Saturday, May 28, 2022

Saturday 9--America the Beautiful

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Saturday 9: America, the Beautiful (1987)

Unfamiliar with Barbra Streisand's recording of this tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle.

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1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. War memorials, as well as graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers this weekend in a show appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood?

Not in my neighborhood, but there is a very nice Memorial in my town.  We often take Maddie there for picnics—there’s a lovely lawn in the very back of the garden with big shade trees and a fountain.  It’s a very peaceful place.

2) Here at Saturday 9, we regard everyone who served -- veterans and active military -- as heroes. Have you, or has anyone in your family, worn the uniform of our armed forces? We want to hear about them.

My father was a veteran of the US Navy Submarine Service, and actually served on the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus.  My brother is a veteran of the US Navy as well.  My father-in-law was in the US Army and served in Vietnam.  He received 2 Purple Hearts during his service.  My husband is a former US Marine, serving as an artillery surveyor.  Both my daughter and her husband served as special police in the US Air Force.

3) Memorial Day is the traditional kick off of the summer season. Have you packed away your winter clothes yet?

Nope, never do.  The closet is big enough for all my clothes.

4) What's your favorite picnic food?

Takeout!  I’m not much for picnics, but the pandemic changed that.  We went all over town discovering new parks and trying takeout from new restaurants.  If we’re talking traditional picnic food, I love my mom’s potato salad—potatoes, egg salad, mayo, diced red onion and a bit of dill pickle.  The secret is the anchovy paste—adds a little umami that makes the whole thing a knockout!

5) As you answer these questions, is there a fan or an air conditioner cooling your room?

We have what New Mexicans lovingly call “refrigerated air” (air conditioning).  Although, because I’m typing this in the early AM, it’s not running.  Here in the high desert, our high and low temps can vary by as much as 50 degrees.  For example, it’s supposed to be 90 today, and the low last night was 46.  It’s 55 right now.  The AC won’t start running until about 10am, when the temperature hits 71.

6) Lyricist Katharine L. Bates said she was inspired to write "America, the Beautiful" after a trip to Pike's Peak. What's the most beautiful spot in America that you have ever visited?

Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park, Utah.  Jaw-droppingly beautiful.  There’s something about the whole Canyonlands region that just speaks to me.


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7) Though we're talking summer this morning, Santa is going to get a shoutout. Before "America, the Beautiful" was published, Katharine L. Bates wrote a poem called, "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh" which is remembered for introducing Santa's wife, Mrs. Claus. Share a fond memory of the 2021 holiday season.

We love having lots and lots of boxes surrounding the tree, so we make a special effort to put anything and everything in some kind of box.  For example, I put a pair of earrings for my mom in an extra amazon box that would normally hold something very large.  That sort of thing.  We were recycling boxes into February, because we kept running out of room in the recycle bins, lol.

8) This week's featured artist, Barbra Streisand, sang "America, the Beautiful" during a benefit concert. She admitted to James Corden that she suffers from stage fright and before she performs, she prays, "Let go, let God." What's something that scares you, but that you do anyway?

Going into restaurants.  We are still masking (and will continue to do so) for stores and the like, but restaurants … no.  And we like to eat out too much to stop.  So, I’ve had ALL the shots, and pray that COVID stays away from me.

9) Question for a weekend when many of us will sleep in: Are you a morning person?

Definitely, I get my best work done in the morning.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Cooking is Fun... And Easy!!! Grilled Steak and Vegetable Skewers with Turkish Taouk and Tahini Sauce


Seems like forever since I've done one of these!  I've been cooking, but nothing new or different.  Until a few days ago.  We wanted to do something on the grill and had the last top sirloin from our butcher's freezer pack thawed.  I wanted to do this post to illustrate the wonders of pre-packaged marinades and meals.  We love these, and use them for "everyday dinners" because they don't require the time that scratch cooking does.  They are perfect for a weeknight.  We have a couple of favorite brands that make marinades and entrees/sides that are more international in flavor.  

