Thursday, October 23, 2014

Turning a dinner disaster into an edible meal the next night

I don't often write about cooking because my sister is a personal chef and my food sucks by comparison.
Everything in my sister's fridge, especially the leftovers, are delicious. Not so in my house.
For some inexplicable reason, my crockpot meal Sunday night was really bad.
I made a whole chicken with lemon, thyme and white wine. The chicken was OK. But the potatoes, carrots, celery and onions on the bottom of the pot were uncooked, even after seven hours on low.
Before I discovered my disaster, my husband talked me out of making broccoli, because we had these other vegetables. Well, there's nothing worse than partially cooked potatoes. They are just inedible even after I put them in the microwave for 10 minutes.
At this point everyone in my home is staving so we made do and had lots of leftovers.
The next night, I turned the chicken into a chicken and wild rice chowder from the Better Homes and Garden Crockpot Recipe Book.
Unfortunately they don't publish their recipes online so I can't link to them but it took cooking carrots, celery, mushrooms and onion in butter. Add flour so that it's a chowder and not a soup, four cups of chicken broth, three-quarters of a cup of cooked rice, one and a half cups of half and half, a little extra thyme and seasoning and voila. Chicken rice chowder.
I've made this before with a rotisserie chicken and it was great.
That how I rescued a four-pound chicken dinner. We've eaten the chowder twice now and I think I'll have it for lunch and we'll be done. At least the chicken provided us with three dinners and a lunch.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola hysteria

I watched congressional hearings yesterday where it seemed lawmakers, especially Republicans, only wanted to blame President Barak Obama for Ebola than discuss a thoughtful way to deal with the outbreak in the U.S.
Wait. I mispoke. Is it an outbreak when only 2 people have been infected? I think not. While I sympathize with the two nurses who contracted Ebola, let's be thoughtful for a minute.
No one seems to remember that patient zero, Thomas Eric Duncan, had raging symptoms of Ebola as late as Sept. 28. With Ebola's incubation period, why has no one mentioned that the 50 people who had contact with Mr. Duncan before and after he got sick and have not contracted the illness or shown symptoms in the 21 day incubation period?
This is a good news story.
Tomorrow will be 21 days since Mr. Duncan was transported to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
I'll tell you why no one has mentioned all those people being safe because it doesn't serve the anti-Obama rhetoric that politicians are spouting.
There's an election in a few weeks and the only truth the public is being told are the lies that will get these baboons elected.
Be aware. Get informed. Be a real citizen and not a puppet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Walking Dead revived

Wow. Wow. Wow.
I made my husband watch the season 5 premiere of AMC's Walking Dead with me tonight. He said he's going to have nightmares and he wasn't even watching the show.
It was freaking scary.... drama, drama, drama of the good kind.

I don't want to give too much away for anyone who hasn't seen it, but this was the big reunion episode since they were driven off from the prison. One can be forgiven for forgetting that at the end of season 4 Rick was still separated from Judith and Beth was still missing.
Tonight, the only person still in mystery land is Beth.
I guess I'm not being fair if I say that season 4 wasn't dramatic. The season finale with the rape, almost rape, of Carl was pretty dramatic. But I felt that season 4 as a whole had more low than high points.
There were so many scenes in this year's season opener that had me on the edge of my seat, gripping a pillow and sitting super close to my husband because I was so scared. The butchering scene was just horrific.

Watch first four minutes of the season premiere:

 I haven't read the comics but I know from reading forums about the show that there were cannibals in the comics.
I'm glad that the cannibals seem to have made a brief appearance because I don't think I could have stomached episode after episode of fearing being eaten by other humans.

Again there were gratuitous gory scenes. I especially liked the close up of the zombie chomping on someone's face. Nice.

