Good Enough is Good Enough

When I was a kid I had a friend, who for purposes that she remain my friend now, I will call Q, who was an absolute perfectionist. When I would go over to her house to play after school we never actually got to play because we had to do our homework first. I had plenty of time to play because I would whip through my homework as fast as I could. But not Q. She agonized over every assignment. She used multiple colored pencils to do her math. Just the picking up and putting down of the color she was looking for made ten fifth grade math assignments take four times as long as it should have. I was never really sure what the different colors meant, but it was something very important to her.
Now Q grew up to be an accountant and I have to say I wish our accountant was as persnickety as she is. The other thing about Q was her bedroom was always immaculate and her clothes never stained or wrinkled and her hair the perfect Farrah Fawcet flip, even though it was naturally straight. I was amazed that she would even be friends with me, with my clothes piled up on my closet floor as I would search my room for my hair brush and eventually give up and go out with my rats nest hairdo.
Since today is cyber Monday and apparently I am the only person not shopping online for my Christmas gifts, I saw an article espousing the old adage, “Perfect is the enemy of good enough.” Apparently the perfectionism trait is making shopping a terrible chore for those who are afflicted with it. There are people who spend hours upon hours reading reviews and comparing prices, which is bad enough, but then they compare shipping rates and how far items will come from and before you know it they have wasted five hours to save three dollars and only bought one thing.
The same article that talked about the “perfectionism problem” went on to say that people who are happy with good enough are actually happier with everything. Finally, my lifetime of feeling inferior to Q because my book covers did not look brand new come June, or that my white converse sneakers were grey one week after purchase means I might actually have been OK because I was just fine with good enough.
I may never had been a perfectionist at anything, but I have the opposite issue in that I figured I could do almost anything even without instruction. This was much harder back in the pre-Internet/YouTube days. Of course that was also before anyone could really check up on my claims. This is how I got to be a caterer. One day I cooked food for a party and the next day I called myself a caterer. Of course once I got business cards it was really official. Now I have never gone so far as to try and conduct surgery on anyone, but then again if I was in a jungle with no other medical help I might try.
For today I am celebrating my “good enough” personality and no longer worrying about not being close to perfect. It has gotten me this far and I am very happy.

Roast Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Garlic and Candied Lemon Peel


Nobody much likes having different food on Thanksgiving. My proof is unless you are a vegetarian, I bet you have almost always have a turkey. Now, you may also have a ham, but you still have a turkey, and probably stuffing.
I like familiar foods on Thanksgiving, but don’t mind a few new ones thrown in for variety. This year my dad was cooking all the white and brown food; turkey, stuffings, mashed potatoes, gravy and creamed onions. I was in charge of cooking all the colorful foods; cranberry sauce, green beans, stewed tomatoes, pies and these Brussels Sprouts.  
Since Brussels are not the number one item on most people’s craving list I felt like I could take some liberties with my recipe. I think this one was a hit, at least with me.
Big bag of fresh Brussels Sprouts- ends trimmed and halved

30 cloves of garlic- peeled

2 T. Olive oil

2T. Balsamic Vinegar

1 T. Sugar

2 Lemons
Take the peeled garlic cloves and put them in a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Place the pan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer and cook for three minutes. Drain the garlic and pat dry. Put the garlic back in the sauce pan and add the olive oil and put on a medium heat and cook for five minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and half the sugar and five tablespoons of water. Simmer for about fifteen minute until the liquid has turned into a syrup. Stir it every so often so the garlic does not stick to the pan. You can do this up to three days in advance refrigerated. 
Cut the peel off the lemons trying to get as little pith as possible. Then cut the peel into thin strips. Squeeze all the juice out of the lemons. Place the peels and juice in a small sauce pan. Add the other half of the sugar and 6 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat and cook for ten minutes- stirring to make sure the peel does not stick. Pour the peel and any remaining liquid in a small container. You can do this up to a week in advance if you keep the peel in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with Pam. Place the Brussels sprout cut side down on the pan and place in the oven and cook for twenty minutes until the cut side gets brown.
To serve, mix the garlic and any syrup with the lemon peel and it’s syrup. Salt and pepper.  
Don’t worry that this is so much garlic, caramelizing it makes it mild as can be.
Enjoy any day of the year, not just Thanksgiving .

12 Hour Marathon


No, I did not run anywhere. If I did try and do a marathon it probably would take me twelve hours. No today was the put the tree up day and it took me twelve hours with only a few breaks, and that includes ornaments. Although I was up and down the twelve foot ladder many times and I was lifting and walking all day my Apple Watch did not register one minute of exercise today. What a bunch of Scrooges out there in Cupertino. They have no idea that putting up a 14 foot tree with over 9,000 lights and thousands and thousands of ornament is the biggest workout there is. There needs to be a Christmas Decorating workout setting.
I also got the needlepoint garlands up today, but that was such a pleasure it hardly felt like exercise. Only a step ladder was required so it was not as much climbing. I still have another whole days worth of decorating tomorrow before before Christmas will officially begin iPad our house. Sadly, I am the only family member who really cares, at least that is the story I get from the other people who don’t help decorate. Russ of course has to help me out the tree together, but decorating is all my doing.
The cleaning up after the decorating is almost the worst part. You can see the mess I make. So now I am going to retire early tonight to rest up for snow village building tomorrow.

