Loving Pets, Every Day

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February 20 is “Love Your Pet” Day, thankfully not a day that requires an obligatory greeting card (or profuse apologies after forgetting), but still a good time to celebrate our furry and feathered family members.  Or, as the cat below asks, shouldn’t every day be Love Your Pet day?

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Photo from Catwisdom101.com via Pinterest

To observe this important holiday, below are a few of my cat posts and a photo spread, because of course, you can never have too many cat pictures on the internet.

 

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: This City is a Quirky Feast for the Eyes

The third post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

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Hello Friends! As I mentioned in NOLA Jazz Fest 17 Post #1, we’re all jazzed up about going back to the New Orleans Jazz Fest after a hiatus of a couple of years.

We’re revving up the anticipation by looking back at previous trips and the wonderfulness that is New Orleans.  Going to Jazz Fest isn’t just about what’s going on at the official festival held at the fairgrounds, it’s the overall New Orleans experience.  We have friends going with us on our 4-day trip who might only attend the festival on one day, but will leave fully saturated with New Orleans culture, cuisine and character.

The Big Easy is a Quirky Feast for the Eyes

Today’s reflection is just a quick reminder of how the Big Easy is a quirky feast for the eyes.  There’s dancing in the streets (literally), art of all kinds everywhere, an endearing, welcoming, celebratory mood, and a gentle good humor that is balanced by a kind of edginess, the feeling that anything might happen at any time.

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The famous Blue Dog by George Rodrigue can be found all over the city (find a link to read more about him in Resources below)
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“Bead Dog” sculptures were all over the city in 2012 to raise awareness about animal cruelty (more info in Resources below)
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Street parties and dancing are everywhere
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And music is everywhere
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The gentle humor of this “We’re Closed” sign can be found all over the city

Be a New Orleanian

I can’t wait to bask in that atmosphere again in early May.  Ray Laskowitz, an amazing photographer in New Orleans, took this photo of a tuba with a sticker that puts it well:  Be a New Orleanian, wherever you are.  

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Photo by Ray Laskowitz from his post, As They Say

Resources

Ohhh, the anticipation!  More posts are coming in the near future to celebrate food and music and fun.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Emergency Responder for Squash Disaggregation: a Tale of Triumph Over Gourd-Adversity

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Emergency Call

I was working on a presentation in my office at 4:45 on a weekday, and I was startled when my arm rang.  (I’m still getting used to my new Apple Watch.)

Rose never calls me during work hours unless it’s a food emergency, so I answered, awkwardly holding my wrist up to my face and hoping no colleagues ventured into my office.  “Hi Rose, what’s up?”

“Kim, I’m wrestling with a spaghetti squash!  How do you get the dang thing open?”

This is serious business.  I forgot that I was talking to my wrist and told her the Spaghetti Squash Disaggregation Truth as I know it. (Rose grants me an elevated foodie status, and I try hard to deserve it.)

Get the biggest, sharpest butcher knife you have and stab it hard straight through the heart, like it’s a mortal enemy, then slice downward.

Rose had already done the stabbing.

“My knife is stuck!”

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“That happens to me, too.  You have two options – get a hammer and use it to tap your knife further into and down the squash beast, or get another knife and go at it from a different part of the squash.”

“Really?  This happens to you, too?  I thought there was some kind of Chef Squash Magic you could tell me about, some kind of kitchen wizardry…”  She tailed off, sounding kind of wistful and disappointed.  I hated to let her down.

“No Rose, really, I’ve been in that same situation, alone in the house, just me and the squash and that helpless feeling when it seems like more than you can handle.  But I was not going to let it win, Rose.  That’s where the ‘thinking it’s the enemy’ part comes in.  GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT!”  (I had forgotten that I was in an office setting and was talking to my wrist loud enough for co-workers to hear me waaaay down the hall – but, as I said, this was serious business and Rose needed my full support.)

We shared a few niceties, I encouraged her once more (“You’ve GOT this!”) and then hung up – or rather, I pushed a little red button on my watch to end the call and went back to my presentation.  I wondered how she’d fare, but knowing Rose, my money was on her.  It takes more than a gourd to defeat a grimly determined woman.

The Rest of the Story:  a Tale of Triumph Over Gourd-Adversity

A few hours later, I was rewarded with the rest of the story, presented on Facebook by a triumphant Rose.

