Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Easy Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

Do you find that the little things in life matter most? I know mayo does not move mountains, but it does transform leftover roasted chicken into fantastic chicken salad. And that giant head of cabbage you could not resist at the farmer's market and don't know what to do with? It becomes a fabulous crispy, crunchy and creamy cabbage salad (that some call cold slaw, but homemade cold slaw slams the stuff you get in restaurants, so I call the good stuff cabbage salad.)  Classic potato salad anyone? In these delicious salads the mayo is the star. Great mayo, great salad. Sub-par, store brand mayo, yields a pile of mush.

Sometimes it's just better to make it yourself. That is the case with mayo, and for good reason. For example, store brands use soybean oil (which is GMO, unless it's organic.) Products derived from the soybean also have other health-related issues.  Very expensive brands of mayonnaise may be made with healthier oils, like safflower oil. However, almost all brands contain some kind of sweetener, stabilizers and the ubiquitous "natural flavor," whatever that is.

Off to the kitchen to experiment with recipes.

My first attempt at making mayo at home concerned me, due to the raw egg I planned to use, because, well, it's just not mayo unless it has egg! (I tried the egg-free version years ago and uck.)

I had extra-virgin olive oil so I used it. The mayo tasted grassy. Not what I wanted. The olive oil completely overpowered the taste.

My second attempt succeeded! What a thrill to finally have "healthy" mayo without the sugar (which, of course, you can add if you like it sweet, or grew up in the Miracle Whip camp, heaven forbid.) 

My homemade mayonnaise turned out creamy, fluffy and tasty. I used to like regular Hellman's mayo, however, the last time I tried it, I did not like it. It had an odd aftertaste and tasted much sweeter than my palate remembers. My homemade mayo tastes far superior in every way. I immediately used it to make fantastic chicken salad. We loved it! The mayo lasted about a week, and we're still here.

Here's the recipe I tweaked after viewing several recipes online:

An emersion stick blender makes this recipe a snap. I suppose you could whisk by hand and drizzle the oil over several minutes, but why bother when this method works so well? (I do not have a regular blender, so have not tried the traditional blender method.)

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1 Large Egg (see note below)
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry yellow mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon "real" salt (or sea salt), to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup Safflower oil

Put all ingredients, except the oil, in a tall container.
Use an emersion stick blender to blend ingredients (about 2 seconds.)
Add a small amount of the oil and blend a second, to create an emulsion.
While blending, slowly add the oil for a few seconds and voila! You have mayo!

(NOTE:  To ensure the egg is fresh, submerge it in a glass of water, it must stay on the bottom of the glass. If it rises or floats, don't use it. I also wash the egg shell before cracking the egg into the container.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Novel Reading: THE LOST ART OF MIXING, by Erica Bauermeister

mixing cover

I read a couple of novels last year, because I peruse too many non-fiction books and because I wanted to see what gets published these days. One novel was by a first time author with a freshly minted MFA, who told the story of an abused girl growing up in a trailer park. Well written, yet sad. The other author had previous titles and the book I read, The Lost Art of Mixing, continued the story of Lillian, a restaurateur.

Why bother reading a novel?  Because it's fun and interesting to experience how a writer chooses to advance the story and share the characters in ways that keep you reading instead of using the book as a fly-swatter or a Frisbee. Novel reading may also help you make distinctions in your own life that you have missed. Once you make those distinctions, your life takes on new meaning and gives you renewed energy and you thrive.

Erica Bauermeister knows how to keep the reader interested. I discovered some pertinent distinctions as well.

The Lost Art of Mixing, also made me hungry for some tasty meals, as the story plays out in and around a restaurant. The owner/chef, Lillian, and sous-chef , Chloe, follow cooking rituals that spill over into their personal lives.

 A contrasting character, Isabelle, meanwhile flourishes while losing her "rituals" to Alzheimer, in a soft and touching portrayal of the disease, both through the eyes of Isabelle and through the observations of the other characters.

Erica's prose wafts through you, enticing you to take another bite, all the while thinking "what a lovely way to mix those words with those people, who should not waste time in a life that is not theirs." And who among us can claim to have fully lived in their own skin every day? Who has not spoiled the fresh sweetness of  the fruits we were given?

