Looking At Cooking

It was burned beyond recognition. She kicked open the front door and threw the dinner (with the pan) as far as she could out into the four-foot snow. The next Spring, the pan was found clean as a whistle. This old figure of speech describes the whistling sound of a sword as it swishes through the air to decapitate someone. If dinner guests were present, she might have done that. Her anger/frustration was at level red: severe risk threat level.

And then there was the time she had eighteen Thanksgiving dinner guests. She had recently moved into this house with one office chair and a double bed. The previous home was a sailboat. Not having enough silverware or dishes to pull this off was nothing compared to the dining room construction zone that hubby created one week prior to the event. Of course. That’s what guys do. A wall was knocked out with heavy, clear plastic hanging on both sides to contain the plaster radio-active fall-out. Such a nice backdrop to the feast. She was hoping the flowers would catch the attention of her guests instead. Big flowers! It gets better. The 1957 oven with a broken door hanging by one hinge was so small that only the turkey would fit. This complicated the cooking. The cook did not need complications. Figuring out the menu itself was overwhelming, much less how to cook it. But she persevered and even made homemade cheese garlic rolls. Which she placed in the cabinet above the oven to rise. All said and done, the guests were seated and passing the food around. Soon thereafter, a guest remarks that there’s something in the rolls. The hostess said yes, there is. It’s cheese. The guest responded, “No, I think it’s saran wrap.” It was. Dolly Domestic forgot to remove it prior to baking. She immediately made the rounds with the garbage can to collect any and all well-preserved rolls. Funny? Yes. Embarrassing? Double yes. She hasn’t gotten over it. Last Thanksgiving consisted of no guests, sub sandwiches (made with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy) and binge TV. Delightful!

Let’s move on to Christmas. Girlfriends flew in to do a holiday bazaar-like baking extravaganza that became bizarre. Like peanut brittle soooooo stuck to the pan that the candy makers were whacking the pans as hard as they could on the counter edge. To no avail. She suggested that we just make the pan as part of the gift. Vetoed.  How about using the pans as baseball bats (brittle ball)? Vetoed. Never again.

Let’s turn up the heat. Guys…you’re supposed to be the masters of the holy grill. Why is it that when something is burned outside, it’s acceptable? Called “blackened”. “He’s great on the grill.” Even though you can’t recognize what you’ve just been served. Granted, grilling IS harder than cooking inside. It’s that intense, conductive heat that is the challenge. But…if she burned something that bad inside, nobody would eat it. Call for pizza!

The she is me. No more dinner disasters. No more bitching in the kitchen. No more brunch crunch. No more roux without a clue. Ad infinitum. It’s all been replaced with confidence, calm,  good-looking cooking and the joy of cooking. How? http://webcookingclasses.com  Chef Todd Mohr: passionate, hilarious, culinary school instructor whose techniques make you remember what you learned. He makes cooking fun! Lifetime Membership is the only way to go. This is the best investment I’ve ever made. You have to eat. Why not make it exceptional? And fun. I’m talking to the guys here, too. You may outnumber us in this class…

To inspire you, just a few things I learned in the very first class:

  • The only way to cook a recipe with wine is to soak the recipe in wine and burn it.
  • Method cooking versus hit or miss recipe cooking.
  • Don’t guess and gash, use a thermometer.
  • Once you learn the basic saute procedure, you can create your own recipes.
  • Recipe cooking costs more!
  • Fond is the caramelized pan drippings.
  • It’s all about heat control.  150f: gelatinization of starches

                                                  160f: coagulation of protein

        212f: evaporation of moisture

        320f: caramelization of sugars

That’s a lot of potatoes. Hungry for more? Check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left Brain Right Brain Car Strain

So…everyone has heard about the left brain/right brain thing, right? The left brain is our digital brain. The one that is more organized and systematic. That works for us with reading, writing, calculating and logical thinking.

Right brain, the analog brain is more three dimensional. Creative and intuitive. Full of artistic senses.

Which one is more dominant in you? This distinction impacts your personality and decision-making. Or are they sometimes at war with each other? Your emotions are dropping bombs on your logic. Your creative side is launching missiles causing analysis paralysis. Can a truce be declared? Or must the adversaries of the brain duke it out? Neurological warfare.

Leftie knows the words to a song. Rightie knows the tune. Leftie thinks of something in words. Rightie visualizes it. Leftie depends on facts. Rightie relies on feelings. Leftie analyzes it. Rightie imagines it. Rational versus emotional. Analytical versus creative. Logic versus intuition to solve problems. Yin versus Yang.

