Monday, April 29, 2013

Diabetes Sugar Balancer - Okra Recipe

A work colleague from India shared a recipe with me for okra. I have always liked okra in gumbo and JS has made some very tasty dishes with it, mixing in various spices and succotash type items, however, my colleague's recipe is my absolute favorite way to eat okra, and since acquiring said recipe, is the way I prepare it most often. I've added garlic cloves to make it even more tasty. It's very simple:

Any amount of okra, however much you'll eat, stem ends cut off and okra cut in to about 1/2 inch pieces
Whole garlic cloves (JS cleaned 3 heads for our last batch, and we ate them all!!)

Start your broiler

Put okra and garlic in a container that can be covered or in a plastic bag
Sprinkle about 1/3 c. olive oil over and put in curry powder, Mrs. Dash, a bit of salt, or any seasoning of your choice.
Mix it all together so everything is well coated
Dump the contents onto the bottom part of your broiler pan, as it's easier to stir if you don't use the drip portion of the broiler pan
Put the pan of okra/garlic under the broiler for 5 minutes, stir, 5 more minutes, stir, then an additional 5 minutes to finish it up
If you like your okra a little bit crispy, you can leave the oven door open while the broiler is doing its work

But don't go away.....more interesting info below this picture!

I came across some interesting information while trying to find out the nutritional value of okra. It seems that these little beauties are good for maintaining blood sugar levels. More information about this and a recipe for "okra water" can be found here

Although there is a picture of an okra blossom at that link, I've put my own below. This beautiful blossom is from T's okra grown last season.

Okra blossoms were created to be admired....they don't even need mirrors, they know how beautiful they are, and the way they smile back at us when we're looking at them indicates they know how beneficial it is to our psychological health to be a witnesses to their beauty : )

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Banana Split - sans ice cream

I was eating a banana the other day, for a quick bite to eat on my way out the door, and then grabbed a handful of peanuts as well. It reminded me of summer days when the kids were little. Once a summer we would get out the banana split boats and put together a good old fashioned banana split with strawberry syrup over strawberry ice cream, pineapple syrup over vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup over chocolate ice cream, whip cream spread over the top, sprinkled with peanuts and a maraschino cherry, all nestled within a split banana, ripe enough to be sweet as sugar.

I needed to update that meal, as I don't burn calories as quickly as in days gone by!!! My solution was to use fresh fruit instead of syrup, and yogurt instead of ice cream. I can live without the whip cream and cherry.

I'm sure anyone could figure it out, but I'll put the details here anyway.
I used:

1/8 c. Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips, chopped into small pieces
1/8 c. ground Planters Cocktail Peanuts
3/4 c. 0% Fage Greek yogurt
1 banana
1/2 c. pineapple
1/2 c. strawberries

Split the banana and set it in a banana split boat or bowl. Spoon the yogurt into three mounds in the middle of the split banana. Arrange fruit/chocolate chips in piles on each of the mounds of yogurt. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cancer Prevention

My son-in-law, C, introduced me to "To The Best of Our Knowledge", a Wisconsin Public Radio International podcast program that brings to us interviews with people from all over the world who have new and innovative approaches to various aspects of life. I was really surprised when I listened to Diana Beresford-Kroeger, who has written several books about our forests and the symbiotic relationship we have with them. One of the things I learned is when green hulled black walnuts fall from the tree to the ground in August, if they are picked up by children and played with, the chemicals from the hull are absorbed through the child's skin, those chemicals then interact with that child's internal chemistry, and results in the protection of that child from childhood leukemia for one year. Additionally, during the same period, from mid-August to the beginning of September, if a woman rubs the leaves of the black walnut tree on her inner arms, it is a preventive measure against breast cancer. I would suggest the PRI podcasts, in general, as great sources of new information, and Beresford-Kroeger's books, in specific, as wonderful guides to alternative ways of living with our environment and seeking alternative health therapies. There is wisdom, after all, in hugging a tree : )

T made me some wonderful soap from crushed black walnut shells, tea tree oil, and whatever other amazing stuff she put in to the mix. I know the soap is good for  my skin and the ingredients I absorb are not unhealthy, as she is super conscious of skin care product ingredients she buys or makes. It's pretty much my favorite soap : )

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


And guess what else? The robins are back! The bluebirds were back the other weekend too, but I think we might have been a stop on their way to somewhere else, because I haven't seen them for awhile. The early bird always gets the worm, but if they only knew how delicious it is to sleep in sometimes : )

Spring Flowers

Sweet smelling
Grows without purpose

Nothing like the flowers of early spring to remind us that it's time to renew and to reflect.

I envy those like H & B who also are able to grow such beauties indoors!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Unusual Spectator "Sports"

My favorite spectator "sport" could almost be bird watching, but there is nothing quite like watching an elementary school orchestra or band, and at that point in the development of their musical genius, watching is a lot more fun than listening, unless, of course, you are acquainted with a child prodigy : )

What impresses me even more than watching the children, is watching their conductor/teacher. What patience, what humor, what mix of qualities in a person that enables them to stand at the front of a group of budding musical artists and make them feel like they're the best musicians in the world. And then you know what? They eventually become talented grown up musicians, because somebody told them they were, before they were. Our kids had the benefit of experiencing these types of teachers in the schools they attended. Thinking back to those years brings back memories of Ms. Jillcot (thank you, T!) and Mr. Pettinelli. Ms. Jillcot started with 6th graders and took them through to the 8th grade; the transformation of those students in three years was absolutely amazing. Mr. Pettinelli taught 4th through 6th, and you'd have thought he was Leonard Bernstein the way he turned the pages of his score and kept time with his baton, regardless of whether or not his students were following the score in exactly the same place or keeping the same time!!!! And they both BEAMED when they turned to the audience to give credit to their players. Hats off to our educators who instill the love for learning in our kids. Hats off to parents who still appreciate watching their children come together in a cooperative environment as a group of players, and who know it's just as important to cooperate as it is to compete when they are at that tender age.

