Wednesday, July 31, 2013

T is for Telling Your Children the Facts of Life

A friend sent me a joke today that I'll add at the end of this story. I responded to her that it reminded me of when I told my son how babies got inside mamas. He was way little, but he kept asking how babies got inside mom's bellies, did the dads cut them open to plant the seed, etc. Very precocious for a 2 yr old!! I explained as simply as I could (because the traditional simple answers just weren't cutting it for him) and the next time he and his dad went out for a drive, his dad came home absolutely FURIOUS at me!! He started telling me I was teaching Paul perversions, etc. I was shocked at how unglued he was over something like this. Believe me, I wasn't all that comfortable relating the information, but I've always understood that the time to tell a child is when they're ready to be asking.

Well, it seems they went down to look at the "girls" who hung out on 25th street and, Paul being such cute little guy, girls would pay attention to this adorable kid and dad would soak it all in. Well, Paul says to his dad, I know how ladies get babies in them. His dad looks at him and says, really? How? Paul says, "Men pee in them!" 

OMG - the spit almost literally hit the fan!!! But, it's still funny because I didn't go into GREAT detail because I wanted it to be a basic and simple answer. Well, Paul put two and two together and using what HE knew about his anatomy, came to the only logical conclusion. But, it sure did get me into a world of trouble!!!

How did it turn out when you told YOUR kids??

Here's the joke that made me think of this:

An 8-year-old girl went to her grandfather, who was working in the yard and asked him, "Grampa, what is couple sex?"

The grandfather was surprised that she would ask such a question, but decided that if she's old enough to know to ask the question, then she's old enough to get a straight answer.

Steeling himself to leave nothing out, he proceeded to tell her all about human reproduction and the joys and responsibilities of intercourse.

When he finished explaining, the little girl was looking at him with her mouth hanging open, eyes wide in amazement.

Seeing the look on her face, the grandfather asked her, "Why did you ask this question, honey?"

The little girl replied, "Grandma says that dinner will be ready in just a couple secs."

+BirdsAndBees +FactsOfLife +Children +Sex +Jokes +Introuble

Photo is mine. It was taken in 1984 at my parents' house on my son's 3rd birthday.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013


When I wrote this, we were right in the midst of a "severe thunderstorm". I hate these things!! The cats heard it before I did. They were not really happy about it, but they deal better than I do. When I got a storm warning from Weather Channel, I knew it wa an ugly one. The kind that's one lightning strike after another with rolling thunder. 

It figured because I finally got the TV back in working order (I remembered I had to plug the audio and video cables back into the digital antenna after taking them out of the DVD player). Even though I should have unplugged it, I hate being alone in these storms, so it gave me other people to listen to. It didn't feel like it was just me.

I was concerned for my daughter, though. She had to work at her second job. She's a valet for a reception center. So, she was parking cars and running to retrieve them when the festivities were over - whether it was raining or not. I hate thinking of her out in this kind of storm and being so vulnerable in an expansive parking lot. Not that she's a child any longer, but she's still MY child.

The image is from Wikimedia Commons and is very much like our lightning is right now (although since I started typing, it seems to be moving farther away.)

Previously published on Bubblews.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

R is for Racism

I hate racism with every fiber of my being!! Perhaps I shouldn't use the word"hate" considering racism is a form of hate. But racism is a cancer on the world. It's first cousin, bigotry, shares many of its characteristics. A primary characteristic is fear of others who are different. They look different, so they become the objects of hate. They sound different, so they become the objects of hate. They wear "funny" clothes, speak a different language, eat their food differently - even eat different food. No matter what it is, that "difference" marks them for hate in the eyes of those who fear.

I can't think of any one human characteristic that I despise more than this one. We are HUMANS!! It doesn't matter what color our skin is, what religion we believe, what nationality we are, whether we're born with a perfect body or a birth defect.....we are HUMANS!! We breathe the same air. We bleed the same blood. Our bodily functions are identical. We get pregnant the same way, babies develop the same way, we're all born naked, we fall in love, we laugh, we sing, we play, we have injuries, we develop illness, we die. ALL THE SAME!!!

I wish to God I could wipe this human flaw from the face of the earth! There is nothing more vile or debasing than hating someone because of their mere existence. It makes me want to just scream!!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Q is for "Q" Words - New Vocabulary

Although I'm not a fan of using lists for this challenge, I'm just not in a mood for deep thinking this morning. This should have been done yesterday, but my mood combined with Bubblews's downtime delayed things a bit.

