Wow, it is National Coffee Day! I wish I had known that earlier...I would have bought everyone a cup of coffee! (Whew...glad I didn't because that would have blown the whole budget out of the water with this little no income project I have going here!) But, any reason for a celebration is fine with me, so let's virtually drink a cup together! Post a link of a picture of your coffee this morning on the Pharmcook Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Pharmcook/229116143789863 so we can all feel connected. My friend is having coffee this morning at a campsite in Ouray, Colorado...and I am green with envy..... So, let's see yours!!!
Yes, I have to admit something this morning.... I am scared. The State Fair is coming up, and my pushy friend...oh wait, did I say that out loud? I meant my incredible assertive :) friend, Michelle...(now I am in trouble and even more scared) has challenged me to enter some of the special food category contests. Now I will be the first to admit that entering a photography contest has never made me the least bit apprehensive. I mean, I have had photography classes for heaven's sake! But the food categories....well, that is a totally different story! Ok, it is true that I naturally have a very unnatural relationship with food. I love the colors, the textures, the way it feels in your hands, the magic of transforming something into something else....ahh...I am getting all dreamy now..... But I haven't had any formal training in this area! I have certainly learned from generations of awesome cooks (and still am) and definitely have the guts to try anything! In fact, I have bought pie pumpkins--no canned pumpkin for me this year! It is very true that I love to cook and create recipes, but it doesn't ALWAYS come out the the way I planned! You see, just this past weekend, I got a bit distracted....and forgot I was cooking...and burned some butter in a pan so badly that the smoke alarm went off, and we had to open all the doors. So...to enter a contest at the STATE FAIR! What if they laugh at me? I am certainly no "Aunt Bea!" But of course I don't live with Andy and Opie either.... Although I do know a few Barneys... :))) I have really always thought of myself as more the "Lucy" type. I can assure you I would do just as badly in the chocolate factory as she and Ethel! (If you are too young to get this--oh poor you! :) So, there is my dilemma. I just laid it out before all of you. I am a great big ol' chicken...because I might get my feelings hurt. Maybe I could enter anonymously...or under the name Lucy..... But then again, what the crap am I thinking!!! There is no "back down" in me! I am still the same crazy lady that decided to start videoing herself cooking! Ok, then. It's settled. IT'S ON NOW! (wish me luck!)
This morning I am so excited I can hardly make my brain settle down enough to tell you all this!!! It's ROAD TRIP time! I have the awesome opportunity to join my friend, Barbara, in Eureka Springs for the weekend! And we are going in her convertible! I'll be 10 years younger by the time I get back, I just know it!
Honestly, nothing is more exciting to me than a road trip! Well, I feel quite sure maybe an airplane flight to Hawaii might trump it, but I don't know for sure because my husband hasn't taken me there, yet.... (That is a hint, honey...) When I was young...younger, that is...I would have so much trouble sleeping on the night before a big trip....and actually, i am pretty much still like that! I love to travel, and the thrill of the road, and not knowing exactly what is in store up ahead, is absolutely thrilling to me.
I once read that there were two types of people when it came to travel. There are those that travel for the destination and those that travel for the journey. I am definitely the journey girl! (My husband is the destination kind...) I could blog all day on stories relating to those differences...but I would have to get permission and a lawyer, first! Basically, I live for the journey! Okay...maybe I will tell you one story...hopefully I won't get in too much trouble...
