Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monday Morning Staff Meeting

Thank goodness the Farmer's alarm clock was set, otherwise I would missed the staff meeting.

First thing on the agenda, as always, is FOOD.

This morning we are going to have one of the simplest and delicious concoctions ever invented. It's called Stawberries Chantilly.

Many years ago I was invited to a co-workers apartment for brunch. At the end of the meal she brought out Strawberries Chantilly. I sat there, feeling like the provincial who just fell off the turnip truck. I'd never heard of this delectable delight and it was something in the hostesses attitude (disbelief perhaps?) that made me feel like the unsophisticated twenty-something that I was.

NOTE: Never, ever make your guests feel like they're out of the loop. Inform them with delight, include them, encircle them. They may forget what you served but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Here are the makings of Strawberries Chantilly.

Strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar. That's it.

How can these three simple ingredients add up to such a wonderful treat? They just do.

I dug through my vast collection of serving pieces and was able to find a miniature sugar bowl for each and everyone of you. That way you can double dip to your heart's content. Double dipping is paramount when you have large strawberries such as these.

Dip the strawberry in the sour cream and touch it into the brown sugar.

Do it again and again until everything is gone.

Dig in and let me know what you think.

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I'm finished with adventure for awhile. In the past two weeks I've walked the Appalachian Trail with Bill Bryson, rowed around the entire eastern half of the United States with........... and been dragged as an enslaved shipwrecked sailor across the Sahara desert.

I am seriously worn out. My feet hurt, my hands hurt and I've decided that extreme heat and hunger is not my thing.

The snow covered landscape of northern Illinois is quite inviting after all.

I want to thank reader Orlin for his tip that TWO gallons of milk should not be stored in the fridge door. He's right and if I'd put some thought into it I would have realized that the weight will indeed cause the door seals to fail. Heck, I love my sponsor but I'm not wanting to order anymore parts just now.

Barbara questioned the leftover wine. The guests didn't drink it all and to tell you the truth, I'm not much of a wine lover. It never fails to give me a headache, no matter how expensive or fine. I'd prefer some hard liquor, specifically a nice cold Tanqueray and tonic with two limes, on the side.

I do love sauces made with wine though so feel free to share those recipes with me.

Speaking of recipes, I have four file boxes filled with recipes and four shelves in our in-home library filled with cookbooks. So tell me, why do I prepare the same things every night for dinner? I think it's because I don't plan menus ahead of time. If I wanted to make one of those recipes in the file, I never have all the ingredients.

Perhaps I should cook along with someone. SCHNITZEL (Susan) would be a good choice. She makes wonderful and interesting dinners for the Trout. Yesterday she was cooking some Rancho Gordo beans from Mexico. I've never heard of them but they sound delicious.

Or the Mennonite girls. Holy cow, those women can cook. Their blog is aptly named MENNONITE GIRLS CAN COOK. Today they're making chicken noodle soup.
Heck yeah!!!

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I truly appreciate each and every one of my readers. Well, except for the comment spammers. I'm preparing a large cauldron of hot tar for their visits.

I do apologize though that my responsibilities around here currently don't leave much time for answering comments. I'm trying to work on that because I believe if you are kind enough to read and leave a comment, it's only polite to acknowledge that.

The Farmer is still unemployed and as you well know, jobs are pretty scarce. I've been looking also but without a degree and at my advanced age the scarcity level goes up. And so, I work to create my own job, make my own luck and affect our future in the best way I can.

I have little tolerance for people who sit around and bemoan their fate. Yes, life can throw you some unexpected and sometimes crushing blows, but we must at least get up and push forward in whatever way we can. There are entire nations of people who do not believe they have any power say in their future and having traveled to some of those places I can attest that it is true. The climate and conditions under which they live dictates that they accept the status quo and they wait endlessly for someone to do for them, instead of doing for themselves.

This is the can-do spirit that Tressa, from AMERICAN IN NORWAY talks about. If you are raised in a culture that is steeped in the idea that you be the architect of your own future, then you are given the gift of hope. At times Trisha is driven to distraction by the laid-back nature of the culture that has a different mindset, not bad, just different.

