Cooking · Food · Musings

Tackling the Mental Pantry

Vocabulary matters in ways we don’t consider. It will help us or hinder all our hard work.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time lately checking out food lists, meal prep ideas, weight loss ideas (I refuse to use the word “diet”) among other things.

Why? Because I wanted to learn what tricks and tools worked and what didn’t.

What did I learn? Something I’ve always known: One Size Does Not Fit All. Or, one plan does not fit all.

The first thing that struck me was the reality that there really is no need for me to create a food list for you. That is something you should be doing for yourself.

Before you panic, consider: Who knows you best? What do you like to eat? What do you hate to even think about eating? What are your allergies?

I’ve been developing a questionnaire that will hopefully help you get an idea of what you like, don’t like, are interested in, etc. This is based on an old Graham Kerr project that made me sit back and think about food. Not just the “what’s in the fridge?” question, but (no pun intended) food for thought about, well, food.

Combine that with whatever eating plan you’ve chosen for yourself – or are considering – and you will have the foundation for meal building blocks.

The second thing to consider is this: If you don’t live alone, your eating plan will have to include the other members of your home. Why? Because unless you want to set yourself up to fail, your meals should include everyone in your home.

That is one reason I refuse to use the word “diet”. That word has negative connotations everywhere. It is thought of as temporary. A punishment. Something you do that isn’t enjoyable or fun. Sort of like “exercise”.

Yeah, that word. 🙂

So, in the meantime, I’d like you to think about what you have in your pantry, where you like to eat, what you like to eat and what you might like to try.

This isn’t homework in the sense that you will be graded. It is homework in the sense that you will be setting yourself up to succeed and enjoy a new adventure.



Kitchen Thoughts

Fall is the time we seem to be ready to plan more or at least organize more in the kitchen.

With the kids back to school, schedules are a bit hectic and if both parents work outside the home, life can be a bit…crazy. If they work at home … crazier? LOL!

A while back I started thinking about our relationship to food and health and all the hype that is included. Part of this came from a group I belong to on Facebook. Several members are looking for ways to lose weight and get healthy. Some are learning that food is, in itself, a whole new world.

I started digging around looking for food lists and ideas and realized that for pretty much every “diet” or “food plan” out there, there is a list. A list of what you can eat and what you can’t and all the “by the way”s that go with the plan.

So, I decided to avoid the pitfalls of preparing food lists for you, but to build on some simple, easy to manage ideas that could help you make the most of your budget, your pantry, your time and your interest.

The biggest thing that everyone needs to deal with in relation to “diet” is determining their level of engagement.

There is no “best” plan or “best” organization. Every body is different and the way that particular body deals with food is different from any other body.

What that means is that you, as the guide on this cruise, decides the level of engagement. Are you in full time or going to test the waters? Have you made up your mind to live the life or just until you get bored?

Hey, I know how that sounds, but over the years I’ve learned that the biggest obstacle to weight loss or health success is the person doing the work. Around here “diet” is a no-no. Why? Because it has a negative connotation. People see or hear that word and they think “punishment”.

To be honest, living a healthy or healthier lifestyle is a 24/7/365 way of life. No, it won’t be 100% perfect, because no Human Being is 100% perfect. We all have our good days and our bad.

So, all that being said, whatever direction you choose to go is up to you. Here, I will be talking about ways to make your experience more livable. I’d like to share tips and tricks that will help you be successful with whatever plan you decide to use.

I’m a firm believer that if you have good information you will be able to make better tasting meals that will help you achieve your goals. If you are not on a food plan, but looking for ways to get your food budget in check, I can help with that, too.

You can visit my Facebook page and follow the conversation there or comment below. I’d like to hear what issues you are dealing with when it comes to preparing menus, saving time in the kitchen and finding recipes that you could include in your cooking.

A word of caution: I will be providing recipes that might, or might not, work for whatever plan you are using. I will also be providing recipes that won’t meet any plan guidelines. My particular journey is to eat foods as close to the farm as possible using some convenience products that are accessible in most grocery stores. I do not use any artificial sweeteners or margarine. I also do not care for overly spicy foods.

Hey, I love it when you “like” my posts, but I’d be absolutely thrilled to hear your comments and questions. 🙂

Media · Movies · TV

Downton Abbey

Wistful Thinking

As I write this, the new Downton Abbey movie will open in the United States on Friday, 9/20/2019.

I can’t help but feel a bit wistful. I watched the entire series when it appeared on PBS. I even occasionally delve into favorite episodes on Amazon.

The trials and tribulations of the Crawley family and their staff have been comfortable companions for many years, but it is the house that captivates me.

You see, at the very core of the series (and the film) is the house. The house was the whole reason for anyone to be there at all. It sustained those who lived within it and around it. The care and tending of such an amazing structure was the sole purpose of all.

