Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook ” Recipe: Cherine Mallah’s Belboula or Barley Porridge

“As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was about to happen.” Winnie the Pooh

Together: our community cookbook is a charitable project inspired to help fund the continuation of the Hubb Community kitchen in London. The Grenfell community kitchen was made available to the women who had lost their living spaces after a terrible fire ran rampant through the towering apartment building in 2017. The women consist of many nationalities and religions. Each recipe in the book gives credit to the woman who shared it which I really respect. I highly recommend it, especially if you like Middle Eastern food.

When I met Abby in Texas in 1983 and she invited me to visit Wisconsin after our tree planting season ended. I hitched a ride with her and her sidekick Nik taking a few weeks stop in Mountain View, Arkansas. When we arrived in the enchanting Kickapoo Valley I met her family at a most inviting place called Green Hollow Cabin where they everyone lived. It was an old graying log cabin perched up in the magical hills of the valley outside one of the smallest towns you can imagine. The town of La Farge, now home to Organic Valley consisted of a bank, a few bars, a tin structure diner called the Band Box, a grocery store and feed store. Abby’s family was mom Janet, step father Mark, brother Aaron, step sisters Jersey and Emily and step brother Sam. Abby was the eldest of the offspring and they all lived together in this small space with a magnificent leafy green view from the front porch, no running water and an out house. Each of the children had a bedroom about the size of a small office cubby. Everyone was warm, funny, creative and full of life. I thought the whole arrangement was grand and I instantly fell in love with each and every one of them which I still feel to this day, decades later and miles apart.

Everyone needs a soft place to land and Green Hollow Cabin was just that place. I was embraced with open arms and for that I will always be grateful and remember ever so fondly.

Our first recipe is a simple barley porridge sweetened with honey and topped with fruits and nuts. The recipe calls for barley couscous (belboula) which I couldn’t find so I substituted it for pearl barley instead. Cook grain. Add cinnamon and sweetener of your liking and add any kind of milk. I used cashew milk.

Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Persian rice (Tahdig)

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi

Tahdig literally means bottom of the pot and is a Persian style of rice. It is made in stages; first boiled in very salty water and then pan fried until the prized outcome of a golden thin crispy crust is hopefully achieved. Since I never made it before I was surprised and pleased that it released from the pan in one piece with only a few scorch marks. Not perfect…but very very close.

Over the 35 years of my friendship with Abby, we went through two extended periods of not speaking. The first time was when we had our first babies and the second was fifteen years later. The latter lasted nine ridiculous years! Both times it wasn’t clear if we would ever speak to each other again. In the wake of our ups and our downs there lay a string of poor judgements, reckless behaviors, self destructive habits, lack of boundaries and a run in with the law. All of this greatly affected us and our surrounding circle of family and friends, forever. 

Our relationship wasn’t always loving, wasn’t always life’s highlights in glossy snapshots and at times it was more like postcards from the edge. Like everyone else’s relationships it was fragile, complicated, at times self serving, challenging, confusing and heart wrenching.

(pause and sigh)

But at the end of the day Abby was always much more forgiving than me. I was not always so eager to let go of disappointments or emotional hits. It’s always taken me a long time to recover and an even longer time to release the built up lingering residual bitterness that I sometimes can self righteously cling to. I think Abby had a much more understanding and compassionate way about her…she just accepted us with all our flaws and less attractive parts. She was so beautiful that way. The last line of Abby’s mom’s eulogy about Abby, she said with a lump in her throat, “she makes me want to be a better person.” And it was true. It was absolutely true. She made all of us want to be better. It wasn’t always easy. There was as much pain as there was love. She wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. None of us were. But anyone who was loved by her was perfectly lucky. I know I was.

Ingredients: 2 cups basmati rice, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 4 quarts water, 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt, 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of oil.

