Recipe of the Month: Parmesan Asparagus

One of the things I love most about this time of year, besides the flowers and the birds and not having to wear a jacket all the time, is that fresh asparagus is actually affordable. When the price drops below $2.00, I start buying two or three bunches at a time and eating it almost every day. It’s one of those vegetables I consider luxury foods, and it fits easily into just about any type of meal. Making a stir-fry? Throw it in. Need a side dish? Roast some up. Quickie pasta? Roast it, stir-fry it, or steam it and toss with noodles for an elegant meal that doesn’t require you to spend all night in the kitchen.
This is my absolute favorite way to eat asparagus, I can comsume a dozen spears before we even sit  down for dinner.
1 bunch asparagus (I like the fatter ones)
…did you know that the fattest asparagus come from the youngest plants?
2 tsp. Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp. Finely shredded parmesan cheese (see note)
Snap the bottoms off of the asparagus, not too much, just the woody tips.  Preheat your broiler to hi broil, and line a flat sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Lay out the asparagus in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Broil close to heat for 4-5 minutes, watch them, they cook fast!  They will start to turn brown and bubble a little, flip them over if you like, but I usually just yank them, I like them al dente.  Sprinke the spears with the cheese and consume!
They can also be made the same way on a gas or charcoal grill, just be careful because they will burn if yo turn your back!
These are also great with a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juce over the tops.
Note:  My favorite kitchen tool is the Microplane grater.  Originally a woodworking tool, this handy tool grates even the hardest Parmesan Reggiano as well as other hard cheeses into fine lacy wisps.

Buddy, Buddy and Buddy (Or the story of Three Golden Retrievers)

When I met James, he was the owner of a Golden Retriever named Buddy.  This was a wise old dog, with dark eyes that when he looked at you, it seemed like he had once been a human.  This dog was huge as far as retrievers go, with a wide, flat back perfect for resting your feet on, and a reddish gold coat. Read More

Don’t miss the moment

-Don’t miss the magic of the moment by focusing on what’s to come.

-No matter how old you get, hug and kiss your Mother every time you greet her.
-Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” Read More

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Do you ever worry that your kids might grow up and spend most of their time making excuses about why they are too busy to visit or to help you when you’re the most in need?

Fortunately, there’s a powerful strategy that kills two birds with one stone. It creates kids who’re more likely to help you when you are old…and it also creates kids who’re more likely to do their chores before you get old.

The next time you see your kids working hard at one of their chores, ask them if they’d like your help. Then give them a hand as long as they continue to work at least as hard as you are. Have fun together!

One of the best ways to get children to more frequently do something you want is to pay attention to them when they’re doing it. When we apply this to chores, we get a nice benefit in the short term…and grown kids who are far more willing to help us out in the long term.
From Love and Logic Institute

Welcome to Holland

I wanted to share with you one of the challenges and blessings we have in our lives.  Our son Noah, whom many of you have met in the café, was born with developmental delays.  It is not something that we talk about very often, we just deal with the issues and love him even more.  He is almost 18 and these teen years are presenting us with a whole new set of challenges, as they do with all parents.  One of our guests shared an essay with me that summed up very well what it is like to have a child with disabilities, and has helped us to accept him in all his individuality even more.  I am going to share it here because it touched me.

Welcome to Holland
c.1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability- to try to help people who have not shared in that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. 
 It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans.  The Coliseum.  The Michelangelo David.  The gondolas in Venice.  You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.  It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.  You pack your bags and off you go.  Several hours later, the plane lands.  The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say.  “What do you mean Holland??  I signed up for Italy!  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I dreamed of going to Italy.”  But there’s been a change in the flight plan.  They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.  The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease.  It’s just a different place. Read More

Recipe of the Month: Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Glaze

This was a huge hit last holiday season, and a nice alternative to the usual cloyingly sweet marshmallow sweet potatoes.
1 ½ cups cubed sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups cubed butternut squash
1 ½ cups cubed parsnip or turnips
1 cup cubed beets
1 cup sliced carrots
4 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
cooking spray
2 tbsp. maple syrup
Preheat oven to 450.
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl  and stir to combine.  Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.  Spread the veggies out on the pan, and bake at 450 for 10 minutes.  Stir in the maple syrup and bake an additional 20 minutes, our until tender, golden and carmelized, stirring after 10 minutes.  Yield:  4-6 servings.