Foodies…and not

English: The logo of Food Network.My major TV indulgence is Food Network. Most of my TV time comes when we’re in Metlakatla. When Rob covers a weekend of call there, I use the time to catch up with online tasks, and usually have Food Network running in the background. I’ve learned a lot from programs over the years. But some are just painful to watch. The current episodes of the Worst Cooks in America are right up there. I mean, how can anyone be that bad in the kitchen? Really?

With all the websites, blogs, cookbooks, cooking shows etc., offering recipes and cooking how-to advice…to say nothing of friends and family who could mentor…is it really possible to be as clueless as these people are? I mean, get in the kitchen and try something…start banging around, learn by doing. There are YouTube videos that show how to cut veggies, how to bake, how to cook almost anything you can imagine. There’s literally an embarrassment of riches when it comes to resources for home cooks.

You could make that argument for a lot of things. But while I don’t have to know how to repair my plumbing or rebuild my car engine, I like to eat pretty regularly. That’s such a mystery to me…how could something as basic as food be unexplored?  I understand some people just aren’t fascinated with all things food (unlike me and most of the rest of the world). But even if it isn’t a consuming interest, everyone has to eat something. Wouldn’t it be better it the something was delicious?

Food games and adventures  for family and friends:

~Get to know a little more about your group’s food loves. Here are some questions to share around the table. Works best if you’re eating something delicious while you share! Work your way through the whole list, or pick just a couple of questions. I definitely recommend including the last one…always good to associate memory with food. You may be surprised by the responses.

  1. What is your favorite food?
  2. Favorite food/dish in a specific category (main dish, finger foods, comfort food, dessert, breakfast…whatever you want to choose)
  3. Favorite restaurant…fast food, local restaurants, chains, diners, etc…
  4. Favorite chef (well-known from TV or author, or someone you know in person)
  5. Who is your favorite home cook? In your family? Among your friends?
  6. What’s your favorite holiday food dish?
  7. Favorite grocery store food item (ice cream, cookies, chips, etc.)
  8. Favorite international cuisine?
  9. Worst thing you ever ate?
  10. Best thing you ever ate?
  11. Bonus question…best memory associated with food

~Family members cook!  Give each one in the family a night each week, or once a month (whatever works) to be the head chef.  Everyone else helps prep or clean up. Each person can showcase their favorite foods, type of cuisine, etc. Have breakfast for dinner, let a child experiment with flavors (that’s how my son invented cinnamon toast grilled ham and cheese…not a flavor combination I would repeat, but it was a learning experience for him); or choose dishes new to everyone to make and taste.

~Mystery food! Let everyone in your family choose a dish or ingredient or cooking method no one has tried. Try it! Have a mystery food dinner night once a month, or as often as you choose. Rotate through everyone’s choices, then start over. Have a prize for the food that is most unusual.

~Experiment with planting vegetables. If you have kids, lots of fun ahead with this! But even if you don’t, it’s great to learn a bit about gardening, and see what you can do, with or without a yard. No yard, no problem! Check out container gardening. Again, there’s a wealth of information and resources online.

~Check out CSAs…Community Supported Agriculture is another way to access fresh fruit, vegetables, and other items from local farmers and producers. Visit http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ to learn more.

~Visit your local Farmers’ Market. I love shopping at farmers’ markets and buying from local vendors showcasing their products. In addition to fresh produce, you can often find vendors selling breads, honey, cut flowers, herbal preparations, essential oils, simple breakfast or lunch fare, and a wide variety of crafts, jewelry. This is another wonderful way to support local agriculture and eat clean.

~Share the shopping! If you have kids at home, (and they’re old enough) have each one plan the shopping for the week, and participate in the actual marketing. Doing this will give them experience in budgeting, planning menus, checking food inventory, layout of markets, and familiarity with foods they may not know. There’s a lot of education waiting at the grocery!

