Let’s Have Some Fun with Chicken Mole #YourTurnChallenge #MFRWAuthor

I mentioned to my FaceBook friend Jarnell Carter, who breeds incredible Afghan Hounds, that I had found a crock pot Chicken Mole. Since this is usually a labor intensive dish, he asked for the recipe. We’re waiting for a couple more days of snow, and the last

Boo, Biddy, Fire Dragon, snow times a few years ago

Boo, Biddy, Fire Dragon, snow times a few years ago

few blogs have dug pretty deep so let’s do something a bit more fun. I also have to reassure Boo and Fire Dragon that, no, I will not be getting an Afghan Hound puppy no matter how gorgeous they are…and yes they are.

Chicken Mole is a spicy dish combining chiles and chocolate. Yeah, that got your attention! You can tone back the heat or ramp it up, which is much of the fun of making it yourself instead of buying premade mole sauce. Hmm there should be an accent on that last ‘e’. Okay, just think Mo-lay and not ground burrowing rodent. Even if we are coming up to Groundhog’s day.

The original recipe is here: Slow Cooker Chicken Mole This particular recipe is not completely low carb, and I tend to work with what I have on hand, or what I like more. Since I made this last time snow was imminent I knew what I liked best. So I adjusted the recipe a bit.

1 large onion, chopped OR TWO SMALL/MEDIUM
1/2 cup raisins DID NOT HAVE, SO DIDN’T ADD, plus raisins are high carb
3 cloves garlic, chopped OR MORE
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional) DID NOT USE
1 finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce OH YUMMY…I didn’t have these for my first batch
3 tablespoons peanut butter A CUP SOUNDED BETTER
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes PLUS A BIT MORE i FOUND IN THE REFRIGERATOR
1 teaspoon sugar NOPE
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon MORE LIKE A TABLESPOON
4 teaspoons chili powder PUH-LEEZE THAT’S WIMPY. HALF A CUP, NEW MEXICO RED HOT
1 teaspoon ground cumin TABLESPOON TO MATCH THE CHILE POWDER
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander DON’T HAVE, AND MY CILANTRO PLANT DIED
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg YEAH ABOUT THIS MUCH MAYBE 1/4 TSP
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder HEAPING HALF CUP…IT’S CHOCOLATE
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts I GOT A GREAT BUY ON CHICKEN BREASTS SO I ADDED MORE LIKE 3.5 POUNDS. I’LL BE FREEZING A LOT OF MOLE

I also added the last of my Thai Lime Chile Cashews from Trader Joe’s. If I had more I’d probably have ground up a bunch, and used cashew butter instead of peanut butter. Maybe next time

After the sauce is blended, add chicken

After the sauce is blended, add chicken

Otherwise follow the recipe. It will be five or more hours before it’s ready so I’ll

Push the chicken into the sauce then close it up and let it cook.

Push the chicken into the sauce then close it up and let it cook.

probably have roasted veggies tonight. The sauce is already ultra yummy, can’t wait to try it after a long slow cooking!

 

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We ARE Family

My January 27 blog referenced loss. This was the anniversary of my husband’s death, and also his father’s. It was also the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Someone asked me if I had family at Auschwitz. Being of essentially WASP background, I had to say no.
Except…
With an event of such magnitude, how can we not all be related?


One my father’s side I represent the British Isles…Scot, English, possibly some Irish. We are the Hendersons of Glencoe,. That would be the ones who decided to leave without fighting, or so I’m told. Be that as it may, and it was so very long ago, we are also kin to those Scots who were slaughtered at Culloden in a brutal attempt at domination.
On my mother’s side, I’m American Indian. Choctaw to be more specific. My mother was born in Oklahoma and there’s a saying: if you’re born in Oklahoma and you’re not part Indian, you’re lying. Again, something told to me. And certainly the white folk on this side of ‘the pond’ can’t have much pride in how they treated those who were different.
Fact is, I’m a mutt with delusions of grandeur. After all on one side my ancestors were landed gentry in Merry Olde England. On the other side? There’s some German immigrants and an Indian lady named Liza Blue. I hear there’s also a horse thief and a scoundrel. The horse thief might have been on the more refined side of the pedigree.
Even so.
When something as brutal as the concentration camps happens, we are all family. We must be. We must connect not only to the Jews but also to the Africans and the Kurds and people around the world without a voice to stand against oppression.
“We must hang together, gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately”..a statement of a man who was not perfect but who was willing to stand up for what he believed in…Benjamin Franklin.
This probably seems like a disjointed rant. Maybe it is. And maybe I’m trying to express what I’ve believed in for most of my life. There is no such thing of supremacy of any race, color or creed.
We are ALL family

