Monday, August 29, 2011

Bag Lady

This blog post has been brought
to you by the Number 4.
I want to thank the lovely 8 people who commented to win my dorky, handmade bag.  I guess I was a little more excited about it than a girl really should be about a knitted bag made out of other bags, but I really think that this is a fantastic way to reuse those plastic bags, which we can't seem to get away from (I, too, often forget my bags when I go to the store, which usually means that there will be some under-the-breath swearing and a debate as to how many more fossil fuels will be burned if I turn around to get my bags).
I just finished another bag, although I'm less thrilled about this pattern; it kind of looks like a hat for Hagrid, but I think I can fix that so it actually looks like a bag is supposed to look.
Anyway, enough with the pleasantries, right?  You just want to know who won.
Congratulations to Megan from Wanna Be a Country Cleaver!  While I had some issues with the random number generator (operator error to an epic degree), I managed to get myself under control to take this screen shot.
Megan, email me your address, and I'll get the bag and the produce bags sent off.  Since you're a loyal WSU Coug, though, I don't think you want any Sun Devil gear.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Chocolate Sandwich I'll Feed My Daughter

I am extremely jealous of Sarah Matheny, author of the blog AND best-selling cookbook Peas and Thank You.  To be specific, I am jealous of her daughters.  It seems that her Little Peas enjoy just about anything healthy placed in front of them.
This is in direct contrast to my own Wee One.  While she does enjoy some healthy items, like grapes and... grapes, if she could eat chocolate ice cream and French fries for every meal, she would be much more willing to sit down to dinner with us.  Even sweet potato fries are something at which she turns up her little nose.  Seriously - who doesn't like sweet potato fries?
So while we in the Decadent Philistine household have been working on presenting HRH with various healthy foods (over and over and over, just like the experts tell us to do), since I am hell bent on making sure she doesn't starve to death, I've also been trying to get creative when making her lunches and snacks that soothe the savage sweet tooth as well as use the familiar to add variety.
One of her recent favorites: Nutella.  It's a lot of people's favorites; we especially enjoy it when Scott makes crepes.  But it's anything but healthy, despite what the advertising campaign might tell you.  Earlier this year, a woman sued Nutella (and its parent company, Ferrero) for false advertising, claiming that she gave it to her kids because the company claimed that it's a healthy part of breakfast.  If you watch this commercial, you'll see that it does claim health benefits, like being made with skim milk and having no artificial colors.  But what it DOES have is this:

Monday, August 22, 2011

To My Husband, With Love

I was so blown away by the outpouring of support for Jennifer Perillo after her husband, Mikey, died.  I was only one of literally thousands who made a peanut butter pie to honor their love and the love that so many others share.
The same day that people worldwide dug into a communal peanut butter pie, I decided to make a pie for Scott as well.  He isn't a huge sweets fan, so I wasn't sure that he'd enjoy the peanut butter pie.  But he does love fruit pies, so I picked up some strawberries and rhubarb to make one of his favorites.
The word favorite isn't exactly in Scott's vocabulary.  Any time I ask him what his favorite (fill in the blank) is, he just responds, "I don't like to have favorites."  HRH put him in a pickle the other day when she asked him, "What's your favorite color, Daddy?"  Thankfully, she decided it was blue for him, so the discomfort only lasted a moment (she also decided mine was red; it is, in fact, yellow).
A favorite color is one thing; a favorite meal is another.  I didn't even bother to ask him what his favorite pie was, but I did need some input on a meal.  Finally, after hemming and hawing and throwing around the "I don't have favorites," he did say that he'd always eat a good chicken fried steak.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Running to Save the World, Knitting to Save my Sanity (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

