Archive for January, 2013

The Joy of Time


2013
01.28

Remember that book from the ’70s, The Joy of Sex? I remember it well, mostly because I just found my copy in my kitchen on the cookbook shelf. How it got there I do not know. I may have thought it was The Joy of Cooking, or maybe I am just way more messed up than I give myself credit for.

Anyway, the book was filled with a lot of pencil and charcoal sketches of couples in various nude poses, doing what people do when they are together with their clothes off. It was sort of an instructional book, I suppose, one more in a series of self-help books from that era letting you know that no matter how you were doing it, you just weren’t doing it right.

But I digress.

I’d like to write my own book: The Joy of Time. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, since I now have so much of it to do with as I please. Since I’m not a sketch artist, I’d probably have to rely on the work of others. (Thank you, Google!) I’ve already depleted my limited artistic skills to design the cover, though.

If you are unemployed and have some sort of income that will let you keep body and soul together, and while you are looking for work or suddenly find yourself retired, you also suddenly have the joy of time. It’s a marvelous thing. Time. The time to do whatever you want, when you want to do it, with whom you care to do it, or the choice to not do it at all, and simply take a nap.

Remember when you are at work and it’s after lunch and the office is dim and warm, and you think boy, a nap would be great right about now? Well, it is. It’s just as great as you imagined it, and in all likelihood, about 20 times better. A little snooze in the middle of the day. Heaven! And if you have some of those Sleeper Cats in the house, as I do, so much the better.

And throw out that pesky alarm clock. You don’t need it! You’re at the stage again when there is only one 7:00 in your day.

Remember all those things you said you’d do when you had time, like clean out the silverware drawer or rearrange your closet or haul a bunch of stuff to Goodwill or change the furniture around in your bedroom? No longer a “some day” dream, but luxurious time to do accomplish all those things.

Maybe you’d like to try out some new recipes? You can do that. (Not the ones from The Joy of Sex, which you may find on your cookbook shelf, though of course you can do those, too. It’s less fattening.)

Or maybe you want to meet some friends for lunch. Go! Eat! Fly, little bird!

You can grocery shop early in the morning, late at night, on a Tuesday or Friday or when the mood hits you. You don’t have to go after work or on Saturday or Sunday. You can just go. In the middle of the morning, the aisles are all yours. You can complain to the greengrocer about the short pomegranate season. He apparently has time to listen, though he is helpless to change it.

If you decide to expand your volunteer work, you will have the time and the energy to do it. (And you should. People need you!)

You can watch all those movies you’ve been meaning to see, and you can read those books that were in your “some day” pile.

So close to the truth!

The best part of having all this time is that, should you choose, you can do absolutely nothing. When was the last time you did that?

It’s the kind of freedom everyone should have while they are young enough to enjoy it. Maybe our society is putting all its energy toward the wrong ideals? I don’t know. That’s a concept way too big for my brain. The same brain who put The Joy of Sex on my cookbook shelf, remember.

Speaking of mindless pursuits, I am off to one of those right now. Oh, the joy.

* * *

PS: The next auction drawing will be held on Thursday night, January 31. Be sure to get your name in to claim your box of auction treasures. Remember… I drive 300 miles every weekend and stand in long lines so you don’t have to. Leave your name in the comments, or Email me at pjackson@pattjackson.com. You can win more than once. With my dearth of readers, your chances of winning are so, so good.

Long Time No See.


2013
01.12

This little fellow has sat on my bookcase for years; a leftover from childhood. Corny though he may be, he originally belonged to my mother, so for me has become a treasured object solely on the basis of sentimentality.

Originally, he had a small set of eyeglasses, which I remember well. They were brown and round and had actual glass in them. Kinda like this.

During childhood (mine, not his) the glasses were broken and thrown away, a confession I heard from my sister Kim last week. I suppose it was one of those childhood things you just have to do, like the time I poked pinholes in the nostrils of my mom’s Southern Belle painting.

Satan. It’s the only logical explanation.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally tried to replace those glasses. I would find doll glasses at yard sales, or wire glasses in craft shops, and bring them home and try them on, all to no avail. The very last pair I tried was so ridiculously wrong that even the gnome laughed. But he wore them for a few years, uncomplaining as gnomes are, I guess.

The wrong glasses:

Maybe it wasn’t all that important. If you are on the same page for 50+ years, perhaps ill-fitting glasses are not your problem.

But to get back on point: Last weekend Kim and I were at an auction, where she purchased a box of Christmas junk on one of those “end of the table” sales. She had her eye on one thing, and when she retrieved that, she sent the rest of the stuff home with me.

