James McNair’s Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons


One of my favorite wedding gifts looked like this wooden salad bowl and stand.  It got lots of use for many years.


Twenty years ago, my husband and I received a beautiful wooden salad bowl with a stand and tongs along with a salad cookbook, “James McNair’s Salads,” as a wedding gift.  The stand is long gone but we still use the large bowl and I have memorized the recipe for Caesar Salad with homemade garlic croutons – and serve it on special occasions!

Here’s the recipe from the cookbook and a brief excerpt from the Author’s Introduction:

Since its inception in a Tijuana restaurant, this classic has never gone completely out of favor.  Recent years have seen the resurgence of its popularity in America’s trendsetting restaurants.

I prefer to leave the lettuce leaves whole, to be picked up with the fingertips for nibbling.  If you would rather use a fork, break the leaves before tossing them with the dressing.

The dressing may be made without the traditional coddled egg; a drizzle of heavy cream will add the richness normally provided by the egg.  James McNair



Wash, dry, and chill the lettuce leaves.  Prepare the Croutons



  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  2. About 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
  3. 2 tablespoons minced or pressed garlic
  4. 4 cups day-old bread, preferably French style, cut into cubes or thin slices.

  • In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium-low heat
  • Add the garlic and bread and toss until the bread pieces are well coated.
  • Reduce the heat to low (or transfer to a preheated 350º F oven) and cook, stirring and turning frequently, until the bread is golden on all sides, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the bread to paper toweling to drain and cool slightly.
  • Use immediately, or cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 1 day.



  1. 4 medium-sized heads romaine lettuce, tough outer leaves discarded, separated into about 48 leaves
  2. 4 cups Croutons, made with plenty of garlic


  1. 3 eggs
  2. 6 flat anchovy fillets, drained and minced
  3. 1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic
  4. 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  5. 1 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
  6. About 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  7. About 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. About 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano-reggiano
  10. Freshly ground black pepper for serving


  • Just before serving the salad, prepare the dressing.
  • Bring a small post of water to a rapid boil over high heat.  Place the eggs, one at a time, on a spoon, lower them into the boiling water, and boil for 1 minute.  Transfer the eggs to cold water to cool.  Break the eggs, separating the yolks into a small bowl; discard the whites.
  • Add the anchovy fillets, garlic, mustard oil and about half of the lemon juice to the yolks and whisk to blend.
  • Whisk in the remaining lemon juice, or more to taste, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a large bowl, combine the whole lettuce leaves, about half of the croutons, and half of the cheese.
  • Add the dressing to taste and toss well.
  • Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates.
  • Sprinkle the remaining croutons and cheese and serve immediately.
  • Pass a pepper mill at the table.

Serves 10 to 12 as a salad course, or 6 to 8 as a light main course



In Creation All Needs Are Met Instantly


“In creation, all needs are fulfilled the instant they become needs, which is why there are no needs. If everything you need has been provided, having needs makes no sense.” (ACOL, C:19.14)

This quotation about needs being fulfilled is an echo from A Course in Miracles. Our wants are not always satisfied, maybe especially when those wants are ego-oriented, but our needs are met, and at the point of their arrival in our lives.

A similar statement from ACIM, that the solution is always found with the problem, is appropriate as well. What are our needs except problems waiting to be solved? For what else do we normally pray?

A Course of Love is so heartwarming, and this is certainly appropriate for a work that focuses on listening to our heart as the way to live. This particular quotation reassures us that needs are not actually there at all in…

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Classic Chocolate Mousse Recipe

A couple of months ago, my son went to Homecoming and enjoyed some of Kansas City’s finest dining before the dance.  I decided to try to  recreate his exquisite chocolate mousse dessert for him yesterday.  His response was “What’s IN this?”!!  Perhaps it will take a few more tries.  Here’s the recipe:

Courtesy of Bon Appetit


6 servings

  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (60-72% taco), chopped
  • 2 large egg whites


  • Beat 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.
  • Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl.  Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water).
  • Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume, about 1 minute.
  • Remove bowl from pan.  Add chocolate, whisk until melted and smooth.  Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat egg white in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy.  With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 tbsp. sugar, increase speed to high and beat until peaks form.
  • Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; fold whipped dream into mixture just to blend.
  • Divide mousse among six teacups or 4-oz ramekins.  Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  • Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse.



