Friday, July 5, 2024

Thoughts on June

 

June left behind a mixture of emotions this year. While nature gave us beautiful blooms and dramatic landscapes, our church had to say goodbye to our beloved priest, Father Paul Logco. After one short year with us, his bishop called him back to the Phillipines. Father Paul is a kind and gentle shepherd, one of the kindest people I have ever met. He loved his congregation and we all loved him in return.

Although we were heartbroken with his leaving, it was important for us to send him off properly. We arranged a dinner and party with one hundred and seventy people attending. Father played the guitar and sang for us after which he received a standing ovation. He received another standing ovation after serving his last Mass with us. Many people cried openly as they hugged and said goodbye. 

Last summer, when Father Paul had first arrived, we invited him to our home for dinner. During that evening I asked him what made him decide to become a priest. He said that when he was young, he saw the love that a priest had for his people and the love he received in return. He wanted to know that kind of love. He certainly achieved that goal in our church. 

Father Paul was very sad as we said our last goodbyes. He said it was so hard to leave his beloved people. I know God has special plans for him. He stands out among all the pastors I have known throughout my lifetime. His heart is sincere and kind and loving. His teaching of Scripture is clear and true, and he is humble. In this world, we can all do with such an example in our lives.

 We miss you dearly, Father Paul.



Monday, June 24, 2024

Favorite Places- The Hardware Store

 

The weather was so hot on Saturday that we decided to go out and run errands and window shop rather than sit around bored with the heat. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But, it turned out to be more miserable walking across parking lots, and getting in and out of the car in the heat than if we had just stayed home. 

One stop we made was at our local Northwest hardware store. I was blown away by the expansion of their nuts and bolts department. This is not a big hardware store but this aisle is impressive! Steve and I both found everything we were looking for. I really enjoy a good hardware store. I strongly dislike endlessly walking around the big box hardware stores, wandering aimlessly and not being able to find things. The smaller neighborhood stores are easier to navigate and to locate items. 

Way back when, between first and second year of college I worked in the hardware section of our local Joy's department store. I mixed paint, cut keys, and helped people find things. I learned a lot that summer and I liked all the creative, helpful items one could find in a hardware department. I also started dating Steve around that time so it is all one, big happy memory. Sometimes he would pick me up from work. I can still remember how he smelled- like new leather. A hardware clerk and a shoe salesman, and a whole lot of dreams...


Sunday, June 23, 2024

Welcome Summer!

  

Frittata gets underway. I like to stage all the ingredients before I turn on the heat. From front to back: onions, mushrooms, Swiss chard, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs whisked in the bowl.

Although it's my least favorite season, temperature wise, I love summer for its long daylight hours, the easy-feeling pace of life, the light clothing we wear, and especially for the fresh produce at our fingertips. 

The garden has begun to give us a harvest. Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, beets, basil, and tomatoes are calling to be picked. We have an abundance of Swiss chard this year so I offered some to friends. I found that those friends from up north knew what it was but my southern friends were not familiar with it. I grew up eating it because my dad planted it in his garden and I guess eating it is something I took for granted. It is delightful as a side dish, sauteed in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. One of my favorite recipes cooks it into a frittata and makes a main dish of it. Steve and I eat this for dinner fairly often. It says that it serves eight, but for us it is more like three or four servings. I like to serve a fresh tomato salad on the side and voila, dinner is done!

Frittata

Serves 8

 5 Tbl. olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 c. mushrooms, sliced

2 c. Swiss chard, washed and trimmed of stems, cut into ribbons

8 eggs

1 c. Parmesan or goat cheese

¼ c. parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400°

Heat a large,10-12 inch, non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbl olive oil to pan.

Add the onions, spreading them out evenly. Let them brown for about 7 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium and continue to let the onions caramelize, moving them around to release some moisture, about 8 minutes more.

Then add the mushrooms and sauté together until they have released their moisture and are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

When the mushrooms are nearly done, add the Swiss chard and sauté until barely wilted. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

Clean out the pan and set it back on the heat. Add 3 Tbl olive oil.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a little water. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Add the herbs, cheese, and vegetables to the eggs.

Pour the egg and vegetable mixture into the skillet and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, undisturbed, until the mixture firms up on the bottom, then transfer it to the oven.

Bake until the top is cooked, about 10 minutes.

 

PS.- Question: When I copy and paste text from a Word Document to my blog, it adds spacing between the lines. The same thing happens when I start a new paragraph when composing my posts. Is there any easy way to change line spacing options in blogspot?

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 17, 2024

1867 Farmhouse Getaway in Lititz, PA

 

We don't get to see Steve's brothers and their wives as often as we like anymore. They all live in New York and we are in Virginia. Everyone is busy with families, jobs, etc., etc. We all know how that goes. So, a couple of months ago I made the suggestion to the wives that we meet up in Pennsylvania for a long weekend and we made it happen!

We rented an 1867 farmhouse on Airbnb. It is located in Lititz, Pennsylvania, which turned out to be an equidistant  drive for all of us. The countryside there is dotted with many old, stone houses and stone barns. The little log cabin beside it is also available for rent, although we didn't rent it ourselves. The house has been updated inside and we had comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms. It was loaded with good books to read which was a treat for everyone. Off the backside of the house is a patio overlooking a pond. It was pleasant to sit there in the evening and listen to the birds. 