Q is one of those letters that we sometimes wonder about - why does it even exist when we can phonetically replace it with K? I'm sure the etymology goes back to the original Latin or Germanic and those origins have been carried forward to today. Still, as simple as using "K" might seem to be, English is an already confusing enough language what with all the homonyms we have that are often mixed up. A few you might recognize are: two, to and too; their, there and they're; to name a few of the most obvious. I've even seen "are" written instead of "our", but that's not a true homonym - that's just allowing a regional pronunciation of "our" dominate. My daughter says "sell" instead of "sale" - I've seen people actually writing that same error, so I know she's not alone in that.

At any rate, I thought just introducing a few "Q" words with their meanings might allow this listing to be more educational than a simple list would be. Here is that list.

Quagmire - Yes, that IS the name of a character on Family Guy (giggity!), but the true meaning is 1) a bog where the ground is semi-solid but gives way to pressure; 2) a situation that's difficult to get out of.

Quintessential - the pure essence of a particular thing or the perfect embodiment of (My mother was the quintessential housewife.)

Quandary - similar to quagmire. A difficult situation that is hard to resolve.

Quesadilla - a cheese tortilla; a Mexican grilled cheese. Can also have marinated and grilled meats and veggies added. Served with salsa and sour cream.

Quinceanera - a Hispanic "coming out" party where a girl who is turning 15 is introduced to society, celebrated with a large fiesta, a church Mass, dancing and lots of food.

Quinoa - a grain or seed from a tall crop plant grown primarily in Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Can be used in place of rice. Word origin is Incan in the Quechuan language.

Queue - a line or an established order based on time of arrival. Pronounced simply "Q". 

Quadriplegic - a person who has lost the use of all four extremities (legs and arms). Usually the result of a severe spinal injury.

There are lots of other Q words, some even without the "u", but this should give you an idea of the variety that can be found.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Post first published on

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Friday, July 26, 2013

P is for Pickles

I don't like pickles. There was a time, when I was a little girl, that I would eat them, but only the centers of the slices, leaving the rind ring behind. I don't know why. I also used to suck the pimento out of olives, but never eat the olive. Don't do that anymore, either. Won't eat either one (black olives are ok, though). Things change, tastes change, new ways of approaching those things are introduced into one's life. That is what this post is about.

I bought meat yesterday in order to make German Rouladen. It is thin sliced beef (often pounded thin to tenderize) that is spread with stone ground mustard and then rolled around a center of onions, a pickle spear and bacon. I still won't eat pickles, but I've had rouladen and thoroughly enjoy it. Even my daughter ate it and she hates anything with vinegar in it.

The image I chose is of pickles sliced lengthwise. I'm thinking of using them for this recipe rather than a thick spear (1/4 of a pickle). That's what I used before and it gave the meat the bite it needed without being overwhelmingly "pickle-y". I mean, the beef is the dominant ingredient, right? All these other ingredients should enhance the meat, not compete with it.

That's the plan anyway, although I have a backup plan waiting. If I can't get to the store to get these pickle slices, I have pickle relish that I can spread with the mustard instead. That might even work better since I won't have much leftover to have to find a use for. It's a small jar.

My mother liked to put vinegar into her chili and on her green beans. I'm going to have to look the chili one up to see if it was a personal flavor discovery of hers or if it's maybe a regional or ethnic option that I never knew about. I just knew that when we'd have chili, the vinegar cruet had to be on the table. She was the only one who used it.

So, do you like pickles? Or anything that is pickled? I actually do like three bean salad which is kidney beans, green beans and yellow beans that have been pickled. I like it with my lettuce salad. And, I like fried pickles. That surprised me when I learned that - but the frying really takes over that sour pickle taste that I dislike so much. I even like vinegar on my fish and chips (or any fried fish). That's another thing that changed as I matured.

Credit for the photo goes to Kudos Kitchen By Renee. I needed the perfect photo of the pickles I wanted to use and her blog had it. I've included her link because what she does is make a rather tasty looking oven-fried pickle with those slices, so if you are interested in trying it, you'll find her recipe and instructions by clicking on the link in this paragraph.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

O is for Online Grocery Shopping

One of our local grocery chains allows you to shop for groceries from home. You can get all the current sales prices, have access to everything in the store and get to have someone else deal with the crowded aisles. They charge $10 above the regular prices. If you want delivery, it's another $5.95. This is great for people who can't get out like they used to or people like me who don't always have easy access to a car to go do shopping. 
When I was living with my mother taking care of her, I placed her grocery order several times online because I didn't want to leave her alone too long - and I take a while when I shop. So, they'd do the shopping for me and then I'd go pick up the groceries at the selected time. All it took was the time to get there, pay and come back home. Mom didn't have to be alone for very long that way.

