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Expect Wrinkles! November 29, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Life Balance.
29 comments

While discussing the holidays with a fellow bridge player, she mentioned that she used to spend four hours (4!!!) ironing her tablecloth for Thanksgiving (and other Holiday meals).

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“Yowsa!  What took so long?”

“To keep it off the floor, I had to drape it over the backs of chairs.  As I ironed one section, another section got wrinkled.”

“Gotcha.  I gotta say that I do NOT have that type of attention to detail when setting the stage for the Thanksgiving feast.”

“You don’t?”

“Nope.  I just accept that there will be wrinkles.”

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Notice how smiles around the table make the wrinkles disappear?

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If you come to my house for a holiday meal, expect wrinkles . . . and smiles!

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

Here Comes The Bride November 7, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Home & Garden, People.
28 comments

I attended a bridal shower for my niece on Saturday.

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One of the games involved designing wedding gowns for a willing member of each team.

Team A got off to a terrific start using the only material provided . . .

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Rolls of cheap toilet paper . . .

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Racing against the clock, Team B took an entirely different approach to the challenge.

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Team C won the prize for chugging out of the station with the best train and bouquet.

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But the shower wasn’t all fun and games.

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The Bride-To-Be opened her shower gifts . . .

None of which had a thing to do with rain showers, summer showers, April showers, or taking a shower.

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After presents, she said, “Let them eat CAKE!”

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Chocolate cake.

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Accompanied by chocolate covered strawberries.

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And cups of chocolate mousse.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

 

 

Valerie Bertinelli’s LOL Martini October 27, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Vegetarian Recipes.
22 comments

Valerie Bertinelli has a cooking show.

On a recent show, she blanched broccoli florets and matchstick carrots, dropped them into an ice bath to keep the colors vibrant, and tossed the veggies with a quick Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (mustard, honey, vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil) and chopped walnuts.

The dish looked awesome!  I must give it a try.

She also made a LOL Martini with limoncello, lemon vodka, orange juice, orange liqueur, and lime juice ~ I would enjoy that too!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Spanish Romesco Dip October 19, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
20 comments

mr-rossiNext time it’s your turn to serve Tapas, here’s a yummy dip from the Catalonia region of Spain.

Spanish Romesco Dip

1/2 cup whole almonds
3 garlic cloves, peeled
8 oz. roasted red bell pepper
1 14-oz. can fire roasted diced tomato (with or without peppers)
1/4 c. chopped onion (optional: sauté first)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

With food processor or Ninja running, drop almonds and garlic cloves into the chute. Process until fine.  Add remaining ingredients and process until almost smooth.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This dip is delicious with tortilla chips, Fritos, pretzels, pita, crackers, bruschetta, seafood, pasta, etc.  I added some to sauteed zucchini, peppers, and onions with excellent results.

Aah . . . that’s yummy!

Before And After October 17, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Vegetarian Recipes.
41 comments

Before I began the wheat-free experiment mid-September, we ate delicious meals of this and that:

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Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce * Steamed Broccoli & Carrots * Black Bean Salsa * Sliced Apple * 1/2 a Bagel

Since going wheat-free, we still eat this and that . . . I just don’t eat that other thing.

Here’s an example of an impromptu mix & match wheat-free lunch thrown together from “fixings” in the fridge and pantry:

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Carrot & Celery Sticks * Pepperocini * Hummus * Fritos * Black Bean Salsa * Broccoli Florets with Italian Vinaigrette

I do a bit more planning for dinners, but not much.  Here’s an example of a fresh from the oven wheat-free dinner:

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Twice Baked Potato * Roasted Asparagus * Roasted Cauliflower * Roasted Carrots * Mashed Sweet Potato * Pushcart Onions  & Peppers

Update: I’m still enjoying numerous benefits from eating wheat-free (better sleep, less neck pain, better digestion, less inflammation, better mood, less mental fog, better energy, less hunger) so I haven’t been tempted to add wheat back into my diet.  Yet.

Aah . . . that’s better!

