Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook – The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home – REVIEW

9 Oct Cleaning

Martha Stewart never does anything half way. The Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook – The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home was started by Martha but it apparently took on a life of its own. So she formed a team of people who helped her with  researching and adding their own homekeeping experiences to produce the ultimate of all homekeeping handbooks.

 

The copyright of the handbook is 2006, so as you might guess, there are a few tips that are outdated. There are 744 pages which makes it a hefty book and I guarantee that you will learn a few things reading it! It’s a very readable book.

 

Martha and her team divided the book in an interesting way. From page 31 to page 477 it’s broken down room by room. The rooms are as follows:

 

Kitchen

Dining room

Living room

Home office

Library

Entryways, stairs, and hallways

Bedroom

Bathroom

Closets

Laundry room

Utility spaces

Outdoor spaces

 

So, if you only want information on everything kitchen, you could browse the kitchen chapter.

 

She doesn’t stop at room domesticity. The next section covers Throughout The House which is further divided by Routine cleaning such as dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc. then Periodic Maintenance such as Floors and Floor Coverings, Ceilings, Walls and Woodwork, etc.

 

If that wasn’t enough, the next section covers Comfort and Safety. This includes Lighting, Electricity, Pest Control, Water systems, Home security, and more.

 

The next section covers Moving. After that is a section called Materials Guide. That would be diamonds, lucite, pewter, taxidermy, tortoiseshell, terra cotta, vinyl records…she didn’t leave any stone unturned. She didn’t include stones per se, but she did include onyx which well, actually is a stone!

 

Finally, she included a Reference section.

 

Martha is nothing if not thorough and I think that’s one of the things I like about her. I also like that you can rely on her advice. She has some amazing tips and hints that I’ve never heard of. For example, it is best to store paint cans upside down (after sealing them carefully) so that the paint will form an airtight seal around the lid. I was very interested in her paint insights since I have been doing painting projects around my house recently. So far I’ve painted a coat closet and the trim around my garage door and back door. I’d like to do a lot more but if I start thinking about it, I’ll feel overwhelmed!

 

There are many photos in Martha’s handbook and she is not shy in showing photos of her own brand such as Martha Stewart latex paint. All photos are in black and white and are of high quality.

 

You can find the most basic help such as How to Wash Dishes by Hand, or Sewing on a Button to more complex help such as How to Fix a Compression Faucet or How to Replace a Wall Switch. Anything electrical has always been something I’ve shied away from but with Martha’s step by step instruction…I might be tempted!

 

My only criticism of this book is her “cleaning calendar.” If I cleaned all the things she suggests you clean daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonally, I would probably die of exhaustion and would never need to exercise! Maybe these are the things I should be doing when I wake up at 3:00 am and can’t get back to sleep! That would be the only way I could fit in all the cleaning. Other than that, I highly recommend Martha’s handbook. It would make a great gift at a bridal shower or for a young person getting their first apartment if you don’t mind spending $45.00.

5 stars *****

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Calcium Alone is Not Enough for Good Bone Health

8 Oct Sunshine for Vitamin D

As a woman, I am well aware of how difficult it is to get the required amount of calcium in my diet everyday. For those of us in the 51-70 year range, the recommended daily allowance is 1200. Being in that age group, I carefully read labels to be sure I’m getting the highest percentage of calcium available for good bone health because the older you are, the greater your risk for osteoporosis.

 

When my grandmother was in her later years, (she lived until 92), she fell twice: the first time she broke her wrist; the second time was more serious and she broke her hip while in a nursing home. She never recovered. Her generation didn’t have the knowledge we now have about calcium, osteoporosis, and bone health.

 

Experts recommend that you select foods that contain 10% or more of the DV (Daily Value) for calcium.

 

Say Cheese

Reading food labels taught me that brands differ in the amount of calcium they contain. Cheese for example. I bought a Mexican grated cheese called Cotija that is similar in taste to parmesan cheese but is much cheaper. On the other hand, Cotija contains 15% calcium per ounce compared to Belgioioso parmesan, the brand I usually buy, which contains 35% calcium per ounce. However, I use the Cotija more because it costs less. It’s great sprinkled on a salad, pasta, or corn on the cob. Typically, Parmigiano-Reggiano goes for $15.99 a pound. I paid $4.74 for a pound of the grated Cotija. You can find it at Walmart.

 

Salmon

Canned salmon brands differ too. There are even differences within the brands themselves. All of the following are per 2.2 oz. servings. According to their labels when I took this survey:

 

  • Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon has 0% calcium
  • Chicken of the Sea Sockeye Salmon, With Bone is 20% calcium
  • BUMBLE BEE® Red Salmon (Sockeye) is 30% calcium
  • BUMBLE BEE® Pink Salmon is 20% calcium

 

The bones in canned salmon contain calcium. They are soft and you can mash them with a fork. If you want calcium in your diet, you should eat them! I buy whatever canned salmon has the highest percentage of calcium.

