I can't explain why, but the holiday always have me craving my Gramma's stew. It is healthy, easy to make, and feels like you are doing something good for yourself when you eat it. I make the stew every year in the couple of weeks before Christmas and it always hits the spot. Serve it with your with crusty bread and butter. Yum!
Gramma Mary's Windmill Stew
1 to 2 lbs ground beef (I use elk)
1 clove garlic-crushed
1 bell pepper-diced
3-4 celery stalks-diced
1 can crushed tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
Brown ground beef or elk with the onions, garlic, and celery. Add all the other ingredients and simmer on medium-low for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the veggies are tender. Serve with your favorite bread.
What's your favorite holiday comfort food?
This week's post provides a clear view of Missoula culture, from the lens of a cell phone.
I'd never attended the parade before. In true Missoula fashion, there were many in attendance, despite the wind and blowing snow. Participants of the parade carried banners, signs, and skeletons. They handed out candy and flowers. Some danced to the music of the brass band, others laughed and celebrated. Some appeared to be crying beneath their face paint. Even the spectators wore paint and masks.
It is said Dia de los Muertos is thousands of years old and originated in Aztec, Toltec, and Nahua cultures. They considered mourning the dead disrespectful. To them the dead were still members of the community-kept alive in memory and spirit. That feels like a comfort to me, though I do not prefer such a singular response to death and grief.
I feel my loved ones near sometimes, I dream of them, I laugh and remember them, and I miss them with my whole heart. I still cry, and there is no shame or disrespect in that, either.
What about you?
Yum. I discovered this recipe when my kids were little and it is a family favorite. As the air grows colder, and the Autumn colors light our view, inevitably one of the family will request these pancakes for breakfast.
My family is cursed with food allergies. Emma, Kole, and I all have/had different ones. I will spare you the details, but Emma's allergy is wheat and she now carries and epi-pen.
Fun stuff, food allergies. It feels nearly impossible to cater to them all simultaneously. In this week's post, I will publish the wheat free flour mix I created after years of practice. This mix allows me to bake for the family and accommodate Emma's allergy without sacrificing flavor. I substitute this mix straight across in all my favorite recipes.
**Disclaimer-I do not make wheat free crust yet. I am not a crust maker in general, so I haven't tried it.
Jenna's Wheat Free All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 C. Oat Flour
2 1/4 C. Brown Rice Flour
2 C. Potato Flour
1 C. Tapioca Flour
4 tsp. Arrow Root
1 1/2 C. Sweet Rice Flour
Mix with a whisk. As you can see, this is a generous portion. I mix it on baking day as my canister will not accommodate the full portion, so I need to use some prior to storing it for other baking and recipes!
Pumpkin Oat Pancakes
1/4 C. Oats 2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 C. Buttermilk 1 Egg
1/4 C. Wheat Flour 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 C. White Flour 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda 3/4 C. mashed pumpkin
In a mixing bowl, pour buttermilk over oats and let sit for 15 minutes. Mix all ingredients-batter will be thick and chunky (oats). Cook on the griddle, at 325. As the batter is dense, cook time is longer. These pancakes taste great with apple topping or real maple syrup!
**If you use the wheat free flour mix, substitute for both flours-1 1/4 C. wheat free mix. Wheat free pancakes often need extra liquid-I added an extra cup of almond milk in this version but buttermilk or regular milk will also work.
Our daughter, Emma, is our spicy girl. She loves food far more spicy than either my husband or I. She is also very adventurous in her food selections and creations. I began with a recipe and then continued with my own flair. Let me know if you try it and what you think!
Jenna's Garden Penne with a Kick
Ingredients1 red onion chopped
1 Roma tomato, diced
4 oz. pancetta, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1 yellow zucchini, halved and sliced
6 oz. uncooked penne
2 cloves garlic
1 Thai chili pepper
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
5 oz. fresh spinach
1 TBSP raw sugar
Salt and pepper
Drizzle olive oil in a pan on medium high heat and add pancetta, tossing occasionally, until slightly crispy, 2-3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, zucchini, and chili pepper to taste and cook until fragrant. Add canned and Roma tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and simmer.
Boil water and cook penne as per package directions.
Add fresh spinach to sauce after the pasta goes into the water and simmer while the pasta cooks.
Toss penne into sauce. Serve with shredded parmesan cheese.
I was looking through my writing and found the section below. I wrote it a week after Kole died in a section about "things I didn't know", and it feels like something many people can understand. It also applies to the hurricanes and wild fires we have experienced as a nation.