Overall, I can see why my friends thought the episode was fabulous. I did not cry unlike others, but I did feel a little softness in my heart when Carol and Daryl were reunited.
I have to comment on Carol. She has fast become my most favorite character along with Daryl. It was was awesome to see a woman be the hero for a change. But it's not just that. I loved her kick-ass nature in this episode, but more importantly, she has fast become the most complex character on the show. She does what needs to be done, more so than Rick or any of the other characters. I found one of the most powerful moments last year was when she had to kill one of the young girls because she'd become psycho. That was tough to watch.  This week she got on her inner zombie (a move I feel they haven't done since season 1 when Rick and Glen covered themselves in zombie guts to get a car) and was like a clever female MacGyver. 

Just a quick note: Was I the only one who noticed the gratuitous missing chest buttons of Maggie's top? Really?Was that necessary? That was just too darn obvious.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New website

A couple of announcements before I detail my lunch experiments.
I officially launched my freelance writing/editing/website content/newsletter/grant writing website at
Check it out and see if you have any freelance work you need done.

Second, I'll update some TV viewing shortly. The new TV season just started and I've watched some shows. Can I say, shocking start to The Good Wife, one of my favorite shows. Look back soon for a piece on CBS's Person of Interest.

Next, I've made lunches now for a month and think I've figured out a routine. As unexciting as that sounds, lunch is a routine. I try and give my daughter a different lunch every day, but inevitably there is a repeat day. Usually she gets the cheese stick and crackers more than once a week, but I mix it up with different fruit, yogurt or a treat.

I was giving her my homemade breakfast bar almost daily but I ran out and have to make more. They are pricey to make and fairly high calorie, but full of natural goodness with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut. See Nigella Lawson for recipe details.

Waffle sandwiches with cream cheese filling have been a hit. I use one frozen waffle, toast it, cut it in half and spread fruit flavored cream cheese in the filling.

It's not worth it to give too much of one thing. When I give my daughter a full sandwich instead of a half, she leaves half of it uneaten.

I started giving my daughter a treat once a week when I noticed, I've been to three lunches at the school, that most of the kids get a treat every day. Oreos are the popular treat of choice and I give my daughter two once a week.

My daughter has bought lunch twice so far. One day was Domino's pizza, the other was today when she got mini pancakes. She asked to buy lunch again, but the menu looked like crap. I told her she can only buy her lunch once a week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School lunch update

My anxiety over school lunch has not waned too much. I've had some success and some failure.
She's eaten her veggies every morning except one. She ate her sandwich one day, but not the other.

When she rejected the sandwich I moved to a stick of cheese and crackers.  The breakfast bars are a huge hit. See Nigella Lawson recipe.
For the most part, she doesn't eat as much as I expected. For example, today she didn't eat her pear and she loves pears.
I'm pretty proud of the fact that her lunches are very healthy and she's eating them. The first two days of this week I gave her half of a Fibre One bar. That was a big treat.
I've got a recipe for a different kind of bar that is mostly made up of dates, dried blueberries and almonds. I hope Chloe likes it because it will be much lower calorie than the Nigella breakfast bars.  

While I'm figuring out the food, Chloe can't seem to keep track of her things.
She lost her Tupperware and her pear last week when she dropped it on the floor in the cafeteriua. I can understand losing the pear, but why not pick up the Tupperware????
She lost her water bottle twice in three days. On Friday she lost her Tupperware, water bottle and a plastic bracelet.
I admit I flipped and put down some rules. Food only goes in baggies. No more water bottles. Rely on the school drinking fountain. No more taking jewelery to school.
I feel like a mean mommy but jeez, she wouldn't remember her head if it wasn't attached to her body.,

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nosy rude strangers

So, I was just reading about my friend's experience on Facebook when she joined a Yoga class.

A woman approaches her and says the class is really hard and it's really hot and she should probably do another class.

One of the comments on her post is from another friend who said she was in a yoga class once when the instructor came up to her and told her she was doing the pose incorrectly and should leave the class because she was upsetting the energy in the room.

How horrible. Now for my experience:

I was at Meijer a few months ago and my daughter was tired and cranky. She was whining and crying and throwing fits all over the store so finally I just headed to cash out.

