Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Random Thoughts for a Wednesday

This happens all too often…

That something has occurred is not, in and of itself, indicative of a normative situation, so it’s rather foolish to discuss it that way (as though it’s typical).

Conversely, the fact that an occurrence is not normative doesn’t warrant exclusion with the dismissive, “that almost never happens…”.

Also, not everything’s a red herring.

(You could say I have a bee in my bonnet today, an all too normative experience for me.)

 

 

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Guess What Just Landed on my Kindle?

Mary Tudor:  Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitlock

The Lake House:  A Novel by Kate Morton

Lady MacBeth:  A Novel by Susan Fraser King

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice:  or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

Sunshine?  Check
Comfy Deck Chair?  Check
Fabulous Cocktail(s)?  Check

I can’t wait to get started!

Happy Weekend to you all🙂

 

 

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I’m Just In That Kind of Mood Today

I read something earlier today on Le Interwebz that made me howl with laughter and reminded me of this scene, from THE BEST ROMANCE EVER WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF EVER AND YES I WANT TO BE BURIED WITH A COPY….

Le Background – Nora Beckett, lady in waiting to Queen Mary I (yes, that one), is rather despondent at the news her (asshat) father plans to marry her off to one Percivale Flegge (I’d be despondent, too if the rumors turned out to be true) and also that she is far too plain for any man to want to marry her and she can’t even drum up any enthusiasm for attending the de Rivers’ banquet.

Here is Her Majesty’s take on cheering her up!

“The Queen made a grumbling noise. “Look you, Nora. It’s true that women are inherently the Devil’s instrument and not God’s, but as long as a girl is chaste, obedient, and intelligent, there’s no reason she can’t also be pretty. God delights in beauty devoted to His works.”

“Think you so, Your Grace?”

“My father used to say so all the time.  And he was, after all, the great King Harry.

Nora contemplated this new idea. If England’s powerful and fearsome Henry VIII approved, it wasn’t for her to question.”

 

Lady Gallant, Suzanne Robinson (yes it has “those scenes” – none particularly gratuitous IMHO but then I’m flat out of delicate sensibilities, soooooo…..skip “those” pages if you must, but by all means, read it).

 

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Easy, My Ass…

“…books about cooking largely admitted what every homemaker knew to be true:  that feeding people was backbreaking work, and then you died.” (The “Myth” of Easy Cooking by Elizabeth Dunn – linked in earlier post referenced and linked below)

Thanks to Els’ encouragement to expand on my earlier post (which was really just a link), and because my blog pal’s latest post has sparked some excellent commentary, here is my little screed on the matter of “Easy” cooking.

Every single thing in that article resonated with me.  I have DOZENS  of cookbooks (even post-cull) and any number of them promise “easy”.  Easy.  Sure.  Maybe in an alternate universe.

Let’e talk turkey, shall we?

30 Minute Meals.  I owned 4 of these cookbooks.  You can’t actually prepare any of this, from lights-on to table in 30 minutes.  Really, you can’t.  Not unless all your prep is done ahead of time.  And then – let’s talk about the sheer ridiculous number of post and pans and utensils required to produce the meal – basically an hour of clean up.  And you know what else?  In my house, the produce is not all washed and dried and prepped and ready for me to slice/dice/chop.

How about ingredients?  Spurred on by this article, I pulled out a couple of my “easy weeknight meals” cookbooks.  Kohlrabi.  Celeriac.  Butternut Squash (you know it takes an hour alone to simply carve that thing into something you can actually at some point cook and eat, right?).  Le Sigh. (Disclosure – I can actually get kohlrabi and celeriac at my local grocery store, but I’m lucky that way and anyway, it’s only fairly recently that securing some of this stuff didn’t require a pilgrimage to Whole Paycheck).

Mostly where Dunn gets it right is in WHO is exactly creating these recipes.  Not “home cooks who learned at their mothers’ elbows in family kitchen”.  Culinary School grads.  Nothing against them, but what the ^%$#(*&^do they know about screaming into a driveway at 6:30 (sure, you left the office at 5, but then you had the commute and you had to pick up the kids from daycare and then you still had to stop by the grocery store before heading home) with tired, hungry, cranky kids?  Answer?  Big Fat Hairy Zilch, that’s what.

