IT’S APPLE SEASON! TIME FOR WALDORF SALAD – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve always loved Waldorf salad. It was originally made at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhatten in 1893 and it has been really popular ever since,

It’s probably my favorite salad and the only reason I don’t make it more often (it’s pretty easy) because usually, I’m missing a key ingredient. Like apples, walnuts, or celery. In this case, I already had apples and walnuts, so I sent Garry to the store for some sour cream, celery, and raisins.

Some people serve it in layers with lettuce as a “cup” at the base, then the apples, nuts, celery, and raisins plus a big dollop of dressing on top and a drizzle of brown sugar on top. That’s too much like dessert for a dinner dish, at least for me.

It is a great light dinner for a hot summer day, though you really can’t get good apples until September. Crunchy apple are the difference.

What kind of apples? Green, red, yellow, but most important: CRISP. I’m not a big MacIntosh fan. I think they are a bit too mushy. I prefer Gala and Macoun. Even Empires which are maybe a little bit too hard, so you’d probably have to cut them into smaller pieces. You can also use a mix of whatever your favorites happen to be.

Also, I know my husband. He mixes everything anyway, even when I don’t want him to because I think he should taste each item separately. That’s when I’m being fancy, which gets increasingly rare as the years trundle along.

At least one person suggested adding truffles. I have never eaten a truffle. I think a truffle costs more than gold, so I’ll skip it, thanks. It’s not part of the original recipe either. There is an almost unlimited number of ways you can dress this up or down. I like it the way I make it, which is pretty much the same way as it was made in the late 1800s.

A few things have changed over the years, mostly the dressing. People get very creative with the dressing. I don’t get all that creative because I basically like the original recipe, which is mayonnaise. All mayonnaise.

These days, many cooks use vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt. Or sour cream. Or a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise. I got funky and went with a combination of avocado-oil mayonnaise and sour cream (50-50), but that’s my choice. You can make your own choice.

Also, I used raisins because I prefer them to sliced up grapes.

So here’s my recipe, made the easy way because all of my recipes are easy to make and even easier to clean up afterward. You can serve this as a light dinner or as a side dish. It’s a nice lunch, too.

This recipe makes enough for 4 as a side dish, two as a dinner dish.

Ingredients:

Three apples (green or red or yellow or one of each). Cut them into small pieces. Don’t peel them but remove the core.

1/2 fresh lemon

1/2 cup raisins (dark or yellow, take your pick)

3/4 cup slightly crushed walnuts

Half a cup of very thinly sliced celery

1 egg white

Spice mix: Sugar, a pinch of cumin, a pinch or two of hot paprika. You can sprinkle the spices on the walnuts of put the walnuts in the spices.

Directions:

Cut up the apples. Put them in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the apples to keep them from turning brown

Put an egg white in a small dish. Mix the walnuts with the egg white. Pour off any spare egg white. You only need the egg white to make the walnuts sticky enough to put the spices on them.

In a small pan (line the pan with aluminum foil to avoid extra washing), mix the walnuts with the spices and put them in a toaster oven, put them in it for four minutes at medium heat. If you don’t have a toaster oven (doesn’t everyone have one?) you can put them in a full-size oven — or throw them in a pan on the stove (use a little olive oil so they won’t stick). Toast for three or four minutes. NOT longer. Don’t let them burn.

Slice a few small pieces of celery as thin as possible. Throw them in with the apples and mix. When you are done toasting the walnuts, mix them in with the apples too. Add the raisins to the bowl with the apples, celery, and walnuts. Mix.

Dressing:

I used 1 cup of 1/2 cup avocado-oil mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of sour cream.

You are supposed to serve it in a “cup” of Romaine lettuce. I didn’t have any lettuce and it tasted fine free of lettuce. If you prefer using yogurt, that’s okay with me.

We had it for dinner because Garry was starving and this was ready to eat. It was delicious. Garry got over-excited and bit his tongue. Ouch.

Some people serve this with cold cooked chicken and other people add salt and pepper. I forgot the salt and pepper and didn’t miss it. I also didn’t have any chicken. Someone weird suggested adding marshmallows but she must have had too many small children. Marshmallows do NOT belong in a salad.

Finished!

You can add sunflower seeds. You can use pecans or almonds instead of walnuts. Just not peanuts — they have the wrong flavor.  You can get very fancy, but I have no patience for fancy anymore. I’m just glad when things come out well and we enjoy eating it.

