My breakfast table has been taken over by potted plants! Now that I’m using the cactus shelf of the light stand to grow seedlings, they had to join the bonsais on the sunroom table. I don’t know where I’ll put the orchids when I need the top shelf also. I’ve got three trays started including leeks, onions, snapdragons and some other flowers, eggplant, and a few types of peppers. I’m grateful for patience, which today helped me to dust the sunroom from ceiling to window frames, since it’s still too cold to do much outside–at the end of March! Seems like an extra long winter…

Wren’s prescription for a happy life is to be as cute as possible.

Wren and I listened to a short TED talk this evening by Shankar Vedantam, journalist and host of the podcast “Hidden Brain,” in which he explains how we create our future selves, and advises we take charge of the process: This is a fundamental principle of mindfulness practice. His prescription is to stay curious, practice humility and be brave. I’m grateful that there are so many wise teachers out there in the world that find their way to my living room, including those I know personally.

This was one of the most delicious quick meals I’ve ever made: Almost Alfredo Garbanzo Beans. I saw the recipe this morning, and happened to have everything in the fridge, freezer and pantry. A half batch took about half an hour to cook up and could not have been more satisfying. Oh my, so simple, so delicious.

I’m grateful for the first crocuses blooming!

This evening I got my first ever social media hate, on one of my instagram posts in support of a drag queen. It heightened my compassion. I’m grateful for the practice that allowed me to receive it with some equanimity, even though it felt like a slap in the face. And grateful that I didn’t feel compelled to respond to it. I imagined a potential spiral of consequences, if only as simple as another hateful reply back. I contemplated responding with something like, “I feel compassion for your suffering,” but concluded the wise choice was to forget about it. I just noticed it a few minutes ago–it wasn’t remotely how I intended to start this post. So I’m gonna forget about it now!

I’m grateful for waking up alive on this snowy, drizzly Sunday, for a few hours of sunlight, for the first spring bulb tips poking out of the mud, and for the leisure to enjoy listening to some dharma talks while finishing this exquisite Liberty puzzle, Monet’s Studio at Giverny. I’m grateful to our little puzzle club scattered coast to coast for increasing our puzzle options each season. This one only took two days of joyful puzzling between cleaning, baking, reading, and sharing meaningful conversations with friends and family.

It was kind of a rough week inside my monkey mind. I’m so grateful for all the beauty and love in my life, for the support of friends, and for the growing capacity I’m gaining to turn my attention to these gifts, instead of letting meager thoughts depress me for long.

The first night’s progress…
Last night’s progress…

And finally, I’m forever grateful to neighbor Mary for sharing this extraordinary recipe for Big Soft Ginger Cookies. This is the basic recipe, though I make them with Mary’s tweaks, including half brown sugar-half white, and of course butter instead of margarine. I also toss in a few chocolate chips. So simple, so delicious. It’s the kind of treat that fills up your senses so full you can’t be anything but ecstatic while it’s in your mouth.

French Toast

Thick homemade bread, local happy-hen eggs, whipping cream, cinnamon-sugar, butter, real organic Vermont maple syrup, all the people and effort and resources that went into getting all these ingredients into my kitchen just in time for me to make lunch today: I am grateful.


Midday Shangri-la

I’m grateful today for the impromptu party that happened in my driveway this afternoon when the Bad Dogs stopped by with a delivery from the Asian Market and the Liquor Barn in Grand Junction, at the same time the Honey Badger dropped off this takeout meal from Best Slope Culinary that dear Mary had picked up in town. It takes a village! Once again and as always, I feel so grateful for this kind community.

Chef Brant’s Baharat (7 Spiced) Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas, Hot Honey and Yogurt was almost too spicy for me, but delicious for an early supper. The garlic hummus and soft bread was a great snack after a meeting, and I split the Blue Sky lemon tart for a dessert after each mini-meal. There’s enough leftover for some of each tomorrow. This chef grew up in the neighborhood, went out into the world for awhile and acquired mad culinary skills, and returned to the valley a few years ago, where he’s since made a fine name for himself. If you live around here or are passing through, take advantage of his changing weekly menu, and occasional popup restaurant.

An evening vignette between meals. Grateful for nourishing deliveries from friends and from Mother Nature.

