Sunday, March 11, 2018

No More Egg Peeling.

Hard boiled eggs are versatile little foods; snacks; cutting up to place in a salad; chop up, add mayonnaise and wallah, lunch sandwich; and most especially delicious, Deviled Eggs.  Oh, but the peeling of the shell off the eggs, what a chore!  Either they come off easily, or the eggs end up looking like Freddy Krueger peeled them with his claws.  I know, I know, rinse them in cool water; no, peel them while still hot; no, wait an hour before peeling; no, prick a hole at the ends and release the air before boiling; no…well you get it, everyone has a method.

Occasionally I do product reviews, either I’m truly impressed by something new, or it’s truly a rip-off.  When I saw the “As Seen on TV” commercial for Egglettes, I knew immediately I would have to buy and try.  Egglettes are silicon cups with hard plastic, screw on lids; crack open the eggs, drop into the cups (one per cup), screw the lids on tightly, drop into boiling water and let cook designated times for the type of egg you like  - soft, medium or hard boiled.  There are recipes for making Eggs Benedict, Frittata, Egg Salad and those beloved Deviled Eggs.

Seems like more work than boiling the eggs in water?  Eggs are made up of a lot of protein; when exposed to heat from boiling water, the molecular bonds of the amino acids inside these proteins change shape.  This thermodynamic process causes the egg white and yolk to harden.  If you have ever boiled eggs in their shells, this chemical change can cause the egg white to stick to the inside of the shell, making it tough to remove without wasting time and creating a heck of a mess.

It took two weeks, but I received my set of 6 Egglettes, plus free microwave cooking bowl for omelets; first step was to thoroughly wash in hot soapy water.  Then came play time, while water was beginning to boil in a pot on the stovetop, each Egglettes interior got a light spray of nonstick cooking spray, butter flavored.  Each large egg was cracked open, deposited into a cup, tightly sealed and placed into, by now, boiling water.  Timer was set for 12 minutes for medium boiled, pot covered and a bowl of cold water sat waiting.  After the timer dinged, the Egglettes went into the cold water, just like most folks would do with eggs in a shell.  Ah, but now for the easy opening; untwist the cap, run the tip of a knife around the egg’s top edge and squeeze the bottom of the cup…POP, goes the eggy! 

Medium boiled, no peeling, ready to eat and clean-up is hot, soapy water; hubby made a breakfast of toasted English muffin, cheese and eggs on top.  Just a little salt and pepper on top and I was happy just munching on these luscious morsels of eggy goodness.  Now an issue that some reviewers have is that the eggs are flat on one side.  So, if you want those pretty Deviled Eggs with rounded points at both ends, don’t rely on this product for that dish; or put a garnish at the flat end and pretty it up.

Store Cooked Eggs Up to 2 Days in Refrigerator.

So, how much did this want of convenience cost me?  One set of six Egglettes is priced at $14.99, plus $3.99 S&H. Each order comes with a bonus microwave egg sandwich/omelet cooker, free recipe booklet and 60-day refund policy, less S&H, which you can request by calling customer service at (855) 355-0416. To order online, go to:

The company that offers this product is Idea Village, based out of Wayne, NJ and has been manufacturing “As Seen on TV” products since 2009.  Some of their top-reviewed products include Copper Fit, Yes! by Finishing Touch, Micro Touch One Razor, and Snackeez.  Idea Village held an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, based on four consumer reviews and nearly 100 closed complaints, as of 1/22/18.  Most of these appeared to revolve around products that didn’t meet expectations, along with difficulty obtaining refunds. A representative responded in each instance with positive results though.  Now while the company is based in New Jersey, the products they sell are made in China.  I contacted Idea Village to find out why they do not manufacture in the United States, but no one could give me an answer; no matter how many times I got switched to another department.  So much for a positive result.

There you have it, a review on a product which makes dealing with hard boiled eggs easier for me.  …and as I watch the snow, for the entire winter, falling today on Monticello, Utah; an egg salad sandwich is sounding good about now.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Gluten Free, or Just Another Fad?

I have to admit, when the huge out-cry about gluten began, I was clueless on what the fuss was about.  First off, what the heck is gluten and why is it bad for the human body?  Gluten is, to put it into layman’s terms, glue; a mixture of two proteins, found mainly in wheat, rye, spelt and barley.  When water is added, the gluten helps the grain form a sticky consistency and gives dough elasticity.  I like bread, I bake breads, so that’s good, right?

