Springtime White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies with Lemon Glaze

It’s the long haul between Christmas time and Spring here, so I thought I’d make some Springtime cookies that are a bit reminiscent of Christmas.

These white chocolate cranberry gems are soft in the center with a crusty initial bite and then finished with lemon glaze for a perfect sweet zing.

Half proper shortbread cookie, half scone, these melt-in-your-mouth cookies will brighten your day.

I can feel it now – Spring is on the way!

Springtime White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Part proper shortbread cookie, part biscuit, these soft and slightly crumbly cookies are reminiscent of Christmas but finished with lemon glaze to remind us that Spring is on the way!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 24 cookies


  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • 1 sheet pan
  • Rolling Pin
  • cookie cutters 2 inch diameter


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg large
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk I use 1/8 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/8 cup water
  • 3 1/2 cups flour all purpose
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

For Lemon Icing

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • zest of one lemon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Whisk together sugar, egg, vanilla extract, canola oil, and milk.
  • In separate bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour liquid ingredients into center.
  • Stir to combine until a slightly crumbly dough forms.
  • Add cranberries and white chocolate chips. Stir until cranberries and chips are just mixed throughout.
  • Form dough into a smooth ball, adding more milk as needed.
  • Place dough onto a well-floured surface and roll out until dough is 3/4 inch in thickness.
  • Dip cookie cutter into flour to ensure cutter doesn't stick and then cut dough into cookies.
  • Place cookies onto sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden on sides and bottom. While cookies are baking, make icing.

For Lemon Icing

  • In a small bowl combine confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Whisk until smooth.
  • Once cookies are cooled, glaze with lemon icing and enjoy!

Tastes Like Home

I haven’t been posting lately. The blog makes me a bit sad, for some reason. Maybe because it’s going into ether, not sure exactly where. I’m a much better reader of others’ blogs.

I’ve been feeling fairly sad, and a bit somber, contemplative since my son moved out.

Reflecting upon the many years of raising my son alone. Single child of a single mom.

It is strange to be alone, to go into his now near-empty bedroom.

I keep the light on in there, as though he’s still here.

I’ve decided to feel all of the feelings, not to numb in any way. No wine, no booze, no over exertion, no working overtime. And it is easing – the grief.

I’m also sleeping at night. It has surprised even me. But I’ve put in place safety measures, and also, maybe I’m of an age where it just doesn’t matter that much if some danger occurs. That sounds depressive, but it’s not.

Anyway, we keep on keeping on. Grief is transient, and we live through, transition, and persevere.

I’m still cooking – mostly for one, sometimes for my folks too.

And my son has started making my and his favorite home dishes at his new home. That warms my heart. He tells me his cooking “tastes like home.”

Empty, Empty Nest

Today I will take the Christmas tree down.

Normally, I hate this task.

But this year it feels far worse.

See, today is the last day my 24-year-old son will live at home – at least if things go as “planned.”

As a single parent of a single child, I can definitely say that I am to-some-extent enmeshed, although my son and I have much different lives.

I work full time as a mental health professional (psychiatrist), and very much have a full plate and life, as well as independent goals outside of being a parent.

Yet the event feels painful – and poignant.

It’s been coming for years, and with COVID, housing for youngers has been slim. But today (tomorrow) is the day.

My son (front) with his cousin (my nephew)

I will let you all know how it goes. I know there are a few good online forums for Empty-Nesters.

I am not depressed or anxious, just sad.

And the tree beckons.


Wounds and Thumbprints

Maybe it was the jam thumbprint cookies I made last night, but all night I dreamed about wounds.

I woke up thinking about you.

And me.

And how we wear our wounds less like balls-and-chains and more like thumbprints – craters, really – indenting our very cores.

They are large and visible, sometimes honed through years of weathering.

While the world generally makes out the shape of the thumbprint unique only to each of us, those who really know us sometimes see exactly how the wound events unfolded all those years ago.

I see you – a tiny boy, toddler really. Your spirit hopeful, optimistic, a bit yearning. And then, suddenly, across your tiny face, a look of shock, no, dismay, actually. And then pain. Crestfallen.

