An Apology, A Frittata and One Cat Musing

Fritata Ingred. 2Forgive my not allowing comments at this time. I’m learning a valuable life skill as I muddle through anti-spam tutorials.

Meanwhile, I’m home after a full month on the Mainland soaking up the love of dearest friends and sisters. In my absence, the dogs quickly shifted loyalty to my husband, while the cats just grew bitter. I walked into the backyard hoping for a tearful reunion and learned another valuable lesson: Dogs align with whomever feeds and  walks them. The free-loaders.

As for the cats, when I called their names, the three of them came trotting over from their various hiding places, only to spurn me once they were within stroking distance. It wouldn’t be until the following morning over coffee when they’d compete for lap space; writhing and rumbling, ecstatic.

Cats are punishers. But forgiving. The one that won’t cuddle with anyone but me is Mittens. Of course when my husband told me this one night on the phone I secretly celebrated. Why am I so keen on her exclusivity?  Is it a human trait that I want to be somebody’s one and only? It is. I am her guru and she is my devotee. How’s that for ego? Don’t hate me. I’m flawed.

Too tuckered to create a big meal, I hit the farmer’s market yesterday for these gorgeous mushrooms that the vendor carved directly off a white nubby “stump” about the size of my head. I’d never seen anything like it.  These, an avocado and a big bunch of kale made for a few fun ingredients for a frittata.

Fritata Ingred. 1

This cheesy, eggy comfort food can be whipped up pretty quick. I rummaged the fridge and cabinets for a few more additions and it all came together in under 30 minutes.

Try not to be alarmed by the luxurious ingredients. While I was away my husband gave up carbohydrates in lieu of fats. Cheese, butter, oils and avocado dominate this recipe. I grew up with a diet obsessed mother so for me, this is a 70s flashback. This style of eating throws the body into ketosis, a fat-burning state induced by eating fats and no sugar.

Fritata panFritata pauMushroom and Kale Frittata

2 tablespoon butter or olive oil

1/2 a medium onion

1-2 cloves minced garlic

2-3 cups finely chopped kale

1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms

a splash of white wine

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

8 eggs

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 cup parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a cast iron skillet or oven safe pan melt butter and sauté the onion until golden, add kale and stir two minutes, add mushrooms and wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer 7 full minutes stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water if needed.

Whisk together eggs, cream and cheese. Pour over the kale mixture and bake for 25 minutes. Serve with salsa and avocado.

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San Diego: August in Photos

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The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you. — Hafiz

I drink my first cup of coffee sitting on my sister’s porch watching sunrise pink the sky behind power lines and triangular roofs. This may not be Kauai but it is as beautiful in its linear, muted way; and besides, it’s the people who color this landscape for me. What I miss most when I’m not here is the overt friendliness of Southern Californians.

On mornings I run, I’m greeted by dozens of pedestrians and neighbors. This quality of chattiness and curiosity feels so specific to San Diego. No matter how much it’s grown, it still feels like the small community where I grew up.

One morning I met Martin and Zoie. Martin uses a cane and built his home on First Avenue 50 years ago. Zoie is his 12 year-old Dachshund with an arch in her spine that’s the result of a puppy incident with a car. Martin’s desert landscaped yard is a fascinating geographic and botanical lesson. He has a thorny “Dr. Seusian” plant from Madagascar that is topped with white flowers.

“The trees grow to 20 feet tall in Madagascar and the lemurs use the thorns as a ladder to escape their prey,” he tells me.

Another morning I met Ron Hurov, an 80 year-old seed collector, who was poking around an Iris patch near a park. His “tool” for thrashing the reeds was what caught my eye, with its turquoise bird face painted on the arched neck of the cane.

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My sis and I have been cooking together but no recipe today. Her husband Harold brought home Yellow Fin tuna after a day of fishing. A little time marinating in Italian dressing and a quick sear is all it required.

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Tender, Protein-Packed Pancakes

There’s breakfast people and there’s dinner people.

I like my coffee on an empty stomach early in the morning, followed by a leisurely dog walk and then a bite to eat around 9 a.m., which usually consists of cereal and yogurt; a one dish item requiring no preparation and few dishes.

almondy pudding pancake

On weekends when my husband is home, breakfast is a much bigger deal. The oven is a foreign place for him, so his experiments only require a skillet and a flame.  The man who shrinks from any form of cooking that requires a knife, happily tosses a bunch of raw ingredients into a mixing bowl in search of the perfect pancake.

And he found it.