If you want more, you can double the recipe, or just add more of each item. It’s easy to make, it tastes great and it’s sort of like a desert, but without all the sugar and fat.

HOW MUCH IS THREE-QUARTERS? – Marilyn Armstrong

I was out of lunch meat, so Garry went to the deli. It was Monday and they were out of everything except (sigh) turkey breast. Not my favorite, but I’m betting today is a delivery day.

Garry asked the newest lady at the counter for 3/4 of a pound of turkey breast.

Like a deer caught in headlights, she was lost. She could probably “do” a pound — or half a pound. But what was 3/4? She obviously didn’t recognize it as 75% of a pound, or even that it’s likely the line between the half pound and full pound markers.

Schools don’t teach math in any way that might be useful to those they have taught. They have gotten into systems so complicated that no one under 40 can do any math in their head. They need a calculator. Even to subtract one number from another. Oh, and they can’t count on their fingers.

Eventually, the boss stopped what he was doing and came over to rescue her.

Garry came home. He commented that there’s a scale and surely the young women (in her 20s) could tell that there was a line between half a pound and one pound and that would be the three-quarter, right?

Wrong. She doesn’t know that 3/4 (of one) = 75% (of one). Have you ever tried to explain to a clerk how to turn 99-cents into a dollar?

“Look, I’ll give you a penny and you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

“So that means that if I give you a penny, you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

This is because she doesn’t understand that 100 cents (pennies) equal one dollar. We are worried that our “below age 40” youngsters aren’t going to vote. I’m beginning to worry that they can’t think. Apparently, thinking is no longer taught in any school. So if you don’t get a head start at home with the whole “thinking” thing? You’re doomed.

Vote? If they don’t know that 99-cents plus a penny equal a dollar, how can we expect them to vote? Or have a grip on the issues? Or even know what kind of government we have or want?

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: What’s For Dinner

It’s been an interesting eating week. I got tired of cooking. To be fair, I’ve been tired of cooking for at least 10 years, but Garry doesn’t cook and apparently, isn’t planning to learn. I decided to try something new and buy a lot of cold food we can use for salads and sandwiches.

I was going to cook some redfish for dinner, but I’m tired and headachy, so I made sandwiches and the fish will wait for tomorrow. I’m not all that fond of redfish anyway, even if it is from the Gulf of Maine.

I THINK I’M TIRED – Marilyn Armstrong

I blame it on the dogs. Basically, I blame everything on the dogs, but this one is actually their fault. Specifically, it’s Bonnie’s fault because she is the nonstop barker.

Bonnie the unstoppable barker

We have lots of other issues, but if Bonnie did not feel — after sleeping through the night like a rock — the need to bark continuously from dawn onward, I’m pretty sure I’d have a better perspective on life in general.

Duke

After three hours of intermittent barking — she has a routine. A few barks to wake me up, five to ten minutes of peace which is exactly enough time for me to drift off — after which the barking recommences. This goes on and on for hours.

This makes me cranky. It doesn’t wake Garry because he’s not wearing hearing aids. It is all aimed at me. I’m pretty sure if I ever got a complete night of sleep, I’d feel better. I could be wrong, but I believe sleeping an entire night would help.

If the weather is nice, Garry will (when poked) put them and their water outside. Sometimes, when he does this, I sleep for almost the whole day. I’ve got a lot of broken nights with which to catch up.

So that’s bad enough, but we haven’t really gone seriously shopping for about a month. We’ve just been “filling in” shopping. A little of this, a replacement for that. Mostly, I didn’t mind because it’s summer and we don’t eat as much as we do in colder weather.

Cheese!

Yesterday’s conversation about cheese woke up my taste buds. By the time I got through looking at pictures of cheese, thinking about cheese, wondering if there was new cheese just waiting for me to try … I needed cheese.  I wanted Brie, Jarlsberg, Bleu cheese, and Cheddar. I wanted pub cheese, but without the hot peppers.

Moreover, I wanted sharp flavored cold cuts. I’m trying out the hot capicola ham as well as a couple of types of salami. I thought they would all go well with any kind of cheese. I also wanted sliced cucumbers and ripe tomatoes with Asian Ginger dressing to drizzle on the big, flat Portabella mushrooms.

