Archive for September, 2009

Creative Cooking as a Metaphor for Life?

black beans and squash 004    As I dig my wooly sweater out of storage and begin to contemplate the symbolism of season-change, I tend to wax a bit philosophic:  Putting a pot of Italian Wedding Soup on to heat while I head downstairs to work out, I forget to reduce the heat to low, scorching two-dozen tediously formed miniature meatballs to the pan bottom over the next 40 minutes, but anger turns to insight when I accept this minor event as a lesson in humility; for tonight’s menu, I assess the obstacles to turning Chicken Cordon Bleu into Chicken Cordon New – something I can feel good about serving my family – when the thought occurs to approach it with a mind open to the possibilities; I ditch the flawed package instructions for my favorite Basmati Rice in frustration and draw on my own senses for guidance, thinking, rely on your own experience:  the experts aren’t always right; and finally, I search frantically for a clipped recipe for Squash and Black Beans, and begin to comprehend that I can trust God to provide the essentials, and I can challenge myself to put those gifts and resources to good use.

The Pineapple Bran Muffins are just a tweaker’s  happy accident, a kind of Frankenmuffin amalgamation of three different recipes I pulled from my humongous collection – because not everything has to be profoundly meaningful, right?  A Big Bowl of Dried Fruits (Apricots, Plums, Pears, and Berries?) might be a nice finish with after-dinner coffee or tea. (more…)

September 28, 2009 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment

T.G.I.Monday – and for the Blessing of Gainful Employment

At the Arch   No task is too small to deserve your best effort.  Whatever job it is that you accept payment for doing, give it your absolute all.  If it’s an entry-level position, you won’t be there forever.  And both your character and the people around you will benefit if you act on the principle that even the humblest work is noble in God’s eyes.  Seek to please Him and you can find gratification in the most mundane of undertakings.  (53)

It’s never too early to have plans and objectives in place.  Set a good example for others as you pursue them.  Get into a field of work that you love, and build your career on a reputation of honesty and trustworthiness.  (49)

If you learn early on not to waste energy on things you cannot change, it’s easier to focus on living a full, productive life.  What will follow is the understanding that family, friends, and health are more important than accumulating wealth and the stress of climbing the professional ladder.  (36)

September 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

Plain Old Corned Beef and Fancy New Cabbage

corned beef & cabbage 003   It’s a déjà vu mid-September experience as we pant our way through hot and humid days for the last two official weeks of summer.  Reminds me of the year my family relocated from Royal Oak, Michigan, to a suburb of Minneapolis.  I was all set to enter a new high school on the right foot:  Up early.  Pull the chilled cologne out of the refrigerator à la Seventeen magazine’s advice column, put on a new sweater and skirt outfit, and head out into the cool morning air.  By noon we were simmering in 80-something degree temperatures, all hope of making that cool first impression evaporating like the beads of perspiration resting on a carefully glossed upper lip.

Today I worry more about creating a memorable meal than making a glamorous entrance.  I also have a hankering for something we don’t eat every day, so it’s simple Crock Pot Corned Beef accompanied by Chinese Cabbage Stir Fry, Parmesan Focaccia, a platter of Crusty Oven Fried Potatoes, and a big bowl of Frozen Green Grapes like Mom used to make.  In another nod to earlier days, a whimsical and simple dessert of Green Mint Ice Cream with Fudge Sauce.  Good, basic comfort food – not to mention the lucious sandwiches you’ll have the next few days.   (more…)

September 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Labor Day, Schmabor Day

sweet potato pancakes cropped   I sure hit a brick wall trying to find anybody interested in celebrating Monday, September 7th, as a holiday.  My husband and I ended up puttering about the house, doing mundane chores.  Research revealed that my vague notion of Labor Day as a post-WWII phenomenon meant to win favor with certain voters is only partially accurate, since the first Labor Day parade was held in honor of workers and labor organizations in New York City on September 5, 1882.  On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, but the idea of having an extended weekend for one last trip to the cabin seems to have supplanted the original intent.

With no takers for a family cookout, I went trolling for ideas for the boneless pork chops that Cub Foods seems to offer at a perpetual “sale price,” and found inspiration on an unlikely – not to mention, competitor’s – web site:  Super Target dot something.  I was inspired to adapt their recipe to my audience, and the result was a dinner menu of Beer Braised Pork Chops,  Homemade Chunky Applesauce, Steamed Green Beans with Spiced Walnuts, and Sweet Potato Pancakes.  And in honor of my dear, departed Papa, whose birthday was September 6, a twist on his favorite cake came out as Pineapple Upside Down Sundaes.  Hardly traditional, but the preparation was a labor of love.  (more…)

September 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

Attitude Amending and Perspective Perfecting

Rich family blog photo  Many years ago I was sitting with a group of co-workers.  The oldest member of the group, who was 60-ish, was known for having a long and involved story in response to any question.  Someone asked him if he had any advice for the group and he said, “Don’t wish time away.  It is gone all too quickly by itself.”  And he stopped talking.  (26)  (more…)

September 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

The Lighter Side of Sage Counsel

Cocoonie Moonie 002   Laugh a lot – first at your own foibles and then at life’s quirky presentations.  (32)

Any sentence that begins, “I don’t mean to sound unkind, but…” shouldn’t be finished.  (53)

If you make a habit of smiling, you will actually feel happier.  Don’t get stuck at a bump in the road:  admit your mistake, get over it, and move on.  And always, do more than is expected, not less.  (52)

Write thank you notes – especially to those not of the e-generation.  It’s a simple but essential element of good manners and a cornerstone of considerate behavior.  If there is any justice in this world, those who fail to employ this basic means of respecting their elders and acknowledging the generosity of others will surely lose their slot in Grandma’s Last Will and Testament!  (53)

Maintain a good attitude.  A positive, can-do attitude not only benefits you, but it may rub off on others as well.  (23)

Don’t buy cheap cheese.  (53)

September 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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© Sue Anne W. Kirkham and 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Anne W. Kirkham and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.