Category Archives: Cooking

Support Salad Diversity this 4th of July!

IMG_1959Happy Fourth of July!!!!

Too Hot Mamas are spending the day together at Carolyn’s place with our families and friends.  There will be laughter.  There will be fireworks.  There will be FOOD.

As I avoid animal products 90% of the time (with a carnivorous husband and child, I have learned to flex that other 10%), I will be feasting on a vegan salad with vegan dressing.  My contribution to tonight’s buffet of delights, however, will be my family’s favorite salad with HOT TURKEY BACON AND BASIL DRESSING.

This dressing is low-fat and so dang good that my ten-year-old will eat any vegetable I soak in it.  That she will even sit down long enough to eat is a testimony to the wonderfulness of this recipe.  The dressing is from a homey little cookbook entitled Honest To Goodness Country Cooking by Arletta Lovejoy–who, not incidentally, won a National Chicken Cooking Contest in 1970 (note to Carolyn: I wonder if she ever entered the Pillsbury Bakeoff?).  I am reprinting her recipe here without permission, which probably isn’t legal, but that’s how much I love you people.

(Another Note: I just Googled the book. It’s available used on Amazon for 49.95.  If I can sell my copy for that much, I’ll make more than Carolyn and I are going to earn for the e-book we just spent six months writing, but I digress….)

Without further ado–and in the hope that someone named Lovejoy will not sue me–I offer for your picnic pleasure:

Hot Turkey Bacon and Basil Dressing

10 strips bacon (Arletta uses the real thing, God bless her; I use turkey bacon without nitrites.  Toss a little olive or coconut oil in the pan to get it crisp.) Fried crisp and cut into small pieces.

1 1/2 C granulated sugar

1 T cornstarch (Arrowroot is better.  Sorry, Arletta.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp mustard

2 T minced fresh basil (Arletta says 1 tsp.  Trust me, use 2 T. )

1 1/4 C water

1/2 C apple cider vinegar

Combine sugar, arrowroot, salt, mustard and basil.  Add water and vinegar.  Pour over bacon in the same pan you used to fry the bacon.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the dressing thickens.

My family–and every kid I’ve ever met– likes this best over a combo of spinach and “regular” (e.g. iceberg) salad.  Yummy with sliced baby portabella mushrooms, red pepper, crispy cucumbers, skinny-sliced red onion rings and sliced hard-boiled eggs.  I assemble the salad, drizzle a little ranch dressing across the top then douse with the bacon dressing.

If you serve this with challah bread, you will be loved and revered forever.

HAVE A HEALTHY, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!!!

Wendy

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Are you married to this man?

Needs more wood, eh?

“Do you really think we should put more wood on the fire pit?” I asked my hubby as he prepared our patio for s’mores with the kids.

“Sure!”

“But the sparks…look.  They are really flying out of the fire and I just bought a new canopy for this gazebo.”

“The sparks are burning out before they get that high.”

“Yeah, but every time you poke the wood, they get bigger and hotter. Look at that one up there, clinging to the new canvas!”

“It’ll burn out.”  Poke, poke, stir, poke.

Me, white knuckled.  “The smoke is really strong.”

Him, “Smoke follows beauty, har, har.”

Me, “Hack, acchooie, honk, kersnort, I think, the, hack, cough, canopy is on fire.”

“Dad, my marshmallow just disintegrated!”

“Get a new one.”

“Dad, the chocolate is liquid and the crackers are black.”

“Well, move back a little bit.”

“Ow!  Dad, the sparks are burning me and the dog just fainted from the heat.”

“He’s just resting.”

“Honey, seriously, stop poking at the flames, and really?  More wood?  The paint on the house is blistering.”

“No it’s not!  You  all just need to chill out.”

The kid and dog headed to the pool.  I went inside.  He headed to the wood pile for more fuel.

Carolyn

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Filed under Anxiety, Cooking, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

BRISKET TIME WITH CAROLYN

As it’s Tuesday, it is Coffee Time With Carolyn, but Carolyn is in Hawaii, turning golden brown, which somehow made me think of brisket.  So, in lieu of Carolyn I give you my mom’s recipe.  Everyone loves it, just like they love Carolyn.

Serve this with kasha varnishkas.  If you’re not Jewish or have otherwise been deprived of kasha varnishkas and brisket gravy up to now, you don’t know what you’re missing.

For a vegan substitute, which does not remind me  of Carolyn, try tempeh or frozen then defrosted extra-firm tofu.  (Freeze the whole block, defrost, squeeze out the extra water, cut into cubes. )  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the gravy for richness. And now…

BRISKET TIME WITH CAROLYN

2 1/2 lbs brisket

2 small-medium onions, chopped.

2 large parsnips, sliced.

4 large carrots, sliced.

