Carrot-ginger soup is trending these days!

I can tell you why Carrot-ginger soup is trending.  Stars such as Ali Larter make it.

carrot-ginger-soup Ali Larter

This bright soup is super healthy with a flavorful kick. The addition of orange juice intensifies the flavor.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, broth, orange juice, ginger, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Puree with immersion blender or food processor, until very smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Reheat the soup over medium heat until hot. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Ali Larter writes, “We are so over-sauced, -oiled, -vinegared, and -cheesed. Lightly steam some veggies, with just a touch of sea salt to remember how delicious they can be.”

From Kitchen Revelry by Ali Larter. Copyright © 2013 by the author, reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

Mushrooms and Tofu in Lettuce Cups– yum!

When we visited son Jeff and family in Houston, we enjoyed these.

Lettuce Wraps

3/4 ounce dried shitake mushrooms

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil

10 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms(chopped)

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger root

1 Thai chile or two jalepenos, stemmed, sedded, and minced

12 ounces extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/4 inch dice

12, large Boston lettuce leaves

Pour 1 cup hot water over dried ‘shrooms-allow to soak for 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms, strain liquid and combine with hoisin sauce and lime juice. Set aside.

Chop softened mushrooms.

Heat peanut oil. Cook fresh mushrooms for about 4 minutes. Add chopped dried mushrooms, garlic, ginger, and chile. Stir fry for one minute. Add tofu and cook until lightly browned. Add hoisin mixture and stir fry until the sauce reduces to a thick glaze. Cool slightly. Spoon mushroom mixture into boston lettuce leaves. Roll up and chow down.

We’re flying to visit son, Jeff, and his family who live hundreds of miles away.

My suitcase is packed with just enough room for my husband, Gerry’s stuff. Just the two of us are flying down from California to be with the four of them in Texas.  Jeff made reservations for a Mothers’ Day brunch.  He asked if we’d like to watch Mary Grace play soccer.  Of course we would.  We like doing whatever they do in their busy lives.  Fourteen-year-old Clare is excited to be going to a dance on Friday.  It’s fun to get in tune with the rhythm of their lives and cheer them on with whatever that is. In turn, they like hearing about our lives.

As a parent, I’ve devoted many of my adult years nurturing five children, and now I enjoy new intimacy and joy with my husband. Life as an empty nester with Gerry Rowland is just beginning!


After two weeks, a package to my cousin finally arrived!

On April 11th I mailed a bereavement shawl to my cousin who lost someone very dear to her  I hoped this item would give her comfort.  Women in our church knit them and not only donate their time but won’t accept donations.  They just want the shawls to go into the world, and in time recipients often give them away to another grieving person.


It finally arrived today.  At one point it almost arrived but then someone sent it back again!

May 3, 2016 , 10:02 am

Delivered, In/At Mailbox


Your item was delivered in or at the mailbox at 10:02 am on May 3, 2016 in SIOUX CIY, IA 51109.

May 3, 2016 , 5:08 am

Arrived at Post Office

May 1, 2016 , 3:44 pm

Arrived at USPS Destination Facility

April 29, 2016 , 6:05 pm

Departed USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 26, 2016 , 7:20 am

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 26, 2016 , 3:48 am

Departed USPS Facility

April 25, 2016 , 6:54 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

April 25, 2016 , 7:02 am

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 23, 2016 , 9:33 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

April 22, 2016 , 11:58 pm

Departed USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 19, 2016 , 2:25 am

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 18, 2016 , 11:04 am

Departed USPS Facility

SAN JOSE, CA 95101
April 17, 2016 , 11:18 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

SAN JOSE, CA 95101
April 17, 2016 , 10:17 pm

Departed USPS Facility

April 16, 2016 , 2:52 am

Arrived at USPS Destination Facility

April 14, 2016 , 5:42 pm

Departed USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 13, 2016 , 1:54 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility

FRESNO, CA 93706
April 13, 2016 , 12:52 am

Departed USPS Facility

April 12, 2016 , 10:27 pm

Arrived at USPS Origin Facility

April 11, 2016 , 5:05 pm

Acceptance (SSK)

IRVINE, CA 92623


May Basket Day is May 1st!

When I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, we practiced this curious custom, and it went like this. Our mothers bought or helped us make little baskets.  We put candy and flowers in them, left them on door steps of friends and neighbors, rang the door bells, and ditched!  If we were espied by the recipients, the recipient might give chase.

May basketsOh the fun of brightening someone’s day! Another ancient (ha, ha) rite–At our elementary schools we invited parents when we danced around the May poles.

Grilled Italian Eggplant “Sandwiches”

Think of the Eggplant as the bread.  Eggplant has close to zero calories. Daughter Janice and I are making these!

