Recipes for a Happy Life

When I was about eight-years old, I was sitting on the back step of my home, resting from a rigorous afternoon of playing baseball. My father sat next to me. He was a man of few words, and I shuddered when he said, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk with you about.”

My mind was racing with the possibilities, and none of them were good. He must have noticed I chipped a shingle by hitting it with a baseball last week. Or perhaps a neighbor had a broken window pane and I was the obvious culprit to blame. I inhaled and remained silent.

“Your mom isn’t a very good cook.”

“Uh, she’s okay, I guess.”

“She and I have noticed you messing around in the kitchen.”

Oh boy, I must have broken something. Or I didn’t clean the skillet good enough after that last batch of beans and franks.

“Yes, sir.” I waited for the bad news.

“”You like cooking a little, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir. I do. And whatever it is, I’ll take care of it. Just tell me what I need to do.”

He smiled. “No, no, nothing like that. You didn’t do anything wrong. Just opposite. Your mom and I think that if you want to mess around more in the kitchen, you go right ahead. You have our permission. If you want to cook us dinner every now and then, when you think you’ve got a meal that we’d like, we’d appreciate that. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.”

That was my initial venture into cooking. I must admit I was terrible at the start, but became a self-taught engineer of interesting combinations. I even tried catering for a short time, but didn’t like the clean-up after the party. Here are some recipes that I’ve made and found palatable. I’ve classified some as Quick and Easy for those times when we must create a delicious meal in one hour or less.

If you enjoy it, share the recipe and let me know how it came out. I’m going to continue to mess around and share a recipe every now and then.

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Tales from the Backseat

I thought I held a good understanding of my fellow humans and their behavior after a lifetime of observation and analysis. But not until I drove rideshare did I encounter new characteristics of people who provided me with experiences which I feel compelled to pass along. So, open the right rear passenger door, settle in comfortably, and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.

Cherry Coke – For convenience sake, we shall name our rider Cherry. Time: 1:45 AM. Sunday morning. Location: A well-traversed street in Marietta, GA. Most bars here close at midnight, while the remainder “stagger” (I think an excellent word selection here.) their closings to 1 AM or the rare 2 AM. I received the chime to pick up this rider and was but 3 minutes away. The driver-friendly app provides turn-by-turn directions and as you approach the targeted area, an icon of a person appears to pinpoint their exact location. I was just around the corner from the image when it disappeared. Poof! Cherry was gone. I made the final turn and stopped at the intersection where I last saw the icon. Remember, this was a highly travelled street in daylight, but it was nearly 2 AM. I stopped in the middle of street, tapped my 4-way flashers, and stepped from my car. Not a sound. Then a rustling of branches and leaves and out hopped an attractive blonde female with a flower-patterned dress and stilettos. One bounce from the grass onto the sidewalk, another over the curb, and then the third, ooh, a twisted pump and down went my passenger. Ass down, legs up, holding her purse about one elbow and reaching her hand toward me holding out her cellphone. “It died.” That solved the mystery of the missing icon. No power. No image.

I helped her up while she apologized profusely. No injuries were apparent. I explained she had no reason to be sorry to me, but thought perhaps she had some other regrets. The branches and leaves stirred a second time and a man walked without failure across the lawn, down the curb and to us, thanking me for helping Cherry and asking me to make sure she gets home safely. I add now that Cherry ignored him. No “Goodbye Honey, thanks for a wonderful evening,” or even a modest “get out of my life.”

The ride itself was uneventful, filled with several more apologies. She really wasn’t that drunk, she insisted, but was just very clumsy. I thought perhaps a combination was in play. I ignored her repeated pleas for a Cherry Coke.

I pulled into her well-lit driveway and suggested she may want to put her shoes in her handbag and walk barefoot the few steps to her door. Advice ignored, she wobbled the few steps and fumbled for her keys. I always stay with my headlights on until my rider is safely inside. Besides, I felt this ride wasn’t quite finished.

Door open, one step up on the concrete, one more to go, when she turned to acknowledge she was fine. Yep, she twisted and lost her balance, ass down, legs up, purse steady on her elbow. Cellphone? She got to her feet, one step up, a second into the house. Turned, noticed the phone on the cement. One step down, backwards. Another down to the ground, she bent over and collected her phone, and then again, ass down, legs up, holding her phone up high. She reminded me of a football player showing possession of the ball.

