An Open Letter To A Blocked Friend

I know you think I’m a horrible person, although you used to call me your best friend. To be honest, I was never really comfortable with that title. I guess, by default, I was your best friend because you had driven away everyone else. Hold on before you claim that I’m lying, because you told me this yourself on several occasions. I truly am sorry that you are having troubles in your life, but I have problems of my own to deal with. As I have said before, so many times, I cannot be your therapist. Surely I cannot be the only person that has suggested you seek professional help from someone with the tools to give you the help you need. Let me be clear: there is no doubt that you need more help than you are accepting.

A friendship is a relationship that is more than one person dominating the other. That’s not how any relationship is supposed to work. If you haven’t already deleted all the texts between us, perhaps you should look them over. If you can be honest with yourself, you will see that I really tried to help you. It’s a shame that you were too busy telling me how to live by the rules you say you believe in. When I tell you, as I have so many times and in so many ways, that I think a large part of your problems are created by trying to live by rules you don’t truly agree with, maybe this time you will hear me. Unfortunately, your desperation to be liked is far too needy and only proves to do the opposite of what you want. You have told me that you want to be liked for who you are. Do you even know who that is?

Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely. When you are alone, it gives you a chance to see who you really are. It’s easy to be with someone you like. If you can’t stand to be alone with yourself, what does that tell you? Why should you expect others to like you more than you like yourself? Forcing people to act the way you expect in order for you to accept them as a friend, makes you a bully. You act as if I should always put your needs above everyone else in my life, including myself. That’s simply not fair.

The truth is that we never knew each other very well. If it weren’t for social media, we wouldn’t know each other at all at this point in our lives. In fact, you still don’t really know me. You are far too judgmental for me to ever feel comfortable enough to open up to you. Making assumptions about someone is not the same as listening. Even when it’s in text. Right there. Written out in plain English, yet totally avoided. Unacceptable, to use your favorite word. Yet, one last time, I make an attempt to reach out.

It is far too stressful for me to be your friend. Everyone in my life has convinced me that it has been causing me more problems than I can handle. Yet, I still care about you. It is not within my nature to be mean to someone who is so obviously hurting. I have tried to help you for years. For the last several months I have tried to tell you how I feel. I have anguished over this final decision to block you from my life. I still find it very sad that I had to take such a drastic step, but I am exhausted. Physically and emotionally exhausted.

Hopefully some day you will be the someone you can love. Perhaps then you can get past all the things you use to build your wall against the world, and be happy. Yes, even now, I still want you to be happy. You can choose to see the good in life instead of focusing on the negative. If your life isn’t working the way you want, make changes. Don’t hide behind excuses all the time. Be honest with yourself. Think before you try to communicate. Even if you fail, at least you tried. As for me, I know that I tried as hard and long as I could.

I honestly wish you well. If only it was that easy.

Good bye and good luck.

Wist Lists

Christmas Wish _ Black America WebAh, the holidays. I love the decorations, the lights, the goodies, and all the fun. What I don’t like, is the asking for things. I’ve never been very good at that. Pretty much since I stopped sending letters to Santa, I have hated making a wish list. Even for my birthday. I downplay my birthday every year. Not because of my age, but because I don’t want the fuss. It’s just a block I have. Of course, I’m a pretty unusual woman to begin with. Can I admit that I don’t like shopping? Yup. It’s true. Even as a teenager, I have never liked heading to the mall. I know I’m not alone in this, but we are definitely in the minority.

I do, however, like gift giving. I love seeing someone’s face light up with excitement when you get them something amazing. Especially if they weren’t expecting it! So much fun! Even better with older kids and adults. Like the time I got my husband a T-Shirt which was signed by an actor we like. He was completely blown away! In fact, the most memorable gifts I can remember, are ones that didn’t necessarily cost a lot, but were things that came of a casual conversation or other moment in our lives. Something that shows that you truly listened. Like the time my young son decided to buy some speakers for my car as mine had just started going out. With his own money. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of how sweet he is. Kids mothers day gift_ _ Preschool fun _ Pinterest

Speaking of my son and husband, they have both been bugging me to fill out a wish list. I agonize over it, knowing that my son will want to spend money on me again. The thought alone warms my heart enough. When he was young, the little things he made were the gifts I treasured most, and still do, but he’s a teenager now. At one point, years ago, my husband made an excellent point. As much as I love giving, I need to find a way to make it easier for them to give in return. He is, after all, my son and has the same big heart that I do. Aww… OK, that’s true.

