The “Perfect Fit” Challenge…

You may be thinking that I am going to talk about relationships and what it’s like when you find your perfect mate for life.  Nope, it’s not that.  Then maybe it’s about diet and weight loss and finding that perfect fit for your body.  Nah…that’s been overdone.  Truly there are many things that could apply to this two-word challenge.  However, the one I am speaking of is one that I instigated upon myself.  It is the challenge of finding a container that will fit leftover food without leaving space between the food and the lid.  Let me give you a bit of background on how this obsession of mine started.

If you came to my house and checked out my pantry shelf in the basement and my fridge and freezer (yes I have extra appliances in my basement as all good Croatians do), you could probably go shopping.  I should supply little baskets.  Now, Wiseguy is always telling me to stop overstocking, especially now that it is only the two of us in the house.  I, however, disagree.  It’s not that we have fewer people in the house, we now have waaaay more people coming for meals now that the children are all coupled and have children of their own.  There is a need for more food.  (Please feel free to begin your own discussion on this matter).  This was a nasty habit I picked up from my mother.

My parents were raised in a village.  They literally grew up in tiny homes that were overcrowded with children (free labour).  When they came to Canada it was important to stockpile food stuff to ensure they would never be hungry again.  I myself did not grow up hungry, but that habit of my mother’s for being prepared was ingrained in my head.  However, hubby is always saying he can’t see the light on in the fridge because of all the leftovers and the potential “throw away” food.  There you have it.  My need to condense our fridge co-habitants.  Hubster will open the ice box and see a plethora of food and all I see are half filled containers of leftovers.  If we start making dinner using previous meals and a container is left half full, I will seek out a replacement that will fit the contents precisely.  My obsessiveness is actually something that I have passed on to the kids too.  They now challenge themselves when they help me clean up after a meal.  They even do it in their own homes.  Yes, my craziness has rubbed off on them.  It’s quite entertaining to watch Wiseguy watching his children mimic my obsessiveness.  I’m quite proud of it.  Anyway, you must be wondering…how is this a challenge?

You may think this is a simple thing.  Nay I say!  Have you ever had your spouse/friend/family member/acquaintance put leftover spaghetti in a container and it only fills half the bowl?  How horrible!  What a waste of precious fridge space.  My goal is to find the correct container…on the first guess!  Anyone can start putting stuff into a larger container than is needed.  Pshaw!  Way too easy.  How about the times you start off with a small container and you misjudged the interior expanse.  Oh me, oh my!  Not only do you need to peruse your cupboard for a new receptacle, but now you have to wash the one you had previously chosen.  FAIL!

Allow me to show you the difference between a PASS and  a FAIL.

100% FAIL!

This is how things used to be put into my fridge.  Egad!

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PASS!  

How lovely!  Might have even found a smaller container as there is space at the top

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Here was my most recent challenge.  I boiled macaroni.  Part of it was for a casserole and the rest was going to be leftovers for my lunch or perhaps even dinner the next day.

As you can see, macaroni in pot.  Next was my chosen container.  It was going to be tight, but I think I eye-balled correctly.

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Then halfway up the container and still more pasta to go.  I took a quick gulp and hoped for the best.

 

 

 

GAME!  SET!  MATCH!!  PERFECTION!

Seriously.  The cover fit.  All the elbow macaroni is contained.  NO…I did not eat any of it.  No cheating with this game.

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For all you OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) darlings out there…this is a boon for you.  It may seem so simple and irrelevant, but once you start you will catch the bug.  It’s all about finding the “perfect fit”.  And if you are high falutin, you can rename it (as I used to call it) “The Tupperware Challenge”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Fight!

You are probably thinking that I am going to regale you with the many high school adventures I had with food fights.  Firstly you would be incorrect as we never had food fights in my high school cafeteria.  Secondly, I can’t throw straight!  (You can confirm that with my dart-playing partner.)  So, what food fight am I referring to?  Let me gently guide you back to your childhood for this one.  If that part of your life has bad memories then you can easily relate while watching (your) children.  Here we go.

