Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cooking Technique: Roasting Vegetables

Thursday, March 31, 2011......

My profile states a simple fact about me: I own an obscene number of cookbooks. I often try a new recipe or refer to them for something that seems so basic, but I never learned.

Last year, I decided I really liked the flavor of roasted veggies, however, I was unsure of time or temp to use and began to consult my various cookbooks. Many books stated to roast at a high temperature for 30 minutes after tossing veggies with oil, salt & pepper. All authors included the ingredient of sliced garlic. I love garlic oil, but have you ever roasted garlic at high temps without it burning? Well, if you have, kudos to you. But for me, the garlic slices would burn and would leave behind a bitter flavor. I also was surprised the veggies would get charred, but remained pretty hard.

Luckily, I'm not one to give up. I found a recipe that called for sliced garlic, but had me create a pocket with tinfoil and roast the veggies for 1/2 the time covered. This didn't solve my problem with the burnt garlic, but I came across a recipe that solved my problem: smash 3 to 5 cloves of garlic (skin off), add olive oil (eyeball it, but figure a cup) and let it sit for a couple of hours.

Now, I'm going to share the easiest way to roast veggies.

1. Smash 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, place in bowl and add 1 cup of olive oil to mixture (you can use the oil for more than veggies). Let the garlic infuse in the oil for several hours (the longer the garlic sits in the oil, the more potent the flavor).

2. Preheat oven to 425.

3. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly spray the sheet with Pam, or any other cooking spray, to prevent sticking.

4. Cut up the veggies you plan to roast (broccoli, asparagus, etc) and coat with the olive oil (remove garlic cloves before using) and sprinkle with salt and pepper (note: you don't really need a lot of oil, just enough to lightly coat the veggies).

5. Place another sheet of tin foil over the veggies and cinch up 3 sides of the top layer of tin foil with the bottom layer of foil to create a pocket.

6. Roast veggies with foil on for 12 minutes. Remove foil and roast for another 12 minutes uncovered.

7. Remove from olive and sprinkle lemon juice or balsamic vinegar over veggies (lemon juice for broccoli, balsamic vinegar over roasted asparagus or green beans and sliced onions).

You may need to adjust the number of minutes needed for roasting depending upon the thickness of the veggie stem. Asparagus probably only needs a total roasting time of 20 minutes, broccoli may need 30 minutes. What I do is look at a recipe and use the time and temperature the author has suggested, but use my method of covering veggies with garlic oil and roast 1/2 the time with foil on.

I have found this method to be tried and true. I hope it works for you. I've found roasting veggies adds great flavor, and are yummy both hot and cold.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Breaking Up With Your Book

Wednesday, March 30, 2011.....

For readers that don't know me, I am a slow reader and linger on each and every word the author has provided. In the past, I've lost days because I read 24/7 until I finish the book I've gotten sucked into, and when finished, I mourn the loss of my beloved book.

However, I recently made some changes on how I read. One chapter every day, but what do you do when the book you're reading has extremely long chapters that wander aimlessly if you read the entire chapter in one sitting?

I admit, the book, when read in 5 page clips, is interesting. However, once I flip passed the 5th page, all words go back to the observation of frogs, birds and snakes. I hate when I like a book, but don't love it. I believe if I keep reading, it will get better, but I'm not a fan of describing anything ad nauseum. I like using my own imagination to envision the author's experience.

Yesterday, I used my sister, YogaGirl's way of reading books at a fast pace by skimming or gleaming over the words to get a general direction where the author is heading. In fact, YogaGirl's method is known by others and we have nicknamed her method of reading as "YogaGirling It" (we actually use her last name, but since I don't reveal names in my blog, YogaGirling It, says it all).

After I YogaGirl'd the last 20 pages of the book, I felt as though I cheated on my book. I really wanted to know the ending, wanted to see how the author would tie everything up in a fashion I'd prefer, but was so disappointed when it wasn't in a nice, neat package. I felt let down.

So, here's my question: Would you "YogaGirl" a book or just break-up with it and stop reading?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where the Hell is Spring?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011.....

Can someone please tell me? Several weeks ago, I saw a glimmer of warmer weather with the thermometer hitting 68 degrees and then the snow hits the day after my crocuses make an appearance.

Luckily, it snowed several days and nothing stuck to the ground unlike the snow in New Jersey (close enough to my home that its weather report is shown on my local newscast),the weather is deceptive. I look outside and see the beautiful blue sky, sun beaming and whammy freezing temps as soon as you walk out the door.

