Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Autistic Child

Momma salutes the parents of children with disabilities, whether emotional or cognitive, these disabilities are a challenge.

Momma Explains: The child with disabilities faces challenges on a daily basis and supportive parents face parallel challenges as well. As a parent, educator, and scientist, I have been involved with many children who qualified in varied degrees as LD or ED. In my experience, one of the most complex situations involves the autistic child. I use the term autistic in the broad sense. Under this umbrella there exists other categories but generally many of the symptoms are similar . The average parent of an autistic child has had little background in autism and struggles understanding both their child and his/her needs. Frustration, confusion and exhaustion are responses that I have encountered in the autistic child as well as their parents. Luckily, there has been a raising of the collective consciousness in regards to autism. There are resources available online, in schools, and libraries. There are blog sites, forums, and pamphlets accessible to most. This allows more opportunities for a sharing of information as well as support. Two sites that I have found which have large coverage are : www. and www. From an empirical view, the children that have had behavioral therapy, both at home and outside the home, have shown very positive response and social improvement. A family member, who has a child with autism, often helps improve her child's emotional understanding by using the question, " How would you feel if...happened to you?" In this way the autistic child is better able to understand the emotional point of view. Autistic children have trouble "reading" the body language of those around them. Our autistic family member never allowed a normal distance between themselves and the person with whom they would communicate. The more the other person pulled back, the closer the autistic child pressed. At times it resulted in the neuro-normal child merely running away. This action, of course, did not teach the autistic child not to get too close to someones space. Instead, the autistic child gave chase. How difficult for both children, neither understood the intent of the other. In a situation such as this, it is crucial that a parent or behaviorist explains to both children the appropriate response or behavior. As much as there have been improvements in the understanding of autism, I have yet to see a system that teaches the neuro-normal child or adult the best way to respond to an inappropriate behavior exhibited by an autistic child or even adult. It is a shame there is not a system in place to do that. Even in the immersion classroom, the autistic child is isolated by his peers. Children need to be given the tools to communicate with each other, they need to be able to express emotions and understand the actions of their classmates. Children need to understand differences and disabilities, we all have them, some are just more challenging.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using Wine Resources

Momma is still learning about wine but I do have some favorite sources of information.

Momma Explains: There truly are very few wine experts who know everything about wines. Simply because there are too many wines from too many countries and too many offerings of varieties. Each year, each season is different and the grapes must be harvested, pressed, fermented, blended and wine produced. Some wines are aged and some sit for a time in barrels and/or are bottled. An example of a quick release wine is Beaujolais Nouveau or "new wine". This wine is released the third Thursday in November and was still clinging to the vine about a month before the release. The wine experts cannot possible race to every vineyard to try every wine in such a short amount of time. They do try many but not all. So what is a consumer to do, especially as the average consumer is not erudite when it comes to wines.
First, if you have the time, read a magazine such as Wine Spectator or Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. These magazines are quick reads and have great recommendations on wines for everyone from the collector to the average guy who needs a bottle, tonight. They often have a best buy type section that lists wines which are readily available. You can find something decent to drink this way. Also, get to know your wine merchant. Depending on your location and local regulations, you may have a greater product mix or a limited product mix. A good store manager knows his products and will be happy to help you find the wine bargains and deals. It is a wonderful feeling to spend less than $10.00 on a wine that is rated 90 points. Wow, you feel very proud of your little steal and it makes the drinking so enjoyable that you did not over pay. Don't forget your best resource which is your own taste buds. Drink what you like and try new things, jot down the name of a bottle you like and bring it to your wine store.
There is help available to the average guy who just wants a bottle to have with his dinner, so ask the experts, check ratings online and tap into local merchants. You will be sipping a nice glass tonight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Over Scheduling

Momma knows we all try to do everything for everybody but that can actually have negative results

Momma Explains: Super Parenting, Super Jobs, Super Schedules, Super Busy and of course, Super Tired are not the things happy lives are made of ! Leave the impossible for Superman and you be the very best mom or dad that you can with out overextending and exhausting yourself. There is a limit to the hours in a day and the tasks that we can undertake in those hours. If you try to attend every sporting event, every meeting, every fundraiser etc. , eventually you will miss the ones that really matter. Just as we often need to tell our children to prioritize and balance their lives, we too, need to moderate our own schedules. I think many of us almost feel guilty if we do not push ourselves to be everywhere we can. Now why is that? When did we parents for get to take care of ourselves so we could continue being good parents. I try to attend events for my family, yet there are times when something demands my attention and though I might disappoint someone, I just can't attend. And you know what, everyone survives and often forgets that I was not there. It is a very fleeting dismay. However if I had attended and not accomplished the necessary task, I would have been miserable and there would have been negative repercussions. We need to allow ourselves the time to accomplish the demands of our lives with out guilt and without exhaustion. That way, when we can go to a basketball game or play, we are relaxed and enjoy the experience. You are not Superman but you are Super to that family who loves you. Take care of yourself and it is okay to say. " Sorry, I won't be able to make that but I love you ."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

