Bake the Bread

Good bread is pretty important in my house of boys.  Most grocery store bread has a bunch of crap in it that is totally unnecessary, so I make my own.  I generally try to make the things we eat most often, myself.  Same goes for the frequently consumed grocery items like milk, I purchase the best I can.image

Making bread sounds really hard and really “advanced” but it is so not either of those things.  I am not a gadget person in the kitchen but I do have a bread machine.  The biggest benefit is the dough cycle that  mixes and rises the bread in a consistent temp which is virtually imporssible to achieve in my apartment.  I have a very old ’80’s bread machine cookbook that is my guide.  Lots of options and you certainly don’t need a machine to do any of this. This pita is a couple times a month recipe.

Pita

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1-1/3 C water

3 tbsp Olive Oil

1-1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2C flour

1-1/2 C whole wheat flour

2 tsp yeast

Two rises, portion and roll out into whatever size pita you want.  Roll with a pin until thin.  Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 4-8 minutes.  Beside just eating them in sandwiches, I also cut them up and dip them in a mixture of pesto and yogurt.

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Daily reminders

It is fair to say that I spend a big part of my day thinking about cancer.  Of course, right?  Even though I am officially cancer free I still deal with the repercussions of cancer everyday as I rebuild my right boob.  Every time I shower, get dressed, sleep and exercise.  It is with me always right now and I know that won’t always be the case.

I chose to only remove one breast-there was no reason to remove the other- but the differences between my two sides are startling-even after almost a month.  And it isn’t even the rebuilding process that I think about-I spend more time thinking about the process, the people, the energy, education and the mental part. You have these huge moments of “oh, shit” I better really think about the next half of my life (like I don’t do that already!) that challenge me to consider different ideas of what I am going to do with myself.  Mostly though I have been thinking about how to share and how to prepare others for this experience.  I think there is a need.

I know I am a little different (that is not a pat on the back). I think about things differently than a lot of people.  What has shocked me most is all the blogs and info out there about BC focusing so much on the doom and gloom and the victimization of the whole disease.  I know that I got off easy though, there are a lot of people who have it much worse than me but does that discredit how I dealt with it?    Not sure how to handle that yet.

I keep going back to the healthy food and life thing.  Eating home cooked, good food, moving, sunshine, fresh air and positive attitude stuff.  That is the stuff I do well and  want to share if that is what people need.  It sure helped me this summer and fall.

Beener’s Greens

My friend Beener made a resolution last year to eat less fast food.  She isn’t the type of person who forgets resolutions come February.  She has stuck with it and even though it is super hard with their day to day kid shuffle, she has cut down the amount of fast food.  She inspired my kale chip making this morning.  Part of her good food effort landed her at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  It is hard not to over buy beautiful veggies….there is a lot of kale at the market right now…..

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I have seen lots of recipes for kale chips, all promising to be as fantastic as potato chips. Of course, that is an oversell. But they are good and I think I may even be able to get Lachy and Loudey to like them.  It also helps that I have a friend who is growing a serious amount of kale in his back yard.  He needs to unload his bounty and I love homegrown gifts.

Trim the kale leaves and remove any big stems and veins.  Lightly coat with olive oil and spread, in one layer on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Cook in a preheated oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  Taste for doneness-they should be crisp.

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How to be the big cheese

I have spent the majority of my work life managing and teaching, mostly in the quick service food business and mostly with new managers.  Being a QS manager can be a great first “real” job for people-it certainly was for me.  Most of the time QS managers are simply the people in a restaurant who demonstrate the most responsibility, they show up on time and do their job well.  They never have formal Management 101 training.  Here are the keys! You are now in charge!  Good luck, kid.  We in the restaurant biz are notorious for ignoring the need for good teaching and training.  Trial by fire-literally.

My role usually  comes in after these newbies have been doing their job for a while.  They kind get it but it is a daily struggle.  The owner or upper management comes to me and asks for help.  “Johnny lets people walk all over him” or “Suzy is so mean to her people” or “I just don’t understand why they can’t get me the numbers on time” or “why on earth would they hire that kid.”  I could write a thousand quotes here.  I have heard them all and I sympathize….with the poor, new manager.

