Kitchen Experiments 

When I was a child, I had a science kit. My parents trusted me not to blow up the backyard carport or lose a digit in the process, but I don’t remember them supervising my experiments. In fact, once we children went outside, we were on our own, but I did live back in the late Stone Age. Even I watched my daughter when she was out and about nearly three decades ago. 

I had a deep sense of curiosity, which my parents nourished. As a result, I’ve never been afraid to try something new, to learn things outside of my comfort zone, or to stretch my boundaries beyond the familiar. This includes meeting new people. I’ve always figured a stranger was just a new best friend you haven’t met yet. And yes, I’ve met a few weirdos doing this, but I’ve also met some really neat folks also. 

Encouraging a sense of adventure keeps us young. This may be the attraction of the many meal in a box delivery services offered today. They decide the menu, find the spices and ingredients, get it to your door, and all the cook at home has to do is follow the directions. I like to go to my local grocery, find the seasonal foods, or clean out the remaining foods in my fridge, and see what I can create with them. I consider this a challenge, as if I were on a desert island with limited resources. What could I do with what I have? 

In a sense, all Kitchen experiments are science projects at heart, for all foods have unique properties: heat, time, salt, fat, and moisture all affect the taste and texture of the ingredients and the concoction. Change one and the others change also. Sometimes we add salt at the end of cooking so the food doesn’t toughen up or dry out. Only experience teaches this, for our tendency would be to dump in all our spices at once. After all, we want to taste test along the way. 

An interesting book, SUGAR SALT FAT, by Michael Moss, outlines the science behind the processed food industry. By concentrating fat, salt and sugar in products formulated for maximum “bliss,” Big Food has spent almost a century distorting the American diet in favor of calorie-dense products whose consumption pattern has been mirrored by the calamitous rise in obesity rates. Entire food categories were invented to support this strategy. This is why Resturant meals often have an entire day’s worth of calories and sodium packed into one serving and Lunchable meals (aimed at children) have over 800 mg of sodium each, an amount far too high for little bodies to consume. 

To eat healthy, many of us choose to eat at home instead, for we can experiment with different food combinations and make choices based on our own health needs. I always limit the salt and carbohydrates, due to blood pressure and glucose resistance. This same dish in a restaurant would be drowning in olive oil and much heavier with cheese. Most likely it would also have a grain pasta with it, so the serving size would be both smaller and more calorie dense. It would be off the menu for most people like me. 

The truth is, we can experiment with our recipes, but experiments with our health isn’t a good idea. Folks who overindulge with carbs or salt can damage their bodies. Retaining fluid is a sign of too much salt, such as around the ankles. Yeast infections can be a sign of too many carbs. Eating healthy is a better choice than eating poorly, even if someone else is cooking or cleaning up for you. If this is a novel adventure, step out and try it! 

You might want to try a Vegetable Lasagna, from Cornie’s Kitchen: Squash Lasagna. 

The registration is free, and the site is free. I hope you enjoy it!

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=3272393

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LIVING ON VACATION TIME ALL THE TIME

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Got home from vacation late last night or early this morning, if one has to be exact about the time. My military pals call it “0 dark 30″…an indefinite time at which no self respecting human being should be awake, but when the trumpet sounds, those who serve leap to the ready. My only ready at that time was for my very welcome bed!

Now I am lazing about, having laid waste a pot of home brewed coffee and a bowl of Chobani Greek yogurt with peanut butter, strawberries, cocoa, and muscle tech powder. I may get to the laundry today, or I may just sort the mail and go out to eat with friends.

Let’s not get back into real life too quickly. On vacations we take the time to watch the sky, to notice the play of light and shadows across the ground. We take photos of this beauty, but we don’t take photos of the equally beautiful sunsets of our everyday lives. These days remain unmarked for their uniqueness, for our eyes are fixed on our to do lists, our computers, our work surfaces, or whatever is our daily grind.

Take the time to look up. Pause and breathe for a moment. Give thanks for the day. There will not be another one like it. This was a gift: we call it the present. These moments are beautiful and transitory, as are our breaths.

Pause. Breathe. Give. Thanks. Be.

I Want a Four Day Weekend

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Back to the old grind. Even for those of us who no longer work for THE MAN or who no longer answer to any BOSS LADY but ourselves, we still have to get up and get on with our day. For one thing, the body still has its old habits ingrained from many years of punching that clock or showing up at the appointed hour with the four bucks still steaming in our hand. Our brains may not yet be unfogged, but our bodies are present and accounted for in the place they ought to be. Where once we hit the snooze button more than once, loathe to exit the comfortable covers, now we bound with energy out of the same bed. What a gift is that blessing we call retirement.

Of course, one doesn’t make the same income as during the glory days of one’s working years, but then one doesn’t seek to live in the same life style either. I know some who do: folks with big houses on the lake, new cars, and the outward trappings of wealth. These are the same who get their hair cut at the beauty school, never travel and can’t be generous to their church. I also know others who live in small spaces, either in town or lakeside condos, who drive old cars and who can do, go and give to their hearts content. There is something to be said for this simple life.

Making bread is one of those simple pleasures. Once upon a time, families only ate bread that was homemade. We have given that art away to processors, so that our end product has suffered. If we made this bread in huge batches, day after day and year after year, our appreciation of its uniqueness might wane. Yet if we bring our best self to the work with joy and anticipation for the unknown outcome of the mysterious chemical interactions of honey, yeast, water, salt, flour, herbs and heat, we will enjoy the fruits of our labor so much more than someone who just plucks a loaf off a shelf in a grocery store. The same goes for any endeavor. It doesn’t make the adding up of my expense lists for my accountant any easier, but is I can reward myself with a great treat from the oven, my agony just might be worth it.

The recipe for Italian Rustic Herb Bread :
To the following recipe add: 2 Tbs fresh chopped dill, 2 Tbs Rosemary & Italian herb mix, 1Tbs Garlic. Follow directions for recipe kneading, rising, baking.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=2562276