We crack us up … sometimes unintentionally

August 29, 2011

Linda and I were talking on the phone the other day.

Me:  “Did you see the three photos she posted on Facebook of her vacation?”

Linda:  “Yes.  Where is she in those pictures?”

Me:  “She’s in all three!”

There was a moment of silence and then as soon as Linda started laughing, I realized what she had meant and I started laughing too.

Me:  “Oh, I see what you mean … Florida.”

(more laughter)

Linda:  “I see a blog post coming.”

Happy Monday!  May you recognize any opportunities for a shared laugh today.

Fast Slow-Cooker Lasagna

August 25, 2011

I have a great recipe for lasagna that I hardly ever make because it requires so much work.

But WeightWatchers has a really tasty, easy recipe for lasagna that you make in a large crock pot.  I made it recently and we really liked it — proven by the fact that we ate it warmed up for several more meals, until it was gone.  I see this recipe as being a regular for us from now on.

Note:  I made this in my large oval 5 1/2 qt. crock pot.  And while the published recipe says it is six servings, we found an 8th was plenty for us and we are not small-portion eaters.  What a nice change from recipes that figure servings so small they are unrealistic.  For any WW’s, an 8th is 8 PP WW points.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef (with 7% fat)

1 small onion, chopped (I used 3/4 C. frozen)

1 garlic clove, minced (I used 1 T. from the jar– we LIKE garlic)

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 t. salt

1 t. dried oregano

1/2 t. dried basil

1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 C. part-skim ricotta cheese

1 1/2 C. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

6 dry no-cook lasagna noodles

1/2 C. shredded Parmesan cheese, strong-flavored like Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Cook beef, onion and garlic stirring frequently, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes.  Simmer 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together the ricotta and 1 C. of the mozzarella.

Spoon 1/3 of the bef mixture into a 5 qt. slow cooker.  Break 3 lasagna sheets in half and arrange over beef mixture; top with half of the ricotta mixture.  Repeat.  Then put the final third of the beef on top.

Put lid on and cook on low setting for 4 to 6 hours (Sandy’s note:  4 hours was plenty when I did it).

When done, remove lid and turn off heat.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 C. of mozzarella with the Parmesan and sprinkle over the lasagna.  Put the lid back on and set aside until cheese melts and lasagna firms up, about 10 minutes.

The day I made this, I was in a hurry and was so glad that it only took about 15 minutes to get this started (I didn’t have to do any chopping because I used frozen onions and garlic from a jar).  And I was really glad when we got home four hours later and dinner was ready!

Eureka! A more exciting version of golf!

August 24, 2011

Golf is a really fun game in my opinion, but I know it isn’t for everyone.  In fact, I’ve had people tell me that they find it boring because they just see it as walking around a park, occasionally hitting a little white ball toward a hole.

Well, Suldog and I had an exchange in the comments section of my last post that might have produced an idea that could make golf much more exciting for people like Suldog who play softball or baseball.

What I’m thinking is that you could apply some of the excitement of his beloved game, fast-pitch softball, to mine of golf.

The one idea I had was that  after a golfer hit the ball onto the green, they would have to run at break-neck speed to the green with their putter and putt the ball into the hole before another golfer could chase them down and tag them with their club.  Now, that would make for exciting golf!

If you have any other ideas about how the  excitement of  Suldog’s game could be applied to golf, be sure to let me know.  I’ll give our suggestions to my golf league for next season.  They’ll need to know the new rules now, so that they can practice their running, sliding, spitting and scratching over the winter.

Stop, Stop, Stop! Go, Go, Go!

August 19, 2011


When Hubby was teaching young Gunny to drive, during one of their first lessons Gunny was at the wheel when they approached an intersection where they had a stop sign but the street they were crossing didn’t.

When Gunny didn’t start putting the break on, Hubby started saying, “Stop, Stop, Stop!”  But the new driver didn’t get stopped and was coasting into the middle of the intersection … and there was a car coming on the cross street!  So while Gunny was still trying to follow Hubby’s first instruction, Hubby then began yelling, “Go, Go, Go!”  Luckily, Gunny was able to stop trying to stop and start putting on the gas so that they were able to make it through the intersection without being hit.  While Gunny did learn to drive and drive well, the story still gets a laugh when it comes up occasionally at family gatherings.

