Tuesday, February 24, 2015


What could be more savory than our warm turkey eggplant casserole on a wintry evening? This family pleaser is only 7 points per serving. Abigail Parsons, of Bewelle, Illinois says:” I make a double portion every Sunday, and freeze servings for meals during the week.”

Ingredients: (makes eight ¾ cup servings)

1 16-oz can of diced tomatoes   
½ onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 tsp basil
1 cup grated lo-fat mozzarella
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 medium sized eggplant
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 cup mushrooms


1 Sauté the crushed garlic and diced onions in a heavy skillet (in 2 TBSP of olive oil). Be sure to use a low heat and coax rather than bully the onions to turn translucent. That is the secret of using onions to flavor rather than dominate a dish.

2 While the onions are slowly cooking, go ahead and dice eggplant, peppers, and mushrooms. Cut in small pieces or they will not soften enough so you will taste that acidy pepper taste and have trouble digesting the skins and you will have to use some of your husband’s Prilosec after dinner though you’re supposed to take it before you eat but you never know whether a dish is going to cause indigestion or not, depending.

3 Add the ground turkey (I forgot it in the list of ingredients but so what? I can’t do everything around here. I do enough as it is. Anybody should guess from the title you need turkey anyway. I’m so sick of people asking me to think for them.)

4 Add basil, canned tomatoes, diced vegetables, bread crumbs and simmer, stirring often. Be careful not to spill any pieces over the edge of the skillet. For this recipe I use a large sized cast iron frying pan but who knows what size peppers they grow in Illinois, b/c they’re getting larger every year, probably genetically altered. Like every fucking other thing in the store and we wonder why so many people get cancer.

5 If the ingredients are too dry, add a little chicken broth. Whoever recommended that amount of bread crumbs I don’t know if they were kidding. The vegg are going to get onto the stove top, spilling over top of the skillet. If you have just cleaned the mouse turds off the stove top, make sure that you are the one cleaning the kitchen after dinner b/c if your husband does it he will not see the bitty pieces and you’re going to have little black droppings in the morning for sure and that’s a nasty sight, esp when a stove is white like ours.

6 Put aluminum foil over the whole thing and place in center of oven, bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. I forgot to write down 350 too but anybody who cooks knows  this is standard temperature for a casserole. Abigail Parsons would know, Abigail and her neat preplanning and portions, one of those kinds of people who’s organized every minute thing in her life. Sounds like she’s a career person. If it’s so hard to cook at night after being on her feet all day, why the heck doesn’t her husband pitch and do it once in a while? Too busy vegging out in front of the TV while Abigail heats up one of her frozen casseroles. Or maybe she’s all alone, and lonely, watching the news, eating her casserole portion on a little TV tray. Both scenarios pathetic.

7 After allotted cooking time, take the foil off the pan, and sprinkle the mozzarella over top of the casserole. Dump on the whole package, who cares about points, if it doesn’t get thick and stringy, it’s just not good. Put the skillet back in the oven and bake another fifteen minutes. If the timer on the oven cannot be heard in the den above the sound of the TV, use the clock timer with the broken face from when you dropped it two Christmases ago, you can carry it into the den. It is good and loud. Forget saving the foil to use again, unless you want to spend the time scraping off veggie matter so as not to tear the foil, a task requiring a lot of concentration and patience. And who can recycle everything anyway. The kids used disposable Pampers back in the 70s. I’m already going to consumer hell, and I know it.

8 Once the melted cheese is browned, remove casserole from oven. Let cool for five or ten minutes before eating.

Serve with crispy buttery garlic bread. Try to make this dish last for more than one meal, but nobody’s perfect.  Depending on how cold it is outside or how many days you have been snow bound, this dish is greatly accented by a dessert of hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream, covered with a touch of chocolate sauce and a handful of peanuts.

Note: Don’t forget to turn off the oven. Who can afford to waste Propane?

(copyright Cathy Larson Sky 2/24/2015)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More Blesséd: A Christmas Memory

Instead of a steeple, the roof had a sculpted hand with a finger pointing up to God. That was just one reason I found our church creepy, why I dreaded dressing up to go there that Christmas Eve. The old organ wheezed beyond closed doors, cuffed my ears with fearsome groans when ushers admitted us.

I held on to my mother’s hand. Everything was dim, the red carpet under our feet almost invisible. One wrong step might swallow you. My family eased into a pew, my sister and I last, closest to the aisle. Mom had a paper bag; inside were two wrapped boxes, presents for unnamed poor families.

I had to crane my neck to see down the aisle to the tree standing on the altar. It wasn’t a pretty one. Its colored bulbs were sparse. After the pastor had everybody pray and lit the worship candles, things looked warmer. All the Sunday School classes were going to take turns delivering gifts to the Christ child, a swaddled baby doll in a cradle waiting on the altar steps. 

During the second verse of Silent Night I joined the first graders emanating like ghosts from dark pews. We bumbled to the tree, knocking shoulders, where some helpful Mom with a holly corsage took our gifts and arranged them by the cradle. Most of the presents looked the same, down to the wrapping paper that was on sale at the A&P: poinsettia, candy cane, or reindeer print. Among the modest gifts, though, was a large one with a fancy red bow. Its wrapping glittered like tinsel. All of us saw it and pretended we didn’t.

