The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: coffee & chocolate (Page 1 of 4)

COVID Clench, Pandemic Hair and Cardamom Braids

In my fantasies of what I’d do first once I was fully vaxxed, getting a haircut was the primo #1 Big Thing.

I’d been gearing up for the Big Leap into an enclosed, hair salon experience during the 2 weeks-after-my-second-jab clearance and figured it’d cross off two ToDos at the same time.

#1 – Getting that haircut!
#2 – Re-entering the world at large in a calculated and precise manner.

However, my teeth had other ideas.

Over the course of those 2 weeks, jaw pain, migraines, searing earaches, and weird teeth nerves asserted themselves to the point of my having to call the dentist for an appointment. Considering my last checkup/cleaning was in 2018, and we’ve since dropped dental insurance, I was a bit miffed.

Long story short, I passed my exam with flying colors. In fact, the dreaded cleaning itself was deftly performed by the dental hygienist with narey a wince on my part. Strange to say, but I had a fantastic experience.

So, what was the source of the pain? If not a rotting tooth, then what?
Something dentists are seeing a lot of lately – teething grinding (or technically, bruxism).

Aha. Makes sense. Only I’m calling it “COVID clench“.

The day after my dental needs upstaged that longed-for haircut, I called for an appointment and got in that very afternoon. I also got out in less than 30 minutes. The strange part was not the actual haircutting, but the torrent of words that flew from my mouth whenever I opened it to say something simple like, ‘please cut it a bit more’. Instead, a tumbling jumbling of words totally out of my control followed in quick succession.

I apologized to the hairstylist and ventured to tell her that I’m usually the lady in the chair who’d rather not chat with the one cutting her hair. But somehow that statement didn’t ring quite true to what was occurring at that moment.

Aha. Makes sense. Re-entry means remembering to use certain social skills.

Laura Bruno Lilly Mother's Day 2021
Luckily, I got that stringy Pandemic hair whacked off in time for my Skype Mother’s Day celebration…

As for those braids…(obviously not of the hair type)…I had a hankering to try out a non-sourdough bread recipe. Like many of you, my kitchen was dubbed The Sourdough Lab during the height of the Pandemic. I’m sick of it. All of it. But have a slew of very cool sourdough this and sourdough that recipes I created and perfected during that season of isolating in place. Someday they’ll see the light of day again, but not right now.

Instead, I treated myself to a non-sourdough bread making experience. Using Cardamom, a spice first introduced to me by my Palestinian sister-friend Hiam back in the early 80s while we were living in the Bay Area.

She used it as the defining ingredient in the making of her fabulous coffee. As a result, I have been enamored with other uses of Cardamom ever since.

Her basic recipe?
A handful of cardamom pods, a handful or two of sugar, a handful or two of whole coffee beans in a pot of water set to boil until it becomes thick.              

I’ve never been able to recreate that luscious and potent brew by myself. She did it best.

I miss you, Hiam.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for my Cardamom Braid Bread.

It makes for a delicate flavored loaf with a good crumb. Tastes good with both sweet and savory meals but I like it best by itself, smothered in butter!

Cardamom Braid Bread

Cardamom Braid Bread

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons 2% milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, cardamom and salt. In a small saucepan, heat 1½ cups milk, butter and honey to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough (dough will be sticky).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Divide each portion into thirds. Shape each into a 14-in. rope. Place 3 ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Brush with remaining milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375° until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Pandemic Potpourri #6

As mentioned before: herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality. In other words, this space is reserved for escaping/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

It’s been awhile since I wrote one of these posts.

t’s been awhile since I’ve posted, period.

I’m tired. I’m worn out. I’m wasted. Yet, excited to be alive.

Sounds paradoxical.

Perhaps the title of this should be renamed, Pandemic Paradox #1.

Just sayin’…


Three weeks ago, while standing in line for over an hour to get my first vax jab, my line-mates and I rejoiced that we ‘got this far’ through the Pandemic. We even fist-bumped as we each left the 15 minute sit area afterwards. I felt like dancing a jig and until the first stirrings of side affects occurred, I did enjoy a bit of rambunctious behavior around the house!

