I dream of Africa …

I long to go on safari anywhere in Africa. In 1986, I was a very impressionable seventeen year old. The movie “Out of Africa” – by Sydney Pollack with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford made an indelible mark on my life. It is my ‘Go To’ movie when I’m sick, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or if I’m suffering the painful pangs of wanderlust. I put it on and recite the lines before they are spoken. I have the soundtrack and each time the waltz plays my heart aches just a little. It’s like a cozy sweater and reminder to keep dreaming of Africa. If you click on this image you can listen for yourself.


Over the years I have had limited exposure to the foods of Africa. Growing up in southern Missouri did not afford many opportunities to experience real food and cultures of the continent. So, when we stayed at the Animal Kingdom resort I was thrilled to get some actual foods from Africa. I’ve even attempted to make a salsa they served for breakfast. It had dates, tomatoes, and onions. It was delicious.

Last week I was at Trader Joe’s and discovered a jar of Harissa Salsa. Ever the adventurer, I bought one. Tonight I am making a lentil and chicken dish with it. Chickpeas are a more commonly used bean for this I believe but I didn’t have any (plus they are not my favorite bean anyway). The salsa is tomato and cumin and a smoked chili flavor like chipotle but slightly different. It’s a bit spicy and a little bit will go a long way. TJ’s had organic multi-colored carrots and I used a purple carrot in it as well. Yummy! Try them!

The end result was delicious!


Here is the recipe I followed: Spicy Harissa Chicken with Lentiles 

I suppose the moral of this story is … even if you can’t GO on safari literally, you can go there gastronomically. One of the many wonderful things the internet has afforded us is exposure to the rest of the world. You can order almost anything from Amazon and recipes are there to be had if only you look. Eat the foods from around the world. There are SO many amazing spices, herbs and foods to be had. Experience as many of them as you can. Life is short, grab as much of it as you possibly can!


Disney – Kate Hepburn – Comfort Foods – Politics

The last year has been devoid of much that was personally interesting. Except this …

Magic Kingdom

I finally went to Disney World. D took me for my 48th birthday. Better late than never I suppose. It truly was magical. I felt like a kid.

I became too involved with politics and it’s consumed my enthusiasm. I’m so discouraged about the state of affairs that cooking and home has held little interest for me.

I really need to change that. I need to find the balance between caring about the world around me and not neglecting my hubby and home. It’s a challenge.

To that end. Yesterday I spent the day in the kitchen. I made my favorite chili which I’ve talked about already. To accompany the chili I made my own corn tortillas. They turned out okay. I suppose if I make them again I’ll add a bit of lime zest and cayenne to perk them up. They were fun and easy to make but just a bit bland.

Also, I baked brownies I in NO way needed. I derive such comfort from cooking a recipe that I know Kate Hepburn used herself. Every time I make that recipe I imagine her in a kitchen talking and baking. It’s comforting, very comforting.

Kates Brownies.png

If you have never made brownies from scratch before then you should. No boxed brownie ever tasted this good. Oh and do yourself a favor, go to Aldi’s and get some 70% Cocoa bars to use. It’s good quality chocolate and it’s affordable. It makes great brownies and especially ice cream. Oh the ice cream. Make the damn ice cream.

So, there you go. A blog post after more than a year. I am nothing if not inconsistent. It’s a trait I can’t seem to shake. Those who know me … well, they know.


Best Damn Chili, Ever. Seriously, So Good You’ll Make More!

As anyone who knows me will tell you I hate Fall. The reasons are obvious: leaves fall off trees, the world turns brown, I have to start wearing socks and sweatshirts, and the world is inundated with all things brown, gold, orange and PUMPKIN. Yes, cinnamon is awesome but come on people, do we have to put it in EVERYTHING? I’m a black coffee drinker, the thought of bastardizing my coffee with sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin is ludicrous. This year has been especially bad for me and I’m uncertain why that is the case. I get mad every time I see a pumpkin, jack-o-lantern or anything slightly “fall-like”. I may need professional assistance.

Anywho … there are a few good things about this time of year. One, my daisies bloom and since they are the happiest of flowers I get a few moments of pure joy just seeing them. Two: Honeycrisp apples are in season and they are like candy so I eat as many as freaking possible. And three: Soup is on the menu regularly. My husband is not a huge fan of soup unless it’s mostly meat. I prefer mine with little or no meat but I cater to his palate because, well, I love him and want to make him happy. Geezsh, what’s the world coming to?



