Until we meet again or hasta mañana baby.

Until we meet again or hasta mañana baby.

I am leaving my role at Fort Worth Independent School District at the end of the month. This was planned for over two years as I exit on my 59th birthday (the same age my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer) and 10 years after myself surviving breast cancer, twice.

RM, my husband for nearly four decades, had a major medical event this last year, which propelled me even further toward this decision. And then the pandemic hit and after returning from Spain rather chaotically, through O’Hare, god forbid, over Spring Break, I was like, how many more signs must be aligned before you decide you must allow the running of a major industrial compound to others?

These are just some of the amazing FWISD grant leaders

I love to work, I love to roll up my sleeves and give it my all. I love the writing process and learning about new ideas, thoughts and ways of making things better. I love trying to figure out how to make things work. Really work. For real people. For us.

Now.

I want to write for myself. Maybe a novel? I want to grow gigantic crops of tomatoes, beans and herbs. I want to feed my loved ones including my family, friends and community. I will volunteer to read with children and other important nonprofit work. My mother was a social worker, my father an educator. I was programmed from an early age to give back.

I hope to travel to see my immediate family to reconnect to my roots and understand the person I am now, growing more from the experiences we shared together. From family dinners, to play, to artistic expression to love of nature – they encapsulate us.

To my work family, you are precious to me but it is time to open up the gate and let you run as I know you are so ready, like race horses at the gate for the opportunity to lead and to take the CARE funds coming to our area and schools to support our families to grow and become even more vital citizens to our community. We know many of you are without food and necessities and need support.

Here we are, every day working to make dreams come true.

Lead with compassion and patience but also with your eyes looking out for the underdog. We were once them. Grant writers love the underdog, we love something attainable but also a bit scruffy and we love winning when the odds are stacked against us. So get to work, let’s score some grants for the Fort Worth community.

You will find me in the garden behind our little adobe on Ashland. Thanks for so many great friendships and wonderful memories. You are sincerely…All The Best.

LOVE

Love,

T.

A Better Banana Bread

A Better Banana Bread

As Mini-Mixer Baker C3 states, “it’s hard to mess up banana bread” and there are tons of excellent recipes readily available at online resources like King Arthur or America’s Test Kitchen. Below is the master formula used for quick breads at the Marshall house. Recently uncovered during our travel quarantine while reading again the Crust and Crumb James Beard award-winning cookbook by Californian, Peter Reinhart, this banana bread is superior hitting all the right notes of moist, tender, even and flavor blending.

The secret to the recipe is using the creaming method. This recipe makes two large loaves – one for your family to devour and one for a porch drop:

3.5 cups of AP flour or 16 ounces

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tablespoon baking soda

1 tsp. salt

20 ounces, or about 2.5 cups brown sugar

1 cup, or 8 ounces of butter, shortening or oil at room temperature

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed. We store ours in the freezer and use as needed.

1 cup of buttermilk or plant based milk with a tsp. of vinegar added.

9 ounces of your favorite add-in like pecans, walnuts or chocolate chips

Creaming method: add your dry ingredients and set them aside for later use.

Using an electric mixer, cream the fat choice with brown sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrap sides of bowl with spatula and mix another minute. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Then add vanilla. Scrape bowl again. Continue beating for 3 minutes. Mixture is super light and fluffy.

Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/3 buttermilk and 1/3 bananas. Repeat until all is incorporated. Pour in your add-in now and mix a bit. Our house loves vegan chocolate chips!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray to grease two 4 x 8.5 loaf pans (the ones your mom made meat loaf in) and fill 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 45 minutes then reduce to 325 degrees for about 15 minutes checking for an internal temp. of 185 degrees in center. The skewer poked in center should come out clean.

Cool in pans for 15 minutes but then get them turned out on a cooling rack so they don’t stick.

This recipe is super versatile as you can substitute the banana with shredded zucchini or carrots, add raisins, blueberries and other nuts for an infinity and beyond number of options.

Happy social distancing and please share.

Spring Gardens Inspire Hope

Spring Gardens Inspire Hope

Both my parents were avid gardeners. They grew vegetables and lovely spring flowers including tulips, daffodils and irises. They both loved roses especially the kind that climbs over trellises and hung above emoting their sweet scent on anyone passing by below.

My mother treasured peonies that grow like wild clumps of weeds in Kansas. She loved herbs too which are some of the plants I first learned to grow as a beginning gardener. If you have never grown a plant outdoors, I recommend starting with herbs. They are forgiving compared to flowers and vegetables. If the soil is not right or if their owner forgets to water for a day or two or puts them in the wrong location in the garden, they usually find a way to limp forward. You can learn from herbs what not to do in the planting and growing process without busting your wallet. Rosemary, lemon thyme and basil are good varieties to begin.

Herbs like to be together so group them in organic shapes in a bed or in containers that nudge up to one another. Plants get to touch now, humans please keep your distance during Covid times.

Here is a sweet black and white picture of my mother and me in her Spring garden before Easter service in 1970. I resemble Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird, with my pixie cut and the dress that only went on for church. Look behind us at the climbing roses. And breathe deep, we got this!

Happy Easter, family and friends and to sweet memories which is what sustains us during adverse times. Be well.

Rock-a-Bye Baby

Rock-a-Bye Baby

My husband’s family is distantly related to the composer of the iconic song, Rock-a-Bye Baby. Effie Carlton penned the song back in the 1870’s as a teenager while babysitting. Ironically, she never married or had children of her own.

This family history came to our attention several years ago when an attorney from New Mexico reached out to RM’s dad and his aunt informing them of their rights to the patent fees for the song. While the amount they collect is nominal, the legacy is what is important to appreciate.

C1 tracked this history through online searches, reviews of databases and dogged determination.

Below is the obituary notice she unearthed in her research for us to read and learn more about our musical family legacy. Effie died at 81 during the winter of 1940 soon after attending a movie featuring her song. What a sweet ending.

Victory Garden in the Fort

Victory Garden in the Fort

Well, our little victory garden is growing nicely over at Locke. The onions, planted in late February, sprouted with about six shoots per onion. We are expecting over 18 shoots per bulb by maturity in June. They are loving the regular rains along with some sun shining spring days.

Locke Victory Garden

The tomatoes, eggplant and purple basil went in the garden last weekend after we shopped at Archies, carefully following social distancing practices.

Two weeks ago, we planted Swiss chard from seeds purchased from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello online garden shop along with cucumber for our container garden back on Ashland. Last year, we planted asparagus starts soon after we bought the Locke property in a side bed already established by the prior owners. Since this is just the second year in the ground, we must patiently wait at least one more year before we harvest asparagus spears for our Easter brunch.

Back on Ashland, we are growing garlic, potatoes and blackberries. We planted the blackberries last year, so like asparagus, theses starts take three years to mature to produce fruit with the hopes of providing over a decade of healthy production once established. Gardening requires patience and constant tending.

Ashland garden with garlic, potatoes and blackberries

Gardening is all about nurturing the plants you select to grow. Each step in the process is for the gardener to determine what the little plants need, watching for signs of distress like the cracked earth around their base, mildew spots on yellowing leaves or the encouraging new growth of tiny green leaves and shoots. We must also guard for predators like aphids and mold. And hungry bunnies.

Herbs are growing rampant in pots and beds on Ashland. Rosemary, mint, lemon thyme along with clumps of garlic chive beg for clipping much like our hair after too many weeks away from the tending of our talented dressers. Please stop by with your clippers and trim awhile, free to all who love plants as much as us.

Stay safe and tend your gardens.