Strawberry Pie Cheesecake

1/3 cup ground nuts

1/3 cup finely crushed ginger snaps

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 packages (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

3/4 cups sugar

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoons  vanilla

1 cups  sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Position rack in center of over and heat to 350. Butter a spring-form pan.
  2. For crust: Combine nuts, crackers and butter and press into bottom of pan.
  3. For filling: Beat cream cheese in large nixing bowl until smooth, Add eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla and beat thoroughly.
  4. Bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand about 15 minutes.
  5. For topping:

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2  tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Place 1 cup of the largest berries on top of the cheesecake.

In a saucepan, crush the remaining berries, then stir in sugar and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened and clear, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice, remove from heat and cool slightly.

Pour strawberry sauce over berries and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Advertisements

Fresh Shrimp and Clam Chowder

What makes this so good is cooking all the ingredients until just perfectly done and not overcooking, it brings out the natural flavor of each ingredient. It should only take about an hour to cut up all the ingredients, cook and serve!

4 carrots, sliced

½ Walla Walla sweet onion, diced

2 – 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 can minced clams, with broth

Salt, pepper and smoked paprika to taste

12 – 16 ounces fresh shrimp, 40 count approximately, shelled and cut in half.

Green onion tops or parsley

Melt butter in 2 quart sauce pan and saute carrots, onions and potatoes for 10 minutes and stir in flour until well absorbed. Add milk and broth and stir until thickened. Add canned clams and seasonings to taste. Add shrimp and cook about 5 minutes until just firm, do not overcook. Taste and adjust seasonings, if too thick add a little more milk. Serve immediately. Sprinkle bowls with diced green onions or parsley.

The Neighbor

100_5751

Taylor awoke and cautiously looked around the room. It was a small room in a large building and it was quiet and dark with no windows. The only light coming in was from a small skylight. He stood and softly walked to the door and put his ear to it. He could hear faint noises but couldn’t tell what he was listening to.

     ‘How the hell did I get here?’ he thought. ‘What I was I doing?’ Oh yeah I was trying to look in my neighbors back yard because I heard strange noises coming from there. Then everything went blank.

     He looked at the wall and there were pictures of wolves on it. Then he noticed the word ‘Run’ written in what looked like blood. He inspected it closer and decided it looked more like crayon than blood. The pictures were of some lovely wolves, in many different poses, it resembled a group of family portraits only not humans.

    Taylor had never seen any dogs of any kind, wolf or otherwise, at his neighbor’s house but there was a tall fence all around it which is what he was trying to look through when someone must have hit him over the head.

     His neighbor was rangy with long shaggy dark hair but he didn’t look particularly scary. He’d moved in a month ago and never seemed to have any visitors. They had never spoken.

     Taylor slowly turned the door handle and opened it just enough to stick his head out. He could hear what sounded like a television but all he could see was a hallway. He walked out and around the corner and suddenly was in the living room.

     “There you are, how do you feel?” The neighbor was sitting on the couch staring at him. A wolf was lying on the couch next to him and two more were sitting on the floor at his feet.

     “Like someone hit me over the back of the head with a bat.”

     “What did you think would happen when you trespassed on my property and spied on me?”

     “I wanted to find out what the noises I heard were. I was checking to see if everything was alright.”

     “Then why didn’t you just knock on my front door?” His dark eyes narrowed and kind of sneer formed on his lips.

     “I don’t know, I guess I wanted to see if there was really something wrong before I bothered you.”

    “Nice try. I think you are just nosy. I bought a lamb yesterday which wasn’t happy I took it away from its mother. If you had come to the door I would have told you that was what you heard. My name is James. Who are you?”

     “Taylor. I heard the lamb making noise I guess but I don’t know what they sound like. I’m really sorry I bothered you. ”

     “I bet you are. Are you scared?”

     “No, why would I be?”

     “So what do you do Taylor?” He put a lot of emphasis on his name.

     “I’m a writer.”

     “That’s nice. Where’s your wife?”

     “I don’t have one. Where’s yours?” Taylor was annoyed at James line of questioning.

     “Now don’t get mad. I just wondered why no one has come looking for you. You have been out for a few hours.” James stood up and strode up to Taylor and put his hand out as if he were going to be friendly.