Raw edible portabello mushrooms with herbs on wooden board

I even bought a new kind of pepper that’s a combination of red and yellow. It looks like Van Gogh painted it. And bright yellow summer squash with fresh redfish from the Bay of Maine.

We really went shopping. Which means I had to go through the fridge and throw away all the stuff that was never getting eaten and Garry had to haul the wagon upstairs three times, which is a lot of hauling. Now, though, he only hauls it to the main floor entry and I run it upstairs on the chair lift. (They have many uses.)

When I finally managed to find places to put everything, I realized I was exhausted. I had moved was past tired to a new place. Good thing dinner was simple. Sesame crackers, pub cheese, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, plus hot capicola and a side of ginger ale.

I have fresh cherries, plums, and strawberries waiting for me, too.

While realizing I was seriously tired, I also realized Duke’s tick collar was too tight. He isn’t fat, but he has thickened up. He has a mastiff head these days to go with the pushed in muzzle and lopsided ears. I’d love to see his DNA.

I couldn’t loosen the tick collar and eventually had to cut it off. I realized that quite likely Bonnie and Gibbs need new collars too, so I sighed and ordered three of them. Back to broke. Again.

My right wrist has had it. My right shoulder is patched with lidocaine and the rest of me is full of Tramadol. I might be fine if only Bonnie would let me sleep!

ADULTING 101 – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I read a fascinating article from Today, on Facebook. It was written by Meghan Holohan on March 29, 2019, and is titled “ ‘Adulting’ Class at Kentucky high school teaches crucial life skills.”

What a great concept! I’ve always thought high schools and colleges should offer life skills classes so kids aren’t left totally unprepared when they move into adulthood (that is if their parents don’t prepare them, which most don’t).

In the Kentucky school, ‘Adulting’ seminars were offered and the response was overwhelming and positive. Parents were as thrilled as the kids when the project started blowing up on the internet. Seniors could choose three out of eleven workshops to attend with the goal of gaining more general knowledge and specific skills needed to help them navigate their lives after high school.

The classes offered were awesome and totally practical. Some of them were: Dorm Room Cooking, How To Interact With the Police (I’m assuming it’s an inner city school), Healthy Relationships and Boundaries, It’s Money, Baby, i.e. Personal Finance, Writing a Resume and Cover Letter, Filling out an Application, Basics of Checking and Savings and When you Need to See A Doctor.

The first class to fill up was dorm room cooking. The Police were the second most popular and the third was Healthy Relationships. Apparently, a lot of young girls were not sure how and when to set boundaries in a relationship and what you should and should not expect — or accept — in a relationship. If you don’t see good relationships in your life, I guess you need to be taught what a good one looks like and how to get it. Very sad.

This school’s adulting classes are hopefully the start of a new trend. I looked online and found an adulting class for millennials that teaches them ‘survival’ skills like monthly budgeting and how to open a wine bottle with a cork. A library in Oregon offers “Adulting 101: Basic How-To’s for ages 16-25.”

Apparently, neither mainstream schools or parents are preparing kids to take on the world beyond home and high school.

I’ve read several conflicting explanations for why kids today seem so clueless when it comes to basic adulthood skills. Some blame it on the fact that so many kids continue to live at home through their 20’s, and even later. But one article pointed out that in the 1940s, people lived at home in even larger numbers and for even longer periods than recent generations. But those kids also did chores and were given adult responsibilities while at home, so making it in the real world was not a problem for them when the time came.

That points to late 20th-century parenting as the problem.

One author argues that both parents usually have to work crazy hours just to provide good lives for their families, so no one has time to teach life skills to their kids. Another author blames helicopter or snowplow parents who treat their kids like delicate, pampered snowflakes, do everything for them and expect nothing from them.

Another school of thought blames high schools, which used to teach skills like cooking, shop, and bookkeeping but now don’t. My husband had a great home economics class and learned how to cook as a teenager. He was the only boy in a class full of girls! Win, win!

Another author argues that every generation of young adults is equally ignorant of life skills and that most people learn them in the field, as adults. I had never cooked a thing until I reached law school and had my first apartment. Many kids don’t have their own checkbooks when they live with their parents and so they don’t learn how to manage one until they are living and working on their own.

I’m not sure which theory I believe, but I agree with the person who said that whatever the root causes of their egregious lack of ‘adult’ knowledge, the kids today should be commended for trying to learn what they realize they don’t know.

