Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Such An Unwelcome Guest

We don't have a guest room, so when someone comes to visit (which is pretty rare), they have to sleep on an air matress in the living room. And suffer a constant pestering by Gwenstopher.  And they really have no privacy.

Yesterday, I prepared for a guest named Sandy.   I cooked for her.  I bought groceries for her.   I even cleaned for her.  The one thing I did not do was get out the air matress.  I didn't want to encourage her to stay for any length of time.

And do you know what she did?

When she got here, she was a total whirlwind.  She stirred everything up.

She shut off the lights and made us eat in the dark.  She made us race through showers before the hot water ran out.

She blew leaves from one end of this place to the other.

And in some cases, though not at our house, she got water all over the place and made it hard to get around.

She was even so bold that she took it upon herself to cancel school for two days!

I'd say the only thing she did right was bring 60 degree weather which we don't have at this time of the year.


Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Sandy!

Linking up here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

What Do You Do With A Free Day?

Have you heard of this little storm we're having in the US right now?  This little thing called Sandy?  NO?  Not familiar with it? 

Yeah, I'm here to scoff like the Scoffy McScofferson that I am because once again, a major hoopla has been made and once again, we are not feeling it very much here.

Sure, these could be my last words as she swoops in and knocks us right off the face of the earth, but I doubt it.

It's supposed to be the biggest storm in the last 1/4 century because it's colliding with a storm from the north and it's going to all just meld together into a superstorm that will devaste us beyond anything imaginable.

But, as with all things related to weather, it's really unpredictable and no matter how many serious men in ties stare at computer screens and run around the weather maps showing us what will happen, we really still don't know.  It's all a wait and see game.  A game of maybes and potentiallys and what ifs.  And if they look extra serious, we will probably take them even more seriously.

I will admit that because they have talked about it for so many days, I have actually done some things to prepare. 

I brought my remaining plants into the greenhouse so they would not drown. 

I took my hammock inside. 

I cleaned up some of the really lightweight things that might blow around.

But that was about all I did outside.

We already had a butt load of bottles of water and gatorade that I had stocked up on at the end of the summer for k-ster.  We have lots of freezer packs in the freezer and an empty cooler waiting for them.  We have propane and I realized yesterday, if we have to, we could "borrow" some propane from the trailers in the campground and replace them later, so that's a relief.  I've vacuumed.  I've cooked some stuff.  I've frozen some stuff.  I've actually replaced batteries in things.  My computer and phone are charged.  I did laundry.  I ran the dishwasher.

I sure did a lot for that unwelcome guest, Sandy.

There really isn't much more I could do to be prepared.  But those damned weather boys would have me think I still need to do something.

And my heart isn't it in it because I just don't believe we'll have much damage from it.  You might remember how bad Irene was to us.  It's all about crying wolf. 

The police have done 2 reverse 911 calls.  My favorite part is when they say "the town beaches will be closed and locked".  How does one lock a beach?  We walked to a locked beach today and simply walked around the gate.  DUH. 

So, on my day off, I'm not sure what to do.  This always happens to me with snow days.  Usually, I make some bargain with myself that if we have the day off ,  I will FINALLY clean such and such or do such and such.

I know some people feel like a cancelled day of work means they can just loll around all day being lazy to the fullest extent of the law, but I just don't work that way.  I always feel like it means I have to do something I would never normally do because now I have this gifted day that's meant for tackling some big project.

What about you?  How do you spend your gift days?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Who's The BreadMaker Now?

I asked for suggestions for a new bread machine and my sister weighed in, touting the fabulousness that is her machine.  She has one that she got last Christmas and loves it.  I liked the pizza dough that it made when I was at her house the last time.  It inspired me to go home and steal my parents' bread machine and do some bread making of my own over the summer.

After a few loaves, I got the hang of it and then I ventured into pizza dough.  And that was spectacular.  And then I tried to make a cake from a recipe that came with the machine and I burned it up.  Literally.  Black smoke came out the top.

So, for my birthday, I asked for a new machine and chose the Zojirushi brand that my sister has.  Because I want to be just like her when I grow up.  She has the rice maker from that brand too and really loves them both.

I was surprised to actually get the Zojirushi for my birthday because it's pretty pricey.  But my sisters and my parents split it, so I don't feel so guilty about such a hefty present for my birthday.  And it probably came with the guarantee that I will supply them with bread for years to come.  I don't know, I was so excited to open it, I didn't see any guarantees.

Here it is, in all its compact glory.

I was worried when I opened the box to see just how small "mini" actually is.  It said it makes a 1 lb loaf.  The other one I was using did a 1.5 or 2 lb. loaf.   But what I didn't like about that size was that after 2 sandwiches, it kind of got stale.  I can't eat a sandwich every day, so I wasn't using it fast enough just making sandwiches for k-ster.  I thought the 1 pound loaf would be a better size.  Still, seeing the pan makes it seem way too small.
But here's the first loaf I made.

And a slice from it that I would use for sandwiches.

It actually seems like just the right size for a couple of sandwiches and then it will be gone.