4 garlic cloves (more if you love it)

salt to taste (1-2 tsp)

2 bay leaves

3/4  C ketchup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1/2 C beer

2 C of water (or enough so that liquid covers the brisket half-way up)

Preheat oven to 375

Put all ingredients in a heavy pot with a good lid.  Cook for 2 hours.  Check the brisket and add enough water to make liquid come half-way up the brisket again, if necessary.  Replace cover and continue to cook another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until meat is tender.   You can put the brisket, gravy and veggies in the fridge and eat them the next day, because this tastes better and better the longer it sits.

Your brisket will be as brown and gorgeous and will make people as happy as Carolyn.

Wendy

 

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The Food Network at Home

My family and I have become addicted to the Food Network.  Episodes of Sweet Genius and Halloween Wars find my husband and daughter glued to the set.  I simply cannot miss Chopped.

On Friday, I had the following conversation with my daughter as I set her dinner in front of her, or attempted to.

“Mom, serve it to me the way they do on Iron Chef.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tell me about the food when you put the plate down.”

“Ookay.  Well, this is a tortilla—that I got from a package—and I filled it with chili.”

“What’s in the chili?”

“Ground turkey, beans, tomatoes and a rich assortment of seasonings…I’d have to check the can to be sure.”

“What else?”

Seriously?  Generally if food is not televised, the child can hardly be bothered with it.

“Well, thinking the chili might be too highly seasoned for a young palate—“ I started getting into it, encouraged by her nodding  “—I added a dollop of sour cream to tone it down and stirred in a sprinkle of grated cheddar.  I warmed the mixture to blend all the flavors and then stuffed the tortilla.  On the side you will find small red chili beans, again mildly spiced for your pleasure, and brown rice with olive oil and salsa.  Please enjoy.”

I bowed.

“Thank you.”  But instead of digging in, she folded her hands on her lap and studied the plate.  “What I see is that you have a lot of brown on this plate.  It would have been better to use more color.  Red or green or orange.  A vegetable, perhaps?”

Get real!  When was the last time the child ate “a vegetable perhaps” without threat of losing Moshi Monster privileges for a week?

“And,” she continued, delicately tasting a corner of her Mexi-melt, “while the taste is quite nice, the presentation will count as fifty percent of your score.”

“Well, I’ll keep that in mind when I present your oatmeal to you tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you, Chef.”

“Thank you, Judge.”

Thank you, Food Network.

Wendy

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I HATE ZUCCHINI

 Did you know that zucchini seeds are magic?   Did you know one plant will produce enough food to feed a third world country?  Did you know your kids probably hate zucchini? Mine do.

 

We made the mistake of planting an entire package of zucchini seeds this summer.  They burst out of the ground like Jack’s beanstalk and each plant produced a zoogillion zucchinis.

 

Now, I have zucchini coming out of my ears.  And other places.  I’m holding a contest at my house called, “most creative use of zucchini”.  Aside from the mundane zucchini casserole and zucchini bread and cake we have; zuk-kabobs, deviled zuk, zukironi and cheese, zuk au gratin, zuk cordon bleu, and zuk under glass.

 

We have grilled it, fried it, mashed it, baked, boiled, broiled, frickken fricasseed it.  We have tried it with a fox, we have tried it in a box, we have tried it here and there, we have tried it everywhere.  We do not like it Sam, I am.

 

We’re sick of it.  I am writing this blog at a table built of zucchini and seated on a zucchini bench.  I sent my youngest son to school in a pair of shoes fashioned from zucchini.  I sent it to my daughter’s class to celebrate her birthday.  What? The kids didn’t enjoy the piñata stuffed with zucchini?  What did they want?  Crook-neck?  Lousy kids.

 

I’m thinking next year, we’re gonna win the Pillsbury Bakeoff with something made from zucchini, Wendy.   Nothin’ says lovin’ like a zucchini in the oven.

 

Carolyn

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Sexy Older Women Have Fun With Food

 Wendy wanted to call Friday’s Segment:  Fun With Food.

I added the Sexy Older Women part, because believe it or not, I just read an article where somebody took the time to research the top words in blog titles that people search and the winner was:  SEXY OLDER WOMAN.

Wow.  So, even if your blog is about say, Home-school Curriculum or Colonoscopy or Boy Scouts,  or Federal Agriculture you should try to work these words into the title.  Mind boggling, huh?

Anyway, Wendy has some awesome ideas about helping people with Menopausal Attention Deficit to make simple and nutritious fare.  But, since I don’t want her to do all the blog work, I’m going to share my thoughts on fun food this Friday.

Eat a box of Wheat Thins.  I’m doing it now.  As I type this blog!  Simple.  Nutritious.  Less than 5 seconds to prepare. If the old adage, “You are what you eat” is true, you will wake up in the morning thin and golden brown.  That’s what I’m going for.  Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Cooking, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Weight gain, Weight Loss, Writing

Trust Me, I’m Lying

One thing you gotta love about Too Hot Mamas:  When we say we’re lying, we mean it.

