Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Has Arrived In California

Spring Has Arrived In California
A rite of Spring we have enjoyed since moving to California is the abundance of flowers. Flowers seem to grow everywhere. One of the more beautiful sights occurs in the Spring after the rainy season which is brief in San Diego. Since we must irrigate anything that grows, it is a real treat when Nature has presented the colors for us. The canyon hill across the way from our back yard is probably a mile or more in distance. It does not photograph well from our back yard but if you click on the top photo to enlarge you can see the color. I can see three large patches of the orange color of California Poppies growing wild.
Our local TV news caster reported that the hills along Lake Hodges were a mass of color. The area was congested with residents driving to view the beautiful wild purple flowers and our state flower, the California Poppy blanketing the hillsides. I have poppies which grow in our back yard and have photographed them for you. This is a protected plant. It is illegal to dig up the plant or pick the blossoms in the wild. They bloom briefly so one must optimize the short duration of color. It is spectacular.
Happy Leap Year Day!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tony Roma's Coleslaw

Tony Roma's Coleslaw

I have been on a diet recently as you may have guessed. My doctor wanted me to come back for another check up. I said that I would loose weight. He thanked me for sparing him the conversation. I have been stuck on ten pounds. When I visit our children they are so hospitable and I have no will power with great food! When I found this recipe I am adding cabbage to my grocery list. I enjoy coleslaw maybe more than my husband but he is always a good sport. 
1 1/2 teaspoons minced parsley
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 head cabbage cored and shredded (About 2 1/2 pounds)
1 large carrot, shredded
Combine all dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend with a wire whisk. Refrigerate.
Combine the dressing with the carrots and cabbage. Mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. Stir while serving or the dressing will settle.
If you are making smaller batches, the dressing will keep up to one week in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kingdom Jewels

I Was Tagged
I received an email from the blogger Kingdom Jewels that I was tagged to photograph my refrigerator door. Being tagged is fun but exposing my refrigerator door. Well, I had to be honest. This is the photo of my uncensored refrigerator door. I will disclose the contents starting at the top left. Tom's children, Don and me holding Olivia, the Pizzorni girls from Florida, a photo of Olivia, Anna, and Charlotte, and a photo of myself with friends Zita and Beverly. Next row is a magnet with my niece's summer wedding information to save the date, Barbara with the nieces and nephews, Olivia's thank you note for the birthday gift, a friend's new baby, photos of Philip and Jacob. A compilation of notes and thank yous and a photo of the grandchildren of six years ago. All of this brings comfort to me daily.
The Google blog, Kingdom Jewels, is written by a young mother who grew up in Ohio with our children and now lives in Grand Rapids Michigan with her husband and three very talented children. Julia known as Jewels to her sisters has a special gift with photography and shares so much wisdom. I read her blog daily and find it so worthwhile. I hope you too will check her blog.

Flight Patterns

Flight Patterns
Tuesday morning I left my brother and sister-in-law's home at 4 a.m. to drive to the airport. I quickly regained my driving skills on the snow covered roads ahead of the snow plow. I drove 20 mph for the first 20 miles as the plows had not cleared the roads. The turnpike was slush covered and those trucks kept me on the right side of the highway with wipers running full speed. As they passed my car, whosh a spray of slush covered my car and windows.
I was interested in the television weather forecast of the previous evening learning the pattern of the winter storm and the possible effect on my flight back to California. I left Toledo airport and once airborne we flew through solid cloud cover to Chicago. My photos I think began around Iowa. The ground pattern appeared like a frosted window. I estimate the next photo may be Kansas with the puffy clouds. I figure the Rocky Mts. were the next two photos. When we approached our descent to San Diego I captured the mountains in east San Diego county. When I met Don at the airport, I was wearing wool slacks, long sleeve sweater and a full length wool coat. My Ohio attire was a constant reminder that I was back in San Diego. Don and I went for a stroll down the embarcadero where we had lunch and the last photo shows that beautiful blue sky. (A flight in photo from Ohio to San Diego.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Tribute To My Aunt And My Hometown

