Friday, September 19, 2014

Social Media – Adjusting My Settings

This week I have been mulling over the role social media plays in daily life. I don’t mean the silly quizzes that we all take….even if we don’t admit to taking them. I don’t mean the oddly addicting games…..or the sensationalized fake new stories.  What do I share?  How do I share it?  What do I learn?

This week I had an issue with a local businessman who has very poor customer service and a bad attitude towards customers.  Without listing specifically who or getting into the specifics of why, I posted asking for some recommendations for alternate providers.  Within an hour, I had more than enough recommendations and info.  I’d also called all the alternative service choices.  I posted the costs I’d found in the comments and several other people replied that they were making the switch too.  Without openly trashing the local business, I’d affected a change in my own life, saved money, and helped several more customers find company that will hopefully treat us better and not take for granted that being a local business means that the locals will just blindly stay with you out of loyalty. My post was set so that only Friends could see it….not Friends of Friends.

Later that day, I got a friend request from the local businessman….and it quickly disappeared.  I’m assuming he’d been looking at my FB page to see if I’d posted anything about him.  When he couldn’t get information that way, he had a friend of a friend contact me to ask me what was going on… least I’m assuming that’s what the “random” question out of nowhere was from someone I don’t talk to that much was.  I was just straightforward and factual saying that towards me, the customer service had been poor and that he didn’t seem to appreciate the customers he had very much.  I worked hard to answer truthfully without trashing him to his friend……knowing full well that the mutual friend would be reporting back.

Several weeks ago, I saw a person who had had a bad experience with a local business publicly flame them and trash them.  It is a business that I do business with….and I like and respect the owner.  It was hard to see negative comments about something I support.  But, rather than get into an argument with that person on the negative post, I posted positive comments and a groupon on my own wall, and changed who could see those particular posts to exclude the person who was on a trash and burn mission.  We have mutual friends in common. Several of my FB friends chose to give the local business some new business.  Maybe some left because of the flaming….though I don’t think so.  But, I know some joined because of the positive comments and groupon.

Another thing I saw this week was an ex-spouse post an open letter to the other ex.  It was a train wreck waiting to happen.  The original poster felt that posting it was “fine” because it was about feelings…..which should make it all OK.  The poster had it set so that friends-of-friends could see it.  Friends of mine noted the debate going on when I offered the VERY unpopular onion that it wasn’t an appropriate way to share feelings of this sort.  The original poster…and supporters…. maintained that it was OK to post negative comments that should be private because it was all “feelings.” Inevitably, the other shoe dropped and the other ex got wind of it and responded heavily. The train wreck happened…..with the original poster crying….SEE how I get treated?????

I went through my own VERY traumatic situation with my older child.  During that time period, I kept most if not all of the situation to myself.  I talked to my close friends and my family.  We never sat next to each other at soccer games or school plays…..and we had separate but equal meetings during teacher conference week.  But, we never put the laundry out to air in our community.  Most people always commented and complimented how well we got along.  They never saw the behind doors nasty emails and phone calls.  The custody suit that dragged on.  The lawyers.  The mediators.  I kept to myself that they even had the gall to file for custody (which they lost).

Watching this interaction made me question…..what WOULD I have done had social media available when I went through that with my child.  My sisters tease me that I post too much.  Some days, that is true. But, would I have posted about the deeply private situation and the mess we lived through???  Could I really have walked the talk that I’d just preached to my FB acquaintance????

I spent some time yesterday talking about that with my husband and he reaffirmed for me that…..No….I wouldn’t have posted inflammatory statements and barbs and jibes.  I would have done just what I did…..limit the conversation and the info to a few close friends and keep the private stuff just that…..private.

But, what is private?  How do we adjust our settings….internal and external…to limit what we share? That’s something each person has to figure out and decide Every person makes their own choices and no one setting is right for everyone.

In-person conversations, when meaning and intent are clear, I’ll tell you most anything you’d like to ask about.  In a private email or FB message…..maybe a little less.  It’s too easy for tone to be misread. Also, it’s very easy for someone to use the written words accidentally in a way that you don’t intend them to be used.  On my FB wall…..even less.  I will post about day to day stuff…..but I’m not going to get into the fight I had with my husband last week.  He deserves more from me than that (and no….we didn’t actually have a fight last week.) 

Those are my settings for social media.  I may slip up every now and again, and I will probably always be changing and adjusting them.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Roadside BBQ Chicken

A few months back, we were driving home from the shore and passed a roadside BBQ chicken sale at a gas station.  I don't know if they do this at other places, but here....roadside/gas station BBQ chicken is AWESOME.  However, money is tight and  it costs about $15 for a platter......1/4 chicken, corn, bp, and some kind of bread.

So, I didn't even suggest it....but started using my smart phone to look for ideas.  I ended up combining a few and came up with something that is just gosh darn awesome and a pretty good approximation.