So, now we all add some items to our wish lists every year. Mine is the smallest among us, because I still can’t get myself to ask for too much. I really don’t need a lot of things. I’m actually trying to reduce our clutter rather than add to it. There are some things I’m thinking of adding to it. Like time with my son baking cookies for the holidays. Perhaps more time playing with my niece and nephew. How about good health and less stress for everyone? Yeah, that would be nice. Peace on earth sounds like a great deal, but it seems too big a job since it hasn’t happened after all the wishes already made. Perhaps if we all think a little more locally rather than globally. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money, effort, or time, but there are little things we can do for each other every day. Smile at people. Hold open a door for someone. Actually listen. Think before you speak. Put others needs ahead of your own. Make something. Spend time helping. Do things that actually help others.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the ___This year, I’m making a list for myself to complete. It may take longer than just through the holidays, but that’s OK. It can be a revolving list that I keep adding onto. A “good will” list of sorts. The items included will be things I can do to generate happiness. I will make goody bags of homemade treats for our friends, neighbors, and clients. I will make ecards for everyone I know, and send each one with a personalized message. I will get my son in the kitchen more often, and teach him how to make his favorite meals. I will check in on my elderly neighbor more often. I will invite people over for dinner more. I will follow my passions. I will shop small as much as possible. I will support my friends and neighbors more. I’m going to let go of things I don’t need any more. Like stress and the causes of it. At least I can try! Just a bit of effort in the right directions. It certainly can’t hurt. I believe in the saying: Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Have Snickerdoodlesyou ever had a snickerdoodle cookie before? Not just a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon and sugar, but the kind with the little ‘bite’ to it? A slight tang you can’t quite identify? Those would be the delicacies that originated in Germany. My Grandma made these cookies every year for Christmas. Today, I am sharing our family recipe, including my Grandma’s secret ingredient, with you! Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt


2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Dash allspice


Mix butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Mix, thoroughly, into wet ingredients.

Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll dough into balls the size of small walnuts (about 1″ in diameter.)

Mix extra sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in small bowl.

Roll dough balls in mixture, until fully covered, and place on ungreased cookie sheet, about 2″ apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned but soft. Cool for 2 minutes on pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup

I grew up without a regular religious routine. I know that may seem strange and shocking to many of you, but it seemed like the freedom to explore religion in general to me. As I went to different cultural and religious ceremonies throughout the years, I became curious about the differences…and similarities. I’m not here to debate which religion is the best or most right. I don’t have all the answers. I do, however, have my own opinions based on learning and experience. I will say that all religions have at least one thing about them that strikes me as being true.

That being said, part of learning about culture, heritage, and religion is experiencing the traditional foods. This has always been, of course, my favorite part. You really learn a lot when you examine the food that defines a group of people. The history that is passed down with a recipe is often overlooked in the wake of tradition. However, using what was available to feed those you care about, has always been the basis of family.


My Step-Dad’s family is Jewish. I grew up enjoying latkes, kugel, bagels, and matzo ball soup. Eventually I moved to San Francisco. After growing up in a small town, the big city was exciting! So many amazing restaurants to try! Most of my favorite places were, and still are, little hole-in-the-wall dives. Literally. There are so many buildings crammed into that one area that they usually share walls and seem like one big building from block to block. The spaces run lengthwise from the street back and always feel narrow. But, that’s part of the charm. You can find the really authentic food at the small places too. There was a Jewish deli that I would visit as often as I could get to that neighborhood, and I always had to get a knish. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Every once in a while, I would visit the more upscale, and expensive, eateries. Blissfully savoring each morsel, trying to lock each flavor into my memory. Yes, they really were that good. I really learned to appreciate food then. Not just for sustenance, but as the creation of a memory. I think that’s why I love cooking and baking so much. Creating taste sensations that strikes an emotion. OK…now, I’m thinking of the scenes in ‘Ratatouille’ where Remy shows his brother how different flavors mixed together  an create something magical. That’s how it feels when someone loves something you have made. Though, it’s not easy to come up with a truly unique recipe all the time, taking an existing recipe and making it unique is pretty fun! Sometimes, I find shortcuts to make my life easier, without sacrificing quality, or substitutions that take the recipe to a whole new level. Especially healthier options!

