Monday, September 29, 2014

From Left to Write - Barracuda and Family

Just finished the book Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas for my online book club, From Left to Write. As a member of From Left to Write I received a free copy of the book for review purposes. We don't actually review the book, instead we write a blog post inspired by something in the book. Barracuda is a novel where former Olympic hopeful Dan destroys his swimming career and his attempt at redemption after prison.

After reading the book I had not one thought about what to write about. I didn't really enjoy reading the book and wondered what I was missing. So I logged into my Goodreads account and read several reviews by different people and realized that several people felt like me about the book, so that made me feel better.

One of the things that I did notice in the story-line is how important family is. In my life I've had several ups and downs. Times when I was so happy I had to share it with someone and times when I was so down and devastated that I needed someone by my side to provide comfort, love and safety and in all those times it has been family.

Whether they were there to teach me right from wrong, like my maternal grandmother who once reprimanded me for tossing the car keys to my mom when she asked for them. My grandmother very sternly advised me that I was being disrespectful and to never throw anything to or at my parents and made me go get the keys from my mother, walk back to her and then walk back to my mother and hand them to her.

Or whether they were there to give me advice about life and the choices we make, like my paternal grandfather who gave me the best advice I've ever received when I was married and torn between ending my marriage to an abusive man or staying for the sake of my children and because of my Catholic faith. My grandfather told me, "Mejor sola que mal acompanda." Better alone than in bad company.

When I got sick with Cancer several years ago, it was my family that was by my side. I remember my brother Fred, when I told him I was going to have surgery he asked me for the date so he could ask his boss for the time off. I told him he didn't have to take the time off, that I would be fine and that my mom and dad, my sister Lisa, my daughter April and my son James would all be there. He said, "Are you kidding? I am going to be there too! Alicia, sometimes you don't wake up from the anesthesia." At the time I thought that was a very depressing thing to hear, but later I realized that if that was going to be my last day on this earth, then the last few minutes would have my brother Fred in it, because he loved me and nothing else mattered more to him that day.

Through all the trials and tribulations that Dan/Danny went through in the book, his family was there to love and support him, even when he didn't appreciate them, when he was downright mean and nasty to them, when he cared only about himself and they were just bit players the in life of Danny, they were still there for them, because family loves you for the rest of your life, no matter what!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baby J Sunday! Hat and Fall in the Air!

I just finished reading the book Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. It's one of the September book selections for my online book club, From Left to Write. Without giving anything away I have to say that I really didn't enjoy reading this book. I should be working on a blog post for the book as it's due tomorrow, but unfortunately the book just wasn't my cup of tea and I still feel like I don't have a clue what the book was about.

So I will work on that post later, but for right now I want to share my Baby J Sunday, Sunday, Sunday photos! Let me start by saying that I didn't take too many today. Baby J was super fast today. She's a hard one to pin down. You aim the camera at her and say "Baby J, say cheese!" She says "Cheese" and is off before you even have a chance to snap the photo!

My sister Lisa (Baby J's grandmother) had recently asked us to keep an eye out for hats for Baby J when we're on one of our Thrifting Treasure Hunts. Yesterday mom and I were out running errands and had a chance to stop at one Goodwill Store. We usually hit them all but darn it, we just ran out of time yesterday!

But we were in luck because there were tons of Halloween costumes at Goodwill and we found a beautiful little white hat with a furry trim and a white veil. We knew Baby J would love it and she did!

First photo is Baby J in her white hat, she did love it and wouldn't take it off. It makes my mom so happy to see Baby J enjoying the things she buys for her! Don't you adore that DIMPLE???? As usual we had breakfast and then Baby J dragged us outside to play with the dogs and her sidewalk chalk.

One thing that frightens her are loud noises, like big trucks that go by that have really loud motors! In the bottom left picture she had just come running up to me scared. You can see she looks a little shaken up, but she had beautiful hair going today. Love her curls!

