Archive for October, 2010



Let The Blood-Letting Begin!

Friday, October 22nd, 2010



Vampires Get Nothing

From Me!!



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Not that I am calling nurses vampires. Really. I love nurses. And I absolutely know that there is no such thing as a vampire…however, might I please be allowed to whine anyway? I love the Psalms because the Psalms let us hear even the “Apple of God’s Eye” whine. They also let us know that God hears our whining and gives a new perspective. So first, I’ll whine and THEN I’ll give my new perspective.


As with most “women of the home” I have dealt with all manner of crises from skinned knees to a popcorn kernel stuck in an ear passage to the ingestion of Kaz vaporizer inhalant and the subsequent stomach pumping. I have pulled calves, lambs and foals and stood by the vet at a C-Section of a struggling cow. God made women tough old birds, but I have to say, even birds squawk once in awhile.


Today, I took time off from all things Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ and traveled to our doctor’s office, 45 minutes away, to be there by 8 am. Since I was simply going to make a monthly donation of some of my precious and hard earned blood for lab work, I didn’t eat breakfast, but drank water by the gallons. I have tiny, tiny, deep, deep veins and so giving blood means a preparation of prayer, jumping jacks, running around the building, walking up three flights of stairs and drinking water until it trickles out of my ears like a mountain spring. (Of course, I have every available bathroom along the route to the doctor mapped out and timed.) And when I arrive at the office, I ask to have my arm wrapped with a hot pack while I wait, which immediately gives whatever nurse is doing the sticking that day, a look of terror and the sudden recognition of, “Oh no. It’s her!”


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Such was the case today, and when the nurse finally called me back, trying to embrace the peace of the Lord, I skipped lightly to the Dracula seat, plopped down, grinned and said, “Hi! How are you?” The nurse did not respond or smile but, without a word, choked off the circulation in my arm with a rubber band. She finally said, “You’re here for a CBC, right?” Uh. No. I wasn’t there for a CBC – just thyroid. No, the nurse was sure I was there for a CBC. But I wasn’t, I assured her. “Are you Mary so-and-so?” “No. I’m not Mary so-and-so.” “Well, I need Mary so-and-so.” So I went back into the waiting room and told Mary-so-and-so that she was next in line for torture, not me. Mary So-And-So bounced in and bounced out in what seemed like 10 seconds. She waved me in as the next victim with a smile and a wave and all I could think was that it wasn’t fair.


Back in the same chair and cinched with the same rubber band while gripping a green ball shaped like a heart – (I suppose that’s to give the patient the impression of squeezing his own green heart to make the blood come out faster?) – I endured the smacking, tapping and poking on my arm that I knew would result in the question, “Is your other arm any better?” To which I always answer, “No” at which point the rubber band is removed and placed on the other arm, anyway. With another smack, tap and poke comes the comment, “You’re right. This one isn’t any better.”


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The nurse felt of the inside of my arm and said, “Is your other arm any better?” I told her, “No”. She took off the band and transferred it to my other arm and poked around and sighed, “You’re right.” But then, worst of all fears, she stated, “But we’re going to try it anyway.” I froze. I looked away as she put the needle in and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t hurt. She was just fooling with me, though. She hadn’t hit anything, but was just going to find it once the needle was in. I gritted my teeth and squished my eyes closed. She mumbled something about just getting drip by drip. All of a sudden, a pain shot up and down my arm that I can only assume was caused by a blow torch that the nurse had hidden under her blouse ready for use the minute I turned my head. I let out a loud yelp and then “Oh! Oh! Oh!” to which she cried, “What? What? What?” She frantically gulped, “This has never happened to me before! I’m trying to get the needle out!” and of course, I’m gulping too – big gulps of air to keep from passing out.


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Shaking from head to toe, from lack of food and what I considered at the time to be excessive stress, I tried very hard to look calm, composed and totally oblivious to the embarrassing squeals that I knew had escaped my lips. I knew this because the waiting room, which had been full, had suddenly cleared. Evidently, everyone had decided they really didn’t need lab tests after all. I feel bad about that, but I think after me, the nurse needed a day off anyway.


