Can I Plant Now? Can I? Can I?

Planting Dates by State

So, I’ve mentioned that I live in New England, right?

Last Sunday was the first day of spring!  Yay!

And then the next day we got slammed with a Nor’Easter……… well, we narrowly escaped the predicted 10-12 inches with a mere 5-6 inches of snow.

But that doesn’t keep me from chomping at the bit!

Before that snowstorm, my crocuses were blooming on my front lawn, my rhubarb was sending out its annual bulbous sprouts and my chives were looking green and spindly.  These are the types of signs we Northerners are seeking.

40 degrees and sunny out?  I saw a 20 year old running down my road with shorts and his long-sleeve shirt off and wrapped around his neck like a scarf.  You heard me right…bare-chested!

The rest of us 30-somethings are just as excited (maybe we don’t express it the same way), and out raking our brown garden beds, looking for the buried clumps of green.

So all of my raised garden beds are raked clean of dead leaves and pine needles and have been rototilled.  I’m ready.  Can I plant some peas and kale and lettuce and other heartier plant seeds?

Can I?  Can I?

Gardeners, like so many other hobbyists, each have a different opinion about the same subject.  Ask 5 gardeners a question and get 6 different answers!

My Dad, who lives in the same the same state, planted his pea seeds 3 weeks ago!

But, according to the planting dates by state shown all over the internet, they shouldn’t have been planted for another 3 weeks!  Go figure!

So, I have attached a copy of the planting dates by state website above for you to determine what is recommended and then take it from there.

Maybe you can look at the weather forecast and determine that the next 2 weeks are supposed to be beautiful in your region and so it would be safe to plant in advance.  Perhaps you are a risk-taker like my Dad and just want to go for it.  Or you like to follow the rules and will just wait till the proposed time arrives.

No wrong answer, really.

Whenever you start sowing your seeds you will be filled with excitement, anticipation and the thrill of knowing that spring is here!

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Butter at Room Temp? Oops!

Oh no!  I didn’t read the recipe ahead of time (1st mistake) and am just about to make my ____________(insert here:  cake, cookies, brownies,etc) and see that I’m supposed to have butter at room temperature!

I didn’t take my stick of butter out of the fridge (2nd mistake) and now I’m up against a deadline and I need to make these __________!

Oh well, I’ll just stick it in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or two, that’ll soften it right up.

Or, I can just put it on top of the preheating oven and that should work…

NO, NO, NO!!!

If you “soften” your butter this way, you will completely change the outcome of whatever you are attempting to bake.  In other words, you will ruin your dish!  The consistency and temperature of the butter are essential to the chemical reactions that are needed with whatever you are baking…

therefore…

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the best way to handle this situation is to grab your stick of butter (or whatever amount you needed at room temp) and cut it up into small pieces.

Then leave it out on the counter for 20 minutes and you are good to go…

Great little tip that will save you the aggravation of redoing your entire dessert!

100 Year Old Man…

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – by Jonas Jonasson

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Do you know how excited you get when you go to the theater and you see a movie with cinematography and acting and directing that’s over-the-top and reminds you why you go to the movies to begin with?  To be entertained.  To fantasize.  To escape.

Well, this book is one of those works of fiction that depicts great storytelling.  That reminds you why you love to read.  It’s absurd and over-the-top and smart and laugh-out-loud funny.  It’s a Swedish Forrest Gump!

Fantastic.  It tells the story of a 100 year old man in Sweden who decides not to attend his 100th birthday party at the old folks’ home and instead to get the heck out of dodge.  The author alternates between the story of what happens to the 100 year old man on his journey to his next destination in life and the story of his life up until he climbed out the window.

The span of history in the book is obviously, 100 years, starting in 1905.  And the author uses the 100 year old man’s life experiences to briefly give you a lesson in world history.  A great substitute for your high school textbook!

The chapters are short and the entire book keeps your attention with its ridiculous characters and its ridiculous stories about its historical characters!

And you’ll want to keep reading more about the character that played a key role in some of the most important events in the 20th century!

Whenever I read a work of such bizarre fictional genius, it makes me want to sit down to lunch with the author and just ask them, “How do you come up with this stuff?!”

Just read the first 2 chapters, 9 pages in total, and you’ll be hooked!

 

Chicken Tetrazzini Like You’ve Never Tasted

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There’s nothing better than a creamy sauce over pasta with cheese, is there?  This dish is so traditional there have to be a million variations on it.  But, nothing compares to the original.  And I believe that this is the tastiest original.

Let the savory adventure begin!

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Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large saucepan over low heat.

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Add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, stir with a wooden spatula and season with

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1/2 teaspoon salt,

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and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.

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Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth, slowly, stirring constantly, and

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1 cup of heavy cream.

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Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, as sauce thickens and coats the back of the spatula.

Boil and stir for 1 minute.

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Stir in 2 tablespoons of dry sherry,

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about 10 ounces of mushrooms, sliced and cooked,

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1/2 pound of cooked spaghetti, broken in half,

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and 1 pound of cubed cooked chicken.

