Birthday Doll, A Good Book and a Unique Pickle to Make

 

Birthday Doll 2019
September brings the time of year when I create a simple doll to celebrate my birthday. I started her on my birthday, but with other demands, I just managed to finish her up over a month later! She is inspired by the Ethiopian Omo River Valley people who decorate their bodies with flowers for special occasions.

Many years ago a friend sent me a link to some video documenting this tradition. I was enchanted, and promptly bought a book of photographs done by . Recently I was looking at the book and decided to use it to inform this year’s doll. I also shared the video and book with a small group of art friends and several came up with their own body adornment also informed by the video and photographs.
https://hubpages.com/travel/The-amazing-body-art-of-the-Ethiopian-Omo-tribes

When I had finished her, I realized that she was a “black Madonna” goddess. Many ancient cultures worshiped a madonna with dark skin. Marion Woodman, a Jungian therapist, popularized the concept of the black madonna and wrote the following in her book“Coming Home to Myself”:

‘The Black Madonna is larger than life itself.
Nature impregnated by spirit,
She presides over fertility, sexuality, childbirth.
She accepts her body as chalice for spirit,
Presides over the sacredness of matter,
The meeting of sex and spirit.
Rejected by the patriarchy,
Her energy has smoldered for generations.
Now she erupts in us and in the world,
Demands conscious recognition,
Demands redemption of matter.’

She certainly is a concept of woman ripe for recognition in this day and age! In many subtle ways she represents the shadow side of my personality that is emerging as I live my life alone in the now.

The Book By My Chair:
This is a book suggested to me by my sangha friend, David Green. He had it with him one Sunday. I saw that it was filled with book marks and notations and commented about this. He replied it was an especially down-to-earth presentation of basic Buddhist meditation and self help exercises. Sounded interesting so I ordered it from Amazon.

The reward for doing this has been very special. It is a wonderful handbook for emotional self-care. If you are floundering in this area, do check it out at your local bookstore if there is one in your community. Or spring for it. At Amazon you can get the paperback version for $10.87 If you don’t find it helpful, you can always pass it on to someone you think needs it!! (HA!!! that’s my little flippant joke)

A New Kind of Pickle!
I love pickles and fermented foods. Always have! When I was a kid and couldn’t find anything tasty in the refrigerator, I’d settle for a finger-full of Gulden’s Mustard.

So, when my friend Terry Enfield told me about pickled cherries I could hardly wait to make some. And then I found a similar type of recipe for pickled grapes and made them too! They both are delicious as a garnish for an entree plate. And of course if you happen upon a jar in the refrigerator, they are perfect for a forbidden snack.

Here’s a recipe you can use for either:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 – 1 teaspoon of any or all seeds in your pantry. (mustard, coriander, anise, allspice – depends on what you have.)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes (depends on your taste. I like less)
1 pound of washed grapes or washed and pitted cherries
Place fruit in clean canning jar.
Add a sprig of fresh rosemary (if you have it)
Place the vinegar, water, sugar, cinnamon and the seeds and pepper flakes into a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour the hot vinegar mixture (including seeds, stick etc) over the fruit.
When cool, refrigerate. Can be eaten after a day, but they taste better when they have marinated for at lease a week. Keep refrigerated.

A Final Comment

I’ve come to accept that I am an occasional blogger which means I don’t post very often. I keep thinking “next month I’ll have my act together to write up something really interesting, but my life doesn’t work that way any more. I post when I have time to write something I think is worth sharing which isn’t as often as I want. The life of an 80 year old person just isn’t as exciting as it was 20 years earlier. Finishing my birthday doll got me started again. The next post will come your way when my muse finds something that insists that it be shared. Until then, I remain in limbo searching for the next interesting “something” I can get excited about.

A Potpourri of Thoughts and Ideas

Here it is July, 2018 and this is my first post of the year because this year my art activities have been slim.  I’ve had nothing to write about.   But I’m coming back to “life” and enjoying new discoveries every week that I hope to share with you in the future.  My blog will have a broader focus drawing from my  encounters (recipes, books, movies, places, gadgets, art-making, programs,) – whatever I find interesting.  I hope you’ll find it worth the “read” as I know your time is precious and there are many ways to spend time on-line.

Potpourri
I looked up the definition for potpourri and when I read it, I thought this is just what I want my revisioned blog to be – a mixture of thoughts, ideas and actions.  So welcome to my journey.  I hope you decide to stay on for the ride.