See the nifty section to the right that claims “Our Blog Schedule”?  Carolyn and I decided to impose some actual order onto this blog when we realized we were getting more readers and also because we’ve been asked to turn our blog into a book proposal.  So, hey, we ought to actually be blogging on a regular basis, right?  It took us five weeks to decide on the schedule you see and two weeks to completely ignore it.

I mean, “Winning Wednesday: Enter our bi-weekly sweepstakes!”??   Come on.  My husband is still waiting for his Christmas and anniversary gifts since 1998.  (And now that I think of it, honey, so am I.  What’s up with that?)

Let’s be honest here:  Sam, you won the very first drawing.  Have you received your free book yet? I thought not.

Rhonda, you scored a giftcard to Starbuck’s.  Check’s in the mail, babe.

We mean well.  Honest.  But we are menopausal and can’t remember crap, and I think that is way more valid than the Twinkie Defense, I don’t care what anyone says.

I am suggesting that you stop wasting your time here and head on over to The Pioneer Woman blog.  That Ree Drummond is amazing.  Four kids, the blog, a TV show, she Tweets, and I’m guessing that whoever won the Le Creuset pot she  gave away in her contest last week has actually received it.   The woman not only cooks, she finds the time to photograph her dinner.  With four kids!  I have a husband and one child (and usually one or more of her ravenous friends) and if I paused to get my camera out, the dinner would look like road kill before I snapped the first shot.

Ree Drummond is a role model.  But not for us Too Hot Mamas.  No, not for us.  If  Pioneer Women is in peri-menopause (never mind the full meal deal) I’ll eat my red hat.   She’s far too together and organized.  She remembers what she was about to say.  Her mood seems stable.  She has great hair.  Now that I think of it, after you visit her awesome, entertaining and cozy website, pop back here for a dose of reality.  We’ll make you feel so much better about yourself.  No, you may never receive anything you win, but at least then you’ll have a reason for those pesky mood swings.  And, really, don’t you enjoy having a place where you can let your hair down…even if it is chin hair?

I thought so.  We’ll see you here tomorrow then, for Food Friday, when we will discuss the removal of pet hair from furniture.

Wendy

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You idiot.

Where's the idiot?

     Do you ever fantasize about what a good time you are going to have on a road trip? I do.

     Oooo! It is going to be SO FUN to cram 9 people into an 8 passenger van and drive for HOURS!  We’ll play the license plate game!  We’ll sing camp songs and make s’mores!  We’ll take pictures!  The kids and the hubby!  And, if that’s not enough, let’s throw grandpa and grandma into the mix! Yep, yep, yep… Big fun.

I should have suspected that we were in trouble when I politely cautioned my husband to remember that my mother (tortoise) does not drive as fast as he does (roadrunner) and to keep her in his rearview because she does not know exactly where we are going.

“Oh.  Like I’m going to go speeding off and leave my mother-in-law in the dust,” he jeers.

You know, like I’m the idiot.  Funny, he didn’t seem as jazzed about this trip as I was.

And so, after five delightful hours in the mini-van, we make it to the magnificent Painted Hills.  It’s a bazillion degrees in the shade, but we gamely get out of the van and hike UP the mountain to the view-point.  I flirted with heat-stroke, but then I love living on the edge.

We took the required pics.  We admired the splendor.  We praised God because we are pious, godly people with thankful hearts.  We headed back to the van.  It was decided that this would be a good time to have Daughter # ONE drive, as she is accruing her 100 hours of permit driving before she gets her license.

She leaps behind the wheel of the van.  Hubby calls shotgun.  The kids all pile in behind her, with the exception of Daughter #2, poor kid.  She and I end up with grandma and grandpa in their car.  The car that has no map.  Because, hey, why should we need a map when we are following the husband who would not leave us?  Forsake us?  Without cell reception.

While they are all buckling up, I open the back of the van to get some water.  Did I mention we were in hell?  While I’m quenching my thirst, Daughter # ONE, in her teenage zeal, doesn’t know (or care) that the hatch is open as she starts the engine and stands on the gas.

I run after them as she tears out of the parking lot.  “THE HATCH IS OPEN!  THE HATCH IS OPEN!”  I’m waving my arms and jumping up
and down.  Several visiting families to the Painted Hills are amused at my antics (but, I must add sourly, don’t help).  Grandma leans on her horn.  Daughter jams on the breaks.  Hubby leaps out, slams the hatch and Daughter # ONE achieves warp speed before I can climb in with Grandma.

“Follow that car!” I shout.  Have I mentioned  Grandma (tortoise) is a cautious driver?  It is not until we arrive at the intersection that I realize the hubby and daughter are gone.  And, THEY.  HAVE. THE.  MAP. AND.  THE. WATER.

What ensues in our car was not pretty.  “Idiot!  Big, fat idiot!  How could I have married such an….idiot!?”  To my way of thinking, my husband—who, if you will remember, I did warn not to abandon Grandma—should be telling the kid to slow down and wait for us.  Grandma nobly reminded me that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes and that I should not be so hard on my husband.  I found this exceedingly annoying.

