Tag Archive | Boyz Lunch

A Perfect Day

I was leaning on the raised bed, talking with John who leaned on another bed facing me, and I didn’t notice right away who had jumped up behind me and started rolling in the garlic bed. Heaven! For her.

I was grateful for a perfect day to spend outside with friends. After I spent the morning slaving over a hot oven, I was delighted to sit out on this utterly balmy fall day first serving Boyz Lunch, and then later with another friend for tea before she leaves the country for awhile. I baked perfect hamburger buns, recipe finally adjusted for altitude and salvaged from misreading the warm water amount, to serve mushroom-chickpea burgers with all the trimmings, and smashed roasted potatoes.

I knew I was going to need room in the freezer when I make another batch of dog food tomorrow, so I wanted to use up some peaches; and also, peach shortcakes sounded like the perfect dessert for today. I simply adapted the strawberry shortcakes recipe I had and substituted peaches as suggested. To thaw them just enough to peel and slice, I zapped a bowl of them in the microwave for just a minute, and the skins slipped right off as soon as I cut them in half. Then I tossed them with a little sugar and let them sit until it was time to assemble dessert.

Although the day was perfect, nothing about the food was. I forgot to put cheese on the burgers, the potatoes were undercooked, and somehow the whipped cream was just a little bitter. But the Boyz didn’t seem to notice or care, and the precious time together was perfect.

A Perfect Luncheon

It was a perfect day for Boyz Lunch. While I stayed inside finishing preparations my seat was stolen, and she didn’t give it up easily. The weather was perfect, the mood was perfect, the music was perfect (Radio Swiss Jazz), and the food turned out perfectly as well. I’m grateful for a perfect luncheon.

I used most of my remaining tomatoes to cook a quick sauce for pasta, and made vegetarian ‘meatballs’ with tofu and cheddar cheese. They couldn’t have been easier and were surprisingly delicious! I baked them, but think next time I might add a little olive oil to the mix and maybe fry them for the last few minutes.

For dessert I baked Teddy Roosevelt’s Clove Cake, and it came out the best it ever has at this altitude. I’ve finally, after only thirty years, gotten the altitude adjustments down! Out of curiosity, I searched online for the original recipe (which I had copied onto an index card from a yellowed newspaper clipping in my mothers recipe book) and couldn’t find it. There was an imposter which included molasses and raisins, and another ‘vintage’ recipe that came pretty close but wasn’t attributed to Teddy. Here’s my final high-altitude version:

TEDDY ROOSEVELT’S CLOVE CAKE — high altitude adapted

1 c. butter

2 c. sugar – 2 Tbsp

5 eggs

splash of vanilla extract

3 c. sifted flour + 3 Tbsp

1 T cloves

2 t cinnamon

pinch salt

1 c sour milk + 3 T

¼ t baking soda

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 10” tube pan. Cream butter and sugar til fluffy. Add beaten eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients together and add a third of it to mixer. Add half the milk, then another third of dry. Stir baking soda into last half of milk, then add to mixer. Add final third to batter until just mixed. Pour into pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Once cake has completely cooled, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Spam musubi

I’ve been thinking of making this for Boyz Lunch for a couple of months, and today was the day. After guidance from my Pacific Rim Family earlier when I made musubi with tofu, I finally had all the ingredients to make the traditional Hawaiian treat: sushi rice, wrappers, and Spam. Spam has a sorry reputation in the US, but elsewhere in the world it’s considered a perfectly fine meat-food, like pressed turkey and beef jerky are here. I’ve never had a bite of Spam in my whole life, until today, and sadly it’s likely to be my last indulgence: Not because it wasn’t tasty, it was delicious; but because I’m fundamentally a vegetarian these days. Only as I sliced it did I have qualms, but from then on it was just ‘food.’

Once I browned it in the pan and then caramelized homemade teriyaki sauce on it, it looked and smelled quite appetizing. I had pre-torn the seaweed along perforated lines, and laid it shiny side down as instructed in this recipe, then used the musubi mold to shape and press the cooled rice. A heavy dash of Furikake seasoning over the rice, then topped with the sweet and sticky Spam, and rolled into a tidy package.

The nori sheets torn to size for the musubi mold result in a one-inch wide extra strip of seaweed, and guess who thoroughly enjoyed eating that?

The plate was completed with a toasted slice of broccoli forest bread, and a salad of roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes with a little onion, and fresh yellow pear tomatoes in a romaine leaf. Nothing on the plate necessarily went together, but the Boyz were happy with it all. The unequivocal star of the meal, though, was the Spam musubi. Once again, for the fiftieth time, lunch rated in the Top Five. For dessert, the last of the date bark disappeared.

