Thursday, April 30, 2015

Celebrate Poetry with Grilled Lime Chipotle Shrimp

Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States are encouraged to celebrate the day by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day. Schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud today with pocket poem readings. 
Today is the day to share a poem or two.

Pocket Poem
by Ted Kooser

If this comes creased and creased again and soiled 
as if I'd opened it a thousand times
to see if what I'd written here was right,
it's all because I looked too long for you
to put in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me. 

Pippa's Song
by Robert Browning

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God's in his heaven -
All's right in the world! 

A Writing Kind of Night
by Ralph Fletcher

It is clear tonight
a writing kind of night.

There's a moon stirring up
mysterious metaphors
in my imagination.

The heavens are jam-packed
with planets and black holes
that are still uncovered,

and magnificent poems
that are still unwritten. 

Grilled Lime and Chipotle Shrimp
Cook's Notes: Grilled shrimp on a stick, marinated in a smoky chipotle lime marinade. If using wooden skewers soak 30 minutes in water before using.
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1-2 limes, juice and zest
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 TB. brown sugar or honey 
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin, 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Place marinade ingredients in a zip loc bag and add shrimp. Marinate the shrimp in the mixture for 30 minutes in the fridge.  
  • Skewer the shrimp and grill over medium-high heat until cooked, about 1-3 minutes per side.
Cooking Tip: 
Add the chipotles to the marinade one at a time and taste test for heat. And another option is to add a splash of tequila to the marinade.

Dear Readers,
  • Reminder book give away for 'This Strange Wilderness" is May 3rd. Choose a favorite Audubon quote and tell why you find it inspiring. Place your entry in the comment box at end of blog posting or send entry to my email. 
  • Yesterday I posted a Mexican Quinoa dish. Please note food photo was changed to a new option adding in chorizo sausage and Mexican cheese. I added these changes to the original recipe. These additions added an extra punch of flavor.  


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Enjoy a Poem with Easy One Pot Mexican Quinoa Dish

Reminder Poem in Your Pocket Day 2015 is April 30th. Need a poem to share? 
Please Bury Me in the Library
by J. Patrick Lewis from "Please Bury Me in the Library"

Please bury me in the library
In the clean, well-lighted stacks
Of Novels, History, Poetry,
Right next to the Paperbacks,

Where the Kids’ Books dance
With True Romance
And the Dictionary dozes.
Please bury me in the library
With a dozen long-stemmed proses.

Way back by a rack of Magazines,
I wont’ be sad too often,
If they bury me in the library
With Bookworms in my coffin.

that these cooking tips can help take out the mystery of market shopping for your Mexican cooking. Often you will find these items in Mexican cuisine. 

These peppers are actually smoked dried jalapenos. Often recipes call for using canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Finely chop any leftovers and freeze them with their sauce in a flattened zip top bag for another time.  
Queso Fresco
A common Mexican cheese that is bright white and salty. This cheese does not melt well so use it on salads or as a topper for a dish.
It is the tart cousin to the tomato. It is used in salsa verde. Tomatillos can be eaten raw or cooked. Store them in a paper bag in the fridge. Remove the papery husk and wash well before using. 
Mexican Quinoa

Cook's notes: This is a healthy dish packed with protein and gluten free. It can be made in one pot and be ready in 30 minutes. As a side it pairs well with grilled shrimp or your favorite Tex-Mex meal. For another alternative that kicks up the flavors in this dish I added crumbled cooked chorizo sausage and a Mexican blend of cheese.
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder or regular chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted chunky tomatoes
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn
  • juice of one lime
  • optional- one avocado, peeled and diced
  • optional- handful of cilantro, chopped
  • optional-1/2 lb. cooked and crumbled chorizo and 1-1/2 cups Mexican Blend 4 Cheeses
  • Heat oil in pan. Add in onions and garlic. Saute, about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  • Add in spices, saute about 1 minute more.
  • Add in quinoa. broth, canned tomatoes, beans and corn. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed. 
  • Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in avocado, lime juice and garnish with cilantro and queso fresco.   

