Five Signs that Winter is Drawing to a Close

Despite the ice and snow in the Chicago area this week and the blizzard on the East Coast, there are signs that winter is drawing to a close.

The days are noticeably longer. On Sunday, the sun rose at 6:52 a.m. and set at 5:18 p.m. We’ll gain another 15 minutes of daylight just in the next week.

Daffodil shootsDaffodil shoots are peeking above ground next to my house on the sheltered east side.

Lilac buds




Buds are swelling on my lilacs and other shrubs.

Birds were singing when I walked into work last Friday.

And I saw people playing tennis outside on Saturday.

It’s been a mild winter here, but I’m looking forward to and watching for more signs of spring!


Raw Vegan Christmas Dinner

Raw Christmas dinner 2010

My first raw Christmas dinner turned out well:

  • Grated carrot salad on baby spinach
    Very simple: grated carrots with salt, pepper, minced parsley, 1 tsp olive oil, and lemon juice. This is one of my favorite salads, and it also works well in a wrap.
  • Marinated portobello mushrooms
  • Mashed cauliflower/parsnips
  • Carmelized onion mushroom gravy
  • Fresh cranberry/orange relish with shallots and thyme
  • Pumpkin cheesecake topped with dried cranberries and walnuts moistened with maple syrup


Remembering Katie

Remembering Katie Wherley, a family friend and my long-time hairdresser. She passed away on Sunday afternoon, June 13, 2010, following a brave fight against leukemia. My sympathies to her loving family, friends, and clients.


Lilies of the Valley

The lilies of the valley are in bloom on this Mother’s Day. My mother planted the original twelve pips more than fifty years ago. Now they’ve spread across the entire north side of the house.


Spring Arrives–Snowdrops and Thunder

SnowdropsEven the longest winter ends. The first flowers (snowdrops) bloomed in my garden in the Chicago suburbs on March 11. And at night, the first thunderstorm of the season!


Calico Beans and More

At a recent family gathering, my sister, sister-in-law, and I got to talking about calico beans, which was a popular casserole dish when we were growing up. After finding my grandmother’s recipe, I was inspired to try a vegetarian variation. Quite good! It makes nearly two quarts, so I froze part of it.

I also made

  • Sweet potato/broccoli salad with peanut butter/lemon dressing
    This is a variation of Robin Robertson’s recipe from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. I substitute dried cranberries for the pomegranate seeds, skip the peanut garnish, and reduce the oil in the dressing to one tablespoon. Instead of oil, I thin the dressing with some sherry that I use for preserving my fresh ginger root. This is one of my favorite salads.
  • Oranges with dried figs, dried cranberries, coconut, and walnuts
    Also from 1,000 Vegan Recipes
  • Waldorf salad with apple, lots of celery, fresh tarragon, toasted walnuts, and a Greek yogurt/mayonnaise dressing
    This is a variation of the salad in Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day. I make this often, usually with tofu mayonnaise.
  • Roasted vegetables (carrots, parsnips, red onion, red bell pepper, cauliflower, and shitake mushrooms)
  • Steel-cut oatmeal
    This reheats beautifully in the microwave, so I make a full batch and have enough for several breakfasts.


Herring and Hillbilly Hummus for the New Year

I’m celebrating the New Year with creamed herring (traditional) and Hillbilly Hummus (new to me).

The herring was for tonight (New Year’s Eve). I served it with boiled Yukon Gold potatoes and pan-roasted broccoli with garlic. Simple, but tasty.

I’ll have the Hillbilly Hummus on New Year’s Day. It’s a spread of black-eyed peas, peanut butter, garlic, sage, and cider vinegar. The recipe is from Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian, one of my favorite cookbooks. Everything I’ve made from it has been delicious.

More cooking planned for tomorrow, along with plenty of work at the computer.


On Christmas Remembered

On this joyous yet bittersweet holiday, I remember those who have passed on so close to Christmas.

Gladys Dabbert, family friend

Gladys Dabbert, Family Friend

Fred H. Kammeyer, Maternal Grandfather

Fred H. Kammeyer, Maternal Grandfather

Erwin Plass, Father

Erwin Plass, Father

Julie Blackwell, librarian and colleague

Julie Blackwell, Librarian and Colleague

Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave; Jesus Christ was born to save!

Let’s join their unending hymn from here on earth!

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Thanksgiving Holiday

The Thanksgiving holiday included glorious weather on Friday and Saturday, bookended by two dreary, rainy days on Thursday and Sunday (including a surprise hailstorm on Sunday morning!).

I’m grateful to have spent Thanksgiving with family, both those present in body and those present in spirit and in memory.


Last Rose of 2009

Iceberg rose The last rose of 2009. Appropriately, the variety is called Iceberg, and it almost always has its last bloom in November.