     “I’m not your friend. I’m going home now. I won’t press charges since I was trespassing, even if you didn’t have any cause to attack me.” Taylor pushed his arm away and started backing towards the door.

     “Tristan, get the door!” The large silver and black wolf stood up and blocked the exit.

     “What the hell! You can’t stop me from leaving.” Taylor started to panic and his eyes showed fear.

      “We are ready to eat dinner, why don’t you join us?”

        James smiled and Taylor noticed his front teeth were large and his canines looked like   fangs. “No thank you. I have dinner plans. They will come looking for me if I don’t show up.”

     “Don’t lie to me. You don’t have any plans and no one is going to look for you. Relax. You will enjoy dinner. Let me get you ready first.” James walked down the hall and motioned for Taylor to follow. Taylor looked towards the front door and the huge wolf was still standing in front of it.

     “Where are we going?”

     “Back to the family room, the room you were in earlier.” James said and entered the wolf picture room. Taylor followed and noticed one of the other wolves followed them down the hall.

     “Now what? You’re going to kill me?”

     “Of course not! I’m going to turn you into a vampire!”

      James was at Taylor’s neck before he could even move. It felt good when his teeth sunk into his jugular. He heard dying was peaceful and it certainly seemed to be. He woke up lying on the floor just like before. He looked around, the pictures of the wolves were still there but the word ‘Run’ was gone. The door was closed. He got up and opened the door and cautiously walked down the hallway to the living room.

      James was sitting on the couch with a woman, a boy and a wolfish looking dog were sitting at their feet.

     “Hi neighbor! Are you feeling better now?”

     “What happened?”

     “You passed out in our front yard so I brought you in the house. You came to for a minute and said you needed the pills you had in your pocket so I gave you one. You said you needed to sleep a little. You were breathing alright so I let you sleep. My wife said I should have called an ambulance but you seemed fine. We’re having fresh lamb for dinner would you like to stay?”

     James smiled and when Taylor saw his fangs he ran out the door.

Cheesy Egg Benedict Casserole

4 whole English muffins, split in half and lightly toasted

8 poached eggs, poach to just barely desired doneness

8 muffin sized pieces of ham

2 cups cheese sauce:

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1½ cup milk

½ cup cream

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup parmesan cheese

1 ½ cup cheddar, swiss or combination of both

Tablespoon parsley and green onion tops

 

Butter a large casserole dish and toast muffins and place in dish. Make cheese sauce by melting butter, stirring in flour until well mixed and add milk, cream, salt and pepper and stir until thickened. Add cheeses to sauce. Poach eggs your preferred method until almost your preferred doneness. Place ham on muffins and top with eggs. Spread sauce over all and top with parsley and onion. Broil for a couple of minutes to reheat everything and serve.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

4 medium potatoes, any kind, peeled or unpeeled, boiled whole and then diced

4 boiled eggs, boiled and finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons Kalmata Olives, quartered

2 tablespoons Green Olives, quartered

4 whole green onions, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme, whichever you prefer

1 tablespoon hot sauce, any kind you prefer

1 pepper, any kind you prefer, hot or regular, minced

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika

Start eggs and potatoes and mix the rest of the ingredients and let set while cooking and chopping up the eggs and potatoes. Taste the sauce after it sets for about 10 minutes and add more of any of the ingredients you want to taste more. Remove hot eggs and potatoes and chop them and place in bowl. Add sauce and taste. Add more of any ingredient and adjust seasonings and serve warm or cold.

Suicide Isn’t Painless and Probably Not A Choice

Suicide Isn’t Painless And Probably Not A Choice

 

I read John Donne and I like the poem Death Be Not Proud. But what is a proud death exactly? My best friend for almost thirty five years was paralyzed in a motorcycle wreck when he was twenty five. Instead of killing himself he moved heaven and earth to live as much as possible and made it for thirty seven more years to the age of 61. He made sure he had enough pills around to kill himself just in case he got really bad off, he asked me not to tell anyone he had them and asked me if I would help him if he needed it. I said yes but he never used them and quietly went off into that good night without any help. He is my hero and I miss him every day and I would say he had a proud life but not everyone has the same strength.

