Tag Archives: Lifestyle and food

Mug Shots: The Day’s First Decision (Coffee)

Mug Shots: The Day’s First Decision (Coffee)


One seven

I always have had an odd relationship with MUGS. I don’t like drinking from them…too bulky in the hand, too thick on the rim against the lips. It has always been a challenge when visiting family or friends to be offered my choice of mugs for morning coffee, which is as much as a sensuous experience as a wake-up ritual for me.

When necessary where there is no other choice, I will drink from the mug, but not happily so….and never EVER a mug for tea which remains perpetually hot and almost undrinkable. (Only a china cup with the right kind of thin rim for my tea).

I know this initially upsets some of my readers who have a love-relationship with their favorite mugs..even with the tender little chip on the rim…but I will now reveal that in the past several years, I have come to new and personal relationship with several carefully chosen mugs that have special emotional meanings for me because of how they feel to the hand and lips, how they allow the coffee to please me temperature and taste wise, where they came from and represent as I drink from them, and how they stimulate my imaging for beloved things I treasure in their glazed artwork.

This morning, on the Solstice 2014, my MUGS asked to be acknowledged as they gear up to brings me comfort and joy in the now cold sleepy mornings of Winter when I brew my only coffee of the day. They lined up for their Mug Shots photo shoot most proudly each with their stories of why they are now treasures in my first morning ritual.


My mug from the beautiful St. Edmunds Retreat Center on Enders Island and the delicious Mystic Monl coffee from  the Carmelite Monks in the state of Wyoming.

St. Edmunds Retreat Center is on an island in Connecticut and it is where I go to take beautiful pictures of the church, the sea and the rocks, and the beautiful gardens filled with dahlias and other flowers in the summertime. This mug reminds me of a lovely place of sanctuary away from the chaos and noise of day to day life….I love it’s shape and smoothness, and I love holding the island of Enders in my hands in the morning.


One eight It is delightful to be both a student and a guest instructor/lecturer at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Rhode Island. This mug was presented to the guest faculty upon the presentation of our first course offering. I love it’s reminder that learning IS a lifelong adventure…This is a heavy sturdy mug reminding me that there is strength in wisdom and knowledge…

one ten The University and the Garden Girls. When I want to remember the beauty of the flowers and plants in my garden and the gardens of friends and the world, I choose one of my flower mugs..sunflowers or peonies, these two mugs are more feminine in feel, a finer weight and smooth and slim on the lips…occasionally tea will find their way into these temporary wells which cool down more quickly than a full-bodied mug, allowing the fragrance and delicacy of the tea to escape…into me!


IMG_8795My newest mug is just from the market…it was the curved open sweep on its rim and its greenness that caught my eye…just the right weight, a big open handle for balance and invitation to sit with its sense of the feminine and nature’s green-growingness. It reminded my of my other blog, http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com where I record many things of nature in word and photography and of the greening spirit within our souls…

From Christine, The Cook (and the The Greening Spirit)

dreams  You are invited to visit my other blogs here on WordPress!

For Inspiration and Beauty: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

For Music and Music Memoirs/Piano Teaching: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

For the power of positive speech and life satisfaction: http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

For lunch and learn seminar lectures: http://lunchandlearnseminars.wordpress.com





Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Turmeric

Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Turmeric


It is COLD in the Northeast USA now and I find that cooking with the WARM spices like curries, turmeric, cayenne keep the bodily  “fires” burning from the inside out for a feeling of warmth and comfort. One of my favorite fast and easy recipes for inner heat and delicious eating is this one. There are many variations on this with an added ingredient here or there but this one so far is the one that works for me, allowing for culinary creativity as I am so inspired.

The price of cauliflower varies widely. Yesterday at Belmont’s it was $4.99 for a head, and $2.99 a head at Shaw’s. Both beautifully fresh and white. Shop wisely and economically!

Although a white vegetable, cauliflower is nutrient rich and the powerful brown/red/orange spices in curry (turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne etc) are warming to the body and digestion, protective and anti-tumor as well. This recipe is a winner…good to prepare ahead and take to a potluck also, serving warm or hot.