No, not so good for those who have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy; and the main culprits are those two proteins, glutenin and gliadin.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease; the gluten is an invader that must be destroyed, but the immune system also targets the lining of the stomach.  Symptoms of this disease are almost the same for those with gluten sensitivity and IBS, so a blood test will be a necessary test; if inconclusive, a biopsy of the stomach lining may be necessary as well.  The most common symptoms of Celiac disease are digestive discomfort, tissue damage in the small intestines, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, tiredness, skin rashes, depression, weight loss and foul-smelling feces. More bad news though, some people don’t show the digestive symptoms, but only show typical signs of anemia; a blood test will hopefully give the truth of it all.

With the huge out-cry came more labeling on all food packaging and cookbooks galore from cooks, chefs, bakers the world over.  With it also came the celebrity push, you know how it goes.  A stream of celebrities suddenly decide to go gluten free; Zooey Deschanel, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry are allergic; Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Keith Olbermann have Celiac disease.  Others, however, are on the train of, “It just makes me feel healthier, that’s all.” and when a celebrity says that, suddenly their fans have to jump on that train.  Will going gluten free make anyone healthier?  Sure it will, breads and grains are known for putting on weight, and being carb central, are extremely bad for those who are diabetic.

So, it’s no wonder I decided to play with a gluten free recipe for chocolate cookies.  I have to say I take a little exception at the name of the cookies, “Chewy Chocolate-Coconut Cookies”.  Yes, they’re full of chocolate, but coconut?  The gluten free flour used is coconut flour, but I wouldn’t put it in the name of the recipe.  That’s like baking up cookies using regular white flour and putting that fact into the recipe name.  I followed the recipe as written, but then went two steps better; switching out regular sugar with coconut sugar, then also rolling the cookie dough into flaked coconut.  Now that’s what I call chocolate-coconut!

First I’ll give the recipe as is, then list the changes I made for the other two batches I made.  The recipe came from Savory Magazine (page 75 - January 2018), put out by Giant Food Stores.  I gave samples to my coworkers at Canyon Country Discovery Center, located at the northern end of Monticello, Utah.  I got a rousing approval from all who tried the three types I baked up.  Even my hubby enjoyed them, and this from a man who keeps telling me he doesn’t like chocolate!

Chewy Chocolate – Coconut Cookies


4 Tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 Tbsp. coconut flour
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Coconut Sugar vs. White Sugar


Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350F.

Step 2 – In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt until creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, mix until smooth.  Add the coconut flour and mix until combined (if batter seems runny, add 1 more Tbsp. coconut flour).  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Step 3 – Using a tablespoon or mini cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Gently press the cookies to flatten slightly.

Step 4 – Bake 12-14 minutes, until set around the edges.  Cool on baking sheets on wire rack.


Living at a high altitude, adding the extra tablespoon of coconut flour was necessary.
I let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets, but then removed them to baking racks.

Second batch of dough; switch out regular white sugar with same amount of coconut sugar.  Coconut sugar looks similar to brown sugar, but has a lower glycemic index than white or brown sugar.

Third batch of dough; again, use coconut sugar, but roll each tablespoon of dough in coconut flakes.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Plums, Prunes and the Pioneers.

Being a pioneer in the 1800s, the work was long and hard; what better way to fuel up than by eating dried fruit?  Prunes, now don’t go making that pruney face yourself; are simply plums that have been dehydrated.  According to The Old West Baking Book by Lon Walters, “records from old supply houses indicated prunes were used throughout the area.  Pound for pound they were high in nutrients, low in cost and kept well.” (page 140)

In Utah, there are two major types of plum trees, the first is Potawatomi plums.  The trees were planted and grown along natural waterways, canals and ditch banks by Utah Mormon pioneer settlers.  Prunus americana, commonly called the American plum, wild plum, or Marshall's large yellow sweet plum, is known by most Utahns as the Potawatomi plum.  It can be seen planted in the historic orchard groves of Fruita, Utah, within Capitol Reef National Park.