When it was kindergarteners’ turn to go up, they went one by one. Some had to have a parent go with them, some didn’t. We were on the last verse of Little Town of Bethlehem when Marilyn Lynell started up the aisle on her own. She was a round child, big for her age, with a dumpling face and pale eyes. Her looks mirrored her thin-haired, thick bodied father’s. He sang a sonorous bass in the choir. 

Marilyn’s short pinafores always hiked up in the back, showing the creases of her stout pink knees. That night her sash dangled awry as she made her halting way up to baby Jesus. The box she carried must have held a man’s tie: small, flat, easy to carry. Still, not a mother in the congregation wasn’t holding her breath, watching Marilyn’s unsteady progress. The verse ended, and I saw the corsage mom at the altar kneel down to help Marilyn settle her gift among the others. Then the organist fired up O Holy Night.

Underneath the singing I started to hear a sort of twitter. I strained to see. Marilyn was coming back down the aisle and as she went, the people behind her rustled like a sudden wind. Marilyn was not returning to her seat empty-handed. Cheeks crimson, eyes glazed, she carried, in her passionate, plump embrace, a box big as her head: the glittery, red-bowed present. 

(copyright Cathy Larson Sky 2014)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


At dawn one August morning in 1966, I stood beside my aunt Margaret on the deck of a small ship called the Elli, entranced by my first glimpse of Mykonos harbor. We would soon enter the harbor's two-armed embrace, sheltered between its long stone jetties. I was a troubled seventeen and Margaret, artist, painter, mentor, offered to bring me to her home in the Cyclades Islands when I decided not to go to college after graduation. Under her tutelage I read Eastern philosophy, practiced Gestalt therapy, read Russian novels, Hesiod, Homer, Beckett, kept a sketchbook, fell in love with Vivaldi and the power of long walks -- when we were not in the sea, or adopting stray cats. In honor of Margaret, who is now 89 and fiercely battling cancer since this May, I want to share this poem, by C.P. Cavafy, tucking some pictures of her between the text. Margaret, the seas are rough just now. I know you will reach Ithaka. Again. (Watercolor above, by me, 1972 home-made calendar.)


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at
Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. 

 About the author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_P._Cavafy

(note: if you ordered my poetry chapbook and haven't received it yet, e-mail me at cathylarsonsky@hotmail.com)


Tuesday, April 15, 2014


They're calling it a pink moon, then a red moon! At any rate, April's full moon is here. There was a lunar eclipse, and I felt it, did you? Last night I felt like an unstuffed Teddy bear. I read a horoscope that called it a meltdown; not to worry because we would reboot and have fresh energy and ideas in the morning. It happened; here is the result:

 Thanks to computers, scanners, and Adobe Photoshop, I am able to share some of my journal art, dating back as far as the 1970s. I grew up always sketching, using color pens and watercolors, felt tip pens. Lately I've let my visual art skills slide and devoted myself to writing. The picture above is the March picture from a home made calendar I gave my parents for Christmas in 1972.

Here is the April image. I was carrying my daughter Zoe at the time, and these pictures seem so full of the anticipation of new life.


This watercolor is from my journal in 1977, when I worked as a preschool teacher at the Narragansett Parents' Cooperative School, in Narragansett, RI. Matthew and David had scurried to the top of a weeping willow tree during a walk, and perched there like birds. How we got them down, I don't recall.

1977 was also a time I was reading works by Rudolph Steiner, especially his theories of curative education for young children. His beliefs about the link between musical notes and colors lead me to this experiment, a free-association with water color, listening to a piano recording of Keith Jarret.

Before I close, here's a real life picture of the back yard weeping cherry tree a few days ago.
Its blossoms have been falling like pink and white snow for the past few days and now it is mostly just pale green. It IS still a beautiful world, isn't it? Despite its troubles.

 (All artwork and photos copyright Cathy Larson Sky, April 15, 2014)


Monday, March 31, 2014


It's been a long winter. Pat and I are wearing our Mama and Papa Bear physiques. (A nurse's aide told me "It's a mountain thang.") We have eaten well on these cold nights, and when the snow was at its worst, dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna filled the bill. I thought I would share a poem from my soon-to-be-published chapbook Blue egg, my heart, on the subject of Italian food because (1) It's one of the lighter poems, (2) I still need to drum up a bunch more pre-orders before April 15, and (3) I get to use cool clip art on this blog; most poetry presses frown on illustrations, unless you're A.A. Milne or Doctor Seuss.


a pantoum in honor of the Casa Sorelle (house of the sisters), 1970s Italian eating place in Providence, RI


Garlic, you have a bulbous end

like the rumps of the sisters at Casa Sorelle

and your neck is thin as the small skinny chef

who minded their gravy and seasoned it well.

Like the broad hips of ladies at Casa Sorelle,

you are the essence of well-loved cuisine:

Bolognese, marinara, simmering sauces, 

O essential ingredient in every tureen.

