Cloudy with a Chance of Overreaction

I refuse to grocery shop today, and you can’t make me. 

 First of all, it’s not my normal grocery day, and secondly, even if it were I think I’d still put it off because everyone is shopping today.  You see, it’s going to snow, and there is a certain segment of the population who still seems to think that we’re living back in the days of Laura Ingalls. Like in the days before grocery stores, when prairie dwellers’ lives depended on what they stored up for winter. They stock up for a snowfall of 3 to 5 inches like it’s the impending doom of Y2K or something, with bottled water, and enough toilet paper to stretch to the moon and back 6 times.  And like Y2K, the coming “winter storm” will probably not live up to the hype, but even if it does—People, it’s 5 inches of snow, not 5 feet!  Relax–most of you live in town, anyway, so your streets will be cleared in a day or so.

 But like weather-induced lemmings, folks will run off the cliff of sanity straight into the depths of bread and milk hoarding.

 My naturally rebellious nature simply won’t allow me to go there.  I refuse to be swayed by the mass freak-out.  In fact, I triple dog dare the storm to dump enough snow to truly snow me in, if it thinks it can.  And even if it does, that’s okay too.  Why?  Because I’m smart enough to actually keep some extra food on hand at all times.  Genius, isn’t it?  And you know what else?  I even go so far as to keep basic staples on hand, so that if I would happen to get snowed in without bread, I could *make* bread.  (What?! That’s just crazy talk!  I mean, nobody’s actually made bread since back in days of Laura Ingalls, er, hey, wait a minute…)  Time consuming, I know, but we’re talking about being snowed in, so presumably we’re stuck there with nothing to do but bake anyway.

 As much as I doubt that we’re in for the new Blizzard of ’78, I’m going to leave you with a recipe, just in case.  It’s a muffin recipe, which is like kind of a cheater bread, since it requires no yeast or rising.  Who knows, you might even have time to make this without being snowed in.

Mandarin Orange Muffins 

1½  c flour

1 ¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp nutmeg

²⁄3 c sugar

¹⁄3 c butter, melted

1 egg slightly beaten

¼ c milk

(1) 10 oz can mandarin oranges, drained

Topping

¼ c melted butter

¼ c sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

Sift flour with other dry ingredients.  Combine butter, egg and milk, and add to dry ingredients.  Mix until moistened.  Fold in oranges.  Fill greased muffin tins ¾ full.

 Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Remover from muffins tins and dip tops in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

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Tasty Thursday: You Don’t Know Fat

It’s always amusing to me when the government decides to tell us something about ourselves that we already know.  This condescension usually follows some expensive study or precedes some expensive program, paid for by our tax dollars.  So, today I saw the following headline, and I couldn’t help but share it with you: Massachusetts Proposes Weighing, Measuring Students.  It seems the state government there is concerned about rising obesity, and part of their plan to combat this includes height and weight measurements for all public school first-, fourth-, seventh-, and 10th-graders, to determine whether they are overweight. Results would be sent home to parents along with diet and exercise recommendations.”

 Oh. Heck. No.  Couple of thoughts here.

 Okay, first of all, in this strained economy, can I get a show of hands from those who think that this is something we need to be spending money on?  I mean, come on, who doesn’t know if their kid is fat?  Myrtle doesn’t need the school weighing and measuring her little Bubba Jack—she’s the one who has to keep his portly behind suited up in husky sizes.  Second of all, while this might be welcomed with open arms in Massachusetts, I guarantee you it would never fly in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the motto is “If you want my breaded tenderloin, you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”   In The Haute, parents would be like, “Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to feed MY kid!  Why, if Pete’s Pride pork fritters and RC Cola were good enough for me, then doggone it, they’re good enough forhey, you gonna eat that?” Thirdly, this type of thing would only serve as something for kids to rebel against.  And can you imagine the peer pressure? “Come on, Harvey, all the cool kids are eating cheese fries.”  Poor healthy Harvey’d be gettin’ his butt kicked on the playground for packin’ rice cakes in his lunch.  How sad is that?