The Long Camp Cheerio Wait Is Over


Seven years ago, when Carter first went to Camp Cheerio she quickly discovered it was her favorite place on earth. Her love grew each year. In order to spend more time on the mountain that made her heart sing she would ask me to let her go to more and more sessions and I let her.  
After her second year she set her sights on getting a CIT position when she finished being a camper. It was a very long range plan for a kid in single digits. Carter would study the qualities of the CIT’s and counselors she loved, which quite frankly were most of them. Their love of children made them great role models and I could not have been happier about Carter wanting to emulate such kind, thoughtful and fun people.
In Carter’s last year as a senior camper she and her large group of camp friends from all the sessions she attended discussed ad nauseum the CIT application processes and wondered how many of them would get the coveted positions. I have to say I was quite amazed at the length of the application and the depth and number of recommendations they needed. It seemed liked we waited an eternity to hear if she got into the CIT class last year.  
When Russ and I took Carter to camp as a CIT we were blown away by the camp director’s remarks in the parent meeting. He talked about how hard being a CIT was going to be and that the kids would learn quickly if they liked making the transition from being a camper, having the time of their life, to a counselor who is there to ensure that the campers are happy and safe. He was right. Carter would tell us in the one hour a week she got to have her phone that it was the hardest job, but that she loved it.
In that same meeting the director told the parents and the 50 CIT’s that this six week period was one big job interview and that only about seven to ten of them would be offered jobs as Junior Counselors the next year. I looked around the room at so many of Carter’s cute friends I had met through the years. I could see that almost all of them would make great counselors if that was what they wanted to do. I looked at Carter who was nervous, but excited. A six week job interview was harder than anything I have ever had to do in my life.
At the end of camp last year Carter left not knowing what the future would hold. She had no idea if that was her last summer. Camp had gone great, she worked as hard as she could, but the odds were very tough. Some friends decided that even though they loved camp, being a counselor was not for them, but most applied for the job for next year. As CIT’s they started a big group chat that they have kept in touch through the year.  
They were told that they would hear before Thanksgiving and the angst really picked up on Wednesday. One of Carter’s friends, when he did not get a letter, went out and hunted down the postman in his neighborhood to see if by chance he had miss delivered it. Another boy video taped himself going to look in the mailbox a second time after he had already gotten the mail to see if by chance the letter was stuck in the back of the box. Only one girl actually got her letter on Wednesday and it was not good news.  
That let everyone know the decisions were out and now they had to wait through no mail delivery on Thanksgiving and another day. Carter had a friend who was going to visit relatives for the long weekend so she was paying someone to go look at her mail. The anxiety was killing all these kids who love Cheerio as much as Carter.
Today the group chat was going crazy as people got their mail. Carter was sadly reporting to us as people were finding out that they had not gotten the job. I had told Carter that we have notoriously slow mail at our house so she was not sure her letter would be at our house when we got home from the farm. The one thing she had learned from the group chat was that if you got a small letter it was a rejection, but an acceptance was a big envelope.
As we pulled into the neighborhood I asked her if she wanted to look in the mailbox or wanted me to do it. She said, “You please look.” Carter was sitting behind me on the passenger side and Russ pulled the car up to the mailbox. I was so scared as I opened the door and of course the box was packed with a package, catalogues and there in the middle was one big white envelope wrapped around the rest of the regular letters. I pulled it out and saw the Camp Cheerio logo on the return address. “It’s a big one!” I yelled, as I handed it back to Carter. She burst into to tears as she read the letter. They were tears of happiness as well as sadness for her friends who were not coming back.  
I know she worked her hardest to get that job. I am proud as I can be that she made it. She gives all of her heart to Camp Cheerio and it is her happy place, but our hearts go out to the families who tonight are realizing that they won’t be at camp next summer. Seems like real life starts so young.

No Fighting, Is This Thanksgiving?


Well happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope that none of you needed to break out the Adele Hello song at the dinner table. We have more than survived a happy day thanks in no small part to our South African friends the Ushpols — Mark, Kelly, Cait and Adam who are great sports at my parents Thanksgiving table.
This is the second year we have these friends come for lunch so they had a fairly good idea of what life on the farm is like. The good news is we had very little political discussion despite the potential mind fields all the candidates have provided us.  
Rudely, we arrived later than the Ushpols at my own parents home. Luckily my father wasted no time getting everyone drinks and we gathered in the living room where my mother had cleared away enough needlepoint pillows so we could all sit in one place. When the last drink was poured my father finally joined us where he started the conversation by saying, “I’m worried about the turkey.” This does not seem like the best thing to say to all your guests at Thanksgiving.  
Knowing his perfectionism about cooking I asked him if he had a turkey and when he said, “yes,” to then explain his worry. Just as I expected, his fears were unfounded. He followed my favorite Alton Brown brined turkey recipe and it cooked faster than he expected. There was no real problem, we just moved up the eating time by forty five minutes, no turkey was over cooked, or burned, or was still frozen, no disaster, as my father had tried to lead us to believe.
After a big feast of what my mother called an unnecessary number of vegetables. We took a break from the table to take a walk and enjoy the practically perfect weather. The best part about the farm is that where ever we walk if there is anyone else around they are probably related to me. I got to see all my cousins and all their children. The best line of the day came from eight year old Sam who asked who Russ was, and his ten year old cousin Eva said, “Carter’s dad.” Carter as the oldest cousin of her generation is like a celebrity so Sam nodded that Russ was fine as long as he was with Carter.
Our walk was not long enough to counteract the dessert damage we went back to the table to do. Kelly made a pastry chef quality white chocolate cheese cake and Carter had made Pecan crack pies. Only my father did not indulge. So while the rest of us were in a sugar coma my father started to question Adam about the recent school fall formal. Adam was a very good sport about taking my father’s dating advice, not that he is actually taking it, but he listened intently while all the parents of teenagers at the table worried what he might suggest next.
In the end it was a fun day and the best part for me is I missed the only bad thing that happened when my father dropped pan of leftover creamed onions on the floor. If that is the only disaster at a family Thanksgiving then I consider it a success. I hope yours was too and we all have a lot to be thankful for.

Nice Bones


One of my favorite things to watch on TV are home renovation shows when they take old houses and redo them. A common phrase you here over and over again when the decorating experts are looking at horrible looking houses is, “Yes, but it has nice bones.” When Russ and I first looked at our house I was video taping us walking around the house because we thought we might buy it and wanted to show our parents. When we got to the furnace room and Russ, an electrical engineer by training, opened the door, I caught him on tape mumbling to himself, “nice panel” as he checked out the electric system. I just got our old furniture recovered and was happy that I had bought good upholstered furniture twenty years ago because it has, “nice frames” and could be recovered well.
Today I took Carter to the oral surgeon for a consult on her getting her wisdom teeth out. They took a 360 degree X-ray of her head so we could look at all her teeth. One of the shots they showed us was of her jaw line and cheek bones. We were very interested in seeing what was under her skin and the nurse said, “beautiful chin, mouth and cheek bones.”  
It gave me an appreciation for good bones that are the super structure of what everything else is hung on. We can change the outside or superficial stuff, but we can’t change the bones, at least not easily. Looking at the X-rays in all the various angles is like looking at the potential. Everything else can be changed.
The hardest thing for most people is seeing the possibilities. This is why so many realtors make people paint their houses neutral colors when they put it on the market. Most people can’t see past someone’s Victorian wall paper that is not their taste to the bones of a room and see how they can make it their own.
I have a friend who gained a little weight a few years ago and said to me recently that she is resigned that now she will always be this heavy, even though she is unhappy about it. I am the first person to say that what you are on the outside is no way what you have to be forever. I know this from both the up and the down direction. I wish I had a full body X-ray for my friend to show her what her bones look like because that is the limit of what her body can be. The outside drape is up to her.  
I am not suggesting that any of us should, get close to our skeletal selves, that is another kind of scary. Just that we all start with the nice bones we are born with and can build from there. It is not all about what people can see either. Like Russ admiring the electrical panel, it is the works that make us go and having a good internal system makes life easier.  
So I appreciate all my insides I can not see and take for granted. The outside that I obsess about can be changed, both for the better and the worse if I am not careful. Like my furniture I can be recovered as long as the super structure is in good shape. In this season of gratitude I am thankful for “nice bones” and keeping them healthy.


