Monday, November 30, 2009

Back In The Kitchen

I am happy to say that I am back up in full swing in my professional status as a kitchen manager/chef in a local establishment. I will be able to develop and teach cooking classes, do my boutique catering in a commercial kitchen, and still have time to write. I also have my contract job at Isle Youth Build, teaching inner city kids basic culinary classes, as well as counsel them in job training once a week.

My food poetry gig is in full swing, but the radio station, Crop To Cuisine has decided to move forward with redesigning a website (I am glad on that note, and shared my feelings with the owner), and will be airing reruns in through December. They are going to be picked up nationally by NPR, but for now they are featured on (Out of Boulder, CO).

Once they are up to speed in January, my food poetry feature will be back up. The owner has told me that I sparked an interest, and I could be viewed as a pioneer in adding this style to 'Locally produced news and public affairs talk show'. Crop To Cuisine is a worthwhile radio show on its own. Featuring nationally food related topics about various food and food trends.

Staying positive in my life changes has been a hard road. If you have ever read 'Who Moved My Cheese' and other type reads on learning to live with change knows that at my age redesigning your life is no easy task. I feel it has always been part of a plan, design for my own greater good in heart and soul.

Bring it on! I am up to the challenge...

Friday, November 27, 2009

FSO- Faces & Smiles

"I am really thrilled to offer up the theme this week "Faces and Smiles". I am a Mom of five, artist and teacher. Running my own preschool... I get lots of opportunities to shoot happy faces. I have discovered that I have a passion for catching faces when folks are not looking, fun, candid shots", says Sarah...

I decided to post pics from my open mic- Cultural Art Expression. I usually coach people telling them to try and smile more when they sing, but mostly they look like they are stressed or pulling a muscle...

Rich, Sue & Me at A&B open mic ~     My assistant Ang at my house ~   Cultural Art Expression Open Mic

We now have three locations- Its A Grind Coffee House, Plainsboro; Grovers Mill Coffee House, West Windsor, and Classic Books, Trenton, New Jersey. They are with in miles of each other here in the Princeton area. A great way to come and hear spoken word poetry and musician singers of all kinds, and for free! That outta make you smile!  Ang my assistant for the past six months is doing her internship by helping me out with food related quests. She and I always have a good laugh when we are hanging out. She is moving to Delaware with her soon to be hubby, and that is going to make me, well, not so happy, but we are happy for her!

Thanks for joining me for our Friday Shoot Out, and go check out the others you will find @ FSO

Thursday, November 19, 2009

FSO- My Towns Premier Attraction

I'm back. Down off of cloud nine. No, I am still dangling some what. Still holding on to that one puff that has not dissipated. My minute and a half of fame on the radio gone until next Monday's show. Now its time to get back to work! Busy Busy Busy. I am writing my next semester class curriculum for culinary study at Isle Youthbuild, more poetry and stories, open mics are hopping, and I just was accepted to the Visual Arts Board of a city near me. I have been waiting for them to build their new center, so I can get a permanent home base for spoken word open mic. No time limit's, like at the coffee shops. They accepted my proposal.On that note...

This weeks theme is brought to you by... Kent. "Since we all live in such different places, I thought a good theme might be to show what your hometown is most noted for".

Well, Princeton is known for it's Ivy League college. Princeton University takes up most of the town. Lots of homes and land were either bought or donated by leaders and residents during and after the era of 1756. The College of New Jersey moved from Newark and erected Nassau Hall, bringing the village prominence and a strong Presbyterian influence. Like history? Read More @ Princeton Township...

Every building in this city is really old, but their are a few houses that have been knocked down and made way for state of the art architecture. I prefer the old. Below you see the town of Princeton, and on the right is the actual campus; left are the city streets. Though they own so much more around the town.

I used these photos back when I first began with Friday Shoot Out. Most are no good, due to the rain that day. These have come in handy again, since outside my town looks like winter is about to come crashing down. Maybe some snow? The students who walk the enormous campus, and ride their bikes through out the streets will not enjoy the weather to come, but it does paint a beautiful back drop for the history that lies within these walls...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Life Beyond...

I have often asked myself if there is life beyond the kitchen; being an empty nest'er, since my son goes to college and lives on his own in St. Louis; should I stay home and be a simple house wife; I worry if I act my age looking for good social food and wine scenes (kidding, who cares right!) since my cafe closed down a year ago. All those years of hard work in the food industry since I was fourteen. The dream of owning my own cafe all went whoosh down the toilet a year ago today. The owner went bust. My cafe was doing great, but I did not want to rent the entire space she occupied. You always start small; then add on as you grow, but not in this economy.The property did not want to downsize the space for me. Now they sit two thirds empty.

