Thursday, January 2, 2020

Wrapping up 2019: The Kincade Fire, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Wrapping up 2019: The Kincade Fire, Thanksgiving and Christmas
Some Sonoma County First Responders

On Saturday, October 26 we were evacuated from our home and town, known as Healdsburg. My son Neal and I packed up and drove to Sacramento to stay with my son Rodmond. It was a long drive. What usually takes 2 hours took 6 hours; highways were a parking lot from Healdsburg to Sacramento. We were tired and relieved at the same time that we had a place to go to. After 6 days we were able to drive home. We are so grateful to the First Responders and volunteers who made this homecoming possible.

The devastation around Healdsburg is sad; wineries and homes were lost in the rural areas. Families are struggling with their loss. The community is stepping in to make it easier for the families.

As for me, it is not the first time I had to evacuate my home. I was nine years old when we had to leave our home in Konigsberg, East Prussia during World War II. We never could return home. Here, I am happy that I could return home.

The mind does play tricks, thinking I have to leave again. Trying to settle down has been and is hard. As they say, life goes on, yes, but the fear is still here!

Sonoma County is resilient, the people are proud and rebuilding the homes and businesses they lost. All of us need to support local business throughout the county in order for the county to survive. Healdsburg is a great little town with wonderful shops and restaurants and social activities for families throughout the year. Everyone is picking up the pieces to move on. Come visit us and find out how we are doing.

Getting together with family and friends is important any time but especially now.
Food is the binding mentor. I for one will cook some hearty soups and meals in a pot to share with family and friends. Thanksgiving is around the corner and family will be arriving in droves. When I wrote this part, I was in the planning stages. Doing something productive makes me happy.

Everyone stay focused on the positive and smile.

Thanksgiving/Christmas 2019

Another year has passed. The last three years where more difficult due to the fires in Sonoma and Napa County. Yet, we survived and are so fortunate that the First Responders saved our town. Moving on was not easy. 2019 was an especially tough year for all concerned. With a grateful heart we celebrated Thanksgiving with our family. My oldest son, Walter, and his daughter Janine arrived from Boise the day before Thanksgiving and it was really nice to have them with us. Walter’s wife Veronika and daughter Jesse stayed home in Boise, presumably having a special Mother-Daughter time.

Here with me in Healdsburg my sons Rodmond and Neal, my daughter Heidi and son in law Bill all did their share of pulling Thanksgiving dinner together. It was a special Thanksgiving, we were so grateful to be able to be together. Sons Steven and family, who live in England, are always missed. I expect them to be here next year for my 85th birthday in July. Paul also could not be here. Over the last 20 years or so it has never been possible to have all my kids together in one place. Hopefully next summer, ha, ha.

Christmas, my favored time of the year, was full of surprises as it usually is. I, with Neal’s help, bought our Tree two weeks before Christmas. That is one tradition I changed after all the kids flew the nest. I still celebrate Advent the four Sundays before Christmas. I enjoy some quiet and listen to the Messiah or other Christmas music with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, sometimes even a glass of wine. Only three of my children were able to be here this Christmas and, of course, my son-in-law as well. All of my grandkids are scattered around the country and abroad; no show of grandkids.

Christmas Eve for me still has more meaning than Christmas Day. This goes way back to when I grew up in Germany; my family always made Christmas Eve festive. When our children were born, Marc, my husband went along with me. I kept the same traditions alive, at least a good version of home.

We open gifts after we have supper/dinner, our traditional Shrimp Leek Soup which I have cooked for over 45 years every Christmas Eve. Dinner tradition has changed over the last 15 years or though. I used to cook duck with red cabbage and all the trimmings. Heidi no longer eats such animals, and Neal does not like duck. Our dinner now is a seafood medley, whatever we can afford at a given time. Heidi and Bill have brought Lobster tails the last 3 years and before that, they bought whole lobsters which was decadent just to look at. We all had to work for our dinner and it is always fun and we appreciated the luxury of lobster and tails. I add Alaskan crab legs and large shrimp which we peel at the table. I made Basmati Rice and a Snow Peas Red Beet salad with a warm vinaigrette dressing. Bill made dessert: strawberries with brown sugar and sour cream. Needless to say we were stuffed and happy.

We all pray for a healthy prosperous year in 2020. Happy New Year!