Once I found the kosher aisle in the grocery, I realized that I could easily make chicken soup at home and use the handy-dandy matzo ball mix to make the star of the dish! Life just got easier…and more delicious! Eventually, I had a child of my own, and one time we ended up with a massive cold we kept passing around like a hot potato. In my fevered need to make us chicken soup, I also found that some stores have pre-chopped vegetables. When you are sick yourself, it’s like finding the proverbial pot of gold! If your vegetables are still raw, I suggest sautéing then in a little oil before adding the broth. These days, I use pre-cut frozen veggies (usually my own celery, carrots, onions, and garlic) and those handy cartons of broth. There are also some excellent concentrates, but even a powdered chicken broth will work. It really depends on your preference and budget. Really, you can eat very well on a skimpy income. I also add a chicken breast or two (you actually don’t need a lot) to the broth while it boils. Both the chicken and the51xTaGWr3jL._AC_UL320_SR218,320_ broth will be enhanced by this process. Sounds pretty easy so far right? Frozen veggies, chicken, and broth in a pot and heat to boiling. Let the chicken cook in the liquid the whole time. Seriously. You really can’t overcook it in the liquid, but do make sure the broth covers it completely. I use Manischewitz for the matzo ball mix. Not only because it is a long-time trusted name in the Jewish community, but also because they sell the matzo ball mix without the powdered broth packet. I make my own soup, so I’d rather have double the matzo mix than a packet I won’t be using. Follow the directions on the box for making the matzo balls. The size is, really, up to you. I tend to make mine small; about 1″ around. This allows them to cook easier as they have a bit more room to move around in the liquid. Whatever size you choose, make them as even as possible so that they all finish at the same time. When the soup is finished cooking, I turn the heat off and remove the chicken into a separate bowl. Then, I take two sturdy, metal, serving forks and shred the chicken meat into tiny slivers. Add the meat back into the pot and stir. Voila! Dinner is ready!

After Thanksgiving (twice,) I knew we would be wanting a lighter meal, and remembered how much we love chicken and matzo ball soup. I always end up making a lot of soup, plus we had leftover pie, so we invited my SIL and her family over for dinner. I have to admit to being a little sneaky here. I just told her that I was making chicken soup. I wasn’t sure how they would react to trying something that sounded so different, and didn’t want the kids to decide ahead of time that they weren’t going to like it. So, I emphasized the pie and didn’t elaborate on the soup. If you have never tried this dish before, they are like dumplings, only lighter and fluffier, as well as seasoned a little more. By the time they got to our house, thanks to a dawdling three-year-old, we were all starving and dug right in! Imagine their faces when even their pickiest eaters loved it! It really is true: you’ll never know what you like, until you try!

Puffed Apple Pancakes

FontCandy (25) There are a few restaurants that serve this breakfast (also known as a German apple pancake), but my memories of this dish are from my Grandma’s house when I was little. Sometimes, she would make a chocolate version! Oddly, the recipe I use was given to me for a gourmet foods class I took in high school. Not a Home Economics class, but an actual cooking class, which I loved.

Though amazingly impressive, it’s actually quite easy to make. For me, the most difficult part is preparing the apples…which really isn’t difficult at all, just time consuming. I highly recommend you try this at least once though, as it is worth every effort!

Depending on the size of the pan (mine is a 10″) the pancake may have a slightly different texture. I have had ones in restaurants that were fairly dense and much more moist. Though good, they tend to make me feel that they aren’t fully cooked. The one I made yesterday, for a birthday brunch for both my son and I, was light and fluffy! I warn you now that you may have to make more than one of these! Though they spread over a platter, you will have lots of requests for more!

Puffed Apple Pancake 

Apple Filling:

3-4 granny smith (green) apples

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash allspice

Dash nutmeg


3 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons butter

Apple Filling Directions:

  1. Peel, core, and slice apples thin.
  2. Melt butter in large pan, add apples, sugar, and spices.
  3. Sauté, stirring frequently, until tender – about 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside until pancake is ready.

Pancake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 and heat large (oven proof) iron skillet over medium high, until hot but not smoking.
  2. Beat eggs, milk, flour, and salt with mixer until smooth.
  3. Melt butter in pan, tilt to coat pan.
  4. Add batter, quickly tilt pan to spread batter evenly, and place pan in hot oven for 15 minutes. If pancake puffs, you can break it with a fork or knife.
  5. After 15 minutes, turn oven temp down to 350 for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, slide pancake to serving platter, and top with apple filling. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired.

The Easiest Spiced Apple Cider

Warm Spiced Apple Cider - One of our favorite fall treats! Great for parties and always enjoyed by trick or treaters (and parents) on cold Halloween nights!