I firmly believe that there are nights you pick up a grocery store rotisserie chickn, maybe a frozen mac & cheese and bag-o-salad.  That’s what you do unless you have a martyr complex the size of Mt. Rushmore.

You also need to get over youself and allow that shortcuts by way of semi-prepared and/or prepackaged food items are not only permissible, they’re essential.  Look, most women, whether they work outside the home or not, ain’t sitting back on the chaise longue, sippin’ on mint juleps and noshing on bonbons all day.  They’re really working.  All day.  And some of them are herding small children.  All. Day. Long.  They’re tired.  Kids are tired.  Hubs comes home – he’s tired.  Everybody’s hungry.  Shortcuts are your salvation, and if you can swing some prep work on the weekends, or even do some make-ahead meals, that’s great.  Otherwise, let’s all chill out and stop worshiping at the altar of “Everything-From-Scratch”.  And have a glass of wine, while you’re at it.

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Reality Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 3

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but I’ve been super-busy and then tired at night, so no posting until now.

Le Menu

  • Monday – Roasted Chicken Thighs, Green Beans, Rice (for those who eat it), baked potato (me)
  • Tuesday – Pork Tenderloin, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad (I don’t particularly like avocado’s texture, but this was a delicious salad; I had it for lunch the next day with extra grapefruit and some shaved almonds and baby spinach – total yumfest)
  • Wednesday – Steak Bites, Crash Potatoes, Spinach Salad, Crash Potatoes
  • Thursday – Leftovers…..many many leftovers
  • Friday – Beefy Loaded Baked Potatoes, maybe spaghetti squash, probably some kind of salad.
  • Weekend – Not sure and no sense planning for it.

It’s going to be a ridiculously busy weekend and frankly, I’m not looking all that forward to it.  One of my goals is to have an actual day off – you know, not work (no housework, no work-work), just a day to do things I love to do – mess around in my garden, go to the beach, read.  No laundry.  No grocery shopping.  I’m aiming for Sundays, because I rather need that bit of downtime to get myself mentally prepared for Monday – Friday.  Saturday is just another extension of M-F, only that’s house/family related.  So Sunday has to be Downtimeday.  Except it won’t be this weekend.  Le Sigh.

I know you just dying to know how my dietary vacation is progressing.  It’s fabulous, dontcha know!  I wake up starving (!!!!!!!) and eat breakfast now.  Then I’m hungry again midmorning so I eat then too.  Then lunch.  And snack.  And dinner.  And snack again.  I feel good and I’m not exhausted all the time and I’m very seriously thinking about extending this little vacay for a couple more weeks.  Doing a little more research into the science behind the plan and it’s extremely interesting.  Mostly, though, I just like that I feel good and can eat a lot.

I will say this – my cooking has undergone some interesting developments, as well.  Made my own hot Italian sausage the other day and it was so good, I can’t imagine buying it again (there wasn’t any commercially prepared sausage which didn’t have sugar of some form in it); I make clarified butter and my own mayonnaise and I’m making ranch dressing this weekend (I think).  One thing has also become clear – I need to bite the bullet and buy a new food processor.  Was kind of hoping I could just get away with my immersion blender, handheld mixer, and knives, but that’s not happening; so this weekend, need to research a new machine.

So that’s what’s happening with me.  What’s cooking at your place?

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Reality-Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 2

Still on time off, diet-wise- and loving every moment of it.

I know that last week I planned out through the weekend, but things were crazypants here, so that was more of a pipedream.  We ate well, of course, but had to take a more flexible approach.  I’m totally good with that.

  • Monday – Burgers, Rutabaga Fries, and Salad
  • Tuesday – Chicken-Zucchini Tots, Roasted Cauliflower
  • Wednesday – Portuguese Fish Stew & Salad
  • Thursday – Roast Chicken (or 40-garlic clove, if I can get Hearth to share her recipe, LOL), Green Beans Amandine, Baby Greens with Green Apple Dressing
  • Friday – Beefy-loaded Baked Potatoes; Steamed Broccoli

I also made Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Soup and a huge container of tuna salad, so I’ll be lunching on that most of the week.  The fruit platter is piled high with bananas, Honeycrisp apples, oranges, and pears.  There are lots of crudités in the fridge and I’m making my first-ever attempt at mayonnaise.

