Thursday, October 28, 2010

Driving Miss Daisy

My good friend Maureen asked me to go to see Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway.

She had asked me several weeks ago and I said yes.

When I woke up yesterday morning I started crying. TBHITW was my New York guy. He knew all the trains and subways and the best places to eat. I almost called Maureen to cancel.

But I didn't. I showered, took some deep breaths and told myself I could do this.

We navigated the trains like pro's. We arrived early enough to have a cocktail before the show.

I had not done any research on the play (of course I had seen the movie years ago) so imagine my delight and surprise when we arrived at the theater and the marquee read:

Driving Miss Daisy
Vanessa Redgrave
James Earl Jones

Be still my pounding heart! What a thrill to see living legends perform. Ms. Redgrave's grace and poise, Mr. Jones silken voice... Heaven.

After the show Maureen had made reservations at a beautiful Italian Restaurant close to the theater. We enjoyed a lovely meal with a shared bottle of wine. There were a few tears, but also some laughter. More laughter than tears. 

Last night when I laid down in bed I realized that for the first time in many, many weeks I had a smile on my face. It was a good day.

Thank you Maureen, my dear Irish friend. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fork and Cork Weekend and Olive Tapenade

My annual Women's Wine Weekend (notice, there is no H in wine) was this past weekend. I didn't know if I could go. I knew that I COULD go - I didn't know if I would be able to handle going. But I went. And this year the 16 year old kidadult came along.

My friend Michele's farm offers many things a young man can occupy his time with.
He went target shooting with a bow and arrow.
He drove a tractor.
He went out deer hunting with Andy and Andy (Michele's husband and son).
He took a lot of good hearted ribbing from nine women.
And he got to spend time with Jenna.

Jenna is six months younger than Zach. They have known each other all their lives.

I decided that they should get married one day.

Don't they make a cute couple? I think arranged marriages are making a comeback.

Here a few pictures of the other "players" of the weekend:

Got Apples?

Michele told me this turkey is a pet. I named him Thanksgiving

Duck anyone?
The Fork and Cork was fun. There were about 60 local wineries and restaurants in a big pavilion. All of the food was paired with a local wine. MMMM... the cheese, the bread, the wine! There was even homemade wine ice cream. 

I did pretty good until I realized that all the women, either in the morning, or the evening would call home to chat with their husbands for a few minutes. Last year I did the same thing. This year I turned my cell phone off. I had no one to call. It's the little things.

Olives are a great accompaniment to wine and cheese. Here's a simple, earthy, olive tapinade. Serve it with some rustic bread and a hearty red or big, oaky Chardonnay.

Olive Tapenade

1 cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup small green olives
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
2 cloves garlic
1 anchovy fillet
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Using on/off pulse button, process until coarsely chopped and blended. Stir in the olive oil or process in one quick whirl. 

Serve on lightly toasted baguette slices with a smear of goat cheese or simply top a rustic type cracker and eat. The tapenade will keep for a week tightly covered in your refrigerator. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How To Be Alone

I had discovered Andrea Dorfman many months ago but with different eyes watched this video on Aloneness today. It spoke to me.

What is speaking to you today?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Boy Becomes A Man and Apple Eggrolls

I have a garden shed. TBHITW built it for me years ago. I wrote about it here.

I love that shed. I keep all my gardening supplies it it. Pots, soil, a small rototiller, spades and shovels and tomato cages.

Last winter some very clever squirrels ate through the roof in the back corner (where we couldn't see the damage) and made a lovely winter nest. Oh how warm they must have been all winter long. They had hauled in all manner of comfy leaves and twigs and had even cached a nice supply of acorns and bird seed. Imagine my surprise (and theirs) when I opened the shed in the spring and found them all nestled in warm and dry in the back corner. A whole little family. Hmmm...

They moved out as soon as the babies went off to college (or wherever squirrel babies go in the spring). All summer long TBHITW would say, "I've got to fix that roof".. well, he never got around to it.

This past weekend the 16 year old kidadult decided to tear off the old roof and put on a new one. He measured and thought and measured some more. On Saturday morning he asked me to drive him to The Home Depot. He had a list of roofing supplies he needed.

We bought plywood and tar paper and shingles and nails. He even bought some chicken wire to lay down so those clever squirrels couldn't eat through the roof again. I don't know how he knew how to do all this. Maybe he is more clever than a squirrel?

He worked all day Saturday and into Sunday. He tore off the old roof and nailed down new wood.

He got out the saw horses and the circular saw and measured and cut (I couldn't watch that part)

Then he shingled the entire thing.

Who is this child?

