Marinara, My Way. It’s Time I Shared This for Fresh Tomatoes!

I sort of follow recipes and yet not at all. I just cannot add certain ingredients that cause concern for me. Why that? Why not this? But, I must admit, I enjoy more of a savory taste than a sweet taste. Gimme some spice in that dish! I can turn down chocolate any day but not a good, hot salsa. I know, crazy.

So, I have been making a marinara sauce for years based on a recipe that I do not quite follow. You see, I love my sauce to be thick and savory. Not a wimpy wet liquid that won’t stick to noodles or gnocchi or spaghetti squash for that matter. My sauce must have gusto and a zing to it….Therefore, folks, you are my lucky friends that will enjoy this easy peasy recipe. Read on!

The peeling the tomatoes part is a hassle as well as the de-seeding part, but it is worth it. The skins can be too tough later and the seeds may add bitterness to your sauce. I don’t take that chance. Besides, seeds can be difficult for those with colon sensitivities so why mess with that. Core, score, blanch and peel those tomatoes, then cut in half and finger out the seeds. Mind you, you don’t have to go batshit crazy and get all of the seeds, just most of them. No one is perfect, right? marinara in pot

It helps on this recipe if you have a real Cuisinart. I have all three sizes: large, medium and small. Large for big batch sauces or soups, medium for garnish sauces, and small for chopping. I even have an extra coffee grinder for chopping herbs. Shoot, what did I just say about batshit crazy? Hah!

PS: you must use quality dried herbs, no substitutions. Get the organic selection at your local store and re-stock every two years. You will never be disappointed. If your dried herbs are so old you don’t remember when you purchased them, toss them! Not even worth cooking with.


3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups chopped sweet yellow onion

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (this is the secret ingredient!)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

5 pounds of fresh roma type tomatoes, cored & bottoms scored

NOTE: if using canned tomatoes off season, use three (3) 28oz cans of crushed organic tomatoes



Core and score the bottom of your tomatoes. Blanch in hot water until the skin lifts – no more than 1 minute – and place in cold water, then peel right away. Cut in half and de-seed as much as you can. Set aside in large bowl. Heat oil in large Dutch oven pot over medium heat. Add onion to pot and cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add next 7 ingredients (to fennel seeds) and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar, cook less than one minute.marinara in jars Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat on a simmer setting for one (1) hour or until sauce thickens. Stir occasionally. Pulse through a food processor to turn into the sauce consistency you desire. Makes 12 cups or 6 pint jars that you will be able to water-bath can. Follow canning recipe for tomato sauce.


Gratitude is My Attitude It Suites Me Just Fine


Adams Gulch, Ketchum Idaho

Everywhere I look lately, I see sunshine and a smile, and not necessarily from you but from the great outdoors. The trees as their leaves flutter in the fall breeze, the golden grasses in the Foothills stand tall as I hike past, billowy white clouds against a powder blue sky. The bright smile of a baby, innocent for the time being, sitting nearby at a local café table. The joy of watching PDA from a couple in love, no matter what age, walking along the greenbelt. Every morning my dog, Zeke, and I either hike the Ussery Trails or power walk the greenbelt on the south side of the Boise Rive trail system. Even though we see and hear the same sights every other day, there is always a new aspect of the view. I’m telling you, there is something going on out there these days!

I have always been grateful that I wake up happy, despite the circumstances. I need that self-boost on some days and when I don’t, maybe someone else does. Recently, I have been looking at things in a different light. Ok, I know it is Fall and the sun is dropping, the leaves are falling and the air is crisper. But I have just realized that everything is different for me when I look with this new set of eyes and ears I have acquired. I don’t know Zeke realizes it but I sure do.

For instance, this mid-summer it was smoky from the local wild fires and one morning after a cool evening, I could actually see the Owyhee Mountains. It was something as simple as that for a “thank you God” moment. This weekend I walked the flat part of Adams Gulch just so I could do more of a walking meditation instead of a run, plus keep an eye out on the dogs (Chewy joined us). I was the only person in that quiet canyon, surrounded by thick green trees as well as the aspen trees that had already dropped their golden leaves. When I called out to one of the dogs, my voice echoed! That brought a smile because I knew I was alone but it was perfectly fine this time. When is the last time you heard your echo? Remember calling out as a kid when you and your friends found just the right place?

I think most of us have watched a video or two of cute kids on the internet. That brought a smile, right? Okay, bring it on! I am choosing to be a kid during the month of October. I am going to play with abandon! I am going to find another echo chamber! I am grateful that I am alive and well and loved.

I wonder if any of my clients read my blog. Just fyi on the kid thing, the only exception will be when my phone rings for business, of course.

#attitude #grief #gratitude #lifelesson




I Almost Had a Pity Party, But I Declined the Invitation

let it strengthen youI have been a bit down in the emotional dumps as of late. It is coming up on the one year mark since my life was turned upside down. So much happened, so much has taken place since then. Eventually life goes on and so does life for everyone else. When that happens, those left behind by sudden death often feel alone and lonely.

