Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mexican Cobb Salad with Chipotle Dressing

Why do I keep posting Mexican recipes?
Peruvian food is what I love most.
I recommend Peruvian food!
However, this salad is so good that when I made it last night,
my husband, home from a long hot day of carpentry work,
kept saying, "Wow, this is great. This food is perfect."
Nothing fancy, you just have to have a lot of ingredients on hand.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp. dried marjoram, or oregano if you don't have marjoram
1 lime, juiced
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, drained, seeded, finely chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt

 Whisk together all ingredients, set aside

For salad:
1 large head romaine lettuce, shredded
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
4 cups shredded cooked chicken (I use a rotisserie chicken)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
2 or 3 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 cup cooked corn (I used two ears of fresh corn, cooked them for 4 min.- husks on- in microwave, husked them, rinsed them under cool water, and zipped them off the cob with a sharp knife).
1 lime, cut into wedges
optional: 2 T. snipped fresh chives

Arrange lettuce on a large platter.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, onion, and 1/4 cup of the chipotle dressing
Toss to coat.
Arrange chicken mixture, black beans, avocado, tomatoes and corn in rows on top of the lettuce.
Sprinkle with chives if you have them (I skipped this step).
Drizzle with remaining dressing.
Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 6-8
To make ahead: Prepare salad as directed, but toss avocado with 1 T. lime juice.
Reserve dressing till ready to serve.
Cover salad, chill for up to 4 hours.
When ready to serve, drizzle salad with dressing.

Oh so yummy. Would have been even better if I'd had avocado on hand.

Monday, July 29, 2013


 Grandpa John Thane Daggett's oldest and youngest sons,
and his two youngest great-grandsons.
Left to right: Jim, Malachi, Thane, John

Family reunion.
For some people, these words bring on a case of hives.
For this particular gathering, the elder generation grew up close-knit,
cousins in the small town of Windom, Minnesota.
Their parents were the off-spring of Grant and Anna Daggett.
Grant and Anna produced eleven children.
All but one from that generation are now gone.
But their stories remain.

 Deb and her baby girl, me with my baby boy.

Every family has difficult stories, ones that they do not love to tell.
The tales that are told and told again
are the ones that bring laughter and healing.
Some of my favorite stories aren't really stories,
they are simply the slightly off-kilter remarks that my Grandma Edna threw out.
Everyone knew, for instance, that Aunt Vera had a terrible time being married to Uncle Jake.
So somebody asked, "How did Vera cope with Jake?"
"Oh honey," my Grandma replied lightly. "Sometimes Vera would just take off
like a big bird."

 Too cold outside to do much on the lake.

 Six Daggett women (four of them by marriage), still getting along after all these years.

 Aaron (Marv's great-grandson) plays with Malachi (John's great-grandson).

 Epic Frisbee shot.
Left to right: Tim, Doug, Nate, Caleb Erpelding, Isaac

 Nate and Isaac on Grindstone Lake.
Just behind them, this lake is 150 feet deep.

  Julia, my Dad, Malachi and Anna Kate

 Tim at fire pit duty.

 My dad is the short one at six feet.
The Amazon tribal people had a hard time believing that all his brothers were taller than he.

Jed casts on a gray day.

Despite the cold weather,
we had a wonderful day together.
My aunt and uncle are gifted at hospitality.
It turns out we didn't need a sparkly blue sky to have a great time,
tell new stories,
retell some old ones.
My sister said to me last week,
"I realize my family's currency.
We trade in stories."

Here, a few pithy gems from the previous generation.
May their memory never die.

Grandpa John, when something didn't work: "That's a bad patent."
Marvin: "That'll help some."
Wayne and Marvin, sitting in the high bleachers at a ball game, overheard two drunks near them: "Do you think they can see us from here?" (A surprisingly useful saying).
Marvin, quoting a favorite teacher: "I'm tired, I'm ornery, and I don't want none of your whammy."
Great-Grandma Anna, hosting the pastor during the Depression (the boys hunted pheasants off-season, times were desperate): "Please pass the pheasant...chicken...rooster...hen!"

That's all for now, but if I collect more quotable quotes, I'll add them later.
Here's to the next generation, and an inheritance of words.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


 The top sheet goes on, aloft like a sail.

I keep meeting babies who know how to sleep through the night.
These babies are little, much littler than Malachi.
Their mothers lay them down in their cribs at about seven p.m.,
and they conk right out.
I am in awe of this.