~Have a cook-off event. I’ve seen this done with local restaurant chefs here in Ketchikan. Just copy your favorite food contest show…choose a set theme or have mystery ingredients; make it a one event evening or a multi-night contest. Have prizes, or do the whole thing just for the fun and glory of choosing a victor.

~Form a dinner / supper club. Make up the rules that work for the group. Meet once a month or once a quarter. Have the dinners revolve around seasons, or events: birthdays, sports, anything you choose. Each host can choose a menu, or put menus or types of cuisine in a dish and draw to see what each host will cook for the group. Or each dinner can be a joint effort, with everyone who attends bringing a portion of the planned menu; rotate the house for the event, and share the cooking duties.

~Plan a progressive dinner. These are retro, but so fun. Great for larger groups, but take some planning. If you’ve never done this, here’s how it works. You have a host for appetizers, a host for the main course, and a host for dessert. Or if you want to come up with more courses, add more hosts, but you need at least three. Guests move from house to house, (or venue to venue…doesn’t have to be hosted in a home setting). The host from each location moves with the group to the next stop, so everyone gets to enjoy the party. You can have an overall theme, or each course can stand alone. I think it’s best to have a theme, but do whatever works for the group. Decide on a budget for the event and have everyone chip in to cover expenses. Just another way to make food fun, and enjoy a night with family or friends. Go a step further and combine the food event with a fundraiser for your favorite charity, school program, youth activity, etc., Everyone wins!

Enjoy! And if you have variations…what food adventures do you share with family and friends?… I’d love to hear about them.

Saturday favorites

I’ve been collecting a few suggestions…in the spirit of paying it forward these are some things I’d recommend to everyone! 🙂

Getting ready to do some baking. I never get tired of playing in the kitchen! That’s why I hauled my Kitchen Aid mixer to this little apartment, along with a few other essentials. Here are a mix of my current favorites, both savory and sweet, tools and foods.

  • Parchment paper – what a difference this makes in baking. Easy clean up. I particularly love using parchment paper for baking brownies…leave a generous margin of paper hanging over the sides of the brownie pan and just lift out the brownies when baked. Easier to cut brownies out of the pan. When I first tried parchment paper, I was frugal, using it only for certain things.  Now it comes out almost any time I turn on the oven.
  • Silicone baking pans – I’m only beginning to use these, but what I’ve used so far I like. The added bonus: you can shape all sorts of stuff in these…handmade soap or other crafts. Multi-purpose!
  • Cauliflower “mashed potatoes” – I’ll admit when I make this version of the traditional mash I add a little butter and sometimes sour cream to the mix…the flavor is so good I hardly notice the substitution of cauliflower for potato. Best tip: if you want a little more body to your “mash,” add a small potato or two to the head of cauliflower. You’ll still have a lower carb dish, but it will be a little sturdier…maybe a good step down from the all-potato mash.
  • Big wide shreds of parmesan…I can sometimes find this wide shred in the grocery, usually in the specialty cheese section, but if you can’t find it, buy a gorgeous big hunk of parm and use a vegetable peeler to make your own wide, luxurious shreds to top pasta bakes, salads, or whatever needs a little more cheesy goodness.
  • A new favorite, I’ve only recently been roasting garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas. Delicious and simple. Start with two cans of garbanzo beans, drain and rinse. Spread the beans on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, chili powder, or any seasoning that strikes your fancy. Bake/roast at 400° for approximately 30 minutes. I say “approximately” because you may want them to be more or less crunchy. My advice is to check the beans after the first 30 minutes and decide if they’re done to your taste. They’re like popcorn, only better. Good for snacking, and making salads more interesting.
  • Seattle Bakery Cracked Wheat Sourdough Bread…if you can find this brand, buy it! The sourdough flavor comes through with the crunchy nuttiness of the cracked wheat…delicious toasted with jam, or use for the perfect grilled cheese. This bread comes in a big round loaf. Beautiful.
  • Burrata cheese: If you haven’t tried this, you must do so, asap! It’s wonderful, that’s all.
  • My new favorite way to prepare salmon: searing. I used to bake salmon, if I wasn’t grilling, thinking it was the best way to keep it healthy. But I always have trouble with the timing. It seems like I pull it out too fast, or just past the perfect done-ness. I tried pan searing the fresh salmon we caught last weekend, and it was perfect. Just put a little olive oil or butter (ok, I always choose butter) in your pan, and when the pan is hot, place the salmon and season. I turned the fillet once, and got it just right. Not overdone, and the texture was perfect. Outside got a little color, and the inside was medium rare. Never baking salmon again!
  • Homemade Magic Shell: (this is just fun!)
    • 8 ounces of chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
    • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

