Friday, March 29, 2013

Peter and Rebecca Bradshaw

I thought I would give you an update on each of my children.
My oldest daughter, Becca, has now been married for three years! 
I just love knowing that she is being well taken care of by her husband, Peter.

Peter is working for the Coast Guard in New Jersey.
He has had quite a year of training and duty in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, Becca's year was filled with schooling as she was training to be 
a massage therapist.
She graduated the first week of January and promptly started working
for a local chiropractic clinic. 

Both Peter and Becca are always working on staying healthy.
They are always learning and exploring new ways to incorporate 
whole foods and natural remedies into their lives.
It has been so much fun to converse with Becca as she learns about 
essential oils, homeopathy, foods, etc.

The only problem is that they live on the other side of the country from us.
We are very thankful for FaceTime which allows us to chat via video.

Miss you, Becca!
I Love you both!


Friday, January 11, 2013


For the past couple of years we started giving our family one big gift instead of small individual gifts.  
We still buy them a book for their own personal library and the pajamas continue to be a yearly tradition (really the only time they get new pajamas!) along with stockings on Christmas day.
But, as for individual gifts?  
A family gift is much easier on me, the shopper. 
It is usually something big that we could not otherwise justify spending money on.
The family gift is usually something that will make family memories which last a lot longer than a toy!

This year we bought tickets to go see the broadway version of
The Lion King.
It was playing at the Orpheum in San Fransisco during the months of December and January and so I bought us seats in the Mezzanine and enjoyed a night on the town.

So, why the picture of rice at the top of this post?
That is no ordinary rice!  
That is a traditional Liberian (actually well known throughout West Africa) dish called Jollof.
My recipe is a variation of a few different online recipes that I have found for Jollof.
It is mainly rice that is added to a simmering pot of tomatoes, veggies, spices, and meats.
Very easy to make and very good when I tell you what makes it so beautifully orangish-red.
But, first, let me tell you what we liked about The Lion King!

The Lion King was not my first choice.  I really wanted to take the kids to see Wicked but it is so 'popular' (pun intended!) making the price to see this musical way out of our budget.  
Did you not get the pun?  Well, visit here and find out what I'm talking about!

So, The Lion King was our next choice and Foley and Brown Sugar in particular really wanted to see this musical.  

Have you heard about it yet?  Have you seen the pictures of the animal puppets?
That pretty much sums it up.
I walked away from the production having an appreciation for the art of puppetry.
These actors and actresses not only sang and danced, which is hard enough, but also had to move around with a puppet attached to them.  
The sets were beautiful and very African.  

Of course, the experience of taking BART under the bay to San Francisco and walking up to the street level and seeing the Orpheum marquee is quite fun in and of itself.  
Enjoying the architecture of the old building is another treat.
But, when the stage fills with 'animals' of every shape and size and you hear familiar music you can't help but get excited and be amazed at the artistry before you.

I like themes.
I like staying within a theme and creating a fun event for my family.
So, I was looking for all sorts of creative ways to keep the African theme going for our special trip.
I tried to find some African restaurants but we have a limited budget and 
with the cost of the tickets and BART we decided to forego spending money eating out.
So, I made a big pot of Jollof rice and as a snack during intermission we had dried mangos and bananas. Plantains would have been preferred but I couldn't find any already dried.

Here is the recipe for the Jollof.
By the way, I use Red Palm Oil from Liberia.  
Here is a link to Tropical Traditions where you can find out more about the benefits of this particular oil.  Red Palm Oil is a rare (in the U.S.) but beneficial oil.
So, if you are wanting to add a healthy supplement to your family's diet please go and read.


2 lbs cooked meats (chicken, fish, smoked pork, shrimp, or a combination)
1/4 cup Red Palm Oil
1/2 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
1/4 cup Red Palm Oil
1 16oz can diced tomatoes (at least 2 cups)
2- 6oz cans tomato paste
2 quarts water
1 Tb salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups white rice
5 cups chicken stock or water to cook rice in

Sauté cooked meat in 1/4 cup of Red Palm Oil

In a 4 quart pot saute' the onions, peppers, and ginger in a 1/4 cup of Red Palm Oil.
When onions are soft add tomatoes and simmer for five minutes.

Add tomato paste, water, salt, black pepper, thyme, crushed red pepper, and meat.
Simmer for twenty minutes or longer.

In a 2 quart saucepan cook rice in stock until tender.
Combine meat sauce with rice when rice has cooled a bit.
Add seasoning if needed.

