Pasta Water as Salty as The Sea

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Quick tip for all of us home chefs out there…

The water in your pot, with which you will be boiling your pasta, should taste as salty as the sea.

No joke!

Purchase salt in bulk, folks.  Because you will be using copious amounts if you like to cook pasta as much as I and the rest of the world does.

Once you obtain the level of water in your pot that you will need to cook your pasta, open the pout to your salt container and have at it.

Pour for a bit, then stop, stir and taste it.

Taste like salt water?

Not sure?

Then not enough salt.  Keep pouring!

You’ll know when it tastes like the ocean.  And then you’re ready to boil  your pasta in it.

Why so much salt?

Because this will flavor the pasta from the inside out as the pasta absorbs the water, creating tastier pasta.

Because the truth of the matter is, no matter how yummy your homemade spaghetti is, the pasta is the foundation of your dish and if your pasta is bland, then your meal will be lacking!

 

Walk Safe

Back when I was in college, oh so long ago, they had a program called Safe Walk.

The idea was that anyone who felt nervous about walking alone after dark, whether from class or dinner or a party, could call from any number of university “phones” sprinkled throughout the campus and be guaranteed a safe escort home.

It was sponsored by the university, who had appointed their Campus Security division to manage it.

Do you have any idea how many times, since college, that I’ve found myself in a situation where I wished, very badly, that there was a university phone nearby?

It’s scary to walk to your car in the dark across a deserted parking lot.  Or to try to find it in a parking garage at any time of day.

I propose you use “Safe Walk” whenever the situation calls for it.  Ask someone in the grocery store to walk out with you to your car when it’s dark out and the parking lot is vacant.  Don’t walk alone on the street, even in broad daylight, if you can avoid it.  Find a policeman, fireman, other ladies, to escort you to your destination

Don’t be shy or embarrassed or worry about putting someone out by asking them to be your bodyguard (You don’t have to tell them that’s how you view it; though it may lighten things up a bit if you did!).  They will be honored to give you a hand and most likely have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters who they’d like to think would be protected in the same way.

Or, they themselves have been in a situation like yours, and completely understand.

And it’s ok to be a little paranoid.  A lot of not-so-nice things happen to solitary female figures…

so don’t be solitary…

Be safe!

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

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Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt.

Really?  We’re about to talk about a book that came out in ’94?  Why is this still relevant?

Well, I’m with you.  I watched the movie back in ’97, when this topic was hot.

And that seems like forever ago.

But, this was picked by the ladies in my Book Club to read for the month of February.  And come to find out from “AJ Fikry” who owns the local bookstore downtown, it’s still a popular pick for many book clubs today.

Well, it was an inside peak at a Southern city, in the 20th century, that has resisted transformation over the centuries and is reminiscent of the Gone With the Wind era.

In Savannah in 1997 there are still debutante balls, cotillions, extravagant Christmas parties at the homes of the wealthy, mansions inhabited by millionaires, women still addressed as “Lady … “, gentlemen’ clubs (and I am not referring to the seedy ones of today!) that are invitation only, dinners where the man of the house dresses in black tie and the woman of the house wears a ball gown.

The city is contradictory, however.  The perfectly preserved veneer of the city does a good job of hiding the changes that have come about since its days of former glory.  The debutante balls are now held for uppercrust black women.  Hustlers are roaming the city squares, blending in with the students from nearby colleges. The women addressed as “Lady so-and-so” are not always female.

The attempted modernization is subdued, kept under wraps, a blind eye is turned to it, or rebuked.  There’s just too much opposition to change and the noises and distractions of the world.

Interesting cast of characters. Intrigue around a murder case which involves one of society’s wealthiest and prominent members and a bum.

However, like its long name, the book is a long, slow read.

It’s a book that I’m glad that I read, but would have been fine never reading. The only thing this book did for me was give me a bit of history on Savannah and make me long to visit it and take in its beauty firsthand.

