Category Archives: Gardening

Summer Red Cabbage Delight

Potlucks are wonderful things. Especially so if you find a recipe that you cannot live without. This one, from my spinning friend Darlene, is so simple that it’ll be a regular at our dinner table (and the pot lucks I attend) from here on out.

The best part? For the first time in years, I grew red cabbage in the garden, and I see that one is ready to harvest.

Darlene’s Outrageous Red Cabbage

For every 2 cups of cut up cabbage (bite size, not shredded), put in a large frying pan: 1 Tbl oil, 2 Tbl water, 2 Tbl brown sugar, 2 Tbl vinegar.  When liquid is boiling, Add cabbage and a chopped up (bite size pieces) apple, salt to taste.  Let it cook until done, 8-10 minutes or so. Serve warm.

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Filed under Gardening, Summer

The Best Zucchini Bread

I’m a gardener, so I grow zucchini. Lots of it.  More than we can eat, and I have lots of zucchini recipes, but I’ve never found the consummate zucchini bread recipe until now. This one is good. This one may be the best ever. I may stop searching.

It comes from Rockford, Illinois, and is the generously-shared, blue-ribbon-winning recipe of Britt-Marie Knoblock.

To be fair, I did not include the pecans, and I used olive oil instead of canola or other vegetable oil. The rest is as written.

Zucchini bread

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions: In a bowl, combine the orange juice, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, powder, salt and soda. Mix well.

Add the orange juice mixture; stir until just combined. Fold in the zucchini and pecans. Pour the batter into two 8-inch by 4-inch by 2-inch loaf pans coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Enjoy the zucchini season!

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What makes a good life?

With death always comes reflection, whether it is the death of a loved one or a favorite celebrity. Today I’m wondering: What makes a good life?

It isn’t money, that’s for certain, and it isn’t cool stuff. It isn’t good reviews or a successful career, either, or any of that stuff. I’m coming to believe that life is made up of days well lived, and days are made up of moments.

Every moment, I have a decision–at least one.  Do I want to be happy or unhappy? Do I want to lead with my heart or with my cynicism? Do I want to be critical or see the best in people and their efforts?

And along with those decisions, I have a lot of little actions, too. Will my tongue be sharp or gentle? Will I act in a way that sustains the earth or in a way that is expedient? Will I take care of myself or succumb to instant gratification?

The Urantia Book says: “The keys of the kingdom of heaven are sincerity, more sincerity, and more sincerity.” Sincerity is a decision, made moment by moment.

Today I will speak gently to people, work to beautify my garden and provide nutritious food for my table, and make it a point, with sincerity, to let my husband know how much I appreciate him. Today I will proceed with love in my heart, extend the mercy to others that I would have them extend to me, and give raspberries to my neighbor.

If I can do all that, then this will be a day well lived. Strung together, these days make for a good life.

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Filed under Beauty, Gardening, Goodness, regrets, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, The Urantia Book, Truth

Essential Stress

I have too much work on my desk. This is a cyclical condition. As with most things, it’s boom or bust; feast or famine. Right now, it’s manageable, but barely. Last week I kind of freaked out, but I knocked out a project and so it’s back to just “seriously intense”.

I like it just a little less intense than this, but I do enjoy my stress. I love my deadlines, love a little pressure. Today I want to get out into the nice day on my bicycle, so I have a little added pressure to get my scheduled “must-do” things done on a timeline that will allow for that.

Last summer I decided to take a couple of months off. No work, no school, no schedule. Just work in the garden, lie about and read. Lunch with the girlfriends. Bad idea. I was miserable, and started manufacturing grand schemes (aka “trouble”) in my mind.

Some day retirement will be an option for me, and I’m one of those who will have to do some serious retirement planning so I don’t drive myself nuts with inactivity. Or inappropriate activity (heh heh). But then does a writer ever really retire?

But for now, I have two research papers to finish, an anthology to edit, a weekend retreat to prepare for, two writing projects to progress, a garden to plant, and a husband and dog to keep happy. That’s a little too much for today, especially if I want my bike ride. Next week, I’ll have finished the anthology, one of the research papers and the retreat planning, and then my stress level will be just right.

As with all things, balance is always the goal, and when it comes to self-imposed stress, balance is particularly crucial.

Will I ever get it right?

Probably not.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Gardening, girlfriends, Marriage, Stress, time, Writing

Finding balance, an elusive sport.

There’s no question that it’s a lot easier to maintain balance in my life with a home, husband and dog. Still yet, it ain’t easy, at least not for me.

First of all, there just isn’t time enough in the day to work, exercise, floss, plan prepare and eat food, play music, veg on the couch, work in the yard, hang with friends, pay attention to family, throw the ball for the dog, do laundry, keep up with schoolwork, take the occasional trip to clear the mind, blog… the list is endless, and most of it is daily.

As a result, I eat too much or not enough. I exercise too much or not enough. I spend too much time on the couch or not enough. Get my drift?

But when I manage my time correctly, and can finish all the “must-do’s” in time to read for leisure, or flip through magazines or gardening catalogs, when I can end the day feeling good about everything I’ve done without putting my foot in my mouth, then I feel good about myself and my life.

But boy, those days are few.

The good news is that it’s almost bicycling weather again. Then my balance will be thrown off further, only  not by the couch.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Gardening, Marriage, Stress, time

The peas are in!

The last two weeks of February are almost always beautiful. This is the promise of spring, I guess, or the false-hope that spring has actually arrived. These two glorious weeks of blue sky and light-jacket weather after months of cold gray drizzle make me a little giddy.

The first thing I do is get the pea bed ready, put up the trellis, and plant the peas.  I did that today.  And while I was in the garden, I pulled a bunch of weeds, and noticed the violets that are up, and the crocus. The daffodils are budding, and the tulips are popping up. Spring is definitely on the way.

But after the peas are in, winter returns. It always does. In fact, it’s going to rain tomorrow and turn cold again. But the rain isn’t the worst part. The worst is the fog. So we have cold, drizzly fog, after two weeks of actually believing that spring might be within grasp.

Every year I tell myself not to fall for nature’s cruel trick, but it never works.  I fall for it.  And I’m disappointed. Every year.

And yet, the peas will eventually come up, cold, drizzly fog and all, and by the time they’re ready to be lightly steamed and salted,  it really will be spring.

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Taking the Summer off

Taking the summer off seemed to be such a great idea back when I was overextended. In reality, it’s not so great.

I’m not bored — probably if there ever was a sin, boredom is it — but I don’t have enough to do. I’ve been reading, and gardening, and watching too much television, making jobs for Al to do around the house, poking my nose in affairs that aren’t mine… I’m eager to get into a project, but now it’s too late to take on anything large, as we’re going to be traveling the first half of September, and then it’s just a stone’s throw to school starting, work starting, and I begin teaching a new class on Writing for Veterans at LCC.

But whatever I thought this summer of leisure would be like isn’t it.  I’ll remember this next year.

I need to keep busy, or I’ll get myself into trouble.

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Filed under Gardening, Summer