I will add that the fish really adds a wonderful flavor to this dish.
I made it with chicken, fish and bacon combined for my meat choice.  
Such great flavors.

Obviously, for our family, all of the above were organic.  
It was not hard to find all of these ingredients although Red Palm Oil isn't just something you find on the shelf of your local grocery store.  
Your health food store might not even carry it!

Before we brought Foley and Brown Sugar home we met a Liberian woman who lives in our area. 
She made us a Liberian feast and used Red Palm Oil in almost every part of her cooking.  
She said that when they are not using it for cooking they boil it down, cool it off, and use it as a moisturizer for their skin.  
The shelf life of Red Palm Oil is pretty much indefinite if it is kept in a cool, dark place.
I am still using some from six years ago! 
It has a very interesting odor to it and is an orangish-red color.  
I hope you will try it out is a great way to add some spice and color and vitamins to a dish.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

~Heather and family

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Irish Lamb Stew

I buy lamb at least once a month now.  After doing some research I found that 
Australians only sell high quality meat. 

In our area, Costco carries lamb boneless roasts and because lamb is so tender it is easy to cut into smaller chunks and freeze for multiple meals or cut up for recipes like the one I made last night.

It just seemed like the perfect day to make a stew and this Irish Lamb Stew was easy to put together without heading to the store for extra ingredients.
The lamb is what gives this stew its great flavor.  

Here's the recipe!

Irish Lamb Stew

1 1/2 Lbs of sliced bacon, cut into small pieces
 (I ONLY use Applegate bacon because it is not only nitrate free but also their hogs are fed organic feed so no GMO corn!)
4-5 lbs of boneless lamb, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour 
(I didn't substitute this with almond flour to make it GF but I will probably try that in the near future)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups of beef stock
(I do not have the ability to get organic beef bones and so I rely on Organic Beef Better Than Bouilion that I purchase from Costco) 
2 tsp white sugar 
(of course I didn't use anything but organic Cane sugar...need you ask?)
6 cups of diced carrots
6 potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
2 tsp of dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups of dry white wine

Place bacon in a large, deep pot or dutch oven.  Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.  
Remove bacon from pot.  Add onion and garlic to bacon fat and sauté until golden.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper and then toss with lamb until coated.
Add meat to the pot and brown.  
Remove meat and onion mixture.
Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of water.

Add meat and onion mixture back into the pot with bacon pieces, beef stock, and sugar.  cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Add carrots, onions, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and wine to pot.  
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Please note that stew just gets better and better as it sits on the stovetop.  
Just keep it warm and you will notice it thickening.  
And the flavors are enhanced as it "brews".
This recipe makes twelve nice size bowls of delicious eating.

Hope you enjoy this good-for-a-cold-winter's-night stew.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Tis the Season

A friend on Facebook stated in her status that she had just watched 
"White Christmas".
This started quite a dialog with much of it being shocked friends encouraging her to keep on the journey of enjoying holiday films.  

I grew up in a home where old films were valued for their content and creativity.
My mom still collects old films and loves to show us her latest finds.
She has an overwhelming collection of greats all stored in silver colored boxes.
Each movie has its place in her catalog of films.
My mom is my credentials when it comes to recommending older movies.
I come by my love for it naturally and have also passed down that love to my daughters.
(I'm sure my boys like them as well!)

I thought I would share with you my top ten Christmas must see classics.
This will not include newer movies that we watch yearly but good old-fashioned 
black and white lovelies.
These are in no particular order...

1.  Christmas in Conneticut
2. Shop Around the Corner
3.  It's A Wonderful Life
4. White Christmas (this is in color but it still is a classic)
5.  Holiday Inn
6.  It Happened on Fifth Avenue
7.  Miracle on 34th Street
8.  Holiday
9. Bells of St. Mary/Going My Way
10.  The Bishop's Wife

We have a few holiday traditions that include some of the movies above.  We always watch #7 on Thanksgiving weekend.  
Our Christmas Eve celebration ends with #3...a great movie to remind us to be thankful going into Christmas morning. 
And while I'm wrapping presents I enjoy #9 every year.

If you are a Facebook kind of person, our friends the Wintons have created a page called 
where Randy and Lisa give details about films that you might want to share with your family.

So, do you have any to add?
Have you seen all the above?
You have 23 more days to find and enjoy before times up and your Christmas movies have to go back into storage (that's if you play by the holiday rules...who made them up anyway?)