Then it was time for Baby J to head home and you can see her kissing her great grandmother goodbye, wearing her pretty little hat. She has a special bond with her Nana and it brings joy to my heart to see my mom laughing at this little wonder.

That's it for Baby J Sunday this week, I hope next week I'm either a little bit faster or Baby J is a little bit slower. Have a great week!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

A New Circus Member - Baby J Sunday!

I'm sitting here at my kitchen table on a day that FINALLY feels a little bit like Fall! I've even been inspired to sprinkle some cinnamon in my coffee so I feel toasty warm inside while I sit here in shorts and flip flops. C'mon Fall!!!

So I'm waiting...waiting for a new cast member to our family. A new monkey to our circus. I say that because my sister and I have a new motto that we love!

Not My Circus...Not My Monkeys!

It's an old Polish saying reminding us to deal with our own life and problems and don't get caught up in other peoples drama and craziness. A great reminder to all of us. We certainly have more than enough to do just rounding up and keeping our own monkeys in line!

We have a new little monkey in our life! I haven't introduced her before now and she will be two years old in I believe February. So without further ado I introduce to you Baby J!

My Grand Niece Baby J
Now you all know that I am too young to be a grandmother right? Luckily my younger sister Lisa is old enough to be a grandmother so when her son Sean had a baby girl, that made me a Great Aunt according to Merriam Websters definition.

You will all remember that our Ring Master, my dad passed away last year in July. He never had a chance to meet Baby J in person. But he did get to see many pictures of her and every time he did he would talk to that picture like she was right there with him.

Baby J, hopefully someday you will read this blog post and if you do I want you to know that your Tata knew you, he loved you, you were part of his circus and you will always have a special Angel in Heaven just for you!

I am just obsessed with taking pictures of this child because she is so darned photogenic! And she is so smart, she did everything before schedule, walking, talking, everything!

I am so lucky that I get to have my mom live with me. I consider myself even luckier because my wonderful nephew, daddy of Baby J wants to make sure that Baby J knows and remembers her great grandmother.

Baby J with her Daddy
So every Sunday morning he brings her over to spend most of the morning with us. We play with her, feed her daddy with a special breakfast and then we head outside to the backyard to play with the dogs, swim in the pool, play with sidewalk chalk, throw balls, run and just enjoy the blessing that is Baby J in our lives!

My mom is just smitten with this little girl. This is her only great grand baby. My sister has only boys and this is her first granddaughter. I don't have a grandchild, so I'm an honorary grandmother to this one.

Someday I know that Baby J's daddy may get a job where his hours change or since he just finished the police academy he may get a job where he has to live in another town and we may not get to spend every Sunday morning with this Angel, so I relish the opportunity to know her and I squeeze every bit of joy out of it. Every Sunday I will proclaim in this circus to be Baby J Sunday and I'll post pictures taken that day so I can keep a record for her of how much she means to our circus!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Me and Mom...not two peas in a pod

Never has this quote been more relevant than it is today, in so many ways. We've all heard about the alarming rate of obesity in our youth. The fact that many of them in their 20’s are already suffering with Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, and other illnesses in which weight is a factor, such as lower back pain, knee and joint pain. Young adults! In their 20’s!

I watch different “experts” argue back and forth about what is causing this and I think “duh”. It’s not even an argument, the difference in the world since I was a child and now is extreme. We had P.E. (Physical Education) in school as a normal, required part of the curriculum. Our mothers ran us outside to go play, we rode bikes and ran around playing tag and keep away and dodge ball. We had home cooked meals, not carb-laden pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers and fries! That’s the difference! Our bread turned green if we didn’t use it within a few days, now products are filled with preservatives and a loaf of bread will last for weeks before it even begins to turn green.

