Celery, Fig, and Gorgonzola Salad with Steak and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
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Celery, Fig, and Gorgonzola Salad

Amazing! This Celery, Fig and Gorgonzola Salad is both paleo and delicious. It surprised me that a salad whose main ingredient is celery could be so good.

But, it was and it is and I’m thankful that I tried it. It does require overnight work as you’ll see …

First, here are the ingredients ~ Celery, Honey, Gorgonzola Cheese, Lemon and  Sun Maid Mission Figs. You’ll also need salt, pepper and olive oil.

Ingredients

Ingredients (Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil not shown)

You’ll need to prepare the celery the night before by getting a large bowl, adding ice and water to it, then the celery and putting it in the refrigerator overnight.

Soak celery overnight in ice water

Soak celery overnight in ice water

The following day, drain the celery and put it in a colander that is set over a larger bowl so it can drain. Then put this back in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours.

Next you’ll be combing the gorgonzola, honey, olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl. Then season this with salt and pepper.

Gorgonzola Mixture

Gorgonzola Mixture

The celery is then added to the gorgonzola mixture and tossed to combine everything together.

Ready to see the recipe?

Ingredients

  • bunch celery, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias, about 3 inches in length
  • 1/2  pound Sun Maid Mission Figs
  • 1/2 pound Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgen Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper (to your taste)

Directions

  1. Clean your celery well then place it in a large bowl filled with water and enough ice to cover the celery.
  2. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the celery soak overnight.
  3. The next day, drain the celery in a colander and throw out the water.
  4. Leave the celery in the colander and place the colander over a large bowl then set this back in the refrigerator and allow it to drain for a couple hours.
  5. Combine the gorgonzola, honey, olive oil and the lemon juice in a large bowl then season this with salt and pepper.
  6. Slice the celery about 3 inches in length, cut on the bias, then add it to the gorgonzola mixture and toss to combine it all.

I halved the recipe and used regular gorgonzola instead of the picante cheese one that was recommended.

That’s it! It really is quite delicious ~

I served this salad with mashed sweet potatoes and a steak.

Celery, Fig, and Gorgonzola Salad with Steak and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Celery, Fig, and Gorgonzola Salad with Steak and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Enjoy!

For more recipes, click here.

Special thanks to Martha Stewart for this recipe.

 

 

 

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Antique Cars

I always find local small town fairs interesting, don’t you?  This summer we attended one in Shoreview, MN.

One of the “highlights” of this fair was an antique car show.

I have to say ~ I am not normally drawn to old cars but for some reason I became excited as I saw them driving onto the lot where we could go “check them out.”

So ~ you are in for a treat as I took many many pictures. Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy the pictures.

1936 Ford Humpback

1936 Ford Humpback

1936 Ford Humpback

1936 Ford Humpback

The front of the Ford Humpback looks so distinguished.

1936 Ford Humpback

1936 Ford Humpback

Perhaps because of my Hispanic background, I like looking at the uniquely colored ones like this blue 1955 Chevy.

1955 Chevy 210

1955 Chevy 210

Can you imagine yourself riding in this 1927 Ford Roadster? Not much trunk space, but it would make for a nice romantic ride in the country with the bench style front seat.

1927 Ford Roadster

1927 Ford Roadster

1927 Ford Roadster

1927 Ford Roadster

1927 Ford Roadster

1927 Ford Roadster

The elongated type cars weren’t especially one of my favorites. The hood and trunk are large but the inside of the car doesn’t have much space.

1976 Monte Carlo

1976 Monte Carlo

1976 Monte Carlo

1976 Monte Carlo

Here’s an SS (Special Series) Chevy Cheville. (I learned what the SS meant from a friend ~ thanks Karl!)

1970 Chevy Chevelle

1970 Chevy Chevelle

Even the filter in this car is reddish looking.

1970 Chevy Chevelle Engine

1970 Chevy Chevelle Engine

Another friend of mine is a Buick collector. This is what he shared with me about the 1964 Buick Riviera: “the engines were “big”  like 425 cubic inches total piston displacement. But because they were V-8 rather than straight 8s they were not overly long.  A lot of the hood length was styling.  It could probably have been 12inches shorter without crowding.”  So, now you know.  (laughing)

1964 Buick Riviera

1964 Buick Riviera

 

1964 Buick Riviera Dashboard

1964 Buick Riviera Dashboard

My friend also told me that if I wanted to see the “ultimate 64 Riviera” to look up the 2014 Detroit Autorama Ridler award, J.F.Launier is the owner builder (he invested $600K in the car). And boy, is that a beauty!  Click here for the link.  