“Sooo….my first sincere attempt at cooking spaghetti squash. Pinterest failed to mention that these squash do not have a soft melon-like consistency….they are hard boulders that taunt you with their inaccessibility. Thank you, (another friend), for your attempt at helping me, but I ended up swallowing my little pride and calling the Oracle, Kim. She suggested the stab and split downward method. After working out my frustrations on unsuspecting produce, the second picture is the final result. It tasted great, and was made more satisfying with the knowledge that I was consuming an earlier arch nemesis (that dang aforementioned boulder squash). I know this is long, and I don’t normally post food, but I’m celebrating a well earned triumph.”

She did it!

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The Wisdom of the Crowd:  A New Technique

Rose’s post generated lots of compliments and comments.  The banter was wonderful.  She added:

“I have to admit, it’s really good. Also, really easy once you break into the agricultural spawn of Satan.”

Said others:

  • “We have it all the time. My chain saw works great for cutting the little Devil.”
  • “This happened to me last week! After getting in a full workout cutting it, I read that you can microwave it for 5 min first to make it easier.”
  • “Poke holes and microwave for 2 minutes! It softens it significantly for you to cut it.”
  • “I see somebody else mentioned it (microwaving)! It really helps. You just can’t touch it for like 20 minutes after LOL!”
  • “I’ve found that hatchets are fun! That is of course if you forgo the above mentioned softening techniques.”

Softening in the microwave?  Great idea!  I had never heard that one and am ready to try it, unless…see Rose’s answer to the suggestion that she try the microwave approach.

“That will depend heavily on how the rest of my day has gone. The technique I employed to get into the squash this time was oddly therapeutic.”

The Recipe

Facebook folks asked for the recipe, which she shared:

Permission to Share

Final note:  I sought permission from Rose the Mighty Squash-Quasher to share this event and the Facebook conversation .

You have the intrepid heart of warrior! Kudos for winning the squash war and bringing the gourd to its culinary knees. The recipe looks super-yum. Can I put this escapade in my blog? Oh please?

She said yes.

Copyright 2017 Glover Gardens Cookbook

Telling the Story of a Picture

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img_1334My Dad is an amazing person.  Faithful, honest, smart, steadfast, loving, fair, funny, interesting, loyal, hardworking, generous, talented, a true “servant leader” – there just aren’t enough superlatives for me to describe him.

I know how blessed I am to be able to say that about a parent when so many others have not been so fortunate.  I am thankful. Every day.

Dad with Fancy CameraNot one to sit still, Dad worked as a consultant part-time well into his 70s.  Since he finally retired, he has had a little more time for his hobbies, including travel, woodworking (see my cutting boards), vegetable gardening, reading and photography.  But mostly, he and my Aunt-Mom have been super-busy volunteers, serving on the boards of various churches and charitable organizations.    Over the past few years, when they weren’t organizing food drives, or community repair days for shut-ins and the elderly, or fundraisers, they were spending nearly 40 hours a week revitalizing and relaunching a charity resale shop and food pantry. This drive to serve wasn’t new – both of them have been active in church leadership and taught Sunday school for almost all of their adult lives, and Dad was on the school board where I grew up for 15 years.

Dad and my Aunt-Mom didn’t just focus on the organizing and planning of these charity endeavors – they rolled up their sleeves and got dirty.  I called Dad once last year on his cell phone and after speaking with me for a moment, he said, “Well, I’ve gotta cut this short, I’m at the top of a ladder with my cell phone in one hand and a 2 x 4 in the other.”  He was repairing a roof for an “elderly” person during a community work day they’d organized.  At 77.  That’s my Dad.

But Dad has had a kick in the pants lately with some unique health issues that are proving challenging to resolve, and has a little more time on his hands to do inside things.  He’s making a beautiful table / kitchen island with various types of wood that my Aunt-Mom has designed – you can count on seeing photos of it here.  And he has documented this wonderful story for me about an original piece of art that has been in the family as long as I can remember.  I never knew about its origin and asked about it one day recently when I was visiting.  Here’s what he told me.

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Fred Olds in 1957

In 1964, I was attending North Texas State University (now North Texas University) and working my way through college at KDNT radio station, selling ads and doing the voiceovers.  You were less than a year old.  Your mother was working as an RN, the head nurse on a medical floor at Flow Hospital.  One of my clients was The Nation Bank of Texas.

One day,  the bank representative called and wanted to buy a 30-minute on-site live interview of the artist Fred Olds to draw customers into the bank.  Evidently Mr. Olds was all set up in the lobby with his brushes, paint, paper and easel and I was going to interview him while he was painting.

As I started to interview Mr. Olds, he said,”Can I paint you a picture?” I said yes, and he got out a box of crayons. I really did not know where this was headed, but in no time at all he painted a beautiful picture of an Indian using only crayons, all while doing the interview.  

