Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter! Doors have been opened for us and doors have been slammed in our faces. We've all been there. Not knowing why some doors are closed and others that are opened. You can say that about a lot of things in life. Can you say that too many doors have been opened for you? Probably not. One door was slammed in our face a long time ago. And it still hurts today. Time! What are you going to do with all that extra time on your hands? Sit and worry. Stare out the windows and wish you were one of the... So tell me. How do you know. The difference between the here and the there. Between the dark and the light. Between the wrong and the right. When you looked at yourself in the mirror this morning, what did you see? Was it the door being slammed in your face? Or was it the hand in front of you that graciously held the door for you to let you in? To see the light on the other side. To capture the rays and make us shine. Again! We often don't have a clue why things happen to us on this path we call life. There are many paths to wonder over. The good ones. The bad ones. The broken glass on the floor paths. The fragrant flower paths. We smell the sweet aroma of the green grass and take in the essence of awe. Some paths have now turned mechanical. Electrical. Magical. But, in all honesty, we often seek the simplest paths. The one with dirt and mud. The tiny pebbles now trapped in the corners of our shoes and the crevices of our toes. Where are you going today? They say that the most humble of paths lead to home. These are not the most travelled. They are often cluttered with thorns and high brush. They are rocky. They are treacherous. They require a careful eye and a willing hand. My hands are trembling. They are worn and dirty. Full of guilt and ego. I try to wash them, but the dirt remains. I scrub over and over. Nothing. Wash away the sins of the world and have mercy on us. Wash away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us. Wash away the sins of the world. Grant us your peace.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23,2011

Take away all the pain, and I will give you life. This peace on earth is not an easy thing to come by. We slumber in our apparels and wonder why we even wear a shirt on our back. If your not careful, you'll lose it. Quick! These days of modern times. The salt keeps pouring out of the container and the smell of my flesh is burning. Will the healing ever stop? One day. One day. One day... My sheets will hang outside for days before they are completely dry. My sorrows and joys have all been bottled up for the celebration. A rebirth of our lives into another world. The forever smiles. Reality Check! Where ya' goin'? The rain is starting to fall and the salt is being washed away. Ouch! The salt of life continues to wash away our sins and we scream for attention. "Hey, someone throw me a rope." More salt continues to roll down our back. The choices we make. The consequences we partake. The candy-coated skins on our bodies has melted away and the flesh within has been exposed. Exposed to the real light. The only light that matters. This light from above will conquer our soul and make us whole again. REGRETS! Is that salt too simple for you? Is it too fine? Try some coarse some time. A sea. A kosher. A different texture may lead to a new discovery. Regrets! Imagine the consequences. A simple tune for a hardened man.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 17, 2011

"Do you know where you're going to? Do you like the things in life it's showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know?-Diana Ross. Do you know where you are going to? I often ask that question to myself. The older you get, I think the more you ask it. It's not like I don't know. I do know! But, it's scary still, when you know you'll see the Messiah one day. I'm not talking about life as we know it. I'm talking about life as we don't know it. No filling up the car with gas. No running to the store for a loaf of bread. Not even writing that check for the mortgage every month. No bills ever again! It's like you've won the lottery and gone to heaven! Well guess what? You're right. It's not a mistake. It's true. Heaven. It's like no other place on earth! For one thing, it's not on earth. Second: Aren't you glad you said the word "YES" one day and gave it all to the one that mattered the most. The one that gave you life. The one that gave you breath. The one that died for you before you even died. Think about it. A lot came to my mind the day before my pacemaker operation. One More Day! In all actuality, it's not even my choice. God will always have the last word. You might not agree with him, but you know he's right. So, when they wheeled me into the operating room the day of my surgery, they asked me, "How ya' doing? And the first thing that popped into my head was, "What's up!" Every one in the room let out a chuckle and the tension was lightened automatically. I said, "I'm here for the killing." Then they looked at each other and somebody called out, "You'll be just fine." I replied,"I got all my worrying done yesterday." It was kinda' like Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry on the operating table saying,"Go ahead. Make my day." And life continued. I woke up the next day not knowing what happened and feeling like a handful of nails had been pounded into my upper chest. Was I dead? Not quit. I knew this wasn't heaven. It was just a bad bed in an ugly room in a hospital. It was 3:30 A.M. the next day. I swallowed and it hurt. The killing had not happened. The reward of passover. It wasn't some mysterious reasoning of thought blended with an egocentric dusted in confectioners sugar. This was passover. A passing over of my life from heaven that was down to earth. Grounded! The pacemaker that had been provided had me grounded back to earth. Like the lightening from above. My life was back on its way. No doubt. No worry. All faith. What a concept! Do you know where you're going to? Do you like the things in life it's showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 15, 2011