A Recipe from my Family's Traditional Christmas Menu

Grandmother Schweders Red Cabbage

4 quarts water
1 large red cabbage (2 small is also ok)
1 apple
1 onion
   salt and pepper to taste
2 strips of bacon (fat from the goose, duck or even chicken is better, (olive oil as an alternative for vegans, for more flavor add finely diced vegan bacon).
   red wine vinegar to taste
   sugar to taste

Remove outer leaves from cabbage and remove the core. Chop cabbage into medium to small pieces. Wash and rinse. 
In a large pot
Put the water, cabbage, apple and onion with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Drain, set aside. In the same pot fry the bacon or melt down the goose/chicken fat on medium heat. Remove the bacon strips. Set aside. Now add the cabbage to the fat and stir for about 5 minutes of and on. Add diced bacon if desired.
Add some
Vinegar and sugar (start with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of sugar). Stir and taste, increase vinegar and sugar to your liking.

NOTE: Has a 10 day shelf life. 

Makes 10 to 12 servings               

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Mother’s Day 2019/ a trip to Vegas

Here we go and hopefully, I can write what is in my heart. Mother’s Day was a fun day, even though I was in pain. Three days before, I fractured my sternum and boy the pain was almost unbearable. Heidi and Bill made the day special as always. Neal also surprised me with the tote I wanted. Rodmond, Paul, and Steve called. Walter was busy celebrating with his own family and said he was going to call but, by evening he totally forgot. He, Rod and Paul came two weeks later to celebrate.

Seven weeks have gone by since then and I am still struggling with the pain. After nineteen days on Narcs I took myself off, I was breaking out in a rash. The withdrawal symptoms were so bad for almost four days, never again will I take Narcs. The only good thing was I slept better but believe me, it is not good in the overall theme of health.

My children all stepped up to the plate, which made me feel good. Heidi came for a few days and would not let me do anything especially laundry, ha, ha.

Her last evening here we went to Brava’s and had some great food and a good time together. I love Brava’s, I also like most of our Restaurants here in Healdsburg.

Rodmond took me to Las Vegas in April for 5 days and boy, was that fun and interesting. We stayed at Caesars Palace with a beautiful view of all the grounds, the room was a mini suite and wonderful. Rod was so attentive and he spoiled me. One day we drove to the Hoover Dam which was educational. We also visited a ghost town outside of Bakersfield on our way to Vegas. I loved it, all the preservation, buildings and it was fun to look at the history of the first settlers in California.

This weekend Rod is coming for a visit and I ordered his Birthday present which I hope will arrive before the weekend. I also ordered Bill’s present, a little late but I hope Rod and also Bill will love it. I have a valid excuse: I was laid up for several weeks, kind of wallowing in self-pity.

Summer is here and I am banking on it to get warm. It is no fun to be cold all the time even when my home is 80 degree, yikes.

I am also getting ready to get my driver’s license renewed. Always something going on. In the meantime I could add a lot more to this blog. I decided to write another one instead. Will add some pictures to this one.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Evolving as we age:

Another Mother’s day is approaching I can’t believe that I did not post a blog in all these months. Time seems to go faster as we age. Priorities change but, in the back of my mind, I need to get more blogs written and try to marry them into my book which has a deadline of July 2020 when I will be 85. The year 2018 and the start of 2019 have been a challenge, not just on a personal level, but nationwide.  Natural disasters, a President who only thinks of himself and not the Nation, the People who carry it. I am hopeful that America will learn a valuable lesson through all this.

On a personal level I am grateful for my family and friends, my living situation. Health issues are taking too much time and thought as well as money. I am at the point where I am grateful for every day I wake up. Today is a great day, woke up with no pain. I believe it has to do with me cutting out gluten for the most part and I have a cup of Ginger Turmeric Tea daily. I’ve been self-medicating for the last 10 days and can’t help but think this is the answer to the osteoarthritis, not so much for the scoliosis.  A lot of changes I have been forced to make but if it makes me feel healthier and put a smile back on my face I have nothing to lose, right?

We have sunny cool weather and it lifts ones spirit. Trees are blooming and walking is good medicine. Looking at my balcony, it is time to do some spring planting. Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day and I cooked corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes in one pot. Neal came here for Sunday lunch, he thought it was delicious. Entertaining has been put on the back burner for some time now. My bestie is so busy with her new son so we do not interact as we always have over the last 15+ years. I do understand that since I am a Mother of seven Children, all grown now thank God. Concentrating more on grandkids these days. Unfortunately they all live far away. We are lucky to be able to call, send e-mails or go on Facebook to find out what family and friends are up to, ha, ha.