Today marks the day I received my second vax jab. I was delightfully surprised to see one of my first jab line-mates round the corner into the 15 minute sit area after my second jab today. We ‘caught up’ and reconfirmed our thankfulness for having gotten ‘this far’ and not taking anything for granted.

It did my heart good.

As I left, we fist-bumped a final farewell…and took care to resist the urge to hug.


Mama’s got a new bag of beans!
I opened a new bag of beans today.

(for me that refers to the only beans worth opening – coffee)
They are potent.
As if I’d been imbibing decaf these past weeks rather than the real deal.
The beans know.
🙂


While our latest Family photo (shown below) was taken during a not-so-recent ZOOM Thanksgiving in 2020 we continue to stay close.

I am hopeful that we will gather face-to-face during Family Dinner some day, some how in the months to come.

I wish the same for you and those you hold dear.

Thanksgiving Family ZOOM Time
The Fam, ZOOM Thanksgiving 2020 (l-r: new-to-the-family Lindsey & son Joe in Colorado, Hubby Terry in our living room, me in my studio, son-in-law David & daughter Michelle in Michigan)

Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.

Mary Oliver

October’s Almost Over

But before it slips away, I have two things to say...

coffeebean birthstone

#1 – October is my birth month, I hereby claim a dual birthstone – the traditional, beloved opal alongside the lowly, but highly charged coffee bean!

#2 – Boo! From me to you…

…and with a little help from my neighbors.

Family travels MMXX

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening!

We’re back from our jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. In fact, we’ve been there and back since Tuesday*.

But wait – I bet you didn’t even know we were away from our COVID cage nest. Surprise!

After some deliberation, we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing – traveling during a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges and seasonal transitions**.

We packed up the 2003 Jeep Liberty and drove the 14-16 hrs straight through as we always do because we just like to drive. And because we’re all needy about seeing and being with Family.

Armed with my easy-to-reach ‘COVID’ box filled with sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, half can of precious Lysol Spray, all of our cloth masks plus a 5 pack of disposable gloves and the usual travel food box, duffles, pillows, and blanket, we were set to go. In addition, I carefully packed my Bernina, assorted notions, fabric scraps & batting bits and neatly nested all of that in with everything else.

Hubby secretly recorded us getting ready for our photo pose – notice Jude, the quilt eating kitty, sharing the couch with us

Say what? A sewing machine?

Often when we visit, I pack up Maddy to get a hands-on lesson at Elderly Instruments in Lansing with Neil Woodward but that wasn’t an option this time around due to COVID-19. Instead, I was on a sort of rescue mission – to repair as best as possible the three quilts kitty Jude chewed huge holes into since our last visit.

I’m happy to report that two of those quilts are 100% repaired. The third is ready for handstitching. Michelle is eager to begin repairs once I send her the appropriate fabric in sizes larger than I brought with me.

But of course, this trip was more than the sum of its seams…(groan).

Michelle Lilly Solorio, PhD 2020

We had a delayed in-house (pun intended) Family ‘hooding’ ceremony*** celebration, with Michelle gliding down the stairs of their 100 yr old home (there’s the punny connection) in full PhD regalia to the recorded traditional tune of ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.

We shared time around the Family table, spitting opinions (okay, too graphic for sure) between bites of fantastic food.

Took long walks, a Sunday Drive and spent plenty of time just ‘being’…

…Together…


*We drove off Thursday September 24th and returned on Tuesday September 29th

**Timing is indeed everything as both factors have since dramatically shifted.

***Official University ceremony postponed, now cancelled due to COVID-19.

Pandemic Potpourri #4

As mentioned before: herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality. In other words, this space is reserved for escaping/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!


From bloggers I follow:

laura c's purple orange lily

Laura C’s Purple-Orange Lily.

Nature’s melding of my all-time favorite purple color with an injection of an emerging orange-craziness!

Roseanne's tote bag using my African Fabric scrap block

Roseanne’s finished tote bag.

She did a great job incorporating the scrap block I sent her just for fun & friendship into something functional!


From the kitchen:


And then there’s always ice cream – what’s your favorite?

tillamook ice cream

Tillamook Coffee Almond Fudge ice cream.