Close your eyes and think back to a time when you were playing with your brother or sister or cousin or neighbourhood kid.  Now, recall when a bag of chips came out.  The bag was cautiously opened by an adult to ensure minimum spillage.  The glorious contents of the bag were then deployed into an awaiting cavernous bowl.  YES!  Junk food!  Chips!  Woo hoo!  You would think this would be an amazing event and all would be happy.  NOT! Why?  Well, if there was a younger (spoiled) sibling it got ruined.  Who got the biggest chip?  Who got the chip with the most flavour toppings on it?  Once you got down to the end of the bowl, how could it be divided evenly?  Does this sound like your family?  Chips were a special food group in our humble abode.  Now, let’s ramp up the crazy and discuss the genius solution that my brother and I came up with in order to ensure equality.

Me:  There aren’t too many chips in this bag.

Bro:  I know.

Me:  Our two cousins are here so we need to make sure we share or we’ll get in trouble.

Bro:  I know!  Let’s crush the chips so there’s more of ’em!

Me:  Great idea!

Well, truth be told, we actually had our cousins help us crunch up the chips into bitty pieces so that there would be more pieces for everyone to share. Genius right?  Perhaps, but eating chip crumbs wasn’t that great.

Now, let’s discuss family meal time.  How about that can of pork and beans!  I loved this canned delight!  Honestly, when I saw that on the dinner table I was mega-excited!  As a child I loved the thickness of the sauce and how tasty it was.  However, there was a glitch…pork.  The can stated there was “pork” and beans in its innards.  How true!  Imagine a family of six.  Two adults and four children.  There was a “pork” inside.  One “pork” in the pork and beans.  Who would be lucky to get the “pork”.  If you have never had the honour of digesting the contents of a can of pork ‘n’ beans, you cannot really understand the need to be the “Chosen One” to get that insignificant little fatty piece of bacon.  You want Food Fight!  Bring it on!  This was where the debate began of who was worthy.  To this day, I view this canned good as a vessel of divisive evil.

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Moving right along we come to the eternal evil: CEREAL!  I do believe that serial killer was hatched from the word CEREAL!  From childhood to grandparenthood I do not find that cereal has good qualities.  I shall explain.

Cereal commercials show the benefits of these boxed glorified sugar bandits.  They contain fibre, vitamins, iron, petroleum, fairy dust and other things we know nothing about.  For some reason, as children, the FUN cereals were the ones that led to the most trouble.  Do you recall “Count Chocula”?  Healthy breakfast?  Heck no!  We wanted it because it would make chocolate milk.  When my mother actually bought a box we children stood there in awe trying to figure out the type of hostage situation we would have to deal with.   There it was.  The box of our imagination.  It was in front of eyes.  Not only did we get our dream cereal but there was a prize inside!  Oops.  There was the catch.  Since we were only permitted about a 1/4 cup of that prized cereal to mix with our Rice Krispies and Honey Comb cereal we had no idea who would be the lucky one to get the prize.  Dissension occurred.  What if Mom picked the youngest child out of pity?  What it the child with the best grades got the prize?  What if it meant being nicest to mom?  What were the rules to getting the prize?  You want insane behaviour?  Find a child surrounded by other children competing for the two-cent prize in a cereal box.  The rules changed.  You were never ready.

The same deal for the Cracker Jack box.  Lovely box with caramel popcorn.  There was a prize inside.  Gadzooks!  If one child got the prize there was always a fight.  Honestly, the prizes were crap, but it was always about who got something more than the other kid.  You solo kids…you missed out on all the drama in life.

 

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The same holds true for marshmallows in hot chocolate.  You had better ensure that each child gets the same amount of marshmallows in that brown frothy goodness.  That is a misstep that parents make and it leads to traumatic psychiatric treatments.