    Place coconut oil in double boiler over low heat and melt. Add chocolate chips to double boiler with the oil. Gently blend chocolate into coconut oil until smooth.  Let cool for a few minutes and then drizzle on your favorite anything. Perfect for dipping fruit. Bananas, strawberries, and grapes are my favorites. Made some frozen dipped bananas recently and can verify: highly edible! Also perfect for ice cream.

In the digital world, check these out…well worth exploring.

  • PicMonkey – a fun and easy photo editor…there’s a free version and a paid version, both are great. Good for creating printables or almost anything. Look here.
  • Best way to sell online…I call it a digital garage sale. Check out your local Facebook sale site. The one for Ketchikan is called Ketchikan SaleCycle, it’s a closed group for local residents…an amazing resource if you need something, or if you’re selling. I sold most of my furniture in the move last fall, and a lot of miscellaneous household items…made over $13,000 in just a few weeks. Of course, eventually I’ll have to replace some of those things, but it was a fantastic way to sell without doing a huge one day event that might or might not have gone well. And it’s fun too…actually sort of addicting once you get going. I like it better than Craigslist. I think most communities have a local Facebook sales group. Find the digital garage sales in your area and get ready to clean out!

And finally, some random suggestions:

  • A new favorite exercise…the Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro…It really works!
  • Looking to be inspired to say “No!” more often? I can’t say enough about Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. I read it a few months ago, and I’m still drawing on it as I consider choices.    I’m one of those people who finds it difficult to say “no.” Recognizing that saying “no” actually honors the real priorities of my life helps me to be strong in the face of my built-in need to please. Not always easy for this Southern girl/woman to do, but I’m trying to be more thoughtful and deliberate about my answers.
  • RSVP Endurance kitchen products: I love these tools. You can find them on Amazon or in specialty kitchen stores. They’re not too pricey, but all the ones I’ve tried are good. Very good. This is a brand like Oxo…great value for the money, and whatever they make is quality. The tools are a pleasure to use.

And finally, a smile for the day:

Organic Donuts

Enjoy your weekend!   ~ Sheila

December wisdom

There’s a lot of wisdom floating around this time of year…I can find advice on how to create a magical Christmas, or how to experience a calm and serene holiday. There are tips for frugal giving and creative giving. There are recipes everywhere. I read how to make peace with your family, or how to find peace in spite of your family. We can all get along, or agree to disagree and not stress…whatever your point of view, there’s an article, or a blog post, or even a book, to support it.

I confess, there are times when almost all of these opinions fit my mood. I have my moments. Who wouldn’t want to create the perfect Christmas scene? Or the memorable family moment? And yet, I also want the quiet, the calm, the focus, of saying “Enough!” I don’t want to be all about the externals and neglect the important. I want to be generous, and yet not foolish…I want to do for others, but I don’t want to be undone by my efforts to do it all, have it all, be all.

So, in the spirit of seeking balance and vision during this month of magic, which is also a month of stress, consider these pearls:

Stop the glorification of busy.

Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love. Assume the good, and doubt the bad. ~ Jeffrey R. Holland

words-heal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And whenever you pause, pray!

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.” ~ Rita Schiano

 

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“Grace isn’t a little prayer you say before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”

“I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.”