Setting Goals

Four weeks ago my decorator asked me why I did not have any needlepoint pillows that I had done. I could not use the need for Christmas ornaments as a real excuse given that I probably have many multiples of a thousand ornaments. Since I was going to be needing a bunch of new pillows on my redone sofas I decided I would park needlepointing tiny Santas and sparkly snowmen and work on a big pillow.
I chose a bold bunny head as my first big project. The last time I had done a needlepoint project this big I was in middle school and I think it took me half a year to complete. I was unsure about how long it would really take me to do a 13 inch square canvas, but I did know that I did not want to look at the same thing for six months. One of the reasons I liked doing ornaments is that I could finish them before I tired of them.
I also am a person who likes to work toward a goal, so I decided I wanted to finish my bunny canvas in four weeks. I had no idea how unrealistic a goal it was. I started stitching and thanks to lots of basketball games and some rainy weekends I kept up a good pace. It was looking doubtful when I ran out of white yarn on Sunday night and the needlepoint store is closed on Sunday and Monday. But then a miracle happened when I found another skein of the exact yarn in my stash. Thanks to miracles I finished my bunny this morning right on the four week dot.
Looking back I did not forgo any real work, like cooking dinner or doing the laundry in order to needlepoint. I just worked at every available moment and I met my goal. Now I need to use the same discipline for making a pillow to other goals in my life. If I could stick to my diet as well as I can needlepoint or exercise with the same gusto I would be very happy. I guess the difference is that I can do almost anything for four weeks, after that I need a break. For now it’s back to ornaments, it is almost Christmas after all and it is the only time that people don’t ask me why I am working on an ornament so early.

Why You Need A Decorator

IMG_0264 4 IMG_0261 2


Twenty years ago when Russ and I put the addition on our house I went to High Point, the mecca of furniture in America and bought furniture for our “gathering room,” as our architect called it. I had a lot of space to fill up so the most important attribute of the furniture was that it was big. We also were big so we bought furniture that was comfortable for our sizes. The sofas were bigger than a twin bed so that Russ would have a comfortable place to pass out.


The years have gone by and the furniture got more and more dated as well as faded, but Carter was of the age that I did not want to have to worry about what she and her friends might do to the fabrics. After a while I just stopped going in the gathering room because the furniture made me sad.


After Russ convinced me to refinish the floors in the old part of the house I started to take a closer look at other things. The balloon shades in the living room were really starting to bug me. The country chandelier in the breakfast room was much too 80’s. But mostly the old faded gathering room furniture needed to be recovered.


I looked at my budget and decided that if ever there was a time to redecorate it was before Carter went to college. I thought for about a minute of trying to do this job on my own, but the idea of finding the right fabrics and trims as well as a qualified upholsterer made me a little crazy. So I called my old friend and decorator Lane Blank, which was the smartest thing I could have done.


In less than a month we had picked out the new fabrics and she had my furniture whisked away and returned to me all recovered. Not only did everything get new fabric, but also old chairs got rebuilt and the twin sofas the size of twin beds got new cushions made for them so they no longer relied on pillows as the back cushions. We still need new pillows and window coverings, but those will not be far behind. I am happy as can be in my newly done room, which never could have happened so painlessly without Lane. It does not cost more to use a professional and everything gets done perfectly and quickly.


Now I am eyeing the kitchen. I think I will have to wait until next year to see what my budget can handle, but maybe painted cabinets and new pulls are in my future. For now I think I am going to hang out in the gathering room.

Too Old To Stay Up Late



I have long been an advocate for people waiting to have children until they were absolutely certain they were not a child themselves. Of course that would prevent many people from ever having children, so I hope that at least one parent is grown up enough to be the actual parent. I married a man who was old when he was young so he was never at risk for being a child father. I was ridiculously old by the time I actually became a mother, so I followed my own rule.


Being an old mother paid off in those early years. I no longer felt the need to go out to parties and stay out so late when Carter was a baby. It was not the staying out late that would be the problem but the getting up early when the baby woke up.


I knew this situation well from my own childhood. My parents often had trouble getting baby sitters because they liked to stay out late and party. At age five I was good at getting myself up on Saturday morning and making my own breakfast in a quite way so I did not wake my sleeping parents. I was not so good at doing anything for my one-year-old sister who had to just stay in her crib. That is when I discovered the joy of riding my bike into the center of town to escape any baby responsibility.


Now I am rethinking my late arrival into motherhood. Not because I wish I could stay out late, but because now at my advanced age it is harder and harder on me to stay up late enough to make sure my teenager gets home safely. Last night Carter went to the fall formal and was having two friends to spend the night afterwards. Since they all can drive now I had to stay up late enough for them all to individually get here. Of course they did, but I have been a wreck all day from my late night.


I guess this is why humans are built to have children young. Not just so we can chase toddlers around, but so we can keep up with our kids when they are teenagers. My parents did not have to go through this since we all went to boarding school. Ignorance is blissful to an aging parent.

Happy Basketball Day


There are no endorphins like the ones you get when you win a basketball tournament. Not that I would know personally since I never was on a basketball team, but seeing Carter and her happy teammates conquer the Cannon Classic this afternoon with a decisive win of 60-19 over the Metrolina team proved to me that hard work makes people happy.
When we first got the basketball schedule Carter was a little unhappy that this tournament was happening on the fall formal weekend. Her team left school yesterday to play in the first game and if they won they would play for the championship today at 2:00, meaning she would miss all the fun pre-formal festivities. Russ and I did not go to the first game where the girls had a decisive win. As we were driving to Concord, NC today Carter texted that she was nervous that this team they were playing today was good. Nerves are a good thing in this case.
I’m not sure if Metrolina was not playing their best, or our girls were playing exceptionally well, but there was nothing for Carter to be nervous about. Captain and all around fantastic person Liz Roberts broke the DA school scoring record for both men’s and women’s in the Friday game. She did not let up in this game and continued her consistent strong showing.  
Sophomore Issy Strigel was on fire today making 30 points, most of them 3’s. Her decisive play gained her a large following of new fans from other schools and their parents. One boy’s team from another school started cheering for her every time she got the ball and were on their feet cheering with each impressive three point shot she made from well beyond the arch. I think those boys stood up and cheered more than the DA parents. Issy is going to give Liz a run for her money in most points scored by any student in their career.
All the girls on the team got time on the court and non-starters contributed to the win. Carter had an opponent who matched her in size and she held her back through the game. In the end coach Krista was instructing Carter on how to fall over more quickly when blocking. Falling is something we have always tried to keep Carter from doing since she is prone to injury, but now it’s time to learn to fall purposely.  
Thanks to the mercy rule the clock never stopped in the fourth quarter which helped speed the end of the game. Three of our players, Liz Roberts, Issy Strigel and Serena Walker were awarded all tournament team player awards. After the trophy was given to the happy team we headed to the car to whisk Carter back to Durham. The great mood lasted the whole way home and she changed for the dance and ran off to meet her crew at dinner. I hope that tourney high lasts all night.

