Mock Mashed Potatoes?

Mashed cauliflower dish

Mashed cauliflower dish

After years of hearing people talk about substituting cauliflower for potatoes and mashing, I tried a recipe a couple of years ago in which I made the substitution and I fell in love.  Although I posted about it, I just mentioned substituting.  Since this makes such a yummy, yet healthier alternative, thought I’d post in time for Thanksgiving.

Mashed Not Really Potatoes

  • two heads cauliflower
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled
  • 1 pkg fresh baby spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1/2 cup milk or substitute
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or cream substitute (coconut creamer, soy creamer, etc.)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese (you pick)  I used 1/2 goat cheese cheddar and 1/2 pecorino romano
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut off the leaves and stems from cauliflower and cut into large chunks.  Chop each parsnip into 3 pieces.   Place cauliflower and parsnips in a large steamer and steam until fairly soft (approx. 20-30 min.).  In batches, process steamed veggies with blade in food processor or use smoothie setting on blender.

While the veggies are steaming, chop onion and saute until soft.

Put baby spinach through slicer blade of food processor or chop with knife.

Mix butter, beaten eggs, and cream in a large bowl and add all other ingredients, including the steamed, mashed veggies, in with them.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Butter a large baking dish and fill with all of the mixture.  Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes — until golden on top.

Makes 8-12 servings (you know, depending…).

Share Your World #46

Cee’s Share Your World this week:

What type of popular candy you do not like to get?

I mainly just eat imported dark chocolate (mostly from Trader Joe’s) if I want candy. I had to look up a “25 favorite candies” list to see what’s popular and there was almost nothing on it I would buy or eat.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $500?

I’d have body patterning (type of massage) treatments

Where do you eat breakfast?

Sometimes sitting at table on sun porch but lately mostly in front of the TV, I’m sorry to say…

Would you rather ride one of the worlds longest zip lines or bungee jump one of the highest in the world? This will come with a 5-day all expense vacation.

I’d rather never take a vacation anywhere ever again than do either.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

When I posted on my main blog about a personal situation that’s troubled me I had SUCH lovely support from fellow bloggers.  A friend who moved far away is in town and another friend and I are visiting with her on Sunday; I’m really looking forward to that..

Cee’s Share Your World #45

Cee’s questions for Share Your World this week:

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “fun”?

That I’m not sure I know what it is any more.  Years ago I’d probably have named “clubbing” as top.  Loved to go hear great bands and dance at the clubs in Chicago.  Now it sounds loud and hellish to me.

Salty being Salty...

Salty being Salty…

Now I like more quiet things like reading, art museums, etc.  Although I have fun with my cat.  Or at least I think he’s funny.  Like his fave activity when he can’t decide if he wants to be in or out:  go to cat door and lie down with the front half out and the back half in…  That cracks me up.

What is your favorite time of day?

The wee hours of the night/morning when most of the world (at least the part of it in my time zone :-) ) is asleep and everything is quiet.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want have a evening with?

One part of me wants to name someone like the Dalai Lama or Ammachi, because I think it would be so interesting and amazing.

But I also think it would feel sort of uncomfortable since I don’t really know them.  So then I think of a few great friends who are deeply spiritual and full of wisdom and I’d name Gay and Sybil as my top choices.  The conversation is always deep and at the same time I’m basking in the love we share and the comfort of knowing…  And, as we live far apart I don’t get to spend an evening nearly often enough.

Complete this sentence: Something that anyone can do that will guarantee my smile is…

Hold up a puppy or a kitten.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We had some lovely days and I got to take nice walks.  This week I’m looking forward to being out from under a promise to read someone’s book and write a review.  Review is done and in queue to be published so the coming week feels lighter already!

Restaurant Hop in Flint

My mother and I love to eat out and love good food, so a big part of our happy anticipation of the annual trip to Flint is the list of restaurants we love.  Some of them are old favorites that have been around since my childhood or before and have miraculously stayed in business in spite of the economic trials and tribulations of the area.  Some of them are newer places we’ve discovered through friends.

Luigi’s Restaurant opened when I was three and I don’t think it was long after that my parents took me for the first time.  They make a thin crust pizza so good I’ve never found another I’ve liked as well.  The current owner insisted on learning the recipe from the original owner when he bought the place and I wish we could somehow make sure it keeps being passed along.

People from Flint who’ve moved away call all the time and ask to have pizza sent express mail!

Kathy’s Restaurant, in Flushing (nearby town to which we moved when I was 12) came along after we left, but after a friend had us meet her for lunch there, we became regulars.  Every year we have both a lunch and a dinner at Kathy’s.  A wide-ranging menu, everything freshly prepared, and all yummy.  From the fabulous chicken salad to the pot roast to the salads and sandwiches to the lemon blueberry mascarpone cake, everything is good and reasonably priced.