Secondly, and commonly seen in San Juan County yards and gardens is the Purple Pershore.   There are three distinct varieties of Pershore Plum (Prunus domestica): the Pershore Yellow Egg, Purple Pershore and Pershore Emblem.  The Yellow Egg variety whose seedling was discovered in the ancient Tiddesley wood, Worcestershire, England was developed and named in 1871. The Purple variety is a cross between the Yellow Plum and a similar seedling.  It was originally called Martin’s seedling around 1890, but became more widely known as the Purple Pershore. The Pershore plums have many culinary uses such as jams, chutneys, added to cheeses and sausages, used to make puddings as well as the drink Plum Jerkum.

Within the pages of Utah State Fare – A Centennial Recipe Collection by Paula Julander and Joanne Milner, there is a recipe for Plymouth Prune Cake (page 125).  I found the first step of the preparation rather interesting.  “Chop prunes and place in a small saucepan with 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil…” basically this is reconstituting the prunes into plums; or re-adding the water back into the fruit.  Which got me to thinking about several cans of plums that I had been given.  Oh, I am getting very used to folks leaving anonymous bags or boxes of food items at my door with a simple note of, “Here, see what you can do with this.”  I chuckle as I consider this a challenge of sorts.  Anyway, back to the plums; if the recipe calls for reconstituting the prunes, why not just use plums from the getgo? 

I made a couple of other changes such as using three 8” x 3.75” loaf pans instead of one 9” x 13” pan, and added an extra ½ cup of flour to adjust for high altitude baking.  To gussy up the cake when serving, I put a dollop of whipped cream on the side with a sprinkle of walnuts; it did the trick!  The overall texture of the batter is similar to gingerbread, thick and firm, until the plums and juice were added, then it loosened to a pouring consistency.  The smell of cinnamon and cloves permeated the home; the taste is similar to spice cake, but slightly milder.  This is one of those cakes that makes a cold winter day a bit more comfortable, from the inside out.

So remember, love a prune, it’s just a plum that’s been out in the sun a bit too long.

Plymouth Prune Cake
Utah State Fare – A Centennial Recipe Collection, page 125

1 cup prunes (or 1 (15 oz.) can plums
1 cup water
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 cups flour (plus ½ cup for higher altitudes)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 cup milk


Chop prunes and place in a small saucepan with 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Strain, reserving ½ cup of juice and set aside.  (Note: if using the canned plums, you can skip the cooking part and use the juice from the can too.)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and eggs.  Mix well.  Stir or sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.  Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk (1/3 dry plus 1/3 milk).  Add chopped prunes and ½ cup reserved prune juice.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350F degrees for 30 to 35 minutes (my cakes took 50 minutes since the loaf pans were denser in batter).

Mary Cokenour

Friday, February 9, 2018

Moving to That Salsa Beat.

The very first time I ever went to a Mexican restaurant, the waiter asked, “Would you like to try our salsa?” to which I replied, “No thank you, I’m not very good at dancing.”  Fortunately the person I was dining with said yes to the request which changed the waiter’s confused expression into a smile.  Until then, the only salsa I had heard about or seen was on the dance floor, mainly at college when the Hispanic clubs put on dances.

The dance of Salsa originated around the mid-1800s, a combination of Cuban, Latin American and Caribbean dances.  It became very popular in the Latino communities of New York in the 1940s where the style of dance was hot, sultry and spicy.  Depending on which community visited, there were different dance moves and music explaining the use of the name.  Salsa, or Latin American sauce, is a mixture of different ingredients dependent upon which country visited.

When hearing the term salsa, one would immediately think of what is typically served in a Mexican restaurant; a mixture of diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and garlic.  Did you know though, that India has its own version of a salsa which is called Chutney?  A combination of fruits and/or vegetables, vinegar, spices and sugar pureed into a jam, or diced into relish form.  Whenever I go explore a large supermarket, farmers market, or even an event where food products are displayed for sale, finding new salsa or chutney to try is a must!  It’s not just the idea of finding something different to have as a snack, but the potentials in cooking up fantastic new recipes.