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Cake and The World According to Bella

Celebrate spring and upcoming Cinco de Mayo (May 5) with an irresistible Mexican Chocolate Cake.
Mexican Chocolate Cake 
Cook’s notes: Mexican Chocolate Cake has an intense flavor when spiced with Saigon or Vietnamese Cinnamon. 
This cinnamon is the richest, sweetest cinnamon around. Its intense flavor is prized for its aroma in baking, curries, candies, savory dishes and hot drinks. Saigon cinnamon grows mainly in Vietnam’s Saigon district. It is readily available in stores. Regular cinnamon can be substituted in this recipe but the amount is doubled. Some recipes call for the addition of a dash of cayenne pepper or Mexican Chili powder when making Mexican cakes. It all depends on how adventurous your cooking spirit is to use either of these additions. Coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor. Note a mixer is not needed for this cake. 
Pair this cake with an easy Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Skillet Casserole. The recipe was previously posted

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 stick each margarine and butter (1cup total) 
  • ½ cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder or regular unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • ¾ cup water or brewed coffee
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 2 TB. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon or 2 tsp. regular cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch round cake pan or a 9 x 9 glass pan with cooking spray.
  • Melt butter and margarine in a saucepan over low heat and whisk in cocoa. Add water or coffee and whisk until smooth. Whisk in sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla one addition at a time. 
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then sift again and add to cocoa mixture. Whisk just until combined-there may be lumps.
  • Pour batter in pan and bake for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean from center of cake. Cool cake on a wire rack. If using a round cake pan invert onto a plate after 20 minutes. Glaze cooled cake. If using a 9 x 9 pan glaze cake in pan. 
Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
  • 2 TB. butter
  • ½ cup bittersweet or semi- sweet chocolate chips 
  • 3 TB. brewed coffee or water
  • 1 TB. light corn syrup
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts 
Chocolate Glaze Directions:
Melt butter, Whisk in chips, coffee or water and corn syrup in a saucepan on low. Stir until smooth. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in Kahlua and powdered sugar. Blend until smooth. Pour glaze over cooled cake and sprinkle with nuts.

The World According to Bella
Spring Launch

Mr. C and Mrs. S seemed awfully slow to get down the hill. 
I was first on board. This was one ride I did not want to miss!  

I wanted to check out the lake and my neighbors. I didn't care one bit it was cold and windy. I can report the following:
  • 7 loons enjoying a spring swim
  • 1 eagle and several sea gulls soaring overhead
  • the nearby resort looked deserted
  • no other boats in sight
  • only half of our neighbors had docks out
  • the water temperature was 53 degrees
Love, Bella
I might have to think about making some changes. I've been threatened with losing out on boat rides (one of my favorite things to do at the lake). I've already lost fishing privileges from last boating season. Mr. C and Mrs. S tell me they aren't impressed with my wild behavior barking at every moving thing on the lake and in the sky. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hungry for Food History

There are food museums, books, articles, websites and TV shows to name a few all devoted to the history of your favorite foods. But how about a podcast?
I met fellow foodie Karen Miller last year at Amelia Island 2014 Book Festival. She was selling her book "Succotash Dreams", a collection  of mouth-watering recipes, each accompanied by a short memoir story.

This is part of what I wrote on the blog
She is a freelance writer, author and former Amelia Island caterer. In addition, Karen is a regular contributor to the Amelia Islander Magazine. She is a resident of Amelia Island. Currently she is enjoying traveling, working on a book and researching a Civil War project. 
I had the pleasure of meeting her at the book festival. We both share a passion for food, recipes and writing.
Well fast forward to 2015 to catch up with Karen. 

In her words... I'm not catering anymore, but I'm working loosely on a vegetarian cookbook, so yes I'm testing lots of recipes. I still write restaurant reviews. I do a lot of food-related articles for various magazines, but mostly for our local Amelia Islander Magazine - suggestions for dinner parties, unique grilling techniques, trendy things going on in the food business. (btw, in my spare time I go backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and the Florida Scenic Trail.)
Her newest food project is a blog and a podcast called called A Brief History of Food.
Each podcast is 4 minutes long. 
Follow this link to a pod cast from March 24, 2015 on Red Flannel Hash.
Click on the arrow to listen. You can also subscribe to these podcasts for free on iTunes.
Some other favorite food topics recently covered by Karen on her blog site and podcasts include:
This is a photo of Karen taken at WJCT studios in Jacksonville. (their local public radio station.) Her producer's name is Ray Hollister.