While we deliberate the route, Daughter # TWO tells us she has to go potty.   Grandma pulls over, lets us out at a rest area near the intersection.  She then speeds off to explore where Daughter # ONE and the IDIOT might have gone.

By the time Daughter # TWO and I are out of the bathroom, Grandma roars up in her car and is on the verge of divorce with Grandpa who is now—brace yourselves—an IDIOT!

Much arguing ensues.  MUCH.  ARGUING.  There were tears.  Recriminations.  Accusations. You’re an idiot!  No! YOU are the idiot!

And still, no Daughter # ONE or hubby.  Tempers continue to soar with the mercury.  There is no sign of the van.  We locate a tree and park under its shade and out of boredom, turn on each other.  Daughter # TWO is looking rather traumatized.  And I think, Wow, this is so freaking MUCH FUN!

And then, I start to laugh.  Super hard, convulsive laughter.  Painful, loud, tears-down-the-face-laughing. Must have been contagious
as everyone else joins in.  My father turns around and says to Daughter # TWO, “Honey, never get married.”

I wipe my eyes and tell her, “Nah, get married.  Just remember.  You’re an idiot.”

Carolyn

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Is it Ever Too Hot to Eat…

Even for a Too Hot Mama?  I think, maybe, it is.  Alas, small mouths want to be fed.  Also, THM said we were going to blog about food about Fridays, and we’re trying to develop a work ethic here.  So…

I’m going to give you my mama’s recipe for Bleu Cheese Biscuits.  They pair beautifully with a salad, and the family thinks they’re getting more than rabbit food for supper.  Enjoy!

Bleu Cheese Biscuits

1/4 C butter

2 T crumbled bleu cheese

1 t lemon juice

1 10 oz package refrigerated biscuits, unless you are motivated enough to make your own.

Combine butter and cheese in a small sauce pan.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until butter and cheese melt.  Add lemon juice and continue to stir until slightly thickened.  Pour this mixture into a 9″ round cake pan.

Cut each biscuit into quarters and place on top of mixture.  bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden. 
If you’re in peri-menopause, you’ll want to double this recipe, because they are very good leftover and very comforting at 3 a.m.

 

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Cooking When You’re MADHD

I love to feed my dog.  LOVE it.  She actually eats what I cook.  Licks her chops afterward.  Licks me.  The dog adores salads, sauteed kale, brown rice and quinoa pilaf.  I think she’s my soul mate.

My husband and daughter?  Not so much.  I know they wish our kitchen window was a drive-up.  This week, DD and her friend were in the front yard, saw me standing at the sink and yelled, “Can we have Big Macs, fries and lemonade?”

“No, but I have something so much better!  I made Hawaiian tofu wraps, sweet potato tater tots and sparkling apple juice.”  I waited for the shouts of joy.

My daughter and her friend looked at each other.

“We’ll wait,” my daughter said.

“For what?”

“Dad.”

I loved my mother’s cooking.  Everyone did.  My husband tells me that my mother was able to make even packaged food taste better than the manufacturer ever dreamed.  So that got me thinking…

I pulled out my mother’s personal cookbook, packed with the recipes of my youth.  In her later years, she began altering her recipes to reflect a simpler cooking style, and I think I know why:  Menopausal ADHD–Attention Deficit Hotflash Dissorder.  I don’t have the attention span to make anything elaborate.  We eat raw half the time, because five minutes after I turn on the flame, I will forget that I was cooking at all and burn the whole meal.   HOWEVER…

Here’s a recipe I believe I can do.  We ate it for breakfast or dinner when I was a kid.  I’m going to give it a whirl.  I know the dog’s going to be ecstatic, and perhaps my two-legged family will look forward to eating at home.  They might even lick me.

BUBBE’S BLINTZ SOUFFLE

12 frozen cheese blintzes (use the tofu kind from Trader Joe’s and non-dairy sour cream for a dairy-free version, but don’t blame Bubbe if it’s not as good as the original recipe)

1 large carton sour cream

4 eggs, well beaten

1 tsp vanilla

Your favorite jam

Place blintzes in casserole so they touch, but are not more than 1 layer deep.  Mix remaining ingredients together–pour over blintzes.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Dab a little jam over the top of each serving and accompany with fresh fruit.

L’Chayim,

Wendy

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, Cooking

Fish tragedy, a three hanky tale

Don’t they look like angels when they sleep?…wait…they ARE angels!

Luckily, my mother does not read this blog so I can add my fish tale to Wendy’s aquarium misery.  Plus, it’s been two years and we’ve managed to recover nicely.

Number One Son really, really, really, really wanted a pet fish.

I said, “But honey, you know you are only ten-years-old and won’t take care of it and the poor little fishy will die of starvation.”

“No way, Mom!!  I’ll feed it and change its water and play with it and everything.”

“If I let you have a fish, you must realize that I don’t want it, and its life will be in your hands, got that?”

