Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Book That Made Me Realize I Was Going to Love Books and Reading

Do you know that this year marks the 50th Anniversary of a book that my children loved when they were little? Well I say a book they loved, but actually, I don't believe they ever read the book, they only saw the movie. The book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Do you know this book? Have you read it? Or maybe you have only seen the movie? The one starring Gene Wilder in the role of Willie Wonka or maybe the one with Johnny Depp in the role?

Most people probably only know this book because of the movie, which is a bit sad because the book is so much better! All books are so much better! You never hear someone read the book and then watch the movie and say "the movie was better"! Nope, you always heard them coming out of the theater and saying ''that was disappointing, the book was so much better!"

Which is why I am glad that I never got to see movies as a kid. We always lived out on the ranches my dad worked at and usually they were always 20 or so miles from the nearest towns, making it crazy to go just to see a movie! So I read books instead. Tons of books! I devoured them like they were M&M's!

Great Expectations, Little Women, Little Men, Charlotte's Webb, Alice in Wonderland, The Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Wizard of Oz, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Heidi, Swiss Family Robinson, Black Beauty, I could go on and on!

But my very favorite, the one I still remember to this day, the book that made me realize I was going to love books and reading forever was The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney.

As I remember, this was the cover of the book I had. The Five Little Peppers had such great adventures and they were so kind to each other and they always did things together and even though they were poor they were happy. I would read it over and over again.

I didn't realize it but this was not the only book written about the Five Little Peppers. After this one there were 11 more books about the Peppers, 12 all total. Sad to say I only knew about this one. I'm think I need to keep an eye out at my favorite used book store to see if I can find the rest of them.

I hope that parents continue to read to their children and that they let their children see them reading. My mom read a lot, and we followed her lead. Turn off the TV and hand your child a book and just let them spend some quiet time getting lost in a another world, another time. Nurture a love of reading and books. Maybe go out and buy the 50th Anniversary copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and read it with them!

What book was your favorite as a child, or which book do you remember reading most?

This post was inspired by the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To celebrate, Penguin Young Readers Group, in partnership with Dylan’s Candy Bar, the world-famous candy emporium, and First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides books for children from low-income families, is launching a year-long international celebration.

Head over to From Left to Write to learn how you and your child can have a chance to win the Golden Ticket Sweepstakes where the grand prize is a magical trip to New York City plus much more! For every entry submitted, Penguin Young Readers Group will make a donation to First Book. Then, join From Left to Write on July 24 as we discuss Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As a book club member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

One New Thing a Week and I'm Already Behind! Low-Carb Strawberry Shortcake and a Birthday Girl!

So on June 29th I did my first post of my new plan to cook and post one new low-carb dish each week instead of eating the same old thing every day. Here is the link to the post and if you want to see my yummy Jalapeno Deviled Eggs it would be well worth the visit, they were fabulous!

Well...here it is July 17th and I believe 2 weeks have gone by and I didn't post anything new! I'm really not very good at this planning stuff I think.

But today I'm going to share something pretty special. I was blown away by it. Check it out!



Does that not just jump right out at you and say "EAT ME!"

Now before you all start applauding and telling me how wonderful and creative a low-carb cook I am, let me tell you that this is not my creation. Nope, this delectable dessert wonder is the creation of my co-worker and dear friend Angelica.

Every year for each other's birthday we try to create a Low-Carb dessert or meal as a surprise for the other one, and this year she made this Low-Carb Strawberry Shortcake. The cake is made with almond flour and the vanilla ice cream is also home-made. Not sure with what ingredients because my mouth was too full of ice cream to ask!!!

My birthday will be this Sunday and I'm taking the day off from work tomorrow for a road trip with my sister Lisa. Our plan is to go SOUTH and see what we find. I love not having a plan and just going! My dad used to love to do that as well, that must be where I get it from!

So here I am...not bad for 30 right? Hahaha, yeah right. Well not bad for 56 if I do say so myself!



Thank you Angelica for the great Birthday treats, my Low-Carb Strawberry Shortcake and my Sugar-free Iced Vanilla Coffee from Starbucks, you're a doll!