On the way to Yellowstone several years ago, we passed fields and fields of beautiful sunflowers in full bloom. They were incredibly beautiful! It was around 6 pm, and the sunlight was starting to cast its phenomenal glow on everything, and I BEGGED to stop and take a picture! Did we stop? NO! We had to hurry on and get to Wall's Drug (a big historic pharmacy that sells you lots of little souvenirs.) Well, of course I have never forgotten that, and on every occasion possible I would bring that point up...over...and over....and over... Well on our trip back from Pagosa Springs, Colorado last summer, we happened to pass a field of sunflowers...in the late evening light. "Oh look!” I said, "A field of sunflowers." David pulled over immediately. :)
"Always take time to stop and smell the flowers?" Yes, I agree, but don't forget to take a picture of them, too! I think thrill in life is all about the journey, and since we only get one trip around, we better hurry up and get to having some fun! Did I mention I was going on a ROAD TRIP today! :)
This past weekend, we headed to Lake Ouachita on Sunday afternoon for some last minute weekend relaxation. A friend of the boys joined us, and he has just turned 16, and has his own truck! Of course, he wanted to drive...( I guess he hasn't had to buy much of his own gas, yet)...so since he was so excited, and I was in a good mood because I had just invented Pancake Parfaits...I let him! I told the crew I would follow his truck in the van, thinking that would be safe.
One of the first things David and I discovered, after our boys got their driver's permit several months ago, is that they have no idea where to go to get anywhere! Since they were small, they have been either reading, listening to an ipod, or playing a gameboy in the car. Essentially, they have NEVER looked up. So because of this heavy electronic history, they are pretty clueless with directions at this point. Roads we have driven GAZILLIONS of times look totally new to them...and they do not know whether to turn right or left! So, I was very interested to observe one of their peers in a driving situation to see if this was a problem that was universal in this age group.... I will say...unequivocally...that it is... None of these boys know how to get anywhere! At the first turn...wrong lane...wrong blinker.... At the stoplight (and everyone knew the plan was to stop at Dollar General) ....left turn signal...when Dollar General was clearly straight across the road... No one in the truck even glanced at Sunshine Road...they just barreled on towards Glenwood! It became very clear that I needed to be in front of the truck, not behind. Plus, then I wouldn't have to keep calling and reminding them to slow down and observe the speed limit! Whew!
Ok, we finally get to the Shangri La Road...we are almost there! Woohoo...and I wanted him to park by the boat docks instead of at Nana's trailer by the lake... It can be very difficult to maneuver in the trailer area, so I thought that was best. However, they didn't follow me to the proper parking spot--they went straight to the trailer. So I used the electronic leash (cell phone) and snagged them, so they had to maneuver around in the trailer park anyway..sigh.... and made them come back to where I was waiting. I told him he had done a great job driving :) and showed him where I wanted him to park. I continued to further instruct them on what our plan was, etc. and started to head back to the trailer in my van. Now, as I was backing up, I suppose I was a bit distracted by my own insistence of passing on driving wisdom that.....I BACKED INTO A TREE!!!! Yes, midsentence of some important lecture about driving safety...I backed into a tree! Ugh. The boys mouths dropped open in shock...rushed over to the back of the car to see the damage! "Mom, are you okay?" "Mrs. Kelli, you jerked so hard I thought your head was going to hit the steering wheel." "Mom, is the car okay?" Then it turned to, "Really, Mom, really?" and "Oh my gosh, I can't believe you just did that!" And what did I do? I sat there and laughed...quite loudly, actually. Because in all of my 43 years, I do not think I had ever found myself in a more ironic situation....
Thankfully, my van Lucy is okay. She barely has a scratch...and maybe...just maybe...they learned the importance of wearing a seatbelt??? And like any self-respecting mom, I swore them to secrecy. "You boys better not tell a soul about this...and I mean it!...because I have to blog about this first!!!" Ha! Priorities are everything, you know! :)
I can get a tad bit distracted. Yes, I know that probably comes as a surprise to many of you. I am sure you have this nice picture in your head of me flitting around an extremely organized kitchen in a nicely starched white apron holding a little sparkling spoon of magic powdered sugar. Just go with me, here... and don't interrupt ....because I know that has to be what you think.... :) Well, as much as I would like to live out that fantasy....I have to admit that is certainly not the case. In fact, I really like to think that all of us creative, artistic foodie types are a bit distracted and disorganized. I mean, after all, there is only so much room in our brains, right? And we certainly wouldn't want to take up any space with dull, mundane, routine oriented tasks...right? Just nod your head, okay? Ok...stay on task, Kelli, stay on task.... On Sunday morning, actually it was afternoon--but morning to the sleep-deprived children-- the boys had a friend over, and you know how I love to feed teenagers, so I got in the kitchen to make some of my "As close as I can get to my Big Mama's" pancakes.
