Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Hump Day Smile or Laugh or Whateves...

So. My friend says that I should remind her not to drink a bottle of wine around her husband. I said that my initial thought was that the storyteller was pretty lucid....far more than me when I'm stone cold sober but think something is hilarious. Which I pretty much thought this was.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookies Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookies

350 oven. Makes approx 4 Dozen cookies

1/2 Cup peanut butter
1/4 Cup Earth Balance
1 Cup brown sugar
2 TBSP ground flax seed
1/3 Cup non-dairy milk of choice
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 Cup Arbonne chocolate protein powder
1 Cup oatmeal (quick or old fashioned, more texture with old fashioned)
1/3 Cup cocoa
1/3 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Cup dark chocolate chips

Mix all together in the order listed and blend/stir well so ingredients are all incorporated. You may have to use your hands, the dough might be crumbly depending on how heavy your peanut butter is, mine was fairly juicy. If you are really concerned add an additional TBSP or two of milk.

Chill dough for 1 hour. 

Scoop dough in walnut sized balls and either place on greased cookie sheet in scoops for rounded bite-sized cookies or flatten and place on cookie sheet for flatter cookies (again, the dough might be crumbly but should press together). Bake for 12 minutes. These are great served at room temperature but are best stored in the refrigerator. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Blueberry Banana Cobbler

I wouldn't consider myself a pastry diva on any level. Pie crusts have always kind of terrified me. So I usually go for a cobbler. I got a huge (quart sized) box of organic blueberries at Costco. And I had a family reunion to go to. So. I thought why not a blueberry cobbler. Then I thought, what if I skipped the fat and tried to keep the sugar to a minimum. And this is what came out. 

Blueberry Banana Cobbler

Grease an 8 x 11 pan.  Preheat oven to 350.

Fresh Blueberries (about 4 cups, give or take.) 
1/2 Cup sugar (this leaves them a wee bit tart) 

Dump the blueberries in the greased pan.  Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit. (If you are using frozen blueberries or if you think your berries are going to be a bit soupier you might want to sprinkle a 1/4 cup or so of flour on the bottom of the pan before you dump in the berries. 

Banana Cobbler Topping: 

1 1/2 Cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 Cup oatmeal
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Ripe bananas

Mash bananas in the bowl, add sugar and flour and mix well. Add the oatmeal and stir. Drop dollops of dough on top of the blueberry mix.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Din-Din Experiment...

Young Green Jackfruit in Water...Asian Market 

Amazing pulled pork texture after it's shredded and covered in BBQ sauce. New awesome meat substitute...

Cute lil cucumber...

Fresh picked green beans. Yum. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Few Amusing Vids...

Being lazy. Two videos that I found amusing of late. Have a great day/night/whateves. FYI, the cat did escape if that made you nervous....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Stuff

After my Grandma's funeral several of my out of area relatives were able to go through her little apartment and find some mementos of her to take with them. Surprisingly, we all have our own trigger items that make us feel close to Grandma and Grandpa. One cousin took the apple motif dishes, another wanted the case of bubbly yellow glasses. My brother wanted the grandfather clock that was my my grandfather's pride and joy. 

It also surprised me that the things in her kitchen drawer didn't find their way into my cousins and siblings small pile. Maybe it's because I'm the oldest female grandchild that Grandma's kitchen is the biggest warm memory for me. I'd think the boys would be all over that because my grandma was a great cook and did a lot of cooking over the years. 

Maybe it's because I got to help or that we would talk while she worked away at a pie crust or chopping. Anyway. I'm happy to have some additions to my kitchen drawers. And these items say so much about my grandma. For starters...the measuring spoons...vintage gold. The teaspoon marked with red fingernail polish. Even though grandma was losing her sight, she wasn't giving up on doing the things she loved doing. Baking was one of them. She was no victim. She found a way around her disability. What an awesome reminder for me every time I open my drawer. Never give up! 

I've mentioned her frugality. Oh my. The spreader screams frugality. She broke the tip off years ago. (My grandpa has been gone 19 years) Grandpa ground it back into a useable arc. Lesson? Broken, okay, let's just see what we can do to continue on and complete the task, shall we? 

