"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Granola Helps Me Do My Job

I know it's a stretch, but hear me out. If not for granola, many (more) of my days would be wasted procrastinating by playing online and whatnot. We all have days when we simply can't focus. There's too much running through our minds; we're disorganized; we can't decide which job to tackle first. You know the drill. Heck, I'm procrastinating right now, just by writing this post. (Yes, it needs to get done, but I sh/could have waited until my editing work was finished for the day.)

Anyhow, most of the time, just by writing a to do list, I get a handle on my priorities and am able to rein in my overactive mind. But there are some days when "overwhelmed" doesn't even begin to describe it. Those are the days when I tell myself, "It's time to make granola."

It's not always granola. Sometimes it's whatever crock pot concotion I come up with when I realize the day is getting away from me, or I have too much to do in a short amount of time. You see, the crock pot becomes my timer, my count-down clock. It's a race to the finish. I know what I want to accomplish and I have an alarm that will go off when my day is done. No overtime; no excuses; no goofing off.

But granola is my secret weapon. When there's a batch of oats and nuts roasting in the slow cooker, I am forced to take breaks at certain intervals. I'm also forced to work in the living/dining room instead of at my desk. Why? Because the batch has to be stirred every thirty minutes, give or take, or it will burn. Just the change of scenery makes me more productive.

To make it easier, I work close to the kitchen. I get up when the alarm goes off, stretch my legs, stir the pot, reset the timer, then go back to work. I have yet to burn a batch. This gives me a quick stretch break, and gives my brain a rest for a minute or two. My recovery time is minimal because this practice does not afford me the opportunity to get caught up in a vacuum of social media.

Sure, an easy remedy would be to disconnect from the web altogether when I'm working, but I need access to online resources such as style guides, dictionaries, and various other searchable tools that allow me to verify grammar rules and research facts.

The granola timer also helps on days when there are household chores to do in addition to work. Yesterday, I edited about seventy pages, washed dishes (twice), dished out dinner for three (msg-free lo mein), prepped today's lunch, made three quarts of chicken stock, AND cooked up a big batch of Almond Joy-type granola (just enough chocolate chips to add some sweet, almonds, and a ton of coconut). Will you hate me if I mention I went to bed with a clean kitchen and did not work a minute past 6:00 p.m.?

Of course, now it's getting late and I think I'm going to have to throw some ingredients into the slow cooker just so I can feel I've accomplished more than a blog post today.

Happy Crock Potting!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pinterest Has Me Cooking Again!

Okay, truth be told, I never stopped. I just didn't have the time for posting about it. Some months, it's difficult enough for me to maintain my weekly schedule, let alone trying to post semi-weekly. Anyhow, I chose to take over Sunday's post for Pinterest recipes this week because the two I made this week were yummilicious and I had to share.

I'm going to begin with dessert since I make this one first, and well, dessert . . .

I really hope the blogger doesn't mind me borrowing her picture because this one didn't last long enough to take one. (I think that's a theme around here.) It was outstanding, and my roommates absolutely loved it. I, however, think it needed more oats, so I'll probably double the oats the next time I make it. Still, simple, delish, and by putting it together before dinner, I could throw it into the oven to bake while we ate. Perfect timing never tasted so good.

This is another with no picture. Sorry gang, but yesterday morning, when I made it for dinner, I couldn't predict I'd be out of the house when the hordes descended upon the slow cooker.

I have to admit, I took a few liberties with this one. First, it desperately needed pepper, so I added some at the end. Cooking pepper makes the flavor expand and you run the risk of making a dish too spicy, especially in the crock pot. Second, I used homemade chicken stock that I had in the freezer. It was left over from another Pinterest recipe that I will probably share my thoughts on at a later date.

But here's the kicker: By the time I got home, it was GONE! I walked into the kitchen around 2:00 a.m. to find nothing left of my chicken and dumplings but the broth. So I ladeled some into a mug and had an early morning snack. It was excellent.

Later, I found out the one of my roomies was wise enough to fill a dish and tuck it away so I could taste the fruits of my labor. It was even better when I had it for lunch this afternoon. And the rest of the leftover broth? We've been taking turns heating it up in mugs to stave off this unseasonably chilly weather.

So there you go, two tested Pinterest recipes that are definitely worth a try.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 1, 2014

I'm Polish, of Course I Like Cabbage!

Every time I see cabbage on sale at the grocery store, I fondly remember my grandmother who slaved over a hot stove every day to feed a horde of family members. Since that side of my family was Polish, and descended from farmers, the food was simple.

Babcie's cooking rarely utilized complex seasoning and layers of flavor. It was plain, peasant food prepared with few ingredients. Often fruits and vegetables had been picked from my grandfather's garden earlier that day and that freshness made all the difference. When produce is that fresh, it doesn't need layers. This is the best time of year to raid your own garden, or head to the local farm stand. You won't regret it.

This was a staple in my grandmother's kitchen, but is not exclusively Eastern European. If you're Irish, you've probably had a similar dish.

Just Cabbage

1 stick of butter (real butter, not that processed oil crap)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped into chunks
4 ounces of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium to large head of cabbage, chopped into chunks (discard harder parts of the core)
salt and pepper

Melt butter over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients
Add garlic and onions and heat until the onions begin to get translucent
Add cabbage and mushrooms and heat, uncovered, stirring about every 10 minutes
Allow to cook over medium heat until the mushrooms and cabbage have cooked down and the cabbage is al dente
Taste and season throughout cooking time, but go easy on the pepper as it expands the longer you heat it

The prep time of this dish is only about 15 minutes, but it takes about an hour to cook.
Babcie would sometimes slice kielbasa (Polish sausage) and throw it in to cook with the cabbage

Admittedly, this dish isn't for everyone, but I made it for friends a couple of weeks ago and there weren't any leftovers to take pictures of. 

Happy Cooking!