Another Earthquake in Haiti …

Another earthquake in Haiti this week brought back memories from 2010 when one of the most devastating natural disasters hit this small country. Within days I was there with my team of grief counselors, responding to the catastrophic death tolls. Over  150 thousand people lost their lives that day and in the following days due to injuries they received.

In honor of those lives and of the survivors whose lives were forever altered, I dedicate this post.

 

We stayed on the grounds of an orphanage near Port au Prince where survivors had gathered after the earthquake destroyed their homes.

After a week of dawn to dusk meetings with grieving persons, we were invited to attend a mass burial. The Haitian director of the orphanage played the trumpet in a local band and was going to play at the burial.

An experience that was poignant with surreal scenes of cardboard coffins, hand-dug graves by shovel welding Nigerian workers, an Orthodox priest, a voodoo witch doctor, and the little ragtag band comprised of locals with primarily handmade musical instruments.

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Portrait of grief.

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Welcome!

An introduction to a new blog that I’m excited to be following and learning from!

The Refined Table

Starting about a month ago, my husband, David and I began a new lifestyle of eating.

As lovers of gluten and all-things dairy, the idea of going on a “diet” was unspeakable. We decided to do some research and came across the French non-diet. The French are known for their rich, healthy food without the added weight usually associated with such foods… heavy cream, butter, cheese, wine and desserts (their desserts however are not as sweet as those found in America). They cut down on their portions, but the main difference to their eating habits, compared to ours? No preservatives. No processed food.

Once we decided to change over to the French way of eating, we moved through our pantry, tossing anything with the words “High Fructose Corn Syrup” and “Monosodium Glutamate”. If we didn’t know what the ingredient list said, into the trash it went.

It was slightly disheartening…

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Whiskey Peach Ice Cream

 

My beautiful daughter and her amazing husband are combining two of their passions in this new food blog!

The Refined Table

We’ve been dreaming of Spring and the idea of walking along the streets with a scoop of ice cream. With our new lifestyle of no preservatives or artificial ingredients, our choice of desserts has dwindled.

We decided to take matters into our own hands and make our own; The lack of an ice cream machine did not stop us–out came the food processor and on turned our imagination!

(Note: I would highly recommend making this a day before if you’re planning on serving to guests)

While I prefer the basic chocolate flavor (recipe below!), David opted for a more creative approach.

Whiskey & Peach. Yum!

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I love dessert. All kinds. But there’s something about ice cream that makes me happy. I am drawn to its simplicity. I am perplexed by the endless supply of constantly growing flavor options.

Rachel Nichols

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The Ice Cream Base:

2 cups Heavy Cream

1…

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Gentle Folds The Heart

Here it is mid-February! So much has already happened in my life in the past 6 weeks of this new year…and the Christmas holiday seems ages ago.

This is typically when cabin-fever strikes the worse. When time seems to drag by and I feel that I’m going to jump out of my own skin if I don’t have some excitement soon.

Travel Materials
research and development for my new travel adventure

But 2018 is starting off so wonderful that I’m {nearly} oblivious to the snow, cold, and gray days. It helps that it has been a mild winter. First of all, I enjoyed a long weekend getaway to Colorado Springs to spend four glorious days with my youngest daughter and her fun husband, over my birthday!Read More »

Memories

I recently was in the area where I spent my honeymoon over 30 years ago. While enjoying the exceptional fall foliage decorating the forests, I decided to explore up an old dirt forest road, which once took me to my summer home on a Forest Service Fire Tower, named Red Plume Lookout.

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Hungry Horse Reservoir with Red Plume Mountain one of those peaks in the background

Although the day was chilly, a bright blue sky reflected in the waters of the reservoir as the sun shone golden on the native grasses and gold-needled Western Larch trees.

As I drove I reflected on that summer so long ago, when as a young woman and newly wed bride, I felt I had life solidly in my hands. Returning home this week, I dug into my photo album from that time, and pulled my ‘childhood’ steamer trunk out to retrieve some of the journals I kept from my time on Red Plume Lookout.

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Photos from the 1970’s photo album.

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3rd Generation Buttermilk Biscuits

When SF Editor Stephanie gave me this months COOK THIS column assignment, and told me the issue was devoted to grandparents and family traditions, I knew exactly which food to feature. My grandmothers’ buttermilk biscuits!

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As I prepared to make the recipe and shoot the photos, I gathered grandma’s 1894 The Housekeeper cookbook, vintage baking props, and all the ingredients. I started taking notes for this article as I progressed through her biscuit recipe. It was only as I was cleaning up while the fragrant aroma of fresh baked bread wafted from the oven that I had the realization of the fact that most of our SF readers are much younger than I, and that their association with grandparents would be of my own mom’s age or even younger. I mean, after all, I’m a grandmother myself!

So I pulled my mom’s 1956 Betty Crocker cookbook off the shelf and also grabbed my 1975 Doubleday cookbook, to compare buttermilk biscuit recipes over the generations.

The most notable difference wasn’t in the ingredients, but in the baking. Since electric ranges weren’t common in most rural areas like my Grandmothers Minnesota farm, until the early 1940’s, the recipes did not use “preheat, bake at 450 degrees” nor even suggest how long the biscuits should bake as cooking with wood was such a variable heat source.Read More »