All my savings, and inheritance money gone. I felt at times all I had left was my open mic ambitions (I began to blog about my life and work). Sure I have my personal chef job, and consulting for other restaurants through the states woman's small business programs, but I felt there was more for me. So, focusing on the open mic to showcase my writing and helping others get out of there living room studios and into a spot light...I marched on. I now run three open mics around my area, and have been pushing the pencil, well, the computer keys for the past six months. Chugging out whatever comes to my mind. I often wake up from dreams and put it on paper while it is fresh.

Not all of my work is good. I would be fooling myself if I really thought that was the case. I do know that I have written some good stories, news paper articles, and poems over the past forty plus years of my life, and have published a number of them. I remain humble though, for I feel fortunate that I have more than a few talents in this life. My mother also had a dream like me. She was a simple housewife in an abusive relationship with my father, and she wrote poetry. Her artwork never saw the light of day, but I intend to change that one day. She did have ambition, but I only saw it in her eyes. I have many dreams, and intend to see as many of them as I can come true.

This past Monday I was contacted by a radio show in Boulder, CO (they found me through my blogs). The owner/host ask me if I was interested in submitting food poetry for their Crops To Cuisine show that airs Monday, 3 PM MT. I thought about it, contacted three of my possible/available friends to help me choose and edit work. The radio station contacted a local communications program at a local college, and arranged for me to go in studio and record. Nervous, anxious, but excited I went and had my first 'real' recording studio experience.

Win Howard my engineer for the afternoon was just as nice as can be! She helped me feel comfortable, and told me how to clear my throat without more irritation (I have allergies). I felt like the microphone was a second skin. I do emcee four times a month hosting my Cultural Art Expression- Open Mic groups, but to walk away hearing such a clear voice on the MP3 CD. Wow! I liked my voice. I liked my work. There is a good writer in this big silly southern girl body!

The Crop To Cuisine show received my recordings today, and called me to say "Hey there E, I was just gonna nibble, and listen to one. But one led to all. I love them. They each have their own character, and tell me a bit about you. Some tempt my appetite. Some bring back memories of my own. They are all great. I love how "onion soup" reads like it is following a recipe or technique. But it makes me feel like I am experiencing onion soup on a cold winter day. I love how " An Iceberg" tells a story everyone knows. They are great. Please keep em coming". - Dov

We will see where this leads me down the spoken word path? What will this mean for my writing career? Who cares/! I am having fun, and it is another thing to check off 'The Hunt'...

A few things that have helped me get through the hard times of my life since my daughter passed away nine years ago, as well as other things I have had to overcome...

Laugh more, love more, express yourself more, and help others...

I would like to thank Michele Kallman, Creative Writing/Drama Teacher for her friendship, tutoring and editing skills. She also writes some damn good poetry! Thank you Jeanne Estridge/Writer for her friendship, kindred writing spirit, tutoring and editing my works. She tells great jokes and is also a damn good writer! Thanks Melissa Gaffney for you friendship and editing skills as she is a journalist and is a fellow NJ blogger. I would like to thank Christo Gonzales AKA Doggybloggy for staying on my rear end this past year. He himself a Creative Writer Graduate. I have heard he is also a great poet/writer, and fellow blogger. He has told me time after time; if I am going to claim I am a writer then produce top grade work. Last, a great big Thanks for all of your encouragement too...
Monday, Nov 16, 2009, 3 PM MT, 4 PM Central, 5 PM Eastern
The show Crop To Cuisine airs twice montly...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Shoot Out- Places of Worship

I owe Rebecca a great big apology, because I am going to use my 'Get Out of Trouble' card and let you all know that I cannot post today.

I have been focusing on writing as much as I can until my culinary classes start back up; then I was contacted by a Radio Program this week. The owner/host has asked if I was interested in recording some of my food poetry for their show. They would like a few performance pieces for this upcoming Monday program, and I am scrambling to get things rolling. I am booked in a studio Friday, and have little time to rehearse. I will give more information when I have it. This station is being picked up by NPR, and eventually going national.

Sorry Rebecca...I will post a photo by Sunday, as I share her love for the architecture. So much history can be found on why cathedrals are built the way they are. Icons that decorations symbolize so much of the churches religious beliefs and faith. Until I learned what I have, I just viewed it as artwork, plain and simple, but it is so much more...