 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

One New Thing a Week Starting Today and Who Doesn't Love Bacon? Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs

Loving my low-carb lifestyle, it's become a way of life, not just a diet. But noticed I've been getting lazy and having the same old thing. I've just been eating rotisserie chicken in salad or just alone. Last week I made Kale Salad and I loved it and realized that there are so many other low carb dishes out there and I set a goal to try at least one new recipe per week; more if I'm feeling ambitious, but at least one!

Maybe I'll even try to start up my Weekly Low Carb Wrap Up again...we'll see, baby steps here, it's summer and hot!

I get a lot of suggestions on things to make from my sister Lisa and my co-worker Angelica. Lisa recently sent me a recipe for Bacon Jalapeno Deviled Eggs from the blog Real Housemoms. You can follow the link to find the original recipe. I had to tweak it a bit to make sure that my people would eat it. Some don't like jalapeno, some don't like paprika, some don't like mustard and so on and so on...

Started by boiling a dozen eggs. I got a really great tip this weekend from Anne Burrell from the Food Network. I happened to catch an episode where she made Truffled Deviled Eggs and she said she had a foolproof way of boiling her eggs that would make them perfectly fluffy every time and you will never have that green ring around the yolk! Eggs should be two colors, yellow and white! The secret? Place your eggs in a pot, fill with tap water, BTB...bring to boil.  When they boil turn off the burner and cover for exactly 13 minutes and Voila! Perfect eggs!

While I was boiling the  perfect 13 minute egg, I fried my bacon. Is there anything prettier than bacon frying in a pan? Is there anything on this earth that smells better? Ok, well yes, babies smell better, love that baby smell...but you CAN'T eat a baby! Check this out!

Bacon Frying! Yum - Muy Bonito, Que No?

While the eggs are boiling and the bacon is frying, I'm chopping Jalapenos! I'm the Queen of Multi-Tasking! I diced them really small so that I would get a bit of Jalapeno in every bite! Love raw Jalapeno, I put it in salads and omelette's and almost anything that needs a little crunch. It takes the place of potato chips for me. The recipe called for two, but I had a really big one so I just diced up the one. I seeded it first to take out some of the spiciness.

Also Muy Bonito! Green...my fav color!

So eggs were done, ran them under cold water to cool them off so I could peel them. Peeled them, cut them in half, removed the yoke and placed the yolk in a separate bowl and sure enough, beautifully yellow! Forgot to take a picture, but you'll see how yellow my final pictures are below.

I made my egg yolks a bit more simple than the recipe, just mayonnaise, a tad of salt as the bacon would add it's own saltiness, some black pepper about a half teaspoon of regular yellow mustard, not the powdered kind, just the one you put on your hot dogs.

The one thing I did try from the recipe is to add some sugar, I thought maybe it would offset the saltiness of the bacon and you know what? It did! It really added something to it. I only used maybe one quarter teaspoon. Added the bacon and mixed. I didn't add the jalapeno yet as I wanted to make half without jalapeno.

Now in the recipe you place the egg mixture in a plastic bag with a piping tip and pipe them in all nice and pretty but you know what? It's over 100 degrees outside and spending additional time in a warm kitchen when I could be eating in front of the air conditioner was just not in the cards today, so I spooned them in instead.

Here's the bacon only ones that I made. I think they still look rather pretty, even without the piping. The recipe called for a sprinkle of Paprika, but again...my people are not big fans of the Paprika and I think mine was old anyway as it was more brown than a rusty red color, so I tossed it.

Huevos (Eggs) without the Jalapeno!

Here are the ones I really thought tasted much better, but that's because I'm partial to that Jalapeno and the crunchiness! They were delicious!

Mmmm, all that's missing is an ice cold beer!

I only used 6 slices of bacon so with the rest I made BLT sandwiches. Of course I didn't have the BLT as it's not low carb with the bread, but I did enjoy sprinkling my portion of bacon on top of the eggs. Yum!

So technically, this is the one new thing for the week, so I don't have to worry about making anything new this week, but you never know because I know that Lisa and Angelica will be sending me yummy recipes to try! Have a great week everyone!