A Tribute To My Aunt Delores
Wednesday evening I learned that my aunt who had been in failing health had passed away. Expecting this, I had made a tentative plan that I would fly back to Ohio for the funeral. My aunt and my mother were such loving sisters all of their lives. During my mother's years of failing health my aunt was so supportive.
Her funeral service was a beautiful tribute to a woman who lived such a remarkable but spiritual life. The pastor who officiated, Fr. Frank Kehres is a cousin which gave his sermon and message a personal touch. My aunt was always early for morning mass. Her funeral was scheduled for 10:30 and it too began early. We were so lucky to have her in our life.
The custom in the parish church of my youth and my family where the funeral was conducted is to gather after the service for a lunch. I met classmates. For one lady I asked, "I should know her, what is her name?" Oh good Lord! She was in my high school class. Then another classmate still looks like her high school photo and so recognizable! So many cousins that I do not see anymore were there which made for a nice visit. It is so healing for the family to have the love and support of so many through this difficult time.
Saturday evening I was invited to dinner with a favorite cousin and her high school friend whom I also knew. What a great time. We spent the evening reminiscing. After Evelyn went home, my cousin and I remained awake until 1:15 a.m. laughing recalling memories from the days on our grandparent's farm. I spent the night at her home. Sunday morning we went to breakfast and then I drove to Norwalk to visit with the families of my husband. Later I attended a mass for my cousin's mother who had passed away one month previously. Monday I spent the day visiting and taking care of some shopping. My brief visit was too brief but a reminder that my heart is still in Ohio. What is the saying, you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl? There will always be a warm spot in my heart for the Ohio area of many years of my life.
My dear friend Lois sent me a photo of a Tuesday morning site. I wished I could have captured many of the sites visable along the way to the airport. My plane was scheduled for take off at 6:20 a.m. which was prior to day break. Mother Nature painted the most gorgeous black and white scenes stippled in a sea of fog. As I sat at the airport admiring the snow scene from the terminal I wished I could have captured it in a photo. Mother Nature painted one glorious sight just to remind me how beautiful Ohio can be in the winter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Three Cups Of Tea ..... A New York Times Best Seller!!!

Three Cups Of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
I have such great neighbors in San Diego. Tuesday morning my telephone rang. My neighbor Arlene called to see if I would like to attend a program at Qualcomm Auditorium. Greg Mortenson was speaking about his mission and his book, Three Cups of Tea. Earlier Tuesday morning I heard him speak on PBS and thought what a powerful mission. I had no idea then that I might get to meet him and hear him tell his story.
I do not want to share any of the story with you because I hope you too will read the book. I will explain the Three Cups Of Tea with you. In Pakistan when you do business when you are served one cup of tea you are a stranger. When you are served two cups you are a friend. When you are served three cups you have become family. This man's mission just leaves you in awe. Check out his website at

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Native San Dieagan

A Native San Diegan
On Monday my husband and I drove to downtown San Diego to a tourist spot called Old Town to enjoy lunch at our favorite Mexican Food Restaurant, La Pinata. Old Town is a restored park listed on The National Register of Historic Places and is where the City of San Diego was first settled. It was a cool day and we knew being so close to the ocean we had better dress a little warmer. The ocean temperature is fifty-seven at this time.
Across the isle from us sat a youthful girl in her early twenties. I knew from her attire she was native San Diegan. How do we tell? It is a distinguishable sight. It makes no difference how cold they describe the cooler temperatures meaning the low sixties and fifties, a native San Diegan never gives up wearing shorts. Click on the photo and see her fur lined vest and long sleeve sweater. Notice the bare legs and what she wears for shoes. This is "Native San Diegan"!

Monday, February 18, 2008

One Big Happy Family

One Big Happy Family
I received an email from our youngest daughter last evening that she was on a layover in Calgary. She works as a flight attendant for American Airlines. She had received a call at 3 a.m. Saturday morning for a three day flight assignment not knowing all of the details of the three days. Barbara had a month of "reserve" for the month of February. Being on "reserve" means you do not have an assignment but you are on call to cover illness or emergencies that arise. Everyone takes a turn with reserve.
Since there was a holiday break at school, our daughter-in-law decided to go to Ohio to visit with her family and friends and allow Katie an opportunity to visit Miami Of Ohio, the alma mater of son Tom and daughter-in-law Susan. Susan had mentioned last week when we visited that they were flying to Ohio on American Airlines on Saturday. Barbara was so surprised when she saw Susan, Katie, Jake, and Phil on her flight. Barbara said it was so much fun to have them on board. I am sure they did receive a little extra attention!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Just Another Beautiful Day In Rancho Bernardo!