Yesterday he never made his bed or picked up his dirty clothes or wet towels from the floor. Today, he is rebuilding a shed roof. Hmmm... I think my little is growing into a man.

Apple Eggrolls: (makes 4)

It is high apple season around here. I have canned 12 quarts of spiced apples and 6 quarts of apple sauce. We eat an apple a day and I still have apples in bowls, in the refrigerator and on the counter. Since it is just the two of us a pie is too much. I think these rolls are the perfect substitute when a pie is too big.

1 large apple (your choice) peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Generous pinch cinnamon
1 teaspoon flour
4 egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add the apples and saute until just a bit soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the apples and cook for about 30 more seconds to thicken sauce. Cover and chill.
When apples have cooled, spoon a generous amount onto each egg roll wrapper, wrap up like an envelope.
Fry each egg roll until golden. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and serve warm. Preferably to a boy about to become a man.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The NYC Marathon and Cancer

Some of my longtime readers may remember that our nephew, Shane, just 10 years old was struck by cancer in April, 2009.

That little boy traveled a very long, hard road in his subsequent battle and ultimate recovery.

I wrote of Shane's battle here and here and here.

His parents, Mark and Dee ran an emotional NYC Marathon last year, raising over $16,000 dollars for pediatric cancer research. TBHITW and I had the honor of taking all the children into the city to watch the inspiring runners.

This year's marathon was to be a run of celebration. I will let Dee (Shane's mom) take it from here:

Hi Linda,

"Shane has passed the one year cancer free mark!  We are all very excited about this.  Our doctor visits and scans have gone from once a month to every 3 months now.  

To look at Shane you would never know what he has gone through and sometimes I have to stop and think about it as well.  He is doing fabulous in school and runs on the cross country team.  When I look at him running I compare him to the other runners and even though it is hard for him (mainly because his body is not used to doing this hard exercise yet) he is getting through it.  Each week he gets stronger and faster and more confident. 
We have so much to be thankful for in life. 

To The Good Cook Readers:
This is our second year on Fred's Team and running the New York City Marathon.  Last year Mark raised so much money that I signed on as well.  We went to stay with Jim and Linda for marathon weekend.  Jim was our official transport all over the city!  Linda prepared wonderful meals for us!  And the Michigan cousins got to trick or treat with their Jersey cousins!  In short, a mini family vacation and we had a very memorable and enjoyable experience. 

The marathon itself was emotionally difficult as we remembered what had led us to this destination - Shane's cancer.  We wanted to come back and really be able to enjoy it.  However, without warning tragedy struck our family once more with the death of Jim, Mark's older brother.  For several weeks, Mark wasn't sure that he could continue on the journey of running the NYC marathon let alone fundraising for it.  Now we are decidedly in however our fundraising efforts fall far short.  We need to raise the remainder in the next week.  A very tall order.  But we are going to try, for if we don't we forfeit monies already raised as well as our entry fee already paid for the race.

Donations, big or small would be greatly apprecieated in reaching our goal.  Donations can be made online by going to  Select Fred's Team, then select Support a member.  You can enter Skelcy and select Mark or Deanna.

Thanks Linda!  Talk to ya soon.  And remember, from a tree a seed drops and scatters in the wind.  Then that little seed takes hold and begins to grow...and life begins again.   Look for that little seed.


I am logging on and making a donation in TBHITW's name. If any of you can find it in your heart could you make a small donation for an incredible cause? If you are unable to afford a donation, may I ask just one favor? Keep Mark and Dee and Shane in your prayers as they continue to race for a cure for cancer.


The Good Cook 

Shane in Times Square with TBHITW

Friday, October 15, 2010

Angels and Answers

I have a set of Angel Oracle Cards.

Don't get crazy.

The deck of cards is used as a daily meditation. You shuffle the cards with your intention in mind and randomly select one. It is very much like praying. Or saying the rosary (if you are a Catholic).

I select a card everyday with my intention and question to the universe, "what do I need today".

Today has been a very emotional day for me. Full of tears and lonliness and sadness for my loss. I am missing TBHITW with all my heart and soul. My meditation today was not so much a question as a cry out to the universe to help me. To guide me. To heal me. To please give me strength and guidance and some peace.

The card I pulled today is the Heart Chakra card, its meaning:

"Love is the heart of the matter. Your heart is the center within your physical being attuned most to love. It's safe for you to love and be loved with an open heart, as we stand by with perfect protection and guidance."

Further reading of this card:

"The angels gave you this card because the answer to your question rests within your heart. The more you open your heart, the more love, joy, and peace you'll feel. You can open your heart chakra by asking the angels to end their healing energy, by visualizing your heart surrounded by pink light, by inhaling the fragrance of pink roses, by holding or wearing rose quartz crystal, and by focusing on love."

