Category Archives: Apprciating life

Victorious and Bragging after Yesterday’s Yard Sale Marathon!


salt and pepper has its consequences


Need I say more?

This is my favorite find from yesterday’s Yard Sale Adventure!  A family argument immortalized in salt and pepper ceramic art!  I think it’s classic, and I’m counting on it to elevate my small salt and pepper shaker collection to near-great status.

On another note, Aunt-Bea-Me received a nomination from the Empathy Queen today for the Versatile Blogger Award! Many thanks to her Empathetic Highness for the gracious nod.  ( I  hear IttyMac is celebrating at her house too since she’s been nominated for the same award!)

Now just a note to the follower who asked for my Mexican Black Bean and Corn Relish Recipe:  Thanks for asking!  I took it as a compliment!    I have to say, Aunt-Bea-Me is very bad about writing down the ingredients she is using when she’s caught up in her own creative juices, but I think she remembers this one!

Ingredients needed:

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed * 3-4 small cloves of shallot, finely minced * 1 ear fresh, uncooked corn, cut from the cob * freshly chopped Cilantro, 2 teaspoons, or to taste * juice of one fresh lime to bring it all together.  (You may substitute 2 teaspoons of bottled lime juice if needed) Start with 2 teaspoons but add a 3rd if needed *

Mix all ingredients together, letting them sit in a bowl or serving dish for a minimum of a half an hour ensuring the flavors meld well.  May be served at room temperature or chilled.  (Aunt Bea prefers it chilled.)  This Mexican Black Bean and Corn Relish is great with baked tortilla triangles, baked pita strips or baked flat bread, and sliced avocado.

Well, I’m rolling down my garters and putting my feet up while I enjoy a nice cup of Camomile and Lavender hot tea on the deck!  Here on the mountain, it’s a delightful 70 degrees today!  Aunt-Bea is in paradise, for sure.

happy face


New Recipe: Do No Harm Chicken Parm


My kitchen has been a science lab for the past few days; sadly, it can be said that one or two of the recipes I’ve concocted, turned it into a crime scene as well.  Truthfully, most the recipes under construction are make-overs.  My daughters love eating my food but complain that I never write down how to prepare the dishes.

 it wasn't THAT bad

Guilty as charged! 

Now that the diabetes plague has settled over our house, it’s important I’m confident that what I mix up isn’t going to explode into glucose and fat, so I’m making a real effort to verify and record the ingredients in the foods I make.  I’m also researching nutritional values.

Rich is a Jersey guy, and Jersey guys love their Italian.  But Rich is also a diabetic, so a great deal of Mama Mia’s Menu is off limits.  To keep a happy home, Aunt-Bea-Me has made Rich’s pallet a priority.  I know the insides of his stomach like I know the floor plan of my own kitchen!

kitchen 1

kitchen 2

kitchen 3


Now let’s get this show on the road, ladies and gentlemen:

Do No Harm Chicken Parm (for two)

1-2 teaspoons Olive Oil

2 3 0z skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

Salt to taste

1 egg white beaten in a shallow bowl and set aside

2 Tablespoons Panko, Japanese bread crumbs

Spray Pam (or similar brand)

2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

4 Tablespoons shredded low moisture Mozzarella cheese

1 cup marinara * recipe to follow

2 ounces dry whole grain spaghetti pasta (2 oz. dry pasta = 1 cup cooked pasta)

Marinara Sauce

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon canned tomato paste

1-2 Tablespoons low sugar ketchup

¼ teaspoon Worchester Sauce

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons honey

A variety of herbs, dried or fresh:



Fennel seed


1  bay leaf

Dried herbs are stronger than fresh.  If you’re using fresh herbs, you’re going to have to use about 3 times more than you would the dry.  Ex: 1 teaspoon dried basil = 3 teaspoons fresh basil.

I grow most of my own herbs and use them fresh in warm months.  Whatever I don’t use, I dry and have handy for cooler months.  Personal tastes vary, but when using fresh herbs for a small recipe like this one,  I normally use about 1 teaspoon of chopped Oregano, I Tablespoon chopped Basil, ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon finely chopped Rosemary, and sometimes I add about 1 teaspoon of chopped Thai Basil, depending on my mood.

Thai Basil and Fennel seeds add a sweet licorice flavor, creating depth.

There are many premixed, ready for use dried Italian-Blend herbs in the market place.  If doing it that way, again, for a small recipe such as this, I think I would recommend starting with a slight Tablespoon, and adding more according to taste.

Mix all ingredients for marinara in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir from time to time as mix comes to a slow simmer.  Cover and simmer on low heat for approximately 15 minutes, stirring periodically. (There’s going to be more sauce than you need for this recipe, so put leftovers in a sealed container, store in the refrigerator, and serve it over turkey meatballs another day.)

Meanwhile as sauce simmers, trim all fat from the chicken breasts.  Place each, one at a time, in a plastic bag. Using a flat meat hammer, pound until chicken breasts are about ½ inch thick.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Add Olive Oil to heavy oven safe frying pan.  (Cast iron is my preference!)  Spread oil evenly.

Dredge each chicken breast in egg white, on one side only, and transfer to frying pan, undredged side down.

Sprinkle each piece of chicken with salt to taste, add ½ teaspoon Lemon Pepper, and 1 Tablespoon Panko. Lightly spray Panko surface with Pam.  (Some bread crumbs may blow off, so be prepared!)  Bake chicken for 15 minutes then remove the pan from the oven and add 1-2 Tablespoons of Marinara Sauce to each piece.  Then add 1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese and 2 Tablespoons Mozzarella to each chicken breast.  Return pan to oven, cooking for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and brown.  (Internal temperature should be 160-165°.)    While chicken is baking, prepare spaghetti according to package directions, drain but do not rinse.  Set aside.

parm in a pan

Plate chicken.  Add 1/2 cup cooked spaghetti and cover with 1/4 cup Marinara Sauce. I usually serve our meals on luncheon-sized plates.  It gives an illusion of having more to eat than is actually there.

parm on a plate


Even though the nutritional values in this dish are good, they’d be better if you skipped eating it altogether.  But in the real world, real people, even diabetics, want to enjoy what they eat.  The American Diabetes Association recommends that 45-60 % of your daily caloric intake should be composed of carbohydrates, and 25-35% of the calories should come from fats. Also recommended is that protein should be approximately 12-20% of your daily Caloric intake.

Nutritional Values per serving:

361 calories, 46 carbs, 5 fats, 34 proteins, 341 sodium and 5.5 sugar

An excellent way to decrease carbs in this dish is to pass on the pasta.  Doing so will reduce Carbs from 46 gm to 17.  To balance this meal, I prepared a lettuce, apple and toasted pine nut salad accompanied by sugar free homemade poppy seed dressing.  it was simply  delish!  

 Aunt-Bea-Me Pearl for today:  If dinner isn’t the only thing cooking in the kitchen, pour yourself a nice glass of sweet tea, and relax!

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Trying to Keep Up with Time: balancing life around the reality of a ticking clock


Mercy, mercy Me!  The past few days have raced by like a pack of sled dogs!

dog sled team

But breakfasts, lunches and dinners haven’t lacked my down home sense of style, except for last Tuesday.  You know how much Aunt-Bea-Me respects consistency and order, well, they were both blown to hell’s bells when Morgan and Charlie decided to break up.

And it couldn’t have happened on a worse day.  My friend, Marie, moved to Louisiana that morning…sob.sob.  So the children’s news sent me scampering off to the kitchen, where I sat at the table with a lace hanky in my hand, concentrating as hard as I could, to work up a flood of tears.  Just as success was within grasp, the telephone rang, breaking what had promised to be a very wet season.

The rest of day is a blur.

another kitchen failure

Later that evening, Rich rushed us to nearest Chinese Restaurant, the Wok Express, where he did his dead level best to lift my spirits.  He was doing a pretty good job of it too,  until I opened my fortune cookie….

stale fortune


Wednesday was in deed, a better day.  I spent the entire afternoon in the capable hands of Eric, my hairdresser.  What that man can do with a pair of scissors is the envy of every bolt of cotton broadcloth in the county.

time out


Moving on.. tonight’s meal was a near masterful presentation of my own ground chicken patties, sprinkled with a smattering of salt and lemon pepper, and a thin crust of Panko, then sautéed in 2 teaspoons of olive oil till golden brown.  Last week’s cabbage selection wasn’t nearly a hit with Rich, so I felt compelled to redeem myself, and cabbage, in his eyes.

I began by julienne-slicing the bright green cabbage leaves, and then set them aside.  A couple of pieces, (2), of bacon went directly into a small sauté pan until crispy brown.  Then I blotted them on paper towels, rough cut them into medium-sized pieces and set them aside.

I took 1 fresh apple, peeled and sliced it into thin slices and set that aside also.

In a large, clean sauté pan, I added about 1 ½ teaspoons of the bacon drippings along with 1 tablespoon of margarine.  When the oils had blended and become hot, I added the cabbage and apples, salting, minimally, and using a pinch of black pepper.  Stirring periodically, I mixed the two till the cabbage softened and was perfect to taste.  That’s when I added the chopped bacon, tossing it throughout the mixture.  The whole process couldn’t have taken more than 15 or 20 minutes and was divine with the tiny red potatoes and chicken I served.

(I have to be stingy with potatoes because of Rich’s diabetes), so I boiled 3 that were each about the size of a small lemon; then I cut them in half, placed a stem of fresh Basil from my garden beside them.  I served Rich 3 halves, I had 2, and Fig, dear Fig-Fido, had the last. (It was necessary to hide the dog’s antibiotic inside, creating a sort of potato cocktail.  Camouflaging a pill is the only way to get it down her throat, and believe me when I say; I’m not the least bit hesitant to resort to such tactics if it helps Fig.)   Oh, how I digress.

iPhone4 photos 5 31 13 1255

You will hand over that potato…


Bam!  Dinner done!  Dishwasher loaded!  Rich watching reruns of the mini-series Shoˉgun, and it’s Aunt-Bea’s time for a hot bath.


Pearl for today: Always wear clean, un-tattered underwear.  You never know when you’ll get hit by a bus, and end up in the Emergency Room.

FB blog photo




OPPS! I accidentally erased this blog; so if the second time around is better than the first, I’m happy to re-present “Sponge Wars- an Epic Day of House Cleaning!” for your reading enjoyment.


If they held a draft for the American Domestic Olympics today, my name would be listed in the top ten competitors having nailed Sponge Wars yesterday! In preliminary drug testing, I was clean, (unless decaf and cardiac drugs are factored into control calculations).

cleaning supplies


I channeled Aunt Bea’s near OCD reorganization and kitchen cleaning skills, and sporting my 50 Shades of Beige smocked apron, I was off like a shot, at 8 in the morning!   Competition broke for a quick PBJ around noon, but was back in full swing within a half hour.  The games ended at 5:30 when competitors were required by law to initiate dinner mealtime preparations.  (Spectators were bummed, but in the end, found themselves agreeing with referees on that particular call.)

I must admit, but not to Olympic officials, I had an unfair advantage over other competitors.  From somewhere in the distance, Aunt Bea emerged wearing the most adorable aqua blue printed Jersey dress, cinched at the waist with a thin silver roped belt.  I could tell the belt was silver by its dainty buckle, but the rest disappeared, dividing Aunt Bea into two distinct segments, like one grapefruit precariously balance on another.

happy face

As quickly as I recognized the sweet little old lady, I heard the word “Borax.” ( telepathically, I believe).

Borax has been used for cleaning and laundry for over 100 years.  It is a naturally occurring mineral.  I remember my mom always having a box of 20 Mule Team Borax around, but paid little attention to it.  These days, I find myself trying to find ways to cut back on spending.  The price of staying clean keeps rising, but using Aunt Bea logic, there many, many ways to keep your money while keeping a sparkling clean house.

I pay around $3.60 for a large box of Borax.  It goes into the laundry for stain and odor control as it boosts general clothes cleaning.  Using one combination or another of borax, white vinegar, Dawn dishwashing soap, and baking soda, I’ve cut out spending money on all other cleaning products, except laundry detergent and bleach.  I don’t buy shampoo or conditioner anymore either.  Shopping is simple, check-out less painful, the house is spiffy clean, and our hair is in better shape than it has ever been before.


So yesterday’s game began with borax in a bucket of water, a couple of sponges, about 6 clean rags from the rag bag, and a spray bottle of water and beach, and I was good to go!

Dinner last night was an old favorite from Marlene Koch’s first Eat What You Love book, so I flubbed up, missing my goal of trying a new recipe a day, but the kitchen was so clean and smelled fresh, it was easy to justify falling off the wagon, so to speak.

Corkscrew Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo quickly became Bowtie Chicken and Mixed Vegetable Alfredo as I used ingredients I had on hand.  Delish!

Tonight is Vegetarian night so I’m back in Marlene’s new book and going for Sautéed Cabbage, Onions and Apples.  A few ingredients in this dish include cider vinegar, caraway seeds, (which I may substitute with another kind of seed since Rich isn’t a caraway fan),  chicken broth, and brown sugar.

Nutritionally speaking, it’s 45 calories a serving.  Say what?!  In the Food Exchange it counts as 1 vegetable and ½ carb choice.  The Weight Watcher Plus Point comparison is 1 point.  The numbers on this dish are so good, I’m attempting a second untried recipe, this one straight from the American Diabetes Association.  It’s Low Fat Corn Bread and counts as 2 starches on the exchange.  At 150 calories a serving, tonight’s meal will be low calorie, but we’’ll have to wait and see if it tastes good and leaves us feeling satisfied!  (No wimpy food for Rich!)

So no Olympics today, but it is bread day and daylight’s burning, so it’s the blue gingham apron for Aunt Bea Me today!  Stay for dinner anyone?

retro-kitchen set table