Dear Mom, You’re My Favorite Badass

My Mother was born prematurely during a record blizzard on December 1, 1932, in Memphis, Tennessee (a night, we learned later, on which her Grandmother was babysitting her future husband, one-year-old Dickie Killion!).   She lived in an incubator the first few weeks of her life before her parents, Opal and Ronnie, were allowed to take her home to Hayti, Missouri, a rural farming town in the Southeastern part of the state.  As a young child, she contracted rheumatic fever and the doctor said there was nothing he could do – he advised her parents to buy a coffin for Rhetta.  So they did.  Fortunately, they did not need it.  And even more fortunately, this impish child who cheated death early in life continued to thrive and grow into a beautiful young woman who would marry and bear 7 children, the youngest of whom is me.


Growing up in the  post-Depression South, there were certain expectations of young ladies that Rhetta continuously defied.
For instance, one of her very best friends, Carliss, was African American.  They enjoyed playing outdoors together for hours.  To Rhetta, the color of her friend’s skin was of no particular consideration at all.

Rhetta was strong-willed and did not want to go to school.  She recently confessed that she was, in fact, expelled from kindergarten for refusing to stop pulling the little girl’s pigtails who sat in the desk in front of her!  Rhetta did not mind the unconventional.  To her Mother’s horror, while performing in a piano recital, Rhetta suddenly forgot the music so she stood and sang the words instead!  When she was instructed to trim the rosebush – a chore she despised – Rhetta simply cut off all the lovely heads to hasten her task.  When cautioned that young ladies did not get muddy, she rode her bike through every single mud puddle she could find.

Spanking never worked because Rhetta refused to cry!  She liked visiting an Uncle who purportedly had taken up the company of a “woman of ill repute” because the woman was so friendly!  She had a daily habit of stopping along the way from school to home at the courthouse to enjoy a cigarette in the ladies’ restroom.  Rhetta was, indeed, incorrigible!

Mom recalls there was an internment camp for German Prisoners of War (for some reason in Hayti, Missouri!) when she was a child.  Fearful of what unknown harm could become of the adorable blue-eyed blonde little girl, Rhetta was absolutely forbidden from ever riding her bike to “that part of town.”  Well she did.  And Mom remembers talking through the fence to the Germans, they speaking German and she speaking in her inimitable Southern drawl – and relishing the smiles on their faces and laughter on the other side of the fence.  “I’m sure they thought my accent was as strange as I found theirs’ – but we were fascinated with one another,” Mom remembers.

Her Dad, Ronnie Greenwell, was a proud member of the Missouri Cotton Producers Association and Lions Club.  He somehow gained access to President Harry Truman and took his precocious daughter along with him to meet the Great Democrat from Missouri.  Mom only recalls President Truman asking her how she liked school – and that she was fairly bored throughout the encounter!


In spite of all her youthful spiritedness, Mom managed to easily slip into the “ladylike patterns” of the day and married my Dad, whom she adored, at the tender age of 20 in 1953.  They began a life together in Southeast Missouri in a small farming community where Mom bore 7 children and participated fully in the spiritual life of the Catholic parish to which our family belonged.

Mom smiling

But there was always a restlessness about Mom – she loved life and learning and wanted to participate in the world as more than a caregiver.  She convinced Dad to move to St. Louis, where she began a wallpaper business and eventually became a tax preparer for H & R Block.  She brought energy and life into our family with her diverse group of interests and friends.  Mom volunteered for hospice and a program for teenage runaway girls.  She helped the local United Way with its annual “100 Neediest Cases” Christmas program.  She became enthralled by the study of Jungian Psychology which led her to the work of Elisabeth Kubler Ross, whom Mom personally escorted from the airport to a workshop she attended!  And she handmade beautiful quilts that are treasured by many.