HoneyCrisp Apples


Random photo of chili. I did not make this bowl. Mine was prettier and tastier … I just didn’t take a picture of it because it tasted too good to stop and take a pic.

So soup. I make a few and usually I’m not a huge fan of chili. It’s usually too meaty or beanie or chili-y. A few bites do and then I’m done. But last weekend I made some so good we couldn’t stop eating it and I’ve decided to make another batch this weekend and post the recipe here to share the love. I blame it on the beer and chocolate. RIGHT?

If you make this chili the way I have, you will be amazed. I could win a contest with this stuff I’m sure! So, here goes: write this down, print this out and do it. You won’t be sorry.

Chili a’laRachel – aka Chocolate Bourbon Chili


1 lb. – lean ground beef
1 lb. – ground pork
1 – medium onion, chopped
3 – small to medium sized garlic cloves, minced
2-4  cups – beef broth
1 cup – dark beer I used this stuff and WOW it’s good!

So good!

So good!

2 – fresh chili peppers (I used jalapeño peppers grown on my patio), minced
2 cans – diced tomatoes
2 cans – kidney beans
1 tsp – ground cumin
1 tsp – grown coriander
2 tbs – cocoa powder
2 tbs – paprika
2 tbs – chili powder (I used 2-Alarm)
1 tbs – masa powder (from 2-Alarm box)*
1 tsp – ancho chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

How to do this:

Get out your big dutch oven or soup cooking pan. Brown the pork then drain off the fat. Brown onions, peppers and ground beef in a bit of the remaining pork fat, throwing in the garlic at the end of browning process so it doesn’t get bitter. Add the dry spices and let it all kind of cook together so the aromas start to come out. Clear a space in the dutch oven and pour in the beer, letting it bubble off the alcohol a bit, then add the tomatoes, beans, and beef broth (as much as you like depending upon how soupy you want it). Let this stuff cook for NO LESS than an hour.

Now my peppers were pretty spicy. Depending upon your tastes, adjust accordingly. I like to sweat a little bit when I eat chili. Garnish with your favorites. I like cilantro and lime chili tortilla chips with a HUGE helping of pepper/jack cheese and sour cream. Do what you like and please let me know if you make this chili and what you think of it.

Note: I like the 2-Alarm Chili mix because it has no artificial ingredients or chemicals to keep it from clumping together. Real food is good food!

It’s Been One of Those Days . . .

My day started out promising. After six hours of uninterrupted sleep I woke to a sunny day with good coffee in the house and the blessing of endless possibilities at my disposal. I ate a sensible and healthy breakfast, did some work for my clients and donned my favorite yoga pants and t-shirt. My plan was to load up the kayak and head to Freeman Lake for a five mile hike and two mile kayak around the lake.

After a 30 minute fight with my stupid-ass ice machine which kept clogging and then dropping buckets of ice onto my floor I had a moment of inspiration. In an attempt to be frugal, I bought the cheapest re-usable water bottle possible. One which is not insulated and therefore lets your water get tepid if not hot. It may be overstatement to say I had and “epiphany” but it’s the little things in life that make us happy, right?

Put a Sock on It!

Put a Sock on It!

So, ya’ll know I love to garden. I’m a member of a gardening club and since I don’t have an actual garden space at my home and therefore have no specific location for composting. That doesn’t stop me from collecting my compostables in a bin and taking them to the garden club community bin. It’s not ideal but it soothes my conscience and helps the kiddies learn about gardening/recycling.

My plan was to stop by the garden club (across the street from my house), drop off the compost, head to the lake and do my healthy workout adventure. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

I forgot the compost bin was in my car, took a turn too fast and soon remembered it as the bin fell over dumping into my passenger floor. Brilliant. Nothing smells better than week old rotting fruits and vegetables. Mostly watermelon and oranges. Nice. Needless to say I made a u-turn and the rest of my day took a turn as well. On the bright side, I suppose my car did receive a much needed detail and now smells shiny and new.

By this time it was noon and I was famished. With lunch in the microwave I attempt to get ice for my water and the stupid-ass ice machine spits buckets of ice onto the floor AGAIN. Ugh. it took me another twenty minutes to sort it out. At which point a client calls and says she’s having a difficult time printing the brochure I’ve designed and I agree to come to her office and help her sort it out. Doesn’t happen. I don’t know how to help her because her printer is possessed. That’s the only solution I can come up with.

My client also asks if her last email from me was meant for her. In fact, no. It was meant for my lunch appoint tomorrow with a potential client. I race back home to correct my error and low and behold I re-send to another WRONG client. Only realizing this after I hit send. Argh!

