I love to take long walks especially in the early morning. During the week-day, I walk on my neighborhood school track because it is expedient located only three short blocks from my home on Ashland. The track is sympathetic to older joints too as it is covered with a synthetic rubber that is easy on the knees. On the week-end, I like to mix it up a bit. I walk around my neighborhood in the cultural district. Last week-end, I walked down to the Stock Show grounds and strolled around the perimeter just checking out all the sights and smells. In Fort Worth, we host the Stock Show and Rodeo every year around this time. If you haven’t yet checked it out this year, this week-end will be the perfect weather to attend. It is LEGENDARY and this year is the 120th anniversary.
Another favorite walking place is along the Trinity River on the Trinity Trails system of about 40 miles of hike-and-bike paved paths with views of downtown Fort Worth skyscrapers and plenty of flat, sunny trails that winds all along the West Fort of the Trinity River. If I walk down Rivercrest from my house, cross White Settlement and head into the neighborhood, I can reach the trail system and not have to drive my car and find parking. You do have to watch out for the bikes on the busier sections of this popular urban trail system so sometimes I like to find trails off the beaten path.
Fort Worth Nature Center has some nice trails. I have enjoyed hiking at Cedar Hill State Park as long as RM walks in front of me and knocks down all the creepy cobwebs. You know you are on a little used trail when this happens to you. Horseshoe Trail along Lake Grapevine is a nice place to spend an hour or two. There is nice trail system in Euless called the Bear Creek-Bob Eden Trail that will give you a good workout. And of course, we can’t leave out River Legacy Park in Arlington. If you want to find out about all the trail system in our community, check out 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Dallas/Fort Worth by Joanie Sanchez. I bought my copy at Backwoods.
This week-end promises to be beautiful in the Fort so hope you can find some time to get outside, put on your walking shoes and enjoy our vibrant city.
If you read my blog, you know I write quite a bit about my family tree. C1 and I, working with ancestry.com, family records, and contacts, are working to document our family heritage for future generations. My folks had documented a lot of information in paper format in binders and files but I was worried that these scraps of information would get lost or ruined over time so we began uploading the stories, pictures, and documents to ancestry.com in hopes of preserving the research of those that had come before us.
We have traced my family tree on my father’s side back to 1728 to when they were already living in Pennsylvania. They lived there for many generations until the Spangler/Hauck branch left the Keystone State for Kansas in the late 1800’s. We learned that the Spangler brothers had a falling out over land and farming rights so my line of the family decided to head west for literally greener pastures.
We continue our research on the Marshall side, discovering that both RM and I have ancestors that fought for the north during the civil war. We have read of their suffering, separation from family, their illnesses and lives cut short by disease. We understand better the resiliency and strength of our forbearers. C1 designed and created a beautiful artistic representation of this history as a gift to her father. We continue to search to fill the rings.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Ricotta is one of the easiest cheeses to make, but it can transform a ho-hum recipe into something special. RM makes incredible grilled pizza and this recipe for scratch ricotta partnered with Soupy sausage and sage is truly a transformative combination.
And it is easy. First, you need a huge pot. Think of your mama’s caldo pot and you are on the right track. The pot needs to hold two gallons of liquid. You will need a gallon of whole milk and a gallon of buttermilk.
Pour the two types of milk into the jumbo pot and heat until you see steam. Then reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to cook. Ricotta means “recooked” in Latin so that is what you are doing, literally recooking the milk. It takes about 20 minutes for the whey and the fat to separate. Skim the ricotta cheese from the whey using a ladle or mesh strainer and allow to drain for 3 hours.
You can use it right away or pack it into a container and refrigerate for use all week. Great in lasagna, spread on crostini and drizzled with good olive oil, or eaten plain with your favorite toppings. For a sweet dish, you can add cocoa powder and honey and stir it well. Tastes like pudding. This recipe makes four cups of ricotta. I have tried other recipes involving lemon juice and other steps but none turned out as good and easy as this one. I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought in Vermont. At our next Ashland Sunday Supper, this ricotta recipe will be an ingredient in one of the courses.
During my morning walk, I was strutting along in the dark to Hank Williams on my Spotify after growing tired of listening to several prepared workout lists. I opted for “Hey, Good Lookin'” for encouragement as I looped Stripling’s track. The lyrics describe a date book which I had not thought about in years. When I first started dating RM, back in the early 1980’s, he had “a little black book” that he kept names and numbers in. Not just girls, but there were many listed, believe me, but all of his important contacts. I think the date book is long gone, replaced by contact lists on cell phones and email accounts, as well as dating sites like Match.com and others. My dad used to keep important telephone numbers, birthdays, and special events on little scraps of paper in his wallet for easy access. Not sure what method is better, each are just different, but all of these ways of keeping in contact with the ones we admire and often love are just very endearing to me as the sun comes up on a very beautiful morning. Happy Friday, to you all!
I’m gonna throw my date book over the fence And buy me one for five or ten cents I’ll keep it till it’s covered with age Cause I’m writin’ your name down on every page
For my 7th birthday in 1968, I was gifted my first cookbook. Polly Williams, our neighbor, wife to my father’s boss and owner of her own beauty salon down the street from my childhood home in Kansas, gave it to me to cheer me up because I was sick on my birthday. Polly and I were close because I would hang out with her in her salon when my Mom was at work and do little errands and chores for her. I would polish her silver, or sweep the clipped hair up off the floor, or ride my bike to the grocery store to pick up a fresh pack of cigarettes for her (no questions asked).
I still have this first cookbook in my collection, and when I stumble upon it, the little cookbook brings back so many happy memories of cooking for my three older brothers and Dad when I was just a little girl. They were ravenous eaters in those days and my mom was glad to have me around to prepare lunches in the summer when she was at work. My mother taught me to make goulash, macaroni and cheese, pink bunny, chip beef on toast, tuna and cheese sandwiches, scrabbled eggs and bacon, and BLT’s before I was ten. She also taught me to peel a potato with a knife and and make frosting from scratch for her coveted cinnamon rolls. Life was good when I was in the kitchen working beside my mother. I still throw a cloth dish towel over my left shoulder when I am cooking just like she did so it would be within quick reach when needed. She didn’t “believe” in paper towels as they were expensive and unnecessary in her mind.
This first cookbook, Fun to Cook Book, has an awesome white sauce recipe in it using Carnation Milk, that was my “go to sauce” growing up in Kansas. You can convert it to a cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese, you can add ground beef and make a meat gravy, or add canned tuna and cooked noodles and you have tuna casserole (I always added peas). All of these meals were the stick to your ribs style that my brothers loved. You could pour anything over toast and they would scarf it down. It gives a budding young cook a lot of encouragement to see her food go down so quickly.
Since those days, I have added a few (more than a few) cookbooks to my ever expanding collection and I hope I cook in a much more adventurous and healthier manner than I did back in 1960’s. But this one simple little cookbook, my first, holds a special place in my heart.