Being a single working mom I can remember stopping on the way home to pick up a pizza or some burgers because I was too tired to stop and pick up fresh food and go home and cook, it was just easier to feed my kids fast food, so I’m definitely not pointing fingers here as I did the same things a lot of parents out there are doing. But…that is not why I’m writing this today or why the above quote is relevant. The quote is relevant because of my mother and because of me.

 Mom lives with me and from childhood she has been a picky eater. She’s told me stories of when she was a young girl and they would have a family get together where everyone would bring a potluck dish and she would be disgusted by most of them, she was happy with just beans and tortillas. That hasn't changed much at all, she is still happy with just beans and tortillas. The problem is that beans and tortillas are not cutting it nutritionally for mom. The food she is choosing to eat now is not good medicine for her, it’s not healthy and that worries me like crazy.

She has many stomach issues and I try to explain to her that maybe she needs to not eat so many glutens and I explain to her what glutens are and what foods they are in, which is most of the food she eats which is mainly a diet based on grains. She lives on tortillas, flour tortillas. Bread, cereal, cookies, chocolate muffins, canned biscuits, macaroni and cheese (from a box!), instant pancake mix, pastas, pastries, potato chips, corn chips. She lives on processed meats, bologna, deli ham, hot dogs, chorizo, sausage, canned Spam and pepperoni. She will not eat a piece of chicken to save her life and she would rather die than ever eat fish! She won’t eat ground beef, turkey or chicken. She might eat a piece of beef here and there but it has to be cooked to the consistency of charcoal. She will eat pork chops, but again they are cooked to shoe leather.

She would probably kill me if she knew I was writing all this but darn it!!! I’m worried sick about her all the time and I can’t get her to understand that food is a medicine; proper foods will make her feel better! She’s constantly having stomach pains and it’s gotten to where she doesn't even want to leave the house because her stomach pain is so bad. Doctors have done MRI’s and Ultrasounds trying to find the reason for her discomfort. Some say it’s Diverticulitis, some say it’s a Fatty Liver, they give her various medicines which just make her feel worse but there is one thing I am certain of and that is that she doesn’t tell them that all day long she eats nothing but poison!!!

It is so difficult to watch her be in pain and to know that she won’t help herself by eating healthier. And mom is not a wimp…she has smoked since the age of 14 and two years ago she quit, cold turkey! Just decided to stop and has not picked up a cigarette since. I am so proud of her accomplishing that and I feel terrible nagging her to eat better when she has already made such a huge sacrifice in giving up smoking!

If mom had her way she would be happy if she never had to take a bite of food again in her life and could just take a pill that would ease her hunger and provide all her nutrition for the day. She hates food!!

I often kid with her that fate has put two very mismatched people together. Mom hates food. Because of her metabolism she can eat all those carb laden foods I wrote about above, she can eat candy, pretty much anything she wants and she doesn't gain weight, but the fact of the matter is that she doesn't want anything. On the other hand, I love food, love it! Love the taste and textures of so many foods and I can’t eat them! I have to watch every bite I put into my mouth. I have to count carbs and plan ahead if I am going to eat out. I want to eat everything I see, but I can't eat any of it!!! That's just not fair!!

Anyone else have problems with picky older eaters? What do you do to help them eat healthier?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It’s a Brave New World and sometimes I think I’m too old to live in it!

It’s a Brave New World and sometimes I think I’m too old to live in it! Why you ask? Well let me tell you a story.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit our local shopping mall. The Valley Plaza Mall. The Valley Plaza or the Mall as I will refer to it from here on out is pretty big, about 1,100,000 square feet with over 140 stores, the anchor stores being Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney's and Target.

I'm not a big fan of the Mall, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been there in the past few years to do actual shopping. I do love a restaurant there named Que Pasa and I go there often to eat because they have the best street tacos! You get one of each, Pork Carnitas, Carne Asada, and Chicken plus a bit of guacamole and green salsa. The price is reasonable and I like that it doesn't come with rice and beans as I've never cared for rice and beans that much anyway, just not worth the carbs.

