October 30, 2011

A Musical and a Snack

Yesterday a friend and I went to the Walton Arts Center to see West Side Story Broadway Tour and it was worth every penny of the sixty-five dollar ticket. Our seats were on the ninth row, smack dab in the middle of the row. I have to say that we had the best seats in the house.

The lead cast members playing Tony and Maria had beautiful voices and magnetic chemistry. The other cast members wowed the audience with their dancing AND vocal abilities. The sets were very nice and minimal and the costumes were delightful. This version of West Side Story differs from the original in that the Latino parts are played by Latino actors and Spanish is used liberally throughout the show. It really gave a feeling of the cultural differences between the Sharks and the Jets.

If this show comes to your area, please don't hesitate to spend your money!

After the show we decided to have an early dinner and wanted to try something new. There is a little cafe named BHK Kafe in Nightbird Books, a small independent bookstore on Dickson Street that uses local ingredients so we thought we'd give it a shot. When we walked in we had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to order as well as what was offered on the menu. After locating the menu my friend left to "powder her nose" so I place my order of Salad of Local Greens and Pumpkin Tacos along with a glass of merlot. My friend ordered the Soup du Jour, a lentil dal soup with ginger and miso, and Spring Rolls.

I sat at one of the few tables with my glass of merlot and my friend browsed the bookstore while we waited for our meal. Cooking from fresh ingredients requires some time so after awhile our dinner was brought to our table.

My salad was served on a long rectangular plate and consisted of fresh crisp greens with slices of granny apple, cucumber and celery tossed in a lime cilantro dressing. The dressing had just the right amount of tang and the vegetables were nice and crisp. My pumpkin tacos were served on a square plate and consisted of roasted pumpkin sauted with other things and topped with something akin to Curtido, a spicy/tangy cabbage salad. This was placed on miniature corn tortillas. The flavor was complex and very tasty.

My friend's soup was served in a soup cup and was a nice creamy textured lentil soup. The flavor was a bit bland and needed more of something. The spring rolls were served on a square plate and consisted of 2 rolls filled with local greens, herbs, mung bean, cucumber, celery, onion, sesame, carrot, shitake mushrooms and miso. The dipping sauce was a slightly tangy miso sauce. Unfortunately, her meal was just so-so.

We both ordered desserts to go, a chocolate layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and dried apricots, a hazelnut brownie torte with chocolate ganache and a shortbread cookie. The cake was good but the dried apricots were a bit strange. The brownie torte was interesting. The cookie was very dry but had a good flavor.

As we were getting in the car to leave the restaurant my friend said, "Maybe we should have opted for Italian food. I'm still hungry!".

West Side Story: Superb!
BHK Kafe: Worth One Shot But No Return

October 25, 2011


The occupy movement has come to Northwest Arkansas. The most active area is Fayetteville where they (we) are mainly preaching to the choir, but at least something is starting to happen.

I, and my friend Sheila, joined a march a couple of weeks ago and it was great seeing all 330 of us marching with signs, drums, tambourines and other instruments. We chanted things like "Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like" and "We are the 99%". We began with a rally at the town square and ended at the Bank of America across from the University of Arkansas on Dickson Street. The Fayetteville Police Department stopped traffic for us even though that was not supposed to be a part of the plan. We got lots of honks of support from drivers and some pedestrians joined us along the route.

There were young and old alike. There were nurses, teachers, artists, musicians, students, Walmart employees, restaurant workers and all other kinds of people. The one disturbing thing was that the African American and Hispanic American populace was not well represented. I know that Northwest Arkansas has a huge Hispanic population but they did not come.

There are other groups in the making such as Occupy Bentonville that I hope will target corporations like Walmart and Tyson and will bring a better representation of what Northwest Arkansas looks like. I also hope that Occupy Northwest Arkansas doesn't just concentrate on Fayetteville. As I see it, the more people we can incorporate under one umbrella the more impact we will have.

In the mean time, I will continue to support the cause when they (we) march and I hope this movement stays alive. The only way to change things is to participate and democracy demands participation. I urge everyone to at least get involved in the marches. It is so inspiring to be among people who are willing to show their faces and be a part of the changing tide. 

Remember, when you march you are showing what democracy looks like!

August 25, 2011

In Memorium

It's not often that a person gets to know someone as wonderful as Henry Meenen. He was an inspiration to his family and his friends and it is with a sad heart that I have had to say goodbye to such a great man.

I feel blessed that his memory will live on through his ever-growing family and I feel lucky to be included as a partial member through working with both his son Dennis and grandson Kevin. His loving influence can be found in each and every member of his family.

Henry, you are sorely missed.

Auf Wiedersehen grandpa!

July 7, 2011

Achy Breaky Bones

I see that I have posted NOTHING since February! Could it be that I am SO LAZY that I can't even take a moment to keep you posted on my uneventful life?

Too much has happened to get completely caught up but I will tell you of the major occurrence that happened to my good friends Matt and Sheila which affected us all. While carrying a bucket of water (I call it "slops" because it is the water from when they wash dishes and includes vegetable trimmings) down the stairs to their greenhouse, Sheila proceeded to lose her footing and land on the brick floor breaking her ulna (a bone in the arm below the elbow) and patella (kneecap).

NEWS FLASH: It is raining for the first time in weeks!

Back to my story...

Matthew was on the roof at the time of the accident so Sheila lay there thinking "oh, I'm sure I'm just badly bruised and there is no need to bother Matt." and "Matt is gonna be so mad at me!" After about 10 long excruciating minutes she let out a little scream of "Help" and Matt came to her rescue and eased her back into the house. Sheila had surgery that evening (six hours of surgery) and was home four days later with a wheelchair and her left arm and leg in casts with her leg sticking straight out in front of her. The poor woman could not access the bathroom and had to have one of those porta-potty contraptions and wash her hair with water in two bowls on a card table. Oh, and did I happen to mention that it happened only days before her birthday? Talk about depressing!

