Tag Archives: Health

Isn’t She Lovely? Lighter Lasagna


Often lasagna is like  a beautiful Italian woman in a tight red dress. She may look like a siren, but she may be good for you too.  Italians are known for overdoing it. We are impulsive, impetuous, extreme, but passionate. In the kitchen our personality is in full force all the time. Nothing is off-limits.

The new year is about shedding many things. In an attempt to embrace a new life.. ..I also let go of the calories and fat in my traditional Christmas Eve lasagna. Basically anything that does not add to your lasagna, needs to be left out. Sounds simple but it does wonders.

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Motherless Mothers

As children, we define the term mother or father with femaleness and manhood. We gather up this definition from our role models, good or bad. Some lose that image through death and hold on to that ideal or negative image as something to work toward or run away from for the rest of their adult life.

20131004-081342.jpgFor children who have no model, or a conglomeration of role models from strangers, this identification is daunting. My daughter is 10 years old. At her age my real mother had vanished after years of confusing court visits. I had an adoptive mother step in for a few years until she died before I entered 8th grade. After that, I observed the relationships, identities, tragedies, and triumphs of my foster sisters who I lived with until I left high school. I sometimes watched the movements of friends’ mothers, or strangers on the street, gathering up my idea of what a mother really might be.

I decided when I became a mother that motherhood must be the ideal image I saw in television shows; baking cupcakes, sitting at games, supportive, emotionally present, consistent. This is what I modeled my parenting style after and every minute of it has been the joy of my life. I have had years of birthday parties, years of scraped knees and hospital visits, crying , laughter, games, homework, dinners, baking, crafts, school projects, diaper changing, up all nights, cuddling all day, picnics in the park; all the things I missed out on as a child. Being a mother saved my heart.
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Should Pandora’s Box Be Opened?

My favorite writer, Rainer Maria Rilke says that we should leave certain questions unanswered in our hearts. Instead, he reiterates we should love the questions themselves, taking from them a curiosity and peace in their mystery. This is not an easy feat. When I was taken from my mother, I was found broken, burnt, nonverbal and locked in a basement, with a boy just a few years older than me. For years as a young child, the identity of this young boy plagued my dreams and instilled a child-like fantasy of lost brother and sister running down the street into each others arms.

ME!-1981 - Just entering foster care.
ME!-1981 – Just entering foster care.

I would watch tearful television reunions of mothers whose separation from their child (voluntary or not) somehow impacted their life. Forgiveness and tears always followed and everyone reunited years later, running off into the sunset, full of new colors. As a young, confused child, these Hollywood images were indeed saddening in many ways. Foster children, aside from dealing with abuse or neglect challenges, do also have a whirl of mystery surrounding their life. Identity is equally as challenging as safety and trust. Some, if not all foster children, use this fantasy as a self defense mechanism; it gives an abandoned or abused child the hope that they were loved in some way even by perpetrators of abuse.
Even into adulthood, some foster children remain hopeful that the orphan Annie musical is somehow written for them. Surely, every parent loves their child? Surely every parent regrets abusing/neglecting/ abandoning a child? Sadly, those statements are sometimes wrong. There are indeed many foster children and adopted children who go on a hunt for “real” family many years later and are successful. Wounds are healed, transgressions forgiven, and sometimes well-intentioned parents live up to the fantasy of loving protectors. They loved their child, they lost them due to some mistake made, and they have good souls.

Sadly, not all parents are benevolent. Not all biological families had good intentions. Abusers NEVER have good intentions. For foster children whose past involved physical, sexual or emotional abuse, I would say this “fantasy” does more harm than good.

Continue reading Should Pandora’s Box Be Opened?

The Withdraw: Daily Writing Prompt

The knocking in my heartw11-john-waterhouse-lamia
asked for one more fix.

His hot mouth.
The trance of pretty words.
Grand fantasies. Hope.

Just one more time.
To feel possessed. Owned. Wanted.

Same ending.
Raw. Exposed. Forgotten.

The knocking becomes an echo.


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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.