And so, I wobbled – no – staggered to my car, crawled in and lay my head on the steering wheel, arm still pounding. It was tightly wrapped with gauze and tape but that did not hide the large blue bruise that was forming, giving me the appearance of a drug addict. I made the 45 minute drive home – after a stop at McDonald’s – yes, McDonald’s – don’t say a word.


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Actually, I am most thankful to the Lord that the worst of my problems are veins the diameter of vermicelli. There are so many people who suffer daily from all manner of infirmities and pain, of whom we need to be aware and for whom we need to be praying, so it is with gratefulness that I can laugh in fun at my silly trial. God has been gracious. However, I will say that I have made a decision as a result of this ordeal. From now on, I am subscribing to the medieval method of leeches for extracting blood. Just stick those suckers on me and it’s up to the professionals to figure out how to get my blood out of them!!

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A Spider At Work

Thursday, October 21st, 2010


It Really Is Fall




Today I saw one of those miracles that reminds me how perfectly the creation works itself out. God truly made something so spectacular that it is just awe inspiring. It is Fall and all of those things that have to happen at this time of year, happen all by themselves!


Today, I watched as a spider – and I’m talkin’ BIG spider – made a web all the way from one tree to another by swinging on a gossimer strand like an acrobatic Errol Flynn on a chandelier. Every Fall, including in the book Charlotte’s Web, these big spiders weave their artwork and lay their eggs.


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It just let itself be carried by the wind
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What Gravity??
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I know it looks suspended in space. Pretty cool even if it IS a spider.

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Makin’ Smoothies

Friday, October 15th, 2010




Real Smooth



As a homemaker, there is nothing more fun than getting inventive, inspired by some tidbit of food leftover and useless for anything major. When a great concoction is created and the family smacks their lips in appreciation, the homemaker feels that all is right with the world.


Such was the case tonight as I noticed a fruit fly winging its way around and around a lone banana left ripening on the counter top. It was pretty ripe and would have been useful for banana bread had it been one of three bananas, but alas, it was alone. What does one do with one banana in a short time? What else? Make a smoothie.

Smoothies are so easy and quick. And they are great at any time of the year. They are also healthy, especially when made with yogurt. Any fruit combination can be used and any yogurt flavor can be used. I use frozen fruit as much as possible to make it colder and thicker. My favorite is as follows and used that lone banana:


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1 banana
1 thick slice of fresh pineapple, frozen
1 cup frozen, sliced strawberries
1 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

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In a blender, partially blend fruit and orange juice.

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Add yogurt and blend on high until smooth and creamy. I am using homemade vanilla yogurt here.

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Pour into cups and serve with a straw. Yummy cold and smooth and creamy.

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Belgian Waffles

Monday, October 11th, 2010








♪♪I’m Stuck On You♪♪





Of course, with any new-fangled idea, there were bugs, the major one being that when the cook used one of these pans, what looked like bugs appeared in the scrambled eggs or the white gravy, due to flakes of the nonstick surface loosening. Small sheets of Teflon® floated in the cooking food and small, shiny hints of the base metal were exposed. If you were the least bit paranoid, you worried that your family was ingesting some poisonous substance that the government had invented to get rid of half of the population to save the planet. If you weren’t paranoid, you surmised that maybe Teflon® wasn’t such a great invention after all.

Then came the nonstick surface that was co-mingled with the base metal of the cooking utensil. That was better. I think that T-Fal® was one of the first. It worked pretty well, but we quickly figured out that nonstick didn’t really mean, NONSTICK. It just meant “not-as-likely-to-stick-especially-if-you-use-oil-to-coat-the-pan-like-you-did-for-your-old-pans-that-were-not-nonstick.” I had a whole set of T-Fal® and still have a few cookie sheets, but while they were the “thing” in the ‘70’s, as I became more and more entrenched in the kitchen, I gravitated back to my perfectly seasoned, cast iron skillets and wonderful three-ply bottomed, heavy-weight, stainless steel pots and pans. Wouldn’t trade them for the world.


