inspire me to taste

Ever have one of those moments when you think that, if you don’t eat a donut soon, You Will Die? I am having one of those moments right now. Right now.

Good thing the nearest fry daddy is 45 minutes away or my teeth would be sinking into something I would regret come morning.

Oh- the cruelty of it all.

Anyway- that isn’t really what I have come here to say. I have come to talk about inspiration, things that inspire me to cook and write, often at the same time. While wandering around a little bookshop in Burlington the other weekend, I found Julia Child’s book, “My Life in France”. How Exciting. I have wanted to read this book for quite some time and here it was, sitting on the shelf at a reasonable price, and I even had money to buy it. So I did. I started reading it today and fell in love before I had finished the first chapter.

Who *couldn’t* fall in love with the ever-lovely Julia Child and her dear husband Paul? She is so enthusiastic and warm in her approach to life and her descriptions of Paul are charmingly etched with love. She tells the story of their transplant to Paris in the late 1940s, settling in with the natives, learning to cook and finally figuring out ‘who she was’ with such delight and intimacy that chapter after chapter turned and I found myself being truly connected to her and excited for her discoveries and adventures.

She inspires me with her effortless grace that is something less than graceful; I love that she can’t fit in the Paris fashions and yet so eagerly ‘goes native’, all six-foot-two of her. I adore her honest, decadent way of describing meals she eats- words that can only be written by one who has truly Loved the meal without reservation or disguise. There is nothing ‘cool’ or hesitant about her involvement with food and it fascinates me to read about the awakening of her passion for it under the rigorous and heart-felt instruction of a people who have known what it is to hunger. Perhaps that is why they are so attentive to their cuisine? It is a national treasure to them, one Julia discovered and was instrumental in making available to those of us who may never see the ‘winking lights’ of Paris.

I have great hopes of making some of the incredible sounding dishes she describes such as, “sole meuniere” and “oeufs brouilles“, the second being a glorified version of our rather homely scrambled eggs. Who knew there was a *right* way and a *wrong* way to scramble eggs? I don’t think I will ever, ever make them again with my customary, calloused ignorance.

I eat too fast and I don’t think about what I am eating half the time. If I do think about it, it is usually a vague, nagging worry that it will make me fat or some such horrific thing.

This Must Change.

Goutez! Goutez!” The little head chef at the cooking school Julia study at would say, “Taste! Taste!”

You must taste and teach yourself to taste well, to appreciate the good tastes, develop them and savor them while they last.

So. That’s what is inspiring me this week in the kitchen- and every where else, really. Taste! Taste!

Julia Child tasted like most people never allow themselves to, this is why she is inspiring to me.

The End.

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proteinize me

I know. It’s not a word, yet it made it into the title of this here post- we’ll just look the other way and move on…


My husband has a fondness for Fast and Loud. I am not entirely sure how he was attracted to me- a girl who believes humans really weren’t meant to go much faster than a horse can run and would rather spend an hour chopping veggies rather than use the somewhat noisy food processor.

Ah so. Here we meet in the middle-ground of true love, him with his motorcycle and me with my spinning wheel, happily living together in a world where fast and slow don’t necessarily exclude one another.

How do we fuel this expedition of life? Trying to eat healthily and stay fit to chop veggies or work on cars isn’t as easy as it may have seemed at first. For starters, there is the whole Protein dilemma. How much is enough? How do we get it? How do we make it taste good when we’ve gotten it (I do still believe the answer is ‘deep fry it’….) How do we afford good meat so as to get *protein* and not *hormones* and *antibiotics*? And the ever present- What about snacks?


Questions, questions.


For tonight, the answer lies with this experiment that will be conducted in the kitchen tomorrow- homemade protein bars. Ta-Da.


I did an exhaustive (and exhausting) search for protein bar recipes online and came up with enough that I was able to cannibalize several, mix the pieces with ideas of my own and come up with something of a recipe to try.

*oatmeal
*cocoa powder
*honey
*peanut butter
*sesame seeds
*flax seeds
*coconut oil
*organic rice protein powder

Proportions are subject to my arbitrary whim, as are cooking times, storage and methods for consumption. I’m thinking I’d like to try making a baked one with quinoa flour…. what thinkest thou?

 

"Why did they separate us?"
"Probably for the sanity of those around us...."
"Yeah. Probably."

a very scary story in which the publicity is just too much

It was a dark and stormy night.

