Awareness Sublime

Oldest Daughter & Red Headed Sister

today I walked into the post office.
just inside the door that never locks,
and the silver trim protectively surrounding her,
i saw it.
up against the corner swept weekly,
probably daily in the winter,
almost already behind me,
was a lone white plastic sack.
the contents inside
dwindled down to one cucumber
someone’s summer bounty,
now one of yours,
left, possibly given, presumably abandoned.
I flicked the envelopes into the slot,
turned two keys looking for more requirements,
thankful there wasn’t a spinning combination lock anymore.
somebody take her home, I thought, as I pushed the door open to leave,
and listened as it shut.

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The Miracle Weed (6 IMAGES)

Petals Unfolding

All gardeners know the importance of weeding.  There is that individual weed, (Dandelion is foremost in my mind), where you must dig out that weed down to the tiniest bit of the root.  If not, yep that Dandy grows right back mocking all the work you had done prior, in an attempt at getting that darn thing out.  That root rule goes for all weeds come to think of it.  If you don’t get the entire root out, forget it, because that weed is back before you can blink.

Then there are the group weeds when on knees and gardening gloves on hands, weeds by the bunches are pulled out with great grunts of satisfaction, I’ll have you know.  This is done best when the dirt is moist giving the puller of weeds the advantage of pulling weeds with roots intact all the way out.  Exception to that rule on…

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Making Alenquer a food destination

Salt of Portugal

Casta 85.jpg

In the 19th century, Alenquer was one of Portugal’s premier wine regions. Its fortunes waned for much of the 20th century. But the tide turned and Alenquer rightly regained its status as a prized wine destination. A young chef called João Simões wants to help Alenquer become a food destination as well.

João apprenticed at the Ritz and worked in many posh hotels and restaurants. Three years ago, he decided to return to his roots to recover and renew the culinary traditions of the region where he was born. He uses local products like quails and Rocha pears and works with farmers on projects like producing goat cheese in the Montejunto mountain. His restaurant is called Casta 85. Casta means varietal, a reference to the region’s wine tradition. The number 85 refers to the chef’s birth year.

The dining room is decorated with furniture procured in the chef’s village. It is a pleasant…

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A joyous view

Salt of Portugal

Vista Alegre-Montebelo

In the early 19th century, Portugal’s royal family and nobility served their meals on expensive porcelain imported from China. José Pinto Bastos, an entrepreneur,  saw in this fashion a business opportunity: he decided to produce porcelain in Portugal. It was a risky venture because the process for porcelain production was a closely guarded secret. So, Pinto Bastos started by making glass and crystal to finance his porcelain experiments.

He found the name of his brand and the perfect location for his factory on a hill near Ilhavo that overlooks the “ria,” an elongated body of water where fresh water mixes with salty water. On top of the hill there’s a beautiful church built in 1696 by a bishop who liked the location because of its “vista alegre” (joyous view).

In 1824, Pinto Bastos built a house adjacent to the chapel and a factory called Vista Alegre. There, he started to unravel…

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A bread revolution

Salt of Portugal

Composit GlebaDiogo Amorim was working as a chef at the famous Fat Duck when Heston Blumenthal, the restaurant’s head chef, decided to improve the bread they serve. Diogo liked the project so much that he decided to return to Portugal to research Portuguese bread. He traveled from north to south in search of old grains that have low yields and no gluten but are rich in flavor and nutrients. He studied how old windmills used to process these grains to make superior flours.

In a small village, he found a pair of extraordinary mill stones from La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, a region of France renowned for the quality of its mill stones. Diogo brought the stones to Lisbon, so that he could mill the grains only a few hours before baking to obtain more flavor and freshness. He convinced a few farmers to supply him with old grains and opened a bakery called Gleba.

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Sweet secrets

Salt of Portugal

Ovos Moles

“I’ll take you there,” our friend promised. He dialed a number on his cell phone and asked “Can you show us what we want to see?” The answer was positive so we got into his car and he drove us to the outskirts of Aveiro.

We stopped outside an ordinary building, walked to the back door and rang twice.  Rosa Líria Soares opened the door. She greeted us with a welcoming smile, even though it was Sunday and she had been working since 6:00 am. Rosa is a legendary producer of “ovos moles,” an Aveiro delicacy.

It all started thirty years ago when a pastry store closed and the owners offered Rosa their equipment and recipes. She began making “ovos moles” and soon it became her full-time occupation.

We asked whether she would show us the secretive production process. She said yes, she would show us everything except how to…

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Never write about your grandmother

My grandmother made my life beautiful and chores were fun. I had to brush down the-steps to the attic. It was a magical place and a scary one.
but it was also fun with the right adult. My grandmother gave me some old to clothes to play in and learned a lot housekeeping.

In summer, all of the carpet came off the floor and it got a good mat.
My grandmother loved teasing. Visitors might sit down in sofa. Until the the visitor saw a dog poop right beside the poop. It took a while for people to get over it.
In fact it was not poop, it was a fake one. My grandmother laughed. Other times she would have visitors would clime in to a bed filled with cereal.

One of her games sent made me crazy. It was simple. It starts with one person asking if you have ever heard the story of the little red stocking . One never gets an answer. It nearly drives one crazy…if we are not already.
More another when the spirit moves.

A perfect blend in Alentejo

Salt of Portugal

Composit Monte da Ravasqueira- 2Sometimes you have to look far to find what you have near. The enologist Pedro Pereira Gonçalves left his homeland in search of a new world, first in Australia and then in Chile. But he found his calling back in Portugal at Monte da Ravasqueira, in the heart of Alentejo.

The estate was purchased by José Manuel de Mello, a successful entrepreneur, in 1943. He turned the 3,000 hectares into a family retreat where he bred Lusitano horses and planted vines, cork and olive trees.

What attracted Pedro to the property, still owned by the Mello family, are its unique virtues. Twelve dams help create a micro climate with cooler temperatures.  And even though the Atlantic Ocean is 120 km away, it cools the nights because there are no mountains in its way. While most of Alentejo is flat, Ravasqueira has slopes with different sun exposures that produce diversity in…

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