Working On Depression
Depression has been my driver for the past two years and frankly I’m tired of it but it’s a hard demon to conquer and I seem to be one who can not tolerate the anti-depressant drugs offered by modern medicine.  As a result I’ve spent way too much time sitting in my chair with “poor me” thoughts or staring at the TV or an open book.  I don’t want to be an old lady “stuck” in a chair.  I want to be the “youngest” active and involved old lady you know!  

In March I decided to give up the chair.  The most important thing I started doing was writing morning pages every morning before the day got rolling.  I learned about morning pages from Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way” and I did them when I first moved to Arizona. I stopped doing them years ago but I never forgot how helpful they were whenever I lost my focus.

 

Morning Pages Are Transformative!
Every day I write three pages (two pages if they are college ruled!) of whatever comes to my mind.  When I begin I have no idea what will turn up on the page.  But what I do know is that when I am truly honest with myself helpful thoughts emerge.  I write about problems, disappointments, feelings, frustrations and progress. 

My pen reveals alternative solutions that I wouldn’t have thought of sitting alone in the chair.  Writing like that is like talking a problem over with a best friend but instead it’s me! The result is that my days have become brighter and interesting.  My life is becoming manageable and actionable. I look forward to starting the day!!!

If you are stuck inside your life, I encourage you to journal daily for several weeks.  See what happens.  You may find new ways of dealing with your problems and solutions you never thought of before.

Re-discovering Sketching and Watercolor
One of my art interests has been watercolor sketching.  Years ago when Ed and I traveled, I did watercolor journals to record our trips.  It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve done much sketching or painting.  I realized that wanted to “dive” back into sketch-booking.  

I’ve been especially inspired by Barbie, my sister who does amazing watercolor journals.  So, one of my new  goals is take taking on-line classes to develop my drawing and painting skills.  

Recently I’ve found YouTube to be a great source of free lessons and I’ve also started taking Craftsy art classes.  www.craftsy.com    I signed up for their “Unlimited” version  so I can take all the classes I want from their catalog for a full year.  They have 600+ classes to choose from!  Now I don’t have to wonder what to do with myself when I have free time.  

Right now I’m enjoying the Craftsy class offered by Marc Taro Holmes.  He is a well known Urban Sketcher and a very sharing person.  I subscribe to his blog. https://citizensketcher.com  The international Urban Sketching group has a monthly magazine “Drawing Attention” which I enjoy. Each month it features articles from sketch artists all over the world. https://Urbansketchers.org  It’s a good place to view many different styles of rendering with ink and watercolor.

The Joys of Cooking
One of my favorite activities is cooking.  I don’t do it every day, but I do cook several times a week and experiment with new recipes and food combinations.   When I discover a winner I like to share it with friends.  

Recently I had lunch with my friends John and Barbie.  They are both great cooks.  John fixed us broiled salmon and it was terrific!  This past week I tried his technique, and it was fast, easy and delicious!  Thank-you John!

John Nemo’s Broiled Salmon
Ingredients:
fillet of salmon (about a pound) — the thicker the better; preferably consistent in thickness if possible
olive oil
mayonnaise
chopped preserved lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400.
While waiting for the oven to fully heat: prepare a flat baking pan or sheet by covering it with a piece of foil.  Lightly coat it with olive oil and sprinkle on a bit of coarse salt and pepper to add flavor and prevent sticking.
Place the salmon on the sheet with the skin side down 
Spoon or brush a thin to medium layer of mayonnaise on the top.  
Sprinkle with the preserved lemon.
Once the oven has reached temperature put the fish in the oven and and bake for 4 minutes.
Turn on the broiler.
Blast the fish under the broiler for two or three minute until the mayo bubbles.
The duration of broiling depends upon the thickness of the fish and your desired level of rare to well done eating of salmon.  I like it very tender so I do it for 1 minute!
Remove from the oven and let it sit for 2 to 10 minutes before serving.

Note if you don’t have preserved lemon use grated lemon rind in the mayo and maybe a some lemon juice for additional flavor. Don’t worry if the mayo and lemon ooze all over the foil on the baking sheet.

A Problem Solved! Garbage Bucket Cover
You never know what kind of creative solution lurks inside your head.  Morning pages to the rescue!!!