That’s the way most scary stories have to start, right?

Well, this story – in which I am scared out of my wits by a genuine fan – does take place at night (that’s the dark part) but there is no storm involved. Sorry.

It was dark though, very dark, and my husband and I were strolling down the sidewalk, arm in arm, headed home after an unsuccessful trip to the movie store downtown. (The movie store closes at seven, not nine, Ann. Duh.) We were talking about something, I am sure, or maybe just walking along in love-struck silence under the orange glow of the streetlights when we were approached by a woman who was leading along a little, fuzzy white dog on a leash. She didn’t seem to notice us as we walked closer to her, and we certainly didn’t pay much attention to her when she was suddenly right in front of us, the little dog sniffing around in the leaves on the edge of the sidewalk, she looked up at me and yelled,

“SWEET POTATO PIE!!!”

She had a huge smile on her face, but I jumped back and immediately tried to hide behind my husband, who was now looking at the lady and the dog – determinedly pawing in the sidelines. She seemed to be about middle age, short brown hair with a happy laugh and not too dangerous a build – the dog was nothing to fear either but my voice and breath were stuck somewhere between my heart and my stomach. Why was she yelling foods at us? Did she want me to respond with another type of pie? Were we doing desserts, or any food, or ones that have to do with potatoes? Or was she just crazy? Or was I sleeping? I stood there, staring at her, mouth open, cutting off the blood to my husband’s hand with my grip on his arm, wondering if I should just run.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you. You wrote that recipe for sweet potato pie in the Reporter. I love your articles, I read them in the paper….. “

I had absolutely forgotten that my column with the sweet potato pie recipe had been published that day. I can’t really remember the rest of what she said because I was so relieved we weren’t about to be killed by someone with an obsession about sweet potatoes. How creepy would that have been? I think I nodded and I must have smiled a little because she kept talking as she walked on, followed by her small dog, apologizing for scaring me and promising to be more discreet should we ever meet in the daylight. I don’t think I had said a single intelligible thing.

Alex and I turned to continue home and he said, “Babe, we need to work on your people skills…. especially if strangers are going to keep coming up to you and saying how much they like to read your column in the paper….”

The next day, when I wandered across the street to the library to pick up a book, the librarian took one look at me and hollered, seasoned with a terrific amount of glee,

“Hey! SWEET POTATO PIE!”

This time I was ready for it and laughed as I said, “Oh, you saw the column yesterday, eh?” The delights of living in a small town. I did much better in the daylight as we talked a little bit about sweet potatoes and pies and books and the freelancing course I took a month ago- Alex would have been proud of my people skills.

I think I am going to start giving my columns more interesting names so that when people scream them back at me, I will have a better idea that they are not threatening me, but simply quoting me. Here are some ideas…

“Hey! YOU’RE GORGEOUS!”

“Hey! REVENGE OF THE SPIDER SPINSTER!”

“Hey – 200 THINGS TO DO WITH BLUE YARN!”

“Hey! I MARRIED A YANKEE COP!”

“Hey! RIDING THE BUS WITH MY APPLE!”

And we all lived happily ever after,

The End.

i got the friday blues

It’s Friday night and I am once again huddled up on the couch, watching Shrek 4 for the seventeen-bajillionth time. It has become my mindless, feel-good movie of choice.  I gathered my water bottle, T.V. remote, cell phone, Bible and laptop around me and am determined not to move until my husband comes home in the morning. This is my stake-out.

For the last two months, Alex’s days off have been Friday and Saturday, which meant Sunday bore the brunt of my “Back-to-Work-Blues”, but this month his weekend has moved to the middle of the week, and my dislike has shifted to Friday. Will I ever get used to that empty feeling of the first night he goes back to work? The house doesn’t like it, and neither do I.

I have no inducement to go to bed on Friday nights, and am too tired to do anything productive, so I will probably just sit here and vegetate until I accidentally slip into sleep, probably while Shrek is playing through for the third time…..

Here I go.

Sincerely,

me

 

the waffle-fairy *is* just a bedtime story; breakfast on a cloudy day

I have just made a perfectly crispy, golden brown waffle with my stove top Belgian Waffle Maker.

Ann- 1; Waffles- 3

It’s a lovely thing to behold, sitting among a short pile of soggy, beige waffles- the unhappy offspring of my inexperience and the new recipe I am test driving this gray morning.