Hopefully, there will be a big spike in enrollment in the Adulting School that has opened, which offers classes in cooking, sewing, and basic conflict resolution. I know some adults who could use those classes. I know many career women who don’t know the first thing about cooking, except ordering out. I still can’t balance a checkbook.

Where do I sign up?

THE JOY OF COOKING SHOWS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

The less I cook, the more I watch cooking shows on TV. I particularly love baking shows and I haven’t baked in years. But I’m obviously not watching these shows to improve my cooking skills or to learn new techniques or even to collect new recipes. I think for me, it’s more of an outlet.

I did once replay a Bobby Flay show a few times so I could write down his recipe for baked meatballs. We still use this as our go-to meatball recipe and it comes out great every time. But that was the exception, not the rule.

Bobby Flay

Since menopause, I’ve had to watch my weight (I fortunately never had to before).

I gain easily so I had to pay attention to what and how much I ate. Then over a year ago, I had to start taking Prednisone and I slowly gained ten pounds over the course of 15 months. This is a common side effect of Prednisone. Most people gain a lot more than I did, but I was actively ‘dieting’ to keep the weight gain down to a minimum.

This is particularly frustrating because I love food – I love to eat and I love to cook. I once created a whole line of baked goods for a business that never took off. I’ve put together several of my own cookbooks and I used to constantly look for new recipes to add to them.

One of my own recipe collections

I tried to cook something ‘interesting’ every night when my husband was still working and I came up with creative ways to use leftovers. Recently my husband was warned he was about to become pre-diabetic. He had to lose weight, cut down on sugar and alcohol to prevent it from happening.

He lost 30-pounds and is now as obsessed with maintaining his weight as I am. So no more rich sauces and cheesy dishes for us!

Recipes I adapted or created for my defunct English Dessert business

We got an air fryer (which I highly recommend) so we can still have French Fries and crispy chicken wings without any fat. But most nights we eat plain grilled meat, a baked potato, and vegetables.

Tom does the grilling and I occasionally roast something in the oven or cook an actual vegetable recipe, as opposed to plain, boiled or steamed veggies.

Air Fryer

But my love of food and creative cooking has not diminished. So I get my foodie fix by watching TV. My favorite shows these days are The Great British Baking Show, The Best Baker in America, Masterchef, and Masterchef Junior and Top Chef. I find that these shows have the best cooks and bakers and the nicest contestants.

The level of skill and knowledge is very high, as is the spirit of camaraderie as well as competition. The plating and decorating is usually impeccable and creative. Also, the shows have the classiest hosts and judges and the best production values.

Best Baker in America winner last season

I’m still amazed that an eight or nine-year-old can bake a macaroon or an éclair without a recipe, in one hour, even if they’ve never made one before. The amount of baseline skill and knowledge this implies is mind-boggling. The complex and imaginative dishes the food show contestants come up within an hour or less blows me away. I can’t seem to create dishes in anything in less than an hour and my dishes are far from sophisticated, mouth-watering of beautiful to look at.

Masterchef Junior contestants

These cooking competitions are at a level way above mine. I couldn’t even begin to copy any of their recipes. Tom and I have always longed to learn how to plate elegantly, but we’ve never gone beyond making a vegetable puree and serving it under each piece of protein, a common practice on cooking shows.

The decorations on TV seem to require lots of planning and extra ingredients and we never seem to get around to even trying. I wouldn’t know where to start making those colorful ‘drops’ that appear on so many artistic plates. And who keeps fresh parsley around just to use as a garnish? I buy it if I need it for a specific dish and it only lasts a day or so in the fridge before it wilts and becomes useless.

I love watching skilled people, even amateurs, do their magic in the kitchen. I love hearing the judges’ critiques, which teach me what the dishes are supposed to look and taste like.

While I’m not going to try to duplicate what I see, I am a more educated restaurant goer and a more attentive home cook. That, along with the hours of enjoyment I get watching my cooking shows, is enough.

RDP Saturday: GOURMAND

SHRIMP SKIMP – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Skimp

“What is this?” she asked him as he portioned out dinner on the plates.

“Hot and sour Chinese fried shrimp,” he said proudly.

“I sense the Chinese part, although as hot and sour goes, it’s not really that,” she commented, “But where is the shrimp? And for that matter, are we out of hot sauce too?”

“We were a bit short on shrimp. I couldn’t work out the sour part, so I just made do with what we had. Since I skimped on the shrimp, I added extra vegetables.”