Where’s The Wedge Salad?

Russ is a member of a group that has parties. Not that Russ likes parties so much — he does it for me. For years this group has had the same menu at the same party at the same place with pretty much the same people. I know that sounds a little boring, but you don’t know how good it is until something gets changed.
All day my mouth was getting ready for a wedge salad, beef tenderloin and roast potatoes. It was like clock work you could depend on it. I always got a big glop of horseradish with my tenderloin and so did Russ, which made him very happy. Now on any given Friday Russ is not happy to have to go to a party. He has woken up everyday at four thirty or five and worked until ten so Fridays are the pass out early night. Telling him that he has to put on a coat and tie and stand up talking to people is not his favorite thing. 
To ease his pain I reminded him of the standard menu and promised we would only talk a little, eat fast and get home early. Luckily right as we arrived we ran into our friends Dave and Dave who also are happy to stand in one place and talk to each other and Russ.
All was going fine on the promised plan for the evening until it came time for the buffet dinner. The menu had been drastically changed and not one of the original beloved menu items appeared. No wedge, or salad of any kind, no beef, no horseradish. The replacement items were not a hit amongst our table. Now I am not sure how I am ever going to get Russ to go back to this party when he says that the week-old leftovers I our fridge are so much better, plus he does not have to wear a coat and tie to eat them. I bet I could get Dave and Dave to come over and bring their wives and we could just have our own party. There is nothing easier to make than a wedge salad and a tenderloin.

Chicken Breast As Crust Pizza


When I was in seventh grade and took the home ec/shop rotation class where I really loved the sewing quarter, wood shop quarter and metal shop quarter. The cooking quarter was the lamest class ever. One of the things we concentrated on was making pizza with different items as the crust, such as English muffins or refrigerator biscuits flattened out. The cooking class felt more like survival class if you only have a seven eleven convenience store to buy your food.
Today before Carter went to bball practice I told her we were having salmon for dinner. In true fashion she begged me to make her something different for dinner. I have no problem letting people in my house eat something different for dinner as long as They chose from the large larder of leftovers in the fridge. So I listed Carter’s other choices. “No, no, no,” were her replies to each item.  
The thing I really hate is thinking up new foods at the last minute. “What do you want?” I asked thinking the request would be something I don’t have or very unhealthy or both.  
“Can you make me that Pizza with the chicken breast as the crust?” What? Easy, fast, healthy and foods on hand. I quickly answered yes before she could come up with a different idea.
So this pizza is really a variation on the seventh grade home ec cooking rotation. Something improvised to make a crust to put some pizza sauce and cheese on top. In this case it is a chicken breast that is pounded very thin between two pieces of wax paper.
1 boneless skinless chicken breast- pounded out to be 1/4 thick

Garlic powder


Salt and pepper

Pizza or spaghetti sauce

Grated cheese- I used the 5 cheese Italian blend
Spray a non stick fry pan with Pam and put on high heat. Sprinkle one side of the breast with spices and put the spice side down in the hot pan. Cook on one side for about three minutes until browned, while it is cooking sprinkle spices on the top side.
Flip the breast and cook on the other side until the whole thing is cooked.  
Turn on the broiler in the oven.  
Place the cooked chicken breast on a cookie sheet and spoon just enough sauce to cover the top like you would if you were saucing a pizza. Sprinkle with as much cheese as you like. Place the cookie sheet under the broiler at least five inches from the heat. Watch the chicken and take it out when the cheese has melted – it should only be about a minute or two.
The chicken breast makes a much better crust than a refrigerator biscuit ever did.

Doggie Dental Day


Today I went to pick Shay Shay up from the vet where she was having her teeth cleaned. I’m telling you that is the most expensive job I have ever seen. Now I understand cleaning a dog’s teeth in a way like a human could not be possible because no dog would ever hold their mouth open all by themselves and the potential to get bitten is great, so of course sedation is needed. But after paying the bill I am going to do everything possible to keep Shay’s teeth pearly white.  
My doc gave us a “before and after” picture of Shay’s teeth and it was nice to see the difference, but I could have done without seeing the breathing tube that was down her throat. Poor girl is worn out now and is just lying on the bed looking at me with the accusatory, “you did this to me,” or at the least, “you drove me to this.”
I know that Shay was not feeling herself when I picked her up because there was a big cage of six Cumberland Spaniel puppies being rolled out to their car who she practically ignored. They were giant white fluff balls who had the look of my favorite cartoon dog– the fat puppy in 101 Dalmatians who says, “But mother, I’m hungry.” Normally Shay would have wanted to say hello to such a fun looking crowd, but not today. She did not even attempt to ride home in my lap. So sad, and to think I did this to her. It does me no good to tell her that she will thank me later in life when she still has her teeth without any painful abscesses.
I just hope that her dog memory is short and when she wakes up in the morning she is back to being her happy, I-love-everyone self. For now I must baby her and make her feel she is those important dog in the world, which of course she is to me.

Let’s Meet Terrorism With Love Not Hate

Whenever anyone I know starts a sentence, “I’m not going to talk politics, but…” I take that as code for “I am about to say something I know you will disagree with, but I am going to talk about it anyway.” I think one of the problems in our world today is that we all live in our own silos of beliefs and reenforce them by watching news that is already one sided. I am happy to have civil discussions with people of different beliefs so we all can learn some balance.
This blog is not usually political, and I am not changing my focus from diet comedy to world politics, but once in a while I am pushed to voice my opinion even though plenty of people I know disagree. The recent events in Paris were horrific and on that most of us can agree, as long as I don’t have any Isis sleeper cells as readers. What I am worried about now is the quick reaction of some Governors, mine in particular, to say that we should close our state to refugees fleeing the terrorism in their homeland.
I would like for us to consider that the best possible way to fight terrorism is with love not hate. If we turn our backs on innocent people who are suffering at the hands of a few fanatics aren’t we inviting their children to become terrorists in the future? Isn’t the long term solution to treat people with kindness and compassion today and build up people who are thankful and devoted down the road?
Yes, there is a small chance that we might let a potential terrorist into our home, but if when they get here if we have shown them great love might we change the outcome? Those of us who were born in the US, France, or England were lucky, and it is just luck that you were born to the parents you have or the race you are. If our child was born in Syria wouldn’t we do everything possible to get them to a better place?  
I know I am not going to change the view of all people who want to close our borders, but please consider how taking a really long range view and try and solve the terrorism issue in a whole new way. Terrorist are created because they hate us. Let’s not meet hate with hate, but with love. If we can do that we will dramatically cut down on the number of people who feel disenfranchised and hopeless and are willing to lose their own life because they hate us so much.  
There will always be radicals, but let’s not create a culture where people want to follow those radicals because they have nothing to lose. One radical can only do so much, but one with an army of people willing to follow is a problem. We have not solved the issues with a military solution so I am suggesting we work on a kindness campaign and start with the refugees. No one can vet every potential hazard so let’s go on faith and treat people how we wish to be treated if we were in the same situation. I’m voting for love to win.