You Can’t Beat Beets! October 13, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Vegetarian Recipes.
28 comments

Mr-RossiThe Farmer’s Market started up again on Saturday, October 1st, after a summer hiatus.  The Market, which runs from October to May (instead of May to October), includes artisans, musicians, bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and farmers.

I love seeing how far our veggie dollars go at the Market. Last visit, we spent a grand total of $18 and came home with this:

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kale * cucumbers * iceberg lettuce * broccoli * romaine * green peppers * zucchini * baking potatoes * sweet potatoes * beets * beet greens

What bounty!

Once home, I process the produce so that it’s ready to use at a moment’s notice:

* Wash and spin the lettuce
* Chop and sauté the beet greens and kale
* Steam or blanch the broccoli (or just cut it into florets for roasting)
* Store the potatoes and sweet potatoes in our “root cellar”
* Stash most of the cukes, peppers, and zucchini in the fridge

Last week, before leaving the kitchen, I made a pot of wheat-free Minestrone soup, using millet instead of macaroni.

By the time I finished chopping and dropping, the robust and hearty harvest soup included onions, peppers, zucchini, beets, beet greens, broccoli, carrots, celery, and tomato sauce.

Aah . . . that’s yummy!

Do you frequent Farmer’s Markets in season?

A Wheat-Free Experiment September 29, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Less IS More.
54 comments

Donald-DuckaPerhaps more than any other food, wheat permeates our diet.

We find wheat in breads, bagels, baguettes, rolls, muffins, biscuits, cereals, granola bars, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, puddings, pizza, pasta, tabbouli, crackers, pretzels, beer, chips, veggie burgers, etc.

As a vegetarian, my diet centers around fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, grains . . . and chocolate.

Giving up wheat was the furthest thing from my mind.

Woodstock-&-Snoopy3Or it was until I heard Dr. William Davis during a PBS Fundraising Special ~ Wheat Belly, Total Health.

At first, what he was saying flew in the face of “truths” I had assumed to be true about “heart-healthy whole grains.”

I laughed at his concerns while munching on a bagel.

But his comments stayed with me.

I requested a copy of his first book, Wheat Belly ~ Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, from the local library.

I read with resistance.

I.  Did.  Not.  Want.  To.  Give.  Up.  Pizza.

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What would life be like without wheat?

No Bagels for lunch. No Grapenuts cereal for breakfast. No Triscuit Crackers with peanut butter as a snack. No Macaroni & Cheese.  No Lo Mein.  No Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce.  No Minestrone Soup.  No Spaghetti.  No Lasagna.  No Grilled Vermont Cheddar on Toscano Pano.

No Pizza.

Donald-Duck-BaseballIn spite of my resistance to his message, I kept reading, wondering if there was even a wheat berry of truth to his claims.

He provided a number of anecdotes about people barely able to walk into his office due to excess weight, joint pain, and lack of energy, who (after giving up wheat) bounded into the office at their next visit.

Hmmm . . .

I decided to conduct a Wheat-Free Experiment to see what changes, if any, I noticed in the Health and Wellness department.

Donald-Duck-MadI assumed the first thing I would notice was anger and annoyance at being deprived of some of my favorite foods.

Nope.  My mood got better, not worse.

I assumed that without the adjunct of bread with lunch and dinner that I would be ravenous between meals and go to bed hungry.

Nope.  My appetite dropped without the appetite-stimulating effect  wheat has on the brain.

Mickey-In-HammockI assumed I would toss and turn in bed at night, with visions of sugar plum pudding dancing in my head.

Nope.  Instead of sleeping in 2-3 hours stints, I began sleeping for 3, 4, and 5 hour stretches.  I stopped waking every 2 hours for a pee break.  Once a night is now enough.  (I’ve also noticed fewer “pee prompts” from my bladder during the day.)

For the past week, I’ve woken feeling rested, awake, aware, and ready to face another Wheat-Free day.

The number on the bathroom scale has dropped a couple of pounds ~ this morning I weighed less than at any time in the last 10 years.

Mickey-OKLong-standing neck pain has improved ~> after just one wheat-free week, my neck is pain-free for the first time in at least two decades!