Additional meanings for this card:
Send light and love to your heart chakra. Take very good care of your cardiovascular health through exercise and healthy eating.

Here's the kicker:

"A departed loved one who passed on from a heart condition is saying "Hello, I love you". Have a heart to heart conversation" 

Sometimes the universe listens and answers when we need it most. I had a very long conversation with TBHITW and feel like I can face the rest of today.

And today is all anyone really needs to get through isn't it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tell Me A Love Story

Sometimes, at night, if I could not sleep I would ask TBHITW to tell me a story.

He was a very good story teller.

He would recount the days when he worked offshore on an oil rig in the Gulf Coast.

Or sometimes he would tell me about long, lonely drives back to Michigan for the holidays and how he would listen over and over again to classic holiday songs. "I'll Be Home For Christmas, White Christmas, Joy To The World".

Other stories would be about training for a race or a marathon. Or how he learned how to cook.

Or the jobs he held in high school.

Some of my favorite stories were about him in high school and college and dating.

You see, TBHITW, was a world class, how do you say it? Nerd. Yes, nerd.

Hey, don't get mad at me. I happen to think "nerds" make the best husbands. They don't know they are handsome and they are devoted to their profession, their families and their communities. Nerds also happen to be very smart and humble and honest and well, you get my drift. I always tell my daughter, marry a nerd and you'll be happy for the rest of your life.

Anyway, he would tell me stories of failed dates, awkward moments, and perceived shortcomings. He once told me how he had asked the most popular girl (of course she was a cheerleader) in high school to the drive in movies. He said she never even took her seat belt off through the entire movie. LOL..

My very favorite story of his was how he fell in love with me.

It is late and I can't sleep.

Will you tell me your love story?

If you don't want to post it here, you can email me at

There is nothing I love more than a good love story and I promise to hold your story in my heart until I fall asleep.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Weekend and An End of The Summer Meal

The youngest KidAdult and I tackled some much needed household chores this weekend.

On Saturday we tackled the garage. Or the garage tackled us?

When TBHITW died his family thought they would help me by cleaning out his work truck. They took everything out, tools, rain gear, hats, gloves, music and highly sensitive technological equipment and stacked it all in the garage. Ug.

I had the geologist I hired inventory all the high tech stuff and contacted an environmental supply house to have it appraised. I was worried about all that expensive equipment sitting in the garage over the winter. Enter the good guys. The geologist / friend / employee offered me double the appraisal and came on Saturday to pick everything up. I didn't know how I would feel about that but handled it well. It's just equipment, right?

On Sunday, a beautiful autumn day, the kidadult and I spent the entire day doing yard work. He mowed the grass while I ripped out the last vestige of the summer gardens. We mowed, raked, and yanked for hours. It felt good to have the sun on my back and my hands busy with hard, manuel labor.

By late afternoon we were both tired (a good tired!) and hungry.

I marinated a small flat iron steak, some wild caught NJ sea scallops and freshly picked sweet corn in grapeseed oil, fresh chopped parsley, thyme and garlic and set everything on low on the grill.

After dinner, as the sun began to set, the kidadult made us a fire in the outdoor fireplace.

As teenagers are apt to do, after about 30 minutes he wandered inside.

I poured myself a glass wine and sat under a clear sky, stars twinkling over head and stared into the flames for hours.

It was a good day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Broken Road

I'm not a big country music fan but this song spoke to me this morning.
What speaks to you today?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Little Day

Today I met my daughter in law and grand littles at my CSA farm for a day of apple and pumpkin picking.

We fed all the baby animals.

Climbed on mountains of hay bales.

Took a hay ride up into the orchard and picked apples.

It was glorious.

And fun.

The girls were silly.

Just like we were once.

And Hannah and Jillian picked their very own pumpkins for Halloween. My only rule was they had to be able to carry their pumpkin of choice their very own self. That was always our rule. They chose wisely. A Nani (and a Poppie) has to have at least one rule.

I didn't think I could do it. TBHITW and I and the kidadults have always made a pilgrimage, every year, to pick apples, eat apple cider donuts and haul pumpkins together. Fall was his favorite time of year.

But I did it. And I had fun. So the tradition continues.

TBHITW would have smiled.


Monday, October 4, 2010

A Gift for The Best Husband In The World (TBHITW)

I think that the greatest gift I can give my husband is a good life.

My good life.

He gave me the greatest gift I have ever received.

He gave me love.

I have known love. I have been loved.