A betrayal.

Was it her? Your mother?

I know how she could be.

You never did tolerate fickle. Or me.

You read fickle as too mutable, too unpredictable. Too scary.

In the face of what you must have experienced as that tiny boy I understand.

Your defense mechanism is to go to battle.

The trigger a slightest movement out of the corner of an eye or just within ear shot. And then it’s guns blazing, mowing down with precision.

Words and if that’s not enough, fists.

My own wound is that I am the invisible one. No one to catch me, no one would even see me slip away. It’s a hollow aloneness.

My defense mechanism is making my way, always myself, driving ahead, forging, proving. No one else to rely on in the end.

It’s why dependence makes me flee. Makes me dance as if I’m walking on coals. Makes me fickle.

No wonder we didn’t make it.

No wonder we tried.

Best Teriyaki Red Cherry Glazed Pork Ribs

I promise this is one of the best pork dishes you will ever taste.

Umami from the soy, sweetness from the sugar, a bit of zing from the ginger, and then extra sweet-bitter redness from the cherries make this melt-in-your-mouth pork out of this world.

My favorite Sunday dinner dish, I just remade this with fresh red cherries, which gave the meat a richer, redder flavor and shine.

If you like glazed meat, try this easy dish. You may definitely omit the cherries, but I found them again this time of year, and they added an amazing depth of sweet flavor.

A perfect Sunday dinner to start off the New Year 2022, I served this with buttered baked yams and a fresh green salad.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Teriyaki Red Cherry Glazed Pork Ribs

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings 4


  • 6 country pork ribs
  • 1 pound fresh red cherries pitted and split in half
  • 12 tbsp soy sauce divided
  • 10 tbsp white sugar divided
  • 1 1 inch piece fresh ginger root peeled and grated
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth divided
  • 4 scallions diced
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds


  • To each of two heavy-bottomed skillets add 6 tbsp soy sauce and 5 tbsp sugar
  • Heat over low and dissolve sugar
  • Add half of the ginger, 1/2 of the cherries, and top with 3 pork ribs
  • Top each pan with enough beef broth to nearly submerge ribs, adding water as needed to ensure ribs are nearly submerged
  • Heat each pan of ribs to boiling, then reduce heat and cover
  • Simmer on low for one and 1/2 hours
  • Remove lids and skim cherries which should be floating on top of simmered liquid. Leave ribs in pans, turning once
  • Place cherries in a blender along with 1/2 cup of liquid from one pan and blend until smooth
  • Pour 1/2 of cherry liquid emulsion into each pan, increase heat to medium, and cook with remaining liquid about 30 minutes
  • Liquid will thicken and become sticky
  • As sauce thickens, turn ribs several times to coat with glaze
  • Once sauce is completely sticky and fully coating ribs, remove ribs to platter
  • Sprinkle with diced fresh diced scallions and sesame seeds as desired

Red Beet, Greens, and Orange Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

This beautiful salad is a perfect start to any meal. Fresh and bursting with flavor and color, it is not your typical green salad.

I love fresh beets. Sometimes they do sit a while in the fridge as I forget just how magical they are. This is one of those recipes that you can rely on to transform that forgotten root into one of the best versions of beets ever!

I made this salad to accompany prime rib this Christmas, and there was not one bite left of it when we finished.

You can find beets, oranges, and greens year-round now, so if you want a lot of color and freshness to start any meal, this is a great bet!

Red beet, greens, and orange salad with Dijon vinaigrette

A colorful, savory, and sweet salad bursting with flavor of roasted beet, fresh greens, and oranges
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6


  • 4 whole red beets fresh
  • 2 oranges medium to large
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup radicchio torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Remove beet greens and discard (or save for another use)
  • Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil
  • Roast in oven, on sheet pan, for one hour, until beets are tender
  • Meanwhile, peel oranges and cut into 1/2-inch segments
  • Toss romaine, radicchio, diced red onion, and orange segments in a large salad bowl
  • Once beets are roasted, remove from oven and let cool – about 10 minutes
  • Remove beets from foil and, running under cool water, use your fingers to remove skins from beets. Skin should easily slide off if beets are thoroughly cooked
  • Dice beets into 1/2-inch segments and toss with greens and oranges
  • Drizzle salad with Dijon vinaigrette and toss well

Adventures in Outdoor Gourmet: Early Winter Day Trek

Today’s adventure is a day trek, high, high into the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

This one is simply a cooking adventure!