Italia Gardens opened some 20 years before I was born, founded by emigres from Sicily who created a yummy skewered-meat dish called spitini.  We were regulars throughout my childhood, chowing down plates full of spaghetti and spitini once or twice a month.

Now run by their grandchildren, the new location is huge and horribly noisy, so we often just get take-out to freeze and bring back to Kentucky.  The new place doesn’t really inspire me to take photos as it’s kind of generic but I LOVE this photo of the original owners, which they put everywhere:


Fandangles, in Flushing, is a newer arrival on the scene.  Hard to decide whether Kelly, the waitress who’s the poster woman for positive thinking/living, the exquisitely delicious food, or the wonderful and constantly changing art display on the walls is the bigger reason to go.  It’s not terribly far from the Pierson Rd. exit of I-75, so if you head north in Michigan, stop off and have an amazing lunch or dinner while you bask in the sunshine of Kelly.

We have a lunch and a dinner there every time and both are highlights of every vacation.

Whitey’s in Davison, another small town which is on the other side of Flint from Flushing, has also been around since 1955 but in those days we just didn’t drive that far for an ordinary meal out (current freeways that now make it a snap didn’t exist) so we didn’t experience it until one of Mom’s friends who now lives in Davison had us meet her there for dinner.  Now we go twice every visit.  Nothing fancy, but a nice atmosphere and good food.  I’m hooked on their lobster bisque and coconut shrimp and you pretty much can’t pry me away.

Last but not least is Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor.  Located in a restored 19th century train depot, Gandy Dancer goes back to at least my childhood, when my parents used to meet some friends there for New Year’s Eve occasionally.  I never went till we started these annual journeys (the same friends still live down that way!) but I fell instantly in love.  Seafood is their specialty and they do very well by it.  I love the old-fashioned decor and the view of the occasional Amtrak stopping to let off and pick up passengers.  Lunch there is an annual must.

For more about this year’s visit:

Share Your World #43

Lama debating

Lama debating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Share Your World from Cee:

If you were on a debate team, what general subject would you relish debating?

Although I can be very argumentative, I don’t think I’d be on a debate team.  The nature of debate is taking a position from which you don’t back down and the idea that there is a winning position.

Since I’ve been aiming to practice right speech, I’ve fallen in love with the core idea that true communication is entered with a willingness to be changed by the conversation.  To really listen to the other side with a mind open to the possibility you will change your position or synthesize the two in some way.  I don’t feel debate holds any space for such a philosophy…

What’s your strongest sense?

Depends on how “strongest” is meant.  My eyes, for instance, still need corrective lenses at this point (thanks to unwinding muscles, on the way to not needing) but I probably use my vision more than any other sense.

I love great food, which I think of as involving both smell and taste and I adore the scent of something yummy roasting or baking in the oven.  But I don’t know that my sense of smell is particularly acute and I definitely don’t have the gift some have of taking a sniff or a taste and being able to name all the ingredients in something.

I studied music for many years and loved it and have always had a big collection and listen regularly.  I’m also easily affected by sounds.  Many people’s voices make me cringe.  Many sounds bother me. Other sounds can soothe me.  I can get a headache in five minutes of sitting in a really noisy restaurant.  But is that a strong sense or just an annoying use of one???

I think I could safely say that touch is the one I have least in my consciousness though there are fabrics and items I can’t stand the feel of.  Most of the time I touch things without being mindful of how it feels…

The one I’d like to develop more fully is the sixth sense.

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

Hanging in There

List your favorite flavors or types of tea.

Not really a big fan of tea.  I favor the not-so-good-for-you black teas and generally Indian over Chinese.  Of those, some Earl Greys (which does happen to use Chinese) and some Darjeelings would top the list but in both there are brands whose versions I can’t stand.  I also like many sorts with cinnamon in them.

I’ve tried really hard to like the better-for-me herbal and green teas, but for the most part I just don’t like ’em.  I have fallen in love with Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice; the only herbal I’ve found that has a nice strong flavor and tastes good to me and got myself switched from a late-night cup of black tea to Bengal Spice instead.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?


Grateful for lovely weather that let us open windows and enticed me to take up walking again for the first time in a while.  Not that I was completely bed ridden, I did walk for normal activities, but, you know, actually saying “I’m going for a walk” and then heading out :-)  This week I’m looking forward to more walks now that I’m getting back in the habit.

Share Your World #42

Flint Art Institute

Cee’s questions for this week’s Share Your World:

Are you usually late, early, or right on time? 

