TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS TREES

Some of us toss out the living room Christmas tree on December 26th, because it’s been up since Thanksgiving Day. Christmas Day begins the 12 days of Christmas, a celebration that ends on January 6th with the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus’s birthplace. You can make variations of the Christmas tree with pancakes and eat them for supper or breakfast.

Make them with whole wheat flour and get the whole grain benefits. Cornie’s BASIC PANCAKE RECIPE is at the link below. SparkRecipes requires a free account to login, but it gets you access to a recipe calculator. This is a handy tool you can use to input your own recipes and figure the calories, carbs, and protein figures of your meals.

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2829882

In the new year, we can be more conscious of our health by knowing what we eat and how it affects our health. I reworked my traditional family recipes to cut the fat, salt, and carbohydrates so I could avoid the diabetes which runs in my family. This isn’t something a person can do cold turkey or make the change all at once, but by cutting back these three things a little at a time over a period of a year, my tastebuds adjusted to the new normal.

Best wishes for the days to come! Better health for all of us!

Love, Cornie

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Christmas Baking for Emotional Eaters

I’m in Christmas cooking mode for the holidays in Cornie’s Kitchen for the month of December. Some of my favorite people who stop by for a visit might be drawn by some wonderful and enticing smells emanating from the door of my cozy condo home.

My mother was always baking at Christmas time, as was her mother before her. I never was in my great grandmother’s home at Christmas, or I was too young to recall her traditions. I do know she had an old cast iron wood fired stove. She must have had some skills to keep an even temperature for baking her homemade breads and cookies.

One of my earliest childhood memories at Christmas time is my mother in her bathrobe racing out of the little wood frame home in which we lived before my youngest brother was born. She was holding the foil wrapped fruitcakes in her hands and shouting for my daddy, who was backing up the brand new shining brown Pontiac as he was headed off to work.

Over the years, the fruit cake became cookies with candied fruits and brandy, for they knew more people to “gift” at Christmas time. Everyone needs a little something to know you care about them, now and then.

A homemade treat is the best, for you can expend your energies and anxieties in the working of the ingredients. As you smell and touch the different items which go into the treat, the part of your need to consume is already being sated by these sensations.

As you mix by hand—and I’m old school, I don’t use a blender or processor—you use up calories. If we are PWO (persons with obesity) we need to use all the energy we can. Also, doing this by hand gives us an immediate and direct connection with the food we’re making. We’ll feel the textures, the densities, and the thickness or thinness of our product. We’ll have a “feel for it.”

Could you make this quicker if you used electric tools? Yes. Would you lose the meditative opportunity to become “one with the food?” Also yes. I also think you’d be tempted to eat much more of the food if made more quickly, for slow food sates the emotional needs we have which cause us to overeat beyond what is necessary. As we wait for the the appropriate smell to waft from the oven, or the timer to go off to let us know the candy has chilled in the icebox, we can clean up the kitchen or have a little time to put our feet up with a cup of our kitchen’s best. Or maybe both. We shouldn’t work too hard after all.

When the goodies are ready, we divide them up, but there’s alway a few irregular ones, a little too imperfect to gift away. These will eat just as good, even if they don’t look so good. For quality control reasons, at Cornie’s Kitchen, I eat the broken ones, always remembering portion control. After cooking and cleaning, I find I don’t need all that many. If we know the effort our food takes, this might be the best argument for portion control yet.

Let’s cook more often, and take out less. We could practice “Life by Fork” instead of “Death by Fork.”

Love, Cornie

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Leftovers For Cinderella

EGGPLANT SOUP

I ate the traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a family setting Thursday, along with slivers of pies. The pot roast I made earlier got recycled as soup for two days after Thanksgiving. I had baked chicken with leftover carnival squash and roasted eggplant for dinner one night.

You can see the eggplant in the first soup bowl. I added some spinach and mushrooms to the potato and beef soup just to jazz it up and make it different from the asparagus and broccoli variation of the day before, which is below.

For Sunday breakfast I had French toast. I use vanilla, cinnamon, and 2 eggs with Dave’s killer bread. In a hot skillet, I pot 1 Tbs. sweet butter and cook the soaked bread slices until they’re golden brown. Then I add 1Tbs of maple syrup over the top. Using the real thing means I don’t need a lot, and often have some left over.