Now I'm considering doing it again. My daughter has a car and I've put money into it as well so we would have a car to use, but she has plans with it every single night. If I want to use it, it's "I'm going out later, so don't be long." Grocery shopping? It ain't gonna be quick. So, I don't go.

Tonight a friend took me to dinner and we stopped at the one grocery we've been going to recently and I did get a few things there, but I know there are other things that are on sale this week only that I want to stock up on. This is ShopRite's twice-annual can-can sale. Canned goods are super low priced and we use canned goods frequently (corn, green beans, tomato products especially). They also have a sale on London Broil (aka Flank Steak) that's really good. I want to get some so I can cut it into smaller pieces and make beef tips or stew. Already cut stew meat costs more per pound than the price they have right now.

And, I need some more cat litter. I bought a small bag today at the one grocery, but some things there just aren't as cheap as they are elsewhere, even though other things are. Like, bananas were marked down from $.29/lb to $.10/lb. From the looks of it, they got a whole lot more than they usually do and wanted to sell them as fast as possible. They weren't even over ripe!
I was able to buy six pounds of ground beef, marked down, for $8.30. That's just over $1.38/lb for 81% lean ground beef (beef mince). I also got some thinly sliced top round steak that I'm going to make rouladen with. That was also marked down. I got 2 pounds for $10.11. If you're familiar with braciole, you'll have an idea what these are. I think they're just a slight bit thicker. These thinly sliced pieces of beef are then wrapped around stone ground mustard, onions, bacon slices and a pickle spear, secured with either skewers or kitchen twine, and browned. They are then, usually, braised in a mix of beef broth and seasonings until fully cooked and fall apart tender. Now, I do NOT like pickles, but I thoroughly enjoyed this when I made it. And, that's even though I did it all wrong! So, I'm looking forward to the difference doing it right will make. Here's one recipe (whose photo I borrowed for this) that you can try. She used Dijon, which is OK, but the stone ground or German mustard is more authentic. I like her idea of egg noodles, too, since I don't have the patience to be making spaetzle.

Anyway, that's about it for this entry of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be calling the supermarket in a couple days to make sure things work the same at my local store as they did when I lived with my mother. And then, it's a-shopping I will go!
First published to

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

N is for NOT GUILTY!!?!!

Yesterday evening, a jury of all women found George Zimmerman not guilty of charges that he criminally took the life of Trayvon Martin just over a year ago. While I realize that it may have been a technicality they had to go with since they had requested additional information on what constituted manslaughter, I just find it hard to believe that nothing could be found to consider him legally guilty.

His initial 911 call showed that he had already determined that Trayvon was guilty of something. He stated that these "assholes" are always "getting away". He continued to follow Trayvon instead of waiting for police. Trayvon knew he was being followed and probably was apprehensive about why since he wasn't doing anything wrong except walking from the store to where he was staying in the same neighborhood. Any healthy full-grown male would stand up for themselves if someone was pursuing them for no good reason. It makes sense that Trayvon would turn to face Zimmerman to demand why he was being followed. Zimmerman got out of his car instead of merely "watching". He was carrying a gun (yes, legally) that was loaded, safety off, and a round in the chamber. In other words, it was ready to shoot. Zimmerman claimed to know nothing about the "stand your ground" law despite having studied it in a class he was taking. That lie alone makes him suspect. Just the fact that Zimmerman PURSUED Trayvon shows Zimmerman as the aggressor, not the other way around.

I was so hopeful that, when the jury requested that information on manslaughter, they had decided that Zimmerman was guilty of the lesser charge. Although I don't think there is enough here to believe that this was a racially motivated crime, I do believe there was enough evidence to point to a crime, nonetheless. It is troubling to me that someone who pursues someone else can claim self-defense when that person stands up for themselves. In many respects, it can be said that Trayvon was "standing his ground", not Zimmerman.

Maybe it's the mother in me. Maybe it's the fact that I once had a teenage son who was far from perfect, who wasn't always a fully law-abiding juvenile, but who has turned into a fantastic man, citizen, father. That couldn't have happened if someone had chosen to shoot him after pursuing him because he was walking through their neighborhood not committing any crime. It hurts to realize that this young man will never have the opportunity to show if he could also become a fantastic man, citizen, father, because one man, upon seeing him walking through his neighborhood, decided he was a punk, an "asshole" who wasn't going to get away with anything this time.

