Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Get Smart with Me!

There are all kinds of smart. 
Smarty Pants:  A know it all, quick of tongue
Smart Alec: a mocker, makes fun at others' expense
Smart Mouth: someone who talks back, disrespectful
Smarty Farty:  Really is smart... but knows it and annoys
Street Smart: knows how things/people/situations work through experience and intuition

What is smart in our society? I can't tell anymore! Used to be a B average or better was smart. 
Now you can be an A student, but technically you're still not as smart as the AP student who gets an A and extra grade points. Now that's smart. The new Core Curriculum is trying to focus almost solely on Math, Science, and Technology. When we compare ourselves to other nations, these seem to be the academic areas we focus on. Granted, these areas are the source of industrial development, medical discovery and technological advances as well as complicated weapons and warfare subjects I don't even want to think about, but who will bring the beauty? Where will our writers and poets and artists and musicians come from?Will we lose our thinkers, our pastors, our dreamers?  If we practice educational tunnel vision, who's genius do we lose in the process? 

Albert Einstein, who is acknowledged world wide as a genius, was not in AP classes. Quite the contrary, 
He skipped class, and was known as a daydreamer and a goof off. His father passed away while Einstein was in his 20's believing he was a disgrace to their family. Can you imagine?

Thomas Edison is known for a quote about genius being "99% perspiration and 1% education."
He invented the light bulb: the universal symbol of ideas for heaven's sake!

Abner Doubleday is given the incredible distinction of having discovered the game of baseball. 
Think about it. He was an average student, with an average drive. What an immense impact he had on our culture! 

Abraham Lincoln is touted as the "smartest president ever." He had extremely little formal education, taught himself the law well enough to pass the Bar exam, and lead our country with honesty and integrity. 

I am guessing every one of these people had a little "smarty pants" and "street smart" to them. Smart comes in all shapes and sizes, all ages and colors, all backgrounds and experiences. Because we struggle with attention issues in our family, I have many times felt like shaking teachers, or coaches, etc. and yelling, he/she is really smart! These kids are creative and intelligent, clever and funny. They are caring and intuitive and capable! It just so happens that they don't listen too well, and they are disorganized and scattered, do not do well on standardized tests: often square pegs for the round holes we call our education system. I pray their smarty pants, street smart ways will help them like it helped Einstein and Lincoln. There has to be room in our world for Einsteins and Edisons and Van Goghs and Emily Dickinsons so we can enjoy not only the technical capabilities,but the beauty of the human mind. Make room for the dreamers and the thinkers and for my kids and your kids who may be square pegs that will change the world!!

* you can't have smart without "art"

Easy Easy Irish Soda Bread

Here is an easy recipe for yummy Irish Soda Bread. Eat it with butter and a little jam, or with a stew or corned beef!!

1 1/3 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar                        * add a fruit...raisins, golden raisins, currants, dried cranberries
2 T. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
4 T. cold butter diced.

Sift dry ingredients together, and incorporate butter with a fork.
Slowly pour in buttermilk and mix gently until dough holds together.
Fold in fruit

Turn out on floured board and shape into a circle, patting flour all around the loaf.
Score the top with a 1 inch deep X
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

This recipe is delicious with savory or sweet and especially with a nice cup of tea.
* Makes an easy and wonderful gift too!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

St. Pattie's Jello Surprise

Did you know the 99 Cent store has LOTS of pressed glass that is perfect for Jello Creations, and you don't have risk your fine crystal? Jello in a fancy glass is magical for kids and adults alike. 

Mix 1 large instant Lime Jello, add 1 cup boiling water (dissolve the Jello in that first), and 2 1/2 cups of 7up or lemon lime soda. Fill fancy cups 1/2 full of plain Jello and chill. Mix the reserve Jello with 2 scoops of lime sherbet and chill in a bowl. When the cups are set, spoon the Jello, Sherbet mixture on top and continue to chill. (4 hours total) Top with Whipped Cream and a cherry or a few sprinkles. Yummerooo. 

Quirky Kitchen

I love to cook. I like collecting old church and women's club recipe books with the tried and true recipes people actually made for their family and friends. I like to try new recipes and even make up some of my own! 

Probably my greatest gift in the kitchen is being resourceful. I can make something out of almost nothing. Or... I can make a few somethings out of the same thing! Confused? Check out my resourceful ideas for boneless chuck roast. (pot roast)

So... OK... We start with pot roast, which is basically a chuck, rump, or shoulder roast cooked in the crock pot or pressure cooker or on the stove. 
I usually begin any roast by cooking down some onions, and carrots in a little olive oil so they carmelize a little first. You can't really get that "browned"flavor if you just throw all ingredients into liquid.  I like to brown my roast on all sides as well before I put it into the long cooking pan it will be in. 

The following veggies are nice with pot roast: onions, pearl onions, carrots, celery, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes. 

Season your roast well. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and I like a little paprika too. Once it is browned on all sides in olive oil, transfer it to the crock pot, pressure cooker, or dutch oven on the stove. 