I have an under-counter slide-out rack for a garbage pail.  It’s very convenient and I use it many times a day.  But in the summer in the desert, it gets smelly.  One way of dealing with this is to take the garbage outside every day.  That means a daily trip to the dumpster with a mostly empty large trash bag. I can put the food waste in a counter-top container lined with a plastic bag and remove it.  That works but I don’t like the garbage on the counter where I see it.  I much prefer the under-counter solution BUT what to do about the odor.

I’ve found a solution!  I made a lid out of mat board with a duct tape handle.  Now the lid covers the container  and minimizes the smell no matter what’s in it.  When I need access, I simply slide and dump.  When it’s filled I remove the lid and tie up the bag and take it to the dumpster!!

Feedback Please
I’m already working on the next post, but I do welcome your feedback.  Is my new approach interesting? useful? What kinds of topics would you like me to write about?  What can I do to serve you, my audience better?  You can get back to me using the contact page.  I’d sure like to hear from you.

Share with Others
Putting this together always takes more time than I think it will.  This post consumed about 10 hours to plan, write, edit, take photos and proof.  I enjoy doing it, and I’d love to share it with a wider audience.  It would help if you could forward the link to friends who might also enjoy receiving it.

Thanks, in advance.
Love, maybelle

Starting the New Year

For over ten years on January 1st I have formed my personal intentions for the new year.  In keeping with this tradition this year one of my intentions is to post on my blog at least once a month. So here’s my January post just in time!

Living the single life

My life has changed a lot.  Now I am a “committee of one” – a role that I reluctantly have taken on.  It’s so much easier when there is someone present to be witness for each other and to share in decisions.   Ever since I read the book “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, I’ve been making an effort to simplify my life.  Part of this is driven by the aging process – I am being forced to simplify in order to cope with changes in my physical strength, stamina, memory and ability to focus.  I’ve discovered there are real benefits to slowing down and enjoying the moment.  Having too many choices can be immobilizing.  I’m doing things that make me happy whenever possible.   Big projects cause me stress and anxiety.  I’m finding that accomplishing little projects bring me great pleasure.

I made the decision to refocus my art-making on drawing and sketching, casual watercolor and stitching.  All of these activities offer potential for creative expression but are portable and don’t take up a lot of space. I’m no longer submitting my work for juried shows or taking intensive art classes that go on for days.  I’m limiting my travel to short trips of 3 or 4 days mainly to visit my sister.  And I’ve discovered on-line classes that I can take at my own pace.

 

Self Care

This refocus has allowed me to be more involved with taking  care of myself through exercise and good health practices.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even tho I live alone I enjoy putting time and effort into food preparation.  After Ed died, I expected that this would be a chore.  Instead it has become a creative adventure.  Recently I’ve started to ferment veggies to make my own probiotic foods. I’ve had fun developing original recipes that give me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  I’ve started attending a regular Feldenkrais class that has helped my lower back become stronger.  I’m even getting a monthly facial- something I had never done before.  I’ve begun going to the movies by myself and enjoying it!!!  I plan to continue this blog but I expect to be writing more about my new life as an active and creative “crone”!!!  and sharing it with you.

An Encounter with the Flu

One of the big challenges this month was dealing with the flu. This was traumatic as I seldom get sick and Ed wasn’t here to take care of me!  For years I have gotten a flu shot and this year was no exception.  But the day after New Years I realized that I had the flu.  Granted it was a mild case but it kept me down for eleven days!  I discovered some interesting alternative treatments on-line that seemed to help moderate my symptoms.  I learned that oregano oil is both an antiviral and antibiotic!  Fortunately I had some on hand and so I put several drops on a spoonful of yogurtand gulped it down fast.   Ugh – tastes terrible but I did it for several days and feel that it knocked out that virus.   (Next time I’ll use oregano oil capsules.)

I developed an ugly chest cough which I treated with Ricola cough drops and Sambucus (elderberry syrup)  I drank camomile tea with ginger, honey, lemon and 3 fresh basil leaves.  Water was my best friend and my hydration goal was to drink a half cup every hour.  On the eleventh day I woke up without coughing so I pronounced myself cured and took a walk around the park to celebrate.  Just last week I read that golden kiwi fruit is being successfully used as a flu“treatment”.  There is documented evidence that if one eats three a day when they first have the flu symptoms the virus is killed within three days.

It’s too bad family doctors don’t offer these kinds of alternative treatments for colds and flu.  Of course I don’t know if my self-determined approach cured me,  but my on-line research alerted me to these alternatives, and I believe they prevented me from landing up in the hospital with pneumonia.  Three cheers for the internet.