The only thing I can take comfort in with this situation is that George Zimmerman's life will never be normal from here on out. The majority of the public believed him to be guilty of a crime. No matter where he goes, this event will follow him. He will be imprisoned by the social stigma this has created. Maybe that's punishment enough.

Written originally on July 14 and posted to

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

M is for Meatloaf - FIESTA MEATLOAF

I decided to tell you about this meatloaf. I'm a meatloaf fan, for sure. I especially like it cold for sandwiches. But, when my daughter made this meatloaf a few years back, I was skeptical and expected a totally different flavor than what it turned out to have.

No lie - this was DELICIOUS!! At the time, I wasn't a fan of black olives. But, they added fantastic flavor to this. And, don't freak out about the green chiles - the ones in those little 4 oz cans are so mild, and when you also have green peppers in there, their taste is pretty much not noticeable. The salsa adds that tomato-ey goodness we often like in meatloaf as well as onions and moisture. This is seriously good meatloaf.

I am thinking that when I finally get to the grocery, I'll be buying some black olives and green chiles. It might just be time to revisit this one!

Do you like meatloaf? Do you do anything out of the ordinary with yours?

First published to before posting here. Photo is from a website full of ethnic recipes, this being one of them.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

L is for Liked Me But Said I Did What??

This post was written in response to something that happened to me on

Someone else's bubble gave me the idea for this next letter of the A to Z Challenge. They were upset that someone took it upon themselves to tell them that they didn't mean to say something the way they said it, but actually should have said it some other way (at least, that's how I understood the article's meaning).

In my case, I had someone like my bubble, but in the comment they said they'd liked my article EVEN THOUGH I HADN'T WRITTEN IT!! Um...WHAT??? I've written every single article I've posted, whether just for Bubblews or previously for Blogger, the writing is ALL mine!

I asked them directly which article they believed wasn't written by me. I connected with them and reiterated that request. I have yet to see an explanation on what about my article (or articles) they believed I hadn't written and what was their proof that I hadn't written it. Yes, I initially didn't put the URL linking back to my Blogger post because it just didn't occur to me, but I also figured that since my name there and here are identical, it wouldn't be overly difficult to see that I was using my own works.

I've gone in to several of my posts and have added links or disclaimers about having published the article earlier on Blogger and I may have missed a few - it got boring just doing that continually. But, eventually, all my articles will be so marked that were brought over from Blogger. And, the articles from here that I have also posted on Blogger are also noted there.

So, there are times when people say things to you that catch you wrong, that push buttons of annoyance. I am still connected to this person, read their articles, make comments where I'm inclined and like what they write; but, I would still like to know what provoked them to tell me that they liked my article even though I didn't write it. If that were true, why in the world would you like it???? And, why won't you explain what you said?

I will not identify this person because public humiliation is not my goal. But, if anyone else is so inclined to do the same thing, whether to me or to someone else, please have the courtesy to explain why you believe that.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

K is for Vitamin K

Vitamin_K is not a vitamin we hear about every day. You don't get it from taking that daily multivitamin. But, it is a very important part of our body's needs. You see, without it, our blood wouldn't clot properly. Vitamin K is the nutritional source for the 13 factors (proteins) that create the Coagulation necessary to keep us from bleeding to death from a minor wound.

But, it is more than that. It also helps prevent our bones from becoming brittle, helps prevent Calcification of our blood vessels and helps prevent post-menopausal bone loss. There is also some indication of a link between Vitamin K and the prevention of liver and prostate cancers. However, the first four are very well established.

The chart I've posted here shows some of the most Vitamin K rich vegetables you can eat. Interesting that the highest quantity is a vegetable that begins with the letter K. That makes it easy to remember!

I also noticed that many of the vegetables rich in Vitamin K are also rich in iron - another substance needed for our blood to be healthy. It's probably not a coincidence that the two are found together naturally.

Other plant products rich in this vitamin are: asparagus, cabbage, blueberries, tomatoes, celery, sea vegetables (kelp? another K!), cucumbers, green beans, Leeks and cauliflower.

I personally like blueberries, collard_greens, green_beans, asparagus, Broccoli and Cauliflower very much. And, I eat a lot of food items that use tomatoes as a primary ingredient. But, there are just so many options to be had from these two lists of vegetables. It would be very hard for anyone to not get a sufficient quantity of Vitamin K.