When we were still living in Michigan, one of the magazines that I acquired had an ad for Nike® of a female runner, standing there, looking all bad-a$$.  The caption was something to the effect of "Yeah, I could be a knitter, but then I wouldn't be a good runner."  I'm totally paraphrasing.  I can hardly remember the Pledge of Allegiance, so I surely can't remember, verbatim, an ad from pre-2007.  Anyway, I was, at the time, not a runner, although I did go to the gym regularly and workout with weights, cardio, and pilates classes.  I was also already knitting, so I remember taking great umbrage at the ad.  Why can't I be in shape AND knit?  Heaven knows that, in Michigan, one can never have too many knit scarves during the winter months.
Fast forward to last fall, when I actually began running for the first time since high school.  I learned that I really do enjoy running (even when someone whose name rhymes with Schmooey trips me because she saw a cat on the other side of the street) and that my knees can handle it (amazing what happens when one stops wearing high heels every day of the week, right?) and even feel great afterwards.  I signed up for my first run - the Colon Cancer Alliance's Undy 5000 - and had a blast.  Then I signed up for London's Run, Dakota's Run, and more.  This year I've signed up for the Undy 5000 again, and I'll be signing up for several more in the next few weeks.
All of my runs have this in common: they help raise money for organizations dedicated to helping others.  Whether that is finding a cure for colon cancer, the cancer that took my dad from me, or helping out military families like the Tillmans, I run even more happily knowing that my entry fee went to more than the pockets of various racing companies.  I am able to run; I need to utilize that ability to help those who might be so weak from chemo a walk to the bathroom is a challenge or who are struggling to make ends meet because their loved ones perished fighting for the freedom I so enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

To Husbands, With Love (A Pie for Mikey)

I don't know Jennie.
It's highly unlikely that I will ever meet Jennie face to face.
But today I am offering her a part of my heart so that it can break for her, so that perhaps hers can break a little less.
Jennie's blog, In Jennie's Kitchen, is one of many that I follow (no, it's not in the left-hand column; to be honest, I follow too many blogs to really have an adequate list over there, as I consider all of those blogs I follow to be fantastic in their own way).  I like that she focuses on seasonal and local, and her photos always make me hungry for whatever she's featuring.
Her most recent post, though, has nothing to do with food.  It's about her husband, Mikey.
She lost Mikey suddenly a week ago.  There wasn't even a moment in which she could say goodbye.  He was gone too quickly.

I don't know Jennie.
But my heart breaks with her and for her.  I ache for her girls who lost their father too soon.  I cry tears for a man, a husband and father, I never met.

That's why I made a peanut butter cream pie today.

Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie.  Like most of us, Jennie and Mikey's life had become busy, crazy, hectic - call it what you want, but basically, there wasn't always time to make a peanut butter cream pie.  There's alway tomorrow to make a pie, right?
Not anymore.
Jennie has asked her fellow bloggers to make a peanut butter cream pie and share it with family, friends, or loved ones.  She asked us to do this today and not tomorrow, because, she says, "today is the only guarantee we can count on."
I knew I needed to make a peanut butter cream pie.  I needed to make this pie more than I have ever needed to make a recipe.

The pictures are (top to bottom) my dad in his Army uniform, a family
picture when I was about two (?), and a snapshot taken in my dad's senior
year in high school (he was voted class cut-up).  I can't share this pie with my dad,
so I wanted to share these pictures with my readers.  Thanks to my cousin
Stacey for sending these to me.
I decided to share this pie with my fellow jurors.  These are certainly not people I count among my closest friends; four months ago, they were complete strangers.  Only the confines of the jury deliberation room two days a week has made us familiar.  But we now share a common thread, and I felt that is was only appropriate to ask them to share in the healing process that #apieformikey is designed to start.  They were only too happy to lift a fork and take a moment to honor Mikey, Jennie, and their girls. In those few minutes, we reflected that our gripes we often share between cases are so trivial and minor and that we all need to take some time to be grateful for those things and those people we all too often take for granted.
The leftovers were shared with my husband and daughter after a meal that I prepared for them (bacon for the Wee One, an attempt at chicken fried steak for my husband), and I reveled in the fact that we enjoyed a meal that, while disappointing, was prepared with love.  I am so thankful that I had this meal and that my husband can joke with me about that sorry excuse for fried steak.

Here's to you, Perillo family - here's to the love that you shared with one another and with those of us who read your blog.  If making a pie can help you learn this new version of "real life," I would gladly make a million of them.  Tonight, when I hug my family, I hope that you feel the warmth of my heart as I embrace you as well.