But I was reminded of it last week when I was playing golf.  After I putted from way across the green toward the hole, I was worried that I hadn’t hit the ball hard enough and started saying, “Go, Go, Go!”  But then as it skirted the hole and started rolling down the sloping far side of the green, I changed my plea to “Stop, Stop, Stop!”.

Gunny may have wished that Hubby would make up his mind … and the ball may have wished the same of me.


Best Advice of the Week: Sweet Success!

August 15, 2011


When you bite the inside of your cheek or lip it really hurts, and depending on where the bite is, you may continue to re-bite it so that it won’t heal.

Well, years ago, someone told me to apply sugar to a spot like that to heal it, and it works.

I bit the inside of my lip on Friday and, as often happens, I then bit it several more times because of the swelling.  So over the weekend, three or four times a day I dampened my finger, pressed it into sugar and then put my sugared finger right on the spot and held it there for about a minute.  And today it is almost completely healed.

This works but I’m not so sure it would work if it was something like say, anchovies you had to apply.  Because I’m pretty sure I would rather have a sore mouth than have to apply anchovies to the inside of my mouth.

So I’m very thankful sugar is what works — sweet success.

Happy Monday!

Which of these is not like the other …

August 10, 2011


Today is the once a month lunch of former co-workers (friends)  from the large trucking manufacturer where we all worked (and two still do).  It is all women over fifty, so we are from the generation in which you dressed nicely for a lunch out with your friends, and we all usually do.  But this time I may stand out in the crowd, and not in a good way.

Today, my social calendar runneth over.  I had an invitation to play golf at 9:30 this morning from a friend who hasn’t been able to play very often this summer because of some health problems for her husband.  I just couldn’t say no.  But it happens to also be the day that our lunch group gets together, and I hate to miss that.

A tight timeline — golf at 9:30 for approximately one and a half hours — done at 11.  Lunch with work friends at 11:30.

So, I’ll be going directly from golf to lunch.

My friend, Linda, is the leader of our lunch group, so I’ll be giving her a call that I might be a little late and please go ahead and order my usual for me.

And, by the way, Linda, you might want to save a seat for me between two of our most hard–of-smelling friends.

It doesn’t happen too often, but once in a while retirement gets really busy!

Calling his bluff!

August 9, 2011

Recently when the kids and grandkids were here I cooked alot on the first day, so when Hubby and I got up on the second day, we had the following conversation:

Me:  “I have bad news:  The cook is tired of cooking.  We will either have to eat leftovers today or eat out.”

Hubby:  “Maybe I will just have to fire the cook!”

Me:  “Well, before you do that, I should warn you that she and the laundress are really close.  If you fire one, I’m pretty sure they will both leave.”

Hubby:  “Okay then.  Where you do want to go out to eat?”

The man knows when he’s on thin ice.  He could survive for a while without a cook, but as soon as I got home from Rehab, he “forgot” how to do laundry again, so he definitely doesn’t want to lose the laundress.  And, besides, they both make him laugh and tell him which colors go together.  He’d better keep them both around.

Fudge Cake (even better than Marian’s Chocolate Cake)

August 5, 2011

Yesterday I told you how much I liked Texas Sheet Cake when that recipe first arrived on the scene — and how it became known in our circle of friends as Marian’s Chocolate Cake”.  But I have since found a recipe that is a kissin’ cousin of the original Texas sheet cake, but even better.  Here it is:

Fudge Cake

Bring to a boil over medium high heat in a small sauce pan:

2 sticks BUTTER, 1 C. water and 4 heaping T. cocoa (not instant)

Meanwhile, combine in a large bowl:

2 C. flour, 2 C. sugar and 1 t. soda

Pour the boiled cocoa mixture over the flour mixture and mix well.  (Set the pan aside to re-use for the frosting.)

Add:  2 eggs, 1/2 C. buttermilk* and 1 t. vanilla.  Mix well.

Pour into a greased and floured jelly roll pan (edged cookie sheet).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes OR LESS (don’t overbake).  Ice warm.

