Monday, April 30, 2012

Pigs In The Blanket

I often wonder from where the name for this dish came. It was what we called it in my home as a child. I suppose most people think of it as "stuffed cabbage," and that's really what it is.

The filling is made of:

Meat (ground veal and pork)
Peppers (green, red and jalapeño)

Blend by hand, form into potato like lumps and roll these in large cabbage leaves like a burrito. I blanch the leaves in boiling water to soften them and make them more pliable before I roll the meat inside.

Embed these in a slow cooker surrounded by a mixture of canned spicy diced tomatoes & chilis and sauerkraut (although kim chi will also work if you like the spiciness ratcheted up). I set it on high to bring to a boil and then turn it down to low and let it simmer for 4-6 hours.

It's a make in the morning, eat in the evening sort of meal.

One Million Pillow Case Challenge

Thanks to my friend, Barbara, I am making pillow cases for terminally ill children through an initiative started by the website; All People Quilt DOT Com. The project is called the "Million Pillow Challenge". Check it out.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Random Quote 146

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

~ Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

Bon Apetit, Mes Amis

I wanted something light to eat today. I thought soup. I allowed the market to determine what form it would take.

There were amazing oyster mushrooms there and juicy stalks of Chinese Celery. Voila. Where to go from here, hmmm. I also found fresh and plump scallions and asparagus. Let's make soup!

At home I have carrots, onions, garlic, black pepper, lemon zest, fresh marjoram and oregano, powdered cummin, beef bouillon.

STEP 1) The broth. 3 quarts of water with 3 tbsps of kosher salt and 4 beef bouillons set to boil. Add 3 garlic pods peeled and sliced thinly, a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, the zest of one lemon, .5 tsp of fresh chopped oregano, .5 tsp of fresh chopped marjoram, .25 tsp dried cummin, and a tbsp of olive oil. The aroma should start to fill your kitchen. When it starts to boil cut the heat to half, and stir whenever you have the chance but not obsessively.

STEP 2) The Veggies and Fungi.

This is how I added them:

A) 1 medium sized onion (I peeled it. I cut it in half. I sliced the halves thinly across the semi-orbs longitudinally. It almost makes little onion noodles.)

B) A package of large oyster mushrooms bisected and trisected according to size.

C) A small package of carrots (6) peeled and sliced into discs.

D) A small bunch of Chinese celery washed, ends cut off, and sliced top to bottom including all of the rich greens.

E) A bunch of fat scallions (8) de-rooted and sliced like the celery.

F) Large Asparagus (10 stalks), bottoms removed and slice into sharply diagonal medallions.

You add and you stir and you simmer all along this portion of the creation. Once all the veggies etc. are in bring it to a boil and then add the noodles. I chose these wonderful little square flat noodles that were at A & H Market today. Never saw them before, but they were perfect for this soup. Once boiling, turn down to just above a simmer and let the noodles cook for 12 minutes slowly, then turn off the heat and allow all of the flavors to steep for 30 minutes or so. Stir now and again throughout this process.

I know it seems work intensive, but making soup the right way is. You are there and interacting with the soup from start to finish.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ April 29th to May 5th!

My Edible Gardens

Various lettuces in my planters cozy with pansies, violas, and a fern or two!

Year after year the thyme returns and cascades over this ancient flower box. Peas climbing up and out of the planter above it.

More thyme and chives to die for along with some more violas.

The herb window box is flourishing with last year's rejuvenated winter survivors: Thyme, marjoram, sage, oregano along with more peas and leafy greens. And all of this in mid-April! (These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today's Sermon


(for E. w.)

The smell of wet geraniums. On furry
leaves, transparent drops rounded
as cats' eyes seen sideways.
Smell of the dark earth, and damp
brick of the pots you held, tamped empty.
Flash of a new trowel. Your eyes
green in greenhouse light. Smell of
your cotton smock, of your neck
in the freckled shade of your hair.
A gleam of sweat in your lip's scoop.
Pungent geranium leaves, their wet
smell when our widening pupils met.

~ May Swenson, 1913 - 1989

Earth Peacemaker Stamps #'s 51 Thru 54

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Teacher's Tale.

Several years ago, a friend of mine who was working at my school went through a difficult time with her youngest son. It was a time when things weren't going so great with her husband either.

