Monday, December 23, 2013

Book reading preferences.

I remember when the ebook readers first came out. I said "not for me, I love holding a book, I will never read books that way." Then...I bought my first high end cell phone. I immediately purchased a book of short stories by John Steinbeck, (one of my go-to authors) and downloaded to my little cell phone. I have been reading his works since Kensington High School, "The Pearl" was the first story of his that I read, and only because it was assigned reading. That is all it took, over the years, I started collecting all of his books. I found some very rare ones when I went with SweetHusband to out of the way book stores all over WNY. He is a book collector indeed. Then I began to think how selfish I was to hoard these works of his, so after collecting them for 10 years, I donated them to our local library book sale. I hope someone who loved JS as much as I did found them. Then last year, I purchased a KINDLE FIRE, not for the book reading capabilities, but it was just too neat not to buy! Email, facebook, great web browsing and yes, Kindle is known for it's user friendly book app. At first, I purchased low cost books on Amazon, and then I got brave and went onto the county library ebook site. I was able to use their tutorial to set everything up, and it worked! Free books, how can that not be a good thing eh? Granted, sometimes I need to be put on a hold list, but hey, free is free. And if I download a book that does not read as well as I thought, just press "return and delete", no trips to the library needed. Those last few words are scary, what if so many people who used the library for taking out books turn to ereaders like I did? Will they all close? Will children miss out on the wonderful experience I had of going to the Roosevelt Library and taking out books? New literary worlds, just waiting to share their landscapes to me. Who can forget reading My Antonia, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or all those stories recommended by the librarian-she knew my reading patterns and always had suggestions for me. One non-library reading that I loved was "The Golden Book of Knowledge." SMom bought those from Loblaws where she worked, I would read them cover to cover-each week was a different book, filled with colorful illustrations explaining everything from A-Z that you did not know you needed to learn about. When my SChildren were small, they were being sold again at Bells Supermarkets,I bought them, slightly different from the ones we had as a child, but still fascinating. Reading to the kids, I seemed to enjoy them even more than my SC. I still have them, and shared with SGrandSon, he was slightly interested-just to be polite. I also love to read Cookbooks, especially old ones. The instructions they used are so interesting, you would think that a recipe is a recipe, but the cooking terms, types of food and way of describing the recipe all seem to be in a foreign tongue sometimes. And how our eating habits have changed over the years: butter, big chunks of red meat were the stars and no such thing as "add one package of instant pudding", or "melt in microwave!" A SCousin just bought me "Come Home to Supper" by Christy Jordan. She is a strong religious woman who has her family right up there in the important list-talks about making time for her kids and husband, and treating each day as a gift to do what you want. And, by the way, she offers some great recipes-I have followed her online for a few years and her recipes always turn out. And, I send the link to her recipes to myself on email, then cook while reading the recipe on my Kindle-how insane is that? I always worry that my Kindle screen will end up with the same stains and splatters that my cookbook pages have on our favorite recipes :) If I couldn't read, I would not be able to cook, cereal for three meals a day for us would be the norm. So bottom line, never judge new finagled inventions, you might be using one when you least expect. Thanks for reading, here is your reward, click here: Julia Child