So I was meticulously going through the box (because you never know what you’ll find in one of them) and there, among the garlands and plastic flowers and a knot of ornament hangers, there at the very bottom of the box, I found them. The gnome glasses. I couldn’t wait to see if they’d fit him.

They did!

They fit!

And doesn’t he even look happier? (True, somewhere along the line his face was broken and poorly put together by someone else who probably needed glasses, but nonetheless, the glasses fit. Let’s try to stay on topic.)

And by the way, here’s what he’s reading:

It just goes to show ya: You never know what you’ll find at the bottom of a box of auction junk.

_____

So what are you going to find at the bottom (or middle or top) of your auction box? Don’t forget to sign up for the drawing, so you can win some treasures of your own. Obviously it won’t be the little pair of gnome glasses, but it might just be something you’ve been trying to find for many years.

Here’s hoping!

Spanikopita Recipe


2013
01.08

My grandma made spinach pies quite often, but no matter which recipe I try, none of them match my memory of the ones she made. Maybe it’s nostalgia or wishful thinking, but I’d love to have just one more of Grandma Swor’s dinners again.

This recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen, and it’s pretty close to what Grandma made. (Where did she get phyllo dough back then? I wonder if she made her own, or used a different crust recipe? I wish I knew.) You can watch a video of this at their website, free. My complaint about America’s Test Kitchen is that you have to sign up “Free,” meaning you have to leave a credit card number. You know what that means: unacceptable charges on your card, eventually. Somehow the video is free, though.

This one is fun to make, and tastes pretty darned good.

Enjoy!

Spanikopita

Ingredients you’ll need:

20 oz fresh spinach (which amounts to 2 bags of fresh spinach leaves, though I imagine frozen would work just as well.)

1/4 cup water (won’t need this if you’re using frozen spinach)

12 oz crumbled feta cheese (I thought this was too much; will only use 8 oz next time)

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Small onion, chopped

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons dill

A pinch of mint flakes

A little lemon zest

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

7 Tablespoons butter, melted (I used nearly an entire stick)

1/2 cup pecorino or grated parmesan cheese

16 sheets phyllo dough (1 roll of phyllo is 16 sheets. Freeze the second roll for your next recipe.)

2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional, but pretty)

Steam the spinach in 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Drain well, using a spatula to press out excess water. Chop the spinach up. (You don’t need to remove stems.) Squeeze spinach in an old kitchen towel (“old” because it will stain) to remove all moisture.

In a large bowl, mix the spinach with the yogurt, feta cheese, onion, 2 eggs and the spices, stirring well.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. (If you use a 9×13 pan, you’ll have excessive moisture in the recipe, making a soggy crust. A cookie sheet and parchment allows moisture to drain off.) Butter the parchment and then begin stacking 10 phyllo sheets, buttering each sheet after you add it to the pile. Don’t worry if they break up (you can move them back in position) but phyllo tends to dry quickly, so work fast. When you have 10 sheets of buttered phyllo, spoon the spinach mixture on that, and distribute evenly, leaving about 1/4 inch of space around all 4 sides.

On top of the spinach mixture, butter the remaining 6 sheets of phyllo. Sprinkle pecorino or parmesan cheese evenly between the last 2 sheets. Pat the layers down gently with your hands.

With a paring knife, score gently through the first 3 layers, marking off about 24 squares, or less, depending on your preference. Sprinkle the top with the 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes,until golden brown. Allow spanikopita to rest about 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I think Grandma would approve!

And The Winner Is…


2013
01.02

Congratulations, Linda M of Texas! A box of auction goodies will be winging its way to you tomorrow, unless snow closes the post office. Then … Friday.

I was out of town the last day of December, and didn’t get back to Duluth until Tuesday night, so I did the drawing early today. Remember to send me your name if you want to be included in the January drawing. The Christmas stuff is safely doled out, so you’ll be getting non-holiday themed “stuff.” You’ll love it! Leave a note here, or send an Email to pjackson@pattjackson.com, and you’re in like Flynn.

Linda M and I met on another website when she mentioned that she lives in Belton, Texas, a small town where I once lived as well. She’s called Linda M, because in the small office where she works (in the small town) there are three Lindas. So there ya go.

_____

Meanwhile, the holidays were frantic at times and boring at others, and since I am a dull person who thrives in routine, I am happy they are over. Had a fun time mostly, but am suffering some post-holiday blues, and wish for life to return to normal.

However, I did make this lovely Spanikopita for the holidays, which turned out so well I had to take a picture of it. Found the recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. Though I’ve made it many times in the past, this was the best recipe, and also the prettiest. Yum!

_____

Still enjoying retirement, and will come back to write about it very soon. Holiday lethargy has set in, so I have to force myself to do the smallest things. But I’ll be back.

Happy New Year to you all, and thanks for reading!