No Frodo!

Frodo Risotto Recipe for a Hobbit [Solstice] Dinner

I published this recipe in 2014.

Since then, my family started celebrating the Solstice.
It’s tomorrow, Thursday, December 21.
We celebrate the sun’s return with a little fire-lighting ritual.
We say a few poems to welcome the sun.
We light lots of candles.
And we serve Frodo Risotto.
(Baked butternut squash and sage risotto risotto recipe.)

No Frodo!

We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

This risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

Recipe: Frodo Risotto

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I still like Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her. To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.\

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan.

Now fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After an hour, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir through the two tablespoons of butter and the cup of Parmesan cheese.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

This is how we make Hearn Family Granola

Helen Jane’s Granola Recipe

Most years we make granola for our friends and family.
This is our recipe.

It fits into 6 medium Bell jars. Double it and have enough for everyone.

4 cups oatmeal
1 cup almonds
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup large coconut flakes
1/2 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried peaches

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and set aside.

Put the almonds in a plastic bag and smash them with a hammer or mallet. Smash them until the almonds are smaller than pea sized, but not quite dust.

Slice dried peaches into short sticks, about 1/4″ wide x 1″ long. I like to use an oil-sprayed kitchen shears for this.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, almonds, salt and coconut flakes. Mix together.

In a saucepan over low heat, mix light olive oil, honey and vanilla. Do this until the mixture is well-blended and warmed through.

Carefully add the oil/honey/vanilla mixture to the oatmeal mixture in the large bowl. Stir until oats and nuts are covered with goodness.

Spread the oat mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Stir in your cup of dried peaches.
Stir a little more.
Let cool completely on the pan.

Then squinch up the granola from big nuggets to small nuggets before adding to jars.

  • I cut large sheets of Avery 8.5″x11″ label paper to the right size.
  • I outline the labels with a Sharpie, and use a brush pen to write the label.
  • Tie it up with a canvas or twill ribbon and voila! You’ll find yourself with a relatively cheap, super homemade and usually appreciated holiday gift.

Happy granola-ing!

Helen Jane's white turkey chili recipe

Helen Jane’s White Turkey Chili Recipe

Until I took my site down, I forgot how much I relied on it for my own recipe reference. I’ll continue to repair and replace some of these recipes over the next few months.

Finding my old favorite slow cooker recipes has been enlightening. I can’t believer I was ever so comfortable being well… myself online. Over the past few years, I’ve become so guarded, so practiced, I’ve been afraid to post anything that didn’t live up to very specific requirements.

That said, I want to make this next week for dinner My family absolutely loves it. It fits all the low-carb requirements and if that’s not enough, over a few months back in the day, I lost 20 pounds eating this every day for lunch. So there’s that.

Helen Jane's white turkey chili recipe

Recipe: Helen Jane’s White Turkey Chili

1 lb Northern beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (we use light olive oil)
1 large onion
3 celery ribs
2 overfilled tablespoons oregano
4 garlic cloves
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb pork sausage
4 cups of chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 overfilled tablespoon cumin
1 overfilled tablespoon coriander
1 can chopped jalepeno peppers
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste (for us it’s usually around 2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne)

Sour cream
Hot sauce (we like Cholula for this one)
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions
Grated Monterey Jack cheese.

The night before:
Rinse the beans, place them in a large bowl and then cover them with about 2 inches of water.

The day of:
Chop onion small, chop celery small, mince garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium high and add the onions, celery and oregano. Saute and stir for about 4 minutes or until the onions are transparent.

Add the turkey and the sausage. Brown meat mixture for about 6 or 7 minutes until it’s cooked through. Man, sauteed ground turkey and pork sausage becomes a really specific sad color in the pan. Ignore that, it’s going to taste amazing.

Add garlic and saute for a minute more.

Set the slow cooker on low for anywhere between 6 and 10 hours.

Turn off the heat and carefully empty the saute pan into the slow cooker.

