My Easter Egg Fiasco

 

eastereggs6aI love ideas. I love cookbooks – because they are full of ideas. I love magazines- because they are full of ideas. I love hobby stores. Why, you ask? (I know you didn’t really ask, but work with me for a minute…) Because they are full of ideas. And now, for idea junkies like me, there is Pinterest – my own personal scrapbook in the ethereal cloud of the internet that can hold an endless amount of ideas and can be accessed in seconds. Wow!

Collecting ideas is great, no doubt. But putting them to good use can be another matter. Take Easter egg decorating, for example. Some years ago, when my children were younger, I read a magazine article about natural dyes you can make for Easter eggs with resulting soft pastels and gentle spring hues that looked absolutely stunning on eggs resting in an all-natural woven Easter basket. At least that’s what the picture looked like…

Determined to make that Easter particularly memorable for my children, I headed off to the grocery store, magazine article in hand. I returned with $16 worth of fresh cabbage, turnips, turmeric spice, beets and onion, all the recommended sources for natural dyes.  I chopped, pureed, boiled, smashed, and stirred my way into the stinkiest, smelliest kitchen mess I have ever created. The whole house reeked of cooked cabbage (soft green), boiled turnips (purple), blended cooked onion and turmeric (yellow), and pureed boiled beets (red). We had the windows open for fresh air and no one, especially my children, wanted to be anywhere near the kitchen. I insisted they join me for the actual Easter egg dyeing process (which, by the way, took 10 times longer than those nifty fizzy tablets in vinegar take.) The kids participated, with noses plugged, by dropping the eggs into the bowls of natural dye and then fleeing the kitchen as fast as they could. I remained there, cleaning up my mess and stirring the eggs for the next several hours as they ever so slowly took on the pretty pastel colors I had so eagerly anticipated. The next morning, Easter Sunday, I placed the dyed eggs in their plastic Easter baskets and then later we turned them into egg salad. Wow.

For some reason, holidays seem like the perfect time to incorporate all those great new ideas, whether it is a recipe, a craft, or a hundred new ideas on my Pinterest boards. However, I have an “S.O.S” signal sounding off in my inner person. A voice in my head speaking the words, “Choose a Season Of Simplicity, not a Season Of Stress.”  And I am beginning to listen.

As time passes and my life changes, I am learning that simplicity should be sought after as eagerly as productivity. Women are often presented with the perspective that “smart women have it all”, or “productive women spin many plates successfully”.  But there is another image that we as women have to look harder to find. The image of wise women who keep it simple. Women who know that life can sometimes be richer when we have less. Life can sometimes be more enjoyable when we do less. Life can sometimes be more memorable when we achieve less.

So, in the spirit of simplicity, I am attempting to choose more stress-free activities this year. Yes, we will maintain those special traditions we have loved for so long.  We will still enjoy our favorite recipes and activities together. But this year my S.O.S. call will not be a call to stress.  It will be a call to simplicity. I hope you will join me in choosing a Season Of Simplicity.  Happy Easter!

 

The Episode of the Exploding Egg

My 13-year old daughter began 8th grade at our local Middle School this morning.  As a stay-at-home mom, the first day of school each year brings a set of contrasting emotions. I love summer and the freedom from a rigid schedule.  On the other hand,  I am always ready for the comfort of routine that returns each fall with the start of school.  I also find contentment each morning, helping my family prepare for their day.  As the car pulled out of the driveway at 7:35 a.m., I headed into the kitchen for a bite of breakfast to eat while watching the 7-minute local news update that comes on a little before 8 a.m., the extent of my TV watching for the morning.

I am not a morning person, so the idea of actually cooking anything before 9 a.m. is too much for my mind to handle.  However, I recalled seeing an “egg in a mug” recipe on Pinterest, the motherboard of  ideas. A quick Pinterest search revealed several microwave-your-egg-in-a-mug recipes. I decided to try a poached egg recipe which the pinner described as “works like a charm”.   Hey, no oil and no frying pan sounds good to me!  One minute later I had that egg in a water-filled mug in the microwave, cooking for 75 seconds, exactly as described on Pinterest. I even had time to make a piece of toast while the egg was poaching.

