Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
STRATEGIES TO AVOID OR SURVIVE AN ABDUCTION
If someone tries to restrain you, remember that your elbow is the strongest part of your body. If your attacker grabs you from behind, don't twist and turn but use your elbow and hit hard.
If a robber asks for your purse or wallet, do not hand it to him. Instead throw it away from you. Chances are he is more interested in it than in you. Throw it and then run in the opposite direction.
If you are ever put in the trunk of a car, kick out the rear tail lights, stick your arm out of the hole you've created and wave like crazy. The driver won't see you but everyone else will.
Women have a tendency to sit in their cars after running errands (checking receipts, lists, etc). Do not do this! Predators watch for these moments to enter the passenger side. As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and leave.
When pumping gas, or going inside to pay, keep your car doors locked. Again this is an opportunity for predators to enter your car.
If someone does get into your car and orders you to drive off, do not drive away. Instead, floor the accelerator and drive into something- a wall, a fence a tree - anything. Your airbag will save you but your abductor, especially if he is in the back seat, wont' fare so well. Get out of the car and run away, making as much commotion as you can. This sounds extreme but you stand a far better chance of survival than if you are taken to a remote location.
In parking garages/lots, always be aware of your surroundings. Look around you. Look in your car, including the back seat. Look in the cars to either side of your car. Beware of large panel vans parked next to your car. Victims are often pulled into vans while attempting to enter their car. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, do not try to get into your car. Instead return to the building/office/store/school and ask for a guard to escort you to your car. Always have your keys out and ready to use. Never stand by your car searching for your keys.
Always take the elevator, never the stairs, especially at night. If your are frightened, ask for an escort.
If a predator has a gun and you are not physically restrained by him, throw your purse, water bottle, whatever you may have in your hands at him and run away. The chances of him hitting a moving target are only 4 in 100. Even then it is unlikely that he will hit a vital organ. Run in a zig zag pattern, yell "gun" and draw attention to yourself. The attacker will be more interested in getting away than following you.
Don't be sympathetic, be smart. It is counterintuitive but predators will play on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. Ted Bundy often feigned a disability and would ask for assistance. This is the same strategy that child abductors use when asking a child to help them find their lost puppy.
We have all instructed our children not to open the front door to strangers but there are other schemes to beware of. The "Crying Baby" scheme was recently profiled on America's Most Wanted. Predators will play a recording of a crying baby outside a door or window which compels a woman to go outside of her home in search of the baby in distress. Do not leave the safety of your home. Stay inside and call 911.
I am troubled and saddened that I need to live this way and teach my granddaughters to live this way. I don't want to live in fear. So I won't. I refuse to be fearful. I will think of this as empowerment. This information will make us stronger. Share this with someone you love and care about so they too will become stronger....and be safer.
Monday, December 10, 2007
My favorite layout involves stacking large books (think phone directories) in varying heights down the table then covering it all with a holiday tablecloth. I've also used a few yards of holday patterned fabric..no sewing required, just press a 1/4 inch hem. If you have your table against a wall, or like my daughter-in-law, have an outlet under the table, plug in a string of mini lights and wind them through the stacks down the length of the table.
Because I like to experiment with my menu, I also like to let my guests know what is being offered. When there is time, I make little placecards for each dish to identify the food. In the interest of saving time (and also in the interest of controlling table clutter) I usually print out a menu that fits in a 5 x 7 frame. I set the frame out by the plates so guests can know what goodies lie ahead.
This year we seem to be having small dinner parties instead of large gatherings. Tonight we are serving Osso Bucco, using lamb rather than veal, in a red pepper sauce I try to reproduce from a great osso bucco served at a local restaurant that won't share the recipe :-( Wednesday we're having Sicilian Calamari, again reproduced from a dish served at a different restaurant. Is there a pattern here? When I move beyond my "little bit of this, little bit of that" method of cooking and can give some measurements, I'll share. So far the food has been great, but, of course, it's a little different each time!
I should dig up my menus from large parties from years past. Until then, this is the menu I suggested for a casual holiday party.
Warm savory tarts with a choice of brie and cranberry filling or chili and cheddar. Just use mini fillo tarts straight from the freezer, fill and heat.
Guacamole with tortilla chips
Ham and biscuits with mustard or
Roast beef on cocktail rye with horseradish sauce
Smoked salmon with cream cheese, red onion, capers, lemon, fresh dill and black pepper. Compose it all on pita rounds and slice into wedges, like pizza.
A cheese platter (avoid those cheese cubes..that's what you serve your kids) and include fresh fruit, a baguette and some honey for drizzling
A selection of pates from your deli can also be a quick solution. Set out with some cocktail bread and pickles.
