Peanut Butter and Jam.

Peanut Butter and Jam.

Finally!
The breath of spring is in the air after a dreadfully long and brutal winter, a winter I feared would never end!
But at long last, it is here.

Peanut Butter and Jam?

I know you are all thinking: ‘What does a Lilac tree and peanut-butter have in common?’

Well to me, Lilacs and Spring go together like Peanut Butter and Jam.

With the arrival of spring, the windows of my house are thrown open, blowing out the doldrums of winter and infusing it with the fresh scent of spring. And it is not spring without the pungent smell of lilac wafting through those wide open windows.

With the late snows my tree is not yet in bloom, but it soon will be. And soon my house will be steeped in the aroma of spring.

Maybe I’ll have a PB&J just to celebrate.


Springs’ First Breath: Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Well, it finally came, Spring.

After such a long hibernation, trapped house-bound, it is marvelous to be able to sit outside on the patio and have dinner. This is that brief period of Minnesota spring where the snow is just behind us and the heat of the spring has not yet manifested in the feasting hordes of mosquitoes.

Tonight was a simple dinner of Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, set out for assembly, and fresh fruit. Delish.

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Simple Curried Chicken Salad

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup mayonnaise (you can use light to reduce the calories)

1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped dried cherries or mixture of both.

1 cup grapes, sliced in half (optional)

1/4 cup diced white onions.

2-3 tbsp sweet curry

2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped

Mix the first 6 ingredients together. You can add more of any one to suit your taste. My family likes it very curry flavored and crunchy, so I add more  curry andcelery. Then add the chicken and fold gently to mix. I also prefer to have the grapes in there, along with the the tartness of the dried cherries, but if you dont have the fresh grapes on hand, this is just as good without them.

You can serve this right away, but it tastes best after it has had a chance to rest.

This salad can be served as pictured, on lettuce leaves, which is naturally Gluten Free. It can also be served on whole grain bread, in pita pockets, or on a bed of salad greens with radishes and cucumbers, dressed with a simple vinaigrette.


Sanity Break

April 15th. It’s tax day. 

Not only is tax day gloomy enough reason for a day, but the weather is foul too. It is mid-April and we are still knee deep in snow/ice, the temperatures are hovering around 32 degrees and an added misery is a stiff wind, overcast skies and the utter atrocity of having to wear Ugg boots past April 1st not for fashion, but for warmth. 

Considering it has been weeks upon weeks of this torture I should be about on the verge of losing my sanity, suffering from what I’m sure the pioneers felt after months of seemingly endless long cold winters, cabin fever. But my dear sweet husband took me up north for a couple of blessed nights to the North Shore of Lake Superior. 

I’ve mentioned before my trips up north (here), and how they are tonic to my soul. That open water of the lake reminiscent of my beloved pacific NW ocean, the elevated topography that harkens to the summers of my youth in the high desert of Central Oregon, both are a salve to the irritation of being landlocked in a fairly flat part of the state. Sensing I was at my wits end with the winter from Narnia, we drove through a windstorm that gave stiff competition the storm of Dorothy’s. Instead of arriving in Oz, we pulled into Two Harbors, MN to a storm blowing across the lake that made it roar no less forcefully than a true ocean would. We unpacked our things in to our little condo, pulled out our books and settled in to enjoy reading and watching the storm rage. 

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The next day we drove in to the town and walked out to the harbor light house, being treated to a sight like below. Mind you, this is April 15th. By now the ice houses are suppose to be off the lakes, people are putting in their lake house boat docks, the grown thawed and spring plantings are being put in. Ummmm, yeah, not so much this year. 

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We walked past a floating hunk of ice similar to what I envisioned Rudolph the Reindeer and his buddies rode to escape the Abominable beast. As we got to the base of the harbor light house, this is what greeted us:

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Across the way, was an impressive view of the reason this little tiny town exists, barge loading for coal and taconite shipping. 

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The skies cleared not long after I took this photograph. We drove around the sleepy little town, up in to the hills, down along the waterfront, then finally back to the condo to settle in for more reading till dinner. 

We woke the next morning to eye blinding sunshine. The lake was calm and smooth as glass. The geese were milling about on the still snow covered ground, the males preening and caterwauling to the females, obviously enjoying the glorious break in the weather also. I sat in the window, tucked in to a leather chair reading, basking in the warmth of the sun through the window and gazing at that glorious sight. 

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Alas. All fun must come to an end, and after having a light breakfast, we headed home, making a short detour to Canal Park in Duluth. I love Canal Park and my husband loves to check out what is new in the Duluth Trading Company store. We parked down by the shipping entrance, since it’s always fun to see the barges coming and going through the canal, watching the lift bridge rise and fall. To our utter amazement, this is what greeted our eyes!

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Normally that is all water. Where I am standing, there should be a good drop to the lake surface, but instead, the ice was piled in boulder like fashion as high as I am tall and as far as the eye could see. No shipping traffic coming and going through here, but in the far distance one could see the barges anchored, awaiting passage. Our eyes, unaccustomed as they have grown to light this winter, were blinded by the radiance from the sun and snow. It’s obvious that the camera on my phone felt the same way also! I guess all that wind drove all the floating ice from the lake directly to here. I guess that is the power of 50 mph winds!

After enjoying a lovely morning on the northern shore of the lake, it was time to head back to reality, and reality was awaiting us as we drove over the cliff side of Duluth in to the interior of the state. We crossed that natural barrier and drove right back in to snowy-slush mixed with freezing rain. 

As I sit, pecking away at the keyboard, I stare out at the iceberg I call my backyard. Once again I return to the consequences of living at the feet of the North Pole. Once again, I return to muddling through