Drain the white northern beans. Add them to the slow cooker.

Add the jalapeno peppers. Add the chicken stock too. Add cumin, coriander, cayenne and bay leaves. Stir it all together.

Now get to work!
Good job, you.

When you come home, stir up the chili, taste and add salt and cayenne until it’s all balanced.
Remove the bay leaves while you’re at it.

Stir 1 cup of the shredded Monterey Jack cheese into the chili just before serving.

Serve with all the fixins. This is a highly personalizable dish, perfect for picky eaters and spice lovers as they can have their chili and eat it too.

slow cooker short ribs with a bright and lively gremolata

Slow Cooker Short Ribs with Gremolata Recipe

Remember me?

In the swirl of this year of hard stuff, I realized I missed this hobby of mine.
This web log life.

I am slowly adding back some recipes, essays and images from the archives.
Thanks for playing along.

Here’s a recipe my meat-eaters love for winter dinner. It cooks while you toil. And sister, I know you’re toiling.

slow cooker short ribs with a bright and lively gremolata

Recipe: Slow Cooker Short Ribs with a Bright & Lively Gremolata

Short Rib Ingredients
6 medium beef short ribs
1 onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Gremolata Ingredients
3 tablespoons parsley
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 cloves of minced garlic

Salt and pepper short ribs. Add to slow cooker.
Add the onion and garlic to your slow cooker.

Cook on low for eight hours — or work backwards from the time you’d like to serve your short ribs. Aim for no less than 4 hours, no more than 9.
(Slow cookers are forgiving like that.)

Chop the parsley and lemon zest fine. Add the minced garlic  Stir the gremolata ingredients together in a small bowl.

You can either serve the gremolata on top of the short ribs or s put it out in a small bowl for guests to serve themselves. My kids demand the latter. Gremolata haters, I’ll win them over yet.

Serve these short ribs in a large shallow bowl atop whipped potatoes or creamy polenta and some sauteed bitter greens. Don’t forget the good red wine. If you’d like a rec, I’d serve it with Apriori Red Wine or Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect for holiday busy weeknights.

Crocked Shrimp Dip Recipe

This recipe, from Ann Hodgeman’s Beat That cookbook, wins raves and recipe requests from all over the land.

The cucumber slices and water crackers didn’t make anyone’s fingers greasy, and the shrimp dip topping was light, whippy and exactly the most non-offensivest of fishy that you want in a dip. We make this dip in two parts, The first, the shrimping. The second, the blending and the third, the melding. The melding is my favorite part, because I have to do nothing.

This recipe only serves to reinforce my belief that a food processor makes nearly any food better. I think it has something to do with hoisting it out of its storage space and back and forth again.

Recipe: Crocked Shrimp Dip

First Day Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 lemons, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 pounds raw medium shrimp, unpeeled

Second Day Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 small scallions, minced (including a good 3 inches of green)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Water crackers and cucumber slices for serving

First Day Directions
Mix the water, wine, lemon slices, chopped garlic cloves, peppercorns and mustard seeds (basically, everything except the shrimp) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mix to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low — and add the shrimp (still in their shells). Simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Put the whole mixture in the fridge overnight.

Second Day Directions
Drain and peel the shrimp. Take out that food processor, and add the cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process the mix utnil smooth. Drop in the peeled shrimp and pulse to chop it finely, you want some shrimpy texture in that dip.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.

Third Day Directions
Let the shrimp sit for an hour at room temperature before serving it with water crackers and those thinly sliced cucumbers.

Solutions for a painful internet, my Mom 2.0 presentation

I believe there are no more than 3 ways (ahem) to feel better from the internet.
And no less than 74,000 ways to feel worse.

helenjane's internet ailments

So step right up, get on in here,
I have tonics, salves, liniments, ointments and remedies for your ails.
Internet related ailment, that is.
I have relief.

helenjane's internet ailments

See, over last five years
The scale and velocity of story sharing
image sharing and
sharing sharing has increased in a way in our brains and emotions have not.

