First time out in 13 months! 4/8/21

John and I planned a treat for ourselves and went out to lunch, dinner, and stayed over at hotel for the first time since February, 2020. I have to admit that not being able to go to restaurants for over a year probably helped a lot with staying on a diet but now that we are semi-free to do so, I have to figure out strategies to make good choices.

Since we were scheduled for a wine tasting at Imagery we decided to go to Salt and Stone in Kenwood first. For lunch I ordered mussels and John ordered octopus. Seafood, as a long as it is not fried, is always a good choice. Giving John my bread is also a successful strategy for me but probably not for him.

Pretty outdoor setting at Salt and Stone
John with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Mary with a glass Chenin Blanc
John’s grilled octopus
Mary’s mussels

Our lunch was followed by a wine tasting at Imagery Winery. We sat outside and it was a perfect Spring day to do it. Flowers were blooming everywhere and the temperature was just right.

John and poppies at Imagery
Mary at the winery
Tasting menu

After our tasting we made our way to the BW Sonoma to check in, have a little rest, and get cleaned up for dinner. The hotel is very near the square in Sonoma and it is an easy walk to EDGE, the restaurant associated with Stone Edge Winery.

We had a four course meal paired with wines which had us eating hamachi, a salad, halibut, and buttermilk ice cream. Of course these were not simply the item on a plate but each course was carefully prepared with delicious accompaniments.

Dining outdoors at EDGE

It was so great to go out again. We still need to be careful but now that we are vaccinated, we feel much safer than before. We are looking forward to more outings and travel soon.

Quick trip to St. George – November 5-17, 2017

Since the weather looks pretty fabulous in St. George and we will not be able to sneak in a trip in December, John and I decide on the spur of the moment to make our way to St. George.

I think the biggest difference in this trip is that I am trying Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before Six, a new way of thinking about how you eat and the impact you can have on the environment. So most of this post will be about new dishes I am trying out. In addition to shopping and eating John and I manage to get in some tennis every other day until my back just says, Enough!

First, finding decent vegan food on the road is not an easy task. Using YELP! We stop at Hummus Express in Bakersfield. The food is pretty oily but tasty.

Looking out at the golden hills and aqueduct along I-5. We are eager for rain.
Stopping at Hummus Express in Bakersfield, I order hummus with pita and tabbouleh

Mostly my days in St. George are vegan for breakfast and lunch and whatever for dinner but occasionally I manage to construct an entire vegan day. Some dishes I made –

Lunch – Spaghetti with vegetgables
Lunch – Root vegetable soup with tofu cubes dusted with flaxseed
Dinner – chickpea stew with ditalini and greens
Time for an white egret break!
Cauliflower soup for lunch
The unattractive parsley soup that I tried to make more palatable with the addition of carrots

The days pass by quickly and we need to get home for Thanksgiving so face the challenge of finding better food on the road. Eureka! We find an excellent Mediterrean restaurant, Mr. Kabob, in Barstow. It is kind of a hole in the wall but has some excellent dishes.

At Mr. Kabob’s in Barstow I have excellent eggplant with peppers and onions, roasted tomato, and green rice.



Five years ago John and I started what would ultimately be called “the long diet.” The long diet was very successful with John losing about 45 pounds and me losing about 70. We became fit and healthy and it was all good. The bad thing about being on a long diet or any kind of diet is that you are either on it or you are off. So at the end of the long diet we celebrated for three years enjoying the old unhealthy way we used to eat. Of course we gained back all the weight we had lost. But we did keep exercising so that’s a plus.

So now we are starting the NHLS. That is, the new healthy life style. See, not a diet. And although this is exactly the same thing we did last time, because it is a lifestyle and not a diet when we are slim and healthy again we will just continue to do it. “Yeah, sure,” I can hear you saying. But if you can’t trick yourself into believing that this is the last, last time you will have to deprive yourself of all the things you love to eat, how will you ever accomplish it?

In preparation for the NHLS we have eaten everything that we will never eat again. Well, at least not in the quantities that we would like to eat it. There’s been pizza, margaritas, all kinds of chips, dips, hot dogs, cheese, crackers, potstickers, platesful of spaghetti, just a surfeit of yummy goodies. (As an aside, truly the best potato chips ever are the Cape Cod russets.) It is amazing we have not killed ourselves getting ready.

So how’s it going? This is only day 2 but we are off to a good start. We ate lobster tails last night with snow peas and some rice. We had a little wine at cocktail time with some popcorn. We rode bikes and played tennis. Took a nap. Drank gallons of water. This NHLS is not too bad! And here’s a helpful hint for anyone who starting out on their NHLS, a pickle is like a treat that doesn’t count.

Gratuitous Eating

Why is it we eat too much or eat things we don’t really like in social situations? Especially at family gatherings. I think if you’ve grown up in a family where food is a big part of the love equation, it is very difficult to turn down a taste of this, a spoonful of that. Oh, we must have the Cape Cod chips and the Frito scoops and the chopped liver and the fine wines because it will show how much we care about each other. How can you pass these things up? They are especially for you. Hey, I don’t have an answer for this because I’ve just spent a weekend being loved a lot with food and loving it.

A small deception

I know that I will regret admitting this. When I was a little girl, I loved dessert. At our house, we used to have a breadman who came every day or so with a kind of foldout case full of breads and sweets. He worked for a bakery called Dugan’s. They sold these cupcakes that had about a quarter inch of solidified sugary icing on top. Did I eat the cupcake? No, I peeled the icing off and just ate that. When Peggy and I went to Chamber’s Drug Store, I always got a chocolate ice cream cone. At Newberry’s, chocolate milk shakes. At the beach, a bottle of YooHoo.

But if you ask people who know me, they will say, Mary doesn’t like dessert and she doesn’t like chocolate. Well, of course I do. But as an adult and always on a diet, I started telling people that I don’t like dessert or chocolate or anything sweet. I’ve done this for years and years. Now people don’t offer it to me anymore. It makes things so much easier. The strange thing is, though, I’ve sort of convinced myself. Now I just need to start telling people that I don’t like chips.

Not Kevin or Sir Francis

What is more seductive than the smell of bacon? Ah, pork fat. Alas, you sigh, not really a part of a healthy diet. But I’ll bet that just reading these few short sentences have you imagining the aroma and crisp fattiness of bacon. When I was a kid I loved bacon sandwiches on squishy, untoasted white bread. The bread was dotted with clumps of butter which melted very slightly from the heat of the bacon. Stop! Back to diet tips! My point is, that any food can be part of a healthy diet as long as you don’t overdo it. Two slices of bacon are only about 90 calories. Yes, the fat content is high so you probably shouldn’t be eating it every day. I find, though, when I am craving a certain food, it is better to just go ahead and eat it rather than eat ten other things first trying to deny what I really want.


One way to make food exciting and even exotic is to use herbs. Buying herbs at the supermarket is often expensive. Growing your own is fun and much cheaper too. Even if you live in an apartment, you can put pots of herbs in the window. Although my backyard is fairly dark, I have oregano, mint, chives, sage and thyme growing. Ryan and Jonathan’s garden is out in the full sun and they have an amazing array of giant herbs. Jon makes excellent pesto with his basil. It’s good in Thai dishes as well. You can use Italian parsley with almost anything. A buttery sage sauce is a northern Italian delight. Mint for couscous. And I could go on and on. Really, there is nothing fresher and more satisfying than herbs you grow yourself.