WORLD-SHARING 2.02.4 – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – July 9, 2018

What would you name the autobiography of your life?


Which do you prefer sweet, salty or buttery?

All of the above, in varying combinations. I do not, however, like “sweet-salty” combinations such as chocolate covered salty pretzels. I do like sweet-bitter combinations like bitter orange, lemon … to a point. I’m not an extremist. I don’t like intensely bitter orange or super-soured lemon. I sort of appreciate subtlety in foods.

As for buttery? Not so much these days. When I was younger and didn’t mind fatty foods, I was more butter-inclined. Fonder of “slathered in butter.” Not much these days. I’m more temperate. I like a little bit of this, that, and the other thing. Too much of any single thing is … well … too much of a good thing.

What’s the finest education?

For what? Law? Medicine? Software Engineering? Physics? High Mathematics? History? Economics?

Even amongst the top schools for each subject, you could argue which was which THE school. Do you like MIT or Cal Tech? Harvard or Yale? Cambridge or the Sorbonne? Julliard? Oberlin?

Photo: B. Kraft

I think the best education for me or you would be the best we could get out of what happens to be available. I’ve met some really ignorant PhDers and some incredibly smart people without any formal education.

Still, that being said, a really excellent education at a top school for whatever you are studying can’t possibly hurt, right? So if you can get into the right school, definitely go. And I don’t mean online. I mean GO. Because there’s more to college than classes.

What made you smile this past week?

When we got home from the hospital — it was a long day — I found a package. It was the fancy Red Sox 2018 shirt I ordered for Garry. A bit more than I would normally spend on a shirt, but I thought he needed something to perk up his world. He has been so worried about this surgery, he needed an “upper” and I thought this would be it.

You think? It certainly made Garry smile  😎



1. Do you enjoy food from countries that are not your own?

Absolutely. Most American food is boring. It is particularly boring locally. I have learned to cook Chinese, some West Indies dishes. Italian. Some Creole and French cuisine.

We both love Japanese food, but it’s expensive and most of the other food you can buy locally is awful. It’s not only not worth the money, it isn’t worth leaving home and going somewhere to eat it.

2. When you prepare a salad for yourself, do you rip your greens (lettuce, spinach, etc), or do you cut them?

It depends on how I feel at the moment. I’ve done both. But I do like the pieces small and tearing them seems to make them bigger than I find convenient.

3. There’s a saying that goes: “Life is short, eat dessert first.”  What do you think of that advice?

I think you are going to get fat that way.

4. Have you ever thrown spaghetti against the wall to test for doneness? — If it sticks, it’s done (so they say) — What other such kitchen habits might you have?

Yes. It turns out, it’s not the best way to test for the doneness of spaghetti, but it’s more fun than burning your fingers and getting a piece into your mouth to taste. Best way?

Time it. How long it should take is printed on the back of the bag or box. I like it NOT al dente, so I add a minute. Timers are great!

When it goes “ding,” it’s done. Remarkably, it works. No spaghetti stuck to the wall, no burned fingers or tongue. And the spaghetti or pasta is exactly the way you like it all the time.

5. How often do you eat fish?

At least two or three times a week. It depends on what is available at what price. It has been getting more and more expensive and if we keep polluting our oceans, fish may become a real delicacy.

6. When purchasing food for yourself, do you check the nutritional label? If so, what are you checking for?

No, because I buy raw food. I don’t buy almost any packaged food except for bread and pasta.

7. How often do you eat salad as a meal?

Almost never. I have it on the side, but too much roughage makes me sick.

8. Do you have any food quirks? For example: do you arrange a particular food in a certain way before eating? Or eat certain foods in a particular way every time? (i.e.: bite the heads off of gummy bears).

I don’t like anchovies, olives, or okra. I’m not overly fond of chocolate. I like vanilla and I like dessert sometimes. But I don’t need it and I don’t feel deprived if there’s no dessert.

9. When boiling water for pasta or whatnot, what are your “tricks” for keeping the water from boiling over?

Umm … don’t fill it up so high that it boils over?

10. Are there any recipes that have been passed down through the generations in your family? Have you passed them to anyone outside of your family? or are they a closely guarded secret?

No. My mother was an awful cook. Her best legacy was making it easier to learn to cook than eat her cooking. I bet that was the idea, too. She didn’t like cooking and by the time we were 10 or 11, we could all make our own meals. Anything but mom’s cooking.

11. In general, how do you feel about “diet” foods? Meaning: foods with artificial sweeteners or alternative fats in them. For example diet soda or low-fat muffins.

I use Splenda in my coffee. Otherwise, I don’t use any artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t help you keep thin. I have been my fattest when I was eating the most “diet food.” That stuff is evil.

12. Have you purchased food online? What do you think about that idea?

I buy spices online because I can buy large packages and it saves a ton of money. I also get better quality. Sometimes I buy fancy jams or marmalade from England, but that’s a special treat.


I also buy dog biscuits and dog food online because some of it isn’t available any other way. I can get larger quantities for less money — AND they deliver. I love delivery.

13. When cooking for you and yours, what kinds of experiments have you tried?

I try different kinds of spices, but I’m pretty good about knowing what goes with what, so it’s not much of an experiment. More like deciding how I want it to taste.

14. Do you now, or have you ever, grown or raised any of the food you eat?


15. Are you a vegetarian? If not, has the idea of becoming one ever crossed your mind?

I’ve thought about it, but haven’t done it. I probably never will, though we eat a lot less meat than we did.

16. When arranging the food on your plate, does everything have to be separated, or is it okay for your food to touch?

My pasta bowls

I don’t mind if food touches other food, but I hate mixing it all together. If I wanted it to taste like a stew, I would have cooked it that way.

