About the blog

Welcome to my blog. This is a place where, as time allows, I will post comments, inspirational words, favorite things and short essays about daily life. I get to meet and interview interesting people through my job, so why not share some of it with all of you? If you like what you see, please forward a link to your friends and family.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Live like an otter ... well, sort of

One day last week when I was getting ready for work I looked out the window and saw otters playing on the pier. I live on a small lake in the Houston suburbs and we have plenty of wildlife: geese and ducks, herons and egrets, fish, turtles and the occasional stray cat. But otters? Never.

So it was really exciting to see four of them belly-flopping, diving and spiraling into the late from the pier and dock. I stood there in my thick furry bathrobe and grinned from ear to ear while watching them.

Here you can see three of the four otters.

When they left I was so disappointed. They brought a little fun to my life and then -- poof! -- it was gone. I suppose I could live vicariously through the otters in the photo, but it might be smarter to just inject a little bit of otter-dom to my life.

So it's a new year and it's time to have a little more fun. Do a belly flop (of some sort) when you feel like being silly. Dive in head first to take on your fears. Try a spiral dive now and then. 

For me, it means I'll try new things, stress less about work and devote more time to taking care of mind body and soul. 

Not sure what will happen next, but I'm thinking that living more like an otter is going to feel great.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Change of seasons

This was my birthday weekend and it might have been my best ever. I had recently decided that I need to make more of an effort to live in the moment. I find that I'm so rushed all of the time, always thinking about all the work ahead of me or everything that isn't getting done that I just don't savor what I have.

Lakewood Pastor Joel Osteen recently told me in an interview -- about his book "Break Out!" -- that you need to wake up each day reminding yourself of all the good things in your life. So that's what I'm doing. Today I am thankful for my husband Steve; we had a nice dinner out Friday night on my birthday. I am also thankful for my friends who had a nice birthday party for me Saturday night.

Then a cold front came through so the temperature dropped quite a bit and it was as close to what, in Indiana, we call Indian summer. This is what my birthdays used to feel like: a special day in my favorite season of the year, fall. So I am thankful for this nice little break in the weather.

On top of that I was interviewed on a radio show (thank you, Cleverly Stone) and later had a book signing at Barnes and Noble (thank you, Brian) to promote my book, "Sunday Dinners." Now it's Sunday night but I'm going to savor what I have left of this beautiful weekend.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

From my garden to ... a jar

I suppose it just doesn't sound right to say that I picked fresh jalapeño and bell peppers to turn them into a pepper jelly I can enjoy later. Fresh garden produce is meant to be enjoyed right now, full of nutrition and free of chemicals ... right?

Well, I had some peppers ready to be picked and I've been wanting to try my hand at pepper jelly. When I lived in Indiana I never would have thought of making pepper jelly. For one thing, I wouldn't have known what to do with it! But since moving to Texas 13 years ago I've developed an appreciation for much spicier food and last year I discovered this spicy-sweet treat. I'm sure there are endless possibilities for it, but so far my favorite ways to enjoy it are on cream cheese and a cracker or on baked chicken. I need to find more ways to use it because I'm getting tired of cheese and crackers.

What sounds good?
This pepper jelly was made with jalapeño and bell peppers, cider vinegar, pectin and, of course, sugar.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New friends and new recipes

When you make new friends there's always a chance you'll get new recipes. I have the good fortune of meeting new people all of the time in my job at the Houston Chronicle. I edit our food, religion and health coverage, so I meet a variety of people.

Recently I met two very dynamic women in Houston -- Loring Goldberg and Marci Weinstein -- because the women's group at their temple, Congregation Emanu El, recently produced a new cookbook. Certainly it has some dishes appropriate for their important religious holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah or Passover. And you won't find pork or shellfish recipes either. But there are more than 400 recipes in this darling cookbook "The Incredible Edibles of the Congregation Emanu El Sisterhood," so there are plenty of recipes that would appeal to anyone anywhere.

When I interviewed the women about the book, they were also prepared for a photo shoot and had several dishes, including my new favorite salad: Kale Salad with Ginger and Pepitos and Citrus Vinaigrette. Kale is hearty and nutritious but can be a little tough, so this salad is best if you make it and let it sit in the fridge a day or two. In fact, it can last several days in the fridge -- if you don't gobble it all up too quickly.

So I'm going to share the recipe.

Kale Salad with Ginger and Pepitos and Citrus Vinaigrette

2 bunches kale (12-14 ounces), washed and dried
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
A few twists of freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons canola oil

Add in, to taste:
Dried cranberries
Crystallized ginger, minced
Roasted pepitos (pumpkin seeds)
Roasted slivered almonds

1. Strip the kale leaves from the stems and discard stems. Finely shred the leaves. Place in a serving bowl.
2. To make the dressing, whisk the shallots, salt, pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, orange juice, honey and oils in a small bowl until emulsified or place all dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake until emulsified.
3. Add enough dressing to coat the kale llightly. Massage the dressing into the kale leaves with your hands to soften the leaves. Add in cranberries, ginger, pepitos and almonds and toss. Store in the refrigerator and serve cold.