Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best Bacon

Reflections from the Backcounter

Well...July and August have been very busy months at the Backcounter and thus the paucity of blog posts. Oh well, self induced stress is not productive. The purpose of blogging is fun and worrying about missing posts is not the point....enough rationalization and on to the point of this post....Bacon....

I just returned from a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I had the opportunity to spend three days. It is such an exquisitely beautiful place. I did finally see three bison as I drove to the airport but my best find while there was not of the four legged variety....but was a culinary treat! I had the best bacon I have ever eaten and it was served as an appetizer for a cocktail party. I could not coax the recipe from the caterer and so I pursued the recipe the old fashioned way...I ate about a bucket of bacon....

As a result, I am sure I gained about 7 pounds but I do think I cracked the code and that I can reproduce the recipe... Here is my guess

Applewood Bacon...thick cut
Brown sugar
Chile powder/spice rub

Dust bacon with brown sugar and chile mixture...bake in 350 degree oven until crisp and serve in a cone of parchment paper standing in a small silver bucket

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think



Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Heat is ON!!!

Panting chickens!!

Chicken Swamp Cooler!

Life in the Sonoran Desert is defined by one word today....HEAT... right now at 3 pm it is 117 degrees Farenheit. I have resorted to all of my anti heat strategies learned through more than 30 summers in this inferno. Today, my focus is on keeping my chickens alive. How hot can a chicken get before it can't take it???? I think that I am about to find out. The poor little things are panting away in their pen. The pen is in the shade, they have plenty of water and now I have resorted to constructing a Rube Goldberg swamp cooler with the help of my mother who shares my concerns for our flock of heat intolerant chickens.....

With a fan, my roasting pan acting as a water reservoir and a shredded towel, I am now blowing air across a wet towel that has been torn in strips to provide some cooling of the air that is blowing into the coop....we will see. I have also frozen milk bottles of water and have put them into the pen in the hopes that the chickens will be smart enough to sit near the ice......intelligence does not seem to be their strong suit today...maybe the heat is frying their brains....
So maybe we now know the answer to the proverbial question?? Why did the chicken cross the road? To get out of the heat!!!!!!!!

I have wet down every surface in the yard, and I am keeping the dogs wet while they are outside for their needed bathroom breaks and am keeping them inside as much as possible.

GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need a vacation in the mountains.......

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Havasu falls: continued

Reflections from the Backcounter
The power of nature has reconfigured the landscape of Havasupai. This picture shows a new waterfall that was the result of the flood and the gouging of the wall above the creek to form a new gorge. Currently, it looks like strip mining and is painful to see given the previous lush foliage that surrounded the creek. The raw beauty of the turquoise water is breathtaking in spite of the devastation and it is only a matter of time for the travertine pools to build up and there will be another gorgeous fall and pool. This waterfall is on the way to Havasu falls and the campground.

Havasu falls Mooney falls are about another mile below the campground and are spectacular. However, the trail leading to the falls is not for the faint of heart or for those with a fear of heights or closed spaces.. It includes a cavelike tunnel and a climb across a chain ladder afixed to the rock face of the cliff. As a mother of teenage girls who of course were game to go...I had to add reason to the argument and put a halt to our progress toward the falls. Our photo was taken from the trail just before the cave tunnel. I was happy with this view and tried to ignore my inner voice that was stage whispering "jump...jump" what is it about heights that brings out the jumper in all of us? Home sweet home!! Our lovely campsite next to the creek. We were in a great location and slept soundly in our tents. Surprisingly, no mosquitos.
A great trip and one that I would recommend ...but take the mule option and put your packs on the mule is a lot easier and makes the hike more enjoyable. We unfortunately were rookies and spent a lot of time head down on a forced march.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The trek to Havasu falls...the inside edition

