Judging Others — What’s That Say About Me?

I admit it, I am a judging judger.

I try not to judge people, but there are people who you instantly click with and people you don’t.  Some people I instantly make decisions about, based on what they wear, how they speak, or how many nose rings, tattoos or piercings they have, or what their political party is.  It’s not good. Continue reading

Blackberry Pie with Peanut Butter Crumble? – Oh Yes!

Good pie shotWhat pushes a mostly sane woman to wade into a flesh-tearing patch of blackberry brambles? The promise of hot, crisp blackberry pie with peanut butter crust and crumble. Add vanilla ice cream and you have a holy experience.

And I must say thank you to Brian and Pam Ellis, my former next door neighbors, who always let me know when the berries in their yard are ripe for picking. Good neighbors, are a treasure.

fresh berries in basket

Fresh blackberries, (or Marionberries – I think) so worth it!

I’ve written about pie before. This was one of the pies included in my Pies and Virginity blog. But, in retrospect, I think  blackberry pie with peanut butter crust and crumble really deserves its own blog post because it’s a delicious pie, that’s destroyed many a diet. It was pioneered by my mother, and proudly carried on by me.

I may not remember the name of the actress in the movie I saw 20 minutes ago, but I never forget a life-altering food moment. One of them was the time my mom decided to put peanut butter in a crust she was making for a blueberry pie. I tasted it and knew my mom was a food genius, it was that good.

Then, I decided that if a peanut butter, double crust pie was that good, how great would a peanut butter crumble be, especially one with crunchy peanut butter? And if blueberries were good, wouldn’t blackberries be great? That question got answered a few years ago when I made it for a family get together.  Both my brothers, who don’t throw food compliments around liberally, said, “I think this might be the best pie you’ve ever made.”

You can also just make this a crisp, by eliminating the pie crust bottom. It’s also killer good, faster, and a lot less work.

As I’ve said many times, we are all ho’s for blackberry pie and the peanut butter puts a blackberry pie in a whole new category of yum. To make the crust, I just take my regular pie crust before it’s rolled out, put a tablespoon or two of peanut butter in the middle,  fold it over, roll it, and fold it again a few times, then roll it out. It leaves the crust looking swirled with peanut butter.

*Also, make the crust first, then the crumble so it’s easier to assemble quickly. You don’t want to put the berries in the crust too long before you bake it, or it will get soggy.  And bake it closer to the bottom of the oven so the bottom crust gets crisp.

Mary Tunno’s Pie Crust with Peanut Butter Swirl 

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup Butter Flavor Crisco

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. sugar

1/2 to 1 cup very cold whole milk (you can put an ice cube in it to make it colder but remove it before you add the milk)

Mix flour, salt and sugar together then cut in Crisco and butter.  Mix well, it forms small crumbs.  Add enough milk so that dough can be molded into soft balls.  Better that the dough is too soft and sticky than too hard. Once you add the milk and have made about four or five balls, wrap each one in flour coated plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc, and cool it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Then take one of the flattened, cooled pie crusts, roll it slightly, and add one to two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter to it.  Fold it over, roll it out a little,  then fold it over three or four more times. The peanut butter should look like swirls in the crust. Roll it out on a floured board and place it in bottom of a pie pan.  Flute the edges then fill it with berries.

Peanut Butter Crumble

1 cup flour

2 cups whole, uncooked Old Fashioned Quaker Oats

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 stick melted butter (not unsalted)

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I use Laura Scudder’s)

 

Blackberry Pie with Peanut Butter CrumbleBlackberry crisp close up

6 to 7 cups blackberries or blueberries

1 cup sugar

2 1/2 Tbsp. flour

Mix together the berries, flour and sugar thoroughly, then place them in the bottom peanut butter swirl crust. Sprinkle a light covering of the peanut butter crumble top of the pie. You don’t want too much because the crumble absorbs a lot of the liquid, so you’ll have all crumble and not enough fruit.  (You may need to lay a piece of aluminum foil lightly on top of the pie or crisp, so the crumble doesn’t burn.) Bake at 350 for an hour or more or until you see the pie really bubbling and crust is brown.  Use a pie crust shield to protect crust from burning. And make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath or some aluminum foil to catch the drips!

At What Age Does Crankiness Set In?

