Homemade Bagels

bagel

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Today I am grateful for homemade bagels.  Really.  Homemade.  Since Weight Watchers has revamped their program the shared recipes are flying fast and furious.

 

I’m not a fan of Greek yogurt, but two recipes I got last Saturday called for the stuff so I bought some.  Geeze, could they put it in something smaller than a 5 gallon pail?  Or is that just what something you don’t care for looks like?

 

So today while chatting on the phone with my sister I told her I was making bagels.  “You have to boil them,” she said.  I knew that. . .sort of. . .but throwing dough into boiling water just seems weird.  I asked how long to boil them and she didn’t know.  I didn’t bother asking Siri because she’s pissing me off these days because she doesn’t answer me verbally and makes me read the tiny print which is the opposite size of the barrel of Greek yogurt.  So I winged it.  I’m a real risk-taker. That’s how I roll.

 

Someone at my WW class said they use the Everything Bagel sprinkle stuff they buy at Trader Joe’s.  I don’t go there, but it occurred to me that I already had “everything” except sesame seeds in my cabinet, so I mixed up poppy seeds, dry onion, dry garlic and coarse salt that I got a billion years ago at the honest-to-God salt mine in Salzburg, Austria.  Here’s the recipe as I got it.

 

Set oven for 350 degrees

1 Cup SELF-RISING Flour

½ Cup plain Greek yogurt

1 egg for egg wash

(Makes two bagels – 2 points per)

 

There were no other instructions.  I swear.  So I dumped a cup of flour in a bowl and measured a half cup of yogurt and mixed.  My tip is to be careful about the amount of flour.  I would have used less because I expected it to be more workable with my hands, but it was a bit dry.  I already had the oven ready and a pot of water boiling away on the stove.  Now all I had to do was make the blasted bagels look like. . .well. . . bagels.

 

I got a big laugh at class when I asked how you get the hole in them.  I was told you roll them like a hotdog and then join them.  Mine didn’t join.  They refused to join.  Each end was like the third sibling sitting in the middle of the back seat on a long road trip who refused to be touched by the others.  I’d push and pinch them together and they popped apart.  Just like kids when you try to force a hug.

 

Plan B.  I mashed them on the board and poked my finger through them.  Voila!  A hole.  Sort of.  Then I popped one into the boiling water.  Poof!  It puffed up a little bit immediately.  Oh this is fun!

 

I don’t know how long I boiled it.  Maybe two minutes.  And I flipped it a few times but not because it had to be turned but because it was kinda fun.  Then I scooped it out and put it in a drainer and threw the other one in.  While that was having fun boiling I put the first one on a sprayed tray, brushed it with the egg wash, then dumped a bunch of homemade “everything” stuff on it.  I did the same thing with the other one and shoved them in the oven.

 

Twenty minutes wasn’t enough.  Neither was 25.  But at the half hour point they smelled and looked very good.  I was going to cool them and make a sandwich, but decided to use a very little bit of butter and eat one hot.  Fantastic!

 

Who know homemade bagels could be this good!?  Certainly not me.  All that dough for 2 points?  Yup, I’ll make these again, only I’ll use a little less flour or a little more yogurt to get the texture right.

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Happy

a happy quote about smile

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today I am grateful for the word “happy”.  We watched the news today and I have to tell you, it is difficult.  I don’t allow myself to watch too much because I need to maintain my sunny disposition.  I don’t want to swirl down the vortex of despair.

 

How can any responsible human being, who lives in the United States of America especially, but other countries, to not be concerned on many levels.  There has to be something that doesn’t set right with even those who don’t see things as I do, if they are being honest with themselves.  I hope they can be.

 

The situation in Hawaii, which must have been an emotional nightmare; the lies out of our seat of government; the blatant racism; the parents who starved and shackled their children so cruelly that the adult, 29 year old, looked like she was an underdeveloped fifteen year old; the horrible fires and subsequent mud-slides in California; the dreadful ice storms causing those in the south to crash into each other; the possible government shutdown and the continuing poking of the bear, North Korea.

 

I don’t know how news people do it.  I want to be a good citizen and keep my head out of the sand, but I can’t digest all of this.  So I’m not.  Instead I’m going to focus on a little boy I saw at the end of the evening news.  His sister was playing the guitar and the sweet guy, who is missing a chromosome and not expected to speak for many years, was sitting on the floor next to her.

