Monday, December 29, 2008

The Biology of Shopping and the Modern Caveman

The after Christmas shopping has been in full swing in my house. Gift cards and money are always great gifts for teenagers. My three hit the stores the day after Christmas and were quite successful in their hunt for bargains. The shopping adventure did, however, highlight the difference in biology that in spite of all my careful parenting....has produced a "man". My son explained to me his frustration with his quest for the perfect pair of jeans. He was "overwhelmed" with the choices and the time it took to also find a few shirts. My daughters on the other hand could have shopped on...... I really do think it is biology...think of ancient times, women were hunting and gathering...constantly looking for food to bring home all the while chatting with the other women in the group, carrying babies on their hips and making an event of forward to the after Christmas shopping frenzy...women with baby strollers and friends hunting down the best bargains store after store and gathering up all the needed items for their families at discount prices...eerily sounds a lot like the hunter gatherer women of ancient times!

On the other poor son.... the modern caveman. Single focused determination, irritated by distraction , the hunter needed to find and kill the wild boar (perfect pair of jeans) and bring it home triumphant in his conquest!! The crowds, the jumbled clothes on the sale table and the overwhelming number of options created a primal unease that spoke to his most primitive drive...shoot the boar and run for the cave! He was the conquering hero as he jumped into the car with his "game" in the bag!

I discussed this explanation with my son who actually laughed out loud...he agreed wholeheartedly and hopes that for his next shopping expedition, he can dispense with the browsing and make a surgical strike that takes him in and out of the store with no collateral damage.

Biology....and we thought our studies would have no meaning later in life!!!



Sunday, December 28, 2008

No Knead Bread.... revisited

Reflections from the Backcounter
I have previously extolled the many virtues of the popular No Knead Bread recipe and have posted it on the Backcounter Buffet. Truth be told, although the recipe yields a gorgeous, crusty loaf of artisanal bread directly from the home oven, it does fall a little flat on the tastebuds. This bread has become a mainstay in our family and we always have a loaf somewhere along the way to being baked. Recently, we experimented with the recipe and inspite of our lack of culinary training and an expert test kitchen, we have hit on a winning combination. The olives and garlic add just enough punch to make this bread irresistable. Try it and let me know how it goes!!

No Knead Bread

4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ tsp of dry yeast
½-3/4 cup coarsely chopped olives
1 clove sliced thin garlic (roasted in olive oil)

Mix dry ingredients

Add 2 cups cold water

Mix with hands for 30 seconds. Let rise covered for 12-24 hours. The slower the better

Knead for 30 seconds on floured board add flour to keep from sticking.
Put in greased bowl, cover and let sit for 2 hours

Drop into preheated dutch oven (450 degrees) Bake for 30 minutes with lid on and 15 minutes with lid off.
Good luck....the original recipe may work better for you..this is our household's version

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas from the Backcounter.....a day of reflection, celebration and enjoyment in the company of family and good friends. Christmas eve dinner was a delicious rib roast, yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, carrots and rolls. Our only downfall was the yorkshire pudding...always a seems to track the barometric pressure or the alignment of Jupiter and Mars....this year we were obviously out of alignment as the pudding was rather heavy and leaden! May your day be Merry and may your loved ones be blessed with a day filled with fun and happy memories.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays... a Hannukah fest

Family and friends are the heart of holidays but food provides the soul! We just celebrated Hannukah with dear friends and the food was epic. This is the one party of the year where I do not have to contribute as my cultural and religious background does not qualify me for the delectable menu awaiting us at this party...nor have I yet scored any of the recipes.....

Suffice it to say...I do not think it could get any better than the brisket, latkes, homemade applesauce, noodle kugel, carrots in gravy and the spinach salad that we enjoyed. Hannukah is a meaningful and "delicious"occasion for our Catholic family and we feel privileged to celebrate with our dear friends. The prayers and the lighting of the candles always move me and I know my children come away from the party every year with satisfied appetites and hearts full of love

Happy Holidays!!!



Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas time at the Backcounter

A Merry Harried time of the year for all of the mothers on the planet. Shopping, wrapping, budgeting, cooking, baking and organizing family and friends characterizes the consuming and relentless march toward December 25th. Nothing short of the invasion of Normandy requires such skillful and expert planning. But the mothers of the world seem to always ensure a flawless execution on Christmas morning. Somehow ...each all gets done and the kids are met with beautifully wrapped presents promising excitement and and fulfillment of carefully constructed Santa wish lists. Even an economy in the biggest downturn since the great depression will not forestall the dedicated mothers. Bargains will be found, gifts will be regifted, bicycles will be rehabbed and the Christmas magic shine.

Kudos to those moms who are out there tonight worried that they just might not make it this year after all. Know that you will and that there is always one more ounce of energy hiding in that last cup of coffee......gotta go ...need to brew a pot of energy to help me coast thru the next few hours.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Blog Hiatus

Reflections from the Backcounter

Daily writing is a habit and once a habit is broken it is hard to reestablish it!! Proof of concept...The Backcounter Buffet!!! I have been on hiatus...ankle, work, life, holidays have all conspired to impact my writing time and inclination. I hope to get back on track as the month progresses.

Life in the Sonoran desert is beautiful this time of year and we have had a nice sprinkling of cool days and showers to ensure an abundance of spring flowers. The CCI Puppy, Ceres, continues to part at a time. This week it is her ears that have grown out of proportion to her head!

Hope all is well in your orbit!