Monday, February 23, 2009

Music Monday

It's the last Monday of February, a month dedicated to love. I've tried to keep up the spirit - the red-and-hearts tablecloths still graces the dining room table. It's currently adorned with an entire army of Bionicles. C love them, so I guess they're in keeping with the spirit of the month.

I couldn't let the month slip away without posting one of my favorite love songs, "I'll Cover You" from Rent. It's such a joyful, giving song. In the play and movie, the actors are so happy to be together. Despite the angst that surrounds them, Angel and Collins remain madly in love until the end. As other characters say in the song "Goodbye Love", "I'd be happy to die for a taste of what Angel had. Someone to live for, unafraid to say I love you."

I'm lucky. I have that in my life. BUMD is a joy to be around (most days - we all have our moments). He makes my life complete. ILY Always!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day of Reckoning, Month 5

...and, by default, Month 4 (since I didn't manage to post that day). I've at least managed to lose another 3 lbs, bringing the grand total lost to 9. Not particularly spectacular for five months.

The latest weight loss (ad)venture involves giving up sugar. I may have to settle for simply avoiding it most of the time. Today, for instance, I was out running errands. I really, really wanted to stop at Subway and get an Italian sub, but I settled for going to Whole Paycheck and getting some sushi and a seaweed salad. I figured that was marginally better than eating bread and cold cuts that I know have sugar in them. It turns out that my "healthier" choice still contained sugar, both in the salad and the sushi. Going completely sugar-free is much harder than I thought.

Score card:
9 lbs down, 51 to go.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toothsome Tuesday

After last night's decision to join Kirsty in eschewing sugar, I couldn't very well post a dessert recipe today. Instead, I'm posting a well-loved recipe that I've been turning to for years. I found this in a newspaper many years ago and we printed it as part of our "For Starters..." cookbook (as in "for starters, we'll have this for dinner."). It's delicious and nutritious, and tastes almost like chicken. If nothing else, I'll now be able to find a copy of this recipe when I'm away from my own computer.

Turkey Cutlets with Black Bean and Tomato Sauce

2 1/2 TB olive oil
6 thin slices uncooked turkey breast (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup canned black beans, drained
1 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

1. In a skillet, heat the oil and then lightly brown the turkey slices on both sides; remove turkey to warm plate and season with salt and pepper.
2. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes; add bell pepper and chili powder and cook for one minute.
3. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, black beans and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Return the turkey slices to the skillet, cover and simmer until the turkey is cooked through and the flavors have blended, about 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Transfer the turkey cutlets to a platter and spoon over the sauce. Top with sprinklings of the coriander, if you wish, and serve piping hot.

Serves 4

Monday, February 16, 2009

Momedy: Eschewing Sugar. It's time to Just Say No.

Momedy: Eschewing Sugar. It's time to Just Say No.

I so needed to read this post today. Motivation at its finest. Anyone else want to join Kirsty and I in giving up sugar?

Music Monday

I got rhythm, I got music...who could ask for anything more?

Some days, rhythm is all we need. One of our favorite YouTube and iTunes videos features nothing but snapping and dancing. F-U-N

The talented folks at Anaheim Ballet have been entertaining us for months now, since I discovered them through a random search. We've watched this particular video countless times and it never gets old. Some day I hope to go to California and see them live. Until then, I remain a loyal virtual fan. Enjoy this one and then go check out the rest of their videos. It'll be time well spent.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Toothsome Tuesday

Valentines Day = Chocolate + Love

Now there's an equation I like. I don't need the flowers - they're marked up for the occasion and therefore BUMD isn't allowed to buy me any (none on Mothers Day either - the rest of the year is open season). Chocolate is just as festive and tastes better than flowers. Ok - this is somewhat debatable. BUMD makes an awesome Rose Petal Ice Cream. That recipe will have to wait for the summer.

One of the most decadent chocolate cakes I've ever eaten is a flourless chocolate cake. The recipe comes from the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill - can you tell I'm a fan? One time, BUMD made this cake and brought it into the office for someone's birthday. His then-boss, Sharon, wondered aloud if anyone else had the urge to put the cake on the floor and just roll in it. To this day, I can't think of the cake without thinking about her comment. There is no greater compliment.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs, separated
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs, separated
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and sugar a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Make the cake: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Remove from the heat.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until thick. Add the melted chocolate and combine. Fold in the egg whites.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Bake until just firm when gently shaken, 12 to 15 minutes. Place the pan on a rack to cool to room temperature. Expect the cake to fall.
6. Make the topping: Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4. Spread the unbaked chocolate mousse on top of the baked mousse in the springform pan. Chill for at least 12 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 16 to 20 (or 1 for rolling in).