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LES TAYLOR – Senior Softball Legend Extraordinaire

In 1940, a Black minister held his eight-year-old son’s hand as they strolled through the turnstiles entering Ebbets Field. The child’s eyes opened wide as he absorbed the view of the bright lights, the dazzling white uniforms of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the sweet scent of newly manicured grass, and the buzz of nearly 32,000 fans.

            At that moment, young Les Taylor pledged he would become a part of baseball. His family had survived the Great Depression, so he had a youthful understanding of hardship and some requirements of life ahead of him. But he promised himself he would find the time to play and improve his skills at the game he loved.

            He returned to his home in Plainfield, New Jersey. Little League wasn’t yet available for America’s youth, so Les sought every opportunity to enjoy baseball in sandlot and pickup games. He was hooked, and baseball surrounded him. Through his father’s church, he got to know Joe Black, who earned National League Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 1952, then started and won a World Series game for the Brooklyn Dodgers that same year. While Les played tournament ball with the Georgia Crackers, he competed against Jake Wood, who later developed into the starting second baseman for the Detroit Tigers. Jake was the first Black player who came up through Detroit’s farm system when he began the 1961 season with the Motor City team.

            As life often does, it interrupted his pursuit of baseball when he entered the Army. After serving his term, he attended North Carolina Central University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in social science. By 1959, the Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles, leaving Ebbets Field vacant. Still, he felt the tugging allure of Brooklyn. It was there he married his college sweetheart, Carnell, and the couple settled near the former home of his beloved Dodgers, where they raised their four children over the next thirty-five years. For Les, even though a big league team was no longer in town, he always sensed baseball was in the air. Perhaps the spirits of early Dodger greats, such as Dazzy Vance and Branch Rickey, or the souls of some of the initial Black Major League players like Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, found their way back to their baseball home.

            During that time, Les Taylor evolved from playing baseball to softball. He perfected the Brooklyn two-step, a hitter’s maneuver to take two quick strides to meet a sinking softball at a better height to send hard line drives into the outfield. Now, over a half-century later, he still has the occasion to use that same swing today.

            He continued to play softball as often as possible, even while he held down two jobs and helped his wife, Carnell, raise their family. Les used his college degree and innate ability to guide people as he advanced in his career in social services. He became a teacher for the New York City Board of Education. As a second job, for eighteen years he was the Director of Pink Houses Senior Center. Of course, he still carved out time for softball, and was an active player and manager in the Social Services League.

            He retired in 1992, purchased a home in the northern Atlanta suburbs where he and Carnell relocated in 1995. Shortly after they moved in, his wife sent him on an errand to a hardware store and Les stopped at a Publix supermarket on his way back. It was there he spotted a bulletin board with a note seeking anyone over fifty who might be interested in playing softball, stating they should inquire at nearby Hobgood Park. Once there, he discovered a few older guys playing a pickup game on a Little League diamond, and learned their names were Jerry and Bill King, not related. They invited him to play, and those days were the beginnings of the Cherokee Senior Softball Association (CSSA), and Les became instrumental in its development.

            As Les helped that league grow, he was also active in traveling softball, where he played for many teams. It was there he met and played with Dorman Lane, a player with outstanding baseball knowledge who taught the intricacies of softball management to Les.

            During his years on those traveling teams, Les felt he was privileged to play with and with several outstanding players, including Carl Brown, who remains active in the CSSA. While Les was a member of the Georgia Crackers Softball Team for over five years, he often encountered Howard Schoen, star second baseman of the Georgia Peaches.

            2001 was a banner year for this young-at-heart senior player. His traveling team, with Carl Brown a member, competed in the AAA level of the 65+ tournaments. That year, his team won the three separate World Series of the ASA, USA and USSSA, a Triple Crown of senior softball. In the final game of what became the team’s third championship, Les drove in six runs with a double and a triple. In addition, the CSSA recognized Les’ overall contributions and performance for their organization, and honored him with the Arnold Fowler Award.

            So here we are in 2023, and one can still watch this softball legend play in two leagues of the CSSA at Hobgood Park, twenty-eight years after its formation. Beyond that, think back to when Les began in organized softball, and realize he has passed his 60th year in uniform.

            Following the lead of their preacher grandfather, two of Les’ four children have joined the ranks of the ministry. While three of his children live in the New York area and one in Detroit, it is a testimony to his devotion to his family that at least one of his offspring will often visit Les and Carnell here in Georgia. That sixty-three-year marriage has remained strong, with the four children adding ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren to the Taylor clan.