First, Wild Garden.  This six-pack of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern marinades will entice your taste buds with tasty goodness.  Easily available on Amazon, they also are shelf stable.  We have tried, and LOVE them all, especially the Chicken Shawarma, the Turkish Taouk, and the Moroccan Chermoula (we used it on shrimp).  

Second, Tasty Bite fully-cooked entrees--these are heat and eat entrees and rice that you simply pop in the microwave (Chef Mike) to re-heat.  People, they are GOOD.  And plant-based.  They have a line of Indian and Thai entrees that I've found in my local chain grocery.  They are also available on Amazon in variety packs or singly.  Dinner in less than 2 minutes--I'm down.

On to our meal!

For the Skewers:

1 package Wild Garden Turkish Taouk marinade
1 two-pound top sirloin steak, cut in 1" chunks
1 sweet onion (like Vidalia, Walla-Walla, or Maui), quartered, layers separated
1 bag mini peppers, stems removed, halved, and seeded
1 container Baby Bella or crimini mushrooms, wiped with a damp paper towel, stem removed
Grilling Skewers

For Tahini Sauce:

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste, available in chain stores usually near the peanut butter)
Juice of one large lemon
Aleppo pepper (a mild middle eastern dried pepper) to taste

Step 1.  Twelve to twenty-four hours prior to cooking, prep your steak and put in a ziplock bag with half the marinade.   Make the tahini sauce by whisking ingredients together in a small covered container.  Place both steak and sauce in fridge until dinner time.

Step 2.  Prep all veggies as noted above.  In a large bowl, add leftover marinade and pour in steak with its marinade.  Toss the veggies in and gently mix until the veggies are covered in marinade.  I like to wear gloves for this step and toss with my hands to preserve the integrity of the vegetables.  

Step 3.  Have a sheet pan handy to place the skewers on after prepping.  Slide veggies and steak on the skewers, alternating.  I usually start and end with onion because it hold everything on.  Be careful doing the mushrooms, if you skewer them too aggressively they will split in half.

Step 4.  Pre-heat grill to 425 (we have a gas grill--if you are using another kind you want it HOT).  The marinade has enough oil in it that your skewers should not stick.  Grill the skewers, turning after 5 minutes, and cook until the meat registers 145 degrees with an instant read thermometer--that will get you medium.  Remove to the sheet pan.

Step 5.  Remove everything from skewer and serve over Tasty Bite basmati rice (90 seconds in your Chef Mike), drizzle with tahini sauce.   This easily makes 8 skewers--we made four and froze the leftover mix for another time.  We each had one skewer and rice for dinner, and one for lunch the next day. 

Buen Provecho!!!

Friday 5--Five Random Pictures

 1.  Lily the formerly Feral often forgets to groom herself.  I take a furminator (the orange thing on the right) to her coat weekly to keep it nice and shiny and clean.  She loooooooovvvvveeeess it!

2.  A fun picture I made with the Prisma app.  This is my all time favorite picture of my late Dad, brother, and husband.  Only hubs can really play guitar, but they were having a great time.

3. The plaque at 109 East Palace St in Santa Fe, New Mexico that commemorates the Manhattan Project.  Read about why there is a plaque at that spot here, it's quite fascinating.

4.  A charcuterie plate we made for a game afternoon with a friend.  I love doing these--they are so much fun and perfect when you're gaming!

5.  Moonrise over the Sandias, from the backyard of the first house we lived in here in NM, back in 2012.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Thursday 13--Family Vacation

Last week, my brother, his wife, and my niece came to New Mexico for the first time to visit us.  Mom loved seeing them, and we had an exhausting, but good time.  Here's 13 things about that visit.

1.    My niece has found "her people" and is headed to Japan to teach.  It was fun to get to know her a bit more and hear her passion for Japan and everything about it.  My niece is actually talking to her was really cool.

