All posts by sammee44

About sammee44

I am a West Coast Reader and Writer who enjoys all the big and little things Life has to offer. My philosophy in Life is---If you don't enjoy the small things, how can you truly enjoy those memorable huge things? And in the end, it's the little things that continuously brings a smile to your day.

HOOLA HOOPING

Does anyone remember hoola hooping in your younger days?

It was a big thing when I was in my early teens. And it recently came back on the local news because a Victoria teen-ager broke the World’s Guiness Book of Records for swivelling his hips gazillion hours while simultaneously solving the Rubik’s cube gazillion times.

I remember doing the hoop way back when. It didn’t take a lot of swivelling—just the momentum to get it going and gravity to keep it up.

My big brother and younger sister were quite good at it. I wasn’t too bad either.

So I got myself an adult hoola hoop. What exactly is that? To begin with it has a weight of 3 pounds. Theoretically, as you swirl it around your waist, it’s supposed to whittle away the inch or two or three of excess pounds that have made a home there.

Huh—it seemed like a fun sort of exercise and I liked fun stuff when it came to any form of exercise.

The hoop came in a long narrow box that contained 8 sections—each one a different colour. By the time the hoop was fully and firmly assembled, it was a rainbow of colours.

The instructions for hooping seemed simple: (1) Press Sports Hoop tightly against the back of your waist. (2) Keep the hoop in the horizontal position before swinging out. (3) Swing out the hoop forcefully and horizontally. (4) Move your body in any direction against the hoop. (5) Keep your motion fast enough to allow the hoop to stay up.

Easy-peasy, right? Not even close.

First of all, I got steps (1) and (2) without any problems. I even got step (3) moving for half a second. I know the concept of step (4), but even though my brain was yelling “opposite” direction, my body moved with the hoop’s.

I was told that once you learned how to hoop, it’s like riding a bicycle—you never forget.

How the heck did I do it when I was younger? Okay, okay—a whole lot younger.

I dredged up the memory of my Big Brother telling me, “Don’t think about it, just do it.” And, so I did.

This time I followed steps (1) to (3) and when it came to (4), I just reverted to instinct and did it. By golly, I did 4 revolutions before I realized I was really hooping. And, just that second of celebratory glee caused the hoop to falter and drop with a thud on the floor.

I’m told that perseverance and patience are senior traits learned from years of experience. I don’t know about that but stubbornness is definitely in my genes.

And I did do 4 revolutions. If I can do 4 revs, I can do more.

Yesterday, I did 8 revolutions.

There is a definite learning curve to hoola hooping. I’m talking adults‘ learning curves, not little kids or teenagers. Adults have to learn not to question the thermodynamics or science of hooping. As for the “instructions”—honestly, it’s like needing detailed instructions on how to open a door.

I would rewrite the instructions for hoola hooping. Simple is best, right?

My instructions would read: “Don’t think about it. Just swing the hoop to get it going and let your instincts do the rest. Keep it movin’ and groovin’. Gravity keeps it up.”

Don’t be distracted. I find my crime-writing thoughts are quite random and could involve a problem that needs to be solved. One such problem was how to murder someone with a hoola hoop. Don’t even think this as it will seriously cause the hoop to fall to the ground.

I just noticed that there are a series of Cautions and Warnings on the back of the Instruction sheet.

I am so glad I didn’t read these first. My hoop would still be in 8 sections and still packed in its box. Today I can do up to 8 revolutions. Tomorrow, I will do more. And somewhere along the way, I’ll know how to “murder” someone with a hoola hoop.

Happy Hooping, Everyone. . . .

A Bountiful Early Spring

Some things happen by accident like this awesome photo I took of the cover of my notebook and a piece of fancy ribbon with a sprig of flowers that had adorn my favourite soap. That’s what I call my eureka moment; others might call it a moment of inspiration.

Other things happen because of plain dumb luck—luck that can fall either way—50% good or 50% bad.

And once in a while, the Goddess of Fate smiles because she’s feeling especially great and an unexpected once-in-a-decade gift falls in your lap.

A something that is totally random, totally unplanned.

I swear on a stack of mystery thrillers that when I take my wandering walks, I have no destination in mind—just a vague sort of route that my mind is still deciding upon—but my feet are already taking on the challenge of hills, rocky steps and a chip trail.

