Archive for January, 2010

Perspectives on Parenting

    Nurture a close relationship with loving grandparents.  We often had grandparents for Sunday dinner, and if we ever had to travel without the kids, we had a grandparent stay with them, and always said, “Take good care of Grandma!” as we were headed out the door.  (40)

Treat your children with as much respect as you do your adult friends.  Talk to them, play with them, and help them meet their goals.  If you control their behavior mostly for your own comfort, they will sense that your motives are selfish.  They won’t appreciate that and may ignore you when they grow up.  (16) 

Start talking to your children about career options no later than tenth grade.  If you wait until they are ready to go out into the world, they may end up immobilized by indecision or wasting years discovering the hard way what isn’t the right route for them to take.  (25) 

Teach your children the satisfaction of work while they are still young, and eager to help out.  It will keep them out of mischief and prepare them for life as a productive adult.  (44)

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January 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm Leave a comment

Ego-Busting Women’s Mags

   On this partly-sunny January morning, I sip a steamy cup of Constant Comment tea, enjoy the view of icicles melting from my eaves, and ponder whether or not to renew my subscription to Better Homes and Gardens® magazine.  It’s a tough decision.  I’m enchanted by the glossy, full color format offering pages and pages of recipes and decorating ideas, but does anybody else find these spreads simultaneously inspiring and discouraging?  

Take a recent issue which lures the reader into an article about holiday decorating with a photo of a handsome couple and their three cherubic children, beaming out at you from a perfectly maintained front porch strewn with unique handmade Christmas garlands.  Just when I’ve started to think, “I, too, could adorn my windowsill with three conical boxwood shrubs dressed in decorator ornaments, and stitch up a replica of that adorable table runner,” I land with a thud back in the real world upon reading that “keeping things simple” to this family entails an entire two-story house being seasonally festooned with a “sunny, Southern California color scheme.” 

But wait; here’s a Minnesota family finding “holiday spirit in nature…with a simple mix of evergreens…and supersize pinecones.”  So why am I intimidated by the glorious vision of perfection before me?  Well, this homemaker is a successful (just take a gander at that humongous upscale home) designer by trade, and a self-described free spirit, and the mom in an article on “effortlessly” building your own personal style is the creative director of her own paperie.  Of course she is.  Thud.  I won’t even talk about Gunda Sabel-Sheehan and her flawless suburban New York home, decorated primarily with handmade, eco-friendly items and inspired by the “same aesthetic Gunda brings to her home and furnishings boutique.” 

Then there is the fact that the BH&G food editors recently ignored my submission of two perfectly lovely recipes I created exclusively for them in response to a call for new ways with bread puddings and chili.  Although their rejection does free me up to share these recipes with you, so I guess there’s a silver lining to that cloud.  A winter-friendly menu, then, born of my love-hate relationship with Better Homes and Gardens® magazine:  Quick Fix Black and White Chili, Broccoli Slaw, and Baked Apple Bread Pudding.  Just thinking about the fun I had developing these dishes helps restore my feelings of adequacy.  (more…)

January 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Different Stokes for Different Folks

   No, that title does not include a typo; it does, however, include an envelope-pushing reference to fueling the body.  Under the “Foodie” tab above I enthuse about my commitment to plenty of exercise and a Mediterranean diet.  My own transformation from enervated to energized provides all the evidence I need to justify this approach.  Yet I don’t serve my spouse the same foods I so passionately endorse.  Let me explain that seemingly hypocritical practice. 

Forty-nine years ago my husband was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile onset, inherited) diabetes.  For years he controlled his blood sugar with diet and injected insulin.  Still, the disease takes a toll, resulting in nerve damage, vascular disease, and insulin resistance.  When he was no longer able to control his blood sugar levels, and the “experts” were clueless, a friend recommended Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s ultra-low carbohydrate diet, which caused me to shed tears, literally, when I read a sample daily menu:  these were all the foods I had learned to avoid, and few of the ones I felt were essential.  But there is no arguing with the science and logic outlined in The Diabetes Solution, and my husband lost 30 pounds while gaining better control of his blood sugar following its guidelines.  Again, first-hand experience wins out. 

I have since learned that fat is not an enemy if you keep your carb count low, because your body then burns the fat for energy rather than storing it; that you can get the micronutrients and vitamins you need through slow-acting carbohydrates like non-starchy vegetables; and that there are plenty of creative ways to prepare delicious low carbohydrate meals.  For further perspective, just think about how many different, often very limited, dietary patterns sustained various isolated population groups over the centuries, before transport systems allowed for kiwi and blueberries and cantaloupe and fresh asparagus to be available year-round.  The human body is designed to adapt. 