On May 5, I will be living in beautiful Healdsburg 21 years. Talking about evolving, boy the town has changed - most of it for the better, some of it not so good. However, I love this town and I call it my hometown now. This is the longest I lived in a Town since coming to the US with my husband Marcus and son Walter 60 years ago, pregnant with Neal to be born about 7 weeks after arriving in the US.

I am posting a picture of my youngest granddaughter Janine who turned 15 yesterday. Janine is my oldest son Walter’s youngest daughter residing in Idaho. Janine is stepping into my shoes with her love for cooking. Her Birthday gift was a set of beautiful Henkel cookware which made her so happy.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Mother’s Day 2018

I do not know how to start this blog. Heidi, Bill, Neal and Paul made my Mother’s day very special. My son Steven called from England. Rodmond came a week later to celebrate his Birthday and Mother’s Day. Walter forgot about his Mother, not intentionally I am sure. Now it is the end of June and it’s time I put up a new blog, it has been over a year!

It has been a chaotic time since Mother's Day. Heidi and Bill lost their home as the owner decided he had to sell. Heidi managed the house for 20 years. It has an apartment upstairs. Dealing with tenants and the upkeep of this beachfront home was a high maintenance job. We all loved that house. Over the 20 years and before that, one Holland or another lived in that house. I even rented the apartment upstairs at one point and lived there for almost 3 years. The water view was tremendous. At the time, I worked at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn as Director of Food & Beverage.

Now I live in Sonoma County, I have been here for 20 years. Hard to believe. My town is in the middle of wineries hills with a lake 12 miles from here. The Pacific Ocean is about 20 miles away. It all is easy to visit, especially when you get house guests from Europe and across the nation. Over the years my apartment has evolved with updates. Needless to say, I love where I live. My neighbors and land lady are rare finds.

One son, Neal, lives in town. He bought himself a one- bedroom trailer home. Rents are so high he decided why not own something you can afford? And voila, he did it. The rest of the gang is scattered over California, the country and the UK.

Rod visits every two to three months, so does Heidi and Bill. I never am alone to long to get lonely. Friends and I entertain each other. As you all know, cooking is my thing but I have to say that over the last two years it has become more of chore instead of fun. Health issues get the best of me when I am to long standing in the kitchen, chopping and cooking. Clean up is the worst. I guess at almost 83 one can expect that, ha, ha.

August 20, 2018

This computer frustrates me. I want to put the date in bold and it won’t let me do that or I can’t figure it out, it is so annoying. In the meantime I had a Birthday - so did Heidi and Neal. July 29th Kurt passed on 19 years ago, and August 23 is approaching: it will be 42 years since I became a widow. Raising my seven children was no picnic but we all made it through those unsettling first few years. My children became adults and took their lives into their own hands. Marriages, grandkids, divorces and death are all part of the big picture.

 Living in California is scary right now, wildfires all around us and no telling where it will hit next. I am grateful to live here and being safe so far is good. Last year we were on evacuation alert, this year the fires are further up north and down in Southern California. Climate change has a lot to do with the weather pattern all over the world. We the people need to be more aware and vigilant to turn this around. The fire infernos remind me of World War II and it is not a good reminder. All this creates anxiety and a lot of sadness. So many homeless people and now we need to add all the families who lost their home in those fires. All we can do is have faith that we all will survive. My family in Germany, including me, did. I never thought I would see such devastation again.

Today is August 23: it is full of good and sad memories. I have to think of a closing for this blog and add a heartwarming recipe and pictures of the way we were.

Well as of today November 15th I am still struggling with an ending. I do want to thank all the First Responders who are now in Butte County and down in Southern California. Keep praying for a lot of rain.


Cheesy Mushroom Bread Pudding

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces packaged cremini mushrooms sliced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried (not powdered)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 large eggs
2 cups milk
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ baguette, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350*

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk 2 tablespoons parmesan, and salt to taste. Stir in the bread cubes and let soak for 10 minutes.  
Stir in the mushroom mixture and the mozzarella. Transfer to a greased 1/ ½ quart baking dish; sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top. 
Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings