Saturday, April 17, 2021

Frage Sigrid a Memoir


Pandemic 2020/2021


The News hit us like nothing ever has before! Two days later we were ordered to stay at home. I for one did stay at home until the last week in May when I was tested for the COVID-19 virus and it came back negative. A week later I had to have oral surgery. Once the healing started I did venture out early in the morning to get some food into my home. It is eerie to go to the supermarket around 7 a.m. with mask on and gloves as well. No other contact, no visitors and trying to stay hopeful that this virus will disappear, but! As you all know, it is still around with a vengeance. People are not helping themselves. Teens running around in packs and no masks and no distance.

 Sonoma county is one of the places where everyone takes it for granted: “NOT US”. I have news for you, the carelessness of the public is the reason why we are still in the purple tier. I do understand about all the restrictions, no one wants to be told you can’t go out shopping, to dinner or family gatherings. 

I had my 85th birthday July 15th. My daughter, Heidi, became creative and gave me a Zoom party, inviting family from across the country and abroad, it was so fun. After, we had 5 family members and 5 friends for cake. No one wanted coffee or other refreshments with the cake. Weird. Never the less, it was a good gathering, seeing some family and friends. All had a good time, mask and distance notwithstanding.

It is hard for me to hear with a lot of people talking around me even though I wear a hearing aid. Now with the masks, the hearing aid keeps falling out of my ear so I do not even bother. Depression was or still is a constant reminder how this pandemic has affected me and I am sure many others. In spite of all that, I am grateful for being virus free and I had my second vaccine on March 18th.

My children are staying in touch with me almost daily either by phone or text or e-mail or even a visit with masks and distance. My son Neal, who lives in town, comes by every 3 days which is helpful. My neighbors are also in touch. My Bestie Josie and her adorable son Finnie come by and visit from my courtyard while I stay on my balcony. Now I am waiting for these restrictions to ease up so we can visit with distance and masks. I have to say, I put a lot of restrictions on myself at 85. With underlying health issues I do need to take care of myself. March 27, 2021: the sun is out and the tem: is rising to a pleasant 75 degrees. All this puts a smile on my face. 

I am looking forward to Easter. My sons Rod and Neal will be here for the weekend and I have been looking through my recipe portfolio for a special Easter dinner/brunch. Heidi and Bill are due for a visit but we do not know yet when that will happen. Walter and family are staying home in Boise, Idaho. Paul is in Los Angeles while Steve and Family remain in England. Hope you had great Easter and were careful where you traveled. Wear your mask, especially if your family and friends are not vaccinated.


 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


Note: A green salad for supper/dinner or fruit salad for brunch will go 

In the meantime restrictions have eased. However, do not start being careless again, be happy that you can go among friends and family but do not take it for granted. Wear your Mask.




Monday, August 10, 2020

Mother’s Day 2020 / 85th Birthday Zoom Party


Mother’s Day 2020 / 85th Birthday Zoom Party

This is a difficult time for all of us. I really have a hard time gathering my thought to write a blog.

Mother’s Day was a nice surprise. Heidi and Bill drove 3 hours one way to spend three hours with me and feed me. Masks where in place and we kept the distance required apart. As always, cards and flowers arrived along with phone calls from my sons: Walter and Family, Neal (who joined us since he is the only son that lives in town), Paul, Rod, and Steven from England. I always feel better when everyone stays in contact. This Virus is hard to take. Some days I get really depressed and discouraged.

I am one of the lucky ones, I tested Negative; I had to be tested before Oral Surgery. Post Op is still bothering me, it has been 6 weeks now. I am working on staying positive through this pandemic that is happening in the world right now.


Birthday/July 15; I turned 85. Plans, of course, had to be changed from a

splashy party to a small gathering with masks and keeping our distance from each

other. We were 9 people, 5 family and 4 friends. Small but fun in spite of everything. Heidi had put a Zoom party together and that was so great. I got to see family from Europe and across the US. I had a hard time understanding everyone but they understood me and a lot of laughter was happening at my expense; it was a special event my thoughtful and beautiful daughter put together. I am so grateful to everyone who joined in I feel loved. 



Today 10 days later I am struggling with if my son Rodmond is okay. He has not communicated in 4 days. Neal usually comes by every 3 to 4 days. Heidi calls or texts. Grandkids in England and Boise Idaho also text or go on Facebook with a message. Why do I feel so sad and isolated?????