1964 Buick Riviera Trunk

1964 Buick Riviera Trunk

Here’s another “fun” looking car. Perhaps it’s the curves on the car (besides the color) that draw me to this car.

1957, Chevy BelAir

1957, Chevy BelAir

1957, Chevy BelAir, Dashboard, Blue

1957, Chevy BelAir, Dashboard, Blue

Even the inside is blue!

1957, Chevy BelAir, Seats

1957, Chevy BelAir, Seats

This 1923 Ford Model T reminded me of an Amish buggy. What do you think?

1923 Ford Model T

1923 Ford Model T

1923 Ford Model T

1923 Ford Model T

And here’s another Buick ~ the Wildcat. It reminded me of a Mustang ~ to which my friend Jim replied: “the WC is about 2.5 feet longer and weighs almost 2,000 pounds more, 425 cubic inch displacement with dual four barrel carburetors, four speed manual transmission and looks like about $30,000.”

1964 Buick Wildcat

1964 Buick Wildcat

1964, Buick Wildcat

1964, Buick Wildcat

Anyone like the color orange? This 1959 Chevy Bel Air is beauuuutiful.  They sure take care of these cars. Look how shiny it is!

1959, Chevy BelAir, Orange

1959, Chevy BelAir, Orange

1959, Chevy BelAir

1959, Chevy BelAir

Although there were many many more cars, these were the ones that caught my attention. Did you have a favorite?

 

 

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Spicy Grilled Drumsticks
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Spicy Grilled Drumsticks

What a beautiful day in Minnesota. We’ve been fortunate that this summer has been cooler than normal.

So ~ my husband has been doing a lot of grilling this summer. I come up with the recipes and he heads out to the grill to “cook” them.

We tend to have a lot of chicken thighs and breasts but one day I decided to venture out of the norm and get some drumsticks. This paleo Spicy Grilled Drumsticks recipe came out delicious! How did my brain manage to do that?

First I bought a pack drumsticks.

Drumsticks

Drumsticks

Then I gathered the ingredients that I wanted to use ~ just a few.

Ingredients

Ingredients

I also used about 1/4 cup of olive oil ~

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

In a small bowl, using a whisk, I mixed the ingredients with the olive oil.

Mix ingredients with olive oil

Mix ingredients with olive oil

In a separate bowl, after cleaning and drying off the drumsticks, I added them to a bowl then dumped the olive oil mixture on top. Next I mixed it all together.

Combine drumsticks with ingredients

Combine drumsticks with ingredients

Here they are prepared and ready to be grilled.

Prepared Drumsticks

Prepared Drumsticks

Ready to see the recipe?

Ingredients

  • 1 package drumsticks (6 or so)
  • 2 teaspoons Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Grey Poupon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon pure Honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more if you like really spicy food)
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Clean and dry the drumsticks then place them in a medium sized bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, add the olive oil and the rest of the ingredients then whisk them together to combine them.
  3. Slowly pour the olive oil mixture over the drumsticks stirring frequently to combine it all. (You may not need to use all of the mixture depending on your taste.)
  4. Grill the drumsticks until they are cooked all the way through.

That’s it! Such an easy and tasty recipe.

I served this with a baked sweet potato and a cucumber/tomato salad.

Spicy Grilled Drumsticks

Spicy Grilled Drumsticks

Enjoy!

(For a list of additional paleo recipes, click here.)

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Prunes and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Onions

The original recipe for this meal included figs instead of prunes and cream cheese but I left out the cream cheese and substituted the figs for the prunes since I was not able to find figs at the store ~ strange, no?

Let’s check out the ingredients first …

Ingredients

Ingredients (Olive Oil not shown)

Before I started preparing the chicken ingredients, I started the onions caramelizing. I love caramelized onions so I used two of them.

