Vanilla Chai Ice Cream with Banana Pecan Bread
Vanilla Chai Ice Cream with Banana Pecan Bread

What’s your coldest, Winter memory? I’ll answer first. It was a brain-freeze type of cold day. A thick pea coat covered layers of clothes and a wooly sweater. No one could tell I wore a few socks underneath a pair of bright yellow rain boots. The winds pierced through layers of clothes to chill my back. Fingers underneath my gloves froze numb. Large, billowy snowflakes floated swiftly to the ground. The snow was piled one to two feet deep, and there was slippery ice everywhere. Then a child is seen walking in my direction. She’s happily skipping in this frigid, cold weather, while licking an ice cream cone. The mother is walking behind the child. She sees a perplexed, astonished look on my face. She shrugs her shoulders to communicate, “I know, I know… my child is strange…right?” We warmly pass each other, smiling and giggling. Read more

Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars
Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars

Someone said, “There goes the neighborhood’s intelligentsia,” upon hearing about a bookstore closing in the neighborhood. It was a quaint shop of diverse — mostly African-American — literature, music, and small gifts. The book store owner gladly ordered any book upon request, and she welcomed suggestions about upcoming books and authors. When I first moved into the neighborhood, seeing a book shop prominently display African-American literature, from the Nobel Peace Prize to the urban world fiction authors, warmed the heart. The shop had a cozy atmosphere with stained wooden shelves, framed autographs from notable authors, a painting of an angel reading a book that doubled as the shop’s logo, a play corner for young kids, and a long comfortable window seat. It was difficult to not stop in to say hello on the way to the coffee shop. Other times, a cup of coffee was enjoyed in the shop. Not only was the shop a place of literature, for it supported the community. It sponsored poetry events for young adults, introduced new authors, held reading workshops for children of various ages, and organized book clubs for adults. Read more

A Sunday Kind of Love: Roast Chicken; Mashed Parsnips and Fingerling Potatoes; and Southern Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey. Served with a bottle of Viognier
A Sunday Kind of Love: Roast Chicken; Mashed Parsnips and Fingerling Potatoes; and Southern Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey. Served with a bottle of Viognier

“… I don’t want a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, Friday or Saturday
Oh nothing but Sunday oh yea
I want a Sunday Sunday
I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yea
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of loooove.”

– The Etta James version, A Sunday Kind of Love

Etta James spoke to me on a Thursday. It’s when the weather report foretold of showers and thunderstorms all of Sunday. Knowing the temperature to be indecisive at this time of year, I opted for a slightly Southern comfort dinner of Roast Herbal Chicken; Creamy Mashed Parsnips and Fingerling Potatoes; and Southern Collard Greens.

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Corn and Chicken Chowder
Corn and Chicken Chowder

This is a delicious, quick meal that could be made within an hour on a weekday, including prepping time*. In place of chicken use any seafood to make shrimp, fish or crab chowder**. Unlike chicken, add the seafood to the pot after the potatoes are cooked to keep the meat tender. Using fresh corn will enhance the sweetness of the cream and the meat. During the off-season months, use organic frozen corn, for it has a better texture and taste than the non-organic and canned versions. If using fingerling potatoes, slice them. Baby potatoes should be quartered or cut in half, depending on their size. Some people like to peel their potatoes, but this is a weekday meal. Such details can be overlooked in place of saving time. Besides, the visual appearance of red-skinned potatoes provides a nice contrast in a creamy soup. A simple, green salad and a Chardonnay will complete a well-meaning meal.

*Clean and cut chicken on a weekend. Place it in a freezer and defrost before using.
** Buy shrimp raw, clean and devein. Fish should be cut into chucks. Use precooked crabmeat sold in the seafood section.

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Pasta with Creamy Pesto Sauce, Peas, Zucchini and Chicken
Pasta with Creamy Pesto Sauce, Peas, Zucchini and Chicken

Promptly exiting the office at 5 p.m., I had to make a choice between two important tasks causing scheduling conflicts: going grocery shopping or working out. The local gym, free to the neighborhood, is open for two hours on three weekdays. Although, I’ve recently discovered running in cold weather is a refreshing activity, the gym is still needed on snowy days when the streets are icy. That free gym saves the budget from a yearly membership expense, because it is not needed in the summer. The recent snowstorm had enough power to close the gym, in which a few days of running were missed. It also delayed grocery shopping, and the fridge is looking bare. The eggs and the flour are gone, the pale bottoms of the drawers in the fridge are visible, and eating out is beginning to take a toll on the budget. Read more