Absolutely no thoughts of snacks or food at all.

I love this cool, crisp early Spring weather. Everyone and their dogs seem to be enjoying the fresh air, blue skies and steaming cups of coffee.

Whoa–did I just say steaming cups of coffee? Smiling faces pointed straight ahead and to the left—the walkers’ preferred destination for that area—“Casey’s,” a neighbourhood bakery for fresh-baked pastries, home-made chocolates and hot coffee.

My good fortune was the discovery of Dark Chocolate Kahlua Truffles and hot Mini-Doughnuts, all served up by the baker-man himself.

It was worth those steep hills, rocky steps and chip trail. Now it was time to be homeward bound to share my “bounty” with my Hubby. . .as well as another round on the elliptical

THOUGHTS

THOUGHTS are very important to jot down, to remember, even immortalize for posterity. . .if you’re a writer or a poet or merely someone who simply want to remember and record those perfectly crafted words.

It’s especially important to capture those elusive moments of inspiration when it happens. In my case, this often happens between midnight and dawn–if it happens at all.

I keep my pen and notebook by my bedside table, handy to scribble my ideas on paper—in the dark–as the simple act of turning on the bedside lamp, usually breaks that fragile ribbon of reflective thought.

When the scribbles are examined in the morning, most times, the scrawls are indecipherable.

I admire people who can say things that are often remembered in books, speeches or wherever.

Confucius said, “Words are the voice of the heart.” I can relate to that. Here are a few more wise words from some well-known people and philosophers..

Marilyn Monroe was definitely not a dumb blonde. She has been quoted saying, “The sky is not the limit–your mind is.”

There’s always a bit of truth in oft repeated quotes. Winston Churchill had it pegged right when he addressed the epidemic of rumours during WW2: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” I liked the imagery.

As for gossip, Confucius had this to say, “The tongue must be heavy indeed because so few people can hold it.”

Winston Churchill could have been talking about our current pandemic instead of WW2: “Keep calm and carry on.”

And Barack Obama’s positive words could also apply to these difficult times: “A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

I do enjoy quotes involving chocolates, coffee and doughnuts. I didn’t think of this one but I wish I knew who the “Unknown Author” was who must have loved doughnuts. “You need to understand the difference between want and need. Like I want abs, but I need doughnuts.”

Oscar Wilde must have been eating a doughnut to make this observation: “The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist sees the hole.”

Another quote I wish I had written but “Unknown Author” beat me to it: “Man doesn’t live by coffee alone–have a doughnut.”

Witty Fran Drescher spoke the truth when she commented: “Once you wake up and smell the coffee, it’s hard to go back to sleep.”

Amy Neftzger supports eating chocolates for she writes: “I’m pretty sure that eating chocolates keeps wrinkles away because I have ne ver seen a 10-year old with a Hershey bar and crow’s feet.”

Chocolate crosses all language barriers as Jann Bauer states: “When you don’t have the words, chocolate can speak volumes.”

Linda Grayson is best quoted for “There is nothing better than a friend unless it’s a friend with chocolates.”

Everyone has their own version of friendship and best friends. A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” explained it the only way he could: “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”

Heather Pryor wrote: “A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart.”

Walter Winchell was quoted as saying: “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

But Audrey Hepburn described it best: “True friends are families you can select”

Keep well and stay safe, my friends. Remember these words from Katherine Hepburn: “It’s not what you start in Life–it’s what you finish.” So keep jotting down your thoughts; maybe one day, I’ll be quoting you. . . .

HARD KNOCKS AND POSITIVE VIBES

Sometimes, Life suddenly hands you a few hard knocks landing you on your backside and wondering what just happened. I remembered my Grampa would shake his head, bend down to pick up his five-year old granddaughter, dust her off and say, “Remember to spit in Faith’s eye to make you stronger.”

I always wondered who the heck Faith was and how was she going to make me stronger. Years later, I found out Grampa said that to all his grandkids and he was referring to Fate, fickle Fate and not Faith.

After three days, the rain had finally stopped and there was actually a blue sky. And, if you stood on the right spot, the warmth of a February sun would hit your face. I wanted to push away for a short while thoughts of Covid-19; the plight of the homeless; the occasional confrontation of opinionated people who, under normal circumstances, would have better anger management control; local and world politics and the list goes on.