It is with this background of wisdom that I should ask myself, “What were you thinking?” because, recently, I couldn’t resist the purchase of a nonstick surfaced Belgian waffle maker that was on sale. Actually, another waffle iron was on sale, but the store was out and because I had such a pained expression on my face and the manager probably thought that my gray hair indicated that I might be hard to get along with, I was handed a more expensive, with more gadgets, Belgian waffle iron at the sale price. It had a timer that beeped!


I took my prize home, predictably thrilled at beating the system of sales, and quickly unboxed it to prepare for the next day’s breakfast surprise for Hubby – waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream. I read the directions for the batter – easy enough – decided on how I was going to change it (added vanilla) because it isn’t in my nature to just follow directions, and made sure that I had all ingredients required. I got up the next morning, whipped up the batter in a matter of minutes, heated the waffle iron until the light went out and carefully measured ¼ cup of batter into each section. Closing the lid, I flipped the whole assembly on the stand, over to the opposite side as per the directions. Steam gushed from the seam of the surfaces and a wonderful sizzling sound let me know that breakfast was on its way. The timer automatically began its countdown.


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At the ear-piercing shriek of the waffle siren, I jumped out of my skin and rushed to flip the waffle iron back to the other side of the stand. I gently lifted the lid – well – attempted to lift the lid, but nothing separated. I got a plastic fork and slipped it between the layers of metal to carefully pry them apart but nothing budged. But it’s a nonstick surface! The box said so…. no oil needed. It’s 2010! It’s new and improved! I flipped it back to the other side and tried gently pulling the sections apart. No dice. I turned it over to its original position and thought, “Maybe I’m not pulling hard enough.” I gave it a hard tug and jerked the top lid off of the bottom surface. One half of the waffle traveled with the lid and the other half stayed on the bottom.


Now you know that you are NOT to use ANY metal utensils on nonstick cookware. Plastic only. And so, I took the plastic fork and carefully slid it under the top half of the waffle. Fully expecting for the waffle to lift off the surface, I was sorely disappointed. The tines of the fork slipped through the cooked dough, and succeeded only in removing a couple of chunks. I tried a different location with the same results. At this point, I was frustrated and I started digging at the center of the mess. Some of the pastry lifted out of the multiple indentions, but the majority remained adhered to this “nonstick” epitome of false advertising. The tines on the fork broke.


Of course, it never occurred to me, at the time of purchase, to see if the two cooking surfaces could be removed for easy cleaning. And of course they could not be removed. They opened into a gigantic “L” with teeth, every tooth encrusted with waffle plaque. The lettering on the base cautioned, “DO NOT IMMERSE”. Why would I need to immerse it?? It is nonstick, for crying out loud! My only recourse was to concentrate on one surface at a time, digging out as much of the now rock-hard waffle as possible. I poured hot water just to the batter level to soak and finally washed with a brush, repeating the process for the other side. This took most of the morning. Did I mention that my husband ate cereal that day?


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Yes, all of the labor saving brilliance that is dangled before us cooks have obviously been created by inventors who never really watched the process of food preparation and cleanup, let alone attempted it themselves. However, I will say that one such item HAS put its comrades to shame, as it has proved to perform in exactly the way it was intended. It has made available for my dear husband, the Belgian waffles that he loves, baked on the aforementioned, offending waffle maker. This product states on its label, “no stick, fat free, cholesterol free, calorie free, sodium free, naturally clear”…Yep. It’s spray olive oil in a can and it works like a charm. Who would have ever thought of putting oil on the surface of a cooking utensil to keep food from sticking? What will they think of next??





My Belgian Waffles


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sweetener (honey, sugar, splenda, etc.)
1 3/4 milk (2%, whole, skim)
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Possible additions:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans



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Mix all dry ingredients in a batter bowl or large mixing bowl



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Separate eggs and set aside to whip. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and oil




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Add mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until batter is formed. It will be thin



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Whip egg whites until white and fluffy and fold into batter.



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Pour batter into oiledwaffle maker and cook according to directions.