As a person who lives in a country where homes simply haven’t existed more than 300 years (and I’m padding that because the country itself isn’t that old) I can’t wrap my head around a family home that goes back several hundred years.

I can’t explain it any more than others. There is something about the history, the architecture, the people that captivate and encourage attention.

In the meantime, I’ll ponder yet again the history of Downton and wonder what everyone has been up to. All while imagining taking tea in the garden with the flowers in bloom.

Like I said, wistful thinking. 🙂


A Few Odd Thoughts

I had an interesting response to a post from one of my newsletter readers and I thought I should clarify.

When I posted “A Cheer For Determination”, I did not intend for the focus to be only on YouTubers. My thought process was that ALL folks who work to follow their dreams, or just work, need to be recognized and acknowledged.

Not everyone has the luck to be able to make a living doing what they love, some are stuck doing jobs they literally hate.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in situations where the work situation was not fulfilling and there was at least one struggle just to keep going. Sometimes it was the company, sometimes it was management, sometimes it was something else. We don’t always have the option to move on.

What I do know, even having worked those Jobs from Hell, is that all work can be beneficial in ways we don’t always understand. You never know the impact you will have on a caller, a coworker, someone you cross paths with on the way to lunch or the restroom.

In any event, don’t be shy about sending a high five or a smile or a “Good Job!” every once in a while.

If you are, or are contemplating, Cord Cutting, there is a YouTuber that I’ve been keeping an eye on who provides information from the newsfeeds about various services. Cord Cutters News seems to post regularly and has some interesting information on a broad range of topics. I recommend checking him out if you are interested.

By the way, Disney+ is due to arrive in November, and from what I’m seeing, reading, etc., it looks to be a game changer for the rest of the world. Just sayin….. 🙂

Much to my surprise, Halloween Season seems to have arrived. And people were having fits over Christmas…

There are lots of interesting information about the Halloween season in Disney Parks – along with some amazing food for the Food and Wine Fest that just started.

I’m not exactly sure when “Christmas” will arrive, but I’m thinking along the lines of November 1st.

Why? You ask. Well, if you are interested in getting an early Holiday Start, now would be a good time to check merchandise, recipes and ideas for holiday festivities.

Maymay Made It has already started work on holiday gift ideas as has Pootles Papercraft. Pootles began her yearly Advent Countdown on 9/2 and the projects have been amazing.

Yeah, I know, but honestly, if you want to avoid the last minute meltdown, you need to get your rears in gear. 🙂

That’s all for now. Happy Back To School. Or Whatever!

Cooking · Dining · Food

Food. The Adversary?

There is a lot of propaganda out there regarding food and cooking.

From the outright lie that cooking is hard and the only way to master it is to allow someone else to do the heavy lifting for you, to the pervasive idea that food is the enemy and you are in a constant battle to survive.

Let’s look at the first one for a moment, shall we?

Cooking can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be and, most importantly, with innovation and technology, it is a lot easier than Grandma or even Great Grandma had it. Heck, even Mom had issues with equipment.

Unless you expect to be a 5 star Michelin chef doing hundreds, if not thousands, of meals every day, (and if you are that’s amazing) most household cooking is pretty straightforward and reasonably easy to do. If you know how.

If you know how.

One of the things that literally stopped me in my tracks was discovering that Home Economics classes are pretty much extinct. The idea is that you need to know how to look something up more than you need to know how to feed yourself.


I hate to break it to you, folks, but if you can’t feed yourself, the rest is not necessary. Let alone possible.

Yeah, I get it – it is unknown. Scary. Smelly. Icky. Takes time you’d rather spend doing something else. Or…… maybe it is something you don’t know if you actually like until you find out how to do it?

Why that particular line of propaganda? Simple. Food companies needed to convince buyers to buy their products. All those cans of vegetables, boxes of mixes, packets of frozen foods needed to be purchased to make money for the companies. As time went on the advertisers got busy finding incentives, excuses, reasons, why you just couldn’t spend All That Time In The Kitchen cooking a meal when all you had to do was pull it out of the freezer, dump it in the oven and TaDa! Dinner. Not exactly cheap, but a easy.

Food as the Adversary came a long a bit later. It was a byproduct of discovering how Humans eat and what happens to their health over time.

When I was a kid mercury was a huge problem in canned fish. Saccharin was thought to cause cancer. Fat was the Biggest Bad Guy out there. Except you need a small amount of fat to make your body (a machine) work.

Thanks to a combination of intentioned advertising, misunderstanding, ignorance and the growth of the health conscious community, society took on a lot of questionable ideas about healthy eating.

Sadly, some of those ideas are still around today.

Yes, mercury is a no-no in your food. Fake foods like saccharin sound like a great idea, but the way the human body reacts could be worse than just eating the sugar. Or the salt.