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Pumpkin Soup and other goodness

Rain and cold greet me as I start the day. Fresh coffee, and the scent of the pellet stove burning, sending out warmth and wood smell, lure me down the stairs to begin. I make breakfast, hot, hearty and healthy, to push us through to lunch. Lunch, salad, light and crunchy bites, fuel until dinner. And then, on this chilly fall Friday, a big bowl of soup and crusty bread for end of day. The soup simmers on the stove already, not because it has to, but because I want it to. Seeing the pot on the burner, giving an occasional stir as I wander through the kitchen, taking a break from my work-at-home office, I feel the comfort of tradition, the ritual of minding, tasting; and the anticipation of home cooked goodness to tuck us in to the dark of early evening. We’ll light candles, play soft music, and get cozy with bread baked this afternoon and soup for the season.

If you’re looking for homemade easy, this is a good place to begin.

                                          November gold

Pumpkin Soup

1/4 cup (4T) butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 can (1 lb) of pumpkin (NOT get pumpkin pie filling)
3 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 cup light cream or half-and-half
Melt butter in saucepan.
Add onion & celery.  Saute’ until tender.
Stir in pumpkin, broth & seasonings (adjust seasonings to taste if you like more spice).
Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 15 minutes.
Remove bay leaf.
Add cream or half-and-half.
Stir just until thoroughly heated, but not boiling.
Add chives (fresh) for garnish.
Serves four generously.

                                 Sweet Wheat bread dough

Sweet Wheat Bread

3 packets dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp of caramel coloring, optional

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water then stir in sugar. Let stand until bubbly.
Combine dissolved yeast, remaining water, molasses, salt, oil, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and caramel coloring in a large mixing bowl. Beat, using a dough hook until smooth. 
Knead dough for 5 minutes. Place in a large bowl then cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. 
Punch dough down and divide in 2 large round loaves and place on a greased and cornmeal dusted cookie sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Remove cloth and bake in a 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or until crust makes a hollow sound when tapped.
(The caramel coloring will not affect taste, just the color of the bread. You can order this ingredient from King Arthur Flour.)

                                                Ready for dinner!

Monday morning Cinnamon Rolls

So tomorrow I’m bringing cinnamon rolls to work. These are not from a bakery or out of a refrigerated roll tube. These are homemade, gooey, delicious and oversized. These are the real deal. The recipe follows below.

But first, let me tell you that this isn’t just a bit of holiday festivity for co-workers. No, this is part of my work philosophy. I believe in doing a good job of fulfilling my responsibilities. But there are things that go along with doing a good job. This is what I do try to do:

~ Try to say “yes” more than “no.” Be positive. I call this my “yes policy.” This is not about being a “yes man,” or about letting others dump on me. It is about being willing to try, and being gracious.

~ Be transparent; apologize when necessary; take responsibility!

~ Smile; have an attitude of gratitude. But be sincere; you can’t fake this.

~ Commit to what you’re trying to accomplish; coach it; be it.

~ And last, bring food. I’ve never worked in any setting where good food isn’t appreciated. This isn’t about getting anything in return. This is about now and then sharing a treat, whether homemade or a pickup from the local doughnut shop. I used to buy ice cream fudge bars or ice cream sandwiches in the summer to take in at a past job. It really doesn’t matter what the treat is. Just do it, and do it regularly.

Cinnamon Rolls
(thank you, Ann!)

I’ve never had a failure with this recipe; it was given to me by a dear friend whose skill in the kitchen is legendary! This isn’t a recipe to make if you’re watching your calories. But for those occasions when you want a wonderful breakfast treat, to pull out all the stops, this is a winner. Although the instructions are long, each step is actually quick and easy…don’t let the lengthy instructions intimidate you!

The dough is easier to make if you have a stand mixer (like a Kitchen Aid) so the mixer does the work for you. You do not have to knead the dough by hand, you only need to mix it with the dough hook. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough by hand, that’s easy too).