Here is my radio food poetry debut...

Monday, 3 PM MT, KGNU Independent Community Radio / 88.5 FM Boulder / 1390 AM Denver / 93.7 FM Nederland, CropToCuisine Radio Show

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Friday Shoot Out- Skylines

This weeks them is 'Skylines' by Kate.

I had to laugh when I read where Kate said she was not thrilled at her choice (on her site under last weeks theme, and feeling the same about my own choice), so I decided to share a story for her of how discovery can lead to so many things. Whether it be a skyline of a city, or a row of trees as you drive along falls highway...

My skyline stretches from Maine up to Canada and back down again. Displayed like a bragging outdoors mans trophy, so be warned!

The Hunt

by E Stelling

Since I was young, much younger, I always was game for hunting down fun. Whether it was a new skyline that usually mean the chance of meeting new people, or new ground I had not covered. Covering new ground to me means a walk through beautiful parks, small to large scale landscapes; which brings me to my title- the movie ‘Bucket List’ came out and now many people are using that term, but I have always called it ‘The Hunt’.

I want to discover everything life and nature has to offer. All of it! Whoa you say! That can cover a lot of territory, a lot of traveling, and sometimes it’s the luck of the draw on when and where you might happen to be. Being in the right place at the right time is how it works; that, and hiring a professional guide. Most nature photographers have to revisit, sit for hours, and still might walk away with no photos. I hired a professional guide for fishing the Colorado river, and still walked away with an empty stringer.

Visiting a place more than once can also be costly, but many hunters find it’s worth the adrenaline. Like my trip to The Salmon River, and the time I went on three whale boats one year after another, and only until the third year did I walk away happy. The mother and her baby frolicked for our cameras for hours.

Once I stumbled upon dolphins swimming in the surf as I sat on Myrtle Beach with only my cell phone. I have caught Tuna and Barracuda in Florida, as well as swam over sharks over a reef near a friend’s boat in the Keys. That, believe you me was not something I was looking for. Hiking in San Francisco near Half Moon Bay I saw cougar, a really scary long trail tale. I am always ready for a new adventure; it’s in my blood!

I definitely do not take great risks like my father who flew airplanes without ever having a real lesson, was in the Navy and swam in back currents of his ship on the ocean, and had seen the world before he was thirty. I believe I am more cautious than he, and take life one day at a time. Part of being cautious is asking questions and reading as much information as I can before I travel generally helps. Which brings me to my latest adventure; I have always wanted to see a moose. Yes, I want to see full blown gi-enormous antlers and all moose. When you see them in cartoons and photos they seem so darn cute, and like they are smiling right?

My friend Donna and I recently drove up to Maine. I casually mentioned to her that if we saw a moose I would feel like our trip was a success. Of course traveling and having fun with her was enough, but she is a photographer. She agreed that a photo of a moose would satisfy her hunger for adventure as well. The weather was not cooperating for sea scape photos she came for (I had warned her late October was not a great time of year for shooting the wrong kind of equipment), so she insisted we move on.

Off we went in my car with our snacks, water, and enough gear for an army. We quickly decided to drive to Quebec City in Canada. With me, you never know. I get in the mood to take a drive and we might end up in Alaska. The GPS guided us up and straight through some of the most beautiful areas of northern Maine. Moose country here we come! Or, so I had always thought.

Of course we heard about sightings all along our trail, as I would mentioned to passer bys that we wanted to see moose. We were told they only come out after it snows to lick the salt off the road; then we were told that they were seen deep in the woods standing in watery bogs, but the guy did not know why it was not drinking. I was not about to go hiking through the woods, because I heard they charge and are huge, and I am not toting a gun.

Another guy we ran into said he saw a herd of them when they were duck hunting a few days back. Now they run in herds? Like their cousin the deer? What is going on up here? We just missed bird hunting season, and deer hunting started the following weekend, so we were told. The woman who ran the local gas station slash gift shop in Jackman, ME said “they are dumber than a tree stump”, warning us to watch out. Why I asked? “…because they will charge right into the side of your car as they walk across the road, and go through your window with all their might if they feel threatened”; then she advised us to run into its back hind legs, causing it to sit down. Hmmm… Laughter echoed as loud as the silence of the season around us from my car.

We saw no moose on the road to Canada, but we saw plenty of signs warning us that they might cross our path. Flashing bright lights and all! Driving up to Quebec and then following the river that stretches across and down through New Brunswick, we crossed back over the border of the United States. After two and a half days of over peaked and leafless trees, dark cloudy skies, and no wildlife to be seen at all, so we charted our course for Bar Harbor. Champagne on the deck of our room after we shoot the sunset off top of Cadillac Mountain would just have to do on this trip.

