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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Sun Tea

Today is one of the first really warm days this year, and we just came back in from a longish walk. I’m hot and thinking a big glass of my grandmother’s sun tea would be just the thing. I don’t actually have that tea because I did not think that far ahead, but if anyone else is in a similar mood, here’s the recipe (not that you really need it):

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Grandma’s Sun Tea

(Dorothea Johnson)

6-8 tea bags

Water

Sunshine

  1. Add water and tea bags to half-gallon bottle (old milk jars work well). Set outside in full sun for the afternoon, preferably between the driveway and marigold border in full view of any approaching grandchildren. Enjoy with sugar or maple syrup and a slice of something tangy.

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Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

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Yesterday’s post has me thinking of Spring.

Maybe I should be thinking about new projects and ways to be productive, but I’m about to go get a Covid test and I’ve got work to do and it’s lunchtime, so instead I’m thinking about food.

Today that means I’m thinking about stuffed grape leaves. Our neighbor has a grapevine that has reached out to us and now covers a significant part of the fencing in the back. The vine is starting to bud and soon we’ll have new growth. 

My culinarily-talented brother gave me this recipe years ago. I love citrus so I serve these with egg-lemon sauce, but adjust as you like.


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Stuffed Grape Leaves

2 lb. ground lamb
1 large onion
⅓ cup tomato paste
½ tsp. each thyme, basil, garlic powder
1 tsp. each oregano, dillweed, salt
1 cup cooked rice
1½ oz. Pernod
Grape leaves (canned or bottled)

  1. Dice onion and sauté in a little butter until tender. Add tomato paste, then lamb, stirring constantly as it cooks.
  2. When lamb is almost cooked through, remove from heat, add spices, then stir in rice and Pernod.
  3. Drain excess fat and refrigerate until use.
  4. To assemble, lay out a grape leaf with the stem pointing toward you. Place a spoonful of stuffing at the bottom of the leaf, and roll leaf around it, working away from you. Tuck in the sides of the leaf as you go.
  5. Heat in microwave for a minute or two just prior to serving. May be dressed with fresh lemon juice or egg-lemon sauce.


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Photo by David on Pexels.com

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We won’t have a night out at the pub or parades but Chicago went ahead and dyed the river green to cheer people up. Good for them. 

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I’m remembering a family trip to Ireland, all of us crowded into a van that barely fit on most of the roads. It rained half the time, it was cold, and I’m never going to like blood sausage, but that paled in comparison to the overall experience.

Driving down tunnels of arched trees and rolling landscapes of the brightest, most verdant greens. Hiking through castle ruins, watching the ocean from Dingle’s shores, sleeping in a convent, the people, the music, and of course, the beer.

So here’s to my Irish relatives! Thanks for letting us share your charm, humor, stories, and of course, beer;) We’re the lucky ones.

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Photo by Harris Vo on Unsplash

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Saturday mornings always remind me of cartoons and classical music.

We didn’t have a television when I was growing up (or junk food like sugary cereals), which was great for reading and not quite so great for social integration. (This was before there was a smartphone in every pocket, terabytes of entertainment at every turn, and the splintering of society. But I digress.) 

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I did manage to absorb a decent amount of after-school programming and advertising jingles at friends’ houses, and Saturday morning cartoons when we visited our grandparents.

They had a cute little house in Chicago, with a TV room in the back. That’s where I slept when we visited, and I loved it because it meant I could wake up early and start the day with a deliciously sweet diet of cartoons. My brother would join me soon after, and we’d watch until the rest of the house was up. 

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Most Saturdays, though, we’d wake up at home. What those experiences had in common was classical music. Cartoons have used classical scores for decades. My father is a big fan, and likes to start the day with classical music, played loud. Especially on Saturdays. One of the first albums he bought us as kids was Peter and the Wolf.

To this day, I can’t hear that Prokofiev tune without smiling.

I wasn’t the only one indoctrinated by the classical/cartoon connection, of course. Many of you were right there with me. Click through for a fun thread that identifies a number of the more recognizable pieces.

Or perhaps you are looking for a 2+ hour collection of cartoon music? Then this is your lucky day!

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Since I’m thinking of my father and music, here’s a link I think he might enjoy:

I have no idea what most of these shows were (United States Steel Hour?), but I hope that he does, and that some of this music brings a smile to his face, too.

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Happy Saturday!

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

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In general, I like being home but these days I’ll admit, at times my thoughts stray to travel. As in, “Oh yes, once upon a time we used to go places and see things” and “There was a whole world out there, remember?”

And then I ran across scans of an old travel journal and had the fun of paging through the journey. Visiting the Swedish royal palace, discovering my brother’s previously hidden talent as a navigator, outrunning a swarm of mosquitoes, champagne in Stockholm, eating fish cheeks, taking tea in a converted windmill.