It came with a user guide that has a lot of recipes.  Like maybe 30 recipes!  I tried just the first one, a basic white bread, to see if it was like the other one I had been using.  And it is.  It's foolproof, really. 

Right before I tried to set fire to the kitchen with the other one, I had just found a recipe for a white/wheat bread that had some wheat flour but not all of it was wheat.  K-ster actually said he liked that best.  And then I blew up the machine.

This recipe book doesn't have a half wheat one, just 100%.  I can't use the recipe from the other one because it will be too big for this machine.  My sister assures me we will like it.  But I'm skeptical.

I'm also excited that I can be back in the pizza business again.  You'd think I eat it all the time, the way I've carried on about it.  But, k-ster and I can't agree on a pizza place around here that we like.  Like there is literally nowhere that we will  both eat pizza from.  And I do like to have it every couple of weeks or so.  He liked the crust the last time I made it at home, so I thought we had found common ground on the pizza front but then we had to go without it because I didn't have the machine.  I made one by hand, but that is not something I'll do very often.

And when I make Thankgiving calzones, I use pizza dough.  I used the dough I made in the last machine and they were great.  I'd rather make it myself than go to the store and buy it there.

This machine is very compact too.  If I had enough cabinet space, I'd tell you about how it fit so nicely in my cabinet.  I have poor cabinet space.  The last bread machine sat on the floor which was really inappropriate but I had nowhere to store it.  This one is so small it would seem absurd to put it on the floor.  It has a cute handle on it to make it easier to put in a cabinet. 

That I don't have. 

I'll probably have to store it in the laundry room or something weird like that.

And now that Hurricane Sandy is riding her broom all the way up the east coast and threatening to take all of the electricity with her, I should probably make a couple of loaves and some dough now.  I know, you're thinking "what will you do with dough if you don't have electricity?"  Ah, do you know about pizza on the grill?  It's marvelous!

** Zojirushi did not compensate me in any way for this post.  But I'd be happy to review something for them if they're listening!

Linking up here

Friday, October 26, 2012

Would You Like A Cavity For Your Birthday?

It's my birthday today.    If you say happy birthday in the comments, I will delete it. That's not why I wrote this post.

I never expect any hoopla for my birthday and actually, I get all flustered and upset when people make a big deal in public.

Like the surprise parties that friends insisted on having each year in college for me.  I hated them.  I really, really don't like surprises.  They finally stopped by the time we were seniors. 

I love to plan surprises for other people, but I don't like them myself.

Sometimes, k-ster has sent roses to me at school for my  birthday.  And I've just about crawled in a hole and died. 

Some years, people have wished a happy birthday to me on the morning announcements and all day I've had to hear "happy birthday!" like it's a contest to see who can say it to me first.

Today, the music teachers got ahold of the mic and not only did they say happy birthday during morning announcements, THEY SANG IT IN HARMONY.  I seriously could have dropped dead right there. 

However, being the trouper that I am, I made it into a teachable moment and taught each class how to say it's so-and-so's birthday and happy birthday in French. 

After school, I had to go to the dentist.  I have loved going to the dentist for most of my life.  Because I have perfect teeth.  As in no cavities, not necessarily that they are perfectly shaped or aligned.

I had braces and took really good care of them, and I get compliments on them.  They are blemish free.  Worry free.  They practically clean themselves.

They are clean, fairly white without being whitened, and, I repeat, cavity free.

So, I love the dentist.  Someone else cleaning my teeth?  Love it.

For most of my life, I went to the same dentist.  When he retired, I joked that I hoped he hadn't been snowballing me all this time with the compliments about my great teeth and really, the new guy was going to find all kinds of problems.

For the first two years, the new guy was not overly impressed, but said everything looked fine. 

Today, however, he showed me a "spot" on the xray that he's worried about and that it might be the beginning of a cavity.

EXCUSE. ME.????  I don't get cavitities!  I have amazing teeth!  I brush and floss!  I don't get cavities! 

And, it's my birthday!  Are you sure you're supposed to tell me that today?

I tried to get an answer from him about how it's possible that I can make it stay as it is and not get worse.  It's kind of mysterious to me that I can have the beginning of a cavity but I don't have to have it filled in and we'll just "keep an eye on it". 

Instead of being straightforward, like the old dentists, this new guy was all "well, I mean, umm, you know, well, it's like, it's not like..."  I don't like people who are my age and younger who are in the professional fields and can't give straight, clear answers.  I know a doctor who is the same way.  It's always "well, umm, you know, I mean , ummm, it's like".

I want just the facts ma'am from my healthcare professionals.  I don't want beating around the bush. I want answers and straight ones, at that.   Otherwise, I feel like the answers are as ambiguous as if I go look on the internet myself.   And I don't get paid the big bucks to go look online to self diagnose.

Ugh.  So, I'm 38 and "might" have a cavity forming in my pristine mouth.  This doesn't sit well me with.  Not. At. All.

But, on a happy note, I have a new bread machine!!!!!!!!  More on that after I make some bread and pizza dough!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken

I'm warning you now, as delicious as this is, you will have a naked-looking chicken when you're done.

My sister a-ster asked me if I'd ever done a chicken in a crock pot this summer and after lots of research, I gave it a try.  She gave it a try.  My mother gave it a try.  The whole neighborhood gave it a try.

