Archive for October, 2017

Verbal Venom

October 27, 2017

A few mornings ago, I scrolled through Facebook, glancing at articles, posts, and short videos. In a time of extreme political discourse, it is interesting to see what people have to say. It’s no secret which side of the table I sit at, but I read articles written from many points of view, whether I agree with them or not. I haven’t unfollowed people whose views are extremely different from mine, as I think it is important to burst the bubbles we often place ourselves in and understand what we’re up against with the rest of the world. And with clenched teeth, I explore the comments section on many of them.

While I fully expect to see some friction on political posts, it has become more than that. Somehow, it escalates quickly from a disagreement of views to an all-out assault on humanity. Name calling and the use of grammar and spelling more commensurate with a third-grade education is peppered with vulgarity. The threads stretch into the hundreds, if not thousands of comments, most being unworthy of notice. This morning, I happened to watch a short video about making Halloween treats from store-bought cookies and candies. I was absolutely gobsmacked to see the nastiness that such a whimsical and benign post brought about. Women attacking other women for having too much time on their hands and assuming that their homes were unkempt or their children uncared for because they took the time to cut an Oreo in half and attach it to a peanut butter cup to make a bat. Or someone stating that pretzel monsters and spider cupcakes are “un-Christian.” Don’t even get me started about the remarks related to the purchasing of “googly eyes.” Have we really reached such a low point that there isn’t a subject in existence that doesn’t set off a chain of verbal venom?

What has happened to us since the call to become a “kinder, gentler nation” so many years ago? I am truly scared to live in a world where our views on big issues are so disparate that we violently clash both in word and deed on a regular basis. There are times that it is unfathomable to me that people actually think the way that they do. I am even more afraid to live in a world where an Oreo cookie and a chocolate dipped pretzel stick can inspire this level of rage and rhetoric at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Sheesh!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Baking A Few Items At Once

October 24, 2017

I keep lots of cookie and scone dough on hand, so I can just pull it out and bake it off at a moment’s notice. Sometimes this means I need a few of these and a few of those. While all those cookies might fit easily on one cookie sheet, bake times are not always the same.

King Arthur Flour recently shared a great tip, which rectifies that problem completely. They suggest placing each type of cookie on its own strip of parchment paper on the baking trays. When one row is done, simply pull the entire sheet off the pan and continue baking the others.

Pretty smart, huh?

photo: Glasshouse Images

 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Raw Meat

October 17, 2017

 

Whenever I purchase raw proteins; chicken, fish or meat, I put them in a plastic bag in the store, before slipping them into my own canvas tote. While that may seem to defeat the purpose of bringing your own reusable bag, it keeps any juices and harmful bacteria from leaking and contaminating my bag, and in turn, my other foods. Those bags can harbor lots of nasty germs that can make you sick. It is important to wash your bags regularly to avoid cross-contaminating other foods, especially those fruits and vegetables that don’t get cooked.

Once you get home, be sure to place those foods on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator so any leaks will be contained, and the chance of drips onto other items is limited. This holds true for defrosting animal proteins as well. It is safest to defrost them slowly in the refrigerator, and placing those high-risk items on a plate on the bottom shelf will protect your other foods and food surfaces from contamination.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Mirepoix

October 10, 2017

 

It’s no secret that I am a big Trader Joe’s fan. I brave the crowds frequently to stock up on items that are unbeatable for both price and quality.

One of my latest discoveries is not new to the brand, but it is new to me and it is life-changing. One word. Mirepoix. 

Mirepoix (meer – pwah) is a staple in the French culinary world, consisting of diced onion, carrot and celery, which provides the base for soups, stews, and sauces. It takes a bit of an effort to make, due to the washing, peeling, and dicing of the vegetables.

Trader Joe’s offers it in a 14 oz tub, layered with the perfect proportion of one-half onion, three carrots, and 3 celery stalks, all cut and ready to use. In the time it took to unpack my groceries, I had sauteed the Mirepoix and was ready to add the other ingredients for a quick pureed soup. And did I mention it’s only $2.99?

Quick Pureed Soup:
Slowly saute the mirepoix in butter or olive oil, until the vegetables start to soften, and the onion becomes translucent. True mirepoix is not meant to brown or caramelize.

Add the vegetable of choice, (zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli are all good options) and any herbs you might like. Add enough chicken or vegetable stock* to fully submerge the vegetables and simmer covered until they are soft. Puree the mixture until smooth, put it back in the pot, correct seasonings and enjoy!

* If you don’t have stock on hand, Better Than Bouillion is another easy fix. It comes in a jar and is spoonable, rather than dehydrated into a salty cube. It is organic, not full of fake ingredients, and a big dollop added to the pot of water makes a tasty soup. It is high in sodium, so be sure to taste before adding additional salt.

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A Good Place

October 9, 2017

Lately, I have been watching the first season of a sitcom called The Good Place. It features Kristin Bell as Eleanor, who died and was sent to the afterlife. In the afterlife, there is The Good Place and The Bad Place. Eleanor is sent to the former but is having trouble fitting in. After settling in, it comes to light that there is another person by the same name who died at the same time, and was inadvertently sent to The Bad Place. It goes without saying that Kristin’s Eleanor turned out to have not been a very nice person in her past. Long story short, her friends in The Good Place try to help her be a better person, and it is agreed that if she can up her “life points”, she can stay. She needs over 1.2 million points to stay, and she arrived deeply in the red. Of course, hilarity ensues. And of course, this got me thinking about how I would fare if this fictional place were real.

from The Good Place

In The Good Place, points were tallied for doing good deeds, and the size of those deeds is commensurate with a number of points given. For every transgression, points are deducted.

I think I am a decent person. I am honest, hardworking and empathetic to others. I am also snarky, impatient and quietly judgemental. Could the good outweigh the bad?
Are a few well-placed albeit “bad” words used for emphasis, rather than actual curse worth a trip to the Bad Place? How about a few snarky comments whispered to someone who gets my humor? Can those tiny little deficits be made up by equally tiny acts of holding doors, being super polite to restaurant workers and giving up my seat on the subway? I spend my days making cookies. Everyone loves cookies, right? Doesn’t that count for something?

Where do all the politicians go? Is there a special place for them in the afterlife? How about those whose religious beliefs make them so pious that they ultimately are intolerant of those who don’t share their views? Is being good subjective, with different standards for different groups, or would they call it like it is, deducting points for denying rights to those who are of a different race, religion or sexual orientation?

One cannot compare the act of saving lives, helping to broker world peace or curing a deadly disease to the type of acts of kindness most of us are capable of. Yet, if we all tried to be the best people we could be in this life, maybe Earth could be The Good Place.

Which place do you think you would go to, and why? Let us know in the comments. Also, season two is shaping up to be a little weird. Thoughts?

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