However, some signs that there may be a deficiency are: excessive bleeding (heavy periods, bleeding gums, frequent nosebleeds), bruising easily, calcification problems or bones that are weak and fracture easily. Of course, your doctor also needs to be informed because there may be other things going on, but it won't hurt to increase your quantity of Vitamin K rich foods.

Information and image source:;dbid=112

Originally published to

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Friday, July 19, 2013

J is for Just Desserts

I don't come from a dessert eating family - at least, not in the sense that we had dessert after every supper. But, my mother loved to bake and both parents loved ice cream (Dad always had Hershey's syrup on hand for that and for chocolate milk), so some sort of dessert-like sweet treat was usually available. Not to mention all the treats Mom would bring home from the bakery when she was there until closing.

Even when I go out, having something sweet at the end of the meal isn't the norm. Personally, I love finishing off with a dinner roll as much as others like something sweet. But, that doesn't mean there aren't sweet treats I don't like or wouldn't want to try. I'm just not the baker my mother was, so it's unlikely I'll be making them.

To that end, I have a Pinterest pin board dedicated to "Desserts to Drool Over". I have several subscriptions to recipe blogs, so I receive recipes or meal ideas every single day. When I find one I particularly like the looks of, whether it is dinner or dessert, I'll pin it on one of my two food boards. (My main board is "Main Courses That Make You Go mmmmmmm".)

Here is the link to my desserts board. (Desserts to Drool Over) Feel free to check it out and go to any of the recipes the images are linked to if you are interested in making any of them. Mainly, I just look at them and savor the image. 

Are you a dessert lover or just a dessert collector like me?

Previously published to my foodie blog. before being published to

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

I is for Irene, My Middle Name

When I was born, my parents didn't have a name picked out for a girl. They were apparently expecting a boy because the name they DID have was Sam. Not Samuel. Sam. Mom said it was because she wanted a name that couldn't be turned into anything else. I asked why didn't you call me Samantha so you could still use the name? She said because then Samantha would become Sam and be a change. I still am not sure I completely understand the logic she was using at the time. Anyway, they had no names at all for a girl. My grandfather suggested Rachel after his mother. Mom said no. 

The day came that they were to file the birth certificate and the nurse came in to Mom to tell her this was her last chance to give me a name for the birth certificate, otherwise, I'd just be "baby girl" (or whatever they put in that blank when there was no name). Mom said she just blurted out Wendy Irene. She claimed she had no idea where it came from - it was just there.

So, there I was, this 6 lb. 11 oz. orange-haired bundle named Wendy Irene.

I've tried to figure out where it came from considering there is not one single person on either side of my family named either Wendy OR Irene. I know. I've traced our family tree! All I've come up with are speculative guesses.

Wendy - Peter Pan made its Broadway appearance as a hit musical starring Mary Martin as Peter Pan in 1954. 1954 is the year I was born. And, NO - J.M. Barrie did NOT invent the name Wendy. Remember - I've done genealogy. I've seen that name going back many years - sometimes for a man! But, Wendy WAS the lead character and it was in the news and it was making a resurgence as a children's story, so that is a very likely possibility for where Mom got Wendy from.

Irene - My only clue to this one was the fact that Dad used to sing "Goodnight, Irene" around me all the time. (Yes, if you read my unHappy Anniversary post, there WERE decent memories amidst the bad ones.) Upon researching that one, I found that Goodnight, Irene was a #1 hit for The Weavers in 1950. That puts it close enough to the time of my birth that it may well have been in the back of her mind - especially if Dad liked it and sang or whistled it frequently.

If any of you is a blues fan, then you'll be familiar with Leadbelly. He originally popularized this folk song through the 30s and 40s, but as often was during those times, black singers didn't often have big commercial successes with their music. A year after his death, the white Weavers made it a hit. They apparently eliminated some of the more negative lyrics that had been sung by Leadbelly, which may have helped with its popularity in general society. I don't know. I've never heard his version.

That being said, Mom's intent on avoiding names that could develop nicknames was an abject failure. With Wendy, I've had Wimpy and Windy. But, my all time favorite was what the man across the street called me because he didn't believe Wendy wasn't short for something. He called me Gwendolyn. Oh - and his wife and daughter were named - yep - Irene.

Previously published on

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

H is for Hibachi Grill, Sushi and Chinese Buffet

Went to dinner tonight with a friend. I wasn't too interested in going here, but it was this or another place I wanted to go to less, so we ended up going to the Teppanyaki Grill and Supreme Buffet. I figured that since it included a hibachi grill, it would be my perfect 'H' topic for the A to Z Challenge.