The following is a press release for Karen Miller's podcast and website. 
A Brief History of Food Press Release

Karen Miller, a Fernandina Beach, Florida writer, has teamed up with Ray Hollister, host and executive producer of Deemable Tech, a Jacksonville, Florida radio show, to produce a new blog and podcast called A Brief History of Food. Miller met Hollister when she sent a tech question to the show, which airs on WJCT in Jacksonville every Thursday morning. Miller’s idea for a podcast featuring a short history of classic American dishes interested Hollister, and after several meetings they decided to launch the project together. The podcast is a 4-minute broadcast that discusses a different food each week, using history and memoir to tell the story. Listeners can then visit the web site for recipes. “Podcasting is a modern form of broadcasting over the internet, and it’s becoming the new face of radio journalism,” says Miller. “It allows listeners to access episodes of their favorite shows whenever they want.”

Miller was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and spent much of her life working in the newspaper business in Connecticut and New Hampshire, before moving to Florida She is senior writer for Amelia Islander Magazine, and monthly contributor to Jacksonville Magazine. She also works as a cookbook editor for The Art of Dining in Memphis, Tennessee.

Transplanted from Hollisterville, Pennsylvania when he was less than two years old, Hollister has lived in Jacksonville for most of his life. He graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts as a vocal arts major, and he was an internet services technology major at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He currently works at WJCT as their digital content editor.

I am sure you'll agree the past year has been a busy one for Karen. We wish her good luck with her newest food venture.
All this talk about food makes me hungry. This week on Ever Ready recipes for Cinco de Mayo will be highlighted. Tuesday's feature will be a spicy Mexican Chocolate Cake.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

This Strange Wilderness by Nancy Plain

“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best.” 
John James Audubon 

(April 26, 1785-January 27, 1851)
John James Audubon was the founder of modern ornithology. He was also an explorer, woodsmen, hunter, prolific writer, painter and self-promoter. He is considered to be one of the world’s greatest bird painters. His masterpiece, The Birds of America (1827-1839), depicts almost five hundred North American bird species, each image—lifelike and life size—rendered in vibrant color. 
Meet Nancy Plain, author of “This Strange Wilderness”
Nancy Plain is an award-winning writer of biographies and histories for children and young adults. She is a three-time Spur Award winner for her books “Sagebrush and Paintbrush”, “With One Sky Above Us” and “Light on the Prairie”. Other awards include The Nebraska Book Award for Youth Nonfiction, the Will Rogers Medallion Award, a Carter G. Woodson Honor citation, and First Place in children’s nonfiction from both the New Jersey Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women. Her books have been listed on the New York Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age” and recognized by the Children’s Book Council as “Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People.” She has won the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. 

Nancy’s books explore a wide range of topics from medieval times to Impressionist painting to the American West. She has published six books on Western topics. She is a member of the Western Writers of America and currently serves on its board.

Nancy and I met at the Tucson Book Festival. She finds American history a fascinating subject and is always curious about other people’s lives. Nancy hopes her young readers will be inspired by her love of history and come to realize the enjoyment that comes from learning about people from the past and their contributions. An exhibit of John James Audubon’s original watercolor prints in New York motivated her to pursue learning more about him. She was drawn to Audubon’s adventurous spirit, his own colorful writing and inspiring quotes.
I found her latest book, “This Strange Wilderness The Life and Art of John James Audubon”, to be a work of art. The first thing you will notice is the quality of paper used to print this book. It is further enhanced by Audubon’s beautiful watercolor reproductions. Nancy noted that Audubon’s birds glow with life and look real enough to hop off the page and fly away. This high quality volume combined with Nancy’s mesmerizing prose elevates this book above many on the same subject.

The book is well researched and meticulously documented with appendix, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and illustration credits included in the back of the book. Nancy effectively captures the essence of Audubon’s personal journey to uncharted places where no one had seen, drawn, or written so much about the animals and birds of this young country. In Audubon’s words, “My whole mind was ever filled with my passion for rambling.”

His quest took him all over the North American continent hiking thousands of miles in a lifetime. Audubon was a naturalist as well as an artist. He studied everything he could about birds, their eggs, speed of flight and even tried to understand their emotional lives. Almost every day Audubon wrote letters, detailed field notes and frontier tales. This documentation helped Nancy capture his lively high-spirited adventures in her book. Readers feel the pulse of excitement with Audubon’s high-risk adventures and discoveries. We are in awe with the commitment and dedication Audubon displayed as he overcame multiple obstacles in the wilderness to search out the things which have never been known to man. We empathize with Audubon’s struggles when his work took him away from his family for long periods of time. His frustration with constant lack of resources and multiple business failures. But also along Audubon’s journey we cheer on his successes and discoveries. We admire Audubon's zealous spirit as he remained committed to the end of his life to learn more about nature, birds and unknown lands and share this knowledge with others.