Intense grief is physically painful. I can feel every second. Every. Single. One. Each causes physical pain. It's like there is a sledge hammer on the inside of my rib cage, pounding from the inside, trying to break out. It feels heavy, crushing, and agonizing. Ten minutes passes; to me, it feels like an hour. There are words for which I have an intimate understanding for the first time: excruciating, devastated. I didn’t know it, but I never truly understood the meaning of those words until now. They roll through my mind as I take one more step each day. One more step away from the days when my son was alive.
The YouTube video I linked has a beautiful and haunting feel and the words devastated and excruciating come to mind here as well.
Perspective shifts and changes with experience; we all experience this at some point or another. We often do not choose the perspective shift, it is thrust upon us.
We endure together.
Kole and Emma spent one year together in high school, he as a senior and she a freshman. One day, a friend gave Emma a wallet as a gift, and it was sitting on the kitchen bar.
"Look, Em. It's just like your brain: random and colorful!" Kole told her with his teasing grin.
Emma opened her mouth and closed it, unable to respond. To this day I believe that was a fitting description of Em, she is smart, sweet, sassy, and creative. And it's a great line-I may have to use it some day in one of my novels.
A few months after his death, Mamalode published Emma's eulogy for Kole's funeral. Emma added an introduction, but otherwise, those were the words she spoke to the more than 2,000 people who attended the service.
When we were planning the service, I knew I couldn't speak. I simply wasn't capable of it. But when I asked Emma if she wanted to write the obituary, she declined. Instead, she requested to speak, it was something she had to do. She was 15. Brave. Kind. Broken hearted.
Emma left for college recently, another milestone in our lives. She began in this world as a younger sibling but is now forced to walk alone as our only surviving child. She feels the pressure we try very hard not to place upon her.
I self-published two novels, Leaning and Bound. I played with blogging but never committed to a topic or a format. I couldn't image what I could have to say that might strike a chord, or be interesting or new. Lack of commitment? Lack of confidence?
A new beginning.
Many consider a beginning a time of growth, of expansion, of new life.
My perspective shifted in the early morning hours of March 15, 2015 when officers from the Sheriff's department showed up on my doorstep. My son died that night at the age of 19 in an accident involving a fire arm. I still can't talk about it without crying, 2 years, four months, and 12 days later. Not that I'm counting.
Every step since has been like a new beginning because my world is different. It feels different. And sometimes, I need experiences to be very different from when Kole was alive. This new beginning feels difficult, not new or beautiful.
When Kole died, and for many, many, months afterward, the colors of the world muted for me. Everything felt smaller. It felt like less possibility resided in the world.
I didn't stop writing, but I did stop writing publicly. Some of the private writing will become public in this, my new beginning. It will be laced with pieces of my sad journey, but will also include happiness, recipes, photos, and favorite stories of varied types.
I hope some will join me on this journey, as it is a trail I do not walk alone, but regardless, I will be here.
I finally did it! The second installment of the Montana Series was published today.
Click here for the print version and enter the code QR4X7KTG for a $2 discount.
Click here for the ebook version.
The ebook will be promoted from January 27 through February 2 on Amazon and will be offered at a discount. I recommend the print version; Jennifer Golan's cover is beautiful.
I would love to hear from you so please email me or publish a review on amazon after you finish reading the book. Enjoy!
Many of you have been waiting patiently so this is for you! Bound is available on Amazon as an ebook only. In January, 2014 the traditional book will also be available. As always, the details will be published here first, so stay tuned.
Here is what you can expect:
The ebook version of Bound will be for sale on Amazon for $3.99. In a few days (as soon as the ebook is published world wide) I will have a countdown deal available for the purchase of Bound. It will begin at $.99, then move slowly up in price until it goes up for it's listed price at $3.99.
Hopefully by then the book version will be available.
I planned to have Bound out in October but technology has not favored me this year. I won't bore you with the details, but it's taken some time to iron out the glitches. The good news is Bound should be out in 2013, hopefully in time for Christmas. When I have an exact date, I will post it here.
Bound will be available here, on my website, first. So those of you chomping at the bit, keep watching because it's coming!
Up, Up, and Awake:
Bound, coming soon!
Discovery Ski Hill, New Year's Eve 2012
George Carlin Bit Featured in Leaning
And it's Live! Just Like That!
The New Norm
Attention Self Published Authors! Submission Request!
Bound, The Sequel to Leaning
Screen Shot of Leaning on Amazon Best Sellers Page
Chronicles of a Wacky Week and a #1 Novel
Collection of Funny, Family Sayings
It's Never Too Late...
Flaws and Research