If your interest is piqued, the movie is a great rendition of the book, directed by Clint Eastwood, with a spectacular group of actors.  It is about 2 1/2 hours long, but trust me, will feel like a lot less time wasted than if you sit down to read this!

 

 

 

 

Eggshells in Your Pudding?

Ugh, yuck!  No thank you!

But, sometimes it’s hard to avoid.  No matter how carefully you try to crack that egg you somehow, inevitably, end up with some fragments of shell in your beautiful sunny-side up egg.  Or your silky pudding.  Or what was supposed to be your silky pudding.

Is there a way to evade it?

Oh yes there is!  At least, you can cut back on the crunch of those unwanted pieces of shell, significantly, if you just stick with this method of crackin’ yo eggs!

Step #1:  Crack your egg on a stationary, hard surface.

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Like your kitchen counter!

Nothing more stationary than that…probably not much movement there.  And unless your counter is made out of cork (and even then…), I’m fairly certain that it has a hard surface of some sort.

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See the perfect 1st crack of the shell?  It’s starting to break into a clean line…

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and the 2nd whack against the countertop produces this clean seam around the equator of the egg,

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and Ta Da!  Two perfect halves.  No fragments.

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No loose bits.

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They could almost be glued back together perfectly!

Step #2:  Oh yeah.  There’s only 1 step!  How simple is that? 

Here’s the noticeable difference if you try cracking your egg against the side of a bowl…

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Can you just see the bowl wobbling as you try to hit the egg against it?  So you’d have to use your other hand to steady it, but still…

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here it starts…not a clean cut and shards swimming in the white…

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and the integrity of the yolk is also always at a higher risk because the edges of the eggshell are fragmented.  Here you see the debris (Good luck getting all those little pieces of shell out of that egg white, right?!) and the cracked yolk.

Such a great little kitchen tip that took me all my life to learn!

So, hopefully I’m catching you as a newer cook and can say…

Welcome to the world of consistently silky puddings!

Mexican Dip

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You can whip this delicious hot appetizer for a crowd in minutes!  You and everyone you serve this to will not be able to stop dipping their chips into this one…

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Spread 1 package (8 ounces) of cream cheese, room temperature,

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on the bottom of a large casserole or 9 x 13 inch pan.

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You’ll need a can of this…Hormel Chili with beans,

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and spread this over the layer of cream cheese.

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Then top with one small can (4.25 ounces) of diced green chilies, drained.

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Shred a yellow onion,

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and sprinkle 2 tablespoons on top of chilies,

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like so!

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Top with 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Serve with nacho chips.

Amazing!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

Spoil Your Little Sweeties, too!

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Goodness am I ever excited for my Beach Rose to wake up in the morning and notice this crazy Valentine’s “treat wreath”!

So, maybe we’re nuts to do this, but we make a big deal out of all the holidays in my house.  I mean we break out the construction paper, the flour and the butter, the ribbons and really do it up!

And although Valentine’s Day is mainly for your big Sweetie, involving your little Sweetie in the hoopla in the days before it makes it thrilling.

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We make “crafts”(Nothing too complicated.  Usually something with scissors, a glue stick and some paper!) and sweet treats and get presents for Daddy…

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We decorate our house and some sort of baked good and usually the table and the floor in the process!

And I have to tell you that making a big deal makes EVERY holiday that much more exciting for us parents.  We get giddy talking about what type of surprise to leave for our Beach Rose and how excited she’ll be and all of a sudden, every moment in your life is magical again!

So, this Valentine’s Day, spoil your little Sweetie(s) along with your big Sweetie.  And feel the excitement and joy and love surround your beautiful home.

Tom Brady plays for the Bruins, right?

It’s time to stand up for all us nerdy folks out there who are completely in the dark when it comes to sports!

But really, who cares if you don’t know your “you-know-what” from your elbow when it comes to sports?