“This Strange Wilderness” has landed on the Kirkus Review list of 9 Teen Titles Adults Shouldn't Miss.
It has also earned a starred Kirkus review: "Like Audubon's paintings, this volume 'glows with life'.  A superb introduction to the life and times of a great American artist and naturalist. It details Audubon’s writing and art and transports the reader back to frontiers of early nineteenth-century America. The beautifully designed volume includes many reproductions of Audubon’s paintings, from the owls on the cover to the many full-page, full-color interior illustrations.” 

“This Strange Wilderness”although designed for the YA market, should not be overlooked by the adult reader. The watercolor reproductions are stunning and can be appreciated by any age group. From a historical perspective it is a superb introduction to an impressive man whose lasting legacy to ornithology shows a deep respect for nature. 

Nancy Plain’s writing is concise, poetic and engaging as she makes history come alive as we travel along with Audubon on his journey into the wilderness.

Check out Nancy's blog for further information on the author and her list of published books.

This was one of my favorite reproductions included in "This Strange Wilderness" 
Great Blue Heron
by John James Audubon  
Enter to win a copy of “This Strange Wilderness”
Submit your entry at the bottom of this post in the no comment box. Click on it and a comment box will appear. There are a lot of inspiring quotes attributed to John James Audubon. Select your favorite Audubon quote and tell why. Place in the comment box with your name and email.
For privacy purposes all comments automatically go to my email. Your name or email for this blog posting will NOT be posted.

One winner will randomly be selected and contacted. The winner will be notified after May 3rd. At this time all Audubon quotes and reasons for particular selection will be published without names or emails in a follow-up blog posting.

Entry deadline is May 3, 2015.

A Little of This and A Little of That

Some easy ideas for upcoming graduation parties, spring brunches and summer gatherings by the grill.
Salami-Cheese-Olive Appetizer Plate  
Kid-Friendly Treat from
Cook's notes: Best part kids can make their own. 
Oreo Ice-cream Sandwiches
this is what you need
stack of oroeos
bowl of sprinkles and your favorite ice cream with a 1.5 inch scoop

Directions: Separate the Oreo cookie and place a scoop of ice cream in between. Roll the edges of the ice cream stuffed Oreo cookie in sprinkles.

 Gummy Bear Sprite Popsicle Treat

Follow  the link below for easy directions
Basil Butter Garlic Bread
  • 4 TB. butter
  • 2 TB. Olive Oil
  • 1 bunch basil (a generous handful)
  • 1 bunch Parsley (use 1/3 of the amount used of basil)
  • 2 garlic cloves,, minced
  • 1 whole green onion, diced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 loaf Ciabatta Or French Bread
  • 1-1/2-2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine all the ingredients except the bread and cheese in a food processor, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cut open the loaf of bread and spread both halves with the basil butter. Put the halves together and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  • Remove the bread, separate the halves and divide the Parmesan cheese between two halves. Return them to the oven and change the temperature to 450 degrees. (You could also put them under the broiler.) Cook until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and starting to get brown.
recipe from from Tasty Kitchen
Cook's notes: The following link below connects up to 50 easy, easy brunch recipes that even the kids can help make. 
Omelet Tater Tot Bake 

Apple Oven Pancake

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
-- Mark Twain

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Caramelized Sesame Asparagus

Spring appears in whispers
and hushed tones,
as the bellowing winter
bows away.
Drowsy flowers come to
waking from their sleep-
with heads turned upward towards
the Maestro called Sun-
I watch with anticipation
the concert begins.
author unknown
Bacon Wrapped Caramelized Sesame Asparagus
Cook's notes: Oh, my this is an amazing side dish to put at the top of your "must do" recipe list. Pairing brown sugared bacon with fresh asparagus are flavors that compliment each other. This sweet and savory dish is perfect for your next brunch.
Recipe adapted from 4 and is easily multiplied.

  • 1 bunch of asparagus spears, stems removed
  • 4-8 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1-1/2 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 TB. toasted sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 TB. brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 TB.toasted sesame seeds
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray and place on top of the baking sheet.  
  • In a small bowl, whisk together oils, brown sugar and garlic. Set aside.
  • Divide asparagus spears in 12 bundles,  Wrap one piece of bacon tightly around each bundles of 3-4 asparagus spears. Place bundles on the wire rack seam-side down.  
  • Using a pastry brush or a spoon brush the spears thoroughly with the oil/sugar mixture. Give each bundle a hefty sprinkle of sesame seeds. Roast for 30 minutes, or until bacon is crispy. Serve warm.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

William Shakespeare and Spinach and Black Bean Burrito

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" According to historians' best guess, William Shakespeare's 451th birthday would be today, Thursday April 23, 2015. Stratford-Upon-Avon is a town synonymous with William Shakespeare where he was born and grew up there.