This happened at the end of April and after a few weeks of physical therapy she is now walking without the aid of a cane, albeit rather slower than normal. I guess when you're a healthy woman in your early sixties you heal pretty fast. She was such a little trooper! I would have been a bitchy, demanding pain in the ass and would still be hobbling around with some kind of support. I suppose Matthew handled it as best as he could but he will never be a good nurse. I think Sheila was right, the whole incident pissed him off big time.  If I ever break a bone I'll be stuck in a nursing home until I heal so I'd best be extra careful.

Lesson learned? Stand up straight, walk with purpose and... watch your step.

February 12, 2011

Same Story, Different Year

While reviewing this blog recently I came across a post from February 2010. It seems that the month of February, excluding that glorious date of the 10th, is my least favorite month. The weather is always nasty and I am either stuck at home due to road conditions or bumming a ride to work from my neighbors. 

Two weeks ago we had a nasty winter storm that included freezing rain, sleet and snow. Then we had sub-zero temperatures and some of my bathroom pipes had frozen. Having frozen pipes is no fun and the threat of bursting pipes had me in a panic. I had done everything right, or so I thought,  by keeping the water flowing in the faucet and keeping the room warm.

Last year my pipes burst in the bathroom and it took a week to get them repaired. The incident happened when there was snow on the ground and finding the meter outside to shut off the water was a major pain. This year the snow was much deeper and trying to find that meter would put me over the edge. As you will see I didn't need to find the meter thanks to my ex.

Much to my chagrin both pipes that had frozen burst within a week of each other. Fortunately, I was able to staunch the gushing water not once, but twice (thanks to something my ex actually did right in plumbing this house by having several shut off valves which I stupidly just discovered). It seems that the toilet pipe (cold water) was the first to burst last week and then the hot water line let loose on my 53rd birthday. Even though I would be spending my birthday alone I had planned a wonderful meal and a night of movie viewing. After the second pipe let loose I proceeded to have a birthday pity party all by myself replete with bouts of sobbing and staring into space. I was actually too depressed to eat (mark that down as a red letter day) and slept on the couch just waiting for another river to start flowing in my piece-of-shit bathroom. 

As Scarlett O'Hara was fond of saying "after all, tomorrow is another day", Saturday February 12th has brought warming, melting sunshine and the ability for me to get in my car and drive to a dinner party in my old neighborhood. I will have to trudge through the snow to acquaint myself with my car again but that is a small price to pay to be with friends who will lift my spirits. 

I am of the belief that nothing else will happen to my plumbing and that my good friends Matt and Sheila will love having me come to their house to bathe until the pipes are repaired. I know that imposing on their lives will have the effect of getting the repairs done sooner rather than later. I sincerely hope that I will not be writing a similar post again next year.

February 2, 2011

Vegetable Stew

Yummy, yum yum. I just love a good stew and this one hit the spot on a cold Sunday evening. 
My mother made the best stew in the world (yes, it was better than your mom's) but it was beef stew and since becoming a vegetarian I have searched in vain for a recipe that filled the bill.
Then, one Sunday, it all came together for me. I had all of the right ingredients and all the right mojo to make a stew that is worthy and as close to mom's as I'll ever get.

What you'll need:
One small onion, diced
Two cloves garlic, minced
One cup of sliced carrots
One cup of sliced celery
Three bay leaves
One russet potato, peeled and diced
A half pound of green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
A half head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
One 32 ounce carton low sodium vegetable broth
One can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
One teaspoon dried basil
A half teaspoon of salt, or to taste
Nine grinds of black pepper

What you'll need to do:
Sauté the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook for about five minutes. Add the potato, green beans, cauliflower, bay leaves and broth and cook until done to your liking. You might need to add a cup of water if it is too thick. Add the cannellini beans and basil and cook until heated. Season with the salt and the pepper.

Spoon it into a bowl and eat. 

October 17, 2010

What's Cookin'?

I have decided to make black bean soup for dinner and instead of just opening cans I'm gonna cook the beans.  I soaked one cup of beans overnight then added salt to the soaking water after reading a blog by a vegan cookbook author this morning.
I then drained the rinse water and added 1/4 whole onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 bay leaves and salt. When the beans are tender, which should take a couple of hours, I will discard the onion, garlic and bay leaves, and there should be about three cups of black beans.
In large soup pot I will sauté the rest of the chopped onion, two chopped cloves of garlic and two cups of sliced carrots.  When those are done, I will add the beans, 1/2 cup of orange juice, one can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles and enough bean broth to make it a soup.  Salt, pepper and cumin will spice up the dish.  I would add a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce if I had it.

What to go with the meal?  How about some real southern cornbread and a cabbage slaw with red bell pepper with Caesar dressing?  Yup, that will definitely fit the bill.  A cheap red wine and Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra ice cream for dessert sounds good to me.

Let me tell you, the aroma in my house is glorious right now.  I love cooking!

Because the beans were so dang good and all of the ingredients so far were organic, I decided to ditch the Rotel tomatoes.  After I discarded the bay leaves, I left the onion because it had basically disintegrated and the one garlic clove I could find I smashed and added to the sauté mix.  I used the juice of 1/2 organic orange (devoured the other half) and then added Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes.  I don't like my soup to be too "soupy" and this turned out to be "da bomb".  Too bad you can't have any.