Monday, July 23, 2012

The Farmer's Market and Sweet Potato Pie

In the last two months, I have discovered what fresh produce should taste like through the downtown Farmer’s Market. (Friday’s from 9am to 2pm).  My favorite fruit, vegetable, cheese and nut stand is the “Intuitive Forager” owned by Kerry Clasby.  She is as terrific as her produce, and if you don’t see what you want there, she’ll happily get it for you.  
I’ve lived in Las Vegas for most of my life, so any produce I’ve consumed has been picked too soon, as not to spoil before coming to market.  The first time I brought home a small basket of $7.00 strawberries from the Forager, my husband, who doesn’t care for strawberries, thought I’d lost my mind.  After he tasted them though, and did not get the usual allergic reaction of a tongue swell, he requested that I go back and get some more.
Also, I’ve discovered Sweet Potatoes.  I’ve never been much of a fan, but the Forager’s taste fresh and sweet and you can feel the beta carotene feeding your cells with each bite.  Serendipitously, I found a recipe of my mom’s for Georgia Sweet Potato Pie.  I offer the recipe here, with healthier alternatives noted next to the original ingredients if you are so inclined.  
2 cups Sweet Potatoes
2 tablespoons butter (I use earth balance natural buttery spread made with olive oil)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs slightly beaten (you can use four egg whites but you won’t get the benefit of vitamins B12, D, A, E and K that are in the yolks)  
Dash salt (I use Himalayan Salt)
3/4 cup of Sugar (or 1/8 - 1/4 cup of Blue Agave or real Maple Syrup.  If your Sweet Potatoes are from a Farmer’s Market, the lower end of the sweetener range is better.)
Combine and beat until ingredients are well blended.  

Then add:
1 large can of Carnation Evaporated Milk (this is really good, but is not low in the calorie department.  You can substitute with 1 1/2 cups of sweetened soy milk or coconut milk)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Beat again.  Note:  Beating the mixture provides a more pudding like texture.  If you’d prefer a denser texture, you can use a potato masher to mix your ingredients.  
Pour into a 9” pastry shell (I prefer a graham cracker crust)
Bake at 375 until filling is firm and a knife inserted in the center comes back clean.  Approximately 35 to 45 minutes.  Serves six.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


While I was on the elliptical machine this morning, sweating puddles and wishing that the wheels wouldn’t creek so badly, my husband was having breakfast and reading the newspaper.  He told me that James Holmes’ killed twelve people, including a six year old child, and injured fifty-eight.   My thoughts turned to the victims who have lost their lives watching a movie, and to the families who are suffering right at this moment because of it.  To what his mom must be going through and blaming herself for.  It’s difficult for sensitive souls like myself to keep time to the music and just go on with life.  I have no way of knowing how horrible this specific tragedy has effected each of their souls, but I do empathize.
My next thought turns to how can I help.  I can’t.  I can’t change what’s happened.  After a few more minutes, I begin to wonder how it could have been prevented.  To say that we need to take away access to guns is like saying that closing all the fast food restaurants will prevent obesity.  If a mind is set on destruction of others and/or self, that mind is going to do what it sets out to do.
I have to believe that somewhere along the line of Holmes’ life, someone had to notice that this guy was more than eccentric.  He did not wake up on Thursday morning suddenly insane, in a room full of booby-traps and ammunition.  Someone noticed something wasn’t right and chose to mind there own business instead of making a phone call to the local authorities.   It’s not about blame, it’s about a person that just might have gotten help long ago if anyone had taken the initiative to notice that his behavior was psychotic.  
We need is to pay attention to what others are doing around us.  We need to get psychiatric counseling, not just pills, not just drugs, to those who can be helped.  For those who are beyond help, we need to be honest and place those folks in an institution for the criminally insane; permanently.
We await the motives behind Holme’s actions, because we think that if we know why, then we can figure out a way to protect our children, our families, ourselves.  Or so we’ll hope until the next time innocent children, teenagers, women and men are massacred at the hand of someone who’s mind no longer functions within the confines of a civilized society.
My husband went to work.  I finished my workout forgetting about the squeaking wheels.  So irrelevant in the light of my family not being killed in a movie theater yesterday.   Before we close our eyes to sleep this night, we will pray for the victims and families of the shooting tragedy in Aurora, CO.  For those who attended an event that was supposed to be fun, supposed to be entertainment, but instead, once again, has brought a nation in touch with her biggest fear.  Evil itself.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rest in Peace Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron died, on June 26, 2012, at the age of 71.   We may find out any minute that she left one last book of essays or one last screenplay.  If it’s possible to add humor to illness and death, she’s the artist who would have accomplished it.  I feel like she still had something to say. 
As I read through her list of accomplishments I can’t help but imagine how my obituary might read if I died today.  
Jen started a novel, a teleplay and a stage play.  She wanted to write a screenplay with her husband.  Her computer was filled with roughed out ideas, and a file full of miscellaneous pieces of papers had character sketches on them.  She started a blog with good intentions.  Jen never finished what she started.  The carpeting she ripped from the stairs was never replaced.  Her bedroom was found to be painted in small blocks of color.  Apparently she never decided on one.  
It’s not that she didn’t live; she loved life.  She traveled all over the United States with her best friend, who by sheer gift from God, was also her husband.  She loved people and her family so very much.  Some of the love was not returned, but most was.  She was happy.  She had a bent toward sloth and procrastination.  She didn’t die with regret, not really.  She had it all, almost, but didn’t do everything God put her here to do.
It’s a bittersweet obit.  I want to say I’ll change.  I want to say the time is now, but I’ve said it more than once for many years and for some reason it never sticks.  I believe this.  At 50 it occurs to me that my time on earth is limited.  My mom died young.  Nora Ephron has died young.  I plan to die old, but at best, my life is half over and it went fast.  May my epitaph, read, she finally got it at 50, worked her ass off, and left this world with nothing left to say.