Life of a Loaf

The most recent loaf of sourdough, fresh out of the oven eight days ago, lived a fulfilling life. As planned, I froze half of it after slicing, and enjoyed it almost every day since then.
It came out with the most perfect crumb so far, and sliced beautifully once cooled.
The center slices were so big that I ate each singly, toasted, with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and avocado mayo, for a couple of days for lunch.
On the fourth day the slices were small enough to justify a two-piece sandwich, and I added red onion to the cream cheese, with Havarti on top.
The fifth day I pickled the last of the tiny garden onions in seasoned rice vinegar, and mixed up some tuna fish, then grilled that with some sharp white cheddar.
The next lunch, I ate another open-face with avocado and leftover tuna salad, grilled with cheddar again.
In a crazy way, much as I enjoyed each of those sandwiches, I was eagerly anticipating the last of the loaf, knowing all along exactly what I’d do with the tail end: French toast with yogurt, blueberries, and pure Vermont maple syrup. That was today’s lunch. I’m grateful for the life of a loaf that was a joy to make and bake, and also to eat for a week, nourishing me body and soul. Each meal it made was simple and delicious, and all the more fulfilling for the attention I gave it through every step and bite. I’m grateful for the fish, the plants, and every other being who contributed to the short, happy life of this loaf.

Good Friends as Neighbors

I’m grateful for this crazy good cauliflower recipe, and to Pamela for sharing her white miso. For some reason we can’t get white miso around here, but she had enough in her freezer to share. The cauliflower is supposed to be grilled with this simple marinade of ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, and melted butter, but I roasted it instead. Then you mix a simple miso-mayo dressing with lemon juice. It was so simple, SO delicious.

I’m grateful the driveway didn’t drift so deeply this time, and for the beautiful beach-like pattern of the drifts; grateful to run into my neighbor skiing uphill when I took Wren out to walk, and for the cardio-respiratory exercise I got keeping up with her. Grateful for good friends as neighbors!

Zoom Cooking with Amy

It’s such a privilege to be alive at the end of a day to watch the sunset, and I’m grateful for the gorgeous displays of alpenglow we’ve gotten to witness recently. I took a quick break between a zoom webinar and zoom cooking to step out on the deck and enjoy the last of it. Except for the company, it was the best part of the evening.

I’m not having a very good run of recipe selections, so I made Amy choose for next time. This week I selected Shingled Sweet Potatoes with Harissa. Amy said compared to the carrot noodles it was a 10 out of 10. My experience of it was more like a 4. I’m grateful to try a new recipe, anyway.

I loved the idea because the dish looked beautiful the way Molly Baz prepared it. I cut the recipe in half, and Amy made a third of it: hers looked beautiful too, but mine just looked interesting. Also I didn’t have pistachios so I used pecans.

I still haven’t learned the trick to cooking at altitude, after thirty years! Even though they were thinly sliced and baked at 400℉ for an hour, my sweet potatoes still had a stiff crunch. I hate hard sweet potatoes! I do! Also, they were a bit spicier than I could eat much of, so I microwaved my dish for a total of five more minutes and top dressed with some Greek yogurt. Those measures helped, but once you undercook a sweet potato it’s hard to get it right. The leftovers may end up as dog food, Wren loves spicy food, maybe from her New Mexico roots.

Amy’s looks like it ought to look. She used pistachios, and apparently black sesame seeds, and cooked in a little copper pot. She also didn’t baste every quarter hour as instructed, and said that’s why she got a crispy top. I think my problem was more the oven temperature at this altitude. IF I were to make this dish again, and I might for a dinner party, IF I ever host or go to a dinner party again, I’d bake it at 425℉. Even regular potatoes don’t bake like they do at sea level–I don’t know how much of it is altitude, and how much aridity. Everything’s a little quirky up here. At least I used homegrown fennel seeds, and they were the best part of the dish for me. Live and learn! I’m always grateful for Zoom Cooking with Amy, whether the food succeeds or fails it’s always a win for us.