 

Milk Does a Body Good

One of the best kept secrets I’ve learned about getting more calcium into my diet is powdered milk. In 1/3 cup of dry milk or 1 cup prepared, you get 30% of your DV for calcium. I add powdered milk to many recipe dishes and there is no telltale taste. It is excellent for baking and I usually add extra. Just this morning when I made pancakes, I added powdered milk to the almond milk I used for the recipe. They were delicious!

 

Dried Herbs

Herbs such as dill, basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, poppy seed, mint, celery seed, sage, parsley and rosemary are all high in calcium. Savory contains 2132 mg of calcium per 100g serving.

 

Absorption of Calcium

Experts tell us that we also need to be concerned about our bodies absorbing calcium. Medications and other factors can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Foods that contain Vitamin D and also Vitamin C greatly help the body to absorb calcium. For example, oranges or broccoli contain both calcium and vitamin C.

 

Move Closer to the Equator

Researchers examining the incidences of osteoporosis around the world believe that it is partly connected to a lack of vitamin D. The further away from the sunniest section of the world, the equator, the more likely people are to have osteoporosis. The osteoporosis rate increases by 0.6 per cent for every 10 degrees of latitude from the equator! I find that very interesting!

 

Sources of Vitamin D

The best source of vitamin D is cod liver oil. But who wants to take it? I purchased a small bottle over a year ago and it is still unopened. The salmon that you’re eating for the Omega-3 and calcium benefits is also a good source of vitamin D. It may be the new “perfect” food!

 

Not everyone agrees  that we need sun protection at all times in the form of a UVB blocker. Some researchers  say it is necessary to expose the skin to the sun for approximately 5–30 minutes between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen in order to get the Vitamin D we need. Fair-complexioned people like myself need less sun exposure while darker complexioned people need more.

 

Supplements May Cause More Harm Than Good

A new study found that daily use of calcium supplements increased heart attack risk by 86 percent. Supplements may not be the answer.

 

Weight-bearing Exercises

These are activities that require your muscles to work against gravity,  such as: weight-lifting, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing, step aerobics, dancing, and racquet sports for example. Swimming and walking are not the best exercises for building bone although not all experts agree on that.

 

Now that I’m armed with the facts that were unknown to my grandmother, I think I stand a much better chance of having strong, healthy bones into my later years.

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Authentic Recipes From the Mediterranean

7 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/1382262_376997511.jpg

You’ve heard of the Mediterranean Diet but exactly what are some of the recipes enjoyed on this “diet”?

There are about 21 countries in the Mediterranean but I can only speak authentically for one: Italy. My mother’s side of the family came from Bari, Italy (southern Italy) and my father’s side of the family came from Arzignano, Italy (northern Italy).

The differences in their cuisine were as different as their dialects! The northern side of the family ate Polenta, risotto, salads of bean, asparagus, and frittatas (egg dishes with vegetables). The southern side of the family ate deep-dish pizzas (no cheese), nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds), pastas (ravioli, penne, spaghetti, stars, orecchiette), cold cuts (mortadella, prosciutto, ham, capacola – spelled many ways), and osso buco.

Of course, they ate more dishes than those, but those are the ones I remember. Add to this mix the dishes my American-born mother would prepare. I would assume that she learned many of her dishes from her mother.

Let’s talk about the unusual dishes that my family made and get that out of the way first. I won’t point fingers at who prepared/ate these dishes but if you want to guess, be my guest.

  1. Cow’s tongue. I still remember seeing a big, fat cow’s tongue sitting on a plate after it had been boiled. It looked awful. It tasted awful and I’ve never been a picky eater. Was this Italian fare? I have no idea!
  2. Chicken feet. I still remember trying these things. Legs of just skin and bones. This was the Mediterranean Diet? No wonder they were all so slim. Last, but certainly not least:
  3. Birds. Don’t argue with me, argue with them. That’s what they called them: birds. I remember going out in the backyard as a kid with my grandfather and he would kill the birds in the trees with a stone. They never knew what hit them. He was quite a shot. I don’t remember ever eating a “bird.”

And you thought it was just anchovies that were awful! OK, now for the less strange.

Asparagus and Hard Boiled Egg Salad

This salad is delicious and low calorie and chances are you’ve never heard of it. It’s also easy to prepare. Snap off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus and boil the remainders until tender. Boil two eggs until hard-boiled. Allow everything to cool completely. Mash the asparagus and the eggs together. Add a little olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Delicious!

Red Kidney Bean Salad

Drain one can of red kidney beans and pour into a bowl. Mince one clove of garlic and finely chop two tablespoons parsley and add both to the bowl. Add oil and red wine vinegar to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Easy, delicious, and good for you. I make this often in the summer.

