Stuffed Peppers For Mara: Our Meeting – Part 2 With Quinoa And Feta

“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.” – AA Milne

It is funny when you think back about friendships, there are some that I could tell you exactly the moment we met or when a friendship began and others that become the very fiber of who we are so gently over time I could never recall its genesis. Mara is one of the former stories; I could never forget or exchange how I met Mara even if I tried.

We were probably two years old and both playing at the old Dolores Park, and by that I mean the real Dolores Park before yuppies took over with their pampered children before the pretty sleek new structures existed that now fill kids’ days. Back in the late 1970s we played on a wooden boat where children inevitably got large deep imbedded splinters that didn’t stop them from exploring their world from the ship’s surface. We climbed the green hill and rolled down to the bottom under palm trees and fog. In that sand box in the heart of a youthful and far different Mission District is where we met. The story goes that I was peeing in the sand box, but I have always protested that it must have been someone else, even going so far as saying it was my own mother who was peeing where all we wee children were playing in the now damp and dirty sand. Mara was in the sand box of infamy and when her mother met my mother and her friends drinking six packs of beer beside their children, she decided this was who she wanted to be friends with and raise her daughter near.

Our mothers and our young friendships flourished alongside each other. I was there when Mara said her first full sentence. In 1979 a group of women took their then toddlers to see the movie HAIR at the Castro Movie Theater. Moved by the infectious Rock and Roll and the Age of Aquarius, all of the kids danced through the theater naked, except for their diapers, making our own music that I can only imagine the other patrons where not too thrilled by. Our group was asked to leave. All of us mothers and children—we danced our evicted asses out of the movie theater just as Mara said her first full sentence “we get kicked out of movie”. The mothers laughed so hard that the story goes Mara kept saying the sentence as we danced down Castro and most likely right back to the same Dolores Park where we had met.

To my dear dance loving spirit and to your mom, my other heart of hearts another stuffed pepper. You have both stuffed my life with joy, compassion, adventure, laughter, and so much to be grateful for. I will never stop thinking of how a friendship can start by peeing where you play and the person who puts up with that is someone to hold onto for life.

I love you forever, even longer,


Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Feta:

This recipe is something I came up with when trying to use up extra peppers, feta, quinoa, and arugula. It has a grate combination of sweet and savory and excellent vegetarian high protein source. It comes together in about half an hour and I love it with all of the different variations.


5 large bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange, or a combination)

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

¼ cup pine nuts

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup whatever onion you have on hand chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

2 cups arugula or baby spinach

1 cup cut tomato into dices

Cilantro chopped (optional. I love the frozen pre chopped cilantro)

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup feta cheese diced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the peppers in half-length wise and remove seeds. Brush the pepper halves with oil, inside and out. Place cut-side up on an oiled baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender but still holding their shape, about 15 minutes.

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly with cool water. Bring 2 cups of water to boil and add rinsed quinoa. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to the lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes covered off of heat.

In a dry skillet toast pine nuts being careful not to burn as this happens very fast. Place pine nuts in dish to side.

Add olive oil to pan and sauté onions until translucent and then add garlic and arugula/spinach until wilted. Add tomato and continue to sauté until tomatoes burst and release juices. Add cilantro, salt and pepper.

Remove veggies from heat and add quinoa, half of the feta cheese, and half of the pine nuts.

Fill the roasted pepper halves with the quinoa/veggie mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese and pine nuts and return to the oven for 5-10 min until the cheese is melted.

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01 2013

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  1. Mara Siegel #

    Ramona my dearest friend, you continue to inspire and touch my life in ways I may never be able to truly articulate. I am honored to be a part of your life and journeys! I am so excited to see what this year has in store for both of us! I love you forever and longer!XOXOXOXOXO


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