???????????????????????????????As I headed to the fridge for some grapes to top off this impressively fast and healthy breakfast, I heard a loud and disconcerting explosion sound come from the microwave.  My first glance revealed water running out the microwave door unto the counter below.  That couldn’t be good. Grabbing a paper towel to stop the flow of the water, I opened the microwave with my other hand.  My egg was still there – everywhere.  Half-cooked egg  was dripping down every wall of the microwave.  The yolk sat in a puddle of milky water on my microwave tray.  And the mug?  It was nearly empty, save for a meager dripping of water left on the bottom.

As I proceeded to clean up the mess, my toast grew cold and I missed my 7 minutes of morning news.  I considered giving up and having a bowl of cereal and milk, my least favorite morning meal. What ever happened to the “works like a charm” or “doesn’t get easier than this” phrases that had described this recipe?  What about that perfect Pinterest picture of what it was supposed to look like?

Not to be deterred by the pile of soppy egg-yolk-covered paper towels on my counter, I decided to try again. I grabbed Egg #2, put a little less water in the mug, covered it with plastic wrap for protection against another disaster, and microwaved the mug in smaller time increments. Guess what – it worked!  Adding a touch of ground pepper, a slice of buttered toast and a few grapes gave me the perfect breakfast for the start of this new day and new year.

???????????????????????????????My exploding egg episode reminds me of another lesson I need to continually remember. Life does not often look like the picture we have in our minds.  The day-to-day unfolding of  our lives does not usually fit the description of “perfect” or “charming” we had imagined. And sometimes, life is just a mess.  So what do we do?  We pull ourselves together, we clean up what we can, we ask God for help, and we try again.  And again. We learn from our mistakes and we start each new day with hope.  So if today you find yourself with an unplanned problem on your hands, don’t give up.  Try again. And again.  You will be glad you did.

 

 

Chorizo, Bok Choy and Scapes – Oh my!

chinese-bok-choy_19-107384  It is Tuesday afternoon and Week 2 of my Fresh Fork Market food  adventure is winding down as I anticipate picking up a new bag tomorrow.  A week ago I had never tasted chorizo – in fact, I had never heard of it before.   And bok choy? Well, several times I have glanced with fear and trembling at its lovely green leaves glazed with glistening dew in the produce section of the store , but intimidation always drove me and my shopping cart back to the safety of carrots and celery. But not this week! The Fresh Fork Market blog provides excellent ideas and recipes for using each week’s fresh ingredients – and they got me started on some creative thinking.  However, knowing the taste preferences of my family, I opted for a Sweet and Spicy Orange Chicken recipe I found at Baker Bettie’s website – you can check out her recipe at BakerBettie.com.   The only change I made was using hoisin sauce instead of the chili garlic sauce, since I was confident my family enjoyed this flavor. And I used finely chopped garlic scapes (from my FFM bag) instead of  minced garlic. Served over basmati rice, this made a delicious and healthy meal for us with a few leftovers as well.

And that chorizo?  My California sister-in-law told me she loves serving chorizo with some grilled veggies,potatoes and scrambled eggs.   Sounded like something I could handle!   I modified her idea just a bit, making Mexican Omelets for dinner instead. I fried the chorizo until crumbly, then stir-fried some sliced sweet peppers, a bit of onion and 2 garlic scapes.  Then I made a 3-egg omelet using the FFM eggs I had added to my bag last week.  Once the eggs were set, I layered small amounts of chorizo, veggies, a little shredded cheese, a dollop or two of sour cream, a drizzle of taco sauce and a pinch of fresh cilantro (also from my FFM bag) in the omelet. I folded over the top, let it heat through for a minute, then served it up with some of the organic corn chips and homemade quacamole I made, using the cilantro and salsa (also from my FFM bag) for flavoring.  The whole family loved this meal!

I don’t have pictures of these meals this week – our camera is on vacation with my husband who is speaking at a camp.  So you will have to use your imagination for now.  Also,  I am not planning to put every recipe in detail or printable form on my blog.  I prefer to create an “Idea Blog”, not a recipe blog.  So many fantastic recipe blogs already exist, so I am content to direct you to them.   Sometimes I just need an idea when trying something new–and I am thinking some of you might feel the same way.

Looks like this week’s bag involves more new challenges for me – Swiss chard, kohlrabi, and collard greens.  But not to fear – Fresh Fork Market already has me headed in the direction of a Kohlrabi, Radish and Green Onion Salad with a homemade dressing – yum!