Of course, concocting your own types of salsa is always a fun experiment.  For example, a recipe I call “Confetti Salsa” as the diced vegetables I use are so colorful.  I actually came up with this recipe out of indignation; I was insulted by a can of “Mexicali Corn”.  I'm getting ready to make a noodle side dish to go with my seared chicken and wanted to add corn to it.  In my pantry I find a can of Mexicali corn, it has corn and diced bell peppers in it, so that would work fine.  The corn is a nice yellow color and firm; the peppers, however, have much to be desired as in "Where the heck are the diced bell peppers!?!"  They're more like flakes than actual pieces of the vegetables; there are also listed sugar and salt on the can and I'm wondering why do I need sugar in a vegetable dish?  Think about the cost too; an 11 ounce can of Mexicali corn is approximately 25 to 50 cents more in cost than a 14.5 ounce can of whole kernel corn.  Believe me, flakes of bell pepper do not justify a smaller quantity costing more; and if I want sugar and salt in my vegetables, I'll add them myself, thank you very much!

The “Confetti Salsa” I came up with looked more appetizing and the mixture of ingredients was so flavorful.  To change it up a bit, consider roasting corn on the grill, or adding black beans, for a more savory sensation.  Oh, the noodle dish?  I did away with that idea and simply served the chicken with the salsa; much tastier indeed!

Confetti Salsa


3 medium sized tomatoes, ripe and firm
1 ¼ cups whole kernel corn
1 small red onion, diced
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
¼ cup each diced red, green and orange bell peppers
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fine sea salt
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup chopped, fresh cilantro


Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out fleshy pulp and seeds; cut into strips and dice. Steam the corn over boiling water until just tender; place in refrigerator to cool. Into a medium mixing bowl, add all ingredients and gently mix. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Makes 4 cups of salsa.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Thatzza Pizza and More!

Thatzza Pizza

201 South Main Street
Monticello, UT, 84535

Phone: (435) 587-9111

Facebook Page:

Six years!  Thatzza Pizza has been open for six years in Monticello, Utah; where has the time gone?  Chatting with Linda Wigginton, owner, operator and head cook, she enthusiastically loves what she does; providing good food to her local and visiting customers.  In an area where it’s common for small businesses to come and go, Thatzza Pizza is a cornerstone of the town due to an important reason, listening to the customers.  Linda has taken to heart the likes, dislikes, praises and complaints; it’s the only way to know what is the best, how to improve, and, most important, make people happy so they will come back again.

Now, and I’ve said this before, being from New York, Brooklyn born and raised, I admit to being a pizza snob.  When I first tried the menu items at Thatzza Pizza, I judged by my New York palette and found it seriously lacking.  It’s been six years since that first try and here we were, hubby and myself, giving it another go around; so happy we did!  By the way, I don’t judge eateries by just the food; atmosphere, attitudes and behavior of the owners and staff make a huge difference as well.  Thatzza Pizza is a small shop, so it’s take out or delivery, but when you enter you are warmly greeted, questions are knowledgeably answered, and you will get exactly what you were craving.

The Pizza comes in four sizes, dough is house made and Linda admits she puts a special ingredient into the dough mixture to make it taste extra yummy.  I didn’t ask, she didn’t tell and I’m alright with that as the crust was perfectly browned on the bottom and around the edges.  The thickness is between thin and pan styles, but inside it’s similar to focaccia bread, light, airy and not doughy.  The sauce is also house made, nicely seasoned; toppings are very generous and it just made for a delicious pizza experience.

Now when it comes to Chicken Wings, I’m a deep fried fan, but I did give them a try even though they are baked in the oven; Honey BBQ and Garlic Parmesan were our choices. The sauces are not house made, but I recognize the brand Linda uses because I use it myself at home, and it is one of the best on the market.  The wings are sold by the pound, so the number you receive may differ as they are a good sized wing.  The wings were meaty, sauces infused the meat instead of just sitting on top of the skin; finger licking good!

Calzones are a big favorite with hubby and myself, so we had to try out what Thatzza Pizza offered.  The same dough is used as for the pizza, but the crust is dusted with grated Parmesan cheese.  As a piece of calzone is brought to the mouth, the scent of the cheese invades the nostrils and you know you’re about to enter food heaven.  The calzone is stuffed to the brim with ingredients; sauce, melted cheese, delicious meat; as I said, food heaven.  Linda had me fooled with the meatballs, I thought they were homemade fresh and I’ve made many a meatball in my lifetime!  “No”, she stated, “They are purchased premade.” and I told her she better stick to whatever brand she’s using as they are so close to homemade, I couldn’t tell the difference!

