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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour.
  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

 Woke up to a snowstorm this morning. Even the Christmas cactus thinks it's December again!  I have to keep reminding myself this is normal for Michigan in March.  I read so many blogs from my southern friends, sometimes I forget that up here March is a winter month.  We won't see forsythias or daffodils until the end of May.  It's a good day to stay indoors  and make a batch of soup.

Waste Not, Want Not Soup

After your meals, instead of scraping your plates into the garbage, scrape them into a stewpot.  Yep, everything including the bones, salad, mashed potatoes, etc. Everything, except the pie!  I was telling someone about this soup and they said "Ewww!  All those germs!"  I had to explain to them since, you boil the concoction for 10 minutes it will kill any germs, but I guess there will always be some people that will be squeamish about this recipe.  Anyway to continue, along with the scrapings, add the any leftover vegetables, the scrapings from vegetables that were peeled,and the outer tougher skins of the onions that you diced. And the liquid from any canned vegetables that have been drained.  You get the picture, anything that might add some food value.  Cover this mixture with two inches  of water and boil for ten minutes.  Cool the broth.  Strain and cull any meat scraps and put them in with the liquid.  Refrigerate overnight.  Remove any fat that has solidified at the top of the broth.  I hate greasy soup, don't you?

Now you are ready to make the soup.  Take the prepared broth and taste it.  What is the dominate flavor? Add vegetables that are compatible with whatever with the flavor of the broth.  Tomatoes are nice with beef, I like lima beans with pork.  Also add diced celery and carrots.   Select a starch; diced potatoes, noodles, or rice.    Stir in some spices the last 15 minutes.  Sage thyme, paprika and rosemary are good with chicken or pork.  Beef is good with Italian or Mexican  spices.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  There!  You have a nice soup made from something that might have gone to waste.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
~Matthew 5:9~

Maybe because of what's going on in the world, I've been thinking of this verse a lot recently.  As a matter of  fact, I'd say God is nudging me toward it.  I toss and turn in bed thinking about it,  I wake up thinking about it, when I turn on the TV, I see a verse on one of the Christian TV stations about peace.  The other day I decided to reread one of my favorite childhood books, and what was the title of the chapter I opened it to?  Peace at Last!

No, this isn't a prophesy that  there will be peace in the world.  All Christians know there's only One way that's going to happen.  And because I have studied eschatology for decades, I believe things are only going to get a lot worse.  Sorry that I can't be more Pollyannish about it. No, what I've been  I been thinking about is the actual interpretation of this verse.

My entire life I thought that verse referred to people that  settles squabbles, fights, and wars.  The person that mediates opposing factions.  And it does mean that.  But digging a little deeper, I found another meaning.  Blessed are the people that make peace.  Make as in create.

We all know the drama queen-type person, that is always creating a fuss.  The person you must walk on eggshells around because you worry about "setting" them off?  Well there's a polar opposite  person in the world.  The friend that you know that you can turn to with a secret, and know  that it won't be spread around town.  The mother that has taught her children to be kind and polite.  The patient person that doesn't grumble when given the worst job on the volunteer list, but does it without complaining and even pleasantly. The homemaker, that makes her home a sanctuary, that young and old know they can come to and be welcomed with open arms.  The disabled person that accepts their disability and doesn't whine about it. The wife that doesn't complain. The encourager rather than the critic.   The list can go on and on, there are many ways to create peace. We might not have any control about what goes on in the world, but we can control what goes on in our little part of it. Look at those wonderful Japanese people, standing quietly in line for hours for a bottle of water. Imagine what the world would be if everyone acted that way.  To be a peace maker is to be Christ-like.  Are you a peacemaker?

Friday, March 18, 2011


You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.
 ~Dr. Seuss~ 

I've been moping around all week because it was time for my bi-annual blood work and doctor's appointment.  Last time I visited the doctor it didn't go to well.  I was actually excited to go because I had started a new health regime; becoming vegan and started exercising seriously.  But when I got the result of my lab tests, it showed that my cholesterol was high.  They made it sound like I was near to having a stroke, but in truth it was on the high end of normal.  But it was up.  I was disappointed to say the least, and embarrassed because I was sure that doctors thought I was lying when I said I really was trying. But who knows how high it would have been if I hadn't started doing those things?

