"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: jimmy carter

christmas spirit . . . alive and well!

christmas goose cookieOn Tuesday, I had a chance to have lunch with a friend whom I’ve known since junior high school back in Virginia. It was the first time I’d seen him in a few months, the last time when I brought him sushi to his house while he was recovering from radiation and immunotherapy treatments for Stage IV melanoma that had metastisized to tumors in his brain.

Now, just a few months later, he looked light and uplifted with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye that I had not seen for years, even before he became so terminally ill, it seemed. We had a relaxing lunch at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Northampton, MA. where the manager of the restaurant offered us desserts, compliments of the house! We had each feared that he might not make it to Christmas this year – but instead, he seems so stabilized and recovered that he drove himself to Virginia for a Thanksgiving visit with his family just a couple of weeks ago.

Former President Jimmy Carter has made a similarly remarkable recovery from melanoma and tumors in his brain as well in just a few short months. So, with the combined radiation and especially the novel immunotherapy treatments that have evolved in recent years, one cancer, at least, seems to be treatable. It has been glacially slow for progress like this to be made on other forms of the disease, especially ovarian cancer which is still impossible to detect early enough to do much about it.

So, we are celebrating Christmas this year with a light heart and gratitude for small and big miracles. I’d say this one was pretty big though, wouldn’t you?

Merry Christmas everybody!






jimmy carter’s favorite dinner again! . . .

delicata squash with maple syrup, corn on the cob, corn muffin and caesar salad - buttermilk

delicata squash with maple syrup, corn on the cob, corn muffin and caesar salad – buttermilk

I wonder how Jimmy Carter is doing? He turned ninety-one recently while having radiation treatments for melanoma. Still had that radiant smile going though. I read once that his favorite meal at a Plains, Georgia diner was always the same: three vegetables, cornbread and a glass of buttermilk.

We’ve had a couple of these meals in his honor already, and for some reason, I thought it would be nice to have it again tonight. There’s a delicata squash roasting in the oven with a maple/butter glaze permeating our kitchen with a delicious fragrance. Fresh corn on the cob and a caesar salad with croutons. A heated corn muffin in the skillet and a chilled glass of buttermilk.

Here’s to Jimmy Carter’s health!


“at ease with whatever comes. . . “

DSC_0093_2If any of us has led a life as sincerely altruistic as Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have for as long as they have (40 years after his presidency,) then I guess we might be at ease with whatever comes when we’re ninety years old too.

To me, It’s not just that his demeanor and self-possession make such a stark contrast to the bloviators (Trump & his Republican candidate counterparts) that we are forced to listen to in the news. More pointedly to me, it makes the everyday personal conflicts that all of us have with members of our family or friends that seem so petty and such a waste of time and life energy.

It’s interesting to note also that serious illness, like melanoma cancer and its invasive reach into the brain, serves as a catapult for the world’s attention. Had Jimmy Carter not gotten cancer and died instead by falling off a ladder, would the world (and the news media) have had a chance to acknowledge the humanitarian contributions that he and his foundation have achieved? For example, a rampant worm infestation in millions of Africans has been eradicated now to only a few.

Also notable to me is that his successor at the Carter Center is not one of their three sons or even Amy, the infamous redhead kid in the White House – but a grandson who was named Chairman of the Board last November. Jimmy Carter also mentioned that their endowment is $600 million strong.

Throughout these newsbreaks, his wife, Rosalynn has been silent by his side. But she has also been by his side doing rather than staying home and drinking tea. Did you know that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were BOTH awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for their humanitarian efforts?

So, even if we’re not planning to fly to Nepal to build houses for village people or to travel to Guyana to monitor elections, what can we do to make our own lives more meaningful?

That’s a good question – and lives like the Carters are inspirational to taking a break from the bullying emptiness of campaign rhetoric and petty internecine struggles that seem so commonplace everywhere we look.

a ‘jimmy carter meal’ part 2 . . .

jimmy carter dinner

Here’s our dinner in honor of Jimmy Carter:

3 vegetables: cucumber soup, creamed corn, summer squash;

corn muffins;

and a glass of cold buttermilk!

Made from vegetables from farm stands ready to go on a Sunday afternoon at home. I noticed that it was a delicious meal, made from simple recipes whose tastes complemented each other in a soft and tasty way. Moreover, there was not a hint of obligation to be “vegetarian” – no moral tone to undercut the meal at all. It was just vegetables, cornbread and buttermilk.

I’m thinking we could do this pretty often from now on!

The only thing I might have done differently would be to make the corn muffins from scratch than from a Jiffy box. But the muffins were very quick and easy.

We raised a glass to Jimmy Carter and to his wife, Rosalynn – and hope that their days may be filled with grace whatever comes their way.

a jimmy carter meal . . .

jimmy carter mealI read that Jimmy Carter, who has just learned that he has cancer, likes to visit a favorite diner where he lives in Plains, Georgia (Mimmie’s Restaurant) and always orders the same thing: “three vegetables, cornbread and a glass of buttermilk.”

We wish Jimmy Carter well! He’s led by example and pounded the nails at Habitat, worked in the fields and still teaches classes in Sunday School. He hasn’t just signed checks and made speeches as a philanthropist – he’s “been there and done that” for decades since he was President of the United States. At ninety years old, he and Rosalynn are fortunate they’ve had each other while sharing their life journey for so long.

And tonight, we’re going to have a Jimmy Carter meal for supper!

Our vegetables will be leek/cucumber soup, pale green squash, creamed fresh corn and cornbread. I’ll probably have a cold glass of buttermilk too! The soup has already simmered and is cooling on the stove ready to be processed in the blender. I’ll make the cornbread later in the afternoon while catching up on how the PGA tournament is going. And the squash and creamed corn will be prepared right before we sit down to eat.

I’ve discovered a way to cook supermarket corn on the cob which is not usually as sweet nor as fresh as that found at farm stands. But if one doesn’t have time to run around, it’ll definitely do. We husk the corn and make sure that there are no silk strands adhering to the cob; then cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp, serrated paring knife. (the kernels like to hop all over the place but are easily picked up on the countertop if you line it with paper towels.) For 3 ears, I melt about a third of a stick of unsalted butter in a skillet and simmer the kernels gently to absorb the butter. Then, I’ll add about a spoonful of agave nectar (sugarless sweetener) which is the secret of this recipe – others might want to add some light brown sugar. As it cooks and combines, I’ll add about 3 tablespoons of cream towards the end and stir it in along with Maldon sea salt and coarse pepper. The corn thickens slightly with the cream in it and I serve the corn in small bowls alongside the rest of the meal.

It’s so satisfying to eat simple meals from fresh vegetable bounty during the summer and in the heat, it’s refreshing to start with a cool cucumber soup! An added treat after our meal is a key lime pie that I made yesterday (G. squeezed and zested the limes!) which is chilling in the refrigerator. I’ve started whipping cream for the topping right before we serve the pie, so we’ll have that to look forward to while we’re eating our “Jimmy Carter” meal for supper tonight.

Here’s hoping that Jimmy Carter’s remaining days will be filled with as much goodwill and heart as he and Rosalynn have extended to so many for so long.