Now for some really great news, both the pizza and calzone passed the “cold pizza” test.  After sitting overnight in the fridge, the flavors from the house made sauce, cheeses, veggies and meat melded together.  No reheating was needed to enjoy a slice, just grab, go and eat!  Oh, the wings, those were gone in one sitting, so no leftovers to try out the next day.

Folks, if you’re in the mood for some really good food, then I recommend giving Thatzza Pizza a tryout.  Hours are Monday thru Saturday, 3pm to 9pm, located on the corner of Main Street and 200 South, just across the street from the post office parking lot.  Mangia!

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cold Enough for Soup, but Not Snow.

For San Juan and Grand Counties, snowpack on the Abajo and La Sal Mountains is extremely important during the winter months.  There is much concern that the 2017-2018 season is seeing abnormally dry conditions; drought is a high probability at this point in time.  At the same time, the temperatures are not being helpful, being just above or below the optimum point of producing snowfall.

At the same time, illnesses such as pneumonia and influenza are rearing their angry heads. Roy almost lost his own mother recently when she was hit by a double whammy, both illnesses at the same time!  Thankfully she was taken to the hospital in time and is making a full recovery, but it was touch and go for over a week. 

Ending and beginning the years with news items that are detrimental to our communities is not pleasant, but this is where strength of spirit comes in.  It’s a pulling together of all residents to take care of, not just immediate family, but friends, neighbors and, yes, even strangers just moving into the area.  It’s a testament to the pioneer character; stand strong together in the face of adversity.  So, to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, focus on the positive and watch the miracles appear!

…and on that note, let’s talk soup and the comfort it can bring.  Oh come now, I don’t know of anyone who, no matter how down he/she may feel, doesn’t get a soothing smile on the face after diving (not literally please) into a bowl of soup.  Every family has their own special recipe, a soup they swear by as the perfect fix for “whatever ails you”.  That soup for the Cokenour clan is Potato Leek, a creamy concoction of leeks and potatoes pureed into luscious goodness.  While we enjoy the version that has butter and cream added for a rich, silky texture; it can be made without these two decadent ingredients.  Great news for those who do not do well with dairy products, but still want that creamy comfort.

While leeks are primarily used in soups, this relative to the onion, and asparagus, is more versatile than one might think. Due to its mild onion flavor, a leek can be substituted for a regular onion; cutting it will not irritate the eyes either.  Leeks have a small bulb end; and the tastiest part is the white part which grows deep in the ground, and away from the sun's rays. The green upper part is very fibrous, and used for making stock; or thrown into the compost pile. Growing in the ground has the disadvantage of having dirt caked in between the many layers of the leek, so it needs to be thoroughly washed before use. The best way to do this is to cut the white part either into circular sections, or cutting it up into pieces, placing it all in a colander and washing under cool water.  The pieces can then be used in soups, quiches, casseroles, side dishes; anything an onion can be used for, but without the tears!  Sautéed in butter or olive oil, they turn translucent and release a pleasant onion scent that is easy on the nose, and most especially, the eyes.

Potato Leek Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
4 leeks, white part only,
1 lb. potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet), peeled and cubed
1 qt. chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup cold water
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
Optional: favorite herb for garnish


Cut leeks into ½ inch pieces, put into a colander, wash thoroughly with cold water to remove grit.  In a large stock/soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Sauté leeks until tender, approx. 10-15 minutes.  Add potatoes, stock, water, black pepper; bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low.

Cover pot and let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.  If using a hand-held blender, puree the soup in the pot until smooth.  Otherwise, transfer the mixture, in batches, to a standard blender; puree until smooth.  Return soup to the pot.

On low heat, stir the cream into the soup mixture.  Let the soup come up to a hot temperature, but do NOT bring to a boil.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with favorite herb (thyme, parsley, chives, etc.) if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

As promised, here is a recipe for Potato Leek Soup, but dairy free.  I got this Weight Watchers recipe from my niece, Donna, who is a RN and resides on Long Island in New York State.  After printing out a copy of the Weight Watchers recipe, I compared it to my Potato Leek Soup recipe; pretty similar in nature. I cooked up a pot of this recipe, but added crushed, dried thyme instead of using the chives as they suggested. Wow, was pretty amazed at how good it came out; not as creamy, but it was still thick and rich tasting; the thyme added a pleasant savory flavor. Serving it to my hubby, he too was amazed at how good this non-dairy version was; he equated the texture to cream of wheat, but still enjoyed it...two bowls worth in one sitting.  Donna suggested that I mix in a little low fat or fat free sour cream if we missed the dairy; tried it and didn't care for it at all.

