Monday, May 31, 2010

Guest Blog: Himself "Old Soldier"

This is something Himself wrote a few years back. I thought it was appropriate for Memorial Day.


I feel subdued today... No, thoughtful is more accurate.

Visited an old soldier today--one I hadn't seen since 1979; Command Sergeant Major Luis Esparza. Upon finishing up the SF training in '78, he was my first boss--one I didn't like, and one I set out to make his life miserable. I was SUPPOSED to go to a Special Forces A-Team, but for some reason I got stuck in a staff job at Battalion level...not something a certain Tall-Good-Looking-Hard-as-Steel-Green-Beret was SUPPOSED to be doing! Nope! I was meant for the coveted A-Team.

(All this from a 20 year old kid with one year in the service--me--doing this to a soldier who came into the army in 1949, was the highest rank an enlisted soldier could be, and who had two wars under his belt.)

With this attitude, I set out to do all sorts of little things to mess with him--like put my nearly 600 pounds of barbell weights in front of my clothes storage locker so he couldn't inspect it as Sergeant Majors do. My imagination for such juvenile things had no limits. Myself and my partner-in-crime Brad would get hauled into his office while the rest of the Battalion staff grew hushed, and we would then get our butts chewed--again. He would yell & yell, and end up with an animated, "Now, got OUT of here!!".

Such memories...

But as of late different memories come to mind. I thought back that after each well deserved chewing-out, if my retreating form happened to turnaround to glance back at him, I saw a much softened look about him usually accompanied with a slight smile. Then it hit me--tho I suppose he had full rights to throw me out of his unit, he was somewhat fond of me despite all my youthful arrogance, and perhaps he was remembering another young solder of 1949. And then it hit me...

...he cares.

Caring can go both ways. Thru the old SF soldier list I found out that now70 year old CSM Esparza had a quadruple bypass surgery recently. Tho from North Carolina he had surgery in Nashville and recovering at his daughter's home here in Clarksville. Then a strange thing happened--the Lord whispered in my heart, "Go see him". I thought, "ME?!" Why, he won't even remember me. And if he does, unless senility has set in he will remember what a PITA (pain-in-the-...) I was. But the heart-felt thought wouldn't leave. So I did see him today...and when I walked into his daughter's home, I was greeted with a--"Oh, I remember YOU!"

Didn't know whether to continue into that home or turn around and RUN!

After that? I sat down and visited with a whole new perspective. Here was a man a fraction of his former size and presence--brought on by a number of ailments that age and diabetes can cause. But in this old soldiers eyes I still saw something larger. Something from before.

Now that we were both retired, I suppose that make us equals. But ya know, a part of me still felt young--like I didn't know anything compared to this man who has been thru so much. 3 hours later we were still trading pictures and stories and memories and, And when I left this time? I got a different type of send-off...

..."Come back again sometime..."

That meant the world to me. And I will.


PS--The A-Teams came later--after some much needed lessons and growing up of a certain young soldier. Once again, in God's perfect timing, He put me where I needed to be. Maybe for both of us...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Before and After: Office Bookshelves

Thought I’d show off my shelves I made over. These are the ones I did back in March when I was working on my books.

They started off at basic black metal shelves that came from the old hospital here in Clarksville. When the new hospital was built what wasn’t taken over was donated to the Habatate for Humanity ‘ReStore’ shop. (I love that place!)

To start I sprayed two coats of Rustoleum metal primer. I think that first coat looked pretty cool… I’m going to remember that look for a later project!

Then came three coats of Vespar paint from Lowes. I took time to let each cure up before putting on the next coat.

Here’s the finished shelves; in my office and loaded up. I even have space to work with!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bonsai Class - Kabudachi Maple

At the bonsai show last month I took a class in the kabudachi (clump) style. We used maples there were from seeds brought back from Japan many years ago and is a somewhat rare variety in the US. I was surprised at how easy with was to do!

We started off by selecting our trees to use, they were seedlings of various sizes. Each person picked whatever ones they wanted - in an odd number. I picked out seven.

This is what we were going to recreate.

Our teacher Bjorn has apprenticed in Japan under a bonsai Master. The guy is GOOD!

This is how the base has connected into one tree over time.

You work the dirt out of the roots of you little trees and cut back any heavy or excess ones. After that, you arrange them roughly in the form you would like. Usually smaller ones circling a larger seedling tho you can have a grouping of similar sized trees also.

Then you wire it together. In a fairly short amount of time it will grow together and become one tree. How cool is that!? Then you have to wire each tree and gently bend it into the shape you desire.

My tree at the end of the session…

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Herbs - A Dilly of a Lunch

Herbal classes have started again at Diann’s Greenhouse and my first one of the season was a luncheon class featuring ‘dill’. Every dish – from appetizer to dessert – used dill. We had Herb Dip, Cucumbers in Dill Cream, Herb Soup, Herbed Salmon with Asparagus, Dilled Garlic Bread, Dilled Celery-Asian Pear-and Nut Salad, Dilled Lima Beans with Pimiento, and Lemon-Dill-and Pistachio Sharing Cookie.