I thought I’d take a minute just to muse over some of the things I’ve noticed since taking this approach.  First and foremost, the terrible late afternoon fatigue is nearly gone.  This had me nearly in tears of despair – 1600 and I was nearly comatose; more often than not, a headache accompanied it.  I’ve had much fewer headaches – maybe 1 fairly minor in the last 10 days rather than an every day thing – and this means I’m eating a lot less ibuprophen.  Heartburn is pretty nonexistent, too – and I was waking up several days a week with that terrible burning in my esophagus.

Frankly, I’m delighted.  Have I missed anything?  Sure – I particularly miss milk in my coffee, but that’s just led to a reduction in the amount of coffee I drink.  Occasionally I hear toast with butter and cherry preserves calling me; and Saturday night all I wanted was a big bowl of Pasta Carbonara.  I remind myself I’m on vacation and the cravings go limping back into their hidey-holes.

Oh – and Hearth – bought beets; roasted them (well, attempted to any way) and throwing them in the aforementioned salad with green apple dressing.  Will report on the outcome  :-)   >

So, what’s cooking with every one else?

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Broccoli-Cauliflower-Watercress Soup

Adapted from Watercress-Cauliflower SoupMartha Stewart Dinner at Home

Dinner at Home by Martha Stewart has become my favorite cookbook.  It’s arranged seasonally and meal-based – that is, there are starters, the main dish, sides/salads and dessert.  In fact, I love this book so much that I’m truly considering ordering copies for my girls to have themselves (maybe someday they’ll actually have their own household).

This soup is delightful. You can make it with all non-frozen items, and good homemade stock (just like the recipe calls for); or you can do what I usually do – use frozen veggies and good canned low-sodium stock.  If you are fortunate to live near a Publix Supermarket, then you can buy whole bags of watercress, rather than just bunches, making it even easier.  However you make it, it’s bright and tangy, light and satisfying.  The original recipe calls for just cauliflower and I’ve made it that way, but I’ve come to like it even more when I substituted broccoli for half the cauliflower.  I haven’t tried it using just broccoli, but suspect that would be great, too.  If you’re looking for a total vegetarian meal, you could use vegetable stock in lieu of chicken.

The soup is great as a starter course, a light lunch on its own, or even a great accompaniment to a Ham-and-Dijon-on-French-bread (OK fine – you can pick your own sandwich). Whatever or whenever you serve it, it’s sure to please.

Not just for soup – throw this in salad for extra tasty goodness

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 12oz package frozen chopped onion
1 12oz bags frozen cauliflower
1 12oz bag frozen broccoli
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
2 cups water
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
1 4oz bag of water cress (or 2 large bunches, thick stems trimmed a bit)

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

Add the onion and sauté until translucent (about 5-7 minutes or so, need to allow some of the water to cook off the frozen onion). Add the broccoli and cauliflower, broth/stock, water, salt and some cracked pepper; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender (about 15 minutes).  Remove the pot from the heat; add the watercress and stir to wilt a bit.

I left mine with some texture and a few chunks, but you can puree this completely smooth if that’s your preference.

You can puree the soup in batches using a conventional blender, or use an immersions blender and do the work right there in the soup pot (which is what I do because I don’t have a blender any more).

That’s it. You’re done.  Soup’s On!

 

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Reality-Based Menu – Vacation Edition – Week 1

I have officially put myself on vacation – not the typical vacation, but a dietary vacation. You see, I feel terrible all the time; I wake up tired and go to bed tired; I experience intense fatigue throughout the day; my focus and concentration are shot, along with enthusiasm, any sort of creativity; I can’t even enjoy reading because my brain just can’t keep track of what I’ve read. My body hurts – all over. Even walks on my beloved Folly Beach have ceased to be a pleasure and are more pain.

It was time to do something drastic.

Now I’m one of those persons who embrace change with all the enthusiasm of a toddler being put down for a nap. And all it takes are those foul words, “good for you,” and my inner obstinate mule starts kicking and screaming up a storm. But this is different. I’m just not me anymore and I can’t stand it.

So, what exactly is this vacation I’m taking? It’s Whole30™, that’s what.