Ok, I have no idea if the neighborhood tried it because no one talks to each other in this neighborhood.

All I know is that a-ster and I will never go back to roasting chicken in the oven.  I'm not sure what my mother thought.  She'll have to give her two cents in the comments. 

And I'm not sure if e-ster tried it.  She rarely reads my entire post, so who knows if she'll make it down to the comments.

I simply take a whole chicken and put it in the crockpot with nothing.  Not even water.  I'm serious!!  I cook it on high for about one hour per pound, though really, I think I end up taking it out before then.  I'd almost say you could do 1/2 hour per pound on high but  I haven't tried it yet.

When I get is an amazing chicken.  It's so thoroughly cooked, it just falls off the bone.  I have never been able to get every piece of meat off the bone, but cook it in the crock pot and you'll have no trouble.

It looks like this before AND after it's cooked.  (If you put onions and red pepper like I did the first time.)

If you care about presentation, you might be sad to serve a completely naked bird that looks raw.  Or at least, my friend was, so she thought she'd put it under the broiler.  That totally ruined it and made it so dry, no one would eat it.  So, I don't know how you could brown it up if you're trying to serve a roasted chicken.

I mostly do this for the meat.  I cook it one day but use it the next.

Some recipes say to put all kinds of spices and onions and stuff. 

I seriously think it's very tasty with nothing and the liquid is all produced as it cooks so you don't need to add water.

I know.  I  was very skeptical too.  But I tell the truth when I say you put it in, turn it on and walk away for hours.  It's great to put in when you get home from work so that you'll have chicken the next day.  Because there's nothing to add, it's really no fuss once you get it in there.  And then you let it cool and put it in the refrigerator to deal with for supper the next night.

Toward the end, I have put in potatoes and carrots to roast and they've been great.  I wouldn't put them in at the beginning because they will just about liquify and turn to soup.

And you might know what k-ster thinks about soup.

Oh, and they aren't kidding when they say this on the outside of the crockpot:

Linking up this delicious nonsense right here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What Do You Do When Your Man Doesn't Like Whoopie?

Whoopie pies.

Who doesn't like whoopie pies?

K-ster!  I don't know what is wrong with that boy. 

I swear I'd sell my soul for a whoopie pie.  But only a chocolate/white cream one.  Not the trendy pumpkin and cream cheese kind or the red velvet and God knows what kind.

More like the cheap, nasty Devil Dog kind. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

Growing Into the Fall

Around here, it's starting to look like fall.  We had a couple of really cold days and once, the heat came on, but we are back to really mild weather in the 60s again right now.  The gardens are still plugging along and nothing has died from frost yet because we really haven't had any. 

The other night, I went out and picked a bunch of greens, some beans and some rogue tomatoes.  My Rainbow Brights Swiss Chard is finally looking rainbow like.  I added some radish tops and basil and probably some beet tops too.

The tomatoes came from this rogue octotom.  I have no idea where this plant came from and since it looks nothing like any of the heirlooms that I planted, or anything I've ever grown before, I will assume it came from the seeds of the "tomatoes on the vine" that I buy at the grocery store.  These are perfectly round and pretty firm.  They are larger than cherry tomatoes but not as large as the "tomatoes on the vine".  And they just won't quit.  As you can see, the vines spilled out of the wheelbarrow long ago and they just keep creeping away.  There are still new flowers that the bees keep pollinating.  They are suffering from powdery mildew but the tomatoes are fine, and the plant keeps going, so I let it.  You just have to watch where you step in the greenhouse!

I have a good chuckle every day with this stalk of corn and its mini friends around it.  After ther corn ransacking of both 2011 and 2010, I vowed to stop growing corn.  But I really wanted to grow some and started it really late, thinking maybe I'd trick the monsters who got into it last year.  No sooner had nice, strong stalks appeared than something got into the garden and snapped them all except for this tall one.  The little ones tried to come back but didn't produce ears.   There's one ear on the tall one.  We (the corn and I) laugh about how it's the only one there, in the face of all the other destruction.  As I write this, something is probably eating that very ear and laughing at me.

There's kale in the background going crazy but I swear kale bothers my digestion, so I've stopped liking it.  And I threw in some pea plants, but I think by the time they flower, the bees will be gone, so there won't be any peas to eat. 

After a very lengthy debate with myself, k-ster, my father and the internet, I decided to try growing some carrots in concrete blocks.

The debate is whether or not there are dangerous metals that will leach out of the blocks.  According to what I read (multiple sources), unless they are true cinder blocks, made of fly ash which contains radioactive elements, then no, they are not dangerous.  I have no idea what these blocks around this yard are made of and some are probably older than me.  We have so many to choose from.  I took those that looked the newest and I'm hoping for no radioactivity in my future.

Then I planted one carrot in each one.  I put them near the sunniest side of the greenhouse.  I hope that the heat off the greenhouse and the insulating  nature of the blocks will let them thrive this winter.  And I picture that because each one gets its own hole, everyone will be happy.