Never mind the PA groundhog, my neighbor's cat really mislead me. Why did she start peeing in my front flower bed if Spring wasn't officially here? It's just wrong.

I'm told from my personal weatherman, a.k.a. my husband (watches all things weather related) that it's going to get warmer by week's end. His exact words: "it's supposed to get nice, warmer". What does that mean? Warmer than 20 is 40, but I'm optimistic and believe he means 60.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Applying the Laws of How I Travel to the Laws of My Marriage

Monday, March 28, 2011.....

When I have traveled with people, other than family or significant others, I've noticed I take on a somewhat polite demeanor when arriving at a final destination about what I want to do. I think it's because I want to go with the flow while on vacation and also don't want to be the alpha dog always making the decisions for all parties concerned. I can tell you from personal experience this happened to me and was annoying because I was always second guessing if this person was really having a good time or not. In this case, the person was unhappy due to circumstances having nothing to do with me prior to stepping on our airplane, making them unavailable to make any type of travel decision.

From this experience, I adopted the cardinal rule of traveling: each person traveling has to pick 3 things they want to do prior to the destination. It's agreed that all traveling parties recognize and respect the desire of the other party(ies) and, if able, all parties partake in the entire 'must-do' list. Sometimes, lists overlap one another, sometimes it doesn't. My cardinal rule of traveling also allows for alone time so people aren't on top of one another 24/7. This allows for an independent visit to a museum or additional time on the beach, but it is critical to have this built in to the schedule.

This past weekend I applied this to my marriage. On Thursday, I asked hubby what 3 things would he like to do with me over the weekend. At first, this stumped him, but when I shared my list with him (cleaning front yard, walking at a local state park and cooking one of his meals together this week) he understood the question better and agreed with all my suggestions. However, I could see he was just being agreeable and told him to think of 3 things he wanted us to do and because I had already selected 3 things, he could have 3 independent things. He thought about it and chose 2 of my selections and added making granola bars together. As the planner in our family, I explained to him that whatever he wanted to do required him to ensure we had everything needed to do the project together (in this case, the ingredients).

I'm a big believer in doing things together, but I also believe one shouldn't be attached at the hip 24/7. This gives us a way to come together and enjoy the company of one another, but also allows time to read or meditate (okay, that's what I like to do).

Do you believe in spending 24/7 of your free time with your significant other or do you need some breathing room? Just curious.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Take on Etiquette for Funerals in My Hometown....

Friday, March 18, 2011......

This weekend my sister, YogaGirl, is coming into town for a wake and funeral. I'm going to the wake (note: the person that passed away lived a very full and long life) with her, but not the funeral. However, although my sister is 4 years older, I've attended far more wakes and funerals than she has and had to verse her on how wakes/funeral roll in our town.

When I was telling my sister my etiquette when it comes to attending wakes and funerals, I realized how truly odd and bizarrely funny my hometown is when handling death....

Let me explain... Our town has divided itself into 3 funeral homes: one for the Italians, one which the Irish use, and a Polish funeral home(although the Polish one was purchased in the past few years by the Italian one). My sister didn't know this and found this really funny when I explained it to her. I guess I never really thought how strange it sounded until she started laughing. For me, I just knew this because of all the wakes I've attended at these funeral homes. My Italian friends would never think of using the Irish funeral home and vice versa. Personally, I'm French Canadian and would hope that my ethnicity wouldn't deny me entry into any of the homes (oh wait, I live in an entirely different town now and don't have to worry about this strange admission procedure).

Once we got passed this topic of where the wake was going to be held, we discussed my take on how to go to a wake properly. My wake etiquette is as follows:

1) I try to go early so I don't have to participate in the prayer part of the wake, if Catholic, this can go on-and-on if the priest is chatty (don't laugh, I've been tortured at a wake where the priest's prayer went on for the last hour of the wake - and it was boring and had nothing to do with the person).

2) I never know how long you linger at the casket, so I devised the following plan: I kneel, close eyes, clasp hands and say the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers. I figure this is enough time at the casket. Also, I never really know what to think once I'm kneeling and openly admit that in the past, I've giggled or conjured up my to-do list for later. I figure this could be wrong and might not sit well with the guy up above.

3) The volume of your voice should be the same volume you would use in a library. It's just that simple.