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
  • Shakespeare's surviving works add up to a staggering 884,647 words and 118,406 lines.
  • Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play, clocking in at 4,042 lines. His shortest is The Comedy of Errors, with 1,787.
  • Though commonly attributed to the Bard, Shakespeare never wrote or said "Oh what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive." The line belongs to Sir Walter Scott, from his 1808 poem Marmion.
  • According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Shakespeare coined more than 500 new words, many of which are still commonly used in English speech. Popular Will-isms include: amazement, bump, lonely, countless, useful, radiance and lackluster.
  • Shakespeare has been translated into at least 80 languages, including Chinese, Bengali, Tagalog, and Uzbek.
  • When the First Folio was published in 1623, you could buy a copy for £1, worth as much at the time as several hundred dollars today. In 2006, a surviving original copy of the First Folio (one of only about 230 in the world) sold for nearly $5 million.
  • "Shakespeare" is spelled 80 different ways in documents dating from the Bard's time, including "Shaxpere" and "Shaxberd."
  • A ticket to the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare's time would have cost you a penny, or $1.66 in today's money. At a posh indoor theater like Blackfriars, tickets started at a whopping sixpence (about $10). If you were rolling large, you could sit on the stage for two shillings ($40) or buy a box for half-a-crown ($50).
  • The average number of actors required for a Shakespearean comedy is 18. For the tragedies, it's 27. Histories require 35.
  • In his will, William Shakespeare bequeathed to his wife Anne Hathaway only his "second best bed." (Under the law, she was also automatically entitled to one-third of his estate and lifelong occupancy of Shakespeare's home.) There's no way of knowing whether this was a thoughtful bequest (hey, maybe she really liked that bed), some kind of inside joke, or a rather nasty insult.

Spinach and Black Bean Burrito
Cook's notes: A Healthy Meal 
Spinach & Bean Burrito Wraps not only taste amazing, but they are also packed with tons of nutrients! Each wrap has a whopping 13 grams of protein and one whole cup of spinach and weigh in at only 282 calories per wrap. Serves 6.
Recipe from

  • 6 cups baby spinach, loosely packed 
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice or Mexican Rice (following manufacturer's directions on the box) 
  • 3/4 cups chopped romaine heart lettuce 
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, reduced-fat 
  • 3/4 cup chunky salsa or Pico de Gallo 
  • 7 tablespoons Greek yogurt, fat-free 
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste 
  • 6 (8" whole grain) wraps or tortillas 
  • optional 1 cup of corn and 1 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • To warm tortillas, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stack tortillas, wrap in foil, place on a cookie sheet and warm 15 minutes while preparing ingredients. 
  • Place spinach in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, or use a knife to dice leaves. In a large skillet turn to medium-heat, add black beans and spinach. Heat until spinach is wilted, approximately 3 minutes. 
  • Evenly distribute spinach and bean mixture in the middle of the wraps (leaving about 2" on one end for folding), add 1/4 cup rice to each wrap, add lettuce, cheese, salsa and Greek yogurt evenly over wraps. Fold wraps over and under on the ends. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015 and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Earth Day 2015: Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on every 22nd of April. Earth Day is celebrated worldwide to give support and spread the word about environmental protection.
It was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. The day was organized to help promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and and soil pollution. It has grown into a global event recognized by over 192 countries. Devoting a special day to helping the earth is a way to demonstrate how much we care about the future of our planet. No matter what you like to do best, there's a way to get involved in Earth Day. You could plant a tree, make a meal with locally-grown vegetables, educate a family member, clean up trash in your neighborhood, set up a bird feeder or save power — the possibilities are endless. Remember, you don't have to wait for Earth Day to show your love for the planet we call home-Earth.

Earth, What Will You Give Me?
by Beverly Mc Loughland

Earth, what will you give me

In summer 
In summer, 
Earth, what will you give me 
In summer 

I’ll give you my fields
Made of lilies,
Of lilies,
I’ll give you my fields
Made of lilies
And green.

And what will you give me
In autumn 

In autumn
And what will you give me
In autumn
So bold?

I’ll give you my leaves
Made of maple,
Of maple,
I’ll give you my leaves
Made of maple
And gold.