A huge splurge but really needing a treat in this heat!


He will be the sure foundation for your times.

Isaiah 33:6a


Pandemic Potpourri #1

“I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.”   Andy Murray

Thanks for the inspiration, Andy and welcome all to the first of my new series Pandemic Potpourri. Herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality.
In other words, this space is reserved for escaping Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

Sign newly planted in the grass across the street from where we live:

Margarita's Curbside SignI’ve been dying to do some baking lately – and took advantage of a straggling cooler day to bake up a batch of my “Laura’s Lovelies” *.  I really wanted to share these with the neighbors, but honestly, if anyone gave us something homemade, would I trust their level of COVID Cleanliness enough to eat them? So, hubby and I ate some of them ate too many of them before I froze the remainder of the batch in packets of 3…guess who gets the second helping?

Cookies and Clorox

Cookies and CloroxOn our side of the street (across from that Margarita Curbside Sign) there is a fresh produce stand that also sells Christmas trees starting November 10th each year and then bedding plants starting the end of March. Their new stock of Gerbera Daisies caught my eye and I just couldn’t resist…

Gerbera Daisies newly planted on our front porch:Gerbera Daisies on Front Porch

Wishing all of us a great weekend!

 *Thusly named by Amy-next-door, during a ‘circle’ block party in the old neighborhood ~ Lafayette, CO circa 1988

Friendly Faces, Random Ramblings

Friendly faced buttons

Friendly Faces


How’s this for a cutie patootie picture – friendly faces – to greet you during the reading of my latest post?
Don’t know if anyone else noticed, but the little girl in the video featured in the previous post wore some fun glasses…and don’t ya know, but they reminded me of my ‘new’ glasses.
Say what? Do tell, Laura. (Oh, my goodness, those friendly faces also speak…)
Last October, I went to the eye doctor for a new prescription as it’d been almost 4 years since I’d had my eyes examined. While the frames were still functional, I decided to splurge on a new pair and use the almost 15-year-old ones as spares.
You’re nothing if not frugal, lady.
New Glasses

My new purple-y glasses, October 2019


Too true. But to continue…
Almost immediately my gaze fell upon a purple-y pair that weren’t in-your-face purple, but just the right combo of color, design and shape to give a ‘natural face lift’ to this just turned 65-year-old visage.
Shhhh! Now you gone and done it, everyone knows your age.
i-am-what-i-am-and-thats-all-that-i-am Popeye Quote

…and as Popeye says…


“Piffle!” (as Ma used to say)
And: “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” (as Popeye says)
Okay, we get it, you feel comfortable in your own skin (no matter its state of sag or wrinkle)…can we just move on?
Sure, but for being ‘friendly faces’ you guys do exude a certain air of edginess. Just sayin’…
Scroll up to early November and that’s when I became obsessed with obtaining my “MERRY COFFEE” special edition free cup from Starbucks (even though I can’t stand their coffee!).
Morning Pages 11/7/2019

Morning Pages 11/7/2019

(Morning Pages transcription)
Thursday, November 7th, 2019
~5:45 AM eastern time
11/07/19

I set myself a goal for this morning and achieved it! Starbucks’ limited offer on a special free Red Cup marking the start of their holiday seasonal menu – The cups go fast & soooo – I decided to get there at store opening – Maybe even be 1st in line!

Well.

There was no line…but I got in at opening & was 1st customer of the day @ 5:03:01 AM! HA!
Walked out with a hot choco, cuppa java & lemon pound cake (for TWL) and My Red Cup!

Purple-y glasses, red cups, lemon yellow pound cake…is there a point to all of this?

You betchya, baby faces!

Merry Coffee cup on Christmas Day 2019

Me, my new glasses and my Merry Coffee Cup on the porch, Christmas Day 2019

Ice Cream and Remembering Dad

So, this evening, after a fine dinner of Lemon Baked Spicy Salmon, rice, beets and peppers, I indulged in the last of the Tillamook Coffee Almond Fudge ice cream.

After my second helping – there was just a little bit left in the carton – I thought at first my prolonged craving was induced by the Chardonnay that accompanied the previously mentioned fine dinner.