2.    My brother is bad-ass on the grill.  Dad taught him.  We had our classic "family dinner" BBQ and a pool party at Mom's apartment building.  The dinner we always have when we are together is Filet Mignons, Asparagus, and Mom's potato salad.  Yum!  And the pool was fun.

3.     Petroglyphs National Monument.  We went to both Boca Negra and Piedras Marcadas.  It was hot and windy, but they seemed to enjoy themselves.

4.    Santa Fe.  My brother, hubs, and my niece spent the morning at Meow Wolf (a trippy art installation) and Mom, Sis, and I went shopping on the Plaza.  Mom bought me a cute little Talavera pottery cat for the top of my cupboards.  We lunched at Cowgirl BBQ which was a favorite of my late Dad's when he was working out this way.

The little cat is in the center

5.    Old Town Albuquerque.  It was a gorgeous morning.  We shopped, did a cheese tasting at Noisy Water Winery, and came home with a couple of great New Mexico made cheeses--a sharp white cheddar and a mango habanero gouda.  We lunched at Church St. Cafe, which was amazing!

6.    Brother and family checked out Sawmill Market.  We stayed home prepping for another family BBQ.

7.    Brother and family stayed at the local Hilton Garden Inn, and one evening they tried a new Japanese place.  I can't wait to go to Magokoru--they loved it, and we've not been!

8.    Wings at our place.  Hubs made 60 of them.  He has the best recipe, and we enjoyed hanging out and reminiscing.  Maddie was beside herself and Lily the formerly Feral actually sat in my niece's lap!!!!  This is a true breakthrough.

9.    Looked through old photo albums at Mom's and our house.  A few tears and a lot of laughter.  We all miss Dad a lot.

10.   My brother and fam went to take the Sandia Tram up to the top of Sandia Peak, but unfortunately it was booked solid. 

11.   Had dinner at Turtle Mountain Brewery and Restaurant.  The calzones were epic!

12.   Took a drive on Route 66 (which runs right through Albuquerque).  

13.    They day they left, I packed up and mailed a giant box with all the goodies they bought.  My brother loves hot chile, and I sent 2 quarts of Young Guns Produce red chile and green chile.  My sis-in-law bought me a beautiful Talavera pottery burro for my collection!

Burro on the right, saddlebags filled with red chile

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday Stealing--Hodgepodge


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1. Where do you get your news these days?

A combination of the Washington Post app and one of the local TV station apps.  I never, ever, EVER watch the news.  For some reason, it’s not as ugly when I’m reading it.

2. Do you like crab meat? What makes you crabby?

Love it.  When I was a kid, we went crabbing a lot.  We used these round string crab traps, and would put chicken backs and necks in the bottom.  Hang them in the water, tie them to the pier, and come back later.  Crabs!   What makes me crabby?  Having too much to do and not enough time to do it.

3. Does freedom mean more choices? Have you ever felt there were too many choices? Elaborate.

I think Freedom definitely means more choices.  I am pretty good at make what I call a “command decision” about what I want to do.  I don’t think an abundance of choices is necessarily a bad thing.

4. Barbara Millicent Roberts was introduced to the world on March 9, 1959...that's Barbie to most of us. Did you have Barbies as a kid, or did you let your own children play with Barbies? What well known Barbara (living or not) would you most like to meet?

I was not the Barbie type.  I had Breyer horses and books, and spent a lot of time outside reading, wandering about telling myself stories in my head, and pretending.  My aunt had an original Barbie (the first one!) and would bring it out with all these handmade clothes that my Oma had sewn.  It was fun, but I remember like the hall with all the books and the National Geographics much better than the doll.  My daughter was too young for Barbies when I was around, and had a lovely handmade rag doll named “baby”.  I doubt her Dad would have gone down the Barbie route….  As to a Barbara that I’d like to meet, I would go with Barbara Eden.  I loved her in I Dream of Jeannie.