Still happy and enthusiastic

Reflections from the Backcounter

My calves hurt. In fact muscles that I did not know existed are hurting and might I remind you...Gray's anatomy is not a TV show for was my anatomy textbook. Hiking the Grand Canyon is a laudable goal at any age and at my now ripe old unmentionable age it was a personal victory, triumph, bucket list???. Of course, the trek down was preceded by hysterical downsizing of the contents of the backpack...who needs a sleeping bag anyway??? I remain amazed at the weight of a packet of instant oatmeal and the unfathomable density of Trader Joe's dried blueberries. The pack became progressively heavier as we marched toward our goal of the Havasupai camping grounds. We reached Supai village, victorious in our accomplishment, only to have our hopes of rest and relaxation dashed by the realization that it was 2.2 more miles to the campground.
Looking a little less happy and not so enthusiastic

We arrived with barely enough strength left to lift the packs off our weary backs and still had to pitch tents and cook food....luckily, we had been given explicit instructions in tent pitching and camp making by our outfitters who conducted our pre trip instructional seminar with unbridled enthusiasm and zeal for the full backpacking experience. Armed with our new found knowledge and state of the art equipment, we dispatched with the camp set up and feasted on our tamale pie and cornbread following which we collapsed into our tents and slept throught till dawn wrapped in the tent tarp...did I mention that the sleeping bag was left at the trailhead along with my water filter and extra pants. Any strategy to lighten the load...

More on the experience later...things started to look a lot brighter in the morning once I found the spring water, a portable water filter bottle from our neighboring campers (Israelis) and the coffee.

Here are a few pics to start with. Notice our naive enthusiasm as we approach the beginning of the my daughter said as we passed hikers starting down as we were on the way out...Look at those people...they are still laughing and talking....

Peace and packing,


Monday, June 1, 2009

Chickens on the loose/Havasupai Falls

The Backcounter Backyard Chicken project enters its fifth month and is happy to report that we have eggs...yes the little red hens have produced and we are getting between two and three eggs per day. There have been a few days with four eggs but that is not yet a regular phenomenon. The eggs are brown and varied in size. We are still waiting for the blue eggs from the Aracauna hens.

We are becoming risk takers and are letting them run loose in the evenings while taking careful watch for neighbors ...unfortunately, these hens have found their voices and the squawking volume is very loud....

Our family is getting prepared to embark on a backpacking adventure to Havasupai falls in the Grand Canyon. The challenge will be the food...Our outfitters are good friends who have assured me that they will provide us with appropriate gear and an in-service tomorrow night. Hoping to see the raw beauty of the falls but know that the recent serious flooding has changed the landscape....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Treat: The Best Carrot Cake

Reflections from the Backcounter

Baking is not my forte....I have a checkered past when it comes to the culinary art of cake construction. In fact if my cakes were construction projects, they would have been condemned. There has been the leaning tower of Pisa chocolate cake, the sinkhole spice cake and the brick and mortar bundt. But, ...I may have found it...the perfect recipe for a carrot cake. Not only is this cake gorgeous but it is delicious. This recipe comes from my good friend, Sally, who is an expert in the kitchen. Her recipes are always delicious and reproducible. She only serves the best food to her family and friends and we all always look forward to her warm hospitality and bountiful table. With her permission...I am including this recipe. I will be serving it tomorrow to dear friends at our annual Easter party.

So here goes...

Sally's Scrumptious
Carrot Cake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs (whisked first)

Mix in bowl 2
2 1/4 cups flour
2t salt
2t baking soda
2t cinnamon

Mix into bowl 1
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 8 oz can of crushed pineapple drained
1 handful sweetened coconut
1 handful raisins

Mix bowl 2 into bowl 1 and stir until combined and well mixed
Divide equally and pour into cake pans. Bake for one hour or until center is done


3 8oz cream cheese
3 cups butter softened
6 t vanilla
3 lbs powdered sugar
Mix with handheld mixer until smooth and creamy
Ice cake after it has completely cooled. Crushed walnuts can be added to the sides for an elegant look.
Thanks again Sally...this cake is scrumptious!!
Peace, Julia

