I’m in the process of getting back into the groove. I was in Vegas for a conference last week and I’m now off to another conference in Syracuse tomorrow. The only thing that seems to be getting me through the daylight hours is caffeine – a lot of caffeine.
Lucky for me, I just received a “new” coffee maker. Actually, it’s an ancient relic. A glass percolator that’s 6-cup designation is more like only 2 1/2 cups. It is beautiful, all gold and black and grandma-looking. I think that it was an unopened wedding gift from the 1960’s that somehow found its way to me. I am in love with my percolator, though I’ll admit that there have been a few issues along the way. Brewing a morning cup of joe in a percolator is more of an art than a mindless act of flipping a switch.
For example, if you let the water come to a full boil then you get a mess and a cup full of grounds. Actually, no matter what I do there is a small silt layer at the bottom of the pot every morning. I think that I need to purchase a larger ground coffee than the black-dirt richness that I bought for my other love – my silver one-cup espresso maker.
But regardless, I do not care. Good, bad or silty – my ancient percolator makes me think of breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and grapefruit served in pretty breakfast nooks full of sunshine…even when all I have time for is a rushed cup of coffee in my car on the way to work.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big St. Patrick’s Day observer. I don’t like the smell of corned beef and cabbage cooking away on the stove and I never understood what’s appealing about boiled veggies. I have made only one corned beef dinner in my life and that was only because a boyfriend asked for it. I will leave the corned beef to my friend Bridget, author of Ranch Wife Life. Bridget is a cattle rancher in Eastern Washington and works for the Washington State Beef Council. Her recipe is tested, tasted and approved and the veggies are roasted, not boiled – a plus in my book.
The one thing I do like about St. Patrick’s Day is Irish Soda Bread. I love it toasted with butter and honey. Why is it only an annual treat? Soda bread is simple to make, quick to bake and intensely satisfying to eat. It should be a weekend standard, not just a holiday treat.
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 T. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until a ball is formed.
- Turn dough out onto counter and knead for three to four minutes.
- Form into a round approximately seven inches wide and two inches high and cut cross on top.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a knife comes clean when poked into bread.
I have a friend that recently went through an amazingly traumatic event, but one that thankfully she will recover from. When I sent her a get well note this morning, I added a prescription of my own: eat lots of ice cream…chocolate ice cream make everything better. It got me wondering about all the little things that make hard times a little easier to bear.
For me, the list would include:
- Chocolate milkshakes
- Pink champagne
- Cheeseburgers & beer
- Mac & cheese
- Chicken noodle soup
- Hot water with lemon & honey
- Spice cake
All of these work when I’m not feeling well both physically and mentally, but chocolate milkshakes are the most powerful of all cures. They just make me feel better. And who could deny that pink champagne makes you happy? The simple act of saying pink champagne brings a big, bright smile to my face and my soul.
What are the simple pleasures that make you feel better on a grim day when you are sick or sad or plain cranky? Sometimes the best medicine can be found right in your kitchen.
I love food and I love to eat, but I’m not above confessing that during the week my dinners are less than extraordinary. Weekends are meant for good food, weeknights not so much. To be honest, weeknights are the path of least resistance (and fewest dishes). I’ll eat ice cream from the carton (spoon), cereal (bowl and spoon) or, most often, tortilla with cheese (cutting board, plate, knife). Great meals with more than a bowl or heaven forbid a pot are not in my regular Monday thru Friday rotation.
So, I live on tortillas. I tried for a long time to find an easy, delicious tortilla recipe. The results were just that: easy and delicious – but they were also hard and crisp. I ended up experimenting and came up with the following easy, delicious and soft recipe. No, they aren’t traditional, but they are good…Really good. I keep them in a zip-top bag in my fridge and pull out one or two a night for dinner.
1 1/2 t. yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 t. sugar
2 t. olive oil
3/4 c. (plus or minus) flour
1. In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy.
2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine until it forms a slightly sticky ball.
3. On a well floured surface knead dough for 3-4 minutes. Return to bowl and cover with towel. Let rest 15-30 minutes.
4. Divide dough into 8 balls. Roll out to 7-inch disks.
5. Heat a dry skillet. Place dough on the skillet one at a time, cooking 45 to 60 seconds each side. Place cooked tortillas onto a plate to cool.
Without my realizing it, my world has shrunk. I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad thing – just that the realization came as a bit of a shock. I don’t know how I feel about it honestly. I like my quiet life. The roads I travel, the people I know and meet. And trust me, I travel a lot of roads – but more and more they are the same-old, same-old. I haven’t stretched myself in a really long time and I didn’t know I missed it until I missed it.
And I almost missed a chance to do something new.
So, this is the year when I seek out new experiences, new risks (and their rewards), new faces and a larger world. And trust me, the direction life is taking me this year is farther and farther than I have ever ventured before – all for the good and all for me.
I’ve had a phrase rolling around and around in my head. Every time I go to put pen to paper the phrase fills my brain and pushes all the good thoughts out.
There are so many things…
That’s it, nothing more. So what are these “things” and why won’t they leave me alone? I have no idea. I think that these days I have so very many ideas, thoughts and concerns on my mind that I can’t quite focus on any one. It is like cleaning a closet. You have to first pull everything out of it. From a small space comes a great, big, overwhelming, insurmountable mess and you just don’t know where to start – So you go to the kitchen for a sandwich and leave the mess. To avoid. To adjust.
Saturday morning I sat at my work-table with a cup of tea, a pen and a pad. I was going to write but the phrase came instead. So I wrote “There are so many things” at the top of the page and then I pulled from my emotional closet. There are so many things…That scare me. That I excel at. That I want to try. That I want to leave behind. That I want to be better at.
There were so many things – that I filled two pages. And, just like cleaning, I’m a little overwhelmed. Bit by bit I’ll reorganize, readjust, toss or keep. I’ll put the important bits back, I’ll get rid of the bits that don’t work anymore and I’ll make room for new things too – experiences, people and successes.