"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." ~George Bernard Shaw

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time." ~Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

December 31,2010 7:02 am

This year on my blog I will be posting each week 7 new photographs
That's a whopping 365 images folks....not sure if they will be
portraits or landscapes or ? But I hope this photo stretch for me will
be intriguing and entertaining for you.
Happy New Year! and here's the link:

December 31,2010 7:03 am

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Four Haikus -Magpie Tales #46

Two empty hands

Palms up lacking promise

Lacking care



Warm soft gloves

Keep lovers hands cozy while

Clasping mine



Two lost gloves

One right - one left make a pair

When desperate



Left behind

and on the other hand

you're right
Happy New Year !

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas of Today and Christmases Past

Christmas of Today

and Christmases Past

Today is much simpler

With only stockings to fill

But I miss the childish chuckles

In the early morning still

Of sweet children opening gifts

Of toys so wanted and admired

Whispered softly in Santa's ear

What those little hearts desired

And in that early morning

As parents yawn and smile

They watch their lovely children

Past remembrances beguile

Thursday, December 23, 2010

XYZ-last of the ABC recipes

XYZ is for...... Christmas recipes, Yams  and Zest!

Above is the Olive Bread that Grace made.
It was very tasty! Thanks Grace!
This year I am trying out a variety of new recipes-
some are vegan and some vegetarian. We aren't
vegetarians per se, but we have found that the older
we get the less meat we eat the better we feel.
I am also including the revised Steamed Carrot Pudding
from my maternal Grandmother. No longer does it have
suet in it (yuck) -but just a bit of butter in place. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Quinoa Pilaf with Dried Cranberries
and Toasted Almonds
serves 3-4
1 T olive oil
4 scallions white and green parts separated
and thinly sliced
1 cup Quinoa rinsed and drained
2 cups low sodium veggie broth
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds
In medium nonstick skillet with a lid,
heat the oil over med heat. Add white parts
of onion and cook, stirring constantly for 1 min.
Add Quinoa and cook, stirring constantly
for 2 min until dry. Carefully add the broth,
cranberries, salt and pepper; bring to a boil
over high heat. Reduce heat to med low, cover
and simmer for about 20 min til liquid is asorbed.
Remove from heat, stir in almonds and reserved onion.
Cover and let stand for 5 min. Uncover and stir/toss
well to mix ingredients. Serve warm.


Brown Rice and Lentils
serves 4-6
3 1/2 cups low sodium veggie broth
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup lentils rinsed and picked over
3/4 cup brown rice
2 T olive oil
1T onion powder
( I am using 1/4 finely chopped onion)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
(I am using 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic)
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
In a medium pot bring all ingredients to a boil
over high heat. Reduce heat to med-low to low,
cover and simmer until rice/lentils are tender.
Stirring occasionally about 45 minutes.

Fiery Sweet Potatoes(Yams)
10-12 servings
Time about 2 hours
5 pounds sweet potatoes/yams
1 cup coconut milk
1T Thai red curry paste
1/2 c dark brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter
1 t salt
1. Heat oven to 375 F. Bake potatoes on a baking sheet
until very soft-about 1 hour. When cool enough to
handle, peel and mash.
2. Heat coconut milk with curry paste over low heat.
Mix coconut mixture, 1/2 the sugar, 1/2 the butter
and all the salt into the potatoes. Keep warm until
ready to serve or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
3. At least 30 min before serving, 
heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Put potatoes into baking dish, 
cover with foil and bake for 20 min.
Uncover potatoes, dot with remaing butter and sugar and
broil until brown and crusty on top, checking often so
they do not burn!!!!

Stuffed Winter Squash with Long Grain
and Wild Rice, Pecans and Cranberries
makes 4 main-dish servings
(or you can cut squash in 1/4's for 8 side sevings)
2 medium Delicata or Acorn squash- 1 1/2 pounds each
halved,seeds and membrane removed
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 T dry sherry
1 large garlic clove chopped
2 1/3 cup low sodium veggie broth
1 6oz package long-grain white and wild rice (3/4 cup)
(do not use seasoning packet)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup nuts* or sunflower seeds**
(*pecans,walnuts or slivered almonds)
(**use toasted sunflower seeds if some are allergic to nuts)
2 T chopped fresh Sage
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425F (220c)
cut a small slice on bottom of squash halves
to keep from wobbling. Place squash cut sides down
in a shallow dish just big enough to hold all
in a single layer. Add about 1/2 inch of water, cover
and bake for about 30-45 min til fork tender. Remove
from oven, pour off water and turn cut sides up. Set aside.
Reduce oven temp to 350F (175c)
While squash is baking heat oil over med heat in medium
sauce pan. Add onion and cook stirring til soft about 3 min,
 add sherry and garlic-increase heat to high-cook stirring constantly til sherry has evaporated about 1 min. 
Add the broth, rice mixture, cranberries,pecans
(sunflower seeds if allergic to nuts), 
sage,salt and pepper. 
Reduce heat to med-low to low and cover simmering
for appx 25-30 minutes. The rice shoould be moist not dry.
Remove, let stand overed 5 min. Uncover, fluff with fork.
At this point everything can be cooled
 and refrigerated up to 24 hours before
 continuing recipe. Do add 10 minutes or so
to final baking time. 
Mound equal amounts of rice into squash halves, bake uncovered until heated through appx 10 minutes.