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NonTurkey Casserole

NonTurkey Casserole

If you are interested in a break from TURKEY this week and next, here is a recipe that I just concocted. But wait, it was so good according to the guys that let’s say I CREATED the recipe. There, that sounds divine.
I had some Smithfield Rosemary and Olive Oil pork tenderloin left over-we usually do not have red meat in the house except for the rare Sahlen’s Hot Dogs, but I have been advised again to increase my red meat consumption, gross. So, I am blindly agreeing with the doctors and calling it red meat and also the spin doctors for the Pork Industry and referring to it as “The other white meat.” A piece of meat like this will give us three meals!
Leftover number one was the following casserole. And since I only used about 4 ozs of meat for the entire dish, I added to the protein with Feta cheese.
Here goes:
-2 cups cooked rice-I only had white rice because I used up all the brown rice on that recipe for stuffed pepper soup that I made for the recent Soup Tasting Fundraiser-seemed to go over well-let me know if you want that recipe
-1 LARGE TBSP. Crushed garlic-added to rice while it is cooking
-One bag BIRDS EYE frozen mixed veggies-cooked. Tim reminded me that he used to like the “carrot squares and peas” that I gave them when they were kids. At that time-I used canned-and it was only slimey carrots and peas-these BIRDS Eye veggies are really good: peas, carrots, corn and green beans (Matka just popped into my head to remind me that she liked to cook elbow macaroni and add these mixed veggies to it for a meal-thanks Mom)
-4oz. Cubed cooked tenderloin pork (cooked chicken or that “T” meat of course could be used)
-2 TBSP. Olive Oil
-2 TBSP. Lemon Juice
-1 cup Chicken Broth-if you think you need more-splash it in-you do not want this to be dry when you take it out of the oven
-1 cup Feta cheese-crumbled (I only had plain, but I am thinking that one of those flavored kind with Mediterranean spices would be good-omit the additional basil-but maybe not the one with the sun-dried tomatoes though-but you decide-hey, you the boss!)
-1 tsp. Basil-dried -or any other not too overpowering seasoning -the lemon juice and olive oil keep the flavors light for this dish
-1 tsp. Black pepper Stir all together very well in an ovensafe pretty dish, cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes Did you know you can buy a box of Reynolds “Wrappers”-box of 25 pre-cut foil sheets for $1.00 at Dollar Tree? Perfect size. I know, if you count the amount you get against a regular box of Reynolds foil-it is not a bargain-but if you count that you always need a piece of foil now and this one allows you to just pull it out the box-snappy-well, that is a savings in my book!
Stir before serving, and remember, if you change just one ingredient-you can lay claim to it being YOUR recipe-my new rule!
Reviews: Three out of three thumbs up, and plenty left for another meal. My kind of cooking.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nightmirth on Williston

Nightmare we have all of heard right? We have a dream that is so real and so upsetting that we awake with a startle and remain upset even if we know it was not "real" What do you call it if you have a dream where you are having a fun, mirth filled time that you awaken laughing and can not stop? Well, now we have a word "Nightmirth" and if you live on Williston Road instead of "Elm Street", it is called "Nightmirth on Williston!" And the reason for this new word description? I had a Nightmirth on Williston to beat all others last night! Rare is it for me to sleep soundly through the night, and this year has been a particularly health changeling one-and continues regardless of the steroids and antibiotics poured into me. But, it is what it is, this too shall pass, and whatever feel-good phrases I can talk myself into. I will survive! Hey, that is a good one, song perhaps..............
So about this Nightmirth, I dreamt that our Kiwanis Club was doing a live segment on how to make bread-we did a run through, I was to handover a portion of the ingredients from the refrigerator when asked-live on camera. Someone was up front, nervously but efficiently giving the directions and completing the steps for the bread making. Well, just before my cue, I dropped some butter on the floor, slipped and cleaned it up-all off to the side, then I was asked for an EGG (should have know this item would be the precursor to calamity), I dropped the egg and then fell-standing right on screen view. It was one of those slapstick falls-feet up in the air, arms flying for purchase, all to no avail. I got up, plucked another egg out of the safety of the egg tray and proceeded to make my way to the front-but I was laughing so uncontrollably that I could not stop and off it went-laughing enough to destroy the sanctity of the segment being broadcast, falling down laughing, getting louder and louder-then I woke up laughing in the same manner-trying to stuff the noise into my pillow-the sound must have sounded alarming because my SweetHusband also woke up and was worried that I was crying, I could not explain for a time, finally he realized that I was laughing and could not understand why I was out of control with happiness. He was assured that I was ok, and he went back to sleep-and so did I-still laughing into my next sleeping adventure. As soon as I woke up this morning-I started laughing again-silently so as not to put SH into another fright. When he woke up he asked "Do you know what happened last night?" and I starting laughing again-what a wonderful feeling to laugh at the beginning of the day! I am even smiling while I type this. With the health problems causing me to change routines for the next month or so, it is nice to have a rush of positive energy, after all "Laughter is the Best Medicine!"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Seeing the beauty

This is goldenrod-a beautiful, bright plant.  But to some of us, it is the enemy.  It makes me sneeze, cough and feel anything but golden.

In life there are many things that look beautiful, but the trick is to see them for what they are. And there are things that don't seem so great, but they also have beauty.

