VERY THIN. VERY FAT. MOSTLY SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE. – Marilyn Armstrong

“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.

GOODNIGHT SWEET PRINCE … DON’T FORGET THE COFFEE

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

IT’S SO EASY …

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.

MORE STUFF – WORLD SHARING!

Share Your World – January 29, 2018


If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

Can I make that Amazon please? I would head for the cameras and computers and possibly automobiles. Maybe pick up a couple of trikes for Garry and I. I could spend a lot of money at Amazon. I’ve got some serious wish lists going.

Amazon boxes delivery

It’s also the only place I know that has pretty much everything I want — other than repairs for the house, though it does have parts I need to fix the house. And they deliver in 2 days! It doesn’t get better than that.

What is the worst thing you ate recently?

I do all the cooking and I cook pretty well. I can’t remember the last bad meal I’ve had.

oven rice counter
Dinner, anyone?

 

So I have to say there really isn’t any worst thing. I didn’t like the ginger jelly I bought, but it wasn’t terrible, just not as good as I had hoped.

Name five things you like watching … 

We are truly watchers of so many things it really would be impossible to name. But we are very fond of late night comedy — Colbert and Trevor Noah, for two. John Oliver for three. NCIS. We’ve been re-watching the entire “Blue Bloods” series.

trevor noah the daily show

Intermittently watching Voyager, but we aren’t finding it truly mesmerizing. We watch baseball in season. Football right now because there’s Tom Brady and even though we are more baseball than football fans, Brady is something to watch. rake tv show

a place to call home tv show

Lots of stuff on Acorn — “Doc Martin,” “A Place to Call Home.” “Rake” and “Murdoch’s Mysteries.” Too much to mention, but if it was made in New Zealand, Canada, or Australia, we are probably watching it now — or already did.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

Went to the doctor and discovered I’m alive! That’s right folks. I’m still here. It turns out those pains in my hand are (gasp) arthritis AND carpal tunnel syndrome. Considering I’ve been playing the piano since I was four and touch-typing since I was 10, it’s amazing my hands have lasted this long. We’re going to try braces and see if that helps. Otherwise, I suppose I’ll have to get the carpal tunnel surgery, but that won’t solve the arthritis problem.

Healthy Trail

Mostly, though, I’m doing okay. For me. Given one thing and another. This is as healthy as I’ve been in a few years.

doctor's office window
Doctor’s office window

Not exactly ready to run the marathon, but most of my parts are working pretty well, all things considered. I can’t remember anything — which is apparently perfectly normal. I have a chronic sinus thing — since forever — and it will never go away. I can usually breathe . My blood pressure with medication is within acceptable limits. And I got back the reflexes in both feet and knees after years of not having reflexes there. Remitting, recurring, remitting …

So, I’ll probably be annoying you with my posts for years to come. You’re not going to get rid of me that quickly!

AN INKLING OF GREAT DINING — ELSEWHERE

If you are looking for a great meal and a fantastic place to eat it, the Blackstone Valley isn’t IT.

We can find a few diners that are good and at least one interesting hot dog joint in Worcester … but otherwise? Let me give you a hint — an inkling — of great dining you won’t find here. Or anywhere in the area, including Boston.

Rich’s post today on his home blog brought me waves of nostalgia about food in Jerusalem. When I first moved there, I was lost. I couldn’t cook because I didn’t recognize the packaging and things were usually just a little different that they had been back in the States. Eventually, I worked it out and became a better cook than I’d been at home because I no long relied on prepackaged ingredients. I learned to make everything “from scratch.”

When I first got to Israel, I didn’t even know what good food meant. Eventually I discovered a million tiny restaurants tucked into neighborhoods all over the city, all with the name “Mother” in title.

Sure enough, Mom was the head cook. She had a few daughters and maybe a niece or two working their way up — as well as half a dozen sons and nephews handling the serving, busing, management, shopping … and cleaning. Restaurants — the good ones — were family affairs and ALL of them were good.

