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Greetings from Sacramento! I see that it’s been a whopping 365 days since I last wrote, and I’ve been feeling increasingly the need to close that gap. I’ve missed you all.

To casually say “a lot’s happened in the past year” is an understatement for all of us. Part of my dragging my feet in starting up with the blog again was this sense that I could neither undertake commenting on the news or not commenting on it. Well, I am officially moving beyond that impasse and will offer a personal post away from the national stage of intense happenings, as a retreat both for myself and any readers that happen by.

It’s strangely fitting that the topic of my last post on October 27, 2019 was about bugout bags and  preparing emergency supplies for the number of environmental disasters that can hit us here in California, especially in our hottest months, or ‘fire season.’ A prolonged, personal state of emergency began for me and my family just three days after I wrote it, when my husband’s health failed and we brought him to the Emergency Room where he was admitted to the ICU. Those of you who know us already know that Chris died in early December.

I am not going to go into a lot of details and make this a maudlin entry or I would postpone writing that forever; but I knew that it was important to me to mention the tilting of my world on its axis just a scant couple of months ahead of everyone else’s world tilting on its axis. Chris was my editor and supporter since I started this blog and it does sting, of course, to know that this will be the first of my meliovore posts that he won’t be reading. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities we had to be together, and have felt empathetic pangs for those who have had to go through the crushing losses of loved ones with the added, inconceivable layer of being barred from their hospital rooms. That’s got to be beyond brutal, and I don’t try to imagine it.

The lockdown complicated a necessary drive to relocate from San Francisco, but it ultimately went smoothly and has worked out fine. Though I hadn’t spent much time in Sacramento, other than downtown’s J-Street or the Capital Mall over a number of single day or overnight business visits, I was very pleased to discover so much more beyond that as I popped up on *very hot* summer days to look at places to live. I’m smitten with the lovely and very livable place I now call home. I always enjoy exploring new places, and it’s been very easy to get around and feel at home in Sacramento. The pleasant people, mellow traffic, the sunshine, the stellar-so-far Mexican food options. (It’s very possible that I’m getting a skewed perspective because of the pandemic lockdown, but I’ll take it. The landscape reminds me some of LA when I first moved there in the ‘80’s. The LA I knew then had a gracious- and spaciousness about it. Room and opportunity for everybody.)

Sacramento is a town that really reveres its trees. Having an old growth tree on your property is clearly a status symbol. Streets near me have islands of old oak trees with their own medians, apparently to leave them undisturbed. I’ve had to pull out my field guides because the apartment complex I am living in has at least 20 different varieties of trees, and I’ve needed to put names to them. Outside my window are a couple of sycamores, and what I thought was a willow tree is actually a quaking aspen. It’s very windy today and the wind through them is making a pretty, autumnal sound. East Coast-y, to my ears.

Cutting to the chase, let me leave you with a lovely and novel snack recipe for those days when the sameness of your options may get to you, and you feel like indulging your curiosity and craving for the savory. As the title of the post suggests, the recipe is for Stir-fried Cheerio’s. As far as I can tell, Chris invented them. He was ever the creative cook and I’ve never seen or heard of them anywhere else. It’s possible someone else has had a parallel idea. I’m guessing their origins are rooted in Chex Mix but these are a quick’n’dirty version. He would make them for a late-night snack, usually to accompany a late night television show. My daughter and I would get a little pouty if he wouldn’t save us any, so he would occasionally favor us with our own batches that would be waiting in our flat, blue enamel bowl the next morning.

I presented my first attempt at replicating them to Lydia one fitful afternoon about a month into the quarantine, saying, “I’m not sure whether I made stir-fried cheerios or not–” but she assured me, with much satisfaction, that I had. I’m pleased to be able to pass them on to you, and post the recipe here for posterity.

STIR-FRIED CHEERIOS

You will need:

  • 3 cups cheerios
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1.5 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (Don’t use low sodium version, and don’t omit)
  • ½ tsp. seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
  • ½ tsp. ancho chili powder
  • Dash or two of salt, and garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup Grated parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce and spices to the butter and stir until blended. Add the Cheerios and gently toss them in the spiced butter until all 3 cups are coated. Continue cooking and toasting them over the heat until the Cheerios have absorbed the excess moisture and take on a darker color 3-4 minutes. Pour them into a shallow pan – a Pyrex pie pan would work well. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and eat right away.

In case there are any leftovers, cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap. I found that putting leftovers in a sealed Tupperware kind of container makes them soggy and inedible the next day. Probably they were still too warm when I sealed them up. The snack lesson for us then is, carpe diem.

Be well, and stay safe, everyone. I will try not to take so long before writing again. – Love, Janice