Warm Spiced Apple Cider – One of our favorite fall treats! Great for parties and always enjoyed by trick or treaters (and parents) on cold Halloween nights!

I wanted to share with you the best spiced apple cider recipe ever. It’s so easy you’ll laugh, but tastes like something from a gourmet cooking store (we won’t name any names, but this cider has been compared to the best.) When serving, directly from the slow cooker you make it in, leave the lid off and the heat on low. This keeps it a perfect temp for drinking!

We make this every year for Halloween to give out to those roaming the streets in search of treats. I post a sign on the door letting people know they can ask for a cup, and leave the recycle bin open at the end of the driveway. The delicious smell has been known to affect people standing on the sidewalk! This also makes a wonderful addition to any Fall party. Just be sure to have lots of extra apple juice on hand to keep topping it off throughout the night!

Spiced Apple Cider


Orange, cut into rounds

Whole cinnamon sticks (1-4)

Whole cloves (4-8)

Apple juice (any kind)


Place orange rounds, cinnamon sticks, and cloves (adjust amounts to taste – I usually use two orange rounds, two small cinnamon sticks, and four cloves in a small slow cooker) then add juice up to about an inch from the top. Heat with lid on until hot; a couple of hours. Leave the lid off to serve. When using for a party, leave a ladle and cups next to the slow cooker so everyone can serve themselves.

Breakfast Biscuits with a Healthy Twist

Cheese Bacon BiscuitsBaking from scratch is extremely time consuming, but definitely worth all the effort! Yet, biscuits are one of the easiest breakfast to make. Especially when you have no time in the morning. These cheese and bacon biscuits are light and flaky, even with shreds of sharp cheddar and bacon bits floating throughout each delicate bite. Warm from the oven dripping with butter, they make the perfect accompaniment to eggs. My son also loves to grab them straight from the cupboard for a snack. With all the added preservatives and extras I can never pronounce, I like to make my families’ go-to food as much as possible.

What makes these biscuits healthier? Well, I used turkey bacon and 2% Turkey Baconmilk sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe. Does it make any difference in how the biscuits taste? Really, no. Turkey bacon does have a slightly different flavor, but when it’s cooked up, nice and crispy, and crumbled into tiny bits, we’re talking about total deliciousness! The true test though, is that my pickiest eaters gobble them up.

Cheese & Bacon Biscuits


9 ounces (1 cup+2 tablespoons) water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (made with 2% milk)

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

3 tablespoons (turkey) bacon bits


*Note: I made my dough in my bread maker. If you have one, I highly recommend using the dough setting to do the hard work of mixing, kneading, and rising. If you don’t have one, here is a wonderful tutorial made by a friend of mine:

Cut the bacon into small strips (I used scissors to cut the slices directly into the pan.)

Cook while stirring, until crispy and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Crispy BaconAdd each ingredient in order except the bacon. Start the bread maker on the dough setting and set a timer for 35 minutes (into the hour and a half dough timer.) Once the bacon has cooled, break into smaller pieces. At the 35 minute mark, add the bacon bits to the dough.

Once the dough has finished, remove from the bread maker pan onto a floured board. Dough BallsRoll dough into an even shape, cut into small pieces (about 18-20,) and roll each into a ball. Place balls of dough onto a greased pan, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned. Don’t worry about the sides (especially if they grew together,) judge by the top color.  Cool on a wire rack. They should last a least a week in a sealed container, but they never last long enough in my house to tell.

Browned Biscuits     Bottom Biscuits

Carnitas is Pork Deliciousness!

Okay, this is a weird one. The ingredients sound strange, but the end result is nothing short of amazing! If you’ve ever had them in a restaurant, this recipe will taste very familiar. The bonus is that you can make this in a crock pot, as the meat should be braised (slow cooked, in some liquid.)

The recipe that I started with, I found standing in line at the grocery store. Those smarties placed a board with the recipe above an open cooler with a bunch of roasts that were SUCH a good deal that it was too hard to resist. Plus, I really like carnitas and had not had it in a while.

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Carnitas Tacos


3 1/2 pound pork butt

1 – 12oz can cola

1 onion, peeled and quartered

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 orange

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons dried cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

Salt & pepper, to taste


1) Place ingredients in crock pot, cover with spices, lime juice, and cola. Cut orange and squeeze orange and place into crock pot. Cook on high 4-5 hours.