It was all lovely, even the insecty bits. And I’m pretty sure I’m not just saying that because travel has become one of those mythical ideas, like unicorns and shaking hands with strangers.

At the very back of the journal I rediscovered my father’s bird list. I think it was made after the trip, and there’s something precious about our layered handwriting, anchoring our shared memories to the page.

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Female European Marsh Harrier
Female European Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Paco Gómez, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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I’m getting back to a more regular writing schedule after this summer (ok, year) of nuttiness, but that’s not all I’m doing. Last week’s project was to make a fleece shawl.


The shawl works as a wrap, blanket or pillow. It’s reversible, washable and nigh-on indestructible. It’s good for foggy mornings or chilly hospital rooms. It also has custom embroidery with what could be the motto for this crazy year. I made it for my aunt, a wonderful, free-wheeling, tough-as-nails woman who carved her own path to San Francisco decades ago and never left.

In related news, cancer sucks.

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SaveSave

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I had a post in mind for today that I thought would be cool but, sadly, it’s not ready. Rather than go with something that’s not right, I’m setting it aside until I can do a good job or come up with something better. So in the end, what did I choose as Today’s Thing I Like? Popcorn:)

Here’s an excerpt from the family cookbook to tell you why.

Popcorn
My whole family can make this with their eyes closed, but Dad really deserves credit for setting new and higher standards for butter and salt consumption. He is blessed with a genetic tolerance for such unhealthy behavior; his blood pressure and cholesterol levels are lower than mine.

For years he’d head to the kitchen after dinner, and a few minutes later I’d hear pop pop! as hot oil turned the first kernels inside out. A few minutes more and we’d be piled on the couch with huge bowls of popcorn and masses of paper towels.

There was no television in the house growing up but at some point we acquired a copy of Star Wars and a video monitor. This was back before Blockbusters popped up down the street (or closed down, for that matter), and there were certainly no DVD players.

The tape was black and white and we watched it on a Beta machine. (Don’t remember Beta? That’s funny, no one else does either.) My brother and I watched that tape until it died, literally came apart from use. To this day I can still reel off an annoying amount of dialog and get excited when I see Star Wars in color. What could be better than a cold drink, a hot bowl of popcorn, and reciting C3PO’s lines with people you love?

 

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For my mother and anyone else facing a challenge today:

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
― Confucius

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I came across my In Case of Emergency folder the other day. You know, the one where you list your contacts and funeral preferences and the user names for all those Gmail accounts. Yeah, that folder. I also found a note, written ages ago, and decided it was stupid to wait until my own demise (or the heat death of the universe, whichever comes first) to say it, because You Just Never Know.

Here at the end of another year seems like a good time to share.

To My Family,

I probably haven’t said this often enough, certainly not as often as you all deserve.

I love you. Always have, always will. You are all so interesting and complicated and heart-achingly wonderful.

So… there:)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens has premiered and the hype it is a-ramping! I’m excited. Really excited, like Fanboys excited, but I can’t see the movie just yet. Why not? Why am I not suited up in a Han Solo outfit (complete with super cool hip holster) and posting this from the ticket line at my local theatre? Because Star Wars isn’t just my thing, it’s a family thing.

See, I grew up without a television. My father had a minor (read major) TV problem and realized that having one meant watching one. All the time. So no TV. What we did have was a black and white lab monitor and a tape of Star Wars. On Betamax:)

We watched that tape a lot. Until the video track died, actually, and for a while after that. Most nights after dinner, Dad would make giant bowls of popcorn spackled together with butter and salt and we’d settle on the couch for the movie.

The. Movie.

Yeah, I was that kid, the geeky one who could quote the whole thing. (Droid dialog included, of course. I can’t tell you what it means to have your mostly secret childhood obsession become the new cultural darling, but I may not have to. Maybe you were that geeky kid too. Awesome, right?)

The original Star Wars was a great movie but it was also an anchor in turbulent times. My parents split up around then, my mother had health issues, I moved to a new school. The usual kinds of transitions children go through, and need a foundation to weather well.

Star Wars, and the bond that formed with my brother and father around science fiction and fantasy, was a big part of that anchor. It’s also a big part of why I write speculative fiction. In the way only fiction can, the movie proved that the good guys can win, that wrongs can be righted, and that a scrappy band of rag-tag rebels can change the course of history. (Also that parsecs are a measure of time, support garments aren’t necessary in space, and that no matter what Obi-Wan says, stormtroopers can’t shoot worth a damn. Hey, nothing’s perfect;)

My father also read us Tolkien, and when the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies came out we all went together. Now those movies are done but we have a new hope (see what I did there?;). This year I’m going home for Christmas, and for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But, that means I won’t be able to see the movie for ten days. In the meantime? There’s time for a bit of fun:

So have a great time at the movie whenever you can get there, but #nospoilers please!

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