Popsicles?  Same drama.  For some reason that mixed box of popsicles should only contain purple and red.  Why is there an orange flavour for children?  In the olden days only red and purple were of any use.  They were like the gold bullion of frozen sugar water. Orange?  Bleh.

SUMMARY:  Food fights.  Jealous food fisticuffs are all about who got what and why or who was deemed more deserving.  Perhaps the world is better off with real food fights.  Although I have never partaken in such a vigorous display of displeasure, I have seen reels of The Three Stooges throwing cream pies at many an adversary.  What did I learn?  It appears that the evil ones were stymied.  The good, although creamed, being recipients of said sugary confections, appeared to be satisfactory with the results of their actions.  In plain English:  FOOD FIGHT!!!!!   Whip it!  Whip it Good!   (Let’s “LOL” you children of the ’80s)

 

Chef…a culinary experiment

I love to cook.  I love to buy colourful foods (vegetables and fruits) and figure out what to make with them.  I love to research (basically “Google” recipes) and try out new things.  I have now expanded my culinary skills to actually NOT following a recipe.  Does that mean I’m a chef?  Well, that is a definition I actually looked up.  Chef means that you cook meals for people.  Yes I do that!  It mentions something about restaurants too…ok, I don’t have a restaurant, but anyone eating at my home and people I work with think I should open one. Very complimentary, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level.  Anyway, in my mind “chef” has a different meaning.  CHEF – Can Have Experimental Food!  Yes, anyone eating my food is my chosen guinea pig to test new things.  Welcome to my thoughts and dissertations on food.

Food.  I could say it’s a love/hate relationship but I would be lying.  I LOVE FOOD!  I love experimenting with new recipes.  I love prepping it.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  Notice…there is a lot of love here.  The hate part is…I LOVE FOOD!  Let me explain my absolute food weaknesses…McDonald’s french fries.  I swear those are like crack-cocaine to me.  I don’t do drugs, but these hot little sticklettes make me weak in the knees.  After that or almost neck and neck is pizza.  What kind of pizza?   Hmmmm…thin crust, thick crust, tomato sauce style, white garlic/oil style.  Mozzarella or goat cheese.  Pepperoni or roasted eggplant and zucchini with balsamic drizzle.  To add to my super cholesterol heart-stopping food fest…CHICKEN WINGS!!!!  I am a Wing-nut!!  (In many ways…)  Those are my favourite, unhealthy indulgences.  Do I have an unhealthy relationship with food?  Perhaps…but what relationship is perfect?   Am I right?

History lesson:  when cooking as a child with my mother I got to lick the spinny-things from the hand mixer.  I got to mix the tomato sauce for pasta.  I got to eat pizza dough (oops…that was never supposed to be revealed).  My cooking lessons were as follows:

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Sporije!  (translation:  slower!)

Mama:  Ovako.. (translation:  like this…)

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Ovako mjesaj  (translation:  Mix like this)

Mama:  NE TAKO! (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

So…there you have my basic cooking lessons.

Oh wait!  There are two more phrases my mother always used:

Mama:  Na umjerenoj vatri (translation:  bake at 350…she actually had to explain what middle heat meant and then I finally realized it was always 350 degrees)

And last but not least:

Mama:  Otprilike (about or approximately).  Yes most recipes had that included.  Any seasonings you were to use like salt or pepper, you were basically guessing how much was needed.  For a newbie learning how to cook that never helped.

So, when I started sharing my knowledge with others I improved the lessons I had received.  I liked to train by smell.  I also did not use measurements (bad teacher), but I would have the meat in a bowl, and then I would cover the tops of the meat with salt or pepper or paprika.  We would mix the meat and then I would ask my “student” to smell.  Yes…you can actually smell salt and pepper and paprika and you could know if there was too much.  Seriously!  Again, for beginners we would start with a few shakes because you can always start with less and add more but you can’t take away if you have added too much.  There.  That is my greatest cooking advice.