Street trash.JPGI celebrated Earth Day by picking up all the crap stupid people have thrown in the street in front of my house and cursing them under my breath. Then, I came upon an empty cardboard box in the street with a name and address on it. I wanted to drive to this person’s house and drop it in the street in front of where he lived with a note that said, “How do you like it when people throw trash in front of YOUR house?”

But I could just hear my daughter saying, “Mom!  That’s what a crazy old lady would do.”  So I did the slightly less crazy thing and sent the man a letter, enclosing the label from the box I just recycled for him.

styrofoam cups.JPG

As if a waitress was on every corner.

I couldn’t help it, I was so ticked off! . My block is only 287 steps long, I only picked up my side and it totally filled a kitchen garbage bag!

So, below is what I wrote. Please read it and let me know if I’m getting pissy, or what…because I think I might be. At what age does getting cranky/pissy/irritable start? I know some 20 year olds who can be pissy, so I don’t think there’s an age limit. I think I’ve just been too nice all my life and finally, I’m fed up. Especially when it comes to littering our beautiful earth with trash.

Dear _________

I was out walking this morning and saw you left an empty cardboard box, with your name and address still on it, on the street near my home. Why would you do this? Do you not have recycling or trash cans in your home? Was your car so full you couldn’t have taken that small box home and disposed of it there? There’s a garbage can right down the street from where you carelessly dropped the box, could you not have dropped it in there, at least?

In and Out Trash.JPG

What the hell?

You must be somewhat intelligent, you’re ordering things for your computer, so how do you not understand the effect of dropping your trash in the street?

The world, and my street are not your trashcan. When you leave trash in the street, it gets pushed into our rivers and oceans, polluting them for our children and grandchildren. Maybe you don’t have any children today, but you may someday and you’ll have to answer to them about why our oceans are so polluted. It’s because people like you don’t care at all where you toss your garbage. Please think about it and do your part to save the environment, while there’s still something to save.

In the meantime, please keep your trash to yourself or in the trashcan, not on the street where I live!

Sincerely,

A Concerned Resident

He is probably laughing his head off, or maybe it got through. I ‘m an optimist, I like to hope it got through to him, particularly since it cost me 50 cents to send it.

Trident trash.JPGI remember the very first Earth Day. I was in ninth grade and through the window I could see high school kids scurrying around on the fresh spring grass, picking up trash. I was so hopeful that people would start caring about the environment, but I definitely don’t see much evidence of that on my street. And it’s a shame. As French President, Emanuel Macron so eloquently put it, “There is no Planet B.”

So, a belated Happy Earth Day to you. I plan to contact my local government to see if we can get some trash cans installed or someone (besides me)  to come and clean up the area, or get an education program started, or something, so I don’t get really cranky and start accosting people on the street. And I think a Sierra Club membership may be in order. If nothing else, it’ll be a group of people equally cranky about the environment, and we can all rant together.

I wish you and all of us an Earth that gets more beautiful as time goes on.

Bag O Trash.JPG

This was all the garbage on my side of the street –one short trashy block.

 

Buck the Bleep Up

Last week I was at work getting coffee,  talking about wanting to lose weight with a co-worker. I was saying how frustrating it was that I haven’t been successful. She’s one of my favorite co-workers. She leaned over to me smiling and said, “Sometimes Miss Fran, you just have to buck the f__k up,” which made me laugh so hard I almost spit.  She would know, she’s been a single mom for years.

But it’s so true. My half-hearted attempts at losing weight fail because I’m not pushing myself hard enough, and I know it. Simply put, I eat too damned much and haven’t been exercising enough.

It’s so easy to blame everything and everyone else, but if I really wanted to lose it, the weight would be off.  My life is everything I’ve created it to be up to this point. If I don’t like it, only I can change it.  That’s both liberating and depressing, if you really stop to think about it.

Stupid discipline — it was my father’s forte, but apparently isn’t mine. I have it in spurts. I even went running last night just to prove I could do it.  So, I’m attempting to hone more discipline so I can drop this 10 pounds I’ve gained since I started working at a job where all I do is sit and write.

IMG_7725.JPGIn keeping with my new ninja-like determination, I’m trying to create healthy lunches like the one I had today.  It was made of farro, zucchini, green onions, and sundried tomatoes, sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese.

Farro is an ancient grain that apparently has great health benefits and has been hip for a while after falling out of favor for a few hundred years. In 1/4 cup of uncooked farro there are 7 grams of protein, 160 calories, no cholesterol, 3 grams of dietary fiber, no fat and no sugars! It’s really good and kind of chewy, and filling.