The paring knife. I remember that knife in her hands, chopping, peeling, dicing. She was always using what was available to feed those who needed or wanted it. The forks, heirlooms from a long line of pioneer women cooks. And the pie server. Grandma was quite the pie baker and she'd be pleased that it's found it's way into my drawer, even though her pie skills never quite rubbed off on me. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Serials and Scenarios ~ A Heart Deceived ~ Review and Insight from the Author

Michelle Griep's latest, A Heart Deceived, is out. Read my review below. And Michelle did some serious research into some slightly unpleasant "practices" back in the day. She shares a bit with us as well. 

Welcome to the Asylum... Treatment for the Mentally Ill and Other Horrific Politically Incorrect Practices of Yesteryear
In the eighteenth century, medical care for the mentally ill was both a remedy and a punishment. What went on behind the ivy-covered walls of most mental institutions makes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seem like a five-star hotel stay.
Granted, the majority of doctors really were trying their best to help their patients, but a many of their practices only made things worse. Here’s a sampling of what might happen to you…
Think of riding a crazed merry-go-round on steroids. Feeling queasy? This was worse. The “Swinging Chair” is a contraption designed to spin the patient at high speed, which would induce vomiting, bladder evacuation, and eventually lull the poor little buddy into a tranquilized state of mind.
Ever had a really bad headache? Just thinking about this course of treatment makes my brain hurt. Trephining is an early form of lobotomy and was actually the first psychosurgery procedure to change socially unacceptable behaviors. Without getting too gory, just picture a huge drill bit hovering a breath away from your skull—only it doesn’t hover for long, if you know what I mean.
Shock Treatment
There’s nothing electrical about this kind of shocking treatment. The patient was left blindfolded on a platform, waiting, and waiting, and then bam! Suddenly the platform falls and he plunges into a tub of icy water, which was intended to shock the brain back into normalcy. Noise shock treatment was used as well, wherein an individual was again blindfolded and then without warning, a cannon behind them was shot off.
Besides these three, there was the usual bloodletting, purging, binding, and the attempt at good ol’ hypnosis. All this to say, an asylum was best avoided if at all possible—which is exactly what the heroine in my latest release, A HEART DECEIVED, is trying to do…
Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse. 

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. 

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

Fortunately, the mental health industry has come a long way since then, but if you’d like a glimpse into the roots of present day psychiatric care, pick up a copy of A HEART DECEIVED, a timeless tale of love, lies and redemption.
A HEART DECEIVED is available by David C. Cook and at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Keep up with the exploits of Michelle Griep at Writer Off the LeashFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

My Review of A Heart Deceived.

Michelle Griep has written about knights and Vikings in previous books. Both were fascinating time travel twisted romance novels. Her latest, A Heart Deceived, focuses in on just one time period, Georgian England. She paints a rich picture of social divisions and prepares the soil of story for characters who are struggling with more than just feelings and relationship issues.

Miri, her female lead character finds herself in a situation where she is a single woman at the mercy of her brother who seems to be slipping into insanity. He plans to wed her to the most repulsive man in the town because that man is willing to take Miri on. And willing to take any liberty he can when he manages to get Miri alone.

Ethan, a barely reformed opium addict, finds Jesus after being saved from the streets by John Newton. Ethan's friend, Will, is Miri's brother and after a tragedy, Ethan sets out to find her and break the news and hopefully find a safe haven away from the brutality of the streets.

Griep masterfully weaves a tale of intrigue and tension set within a darkly romantic era. Her characters are three dimensional and compelling. I found myself turning pages as quick as I could and reading just-one-chapter-more and okay-one-more late into the night.

I loved the mini history lessons lived out through the characters' lives and the ending was satisfying. I'm impressed with Griep's skills and strengths. A few scenes in the book will likely be too intense for the gentle reader. Griep peppers her word weaving with some spicy attraction scenes and some sense layering that includes visuals and olfactory details about the mean streets. There are characters who spend some time in a brothel, and obviously there is mention of drugs, addictions and side effects. In addition, there are some scenes that could be disturbing to self-diagnosed literary chickens. Consider the book a PG-13 rating. However, this is a great read for folks interested in English history, those who love a riveting story and rich characters. Need a plane or a beach read, this would be a perfect one. Cook, you continue to impress me with the novels you are publishing.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Lack

Blogging is part of my mental health regimen. Weird. I know. Probably a bit of what I say (or a lot) drives you nearly batty. But sometimes I feel better after I'm done. 

So thanks for that. 