Armed with mask, hand-sanitizer and mindful of the 6 feet social distancing, I was on a mission to find positive things. Strolling down the street, the first thing I saw were the wonderful

painted rocks that still looked as freshly painted as they did last Summer.

A few houses down were the early signs of Spring—-clusters of Snowdrops nestled close to some Winter blooming Hellesbores.

I had passed a frisky Malti-poo and his owner, both cheerfully waving—the former with his tail and the latter with her gloved hand. I had also stepped aside for a ginormous Newfoundlander and his short owner.

But it was the sight of the colourful Rooster that made me laugh.

This was such an unexpected sight that you couldn’t help laughing—especially when it was masked and socially distanced with his skiis.

I was already feeling optimistic and positive when I spotted the Bride and Groom Frogs.

This was definitely a sign of New Beginnings and Spring.

I continued on my circuitous route that would take me past a few interesting store fronts. By chance I came across this eye-catching entry to a physiotherapist’s office.

I liked this—after all, purple is a terrific colour.

I had wanted to photograph the entry nook to a new perfumery that occupied an older house.

It was too easy to miss from a mere stroll along the sidewalk. One had to pause to enjoy the serene setting.
I love the unexpected and this was at the beginning of a long driveway that —in the Summer, I expect there would be more greenery but even in the Winter, this still held an appeal.

And tipping the winter woolie hat to the upcoming Chinese New Year, I have to cheat and include this Chinese gong, taken last Summer at the Nursery.

I felt much better and had a sense of accomplishment. I had found my positive vibes and chased away any negative thoughts–if only for a short time. With the pandemic still occupying our day-to-day lives, it’s really up to all of us to grab those moments of cheer whenever and wherever we can.

Keep well, my Friends–stay calm, be safe and always keep some sunny thoughts close by.

SINFULLY WINTER

Most places in my area—at least, the higher elevation places—get their fair share of snow in the winter. In my hometown of Victoria, winter usually means heavy rains, but once in a while, just to shake up the Locals’ smugness at driving with summer tires and preparing for the “Annual Spring Flower Count,” Mother Nature dumps a load of white stuff on the city.

Aside from visions of sleds, sleighs and snowballs, winter at my house means snuggling in with a pot of hot coffee, freshly baked cinnamon rolls or slices of lemon loaf. Delicious choices but after months of self-isolation and cookie tins emptied of festive Holiday cookies and mince tarts, I felt like rolling out the “big guns”—Dark Chocolate Fudgy Brownies–my weapon of mass cacao beans and calories. This is sinfully winter and massively destructive to New Year’s resolutions regarding diets, exercise and other good intentions.

I have a go-to recipe for my brownies, but in the excitement of actually making some, the recipe somehow got lost–buried in one of my many don’t-forget-where baking books. My other go-to source was a hunt on Google Search and what a treasure-trove that was!

Land O Lakes Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies

The first one I found was “Land O Lakes Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies,” a truly rich and fudgy dark chocolate morsel that had my mouth watering just reading the recipe. This recipe used dark chocolate chips, dark chocolate chunks and instant dark coffee or expresso. The link is: https://www.landolakes.com/recipe/18243/fudgy-dark-chocolate-brownies/ To make it even more sinful, I broke up pieces of Rogers 72% Dark Chocolate bar on top of the baked brownie as it was cooling on the rack. After the chocolate bar had melted, gently spread and swirl with a knife. Completely cool before cutting and sharing. Because I added a chocolate bar topping, I reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe.

The fun of researching dark chocolate fudgy brownies isn’t just to bake-and-snack, but also to discover other variations. Marissa Stevens (https://pinchandswirl.com/fudgy-dark-chocolate-beet-brownies/ ) caught my eyes because of the veggie, beets, added to her recipe, “Fudgy Dark Chocolate Beet Brownies.” I tried this recipe a month after the Land O Lakes one. I found Marissa’s version a moist brownie; no taste of any beets and quite chocolatey. Again, I reduced the sugar in the recipe allowing for the natural sugars in the beets and also for the melted 72% dark chocolate on top. Half my tasters commented they liked the moistness of this brownie while the other half preferred a slightly drier brownie. Everyone like the topping.

