About Me

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My friends call me the "grammar goddess." Really. ;-) I own a freelance writing, editing and tutoring business. Previously, I served three years as food editor for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, which kindled my interest in food writing. My other areas of expertise in writing include features, community news, architecture/construction and engraving/personalization. I have a frightening number of cookbooks and watch too many DIY, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Antiques Roadshow (BBC and PBS versions) shows. And I tweak nearly every recipe I make.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas: The Season for Procrastination

'Tis the season ... to procrastinate.

If you're familiar with the tune Deck the Halls, you're probably saying, "That doesn't sound right." It is, nonetheless, true for many of us. 

Mind you, some of the procrastination wasn't my fault. I spent about two weeks at the start of the month suffering from bronchitis. 

This week, though, the delays are pretty much of my devising. So the cookies have yet to be baked; about one-third of the presents still have to be bought (Walmart and Target are my targets tomorrow) and my few written cards are going to be New Year's cards. And I'm going to try to get out some e-cards by Christmas Day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Week Was Filled with Lessons

Lesson number one from my Thanksgiving week was simple: homemade isn't always better. 

My aunt got a turkey dinner from Meijer this year and we all brought fill-ins. While the stuffing was nothing to write home about (though admittedly, I'm a harsh critic of any stuffing but my aunt's or mom's), it beat StoveTop. The side dishes were fine (I was particularly fond of the orange-cranberry concoction), but the turkey was the star. It was moist and juicy, which isn't always the case with store bought rotisserie chickens, and a nice surprise. Kudos to Meijer for that!

Lesson number two: you have to be a much more hard-core shopper to go into Kohl's and actually stand in line to buy something. I picked three items, looked at the line (even the jewelry counter was ridiculous, though I did have a jewelry item) and ended up putting them back. Kmart was not as insane, thankfully, and I got most of the really little kids' presents there, so mission accomplished, more or less. 

I should have gone out shopping Saturday, but instead, I spent the time at a friend's "mini-Thanksgiving" where I ate my fill including an amazing lemon-infused boneless turkey breast as well as great desserts and played a "new" game (meaning new to me) involving quotations. 

We had a lovely time, bringing me to lesson number three: friends who are like family are nice to have. 

And Tati, if you're reading this, I want the recipe for those pecan tarts and the little chocolate tarts, too! (They may not qualify as healthy, precisely, but at least they're tiny.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

National Coffee Day: Most Coffee-Dependent Professions

The Macomb Daily recently ran an article in its business section stating that writers and editors rank among the most coffee-dependent jobs in America. Trust me, that's an understatement. A lot of us are working from coffee shops these days.

The research, conducted by Career Builder and Dunkin' Donuts, was released for the made-up holiday, National Coffee Day, which I'm sorry I missed. (It was Thursday and I didn't see the article until Friday.) Dunkin' Donuts also is running a contest for "passionate fans" to compete to appear in one of the company's commercials; see details here.

Some of the other professions were equally obvious; in fact, when I first scanned the list, I thought, "Well, duh." The next thing that crossed my mind was that maybe The Macomb Daily was having a really slow news day.

Other heavy coffee drinkers include: marketing/public relations professionals and scientists and lab researchers.

Realistically, writers and editors and doctors should be higher up than they are. Trust me; based on my own experience in the business, newspaper people slug down a lot of coffee. And Paczki, too, when they can get them. In fact, one Fat Tuesday, my nickname for that day was The Paczki Goddess, since I brought the fatty, sugary delicacies to the office.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Waffle House Serves As Disaster Index of Sorts

I seriously chuckled a few minutes ago when reading a Huff Post Food piece. 

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) agents can tell how bad a disaster is by what the local Waffle House is serving. It's called the "Waffle House Index." Seriously. 

Quote from the article: "Waffle House's tenacity and preparedness are so watertight that FEMA Director Craig Fugate has joked that he watches a "Waffle House Index" of disaster magnitude. He can tell how bad a disaster's been by how much of its menu Waffle House is serving." It's even been studied and verified by Washington University Business professor Panos Kouvelis.

Check out the article. I'm still somewhat amazed and highly amused. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You're Kidding, Right?

I just pinched myself when I saw the email about half an hour ago.

First, I thought they had to be kidding. Then I made sure it was a legitimate website before I went to a link on it (yes, I'm a trifle paranoid about unknown links in emails). Too bad. Deal with it.

But apparently I do have one of the top 100 healthy recipe blogs of 2011, as least as determined by healthcarecolleges.net. Wow.

There's now a pretty little logo I'm entitled to use on my website due to receiving this award. Still a bit stunned here. Any time that I'm at a loss for words is worth noting; just ask my friends! OK, I've recovered from my state of speechlessness now, and I'd like to thank the academy. Whoops, wrong award.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vive La Difference: Perfect Ribs Made with Custom Equipment

My most recent column in Brighton Patch featured ribs by Tom Coates. (I nearly put a capital R on them because they're so well thought of in the community; see some of the comments people have made on his grill website).