            Throughout it all, with the occasional hiccup for human ailments, Les Taylor remains dedicated to the sport, which became part of his essence when the lights of Ebbets Fields illuminated his smiling face in 1940. Even now, at age 90, Les Taylor sits in the dugout after yet another contest and gazes out at the diamond with a wide grin. With a slight twinkle in his eye, he’ll look up at you and say, “Let’s play another one.”

Author’s note: It has been an honor to play with Les for the past two years. I can see his love for the game still glitters in his eyes. At age 91, he still hits the softball better than many players who are 30 years his junior. Amazing. He knows more about the game than I shall ever know, no matter how much I try to learn. Thank you, Les, for being a teammate, coach, inspirational leader, and friend of thousands of players.

CARL BROWN – Senior Softball Legend

If you asked Carl about the origins of baseball, he wouldn’t reply with that story about Abner Doubleday. Certainly not.

No, he would tell you baseball began in Summerville, Georgia, when an eight-year-old boy played on the street with his older brothers. First, you needed to find the right size rock, one that felt like you could toss it a fair distance and it might even roll a bit. Then, one brother would cover that rock with tarpaper and electrical tape, while the other grabbed an axe and strolled into the pine forest. When he returned with a tree suitable for whacking that rock, he would strip the bark, hack the wood to about three feet, and that was the birth of baseball.

One of those brothers played for the original Atlanta Crackers, and in 1948, Carl remembers visiting Cracker Field to cheer his brother and his team. He sat with Eddie Mathews and Chuck Tanner, future legends of baseball.

From those early days, Carl developed into an outstanding player, active in high school baseball, and soon developed into a traveling softball player. His wife, Shirley, encouraged his participation, and after 66 years of marriage, she remains an ardent supporter of Carl’s enthusiasm for the sport.

During that career, his team won the Softball World Series in Dallas, Texas, and over the years, he received several gold medals and awards for his defensive performances.

He and Shirley brought up a family where baseball is an integral part of their lives, and most of his clan played the sport at some organized level. The total count of their family is now at 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

But after all that, Carl’s heart still flutters just a little (thank goodness) when he thinks of all the boys, ages 8-16, who played baseball and he coached over thirty years. I’m willing to bet most of those athletes would remember Carl as that kind of soul who taught with the fervor and patience that captivates young men. If you talk with Carl now, you can still sense that gentleness within.

Carl is currently recovering from some elements of aging, but plans to return to the softball diamond this spring. He plays in the Cherokee County (Georgia) Senior Softball Association leagues at Hobgood Park in Woodstock, GA. Welcome Back, Carl. We miss you!

Apple-Cider Doughnut Cake

Total time to prepare – Approximately 1 hours, 35 minutes. Serves ten (10).
 – If you love apple-cider doughnuts from Farmer’s Markets, you’ll love this cake. Baked in a Bundt cake pan, it’s essentially a giant cake doughnut. Equipment needed: Bundt pan
  • Unsalted Butter, melted, Plus more for the pan – 2 Tbsp
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan – 2 cup
  • Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1.5 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Ground cinnamon – 1 Tbsp
  • Kosher salt – 3/4 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 3/4 cup
  • Apple cider – 1 cup
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 3/4 cup
  • Unsweetened applesauce – 3/4 cup
  • Pure vanilla extract – 2 tsp
  • Eggs, large – 3
[/recipe-ingredients] [/recipe-directions]
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Generously butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together 1.5 cups sugar, cider, oil, applesauce, vanilla, eggs.
  5. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, whisk until combined.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  7. Bake 45-50 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through until a test toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Transfer pan to a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.
  9. Invert warm cake onto rack. Brush with melted butter. Then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
  10. Cool. Store cake covered, at room temperature, for up to two (2) days.ENJOY!
  11. ENJOY!

Stacked Baby Taters (Quick & Easy)

Total time to prepare – Approximately 1 hour. Serves twenty (20).
 –– The quantity of this appetizer can be easily changed, and can be made a day ahead, refrigerated, and then heated in the oven at a low temperature.