Today I feel a little melancholy. 

Not drag out the black beret, but. 

I know it's because I'm grieving. And that it's natural and good that I grieve. I wouldn't ask Grandma back for even a second. She is fully engaged, beyond what any of us could imagine. No eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind has imagined.  Her dim eyes and dull ears fully grasp that statement from scripture. 

She also isn't concerned about any one of us. She trusts God to work out each of our life plans. She knows that He loves us far more than she ever could, and that Jesus died for each of her loved ones, just like He did for her. She knows that the Hound of Heaven can be relentless in His pursuit of those who seek truth. 

What is driving me on the melancholy mile is the awareness that life doesn't really pause for the important moments. The world doesn't stop spinning, or quirk it's head to hear better. Grandma simply stepped out of one reality and into another leaving us with a void. 

My grandma, though she has four other granddaughters and a handful of older voiced great granddaughters always knew my voice when I called. Three quarters deaf, she knew it was me. She also knew my business. Mom did a great job of keeping her apprised of the details of my life and the next time I'd chat with her she'd know about the latest details. Some of those details were sometimes garbled with the whole hearing issue. But she knew. 

I also might be feeling this void because I've lost someone who was praying for me. Do you suppose that what I'm feeling is one less prayer being said for me? And maybe this is a reminder that when I feel a little less covered I should enter the throne room and take things to God on behalf of my loved ones.. 

I also am very aware that Grandma was a tiny hub around which our extended family rotated. My cousins, my aunt and uncles... we have one less reason to gather together. We have now entered into the zone where we need to make our relationships intentional or we will lose touch. And that makes me sad. At least once a year we'd have a get together. Not everyone was able to join. But we saw each other every few years. Now, we could just drift away from each other on the currents on our separate lives. 

What can I learn from my Grandmother's life and her death? I will keep peeling away at the layers and choose to learn. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Lovely Little Beauties...

Amazing little squashes!  I sliced them and grilled them and sprinkled a bit of sea salt on them. Amazing. A side of green beans with sesame seed, almond, nutritional yeast and garlic "Parm" was amazing as well. Veggies are the best!!!
Flowers from Grandma.
She'd have loved this arrangement. However, nothing here touches what she's seeing in heaven. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ What Did You Say???

I have always been fascinated by graphology (the study of what your handwriting tells you about your personality/life/quirks) Strange fact. I once paid to have my handwriting analyzed. And what came back (though it was oh, probably twenty years ago and I don't really remember anymore) I was surprised about some of what it showed. I remember being a little spooked by it. And I also remember rethinking a relationship or two because of an insecurity that presented itself in my handwriting. Really weird it was. One of my friends posted this handy instagraphic on her blog so I thought I'd copy her. 

Below is a picture of my handwriting, in all it's not so polished glory. First thing in the morning, no coffee enhanced neatness...a scribbly mess. What does it tell you about me?  I think I can rule out that I lied during the test and that I don't have Parkinson's or schizophrenia. So what does it say that none of my l's, e's, o's, t's or i's look the same? And I don't do cursive s's. Am I pathological?
What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

What Does Your Handwriting Say About You? infographic

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

Protein and fiber filled good can these be? Not tasty at all, right? They have to taste healthy and not even be the bit tempting. 


These are so tasty I believe I'm not going to make any other version, ever. Why would I? They are satisfyingly chewy and crisp. Just enough sweet and just enough fat to make for a melt-in-your-mouthfeel. I imagine you could use another brand of protein powder with the same or similar results. I happen to sell Arbonne and am a fan of their Vegan certified protein powder. In addition these have omegas from the flaxseed and fiber from the flax, whole wheat pastry flour and oatmeal. 

Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies

350 oven. Makes approx 4 Dozen cookies

1/2 Cup coconut oil
1/4 Cup Earth Balance
1 Cup brown sugar
2 TBSP ground flax seed
1/3 Cup non-dairy milk of choice
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 Cup Arbonne vanilla protein powder
1 Cup oatmeal (quick or old fashioned, more texture with old fashioned)
1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Cup dark chocolate chips

Mix all together in the order listed and blend/stir well so ingredients are all incorporated. 

Chill dough for 1 hour. 

Scoop dough on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. These are great served at room temperature but are best stored in the refrigerator. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Transformed

Yesterday my grandma Elizabeth experienced yet one more transformation in her life. 