I know, I know…

I’m just sayin…

Nowadays, sports play such a huge part in an American’s life.  There’s the age old rivalry of the Red Sox v the Yankees, the SuperBowl, the Stanley Cup, etc,etc.  The players, the games, the rivalries, the stats, the betting and all the fantasy leagues, etc.

Ooooo….the stigma that comes along with not knowing your players, the game and some relative stats…yikes!  You’d think you were personally offending someone when you tripped up your info about which player is on what team!

What do you mean you don’t know who plays Quarterback for New England?!  You’ve never heard of Johnny Damon?!  No, Zdeno Chára does not play tennis…

But really, what’s the big deal?  Sure, it’s nice to know a lot about sports for conversation’s sake at a SuperBowl party, maybe.  Or perhaps for a trivia game?

“But this is America’s favorite pastime!”

At the end of the day, don’t feel badly if you aren’t interested in sports; the games, the players, the buzz.

It’s ok to be in the dark about this stuff.  It’s ok to talk books at the next SuperBowl party you’re invited to.  It’s ok to just skim the news for enough info about the season to get away with a brief conversation with friends and family who are obsessed with it.

Now, don’t turn down SuperBowl party invites because you feel ignorant of the game.  Don’t worry.  You’ll find that other bookworm in the corner trying hard not to get involved in a conversation about sports!

And by all means, go to live sports games.  Even if you know nothing of the sport being played, its rules, the players, etc.  They are so much fun to be a part of.  The enthusiasm, the crowds, the food, etc.

And you can always “fake it”!  Cheat!  Read up on the latest game played and its outcome.  Watch the highlights on the news or listen to the radio for updates.  That way you can participate intelligently in the next sports discussion, but not be fully committed to the time it must take to be a full-on fan!

Here are a couple of cheat-sheet websites for all the sports info you could ever need or want

Sports Overview

Top Stories in Sports

 

 

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to…

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So, today is my birthday and I’ll cry if I wanna…

Why?  Well, it’s not really that exciting to have a birthday after the age of 21, is it?  You always hear ‘another year older, another year wiser’, but really, who cares about that?  There’s just not that much to celebrate.

But, do you remember birthdays when you were young?! 

The anticipation of the day….the countdown starting months before your actual birthday.

The feeling when you woke up that day that it was YOUR day.  That you were the special one and that everyone was excited for you and that the excitement would just be mounting throughout the day.  (Followed by a meltdown of monumental proportions, no doubt!)

Maybe your birthday was all about a special dinner with your family, a cake and some presents.

Maybe you were one of the really lucky little kids who had a special birthday party with their friends over.  And there were games and maybe a pinata and even more presents because so many people were there, just for you.

And of course, maybe you were one of the luckiest kids whose parents hosted it at Chuck-E-Cheese or an arcade, with all of your friends.

Whichever type of birthday you had you loved it, reveled in your day and never wanted it to end…

And you were always looking forward to your next birthday.  Because when you’re young each of them is a milestone birthday.

  • When I turn 4 I get to sleep in a big-girl bed.
  • When I turn 6 the toothfairy might come.
  • When I turn 8 I might be able to get earrings, because my cousin got them when she was 8.
  • When I turn 10, I’ll be big enough to stay up and have pizza/movie night with my parents.
  • Can’t wait till I’m a teenager
  • 2 more years and I can get my driver’s permit.
  • 18 and officially an adult and outta the house.

…All the way up to the day you turned 21.

And then, there weren’t really any more reasons left out there for being happy to turn another year older.

and yet

A birthday is so much more than that day, every year, when you become older.  It’s about celebrating the fact that you, on this particular date, made a grand entrance into this world.  And that this grand entrance has made its mark on others.

It’s all about making the birthday girl/boy (woman/man) feel special on their special day.