I have read a million management books in my life and am always looking for something new to teach these people.  I was reminded today that good management is really just about being a good person.  Once you win the people game, by practicing good person skills, the rest is easy and not just in restaurant management.  This works for everything.

Smile at everyone and for no reason at all.  Feel how that smile feels on your face.  Walk around with it on, aim it toward others and take in all the smiles you get in return.  It is magical and a game changer-notice it.

Take time to listen and be interested in people.  Ask about them.  Step outside of your own little world and learn something about someone else.  People are amazing!  Share yourself too, but sparingly.

Be kind, be real and be honest.  You can change behavior permanently by keeping these three things in mind.  Don’t yell, don’t condemn, don’t be nasty.  You do not change behavior but beating anyone to death.  Kind, straight forward, honest words will get them to do what you want.

I think this is the answer.  Seems simple enough.

Yes, Frozen Pizza

We have been doing this divorce thing for a little over a year now and finally feel like we have the hang of it.  That is a temporary feeling, I am sure.  I learned two big things the last year.  One is really just awareness; oh, I am really happy now and didn’t realize how unhappy I was.  The second is that even though I don’t see my kids every day anymore I actually feel like have more time with them now in my post-married life and it is really dedicated time.  For me that has to do with getting a lot of the everyday stuff done on my “off days” and a lot of it has to do with being aware that your time is limited.

It took me until the snow flew last year to figure out that trying to plan anything more than something basic on Friday night was a lesson in disaster.  (Friday night  my only consistent weekend night with the boys.)  Meltdowns in public, tears in the car, hunger pains all make a night off from cooking and a glass of red wine really crappy.  Thank God for frozen pizza and the Red Box.  I have learned that the dedicated time with the boys doesn’t have to be anything too far above and beyond our normal nights together.  Eating dinner in front of a movie with a happy Mom is just fine with them and me.

This is my favorite frozen pizza made with just a few good ingredients.  It is a gem in the freezer case.

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Sunday to the Market

I always joke that I am going to start taking tour groups to the market.  I fantasize that once people started to buy super fresh produce and eggs they would never want to grocery shop anywhere else.  There is nothing like a farm fresh egg,  you don’t know that until you try one.  Seriously.

Pepper, 2013

It isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me that I love the farmer’s market.  In particular the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.  Mom and I started going the St. Paul when I had kids and shopped with a stroller.  No steps at the StPFM.  We go there for so many more reasons now-all produce and meat comes from no more than 100 miles away being the biggest reason (no pineapple or bananas),  and it is just smaller.  My friends are sometimes shocked that we go all the way to St. Paul from Minneapolis, but it doesn’t take that long and the payoff is so great.  The farmer’s market is not another weekend errand to me, it is a special weekend tradition.  I see friends, my food creativity is challenged by the bounty of the week and it makes me feel good.  Starting in December the winter market begins.  Our tradition moves to Saturday and is condensed to just eggs and meat and a steamy cup of coffee at the deli next door.

Lachy and Loudey, August 2013
Lachy and Loudey, August 201
Fall Harvest, 2013
Fall Harvest, 2013

The Good Morning Game

When I trained for the Twin Cities Marathon in 2011  my Mom biked all my long Sunday runs with me.  She ran for a long time so she was a good partner.  Aside from kicking me in the pants once and a while she also taught me to say “good morning” to every person we passed on those early Sundays.  It was a good distraction from aching knees and heat and ugh,  but also a good social study.

Depending on the time of day, people are more or less friendly.  The 7amers are super responsive  and almost 100% of them return my “good morning”.  The responses become less and less as the day goes on.  It also depends on the Lake you are circling.  Lake Harriet (my #1) is way more friendly than Lake Calhoun where they look at me like I am a freak-no matter what time of day.  The older, early birds know my game.   This was part of my trail yesterday.

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