fight it

Dear Mom, I am careful about what I eat all day and then when I am up late I start eating everything I can find. I even get out of bed and raid the kitchen. How can I stop doing this?

I’m shocked because I’m sure that you’re the only person who does this! Everyone does this sometimes, but if you do this every night that’s a problem. Since you’re strong enough to fight the temptation all day, but when you’re tired and you have no fight left in you that’s when you give in- late at night. Definitely never get out of bed to raid the kitchen. You can stop the other late night eating by not having the good stuff around. No candy, no cookies, no ice cream and no cakes- keep apples and bananas and cut up carrot and celery sticks around instead, not so tempting!

avoiding panic

Dear Mom, I try to be organized and calm, but then I can’t find something or something happens and totally throws off all of my plans and I panic. What can I do to avoid a panic attack?

If you have a plan and it gets side swiped instead of panicking try to figure out how you are going to get back to the plan. Spend your energy solving the problem that ruined your plan and keep going instead of spending your energy panicking and running around in circles getting dizzy…

today is National Coffee Day? I celebrate coffee every day…

the kitchen is open

I found ideas that looked amazing over the summer when I was reading The Kitchn, but it was too hot to walk into the kitchen. Since it’s getting cooler it’s a good time to try out some ktchn ideas:

How To Make Hasselback Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 
4 large potatoes, Yukon Gold, Russet, or Red Bliss
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, olive oil, duck fat, bacon fat, coconut oil, or a mix
  • 
Salt
 and Pepper
  • Optional extras: minced fresh herbs, spices, grated cheese, bread crumbs, panko crumbs

Equipment

  • Chef’s knife
  • Large serving spoon (optional)
  • Baking dish, oven-safe skillet, or baking sheet

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower-middle position.
  2. Wash and dry the potatoes: Scrub the potatoes clean and pat them dry. Alternatively, you can peel the skins off.
  3. Cut slits in the potatoes, leaving the bottom intact: Cut slits into the potato, stopping just before you cut through so that the slices stay connected at the bottom of the potato. Space the slices 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch apart. You can rest the potato in a large serving spoon and use that as a guide for when to stop slicing — slice straight down and when your knife hits the edge of the spoon, stop slicing.
  4. Brush the potatoes with half the fat: Arrange the potatoes in a baking dish. Brush the potatoes all over with butter or other fat, including the bottoms.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper: Sprinkle the potatoes generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, then brush with butter: Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes. At this point, the layers will start separating. Remove the pan from the oven and brush the potatoes again with fat — you can nudge the layers apart if they’re still sticking together. Make sure some of the fat drips down into the space between the slices.
  7. Bake another 30 to 40 minutes: Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are crispy on the edges and easily pieced in the middles with a paring knife. If you’re adding any extras, stuff those into the slits and sprinkle over the top 5 to 10 minutes before the end of cooking. (Total baking time is 60 to 70 minutes for average potatoes; if your potatoes are on the small side or are larger, adjust cooking time accordingly.)

Serve immediately: These potatoes are best straight from the oven while the edges are at their crispiest.

How to Make Your Own Hot Cocoa Mix

Makes 1 3/4 cup mix (about 6 servings)

What You Need

Hot Cocoa Mix:


  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% or greater)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or Turbinado sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

To Make 1 Cup Hot Cocoa:


  • 1 cup milk, soy or nut milk of your choosing, or water
  • 3 tablespoons Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Whipped cream, optional, to top
  • Ground cinnamon, optional, to top

Equipment

  • Chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Airtight jar for storage
  • Heavy-bottomed pan
  • Whisk

Instructions

  1. Chop the chocolate: Chop the bittersweet chocolate finely. Measure out all the other ingredients.
  2. Mix the cocoa ingredients: In a medium bowl, stir together ingredients. Make sure to incorporate the salt and powdered milk thoroughly.
  3. Store in an airtight jar: Pour mixture into airtight jar for storage. Store at room temperature for up to 3 months.
  4. To make the cocoa: Get out a heavy-bottomed pan. Measure out 3 tablespoons of your mix and add it to 1 cup of milk (or soy/nut milk or water). Gently warm over medium heat and whisk to incorporate the mix into the milk.
  5. Serve the hot cocoa: Pour the hot chocolate into serving cup (s) and enjoy immediately. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon if you’d like.

Recipe Notes

If you want a richer hot chocolate more in the style of a drinking chocolate, follow directions above but use 3/4 cup milk instead of 1 cup.

 

be happy

I feel badly that I get emails every day from unhappy people. After them it seems like there are two big ideas that keep coming up.

We still think that we can buy happiness. This is a huge mistake for a couple of reasons. The first one is:  the things that we think are going to make us really happy are usually expensive. This will never work, there will always be new things that we are told are better than the old things and things can’t make people happy. It doesn’t work that way. You will actually be more unhappy about being in debt paying for the expensive things that you buy when you buy another thing. Doing something you like to do, being with people you like to be with and appreciating what we have are all free and these are those are what make us happiest.