Her husband was a man's man type and her older son was a successful high school athlete. Her younger son was what we gay people affectionately refer to as a "flamer". In a less kind world the word "sissy" would have been applied. And I'm guessing that he experienced that indignity and a whole lot worse in his young life at the time.

Sometimes she'd ask me for my advice, and one time she asked if she could bring her son to our school to attend a field trip with our students. They lived in an adjoining county where he attended school. School for him was difficult. He stood up for himself when bullied and still found that he was the one who got suspended. His father, from what I understood of it, didn't "get" or accept who his youngest son was. He was neither supportive nor prepared to accept the implications of having a gay son. I don't know how any of this was expressed in the context of their family life. I do know that it contributed to the eventual break-up of my friend's marriage to him.

For his part, my friend's son had an amazing singing voice--Charlotte Church amazing. Once overheard singing on a metro, he was given a scholarship to the Washington Children's Opera by its director. But that's a whole other story.

So back to the field trip--The details were ironed out, and the day of the field trip came. He was a little older than the rest of the fourth graders with whom I was working, but they didn't seem to mind. Generally, the students at my school are far more tolerant and sophisticated about people and their differences. As I recall, he was rather timid at first, and by the end of the day had fit right in.

It was a trip to the Chesapeake Bay at a state park called Flag Ponds. The day involved beach combing for fossils, seining for a wonderful host of fish and other animals that were examined and return to the bay. There was a station with live animals. I think a raccoon, an owl, and a snake of some sort that year--all had been injured or abandoned as infants and brought to the rangers to heal and/or to raise. The park not only abuts a stretch of the Chesapeake Bay, but also covers an extensive wetlands area so students also got to dip net for salamanders with a ranger's careful supervision.

I think my friend wanted her son to see a gay adult man who was happy, successful and completely out without ever having to make that an issue. My interactions with him directly were brief and positive, and like a cat around a curious object, he spent much of his unguarded time watching me from the corner of his eyes. I knew that process all too well from much earlier in my life.

I remember coming away from that day thinking several things. One, he was adorable. How proud I would have been to have been his father. Two, he was full of turmoil, driven by desires and confusions and more than just a little bit of anger--a typical adolescent with an atypical orientation, a pronounced disposition, and a conflicted home life. Part of me wanted to embrace him, and part of me felt that he was just too volatile to take a chance on. He'd already accused his mother of abusing him in a fit of anger than ended up having unintended and real consequences for both of them.

As the next couple of years transpired, I remained supportive of his mom, interested and concerned for his life, and a giver of what advice I could. I remember chasing down information on SMYAL (Sexual Minority Youth Assistant League) as a resource for his mom. I had a friend who volunteered there at the time.

In the end, it all proved too much for my friend and she up and divorced his dad and then moved to Seattle to be close to a sister (I think). As she left, she confided that it was very painful for her, but that it was a matter of securing her own sanity, and that without that she wasn't any good to anyone else, least ways her younger son. For his part, he was left in the hands of his ill-prepared father. DNA has its obligations.

Over the many years since all of this took place, I have time and again thought about my friend and her son and wondered what became of them. On a whim, I did a Google search for her son this afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that he survived. Not only has he survived; he has carved (clipped) out a successful life for himself. First in Seattle and presently in NYC, he has become a stylist. For me, this was a very happy discovery complete with images.

I hope he is safe and happy and by all outward appearances this seems to be the case.


I am a great fan of the container "garden" and love creating little worlds in larger planters.

And no world is complete without a little surprise!

Saturday Funny

Lego School Update

First floor Elementary.

6 classrooms, Pre-K, Kindergarten, Grade One, Grade Two, Grade Three, Grade Four and Grade Five, plus counselor's room and reception area.

One of two entrances.

Second Floor: Middle School.

Three Grades, Six, Seven & Eight, plus arts room, media center, computer lab, and science lab 1.

My Weekend Office!

It comes with a very busy agenda of drinking coffee, reading a book and smelling roses...

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ April 22nd to 28th!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some Of My Ferns!

Two views of my largest fern bed against the northern side of attached garage. These are Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina.

