Friday, September 28, 2012

Growing Wiser

Sunday, September 30, I will turn 53.  There, I said it. Growing older and, I believe, wiser - not afraid of aging, just curious.  I hear there will be a full moon - I love full moons, stars, and the beauty of the night.  I do not enjoy the scary stuff...

Last Saturday night my husband and I were invited to spend the night at the country home of a friend.  We had spent the better part of the day at Baby's university and that evening we joined with 86,000 of our closest friends to watch the football game and cheer the school on to victory. As we drove through the night exhausted and grateful for a nearby bed, we were two happy campers.

There are so many stars in the sky. I don't really see them in the city. Sure I go out and check on them, but in the suburbs only the biggest and brightest are visible.  I love the night sky in the country.  I stood looking upward trying to commit to memory the beauty of the night.

Well after midnight, we settled in for a quick sleep, everyone had to return to Fort Worth early in the morning so we planned to sleep until 6-ish and leave for the city no later than 7 a.m.

The view from our bed was so wonderful I didn't want to take off my glasses.  The north and south walls are almost all windows and there were two skylights above us.  Eventually, exhaustion took over and I put my glasses on the side table and went to sleep.  Just about 4 a.m. I woke up with a start - I felt a burning sensation just below my right elbow as I was sliding my arm under my pillow.  I grabbed my glasses and my phone and flipped over the pillow to see what my attacker was.  Nothing.  I kept searching with my phone - still my flip phone (I'm working on that) and eventually I reached over and turned on the bedside lamp.  Nothing.  My arm sort of throbbed and felt warm - this is Texas, I was thinking rattlesnake or killer bee- my imagination was starting to get the best of me.  I made enough noise to wake up Mr. Joy & Comfort and, as I told him what happened and he looked at my arm, I got the feeling he thought a large mosquito had gotten me.

Frustrated that no monster could be found, I flipped on the overhead light and pulled at the covers, nothing.  Mr. J&C was hinting maybe we should go back to sleep as he pulled the covers all the way to the end of the bed.

There, were I would have put my feet if I had gotten back into bed, was a scorpion. Before I could say "I told you something stung me!" My husband grabbed his shoe and beat the little monster to death.  (No pictures - sorry, he was too quick for me to get a 'living' picture. The flatten creature looked so pathetic I was sure PETA would complain. Also, I didn't Google a photo of one because I really don't want to see another one. Thank You.)

I washed my arm while he put the carcase in a plastic bag to show our host in the morning.  He insisted I use a bit of antibiotic ointment and I took an antihistamine.  My arm got just a bit puffy and red around the sting area, I survived.

I couldn't go back to sleep. Seeing that it was a scorpion made me want to throw-up. They are the stuff of scary movies and creepy crawlies that can hurt people... they can be a real danger - unlike the mystery diseases that drug commercials promise to save us from - only to finish with the legal disclaimers of side effects, many worse than the original disease. This is where I tell all the drug companies out there, "Hey, when your commercials come on I change the channel. Sometimes I don't go back to what I was watching."  Life is tough enough without being threaten into buying a product. Sorry, don't get me started with what is wrong with television.

An hour or so later, our shocked host was apologizing as if he had been the one to hurt me. I had calmed down by the time he got up and accepted what had happened. In fact, the thoughts racing through my brain at this time included a lot of thanksgiving that I had been stung in the arm and not on my face, don't know if that is a vanity thing or I just worry about my eyes and brain more than the next person.

I'm happy to report there were no side effects. I will admire the moon from my own backyard. Mr. J&C and I plan to sleep in our bed this Saturday night (after he's checked it for creepy crawlies). 

Wisdom... maybe it does come with age.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Autumn Arrives

Happy Autumn! or Spring!  - depending on where you are at this moment.  Many thanks to Rhonda Jean at Down to Earth in her Weekend Reading this week she called this little blog delightful.  Since Thursday afternoon, Joy & Comfort has gotten about 1,500 extra hits (yes, at first I thought the new Blogger workings were messed up - then I realized, no, somebody out there likes me).  To any new readers I may have 'Welcome.'  To the delightful group of followers who read this blog (and try hard to understand my sense of humor) "Thank You" - especially everyone who comments. 

The apple pie I made was pretty good (I've made better, someday I'll share that recipe). There are two pieces left. I played with my food and I'm looking forward to experimenting with other fruit and spice combinations (pears and apples with ginger, or maybe apples and raisins, or blackberries, or cherries (I put up some in the freezer last month), or pears and cranberries - the dried 'cranraisins' .... or maybe...)


That is the beauty of a fruit pie, use the fruit you love, anticipate the moisture that fruit will release (that's why there is a bit of flour and butter in the fruit mix. I would tell you it's magic, but I'm pretty sure it's science), and have fun.