Photo Credit - Que Pasa

But my sister Lisa was looking for a dress for a wedding. She'll be in the bridal party so she needed something formal. We hit the bridal stores but decided to try J.C. Penney's and Macy's as well. Penney's and Macy's are pretty close to each other but Que Pasa is way over on the other side of the Mall and we decided to just walk over there and get some exercise in as an excuse to eat more carbs and calories!

A LOT has changed at the Mall from when I used to go there all the time before I got married and when my kids were smaller. It's a circus now! I could not believe how stressful a trip to the Mall was.

We both could not believe the atmosphere. The mall now caters heavily to youth and children. I don't know how people have money to spend inside the actual stores considering all the attractions in the mall area itself. They had a train ride.

Stationary rides...

And they even had this sling shot ride where parents and kids were lined up for miles so their kids could ride a contraption similar to this. I can only imagine how much it cost to ride this! And the kids in the sling riding it, they all look bored and entitled to me, but maybe that's because I'm old?

And there were several of these placed strategically near all the other attractions.

So kids are running around, whining, yelling, chasing each other. Parents are oblivious as they are used to the noise and chaos of children. Dad's are supposed to be watching the kids, but you can see the dad's sitting staring at their phones and the mom's in the stores shopping. Mean while, Lisa and I are dodging kids to keep from being run over!

When we did venture into a store the music blaring was enough to strike us deaf! Outside of Macy's they even had a Dee-Jay! A Dee-Jay blaring out hip-hop music!!You couldn't hear yourself think, let alone be able to talk to each other. Kids running in and out, under clothing racks and climbing on chairs. It was ridiculous!

Finding someone that works in a store to help you was a challenge as well. No one wears "work appropriate clothing" anymore. I worked at Montgomery Wards all through college and men were required to wear a shirt and tie and women to wear a skirt, dress or dress slacks. We all work name tags, it was easy to distinguish who worked there.

Finally we found a boy working there that looked like he was a homeless teenager on his way to the beach. he was dirty and disheveled, long hair greasy. He was wearing a super-faded Hawaiian shirt and long shorts that were riding low, almost showing his butt crack and flip flops. Now granted this was at a store named Forever 21 and Lisa and I are older even than Forever 50...but still! I may make some enemies here, but there just doesn't seem to be much pride in youth today in themselves or their jobs.

Oh...for instance, if you will allow me to rant here, there is a Jack in the Box commercial that really irritates me. Jack and his lovely wife are at the movie theater and they order popcorn and sodas and the total comes to $22.50. Jack freaks out and his wife is suitably embarrassed and this is the look on the face of the young man serving them. You can see that he just doesn't give a damn! He's bored and doesn't care about selling himself, the theater or their food. And I see the look on the faces of employees all the time, at stores, restaurants, doctors offices, there is no pride in the job itself.

I know you may not agree with me, but I would love to go back to the days when stores had that quiet, sappy elevator music playing softly in the background, and stores had pleasant polite employees that would come up to ask if you needed help. Cashiers that spoke to you instead of to each other and a mall was for shopping, not an amusement park!

Ok, so there I am done ranting, thanks for listening (or reading).  I would like to believe that it's just my age, but I honestly don't think so. Have you had similar experiences? Do you go to your local mall often? Do you find that customer service has deteriorated and that it's almost non-existent? Or do you think I'm just a grumpy older lady?


Monday, September 15, 2014

The World At My Fingertips and How It Has Changed How I Read Books

Recently I noticed something has changed in the way that I read books and I’m wondering if it’s changed for you as well or if it has and you just haven’t noticed it yet.

***Note - You Kindle people will laugh at this post as you've been doing what I'm going to talk about all along, but humor me ok?***

I notice it now that I am reading The Underground Girls of Kabul for my online book group, From Left to Write, but I believe it started with a book I read about two books ago called Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.

