Farmers Market Delight; Swiss Chard

I love living in Michigan for a couple of reasons.  I love the full scope of having four seasons.  The color changes in the fall, the sparkles of fresh white snow, the excitement of spring finally coming after the wonder of winter wears out its welcome, and then there’s summer. We treated the family to an amazing spring break vacation to Jamaica this year. Our son wanted the family to relocate and make this our permanent residence, but our daughter had a pretty good argument against it. She argued, “but where would you go on vacations if you lived here?”  I love her logic. I think that Michiganders can appreciate the summer more. It’s short here and the second reason I love living here is the long summer nights. When friends visit they always marvel, “Wait.  It can’t be 10:00.  It’s still light.”  

Another love of mine is the Farmers Market (really, I am a sucker for any roadside stand).  This weekend I picked up some beautiful Swiss chard and prepared it tonight.  (Check out the link for all of the awesome health bennies). Here’s the recipe:

1 bunch Swiss chard
1 garlic clove 
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup raisins

Wash the Swiss chard very well or it will be sandy.  Cut off the thick stems and discard and then chop the leaves. 
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute
Add the Swiss chard and chicken stock
Season with salt and pepper
Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes
Add the raisins and cook on low until the Swiss chard is very tender

Note: Swiss chard will cook down to about 1/4 it’s original size. 2 cups uncooked will be about 1/2 cup after cooked. 

Just a Minute

Find a clock or watch with a second hand.  Now watch it for an entire minute.  Wait, wait, wait while that second hand makes it all the way around back to where it started.  That was painful wasn’t it?  The next time you tell someone “wait a minute”, remember how painful that minute watching the clock was. 

A minute may seem like a reasonable request, unless you’re the one waiting.  Then a minute seems like an eternity. What are you doing that is so important?  Are you really engaged in something you can’t break away from?  If what you are doing is so important is a minute really enough, and if you do break away in a minute are you committed to giving someone your full attention or are you still distracted by what you were previously doing?

The next time you’re about to ask for a minute (an eternity) instead decide if you can give the person your full attention now or if you need them to return at a different time when you can be 100% engaged in what they want to discuss.  Both parties will feel much better about the interaction when you are both fully engaged.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t
own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it
you can never get it back.”

-Harvey MacKay

The Power of Home Depot

We had just returned to the car with a cart full of groceries and my liftgate wouldn’t open.  I tried the remote, then the handle, and then I opened the driver side door and tried the button.  No go.  I looked at my daughter and said “thank goodness we weren’t at Costco”.  Since it was just the two of us it was no problem to stuff the bags in the backseat and head for home.
Weeks ago this would have been a disaster.  I would be pouting for days complaining about how inconvenient it would be to go to the dealer to get it fixed. Ah, but this is not for me.  I have found the Power of Home Depot.    Ever since buying a table saw my mantra has been 
                 I Can Do Anything!
For the first time what would have been a do-not-attempt-this-at-home moment was an I can do anything moment.  I didn’t even consider taking my car anywhere for help.  I have found the power to try and do things on my own by starting one DIY project.  I don’t even have the project complete yet, but just the fact that I am doing it starting has been my source of self-empowerment.
Try something new.  See what else it leads to.  
Where do you get your confidence?

how traditions get started

We are reading a book about detail and sweating the small stuff in our book club.  This is super important when it comes to the holidays and family tradition.  A little detail that you may overlook could be the one that they are anticipating.  We happened upon our Easter traditions by accident. 

My family always hid the decorated eggs for Easter when we were growing up. I thought that this would be a great tradition to carry on when our daughter was old enough to hunt for eggs. We painted a dozen of them, and after she went to bed we incorporated a tradition from my husbands family; the outdoor Easter egg hunt.  Good thing she wasn’t aware of the Easter holiday and wasn’t expecting an egg hunt because our first kid, our golden lab Elvis, ate all one dozen of those pretty painted eggs before our daughter woke up. 
The next year we still painted eggs, but we purchased plastic ones for our egg hunt. Amateurs with the plastic eggs the next morning we found that the wind had blown them all out of hiding and into the open.  Not much of a hunt.  It was more like playing a game of pick up sticks.  For a 3 year old it was fine, but we knew we had to up our game for he next year. 
Loose change was the perfect answer. Kids love it and it would weigh down the eggs keeping them in hiding through the night. Yes, the perfect egg hunt. 
For years we had been putting the money jar coins into the eggs without much thought to it.  Then, one Good Friday during a very hectic year (aren’t they all) the kids were babbling in the back seat and one of them mentioned he money the Easter bunny brings.  Confused, I asked “what money?”. “the money in the eggs Mommy”.  Saved!  It hadn’t crossed my mind that we needed coins for the eggs and this was the first that I realized that this was a new family tradition. 
What Easter traditions do you have?

Impress with Less; Don Quixote Salad

Start off your meal with a bang. Here’s a great recipe to “impress with less” that I adopted from a salad we had while in San Antonio. This is super easy to make, with only 6 ingredients, and has a lot to talk about.

Layer on a salad plate in order.
Per serving:
1-2 cups mixed greens
1 small handful pecans
4 grapefruit wedges
Several julienned strips of Manchego
Marzetti’s light Honey French dressing
Top with 1/8 cup bean sprouts

The French dressing and grapefruit is just magical together, but the real magic comes in the dinner conversation it provokes. It’s all about the cheese. Manchego comes from La Mancha Spain. Check out Linda Eder singing Man From La Mancha

Lots of brass and amazing vocals. Wow! I love this song. I have listened to her CD “It’s Time” over and over and over . . .What else, or should I say who else, comes from La Mancha? Don Quixote.

Love, seduction, chivalry and wit; what more could you want? How about windmills? There’s two ways to take the conversation from here. You can go traditional Don Quixote and discuss fighting your imaginary enemies (did you watch Raising Hope this week with the imaginary spiders?) or take a modern approach and discuss wind power being converted to wind energy. Don’t Forget your dinner is still in the oven while you’re having too much fun with the salad course.

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