1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Boil the water in a large saucepan and add salt once boiling. Water should taste like the salty ocean. Add rice and cook al dente for about 6-8 minutes and drain in a colander. Take 1 cup of the rice and mix with 3 tablespoons of yogurt. Add butter and oil to a 10 inch cast iron pan and heat on medium. Once melted, add the rice mixed with yogurt and spread into a thin layer. Add the remainder of the rice and try to gently mound the rice to the center. Make 5-6 vent holes in the rice with a utensil. Make sure you reach the bottom of the pan. You should be able to see the oil and steam from the vents. Add a little more oil if needed. Fry for 15-20 minutes on medium turning the pan a quarter of a turn every 3-4 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat and cook for another 15 minutes or so. ( I cooked mine for 25 minutes in total.) Remove from heat. Take a spatula and loosen the sides. Put a plate over the pan and flip. Cross your fingers! If the rice does not come out in one section you can easily piece it together. No one will ever know.

Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Caesar’s Salad

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

For the lesson in acid, I piggybacked off the previous recipe of basic mayonnaise to make a Caesar salad dressing. In these strange times of quarantining at home it felt sensible to make do with what is at hand in my pantry and fridge. Acid is sour by nature but when combined with other tastes it can elevate our food to reach a more satisfying experience. In a Caesar dressing, lemon and vinegar are our acids combined with the salt of the anchovies and the fat of the egg yolk and olive oil resulting in a balance of an all around classic and timeless dressing.

I reflected on this concept of making do and wondered how this could play into the story of Abby and me. There are a few but the first one that came to mind was our journey in choosing nursing as a career. Abby and I had many overlaps in our lives and nursing was one of them. In 1985 as a single mom I had to come up with something fast to make a living. Three years later when my son was still a toddler I graduated from nursing school and became a registered nurse. In 1989 when I landed back in Wisconsin by the generosity of Abby and the kindness of her husband Cisco. I encouraged Abby to go back to school as well to enjoy the fruits of a handsome (lol) and consistent paycheck. Surprisingly she listened to me and in 1991 she graduated in a white cap ceremony. We would laugh really hard together over the years because she would curse my name for suggesting she follow suit. She had shared with her mom one time or another that she most certainly would not be a nurse forever but she was. It was a bittersweet choice for the both of us for sure.

Yet at the time that is what we had to work with. My sister and Abby’s grandparents were nurses. My mom had dreams of becoming a nurse. It made practical sense at the time. In looking back however, I don’t think it was the best fit for either one of us. Abby felt most at home creating something from her hands and imagination. I felt most at home in the kitchen or the garden. Those passions stayed with us over the years but were often thwarted by obligations, distractions and busyness. In our youth we were the kind of people who found it hard to stay on one track.

On the other hand, a nursing career no doubt provided us with a decent stable life. I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t grateful for that. We were able to provide lovely living spaces for our children. We had extra spending money for travel. We weren’t wealthy of course but we had enough. And we had many eye opening real life, real world experiences along the way. Abby worked in small town hospitals, home health agencies, inpatient mental health and private duty providing care for ventilator patients. I had worked in city hospitals, home health agencies, clinics and nursing homes. My field of expertise evolved into hospice care and by far the most rewarding. Hers was private duty. These experiences took me to India to work with the dying, to Belize to initiate the idea of a palliative care program in a tiny village and to Ireland to visit the first hospice ever established. Abby was a traveling nurse at one time and spent weeks as a home health nurse in Washington state among the giant trees and craters.

Abby was an extremely hard working nurse and would often take long overnight shifts only to work more during the day with a second part time job or babysit small grandchildren. She was crazy that way. In her last years, overworked with a slew of health conditions, the toll of nursing was growing heavier. Fortunately in her last months she was on disability for shoulder and knee surgeries. She had the benefits of life and health insurance. She had time with family she may never otherwise had, a small silver lining. She did what she could, with what she had, right where she was, right up to the end.

Ingredients: 3/4 cups basic mayonnaise, 4 anchovies chopped and pounded into a paste, 1 garlic clove pounded with a pinch of salt, 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar, 1 cup of finely grated parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Mix all ingredients together and adjust either salt or acid to taste. Make salad with romaine lettuce, croutons and slivers of parmesan cheese.

Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe” Classic Mayonnaise

“Oh my soul, sometimes we don’t know what to do. We work so hard being tough on our own, but now it’s me and you.” Climb on (A Back That’s Strong) from Shawn Colvin’s Fat City album

Day in and day out the news has all been about a mysterious worldwide highly contagious virus and the way I see it, a madman at the helm making everything worse. At times it truly appears like Armageddon is right around the corner. My heart aches for the sick and the suffering who are alone in the hospital without surrounding loved ones. Being a hospice nurse, I am well aware of what really goes on behind the scenes, behind those closed hospital doors. I am also conscious of the difficulty it must be for people waiting in long lines for food, unable to work, propelled into debt, maybe losing a business. So many stories left untold, too challenging for us to process. Feeling overwhelmed is an absolute understatement these days.

