Ray’s Recipe: Roasted Asparagus

Ray’s Recipe

Roasted Asparagus

As a Grieving Guy who lives alone, I had to learn how to cook healthy meals if I wanted to stay healthy. I love asparagus. I don’t like it steamed. I don’t like it soft. I like it a bit on the crunchy side. My problem with asparagus is that I like it a lot, so I roast all of it. Usually, I take no prisoners, if you know what I mean. My dad used to say, “Ray, you belong to the clean plate club,” when I was very young.
I use a large rectangular baking pan to roast my asparagus. To make it easier, I get the aluminum foil that doesn’t need any spray. I like to make it as easy on myself as possible. I cut off the ends of the asparagus and lay them out next to each other. I place them close to each other. I don’t think asparagus can get claustrophobic. Once I have them lined up, I baste them with EVOO.
One of the gifts of living in south Texas is that rosemary grows year-round. I have three rosemary bushes. I went into the backyard and snipped two large sprigs of rosemary. Love the smell and taste of it. I rinsed it off, and use my cooking scissors to let it fall like snow on the EVOO covered asparagus.

I turn the oven on to 4500 and let it heat up. I sprinkle crushed red pepper on it since I like to kick it up a notch. Once the oven reaches its temperature, I slide the asparagus in and set my iPhone timer for ten minutes. In the meantime, I get a pair of tongs and set them aside so I can test the asparagus. While the asparagus is cooking, I grate parmesan origiano. I’ll sprinkle some on the top of the asparagus and slide the pan back in the oven for two minutes to melt the cheese.
I must mention, I snagged a piece and ate it before I put it back in the oven. What’s a guy to do, right?
The finished product – I’m not too artistic, no A for presentation. It was very good.

Healthy Habits

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer

I think habits are a good thing, at least for me. I’m not talking about my coffee habit. I do like the first cup of coffee, and the second cup even better. I’m thinking about the habits that help me to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My habits help me to keep my balance. I share three habits that help me to grow in a healthy direction during the grieving process.
Habit 1. My Get Up and Go Habit. I’m not one to sleep in. I’m ready to take on the day by 5:30 a.m.

  1. I make the bed, no wrinkles. It’s neat.
  2. I exercise – I do stretching exercises, core exercises, and pushups. When I finish, I feel good and think about my coffee.
  3. Before I have my coffee, I brush and floss, shave, and shower.
  4.  And, before I eat breakfast or have my coffee, Isend a video text my daughters.
This habit gets me emotionally ready for the day. It connects me with family. It makes me feel good about myself. It’s a great start to the day.
Habit 2. I go to the Y each day to exercise. I work the elliptical machine for nearly an hour. I’m hoping to wear it out before it wears me out. I know keeping my body in shape contributes to good health. And, it helps keep any stress under control.
Habit 3. Prayer. I don’t know how I would make it without prayer. Babe and I always prayed together. Even during the times when Babe struggled and died when I was angry, very angry with God, I prayed. My prayers were not filled with gratitude, as they are these days. I need prayer as much as I need oxygen to breath.
I like the quote by Parker Palmer because life is a gift. It is nothing I earned. I want to use this wonderful gift to be a benefit and a blessing to others. I’m not done yet, I intend using my wonderful gift.  
What healthy habits do you have to keep your life in balance?

I’m Learning To Sail My Ship

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.– Louisa May Alcott

It’s not easy to learn to sail a ship I’ve never sailed before. I know my ship was built for open water, to sail the seas. I will cast off from my safe harbor and venture into unknown waters trusting the good Lord and His Holy Spirit to guide me.

For a grieving guy, setting sail for me means to face head on all the difficult things I want to avoid. I want to face them without flinching, complaining, or passing them off. I want to own them. I want to taste the emotions that come with facing them. I think this is the way I will grow stronger and more confident.

One of the challenges for me is to cook. I never cooked before (I don’t count the stuff on the grill that I thought was cooking). I liked to lick the batter bowl when the kids were younger. I liked to sneak a bite or two of a meal before it was served. Now, I cook for one (I still sneak a bite before it hits the table). I want to cook healthy meals. The other night I made roasted asparagus. I did a pretty fair job. Granted, I roasted enough asparagus for more than one. I’m still figuring that part out. I saved a portion to go with a quinoa salad the next night. You’ll see rosemary (a blessing from living in south Texas) and parmesian oregeano grated on top of the asparagus (see the photo). I’m not ready for the Food Channel. I’m convinced the more I do for myself, the more I heal. I’ve always been proactive. I should add when I finished with the asparagus, I turned to a photo of Babe and said, “I bet you’re proud of me.”

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Choose Life

Life is a precious gift. I always knew it was a gift, one to which I was not entitled, in an intellectual sort of way. When Babe died after being diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma my view of life as a gift moved from my head to my heart. I began to see each moment as a gift. I came to a crossroad where I could choose to embrace this gift or to wallow in self-pity, angry Babe’s gift was taken away.
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We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell

It’s not easy to embrace the gift when love was snatched away.
It’s not easy to hit a new, steep learning curve.
It’s not easy to wrestle with memories cause by a song, smell, sight, or word.
It’s not easy to live in a beautiful city when your five daughters are spread throughout the country, but none close by.
It’s not easy to choose to live life as an incredible gift, but it is my only choice.

So, I am going to smile and say, “it’s a great day to be alive” – because it is. I am going to extend my hand and introduce myself and say, “Hi, my name is Ray, what’s yours?” I am going to give thanks to God for Babe’s life for each moment we shared. I am going to be grateful for each drop of love that falls upon me (I am drenched by the outpouring of love from neighbors, strangers, parishioners, and baristas at Starbucks).

Yes, life is good. Life is a gift. I am grateful. CHEERS TO YOU!


Pick Up Your Mat and Walk

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” (Jn 5:8-9). It is the only way I’ve found to walk through my grieving process. I grieve the loss of my soulmate, best friend, and wife, Babe. It’s been 221 days since Babe died and it still hurts like hell. I am learning to live an emotionally healthy and normal life. It’s slow progress. I’m determined to prove grieving and suffering do not have the last word. I’ve made friends with grieving and suffering. I don’t think either one will ever leave me. They’ve taught me and are teaching me many important life lessons I would not have otherwise learned. I am now a good cook. I cook all my meals, except for the occasional night out with friends. I cook healthy meals. In future posts, I will share my recipes. I clean house, do laundry, and take care of the yard. Today I ironed a couple of shirts. I’m an optimist. I’m hopeful and hope-filled. I’ve always believed today will be a good day and tomorrow to be even better. I do my best to live that philosophy.  I attribute the progress I’ve made to grace. God’s gift to me to keep on living and to keep on loving. Here is a prayer I read each morning:
This Prayer Says Much About How I Feel

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