Am I a chef?  Yes, in my mind I totally am.  I cook food for people.  I love cooking!  I am practising baking (not quite perfect yet, but it’s all in the learning).  I have the best kitchen with my Wolf Subzero Stove.   I think that people who have tasted my creations can vouch for me.

To summarize…I LOVE COOKING!  I love filling my house with family (approx 20+ people) and cooking and enjoying their reactions to my recipes.  Nervous?  Absolutely!  I want everyone to love it!  Yes…there goes that “love” word again.  Why?   I truly believe that feeding people with food is nourishing, but I also believe that the love that I put into making my food transmits into internal happiness for those who consume it.  Food isn’t just about livelihood, it’s about sharing and caring.

My newest adventure is with old fashioned European foods (lately Italian), and putting my own educated spin on it.  Check out this lovely plain recipe full of flavoured layers and many “oh my this is good” in between bites!  My latest heartfelt and enjoyable culinary experiment.

RECIPE:

1 half baguette

1 large garlic clove

4 tbsp buratta (I think…approximately)

4 tbsp balsamic drizzle (basically balsamic vinegar and honey boiled down for 30 minutes until thickened…”google” for an actual recipe…otherwise…meh…approximately what you think will work)

THERE!  Authentic European recipe.  MANGIA!  (That’s amore…I mean Italian!)

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Toasted french stick bread, rubbed with fresh garlic. Buratta spread on top and drizzled with homemade balsamic drizzle

 

Cellulite…a love story

I love sharing stories about my life and growth.  In this particular instance, it’s about waist (not waste…as no leftovers were harmed).  I can discuss the long, cold Canadian winters which leads me to over-carbohydrate myself with ravenous amounts of bread:  sliced bread, pita bread, bagels (bread really), English muffins (still bread) and then there are the dunking-into-stew breads like baguettes or French stick or really anything that sops up that lovely stewed liquid.  So, today my topic is about curdled-cottage-cheese thighs, my “over” tummy and how I cope with the gym fever of the world.

I joined a gym once.  It was a long time ago…ahem…super long time ago.  I think there was a T-Rex with a pencil ready to sign me up.  The machines were enormous. There were mirrors everywhere. There was a machine which had me pushing my legs out and focusing my eyes on my hoo-haw.  Why was this good?   After a few months (and a call to the Mafia) I managed to cancel my membership.

Yoga is a two-digit word.  Yes, it is supposed to be about clearing your mind and learning to breathe.  Yoga doesn’t work for me.  I learned to breathe…that is true, but other than that, all it did was lead me to rehearsing (in my head) my grocery list of items that needed to be done.  Yoga was not for me.

Racquetball.  I love playing racquetball!  It’s my favourite sport!  I started playing in University with a friend (for an hour) and have never…ever…played again.  True!  (Note: This is an ongoing joke with me and Wiseguy.)

Cycling!  Yes, I recall my bro and I going for long bike rides around our neighbourhood and beyond.  We were explorers!  We would leave after dinner and wouldn’t be back for at least two hours.  I do recall two bad cycling incidents.  Once was a mosquito in my eye.  Yes, it flew in and I smushed it and I couldn’t see well.  The other was where I was turning around a curve and there were crushed stones.  I wiped out and my elbows and knees were bleeding.  Luckily I was able to walk home and keep up my sniffles in order to be pampered at the finish line.  Milk it baby…milk it.

I belonged to a dance group that met once a week.  We had numerous performances and I was in almost all of the dances.  Yes…I was svelte.  Also I was young.  I could jump and spin and twirl and sing.  I could do almost anything.  (Yes, it rhymes…read it again.)

So, here I am…almost 50 (yes…I’m surviving) and my body has decided that there are renovations needed.  No, I did not get the memo.  No notice.  No meeting.  NOTHING!  My gutsy-trusty body decided to go ahead and pillage me without any notice.  How rude!