Fudge Frosting:

Bring to a boil over medium high heat (re-use the pan that had already been used to boil the cocoa for the cake):

1 stick BUTTER, 6 level T. cocoa and 4 T. buttermilk*

Add 2 to 2 1/4 C. powdered sugar and 1 t. vanilla.  Mix well.  Spread over warm cake.  The frosting should be somewhat runny, but it will set up as it cools.

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, mix a cup of milk with a scant Tablespoon of lemon juice and let it set for a minute.  Then use that as a replacement.  There will be a little left that you can use if the frosting needs to be made a little runnier.

Chopped pecans can be added to the frosting, but I hardly ever do that.  Why mess with perfection?  Enjoy.

Note:  My friend, Linda has always been the best at making this cake.  Hers is always absolutely perfection.  We discussed that recently and the only thing she and I did differently was that I always mixed it with a spoon rather than a mixer.  So this time I used a mixer and it was as good as Linda’s!  So, I recommend you mix both the cake and the frosting with a mixer to make this cake it’s most moist and incredible.  BTW, she also slaps the pan down on the counter a few times to get rid of some of the air bubbles, before putting it in the oven — so I now do that too.  Linda’s now my cooking idol.

Marian’s Chocolate Cake

August 4, 2011

Right around the time Hubby and I were married, a new recipe was floating around — Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s hard to imagine this, but back then the only way recipes were shared was through other cooks, cookbooks or the occasional one in a magazine.  So, Mama started making this wonderful cake and and then gave me the recipe.  It was the first dessert I remember making that I thought, “This is REALLY good!”

When Gunny was a baby, Hubby was a bricklayer and I was a stay-at-home mom.  We lived in a small town with a volunteer fire department and our next-door-neighbor asked Hubby if he wanted to join.  Well, when Hubby joined, I soon realized I had joined too!  There was a Women’s Auxiliary for the women and it was very active and planned lots of get-togethers.  So, when we started attending all the fire department potlucks, I took my favorite chocolate cake.

There was one older woman who belonged to the Auxiliary named Marian.  A very nice lady whose husband had actually died, but she still belonged and was much loved by all.

When Marian tasted the sheet cake I had brought to a potluck, she loved it and asked for the recipe.  I gave it to her shortly thereafter.  For the next potluck I must have decided I didn’t want to look like a one trick pony and taken something else.  Because, lo and behold, Marian brought the Texas sheet cake and received all the raves and more that I had received when I brought it.

Long story short, Marian then brought the Texas sheet cake to every potluck from then on … and people always looked forward to and raved about “Marian’s Chocolate Cake”.

This didn’t stop me from sharing recipes, but I do still think of it sometimes when someone in a group asks for a recipe.  And I have said a time or two, if it was someone in a group that gets together regularly, “I’ll be glad to give it to you, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t bring it to this group, because I might want to bring it.”  That has always worked.

But, this has also made me very aware of how easy it would be, after receiving a recipe from someone, to inadvertently do what the sweet Marian did.  So I try to make sure that I don’t step on someone’s recipe “toes”.

One of life’s many lessons learned through, of all things, Marian’s Chocolate Cake.


don’t compare your accomplishments to others’ …

August 1, 2011


Remember when I tried zip lining about a month ago?  Even when I did it, I realized that going across a not terribly wide river at about 20 feet above the water wasn’t probably a very big zip line experience.  But little did I know!

When a golf friend returned from a vacation in West Virginia recently she told the lunch group that she had ridden a zip line 350 feet above a river!  Another friend chimed in that she had zip lined high up among the tree tops in a jungle in South America!  And someone else mentioned that in Hawaii she had zip lined between the peaks of two mountains!

Wow.  I didn’t kid myself that my zip line experience was a really big deal, but I had no idea what real zip lining must be like.  I know now that my experience compared to my friends’ is like comparing Tour de France competitors with me riding a bike around my neighborhood.

But, if nothing else I am a positive thinker.  So, while my friends’ experiences are impressive, I still savor being able to say I’ve zip lined — and I still enjoy the memory of the admiration my family gave me when I accomplished it.