 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kale - A Delicious Super Food!

Have you heard of Kale? Have you tried it yet? Did you know that a lot of people consider it the #1 Super food?

Photo Credit - PositiveMed.com

One day last week my cupboards were bare and I had nothing to take for lunch. So I went to my local Von's Grocery Store to see what they had in their deli that I might be able to eat that would be within my low carb way of eating. I saw they had some tuna salad so I was waiting to get some of that when an older gentleman asked the deli clerk for some of the Kale Salad, then he turned to me and said, "Have you had their Kale Salad? It's out of this world." He told the clerk, "Give this young lady some Kale Salad."

Well thank goodness that gentleman was there that day because I never would have asked for a sample and I never would have found out how great Kale is!

Here's a photo of my lunch that day. Tuna was simple, but good, just a bit of onion and celery and pickle. But the star of the lunch hour was the Kale Salad. It had so many great ingredients and I kept finding new things in it! Von's Kale Salad had Kale of course, dried cranberries, fresh blueberries, red onion, sunflower seeds, slivered onions, carrots and pomegranate seeds. The dressing was a Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Now I know this probably had a lot of sugar, but I went ahead and bought some and shared it with my co-worker and decided I would try to make it a bit more low carb.


So today I search for some recipes and I found this video from Aarti Sequeira. I love Aarti! I remember watching her on The Next Food Network Star and was so happy when she won. If you have a chance watch her video HERE, she's got the most pleasant personality and I love her voice!

Her recipe was super simple and she just added Mango. I didn't have Mango, plus Mango is high in sugar which brings the carb count up. So I massaged the Kale as she explains in her video, then while it wilted and softened I made a dressing almost similar to the one she did except that I used Splenda instead of Honey...again, the carb count.

Once the dressing was made I combined it with the kale, some blueberries cut in half, a handful of walnuts, another handful of pepitas, some red onion and lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste! Here's a picture of mine. I had shredded carrots but they are also high in sugar and before you know it that sugar can add up!


I had some leftover pork chops I'd pan fried yesterday for dinner so I re-heated it. The Kale Salad was a perfect companion! Doesn't this look yummy?



Can't wait to try it other ways and with other ingredients. You can also cook it, so can't wait to try that also. Have you ever had Kale? Got any good recipes or suggestions?

To find Aarti's recipe click HERE

 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Beach Trip to Re-Charge!

Yesterday my sister and I decided since it was going to be over 100 degrees in Shafter that it was probably a good idea to head somewhere way, way cooler!

We gassed up the car and decided to head to the beach!

We weren't sure if we should head south to Santa Barbara or west to Pismo. We figured Santa Barbara was probably going to be pretty crowded, so Pismo it was. Little did we know that this weekend was the huge and very crowded Pismo Car Show. We had decided when we left home to have lunch at this cute little restaurant called Alphy's Broiler.


We'd been there before and had a really yummy Oriental Salad made with assorted cabbages, scallions, carrots, chicken breast, almonds, cilantro, crispy wonton strips and their own sesame ginger dressing. It is out of this world and we were really excited to have it again!

So it was sad to realize that due to all the crowds and the traffic jam on the freeway that we wouldn't be able to even get there unless we were willing to wait in huge lines of cars and even then we were pretty sure that it was going to be standing room only. So we opted to go to another really great place in Pismo, Zorro's Cafe and Cantina.


The cool thing about this restaurant is that you can eat outdoors and pets are allowed. So there is always someone there with a cute dog. I've eaten there before with my daughter and her puppy Chorizo. Here's Chorizo sitting tableside at Zorro's back in October of 2011. We've been coming here ever since. Isn't she adorable!


We were lucky and for once there wasn't a long wait. We got a table on the sidewalk outdoors. The weather was awesome, the sun was shining but there was a refreshing breeze coming off the ocean which was only a couple of blocks away. Unfortunately they didn't have an Oriental Salad, so I decided to have their Sombrero Burger, a half pound Angus beef patty on a sesame seed bun with grilled sliced japapeno, queso fresco cheese and guacamole and their spicy homemade chimi sauce. I asked for a sample of the chimi sauce and didn't care for it at all, so I requested the burger with no bread,  no chimi sauce and a salad instead of fries...very low carb and very delicious!

