Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Recipes

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  As we prepare to spend Thanksgiving with friends, I thought I would share the recipes for our contributions to today’s holiday meal.  These are two special treats we often prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I hope you will enjoy them sometime.


2 pints of shucked fresh Oysters (retain juice)
Saltine crackers
1 pint Heavy Cream

Break up saltines (into smallish pieces, but not crushed to dust) and cover the bottom of a (greased) 8” X 8” round dish with a thin layer.  Add a layer of oysters that have been patted dry.  Add pats of butter on top of the oysters.  Repeat until you have three layers of all three ingredients.  Add pepper (no additional salt needed because of the salty crackers).  Pour a mixture of cream flavored with a touch of oyster juice over the casserole, allowing it to filter through the layers.  Top with another layer of broken Saltines.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.


1 cup Irish Whiskey
1 cup Half & Half (or Heavy Cream)
2/3 of a 14 oz can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Tablespoons of Hersheys Chocolate Syrup
2 fresh Eggs*
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Teaspoon Instant Coffee

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until well mixed.  Serve directly from the blender over ice, or refrigerate until chilled, remix and serve in a small glass.  We like to funnel it into a fancy bottle and give it as a gift.

*Disclaimer:  Consumption of uncooked eggs can be risky.  Be sure yours are from a trusted source and are fresh.  To eliminate risk, remove them from the recipe entirely.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holidays Here and There

We are barreling into the holiday season and getting ready to wrap up 2011.  At the same time, I’m staring at the calendar for 2012 and trying to figure out how to manage the permanent transition from Chicago to Prescott.  There are so many moving parts; the very thought of it stresses me out.  The work starts now, but the move is some months away – so I’d rather focus on the near term activities and fun.

Thanksgiving will be spent with generous friends here in Talking Rock.  We’ll contribute a few things, like Ron’s Oyster Casserole (oysters, butter, heavy cream, and crackers) and my homemade Bailey’s Baileys Irish Cream (try this and I predict you’ll never drink the non-dairy version again).  I anticipate a great day of eating, drinking and laughing. 

On December 1st, we’ll be back at home in Chicago to enjoy Ron’s mid-month birthday and all the trappings of our last Christmas in the big city – decking the halls in the condo, shopping, lunch in festive locales, a holiday stage show, watching the skaters in Millenium Park, and snowy views out our front windows.  Christmas Eve and Morning we have our own traditions at home as a couple, but we’ll join family in Evanston in the afternoon for a buffet lunch.

By New Year’s Eve we’ll be back in Prescott to usher in 2012 at Talking Rock, among friends, wined and dined by our marvelous Chef Richard Saldivar, within a safe walking distance of home (just in case we have too much fun).  Last year’s party was a blast.  Who remembers tearing up the dance floor to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”?  If I had any pride, I would be embarrassed at the memory.

The hectic and exhausting process of preparing the condo for sale or rent will be dealt with in the spring.  After that, I’ll gird my loins for the big move.  Three and a half years after our retirement, we find ourselves on the home stretch before the next big chapter in our lives.  I can do this.

Enjoy the season, one and all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Morning Coffee

One of the great luxuries of retirement is that time is more flexible. The alarm on our bedside clock is rarely used. My life is full and busy, but not scheduled to the ‘nth degree. I love it that way.

Early morning is a time for coffee and my slow process of getting in gear for the day. I enjoy watching the sun begin to light up and warm the world.

Our Chicago and Prescott homes have one thing in common – they both have great windows from which we can observe the weather and the happenings in our neighborhood. In Prescott, we see rabbits, birds, neighbors walking dogs, and golfers. Chicago offers an urban bustle of people coming and going to work, shops, parks, clubs, and restaurants.

Getting the pulse of my surroundings encourages me to jump in and participate to savor the day. It’s so beautiful outside that I need to get out there too! Steve’s watering the flowers; let’s go visit with him. I’m booking a tee time! Let’s take a walk. Connie’s out on her patio; I’m going over to see her. The 146 bus is due in five minutes to take me shopping at Water Tower Place. Life sings in tune when I find the rhythm of the world around me.

It all starts at home with my morning coffee. I’m about ready to roll.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Take a Deep Breath of Life

Yesterday was our first full day back in Prescott. Once again, we seem to have brought Chicago’s chill with us. The day struggled to climb out of the 40’s, but brought sun and clear, clean skies to enjoy. We headed for the driving range at noon, and were on the first tee by 12:30.

Talking Rock Ranch has a stunning golf course. It has emerald green fairways, but the desert hazards have their own beauty. This time of year, the high desert is smudged with dramatic swaths of gold, green, rust, and purple. Native birds provide flashes of blue in the landscape, and jackrabbits and roadrunners dart among the scrub oaks. Climbing the hill up to the 15th tee is rewarded with the gift of a 360-degree mountain view. The color of the sky is only upstaged by the intense sapphire blue of the pond between 9 and 18; the water attracting ducks and the occasional heron or other water bird.

Being outside in the fresh air amidst so much beauty is cleansing. I’m not sure what I had going on that needed to be cleansed…maybe emissions from CTA buses or the noise of a big city. I enjoy the bustle and excitement of Chicago – I truly do. But whenever I come back to Prescott, my soul is soothed.

Several times yesterday, I found myself standing still and taking very deep breaths of the clean air. It felt as though my lungs expanded with each inhalation, and that the oxygen was energizing all my nerve endings. It was euphoric.

Take a deep breath of life today, and enjoy.