Trust me when I tell you, I will never become one of those obnoxious people who forces her health crap on you because she’s seen the light. I’ve had people do that to me with food, religion, alcohol, you name it and it drives me nuts. My blog will always contain healthy stuff and trashy stuff because life is no fun if you don’t let loose every once in a while.  Be good and take care of your health, but when you do decide to have something trashy,  REALLY ENJOY IT!!! Then go back to being good again. I live by the good 90% of the time, bad 10 percent of the time motto. It keeps me mostly sane, even if I am usually 10 lbs. overweight.

And when you can make something like this Farro Zucchini dish, that tastes good and is good for you, well that’s proof there is a God, and she likes to eat too!

closer shot of farro.JPGFarro with Zucchini, Green Onions and Sundried Tomatoes

1 cup farro

2 cups water

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 bunch of green onions chopped in 1 inch pieces

2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

8 sundried tomatoes, choppped into small strips (I get big jars of sundried tomatoes at Costco and they are great!)

Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Farro cooks much like rice. Just put the farro in a pan with twice as much liquid and add a pinch of salt. Let it come to a boil, then let it simmer until it’s tender (about 20 minutes).  When it’s done, set it aside

In a medium skillet, saute the onion, and zucchini in the olive oil about 5 to 7 minutes, or until slightly golden on the sides.  Then add 1/2 of the farro (save the other half for the next night!) to the zucchini-onion mixture.  Toss to mix and add the sundried tomato pieces to the mixture. Mix thoroughly, and pour into a bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano and serve.

You can also add chopped parsley, or chopped black olives, feta cheese, or whatever sounds good to you. I made it again with leeks and zucchini and it was fabulous! I’m sure whatever you choose it will be good!

 

 

 

Cannoli Teleportation

My mother visited me last night.  Well, maybe not physically, but she was definitely here, because I went back to being a 9-year-old tasting her homemade cannoli at Christmas time in our flour covered kitchen.

But this time it was me making the cannoli.  I am a very novice cannoli maker and was spurred into a cannoli frenzy because I promised my friend Debra I’d bring them to a dinner tonight.  I’d only made cannoli shells one time before and they were kinda meh. That was four years ago,  but I tried again last night.

Mom's recipe

I love the fact that her recipe is written on a notepad from my brother Bernie’s Insurance company.

It was a challenge because I had two recipes, one I’d written down myself, probably with input from Angelina Belculfine, my mom’s best friend and the most amazing baker. The other one was in my mom’s handwriting. I actually have it framed on my dining room wall because it’s a classic. Mom was adorable, but not terribly accurate, so I wasn’t sure whether her teaspoon meant tablespoon, etc.  But I mostly trusted her and just went for it.

I wasn’t going to eat a cannoli tonight because I’m not getting any thinner, but how could I bring them tomorrow without knowing how they’d taste? Clearly, that wouldn’t do, so I filled the smallest one, and dusted it with powdered sugar.

Cannoli beauty shotI’m certain mom was beaming because it tasted just like hers.  I ran upstairs and made my son try it and he thought it was pretty awesome too.  So, once again, through food, I was teleported to 1965 and very happy to be in my mom’s New Brighton kitchen with powdered sugar all over me.

If you’d like to be teleported to 1965, here is her recipe.

Mama Tunno’s Cannoli 

2 1/2 cups Flour

1 Tbsp. sugar

3/4 to 1 tsp. salt (this was one I wasn’t sure of. She’d written 1 tablespoon, but I think she messed up the writing so I erred on the side of caution)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Butter Flavor Crisco (Plain Crisco works too)

2 eggs

3 oz white wine

(One additional egg beaten in a separate cup for making the cannoli stick together)

Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Once combined, add the Crisco, mixing it with your fingers. Once it’s pebbly, like pie dough add the eggs and wine.  Mix well with your hands until combined. Wrap dough in plastic so it doesn’t dry out.

In a large skillet or deep fryer, pour about 40 oz of canola oil. Heat it to 375 degrees.

Lightly grease the outside of 6 metal cannoli tubes.

Dough being cut.JPGWhile the oil is heating, roll out the dough to pie crust thickness, or slightly thinner, about 1/8 inch. With a rolling cookie cutter, cut a circle in the dough about six inches in diameter. Wrap it around the cannoli tube and where it overlaps, rub some of the beaten egg to seal the cannoli shell together. (I just sat the tube on the dough and rolled around it, eyeballing how much dough I would need. It doesn’t need to overlap too much — that was my mistake with the first several I fried.