It's been 8 days since my pacemaker surgery, and I long for the days of carefree again. My body has many restrictions until mid May. I can't do this. I can't do that. It's too bad that life has so many ups and downs. Without them though, I guess it wouldn't be called life. I pour myself another cup of coffee. This time, less milk than before. Tax Day Again! After I arrived at the post office, I was informed that this year I was given another 3 days of procrastination. Time flies when you're having fun! This day felt very possessive. I wanted to make the very best of it. When all else fails: PIE! Those Sweet Potatoes I bought the day before at the market were just dying on the counter for some inspiration. They were on sale and with motivation and inspiration in both hands, the game of pie moved to a higher level. Can you make a pie that's better than the last? ABSOLUTELY! Idea #1: Sweet Potato Pie. Sit on it for a while and wonder the apartment. Idea #2: How to make that Sweet Potato Pie different. I've done Pumpkin Pies with a Praline -Pecan topping, but wanted to make something different than this. Can you make 2 pies in one? What about a Sweet Potato Pie on the bottom and a Pecan Pie on the top? The best of both worlds in one pie! And that's exactly what happened. A pie of fortunate and misunderstanding combined with a pie of honor and tradition: Sweet Potato Pecan Crusted Pie! I won't give you the recipe, but you get the idea. A warming of the soul with many stairs to follow! Amen!

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 13, 2011

It's back to my cooking again or should I say, I'm back in the saddle again. You really didn't think I would be out more than a week: Did you? A Chocolate Flourless Cake! 4 Dozen Pink Ladies(That's what I called them. Actually they are Raspberry Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. They took on a pink hue because of the raspberry preserves and raspberry flavored syrup). Garlic Lovers Shrimp over Angel Hair Pasta. It was a complete day of cooking for somebody who had pacemaker surgery only 6 days prior to. All 3 dishes came out great! The Chocolate Flourless Cake was heaven on a fork. It's literally a dessert that tastes like chocolate air. So full of flavor and so light and airy. The Pink Ladies were developed from another cookie recipe that was modified to make due with the ingredients on hand. They came out pretty darn good! They had no butter or oil! I did use a heart healthy spread substitute. It wasn't the taste I was looking for, but it was an experiment that lead to a conclusion: BUTTER IS BETTER! End of Story! The Garlic Lovers Shrimp over Angel Hair Pasta was a masterpiece! It wasn't complicated. It was powerful! It wasn't dry. It was a pool of garlic liquid over threads of Angel Hair with bits of red pepper and white wine and lots of shrimp. Here's the recipe:

Garlic Lovers Shrimp over Angel Hair Pasta

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons of bottled minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
Angel Hair Pasta

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. After the oil gets hot, add the red pepper flakes, garlic and bay leaf. Stir for 30 seconds. Turn down the heat to medium. Add your shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp and put into a reserved bowl. Now, add your white wine and deglaze the pan. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the parsley and thyme and give it a stir. Add the shrimp back to the pan and coat with the white wine ensemble. Give a taste and see what you think. This will serve 4 people or 2 really hungry people. Serve over Angel Hair Pasta. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 10, 2011