The other thing that unhappy people are doing wrong is: they keep looking for someone else to make them happy. If you are happy with yourself then you will probably be even happier with some one else, but if you are not really happy with yourself you won’t be happy in friendships or a relationship with anyone else either. You can’t be half of a happy relationship if you’re not happy and counting on the other person to make you happy.

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don’t toss the newspaper

Newspapers always seem to pile up, but that’s a good thing because you can reuse them so many ways…

Wet sneakers and shoes remedy: Have you ever completely soaked your non-waterproof shoes? You end up with a pair of shoes that smell pretty bad while they’re wet, they don’t seem to dry out well inside, and often lose their shape while drying. Crumple up the newspaper into balls, and stuff it inside the shoes, both to soak up the moisture, soak up the smell, and keep the shoes in the shape they were supposed to be as they dry.
Pantry and refrigerator drawer liner: Lay out the newspaper under food items like potatoes and onions to keep the moisture and bugs away. You can line other pantry shelves, in your cabinets or your fridge. If the newspaper gets old or something spills on the newspaper, just throw it away.

Seed Starter Pots:  Take a glass, turn it upside down, fold the newspaper over and round it to form the cup shape, pull it off the glass, and tuck the edges down into the pot to form the lip. Fill it with dirt plant some seeds and don’t over water the seeds!

Fire Starter: You can take sheets of newspaper and shove them in between the kindling inside the fireplace or chimneyea. Even better, take the newspaper, fold its strips into tight ropes and fold them back on each other and tie them together with rope; they make even longer lasting firestarters that way. To take this a step further, create firelogs by rolling large bundles of newspaper tightly into a roll and use twine to tie them together.

Papier Mache: To make a piñata cut or tear newspaper into strips, soak it in a mixture of 3 cups of water and 2-1/2 cups of flour, drape the wet gooey strips on an inflated balloon, completely covering the surface of the balloon; use a foam brush to lavishly paint on watered down white glue over the whole mess, then lay some more gooey strips and more glue until the pinata is the thickness you want. Let dry, pop the balloon inside, cut out a little door flap to hold the candy, paste some more wet newspaper on the door to seal it, paint up the white pinata and hang it up. This same papier mache technique can be used to create critters using cardboard tubes taped together to make animals, then cover it with the papier mache, let dry, and paint it.

Origami: Make hats, paper airplanes or roses.

Weed Blocker: Newspaper makes a great weedblocker in the garden. Just lay sheets of it down on the garden around the plants that you have planted. Generally, once you lay the newspaper down completely covering the soil surface that you want to remain weed-free, then mulch is laid down over that to hide the newspaper. The newspaper is porous, so water will still drain through it to nourish the plants it surrounds, but the weed seeds it covers do not get the water they need to sprout.

Packing Supplies: Pad breakable items as you pack them in boxes for moving or shipping. It is much cheaper than bubble wrap, still very light, and if properly crumpled and placed in plentiful quantities all around the fragile items and within the box, it does a very good job. More is better.

Disposable Table Cloths: If you are busy with messy craft projects protect the surface of the table you’re working on. Also, if you are serving messy food, like bbq spread some newspaper out on the table and pass out markers to decorate the newspaper tablecloth while the food is cooking. Clean up is easy afterwards.

Book Covers: You can use newspaper to cover books and keep them clean and dry.

Gift Wrap: Use newspaper to wrap up gifts. It can still look pretty if you use the comics section or a section with pictures and use colored yarn or twine to tie it up.

let’s chat

Dear Ask Mom- I have a friend who calls me and talks to me to take up time while she is waiting in line somewhere or driving somewhere, but otherwise I don’t hear from her. Is there anything I can do to stop her from calling me only when she has nothing to do?

Maybe that’s the only free time she has. If she is calling you at a time that’s not good for you tell her that you’re busy and ask when you can call her back, but if you’re not busy why not chat? If you really want her to stop calling don’t answer the phone when she calls and call her back at a time that’s good for you.

btw-happy birthday to my amazing assistant…I don’t know how I got so lucky

singing in the rain

Mom, I have a friend who thinks he is a great song writer and singer, but he’s not. He wants to sing his songs all the time and no one wants to hear them, but no one will tell him.  Should I tell him that he’s not  very good?

Lots of the songs that I hear are not good either, but someone must like them because they’ve made a lot of money from bad songs. Maybe try to limit the time and place that your friend sings his songs, but be careful about judging whether his songs are good or bad, he might be more amazing than you think!

chocolate chip heaven

Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve baked chocolate chip cookies or may be you’ve always made slice and bake and never make them from scratch…do it now, nothing smells better while it’s baking or tastes better hot from the oven-enjoy

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies- 

COOKING LESSONS FROM THE KITCHN

Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, but we prefer dark!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, very soft
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Equipment:
Large bowl
Mixing spoon
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Baking sheet
Cooling racks

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray the cookie sheet with nonstick spray or you can use a liner. Silicone liners (like silpats) and parchment paper both work very well.

