Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Visit from Germany

The third week in  August my Nephew Joachim, his wife Britta, their daughter Alina and Alina’s boyfriend Fynn arrived at my doorstep for a stay of three weeks off and on. It had been 17 years since I saw Joachim, my brother Manfred’s son. Manfred passed away almost three years ago. This visit was a great surprise.

Britta and Alina are new to the family so, needless to say I never met them before - everyone was nervous about how this visit would play out. They were on the road for 34 hours or more traveling from Germany via Copenhagen Chicago and finally San Francisco, renting a car and arriving in Healdsburg tired and hungry.

I had set up a buffet with Gazpacho and cheese boards with crudities and different breads as well Champagne. It was just the right thing to do. A sit down dinner would have been disastrous, especially since they arrived about 2 hours late.

The first day here they explored Healdsburg and Joe and I talked a lot about our families. The second day they went exploring in Napa and Sonoma wineries. Onto San Francisco the next day which included a side trip to the Oakland A’s stadium to take in a baseball game between the A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays (just for the record, they did tell my daughter Heidi that they wanted to go to a Giants game but they were playing out of town). Joachim and Fynn are big fans of baseball. There is no baseball in Germany however, they follow baseball via the internet in Germany. Britta and Alina had no choice in the matter, ha, ha.

Dinner became a challenge, as did breakfast. I had not cooked or set up breakfast for more than myself for years except when my kids and families have been here – even then one of my kids usually makes breakfast.

After four days they left for Santa Cruz to spend some time with Heidi and Bill. From there they went to LA and stayed for few days in Venice Beach, then onto Las Vegas and back up North to Sacramento to spend time with Rodmond and finally back to Healdsburg. We spent one day visiting various Tasting Rooms here in Healdsburg, and bought some wine of course. We had dinner at Bravas - one of my favorite places to go. The last evening my friend Josie came for our Soup Supper, “chili and an empty the fridge Vegetable Soup”. Josie brought Tooey her dog instead of Kim her husband (who was to be here but had some work to do - I am still bummed about that, not about Tooey, I love that dog, but about Kim, ha, ha).

 The Chili recipe is in a previous Blog. The Vegetable Soup is up to you how you proceed. The most important cooking advice about cooking Vegetable Soup is to sauté all of your vegetables including at least one medium size onion. Add the spices you like to use and sauté for about 15 minutes until all the veggies are limp, not browned, and still firm. Then fill up with Chicken or Vegetable Broth, cubes can be used. The veggies need to be crunchy if you do not want to puree the soup. I like to puree my soup and serve with sour cream, grated cheese, chopped hard boiled eggs and parsley. Good luck! If you have questions send a note via Facebook or put a notification on the blog.

This has to be the most boring blog ever written!! Ha, ha!

Monday, July 27, 2015

80th Birthday Surprises

My Birthday was full of surprises, it was a wonderful two days full of fun. Heidi, Rod, Neal and my friend Josie were not telling what was in store for me.

Surprise, surprise, Bill came after work all the way from San Jose so he could join in the festivities. The festivities were at Josie and Kim’s home. The backyard was all decorated and a beautifully set table awaited us. Rod and Josie joined efforts to produce a wonderful meal with salmon, steak, roasted potatoes and a wonderful corn salad. Josie and Kim’s children Everly and Ely helped serve and were part of the fun.  An Almond Birthday Cake was the highlight and of course Champagne for Mama. Gifts were part of the surprises - the biggest one a balloon ride over Sonoma and Napa County from my beautiful and thoughtful children.

The next morning, before 6 am, Heidi and I took off to Santa Rosa Airport to meet with the pilot of our balloon. Michael is his name - he had to drive us up to Lake County because Santa Rosa was all fogged in. The one hour country road drive was beautiful. Through all the years I lived in Healdsburg I have never driven in that direction.

Once we arrived, the balloon was unloaded and Michael and staff started to get the balloon ready for takeoff. We all watched of course, took pictures and some of the men pitched in - it was a labor of love and adventure. Once ready, we started to climb into the basket. Well, I was the oldest and had a hard time getting up into the basket. Helping hands were lifting and pushing me into the basket, kind of embarrassing, but I was grateful for the help. There was no way I would have given up this adventure.

The view over Sonoma and Napa County is awesome. If you have not done it, do it for the fun and adventure. I did it and it is off my bucket list, yahoo.

Coming back home I got another surprise: my son Rodmond painted my living room and put the room back together. This put a big smile on my face.

Three things are off my bucket list and my goal for next year is to get that book published which is more than half ready. Writer’s block has been the culprit.

However, I know I can overcome that with some effort. Here is to stopping procrastination and getting on the ball, ha, ha.

The rest of my children and grandchildren could not be here but of course phone calls were on the agenda.

No recipe this time! Will post pictures from my two day Birthday celebration. This is one Birthday I will never forget. Thank you all!

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Staying Young in Mind and Spirit approaching 80!