  • 1 lb Celebration Potatoes.
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 oz Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Basil, chopped
  • 7 oz Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Grease mini-muffin tins with butter.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Rinse the multi-colored celebration potatoes. Any variation of these type of potatoes can be used, including Fingerling. 
  4. Slice thin and place in a container of water. Do Not Peel. Wait 30 minutes. 
  5. Drain and pat dry. Place the potatoes in a medium bowl.
  6. Add Butter, Parmesan Cheese, Garlic Powder, Basil. Salt & Pepper to taste. Mix with a spoon.
  7. Place a short stack (perhaps 3) of potatoes in the greased muffin cup.
  8. Top with a pinch of Pepper Jack Cheese.
  9. Place another short stack of potatoes atop the cheese. Stack height should not exceed the top of the muffin cup.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges brown.
  11. Remove the muffin tins and cool for about 5 minutes.
  12. Use a teaspoon or similar tool to scoop the stacks from the muffin cups and place on paper towels to drain.
  13. ENJOY!

Bacon Ratatouille with a Kick (Quick & Easy)


Bacon Ratatouille with a Kick

Total time to prepare – Approximately 45 minutes. Serves eight (4).

 –– I get all excited whenever I start a recipe with bacon, and this one is no exception. It’s certainly not traditional ratatouille but I believe you’ll find this a tad sweeter and with a slight bite on your tongue. The inclusion of bell pepper might bake you think twice about that addition, but go ahead and give it a try.  I believe you’ll enjoy it. 


  • 6 slices of bacon, coarsely chopped.
  • 1 Vidalio or other sweet Onion – Chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 zucchini, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 3 squash, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 2 red bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 2 tomatoes – medium size, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, sliced off the cob
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 sprinkle of Basil


  1. Fry the bacon pieces until crisp, set aside.
  2. While the bacon is frying, prepare the other ingredients by chopping, dicing, slicing, etc.
  3. In a large skillet – 12-inch or larger, place the bacon pieces and red pepper. Saute the red pepper until beginning to soften, on low heat, about five (5) minutes.
  4. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about five (5) minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and saute until the onions begin to brown. 1-2 minutes more.
  6. Add the cubed zucchini and squash and mix with the other ingredients. 
  7. Add the paprika and cajun seasoning and saute another (6) minutes, mixing occasionally.
  8. Add the tomatoes and blend, saute for two (2) minutes until they become soft.
  9. Add the corn kernels and blend with other ingredients, saute for additional three (3) minutes.
  10. Remove skillet from heat.
  11. Sprinkle with fresh basil and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  12. Serve alone or as side. Enjoy!

Kielbasa & Cabbage Soup (Quick & Easy)


Kielbasa and Cabbage Soup

Total time to prepare – Approximately 45 minutes. Serves eight (8).

 –– My Polish heritage gets all excited whenever I find a recipe with Kielbasa. Fond memories of my parents at the kitchen table return with the aroma of fresh Polish sausage. My mother-in-law even prepared Polish sausage every Christmas. This soup adds another ingredient that is pleasing to my roots – Cabbage. Darn near perfect combo. And this soup is quick and easy. Enjoy. 


  • 1 lb. Kielbasa, cut into bite-size cubes.
  • 1 Onions – Chopped
  • 16 oz. Cole Slaw mix – shredded cabbage with carrots
  • 2 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 32 oz. Beef Broth
  • 16 oz. Chicken Broth
  • 1 can – 12 oz. beer
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Carraway seeds
  • 4 cups French Fried Onions, divided in half


  1. Place kielbasa and onion in a dutch oven on medium heat. Brown the kielbasa and soften the onion for about five (5) minutes.
  2. Add the coleslaw mix and saute until tender, about another five (5) minutes.
  3. Add Minced Garlic, beef broth, chicken broth, beer, black pepper, carraway seeds and two (2) cups French Fried Onions. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.
  4. Remove cover and simmer for ten (10) to fifteen (15) minutes until flavors are blended. 
  5. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with remaining French Fried Onions.

Zombie Deer!

animal animal photography buck cold
Photo by Devon Rockola on

Zombie Deer! – When I picked up Wyanette in a rural suburb, she cautioned me to drive carefully on the darkened roads and to watch for Zombie Deer. Sure, I said, wondering if the woman in my back seat was just making her way home after a long night out. It was 6 A.M.

But she went on to explain that Zombie Deer are real, or at least the term. I did some research.

Zombie Deer are afflicted with Chronic Wasting Disease, (CWD), which has been around since 1966 and was first diagnosed in Colorado. It’s now spread to at least sixteen (16) states and is no joke. You can Google or YouTube search and see for yourselves. The animals look awful with sores on the exterior of their bodies, loss of fur, salivate profusely, have no fear of humans, and are lethargic. Most notably, the disease deteriorates their brain cells. Sad.

There is no known cure at this time and the disease is spreading slowly across the Midwest and South.