Tom is what some might call an extreme griller; an architect for 25 years, he decided to make his own artisan-style grill, which is a kind of hybridization of a wood-burning oven and a grill. His goal was to replicate the kind of food his father and grandfather, who were both accomplished at cooking over an open fire, used to make.

I think he's exceeded expectations. Tom also has started his own business making these grills; upon seeing it up close at work, I can tell it's a well-made grill that gets splendid results. He has a number of testimonials  -- and the evidence of my eyes and nose -- to prove it.

I wish I could convey the ribs' look and smell ... it was fabulous. His other recipes on the website sound great, too. But smell-o-blogs, like "smell-o-vision" that Rachael Ray wishes she could invent, don't exist. Yet. I keep hoping it'll happen someday!

Tom provided me with the photo of the finished product, which looks fabulous! He says using his grill with charcoal and various kinds of wood truly brings out the flavor of the meat, which you can eat with various dipping sauces.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before they were done, but I want to try his ribs when he does another grilling and sampling session at either Leaf, Barley and Vine or The Wooden Spoon (both located in Brighton, Michigan) I plan to attend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Website Gives Those In Need a Boost ... And Pizza

Random Acts of Pizza  is doing good ... one pizza pie at a time.

Here's the background, based on an article  from Utah-based Deseret News.

ABC News reported that Daniel Rogers, a lawyer from San Antonio, Texas, came up with the idea a year ago while unemployed. He knew he was "depressed" and feeling "disconnected from society," so he thought of what might change that.

"Connecting down-on-their-luck pizza lovers with a steaming hot pie, he figured, might make people feel a little bit better," according to the Deseret News article. "'[A pizza] says someone's got my back, someone's looking out for me,'" he said.

For more information, or to donate, go to http://www.reddit.com/r/Random_Acts_Of_Pizza/.

This is an awesome idea.
What else would work to cheer the unemployed? I'm thinking deliveries of a bag or two of Lindt chocolates ... or maybe Dove chocolates. (You could stretch those out for a week or more!)

On a more practical note, people could donate their unneeded gift cards to places like Wal-Mart or gas stations so the unemployed could get things they need.
People don't just need help at Christmas and Easter, sadly. As the Bible says, "For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always." Mark 14:7, Douay-Reims version.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

'Top 10 Veggies' Are Cheap and Nutritious

Two or three weeks ago, I saw an interesting link on AOL's home page: Top 10 Vegetables With the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Buck by Sally Deneen on WalletPop. It's worth the read, really, to find what she calls "the best, cheapest veggies."

Here's the list:

2.Collard greens
3.Mustard greens
4.Turnip greens
6.Cauliflower heads
7.Brussels sprouts
8.Broccoli florets
10.Cauliflower florets

Reading it made me want to make a pot of vegetable soup using as many of these as possible; since it was very hot, the feeling passed. Quickly.

Interestingly enough, aside from carrots, spinach and broccoli, they are all vegetables I didn't care for as a kid. What would you make with the veggies on this list? And how would you make them appeal to kids? Let me know.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

'Another Reason to Believe': Jon Bon Jovi

I knew there were a few good reasons that I have always loved Jon Bon Jovi.

Great musician? Check. He and Jennifer Nettles sing one of my favorite songs together (originally his alone)

For another thing, he's downright adorable. C'mon, girls, have you looked at him?

He even seems to be a fairly normal guy ... especially for a rock star. Sorry to disappoint you all, ladies, but he's taken. Jon Bon Jovi's been married since 1989 to his high school sweetheart and they have four children.

The fact that he's opening a pay-what-you-can restaurant mostly staffed by volunteers in Red Bank, New Jersey this spring called Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen makes it clear the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation is doing the right thing for those Livin' On a Prayer. It's an obvious living out of the ideal mentioned in Luke Chapter 12, verse 48, as quoted by John F. Kennedy, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.”

Those who can afford it should pay a minimum suggested $10 donation (but they'll take more if you can ante it up).

I think Jon Bon Jovi just got cuter and gave me Another Reason to Believe.

(In case you'd like to go to the original source, I read about this in an article on Take Part's website.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Restaurant Review: Niko's Place Restaurant

On vacation this week. I went to Niko's Place restaurant in New Port Richey, FL, which offers numerous healthy options, for my birthday dinner last night with my mom, aunt and uncle. I had prime rib with mashed potatoes mostly sans gravy, maybe one tablespoon (yes, not the best choice, but I trimmed off all fat and had the soup and salad bar with it, which is fantastic!)

In fact, most entrees at Niko's, which is a family tradition when we are in Florida, include the soup and salad bar; it can definitely be a stand-alone meal.