 Besides, I have a hard time believing that those east coast kids are really all that chunky anyway.  At least compared to the kids here in the Midwest.  While New England kids are growing up on seafood, and, well, whatever else it is they eat over there, young Hoosiers are busy giving the Chinese buffet a run for its money.  In fact, I bet if Massachusetts compared their fat kids to our fat kids, they’d find that they are sorely lacking in the cellulite department. 

 Amateurs.  Crying wolf over there with your “fat” kids.  We’ll show you some fat kids—just as soon as we get done eatin’.

Tasty Thursday: The Cookie of Life

cookie

See this cookie?  Now, at first glance, you might think it’s an Oreo.  And that’s what it wants you to think, I suppose, because it appears to want to be an Oreo really, really badly.  But take a closer look.  It doesn’t say Oreo, does it?  In the middle where it should say Oreo, it instead has a woman.  A woman, I might add, who looks as if she’s been applying said cookies directly to her hips.  But it can’t be these cookies that gave our fat-bottomed friend her full figure, because you’ll notice that these cookies have “zero trans fats” written right on them.  Or then again, maybe it IS because of these cookies.  I mean, look at her—she looks a little angry standing there with her hands on her ample hips.  Almost as if she’s saying, “Hey, wait a minute!  You tricked me with that zero trans fats thing!  I thought this stuff was diet food!”

Would the person who thought of this please come forward?  Really. Embossing “zero trans-fats” ON the cookie?  ‘Cause, you know whenever I’m eatin’ me a fistful of faux-reos, I’m all about how healthy they are.  In fact, I can often be found examining each cookie individually to see whether or not it is labeled “zero trans-fats.”  You just can’t be too careful these days.  Why, I don’t eat anything unless the marketing people tell me it’s good for me.  Sure, that fat free half & half is probably some sort of homogenated petroleum product, but doggone it, the packaging tells me if I use it I’ll live forever.  And who doesn’t want to do that, right?  I mean, what could be better than subsisting, for-ev-er, on nothing but the fat free fountain of youth?  Cancer?  Bah!  Who’s afraid of cancer?  Heart disease?  It bounces right off.  Why I’ve got a veritable force field of health protection around me, now that I’ve eaten a whole package of trans fat free cookies in one sitting. 

And one of these days, when I’m celebrating my 612th birthday, and the space-age media androids come to ask me how I’ve lived so long, I’ll give credit where credit is due.  “Sandwich cookies,” I’ll say, “and not those over-priced name brand ones, either.  The cheap, imitation Oreos that say ‘no trans fats’ on them, Sonny, that’s the secret to long life.”

Tasty Thursday – Pork Fritter Pig-Out

Ugh.  It never fails.  Whenever Hubster has to go out of town for work—which doesn’t happen very often—I take the opportunity to avoid actually cooking, and indulge my inner junk foodie. 

 You guys know I really do love to cook good food. Those of you who know me well know that most of the time you won’t find anything pre-fabricated in my fridge or cupboard.   But there’s something about having a night with just me & Mini Me that just screams for Mister Fritters and fries, with an apple turnover chaser. 

 I guarantee that we would not be eating like this if Hubster were home.  First of all, if he *were* to decide to eat pork fritters, you can bet he’d ONLY eat the Pete’s Pride pork fritters.  Hubster’s all high falutin’ like that.  That’s the only kind his family ate when he was coming up, and that makes them, therefore, superior.  Born with a silver fritter in his mouth, he was.  Quite obviously, coming from such an affluent background (one where money was no object, and the Pete’s Pride was abundant) he has no appreciation for what us poor folks ate.  Hence his disgust at the mere mention of Mister Fritters.  And don’t even think about Spam.

 Secondly, Hubster is so doggone spoiled by being married to me, that he thinks he’s too good for pork fritters these days.  He thinks because he gets actual FOOD for supper 364 days a year, that someone OWES him real food on that rare day when someone might just want to fry up some pork fritters. 