Here’s some photos of the class and a recipe for you to enjoy.

Diann and her well prepped kitchen.

Add caption

Herb Dip.

Herb Soup.

Students preparing their salmon.

Loaded with herbs.

Or more subtle.

Getting the salad ready.

Dilled Celery, Asian Pear and Nut Salad.

Cucumbers in Dilled Cream.

Dilled Lima Beans with Pimiento.

Dilled Garlic Bread.

A beautiful tablescape.

Even the centerpiece was made from herbs.

Enjoying the meal we prepared.


1 ½ Tablespoons sherry or Champagne vinegar

2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced savory

2 cups thinly sliced celery

¼ cup coarsely chopped dill weed

1 medium unpeeled Asian pear or Bosc pear – cored and cut into thick matchsticks

½ cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts, cashews, or nuts of your choice

Whisk together the vinegar and mustard in a small mixing bowl. Whisk rapidly as you pour in the oil in a slow stream. Just before you serve, toss the savory, celery, and dill with the dressing in a large mixing bowl, and then gently toss in the pear and nuts. Mound the salad on individual plates and serve.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Blog, New Adventures

My old blog site suddenly "filled" up and I wasn't being allowed to post any more photos. Well, I can't blog without my photos!
So I've set up another account and will continue from here on June 1st. The old blog will not be taken down.

Lunch with the Ladies

For years I have been a member of the Ag Extension service “Extension Homemakers” groups. For many years I was involved with the one on my TN county but dropped after the extension agent in charge of it started turning it into her own political and spiritual forum (we were actually told that it wasn’t good enough to be a homemaker – we must also be part of the county’s political fabric. And we received lessons on ‘reaching the “goddess” within us’. Wow!). Anyway, I dropped out of my club. It was a bitter decision because in the past there had been great classes and I’d even been named “Young Homemaker of the Year”.

After not being involved for quite a few years my friend Kathy invited me to her KY Homemaker club. Seems there are quite a few from Clarksville who have started coming to KY clubs where being a homemaker is still a great thing. So about 4 years ago I joined her group – Country Pals.

Each month we have a lesson that relates to being a homemaker. It might be on cooking, saving energy, health issues, KY or US history, a craft, home maintenance and so on. Club members take turns presenting the lessons (there is a training session the month before).

May was my turn. The subject was culinary herbs.

Alrighty then!

I had 14 ladies make the journey from KY to my house. They brought a monsoon with them!

I had a blast teaching them. The lesson plans supplied by the extension office are really good and I added in my experience with growing and using herbs.

I brought in a selection of my herbs to accompany the lesson.
With herbs, it’s so much better to be able to see and smell “basil” than to just be told about it.

Then I fixed a lunch for everyone that used herbs in every dish except dessert. The menu was:

Caprese Salad (Basil)
Sample of Carrot Ginger soup
Pork loin roast with Herbs de Provence (Lavender, thyme, basil, bay)
Corn with dill
Minted peas
…and three types of bread: Rosemary bread, French bread toasted with garlic, basil and sundried tomatoes, and a plain French bread with olive oil and rosemary & parmesan.

Dessert was an Angel food cake (bought at an Amish bakery) with tangerine glaze.

Himself was my sous chef, dish washer, and photographer. I really don’t think I could have done it without him!

And we sent the ladies home with a small gift of an herb plant for their gardens.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Good Eats: The Anvil in Ste. Genevieve, MO

On our way home from our Missouri trip, Himself asked me where I wanted to stop for lunch. That didn’t take much thinking… as we were only a few miles from the Ste. Genevieve exit. I quickly said I wanted to lunch at “The Anvil”.

As a very small child, my family lived a couple years in Ste. Gen. It was then that our family acquired the taste for a food of local tradition – German Liver Kniffles (Dumplings).

Yes… liver.

At least two restaurants (The Anvil and The Old Brick) have them on their menu. I’ve heard one of the local owned grocery stores has them in the frozen section (I’ll have to check that out some time!). You’ll see them at every social and church picnic. You love them or you hate them.

And I love them! As a child I would beg Mom to make the labor intensive dumplings for special events like my birthday meal. As a teenager I was known to drive down to get some for myself. As an adult, I’ve made them a couple times… and would much rather go to my now favorite restaurant “The Anvil” and order them. They are a side item. I order 4 sides and a side of green beans. Plus one of their fresh homemade desserts.

What’s the German version of “Bon Appetite”?

This trip had a surprise for us. We parked in front of the restaurant – scored a place right near the door. I glanced up and noticed a group of older (than me) ladies laughing and talking on the benches by the entrance. As I open the truck door I was looking down for my purse.

And I froze. Who’s voice? I know that voice! I was already grinning as I looked up and watched my aunt telling a story to her girlfriends. So caught up in the telling of it, she didn’t even notice me. I got out and stood at the curb looking at her for a bit. Don’t think she even took a breath. So I interjected into the conversation with “Don’t believe a word that woman says!”