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Pile chopped and sweetened fruit on top of buttered waffle and add syrup and whipped cream if you really want to go the max. We fix these for supper too!

Happy Cooking!! MB

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Quick Tips Corner

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010


A Quick Bit of Useful Info



ImageHost.org

Those of you who follow the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ way of doing things, either coupon, buy in bulk or grow in bulk. That always presents the problem of “where do I put it??” Big freezers are a must and we tend to stick everything we can into them. There is a great article on Yahoo that gives specifics on safely freezing food and how long to keep it. Just a tidbit follows:
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“Here is a guide to how long you can freeze foods before you sacrifice quality. Keep in mind that quality does deteriorate the longer food sits in your freezer, so aim to defrost sooner rather than later.

  • Bacon:1 to 2 months
  • Breads: 2 to 3 months
  • Casseroles:2 to 3 months
  • Cooked beef and pork: 2 to 3 months
  • Cooked poultry: 4 months
  • Cookie dough:3 months
  • Fruit: 8 to 12 months
  • Frozen dinners: 3 to 4 months
  • Hot dogs: 1 to 2 months
  • Lunch meats: 1 to 2 months
  • Sausage:1 to 2 months
  • Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months
  • Uncooked chicken (parts): 9 months
  • Uncooked chicken (whole): 1 year
  • Uncooked steaks, chops, or roasts: 4 to 12 months
  • Uncooked ground meat: 3 to 4 months
  • Vegetables:8 to 12 months”

 

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Just remember that freezers do go down – that happened to us just a few weeks ago to a brand new freezer!! – and so it is a REALLY good idea to know how to can your food. Canned foods last much longer and if disaster happens, like a dead freezer, though it may take a monumental effort, you can save just about everything by canning it, meats included.
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Sweet Cornbread

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

A Corny Treat



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In answer to a request by reader, Marcie, here is my recipe for cornbread that I have used for years and years. I love it because it has just a tad bit of “sweet” to it, it is firm and is just tasty. The trick to it, though, is the pan I use. You can find these pans at hardware stores, Bass Pro Shop and I have even seen them at Walmart. A new skillet must be “seasoned” before use – wiped with a thick coat of cooking oil and baked upside down on a cookie sheet in a 350º preheated oven for 1 hour. This should be repeated often after cooking, until the surface becomes nonstick. If you want to go the “authentic” route, you can look in antique stores. I have two of these cornbread pans. One was my grandmother’s and the other was found at a junk shop.


These cast iron skillets have dividers to make 8 pieces of cornbread. The secret to baking amazing cornbread in them is to put shortening in the bottom of each section and to place the pan in a 450º oven to melt the shortening. Have the cornbread batter ready when the skillet is removed from the oven and then pour the battle into the piping hot pan to fill each section 1/2 to 2/3 full. The batter will sizzle and bubble. Of course, you can do this same process with a regular cast iron skillet, and then slice your bread yourself. Melted shortening in the cast iron skillet also helps to keep it seasoned for the next batch. To wash the pan, just wipe out with a paper towel or damp cloth and let air dry.

Cornbread Recipe
1 cup all purpose flour or pastry flour
1 cup plain white or yellow corn meal (not the mix)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar or honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup shortening or butter
1 cup milk
Directions
In a bowl, add flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt and sugar (if using honey add in with milk and eggs) and cut in shortening or butter with a pastry blender or two knives. Make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and eggs and honey if using instead of sugar. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a large spoon until a batter is formed. Lumps are no problem. Immediately pour batter into hot iron skillet and bake in a 450º oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Do not add the liquid ingredients to your mix until you are able to immediately put the batter in the pan. The baking powder starts acting immediately on the addition of the liquids. Lift out sectioned pieces with a knife or, if using a plain cast iron skillet, invert onto a rack and then onto a plate and allow to cool before slicing. Serve warm or cold.


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Batter is the thickness of pancake batter





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A divided cast iron skillet makes the best cornbread!



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Get out the butter and jam and dig in! Goes great with the soup in the last post!






Happy Cooking! MB



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