Five Things I Learned This Summer.


I am so glad September is here! My summer was just flat-out crazy. I’m starting a new business and it’s been a bit overwhelming. I just didn’t have time to do the baking, cooking and canning I had hoped for, and I didn’t always eat well either. But, I learned a few things this summer and I thought I should share them with you before I forget. So here goes…

LESSON #1. Bacon wrapped hot dogs rock. They’re just so bad they’re good.
Enough said.


Bacon wrapped hot dogs are AMAZING!

LESSON #2 – I can be a vegan. For just about 5 days.
When my garden really got going this summer and my friends started dropping off their extra produce on our doorstep, I decided to try eating vegan. Really it was more zucchinean. I basically ate zucchini for breakfast, lunch and dinner – five days in a row. Along with my dad’s homegrown potatoes, a few beans, strawberries, blackberries, cucumbers, and carrots from my garden. Marvin thought I was nuts. I felt amazing. And it was so easy!

But then I really started to miss cheese. Bye-bye, vegan.


Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai. Delicious and vegan.

LESSON#3 I don’t balance. I teeter-totter.
And finally I’m okay with it.

I know, everything in moderation, right? I’ve tried for years to embrace that philosophy, but it’s just not my style. Take exercise for example. Sometimes I’m really motivated. Here is my workout schedule from the second week in July (yes, it was written down on my calendar):

teeter totter

My life is a teeter totter.

Monday: swim 6:00 am
Tuesday: run with Jeanne 5:30 pm
Wednesday: spin class 12:00 pm
Thursday: weights 9:30 am
Friday: bike ride 7:00 am

Apparently, I was feeling like quite the athlete, because I actually did all of these things in one week.

But the next week I forgot all about exercising, drank several G & Ts, and spent most of my time in front of the computer.

Okay, wait… no judging! That week in front of the computer was actually fun and productive – just in a totally different way.

A few days later the teeter-totter bounced up again and I found myself in a Pilates class. I like Pilates every now and then. It makes me feel good after several days of “desk time.” It’s the same with food. Bacon wrapped hot dogs and a week five days of eating vegan are good for me. It’s not exactly moderation, but it all does seem to even out and, best of all, I don’t get bored.

For me, living on a teeter-totter is actually how I stay balanced.

LESSON #4. How I like it is the right way to eat it.

On several occasions this summer I ordered salmon and was told that it would be prepared medium rare. I’m a foodie from Seattle so I get that salmon should be a little translucent in the center, but, honestly, I just don’t like it that way. In fact, I like salmon slightly over-cooked. So this summer I decided to just ask for my salmon well done and it didn’t bother me one bit, even when the server shook her head and asked where I was visiting from.

Asking for what I want greatly improves the odds that I will get what I want.
Pretty simple.

grilled salmon fish steak

Yes, I like salmon well done.

LESSON #5. It pays to be original.

One of the first recipes I posted on A Passionate Plate was Zucchini Praline Cake. I made it one afternoon because I had an abundance of zucchini in the fridge and Marvin had been mentioning maple donuts… it was a totally original idea and it tasted amazingly good. Well, a few weeks ago I was contacted by the food editor at The Guardian, asking if my recipe could be included in their Top 10 Courgette recipes. There are thousands of zucchini recipes online, but she picked mine. 🙂 Well, I didn’t actually get paid to be original, but let’s just say it paid off.

A nice reminder that an original idea is definitely worth sharing and I hope to have more original recipes for you very soon.

– Mary

Zucchini Praline Cake

Zucchini Praline Cake from A Passionate Plate, featured on


  1. Jeannie says:

    LOVE the teeter-totter analogy! It all balances out in the end. Great lesson; and congrats on the Guardian post- that’s awesome!

  2. chris garrett says:

    Very nice Mary

  3. Jim Oswald says:

    I loved the latest blog. I laughed out loud at some of the creative verbiage, e.g., “zichinean” (we’ve been there!), “bye, bye vegan” (been there too, with the South Beach diet), “. . . feeling quite the athlete . . . .” (been there), “Marvin has been mentioning maple donuts . . . .” (I laughed out loud!)

    Jim Oswald

  4. Patti Bryant says:

    Mary, I like my salmon well done too! I must try the zucchini praline cake, it sounds wonderful.

    • MaryMiller says:

      Patti – the zucchini praline cake was inspired by Helen’s zucchini bread recipe. It is moist and yummy and the maple icing is just so good! I hope you give it a try. I think your grandkids would like it!

  5. Helen says:

    A+ Mary!

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