I don't think I ever showed this picture of what I did just outside the door of the house this summer.  It's kind of a wasted space of grass that is a pain to cut, so I thought I'd put in some plants.  And I found the cutest plant stand at a thrift store.

Today, they look like this.  The impatiens died from that crazy impatien fungus that went around, but everything else has gone insane.  I think I'll plant things here again next year.  I wasn't sure if they would bother us as we go in and out the door, but it seems to be fine.  There are a couple of perennials in there, so we'll see what comes up.  I think I'd like a little picket fence on the edge, by the walkway, to define.  K-ster won't like that too much....  Although, I thought he wouldn't like the plants so close to the walkway but he kind of likes it, so who knows?

When I planted my beans and corn late in August, I also planted some sunflowers.  These are nothing like the behemoths that grew this summer (literally taller than my 12 foot high greenhouse) and they were from the same package.  Clearly it's a matter of sunlight and this part of garden #1 gets a lot less as the summer passes.  It's still a pleasure to see them with the bright yelow centers in October!

These zinnias are from seeds I saved from my zinnias last year.  They have been phenomenal.  Those on the left are a gorgeous coral color.  I have some of these in garden #2 too.  Most of them turned out to be the purplish color of the others and I don't like that too much.  I have another mixed coral/pink group in an ugly bucket in the greenhouse.  I didn't mean for them to grow and I thought they were something else at first and then as the summer went, I just left them because they were pretty!

My sister noticed I hadn't been saying much about the greenhouse lately.  I figure that I've told everyone how amazed I was all last year and now that I know what I can get away with growing in cold weather, it's not something I need to talk about again.  If you've seen one broccoli plant growing happily in February in a New England greenhouse, you've seen them all.
What I did do this year and I will definitely keep doing and encourage everyone else to do, is plant in succession.  This is the way to keep getting vegetables for the whole summer.  Most people plant one set of vegetables and once those plants are done, they don't get any more of that vegetable but it might only be July.  If you plant several times, you will have the veggies for longer.  Even into August, it's not a bad idea to start more plants, I've decided.
I have had a bit of an overload of green beans due to my succession planting, but bean plants are supposed to be great for the soil, so I'm not upset.  I've given away literally bags of green beans to people at school and I'm still picking them!  I'm almost chasing people down and begging them to take my beans.  I'm about to ding dong dash with them if they keep up at this rate!  I've bagged 3 gallons for the freezer and I eat them raw almost every day for lunch.  Those plants are still trucking and will produce until the bees stop.  That will be pretty soon, sadly.
I'm having trouble getting broccoli started for the winter.  I have some beets starting and carrots and possibly some lettuce. 

I'm going to bring my basil plant into school and see if I get basil for the whole year.  My sister has a basil plant that I gave her last summer and it stayed inside and kept growing all year.  She put it out in her garden this summer and it did fine.  I would think basil would tire pretty easily because it's not a perennial, but I'm going to see what happens.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wait- Wait- Don't Tell Me

Is this déjà vu?  Did I hit my head really hard?  Help me out here.

The mini ipad? 

Ummmm, don't we call that the ipod touch or iphone?

What am I missing? 

Apple made the ipod family...

Then they made the tablet called ipad...

....and now they have shrunk the ipad down into a mini ipad...

... and didn't we already have them and called them ipod touch and iphones?

Am I repeating myself?


Will the next, great Apple innovation be the ipod shuffle again?  But they will call it the super duper mini ipad.

Doesn't anyone else think this is bizarre?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ten Reasons Why I Do Not Belong In Space

In a tribute to  that crazy man Felix Baumgartner, the guy who took a balloon to the edge of space and free fell today, here are 10 reasons that I know I am not suited for space travel.

1.  First and foremost, I'm pretty sure my bladder is roughly the size of a baby aspirin, evidenced by my fervent need to go to the bathroom all.the.time.  This is compounded by my consumption of water all.day.long, NOT that I need to be on a bladder medication.  I know that if I went into space, I could not stop my addiction to liquids and therefore, I would create way too much human waste in space.  "where's astronaut Sparkling?" they'd always be asking. 

2.  Sometimes, when I'm cleaning or doing laundry and I know no one is looking, I dance and/or sing.  Like a lunatic.  NASA would tire of watching these antics as I cleaned the space station and the other astronauts would probably not appreciate it either.

3.  I am way too flexible on earth, as it is.  With zero gravity, I would spend my days contorting myself in my own personal Cirque du Soleil.  The other astronauts would quickly tire of my "hey guys, look where my leg is NOW" games.

4.  I need fresh air.  All.the.time.  The idea of breathing space air and recycled air and whatever other air they breathe up there is enough to make my heart speed up right now, when I'm breathing earth air.  I need to be able to open the window, take a walk, enjoy the outside. 

5.  In a follow up to #5, can you imagine the smells?  I assume the space station has a smell of its own anyway, just like every building does.  It's probably very formeldahyde/plastic smelling.   But add in humans.  And their space food.  And their bathroom habits.  And their human functions.  I am just gagging at the very thought it of it.