About eight heads whipped up in shock…Aunt Mary’s being one of them. Next thing she is laughing and slapping her leg (so much like my great grandma), then jumps up to hug me. When she finished laughing she introduced me to her friends (and Himself when he came around). They had just finished their meal and were heading out. We visited a bit and we went in for our meal.

Figure the odds of meeting up 25-ish miles from her home and where my parents live as we headed back to Tennessee!

Oh…Himself had the grilled pork loin for lunch…

Teri and her Aunt Mary in front of "The Anvil".

The decor is very simple. The exposed brick wall dates back at least two forevers.

German Liver Kniffles in all their delicious glory! Jump back... it's lunch time!

Liver Dumplings “Recipes of Old Ste. Genevieve”


• 1 lb. liver

• 1 medium onion, chopped fine

• 3 cups flour

• ½ cup ground pork (I use a thawed brat or two, with skins removed)

• 1 Tbs. chopped parsley

• 1 tsp. chopped basil

• 3 eggs

• 1 cup milk

• salt/pepper to taste


• Grind liver (This may be done in a food processor – this will happen quickly!)

• mix with chopped onion and ground pork.

• Add the flour and eggs, along with the parsley, basil, salt/pepper, and milk to make a stiff batter.

• Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water – add a Tbs of oil to keep dumplings from sticking – turn heat down so that water is barely simmering.

• Put some of the batter on a flat plate, and scrape with a spoon 1 Tbs. amounts into the simmering water.

• When dumplings rise to the surface, they are ready to be removed and drained (about 12-15 minutes).

• Heat 2-3 Tbs of butter over medium heat and gently sauté the dumplings in the butter for about 4-5 minutes.

• Serve drizzled with the remaining pan butter and some chopped parsley sprinkled over them.

Liver Dumplings are very versatile – they are often served with sauerkraut or in either beef or chicken stock as a soup – or you may like them best with a “gravy” of onions and bacon, gently sautéed together and served over the dumplings on noodles. Whatever way you choose to serve them, I think you’ll be surprised at how good they are.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Salud! at Whole Foods - Greek Mezes

You know how I enjoy cooking classes. Himself is a pretty good cook too and enjoys hearing about my classes. So I signed us up for a couple class at Whole Foods.

The class taught the preparation of Greek “mezes” – finger foods. Very similar to Spanish tapas. As you’ve probably figured out by now (since this is my third Greek foods class!) we are very fond of this cuisine.

We did 8 dishes – Manitaria Yemista (Stuffed Mushrooms), Lakerda Politili (Marinated Ahi Tuna with Olive Oil), Favakeftedes Me Kapari Yakhni (Lentil Rissoles with Caper & Tomato Sauce), Eggplant spread, Khaloumi Cheese with Olive Oil, Keftedakia (Small Meatballs), Spanakotiropota (Spinach & Cheese Pie), Loukoumades (Honey Doughnuts).

The recipes were pretty straight-forward, though one gave Himself pause… the marinated tuna was a ceviche (raw ‘cooked’ using the acid of citrus). ‘Cooked’ is a loose term, as it still has the look and texture of raw. I, who likes sashimi, looked forward to trying it. Ahi is one of the raw sushi I like. Himself however, was not so eager. Gotta give him credit though. When it was served up, he ate his portion.

It was on the night of the start of rain that flooded Nashville. There’s usually about 5 ‘helpers’ working with the instructor… that night, only 2 could make it in and one of them left a house that was close to being flooded. He said he’d rather be out having fun than sitting at home being miserable since there was nothing he could do about it. (From the phone pics he showed us and knowing how bad it got, I just know his house was lost.) Because there were fewer assistants, we all pitched in and did the things that needed to be done. It was one of the more fun classes I’ve taken, as everyone was interacting and talking more.

Each couple did a different recipe and we all floated around to take a look at what the others were preparing.

Here are a few photos from the evening and one of the recipes (it’s the one we put together).

Busy in the kitchen.

Khaloumi Cheese with Olive Oil

Me plating the Khaloumi.

Preparing the mushrooms for stuffing.

Ready to go in the oven.

Stuffed Mushrooms.

Eggplant Spread

The Ahi marinating in lemon juice.

The Ahi after it has been flattened.

Sauteing the meatballs.

Himself helping to mash the lentils.

Each person fried some of the doughnuts.

Instructor Merijoy taking one of the spanakotiropota out of the oven.


Doughnuts just starting to cook.

Hot and yummy!

Glazing the doughnuts.


½ pound Khaloumi (or Halloumi) cheese, cut into ½ inch strips long ways

2 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (chopped/torn to small fingernail size pieces)

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (preferably Greek – which is stronger in flavor than Italian or Australian), plus more for serving

1 lemon, halved

Pita bread, warmed and sliced into strips.

Arrange pita on serving tray so it’s ready for the cheese.

Brush cheese with olive oil and place onto a medium hot coated sauté pan for 2 minutes on each side OR until lightly browned. (Don’t have too hot or will brown before getting ‘melty’.) Do only about 4-6 strips at a time because it can quickly get away from you.

Transfer hot, browned cheese onto pitas. Sprinkle with oregano, lemon juice and a bit of additional olive oil.

Enjoy while still hot!