Just Another Beautiful Day In Rancho Bernardo!

Yesterday as I looked over the canyon from our backyard I saw the evidence of vegetation covering the side of the mountain scarred by the Witch Fire. We learned yesterday on the local news that the first home in R.B. has been rebuilt four months after the previous home was destroyed by the fire. We read the news from the Ohio area where we spend summers and realize how busy they are either shoveling snow or mapping a route to avoid high waters. Thank God, it is just another beautiful day in Rancho Bernardo!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Onion Pie ..... Now Don't Think, "Oh That Sounds Awful!!!"

Onion Pie
In the late 1960's I first subscribed to a magazine which now has different owners and a different format. The magazine was and still is called Gourmet. I was always interested in trying something different. My husband is a good sport about trying any dish I make. Once in a great while he might say I wouldn't make that dish again meaning, it IS thumbs down! This 40 year old recipe was a favorite for him and our children. When I try a new recipe my husband doesn't care for, he will suggest a recipe using some of the ingredients that he likes better and maybe I could repeat that dish the next time! So you know where that first time recipe goes! This is a tried and true recipe that goes well with meat that does not have gravy. I shared this recipe with a friend who called me this morning to help me as somehow my copy of the recipe was misplaced.
1 cup finely ground cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups onions, finely sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
sprinkle paprika
Mix the melted butter with the finely ground cracker crumbs and press into a buttered pie dish. Saute the onions in 2 Tablespoons butter till transparent; spoon into pie dish. Mix the eggs, milk, salt and pepper and pour over the onions. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and paprika. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean or dry. Garnish with parsley, serve hot.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Beautiful View Of The Mountains

A Beautiful View Of Palomar Mountain
You may have heard the San Diego area had a day of BAD weather. It had a low of 40 with snow in the mountains. It gave us laughter as we listened to people on the TV weather segment describing the weather that hit the area yesterday. Don stated, "these people do not know what cold weather really is!" This is a view to the North. We rarely ever see snow at this elevation. This photo was taken from our back patio.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Veronica ..... Turning Twelve Today

Happy Birthday Veronica Grace
click on photo to enhance.
If you think turning twelve is what this BIG smile is all about, well that is just a part of it. Veronica was told by her parents, Anne and Greg, that when she was twelve she could get her ears pierced. The day has finally come!
Veronica was her parents Valentine in 1996. For many years I called her Veronica Valentine but with such a beautiful name we now call her Veronica Grace. We want to wish you a very special day and a Happy Birthday Veronica!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Barbara's Birthday Entree ..... Pasta Primavera

Barbara's Birthday Entree
Family tradition has always been that the celebrant chooses the menu. Son Tom and his wife Susan and family hosted the dinner while mom did the cooking. Farfalle which is the name of the pasta means butterfly in Italian. Most people call it bow tie pasta. Which ever you choose to call it, the pasta is so versatile. With oven roasted vegetables and a sauce, this dish is most delicious.
Vegetables of choice and I used,
small eggplants
Roma Tomatoes
Brussel Sprouts
Alfredo Sauce
Parmesan cheese, grated
Oven roast vegetables at 400 degrees. Place olive oil on a baking sheet with sides. Place chopped vegetables scattered on sheet. Don't over load the sheet as the vegetables will steam rather than roast. You want a nice caramelized effect. Stir frequently. I roasted my tomatoes and mushrooms separate because of the amount of liquid each contains. Keep vegetables warm.
Meanwhile bring to a boil a large pot of water, then add plenty of salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. When al dente, drain and add a slight amount of olive oil in serving bowl and add pasta. Stir to coat lightly. Add vegetables, Parmesan cheese, and sauce. Serve extra Parmesan cheese at table.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bananas Foster ..... The Dessert I Was First Served At Brennan's Restaurant And We Served At Barbara's Birthday Dinner.