 And so it is that whenever Hubster leaves town, Mini Me and I go off the deep end.  Last time, I was really hungry by the time I got the fritters fried and scarfed one down, then thought, “Hmmm, I’m still hungry…I think I’ll eat another one.”  Yeah.  That’s what happens when you eat too fast—your stomach doesn’t have a chance to tell your brain that it’s full.  So, I about made myself sick eating another half fritter before I realized that the second helping wasn’t such a good idea.  Oh sure, a self-controlled, rational person might have just thought, “Is a second pork fritter EVER a good idea?  Nah.”  But I’m neither self-controlled, nor rational most of the time.  I’m pretty much still the same little girl who ate Cornies ‘til she puked hunter orange all over the avocado green carpet back in 1975.

 Of course, I want to eat healthy, so I got a loaf of Flavorite wheat bread to put our fritters on.  And, you know, ketchup is almost like a vegetable.  I’m pretty sure that cancels out any of the bad attributes of the fritters.

 Hubster will probably read this and be like, “No wonder every time I come back from a trip your face is greasy, you’ve gained 5 pounds, and the house smells like the Spelterville Inn.”  Now you know, Honey.

Tasty Thursday – The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

I ran across an article online today about the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra.  These folks play music on instruments made from fresh veggies.  Of course, since fresh vegetables are pretty perishable, new instruments have to be constructed each time the orchestra plays.  Kind of reminds me of something my brother-in-law, The Carnivorous Preacher, would do if he were a vegetarian.  The Carnivorous Preacher is famous not only for being able to make music with just about anything, but also for his penchant for creating things—most notably things made from the inedible parts of deer.   I’m sure that if there were a local group that got together and made music with hooves, hides and antlers, he’d be all over it.

Back to the Vegetable Orchestra.  At their website, http://www.gemueseorchester.org/, you can hear samples from their cds—yeah, they actually record this stuff.  Mini Me and I listened to a couple of clips.  One sounded like knapsacks full of angry monkeys, tied to 15 cranky toddlers, being chased through a pudding swamp by an elephant with PMS.  But, hey, if you’re into that sort of thing, and you’re planning to be in Vienna in May, there’s a concert scheduled for the 10th.  Go for it.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to just make some soup, instead.

Tortellini Vegetable Soup
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) beef broth
1 cup each frozen corn, sliced carrots and cut green beans
1 cup diced uncooked potatoes
1/2 Tbs Italian Seasoning
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
Salt & Pepper to taste 

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, saute the onion and celery in oil. Add the broth, corn, carrots, beans, potatoes, and seasoning; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add the tomatoes and tortellini. Simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes or until tortellini is heated through. Makes 10 servings.

Tasty Thursday: Baggity Bag Bag

This Tasty Thursday’s post doesn’t involve a recipe.  Instead, I want to talk about my grocery shopping companions.  No, not Mini Me and the Hubster.  I’m talking about my reusable shopping bags.  Now, you may be thinking, “Moody, I can’t believe you manage to remember to take shopping bags with you to the grocery store.”  Well, I do, and I’ll tell you why.  Because my loathing of plastic grocery bags is more powerful than any cancer drug-induced memory loss.  It’s not so much the bags themselves as the sheer quantity of them that was sending me over the edge.  Sure, you can reuse them sometimes, but the supply far exceeds the usage.  This is because the average Stuffmart employee uses 47 bags to bag 26 items.  “Ooh, that looks heavy, better double bag that…oh, hey meat, better triple bag that, wrap the bag around, tie it in a knot, and drop it in another bag….shampoo, that needs its own separate bag…better put that gallon of milk in a bag, or two, ‘cause it’s heavy…”  It just never ends.  And so, my utility room was being over run with plastic bags. 

Then, one day, when shopping at my favorite grocery store, I noticed the reusable bags.  Sturdy, big enough for a good amount of groceries, and only 99 cents.  I decided to get a couple.  You know what?  I LOVE these things.  I now have three of them, and they will hold most of my groceries.  Although, the baggers still ask me if I want my milk in a separate bag.  I’m not sure what’s up with that, because friends, if a gallon of milk gives way, ain’t no little namby pamby plastic grocery bag gonna contain it.  Another thing I like about them is that unlike the evil plastic bags, they are not painful to carry.  Ever almost amputate your hand trying to carry all of the groceries in one trip?  Not with these puppies.

