Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa

Like many people, I view the entire year as a grilling season that never ends. I even remember grilling in the garage when we lived on Kodiak Island in Alaska!

What better complement to your grilled veggies or meats than a tasty, easy to make, salsa?

This recipe was given to me by my daughter, Inga. I’m not sure where she got it.  I tasted it at her home one year and I knew I had to make it soon! I bought the tomatillos and got to work. I already had all the other ingredients. I’ve eaten some every day since then!

If you are a gardener, you might want to try growing your own tomatillos. Inga has great luck with them, but I haven’t. I may try again this year, but they are so easy to find in my local grocery stores.

I know you’ll look for any excuse to make this – and eat it, too! For those of us who watch our waist, this recipe contains almost no calories or carbs and no fat!

Roasted Tomatillo-Chile Salsa

10 ounces tomatillos, husks removed, tomatillos rinsed and dried
(The number would depend on the size of tomatillos, but generally about 12-15)
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 chipotle chiles (canned in adobo sauce)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1pinch sugar
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos and garlic on a baking sheet. (I sprayed it with a light coating of canola oil spray)

Broil, turning occasionally, until charred, about 8-10 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from skins into a blender. Add chipotles and tomatillos to blender. Process until combined. Add salt, sugar and cilantro. Pulse until smooth.

Notes from Inga: I don’t cut the tomatillos. They get very soft after cooling down from the broiling and you can throw them in the blender whole. I buy the smallish can of chipotles and it will usually make 3-4 batches. I get a few baggies opened up and ready to fill. Once I open the can, I put 3-4 in each baggie, plus the ones in the blender for the current batch, then split the sauce between each baggie. I keep the baggies in the freezer for the next batches. Some chiles are bigger than the others, so that’s why some baggies get 3 chiles and others 4. Just eyeball it.

A hui hou!

Kwan Yin

I made my first visit to the Far East in 1966. If there is such a thing as a past life, I discovered it there. There are several events that have stuck with me for the past 50-plus years to validate those happenings.

One of those uncanny situations revolved around statues in various forms throughout my travels. It wasn’t until years later when I moved to Hawaii, that I discovered the significance of Kwan Yin (Guan Yin, Quan Yin) in all her various poses.

I am not of the Buddhist faith, but there are elements that I find valuable and incorporate into my own faith.

I offer you Kwan Yin, the goddess of compassion, a bodhisattva who continues to teach me more about being a spiritual female.

I am a retired United Methodist minister who uses meditation in several forms. So I feel free to let Kwan Yin guide me in my inner evaluations.

When I need to hear it, she reminds me to be compassionate with myself as well as others.

She reassures me that unconditional love, what we preachers call “Grace” is for all people, including myself.

She is a constant reminder that the blessings of human kindness, or Mitzvah, connect us all.

Most of all, she reveals the feminine face of God, and allows me to experience my faith in ways that are more meaningful in my life, ways that are real.

As I travel throughout the world, it is hard to forget that we are all One, all needing that touch of human kindness and compassion that Kwan Yin offers.

A hui hou!

Orange Sauerkraut

Those of you who have been following this blog since its first post  may wonder why I’m reposting some of the old ones. I’m in the middle of selling my home and buying another, so while my time is taken up with house-hunting, I probably won’t be creating many original posts.

If you are new to my blog, then I hope you enjoy these posts and recommend me to your friends.

I first made this recipe back in June of 1964. How do I know? I always date my cookbook recipes the first time I try it and give the family rating. This one rated very high with everyone!

How do recipes become our own? After so many years, we tend to add, subtract, or substitute from the original. Who knows at what point they become ours and not something from a cookbook?

I adapted this one from an old cookbook I had featuring recipes from Luchow’s German restaurant in New York, first published in 1952. You can see the splattered pages. The real name of the recipe is something more sophisticated, but my kids named it “orange sauerkraut” because of the color it turns out to be.

Even people who don’t think they like sauerkraut seem to love this recipe, probably because the sour cream softens the sharp tang of the kraut. Try it yourself and see what you think!

ORANGE SAUERKRAUT

2 pounds of lean beef cut into small 1-inch squares
4 tablespoons of butter (I substitute olive oil)
2 cups sliced onions
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste, although sauerkraut usually has enough salt
1 15-oz. can tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chopped caraway seeds
2 cups sauerkraut

Sauté beef in butter or olive oil until lightly browned.

Add onions and cook 5 minutes.

Add garlic, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, plus enough water to barely cover the mixture.

Cook slowly until meat is almost done and the sauce reduced, usually about 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently.

When sauce is cooked down, add sour cream, paprika, and caraway seeds. Simmer ½ hour longer.

