In the dead of winter …

Wow, the long dark afternoons — has it always been like this?  Why does this year seem different?  And will it never end … it’s been winter now for … never mind, Google says first day is Dec. 22nd, which is irrelevant because it’s gray and wet and sometimes icy, and we could use a smile and a ray of sunshine.  Right?






Sustenance for a rainy day …

Screenshot 2015-11-30 at 08.13.29 AM

Here’s a rustic dish, full of flavor, that will lead to wonderful leftovers all week.  Once you try this smooth sauce you’ll want it on just about everything.


Serves 6-8


  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1.  Pat your chicken breasts dry and season them generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour some flour into a shallow dish and dredge chicken in it so all sides are coated.
  3. In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and brown chicken on all sides.
  4. Transfer chicken to a plate, leave drippings in Dutch oven, and add remaining butter and olive oil.
  5. Sauté shallots until translucent, then add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  6. Add sliced mushrooms and rosemary to the shallots and cook until mushrooms soften. 5-7 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons flour evenly over the mushrooms and stir together. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened.
  8. Mix in dry white wine, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaf, then return chicken to Dutch oven.
  9. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through.
  10. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, and serve alone or with egg noodles or polenta.

From the Kitchens of Twelve Tomatoes

Screenshot 2015-11-30 at 08.21.35 AM





We laughed until we cried …

I lost a valuable friendship this week and have been blocked for good measure, so finding out what happened might not … happen.  And that’s regrettable because I could have learned something important from the experience.

So, then, here’s how this works (after we slide into our big-ass panties):

“Cry it out if you must

Bleed a little if you must

But once you’re done, suck it

all up and move on and

never, ever look back.”

–Ali B. Moe




Take your excitement where it finds you.

As some of my friends know, we aim for an adventure a day and they never have trouble finding us. Yesterday’s didn’t happen until close to midnight, but its scope more than compensated for its last-minute arrival. Everybody’s heading for bed, after nodding off for at least the past hour. Maddie’s in her jammies, all sleepy-headed, and I’m in the big room doing some of the 37 things women do after they say “I’m going to bed.” Colossal stupendously-loud crash from the bedroom, sounds like wood, metal, glass, and a set of cymbals, followed by a voice in falsetto Spanglish saying “I’m okay.” Casey S Ross, the line will never fade from our lexicon.
By the time I make it in there, Kim has extricated himself from the wreckage of our industrial-strength California king bed and Maddie is in the bathroom peering around the corner, eyes huge, and trembling so hard her feet are threatening to go out from under her. The foot end of the mattress is cratered through the frame and onto the floor, looking totally like an elephant decided to sit down and take a break on his way through. Au contraire, mon ami, merely the KIMN8R crawling innocently into bed and rolling over to warm Mama’s side. Turns out the hell-for-stout frame was not matched with a comparable foundation, surprise, surprise, and a recent bit of shifting to clean provided an excuse for it to abdicate all responsibility.
The good news:  the inferior platform gave us more than eleven years, and no animals or humans were harmed in the making of this travesty. We scooped Maddie up and loved on her, the bed frame is intact, and Kim is down at Cotton’s as we speak, picking up a few supplies for rebuilding the support system. It was actually kind of fun dragging the big square mattress into the other room and spending the night there. For now, our little Maddie is the only collateral damage — she started trembling again this morning when she walked through the bedroom, she wants nothing to do with the sounds of clean-up, and doesn’t come out from under my desk unless I go with her. So I moved her bed under here and she’s sleeping it off. She’ll have most of it to endure again while he puts it back together, but she’s a tough cookie, so all’s well.
Starting to wonder what today’s adventure will be …

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For the uninitiated, Maddie is our 5 lb. Maltese, not a grandchild, as someone surmised.


There’ll be gray days, Mama said …

“You can only extend the hand of friendship; you cannot force the other fellow to grasp it.”

Things come along entirely too often that throw shade on my discernment, comprehension, and BS-detection capabilities.  Each time I’m left wondering how I could have gotten it so wrong, and each time I vow to learn the lesson and do better.  Some things, of course, can be attributed to the adage “The man woman who has strong opinions and always says what he she thinks is courageous — and friendless.”  But that doesn’t speak to what’s been unfolding for the past week or so.

Question:  Has it ever once occurred to you, Dear Reader, to devise a stealth attack for gauging who your real friends are, or to send suspected disloyalists on wild goose chases to see who will or won’t follow your mandates?  No?  Yeah, possibly because I wasn’t a Mean Girl an In-Girl in school, that brand of cunning feels foreign to me and I can’t relate to it — set-ups, plots, fidelity tests.  I mean, if you want to know something from or about me, ask me — I’ll tell you.  FRIEND:  Are you loyal?  ME:  Yes.  {Or no, I disagree with you, but we’re still on the same side.}  Instead, my prove-you’re-with-me mission, should I choose to accept it, was to troll someone until he/she left a page, but nobody ever said who I was “trolling,” so I couldn’t actually follow through.  Haha, silly me — pretty sure I was the one slated for the guillotine all along — how’s THAT for being clueless?  Anyone having flashbacks to junior high?

Truth — this friendship has longevity to it, a ton of agreement, much fun, a couple of heart-to-hearts, a few this-is-who-I-am convos … so while I wait for the other shoe to drop I’m doing an internal file-search, looking for where the relationship started to go off the rails.  It’s entirely possible that I was wandering around in a fibro fog when the Freight Train of Distrust left the station long ago, and unbeknownst to me started picking up steam.  I do know that the arrival whistle blew shortly after my friend sent out the BFF test, and when I didn’t turn mine in right away it was instant winter on that page.  My friend won’t see this, but for anyone who might view Tests of Friendship as a cool experiment, see if you can first pick up on whether any of your potential testees are currently engulfed in heavy-duty life-stuff, because it may not, for myriad reasons, be possible for them to really get back to you any time soon.  Here is where most of us, when we sensed which way the wind was blowing, would feel compelled to *explain.*  But ‘splaining accomplishes nothing except to make the offended party dig in with increased resolve — and we all just feel shitty afterward.  It took most of my life to scrape down to the actual me — not going back to justifying my existence now.

I shed my tears days ago and the inevitable denouement can take the stage when ready, I’m good.  Being unfriended ain’t no thing, but if I’m blocked on top of that, it’s gonna leave a mark.  It helps that I do understand what happened — the friendship simply became a casualty of what happens around us every day — collateral damage.  It’s a stress-inducing challenge to trust and align yourself with someone whose skin color looks like other people who don’t love you and don’t mind proving it.  By association I’m required to do more, try harder, prove myself over and over, and pass all the litmus tests.  I don’t have to ask you how familiar that sounds.  Every cell in me is sorry the world is so incomprehensibly ugly — I’m trying with all I have to reverse the trend and I thought you knew by now what my heart looks like.  I think it’s gotten steadily harder for you to look past pigment and I do not blame you.  None of this changes my firm belief that race is simply a construct — if we were truly separate peoples, our insides would not match any more than our outsides … but we’re the same under the skin.

Love and acceptance are priceless, as is friendship with a person you instinctively trust, and all of that is hard to let go of.  But since some things do happen for a reason, I’m going to assume this is for the best — you know, maybe we weren’t all that good for each other’s blood pressure and mood swings.  I do know you were good for my heart, however, and I’ll still be over here loving you — you wield a lot of power, but it exceeds even your pay grade to stop me.  I’m grateful for all I’ve learned from you, my friend, and I’m in awe of your feistiness and sass — please don’t rest until you get your hug from Barack Obama.



Fall is ALL!




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