friday eats

Candied Cashew and Pear Salad
3/4 cup cashew halves
4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
1 (10 ounce) package mixed salad greens
1 medium pear, thinly sliced
1/2 cup halved seedless red grapes

In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast cashews until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove cashews to a dish to cool slightly. Return skillet to medium-high heat, cook bacon strips until crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and soak up grease with a paper towel. Coarsely chop bacon, and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together butter, rosemary, curry powder, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and toasted cashews. Set aside. In a small jar, mix together white wine vinegar, mustard, and honey, olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, cover and shake. In a large salad bowl, toss dressing with greens, pear slices, grapes, and bacon, and sprinkle with nut mixture. I made this for a family dinner recently and it was a big hit, toss on a little cooked salmon or chicken and you have yourself a meal!

“The colors of a fresh garden salad are so extraordinary, no painter’s pallet can duplicate nature’s artistry.”  ~Dr. SunWolf

summer sweets

My friend, Fab, gave me a recipe for simple blueberry jam. This morning, I smeared some of my homemade jam on a toasted, gluten-free English muffin and tasted summer in every delectable bite.

5 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon until the berries have released their juices. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture has thickened for about 20 minutes. Transfer to containers and refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 1 year.

pool time

Getting lots of use out of the pool during this hot, hot summer. That’s my sister’s granddaughter in the warm and wooly Dora hat. It was 90 degrees outside but she insisted on wearing it, even in the pool! I’ve been reading quite a bit this summer, doing some writing again, and working toward self-publishing one of my books. Favorite Aunt Janet keeps asking me about my novels and bugging me to, “put something in print so I can actually hold it in my hands and read it!” So that’s what I’m going to do, but don’t tell her, I want her to be surprised when she opens a package from Amazon next month and pulls out my book!

one small breath

As I write this post, I am thankful that September has arrived in Michigan and gifted us with a lovely late summer day. I’ve planted mums in the flower garden by the mailbox, planned a barbecue for the holiday weekend, and yet I can’t help but think about the fragility of life this afternoon. My daughter texted me last night that her and her partner have to put one of their beloved cats to sleep this week. A friend called to tell me one of the week old baby twins born to the son of another close friend is gravely ill, a blogging buddy has been asking for prayers for neighbors who lost their five year old daughter in a backyard swimming pool accident, and this month is bittersweet for me and my family as we will mark the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. On Sunday, when I asked my father if he wanted to do anything on the 30th to commemorate the day, he silently shook his head and I suddenly felt how alone he has been for the past twelve months. My sister and I have made an effort to see my dad every week, and we talk about my mother often, but still, after fifty-one years of marriage I know there aren’t enough dinners or walks down memory lane that can change the fact that his wife is no longer sitting on the couch across from him reading her books with her little dog Ellie curled up on her lap.

Several weeks ago my dad woke up at dawn. When he looked toward the foot of his bed he saw the misty outline of a woman standing there, just looking at him. She was wearing a long white dress and he couldn’t make out her face. All at once, his two dogs who sleep in the bed with him, woke up and began barking in the direction of the ethereal figure. After a minute or two, my dad got up and took the dogs outside to try and settle them down. When he went back into his bedroom the woman was gone but the dogs were still nervous and it took them quite some time to go back to sleep. My dad said he would have thought it was a dream if the dogs hadn’t apparently seen the woman too. He said he assumed the figure was my mother.

So I don’t know, maybe my father isn’t alone. Maybe all the tender moments shared, all the joy filled beginnings and the sad goodbyes, all the threads of love and longing and regret that join each life to another, maybe all these things really do survive long after we are gone. And just maybe, if you are very lucky like my father, when you feel most alone they will gather together in the haze of the early morning light and give you peace. That is my wish for my friends and family on this bright September day, peace in knowing that it doesn’t matter if a life is measured in days or in years, in good health or in trial, each life is worthy and perfect just as it is – beginning and ending with one small breath.

(almost) wordless wednesday

Me and the mister were sitting out on the deck last night listening to summer come to a close in our northern state. The sound of the crickets, tree frogs, and buzzing cicada’s got so loud at one point we looked at each other and laughed out loud. I remembered laying in my childhood bed with my head on the windowsill listening to the same sounds, knowing that September had arrived bringing cooler nights for sleeping and a new school year. That’s me on the right with my brother David, my sister Amy, and our happy little baby sister Carrie.

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips. ~Violette Leduc

Take a peek at other Wordless Wednesday entrants here:)