Today I offer some of the results of my foray into the dark, mysterious Land of Low Carbohydrate Cooking:  Beanless Chili, Salmon Patties, Rhubarb Relish, Seafood Sauté, and crustless Italian Easter Pie.  The “pie” makes a lovely company meal.  Just add a citrus tossed salad and homemade whole wheat Irish soda bread. (more…)

January 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

New Year’s Resolve: Healthy Body, Healthy Relationships

    Don’t believe the lie that a healthful diet and learning to love physical activity are the prescription for a life of drudgery.  Eating wisely and appreciating what your body is capable of are infinitely more satisfying than perpetual indulgence:  feeling your body become a finely-tuned, well-fueled machine cannot be paralleled in the category of satisfying accomplishments, and your emotional health and mental  acuity will also benefit.  (54) 

            Work at keeping balance in your life.  Take time for cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development, and don’t forget time to learn how to appreciate solitude – which sometimes means turning off the cell phone!  (22) 

            If you have a job that requires you to judge others – such as a management position – be careful not to let that attitude leak over into you personal relationships with spouse, children, and friends.  Judging tends to wither relationships.  (35) 

            If you catch yourself thinking that your spouse is being difficult, remember that you’re probably a challenge to live with, too!  It’s one of life’s hard facts that there can be things you hate about someone you love.  Focus on the parts you love.  (54)

January 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

Past and Present Repasts

   So, here we are in 2010.  It sounds downright futuristic, when you say it out loud.  This sea of white blanketing my entire neighborhood seems futuristic, too, like a scene from a monochromatic science fiction movie.  While those of us enduring a record-cold winter are really questioning the myth of global overheating about now, I reflect on the warm pleasure of developing this site over the past six months and look forward to expanding my audience and exchanging ideas with all of you in the year ahead.  Please feel free to offer comments and questions via the link below. 

Meanwhile, a few comments of my own as I sit down to the keyboard on this 12th day of Christmas, an intensely dark nighttime sky hanging low outside my window at the early hour of 4:47 p.m.  In glancing back over the Foodie postings, a few offerings stand out as outstanding – she said semi-punnily if not semi-humbly:  Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding (6/8); Banana Split Ice Cream Cake Roll (6/12); Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Apricots – a personal favorite (6/18); Sweet Potato and Ground Turkey Hash with Individual Swiss Cheese Omelets (8/17); Squash and Black Beans (7/28); Chorizo-Stuffed Acorn Squash (10/30); Baked Chicken with Italian Sausage and Black Grapes (11/20); Sweet Potato, Squash, and Corn Bread Stuffing (12/21); and Cider Pork (12/9). 

And speaking of pork in a stew-like combo, last time I promised you a recipe for Sveske Sol, a time-honored Christmas Prune Stew made for the large farm family of my sister-in-law’s mother from Luck, Wisconsin.  In looking over Irma’s original recipe – 6# homemade Danish sausage; 2 beef roasts; 2 pork roasts; 3# prunes; 2# carrots – an adaptation to the average American dinner table seemed well-advised.  My menu thus became Pork Stew with Prunes, accompanied by a light Shredded Radicchio Salad, Steamed Broccoli, and Apple Cheese Muffins  – my nutrition-conscious nod to the traditionally correct Danish Apple Cake made with day-old cinnamon toast, apple sauce, and whipped cream. (more…)

January 8, 2010 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

Bears vs Bulls in the Year of the Tiger

    Be responsible for yourself.  Don’t fall into the trap of blaming others for your problems, shortcomings, or failures in life.  Make planning ahead a part of this mindset, and try to anticipate possible future problems so you aren’t dependent on someone else if you hit a rough spot.  I have a neighbor who works in an industry that is plagued with layoffs, but he is serene in the knowledge that he has been saving for 20 years for this possible stretch of rainy days.  (51)            

            Live within your means.  New cars and other expensive non-essentials may be tempting – until you have to live with the payments and stress that they create.  Choose simplicity over extravagance.  It can be very freeing!  (11) 

            Save, save, save.  Do not depend on the government or others to take care of you.  (15) 

            Take the time to find an occupation you love.  Working just for money is not the path to happiness.  (35)

January 5, 2010 at 5:45 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."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

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