Posted by: mchleen | June 3, 2010

Strawberry sauce with a balsamic kicker!

It’s that time of year again!

Well yes.  BBQs and swimmin’ and all that…  But I was thinking more of June’s dreamy-fresh strawberry picking season.

Yesterday we went to Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland to pick our own, sunshine-hot and bursting-sweet.  (one for me…one for the basket…five for me…one for the basket…)  It’s so easy to get carried away!

So we returned home with veritable oodles of berries and had to face the music.  You see…I sinned.  I washed them.  Did you know that you don’t do that until you are ready to eat them, or they will begin to wilt before your very eyes?  Oh.  Well I didn’t.

What to do with all of these fabulous little treasures before they begin to disintegrate?!  Strawberry sauce.  Gourmet strawberry sauce.  Oooohhh…Aaaahhh!

Adding balsamic vinegar to strawberries may sound foul but I assure you that the sweetness of the fruit and sugar make it quite fair.  The balsamic vinegar brings a depth to the flavor and enhances the color of the strawberries in the most lover-ly way.  And if you, like me, have a ton of strawberries set to expire you can afford to test me on this.

And in other great news: you need only 3 ingredients (strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar):

  1. Toss 4 cups of hulled strawberries into a large saucepan; add 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
  2. Lightly crush the mixture with a potato masher and bring it to a boil.
  3. Decrease the heat to simmer and reduce the mixture to your desired consistency.
  4. Cool then refrigerate until ready to use.

Now what to do with this nectar?

  • drizzle over vanilla ice cream
  • dollop into yogurt or oatmeal
  • spread on toast or scones
  • sauce your pork or chicken
  • spoon generously over pound cake, angel food cake, pancakes and waffles
  • sweeten-up that smoothie

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to wipe up all this drool.

Hey look!  After I published my post I bounced over to The Bitten Word – one of my fave food blogs – to see if they had something new and delicious I might make…and shabam! STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB COMPOTE! – with a nod to balsamic vinegar (thanks guys!  I feel so…so…relevant!).

Posted by: mchleen | May 19, 2010

Innocence lost?

In this country, at the age of 18 you are legally considered an adult.  But adult as it is defined = “fully developed and mature.”  I don’t know about you but I’ve known kids who were surely adult before their time, as well as contemporaries who I could certainly never term adult.

When did you realize that you were no longer a child?

Was it a number? Turning sweet-driver’s-license-16, 18-and-legal, realizing that you were too old  for admittance to Space Camp?

Was it an event? Losing your virginity, going to college, your first job, children of your own?

Or perhaps it was something more intangible? Your responsibilities outweighed your freedom?

The innocence of childhood is a beautiful thing and I am sometimes saddened to see that time shortening in these more modern days.  The most lovely and bittersweet way I heard someone describe their awareness of the waning of childhood was just the other day:  “I think I realized that I was no longer a child when I began protecting it.”  **SIGH**

A certain amount of innocence, playing with toys and devil-may-care friskiness is balm for the soul.  I have long been proud to claim that I am still a bit of a child.   Remember…

I am rubber and you are glue; it bounces off of me and sticks to you!

I hope.

Posted by: mchleen | May 14, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

The little buggers are just so precocious.  But watch out!  Just when you let your guard down **BAM** they’ll leave you feeling nekkid as a jaybird on a pedestal in Times Square.

Never fear however.  The tables will turn.  Their teenage years are coming, and we all know how embarrassing parents are at that age.

In her scant first 3 years, my daughter has managed some surprisingly blush-inducing incidents:

At 1 1/2 yrs. she targeted a Muslim man at Safeway (complete with crocheted cap and robe) that we passed in the aisle and loudly asked if he were her daddy.  I’m not sure who was more mortified; the poor man for being accused of fathering this apparently illegitimate child, or me.  Ava was unfazed and had already moved on to demanding sweet potato Puffs.  I’ll admit, I ran.

After I erroneously taught her the word “nipple” at age 2, she ran to me in the library, arms wide open for a terrific hug and loudly exclaimed “MOMMY, I LOVE YOUR NIPPLES!”.  Needless to say library time was over.

At age 3, we were paying for our parking at the Buffalo Airport and the booth operator was a real haggard type woman (long scraggly grey hair, big hook nose, no makeup and sort of wizened).  As the window went down the operator reached for the parking stub Ava loudly proclaimed from her perch “IS THAT A WITCH?!”.  We really laid some rubber out of there.

And most recently she was traumatized when I was a few minutes late picking her up from storytime at the library, finding herself apparently abandoned.  Later on our walk around the neighborhood pond, my little chatterbox engaged a neighbor:  “Do you want to know a secret?  My mommy left me at the library.”  I’m surprised CPS hasn’t come a’knocking.

Oh and there are so many more.  Asking the hubby’s coworker why he has such a big tummy, vociferously inquiring about a statue’s penis in the National Gallery of Art…

…but I showed you mine.  Now you show me yours.

Posted by: mchleen | May 11, 2010

Do you wonder what’s happened to your Ex?

You’ve searched them on Google and Facebook, hoping they’d pop up.  Or maybe they’ve found you?  Or maybe they’re still out there – those beacons of your past; memories perhaps distant enough to lead you to wonder what took them away from you.

Were they loves or friends?  Hero(ine)s or monsters?

Our personal and private histories build and compound on themselves, making us figurative pyramids headed toward who we will ultimately be…yet some blocks are more compelling; they draw us to revisit them and wonder what might have ended differently?

Remember the movie Sliding Doors?  (It’s a good one if you haven’t seen it.)

It’s haunting how even the small, day-to-day choices we make echo into our future and have compounding effect.