Now, I learned something while I was looking for appropriate photos to include with this. One is that teppanyaki grill and hibachi grill are not the same things. A teppanyaki grill is basically a flat top grill similar to those we are all familiar with in diners where all the burgers, eggs, bacon, hash browns and other traditional flat grilled items are cooked. Different sections are different temperatures depending on the amount of heat being applied underneath. These apparently began to appear in Japan after the war was over, but because they weren't overly popular with the native Japanese (they offered more Western-style foods), they became popular with the tourists who were now flocking to see Japan. They then arrived in the USA during the 1960s when Benihana began to offer their cooking entertainment to all who wanted to see flying shrimp, balancing eggs and

flaming towers of onion rings. Plus, a flat top grill was a much better place to incorporate rice into the show since there was no grill to fall through. I found an image of a teppanyaki chef to include with this story.

Meanwhile, Hibachi Grills are very similar to our own charcoal or gas grills. I have included a photo of one I found online being sold on Etsy. It looks almost identical to the one my parents bought while we were in Venezuela. My daughter now has it, but I have no idea where. We need to find it because it does no good being stored somewhere and never used. I like that it has notches where the grills can be raised and lowered depending on how direct you want the heat to be on the food. And, because there are two grills, one can be hotter than the other. Or, you can keep a pot warm on the top notch. Perfect for camping, I think.

My friend is a fiend for sushi. He had at least three plates of it when we first got to the restaurant. Then he had raw oysters and clams (or was it mussels?) After that, he had the Teppanyaki chef cook him some steak to order. Then he made the rounds of the various buffet tables for some more to fill his bottomless stomach.

I had eaten the last of my sweet and sour chicken and fried rice for breakfast, so I wasn't really in the mood for more Chinese food, but this restaurant also has roast beef, salmon, ham, Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo and other non-Chinese offerings. I had the roast beef, some ham, some fettuccine and a few pieces of General Tso. I finished that and went back for some fried flounder and something else that I'm blanking out on. Can't believe I can't think of what it was. 

When we finished, we got some ice cream. I had chocolate chip mint.

Hibachi grill photo borrowed from a seller on Etsy because it's identical to the one we own and I can't find that one to take a picture.
Teppanyaki chef photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Previously published on

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

G is for Good Friends

TG has been my friend since we met at work. Until he was hired, I was the newest person in the office. He looked so lost and alone when he arrived. He was standing all alone, looking out the back door of the office, holding the big coffee mug that I used to use when I was Joan's assistant. Now he was her assistant. I missed working with Joan, but knew TG was in good hands.

I was on my way upstairs to the kitchen to get some coffee when I saw him standing alone and looking forlorn. I walked up to him, put out my hand and introduced myself, welcoming him to our little 'family'. He seemed surprised that someone would speak to him, although I'd been hearing people talk about him. Villanova grad, probably wouldn't stay, single, good looking - you know - cat talk. I just hadn't met him yet. 

On Saturday night we were talking by text and he says, "You know, we met 15 years ago today." It still surprises me that he remembers the date we met, the date I introduced myself to him. It surprises me to be so important to someone that the date of our meeting is an anniversary. So, I wished him Happy Anniversary. It felt good. It still does.

Image from a variety of comment image sites.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

F is for French Toast

I was just finishing up my French Toast and scrambled egg when I realized I had the perfect topic for my sixth letter of the AtoZ Challenge.

French Toast is that wonderfully delicious breakfast made with bread (stale is better) that is submerged in an egg and milk blend and then pan-fried on each side to thoroughly cook the egg and brown each side nicely before adding butter and syrup (or powdered sugar). I also sprinkle cinnamon on mine when I put it in the pan. I then take the leftover egg and milk mixture and cook that as a scrambled egg so that I don't waste any of what I'm using.

But, why do we call French Toast FRENCH Toast? Is it because they resemble the popular Croque Monsieur of France? Is it because it sounds better than the English translation of "pain perdu" (lost bread)? It's interesting that in France, they once referred to this style of bread as Roman bread (pain a la Romaine) before they began calling it "lost bread". In fact, a recipe for a very similar style of bread has been found in a 4th Century work where it was referred to as "another sweet dish".