These are easy meals. I used the microwave to hasten the potato’s cooking to doneness, as also the asparagus stems. When you cook ahead, you have a quick dinner to make on another evening. It looks fresh by adding different veggies.

As we wind down this old year, time will compress, but obligations will mount up. We’ll be trying to squeeze a size ten foot into a size six shoe. It won’t work. We aren’t Cinderella! Take your list and chop it in half. Just do it. Spend more time being good to the ones you love. Spend less money on them. Enjoy each other’s company.

Joy and Peace, Cornie

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PUT THE FROZEN TURKEY IN THE ICEBOX NOW

Today is Sunday. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Yep, we’re on a marathon dash toward the great family feast. The matriarch of the family always hosts this grand dinner where I come from. When I was a child, we ate at two groaning tables, since both Mom and Dad had parents living in town. Later on, The dinner duties passed to our home as the older generation went to their eternal home.

I can remember Mother often underestimated the size of the turkey, or she was chasing us kids around in a vain attempt to organize our school, sport, hobby, and social lives. It never happened, since we all had too many activities and interests for all our ducks to ever get in a row. Adding a turkey to the row was most likely a lost cause. Most Wednesday mornings would find her flooding the still crystallized turkey with cold water in a freshly cleaned sink.

This water bath would go on until we went to school. I never knew what she did with it while I was away from home. I guess that belongs to the secret wisdom now lost to the Mysteries of the Past. I do know when I was a young wife, I used to call her every November to ask, “How do you cook the turkey in the paper sack again?”

Every year she would reply, “You ninny, I never cook the turkey in a paper bag! That’s toxic!” I’m certain I have the memory of her rubbing the bird down with oil, wrestling it into a giant grocery sack, and tying the opening with string. “You don’t? Well, how do I cook it again?” Yes, I did own a cookbook, but I’d rather talk to my Mother. Having the turkey cooked the traditional way, as my family always has cooked it, was important, especially if we weren’t together.

Today, as our generations are more separated, as takeout and convenience foods become more common, and as industrial and processed foods are more predominant in family food plans, many people may choose to eat out for Thanksgiving. For those who don’t have an older or more experienced cook in the family to call for help, be glad for those of us who have a calling to pass on this “secret, gnostic knowledge, known only to a few.”

If your frozen turkey is the average 15 pound bird, it should go into the refrigerator today. I used an online calculator to determine how long to defrost safely in the ice box. It takes 3 days and 18 hours.

Don’t defrost on the kitchen counter due to salmonella poisoning danger, since the outside will be warmer than the frozen interior. Likewise, trying to rush it under water won’t work, since the inside won’t get completely defrosted. Then it won’t fully cook, or the outer bird will get over cooked and dry.

The cross stitch above is perfect for Thanksgiving week. If you go to Facebook and look for my Cornie’s Kitchen Page, I have a Post for a list of things to do for Thanksgiving. After the rush is over, you can have your nervous breakdown, if you think you still deserve it. Or you might be so organized, you sail through it. My advice is to do half of what you think is important. Most people think the people and the togetherness make the best memories, not the baking, the cleaning, the polishing, or the froo-frooing. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and save room for pie!

Love, Cornie

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Working Like Ben-Hur

Good Monday Morning! Time for another cup of coffee—let’s take on this week like Ben-Hur overcame all all odds! We can do this!

I’m to be in many places this week so I’ve only got two days to do my “real callings” or what the employed world calls “work.”

We can work, but not get remuneration. This is the case for many homemakers. People who lose their spouses suddenly discover how expensive it is to hire someone to provide those domestic duties. I sold a pile of life insurance on non working spouses just by giving the facts.

Those who fix up the homes in which they live, or do their own yard work, also aren’t paid, but they aren’t spending money to hire others either. I’ve always hired the yard work, and done my housework, since I figure I can do one or the other, but not both. I’d rather not sweat, and I’m willing to pay someone to do that for me!

I’ve always considered my creative endeavors my real work, and whatever I did to put food on my table and a roof over my head was just a means to an end. Likewise in my ministry days, my real work was to preach, teach, love, and touch the Body of Christ wherever I found it. The other tasks of the elder appointed to the charge or church were secondary. I often had to set priorities to do the work of Christ first and the work of the church second.

On a Monday morning, think about Ben-Hur: how did he survive his captivity? It was longer than a Monday for sure. He trusted God. We can do this too. Get your priorities straight.

Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;

incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge,

a strong fortress, to save me,

for you are my rock and my fortress.

~~Psalms 71:1-3

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NATIONAL OATMEAL DAY

Today the early morning light came flooding into my condo, spotlighting my homage to National Oatmeal Day. I made old fashioned oatmeal on the stove, with cocoa, protein powder, instant milk, sliced almonds, and blueberries. I rarely eat this comfort food anymore due to the high carbohydrate content and the shock to my pancreas. I have insulin resistance, so 78 grams of carbs in one meal is a splurge.

Recommended carbohydrate allowances for a meal are usually 30 grams at a sitting for most people, but others may have more stringent requirements.

Why do we not want to eat our daily carb allotment all in one sitting? Ask yourself, would you want to do 12 hours of work in 3 hours, or would you like to have it come to you more slowly and on an even pace?

If your pancreas could speak, it would scream, “Don’t Be Stuffing an entire day’s worth of food down your gullet and expect me to handle it well! Something’s gonna give!”

A wise person plans their food for the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a morning and evening snack. If we had 30 grams of carbs at each meal and 15 carbs at each of the two snacks, we’d have a total day of 120 carbohydrate grams. We still have 30 grams to play with during the day or forget them.

Learn to read the nutrition information on the foods you buy. You can google these for fruits and veggies. Once you get practiced in this task, it’ll be second nature. Don’t worry if you don’t hit the number you aim for each day. The point is to be mindful about our eating and to make better choices.

This also prepares us for the stresses of holiday eating. If we acquire new, mindful habits now, we’ll not feel so sick and overwhelmed come a month from now when the rest of America enters the overstuffed holiday eating contest.

Posted in Comfort food, emotional eating, Food, Holidays, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, Nutrition guide, Prediabetes, thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Pumpkin Pie Day Extravaganza!

Today I’m eating homemade pumpkin pie, made completely from scratch. I’m also recuperating from a heart catheterization, which I had at some zero dark thirty hour yesterday. Since I was instructed to “take it easy,” I thought a little pie extravaganza was in order. If I can’t go Wild in real life, at least I can have some Fun in the kitchen.

First I made the pie crust with whole wheat flour and real butter. This was the first recipe to call for ice water to bind up the dough. I put the rolled out crust in the refrigerator while I made the filling also. Keeping it cool made a difference. It was quite flaky, and not a bit soggy.

I took a cheesecake recipe and melded it with a pumpkin pie recipe because I had extra ricotta I needed to use up before it went bad. Although the container said it was good until January 13, 2018, I didn’t trust this, since it’d been open in my refrigerator for two weeks already. For the pie, I used 4 servings of pumpkin (85 grams each), 4 servings of ricotta (62 grams each), 2 large eggs, 1 1/2 Tbs vanilla, 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice, 3 Tbs Splenda, and whatever spices were on the leftover pumpkin.

As I was making the filling, I preheated the oven to 425 F.

I used the skin and all, making sure to chop the whole fine, mixing the ricotta well, and then beating the eggs into the whole. Then I added the spice and Splenda and mixed again, before pouring into the chilled pie shell. Once I smoothed over the filling, I weighed out 8 servings of Nestle’s chocolate morsels (112 grams) to spread over the top of the pie.

Then I placed the pie into the 425 F oven, and turned it down to 350 F. It cooked for 40 minutes, at which time a toothpick inserted into the Middle came out clean. I set it on a cooling rack for about ten minutes to setup and finish cooking as it cooled.Then I cut it into 8 equal pieces.

You could also make this with baked sweet potatoes, acorn squash, or canned pumpkin. If you didn’t have mild tasting ricotta cheese, you could use cottage cheese and adjust your spices. You could also blend the ingredients a tad more to get the texture smoother too.

Some of you might rather melt your chocolate topping and drizzle it in a design, but I like biting into the chunks of chocolate myself. To each his own. It’s your kitchen. You go for it! I like the contrasts of tastes. For instance, the pastry uses coarse sea salt, so every once in a while, a salty surprise explodes in your mouth unexpectedly. It’s like finding the baby Jesus in a Mardi Gras King Cake.

This is the joy of home cooking, and our loss when we depend on industrialized and mass processed foods. Even if we can’t cook from scratch daily, this is a skill we should acquire so we can appreciate the craft of those who cook for us and produce our food.

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