6.  I like to sleep.  Not all day, of course, but when it's bedtime, I like to sleep on a comfortable bed, for the whole night, uniterrupted.  Except when I interrupt myself to go the bathroom.  See reason #1.  I do not want to strap myself in so I don't float off.  I don't want to have the background noise of NASA watching me all the time (you know there's some kind of noise even when they aren't talking).  And something tells me that the space station doesn't have private, sound proof rooms for each astronaut up there.  I'd never get any sleep.  And then I'd be cranky.

7.  I have a serious fear of falling.  Not falling from a horse, because I can't seem to stay away from those.  Falling from space.  That's a pretty serious fall.  I have trouble when I'm driving and I go down a hill faster than I was expecting.  My stomach falls right out.  Swinging on a swing is fine until it starts to go too fast. Speed and downhill are two things I try to stay away from .  You should see me ski.  I should have hazard lights so people know to just go around me.  

8.  Along with reason #7, I do not like to spin.  Spinning is worse than falling, in my mind.  I clearly have some kind of inner ear thing.  Something tells me the spinning and hurtling through space would kill me out of fright. 

9.  Those bulky suits for space walks must be really uncomfortable.  And worrying that when you're out walking, you could just plummet off the station can't be too reassuring either.  I'd be walking on the edge of some beam and get distracted by space dust and the next thing you know= whoosh, I'd be bouncing around space in that damned white suit.

10.  After you're in space, what's left to do?  Isn't is a real downer to return to earth?

Linking up here.  These people are hysterical.  You have to go read some of these links!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Public Service Announcement- Can You Help?

I've been playing "go fish" with my 7th grade French students so they will become more proficient with numbers.  It astounds me every year how many kids have never played any version of this game.  It's sad, really.  A commentary on where our society has fallen off track.

BUT, for those who have played, the outlook is no better.  Because these kids tell me they LOVE this game!  They play it all the time with their families.  It's so much fun.....

...to play "goldfish".

Or, as one boy wrote today: "go fist".  I don't even want to know what goes on when they play "go fist" at their house.

So, could you please play "go fish" with the kids in your life but make sure you tell them it's GO FISH?

Like, you know, you're fishing for the match to your card? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Uh-Oh Spaghetti Squash

I grew an heirloom mix of pumpkins this year and after the rest of them died thanks to the squash borer, this little guy popped up.  As it grew, I assumed it was a pumpkin.  It started out green and then started to turn.  Instead of bright orange, it turned the color of a butternut squash.  I knew it wasn't  because of the shape.
When I opened it, I wasn't quite sure that it wasn't a butternut squash!  It sure looked like it on the inside.  I thought it was some kind of funky pumkpin.
I used my new grapefruit knife from Pampered Chef to scrape out the inside. It was perfect!  The serrated edge was just right for slipping around the inside and the bent tip made it all work.  I highly encourage you to think about getting one for your pumpkin carving this year.  Seriously.
I roasted it for about an hour, like I did with the butternut squash.  No oil.  No water.
How surprised was I went I discovered it was a spaghetti squash!  I immediately emailed my sister because I have no idea what to do with spaghetti squash and nothing I did was going to make k-ster want to eat it.  She said she has used it as "spaghetti" and served it with meatballs.  I had just eaten the meatballs last week, so that was out.  She also said something about sage and garlic but I didn't think k-ster would buy that either.
So, I took matters into my own hands.  I think I have heard of people using it with spaghetti sauce, so I thought this might work.
Fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and paremsan cheese.  I mixed it up and baked it.

And served it.  K-ster ate it but didn't love it.  He said it had "texture" issues.  I think maybe the squishy squash with chunks of tomato was too weird.  And there was a lot of liquid.  I haven't figured out what I would do with it if I made it again.  I loved the taste and I will probably eat the rest of it myself.  The flavor was fine and the squash didn't lend much flavor. 

Maybe garlic next time?  Maybe saute it? I'm thinking sauteeing might do something with all of the extra water. 

I just couldn't let this go.  It grew despite the nasty squash borer that ruined so much of my squash.  And it grew long after the rest of the plants were dead and gone.  It deserved to be prepared and eaten!

What do you do with spaghetti squash?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Amazement Part Deux

I printed this last year and it's so good, I think you need to see it again.  K-ster actually requested this today because I have some cranberries left (I've canned like 15 jars) and I made a different salsa that wasn't as good.  I don't dare can this one because it's not USDA approved.  Don't laugh at me.  I'm new to canning and I don't dare do anything that the website doesn't say I can.

After you make and try this recipe, you will be so madly in love with me, you'll become my newest stalker. I swear.

When  we went to my sister a-ster's for Thanksgiving,  my sister made the whole meal, not allowing much help from me.  She did a lot of the same recipes that we grew up with but with a few additions. I have stolen this one and then added my own twist and when we become famous on the food network, I declare this will be our signature recipe.

First, the practically no-cal version:
12oz cranberries

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch green onions chopped to 3in lengths

1 jalapeño minced

Juice of two lines

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch salt

Put everything in food processor until desired consistency.

Then you dip whatever you want into it. By the time she made this, I was so hungry I could have dipped my toe into and eaten my entire foot off. I think we dipped tortilla chips and I'm pretty sure I dipped celery into it. I also think I might have just dipped my fork into it and eaten like it was the main course, when she wasn't looking.