I found myself feeling just that in the past few weeks or so. Not so much lonely – I mean, I have amazing friends and the best siblings a girl could possibly appreciate. But that alone feeling began to nag me a bit. Going shopping alone. Eating meals alone. Walking the dog alone. Going to Art in the Park alone. I’m really tired of that alone gig.

What occurred to me is that I have lived alone for most of my adult life. Sure, I had serious relationships with wonderful men, and each breakup was bittersweet. We just grew apart or perhaps it was me, growing faster than they could keep up with. Perhaps it was not meant to be. Thankfully, I am friends to this day with those men who remain a steadfast confidante. It never bothered me until now to be alone. Maybe it’s a turning point and maybe I just want more. It’s time.

This “alone” feeling was just about to take over my life when I chose to decline that invitation, to say no to that mood. Now, believe me, it was not easy. However, I had to get up and get out and get going and get on. I do want more but I also learned – just this weekend – that I need to take it easy and breathe. Well, I knew that but it really sunk in my thick skull. Thank you to a friend who listened to me talk it out.

I have to remind myself that patience is the key. Which is a bit tough for a girl like me. Patience. What a profound lesson to learn but a lesson to strive to live by. It is possible. I decided that for me, this will include more kitchen time. My happy place…. My kitchen time has always been a remarkable healing tool. In my tiny house kitchen, it’s almost amusing at what I can pull off these days!

Stay tuned….I am canning all sorts of things and creating even more from my garden this Fall!

#grief #lifelesson #loneliness #patience

I Can’t Seem to Find My Way Out, No Matter What I Do

This weekend I found myself in the throes of feelings of loneliness of the grieving period. Which leads me to ask myself, how can I possibly even think that I am “alone” when I have so many friends, when I have terrific siblings, when I even have great neighbors? But is being alone the same as being lonely?

Tough question, even tougher answer.  expect nothing

I am just not sure about a number of things right now. It’s as if I entered a tunnel and I can see the light at the end, but the journey seems to be taking its grand ole time. I went back in to my heart, to the time when our parents passed away in 2006, twenty days apart. Yes, 20 days apart.

You see, our parents knew where they were going, so they truly make their end of life journey easy for us. My brothers and sister and I always have been close, but this experience gave us the gift of bonding even closer. I’m not going to sugar coat this, it was painful. And, yet it was so beautiful to be by their side as they let go. I don’t feel as alone as I did nine years ago. I feel so different now, though.

The feeling of loss really hits you when you no longer can pick up the phone to tell them something that you thought about, or something that just happened or something you saw that you know they would have really liked. It’s even harder when you cannot say I love you any longer. I think I am at that place again, not being able to pick up the phone. Not getting a text in the middle of the day. I know I will feel different in time, but what am I going to do until then?

I have decided to get on with that journey but I am going to expect nothing. And yet, appreciate everything. As simple as that.

And, I saying I love you again is not a dream, it is a reality.

#grief #lifelesson #loneliness #loss

Giving and Receiving Compliments, Why Do We Resist? Just Say “Thank You”

I learned long ago after reading Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, about giving a gift each day. Some of my gifts are letting someone go first on to traffic, especially when I am in a hurry. I find that I sometimes need to slow down, so I have to make myself chill. Give that gift. Other gifts are opening doors for someone in to the store or restaurant, saying Yes Sir or Yes Ma’am. (Don’t you agree somehow manners have dropped in our society?) The best gift, well for me and my heart, is to give a true compliment.

If I see a woman wearing something I think is terrific I tell them, “Wow, what a great blouse” or “That top matches your eyes!” You get the picture. I think what is so great about giving compliments is the thank you smile you can receive in return. Wow, some smiles are so broad! And, some smiles are smiles of relief because that person needed the lift. That person may have been lost in thought about a problem and coming out of the train of troubling thought was welcome. I know I have needed the same.

As for guys, I make sure the gal with them gets it. “Wow, you are one lucky lady!” He smiles because he knows the compliment is on his good taste. The only other time you can compliment a guy is on their choice of sports teams. If of course, you are in agreement. Otherwise, let it be.


Photo from Cooking Light, My Recipes- Hey, I am not making the salad until the afternoon!

How are you at receiving compliments? Do you find yourself babbling at a compliment? Gawd, I have! It took some personal work on myself to stop that. Just say, Thank You. Don’t ruin the moment. The other person doesn’t want to know the silly stuff you say in a nervous state. Those jitters can be put to rest by making your response simple. Try it.

So, today I am going to a Labor Day barbecue at a friend’s house. I am making a potato salad but not just any potato salad. Roasted Potato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette will wow the crowd and I will say Thank You and I will give the hostess the recipe in secret. I highly recommend this salad instead of those heavy, mayonnaise laden versions. Light and delicious because of the fresh herbs it called for. But my Thank You gift for the invite to the barbecue will be the pickled peppersjalapenos and sweet peppers I pickled Sunday afternoon.

