Monday, December 14, 2009

Hot Artichoke Dip

I included this recipe in an article about tofu that I wrote many moons ago for a health magazine.
This is an easy, tasty dip. A friend of mine and I used to whip up a batch on Sunday afternoons to eat while playing Scrabble. Oh, yeah, it's a hit when taken to parties, too.

Hot Artichoke Dip
1 can quartered artichokes, drained (not marinated)
1 c. mayo
1 c. shredded parmesan
½ c. sliced almonds

Mix the artichokes, mayo, and parmesan in a food processor or blender. Put in a oven-proof small casserole dish, top with sliced almonds, and bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Serve with tortilla or bagel chips. (Tortilla chips are best, imho.)

You can substitute silken tofu instead, but the dip won’t retain heat as long. It doesn’t taste ANY different, though.

This recipe doubles easily. Put it in a slightly larger dish and bake 20-25 minutes to make sure it’s heated through.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

JP Patches

JP Patches was in the neighborhood the other day.

The clown was a childhood hero of a friend of mine, so although I grew up in the Midwest under the banner of Captain Kangaroo, I heard a lot about this Northwest funny man from her.

So when I saw the sign announcing his visit to somewhere close by, I put my 9-year-old in the car and went searching for him.

Following the signs, I discovered that he was doing an appearance at an assisted living center. I groaned, and told my daughter that I didn't want to go if that's where he was. (I'd thought he may be at the Trader Joe's or such nearby.) I figured this was the facility's way of bringing in new residents, and I had no intention of using them for a few decades yet ...

Now my daughter only knowledge of JP is climbing on his Fremont statue last spring, but she went into Child-Pleading mode. While I was turning around and bemoaning this, she was in the back seat launching into, "Mom, you can do this. We should go," over and over. And over.

I finally relented, turned around AGAIN, and soon pulled into the parking lot.

So we walk in and are immediately met by two nice young woman asking Jo if she wants a bag of popcorn. She perked right up and took a little bag, while I filled out the door-prize drawing slip for a blue ray player (which we didn't win).

We take a few more steps in and see a bunch of chairs set up with elderly residents, mostly listing slightly to the side or dozing. JP was at the front telling tales about the making of the show. (We learned that he wasn't the intended person to play JP Patches, and didn't want to do it. His boss asked him if he wanted his job, which he did, and the rest is television history.)

A few other kids were there, also brought in by their parents. One of the little girls (about 4 or 5) took it upon herself to run back and forth, waking up the dozers. JP thanked her.

JP spoke for about 15 minutes, which was just about right. He also invited the kids who were there to come up to play the Yes-No Game. My 9-year-old bounced forward first. The clown gave her a bag, and told her to say yes to whatever question he asked. When she did, he'd put a lollipop in the bag. "Do you understand?" he asked her. "No," Jolene answered.

JP rolled his eyes, the crowd laughed, and he tried again. This time Jo got it. The gist of the game is that he'd ask a nice innocent question, and THEN ask the kids something they DIDN'T want to say yes to -- such as "You got a spanking this morning, right?" or "You're really a little boy, right?"

Ultimately, it was a contest about who could hold out the longest before saying no -- and he'd take the bag back and hand over one lollipop, which was just about right.

After the talking with the audience (he was good at this; asked nice questions of the residents), he moved to the back table, where there were things like $1 buttons and $20 T-shirts to buy. I got Jo a button, which she wore for the rest of the day.

And there was cake! JP had been brought in for the center's 10th anniversary, and there was merriment all around. My 9-year-old honed right in on the cake, as well as the cotton candy machine. "Aren't you glad we came, Mom?"

Yes, it was a piece of Northwest history to go along with the cake.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Once Upon a Youth Theatre

So JoJo is in her first theatre production, Once Upon a Mattress." She's one of the Kids of the Kingdom, which is in turn part of The Company. (More later.)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rehomed ...

Today I read a piece hitting the news about a mother who returned her adopted son (and I presume he was legally adopted within the 18 months she and her husband had him).

The mom had five biological daughters, and assumed she'd bond with him the same way as she did when her other children were born.

Quoted by, she said: "I loved him and cared deeply for him. I tried to do the exact same thing I did with my biological children, but over time it became clear that maybe our family wasn't a good match for him ..."


