Eggs

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”

Annie called out to Eddie.

Have your way.

Push the rest of us off.

Don’t be mean.

Easter is for everyone.

Not just for you!

015 1962

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Trifecta

This was written for the Trifecta weekend challenge, which was to write exactly 33 words including an idiom somewhere within.

Click on the tricycle to direct you to the Trifecta Blog website.

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com

Liebster Blog Award

Virginia Views was so kind to nominate The Fearless Cooking Club for the Liebster Blog Award.

She requested that we answer the following questions for her chosen bloggers

1)    If you could go anywhere in the world and stay for a month, where would you choose to go?

Australia because our son just moved there. Second choice would be Europe because I have never been there.

2)    What is your hobby?

Baking.

3)    What was your childhood dream?

To be a singer and a nurse. The nurse won out.

4)    What was the best gift you ever received?

A Christmas ornament, a fishing reel and a marriage proposal as one gift December 1985.

5)    What is your favorite movie?

Something’s Gotta Give, Wizard of Oz and Pride and Prejudice. If these movies are on TV I stop everything to watch them.

6)    Who is the person who inspired you the most?

I have been inspired by strong women: my three aunts – my father’s sisters and my nursing instructors. My aunts were all different- one never married but was the matriarch of the family; one married, had a family had a strong faith and I am her spitting image; and one had a professional career when it was rare for women to have one, married late in life and is the wise sage of the family.

My nursing instructors showed me how to be a caring person, be a strong woman leader and to face your fears.

7)    What is your favorite dessert?

Pure dark chocolate with orange square.

8)    What is your favorite quote?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

This quote ends all my email messages at work. Work email is where messages can be promoted to help a project move forward, but also be misinterpreted and cause rifts in team building. I pride myself in speaking the truth and keeping communication lines open.

9)    What do you do for relaxation?

Take a bubble bath.

10) What is your favorite remembered scent/smell from childhood?

Snickerdoodles baking

11) If you could be a character in a book, who would you choose to be?

This is tough because I really enjoy biographies of real people. Probably Julia Child because her life was so interesting. She serve in WWII where she met her husband Paul, she traveled the world, she learned to cook when women didn’t become chefs, and she was a late bloomer.

Thanks again for the nomination in the month of giving thanks 🙂

 

The Circle of Life

It’s been nearly one year since our oldest son moved out after finishing college and made my husband and I official empty nesters. I had been so used to running around organizing other people’s lives for the past 24 years that I discovered that I didn’t have to do that anymore.  I heard someone say once that if you don’t know what to do, then don’t do anything. For me it has been a year of transitions and a lot of doing nothing.

At work, there has been chaos, and I chose not to get involved. Staff are leaving, transferring, and retiring. New young staff are being hired. They are old enough to be my children.

At home, my husband got a new job, our son announced he’d be moving to Australia by the end of the summer, and my daughter has a boyfriend.

So as my nest has emptied, I have watched other women fill their nests. I have crossed paths with more pregnant women this year than I can ever remember. I have purchased six copies of my standard baby gift, Your Child’s Health, a great reference book for parents. I have also crossed paths with pregnant birds.

This Canadian goose was in a median in a university parking lot. The poor dad goose was siting on the eggs and wouldn’t leave. Someone brought him a bowl of water. I ran out and brought back some tortillas for him to eat.

Image

At our neighborhood park there have been five Canadian Geese families that have taken over the pond.

So as to not feel left out, on my own back porch, a robin family made a nest one weekend when we were out of town.

The baby robins stick their heads up and all we can see are little beaks and necks.

Mama robin is very vigilant and busy hunting for food for the babies.

Nature took over and filled my nest again. I’ve had a perfect view of it all watching life unfold and still not doing anything…waiting for my next move.

The one car couple

My husband and I are now empty nesters. Woo hoo! We raised our glasses and toasted that both our children have jobs and paychecks.  One just graduated from college and the other is halfway through. 

That is the good news. Here is the bad news. We have one vehicle.

So you ask….Why did you give away your cars to your children? They have jobs, they can buy their own vehicles?!