When I was younger I was always early.  When chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia were at their worst, I tended to be 10-15 minutes late everywhere.  Now I’m generally on time or within a few minutes one side or the other.  The better I feel the more I move back toward being a little early.

If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels?

None of the above.  I generally prefer to write non fiction.  But if I had to choose one of those, it would be novel, seeing as I’ve already written one and have significant chunks on a couple more.

Where did you live at age ten?  Is it the same place or town you live now?

Flint, MI.  We moved out to a nearby town called Flushing just after I turned 12.  Since then I’ve lived in Evanston, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, back to Chicago/Evanston, San Francisco, Corte Madera and Lexington, KY.

Would you rather be able to fly or breathe under water?

I’m not very inclined toward either but forced to choose I guess it would be flying.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Took some food to a friend’s elderly mother who’s had a bad fall and had a lovely time — plus, you know, that good feeling from doing something for someone.  I’m looking forward to working on ideas for Nano Poblano/NaBloPoMo next month so I’m a bit better prepared this time.

Questions from Liz

English: Chicago, as seen from Northwestern Un...

English: Chicago, as seen from Northwestern University campus at Evanston, IL, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Liz, over at, has posted a series of questions she’d like us to answer.  Although we connect more through my other blog, I usually do this kind of challenge over here…

What’s your favorite way to pass time? What do you enjoy most?

It’s changed a lot over time.  In my Chicago days, I LOVED to go to hear the best local bands at small local clubs (still my favorite way to hear live music).  But I’m less inclined to huge amounts of noise and crowds these days.

A long time of coping with unusual health issues has left me leading a really quiet life and I’m afraid my favorite activities have become reading and watching TV.  I’ve always loved both, but I used to spend a lot more time doing other things as well.

When I’m feeling better, I love to go to spiritually-oriented events like a Full Moon Ceremony, a puja, a zikr and I look forward to getting back to that.

What is the best or hardest decision you have ever made?

Moving to Kentucky.  I’d been living in Marin County for a while and I totally loved it.  But my health issues were worse and I couldn’t work more than half time (and struggled to do that).  It’s crazy expensive out there and I just couldn’t make it work.

My mother was in Kentucky and I knew I needed a place where I could heal.  But at the time Kentucky had almost nothing in the way of alternative therapies, and a pretty small array of spiritual groups.

I also knew that being with various family members who were still around at the time would push me to deal with some issues and I felt guided to make the move.  It took me a couple of years of foot dragging to convince myself on all levels to do it.

Things have changed a lot here and there’s far more stuff going on that suits my tastes, though I’m not in love with being here.  But it has proved to be the right place to work through a lot of issues and I’ve found my way to amazing practitioners who’ve helped with the healing.

Describe your personality with only one word.


What’s been the most important/transformative moment in your life during the past year?

Last April I had an extraordinary healing session with a local healer.  I wrote a bunch of posts about it on my other blog, starting here.  Outwardly my life probably looks about the same but inwardly it changed so much, I know the outer aspect is in the process of changing too.

What is standing between you and happiness?

Nothing.  Although I’m a little whiny these days about the final phase of healing, overall I stay pretty content.  Decades of yoga and meditation and other practices have given me a gift of equanimity and trust me when I tell you I NEVER had that before.  So, not a giddy kind of happiness, but a state of tranquility that’s not easily shaken and which I’ve learned to be quick to recover on the rare occasions when it is.

What (or who) are you most grateful for?

Whoa that’s tough to pin down.  I’ve been working a lot the last couple of years on practicing gratitude so I’m quite conscious of how incredibly fortunate I am on many fronts and I’m grateful for everything from my breath to clean running water to the fact that I’ve never had to go hungry.

Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but have never done before?


Villefranche-sur-Mer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not very adventurous so I don’t have a list of things I’m longing to do or try.  Two items more recently high on my want-to-do list are attending immersion schools for (1) French, in Villefranche-sur-Mer and (2) Italian, in Todi, Umbria.  I’ve actually studied both languages before and, in fact, had a summer session studying French at the Sorbonne many years ago, but I’ve never had an immersion experience to help me really get the conversational aspect to fluency.

Where have you lived in your life? If you’ve never moved (or even if you have), where would you like to try living?

I grew up in Michigan but spent holidays and big portions of summer here in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky.  I went to Northwestern in Evanston, IL and fell in love with the Chicago area.  Had a semester of graduate school in Madison, WI before transferring back to Northwestern–aside from that one semester, seven years in Chicago.  Moved to Portland, OR for three years and then attended law school in Seattle for three years.  Moved back to Chicago for seven years, before heading to San Francisco and Marin County for almost seven years.  [Is there a moving equivalent to the seven year marital itch???]  Been in Kentucky ever since.