Go out of your way to say “Happy Birthday” to someone when you remember that it is.  If it’s been a while since you’ve chatted with them, send them a text, or an email.  It feels soooo great to know that other people are thinking of you and that they are happy to celebrate the day you were born because they find you a valuable part of their lives.

(See Birthday Reminders to learn how to set birthdays on your cell phone calendar!)

It doesn’t matter what age you are.  It feels great to have someone make a big deal out of you and sing “Happy Birthday”.  It’ll make you smile to get a bunch of texts and emails from friends and neighbors and family telling you to enjoy your big day.  And I bet you still hold  your breath while going to check the mail, in hopes that someone thoughtful may have sent you a card telling you how much they care.

Reach out to the others on their birthdays.  Make them feel special.  And then you, too, shall see how wonderful it feels to be appreciated on yours.

You’ll be too busy feeling good from all the love to really think about and get bummed about getting another year older…

You won’t be crying at your Birthday!

 

Just Leave Me Alone

‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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It’s so much easier to be alone.  Just me and my cat I can handle.  My cat barely makes any demands on me.

Why bother with people?  Then I have to care about myself.  How I look.  I have to share.  My space.  My time.  I have to compromise.  My TV shows.  My food choices.

I’m too busy.  I have enough friends.  My family makes me crazy.  My friends make me crazy.  I’ve grown apart from my family, my friends.

It’s too much effort to keep in touch.  It’s too much effort to go out.  It’s too much effort to keep up my end of the conversation.

I get anxiety just thinking about hosting.  I get anxiety just thinking about going out.  I get anxiety around crowds.  I get anxiety one-on-one.

There are just some of the excuses that I can easily rattle off when confronted with the prospect of being around people.

But…

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Being surrounded by people is necessary.  It keeps you healthy.  It keeps you honest. It keeps you interested.  It keeps you interesting.  It forces you to take care of yourself.  It forces you to look beyond yourself.  It forces you to take care of others.  It gives you purpose.  It feeds your soul.

People that live alone die younger than people who live with others.  People who live alone die younger than people who live with an animal.  We are built to nurture.  We live to help others.  It gives us a reason to get up in the morning, to shower, to cook dinner.

Surrounding yourself with loved ones, family and friends is integral.  Where do you turn when you lose someone you love, if you have chosen to isolate yourself?

Isolating yourself to your nucleus family is not enough, either.  Eventually, your spouse will die and your children will move out and start lives of their own.  Where does that leave you?  Alone.  Sure, you can always get together with your kids & their families, but you need a companionship that is reciprocated.  You need friends, as well as family.

It’s never too late to initiate new friendships or revive old ones.  Write to your old best friend.  Call your buddy that you haven’t seen in a while.  Invite people over for dinner.  Get to know your neighbors.  Go out of your comfort zone and get to know people, get to know them better, invite them into your world, your home and your heart.

And you will be filled with the serenity that comes with the love of those whom you love.  And the knowledge that no matter where you turn in life, you will have someone there for you.  And you will be there for someone too.

Greek Salad Dressing – Perfection!

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I love Greek salads.  I love the crunchy Romaine leaves, the brininess of the Kalamata olives, the sting of the red onion slices, the juicy tomatoes, the freshness of the cucumber, the tangy flavor of the feta and….

the dressing…

mmmmmmmmmm……the dressing!

Which, made right, makes me want to drink a bottle of it, with or without all of the salad components!

This recipe is perfection.  In that, when it comes to Greek salad dressings, this one hits the nail squarely on the head.

It is also a cinch to make and takes about 5 minutes from start to finish.  What more could you ask for?

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Combine 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, in a jelly jar, with

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1/2 cup vegetable oil,

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2 Tablespoons olive oil,

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(so 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar…plus 2 tablespoons more oil!)

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a little less than 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves,

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1 teaspoon salt,

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1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,

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1 small clove of garlic, grated,

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Put the lid on the jar.  Shake, shake, shake!

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Now drizzle this on your beautiful Greek salad…

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!