Dishes were some version of Middle Eastern Jewish — meaning no pork or dairy in it, but that was no problem. Muslims don’t eat pork either and dairy isn’t generally a part of dinner anyway.

The absolutely best food EVER was served by friends and neighbors on Shabbat.  Our Moroccan neighbors with whom Owen played could cook. I don’t know if every family were quite as brilliant as those neighbors on Hebron Road, but … OH my LORD.

Owen got to eat out pretty much every Friday night. His friends mothers loved him. “Look at that tall skinny kid — doesn’t anybody FEED HIM?” They could feed him to death and he’d roll home and tell us about it. I’d drool.

Middle eastern food is labor intensive to a degree that is hard to explain. It takes days to make all those little chopped up dishes that are wrapped in couscous or grape leaves or some light yet delightfully crunchy cover. Served plain — with a sauce — or as part of a soup.

We called those skinny roll-ups in thin filo dough “cigarettes” which they resembled in form, but too delicious to describe.

Everything was chopped, seasoned, sometimes cooked, sometimes semi-raw or entirely raw, and  wrapped. Then there were the sauces ranging from red (hot) to green (blow your head off hot). Owen learned to love ALL of it. I never quite made it to the green stuff, but I loved the red sauce.

It’s a very short hop to vegetarian or Vegan cooking, too. Meat isn’t the big issue in any of these dishes. In these native lands, meat was in short supply, which is why is was shredded and chopped. A single chicken could serve a lot of people that way.

There were some other foods, too. Israel adopted a bunch of Vietnam boat people who had nowhere else to go, so they took over opening oriental restaurants. Some were pretty good, some not so great, but at least it was different.

Italian was popular:  Kosher which meant meatless because the cheese was more important than the meat — or non Kosher. But it wasn’t as good as Italian restaurants in New York. Then again, few Italian restaurants are as good as they were in NY, unless you went to Italy where my mother assured me you would find the BEST food in the world. She used to diet in advance of traveling to Italy because she always came back 10 pounds heavier.

In Israel, though, the  great food was “tribally” local. Moroccan, Tunisian, Syrian, Persian, Algerian and sometimes Kenyan or generally Arabian — everything was GREAT. Also expensive. Eating out was surprisingly expensive, so getting an invitation from a neighbor was like getting invited to the best restaurant in town. Better, really.

I miss the food. I can make just about the best humus you’ve ever eaten, but the rest of it the food requires mother and three well-trained daughters — and about a week to prepare it. You don’t see that around here. Maybe in other cities, but not in New England.

We settle for good Japanese food. Sushi and tempura and anything that comes in rolls. But so far, not very good Chinese. There were some wonderful Chinese restaurants in Boston, but not out here.

That both Garry and I have eaten some amazing food in amazing places probably explains why we find most of the local eateries uninspiring, to say the least. Other than a couple of Japanese places, we haven’t found anywhere worth the price. Food is bland and the preparation is uninspiring. As for Italian, try mine. Much better. For that matter, try my son’s. His is much better, too. We do not live in great dining out territory.

I’m told there are good Indian places in Worcester and in Providence, but we don’t like a lot of traveling for dinner. I don’t mind going, but when we’re full of food, we don’t want a long trip home.

Retirement, you know?

100 YEARS OF HOT DOGS IN WORCESTER

GEORGE’S CONEY ISLAND HOT DOGS, WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS


It’s an old place, built 100 years ago in 1918. It’s got the biggest neon sign in Massachusetts and for the first time in memory, probably because the place is 100 years old this month, it has made the news. It’s a fun place to go for lunch and while it might not be the best frankfurters on earth (I still think that goes to Nathan’s in the real Coney island), they’re still good to eat. Also, the ambiance is fantastic and Garry — our hot dog maven — says the dogs more than good enough. He should know. They are his favorite all-American food!

Everyone goes there. It’s not expensive and it is basically the same place they built back in 1918. Rather than “renovated,” this place was preserved. The wood is original. The tin ceiling is original. I think the owners are original, or at least original descendants of the folks who built it.