Free time comes to mind. Who would have not wanted a "get up and go do stuff" lifestyle?  When I was at my busiest, I sometimes wonder how I had time to work.  I have a "way too much unstructured time period" since my knee replacement surgery in June.  Due to complications, my exact plan fell to pieces. I did this, that and the other thing to make sure all my bases were covered for care of myself, my Sweet Husband and Sweet Son while I was temporarily in the hospital  and home recovering.  However, the unexpected happened, I went back into the hospital for another 8 days, then a few weeks later, back in for an overnight stay.
I had assumed that I would need to rely on others for a six week period until I could drive, but this level of care that was required was over the top. My Sweet Daughter was chief chauffeur, shopper, person to lean on, not only for me, but for every possible need my family would have, SH and SS were amazing seeing to me at home.  Sweet Sister#1 rescued me in many ways, Sweet Brother#1 was there for me and Sweet Cousin Susan was my medical advocate, and others were there for us-in a myriad of ways.  Family members, friends and strangers did the best: they prayed for me.  Obviously that worked, here I am rambling.

So, the free time thing..... Well I have had a need not  to do my everyday schedule, or the next day I am a mess! It was a hard lesson, but now the unstructured time has become a necessity.
I have been advised to go slowly, to eat red meat (HA HA HA, do Sahlen's hot dogs count? That is the only red meat we have.) 

I will and we will do fine.  I am driving, etc. 

Live is progressing.

And free time is meant to be used,   It is a beautiful thing.

Because you took the time to read this, here is your reward:

Click here:
Josh singing for you.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lace-Curtain Irish

I have written many times here about my Italian Heritage, especially when reminiscing about SGrandma Viviani.. She and my SMom set the flavor scale at Italian in our house, with a smidge of Polish here and there borrowed from their neighbors where they lived in Pennsylvania.

My other genetic pieces are a touch of French from my SM's paternal Mother and Irish. Other than my Irish last name, that is as far as it went for me.  No influence from that side of the family to ingrain the Gaelic traditions into my soul.

However..................... I do like me some white lace curtains in my Kitchen.  There is no better feeling for me to be washing, ironing and replacing these beauties.  I know, ironing is not something I try to do as most of you know, but this is different.  As I spray the starch on and glide that very lightweight appliance over the cloth, it is such a pure activity.  I think about how difficult it was in years past for me and others,  I recently replaced my 43 year-old-made-of- lead- ironing-board-which was covered with at least 10 ironing board covers giving it a nice cushion when you were dragging that oh-so-heavy old-iron over the surfaces. This new one is lightweight, one layer of cover and the newer iron is also very easy to lift and move.  I sometimes think I will not have the same end product-a crisp ironed-in crease where the folds go, but you know what?  It is what it is, I can see a crease and my bruised hands no longer wish to go for the knife edge effect of the past.

I am through and through a Lace-Curtain Irish when it comes to my Kitchen! A Lace-Curtain Irish
refers to Irish immigrants who, though living in shanties would hold the head and attitudes high because they would hang nice lace curtains in these hovels-looking respectable from the outside.
There is also a phrase Shanty Irish, this gives those who are are labeled that the reputation of living in squalor.  Yikes, no in between? You are either clean or dirty when it comes to judging your housekeeping skills from the old days.
 I think I would like to make a new category "Lace-curtain to a degree".  That is what I am, no all lace curtains, not squalor, just making my way through the important cleaning and looking up fondly at my blindingly white lace Kitchen curtains when I am feeling overwhelmed with the everyday cleaning chores.

At 3am last night-don't ask!  I was assured that all who were thought to be lost in the throes of deep sleep were, so I decided to wash my kitchen and bathroom curtains.  I know, not normal, but who saw me write normal anywhere on my application?  I brought them all up from the dryer when they were slightly damp, laid them flat on the back of the couch, smoothing out any threatening wrinkles and knew I could not bring out the ironing board-which squeaks like heck when opening, and drag out the three step ladder needed for replacing the curtain rods. I so wanted to finish the job last might and wake up to the bright curtains-but, that would have been pushing my luck of not awakening anyone.  So I washed windows and  finished the curtains this morning and now I am a happy "Lace-curtain to a degree"  lady.  Life is good eh?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Too late to say hello

I was reading a blog this morning and the question was "Is there anyone you did not have a chance to say goodbye to?"
 Of course, it would be Mom.... I think people in a coma can hear, I am convinced of it,so I said all I wanted and needed to say with her in those final hours,  but I would so wish I could look into those blue eyes that she allowed me to share and have her acknowledge that I am sending her on her way with love.
I think of her daily and say hello all the time, to her pictures, at the cemetery, when she drops a feather in my path.   Thank God I will never have to say goodbye to her again.