 

As she strummed and sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. . .” he rocked and bounced around to the music.  When she got to the line “you make me. . .” she waited.  And waited, until he sang, “HAP. . .”  And she waited.  And waited, until he finished the word, “. . .PY!” Then she continued on strumming and sang “When skies are gray.” And the rest.  Oh my.

 

It was beautiful.  She just sat there, fingers on strings, waiting for him to spit out the whole word, knowing he would and not caring how long it took.  Metaphorically the skies of my country pretty gray these days.  But I’m going keep my fingers on the strings and wait, and wait, and wait.  And then I’m going to choose “HAP – PY” no matter how long it takes for me to fully feel it.  BING!  Heartprint!

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Psychic Me

a football on fire

Monday, January 15, 2018

Today I am grateful to be a psychic.  Like many of you, I have had little psychic moments in the past, yet I’m married to a skeptic.  But these days the moon must be in the right place because I’ve had a couple of them come to pass.  One doesn’t matter, the other might have made a believer out of Himself.

 

First please understand that I know virtually nothing important about football.  I know there’s an oblong ball (which I can get a pretty good spiral on when I throw it), a large field, too tight pants (not a bad thing) and a lot of dreadlocks of various colors these days.  I have picked up something about “downs” happening every few yards, but I don’t think it has anything to do with Churchill Downs or Downton Abbey so I  don’t care very much.  Most times I can at least see the ball, unlike professional ice hockey where they could take that puck totally out of the game and I wouldn’t know the difference.

 

So here’s how it went during the Saints (New Orleans) and Vikings (Minnesota) game yesterday. Aren’t you impressed already that I knew those names.  I am.  Himself was unsure who to even root for because the winner would be playing the Eagles next week. Our son and his daughter had left about an hour earlier and he and his dad were deciding that a frozen tundra team playing on cold Philly fields would be fun. They threw allegiance to the Vikings who were back and forth winning and losing for 12 hours or two days, or however long a stupid game is.  The kid and his kid were long gone by now and the Vikings were losing again, but only by one point.

 

In the last seconds Himself was on the edge of his seat, sometimes standing as though they were calling him into the game lineup, chomping on his fingernails.  I glanced up from my computer, noticed the measly amount of time on the clock and said, “The only thing that will save them now is a Hail Mary.”  What is a Hail Mary?  No clue.  I just know that in my family of sons and husband there are hoots and screams and a lot of high-fiving when one happens.  With their team.  With the opposition, not so much.

 

I like the last 20 seconds of any game because that means it’s almost over.  Finally!  So I watched.  Some guy threw the ball.  Another guy caught it, tripped a little and then ran like a bat-outta-hell.  The right way.  A roar grew in the crowd and rumbled like an earth quake.  Himself leaped off the couch, shouting, “Go, go, GO!!!!  Oh my God!  They did it!”  Then. . .as if a little frightened . . .he stopped screaming and stared at me for way too long, until I asked, “A Hail Mary?”  He nodded, unable to speak for a moment.  “Told you so!”  I bragged, “and you’re welcome.” He shook his head and muttered.

 

No, I won’t be giving out any predictions on the next game, yet, because you can’t force these things.  You have to let them arrive on their own.   But you can bet Himself will be paying more attention to my comments from now on.  I only hope at mid-game I don’t ask Himself who’s pitching!

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West African Peanut Stew

Friday, January 12, 2018

Today I am grateful for West African Peanut Stew, a recipe I found in The Inquirer.  I bought the ingredients for this little gem a week ago, but did not make it because I had guests.  Most times I don’t like to “experiment” on guests.  That’s strictly for me.  When I give it a stamp of approval, then I can serve to others.  So grab your spoons and come on over because although more like a thick soup. . .this is DELICIOUS!!!!

 

I spent a lot of time today thinking about immigrants because having them in my country means everything to me, but I wondered what it meant to the rest of America.  So I thought of all of the small ways that immigrants have enhanced our lives and came up with quite a list.  Very many of them do jobs that those born here would not do.  Others weave our land with a tapestry of culture that positively affects all of us.

 

There are many outstanding immigrants, from nurses, doctors, researchers, specialists in the medical profession.  Our lawn and snow removal is tended to by Immigrants.  I get my pedicure from Immigrants.  I have served on committees with Immigrants from many nations.  Our schools are full of immigrants both in the desks and behind them as teachers.  An immigrant altered the dress I wore to my son’s wedding.  Taxi’s, buses, trains, planes all have immigrants running them.  America has very many immigrants who are politicians, actors, singers, poets, writers, and in the military.  Yes, in the military, the ultimate commitment for anyone, born here or not.  I urge you to add to the list.