“I haven’t found a single shrimp yet.”

“Maybe I skimped a bit too much,” he admitted and went fishing in the pan. “Here’s one,” he announced proudly. “Wait a minute, I think I see another one in there. No, that’s a water chestnut. There’s got to be another one in here somewhere…” as he trailed off.

“Listen. You can cook anything any way you like,  but if you don’t have the ingredients, maybe try a different dish?”

“Okay. We’re having hot and sour fried mystery shrimp with Chinese vegetables. Is that better?”

“It isn’t hot. It isn’t sour. And you didn’t fry anything,” she pointed out, using her well-worn chopsticks as she plowed through dinner. “It tastes okay, but you need a new recipe name. It is shrimpless. Fundamentally, it’s missing all the key ingredients. It tastes okay, but… Well, I’m not sure what it is, exactly. Pass the hot sauce. Maybe use chicken next time? You won’t have to skimp quite as much.”

EASTER AND PASSOVER: JOINED AT THE HIP – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: EGG

Last night, I made French toast — pain perdu — for dinner. I don’t know how they serve it in France, but here, it gets served with bacon on the side and real, Vermont maple syrup on top.

It is delicious and more like dessert than dinner.

Dinner or breakfast, it’s delicious

Over the years, eggs have been good for you, bad for you, terrible for you, good for you, excellent for you … and here in New England, brown ones are supposed to be healthier than white ones. I have no idea if there’s any truth to that because I always buy the cheapest eggs I can, but always large ones because one day I came home with medium-sized eggs and my granddaughter refused to even speak to me.

My Easter eggs never looked this good!

She really loved eggs and she though buying small eggs was cruel and unusual breakfast.

A very modern Seder plate

It can also be pretty funny

This week is Passover and Easter. They always come at the same time because “The Last Supper” was a Seder during Passover, so this is one of those times when Christians have to examine (if they think about it and I’m pretty sure most of them don’t) their Jewish roots. There are hard-boiled eggs on the Passover table too, by the way. Just so you know, this is a very eggy week.

A Seder table – More work than you ever imagined for a single meal!

Personally, I ignore warnings about eggs. I don’t eat them every day and never did. Also, I figure a house that has eggs and bread will never be hungry.

The eggs of the bunny?

Happy whatever you celebrate and happy whatever you do not celebrate. And enjoy your eggs. I add a hint of vanilla extract to the beaten eggs and it definitely adds a certain “Je ne sais quoi” to the French toast.

Oh, almost forgot: I shake a LOT of cinnamon on the bread as it is frying. How wrong can you go with vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup?

WIFED OUT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Paltry

I opened the freezer. It was empty.

Not completely empty. There’s always some kind of stuff in there. Freezer pouches for our next picnic, should we ever take one. Some frozen French fries. A pouch of frozen clams and a packet of minced beef. Miscellaneous English muffins and a loaf of bread.

The refrigerator is a lot more full. Mostly with drinks. Fruit juice, Powerade, Ginger Ale. Potatoes, onions, mayonnaise, ketchup, eggs. Lunch meat.

Leftovers for the dogs or what we call “the important food.” So even if we weren’t having company tomorrow, we’d have had to shop today because we had none of the makings of what I humorously call “dinner.” I’ve considered switching to the British style for the evening meal and calling it “Tea,” then serving tea with toast. I don’t think that would go over really big.

I used to like grocery shopping or at least like it a lot more than I do now. Probably I liked it more because I liked cooking more. I can hardly remember liking cooking less than I currently do.

Ironically I am a better cook than I was. I’m faster, neater, very sure-handed and I do not make a mess. But when the time comes to extract myself from whatever I’m doing, regardless of how paltry and meaningless the activity is, I don’t want to.

I’m cooked out. Whatever you can make easily for two people from any food you can readily buy at normal prices in Uxbridge, we’ve eaten it too many times. We are suffering from a serious case of diner’s ennui.

A few months back, I subscribed to Martha Stewart’s Cooking newsletter because I thought maybe it might give me a bright and shiny idea for something to make in the kitchen.

I won’t read the newsletter. I see the word “cook” and instantly delete it. Apparently, I do not want to be stimulated to greater creativity in the kitchen. What I really want is to be excused from cooking. Completely. Permanently.