Bowls of nuts and olives are always a good idea.
Dessert is as simple as Christmas cookies or chocolate truffles. My favorite is bite sized baclava. No need to stress out here..buy them at your favorite bakery. Even Sam's Club has them! Have you tried chocolate covered popcorn? It's available at candy shops or you can easily make a batch yourself by drizzling melted chocolate over freshly popped, unsalted unbuttered popcorn.
But tonight it's nuts and olives to start, greens with blue cheese and pears with a balsamic vinaigrette, ossu bucco with red pepper sauce and gingerbread with vanilla ice cream and caramelized apples. A fun, relaxing evening with family. That's what counts.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
To 2 bottles of red wine add:
6 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
1/8 t each ground ginger and allspice
1/2 c sugar
zest of 1 ornage
juice of 1 orange
Combine all ingredients and warm over low heat. Do not simmer or boil.
Serve in wine glasses
Saturday, November 17, 2007
With the holidays approaching, I always have Athens "Mini Fillo Shells" in the freezer. They don't even need to be baked and are great for appetizers or dessert. They come 15 to a box. Just fill them straight from the freezer. Here are some of the ways I have served them and they are always a hit.
Savory Fillings (hot):
- Chili (Bush's chili in a jar is great to keep on hand) topped with shredded cheddar and chives
- Sauteed mushrooms with garlic and a splash of sherry
- Brie and a dollop of whole cranberry sauce
- A combination of your favorite pizza toppings, for example, mozzarella, pepperoni, peppers and mushrooms
- Ham, pineapple and cheddar
Just remember that everything needs to be cut into pieces small enough to fit into the mini shells. Warm filled shells at 350 degrees until heated through, usually only 8 - 10 minutes.
Savory Fillings (cold):
- Guacamole topped with a dollop of salsa
- Cooked cocktail shrimp topped with seafood sauce
- Smoked salmon topped with sour cream, capers, chives and fresh dill
- Mozzarella cube, 1/2 grape tomato, torn basil and a splash of Italian dressing
- Mix together one 8oz package cream cheese and one 8oz carton sour cream. Keep in the fridge and when unexpected company shows up, put the amount you need into a small bowl, adding one of the following mixtures:
Roasted chopped almonds, dried cranberries, garlic salt and curry powder to taste.
Chopped dry roasted peanuts, thai chili sauce, lime juice and chives
Chopped bacon, blue cheese crumbles, chopped celery and minced sun dried tomatoes.
- La Creme yogurt topped with a fresh berry
- Cool Whip mixed with or topped with lemon curd
- Cool Whip mixed with crushed pineapple
- Instant chocolate pudding spooned over a dollop of peanut butter
- Cool Whip mixed with chopped chocolate and chopped peppermint candy
- Cool Whip mixed with mandarin orange slices and coconut
- Assorted fresh melons, berries, grapes
Again, just make sure you chop pieces into sizes appropriate for the shells. Also make certain that any fruit is well drained. You can see that I am fond of using Cool Whip - it's another great product to keep on hand in your freezer!
I always keep a box or two of the mini shells in my freezer. They never fail to impress and only you need to know how easy it all is!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I hadn't seen my relatives in California since my mother's funeral back in 1994. When I was very young, I spent a week with them every summer. Because it was a week away from home for me, I have vivid memories of the daily events of that time. Stacey (third from the right) was just a baby. I remember her first birthday and Auntie Claire's chocolate chip angel food cake...sooo good. Sharon (second from the right) is a year or so older than I am and Stephanie (far right) a year younger. These are the daughters of my mother's brother.
I remember details like seeing baby Stacey sitting on her little potty every morning while we brushed our teeth and combed our hair. There were chores to do every morning and piano lessons to practice (even on vacation!) And hot cocoa for breakfast! That was a real treat.
Sharon once tried to get me to walk across the rafters in the garage of the new house they were building. She was very persuasive but either she relented in time or I smartened up.
We played endless games of badminton in the back yard. We were playing badminton when Uncle Phil came home and told us that Marilyn Monroe had died.
I had my one and only water skiing experience with them; they instructed me to "just hang on." I guess I took them literally because I fell (naturally) and then swallowed half the lake before letting go!
I remember eating dinner on tv trays in the family room. Barbecued chicken, cottage cheese and pineapple salad. Chopped olive sandwiches for lunch. Lots of pink lemonade.
Our families gathered every year for Thanksgiving. We ate in the kitchen apart from the grown-ups and had a tradition of of searing pieces of turkey over the centerpiece candle flame. This was a clandestine activity, of course! I really don't know if our parents realized what we were up to but I do remember a lot of whispers and giggles coming from that kitchen table!