To shrivel up in grief and despair would be the ultimate insult to him. True love would never do that to someone.

In the midst of my deep sadness I am trying (and sometimes succeeding) to walk among the happy ghosts of our marriage. The good times. The fun times. The lovely, sunny, snowy, rainy, messy, happy, joyous, sad, funny, crazy, out of control, in control, fast, slow times of our life together. Every now and then I find myself with a small smile on my face, even when it is behind tears. I am remembering something small. Something big. Something about us, about our life together.

What a shame and a sham and a waste if I didn't grasp and live the life I have. I didn't die. TBHITW died and "we" died. But I didn't die.

I will always carry a sadness within me. For the rest of life I will mourn my husband and the life we built and shared.
But today, I am choosing to begin to heal. To begin to step just a feather weight lighter because I have known love. Today I am beginning a very long journey in turning my sadness into another type of life. A life that has known love and is not over because of it.

I know there will still be dark days where I will struggle to find the light without him. But beginning today, I will struggle harder to find the light more often. Because I have known love. Because I have been loved. Because I am loved.

If the greatest gift of all is love, the second greatest gift of all is a life well lived. I owe TBHITW that. I owe him the honor of living my life well because he loved me. When my time comes I want people to say, "she lived life well, even when handed lemons, she made lemonade. Or cassoulet or boeuf bourguignon or etoufee".

"Tis better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all"

Chicken Flautas

I tried my best to duplicate the Mayan Princess's flautas. I recreated this from taste memory and think I got pretty darn close.

Chicken Flautas: (makes about 20 flautas, figure on 2 to 3 per person)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
20 (6) inch corn tortillas
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 to 2 cups shredded Cojito (mexican cheese) or mexican cheese blend such Sorrento's
2 tomatoes, diced (optional)
Creama (recipe follows, or store bought)
Oil for frying

Brown the chicken breasts in a bit of olive oil, then add 3/4 cup water and the contents of the taco seasoning packet. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through - about 30 minutes.
Let chicken cool in pan with taco seasoning.
When cool enough to handle, gently shred the chicken into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.
Wrap about 4 tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave 20 to 30 seconds until soft enough to roll without breaking.
Working quickly, place about 1/4 chicken breast on one end of the warmed tortilla, then roll, and place face down on a cookie sheet. Cover with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel. Repeat until all your tortillas are filled with chicken.

Shred the lettuce, dice the tomatoes and place cheese in a small bowl. Set aside.
Make the creama:
8 ounces sour cream
3 to 4 ounces heavy cream
cilantro (optional)
Whisk enough heavy cream into the sour cream to make it thick, but pouring consistency. If you want, add a few tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Set aside.

Heat about 3/4 inch oil in a heavy nonstick skillet. Place 5 to 6 flautas in hot oil, seam side down. Fry until golden, about 3 minutes, turn and fry other side until golden. Remove to brown paper bags to drain. Repeat with remaining flautas.

To assemble:

Arrange all your flautas on a large serving tray. Top with shredded lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. Drizzle with creama. Pass salsa and extra creama on the side.


Sunday, October 3, 2010


The weather is finally turning and Fall has arrived.

This was TBHITW's favorite time of year. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, cool nights and glorious days. Oh my.

My heart aches with it all.

I have been doing a lot of cooking. Not a lot of eating, but that's okay, it is the act of cooking that soothes me.

I made chicken paillard the other day for the 16 year old kidadult. This is one of his favorite meals and he can eat it morning, noon and night. Seriously, he does.

The problem I am having is right now is that all of our food is packaged in three to five people quantities. I am a bit of a food hoarder and because I buy all of our food direct from the farm I have HUGE amounts of it. For instance, when I buy beef, I buy a 1/4 steer. When I buy chicken I buy ten chickens. Or an entire pig. I then divide it all up into meal servings.

Got Chicken?

See what I mean? Way too much food.

Anyway, I canned apples the other night because it is apple picking time and my CSA share is giving me about twenty apples a week. An apple a day? How about three or four?

Canned with lemon slices and nutmeg. 

I also made mussels with pesto because the last of the basil is here. I have bushes of it. Bushes!

Even when I try to cook for just two of us I make too much. I made pan fried cod the other night and it multiplied in the pan. I swear it didn't look like that much at the fishmongers when I bought it.

My sister and her two littles came to visit last night and I made chicken flautas. It was good to cook for someone. The kids liked the flautas but of course I made way too many. If TBHITW was here he would have eaten with gusto. Then he would have scolded me for "doing it to him again".. making him eat too much.

I am a cook who has lost her biggest fan. I am a wife without a husband. I am lost.
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