Erica's novel gives us permission and example for living life fully, despite the messes we inevitably must clean up in our "kitchens." And not just the one you cook in.

The character Finnegan is one example: Finnegan, the 6 foot 7, 19-year old who shows up on Lillian's doorstep, in pursuit of the illusive Chloe, ends up washing dishes and cleaning the restaurant like a saint. He provides the backdrop for the female characters to face their fears and get on with it, as he faced his fear of heights, among others.

The Finnegan character gives readers a fine distinction about facing fear. Finnegan feared his own height, but did not tell his parents of his fears. His parents owned a climbing company and the young Finnegan would climb to the top of the family climbing wall, just so he could relax in his parent's embrace at the end of the climb. Who hasn't done that? Who hasn't done something we hate or fear in order to get love? Finnegan's fears are also realized when he loses his parents who die in a storm while climbing Mount Everest. Finnegan rises from his tragedy and dives into the mix established at the restaurant, with surprising results. He shows us how to grow and love despite a broken heart.

Did you know that merely the act of reading the printed word makes you smarter? (That's right, reading my blog makes you smarter.)

Read a novel and enjoy the timeless art form of storytelling that has the ability to transport you into another world, another's world. You may find yourself changed for the wiser, and learn how to use your story, your life metaphor to change yourself and the world for the better.

With all the stress and distractions in our world, we need to slow down and feel our life. Novel reading can help us do that. Bury yourself in a novel and enjoy!

Read any good books lately? Let's here about it below, in the comments section!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Last Visit with an Alzheimer's Patient

 Even though he only weighed about 90 pounds, it took two of us to help Wes onto the portable commode from his wheelchair next to his bed. The bed sat in the corner of a newly remodeled room built just for the comfortable dying of a kind man stricken with Alzheimer disease.
“Why doesn’t he use a hand-urinal?”
“Wes refuses to use it. He insists on sitting on the toilet. The one in the bathroom is too low and very difficult to use, so we use the portable.”
“We got you, Wes.”
The nurse and I hoisted Wes out of his chair, acting like a boatlift hoisting a runabout out of the lake. Looking out the window, water-skiers whizzed past the pier on a sunny, humid-free summer morning on Rock Lake in the Midwest. I used to slalom ski nearby--my most thrilling youthful endeavor. I loved it so much…

Today I help Wes to pee using a portable potty. Pulling down dress pants, then adult diapers and carefully loading his frail form onto the plastic seat. Waiting with silent patience and listening for little droplets of pee that sounded like raindrops against the window. Then, hoisting Wes off the commode and pulling up the layers of protection.
We tried to reseat Wes in his chair so he could visit an old friend who waited on the porch overlooking the lake. Wes resisted our efforts, however, clinging to our arms, his body locked in hover mode.
“We’ve got you, Wes. The chair is right behind you, you just need to sit down on it.” His clear blue eyes peered into mine.
“It’s scareful,” he whispered with the voice of a ghost. I wanted to cry, but returned his gaze and noted matter-of-factly, “Of course it is. I understand. It’s scary to trust that you will not fall. You feel fearful that you can get hurt. You just made up a word that combines those feelings: ‘scareful.’ Very clever of you, Wes!” I patted the seat and eased his hip-bones onto the seat… 

      Sometimes it seems that’s what my life has been: helping people on and off the commode when they could not do it alone. Children, of course, but they don’t count. Or do they? Maybe they count most of all. Mostly, however, I helped loved ones who suffered stroke, cancer, disease, surgery and needed my help to go to the bathroom. I did so willingly; feeling like it was the most important job in the world. I bet the United States President never helped someone else go to the bathroom (that was not his child.)
      While mourning the death of my fiancé (my third time losing a significant other) my cousin Sandy said, “Maybe that is your purpose in life: to care for people just before their death.” I didn’t like that prophesy, but now it’s too late... 