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5. What are three things you value most in another person?

Kindness, open-mindedness, and honesty

6. How would you define “old.”  At what age is a person old?

I think it’s different for everyone, and up to that person to define their age.  Eighty and up, I think of as “elders”, but not necessarily old…

7. A place you’ve been that’s “old.”  Tell us something about your visit there.

Bandelier National Monument.  It’s here in New Mexico, and is a place where ancient Puebloans lived.  There is evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years.  It’s a fascinating place.  I went last with my cousin a few years ago.  The below picture is one of the "cavates" where people lived. 

8. Something you miss about the “good old days.”  When were they?

Consideration.  People had manners when I was a kid, and were more considerate of each other.  We were more of a society then, rather than a group of individuals.  At least it felt that way.

9. In what way are you a 'chip off the old block'? Or if you'd rather, in what way is your child a 'chip off the old block'?

I have my mother’s dark brown deep-set eyes that turn down at the outer corners and her high cheekbones, and dark brown hair.  My daughter, despite her strawberry-blond, blue-eyed father also has those same features, as does HER daughter.  It’s cool to see those genetic markers playing themselves out over four generations.

10. Old fashioned, Old Testament, old timer, same old same old, old glory, good old boy, old wives tale...choose an 'old' phrase that relates to something in your life or the wider world currently and explain.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  I beg to differ.  Maddie is 5 years old, and learned a new trick in about 3 days just this last week.  I taught her to sit at the back patio door and stay.  I open the door wide, and she sits until she hear the words “Maddie, go, go, go”.  Heelers are smart, that’s for sure.

11. July 5th is National Hawaii Day...have you ever been to Hawaii? Any desire to visit or make a return trip? Pineapple, mango, or guava...what's your pleasure?

My brother was stationed in Hawaii for 10 of the 12 years he was in the US Navy.  Although, to be fair, he spent a LOT of time at sea.  His first wife was from the north side of Oahu, and I went out there for the wedding with my parents.  That would have been about 1985.  I don’t have much interest in going back—there are too many other places I want to visit.  I love pineapple, but more than a few bites triggers an apthous ulcer  outbreak in my mouth (canker sore), so I rarely eat it.  I love mango, and am indifferent to guava.

12. Last time you were 'thrown in at the deep end'? Explain.

When I first took the auditing job last August.  I literally got one day of training and was handed 10 surgical services audits to do.  Talk about learning on the job.  I shed more than a few tears of frustration over that, but eventually, I got over it.

13. Sun, sea, sand, salt...your favorite when it comes to summer?

Sun.  I’m sitting outside right now on my patio, enjoying the afternoon with a beautiful, sunny, clear blue sky.

14. Bury your head in the sand, the sands of time, draw a line in the sand, pound sand, shifting sands...pick one and tell us how the phrase currently relates to your life in some way.

Bury your head in the sand—lol.  I am doing this right now with the war in Ukraine, the formula shortage, and all the idiotic conspiracy theories that are coming out of both things.

15. On a scale of 1-10 (1 = make your own rules and 10=like a warden), how strict were your parents? If you're a parent where on the scale do you land? 

About a -10.  Literally, they were too busy with each other or working, or whatever to be strict.  We sort of ran wild.  True story—my Mom and Dad would take us to New Orleans for the day.  They’d drop us off at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, hand me a $20 bill, and we’d agree to meet back there at 7pm, then go somewhere for dinner.    I was around 12, and my brother was 9, so this would have been about 1974.  We ran all over the Quarter, went to the Voodoo museum, played along the river, got snacks at the various vendors, and generally had a blast.  New Orleans (and the South in general) was a different place back then.  A grand time was had by all (never did know where Mom and Dad got off to….) and no-one got kidnapped or lost.  My mother tells this story and it still blows her mind that her and Dad did that.  


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