He’s fallen in love with almond butter and cottage cheese, slathering them both on bread or whirring into his smoothies. Last weekend I sat cradling a coffee mug in my lap, as I watched him twist open jars, ravage cabinets and fridge for a host of boxes and containers he spread across the kitchen counter.

I was skeptical, but not for long. Even in the cast iron skillet, that he swears is the superior tool for the browning of pancakes, these little cakes looked different. Then I took my first bite and there was no question, these are the most tender and flavorful pancake I’ve ever eaten.

First, a disclaimer: Don’t dismiss the use of a pancake mix. Wes has studied the finer points of all box mixes and has tested a dozen: Aunt Jemima Original Pancake Mix is the best. Don’t substitute with the “complete” or any other strange variation. The key is the word “original.”

Almondy Cottage Cakes, drenched in Maple syrup

The stuff:

1 cup Aunt Jemima Original Pancake Mix

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2 mashed bananas

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup cottage cheese

1/4 cup almond butter

Coconut oil for the pan

Pour all the ingredients into a bowl. Wes uses an immersion blender, even though he’s aware some cooks caution against over-mixing. He said the cottage cheese and almond butter make the batter dense and a blender works best for combining the ingredients, with no threat of toughening the texture.

Heat a teaspoon or two of coconut oil in the pan and make pancakes to your preferred size. This recipe yields 6 to 8 pancakes. We double it and freeze some for eating during the week.


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Reduce Stress in Three Minutes and 27 Breaths

food cairns

Affirmations, mantras, exercise, meditation — I have a list of strategies to buoy my spirit when I’m not able to trust the ebbs in my life’s flow. Here is a mnemonic device I learned from a Tai Chi teacher 20 years ago that restores balance during mistrustful times.

Rhymed memorization tools work because they stick like glue in my brain. What makes this one especially effective is it joins the mind to a physical sensation in the body. Follow the instructions for each number with three breaths. It’s only 27 breaths long, which is approximately three minutes.

This exercise can be done sitting or standing. Either way, begin with relaxed and erect posture with your  feet flat on the ground and hip-width apart. Your arms can be relaxed at your sides or resting on your lap.

1-Fun. Lightly place the tip of your tongue behind the front teeth on the roof of the mouth. You’ll feel the muscles lift at the corners of your mouth, creating a tiny smile. Inhale and imagine lifting this smile one-eighth an inch off your face, then exhaling as you float it down the front of the body, right through the top of the foot to go “plink” into the earth. Follow the same pattern and float the smile down the center of your body and then a third time, inhaling to float the smile down the back of the body. Each time having the smile finish by plinking into the earth below your feet.

2-Shoe. Open the pad of each foot to the ground. Even if you’re in shoes on the 18th floor, you can ground yourself to the earth. Just imagine the skin on the bottom of your feet melding into the surface they meet. One way to experience more of a cleaving sensation to the earth is by lifting and spreading your toes, then return them lightly to the floor . I silently repeat to myself “2-shoe” as I imaging my feet joining with the ground on each breath.

3-Tree. Lift and open the chest, keeping the arms (limbs) relaxed. Now imagine from your grounded feet, two roots equalling your height, nudge down through the earth, twisting around rocks or any obstacle in the way. With each of the three breaths, send another root gently penetrating downward.

4-Core. Two inches below the bellybutton is a place considered the body’s energetic center. Think of it as a balloon you are filling with each inhale. It may help to place your hands, one over the other, just below your bellybutton. On an inhale, imagine energy rising up through your new roots. And on the exhale let your hands float back to your side. Inhale and exhale two more breaths, renewing your core with energy drawn up through your roots.

5-Alive. The energy stored in your core is now invited to spread throughout the rest of the body. With each of the three breaths, refresh the body with this new found reserve.

6-Thick. The air all around your body is viscous. It’s holding you up as surely as if you were standing in a pool of warm water. This one is my favorite for some reason. Feeling the air embrace me is comforting on a deep and visceral level.

7-Heaven. Press the crown of the head skyward to lengthen the neck, the sensation of pressing your crown into the sky may have the sensation of tipping the body forward slightly. Remember, three breaths for each expansion upward.

8-Gate. The opening in your crown is now a pathway into the body. Breath the heavenly energy down through this gate on the crown of your head.

9-Shine. Saturated with energy rising through your feet and down through the crown, shine it out through every pore.

This device can be used as a whole or in parts. In a panic, implementing even the first two helps me get grounded. All nine together work nicely as a warm-up prior to flowing Tai Chi, but I utilize them in any anxious situation.



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