Friday, February 6, 2009

GEMs for Kirsty

Today is my friend Kirsty's birthday (Happy Birthday Kirsty!). We've been talking together on the mom's board for our eight-year-olds for nearly nine years now. In her usual kind and generous manner, Kirsty asked her friends to help celebrate her birthday by doing something to make the world better. The problem is that she asked people to post about what they were going to do and then post about what they did on her birthday. I'm great at planning but suck at follow-through. Therefore, I didn't post ahead of time. I couldn't decide what to do and if I did, I would no doubt forget to do it.

As I was running errands today, it finally came to me - for Kirsty's birthday, I'm going to get this particular blog entry idea out of my head and into cyberspace. Here it goes: to help make the world a better place (for you, for others, for Kirsty, for everyone), Go the Extra Mile (GEM). It's easy, it's free, and you don't always have to do it. Just make an effort (ME time? Unfortunately, Nike already has rights to Just Do It.).

From my perspective, being a GEM involves doing the little things - hold the door open for someone; put the shopping cart back in its place; pick up after yourself; let someone go in front of you; smile at a stranger in the mall; pay someone a compliment; thank someone for good service; anything that can make someones' day better. It's generally not a difficult thing, yet so many people seem unwilling to make even the smallest effort. We all have our days - that's a given. But, if people make the effort most of the time, the little things get done. It's the little things that matter, right?

For example, the woman in line in front of me at the store spent the entire time at checkout talking on the phone, then moved off to the side right by the carts to continue the conversation. She left her own cart in front of the register, blocking me from getting to the counter and forcing the cashier to take the time to put it away. Exactly how difficult would it have been to take the cart with her and put it away? Not at all. It was frustrating and amusing to both me and the cashier. The cashier said she sees that kind of behavior all the time. I'm not even going to get into discussion of basic manners (although, if you're interested, the Best of Craigslist has several cashier rants).

The GEM discussion is ongoing in our family, although I haven't really called it that before. I think the kids get it. They're generally helpful to each other and others. Again, they have their moments too. But, the other day K came home from school with her usual good grades/good citizen award (yeah K!). It's a nice thing to give the kids. She mentioned that another kid had received a special award for helping to stack the chairs after some event. This puzzled her - she does that sort of thing all the time and gets no special recognition, nor does she expect it. Someone has to stack the chairs, so she helps out. She was similarly surprised when she got a special shout-out for helping with the mini-swim team at practice time. Her sister is on it and she thought that, of course, older kids should help the younger ones. I am so darned proud of her, I could burst. This is the attitude we're trying to foster - if the work needs to be done, just do it. Do it without the expectation of awards, rewards, or recognition. Not every effort needs to be celebrated. Doing good should be its own reward.

That said, giving out the occasional award to someone who is "just doing their job" can enlighten others and maybe encourage them to try and do the same. The recent great works of Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberg are fine examples of how to go the extra mile. Most people are familiar with his successful ditching of a commercial aircraft on the Hudson River. Less publicized was his later call to his local library, explaining that his library book was still in the plane's cargo hold and would be late. He asked that the library give him an extension of the loan and waive the overdue fees. The library did him one better, waiving the overdue and book replacement fees, and deciding to place a dedication template in the replacement copy. The book's subject: professional ethics. Sully is a true GEM. We need more people like him.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Music Monday

"Come on now, now, come on now, now. Enjoy the humor of the situation." - Barenaked Ladies

I try hard to see the humor in any given situation. It makes anything better if you can just laugh at it. Better still, laugh at yourself. Humor is the balm that softens the blows that life throws at you.

Few things aren't fair game in our house. Take our marriage, for instance. We have a great one. I've very lucky to have found BUMD - we are bestest friends and have a great partnership. We like similar things. It just works.

Still, there are some things we don't see eye to eye on and never will. We refer to those things as "next spouse" items. I will have a dog with my next spouse. He'll run for office with his next spouse. We're not being disrespectful to our marriage. We're just letting the other know that it will never happen with us. It makes us laugh to say it.

I really appreciate people who have a lively sense of humor. Barenaked Ladies is one of my favorite groups because of their ability to make me laugh mid-song. The line "I just made you say underwear" from "Pinch Me" springs to mind - you'll think twice before singing along with one of their songs. Another group I appreciate is the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. LAGQ took on Pachelbel's Canon in D and turned it into the impish wonder known as the "Loose" Canon. You can't help but smile when you hear it. Enjoy!