Grandma Vi always made the sweet potatoes. She called them Sweet Potato Tipsy. Just in case my cousins don't have the recipe, here it is:
6 sweet potatoes (or 2 large cans)
1/3 c butter
3T brown sugar
1/3 c half & half or whole milk
Bake sweet potatoes until done if using fresh. Remove skin, mash & whip, adding butter, sugar, milk and sherry. Turn into a greased casserole and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before reheating.
I still make this every year, often adding a pecan crumble topping. Grandma Vi also made a cranberry molded salad or a lemon/lime pineapple jello salad. I stopped making those salads in the 70's. I wonder if my cousins remember them?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Ghost Meringues, which are basically Forgotten Cookies styled as ghosts.
Whip these up before you go to bed, leave them in the oven overnight and they will be ready for your kids the next day. Great for gluten free diets. Substitute Splenda if you are avoiding sugar.
2 egg whites
3/4 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 350. Beat egg whites until soft peak stage then start adding sugar gradually as you continue to beat. Beat at high speed for 5 minutes then fold in vanilla.
Drop meringue from a tablespoon onto the pan, swirling it to create a ghost shape. Take care not to press too hard and make the cookies thin. They should not get much thinner than 1/2". Place 2 chips for the eyes and 1 for the mouth.
Put into the oven and turn off the heat. Leave overnight or 8 hours. Makes about 18 - 24 cookies depending on the size.
Caramel Apples are a favorite with older kids and they can even help!
This recipe will make 6 small apples.
6 small Granny Smith apples
1 lb bag caramels (freeze for 20 minutes and the wrappers will peel off easily)
2 T water
popsicle or craft sticks
chopped walnuts - optional
Wash, dry and skewer apples with the sticks. You can make a small slit with a paring knife in the blossom end to get it started.
Add caramels and water to a large saudepan over medium-low heat, stirring until melted and smooth.
Line a baking sheet or tray with parchment paper, waxed paper or foil and butter or spray with nonstick spray.
Dip apples into the melted caramel, spooning caramel over the tops, and allow the excess to drip off. If desired, dip into chopped nuts and swirl to coat. Place apples on the lined sheet or tray and allow to set.
This recipe works best if not doubled. Simply repeat the process for another batch of apples.
Dottie's Applesauce Gingerbread A recipe from a friend of my mother. This is real Fall comfort food and it couldn't be easier.
1 28oz jar applesauce
1 box gingerbread mix
1/2 c water
whipped cream or ice cream
chopped nuts, optional
Bring the applesauce to a boil in a 3 quart saucepan that has a lid.
Mix the gingerbread mix and water (it will be quite stiff) and drop by large spoonsful into the applesauce.
Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 22 minutes. NO PEEKING!
Serve warm with whipped cream and nuts or vanilla ice cream.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I am a WAHG. A Work At Home Grandma.
And I am feeling quite isolated. I have been, at one time or another, a Stay At Home Mom, a Work At Home Mom as well as a Still At Work Mom. There are lots of sites and blogs by, for and about these Moms. I have read literally hundreds of blogs by SAHMs, WAHMs and SAWMs and am truly impressed by their creative expression and amazing achievements both as women and as moms. Their lives are overflowing and yet they still find the time to post to Tackle it Tuesdays, Wordless Wednesdays and Throwback Thursdays as well as maintaining their own blogs and websites.
But where are the mature Moms and/or the young Grandmas who are still involved with balancing family and working lives? Where are their websites and blogs? Google "blogs by grandmas" and you find sites by or about grannies in their 80's, their quilts, recipes, knitting, pearls of wisdom, or illnesses.
Have we made such a distinction between young moms and older moms that we have created a schism between the two?
Perhaps the young moms have yet to appreciate that once you are a mother, you are always a mother. Even though my baby is twenty-eight year old, I don't stop being his mother. Naturally, my tactics change, my involvement changes and my usefulness changes. But that doesn't stop me from worrying about him or offering my help from time to time. And because he is also a wise son, he asks for my input from time to time as well. I am pleased when my children ask for my opinion, amused when they discover something about parenthood and proud as they grow into productive, loving and generous individuals and parents.
My point is that Moms are tuned into caring for their children from day one and that doesn't stop when the kids leave home. I may be older now but I'm still a mom at heart. And when you stop to consider that there are women becoming moms in their 50's, there has to be room in the Motherhood for us all. While fashion, medicine and technology change, our experience as a mom, whether working away from home or at home, is universal and timeless.