Then of course I would have listed my father, but the tragedy is, we never said hello.  Oh of course, I did see him, I have counted up visits as under 10 in my lifetime of 20.5 years that I was alive while he walked the earth.  Imagine that, less than a dozen visits from your father.  Occasionally the visits lasted a few days while he was "on the wagon" and looking for a place, and my kind-hearted Mom allowed him to stay, and another time, just before my oldest sister's marriage, he stayed with us so that he could "give her away". How generous of Mom to let him have that ritual when he did so little to earn the right.
I  always wished  that I would have had a father, no a DAD.  You know the kind, who cared about you, cherished you and protected you.  Unfortunately, I had the kind that I needed protection from.........

Enough angst from him, he has been dead for 44 years, You can't say goodbye if you never received hello.
























s p a c e







Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chili and the Classics

I love to cook Chili, the aroma as it simmers all day is second only to the smell of the onions and meat sauteing.  I can not remember ever having Chili as a child.  Maybe we did, but I don't remember eating it at my house or someone else's home, or even at a restaurant, but really, most families of my era very rarely went out to eat a meal. Ice cream, yes!!
I have made Chili the same way for many years since the early '70's, and then about 15 years ago, I started fussing with it more. Heck, I spelled it wrong until a few years ago-who knew it didn't have an "e" at the end?  Apparently, everyone but me.
I used to just grab a bunch of cheap hamburger-high fat, one small onion, brown and add tomato products, red kidney beans and packaged seasonings, simmer and done.  One time, my SSon's father cut up some potatoes, added them to the pot, and we called it "Willy's Chili", not too bad actually.
Now, I use a small amount of ground turkey or chicken, my favorite meat to use is Chicken Italian Sausage, just push the meat out of the casing for browning-never buy the already cooked version-barf.
Now, I add a teaspoon of cumin to the browned meat, onions, peppers-a variety of colors-and any other seasonings, like red pepper, chili powder or sometimes I use McCormicks Chili seasonings with my cumin.  I let the dry seasonings mix with the hot pot contents to release their flavor-I am sure I saw that on the Food Network!
Then I add some minced garlic-a big tablespoon, I do not saute' because if you burn that garlic it messes up the flavor of the entire Chili.
Next is a very good quality of canned diced tomatoes, two seasoned chopped tomatoes, veggies like zucchini and water. Now, here is my latest change: I drain and rinse my beans-black, red and white. I just read that the liquid that they are packed in holds all the gas-making properties.  Who knew?  I use more and a variety of beans than in past years because they are a healthier protein.
Cover and let simmer for an hour, then uncover to thicken, stirring occasionally, for as long as want.
It is mandatory to listen to classical music while making Chili, I just made that up because I am listening to a wonderful CD "TENORS in the Grand Tradition", featuring di Stefano, Corelli, Pavoritti,  Bjorling (my SStep-father and my SHusband always discussed the proper way to pronounce this singer's name), Tagliavini, Gedda, Bergonzi, Tucker, Alva and a favorite to pronounce with a "V": Wunderlich.
I love listening to classical music, and am so blessed to have a SH who also enjoys this music.  When my first marriage ended, the first thing I did was to buy classical music cds at Bell's Supermarket-they had a different one each week, and the price was really affordable.  I have really branched up and  out in my collection of classical cds since then, filling two shelves on our music case, but at times I still play one of those life-savers that I first bought. It was not that I was not allowed to play classical in my first marriage, it just caused such complaining that I took the path of least resistance. Who needed that stress........
When my SSF was in his final years, classical music gave him great comfort, so I made cassette copies of our collections, arias only since he said he did not like classical music pieces.  I brought them and a player to his assisted living room, and asked the staff to play them for him when my SMom was not there.  The music  seemed to calm him greatly.  He had Alzheimer's Disease, so his recent memory was not available to him, but he remembered his love of Arias.  I hope someone does that for me if needed.
Those who know me, know that I have a very diverse taste in music, classical is just one, but it is the one that dive bombs to my soul.
And for putting up with this long post:
Giuseppe DiStefano Puccini, La Fanciulla del West.

and this one too:
Fritz Wunderlich Lehar Das land des Lachens

I hope you have ways to give yourself calm and enjoy what you like.