Snow Fallin’ and Bacon Fryin’

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,”

said the Grill-Meister as he fired up the outdoor burner to cook bacon in 5° weather.

It was also snowing.

We don’t cook bacon inside because our tiny cabin will retain the smell for days. That marvelous aroma that warms your cockles when it’s freshly cooked and ready to eat becomes your worst enemy later, don’t you think? The Grill-Meister was definitely “taking one for the team” when he fried up the bacon on the snowy porch.

The steam from the bacon warmed The Grill-Meister and the whole mountain smelled great; I wondered if the bears would wake up

Simple food tastes really great in the mountains: scrambled eggs with peppers and sausage, bacon and drop biscuits were a New Year’s breakfast fit for royalty.

It’s the little things.

Copyright 2019 Glover Gardens

Time to Wake Up! Ally Ally Oxen Free

On a recent trip business trip to Europe, I was startled awake by the alarm song on my iPad. It was Love Shack by the B-52s – a personal favorite – but not a great way to wake up when you are feeling like a 55-gallon drum full of jet-lagged sludge. Ay-eee!!!

Not me, but pretty accurate!

Must. Pick. Different. Song.

Must. Ease. Into. Wakedness.

So the next night, I remembered to choose a new wake-up tune right as I went to bed. Being lazy – or still jet-lagged – I quickly started scrolling through the default sort of songs by title. I don’t have that much music on my iPad (unlike the 6K+ songs on my computer’s iTunes). I’m not even really sure how the music got onto my iPad, actually. I was in a hurry to pick a song and go to sleep, but none of the first few I scrolled past in the A’s were appropriate for a gentle, jet-lag respectful wakeup.

Africa by Toto? Nope. Too 80s. Might be tempted to make my hair big.

Ain’t Anyone Here for Love (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) by Marilyn Monroe and Rosalyn Russell? Wrong subject matter, although I did consider it briefly, because that scene is set in Paris, and Paris is where I was.

Akobi: First Born S(u)n by Somi? Lovely, but no. I’d be tempted to stay in my hotel room and listen to the album.

All of Me by Tchavolo Schmitt (“gypsy jazz guitarist)? Nope, too upbeat, although Tchavolo is Parisian…I was really tempted but it could be as jarring as Love Shack if I was mid-dream.

All by Myself by Eric Carmen? Too depressing; my limbs would feel numb and I’d never be able to climb out of the jet lag pit.

Ally Ally Oxen Free by The Kingston Trio? Yes, that’s it! I hadn’t heard that song for quite a while, since my days by the water, growing up at my parents’ house, but I knew it would have just the right tone and tempo to get me out of bed, happy to face the day.

Well.

I got more than I bargained for.

Ally Ally Oxen Free was a perfect wake-up song. The sound of it made me happy. It made me thoughtful. It made me get out of bed and walk across the room to replay it and listen again. It woke me up every morning after that on an 11-day, 3-country trip, and stayed in my head for days. I had either forgotten or was too young or distracted to remember that it was a (peaceful) protest song.

Well.

It is incredibly timely. Incredibly.  

Give it a listen; see what you think

Ally Ally Oxen Free (McKuen / Yates)

Time to let the rain fall without the help of man
Time to let the trees grow tall, now, if they only can
Time to let our children, live in a land that’s free
Ally, ally, ally, ally, oxen free
(Ally, ally, ally, ally, oxen free)

Time to blow the smoke away, look at the sky again
Time to let our friends know we’d like to begin again
Time to send a message across the land and sea
Ally, ally, ally, ally, oxen free
(Ally, ally, ally, ally, oxen free)

Strong and weak, mild and meek, no more hide and seek

Time to see the fairness of a children’s game
Time for men to stop and learn to do the same
Time to make our minds up if the world at last will be
Ally, ally, ally, ally, oxen free
(Ally, ally, ally, ally, oxen free)

Well.

This is not a political blog, but one has only to breathe the air in an any major city, read the reports about plastic particles in the ocean to, or look at the violence and anger in every day’s news reports from every country to know that something needs to change. A lot of things.

Ally, ally, ally, ally oxen free.

Time to wake up!

“Time to blow the smoke away, and look at the sky again.” A beautiful, smogless December sky in Jefferson, CO.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

poem: what if every day was new year’s day?

Mindfulness on New Year's in the mountains.

january one
every year

a clarion call
for looking forward
for planning
lists
positive self-talk
and
promises to ourselves

does reflection
~ or regret ~
fuel this temporary
seasonal earnestness?

do we remember
to look back
to look forward?

do we savor today
~ in its beautiful imperfection ~
or overlook it
in our fervor
for tomorrow?

what if every day was new year’s day?

what if reflection on
~ what yesterday was ~
~ what today is ~
~ what tomorrow could be ~
happened every day?

what if every day was new year’s day?

The view from the back deck on New Year’s Day; a world in full color within our reach

© 2018 Glover Gardens

New Year’s Food Traditions From Around the World and a Confession about Black-Eyed Peas

PHOTO BY MARK WEINBERG from Food52 article

In Turkey, some smash pomegranates in the doorways of their homes. As the tradition goes, the number of seeds that fly out predict how much good fortune you’ll have in the coming year.”