We decided, as a couple, that it would be easier, initially, for them to get on their way without any drama, to take the two cars and get to work. My husband and I are more flexible with working together and could share a vehicle.  And it is the summer and he makes a habit of biking to work several days a week.

Week One.  We drove in together on Monday.

 “Isn’t this nice? I really like spending the morning with you driving into work.”

After two days, “Didn’t I tell you? I need the car today, I have a business lunch.” 

 “What???” I replied, “Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?” 

After the first day, the bond of driving in together was wearing thin.

Week Two. I decided I would take the bus on the days my husband needed the car. I have a co-worker who lives on my side of town and she was glad to teach me the ropes of the bus route.  So Monday morning I walk to the bus-stop for the 100 Express. I stand there proudly. I condensed my 4-5 bags I usually pack into my car, into a backpack and a water bottle to carry.  I’m standing there with another rider and then the 100 rolls up.

 I say to the rider “Have you seen the 100 Express?”

“Oh” he said, “it already came by.”  

Deflated, I walked back home and my spouse gave me a ride into work.  After work, I summoned my courage, to take the bus home. I can do it! This isn’t that hard! So I walk to the bus stop outside my place of work and luckily one of my patients is also waiting to take the same bus. He was so kind. He showed me how to transfer at the downtown bus station to pick up my transfer home. And I made it. I even read my Time magazine and completed a continuing education form.

I told my husband if this sharing a vehicle was going to work we would have to comunicate.  I announced I had a dinner date with the girlfriends on Wednesday and a hair appointment on Thursday after work.

 “Oh” he announced, “I have a dermatologist appointment on Thursday. ”

 “Oh”, I announced, “You need to reschedule because it is so hard for me to get an appointment and my hair is really in need of highlights and I have split ends.”

He was nice and cancelled his appointment.

Wednesday ended up being a disaster. My husband had originally agreed to ride his bicycle home, but life intervened. He had just got a call that day from a co-worker in another state that her spouse had been killed riding his bicycle. This devastated my husband, who, by the way, had a bicycle accident with a light pole last summer. I think the PTSD got stirred up like a bee hive. I told him I would come and get him at work and he could take me to the restaurant and I would get a ride home. Well the traffic was horrendous. What usually is a 15-20 minute drive to my husband’s work from mine, ended up being a one hour bumper to bumper drag. I left work at 5 pm, I got to the restaurant at 6:15p m and my husband got home at nearly 7 pm. Arrrrghhhh.

By the time Friday rolled around, he was feeling less stressed and biked to and from work. It was a good thing because I felt terribly ill with a headache and left work two hours early. I also had to pick the dog up from the groomers as well.

My husband and I are extremely independent people. As my husband says, “I don’t like depending on other people as they usually let me down. ”

Last Saturday we spent a large part of the day together, driving to look at a new car and driving to get new tires on our only vehicle. While waiting for the tires, we went to lunch together. When was the last time we did that? It was a lovely walk to lunch and back to the tire store.

Week Three. Much better, The week was planned, communication happened. I rode the bus home two days, he bicycled to work two days. We car-pooled to and from work Thursday because we had a dentist appointment at the same time, together. 

A shift has happened. We are talking to each other. My independent husband is learning to trust me again. We are taking a deep breath and realize we only have each other and the dog right now. We are rediscovering each other at mid-life sans children.  

I guess this empty nest thing might be good for us….until the grown child comes home to visit? Just as long as he doesn’ t stay long term.

The Fearless Cook makes…Chicken Parmesan

 
Chicken Parmesan
The third recipe in my Italian Chicken series challenge.
 
Chicken Parmesan is a popular American favorite of Italian dishes. Fried chicken with pasta? What’s not to like?
 
I’ve alway been scared of frying chicken. I used to look in amazement at my mother frying chicken. She was talented and had no fear. 
 
I’m also afraid of getting burned. I’ve had oatmeal dropped on my thighs at age 7 yrs. My father-in-law and mother-in-law had their arms burned from frying chicken at their home. It was a grease fire from the skillet onto the stove top. 
 