However, I do anticipate that where I am going will not have many people there this time of year. It’s getting cold at elevations now, and this one is at nearly 8,000 ft.

I’m leery of bears, especially with really yummy foods with me, but I plan a campfire. And also, aren’t bears hibernating this time of year?

I have a really complicated menu planned. Why?

I’m experimenting with making different dishes in the wild and experimenting with light and photographs and video.

(All of my photos turned out horrible, by the way. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)

I’m learning. I will post some so you can all laugh too. 🀣

This was the planned “experiments” menu:


  • Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast
  • French Press Coffee
  • Scrambled Eggs with Lox and Fresh Dill


  • Salad Rolls
  • Chips


  • Chipotle in Adobo Braised Chicken Tacos
  • Avocado Crema
  • Pinto Beans

Weird menu, right?

Like I said, I’m experimenting with cooking – gourmet – over the fire and with my Coleman.

Anyway, here is how the day started: Coffee. This French Press Italian Roast is rich and smooth, heavy.

With a kick. Caffeine.

This is also probably the best photo on this blog, so enjoy. LOL!

Well, it’s almost 9:00AM – time to hit the road!

I’ve planned about an hour and a half drive, as I want to get pretty far into the mountains today, as I said.

Along the way, I stop along the Jemez river – this is early winter in Northern New Mexico. The colors are still glorious yellows and burnt auburns.

After about an hour and 1/2, here I am – pretty far into the mountains and at an elevation of almost 8,000 ft.

So still, I hear slight rustling of wind through the trees, every now and then a rodent scampering.


On the way up were people in trucks, seeking to cut their perfect 2021 Christmas tree. The pine, spruce, and fir are fragrant with dank pine scent.

Most are misshapen bold survivors amongst the few Christmas-tree perfect figurines.

Unloading, I set up my table, Coleman, water jug, and get my fire going.

This is not going easily today due to the cold and dampness. See the snow on the ground? Luckily brought some of my own wood. Good thinking, Gray! πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘Œ

Finally going really well now!

I make more coffee.

I don’t know if it was the flavor of my cast iron pan or that the butter melted too quickly over too-hot coals, but my french toast had the flavor of burned butter. Notes to self! Cooking over the campfire is a bit tricky!

I didn’t even bother with a photo. LOL.

At home, to redeem myself, I made french toast the next morning. Here’s how it’s supposed to look:

This one I drizzled with some amazing honey I found recently at No Bull Prime Meats. All of their honey is jarred and labeled by zip code. Talk about specialization!

Link is here:


As you can tell, even with the above, I am working on my photography skills, as I know these are not doing my food justice. Truly a learning curve.

Anyway, on to the scrambled eggs.

I’ll a post a link to the recipe in a bit, but essentially this is just soft scrambled eggs with cream cheese melted in, topped with lox and dill. Yum!

I’m going to skip along here, I’m starting to bore myself.

I did the salad rolls. They were my favorite thing of the day. Recipe forthcoming as well.

These are just finely chopped fresh veggies folded into a dressing of 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream and then spooned into fresh rolls.

Very light and flavorful!

By the way, I am totally alone out here. There is no one out here except for a very occasional car along the nearby road. I am not afraid at all.

Daylight is not difficult for me at all – it truly is the night and the dark.

For some folks, reactions to trauma are like that – they remain isolated to the type of situations in which the traumatic event occurred. For me, it’s at night, when I am alone.

For others, reactions “generalize,” and extend to other types of situations. A panic attack at a train station turns into panic attacks anywhere in public. That’s actually quite common.