 

Not only that, I tried to imagine the lives of people I know without the cultural of immigrants.  Imagine the arts. . .writing, paintings, dance, theater without immigrants.   What about the food that immigrants have introduced to America?  Can you picture life without Chinese, Indian, Italian take-out?  I sure can’t.  And I don’t want to.

 

The truth is that unless you are Native American you are an immigrant.  We all have immigrant blood.  That’s what our nation is built on.  We are not a country of misfits, we are a country of fine, outstanding, honest, law abiding, empathetic, caring, wonderful, human immigrants.  We want our families to be happy and healthy just like people everywhere.  Well, most of us are all of those things, anyway.  Some not so much.  That makes me angry.  And sad. Very sad.

 

So today I decided to celebrate West Africa by making the delicious recipe I clipped last week.  I thought of people in Nigeria who would probably feed twelve families with the amount of food this made.  I thought of others on the continent of Africa who  endured genocide.  And I thought of so many other people from so many other nations who long to be free.  I welcome them.

 

I hope each immigrant shares his/her rich cultural heritage with the rest of us.  I might make a recipe from a different country every week for a while, just to make myself feel better and remind me of whom I am as an American.  How about something from Haiti next week?!

 

(The Recipe for West African Peanut Stew–more like soup) is below.  ****Stars- Fantastic!)

West African Peanut Stew

Mary Mooney’s opinion?  **** Stars – DELICIOUS!!!!!

Serves 12

Per Serving: 477 calories, 21 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 502 mg sodium, 13g sugar  (I used low fat peanut butter and not quite as much, but I did not use low sodium broth.)

With the smart points calculator this figures out to 15 pts a serving, but now that chicken is no points I’m sure it’s less.  Also less with low fat peanut butter, too.  I think 8-10 points depending on serving size which would probably be about two cups.

Also:  After tasting this I believe you could easily make it vegetarian by using white beans instead of chicken. . .and also lower the Weight Watchers points by using white beans instead of the sweet potatoes and still keep the chicken in.

¼ C vegetable oil

3 C chopped onion

2 T chopped garlic

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (About 2-3 depending on size)

1 T grated FRESH ginger

1 T mild curry powder

6 Cups chopped sweet potatoes (canned or fresh; if using fresh, increase cooking time to 1 hour) (I used fresh and “sweet potatoes” not Yams.)

6 Cups kale, rinsed and chopped (I bought it already chopped and ready to go)

2 cups canned diced tomatoes

½ gallon low sodium chicken broth (8 cups) ( I used 8 cups of water and 8 Herb Ox                    chicken bouillon cubes.)

1 ½ Cups peanut butter (I used reduced fat peanut butter and a little less) 

 

  1. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (I tried a dutch oven but it wasn’t big enough so I had to transfer it to a soup pot.)
  2. Add the oi, onions, garlic, cubed chicken, ginger, and curry powder.

Cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes.

  1. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  (60 if fresh sweet potatoes.)

 

Credit to The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper –  Food Section.

 

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Parents Letting Go

IMG_4590

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Today I am grateful when parents let go.  No, I’m not going to start singing that annoying song from Frozen and I apologize because now you will have the first lines running through your brain until you think of another song.  Sorry.  I’m talking about strong, smart, confident parents who realize that a big part of having kids is finding the ability to let them go, experience, fly without them.  Like the parents of the two young people we just met, Ines and Jun.

 

It wasn’t until long after we returned from our three years in Jakarta, Indonesia that I realized how difficult our leaving must have been for our youngest son, who was in his first year of college.  That’s a tough time, especially when you don’t know where you’re going to go on school breaks.  He did a lot of couch surfing.  He was not very clingy and seemed very glad to get rid of us, but I doubt he really knew what that meant any more than we did.  I was struggling in a completely different culture 10,000 miles away and almost no help to him.  I feel bad about that.  Yet he thrived.

 

I believe all parents since the beginning of time have wondered if they were doing a good enough job raising their kids.  I believe they always will.  They know they’ve made mistakes, even if they’re not exactly sure what they were every time.  They know they did some things right and might not be sure what there, either.  But it isn’t until you gently shove those kids out of the nest like a mother bird does to her offspring, that you see the results of your efforts.  Sometimes it takes years.