GROUP HUG? Or just giddy fun?

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Gathering Rosebuds

Robert Herrick, 1600s
Pictures from NM gathering for Tom 015To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

This is so much a poem of its time, but with a many layered message. On the one hand, this cleric/poet seemed to be encouraging young women to hurry up and marry before they lose the ‘bloom’ of youthful beauty. He celebrates youth and seems to see prime as only those immature years. He lived to the ripe age of 83, remaining a bachelor yet writing sensual poetry. I know there’s a deep story behind those bare facts. Dead Poet’s Society revealed the poem’s most important layer.

Live your life as fully as possible. Love large, write wonderful words, paint amazing pictures, carve sculptures people need to caress.

Carpe Diem…seize the day.

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As Promised…A Treat. Almond Butter Cheesecake. #YourTurnChallenge #MFRWAuthor

With the last blog of the My Turn Challenge I promised a yummy dessert recipe. This is easy to put together but difficult to resist.

mmmmmmmmmmmmm

mmmmmmmmmmmmm

Fortunately this first time I used small glass ramekins, so I could share with friends. And also so I could avoid that trick of ‘just a tiny slice’ that ends up devouring the entire pie. I’m sure I’m not the only person to try that.

The original recipe was on Buttoni’s wonderful website Buttoni’s Low Carb Recipes, a go to place for delicious low carb ideas.

INGREDIENTS:

½ c. (2 oz) Emerald brand roasted cocoa almonds

24 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 c. heavy (whipping) cream

Sweetener of your choice to equal 1½-2 c. sugar  (always add a little at a time & taste)

½ c. water

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

1½ tsp. almond extract

2 T. almond butter

DIRECTIONS:  Process or crush cocoa almonds until evenly crumbly.  Spread all but 1 T. (for topping) onto the bottom of a pie plate as evenly as possible.  Place softened cream cheese into large mixing bowl. Place water in a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over the water and heat on medium heat until gelatin is completely dissolved.   Pour gelatin over softened cream cheese and whip with hand mixer until creamy.  Add in almond extract and almond butter and whip another couple seconds until well blended. In a separate bowl, whip whipping cream until thick.  Gently fold that whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.   Now gently dip up the filling mixture and gently place atop the crumb bottom crust.  Try not to disturb the crumbs any more than is absolutely necessary.  Smooth the top of the cheesecake with a rubber spatula or spoon.  Sprinkle the reserved tablespoon of crushed cocoa almonds over the top and chill for 3-4 hours.  Cut into 8 pieces and serve with or without cherries or strawberries for garnish.

crust with a touch of cocoa

crust with a touch of cocoa

Nutritional information is available on the link above. I saw this recipe a while back but didn’t get around to trying it until the last heavy snow fall. I didn’t have any of those roasted cocoa almonds in the cupboard (really, how long do you think they’d stay?) But I remembered making a sort of graham cracker crumb crust with almond flour. So my crust was 1 cup almond meal, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and some Truvia (what I had in the cupboard…your choice which sweetener you want to use) The proportions I read called for 2 tablespoons, I used one. I also added about 1tsp of cocoa powder. Press this crust into your pie pan or in my case the ramekins. Bake at 375F for 8 to 10 minutes…keep your eye on it, you want it to begin to brown. Let it cool completely since this is a no back cheesecake.

The touch of chocolate in the crust was an extra yumminess. I plan to make this for an upcoming writers’ meeting so I’ll do something extra pretty for the topping.