      As we wheeled Wes onto the porch, where Gene, his longtime friend and business associate of over 40 years awaited, Wes’ eyes lit up. He struggled to sit up as straight as he could in order to greet Gene. Wes’ Alzheimer’s seemed to dissolve, as Wes clearly recognized Gene.
      I sat and watched as Gene’s visit brought Wes back to life, telling stories and joking about the past. In order not to break out in tears, I fiddled with my camera and took some snapshots and video as the two old friends enjoyed each other’s presence.
      I felt honored for such a sacred moment—I got to witness Gene caring and showing love for his friend whom he may never see again. I think Wes knew he was nearing the end too, and he handled the situation with grace and courage.
      At the end of the visit, Gene choked back his tears, trying desperately to give Wes a hopeful sendoff. Gene succeeded… 

      Visiting a person with Alzheimer’s is a spiritually rewarding experience. It’s immediate. It’s significant. It puts life into tightly focused perspective and grants the visitors and patient a moment to touch the Divine. I’m grateful for it all.

Wes and Gene a few weeks before Wes' death.



Friday, December 27, 2013

My BioCored Work with Nathalie Fossé and Fossé Restorative Therapy

Just finished my 5th BioCored session with Nathalie at her studio, Fossé Restorative Therapy, and I feel so much better than when I started! I don't know how she does it. She has some sort of energy force that she transmits to her clients. Nathalie was my last appointment of the day, after a grueling physical therapy session with my foot-guy, Scott, who upped my exercise reps (at least he massaged my calves/Achilles tendons and fixed the strained Achilles tendon issue.)

Again, not in the mood for more exercise work, but Nathalie gently coached me through some easy and some not so easy movements, assessing my progress along the way: "Relax your neck, relax your jaw, lift your abs. You are so determined--relax your brain and close your eyes..." and so it went.

With Nathalie's direction, at some point I felt I became one with the bungees--they became an extension of my arms, instead of a discomfort. I stopped fighting them, and released my control.

Nathalie and I agree that it's up to the patient to do the work with the expert guidance of a professional who gives a damn. She's a teacher in the end. However, she is also a gifted, empathetic healer, vigilant and knowledgeable and always learning herself, she admits. She sees what the patient cannot. Although we all know our own bodies better than anyone, should we pay attention to its messages, Nathalie studies her patients and observes how their bodies have decided to "settle" in order to compensate for years of abuse.

A patient's current posture and way of moving has become the new "normal," which is not normal at all. Nathalie seeks to correct that.

Nathalie's work is very personal and attuned to each individual. Unlike the traditional physical therapy setting, where the physical therapist works with several patients simultaneously, Nathalie devotes the entire time to her patients' needs. She watches you like a hawk. She directs seemingly small adjustments in your body alignment, that really make a world of difference in how you perform the exercise and thus, the progress you make.

In that respect, her work is superior, and why she gets noticeable results. For example, although I felt the burn the next day, the day after that, my posture improved and even though the knots in my back remained, they "softened" and I felt relief! Ahhhhh.....

I'm grateful Nathalie toils away in her studio, teaching clients and patients how to restore their bodies back to a healthy and balanced state. She's taught me in a few short sessions better body awareness, how to correct my posture and the significant role it plays in restorative work and how BioCored exercises complement and encourage those efforts.

In case you missed the video in the last post featuring Nathalie's BioCored work with me:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Have you given up on restoring your body back to health after injury or degenerative issues, and wish you felt good in your own body like you did when you were a kid? Don’t give up just yet! I am investigating different modalities that show promising results for those who suffer with chronic pain and old injuries.

We've all heard of acupuncture and chiropractic. They can either help or hurt, depending upon the practitioner. I've done both. They seem to work for a bit, and then it's back to square one. Most modalities require months and months of expensive treatments, leaving the patient perhaps better, perhaps not.

But have you heard about  ortho-bionomy or BioCored? These lesser known modalities follow ancient-healing roots that take into account the body's energy and communication systems. That's right--your body talks to itself, but it whispers in a foreign language, so you don't pay attention to it. You must learn to listen and discover how the body seeks to heal itself. Sounds a bit odd, but makes sense in the way that we can't see air but we breathe it, makes sense.

I'll look at the biocored method today, through the lens of a new practitioner, Nathalie Fossé.

Nathalie shows off because I asked her to!

BioCored, according to its website, is "an equipment and education company," that has developed a system of movement that corrects various issues that lead to pain and immobility, such as dormant and atrophied muscles and incorrect muscle firing patterns. The system is intended to complement traditional fitness and medical interventions.