The story in the book Revolution is set mostly in Paris and in the book, (which is quite descriptive) the main character Andi Alpers visits many places in Paris that I have never seen, since I've never been to Paris!

The description the author gives of the places is very detailed but at one point Andi is in the Catacombs of Paris and she’s describing what she sees and I just can’t picture it, no matter how well it is described. Plus it's really making me curious to know exactly what she's seeing.

Since I was on my lunch hour at work when I read this portion and sitting in front of my computer I Google the Catacombs of Paris and found the official website Les Catacombes. I was mesmerized by the photos and suddenly I felt like I was right there, in the Catacombs with Andi!

Photo Credit - Wikipedia

There was even a photo to the Entrance to the Catacombs which Andi waits at and describes in the book.

Photo Credit - Wikipedia
Later on in the book Andi is out touring the city with her love interest in the book and they sit to eat and he pulls out a dish his mother made him for lunch called Bistilla, which is a Moroccan Chicken Dish. She mentions how it is her favorite dish and she used to eat it back in the states in New York and they made it with raisins and cinnamon. A dish with pastry and chicken and raisins and cinnamon caught my attention, so I Googled that as well and found a great picture and a recipe.

Photo Credit - SBS Food

I could go on and on naming things that I didn't know of in the book or was just interested in, like the history and paintings of various kings and queens she mentions in the book. It was just so much more fun and educational to look up all these things while I was reading! It helped me to be in the moment, in the book, with Andi! That is something that I had never experienced before!

So now I'm reading The Underground Girls of Kabul and first thing I did was search for Afghanistan to see where it was in relation to Iran and Iraq and to the United States. Have you heard the country western song by Alan Jackson called Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)? I've provided a youtube video so you can listen to the song, it's beautiful and it's the song Alan Jackson wrote in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Here is a portion of the lyrics that I've heard several times but never really thought of them:

"I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man.
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can
tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran.
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
and I remember this from when I was young,
Faith, Hope and Love are some good things he gave us
and the greatest is Love."

I realized that I too don't know the difference between Iraq and Iran or where Afghanistan is, so I googled it! Now I had a frame of reference and while I was reading about the history of Afghanistan and some of the places the author mentions I was able to see it on the map. It was a whole new way of reading a book and opening my eyes up to the world!

Photo Credit -
I think of all the books I have read in the past where I really just used my imagination, which is also a great thing and I'm sure I will continue to do so when an author is speaking of something that can't be googled, but I missed out on so much in not being able to just have the world at my fingertips for all those books! Things will be changing now!

This post was inspired by The Underground Girls of Kabul, a book by journalist Jenny Nordberg, who discovers a secret Afghani practice where girls are dressed and raised as boys. Join From Left to Write on September 16th as we discuss The Underground Girls of Kabul. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almonds Snacks - Versatile and Low Carb

It's Almond Season in Kern County! You can always tell because the air is filled with dust from the "shaking of the almond trees". They use these machines that grab hold of the trunk of the almond tree and shake it vigorously to knock the almonds to the ground. Here's a video of the process. It's really amazing to watch.

We are surrounded by Almond Orchards and I think they are so beautiful. I'll have to take pictures someday when they first bloom in the spring. These next two pictures were taken by a friend of mine that is a truck driver and he was waiting in the fields for his truck to be loaded and thought he would shoot these two pictures and I thought they were really good and he let me share them with you! Thanks Ruben!

I love this one, almost like the trees are swaying and dancing! Almond tree ballerinas!

Here's a picture of the almonds being loaded into trailers where they will be taken to a packing shed for processing. You can see that the whole process creates a ton of dust and with the drought that we are having the dirt is so fine and powdery and there is nothing to wet it down with so people really suffer with allergies during this time. Luckily not me!

So my co-worker gave me a bag of raw almonds that she got from a friend of her husband. I decided to try to make some type of snack with them. Almonds are one of the worlds healthiest foods and naturally low-carb so I eat a lot of them. Usually the roasted brand you can buy in the store, but I've never worked with raw almonds!