Mix in sauerkraut and cook until everything is heated to the right temperature.
Makes a wonderful family meal served with steamed red potatoes, or traditional German style with mashed potatoes.

A hui hou!

Meditative Bonsai


I can’t remember exactly when I first became interested in the beautiful Japanese art of bonsai. It was probably in the 1960s, when I traveled to Japan on four different occasions. On one of those trips, I climbed Mt. Fuji with friends, an exciting story for another time.

At the hotel where we stayed the night before our climb, I was quite taken with their bonsai garden. Many of the trees there were over 100 years old with an incredible history. I vowed then to learn how to create these for myself. I brought home many of the “bon” or trays in which to plant the trees. They have survived many moves since that time.

Before I go any further, I want to make sure you know how to pronounce the word “bonsai.” I’ve heard it called everything, including “banzai,” which is the suicide attack word used by the Japanese during World War II. The correct pronunciation is a softer sound of “bone-sigh.”

On one of my favorite sites, you can discuss issues with other bonsai enthusiasts, order supplies, buy bonsai books and tools, learn new techniques, and so much more.

The American Bonsai Society, Inc. was founded in 1967, around the same time I visited the bonsai gardens in Japan. Their official site has many beautiful pictures of bonsai.


I think you can tell from these pictures and from the websites I’ve listed that bonsai is the art of miniaturizing a tree or group of trees. Land is so precious in Japan that often the only way a person can experience nature or go into a forest is to kneel silently before a “grove” of bonsai trees in a tray. In this way, we can simply let ourselves melt into the tiny landscape and imagine walking among the trees, or be drawn into sitting at the base of an old tree. It’s difficult for me to describe this type of meditation, but it is a very effective way to put yourself into a peaceful setting, if only temporarily.

If you can imagine this pot filled with a miniature grove, then you have the ability to create one of your own. The Wikipedia site on bonsai has many beautiful pictures of not only groves and forests, but of other styles that can be produced.

There are a variety of ways to begin a bonsai. What I talk about here is one of the methods I was taught in the 70s at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The roots of a bonsai are trimmed and secured to a pot or bon with a wire threaded through a wire mesh and tied around a twig underneath. This is one of my pots from an old bonsai that didn’t live. As you can see, there are many sizes and shapes for the trays, or pots.


Once the plant is secured in the pot, soil is pressed around the base and roots. Try to find bits of moss, carefully lift it up and transfer it to the top of the soil. This helps to keep the soil from washing away, as well as helping to create an illusion of age.

Then the process begins of trimming the tree itself to a size and shape you desire. This is not to be done in a hurry. The entire process is quite meditative and I can get completely lost in it all.

There are many ways to proceed. One trick in getting the gnarled effect right away is to buy an aging root bound plant from a nursery, like a Juniper that is no longer really any good for planting in your yard. I love the ones that seem to be growing around a rock. The roots have been secured in such a way that the tree appears to be sitting on top.

When I start talking about bonsai, I don’t know where to stop. There is so much to say. All I can suggest is that you get a book from the library to start out, find a nice flat tray, get a plant and just try your hand.

Before COVID hit our island, there was an annual show put on by the Big Island Bonsai Association, but I couldn’t find anything that says whether it continues.

I promise you that it’s extremely addicting. Once you start, you may never be able to stop. Why would you want to??

A hui hou!

The Purple Chrysanthemum

Today’s post is one of the fables in Feral Fables. In the book, you’ll find suggestions for reflection at the end of the fable.
Photo taken at Kalopa State Park, Hawai`i Island.

The Purple Chrysanthemum

Chores never cease, never subside. Menacing dark corners tower above and below her, dusty and dank. Driven here, thrust there, the woman frantically toils in vain. In every quarter of the luxurious home she unearths wads of shabby rags, inside bureau and closets, beneath tables and beds, over shelves and bookcases.

There is no seclusion here. It is no longer her home. Aliens invade, then abandon her in chaos. Serenity is shattered in the assault.

In a frenzy, she searches for one spot, one haven of beauty where she may hide from the muck and gloom, sludge and shadow. She is imprisoned and enslaved by the moment, shaken and disenchanted by infinity.

Others chart her headway as she labors, then regresses. Despondently she presses onward, now advancing, now reversing in an endless non-dance. Joy pales as the obstacles flourish in neglect. Song is stilled, light fractured, until she spots an overlooked box, unobtrusively tucked away behind the bureau.

In dismay, she lifts the lid, supposing it to be filth-filled, or barren at best. A small packet sheathed in foil rests inside, dormant yet dazzling in its obscurity. From the crumpled edge of the opening there protrudes a long green stem, crowned with a large purple chrysanthemum, blossom of her soul. An abundance of petals, long and delicate, unite around a pollen-filled golden center.