I’ve been making meals for me and a husband, kids, friends, and family for more than 50 years. From now until forever, I could live on sandwiches and air-fried onion rings and be content.

Sad, but true.

I’m all wifed out.

OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Optional

After getting up a dozen times this morning to try and convince Bonnie to stop barking — which only something crunchy will accomplish, it would seem — I began to wish I was deaf, too.

Normally when I get up in the morning, I take out something to defrost for dinner but I decided today is optional. I’m not doing squat. I am tired. I’m frustrated. I don’t want to cook dinner, put away laundry, or clean anything.

I’m sure by tomorrow, I’ll manage to get past this, but right now, I am feeling as un-housewifely as I ever have. Am I the last woman of my age who cooks dinner — a hot dinner — every night unless I’m hospitalized? Do other people get a day off sometimes?

Is any woman married to a man who actually recognizes that dirt is not something to be ignored because you-know-who will take care of it, but actually cleans it? Just wondering.

So today in Optional Sunday. I will do as little as I can. I might even go TWO days and option Monday, too. I think I’ll call it “Marilyn’s Weekend.”

EFFORT OR DOING IT THE HARD WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: EFFORT

As one of those people who has usually found an “easy” or at least “easier” way to do things, I’ve noticed as the year advanced, there are no more easy ways. The shortcuts don’t seem to work anymore and one is left with effort, or as I call it, doing it the hard way.

Let’s take cooking as an example. Back in the very long ago old days, I threw stuff together and it tasted pretty good, or so everyone said. I used a ton of prepared — cans and packaged — ingredients. That was just fine.

Maybe it’s the quality of prepared food that has degenerated. Or maybe my taste has become more discerning, but I use as little prepared stuff in my cooking as I can manage without getting weird about it. I cook food in the least amount of time I can and make sure to clean as I go to avoid leaving a mess behind, but I cook foods from scratch or very close to it.

I don’t, for example, peel my own tomatoes for sauces or grate the parmesan personally. but I use prepared marinades and breadcrumbs from jars and cans. I’m not a masochist, but I know how it should taste and something “kind of close” doesn’t work for me.

Then there’s reading. I can read very quickly. Not speed-reading, but fast reading. I always could … but eventually, I found that I wasn’t enjoying books when I read them that fast. One of my reasons for listening rather than reading was pacing. A book that is read out loud can’t be hurried. It’s a lot harder to skip a chapter and see what’s coming next. I didn’t know I’d become addicted to narrators and the charms of oral performance, but it’s funny how often you get more (or less) than you intended, isn’t it?

What brings this up? I’m now four books backed up in the review department. People — not just other bloggers, but actual authors — get in touch with me and ask me to review their books and unless it’s a close friend, I say yes. Close friends are a problem because what if I hate it? I can’t say that to someone I really like … so I try to never review a book for someone I really care for unless they are the kind of writer I know is going to give me a good book to read.

Writers are thin-skinned. I don’t care what you say on your blog. We are all thin-skinned about our art, whatever it may be. We put a lot of our souls into our work. We aren’t neutral and we tend to hold grudges. Don’t say you don’t. We all do. It’s hard to not get cranky when someone doesn’t like our book. Or painting. Or sculpture. Or dinner.

And the strangest part of all of this? I don’t remember how to do things any other way.

DON’T EAT THAT! – Marilyn Armstrong

Detrimental to Your Health 

Don’t eat eggs. They’ll kill you with all that cholesterol. No, wait. Eggs have the good cholesterol. Eat eggs. But not hard cheese. Wait! Real cheese is good for you … but not milk. Never milk. Except for those of you with calcium issues.

Calcium pills are better for you. Nope. We just discovered all vitamin pills are worthless. You need to get back to eating real food.

Except for animal fat (but butter is better) and eggs only on Tuesdays in a month that has 31 days or contains an “R” in it.

Everything is bad for you, good for you, dangerous, calamitous, fattening, helps you lose weight. Or will make you fat for sure.

We used to watch television back in a more benign news era and wait for the killer medical news of the day. Everything that would kill you on Monday (if it didn’t destroy your heart, it would probably give you cancer) and might very well be just what you need by Friday.

We concluded all food is detrimental to your health, but only if you eat it. The only possible solution is to not eat. Give up food.

No, wait. You have to eat, right? Damn, just when I thought I’d worked it all out. Okay, eat — but skip the bacon. It’s not detrimental to your health, but it’s really bad for the pigs.

