Thursday, October 29, 2009

Aging Parents

Momma knows how difficult it is to be caught in the sandwich generation, the one that cares for both parents and children.

Momma Explains: Over the last few years, it has been more prevalent to see friends and family adjust their lives to care for an aging relative. It may not be the easiest situation but it is the right choice.
Elderly relatives often degenerate slowly so we are not aware of their limitations, needs or frailty until a situation occurs which raises concern. If we are not prepared to handle the situation, then often we are left with little choice for the care of our loved ones. It is imperative that the family discusses options and preferences in care prior to an emergency. This discussion is proactive to avoid the often upsetting consequences to a reactive response. Not only physical care and medical care but financial care and directives need to be brought to the table.
Family discussions should, when possible, include the elderly and all responsible family members. One family member is not to be the sole care giver. Everyone needs to play a part in taking care of our aging family members. They still have great worth to God and it is our gift to offer ourselves to them. This may require sacrifice and labor but it is a labor of love, one that will not have cause for future regrets. I am not saying it is easy, but love often is a challenge.
If it is decided that you will take in a family member to join your household, please look into the many available community services. Some are dependent on need but others are free for the asking. Planing for the future is essential as is open family discussion. We are all called to "Honor your father and mother" and we can do so more effectively if we are ready.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pasta and Stir Fry

Momma knows the winter months do not offer the better prices on most vegetables, so how to add nutrition to a dinner but still have it affordable?

Momma Explains: Frozen vegetables have come a long way and the new options of organic frozen veggies are awesome. My children did not like vegetables so I had to find creative ways to incorporate them in a meal. This is still a family favorite, only now we can all have wine with it. I like a Marquis Phillips white such as Holly's Blend.

Momma's Pasta and Stir Fry: Start by heating up your pasta water and adding a good toss of salt. While the pasta water is heating, take a one pound bag of stir fry or Normandy blend vegetables. In a very large skillet , coat the bottom with olive oil so the oil is about 1/4 inch deep in the pan. Chop a small onion and saute in the oil, when the onion is opaque, add three minced garlic cloves and 4 tablespoons of butter, heat for a few minutes. Then add one can of chicken broth( about 14.5 ounces), and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the sea salt and stir, then taste-without burning yourself-and add more salt as needed. I also put out a bowl of grated Romano cheese for people to bulk up the flavor. After you have cooked the vegetables in the broth and oil mix, making sure they still have some firmness, shut off the stove and cook your pound of pasta. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss into the skillet, if large enough, otherwise use a large bowl. Mix all your ingredients and serve. Don't forget the Romano cheese.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Standing up for the little guy

Momma has had her share of challenges but she always tries to remember to treat others the way you wish to be treated. This is especially true when dealing with the little guy. Who is the little guy?

Momma Explains: The little guy is the one who struggles, the one who in an equal match will lose, the one with less money, or looks or talent. He is the one who lacks self confidence. Simply, the little guy is the one who needs your help. In this world the louder you are the more you are heard, the tougher you are, the more some people respect you, the more money or skill you have, the more people applaud you. Yet, is that the way God measures our worth? Are only the successful worthy, or are we all responsible for each others care, needs and self worth? When you take care of the little guy, you even the playing field, you establish their self worth as a child of God and your brother. You say to everyone, "we are all created equal in God's eyes, it is man who differentiates. " So as you go about your day, help that person in the grocery store, wait patiently while a coworkers sifts slowly through some information, offer to explain a concept to someone who learns more slowly. Stop gossip, avoid mocking others, offer help rather than criticism. Do all these things with a smile and the knowledge that compared to God, we are all the little guys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chicken and Pasta Alfredo

Momma likes to have some meals that are quick but satisfying. You can start from scratch or use some prepared items such as a rotisserie chicken.
Momma Explains: Store prepared rotisserie chickens are packed with tender juices and flavors. They are the real thing, not processed, only you get the advantage of no prep time. So, Momma will often pick up a chicken and make some quick meals. If you do not want to buy a precooked chicken, then by all means, just cook the chicken breasts in advance. Pull the meat from the frame and use the recipe. This Alfredo sauce cooks up quickly so put your pasta water on first. Make sure that you have removed the chicken from the frame and cut or broken into chunks. Then start your pasta water, lots of salt remember. While your pasta water heats up, you may put together the Alfredo sauce.

Momma's Chicken and Pasta Alfredo: While your pasta water is heating, take a large pot and add 1/2 stick of butter, melt the butter and add one quart of heavy whipping cream. Stir together the butter and cream, cooking on low heat. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Go light on the salt until you add the Romano. Romano is salty and you do not want to over salt the dish. You can add more salt after you add the Romano, if it needs more. Let the sauce heat up and add one small bag of frozen peas. This will drop your temp so get it back up to a simmer by slowly increasing the heat. This happens quickly so stay by the stove and stir occasionally. As soon a s the mixture begins to boil or pop, add a cup of Romano grated cheese. Stir often and lower heat. The cheese will stick to the pan if you do not keep the sauce moving, add your chicken chunks and simmer on low just to allow the sauce to meld with the chicken. This whole process actually takes less than 30 minutes. When you have cooked your( one pound ) pasta al dente, dump the drained pasta into the pot and stir for a minute. Let it rest while you set the table and make a sald from iceberg lettuce. Just wash and quarter the lettuce. Leave in a big wedge and put your favorite dressing on top. Serve this with Simi Chardonnay.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gaining info when away from home

Momma knows that we all take trips away from our home and or area. When we are away, it can be frustrating finding a restaurant, shopping mall, service or hospital. So what is the best way to get information when you are the stranger?