2. Mix together the two sugars. Be sure to break apart any hard chunks of brown sugar and get the two sugars fully mixed. We prefer dark brown sugar because we think it has a deeper, more caramel flavor, but light brown sugar will make your cookies taste a bit sweeter.

3. Mix the softened butter into the sugar in globs. This helps really incorporate the butter and the sugar.

4. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Crack the eggs directly into the bowl with the butter-sugar mix, and then use your spoon to lightly beat the eggs before stirring them into the butter and sugar.

5. Measure and mix in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix the batter as much as possible right now. Break apart any remaining clumps and make sure the batter is a consistent color throughout.

If you prefer, you can mix the salt and baking soda with the flour in a separate bowl instead of adding them now. This ensures that these dry ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the batter, but we’ve never had any trouble adding them in at this point. Honestly, we just prefer to save ourselves an extra bowl to wash!

6. Add the flour all at once. At this point, you want to mix the batter as little as possible to avoid forming too much gluten. Stop mixing as soon as there is no more visible flour on the dough or in the bottom of the bowl.

7. Add the chocolate chips all at once and use a folding motion to incorporate them into the batter.

8. Scoop the batter onto your baking sheet, spacing the balls of dough roughly 2 inches apart. We use a tablespoon and measure out slightly rounded balls – they’re about the size of pingpong balls. You can certainly go larger or smaller as you prefer!

9. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes. Take them out when they look puffy, are set around the edges, and dry to the touch. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. As they cool, they will collapse back on themselves.

10. Transfer the cookies to a rack to finish cooling completely. Bake the rest of the cookies in batches.

Recipe Notes:
• Mixing cookies by hand, as we like to do, makes your cookies denser and chewier.

• You can certainly make chocolate chip cookies with a hand- or stand-mixer. Your cookies will likely spread out more in the oven, making the edges crispy and the middles tender.

• Cookie dough can be refrigerated for several days before baking. This will actually deepen the caramel flavors in the cookie. Cookie dough can also be frozen for several months.

• This recipe is gratefully adapted from the Original Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

don’t look back

If you can’t move on and it’s making y0u unhappy, you’re not alone. Until you can stop holding on to the past you won’t be able to start something new. Even if what you’re doing is really bad, it’s still not as scary as the fear of the new and unknown future. So, we all stay when we know we should go. You might be in a bad friendship, bad relationship, bad job and work environment or living in the wrong place, but you feel like you just can’t leave-you’re wrong. You can and you should go…

  • If you’re unhappy and think about leaving often then it’s just not meant to be. Don’t stay waiting for things to change, especially if it has been awhile and nothing has changed. Most of the time things just don’t change that much.
  • Changing  takes a long time and a lot of effort. If everyone involved is not willing to spend both it won’t work.
  • Once you’ve decided it’s over don’t back slide, remind yourself why you made the decision to leave.
  • The possibility of changing your mind and going back to your bad situation should not be an option.
  • Be proactive in general and working on yourself is always a good thing. Change as many things as you can to feel like you’re really moving on.
  • Recruit a friend who knows how bad your relationship, job or situation was and who will help you keep going in the right direction.
  • If you don’t care enough about yourself to move on and give yourself a chance to be happy, no one else will either.

 

looking good

Dressing appropriately for work really says a lot about you, but it has nothing to do with being trendy…even if it’s not the right thing to do people are going to judge you by how you look first.

Here are a few guidelines to help you make good choices when you don’t know what to wear:

Make your choices so that you are wearing clothes that look more like the big shot senior people where you work than the newcomer junior associates. Dress seriously- people will take you seriously…

What you wear for “business casual” should emphasize the business part, not the casual part.

If you have casual Friday where you work don’t dress so that it looks like you have already started the weekend. People will assume how you look is how you feel about your job.

Dos and don’ts: sleeveless may be ok, but strapless is not, no leggings, no shorts, no really short skirts, no holey denim, nothing that shows skin that should not be seen in an office, no flip-flops, no sneakers (even expensive ones) and keep the accessories and jewelry to a minimum.

Dos: hemlines around your knees, a little above or below is always appropriate, tailored ankle length or a bit longer slacks, button-down blouses, collar-less tops that are not t-shirts, tunics, cardigans, blazers, pullover and turtleneck sweaters are all fine as long as they are not too big and sloppy or too tight. Pumps, loafers, maybe boots, flats and wedges are all good choices as long as they are not stilettos or purple and pink striped.

It’s really mostly common sense, you represent the place you work while you’re there…so dress accordingly