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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Wraps and Stream of Consciousness

The cooking show that I haven't told you about yet.

You know how sometimes there's something that you are going to do, but it makes you really nervous and to avoid stressing unnecessarily you push it to the back of your mind so that you don't even think about it until it's actually happening?

That's the state of being that I have been in for the last month.  I believe it's called denial.

Oh, I knew that the day was going to come, because I promised and we scheduled and set the date and declared the theme of  "easy things to prepare for dinner at back-to-school time when your house is crazy and you don't have time to cook because you're trying to get into a routine but nobody's really adjusted to the after-school schedule" or something like that, because like I said I tried not to dwell on it.

And then Dan the Camera Man showed up at precisely the time that he was scheduled to be there and it. was. time. and since I hadn't really allowed myself to think about it I wasn't as nervous as I could have been and I wasn't at all stressed like I expected I would be.

Not even when he set up his big lights and big cameras in front of me and then we had to shut the air conditioning off because of the humming noise and it got really hot because my oven was set at 400 degrees and my face was all shiny and sweaty from the hot oven and bright lights and no air conditioning on a hot day.

This is all that I remember:  1. Dan pointing at one of the cameras, and in his lovely Irish brogue proclaiming, "this is your camera, Fran."

2. I was so grateful that Jack and Nick, two boys that have been on my baseball team for the past three years, were there to help me cook and provide someone for me to talk to.  I can not convey how grateful I am that these two fabulous 15-year-old boys chose to spend a couple of hours on a summer afternoon cooking with their baseball coach.  Had they not been there, I would have had to talk to Dan's aforementioned camera while I cooked and I would imagine that talking to an emotionless, inanimate object like a camera would have me mumbling and grumbling to myself (a la Kreacher the house elf from the Harry Potter movies).  Or maybe I would have just stared at the camera, frozen and unable to speak (like on that episode of The Brady Bunch when Cindy Brady is on the televised school quiz show and freezes when she sees the red flashing light on the camera).

3. It was hot, my face was very sweaty and I didn't care.

4. When it was over, I wanted everyone to eat all of the food we just made.
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After all the cooking and filming was done, I took this picture of Dan the awesome camera man.


And here are Nick and Jack. Without them, I would have been a basket case.

What did we cook?  Well, the theme of "food that is easy to prepare when you're crunched for time at mealtime" meant lots of advance prep and then just putting the ingredients together.  The only thing that we actually cooked while taping the show was an apple tart that I will post later this week.  We also prepared
Pasta Salad and three types of chicken wraps: Caesar (click here to go to my recipe for Chicken Caesar Salad), Cranberry-Walnut and Buffalo-Style which I'll post in a moment.

When we taped the show, I used grilled chicken that I had made in advance, but store-made rotisserie chicken works just as well.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Banana Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

This summer sure is flying by, isn't it?

Caitie finished up her internship in NYC earlier this month.  Sean finished his internship as well.  Monday was Erin's last shift as a hospital volunteer.  Which reminds me that I never did post these pictures:


About a month ago, when I dropped her off for her shift, as we pulled around the drop-off area we noticed that the sidewalks were lined with people.  Dozens of people.  And each and every one of them was looking skyward, holding up their cell phone.........

Spiderman does windows!!  
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Today's recipe came about because I had a few overripe bananas, but I didn't want to go the usual banana bread route , or even make chocolate banana bread because I didn't want to put the oven on for the hour+ that it takes to bake it.

I figured that spreading the batter out in a jelly roll pan would shorten the baking time and then I thought frosting would be a nice touch and then it all disappeared so quickly that I had to make another batch!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Wraps and Baseball Really Does Make Everything Better

I refuse to get on my elliptical machine unless I have something good to watch while I torture myself  exercise.  It is just so gosh-darn boring any other way.

