Tag Archives: grapefruit

Savoring the togetherness.

Deer on a coastal rock.

I hope you have people to love, and those who love you. Every conversation with a neighbor or hug from a grandchild feels more precious to me as the days go by; before November winds all the way down I want to share a few scenes and moments that have been to me infusions of grace and joy in the midst of “interesting times” in the world.

It was almost a month ago that my neighbor Kim had a dinner party for several couples and one widow (yours truly) on our block. It was a very restorative and healing time, I think for all of us. Several of these people I had hardly seen for two years, though they live just a few doors down. Half of them had known my late husband.

After we were seated around a long dining table, our host gave a surprising toast to “The first of many more post-covid neighborhood parties!” All cups were raised, and the general tone of the ensuing comments, and the whole evening, was of holding on to our humanity and neighborliness as much as possible, no matter what comes. No one went home early that night; we sat around the gas firepit, or stood in the kitchen, chatting and sipping and savoring the togetherness, acting out the toast for a few blessed hours.

Closer to Thanksgiving, I returned to the beach with a former housemate who accompanied me three years ago just before she moved to New York. Our time there was refreshing and sweet; instead of the scores of seals we’d seen that time, gulls by the hundreds were swooping and gliding back and forth where a river empties into the sea.

We watched them, and the waves, while sitting on a log. When it was time to go, we climbed up a sand dune and tromped back to the parking lot, weaving through clumps of grass in our bare feet.

A few days later, who should arrive but my dear daughter Pippin and her family. They came in stages; when only three of them had got here, we went for a walk in the hills. It was the first time I’d been with Pippin in that particular park since the day Jamie was born, lo these many years ago, the¬† day after my husband’s funeral. So Jamie had been along, too, and maybe the jostling of that walk in springtime had prompted him to start his journey into the outer world.

This day, he was climbing trees with Ivy. First they climbed a Valley Oak, then a Buckeye (horse chestnut), and finally a Bay (Laurel) tree. Pippin joined them up in the bay.

We noticed many little trees and shrubs that were fenced in by wire cylinders, presumably against nibbling by deer. From a sign, here is a list of species that have been planted in the last ten years:

Later we worked on pies for our feast, and the children had the idea of making gluten-free pie-crust cookies for Uncle Steve, for whose sake Pippin was making such a dough for a pumpkin pie. I assembled the fourth version of my famous Grapefruit Gelatin Salad, which after ten years I am still refining to accommodate the changing ingredients available in the stores, and the loss of my favorite, odd-sized dish I always used for it. I’ll pass the recipe along when I fix it so that it fits in one 9×12 pan.

Our long weekend was very full, starting with Divine Liturgy on Thanksgiving morning, and including two (food) feasts, the little hike; and a busy afternoon, when Pippin and the Professor helped me to sort through old camping equipment, put hardware cloth over my planter boxes where the birds have been pecking, and hang fairy lights in the living room.

This little report covers only a small fraction of the loving friends and family who have made me feel the solace of God and the blessedness of the world. I reconnected with old friends and drank tea with many others. It has been a good month in important ways. May God keep our hearts during the next one and bring us with joy to the Feast of the Nativity of Christ.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” I John 4

Morning Melange

As I was getting dressed and forgetting to make my bed this morning, I listened to Fr. Michael Gillis of Praying in the Rain blog, on his podcast of the same name, an episode in which he “deconstructs the notion that choice translates into freedom.” I really liked him, and the message. His recent blog post about fleeing to the desert (a little bit), is really helpful, too. How can we flee to the desert when many of us aren’t leaving our houses? It’s a provoking meditation, in the best way.

Before sunrise, I had trekked downstairs in my slippers to check on the greenhouse heater that I finally installed last week. The thermostat was set so that it should have come on, going by my phone, where I read that the outdoor temperature was 32 degrees. Yes! Success!

Last night I had defrosted a container of the tiny snow peas I toiled over preserving last spring. They were incredibly labor intensive at every stage, and I vowed never to buy from that seed company again, and only to use seeds that were likely to produce large pea pods.

But this morning the peas I’d saved were a welcome addition to the pan to which I added eggs, and this seasoning mix from Trader Joe’s that I seem to be sprinkling on everything lately.