 

I can pinpoint the times when I realized our sons had become men.  We visited the oldest, a step-kid who always lived on peanut butter & jelly, when he and his family were in Oklahoma.  After work he organized and cooked a four course meal for us.  Wow.  No jelly in sight.

 

I went to the classroom of a tough Philly school where my oldest was teaching middle school math and saw the respect the kids and other teachers had for him and it blew me away.  How could this kid who drove me nuts hiding his homework under the outside steps be standing here as a respected adult?

 

After college my youngest son (the one we abandoned when we went to Jakarta) got a great management job working for a company that provides food services for stadiums and corporations.  I was working at a big office complex when he showed up for a sales call with a couple of guys he was the training.  I watched him in his gray suit, pressed shirt and colorful tie and wondered where I was when this happened?

 

Those of us with grown kids get it.  That is why I want to speak directly to the parents of Ines and Jun, who have watched their kids traverse the world solo.

 

First to Ines’ mom, in Germany:  For the last 15 years, after the death of your husband, you were her primary parent.  I did that for a short time so I know how difficult it can be to not have someone to check with when you have doubts.  From what she told us you sound like a forward-thinking, brave woman yourself, so it is easy to see where Ines gets her courage.  Travelling as a twenty-year-old woman, alone, is not for the weak and fearful.  Neither is being her mother!  I’m sure you had more than one moment where you worried terribly whether she was safe, hungry and healthy.  How could you not?  You’re her mom.  What kids don’t realize is that it is the lifetime job of a parent to have those emotions, even while we keep them to ourselves and watch our children move on.  I am a pretty good judge of character and I am going to tell you that you did a fantastic job raising her.  She is a poised, funny, kind, adventurous and realistic young woman.  I will not say she’s fearless because I think to travel alone you need to maintain a small amount of respectful fear just to be safe.  She has good gut instincts and the confidence to listen to herself when she needs to.  Be proud.  Your letting her go is helping her fly.

 

Second to the parents of Jun, in Japan:  What a fine, fine young man you have raised!  I know that mom does not like his newly shaved head and I totally understand.  Hair grows.  It was not an act of rebellion, in my opinion, but rather a curiosity because so many Americans shave their heads.  I had looked up pictures of him when I knew he would stay with us and remember thinking what wonderful hair he had.  Then he showed up bald.  Too funny, but since I have only met him that way I will probably not recognize him with hair.  We had wonderful, long conversations and I can assure you that your son has his head on straight.  He helped me understand many little cultural things, including the before and after meal thanks and why it is said.  He talked about applying for jobs and cars and design and art and languages and travel.  You are not able to carry conversations on these things if your parents are not willing to discuss them, too.  Because we were expected to have household staff when we lived in Jakarta, I asked him if you have help, too.  He said, “Yes.  ME!”  I laughed and laughed because that is exactly what my own boys would have said. . .and FYI-I have a son who shaves his head, too.  Boys!  Jun also explained the lack of tattoos in Japan and seems to respect that part of your culture.  I don’t see him getting a tattoo in the future, but since he has such an interesting sense of humor he will probably torture you into thinking he might.  My kids would have, too. (And still do.)  Please know that he was the most gracious house guest possible.  He cleared his dishes, made his bed, didn’t leave his things all over the house and was so much fun to cook for.  That boy/man can eat!!!!  It was fun explaining the American term “hollow leg” to him.  Ask him about it.  We had long discussions about art and design and cars and the importance of education.  You need to know that you have done a fantastic job raising him.  He has a gentle kindness that is rare in someone so young.  Be proud.  Your boy is growing into a wonderful man and he could not do that if you were not willing to encourage him to take risks.

 

I know this blog post is much longer than they usually are, but I don’t care.  See, Ines, that’s how you speak from your heart. . .without worrying about if someone has decided not to finish reading because it’s too long.  Haha.  Ines and Jun, when you next see them, I want both of you to hug your parents and spend time telling them how grateful you are for their support.  They are why you have the confidenceto travel the world, discover who you are, and what you are made of.

 

And always remember. . .You’ve got a friend(s) in Pennsylvania!. . .Me!  Who, ironically, is having a little bit of trouble letting you go.  But I will.  Just like your parents!  Now fly!

