Food Memories and Random Thoughts- Results From Chilly February Days….

Feb 25


I have never been a person who complains very much about the weather. This has been a fairly mild winter here in Portland;however, I could use some warmer days…. and a bit more sunshine too. My favorite pastimes while stuck inside on chilly long February days are reading,cooking and just” day dreaming”. The day dreaming has conjured up a slew of bits and pieces of this and that. Thoughts and memories and facts and so on……..

February 24, 1836 : Colonel Wm. Barret Travis’ letter, Victory or Death, is sent by fast mount with Capt. Albert Martin to his hometown of Gonzales, about 75 miles,arriving the next day. He returned with only a small force on March 1. Santa Ana’s army offered no quarter – all of the volunteers, Texians, Davy Crockett from Tennessee, Colonel Jim Bowie from Louisiana ….. including Capt. Albert Martin- fell on March 6 in defense of the Alamo in San Antonio and the battle for Texas Independence.The surviving original letter was put on display at the Alamo( after being driven by police motorcade from historical archives in Austin) on February 24, 2013.

Frozen Berries are a lifesaver in the winter! Take some berries(blue,raspberries or Marionberries), frozen last summer, put them in a small bowl; now add a teaspoon of lemon juice and some honey; cover and the next morning I have the start of my favorite breakfast treat of fruit compote. Add 1/2 small banana, a diced small red pear and some pineapple chunks or some kiwi. Very nice! Must not forget a large dollop of Greek yogurt if in the house.

Breakfast for One: Speaking about breakfast ; that is my favorite meal of the day. I always make my breakfast in the morning.. No matter what schedule the day presents, I set aside time to prepare something different every day; usually very simple dishes. Many days I make the standard fare-eggs, sausage, toast, preserves from my friend Julia;s last summer canning efforts. I like to make “Lazy Man’s Danish” (that’s my moniker for these morning treats). Take some good fresh bread, preferably thick sliced, I prefer whole grain, and toast it lightly. Spread with a teaspoon of unsalted butter. Turn on the broiler; spread a thin layer of jelly or preserves, top with shredded cheese (I suggest Tillamook Reserve sharp white cheddar and maybe some crumbles of a good Oregon bleu) and run under the broiler until bubbly and brown. The sweet and savory of the fruit and the cheeses. That is a DARN GOOD BREAKFAST! Try your own variation…maybe spread some cream or goat cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar,then under the broiler until golden. Also…you may want to make a POTATO ROSTI; I like the Swiss version. I always add a bit of fresh grated red onion for some zing. Very simple, but very good. Just leave the potato cake in the pan until fully browned before turning to the second side. An extra treat- sprinkle  some of that Tillamook white cheddar and melt under the broiler . Delicious.

GREAT COOKING GADGETS: Make sure you get an OXO Good Grips serrated peeler. I don’t know how I got along for all those years without one. Peels a tomato or a peach or a nectarine just like a breeze! Fresh garlic smell gets on your hands…now you need some lemon to get rid of the smell . Use one of the garlic peeler tube-variety and YOU will be a happy garlic peeler!

HOME MADE LANAI: My brother Ray came home from the Navy with his new wife in the early fifties after being stationed at Pearl

Harbor. She was Hawaiian and Portuguese. Boy….. could Sally cook! Now my brother was a terrible carpenter, but his heart was in it. His job as a local semi truck driver got him access to plenty of scrap freight pallets. He would bring them home, pull the nails, throw away the broken boards and put them in a stack out of the way in a corner of the garage. When he had retrieved and dismantled enough boards, outside the back door of his new GI Bill home in Fletcher Heights east of San Diego, he built that  Lanai with his free collected wood. It was a bit crooked and the slats out of kilter, but the breezes flowed through and all were pleased to be there. Ray saved his money and put in a swimming pool next to the Lanai some time later.Their home became a popular neighborhood stop! Sally would cook all types of island delicacies,and when we visited we would all sit under that funky and most beautiful backyard Lanai and she would serve her home made  fried rice, Chinese BBQ pork, and Kanaka (Native Hawaiian)hamburgers (basically egg foo young with hamburger added) . I must really search for Sally’s recipes that my brother sent me when we lost Sally some years back.I should really make time to enjoy some of those dishes again. Memories are a good thing.

IN 1897 Eastland, Texas built a new courthouse. As a lark, a boy dropped a horny toad (actually a horned lizard) in the metal time capsule of the corner stone that they were about to lay. In 1928, a newer courthouse was to be built. They dug up that box, reached in and retrieved a lifeless, wrinkled brown body. After a moment or two, that toad’s leg started to twitch! They called him ‘”Ol’ Rip” ( you all know why). He lived for almost another year. He died eleven months later and he  is on display in Eastland, Texas at the “new courthouse” for all to see. In their utmost wisdom, the Texas 78th legislature in 1993 proclaimed the horned lizard the state reptile of Texas. I am not surprised at this action; for if you are a boy or a girl growing up in Texas, you know that “horny toads” will puff up if threatened,squirt blood from their eyes if about to be harmed, and evidently….now this is a written fact for all to see, will live for another 30 years if you try to bury them. That is one tough lizard for one tough state! I wish I could do all that.



  1. When my family lived in Southeast Idaho, my brother caught a horned toad for me. I only kept it for about a week, but remember feeding it ants and watching it for hours!

    • When you are kid, they are so COOL! Just like watching the B&W early monster caveman movies. I think one movie actually used a”Horny toad” (they will always remind me of what we called them as kids)for some scenes as cavemen battled it with spears. It’s only about 3 1/2″ long.We loved to feed our toads Texas fire ants…nasty little creatures. They will hurt you if you step in a mound with bare feet!

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