Thank you, Ms. Wyanette. I don’t believe this is a precursor to the forecasted Zombie Apocalypse, but then, I don’t know it is not either.

Supportive While Intoxicated (S.W.I.)

girl wearing white and black striped long sleeved shirt jumping outdoor
Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina on

Supportive While Intoxicated (S.W.I.) – Three women in all and this was Lecia’s first ever rideshare. This was a girls’ night out, or in this case, a women’s night out. All the ladies were in their late thirties. I should caution that was my judgment (their age) and if I have made an error in my perception, please forgive me.

We started our ride with Lecia talking about her philosophy in life. Live for today. Carpe Diem. We chatted about my recent responsibilities as a caregiver for a friend in another state. She jumped aboard the support bandwagon, even though she was well intoxicated Yep, the trio were on their way to a bar for her aunt’s birthday. The celebration had already begun. Giggles were seeping through the windows as we drove.

I perceived Lecia’s life had not been easy. She was far from wealthy but her facial beauty shined through some rough lifelines. Yet she was supportive of me. I was her rideshare driver. I was that fly on the wall observing and noting humorous behavior for my website. She emphasized that I would be blessed for caregiving, perhaps not now but in the future. My time would come. I didn’t want to tell her that my time was running out. I was probably going to get that reward in the afterlife. Thank you, Lecia and friends. I hope you all had a safe and fun evening. You earned my respect.


What is a Good Mother?

woman carrying baby near grass
Photo by Creation Hill on

A Good Mother – I know very little about being a parent and raising children. I admit it. But I can still recognize sacrifice and the unusual characteristics that classify a mom as a “good mother.” First, such a mother must place the interests of their child above themselves. Second, I think one’s life must revolve around the child. That youngster is the center of their universe. And perhaps last is that matters of the heart take a back seat to the love for that child.

Such is the case of Patty, who I had the privilege of driving from her job as a nanny to her home. She gave up her job earning about $70,000 per year and is now a part-time nanny while caring for her 1 ½ year-old son. She could toss him in day care and would be justified to do that. After all, she would be able to provide a better material life for her child. But there must be a value for the nurturing that a mother provides. We seem to have lost track of that.

Where’s the father? We have lots of single moms out there and it’s easy to pass judgment. In this case, the father lives in South Aftrica and while she tried to make that lifestyle fit, the educational opportunities and social atmosphere led her back to the good old U.S.A. Remember America? There’s been some controversy of late with some proclaiming America was never a great country. That hurts me when I think of the sacrifices my father and our forefathers gave to create this America where we have supposed religious freedom and choices that many countries do not have. We are far from perfect, as is our form of democracy, but we are far better than any country in the world in allowing our citizens freedoms of choice.

Is American better than two hundred years ago? 1819. Slavery. War. Oppression of women.

What about one hundred years ago? 1919. World War I. An influenza pandemic that killed more people world-wide than any other event in recorded history. 20-40 million people. Dead. The Great Depression was approaching. Women didn’t yet have the right to vote. That was coming one year later, 1920.

We can go on. I want to offer kudos to Patty. She’s in her late thirties and recognized right away that she had to place the care of her son above all else in her life. She practices that lifestyle that requires she struggles financially but her son has her emotional support. Full-time.

Toss in a prayer for Patty. I applaud her.

World Cup


white and black soccer ball theme plant pot
Photo by Pixabay on

World Cup – Chris is a world-ranked squash player who I delivered to a tournament and wished him good fortune in the competition. He was inquisitive about Atlanta and our public transportation, which is less than satisfactory. (My opinion, sorry MARTA) He asked if I was aware of any plans of the city regarding the upcoming World Cup of Soccer in 2026. I know how to spell the sport’s name, but my knowledge of the game stops there. I did meet Phil Woosnan on several occasions and somewhere I have a soccer ball that he signed to me. I only recall that he was a key to bringing soccer to the United States many years ago. He has since passed away and recall him as a kind-hearted soul.

But evidently the World Cup claim is true. A few days later, I took a soccer fan to a bar to watch a game and I asked him. He confirmed. He said the World Cup would be played in three cities, London, Atlanta, and the third city that I cannot recall. The playoffs will reduce the teams until the final that will take place in Atlanta. Wow. I wonder if the city will build that outer perimeter now. They started thinking and planning in 1985. Not a shovel of dirt has ever been turned. Anyhow, get ready, soccer fans. We are only seven years away from a global event here in ATL. And I thought Super Bowl LIII was a big rideshare event!

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