Meanwhile my studio lease will expire at the end of May and I was thinking that this blog means so little in the grand scheme of things. Who could have predicted that a pandemic would come along? I was beginning to accept that maybe my inspiration for this project was over and I could just coast to the end. However that wasn’t to be. I was about to be shot in the arm with a last jolt of inspiration. This week I received a comment from a reader that rearranged my current resigning outlook. A woman, sheltering in place in Alaska, googled Tassajara cinnamon buns and my blog just happened to appear as a top option. She opened the link, read a bit and apparently was touched. Come to find out not only had she read “Fair and Tender Ladies” from previous post, but, here’s the kicker…she was related to the author Lee Smith!! I mean, c’mon, what are the chances of that??? It was one of those moments where I knew with certainty that some kind of synchronous energy was playing with me and all I can say is THAT was no damn coincidence. We really are all connected. Of course I immediately thought of Abby. I, being the kind of person I am, felt it was some kind of message from her. Like this lovely woman became a conduit between my soul living here in this space and Abby’s soul residing who knows where. It reignited my dwindling flame. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

So today I made real mayonnaise for the first time. It was a lesson in fat. Apparently one egg yolk can absorb almost a cup of oil that is whisked into it drop by drop. Isn’t that amazing? It’s a lesson in not only emulsion but in ultimate patience as well. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at this classic pantry staple that all good cooks apparently whip up in a moment’s notice. So here it is, mine made with olive oil to be used on a sandwich, maybe some toasted crusty home made bread, bacon, tomatoes, garlic and arugula? Yum, my appetite has returned.

Ingredients: 1 room temperature egg yolk, 3/4 cup olive oil

Add 1 egg yolk to a bowl, ceramic if possible. Add the oil ever so slowly, drop by drop at first while whisking the entire time. If the mayo gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of water to loosen it up. When you get half way through the oil you can add it in slightly larger pours. The key is very very slow. Store in fridge for 3 days.

Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Buttermilk Chicken

“My dear Silvaney…for all of a sudden when I saw those lights, I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It’s funny how a person can be so busy living that they forget this is it.” Lee Smith

Fair and Tender Ladies is a fictional novel that Abby and I loved. It’s a story about Ivy Rowe, a Virginia mountain girl later turned woman and mother who is drawn to the beauty and rhythms of her natural world. The places she lives have names like Sugar Fork, Blue Star Mountain and Majestic. She has a calling and a talent to write but little opportunity mixed with expected family obligations keep her from discovering her true independence and a world at large. The book is written in the form of letters to the various characters in her life. Silvaney, her sister is the one most closest to her. We gather as a reader that she is developmentally disabled. Yet she is Ivy’s heart and soul and closest confidante in writing. The story takes us through Ivy’s entire life and all she learns by her hard earned experiences along the way.

It’s a beautiful read and now for me a small but lasting memory. I recently revisited this book a few months ago and cried many times for Ivy and her identifiable struggles. I cried for myself. There was so much of me, so much of Abby in those pages. We were both Ivy, both Silvaney to each other. And now here I am. This is my life. Abby is gone and a pandemic has arrived. I have normalized concepts such as sheltering in place, flattening the curve and social distancing. I have put a pause on my life uncertain of what comes next. The world has become much more frightening. Today I read the leading coronavirus doctor said people may never want to shake hands in public again. Wait, what?!! It’s such a crazy time on so many levels for all of us, not just this public health crisis. Right now my emotional body is very heavy and I feel the need to move this energy out. Today I really miss my friend. It is hanging over my heart and chest like a storm cloud making it hard to breathe. I need a good cry. A good hard rain to let the tears come and wash away the helplessness and the fear and the loss. This is my life. This is it.