The plan *was* to go hiking in lovely 70 degree weather today, but we are stuck inside instead, disappointed and rather disgusted at the weatherman’s gross miscalculation- it is a raw, cloudy 50 degrees with rain. Alex is sleeping, I am producing anemic waffles at an alarming rate in the kitchen, Louis Armstrong is singing “La Vie En Rosa” in the living room. “My life is one of Roses….”

I am making a special breakfast for The Man because he will surely be disappointed when he wakes up and finds that Spring has once again snuck around the corner of next week. For the past few weeks it has been, “Next week, next week the weather will be fair and we can spend some time outside…” Next week comes and Spring has vanished into a day that is far too much like my earlier, ugly waffles. Undercooked. Unenthusiastic. Yuck.

Lemon Meringue Waffles. How does that sound? Lovely and sunny, right? I have never heard of such a thing before, but I am making them even as I type. The lemon pie filling is resting on the stovetop behind the waffle iron which is busily baking the last waffle. The meringue is sitting next to me on the counter, looking like the fluffy clouds we were expecting to see in the sky today. We shall eat our Spring.


Here Comes The Sun:

I found My*T*Fine pie filling in the store yesterday while we were doing our weekly shopping and nearly fell apart. I love that stuff, but I haven’t seen it outside the Midwest! It comes in a lovely little vintage-styled box at something like 69 cents, in chocolate, butterscotch and Lemon. Yum. It’s rather like cheating, but you have to add egg yolks and attend to it on the stove for a while, so it’s a little like making lemon filling from scratch too. It’s a happy medium that I can deal with!


Laughing At Clouds:

I made meringue with no cream of tartar. Is there some sort of award, or recognition for that? Is is even possible? I had no idea it was until I hopped in and Did It. Meringue it was, and it adorned the lemon filling deliciously.

3 egg whites

1 Tbsp sugar

Beat the egg whites until they are ‘frothy’. Add a little of the sugar. Then Beat – Vigorously – adding a little more sugar by turns until it is all incorporated and the froth has turned to a white, shiny foam that holds a peak when you remove the beating instrument. *thank you, vintage egg beater… for making my life so easy…*


I’ll Make WAFFLES:

1 3/4 cups flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tblsp sugar

Mix well.

Beat three egg yolks  *with*

5 Tbsp melted butter or cooking oil *and*

1 1/2 cups milk

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stiffly stir several times so that everything is damp. It still should have some dry ‘pebbles’ in it, like pancake batter. Don’t beat it- save that for the egg whites. Speaking of which, you should have some more of those resting somewhere handy after making the lemon filling and waffle batter. Hopefully, you have three of them. They need to be beaten, whipped, stirred up and fomented until they look something like the meringue. Now, you are going to FOLD them into the waffle batter. Oh. My. Word. Fold gently, and your reward shall be light, fluffy waffles.

Sounds like a fairy-tale, don’t it?

The waffles get cooked on a waffle iron until they are tanned and lovely, then topped with a dollop of lemon filling and at last, graced with heavenly meringue. I made up several of them then put them on a baking sheet and broiled them for about a minute, just until the tops of the meringue browned up nicely.

 

20120320-173102.jpg*ok, so that one in the back burned up nicely, still working on oven temperatures…*



And then we dined in hope of a Spring that was right around the corner.

****Not For The Faint Of Heart***

Traipsing into deep waters, we are, when we ask, “What if we want to make our own Lemon Filling?”

Suppose we don’t *want* to depend on a powder well-dressed in its little vintage box?

What then?

This then: “Joy Of Cooking” has an answer for all such daring supposings.

“Lemon Meringue Pie Filing”

Combine in the top of a double-boiler:

1 cup sugar

5 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

Add very gradually, 2 cups water *or* milk

Stir and cook these ingredients over hot water for 8 – 12 minutes, or until the mix begins to thicken. Cover and cook 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Pour a little of the mix over 3 beaten egg yolks in a separate container, carefully, so as not to cook the egg yolks. Beat together and then add to the sauce in the double boiler. Cook and stir gently over boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat again.

Add 3 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon zest

Cool slightly by gently stirring to release steam, then pour into a waiting pie crust (or in our case, adorn some lonely waffles with it…)

Go Ahead. Make Your Own Lemon Filling.

I’d love to hear how it turned out……

can i call you ‘maggot’?