Tracking back to the original trauma may help, but also may worsen anxiety and avoidance associated with PTSD and in my opinion, should be done in the context of therapy.

I’m going to start my early dinner.

This recipe is very easy – in fact actually impossible to mess up – and I did not mess this one up today. 🀣

I heat my cast iron skillet over the grill, add a touch of oil and then a large skinless chicken breast (2 medium work as well), which I have lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

This recipe does not even require browning of the chicken, but I do move the chicken around in the skillet and flip once to ensure it is not sticking.

Then to the skillet I add a whole can of chipotles in adobo sauce and a cup and 1/2 of chicken broth – just enough to almost cover the chicken breast.

Covering tightly with aluminum foil, I let this cook over medium-hot fire coals.

After 40 minutes this is the result: Pretty blurry from my lack of photographic experience with the afternoon slant of fall sunlight, but you can see the chicken is cooked through and liquid evaporated. I do not like my chicken tacos soggy!

This chicken is pull-apart fork tender and I shred simply with my fork along with some of the chipotle (a lot today, as I’m a bit cold) and assemble my tacos. This chicken is spicy, flavorful, and so tender!

After warming my corn tortillas quickly on the fire, I fill with the shredded chicken and chipotles.

And today, I made an avocado crema (1/2 avocado mashed with 1/4 cup sour cream), with which I topped my tacos, and added a bit of diced red onion. Served with my pinto beans made at home and warmed over the fire – yum! Cheers!

Here’s how this looked when I made it at home earlier this year (without avocado).

And these beans – so yum! I cooked the beans at home, topped with a bit of red chile sauce, avocado, cheese, and a fried egg.

The fire is ebbing and I’m heating water and heavy cream to make my Mexican hot cocoa. I would spike this one with whisky, but it is time to head home once this fire winds down.

It’s rich and warms me through to finish this wonderful late fall day.

6 Proven Tips to Beat the Sunday Blues This Holiday Season

You know the feeling – all weekend long you have been away from work – able to play, hang out with family, do your own thing, and go out with friends – all on your own time. Weekend chores notwithstanding, you’ve been free to relax and have fun.

And then Sunday afternoon arrives, along with that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Tomorrow’s Monday, time to return to work, back to the office or the endless Zoom calls.

The feeling can be particularly distressing after a vacation or time away from work, and this holiday season has many of us particularly struggling.

According to a survey commissioned by LinkedIn, 80% of working Americans experience the Sunday blues, and Millennials and Gen Z workers had even higher rates, with greater than 90% reporting it.

While the feeling is very common, there are ways to cope.

Here are 6 evidence-backed methods of dealing with the Sunday blues:

Give yourself a reality check.

Sunday blues are often linked to underlying ideas that things will be difficult or even insurmountable. This type of thinking is called “catastrophizing,” or blowing things out of proportion. Remind yourself that it will be okay, that Monday is a typical day, and you will simply go through the day step-by-step.

Research shows that cognitive (thinking) control techniques such are “reality checking” may increase activity in areas near the front of the brain that serve to dampen fear-based activity in lower regions of the brain associated with anxiety.

Take a deep breath and remember who you are.

Distract yourself.

Go for a walk, get engrossed in a movie or your favorite TV or streaming series. Talk to a friend or partner. Go to the gym.

Distraction is another technique designed to interfere with automatic fear responses in the brain, and similar research demonstrates the value in distraction techniques.

Exercise is a form of distraction but also has independent beneficial effects for alleviating depression and anxiety.

Use Visualization.

Visualization is a relaxation technique you can use by yourself to relieve anxiety. By creating a calming mental picture, visualization helps shift your perspective and mindset. You may choose your own mental picture such as relaxing on serene beach or in the mountains or may use suggested scenes.

Three simple scenes that may be useful are here.

Avoid excessive alcohol use.

While it may be temporarily comforting, alcohol is a known depressant and if used excessively is known to harm both physical and mental health. It may just make your Monday that much more challenging if you wake up with a hangover, not to mention causing potential relationship and other social problems.

