Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Random Tuesday Thoughts

 Hello to the first Tuesday of the new year!  I stayed home with my brood, as I have for the past three days.  I haven't even walked the dog due to bad weather or husband getting home at 5pm and I hate walking after dark.  

On Sunday I ran out of espresso, this is like a really big deal for me.  The only times in my life that I go without an espresso in the afternoons are when I'm sick or in China.  Regardless, I've shown incredible restraint and still stayed home to focus on getting the kids back into virtual learning and myself back to virtual work.  Husband came home today and proudly presented a bag of espresso and you'd have thought it was Valentines day already!

Prior to husband's grand entrance I decided to make due with this old can of Cafe Du Monde, it tasted like dirt, I was so confused, then I checked the bottom of the can and it's expiration date is 12/23/19.  

So I switched to tea.

That's all I got for today, but I am excited to rejoin Stacy's Random Tuesday Thoughts which she has faithfully kept going for a very long time.  Stacy, if I had a glass, right now I would toast you for your wonderful consistency.  



Monday, January 04, 2021

2021 Amaryllis

For the past two or three years my uncles from Pittsburgh would come down to visit us in the spring and fall.  Each time they bring an amaryllis for all of us.  This past year, due to the coronavirus, they sent a care package to me of six bulbs and a gift card to purchase pots and dirt then distribute them to each family member.  It was my absolute pleasure to do this.  Now my bulb has finally bloomed!  This is also my dad's favorite flower and it's his birthday month so this is like the loveliest gift for me.



Sunday, January 03, 2021

Butter

I may have overdone it on the butter.  Last weekend Mike bought two boxes, I've gone through both and almost did a panic run for more today but it was sleeting outside.  

Today's lunch menu was the following:

  • Spiral Ham - no butter
  • Cornbread Casserole - one stick
  • Butternut Squash Casserole - one stick in the casserole and 2 tablespoons in the topping, I ran out right before making the topping and had to put this in the fridge for another day 
  • Mashed Potatoes - the back up dish from not serving the Butternut Squash, but still required butter so used the spreadable kind
  • Green Beans - no butter
  • Shells and Cheese - no butter
Where did all the butter go?  I know yesterday I made more awesome pumpkin scones which take 1.5 sticks of butter.  Prior to that I have no clue.  We must use butter sticks with obscene frequency.  I should probably cut back, but it is a Covid-19 year.  We need butter laden comfort food!

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Lemon Bread

Lemon bread is perfect when I need a break from squash, chocolate, spice, and other fruit breads.  This recipe is very light and fluffy and not at all dense like a pound cake.

I probably use an excessive amount of lemon compared to most lemon bread recipes but I really want to taste it!  I love juicing fresh lemons and getting that heavenly smell in the kitchen.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (Greek is also fine)
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil 
  • Juice of 1 lemon squeezed and strained (I know this can produce more or less depending on the lemon size but I haven't found it makes a difference)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract 
Mix above together in medium bowl.

Dry Ingredients (in Kitchen aid or large mixing bowl):
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.

This recipe makes one 9 x 5" pan and one mini loaf pan 5 x 3".  I had considered cutting back the recipe but the mini loaf is so special and tender.  Maybe I should just do 4 mini loaves!  I buy loaf pans from Williams Sonoma and they sell a four pack of the minis.  The goldtouch pan make exceptional bread.

Directions:
After putting the mixture halfway full into each loaf pan, bake the mini for 30 minutes at 350 and the regular size for 50 minutes.

Icing:
  • 1 cup confectioner sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Wait until bread has cooled then pour icing over tops, use a knife to gently pull bread away from the sides of the loaf pan and drizzle down the sides.  I keep my bread in the loaf container and cover with foil or put in a plastic cake saver.  



Friday, January 01, 2021

MMXXI

Happy New Years!  Today was a nice relaxing day spent at home.  It was raining outside with the forecast of freezing rain.  I don't go anywhere when it's freezing rain.  Once, when I was a teenager, it was freezing rain after two weeks of being snowed in.  A friend begged me to come over, said the roads would be fine and convinced me to give it a try.  My dad didn't say no, but strongly warned me to not try it.  I went anyway and slid out of the driveway and into a ditch on the other side of the road.  Classic.  My dad didn't tell me I told you so, he just got to figuring out how to get my car out and I stayed home.  Since then I stay parked at home when it's freezing rain.

Thankfully we have all that we need and had no need to go anywhere.  For our New Years celebration we made:

I also made my favorite Lemon Bread for breakfast.  January is a month where I don't have any assigned fruit or veggie to cook with so it's time to bring back the classics for a few weeks.  