The Golden Gate Bridge and the City of San Fra...

The Golden Gate Bridge and the City of San Francisco as seen from the Marin Headlands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve occasionally wished I could spend some time living in the south of France or in Italy but I’m not sure I’m really cut out to be an expat.  I mostly toy these days with whether I’d go back to Marin or Chicago when my mother passes and I no longer am tied to Kentucky.

What is the most important/most meaningful thing in life?

A compassionate and loving heart

In one sentence share what your wish for your future.

A compassionate and loving heart.

Where do you find your inspiration + motivation?

Oddly enough reading novels and watching TV and movies often brings inspiration.  I’m always spinning out thoughts from scenes or dialogue — someone else would often have a hard time guessing how I got from point A to point B but I take off on flights of fancy that arise from odd connections.

I’m also inspired by meditation or chanting or going to spiritually-based events.

What is your motto in life?

I’ve never had one.

Share Your World #41

Cee’s questions for this week’s Share Your World

What genre of music do you like?


I love a lot of music but I guess my fave genres are 70’s rock (though it’s not the only era I listen to or own), chamber music and jazz.  However, because of teaching yoga I have lots of playlists of New Age music, chanting, etc. and, because I like a calm atmosphere, I wind up listening to those more than anything these days.

My don’t like list is easier:  don’t much care for Country or Rap and, with the exception of a few arias, by and large I loathe Opera.

What is the worst thing you ate this last week?

I’m so incredibly fortunate that I not only never go hungry, but I really get to eat great food.  The worst thing I can come up with is that the pappadam at my favorite Indian restaurant wasn’t as good as usual.

Would you like to be famous?  In what way?

I’m hoping one day that I can help a whole lot of people with what I’ve learned on my healing journey/spiritual quest.  But not necessarily to be famous.  Really wouldn’t like the kind of fame that magnetizes paparazzi and autograph requests wherever you go.  Yuck!

Complete this sentence:  This sandwich could really use some …


I’m a big fan of most stuff from Trader Joe’s, but I keep trying various wraps and shaking my head wondering how tarragon can wind up having no taste or how they could put some of their wonderful bacon in and you can’t taste it at all.  I only get one if I’m there, have nothing for dinner and am too tired to make another stop.  And when I get home, put a bunch of spicy mustard on a plate to keep dipping the tasteless sandwich in so it takes like something.  If I’d had one this last week, it would have been the worst item in the above question.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Grateful for all that good food I’ve gotten to eat.  Looking forward to a quiet week.

Flint 2015: the Art Institute

Even though we just went one time during our visit, I decided to give the Flint Institute of the Arts its own post.  I’m combining some photos from the past with photos from this year.

The only special exhibit while we were there (having arrived in town on the last day of an exhibit on French deco glass we’d have loved) was “French Twist: Masterworks of Photography from Atget to Man Ray”.  Neither of us loved it although there were some interesting things in the notes posted by the works and it was fun to step into a particular era in photography.

It’s funny we’ve become such fans because we were not regular visitors nor supporters while we lived there.  But I developed an interest in art after I left the area; at least enough to enjoy visiting art museums.  Mom doesn’t usually enjoy art museums at all so she came the first time with reluctance.

But this is a very well put together little museum with an eclectic range, an eye for good acquisitions in their price range, and some particularly good examples of American art.  She really enjoyed it and the annual visit has become a highlight of our trek to Flint.

This time I was particularly delighted to glance at a remainder table outside the gift shop and see something I’ve asked about and wished for over the years:  a gorgeous book on the American Art at FIA.  A $35 coffee table book on sale for $5!  With color photos, including most of my favorite works.  I’d have loved a book that covered everything, but given the size of the American collection and the many pieces I love in it, I’m thrilled!

You have to fill out a form to take pictures inside the museum (can’t even shoot the cafe without signing!) and then you’re not allowed to put them up on the web anywhere, so my photos are all outside.  The museum is in a cultural center that has a really nice theater/auditorium, a planetarium, a school for the arts, a children’s museum, etc., so some photos are of nearby places.

Charles Stewart Mott, founder of the Mott Foundation, lived in Flint from 1907-1973 (his death)* and was a great supporter of FIA.  The Foundation continues to provide generous funding for the museum, which I’m sure has much to do with the high quality of such a small museum.

We became members and look longingly at the newsletters full of the great array of events there.  A meander through the museum, me pushing Mom in one of their wheelchairs, is a must for every visit to Flint!

*He lived there throughout my childhood and rumored to be a mean old curmudgeon but I have no personal knowledge of anything but his great philanthropy.