I have made it 4 times since that day.  My husband and I argue over the leftovers. I can't say that the photo does it justice, but it is finger-licking bunches of yum...and I took the photo after we ate 2 of the 4 breasts.

Roadside BBQ Chicken

Mix together the following:

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (for this I use store-brand because of the volume/cost thing)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp celery seed
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (sriracha, Frank's, whatever you like)
Divide this in half (probably a little over a cup and a quarter is half.

Put of of the halves in a seal-able bag with 4 whole (bone-in, skin-on) chicken breasts.  Let marinate for at least 2 hours.  I try to go for much 6-8 hours.

To the other half, add 1/2 cup oil and save for basting.

After marinading, put the grill on high (we have a gas grill, so that's all the grilling info I can share). Wait 15 minutes, then put the chicken on skin side down and turn down to medium.  After 15 minutes, whisk the oil into the reserved liquid and baste the chicken, then flip it over (bone-side-down).  Keep it that way for the remainder of the cooking, basting every 15 minutes until the internal temperature is at lease 165F.  It takes about an hour.

If you want, you can baste the entire thing with a BBQ sauce of your choice for the last 5 minutes and flip so both sides get the sauce charred on.

Let the meat rest for 10 minutes after removing from the grill. 

Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

For my husband on our 10th anniversary

Tomorrow....on July 4th..... my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage....and almost 14 years since we met.  While I truly feel that the day we met is the day our lives changed.....him putting up with me for 10 years legally warrants a HUGE recognition.

We got married on the 4th of July because the places we booked offered a discount, and on a Sunday we could have a Catholic ceremony without a full mass.  We joked...and still do....that we would always have our anniversary off.....someone would be having a party.....and there would always be fireworks.

After we booked the date, we realized that the colors I'd chosen were  Not on purpose.  My dress was white with red roses embroidered on it.....and the lot of bridesmaid dresses I'd gotten were navy blue.

For me, our wedding was magical.  The day was hot, no family members killed each other, we could see the fireworks from the reception, and the "worst" thing that happened was that we were locked out of both of our cars and had to borrow clothing and toothbrushes....and had no clothing on our wedding night or the morning after.

The past 10 years have been nothing like I expected.....nothing I imagined.....and exceeded anything that ever crossed my mind.  There have been ups and downs, but I wouldn't change a moment.

So, for my sweet, wonderful, amazing husband.......

Ten Things from Ten Years

  1.  Our story is always being written and re-written. Who we are together and for each other changes from one day to the next…..from one week to another….and from year to year and beyond. Sometimes we even change from one minute to the next.
  2. You know when to let me be “right”….and how to tell me when I’m wrong.
  3.  In addition to being the great stepdad I thought you would be….you are a great father.
  4.  At the end of the day, our differences make us stronger together than our similarities. Together we are stronger than the sum of our parts.
  5. We should never work on the same part of the same project together at the same time. We make a great team in the end, but the bits in the middle are sometimes worked out better separately
  6. While we have some major philosophical differences, we agree on the most important…and they are what binds us together.
  7.  A sense of humor is key…..not only for helping to get over the rough parts, but to help us feel “together.” You are the second funniest person I know (me being the first… long as I’m laughing, it’s all good).
  8.  I am married to my best friend….and my other best friend approves.
  9.  You calm me and center me in a way that I never was…and never could be….without you.
  10. 10 years of marriage….and almost 14 years together…..we still make other people nauseated. I am proud of that fact.
I I love you.  I love our life.  I love our family.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Great spice rub

A couple of years ago, I came up with a spice rub that my family loves on pretty much any type of protein.  I generally mix it up in a large batch and then rub it over whatever meat or fish I'm cooking.  The sugar in it helps to caramelize the protein and provide a good sear. It works for grilling and for pan cooking.

1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Mix....rub......and mmmmm.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tuscan White Beans

This week I have been reading A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A bittersweet adventure.

The jury is still out on the book for me.  It is very descriptively written...filling my mind with scenes and food imagery. At the end of every chapter, there is a recipe.

About a third of the way through, I found a recipe for some Tuscan white beans.  In the book and the subsequent recipe, they cook the beans in a bottle in the ashes of a wood fire all day.  However, that basically will never happen in my lifetime here.  I love to cook, but I'm not that dedicated to the authenticity of the whole thing.

But, after reading through it, I figured out a way that I could make it work with some changes to their recipe and some changes to the cooking method.

I made it today and the smell in the house was flat out amazing.  The beans were part of tonight's dinner and they frankly blew me away.  The ingredients were so simple, but the flavor was outstanding.  

I served the beans over some Italian bread...torn into chunks...and had some prosciutto to go with the whole Italian theme in my head. 