Post meal we launched The Two Towers disk 1.  It's alot to get through with four kids and we do an intermission mid-way for dessert.  I think most of them are enjoying it but they did seem to respond better to the Hobbit movies.  It's fun to have epic movie nights and my brother has been been coming over to enjoy them with us.

I feel like I should say something poignant about how we are going to make this the best year and yada yada go team but I'm feeling really mello these days, and a little bit melancholy.  I really do hope and pray for the best but we're still in the midst of Covid-19 with the future feeling very uncertain.  I'd just like to say I'm super thankful for family right now and we are doing our best to make the most of our time together, with those we have left.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Our thriftiness knows no bounds

I just got an email from Chick-Fil-A saying our most favorite item on the menu in 2020 is - WATER!  That's right, the free item on the menu is our favorite.  This is a result of requesting 6 waters every time we go to CFA and as a result it accumulated as our most ordered item.  

Baked French Toast with Honey Pecan Sauce

This is our favorite Christmas breakfast.

Ingredients:

4 eggs beaten

¾ cup half and half

½ Tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 thick slices French Bread

¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup honey

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup chopped pecans

Combine eggs, half and half, brown sugar and vanilla extract in small bowl.  Pour half the mixture into baking dish.  Place the bread on top and pour the other half of mixture on top.  Refrigerate covered overnight.

Melt butter in 9 x 13” baking dish and stir in brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and pecans.  Add soaked slices of bread.  Bake at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes until puffed and brown.  Serve immediately

This does not need syrup or butter after baking because of the sauce it is baked in, but when reheating it might need some syrup so it's not dry.  

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Could Covid-19 be repeated in our lifetime?

The short answer is yes.  I base my prediction on 19 years of travel to Asia and following their progression of SARS coronaviruses from 2002 to current day.  

In 2001 I made my first trip to Asia, I was 25 years old and my mission was to work through complications of Monsters, Inc. plush toys which included the nose of Sulley and sound boxes.  I first went to Hong Kong because my flight to Korea was diverted due to a worker strike.  I then went to Korea for a week and then back to Hong Kong to finish my trip.  I could write so much more about this single trip but that's for another post.  For this post it's merely a point in time.

The 2nd time I went to Asia was in 2004 and as business has ramped up, I was required to go three times a year until the financial crisis of 2008 where we cut back on travel and I got pregnant with my first child so that kept me home until spring 2009.  

After I started having children I went to Asia twice a year for client meetings, these trips could be anywhere from 2-3 weeks long with 10 day stretches in our China sample room working alongside the team on hundreds of plush developments over the years.  

In these years of travel, I avoided 3 SARS coronaviruses and 1 Swine flu which is a type of influenza:
  • 2002 - 2003 - SARS
  • 2009 - Swine Flu (H1N1)
  • 2012 - MERS
  • 2019 - Covid-19 - I traveled to Asia in January and I would have traveled again in October but the protests in Hong Kong raged all year long and it kept away our buyers so we traveled more to California.  I also would have possibly gone January 2020, but protests continued so we went back to CA to see buyers.
To my knowledge, only two of these diseases made it out of China and into the rest of the world, in 2009, H1N1 spread rapidly but it was not as deadly as the current Covid-19 so no lockdowns or world wide panic.  I don't think it prepared the world for Covid-19 because it was ten years ago and the world reaction was concern but not panic.

This last one has been incredibly shocking in terms of world wide reaction, panic, misinformation, general misbehavior, and the devastation to hundreds of industries dependent on travel. I could go on but if you've lived through this you get the general idea.  None of these prior diseases caused this much devastation to the entire world.  

Let's look at the time line between each disease - just looking at coronaviruses since they seem most feared:
  • From SARS to MERS 10-12 years
  • From MERS to Covid-19 - 8 years
There's no easy way to predict with any absolute certainty when the next virus will hit but I'd say it could be anywhere from 6 to 10 years.  The only question my husband and I have is how can we better prepare for the next big one?  

This is our plan (post Covid-19):
  • Travel more to see friends and loved ones, truly own and cherish the moments we have together
  • Gather supplies so we are ready, I guess that means we are finally going to become preppers of a sense.  
  • We want to build a home that has enough land to grow more crops with adequate storage, and places for all family members to find sanctuary and possibly isolation from others if needed.  In 6 years our oldest will be 18, in 10 years she will be 22.  We need a very big library!
  • Go to all the places we can't visit during a pandemic - zoos, libraries, restaurants, amusement parks, special places like the Gettysburg miniature horse farm
This is not meant to be a pessimistic post, we are optimistic in our plans to make the best of time when we have the freedom to move about and embrace others, and then when it's time to hunker down again, to be ready and embrace that time as well.