Afternoon headaches spiraling up from my neck have also disappeared.

The “mental fog” is lifting.  When I sit down to a task, I do so with greater cognitive clarity.

My youthful “can do” and “do it now” attitude has returned after an extended hiatus, allowing me to get things done today (e.g., writing this post) rather than putting them off until tomorrow . . . or the day after tomorrow.

Mickey-SurferIn a nutshell, I feel more like the “old me” ~> younger, more enthusiastic, more motivated, more alive.

That said, it’s still “early innings.”  I’m not ready to swear off pizza for the rest of my life.  Yet.

But, if these changes become the new norm . . . giving up pizza would be a small price to pay.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Sock Hop & Classic Cars September 21, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Music & Dance, Travel & Leisure.
29 comments

Goodwill launched the 2016 Giving Challenge by hosting a Sock Hop at the Classic Car Museum.

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We went and had a fun time touring the touring cars.

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And planning our next Picnic Trip in this . . .

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We drank Chocolate Malts from Culvers, admired the themed napkins . . .

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And nibbled on nibbles . . .

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After the Pink Ladies danced to taped versions of “The Theme from Happy Days” and “You’re The One That I Want” (from Grease), the band took the stage.

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Even though BFF and I are not keen on music from the 50’s, we got ready to “Rock Around The Clock.”

Mickey-OKWe lucked out . . . the band didn’t know any songs from the 50’s!

Instead, they played classic rock, including: “I Love Rock & Roll,” “Baby, Hold On To Me,” “No Time,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and some Dave Matthews.

Aah . . . that’s better!

If you play this video . . . that’s me 33 seconds in commenting on Paris Hilton’s absence:

Got Saw Dust? September 13, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Humor.
38 comments

Donald-DuckaOn the search for a better burrito, we scanned the 137+ varieties of tortillas available at Publix to find one with a healthy mix of ingredients.

Most flour tortillas had a gram of fiber.

The whole wheat tortillas had 2 grams of fiber.

Then we picked up a package of high fiber tortillas which boasted a whopping 11 grams of fiber.

Per tortilla, not per package.

Curious, we read through the ingredient list looking for the source of that fiber.

Donald-Duck-BaseballWas it from oats?  No.

Was it from bran?  No.

How about wheat germ?  Again, no.

Then we spied the fiber source . . . cellulose fiber.  Also known as wood pulp.

Well, you don’t have to hit me over the head with a baseball bat before I can figure out what’s going on . . .

Food manufacturers are obviously as concerned as consumers about getting more fiber into our food.

Wanting to avoid genetically modified FrankenFood, they turned to the forest and saw the trees!

Trees, standing tall and overflowing with pulpy goodness.

Real trees, not GMO trees loaded with FrankenFiber.

They called lumber yards and floor liquidators, ordering up 10,000 cubic tons of surplus saw dust to bulk up our food and our bellies.

Donald-Duck-LazyThey boiled it down and added it to cereals, granola bars, loaves of bread, ice cream, and tortillas.

And that, in a nutshell, is why processed food tastes like saw dust!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Pushcart Onions September 5, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
28 comments

As a child, we lived an hour from the Big Apple.

Street cart vendors sold roasted chestnuts in winter and Sabrett Hotdogs smothered in Pushcart Onions in summer.

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Here’s a delicious recipe for New York Pushcart Onion Sauce (from Mr. Food Cooks Real American)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 med. onions, halved and sliced
1/4 cup Heinz catsup
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. chili powder
dash of hot pepper sauce
dash of salt
1/2 cup water

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat; add the onion slices and saute for 7-13 minutes, until golden and limp.

Optional: add green pepper with the onions.

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Mix together the remaining ingredients and stir into onions.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10-13 minutes.
Serve hot over hotdogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken.

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Also delicious in or alongside veggie wraps, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, or as a dip with Fritos or tortilla chips.

I sterilized a jar in boiling water to fill for the fridge.

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And froze the rest to enjoy later.

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Aah . . . that’s yummy!