We humans need to step back and see how fundamentally different human interaction has become since the internet’s adaptation by billions. This onslaught of pictures and stories and potential and the fact made visual that we are all connected to every body

It’s affecting our brains.
We have no choice but to evolve.

In fact, our brains are evolving…

helenjane's internet ailments

Right now.

We’re in transition.
Most transitions are marked with pain.
When we don’t recognize that transition for evolution, we feel terrible.


helenjane's internet ailments


helenjane's internet ailments

We’re transitioning right now.
And a little painfully.


helenjane's internet ailments

We’re evolving.
And it hurts.

Thankfully, I bring you
No less than
three tools for feeling better.

Let’s soothe those internet pains.

helenjane's internet ailments

We’re going to
Protect your neck
Show you a Jealousy Map
Then use our imaginations to think of tiny scientists.

First up?
Protect your neck

helenjane's internet ailments

When I sit with the internet during my normal surfing,
I pay close attention to my body’s reaction to the words I consume.

I feel the burning in my throat when someone I consider my peer gets that accolade.
I feel my eyes fill with tears as I take in your pain.
I feel my stomach tense as I share your outrage.
Oh, that outrage.

Becoming aware of these physical reactions is the first step to controlling them.

helenjane's internet ailments

The second step? Control my feed of information.

What’s coming in that might be poisoning me?
What toxic hate,
Gossip, and
Constant complaining am I consuming?

You have my permission to unfollow that which makes you feel bad.
I don’t care how good friends you are.
If their stream takes away your precious energy, you have a right to protect yourself.

helenjane's internet ailments

Another way to protect your neck is by remembering these three words, “It’s not about me.”

Your mom broke her hip and had a stroke and your Dad died, but you weren’t close, because you had a bad childhood and I totally understand – and then your kid died and I’m so sorry and every time I read that post I imagine it happening to me because it’s always about me.

Your pain is now about me.
Your pain becomes me.

But on reflection, I realize that I consume this media in isolation so SEEMS LIKE IT’S  about me.
It’s not.

Unless I write it, it’s not about me.
We see it when authors announce book tours, pregnancies, philanthropic efforts

Why wasn’t *I* picked for this?
Instead of, “Good Job.”

helenjane's internet ailments

Why aren’t you coming to Poughkeepsie?
Instead of, “Congrats on the book tour.”

helenjane's internet ailments

Well at least you HAVE a baby…
Instead of, “That must be hard for you.”

helenjane's internet ailments

On the internet it seems like it’s about me, but it’s not.

Pay attention to your body,
control your feed and remember,
it’s not about you.

I’m feeling better already!
Next up?

The Jealousy Map

helenjane's internet ailments

An epidemic of less than on the internet.
It’s impossible to avoid comparison.
When I’m jealous, instead of acting out, I don’t take your opinion seriously because, well, obviously you have it so much easier.

You’re already well-off.
You have a stay at home wife.
You got there first.

You have it so much better than me.

Thanks to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I now use jealousy as a tool.
I make a Jealousy Map.

Make a grid with three columns. Labeled, WHO, WHY and Now WHAT?,

helenjane's internet ailments

Start filling it the WHO with the folks you’re jealous of.
Fill in WHY with the reason you’re jealous and fill in the
NOW WHAT? part with the first thing that jumps to your brain.

helenjane's internet ailments

Some of the “So NOW what’s” come off as so simple they may sound silly.
Don’t let that fool you.
It’s how this tool works.

Oh that familiar jealous sinking in my stomach when I think it means I can’t ever measure up, I take it as a call to action.
Not as the end

Protect your neck
Jealousy Map
We’re on to Tiny Scientists

helenjane's internet ailments

Our internet is barely ten years old. Its current mobile-visual-branded version –  less than five years old.