I like preparing my own foods. Not only do I avoid the cost and taste of prepared foods I can also control the ingredients. I’ve been known to plot how to adjust standard recipes into something that fits my low carb way of life but this recipe has the advantage of easy adjustment to sugar. You could use a store bought crust (graham cracker or chocolate) and sweeten to taste with your choice of regular sugar. I didn’t use the amount advised since I’m not near as fond of sweetness as I used to be.

And as a friend pointed out, with cream cheese and heavy whipping cream, how can you go wrong??

I love New Mexico

I love New Mexico

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Together at the End of All Things #YourTurnChallenge

Day 7: What are you taking with you from this Challenge?

Here we are all together at the end of all things. At least the end of seven solid days of sharing our thoughts and our souls with the world. I’ve met people I would never have encountered otherwise. I’m taking away a new appreciation for the writing of some people I’ve never met before this, as well as for my own writing. I’ve gathered more followers to the blog, which was getting a bit lonely
I’ve dug deep into my personal belief system and found the courage to speak out about things that bother me, no matter how trivial or disturbing they might seem to anyone else.
I’m spending more time enjoying the gift that is my life. Walking around even more with the dogs, which makes all of us happier.
Have I shipped other than the blogs? Yes. I contacted my editor with a prologue and a blurb on a book that I’d let languish at about 80% done. She’s sending a contract. I’ve been avoiding taking any contracts until the book is done since I no longer had faith in myself to finish. That faith is coming back. I’m taking the stool away from my writing set up and standing to write. Turmeric has become a part of the daily routine for me and the Salukis.
I have not moved away from my enjoyment of the ironic. Check out that You Tube of Frodo and Sam at Mount Doom. You might notice Frodo’s face changing from one clip to another…covered in sweat and a second later only a mark on his cheek, a humorous bit of a continuity issue. I’d say it was the end of Lord of the Rings except the movie dragged on and on and on afterwards. Same as the book, for that matter. Maybe Tolkien wanted us to stay in Middle Earth with him just a little bit longer.
I’d like to stay with everyone who has shared this seven days with me, but it’s time for all of us to move forward. Maybe one day we’ll meet in person but in the meantime, tomorrow I’ll be sharing the MOST amazing low carb dessert.
Until then.

033

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Surprising Myself #YourTurnChallenge

Day 6: Tell us about a time when you surprised yourself.

This is going to be a rough one.
Throughout the years I have learned I’m a selfish person, and prefer to walk away from stress. I’m also far more lazy than I’d like to IMG_1238admit. This in addition to the usual detritus of growing up kept me from wanting to marry until I was pretty much past the age when my mother stopped nagging me about marriage. Well, and also I hadn’t found anyone I’d really want to spend the rest of my life with.
Until that life changing day I met a sweet guy at a dog show. It took a few years before we both managed to be in the right place at the right time, and we took those for better or worse vows.
So.
Forward more than twenty years, in 2011, he looked yellow to my eye and I bullied him into going to the doctor immediately. In those bright doctor office lights he could have rivaled the Simpsons. Off to the hospital, and the specialists.  A tumor was blocking his bile duct.
Surgery, five months in the hospital and acute care center until they ‘could do nothing more for him.’ Which is hospital speak for ‘the insurance won’t pay if he doesn’t show progress.’ They said he had to go to the hospice floor of the hospital since he wasn’t going to get better and: “Your wife can’t take care of you.”
Wait a minute.
Who said I couldn’t take care of him? Yeah, okay, selfish, lazy, avoiding stress. But this was different. This mattered. Even if he only lived the week longer the doctor predicted, he deserved to have that week at home, surrounded by the dogs and the property he loved.
We got three months, and I learned more about patient care than I thought I wanted to know. I also learned how to heal deep seated infections the hospital couldn’t clear up, and how to bully, prod, tease him into working harder than he ever wanted. In the end it wasn’t enough but we were able to share a few months. When he finally slipped away I could believe I’d done the best I could.
Was it a win? Well at least it was a short term success. Would I have changed anything? Of course I’d rather have him here fussing about his lawn tractor than have him in a container in the closet. Could I have done more? I have no idea. I just know I did the best I could at that time. And that’s all any of us can do.

photo credit Monica Stoner...that's me when I'm not writing!

photo credit Monica Stoner…that’s me when I’m not writing!