To make the liquid your roast will cook in, you have choices. 
*For a tomato base, add one small can tomato sauce, and three sauce cans of water. 
*For a savory base, add 1 large can beef broth, a beef boullion cube crumbled into a cup of water, and an herb like parsley, or thyme. 
*For an Asian base, add 1 can chicken broth, 2 T. Soy Sauce, 1 T. brown Sugar and a touch of sesame oil. This recipe is great over rice. 
*For a Beefy Base, add one large can of beef broth, and a cup of water with a packet of brown gravy mix dissolved in it. 
*For an onion base, dissolve 3/4 of a packet of onion soup mix into a cup of water and pour over meat. Surround meat with veggies and pour a can of beef broth in. Sprinkle the last third of the onion soup mix over the top . 

**BBQ Beef is easy too. Brown your roast on all sides and transfer to long cooking pot. Pour 1/2 cup of water, and 1 cup of BBQ sauce into the pot. 
Cook as you would just the roast. Tear meat when tender and serve on warmed buns. Deeelish. 

**Beef Stew is really good with Chuck Roast pieces you cut yourself. Add like sized pieces of carrot, celery, potato, onion, brown gravy mix dissolved in water, and a dash of worcestershire. Yumaroo!

**Teriyaki Beef. Slice roast thinly before cooking. Add directly to the pot with a touch of sesame oil, thinly sliced onion, carrot, green pepper, and pineapple if you like. Pour in juice from large can of cubed pineapple, 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce, some black pepper, and a dash of soy sauce. This too is yummy over white rice, or mixed with angel hair pasta and sesame seeds. 

**Left over Pot Roast!!  Shred beef for tacos or burritos. Cut beef into a dice and make beef and barley soup. Cube the beef into small pieces, cut veggies smaller, add more cubed potatoes and make some beef gravy. Put all of this into a pie shell and you have a wonderful beef pot pie.

More to come later in the week. 
Happy Roasting!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Grandpa Gone

I lost my grandfather better known as Ota,  a couple of weeks ago. He was 91. He lived an extraordinary life fighting in World War II, returning to find his mother as a refugee living on a farm in Austria. Remarkably, in that area, he met my Grandmother, a war widow with two small children. They married, had a son together, and 6 years later left for America on a cargo transport ship over the Atlantic. The trip lasted two rocking, wretching weeks before they landed in New York. With only $500 in his pocket, 3 children, a wife and his own mother, they quickly boarded a train bound for California. Awaiting them was a German host family who had made a similar journey, were now settled and would be their home base until they could get jobs, a car, etc. 

1 month later, my grandparents moved their brood to an apartment. Ten months later they bought their first house. Amazing. Everyone who could work, did work. All those pay checks were combined to help the family prosper. 

My grandfather could be coarse, even grouchy in his ways. He never hugged us as his grandchildren, but mellowed over the years. He was generous and smiley with his great grandkids, and played a positive role in our family which at its most numbered 26. He adored my 93 year old grandmother and cared for her up until a week before he passed from cancer. 
He drove, shopped, even played tennis until 90. A priest came to the house a few days before his death and gave him the sacrament of the sick and prayed with family members. My sister and I, who are strong Christian, prayed steadily for his salvation too. I imagine him in heaven now with a sweet soul and free from pain and worry. 

His memorial service was simple, but nice; a good turnout, considering the age of the deceased. Some came toddling slower than others, but not one had a wheelchair or a walker which amazed me. This generation that had seen war and poverty and earned their "American Dream" with blood sweat and tears were all walking and talking and eating and smiling. They are survivors. They are people who have seen it all. They came to send off one of their own. 

I hope my children took in even a tiny hint of what my grandfather achieved, the many discoveries and changes he had witnessed in his life, and also how he died, at home, surrounded by family in peace. When I think about all I want to achieve yet before I die, I too will try to keep in mind that which is most important: Salvation, Family, and Peace. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Quick Lovies this Valentines Day!

Leave a sweetheart candy in someone's pocket
Put a love note in someone's lunch. 
Have kids decorate post its and put them in 
Dad's car for him to find. 
Make a handmade Valentine for your child. 
Play love songs. 
Eat red foods. 
Call Grandma
Say I Love You in Different Languages:
German: Ich Liebe Dich
Spanish: Te quiero
Smurf:  I smurf you

Valentine Hidden Riddle

Use heart shaped paper cut outs to write clues. Hide the hearts around the house and have the kids guess the Valentine treat in store for them. 

Making heart cookies: Bake, Mix, Cut out, Sprinkles, Flour, 
Sugar, oven. 

Strawberry Ice Cream Floats: 7up, ice cream, cups, straws, cold, fizzy.

Valentine Fruit Salad: Strawberries, apples, bananas, melon
                                                      *If you like, cut the fruits into little hearts with a small heart                                                          cookie cutter. This salad is also really good with a cup of                                                                  yogurt or cool whip to coat fruits. Yummy!

                                                        Make Valentines: paper, lace, scissors, glue stick, stickers,                                                             etc.