As one moves through the BioCored method, according to Nathalie’s interpretation, the brain maps and remaps itself, which results in disorganizing pain pathways that have become entrenched. The series of movements using the bungee-like cords that hang from a ceiling support compel the body to use the proper muscles the way they were meant to be used. Muscles begin to move or “fire” correctly, thus eliminating the body’s compulsion to recruit the “wrong” muscles that had been taking over, due to injury and poor posture. Result: less pain, even with the first session of BioCored. And, unlike traditional methods, the results improve with each session, and they last.

The results last, because the body has been retrained to do its thing, rather than being “told” what to do. It follows the same pattern we do: if you try to force me to do something, even if it’s for my own good, I won’t do it. But, if you take a kinder, gentler approach, teaching me to make changes myself, you will have greater success. The body and mind have a similar relationship:

No pain no gain is bullshit. Less is more is golden,” Nathalie says. She has experienced both, and has learned that gentle massage, based on manipulation of the fascia, and exercise work more efficiently and effectively than forceful intense approaches. Using the BioCored equipment protects the joints during exercise. 
Nathalie demonstrates the plank using BioCored
Nathalie Fossé  is currently seeking her Master's Training in BioCored. She is in the process of adding the BioCored modality to her therapy and yoga practice, at Fossé Restorative Therapy, LLC. Her decision to learn and practice the BioCored method came out of the frustration with traditional massage and post-surgical physical therapy, both of which take an enormous time commitment from patient and practitioner, with limited results. Nathalie also suffers from past injuries and has personally experienced fantastic results with the BioCored method, including pain reduction, increased mobility, improved strength, better balance and a new-found connection with her own body.

Nathalie says that the goal of utilizing BioCored is to restore the body to homeostasis. This happens in the brain. The BioCored method assists the brain by balancing the physical body and allowing the brain to receive the messages the body sends, without interference from referential pain receptors that camouflage the real reason one is suffering.

The controlled instability, created through the use of the bungee-like cords while performing exercise movements, accomplishes this by incorporating higher brain systems such as the proprioceptive and visual sensory systems of the body. 

Nathalie says that understanding how it works is akin to understanding how an amputee can still feel pain in the amputated limb. The amputee's brain has not been retrained. The pain is no longer in the lost limb, however the pain still resides within the brain!

The BioCored method seeks to address pain issues, for example, by enlisting the brain as part of the equation, unlike the traditional allopathic approach that focuses on symptoms and disease rather than restoring the entire organism.

Nathalie assesses my alignment
I spent a couple of hours with Nathalie working through the BioCored process. My mobility increased in my “bad” arm, after only a few subtle movements. Some of the more advanced movements reminded me of yoga postures—they look deceptively simple, but they are not!

Nathalie quickly confirmed what traditional practitioners have told me:
I still list slightly to the right. When Nathalie corrected my body alignment, however, I did not experience discomfort, which usually happens when the body has realignment issues.

Nathalie teaches me the plank

My second session with Nathalie, I noticed a grounding, better posture, freedom of movement, despite still having the myofascial knot issues in my back. Of course, I wanted everything fixed right away, but it doesn’t’ work like that. It's a process. Naturally, I asked the unanswerable question “When can I expect to be all better, with no painful knots?”

Patiently, Nathalie explained how expectations can interrupt the process and stall progress, because while we focus on the “bad” area we want fixed, we fail to notice subtle changes that are taking place in the parts of the anatomy that are the root cause of the problem. We become obsessed with immediate and perfect results. Instead, we must trust the process, do the work and allow the body to follow its own path back to restoration. We plant the seed of healing in our brain by sewing corrective exercises that rebuild the damaged areas and relieve stressed areas. The homeostasis manifested brings relief as we harvest the benefits of the process.

I think Nathalie was trying to tell me that physical therapy is not a magic wand. But it can be miraculous.

Nathalie tries to help me show off using BioCored. Not quite.

My third visit with Nathalie I felt weak, recovering from a cold and having been up most of the night, before I got some winks. Not in the mood for exercise!

Nathalie had been in her studio since 6:00am, so how could I complain? We proceeded with the exercise therapy plan.