Add onions t skillet to caramelize

Add onions to skillet to caramelize

Next I prepared the filling ingredients …  Since I didn’t use the cream cheese from the original recipe I’m not sure if this should be smoother or not but it looked pretty smooth to me.

Prepare filling

Prepare filling

Using a wooden rolling pin (I didn’t have a mallet) I pounded the chicken as flat as I could get it. Then I spread the filling on top of the chicken. Be careful not to spread it too thick because you’ll be rolling the chicken up with it.

Pound Chicken Flat, Add Filling on Top

Pound Chicken Flat, Add Filling on Top

Then I rolled up the chicken. See the filling trying to ooze out? Instead of trying to find a small dish to put the chicken in so it wouldn’t move around, I decided to roll them in aluminum foil and bake them that way. That held the chicken with its filling quite nicely.

Roll Up the Chicken

Roll Up the Chicken

Here’s the chicken all rolled up and ready to go into the oven.

Roll Chicken in Aluminum Foil

Roll Chicken in Aluminum Foil

Let’s check on the onions, shall we? Pretty, pretty, pretty!

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

Alright then, ready to see the recipe?

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in large slices
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cleaned and pounded flat
  • 9 large dried prunes, minced
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Aluminum Foil

Directions

  1. Set your oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium sized skillet set on medium heat, add the olive oil then the onions.
  3. Allow the onions to brown on one side then turn them over to the other side. Keep checking/turning them to make sure they don’t burn. You want them nicely browned and soft ~ caramelized.
  4. When the onions are ready, set them aside in a bowl. (The process can take up to 45 minutes although on a higher heat it can be done quicker.)
  5. In a small bowl, add the melted butter, prunes, goat cheese and the balsamic vinegar then mix it all together.
  6. Pound the chicken breasts as flat as you can get them with a wooden rolling pin (or anything else you have around).
  7. Spread the goat filling on top of the chicken then roll the chicken up.
  8. Cut a piece of aluminum foil that’s large enough to roll the chicken in then place your rolled up chicken in it and wrap it with the foil.
  9. Put the foil covered chicken in a glass casserole dish then set it in the oven to bake for approximately 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the chicken from the oven and make sure it’s thoroughly cooked.
  11. Add the caramelized onions on top of the cooked chicken and serve.

Hope you enjoy this paleo meal. I served mine with roasted squash and slices of cucumber and tomato.

Prune and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Onions

Prune and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Onions

Special thanks to Life As A Plate for the original recipe.

For more paleo recipes, click here.

 

 

 

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Mayo-less Egg Salad
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Mayo-less Egg Salad

This salad was easy and, although I had my doubts initially, quite tasteful.

I thought for sure I would miss the mayonnaise ingredient, but I didn’t.  And, I did nothing to make it paleo ~ made it just as the recipe said, well, pretty much.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • Parsley, handful, minced
  • 6 green olives, pitted and minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper (to your taste)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together a dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice and mustard then set this aside.
  2. In a larger bowl, mash the eggs with a potato masher, add the dressing, scallions, parsley and olives then mix everything together.
  3. Add the dressing slowly to the egg mixture to get the right consistency for yourself.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

This recipe was delicious, however, it does not keep well overnight as it gets soggy so eat it immediately.  You won’t be sorry.

I served this with baked salmon and grilled yellow squash.

Mayo-less Egg Salad

Mayo-less Egg Salad

For more recipes, click here.

 

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Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Dill
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Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Dill

Sometimes I don’t feel like making a “new” entree so instead I find a new side dish that will complement the entree.

Today was such a day.

I found this recipe in a book called 1,000 Vegan Recipes which has quite a few excellent side dishes that are paleo.

The ingredients are quite simple ~

Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Dill

Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Dill

Looks simple enough, eh?

I only used half of the brussels sprouts in the bag since there’s only the two of us and I just needed a small side dish. I cut the tips off the ends of the brussels sprouts, sliced them lengthwise and then cleaned them. Then I steamed them for a bit.

Prepare the brussels sprouts

Prepare the brussels sprouts

After slicing the shallots, I softened them up in a little olive oil.

Saute the shallots

Saute the shallots

Then everything is thrown together (okay, okay, not literally thrown) to get a nice side dish.

Ready to see the recipe?

