Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chef Mama's Tips of the Day

While I may no longer be a Pampered Chef consultant, I am still passionate about food. Just ask any scale. Right now with two friends battling cancer, one in chemo and the other to start soon, I've been looking at healthy food for chemo patients. I'm just diving into this new area of food, so I'll try to share some tips as I find them.

Last week at our friends' house in Houston, where we stay when Kathy has doctor visits or chemo treatments, we discovered that our dear friend Mary, who loves to cook, has no Pampered Chef stones! Wow, I just heard a collective gasp from my readers (all 5 of you!). I decided it was time for me to start sharing some tips about PC stones.

It's late (as always) so I'm going to drop a few tips here, then will try to come back this week & add more. Here are some of the basics:
  • A great way to get your stones seasoned (if they have edges on them, such as the rectangular or deep dish baker) is to cook meat on them. Yes, "BAKING" stones are perfect for meat. You can put a pack of bacon on the stoneware bar pan, put in the oven at about 400F and cook for around 20 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your bacon temp & time can be altered). Roasts, chicken, and fish all cook nicely on the stones.
  • Worried about crossover tastes? We know that PC says NO SOAP on the stones. I know at least 2 reasons for this: It removes the oils that have built up to create the nice seasoned nearly non-stick surface. Also, it leaves a taste of soap on the stone. Since I no longer get a paycheck from PC I will share that I do sometimes use soap on my stones in small amounts after they are VERY well seasoned. However, I wouldn't do that on a normal basis. Unless you like the taste of soap. Then you have other issues I can't help you with. As far as taste goes, most foods don't leave a taste on the stone. IF you think something might, OR if you have excess grease (from aforementioned bacon in the oven, for example), put some baking soda liberally on your stone, add just enough water to make a paste, and scrub the stone with this. Note: this may also remove some of your seasoning, but it doesn't leave a funny taste behind like soap will.
  • Stones can go in the microwave! Did you know that? Often at shows I'd mention a recipe calling for the microwave and a stone. Inevitably I heard this little whisper of, "I didn't know you could put them in the microwave!" Before my diagnosis of Celiac Disease, one of my favorite ways to make cake was this: Mix 1 cake mix, 1 can of fruit pie filling or 16 oz. sour cream, and 3 eggs. Grease Fluted Stone ("Bundt" style pan) (I'll tell you a great thing to use for this is a minute). Pour in cake batter. Microwave on high for 12-14 minutes. Done!
  • Pan-Ease. At shows I would tell people to use Pan-Ease in their stones. There was often a giggle because, at least in Texas where we don't enunciate the way we should, this sounded like "Put some panties in your stone." Pan EASE is simply a mix of equal parts flour, oil, and shortening. You brush this in with a basting brush (I LOVE my PC silicone basting brush). The great things about this, unlike store bought can sprays, are no sticky residue and you can use the products most conducive to your diet. If you like lard, vegetable oil & white flour, go for it! If you prefer unhydrogenated coconut spread, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and a gluten free starch, that will work, too.
I'll try to get back this week with more stone tips. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Blogger Writing Style

Do you follow many blogs? Have you noticed that the people who blog to a large audience (you know, more than 5 followers) seem to have a rather poetic style, or artistic. Then again, the blogs I read with this style often are written by people designing fabric and patterns, so I suppose they are artistic. And poetic. BTW, that was an example of how they write. Often. Words alone. Make sentences. For effect.

The pictures are also interesting on such blogs. Perhaps a close up at a 38.527 degree angle of a feather on a bird on a fabric the person designed. Or the edge of a wall. Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm." In my case, it's more like, "Huh?"

The words used are the poetic part. Fabric that reminds someone of a willowy breeze in a field softened with hues of lavendar and lilac. Except they write it differently.

Then there are bloggers like me. We're the kind who write like we talk. I talk a lot. I mean, when I talk, I use a lot of words. I'm not an "outgoing person who likes to be the center of attention" kind of talker. You can be that kind person who talks a lot but may not use a lot of words to say something. You might just say a lot of different things. I'm a "let me start at the very beginning, but I'll back up three years earlier and describe in the minutest detail everything that ever happened" kind of person. There is a difference. Think of a news reporter. They have to give you the facts without too many details because of time restraints. That person might talk a LOT using a few amount of words for each account. A newspaper writer might say more in an article than a TV reporter could share, but still must keep the account fairly brief. That reporter could likely fill several pages with a variety of stories. A lot of words, but not all on one topic. Then there is the novel writer. This is a person who uses a LOT of words to describe MOST things.

That's me. While I've never written an actual novel, some have told me my writing is about as long as a novel. I want to share details to give the full effect of what I'm telling you. I could tell you we went to church today. OR I could tell you we slept in because my muscles were aching with fibromyalgia pain. When we got up I hurried the girls to eat before we left. Natalie had a bowl of Lucky Charms and wondered if someone had been eating them out of the box. I had some Kix, which does not say "Gluten Free" on the label, but the contents are gluten free. I don't normally worry about the little tag that says, "Made in a factory that also produces foods made with wheat." So far it has worked for me. Since Bethany is also on the GF diet, I had her try a new gluten free granola bar that I found while Kathy and I were in Houston for her chemo treatment. (if I were telling you this story in person, I would here break off into a discussion about Kathy and chemo and 3 hours later would say, "Oh, I want to finish telling you about church."). Natalie was worried that we would be late because Phil was not ready 30 minutes before church was to start. She wanted to go tell him to hurry, but I told her to just be patient. We finally were all ready to go and loaded into the van.

Okay, I will stop, but if you are a descriptive writer (detailed to the nth degree), you know that I want to continue my story. If you are not, you probably haven't made it this far and by now have deleted yourself from being my follower on my blog.

In my defense, when our pastor was talking about Spiritual Gifts a few weeks ago, he described the way a "teacher" talks. He could have been describing me.

This blog post has no deep meaning or knowledge to pass along. It isn't even a very good lesson from a teacher. It's just some late night ramblings from a mom who needs to get to bed but was distracted by some pretty fun blogs and the writing style of their authors. That's all.

Good night.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What IS cookin' with Chef Mama???

My dad said he's tired of seeing my cinnamon rolls on my blog, so I thought I better post to let you know we are alive here. On May 10th, my friend Kathy had a mastectomy in Houston for breast cancer. Since that week, we've been to Houston weekly until last week. The last time we came home my family headed to my MIL's house, so actually, as of tonight I have finally been in my own bed for a full week. That is I've SLEPT in my own bed. I do get out during the day (though a few naps might have taken place).

There is a lot of info that makes for some interesting blog posting (if you are bored & looking for something mind numbing to read) but I will save that for later.

Here are a few pics of what I call our "While You were Sleeping" events (ie what Kathy's, Danette's and my girls did in various groupings, while Kathy was in the hospital). I'll try to come back with more info at some point.
At the zoo. This one was Sarah's choice & she saw SEVERAL animals she'd never seen in real life. No, I am not pregnant. I just look that way. It's called a Smith Belly.

Annie & a Nanny (goat). At the Health Museum. SMILE!

Houston equals HOT! Swimming at Uncle Greg's House (my brother). This was EVERYONE's choice, even my niece, Becky.

Becky IS pregnant. We just have matching tummies. Becky made the girls kiss baby Karis (ie her tummy) and make a heart for their baby cousin coming in August.

SHOPPING (well, window shopping) at the Galleria. Annie's & Natalie's choice! The girls ice skated first.