Do you give Thank You gifts for the dinner host and hostess? If not, why?

I wonder if I should thank Cooking Light for the recipe? Hey, thank you, #CookingLight

#compliments #lifelesson #recipes #thankyou


I Cannot Pinpoint the Exactness of My Sadness, Despite How Well I am Doing

Seriously, I caught myself doing that heavy sigh too much Sunday. Took a beautiful power walk on the greenbelt along the river early. Sigh. Got my act together to show up to church rather than stream the service like I usually do. Sigh. Went to the grocery store to get a few things for a dinner I am cooking tomorrow night. Sigh. I am getting tired of myself. I wonder if my dog, Zeke, is thinking the same.

You all are going to think, well shit, look what you have been through. The point is, that is in the past. Life begins with birth and ends with death and we just don’t get to plan these life events as we would prefer to. Sometimes it is a shock as it was for me with Paul. No matter what, my heart aches more for his daughters than myself. I do miss Paul very much, but I am the one very alive.

I have been thinking, wondering how on earth I am doing so well. I guess I can attribute that to always waking up happy. Heck, why not!? And, I can also attribute my process to my Buddhist practice which has and gives me the tools to carry on. Then, there is God. I know He is there and sending me boosts of atta girl to me. I smile as I write this because I have received some astonishing gifts from Him and the Universe.

So, why am I sad?

Grief is an interesting and at yet annoying process. You sure as heck cannot fast track it, take it from me. I found a card someone must have given me last Fall, and the quote is this: “If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble” – Molière

Yes, indeed. I have learned talking about grief is like medicine. Blogging has been a magnificent outlet to tell those that follow my blog, my friends on Facebook and Twitter, what is going on. We don’t get together but we do stay in touch, 21st Century style.GardenHerbSalt

My other medicine of sorts is cooking. Cooking by myself. I played in my kitchen Sunday afternoon and in to the evening, hoping to calm that inner sad nag. I made my Garden Herb Salt tonight, and then did refrigerator pickles in rice vinegar with red pepper flakes. That did make my house smell better than my mood. Ok, I am laughing now, a much needed chuckle.

They say to talk to others about your grief. Sometimes I wonder it that other person is tired of the story. But, I need to tell you – all of you out there –  that I do need to talk about it and so do others that are grappling with grief. Please do listen. Someday it will be your turn. I will be there for you. You can count on it.

I hope I have not overlooked circumstances or things in my grief process, even the things that have come to haunt me lately.  I suppose sooner or later these things will work themselves out. And yet, I am grateful that I can still laugh.

Thank goodness I wake up happy.

#grief #lifelesson #cooking #happy

The Ladder Fell from Under My Feet, and I Knew I Had to Let Go

No kidding, my Friday last week started out in disaster mode. When Zeke & I walk the greenbelt route, we head over to Veteran’s Memorial State Park and Friday was one of those days. The trails back in the trees along Veteran’s Pond are beautiful, except for the part when I got bit by a huge black ant! It hurt like H E double two sticks and I hobbled for 30 minutes until the pain subsided. Once I returned home, I attempted to finish cleaning the gutters and removing pine needles from the covered patio. However, the ladder had other ideas… As I was pushing a broom to move the needles away from a corner, the ladder teetered away from my feet. I am left hanging on to the patio roof thinking to myself, well, I am going to have to let go.

You should see the bruises on my elbows! I think I need to have extra insurance coverage for being a klutz. All kidding aside, I kept going back to what I thought as I hung on for a brief period of time. I am going to have to let go. Let go.

I have had to let go of so much since Paul died nine months ago. Letting go is a painful process, too. I had to let go of my notion of a wonderful man that loved me as much as I loved him. The best relationship I ever had. A life we had together as well as a life I thought we would have. The loss of those sweet text messages, the phone calls, the slight touch in the middle of the night. The roof over my head was even taken away. Promises made that were never meant to be. I had to let it all go. It is all past tense now, and that is the strangest feeling.

I often wonder how on earth I am functioning as well as I am. I think part of my recovery back to life is being in this tiny house, a space of my own. But the best perk is having a garden and making that tiny kitchen work. When I am in a kitchen, my heart soars! squash dinner cookingTonight I pulled out the spiralizer to make yellow squash noodles. I went to my garden to pull two small red onions and two mini sweet peppers. I just walked out the back door!

I quickly sautéed the onions and peppers in butter and olive oil, then added the noodles. A few quick stirs to cook the squash for about 3 minutes and pulled the pan. I did add a teaspoon of basil pesto I had in the fridge and topped my noodle bowl with asiago cheese. It was magnificent!

My brother, Phil, posted on social media that he is going to eat better and now his meals are in small ice cream bowls. My dinner tonight was in a soup bowl. Phil, does this count for your diet regime?

squash noodles

#cooking #grief #tinyhouse #summergarden