Grandmothers Steamed Carrot Pudding

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t each ground cloves and nutmeg
2 t soda
2 t salt
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 T melted butter
2 cups grated potatoes
2 cps grated carrots
2 cups chopped raisins or 1 cup each dates and raisins
1/2 cup hot water
Mis all dry ingredients in large bowl. Either hand grate or use
food processor for grating potatoes and carrots.
Chop raisins ( and I buy pre-chopped dates)and mix with
grated carrots and potatoes. Mix dry and wet ingredients together add hot water and melted butter 
and mix thoroughly. Put in well greased mold, 
cover with foil if it doesn't have a cover
and steam for 3 hours.*** see below for steaming
Serve with:

Hard Sauce 
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

( You don't have a mold? 
Use large 28 oz cans in place of a mold)
Leave at least 1 inch at top of mold to allow for rising.

***Place steamer rack in large pot. Place pudding mold on rack. If you don't have a rack place several canning rings to cover bottom of the pan. Fill pot with enough water to come halfway up sides of mold. Bring water to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and steam pudding until tester inserted near center comes out clean, adding more boiling water as needed to maintain level, about 3 hours. Using oven mitts as aid, remove mold from pot. Uncover and let stand 10 minutes. Cut around top center and sides of pudding to loosen. Turn pudding out onto rack and cool 20 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead.) Cool completely. Return to mold; cover and chill. 

Resteam 45 minutes to heat through, then turn out of mold.) Transfer pudding to platter. Cut pudding into wedges; serve with the Hard sauce.
ps: So, now you are asking- where's the Zest? 
Hah- the zest is in how you approach your life and your cooking... I'll take the zesty
approach to life and food. Spice it up! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jingles Poetry Potluck

Week 15 theme: reflections, interpretations, and musings.

Reflecting upon this past year
Over mistakes made and
Good deeds gone well
Interpreting words spoken
Were they cruel or just the truth
Musing over mistakes, deeds and words
I realize it's up to me
To improve or ignore

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just Do It!

Yeah...I'm sick of saying Happy Holidays!
...so far the Political Correctness Police
haven't messed with Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Six Word Saturday

The Cage Free dog boarding bus

New kitty has changed our life

New blog for fun and games

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Magpie Tales #45- an Early Christmas Gift

Not being the religious sort I was a bit stuck on what
I would write for this weeks Magpie Tales. But then
I thought about the new little life that had just come into
our home. A darling little kitty had been roaming our
neighborhood some days back and we were going from
door to door trying to find her family. After a few days
we realized that indeed she was a stray cat and most
likely had been abandoned. We had been catless for a
few years- resisting getting another as we figured
that at some point a cat would choose us and she did!
So rather than write about Christmas I decided I would
write about my favorite saint...Saint Francis!

On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and one of the two patrons of Italy (with Catherine of Siena), and it is customary for Roman Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. It has been argued that no one in history was as dedicated as Francis to imitate the life, and carry out the work, of Christ in Christ’s own way.

Love for all
Small creatures and the earth at his feet
Blessed humility

And here is our darling little kitty....no name yet.
Any suggestions? She is all gray with one white spot on her chest.
I want to call her "Spot", but Russell says that is a silly name for such a beautiful cat.
*****please note that the kitty now has a name-because of her loud purr we are calling her Evy which is short for Evinrude! Thanks everyone for all your great suggestions! Merry Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas? Ha Ha Ha Ho Ho Ho

My toes know it's almost Christmas..............