My mother enjoys Tilapia Athena often; she says it's a healthy fish dish that gives you a choice of vegetables, sweet potato or potato as well as the salad bar.

If you travel in the Port Richey/New Port Richey, FL area, give it a try!

Niko's Place Restaurant 
(727) 841-8151
6818 US Highway 19
New Port Richey, FL 34652

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Win a 'Pantry Makeover'

Whole Story, the blog for Whole Foods Market, is hosting a contest through Jan. 31, so hurry.

Quote about contest from blog:

"So tell us, what healthy eating changes do you plan to make in 2011? Where do you find your motivation and inspiration? We want to hear it all!

Share a bit about your approach to healthy eating in the comments below by January 31st for a chance to win." You do this in the comments section of the blog contest entry.

Contest winners get a $99 Whole Foods Market card and will be put in touch with one of the store's Healthy Eating Specialist to get a "pantry makeover" that helps them learn how to shop for healthy food at a reasonable price.  

Reasons Detroit Food Rocks

I slightly twisted a title from an article in Canada's version of the Reader's Digest called 9 Surprising Reasons Why Detroit Rocks for this blog post. 

Number 5 in the article includes Detroit Eastern Market, a place where my dad always got steaks for Detroit Western International High School's staff picnic, which he organized for many years. He felt they were the best steaks ever. (We always got the leftover steak because he coordinated the picnic, and I agree with his assessment.) Another site the article recommended is vegan- and vegetarian-friendly Russell Street Deli, which I want to try.

One reason Detroit area food rocks is that many of the supermarkets here, supermarkets including Whole Foods MarketTrader Joe's, Kroger's and locally-owned Hiller's Markets, make it super easy to find healthy food. Hiller's also has a gluten-free foods section and a shelf tag system making it easy to choose Michigan products.

That's just the tip of the iceberg as far as Detroit area food is concerned. Check this blog for more great places in 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cookbook Review: The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition

Peg Bracken was my hero from the moment I boughtThe I Hate to Housekeep Book for 10 cents at a used bookstore. I was in junior high and could totally relate to her sentiments, but that's an entirely different blog.

Shortly after that, I bought a paperback copy of The Appendix to The I Hate to Cook Book for perhaps 50 cents. In the back, I discovered a list of her other books, including The I Hate to Cook Book. I really don't hate to cook, but found the title hilarious nonetheless.

I scoured used bookstores and library book sales for years and bought the revised The Compleat I Hate to Cook Book when it came out (a combination of the two cookbooks) and vastly enjoyed her memoir, A Window Over the Sink.

Finally, a couple of years ago, I found a first edition copy of The I Hate to Cook Book at a used book sale. I wouldn't have dreamed of reviewing the book, though, because it was out of print.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, while visiting my friend, Tati (the only person I know who owns more cookbooks than I do), she dragged out a new treasure:The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition for me to check out. My first thought was "awesome!" My second thought was: "Now I can review this book!"

When I read the introduction by Bracken's daughter, Johanna, I almost busted a gut laughing. She's definitely inheirited her mom's sense of humor. 

For those of you who haven't read anything by her, Peg Bracken is hilarious: I've read all of her books multiple times and they still make me chuckle. Her writing style is just about equally split between actual recipes and (sometimes snarky) editorial comments about cooking.

For example, right after her Stayabed Stew entry, she comments: "But as a rule, don't hesitate to cut the amount of seasoning way down, or leave it out, when you know it's one you don't like. ... I for one think rosemary is for remembrance, not cooking, and the amount of rosemary I have omitted from various recipes would make your head swim." Some recipes have asterisks next to certain ingredients stating the item can be omitted if desired.

That's probably why, even after slightly changing the ingredients, I've never made a bad recipe from this book.

My favorite recipe in the book, Skid Row Stroganoff, which I've abused with numerous substitutes, including using low-fat sour cream instead of regular, substituting dried garlic and onion flakes for fresh garlic and onion, low-fat cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken soup and low-fat sour cream for full-fat sour cream.

Not one of these changes (or even making all of them at one time) impaired the recipe quality. I attribute the fact that these changes had no impact on Bracken's recipes to the extensive testing she did on her family, as mentioned by daughter Johanna.

I have read all of Bracken's books I've been able to find (most of which have been out of print for years) and love them. Her writing style was so conversational you almost feel as though you're reading a friend's letter. When she died in 2007 at the age of 89, I shed a few tears, in part because I knew there would never be another Peg Bracken book. Fortunately, I was wrong, even though it's an anniversary edition.

The best thing is that a whole new generation of people with different problems but who still have no desire to spend an incredible amount of time (or money) in the kitchen are introduced to this book's tried and true recipes featuring uncomplicated ingredients and great taste served with a side of humor.