Double-decker Thick Crust Pizza

If I had the original recipe I would share it. This was a two-layer pizza. The bottom layer was thick and the top layer was thin. In the middle were glazed onion slices, big green olive halves, and anchovies (which I used to pick out when I was a kid). The ends of this dough were very high and thick, higher and thicker than any other pizza I’ve ever seen. The crust was the oiliest I’ve ever eaten. It was the best thick crust pizza I’ve ever eaten and ever will eat, guaranteed. Your best bet is to use a recipe for a thick crust pizza dough. Add a good amount of olive oil to the pan and while it’s rising, prepare the onion, olive, and anchovy mixture. I swear, I can still smell and taste this pizza. I came close to duplicating it once.

Risotto

Nobody made risotto like my grandmother. It seemed like she cooked it for hours, occasionally adding more chicken stock and would stir and stir. She also added bits of chicken liver which I picked out when I was a kid. Something about her risotto made it stay hot so I would spread it out on my large plate to the very edges with my fork and eat around the edges which were the coolest parts. I never came close to duplicating it and I never added chicken livers.

Dandelion, Broccoli Rabe, Escarole, Broccoli, Artichokes

These green vegetables are prepared pretty much the same way with chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes to taste and some water and they’re all delicious. Wash and trim them carefully. Cut into pieces that are comfortable for you. I like to cut my dandelion (yes, the weed but you buy it in the supermarket) in half. For broccoli rabe or rapini, I like to cut the lower end into small pieces since the lower ends are tougher and take longer to cook. For the escarole I cut the leaves in half. Escarole is very versatile. I use it in place of lettuce in sandwiches and I cook it as a green vegetable for a side dish. It is delicious! I’ll give the directions for the artichokes last.

Be careful not to overcook the broccoli. Overcooked broccoli causes the same reaction as eating baked beans. Make sure you have enough water in the pan. If all the water evaporates you will burn the broccoli, the house will smell awful and you won’t want to eat it. So, add more water in the broccoli pan than you do for the other greens. The same is true for the artichokes – more water but don’t cover them with water.

My mother used to quarter the artichokes. (Remember to remove the hairy chokes in the middle and the thorns at the tips because you can’t eat those parts.) I like to stuff my artichokes with seasoned bread crumbs. They take longer to cook that way. Nowadays, every chef I see preparing artichokes on TV removes all the leaves and only prepares the heart of the artichoke. I think they’re missing out on all the fun of scraping the leaves between your teeth. Also, a good chef will know how to prepare a good dipping sauce for the leaves. If you’ve never tried an artichoke before, order one in a restaurant. It’s a delicate flavor, creamy and delicious when artichokes are at their peak of goodness.

Lentils, split-peas, chick peas (Garbanzos, or cici beans), navy beans, cannellini beans, lima beans and fava beans.

My mother made soups out of each of these except for the fava beans although she ate them too. Nothing fancy, just good!

Meats

Sausages, lamb chops, pork chops, spare ribs, steak, veal cutlets, chicken, hamburger. These were all cooked by my mother mostly broiled except for the spare ribs which she put in a tomato sauce. I only remember one dish that my grandmother made with either lamb chops or pork chops. She put the chops in a pan, sliced up about a half cup onion, sliced two potatoes, peeled; quartered a tomato, add spices (probably oregano or thyme, salt and pepper), and about a cup of water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake covered until tender. Delicious. I make this once in a while. Don’t forget to dunk crusty Italian bread in those juices!

So, if you’ve ever wondered what recipes folks from the Mediterranean enjoyed, these are some of them.

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Top Reasons to Drink Water When Exercising

5 Oct Cool Water

Just as an observer in several health clubs, I rarely see anyone drinking water. It’s ironic that these exercise enthusiasts are sweating to attain good health yet not drinking enough water while exercising can ultimately give them kidney stones.

 

The number of people in the United States with kidney stones has been increasing over the past 30 years. In fact, the number nearly doubled since 1997. There are other health problems from not drinking enough water.

 

Limited Water Intake Symptoms

Limited water intake can cause dry coughs, bronchitis, dry skin, acne, nose bleeds, urinary tract infections, constant sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches and the above-mentioned kidney stones.

 

Benefits of drinking water when you exercise.

 

  • Water with Lemon. Besides quenching your thirst after a workout, lemons have a high concentration of citrate  which naturally inhibits kidney stone formation. If you can’t drink water, drink lemonade.

 

  • Metabolism Boost. Drinking cold water amps up your metabolism. Since your body has to work to warm up the water, you will be burning a few extra calories in the process.

 

 

  • Your Skin. If you allow your body to get dehydrated by not drinking enough water, fine lines and wrinkles deepen. Water flushes out impurities and improves circulation besides plumping the skin.

 

  • Digestion. Water helps pass waste in the body. If you are dehydrated, your body will absorb water meant for your colon and other areas of the body. This will leave your colon dry and make it difficult to pass waste.

 

How You Lose Water

You lose several cups of water everyday through breathing alone . The lungs require humid air to work. The average adult loses about six cups of water a day through urination and during exercise up to four cups per hour. When these loses are added up, it’s easy to see why the body needs fluid replenishment.