When I get all judgey and mean about online authors, I stop it cold by thinking of other authors as five year old scientists.

helenjane's internet ailments

Would you be as judgemental and mean to a five year old in a tiny lab coat.
(Like one with a little twitter handle embroidered on it…)
As you are (inside your head, of course) to some other bloggers?

helenjane's internet ailments

I didn’t think so.

helenjane's internet ailments

Think of all of us as little experimenters.

helenjane's internet ailments

Sharing news through a personal lens, this experiment is barely five years old yet we consistently judge people as if they should know better.

helenjane's internet ailments

We’re all just bumbling along in our labs, trying things out publicly.
Let’s use our imagination to appreciate the internet for the experiment it IS.

Since you’re amazing, I’ve decided to share one more bonus tip with you.

We ladies have a unique emotional skill.
We can of add guilt to an already bad feeling.
We slather it on in a thick layer.

helenjane's internet ailments

It’s like a sad feeling club sandwich with bacon of regret, turkey of self-loathing, lettuce of sadness.
It’s bad enough.
And THEN we try to add this, some peanut butter of guilt.

Don’t put the peanut butter on a club sandwich.

helenjane's internet ailments

Don’t put guilt on an already bad feeling.

Feeling bad for feeling bad is something our gender that we can stop.
Starting… now!

helenjane's internet ailments

To sum up:
Our brains are evolving.
Protect your neck and remember: it’s not about me.
Use Jealousy as a tool with a Jealousy Map.
Imagine us as tiny scientists.
Don’t put the peanut butter guilt on a sad club sandwich.

You can find for all your internet ailment relief at and @helenjane.

helenjane's internet ailments

Healing from Painful Comparison

Record Player
One of the bad feelings I work hard to overcome is the familiar pang of envy. It’s hard to not feel less than on this world wide internet.
It’s impossible not to compare.

See, there’s me, with my hand-me-downs, graham cracker spit stained pants and a digital camera from 2004.

It’s funny, the way I turn my jealousy into blasé dismissal.
(Hi coping strategy!)

I dismiss the people I’m jealous of. I don’t take their opinions seriously because, well, obviouslythey have it so much easier that I do.

I dismiss this person because they live in a town with their parents so they have extra help. I dismiss that person for being well-off. I dismiss that one for having a stay at home wife who raises his kids. I dismiss that one for having such a strong church community behind her and I dismiss that one for having gotten there first.

I envy that one for not having kids and that one for having kids older than mine.
I envy this one for living in a less expensive town and that one for getting to go to all those conferences.

It makes me not take their experiences as authentic because, well, isn’t it so obvious about how much better they have it than me?

Envy makes me sound like a turd.


Thankfully, I’ve been learning to deal with it through all my Artist’s Way work. Jealousy is a very accurate map as to what’s missing. When I pay attention to jealousy, I’m much happier.

So how do I get out of the jealousy trap?
I make a jealousy map.

I fold a piece of paper into three columns and write at the top of the first column, “WHO.” On the top of the second column, I write, “WHY” and on the third column, I write “SO NOW WHAT?”

It might look like this:




Ariel Lots of professional success, found her niche. Find my niche.
Jenn Crazy entertaining web site that I’d never have enough time for. Make more time for my entertaining web site.
Aubrey Amazing job, regular paycheck, works with celebrities and events. Find a retainer client or part-time job. Outreach to public figures for my own career.

Some of the “So NOW what’s” come off as so simple they may sound flippant. Don’t let them fool you. It’s actually KISS at work.

Now, when I feel that familiar sinking in my stomach that means I can’t ever possibly measure up, I take it as a call to action.
What is this dismissal/jealousy telling me about what I need to do next?

This little exercise has practically dried up most of the painful comparison I do.

But let’s pretend making this list doesn’t help. You just stare at the names and the reasons and seethe that life has dealt you such a shitty hand.

I keep the following things in mind when I feel I’m not measuring up:
Rooster1. It’s all being sold to us.
We can’t sell without a need. The quickest way to create a need is to inspire a fundamental unease with your customers on the inside.