Examples:

Car guy is at an auction and sees the car of his dreams (or shall we say the latest one). He’s salivating but calculating with caution if he should bid. Analyzing the pros and cons. All his thoughts are rushing together towards the final decision. His wife would kill him. He cannot afford this car. It’s insane to even consider it. It’s over. And then, he starts to sweat. His thoughts diverge. Right brain makes him imagine driving this machine with wild abandon. Self-control goes out the window. His wife doesn’t have to know. This is his new mistress. He’s in love! He has to have her. Sold!

Car guy finds an orphaned Bugeye Sprite looking ever so forlorn and old,  buried halfway down in the dirt alongside a house. It’s been neglected for twenty years. Left brain sees it for the wreck it is. A massive undertaking. Restore or deplore? That’s a no left brainer. Right brain, on the other hand, sees what it could look like, not what it does look like. Visualization. Imagination. Emotions take over. It sees the whole big picture. Left brain, cold and analytical, only saw the parts in minute detail. What a jerk. Or is it the adult and left brain is the child? But then there’s a struggle. Leftie claims to know everything. Rightie tells it you don’t know anything. Later, when car guy looked at a photograph of him sitting in the car, he responded with, “oh my god, look at that thing. What a pile of crap.” But then right brain took control again. He sees a beauty queen in his future. The right brain always wins with this car guy. Right is right.

Ilustration body part,human brain left and right functions, yin and yang, feminine and masculine

How about that guy (which one of you is him?) who has enough car projects for the rest of his natural life? And car parts: so many that he can’t find any! And this is after days of dumpster-diving in his garage, the attic, and every other conceivable haystack. And yet he wonders why he has no time to do ANYthing. Like relaxing for an hour. Loose lug nut whines about it. And then buys another project car. In boxes. What’s with that? Left brain or right brain making that call? Taking him hostage? Messing with his pistons. Left brain says, “now hear this: your blinkers have gone bonkers. You need a tune-up! Your bearings are not straight. Too much junk in your trunk.” Right brain is a free spirit. Right brain sees all this as art with motor skills. The more motors the better. He can move randomly from task to task versus in a sequential order. Too many cars are never a problem.

And here’s a case where left brain kicks down the door after many, many years. This is based on a recent, true conversation that hubby just had. Left brain friend says, “I’m selling stuff. I’m seventy-five years old. What am I going to do with it? I have carburetors, a Bentley, Alfas (several and he just sold two), too many other cars, projects and boxes and boxes of parts. What do you need?” Right brain hubby’s reply: everything that’s not running. Oh boy, I’m in trouble!

 

 

 

 

 

I Gave Myself A Good Talking To

“There’s something in me that I can’t be too good for too long. Whether it’s drinking or eating or flossing my teeth or keeping my public politics neutral (Alternative Truth?). What is it? A parasite? A viral infection? Not enough karma credits built up?”

“None of that. You CAN be good. Your goal is to drop twenty pounds, right?”

“Yes, but it’s turning into a fat fantasy. Did you know that diet stands for: did I eat that????????? I’ve just rediscovered bread. The cure for all ills. Not chocolate. Bread. Bread is my soulmate.”

“But with 1,243 calories per day, you could lose two pounds per week, twenty pounds in two and one-half months.”

“That’s only one whopper for the whole day! I can’t live like that!  Starvation, deprivation. Damnation. Put me on probation.”

“Ok, how about this? Be good 80% of the time (Monday through Saturday noon) and you get to be bad for the rest of the weekend. But ya gotta cut the carbs. You can eat sweet potatoes. And Japanese purple potatoes.”

Snack Canyon

“Well, there goes Happy hour Fat Fridays. And Saturated Saturdays. But at least I’ll still have Sin Sundays. What are those Japanese purple things? Why are they good but a good ole Idaho russet isn’t? You are talking to someone who has a yuuuuuuuge kitchen cabinet above her oven named Snack Canyon. Care must be taken when entering the canyon as you might have a “rock” slide upon you: popcorn, cookies, crackers, jelly beans, nuts, crap candy leftovers from Christmas gifts or Halloween rejects. This barrage of fat fun can be especially dangerous as the only way to really explore the canyon is to perch on a high bar stool. Like being on a cliff. Danger, danger! Then there are snaccidents: eating an entire box of cookies or bag of chips by mistake.