The Best Fudgy Homemade Brownies From Scratch made me pause. http://sweetannas.com/2013/10/the-best-fudgy-homemade-brownies-from-scratch.html Everyone claims a “Best” or “Greatest” to make their recipe stand out from the crowd. A few weeks after the beet brownies, I tried this one because the ingredients were all in my cupboard and fridge. And like the other recipes I reduced the sugar–in this case, from 2 cups to 1 cup. I substituted Fry’s unsweetened cocoa powder for the Dutch-processed cocoa powder in the recipe. I also melted a 72% Rogers dark chocolate bar on top when it was pulled from the oven. Cool completely before cutting. This dark chocolate brownie had a fudgy texture—not as moist as the beet ones but definitely a dark chocolate fudgy brownie that appealed to all my tasters.

If healthy can be attributed to dark chocolate brownies, I’ll toss in my neighbour, Anna-Marie’s version of her “Fudgy Dark Chocolate Strawberry Brownies made with nonfat Greek yogurt, maple syrup and whole wheat flour. Anna Marie’s recipe came from a blog called Amy’s Healthy Baking found at https://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2015/08/02/clean-fudgy-dark-chocolate-strawberry-brownies/ The recipe was meant to taste like 72% dark chocolate and be extra fudgy. The samples each taster enjoyed mainly agreed with that description–2 tasters wanted another sample to confirm but there was nothing left.

So now you have 4 delicious sources for Dark Chocolate Fudgy Brownies. I added my dark chocolate bar to melt on top of my baked brownies just to be extra decadent, but this is totally optional as each brownie does produce a nice top of its own.

Diving into the first day of February and almost midway through winter, here’s wishing all of you delicious brownies with your coffee. Stay well and Stay safe.

Unmasking a Friend

This pandemic has brought out a few anomalies, but the one I marvel at most is when I can walk freely into a bank wearing my dark mask, my woolie hat and my big dark glasses without being stopped or having any eyebrows lifted. I marvel at this because only a year ago—pre-pandemic—the bank had a large sign at the entrance proclaiming that anyone entering had to remove their hat, their dark glasses and anything obscuring his/her face. What a difference a year made.

During this pandemic era—the talent we all acquire—to varying degrees, is the ability to recognize friends who are wearing masks. Eyes are very personable and are usually—note, I said usually –an identifying feature of good friends.

Laughing blue eyes danced above a mask with tiny black cats cavorting against a cream coloured background.

“Hello, my Dear Friend,” was the joyful greeting. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen you!”

“It certainly has been much too long,” I replied, at the same time thinking those eyes are familiar. Is that Betsy from my sing-along group?”

“Oh my, it’s been so long since I’ve seen anyone from our group. I feel like I’ve been let out of jail and this is my first day of freedom.” The merry blue eyes twinkled above her face mask as she carefully looked me over. A slightly puzzled look appeared briefly in her eyes and swiftly passed.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen anyone from our group,” I replied, desperately searching my memory for the name belonging to merry blue eyes who likes cats.

“There’s quite a few of us living in this area and I’m always surprised we don’t meet more of our group.”

“I’m only sorry we can’t enjoy a cup of coffee somewhere,” I replied regretfully.

“Me too. You know, I always thought our bird-watching group was safe. After all, we’re socially distanced and it’s all outdoors, so I couldn’t understand why this was all cancelled until futher notice.”

“Bird-watching? I’m sorry I’m not in your bird-watching group. I thought you were in my sing-along group!”

“You know, I thought there was something different about you, but I didn’t think it would be mistaken identity!” Merry-Blue-Eyes laughed.

“These darn masks makes it hard to recognize anyone including family,” was my amused answer. “Yesterday, I met my cousin for lunch. She was wearing her mask plus a new short haircut that was hard for me to recognize her. I was commenting on her “Audrey Hepburn” hair-do when I felt this tap on my shoulder and a familiar voice said, “Sorry, I’m late but parking is terrible here. Who’s your friend?” It was then I realized I had been chatting to a total stranger.

The blue-eyes were laughing when I told my “cousin” story. “Oh my,” she chuckled, “that is so funny. Now we both have another pandemic story to tell our friends and families.”

We exchanged names so that next time we saw each other in the Village, we would truly recognize a friend and recall her name. Margaret and I parted with a wave and a smile.