When I couldn't get my ipad to stream a video earlier this week, I went to plan B. Plan B is to read a book while riding my recumbent bike, since reading while standing on the elliptical--a stationary-yet-moving piece of equipment--requires more coordination than I possess.  I love, love, love to read so I was excited to have an excuse not to get on the elliptical (I usually force myself to use the elliptical instead of the bike because I get a much better--read SWEATY--workout).   Sitting and peddling on a bike while enjoying a good story is not such a great workout, but it is so much more enjoyable.

There was a minor problem, however.
This is the book that I have been reading lately.

And by lately, I mean approximately for the last month.  Or even longer, if you go back about 7 years to the last time I tried to read Life of Pi.  And now I digress.

I'm not a quitter.  I hate to start something and not finish it.  I can only remember giving up on one other book, ever.  It was around 25 years ago, Mr. Terrific bought me Stephen King's It, because It was over 1000 pages long.  I read books quickly, and if I'm reading a really good book I start wishing that the book were longer.  Mr. Terrific thought he was doing me a favor by buying me a really long book.

Except I didn't like the book.  After about 600 pages, I decided that I had read enough about children being terrorized by a clown.

Which is more than I can tell you about Life of Pi. The last time I attempted to read this book,  I read over 100 pages and I can not tell you what I read.  I gave up, even though it was on the best seller list, even though a friend of mine (whose opinion I totally respect and trust) told me it was a fabulous book.  I mean, 100 pages was a serious effort, right?  And for me to not even be able to remember what I read--I feel bad saying this--I felt like I was just wasting my time, and all because I was being stubborn and didn't want to quit.

But quit I did, I was happy to stop reading it and never gave it another thought...until the movie that was based on the book won a few Oscars at this year's academy awards.  I didn't see the movie, but I started thinking to myself, hmmmm...maybe I should give that book another go.

So about a month ago, I started reading Life of Pi AGAIN.  And since the only time of day that I can really find time to read is when I get into bed--and since I am on the verge of total exhaustion at that late hour--if there is nothing to spark my interest (read: if something is boring), I fall asleep really quickly.

I don't have a lot to show for the last month or so that I have been attempting to read this book.  Every night,  my eyes immediately just start rolling around inside of my head, anywhere from one word to a few paragraphs into it, which leaves me stuck on page 23.  That's right.  23 pages, in an entire month.  I would usually expect to read 3 or 4 books in a month.  But I'm stuck.  And I do mean stuck.


This is the page that I have been stuck on for the last week or so.  I get into bed, open the book to the page that I have dog-eared (don't judge me) to mark my place, and I ponder why pi=3.14159265 (I can't help it, my math-geekiness always expands it and yes I am jealous of everyone who has memorized more of these randomly-distributed digits than I have), visions of circles and their ratios of circumference to diameter cloud my thinking and then I realize that this tiny little equation is the only thing I have read in this book that I can relate to!!! 

 And then I close the book and turn out the light and lie there thinking that reading before bed is no fun.

Okay, back to the non-streaming ipad and working out on the bike instead of the elliptical...

So the last thing I want to read while working out is Life of Pi, especially when I could be reading something I enjoy.  I decided I would just go ahead and read something else while I exercised.

This is where Baseball Makes Everything Better comes in.

The Bird.  If you are a baseball fan, and you grew up in the '70's, surely you remember him?  I unabashedly admit that I really, really love the game of baseball and I always have...and I bought this book because even though I have always been a die-hard Red Sox fan there is no way that any baseball fan who ever saw Mark Fidrych pitch could not help but like him, and I certainly liked him.  He was so much fun to watch, and he played like he was having a blast: talking to himself, running around to congratulate his teammates, getting down on his hands and knees to smooth the dirt on the pitcher's mound.  

I bought this book a few months ago, and I gave it to Mr. Terrific because I thought he would enjoy reading it, but I am the one who is enjoying it.  I'm enjoying it so much that I have decided I will not ever waste one more second on any book that I'm not enjoying...and I'm probably going to have to remind myself to come back and read this blogpost if I ever get it in my head again that I really should give Life of Pi another try!