First I made a chocolate snack. I used the almonds raw. I melted in the microwave 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream for just about 30 seconds then I stirred it and microwaved it another 10 to 15 seconds. I then added 1/4 cup of granulated Splenda and 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and stirred and stirred until it was incorporated and glossy.

I had thought I would put the almonds in the chocolate and then spoon it into little paper cups but I got lazy and just pour the whole thing into a small cake pan lined with wax paper and placed it into the fridge to harden. Then I pulled it out after about a half hour and broke it into pieces. It's not very pretty, but it sure is good! I guess I would call this LOW CARB CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK!

While the Low Carb Chocolate Almond Bark was hardening in the refrigerator I made a savory almond. The recipe I modeled my almonds after asked for Thyme, but I didn't have Thyme or time to go buy Thyme, hahaha, crack myself up.

So I looked to see what I had. I had Basil, Oregano and Italian Seasoning Mix. I figured Italian Seasoning would be great because it should have basil and oregano in it anyway and probably some thyme. Not sure what all is in there but I gave it a shot.

I read that it would be a good idea to blanch the almonds. I'd never blanched almonds but it seemed easy enough. Put raw almonds in a bowl then covered them with boiling water, covered the bowl and let sit for 1 minute, drain hot water and rinse with cold water, drain and place in a kitchen towel to finish draining and then peel each almond with your fingers.

Yeah well...that didn't work for me. As I tried to peel them they would fall apart, so I just left them with the skin on.

I then placed 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan and dropped in the almonds and sauteed them for about 10 minutes. They smelled wonderful!!! I took them off the heat and stirred in 2 tablespoons of the Italian Seasoning, sprinkled in some Kosher salt and ground some fresh black pepper on them and stirred and stirred until they were completed covered. Poured them out on a foil lined cookie sheet to cool. I stole a couple and they are yummy! I can't wait to eat them tomorrow! I thought these were much prettier though!

Now I'm going to package these up in containers and take them to the office so that Angelica and I can have healthy, yummy low-carbs snacks to nibble on when the mood strikes us. Oh...and I need to name this one, so I'm going to call it SAVORY ITALIAN ROASTED ALMONDS!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday Goodies - Low Carb Style

I've been trying to post more often, ok…not really! What I've been doing is telling myself to try to post more often.

My sister and I use my blog oftentimes as a history of what we've done in the past and what day and where we went and what we did and what we served as food or what someone served us. But in the past year or so I haven’t been posting as I should and we’re losing track of our history.

So for my faithful readers, all two or three of you, some of these posts may be boring but they are bookmarks in time, so bear with me.

Last month my co-worker Angelica had a birthday. Angelica is not only my wonderful co-worker and friend, but she is my low-carb companion through and through. We help each other and share tips and tricks and encouragement.

During the time of my dad’s illness when I was spending every spare minute I had with dad in the hospital or at the nursing home, Angelica would fix an extra low-carb lunch to share with me every single day! I can never repay her kindness and thoughtfulness; she is a very special person.

For our birthdays, she and I try to make each other a special low-carb treat since we can’t do the traditional birthday cake and ice cream or donuts or cupcakes or whatever other things people do in normal non-low-carb offices.

We each put a lot of thought into what we are going to make for the other. For my birthday in July this year, Angelica spent the weeks before trying out different low-carb ice cream and cake recipes and she created this beauty! A low-carb Strawberry Shortcake with low-carb Vanilla Ice Cream. It was delicious!

So trust me when I say that I was stressing over what I could do to top that. But Angelica has the most powerful sweet tooth in the world! She loves herself some sweets, especially chocolate. That’s why I give her so much credit for sticking to a low-carb lifestyle.