By Ella Quitner, in her article 10 New Year’s Food Traditions From Around the World published today by Food52

Sounds good to me, but also a little worrisome: are we behind the 8-ball at Glover Gardens because our pomegranate tree didn’t produce any edible fruit this year??? It was a sorry excuse for a fruit-bearing tree. Maybe next year…

Back to the topic at hand…I’ve always been interested in other folks’ New Year’s food traditions, and grew up with some pretty strong ones. There was a firm protocol in our family: blacked-eyed peas on New Year’s Day were a must for good luck. I have to confess: I don’t really like them and have sometimes just tossed a few into my mouth like aspirin and washed them down with champagne. (I’m not sorry!!!) This may sound ridiculous, but I’ll have a vague, uneasy feeling that things won’t go well throughout the year if I skip the black-eyeds on New Year’s. It’s a thing. In fact, my Dad used to call me every New Year’s to ask if I’d had mine… I miss that.

Photo from Foodzesty blog; I might like black-eyed peas better if I was eating them in a soup like this one that has “a hint of orange juice”

If you read the article above from Food52, you’ll note that I’m not the only one who’s superstitious about luck and New Year’s culinary choices; almost all of the traditional foods from around the world are associated with good fortune.

In Spain, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight to get good luck for each of the coming months…does wine count?

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s is very southern (my Dad was from Sweetwater, TX, so we came by it naturally), and an accompaniment is often cornbread. Now cornbread, I can handle, especially if it’s Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, which I “borrowed” from a friend and posted here last year. So yummy! And in addition to being a traditional “good luck” food, its meaty center makes it a great main dish for a hearty New Year’s brunch (whether or not you have a ‘morning after’ thing going on). Check out the recipe here if you’re looking for an easy winner for New Year’s Day. (And thanks again, Mary!)

Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread might go really, really well with that black-eyed pea soup from the Foodzesty blog…maybe with a side of grapes

Happy New Year! What are your culinary traditions for ringing out the old year and ringing in the new?

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Glover Gardens Christmas 2018 Roundup

Toy soldiers guard Glover Gardens on the outside, while nutcrackers stand watch on the inside (in the window)

Glover Gardens Christmas festivities over the holidays have kept my blogging time to less than zero. That’s fine with me because we had a great time with friends and family, and I didn’t want to spend a moment of it on the computer. Maybe next year I’ll be more organized and set up a bunch of posts ahead of time…maybe. For 2018, this one post is a great big a roundup of our holiday week.

So many cookies, so little time!

There was food! The Girl Who is Always Hungry (our daughter-in-law, married to The Best Eater) brought us 5.5 lbs. of homemade cookies. Can you believe it? That’s her below snapping pics of the bounty she provided.

The cookie-making and decorating effort took The Girl Who is Always Hungry a whole weekend in mid-December and the resulting sweet treasures made many folks happy. Here’s a quick video she took during the process that shows the extent of her holiday baking adventures.

It took all of the her available counter space for The Girl Who is Always Hungry to accomplish her Cookie Extravaganza 2018

There was cooking at Glover Gardens, too, although not much of it was photographed. A huge victory for me was finally getting precise on the family dressing recipe that evolved over years and years (and I do mean years and years) in my family. Folks, it is HARD to precisely document a three-generation family recipe! There’s a back story, but it will have to wait until the 2019 holiday season when I post the recipe. I’m eternally grateful to my Sister-in-Love for helping me out with the recipe documentation, tasting and amount-deciding. That’s her below tearing up the stale bread for the dressing.

My Sister-in-Love was religious about making me document the precise amounts, and turned out to be a great recipe tester, too

Our first big night together for the 2018 Christmas Extravaganza included a baked potato bar with all the regular toppings plus The Grill-Meister’s smoked chicken and pulled pork made by the Musical Millennial in a crock pot. There aren’t any pictures except for the deboning of the smoked chicken. It’s a messy job!

We call this photo – a great piece of art – Chicken Hands

We had multiple multi-generational events, including an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. While the contestants ranged from 19 to early 70s, the panel of judges included two in their late 80s. Oh, what fun it was.

The Grill-Meister brought home the first-place Ugly Christmas Sweater prize! I promise, the judging was impartial, no votes were not counted, and I wasn’t on the election committee! That’s The Grill-Meister below on the right posing in his award-winning Christmas tree sweater/costume with the 2nd place winner, His Grinchiness.

Second and first place, from left to right. There are no words.

The winners posed for photos with their adoring spouses.

All contestants – not much in the way of ugliness!

Millennials had loads of fun taking pics.

All in all, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest is a beautiful thing. And fun!!!

A crazy good time with “ugly” sweaters

Traditional Christmas Eve happenings were a plethora of appetizers and our big stocking reveal, hosted by the Grill-Meister’s parents, transplants from Washington State who now live just 3 minutes away. Mom-in-law is actually from Germany, which influences their Christmas Eve menu. There is always a variety of imported meats and cheeses and potato salad, which I learned was a German / Eastern European thing.