How did I know she was smiling? I knew because it’s all in the eyes. . .

To Lie or Not to Lie

“Next time I agree to do something that I don’t want to do, jump in and rescue me,” I told Hubby.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“Tell them something, so I don’t have to do it.”

“I can’t lie,” Hubby said horrified.

“It’s not really lying—it’s a little white lie and they don’t count.”

“Lying is lying,” Hubby stubbornly insisted. “I can’t tell a lie.”

White lies are not lies,” I insisted. “They’re just a teensy untruth that doesn’t hurt anyone and. . and. . .,” I stumbled, quickly thinking, “not exactly lying because it saves face,” I finished triumphantly.

“Save face?” Hubby echoed. “Isn’t that what my Grandmother use to say when we were kids and did something not acceptable and. . .”

“Yep–my Grandma said the same thing. I think it had something to do with family honour and looking good.”

“If I remember correctly, Grandmother did tell some untruths which she reminded my brother and I that that wasn’t lying. I’m still not sure why when she does it, it’s a grownup thing and when we do it, it’s a lie.”

“That may be,” I argued, but we’re grown-ups now and we can do whatever.”

Hubby’s eyebrows rose to the ceiling and he sighed, “That is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. We maybe grown-ups, but a lie is a lie.”

“Okay, picture this scenario. You’re at work and your boss calls you into his office. He knows someone is pilfering the doughnut supply. He wants you to nail the culprit and post his picture on the Wall of Shame. You know who the culprit is and you don’t want to do this. You tell the boss you suspect there was a break-in and the thief was hungry. That’s why there were 1/2 dozen doughnuts missing.”

Hubby looked resigned because he knew where this was going.

“My question is—were you lying about the doughnut thief or would you classified this as a little white lie?” Pausing a bit, I pushed my point forward. “Little white lies are a necessity to keep a balance, a kind of peace, a bit of forgiveness to save face, producing a serene kharma, to. . .” I sputtered to a stop.

“I think this is more a matter of saving one’s dignity. Sometimes it’s a matter of diplomacy. If you asked me which dress looked better on you, I would be diplomatic with my answer. I wouldn’t resort to any little white lies.”

“If one dress made me look a sickly yellow and the other made me look like a ‘hooker’, you don’t feel you need to sugar-coat your answer?”

“No, because I know you would never contemplate a mustard yellow dress or pick an indecently trashy one.”

“If I wore a loose top that made me look 8 months pregnant, would you tell me?”

“Are you trying to tell me something?”

“Unless it’s an immaculate conception, a “mini-you’ is not happening. But you would tell me if I look okay before stepping out of the house?”

“Yes, I would. And because you’re my wife whom I love dearly, I won’t sugar-coat the fact that you look terrible. On the other hand, I would tell you if you look totally awesome.”

“Okay,” I said, adding softly, “I love you my Hubby. And, that isn’t a white lie but the absolute truth.”

“Okay then,” he replied, giving me his affectionate bear hug. In my heart of hearts, I knew that was the absolute truth, too.

A Wannabe Techie’s Daily War

I think I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my computer. As I learned the intricacies of navigating the daily tight-rope of techie-ville, the techie path changed again.

I don’t think it’s all Me because I swear my computer has a mind of its own whenever it decides to have its snitty-fit at the same time I need it to be working well.

I know it’s not Me but my computer, who detests changes of any kind. This is especially obvious whenever Microsoft does its regular routine updates.

I had a wonderful desktop page with the ever changing balloon theme. These were huge balloons that held passengers and each scene was over a different locale. I had all my “shortcut” programs on the page and it was great to just tap a shortcut and bing, you were in that program. Email? In it. Internet? In it. Word? Yep, in it.

Then one day, after a Microsoft update, my Balloon page disappeared and with it, all my shortcuts.

What did I do? I painstakingly put the programs I use the most–their handy-dandy shortcuts–on my taskbar. AND please don’t tell me that is not the thing to do. At the moment, it is working well for me.

I tried to tell Microsoft that I didn’t need all their updates because all I have is my desk-top—no laptops, no notebooks, no smartphones, no anything else that needs to have all my programs shared among them. Besides, I am one of the rare breed that doesn’t want or need to be kept on an electronic leash.

