Here For Me & You & the Guacamole

"whole" foods guacamole

“whole” foods guacamole

This week marks one year since I started this blog. I have to wonder how I ever got to this place spilling my private life and innermost thoughts. It’s unlike me to share in this way. To grieve and to mourn so openly not only with friends, but with complete strangers. Why am I here? This blogging thing is hard work. It’s not only the writing, but the technology, too. Why in the hell am I in this struggle?

my sweet William

my sweet William

My very first blog post http://goodgriefcook.com/2013/10/21/following-in-his-light-with-cookies brought it all back. In an instant, I remembered. Stepping out of my comfort zone. Following in his light. Being brave in the way he would want me to be brave. Celebrating his life and never forgetting HIS struggles is why I am here.100_1911

The blog started with a chocolate chip cookie recipe spirited with a little Jack Daniels and retrieved from the oven…perfectly baked…in the shape of a heart. Is it a sign from him that this is a good thing cooking, baking and sharing?

Sweet William's Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sweet William’s Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

It is clear that cooking and baking are my coping skills. Right now, it is what I do best and what gets me through the day. One recipe at a time like one foot in front of the other it works for me. Some recipes for my own enjoyment, some for sharing with family and friends and still others to share with complete strangers. Each and every recipe celebrating who I am, where I have been and inspired by those who I love. Every recipe, putting pieces together in hopes of making something new and whole.guacamole

And along with that I hope my story is helping others to grieve or to learn about grief. To dispel some of the myths about this subject that no one ever really wants to discuss. A subject no one ever wants to think about or be a part of it, but then it happens. Eventually it will. And so I am here.

And sharing this “whole” food recipe. Whole foods means fresh and not processed. I think this guacamole is perfect for the upcoming holidays or your favorite tailgate party. Unlike blogging it is super simple to throw together. Enjoy and from the bottom of my heart thanks for hanging out with me this past year.

Pomegranate Guacamole  (just figured out I can type in color here so could not resist)

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted and mashed–chunky or smooth -your choice

juice from 2 fresh limes

1 tablespoon each finely chopped cilantro and red onion (rinse the onion in cold water to remove those nasty sulphur compounds that make us cry)

1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt (more or less to your taste)

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Mix it all together with half the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle the rest on top along with a sprig of cilantro. And I don’t know about you, but I hate double dipping, so pull out those shot glasses (unless of course you are doing shots of Jack Daniels) and fill them with guacamole along with some fresh carrot and jicama sticks..so pretty and festive and wholesome.

 

Surprise-Surprise-Fennel Apple Pie

fennel apple pie

fennel apple pie

Days like today remind me just how much I love my son and how much he was loved by others. Thru his goodness I am constantly blessed. He continues to bring me great joy when I least suspect it.

Ellie & Emily

BFF’s Ellie & Emily

My heart nearly exploded when I saw Emily at the door. It’s been a few years since I have seen her.  A surprise visit along with her dad and a lovely vase of flowers. And William stories. Funny William stories. One, in particular, I had never heard before. Scattegories….scary words that start with G. Oh, my goodness–His answer (an inside joke)…so funny and clever. One could always count on him for a good, spit soda out your nose kind of laugh.

a good laugh with Tyler and Will

a good laugh with BFF’s Tyler and Will

Today was such a gift and I have dear sweet Emily to thank for it. I hope you all have “an Emily” in your life. Pay a surprise visit to someone who can use cheering up. It just might make all the difference in the world.IMG_0412

It comes as no surprise that today’s recipe is just a little off beat. It is kind of what I do best. Take your typical apple pie and give it a bit of a twist with fennel. Fennel and apples are like BFF’s-it works. Try it and be surprised at how delicious this combo is.

Festive Apple-Fennel Pie

Pastry for double crust pie

6 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, then chopped (1 cup), fronds reserved for garnish

½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

pinch of salt

Heat oven 425F. Roll out half of pie dough to fit 9-inch pie plate. In large bowl, toss apples, fennel and cranberries with lemon juice. Mix sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt; sprinkle over apple mixture and gently toss again. Spoon filling into prepared crust. With the tip of your finger moisten the edge of crust with some water. Roll out remaining pie dough. Top pie with second crust wrapping any excess top crust under bottom crust edge pressing to seal. Flute edges. Cut several slits in top crust with the tip of a knife to vent steam. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. During last 15 minutes of baking time cover fluted edge of pie with a crust protector or foil to prevent excessive browning, if needed. Cool before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serves 8.