Which reminds me. Thanks to the proliferation of fast food shops and basically eating out, most people have no idea what a proper portion of anything is or even looks like.

It is no wonder people have issues with food.

There’s a lot to explore here. I am not, and never claimed to be, an expert or a professional food person. What I am is a consumer who cooks and eats. And I want to learn more and share what I’m learning to make sure I can feed myself and keep my health without either going broke or driving myself crazy.

If you’d like to join me on this journey, let me know by clicking below. Send me a comment. I’d like to learn your thoughts as we work our way along this journey.

Cooking · Dining · Food

A Simple, Easy Dinner

One of my Very Favorite dinners is so simple and easy you’ll want to make it often.

I take a pork shoulder steak, season with salt, pepper, dried sage and dried garlic. Place it on a broiler pan and roast in a 350 degree oven on the first side for 45 minutes, then flip (season as before) and continue in the oven for at least another 30 minutes, 45 if you want them more caramelized.

I use my broiler pan to catch any fat that melts and drips off. If there is room on the pan – often times not – I put the potatoes there. Otherwise, they are on a separate rack in the oven. Depending on the size of the spuds, you may need to put them in the oven earlier than the pork.

You can add a green vegetable or a side salad with a simple dessert and there you go!

Cooking · Dining · Food

Food, Glorious Food!

Food is our common ground, a universal experience.     

James Beard

I am a Foodie who enjoys cooking.

I love the variety of flavors, colors, textures, and smells. I love the possibilities.

I recently became acquainted with a group of folks who are embarking – or continuing to embark – on a health/weight adventure. Some have been on this road for a long time, while others are relatively new to it.

Health and weight concerns are serious issues and there are tons of things to consider. One is how you feed yourself and not make yourself ill.

I have friends who are gluten intolerant, have various food allergies and sensitivities that make eating out not only questionable, but in some cases downright dangerous.

For those folks who have little or no real knowledge about cooking, feeding yourself out of a microwave or a drive through can be counter productive. And expensive.

As I thought about all these things, and looked at my experience of them, I started to wonder if there might be a way to share information that would help folks get more comfortable in the kitchen and find ways to create satisfying meals without a lot of stress.

Now, I know that the Internet is up to its’ figurative eyeballs in food blogs, but most people have no idea where to begin.

I’m thinking about this in relation to this blog. Would you be interested in joining me on a new food adventure? Leave me a comment below. Thanks!

Cooking · Dining · Food

The Unsung Hero of the Kitchen

The Slow Cooker

Yep, you read that right. The slow cooker is the unsung hero of the kitchen.

While the Instapots and the Air Fryers of the culinary world are selling like hotcakes, the real workhorse in the kitchen is that simple, handy, dependable piece of electronic crockery that sits on your counter producing flavorful, healthy meals day after day, week after week, year after year.

What? You don’t own one? Or, you do, but you never use it? You don’t really know how to use it and what you have tried has been a bit…eh.

Oh my…

Slow cooking can be dump and go, but there are a few things you need to know to get the results you want.

You can roast in them, but you do need to remember to NOT add any liquid. Why? Slow cookers don’t reduce liquids in the pot unless you leave the lid off or open on a side. That means all the moisture in your food stays in the pot.

One of my favorite things to use the slow cooker for is to roast a turkey breast. I put it in the pot, no seasoning or water, put the lid on and set it for LOW for 8 hours. When I come home at the end of the day, I have a perfectly cooked, tender and juicy roast turkey breast – and the skin is usually browned and a bit crispy, too.

Pot roast is a great option, but you do need to put the vegetables on the bottom of the pan. That way they get the benefit of all the juices in the meat and cook properly. Don’t add a lot of liquid! I’d keep it down to a half a cup. Any more than that and the meat isn’t roasting it is swimming.

Applesauce can be a great on the back burner kind of project, too. I’ve even seen homemade ketchup made in a slow cooker and heard of people making apple, peach or pumpkin butters in the pots.

Looking for some great resources to use your slow cooker? America’s Test Kitchen has done some serious research and put together some great recipes. They have some sound advice for various types of food.

FoodTV has done a couple of articles on Slow Cooker Recipes. The Most Popular Slow Cooker Recipe on Pinterest was great reading – and sounds good, too!

You can make side dishes for those busy holiday meals, set up the cooker to keep ciders and other drinks hot and ready, use the cooker to melt chocolates for homemade candies.

I’ve been know to get large family sized flats of chicken and cook them all in the cooker ready for packaging for freezing. Quick, easy, simple. And I don’t have to keep an eye on it. 🙂

Don’t forget to get a box of liners for use with your slow cooker. They make cleanup a breeze!

There is a reason this simple appliance has been around for such a long time. Get yours out and give it a go. You just might find it has become your favorite kitchen tool!