Tuscan White Beans
  • 1 lb dried beans
  • water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • few grinds of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup white wine
Start by soaking the beans.  I use the quick-soak method ....cover with cold water, cover pot, bring to a boil, turn off, leave covered for 1 hour, drain, rinse.  Or, you could cover with water and soak overnight.

After the beans are presoaked, put in pan and cover with fresh water.  I use a pressure cooker for this.  With the pressure cooker, you lock the lid on, bring it to pressure, reduce heat, cook for 10 minutes, release the pressure, drain, and the beans are ready to season.  If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can put in any pan, cover with water and cook covered for an hour or so until the beans are tender.  Both ways work equally well, the pressure cooker is just super quick.

I then put the beans in my slow cooker; added the salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, garlic, white wine, and olive oil; and cooked on high for 4 hours. And done!!!!!

If you don't have a slow cooker, you could just drain the beans (again); add in the seasonings, wine, and olive oil; add in 2 cups of water (you'll need more moisture cooking on a stovetop); and cook covered on the stove top for 1-1/2 hours.

Simple ingredients.....amazing taste.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Homemade Chicken Stock in a Slow Cooker

I use my slow cooker for TONS of things. One of the really cool things I found is that you can use it to make homemade chicken stock.

It’s super easy to do and the difference is amazing. While I certainly don’t use homemade chicken stock for everything, it’s a really nice thing to be able to do with leftovers and it really ups the recipe results when I do.

Last week I made some using the leftovers from a store-bought rotisserie chicken that I had picked up for a quick dinner.

Clean most of the meat off the chicken. Save the bones. If you can’t/don’t want to do the stock right away, put the bones in a bag in the freezer until you are ready.

Put in slow cooker.  Add a peeled and quartered onion, 2 or 3 peeled carrots, and some peeled garlic cloves.  I can’t stand celery, so it’s never in my house, but you can add a few stalks of that too. Cover with water.  

Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6—8 hours.  It will look something like the photo below. Note the difference in the deeper color to the liquid and the "cooked" look to the vegetables, etc.

When done, cool just until you can handle the crock insert. Strain the liquid. I line my colander with paper towels (see below) and slowly pour it through.

I stop occasionally to discard the solids that stop the liquid from flowing through. Replace the paper towels and re-strain a second time.

At this point, you can chill the whole container to skim the fat off the top, or just leave it in.  As you can see, there isn't a ton of fat in it. Just that small rim at the top.

Add salt to taste. Super important. Will taste horrible without adding salt.

The color of homemade stock is amazing.  Just look at that photo above and the one below.  It looks NOTHING like the watery yellow stuff that comes from the can, cube, or powder.  And the flavor is above compare.

I divide it up into small bags with 1 cup in each bag and freeze it. Then when I need some for a sauce or recipe, I just thaw it and use.

Try'll be impressed with your cooking prowess.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Local Fun Things to Do

In the last several weeks, school has ended.

This is the first year that my little guy was in school full-day…5 days a week.  I have MISSED him terribly. So, the last several weeks, we have been bonding again.  Snuggling, holding hands, playing games, etc.

But, I don’t want to just let his summer slip by without having a ton of fun.  To that end, I came up with a list of local free or low cost activities for us to do. After I did, I saw a list going around of 50 fun things to do in Philly.  There is some overlap between my own list and their….but I swear I didn't copy. I came up with more than 30 things on my own.

Some of the things I have chosen, are based on a few memberships that I have.  When I pick a membership, I look at the cost and what the reciprocal memberships are.  A perfect example of this is the Delaware Museum of Natural History.  They offer reciprocals at 4 VERY local places that we would have a good time at…including the “dinosaur” museum in Philly.  Make sure you read the fine print.  Does the reciprocal membership offer free admission or do you have to pay 50% of the entrance fee.  Are there any restrictions like day of the week or the distance from the reciprocal museum to the residence on your ID?  Are you limited to number of children you can bring?  Because I have an only child and I usually am watching one of my friend’s children, I always add a second child on when I fill out the membership.  That way I’m not charged for the favor I am doing my friend…but we’re still having fun.

All that said here’s the list that I came up with.  If you have any other suggestions, let me know.  I could use a few more!!!

Foot tour of Philly – pay what you want
Taylor Arboretum – let kids play in creek
Tyler Arboretum – treehouses and picnic (have membership)
Brandywine zoo – get in with Elmwood Park Zoo membership
Elmwood park zoo – have membership
Hagley Museum – get in with DMNH membership
Iron Hill Museum – get in with DMNH membership
Lego building competition
PJ/Movie day
Go to Statue of Liberty – request from the little guy
Day trip to the shore
Make s’mores
Catch fireflies
Scavenger Hunt/hike
Let kids pick a recipe and teach to make it
Learn to play piano
Go to Please Touch Museum (bought groupon)
Camp out in back yard
Academy of Natural Sciences - get in with DMNH membership
Have lunch at Philly food cart