I break this into three steps and it keeps the whole process from being too lengthy. To have warm rolls for breakfast, (this is our standard Christmas morning treat) mix the dough the afternoon or evening before. I usually try to mix the dough early enough in the afternoon so I can let the dough rise six hours and then roll the dough out and slice before going to bed. When the dough is rolled out, sliced, and the rolls are put into the baking pan, I cover the pan with Saran wrap, slide the pan into the fridge, and leave it overnight. In the morning, I put the cold baking dish into a cold oven. (Very important! Never put a cold dish into a hot oven; if the baking dish is glass it might crack.) I put the oven on the lowest temp, about 170 degrees, let the rolls rise about half an hour, or until the rolls have at least doubled in size, then turn up the oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls for approximately 35 minutes. While the rolls are baking, mix the icing. This only takes a couple of minutes, so the whole process in the morning is just a matter of putting the rolls in the oven and drizzling the icing over the rolls after baking.

An alternative, if you have time, is to allow the rolls come to room temperature and rise till the dough is at least doubled. If your timing allows (perfect if you are serving these at brunch), just take the rolls out of the fridge in the morning and let them sit for at least a couple of hours prior to baking. If they still need a little more rising, you can always speed the process along a bit by putting them into a low-temp oven as described above.

Dough
1 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, or you can use 1 cup of warm milk instead of water
6 cups of all purpose flour

Combine the butter, sugar and hot water in mixer bowl. Stir until butter is melted. Allow this to cool until just warm (if mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast). Add eggs and salt to butter mixture when cooled. Combine yeast with 1 cup of warm water (or warm milk if substituting milk for water). Give the yeast a few minutes to proof (it will foam up). Add yeast mixture to butter mixture. Add flour 2 cups at a time and combine using mixer dough hook. When all the flour is added, cover the dough in the mixing bowl and refrigerate for six hours or overnight.

Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
brown or white sugar, 1 1/4 cups (more or less, to taste)
cinnamon (use a lot, these are cinnamon rolls!)

After dough has risen in fridge, (dough should be at least doubled in size) remove from mixing bowl and roll out on floured surface. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness in rectangular shape. Spread surface of dough with softened butter. Sprinkle buttered surface of dough with granulated or brown sugar, then with cinnamon. Cover the dough liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Roll up jelly roll fashion and slice rolls about 1 inch thick. Arrange slices in baking pan and allow to rise. You can let the rolls rise at room temperature for a couple of hours, or turn the oven on the lowest temperature (about 170 degrees) and let the rolls rise in the oven for about half an hour, as described in notes above.

When rolls have risen (at least double in size) bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes.

Icing
Combine a couple of tablespoons of melted butter, powdered sugar (I use two or three cups of powdered sugar) and milk (drizzle a little milk in until the icing is the consistency you want. It can be spreadable or pourable). Add a teaspoon of vanilla to icing and spread over warm rolls. If you make too much icing, this will keep in the fridge for several days. You can also use this icing on almost any dessert…handy to keep around for pound cakes, etc. For those who love cream cheese, add 3 or 4 oz of softened cream cheese to the icing and blend to remove any lumps.

Orange Rolls

I stumbled on this option (I was out of cinnamon and discovered my predicament at the last minute when I was making these recently) and it makes a nice citrusy treat.

All the steps for making the dough are the same, through rolling the dough out and spreading with butter and sprinkling the dough with granulated or brown sugar. I use less sugar in this variation, and I don’t measure these amounts, but I cover the dough a little more lightly with sugar than when I am making the cinnamon version. This can be adjusted to personal taste. After spreading the rolled-out dough with butter and sugar, using a jar of orange marmalade, (I use Smuckers marmalade) spread this over the sugar, roll up, and slice rolls to place in baking pan. (The marmalade can be a bit tart, and I use the sugar in the filling to cut the tartness of the orange peel in the marmalade.) Allow rolls to rise and bake as described above.