And what will you give me
In winter, 

In winter, 
What will you give me
In winter
So light?

I’ll give you my stars
Made of crystal,
Of crystal,
I’ll give you my stars
Made of crystal
And white.

And what will you give me
In springtime,
In springtime,
And what will you give me
In springtime
So new?

I’ll give you my nests
Made of grasses,
Of grasses,
I’ll give you my nests
Made of grasses
And blue. 
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -- John Muir

Cook's notes: Wondering how to make some of your favorite restaurant dishes? Follow this link to copycat recipes for free recipes from many restaurants such as Olive Garden, Applebees and Chipolte. The recipes cover a wide range of food categories: side dishes, chicken dishes, salads,dips, gravy and desserts to name a few. 
Panera restaurant has posted many recipes and I was overjoyed to find my favorite soup from there called Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. It tastes like "the real deal" and was easy to put together. When stored in airtight container it lasts up to 5 days in the refrig or in a freezer for up to 3 months.
It is important to use higher quality canned tomatoes such as San Marzano. They are readily available at stores like Walmart, Publix and Target. The other important ingredient is using fresh basil. I purchased basil in a plastic container in produce section.  
The soup tastes better if flavors have time to meld. So either make the soup early in day before serving or the day before. 
Serves 4-6 depends on size of bowl.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 2 TB. good quality olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 -1/4 cups sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cans each 28 oz. San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 8 basil stems with leaves, remove stems and dice leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • In a heavy bottom pot (or dutch oven)heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, saute for 5 minutes.
  • Add in canned tomatoes with juices. chicken stock, sugar, chopped basil and oregano. Cook uncovered for 12 minutes or until fairly thick. 
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender puree the tomato mixture until there  are no chunks and return soup back to original pot on stove. 
Cooking tip: I found working with 3 cups at time was manageable.
  • Whisk in half and half or heavy cream. Cook on low heat uncovered for 25 minutes. 
  • Serve with your favorite grilled cheese or French bread.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Lucky Day and Poetry on a Stick

because today truly was my lucky poetry day. I was a winner of the poetry book give-away from in celebration of April Poetry Month. 
Audrey Kletscher Helbling who writes mnprairieroots. com blog  was giving away an autographed copy of 2015 Poetic Strokes & Word Flow, A Regional Anthology of Poetry from Southeastern Minnesota. This collection includes 55 poems by poets from 10 southeastern Minnesota counties. Two of the poems in the book were Audrey's “Wednesday Night Bingo at the Legion” and “Class Reunion.”Readers were encouraged to send in an entry naming their favorite poet and why this person was chosen. Of course I picked Billy Collins.
Check out Audrey Kletscher Helbling's blog from today announcing the win

Perhaps you remember two previous blog postings regarding Poetry on A Stick 2014

David Bengtson, a poet from Central Minnesota with his wife Marilyn came up with this creative idea to promote poetry. In fact he has made and given away more than 8,300 Poems-on Sticks. He first got started with his poetry give away at the Minnesota State Fair. 
Today I had an opportunity to pass out over a 100 poems on a stick at a spring luncheon.  It definitely was a day brightener for me having poems shared and talked about at the tables. 

You can get in on poetry fun April 30th by celebrating National Poem in a Pocket Day.   
National Poem In Your Pocket Day is celebrated in 2015 on April 30. This day was created to share the joy that poems bring by carrying some in your pocket and sharing them throughout the day with others. Parks, libraries, schools, workplaces and bookstores will have events celebrating this day. It has been known that librarians have distributed poems to local hospitals, shop owners have handed out books of short poems to shoppers and food vendors have put poems in lunch sacks. (

It is the perfect day to share your poem on Social Media using #PoemInYouPocketDay.

So to join in the fun all you have to do is find some of your favorite poems, make a few copies and share with friends and family. 
Keep A Poem In Your Pocket 
by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
the little picture bring to you
a dozen dreams to dance to you
at night when you’re in bed.
Keep a picture in your pocket
and a poem in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

The Lesson
by Billy Collins

In the morning when I found History
snoring heavily on the couch,
I took down his overcoat from the rack
and placed its weight over my shoulder blades.

It would protect me on the cold walk
into the village for milk and the paper
and I figured he would not mind,
not after our long conversation the night before.

How unexpected his blustering anger
when I returned covered with icicles,
the way he rummaged through the huge pockets
making sure no major battle or English queen
had fallen out and become lost in the deep snow.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...