You’re the touchstone of memory, well-loved cuisine:

like Chianti, checked table cloths, Hope Street in fall,

where, appetite whetted by fragrances keen,

I waited to savor the thrill of it all --

It was there at the Casa on Hope Street in fall,

that I learned to mop sauce with fresh ciabatta

and drank wine and enchantment at family tables:

Saccocia, Ligouri, Ianucci, Lamotta.

I wiped my plate clean with some crisp ciabatta

far from Wonder Bread, Skippy (those ghosts of my youth).

Alfredo, Al dente, Pomidori, Ricotta --

my rescue from WASP foods, educated my mouth.

Far from Jello molds, hot dogs, and canned lima beans,

a menu of passionate choices is mine,

informed by your wisdom, so ancient and deep,

small cloves in a bundle, seasoning divine.  

 A palette of flavors grows sweeter with thyme

like the sisters and chef at the Casa Sorelle:

robust and steady grace notes in the wine

round at the bottom, sound as a bell.

copyright cathy larson sky, 2014

(Instructions on how to order the chapbook are in the McCotta's Blog entry for last month. Thanks from the bottom of my heart if you have already pre-ordered; it makes all the difference as far as demonstrating a readership to my publisher, Finishing Line Press.) 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


It has happened! Finishing Line Press "is proud to present" my chapbook, a book of 22 poems. They sent me an e-mail asking to publish it on the eve of my 65th birthday. It is good to be blooming, even if I am a late bloomer. I am over the moon that my artist/fiddler friend Lillie Hardy Morris has permitted me to use one of her paintings for the cover. Some of you may have met Lilly at pipers' gatherings and Irish music camps, or in Ireland at a pub session. Glimpse her beautiful work here: http://www.lilliemorrisfineart.com

 Finishing Line is a small Kentucky press that is a great outlet for emerging poets. I am expected, as a new author, to help advertise advance sales so they can determine Blue egg's press run. (Expected release date is this June.) Below are some nice things that writers I respect and admire have said about the chapbook, and a sample poem, followed by info about how to pre-order a copy of Blue egg, my heart.

From Pat Riviere-Seel, author of The Serial Killer's Daughter and Nothing Below but Air:

Crack open the pages of "Blue egg, my heart," and you will find poems that sing of loss, longing, family, friends, and, ultimately, redemption . . . These poems are full of awe, and yes, they are thrilling. So come, break into these poems, and enjoy the music from a talented poet.

From Earl LeClaire, poet and raconteur, author of Below the Mayonnaise Factory and Epiphanies and Benedictions:

Cathy Larson Sky's poetry, like her music, is by turns stunning, disquieting, melodic, and memorable. It is survival poetry edged with anger and conflict but always steeped in a search for a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the heart and leads us, finally, to love.


for gentleman piper Lt. Col.Edward Riley Harrison

It started with blackbirds in the yard–
a loud flapping crowd. Captive
between two invisible walls,
they fled back and forth.

The sight raked my heart
along with the phone call:
your long suffering, over.

At graveside, rifle shots
jack hammered the air.

Soldiers unfolded the stars
and stripes; its fabric quivered,
new oak leaves stirred.

A sergeant lowered the folded flag
into your widow’s arms, backed
away slowly, holding her gaze.

Bright mornings, grey afternoons
I seldom left the couch, watching hummingbirds’
bold passes at the feeder, their quick retreats.
Fat grey doves pecked at ground-seed,
cardinals lit: crimson lord, dun lady.

The lone bunting was among them one day
and after: indigo-flash, metallic, defiant.
A blue I know from oceans.

He dined humbly with the others,
neither strange nor exotic
except when I close my eyes today
and remember he was there.

About ordering online: Go to www.finishinglinepress.com. On the right you will see a box labeled Categories. You will find the heading: "Preorder Forthcoming Titles." Scroll down, and you will probably recognize the blue cover right away. Click and and pay with credit card.

If you would prefer to pay by check or money order (14$ for the book plus 2.99 postage = 16.99) send it, with your request for Blue egg, my heart to:

Finishing Line Press
PO Box 1626
Georgetown, KY  40324
(for any problems ordering, write to: FLPBookstore@aol.com

Some of you are going to receive post cards from Finishing Line, too. Maybe you'll want to display Lillie's graphic on your fridge gallery. Before I forget, Finishing Line takes orders from the USA only.

Best wishes for a flowering, abundant spring, all the more lovely because of the hard winter we've endured.
With Love, Cathy

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


(Sing to the tune of My Favorite Things)

Bluebirds and seashells from far away beaches

Hearts made of glass and some mythical creatures

 Two little gnomes with their Day-glo coiffures;

Green and blue bottles, of course, de rigeure.


Miniature fiddle in miniature case lives

Bright Russian dolls with their painted-on faces

Mary and Buddha belong to the crew

There’s really nothing wee altars can’t do.

Tears can loom when

Life goes boom and

Colors fade to grey.

Small kingdoms so near

Chase away doubt and fear

And send all my blues a-way.

This is fun and easy; you make up some verses, too. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

(pix and verse copyright cathy larson sky)