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2) Once pork is cooked tender, strain out solids, and place pork on cutting board [to rest] and pour liquid into a medium pot to simmer for 15 minutes, or until reduced to 1 1/2 cups.

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3) Preheat broiler, trim fat from pork and discard. Cut pork into 1 inch chunks. Mix with reduced liquid and broil on foil lined baking sheet in center rack 5-10 minutes, until browned.

4) Serve hot with your favorite taco fixings.

Serves 8


* Some things I did differently were to put the onion and garlic under the pork (to keep the meat off the direct heat source,) use a small lime instead of the lime juice (cut and squeezed onto the meat, like the orange,) shredded the pork (instead of cutting it into chunks,) and skipped the final broiler stage (but mixed the liquid with the meat before serving) as we were too hungry from the smells to wait any longer. Seriously, you have to try this!

Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

Easily one of the most interesting ways to cook chicken. Never tried it? You should! I’ve used this recipe many times with various ingredients and it has always produced the same result – a flavorful and juicy bird that falls apart. Even if you don’t like beer or alcohol in general, don’t shy away from this method of cooking chicken. I have used soda with equally excellent results. In fact, in a pinch even water in a can would work – but be sure to add some herbs to the liquid to increase the subtle flavoring of the meat from the inside. I love how the cooking time is extremely shortened (a 5 pound chicken will cook in a little over an hour) and that you can actually get more meat out of pulling it apart than by cutting the edible parts away from the bones.

Here is the basic recipe that I found online, and the tips I found useful. Enjoy!


1 (4-pound) whole chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Dry spice rub

1 12-ounce can beer


  1. Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.
  1. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.
  1. Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can.
  1. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.
  1. Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

* This can also be done in a 375 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.

Source:Bob Blumer

** Practical tips from Jana:

Put a potato, apple, onion, or lemon (whole or part) in the neck cavity and pull the skin back over it. Sometimes I’ll pin it with a toothpick. This helps keep the vapors inside the chicken for more flavor and faster, more even, cooking.

You can use soda instead of beer. The flavor is subtle, so any liquid in a can will work. Add a clove or two of garlic and some herbs to the liquid for more flavor. Don’t have a can of anything handy? Take an empty 12-ounce can, rinse it out, and add any liquid you like.

Place a pan (lined with foil for easier clean up) under the bird for more stability and to keep as much of the liquid from spilling onto the flames as possible and keeps the heat indirect. Make sure the lid doesn’t touch the chicken.

McCormick makes some great rubs (my favorite is Montréal Chicken Rub.) You can also make a basic rub using: Kosher salt, ground black pepper, paprika, and brown sugar in equal parts, plus some garlic powder and onion powder.

Company’s Coming!


Everyone who likes to eat, should know how to cook. Once you have the basics down, it’s a good idea to learn an impressive dish or two for special occasions. Here is a dish that you have probably tasted, or at least heard of, but never thought you could make at home. The first time I tried it, was at a friend’s house. He and his wife were a young family on a tight budget, and this was just something he whipped up while we were standing around their kitchen, watching our kids toddle after the dog, nibbling on snacks, and drinking wine. One of the reasons that I love this dish is the all the wonderful memories attached. Since then, I have tried many recipes for this dish, and eventually melded them into my own–which I now share with you. Enjoy!

Chicken Marsala


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts-pounded thin and cut in halves or pieces

1/2 cup flour (or just enough to coat)

Creole seasoning (or salt & pepper) to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons of butter

3 cups sliced mushrooms (white or cremini)

1 1/2 cups Marsala wine

2 cups chicken stock (or broth)


  1. In a plastic (locking) bag, combine flour and seasonings. Add the chicken and shake to coat. WP_20150207_17_17_24_Pro
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high, until hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of butter until melted, then add the chicken so the sides aren’t touching. Cook until browned on both sides. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add 1 more tablespoon of butter to the pan, then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned and have given most of their liquid. WP_20150207_17_56_39_Pro
  4. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any bits of chicken or mushroom stuck to the bottom of the pan. The wine will help with the release of the food. WP_20150207_18_03_52_Pro
  5. When the wine has reduced by half, and the alcohol smell has burned off, add the chicken stock. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  6. Lower the heat to medium, and return the chicken to the pan. Continue to cook until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce has thickened enough to coat a spoon. For best results, best to not stir too much in this last stage.
  7. At this point, you can add the last 2 tablespoons of butter, but I have forgotten this part several times with no real difference in taste.

A deliciously rich meal, that won’t break your budget. Perfect for anyone who wants to impress that special someone.