This is for you, Mikey.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Four Pounds Round-Up

The week that has required me to record all of my food waste for everyone who may read this post has passed, so now it's time to 'fess up and show off how much I actually threw away.
But first, a few words.  I'd like to thank the Academy... wait - wrong speech.
Multiply by 5
This wasn't a completely unbiased experiment  In true Hawthorne Effect fashion, I made conscious efforts to NOT throw things out.  Sometimes it was because I was truly mortified and even ashamed that I would normally do so; a couple of times it was because I wasn't sure where the camera was and didn't want to hunt around, leaving said food scraps unattended, which would actually result in no food scraps, if Zooey was at this same time left to her own devices.  But I knew that I was documenting what was getting tossed, and I didn't want to look bad.  So please note that what I am posting here is most certainly not the norm in our house, although after this week it is my objective that it should be.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

To Veg or Not to Veg

I've been thinking about colon cancer a lot lately, specifically, the preventative measures that I can take to decrease my risk of being diagnosed with the same disease that took my dad away from me.
It's not a secret that decreasing one's red meat intake has a significant impact on a person's colon health, and while I admit that sometimes (like the entire time I was pregnant), a medium rare steak is the only thing that will hit the spot, I'm making an effort to cut my consumption of it and instead up the greens, legumes, and fruit.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that I am curious about Mark Bittman's "vegan until dinner" practice, one which means that he is, well, a vegan until dinnertime (or suppertime, really).  No animal products of any kind.  This improved Mr. Bittman's overall health, and studies are showing that in order to truly cut down on the environmental impact that our Western, meat-centric diet has had, eliminating dairy as well as the meat is going to have to happen in a major way.
Of course, the argument Mr. Bittman makes is that ONE meal a day can have animal product in it - so that Sunday morning bacon and eggs can still happen, if you want.  That just means at suppertime, the Sunday roast beast is replaced by roast beets (see what I did there?).
By following this method, I can improve my personal health and the health of the planet.  I'm quite certain that I am not ready at this point in my life to completely eliminate animal products from my life, but this is a comfortable step that I can realistically make.
However, it does create some questions for me that I need to answer before I embark on this journey whole-heartedly.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who Moved My (Four Pounds of) Cheese?

This week (August 1-7), I'm participating in the Four Pounds of Cheese experiment.  In this week, participants are asked to keep a photo log of the food waste that is produced in their kitchens.  This doesn't include bones and other "inedibles" but instead focuses on the food that could have been used somehow.  The objective is, of course, to note how we all are (each differently) wasteful, which will hopefully help those of us joining in to modify our kitchen practices to reduce that food waste.
Now, here's the rub - compost.  No, I'm not asking you to rub it into your skin (see my earlier posts about honey if you want to rub something into your skin).  Technically, it's waste.  Not everyone does - or even has the ability to - compost.  I guess we don't truly compost, either - like I mentioned before, we just save ours to give to my mother-in-law, who actually takes the items we have saved and composts them for her garden.  We're more like vegetable scrap hoarders (are you reading this, TLC?  New series idea?).
But I digress.
While our compost is certainly utilized for another reason, it's the same stuff that's thrown out with the trash in other households.  So is it something I need to take a picture of, or since I find another use for it, does it count like the bones, peels, and eggshells (I throw the peels and eggshells into the compost bin, actually)?  I kind of want to not take pictures of it, but I also don't want to feel like I'm "cheating" (there's the Hermione Granger in me, coming out).
The good news is that while driving home yesterday from my field trip to the bookstore, I had an epiphany - I save my shrimp shells and other bits in the freezer to make a stock.  Why the heck haven't I done that with my veggies?  I've been tossing onion bits and carrot ends in the compost bin when I could be saving them to make a nice stock.  SHEESH!  So I'm going to start doing that - starting yesterday with my zucchini ends and a little bit of onion that didn't make it into the pot.
I'm also hoping that this will help bring us to the tipping point at which we run out of room in our two freezers (we have a fridge in the garage, which is called "the beer fridge") and HAVE to get a new upright freezer.  But that's another blog post.
Check back in a week (I mean, just about this post - I'll be posting between now and then... I hope!) to see what I've learned about food waste in my own kitchen!