Here is a delicious recipe for learning the salt lesson of seasoning from within. A salty buttermilk marinade breaks down the proteins of the chicken to produce a tender moist roasted chicken. Take 4 teaspoons of sea salt mixed with 2 cups of buttermilk and add to a gallon plastic bag along with the chicken pieces of your heart’s desire. Marinate for 24 hours. The following day remove the chicken, scrape off the marinade and roast at 425F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 400F and continue for another 20-30 minutes more depending on your size. Chicken should be brown with clear juices.

Month of March: “Ottolenghi” Recipe: Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato

“There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet always wars and plagues take people equally by surprise.” Albert Camus

March 1, 2020. COVID 19 arrives in New York state, my home state. March 11, 2020 the first positive case appears in my county. Since then many people have fallen ill and many have died. The grief and loss and fear is palpable each time we read the news or sign onto social media sites. Our world as we know it will never be the same. Never. Each night, in the safety of my home, I say my collective prayers but they feel so small and irrelevant.

In early February, Andy came home with canned milk, pounds of dried beans, rice and bleach. I was upset that he brought home so many extra items we didn’t need. But he knew. He sensed that this was different. He said, “You don’t shut down a city the size of London, referring to Wuhan, for nothing.” I brushed his unusual high alert aside. “I’m not worried, it’s just like the flu,” like so many of my medical colleagues felt as well. We had lived through H1N1, SARS, and Ebola without too much panic. Why was this any different? But over the month of February I started getting concerned and began stocking up just in case we needed to be at home for a few weeks. The more I read and researched, the more concerned I became. Yet, as Albert Camus writes, it still takes us by surprise.

I thought about Abby and knew that if she were still here, she would be all over this! We would have been talking and texting and sharing articles from sun up to sun down. She loved science and enjoyed critically examining complex issues from all angles. She would have been watching over her brood like a hawk as well as looking out for those in need she didn’t know. I can imagine her volunteering as a nurse for out of state deployment. She was a front line kind of person.

It feels strange and inconsequential in a way to continue with a food blog. Who knew that my year long project of honoring my friendship and processing my grief would include a global pandemic in which the last one was hundred years ago? It’s surreal and absurd to say the least. But I will finish what I started. Two months left to go. The finale remains to be seen. Since grocery shopping has become such a concern right now, the recipe above is this month’s one and only carefully chosen for comfort, something we all need more of at this very frightening time.

Ingredients: 1 cup dried chickpeas (I used canned), 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 onion finely chopped, 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 14 oz canned tomatoes, 1 teaspoon superfine sugar, 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin, 3 cups baby spinach leaves, 2/3 cup cilantro leaves, salt and pepper, Honeyed sweet potato: 1 lb. sweet potatoes peeled and sliced into 1 inch thickness, scant 3 cups water, 3.5 tablespoon unsalted butter, 4 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, Yogurt sauce: scant 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1 clove garlic crushed, grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried mint, salt and pepper

  1. Soak the chickpeas in cold water with baking soda the night before. Next day rinse and cover with fresh water and bring to a boil and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. They should be totally tender but retain their shape. Drain and set aside.
  2. Make the sweet potatoes by putting the potatoes in a wide saucepan with water, honey, butter and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 35 to 40 minutes until potatoes are tender. Turn over halfway through cooking process to ensure even color. Remove from heat and keep warm.
  3. While the sweet potatoes are cooking make sauce for the chickpeas. Heat olive oil in large frying pan, add onion, cumin and coriander seeds and fry for about 8 minutes or until golden. Add the tomato paste, cook for a minute and then add tomatoes, sugar and ground cumin. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season to taste. Stir in the spinach and then the chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes and season again.
  4. Make the yogurt sauce by whisking all the ingredients together. Season.
  5. To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange sweet potatoes on top and garnish with cilantro. Yogurt sauce on top or as a side.

Month of February: “Truly Mexican” Recipe: Xico-style Mole

“I hope the end is joyful and I hope never to return.” Frida Kahlo

Moles are complicated sauces. They have many ingredients and each one needs individual attention. Kind of like our emotions and especially like our relationships.

Losing Abby pushed me to dig into the avoidant complexity of my past in a way I have never experienced before. I have been working especially hard over the last two years to relive my trauma based memories and put language to the associated emotions but much more importantly to allow the feelings in and to feel them! When I let in how I felt, in all the complicated and confusing experiences that made me who I am, I shift in a monumental way and then in time, I change. I grow. I become something fresh.