Autumn Fern, Dryopteris erythrosora

Cinnamon Fern, Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Tassle Fern, Polystichum polyblepharum

Japanese Painted Fern, Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum'

Holly Fern, Cyrtomium falcatum

Bento Angry Birds

Bento is the Japanese are of packing a lunch box for children to take to school. Practitioners go to amazing lengths to create virtual works of edible art. I LOVE IT! Here's a great example.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fiftieth Peacemaker Stamp

At the halfway point in this series, a no brainer.

Spinach au Gratin Provençal

I've been in a very cooking-in-the-kitchen mood lately. Lucky you!

Easiest recipe ever.


3 1 lb bags of frozen organic cut spinach
1/2 cup Progresso bread crumbs with parmesan
2 cloves of fresh garlic diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 half & half
Small package of Wisconsin white cheddar grated (you can use gruyere or any other cheese that you like really.)

Thaw spinach and mix everything up but the cheese and milk.

layer spinach, cheese, spinach, cheese, spinach, cheese and pressing the spinach layers down. Pour in milk. Bake at 425˚ for 20-25 minutes.

It is very rich and would go very well with a roasted chicken or some light-tasting fish like Tilapia. I would also add in a fruit salad, probably full of melons and citrus (a lively mix of honey dew melon, cantaloupe, with mandarin, cara cara, and blood oranges, for example.

Today's Sermon


Grey branches, dull thuds.
Apples falling in late November, and we
gather them with frozen hands.

Am I wrong?

or did you say something,
not tearing your eyes from the ground?

Something like "evil will triumph,"
you said quietly.
As if the tundra's beyond us. As if we're gathering stones in our skirts.

~ Anzhelina Polonskaya, 1969 -
translated from Russian by Andrew Wachtel



Серые ветви, удары глухие.
Это яблоки падают в конце ноября, и мы
подбираем их замороженными руками.

Мне показалось?

Или же ты, не отрывая глаз от земли,
что-то сказала?

Вроде бы так: «зло побеждает».
Тихо сказала.
Будто за нами тайга. Будто мы камни в подол собираем.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Zesty Minestrone Soup

Zesty Minestrone Soup


a) 1.5 (I had a half container in the fridge) of Chicken stock--a little set aside for sautéing of the chicken.
b) 2 quarts water
c) 2 Chicken Bouillon cubes
d) tsp dried parsley
e) tsp dried oregano
f) generous cranks of freshly ground black pepper
g) tblsp olive oil


h) I sautéed two chicken breasts in 2 tbsp of chicken stock and a generous drizzle of olive oil. After cooked, torn into bite-size and smaller pieces. Meat and all remaining liquids added to broth.

Ingredients added to soup in no particular order:

i) 2 carrots pealed and cut into discs
j) 1 package button mushrooms sliced
k) Celery (I used the remnants of a bunch containing 4 solid stalks and the smaller interior ones. I like celery!)
l) 1 bunch of scallions sliced
m) 1 can of zesty diced tomatoes with jalapeños including juice

I cook the whole menagerie on a low-medium heat tossing things in as I get them ready and it takes about 40-50 minutes, no rush. As it nears the boiling point, I add the final ingredient.

n) 1 cup of Fagioli pasta

Bring to slow boil for 6 minutes and then simmer stirring occasionally for and hour or so, to give the flavors time to mingle and pasta will soften more.

Because I used chicken meat I did not use beans this time. Traditional minestrone soup would have used Cannellini beans. You can make this recipe exactly the same with the beans instead of the chicken meat and it's just as good. Vegetarians can make it with the beans and vegetable stock and bouillons and it works, too!

It's a very versatile recipe.

Deep Thoughts....

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Coming Week ~ April 15th to 21st!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I'm Reading #47

Just finished Stephen Greenblatt's "The Swerve." The book tells of the rediscovery of Luctrecius' classic poem "On The Nature Of Things" in 1417 and how it contributed to our modern world. A wonderful read.


Monday, April 09, 2012

Earth Peacemaker Stamps #'2 41 Thru 47

How To Eat Food Ethically a world ruled by entropy.

This food is the gift of the whole universe,
Each morsel is a sacrifice of life,
May I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food,
Give me the strength,
To transform my unwholesome qualities
into wholesome ones.

~ Buddhist Grace