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Unsticking Ourselves #YourTurnChallenge #MFRWAuthor

Day 5: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

Unstuck from a muddy road? A dead end job? Or the dreaded Writer’s Block?
Writer Serenity PrayerSince I’ve suffered from “Writer’s Block” far too long and too often, I’ve collected advice from every source available. Some suggest keeping two projects going at once so you can change around when you’re stuck on one. Some suggest just sitting at the computer for a set length of time; further along that suggestion is to type out whatever nonsense words come from your fingers until you’ve flipped that creativity switch. Use one of the Do or Die writing aids.
Get some exercise, go out into the sunshine and commune with nature. Maybe wash some dishes or take a drive so that the mindless activity will help free the creative side of your brain (a walk might be safer than a drive.) Trick yourself by setting a timer and only letting yourself write for that set period of time. Set up sprints with other writers.
I’ve tried all of these and they have worked. As long as I keep doing them.
But
Nora Roberts doesn’t believe in writer’s block. She sees her writing as a job, same as going into the office every day. She’s not alone. In fact, when you start delving into the habits of very effective authors you find the same approach from nearly all of them. Yes, there are a few ‘burst’ authors who manage to produce good books in a very short period of time. Many of them admit to total exhaustion afterwards as well as a fervent promise to themselves NOT to try that again.
It’s the same as housekeeping (yeah I know ICK BOO.) You can either work at the house every day, a little bit at a time, or let it pile up to be last minute attacked in a violent burst of where the heck is the vacuum.
Guess which is my housekeeping style?

Fire Dragon over the jump, photo by Anita LG

Fire Dragon over the jump, photo by Anita LG

Closer to my life and my passions, if you’re trying to keep your dog in condition to succeed in competition, either conformation shows (basically beauty contests) or performance events (running, jumping, or displaying their willingness to do what you tell them to do) success is far more within your reach if you work with them every day, not just cram training or conditioning or grooming into the last few days before the event.
That last paragraph was all one sentence. And it made sense. Looks like writing every day has helped me remember how to write.
The same as our legs and backs, our brains are muscles that can become stronger with exercise. And, yes, weaker with inactivity. Again, consistent routine exercise.
When I treat my writing like a job, and show up to work with my brain in gear and ready to produce, it’s far easier to ignore the doubt bullies who tell me I’m not Nora, or Darynda, or Doranna. Because they’re right, I’m not. But I am me; I’m kicking those doubt bullies to the curb and stepping on their squishy bodies on the way back to my book.
Oh, it helps to have one book in publisher edits and another contract on the way. Yes, we can do this.

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Thorns and Roses, Roses and Thorns #YourTurnChallenge

Day 4: Teach us something that you do well

Pessimists scorn every rose has a thorn, but an Optimist knows every thorn has a rose.

Hmmm, I could list many things I don’t do well, but that’s actually one of the negative things I do well. What about the positive? I can’t remember when I first read this little ditty about thorns but it’s been ingrained in my psyche for a very long time. It took a long time to teach myself that how I chose to approach situations directly influenced how the situation affected me. Obviously many aspects of a situation were beyond my control. But my reaction was not, or should not be.

If I was in a power outage, then I could get to bed earlier and get some serious sleep. A long driving trip meant seeing new parts of the country. If I’d made that trip many times before then I could watch for changes along the way. If I was late leaving on a trip, I would be driving through at an entirely different time of day. This happened last year on my way to Pueblo Colorado, and I drove through the pass between New Mexico and Colorado as the sun was sinking. My only regret while seeing the sunset displayed against the mountains and on the plains was a lack of time to pull over and pull out the camera. But I have been able to capture  many New Mexico sunsets from my back yard, a great advantage of living on the plains. 001

 

Snow and freezing temperatures are the norm here in the winter. I could either moan about feeling cold or revel in the accidental beauty all around me. I’ve chosen to do the latter. I loved my many roses in California, but found they did not do nearly as well in

Ice on roses

Ice on roses

what has turned out to be a wind magnet. But ordinary hedge roses, acclimated to the area, have produced far beyond expectations, holding on even when I forgot to tend them. Thorny bare branches have become a favorite subject with just the right combination of temperature and moisture.