Now, let’s have a conversation about aging and reading. My copy of “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson came yesterday.


And the title is appropriate. I was exactly that. My new plan was to set down and spend some quality time reading my favorite bloggers book, thinking it may help me be less frustrated with my day and this crazy world. It worked for a while. Then my eyes started getting tired. I kept seeing floaters drift into my periphery and in front of me. It was distracting and frustrating. I kept having to blink and look around. It wouldn’t be that bad if I could read in normal light or with my glasses. I have mono-vision contacts which decrease my need for “readers” but reading for long periods makes them swim around and my bifocal glasses are worthless. I end up trying to read sans correction with the book inches from my face. It’s not fun.

The frustrating part is I love to read. It’s my thing. My eyes do not. Since D and I have been married I have been listening to books on my iPhone. It’s nice because I can do other things like clean, drive, and cook but I miss books. I miss curling up and getting lost for hours on end. I miss holding the paper in my hands and bending the spine and just settling in.

So I took a long hot bath and read in the tub. Then I lay down for a nap and slept for two stinking hours. I proceeded to blow it at dinner. Arby’s, fries and wine. Don’t forget the gelato. No exercise. Bad food. Sleep. Pathetic.

D gets home late tonight and thanks to the nap and wine I will be up most of the night.

What did Scarlet say? I won’t  think about this right now, I’ll think about it tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day. Geezsh.


Lately, I have found abandoned buildings and ‘what not’ visually compelling. Photographer and artist Andre Govia takes photos of homes, castles or buildings that have been completely abandoned, completely furnished. There is an article about his photographs here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/photos-enter-an-abandoned-world-frozen-in-time/

Andre Govia abandoned planet 1024x712.jpg

Andre Govia
abandoned planet

What possesses a person to just up and leave? The worst of things probably. My guess is war, persecution, environmental or human created disasters would be the guilty parties. An oppressiveness radiates from the photos, a sadness and weariness.

For my part, I found this bench and felt sorry for it. Is that the right feeling? I don’t know but I wondered how it ended up in the middle of a gun range.


I took several photographs of it during the morning hours but as far as I know it was nearing noon so the light was bit too bright.


In Boston, Kentucky there is a farmhouse and property for sale. The farmhouse is falling into disrepair and a part of me wants to save it. I think it would be perfect as a bed and breakfast. It’s just so sad that it sets empty. I want to sneak into it and take pictures.


Gardening, Painting and Photographs

I found the perfect spot to plant basil. This year I planted it in an alcove between the garage and house. It gets late afternoon light and none too directly. Consequently, the two plants are plentiful and lush. A verdant abundance of aromatic joy. I will be making pesto and cabrese galore.


I’m still painting. I have done less this summer because there are other things to do. This week I have been down in the dumps because summer is nearing it’s end and a particular malady I am prone to keeps rearing it’s ugly head. Since I’ve been trapped inside I thought I should make use of my time by putting paint on canvas.


It would seem that I have an affinity for calves. Their big doey eyes just reel me in.


I also love ravens. Their sociability and intellect are amazing. I keep trying to paint them.


Owls are the rage too so I tried to paint one. I’m proud of this one too.

Lastly, photographs. I need to do more but this one makes me smile. Yes, it’s my Joe. I’m not a pro at any of these hobbies. I don’t suppose that’s the point though. I derive great pleasure from doing them, a certain amount of peace and contentment. One has to fill the time doing something productive. The state of the world will get you down. You have to find a way to keep sane, to put light and hope in the world. Hopefully, these efforts will radiate to the small part of the world I influence.


I could use a vacation.

We haven’t taken a vacation since our honeymoon in 2012. Granted that was to Europe but my need for the beach is endless and I yearn for a week near the water. I want to take my paint and pencils and just relax with a tasty beverage.

In 2007 I was fortunate enough to travel out of the country for the first time. My dear friends Trish and Tom got married in St. Kitts. It was breathtaking. I didn’t own a camera at the time and so I had to borrow a little digital one. I managed to take a few good pictures but the fact that my photos aren’t perfect doesn’t diminish my cherished memories of that time.

I’ve been trying to paint a landscape based upon a photo I took there. I have a lot of work to do but I think I’m off to a decent start. It’s probably not a good idea to post photos of my work before they’re finished.

St Kitts Turtle Bay

Oh well. Being home alone most of the time and wanting feedback leads me to put myself out there. It’s a thing.