My sister Lisa had the California Burger, same kind of beef, on bread (and she did eat the bread), avocado, jack cheese and sprouts. She said it was great as well.

Then we headed down the street to the beach where we just sat and talked and read a little bit in our books and walked and took pictures and talked to people. We had a great time and the weather was perfect! This was our view as we sat in this small park.


Across the street from where we were sitting we noticed that there was a house for sale. Now this neighborhood has houses in every nook and cranny. People don't mind living in each other's living rooms in return for living ocean side. Here's the house. We peeked through the windows and it was just a cute little house, but we immediately started dreaming on buying this house and how we would fix it up and have coffee in the cute little breakfast nook in the morning and wine on the lanai at night.



The great thing about this house is the view! This is what we would see while we had our morning coffee and our evening glass of wine! We had a lot of fun just imagining what life would be like, the parties we would have, the people we would invite to visit.



Today my sister looked this house up on zillow.com. We figured it would probably be $1,000,000 or there abouts. If this same house were for sale in Bakersfield you probably wouldn't get more than $50,000, but guess how much this house is because it's ocean front property?



Yep, a cool $1.5 million!!! I guess Lisa and I had better start playing the lottery! But it was still fun to dream and we had a great day. Got a little sunburned, had some great food and got to spend sister time together. Definitely we have to do this more often!

 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Prince Charming

When I was a little girl, like all little girls, I wanted to marry my daddy. But I was told that I couldn't, he belonged to my mommy so I figured I better look around and see what else was out there.

One of the best places to find a man to marry when I was about 11, 12 and 13 years old was television, as I was still a bit too young to hit the clubs and online match making hadn't been invented yet!

So right away I fell madly in love with Heath Barkley, the gorgeous baby brother on the fabulous show The Big Valley which ran from 1965 to 1969.

Heath, Audra, Jarrod, Victoria and Nick 


Heath was the strong, silent type, yet with his blondish good looks he was just The Golden Boy to me.

I watched that show religiously and at night time I would fall asleep dreaming of being his wife and living on The Big Valley Ranch and being best friends with his sister Audra, who was gorgeous!

The funny thing is it wasn't Lee Majors I was in love with…nope, it was Heath Barkley. When Lee did The Six Million Dollar Man television show he didn't do anything for me.

It was Heath I was in love with. Maybe it was the cowboy hat or watching him ride around on that horse, but he was just so manly!




Nick Barkley on the left and Heath with those smoldering eyes staring right into my soul and winning my heart!

In a pinch I would have taken his brother Nick Barkley, portrayed by Peter Breck. Nick was a bit of a bad boy, which is why I didn't love him as much as Heath, but he was just as good looking!



Then all of a sudden Heath had some competition! A new television show came on the horizon called Medical Center, which ran from 1969 to 1976. The main character was Dr. Joe Gannon.

Dr. Joe Gannon was played by the gorgeous actor, Chad Everett. He had these piercing blue eyes!

Dr. Joe Gannon was a surgeon and worked in a busy hospital somewhere in Los Angeles.

I loved that show and I loved Chad Everett and all of a sudden I knew I would have to leave The Big Valley to move to the Big City....Los Angeles to be the wife of a doctor!

I remember so well how I would just dream of both these men, it's makes me laugh now at how young and naive I was!

Who was your childhood fantasy crush? Do you remember these shows?


 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

King of the Row Crop and We Are Our Father's Daughters!

Our dad was King of the Row Crop. That man could grow anything! When I was just a baby we lived in Arizona where he farmed cotton and hay. Once we moved here to Kern County he farmed lettuce, bell pepper, potatoes, and tomatoes and those are just the things I knew about, I’m sure there were tons of other produce that he farmed that I didn't know about.