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 shallots, quartered lengthwise
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried dill seeds

Directions

  1. Steam the Brussels Sprouts until they are just tender ~ about 7 minutes ~ the set them aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat then add the shallots and cook until they are softened.
  3. Add the tender Brussels Sprouts and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook until the shallots and sprouts become lightly browned ~ 5 minutes or so.
  5. Add the dill seed, stir to combine then serve immediately.

I served this side dish with baked yams (Trader Joe’s calls them Sweet Potatoes but I know better) and the Slow Cooker Twenty Garlic Chicken. Delicious!

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Dill

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Dill

And just for you, here’s a Brussels Sprouts factoid: Brussels Sprouts may have originated in Brussels, Belgium and are quite popular in that area.

 

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Olympic Mountains
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A Friend’s Death

It’s been a tough month for me having to deal with the death of a friend who I’ve known for 17 years.

She would have been 85 years old but died 2 days short of her birthday. Having been on hospice 4 times in the past 2 years, I had grown accustomed to the calls from the nurses giving me updates on how well she was doing. One morning, she woke up, drank her Ensure and fell back asleep.

By early afternoon she was having trouble breathing although she was resting comfortably. Deep breaths. Heart rate 150, then 160 then 180. She suffered from atrial fibrillation and Alzheimers. I was getting calls every 30 minutes from the caregiver and then the hospice nurse called. “We’d like to administer morphine.” I said no as I had been told she was resting comfortably by the caregiver she lived with. “She’s having difficulty breathing, her pulse is over 180 and her face is contorted — she’s uncomfortable and looks distressed.” “Okay,” I said softly, “but I want an update before you administer more than the lowest dose.” Fifteen minutes after the injection she was gone. That quickly.

Fortunately, I had already booked a trip to Seattle to check in on her and was scheduled to fly out two days later. My mind went blank as I wasn’t sure what her death would entail. I was her personal representative (also known as executor) and had never been one before. When I arrived at the airport, my son picked me up and we had breakfast together. Afterwards, I picked up the rental car and headed straight to the funeral home. A friend, who had offered to have her buried in the same cremation plot as his wife, met me there.

While waiting for my friend to arrive, I walked around the cemetery. Most of the grave markers I saw weren’t easily readable. I walked over to one where another friend of mine had been buried. I missed her so much and memories of our time together flooded my mind. Someone else had been here recently as a vase with almost dead roses was set in front of the marker. At least she’s being remembered, I said to no one.

Dorothy Moore Grave Marker

Dorothy Moore Grave Marker

Washelli Cremation Cemetery

Washelli Cremation Cemetery

Being here made me feel as if life was meaningless. I thought about Solomon’s words in the Bible …

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”     says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!     Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

These words would come back to haunt me for the duration of this trip and beyond.

I already had a paid contract for the services that the funeral home/cemetery would provide but because of a mix-up more money had to be paid. That’s okay I thought to myself — she can’t take it with her.

Once all the arrangements were confirmed, I drove to the adult family home where she had a room that needed to be cleaned out. The caregiver greeted me and hugged me but I felt nothing. Perhaps it was my state of mind but the hug seemed irrelevant to what had happened. I went to her room and everything, with the exception of her clothes, dolls and paperwork, was gone. No bed. No side table. One room contained everything that she possessed when she died.

“Meaningless …”  As I went through her things I found myself overwhelmed for no particular reason. The caregiver had left me boxes so that I could pack things up. “The carpet cleaners will be here tomorrow evening,” she said. Oh. I guess that meant that I had a full 24 hours to go through all of her belongings.

There was no time to go through each item so I started separating the garbage from the pile of things that I would need to figure out what to do with. After 3 hours I couldn’t do it anymore and left with a couple of boxes that I dropped off at the local Goodwill.

My friend had left me all of her possessions. She had very little money — mainly dolls, clothes, family photos, paperwork. What is the point of my keeping all of this?

She was estranged from her family — one son had molested her, one son was on drugs and the daughter stole from her and had also been on drugs. Sitting here going through her things I remembered the conversation I had had with her daughter the day after her mother died. I called and left a message for her to please call me and when she did … well, I was unprepared for what happened.

She: What do you want?

Me: I called to let you know that your mother passed away yesterday.

She: Well, those things happen.