So anyway, I dragged my feet getting the lab work done.  I kept to my health regime, but on occasions, such as Christmas, I really faltered; I ate Swedish meatballs with a huge dollop of sour cream and plenty of cookies made with real butter.  Everyone consoled me, saying once you passed fifty, high cholesterol was inevitable.  I really didn't want to become one of those people that carry around a pharmacy with them.  I was already taking thyroid medicine for an underactive thyroid.  After Christmas, I really got serious, with the doctor's appointment looming in the future.  I kept a journal and wrote down the cholesterol amount of every food I ate, trying to keep it at zero, although sometimes I would have a sprinkle of cheese on my vegetarian chili, or a bit of butter on my oatmeal.  I ate oatmeal with Salba seeds everyday for breakfast.  Salba seeds have more omega-3 than salmon.  Omega-3 increases the good cholesterol.  I wrote down how much I exercised.  And you know what?  It really wasn't that hard.  I started to feel better.  Clothes that were snug, became loose, although I wasn't doing this to lose weight, it was a nice benefit.  I don't have a scale because losing weight for me is such a challenge, I found that the never-moving scale needle just depressing so I can't say for certain that I've lost weight, but it looks and feels like it.

Well today the doctor's office called.  My cholesterol levels were wayyyy down and my good cholesteral was up.  Such good results the nurse didn't even give me the numbers.  She just kept remarking that she never saw such improvements.  I asked about the doctor's appointment.  "why would you need to come in?" she asked.Well I suspect it was because they didn't expect my numbers to improve and I would need to go in and get scolded and a prescription.  After consulting with the doctor, she told me I only needed to come in for my yearly check-up!  No new prescription plus no extra doctor's visits equals more money in my pocketbook.  And the numbers prove, I'm healthier.  As for wiser, it took some scares for it to get through my thick head, that yes, what you eat and do, does matter.   Hope this will motivate others that are struggling.  My new motto is, "Don't live to eat, eat to live".   Being healthy truly is thrifty!

Monday, March 14, 2011


St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.
~~ Adrienne Cook.~~

On St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish!  It's such a fun holiday to break up the doldrums of a too long winter.When I was a child, my friends and I would painstakingly choose our outfits for the day, making certain to wear enough green to avoid being pinched.  Big chunky strands of yarn were in vogue, and we wore them in large, loopy bows to tie our hair.  The local five and dime store sold all sorts of novelty, such as cheap shamrock pins and little leprechaun  necklaces.  By the time we were dressed we looked more like we were wearing a costume, but it was such fun.  When my boys were young, I always packed their lunchpails with sandwiches  made with bread dyed green.  I didn't learn until much later, that they never ate those sandwiches.  But they never turned down a meal of corned beef and cabbage.  Here's the recipe:

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I  (2-3 lb.) corned beef brisket
3 Tbsp. good mustard (such as Dijon or a nice German one)
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
carrots, cabbage and potatoes

Soak  brisket in water overnight.  Drain water.  Place brisket in a Dutch oven  with enough water to cover by an inch or two.  Add the spice packet that comes with the brisket.  Cover and boil until tender. (about 1 hour per pound).  Take the meat from the broth and pat dry with a paper towel.  Reserve the broth.  Combine the mustard  and honey and spread over top of the brisket. Sprinkle the brown sugar over top.  Bake at 400 degrees for one half hour.  While the corned beef is in the oven, add as many carrots and potatoes as desired to the broth and boil until tender. The last 15 minutes add the cabbage.  Placing the brisket under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize the brown sugar is nice.  Serve on a nice platter with the vegetables surrounding  the brisket.  Delicious!

If you are fortunate to have any leftovers, the next day you can make a wonderful hash.  Here's the recipe:

Corned Beef Hash

1 lb. peeled and diced potatoes (or the leftover ones)
1/2 lb. corned beef, cubed   (you can buy some from the deli unsliced if you don't have any leftover)
2 Tbsp. oil
1 C. chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. butter
a poached egg for each diner

Boil the potatoes until fork tender.  Drain. Or skip this step if you are using leftovers.  In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat.  Saute the onions and garlic. Add the butter.  Add the potatoes and salt and pepper.  (You may need extra oil at this point).  Fry the potatoes until the are soft and golden on the outside.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the corned beef and  mustard.  Press the mixture into the skillet.  Cook until browned on one side.  Carefully turn the mixture over.  Brown the other side.  Serve with the eggs.