 

Understanding why water is so beneficial to the body makes it a little easier to drink.

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Take a Stand: Will You Sit or Stand at Your Desk?

4 Oct Sitting, Standing, or Balancing on Fitness ball while working?

The latest buzz for good health is standing at your desk rather than sitting all day. Many companies now require standing desks for their employees, including the Secret Service. It’s common knowledge that you use more calories when you stand rather than sit and I was eager to do that. However, if you can’t afford to go out and buy one of the latest desks to accommodate standing, here is what you can do to accomplish the goal without spending a penny. It didn’t cost me anything to set up other than a few hours’ time and I can easily switch back to sitting on days when I’m not up to standing all day.

 

The Process

I’ve got a two-drawer metal file cabinet that I had already had my processor on as you can see from the photo from the previous post. If you don’t have a two-drawer file cabinet, use whatever piece of furniture that will work. A sturdy box will work. Printer machine boxes are good for this. Next to the processor, I stacked a cassette tape box, a CD storage box, a phone book and an empty, sturdy, exercise stretch band box to nearly reach the height of the processor. The idea is to use whatever you have that is sturdy and will allow for the weight of your hand. You are going to be using this stack of items for your mouse. Again, if you can find a sturdy box that will work, use it. Adjust as necessary for your comfort level. Use your ingenuity!

 

Place your monitor on the top, rear of your processor. You may need to tilt your monitor upward or place a phone book or two under it if you need it to be eye level. Place your keyboard on the top front of your processor. I placed my scotch tape dispenser in between the two to prevent my keyboard from sliding back and forth. Use whatever you have on hand. My processor has a raised edge in the front so that my keyboard won’t slide forward. If your processor doesn’t have such an edge, create a raised edge. Something as small as a pencil taped with masking tape on the edge of your processor might prevent your keyboard from slipping. You may have to experiment. The goal is for your keyboard and mouse to be at the level of your arms (while standing) when you bend them at a 90 degree angle.

 

Back to the Stack of Items for Your Mouse.

Place a mouse pad on top of the last item you had on your stack. It should be a big, sturdy mouse pad. I happened to have one. There are many things that can substitute for a mouse pad. Even a sturdy piece of cardboard can work. Then I took my 2 ½ pound ankle weight and wrapped it around the right end (the keypad end) of my keyboard. This is to hold it in place and prevent slipping from side to side and back and forth. Make sure part of the mouse pad is underneath the ankle weight to also prevent the mouse pad from slipping. This is why you need a big mouse pad. Wrap the Velcro strap of the ankle weight around the keyboard exactly over the keypad. (This won’t work if you use the keypad.) I never use the keypad if I need to type numbers. I always use the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

 

Support Your Feet

It is also suggested that you use a good mat to stand on to help support your feet. I buy mats when they go on sale, so I had two stored in my closet for when the mats I have get too dirty. They help to prevent tracking dirt into the house. Good shoes are also necessary. I put extra inner soles in my athletic shoes. So, I was prepared for my feet.

 

I used this setup when I wrote this for a total of 8 ½ hours with no disasters. Nothing slipped or fell. At the end of the day, I was very relieved to sit down! This is not easy on the body when you’re not used to standing. On the second day I tried it, I only lasted two hours. It takes some getting used to. When I decided to sit for a while, I moved my monitor, mouse, and keypad back to my desk. That took 5 minutes. I can easily go back to a standing position now that everything is set up.

 

Tips

Make sure you have enough cord length on all your electronics when you do this. Be prepared to rearrange items on your desk. I had a stack of file folders out that I was working on. Now, instead of a pile of them on top of my desk, I used a heavy-duty napkin holder that wasn’t getting any use, to stand up some of the folders and then to also act as a bookend for more folders. My printer served as the other “bookend.”

 

If you don’t want to create a standing desk, you can always sit on a fitness ball. These are great and use more muscles than you would think because you have to balance yourself on the ball. Sounds easy until you try it and it’s a good alternative.

 

Whenever I want to use my laptop computer in a standing position, I place it on my bookcase at a shelf that is comfortable for my arms.

 

Now all I have to do is figure out how to make a walking treadmill so I can walk in place while I work standing!

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My Favorite Low Impact Cardio Exercises

2 Oct My kickboxing routine

I’ve been an avid exercise enthusiast for a long time now, but there are times that I can’t go to the gym. Maybe I’m between health clubs, maybe the car is being repaired, maybe the snow is two feet deep. I’m sure you can come up with a few “maybes” too. Finding a good low impact exercise routine that pushes your cardiovascular system can be a challenge. This is especially true when you don’t own a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Fortunately, I found an excellent way to increase my heart rate when I’m home bound.

 

Two Exercise DVDs Stand Out

I have written reviews of over 40 exercise DVDs on a website called epinions.com. You can click on the REVIEWS tab on the top of my blog page to browse them or click on link of the DVD review I write about below. There were many more exercise DVDs that I watched and didn’t write up. Here are two that stand out from the crowd. If you’re like me and don’t have cardio equipment at home because of lack of space or lack of funds, this is the alternative that I go to that makes me sweat as much as an elliptical trainer machine. It’s an exercise skill I learned at a health club that has become my favorite exercise: kickboxing.