One year he had a crop of romaine lettuce that was legendary! All you saw as far as the eye could see was rows upon rows of beautiful, huge, green Romaine Lettuce! I'm not even kidding, just look at the picture! That's my dad and his romaine lettuce!

I remember going out there with my mom and siblings and our children to see them. He had been bragging and begging us to come out to the ranch. Mom took her video camera and we have some beautiful footage of my dad walking in his fields and talking to his workers. It’s something I will never forget. Just as I cherish this picture that I took that day. Dad loved farming!

None of us...his children...were born with as green a thumb as his. But we do try! Recently my sister and I remembered a flower that my mom used to grow when we lived in the Imperial Valley. In Spanish we knew it as Rayo de Sol, translated to Ray of Sunshine. The lady that lived next door to us there, Vicenta, cut a small clipping off of her existing plant and gave it to my mom. She planted it and it just grew like gangbusters!!! The official name of the plant is Portulaca, but it's called by many names.

What I loved at the time and remember now about the flower is that it bloomed best and most beautifully during the dog days of summer! The hotter it was the happier this flower was and the bigger it smiled. My sister Lisa and I recently went on a hunt for Portulaca and had to go to several different nursery's before finally finding it and buying a flat which we split in half. And then we got to planting!

The first picture are my flowers, the second are Lisa's flowers. Not bad right?

ALICIA'S RAYO DE SOL/PORTULACA
LISA'S RAYO DE SOL/PORTULACA
The one flat gave us enough plants to fill two big planters like the ones pictured here and then a smaller one. I think we did a pretty good job following in our father's footsteps or green thump print!

My dad fed the world with what he planted and grew and harvested...so we are starting small here, but I think we're doing pretty good for rookies!

Have you ever heard of these flowers? What's your favorite flower? Do you have a green thumb?

 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mini Baby Bell Peppers and What I did with Them and how to get out of a Funk after a Stressful Day!

There are so many memories that we leave behind to those that love us. My dad left a lot of them. Even when he was just going through his normal day he would say something random and not realize that it would stick in my mind forever. For example...I can never look at baby corn without thinking of my dad.

My dad loved salads! He actually loved all vegetables and fruits. I remember one time when we ate at a place that had a salad bar and he found these little baby corns and he filled his plate with them. Then when he got back to the table he showed them to me and tried to make me eat one by telling me, "Mira, los mataron chiquitos" translated he said, "Look, they killed them little". Well that made me want to eat them even less, but every time I see baby corn I remember my dad and it makes me smile. Remember, we are all making memories for others every day, so make them good ones!

My wonderful baby sister Lisa made a good memory for me today. Today was a super stressful day at work! I wasn't in the best of moods. I just wanted to come home and lock myself in my room and watch TV and probably eat something not very healthy for me. But hanging on my fence was this little bag.


Little baby bell peppers! Los mataron chiquitos! I had been wanting to buy these little peppers since forever, but a bag of them is about $4.79 and I wasn't sure I would like them or what I would do with them, but Lisa found them at our local grocery store for 99 cents! At least she told me they were 99 cents, but I wouldn't put it past her to pay $5 for them just to make me happy!

So what to do, what to do with them???

I remembered that I had some Pork Carnitas left over from a weekend breakfast. I had just shredded them and put them in a plastic container this morning. I also remembered I had some browned ground turkey make with taco seasoning. And then I remembered I had some cream cheese and that sounded really good so I went Cahrazy!

First I cleaned those little bad boys, which was easy because they weren't very big and didn't have a lot of seeds. Then I cut them in half. I warmed up the Carnitas and mixed them with some salsa that was left from the weekend and some shredded cheese and stuffed about six of them and topped them with some sliced black olives. I filled another six with the ground turkey, topped them with cheese and more olives and then the rest I filled with cream cheese and topped them with bacon bits and freshly ground black pepper.

Then I baked them at 350 for about 10 to 12 minutes.


Check these out! These are the ones made with Carnitas! They were so delicious! I was going to top them with Sour Cream but it wasn't necessary, they were perfect as they were!


Then I sampled one of the ground turkey peppers. I have to be honest and say I liked the turkey ones better, but then I love my ground turkey with taco seasoning!