Born in 1918 she experienced wars, depression, countless natural disasters, and the lives and deaths of so very many people. 

When grandma was born they didn't think she'd survive. She was too small and was set aside, only to fight her own battle for life. Born, when she was, in an era where the lives of children were viewed a little differently, and many didn't live to see adulthood. At four she was able to pick up a phonograph record (the extreme pre-I-Tunes form of music) and know what the song was. Her aunt told her mother not to love talented Elizabeth too much. That the special ones always died young. 

Grandma found her own mother peacefully absent from her body one afternoon. Weeks earlier she'd experienced a similar scare and it prepared her for the real deal. Grandma was widowed nearly two decades ago. Many other loved ones have gone before her. 

My grandma taught me that bacon fat had it's place in baked goods. That strong coffee made a lovely addition to chocolate frosting. And that honey in a saucer wasn't to be taken literally. She taught me that popcorn was okay for dinner on Sunday nights and that when she said "Good Night!!!" I'd better skeedadle to bed or head for the hills because she was done! 

Grandma could be counted on to have cookies around. And she could be counted on to laugh, as long as things didn't get too inappropriate. One of the funny movies we liked did not translate well once the "filthy" language had gone through the Grandma filter. And my innocent little five-year-old nearly had a stroke when she accused him of saying "the F-word". Apparently, I hadn't coached him that Fart was illegal to say in Kansas. 

Grandma had been struggling with her eyesight over the past few years, losing most of it to macular degeneration. And her hearing was dim making family gatherings difficult for her. 

Grandma didn't always love Jesus. She survived a World War, child rearing and the Great Depression without Him. But once He entered into the picture He became vastly important to her. And she was a Bible answer woman of great faith. Another legacy and a far more important one than bacon in baked goods (clearly, I've abandoned that what with the whole Vegan thing) and the proper care and serving of honey. Her frugality amazed me, and put her into legendary status. Did you know that the inner heavy plastic bag inside a cereal box has multiple uses? It's exceptionally handy as a plastic wrap substitute and can be used over and over again. 

Grandma's growing frailty was a frustration to her. She couldn't see and hear well enough to do some of the things she loved. And sometimes she would lose her balance. Her lungs were a little prone to bronchitis and other baddies. My pharmacist dad kept her in vitamins and supplements and other than a little bit of help for aches and pains and some asthma relief, she didn't need pharmaceuticals. Her little frugal self was pretty proud of that, we all know how much those co-pays are. 

Her death shocks me. Partially because Grandma is perpetually in her late 50's in my childish awareness that I could never shake. Partially, because even though she struggled with vision and hearing, she still did the things she wanted to do. Not that long ago she was regularly going on walkabouts to the bank that was a few blocks away. And the last time I took her to the grocery store my daughter and I could hardly keep up with her. 

A few months ago I dropped some lunch by her place. When I walked in she was sleeping on her enclosed sun porch and I didn't want to wake her. She looked so frail I had a little shiver of fear. I called my Mom and she told me to wake her and so I did. Grandma had fallen in the night and ripped open her arm. She didn't want to call anyone and bother them, but was a little worried. I called my folks and brother. My brother lives close and he zipped over. We started to unwrap her injury to see how bad it was and we both got weak in the knees. She went to the emergency room (after much protesting) and got stitched up. Yesterday, she decided to do a little gardening and she took another tumble. And fell right into the waiting arms of Jesus. 

She was born before televisions were in houses, let alone nearly every bedroom in America. She saw life bound from record players to I-Phones. Her first home probably cost less than our last used car. She ate organic when it wasn't cool, and has been a recycler all of her life.  Nuclear power hung over a portion of her life like a mushroom cloud. She lived through scads of presidents, and respected a few. As a young woman she'd never have considered anything like a computer and then benefitted from the computer age through her grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

My mom just told me that they had taken a recording of one of Grandma's favorite television preachers over the other day. She was excited to share what she learned with my mom. Through that preacher God had finally answered a question she'd had ever since she read about it. Why had Satan and an angel argued over the body of Moses? The preacher explained that because the Israelites had followed Moses into the parted Red Sea they were symbolically baptized into God's plan for the Israelite people. And Satan did not want that victory, that ownership to go where it belonged.  