 

Automatic Repeat Segments

If your health club doesn’t hold kickboxing classes to help you learn the moves, you can buy DVDs that start out with the basics and then move up to DVDs for advanced kickboxers. “10 Minute Solution Kickbox Bootcamp”  with Keli Roberts is a good starter. She begins slowly to show you how to do the move correctly and then repeats it at a faster pace. Each exercise grouping is 10 minutes long. What I like on this DVD is that you can repeat a 10-minute segment as many times as you want in whatever order you want. So, if you only want to work on your arms and shoulders, you can select the Arm & Shoulder Sculptor routine as many times as you want and the DVD will repeat that section for the number of times you chose. There are five segments; four are low impact.

 

Roberts is a highly trained instructor and she teaches the routine clearly. The music does not drown her out. I found this to be a problem in many exercise DVDs. Weights are optional. If you’re a beginner, you may want to start without them until you are more comfortable with the routine.

 

Tutorial Segment and Refresher Insert

The other kickboxing routine I like is “Kelly Coffey-Meyer 30 Minutes to Fitness – Kickboxing.” These routines are longer and more complex. The longest one is 53 minutes long. The DVD includes a separate tutorial segment of the kickboxing moves and an unobtrusive video “refresher” insert in the corner of your screen. It is a very challenging DVD and it took me some time to learn the routines. I was able to view it on slow motion on my TV/DVD which helped. You may want to try that too. Weighted gloves are optional.

 

A Modifier for Low Impact

Kelly Coffey-Meyer is a highly experienced instructor. Her DVD includes four other performers. One of the performers is called a “modifier” who follows the Coffey-Meyer routine but does a less strenuous version. When I need to, I follow her moves.

 

I own other exercise DVDs but none of them compare to these two as far as professionalism, intensity, teaching ability, and audio quality. Both include a core/abdominal segment.

 

There is no excuse to skip cardio exercises anymore. Try kickboxing. Sign up at your health club to learn the skill. Otherwise, go the DVD route. Either way, it’s fun, challenging, and gives results.

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Football, Pet Peeves, & Growing older all with Humor

1 Oct

Marcella Rousseau:

Don’t miss the cat’s paw going for that cookie!

Originally posted on Keli has a Blog:

Have you ever tried to hold in a giggle or a smile?

It’s really harder than you might think.

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My kind of cat

Now THIS is MY kind of cat!  :D

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It’s finally FRIDAY!!!!!!  Yippee….

cat on fench - Indulgy

I’ve thought several times this week to try to take the time to write something in my blog….  What can I say?  I’ve spent 4 days out of 5 with my mom… which have been nice days, but as my kids tell me….” there are times mom when you act like Grand-mother”… OH MY GOSH, while I love my mom 100%, there are several “habits” or “behaviors” that accompany her personality that I REALLY don’t want to have.  I begged my kids to tell me cuz I really don’t want to drive them crazy when I get older.  Yikes……

What if I fall?

(I just love this picture, have no idea where it came from, but it’s perfect in my opinion!)

View original 441 more words

High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator) Part II

24 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/whirlpool-estate-6-shelve-options-crisper-meat-drawer.jpg

When I had bought my Whirlpool Estate eleven years ago, the instructions said to wash the inside of the fridge before storing the food. My new Frigidaire instructions didn’t say anything about washing it but I did it anyway. I hated to take the time to do it, knowing that all my food was melting, but it was easier to do it then than later! Plus, while wiping it down, I found particles of white plastic in the freezer so I was glad I took the time to do it. The outside of the fridge still had some Styrofoam particles on it so I wiped the outside of the refrigerator too. I can’t tell you how many times I wiped and mopped up the floor which was still sticky in spots for days!

 

I was lucky in that I had finished the caramel swirl, chocolate chip ice cream the day before my refrigerator went out on me. Wouldn’t that have been a lovely mess! I was also lucky in that I decided to pull the fridge out from the wall for the umpteenth time Wednesday morning to check the drip tray. It was filled to the brim. If I hadn’t checked, the delivery men would have likely spilled it all over. That would have been a nightmare. I got an old towel and a bucket and drained it dry.

 

The new Frigidaire had tape everywhere! It was worse than a crime scene! The shelves were shrink-wrapped in plastic. What a pain when you’re in a hurry! I was afraid I would break the shelves getting the tape off. Since I was working as fast as I could, I didn’t get every drip off every food item so some things went in the fridge moist. That was a mistake. The next day, I noticed I had water in my crisper drawers. I was hoping the new fridge wasn’t malfunctioning already and thought it might be from the wet items on the shelves so I mopped up the crisper drawers with a paper towel and dried off some of the foods on the shelves. I still had to cook the defrosted meats because I didn’t want to throw them out. Who wants to cook at a time like this?