Lame Blog 

Oh yeah, I forgot I write a daily blog. Operative word being daily. You would think that after three and a half years it would not slip my mind. So hear I am at eleven at night and it just dawns on me that I have not written anything today.
I had a normal day. Work out with my trainer and a visit with a friend who just lost her father. Some chores around the house. Off to Raleigh to have lunch with a Food Bank donor so I could solicit a nice gift from him. Back to Durham, errands, groceries so I could actually make dinner. Cooking, dog walking, needlepoint, giving Carter a snack before b-ball practice, then off to parents college night at school. Back home for a late dinner of the meatloaf I made.  
No wonder I forgot about the blog. All I can think about is college night. So the info in the blog today will be thin, but good. Just a little hint about a new ingredient I added to my half ground turkey, half beef meatloaf. I put a half a cup of hoagie spread, which is just a jared cherry pepper relish. I always cook some onions, carrots and green peppers to fill out the meat loaf, but the hoagie spread gave it a big kick.  
Hopefully tomorrow I will be a little less forgetful and write something before I am just too exhausted to think, let alone write. I guess my sometimers is showing, but if I post a lame blog, once a year I hope you will forgive me. Good night sweet readers.

All Basketball, All Sitting, All Weekend


Carter had a basketball game Friday night and one Saturday morning and her team is off to a good start to the season. Since I was already sitting in the DA bleachers needlepointing between plays I stayed and watched the boys games too. That makes four games in an eighteen hour period. I wish that cheering and praying for good plays counted as exercise for me. It makes my heart race, but I don’t think it actually burns any extra calories. It was a lot of sitting.
During the half time of the boys game Mr. Engebretsen, the director of athletics, swept the whole court with one of those giant push brooms. It was not something done during the half of the girls game, perhaps because they might not sweat on the court as much as the boys do. Nevertheless it seems like I should volunteer to be the court sweeper so I can at least get some steps when the kids are not on the court. I am not saying that the girls are not getting the same cleanliness as the boys since they play first and dirty up the court first, but I am happy to take a break from needlepointing between halves and games and sweep the court.
As if I did not get enough b-ball with the four high school games, Russ and I accepted an invitation to go to the Carolina game with our friends the Toms this afternoon. Not to embarrass our host I did not bring any needlepoint. The game between number one ranked UNC and the unranked Fairfield University should have been lopsided, but it was not until the end. Fairfield held their own through much of the game, much to the dismay of coach Williams.
Men’s college ball is a different animal than high school girls, but I have to say one is not necessarily more exciting than the other. The only thing that is the same is the lack of exercise for me as a spectator. I wonder if the Dean Dome would consider putting in some exercise bikes that spectators would ride to help power the stadium. I know that I did not pay for my ticket, but I would consider paying extra if I could exercise while watching. I know that all that nervous energy I generate when the game is close or the officiating is bad could be put to better use. What about a stair step section? They could be “green seats” that power the game.
It’s just the start of basketball season and I need to come up with a plan to combat bleacher spread. I am open to suggestions, but I am calling that broom at DA mine right now.

Fennel Soup in the French Style 


We all were horrified bout the killings in Paris yesterday. As I sat at Carter’s basketball game, Russ was updating me with the terrible news coming from the city we love. Our hearts go out all French people and anyone affected by these terrorists whose end game I really don’t understand.
I have been a Francophile ever since fifth grade. I lived with a French family when I was in college and although I was there to improve my language the best thing I took away from that experience was improved cooking skills. My French mother would take me to the market with her and since I could hardly speak intelligible sentences to her I would concentrate on learning what the favorite ingredients were she would buy. They were so different than the processed and packaged foods of the 70’s we were having back home. 
One thing I first ate in France was fresh fennel bulb. I was not a lover of anything anise or licorice flavor before I had fennel and it was a nice surprise. So tonight in solidarity of the French people I love I made a fennel soup. It was incredibly simple, just using a few ingredients I had on hand. I wanted to make a creamy soup without making it with a lot of cream. To accomplish that I put one small Yukon gold potato in the pot while I cooked the vegetables.  
1 T. Olive oil

2 fennel bulbs – tops cut off and bulbs quartered

5 shallots- peeled

4 cloves of garlic -peeled

1 Yukon gold potato – peeled and chopped

1 bunch of fresh thyme – tied with kitchen twine

32 oz. box of chicken stock

3 T. Half and half

Squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper
Put the olive oil in a big stock pot. Add the fennel, shallots, garlic and thyme and cook on medium heat stirring it a couple of times and cook for five minutes. Add the potato and the chicken stock and bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes until every thing is tender.
Remove the thyme bundle and pour the contents of the pot into a blender. Make sure to remove the center of the top of the blender and purée the vegetables. Add the half and half and mix again. Taste and add the right amount of salt and lots of black pepper and the lemon juice.
Try and not eat the whole pot while standing at the blender.  
Viva la France.

The Christmas Snooper


When I about seven years old I did the worst thing a kid can do, I snooped in the closets and found the Christmas presents. My innocence was lost, if you know what I mean. Because of my much too young age to lose the magic of Christmas I always did a superior job of hiding presents from Carter.
One year when she was full on into the American girl doll stage I had all her gifts delivered to my friend Sally’s house where I knew there was no possibility of a snooping discovery. As far as I know she did not discover gifts before any holiday or actually even look for them.  
As Carter has gotten older I have gotten a lot more lax about where I leave bags of gifts since she has never shown any peeking tendencies and quite frankly she already knows all the secrets. This week I went to a local store and bought a few things for Christmas as well as a couple of house hold items just for me. I brought the bags in my office and left them on a chair. There was no hurry to wrap or hide anything so I thought everything’s was safe where it was.
Later in the day I went upstairs to my bedroom where I found Shay playing with some of her stuffed animals on my bed. No matter how hard we try to keep all of Shay’s loveys in her big basket in the sunroom inevitably she carries one or two into Russ’ office or our bedroom so she can play with them while snuggling with us.  
As I entered the bedroom Shay looked up at me with a guilty sort of look. Now, long ago we gave up on any idea of keep Shay off the furniture, so being on the bed as not a reason to look guilty. I looked at her surrounded by various stuffed toys, some without an arm or leg, most certainly without a squeaker. I looked a little closer and notice a pice tag off to the side and upon further investigation noticed that one of the toys she had was a brand new I had just purchased for Christmas.  
Apparently Shay is a Christmas snooper and I never knew it. How she knew there was a toy for her amongst the other gifts, socks and wash cloths I will never know. It did not come from a pet store, so it could not be that it had that pet store smell. She is not normally so nosy with bags I bring in the house.
I went down to my office to see if she had torn anything else part and the bags sat innocently undisturbed looking. If she had just ripped the tag off and thrown it away I probably never would have noticed that she had pre-gifted herself a toy. I wonder if she inherited this snooping ability from me?