A small amount of disappointment brightened back up with familiar skylines of gorgeous orange, reds, and brown leaves that Maine is known for. The thought of moose slowly faded from our minds. Or did it? I still kept one eye on the road and the other along the brush around the bottom of the trees. The road is sloped, and who knows what might be lurking. There still might be a chance for one to pop out of its woodsy home.

I was flying at a speed of seventy miles an hour trying to race the sun. Much of what I saw quickly became a blur. We had made reservations and wanted to get into town before we could not see what it had to offer. Then I saw it! I spotted a moose lifting its head up after taking a mouthful of brush, or whatever it eats. 

Just as soon as I brought the car to a screeching halt, scaring the daylights out of Donna, a big SUV stopped almost right at the spot where I just saw the moose. I slowly began to back up on the shoulder. Inching my way back to where the white vehicle sat waiting. Then in the review mirror I noticed a woman getting out of that driver’s seat with a point and click camera. Oh, how dare her! She was going straight for my moose. I backed up as fast as I could to keep her from scaring off MY prize, and following Donna who had her mega zoom lens ready, and was hopping out of my moving car to go join the woman. I had to get in on the action.

I removed myself from my drivers seat as cars zoomed past, putting myself in an even greater danger; then slowly but surely other cars began to stop along the road. Moose paparazzo was on! Oh well, I was not in the wilds of the jungle after all. I was in civilization, and I got what I wanted. A photo of what I believe to be about a two or three year old male with small antlers doing what nature intended. He is eating as much as possible to grow into a studly male bull, so he can find the female mate of his dreams in the spring. If I ever come across another moose I hope it is once again against this magnificent autumn skyline, and he shows off his matured antlers so that I can have yet another exciting 'hunt' to share.

Information I found on ‘Moose’, along with some of my own observations (do not read any further if you have already fallen asleep):

Are Moose stupid?

Moose are smart enough to have populated large portions of the northern hemisphere and survived for approximately 2 million years. Not bad for an animal many people consider stupid. People who believe moose are stupid are really commenting on the fact that moose do not always flee when danger presents itself. We interpret that as stupidity. In the world of a moose facing danger has the decided benefit of reducing the chances for you or your offspring of being eaten by your primary predators (wolves or bears). As you or I would undoubtedly run for our lives when faced with similar imminent predation we must come to the conclusion that moose are both smart and brave and in comparison we therefore must be stupid and cowardly. I guess it all depends on who's looking at whom.

Why do Moose stand in water?

Because they eat many plants that are aquatic, and often swim in water above their shoulders, holding large amounts of air in their lungs, so they can dive to get plant life below the surface of the water. Therefore they do not just drink the water. This is also a good reason why zoos do not have moose (on occasion orphaned moose are in captivity in forest areas), because their diets are so unique that a feed has not been developed to help them survive in those conditions. I prefer them left in the wild if you ask me!

What do moose eat, and why do they lick the ground on the side of the road?

Moose is an Algonquin term for "eater of twigs." Moose are primarily browsers feeding on leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs. A healthy moose will eat 40-60 pounds of browse daily. Moose favor willows, birches, aspens, maples, fir, and viburnums, in the fall they begin feeding on the bark of some hardwoods, particularly maples and aspens. In the winter moose feed on the buds and new woody growth of these plants. Removal of mature timber through logging and careless use of fire has, in general, benefited moose as new stands of young timber have created vast areas of high-quality moose food.

Moose feed heavily on sodium-rich aquatic plants in summer. Cows also prefer to keep their calves near water as an escape route for their calves. Ponds are used by both sexes to escape from moose flies and other pesky insects and to keep cool. Moose licks form in wet areas on the sides of highways where road salt accumulates. Moose visit these areas to drink the salty water thereby satisfying their salt requirements.

How do you tell a female from a male?

Only bulls grow antlers, and have been known to shed them every two years. Antler growth begins in March or April and is completed by August or September when the velvet is shed. Antlers are dropped starting in November; young bulls may retain their antlers into early spring. Yearlings develop a spike or fork; adults develop antlers that may weigh up to 40 pounds with wide sweeping palms with many long tines. The bell the flap of skin and long hair that hangs from the throat is more pronounced in adult bulls than in cows or immature bulls.