I'm really glad I did all that cooking for my wife and daughter before I went into the hospital for my surgery. The last 4 days have been a growing process. The pain is less painful every new day and the coffee tastes better. The medications I'm on have really suppressed my appetite. I'm really craving fruit and a lot of water. The hospital stay was nice, but the reality check is back in place. As promised, I did make the Beer Bread. It's not hard at all, and knowing I can do it without thinking about it, is a huge plus. It's nice to have a reserve of recipes locked into your mind past. I sip from the bottle before I make my dues. 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder,1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Make it all white. Gently combine all these ingredients in a large bowl. Turn on the oven and set to 375 F. Take a standard size loaf pan and coat with cooking spray. Take that bottle of beer at room temperature and pour into the flour mixture. Combine until all flour has disappeared. Pour this mixture into the loaf pan and spread it evenly. Take a half stick of butter or margarine and melt it in the microwave or over low heat until melted. Pour all of the melted goodness over the batter mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes in the 375 F oven. What comes out is a beautiful loaf of nooks and crannies on top with rich and hearty blessings within. It tastes great out of the oven! A bit of butter or a bit of your favorite jam will do nicely. Most of the time in life, the best things to bake are often the easiest. Not much complication. Simplify! In the world we live today: SIMPLIFY!

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 9, 2011

The pain is still intense as I pull myself off the couch. My left arm is highly restricted for the next 5 weeks. I can't pull it over my shoulder until May 12th! I already have it marked on my calender. My get and go has gone away and went. This is not what I expected. But, in all honesty, I didn't know what to expect. When they do operations of this sort, they have to cut through layers of muscle on your upper left chest area. Obviously, I didn't get the memo. The patch of artwork that is so prominently displayed on my upper torso will be inspected by my doctor on Tuesday. Hopefully, I'll be able to drive then. I've been dealt some bad hands in my life. This nothing of a kind is hard to swallow. In my kitchen, I sit and look to see all that is in front of me, and I have no idea what to do next. The bargaining table has been dealt a heavy blow. I will always remember how to do things. I just have to slow down and take a new seat in my pants. The coffee tastes great this morning! At least I can still make a good cup of Joe. A bottle of beer is sitting right in front of my face. I got it out yesterday to make room temperature. I'll be able to make Beer Bread later today as I'm watching the last round of The Masters Golf Tournament. I sat and watched some of the finest shots of my life yesterday. I hope to be able to play again. One shot at a time.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 8, 2011

I remember very little from yesterday afternoon. I woke up this morning feeling very groggy and sore. Like someone punched me on the left side of my chest a thousand times. When I awoke at 3:30 A.M. this morning, my sheets were cold. I must of had a fever last night, because my sheets were damp to the touch. The bed was remade by someone and I needed some caffeine. There was a pudding pack on my moving table beside me. It must have been leftover from my dinner last night. I ate the chocolate pudding quickly at about 4 A.M. Starving! My waking status alarmed almost everyone. The staff saw to it that I remained calm and in complete well-being in my new surroundings. As I continued my day, I found the coffee lounge area. It was peaceful and I found some coffee. The warmth filled my hands and my soul. It enveloped my inner surroundings. I think coffee tastes better in periods of waiting. I met a man of 53 years of age who had a heart attack the Friday night before. It had been a week since his fall from grace. He looked really good for someone who had died 3 times in one night. He told me of his story and that when he finally woke up, it was 3 days later. He didn't like the news when he was told they don't know when he was going home. He actually looked content of just being there: that he knew he was stuck in the hospital for a while. My hands thanked him for his conversation and then found another cup of coffee. I sat and watched TV for a little bit and did very little most of the morning. Around 10 A.M. or so, my doctor informed me that I would be able to go home later that day. It just amazed me to hear that I was just admitted yesterday at around 10:30 in the morning, and now going home 27 hours later after having pacemaker surgery the day before. My mind did a lot of thinking. There will be no cooking for the next few days. A rest from my operation will be gratifying. I've got a long list of little things to do around the apartment. Watching the Masters golf tournament, writing and doing my taxes. I usually don't wait this long to do it, but procrastination took over my life in certain areas this year. It was one for the record books. Heart still beating and soul still searching.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011