On-line Classes

I’ve been taking a most enjoyable and interesting on-line class with Australian sketchbook artist, Liz Steele (www.sketchingnow.com).  Her training is as an architect, but her love of rendering has made her a highly regarded Urban Sketching Teacher.  She has developed unique and original approaches for sketchbooking.  I’m taking her newest class “Watercolor Sketching” and learning how to work fast and juicy!  I’ve had to “unlearn” some “bad” habits and I’m enjoying the results.  Here are two versions of an assignment she gave us – working juicy – one wet on wet and the other waiting for paint to dry before painting the adjacent areas. Each painting was done in about 5 minutes!   I’m only half-way through the class.  The first two weeks focused on painting skills and soon we will be adding drawing to the formula.

I’ve also enrolled in two on-line photography classes, which focus on developing skills using iPhone apps and working with digital photos to create composite art.  There are so many interesting classes one can find on the internet.  I  never got involved until I took a class this past year on creating mandalas as a spiritual practice.

Happy Making Activities

Kale and Garlic Soup

2 slices bacon, chopped

6 cloves garlic sliced (or grated)

4 – 5 cups finely chopped kale – no thick stems

1 quart of chicken broth (I like Costco’s brand)

Place bacon in a 2-3 quart saucepan and render the fat over low heat.

Add the garlic and cook gently (don’t brown)

Pour in the broth and add the kale.

Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer.

Cook 30 minutes or until the kale is nice and soft.

Fresh Flowers

When Ed was alive he often brought home fresh flowers.  I miss his little gifts of love, so in his honor I almost always have fresh flowers or a blooming plant on the dining table.  This is the orchid I got to celebrate his 80th birthday.  Every time I pass by it or glance across the room, it brightens my spirit and makes me smile.

I share all this with you as an example of one way of creating a solitary life with a positive focus rather than being enveloped by grief and melancholy.  Our lives are impermanent  so the gift we have each day is to live as fully as possible.

To be continued next month…….

Bento-style Meals

My husband and I have traveled twice to Kyoto and both times mealtime provided us with some of the most enjoyable memories of our journeys there. I especially liked the pace of dining in Kyoto coupled with the delightful parade of tasty morsels that were brought to the table.

Recently we were talking about food and I recalled how much I enjoyed eating that way. When we got back to Tucson we never got into Japanese cuisine. That was partly because the only Japanese food available here is found in sushi restaurants. My husband is a recovering Catholic who is not a lover of fish and that’s the first thing he thinks of when he sees a sushi sign. So I’ve never seriously tried my hand at preparing Japanese food.

But, last week, it occurred to me that maybe I could modify the Japanese style of presenting food and apply it to the foods we eat at home. I went to Cost Plus and purchased a variety of small plates and bowls to use in presenting bento-like meals. After surfing the interenet for information on Japanese cuisine, and ordering several books from Amazon, I was armed with a basic understanding so I could play more extensively with this approach to our meals.

My first adventure was an experiment in serving sandwiches. Instead of assembling and presenting a freshly made sandwich on a plate, I arranged small plates of sandwich ingredients on trays and we each assembled our own sandwiches as part of the mealtime experience. The plates were very appealing, and we both enjoyed building our sandwiches and savoring the experience.

I must say it has been great fun. And consuming the food – even more fun! Here are some of my first kaiseki-Tucson-style meals.

My first attempt included steamed sausage, caponata, miso soup, cauliflower with a vinaigrette drizzle and tomato with ranch dressing, rice.
caponata

The next tray consisted of fried rice, soy dipping sauce, grilled portobello mushroom, butternut squash seasoned with spicy salt, steamed sausage and onion pancakes.
Onion Cake Bento

A sandwich meal included sliced tomato, pickles, mayonaise, tuna salad, cold curried soup, whole wheat bread and apple wedges.
Sandwich Bento

I don’t expect to prepare this type of dinner every night of the week. But I do hope to serve bento-style meals at least two or three nights each time it’s my turn to cook.

Note: In 1993 when we began retirement, we also began a take-turn cooking arrangement. It goes like this; you are on your own for breakfast and lunch meals. Dinner is provided by the “cook for the week” who also shops and cleans up. So, for the week you don’t cook, you are a guest in your own home!

This has worked well for us, tho I must admit that my husband would respond to you with a slightly different point of view!!!!