Here it is, all ready for dipping.

And then I thought, hey let's really ramp up the calories and the tangy flavor with some cream cheese and stuff celery with it!

I have no idea what quantities of the cranberry "salsa" I used or the cream cheese, but just add enough until it looks like this.

You may be thinking this is the most bizarre combination of flavors, but I promise you, your mouth will be working on enjoying these flavors for the rest of this year.

I stuffed the celery and then had some left, so I just dipped some celery pieces into it. I don't think there is anything you can't dip into this.

And the salsa is great on the turkey meat itself.

And extra great on fingers as you lick the bowl clean.
Oh and I bet the cream cheese version will make a nice spread on a sandwich with leftover turkey. 
Enjoy and go see what she's up to on her site!!

Linking here.  and here and  here
and definitely here:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

I was sending someone some mailing labels today that I wanted filled out and returned and as I put a stamp on the return envelope I was enclosing, I had a little trip down memory boulevard.

When we were little, we watched afternoon cartoons sometimes on channel WLVI 56 which was really channel 9 in our house.  Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Mighty Mouse, Casper.  No, I didn't grow up in the 1940s,  but these were all that were available on channel 9 in the 80s.  Something tells me WLVI wasn't a high rolling station.

Anyoldcartoon.  Eventually, there was Jem (the music sensation), He-Man (by the powers of Grayskull) and She-Ra (Princess of Power) and a slew of other cartoons I hated in the late 80s.  GI Joe (the real American hero) was probably in there too.

Always though, they had "uncle Dale" who would announce things in between cartoons and say happy birthday to kids.  I was always mystified that on our  birthdays, the all-knowing Uncle Dale never said happy birthday to us.  I wasn't sad really, just confused.  And eventually, when I realized that the channel came from Boston, I just figured he didn't wish us happy birthday because we weren't cool enough to live in Boston.

Someone, probably  not Uncle Dale because it's not his voice in my head, would also do commercials for things you could send away for.  They were always in New York, New York, which seemed to so trite given there was a song, and they always required that you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.  It was free, but you had to send in the envelope.

I cannot tell you the number of years I spent puzzled by this.  I wrote letters to people when I was pretty young, like maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, so I knew about the need for a stamp and where to put it (a very important lesson learned after I 'helped' my mother stamp nearly 100 envelopes and just stuck the stamp on whichever corner I felt like). 

I couldn't understand why they always made sure to tell you to put a stamp on it.   I knew the mailman wouldn't deliver it without a stamp.  Did we all learn that?

But the part the mystified me the most was the need to self address it.  I remember asking my mother what self-addressed meant, but I gave her no context.  I walked into the living room and asked her.  Since I always ask questions out of the  blue, she said "It means you wrote it yourself" and that was that.  So I went back to watching tv wondering how they would know if I let someone else address the envelope for me.  Did they want it to be in a child's handwriting?  Would an adult's handwriting disqualify it?  If I let my sister or a friend address it and it was childlike, would they still know it wasn't me?  What if I was having an especially neat handwriting day (don't you remember having those a time or two and being so pleased with yourself?) and it didn't look lik a 9 year old wrote it? 

And the biggest question of all, how would they know?????

I can't even remember what you would get if you sent in a self addressed, stamped envelope.  A poster?  Stickers?  Recipes?  VD?  Does anyone know ?  Did any of you ever send one to NY, NY and get something back that was worth the price of 2 stamps?  Is there anyone out there that remembers hearing that phrase "send a self addressed, stamped envelope" and wondering how they would know if you self addressed it?

I'm not sure why I never tried it.  I really wanted whatever it was they were sending back in the self addressed, stamped envelope from New York, NY.  I don't know if I was too scared that they wouldn't believe I had done it myself or if I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. 

I do know that I did NOT know that it meant sending TWO envelopes.  If I  had done it, I would have sent one envelope, with a stamp, that I had addressed myself and I would have received nothing back because I didn't include the second self addressed, stamped envelope.  They never said that.  If they had said 'be sure to include a self addressed, stamped envelope' I would have had a better understanding, I think.

As I write this, I wonder if I actually did try it and received nothing and then asked my mother what self-addressed meant.  And when she said it meant that I had to do it myself, I probably walked away thinking 'but I DID write it myself' and continued to think those omnicient tv people were watching my every move.  They knew what I was up to.

Uncle Dale has still never said happy birthday to me and I'm sure he knows it's coming up soon!

Linking up with these funny ladies.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Let's Be Aware of A New Awareness

THis post generated a few good comments that support me in my decision to stop being aware.  People agree that this whole breast cancer awareness month is a little passe.  I'm done capitalizing those words because breast cancer doesn't deserve the high acknowledgement that comes with capital letters. 

We're all aware.  As I said in a comment, I suppose even African tribes who speak in clicks are aware of breast cancer.  Oooh someone's going to go all politically correct on me over that one.

I resent the fact that "they" decided pink would be the color of breast cancer.  Not just awareness, mind you, but everything to do with breast cancer.  I have a bit of a pink obsession, but I get a little upset when October is all about the pink and "they" think they can sell you everything just by making it pink.