Recipe - Apple Pie

I used three apples (a Granny Smith apple, a Jazz apple, and a Golden Delicious) for my pie. I peeled them, cut them up, and tossed them with
3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (you can use 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon of flour
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of regular (granulated/white) sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon of butter (cut into little bits and stirred into the mix)

I put the above ingredient in a bowl, mixed well, (sampled a couple of slices of apple), let stand on the counter about 1 hour.

You could buy your pie crust. I saw them in the refrigerated section at my local grocery store - two pieces of pre-made flatten stuff to fit a deep dish 9 inch pie pan for almost $4 dollars. Hello? I just didn't want to pay that much.  However, I'm not you, if buying a pie crust makes you happy, go for it.  But if you want to try and make homemade do it - so what if it's not perfect?  Trust me, perfection is highly overrated. 

For five inch pie plate I used:

2 Tablespoon of butter, soft (room temp - the room was about 77 F)
2/3 c. of all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon of salt

Mix together in a bowl with a fork until the ingredients look like cornmeal. 
Add  2 - 4 Tablespoons of cold water (sorry, I wasn't paying attention - I was just trying to get the dough to come together). 
Stir flour mixture and water until it comes together in a ball. I did this whole thing 'the worst way possible' just to make sure it could work. (Right now you could sprinkle a bit of flour across your nice clean counter top or a favorite table and, using a flour dusted rolling pin, roll out a beautiful crust.) Or you could do what I did and put the dough in your pie plate and start mushing it with your fingers, shaping it to fit the plate. Yes, I did that. Some days my laziness knows no bounds..

The topping is

2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons Oatmeal (I used the quick cook Quaker Oats)
2 Tablespoons of soft (room temp.) butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of the 'juice' from the bowl the sliced apples are in (you can skip this, it's the butter and sugar that seem to hold everything together.  I was just experimenting/playing with my food.)
a handful of pecan pieces

Mix together in a bowl.  I used a fork, it's a bit crumbly, you just want to mix everything up evenly - I started with a fork and eventually used my hands.  Then I pressed it on top of the apples, juice was squishing out - I tried to be gentle.

I preheated the oven to 425. Put the pie plate with pie crust inside on a cookie sheet (face it, it's probably going to bubble over and even if it's just a little bit burning sugar in your oven it will smell yucky).
Pour in the apples - if you have too many I give you permission to put them in a little bowl and eat them. Trust me, it will be o.k. Next I poured the topping on and pressed it down with my hands.

Put the pie (on cookie sheet) into oven and cooked it 30 or 35 minutes. My husband took it out of the oven for me so I'm not sure of the time.

Let it cool maybe 10 to 20 minutes, then sliced a couple of pieces - he had vanilla ice cream on his - I went plain. It was good.

Thing is, you don't have to follow this recipe exactly to get a good pie. Play with it - if you don't have allspice don't worry. If you use two pears and one apple you may want to use ground ginger instead of allspice and maybe half the cinnamon - it is your call. No brown sugar, use granulated sugar.

Next time I make a pie I'll roll out the crust and make it all beautiful. I just love trying different fruits and making sweet treats that make the house smell wonderful. Yes, this was better than store bought, better than most bakeries, almost as good as my mom's...



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Fear

I have been amazed by some of the television I have watched and the online news and information that has come my way over the past few months, so much of it fear based. "Eat this or Die!" "Do this and Die!  How did our ancestors live without the constant media reminders that we are nothing without the help of someone or something else (who will gladly 'save' us for a price)?

I don't enjoy scary stuff. I try to surround myself and my loved ones with happy pleasures. Sure my house has been neglected for the past few months, slowly but surely I am getting it cleaned up and back to my level of normal (not magazine perfect, I prefer homey and comfortable). It also smells wonderful here today - cinnamon, allspice, sugar, and apples.

I love apples.  Do you eat them for business or pleasure? Seriously, do you eat "an apple a day to keep the doctor away" or do you just eat them for the pleasure they bring you? I eat apples just because they taste wonderful. During the last few weeks I've decided to ignore the EXPERTS and to only eat food I like - because that's how life should be. I suppose if all I wanted to eat was dirt I would probably not be so bold, but I love a variety of foods and can't imagine any of them as "bad."


I'm currently working to create a delicious apple pie for two, shrinking our favorite pie recipe from an eight serving to a four serving pie plate.

I'll share my recipe on my next post - I'm not sure how this will turn out and I would hate to give you a yucky recipe.

I am very curious - Do you purchase things to make your life better or because you're afraid if you don't have 'it' terrible things might happen?  What motivates you?