WORLD SHARING … IS IT ALMOST THANKSGIVING? – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 11-15-18


What’s the most ironic thing you’ve ever witnessed?

I’m not sure that “ironic” is the right word here. Twice I’ve been in dangerous places and the dangerous people carefully got me to a safe place, but that’s not ironic. Just … surprising.

Let’s talk turkey.  Pro or con?   If pro, which part do you enjoy most?  Is it for Thanksgiving (American Style anyway) only?

I think I’ve had more turkey than I ever wanted. Part of it is that I like dark meat and there’s almost no dark meat on turkeys these days. It’s all white meat. Too dry. I spent a lot of years of eating over-cooked turkey. The bigger the turkey, the dryer it was.

Lots of joints on this former turkey!

Some could have been ground up and used for beach sand. Even fresh, unfrozen turkey became food I was required to eat. I always liked the side dishes better than the turkey, especially cranberry sauce. And the pies! Actually, just give me the cranberry sauce and a side of three or four pieces of pie.

If you’d like, share one thing you wish you’d said to someone else, but now you’ll never have the chance.

Call it failing memory. I don’t remember anything. I don’t have a single thing I wish I’d said because either I don’t remember if I said it — and if I do, I don’t know what would have happened had I said something else. The future is a mystery.

What odd smell do you really enjoy?

I have almost no sense of smell, but if I stick my nose into a rose, that’s nice. I guess that isn’t odd unless you find a bee in there.

Thankful November … share a story or time when someone did something really great for you.  Alternatively,  share your gratitude moments during this past week.

Leaves are everywhere!

My son hired a cleanup crew to get the leaves out of the yard. I feel downright blessed!

HOW THE POTATO CHANGED HISTORY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

When we celebrate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day, we should also be celebrating Columbus’s discovery of the potato. More accurately, Columbus’s introduction of the potato from the New World to the Old World. This introduction of New World foods to Europe and the east is known as the “Columbian Exchange”.

Christopher Columbus

The potato, and other native American plants “…transformed cultures, reshuffled politics and spawned new economic systems that then, in a globalizing feedback loop, took root back in the New World as well.” This quote is from an article in the Washington Post on October 8, 2018, titled “Christopher Columbus and the Potato that Changed the World.” The article is by Steve Hendrix.

An example of the potato’s earth-shattering impact is that it helped eliminate famines and fueled a population boom in parts of northern Europe. This made urbanization possible which, in turn, fueled the Industrial Revolution. This population explosion also helped several European nations assert dominion over the world from 1750 to 1950. Thus the potato is also responsible for the rise of Western Europe and its colonies, including America.

But let’s get back to the initial introduction of the potato to skeptical Europeans. The potato spread slowly. At first, it was viewed with suspicion and plagued by misinformation. Initially, some people claimed that the potato was an aphrodisiac. Others believed that it could cause leprosy. When Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes into the Elizabethan court, the courtiers tried to smoke the leaves!

Sir Walter Raleigh

It took a while for people to realize what a nutritional bonanza the potato is. It’s filled with complex carbohydrates, amino acids, and vitamins. It is a nutritionally complete diet when paired with milk. It also took time for people to take advantage of the superior productivity and sturdiness of the potato over other agricultural products, like grains.

In the 1600’s, Europeans finally figured out how to successfully cultivate potatoes. The effect was dramatic – the population of places like Ireland, Scandinavia, and other northern regions, increased up to 30%. In a 1744 famine in Prussia, King Frederick the Great ordered his farmers to grow potatoes and ordered the peasants to eat them!

Famines were prevalent in Europe. France had 40 nationwide famines between 1500 and 1800 as well as hundreds and hundreds of local famines. England suffered 17 national and regional famines just between 1523 and 1623. The world could not reliably feed itself.

Enter the potato. Because potatoes are so productive, once everyone started planting them, they became a diet staple. In terms of calories, they effectively doubled Europe’s food supply. For the first time in Western European history, the food problem was solved. By the end of the 18th century, famines almost disappeared in potato country. Before the potato, European living and eating standards were equivalent to today’s Cameroon or Bangladesh.

Another benefit of the potato is that it is easily portable and stays edible for a relatively long time. So potatoes could easily be transported to the cities, fostering their growth. This created an urban factory workforce. Hence, the Industrial Revolution.