Welcome to My Decade Hannah


Yesterday was my friend Hannah’s birthday so we celebrated today with a lunch, our favorite method for recognizing the accomplishment of reaching a new year. For the longest time most of my friends were older than me. When Carter was in pre-school she used to ask me why I was friends with all the Grandmothers.
As Carter got older I started to become friends with her friend’s mother who almost universally were younger than me. It was a nice balance to my world. In essence Hannah and I were forced together when our daughters announced at pre-k pick up that they wanted a play date. I introduced myself to Carter’s new found friend Campbell’s mother who had a brand new baby, which put her in the young category. As fast as Carter and Campbell became friends so did her mother Hannah and I. That was almost thirteen years ago.
When we met Hannah was still in her thirties but I was already in my forties. Although we are actually only about fours years apart they seemed like longer years back then. Hannah was a young and athletic thirty and I was a haggard and out of shape forty. Today Hannah is still young, in shape and athletic, but I am not as bad as I was then. 
The difference now is that four years as a percentage of our age is less significant as we have gotten older. And even though Hannah has not yet had to succumb to readers or compression hose she is at least in my decade now. Welcome to my favorite time of life, dear friend, except for the having a high school junior part. It’s great to have a friend who has been with me through all the school years. I am thankful our daughters picked each other out that first month of school. I think Carter liked me having a young friend which you always I’ll be.

Back to Basketball


Tonight was the first game of the girls Varsity Basketball season. The familiar faces of fellow parent gathered in our center rows of the bleachers. Russ texted me that he was on his way and to save him a seat. That was not a difficult job since he he his choice of over five hundred empty seats.
A girls Wednesday night game at the beginning of the season is not a big draw, but it should have been. The team of eight returning players and three new girls played a beautiful game with a big 45 point first half. The team work was extraordinary especially for a team who has only had four real practices.  
The game ended with a 66 to 46 win for the Durham Academy girls. Carter contributed in her defensive way. One girl should have been more afraid of trying to take the ball from her and ended up throwing herself on the ground as Carter held tight to the ball while shaking the girl around. Only four fouls seemed like a good night for Carter. After the game she protested to me that the third foul should never have been called on her since the opponent actual bit Carter on the arm. I guess that is what could happen if you put your arm in her face.
I love basketball season even if it is nerve racking as a parent. I love cheering for the team. Seeing the great improvement in their skills and communication. I am thrilled that every girl got to play today. I was unsure of exactly how the chemistry was going to be since one of our best seniors is not playing this year. She committed today to run track for Dartmouth and does not want to risk any injury, which is understandable, but I miss her and her mother in the stands with us. 
Even without one of the best players the team came together is a nice way to start the season with a decisive win. I hope that the obvious improvement continues throughout the season. It’s nice to be back with the basketball family.

Sun At Last


For the whole month of November it has rained most everyday. It feels like it rained all day and night everyday. In the last ninety days we have gotten thirty percent more rain than usual. Now I am not complaining about rain because we have had droughts that are way worse, but I will say that ten days without sun has been tough.
The real problem with all this rain is that my princess puppy Shay Shay does not like to walk in the rain. She does not like the rain to fall on her back so I cover her with an umbrella to go to go potty. She does not like her paws to get wet, so we go out in the gravel driveway so she does not have to stand ankle deep in wet grass. Her “holding it” power is extraordinary. We put her leash on and drag her to the door where she stands hard and pulls back into the house as she sniffs the rain filled air.
This morning I woke up to hear the rain falling outside the window by my head. Shay was asleep snuggled up next to me. My stirring woke her. How dare I wake a sleeping baby. She lifted her drowsy head and listened to the rain. She gave me a big sigh and went right back to sleep knowing that she was not going anywhere as long as it was still raining.
But then later in the morning the rain stopped at last. I took Shay outside, but everything was still so wet she hardly would walk more than ten feet from the front door. Finally the sun made an appearance. So this afternoon I was able to convince the princess pup to walk with me to the post office.  
She danced in the sunlight like a creature who had been reborn. She peed and pooped with gusto. She pulled me along all the way to the post office as if she were a child going to mail a letter to Santa. She got home and passed out. The exertion after her ten day hibernation practically did her in. Please let the sun come out tomorrow. This dog needs it.

Where Did the Spinach Go?

Tonight I made. spinach for dinner. Since it is just me and Carter I thought that the big bag of baby spinach would be enough. I piled the whole thing in my biggest skillet and in less than a minute of turning it with tongs it was cooked. It might appear to be a magic trick because the over flowing pan of greens turned into a tiny pile that took up one eighth of the pan. I grated a little fresh nutmeg and salt and peppered it. It was tasty, but it was little.  
I know that frozen spinach is the deal of the century, but I really don’t like the big steamy chopped spinach unless I am putting it in a quiche or something similar like a soufflé. To just eat straight I really like baby spinach, but I am afraid my car is not big enough to bring home the raw amount needed.
I guess I could just eat spinach uncooked and then the one big bag would be enough for a meal, but I really don’t love the metallic taste I get in my mouth after chewing raw spinach. Also my teeth feel like they have been coated with some strange lacquer after eating it raw, but cooked never has that same effect.
I am not batting a thousand in my greens cooking this week, between my gritty Swiss chard and disappearing spinach. I am tired of green beans and broccoli and well asparagus has been good, except for the smell when I pee.
I guess I am searching for a brand new green vegetable. Not a starchy one like green peas or fava beans, but one that practically has a negative calorie count. I don’t really like celery, and artichokes are not really in season.
I eat enough arugula everyday at lunch to keep me regular. I just want enough green vegetables to fill two thirds of my dinner plate so I feel like I had an actual meal. The tiny pile of spinach did not fulfill the requirements tonight.

The Grit In Swiss Chard

I bought a beautiful bunch of rainbow Swiss chard at the market today. I was very excited about sautéing it up to have with some spicy lamb meatballs with red pepper sauce and cauliflower purée. Swiss chard is not something Russ normally eats and I was hoping to expand the list of acceptable green vegetables.
I unwrapped the giant dark green leaves with bright yellow or hot pink stems.i methodically washed each one and shook them dry. I pulled the tough stems away from the level and pulled the leaves on top of each other and rolled the piles into cigar like shapes before cutting them into ribbons.
The mistake I made was I should have put the ribbons in the salad spinner and run gallons more water through them, but I skipped that step. I sautéed the Swiss chard and when I took a big fork full the flavor was fantastic, but then as I chewed it I got the tiniest bit of grit between my teeth. Tragedy. There was no way to fix it. Russ was a good sport about it, but I am not sure that I have made any progress with expanding the green vegetable list.
Sautéed Swiss Chard
1 t. Olive oil

1 shallot minced

Big bunch of Swiss chard, well cleaned and stemmed and chopped

Juice of half a lemon
In a big skillet put the oils the shallot and cook on medium heat for one minute. Add the greens and cook turning it over with tongs for about five minutes until tender.  
Salt and squeeze juice over and serve.