Your breath! It is bad!
Your weight is wrong!
This season’s spring fashions you just can’t be without (lest you are ridiculed)!

I work in marketing. I work with brands on blogs. I get it. But sometimes when exposed to all those images on the internet, it’s too much keep up the psychic strength. They win. They make me feel that I’m not enough without these items.

It’s also hard for bloggers because that’s the language we’ve grown up consuming. It’s the language we know how to speak in. It’s why the majority of bloggers signed up for this, to make a million dollars a year selling things to people. So we’ve got all these blogs selling their fabulously styled and presented lives to you for maximum brand acceptability.

And it’s making us feel terrible.

2. It’s easier to sell/market/talk about NEW products on your blog. Images for and links to new products are much easier to procure to demonstrate your personal taste. Mood boards, giveaways, they’re all for new stuff. New stuff you probably can’t afford. That constant churn for the need for new stuff is exhausting.

Washing Machine

3. Oh! The quote is trite by now, but everyone is having a hard time of it. Every. Single. Person I know is going through something awful right now. They are the only support person for someone who depends on them, they are having relationship issues, they are healing from abuse, they are dealing with the effects of illness, they are struggling financially. Blogs that only show the good part of life are designed to do just that. It’s only about what we choose to reveal. So let those images buoy you, not drag you down. It’s only a tiny slice of our whole, messy, complicated, and YES, difficult lives.

4. At the very least, don’t go to the sites that make you feel worse about yourself.
(But I need to see my competition! But I need to keep up! But! But! But!)
Don’t visit them.
Add them to your hosts file (how to here) so that you can’t visit them even if you want to.
Don’t go until you feel strong and whole down there in your gut about what you really need.

5. Now this is the obvious Oprah answer but it really does work. When feeling particularly useless in the face of envy, I make a big fat list of all the things I “have” that I love. Products, friends, family, pets, experiences. At least 20 but I’m hoping for more like 100. It works. I feel better. I remember the stuff I DO have that I’m not using, and I come up with better (free) ideas for how to show my gratitude.

Spending all this time consuming details about other people’s lives has not been part of our culture. It’s just a theory, but I don’t think we humans are psychologically ready to be so connected to all the humans in the world.

We need a few tricks and a few reminders that we’re pretty cool the way we are.

So, how do you deal with jealousy online?
Or are you above that?
(If so, I envy you.)

Grandma Yeager's German Potato Salad

Grandma Yeager’s German Potato Salad Recipe

Grandma Yeager's German Potato Salad

Recipe: Grandma Yeager’s German Potato Salad Recipe

8 red potatoes
8 bacon strips
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 onion
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 bunch parsley leaves, washed, dried and chopped fine

Wash and boil potatoes until cooked through. While the potatoes boil, chop the onion. Cut the raw bacon into tiny pieces about 1/2″.

When the potatoes can be poked easily with a sharp point, remove the cooked potatoes from the water, cool.

Peel the potatoes and cut into a little bigger than a half inch dice (little smaller than 1 inch). Set aside.

Heat up in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon. After about 4-5 minutes, when the bacon is cooked through, remove the bacon pieces from the pan leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Set the bacon aside.

With the burner at medium heat, add the flour and the onions to the bacon fat. Do this all the while stirring and cooking and smiling until it’s all incorporated. Add some black pepper. Keep the heat on medium.

Gently stir in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard. Stir until totally cooked through and the consistency of loose gravy.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of bacon bits.

Add the potatoes, bacon bits (minus the aforementioned 2 tablespoons) and half the parsley to the potato mixture. Toss very gently until the potatoes are covered with the sauce. Put the finished potato salad into a bowl for serving. Sprinkle the rest of the bacon and parsley over the top of the potato salad.

I like serving this at room temperature — for this I blame nostalgia.

Grandma Yeager’s German Potato Salad is absolutely levitating when it’s fried up as a potato patty the following morning. Don’t blame me if you get addicted.

Lasst uns essen!