Monday, March 30, 2009
I've had a horrible virus, still do.
The kind of virus where taking a shower is a huge accomplishment that results in shaky legs and the need to lie down before putting on some mismatched sweats that once belonged to your husband. The kind where the Type A in me just has to let go and let D just try to be both mom and dad.
My goals today: to get a little laundry done and drink a gallon of juice and let my brain melt from daytime TV.
Friday, March 27, 2009
One of the fads that I never quite got the hang of was the Jordache jeans with the fat handled comb in the pocket. This may have been a trend that bled over from the seventies into the eighties. No matter what the date of it's relativeness, it's still a source of deep and conflicted shame for me. (Not really, but teen angst is so exquisite and hysterical in it's pain, I just can't come up with the words well enough to describe it. Not without waxing on too much or laughing a bit anyway.)
You all know I come from a long line of frugal fanatics. As kids, we always had everything that we needed, but not everything that we wanted (a pretty good balance that makes for good kid rearing if I do say so). The Comb Debacle, as I like to think of it now, is a great example of need vs. want. I wanted the big fat comb that would fit in the back pocket of my deliciously embroidered pocket of my almost close, but not quite Jordache wanna be jeans. I discussed the requirement of this fat comb with great detail with my mom while she cooked dinner. We talked about it in the car on the way to some miscellaneous school activity. For good measure, I talked about it again before bed. On first awakening, I mentioned, yet again, the importance and relevance of a fat handled comb peeking out from one's right cheek pocket. (For some reason, it had to be the right side. I'm a rightie. This worked for me.)
Mom listened intently. Or, as I now know as a mom, she appeared to be listening while nodding, smiling, and agreeing, all the while most likely thinking about how many eggs are left in the fridge and whether the washing machine would make it through just one more year.
She made a trip to the drugstore that day. We lived in a small town, pickings were slim. You had either the Ben Franklin ("Dime Store") or Woll's Pharmacy. When I got home from school, I rushed into the house, eager to see my new. fat. handled. just like the cool kids had. comb.
I'm such a good daughter. I know that now. I know that what took place that evening was an Oscar worthy performance. For mom, in her thriftiness had purchased the cheaper, multi-pack of combs. In it, was a wide variety of combs in many colors. One even was marbled with purple and blue. There was a small fat handled comb, that most certainly would not peek beguilingly out of my right back pocket, but would merely create the outline of a short, fat handled comb in my pocket. Not. Quite. Right.
I smiled. I said a quiet thank you, holding back tears. I knew, money was tight. I couldn't complain, and I most certainly couldn't demand that the combs be returned in exchange for just one comb that would cost more than this entire package. We could use these combs, and, after all, mom had brought home a fat handled comb, right?
And then I saw it. The pink, rat tail comb. Do you know what a rat tail comb is? It's a regular, close toothed comb, with a long, sharp, pointed handle capable of parting hair within an inch of it's life, or poking your eye out.
A light bulb moment long before Oprah coined the phrase: I would start a new trend. I would be the girl with her own individual style. I would put the rat tail comb in my right back pocket and legions of teens would begin to follow ME. There would be a rush on rat tail combs and I'd manufacture my own sparkly brand. I would have a featured article in Seventeen Magazine. Maybe I would even meet Michael Jackson and he would fall madly in love with me and we'd live together on Neverland Ranch and sing Thriller together with our matching white, sequined gloves.
(Insert dream sequence blurry lines here...)
You see where this is going, don't you? Do I really have to talk about sitting down in my first class with Mr. Erhart? That first sit after carefully placing my new trend setting comb in my right back pocket? The one where the rat tail scraped a six inch gash up my back and being too cool for school, I suffered quietly through.
Thankfully, the comb fad faded. I moved on to black fingernail polish on nine inch nails, fluorescent dangly earrings, and leg warmers. I still hold on to the defense that I was a fashion victim when the photos surface.
Funny side story, when I helped my parents move out of their five bedroom farmhouse, I found that pink rat tail comb. I almost kept it.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
American Wife: A Novel (New York Times Notable Books) by Curtis Sittenfeld
This book surprised me. A novel, based on the life of Laura Bush. How interesting could that be? I never really thought about Mrs. Bush as anything other than in the background of a man I have no respect for. It was difficult for me to think of this as a novel. Of course I know that none of it could be trusted to be completely true. It was a novel after all, but throughout the book, I only pictured the characters as the Bushes.