Playing Around With Smoothies

Those of you that know me, know that my interests are all over the place!  I seem to “doodle-bug” here, there and everywhere!

I read on Facebook about the health value of honey and cinnamon.  In checking it out, I learned that there are a number of studies that confirm their medicinal and health contributions.  So I decided to find ways to get more honey and cinnamon into my daily diet. I realized that it would be very easy to use honey and cinnamon on my toast instead of butter.  Another good toast topper is coconut oil with cinnamon sprinkled on top.  I wondered how the honey would work as a sweetener in other things.

That very day I had some strawberries that needed to be used.  So I created a smoothie using about 1 cup sliced strawberries, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and about a 1/3 cup of fruit juice.  What a yummy drink it is!   That blast of cinnamon makes it quite perky.  Since strawberries have been plentiful recently, I’ve made it a number of times since, and each time it tasted terrific.  smoothie

Speaking of smoothies, I’ve had a lot of fun making them with various fluids such as almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water, Trader Joe’s mango lemonade (delish!!!) and their Lemon Ginger Echinacea drink. I also have discovered acai juice which has a wonderful taste.  Since you only need a half cup or less in the smoothie, a $7 quart of juice can last through the week.

Another recent smoothie concoction included 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 avocado, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 cup acai juice.  It is about the best smoothie I ever made or tasted.  But it makes a lot,  You can adjust the recipe  downward and it would taste just fine. I think honey and cinnamon would be great in this drink.

If you want your smoothie to be extra creamy add half an avacado or a whole one if you want.  It changes the texture from beverage to creamy delight!  Sometimes it’s so thick I have to eat it with a spoon!

I like experimenting with a variety of fruit, juices and veggies in my smoothies.  A big handful of raw spinach goes a long way in pumping up the nutritive value.  I don’t have a juicer but if I did, you can be sure I’d add carrots, beets and other colorful and nutritious ingredients.  Sometimes I’ll add protein powders for extra value.  I like the ones available at Trader Joe’s – especially the chocolate one.

I’d be interesting in learning your favorite smoothie recipes and discoveries.  I make them several times a week for breakfast or lunch and am always interested in finding a new yummy one to add to my growing collection.

 

Orange for the Thanksgiving Table

Some tasty food ideas for you….

In our home on Thanksgiving some form of orange always appears on the table or during the meal.  Usually there is a centerpiece made of yellow, orange and rust colored chrysanthemums.  And almost always there’s either a casserole or dessert made with some form of orange vegetable:  rutabaga, sweet potato, yam, butternut squash, carrot or pumpkin!

Rutabaga
My dad had a fondness for mashed and buttered rutabaga and he loved Mom’s pumpkin pie.  She always used the recipe on the Libby’s canned pumpkin label.  I like that recipe too, but I add more spice and bake it in a casserole dish instead of a pie shell.

Butternut Squash
I’ve always had a special  place in my heart for butternut squash.  I love it plain, or in soups.  One of my favorite salads is a combination of cooked butternut cubes marinated in a flavorful vinaigrette and tossed with fresh sliced strawberries just before serving!

Ruby Yams
In recent years I have discovered the ruby yam.  A quick and delicious way to fix it, is to peel and slice it lengthwise into 8 long wedges.  Toss it in a bowl with some good olive oil and sea salt.  Place on a foil-lined sheet and roast at 425 for 20-30 minutes or until it is cooked and slightly browned.  Let them cool and serve as an appetizer with a dipping sauce.  I like to use ranch dressing when I don’t have time to whip up a sauce.

This year our Thanksgiving meal included a yummy casserole made with mashed ruby yams and a pecan streusel topping.  You can serve it with the meal (use less sugar) or as a dessert or pie filling.Here’s the recipe.

Mix together and place in a casserole dish or pie shell:
3 cups mashed yams
1 cup brown sugar (use 1/2 cup if a main dish)
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix together and sprinkle over the top:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans. (for more flavor, roast the pecans in the oven before)
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until hot and browned.

I think you could substitute pumpkin, sweet potato or butternut squash for the yams in this casserole

Let me know of your success with any of these recipes.  Or if you have a special yellow veggie dish, send me the recipe.  I’d love to try it.

You can e-mail me at:

maybelle@wildsagepress.com

Thanksgiving Flowers
Rosemary and Mums

The Five Minute Breakfast

Healthy, quick and a bit unconventional!!!