I suppose you want exercise too?”

“Yep. Three hours minimum per week. Do you want to be sore or sorry tomorrow? That’s the question.”

“Does raising a wine glass to my face count as a curl…you know…for upper body strength? I like exercise that is halfway between a lunge and a crunch. Lunch. Some days I care about my weight. Don’t want a butt the size of a double-wide. I’m ready for a fat intervention. Other days, I have no intention. I know someone who quit exercising when she went on a diet. Said it made her too hungry. My television makes me hungry. Should I kill my tv before it kills me? What do you think of that, you gym rat?”

“What a diet diatribe this is. It’s sucking my energy which is already depleted by having to pay attention to so many silly health food suggestions. I have indigestion. And when I get over that, I’m going to eat my entire kitchen. I know, I know…I am what I eat. Therefore, I’m going to eat a skinny person.

Let’s not lose our lives in pursuit of thinner thighs.”

I wonder if I listened…

 

 

The Fairy Godmother Of Us All: Saint Susie

Saint Susie. For as long as I’ve known her (44 years), she has run a field hospital for the wounded in life: the poor, hungry, needy, homeless, unemployed, unemployable, lonely, those that suffer from just plain bad luck. And those that are wild, reckless or dangerous because of loss of hope. Her flock is all-embracing. She is color blind when it comes to race or religion. There is standing room only for those that admire her. If she knew this, she wouldn’t care. Her divine talent in life is not to impress others but rather to take care of them. The saint of the down and out. And the successful up and in who may require little but something. Whatever level their needs are, the helper protector is there. A place to live. Some groceries. Encouragement. Money. Emotional support. Guidance. Love. Transportation. Income. A meal. A respite. Respect. There are no boundaries. The required two miracles for sainthood don’t apply here. She IS the miracle. She has living love for everyone she encounters. This kind and gentle soul expects nothing in return. Ever. She knows the language of compassion. Tender with the young, compassionate with the elderly and tolerant of the weak. Everyone is her brother or her sister. Do you think I’ve said enough? Well, I’m not done.

Our difficulties form our character. She is our mentor. We are her protege. This fairy godmother leaves a deep footprint with her contagious spirit of love. This woman works her mysteriously enchanting magic quietly and with humility (not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less often). Like most fairy godmothers, this one has magical powers that bring good fortune to the heroes and heroines in the fairy tale of life. That includes all of us. No matter what. Her uncanny knack to know when you need her is like pixie dust. Her spell makes us invincible to self-loathing. And helps us find what is really important, not always what we want, but what we need in the labyrinth of life. A rainbow in disguise. Captivating. Inspiring. The archetype of kindness.

You won’t see her on the society pages for charity work. She’s the boots on the ground. No glory. No attention. Just good work day in and day out. Her plate is extremely full without all of this goodwill. But she will drop everything to go slay dragons for you.

Why do I share this with you? Heroines (and heroes) remind us of what’s right and what’s wrong. And show us the qualities we need to be united instead of divided. They inspire us and give us hope. Heroines turn other people into heroines.

This is not a fantasy. She does exist. A living saint. A fairy godmother. The heroine of my life’s fairytale. Go find yours.

 

Grape Expectations

When you hear the word grape, what comes to mind?

He has the personality of a grape.

What’s eating Gilbert Grape?

Grapes of Wrath

Planet of the Grapes

Heard it through the grapevine

Sour grapes

Have a grape day!

Make America grape again.

A wine hangover is called the grape depression.

The Grape Gadsby

The Dementia Diet

Ok….I know you’re grapeful for these grape puns but enough is enough. Let’s get serious here. The latest health claim, some call it the Dementia Diet, is that eating two handfuls of grapes a day will put the cork on dementia and Alzheimer’s along with boosting memory and attention. Wow. Some of us need some of this. Some of you are still puppies: too young to be concerned. But don’t X out here. I’ll get to you down the page.

As you know, there is waaaaay too much information out there in the vast sea of Google University. Fake facts? Who knows. That is to be deciphered. Rather than bore you with a tsunami of information from the medical volcanic internet eruption, I will make waves (or maybe ripples) on this page with tidbits and you decide what floats your boat.

Fisetin (I swear they drank lots of grapes to come up with this name), is the plant compound to improve your brain game. It worked on a very small test batch of mice who were genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer’s but after nine months, there was no cognitive decline. Should humans get complicit in fisetin? I’m game. Another healthy excuse to drink wine. I must live up to the name of my blog. No matter that human trials have not been done.