Me: Silence for a little bit. Then “Okay, well, I was wondering if you could let your brothers know.”

She: Yes, I can, no wait, I’m not going to do you any favors Norma.

Then the phone went dead. She had hung up on me.

Sitting here looking at the family photos I wondered how this family had gotten to be so estranged. (Later in the day, the brother did call me to tell me his sister had called him.)

The caregiver had told me that I could leave whatever clothes I didn’t want and she would use them for another resident. That was a good thing. I took a few things that I had given to her and packed them for myself.

She was a doll collector so I packed a couple of boxes of dolls — one for myself and one for her niece who was the only one in the family who stayed in touch with her on a regular basis.

Another box of pictures was packed to send to the son who called me. I decided to keep the really old pictures of her grandmother, grandfather and parents so that I could make a DVD for the family and send it during the holidays. The niece will appreciate it, the children — who knows?

After loading the car with boxes, I took it to the friends house where I was staying. I would go through these boxes the next day.

The thought kept popping up in my head — this is all meaningless.

We collect things that supposedly give us pleasure only to die and have someone else go through them and toss or give away what doesn’t give them pleasure. It’s a vicious cycle. A meaningless cycle in life.

I found myself feeling depressed.

I decided not to have a funeral service for my friend because frankly, I felt alone and didn’t know if I would be able to endure it. She had a few people who might come but not her children and I did not have the impetus to call people and gather them up for a service.

No. She was dead. She couldn’t care what I did. The only person any of this would matter to was me, so I chose what was best for me.

A friend took me kayaking at Entai Beach in Bellevue to “get you away from funeral and death thoughts” and it worked quite well. The day was lovely.

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaing

Entai Beach, Kayaing

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Entai Beach, Kayaking

Beautiful lilies along a walkway really helped to lift my spirits.

Lilies

Lilies

Before leaving Seattle, I was able to get copies of the death certificate, contact the bank, contact the insurance companies and social security. Things flowed quite well actually.

Of course, I had shipped paperwork, dolls and family photos to myself so I still have to go through it all along with figuring out what to do with 15-20 porcelain dolls.

Life — it’s so precious. Possessions — meaningless.

The good influence we as humans have on each other seems to be getting more and more insignificant as morality appears to be decreasing. We go from day to day living our lives — eating, drinking, working, gardening, socializing. Then we become dust.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

It is only our actions that may continue the journey in life as they affect the lives of other people. Soon, too soon, the dead are forgotten. No one remembers their laughs, their cries, their sorrows …

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

What is left?

Well, for those who don’t believe in God, there is nothing. You simply live and then die.

For those of us who believe in God there is the hope of a resurrection at the second coming of Jesus. That, my friends, is what I hang onto. Not just a belief in an invisible God but a belief in a God who speaks to me everyday, counsels me every day and loves me, every day. The relationship is much stronger than any I’ve ever had.

The old adage “seek and you will find” is true. Fortunately it works both ways — both God and I seek each other.

Meaningless?  Things — yes. Relationships – no. Remember this the next time you have to make a choice between a thing and a person.

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Frogs

Well, if it ain’t turtles hanging around our house it’s the frogs. Last year we had a gray frog — perhaps it’s the American Toad. It sure looks like it.

 

Minnesota Toad

Minnesota Toad

This year my husband was clearing an area of leaves so he could plant some milkweed plants (they attract butterflies). He put the leaves in the compost container and I came along and closed the lid. I don’t know who jumped first — me or the frog. He was just a little itty bitty thing and I almost missed him because he was green just like the compost container.

Here he is — he is either the Copes Gray Tree Frog or the Gray Tree Frog — you have to hear it “croak” in order to tell the difference. The frog appeared a tad frightened as his throat kept bulging in and out as if he was breathing hard but no sound was heard. Notice the toe pads on the frog? They help it cling to the bark of trees or other surfaces. They are a good candidate for nail polish (hahahahaha).

Gray Tree Frog

Gray Tree Frog

Here he is just a tad closer.

Gray Tree Frog

Gray Tree Frog

From what I’ve been reading, these frogs can camouflage themselves.

There are approximately 14 species of frogs in Minnesota. So — I guess I better keep my eyes open for them. We hear a chorus of frogs singing most nights.

Have you ever seen this one before?

 

 

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