There are many good options for treatment if you are struggling with excessive use. Suggestions include online quit support communities, AA, formal counseling, and medications. Newer medications such as naltrexone decrease cravings for alcohol and may be especially beneficial.

Ditch the job.

If it works for you, ditch the office job. Many people nowadays are quitting their stereotypical office job and do not like reporting to bosses and other authorities for the same reasons that underlie the Sunday blues. They seek to make their own hours, rules, and playbooks, and establish their own work-life balance.

Quitting your day job requires considerable and deliberate thought so don’t quit your day job unless you can!

Seek professional help.

If your distress at the thought of going to work on Monday becomes overwhelming or interferes with your ability to function, seek professional help. The mental health professional community includes counselors, social workers, nurse practitioners, doctors/psychiatrists, and psychologists, and all are versed in helping with anxiety.

Most of us have been “there” with the Sunday blues, so know that you are not alone.

With a few tips you can successfully manage the Sunday blues and ease into the work week, including even after the Holidays.

Gray Clarke, MD is a Board-Certified Psychiatrist. This is a personal blog focusing on mental health, wellness, and cooking, along with personal stories.

To contact: gray@grownupgourmet.com

Bacon-and-Egg Greens Salad with Avocado, Radicchio, Grapes and Vinaigrette

This is a ridiculously easy, healthy, and hearty salad perfect for lunch or a light dinner served along with soup or a crusty bread.

I made this during a recent overnight camping adventure – see my post “On Conquering Fears II: Overnight Camping.” https://on-conquering-fears-ii-overnight-camping

Although it was just me and my constant companion puppy, this salad was a hit!

But truly, I have made this salad many times, both at home and elsewhere, as it is so easy and my family loves it.

A friend recommended adding finely chopped red onion and bleu cheese, which I think is an excellent idea.

You can also add walnuts or pecans – candied or roasted, even plain! Or dried cranberries, diced apple, or other cheese such as feta or goat cheese.

You won’t catch me making anything with goat cheese though. It’s one of those taste aversions I developed from a childhood memory.

Suffice to say, when I attended a rather weird private school in the high mountains of New Mexico we were served goat’s milk with every lunch. Yuck!

But on to the yummy stuff! Here is the recipe.

Bacon-and-Egg Greens Salad with Radicchio, Grapes, and Vinaigrette

This easy, healthy, and hearty salad is perfect for lunch or a light dinner served with soup or a crusty baguette.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 4


For the Salad

  • 4 slices bacon cooked until crisp and rough chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 eggs hard boiled and chopped into 1/2-inch segments
  • 1 ripe avocado diced
  • 2 cups fresh salad greens roughly torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup radicchio roughly torn
  • 20 seedless red grapes sliced in half

For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp local honey
  • 1/4 cup rice wine or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Chop salad ingredients roughly and add to large salad bowl, taking care not to damage eggs
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss well

Enjoy and let me know what you decide to add to this salad!

Fiery Cherry & Pinon Nut Salad with Charred Scallion Vinaigrette

Warm up your holidays with this sexy, sweet, and spicy cherry salad!

Serrano and charred scallion vinaigrette add just the right amount of spice and smoke to the bed of sweet cherries you lay down to start this dish.

Creamy pinon nuts round out the flavor, along with a bit more “bite” from the scallion. Don’t skimp here – it looks like a lot of onion, but you need the spicy bite to balance out the sweetness of the cherries.

I really do love a good scallion.


In the spirit of yearnings and yum, I give you this recipe I adapted from NY Times last year. It reflects my New Mexico roots exactly.

This dish is perfect for Christmas or any time of year, but because I can’t easily find cherries here this time of year, at least in the US, I am naming this one β€œChristmas in July.”

No matter the occasion, when you make this dish it will be the one that no one has ever had before!

So, in the spirit of Christmas and loving one another, I wish you Merry Christmas and happy cherry hunting!