After he pledged allegiance to the fish, we went to Wal-mart.  Price of fish?  10 cents.  Price of bowl, rocks, food, fish net, special chemistry set to keep the bowl from rotting, exotic housing units and plastic trees and kelp in unnatural neon colors?  $89.50.

Day one was glorious:  Son diligently set up bowl, named fish Alice, fed Alice 3 squares, checked chemical balance, dragged family and friends in to admire how clever Alice was whenever she swam through neon cave and, before bed that night, told Alice bedtime story.

Day two:  Son invited to sleepover at neighbor’s house.  Forgot Alice existed.

Day five: Alice failing.

Day eight:  Alice, near death, discovered by eldest teenage daughter.  “Mom, I’m going to take over Alice’s health care.  Brother is going to be my
co-owner.”

A shame-faced brother agreed to the arrangement and within days, Alice was her spunky old self.  Daughter taught brother that the best way to clean Alice’s bowl was to transfer Alice to a salad bowl and run her regular stuff through the dishwasher to sterilize it from time to time.

Unfortunately, daughter and son neglected to tell Grandma their bowl cleaning method.  And—because my mother is one of those people who cannot stop cleaning for 5 minutes—when she came over for dinner, Alice was inadvertently tossed into the garbage disposal and whirled into the great beyond as my mother hummed Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

We all stared at each other in horror, as Alice had become a rather cherished member of the family.  However, we also knew that Grandma would never forgive herself and would inundate us with replacement fish for the rest of our lives and so, choked back the tears.  Needless to say, dinner was a tad subdued that night.  Now and then, a family member would pause at the disposal and murmur their respects down the drain.

Wendy, hurry.  Invite my mother over for dinner next time you clean Bluestar’s bowl.  Grandma, without fail, will leap up from the dinner table and begin tackling the dishes.  Rest in peace, Bluestar.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Anxiety, Children, cleaning, Cooking, Cussing, Death, Health, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Pet fish

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…HELP.

I love rain in summer.  The rhythmic tapping on the roof and rain gutters, the glassy droplets bouncing off bright pink rose petals.  The four kids who don’t know what to do in my 1100 square foot house–

AHHHGGGHHHH.  When I said yes to the sleep-over, I was counting on sunshine, the yard, a sprinkler, the banana chocolate chip bread I stayed up till midnight baking last night…and which my husband ate when he came home from work.  How can one thin man eat half a loaf of banana bread?

I was going to deep clean the house today.  Catch up on work.  Bwah-hah-hah-hah.  Obviously God wants me to get to know these kids.  Real well.  In an enclosed space.

Quick!    I need ideas that DO NOT involve the Disney Channel.  (Don’t get me started on Selena Gomez and the pre-sexualization of ‘tween girls.)

I found this on line:

JUST FOR KIDS: PEANUT BUTTER PLAYDOUGH
Read more about it at http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,199,149163-237203,00.html
Content Copyright © 2011 Cooks.com – All rights reserved.
1 c. peanut butter
2/3-1 c. nonfat dry milk
2 tbsp. honey
Mix ingredients. Add enough powdered milk to make playdough dry enough to handle. Shape into balls. Add raisins to make a face. Or stir in chow mein noodles and make a bird’s nest. Or stir in Cheerios or chocolate chips for fun. Eat and enjoy!

Too little-kid for the nine-year-old crowd?  What if I tell them it’s Peanut Butter Clay?  We could study the world’s great sculptors and turn it into a learning experience.   They’d love that.  (NOT.)  I could have them pretend they’re potters and then fill the “pots” with strawberries or chocolate chips or dollar bills.

It was so easy when they were really little and thought finding shiny wet rocks was as exciting as a trip to The Magic Kingdom.

Hurry with your ideas.  They are waking up now.  My house is shrinking….

Wendy

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal Recipe

I promised you this recipe many a blog ago.  Here it is, better late than never…which is pretty much how meals arrive at our dining table.

I made this in an effort to get my daughter to school with something resembling a whole food in her tiny belly.  She loves this breakfast; she loves anything that sounds like dessert at 7 a.m.  I know it’s summer now and cold breakfasts taste better than warm, hearty oatmeal, but we’re in the Pacific Northwest; we can eat this stuff ten months out of the year.

Like Edith Piaf, Je ne measure rien.  (I’m sure that’s what Edith meant. ) Just put in as much as you want of the following.

Oh–one more thing;  If I were Carolyn or anyone remotely able to post a photo, I would.  But I’m not, so you’ll just have to trust me.

Libbi’s Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Steel cut oats–organic.  One quarter cup dry measure equals one serving.  You’ll need four times the amount of liquid.

vanilla rice milk (You can use all rice milk –or soy or almond or coconut or whatever–or part milk and part water.  Or try orange juice and water.  Or all water,  But that’s kind of boring, and you’re not boring, are you?)  Remember; 4 parts liquid to 1 part steel-cut oats.

organic raisins (Pay extra; imported grapes are on the list of most toxic fruits.  CostCo usually has a good deal on organic raisins.)

grated carrots–yeah, organic

honey or agave and/or mashed banana for sweetness

shredded coconut (optional)

chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Toppings:  Many options.  See below.