I’m taking a vacation from the scale (that’s right – no scale for 30 days); no dairy, no grains; no legumes; no sugar of any kind. Well, isn’t that rather faddish of you, Maevey? And didn’t you already try the cavegirl routine and nearly pass out after two weeks just taking a 15-minute stroll through the neighborhood? And didn’t a whole slew of other awful things happen? Why yes, yes all that happened. But I’m not pulling a cavegirl thing. I’m not fasting; not eliminating carbohydrates. I’m not giving up coffee or tea or even juice or salt.

Here’s what I’m eating – lots of pork and fish and chicken and beef and eggs; potatoes (sweet and white); lots of salads; lots of fruit and veggies; olive oil and clarified butter; nuts and olives and pickles and pepperoncini. In short, I’m eating a crap load of tasty goodness.

It’s day three. It’s been tough, but every time a craving hit, I’d tell myself, “yeah, I’m kind of taking a break from that for a couple weeks.” You hear that – I’m taking a break. Not denying myself. Not living in a dietary purgatory. I’m taking a break; relaxing; chilling.

Here’s my menu for the week – and yay me!

  • Stuff I’m eating all day long (breakfast, lunch, etc.): Cauliflower-Watercress Soup; eggs (scrambled and hardboiled); tuna salad (I’m holding off the mayo and binding with my favorite lemon vinaigrette – soooo tasty); huge Honeycrisp apples; some Florida strawberries; oranges; ruby grapefruits.
  • Monday – Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs; Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Paprika; Celery Root & Walnut salad
  • Tuesday – It’s just me and I’m making a frittata with baby spinach and roasted tomatoes
  • Wednesday – Ground beef with onions and garlic (and some hot pepper flakes) over baked potato halves; broccoli
  • Thursday – Roast Pork Tenderloin; Hot Crash Potatoes; Green Beans
  • Friday – Rosemary Beef Skewers with Arugula Salad
  • Saturday – Coconut Curry Shrimp with Cucumber Slaw and Grilled Pineapple Slices
  • Sunday – Whole Roast Chicken, Pan Sauce, Rutabaga Fries; Mashed Potatoes
  • Now tell me, does that sound like deprivation to you? It sounds like heaven to me.

    Is it all easy-peasey-lemon-squeezy? Nope. Last night I got up about a thousand times to pee AND I had the worst sugar cravings. That was hard. But I still kept reminding myself that I was taking some time off from the Milk Duds™ for a couple weeks. Amazing how that works – just taking time off. A great good thing. And the more I frame this as a vacation, the more my head seems to be onboard – and more importantly, the beastly toddler who lives inside me is rather enthused as well.

    I’m not planning to turn this into another Whole30™ site – but the next couple weeks will indeed be reflecting this dietary vacation I’m on – and I’ll be posting a couple recipes just to drive home how delicious this time off can be.

    So, what’s cooking at your house?

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    Happy New Year

    This is a place-holder post because I don’t have one ready. Things are a-changin’ Chez Maeve et Filles (for the better, I think), and I’ll be sharing some of those change here. But never fear…

    Yes – there will be Monday Menus.
    Yes – There will be True Confessions.
    Yes – There will be Book Discussions (or at least my ramblings)
    Yes – There will finally be my post about why reading Romance is good for you and if you’re not reading any then you should start now.
    Yes – There will even be recipes of my own (don’t think I posted any last year)

    Yes – I DO have to get back to work.

    A Bientôt

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    True Confessions Tuesday

    When it comes to those I love, I’m a card-carrying member of People Pleasers International.

    This isn’t exactly a good thing, because it means that I tend to contort myself in all sorts of ways to ensure that everyone is happy – not necessarily acting in their best interests, you understand, but trying to make them happy.

    It’s also bad because deep inside my core, I’m also a Type-A, Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Stubborn As A Mule, Irish chick.  AND because I actually do have a back bone that would make a T-Rex envious, and will literally beat an issue to death, resurrect it and then beat it to death again, I’ve (mostly) developed a general policy of “avoid confrontation unless absolutely necessary”.

    Except sometimes I forget and then I have Le Regret.

    I’m pretty sure that no one has ever had to eat her own words more than I have.

    Le Sigh.

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