We went for jaunts around the countryside and ate at local restaurants. We browsed for antiques, visited the Green Dragon Farmers Market, and saw the story of Daniel at The Sight and Sound Theater. We caught up on life in general and enjoyed each other's company. 

One of the wives suggested we get together again next year at a house in Maine that we rented together several years ago. I said I would look into it and see if it was still available. I hope it is. There is nothing like family. Time is fleeting and we need to make gatherings a priority. 

Look how deep the door jam is! I love these stone houses.

The Green Dragon Farmers Market and Flea Market




For any rug hookers out there- I spotted this Peggy Teich rug in an antique mall. It measures around 18x18" and was priced at $495. No, I didn't buy. But her rugs are very nice!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

The Garden in June

 

The garden in June is like the new Eden. It is freshly created, laid out according to plan and not yet gone awry. It is tidy and easily tended. It responds gracefully to training and provides a place of joy in which to rest. It really is a lovely place in the month of June, so new and promising. Even the rabbits think so. They have used the lavender to make a nest and hide their babies.

Come July,  the garden reminds me of little children whose mother is occupied on the phone. They know she cannot come after them so they use the opportunity to make mischief and messes. How quickly a sink is overflowed, a younger sibling is teased, or the cookie jar is raided. In this same way, the garden responds when we turn our backs and go away for a few days. Weeds take root, a powdery mildew sets in, or the deer have come munching. It almost doesn't look like the same garden when we return!

By August, the poor garden will be tired. The summer heat, drought, bugs, and fruiting will have worn it down. It has produced all it can give. It has fed us, enchanted us, aggravated us, and given us a summer of activity. It has also left us with full tummies, food stored up for winter, and a promise that we get to do it all again next year. It will never be as beautiful as it was in June, though. 


 



Thursday, May 30, 2024

Reptiles, Crustaceans, and Violet

 


This week I had the pleasure of spending three days with our six year old granddaughter. I brought her to my house early each morning and took her back to meet her mom each afternoon. I knew in advance that we would spend these days together so I planned activities and meals that I thought she would enjoy.Violet was a good sport and humored me and my plans but it was obvious she had her own ideas, which turned out to be a delight.

Violet knows where all of our craft supplies are kept and she had the dining room table covered in paper, colored pencils, markers, scissors, and tape before I had even had breakfast out. She drew tiny little shrimp, lobsters, ladybugs, and crabs. She cut them out with scissors. She drew larger versions of them. She taped them onto paper. She left them outside Steve's office door to surprise him. She put them in paper boxes that she made into little dioramas, and she painted them on rocks. She also painted one special rock with a red crab on it for her mother. This was wrapped up in a box with a red bow. For three days Violet drew lobsters, shrimp, crabs, and lizards. 

I put the "clothespin people" project I planned away for another day. We weren't going to need it. 

Aside from crafting, we played outside and walked through the hayed field up to the tree swing. Violet found a golf ball and asked if she could play golf. Steve found a club and she whacked the ball for a little bit. We picked blueberries, which she ate, we ran errands, and we went to the pool for two afternoons. She swims like a little fish and I could barely keep up. Needless to say, I was dead tired each night and I slept very well.

We had conversations while we crafted. One such conversation went like this:

Me: What shall we have for lunch?
Violet: Well, I don't eat animals, not even chickens.
Me: So what do you like?
Violet: I like steak, vegetables, and fruit.
Me: OK. You can get good nutrition that way. What do you have for lunch at your GanGan's house?
Violet: Hot dogs. I love hot dogs.
 
Violet: I do NOT like Malachi
Me: Is he a boy in your class? Why don't you like him?
Violet: Yes, he takes my hair scrunchie.
Me: Usually when a boy does that or teases you, it means he likes you.
Violet: (wide eyed in disbelief) 
Me: Yes. Boys will look for any kind of attention from you if they like you. Even bad attention.
Violet: (is left speechless. She needs to think about this for a while.) 







Saturday, May 25, 2024

Fresh Dill Tzatziki Recipe


 I have found that once dill is sown in a garden, it need never be sown again. If the plants are allowed to go to seed, it will self-sow year after year. To save on space, we have our dill share a bed with the asparagus. The asparagus comes to harvest first, in early spring. Once the asparagus is all harvested, the dill has begun to emerge. To avoid overcrowding, I thin the young dill plants and begin using it. It keeps nicely in a jar of water on the windowsill. We use it in chicken salads, cream sauces and especially in Tzatziki. Tzatziki is a refreshing Mediterranean sauce made from plain yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, lemon, garlic, and dill. It is wonderful on toasted pita chips or on any type of pita sandwich. I also love it on Falafels. Here is our favorite Tzatziki recipe:

Fresh Dill Tzatziki

(Bon Appetit August 2004)

2 c. plain whole milk yogurt

1  12-oz. unpeeled English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, coarsely       

     chopped

1 tea. coarse kosher salt

 ¼ c. sour cream

1 Tbl. fresh minced Italian parsley

1 Tbl. white wine vinegar

1 tbl. fresh lemon juice

2 ½ tea. minced, fresh dill

1 ½ tea. olive oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

Line sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth; place over deep bowl. Spoon yogurt into sieve. Cover; chill sieve in bowl overnight.

Toss cucumber and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. let stand I hour. Drain as much liquid as possible from cucumber, then pat dry with paper towels.

Transfer yogurt to bowl; discard liquid. Mix cucumber into yogurt. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; chill 1 to 4 hours.

 Makes about 2 cups