So when I approach frying I do so …..very….carefully.  Chicken Parmesan is all about the breaded chicken cutlets. The crispier the better.
 
There were seven steps: Prepping, dredging, dipping, breading, resting, frying and broiling.
 
Prepping.  The cutlets (boneless breasts or thighs) are pounded thin with a meat hammer. Then place tje cutlets in a sealed plastic bag with water and 1-2 tsp of salt, for at least 30 minutes. Then pat dry the cutlets with a paper towel.
 
Dredging. One cutlet at a time, dredge into flour, covering both sides. 
 
Dipping. Take the floured cutlet and dip into beaten eggs (two) with olive oil mixture, covering both sides.
 
Breading. The cutlet is now pressed into an Italian bread crumb mixture that has minced garlic and oregano. Pressing the moist cutlet carefully onto both sides until covered with crumbs.
 
Resting.  Place the cutlet on a wire rack and let it rest for 10 minutes setting the bread crumbs before frying. This was a pivotal step! I never knew how important this was to making a great finished product!
 
Frying.  Six tsp of olive oil into a non-stick skillet and heat oil is shimmering. Fry two cutlets at a time about 4-5 minutes on each side until crispy.  Remove from skillet wtih tongs and set aside on a warm plate. Before frying the last two cutlets remove the skillet from the burner and clean out the oil with paper towel. Repeat the process again for frying the final two cutlets.
 
Broiling. Place 2-3 TBSP of mozzarella cheese and 1 TBSP of parmesan cheese atop each fried cutlet. Place all four cutlets in a broiler pan and place under the broiler until the cheese has melted and browned.
 
Serve atop spaghetti and a tomato-basil-garlic sauce.
 
So what did The Fearless Cook learn?
 
Lesson #1
The skillet got really hot with frying, so I had a lid ready to cover the popping oil when it freaked me out. I took it off the heat whenever I needed to turn the cutlets with a tongs.  AND I had to take the skillet away from the burner because the oil flew onto the burner and smoked it a few times.
 
Lesson #2
Frying is time consuming. The frying heated up the kitchen and the fear of frying heated me up. The entire process took about 90 minutes. Once the cutlets were done, the sauce and the pasta were ready to go and it went together quickly to serve.
 
This was such a fabulous meal I have made it twice already. The cutlets were oh so crispy. Better than Stouffers!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nobody wants to be Ethel

I was dubbed Ethel to my friend “Lucy”, several years ago. She would attach herself to  my hip and drag me on crazy adventures when we would volunteer once a week every year for a charitable event.

Vivian Vance, who portrayed Ethel Mertz in the I Love Lucy television series of the 1950s and 60s, referred to herself as the “best second banana in the business”.  I never thought too much about the title until one night I was watching a TV Land documentary on Laverne and Shirley – the 70’s female comedy duo.  The comparison of their show to I Love Lucy  was made. Penny Marshall had lots of family connections with the show’s production (her brother was the director). And because of that pressure Cindy Williams exclaimed “I don’t want to be Ethel”.  Lucy was the star and Ethel was the nobody. Vivian Vance who played Ethel won one Emmy in her career as Best Supporting Actress; of course Lucille Ball won five in the course of hers. Lucy was always getting the sunlight and Ethel was adding color and depth to her star.

It made me think that yes, I am an Ethel. I support my family, my patients, my friends, my co-workers – for them to shine. But you know, where would Lucy have been without Ethel? Who would’ve been her sidekick, her steady stead. The role of Ethel is rare these days because everybody wants to be Lucy. On the Laverne and Shirley show they fought constantly about the number of lines written for each character and trying to keep everything completely balanced and fair. It was chaotic on the show with the writers and crew miserable.

The world is full of ego maniacs grabbing the spotlight. Everybody’s got to have their five minutes of fame, be it on You Tube or Facebook. You’re nobody until 50 million people have seen you through the internet. Oh I’ll admit my ego was the size of the Grand Canyon when I was full of myself as a young girl with hormones and energy. It was fun to be crazy with my girlfriends and see who could be the most outrageous with a comment and get everybody laughing. People thought I was funny. But I would go “over the top” sometimes and then nobody laughed. It happens when you go for the next attention grabber and you don’t know when to stop or change the subject. Usually someone gets hurt at that point and people just walk away.