Momma Explains: In my many years of traveling, some planned and some unplanned I have found one reliable source of information. That source has always been an individual or individuals that seem to be on your wavelength and are familiar with the locale or would have a need to know the same information. That may seem daunting but it is not as difficult as it sounds. I often strike up a conversation on a plane and inquire if the other person is familiar with the destination. With a short conversation, you can determine whether this individual has similar taste as yourself and in turn decide whether you will glean information about restaurants etc. from them.
One time, I went to a wedding in an unfamiliar city and needed to have my hair done. Since I am not always sure if the desk personnel at the hotel will be informed, I find the nearest Talbots or other higher end women's store, I then ask the clerk at the store where their clients get their hair done. Once you find a nice salon, you can find a nail salon, a mall and more. If you find a good restaurant, ask the hostess or chef where the best wine store is located, ask at the wine store, where the best restaurant is located. If you need to find a gift for someone or a park or nice theater find people who would probably be familiar with those settings. So if you want to find a nice park for the children, stroll up to the mom with the double stroller and the 4 year old tagging along. I guarantee she will know of a good park or at least a McDonald's play land. Hey, when all else fails, just single out someone with a Gucci purse and ask for advice, I am sure they will know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ginger Sauce

Momma makes different meats as her main dish and a variety of vegetables but there are a few sauces that I employ for either meats or vegetables.

Momma Explains: Sauces are a great way to spice up a familiar dish or enhance some leftovers. I have a few that seem to be versatile so that I can use them with beef, pork or chicken and even vegetables. These sauces have an Asian edge so choose your wine accordingly. I find a Riesling goes well with these, especially if it presents some fruit upfront.

Momma's Ginger Sauce: Add ingredients to a pan and gently whisk until mixed, bring to a soft boil. You may use immediately or save for later.
Ingredients for Ginger Sauce
1 cup beef or chicken stock ( depending on your meat)
1 cup orange juice( no pulp)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall, A time to Enjoy

Momma loves the fall, but it is not so much as one particular thing but a feeling that arrives with the season.

Momma Explains: Fall is a season marked in the East, with crisp air, apples, pumpkins, and a gorgeous myriad of color. There is something special about Fall and I think it is an attitude adjustment that occurs. First, the beauty of nature is so visually resplendent, and secondly, we are anticipating the upcoming holidays. Autumn signals the beginning of family oriented holidays and many of us look forward to the sights, smells, conversation, and gatherings that will occur. Fall reminds us of the harvest, the results of our hard work and God's gifts. Fall is a time for apple picking and pumpkin decorating, a time to walk outdoors in clean, fresh air and just gaze at nature's paintings. Maybe, the most important thing about fall is that it takes our focus off ourselves and on to the gifts around us, whether they be family, friends or the earth's bounty. Enjoy this time, and thank the Lord for these blessings around us.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Momma's Pasta Fagioli ( Pasta and Beans)

Momma remembers some recipes that were a combination of two regions of Italy and they are truly tummy warmers.

Momma Explains: As my relatives settled in America, they adapted many recipes to the ingredients available here rather than in their country of origin. Also, people who had originally emigrated from different regions of Italy found themselves sharing and exchanging traditional recipes. As a result there are several versions to the same recipe. Here is the pasta fagioli recipe that I remember my grandmother making. It is inexpensive but just so hearty and a real tummy warmer. This is meatless and I prefer it that way.

Momma's Pasta Fagioli: Take your favorite large sauce pan, add some olive oil - enough to thoroughly cover the bottom of the pan and saute a medium, finely chopped onion, when opaque add three cloves minced garlic, and 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley. If I have fresh thyme, I add some for more herbal flavor. Let cook a few minutes and add two cups chopped escarole, or spinach. Cook until soft, it should only be tender not mush. Then dump in two cans of cannellini beans( water and all) . Stir and add three cans of College Inn chicken broth. Then salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer while you cook the pasta. In a large pot, boil your water for one pound of ditalini. (It is a small macaroni and kids love it) Make sure you add a good toss of salt to the water when it boils and then cook your pasta till al dente, drain and add to the bean gravy. Simmer a few minutes and serve. I enjoy Bovo, Chardonnay Inzolia from Sicily with this hearty pasta dish.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reading a Book, the real comfort food

Momma has great appreciation for the internet and other media communication but there are some downsides.

Momma Explains: The mass availability of eternal and often, unregulated information is astronomical The speed at which we can access anything from airline tickets to pictures of a pyramid, not to mention those great blogs with food and family advice, is really amazing. It allows us the opportunity to gain knowledge on medical conditions that before the Internet, would have been information known only to those who studied medicine. This rapid communication device presents us with instant messaging, chat rooms and similar. Student's papers are quickly researched, and typed, and printed without leaving your home. That is very convenient but there are concerns. First, there is the unfortunate availability of predators, misinformation, viruses, inaccurate medical facts, cheat sheets, and so many bytes of damaging exposure. Careful parental regulation is important as well as recognition that many sites could easily be publishing inaccurate or false information. Secondly, we have all become far lazier when researching and rarely go to the original source of published information, a book, I mean the actual book with binding and pages, and print. There is something cathartic when we read a book and discern information with our own thought process, books are journeys and they are a longer, well organized, well edited cohesive compilation of research, insight and facts. Thirdly, I worry that we are limiting our knowledge and experience to the Internet only. The Internet only contains what someone has chosen to put there, maybe there is something in a library or book store that will serve your needs better. Keep a book in mind nest time you need to sail through Internet information,maybe you should try a luxury cruise instead, with a book.