German Style Ground Meat on a Budget

Momma knows what it is like to feed a family while on a budget, so she has a few recipes from her grandmother and mother that will help stretch those dollars while providing nutrition.

Momma Explains: Meals need to be nutritious but not necessarily expensive. My Grandmother was of German descent and boy did she know how to stretch a dollar and use every item from a meat purchase, even the fat. ( They kept melted fat to use for frying and hard fat was wrapped in bread and cooked) Okay maybe that was not heart healthy but you get the idea of true frugal means. My grandmom often would make a very simple but tasty dish that we call " German Style Chop Meat". Most people refer to this meat as ground meat and you can use whatever type of ground meat that you prefer. It is usually labelled by percent lean so 80% lean meat would be 20% fat. This is actually a good combination and very tasty. This dish really tastes best with a beer, sorry to my wine lovers but some things just call for a beer. Light or dark beer is fine, you choose. This meal is fast to make so it is great when time is short.

German Style Ground Meat : In a large skillet or stockpot pour a small amount of olive oil and add one chopped onion, minced or finely chopped is best. Soften the onion and add some salt to the onion. When the onion is thoroughly cooked add two cloves of chopped garlic and saute for about one minute then add your ground meat. Use about 2-3 pounds per onion and garlic. Salt and pepper the meat and stir in pot to get the onion mixed in then add some water to steam the meat and release the fat. I add at least a cup and more if the meat starts to dry out. Stir the eat often and keep an eye on it so it does not burn or stick to the pan. This only takes a short time to cook but make sure the meat is not running red, and that all the juices are clear. Drain the water if it is excessive or if you prefer to remove the fat but it should be fine to have some as a juice base. Then taste your meat and add salt and pepper to your preference. I also like to add chopped basil or chives but it is up to you. This dish can be served with rice, pasta or bread. I always make string beans as the vegetable, it just matches up well. If you are making rice or pasta then cook it at the same time as the meat so that they are ready simultaneously. Now sit back and have a simple, old fashioned, budget wise , mouth happy meal.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Taking Time To Relax

Momma likes to be active but she also finds time each summer to chill out because we all need to recharge and refresh.

Momma Explains: Sometimes we get so caught up in everything we must do that we forget what we need to do. In order to accomplish our many tasks we need the energy, the spirit, and the determination to complete our responsibilities. Staying focused is not something we can do if we keep an incessant pace without relaxation. This is not just a simple respite such as an hour break to watch TV or to go for a short walk. Small breaks are necessary on a daily basis but more time is needed to truly recharge. In the current economy, it might not be possible for people to rent a house for a week at the shore or a lake, they may not be able to stay in a fancy hotel or at an all inclusive. It is possible, however, to take several days and just pamper yourself. Even if you don't leave home, you can pretend you are away and do things that bring you joy. Our human condition requires rest and relaxation. We are not wired to work relentlessly. We are wired for joy, rest, and work. But none of those things to the exclusion of the others. Before the summer ends, try to find a good rest. You need the nourishment of relaxation just as you need food, and Momma knows about food. Be your own advocate, take a break, go see the museum near your home, go hiking, go out to dinner, take a very long walk and bring a picnic. Reconnect with the part of yourself that likes leisure, you've earned it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Filet Mignon Roast

Momma: loves a good steak but making individual steaks can be time consuming and grill space is limited. So how to have a large number of guests and still serve succulent beef?

Momma Explains: A great cut of beef is filet mignon and you can purchase it as a loin or large roast. I usually go to our butcher or I have purchased them from the big club stores such as Costco. I pay about $7.99 a pound. Now, that is a lot, but do you realize that you pay about $3.99 per bag of chips? Think how ridiculous that is, $ 3.99 for junk food and we balk at a good piece of pure protein? Get the beef, baby! I cook my beef at 325F for about an hour, depending on the size of loin. I rub it with a simple spice rub and let it fly. Make sure that you check the beef temperature at 1/2 hour and then every 15 minutes after that. Take the meat out when it reaches the temperature and stage at which you like to enjoy it. I like mine rare so I remove the loin as soon as it hits 140 degrees. Then let the loin SIT for about 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to settle. If you slice it when you take it out of the oven it will lose the juices. Just slap anyone's hand who reaches for a knife early, Poppa knows better now. Try Razors Edge Shiraz or your favorite Cabernet to swirl over your palate as you savor the filet cooked in my spicey rub.