METHOD…and we do have one…

Before you go to bed one night, measure out your oats and the liquid you’re using for the number of servings desired.  I combine these in a PYREX glass bowl.  Add some raisins (the golden kind are super in this), cover and stick in the fridge.  The raisins will plump deliciously and sweeten the cooking liquid.

When you get up the next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Add grated carrots and sweetener to your oatmeal.  Libbi likes a lot of each.  Add your pinch of sea salt  plus coconut and nuts as desired.  Slide this in the oven uncovered and go about your business for 35-45 minutes.   When both it and you are ready, serve the oatmeal as is or with a little more milk, maybe stir in a little nut butter for protein if you want, some maple syrup or sprinkle with chocolate chips and top with a little whipped cream. We’ve tried all that so far and it’s all yummy.

Try it and tell Too Hot Mamas what you think.  Bon Apetit! L’Chaim!

Wendy

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My carpet is disgusting

Wendy!  Get Rich Quick Scheme number 197,322!!!

I am thinking of calling it Nature’s Carpet, a revolutionary new flooring manufactured with the family in mind.  Envision this in your
own home.  Orange cat?  Nature’s Carpet will incorporate random tufts of orange hair into the weave!  Have a baby?   Imagine haphazard patches of mustard yellow and baby burp white!  For you dog owners, muddy paw prints in chocolate and caramel brown and some ‘oopsie’ spots for the puppy years.  I’m thinking the ketchup and pizza stain pattern is a must for a rumpus room.  And every guy will clamor for the barf and beer stain look for his man room.

Husbands?  Go ahead and take that motorcycle apart in the living room.  She won’t care.  Not with Nature’s Carpet’s “Garage Floor Stain” pattern.

Get that new carpet smell with the user-friendly feel.  No more need to chase that wet pet through the house.  Screaming at the kids over muddy boots is a thing of the past.  Peace and tranquility abound as you ‘go green’ with our bark dust, rabbit droppings and moss chunks pattern.

Your friend’s will turn puce with envy!

Wendy, my family will easily be able to do all of the design work.  You look into the patent deal.  I’m thinkin’ we’re on to something big this time.

Carolyn

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Cupcake Wars

One of my daughter’s early teachers was called “Cupcake” (not to her face) by the parents, because of her penchant for celebrating every birthday, half-birthday, and holiday, including obscure-in-America British holidays, by serving fluffy cakes with gobs of frosting.  She considered sugar to be, in part, a learning tool.  It was quite effective.  My daughter does not remember the storyline to The Lace Snail, which we read a gazillion times (it’s wonderful), but she still speaks fondly of London’s October Plenty.  Attempts to form letters were rewarded with m&m’s or bits of red licorice.

Why am I thinking about this now, a few years after the fact?  Because I just spent two hours learning how to make a radish mouse to entice my daughter to eat her veggies.   Any veggie.  A no-thank-you bite of cherry tomato.  A snippet of gray green bean out of her Alphabet Soup.

For many years I was a sugar-free vegan (this was before Carolyn and I began entering the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I grant you) and regularly offered collards and kale to my daughter, who ate her greens with gusto.   Oh, yes she did.  In fact, her favorite breakfast was brown rice with butter, tiny minced carrots, nori seaweed and gomasio.  And then…Cupcake.

I love you, Cupcake, I do.  When introducing children to school, it’s a Jewish tradition to dot the pages of a book with honey so the learning will be sweet.   My daughter’s books were smeared with buttercream; I suppose that’s close.  And when she majors in British history I’m quite sure I will remember you fondly.  But I can’t help the pang of regret and frustration I experienced when she saw that adorable mouse staring up from her salad.  Raising it by it’s long radish root tail, she stared ambivalently awhile then asked, “Do I get dessert if I eat this?”

My next attempt will be carrot-cake oatmeal.  I’ll post the recipe if successful.

Wendy

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The Pillsbury Fart-off…uh, Bake-Off

As you know, Carolyn and I are addicted to entering the Pillsbury Bake-Off.  Every spring break from school is an opportunity to corral our kids (plus the offspring of anyone cruel enough to drop their progeny off at Carolyn’s place during this time of year) into one room and ply them with experiment after experiment…er, rather, delicacy after delicacy.  On this year’s menu:

Vermont Maple Cupcakes With Georgia Peanut Buttercream (going with a state theme).  This recipe required several attempts and never really came together.  The kids began eating enthusiastically then quite suddenly looked as if they’d been stricken with a deadly disease.  We gave ’em a little bicarbonate of soda and got right back in the saddle with…

Meatball Hoagie Bake.  This was not bad, though it was overly complicated and kinda unattractive.  Took three or four swipes at this one over a two-day period with eight children and four adults taste testing.  Final decision:  Nah.