 

I had some Coho Salmon that defrosted, previously purchased from the fish counter so it was well-wrapped. I just threw that in a frying pan with some butter and ate it before anything else. It was very good! I also made a bag of previously frozen shelled edamame to go with it – the kind you just put in the microwave and steam. Easy and quick was all I could handle Wednesday night.

 

On Thursday morning, I was up early because it was going to be the coolest day of the week and I needed to mow the backyard. It was actually pleasant with a mild breeze. We had been having hot, sweltering, muggy, rainy, humid weather in the high 80’s. Even though I had long pants on and a shirt with long sleeves, and enough mosquito repellant on to make me cough, I still got bitten when I mowed! Only one bite this time though; I am like fillet mignon and strawberry shortcake to a mosquito.

 

Thursday afternoon I made meatballs of the defrosted ground turkey, fish sticks from the cod fish, and chicken nuggets from the chicken breast. I realize I didn’t have to be fancy when trying to save these meats and fish, but I do love to cook and although the flouring, egging, and breading was time-consuming, the end result was worth it and delicious! (I was determined to get something good out of this experience!) I found a great tartar sauce recipe from a Martha Stewart DVD that I got from the library the week before. I ate like a Queen with my newly working refrigerator!

 

Friday morning I mowed the front yard. It began raining so I had to stop after only doing 1/3 of the yard. I went to the library and then the grocery store and picked up some of my favorite things: spinach dip, blue corn tortilla chips, white flesh nectarines, watermelon, bread and butter pickles, and a bottle of red wine. After the week I had, I deserved it! When I came home from the store, I finished mowing. It was the sloppiest mowing job I’ve ever done but I didn’t care! I just wanted it all over with so I could relax!

 

Saturday I forced myself to do nothing. It wasn’t easy but I needed the rest. I was exhausted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Today, as I write this, is Sunday the day of rest, but I continued cleaning up and organizing things. The new fridge had caused a chain reaction: items got rearranged in the kitchen, put away, washed and wiped; baseboard trim that had separated from the wall behind the fridge got hammered into place and sealant was squeezed onto spaces between it and the wall and the floor; wall paper that had come away from the walls in the bathroom and the bedroom got re-cemented with wallpaper glue, and so on. It was like I was just moving in! I was stuck in “drive” gear and couldn’t get out! However, now that it’s all done, I feel pleased and I don’t feel exhausted anymore. Who knew a dying refrigerator could be so much work? And it could have been so much worse! All along I kept thinking about people who suffer through flooding disasters. I don’t know how they continue to stay in their home afterwards .

 

So, in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I learned a few things that could help me if a future catastrophe happens and maybe you could learn from my experience too. None of the food made me sick – I was worried about that. All my yogurt containers were good. Even my homemade meatball calzones that I had in the freezer which defrosted, I ate and they were good! I guess I did a better job with the bags of ice than I realized! I always wondered why some people needed a second fridge in their garage. I’m beginning to see the benefit now! Imagine life without a refrigerator? Do you remember your grandparents having an icebox?

 

I’m glad I am in good physical condition because it helped me to rebound quickly. It also helped me to move my fridge, pack my food in containers and place a 7 lb bag of ice on each one. All the more reason to work out ladies so you can tackle household emergencies without injuries or mental breakdowns! Fitness rules!

 

It’s interesting that all of this happened the week before the Labor Day Weekend. Now I know why they call it Labor Day!

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High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator).

22 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/my-frigidaire.jpg

Good health encompasses stress; some of it good, some of it not so good. You can lessen stressful situations with good planning. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. Exercise can help control stress in most situations, but maybe not this one!

 

Stress denial: On Tuesday, I noticed that the packaging of my store-bought pastry in my freezer seemed a bit soggy. I ignored it. While dozing off to sleep that night, I noticed my refrigerator often making a clicking sound. Uh-oh I thought, and fell asleep. On Wednesday morning I tried vacuuming the refrigerator coils since I neglected them for several months. No change in the clicking noise. I pulled the plug and then plugged the fridge back in one minute later. No change. I turned off the fridge and pulled the plug. No change. The refrigerator kept clicking. By Thursday morning, I realized that all my frozen food was defrosting in my freezer.

 

Full blown stress: I decided to buy several bags of ice to help save my food. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because I couldn’t make up my mind if I should buy a new refrigerator or call a repairman. The last time I called a repairman for a refrigerator I learned that he would charge $100 just to come out to look at it! I called the Whirlpool number to get a repairman for my Whirlpool. The gal I spoke with asked me how old my refrigerator was and I told her, eleven years. “Oh!” she said. “If it was me, I would buy a new one.” I asked her how long they usually lasted. She said between 10-13 years. I didn’t have time to do research online to find out if what she said was true and I didn’t have time to research refrigerators to see what would be the best deal for me unless I wanted to let all the food in my fridge go to waste while I did my research. So, I went to H.H. Gregg and asked the saleswoman if the sale coming up included the week before because they were advertising 30% off! Frankly, I didn’t understand her answer but I think I got a good deal anyway!

