Thoughtful Thursday: You Hold the Key to Love and Fear

Oddly enough, the latest commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken brought to mind one of the songs that defined an age, a place, an event, a dream for love and peace:  The Youngbloods – Get Together.

I was one of those at Woodstock and heaven help me, I do not remember much.  My Cousin Billy and I were doing fine until the announcement blared out:  “…That the brown acid that is circulating around us isn’t too good. It is suggested that you stay away from that. Of course it’s your own trip. So be my guest, but please be advised that there is a warning on that one, ok?”

I haven’t a clue if it was bad, I just know at one point, my consciousness merged with lots of other people and it was….epic.  Years later, years older, years wiser, I look back at that time in my life as endless sunshine and beauty.  Of course, most of the time it was pharmaceutically enhanced but….deep in my heart, that song has stayed with me through the years.  It has defined me.  I have shared the song with those I love either by recording or my poor little voice singing along while I play the tune on the violin.  I must add, the drugs are long gone but the love still remains.

I took my husband with me to the 40th anniversary.  He watched clips, gazed at photos, talked to folk like me.  He is 10 years younger than me and was not old enough to be affected.  In fact, he could have been one of the many children there with their parents!

In 1984, an ex-lover and I had gone camping to an almost deserted place on the shore of a huge, beautiful lake.  The first morning, I awoke an hour or so before him.  I walked out of tent and dissolved into the perfect and beautiful silence.  The lake was mirror smooth.  I went to the car and brought out the case with my violin, went down to the shore and sat down.  At first, soft random melodies and then, it all came flooding back to me.  I began to play this song.  I gazed at the birds and clouds in the sky, listened to the waves softly lapping the shore.  My lover came and sat beside me.  “What is that song?”  I began to sing the words and played softly.  When I was through, I looked at him and his cheeks were wet with tears.  We sat in silence and then he said, “Please, again. I remember this song when I was in university in Tokyo.  But it means more now.”

It means more to me now.  With all the hate, war, indifference, it opens my heart anew to loving one another; to doing those small acts of kindness that only another person is aware of, to do something to help another person.  I don’t know who said this, but there is a quote:  “No matter how small, no act of kindness is ever wasted.”   You hold the key to love and fear in your trembling hand.

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Wordless Wednesday: Fried Chicken in 90 year old iron skillet

copyright Kanzensakura

copyright Kanzensakura

Posted in Musings, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cold Weather: Two Hot Soups

Two soups: Italian Minestrone and Japanese Nikujaga. Minestrone:A wonderful, stick to your ribs soup is minestrone. My version is vegetarian but you can add cooked chunks of chicken to it or use beef or chicken broth. It is so rich and the beans add such good protein, I don’t think it is needed. this is just one version of minestrone. Italy has different culinary regions and the same dish may be different from region to region. This version goes together quickly and is so good served with a rustic, crusty bread.

The Japanese beef stew, while similar to many versions here in the US and elsewhere, is still, a little different. It is thinner than most stews and the snow peas and ginger add a wonderful difference. I like this served in a deep bowl over rice.

Either soup will warm your tummy, make your family smile, and make you glad to be inside where it is cozy instead of outside where it is cold and yucky.

NIKUJAGA
2 lbs beef stew meat (brown in a bit of oil before adding to crock pot)
1 cup water
3 tbs. Japanese sake
3 tbs. mirin
3 tbs. sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb baby carrots (whole)
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large white onion, diced
10 snow peas halved (can substitute equivalent of shredded cabbage or bok choy)
quarter sized piece of ginger, grated
cooked sticky rice
garnish with some chopped parsley and/or slivered scallion

Directions:

1 Put all into crock pot and cook on low 10-12 hours or on high 4-6 hours.
2. Add snow peas last two hours of cooking time
2 Stir before serving. Serve over sticky rice. Use chopsticks to stir or stir carefully to not break apart

Minestrone
1 16 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinse
1 16 oz can navy, great northern, chick peas, or cannellini beans drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1small can diced tomatoes and juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 quarts vegetable broth
bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, sprig of thyme, 1 tbs chopped basil)
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 cup macaroni or any small pasta 1
Grated parmesan cheese, to serve
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbs. sugar

DIRECTIONS
In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrots, potatoes, celery and garlic; reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Add the tomato paste and broth, stirring thoroughly. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the bouquet garni salt, pepper, and sugar, and cabbage and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Add beans and return to heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.Remove bouquet garni. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve. NOTE: cooked chicken can be added and heated through.