Good Grief: Lasagna Two Ways

Joyful activities. We need them. Remember what makes you happy and start filling up your bucket. Celebrate you and you celebrate those you have loved and lost. “Good Grief” in the blog title. Whenever you see it, going forward, something joyful will follow including, as always, a most delicious recipe and maybe a bit of a surprise. These are “no more tears” blog posts.

stop & smell the roses

stop & smell the roses

First, the fun surprise. It is a D.I.Y. project perfect for this time of year known as lasagna compost gardening. It is a no-till (aka no back-breaking work) method of turning a sunny grassy area into a new garden. “Lasagna”, in this case, refers to the layering of nitrogen rich green material like grass, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and manure with carbon-rich brown elements like cardboard, dead leaves, straw and newspaper.

first lasagna layer is cardboard on top of grass

first lasagna layer is cardboard on top of grass. It is essential to suppress weed growth. 3 to 4 layers of newspaper can be used in place of cardboard

then apply a 1-inch layer of a green nitrogen rich material like composted manure

then apply a 1-inch layer of a green nitrogen rich material like composted manure

Continue alternating green and brown layers, watering in between, until the pile measures 2 to 3 feet.

6 months later you will be ready to plant your new garden

6 months later you will be ready to plant your new garden in a loamy soil loaded with earthworms

Now for some real lasagna. This is one of my favorite recipes from Epicurious. As always I tend to tweak things according to my taste. For instance, I did not have porcini mushrooms, so I used dried shitakes and I used a large enough skillet to cook all the button mushrooms, zucchini, onion and garlic at once. Make the filling the day before to stream-line the whole process.

wild mushroom lasagne

wild mushroom lasagne

Wild Mushroom Lasagna (from Epicurious.com)

For mushroom filling
3 cups water
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
2 pounds fresh white mushrooms
2 large zucchini (about 1 pound)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons Sherry
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For sauce
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
4 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
eighteen 7- by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne (about 1 pound)
1/2 pound freshly grated mozzarella (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
preparation

Make filling:
In a small saucepan bring water to a boil and remove pan from heat. Stir in porcini. Soak porcini 20 minutes. Lift out porcini, squeezing out excess liquid, and reserve soaking liquid. In a sieve rinse porcini to remove any grit and pat dry. Chop porcini and transfer to a large bowl. Simmer reserved soaking liquid until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Pour liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel into bowl with porcini.

Quarter white mushrooms and in a food processor pulse in 3 batches until finely chopped. Cut zucchini into 1/4-inch dice. Chop onion and mince garlic. In a 12-inch heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon butter over moderate heat until foam subsides and cook one third white mushrooms with 2 tablespoons Sherry, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and they begin to brown. Add mushroom mixture to porcini. Cook remaining mushrooms in 2 batches in butter with remaining Sherry in same manner and add to porcini mixture. In skillet cook zucchini in 1 tablespoon butter until tender and stir into porcini mixture. In skillet cook onion in remaining tablespoon butter, stirring, until softened. Stir in garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir onion into mushroom mixture until combined. Filling may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Make sauce:
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes and whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, mustard, and salt. Remove pan from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper. Sauce may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring sauce to room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish.

Assemble lasagne:
Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in baking dish and cover with 3 pasta sheets, making sure they don’t touch each other. Spread one third filling over pasta sheets in dish and top with 3 more pasta sheets, gently pressing down layers to remove air pockets. Top pasta sheets with one third mozzarella. Continue layering in same manner with sauce, pasta sheets, filling, and mozzarella, ending with mozzarella (dish will be filled to rim). Spread remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with Parmesan. On a foil-lined large baking sheet bake lasagne in middle of oven until bubbling and golden, about 45 minutes. Let lasagne stand 20 minutes. Lasagne may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring lasagne to room temperature and reheat before serving. Serves 6.