Friday, March 23, 2012

Ahhhhhhhhhhh Wonderbread!

If you are wondering (no pun intended) why I have Wonderbread on my mind, blame a FB friend and his apparent obsession with Wonderbread and bologna sandwiches (it seems he had one for dinner last night and one for breakfast this morning but with the new timeline thingie, who knows). So now it's stuck in my head and I must remove it so I can go play with some new beads I got.

First let me state that I'm not a big fan of squishy white bread. I grew up with breads that had more texture from Koepplinger's Country French bread (which was as close to Wonderbread as we ever got) all the way to rich, chewy ryes and pumpernickels. As far as I know, there was no such thing as "whole grain" bread and, for whatever reason, my parents shunned wheat bread. However, there was one Wonderbread incident that haunts me to this day...

When I was somewhere around 7 or 8 years old, my mother baked a loaf of bread. She refused to let me have any while it was still warm, stating that it "wasn't good for me." I remember that clearly, what I don't remember was whining about us not having Wonderbread like my best friend, Becky's, family which is apparently why my mother never baked another loaf of bread, ever.

Looking back, I can see the holes in that argument as well as the outright lies. First of all, if my mom had really liked the bread she baked, it wouldn't have matter what my preference was. While she was a good cook, she only truly enjoyed making dishes she loved to eat which is why I took her cocoa brownies to school for every one of my birthdays through grade school. She'd make a double recipe, send half with me, and keep the rest. They were also a staple for most pot luck dinner type events except she'd take the whole batch (after all, she'd be there to eat them) and be sure to bring home any that were left over (which was usually none, she baked a helluva brownie).

Secondly, I suspect that she carved off pieces of the warm bread for herself, while telling ME it wasn't good for me because if we'd both gotten into it, there wouldn't have been much left for supper. I bake bread occasionally although I buy frozen dough (my from scratch attempts are rather brick like) and "testing" it when it's warm is a taste treat that I treasure. And one which I guard jealously so I can understand why she told me what she did those many years ago. I suspect that she made hers from scratch and, while she didn't mind putting some time and effort into her favorite dishes, bread dough was a little much for her which is the real reason she never made it again. She will categorically deny that and still cite the Wonderbread incident but I'm a mom now, and I know.

I should have made the connection long ago when I made fudge during finals week while living at home one summer and attending off campus college classes. Why I wanted fudge, I don't really remember, but it was too hot to bake (we had no AC back then - they'd soon get a window air conditioner then, later, central AC but I digress) and I knew she had a good fudge recipe although I don't remember ever eating any as a child. I found that once you assembled the fudge you really had to beat it, by hand, before pouring it and letting it sit and harden (my first clue as to why I don't remember having homemade fudge). Mom hovered over my shoulder as I went about my task and suggested I pop it into the freezer so it would harden faster, so I did. Then I went off to study like a good collegiate. Sometime later I checked on it and found it covered in finger pokes and prints. Turning accusing eyes toward my mother she sheepishly admitted that she'd never been able to wait for fudge to harden and had, as a matter of fact, made it many times after "you girls" (my sister and I) had gone to bed and just dumped it hot over ice cream. The fudge was excellent, in spite of it's pock marked surface, and mom was pleasantly surprised that it tasted about as good cold as it did warm. I've not made fudge since although it's not as big as a PITA to make as bread from scratch.

By the way, I don't buy Wonderbread any more than my mom did but my husband seems to prefer that type of squishy, insipid bread so I compromise and buy "whole wheat white" or whatever they call the stuff that has a modicum of something good for you in it. I'm proud to say that my son prefers a bit of texture to his bread and really enjoys a good rye (but,alas, not the stuff with jaw breaking crust).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I saw my first robin

It's officially spring, I saw my first robin on Saturday which was not only St. Patrick's Day but also my husband's birthday. We had a cook out and camp fire which is not unusual for my husband, he'd grill outside in a blizzard, just about, and has camp fires whenever possible (like when the fire pit is not covered in snow and/or the wood isn't saturated).

I thought after almost 8 years in this house, the whole being able to have a fire in your backyard thing would've grown old but nope - I think my husband is a certified pyromaniac. To give him credit, he doesn't need a giant bonfire (although he'd probably do that if he could but city ordinances pr ohibit it and he does his best to stick to their parameters), he just likes to zone out to the flames. It's his chill zone (pardon the pun) or, as I think of it, his zen/meditation area.

As for grilling, he simply enjoys doing it, so he regularly cooks the main course for Saturday night dinner. I'm not complaining especially as he's quite good at it - no charcoal nugget burgers or extremely well done steaks for this guy. He even made some delicious beef ribs, which is difficult to do. Of course, I had to point out that the package called for marinading and pre-baking them in the oven (pork ribs you can just slap on the grill, beef ribs can be tough and are generally slow roasted/cooked). Yes, I discovered a cook buried deep within me not long after we bought this house. Before that, I was like my mom - I was a decent cook, but didn't like doing it. Now, as long as the kitchen is clean, I have a fair amount of ingredients and I'm in the right frame of mind (having a willing sous chef who will at least do the chopping, if not the clean up, helps) I can pretend to be a star on food network (although I have to cheer for myself when I add garlic). When I say I'm "concocting" something, my husband is happy, because my dishes generally turn out better when I'm being creative rather than following a single recipe (which I hardly ever do, except when I bake - baking is a science, one that I'm not that good at).

Wow, a whole post *not* about jewelry :O  I'll just say I'm in a pink and green stage at the moment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring is springing!

We've hit over 60 F TWICE in the last week or so here in southeast Michigan so I now firmly believe spring is on it's way.  The other day, I watched winter and spring battle it out - furious snow for a few moments, followed by periods of sporadic sunshine and wind gusts up to 44 mph (according to I'm sure we'll see a few colder days before winter finally gives up and I've yet to see my first robin but I'm keeping an eye out. To me, once I see that robin, spring is here, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.

So it's spring cleaning time. Not that I indulge every year, cleaning and I don't exactly get along, but hubby's birthday is this Saturday (yes, he's a St. Patrick's Day baby) and he's inviting his family over so the house gets a cleaning. He wants some sort of jewelry with a fish on it as he's a Pisces - I've picked out about a dozen or so fish beads/charms available from my fellow Etsians.

Cleaning means Shaklee in our household but I'm pretty sure I have enough of their Basic H cleaner to get the job done. This stuff is marvelous - one or two drops in an 8 oz spray container filled with water and it does a wonderful job on windows.  Add a little more and you have an all purpose cleaner; add a little more and you have a degreaser - three cleaners that you can refill multiple times all for $10 - $12 is not a bad deal at all. And yes, it works quite well. While I'm mentioning Shaklee faves another can't-live-without product is their Nature Bright® Laundry Booster & Stain Remover - it works about as well as bleach and doesn't break down the elasticity of socks and underwear. It works on colors as well, just follow the instructions.

Their cleaners don't kill germs, though - they do have antibacterial wipes (which I have a whole container of) but a simple essential oil spritz will also work nicely. Many EOs have natural antibacterial/antimicrobial/antifungal properties (see one of my other blogs,, for more on that and Avon/Tupperware/Shaklee).