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Backcounter: Back to Basics

Reflections from the Backcounter

The Backcounter Buffet is celebrating a year in the blog world and it has been a year of evolution. More than a menu planning and recipe blog, the Backcounter is truly a reflection of the challenges we all face in trying to find that elusive point of virtual balance in our busy lives. The challenge of serving the competing masters of work, home, kids, health, relationships and personal peace...the truth is ...true balance may be an unattainable goal. Rather, we may need to strive to find contentment in swaying back and forth from different points of imbalance...there is only so much time in the day and when we focus on one area of our lives other areas may have to be prioritized.
Perhaps a better view of the concept of balance is fluid motion. Our goal should be to make fluid and graceful progress toward our goals. To raise healthy and happy children, to find fulfilling work, to make a difference in the lives of those we love and those we don't yet know, to feel joy and contentment, to have meaningful purpose.

The journey is often hard. The work can be exhausting and arduous. The demands on our time exhausting. My goal in writing this blog is to highlight the bright spots on the journey; a recipe for a delectable chocolate cake, the earthy tranquility of chickens in the backyard, the joyful commonality of experience that we share ...

I hope that you will continue to read and enjoy the Backcounter Buffet as we enter our second year together. The Backcounter Buffet, that space between life and dreams, will remain full of ideas, great food and rich experience. Thanks for journeying with me....


Monday, April 6, 2009

March was a blur and Garage sale mania

March was a busy month at the Backcounter and I have no idea where the time went and no blog posts....ridiculous......Life in the world of the Backcounter Buffet reflects the world at large...too much to do..too little time and a sense of shock about the economic meltdown we are all experiencing.
One of the most fun but tiring activities was the Mother of all Garage Sales. We are fundraising to send the kids riding team to national competitition. It was a success but we have enough stuff left over to do it again. I would love to hear your suggestions on how to maximize the profits on a fundraising garage sale. Please leave your comments. People who frequent at garage sales are a study in diversity.It is all about the shopping experience and the cutthroat vicious bargaining. Some of the shoppers were hilarious...driving up in their BMW's while vociferously voicing their displeasure about the prices of the used clothing....."Not a dollar...will you take 25cents? If you don't ...we leave...." My friend and I took the high road and didn't get into it with the poor sports who were obviously ignoring the fact that the garage sale was a FUND RAISER!!! We let them leave without a comment and watched them drive away in the way more expensive than a year of college car. I suppose that they can afford the car for just that reason...they are willing to bargain down to the last 25 cents. Books...don't sell....used clothing sells, golf items flew off the shelves and shoes were a big hit...Chime in with your garage sale stories and let me know about your best bargain purchase.

Chickens are growing and our stealth technology is working...not a hint that we have been discovered by the neighborhood HOA



Friday, February 27, 2009

Fish Fry

Reflections from the Backcounter

It is once again time for the annual Lenten Fish Fry. Ladies and Gentleman start your engines and drive on over to the closest Catholic parish hall for another greasy but delicious fish fry. Every Friday during Lent Catholics flock to the church for a festival of fish and fun served up by our favorite knights...the Knights of Columbus. My family is a little leary this year (mom and sis) about bellying up to the table as last years fabulous plate of fried fish was a gastrointestinal fiasco....enough said...use your imaginations.....But undaunted, I will forge ahead and find my fish fry tonight...moderation is the key..remember it is all you can eat but maybe we should say change that to all you should eat!!!
Chicken update

Chickens are now teenagers and are happily clucking, eating, drinking and doing the unmentionable in their new cadillac coop which is predictably in my garage given my level of schoolgirl guilt about their illegality. I am confident that the neighbors know we are harboring fugitive fowl on our property. My husband continues to assure me that his carefully constructed cadillac coop really looks like a dog run and so it should remain under the radar. Can a chicken be taught to stop clucking? The newest additions, the Aracauna chicks are now two weeks old and are losing their peep fuzz...Looks like they will be brown ...all I care about is the blue egg potential. This weekend the little red hens (4 Red Stars) will be graduating from Chick starter food to Chick grower....They tried some chopped Kale and didn't really like it ...maybe too small yet or on the other hand ...there could be something about sis seems to have a weak constitution where Kale is concerned....a little visit to the ER this week but that is another story for another day. Suffice it to say she survived and has been rescued by a dear MD friend who it appears has been reading my blog and is NOT a supporter of the chicken project. You know who you are....send Good Chicken Karma my way please.