For the glaze, instead of adding vanilla extract and milk to thin the glaze, I use orange juice and a few drops of orange flavoring, or you could grate a little orange zest in the glaze if you have a fresh orange. Don’t add cream cheese…you just want to punch up the orange flavor.

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Confessions from a cookie monster

I’ve been good for a long time. I rarely buy junk food: chips, sodas, cookies, all those things that get their taste from sugar, fat, and artificial flavoring. They aren’t good for you, and I’m usually strong enough to avoid them.  But I had a major downfall this week. So here’s what happened.

Had an event I needed to take a little treat for, and in a very uncharacteristic choice for me, I stopped by the grocery to pick up something rather than bake a dessert myself.  What can I say? I don’t always have to be in the kitchen! I was strolling around the bakery looking for a likely treat when I spotted them: the Lofthouse Sugar Cookies. You know those fat, soft, white sugar cookies with the really bright frosting? They aren’t the most beautiful cookies I’ve seen. But I love the soft texture and the just right mix of the frosting and the cookie. So I bought a tray of them.

Downfall of the diet

Then…no event! Ended up being rescheduled. And now I was home, facing these cookies, just watching them watching me. I decided to have just one. Of course they wouldn’t keep for another week, so no need to save them all. My back up plan: take them into work, which is a frequent option for me when I’m in baking mode. But somehow, I walked out every day this week without those cookies. And every day, I’ve had another one. Ok, twice I had two for dessert. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have enough left to take into work at this point.

I comfort myself. I can’t remember the last time I bought cookies. I certainly don’t know the last time I ate a whole batch by myself in one week. Maybe this is a once in a lifetime behavior? I’ll just finish these off and then I’ll be done with this episode. That’s the plan. Don’t bring them in the house, they can’t stare at me from my kitchen counter if I don’t buy them first.

Ok, it’s everyone for themselves. I tried to save myself, but it looks like I’m going down with the ship…er, cookie. I can’t ignore them. They call to me. Just try them, see if you’re any stronger. I dare you. I double dare you! These cookies are evil! And delicious. And addicting. And fattening.

Sorry, I know there are lots of world issues occurring. I’m just having a moment here. I’ll pull myself together and give up being self absorbed shortly. I just have one more to go and then I’m finished. I can throw the evidence…box…away, and go buy myself the makings for a week of salads.

No standing on the scales until next week. By then, I hope the salads will have erased the cookies. It works that way, doesn’t it?

What are you feeding yourself?

A slice of home-made bread pudding.

Comfort food

Had a hard day today. So I fed myself on a few important things:

  • loving support of some key family members
  • read some uplifting words
  • laughed at a joke
  • had a beautiful dessert of bread pudding, caramel sauce, and cinnamon ice cream
  • snuggled up with a warm blankie and hot tea
  • worked on developing a new blog idea
  • promised myself tomorrow would be better because I’m worth it                                                                                                                          What are you feeding yourself today?

Oatmeal for breakfast; or, I have to lower my cholesterol

High cholesterol treatment

Was there really any doubt? About five years ago when I last had my cholesterol checked, my number was good…don’t remember the exact number, but it was good. And the most recent reading? A disappointing 251, in the “high” category, although the HDL (good cholesterol) number is excellent.  The cream-in-my-coffee habit has caught up with me. I’m expecting the lipid police at my door any moment.

So: resolutions begin. I’ll add oatmeal to my coffee habit. I can’t give up the cream so I’ll have to find ways to minimize the impact. I suppose I’ll have to increase my exercising too. Hey, I already drink red wine, so I’ve got that going for me. What else? I’m not a big meat eater, so I can’t help myself by giving up something I already don’t do. You followed that, right?

Why is it that I can manage my weight and stay in the same size clothes I’ve worn my whole adult life, and yet this one little test can threaten my love affair with dairy products? I wouldn’t say I’m addicted. But it would be a grim world, mornings at 5:oo am at my house, without the promise of hot coffee diluted with cream until it’s a beautiful khaki color. And don’t even get me started on butter. I don’t eat too much of it these days. I don’t bake a lot, and most of what I bake I give away. I don’t cook a lot in general. But if a recipe calls for butter, that’s what I use. I can’t do margarine or other plastic products passing themselves off as dairy. I’m in the camp of “I’d rather have a small amount of the real thing than a lot of imitation.”