OK, I don't know where all that came from but I've been thinking lately about how lucky I am to simple be able to fire up a sewing machine and sit in my room and make a difference in my family's life.

It's huge.

Immigrants will tell you.

It's huge.

I am thankful and I'm keenly aware that this is not possible for some women and that I why I donate a portion of my earnings to TRICKLE UP. They provide small loans to women in third world countries so that they can set up a sewing machine in their home, or the supplies to operate a fruit stand in the market. A hand up not a hand out.

Hope. Empowerment.

It's huge.

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Why do my thoughts always return to food?

Yesterday's newspaper contained an article about waffles. I'm not a huge fan of waffles because they always seems so dry and bland. But the author assured me that the waffles served in tiny cabins at the bottom of ski slopes in Vermont, were waffles to die for.

The company is called WAFFLE CABIN and they have locations at ski slopes in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts.

Drat. I don't ski, I don't snowboard and I don't have the money to travel to Vermont. The author of the newspaper article did provide a recipe that she felt replicated the Waffle Cabin waffle. I'm e-mailing her to request permission to share the recipe with you.

In my kitchen I simply beat some wet and dry ingredients together and slap them on the griddle. Her recipe calls for two different mixtures, a sponge and a paste. There you go, once again I'm feeling like a rube because I've never heard of a "sponge". Well, you learn something new every day.

How about you? Waffles or pancakes when you're out for breakfast?

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Meeting is now in your hands. Let's get to work. What's on your agenda this week?


Leslie T. said...

You're so right -- a small loan to a woman in a third world country can open doors and provide a whole new life. Cottage industries are born every day through small gifts, and it changes lives for generations to come.
As far as waffles, I like to put a big portion of frozen (thawed) berries into the mix, and the waffles come out very moist and full of berry-licious goodness. No need for syrup or anything else. It makes my tummy smile. Then again, many things (too many things, hee hee) make my tummy smile.
Hope you have a good Monday! Stay warm! :)

Ang. said...

I am thankful every day that my husband retains his job. In fact, where he works is actually growing. An amazing thing in this economy! I hope that the Farmer finds something soon. :)

Can you believe that we have an election tomorrow? I need to spend some time today picking up voting materials for our township. I also need to spend some time researching candidates! It has been a very strange primary campaign. It seems that the only campaigning they are doing "downstate" is recorded phone calls and postcards.

The rest of the week will be taken up with basketball games, boob squishing (fun times!) and housework.

lifeinredshoes said...

Pancakes, the Mr. and I venture out to have breakfast for dinner once in a while and this place has the best ever pancakes.
I do make waffles once in a while. I like to put bacon, cooked and crumbled, in the batter. Then lots of butter and maple syrup on top!
I am very proud of the way you are handling this zig in the zag of your life. I tried that " Oh poor me" once, no one paid attention and that only made me feel even worse!
More of us would feel better if we had the " pull yourself up by your boot straps and dust yourself off" attitude that our ancestors did.
The strawberries were delish, the week is off to a great start!


This calls for CANDY APPLES. (p.s. my choice is French Toast. I agree, waffles are dry, pancakes are moooshy...french toast...I'll share my recipe delish.) CANDY APPLES on my blog for you. xo

chocolatechic said...

Strawberries Chantilly...oh, it sounds so wonderful. I'm gonna have to make it sometime. It looks so simple, but so elegant.


You have the hot tar, I'll bring the feathers for the spammers.


It is always pancakes for me when out to breakfast. Waffles seem to be rather tasteless to me.

Susan said...

Suzanne, thanks so much for mentioning me this morning on your blog! It is a thrill to know someone reads by everyday goings on. The Rancho Gordo beans were so good. Definitely worth the extra for extra taste. Strawberries tasted good this morning. Our Florida strawberries survived the freeze down here and they are very sweet right now, though still pricey. I have been paying $3 a quart, but it is a treat since we are doing without dessert these days. As for waffles...I am on fence about them also. The best experience with waffles was staying in an old wooden hotel in Norway where they had a waffle machine in the lobby where everyone could make their own. The iron was always hot and the toppings....lingonberries, a clotted cream, oh yumm, oh yumm. Thanks for taking me back there for a moment.