Peace, peeps and fried fish,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Coop construction and Coyotes

Reflections from the Backcounter

Coyotes are on my mind. Last night we had a coyote chorus right outside our window that went on for a half hour. The finale was the cacophony of the yip yapping victory screams that accompany a kill. Yikes...I think they have hit on the scent of the chickens in the garage. Construction on the camo coop began in earnest today and we are modifying the design as we go. The coyotes last night were rather centering. Function over form at this point. I do not want to have to run outside in my underwear to fend off marauding coyotes. This will be interesting. But...time is of the essence as the chicks are peeking over the top of the rubbermaid container at this point.

More on the peeps later


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time flies as the chikens grow Week 5 for the Red Stars Week 1 for Aracauna

Reflections from the Backcounter

And so the story continues....the economy worsens, jobs are scarce as hen's teeth and all the while my little stealth flock safely grows in the warmth of the heat lamps in their rubbermaid containers in the garage. Hope for brown and blue eggs remains foremost in the hearts of the chicken growers who eagerly ply the little peeps with chicken grow, fresh water and carefully constructed temperature ranges to encourage growth ane rapid feathering. And speaking of peeps, our latest little peeps, Lola and Penelope are purportedly Aracaunas who will grow up to supply the most beautiful green blue eggs. We can hardly wait. They are brown peeps who are hearty and hale in the incubator in the garage where we feel like we are watching time lapse photography show the sprouting of the wings throughout the day. As far as pets go, these are the least problematic in my long history of animal collecting. Much easier than cats, rabbits or guinea pigs and just forget about fish or hamsters. Dogs are a little too curious about the peeps and the teenage soon to be hen pullets in the container next store. These pullets are supposed to be high egg producing and quiet
Red star hens;. We will see...Gwendolyn, Henrietta, Josephine and Tallulah are quite the little talker squawkers. Now all human conversations surround best practice coop construction and gathering of inexpensive but effective materials to meet the three tenets of the coop project:

1. Stealth (illegal chicks must reside in a camoflauge coop)

2. Silence (squawky chicks will blow the cover of the operation)

3. Protection ( high predator risk in our area separate from domestic dogs on property. We need to be prepared to prevent predation from coyotes, owls and bobcats. If a mountain lion shows up....I may have to shelve the chicken project.!!!)

And so the story goes. I hope to provide ongoing pics of the project to document our progress. We have had very few slip ups yet and have not lost one chick to predation, escape or inadverdent broiling/roasting or freezing. Those heat lamps are tricky!
Peace and peeps,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Backcounter Chicken Project Day 1

Reflections from the Backcounter

Thanks to Polly and Alisa for commenting on the chicken post. It is so great to hear from you! Polly wants me to repost the no knead bread recipe

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.

Chicken project

My family and friends think that I have taken leave of my senses but truly the chicks are darling and no trouble at this point. We had a few dramatic moments yesterday while we were trying to sort out the height at which to place the heat lamp. The chicks were alternately huddling for warmth and panting for mercy as they were being slowly roasted by our overly zealous efforts to warm them up! Pictures to follow, slight technical difficulty today as I cannot find the cable for my camera to transfer the pics to the computer. (Kids!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chick chick chicken?? Backcounter chicken project

