The first day of the new year has come and gone, with little resolve from me. Last year I put in a few determinations: read more, take days off aimlessly, do more for others and continue to pare down my belongings and everyday tasks.

Not to pound my chest, but I did manage to accomplish the resolutions, except the third, as we never do enough for others. I accomplish the first and second by allowing no intrusions, except on rare occasions, to prevent my enjoying my coffee with newspapers and a bit of reading from other sources. I go to bed with reading matter, remotes and my Samsung tablet on the other side of the bed. Early morning finds my bedside carpet strewn with what has been cast aside or accidentally involved with thrashing about. Keeping my first resolution!

I am working still to keep belongings to a minimum. I try to visit Goodwill or other distributions as I go through my clothes, cabinets and pantry. Now that I am at home more often, I find my old Land’s End sport pants and a weary T-shirt offer a comfortable daily pattering around uniform. When I go to the gym, I try to make my top a bit more presentable than the well-stained one that I prefer my give to vanity.

For almost a decade, I have ordered a daily calendar from The New Yorker. I like the cover as well as changing presentation of color. This year boasts a brilliant turquoise, quite a change from the greys, greens and oxblood from years past. If purple were offered, I would sign on immediately, a tribute to my proud status as a Hurricane. Without my daily notes, I would cease to be even halfway effective as I am, as Shakespeare would say, of an age.”           

As I prepare food for others, as well as myself, the importance of a salad dressing that pleases is essential. With an oil/vinegar mix, the concoction may become a marinade or topping for roasted or steamed vegetables. The recipe I share is not my own, but my favorite. I do add paprika, a dash of Worcestershire and hot sauce; however, it is fine on its own.

Robust Italian


This recipe hails from the “Today Show” many years ago; the young cook noted that her children called it “The Bomb” as they liked it so much. For a Frenchie version cut down on the garlic and mustard and substitute lemon juice for the bottled vegetables; omit Italian seasoning.

2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard                       

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pickling liquid from Giardinera salad

4 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning; pepper

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup canola or olive oil

Whirl all ingredients save oil in a blender for about 30 seconds. Add oil slowly and taste for your preference: more pungent with vinegar or not. I use canola as olive oil does not rest well in the fridge. The salad is easily found in the grocery; you may substitute any pickling from another source or one similar to the Giardinera, as cherry peppers or even caper marinade; if using caper juce just omit salt or taste for it.

VARIATIONS: add 1-2 tablespoons of mayo for creamy Italian; add feta cheese (2-3 T.) and sun-dried tomatoes for a zesty one.

I must admit that I have a small cooking resolve: learn to make simple ricotta or mozzarella, fresh and bright. If I do not keep this determination, I must admit that I will not feel like a failure. In emerging into the seventh and on to the eighth decade, I’m not going to let a few curds and whey, or the lack there of, determine my joy.

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