Think about what we share:
pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, weaning
exhaustion, worrying over a fussy baby, caring for a sick child
that first smile, separation, day of school
finding the time/space/energy/money/inspiration/keys/shoe/answer
managing the household/shopping/schedule/clutter/appointments
learning how to nurture/feed/teach/inspire/discipline/console/encourage
finding time for ourselves
I don't profess to have wisdom or even all the answers. Give me another 20 years so! But I am a valuable resource! Let's hear it for all the boomer moms and grandmas, at home and in the work force! Go SAWGs and WAHGs!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
I need to make lists.
I am addicted to making lists.
I make lists for just about everything. My mother was a list maker. My father became a list maker and so did my brother. I hadn't realized there was a gene for lists but I think there might be. I'll have to check with my sons to see if they share this trait.
As soon as an event gets space on the calendar, a list is born. The farther into the future it is, the greater the number of lists that can be generated. My thinking is that the process of writing a list frees up valuable space in my brain for more important, creative endeavors. And, once the details are committed to paper, I no longer need to fret over what I might possibly forget. Of course, that gives rise to the fear that I will lose the list...which I do...all the time. Either lose it or leave it behind (and this after putting it in plain sight, right where I couldn't possibly forget it). You can imagine my moments of panic when a list cannot be found and I must rely on my so called memory. So I keep churning out lists.
Just in case you think I am joking about the role of lists in my life, I have prepared a list of my current lists, works in progress if you like:
To Do list for week ending Oct 12th
To Do list for week ending Oct 19th
Menu ideas for weekend dinner with A & R
Fall clean-up list
Packing list for trip to CA
List of reach numbers and instructions for family while we are gone
To Do list for A's company
Thanksgiving Dinner list
Holiday party themes for One Mom and a Party
Holiday menus for One Mom and a Party
Birthday gift list for Nov and Dec birthdays
Christmas gift list
Winter packing list for SC
To Do list for website www.onemomandaparty.com
Now either this makes me very organized or a control freak. Either way, I am now comforted that I have stared down chaos and restored a semblance of order to my life. Not to mention all that extra space in my brain.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Since we are a major investor in the sheep farm, the flock master gifts us with all the lamb we want. Now understand, this means the entire lamb....not just a rack or a leg or some chops. We are all familiar with those cuts. The lamb shanks are not a problem either, think lamb osso bucco. The shoulder chops were just a bit on the tough side so when it came time to tackle a shoulder roast, I decided that a shoulder deconstructed was the way to go. After separating all the bits of meat from the gristle and sinew, I marinated them overnight in evoo, garlic, lemon juice and mint. Next day I threaded the little morsels onto skewers and grilled them with peppers, mushrooms,onions and potatoes.
I tell this story because last night we used up the last of the lamb "hamburger" or so it was labeled. I think "lamburger" is a more appropriate name. And on the lamburgers I used the last of the mint sauce I had made for the skewered lamb. In fact, the lamburgers were so good I would even consider entering the recipe in a "hamburger" contest. I just need to tweak a few things. Like how to make the burger so it doesn't fall apart and how to size the burger so it fits into the human mouth.
While I do believe that the best burger is one that drips and oozes and ultimately falls apart while you are eating it, I take issue with the BIG burger that doesn't fit into your mouth even for that first bite. Unfortunately, after the ciabatta bread, the tapenade (recipe follows), the feta, the onions, the tomato, the lettuce and the lamburger, taking that first bite was a challenge. Complicating the matter was the fact that the burger itself was falling apart. Now lamburger is not what I would call lean so I simply mixed it with garlic powder, salt & pepper, some of my homemade mint sauce (recipe follows) and some ketchup. They barely made it off the grill in one piece and eating the completed lamburger was beyond our abilities. So we ate the lamb with a fork accompanied with the remaining bread and toppings in hand. Delicious! Just not a dish that would win over a judge until I can figure out how to get it from plate to mouth!
TAPENADE I made this as an appetizer last week and had some leftover for the burgers.
1 c pitted kalamata olives
1 c pitted domestic black olives
3 T grated romano cheese
1 T pureed garlic
1 t fresh basil, minced
1/2 c evoo
In a food processor chop olives until finely chopped. Combine with remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Makes 2 cups. Serve with bread, crackers. Good on lamburgers.
MINT SAUCE Made this up to go with the skewered lamb. Used the leftovers mixed into the lamburgers and also spooned on top of the cooked burger. Soooo good!
1/4 c water
1/4 c finely chopped mint
1/2 c fig balsamic vinegar (or malt vinegar)
Combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in mint and vinegar. You may increase the sugar if desired.