Once the cream cheese ones were done I put a few of each on a plate, grabbed my glass of wine and sat down to munch away on my delicious...and LOW CARB...yummies!




My stressful day melted away with the help of memories of my daddy, loving thoughtfulness shown to me by my baby sister Lisa, beautiful bright colors of the baby peppers who died chiquitos just to please me and a lovely glass of wine. Plus some Pandora Music on my computer and lots of singing at the top of my lungs to the dismay of my kids and the doggies...but oh well! It got me out of my funk!


 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bittersweet Memories of my First Time Away from my Family


This post was inspired by the book Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a novel that exposes the Gothic underbelly of an American Dynasty, and an outsider's hunger to belong. Join From Left to Write on May 20 as we discuss Bittersweet. As a member I received a copy of the book for review purposes.



In 1975 I was chosen by the American Legion to attend Girls State. Girls State is a leadership program designed by the American Legion to increase awareness and knowledge of governmental processes while learning about the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of citizenship. As a Girls State delegate I was chosen to go to Sacramento after writing an essay and going through multiple interviews by members of the American Legion. It was a huge honor for me and a great experience.

It was also my first time ever away from home, away from my parents, the first time ever of not sleeping in my own bed with my sister by my side. It was awesome!!! Bet you thought I was going to say it was scary right? Or that I got homesick? No Way! It was one of the best experiences of my life.

My parents sent me off on a Greyhound bus with several others girls from local schools. It was a long bus ride from Brawley, CA to Sacramento, CA and the bus stopped in every single little town along the way, but I was  mesmerized! I had never been any further North than Anaheim! I loved seeing all the small towns and big cities.

Once we got there we had to handle all our own suitcases and deal with finding out what dorm room we had been assigned to and who our roommates were going to be. I wish I had thought to have a blog back in high school and that I had written about this experience because I have forgotten most of it. But what I do remember is the camaraderie and the feelings of being a part of something with the other girls. We would gather after dinner to hear a speaker and we would sing songs and stand, arm in arm, swaying and laughing and crying.

When we all had to leave each other it was heart breaking! We had all grown so close and we swore to always keep in touch. Well that didn't happen, unfortunately. But it was a great experience and it was great for someone as shy as I used to be to go through the process, the interviews and then being away from home and family and with complete strangers. But I did it and I grew and I am a better person for having had the experience. I'm glad my parents gave me wings and let me fly!

What was your first time away from home? College, military, marriage?

 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Tales of the Bathroom and Multiple Uses for Foil

Foil Paper…it’s a multi-use wonder.

There are so many things that you can do with it. Such as:
  • Soften brown sugar. 
  • Keep food warm. 
  • Make a funnel. 
  • Protect pie crust. 
  • Oven Cleaner 
  • Scrubber 
  • Reheating 
  • Scare birds in the garden 
  • Cleaning your iron 
  • Sharpen Scissors
  • Polish Chrome 
  • Clean the grill 
  • Light reflector for photography 
  • Protect your brain waves from eavesdroppers and mind control…ok, that one is just a myth, but you never know right? 
I can remember my mom making burritos and wrapping them in foil to keep them warm during the summers when we would work in the tomato and cotton fields. Those were the best burritos we ever tasted!

So why my fascination with foil paper today? Well prepare yourselves for another round of strange things I find in the women's bathroom at work!!

I've done a few posts before about the strange things I find in the shared women's bathroom here in the building where I work. Once it was a Plastic Fork...right on the toilet paper dispenser. Another time I found a Peanut Husk ...right on the sanitary napkins dispenser. Well it's happened again, just look at this picture and tell me what you think!


It's a balled up piece of foil, sitting on the floor in the women's bathroom, in one of the stalls, right underneath the toilet.  Now remember the list of uses for foil above? Do any of those uses have anything to do with the bathroom? What could you possibly take into the bathroom that would require you to cover it in foil first? What could you possibly want to keep that fresh? Or that warm?

Or I guess you could use it as a scrubber? Maybe for someone toilet paper just isn't doing the job?

I shudder to think!

.