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Labneh. Love it.

Lately I've gotten hooked on Mediterranean food. One of my favorites is labneh, which is a soft cheese made overnight from plain yogurt. I use it instead of cream cheese on a bagel, or as a spread on crackers or crudites, or drop a dollop on fish or vegetables or in soup.
First add a teaspoon of salt and some spices or herbs (if desired) to 16 ounces of plain yogurt.

Pour it in cheesecloth and then in a fine mesh strainer to drain in the frig overnight.
I place a bowl on top of the cheesecloth to help press out the fluid.
The fluid which drains out is called whey. It can be added to bones which you're cooking off for soup.

By the next day, you've got a wonderfully tangy and tasty cheese!

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Tasty AND pretty - how much more could you ask for in a salad?


I've been working my way through a marvelous cookbook - The Mediterranean Dish by Suzy Karadsheh. This is one of her tasty dishes:

Rainbow Baby Bell Pepper Salad

  • 1 pound baby bell peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced into rings
  • 6 Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill fronds
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6-8 marinated olives (green or kalamata), pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, tomatoes, scallions, dill, garlic, and olives. Sprinkle with the sumac and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest and juice along with the olive oil, toss, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Best if set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry.

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A few images from the Chinese Lantern Festival

I attended this exhibit about 3 years ago and again about 3 weeks ago. It is more dazzling than ever and, sadly, won't return until next year.


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Weighing heavy on my mind.

For too long the discourse about guns has been drawn along hard and fast lines, but it has come time for us to seek points of agreement between those who support the Second Amendment and those who call for gun control. Can we not bring together people on both sides of the issue who are concerned about the misuse of firearms?

According to statistics compiled by the nonprofit group Gun Violence Archive, there were 36 mass shootings in the US in the first 23 days of 2023, with a total of 2,679 deaths in the same period attributed to gun violence. No responsible gun owner would want to see guns used in such a fashion. This is just one point of agreement between two factions with very different points of view. Surely we can find more than one.

But the more I think about it, the more I think we need to draw up a list of “trigger words” before even trying to discuss this.  By this I mean words such as Liberal... Right-Wing... Black… Illegal aliens… Democrat… Republican... Gun control... These words and their synonyms and their ilk should be banned from the initial discussion, because people on both sides often close their minds and stop listening altogether as soon as they hear them. Both sides are guilty of this, and it’s sad to see people shouting at each other rather than listening and trying to come to a consensus about even ONE teensy thing to do to help make our streets and schools and homes safer.

This is not a right wing vs left wing issue, or a blue state vs red state issue – it is an issue that affects people of every race, religion, economic status, and political persuasion. It is a human issue. Let us call together reasonable people to seek ways to have safer streets and schools while still preserving the legitimate rights of gun owners.

I know there are a host of organizations who are concerned about this issue and the many factors that feed into the problem. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could form a coalition comprised of one representative from each of these organizations who would agree to set and abide by ground rules for keeping the discussion civil and focused not on disputing but on finding constructive approaches to address the violence in our community from the ground up? By limiting the size of the group we could get more done, yet by having wide representation we could ensure that all viewpoints are heard.

Can we as Americans – as citizens of this country and of North Carolina – sit down together and find a reasonable and respectful approach?

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Play time


We have a rather immense cat tree for our "boys". One part of it might work for kittens, but it is too flimsy for a full-sized cat. I use that section to store their toys. Tommy spends time each day sorting through and choosing the toy he wants to play with that day.  

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Shakshuka - love this dish!

I'm trying to eat healthier, and Mediterranean cooking has begun to appeal to me. When I was cooking for two, my better half wasn't into experimenting - he was fond of meat & potatoes, pasta & sweets, and all those other things that pack on the pounds. I'm now able to experiment without the eye-rolls, and have recently fallen in love with this recipe.  I adapted it slightly, choosing to use cilantro rather than parsley and mint, and decreasing the number of eggs for two of us. I can't wait to try it with fresh tomatoes when they're in season, though!

Easy Shakshuka Recipe


  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 6 cups)
  • ½ C tomato sauce
If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season, use a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice and omit the tomato sauce
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ C chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ C chopped fresh mint leaves


  • Heat 3 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the onions, green peppers, garlic, spices, pinch salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce (or canned diced tomatoes). Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook a bit longer to allow the mixture to reduce and thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Using a wooden spoon, make 6 indentations, or "wells," in the tomato mixture. Gently crack an egg into each indention.
  • Reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and cook on low until the egg whites are set.
  • Uncover and add the fresh parsley and mint. You can add more black pepper or crushed red pepper, if you like. Serve with warm pita, challah, or crusty bread of your choice.


  • Make Ahead Tip: You can prepare the shakshuka tomato sauce one night in advance.  Let cool completely, then store in the fridge in a tight lid glass container. When you are ready the next day, warm up the sauce in a skillet and add the eggs and follow the recipe from step #3 on.


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