Reflections from the Backcounter

Many of you have realized through my postings that I am a frustrated homesteader. We make homemade yogurt, no knead bread, yogurt cheese and grow our own lemons, figs and tomatoes. But is it really enough? Those of you who know me, know that last year I received a set up for raising my own chickens but before the little darlings were delivered, I chickened out (no pun intended) and cancelled my order. Well, I have taken the plunge. Later today I will pick up my redstar chicks and begin my chicken adventure. Of course, this project is on the "down low" as I am concerned about neighborhood issues but....the little darlings will be carefully housed in the garage until they can brave the elements and hopefully by then we will have designed and built an appropriately camouflaged coop! I have connected with my personal chicken mentor Laura and look forward to meeting her today

Here is her information on the chicken project

LOL I hear you...thanks for inquiring. Red Star chicks get their name because it's a guarantee they are all females. When they are hatched, the white chicks are
roosters and the red ones are females. They are the brown egg layers and very hardy. How many chicks you want as laying hens is up to you :). When they start laying you will have eggs everyday. Maybe some will skip a day, but will make it up either in the early morning orafternoon. So if you get 5 chicks, you will have five eggs a day. I will be getting White Leghorn chicks this next week and they will be a couple days old. (So cute) They're still cute even when they grow older. They follow you everywhere. You are like their mom. They are the white egg layers. They are a smaller bird and very hardy as well. They aremostlyused for commercial eggs. Anyway if you are interested I do have starter kids that include: heat lamp, water dispenser, feeder, 10 lbs of chick starter feed and wood shavings for $60. I keep all my chicks in the garage or laundry room in a dog kennel of some sort until they get around 3-4 weeks of age. Put the wood shavings on the bottom inside the kennel for absorbing their messes. Very easy and fun. Feed is usually free for all and make sure they have clean water at all times. If they are in the garage, the heat lamp will be either on top of kennel or near the door entryofwarmth. They will start getting their feathers in a couple of weeks. I will send a pic of my set up.
When they get older, they will be fed chicken scratch or chick starter and grower feed. It's bigger granuals for them to fill up faster on. They need to protein in their young systems. As they become adults which is within a few months, they will love to eat anything. We usually feed them are bread scraps, fruit scraps, any grass they you grow they will love, noodles, anything that's not meat. Layer feed pellet form is a must when they are laying age. This helps them produce and it has the vitamins they need. They need calcium also. What ever you need to do to get calcium in their diet is up to you. They are very quiet except when they lay an egg. Which usually last like 20 seconds. They start cackling (bragging) that they have laid an egg.
Anyway, let me know :) what ever you decide.
So I look forward to the project....we will see how it goes and will keep you updated. We are probably twenty weeks away from home grown eggs

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Light rail system: Phoenix

Reflections from the Backcounter
We actually had a fun adventure on Sunday.. Two of my children decided to brave the crowds and run in the P.F. Changs 1/2 marathon. This was a feat of varsity organizational magnitude for parents who desired a return of their children ( or what was left of them after 13.1 miles) Multiple roads were closed and crowds were unbelievable. I wasn't sure how or if I would find my children or get within three miles of the event that ended at Arizona State University. Anyway...we decided to try to ride the recently opened light rail system. What a fabulous option and what a surreal experience. For a girl who remembers cruising Central avenue as a teenager it was nearly an out of body experience to glide through downtown Phoenix on a train! We arrived in Tempe no worse for wear and enjoyed the experience immensely. Our children were easily located in the well marked family reunion field dutifully sitting under their designated letter. We collected them, returned to the light rail and smoothly rode back to our car in North Central Phoenix. A good time was had by all. and of course Ceres the wonder CCI puppy rode the train without a complaint and entertained the fellow passengers with her butterscotch coat and mild mannered pleasant personality.
Progress made for a perfectly wonderful afternoon

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Better days ahead

Reflections from the Backcounter

We are all waiting in hopeful anticipation for the coming of change and improvement in our economic conditions. Today begins the new administration and many of us in the US are hopeful that there will be an upswing. The downswing has been painful and has touched everyone that I know.