 

Stress ebbing away: I wasn’t charged a delivery fee or one to cart away my old fridge. I was able to open up an H.H. Gregg charge account for 5% off the cost. The best news was that they could deliver my new fridge the next day!

 

After I left H.H. Gregg’s, I went straight to Meijer to buy ice. One 7 lb package was $1.67. They also had 20 lb packages of ice but that would be too unwieldy. So I bought two of the 7 lb packages and put one in my freezer and one in the refrigerated section.

 

On Thursday evening, I got a call from H.H. Gregg’s telling me the refrigerator would be delivered between 3 – 6 pm on Friday and they would call me 40 minutes before arriving. That was perfect because I would use those 40 minutes to remove everything from the fridge.

 

I had my Rubbermaid container ready for the refrigerated food, and a clean, cardboard box which I lined with heavy plastic for my freezer food. In hindsight, I needed a bigger box. I also learned from this experience to not put foods in plastic bags. They become sloppy wet. All my cheeses which were wrapped in plastic wrap got wet. All my frozen vegetables and frozen cherries in their original plastic bags were soggy, defrosted and I didn’t feel safe using them. I had to throw them away since the bags were opened. Although I previously thought wrapping a rubber band around the plastic bags after I had opened and used them was fine, it was only good like that if your refrigerator doesn’t die! I will be on the lookout for tightly sealed plastic containers.

 

Stress comes in all shapes. If you handle it calmly, you can get through it easily enough. I won’t recommend exercising to get rid of refrigerator stress because just moving food from the refrigerator to other containers is a workout in itself! Not to mention that I had to wash the floor three times due to items dripping and the fact that a piece of thawed fish leaked all over everything due to a small hole in the plastic packaging. Hence, the need for plastic containers!

 

I am enjoying my new refrigerator, a Frigidaire, even though when it runs it sounds like a cross between the boiler room of the Andrea Doria and LaGuardia airport. I don’t care. Sometimes denial is a beautiful thing!

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10 Cheeses You Have Never Tasted or Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

19 Sep Cheese-Eating Mouse

This New Food Friday Flash I am writing about cheeses that you most likely have never tasted or even heard of. As demand for new and interesting foods is growing in America, we have seen many new cheeses in the dairy case of our favorite supermarkets. As a cheese lover, and a person who watches her calcium intake daily, I am always on the lookout for a new cheese. The cheeses I mention below however, are not at my grocer yet…maybe in the future. Some have strange names as you will see! Some have interesting pairings. All are popular in their native countries. More cheese please!

 

Smetana

Made by Russian dairy workers, this cheese is more of a sour cream and essential as a topping for soups, an accompaniment to blinis and caviar, and mixed hors d’oeuvres called zakuski that are eaten with shots of vodka. (We drink wine with our cheeses, they drink vodka.) Some Smetana are sweeter, some are more sour. Some have a butterfat content of 20%; some 40%. Not surprisingly, the best smetana is artisanal smetana. Skoal!

 

Skyr

We never hear much about Icelandic cooking if ever, but this cheese was introduced to Iceland by the Vikings. Icelanders consider skyr a national specialty. Skyr is similar to yogurt but it is not a yogurt. Skyr is a low-fat cheese made from milk that has been curdled using rennet then drained. It has added bacteria to it similar to what is found in yogurt. It is digested more quickly and easily than milk and considered to be a healthy food as it doesn’t contain stabilizers nor skim milk powder often used in the manufacture of yogurts. Icelanders traditionally eat skyr at breakfast or with dessert. Flavored versions are also made in Iceland. Try some on your next trip to Iceland, the country with no army.

 

Sakura Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I love award-winning cheeses and wines. Sakura is a handmade cheese created by a farmer from a country not known for its cheesemaking: Japan. It is made in Hokkaido, Japan from Swiss Brown cows’ milk and has been winning prizes since 1998, including a gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics. (There’s an Olympics for cheeses? Who knew?) One of the methods of creating this cheese is that it is placed on salted leaves of the Sakura cherry tree and left for eight days to ferment so that the cheese absorbs the fragrance of the leaves. A salted pink cherry blossom flower is placed on top of each cheese before they are packed into boxes. I’ve experimented making my own yogurts but this farmer makes me want to try my hand at making my own cheese!

 

Stinking Bishop

The story behind the name of this cheese is far more interesting than the cheese itself! Apparently, there was a farmer called Bishop with a bad temper who once shot a kettle containing hot water because it didn’t boil! This cheese was developed in the 1990s. The creator, a conservationist, hails from Gloucestershire and is a collector of the Worcestershire pear trees and the main force behind saving the heritage breed of Gloucester cattle. (At least he put his anger to good use.) As you might imagine, the aroma of the cheese lives up to its name. Closepins anyone?