Being a senior has its benefits and negatives you want to interact with your younger friends and find that it is at times difficult. For me to be surrounded by younger friends makes me happy. I find friends from my generation to be more into themselves as I am at times.

However the younger generation has a tendency to overlook us in a social setting. It makes one feel insignificant. There is a lot of value in being older to share with younger people.

Some day you will approach my age and wonder the same thing. Yes we have hearing problems but that should not stop anyone from talking to us and not at us. I feel very fortunate to have friends 30 to 40 plus years younger than I am. Age related problems become less worrisome and you feel happy to be part of the friends you choose. Yes you have the privilege to choose your friends, you also must make an effort to keep friends, people in general do not come to you it is up to you to be the moving force. In our younger years it did not take much effort to make friends. As we get older we become choosier and rightfully so.

Like a marriage it takes work to keep friends. It is so easy for us seniors to say, “I am tired” or, “I really do not want to do this or that” or to use health issues for an excuse. We all do it, including me, but in the end it is not healthy for us.

Here is to all my senior friends to get off your fanny and go out and enjoy life for what it is, do not be afraid to annoy someone younger or your own age with questions or remarks that can lead to disagreements.

A true friend will forgive your indiscretion and move on. Sulking or bitching is another thing we seniors like to do. Well, bitching is ok but only with one close friend or family member with whom you feel safe and that your bitching will not go any further, ha, ha. You know from experience how rumors flow and grow.

I am attaching a fun recipe for all - especially seniors - to cook for your friends where you do not have to stay in the kitchen when your guests arrive. Seniors, do entertain. It is good for your soul.

          Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage 
            8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about 2) removed from casing, crumbled
            8 ounces hot Italian sausage (about 2) removed from casings, crumbled
            1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
             2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
             1 pound penne pasta
              1 ½ cups whole milk
              2 large eggs, lightly beaten
              ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
              Preheat oven to 375*. Lightly butter and 8-by12-inch baking dish.
Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. When it is hot, add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the fat is rendered and the sausage has lost its pink color. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the radicchio, stir well, and cook, stirring until it is soft and well blended with the sausage, about 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Mean while fill a large pot with water and bring to boil over high heat. Add salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to sausage. Add the milk and eggs and mix well. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
(You can prep this the day before, refrigerate, and take out 30 minutes before you want to bake it)
Bake in oven until the top looks a bit crunchy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: This is a wonderful simple dish for entertaining. Serve with an intense red wine. Nice crusty Italian bread and a salad.
From Luongo/Strausman classes




Monday, January 12, 2015


Christmas in Koenigsberg East Prussia before 1945


While preparing for this past Christmas here in Healdsburg, California I was thinking about the big difference of celebrating this momentous occasion.

 When we were children our tree was never seen by us Children until Christmas Eve when dressed and lit in it full glory. Our tree was in our library behind locked doors. We five children tried often to get a glimpse before we were be able to get to see the tree and all the gifts. Another big difference was that our presents were put in front of us while we were sitting around a huge library table, the presents were never wrapped.

We children had to recite a Christmas poem each and sing our hearts out. It was more formal but still we kids were so excited. By the way Christmas Eve is the big day not Christmas Day like all over Europe (except England).

All the gifts were given to us Christmas Eve. After that we had a scrumptious dinner which we kids picked out for the cook to make. Sometimes it was a weird combination of various dishes.

Christmas Day involved going to Church. After Church we had Christmas Dinner at midday - usually Goose or Duck with all the trimmings.

After marrying Marc and coming to the U.S. our Christmas’ became a combination of Marc’s and my Childhood.

While our children were growing up we did not put up our tree until the evening before Christmas Eve. The children would not see the tree lit until Christmas Eve with music playing and special candles lit everywhere. Marc took the children on a drive and while they were gone, Kris Kringle came and put the presents under the tree. Marc and I decided that one major present will be brought from Santa during the night.

Our Children loved the idea of opening presents twice. The first Christmas after Marc died was a very tough one. My two oldest sons Walter and Neal helped me with buying presents. Kurt and Heidi wanted a bike so badly so I did get them each a bike with thoughts that it might help with their grief. In retrospect my thinking was not very smart, nothing material could ever help with grief.

My friend Melinda joined us this first Christmas Eve and Day without Marc - that made things lighter for all of us.

After moving to Healdsburg I changed some traditions yet again to some extent. Living on my own after keeping up the old way I decided to go with the flow and put my tree up 10 to 12 days before Christmas and enjoy the beauty of it. However as in the old days my tree stays up until the 12th day of Christmas.

We still celebrate Christmas Eve the German way and have a wonderful Christmas dinner on Christmas day. Christmas Eve we have Shrimp Leek Soup and that has been a tradition since living in Ottumwa, Iowa in the 60’s and 70’s. Some traditions need to be upheld for future generations.

  The Shrimp Leek Soup is posted on a previous blog:

“2012 Has Arrived”.
Christmas is past but I will post this blog anyway for all to see the differences celebrating Christmas!

A Happy, Healthy New Year to all!