 Playing peek-a-boo with his big sister, as mommy tries to make the bed.

Last night was extra rough.
The baby was up his usual two or three times,
but when I changed his diaper at about one a.m., something went wrong,
and the sheets, blanket, his onesie and my pajamas all got wet.
I staggered around trying to clean things up just enough to get us to morning.
He was up a few more times, crying, which always means a new tooth.
I got up at about six, had my blessed cup of coffee, and then one more,
while Daddy slept next to Malachi.
By then the baby was sleeping peacefully.
Nights can be tough,
but mornings are beautiful.

For over two decades, Saturday has been the day for fresh sheets.
This week, it's Wednesday.
I love a made bed.

I also love a white bed.
When Malachi started co-sleeping
(which hadn't been the plan when he was born),
I was thankful for all my pillows.
I need a pillow to edge the bed,
one against my back,
at least one for my head.

This is my Grandma Lois's headboard.
When my cousin Sara saw it here for the first time,
she said in her gentle voice,
"Oh! Grandma's headboard!"
Then we looked at each other and we both began to cry.
The bed reminds me of my grandparents' habit of reading
a chapter of the Bible together every night,
and then praying for all their children and grandchildren.

Oh a clean bed at last.
The quilt is from a precious friend.
It's not only beautiful,
it's incredibly useful to have a throw blanket for naptime.

More peek-a-boo.

Someday I will be allowed to sleep through the night.
I've had four other babies,
and I'm not too worked up about it.
They all grow up,
and when that happens,
I always wish I had been more present during the blurred days of their infancy.
These hours with this last baby of mine,
I am soaking them up.
I am thankful for each one.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


 Picking raspberries

 It was a perfect morning for berrying.

 Four boxes for a pie.

I've been to two concerts this year,
which is about right for someone with a baby to think about.
The first one was by Ben Kyle, a local musician.
He decided to have small concerts in the living rooms of friends,
with audiences of fewer than 50 people.
A grand idea.

One of the songs I listen to most from his cd is called "Mercy."
This week I noticed an old note in my Bible, written at the top of Hebrews Chapter 4.
It read, "Mercy: God's tender regard for the misery of man, consequent of sin."

It seems sometimes that misery rules the day.
Sometimes my own misery makes me long for the cloak of mercy.
At other times, the misery of those I love
is so painful to watch,
I beg for mercy,
for God to stop the suffering.

Mercy isn't something to be begged.
God's mercy is His tender regard,
it's upon us all the time.
A covering, 
a cloud,
as present as the air we breathe.

Listen to Ben's song here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


 The card catalog, "Before."

Right before we had Malachi, my niece Nikki came over with her two boys, ages 1 1/2 and 3 1/2.
Nikki is very forthright, and she watched her boys getting into Nate's guitars,
my Japanese glass fishing floats, trays full of shells, 
and other myriad decorations.
She said, "Wow, Laura, you are gonna have to change your whole house when the baby gets here."
So, the time has come.

 The card catalog, "During."

 The card catalog, "After."

 The coffee table, "Before."

 The coffee table, "After."

 The sofa table, "Before."
(By the way, for those who read my last post, this table cost $3 at a garage sale.
 It needed black paint to be house-worthy.)
 The sofa table, "After."

Some of the antlers ended up on the mantel.
I like how they echo the waves of of the ocean in the clipper lithograph behind them.
The fishing floats in mint julep cups remind me of ice-cream cones.
Their amber, blue and green also pick up the colors of the ship picture.
The frame on the lithograph was my anniversary gift from Nate.
What still bugs me on this mantel is the fake ivy in the urns.
I want to get rosemary topiaries, probably in the same urns,
but I don't want the bother and expense of real plants.

The book is Two Years Before the Mast, which I haven't read yet.
Nate's mom got it for me at a thrift store.
I love to get rid of stuff,
but it's hard to resist old hard-covers.

Decorating advice from Malachi:
Almost always,
Less is more.

(This advice also applies to how to dress babies in 91-degree heat).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Advice for the Bride

We went to a wedding yesterday.
Seems like all our sons' friends are getting married.
When he heard that the wedding was in a barn, Nate insisted on wearing jeans.
I have learned to not pitch a fit about these things.

I regret not bringing the camera,
because the wedding was beautiful.
We sat on sheet-draped hay bales.
Wildflowers in tin pails decorated the "aisle."
We could hear a raccoon chirring in the woods nearby.