I'm standing in line while my daughter was sitting on the floor, somewhat making a scene and this white-haired woman in the line next to mine says this:
"Are you abusing your child?"
Stunned I think I said:
"Are you serious?"
She then went on to complain that she could hear my daughter screaming all over the store.
My response:
"She's having a meltdown. It's what four year olds do."
I think I went on to say something about, if I was abusing my child I'd be hitting her.
An older woman in a wheelchair also in the line next to mine said:
"I think she's just tired."
"Yes. Thank you. She's very tired."
This exchange just ruined my weekend. As you can see, months later, I'm still not over it. In fact, I stayed away from Meijer for a while because I didn't want to run into that horrid woman again.

 I thought back to it after reading an op-ed in the New York Times this week by a man who has two teenage daughters. He was taking their picture on a ferry to an island he goes to annually. These pictures are a tradition he does every year.  I think he was implying he was an amateur photographer and took a long time to get the right picture.
Near the end of the photo shoot some man approached the girls in front of the dad and said something about the girls being exploited and they didn't have to put up with it.
The op-ed writer told the man he was the girls' father and the guy left.
It turns out the girls are adopted from China and the intrusive man, who turned out to work for Homeland Security, thought the dad was taking pictures of the girls to be sold or used for some illegal jail bait use.
The dad was very offended and when he told the girls why the homeland security guy was concerned, they were grossed out by the implications.

The purpose of the piece was about intrusive strangers somehow feeling comfortable making accusations against people, especially in public. I mean really. What happened to manners?
To me, it's pretty easy to spot someone abusing their child. I've heard many parents slapping their kids in stores, although not necessarily seen it.
I hate to say this, but spanking isn't illegal.
I remember this one trip, California 2004, me, Julius, Dad, Mom, Michelle and Nick in a mini van. Nick was really acting up and my mother said:
"I think someone needs a spanking."

spanking photo: Fresh Coffee Spanking Freshercoffeespanking.jpg

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

School lunches

I've been pretty anxious about what to pack for lunch for my five-year-old at school now that she's in kindergarten.
My father made my lunches growing up and while I ate them readily when I was little, I stopped when I got older.
Firstly my father used wax paper instead of plastic baggies to wrap the food so cheese in particular would get hard and in kid terms, gross.
By junior high school I had developed very bad eating habits by mostly not eating breakfast and lunch and gorging once I got home from school around 4:30 p.m.
For my daughter's first day I packed a jam sandwich on whole wheat bread, no crusts, cantaloupe, apple sauce, a small baggie of flavored water and a small blueberry muffin. There were also cucumber slices and grape tomatoes for her morning snack.
Since I was able to clarify this morning that I can give my daughter nuts to be eaten in the cafeteria, tomorrow she'll get a small baggie of almonds instead of the muffin or apple sauce.
The lunch bag isn't that big and everything except for the sandwich was in a container. I'll have to see how hungry she is when she gets home. My plan is to give her yogurt smoothies or a cheese stick for protein, but didn't get around to making the smoothie last night.
I'm also going to make breakfast bars, which are essentially oats, nuts and dried fruit, for her lunch because 1. She likes them. 2. She eats them. 3. They are filling.
I'm baking another batch today so I'll post photos then.

It took about 8 hours to upload that photo. Not sure what's happening with blogger and photos and videos but I  can't upload them half the time.

That is a big pan of the Nigella Lawson recipe for breakfast bar containing nuts, oats, dried fruit and held together with sweetened condensed milk. They are very high calorie, but the bar sizes are small.

Anyway, lunch update: My daughter came home with her lunch bag and -- shocker here -- she hardly ate anything. She still had the full sandwich, the apple sauce and most of the cantaloupe. I wasn't surprised by the sandwich and apple sauce, but sport candy cantaloupe? She ate the small muffin, a bite of cantaloupe and drank water for lunch.
She then proceeded to eat half of a cantaloupe, half a big round cantaloupe, for dinner along with her portion of chicken pot pie and veggies.
I hope she isn't inheriting my childhood eating habits.