I’ve never been a breakfast lover.  As a kid I didn’t like cereal, eggs or pancakes.  My favorite was a liverwurst sandwich which was not my Mom’s idea of a good morning start.  I like a breakfast that is simple to make and easy to clean up.  That way I have more time in the morning to get ready for the day.

For most of my adult life, I would rely on a cheese sandwich for my morning meal.  It was quick to make and very portable.  I could eat it in the car as I was driving to work.

About 20 years ago I discovered fruit-based breakfasts.  Ed and I were at Esalen in Big Sur, California.  Every morning their breakfast table would include a sumptuous array of fresh seasonal fruits.  I would load up my plate with three or four fruits and add a hard-cooked egg for protein.  It was simple and very satisfying.

When I got back home, I began to have fruit plates for breakfast, but substituted a handful of nuts (almonds or walnuts) for the egg.  It was portable, nutritious, tasty and quick!

To keep myself from getting into a breakfast “rut” I sometimes cook rice, oat groats or steel cut oats in broth.  I season them in a savory fashion with onion, garlic and soy sauce as I do not care for most breakfast sweets (other than fruit).  They can also be cooked in coconut or almond milk or fruit juice and sweetened with honey or agave. Fresh or dried fruits and nuts make for a delicious concoction.

Several years ago I discovered “congee”, a savory rice gruel.  It has become a favorite breakfast food.  I cook half a cup of brown rice in about 5 cups of water (or broth).  I add a chopped onion and a generous amount of garlic and cook it for 1.5 – 2 hours until the rice has broken down and the fluid has a creamy texture.  Often I’ll add chopped spinach, grated carrot, bits of leftover chicken and grated ginger.  I use salt, soy sauce and sesame oil to enhance the flavor.  I store the congee in the refrigerator.  A serving takes a microwave minute to warm up.  When I have leftovers (even soggy salad) I will add them.  Just writing this up makes my mouth water!!

This week I am breakfasting on cold steel cut oats cooked for about 35 minutes with onion and garlic and stored in the refrigerator.  I could cover it with milk or broth and microwave it.  But I discovered that I love eating it as cold “paste”.  So that’s another very fast breakfast with very little clean-up.  I cook oat groats in a similar fashion, but they take up to two hours to become soft and chewy.  A friend with cholesterol issues found that she had lowered her numbers by eating oat groats every day.

I also love smoothies for breakfast but they take more prep and clean-up time.  Yes, I am lazy in the morning!!!!  I make smoothies with my blender.  I always use banana, apple and some fluid such as fruit juice, almond milk or cocoanut milk.  Favorite additions to that base are watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries and spinach.  Any or all work.  For extra protein, I add yogurt or protein powder, and I always use a few ice cubes to create a nice chilled drink.

Using these approaches my breakfast has been transformed into an enjoyable morning event!!

Family Dinners:

When we retired twenty years ago, I made it clear that I did not want the full-time responsibility of meal planning and preparation.  My husband and I have worked out a wonderful way of sharing meal preparation.   We each are responsible for getting our own breakfast and lunch, but we take turns cooking the evening meal for a whole week at a time.

The week that we cook we are responsible for everything – shopping, cooking and clean-up.  This approach has so many benefits – the week you don’t cook you are a guest in your own home.  We both agreed at the onset that the “cook” was not obligated to prepare “gourmet fare”.  On a busy day one could rely on “take-out”, “eat-out” or pantry foods such as scrambled eggs, tuna sandwiches or even a TV dinner or cereal!!

I find that the week I cook, it becomes a lot more fun because it feels like I am starting a fresh page for the week’s meals.  The week that I am in charge, I “own” the kitchen including the pantry and refrigerator, left-overs etc.

With this approach I really enjoy cooking because I know I don’t have to do it all the time. I’ve become much more adventuresome in trying out new recipes because I am more willing to invest extra time in meal planning and shopping.

Corn-on-the-cob:

Recently I learned a really fun way to cook corn on the cob:

  1.   Rinse the unshucked ear of corn.
  2. Chop off the stem leaving the husk whole.
  3. Place the whole ear in the microwave and cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Using a heat-proof glove (like ov-glove) remove the steaming ear.
  5. Hold it upright – stem end on the counter, and pluck off the husk.  Everything comes off – even the silk.  It’s such a great technique.
  6. The corn tastes really “corney” – especially with a little salt and butter!  YUM!