Now in her eighties, Mom is confined to her bed.  She still enjoys a lively imagination and interest in many people and things, especially the St. Louis Cardinals! Here she is meeting one of her great-grandchildren, a beautiful gift she treasures.

She never fails at giving me the perfect advice.  Ever.  When I was in my twenties, Mom often sent me “Affirmations,” her own compositions in her own handwriting, to help me navigate the difficult adult world.  She once wrote to me, “I love you.  Don’t give your personal power or your $ away.”


For these reasons and so many more, my beautiful Mom is and always will be MY FAVORITE BADASS!  I thank God every day for the blessing of a life with Mary Henrietta Greenwell Killion as my Mother.


Sorry, Kids, But The Lunch Lady Is Just Another Chump

When he was in 3rd grade, and already resisting the daily grind of attending a full day of school, my son said the funniest, saddest thing I have heard a kid say as we were pulling into the drive of his elementary school.  “Here we are, Chump Elementary!”.  Stunned, I stopped the car and looked back at him and said, “Well, your job is to stay 3 steps ahead of all the chumps, okay?  When you grow up, you will discover that a lot of chumps will be your boss.”  Hardly the motivating piece of advice he was possibly looking for, my son just sighed and stepped out of the car.  I could almost feel the heaviness in his heart as, each day, he watched the clock until dismissal time.

“What were your favorite parts of the day,” I would cheerily ask, hoping for a different answer each afternoon when we would reunite.

“Lunch and recess.  Everything else was boring”

The response never wavered or varied.  Always the same.  Even today, 7 years later, I get the same answer.

So I began asking myself, what is it about lunch that it is the highlight of his day?  I know the food is not good.  I took myself back to my elementary days. Funny how one’s sensory memory is so strong:  I can place myself there, at St. Eustachius Catholic School, eating a healthy portion of homemade chicken and dumplings followed by a freshly baked cinnamon roll made by Florence Scherer’s capable and caring hands.  She was the wife of a local farmer and easily fed the 100+ students (k-8) in our school the heartiest, most sumptuous of healthy farm fare every single day.  How I loved school lunch!!  For me, fortunately, a child of the 70’s, it was still about the great food in the lunchroom.


Today’s pubic school lunches are woefully less desirable than Mrs. Scherer’s delicious grub.  I was a lunch lady.  I was a “chump,” a part of the Federally regulated “system” that endeavors to adequately nourish schoolchildren across America.  What a joke.

1 in 5 children live in “food insecure” households.  In many large cities, as many as 90 percent of the public school students qualify for the free lunch program based on poverty guidelines:  they are living in a household of 4 earning less than $31,005.00/year.  The kids that qualify for a “reduced-rate” lunch (still considered food insecure households) are living in households with incomes of under $44,123.

Teachers report having the most difficulty with classroom management on Mondays and Fridays.  Why?  Because, on Mondays, students coming from food insecure households have possibly spent the majority of their time away from school in a state of hunger.  One hungry student in a report I recently read admitted, “I would stare at the teacher and imagine her as a banana, I was so hungry.  It was all I could think of.”  And on Fridays, the learning environment is once again tainted by students’ obsession over food:  hungry children were burdened by thoughts of returning to their food insecure households for long weekends.  The “backpack program,” which discreetly provides qualifying students with bags stocked with nutritious foods like peanut butter to sustain them over the weekends, helps a little. But I have heard reports from school social workers about students who gorge themselves on the bus ride home with their backpack bounty to avoid having to share it with “unworthy” family members at home.

Then there is the remaining 30 percent of students in an average public school environment that fall through the poverty guideline cracks yet still live in food insecure households because their parent(s) don’t make enough money to buy enough food to satisfy their needs.