Basic ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, cut into flowerettes, olive oil, curry powder and preferred extra spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cumin. IMG_8742

Extra ingredients as desired:

tahini, honey, a good chutney (I use Major Grey’s)


1. Cut cauliflower into flowerettes, place in a large bowl and drizzle with  a tablespoon + of olive oil, tossing to coat well. Sprinkle with curry powder to coat as desired and add a sprinkle of one of the extra spices if preferred. I do ot have a measurement here but go by eye, to color the vegetable. Just remember: you can always ADD but you cannot SUBTRACT an ingredient…be discerning…a little at a time. Sprinkle with a little salt (fingertip-taste…do not overdo!) Toss to coat everything evenly.

IMG_87412. Place on a cooking pan. Bake/Roast at 400 degrees for 15 -20 minutes depending on your oven… turn the flowerettes after that time and bake/roast until done…I like them to turn a slight golden color but do not burn!

3. Serve as is, adjusting for flavor   OR….

4. MY Special touches:

~ when in the serving bowl, I add a teeny bit of honey to taste

~ when in the serving bowl, I add a teeny bit of tahini to coat very lightly

~ when in the personal dish, I add a little bit of mango/raisin chutney if desired

This recipe is open for adjusting to your personal taste and preferences but I assure you, it is delicious and won’t last long in the serving bowl.

Stay warm, inside and out!

From Christine, The Cook

Cranberyy 2

A delicious life has many ingredients! Check my other blogs..

For inspiration: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

For music/the arts: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

For the power to create a good life: http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com


Snow Forecast! Need Heat! Get out the CURRY!

Snow Forecast! Need Heat! Get out the CURRY!




Last night the forecast was for our first snow showers of the season and COLD and whoa! Not quite ready with beautiful multi-color Autumn leaves still on the trees, but the cold and the chill was arriving making the impending approach of winter very clear to the senses.

I was still so busy last night after facilitating a centering meditation circle in the afternoon and preparing for an all-day retreat (having nothing to do with cooking) coming up this Sunday. Things to do here at the computer but you can’t concentrate when tired, hungry and chilled. I needed sustenance, comfort and it had to be fairly quick and easy!

Bring out the CURRY! And a most delicious supper of pure sensual delight and deep-healing comfort! Diced chicken breast, a jar of prepared mild curry sauce, white or basmati rice, 1 package of frozen mixed veggies, honey, unsweetened coconut flakes (optional), a splash of cream or half n’ half and you have a feast!


Dice chicken into small-ish pieces. Saute unttil lightly golden in a combination of olive oil and butter. (I find that a pad of butter rounds our the flavors).

When golden, add the box of mixed veggies, which have been un-frozen by running cool water over them in a colander. Shake to drain. Stir with the chicken  a bit to warm them.



Place the chicken and veggie mixture in a baking dish, being sure to include the sauteeing juices in the frying pan to the baking dish mixture.

IMG_8601Pour your preferred jar of curry sauce over the mixture. Stir. Sprinkle with about 2 teasp of  shredded coconut, sweetend or unsweetened.

I have used “Kashmiri Curry (Indian Sumer Sauce) by Maya Kaimal…”MILD”.  There are so many brands and one must experiment with what is available where you live.  NOTE: It is important to know that Indian Curries are warm to hot even if “mild” so I recommend that you always start with “mild”. I have had to toss away meals that were simply too fiery to eat. You can always add a little more dried cayenne pepper powder to your “mild” curry if you need more heat for your adventurous taste…but you can never backtrack the heat of “too hot”!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.


  When finished, add to taste 2 teasp-1 tablesp honey…stir into to mix…taste and adjust. Add a touch…just a touch!… of cream or half n’ half to lighten..stir…




Serve over cooked white, basmati or whole-grain rice.

I am told that this Sanskrit word  “AsvAdavat” means “delicious”.  If I need to be corrected, don’t hesitate to do so!


This is very comforting and SENSUOUS food with the elegant and exotic spices that make up varieties of curry powder: cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cloves, fennel seed, fenukreek, nutmeg, black and cayenne pepper. The most wonderful thing is that all of these spices and herbs are powerful healing herbs and strengthen the body’s immune system, cardiovascular system, especially during the cold season.

Sensuous,  Fragrant, Warm and Healthy is the way we go with CURRY!

Be daring and enjoy!

From Christine, The Cook

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_o  Want some good reading material when captive inside the house during bad weather?  (or any kind of weather actually!) Check out my other blogs:

For positive thinking, talking and positive life experiences:  http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

For inspiration, beauty and lovely photos: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

For love of music and music memoirs: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com












Recipe List! Update!