Next up:  Carolyn’s soon-to-be world-famous Sweet ‘N Smoky Baked Breakfast Pancake.  OMG.  Incredible.  We all thought so.  She made it several times–for breakfast, for dinner, for a snack.  We tried other baked pancake variations, too, plus more sandwiches, a couple of appetizers and an entrée.  All together we made seven trips to the supermarket, spent…well, I can’t say on the chance one of our husbands is reading, and sickened eight otherwise hardy children.  I overheard this comment from one of Carolyn’s daughter’s friends:

“Can we stop eating now?  I’ve been farting all morning.”

“Me, too,” whispered Carolyn’s daughter.  “I think they’re getting tired.  They’ll stop soon.”

That’s what you thought, missy.

We kept at it until there wasn’t a creative thought left in our brains.  We kept at it until the smell of exhaustion overwhelmed the smells of butter, sugar, toffee and cinnamon.  And soon, very soon, we’ll be in Carolyn’s kitchen again, prepping for the next bake-off.  Why?  Because there’s a million bucks, new appliances, a trip to Orlando and the promise of fifteen minutes of Pillsbury fame riding on this one.

And because we came up empty when we Googled “Bake-Offs Anonymous.”

Wendy

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Cat Fight–The REAL Story

Here’s what really happened.  Four of us meet for breakfast to talk about a writer’s conference trip we are all taking to New York this summer to land agents and fabulous book and movie deals on our fascinating and hilarious lives as romance novelists/mothers/wives/slash/hacks/dog owners and, you know, a couple of other projects we’ve got stashed under the bed that we’re gonna take out and dust off and turn into gold. 

Wendy is late, as usual.  Don’t get me started.  Anyway, she comes skidding in to the restaurant, drops to into her chair, snaps her fingers for the ‘girl’ then goes off on her wrinkle jag, which we all know is a bid for attention.  The woman is adorable.  I don’t get the whole, “Oh, look at my teensy wrinkle and feel sorry for me,” deal.  But we have to humor her.  “Yeah, yeah, Wendy.  What are ya gonna do about the grand canyons on your face today?”  Furtive eye-rolling behind the menu.

In fact, while she was blathering on about the wrinkle thing, I snapped a pic of her with my phone, just to prove my point.

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wait… I got it here somewhere…

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Oh.  Yeah.  Here.  Now.  I ask you.  Is this a face or is this a face?  I just want to gobble her up.

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"Clinique has this AMAZING new product that they claim firms and tightens..."

 

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Over coffee (we’ve migrated to Starbucks by now) the four of us figure out all the details of our trip to the eastern seaboard and decide to ditch the writer’s meeting we’d planned on attending that morning in Portland and hit the mall instead. 

Wendy was still nattering about this miracle stuff she was going to spend waaaaaay too much money on and I wanted to find some pants that would make me look 40 lbs. lighter.

As I was off looking for “skinny jeans” (sheyeah, what a crock) Wendy gave us the slip.  We finally found her seated in the chair behind the Clinique counter getting her upper lip spackled.  Okay.  I get it now.  The whole wrinkle cream gig isn’t about fixing your wrinkles.  No.  Oprah, are you listening, because this is the real SECRET.  Wrinkle cream IS NOT about ‘fixing a problem’.  It’s about ‘confusing the eye’.  It’s about slathering a whole bunch of gummy stuff on your lip and telling you that your wrinkles are gone and then charging you $174 + tax. 

Wendy, I’m only gonna say this once.  “The emperor has no clothes!  B-U-C-K Naked!

Of course your friends are going to tell you that the flaky, chalky, goofy crud on your upper lip looks great because we love you. 

"I can't nove ny lits cuz this stuff is sooter hard!"

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Truth be told, we simply had no where else to look.  We had to avert our eyes.  That’s why no one noticed wrinkles.  A person can’t see when they’re all squinty-eyed and cringing. 

Carolyn

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Thurston and Me

    

Thurston Howl

 Another New Year’s Resolution I scribbled down for this year is:  To be the person my dog thinks I am. 

I am not the original author of this resolution but I like it because my dog thinks I am Isis, goddess of the bacon fat.  Unlike my children, my dog Thurston–Mr. Howl to you–thinks I’m cool when I sing super loud and off-key.  Unlike my husband, he adores me when I’ve just eaten a dinner slathered in garlic and onions.  Unlike my family, he worships they way I prepare each and every meal and cheerfully helps clean the pots.

We live out in the country and the house is set back from the road.  When we drive away without him, his face slowly collapses from his huge, Golden Retriever grin with his dolly dangling like Columbo’s cigar from the corner of his mouth.  In its place, resignation.  A canine sigh.  Not invited this time.  He flops to the front porch, props his head on dolly and waits.  Sometimes hours.  And weirdly, out of all the Toyota Sienna minivans in the universe that travel down our road, the moment ours turns the corner and heads up the street, he and dolly leap to attention and gallop to greet us, the Golden grin erupting like the rocket’s red glare, bombs bursting in air, yes! YES, MOM IS STILL THERE! Continue reading

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Another Get Rich Quick Scheme Down the Toilet

Heeeeeellllppp meeeeee!