D-Day! Again! Been There. Done that. It's not like I look forward to it. It's just circumstances beyond your control. The paths I have crossed over my lifetime are a high wire circus act intersecting a food bazaar in the worlds largest farmers market. I've eaten just about everything under the sun and more. Yesterday, I cooked meals for my family for the next 4 days. Knowing a lot about food, and the way things are made, I wanted to prepare a Grand Affair. The Pork Loin was taken out of the refrigerator while I figured out what to do with it. In a bowl, I created a mixture of Sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, Whisky and Cinnamon. The flavors were sweet, spicy and bold. Marinated the Loin in this mixture for an hour and then baked it at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. The 5 1/2 pounds had a rustic reserve and a oh so good sauce. My plan is to pair it with Potato Gnocchi. Simply delicious! The company will be paired with Sauteed Golden Delicious Apples with Maple Syrup and Butter. Pork. Apples. Potatoes. The other meal I cooked was a standard: Lemon-Caper Chicken. The sweet of lemons paired with the salty of the Capers in a family tradition of Angel Hair Pasta and Mixed Vegetables on the side. The Pumpkin Bread loaded with was baked the day before. A call to arms on the last cold front of the year. Summer comes earlier every year. There are plenty of ice cream bars in the freezer if anybody gets hungry for dessert. It's not like my time in the kitchen is wasted. You see, I actually like planning, creating and cooking for my family. It's what I do. It's not like I'm cooking my last meal. I've got bigger plans ahead of me. My calling of choice. See you on the flip side.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011

I'm staring at my box of heart healthy oatmeal right now. Heartier texture. New great taste. 25% less sugar. There's a big red check mark in front of all these headlines. It's the flavor variety box with 3 wonderful flavors. I'm supposed to eat this? Right?! And, it's supposed to make my heart healthier? Right?! I'm feeling a little overwhelmed right now. My life has drizzled down to physical rehab 3 days a week, a series of drop offs and pickups for my daughter at school and trying to please my wife and daughter with my culinary brilliance. All I can really think about is that Billy Joel song "Honesty". It's a really sad song with a lot of truth. It's a really great song with words of integrity. It's honest to the core. You know, I've been honest all my life. Even when I knew it was going to have consequences on my life. I always stood up for my candid remarks and sarcastic lines of life. Maybe, I was too honest. I don't really know. Is that possible? To tell it like it is, whether you lose friends or pledge allegiance to the flag. Did you know that on every coin and bill of American currency is the line "In God We Trust". Think about this. We trust in God to take care of our money. First of all, I'm not questioning the existence of God. First and foremost, I'm a follower who attends and gives to the church of my choice on a regular basis. And God knows I'm not perfect. Second: God created our world for us. To nourish us. To take care of us. To give us peace and wisdom. God created the trees that make our money. He also created the elements that go into the making of our coinage. So, more or less, he invested his art of creation into our lives. He gave us wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong. Two steps forward. Three steps back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 3, 2011

Have you really seen the light? The light is a bright and magical place. It's the shine of the day and the dark of the night all in one space. It's the wondering smiles of children when they are 5 years old. It's the pancakes that wake you up in the morning even before the smell of fresh coffee. A piece of priceless artwork. It's the most perfect piece of chicken that you've ever tasted. The smell of chamomile tea. The burnt edges of coconut on a frosty coconut cream cake. The warmth of the sun. I don't see the light like I used to. It's not as bright as it used to be. It's not even magical anymore. It's just kinda' there. It seems to me to be growing dimmer by the day. The underdogs never win and I only hear the screaming of the 5-year- olds. The pancakes have no smiling faces and the coffee is as cold as ice. The art we call art is not art at all. I really don't know what to call it. All the chickens taste the same and the tea of chamomile is an endless pot of emptiness. The coconut has no texture and is a soggy mess. The warmth of the sun? What does that mean? It seems to me to be in the sky: either an oven waiting to turn itself off or a freezer stuck on autopilot. My coffee pot is full of holes. The more coffee I understand, the less I drink. My heart that feeds my body is leaking badly. There is no concern or understanding of the human soul. The books that I were told to read were all just a bunch of lies. The hard work that I endured as a child and into adulthood was just a reality check of lying turned into the truth. Power is a terrible game in this world of life today. You either have it or you don't. My understanding of life is a fall from grace. My grace is only heard to me in words of faith as I sit for my daily meals. To speak of myself, I have no grace or gracefulness at all. My walking line is no straight and narrow. In all honesty, I just want to make it to tomorrow. I couldn't walk a straight line if you paid me. Just give me some guidance. A way of life to understand. Drinking all that coffee has made my way of thinking a bitter after taste. Give me some cream and maybe even a little sugar to sweeten my thoughts. Here's to my next cup of coffee.