True or not, this novel helped me to sympathize with Mrs. Bush. She's an extremely intelligent woman, so I can imagine her life has been challenging with her husband. This novel was a page turner. I'd definitely recommend, however, there were some parts of it that I found went a little too far. Perhaps it was because I had trouble separating truth from fiction, but some of the descriptions were a little disturbing. (Even I have respect for the office, even if I don't like the performance of the individual, so perhaps that was what bothered me? That in my mind, I couldn't separate the characters from their real life counterparts and just didn't want to delve into that part of them.) Alice's trip to the one bathroom at the Blackwell compound is one example. The description of Charlie in a wedding photo, another one. I just think the characters personalities could have been fully depicted without going this far. It didn't take much to figure them out, holding back a bit would have suited the novel better. I found myself revolted rather than enlightened. It's still a highly recommended read, but I had to discuss that to feel like I'd done a full review.
Mighty Queens of Freeville, The: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them by Amy Dickinson
Amy of the column Ask Amy hits a home run with this memoir. Divorce and single motherhood run in Amy's family. She eventually ends up right back at home surrounded by the people that love her most. Her wit and wisdom shine in every chapter. Claiming that she "makes all the mistakes so you don't have to" has made her relatable. She tells her life story with an irreverence that makes her oh so likable. Definitely recommend.
Testimony: A Novel by Anita Shreve
It's not often that I don't finish a book. I'll muddle through most whether their challenge is a difficult read or a fluffy story. I love language. I love each writer's individual style and voice. Shreve is a great contemporary author, but she misses the mark with this one. The book is not compelling even though it's premise is attention getting. The story of a sexual scandal at a private school told by many voices could have been riveting. I found it merely muddied and ill conceived and quit reading about 20 pages from the ending. At that point, I didn't care enough about the characters to see where they ended up.
I took a bunch of books on cd out of the library to put on my iPod. Great to listen to while working around the house or out walking. I'm such a reader that this is a great way for me to fit in even more books!
Fresh baked bread.
Bread Machine Third Bread
Named for the three types of flour that this recipe contains, this is a very old recipe. Serves 8 at 6 WW Points per BIG serving. This is great toasted with honey.
2 1/2 tsp yeast
3/4 cup(s) light rye flour
3 cup(s) Flour, wheat, white, Bread
3/4 cup(s) uncooked cornmeal
1/2 cup(s) honey
1 1/2 cup(s) water, very warm
Place in your bread machine. Set at: 1 1/2 lb loaf, medium crust, regular cycle. Or knead, rise until double and bake.
The new cactus and palm trees that friends brought us back from Arizona. (And the sparkly rock that has a special place in the cactus pot!) How nice to get surprise souvenirs from friends!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I'm getting a cold, but I don't have time for it. I have so much to do and not enough time to do it as it is.
So, my throat isn't sore, my voice isn't gone, my head isn't throbbing, my body aching, and my nose running.
I feel like crawling back under the covers and hiding, but I can't. It's cloudy and rainowing or snaining (rain + snow). Oh it would be the perfect day to snuggle in.
So it's Vitamin C, Zinc, Ibuprofen, and hit the ground running.
Will skip my workout, I'm not a complete glutton for punishment.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Spring has seemed to have sprung, so we're rarely inside! It's Young One's Spring Break, so we're busy having a fabulous time enjoying our Staycation! Friends, friends, friends, an eye doctor appointment (yuck), Nerf wars, and relaxation.
We're enjoying having absolutely no schedule.
I'll be back to posting soon!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
- Loved my cooking. It wouldn't matter what I made, he would rave. And have seconds.
- Would patiently do all the work it entailed to take us fishing, including untangeling all the fishing lines, lures, handle the bait, move the boat around, and cleaned and cooked the fish. He never complained. Not once.
- Always listened to me and sided with me, commisserated with me, even if I was wrong.
- Made me feel treasured, the epitome of daddy's little girl.
Friday, March 13, 2009
An old, primitive oil painting.
I spent less than $30 and got the above plus a pair of jeans, two pairs of crop pants, two pairs of shorts for D, a Simpson's book for Young One, and a Columbia shirt for me.
We had lunch and enjoyed a girl's day out. It's so fun when your mom is also your friend!