The Life Skills List

Since before Russ and I got married we have had one TV show that we have religiously watched together, This Old House. Russ had been watching it since the beginning of time and brought me into the fold. It never fails to amaze the that even after watching almost 25 years of house renovations done by the TOH professionals I always learn something new. This huge base of home repair and renovation knowledge comes in handy again and again as I am redoing things in our old house.
Since all out furniture is gone out of our playroom being recovered I decided that yesterday and today would be good days to deep clean and seal our floors. It was not a hard job, but one that took time since I had to let areas dry before going on to the next step. As I was mindlessly rubbing floor conditioner into my heart pine floors I got to thinking that I should be teaching Carter how to do this. Of course she was at the barn cleaning out stalls while I was working at home. 
I started to make a list in my head of all the life skills I learned before I went off to college that I have not taught Carter how to do. When I was her age I already was a well practiced cook, could sew my own clothes, could drive the tractor and cut the grass, knew how to check the oil in my car, how to do my laundry and how to balance my check book.
Alas, I think I have done a terrible job as a mother by more or less cooking most meals. I know there are a few things Carter can make, but she really should not live off beautifully decorated birthday cakes. As far a sewing goes, I did give Carter a sewing machine one year, but she never caught the bug of designing and sewing any clothes for herself. Crafting also is not her thing, but I don’t consider that an essential life skill.
Since Carter has lived in a house with a yard service her whole life she has absolutely no idea how to take care of the outside space other than to make a phone call. Once in a while she comes out to talk to me when I am gardening, but has shown no interest in learning or helping for that matter. She did learn about getting her oil checked and changed during drivers ed, but so far I don’t think she has practiced it. Laundry was something I taught her about in sixth grade, but frankly until she goes to college I don’t think she is going to master. As for balancing a checkbook, well that is such an old fashioned idea it will never be necessary, but I should at least teach her how to read her credit card bill to ensure it is correct.
I’m fairly sure Carter is not going to have the time to learn home repair one half hour a week for twenty five years, but I do wish she had the knowledge. I guess with you tube videos now people get information on a demand basis and not in the learning for learning’s sake the way that I have.  
With all the specialized cable channels today I wish there was one just about basic growing up knowledge. Rather than having to watch the food network for cooking and hgtv for home shows it would be nice to have a channel that explained that you don’t have to throw shoes out if the heel is a little worn, but instead you can take them to the shoe repair man to get them reheeled, or how to sew a button on a shirt, or change the air filters in your house. The list of learning how to be a grown up is so long. I’m worried that Carter is spending so much time learning calculus and no time learning life. I cook everyday, but must admit I can’t remember the last time I used calculus.

Cheese Is Officially Addictive


 Last month a study came out announcing that cheese was more addictive than crack. Now for full disclosure I have never done crack, but I certainly believe this study to be true. If I am ever asked what my favorite food is cheese is probably at the top of the list. I could imagine being a vegetarian. One of my college off campus roommates was vegetarian me we ate plenty of cheese laden meals that made me very happy. But the idea of being a vegan is tantamount to cutting off my arm because of the no cheese in vegan world rule.  
Now in the healthy eating world cheese is considered a naughty food. Weight Watcher leaders around the country suggest people should eat a laughing cow wedge to satisfy their cheese cravings. Although one of those foil wrapped triangle may be only 30 calories I don’t think they should really be considered cheese, at least not the as-additive-as-crack type of cheese.
The crack type cheeses have at least one of two qualities, big flavor like Parmesan Reggiano or Stilton or ultra creaminess, like triple cream Brie or Burrata. The good thing about them is that even the smallest piece so fills your mouth with happiness that you can satisfy your cheese habit with one small bit a day. The addiction comes in that once you have discovered good cheese you want it everyday.
The crack/cheese study did not go far enough. I put forward the theory that this addiction is not limited solely to humans. Shay is equally addicted to cheese as I am. If I open the cheese drawer in the refrigerator she is quick to ensure she is standing right next to me in a wink. Shay is not a begging type dog, but is really good at giving me the guilt face if I am ever holding any cheese and not sharing it with her.

So to the scientists who are developing things to study, come up with something that is not so much a no-brainier as “cheese is more addictive than crack.” Actually, now that I think about it it was a brilliant way to get to eat as much cheese as you want, since it was for science. 

Evening of Appreciation

 Yesterday Carter and her Advisory went to do community service at the Food Bank. Coincidentally they were sorting apples from Dana, NC in the Dana Lange volunteer center. Huh, never knew there was a Dana, NC, but according to the map it is east of East Flat Rock which is east of Hendersonville and Henderson is my middle name. Oh the connections never end. Carter took all these connections to me in good humor which I appreciate.
She said that during the sorting someone asked her what in the world I had to do with the Food Bank and why was my picture on the wall. She told me she gave some vague answer and said she was not exactly sure. Board work is such a mystery, which it absolutely should not be.  
Anyway tonight I did one of those things for the Food Bank that is unknown to my child. I attended the Evening of Appreciation where we thank large donors and volunteers and honor partner agencies . When I go and meet the people who spend all their time serving the hungry I feel like the little bit of work I do is hardly enough.
Tonight I met a farmer and his wife who not only donate their surplus, but they grow squash, peppers, sweet potatoes and cabbage just to give to us. It is not the second hand food, or the food they could not sell, but crops grown and picked just for the Food Bank. That is incredibly generous and one of the things that makes me proud to be a North Carolinian.
I am happy to do work that is unexplainable and behind the scenes because I know that the people who are out front are doing a spectacular job helping ensure that no one goes hungry. So often people ask me why we need a food bank because it appears that we have so much food. Sadly this is a problem which is fairly hidden because it is just embarrassing to say you can’t afford food. In this season of giving thanks keep in mind that there are many people who will not have a big giant turkey or multiple pies. Don’t feel guilty that you have a nice meal, just be thankful.

Professionals Are Worth It



In my unplanned quest this year to redo, fix and upgrade parts of our house that we have lived in for 22 years I have now entered the largest phase, redo of the play room and breakfast room. I had no idea at the turn of the new year that I would fix the driveway, refinish the floors, and recover all the furniture, paint and spiff up the biggest room in the house.