Kids come to school hungry and tired, not ready to learn.  Now schools are left to deal with not only the education of students but they must also the address the number one reason why students are not motivated to learn.  Lack of sufficient food.  Yet, as a Lunch Lady, I personally witnessed a huge amount of wastefulness – I would ask myself, “if these kids are poor and hungry, why is so much food going to waste?”.  Because it tastes TERRIBLE!!!

I have been doing a lot of reading about food cooperatives and school lunch programs in cities like Boston that are applying knowledge and techniques from farm-to-table eating that are resulting in better food, prepared in ways that kids like, and resulting in less waste and therefore sustainability.  This is the ideal – for all the school-aged children across America.

Are you totally depressed yet?  I am just writing about this because I am so sick of the problem.  And I think the solution, having been on the “inside” of the public school nutrition program, is for public schools to move away from federally funded nutrition programs and work with communities to address the nutritional needs of students.  This won’t happen overnight.  It is going to require the guidance and intelligence garnered from all the active social justice, sustainability, food-growing and child-centered wellness initiatives working together.

To learn more about the government’s “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” and the current guidelines/implementation for schools to be reimbursed based on income eligibility guidelines (the system that isn’t working), visit the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service at:  www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/history_4.

To learn about the exciting partnerships, ventures, think tanks and social justice movements around our nation dedicated to addressing the problem of childhood hunger/food insecurity in America, go to sites like these:




There is still so much to learn but I am convinced that the solution to the problem begins with addressing building communities focused on reducing waste and building food sustainability for all.

I became a Lunch Lady because of my ridiculous fantasy that the lunchroom could once again be a happy, friendly place where all children were treated well and left satisfied.  On the day I witnessed a darling 6th grade boy maliciously refused a full lunch by the Head Lunch Lady because his account balance was below negative $6.00, I knew my efforts would be better spent on finding a solution to the absurd problem of food insecurity.

After all, it takes a WORLD CLASS BI*!@ to refuse a kid even a lousy lunch on his birthday!!!!




20 Minute Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet

Peeps, if you are like me, you have already been to several Cookie Exchange parties and feeling more than stuffed with Holiday treats. This time of year, I try to keep weeknight meals as light, simple and healthy as possible.  For instance, I found this awesome recipe from The Food Charlatan that my family loves:



  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh broccoli
  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup fresh Parmesan, plus more to garnish
  • olive oil, to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large skillet or pot, bring the salt and water to a boil.
  2. While you wait, prep your broccoli by trimming the stems and cutting the florets into similar sized pieces.
  3. Add the rotini and boil on high for 4 minutes.  Add the broccoli, cover, and set a timer for 3 minutes (Leave the burner on high enough to keep a rolling boil).
  4. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and drain the pasta using a lid or colander.  Return to the pan and stir in the spinach.
  5. Sprinkle with lemon zest.  Let it sit for a few minutes so the spinach wilts.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small skillet melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  7. Add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  8. Turn off the heat and add 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.  Add the lemon butter to the pasta and stir.
  9. Stir in 1 cup fresh parmesan cheese.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Garnish with more cheese, fresh lemon wedges, and eat hot!



A Go-To Favorite Chicken Soup Recipe



Alas, my favorite time of year has arrived:  bone-chilling winter is upon us, time for me to get yummy soups going on my stove.  This is a particularly favorite recipe that I keep coming back to, so I wanted to share it with you – It takes only about 20 minutes to prepare and then you are feasting (hopefully by a cozy fire) on heart-and-soul-warming goodness.  Enjoy!

Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup Low-Fat and My Way


  • 48 ounces fat free chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped (*I purchase a baked chicken and de-skin and shred)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, frozen
  • 1 (4 1/2 ounce) can green chilies, chopped, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in rice and cumin.
  2. Return to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes until rice is tender.
  4. Stir in chicken and next 3 ingredients into rice mixture.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Remove mixture from heat, add salt.
  7. Serve with fresh cornbread and green salad.
  8. Enjoy!








Pearls Of Wisdom : Spiritual Inspirational Quotes, Wisdom & Sayings for Personal Growth

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