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Archive for August, 2008

Coffee and white bread

Hey people! Today I am enjoying not only drinking my coffee outside, I am also perking it outside! I’ve brought out my propane camping burner and my little pot, and soon I will have real outdoor coffee. Except this Kansas wind is quite a challenge this morning and is delaying the process a bit! It should be perking by now and it is not. I’ve got a large stone trying to block the wind, but Kansas wind is not normal wind. No siree! It can come at a blast from all four directions at one time. Sigh. . .I guess in my quest to save energy I am wasting it this morning. Maybe I won’t do this except on a very, very mild morning, which means. . .uh. . .never again. Oh well. . . . Ooooh, smell that? It’s the coffee perking. Oh there is nothing quite like the aroma of freshly perked coffee.

I’ve got my breakfast of 1/2 slice of bread and natural peanut butter (none of that Crisco-y feeling peanut butter for me!), some cubes of yummy cantaloupe, and 1/4 cup of yogurt with some Grape Nuts for crunch. Sad, I do use regular white bread out of a bag. I have gone through spells of eating whole wheat, but I just absolutely cannot stand it. I’ve tried different brands, and yuk. I don’t eat much bread so I’m not sure it is a real problem. Sure, it would be better to avoid white flour all together, but there are still a few things I eat that are not really good for me, and I guess this slice of white bread is one of them. I have tried to purchase rye bread, but all I can find in the stores here start with white flour, which means there is more white flour than whole grain rye. Such a trick these companies like to play on their customers!

Well, I had to share my picnic with you. I think the coffee is ready so I’m going to sign off now so you don’t hear me making those awful “Mmmmmm” and Yummmmmmy” noises!

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Another morning sitting outside, enjoying my coffee. Birds and squirrels are busy this morning, and I am sure my kitty Susie is upstairs sitting on her window seat enjoying the show.

Went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday – no kale!! The young fellow told me that he had planned to harvest some for me, but I guess communication lapsed and he said the little they had left was mowed over! Oh my oh my, what a waste. For me, anyway. So I asked about turnip greens and if there would be a farmer’s market into the fall. He told me the farmer’s market is open until October and they would have turnips, most people out here grow turnips, but don’t fool with the greens since it is more of a Southern thing. I guess he is right, but I will ask them about saving me some. Absolutely they would prefer selling them over tossing them, right? I’m sure they use them in compost, but still, I’d rather have them digesting in my tummy. Oh my goodness YUM!!

As I may have mentioned earlier, it seems one of the reasons for my “blah” stomach some days, and my lack of energy, could come from a B vitamin deficiency. My last lab work confirmed a too-low amount, so more greens would be good for me. I also read that in lab studies with rats, a high dosage given during a heart attack can actually weaken the attack! It seems to be very good for the heart muscles and also helps guard against dementia. Hmmm. . . . sounds like a wonderful plan to me! I know greens are really good for us, but frozen and canned greens are yukky, I think. And fall is the only time to get fresh ones, Right? Broccoli I only like in small doses, and I get tired of tossed salads very quickly. It was also good to read that nuts and beans are high in folic acid. I did not know that, and I eat a lot of those.

So people, any ideas out there about greens? Am I missing something? Hubby likes to tell me that I’ve gotten so much education that too often I’ve lost my common sense. Sigh. . . .I have to agree with him. The education has really helped me move my mind along, to think stronger, to better analyze a situation. But then other times, the simple very important thoughts just slide on by without stopping for a visit.

OK, terrymac1 has asked for my curried cauliflower and shrimp recipe and also the one I use for cornbread, so they will follow this paragraph. And I am thrilled to share! The cauliflower recipe I copied from a Vietnamese cookbook. The cornbread recipe is one I got from one of my college girlfriends and like it especially because it is quick and easy and also sweet. The recipe below is a “half” recipe and the one I use since I live alone right now, but I get eight servings! In a week’s time I can eat four servings, so I freeze the other half for later. So, the full recipe is double everything (naturally!) and for the eggs, add three. The full recipe also calls for two tablespoons of sugar, but I thought that addition made it too sweet, so I leave that out. But if someone does not like sweet cornbread, this is not the recipe for them! Also, Jiffy Corn Muffin mix has lard in it. Ugh. I have tried making this recipe with a regular cornbread recipe, adjusting a few things as I go, but it got complicated. I like the easy! Now, I confess there are healthier recipes out there for cornbread, but I figure with a bowl of beans with no fat added, it is OK. Right? Right? Please say so!!

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Shrimp and Cauliflower Curry

1/2 lb. shrimp, raw, cleaned
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbls. oil
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cauliflower cut into bit-size florets
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ( or more) curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss shrimp and lime juice together. Set aside
In a wok or heavy skillet, heat oil. Stir in onion, garlic, and red pepper. Stir until it begins to brown.
Stir in cauliflower
When just about crisp/tender, add sugar, curry powder, salt, pepper, and shrimp. Stir until shrimp is done and serve.

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Cornbread Made with Creamed Corn

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
4 oz. sour cream
1/2 Can (or one small can) creamed corn
1/2 stick of butter (four Tbls.)

PreHeat oven to 350o
Melt butter in small frying pan (just set in heating oven)
Mix first two ingredients in a bowl, set aside
Beat eggs in a bowl. Add sour cream and corn. Mix well
Pour corn mixture into dry ingredients
Pour into hot frying pan and bake for 35 – 45 mins.

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Right now I am sitting in my back yard on the patio of sorts, wearing a comfy long-sleeve denim shirt and enjoying the cool morning. I prepared my coffee on a backpacking propane stove, trying to save energy. I’m not sure I’m saving money at this point, but my number one goal is to save energy. It would be nice to know if I have saved money, but since I run my air conditioner, it would be hard to tell! However, no matter how I made this coffee today, coffee outside on a cool morning makes the best time of day even better!

I have been feeling a little more stress than usual, so I’ve been trying to eat healthy. Only failing in this effort. Thursday we had a birthday celebration for one of the student workers in the library, and not only was there cake, but there were also brownies, candy, and corn chips with a very tasty dip made with cream cheese. Today I’m in the mood for some good vegetables!

I’ve been practicing eating with chop sticks. I eat slower that way and it has been fun to learn something else new. I bought Asian food for lunch a few days ago and sat down at my desk to eat with chop sticks. I found a short video online that gave instructions on using these utensils and I’ve been using them with just about everything! Even tossed salad. My brother taught me how to use them in 1980 when he took me out to try my first Japanese restaurant when I visited him in New York City (where he was living at the time). I never quite got the hang of it, and I have gotten tired of living in college towns where the students used them so proficiently and I have been just a-strugglin’! So now I’m becoming proficient myself!

Well, back to discussing food itself. I’ve been busy busy busy at work lately, coming home really tired and not been preparing the healthiest meals possible. The day of the cake I had already been feeling puny, so by 5:00pm I was really feeling bad. I knew I had to eat something, and all I wanted was a mini-bag of microwave popcorn and a small bowl of cereal. I believe that was the day I ate NO veges!

One night I prepared curried shrimp and cauliflower. I did not eat rice of any kind, just the cauliflower (and a few other veges) and shrimp. It was very good, and the hot pepper flakes I cooked with it made it spicy, which slowed down my eating even more. One night I had fresh green beans, a few small new potatoes, and pickled beets. The beets I prepare with Splenda, so there is no added sugar but added chemicals. Oh well. Ooooh yes! And I soaked pintos and had several meals consisting of pinto beans and homemade cornbread. With the pintos I used a spoon! One night I had three small servings of salads from the grocery store salad bar. One was a broccoli-based salad, one was mostly mayo and pasta, and the third was a three bean salad. I used chop sticks, and the only real challenge was the three bean salad. That’s when I knew that a bowl of pintos would send me back to the spoon.

I will check out the farmer’s market this morning. There has been no kale the last few times, but when I talked to the young men from K-State that sell it, they said they thought they should have some today. I’m going to check it out! I wonder if I will be able to buy fresh turnip greens out here this fall? I love turnip greens – especially with a hardboiled egg, vinegar, raw onions, and a slice of cornbread. Oh my goodness what a meal!!!

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The past few days I’ve been really pushing forward on my paper and haven’t had as much time to plan my meals as I like. Thinking about food? Oh yes! Always. But concentrating and planning – not so much. Considering all the different aspects of my topic I have included in my research, the paper is really coming along well. I believe I have just reached the point where is has taken me away from people for several weeks and I miss the fun and distraction. The social. But I have a goal to write and submit, and today I will go back to the library for another day of writing. I will continue to focus and just hope I don’t get any more ideas of, “ooh! That would be good in this paper, too. Wonder where I can find information about that??!?” And then I’m off in another direction!

Friday night I was invited to a gathering at the home of a librarian and it was wonderful. I had worked all day and got to spend the evening with good friends, good conversation, and good food. Absolutely one of the activities I enjoy the most – mixing three of my favorite activities into one.

I skipped the farmer’s market yesterday, but I bought a few good things at the regular grocery store. Last night I had more fresh corn (what a surprise), fish with the killer tartar sauce I have learned how to make, squash and onions, and a side of cole slaw. I’ve really been in a sweet mood lately, which we know is not good for the glucose levels. But after that dinner I ate three miniature Hershey candies and fell right to sleep! I was afraid I would keep myself awake since I’m a little tense about the paper, but I did well. It was pointed out to me a while back by a dear friend who knows me well (probably a little too well) that when I get stressed about my work, if I will sit back, look at it objectively, I will most likely see I am doing much better than I realize. Well, Janice, you are right. Again. This paper is coming along well. I just need to get it out of the way and quit trying to perfect it. Perfecting it is good and required. Perfecting it over and over and over is obsessive.

I was involved in quite a little adventure this past week. I went to another building on campus Friday, and as I was leaving, I spotted a possum walking along the hallway on second floor. I tried to herd him down the steps and out the front door, but once we got to first he scooted into a large classroom. There were two students in there working on projects and I pointed out to them that there was now a possum under one of the desks. Well, we worked together for over 15 minutes while he hid up in one little cubby hole and then another. We finally corralled him into a trash can and I took him outside to the bushes and let him go free. I hope he found his way home, poor little thing.

And while I was typing this paragraph above, I noticed my kitty in the window intently watching some activity outside. I live in a wonderful older neighborhood in a house that has been converted into two apartments and mine is upstairs. It is just about 6:00am and the sun is not really up yet, but kitty and I are able to see outside. Well, I watched Susie staring, and I heard rustling noises, so I went to see what was going on. There were four raccoons running around the garage! Four! What a wilderness zoo for me! I’ve seen lots of bunny rabbits and squirrels since moving here last year, but here in a matter of a few days I saw my first possum that wasn’t dead in the road and four raccoons!

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