We get so little time in this life to untangle the crossed wires of our human experiences. And by that I mean when our head and our heart are misaligned. Our hardwired survival instincts deceive us into believing we have all the time in the world. I am certain that this challenging work of exploring where I came from, where I am now and where I am going is paying off and I hope the end is joyful. Like I hoped Abby’s last moments were as she prepared her beloved coffee, not alone, on an early spring morning in May. I imagine the surrounding long awaited warmth, the full spectrum of greens, the light shimmering on the Mississippi River and the renewal of life as a beautiful backdrop in which a very special being, my soul sister, was released into the unknown. Knowing her in life and losing her in death has been a remarkable journey. She was a gift that I have learned to fully embrace and receive. I changed her and she changed me. We both were profoundly lucky.

Abby’s mom Janet with stepdad Mark releasing the remainder of her daughter’s ashes into the Caribbean Sea, Isla Mujeres, Mexico in February 2020. Other ashes were buried in the soil at Green Hollow Cabin as well as into the waters of the mighty Mississippi.

Ingredients: 9 mulato chiles and 3 pasilla chiles wiped clean, stemmed, slit open, seeded and deveined, 1/2 cup of raw hazelnuts, 1 medium tomato, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 coarsely chopped onion, 4 garlic cloves, 1.5 teaspoons salt, 1/4 cup raw almonds, 1/4 cup raw pecans, 1/2 cup raw pine nuts, 1 small or 1/2 large ripe plantain peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 slice baguette, 3 tablespoons of unhulled sesame seeds, 1 inch Mexican cinnamon or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 5 whole black peppercorns, 2 whole cloves, 1 corn tortilla, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1.5 ounces Mexican chocolate. 1 recipe of poached chicken

1. Poach 1 chicken cut up or use whatever chicken parts you like, in 6 cups of water along with a carrot and 1 celery stalk cut up in large pieces, 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 30 minutes. Use chicken stock for mole. Preheat oven to 350 F. Soak the chiles in water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain and discard the soaking water. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Wrap them in a towel and let them steam which will help remove the skins. Then gather up the edges of the towel and rub off skins as best as you can. Or buy skinless ones and make this easier.

2. Increase the oven to 500F and core the tomato and cut a small X through the skin on the opposite end. Roast the tomato for 20-30 minutes with cored side up. Slip the skin from the tomato and transfer to a bowl.

3.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic about 3-5 minutes. Transfer this to a blender along with with drained chiles, salt and 1 cup of chicken stock. Blend for 3 minutes until very smooth. Transfer puree to a bowl.

4.Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers and fry the following ingredients one by one (hazelnuts for 3 minutes until they are deep golden, almonds about 2 minutes, pecans about 2 minutes, pine nuts about 2 minutes, plantain slices about 3 minutes, raisins 1 minute, prunes 1 minute and bread about 2 minutes until golden.) As they fry, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.

5.Toast the sesame seeds, peppercorns and cloves in a dry skillet about 4 minutes. Using tongs hold the tortilla over a burner and toast until dark and golden brown. Crumble into fried ingredients.

6.Working in 2 batches, put the fried and toasted ingredients in the blender jar along with the roasted tomato and 1.25 cups of stock per batch for a total of 2.5 cups. Blend until mixture is smooth about 3 minutes.

7.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy pot over medium heat and carefully pour in the chile puree and nut puree, stirring and bring to a simmer. Add the brown sugar and chocolate and stir until chocolate melts. Simmer for 10 minutes until it thickens. It should be a velvety consistency, add more stock if needed. Simmer very gently for 30 minutes longer and season with additional salt.

8. Add poached chicken or turkey, can use shredded or whole. Heat for an additional 15 minutes gently. Serve with corn tortillas, rice and beans. The mole improves after a day in the refrigerator and will keep up to five days without meat, 3 with. It can be frozen up to a month.

Month of February: “Truly Mexican” Recipe: Shrimp in Simple Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipian Verde)

“Before you conquer the mountain, you must overcome the fear.” Isabel Allende

For as long as I can remember I have been afraid. Slowly, little by little, I am peeling back the layers, like a white onion, to courageously uncover what made me me. I am grinding my inherited family seeds into a digestible sauce that will satisfy my hunger for inner peace. I am adding a life giving spice to create something uniquely my own. I came, I saw, I had to conquer my history. And all along the way, in my perceived aloneness, I found some love, some precious, precious mighty love.