 

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Winter’s Coming: Cheetahs playing in the snow

Last year, the Richmond Zoo was blessed by the birth of six – SIX – cheetah cubs. We have all been obsessed with our first view of them, seeing them grown and become individuals, seeing them let loose into their own wild area so we, the public, could see them in all their beauty, grace, and speed.

Last January, after a snow, and during one of their public showings, the cubs were allowed out to play in the snow. Their mom kept careful watch over them. Even though just a couple of months old, they already show their ground eating speed run, their curiosity about the world around them, and again, their incredible beauty.

I hope you all enjoy this brief and rare video of the cheetahs, especially, cheetahs in the snow. Winter’s coming but already, they know about snow and will have few surprises this year.

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Football Food – Game Day gr-r-r-r-r

free public domain imge

free public domain imge

I thought after last year, I was done being the football food/place provider. NO-O-O-O…I did several posts on football/game day/sports event food last year.  So, here I am thinking:  no more football.  No more having to scurry around to feed the boys…..nope.  One of the other wives has decided she is going outlet shopping this weekend.  I scratch my head here – which is worse?  Guys gathered for football and cooking for them or, going to a huge outlet and shopping.  To be honest, I’m going with the shopping as being the worst.  I’ll be happy to take a nice walk in the woods or hide in the bedroom and read.

 TIP  But anyway,  whole chickens are on sale around here.  So I have bought several, put in the pressure cooker, pulled off the skin and -.  Put the pulled off, cooked chicken into freezer bags (2 cup amounts) to pull out to use for future casseroles and chicken salad.  You can also, if you find pre-cooked rotisserie chickens on a good sale, do the same thing with them.  You can also use the large cans of chicken breast meat packed in broth if there is a good sale on that.

That being said, the guys are getting chips, salsa, pretzels and for their tummies at halftime, Hot Chicken Salad.  Hot Chicken Salad is probably the Original Church Lady meal.  It is the kind of casserole taken to potlucks, church dinners, left at homes in time of bereavement or birth of a child or recuperation from an illness.  It is homey, easy, redolent of all those things dear to a Southerner or Midwesterner’s heart:  mayo and canned creamed soup.  Don’t turn your nose up…this really is good.  Picky eaters suck it up.  I like to serve with warm slices of French bread and a salad and fruit salad for dessert.

It’s called hot chicken salad because it has many of the ingredients of cold. It is easy to assemble and takes about 25 – 35 minutes to bake. At half time, I know of four guys who are going to demolish this and wipe out the baking dish with leftover bread. Their “fruit salad” will be a bowl of apples and bowl of grapes.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole
1 cup of mayonnaise (can use low fat)
1 can of cream of chicken soup or mushroom soup
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 cups of diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup of minced celery
1/3 cup of finely minced onion
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
Topping (below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. In a bowl combine the mayonnaise and soup; blend well. Stir in the cheddar cheese, lemon juice. Add the chicken, celery, onion, green onion and almonds; mix. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt only as needed, then transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven, add topping, and bake an additional five minutes.

Toppings include: 1 – 1 ½ cups potato chips, or sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers mixed with some butter, or 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or dry bread crumbs, or shredded cheese. The most used topping is the crushed potato chips.  I like to save a tablespoon of the almonds to add on top at the end, when I add the chips.  A garnish of fresh minced parsley or green onion adds a nice touch.

Note:  You can do a search for “football” on my blog to pull up other dishes such as calico beans, Asian pulled pork, apple cake, vegetarian chili.

 

 

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Same photo, different styles

 

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Autumn Deepens: aki fukashi 秋深し (あきふかし

night and moon: autumn
deepens – frost glitters on leaves
and fades in the sun

Posted in General Poetry, Haiku | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments