Tag Archives: No grouching allowed

Summer drop-out

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Summer drop-out

Ho-kay; done with the dreams.  Moving on now.

summer beauty

Its summer, the time of year we follow the sun running like fools until we drop in front of the BBQ pit at 8 o’clock at night in our best imitation of Wonder Woman.  No matter it’s not dark for another hour or so, the clock is still ticking and there’s fun to be had.

crazy summer

Well this year I’m opting out.  In honor of my grandmothers’ legacies, I’m going more Southern Lady in the Shade, sweet tea in one hand, sewing needles in the other.  I’m done trying to reach marketing geniuses ideas of summer fun.  I live in south Texas where temperatures are still hovering around 100 degrees at 10:30 at night. Nuff said.

 

Climate change or cyclical anomalies, whatever, never seem to be factored into TV commercials; and it’s a crying shame manufacturers are trying to sell uncontrollable joy and the ultimate outdoor gladiator experience in this kind of heat.

Greed is the sweaty little merchandise king with the leather whip driving this maniacal ship, and I want off!

I’m headed back inside my tortoise shell with the air blasting.  I’m going to OD on Discovery ID Crime and Food Network Cooking shows.  I’m going to sew until Charlotte, my Bernina, screams.  I’m going to quilt until my fingers bleed.  I’m going to make about 1,000 salads and learn my way around Cool Whip cakes and Jello Fluffs.

I’m not going to try to keep up with anyone.

keeping up with summer fashion

I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

aunt bea whatever look

I’m pulling the plug on social politeness.

dont cross me

Stand back girls, I’m going in!

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The Agony and Angst of Competition: Cupcake Wars

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this is war baby

I’m a huge fan of the television reality show Cupcake Wars, so when our local bakery, Fat Bottom Girls, was asked to participate, I was ecstatic!  Actually, no one in town except the girls at the bakery even knew about it for the longest time, apparently like most wars, details are illusive, very hush-hush.  But when an airing date was finally announced, Aunt-Bea-Me did a little happy dance in the middle of her kitchen and then bounced to the laundry room to mark the calendar.

Well, I can tell you, the weeks drug on and on, my anticipation growing proportionately; and when the viewing date was so close I could almost taste one of Fat Bottom Girls Salted Caramel cupcakes burst in my inner mouth, I visited their cute, little pink bakery on Central for luck.

I’ve always heard that Hollywood was fickle, and now I can attest to that truth, because on that late day, mid-summer, I was shocked and disappointed to find that the Food Network contacted the Girls to let them know their show had been postponed, a future reschedule date to be announced some time later.

Well, I never….

The harshness of the outer world was mind-boggling.  Here in small town Arkansas, a person is only as good as his word, or the goodies she bakes, so a complete change in war strategies and rules came as a hard blow, shaking my faith in the entertainment world quite a bit.  But like any confident woman, Aunt-Bea-Me knows the true value of a Tim Gunn “Make it work” moment, so I made a plan that would facilitate another mandatory adjustment to change.

In true warrior style, I attacked the challenge using hands on combat, (baking therapy), to hasten and ensure a complete recovery, inventing cupcake after cupcake, each sugar free and more than a trifle dry or redundant.  But like any good soldier, I was steadfast in my determination and committed to the task ahead; that’s when the moist, delicious sugar free Banana Cream Cupcake with Cranberry Compote and Light Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting was born.  This cupcake was a hero!

It wasn’t long after the Sugar Free Banana Cream Cupcake with Cranberry Compote and Light Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting culinary success had led me to recovery from Hollywood’s brutal betrayal, that an announcement went out that our own Fat Bottom Girls had, at last, been rescheduled for national debut!

Will they win or will they go down in flames alongside countless other cupcake geniuses?  I can only guess because that whole war secrecy code thingy is still in full force, in spite of set backs and betrayals.  But pretty soon we will all know!

Turn into the Food Network tonight, Saturday, December 7th, at 7 pm central standard time, and find out!  You can bet your best apron Aunt-Bea-Me will be watching alongside her best friend-husband, Rich, in their basic beige love seat recliner!

 

 

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

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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

Sigh.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ca-ching!

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

 

 

Flour Power-VS-the World!

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This is one of those days!  It’s like paying the last lay-away payment on a dog house, only to get the thing home just in time to find out that Fido ran away!  Today has been a see-saw of good and bad news, almost enough to make Aunt Bea throw her chubby floured hands up in the air, spin on her stocky little black leather granny heels, and stomp off  to the Piggly Wiggly for a sack of TV dinners!

Almost, but not quite.

Yesterday the doctor took Rich off one of his diabetes medicines.  He thought it was because he was making better food choices, and was near giddy with delight until Doc told him the reason he was dropping the drug, was because the research is showing  it’s causing prostate cancer!

BAM! Giddy broken!

After that news, we may have started the day on a downer, but the phone rang early in the morning, and it was Doc, again, with the results of Rich’s labs.  All his numbers were really, really good and some so good, Doc dropped another med because he doesn’t think Rich needs it anymore!

BAM!  We’re back on top again!

Rich goes to work; Charlie comes up and he and I spend the next two hours talking food.  Cooking is his hobby, and on his days off, Morgan comes home to a real feast.

In the summer, Morgan works two jobs, so today, at lunch, in between the two, she decided to come home to eat.  I’d saved her some of  the Nut-Crusted Cod I’d prepared last night, (another adventure in healthy eating by way of Marlene Koch’s Eat More of what you Love, that wonderful cookbook gift from my daughter, Billie, Morgan’s mother.)

Morgan moaned so loudly with pleasure as she ate, Charlie was forced to pick up a fork and see what all the fuss was about!  When he started moaning too, it was too much for me to bear, so I just left the room.

That’s when my cell went off.  It was my youngest daughter, Crissy.  Crissy is married to super hero Chris; they live in a canyon in Amarillo with their four kids. To say Chris is an over-achiever is like saying I’m a little interested in cooking; the man needs a cape!

Crissy is a hero too!  She’s today’s version of Pioneer, Earth Mother.  I love and admire both of these kids, and of course, their children; so when Crissy called to say her oldest is having a problem, the bottom falls out from under my feet.  BAM!  I’m down again!

I take a little time out, sit on the deck in the breeze, and get a little philosophical wondering what I can do to help.  A bunch of bells and whistles go off in my head, and I write to my daughter.  (When stuff isn’t going well, Crissy would rather write and skip conversation.  She’s as emotional as me, and get us going, and we’re like a house on fire.)  So, out of respect, I write, and thanks to email, ten minutes later, I hear back from her, and we both felt a little better.  So, BAM!  I’m UP again!

Then Rich telephones to say he won’t be bringing the new range hood we’d been eyeing in Sears home today.  Because the lady in front of him in line, bought the last one!

BAM!  Lower than preverbal snake’s belly.

Once my Aunt Jeanne said my life reminded her of a soap opera, “All the Craze of my Life”, she said.  Maybe she got it right.

Okay: tonight’s foray into culinary erotica… probably not…Tonight’s foray into culinary experimentation…much more likely…Dessert!  Heavenly Pumpkin Spice Cake coming in at 115 calories a slice, (2 carbs, 1 ½ Carb choice on the Food Exchange), and 2 plus Weight Watcher comparison points!

another kitchen failure

Aunt Bea’s Pearl for exasperating days:  Put on some lipstick, grab a bright apron, and bake!