What if my parents had never…

What if I never…

What if I never met…

What if I never went to…

What if I had chosen to [x] instead of [y]…

What if [x] hadn’t died…

What if I had died…

Wondering “what if” can be torture.  There may be much a person can wish to take back…to dream of the cosmic do-over.  But the fabulous thing about history is that you can look back, dream and wonder – learn from it and still have the power to live your life going forward.  Chose your best adventure!

Hindsight is 20/20.  The future is relatively blind.

Posted by: mchleen | May 4, 2010

Mo’ money please!

Mo’ money = mo’ problems?  I seriously doubt that, but I’d sure be willing to give it a try.

I need a get-rich-quick scheme.  There are just too many vacations, home improvements, wardrobe updates and diamonds to buy.

And since that scam of a “money tree” I bought refuses to produce anything green other than stupid leaves I need ideas.

And don’t even think of suggesting a lottery ticket.  We all know that you need to own a motorcycle or live in a trailer to even have a chance.

Posted by: mchleen | May 4, 2010

Now THAT would be some omelette!

I was wandering the aisles of Whole Foods this morning looking for free food samples picking up a few things, when I saw what I thought were beautiful green avocados and some honeydew melons:

If you have a spare $29.99 you could make the world’s largest one-egg omelette!  Those are ostrich eggs in the foreground and emu eggs are the green ones further back.

I have many, many questions.  Most are unprintable.

Posted by: mchleen | April 26, 2010

Channel your lemon twist!

That last post got me to thinking about cocktails and perhaps you, like me, have been consistently stymied by achieving perfect lemon twists for your martini?

In the past, when I’ve needed a lemon twist, I just used my vegetable peeler to get a nice fat swath (see below), then sliced that fat lemon peel into presentable slim submission.  To get the “twist” out of it I’d wrap the finished product around a meat skewer and squeeze it tight to form it (…think of a curling iron’s action).

‘Lots of work!  Did you know they make a tool for the perfect lemon twist?  I didn’t.  But now we both do!  It’s called a channel knife (that’s it right down there).  Just whittle it around the circumference of the lemon and it slices out a nice channel of zest, already twisted thanks to the natural shape of the lemon.  Gorgeous!

You may still want to help it a bit to make it even more exaggeratedly spiraled.  I do.  But then, I often get exaggeratedly spiraled myself when drinking martinis.

Beans, beans the magical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So let’s have beans at every meal!

Remember that one?  While I will never advocate toots outside the confines of one’s own private, personal space (you know…you’ve been victimized, or have knowingly inflicted the torture you jerk) beans are very good for you – they’re SUPERFOODS.

I’ve been on a big antioxidant/superfood kick lately, wishing to kickstart a new healthier me.  Açaí is one of those buzz-superfoods you’re hearing all about these days (they’re sort of like supercharged blueberries).

So far the results of my antioxidant/superfood forays are positive but part of the diet modification has included a much decreased alcohol intake.  SO SAD!!  I know!  And as many dream of pastries while dieting, I am dreaming of fabulous cocktails while abstaining.  Next time I whip up a tasty one though, I think it’ll be one of these:


2 parts Absolut Berri Açaí

1 part simple syrup

1 part fresh lemon juice

Shake and serve straight up. Garnish with fresh blueberries and mint leaves.

HEALTHY VODKA!?  Hellz yeah.  We can call it that, right?  And I’m thinking this might be my summer cocktail of choice…although I’ve got another great one that I’ll post soon that I know – from experience – is wicked awesome for the hot afternoons and evenings.

Meanwhile, eat your fruits and vegetables!  (and beans, within reason)

Posted by: mchleen | April 14, 2010

Twitter. Fritter.

Granted, a phenomenon but unless you are promoting yourself WHAT A WASTE!  I mean it’s the internet equivalent of blah-blah-blah.  And jeez man!  I mean the amount of time it takes to keep current such a socially demanding obligation!

I joined and posted a bit but burned the hell out friggidy-fast!

From Twitter’s own creator, Jack Dorsey:

“We wanted to capture that in the name—we wanted to capture that feeling: the physical sensation that you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket. It’s like buzzing all over the world. So we did a bunch of name-storming, and we came up with the word “twitch,” because the phone kind of vibrates when it moves. But “twitch” is not a good product name because it doesn’t bring up the right imagery. So we looked in the dictionary for words around it, and we came across the word “twitter,” and it was just perfect. The definition was “a short burst of inconsequential information,” and “chirps from birds.” And that’s exactly what the product was.”

Yes Jack.  Spot on.  The idea of twitching is not good marketing imagery.  The idea of buzzing in my pocket, however, elicits lots of sophomoric snickers from me – sorry.  But he had a good idea.  Check that.  It IS a good idea.  But for the average person: WHO CARES?!?  I mean – what better things could you do with your time spent each day reading all those Tweets?

Total time suck.

Posted by: mchleen | April 14, 2010

Two things that I cannot do:

1. Make rice.
2. Grill a steak perfectly to medium rare.

My friend Carin N. healed me on the rice front though.  It always stuck to the bottom of the pan or was still watery.  Turns out that when you leave it to simmer it is IMPORTANT to leave the lid on.  No peeking/stirring/fluffing!  I now make some bomb-ass rice.  Thanks C-Money!

As for the steak front…help???

And what’s the best cut anyway?  You know, for backyard grilling* not restaurant eating.  I enjoy a solidly marinated flank steak but am pretty clueless on other cuts that would be scrumdiddlyumptious.

* FWIW – I have the Meat-lover’s Bane (unless you’re Hank Hill): a gas grill.

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