Fiery “Christmas in July” Cherry & Pinon Nut Salad with Serrano and Charred Scallion Vinaigrette

Prep Time 35 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet cherries
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1/2 cup pinon nuts also called pine nuts
  • 1 – 2 serrano peppers red or green, 1 or 2 depending on size
  • 3 tbsp white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/4 sea salt
  • black pepper


  • Score each cherry with knife at seam circularly around center and slice in half
  • Using your fingers, remove cherry pits and discard
  • Place halved cherries in a large salad bowl
  • Clean and trim scallions, removing tips of green ends and white frond ends
  • Place entire bunch of scallions on cutting board and slice in half, separating green ends from white ends
  • Take white ends and slice each scallion lengthwise into very thin strips
  • Add to cherries bowl
  • Remove stem and seeds from serrano and slice thinly
  • Add to cherries bowl along with pinon nuts
  • Toss well and drizzle with vinaigrette

For the Charred Scallion Vinaigrette

  • Char green ends over stove top burner until fragrant and smoky, just blackened but not disintegrating
  • Place charred ends on board and dice finely, working knife back and forth and running knife at 45-degree angle to mash into a paste
  • Place paste into a small bowl
  • Add vinegar, stirring well to combine
  • Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste, whisk until smooth

Best Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

The best ever lamb dish is here! Easy and elegant, you CAN make this!

Ever since I found the wonderful local meat shop just a few miles from our house, I have been making all varieties of fresh meats – veal milanese, osso buco, saltimboca, bison green chile stew, and now rack of lamb.

All have been the best cuts of meat I have ever tasted, but this rack of lamb was the most tender and flavorful cut of meat I’ve ever had.

My local meat market is No Bull Prime Meats at https://www.nobullprimemeats.com/

If you are ever in Albuquerque, New Mexico, go see the owner, Brett. He is a kick! And the staff are very helpful.

This recipe, adapted from Ina Garten’s classic, is very easy – even if you are no whiz in the kitchen, as I said, you can make this!

Some like to serve rack of lamb with a tzatziki (Greek garlic yogurt) sauce, but I don’t think this needs it at all.

That being said, I served this with a simple lemon and cashew rice, along with a salad.

** Cut recipe in 1/2 for 2 for an elegant date-night or super delicious two-person BFF dinner.


Best Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6


  • Food Processor (optional)
  • Roasting Pan
  • Lemon Zester


  • 2 Racks Lamb
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil extra virgin
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cracked Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary fresh
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme fresh
  • 4 Tbsp Butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup White Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Shallot minced finely
  • 3 cloves Garlic diced finely
  • 2 tsp Lemon Zest


  • Allow lamb to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours
  • Preheat oven to 450 F
  • Place lamb fat side up in a large roasting pan
  • Rub well with olive oil, then liberally salt and pepper
  • Roast for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, combine herbs, breadcrumbs, butter, shallot, garlic, and lemon zest and pulse until a course and sandy in texture, set aside
  • Remove lamb from oven and press herb mixture into fat cap and sides
  • Return to oven and roast another 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven and tint lightly with foil. Rest for 15 minutes
  • Carve into 1- or 2-chop portions and serve

On Conquering Fears II: Overnight Camping

Overcoming avoidance is key to healing from trauma. This is a story about overcoming fears through nature and healing through cooking.

I thought I’d go back in time and tell the story of my solo overnight camping trip.

My son, his girlfriend, our big dog and I had gone on a trip to this same area of Northern New Mexico earlier in the summer and stayed a couple of nights, so I felt ready to do this. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but something was compelling me.

For me, it’s scary being alone, especially at night. See my earlier post, “On Conquering Fears: Outbound” https://on-conquering-fears-outbound

I wasn’t fully conscious of what was driving me at the time, but there was a transformation happening with me. That was something I had been aware of for a few months by then.

Anyway, morning of the trip, I pack up.

Even for one, packing takes some time. It’s very helpful to have bins of staple items ready to go, as with most types of adventures that require gear (camping, skiing).

As you’ll see, I wasn’t exactly all alone on this one – I brought my little dog, Nibbles, with me. She is my constant companion but not much of a “protector.” She does have a LOUD bark though.

