St. Valentine

When so many of our holidays seem to be created by Hallmark to sell cards, this one goes back to ancient times to a celebration of Juno, the patroness of marriage and women. Her special day was February 14. So there was a pagan festival early on concerned with love. As the Christian religion took hold in Europe, the church officials wanted to do away with the pagan aspects of the festival. They gave the day a saint’s name. According to the History Channel this is why they chose St. Valentine.

“One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.”

Heart Healthy

This year for Valentine’s Day I am cooking a heart healthy meal. Really, what could be more caring? I would like to imagine us doddering off into our old age (many years from now, of course) with the best possible health. Today seems like an excellent day to start. So I am making the “Pan-Asian Menu for Winter Entertaining” from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. We will be having Gingered Carrot Soup, Curried Lentils with Caramelized Onions, Basmati Rice Pilaf, and Wilted Spinach Salad with Japanese Flavors. I’ll cut down on the fat in the recipes and use light coconut milk in the curry. Hopefully, it won’t affect the flavor. Since I am not the world’s best cook, I really hope this comes out well.



I often wonder why I just can’t keep my mouth shut. Someone says something. It’s not what I think. I know that this is a strongly held opinion on their part. Then the pressure inside my head starts building and, shazaam, out of my mouth comes my opinion. Almost always it is antithetic to their opinion. I guess that’s why I need to say it. It’s not so much that I think that their opinion will be changed; it’s more that I can’t let the moment go by without them knowing that my opinion is different. I guess I think if I just remain silent and pass up the opportunity to object, I will be tacitly supporting a position that I disagree with. Why can’t I let someone else just bask in the glow of their presumed rightness? I don’t know. My life would be more harmonious if I could do this. But I can’t.


Today, John, Sarah and I were sitting around discussing body parts. I said, if you have a palm, why isn’t there a word for the back of your hand? This discussion, as most discussions here at our house, continued on to why wasn’t there a name for the back of your knee or the inside of your elbow. The inside of your shoulder is your armpit or axilla, why not names for the rest of these neglected body parts. If you know what they are, please let me know.



The other day when I was writing about being too dependent, Jon wrote in saying that getting moving was the hardest part of any task. It made me think about tasks that I have a hard time getting started with. Number 1 would be anything that involves making a phone call. Really, doing things online has been a real blessing for me. Number 2 would be anything that has piled up. If I do my bookkeeping and filing as it arises, I have no problem. Or if I need to clean the countertops in the kitchen, that’s fine. But if I have three weeks of filing to do or the whole house to clean, I am frozen in place. The job seems so big that I can’t seem to get started. Really all it is, after all, is a series of small jobs all glommed together. But sometimes you can’t see the trees for the forest.

Slow Food

A week or so ago, I talked about eating more slowly. But that is not what “slow food” is about. Slow food is food that actually makes you eat more slowly and is low in calories as well. Probably the perfect dinner of slow food would be a whole steamed lobster and an artichoke. No butter allowed! Luckily, the first time I had these two yummy food items, they were served without butter so I find the whole butter experience sort of gilding the lily. It takes a long time to crack open and eat a lobster and quite a bit of time to peel off and eat each leaf of an artichoke to get to the heart. Another great food for slow eating is mussels. Try picking foods that make you work a little.



Here’s something that really freaks me out. Occasionally, I’ll go to retrieve a bit of information from my brain and all that is in the place where the information should be is a big void. It could be a person’s name, a word I am searching for while talking or just the definition of a word. And I know that I know it. It may come to me later but it may not. Sometimes I can access the information by coming at it sideways. For instance, I can’t remember someone’s name but I can remember the spouse’s name. Then by saying it in my brain, Frank and ……… Smith, the association will make the name pop up. But this is scary to me and I wish I could still access all the information I’ve stored up as easily as I did when I was younger.

peculate and amerce

These are two words which I ran across yesterday. I had no idea what peculate meant and, although I had seen amerce before, I couldn’t dredge it up out of my brain. Peculate sounds like something that chickens do and amerce looks like it should be some sort of corporate abbreviation for American Ce… or perhaps the name of a hospital.

peculate – To embezzle (funds) or engage in embezzlement (

amerce – To punish by a fine imposed arbitrarily at the discretion of the court (

Who knew?

Low Fat and Low Carb

No, I’m not going to suggest what would be best for you. My sister, Peggy, follows a low-carb diet and I’m more of a Weight Watchers person what with my starchy bent. But, here’s a dinner for both. In my effort to clean out my freezer of meat products, tonight we are eating Smart Meat, a registered trademark product by King’s Deluxe Foods, and available at Costco. Each box contains four 8 ounce vacuum-sealed portions of trimmed steaks. A portion size is 1/2 steak. Since it’s meat, there are no carbs. Since it is low in fat (9 grams per serving), it has only 165 calories. These are quite tasty and can be easily prepared on a grill.

Another part of dinner will be a recipe from The South Beach Diet book, Surprise South Beach Mashed “Potatoes.” For two people, you take 2 cups of cauliflower florets and cook them until they are soft. Puree or mash them. Add some butter spray (like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter) and they recommend a tablespoon of fat free Half and Half. I usually omit the liquid. Add some salt and pepper and, voila, you have a low fat/low carb potato substitute. Add a green salad or green vegetable plus a glass of red wine and you have a delicious healthy dinner.