In the mid-1700’s, a French man named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier took it upon himself to launch a PR campaign on behalf of the potato. He created publicity stunts to draw attention to his miracle product. For example, he presented an all potato dinner to high society guests. One of them, it is claimed, was Thomas Jefferson. Parmentier also convinced the King and Queen to be seen wearing potato blossoms. His biggest stunt was to plant 40 acres of potatoes at the edge of Paris, knowing that the starving population would steal and eat them.

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

The potato took such firm root in Europe that by the end of the 18th century, roughly 40% of the Irish people ate no solid food other than potatoes. That was also true of 10-30% of other countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Prussia, and Poland.

In the mid-1800’s, catastrophe struck. Blights started wiping out the potato crops. In 1845, in Ireland alone, one half to three-quarters of a million acres of potatoes were wiped out. The following years, up until 1852, were even worse. The Great Potato Famine was one of the worst in history in terms of percentage of population lost. Over a million Irish died. A similar famine in the U.S. today would kill 40 million people!

Potato blight

Within a decade, over two million people fled Ireland, over three-quarters of whom came to the United States. That changed the history and demographics of the U.S. And it began the phenomenon of the Melting Pot.

A major commemoration of the potato exists in Germany. A statue of Sir Francis Drake was erected in 1853, although Drake did not, in fact, introduce the potato into Europe. The statue depicts Drake with his right hand on his sword and his left hand holding a potato plant. On the base is the following inscription:


Sir Francis Drake

Dissemination of the potato in Europe
In the year of our Lord 1586.
Millions of people
Who cultivate the earth
Bless his immortal memory.


Drake statue in Germany

So, as Steve Hendrix said in the Washington Post, “…a small round object sent around the planet … changed the course of human history.”

FEAST OR NIBBLES? Marilyn Armstrong

Wednesday RDP – FEAST


We aren’t big eaters these days. A feast can be laid out on the table, but we merely nibble around the edges. I’m surprised when I meet an elderly but really fat person because generally, appetite diminishes with the years.

My son, just approaching 50, eats half as much as he did a few years ago.

Dining

We eat maybe half as much as we did a two or three years ago which is half what we ate 20 years ago.

Why? My best guess is we burn fewer calories and need less food. Garry still exercises regularly, but he doesn’t have a big appetite and when he tries to eat like he used to … usually involving piles of sushi … he will regret it. Very soon

Although we attend feasts — we have an invite to my son’s for dinner on Sunday and there will be enough food to feed most of Uxbridge — but we do not partake of them with the gusto of days of yore. The “getting together” is the more important part of the feasting. The talking and laughing matters more than the perfect dinner or dessert.

I have not determined if this is a good or bad thing. Maybe it is just “a thing” — neither good nor bad. Another one of those “it is what it is” occasions in the moving on of human life.

THREE-QUARTERS OF A POUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was out of lunch meat, so Garry went to the deli. It was Monday and they were out of everything except (sigh) turkey breast. Not my favorite, but I’m betting today is a delivery day.

Garry asked the newest lady at the counter for 3/4 of a pound of turkey breast.

Like a deer caught in headlights, she was lost. She could probably “do” a pound — or half a pound. But what was 3/4? She obviously didn’t recognize it as 75% of a pound, or even that it’s likely the line between the half pound and full pound markers.

Schools don’t teach math in any way that might be useful to those they have taught. They have gotten into systems so complicated that no one under 40 can do any math in their head. They need a calculator. Even to subtract one number from another. Oh, and they can’t count on their fingers.

Eventually, the boss stopped what he was doing and came over to rescue her.

Garry came home. He commented that there’s a scale and surely the young women (in her 20s) could tell that there was a line between half a pound and one pound and that would be the three-quarter, right?

Wrong. She doesn’t know that 3/4 (of one) = 75% (of one). Have you ever tried to explain to a clerk how to turn 99-cents into a dollar?

“Look, I’ll give you a penny and you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

“So that means that if I give you a penny, you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

This is because she doesn’t understand that 100 cents (pennies) equal one dollar. We are worried that our “below age 40” youngsters aren’t going to vote. I’m beginning to worry that they can’t think. Apparently, thinking is no longer taught in any school. So if you don’t get a head start at home with the whole “thinking” thing? You’re doomed.

Vote? If they don’t know that 99-cents plus a penny equal a dollar, how can we expect them to vote? Or have a grip on the issues? Or even know what kind of government we have or want?