Jim's biopsy came back cancerous, not a surprise, but the good news is that it's localized and hasn't seemed to spread. We're continuing to pray for him. He's a tough cookie.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
It's funny how life throws you curve balls sometimes. My Aunt died of cancer last Spring. They just found a tumor in my Uncle, her husband. There really are no words to describe what their kids are going through. The nightmare begins again.
We're hoping and praying that the cancer has not spread and that he has a lot more years of fishing to do!
In the meantime, if you could add a big, teddy-bear kind of guy to your list of prayers and positive thoughts, I'd sure appreciate it. His name is Jim and he's a really cool dude.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
1 box cake mix, devil's food
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 egg white
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp fat-free skim milk
8 TB margarine, Brummel and Brown
2 tsp vanilla extract
While cake is cooling, make chocolate curls. Melt 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 TB vegetable shortening. Spread chocolate on cookie sheet and freeze until chocolate no longer shows a fingerprint when pressed. Using a spatula (to make big curls) or a citrus zester (which is what I used), make curls or chocolate spaghetti (as Young One put it!) Simply push the chocolate with the spatula or quickly pull your zester through it. If it breaks, the chocolate is too cold. If it melts, it's too warm. Take in and out of the freezer at will! Place chocolate curls in the freezer until ready to use.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Homemade French Onion Soup
Roasted Turkey Breast
Oven Baked Fries
Thai Garlic Pork
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Dijon Crusted Chicken Breasts
Baked Wild Rice
Green Beans with Sesame Oil
Shrimp and Asparagus Gnocchi
Braised Pork Chops
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
That got me thinking. Somewhere around here was my old bread maker. I got it at a garage sale that my mom took me to in my teeny, tiny hometown one summer. The lady gave it to me for nothing. Like fifty cents or something like that. She never did get the hang of it, so it was basically brand new. There wasn't a spot on it or a crumb in it.
At the time, I had visions of making our daily bread, well, daily. Surprise, surprise, it didn't happen. Not only did I realize that if you make a one pound loaf of bread every day, you're going to eat that one pound loaf of goodness, every day. And that one pound of bread will equal five pounds on your butt. (I'm sure there's a scientific study out there somewhere to prove this.)
Bread makers were such huge sellers that in their prime, there was one under every Christmas tree in America. Now, they get relegated to garages, basements, or if you're me, in that little cupboard above the refrigerator that you wonder what people fit up there. The Atkins diet killed the bread maker industry. True story.
Now, as we're slowly moving back to the sanity of the "everything in moderation" diet, bread is making a come back. There was a huge Internet explosion when the No Knead Bread recipe hit. Great recipe, but not so great for busy families. I think with the "economic downturn", we're going to see more people going back to the basics. And with that, we just might see homemade bread back on the table. Maybe it's time to dig that bread maker out, huh?
I had a sick kid home today, so I thought this would be the best time to pull down that bread maker and use it. Unfortunately, the bread recipe that I chose was so dense that the motor overheated. My fifty cent investment just might have kicked the bucket! Thankfully, the recipe was well kneaded and ready to hit the oven to rise.
We're having homemade vegetable beef soup fresh from the freezer tonight for dinner. This bread will be delightful with it. (Update: it was amazing! Next time, I would have let it rise longer, but I was crunched for time. Will definitely make it again.)
Bread Maker Oatmeal Molasses Bread
My Aunt Marilyn makes fantastic molasses bread. This is close to her recipe, but lightened up tremendously. In fact, there's no fat in it and very little sugar. It makes a one pound loaf, which serves 8 at 3 WW Points per serving.
1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup skim milk
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 TB molasses
1 TB white or raw sugar
Place in bread maker, following manufacturer's recommendations. Use light cycle. Or knead by hand (oh my), make on the manual cycle of your bread maker, or use your dough hook in your food processor or mixer. Cover with a damp towel and let rise until double in size. Bake at 350 degrees until it sounds hollow when tapped and is a golden brown, approximately 40 minutes. Check after 25 minutes for doneness.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sick day today. Poor kid has 101 degree temp and feels just like "crap" to quote him.
I don't know how I did this when I worked full time. How do you do it?
All I had to do was cancel coffee with some girlfriends and do my errands another day. I've spent today playing nurse, boredom buster, and mom.
And you know what? I love my job! I'm so lucky and blessed to be able to be at home again.
I'm Queen of the Condiments. Actually, this is a little known title.
