Simple Things and staying on the Sunny side

Its the simple things in life that keep me going, feeding the birds every morning, watching the squirrels feed themselves with the bird food, watching my beagle, Schooch, try and figure out a way to hop on the deck handrail and catch the little fluffy rats that are just beyond her reach. A few weeks ago, it hit me as I was broadcasting bird seed across my driveway… I was making the exact same movements as my Granny did for years when she fed the chickens every morning. The bowl of feed curled in my left arm, the sun coming up on another hot day and my right hand reaching in to fling the seed in an arc across that morning sky. Instead of chickens clucking, my birds were in the trees, and on the roof singing their various songs and chirps waiting for me to go back in the house so they could  have breakfast. My shadow self doing what Granny did, unconsciously gave me comfort, and now that I realize the source… more comfort still. It is a morning ritual that benefits me more than it does the birds I think. Life can be uncommonly hard, quiet often. If you can find your pleasure in small things it enables you to look through to the true and real things that matter. Birdsong on a sunny morning in late June is a crystal lens for me that adjusts my sight and helps me stand…just stand. Sometimes that’s all you can manage.

One of the many benefits of feeding the birds is the volunteer sunflowers that find root and grow when they fall in the dirt. I’ve got about 5 big sunflowers right now in my vegetable plot, along with some millet. I love volunteer anything, its the reason I love morning glories so much, its also the reason most people hate them, they will grow anywhere and prolifically. But you have to admit they are  the most perfect blue and purple flowers that exist. They are glorious when they bloom with the perfect bugle shape in vivid blue with yellow throats fading to white. One year I planted some next to my gate and the vine grew and grew all summer but never bloomed, the leaves however were huge, about the middle of October it started setting blooms, the spires were a good 5 inches long, and when it did finally bloom they were as large as dinner plates, it was amazing and only lasted 2 weeks before the 1st frost at the end of October, but was an end of summer gift I’ll always remember. I saved the seeds from that plant for the next year, but it was never the same.

Providing nourishment for any living thing is something that I cherish, I believe I might have mentioned that I am a feeder. To see the pleasure that people get from my food, for me to know that what they are eating is good for them is one of my greatest joys, right behind seeing my son truly laugh and be happy. But I am like any creative soul when it comes to the food I cook, I need constant reassurance that what I have made is the best they have ever had of that particular thing. Last Friday, I was at the grocery going down the condiment aisle, because I had needed to pick up some Dukes Mayonnaise, the best mayo in the world, thinking about chicken for supper. I passed the bottled barbecue sauces, ummm BBQ chicken sounds good. As a label reader I naturally flipped over the bottle and started reading the ingredients. High Fructose Corn syrup was the first ingredient. Then I picked up another and then another, same story it was either the 1st or 2nd ingredient on EVERY bottle. I hate High fructose corn syrup, it coats your tongue, it obscures flavor so that all you taste is sugar and I believe this ingredient is the reason that many people in the US are having blood sugar issues and heart issues and the list goes on and on. So I decided to make my own BBQ sauce. How hard could it be? Right? I’ve seen those BBQ pit masters on TV, what they do doesn’t look like rocket science. Friends I did it and it was excellent, I just taste budded my way through it with my food processor and some fresh ingredients and herbs and it was excellent, the best he’d ever had, so says my hubby of 17 years. By the way there is NO SUGAR in it.

Here’s what I did, I used the dump method, 

 1 can of chunky pineapple in its own juice DRAINED into food processor

3/4 of a fresh red bell pepper sliced

about a 2″ square piece of fresh ginger peeled

2 white onions (2″) peeled and quartered

2 cloves of garlic peeled 

a 2″ section of a red chili pepper seeds removed

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1 8 oz can of tomato paste

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh oregano 

Whir it up until smooth

Taste the final product, if you feel it need more sweetening, add some agave syrup, it doesn’t mess with your blood sugar, I use it when I make Coleslaw now and it makes it taste better than it ever did before. I didn’t add anything else to my sauce and it really was yummy.

At that point all I did was brown off the cut up chicken since it still had the skin on it and put it in a bake dish meaty part down covered that with about 3/4 the sauce, covered it with foil and baked it in a slow oven 300 degrees until the chicken was almost done.Then I took it out flipped the chicken up put big piles of sauce on top of each piece left the foil off and cooked it another 15 minutes on 350 degrees. I served it with black beans and brown rice and a salad…yum!  

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