Survival strategies that many of my friends are using:

House parties instead of restaurants
Gifts of food
Gifts of time and service
Cutting down on drycleaning
Cutting down on recreation
Eating much less meat
Few excursions to fast food restaurants and if we do...the dollar menu at McDonalds is awesome
Turning off all the lights ( I have become my mother)
Library books
Shopping for gas prices ( I have definitely become my grandfather with this one)
Shorter showers
Brown lawns

Some say we are at the bottom...others disagree. I have to look forward and hope for change. Barack may pull it off.



Monday, January 12, 2009

...Go Cardinals!!!

Reflections from the Backcounter

Monday morning quarterbacks in the US are analyzing and reliving each minute of the Arizona cardinals game this weekend while I am still analyzing the facts and trying to make sense of my weekend. It is Monday and my Christmas tree is still standing in my living room, my canine companions are gracing our presence with their uniquely nauseating odor of dirty dog and laudry remains piled in my laundry room. This in spite of a non stop frenzy of constant motion, errands and cleaning beginning Saturday morning and ending at 11 pm last night when I collapsed into a heap of fatigue. Maybe I should consider leaving the tree as a decorative element in my living room. Where is it written that an artificial evergreen cannot moonlight as a houseplant? I am definitely seeing the potential and the dog odor is becoming familiar...soon I will be crawling around my house through tunnels carved in the papers that are piled to the ceiling. I can actually see how it can happen. In a house with three dogs, two cats and three children (the fish thank heavens are history), I imagine the refuse could pile up in record time. We would not need thirty years to look like hoarders. In fact, as I look at all of the tree ornaments...maybe I do have a hoarding tendency...Is this the beginning of becoming an old woman with cats, quilts and paper bags stored in my dishwasher? Food for thought. Looking forward to Tuesday...never look may be a frightening glance over the shoulder


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Holiday shakedown and limoncello

Reflections from the Backcounter

The twelve days of Christmas formally ended on Jan 6. The end of the holidays also heralds the beginning of spring cleaning and clutter removal. There is something smothering about holiday decorations that remain after the holiday is over....unfortunately, if you are like me, the takedown and storage is a massive project that is always somewhat overwhelming. Every year I pledge to be more organized and to put everything away in a manner that is better than last year. With the number of pledges I have made, one would think that my holiday decor would catalogued in a system worthy of the Dewey decimal system with a card catalogue and index. I can only dream. So, as in years past, I take on the mountain of ribbon, ornaments and trees and will attempt to survive victorious in my battle to stuff the every growing number of items into the same number of rubbermaid bins.

On a positive winter citrus note, our lemon tree has produced a bountiful harvest this year. We are looking forward to trying to make a homemade batch of limoncello


Makes about 3 1/4 quarts. Those who are lucky enough to receive this homemade lemon liqueur should keep it in the freezer, where it turns a milky white after 8 to 9 hours. It can be sipped straight-up, mixed with tonic or dashed into champagne.

17 large lemons, preferably organic
Two 750-milliliter bottles grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
6 cups sugar
Wash and dry the lemons. With a paring knife, remove the ends. With a vegetable peeler, remove only the yellow rind, leaving the pith intact. (Squeeze juice from the lemons and reserve for another use.)
Place the lemon peel in a 4-quart Mason jar with a rubber-seal lid. Add the grain alcohol, making sure the lemon peel is completely covered. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar once each day to agitate the lemon peel.
On the 13th day, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and remove from the heat, stirring until it is dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
Place a colander on top of the saucepan and strain in the contents of the Mason jar. Discard the lemon peel. Stir to combine the liquids, about 1 minute. Transfer back to the Mason jar. Store for 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day.
After 3 weeks, transfer the limoncello to smaller bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers. Store bottles in freezer. Serve directly from the freezer.



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Scarlet Muffin

This one is for all of you sisters in the bond of post holiday fat toxicity. Place your hand on the muffin top oozing above the waistband of your dress pants, take a deep breath and be thankful that you were not my sister today.