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Above & Beyond

a guy in a hippo cartoon

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Today I am grateful for people who go above and beyond.  Yesterday when I posted that our furnace was out, I was gob-smacked with offers of help from so many people that it took my breath away.

 

Himself placed the first call to the company whose sticker is on the furnace and they said someone would be here between noon and four.  At four – no word and no person.  I suggested he call again.  This is not my first rodeo.  He did and since he had the phone on speaker even I heard, “Yes, Mr. Mooney. They will be coming to you next.”  Okay, great. He cranked the space heater up another notch and settle in with his popcorn and remote.

 

Our houseguest, his traveling partner and our friends were going to join us for a simple dinner, so I figured by that time the heat would be on.  When five came and went and no one showed up or called, I “suggested” he call again.  Closed.  He got the emergency line and left a message.  What is it about these places that people are so inefficient?  Can no one do their total jobs, including follow-through?  It boggles the mind.

 

A man called us back and we explained what had happened.  He said, “It is after hours so I will have to charge you the emergency rate.”  No, thank you.  I didn’t hit the roof, but almost.  He finally agreed to trust us when we said we had called and what they told us.   I said he needed to take this up with his company who had been ineffectual not just once, but twice.

 

Because my computer is warm, I stayed on line with it on my lap.  That’s my story.  I was really screwing off until I needed to finish dinner stuff.  Then my phone started to ring, my message box filled up and the texts came in at rapid-fire rate.  We were offered shelter for the night at maybe four different homes, one of which is in Wisconsin and I considered it because I love those people and especially love their dog.

 

People I only know from Facebook and have never met were prepared to lend us space heaters and offered sound advice if we had to go the night without heat.  Others I do know were ready to drive over in a sleet storm, with more space heaters if we needed them.  If I had accepted all of the kind offers our house would have felt like Jakarta without the humidity.  Himself would be happy, I’d be melted.  Thank you to all. Your generosity blows my mind.

 

Fast forward to 6:20 and when the repair man finally walks in the door.  My dinner guests arrive at 6:25.  So much for well-timed plans.   The repairman was fantastic and fixed the problem in less than 20 minutes.  Pulled-pork in the crock pot can hold, so all was well.

 

Here are my Pollyanna thoughts on the furnace debacle.

  • It wasn’t a Sunday, when rates are way higher and help impossible to come by.
  • The outside temperature had also risen from cold as the tundra, too cold as Canada, so that’s good.
  • We have a space heater I got Himself for his birthday so he can make the bathroom into a Swedish Sauna before taking a shower.
  • While the repairman was not initially happy on the phone, he was great once here.
  • The furnace was not completely busted.
  • A stuck pressure switch and its installation “only” cost $256.20. . .a bargain in the big picture.
  • And last – we have a credit card, even if it goes TILT!

 

But the best thing I learned was if I ever need any kind of help again, I’m hitting the Facebook links.  You people go above and beyond!  And I am very grateful.  Always!

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Central Heating

a hooded me with no heat.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Today I am grateful for central heating.  And I wish we had some.  We had it last night.  We had it during the worst of the recent cold spell.  We even had it this morning.  And then we didn’t.  Just like that.

 

I learned of this little fact when I called home from the Y after water aerobics this morning.  We have a young houseguest from Japan for a few days and I was checking if he was up, had eaten what I left for him and to see if all was well.  It was, with him.  Not so much with the furnace.  It died sometime between the time I left and when I called.

 

So when I got home I had Himself get out the small space heater.  It helps a little.  And I lit every candle and turned on every light in the house, which also helps, but not much anymore as it gets cooler and cooler in here.  When it’s cool we both feel like we have to pee more often.  Tomorrows post will probably be about the dual concussions we got racing into the bathroom at the same time.

 

I refuse to say it’s cold and will pull this hood off when Himself gets back home.  If he ever turns off the car heater and actually comes in the house.  Because he is acting like we are living in a cardboard box on the shores of Lake Michigan.

 

The “guy” will be here between noon and 4.  I sure hope it’s sooner rather than later,  because I have to stop every so often and stick my frozen fingers under the laptop to heat them up  a little.

 

There is good news.  The single digit temperatures have passed along with the torturous winds.  It is also Monday and not Sunday, where we would be paying double time for someone to come out.  See how positive I can be?  Frostbite does that to me.

 

I’m so grateful for heat.  I can’t wait until I can turn it back on.  And it works!

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