Gemeinhardt 3SB Conservatory Model Flute, B FootjointNew E.F. Durand Nickel Bb Trumpet TR-610

Another favorite "sport" of mine is backgammon. I like watching other people play, but I'd much rather be one of the players. I don't even need a beautiful board upon which to play, just a willing backgammon partner! Even view one of the most exquisite backgammon boards in the here.

Hope you enjoy the post, and hope you enjoy unusual spectator "sports" on a regular basis!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

TurboTax 2012

And I think it's gonna be all right.
Yeah, the worst is over now,
The morning sun is shining like a Red Rubber Ball.

-Simon and Woodley

This is EXACTLY how I feel now that the taxes are done!
Doing the happy dance.
So glad this red ball decided to go wandering one day at winter's end to go along with this happy posting : )
It also helped that I was treated to a lunch of hot turkey soup, whole grain bread, and salad, all made by JS.
Still doing the happy dance.
If I ever forget my mobile phone at home or at the office, I feel a bit handicapped and uncomfortable. I have come to feel the same way about TurboTax. I USED to live without it...but I am ever so dependent on it now, it just makes life a lot easier.
Happy dance.
Could I live without these modern conveniences? Sure...but as long as they're included in my life, I'm going to appreciate them!!
HD, HD, HD, HD, and a big thank you to brain power united.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I always like preparing for any holiday, and I love the seasonal changes throughout the year that bring meaning to the holiday preparations. Each season reminds us we are creatures who live in a universe with which we have a symbiotic relationship. To recognize that relationship, and to respect it, is to be happy.

Springtime brings Easter, and the traditional meal handed down to us from my  husband's mother's family, the Slovak meal. We have learned the family is more Carpatho-Russin/Austro-Hungarian, but the really important thing is we have this great "Easter cheese" called hrutka, of which I had never heard before I met JS. The meal also includes ham, kielbasa, fresh lettuce salad, boiled eggs, chicken soup with egg noodles (which my mother-in-law said can be from the store, their usual method, but I love the home made ones!), horseradish, and mustard. Over the years we've added babka, paska, deviled eggs, hammentaschen, and pickled beets. Traditionally nut rolls and poppy seed rolls are on the dessert menu, and we've dabbled with poppy seed cake, but the hammentaschen seem to be most popular. This year we also had a very tasty carrot casserole contributed to the meal by our dear friend good I think it will become part of the tradition.

In bygone days, the traditional meal was all ready by Easter Saturday, then was taken to the church in a basket to be blessed by the priest. The only thing eaten hot on Easter Sunday was the soup, everything else was served cold. We stick to that tradition, and it's nice to not have to do too much to put the meal on the table on Easter Sunday.

Hrutka is not difficult to make, it's fun, and it smells like Easter when it's cooking. If you're watching your cholesterol or if you eat vegan, you may have to find alternative ingredients and experiment to find a successful substitute.  Here's the recipe:


1 dozen eggs
1 quart milk
1 cheesecloth
double boiler
cotton kitchen string
some versions add salt, sugar, raisins....I don't.

Place the cheesecloth over a strainer, place the strainer over the sink or over a dishpan large enough to catch the liquid contents of the double boiler you are using. Have a piece of sturdy cotton string ready to tie around the cheesecloth, long enough so the cheese can hang to drip.

Break all the eggs into the top portion of the double boiler and whip them with a fork until the yolks are broken. Add the quart of milk and lightly whip some more until the mixture is well blended. Put about an inch of water in the bottom portion of the double boiler and set the upper portion in place. Cook over medium high heat until the eggs start to coagulate, constantly stirring the sides and bottom of the pan. The eggs will coagulate to the point of looking scrambled, and the whey will lose its white milky appearance. When you dip the spoon to catch the whey, its appearance will be more watery than milky. Dump the curds into the cheesecloth lined strainer. Draw the corners and sides of the cheesecloth together, being careful not to burn your hands (I wear rubber gloves), this action creates a ball of curds. Tie the string around the cheesecloth, double knot it, then tie a knot at the top so you can hang the cheese from a cupboard knob. Place a bowl under the cheese to catch the dripping whey. After about 30 minutes, cover the ball, cheesecloth and all, with wax paper and place in the fridge. Next day remove the wax paper and cheesecloth, slice, and serve! Leftovers are good on toast.

I was having such fun with my family, I forgot to take pictures as diligently as I had planned, I'll make another hrutka and update this blog with better instructional photos, probably before the middle of May.

Didn't want to waste the dye     used to color the deviled egg whites, so CM made home made napkins! CM, JM, and JD made the hammentaschen.

   Flowers courtesy of B's

 HB also brought lovely truffles,  but again, I was preoccupied and  didn't get a bad!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I am going to post some of our Easter activities, but I got some shots of the cats during the week we were getting ready, so wanted to get those all in one place before I delve into the next subject. These two are such a couple of clowns, and their clown personalities shown like sunlight after they discovered the new catnip leaves sprouting (short movie below).

 More antics after we returned indoors
 There's new song by Cat Denver entitled "Wooden Mantle High"
 Pretending he wasn't trying to nip at the daffodils
 Very interested in the paper exiting the printer