4) If you attend a wake at the Italian funeral parlor, most people will go out for pizza down the block.

Other things I had to tell my sister -- Yes, most people go to the graveside service after the funeral. No food and drink are served after the wake (actually, I think my exact words were: there is no tray service at the wake) and when she goes to the graveside, she'll be putting a flower on the casket.

Over the years, I've gone to numerous wakes and funerals, but the best and funniest wake story I have involved my mother. The scene: mom and I attended my neighbor's wake. She was a woman 30 years my senior who had a long life, but very ill at the end and seen better days. We both go up to the casket, pay our respects, and within seconds of moving away from the casket, my mother turns to me and tells me how pretty I am. I look at her with disbelief that she'd pick this moment to tell me I'm pretty. I wanted to laugh, but waited until I relayed this story to my sisters before laughing over the irony of the compliment. I mean, I hope I looked better at that moment than the dead woman in the casket.

I Wish Morgan Freeman Could Talk Me to Sleep Every Night....

Thursday, March 17, 2011....

If you've been following my blog, you know I suffer from insomnia. I have a horrible case of it and am on a never-ending search for a cure.

There is one thing that naturally puts me to sleep and it is the sound of Morgan Freeman's voice.

I love the movie Shawshank Redemption for it's storyline and acting, but when I'm exhausted and can't sleep, I'll go into my living room and pop in my Shawshank dvd. I'll fast forward the movie and pass the courtroom scene where Tim Robbins is given his sentence of life in prison and start the movie right at the point where Morgan Freeman starts narrating Andy's life inside Shawshank.

It's not long before I'm lulled into a deep sleep, but only while the movie is playing. Once off, I wake up and start the process again. I've put the movie on repeat, but that doesn't always guarantee me a complete night's sleep because of the lights from the t.v. screen (and call me crazy, but I do enjoy sleeping with hubby in our very comfy bed). I'd love a guarantee and figure the only way is to have Morgan's voice piped into my bedroom soothing me to sleep.

If NASA can put a man on the moon, why can't someone invent the Morgan Freeman sleep sound machine? I can't imagine I'm the only human being that has watched his movies to help them sleep.*

*Note: Mr. Freeman, I watch your movies for the entertainment value and enjoy every minute of your performance. Using your movies to help me fall asleep is a last resort added benefit and not the main reason I watch your films.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Newest Infomercial I Love....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011....

If I haven't mentioned this before, I love infomercials.

I admit I used to watch the latest infomercials on Sunday and calling my sister to recap all the latest and greatest gadgets you can buy. Some were ridiculous, and others...well, I would totally get sucked in and want to buy the product.

Last night, as my husband was flicking the channels to find something to watch, he stumbled upon a mini infomercial for Easy Feet (Easy Feet).

Basically, you stick this device to the bottom of your shower or on the wall along the side of your tub (if you want to put your feet up the side wall into the contraptions), drop soap into some hole and move your feet back & forth in the Easy Feet device to clean your feet and remove calluses.

Ummmm....wouldn't your feet slip once you put soap and water on the plastic shoe? Also, if you stick the Easy Feet on your shower floor, you can't really turn around in the shower because of the suction cups on the bottom of them (I don't about you, but I have a tendency to want to rinse shampoo off my face and have to turn to face the shower head - I know, call me crazy).

Although, I won't be purchasing Easy Feet, it did catch my attention. Who knows, it may be the next new Snuggle.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Famous Footwear - New Haven, CT Store Opening

Tuesday, March 15, 2011.....

As a girl on a limited budget, always looking for ways to save money, I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email:

Famous Footwear is opening up a new store in North Haven Pavilion this Saturday, March 19. We have some exciting promotions for you! Shoppers can download an exclusive discount coupon to bring with them to the Grand Opening Event online at Famous Footwear. The first 100 shoppers to present this coupon in the store will also receive a handbag that’s stuffed with fun goodies. There will also be tons of fun activities on-site and multiple chances to win prizes - including FREE SHOES!

Famous Footwear Grand Opening

North Haven Pavilion – 210 Universal Drive, North Haven, CT 06473

Saturday, March 19

10:00am – 4:00pm

I hope one reader, wanting some shoes gets to use this coupon and wins something.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Art of City Walking....

Monday, March 14, 2011.....

Saturday, I was in NYC and am always in awe of how you need to walk while in NYC. I should note, there is a big difference between walking the city streets on a weekday versus a weekend day.