There were plenty of comedy teams in the past, not so much anymore. Most comedians go solo to have the spotlight to themselves.  The funny half of the duo says her lines and the straight half of the duo responds. I liken it to tennis. A good player lobs the ball back  to the server and keeps it within the lines for the banter to continue. And both must be sharp to pick up the underlying sarcasm and subtleties. 

Second bananas are getting their time in the spotlight. Look at Sarah Palin – she’s carried her ride into 2011 since the 2008 election. So I’ve decided that Ethel needs her own identity and not wait for Lucy to define her. Second bananas can have a life outside of the stars they support and be funny. So break out Ethel find your own mojo! But most of the time life is messy and the egos can’t always be balanced. So somebody’s gotta be Lucy and somebody’s gotta be Ethel.

Loud and Proud

My family thinks I ‘m a P.I.T.A.  

My whole life I have been loud and bossy. My father, sister and brothers have all shushed me. You know “Sssssshhhhhhh!” Now people outside my family think I’m annoying. Co-workers have shsssssushed me. My mother never shushed me; she was just as loud as I was.

I have been described as: bossy; nag; impulsive; impatient; I interrupt others; I talk too loud; I sing too loud.

Okay yes. I do all of those things. I’ve probably had ADD my entire life. People with ADD have all of these traits. What makes it all worse are hormones. Hormones are like throwing gasoline on a fire. Well now I am menopausal. For me this is now a permanent condition, instead of perimenopause which is a state of working on menopause. I have a low-level of hormones. So I should be calmer now that the hot flashes are few and far between? One co-worker said I was less irritable now that I am menopausal. Easier to work with the estrogen level on empty. Hhmmmm, gee thanks.

Now if you talk to my family, they would say that I am not calmer. They still think I’m cantankerous. My husband said that I force him to look at the world differently through my persistent behaviors. Wow I guess that was a complement. But then in the next breath he is shushing me. He us taking over as chief shusher from my dad. 

I am a health care provider. I don’t beat around the bush with my patients. I tell them the truth even though it is hard to hear. Most of them thank me for my honesty and for being persistent in advocating for their health and well-being.  When I take those traits home to my family they tell me to be quiet. I’m still a P.I.T.A.

Why I failed the Postaweek2011 challenge

I haven’t blogged a word in two weeks. I’m sure many of you are aghast. How could I?

I signed up for the Postaweek 2011 challenge. The gauntlet thrown down by WordPress to keep the fires of blogging going. I was true to my word. I posted faithfully for two and one half months. At one time, I even had three blog writings going at once. I was editing daily and readying them for posting when each week rolled around.

Then the remodeling took over my life. We had contractors working on our basement since mid-January. They just finished. I tried my best to protect the furniture and cushions with blankets and plastic. But the film that flies from wallboard finishing is like glue dust. It lands and sticks and doesn’t let go.

I did some traveling this past month and got away from the house. I was free from responsibilities and the debacle. Yippee!! I returned to the house-mess five days ago. Me, the dog, and the dust. I moved furniture, cleaned, washed, dusted, arranged, pounded, folded, sorted, and dried. My head was sifting through ideas of decorating. There was little time for anything else.

I feel no guilt, no shame; only relief. The mind is a cluttered land of information. Multi-tasking is overrated. Newsweek’s front cover last month revealed that we as a society can’t make decisions because of too much information. Technology has allowed us to discover a world of information yet we can’t decide what kind of jeans to buy. 

I made a conscious decision. My life was overwhelming and I couldn’t eek out a blog. I went on vacation, I read an entire book, and I cleaned my house. I returned to work today, well rested, and ready to write again.

Thoreau and Oliver, poets and writers, went to the woods for inspiration. Do we now go to our Smartphones, laptops, and blogging websites for inspiration? I choose to re-boot away from it all.