I went to toss paper napkins in the outside trash bag and spied this gorgeous unknown insect. I posted the image on iNaturalist and got an ID within two hours: a tree cricket! I never did hear tell of such a thing! I shared the photo with a few friends before the ID, and so shared the result. Ellie found this wonderful video of a tree cricket chorus, showing their transparent wings in action. Mary recalled an episode of Big Bang Theory (S3E2) featuring a heated wager over the difference between tree crickets and field crickets. I’m grateful to know what’s been making the magical racket outside these recent nights. I thought they were just regular old black crickets, but am enchanted with the bronze head and shiny green body of this tree cricket, subfamily Oecanthinae, genus unknown.

Speaking of musical interludes, we’ve been enjoying instrumental jazz during lunch, largely Miles Davis, but today I found a jazz clarinet album on Tidal that had us all feeling dreamy. We spent several interludes in companionable silence, eyes closed, leaning back listening to music, sun warming through the umbrella, cool breeze… It felt like summer in a way nothing has felt like soft relaxed summer in a long time. Then Philip noticed that Wren was dancing with her ears to the music…


Awwww… it was three years ago this month that my precious Ojo’s life was ended by a mountain lion… He was such a special cat. And I guess it was a banner apricot year in 2019 also, when this was taken. I still miss him. I’d give up all the apricots forever just to have him back with us.

My view of the Supermoon last night. I’m grateful for living in the country where I can step outside and experience a wild, natural nighttime. After a night sky break, I came in and made dessert for today, yogurt-lemon curd popsicles.

Continuing to eat down the meat in the freezer, I thawed a couple of lamb shanks overnight and braised them in red wine and vegetables, then reduced the broth and shredded the meat, made a biscuit topping, and baked a delicious lamb pot-pie. For my first pot-pie ever I was real pleased with it.

The Boyz loved the pops but I think they were more trouble than they were worth. Philip tries to warm the mold so we can pull them out. Next popsicles will be simpler.
My little baromewren had a rough day: during lunch a neighbor was shooting so she sought refuge in a corner of the patio; this evening we were blessed with a thunderstorm including actual RAIN, and she’s been huddled in a pile of towels in the laundry room since before sunset.

After Buddha School and Bibliofillies zooms I got outside just in the nick of time to pick two baskets of fruit before the storm rolled in. I gave away most of what I picked the other night, but quickly replenished the stockpile. From now on for a few weeks it will be all-apricot-all the time: lunch, breakfast, cocktail… and anywhere else I can think to use them. I’ve pencilled in Saturday to make the first batch of jam.

Profound Conversations

Despite grasshopper predation, the first few peppers are showing up on the Fresno plant that Gabi gave me. I’m excited to try this variety that’s new to me.

I’m grateful for Boyz Lunch today, and for the (relatively) cool breeze and few clouds that tempered the heat. Fennel bulbs aren’t ripe yet so I substituted fennel seed in this recipe, swapped out tilapia for cod, and spinach for broccolini, and we concurred it was a five-star meal and an absolutely delicious way to cook fish. I served it with the last of the coconut-corn soup, garnished with coconut cream and a squeeze of fresh lime.

I’m grateful for the meaningful conversation that we shared today, about aging and choices around death. I know one of them fears being hooked up to machines at the end, and the other wants Miles Davis music at his burial. It’s so important to have these profound conversations.

I’m grateful for this resilient desert willow, which once grew past the roof and froze nearly to death a few years ago. I’ve kept it pruned hard since then, and now it’s barely more than a large shrub, but it’s full of more blooms than it’s had in a decade, and they’re all at eye level.

Colorful Lunch

I’m grateful for another beautiful day of being alive in the neighborhood, and another Boyz Lunch. Today we enjoyed yogurt and spice roasted salmon over rice, fresh garden peas and lettuce, and three-bean salad. The marinade was simple, colorful and tasty, and the salmon cooked to perfection cut in small bites and roasted on high for ten minutes.

There was also a dessert, allegedly sour cream-raspberry brownies, but actually just pudding. I don’t know what went wrong. It was even a high altitude recipe, which I can’t recommend until I troubleshoot it. The Boyz are so agreeable, and maybe actually liked it better as pudding as they said. It was a lot of work and costly ingredients, so I packaged it up and froze portions in case of emergency, rather than dumping it.

Brownie fail before baking; it didn’t look much different after. Tasted good either way!


I don’t know why I’ve resisted strawberries. I’ve tried to grow them off and on for years with little success: a few tiny fruits off a few tragic plants every now and then, each of which was utterly delicious, but too few and far between for the effort and frustration. Amy has been sending me recipes for strawberry this, strawberry that, and I scolded her that she’s obviously mistaken me for someone who likes strawberries. But then I saw the recipe for this cocktail, and I couldn’t resist trying it. I changed the name in my file to Strawberry Gin Cream, which is a much better description. It was delicious! Definitely a dessert beverage, ideally suited I think to brunch.