Weight Watchers Potato Leek Soup


64 oz. canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
8 medium uncooked potatoes, peeled 
3 medium uncooked leeks, cleaned 
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbsp. chives, minced (optional)


To clean the leeks, slice them lengthwise and then cut into one inch pieces. Put the pieces into a large colander, rinse with cold water until you can no longer see any dirt; separate the pieces as you rinse them.  Let them stand a few minutes to allow excess water to drain out.

Peel the potatoes and cut them one inch in size; they will cook together more uniformly with the leeks.  Yukon Gold potatoes are yellow in coloring and have a buttery taste; perfect for a soup that usually has butter in it, but is now being cooked without it.

Combine the broth, potatoes, leeks, pepper and herb, if using any, in a large stock pot or Dutch oven; bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and let cool slightly.

Puree at least 2 cups or up to all of the potatoes and leeks (depending on the texture you want), with 1–2 cups of the broth in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender; pour the mixture back into the remaining soup, stir, and reheat. Serve hot, or cover and refrigerate to serve cold; hot or cold, garnish with the minced chives, if using.

Yields 1 and 1/2 cups per serving.

This soup can be completely or partially pureed and served hot or cold. It can be refrigerated for up to three days, but not frozen.

Try out both recipes and see which you enjoy the best, but most of all, have a positive and happy new year!

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Finding Your Connection in 2018.

“Mary, you are one of the most honest people I’ve ever met, and I admire that about you; but honest to a fault.  Living in San Juan County, especially Monticello, that part of your personality will earn you hardships, many you do not deserve.  However, I don’t want you to change, you are not the one that needs to change; the others need to change, start listening and doing.” This was said to me by a man who only lived in Monticello a short time, but was happy as a pig in a mud hole to move away to a more populated area of Utah.

With that I looked back at my life, not just in 2017, but in general and realized that I have changed many times, mainly to make others happy.  From an early age, I relished the thought of visiting museums, discovering the scientific worlds of archaeology, anthropology and paleontology.  In college, I took several of these courses and was at the New York Museum of Natural History (yes, the one from the Ben Stiller movies) so much, all the guards knew me by name.  However, I ended up putting these loves on the shelf, listening to advisors that said there was no money in these careers, no real future for a woman.  I dragged myself through jobs I hated, stayed in an abusive marriage as others kept telling me, “You’ll never do better.”  I figured, if everyone I knew was telling me this, then it must be true, right?

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I developed friendships with people who supported me mentally and emotionally.  I divorced the s.o.b., met my current husband, Roy, and even he too kept telling me, “Be who and what you want to be; don’t do things to make me, or anyone else happy.”  With our move to Utah, our adventuring around the 4 Corners region of the four states, I was able to enjoy those lost loves from my younger years.  That crazy woman jumping up and down on slickrock, off State Highway 95, near White Canyon?  Yeah, that was me as I just found dinosaur prints, put my foot next to one and imagined what creature, from millions of years ago, I was communing with.

In essence, what I am trying to communicate to everyone is, have hopes and dreams, hold onto them tightly, and get them done!  Don’t listen to naysayers and simply do as they say, put them on the spot and ask them “Why?  Why don’t you want me to pursue what will make me happy?  Why does it have to be only your way when I know you’ve never tried to do it yourself?”

Need a little inspiration?  Watch the original Muppet Movie (1979), about a little frog that had big dreams and pursued them no matter what.  Listen to the words he sings in “Rainbow Connection” and realize,

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.”

Oh, I know I usually have a recipe for you, but I remember when a rainbow went over a particular ridge.  I want to climb that ridge and see “what’s on the other side?”  However, if you really need a recipe, go into the San Juan Record archives and reread my article on “Frog Eye Salad”, sort of fits the theme, doesn’t it?  Otherwise, you can find the link for the recipe right here on this food blog:  In 2018, find your rainbow connection and from the Cokenour family, Happy New Year!

Mary Cokenour