Week at a Glance ( January 1- January 7 )

A week that started on a familiar path
with a crooked line and ended with a burst of snow.
It’s 2022. Much has changed, but much remains the same.
Our hopes for the vaccine have been undermined
by variants that threaten to undo progress.
In spited of being vaccinated and “boostered,”
we’re still masked and approaching routine activities with caution.
But bread is baked, and random acts of creativity elicit smiles of delight.
A candle glows with memories of happy times with family
in the shadow of majestic mountains.
To a writer, even a casual one, a new year is a blank page.
An opportunity to document the passage of time.

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Captured Moments

Pause for a moment.
Roses still bloom
by shuttered cottages,
but their petals fall unnoticed.
Beaches quiet now.
Splash of the surf
and cry of a seagull
the only sounds.
Pumpkins glow on farm stands
and decorate door steps.
Leaves reflect rainbows
on meandering streams.
Whimsical witches dance a farewell
to this magical season

of light and shadow.

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Clinging to Summer

Signs of Fall abound.
Red berries blink from the holly bush,
Mums guard the front door.
Pumpkins predominate at farm stands.
But tenacious petunias sing a different tune.
Not just yet,
they trumpet. Soon, but not just yet.

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Eye of the Beholder

For its grower,
a zucchini deemed bulbous
and well past its peak.
Destined for the compost pile.
She demurred against my choice
when offering zucchini from her garden.
But for me,
this oversized, lumpy,
baseball bat of a squash
all but shouted “zucchini bread!”

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Subtle Signs of Change

Local corn piled high on roadside stands.
Tomatoes so lush they weigh down their stalks.
Basil begging to be gathered to form a perfect triumvirate.
Humidity still rules, coaxing us to spend our days
in the shade of a tree or at water’s edge.
But subtle signs of change lurk just below the surface.
Daylight ends a bit earlier each day.
Acorns litter the deck. A not so subtle reminder
that barefoot days are numbered.
School bells ring out with a beckoning call to arms.
Nature just beginning to prod us from our summer slumber.

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Phone in Hand

simple yet profound
a moment in time captured
memories preserved

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Two Weeks at a Glance

Two weeks in South Carolina.
A vaccinated nod to normal.
Daily beach walks capped by
glorious sunsets over the water.
Filtered sun through moss draped branches.
Rainbow hewed Charleston single houses.
Sweet memory of soaring pelicans,
and the sheer delight of countless plates
of the world’s best oysters.

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Simple Cajun Shrimp

Sometimes I like to include a recipe on this blog simply because we really liked it, and I want to remember to make it again.

This dish requires a pound of shrimp, a medium onion, a red, orange or yellow bell pepper, one or two cloves of garlic, about a half cup of frozen corn, a 15oz. can of chopped tomatoes, and Cajun seasoning.

Sauté the chopped onion and peppers in a little olive oil. Add the minced garlic and corn. Stir for a minute before adding the can of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat to combine and set aside in a bowl.

Wipe out the sauté pan and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the shrimp until pink. Only takes a couple of minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper, and a teaspoon or more of cajun seasoning.

Return the veggies to the pan with the shrimp. Toss to combine. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens things up.

Serve over rice. A sprinkle of parsley adds a touch of freshness.

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Tentative Steps

Buoyed up by faith in the vaccine.
Dipping our toes in the sea of normal.
Indoor restaurant meals.
Weekend away to spend
long anticipated time with family.
Hugs held more closely.
Walks along familiar trails
long out of our home-bound reach.
Eyes wide with wonder at the newness
of all that was once routine.

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Serve at Room Temperature

I’m musing rather than documenting here. It occurs to me that I rarely follow a recipe as written. Baking is different. That’s science and needs to be followed, but a meat or seafood dish, soup or salads are often open to individual technique or substitution.

Case in point. I recently came across a recipe for a dish that included roasted vegetables and Israeli (pearl) couscous. I was reminded of Yotam Ottolenghi’s dictum that dishes that include roasted vegetables and grains were most flavorful served at room temperature, so it seemed like something that would be good as part of a cookout or a buffet.

The directions for the original recipe were fairly complicated. I have a tendency to zero in on the essence of a recipe and simplify the process whenever possible. In this case, I broke it down to the following steps:
1. Follow the directions on the package for a cup of couscous, substituting chicken broth for water. Set aside when done.
2. While the couscous is cooking, slice the top off of a head of garlic, drizzle a bit of olive oil on the exposed cloves and wrap tightly in foil. Put in a 375 degree oven while making the dish. Softening the garlic takes about an hour.
3. Slice a medium to large onion. Sautés it in olive oil until it is caramelized. Set aside.
4. Cut about 8 ounces of cherry tomatoes in halves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast them in the same oven that already houses the garlic. They should soften and start to caramelize in about a half hour. By then, the garlic should also be soft. If not, leave it in a bit longer.
5. Once all ingredients have been prepped and have cooled somewhat, combine the couscous, onions, and tomatoes. Squeeze the softened garlic from the bulb into the dish. You might not want to use the whole bulb if it’s really large, but sweet roasted garlic has lots of uses, so it won’t go to waste.
6. Stir ingredients. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Let flavors meld for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature.
7. Will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, but bring back to room temperature before serving.

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