Hi there! Now you can find what’s on this blog more easily. Click on the “Recipe List” page in the header  or link below  to find something good to prepare!




There is also a new  page  for cooking  stories and memoirs


From Christine, the Cook  (organizing this blog. Now to clean and organize the fridge)

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_o Other wonderful blogs of mine:

Music and Piano:  http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

Law of Attraction:  http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

Inspiration and Beauty: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com


“Hot” wines/ “Cool” Wines and Tender Tummies



Ah, yes, I do love wine. And in my country neighborhood we have an elegant wine store (called “package stores” here in New England) with an awesome array of the finest wines from around the world, and extremely knowledgeable owners who wax poetic over the virtues of their inventory. Friendly wine tastings too on Friday afternoons with customers chatting and sipping and enticed by the deliciousness to carry home at least one, if not several, bottles of their favorite new (expensive-but-worth-it) variety.

But alas! I of delicate digestion over the past several years have had to limit my choices of such delights and choose lighter fermentations. One of the situations for me has been the noticeable difference between “hot” and “cool” wines based on the percentage of alcohol in the wine. Tho I am no wine connoisseur, it seems that vintners have been brewing up higher percentages of alcoholic content in their vats of grappa..sometimes as high as 14.9 % altho  12.9%-13,9% seems about average now but is literally too “HOT” for me and irritating to my digestion causing discomfort.

If the alcohol content is too low, the wine is too sweet, too many calories and like juice…too “cool”.  Yet I love to choose a lovely  glass goblet, and pour the wine into it, swirling it around and inhaling the fragrance, sipping slowly and savoring a beverage as ancient as the gods…

WineSometimes I think I love a glass of wine because of the beauty of the goblet and the way the shape of the  glass feels in my hand and against my lips.



Well, in life we can’t always have things the way we think we would have liked…but then again maybe something comes along that is just perfect for where we are. That “perfect” glass of wine for me is a delightful pink vino verde from

Portugal, the label, Casal Garcia, ALC 10% but with the teeniest fizz making it fun and very digestible. Also the price is right for casual imbibing.. $6.99 a 750ml bottle.Vinho Verde This wine is always disappearing from the shelves, constantly re-ordered and replaced so I must not be the only non-elite connoisseur around town.

Lifting a glass of “cool” wine to you in the first days of the coolth of Autumn!

From Christine, the Cook

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*****There are many things to savor in life!!

Please check my inspirational blogs:

http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com  (beautiful photos and ponderings)     AND

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com (for music people and pianists)




Memoirs! Laughter in the Kitchen!





Well first off, I have to say it’s a good thing my children don’t read most of what I write as their lives with full time jobs, marriages and small children keep them too busy to even answer e-mails. They would both kill me for posting this picture. But it makes me smile, if not laugh out loud with them when I remember one of our rare times together, which only happens a few times a year, with the three of us each living in a different state.

It is our way though, when planning time together..a quick weekend before everyone has to get back to work..to decide the all- important question “What are we going to do for dinner?”. When they were growing up, even with full-time working parents, meals were a non-negotiable nightly ritual at the table, with a variety of food lovingly prepared from favorite recipes, at a table set with dishes, knives and forks and chairs set around so that we actually ate together, looked at each other and talked! Those were simpler times then…everyone so busy now with complicated work and school activity schedules.

IMG_6961When we get together now, it is..at least for one meal… an attempt to capture the communion of mealtime but at this time  with small, lively and giggly children it is hard to look across the table adult-wise and eye-to-eye to finish a conversation, let alone a sentence! Where the REAL communication takes place is in the kitchen..a bottle of wine, veggies, meat, desserts…chop, chop. dice, saute, bake, season and lots of laughter. Did I say wine?Wine (or a Mike’s).




On this visit, daughter Lisa who used to be a vegetarian determinedly took on the sectioning of the chicken…daughter Melissa, our craftsperson and baker did the desserts, and  I, the Greening Spirit,  prepared the salad and vegetables while the kids wove their energetic persons in and around all the prep amusing themselves cousins-style. The REAL visit for myself and my IMG_6967 daughters took place right here in the kitchen.. working, talking, laughing and trying to contain the children’s energies of up/down, in/out and numerous requests for other more amusing forms of entertainment.