Every morning, before I get out of bed, I have learned that I should stretch.  I have been doing this since my early thirties.  Well, lately my stretches sound more like maracas!  One comedienne said it best, “I’m an exotic dancer for the blind.”  I stretch and all of my joints take turns cracking like a bowl of rice cereal.

I have maps of some sort of my legs. There are blue lines which I can only assume are rivers.  Not sure where these rivers are but one day I’ll find them.

Finally there are the bubbles.  Yes, I always find silver linings in everything in life.  My wonderful legs that carry my body everywhere have these pretty little dimples.  Yes…they are everywhere.  These dimples are fantastic FAT deposits.  They are the storage units of my winter solstice and my packing on weight to keep warm in winter.  Yes, I love lying to myself.  I just love food and using hibernation always sounds like a good excuse.  Anyway, I jiggle.  My stomach, by butt, I even have jiggle arms.  Here is my crazy thought.  Follow me on this.  Once I get diagnosed with an incredibly bad illness I will have my 20 lbs of extra fat (like camels not needing water) to help me through any horrible surgery and recovery.  Skinny people have nothing to fall back on.  My excess will assist me in survival and then I will once again be slim and healthy after my horrible crisis. Crazy?  Nah!  I just think ahead.

I am “cuddly”.  My granddaughter came up and poked me in my belly. Oh yes! Wait for it… “Big belly”, she said.   Yup, that is what this almost 6-year old said.  Was she right?  Oh yes…absolutely.  Was I offended?  In my younger days I would have been, but I have accepted my body.  I would like to be thinner, but I am also happy with myself and my life.  I don’t want to diet.  I don’t want to give up foods I love.  I consider myself a chef of sorts.  I have the greatest kitchen in the world and I LOVE TO COOK!  My other favourite motto is “never trust a skinny chef”.

Flashback to my “big belly”.  I looked at Kennie and asked, “Baba has big belly which means I am soft and cuddly and I can give you amazing hugs so big bellies are good right?”  She thought for a bit.  Really, really thought about it and then looked at me, nodded and said, “Yup, it’s good.” Then she moved in for the soft, cuddly, Baba hug.

Cellulite and cuddles…a love story.

 

 

 

 

 

With Love, From Your Future Conscience

‘Tis the season.  The season for weddings.  I have a lovely collection of invitations at home for upcoming weddings this year.  Some are taking place close to home, while others are at least a 6 hour drive away.  All of them are family weddings.  Coming from a large family means that I shall be receiving invitations for a long time to come.  Initially it was cousins’ weddings and now their kids are getting married.  The celebrations continue.  Family get-togethers abound and and there is always the “OMG I haven’t seen you in forever” which, by the end of the night leads up to, “we MUST stay in touch” phrase.  Indubitably, this does not occur, but the desire for it is honest and true.  All this brings me to ponder wedding celebrations and what brides (and/or grooms) consider to be most important.

Wiseguy and I had an interesting wedding.  It began with the intimate proposal.  It was so passionate.  We were in the kitchen of our apartment and Wiseguy looked at me and said, “Wanna get married?”  My equally romantic reply, “OK.”  (See, we are huge romantics aren’t we?)  Wiseguy picked the date of the wedding.  “How about April 1st?”  LOL!  (April Fool’s Day!)   That would’ve been awesome!  So true to our personalities.  But then he changed his mind.  He pondered and asked, “how about Valentine’s Day?”  Now that was sweet.  Then he continued his thought:  “That way I won’t forget our anniversary and you won’t have to kill me.”  I love that man.

We had just over a month to plan our “perfect” wedding.  It wasn’t going to be elaborate.  In our eyes, the most important thing to us was that the kids were part of our wedding day.  Wiseguy actually thought it would be even better if we asked them for their approval before proceeding with any plans.  They agreed that our getting married was a fine idea.  We were initally just going to hop a plane to Vegas, but not having the kids be part of it was not what we wanted.  Family was always very important to us.