Where would some of us be without our childhood friends?

I would probably be a much lazier, more ‘no-account’ version of myself without my dear friend, Rachel. Oh yes, Rachel, this post is about you.  Now you’re famous. Kinda.

Alex and I started running the other day and it was only mildly traumatic for me, I definitely think I will be going again. I told this to Rachel and said that I should employ her as my personal motivator. My dear friend Rachel, who does 100 push-ups in one day, has several jobs, teaches youth group, manages a cabinet shop, runs marathons, courts with a fellow who lives lightyears away (in London), knits, and still manages to bake cookies for the guys at work on a regular basis. I should have known what she would say in reply…. “Oh yeah, I could definitely do that…. can I call you ‘maggot’? You know, in a motivational way- ‘DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY, MAGGOT!”  Oh my.

The first time I ever had a real conversation with Rachel, we ended up discussing toenail polish and plotting out our futures as old maids who lived on the coast of *somewhere* and raised goats. We were like 13 and 14 years old. Rachel was young and slender and dreamed of moving to Europe and marrying an artsy man who listened to Josh Groban and read Jane Austen. I was young, not so slender and rather uptight about marrying a farmer who wasn’t going to forbid me from writing. I also wanted to go to Europe, preferably with Rachel, and listen to Josh Groban while basking in the warm, Italian sun with a personal interpreter to tell us what in the sam hill the man was singing *about*.

 After 700 years of spinstertude, at the ages of 17 and 18, we decided to grow older and then open a coffee/tea, yarn/book shop, still on the coast, still with goats, knowing that  we would need some sort of occupation, even as old maids. Rachel is the girl I cried with when I realized that Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, Edward Ferras and John Thorton were fictional characters that never really existed- and never would exist. She was realizing the same thing at the same time and we grieved together, then wiped away our tears to determine to love this *real* life we’ve been given, whether it ended in marital bliss or a spinsterly retirement with goats and endless knitting.

Then Rachel moved to a Bible School out in the wide-open state of Montana where she tamed wild mountain goats and learned to butcher elk. She also developed a fondness for cowboy boots and the smell of horse tack.

I traveled East to the wild state of Maine, and then Vermont where I would work as a toilet scrubber, cake decorator, greenhouse junkie, hardware honey and eventually, waitress. I developed a fondness for semi-vegetarian cuisine and got in touch with my closet-hippie. Groovy.

 Where are we now? Needless to say, our plans of being old maids on the coast with books and goats have been altered in the extreme, to the point where *some* people (Rachel and I) consider them *canceled* since we’ve both been found by pretty nice fellas- at least we think so. I grew up and married the handsome new cop in town (or maybe it was the other way around…) and Rachel, well, we’re still waiting on updates from across the Big Drink. They went “FaceBook Official” last Friday and I was there with the biggest of goofy grins on my face, ready to set my hearty “LIKE” on the match.

I dare say we will continue on, loving and living and arguing about which of our children should be forced to take cello lessons. She will inspire me to better myself and ‘fully enjoy the moment’, and I will remind her to breathe and not run herself into oblivion.

This has been a brief, totally random tangent.

Thank you for reading.

homework, in five or seven syllables

Lesson 9 – Poetic Form

I had to choose between writing a traditional English sonnet, or three haiku poems. For me, this was like choosing between having one of my legs cut off, or getting a strawberry ice cream cone; Easy -peasy.

I love haiku in the same way I love Twitter- it causes you to be brief and succinct. There is a challenge to contain your words and force them into saying something BIG in a short way, or something LONG in a brief way, or something POWERFUL in a subtle way. I also appreciate that they are measured by syllables, meter and ideas rather than rhyme. I hate rhyming, not sure why, but there it is. I had a lot of fun coming up with these and have been counting my syllables all day…..


So unprepared for
How loving you was going
To make me lovely



Beautiful Spring Sun,
Like sweet kisses on my skin,
Reminds me of you.



I plan on wearing
Gaudy Costume Jewelry
To your funeral.



It is beautiful,
Is is not? Every time she
Lights up when he smiles?



Bullfrog songs at night,
Ever loud and lovely, yet
Chasing sleep away.



Keep making faces
Like that and the world just might
Let you be alone!



Why do we worry
When the sun still faces us
With a free, brave smile?

And There You Have It;
Homework Haiku Poetry.
The End.