For now, I’m navigating a very convoluted route to access my Word program so I can access my various documents. Did I mention that there is now a newer Word and that the older version is no longer supported by Microsoft’s helpful elves?

And to make matters worse—for a non-techie, like me—my phone server that provides the email service, will be doing a “changeover” to Google because Google provides a smoother access for all the devices a person can own.

But that’s not me. I only have a desk-top.

Wait–I do have my very basic cell phone that the man at the phone store called a “senior phone..” It has a flip-top; only sends and receives phone calls; receives text messages but takes forever to type back a reply. It takes forever because my cell phone doesn’t have a proper keyboard to type out a reply—just the phone pad. But my senior phone does have a decent camera as that’s what I’ve been using to record what I see on my power-walks.

I was assured that the changeover will provide me with a gazillion gigabytes plus whatever goes beyond that. I won’t be using this mega jumbo-power.

I’m not a “gamer.” I watch my movies on my TV screen. I play my music on my stereo. However, I have used my computer to play my CDs when I finally found my music again after Microsoft did one of its updates. My basic cellphone serves its purpose of being a phone—not used for internet or games.

But I guess, like a number of us, slightly-out-of-step with the rest of the with-it generations, we will always be slightly-ot-of-step. I/m sure my grandkids view me the same way I use to look at my grandparents. My grandparents lived through a lot of changes: from the “party-lines” on a wall-phone that was “cranked-up” to get an outside line to a desk phone with a private line; automobiles that no longer needed to be cranked-up to be started; the arrival of television for home entertainment in addition to the familiar radio. In her lifetime, my Grandma did witness space travel to the moon.

I do have a toe dipped in the ever-changing techie world. Yes, I am a “dinosaur” when it comes to techie-power on my basic equipment. I would love to have the option of keeping to the basics and not being super-sized when I don’t need it or want it.

I do welcome changes but please, not now when I have a finicky computer who loves to throw tantrums.

The Good Points

The pandemic is both good and bad. The bad part–we are all aware of and know how to protect ourselves against the results. The good parts are where we find out what kind of person we are to cope. Does that make sense?

I find that under stress conditions, I bake. I can cook too but if I ever went into the profession, I’d be the one who produces the desserts and baked goods. My sister is the true cook. She can make anything— I mean anything taste great and that probably includes sprouts and old boots. But back to the good points of this pandemic.

Google search makes available a number of very interesting recipes with fascinating stories behind them. And reading mysteries, murder and mayhem, there are often baked goods I never heard of. One such pastry originates from Poitou-Clarentes, now a part of Novelle-Aquitaine. Broye du Poitou is a buttery shortbread-like ginormous cookie. The dough is rolled or pressed into a 1/2 inch thick circle, brushed with a beaten egg, sprinkled with sliced almonds and baked on a cookie sheet. When this pastry is ready to be served, the honoured guest is the one who thumps his fist into the centre so the Broye du Poitou is broken into different size pieces. Here is the website https://www.tarasmulticulturaltable.com/broye-du-poitou-poitiers There is another version that calls for Apricot Brandy https://fortheloveofbutter.blog/2020/08/30/broye-du-poitou

Because most of my doughnut sources had temporarily closed due to you-know-what, I felt I had conquered my doughnut addiction. Not true. One of the coffee bars down the street from me had continued with their window service of fresh roasted coffee and one day, provided the delectable Yonni’s doughnuts. There is nothing worse than flaunting Yonni’s in the showcase window. It is impossible for a doughnut addict to not kook in the window when passing by. It is even a worst fate to read in the mysteries, murder and mayhem books about “Castagnole.” What is that, you may ask. Castagnole is an Italian fritter made especially at Carnival time. By the time I had finished reading this book, Yonni’s was forgotten as my brain had fixated on Castagnoles. Here’s a recipe for the delectable little fried round balls that reminded me of upscale doughnut holes. https://www.recipesonthego.com/recipe/castagnole

One final delicious “treasure.” This one was mentioned briefly in a radio interview and prompted me to do a search. “King Arthur’s Almond Flour Brownies” is a delicious gluten-free recipe with the most chocolate-y flavour. To a full-fledged chocoholic, this recipe was one that will forever be part of my chocolate recipe collection. I wasn’t sure if almond flour was the same as ground almonds because this was what I used. The brownies turned out to be a dark chocolate, light as a feather, moist cake-like brownie. (https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/almond-flour-brownies-recipe) However, if you’re looking for a dark chocolate brownie that’s more dense, this recipe isn’t for you. For the final decadent touch, I scattered a few mini-Lindt dark chocolate pieces on top of the brownie as it cooled on the rack—spread when melted. Try not to devour the entire pan and remember to share with those in your safe bubble.

