The Last Minute

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Easter weekend is winding down and so am I.

I’m happy to report that things improved greatly since I posted that Good Friday picture from the freezing depths of wintry hell.  Yesterday and today were both warm enough to sit outside in the afternoon sun.  We still have the remains of our snow mountain in the backyard because W likes to blow all the driveway snow into the same place and it gets hard packed and icy and stubborn about disappearing.

My annual battle with Turbo Tax has been fought and won at last, taking up the better part of Saturday.  What a strange expression.  As if answering all those questions was the best part of my day.   Every year I vow to get that job out of the way early and every year I don’t.  Although I guess you could call this sort of early since we were given an extension to the 5th of May, and look at me, all done almost two weeks ahead of the deadline.

Our Easter Sunday dinner this year was beautiful in its simplicity.  I made my famous roasted chicken breasts covered in BBQ sauce and crispy bacon strips and melted cheese with roasted potatoes and carrots on the side.  We really need to think up a shorter name for that.  But the best part was my daughters quinoa salad.

Its kind of amazing how I’ve lived this long and heard so much about quinoa and until yesterday had never actually eaten it.  So I’m certainly no expert when it comes to quinoa recipes, but I think hers is an excellent one.  Cooked and cooled quinoa mixed with red, yellow and green peppers, tomato, cucumber, cilantro, feta cheese, red onion if you have it (we didn’t) and tossed in an olive oil and vinegar dressing.   Season to taste.  I believe some epicure spices made their way into the vinaigrette.  Add anything else your little wine drenched brain comes up with.  I think I’ve named everything that was in this particular batch.  It was delicious.

Today I picked up my Euros from the bank, wandered around in a drug store for a bit and then went to Staples for printer ink and paper.  And suddenly the day is gone.  Why don’t days at work go winging by like this one?

Anyway, if that was Easter, we’ve had it.  I love my daughter, and her daughter, and all daughters everywhere.  Sons too, even when they’re far away with their own sons and daughters.  I could have just said family for all that,  but my head is still in tax mode spewing out endless details that may or may not be relevant in the grand scheme of things.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was awesome.  If you don’t, I hope you had a delightfully springlike weekend wherever you are.

Now I’m going to curl up on my couch with a good book and use up the last minutes of my Monday putting off all the things that I’ve decided I can leave until some other distant future productive last minute.   Because really, life is full of them.

Boiled Eggs and Lettuce and Other Weird Information

I’ve seriously over-dosed on lettuce today!  Is that possible?  Does ones face turn green when that happens?  I’m afraid to look in a mirror.

There was extra spinach in my smoothie this morning because it’s on the verge of wilting and I wanted to get rid of it.  Then I used up all the already washed lettuce in the fridge, packing it into a lunch container with a few other salad type things and ate that at work this afternoon.

And when I came home from work, there was a caesar salad ready to be tossed and eaten, so guess what happened with that.  W has been making meals, and I am not going to discourage him.  I think I might try to get him to lighten up a little on the cocktails and wine though.  He already has drinks poured before I’m in the door, and while I certainly do appreciate it, and drink them down to avoid hurting his feelings, I think there’s a few too many calories involved in this practice.

There has been some serious discussion in our family about making a pilgrimage to Greece sometime next year, and riding up a mountain on a donkey.  If the donkey part of it is going to happen for me, I think shedding a few pounds is definitely necessary.  I would hate for my donkey to be the only one that doesn’t complete the journey.

So, less wine, more lettuce.  Some lovely Grecian donkey is going to thank me for this one fine day.

Also, on a completely different brain fart, FRESH EGGS WHEN THEY’RE BOILED ARE HARDER TO PEEL THAN EGGS THAT HAVE BEEN IN THE FRIDGE FOR A WEEK OR SO.  I looked this up, and my friend Laura is right.  Even though she did not grow up on a farm she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to egg boiling and peeling, unlike the person who tried to convince her the egg peeling thing was the other way around and that fresh eggs are more easily peeled.  Really.  Even someone like me who doesn’t care one way or the other knows that you don’t boil fresh eggs, you boil the old ones you’ve had hanging around in the fridge for so long you’re afraid they’ll go bad if you don’t do something with them very soon.

And once they’re boiled and peeled (try doing it under cold running water – that works for me) and mashed up with mayo into egg salad, you can make a sandwich and use up a bunch of old LETTUCE.

Sorry for all the shouting, but some things just beg to be emphasized.

Ooookay, this lettuce and alcohol diet could be the next big craze.  I’d get into anti-oxidants and electrons and free radicals and maybe even superoxide dismutase, catalase and peroxiredoxins, but I’m sorry I’ve had entirely too much wine and can’t even pronounce that shit right now.

W is loading the dishwasher and putting the leftover lettuce and wine in the fridge for tomorrow.  I feel like I’ve lost about five pounds just sitting here writing about it.

If It’s Too Healthy, I Can Fix That

A salad platter.

A salad platter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I try to watch what I eat.  I read labels for sugar and salt and chemical content.  I rarely buy things that have the nutritional value of cardboard, even though they probably taste amazing.  I try to get enough protein.  And anti-oxidants and vitamin C and calcium and all those other healthy things that are supposed to keep you alive and kicking.

On days that I work I take a salad with me for lunch.  This started several months ago, and frankly no one is more surprised than me that I’ve kept it up for so long. Some days I’m more creative than others.  It depends on how much chopping time I’ve allowed myself and what kinds of things are in my crisper.  I’ve become really tired of peppers so I’ve taken a break from them, but celery, carrots, red cabbage, spinach, romaine, green onions, tomatoes – all these things have become staples.  I add chopped hard-cooked eggs, tuna, ham, crumbled bacon, leftover meat or cheese.  Then there’s all the salad dressings and salad toppings and nuts and seeds to choose from, and voila – it rarely gets boring.

However, as with any healthy food choice regimen, it’s pretty easy to stray off the straight and narrow, a bit at a time until you’re deluding yourself that it’s all good.  Like yesterday, for instance.  In my fridge I’m down to lettuce, carrots, celery and toppings.  (Yes, I need to go shopping.)  I made ranch dressing with Epicure spices, plain greek yogurt and a dollop of mayo.  None of that is bad, but before I ate the salad I threw in half a bag of garlic ginger wonton strips.  When the salad was gone and there was still dressing left over, I used it as a dip for the rest of the strips.  It was just like chips and dip minus the guilt.  Until the entire bag of salad toppings, which should have lasted through several salads, was empty.  And I was full.  Of mostly wontons.

The santa fe tortilla strips don’t even need dip, they’re that good all on their own.  Never mind how I know that.

What got me started on all this was finding a recipe in amongst my piles of papers that need to be sorted, even though I wasn’t sorting at all and merely moving them from one location to another.  It’s a recipe for creamy potato soup which I used to make all the time until I realized it’s full of POTATOES and carbs and starch and butter and flour and other deadly things.  And begs for thick slices of garlic bread on the side.

But just in case there’s anyone out there who would like a shorter life and a hearty soup that’s truly delicious, here’s the recipe. 

In a dutch oven combine 10 medium potatoes, 2 carrots, 4 celery stalks, one onion, (all vegetables chopped),  1 crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper, 3 cups of chicken broth and water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables are tender.

In another pot, melt 3/4 cup butter, add 1 tsp salt, 3/4 cup flour.  Make a smooth paste and bring to a boil.  Add 4 cups milk, stir and cook until smooth, add to soup.  Cook until thickened.

Serve with bacon bits, chopped green onion and shredded cheddar cheese.  (But no wonton or tortilla strips please.  We have to draw the line somewhere.)