The ride up is totally uneventful, but glorious. Windows open, taking in trees fragrant and brilliant green, we climb, above the 8,000 ft elevation mark.

For this car-camp, I want a semi-developed site, which means one that is off of the road but that is accessible by 4-wheel drive car. It’s muddy, and I definitely don’t want to get stuck out here all alone! Yikes!

These aren’t developed sites in campgrounds. They are ones where folks have accessed areas off-road and built fire rings with rocks and have flattened areas of ground with their tents. Some have remnants of plastic bottle lids, aluminum foil bits, and other trash.

Shaking my head, I wonder if it’s just carelessness, hurriedness, or other reasons people can be so thoughtless. Most complex behavior is multiply-determined, so I settle on that.

There are people around, but the “sites” are spread out enough that it would take a little bit to access.

I have a hard time finding a spot. There aren’t many and the ones that are accessible are all taken.

I’m nearly at the end of the canyon where the tall trees enshroud. Any further north along the road and the canyon opens up to a wide high plain. No one camps there. It’s too exposed along the road and not beautiful.

My spot is quite sweet – it even has a stream running right through the middle.

Nibbles is too afraid to get out of the car. This is new for her.

I know how she feels.

Letting her get her bearings in her own way and time, I set up camp.

Camp table, 5-gallon water jug, old Coleman grill, cooler.

I get out bags of food supply, flashlight, lighter, my bin of cooking and cleaning utensils.

Air mattress, pillow, and sleeping bag.

If you’ve ever been camping, you’ll know that one of the very first things you do is set up your tent. Did I do that? No.


This time we are sleeping in the car! 😜 😜😜😜😜😜

We go fishing down the road, didn’t catch anything today, so time to get a fire going and start dinner.

I wanted something really easy but yummy and light enough.

This is an egg and bacon green salad with radicchio, avocado, and grapes. Here’s how it looked when I made it at home:

Served with a vinaigrette, baguette, and butter this is amazing! You can find the recipe here: https://bacon-and-egg-greens-salad-with-radicchio-grapes-and-vinaigrette

It’s been a nice day. Earlier, a couple walked by my campsite. I could tell they were wondering what a middle-aged woman was doing up here all alone. Or maybe not. It’s funny either way.

Chilling by the fire with Nibbles, who has relaxed by now, I also feel totally relaxed, at peace.

Two cups of Mexican hot cocoa later, it’s getting pretty dark, stars becoming brighter in the night sky. Without the interference from city lights they are so brilliant. One of the reasons I love Northern New Mexico.

Did I tell you that my sister and I used to camp out just the two of us? We were young when we first started – age 11 – on the neighbor’s land. They owned 100 acres. We were never afraid.

That was before.

Nibs and I settle in the back of the car. It is definitely roomy enough, and comfortable. I am not afraid at all now. The windows are rolled up. And we both fall fast asleep.

Sometime later I wake to the sound of an alarm blaring. WTH??

It’s the freaking car alarm. Is there someone around? What is happening???

Grabbing the flashlight, I investigate each side of the car through the windows.

An animal? A person? Eek…

No – nothing. There is nothing out there.

And then it hits me: I probably set the alarm off when I turned over! It’s that darn auto-alarm feature! OMG, LOL!!! 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣

I’ve experienced this before.

I find the keys and shut off the alarm, thinking about the couple camping aways down the road. I’m sorry, folks, I really am.

Anyway, I go back to sleep.

After that, I swear, I must have set that alarm off maybe 30 times. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Sooner or later, I decided to just keep the car key in my hand so I could shut off within a second or two.

Those poor neighboring campers.

Feeling chagrinned the next morning, we were up pretty early. We pretty much booked it out of there. Hahahaha!!! πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£

But we made it through the night – even got some sleep!

This is an enormous win for me.

Hooray!!!! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

I make some coffee, pack up, and clean up the site, looking around, thanking the wild for offering solitude.

Nibbles doesn’t want to get in the car.

I know how she feels.