Bananas Foster
Barbara's Birthday Dessert
In 1973 I spent three weeks in Dallas with my sister whose husband was very ill. She took me downtown for Brunch one day before going to the hospital. She chose Brennan's Restaurant. The original Brennan's is in New Orleans. We ordered Bananas Foster for dessert which was prepared table side with the flambe and all of the drama which was quite impressive. This is a quick dessert and has been a long time favorite. It can be made a little ahead and just reheated over low heat before serving.
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ripe but still firm bananas, peeled, halved crosswise and then lengthwise (into quarters)
1/4 cup banana liqueur
Vanilla ice cream for serving
In a large saute pan over medium heat, combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Add the banana slices and cook, turning once, until just tender, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Turn off flame or remove from heat, then add the banana liqueur the banana mixture. Using a long match or lighter, light the alcohol by placing the flame just inside the outer edge of the pan. Stand as far back as possible, keeping your face and hands away from the pan. The flame will be a faint blue and should extinguish in 5 to 10 seconds. Holding the pan handle with an oven mitt, gently shake the pan from side to side to coat the bananas with the sauce.
Scoop vanilla ice cream into individual bowls. Spoon some of the bananas and sauce over the ice cream, dividing evenly. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6
Note: I usually just add the liqueur for flavor depth and serve.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Barbara's Birthday!!!

Click on photos to enlarge
Happy Birthday Barbara!
It is official! Today is Barbara's 42nd birthday. Barbara is often called our Barbie Doll. There is a little history to Barbara's name. When we told the children that we would be having another baby, we asked if they wanted a sister or brother. Her two sister's reply was we just want a "Barbie Doll" which was the doll of choice of the mid '60's. Barbara was born at 6:36 p.m. on a Friday. When her dad arrived back home from the hospital to tell her sisters and brother they had a new sister, they clamored name her Barbie, name her Barbie. Don returned to the hospital asking if I cared if her name would be Barbara as the girls would be disappointed if she wasn't named Barbara. Her two older sisters have always shopped to buy her clothes just as the routine with the dolls. Saturday with sister Anne in San Francisco to celebrate the birthday, they went shopping for clothes! Just like days past with the real "Barbara Doll"!
The photos I have posted are Kindergarten 1971, Barbara the Purser for American Airlines, High School graduation, Jr. High Band concert, and the bottom is "everyone loves Aunt Barbie".

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday ..... A Day Of Rest

Sunday in San Francisco at St. Dominics Church
When we visit with daughter Barbara we attend her church. It is a beautiful Gothic style church built of Limestone on Steiner. The altar and art glass windows are a true work of art. The altar is carved wood with such unique detail. I always think it is unfortunate when something so priceless and a lost art is covered with paint but thankfully it is preserved and still there to view and appreciate.The windows could be Tiffany. The windows are just beautiful and sorry the photos do not give enough of the detail. The church built in 1873 represents the sacrifices of many generous church members who made this beautiful church possible. It stands today for many other generations to appreciate and use as a house of worship. I look at buildings built before 1906 which was the year of the great earthquake of San Francisco and amazingly how many still stand today.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Barbara and Another Birthday

Another day of Celebration!!!
Saturday was filled with activity. We started the day having a manicure and pedicure. The girls were getting me prepared for a marathon day of shopping. Shopping with the daughters can be compared to a measure of stamina and I admit to defeat.
We gathered with a couple of Barbara's friends and family friends for an evening at our favorite restaurant, Metro Kathmandu. If you visit San Francisco this restaurant is a must! 311 Divisadero is the address. The bottom photo is our birthday celebrant Barbara Jean .

Friday, February 8, 2008

Barbara Celebrates Another Birthday As The Family Gathers

Barbara Celebrates With A Family Gathering And A Raclette Party
Barbara celebrates another birthday next Monday. Our family gathered this weekend to help her begin the celebrations. Friday we started with a Raclette Dinner. I took a few photos without my memory card installed so I offered what turned out. I posted a Raclette Dinner in Switzerland on the blog January 13, 2008. Tomorrow evening we have dinner at Metro Katmandu with family and friends. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Green Bean And Fennel Salad With Pecans ..... A Great Winter Salad

Green Bean And Fennel Salad With Pecans
1 cup Pecan pieces
course salt and ground pepper
1 pound green beans trimmed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
3 medium fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds total) cored and sliced thin
fronds reserved (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Fill a bowl with ice water and set aside. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in oven until fragrant and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes, set aside. (Store up to 2 days in airtight container.
Place 1/2 inch of water in a large skillet with a lid. Bring to a boil; salt generously. Add green beans, cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until crisp tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to ice water. Drain, pat dry with paper towels. (Cover and refrigerate for up to 10 hours.)
In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil. Cover and refrigerate up to 10 hours. To serve, combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and toss with dressing, garnish with fronds if desired.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Apricot-Stuffed French Toast ...... A Different Twist To The Usual French Toast

