Friday, April 30, 2010

87 Year Old Woman Named Rose

My cousin just sent me a link to an article written about an 87 year old woman named Rose. Rose went back to college at 87 years old to learn, have fun, and meet new people. She had some great advice that I thought I would share. As we know too well, life is short!

"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets".

The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with


Thanks Rose for making me realize that I shouldn't take life for granted. Everyone, have FUN this weekend and do something different!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Do you have an aha moment?

Mutual of Omaha is the proud sponsor of life's aha moments. They are looking for people to submit their aha moments at:

What is an aha moment?
"A moment of clarity, the aha moment is a defining moment where you gain real wisdom - wisdom you can use to change your life." (

What is your aha moment?

I submited my aha moment to the website at:
To read my aha moment, see below.

Food is often said to be “the way to a man’s stomach,” but for me, Emily, food is a way to celebrate life. On January 23, 2006, my mother, Renee (56), lost her life to a long, hard-fought battle against breast cancer. In addition to being the life of the party, whose smile, laughter, and joy spread sunshine to all those she met, she was also a fabulous cook. During her lifetime, my mom created two cookbooks titled “Whip Me, Beat Me, Eat Me.” The origin of the books started in my mother's kitchen where she would cook dinner Monday through Thursday for our family. Every Sunday night, she would prepare a multiple course home cooked meal for the family, often leading to many guests, friends, and neighbors coming to share in the meal. She also looked at food as a way to share community, and spread comfort and joy to others.

With my mom gone, I've struggled like so many others to move on from losing a loved one. But, in the darkest hours, I found comfort in her food. After meeting so many others that have lost loved ones, and while cooking dinner one night for my husband, I realized that so many people have found comfort through food. The sense of smell, memories and feelings that come back bring up so many emotions, and I wanted to do something with that.

With that said, I decided to walk in my mother’s footsteps by creating a cookbook (but not just any cookbook). One that honors memories and recipes of lost loved ones. I decided that if this helped me, it had to have helped a lot more people and I wanted to hear their stories. I am in the process of putting together a book filled with stories and recipes from people all across the country and of every race, gender, culture and age. These recipes will then be turned into a cookbook titled, “A Blending of Bittersweet Memories.”

The book will highlight the recipes and stories of people that have lost loved ones, the lessons they’ve learned, and the food and recipes of those that have passed on. I created a web site for people to visit to share their recipes and stories(stories just need to be 500 words, with recipe directions). A portion from the proceeds from the book will benefit a breast cancer charity.

In my aha moment, cooking a recipe of my moms for my new husband, I decided to dedicate my life to my mother's memory and help people grieve through smell and food. I honestly hope to give them comfort, as this whole process has given me some.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

North Shore Magazine - May 2010

North Shore Magazine did a feature on "A Blending of Bittersweet Memories" in their May 2010 issue. It is on page 10 and is a lovely article written by Jeff Cockrell. I would like to thank Jeff for the beautifully written piece.
Click on the above image to make it bigger to read.

20 Things To Know When Someone is Greiving

"20 Things To Know When Someone is Greiving" is going to be a book by Alicia King. It is a book about grief. A collection of what to do and say when you don't know where to start. Full of beautiful ways to honor someone's memory or reach out to someone who is suffering a loss. The book shares ideas for what to say, how to help, ways to pay tribute, and what NEVER to say to someone who is grieving.
Alicia just got a book deal with Turner Publishing's Trade Paper Press. Her book will be part of their Good Things To Know series and will be out by Christmas 2010. She recently featured "A Blending of Bittersweet Memories" in her blog.
To learn more about Alicia and things to know when grieiving, check out her blog and twitter page at:

And, I may be quoted in the book ;)

Below is something that I shared with Alicia. It is an after loss credo that one of my mother's friends gave to me after she passed. It really hit me and I thought it explained perfectly how I felt. I pass it on when the devastating loss of a loved one occurs.

The After Loss Credo
I need to talk about my loss.
I may often need to tell you what happened
Or ask you why it happened
Each time I discuss my loss, I am helping myself face the reality of the death of my loved one.

I need to know that you care about me.
I need to feel your touch, your hugs.
I need you just to be with me.
(And I need to be with you.)
I need to know that you believe in me
And in my own ability to get through my grief
In my own way. (And in my own time.)

Please don’t judge me now-
Or think that I’m behaving strangely.
Remember I’m grieving.
I may even be in shock.
I may feel afraid. I may feel deep rage.
I may even feel guilty. But above all, I hurt.
I’m experiencing pain unlike any I’ve ever felt before.
Don’t worry if you think I’m getting better
And then suddenly I seem to slip backward.
Grief makes me behave this way at times.
And please don’t tell me you “know how I feel.”
Or that it’s time for me to get on with my life.
(I’m probably saying that to myself.)

What I need now is time to grieve and recover.
Most of all, thank you for being my friend.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for helping, for understanding.
Thank you for praying for me.

And remember, in the days or years ahead,
After your loss – when you need me
As I have needed you – I will understand.
And then I will come and be with you.

Barbara Hills LesStrang

Friday, April 9, 2010

Senior Lifestyle Corporation & Barton Healthcare

Great News!! I am going to do cooking demonstations at 6 senior assisted living homes in May. Five of them will be at Senior Lifestyle Corpoation communities and 1 will be at Barton Heathcare. At these events, I will be cooking one of my favorite dishes and then talking with the residents and getting their bittersweet memories of their lost loved ones! I am so excited to sit and and listen to their favorite stories and recipes. Here is the schedule:

Tuesday May 4th
Barton Healthcare in Zion, IL
*not open to public

Tuesday May 11th
Lincolnwood Place in Lincolnwood, IL

Monday May 17th
Lake Barrington Woods in Lake Barrington, IL

Wednesday May 19th
Autumn Green at Midway Village in Chicago, IL

Friday May 21st
Autumn Green at Wright Campus in Chicago, IL

Tuesday May 25th
The Breakers at Edgewater Beach in Chicago, IL

Some of these are opened to the public. Please feel free to come and watch me do a cooking demonstration. And remember, bring your favorite bittersweet memory and recipe!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pioneer Press- North Shore Suburban Newspaper

Today I had an interview and photo shoot with the Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press is the newspaper for the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. I featured a dish called Summer Squash Casserole. The article will be availabe in print and online on Thursday May, 27th.
Here is the recipe for the dish! It is delicious, easy, and a great compliment to any summer BBQ entree.

Summer Squash
8 summer squash, washed and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
3 cups of tomato sauce
3 onions, sliced
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 T. sugar
1/4 c. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In medium saucepan, saute onions in oil until translucent. Set aside.
Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish.
Lay squash in baking dish. Sprinkle onions on top of squash.
Pour tomato sauce on top of onions. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
Top off with parmesan cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Serve and enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

"View From The Bay" Video Clip

The TV segment went great! Spencer and Lisa, the co-hosts of "View From The Bay" ABC-TV San Francisco, were a pleasure to meet and to host the segment. I had so much fun! Please watch the video link below!!§ion=view_from_the_bay

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

San Francisco "The View From The Bay"

I am in San Francisco and having the best time!! My sister, Jamie, is here with me and has been an incredible help. Along with Jamie, my publicist, Annie is helping out! Last night, we had dinner at Salt House (American cuisine). It was delicious and so adorable inside. Today, we went to the supermarket and bought all of the ingredients for tomorrows TV segment. We prepared the food and got completely organized. After we were all set up, we went and had lunch at Mocca. This restaurant was amazing!! It reminded me of a little place in Europe. They had tons of different kinds of salads, soups and sandwiches. It was delicious and I definitely recommend going there. Tonight, my husband, D.J., gets into town and we are all going to Paul K which is supposed to be fabulous mediterranean food. I am in love with this city and the Union Square area. The streets remind me of Soho in NY. They are unassuming streets with Chanel, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Saks, etc. We are having the best time walking around and people watching.
Enough about the city and on to business! We are here because tomorrow, Friday, April 2nd I am going to be on TV doing a cooking segment from 3-4 pm on "The View From The Bay" -ABC TV. I am going to be asking people to send in their submissions and preparing 3 delicious dishes! The Plum Chicken and Rice and Bean Casserole were submitted to me from Leslie Kolber. Her story is absolutely adorable but you will have to buy the book to hear it! The Taffy Apple Salad was one of my mother's famous snacks for the summer.
Here are the recipes for tomorrow's dishes:

Plum Chicken

2 Chickens cut up into parts

1 tsp. Garlic Salt

¼ tsp. Pepper

1 (12 oz.) jar of Plum Jelly

1/3 C. Brown Sugar

1/3 C. Soy Sauce

2 T. Lemon Juice

1/3 C. Dry Sherry

1 Onion, sliced

Bring Pepper, Plum Jelly, Brown Sugar, Soy Sauce, Lemon Juice, and Dry Sherry to a boil. Season Chicken with Garlic Salt. Put sliced onions across the bottom of a large pan (9” x 13”), top with Chicken. Pour the boiled ingredients over the chicken and bake at 350˚ for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Baste Chicken frequently.

Serve with Bean and Rice Casserole

1 (16 oz.) package of fresh sliced mushrooms

1 large Onion

1 stick Butter

1 (15 oz.) can Black Beans

2 C. Chicken Broth
Chop mushrooms and onions into small pieces. Place the stick of butter in pan and saute onions until sweating and opaque. Add mushrooms and sauté until onions are brown and mushrooms are cooked through. Set aside.

Prepare rice according to package. Use chicken broth instead of water to cook the rice. Rinse and drain black beans. When rice is complete, add the black beans, onions, and mushrooms. Mix together and put into a dish. Let sit at room temperature. During the last 30 minutes that the chicken is cooking, put the rice dish in and reheat.

Taffy Apple Salad

1 lg. can Pineapple Chunks, drained, save juice

2 c. Mini Marshmallows

½ c. Sugar

1 T. Flour

1 ½ T. White Vinegar

1 (8 oz.) ctn. Cool Whip

2 c. chopped unpeeled Apples, green and red

1 Egg

Mix pineapple and marshmallows and refrigerate overnight. Mix juice from pineapple, flour, sugar, vinegar and egg. Cook in saucepan until thick. Refrigerate sauce overnight as well. The next day, mix in cool whip and apples. *Option – Can add 1 ½ c. of Planters Cocktail Peanuts. Mix well and enjoy!

As soon as I get the link from the station, I will post it.