Nathalie assessed my eye movement, explaining that the eyes, the vision, control muscle movement.

“What if you’re blind?” I asked.

Nathalie told me that blind folks compensate and learn how to “place” themselves through other systems, like the proprioceptive system of the body.Proprioceptive information is sensations from muscles and joints, and it helps to place us in space. The rest of us generally rely on vision to place ourselves, and that leads to how our bodies use muscles.

Nathalie then addressed my pain issues of the decade: neck, upper back/scapula “knots” that limit my swimming and daily activity. She led me through BioCored exercises that targeted the "correct" muscles, and although I had done similar exercises in other physical therapy settings, the BioCored was more subtle. Nathalie also vigilantly monitored me as I went through the movements. I could not cheat! 

One of the most impressive things about working with Natalie: she has such a unique and strict awareness of the physical body and can observe the tiniest changes in my posture, which is critical to performing the exercises correctly.

Nathalie has such a calming nature and comprehensive knowledge regarding the mind/body connection and how BioCored complements that balance. You feel her passion for her work and a confidence in the fact that she strives for positive results in each individual with whom she works.

Just like any new demand you place on your body, BioCored exercises leave their mark: I’m still in pain, however, I have much freer movement. I also felt more energized and balanced than when we started. I’m glad I went: especially since the next day I felt much less pain! The work was working!

Nathalie wants me to judge her work and asked me to commit to once a week sessions for 5 weeks. Since my other physical therapist released me, I think I can give her a more focused assessment of our work together. Plus, she makes me laugh and complemented me on my shapely legs!

I’m so vain. Check out the video:

Friday, November 15, 2013


Gene loves this meal. Me too. Gluten Free with brown rice pasta and dairy free with coconut milk and cashews to give the sauce a creamy texture. This recipe has many ingredients and takes some prep work, however, once the sauce is made, it keeps well in the fridge for several days and in the freezer for several weeks. This recipe feeds two people.

Organic Brown Rice Pasta cooked according to package instructions for 2 people. Prepare in advance and set aside, or cook pasta just before serving.
6-8 Scallops depending upon size and your appetite.
Curry Sauce (preparation recipe below.)
Steamed Broccoli (steam for 5 minutes and cool immediately in ice bath and set aside for adding to sauce just before serving.)


Heat on Medium High: 1 Tablespoon each of Coconut Oil and Clarified Butter(optional) or Olive Oil
1/2 Cup chopped Onions
4 Cloves fresh Garlic
1 thumb-sized piece Fresh Ginger
1/2 Cup chopped Celery

2 Tablespoons Whiskey
2 Tablespoons dry white wine

Turn off the heat.

1 Cup Homemade Chicken Stock (if frozen, heat until liquefied.)
1 Cup Organic Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Tablespoons Chili Paste
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce (no sugar added)
Lime juice from 1/2 a lime
Black and White pepper to taste
Salt, if desired
1 teaspoon Dark Sesame Oil, if desired

Return sauce to pan and simmer on low heat to reduce slightly.
If thicker sauce is desired, add 1/4 teaspoon thickener like xantham gum or arrowroot powder and whisk in while the sauce simmers. Do not boil the sauce.

Add the broccoli and heat through.

Defrost the scallops, if needed, and pat dry.
Oil the scallops lightly (optional)
Coat the scallops in the dry rub in equal parts of Cocoa Powder, Turmeric and Coriander Powders (about 1 Tablespoon each for 8 Scallops.)

SAUTE the scallops on medium heat in 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil.

Combine the pasta and enough sauce to coat the pasta as desired.

Top with the scallops and serve!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Quick and easy way to prepare salmon fillets that taste fantastic and look beautifully appetizing.
Pesto Salmon for dinner

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2 sockeye salmon fillets (skin on or off)
Parsley Pesto: blend in blender:
1 bunch curly parsley
4 cloves peeled garlic
1/4 c walnuts
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
1 Tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

PREHEAT OVEN: 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Vibrant Sockeye Salmon

Place salmon fillets skin side down on an oiled grill grate over pan.
Top fillets with pesto.
Bake about 7-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and remove the skin. I either discard the skin or crisp it up in the oven and serve with the salmon.
Serve over greens or rice.

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