Grilled eggplant Parmesan sandwich


  • 1 large eggplant, (1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds), cut into 12 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • Canola or olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan, or Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 4 small pieces focaccia bread, or rustic Italian bread
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Place eggplant rounds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Coat both sides lightly with cooking spray. Combine Parmesan (or Asiago) and mozzarella in a small bowl. Brush both sides of focaccia (or bread) with oil.
  3. Place spinach in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and punch several holes in the wrap. Microwave on High until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine tomatoes and 2 tablespoons basil in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave until bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  4. Place all your ingredients on the baking sheet with the eggplant and take it to the grill. Grill the eggplant slices until brown and soft on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Grill the bread until toasted, about 1 minute per side. Return the eggplant and bread to the baking sheet. Reduce grill heat to medium.
  5. Place 1 eggplant round on top of each slice of bread. Layer 1 tablespoon tomatoes, 1 tablespoon wilted spinach and 1 tablespoon cheese on each slice of eggplant. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, sauce, spinach and cheese. Sprinkle each stack with some of the remaining basil. Place the baking sheet on the grill, close the lid and grill until the eggplant stack is hot and the cheese is melted, 5 to 7 minutes.

To dye or not to dye, that is the question.

Do you think only their hairdressers know for sure? Most do not care. 75% of women dye their hair, and they believe by doing it, they’re boosting their confidence.  Here’s another statistic:  Six out of 67 female members of the House of Representatives show gray but none of the 14 female US senators do.  I admit to falling into the “do” category with low-lights. Between visits, I know two tricks for touching them up.  I smear Vaseline along the hairline and back of ears before stroking color with an artist’s brush.  Low-lights cover about half of my gray.

How do you feel about going gray? Do you feel it’s more authentic?  Emmylou Harris, 64, has let her hair go white naturally.  Do white haired women have more fun than blondes?


Vietnamese knock back Pho the way Italians do expresso– swiftly, routinely

Pho is usually served in the morning. Pho is an herb-scattered fragrant noodle soup, a beefy cardamom-y delight keeps you full for hours.  It’s often paired with strong Vietnamese coffee served over sweet condensed milk.


I’m making Pho using Martha Stewart’s recipe.  Photo is courtesy of Ryan K. Liebe.


  • 4 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bones, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 pounds oxtail, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 2 1/2-pound piece beef brisket, rinsed and patted dry
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 6 whole star-anise pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 large onions, 2 halved lengthwise, 1/2 thinly sliced
  • 4 medium shallots
  • 1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, halved lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or a 1 1/2-inch piece yellow rock sugar (available at
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce, such as nuoc nam or nam pla
  • 1 12-ounce piece beef eye of round
  • 2 pounds rice stick noodles
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • Cilantro sprigs, preferably Vietnamese, for serving
  • Fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai, for serving
  • Bean sprouts, for serving
  • Thai bird or serrano chiles, thinly sliced, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Asian chili sauce, such as sambal oelek or Sriracha, for serving
  • Hoisin sauce, for serving


  1. Bring a large Dutch oven or stockpot of water to a boil. Add beef bones, oxtail, and brisket. Return to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Drain; return beef bones, oxtail, and brisket to pot.
  2. Toast cloves, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, coriander, and fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to pot.
  3. Heat broiler. Place onion halves, shallots, and ginger on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Transfer to pot.
  4. Add enough water to cover (about 8 quarts). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; do not boil. Skim foam with a spoon, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a simmer.
  5. Simmer until broth is golden brown and liquid level has lowered about 2 inches, 6 to 8 hours. Transfer brisket to a dish; let cool, then cover brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  6. Remove bones and oxtail; discard. Strain broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Stir in sugar and fish sauce. Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days, or freeze up to 1 month.
  7. With a large spoon, remove most of hardened fat from surface of broth; discard. Bring broth to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Rolling out for Better Biking

Maribel Mateo and her brother Tony Garcia are youth organizers tackling bike safety in Santa Ana.  While watching clusters of kids navigating traffic and street crossings on Edinger, Mateo pointed out that many people in her hometown of Santa Ana can’t afford cars, her family included. To get around, they take the bus, bicycle or both. She talked about Bike to Work Month, which is May. It’s also the same month for the Ride of Silence, a global campaign for safer streets that memorializes cyclists killed by motor vehicles.

bike safety
Photo courtesy of the Orange County Register

While gathering the information for the grant application, the KidWorks team documented that from January 2011 through this past May, on the 1.7 miles they studied, there were at least a dozen bicycle crashes, most involving cars.

Weeks after their study, Priscilla Vallejo was killed July 13 while riding her bike to school. The 13-year-old died after being hit by a truck in a crosswalk at South Center Street and West Edinger Avenue.

Lynnete Guzman, community engagement coordinator for KidWorks, joined Mateo and Gatica on the sidewalk off Edinger. Traffic noise nearly drowned out their conversation.

As she usually does on her 2.5-mile commute to work, Guzman rode there on her bike. “Why fight over a parking spot?” asked Guzman, who helped the teenagers with the application. Gatica explained he arrived by skateboard because his bicycle is busted after another cyclist hit him.

Mateo said the multimillion-dollar grant will help alleviate some of the dangers. The improvements will take several years to implement.

To celebrate getting the grant, the KidWorks crew went to Knott’s Berry Farm. Still, they continue their work by pushing what’s called “active transportation,” moving by human power. Their latest effort was leading a night bike ride with, yes, plenty of lights.

Both brother and sister already plan careers as civil engineers. Their goal? To help make a safer world.