First batch on the griddle turned out lovely, poured the second batch on.....and ......you ......guessed it..... Something grabbed my attention...and I actually can't remember what it was....but it was definitely distracting.... Then all of a sudden, I remembered I had been cooking something! I rushed to the griddle to find my pancakes were overdone.... Now, let me tell you....overdone pancakes won't do in my house, especially for company...but the dogs like them just fine! So, I poured my last bit of batter on the griddle, thinking maybe this would still make enough. The radio was playing country music, obviously a good song, because it happened again....I became a bit distracted..... (This is why I make small batches of cookies, by the way.) And soon I realized that this batch wasn't up to par either. Actually, they were worse than the second batch! Oh no! What was I to do now?!?!?!? Three hungry teenagers were outside playing basketball, just waiting for me to tell them their breakfast/lunch/early afternoon meal was ready! Ah, but in my opinion, these kind of situations are what I live for! How could I make a few pancakes feed these humongous appetites? I thrive on challenges...so I immediately pulled out some fresh strawberries, cool whip, and my prettiest glass dishes. Yes, things always taste better in the pretty dishes! I added a small amount of sugar to some sliced fresh strawberries, just so they had a nice glaze to them, and started layering! In no time at all, I had a beautiful breakfast pancake parfait. I quickly scrambled some eggs with cheese for a bit of protein on the side, and a new breakfast was born in our house. This new concoction seemed to go over fabulously, as all the dishes were totally empty, and boys left the table satisfied!
This probably reminds you of some old saying, like "If life gives you lemons...etc…" but I think we should remember this one... "If you burn the pancakes, make parfaits!" What! You don't think that is as catchy? Well, it's a good lesson remembered for me, because I am always getting a bit distracted, and I will do well to remember not to panic....just improvise! It's a heck of a lot more fun! And I didn't even need my magic powdered sugar!
I woke up this morning determined to only think positively all day. And...OH MY!!!...It is working! Because I just found out it is National Chocolate Milkshake Day! Yipee!!! And, lucky me, I have not had breakfast yet! AND, lucky me, my friend and I have already "wogged" 5 miles this morning! So, as a service to all my friends and readers out there, I felt it was my duty to commemorate this wonderful day with, of course, a homemade chocolate milkshake! Now, those that know me well know that ice cream is my thing....my serious thing....my "oh my that Blue Bell Ice Cream is whispering my name from the freezer" kind of thing. And, lucky me, I just happened to have some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream in the freezer, AND some chocolate syrup! I am out of eggs....again....but obviously it is all about priorities.... So, just for you of course, I blended a nice chocolate milkshake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and 2% milk..(a girl has to watch her figure, you know!) and TADAHHH!!!! A lucious and creamy chocolate milkshake appeared! Wish I could share it with you right now, because it is delicious! It's going to be a good day! Oh, lucky me!
During our run yesterday morning, my friend was telling me about this person she had been acquainted with many years ago that she thought had gone off the deep end.... She explained that she basically became obsessed with some kind of spiritual stuff or something, and even changed her name... She told me, "She basically created a new identity for herself!" Hmmm....I wonder if she realized she was running with the "Pharmcook!" Maybe next time I have a midlife crisis...wait, would that be midlife midlife crisis?....I will pick something more exotic. I am thinking maybe.... "Princess Moonbeam?" What do you think?!?!
Happy Monday....wait, it's Tuesday...OH NO!...I am already behind... I hope everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend! Three day weekends are great, until Tuesday, then you end up doing two days work rolled into one...right? On Sunday, the winner for the 2nd Pharmcook Giveaway was announced, and my grandmother's cookie recipe was finally introduced. So, today I wanted to spotlight three awesome tips left by our friends. I think they are great, and I bet you will, too!