But a nagging suspicion that there was more to it than that persisted.

Of course.

Today marks the third anniversary of Dad’s passing.

He loved ice cream.

Stories & family jokes abound about his doling out tiny ‘balls’ of the stuff for others while heaping mounds of frozen lusciousness into his own bowl…

Plus, when he was thrust into the role of widower and had nothing much to eat in the house – he always had a freezer full of ice cream. He prided himself in eating his milk in the morning via a bowl of ice cream for breakfast.

I miss you, Dad.

things I like inspired by harry

Harry’s Guest Post ref: here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzTlB-TjAzM

How’s that for an intro to a text-light post?

Already I’m feeling happy…for those of us who derive ‘happy’ vibes from quotes, this one’s for you:

Quote symbolIf chocolate was a sound, it would’ve been Constantine’s voice singing. If singing was a color, it would’ve been the color of that chocolate.

from: ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett

 
So Laura, you may point out, that’s not exactly a list of what you actually like. Well, maybe not, but it leads into liking things that make me happy…right? But for those purists, here’s what I commented on Harry’s Guest Post:

  • I like little boy smells, my baby boy turned daring young man…
  • fun times with my daughter and son-in-law, and
  • a house filled with music.
  • Oh and it goes without saying, ‘the perfect dark roast brew’ and the darkest & smoothest chocolate available to nibble on from time to time.

In these unending tragic times, thanks for prompting us to think on these things, too, L.Marie and Henry.

What are the things you like and/or make you happy? 

PS- can you guess purple makes me happy?!

Sixty Pho’ part one

Got this postcard from our son Joe in the snail mail a few days ago.

Make Pho' Not War

Welcome to the 21st century, Vietnam and Baby Boomers!

 The slogans written on the VW bus are as follows:

  • Make Pho’ Not War
  • Draft Beer, Not boys
  • Peace
  • all we need is peace
  • Love
  • Hoian (Quang Nam Province)
  • War is expensive, Peace is priceless

And the best for last:

  • Vietnam against War (using the V and W in the VW logo)

 
Coming of age during the Vietnam War, the country itself has never held any appeal for me to visit. Dove or Hawk, protester or soldier, the war in Vietnam was complicated. The dread of the draft during wartime isn’t too much understood these days as we have an all-volunteer army which implies a desire to be involved in the military in some form or another during times of war and of peace. Those days, enlisting was an option that meant a guy of draftable age could at least choose a branch of the military in which to serve. Hubby chose the Navy.
As such, while hubby served during the Vietnam War, his assigned job as a naval optical man. He’s very adamant about making the distinction that he’s a Vietnam era Vet, not a Vietnam Veteran in deference to those who did indeed serve their tour of duty in Southeast Asia.
Anyway, I have to admit our son’s month long trip hiking, biking and scootering the entire length of Vietnam starting in the North and ending in the South, opened my eyes to its natural beauty, culture, native coffees & foods, and as a traveler’s destination.
Like many of you, I was first introduced to those fresh Vietnamese Noodle Bowls in the 1990’s and graduated to the more complex flavors of Pho’ in recent years. So now, Joe’s fun postcard entices me further as he wrote on the back –

Move over Pho - here comes Bun Bo Hue!

Move over Pho – here comes Bun Bo Hue!


‘I found a pho-sibling that is equally delicious! Bon Bo has a deeper roast flavor to the broth…other delicious dishes to look out for are Bohn Beo, Bahn Khoai.’
Yum! I’m all in!
Darn – I don’t think those selections are on any menu around here in Florence, SC. I even double checked via google since FloTown has been changing in recent years…to be fair. However, I did find in the google search a single listing of a Vietnamese Restaurant that debuted in 2015 and closed down in the same year.
Just sayin’…I’ll keep a keen eye for these dishes elsewhere.
Meanwhile, as for the use of Pho’ as a word in the blogpost title rather than as the name of a delicious dish – How did you mentally pronounce the word Pho’? Faux or Fuh?
Hint: the correct pronunciation of Pho’ helps one to understand its relationship to the Sixty in the title of this post and will become evident as you continue to read on…next time in part two…

So, how do you pronounce Pho’?

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