Pretty awesome. My 95 year-old grandma was learning right up until she took her last breath. And that my stubborn, strong-willed-little-prairie-woman of a grandma died while she was living.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Little Privacy Puhleeze, Really...

I know I've ranted about this before. But, bear with me. The other day I went on a walkabout down the hall to the public restroom. Seriously, twenty percent of the time I enter that bathroom, someone is on the phone in a stall. I used to try to soften my sounds of urinating and flushing, but at this point, I'm just going with it. The toilets are auto flush anyhoo, so why should I try to be quiet, ya know? 

So while I was doing my business, I actually overheard the toilet talker apologize for the flushing sounds and admit she was in the bathroom... And who was she calling?  Upon easy eavesdropping, the doctor's office a hundred yards away from her. Yes, she was trying to set up a procedure, in the bathroom, on the toilet, just down the hall from the reception desk.

Just saying..... 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Watermelon Cauliflower Ceviche

One of the meat dishes I miss the flavor and texture of is Shrimp Ceviche. 

However, I don't miss it enough to cave. So. I considered what was in the dish that I liked. Texture was a biggie. The slight give, the crunch, the different mouth feels. 

The flavor. The fishy shrimp wasn't really the flavor I wanted, it was the refreshing lime and cilantro bite. This all came together for me when I ran across a recipe for Shrimp and Watermelon Ceviche. 

Ah ha. Here we go. Cauliflower and Watermelon Ceviche. Why not? I had both on hand. The cauliflower gives it a nice fleshy bite to mimic the shrimp and a strong flavor as well.

If you want a sweeter version, you might want to consider adding a little agave. I loved the bite of lime, my husband thought it a bit harsh. Depends on your taste buds. But here's what I came up with and I think it's a keeper. 

2 Cups of small cauliflower florets
2/3 Cups of lime juice (about three limes)
2 Cups of seedless watermelon cubes
1/2 Cup finely diced onion
1 TBSP cilantro paste or 1/2 Cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 TBSP minced jalapeƱo 

Put all together in a bowl and let marinate at least an hour, overnight would be even better. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Good Idea, Nearly Delish Fail...

Tasty idea that almost, almost made it to a top ten list. 

I need to work on the crust of this bad boy. But. I'll share the idea. If you love smores, you might want to work on your own crust. 

You could use the whole crushed graham crackers, a little bit of Earth Balance, pressed into a 9 x 13 pan. Or cookie dough of your choice baked until done. 

Then dump 1 1/2 or 2  cups of chocolate chips over the crust and allow them to soften from the heat of the crust. (If you don't bake the crust, you might want to melt the chips with a TBSP of coconut oil or peanut butter and pour over the crust. Use a bag of Dandies marshmallows. Cut each one in half (I used the standard sized bag and the large size of marshmallows if they come in other sizes...) 

Toss the marshmallows onto the chocolate and press down. Stick under the broiler and toast them until they turn golden and start to melt. 

Cool for ten minutes or so. Then cut into bars.  

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ` And Then....

Toad Boy (aka my son) has this catch phrase that he uses frequently. It's designed to get a reaction from listeners and usually that reaction is a laugh. 

He is full of stories and most of them are hilarious. He, unfortunately, inherited the even-if-I'm-the-only-one-laughing,-at-least-someone-is, syndrome. From me. Of course. 

His schtick is when a story gets a bit dry (this NEVER happens in stories where he is driving, those are fraught with laughter and tension) he will toss in the phrase. "And then I found five dollars." Which is designed to make a dull story "interesting." 

Yesterday at work, we had a few men who had back to back chest xrays and ekgs. The ekg nurse found a folded up five dollar bill on the floor during ekg number three. She told the guy it had fallen out of his pocket. He said, no, it wasn't his. So I took it to the waiting room and asked number two if it was his. Nope. Number one had left after his bloodwork so the receptionist gave him a call. And bingo. 

Of course, I immediately texted Toad Boy. He said that guaranteed anything that happened that day would indeed be interesting in the retelling. 

Okay. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe if I offered you five dollars. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Scraps and Snippets ~ Infamy...

My nutso friend Michelle dropped in a few weeks ago. She has written a new historical that required a recipe for orange marmalade. And since boiling hot, sticky liquid and two slightly deranged women were involved, we decided it needed a video. So. Here you go. Enjoy. And if you like her quirk, you'll love her writing, unless you are a scaredy cat...