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

What’s courage? Is it to keep on living when every fiber in your being questions why you are doing it? Or is it being able to let go? Being miserable doesn’t seem like a reason to kill yourself but it sure doesn’t sound like a reason to live either and if you feel like you are already dying then maybe it is.

When you think about it having a person die when they are youngish and not at an age one would naturally hope to live to is a tragedy. When someone dies at an age over what most of us can reasonably hope to achieve, no matter what the reason, it is much easier to accept when the death occurs no matter how it happens. When death comes from random incidents, whether it is a car accident or murder, it feels much more tragic when the same death happens to a young person than a seventy year old person. Think about it, it’s true. When someone who has cancer dies we feel it’s sad, because cancer is unfair but we understand they didn’t want to live in pain and suffering any more. That really isn’t any different that when a person who is suffering from extreme depression or mental problems kills themselves, they are already dying in a way that only they can understand. If they had cancer you would forgive them.

The first friend I had that killed themselves tried to first do it at the age of thirty by stabbing himself hari-kari style and he somehow lived through it. Russell was struck in the mouth with a baseball bat when he was a kid playing little league and it broke off his front teeth. His family was poor and couldn’t afford to fix his teeth. He grew up being teased about his broken teeth and was afraid to smile. He became a drug addict and eventually shook that and got a decent job. Russell was painfully shy and insecure and fifteen years after he stabbed himself in the stomach. Eventually he finally had a good enough job to afford to get his teeth fixed and he came by and showed them to me and told me how much better it made him feel. I was happy for him. A month later he hung himself, he couldn’t shake the feelings of being a worthless person after spending most of his life looking at a man in the mirror with broken teeth. It was too late to fix him.

The next friend that killed himself was a man who had cancer. He had successfully fought it off fifteen years earlier but when it came back he was tired of fighting and couldn’t do it a second time. He came to visit me a few days before to let me know it was his time. He was at peace with his decision and so was I.

The third person I knew that killed himself was a schizophrenic, when he was twenty one and in college he started believing that people were following him and watching him. He ended up moving back home with his parents. Roger told me he knew he was crazy and that he was making his parents miserable. A couple months later he lay down on his stomach on the back of their property and drowned himself in a foot of water.  It was a noble and sad thing as the medication he took never seemed to help him.

Just a few weeks ago a very outgoing and friendly girlfriend of mine hung herself. This was after trying carbon monoxide poisoning a year before and a friend found her and stopped her and six months ago she took a bunch of pills and someone else found her and stopped her. I suspect she was manic depressive but I guess it doesn’t matter, she finally picked a way to kill herself when no one was around to catch her in time. I hope she is finally at peace, whatever that is.

The first suicide I ever had to deal with was when I read that Pete Deuel shot himself. I was a young teenager and I couldn’t understand how a good looking young actor who was successful could be so miserable that he would kill himself. I had never been involved with the world of suicide before this and it totally blew me away. As I got older I grew to understand the fragile nature of life but I still struggle to understand giving it away willingly.

I watched a television show about the band INXS and the suicide of the lead singer by hanging and after I found out that he had a traumatic brain injury that left him without a sense of smell or taste I thought that this would be a rather horrible fate to have. No matter how bad things in my life get I always loved to cook and eat and I am not sure how I would react if that was something I no longer had. No one knows of course what he was thinking in the end.

I don’t understand how someone with a nonfatal debilitating disease would kill themselves because I was born with one of those diseases 57 years ago and still choose life.

Suicide is a synonym for madness and maybe that’s exactly what it is. The people who are suffering from their madness don’t want to be and they are not intentionally trying to hurt you. Forgive them for wanting to leave their suffering and walk towards the light. You know not what they are going through. No one chooses the suffering they go through that leads them to kill themselves.

Walk into the light always and if it grows dark do everything you can to bring the light back.

True Love

He loved me from the minute we met

He promised he would love me forever

And he did until the day he died.

His love was the truest I ever had

He didn’t care if I was happy or sad

He always loved me just the same.

He loved me more than any human

He loved me until the end

He was my dog.