Jenni said...

I often make pancakes and waffles at home, so when I go out for breakfast, I'm more likely to choose one of those huge, lovely omelettes with hashbrowns on the side or fried eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and grits. I never get grits at home because I'm the only one who likes them. If there's something fancy like a new kind of crepe or stuffed French toast on the menu, I might give that a try, too.

Vee said...

You're all over the map today and I loved every word. It's given me a lot to think thing I know, I may not follow your book journey. My only disagreement? Waffles: I like them. And some fine day, should I remember, I will dip a strawberry in sour cream and touch it to brown sugar. Reminds me of something I love so simple...dates filled with cream cheese and a walnut on top. Okay, even I am coming back to food... Have a great day, Suzanne.

Mary Rex said...

I have recently started making sourdough, and I made my first pancakes with the starter last Saturday. They were delicious. My breads have been turning out well too;) and even though I have been employed as a baker several times when I was desperately looking for work, my bread baking at home has not always turned out till now. I enjoyed my time working as a baker, in spite of the fact that I was an out-of-work scientific illustrator. I also worked as a flagger, a silk screener, a landscape laborer (all during my forties) and finally as a temp, which led to my currrent full-time job as a secretary. It does get harder as you get older, but as you said, none of us have it as hard as those in third world countries. I applaud you for giving a hand up to these women. May your kindness return to you many times.

Anonymous said...

It's been a while since i've been able to read all of your posts, so I am amazed at how much has been going on, how busy and rich your life has been. Yet I know it's not easy when a spouse is unemployed. Here in Michigan, every other friend has lost a job (in journalism and auto industries) and is a still searching. Not easy. Will cross fingers for the Farmer.

Your posts often prove that it's the simple pleasures in life that sustain us. Juicy strawberries dipped in sweetness, for sure.

J'Ollie Primitives said...

Day One of Month Two of no job for me...but who's counting? I'm just a little surprised (and chagrined) to find that nursing jobs are scarce in my area!

The strawberries were a delight.

No thank you to pancakes & waffles, yes to French toast any day!

Kat said...

I'll stay in and eat aebleskivers with jam instead. Is that okay? you're more than welcome to join me, especially if you take a turn at the pan :~)

bv said...

why i read F.W....i always sit up straighter, i am always reminded that kindness is important, i am always reminded that our life is in OUR hands and to be a good sport about it, i am always charmed by her story telling, i am always inspired to be positive and most of all she always has such good food (and left over wine).
eggs benedict for me

George Gaston said...

Suzanne, it doesn't get much better than strawberries & cream...

Reading your morning staff notes always points me to new and adventuresome blogs with interesting recipes, facts & fabulous photos... Many thanks.

Marfa (Crafting Marfa) said...

Hi Suzanne: I like both, pancakes and waffles. But what I love about the waffles is that they have all the little squares so when I pour the syrup I can get it to stay ON the waffles. With pancakes, the syrup runs down the sides and all over the plate and its such a waste of wonderfully delicious syrup! I also like the fact that most of the time the waffles are toasty. But I'm not picky. I am willing to take on a large plate of pancakes quite easily. ;-)

StitchinByTheLake said...

Ok now I'm going to have to go buy strawberries - and I wasn't planning to get out tomorrow. blessings, marlene

Karen Deborah said...

Waffles, actually my favorite is the Old timers at the Cracker Barrel. I need to get all these books from the library for my recuperating time.
I agree Susan is a great cook.

Stuck on Sunflowers said...

I am not a fan of the waffle, but I do LOVE the pancake. The strawberries look great and remind me that winter will be over soon and we have fresh strawberries to look forward to in the garden. February is my worst month of the year, so let's get it going so it can be over with. Come on March!!!

Becky K. said...

Out to breakfast I order home I make awesome waffles!

Praying that your husband finds the perfect job soon. Times are tough but you are so right to keep a positive and always moving forward attitude.

Becky K.