Sunday, March 17, 2019

Thankful Sunday, March 17, 2019

I am thankful that we're all different.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today is a celebration of our Irish heritage. According to DNA analysis, Ward and I are both 20% Irish.  I look the part with red hair and freckles, but Ward doesn't with black hair and olive skin.  That's what is so interesting about genetics and our varied backgrounds. You're never sure what the almost infinite combination of genes is going to come up with. When I was younger and would lament to my mother I wanted be like one of my older sisters, my mother would always say how boring the world would be if we were all alike. She was right. So for the uniqueness of each and every person, I am thankful.

Now to add a little more about St. Patrick's day, I'm running an updated version of a post from three years ago.

  St. Patrick's Day This and That

Irish dancers in St. Patrick's Day Parade, Washington, D. C.

I usually don't do a lot to observe St. Patrick's Day except wear green--a habit that started in elementary school days to avoid being pinched. If you didn't wear green, you were fair game. I wondered how that crazy tradition got started and found out that, most likely, it was started by Irish immigrants in this country a couple hundred years ago. Supposedly, wearing green made you invisible to mischievous leprechauns who would pinch you if they could see you. A pinch from someone reminded you to be aware that a leprechaun could sneak up on you at any time.

However, it wasn't until last year that I learned about wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day. Apparently, you wear green if you are Catholic and orange if you are Protestant. A friend, whose mother is Irish, said that she was always insistent that they wear orange instead of green on St. Patrick's Day. I think that detail was lost on most of us in this country or at least me.

Shamrocks (white clover)
I learned another new thing this St. Patrick's Day--what a shamrock is. Sarah, my special buddy, gave me a shamrock plant for St. Patrick's Day. It was in a green pot from a store and labeled as a shamrock. However, it looked just like white clover to me and was not at all like my image of a shamrock. But I was surprised when I looked into it. While there is disagreement among the Irish about which variety of clover is a shamrock, it is a clover plant. Yellow clover is what most agreed on with white clover coming in second. I have a white clover plant. I'm not sure if I'm going to let it join the rest of the clover in my yard or bring it inside. I may make it a house plant.

St. Paddy's day in New Orleans ( Photo source)
And while I usually don't do a lot on St. Patrick's Day (not green beer drinker or corned beef eater), I have been to a few parades. This was especially a big event when we lived in New Orleans. The fun part about a St. Patrick's Day parade was they threw vegetables from the floats to make an Irish stew. That means that along with the beads, they threw cabbages, carrots, potatoes and onions. We usually took them home and did just that--made a stew.

We've been to one parade here and while it was enjoyable, it didn't quite live up to the vegetable throwing in New Orleans.

So as I go and figure out what green thing I'm going to wear today, I hope you have a Happy St. Patrick's Day however big or small you chose to celebrate it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

More Meals in a Box

Recently, I reported on our experience with Blue Apron that my son, Wally, had been given as a gift. Since then, we have tried a couple additional Blue Apron meals with him which were coordinated with the Weight Watchers (WW) Freestyle program.

Independently of this, Miss Landers decided to try Green Chef, another meal service that is very similar to Blue Apron but focuses on organic ingredients and current diet trends including keto, paleo, and gluten free. She gave us a couple of those to try.

Below are some of the meals we've made.

This is the meal we tried from Green Chef- barramundi fish with lemon, caper sauce. Miss Landers signed up for a pescatarian plan because she is trying to incorporate more fish into her diet. 

The pan fried fish was topped with lemon caper sauce and came with sides of roasted potato wedges and sauteed carrots and onions. It was all quite good, but took a while to prepare with lots of chopping and different cooking steps.

As chance would have it, the next day Wally gave us another fish with lemon caper sauce meal to try. This one was talapia and part of a WW Freestyle meal.   It was served with zucchini and pepper orzo. Both fish meals were good and the crowd was divided between the two as to which one they liked better. For those of you keeping track, this meal had 15 WW Smart Points per serving and a couple hundred more calories that the barramundi meal.

Wally decided that preparing these meals was more than he wanted to do by himself, so we cooked more of them together. This was an orange chicken stir-fry. Lots of chopping but a good flavor (although Theo wasn't sure about the orange pieces in the dish) and a low point value for anyone on the WW program. This was 4 points per serving.

Another Blue Apron meal of creamy shiitake risotto. I had never cooked risotto before or used carnaroli rice, but may try it again. This was also tasty, but higher in WW points, 12 per serving.

On deck. Another one Miss Landers is sharing with us from the Green Chef. This will probably be made tomorrow.

As you might have guessed, there has been more food preparation going on in our kitchen recently than there has been in a long time. While we have enjoyed all of these meals, we will probably not sign up for one of these plans. All of the meals have been flavorful, but often use onions and peppers which not everyone here likes. Also, as I have mentioned before, they involve a lot more prep than I (and Ward and Wally and Theo) want to do.

If I keep talking about food in this blog, I'm going have to figure out how to take food pictures. Still not sure what's the best angle or lighting.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Thankful Sunday, March 10, 2019

I am thankful for opportunity.