Cannoli frying.JPGThen carefully place the covered tube into the hot grease. Let it fry for about 3 to five minutes or until it’s golden brown. Carefully remove it from the pan. You can cook a few at once, but I didn’t do more than three, so I could keep an eye on them.   Once the tubes have cooled enough to touch, gently remove the metal cylinders, grease their outsides and make more cannoli until the dough is all used up.

Cannoli Filling

(My mom used Citron in hers, but I’m not a fan, so I don’t. You Cannoli purists out there can hate me if you want for that.) Feel free to chop a little up and put it in if you like it.

For the White fillingTwo containers.JPG

1 32 oz container of Galbani Ricotta (This is the absolute best for cannoli. It’s smooth and not gritty!)

3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 good sprinkles of cinnamon

2/3 cup of mini chocolate chips

With an electric mixer, whip together the ricotta, the powdered sugar and cinnamon. When it it mixed and nice and creamy, stop whipping and add the mini chocolate chips. Then separate the filling into 2 parts. Use 1/2 to make the chocolate filling.

For the Chocolate Filling

1/2 of the white filling

1/2 cup chocolate chips melted

2 Tbsp whipping cream

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stovetop and and add the whipping cream. Mix together until smooth, then blend it into the 1/2 white filling.

Cannoli to be filled.JPGNow comes the fun part. Find 2 clean plastic Ziplock bags. (Or, if you’re advanced, use your pastry bags.) Fill one with chocolate filling and one with vanilla. Snip off one end of the plastic bags and use them to  Squirt the ricotta filling into separate ends of the cannoli.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. Do not fill until ready to serve because they get soggy.

If you like, you can dip the ends into chocolate chips or pistachios, but I like them plain.  Enjoy!

But be sure to change your shoes before you bake, I didn’t and now mine are a floured mess – just like Mom’s always were!Foured shoe and pantyhose.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

A Holiday Message in My Favorite Christmas Carol

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
When the snow lay ’round about
Deep and crisp and even

This is my favorite Christmas song, but I could never listen to it without getting teary eyed.

Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

The story always touches me no matter how many times I hear it…

“Hither, page, and stand by me,
If thou know’st, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”

Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine-logs hither
Thou and I shall see him dine
When we bear them thither.”

Such goodness is a beautiful thing to witness…in a song, or in your fellow man.

Page and monarch, forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how
I can go no longer.”

I could never get past that stanza without crying after my mom passed away. The part about the failing heart got me every time.

She’s been gone almost 26 years – you’d think I’d be over it by now. And missing her made me question my tradition of offering my baking to others as a gift.  I started asking myself why I do it, thinking maybe it’s an old custom and not necessary – other people don’t do it.

Then I played the song again and in the King’s lines, I heard my mom’s message…

“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shall find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

And I knew that I should’t quit, but boldly follow in Mom’s footsteps because she created a beautiful tradition. She showed me the way to treat friends, family, co-workers, even strangers.

In his master’s step he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed

Those were some pretty warm foot prints to walk in.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye, who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

Generosity of spirit never goes out of style.

I wish you all a beautiful Christmas. May you find joy in whatever the day brings, Drop your expectations and just accept what happens – it makes for a much happier time. And hang on to your traditions — they are priceless.

 

 

If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It

I always worry that I’m not experimental enough in the kitchen. I find a good recipe and then stick with it for the rest of my life.  This worry was spurred by a friend once comparing me to another friend who cooks.  She said, “You’re a great home cook, but ______, well he’s a chef.”

My pride was wounded, but I understood. The friend who she was talking about is a fantastic cook and loves to experiment in the kitchen with whatever the latest food trends are. If they don’t sound good to me, I don’t. So, black pepper never makes it into my ice cream and I’m OK with that.

But this year, I figured my rosemary with garlic and butter under the skin turkey was getting old, so I thought I’d try something new.  I went with a Pancetta Sage Turkey recipe I found in Bon Appetit. I almost did a recipe with lemon rind, Italian parsley and saffron but decided I didn’t want to spend 12 bucks on saffron.  So I did a twist on my rosemary butter and added a little lemon rind to it instead.

Know what?  My guests preferred the rosemary turkey over the pancetta sage, which is too bad because the pancetta sage turkey was a lot of work!