From Donna Gartin:
"I have a tip that my friend, Dani, shared with me a long time ago. To make all your cookies uniform in size, use a melon baller or mini ice-cream scoop. Ta-Dah!!! All your cookies are the same size!"
From Joan Whisenhunt:
"When I make oatmeal cookies, I like to use fresh nutmeg instead of cinnamon. It is just a new twist on an already good thing! People always ask for the recipe!"
"My Grandma Fryar use to show me how to throw a piece of spaghetti to see if it was done!"
From Megan Schwitzing:
"A trick my mom taught me for perfectly cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (that I kinda tweaked a little) is to coat the breasts in olive oil, season, and broil on high (with the oven rack on the second rung) for 7 minutes on each side. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving."
I love hearing all your great ideas! We are all in this together, so the more we share, the better we cook! If you have a tip you want to share, just leave it in the comment section below. We can all use a little help, especially on the Tuesday after a holiday weekend. :) Good luck with your to-do lists today!
Oh, and I made a mistake, and my grandmother called me on it! I said her recipe came from a Polar Flour cookbook....but should have said a Polar Bear Flour cookbook. Oops! Corrected! :)
Today is the day!!! Thanks to everyone that entered to win this lovely recipe journal in the second PHARMCOOK GIVEAWAY! Again, I will explain the selection process.... I wrote everyone's name down on a piece of paper....put them all in a bowl....and this time my Mom pulled out the winner!!! And the WINNER IS..... MEGAN SCHWITZING!!! Congratulations! Another giveaway coming soon! For all y'all that want to know more about Megan, check out the the Pharmcook Facebook Page! http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pharmcook/229116143789863
In today's world, we are taught to worry about carbs, fat, and calories, yet our nation's waistlines are bigger than ever before. We are told, "Don't tell your kids to clean their plates..." and "Don't reward yourself with food..." and to "Eat this and not that..." While I am not disagreeing with any of these statements in regard to certain situations, I feel as though we have all become a bit confused on how a meal or a treat should be viewed. Is chocolate the devil because I can't seem to resist it? Or is chocolate one of God's miracles? Well, obviously I am going for the latter view. While it is true that it can be very easy to seek satisfaction from dietary indulgences, just as it would be from other things that some may struggle to consume in moderation. But, let us always remember that the provision of a meal is a blessing. Many years I have struggled with my love of food....even praying that this incredible enjoyment of all things food--the love of the colors, the textures, the flavors-- be taken away from me...because if I didn't love it so much, then I obviously would not have to struggle with my weight, my body image, my self esteem...... All I can say to that is thank God for the age of 40, and with it a new mindset that life should be enjoyed... And as I enthusiastically dive into this world of food...a world I once held at arm's length, constantly in fear... I am constantly amazed at what I have always known, but tried to deny. What God made is beautiful and good...even the radishes. :) I feel this truth is demonstrated beautifully by the family members that came before us that may have struggled at times to put food on the table. And in those times when daylight to dusk required constant work just for survival, as I know still exists for many across this world, the extra effort to make a simple ingredient special was never overlooked, and hardly ever taken for granted. The ability to feed the family, to keep them healthy, and to bring a little joy to their faces is a gift, and one that should be honored. It is in this spirit that I open this new area on this site. I have been blessed to be raised in a family of great country cooks, and I have many memories from my childhood of both of my grandmothers' brilliance in the kitchen. As a child it seemed a bit like magic to me when they would take stuff like flour, salt , and butter, and other staples and make a beautiful cake or an incredible bread pudding. They loved their families with their food, with their time, and their effort to make something special out of the ordinary. I feel honored that I am able to still share my grandmother's kitchen with her, and I know I have much still to learn from her knowledge and experience both in the kitchen and in life. With this new section, Just like Grandma's, we will explore family recipes, tips and traditions, but mostly I hope to share with you a bit of that old kitchen magic.
Love yourself, and love your food!
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