I had a wedding gown that had been given to me when my SIL was closing up her wedding gown consignment business.  Brand new gown and only 5 years old.  Still not too old to be in style.  We got Wiseguy into a cool tux with a funky purple, pink vest.  (The Princess still remembers the special, pretty dress we bought her for the occasion.) We got married at high noon (shot gun wedding right?) at city hall.  Our reception venue…a little odd.  I had a friend who was vegetarian and at the time I had no idea what venue would be best, foodwise, so that everyone’s pallets would be happy.  Then I had a brilliant idea!  I reserved a section at a well known restaurant.  The Mandarin…Chinese buffet.  Yup, I wandered around the buffet line in my beautiful gown.  Did I care?  Nope…I was having the time of my life because I was there with my new husband.  It was great!  Just some family and friends and some great laughs. We had our picture taken by one of the wait staff.  It was given to us in a “Happy Birthday” frame.  Neat right? Memorable?  Absolutely.  (I still have that polaroid picture and the frame it came in.)

If I was to do it over again would I change anything?  Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t.  Definitely not your typical style proposal nor wedding, but for me, it was perfect. I have been to extravagant weddings in halls with huge chandeliers and a harpist playing as you entered.  The food was gourmet and there was French service for the dinner.  There was a 5 piece band playing.  I have been to weddings in less extravagant halls.  All decorated by the bride and her crew of bridesmaids and ushers.  The food was delivered on platters and you served yourself.  There was no band, but there was a dj providing the entertainment.  I have been to many a wedding and many a different venue.  What was the most important part to me about each wedding?  I enjoyed myself the most when the bride and groom were enjoying themselves. 

Here is a small note I would like to dedicate to future brides and grooms: 

Dear brides and grooms.  Your wedding day is special.  Brides, you will feel like a princess because the man you love is there beside you, waiting to become your husband.  As long as your family and friends are with you, you will feel the love and happiness that they are sharing with you that day.  You have your bridesmaids and ushers there to help you out and make the day a wonderful occasion for you.  Use them.  They are a vital part of making your day fantastic.  The most important thing about your wedding day is to love every minute of it.  Enjoy your day.  Laugh a lot.  If anything goes wrong…laugh it off.  It will make for great stories later.  Your wedding day is a one-day spectacular and special event.  Make it a memorable one.  Love…your future conscience.  XOXO

If you were on a desert island…

Have you ever played this game?  I remember sitting around with friends and we could go on for hours with this one.  It’s a simple game and you can play it with anyone and it really does tell you a lot about the other person or people.

Here is how you play.  You start off with this question:

If you were on a desert island, what CD would you listen to?  Yes, you only get to pick one CD.  Interesting question isn’t it?  It brings you to pondering what person or band you would or could actually listen to more than once.  Some people answer right away.  Others, well, they would like to know if it can be a soundtrack or just one band.  Can it be a “best of”?  Can it be a box set?  Mind you, we played this game before the world of MP3s so it really was quite a quandry to decide what you would pick to listen to all the time.  What CD would you choose?

Next, what food would you eat?  We would allow up to three foods and of course you get into the silly world of, “yeah, a private jet drops this off to you on a weekly basis and you have a stove and microwave that work and they are solar powered so you can heat everything if you want.”  I know, silly right?  Why wouldn’t the jet just take you off the island?  Duh.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, what food do you like?  And no, you won’t gain a pound no matter what you eat.

From there we would continue to clothing and shoes and books and movies.  See how much fun it can be?

Ok, maybe it was just fun for us because it killed time, but like I said, it really did bring us closer to our friends and their thoughts on things and how they felt about things.

Give it a try one day.  You will be fascinated by what you learn about your friends and family.

(In case you were wondering…..soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat / pizza, french fries with gravy, ice cream / men’s dress shirt / crocs (yes, I like them!) / The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub / The Princess Bride (which includes my favourite line:  “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die!”   haha!  classic!)