Although, I was in NYC, I've noticed there is a special rhythm for walking in a major city. For me, walking in NYC reminds me of riding the bumper cars at an amusement park.

During a weekday, the streets are packed with people just trying to get from point A to point B at top speeds. You need to maneuver around and through groups of people at a high speed because...I'm not sure why, but you just have to walk at top speeds. If you're slow, well, you might be bumped off the curb.

On a weekend day, the tourists arrive and look at every building. Personally, I try to avoid Times Square whenever possible, but especially on the weekends. The tourists, people with strollers and slow walkers walking 3 to 4 people across the entire sidewalk can easily make me lose my mind. Unfortunately, NYC doesn't necessarily bring out the best in me.

I find I nudge people to move over more than I'd like. However, if I don't weave in-and-out of people or nudge them, I can easily be pushed off the sidewalk because they don't know how to share space or be hit by a taxi if they crawl a snail's pace in a cross walk.

I think a good city walker has perfected the pace AND knows something I don't do well -- they know to look straight ahead and not at the ground like I do.

Although I love NYC, I wish I could just blink my eyes to transport myself all over the city without injury.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kathy Griffin

Friday, March 11, 2011.....

I was going to post about a stupid commercial about dog food you refrigerate, but realized I am going to see Kathy Griffin tomorrow night in NYC with YogaGirl and thought it better to post about that.

However, that dog food commercial really pissed me off. Is it necessary to create a special over priced everyday dog food because you have to refrigerate it? Seriously, my ex-mother-in-law's dog ate the cat shit out of the litter box if you weren't keeping an eye on her. Also, dogs lick their balls. So, do you really think they're going to notice the difference between food you keep in your cabinet or food that needs to be kept in the refrigerator??? Pleasssseeeee......

Wait, this post is meant to be about Kathy Griffin and I strayed (no, not like a dog to the special food), but I had to get my thoughts about the dog food commercial off my chest.

So, tomorrow night, while YogaGirl and I are at the Kathy Griffin show (3rd time I've seen her), I am hoping she makes me laugh so hard, I forget about the stupidity in advertising these days.

One last thing about the show tomorrow night...I'm wondering if Charlie, Lindsey Lohan's or Mel Gibson's latest bout with the law will be at the top of her list to talk about.

Kathy should probably thank all 3 as it gives her material that writes itself.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If You Think No One is Looking, Think Again....

Thursday, March 10, 2011........

Yesterday, I was stopped at a traffic light when I noticed 2 young guys on the opposite sides of the street. One was on a man's bike (this is important to know because a man's bike is designed with a bar connecting the handlebars to the seat)and the other was crossing the 4 lane street to talk to the guy on the bike.

As I was waiting for the light to change, I was watching these 2 guys and noticed the guy on the bike wheeling around while waiting for the other guy to cross the street. As soon as the guy walking across the street made it to the curb, the biker guy, biked back towards the sidewalk and rammed hard into the curb. This caused him to come off his seat and land 'HARD' on the bar between the handlebars and seat. I'm only guessing he landed hard on the bar because he immediately grabbed his 'man package' and bent over.

I laughed. I laughed hard. I laughed because any moron would know not to ride at a high speed into a high curb unless you're into pain.

So, if you're in a crowd of people you don't know, and are doing something stupid, trust me, people are watching. Expect to hear laughter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Things Your Mother Failed to Teach You....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011.....

At various points during my childhood, I got various lectures from mom and dad of what I shouldn't do. For instance, as a small child, I was told never to talk to strangers or eat the candy apples or rice krispies in my trick or treat bag (just a note here, who has the time to make this stuff? Isn't it easier to just pick up a bag of snickers at the local drug store).

As I got older, the messages kept coming, but all having the underlying fear of God or death in them (btw, if you haven't already guessed, the Halloween candy apple message had the underlying message of death in it). Messages I heard:

- don't do drugs because you'll die

- don't have sex because you'll get pregnant or VD and basically your life will be over (note: AIDS was just on the scene and my parents didn't know about it).

- don't have sex before marriage with more than one person because it makes you a slut and no respectable guy will want to marry you.

- don't live with a man before marriage because it is a sin and he won't want to put a ring on your finger because blah, blah, cow & getting milk for free, blah, blah, blah (I obviously paid no attention to this...and for the record, I lived with someone for 3 years before we married, granted we got divorced years later, but mom was so wrong).