I ate a giant pink grapefruit, too, which made me think about my childhood when I didn’t like that fruit, and about the funny name of it, which was easy to learn in Turkish because they call it greypfrut. Who named it first? I couldn’t remember, so I looked it up in this wonderful book that was my grandfather’s. He was a citrus farmer, too, and when he was visiting our family, there was no chance of any child getting out of eating grapefruit for breakfast. We were allowed to put honey on it, but in my case that didn’t help much.

That book, The World in Your Garden, is the source of the pretty picture at top. It says that the name originated in Jamaica!

Grapefruit is one thing I wouldn’t try to eat while sitting at the computer, so I watched the birds. All the larger species were visiting, doves, and the blue jay, and even the flickers. I’m pretty sure I saw the Cooper’s Hawk, too, spying out his breakfast.

I’ve been trying to find the right food to scatter on the patio for the doves and other ground-feeders. So many blends I have tried in the past have some ingredients that are ignored, and go to waste. My latest offering is something designed for pigeons, and many of the birds have been eating most of that mix. There are still some split peas, they look like, that go untouched so far. When this bag is gone, I will just buy some plain millet; that’s what I have been looking for for a year, but haven’t found it yet.

I’m leaving soon to drive to the beach — again! I have been doing it a lot, and plan to start a sort of Beach Diary page here on my blog. But being on the beach is taking time away from writing… By the time I get there, morning will have turned to afternoon, and I hope the sun will be shining.

Blessings to all from my corner of the cosmos.

Jello is so refreshing.

When I was a child, a leafy-green salad was prepared almost every evening of the year, including on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our custom was to eat our salad after the main course, but on many holidays the healthy bowlful was discovered too late, waiting forgotten on the kitchen counter, long after anyone had any appetite left.

GJ preparing heavy dishes

My husband’s family introduced me to the tradition of jello at Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law had a nice strawberry jello salad that our whole family came to appreciate because it was one item on the heavy-laden table that wasn’t calorie-dense and fat-heavy.

Over the decades since then we’ve had a variety of lighter dishes on our table for these feasts, including Korean Kale Salad and other salads that may seem odd to the typical palate but keep us feeling like our usual happy Glad folk. For many years we let the jello custom lapse, probably because it was too sweet, and we didn’t need another item that seemed to belong in the dessert category.

When half my life was past I discovered that I did love grapefruit after all, and I experimented with creating a gelatin salad recipe that would be less sweet, and would feature the refreshingly bitter-sour tang of grapefruit. I love grapefruit even more after having lived in Turkey briefly, where they spell it greypfrut. But I didn’t eat any jello there, so that is just name-dropping — even though as you can see the Turks did not drop the name when they were changing the spelling.


Here now is the current version of my gelatin salad. I have played around with it over the years, using coconut milk and pineapple juice at times, making a smaller batch, and adding fresh peeled orange sections when I had them. So it is definitely flexible¬† — try it with your own preferred flavors or handy ingredients.

Grapefruit Gelatin Salad

64 oz. Ocean Spray Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice Drink
7 envelopes unflavored gelatin granules
1 qt. L&A or any pineapple-coconut juice
1 cup sugar
peeled fresh orange sections or a large can crushed pineapple

Put about 6 cups of the Ruby Red in a pot and whisk in the gelatin. Heat these together until the gelatin is dissolved. Add and dissolve the sugar, remove from heat and add the remainder of the Ruby Red along with the pineapple-coconut juice.

Refrigerate the gelatin until partly jelled. Stir in the fruit and refrigerate again until firm. I think next time I will put some sweetened flaked coconut on the top.

About the size of the pan: The one I use holds more than 3 quarts, and this salad after the fruit is added comes right to the top. It would be easier and maybe prettier to use a jello mold or fluted pan(s); then when the fruit has been mixed in I could prepare the pans by putting some shredded coconut and even a few maraschino cherries before adding the gelatin-fruit mixture.

I’d very much like to hear from any of you who also have favorite salad or vegetable dishes that lighten up your holiday menus. Leave a comment or link me to your blog. Thanks in advance! Oh, and if you just have jello stories, as I do, please tell me those, too.