Ingredients: 1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds, 1/3 cup chopped white onion, 3 fresh jalapeno or serrano chiles, 1 small peeled garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 4-5 cups chicken stock, divided, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

1.Heat a skillet over medium heat and roast the pumpkin seeds for about 5 minutes until they start to brown slightly and puffed, stir and toss constantly. Put the pumpkin seeds in a blender with the onion, chiles, garlic and spices with 2 cups of chicken broth and blend until smooth, at least 3 minutes.

2.Heat oil in a 4-5 quart pan and add the sauce and cook on low for about 20 minutes, stirring and adding the additional stock to keep the sauce velvety smooth. Return the sauce to the blender after cooking and add the cilantro and blend.

3. Return the sauce to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with rice or corn tortillas. Serve with lime wedges.

Month of February: “Truly Mexican” Recipe: Spicy Pineapple Salsa with Adobo Fish Tacos

“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her skin.” Sandra Cisneros

These days feel very uncertain to me. The arctic ice melting, melting, melting, coronavirus looming, continents ablaze, unfathomably short sighted never satisfied greed maintaining power, facts no longer holding court, wildlife populations dwindling…. it is difficult to let in and many days I don’t. I don’t because I can’t. Sometimes I reach a super saturation point of pain and I can no longer take in the tiniest grain of bad news.

I can’t change the world at large but I can change myself. Instead, I focus on my inner life. I focus on the little things. I focus on transcending. I focus on my loved ones present and past. I focus on connection. I focus on learning. I focus on the natural world. I focus on meaning. I focus on creating. I focus on stillness. I focus on gratitude. I focus on moments…..obsessed with finally becoming comfortable in my own skin until the time comes to shed it.

When Abby shed hers, she left behind three cherished grandsons. She was completely devoted to Parker, Noah and Thatcher (Waylon had not yet arrived) and when I say devoted I mean devoted. They were for sure her main focus in her last years. It is sad that they will never remember what an amazing grandmother she was to them, what a remarkable person she was but on the other hand they will have the handed down stories and folklore of her legacy to carry with them as they grow and travel on their own paths. And if they ever want to know the wonders of her they can always ask me.

Pineapple Salsa

ingredients: 1 cup diced fresh pineapple, 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh jalapenos ( I used less) 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice and 2 tablespoons orange. 1.5 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with additional lime, sugar or salt.

Fish Adobo

Marinate fish fillets of red snapper, bass or cod with the adobo marinade from previous post. The ancho adobo goes perfectly with white fish. Marinate in fridge for an hour or two. Heat a cast iron skillet with about 1-2 tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve with fresh corn tortillas

Month of February: “Truly Mexican” Recipe: Salsa De Papaya and Marinated Adobo Steak

“It may be that true happiness lies in the conviction that one has irremediably lost happiness. Then we can begin to move through life without hope or fear, capable of finally enjoying all the small pleasures, which are the most lasting.” Maria Luisa Bombal

Putting these words into a daily practice is exactly where I want to be for the remainder of my life. It’s the little things…always the little things. Abby’s unexpected death has made this crystal clear to me.

If Abby could be a fruit, I think she would be a papaya.

Papaya Salsa

Ingredients: 1 pound of firm ripe papaya seeded and finely diced about 2 cups, 1/4 cup each of red onion and red bell pepper (I used yellow), 1 thinly slice scallion, 1 tablespoon each of fresh lime and lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of chile of your choice (our author suggests habanero, I used jalapeno) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with more salt, lime and chile.

Marinated Adobo Steak

Ingredients: Adobo sauce (from previous post), 1 lb skirt or flank steak, 1 tablespoon oil and salt for seasoning.

Marinate the steak for about 1-2 hours with the adobo sauce. I pounded the steak thin to tenderize it prior to marinating. Take out of fridge and season. Pan fry in a hot cast iron skillet about 2-3 minutes on each side on medium to high heat for medium rare depending on the thickness. Serve with the salsa. Happiness!