About Lisa

Mom, wife, retired physician assistant and multi award winning home cook including Food Network CHOPPED CHAMPION

Story Telling

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No doubt I have been an inconsistent blogger in the last month or two. I went from posting once every Sunday for a few years to taking quite a few Sundays off. I am not sure what it means except to say that I don’t have much to write about grief these days. Maybe I am at that point in my life when I have little to contribute to the conversation…like I have shared all I can and don’t have much else. For those who are new to their grief you won’t understand what I am saying, but some day you will and that is a good thing.

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The truth is that grief has a beginning, but no end. We transition from one place to another, adjust, learn to live with it, but it’s always there. No getting over it in 6 months, a year or two, but embracing it and accepting that we loved someone so much that we are willing to keep the pain alive in order to keep them fresh in our minds. It’s a tough gig, but it would be way worse to forget.

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Let’s talk about them and remember them always. Tell another story about him or her. “William” stories make me laugh and cringe and usually cry, but it’s his story and your story and I want to know. I want to know. So grateful for this one.

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Hey Mrs. Keys, I just wanted to let you know tonight I was thinking about Will and I also wanted to let you know how thankful I am he was with us Afghanistan. I always knew if something happened to me or a brother of mine Will had the ability to save everyone. I have never met or had a Doc like him. We took a good amount of fire one day slash Ambush on a OP we where staying at helping another company because they where short handed. Your son grab his rifle and ran so fast with nothing on him accept shorts and his rifle and was returning fire before anyone he was barefoot. We said DOC stop but we continued to supreme the enemy and gave them hell but had to tell Will to back off because if we got hot we needed him. I miss him so much he always made me feel if something happen to me he was going to save my life because he was that great. I just thought you should know. Will’s blood was a warrior and I’m thankful I got to meet him and I will see him other side one day. He helped so many freaking people over there and gave me stitches to me knee. Your son was amazing. I will always honor him.”

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~Afghanistan photos by Will Keys

Father’s Day Tales

 

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My dad

It is about 3 weeks ago when I meet Brian, an electrician and father of 4. I am babysitting Annabelle and he is doing some repairs to my daughter’s and son in law’s house. My best guess is that Brian is in his young 30’s. He’s quite professional and quickly explains the electrical issues with the house and how to repair them. He goes about the work to be done.

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Happy Father’s Day, Sam

As he emerges from the basement, work completed, he meets Annabelle who is now awake from a long nap. He instantly greets her with the most endearing tone and smile. It is at this time I ask, “Do you have kids?” His shoulders slump and there is a sudden change in his demeanor, “My son died a year ago.” I instantly recognize the pain in his voice and that grief in his eyes. I understand and I let him know.

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Happy Father’s Day, Bill

 

I take a deep breath and simply ask, “What is your son’s name? “ He brightens for a moment and chats for several minutes about his son before ever revealing he has three more children at home. It’s quite remarkable, this grief thing. It swallows one whole. The most reassuring thing I can muster in the moment is to let this dad know he is not alone. I hope Brian is having a great day with his children.

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Happy Father’s Day to my brothers….you learned well from the greatest generation

It is around the same time, 3 weeks ago, while visiting my sister in-law, I discover an old diary written by my dad during WWll. My sister in law, Evelyn, thought I might like to have it. I never knew the diary existed. I did know, however, my dad was a bomber plane mechanic stationed in England. He never talked about his war experience except to mention that he danced with Miss America when she was on tour with the USO.

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I thought I knew my dad pretty well until I read his diary. It felt like an invasion of privacy, but I gained huge insight into this great man and father. His writings are not only an authentic historical account of the world war in the 1940’s, but quite a fascinating look into his life at age 25.

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In deplorable conditions and constantly under fire his only concern is to repair the planes that have been riddled with bullets to the best of his ability. He is in awe of the brave pilots that fly these “ships” and anguished when he buries one of them. His only fear is not getting back home to his family and fiancée, Edith. My dad was a good soldier who served his country well. No doubt he loved his family, friends and country. My William is his clone.

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Happy Father’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Respect Your ElderBerries

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Retirement? What’s that? I have never been so busy in my life. On any given day I am cooking/baking up a storm, baby-sitting my grand-daughter, tending the garden and traveling here or there. I am not complaining, but here is the thing. While my mind still thinks I am 30, the body knows I am double that number. I get a bit tired a bit quicker, but that is not going to stop me. While I always taught my children to respect their elders I just can’t believe I am that person now. I will do whatever it takes to stay healthy, vibrant and energetic because I have a sweet grand-daughter who is no longer walking, but running. “Wait for Kiki Annabelle”!

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Enter elderberries. Recently, I was gifted some elderberry products from Ann & Rodger Lenhardt of Norm’s Farms. The information on the web site is fascinating. I didn’t know much about elderberries, but in my research learned that Hippocrates (ancient Greek father of medicine) referred to “elders” as his “medicine chest”. High in vitamin C, iron, antioxidants and potassium elderberries outshine all those other “super fruits” that seem to have gotten lots of press lately. Not only are the berries nutritious, but they are delicious and come in a variety of supplements, syrups and jams to boost your immune system and good health.

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I very much enjoyed developing a few recipes with Norm’s Farms products. First up is a very simple appetizer (great for those outdoor deck parties y’all are throwing right now) using the most sweet and savory Elderberry Ginger Pecan Jam. I love the crunch contrast of the pecans mixed in with the fruit. Next Thanksgiving skip the cranberry sauce and serve this jam with your roast turkey. You heard it here first.

Crispy Melted Cheese Cups with Elderberry Ginger Pecan Jam

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1-package (15 count) mini fillo shells

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Norm’s Farms Elderberry Ginger Pecan Jam

Heat oven 350F. Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese and pepper until well blended. Remove shells from all packaging. Fill shells with cheese mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Remove tray from oven and top each with a small spoonful of jam. Return to oven and bake 1 to 2 more minutes or until heated through. Makes 15 small bites.

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The next recipe uses Norm’s Farms Blueberry Elderberry Preserves. While developing a dessert recipe would have been the obvious choice I decided on another savory one. Plus this vinaigrette does double duty as a salad dressing and marinade taking full advantage of all the greens in my garden and the grill. After all, the weather is so fine right now I’m betting you’d rather be outside enjoying yourself rather than stuck in the kitchen.

Blueberry Elderberry Vinaigrette & Marinade

¼ cup Norm’s Farms Blueberry Elderberry Preserves

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce (regular or low-sodium)

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients until well blended. Drizzle over your favorite salad as a vinaigrette or use as a marinade on fresh chicken and/or pork. I like to marinade meat overnight and grill the next day.

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Norm’s Farms products are sold in many stores across the USA and can also be ordered directly from their web site. Click on the link, Norm’s Farms for more great recipes, too. Enjoy.

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elderberries from Norm’s Farm