Spicey Rub for Filet Mignon. Mix Together equal parts sea salt or Kosher salt and ground garlic powder ( Do not use garlic salt) . You may use minced garlic but it is harder to mix with salt as it is wet. Then, add some ground pepper, depending on your love for pepper. After the ingredients are mixed, rub the loin completely with the rub and place fresh oregano leaves over the rub. Allow the loin to sit out for about 1/2 hour and place in a 350F oven, then turn the oven down to 325 and cook. The slow cooking allows even cooking and luscious juice distribution. Fix a big multi green salad and get that knife and fork ready.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I Didn't Need to See That !

was watching TV the other day and what she saw, well she did not want to see that.

Momma Explains: Now, Momma knows she is a bit old fashioned and that not everyone may agree with her but have you all watched TV lately? Profanity, semi nudity, violence, graphic horror, it all is on television and I am not talking about the premium channels. Heck, the commercials are sexual and barely contain clothes sometimes. You talk about a wardrobe malfunction, I think we've had a decency malfunction. What kind of example and values are being provided for our children if they intentionally or accidentally view some of these shows and commercials. There is such a lack of moral behavior, a lack of parental respect, a lack of spiritual affirmation that I wonder just what do we "get" out of most television programs. Plot lines follow the most bizarre scenarios. Since when do we need to take camera's into the MEN'S room to follow men as they converse. ( UGH ) The script could not have had all pertinent dialogue take place in more acceptable rooms? What is the need to portray an exchange over the urinal, what is wrong with the water cooler? I do not know about you other girls but there is a reason the MEN'S room door stays closed to public eyes and I am glad it is closed. Such scenes, though, are common on television as is promiscuity, abuse, and cheating. I hope we are not a reflection of what we watch because too many shows emphasize a serious lack of morals, ethics and respect. I think I know why so many people have chosen to watch sports, at least in sports, there are rules for the game and for conduct and thankfully, everyone has their clothes on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sausage, peppers and onions

loves to cook and have guests over to enjoy the meal. What do I make that seems to please everyone?

Momma Explains: One of my favorite standby meals is sausage with friend peppers and onions, served on crusty Italian bread and dripping in juices and goodness. You can use sweet or hot sausage or a combination. If you use a combination of sweet and hot, cook the sausage separately as the spices from the hot links will overflow into the sweet. I normally make extra sausage as my family tends to wander back into the kitchen long after dinner is over just looking for a snack, and what a glorious snack. The sweetness from the onions and peppers, sauteed in olive oil just coats the sausage. A medium bodied Chianti Classico goes well, stay away from heavily oaked or woodsy wines. Ruffino makes awesome chianti and I have always liked Antinori as a solid chianti producer. Price ranges vary but both these producers are trustworthy.

Fried peppers and Onions with Sausage : This is a popular dish so I count on 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person, so what if you have leftovers!! You can either fry your sausage in a pan with some olive oil, do this on medium heat and cook according to package directions. If you are having a large crowd, I take my giant roasting pan, fill it with sausage and cover the sausage 3/4 of the way with water. Pierce the sausage a few times to allow some of the fat to escape. The water keeps most of the sausage moist and the tops brown where exposed. Try cooking it on 350 F for about 50 minutes. Oven temperature and cooking times vary so use your knowledge of your own kitchen. While the sausage is cooking, take out your BIGGEST frying pan and thoroughly coat the bottom with a good amount of olive oil. I always use extra virgin olive oil in a ll my dishes. There should be about 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom of the pan, better too much than too little. Next, slice sweet onions and place in pan after oil has been heated, sprinkle onions with some salt as it helps the caramelizing. When onions are opaque in color add your green and red pepper slices and fry on medium heat until they are softened and the whole house smells so awesome that when people walk in the front door, they drool. Set the cooked peppers and onions to the side and add your sausage when cooked. Simmer on low heat together for about 20 minutes so the juices can blend and the flavors dance together. Slice the nice crusty rolls, and let guests help themselves to a truly big bite of comfort food.