So I knew that what I wanted to make for her was something sweet and it had to be fabulous! I hunted all over the Internet world for a low-carb recipe for Truffles. I must have pinned at least 20 recipes to my Pinterest board for low-carb recipes which you really should visit, I have some great things pinned in there.

I finally found a recipe that looked simple enough that even I couldn't possibly mess it up, so I went for it! So glad I did too as they were a big hit with Angelica and it made me so happy to see her eyes light up when she saw what I had created for her. Ok, maybe created is too strong a word, so she could see what I copied from someone else, just for her!

Now how about that?? Aren't those beautiful? And so easy to make using the recipe I found over at Your Lighter Side. Kimber, the blog creator calls them Mascarpone Choconutty Bites, which is a totally acceptable name, but since I was making these as a gift I wanted to give it a fancy name, so I call them Low-Carb Truffles. You can head over to Your Lighter Side and get the RECIPE HERE.

I did everything exactly as Kimber has in her recipe. The only thing I did different, besides change the name, is once the truffle balls were dipped in the chocolate, while the chocolate was still not set I dipped two in diced walnuts, sprinkled another two with the shaved coconut. Then I made a low-carb faux graham cracker mixture using a bit of almond meal, cinnamon and Splenda and sprinkled two with that mixture. I left two naked with just the chocolate dip on them and then "BAM" as Emeril Lagasse would say, I "kicked it up a notch" and sprinkled two with bacon bits!!! BACON and Chocolate? Have I gone mad?

Nope...I'm a genius! Those were the ones we tried first. Just take a gander! The inside was chewy and gooey and deliciously coconutty. The outside was crunchy chocolate covering and then you had that salty little bit of bacon! They were fabulous!

My co-worker/friend/life saver was thrilled! Thanks Angelica for being such a great person. I am the luckiest person in the world to work alongside you every single day, day in and day out for years upon years!!! Happy Birthday again!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chicken Fried Steak from The Pioneer Woman

I love Ree Drummond! If you haven't heard about her then I assume you live under a rock with no access to the Internet or to the Food Network!

Ree Drummond is THE PIONEER WOMAN! Ree Drummond started a little old blog several years ago called The Pioneer Woman Cooks! She took that little cooking blog from a small blog to a huge blog, one of the most popular to several cookbooks and her own show on the Food Network!

What I love about Ree is that she posts step by step photos of the process of each recipe, making it super simple to follow along. Today I decided to make her Chicken Fried Steak recipe. mom she loves Chicken Fried Steak. There are very few things that my mom loves, very few. She is a very picky eater.

I noticed that whenever we eat at a restaurant she will order the Chicken Friend Steak, or the County Fried Steak or the Cowboy Steak, by any name it is simply a Chicken Fried Steak. A steak breaded and fried like you would do chicken (mom hates chicken by the way).

So I knew that someday I had to make mom homemade Chicken Fried Steak! Today was that day!

So I poured myself a glass of Wine because sometimes I like to cook with wine...sometimes I even add it to the food I'm cooking, today was not that day!

Then I followed her recipe, step by step! I salted and peppered the cubed steak which had already been tenderized. I beat eggs with milk. I seasoned the flour with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and then more black pepper, lots of black pepper!

Taking the steak I dipped it into the milky-egg mixture, then the seasoned flour then back into the egg and then back into the seasoned flour and then set them aside while I did all the rest. Then I added the oil to the pan, waited for it to become adequately hot and then added the steak. Cooked 7 minutes on each side and Voila!

Mom joined me in the kitchen by making the mashed potatoes. She makes the best mashed potatoes! I don't know what she does to them but everyone that has had them will tell you that they are the best!

Since mashed potatoes are filled with Carbs, I decided I would make some yummy green beans instead, fried in bacon grease with some diced garlic and then just to be fancy I added some slivered almonds! Wine makes me so creative!

Sometimes you drive home and you think how exhausted you are but then you just pour yourself a glass of wine, invite Ree Drummond into your kitchen and magic just happens!