Hmmm….Paula Deen, where are you? And I wonder what your cholesterol number is? I notice you don’t offer full disclosure on your Food Network programs. Think I’ll have to rewrite that old rhyme: “Butter, butter, everywhere, and not a bite to eat.”

Well, as it turns out, I like oatmeal, so that won’t be too difficult to add. I don’t eat it often, but I like it. And I especially like it with brown sugar, a pat of butter, and just a splash of cream. Uh oh….

See you at the gym!

Me, organized?

Typical Japanese sushi set, as sold in departm...

Yum!

Just when I think I’m doing so well…I’m a list maker, you know…I find that I have four…four…bags of sushi rice in my pantry! Three of the four had cunningly hidden themselves behind other items so that I’ve obviously thought I was out of this once-a-year use staple. Sometimes I amaze myself. How could I have bought this several times without realizing I was stocking up on something I so rarely need? To be fair to myself, I know I didn’t do this in the past few weeks. No, I’ve been beefing up my rice supply since we moved here two years ago. And it now appears…we don’t eat sushi very often. Who knew?

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Last week I went to the grocery twice and both times forgot to buy kitchen trash bags, although I had carefully noted, as a hint to myself…top of my list, big letters…not to leave without buying a replacement box. So, trash bags are on the hit parade again. Maybe the third time’s the charm.

I like to think I’m organized. This is not a subject I discuss with my husband. We don’t see eye to eye on everything.  I acknowledge that I have pockets of dysfunction…witness the pantry find of a small country’s supply of sushi rice. And I admit that I am not a freezer manager. In fact, the best way to permanently hide something from myself is to disguise it as a leftover stored in the freezer for future retrieval. I know that really, this is just a way to make peace with my conscience. My thrifty grandmother would be appalled if I threw out a perfectly good portion of leftovers, so I smartly detour these items through the freezer. Wrap in Saran or stash in a freezer bag, abandon for a few months, and presto! off to the trash with no guilt!  Even my grandmother would throw out freezer burned food. When she discovered it. (She’s not a freezer manager either, and there are legendary stories in my family of the age of some items she discovered in her freezer. But she turns 90 in June, so she’s off the hook for everything at this point.)

My mother-in-law stores cash in her freezer and found quite a stash in the process of cleaning out a few years ago. Turned out she had several thousand dollars tucked away among the frozen veggies. Not me. First of all, I don’t use cash, so it would be unlikely that I would find money stored anywhere in my house. But the idea of finding anything truly useful in my freezer, beyond ice and ice cream, is a novelty.

What to do, what to do? I think of the number of things I juggled this week: work, home, email, blogging, phone calls, friends, errands, chores, the daily grind. I’m sure that somewhere in all of this is a highly functioning person. I actually had a pretty good week and I checked off the majority of my to dos with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. I was on a roll…until this morning. Now I’m thinking of throwing a small sushi party for the residents of Ketchikan. I have some extra rice on hand…won’t even have to go shopping. I’m organized, you know.

Favorite things

Film poster for The Story of Us

These are a few of my favorite things (in random order):

  1. Warm sunshine in my sunroom
  2. Loving words
  3. Rubbermaid tubs (great for boxing and storing)
  4. Macadamia nut cookies (Pepperidge Farm, yum!)
  5. Movies with a message – check out “The Story of Us,” an oldie but a goodie
  6. Odd serendipities – I broke a glass vase yesterday that I couldn’t bring myself to part with, but didn’t really want either – I broke it accidentally; but was actually relieved to be free of it without guilt
  7. Pink tulips
  8. Little Riley’s voice on the phone
  9. Anticipation
  10. Digital books

What are your favorite things?