One more thing…if you’re still thinking I’m crazy, consider this: those plastic bags are made from petroleum.  Price of gas got you down?  Hey, maybe there’d be a bigger supply if so much petroleum weren’t being used for all these stinkin’ bags.  Just a little food for thought here on Tasty Thursday.

Tasty Thursday

Went to see Dr Schmidt the other day.  Of course, I’d already had my official post-op check-up back in February when my sutures were taken out, but because I coordinated that with a visit to Dr B it was on a day that Dr Schmidt wasn’t actually in the office.  So, when the nurse called me back, she said, “Okay, refresh my memory…what are we doing today?”  Apparently most people only come see the doctor when they’re told, rather than telling the doctor they want to come see them, which is what I’d done.  I explained that since I hadn’t actually talked to him since I got my surgery results, I wanted to discuss reconstruction.  When Dr Schmidt came in, I explained to him that I’d decided I didn’t like the idea of the latissmus dorsi flap reconstruction because I didn’t want to lose the muscle in my back.  I told him that I was seriously considering DIEP reconstruction, which is the one where they make a new boob from your gut fat.  I told him that Dr Haerr had said I could have reconstructive surgery as early as June, and so I wanted to get the ball rolling now.

Dr Schmidt is so cool.  Gotta love him.  He told me his concerns about the DIEP surgery—mainly that it’s a 10 hour procedure as opposed to a 2 hour procedure, with makes it inherently more risky.  But he also added that it gives the best cosmetic result. Then he said, “We’ve got you scheduled for another mammogram in June.  In between now and then, do your research.”  Then he added, “I’m going to refer you to a local plastic surgeon, because your skin looks really loose, and I think they might be able to do a tissue expander and implant.”  Believe it or not, loose skin is a good thing in this case.

Keep in mind that the tissue expander was my original preference because it’s the least invasive option, but as a general rule it isn’t done after radiation.  Dr Schmidt continued, “Talk to the surgeon about doing a tissue expander and see what she says.  Now, when she sees you’ve had radiation she’ll probably immediately say LD flap, but ask her about the tissue expander.  If it ends up not working, you haven’t lost anything and you can pursue whatever method you like.”

It never fails.  Whenever I go to see Dr Schmidt, I never hear what I expect to hear.  I’m just thankful that this time it was GOOD news.  So, I’ll be meeting with a plastic surgeon in a few weeks.  I’ll keep you posted. 

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Okay all you BC survivors out there.  You’ve got a little less than a week left to send me your stories of the most insensitive comments you’ve received.  (See original post HERE) Deadline is March 18th.  

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I’ve decided to start a new tradition here at In The Pink.  Those of you who know me in real life, know how much I love to cook.  And not only that, but I love to talk about cooking.  So, from here on out, each Thursday shall be known as Tasty Thursday.  On Tasty Thursdays I’ll post something food related.  Maybe a recipe.  Or a story about food.  Maybe my Ode to Mayonnaise.  This week, I’ll kick off Tasty Thursday with a recipe I made recently that was very, very yum.  This one comes from the April issue of La Cucina Italiana. 

Portafogli Imbottiti

1 lb pork loin

2 oz pancetta, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

finely chopped parsley

mozzarella cheese

flour

olive oil

¼ c white wine

1 Tbs tomato puree

½ c chicken broth

1 Tbs lemon zest

portafogliCut pork widthwise into four slices and butterfly each slice to create a pouch.  Open each pouch and pound both sides.  Combine the pancetta, garlic, and a bit of parsley, and place inside each pouch, then top with mozzarella.  Close the pouch, and gently pound edges to seal.  Lightly flour pouches.  Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat.  Brown pouches until browned on both sides.  Transfer to plate. Pour off and discard any excess fat from the pan.  Add wine, puree, and broth.  Bring to a boil and return meat to the pan.  Add 2 Tbs finely chopped parsley and lemon zest.  Cover and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate, drizzle with sauce and serve.