Looking for the roses among the thorns might seem a useless form of entertainment. After all, the online dictionary describes Pollyanna as excessively, blindly, unreasonably, illogically optimistic.
Ouch.
Pollyanna played what she called the ‘glad game.’ Every morning she thought of at least one thing to be glad about. Hmmm, I’ve learned to do that. Every morning I wake with my legs working and

Faerie Queene

Faerie Queene

my eyes seeing is a good day. The mind takes a little longer to catch up. And since I also wake with my Salukis, life really is pretty darned good.

Tomorrow’s question is: What advice would you give for getting unstuck? I wonder, does this mean in the mud, in writing, or in life? This just might call for another cup of coffee.

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Not Bad, For A Girl #LikeAGirl #YourTurnChallenge

Day Three

For a Girl

The Question: Something I think should be improved.
How can I choose only one thing? Let’s see. Okay what about the way women are perceived and presented to the world. Dumb Blonde. Ditzy Dame. Silly chick. Airhead. I’m sure you can fill in so many more derogative titles, all said with the pretense of humor.
I recently found this incredible video, sponsored by Always. Like a girl:

Here I am past 60, and I sat there with tears trickling down my cheeks. How many times had I allowed these words to be said about me? How many times had I toned down my activity, my strength, so I wasn’t thought of as not girly enough?
I finally said to hell with ‘them’ and lifted large bales of hay, mucked straw stalls, mowed the lawn, changed my own tires and batteries and oil. Yes, I was a girl but I was not less than.
Even today, when we should be in a better place; even in our first world society, we find girls still too often considered ‘less than.’ We still see salary disparities. And we still see elected officials interfering with the right to control our own lives and bodies.
What can be improved? Our own mindsets, and the way our children see each other. Not “Smart for a girl” or “Fast for a girl” or for that matter “Clever for a boy.” But Smart and Fast and Clever…and wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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Red Roses for a Blue Lady #YourTurnChallenge

Questions go along with this challenge. Yesterday’s was why am I doing this Challenge? I wanted to push myself back to blogging on a regular basis. As I was planning my blogs I realized I also wanted to examine some issues that had been bothering me for a long time.  Which led to today’s question: Tell something that’s important to me. The long term ongoing negative treatment of the female of ours species is a major issue for me. As I mentioned yesterday I was raised in an era of automatic male superiority, not to mention jobs divided by gender. Women cooked and cleaned. Men cut grass and worked outside. I really, really wanted to mow the lawn.

 

 

Continuing on my quest to demolish songs I thought I loved. Let’s look at Red Roses for a Blue Lady. Kinda schmaltzy but still seems sweet. Until we look at the lyrics. The crooning male is asking the florist to wrap up some red roses, since his girlfriend is sad (blue lady.) They had a “silly” quarrel and he’s hoping the flowers will make her less unhappy.
Who decided that quarrel was silly? The man? If the disagreement is profound enough to make her so unhappy she tells him to go away and leave her alone, then there is generally something serious going on. Yes, arguments can be trivial but there is generally some underlying factor. The man is hoping those pretty flowers take her blues away. Does he think if he throws some flowers at her she’ll go all googly eyed and forget whatever it was they were arguing about?
Oh, that’s right. It was a ‘silly’ quarrel.
Hey, mister. Have you ever thought about, just maybe, TALKING to her? Maybe trying to understand why she might be upset? Or do you have the standard belief system of a male at that time? From the lovely musical Camelot: “Never be too disturbed if you don’t know what a woman is thinking. They don’t do it very often.” (Merlyn talking to Arthur, in the song “How to Handle a Woman”)
Really? In 1960, we’re told women don’t think very often. Well no wonder that man thought some dead flowers would convince ‘the sweetest girl in town’ to get over herself and marry him.
My husband generally bought me rose plants. They lasted longer

Tomorrow’s question: Tell us about something that you think should be improved

Hoo Boy

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