I know what we can do!  Let's make November "Stop Being Aware" month.  Everyone could just go about their lives in total oblivion. 

Proctor and Gamble wouldn't have anything to sponsor. 

-.000000009% of the sales of nothing would go to support nothing.

There would be an invisible ribbon on every product that supports Stop Being Aware month. 

Yoplait would have lids that say nothing but "Yoplait".  

15% of lia sophia parties would go to nothing. 

Everyone could send the chain emails to no one, telling them nothing.

There would be no special icons to add to your Twitter handle or facebook page to let everyone know that you support Stop Being Aware month.

 You'd have no hats, t-shirts, necklaces, sweatshirts to wear letting the whole world know you paid much more than you needed to just to show your support for not being aware.

Fundraising companies who give so very little to the research they claim to support would have nothing to give to no one.  They might actually go out of the non-profit business.

People would actually start talking to each other and exclaim things like "What? Wow, I've never heard of that!  What happens?  Is there a cure for that?  Would you like this batch of cookies I made?  They're free.  No percent of the non sale of these will go toward anything, not even your disease that you just told me about."

Remember when ribbons were to be worn in your hair?  Or tie around old oak trees?  Or decorate packages?

Yep.  The good old days.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Little Tribute To October

Let me get on my soapbox for a moment and air an ugly grievance.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Seriously.  In the year 2012, we have to have a month where people become AWARE of this horrible thing we call breast cancer.  

Are there people who are really unaware of this disease? 

I could go on and on about how much this irritates me and how it's high time we stopped calling it awareness and, oh wait, I'm going on and on. 

Anyway.  It's October.  This is the month Americans have designated to think about breast cancer.  Like you never think about it any other time of the year.  Oops, there I go again.

So, in light of this special month of awareness, I  thought I'd bring back one of my own favorite posts.  What- you don't have posts you've written that just entertains you again and again? 

I sort of hesitate to repost this because I think when I orignally wrote this, some of my parents' friends weren't avid readers and now they'll have to read about yet another personal event that I'm just putting out there for the world to read.  Oh well, it's what you come here for, isn't it?

Ok, here we go.

So, a short while back, I had to go to the Boobologist for a baseline mammogram. Ugh. The 30s are not a fun decade. Blood pressure talk.  Talk of calcium.  Injuries from daily activity.  Now a mammogram. Not because anything felt wrong but because they like a baseline. So I made the appointment and then it snuck up on me. At 6pm one night. It took like 20 minutes and was a breeze. It's digital, so apparently not as painful as the other kind. And much more modern. My doctor told me I could go to several places that but the Breast Care Center would have digital mammography. Well, who WOULDN'T choose the most modern???   Oh, I'd like the old fashioned kind, the kind where no one can really see anything and is very painful.  Do you have one of those kind?
So, it was relatively painfree and kind of surreal. She was excited to only take 6 pictures instead of 8. She reeked of peppers and onions. And wanted to know all about Gwenstopher. They don't fool me when they take such an interest in you or your pet. It's all about distraction. I'm no dummie. She ended with the fact that 90% of people have to come back in for more screening because they need that for the baseline, so DO NOT BE ALARMED. I only need to hear those 4 words to become VERY ALARMED. She ended with "I mean, if it was something HORREDOUS, they'd call you right away, but otherwise, just wait for the results in the mail." A direct quote, I swear. 
OH GREAT. I spent each day for a few days worried when the phone rang. After about a week, I decided it was nothing "HORRENDOUS", so I forgot about it.

Until we had a snow day. Thankfully, I went to the mail later in the day, or I would never have accomplished anything that day. The pink paper (that is a little trite, isn't it?) said to come back for more images and that it was PROBABLY NORMAL, so DO NOT BE ALARMED. Cue VERY ALARMED FACE AND BODILY REACTIONS- racing heart, shaking, worry, stomach ache.

I didn't like the appointment time, so I called to reschedule. The girl was so nice, accommodating my every need, and we determined a better choice. And otherwise, my choice was a whole month later and though she said I could wait, it was with caution that she said "I mean, it doesn't matter to me, you can wait if you want. It's all what you're comfortable with."
Oh, umm I'm comfortable with a world that doesn't have disease, thanks.  Guess I'll see you in 2 days.

Many scenarios played in my head over the next 48 hours. Knowing I felt nothing bizarre, my doctor wasn't worried when she saw me in September and there were no calls of the HORRENDOUS nature did nothing to alleviate the imaginings I was able to produce.
At last it was time. So, I arrived a little early and was taken right in. This time, a different woman did the images and she was ultra serious and didn't care about me or my cat. She started with something about why I needed to come back in, didn't say it was normal, and that we'll see what the radiologist says after that. No reassurances.
She was quick, didn't smell like food and quiet. This time, it wasn't the 6 pictures, it was just 4, but of particular areas. Dun dun dun.