Today is a better day (July 28). My mouth is healing and Rod called in the meantime, twice. Heidi has a birthday today and I am sad that I can’t be with her. I just made a bread pudding -- my standby to have protein and dairy and starch all in one dish. Eating meat is still difficult but slowly it will happen. I never thought I would be saying I am way too thin but here it is: “I am too thin.” I feel fine but this has my Doctor concerned. Me too, ha, ha.

Yesterday, August 1, was Neal’s Birthday: 61. Boy, the years just passed us by. Neal likes Mexican food so I took him to his favorite restaurant. We sat outside and wore masks when not eating; this has become a tradition, not wearing a mask, but going to that restaurant every year for his Birthday. He mentioned yesterday that we were sitting at the same table as last year and we laughed about that. Until December I am done with my Children’s Birthday’s. Ha, ha. When you have half a dozen living children and almost 10 grandchildren it seems Birthdays are never ending, not to mention those of other family members and friends.



Saturday, May 2, 2020

New Normal or is It!?

First let me say a big Thank You! to all of the Doctors, Nurses & Volunteers who work so hard to help contain the COVID-19 virus and save lives. It is up to us to do our part and maintain a 6-foot distance when out & about.

New Normal or Is It?
The last few weeks have been tiresome, scary and frustrating. As of today not much has changed, except the sun is shining and we are ready to go to the parks, the beaches and just hang out with family and friends. Having to distance oneself is not such a hardship if it keeps you safe, wearing a mask is a necessary evil. I think the worst of all this is that people can’t go to work and earn a living to be able to take care of their families and themselves. World Governments and Science need to step up and anticipate that viruses like the COVID-19 will pop up again. Have they not learned from the SAR virus to be ahead of the spread?

I am lucky at age 84. I am more vulnerable they say, but I have avoided all the trappings and, so far, am staying without exposure to the Virus. I tell you, it is hard to be on top of your new normal. I can always claim my strong German genes, (ha, ha) are keeping me safe. My son Neal who is still in the workforce and lives here in town comes and checks on me but will only step inside by the door not to spread any germs he might harbor. It is sad not to be able and sit down for a meal together. My other grown children are all sheltered in their own homes in different parts of California, Idaho and in the UK. My son Steven in the UK was sick and they believe he might have had/does have the virus. He is doing much better now. Last I heard he will be tested for antibodies.

Perhaps every person needs to be tested to find the hot spots and help the public get back into the workforce. What can we do help each other from being so isolated?? I live in an apartment building which has 10 apartments. I take walks around the building or around a block or two. My neighbors and I wave to each other, talk from a distance just to have contact of some sort. I for one, get into my car some early mornings to drive to the post office to drop mail, go to the Grocery Store at 7 am, with mask and gloves. Usually it is an in and out trip, but it keeps me from going crazy or getting depressed. Cooking is still my peace, I’ve been doing more lately again. If you read my profile you know I’ve been in the hospitality business all my life.

Talking about cooking, at times my neighbors and I exchange some meals we’ve cooked. I miss seeing my Children who made the trip here every two to three months. It has only been 4 months or so since I saw them but it seems so much longer. However, the phone or text or e-mail are available; some of my children are not fond of media visiting/talking. My Grandchildren are better at it. My daughter Heidi does respond to my texting 99% of the time, I take it that she does not want to listen to me complain on the phone or have to repeat herself. My son Rodmond  and Paul; only when they feel their is no other choice. Forget about Walter or Neal, they prefer the phone which I have a hard time with right now, even with a hearing aid. My friend Josie brings her almost 2 year old son Finnie and stays with him in the courtyard while we visit. I stay on my balcony.

One of my favorite comfort foods is Frikadellen.
Here is how I make them (off the top of my head):

Low-fat Ground Beef (can use turkey or meat-substitutes)
1 Whole egg
1 Thick slice of bread soaked in water
1 - 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 Medium onion, chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt & pepper to taste

Squeeze all the water out of the bread.
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Knead the mixture with clean hands until the ingredients are well blended.
Form patties and let them sit for 10 minutes.
Heat Olive Oil with butter at medium heat. Brown the Frikadellen on both sides, making sure they are done in the middle. Press your finger on the patty - if done, it should bounce back.
Bon appetit!

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