And this year I didn’t stuff my turkeys. I got two smaller ones instead of one larger one. I think I prefer a larger bird than two smaller ones and I miss the stuffing in the bird.  So, lesson learned. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  My family loves turkey with rosemary, garlic butter under the skin, so that’s what I’ll make.  But the lemon rind was a nice additional touch of flavor.

And the winner of the Annual Cutthroat Tunno Pie Competition is my nephew Chris. Yes, Chris again.  Clearly, he is putting crack in his pies, because everyone says they are absolutely the best.  One day, I will drug him so I can extract the secret to the pie and share it with you! Chris came in first, my big brother Bernie came in second and Nate, (my, I’ll make my own damned trophy) great nephew from my blog two years ago came in third.  C’est la vie. It was evenly split among the generations. (I had reported it incorrectly earlier, and thank God, Donna set me straight. No fake news here!)

However, I did try a new pie crust recipe and it was good. Not sure if it was better than my mom’s recipe, but it was definitely tied. The thing I discovered was that using a food processor when making a pie crust is absolute genius, takes one fourth the time and makes a flakier crust!

But one thing that I never see in any article about pie crusts is information about how to protect your crust from burning, especially if you have a deep dish apple pie,  because they take long to bake.  I use a Mrs. Anderson’s pie crust shield and it works like a charm. That is a link to Bed, Bath and Beyond, but you can get them at Amazon too. Both places have them for 5.99.  They also have an adjustable one, you can cut to size if you don’t make a deep dish pie size. They’re a little more expensive, but they are all worth it!

Here is the pie crust recipe. I found it in a Los Angeles Times article by Noelle Carter.

Flaky Pie Dough

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 cup water

2 1/4 tsp. cider vinegar

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

4 Tbsp cold shortening or lard

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Ice water if needed

Egg White for brushing crust

(The recipe in the Times said to chill everything, the blades for the processor, even the flour, but I didn’t and mine turned out fine.)

Mix together the sugar, water and vinegar until sugar is dissolved and put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Mix the flour and salt in the food processor. With the machine running, add the shortening and butter. Pulse until it resembles small pebbles. Add the vinegar water and when it starts to come together, stop the machine.  Remove the dough. If it needs additional water, add a little ice water to make it hold together. Then wrap it in cellophane and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to chill.

Remove and roll out on a lightly floured surface.

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Trophy close up- note Elissa clutching glory.

Who wouldn’t want this?

I’ll fill you in on the great Tunno Pumpkin Pie competition which is at Bernie and Donna’s house this year. We’ll see who goes home with the coveted trophy.

Enjoy your day with family and friends. If things get sticky, just remember, politicians come and go, but family is with you through thick and thin — if you’re lucky — for a lifetime.  So, celebrate the things you DO have in common – like an addiction to corn casserole.

And Happy Black Friday too! I know my Zazzle website, GettaSommaDis,  has some pretty great deals on Black Friday, so take advantage of the sales! You know you need some Italian Curse Word Wine Charms.

Topper and I send our best wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Apparently, I AM My Mother

Last Sunday, just before my daughter left with her boyfriend to take some things to college, she mentioned that the refrigerator light wasn’t on and the refrigerator didn’t appear to be working.

I leaped into panic mode because:

  1. Getting anything repaired in Los Angeles is usually expensive.
  2. Getting anything repaired on a Sunday in Los Angeles is usually very expensive.
  3. I just bought a plane ticket to go back to visit family for Labor Day, which I probably couldn’t afford, and this was God’s way of showing me that, (in your best God voice) “Yes, it’s true Fran, you probably can’t afford to go anywhere, and I arranged for your refrigerator to break down to beat that into your thick head.”

Thanks God, I needed that.

Then Hamlet showed up.  Hamlet was the repair guy from MK Appliance Repair, who not only came on a Sunday afternoon, less than two hours after I called him, but showed me that my refrigerator was not broken! We just had so much crap piled in it, a habit I picked up from my mother, that the air flow was restricted and therefore it wasn’t cooling like it was supposed to. And Hamlet replaced my refrigerator light for nothing!

The whole thing cost me 40 bucks.  I almost hugged him, but it would have been a really awkward moment. In my joy, I tipped him five dollars,

The only bright spot in all of this was that Hamlet forced me to take everything out of the freezer so he could check it.  It was a humbling experience because the contents of my freezer looked scarily like my mother’s, minus the small package of chicken feet she was hiding. Otherwise we could be freezer twins.