Image result for free clip art dancingLast Friday Ward and I were invited to a dinner party with one of Ward's work friends who was celebrating her birthday. After an elaborate dinner with many toasts, the party retired to the basement where music and dancing ensued. That was our cue to leave. Or so we thought. When we went to say goodbye, we found our host, among other guests, dancing to pounding music and flashing lights, complete with a DJ. Just like a disco club of the 70's. Or so I hear, I was never in one.

We had almost decided to leave without talking to the host when I started pushing Ward into the room. I wanted to join in, but was hesitant. I was leaving the decision up to Ward. I figured he would back out and I could say he was the one who didn't want to dance. But he surprised me. We soon found ourselves in the middle of the dance floor dancing while a circle formed around us. And you know what? We didn't die of embarrassment. We were actually having fun. It's amazing what can happen when you let your guard down a little bit. Did I mention, this may have been the first time either of us has danced like this in decades?

So for the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and have some unexpected fun, I am thankful.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

I am thankful for puzzles.

More specifically, I am thankful for This is a site of free jigsaw puzzles you solve online.

I know there are several sites that feature jigsaw puzzles, but I like this one because it's free and you don't have to create an account to use it. There are some ads on the sides, but they don't interfere with working the puzzle. In fact, you can enlarge the puzzle to full screen and not see anything else. Quite frankly, I never even noticed the ads until I started to write this post.

There are a large variety a puzzles with varying numbers of pieces and shape cuts. I usually do a 100 piece puzzle with traditionally shaped pieces. This works just right for me. I do the border first that takes 2 or 3 minutes and then get up and do something else. Later I come back and complete the puzzle which usually takes another 10 or so minutes. I don't usually get sucked into a long computer session with this site. A good thing because I don't always walk away easily from a computer game. And there is the added bonus that puzzles are supposed to help maintain mental acuity as we age.

So the enjoyment and mental exercise I get from, I am thankful.

From the site:

"Welcome to,

an ever-growing collection of free online jigsaw puzzles. Albums on the left have hundreds of free jigsaw puzzles already - feel free to explore and play it all. Or, bookmark and check this page daily for a cool Puzzle of the Day.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Wally's Blue Apron Experience

For Christmas, Wally got a subscription to Blue Apron from one of his cousins. Blue Apron, for the few of you who might not know, is a service that delivers ingredients and recipes to your home for you to cook. I've always been interested in what one of those meal delivery services looked like so Wally brought a box over and we cooked a two meals.

The food came in this box and was inside an insulated sleeve with ice in the bottom. It was well packed and everything was appropriately cold.

These were the box contents, ingredients for three meals.

Each meal came with a recipe card with a description of the dishes on the front along with a list of ingredients.

And the back had detailed instructions for every meal preparation.

Everything was provided except salt, pepper, and olive oil for sauteing. 

First, all of the vegetables were cleaned and chopped.

Then the cooking began. The steak was cooked in the skillet.

And the potatoes were roasted in the oven.

After the steak was done, mushrooms and shallots were cooked in the same skillet. After they were browned, balsamic vinegar was added.

Then the only mishap of the day occurred. The garlic, that was browning in some ghee, burned. At that point, there were two things cooking at the same time and Wally got a little overwhelmed. However he was able to recover and cook the kale with special cheese sauce minus the burnt garlic.

Ta-Da! Dinner is served.

So what did we think? First some background. Wally is not a cook. He has some experience in the kitchen, but doesn't like to cook. He's happy with a spoon and jar of peanut butter for supper, or sometimes a simple rice and bean dish involving a rice cooker and some cans. Actually, pretty good nutrition that he is very happy with. Repetition is not a problem for him.

He cooked this meal entirely by himself. The only help I provided was to occasionally help him find a pan or spoon he needed. It took him about an 1 1/2 hours from start to finish. An experienced cook, would have been able to do it faster, but there were a lot of steps to do including a lot of chopping that would take time no matter what the experience level.

By the time he was done, Wally was totally frazzled. Getting everything cooked and ready at the same time at the end was very stressful for him. However, he was pleased with the results. The whole family tried the meal and everyone thought it was good.--very flavorful. Ward said it was the best kale he's ever had. There were a couple of grizzly pieces in the meat, but overall not bad.

After that meal was completed, Wally and I together prepared another one, Beef over Zaatar-Spiced Rice. This one was a little easier to prepare and was also very tasty. This was the preferred one between the two.

Wally decided that Blue Apron was not for him. Too much work. However, he said that it was a good service because the ingredients were of high enough quality and the instructions were detailed enough that a non-cook like him could produce a tasty meal.

This weekend we're going to try some more Blue Apron meals here. Those are coordinated with Weight Watchers and I am very curious what those will be like.

Note: As for cost, I think Blue Apron meals are expensive. They were $10 per person per meal. A good price for nice restaurant quality food but could certainly be done cheaper if you did the planning and shopping yourself. But if you like to cook, it might be a fun way to spend a date night. Or if you like to cook, but don't have the time and energy to do the planning and shopping, this might be a good thing.

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