The driveway had been plaguing us as with each larger and more ferocious storm more and more of our gravel would wash down the street making a treacherous gulley at the joint of the driveway and the road. So many times I had rolled our giant wheelbarrow with the one leaky tire down the street to shovel gravel from the storm drain and attempt to roll the flat-wheeled barrow up our long hill to fill in our driveway. Then one day I went to garden club and met a speaker who was sent from heaven to fix my driveway. It was easy, all I had to do was make a few decisions and write a check.


Then I went to get my floors done. I hired the best people I could find. Although I had a lot of work to prep the house the actual floor refinishing was perfect and when they turned my house back over to me there was not a spec of dust or a drip of varnish or whatever they covered the floors with anywhere. Paying was becoming favorite way to redo my house.


That brings me to my most recent project. To redo the playroom I had to get the electricians to replace all the ceiling lights, move the cable lines, add electrical outlets which involved getting our old faithful carpenter to remove baseboards and then replace them after the electrical work was done. Since the whole back of the house needed to be painted from the top of the fourteen-foot ceilings to the trim I hired my neighbor’s painters who they have been using for 27 years.


Five men and one woman dressed up as a man showed up at my house yesterday and in the last two days have painted everything with such precision that not a drop of paint is on the floor and the walls are as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Now I can paint and if you watch any DIY shows they always tell the homeowners to paint since it can save you a bunch of money to do it yourself.


But I can’t paint like these steady handed craftsmen from heaven and certainly not with the speed that they can. I also could not balance a ladder on one step while painting the crown molding fourteen feet up. Tomorrow is the last day when they are finishing up painting the kitchen ceiling and the few feet of kitchen walls. This is one check I will be happy to write. Paying to have this big job done so quickly and efficiently is worth every cent. I might be changing my cheep skate ways.

Thanksgiving Marketing Is Too Mouth Watering


So many people I know have started complaining about Christmas decorations and the like being out in stores already. My friend Nancy posted a photo on Facebook of what looks like a giant pallet of candy canes in the middle of a store already.  
To me it is not the Christmas that gets me, but the second that Halloween was over my inbox, news feed and seems like every show with the slightest relation to food began talking about the “Thanksgiving meal.” What sides are you preparing? Maybe soup this year is a good idea. How many different pies do you need? What if you don’t like pie? Pumpkin pie spice is good on everything.
I have gotten six different emails from Southern Living alone with photos of stuffing and homemade rolls. All this food marketing is killing me. I don’t need to plan my thanksgiving menu three weeks in advance. Hell, I don’t even get to plan the menu, that is up to my father. I just make what is assigned to me and quite frankly it really doesn’t vary that much from one year to the next. With Thanksgiving food being fairly standard fare I think the full out assault by Thanksgiving food stakeholders is over kill.
Really what would make the most sense to me is for the email and Internet campaigns to be about healthy recipes right now so we could eat all we want at Thanksgiving without so much guilt. This problem might be unique to me, but showing me pictures of stuffing makes me crave it now. I can’t tell you how many times I have made a turkey a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving just because the poultry marketers had gotten to me. This practically ruined Thanksgiving. Part of the joys of a turkey meal is that you really only have it once a year in the full blown pilgrim version.
I normally am not interested in green bean casserole. It was not part of my family tradition, but starting the day after Halloween with the Durkey fried onion ads now it is all I can think about. I’m not sure I have ever eaten a Durkey onion, but I have made homemade fried shallot rings as a garnish on a soup and they are something I could get hooked on, but I mustn’t.
I guess I am going to have to go into a media blackout until maybe the day before Thanksgiving. One days worth of mouth watering ads should be just the right amount to make me appreciate the traditional meal.  
The Christmas stuff doesn’t bother me so much because it is more about the decorations and the gifts and not the food. I can put up with Holiday music in stores, it does not make me fatter, but pumpkin spice everything is a killer.

Standard Eating Time and Eating Savings Time


Well the best night of the year came this weekend, when we all fell back into standard time and got an extra hour of sleep. That hour is really a short lived bonus to take our minds off the fact that we now are plunged into darkness much earlier in the afternoon. This year it was hard to tell since it has been dark and rainy ever since we reentered standard time.
Don’t get me wrong, as a professional sleeper I love an extra hour of sleep, my real issue is what the movement of the clock does to my stomach. I normally would love to eat dinner on the early side so when we fall back early does not even describe the hour that I want dinner. My stomach starts looking for supper around three o’clock which is not even in the “early bird” time zone for senior citizens at the K & W cafeteria.
This makes little sense since I slept longer and ate a later breakfast, had lunch a little later too, but something about the setting sun, or allusion of night coming makes me think, “time for dinner!” If this is what happens at standard time you would think that when we spring ahead into daylight savings time I might forget to eat. This is not a Disney fantasy movie and we are talking about me.  
But seriously, in the spring when we set the clocks forward you would think that I could change my dinner time from seven to eight since technically to my stomach that is the real time. No, when we spring forward I am hungry earlier too. What is the story?
Seems like any messing with my regular routine throws me into a tizzy where my body’s way of dealing with it is to increase my hunger level. Not good body. I have enough trouble with cravings and over eating. I wonder if there is a way I can live on one time all year and ignore changing the clocks? Unfortunately most of the clocks in my life are automated and changed themselves. Darn you Apple automation, you are making me hungrier.

Pork Report

This summer on a trip to Kinston to eat at the Chef and the Farmer Russ and I stopped at the Nahunta Pork Center with our friends Chuck and Karen. I had always been enticed by the bill boards on the highway touting “largest pork display.” Even though the giant pork store was a little off the route home the offerings did not disappoint me in their variety and price. I came home with a cooler full of unusual pork off go and put almost all of them in the freezer.
No matter what my good intentions are when I freeze food I am not that good about remembering I have it and thawing it in time to use it. Tonight had our old friends Lane and Jon for dinner. Since I was doing my menu planning on Saturday in time for Russ to go to the farmers market I had time to take one of my pork items out of the freezer and let it thaw in time to serve it tonight.
I had bought a fully cooked smoked park roast at Nahunta that ran something like $3.00 a pound. Since I usually buy smoked pork chops at the farmers market for something like $12 a pound I was very interested in the difference.  
When I opened the Nahunta product I was very impressed with how well packaged it was, as I unwrapped it from it’s three layers of plastic. I took out my butchers knife in preparation for cutting the roast into chops and was surprised to find that the cutting was almost completely done for me.  
I heated up a large cast iron skillet and lay the smoked chops in the pan to just heat them through and get a little browning on the side. I served the chops with a fig, dried cherry and pear chutney I made earlier in the day. I ate my pork unadulterated so I could judge the flavor of the meat on its own. I give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up. It was a hit at the dinner table. The price was hard to beat and it was not at all hurt by months in my freezer.
I think I may have to make a trip back to Nahunta to buy my Christmas presents. I guess I won’t be able to get my Jewish friends holiday gifts there. I wonder if there is a smoked fish outlet anywhere nearby?