- always wear white underwear in case you get in a car accident. I have to ask, did anyone else get this message from their mother? I swear she left me with the impression that if I did get in a serious car accident the first thing the medic was going to do, was going to ripe off my underwear and use it as a tourniquet. I now know medics come fully prepared and won't need my underwear for any medical bandages.

However, with all this advice, mom never gave me the most important advice: cleaning is harmful to your health.

It is, and I have a story to prove it.

Last week, I convinced hubby, okay told him, he was going to help me clear out some kitchen cabinets above the fridge and help me move the fridge and clean under it (btw, how often are you supposed to do that?). Well, he handed me all those dishes I never use because I can't get to them and put them in the dishwasher. Once the cabinet was cleaned out, I told him I needed to load the dishwasher and I'd call him when I was done to help me pull out the fridge. I loaded the dishwasher and armed with Windex (the world's best cleaner) I got on a chair, leaned forward to reach over the fridge and get into the cabinet -- then WHAMO. The chair slips out from under me, and long story short, I jam, break or sprain 3 toes.

It's been over a week and they still hurt, but the black and blue is much better.

The morale to my story is: my mother filled my head with impractical warnings and if she had only warned me about the hazards of cleaning, this accident may have been avoided. However, I was wearing white underwear while I had this accident...AND again, no need to use them to make a tourniquet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Pitfalls of Me Selling Me....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011....

Recently I interviewed for a large company in an industry I've never worked in. I knew I could transfer my skill set into this company, but am terrible at telling people how valuable I could be to them if hired.

I'm actually in awe of people who can do this. If able to really voice my skills without fear of being conceited, the employer would know I'd be a great choice to add to their team. Instead, I remembered my mom's words from childhood and downplayed my abilities.

My mom would constantly tell me that it is wrong to talk about how talented you are at something. Others should tell you, and for her, she wanted constant praising of her looks, abilities, etc... It was years later, in therapy, I learned that talking about your accomplishments doesn't make you conceited or arrogant, and at times I remember this, but not the other day.

I wish I had listened to the words my therapist taught me and gave myself the permission to really cite certain examples of why I'd be asset to this company. Instead, I didn't. It's stupid because I know I love to learn and when tossed into unknown territory, I learn everything I can and have a strange comfort in having to be on my toes at all time.

I also know, after going to the wrong gate for this interview, I will NEVER be able to take a job giving directions to others. Luckily, the gatehouse guard understood how directionally challenged I was and made the directions easy to follow. She knew North, South, East and West were terms I couldn't relate to and used 'left' and 'right' to get me to my final destination.

I hope it works out in the end. I'd be excited to work in a new industry and I really enjoyed the people meeting the people I'd be working with. I could tell our personalities would mesh and it was a drama free zone.

Monday, March 7, 2011

For Most Spring Means the Crocus are in Bloom....

Monday, March 7, 2011....

I guess that is true, but for me. For me, it is when the neighborhood cat returns to use my flower bed as her litter box. Nothing says Springtime like opening your front door and inhaling the delightful odors of cat pee.

It really does wonders in facing the world and starting the day - NOT. Instead, it just creates a stinky odor by the entrance of my house and does not do anything to scare away the woodchuck, bunny or deer that come by throughout the gardening season to feast on my veggies. You'd think the cat would serve some purpose by scaring off future animals from wanting to enter my yard and crush my hopes and dreams of having the world's best veggie garden. Unfortunately, she didn't get the memo that she doesn't live here and her owners have a litter box for her use. She also hasn't read Emily Post for cats and realized if you're going to pee in someone's yard it should be out of direct line of said owner's nose AND pee in areas where other animals terrorize the nice homeowner to deter them from wanting to take one step further towards my garden and eating everything I'm trying to grow.

However, this year, I'm prepared. I need no cat pee. I'm armed with the knowledge of cayenne & soap will deter Mr. Woodchuck, Miss Bunny and pack-of-deer from the garden. I will spray as soon as plants are in the ground so my 'friends' know I mean business and go away.

Let's face it. I'm on a mission for a veggie garden this year.

I'm determined and have announced to my husband I will beat the animals. I say it with conviction, and he, just laughs at me. Harsh. But, when I'm eating my yummy heirloom purple tomatoes this year outside, I'll have the last laugh or won't, because I'll need a nose plug because the cat will have recently use the flower to do her business and I'll be trying not to smell cat pee.