Apricot-Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf Italian bread (about four inches in diameter), cut into 8 -1 inch thick slices.
3 tablespoons apricot jam
1/4 cup reduced fat cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low fat (1%) milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
pure maple syrup for serving
Using a paring knife, cut a horizontal slice to form a pocket in each slice of bread. In a bowl blend the jam and cream cheese. Spoon 1 Tablespoon mixture into each pocket.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cinnamon until combined. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. Lay the bread slices in the egg mixture letting them soak for 5 seconds on each side.
Place the slices in skillet; cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining bread, adding more butter to skillet as needed. Serve with maple syrup. Serves 4

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

February 5 ..... A Big Red Letter Day ... Happy Birthday Anna Alies!

Buon Compleano Anna!
There is a big celebration in Italy today! Our granddaughter Anna celebrates another birthday. She is nine happy years old! Everybody loves Anna! Anna is pictured with her Grandma and Grandpa, and Laura, Nona Lugina, her friend Julia, and her family; Mom, Dad, and sister Laura! Anna we wish we were there to join in the celebrating. Hope you have a wonderful birthday! Happy Birthday Anna dear!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates ..... A Delicious Appetizer ..... So Easy, Yet So Delicious!

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates
Joann has great recipes she obliged to share. At the birthday party we had for Barbara, Joann's appetizer was a hit.
Pitted Dates
Smoked Salted Almonds
Thin sliced bacon
Stuff each date with a smoked salted almond. Cut bacon strips in lengths long enough to wrap dates about 1 1/2 times. Place a cooling rack set in a baking dish and place dates on rack with bacon end secured on bottom. Bake in a 375 oven till bacon is crisp. Serve warm.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Broccoli Salad ..... Refreshing And SOOOOO Tasty

Birthdays come and go but the celebration continues! Last evening our son Tom and his wife Susan hosted their friends with a dinner party. Needless to say the food was great! About three-fourths of the way through the meal, I thought what am I doing sitting here eating when I could be photographing these dishes and publishing the recipes. Connie prepared this salad and oh was it outstanding!
4 cups chopped broccoli flowerets
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 cup finely chopped green grapes, juice drained before adding to salad
1 cup finely chopped red grapes, juice drained before adding to salad
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3/4 pound bacon, chopped and fried crisp
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
Stir to combine ingredients. Prior to serving, shake well to mix and pour over combined salad ingredients.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Egg-White Omelet With Spinach And Cottage Cheese ..... A Healthy Start To Your Day!

Egg-White Omelet With Spinach and Cottage Cheese
This recipe will start your day off with a high protein, low fat omelet. A GOOD Choice!
3 large egg whites
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup packed baby spinach
1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites and 1 Tablespoon water. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
In a medium non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and add spinach, salt and pepper. Cook till wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Add egg whites; cook until nearly set, using a flexible spatula to pull sides of omelet toward center as uncooked egg-whites run underneath, 1 to 2 minutes.
Dollop cottage cheese on top of omelet, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Gently slide omelet onto serving plate, folding it over itself by flipping the skillet slightly. Serves 1

Friday, February 1, 2008

Pasta Troife ..... My Favorite Pasta Dish

Pasta Troife

This dish is my favorite pasta dish. Italians have so many ways to prepare pasta without the use of tomatoes. Many Americans think of tomato sauce with oregano as "Italian". It may be one way of the hundreds of ways the Italians prepare and eat their pasta.
Troife pasta
diced potatoes, cut into 1/2"dice
fresh green beans cut into 1" pieces
basil pesto
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Boil a large pot of water, when boiling add salt. (Salt added to cold water pits your pans.) Add the pasta, potatoes and green beans to cook. Cook according to the pasta directions. Cooking time is about 12 minutes. Save about 1/2 cup of cooking water, then drain contents of pot. Place in pasta bowl and toss with pesto that has been diluted slightly with olive oil. If needed add a slight amount of cooking water. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.