The stockings before they were transported for Christmas Eve

Christmas Day brought a gaggle of gifts, more cooking and more eating.

A big pile of gifts for a baker’s dozen of peeps

Food-wise, here was a very safely-done, very successfully-done deep-fried turkey. The method is great, the turkey was moist, and next year’s holiday posts will tell you EXACTLY how The Grill-Meister and The Best Eater did it.

There was also the ubiquitous green bean casserole, made by my niece. I’m a self-admitted food snob and won’t make something from the back of a can, although not so much of a snob that I didn’t eat any! She did a great job; I actually liked it. The green bean-to-goo ratio was higher than the standard recipe calls for, and it made a difference.

My niece who made the green bean casserole snapped a pic

There was a lot more food that we didn’t photograph, but my niece got a great shot of her meal. And yes, if you’re wondering, I served Christmas dinner on paper plates – and I’m not sorry! They were festive red and large, and looked great alongside my grandmother’s silver cutlery. The peppermint stick place cards were made by my Aunt-Mom and me just a day after she got out of the hospital after abdominal surgery. She’s a quick healer and a whiz with a glue gun.

All through the week, at these events and others, the biggest gift was love, so much love; many, many special moments and connections between two or more of us…some shared and some private, some in remembrance of those whose stockings will never hang over the mantel again, some in joyful gratitude that we have each other right now.

Wishing you all the continued happiness of the season as we march toward the new year, the Gang from Glover Gardens.

Left to right: The Musical Millennial, me, The Grill-Meister, The Best Eater and The Girl Who is Always Hungry

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Haiku: Amarillo by Night and Morning

Road trip time! Halfway between Glover Gardens and Little House in the Rockies lies the west Texas town of Amarillo. I’ve never done much there but sleep during our overnight stops, but its holiday vibe charmed me from my hotel window on Thursday night, and again in a different way on Friday morning. It was haiku-worthy.

at night all sparkly
Amarillo by morning
was muted by snow

From our hotel window, it looked like downtown Amarillo was ready for a party
Or maybe the party was over, but the lights were still on
But in the morning, from the same hotel window, the same view had a different vibe altogether in the snowy daylight; everything is muted

Same view, different vibe altogether.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

London’s Jekyll and Hyde Park

London’s Hyde Park has multiple personalities, and that’s a good thing.

During the holidays, there’s the excited frenzy of families enjoying Winter Wonderland. It is all that if you’re into that kind of thing – and lots of folks are, let me tell you. Hordes. Masses. Gleeful sticky-faced children clamoring for that next ride on the Ferris wheel or another hot chocolate, serious shoppers searching for treasures at the Christmas Market, ice skaters at every skill level gliding around and around the rink. It’s an experience.

Photo from Visit London

But Hyde Park is a big, big place. If neon, joyful shrieks of small children and hot dog vendors aren’t your thing, you can ease on over to the other side of the Serpentine and take a quiet walk along its banks.

That’s what I did. 

That’s what the waterfowl did, too. 

There were others, but only a few.

It was lovely.

Those Brits are smart, with their multiple-personality parks. There’s something for everyone, even the birds.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Silver Bells Reminiscing: “It’s Christmas Time in the City”

This photo I took in London last week reminds me of the lyrics of Silver Bells. I could feel the Christmas classic’s rhythm in the busy sidewalks, hustle and bustle, and general air of festivity and expectation as folks hurried on their way in the December dusk of this great city.

Shoppers rush home with their treasures near Hyde Park's Marble Arch and Marble Arch Station.
Shoppers rush home with their treasures near Marble Arch station at Hyde Park.

Silver Bells, by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

Silver bells, silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) hear them ring (ting-a-ling)
Soon it will be Christmas day

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you hear

Silver bells, (silver bells) silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling)
Hear them ring, (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights, even stoplights
Blinkin’ bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch
This is Santa’s big day
And above all this bustle you hear

Silver bells…

And in memory of my Dad, who would probably be listening to this right now while drinking his coffee and reading the paper if he were still with us, here’s the iconic recording of that ubiquitous holiday song by Bing Crosby. Perhaps Dad and Bing are harmonizing on it in heaven.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Bye-Bye Barbie

Barbie waves buh-bye!

We’re doing my 87-year-old mother-in-law a favor by selling a few of her Barbie dolls on eBay.

There are lots and lots of Barbies on eBay, but not many of them have exquisitely hand-crocheted outfits in their wardrobes. My mother-in-law is a genius with the crochet needle.

Look at the detail in that gorgeous petticoat!

I took pictures for this effort and grew contemplative – it’s a different world than the one in which these Barbies were the gift of choice for little girls.

And that’s a good thing. A thing to celebrate.

Barbie may still be with us, but the automatic “dolls for girls” association is an anachronism. 

Bye-bye, Barbie.

© 2018 Glover Gardens