I found:

All the stuff.JPG

Some of my freezer stash

3 separate bags of grated cheese, one with less than a teaspoon of cheese.

Two very small pieces of frozen pie dough that, together, would barely even make a small tart.

4 bags of frozen bananas – some horribly brown, some hideously brown (the ones pictured are the hideous ones)

1 large bag of lemon juice left over from a wedding I catered last January

Lemon juice.JPG

New Year’s Eve Lemon Juice

1 small bag of frozen diced quince from God knows when

2 leftover ham bones (I had to throw one out – it was like Sophie’s Choice for me)

2 bags of chopped walnuts

1 small bag of hazelnuts

1 mostly empty container of leftover pesto

3 bags of Nestle’s white chocolate chips (I’m testing a theory that they last longer if you freeze them after opening them — I’ll let you know the results.)

1 container of chopped peanuts

3 bags of coconut

1 container of leftover peanut butter icing

1 container of vegan coffee icing from a blog over a year ago – Dear God what was I thinking?

2 peanut biscotti – those had to be from Christmas!

Coffee icing-vegan.JPG

When would I use this again?

1 bag of wheat buns

And that isn’t even all of it.  That was just what was in the door of the freezer. I’m sure this proves I have freezer-hoarder syndrome.  But, like my Greatest Generation parents, I hate to throw out perfectly good food. If I just baked a ham, I save the bone for soup. I do the same with chicken. If I make icing and have some leftover, I save it for the next cake.

I honestly can’t help myself. I can hear my mom’s voice in my ear. “Honey, dond a trow datta out — dattsa good a food!” I freeze nuts because they last longer that way. I freeze buns thinking I’ll make burgers, then never do.  I make plans for baking things that never transpire – that explains the brown frozen bananas. Even as I type this I was thinking about how many eggs it would take to make lemon bars from that lemon juice I found. But I decided to chuck it all since the plastic probably leached into it by now and I’m better off without lemon bars anyway.

The good news is I just made delicious split pea soup from the ham bone that won the Sophie’s Choice decision. Here’s a link to an old blog post with that Split Pea Soup Recipe. It’ll come in handy this fall and winter. I’m also going to wash all my plastic bags, then dry and re-use them. Then I’ll figure out what to do with all the Costco ravioli in the freezer, pick out some recipes for the frozen fish, then tackle the frozen meatball problem, then probably pass out.  But at least I’ll rest comfortably knowing my mother’s legacy lives on.

 

What Happens When You Stop Making Plans

Back in 2010 when I moved back to Pennsylvania, post divorce, I spent a lot of time with family.  My brother Bob, who was semi-retired at that time and I would occasionally go for walks, and he’d start reflecting back on his life.  He’d ask me things like what I wanted to be remembered for.

I kept thinking,  What the hell! I’m only 55, do I have to reflect already? I’m just getting started on my new life. I want to make plans, not reflect! I thought he was getting really morbid and it worried me. But he was sort of semi-retired after a very fulfilling career as a successful president of a company and he was in his reflecting phase.

Fast forward to today – guess who’s reflecting now? I think finally turning the age when a person can successfully apply for Social Security is what’s made me princess of the dark side.  Plus, working in a place filled with nubile 20-somethings sometimes inspires you, and sometimes makes you want to drag your withering corpse to the crypt already.

I’ve been torn recently, between making plans for the success I still feel like I haven’t achieved, and saying terrible things to myself about what the point is now anyway. After all, the painful truth is I’m closer to death than birth, unless I live to be 125.

But, you know me. I sometimes slip into a funk, but I always spring back because I know a powerful truth.  When you stop making plans and following dreams, you die.  I watched that happen to my ex mother-in-law and I know it’s true.

Life is just a series of goals you set for yourself. Some goals you reach, some take you down paths you never even imagined, and some never materialize. But pursuing them is what gives you a reason to get up every morning. And achieving them makes you feel amazing. And there are a ton of people who found amazing success when they were older. You can never give up the dream of being one of them.

So, maybe it’s crazy to want to finish this screenplay, or keep pursuing the other goals I’ve set, but the alternative is so much crazier. How could a totally healthy woman, with tons of energy, in one of the best countries in the world, with limitless possibilities at my fingertips, not set goals? That would be much crazier.