Then I had to sit and wait for 15 minutes. Another woman came in and said the radiologist would like me to have an ultrasound, so could I go with her. Yes, this had been mentioned as a possible part of the "normal" routine, but I wasn't buying it.
In I went to this room that they tried to make very cheerful. And cozy.  With lots of birdhouses painted on the wall and that didn't make me too happy. And she began to do the ultrasound, going over the same places over and over. Making me very nervous. Then she did the other side, so I at least felt like maybe nothing was weird and I calmed down a little. Maybe just some dense fibers. I am a pretty solid person, so dense tissue wouldn't surprise me at all. And I dont' have big bazoongas, so I can't imagine there's much room in there, so everything must be dense.    People say all the time that they have dense tissue, right? 
But this side required her to dim the lights and do a lot of squinting at the screen. Not a feel good moment.

And it got worse when she quickly stood up and said she'd go show them to him to see if he wants more done.   She hurried out of the room and banged the door. I discovered I really hate birdhouses on the wall and that's what I had to look at for all the time she was gone.  Imagining all sorts of atrocious things. 
I pictured a young guy, feet on his desk, coffee in his hand; the tech goes running in and says "you've gotta see this!  Have you ever seen anything like this before?  Is it supposed to look like that?"
The doctor sits upright and says "damn, we've got to get that out STAT, where is she?"4
"She's in room 100, the one with all the birdhouses, Dr. Handsome."
I'm telling you, I have quite an imagination.
The next thing I knew, she banged the door back open and gave me a paper that says everything is dandy and I'm all set to go and practically ran out of the room! 
Phew. What a sigh of relief. What a pain in the ass.

So, Breast Care Center? Let me make a suggestion. Since you claim 90% of your patients have to come back for more images when getting a baseline, how 'bout you schedule them for 2 visits to begin with. And you don't tell them that the 2nd one is a normal follow up. You just make it standard that you have 2 visits.
And then if they see everything clearly the first time, you call that lucky 10% back and say "hey, you've got nice boobs, don't come back for a year. And go play the lottery!" This way, people like me won't get all worked up about receiving the notice to come back. And you'll save a lot of paper, time, postage and ink because you won't have to send out those follow up letters.
And you can still tell people that if anything HORRENDOUS is on the images, they'll call right away. You could send those 10% who don't need a revist a singing tellegram like this:
da da da da da da da:
about your recent test
you have no cancer in the breast
so jump and cheer
see you next year!
Right, now get your mammogram.
Be prepared to go back for the routine retakes.
And for God's sake would you be aware????

Linking up here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bread Winner? Bread Loser

The other day, I posted this, asking for people's suggestions for a new breadmaker.    At the time, I was just sort of recreationally looking for a new one because mine was working but I thought I wantd to get one that might not kill me with teflon poisons. 

And then I burned it up.  So we don't have to worry about that anymore.

I found a recipe for Devil's Food Pound Cake made in the breadmaker (in the manual that came with the machine) and I thought I'd give it a whirl.  About 10 minutes into the cycle, I was on the phone and suddenly, there was black smoke coming out of the little vent. 

It took me a minute to realize what I was seeing.  It was kind of like someone was smoking and I knew that was weird because no one would be sitting on my floor smoking.  Ever.  And certainly not right next to my breadmaker.  Under my table.

I unplugged it and aired out the kitchen and since it was the machine and not the dough that was burning (thankfully?) I rescued the dough and made cookies out of it.

Sadly, that means I am now without a breadmaker, which I had just become so fond of, most especially for its ability to make amazing pizza dough.  And now that it's gone, all I can think to make for supper every night is pizza and then I remember that sad fact.

So now, I really need your help finding a good one.  I know my sister a-ster loves her zozirusho or whatever the brand is.  I had a Kenmore but I don't think they even make them anymore, according to websites when I was trying to get the owner's manual online.  I don't want something super expensive but not super cheap either.

My birthday is coming up and I need a good suggestion!  I thas to make bread AND pizza dough but it does not need to be able to make jam.  Why would a breadmaker make jam?  I think that's the weirdest asset of the whole machine. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Name Is Sparkling, And I'm Addicted

Have you tried this stuff?  You might think chocolate pieces in yogurt is either gross or meant for dessert and I am here to tell you, that neither is true.

I have a special place in my stomach for Chobani yogurt and I've been eating is since it came on the market.   I even have them sponsor my race and I get the leftovers!

When I was in Paris, I discovered a yogurt with chocolate pieces called Jockey and it was just so good but definitely too sweet to be good for me.  It wasn't Greek, so it was pretty runny.  This stuff tastes exactly like it, so I make it a little bit healthier.  For my daily yogurt at school, I take a bowl with some of this and some of the fat free plain and mix them.  This makes it a little less sweet and since this 2%, the non fat helps balance it.

In my mind anyway.

And the little chocolate pieces?  They are slightly thicker than little chocolate shavings but soooooooooo good.

I get one container of the chocolate and it almost lasts me the whole week.  They don't make single servings of this flavor, just the 16 oz.    It's a sad day when I have to take another flavor or plain with honey, but I can't eat it EVERYday, right?  That would be gluttonous, right?


So, while I thought Chobani had outdone themselves when they invented  this amazingness, this is an equally amazing concoction.

I was not paid or compensated in any way for this Chobani plug, but I would certainly be happy to do so if you'll supply me with free yogurt!!