I grew up in a house that had a huge kitchen. Family, food and friends were always a huge part of it. As adults, it is no surprise that our family and friends still gather in the kitchen. During this time of pandemic, things change but we humans adapt. Eventually we will return to a life before Covid-19. For now, we’ll cocoon and stay safe in our small social bubble—a bubble that allows us to enjoy the Broye du Poitou, Castagnoles, King Arthur Almond Flour Brownies and whatever other tasty treats that pops up in books we read, things we hear or unfamiliar pastries we see on our screens.

THE SCALES

In these crazy and uncertain times of Covid, we all have special worries and thoughts that we try to stifle–mine is my scales.

I always had the thought that if anything drastic happened, my first instinct is to grab my Hubby and grab my scales. It would be a close race but both are easy to grasp quickly.

Hubby is special. But let’s talk about my scales, that have moved with me from place to place and suffered through my agonies from doughnuts, pizzas, chocolates, fresh baked breads, cookies stuffed with dried fruits and walnuts, cakes, pies, tarts—the list goes on.

It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve had my scales for decades—well, maybe not that many decades, but it served its purpose of displaying my sins in large numbers. The numbers goes up and eventually goes down. It all depends what was happening in my life at that particular time.

When I was working—that is, working initially as a blood bank technologist at a large and busy hospital–the sheer energy and medical emergencies were enough to curb anyone’s appetite. Lots of blood and messy accident scenes will do that. I was a feather-weight, but then, I was much younger then. I did my share of shifts and on-calls. At that time, Fate seemed to know I was new and nervous, so it seemed I worked 24/7 and had no time to eat.

I didn’t have the scales yet.

Fast forward through the quieter, calmer years–until we reach now. And my treasured scale.

It’s only a number I tell myself. After all, a power-walk, abstaining from the toasted fruit bread and eating lots of green salads usually worked in the past. However, the problem of getting older is that one tends to reason very logically the pro’s and con’s of doing all the above. I love my power-walks so that’s no problem. One has to sustain energy to do a power-walk so the toasted fruit bread is a perfect source to provide energy. As for salads, if humans were meant to eat greenery, then we all should have been rabbits.

For the past year—and I can track it to the beginnings of the pandemic—my trusty and accurate scales have only moved in one direction. Up. It could have been the grandkids who discovered it and did this jumping jack thing just to see the numbers leap, jiggle and skip. However, that was decades ago too. The scales no longer stayed at the number. It seemed to bound to the next line and then the nexst line until you looked to see if someone had added their foot on the scale too.

In my defence, I can only state that if we didn’t have to self-isolate and/or stay in our own small bubble, I wouldn’t have this scale problem at all. Google-search can burst forth with a ton of recipes if you’re idly searching for meal or dessert ideas. Pop in an idea and bingo, an avalanche of recipes appears on your screen. And in case the text recipes don’t make sense, the cook/chef thoughtfully provides you with the Youtube version so you can actually see the results. Unfortunately, being a dedicated foodies I have that talent of reading the recipe and knowing what it would taste like.

So my advice is this. Don’t step on any scales. In my case, it brings unwanted news. Find an exercise you enjoy–mine is power-walking or just a leisurely long walk. My brain tells me to avoid bakeries and coffee bars with their displays of goodies, but my feet haven’t caught on yet. All the walking routes go past delicious places.

Thinking positively, I’ve decided that as long as I’m feeling good, am staying healthy and keeping safe, the scales should be the least of the worries. Keeping to that positive note, perhaps by Spring, the numbers on the scale have dropped and moved in the other direction and that this pandemic has almost disappeared. Besides Winter is approaching and like the bears preparing for hibernation, humans need a source of extra fat to survive too.

As BC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry often says: Be Calm, Be Kind and Be Safe.

AND toss out that darn scale.