When you see the neon sign at night with the mustard dripping in bright yellow neon lights onto the neon hot dogs, it makes your hard go pit-a-pat.

There’s more!

The walls are so carved with memories, they are as American artistic experience.

George’s Coney Island  is alive and well  in nearby Worcester, Massachusetts. If you are interested, click the link. There’s a lot of information about it online. Reviews are available. It’s definitely worth the trip and you’ll love that astonishing, amazing neon sign!

REVISED REVISITED GINGERBREAD – THE JANUARY RECIPE

It has been cold and really nasty out. Garry went out and unasked, shoveled the walk again. This was very brave considering the near zero temperature.

I decided to warm him up with gingerbread. I thought I had everything, but I turned out to be 1/4 cup short of molasses and I decided to use my mixer instead of beating it by hand with a wooden spoon. I think it’s less complicated and less messy using a spoon, but this certainly produced a much smoother batter. Which took an extra 10 minutes to bake.

Was it the beating that did it? Extra air in the batter? Maybe the eggs were too big? 


The NEW REVISED RECIPE for GINGERBREAD

This a very fine, old-fashioned recipe. I bake it in a loaf pan in a counter-top electric oven and it takes between 40 and 50 minutes at 370 to 375 degrees.  You can use a regular baking pan and a standard full-size oven, but you will probably need to change the oven temperature to whatever works in your oven. Hopefully, you know your oven and whether it should be turned up or down.

This is not a difficult recipe. It pretty much always comes out well, even if you make mistakes. It can take as long as 50 minutes or as few as 42 and sometimes. I’m not sure what makes the difference.

Baking is like that. When I baked bread, I always had to check and make sure it was done, even when I baked the loaf in the same oven using an identical recipe to the previous time. Ovens don’t always seem to run exactly the same from use to use — or maybe there are tiny differences in the way you prepare something that changes something ineffable in the batter.

I should have taken the pictures before I lopped off two big pieces, but it was hot and it smelled SO good …

I think the batch I made today took 50 minutes (a little more?), about 8 minutes more than last time and for the final 10 minutes, I had to turn the temperature up higher.

Identical never really is, you know. Ovens running at the same temperature may not really be exactly the same each time … which is why owning an oven thermometer is a good idea. I had one, but it died and I haven’t gotten around to replacing it. In any case, I don’t think it would work in the mini-oven.

Also, flour varies from use to use, even when it all came in the same bag. Eggs are different sizes. Mixing versus beating changes things. This use, the molasses seemed thinner, though it came in the same bottle as the last batch. Room temperature? Take your best guess.

I check for doneness by pressing lightly on the top. If it springs immediately back, it’s done. If not, it goes back in the oven and damn the recipe. Also, look to see if the edges have pulled away from the pan — another sign of whatever it is being fully baked. I don’t use toothpicks to check for doneness because sometimes, poking deflates it. I know that’s what cookbooks recommend, but it doesn’t work for me.

2-1/2 cups flour (sift or not, I don’t sift.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup melted butter or other shortening (I use corn oil)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup very hot water (not boiling) from the tap.

Note: I ran short of molasses and used 1/4 cup of Vermont maple syrup to make up the difference. The result is delicious. Maybe that’s why it took longer to bake?

I put everything in together then mix or beat it. It honestly doesn’t seem to make much difference how you do it, but beaten using a mixer produces a smoother batter. And seems to take a longer to bake.

Pour it in either a greased loaf pan or a Teflon loaf pan. I’m a dedicated Teflon user and I’m not sure if a greased pan would change baking time … but I do know you need to use a slightly hotter oven if you’re using a glass dish.

Preheat the oven before you bake. That does make a difference. A big difference.

Serve it hot or cold, it’s good any way you eat it.  Anything left over will go great with coffee in the morning.  Traditionally, it’s served with honey butter, but it’s delicious alone. The smell of it as it bakes gets every nose in the house twitching. Especially the dogs.

I should mention this is not the kind of gingerbread out of which you build houses, though I suppose you could fiddle with the recipe and see how it goes.

This gingerbread is for eating.