Now..THAT is Amore! Italy’s Healthy Side!

Me and mini me strolling through Little Italy's food treasures!
Me and mini me strolling through Little Italy’s food treasures!

Unfortunately Italy is far from my current geographical stomping grounds. When I feel like bringing Tuscany and its colors, tastes, smells, sounds into my little haven… I retreat to the kitchen.

Me and mini me have had a long week. The weather has been frightful but fun, and we needed a few dishes that could keep us going strong. What better way than my version of Tuscan spring in a kale-sausage stew?

There is no other star brighter than the nutritional powerhouse of kale. It’s bright green hue showcases its might– low in calories, high in fiber, iron, vitamins A, C, E and K, an anti-inflammatory and digestive aid! What better base for my culinary trip back to Italia !

Me and mini me started by sautéing a basic base of four minced cloves of garlic and half of a red onion in olive oil. Then we put in 5-7 chopped ripe roma tomatoes. Once the garlic and onion were translucent I added sea salt and thyme. We added 6 links of a turkey sausage ( be mindful that some alternatives to pork sausage have a lot of salt..buy fresh if possible..we lucked out and went to a newly discovered local butcher).

Our Sausage-Kale Stew
Our Sausage-Kale Stew

Crumble the sausage in the pan and add vegetable stock. Keep the heat on low to medium and add a pound of tri-color tortellini and as much kale as you can handle! (Make sure to clean the kale well and chop it so it is palatable).

Add 5-7 fresh chopped basil leaves, pepper to taste and 1/2 cup of
Romano cheese. The colors and tastes are reminiscent of the spring greens of Italy’s countryside. Pair it with a nice glass of wine and forget…or remember…

whichever is more pleasant!

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This work by menaanne.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

Reckless — More Than a Broken Leg: Daily Prompt


Is it better to surrender blindly or keep passion at bay. Well, in my opinion, it is probably better and safer to keep it at bay. Kick it to the curb if it’s too much trouble, untie the strings, enjoy freedom, keep it from entering the small little dark room inside. But..Ive never been one to follow advice, even my own. And so, the biggest risk I took was stepping off the plane.


I let everything that was wound up tightly slowly unravel. Let myself lay like a child next to his blue plaid shirt, believed it all again..I built new dreams. I forgave. Nail by nail we rebuilt a shelter. Swallowed my fears that he would turn off again to me. I took the prize for its face value, with millions or nothing..over wine and candles or tears and rum. I wanted that arm on mine. I wanted his good, bad and ugly.

That last morning before the sun came up..I sat in the low corner of our room, looked out at the snow blanketed driveway..and pictured him walking toward me as an old man. Me waiting his arrival. Yes, I let myself flash-forward. I had never flash forwarded in my life!

Now he will walk down that driveway to someone else, walk in the door one night across from a different pretty face at our table. He will forget the nights he had nothing but my voice. Truth is both my legs were broken.

I was cut out quicker than a prostitute with a cashed check in hand.

Being blinded again by that familiar arm, watching his façade go to pieces..watching all of the routines, the promises, the dreams go in a flash again.. I realized that the ride was all mine.

And so I may be in a cast, but the blind passionate memories are good memories.. And getting off the plane was worth my heart flash forwarding. It meant I had hope.

So risk..it can be a good thing, but prepare the bandages beforehand.

Feed Me..Love me!

pic kitchen

From her first kick in the womb, me and mini me shared a love for all things delish and an inseparable bond! We have grown our kitchen hobby into a lifestyle of love, creativity and healthy habits. She has taught me more than I have taught her. I will post more about our adventures together later but…. Here are some introductory pictures behind the scenes. This week, me and mini me are going Gaelic-guinea with our stuffed cabbage. It’s an Italian twist on this childhood favorite. Most don’t know that cabbage has a huge skin benefits and can diminish eczema, large amounts of vitamin k and  a helping of antioxidants.  Next stop we will hunt for apples and bake them with steel oats and cinnamon for another sweet treat with benefits! We have a weekend of recipes and fun to share!