Males grow antlers to attract females during the rut, and as they grow they have a coating called velvet; which after mating they begin to shed this coating. The males try to avoid damage to this part of their antlers and must feed it heavily before the rut; it is part of the attraction from females. My moose could still be considered a ‘Yearling’, due to its spike. Only bulls five years or older are ready to mate. My impression was that my male was at least three but after reading it could possibly be little more than a year old, and had been kicked away from its mother when she gave birth to another baby in the spring. You could also see it molting its fur, another sign of its preparing for winter.

Do moose travel south for the winter?

This is no secret that moose do not winter in Florida. Condo associations refuse to admit them, so moose must find winter quarters in other climes. Luckily for them, they are perfectly adapted to spend the winter in the snowy north, far from Florida's sunny shores. Moose are, after all, a northern species. They exist all across the northern hemisphere from China to Scandinavia in Eurasia and from Utah to Alaska in North America. Moose are perfectly adapted to live in the wintry north. Their large body size reduces heat loss because of the low surface-area-to-volume ratio. Long legs allow adult moose to handle snow depths of 36 inches, although at 28 inches they may seek shelter in softwood cover. In addition, snow crust will cause moose to restrict their movements to a more sheltered environment. Spend five minutes walking without snowshoes on a breaking crust and you'll understand why! While long legs allow moose to handle snow depths far beyond the abilities of white-tailed deer (which can handle about 18 inches), moose do prefer to spend the winter in an area that provides plenty of browse near a sheltering, mature mixed-wood or coniferous forest.

This shelter actually serves a dual purpose—not only does it help moose deal with crust or very deep snow, it protects them from heat! The moose's long and hollow outer hair coat, with its dense soft undercoat, allows it to easily withstand the coldest of temperatures. While calves begin to feel the cold at -22 degrees F, adults are able to withstand far colder temps. Moose are so well insulated from the cold that winter temperatures of 23 degrees F will make them pant. As our winter temperatures can be quite variable, moose depend on the shade of softwood cover to keep them cool during our warmer winter days. On warm winter days, some moose will lie flat in the snow to try to dissipate their body heat. Summer temperatures as low as 57 degrees F can cause moose to begin to suffer from heat stress and moose will begin panting at 68 degrees F. So, while Florida condo associations won't rent to moose, the moose don't care. They'd much rather spend their winters up north—and the colder the better.

Are the moos different in New England compared to Alaska?

Yes, each area has a different species name, but its habits are closely identical. The warmer climate of New England is not preferred by moose in nature, but however some still remain in the area and in cover of the dense trees, and once snow falls they may lay down to keep their temperature as cool as possible. From what I have read and heard, our sighting was rare this time of year. But obviously the yearling was hungry and they are not afraid to go where food might be. Being closely related to deer, and observing deer in the north east it seems (only speculation) that they come out more in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler. Being the largest of animals in North America their predators are black and brown bears, and on occasion wolves and cougars who seek out calves in the spring; otherwise our cars and guns are the only threat to them in and outside of their territory.

[These answers were originally published in New Hampshire Fish and Game's monthly Wildlife Report, and borrowed from ‘’, as well as State Gaming and Hunting websites I researched]

Want to see better photos of moose; then go see the Slide show, and I swear one is smiling for the camera...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Orange Sky

I had the opportunity to drive up with my sister, Donna Kay, and we met Denise in Kennebunk, MA. I am reflecting on our quick trip; how nice people are out there in the real world; what we each expect from one another, but feel like we get the short end of the stick, and how my younger sister seems to be finally growing up. My parents had to leave this world to let her go from the nest. Mary, just fall and let your wings take over; it does not hurt as much as you think.

We all go through life feeling like we carry a weight that no one else does, but if we did not pick up rocks we would not know how they felt in our hands... I love you Denise, Donna, and Mary... your sister, Elizabeth

And... I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my sister standing by
With my sister standing by
I said Sister, here is what I know now
Here is what I know now
Goes like this..
In your love, my salvation lies
In your love, in your love, in your love

But sister you know I’m so weary
And you know sister
My hearts been broken
Sometimes, sometimes
My mind is too strong to carry on
Too strong to carry on

When I am alone
When I’ve thrown off the weight of this crazy stone
When I've lost all care for the things I own
That's when I miss you, that's when I miss you, that's when I miss you
You who are my home
You who are my home
And here is what I know now
Here is what I know now
Goes like this..
In your love, my salvation lies
In your love, in your love, in your love

Yes I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my brother and my sister standing by

~ Alexi Murdoch