After the ceremony,
guests had about two hours to visit and play games while the food was being prepared.
(The most popular game was the bean-bag toss).
We were supposed to write down advice, verses, or encouraging words
and hang them from a little clothesline on the pergola.
I could not think of one thing to say.
Which is ridiculous, because I love to encourage and I dispense advice all too freely.
If this young couple asked me to decorate all their future homes,
and name every one of their future babies,
I would be perfectly comfortable with that.

But I thought about it.
And now, I have my words all ready.
This is just a partial list, but it's what comes to mind today.

1. Be kind.
Often, this means waiting a bit before you speak what's on your mind.
I regret almost everything I spoke in haste.
"A soft answer turns away wrath."

2. Do not allow money to master you.
The only way to control mammon, or the love of money, is to give it away.
Ideally, for Christians, this means tithing ten percent.
Now, I confess that if Nate and I tallied all our income from the last 25 years, we would likely find we fell short in this. And our recent Seven Years of Leanness have made it difficult to plan for giving. But we have found, over and over, that when we give out of obedience, we receive unexpected rewards. Sometimes these rewards are financial. Sometimes they are something better, a peace that covers us because we have done this crazy, holy thing called giving.

3. Buy once.
You're at the beginning of your life together.
That means you may have 75 years of consumerism before you.
 If you're like us, you will buy hundreds of items that you later regret. Some of those purchases are unavoidable. You'll need cars, appliances, insurance, clothing, and a place to live. All those things are continual expenses.
But there are other purchases that should be one-time and done.
Your silverware should last a lifetime.
Get three or four excellent knives, and a simple knife sharpener, and that's all you'll need for cooking.
Find pots and pans that last, and buy them as you can afford them. (I have a mish-mash of Le Creuset, All-Clad, and one cheap $13 pot from Marshall's that works great for mac and cheese).
Hard furnishings (dressers, tables, everything that's not upholstered) should also hold up forever. Buy cheap, at garage sales and occasional shops, and you won't beat yourself up when you get sick of things and decide to replace them. As you figure out your taste, you'll make fewer mistakes, and then you can spend a little more. I have a friend who bought an expensive bedroom set at Ethan Allen, I think it cost about $5000. Now she wants something different, and she can't get rid of the bedroom set because that $5000 is a ball and chain.
Soft furnishings (everything upholstered, mostly your sofa) can be bought piecemeal. I happen to like a collected look, not a living room that looks like a furniture store. So our sofa is an antique from my parents, who received it free from old neighbors. We've had it upholstered twice during our marriage. Our two big living room chairs are from IKEA. I am a big fan of IKEA, but not everybody likes that much cheapness. All I can tell you is that if you're looking for beautiful soft furnishings, start there.

4. Pray together every day.
Yep, back to serious stuff. We learned this in our Married for Life class (sometimes called 2=1). When you pray together, you immediately and powerfully destroy the Enemy's barrage against you. Pray out loud. When you feel led, pray on your knees. If one of you wants to pray, and the other one is too hurt or angry to do so, the one who wants to pray should still pray, and you should still be near each other. But start with confession and forgiveness. The hurt person usually has good reason for being hurt.

Well, that's it for now.
I could write so much more, but Malachi is awake and he is not entirely happy.
He is getting a two-year molar!
It's early, and it's painful, and it's giving both of us sleepless nights.
In the picture of Nate and the baby and me,
Malachi is wearing Caleb's old sailor suit.
It's twenty-one years old.
So I guess that's my last piece of advice:
Don't get rid of all the baby clothes.

Monday, July 8, 2013


 Our vintage 48-star flag
The blue field is on the left (as it should be)
when viewed from outside the house.

Having a toddler has thrown me for a loop.
We have baby-proofed much of the house, but usually when I put Malachi on the floor,
he immediately crawls to me as fast as he can and starts to climb up my leg.
So instead of spending my summer gardening and reading and soaking up summer's goodness,
I'm either holding my baby, or asking one of the girls to watch him, 
or tiptoeing, shushing all the others, during his naptime.
I can't help but remember when Isaac was this age, and I was nine months pregnant with Caleb, 
and life was much more difficult.
We didn't have air conditioning, for starters.
I didn't have my daughters for company.
Nate didn't have a cell phone, so he couldn't let me know when he'd be home late.
So I'm not complaining.
Life is good.
And summer is more than good.

