Emergence

The weight of many hearts beats upon my chest.

Do I dare soar?

Do I dare fall?

Drawn to warmth after a long winter’s slumber.

A frozen soul melted by hope.

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Thanksgiving Favorite!

Growing up in New Hampshire, we always had Indian Pudding at Thanksgiving.  I took this delicacy for granted until I moved to other areas of the country where the dish was virtually unknown.  Best described as a cross between bread pudding and pumpkin pie, it is perfect served warm with a side of natural vanilla bean ice cream.

Indian Pudding first appeared in New England during the 17th century. It grew in popularity and became a Thanksgiving staple. However, Indian Pudding seems to be fading from memory, even in our region.  I have enclosed our family recipe below (with lactose free equivalents).  If you are looking for a new treat, give it a whirl!

Classic Indian Pudding

5 Cups Whole Milk (yes, whole milk as skim and fat free do not work. Lactose Free will also work)

½ cup Yellow Corn Meal

½ cup Sugar

½ Cup Molasses

¼ Cup Butter (for Lactose Free use Margarine)

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (If unavailable, mix ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger, and ½ teaspoon nutmeg)

Preheat Oven to 350. Combine 2 cups milk with corn meal, sugar, molasses, butter, salt, and spice in heavy sauce pan.  Heat on medium heat until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.  Pour into buttered baking dish (8 cup dish). Stir in 2 more cups milk. Bake for one hour. Stir in remaining one cup milk and back for approximately 1-2 hours or until set (jiggly, but still soft)

Serve with Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (I have also found lactose free ice cream, but it can be a challenge to find)

Pen and Chisel

Sunrise over the Mount Washington region, New Hampshire…Nature’s Inspiration

Thoughts fly free.

Dreams sleep in silence.

Voices soar when spoken.

But written words remain, carved in granite like nature’s masterpiece.

 

Tomato Mozzarella Panini

While going dairy and gluten free has made a world of difference in my day to day life, there are times when I crave my favorite foods beyond control. I splurge, and for the moment taste satisfaction, but my stomach soon reminds me why I don’t eat certain things. So, for today, I will dream of my favorite lunch while I pack my gluten free tuna macaroni salad.

And, if anyone out there knows of a lactose free mozzarella cheese that actually tastes like mozzarella cheese, please let me know!

 

Tomato Mozzarella Panini

Easy, Easy, and so tasty!

Bakery Italian Bread (pre-sliced saves time)

Fresh Mozzarella (splurge for the good stuff, trust me!)

Tomato slices

Fresh Basil (chopped)

Balsamic Glaze

Slightly butter the bread and assemble your masterpiece. If you do not have a panini maker, a frying pan still works.

When done, drizzle with balsamic glaze (I always make a little puddle of glaze to dip in).  Enjoy!

 

Teeth Marks on a Lunch Box

It’s been almost 4 years since we lost our “dude.”  I came across a piece I had written shorty after his death. It is even more true today. I miss you Tucker!

Did you know soft sided insulated lunch boxes are hard to tear with teeth?  How about the types of doors easily opened by a hungry Lab desperate to raid the trash? Twelve years with our yellow Labrador Retriever Tucker has taught our family many lessons.

First, love and food are the only ingredients really needed to be happy in life. Tucker didn’t care if our wallet was full, only that we had hands to rub his ears with.

Second, you are perfect just the way you are. Sweat pants and messy hair is just the same as a three- piece suit and shower (although getting dog hair on a suit seemed to be more fun to him).

Third, be happy in the moment. Tucker didn’t worry over the future or stress about the past. He only knew the present and was happy in every single moment.

Lastly, life is too short.  We knew someday we would lose him, but the day always seemed so far away.  Even as his health failed we clung to the permanence of his presence. Imagining a life without our gentle soul just wasn’t possible.  Recently, we were faced with every pet owner’s worst nightmare…deciding when quality of life outweighed quantity.  Our boy struggled with standing, and his labored breathing made us fearful he would die alone and scared.  We said goodbye to him as a family, and he spent his last few hours on this earth surrounded with love and pizza.

The first day back to “normal” after Tucker’s death came too soon. I made it through my yoga stretches despite missing the cold nose shoved in my face.  I even walked by the dog leash still hanging in its spot on the wall without crying. Then I packed my daughter’s lunch. As I opened the faded green lunch bag, I was met with hundreds of teeth marks on the inside. The teeth marks I scolded him for, and he would hang his head as if sorry…or at least sorry he had gotten caught.  One of Tucker’s gifts was his ability to find that lunch box even if hidden inside a sealed backpack.  Almost nightly, I would find it on the floor with bits of chewed plastic containers and licked clean food wrappers scattered around.

Tucker’s influence is still all around us. Like the teeth marks in the lunch bag, his spirit is permanently indented in our souls. Our hearts burn with pain, but we are grateful for the beautiful years we spent with him. A dog’s life may be too short, but their impact will last forever.  Rest in peace sweet Tucker, you will live on in our hearts.