My goodness Grandma what big teeth you have!
(those are actually bear teeth...not a doggie there
on the floor)

Russell posing at Froelick Gallery's Holiday Party

Here's a photo of our backyard
taken during Christmas 2008
when it snowed so much no one
could get any where and I called
it the "Home Alone Christmas"
and below is a hilarious take on
Christmas by Steve Martin.
I totally stole this idea from
a fellow blogger and here is her link:


She has a great blog-read it-it's witty, sharp, acidic and irreverant-I love it!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Magpie #44....and 44.5

Snowy Days

Let's grab our sleds

and head for the hills

The really steep ones

With thrills and spills

Remember all the fun?

Come on-let's take a run!

When I was a child living in Cambridge, Massachusetts I went to a school that actually had sleds and such in the recess shed. What glorious times we all had piling onto the sleds and sliding down the hills. We might end up being soaked and shivering from the snow, but we'd go back into the warm school happy and relaxed from such wonderful play. Good old Flexible Flyers!

Here's some silly bits.... just for fun....

Thrashing through the snow
In a Red two person sleigh
O'er the hills we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on parkas ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sledding song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a Red two person sleigh hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a Red two person sleigh


Wreck the hills with screams so jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season for lots of folly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our snow apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Roll out the ancient sledding barrel,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing fire before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Drink the cocoa and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry leisure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
As I fall off the snowy pleasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Dreams, Visions, Reveries-Potluck Poetry

Dreams, Visions and Reveries



W is for Winter Squash Gnocci

This is one of our winter favorites as a main course or as a side dish to accompany chicken, pork or even fish. We grew Delicata squash this year and had a bumper crop, but any winter squash will work!

Winter Squash Gnocci
1 Butternut, Acorn or Delicata squash (about 1-1/2pounds)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Sage Butter Sauce
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
12 fresh sage leaves
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, through the stem end, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Roast until tender, about 35 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard the seeds. Remove squash flesh (pulp) and place in a sieve. Set the sieve over a bowl to catch liquid and allow squash to drain in a refrigerator overnight. NOTE: Some squash does not need this step-not all are watery after baking.
The next day, puree the squash in a food processor. Transfer puree to a bowl and add the eggs and salt, stirring to combine. Add the flour and blend thoroughly. The dough should feel sticky and soft.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a teaspoon, form walnut-sized pieces of dough and push them off the spoon and into the water with your fingers. Alternately, use a pastry bag and a small knife.NOTE: don't worry about being precise about the shape of the gnocci. I just take a tablespoon and scoop up some squash and slide it off into the boiling water.

Cook the gnocchi in small batches, 10 to 15 pieces. Once the gnocchi have risen to the surface, poach for exactly 2 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
Sage Butter Sauce Prep
Place butter in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the foam subsides and the butter begins to lightly brown. Add the sage leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add the gnocchi to the butter, brown each side slightly turning over to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan ( and freshly chopped Italian parsley if available) and serve immediately.
Partner this with a salad and bread and you have a wonderful meal fit for Royalty!

U is for Unbelievably Easy Cookies......... and V is for Vegan

(Above is a photo of the shortcake cookies)

Our good friends Bill and Ewana are both superb cooks.
Here is one of the latest recipes they shared with me:
Molasses Ginger Cookies
2/3 cup canola oil
4 T Molasses
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
Mix ingredients together. Add 2 cups flour
Mix with spoon or hands and knead.
Roll into balls and dip in sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes or longer.
and as a bonus here's another easy cookie recipe:
Cranberry Walnut Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen
1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar sifted ( I didn't)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour sifted ( I didn't)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries ( I didn't)
1/2 cup chopped finely walnuts ( I DID!)
1. beat butter,powdered sugar and vanilla with wooden spoon til smooth
Add flour and salt, sti til just combined. Stir in cranberrries and nuts.
Divide dough into quarters.
2. On parchment paper or waxed paper, shape each portion into a log
and wrap. Chill 30 minutes or up to one day.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With a sharp knife slice dough in 1/4" slices.
4. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet ( I reused paper I used for chilling)
and bake 20-22 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets and transfer to wire racks.
Store in an airtight cookie tin. ( Yeah right as if they'll last a day...burp)
Now...onto vegan .....it really isnt that difficult.
Baked potato and steamed broccoli with a nice green salad on the side=Vegan just leave off the bacon bits, butter and sour cream on the potato :-) Substitute chopped green onions and diced avocado on your potatoAlign Center
Garlic Spagetti is a perfect vegan dish=saute in olive oil til almost carmelized garlic, crimini mushrooms and onions while cooking your egg free pasta of choice drain pasta and immediately stir in sauteed veggies. Spice it up with red pepper flakes and enjoy.
Serve with a grain rich bread and a salad. Yummy

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Magpie #43 Snow's Up!

First snowflakes
Softly fallen from the sky
Look for happy feet