I took picture home, had it framed and put under glass to protect it. We still have it 53 years later.

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The crayon Indian drawn in less than 30 minutes by Fred Olds in 1964

The American Indian in the drawing is proud, noble and free; you are drawn into the image and can sense his dignity.  It’s a remarkable piece of art, even more so because it was done so quickly and informally.  Dad didn’t realize Mr. Olds was a renowned Oklahoma artist until we Googled him after talking about the drawing.  What a cool story.  Dad has lots more stories to tell, and hopefully will share many of them here.

Fred Olds died in 2005.  Here’s an excerpt from his obituary:

Born to Dr. Frederick C. and Rena Olds on April 27, 1916 in Fremont, Ohio, Fred grew up in Warsaw, Indiana. He served as a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps in North Africa and Europe for four years in World War II. He was educated to teach and coach at Ohio Wesleyan University and received his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Columbia University.In 1949 Fred married Flora Anne Conner in Port Washington, New York where he was teaching art and coaching football and track. In 1950 the young couple established a home in Warsaw where Fred taught art and coached in the public schools.

Fred painted every day. His artwork depicted his love of horses, cowboys, Indians and the West. Achieving success in art shows in the Midwest and Southwest, he moved his family to Wynnewood where he fell in love with Oklahoma when he taught Oklahoma History and art in the Wynnewood public schools. He taught art in the Yukon public schools. The family moved to Weatherford where Fred taught various art classes to student-teachers at Southwestern State (College) University to teach art. He helped to set up the College Rodeo program. Fred was a foundation breeder of Longhorn Cattle and won four national championships with his Appaloosa horses.

In 1972 the family moved to Edmond then Guthrie where Fred was engaged to rehabilitate the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library. He served as director there for fourteen years and his paintings and sculptures are exhibited worldwide, in museums, churches, universities, on public grounds and in private collections of neighbors, statesmen and celebrities. He painted more than one hundred pictures of the Oklahoma Land Runs. In 1996 his “Horses from the Sea” was unveiled in the Red Earth Indian Center. Fred wrote poems describing most of his paintings and in 1999 he earned the Westerners International Poet’s Award for his volume, “A Drop in the Bucket.”


If you’re interested in learning more about Fred Olds, check out this article about him from 1957 (it is warm, wry and amusing), or this one from 2013.

My Funny Valentine

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Happy Valentine’s Day! My “gift” to you is a reminder and a few versions of the wonderful classic from the American jazz songbook, My Funny Valentine. I just love this song by Rodgers and Hart, and it has been recorded beautifully by so many marvelous singers.

One of my favorites is the Frank Sinatra version from his first album with Nelson Riddle.

Another of my favorites is Chet Baker’s haunting rendition.  This one is in the Library of Congress National Registry of Recordings for its cultural heritage and historical significance.

And let’s wrap it up with another classic version by Ella Fitzgerald, with an intro not included in the others.

In talking with my son who is majoring in Jazz Composition and plays a mean piano, he suggested that any post such as this should definitely include the performance by Bill Evans and Ray Hall.  It’s a lovely instrumental that really does the tune justice.

Lyrics

My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable
Yet, you’re my favourite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don’t change your hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine, stay
Each day is Valentines day

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don’t change your hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine, stay
Each day is Valentines day

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Happy Valentine’s Day, to my own special valentine, and everyone out there.  Love of all kinds is a beautiful thing to celebrate.

Valentine’s Day Truffles á L’Orange

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I posted earlier about a variation on a theme from a wonderful – and simple – recipe for chocolate truffles.  The earlier variation was Peanut Butter Frangelico Truffles.

Truth be told, I made a lot of truffles today.  Three batches, actually.  I had a big ol’ truffle party in the kitchen, with chocolate dripping everywhere and smudged on my cheeks, too.  In addition to the peanut butter richness I posted earlier, I made the recipe exactly as written by The Irreverent Kitchen, and then an á l’orange version to utilize some of our 2016 citrus crop.

We are in truffle high cotton here at Glover Gardens.

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The peanut butter version, coated in dipping chocolate and displayed on a plate where I used a dry erase marker to leave the Grill-Meister a message with is Valentine’s treats

To make the Truffles á L’Orange, follow the simple and wonderful recipe from The Irreverent Kitchen, using Cointreau where it calls for a liqueur, and adding 1 tsp. of grated orange zest.  Then roll them in either cocoa or powdered sugar.  Of all the variations I created today, these had the most sophisticated taste.

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With three different chocolate bases and lots of finishes, these truffles all had a few things in common:  love, richness and exquisite taste

References

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook