Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
Meander and Meet....designed by George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks For more information contact Susan at

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - March 16, 2008

Hi everyone!

Well, yesterday Barb and I both attended the Boulder County Democrats Assembly and Convention. I was a delegate to the assembly, voting in preference polls and electing delegates for local and statewide candidates. I was also an Obama alternate to the convention in the afternoon but unfortunately was not seated. The purpose of the convention was to vote in preference polls and elect delegates for national candidates for U.S. Senate and President. Barb was an alternate to both the assembly and the convention but she was pretty busy working at the event as a volunteer. It was pretty interesting being involved in the political process at this level, even though at times, it was a bit chaotic and disorganized. Not surprisingly, the turnout was more than any other previous year and so many of us were first-time delegates and alternates.

We did miss being with our walking "buddies" - hope you all had a wonderful morning at Waneka Lake in Lafayette!

Book Report:

I finished Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama. In spite of a slow start, I did end up enjoying the book very much. This story spanned the years just before and during the twenty years after World War II in Japan. Tsukiyama provides a revealing glimpse into the culture and traditions of Japan during that time in their history.

From Publishers Weekly
In her ambitious sixth novel (Dreaming Water; The Samurai's Garden), Tsukiyama tackles life in Japan before, during and after WWII. The story follows brothers Hiroshi and Kenji Matsumoto through the devastation of war and the hardships of postwar reconstruction. Orphaned when their parents were killed in a boating accident, the boys are raised by their grandparents in Tokyo. In 1939, Hiroshi is 11 and dreams of becoming a sumo champion, and soon Kenji will discover his own passion, to become a master maker of Noh masks. Their grandparents, Yoshio and Fumiko Wada, are vividly rendered; the war years and early postwar years, centered in their home on the street of the novel's title, are powerfully portrayed. Hiroshi and Kenji reach pinnacles of success in their chosen fields as well as in love, and while Tsukiyama's close attention to historical and geographical detail enriches the narrative, she isn't as successful when describing Hiroshi's wrestling career; the matches all begin to blur together. The lingering effects of war, on the other hand, are clear, and these, combined with a nation's search for pride and hope after surrender comprise the novel's oversized heart. (Sept.)

I am in the midst of listening to an audiobook by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming to our Senses. This is his most recent work in the area of stress reduction and mindfullness meditation. His earlier books, Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever You Go, There You Are, inspired me to begin a meditation practice many years ago. Whenever I get off-track with my practice (which does happen!), I find that his guided meditation tapes are so helpful for me in getting back to my practice. I've recently started using those tapes again and I highly recommend them.
From AudioFile
A medical school teacher and expert on mindfulness and stress reduction, Kabat-Zinn reads a touching and coherent abridgment of his superb book. He is eloquent as he bridges the gap between Eastern approaches to mindfulness and the vocabulary of Western psychology. He says the immediacy of our sensations is more important than our thoughts about them, and more important than the past and future. The contexts offered for this advice reveal the author's cultural breadth and generous sensitivity to the bad habits of the Western mind. Without sentimentality or zealotry, the author's gentle voice offers a practical path that will reach around the intellectual obstacles we often put in the way of such guidance.

Website of the Week - - fun gift site, featuring monogramming

Podcast of the Week - To The Best of Our Knowledge - - from Wisconsin Public Radio

Vocabulary Word of the Week - mindfulness - from
Mindfulness or being mindful is being aware of your present moment. You are not judging, reflecting or thinking. You are simply observing the moment in which you find yourself. Moments are like a breath. Each breath is replaced by the next breath. You're there with no other purpose than being awake and aware of that moment. As John Kabat Zinn says reflecting on a Japanese mindfulness puzzle: "Wherever you go, there you are."

Cooking and Dining Report:

I tried a few winning recipes this week.

From Giada de Laurentiis, Rib-Eye Steak with Black Olive Vinaigrette (I used a strip steak) - this was terrific!,,FOOD_9936_116727,00.html

From, Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives (Poulet Provencal) - yummy!

From Cooks Illustrated, a wonderful Lasagna with Herbed Meatballs, Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella. I cheated and used good jarred marinara sauce (we love Rao's). I also served extra sauce on the side. This was the first time I made a lasagna without ricotta cheese - didn't miss it!
The assembled lasagna can be wrapped with plastic and refrigerated overnight or wrapped in plastic and covered with aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month. If refrigerated, allow an extra 5 to 10 minutes cooking time.

Herbed Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
1/3 cup minced fresh basil leaves , or minced parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano (2 ounces)
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
olive oil

Simple Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves or minced parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

Noodles and Cheese

1 tablespoon table salt
1 pound lasagna noodles (18 noodles)
1 pound mozzarella cheese , shredded
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (4 ounces), or grated Pecorino Romano

1. For the meatballs: Mix beef, eggs, basil, cheese, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until well blended. Heat about 1/4 inch of olive oil in large skillet. Take a handful of meat mixture and working directly over skillet, pinch off pieces no larger than a small grape, and flatten them slightly. Cooking in batches to avoid overcrowding, carefully drop them into hot oil, (see illustration below). Fry turning once, until evenly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to tranfer meataballs to a paper towel on a platter.
2. For the sauce: Heat oil and garlic in medium saucepan over medium heat. When garlic starts to sizzle, add tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add meatballs to tomato sauce anad heat through for several minutes; adjust seasonings. Keep sauce warm while preparing remaining ingredients. (Sauce can be covered and refrigerated for 2 days; reheat before assembly.)
4. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to boil in dutch oven. Add salt and at least 18 sheets of lasagna noodles and cook to al dente. Drain and then soak finished noodles in a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds. Drain again and lay the noodles out on kitchen towels for 1 hour.
5. Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray. Smear several tablespoons of tomato sauce (without meatballs) across pan bottom. Line pan with a layer of pasta, making sure that noodles touch but do not overlap. Spread 3/4 cup tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle evenly with 2/3 cup mozzarella and 2 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan. Repeat layering of pasta, tomato sauce and meatballs and cheeses four more times. For the sixth and final layer, cover pasta with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and sprinkle with remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan. (Assembled lasagna can now be wrapped with plastic and refrigerated overnight or wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month.)
6. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake until cheese on top turns golden brown in spots and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes (25 to 35 minutes with chilled lasagna). Remove pan from oven and let lasagna rest 5 minutes. Cut and serve. (To cook frozen lasagna, move the lasagna to the refrigerator at least twelve hours before baking. Allow it to defrost slowly, and then transfer it directly, unwrapped, to a preheated oven.)

Hope you'll try and enjoy these recipes!
Have a wonderful week ahead.....

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