Sunday, January 26, 2014

Going Retro in 2014

How you wonder? Clothes – nope. Discman – nope, but I do own and still use it for my meditation cds. Elimination of mobile phone – no way. So how am I going retro? I’m mailing out birthday cards this year.

Yes. I said mailing out birthday cards.

I remember growing up and would begin checking the mailbox after September 10th for that very special piece of mail which was only for me. A card with a birthday wish celebrating the day I was born.

Fast forward and birthday wishes are now done via an electronic card or by posting on someone’s Facebook wall and that’s when I realized I wanted to reconnect with people the old fashioned way.

How’s my plan going? Interesting is the only way I can describe it. I purchased cards at my local C.V.S. and noticed the card aisles have diminished to a card aisle. When I went to send them, I realized I had no stamps as I either pay every bill online or have auto withdrawals from my checking account for large bills like my mortgage. Once I got my hands on some stamps, I was at a loss for my address book. In fact, I have yet to find it, but luckily the internet provided me with the addresses I needed.

I never asked my January birthday friends if they were surprised or even enjoyed getting something in the mail that celebrates the date of their birth, but I really enjoyed doing it and am glad I decided to go retro in 2014.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Can someone tell me when sending a R.S.V.P become optional?

Can someone tell me when a sending R.S.V.P become optional? Better yet, why is it so hard for people to commit to a social event? Have social invitations between friends fallen prey to the same bad behavior of online dating? Are people thinking that I’ll just wait to see how many invites I get and decide which one is the best offer before committing? Seriously, I want to know.

Every now-and-again, certain topics will get me going and this is one of them. If I invite you to dinner, just say yes or no. It won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to, but I’m planning dinner and need to know how much food to buy. However, I find that over the last decade people just think an invitation is a mere suggestion of something they can do, but they need not reply either way. For people like this I say: Bite Me.

For others that show real interest in getting together don’t read my invite and never respond. What you don’t realize is that I’ll send the email through Facebook so I know that you’ve read my message. It amazes me that you’ll read the message, not respond and get upset with me when I tell you I’ve made plans as I never heard back.

I’d like to say this is a novelty, but it isn’t. My point is this –if you’re not sure you can make it, let the person who sent you the email know it may not work with your schedule and that you’ll get back to them; better yet, throw out some dates that work for you. At some point if you continue this behavior, I’ll stop inviting you to do things because I’d like to think you want to spend time with me. Quite frankly, if I’m chasing you down, I’ll feel as if I’m another one of your obligations and friends should never feel like obligations.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cookbook Project : Book #2 - Everyday Vegetarian

This is a recent edition to my cookbook collection. I came across it after reading an article about this blog Green Kitchen Stories ( While the blog is all about vegetarian fare, it really is a food porn site. Oh. My. God. The pictures in this blog pop out and make you want to recreate them even if you’re in the mood to sink your teeth into a juicy rib eye steak.

I figured if I was going to ask my husband to take the plunge and eat a vegetarian dish, he should like what he’s eating. As I thumbed through the book, I was excited with the unique recipes I’d never find in an American cookbook. The authors live in Sweden and I find European cookbooks may use spices/herbs I wouldn’t see in an American cookbook – and they also combine ingredients I never thought I would.

I selected 5 recipes and my husband picked a breakfast recipe. I thought I’d make this the morning after cleaning up a very messy kitchen from the dinner party we had the night before. I made the right choice. This recipe required very little ingredients and hardly any dishes, so I knew I wouldn’t have another messy kitchen to clean up.

Opinion: I have to admit, I’m not an oatmeal fan, but the combination of the berries and seeds with maple syrup made the dish more like a muffin than oatmeal. The oatmeal absorbed all the berry juice as it was cooking and somehow took on more a cake texture. While I used the blackberries and pumpkins as called for in the recipe, I think I’d like to try blueberries and walnuts next time.

We both liked the dish and so did the electrician who was working on our house (he even asked for the recipe) so I’d make again. This would also make a great breakfast if you have house guests staying with you – fancy, yet casual dish.

The dish looked like this:

Baked Crunchy Blackberry Oatmeal

- 14 oz/ 3 ¼ c fresh blackberries (thawed if using frozen)
- 2 c rolled oats
- 1 t baking powder
- ½ t ground ginger or 1 t grated fresh ginger
- A pinch of sea salt (I’ve read a ‘pinch’ is 1/8 t)
- 2 lg eggs
- 2 ¼ c almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 t pure vanilla extract
- ¼ c pure unsweetened apple syrup or honey, maple syrup or agave syrup (note: there is a recipe for apple syrup in this cookbook, but I used maple syrup)
- 1 T coconut oil (at room temperature), plus extra for greasing the pan
- ¾ c pumpkin seeds (pepitas) generous ½ c hazelnuts toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease the bottom of an 8x10 in baking dish with coconut oil and spread the berries in an even layer in the dish, then set aside.
2. Combine the rolled oats, baking powder, ginger and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, add the milk and vanilla and whisk well to combine.
3. To create the crunchy top layer, put the apple syrup, 1 T coconut oil, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts in a small bowl and mix with your fingers to make sure everything is well coated.
4. Spoon the oat mixture into the baking dish to cover the blackberries, and then pour the egg mixture over the oats so everything is evenly soaked. Sprinkle the seed and nut mixture on top and bake for 35-40 minutes. When it’s done, the oatmeal should be set and the nuts and seeds lightly browned and crunchy. Leave to cool slightly before serving.
Tip: For a vegan alternative: measure 2 T chia seeds into a small bowl and 1/3 c water. Stir with a spoon and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Use in place of the eggs.
Tip: For a gluten-free alternative, choose gluten-free oats.