I don’t always actually remember the meal at the table as I drive back to my home state because by the time we get to the table,  the children and we, rushing through a short weekend trying to fit everything in, are tired and the meal is a blur. But always, I remember the times in the kitchen with my daughters, talking, telling funny stories and laughing in the kitchen.

Over the years things will shift and change and things may be calmer and slower and we will miss the chaos. But always the time together is precious… and yes, I think the kitchen in the Heart of the Home.    IMG_6976


From Christine, the Cook (aka “Mom”and “Noni”)


****  New post on my Greening Spirit site: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/kissed-sensual-spirituality-and-hildegarde-of-bingen/

**** New post on my Piano Mistress site: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/memoirs-creative-listening-and-art/







Memoirs: The Treasured Spatula

Memoirs: The Treasured Spatula

IMG_8154 For many of us who love to cook, our kitchen tools hold stories for many years. Some of those tools…utensils, pots, pans, and cookbooks come and go as we come and go ourselves to different houses and places,  moving into and through different phases (and crazes) of our lives experimenting with the new along the way. One thing that stays the same probably is that no matter where we go, we most likely always have a “kitchen”…either our own or someone else’s and the things we use in that room can be very personal and important in the success of our creative culinary efforts.

I remember my very first cookbook given to me by a college friend at my wedding shower: A hardbound copy of Betty Crocker’s “Dinner for Two”, which at that time sounded very romantic…visions of long, lingering dinners by candlelight with my new husband. (Well the book had a picture of a table set for two with flowers and candles and very easy and basic recipes  taking little time to prepare as it was assumed that the kitchen time had to be divided between itself and that other important newly-wed room). Cookbook That book served us well for the first year or so, making me feel very accomplished and grown-up. (I married quite young..)


I just looked up that cookbook this morning on Amazon. It seems that it has increased in value over the years as one can order a used copy for $41.36 and a NEW copy (they still print it? Copywrite 1964) for $992.28! And that .28 doesn’t go towards the shipping! Do people still give that as a wedding shower gift????

How many sets of “the perfect”pots and pans have come and gone? Blenders, food processors, toaster ovens, potholders of different patterns, towels and wipers, sets of dishes, crockpots of various sizes, innumerable Tupperware pieces (many with missing lids), wine stoppers with the artsy top decoration broken off, fizzle makers, wooden spoons, glass measuring cups with chips…? They have come and gone and been replaced and the cooking goes on.

Except… Except for each long-time, long-term cook, there are one to several kitchen tools that can NEVER be replaced! A culinary tool or utensil that has been with us from the beginning.  A kitchen companion hat has been with us through all our travels..the different houses and kitchens and life situations ongoing… one without which we could quite possibly never cook another meal again successfully.

It, for us, has the patina and magic of the years, the familiar feel and unique shape that has been used in all kinds of situations and which is irreplaceable for our creations and the comfort of familiarity that is necessary for our grounding!

Sounds silly? Once is a great while over the years panic set in when for one of those crazy un known reasons, my special utensil disappeared…diving deep into a drawer hidden by other less saavy tools. I would feel myself go white…WHERE IS MY SPATULA??????

Not just any spatula. THIS spatula that has been with me from the beginning, a wedding gift as part of a set of cooking utensils from our friend Mike Corn. The rest of the set has gone…but this…THIS spatula has always been with me and it is special. The weight of it, the feel of it, the sturdiness of it and most importantly the unique and unusual slight tilt to the blade of it that allowed me to work certain flips and stirring in the pot that other ordinary totally straight edge spatulas wouldn’t do.

Spatulas are very different from each other. How often I have been SO frustrated when visiting others and needing a spatula for something I would be cooking as a guest, I would be fighting with a soft and floppy blade or a thick plastic blade that pushed food around the pan rather than slide under to pick it up or flip it over. “I can’t cook with this thing!!” I would groan. “I should have packed and brought MY SPATULA with me!!”, but never thought about it, packing eye makup, slippers and my vitamins instead.

Well, this is a cooking blog and our cooking is FILLED with the nourishing ingredients of MEMORIES, making the act of preparing food very personal and intimate. No recipe today, but I invite you to think about the treasured utensils that have been with you forever and which help you to create your best culinary magic. Thank them for their good service!

My special spatula has been with me for 46 years now, can you believe. I would be lost without it. The friend, Mike, who gave it has passed on many years ago..but I wouldlove to have him know that his gift is still here and treasured.

What is your favorite cooking utensil?

Christine, the Cook