We got out berry-picking just one time.
Julia works at the berry farm, so she can bring berries home when I need them.

Anna Kate's Fourth of July cupcakes.

The nasturtiums have bloomed!
They love this muggy heat.

On the thick steamy days, such as yesterday and today,
I go out to water my flowers in the late afternoon.
Some of them are nodding their heads toward the ground,
Exhausted and dry.
They get their watering,
and then I water my hot, dirty feet.
I don't tire of this refreshment.
I could stand there forever,
washing my feet with the cool hose water.
But there's a little guy in the house,
and two big sisters who probably want me to come in and take care of him.

 Our Fourth of July outside dinner.

 All five kids were home!
Mama was happy.

Nate and the boys played disk golf on the Fourth.
Lots of practice time around here lately.

When my day is almost done, and it's time for Malachi to go to bed, 
I get him snuggled in,
and I stay near him and grab a book.
It's a beautiful time, if he goes to sleep well.
I get to read, usually for the first time all day.
Last night I started reading Ben Carson's book, Gifted Hands.
I'm using a Kleenex as a bookmark.
That's how much I'm crying while reading this story.

What we read is a refreshment too,
something like the washing of feet.

 "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." James 3:17

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rhubarb Pie Bars

I was inspired by the Rhubarb Hand Pies on the Smitten Kitchen blog,
but the more I thought about making them,
the more tired I got.
I decided to make a bar pan recipe, using rhubarb and cream cheese.
They turned out almost perfectly.
They're like a lemon-rhubarb cheesecake with a shortbread crust.
They didn't have that mouth-puckering dry quality that some rhubarb desserts have.
They were delicious, tart, and not too sweet.
The only problem was the powdered sugar that we sifted on top of the bars
got absorbed quickly, leaving powdered-sugar splotches here and there.
It's probably best to sift the powdered sugar on top right before serving.

 Fourth of July banner by Anna Kate.

I measure the flour scant, so the crust can be spread with a spatula.
If the dough is more crumbly, you can just dump it into the pan and press it into place with lightly floured hands.

This is how they look when done,
a little brown around the edges.

Dusted with powdered sugar.

And gone by the end of the day!
I ate most of them.

Rhubarb Pie Bars

Preheat oven to 350.

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour (scant, or about 2 T. taken out)

Combine chilled butter (cut into small pieces), powdered sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Mix with pastry blender till mixture resembles fine little pebbles. Add a pinch of salt, stir to combine.

(OR mix softened butter and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl, mix on high till soft and fluffy, add flour and salt and stir till just combined. This will make a more spreadable dough).

Spread dough into bar pan (I like the Pampered Chef stoneware pan, which is an odd size: 10 1/2 x 16 inches)

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

While crust bakes, prepare filling.


8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
zest and juice from half a lemon (chop the zest finely first)

Beat cream cheese and sugar for about two minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasiionally.
Add vanilla, beat a little longer.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating for about a minute between each egg.
Add baking powder, mix in thoroughly.
Stir in rhubarb and the zest and juice of the lemon.

Pour the filling over the baked crust.

Reduce oven temp. to 325.
Bake till set and brown around the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool, cut into bars, dust with powdered sugar, serve and enjoy!

"And when it came to the pie--Mr. Perry, a neighbor of Laura's parents, tasted it first. Then he lifted the top crust, and reaching for the sugar bowl, spread sugar thickly over his piece of pie. 'That is the way I like it,' he said. 'If there is no sugar in the pie, then every fellow can sweeten his own as much as he likes without hurting the cook's feelings.'
....."Mr. Perry had made the meal a jolly one....Everyone laughed and talked and was very friendly, but Laura felt mortified about her pie without any sugar in it. She had been so hurried when she made the pies, but how could she have been so careless? Pieplant*  was so sour, that first taste must have been simply terrible."
(From The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder)


 Thanks to my daughter for watching the baby so I could post this!
Yesterday I was hollering for her from the basement, "Anna! Anna!"
--usually I call her Anna Kate--
and Malachi looked at me with the biggest smile, opened his mouth, and hollered,
Then he struggled to say it again, coming up with "Ahn" and :"Ah Ah."
It reminded me of how Isaac and Caleb used to cry for my sister Anna.
She was often here during the summer, and one year when she had just left for Peru,
Isaac cried "Na! Na!"
over and over from his crib.
Guess she was the rescuer of crib-bound babies.