17. When eating out, what foods on the menu might push you out of your comfort zone? (For example, pineapple on pizza makes some people twitch).

I just ate pineapple on a pizza. It was a first. It was okay. It’s not really my idea of pizza, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Just skip the olives, okra, or anchovies.

18. Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, what kinds of foods generally satisfy the craving?

I love dried fruit. And fresh fruit mixed with yogurt.

19. What foods (if any) do you like to mix that other people might find strange?

Nothing really. I like some things other people might not like, but that doesn’t make them strange. We all have specific taste and not liking — or liking — something different isn’t odd or strange. Unique maybe.

20. When eating out, at what kind of restaurant do you prefer to dine?


21. In general, how do you feel about organic food?

Nice when affordable. All our locally grown food is organic. It’s a valley “thing.” I think it’s because the water table is very high and everyone has a well. Fertilizer and insecticide are bad for well, river, and all water. I suspect that we are organic because we don’t want to poison our water.

22. What foods (if any) do you eat when you are happy or unhappy?

I sometimes forget to eat if I’m really happy. But I don’t eat for soul satisfaction anymore. My eating habits have changed a huge amount over the years. If you’d asked me these same question 10 or 15 years ago, you’d have gotten entirely different answers.

THINLY SLICED – Marilyn Armstrong


Yellow peppers

That’s about as Julienne as anything gets in this house. Actually, Julienne is almost always a preview to dicing, but I love the way it looks, all neatly stacked in a pile on the cutting board.

I use red, green, orange, and yellow peppers in a wide range of dishes. Not surprisingly, I’ve gotten good at cutting them. I’m also really fast. That’s probably why I tend to slice off my fingertips, too.

Oh well. It’s my sacrifice to the gods of cooking!

RDP #13 – SMORGASBORD – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #13 – Smörgåsbord

Finally, I can spell it! This is one of those words that has permanently escaped the grasp of my spelling.

I don’t have much to say about it, especially since the places that used to serve it seem to have disappeared. These days, we have “buffets,” also known as a huge table full of food, much of which I don’t like.

So I will pass on what my father said about “smorgasbord.”

Go for the expensive food first. They always put the cheap, filling food — potatoes and rice and such — at the beginning. By the time you get to the good food at the end of the table — where they have the shrimp and roast beef — you are already full. Eat the good stuff first.

I always go for the good stuff first. Just as well. I fill up really fast!


“A woman can never be too thin or too rich”

I could live easily with being too rich, but I have been too thin and it was not lovely. People were alarmed and frightened when they saw me. Of course, there was good reason for it because I was starving to death from a bad surgery that left me unable to absorb food.

When I hit 95 pounds and I had the distinct feeling I was actually dying — and I had no insurance — before Mass Health was functioning — somehow, I found a doctor who took me into the hospital and repaired me, told me to gain 30 pounds, preferably 40 — which took longer than it should have, but I’d forgotten how to eat. And no one sent me a bill.

Then I got cancer. They stuffed me full of chemicals and I put on 30 pounds faster than you can say FAT, FAT, FAT and there I have remained. Oddly, pretty much everyone said “You look SO much better! You looked ill before.” When size zero is too big, you probably need to put on few pounds.

I was still a size 2. I lost another 20 pounds after this.

I was not designed to be skinny and I was not built to be huge. I was built to be solid, which is what I currently am and probably will be. It has been a long time since my size changed.

The current belief that beauty and thinness are the same are an advertising thing. The clothing that comes out of design houses is built not only for thin women, but for tall ones. I’m short. I’m solid. I used to have a waistline but with age, it seems to have fallen down and become part of the top of my thighs. I didn’t know that could happen.

We need fewer Barbie dolls and clothing that looks good on real, live women who do things, like go grocery shopping and take walks with their dogs. And who eat a normal amount of food and even — AN OCCASIONAL DESSERT!

You can be too thin.

But too rich? I could probably live very nicely with too rich.


Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: SWEET

And all of the good stuff goes particularly well with coffee!

Home made pound cake … it’s a razor’s edge from being lethal!
Banana bread


We all have friends who do stuff we can’t do. They make a perfect pie crust and the filling is damned good too. They build their own furniture. Tune the car and reupholster the furniture.  They do a little painting, a bit of carving. Frame their own pictures. Repair anything that breaks. They are never worried about any problem because they know exactly what to do about it.

apple pie

These are the woman who breezily raise two kids after dad left while working full-time and never seemed overwhelmed … or even tired. Men who build companies, sell them, build another and don’t know why you can’t do the same. It’s so easy.

They throw great dinner parties where the food is delicious. The dishes match or are delightfully casual yet coördinated to look casual,– but you know they are designed to look that way. Because the casual look takes work.

stove and kitchen counter

When you ask about that wonderful pie crust, they say “Oh, it’s so easy. It’s just a bit of butter and flour. A bit of sugar. Cut everything up with a couple of butter knives, roll it out, and there you are.” If you are lucky, you get a demonstration and it does look easy. So, you go home, get all the ingredients together and give it a try. Which results in an unusable lump of muck which ultimately, you toss in the trash.

Thanksgiving dinner

After which you buy a pie crust or better yet, buy the whole pie. Because it isn’t so easy. Not for you, anyway.

Modest, humble people who do brilliant stuff about which they are completely offhand. They seem baffled why you would think any of it is a big deal. Apparently, it isn’t. To them.

To you, it would be a minor miracle if you could accomplish one little piece of it. Yet they will always say “It’s so easy. Anyone could do it.”

Except me. I can’t do it.