Meal Planning

It’s taken a long time for me to learn to settle into a routine that includes meal planning. Now that I have a regularly scheduled grocery day once a week, and a world of recipes at my fingertips, and time and inclination to eat better than ever, I’ve started saving a few key recipes each week and going through them on Tuesday to make my grocery list. First, and again and again, I’m grateful to my Personal Shoppers who give me this gift each week. Far more than the protective convenience it began as, it’s contributed to my personal transformation. Even if covid ever goes away, or I ever decide I’m game to get back to going out in public, I’ll keep the rhythm this pattern has created. On my list this week was chickpea-mushroom veggie burgers.

Naturally I wanted to make the buns as well. All parts of this meal freeze well for future use, and I gave some away too. These 30-minute buns take a little longer than that, but are quick and easy and really good. Here they are after their warm-oven rise–I don’t have an oven light, and the lowest my oven will go was a little warm for a rise. Next time I’ll just leave them out for awhile before baking, and also use a little less yeast at this altitude than I did this time. I think they didn’t puff enough because the yeast moved too fast. But what do I know? I’m still figuring out this baking world. I’m grateful I’m not attached to the outcomes of the recipes I try out. As long as they’re edible I’m happy; and even if they’re not, I’m grateful I’ve got a compost bin. No waste.

Toasted chickpeas with garlic powder and smoked paprika get mashed with chopped mushrooms, miso, tahini, and a well-cooked grain. I thought I had quinoa in the pantry but did not, so used farro instead. Mixed, mashed, and formed into patties, then frozen until ready to cook.


In this interesting Kentucky butter cake, it seems all the ingredients go in at once. Then the batter is beaten and poured in the pan, and came out as the most beautiful cake. As soon as it’s out you poke it full of holes and pour over a vanilla butter syrup, which soaks through. I’m grateful that it has to cool at least three hours before coming out of the pan. It’s better if I wait til morning to eat some instead of right before bed. I’m grateful for the transformation of simple ingredients into something spectacularly different. I’m grateful for the transformation I’ve undergone in the past few years of living with mindfulness.

Zoom Cooking with Amy: Carrot Button Noodles

We started off with a salty dog in our RBG glasses that Amy had provided. That’s her refrigerator covered in pictures in the background, and the lights over my living room window above that. Our dish for tonight was Carrot Button Noodles, which Amy found online. I was grateful I had just enough carrots left from the garden to make the dish.

Chopped, cooked til tender–but not quite tender enough–and drained, then into the food processor to puree until smooth–but not quite smooth enough.

I ended up with little bits of carrot in the dough but so what. The recipe calls for potato starch, which wasn’t to be found in the valley, and I’m just as glad. I used half cornstarch and half wheat flour, and liked the consistency of mine. Amy found potato starch, and said hers were really chewy. I went back to the website just now to get the link, and read “When used in doughs, potato starch, when cooked, gives a chewy, translucent, and glossy end-result. They have a silkier mouthfeel than using wheat flour….I like to use potato starch because it’s a little chewier than cornstarch. You cannot use any other flours or starches as the texture will be completely different.” Oh yes I can!

After kneading til it was smooth, we pinched off small bits and rolled into balls, then poked with our pinkies. It said to use a half teaspoon to roll each ball but we both thought that was way too small. I supposed Amy might have enjoyed her chewy buttons better if they were smaller, and I would have appreciated a higher sauce to noodle ratio on mine which a smaller button would have achieved. So now we know that for next time, if there is one.

Boiled about five minutes and drained…

Then topped with the garlic-soy-vinegar sauce. Amy had scallions which would have added nice color and crunch; I did not so I used some finely chopped shallots. Then another fun part, pouring boiling hot vegetable oil over the top, which sizzled, and sprinkling with sesame seeds. Equally fun was eating them. The little button holes caught and held the sauce. Smaller buttons, more buttonholes, more sauce per bite. Which may be the whole point of these noodles. Neither of us tasted a bit of carrot in them, though they were half carrot. But it was so simple, and so delicious. I’ll definitely be making more vegetable noodles this way in the future, if I live long enough. I’m always grateful for zoom cooking with Amy.

Further research, which I wish I had done before we made them, reveals a Chinese video with a different and even more delicious-looking sauce, and slightly different steps. I believe I will make them again, with potato starch. Even if I don’t make the exact noodles, I am definitely going to try this sauce.