I have little patience for her nonsense.
  • Why in the world would she think she'd "bond" with a little boy abandoned at age 1 in just 18 months? Or that he'd bond with her?
  • Why in the world did she think parenting a little boy would be the same as parenting girls?
  • Why in the world did she believe that her daughters and husband would be on board with her dream?
Granted I have no idea if he was trying to set the house on fire, or regularly hit family members with a hammer. But the article was all about attachment. And her inability to feel it.

Hey, Tedaldi, newsflash: Love is a decision, not an emotion.

Her blathering about, "...desperately wanting to impress an indelible memory of my son on me, and me on him ..." seems disingenuous, to say the least.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

30-Minute Skillet Lasagne!

This recipe came from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer when it was a real newspaper with Wednesday recipes. The P-I's recipes were always better than The Seattle Times' ones, and this lasagne was one of my favorites.

It's also 30 minutes from start to finish -- five minutes to prep, 25 minutes to cook!

Serves 4 generously

8 no-boil lasagne noodles
1 jar pasta sauce of your choice
Crumbles (or ground beef, if you must)
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 1/4 c. Italian blend shredded cheese
1 to 1 1/2 c. water

Brown your Crumbles (or ground beef). Drain, if you need to (you won't need to drain with Crumbles).

Pour in the jar of pasta sauce. At this point I also add oregano, because I have it.

Add a bit more than a cup of water, then break the lasagne noodles into 2- to 3-inch pieces into the sauce. Stir them to cover, and bring to a bit of a boil for about five minutes.

In the meantime, mix the ricotta and 1 cup of Italian cheese in a smallish bowl. Drop by dollops (love that word) onto the top of the lasagne. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cover and reduce heat to low for about eight minutes.

That's it!

I like to serve this with warm bread or rolls and a green salad. My 9-year-old loves this, too, and I always have enough for at least one lunch over the next days.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The End Is Near, so What's Next?

The New York Times Magazine published "Facebook Exodus," August 26, reporting on how people have been amscraying the social media behemoth. More and more, people are fearing the Big Brotherness of the mega-site, the magazine reports.

To date, I have four email addresses; a Facebook account with 70 friends, some of whom I don't really know; a Twitter account; two blogs (one is my terrier's); a website; and an iPhone. Yet I feel like an online underachiever.

The next generation
I also wonder what my now 9-year-old will be using when she ventures into the teenage years. (I'm giving her my backup laptop, and was feeling like I was lagging behind on this one.
Given the speed of online media, and the propensity of children to NOT copy their parents once they are older than 12, I suspect she won't use any of the online avenues I use. Facebook by then, I wager, will be as dead as; Twitter will have morphed; laptops will be passe; and a future-generation iPhone will be our work computers.
What will the children born in 2000s be doing? Using a yet-to-be seen medium, or rebelling against a world that demands 24/7 contact with anyone and everyone?
I'm hoping for the rebellion.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I have had animals for most of my whole life -- from cats and dogs to horses, cows, and rabbits.

So when a new animal joins me, I have a conversation with him or her, pointing out that I will most likely outlive him or her, and I have a maximum amount I'll spend on any large vet expenditure. I want that all out in the open.

And over the years, I have, of course, had animals die: from illness, accident, injury. From old age.

But I have never said good-bye to an apparently healthy animal. Until now.

On July 30, I had my 9-year-old cat euthanized. She had always been opinionated, as any self-respecting cat should be, but over the past five years, she'd been getting more and more aggressive.

Not long ago, she attacked my 10-year-old sleeping dog. I had never heard such screams from him before; he was left with a body full of raw scratches. Two more attacks were stopped in the weeks after that. And the dog was afraid of her.

Through the years, Bunter would bite. When petting her, one had to be careful, because if you didn't stop petting her soon enough, she'd bite or scratch.

It took two people and tranquilizer to trim her nails.

She once left a vet bloody, and me bloody and on antibiotics. (She was scared that time, though.)

I had pheromones plugged in all over the house; yes, I tried kitty Valium.

Finally, though, as I saw her mood and temperament continue to get harder and more aggressive (and had to warn visitors and neighborhood kids to be careful), I called the vet for a heart to heart.

After a lengthy conversation with her longtime vet, I made the decision. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I stayed with her as she was put to sleep. And I never, ever want to have to make this decision again.