Making a Mess in the Kitchen

The mess in the kitchen can wait a few minutes while I spend some time writing about it. It’s bonus for my morning when two of my favorite activities get together and boost the mood of my day.

My first inkling of the “joy of cooking” was a Christmas present I received in the mail from a family friend. I was eight years old, and the gift was Mary Alden’s Cookbook for Children.

Yes, I still remember the name of the book. It remained in my possession for many years, probably until the thin paper-bound cookbook fell apart with age if not from embedded grease and flour.

When I first got the book, it was mostly the source of unfulfilled fantasy. I spent hours poring over such recipes as “Eskimo cookies,” “Bearded Baked Potatoes,” and a cake from scratch with pink strawberry icing.

That was a busy time for my mom, as she was preparing for a big cross-country move and had four-year-old and two-year-old besides me and my older brother. So there wasn’t much chance to try out the inviting adventure of measuring and mixing and coming up with the promised products.

But I kept reading my cookbook with hope and imagination, including the thought of being able to cut out the certificate in the back proclaiming me “Clean Kitchen Cook” after I did all the required washing up and sweeping and putting away ingredients.

Uh-oh. Maybe I better stop and clean my kitchen before I continue writing. Right. Who am I kidding?

I did finally get to try out some of the recipes in the children’s cookbook, though it was at least two years later and in my friends’ kitchens where apparently no one cared if we made a mess. I especially remember the cake with its purple icing because we had substitute grape jelly for the strawberry.

I have never tired of reading cookbooks, and when I get going on a project, a mess is bound to ensue.

This morning’s project started with cookbook browsing last night. The browsing was prompted by a need to adjust my breakfast-eating habits to accommodate my new working schedule. I’m not working today, but on days when I do, I need to leave at ten o’clock and get home three-thirty or four, with no lunch period in an adjustable shift amounting to about four hours.

My first week, I tried waiting until about eight thirty before eating anything, then making something more akin to dinner than breakfast. This provided me with the fuel I needed, but did not sit well with my digestive system or my biological clock.

For this week, I am trying for more more traditional breakfast fare closer to my rising time, and then drinking a nutrition shake right before leaving for work. When I get home, I will have an early dinner.

Back in the kitchen this morning, I made corn cakes with raspberry compote with two strips of microwaveable bacon on the side. I made enough corn cakes for two days, so I will be able to warm up the leftovers tomorrow morning.

As usually happens, I learned a couple things while experimenting with a recipe.

The first was a moment of “Why have I never thought of this before?” The compote called for lemon zest, just a small amount. I grabbed the grater and the lemon I luckily found in the back of the fridge and started scraping. When I had enough zest, my yellow lemon had only a small white scar on its skin. I was about to slice into it to get the tablespoon of juice I also needed when it occurred to me to scrape off the rest of the zest and save it in the freezer.

Okay, so I am easily excited over odd little personal breakthroughs. This bit with saving the rest of the lemon zest was such an “aha moment” for me that I wanted to jump onto Facebook and share this amazing bit of news. Everything else I have had to say here sprang from that original impulse to share my joy.

Anyway, the other thing I learned was that I need to use gluten-free pancake mix instead of just GF flour the next time I make corn cakes. They didn’t much look like the fluffy cookbook picture. Instead, they gave new meaning to the phrase “flat as a pancake.” This is a hazard in converting regular recipes to my celiac needs.

I’ll do better next time. Now I’ll go clean the kitchen and see if I can earn the “Clean Kitchen Cook” award.

I just ran a marathon through an obstacle course, and I’m still in my pajamas.

Noon will arrive in five minutes, and as I have mentioned in the title, I am still in my pajamas.

I did not plan it this way.

In the first place, I didn’t wake up until eight thirty, which is late for me. I have a list of things I wanted to accomplish today. Still want to. But I was trying to find my way to my blog page to accomplish my first desired task of the day

Instead, I got caught up in a crazed mob of news items, emails, emails about Facebook postings, videos that I tried to pass by but actually caught my interest, Instagrams I actually wanted to see from my out-of-state daughter. I had an email with a grammar test I had to stop and take and then had to get involved with commenting in the ensuing virtual conversation.

In short, I am exhausted before even getting started.

It didn’t help that a thunderstorm was in progress when I awoke, making it difficult for me to extract myself from my pillows and blankets. It has tapered off now, and I have opened the back door to allow some of the fresh air in. Hopefully, this will help me relax and focus.

So now I had to stop in order to take a picture through my back door. I want to share my view of the beckoning day. The stained glass monk hanging on the glass portion of my door is an unplanned but serendipitous expression of the peace I would like to experience at this moment in place of the frustration and exhaustion.

Just taking the photo and getting it where I wanted it was a time-consuming challenge for me. I have to face the fact that some of this is not the fault of the technology I try to manage in my life. There is also the aging factor as well as a lifelong battle with procrastination.

Be that as it may, it is now past one o’clock. Whatever it was that I originally planned to write about has flown from my thoughts. I am going to get dressed now. And take a few deep breaths. And re-start my day.

Let the Retirement Project Begin (albeit seven years late)

It does seem auspicious that today turns out to be the exact anniversary of my first attempt at starting this blog. Originally, I needed to blow off steam after a series of life changes. I have returned to this medium to give myself a palpable touchstone. I am no longer blowing off steam, but since I quit my so-called retirement job at Goodwill about a month ago, I have been challenged to get myself on the track with my real goals.


That was this morning, and now it is coming up to eight in the evening, so now it is time for me to reckon with what I have actually accomplished today.

In keeping with my need to stay on track, I spent some of my morning playing Lumosity brain games. One I am particularly obsessed with is called Train of Thought. Engines chug down a maze of tracks, and the object is to get  each colored engine into its matching station. It is necessary to switch the direction of the tracks to direct the engines as they keep coming. Not a lot different from Lucy and Ethel running the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory.

As long as I stopped after one set of games and only a few re-plays of the train game, I get to count this as doing something constructive as opposed to wasting my precious time.

I spent most of the day reading and finished the book I am to review. I can’t share anything about the book here. I intend to submit the review tomorrow. The object is to get established enough to get paid for my efforts. I already submitted one review. They said they liked it, but I didn’t have enough posts on their site to qualify to get paid yet. So I accepted one more non-paying review. I believe I have enough points now.

I just thought I would try out the on-line book review gig to see if a person can actually get paid as they claim. An experiment. I also need some computer time just to get better at navigating the technology.

The world of blogs, Submittable, on-line journals and mags, etc., is staggering to my less-than-supple mind. I need to at least make an effort with the technology.

My other efforts at functioning today included baking some chêbê (a gluten-free Brazilian bread made with tapioca flour and cheese). That was such a treat, I had to stop my typing and warm a slice and eat it right now.

Also did a little housework and attended to some random paperwork in my “Attention” folder.

I didn’t actually get to working on the short story my group critiqued last Saturday. I am fortunately not lined up to submit this week. This particular piece was really more of an idea that I had not fully formed yet. If I didn’t realize that, my truly honest and exacting writer friends certainly did.

I did give some thought to that would-be story today. I think I want to try creating it as a flash fiction piece. I put in some time researching the craft of flash fiction today. I want to see if I am up to the challenge.

So, let’s see where this goes this time.

Trust in the Lord!