Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Share Your Good Fortune

I am a great believer in the power of random acts of kindness.  When I get a fortune cookie, I take the fortune and tape it to a postcard and then send without any other information on it to someone I know.

Pasta and Broccoli and Mushrooms and Cheese

From the New York Times!  I give you Pasta and Broccoli and Mushrooms and Cheese in a skillet!

It was easy and so DELICIOUS!  A definite keeper.

They Are Celebrating Spring Early!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Caroline, OR Change

My Year of Living Theatrically continues with production #25 at Round House Theater in Bethesda, Maryland: "Caroline, OR Change".

Ended February with a trip to Round House Theater and their production of Tony Kushner's (Angels in America) musical "Caroline, OR Change", and like so many things I go to--I had no idea what it was about except that there was a 60's era maid in the cast.  Admittedly, not much to go on.  It is about a maid and her family and her relationship to the Jewish family for whom she washes clothes in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  In particular it is about the relationship between the 13-year-old son, Noah, of the white family and Caroline, the black maid.  Woven around them are the tails of Caroline's best friend, Dotty, and Caroline's three youngest children, Emmie, Jackie and Joe, of Noah's Dead Mother, Betsy, and grieving father, Stuart, and his young step-mother, Rose.  Rose's father comes for Hanukah as do Stuart's parents.  And last but not least are the inanimate objects that come to life in supporting roles: the Washing Machine, the Dryer, the Radio, the Bus and the Moon.  No matter how you slice it, this is an ambitious show. 

I found myself initially struggling to embrace the conventions in spite of the amazing singing voices.  And the set was stunning!  This wall-less home with 4 levels that rotated on an inner circle while furniture and props and actors rotated in the opposite direction on an outer circle.   As luck would have it, I was also sitting on the correct side of the stage to have straight on views of Caroline's home and the bus stop, which were played outside the main set.

But something happened after intermission.  The score became less ambitious and more straightforward.  The meaning of the songs was easier to grasp on a cold-listen, and that gave everything more power.  The first character to step out of the mix and shine was Rose Gellmen, played by Dorea Schmidt.  (I had previously seen her perform in two Arena Stage Musicals, as Mrs. Sowerberry in "Oliver!" and Tzeitel in "Fiddler on the Roof".  I swear you'd never recognize her from one of these performances to the other.  She's just that good.  And for this role to shine, it takes exceptional finesse and care to be able to hit just the right note, and upon the foundation set in the first half--she nailed it. 

The next ensemble member out of the gate was Korinn Walfall as Emmie Thibodeaux, Caroline's daughter.  We already know, from act one, she can sing, but when she sings, "I Hate the Bus"--I was taken to a place in her character's heart and held captive.  But I didn't feel the least bit trapped.  Just, so fortunate.  It's worth noting that she also held the group numbers with the younger boys together like a seasoned professional, anchoring the epilogue poignantly and powerfully.

The final burst from the layer of wonderful came when the title character, played by Nova Y. Payton came to sing, "Lot's Wife".  It is her song of redemption, and she delivered it with such raw, bold, conviction that before I realized it, the warm tears were flowing down both cheeks even as my ears told me that I was not alone.  When she finished the otherwise reserve audience erupted in not only applause, but cheers and shouts of accolade.  (Originally conceived of by Kushner as an opera, the audience response to this performance was completely operatic in it's passion.)  It was the apex of the production and raised the rest of the show to an easy, euphoric glide home.  Amazing. 

It's a musical that captures the conflicts and tragedies of a pivotal moment in American history and in a pair of American families.  It's ambitions, it doesn't always hit the mark as thing, but it has the bones that allow all it's parts to entertain, embrace, inform and transcend.  Too bad this was it's next to last performance.
The stunning set with Caroline (Nova Y. Payton) and Dotty (Awa Sel Secka), and The Moon (Delores King Williams)
Caroline with The Washing Machine (Theresa Cunningham) on the left and The Radio (Felicia Curry, Olivia Russell, and Kara-Teimeka Watkins) on the right
Caroline with The Dryer (V. Savoy McIlwaine) whose deep baritone/base voice was very HOT!
Caroline with Noah (Griffin McCahill)
Caroline with her daughter, Emmie (Korinn Walfall)

"Mexican" Pizza!

 This is just messy good. I call it Mexican Pizza with apologies to all of my Mexican friends!--but anyone who's been to a Taco Bell gets the reference. It's layers:

1) a puffy wheat tortilla
2) refried beans mixed with green bell pepper and minced garlic
3) cooked ground beef with onions, black beans and red bell pepper
4) sharp cheddar cheese
5) a puffy wheat tortilla
6) more meat mixture
7) Ro-Tel diced tomatoes (the hotness of your liking)
8) pepperjack cheese

Back @ 375˚ for 15 minutes

Let stand for 10

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Winter Garden Zoo #2

 The wolf pack was also out and exploring today.

Winter Garden Zoo #1

A sighting of a lone Wapiti.


My friend, Peggy, challenged me to name the cherry trees that are already blooming in my neighborhood--I love a challenge.  They are Kawazazukura Cherries from Japan.  There were hybridized in Kawaza, Japan and they hold an annual festival there.  In Tokyo, they bloom on average in mid-March.

Quince Blooms Early, Too (Along With Some Japanese Cherries!)

With global warming, February is the New April!

Sunroom Patio Daffodils Blooms Early

The earliest I've ever had Daffodils bloom...

Model Tov to Juma and Caesar!

The eleven-year-old male, Caesar and his four-year-old mate, Juma gave birth on February 6, to a healthy and beautiful little filly who has been christened, Willow.  The entire Maryland Zoo family celebrates!

New Magic!

In a run to find Azaleas to no avail, I discovered this happy little trio of Chickadees!  New magic in my Gardens!

From The Gardens: Crocuses

Wonderful New Stamp

The latest in the decades old series celebrating Black Heritage.  And it's a local civil rights activist, the amazing Dorothy Height!  I'm not only thrilled that she is being honored, but that the image is so beautiful, too.  It reflects her generous and stalwart spirit of racial and social equality.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Meatless Stuffed Manicotti

This is a special treat. My vegetarian stuffed Manicotti. In a food processor I combine walnuts, mushrooms, carrots, red and green pepper, celery and onion with some dried mustard, cayenne powered, cumin powder, oregano and salt. Then I mix in shredded mozzarella cheese and stuff the manicotti. Place this on a bed of spaghetti sauce, add a little more sauce between the shells and top with more mozzarella. Bake at 350˚ for 50 minutes. It is so good and you'd think it was meat, but you won't miss that it's not!

This is how I made it today:

3 medium Carrots which I chopped up and then processed into a good shred.
1/2 Cup chopped Walnuts that I also processed (Then I removed these to a mixing bowl.
(With the processor that I have it's hard to get even results when combining hard and softer veggies.)
Next I added (all roughly chopped) 1 medium Onion, 2 stalks of Celery, 1/2 a green Bell Pepper and 1/4 a red Bell Pepper and 8 oz pkg of Button Mushrooms. After this was pretty well ground up, I added the spices and mixed it some more.
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground Mustard
1/2 tsp Oregano flakes
1/4 tsp Cayenne Powder
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
Combine this with the Carrot/Walnuts and 1 C shredded Mozzarella Cheese. Then I stuff this in Manicotti shells. It will easily make 10-12 shells.

Pansies and Violas

...can out last a harsh winter here, but in a mild to nonexistent one, they do right fine!