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Spoon into greased 2-quart casserole dish.

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Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees, for 30 minutes.

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Serves 6.  Though the 5 other people eating with you will be begging for seconds, so safer to just serve to 4!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

Easter Bunny Krispie Treats

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Ok.  Here’s a little secret…

I do not have a creative bone in my body.  I mean, I can look at a craft and figure out how to do it, but I have never come up with an original idea in my life (except recipes, but that’s not creative, that’s just a wizened palate!).

So don’t get all excited and think that I am showing you an original Easter craft dessert, because I cannot take the credit.

My other secret?

It’s this website…

So awesome for toddlers and holidays and crafts and treats!  Everyone loves rice krispie treats and kids love crafts and they especially love them if they’re sweet and stick all over their fingers, which are inevitably licked clean!

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It’s all the same recipe, and the variations usually just include a little food coloring or frosting gel.  So many neat ideas, so easy and so much fun!

Happy Easter prep, Happy Easter decorating, Happy Easter!

 

 

 

The Way to a Man’s Heart

is through his belly.

And though you may cook a mean Indian chicken tikka, there are just some dishes that, in general, most men crave over others.  You know the kind of dishes I’m talking about…the ones that make your man go, “Ohhhhh yeah!  We’re having ______  tonight!”

So you need to have the man-town friendly recipes down.  It’s kind of like learning the mother sauces when you’re in cooking school.  From these mother sauces, all other delicious foods are created.  Well, learning to make your man the best lasagna, meatloaf, roasted chicken, grilled T-bone, bacon cheeseburgers, apple pie, pancakes, etc will win his heart.  And from there, you will be able to sometimes sneak in a sundried tomato cream sauce over his piece of chicken, or a kalamata olive into his salad.

As I post my “manly” dishes, I’ll link posts to my previous ones, so that you’ll always be able to find meals to make your man’s heart beat triple-time for you.

Here’s one of the classics – a breakfast go-to:

PANCAKES!

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These are perfection.  Finally.  It has taken years and years of trying recipes and variations of recipes for me to find the fluffiest, tastiest, fool-proof pancakes.

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Start with 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour in a large bowl and

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add 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour,

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2 tablespoons white sugar,

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1 teaspoon baking powder,

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1/2 teaspoon salt.

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Whisk together to combine.  Set aside.

 

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In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups buttermilk,

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2 large eggs,

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1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and

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3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

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Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together gently with a rubber spatula until just combined, about 10 seconds.

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Some lumps, as seen above, are exactly what you’re looking for!

Set this batter aside for about 10-15 minutes before you cook it.  This gives it time to “rise” and will work out some of the lumps on their own (the lumps are really little balls of flour that will eventually “burst” and mix in, dissolve, with the rest of the batter.)

Heat your non-stick griddle to medium heat, mine is perfect at 375 degrees.  Moisten a paper towel with some vegetable oil and wipe the griddle with it, till the entire top of the griddle is shiny, but not wet.

Pour out 1/2 cup-fulls of batter onto the griddle.  Do not disturb!  Let the magic happen on its own.  You’ll see it start to look fluffy and bubbles come to the surface.

You do not want to flip the pancake until the bubbles in the center of the pancakes burst.

Then, you end up with the tastiest, fluffiest pancakes that your man will love you for!

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If you make them all at once, keep them warm on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

What if it was you…

A friend of mine has a daughter who is suicidal.   She goes to counseling.  She is depressed.  She does talk with her Mom and Dad about her feelings.  But mainly tries to tell them what they want to hear. Then they have a false sense of security for a while and when they least expect it, she scares them.

A friend of mine has a Mother with Alzheimer’s.  She’s in a home.  Being taken care of, physically.  Mentally, her Mom is 8 years old again and feels like she’s lost her way home.  She cries for her sister and Mother & Father who have all been dead for quite some time.  She does not recognize her husband.  Or her daughter, my friend.

I don’t want to go on and on with sad stories to bring you down.  I just want to give some advice that an older woman kindly once gave to me…

If or when someone decides to unburden themselves on you with a great sadness or pain in their life, it can be very difficult to relate to and you may have a hard time finding the right words of comfort to offer.

The key is to not say anything at all.  Just sit and listen.  Listen.  Maybe ask a question or two to prompt them to share more if you feel they want to.  But listen.  And feel.  It will be impossible to relate to, because it is not your situation.

But make it yours.  What if it was you…

Put yourself in your friend’s shoes.  What if it was your daughter/son?  What if it was your Mom/Dad?  How would you be feeling?  What would you want your friend to do or say when you told them?  What would you need?  What would you want to hear?

Maybe you don’t say anything at all.  Maybe you just give your friend a huge, long hug and tell them that you are here for them and could you call them every couple of days to let them talk to you?

Maybe you just tell them that you love them and will be there for them in whatever capacity they need.

What would you want someone to do or say if you were going through something like that?