Friday, November 21, 2014


Recently, if you had been a fly on our wall, you may have overheard. . .

Cucumber:  How do you spell wolf?
Me:  W-O-L-F.
Sweet Pea:  Are you sure you didn't just spell "waffle"?

Me:  Can I show you how to load the dishwasher in a more efficient way?
Honey Bunches:  I may not be efficient, but I am agile and accurate.

Gummi Bear:  What is a fife and comb?
Me:  I have no idea.
Honey Bunches:  Don't you mean a fife and drum?
Gummi Bear:  I don't think so.
For the record, it is fife and drum.

Monkey Toes:  Whoa, this is crazy.  Did you know that Maria Sharapova is 6'2?

Pumpkin:  I need the launchers to get my bagel out of the toaster.
Here, Pumpkin is referring to the kitchen tongs, which has me questioning what exactly the tongs are used for when I am not around.

Cucumber:  Who knew the Tooth Fairy was Catholic?

Sweat Potato:  Is Breaking Balls on tonight?
Monkey Toes:  Do you mean "The Big Break"?
Sweat Potato:  If it's the golf show, then yeah.

Me:  Please don't use your sleeve to wash the table.  That is what we have dish rags for.

After discussing our favorite Junie B. Jones quotes. . .

Sweet Potato:  I think "Aloha-ha-ha" was the last book in the series because she dies.
Sweet Pea:  Junie B. dies?
Me:  No, the author Barbara Park passed away.
Honey Bunches:  And that is why you need to speak with commas Sweet Potato.  It's the difference between "let's eat, Grandpa" and "let's eat Grandpa."

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Art of Culinary

For the last two years, I have had the opportunity to attend a lovely event called "Stars of the Future" at the "W" Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.  It is hosted by the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation, with proceeds helping to defray expenses for high school students traveling to the ProStart National Invitational Competition next April in Anaheim, California. Sissy #1 is a high school culinary coach and her team has participated in this event for the past 4 years.

A little about ProStart
According to their website, ProStart is a two-year "hands on" career-building program for high school students interested in pursuing a career in the restaurant industry.  About 50 high schools in Minnesota currently teach the ProStart curriculum.  Each year, only two teams in the state win spots to compete at the national level.  For the past seven consecutive years, Sissy #1's team has earned one of those spots.

Sissy and her Team with their mentor for The Stars of the Future; Chef Tuan Nguyen of
Parasole Corporate.

Everything We Ate
Students who executed and served these plates are only juniors and seniors in high school.

Maple Braised Pork Cheeks with Savory Bread Pudding

Albondigas al Chipotle with Avocado Crema

Salmon Tartar with Tropical Fruit Chutney and Avocado Mousse

Lamb Barbacoa Tacos with Mint and Lime

Lobster "Rich Boy" with Emily's Homegrown Fried Tomatoes

Zen Reflection Asian Meatballs with Carrot Cilantro Slaw
Chickpea Croquettes with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Bunuelos with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Fall Harvest Topping

Chocolate Hazelnut Whiskey Mousse Cake

Sissy #1, me and Sissy #2 after sharing in wonderful wine and delicious food!  

There are many things I love about this event.  For starters, these young people are goal oriented and driven in their passion for food and their hopes of breaking into the hospitality industry.  To talk with them and listen to their ambitions is inspiring.

Secondly, I am over-the-top proud of my sister who is not only known in this industry, but is well respected.  I was visiting with one gentleman who is a retired GM for a large golf course and served as a food judge in the ProStart competition.  He said that the first time he met Sissy #1 and her team, he wasn't just amazed, he was astonished.  Hearing that, my heart swelled.  As with any of my siblings, when I hear nice comments about them and their character from others, I believe it is a direct reflection on my parents and the home we were raised.

At the end of the evening, Sissy's team was invited to create a six-foot gingerbread house to be displayed during the Christmas season at the Marquette Hotel in Minneapolis.  Sissy confided to us that she doesn't even know where to begin with this project, but her students didn't hesitate to accept the challenge.  What an exciting adventure!

I've included a YouTube video about the culinary program at Sissy's high school, produced and edited by high school students.

Thanks for bearing with me as I rattle on and brag a little about my sister.  I love her and I am proud of her!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Mary Garden

Since I was a little girl, one of my favorite places to spend time in prayer and reflection has been the Grotto at our parish.  It is a place that is not only beautiful, but also peaceful.  The Love Bugs and I frequent the Grotto during the summer months.  We often visit to pray our Rosary and then the Bugs play in the wooded area in front of it, running and climbing the trees.

The Grotto was also a special place for my parents.  They both had a loving devotion to our Blessed Mother.  My Dad served on the Maintenance Committee and would volunteer to help with its upkeep. During the warmer months, my Mom would sit in prayer at the Grotto. 

The day of our wedding, Monkey and I requested a photo be taken here.


A few years ago, the idea of creating a Mary Garden around the Grotto was presented in our parish. This project excited my Mom, as she envisioned its potential.  When Mom was sick and wanted to plan her funeral, she requested that memorials be used towards the Mary Garden Project.

Through the generosity of family, our parish family, and friends, enough money was donated to complete the planting of the garden and purchase a memorial bench.

The Planting

The Love Bugs and I volunteered to help plant the Mary Garden.  I told the Bugs that if they became hot and tired and wanted to quit, to remember that we are not only doing this as a way to honor Mary, but also to honor Grandma.  The Love Bugs were troopers and stuck it out until the end.

The end of a long, hard days work.

The "after"

The Dedication and Blessing

Our beloved Priests, Deacon, and Bishop

From Mary,
We Learn to Surrender
To God's Will in All Things.

From Mary,
We Learn to Trust Even
When All Hope Seems Gone.

From Mary,
We Learn to Love Christ,
Her Son and the Son of God.

St. John Paul II