Corned beef hash is so wonderful, I buy an extra brisket and prepare two.  Then cube it and freeze it for later.  Corned beef briskets are usually lost leaders this time of year.  I've seen prices ranges from $1.69- $2.19 a pound.  You can't find too many cuts of meat cheaper, so it might be a good idea to buy extra.

The best way to enjoy corned beef is with The Chieftains  music playing in the background.  After dinner it's nice to watch The Quiet Man.  That's how I'll be spending my St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 7, 2011


Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder
 ~ Kinky Friedman ~

 I have an obsession about lipstick.  It probably stems from hearing my father often say , "Well at least she could have put on some lipstick and put a comb through her hair!" My mother was lovely and he had little tolerance for unkempt women.  So anyhow, I'm always on the quest for the perfect shade of lipstick.  I have tubes that are too dark, too pale, too matte, too shiny, too blue-based, too orange,  You get the picture.  Close but no cigar.  I'm the Goldilocks of lipsticks!  So I took all those tubes and melted them together in a small (1/4 pint?) canning jar, over simmering, not boiling water.  Once they melted  I blended them together with a Popsicle stick.  The perfect rosy shade!  I use a lip brush or my fingertip to put it on.

The second tip comes from one of my old 1940s era magazines.  I have really dry skin, so dry that it's painful at times.  Winter weather seems to make matters worst.  I'm always purchasing expensive potions that guarantee soft dewy skin.  Not only are the costly, they just feel so heavy.  My skin feels like it's suffocating.  Then I found this tip in one of those old magazines.  Countess  Blah Blah (don't you love how they always had countesses back then, whatever happened to them?) gives herself a facial before going out to remove flaky dry skin.  Put on a layer of cold cream and leave it on your skin for several minutes.  Then towel off.  I use a warm, damp washcloth to remove mine.  Ponds cold cream is only about $4 for a large jar. A lot cheaper than those $20-$30 concoctions I was using.   And it really works!  Last night I used my old stand-by Noxema, and that worked too.  It's leaving it on the skin for a few minutes before removing, that makes it work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens~

 Hurray!  March is here!  The snow is starting to recede  and today I found tiny buds beginning to form on the miniature lilacs on the south side of the house.  Time to put  the pussy willow wreath on the door as a nice welcome to spring.

Yesterday I canned.  This old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard and found that it was bare of kidney beans.  Had to buy some at 75 cents a can and that was the cheap store brand.  So I canned up two pounds that were purchased from local growers at $2.29.  It ended up costing a little over 33 cents a jar.  I also canned up four and a half pound of ham  from the deli end pieces that we can buy at the little grocery store down the street.  At $2.29 for one and a half pounds it came to $1.53 a pound.  And it was all meat, no bones!  I just cubed it up, saving some for Jamie's sandwiches, boiled it 10 minutes, then packed it and processed it for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.  Now I'll be able to make up a quick soup for friends and neighbors.

Remember when I mentioned that I bought a 100% linen blouse at the thrift store to make a pillow?  Decided to make this cute tea cozy instead.  I've been carrying around the picture from the old McCall's Needlework  magazine for decades.  Finally got around to it.  All the crewel  yarn came from crewel kits that I picked up at garage sales through the years.  I've come to the realization that I will probably never complete them, but I can never resist those pretty Jacobean designs. By the way, I tried that blouse on and all I can say is that  while Mandarin collars look chic on Katherine Hepburn, on me they look like I'm a member of Mao's army!

Lastly, here's what I did with some of the sprouts.  I made chop suey.  Just sauteed up onions, garlic, and mushrooms.  Added that to some brown rice. Added some carrots (mine were canned, but if you use fresh, you might want to parboil them a bit) and a can of drained water chestnuts.  Stirred in about  a cup of bottled teryiaki  sauce and a dash of soy sauce and topped them with some chow mein noodles. Oh!  And stirred in the sprouts!