Ohmigosh, Wendy!  Last night I had a dream that J. Lilly, President of Pillsbury wrote us a letter.  It was so terrifying!  So real!  I woke up in a sweat (could have been a hot flash) and scribbled down what I remembered on a candy wrapper I found lying near my bed: 

To TooHotMamas:

(Whoever you are and whatever your racket is)  

 Stop harassing me about winning my contest, or I’ll be forced to take out a restraining order against you both.  The only reason I haven’t contacted the authorities yet, is because my sister is menopausal and tells me you are both out of your minds. 

In answer to a few of your many and varied accusations:  No, the contest was not rigged, nor am I related to the winners and yes I eat Pillsbury products in my home and have no signs of these ‘pathogens’ you allude to.  

Also, since Jack Bauer is a FICTIONAL television character (24), I cannot take the threat that you would report my contest to the Counter Terrorist Unit seriously.  I can’t believe Jack Bauer would take it seriously.  In a shoot out, everyone knows the doughboy has no vital organs and can withstand intense heat.  Jack Bauer, though impressive, would never survive a pre-heated 350 oven for more than 30 minutes. 

TooHotMamas, I will not be bullied into, and I’m quoting here, “Taking you to the stars with your two-ingredient Pancake Sauce”, and must reiterate: Winning my contest will not solve your myriad problems.  In fact you both may wish to consider counseling.  I’ve heard this stage of life is hard on many women and can lead to delusional behavior.  

Thank you for including the pictures of your children in your missive of terror and yes, aside from needing braces, they are all exceedingly attractive. 

You will be contacted from my lawyers for your issues with our contest protocol, and must sign sworn statements to hold Pillsbury harmless, if you wish to participate in the future. 

Sincerely, 

John Lilly, CEO Pillsbury Corporation

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Nuthin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven

We like him better this way

 

Wendy: 

Today is the day the Pillsbury winner is slated to be announced on Oprah.  The Million Dollar Bakeoff Winner.  Wonder who that lucky person might be.  I wonder if they took time away from their precious children to perfect their recipe?  I wonder if their marriage suffered because their husbands thought they were stupid to be chasing a pipe dream?   I wonder if the winner has five little tykes, every single one of which needs braces? 

Well, we do know one thing for sure. 

It’s not us. 

That’s okay.  There is always next year. 

Carolyn

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Open Letter to John Lilly, head of Pillsbury North America…or We’re not bitter, part II

Dear Mr. Lilly:

Today I received yet another in a recent onslaught of emails from Pillsbury offering me “fabulous” recipes and coupons for your products so that I might effectively execute said recipes.  I believe I can speak for my friend Carolyn when I say that we are more likely to eat the goopy stuff that collects in the corner of dogs’ eyes than to slam back one more poppin’ fresh anything.

It cannot have escaped your notice that in all fifty states and parts of Canada people have been ingesting dangerous amounts of your dough boy in an effort to better their circumstances.  The Pillsbury Bake-Off gave us all hope.  Hope, sir, that even in the face of our husband’s laughter, our children’s tummy aches, unstable blood sugar and alarming increases in dental caries we might win a new refrigerator or perhaps a trip to the Magic Kingdom.  For months we fell asleep dreaming of new uses for crescent rolls then awoke like children on Christmas morning, eager as all get out to see if we had e-mail.  Did Pillsbury like the Money Bunz? we wondered.  Did the Cookie Fries make them smile??  (And by the way, I have never seen anyone work with more single-minded focus than Carolyn Zane did when she perfected Cookie Catsup.   Her kids weren’t allowed to eat anything else for days.)

But we heard nothing–not a word, not a peep, not a giggle from the dough boy–to acknowledge our hard work and self-sacrifice in making your contest a success.

Yeah, I know you’re busy; we’re all busy.  Carolyn and I should have been writing books last spring, but did we?  Nooo.   We put the 65th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off first.  We would  appreciate a little acknowledgment, not another e-mail about Topsy Turvy Apple Pie and Chicken Nugget casserole or whatever that last one was.  Yuck.  (Did you even taste our tofu quiche?  Oprah would have loved it.)

All right, look, here’s the deal:  We’ve got your dough boy.  If you want him back in one yeasty piece, cease and desist all further emails unless it’s to say THANK YOU, LADIES from the bottom of your heart.  I  mean it.  We will eat that little dough man bit by bit, starting with his puffy white fingers (where are his fingers, anyway?) for every self-promoting e-mail you send.

With all due respect, take your head out, John:  No one who has spent a hundred gazillion hours and most of their children’s college fund entering your Bake-Off wants to try last year’s recipe for Maple-glazed Green Giant Spinach crescent rolls.  I’m just saying.

Best,

Wendy


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