The Fearless Cook says….Nuts to coconuts

If you follow food trends, you’ll find that 2011 is the year of coconut water. It is the equivalent of nature’s Gatorade. It has twice the amount of potassium than a banana providing energy replenishment and youthful benefits.  Madonna supposedly drank it during her recent concert tours. She is the queen of staying young as she ages. She invested 1.5 million dollars in a Brazilian coconut water company Vita Coco.
What up with coconuts? Are they nuts or are we just cuckoo over them? Marco Polo called them Indian Nuts in 1280. Then Portuguese explorers called them Coco because the brown hair exterior reminded them of a ghost/witch named Coco.  They are not a nut, they just look like one. Instead they are dry drupes. But enough of this formality.
With all this interest in coconuts, the Fearless Cook took on this challenge. The goal was the adventure.
 
There are two kinds of coconuts the young and the old. The young ones are green  where the fountain-of-youth water comes from. The flesh from the green ones are supposed to be more flavorful. I looked online and found coconut farms where you can actually buy or invest in green coconuts for the water.
Then there are the mature coconuts that most people are familiar with. You can use the flesh shavings for recipes or it can supposedly be processed into a coconut cream consistency.  To select a coconut pick one with a round shape and a rich brown color. Shake it by your ear to listen for the coconut water inside. And avoid coconuts that have moldy or dark eyes. Sounds like a Coco witch to me!

The mature coconut

 
The next step in this coconut adventure  was opening it. This is where the fun begins. I read in The New Best Recipe 2004 cookbook that one should use a cleaver to crack open the coconut. Okay, good reason to buy a knife. I didn’t own a cleaver until this challenge.
 

the coconut meets the cleaver

 Thank goodness it was a sunny day so I could take my production outside to not harm man nor beast. 

the coconut water is running away

As the pictures speak for themselves, one crack leaked out the water and didn’t open the coconut. I eventually had to get a steak knife and pry open the coconut. The cleaver was basically useless. I’ll keep it around for butchering a hog (not).

cracked the nut

yielded 1/4 cup of water

After this endeavor, I chiseled away at the coconut flesh. It was extremely difficult to get shavings out of it. Then I went to the Frontera Produce website, the brand that wrapped my coconut, and it did not recommend a cleaver at all. Instead, as the recipe below details, the coconut should be baked, for easy opening and to soften the flesh to be shaved like cheese.

This approach was helpful, somewhat. It did soften the flesh and I put it in a cheese grater. It was labor intensive and I got very little coconut shavings out. After all this work, Mr Coconut was thrown in the trash. Ba bye.

Easy Coconut Shavings (ha) 

  • 1 Frontera Produce coconut
  • 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar

Place coconut in heat-proof container, cover and bake at 400° F for approx. 20-40 mins. Once coconut has cracked open remove from oven, discard coconut water, and remove white pulp immediately. This process is much easier when the pulp is still warm. Shave pulp chunks using a cheese shredder. Lay out on a sheet pan and toast coconut shavings at 400° F until dry and golden brown. Remove shavings and dust with powdered sugar.

After my coconut adventure, I saw a food show on the OWN network Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag. The show, first aired 3/11/2009 was their review of a Thai cookbook which recommend using fresh coconuts for the dishes they were preparing for a professional chef. The highlight of the show was their adventure into cracking open and using the water, milk and flesh from green and mature coconuts. Oh my gosh. It was hilarious. These women tried to open a green coconut with a hammer and nail. And the mature coconut was taken to the side of the road near a drainage grate and she beat it open with a hammer! I kid you not!

Kristina and Anna made five recipes and three turned out well. The professional chef told them to just buy the coconut milk and cream in the cans and forget about the fresh coconut.  I totally agree.

Coconut water by Naked

So going back to coconut water. I drank the quarter cup from my coconut and it tasted like plain Pedialyte (infant electolyte replacement formula).  Vita Coco has it in variety of flavors. Most recipes have it as an ingredient in smoothies. It is pricey at about $3.00 per container. If I start drinking it daily, I’ll report back on my youthful transformation (or not). Madonna and I are a year apart in age, she’s older.