Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I am not cooking out today. My grill was damaged this winter, and the one I had at my mom's washed away. Oh, well, it doesn't really bother me. I have had a very nice relaxing weekend with reading, sleep, friends, movies,and reflection. There is also potential, but that is for another day. Yes, it has been very nice indeed, and I have forgotten how much I love summer nights.

With the joys of summer creeping up on me, it would be easy to forget what this day is. It is a day of remembrance. In Appalachian, we also take this weekend to remember our loved ones who are no longer here. It is our "Decoration Day". We travel to different cemeteries, clean graves, and redo flower memorials. I am not financially able to decorate the graves of my extended family, but I know the old, country cemeteries like the back of my hand. I know the stories of those who now rest there, and I tell my children about these people. One day I will be a memory, and I don't want them to forget how they got here in the first place. To know our heritage, we often find ourselves. I walk like my great-grandmother who died in 1957. I laugh like my other great-grandmother who died the year I was born. My son has the eyes of my great-grandfather who died in a mining accident in the 20s. It is a privilege to have this information, and I think I am very lucky to have met them in the memories of others.

My great-grandmother told my father it rained on Memorial Day because the angels were crying. I think they grieve for those who have nobody to grieve for them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weight Watching

I have a confession: I am at my heaviest weight ever without being pregnant. How? Why? I am not using food as a security blanket; I like to eat. I love cheese. I love fried foods. I like eating out when I can. I am also not twenty-one anymore, and the cheese, fried foods, and fast foods are catching up with me. This year I have also taken care of everybody but me. I am hoping this summer will bring some changes. I will be forty in eighteen months, and I don't want to enter that decade with excess weight and feeling dowdy. I don't want the health problems that seem to come with my family name. I want to be a positive example for my daughter. Eat to be healthy and don't obsess with weight. I have always wanted to show her that beauty is there no matter the size. We need to celebrate the inner beauty, but my body is my temple. We should celebrate ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to be our best. I am NOT talking about being skinny. I am talking about being able to run, play, jump, and embrace the lives we should have. I have a young spirit, and it is time for it to shine.

Well, with that in mind I joined Weight Watchers Online. I did it once before after my Thing Two was born, and I did well. I have been using Sparkpeople, and I love it because it has all the tools and it is free, but I am not very disciplined with the spark. I am actually sparkless. I think it is due to the fact it is free. I don't feel the urgency to use it. I am hoping that my mother's sensible genes will remind me that if I am paying for WW, then I should use it. If I can be more disciplined then I may go back to the Spark. It is a great site, and you need to check it out.

Yep, yesterday I drove past Tudor's Biscuit World. We had two soccer games, three hours apart in two different counties. We had to eat on the run, and Tudor's has a strong pull. I kept on driving though and went to Subway for their new breakfast menu. I am also down three pounds.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Calypso Shrimp: For Those of Us Who Don't Cook That Often

I was going to make the recipe from The Cookbook for Women, but I forgot to do something...the orange marinade. Yep, I had marinade less shrimp, sigh. Well, don't fear, I still managed to cook a 25 minute shrimp dinner that pleased two members of our household. Thing Two is not a shrimp person and preferred fish sticks with his green beans.

Calypso Shrimp For Those of Us Who Don't Cook Often:

Saute shrimp with a tablespoon of olive oil, fresh peppercorn, sea salt and clove of garlic.

Take one can of black beans and drain. Mix well with fresh pico de gallo. I didn't make mine from scratch. I bought the Marketside brand from Walmart, and it is delicious. I tossed it together with the shrimp and then served everything over brown rice. I am thinking of using wheat tortillas in the future.

I want to also recommend the Cookbook for Women. The recipes I have tried are wonderful and appealing. The instructions are easy to follow, and the pictures will draw you in. It my current favorite cookbook, but it goes beyond food. It inspires lifestyle changes for women of any age. It is the perfect reference book for any woman from 20 to 99.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cranberry-Apple Chicken

So, so simple, and every person in my house ate without complaint:

1 lb. chicken breast pounded to desired tenderness
1 can of sugar free apple pie filling
1 box of chicken stuffing mix
large handful of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350.
Fix box of stuffing as directed and add cranberries in the last step. Stovetop makes a cranberry flavor, but I prefer to adjust to our tastes.
While the stuffing sits, lightly brown chicken for about two minutes on each side.
Layer a baking pan with the apples, add the chicken, and then the stuffing.

Back covered with foil for 25 minutes, remove cover and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Quick, super simple, and delicious. Pork loin may be substituted for the chicken.

My daughter mocked me for making a weekly menu. She checks it and laughs about how we can't eat this or that because it isn't listed. Yeah, yeah, but she sure didn't mind as she ate this dish. She may think I am being silly, but making a weekly menu has really saved time and money. The night before a grocery trip I make an excel spreadsheet of daily meals, ingredients needed, and the cookbooks being used. Nothing is set in stone and anything can be adapted. I switch days or switch ingredients as needed. Now, I have already mentioned it is saving time and money, but it is also making for more creative and fun meals. It hasn't been the usual spaghetti every few days. I know millions of men and women do this every week, but I am now an official believer. I will let you know how Thursday's Calypso Shrimp with black bean salsa turns out.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spa Day

There is something about late spring and early summer that makes me want to reconnect with myself. Be more, do more, live more. I emerged from my winter cocoon and spread my wings for flight. I look east to the waters of the Atlantic to relax my body and mind. I look over the mountains and creeks for adventure and family. I look to fields for healthier foods to fuel myself. I soar.

Perfect Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Today was a very busy but lovely beginning to our Halloween Festivities.  My husband and I went to a Farmers' Market that was featuring ...