Tears fall as she recalls the moment she clipped the bloom from its parent. Tenderly she had placed it into nourishing water where it could take root and grow. Now long forgotten, the chrysanthemum has flourished, alone and in the inky obscurity of the ragged box. Surely it was withered and dead by now, for many moons have passed. Other celebrations have come and gone, but the blossom remains.

She pauses, then meticulously peels back the foil covering. That which was dormant for so long has burgeoned with fragile and lacy roots. What once was a flower, cut off from its source, has sprouted in the dark, unattended and ignored.

Weeping, she holds the hardy segment of beauty in the palm of her hand. The tiny bit of life, buried in the pit of her soul, is resurrected and retrieved. The purple chrysanthemum will never perish. She will survive.

Celebrations!

Happy April!

This year, we have several celebrations from April 1 (April Fool’s Day) through through Easter weekend to Earth Day on April 22. There may be others but these two, plus other holy-days, are the ones we honor most of the time.

For me, the calla lily will always signify Easter. May this graceful calla lily growing out of lava represent whatever holiday you are celebrating this season. May it exemplify the simplicity you seek in your life and the purity you hope to develop in your heart.

A hui hou!

It’s All A Fantasy, Isn’t It?

I started this blog in 2009 when my head and my life were in a different place. At the time, I wanted to give readers an idea of what it was like to live on an acre of lava on the south end of the Big Island of Hawai`i. Over the years, I included a variety of other topics – gardening, travel, recipes, stories, and much more.

I’m in a different time, place, and head space now, and I want my blog to reflect that. So, lately, I’ve been pondering other areas for my blog. I still may update some of those old posts and use them for variety from time to time. For now, as my topics seem to dance around, I want to write more about writing.

I was looking through some of my old journals and discovered that I have been wanting time to stay home and write for several decades. Even my dreams were about writing. Now that I’ve retired from all my other careers, I finally have time to write. So here I am, writing full-time at last!

Mystery writing has filled my mind lately, and if you want to find out more about that, check out my homepage for this blog (lavalily.com). I have one mystery published (Shadowy Tales) and you can find it (pre-sale) as a regular book or an e-book on either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The sequel is on the way and may be out before the end of 2022 (Washboard Tales).

Fantasy writing also appeals to me, and other genres, as well. Whatever I write is fantasy in the sense that it is something that hasn’t happened – yet. The characters I write about are all fantasies in my mind. They live ordinary lives, yet often they become involved in extraordinary mysterious events.

In case you think you might like to start a writing career, too, I will add a tip occasionally to help get you started. Grab a notebook and just start writing. Everyone has a story inside that needs to come out so others can enjoy it.

TIP: Look around you at the everyday people in your life. Fantasize about them becoming involved in solving a small mystery. Choose someone or something and write a scene.

A hui hou!

No Labor Day For All

We love Labor Day for giving us that last bit of summer for cookouts, beach trips, one last vacation day, and more. But not everyone gets to take off on Labor Day. You know who you are:

• medical personnel at the hospitals
• pilots taking you on your trips
• clerks in the grocery store for those few items you forgot
• farmers with animals who need care every day
• workers in any store that stays open today
• police who are always on the job
• radio and TV announcers
• and so many more . . .

It is to you who keep our world going even on holidays that I send a big MAHALO today!

A hui hou!
Lucy

New Home!

In 2005 I bought this sweet small house on an acre of land consisting of nothing but a’a lava rock. Then in May of 2008, I started this blog. I began to share photos and write about how that acre of lava was developing (or not developing).

Since late spring of this year, I was given a home that is closer to the college where I teach, closer to town, and has land that will actually grow something. It is still rocky, but the lava has decomposed enough that it manages to provide more of the lush greenery for which Hawai`i is known.

While I lived in Ocean View, I complained about not being able to grow anything, or at best what did stay alive was growing at a snail’s pace! Now my complaint goes in the opposite direction – everything grows too quickly! This view into the side yard was taken in April.

Two months later in June, it was so overgrown that no one could walk through it! There is a lot of work to be done still, but with the help of some friendly landscapers, it is beginning to take shape. I’ll post more pictures as things start to look beautiful again.

I look forward to cleaning out this little area with its raised beds. It is a perfect spot for growing herbs, or starting seeds, or potting seedlings, and more. The purple sweet potatoes growing here were probably from starts the previous owner was tending. I will transplant some of those into a backyard garden.

Friends have given me lilikoi seedlings and several white pineapple plants. So much to look forward to here!

A hui hou!
Lucy

Tragedy Strikes!

I apologize, but I have just had a major crash on my blog. I am in the process of recreating the posts so bear with me. There are posts available for your enjoyment, however, from the beginning up through July 2011. If you missed some of the early posts, this is a good time to catch up.

Mahalo for your patience!

A hui hou!

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