Love The Wine You’re With

Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon. Indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration, cataracts, artery plaque buildup are also treated or relieved by grapes. The resveratrol found in red wine famous for heart health is a type of polyphenol found in the skins of red grapes. I’ve been taking this supplement for two years after 60 Minutes declared it the breakthrough of the century. Think about the French. They eat tons of butter and drink lots of wine. But they’re healthier than us. Yes, they do practice mindful eating, artesian foods, rest and digest, no foods that are on tv commercials, no fake foods, and no guilt. We can learn from them. I’m starting with the wine.

Gross With Grapes

Grapes are classified as a laxative food because they contain organic acid, sugar, and cellulose. They also relieve chronic constipation by toning up intestinal muscles and the stomach. Grapes are high in insoluble fiber, meaning that it remains intact as it moves through the digestive tract.

Grape Size History

This fruit was first cultivated as early as 5,000 BC. Many biblical stories refer to them as the “fruit of the vine”. Grapes grow in clusters of 6 to 300 on vines. European travelers spread them all over the world. In the 17th century, they arrived in the U.S., migrated to the central valley of California and thrived with the climate and absence of grape-preying insects. Most of the grapes we eat in the U.S. are produced by California.

The Road To Grape Benefits Without The Alcohol

A hangover is the wrath of grapes. To avoid that, try this:

  • Serve stewed grapes with meat items
  • Add grapes to rice dishes for some sweetness
  • Add to fruit salad or green salad
  • Place sliced grapes on a sandwich
  • Serve grapes with cheese and crackers
  • Drink grape juice
  • Just eat them

Don’t Choke On The Joke

Q: “What’s purple and huge and swims in the ocean?” A: “Moby Grape.”

Thank you if you read this. I’m very grapeful!

 

Calling All Car Guys Car Enthusiasts Car Crazies Car Dogs Car Junkies Car Lovers

Hello car guys! Car fanciers. Car fans. Car junkies. Car lovers. Car aficionados. Car buffs. Car fanatics.

Anything but car enthusiasts. That word is just awkward. And so generic. Like the food at Taco Bell. You guys deserve a name that is like the Beatles of music. A word that takes the checkered flag. But hey, I’m just a girl. What do I know? Nothing about cars. Is it two-door or four-door? What color is it? Is the mileage low enough to get out of town without worries? Those are my concerns in the motoring universe. But I love you car connoisseurs. Rolling art professionals (hubby came up with that one). I just spent ten days with you here in Scottsdale/Phoenix at all the car auctions, parties, and events. You are intensely devoted to these rolling works of art. You are ardent lovers of these mistresses. You deserve a better name. So let’s ponder this.

when-you-marry-a-car-loverAutophile: like bibliophile or Francophile. You know…lover of.

Accelerator Appreciator: no explanation needed. Pedal to the metal.

Fancier: a person who breeds animals, plants, etc., especially in order to improve the strain. Don’t car guys sorta do this?

Motor Votary: a person devoted or addicted to some pursuit.

Motor Rooter: a loyal and enthusiastic follower.

Hood Habitue: a habitual visitor to a place.

Spark Plug Swain: a male admirer or lover.

200-8Jack Junkie: not that you have a strong craving to jack up your car…it just sounds good.

Auto Adventurer: you encounter risks and adventures.

Pedal Patron: a person who supports cars with money.

200-4Dashboard Devotee: a zealous follower of the car religion.

Airbag Aficionado: do you talk too much? Do you inflate when you collide with another car enthusiast?

Payload Pundit: what is your carrying capacity for car experts?

Engine  Eccentric: erratic, peculiar behavior, personality and/or beliefs. Are we talking about the engine or the car guy?

200-5Wheel Worshippers: adoring reverence or regard for the car.

Tachnophile: speed lover. What are your RPMs?

Auto Advocate: cars are your case!

Carburetor Connoisseurdo you have Weber carburetors?

NOx Nut: what’s plugged into your exhaust system???

Gearhead: a British term.

200-3Auto Admirer: sometimes this is done secretly, right?

Blinker Tinkerer: for those of you with old cars.

Motor Lunatic: a quote from Norman Dewes, Jaguar test driver.

What name sparks your plug?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Care From Someone Who Really Cares

Something I have to share with you. It’s humorous and heartwarming:

file-feb-08-4-42-36-pm

The punch line: the price of the book was seventy-five cents. Don’t you love it?