with it. Manure is a good fertilizer and there’s a lot of value to it and it’s taking very seriously nowadays.  There’s a lot of recordkeeping involved, and there are only certain conditions under which it can be applied. I’m not up on all the rules anymore, but I’m not sure I would be allowed to surface spread in the winter on a hillside. Runoff and erosion, you know, the farmers take that seriously too.

KTCA, Twin Cities Public Television, used to show “Matinee at the Bijou“ at noon on weekdays and sometimes at lunch when dad and I were in the house we’d watch the movie. I remember seeing a black and white Army movie, all I can remember is this bit: a man jumps out of the back of the army truck and lands in a puddle, and he says to the driver “You couldn’t find a dry spot?” and the driver says, “Man. This is a dry spot!” No idea what movie it was. I’ve tried looking for that quote without luck. Why do I remember that?? It had to be 40 years ago. Anyone know the movie? 

These blogs. Some days I just start typing and I don’t know when to stop.
Don’t ask me about stage lighting. I forget to breathe when you get me going on stage lighting.



I am taking quite a bit of time off this week looking after our grandson. He is quite amiable and happy, and it has been quite fun. He is quite good at entertaining himself, so I have had some time to sit and rest. Yesterday I decided to have Ostfriesentee in the afternoon.

I started drinking tea when I lived in Canada. My mother’s family didn’t drink much tea, but my dad’s parents did. I wasn’t surprised when I ran across an article about the importance of tea in Ostfriesland, as that is where my father’s family came from. Ostfriesland is in northwest Germany right across the Ems River from the Netherlands. People there drink 300 liters of tea per person each year.

The favorite tea in Ostfriesland is Assam tea, strong and malty. There is a very precise way to drink it. First, you put sugar lumps called kluntjes in the cup, then pour in the hot tea and try to hear the sugar make a cracking noise. Next, you pour a teaspoon of heavy cream against the inside rim of the cup so the cream makes neat designs in the tea. You don’t stir the tea, but drink it in layers, so that the last drops are sweetened by the rock sugar. I typically don’t have time in the week for such ceremony, and this was fun.

What are some ceremonies you like? How do you take your tea?