Yep, did the pageant circuit when I was just a tot. Worked my way through Little Miss Mustard and Princess of the Pepperocinis. I was second runner up in the Duchess of Dijon contest.
I do love condiments. I remember my father in law opening my refrigerator, shaking his head, and asking, "Well, just where in the hell is the ketchup anyway?"
Low fat and low calorie cooking can be tasteless. You've got to spice it up a bit and a great, low cal way to do that is to keep lots of condiments on hand. Sriracha, spicy brown mustard, horseradish mustard, hoisin sauce, HP sauce, BBQ sauce, Wasabi, and salsas are all stocked at my house.
I'm always on the look out for more. Just bought a lovely lemon sauce that an area Vietnamese restaurant just started bottling up. Can't wait to give that one a try.
Monastery Mustard, Divinely Original is one of my favorites. A friend brought some back from a trip to the Mustard Museum* and shared it with me. I've been addicted every since. So strong it will clear up your sinuses, it will spice up a Smartdog like no other mustard out there. When I was a kid, we loved horseradish mustard. That was good and very similar, but there's nun better than this.
Nun better! Get it?
God, I'm good.
Got any that I haven't tried yet? What are your favorite condiments?
*Even I couldn't make this up. There is one. Mustard lovers of the world make annual pilgrimages to this holy shrine to the little mustard seed. They're online gift shop is fab.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1/3 cup whole almonds, optional
4 tablespoons white sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
In medium bowl, Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In large bowl stir in milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to large bowl; beat well. Add chocolate chips and walnuts, stir well.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Poke almonds into tops of unbaked muffins. Sprinkle muffins with sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
1/4 cup water
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
This eggless chocolate cake recipe has been a family favorite for years. You can actually put all of the ingredients in a 9x13 inch pan and then mix with a fork, right in the pan! My mom once left the cake in the pan when she baked it! It's a Depression era recipe that just might work it's way back into popularity during the Recession. I made it in a mixing bowl and put into cupcakes for the bake sale. About 5 WW Points per cupcake, I'm working on a lower Points recipe. Stay tuned.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water
Mix all and beat well with an electric mixer. Place in muffin tins. Or mix all ingredients in the pan and bake. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-25 minutes , or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Makes 24 cupcakes.
I frosted the cupcakes with buttercream frosting, half vanilla, and half with chocolate buttercream and pressed chopped Andes mints on top. You can find a basic buttercream on allrecipes.com (Sorry, sick kid here, no time)
It's a word that strikes fear in the hearts of most people trying to eat a healthily. There's nothing healthy about bacon. Let's admit it, it's fried fat, plain and simple. There are people that hate it. And there are people who bow down to it. Take Bacon Freak. You gotta love their tagline: Bacon is meat candy. Now, I'm not THAT bad. But, at least now you all know where to go to get your lard on.
I've subscribed to Cooking Light for years. Great magazine. Great philosophy about eating only delicious, healthy recipes made from the finest of ingredients. And these fine ingredients include real butter and bacon! Their food is very Weight Watchers friendly, but adds that fresh twist that I haven't found elsewhere. A lot of their recipes are a jumping off point for me. I find that I can lighten them up even more or that I want to put my own spin on a flavor combination.
This recipe was inspired by one of theirs.
If you're not familiar with pierogies, you've just got to try them. Little pasta pockets filled with seasoned mashed potatoes. My sister-in-law's little Grandma Helen shared some of her genuine, homemade by a Polish grandmother, ones that were out of this world. I took a cooking class from another Polish grandmother who showed us the unbelievable amount of work that goes into making them. I'm not that ambitious. No, that's not true. I just haven't found the time in my life to make them, yet.
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pierogies
I love this recipe because it's easy, it's quick to the table, and it's delicious. Rich and sinful tasting, it combines pierogies, caramelized onions, bacon, and peas. Simple and delightful. 7 WW Points per serving.
One box of frozen pierogies
8 slices bacon
2 large onions, sliced
1 tsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
reduced fat sour cream
Place pierogies in a microwave safe casserole, cover with hot water, and cook on high for 6 minutes. Let stand in microwave, while you do the rest. Cook bacon, drain all but a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add onions, thyme, and sugar and saute until onions are caramelized. Add peas and cook for one minute. Add pierogies, tossing to combine all ingredients. Serve 3 pierogies with 1 TB of low or no fat sour cream.
Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!