 

Serra da Estrela

This cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese from sheep that may well be on the endangered species list. If it wasn’t for making this cheese, they might have already become extinct! The sheep and the cheese come from the highest region of Portugal called Serra da Estrela. The sheep are predominantly black coated and are known as Bordeleira sheep. How sad if they were to become extinct because this cheese is known as the “king of Portuguese cheeses.”  The milk is curdled with rennet from the cardoon thistle. The Portuguese spoon it onto their traditional cornmeal bread called broa. It has a sweet taste with undertones of burnt toffee. Because these sheep are so rare, milk from other species is increasingly used.

 

Taleggio

Wasn’t there a character named Taleggio in the Godfather? But I digress. This is a cheese from Lombardy, Italy and until 1918 had been known as stracchino (not to be confused with the word stacchino which means toothpick) a dialect word (the last I heard, Italy had 42 dialects) that relates to milk from cattle that were tired after their  seasonal droves from the alpine pastures into the valleys. Taleggio is a full-fat cheese with a powerful aroma for which it is famous. Its ripening process lasts more than a month and its surface is smeared with a brine solution and inoculated with a mold and bacteria. Taleggios from Valtellina, Valsassina, and Valtaleggio (Val meaning valley) have a distinctive taste that can be meaty, beefy, mushroomy, fruity, nutty, and salty, all at once. No wonder it is protected by a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). Call me biased, but the Italians sure know how to eat!

 

Ardrahan

Foods from Ireland are beginning to make a mark in America, witness by the cooking shows from Ireland and their native popular chefs. Andrahan cheese belongs to the family of modern Irish cheeses pioneered during the 1980s. This cheese appeared in a farmhouse in County Cork from the family’s herd of pedigree Friesians. It is a pasteurized, semisoft, washed-rind cheese using vegetarian rennet (as opposed to animal rennet). Bacteria is inoculated into the brine with which they are wiped during early ripening. Low in fat and cholesterol, it is a popular cooking cheese in its native Eire. It is regularly served at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Olomoucke Tvaruzky

If you can pronounce it, you can eat it! OT is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known traditional cheeses. It was first documented in the late fifteenth century, when it was reputed to be a favorite of Czech king Rudolf II and was awarded a prize at the first Austrian Dairy Exhibition held in Vienna in 1872. It even has a museum dedicated to it in the town of Lotice. This cheese is either one of the best tasting cheeses ever or it has one heck of a public relations agent behind it because it was also included in a Czech-Chinese banquet when Olomouc cheese dumplings in ginger sauce were served as a dessert. It is commonly eaten with bread and is a staple ingredient of Czech cuisine. As you might have guessed, it found its way to the bar scene and is a popular bar snack that can also be fried in batter.

 

Churpi

Churpi comes from the shaggy-haired yak found in Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, farmers also have made churpi from buffalo or cow’s milk. It is also unusual in the sense that like most cheeses which are cut with a knife, churpi is broken into pieces using a hammer. (Make an appointment with your dentist now!) It is then sucked on or chewed over a long period of time from 10 minutes up to an hour to get the distinctive flavor. For this reason, it is a portable, nutritious, and energy-giving cheese. It is very popular in Nepal where it is chewed like chewing gum. Tibetans fry churpi with young tendrils of a local fiddlehead fern called ningro. You may find this cheese in your dairy case eventually thanks to the Chinese government putting its weight behind yak dairy initiatives.

 

And last but not least…

 

Moose Cheese

That’s Moose Cheese, not Mouse Cheese. Two Swedes in the sleepy community of Bjurholm adopted a couple of abandoned moose. Long story short, they now own more than a dozen moose on their dairy farm. Would you believe it is the only moose dairy farm in Europe. I believe it. Maybe somebody should tell Amy Poehler’s brother (Greg) who stars in the new sit-com “Welcome to Sweden.” Funny show. Greg (Bruce Evans) is unemployed and looking for a job. Working on a moose farm would fit just perfectly into that show. But maybe they’ve already thought of it. Stay tuned! Anyway, this story just gets stranger….People travel to the Algens hus (Moose House) to pat the domesticated moose and to try the unique moose cheese. I have seen a moose up close and personal at a drive through zoo many years ago. The one I saw was a male that was ugly, big, and mean looking! The females, on the other hand, while still no beauty contestant winners, produce about a gallon of milk a day which is similar to cow’s milk but higher in protein and fat. The cheese is extremely expensive and is sold in upscale restaurants and a few exclusive outlets in Sweden. There are three different types of moose cheese, one of which is best described as a feta type and stored in rape oil. How do you get people to eat cheese from a moose? You raise the price to an outrageous level.

 

I don’t know how I’m going to top this in next month’s New Food Friday Flash. I may have to retire while I’m at the top of my game!

 

Happy traveling and if you get the opportunity to travel to the countries mentioned above and try any of these cheeses, please drop me a line in the comment section! Variety is the spice of life. It keeps life interesting and your mind alert. It’s good for your health!

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