So, then.....why FRENCH toast? Apparently, for the same reason we have FRENCH fries. French immigrants to the US popularized both items and, because they were originally associated with those French immigrants, those items were called French. Although, I wonder if, with regard to French fries, it might not also be related to the culinary term of Frenching which refers to a style of cutting something into long thin strips (French-style Green Beans). I don't think that is an impossibility. Still, I can see the French bringing a cooking technique with them that becomes popular here, so we call it French because they brought it with them. I think that explanation does cover French Toast well.

What is Frenched Food?
French Toast was not Invented in France.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

E is for Everything Bagel

Bagels are familiar to most people - either as bagels or as variants of the same. They are traditionally considered part of Jewish cuisine and, in the USA, are eaten with cream cheese and lox by Jews and with cream cheese or with meat, egg and cheese by others for breakfast. Quite frankly, a good bagel is good at almost any time of the day.

Bagels are very much like soft pretzels in taste and texture, but their production (and shape) is somewhat different, giving them each their own distinct characteristics. I can understand the similarities when you realize that Germany and Poland at one time were conjoined and their cuisines would have taken on similar cultural characteristics. Bagels are boiled or steamed before being baked to give their surfaces the look and feel we've come to know. Pretzels undergo a similar process, but undergo an alkaline bath prior to baking which provides them with a darker and glossier surface.

Since I'm talking about the Everything Bagel, I will allow Grub Street to describe what this iconic bagel is: a bagel with a "frenetic coating of poppy, caraway, and sesame seeds, plus salt, garlic, and onion." It seems a teenage boy named David Gussin who was working in a bagel bakery came up with the idea for an Everything bagel while cleaning up all the burned seeds from the oven. The idea took off and has become so wildly popular that many consider it the only bagel to have.

Breakfast bagels that include fruits are usually made with a sweeter dough. I, personally, love sausage, egg and cheese on a cinnamon raisin bagel. But, I'm also a fan of McDonald's Steak, Egg and Cheese on a plain bagel. I have eaten Everything bagels, but I prefer them sliced in half, toasted and buttered.

Do you like bagels? How do you eat them?

Bagel image is from Wikimedia Commons.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

D is for Delta

Delta - the fourth letter of the Greek Alphabet. Often used as a symbol in mathematics. Equivalent of the letter D in the Western Alphabet. The land that forms at the mouth of a river where it empties into a larger body of water (Look at images - often shaped like a "delta"). An angle used in surveying. A woman's name. 

Familiar deltas:

Delta Airlines

Mississippi Delta (remember New Orleans?)

Delta Dawn (country song)

Delta Burke (Designing Women - married to Gerald McRaney)

Delta Dental (the largest dental insurance carrier in the USA)

Delta Force (Special Forces Operational Detachment - an elite and secretive military counter-terrorism and special missions group. They is the Army's Seals.)

Delta Blues (one of the earliest styles of blues music)

Image from Tumblr. Originally published to Bubblews on July 4.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

C is for Chocolate Pancakes

I'm not big on chocolate. My father was the ultimate chocoholic. His dream (he wouldn't have called it that) was to go to a food show all about chocolate. He loved chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, Hershey's syrup in milk, Hershey's syrup over chocolate ice cream, Reese's peanut butter cups, ad infinitum. I didn't inherit that love. That's not to say that I didn't have the occasional craving, but for the most part, I could live without chocolate.

Now, I do like chocolate cereal. I especially like Cocoa Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles. I love how the milk is so chocolate-y when you're done. But, as much as I love it, I still have to drink water or something else afterwards to get the chocolate-y taste out of my mouth. I'm that way with most sweets - I don't like that leftover syrupy taste that lingers, even if I've enjoyed every bite.

Another chocolate cereal I love is Chocolate Malt-o-Meal. Basically, it's like cream of wheat with cocoa added. Oh my goodness! It smells so wonderful when it's cooked and then with butter and sugar added, it's most excellent. (I grew up with all hot cereals eaten with butter and sugar.)

Anyway, I'm not overly fond of sweet breakfasts, which is why the butter makes the hot cereal more palatable for me. The same is true for pancakes. The butter adds a savory flavor that cuts the syrup (which for me is usually low-sugar or sugar-free). But, this last year or so, I've been trying to keep pancakes from being just plain pancakes. Plain pancakes for me are like eating spoonsful of sugar. The carbs process so quickly and I end up just dragging even as my blood sugar skyrockets. It's like taking a sleeping pill. So, I've been adding whole grains to my pancakes - until recently, that grain has been oats along with some cinnamon for added flavor.