To set the stage. My sister, who has been mentioned before in this blog, works as a property manager of a large high rise in downtown Phoenix. A high rise building, heretofore referred to as "the village," is a true microcosm of society at large... Her stories are legend but today was perhaps the funniest and most painful for all of us middle aged muffin -topped moms......

Here is her email.....

If this doesn’t make my day – I just went over to our little restaurant to get a muffin and diet coke – the owner - a woman (from another country) yelled from behind the counter when I walked in…………………”OH Laura – YOU GOT FAT OVER HOLIDAY”....


Is it possible to raise her rent?

Raise her rent? Are you kidding me? The woman should be run out of town on a MUFFIN TRUCK !!!! At the very least, an unannounced visit from the restaurant health inspector is in order. My sister has now been publicly branded with a Scarlet M in the middle of her forehead (waistline) No longer can she anonymously stand in line for the morning caffeine hit and pastry. Her morning routine is forever changed as the villagers are now watching and weighing the caloric impact of every morsel that passes her lips.

I can't make this stuff up! This could be a Seinfeld episode, remember the soup Nazi?

So, the next time you are standing in line for your morning muffin and favorite caffeinated beverage beware of the person behind the counter. You may just get a public commentary on the "state of your weight"....beware of the Muffin nazi and feel free to voice your concerns at . Please voice your support and shared sisterly outrage (or your favorite muffin recipe) by posting a comment of support for our kindred spirit and muffin topped mom, Laura. She has assured me that she will respond to all comments once she has completed her Muffin recovery program, Muffins Anonymous. (MA).

Peace and poppy seeds (my favorite muffin),


Monday, January 5, 2009

North Carolina Barbecue

Menu: Pinto Beans

Reflections from the Backcounter

Small events can make large memories. I remember one of the few times that I went out to lunch with my father when I was around five years old. We sat at the counter of a traditional diner and ate BBQ sandwiches. The tender and juicy pulled pork was covered with a mayonnaise based coleslaw and served on a bun. This was a sentinel event in my culinary formation! Every so often, I get a hankering for the real deal and it is frequently on New Year's Day. This year we slathered our Pork Butt roast with a dry rub and slowly smoked it on the grill using cedar wood. The wood smoke slowly infused the meat with a delicate flavor and after 6 hours of olfactory torture we took it off the grill and pulled it into tiny shreds. Topped with North Carolina BBQ sauce and coleslaw it was heaven on a bun. Beans, salad and soft drinks rounded out the menu. It was a great kick off to the New Year. As a bonus, I have the left over bones slowly cooking in a pot of pinto beans for tonight's quick weekday meal. A crock pot is a life saver

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year ..New Resolutions?

Thought I would take a moment from the hectic countdown to Monday morning end of Christmas break drama and reflect on my New Year's Resolutions.

It appears that I and about countless other middle aged resolvers are resolved in our solidarity (not to be mistaken for the solid fat attached to my thighs) to shrink our collective waistlines. My spinning class today was packed as we huffed and puffed our way to a thinner, healthier 2009. Unfortunately, the pounding beat of the music (and my heart) could not drown out the hundreds of worries streaming through my brain as I tried (unsuccessfully) to clear my mind and focus on revving up my metabolism so that the fat would melt off my mid section.

I suppose that the only meaningful resolution in 2009 is to eschew worry. Worry does nothing but make us anxious, raise our blood pressure, destroy our recreational time and shorten our lives. It accomplishes nothing but I believe that I must be an addict because I cannot stop. I know that in this time of economic challenge that I am not alone. We are all feeling financial insecurity and worry about the future. The fragility of the system and the roller coaster ride has been unprecedented. I also suppose that there is comfort in commonality and knowing that we are not alone in this worry offers some comfort.

So with that said, Iwill publicly post my New Year's Resolution for 2009. I will cut down my worrying..mind you I am not naive enough to promise a worry free year. But if I can at least recognize it ...maybe I can cut it down.

And as a second thought...I will continue to pursue my efforts at posting my menus and recipes. Who knows maybe one day I will compile a cookbook for my children!

Happy New Year!