Today we got to have Boyz Lunch again, walking a fine line with the weather forecast, but the rains held off until well after they went home. Just in case, I planned a meal that I could either serve or freeze, weather depending. I made four-ingredient ‘breakfast’ burritos, served with a few leaves of garden lettuce. Surprisingly, I was the only one who finished the whole thing.

Grated cheddar for the bottom layer, on a warmed tortilla; smashed baby red potatoes next, boiled, then smashed and roasted til crispy, providing a toothsome crunch; canned pinto beans cooked with roasted garden tomatoes and a touch of paprika, Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming, cumin, onion, and garlic; and Bad Dog eggs scrambled with cream, Chimayo pepper, and cream cheese. It was a gourmet meal, but so simple.

Dessert followed, a makeshift strawberry short-crackers. I didn’t have time to make the shortcakes, so broke up graham crackers, topped with whipped cream, and strawberries macerated in sugar. Even though the boys couldn’t finish their main course, they both managed to clean their dessert bowls. We were all grateful today for strawberries. Even Wren and Biko, who got to eat the tops.

Zucchini Lunch

Grateful for a small carrot harvest…
…and another big bean harvest…
…grateful for this lovely little jigsaw pepper, with whimsical foliage and fun fruits…
each tiny pepper a burst of smoky heat.
Grateful for a bountiful fennel seed harvest, despite planting them for bulbs. I harvested a few green and tasty to see how well they retain their flavor drying off the plant; there are dozens more drying on the stem. The stalks grew magnificent flowers and seedheads, but I learned the hard way not to wait too long before harvesting bulbs even if they’re small. I got four big bulbs out of more than a dozen plants, and one day I noticed that the bulbs I’d been waiting for to get bigger had started shrinking. Next season, I’ll plant fewer, farther between, and pounce at the right moment.

I’m grateful for the first Boyz Lunch in a month yesterday. All is well and we are reunited on the patio. “Three is good,” said one, but it may as well have been the other. I tried out a zucchini lasagna on them, and even though I thought it was too salty they loved it. I’m grateful that almost every dish I cook for them they rate in the Top Five. This zucchini lasagna was a blend of three recipes I found online. I sliced a large zucchini thinly with a cheese slicer and layered it with a faux-ricotta blend (substituting cream cheese when I found the ricotta had turned pink), last year’s tomato sauce simmered with browned sausage, and shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Three layers deep in the baking dish, with the top layer latticed, a delightful frill.

Sprinkled with seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, then baked for half an hour, it was sizzling delight.

Boyz Lunch on Saturday with sourdough biscuits, then double dessert. I’m grateful for zucchini lunch. I served chocolate zucchini cake with Bello’s frozen cappuccino on the side. “All you have to do is…” he says every time. So simple, so delicious!

And finally, fermenting success! This second batch of hot sauce peppers I packed with room temperature brine, and in four days it was cloudy as it should be, and tiny bubbles rose from the bottom when I swished the jar. Into the fridge with this batch, and I’ll start another tomorrow.


I had several opportunities today to be my best self. I took them all, gratefully! Living in solitude, I don’t get a chance every day to do something kind or helpful for someone else. So much of my mindfulness is all in my head. But today was a day full of happy, healthy connections. One of these was a Bonus Boyz Lunch. Yesterday’s savory squash blossoms cooked pretty well: I let them thaw for about an hour, but think it would have been better to fry them straight out of the freezer. I stuffed today’s blossoms with a surprise sweet mix: ricotta, confectioner sugar, and chopped basil. They complimented each other on the plate.

A cheese, bean, and chicken burrito anchored the lunch, with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream; squash blossoms; and beans sautéed with generous sprinklings of two Penzeys spice blends. We didn’t really need dessert, but I tried to make ‘dalgona,’ a whipped coffee that should have turned out like a pudding. It failed miserably, so I poured some into bowls and topped with chocolate ice cream, and they were happy. We were all happy. It was another opportunity, for equanimity, for making the best of a bad situation.

As I write, there is a grasshopper crawling around on the orchid in front of me. She’s a female ready to lay eggs. I just can’t bring myself to kill her, or throw her to Wren, nor can I toss her outside where I’m sure she’ll spawn dozens more. Without the Phoebe families of the past few years, the garden is dangerously deep in grasshoppers. I’ve noticed a dearth of birds of all kinds in recent weeks, and I’m not the only one in the area bemoaning the uncanny silence. Where have all the birds gone? Higher ground? When I use the new Sound ID feature of the wonderful Merlin Bird ID app, I record more overhead jets than bird calls. Mostly I’ve recorded magpies, jays, and the two common hummingbird species. I’m grateful for the opportunity this app gives me to identify and log birds in my pocket computer, and for the few new birds I’ve heard, including the Ash-throated Flycatcher, and the Western Wood Peewee.