Maybe it's not a perfect solution, but when you're low income, you use what you have. What I have is generic complete pancake mix that I combine with a whole grain before adding water. The end result has actually been quite good. The oatmeal pancakes turned out wonderfully light and fluffy without any real evidence of the oats that I had added, despite the fact that they were so obvious in the batter itself. And, I didn't have the sugar slump after I ate them like I did with plain pancakes. The whole grains seemed to make a difference in how my body processed them.

So, after several days of eating Chocolate Malt-o-Meal for breakfast, I was in the mood for pancakes again. I decided to try mixing the malt-o-meal with the pancake mix and see how that turned out. First of all, I've always thought the idea of chocolate pancakes was disgusting. Pancakes are sweet enough without adding chocolate to them. Yet, I knew that the chocolate flavoring in the hot cereal wasn't that strong and it was, after all, a whole grain cereal; so, I decided to try it.

I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. Although they were somewhat heavier than the oatmeal pancakes (whether that is because of the cereal or because I changed pancake mixes at the same time, I don't yet know, although I suspect it's the cereal), they turned out amazingly well. The chocolate flavoring was minimal, yet I could smell its essence while they baked in the pan. As with the oats, the cereal grains cooked through while the cakes were baking because of, I assume, the intensity of the steam factor in the cooking process. I still eat them the same way - with butter and low-sugar syrup, although I really only put syrup on the top pancake to run down the sides.

I personally think it's a great way to sneak whole grains and fiber into the pancakes your family keeps requesting. The kids will be intrigued by the chocolate factor and you'll know they're getting something better in their bodies than a pancake usually is. Try adding oatmeal, applesauce and cinnamon. Or, slices of banana once the oatmeal batter is in the pan before you flip them. I know I've noticed a difference in how my body responds to the pancakes since I began adding the hot cereals, so I'm sure these additions will benefit your family as well. And, they won't even realize it!!

Image borrowed from the Malt-o-Meal website where I was also looking to find out where I could buy some of this cereal in my area. Apparently, it's not as popular in the east as it is out west.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

B is for Baked Ziti (No-Boil)

I had recently tried a recipe for No Boil Macaroni and Cheese that turned out pretty well other than it was a bit too al dente. It's still worth it because I'll just add more liquid the next time I make it.

But, I had a box of tri-color rotini in my pantry I wanted to use along with some ricotta, shredded mozzarella and spaghetti sauce. I went looking for a recipe for no-boil rotini, but wasn't successful. However, I did find a recipe for no-boil baked ziti that I decided to try figuring my pasta would replace the ziti approximately one-for-one.

My problem was that my box of rotini was 12 oz and the recipe called for eight ounces. Plus, my rotini seemed smaller in diameter than ziti would be, so I wanted to be sure what came out of the oven wasn't too runny or too thick and that the pasta was cooked all the way through.

Holy cow! What I got turned out to be the BEST baked pasta I'd ever had!! I've had some that the ricotta seems to dominate and the pasta sauce gets lost. I've had others that add nutmeg to such a degree that it isn't just an accent, but a primary flavor. I was hoping to avoid either one of those extremes. 

One of the ways I tried to do that was to add some additional spices to the mixture to keep it from being too cheesy. Fortunately, I was successful. 

Now, I'll share with you the recipe I used with notes showing what changes I made and where. I really think you'll be pleased with this recipe. It takes only five minutes to prepare!

The thing I liked best was that it didn't heat up the whole house. There was heat from the oven, but if I had done both boiling water and the oven, it would have been very uncomfortable. Since we don't eat in the kitchen, this worked well for a summer meal.

No Boil Baked Ziti

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 8

1 26 oz jar pasta sauce (I used a can of Hunt's meat flavored)
1 1/2 cups water (I added more water, maybe 1/2 cup or so)
15 oz ricotta 
1/4 cup grated parmesan (I left this out - just sprinkled some on top near the end)
2 cups shredded mozzerella
8 oz uncooked ziti (I used 12 oz of tri-colored rotini which is why I added more water)

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine sauce and water.
Stir in ricotta, parmesan, and 1 cup mozzerella.
Add uncooked ziti. (I also added about 1/2 tsp each of Italian and Pizza spice blends.)
Spoon ziti mixture into 13x9" baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake 55 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzerella. (This is when I sprinkled the parmesan, too.)
Bake uncovered for 5 minutes. 

Original recipe from Ragu -

This article was originally posted to my Foodie blog: and then to my Bubblews account on July 2.

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