Tag Archives: boomer bloggers

A Morning Quickie

A couple of days ago, our two-year-old grandson had a meltdown on the first day of preschool when he was told there would be no goats in his classroom.  I’m not sure why he expected to see goats – because they’re kids? (ba-dum-bum!) – but it put me in the mood to bake one of my favorite easy breakfasts.

These savory muffins take about half an hour start to finish, and make a great grab-and-go treat. Add the grilled onions if you’re not going to breathe on anyone! (I was out of onions when I made this last batch, so I used onion powder instead.)

Goat Cheese Muffins

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease a 12-cup muffin pan (or spray with Baker’s Joy)
  • Slice one onion thinly and fry in a little olive oil until lightly browned*.  Set aside.
  • Combine:
    • 1+ 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2-4 ounces goat cheese
    • Fresh rosemary, chopped, 1-2 tsp (For dried, crumble into small pieces and use ½ tsp)
  • Mix separately:
    • 1 egg
    • 1.5 cup milk
    •  3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix as little as possible to combine.
  • Pour into muffin tin, filling the cups almost full. This usually makes 11 medium-size muffins (pour a little water in the empty cup) or 24 mini muffins.
  • Top each cup with a few strings of the grilled onions.
  • Bake about 25 minutes until just golden. Use a toothpick or skewer to test that they are done but don’t overcook them; they should be tender.

*Alt: Add 1/8 tsp onion powder to dry ingredients.

This Bud’s For You

Now that it’s legal to buy marijuana in Oregon, my husband and I decided to travel down memory lane and check it out. Neither of us was ever a serious pothead but we did indulge from time to time, as did most kids of our generation. We’d been hearing that today’s weed is different from the ditch weed we used to smoke but we had no idea how different.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s the leaves were considered the good stuff; the seeds were basically garbage. Now the buds are what you want; go figure. It feels very strange to buy dope legitimately instead of a furtive deal through a “friend of a friend of a friend”. Turns out, there are five cannabis dispensaries here in Newport, as compared to only one liquor store. The times, they are clearly a’changing!

We settle on the Oregon Coast Dispensary for our maiden voyage – the name OCD seems appropriate – and walk into the tiny storefront feeling every minute of our advanced ages.

OCD

Entering the reception area, we’re met by Justin, a young man who looks about twelve. Before we can enter the sanctum sanctorum to score our weed, Justin has to check our drivers’ licenses. To his credit, he doesn’t fall over laughing when he sees how old we are.

Maybe he thinks we’re hip oldsters! That illusion is quickly punctured when my husband cheerily announces that the last time he smoked weed was in 1978. Justin tells us that’s before he was born. Ouch.

I have marginally more street cred, having last smoked in the early aughts with a guy who had taken me to lunch as part of a job interview and suggested a joint as dessert. (What could I do, turn it down?) I did get the offer, although the job ultimately fell through and my interviewer apparently left the country shortly afterwards in mysterious circumstances. “Under a cloud” was the only explanation I was ever given. I still wonder.

Anyway. Despite our obvious newbie status, we are allowed in the back room. Now the education begins. When I was in college, you bought (or were given) a baggie of weed, got some rolling papers and got stoned. Pretty straightforward.

Whoa – the choices are mind-boggling, and the dope we considered top shelf back then is now bottom of the barrel. Justin gently steers us away from the really powerful stuff; he’s obviously got our number by now.

Some get you giddy and giggly like the old days, munchies and all. Other types are supposed to mellow you out and help you sleep. Still others are for pain management. Some give you a “head” high; others a “body” high. Very confusing, and I’m not even stoned! All menu options are listed on a chart, classified by the amount of various chemicals (THC, CBD) and function. Justin makes lots of enthusiastic suggestions and opens jars for me to sniff.

They all smell like dirt. This, at least, is familiar.

We finally settle on two types that are suitable for beginners; i.e., we will not think we can fly, jump off the back deck and crack our skulls on our neighbors’ patio. We get a gram of Shark Shock, which is supposed to be good for back pain and other old-people ailments, and a gram of Purple Hindu Kush, for nighttime relaxation. Not sure why this is better than single-malt scotch but hey, when in Rome….

Next important decision: how to actually smoke the stuff. Apparently the done thing is to use a pipe. There are little ones that look dangerous – you could singe your eyebrows while lighting up – medium-sized ones, and some large glass pipes.

My husband, Mr. Cool, rejects the biggest one, offering the observation that the large pale pink glass pipe looks like a dildo. Great… just in case we didn’t look like total amateurs….

Transactions completed (cash only!), we stumble out into the bright sunlight with our drugs safely stashed in my purse and our dignity in tatters. It’s perfectly legal to carry less than an ounce but it still feels like the fuzz are going to pull us over at any moment. Strangely thrilling.

THE EXPERIMENT

weed

Night One. Back home, we wait for sunset to light up and choose the Purple Hindu Kush nighttime option. Our medium-sized pipe is hard to light and inhale without dropping bits of our stash all over the porch. (I knew we should have gone with the dildo!)

After fumbling around, coughing and blowing the flames out by mistake, we finally manage a slight buzz. It’s very pleasant – but it sure is a lot more work than pouring something out of a decanter.

Night Two. Our lungs are a little raw but we bravely soldier on in the name of science and smoke some Shark Shock. The next morning my husband says his back doesn’t ache as much as usual. I’m not sure I notice much of a difference.

After further discussion and analysis, we agree that we detest smoking and would rather not charcoal broil our lungs. So now what? Aha – we’ll cook with it!

A little Internet research reveals that our best option is to make something called cannabutter, which we can then put on toast or whatever. First hurdle: all the recipes call for an ounce of weed/a pound of butter. An ounce is 28 grams; we only have 2g.

All is not lost. I find a recipe that uses 2 ounces/2 tablespoons of butter, which I double, under the theory that you can never have too much butter.

Step One: Put the weed on a pan and dry it in the oven at low temp for about an hour. Now our house smells like my college dorm.

Step Two: Boil up some water in a pot, add the butter, add the dried-out dope and let it simmer for another hour. Now the whole neighborhood smells like my dorm.

Step Three: Put the pot-in-a-pot into the fridge to cool. Peel off the butter and store until ready for use.

I think I’m getting a slight high from handling and breathing this in. Or maybe it’s the power of suggestion. Either way, I spend the rest of the day in a vaguely lazy, Sunday-afternoon kind of fog.

A Few Days Later:  Time to test this as an ingestible.  We toast up some sourdough bread, spread a small amount of cannabutter on it, and wait to see what happens. Other than tasting like lawn clippings, the result is subtle, though I do sleep soundly.

Next time, I use a little more of the doctored butter.  Again, only a mild effect. I may not have made it correctly but, to be honest, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

Conclusion: Without the whole counterculture/In A Gadda Da Vida/“Is Paul Dead?” overlay, the experience is more suburban than subversive. Which begs the question, why isn’t this legal everywhere?

Long story short, I’m sticking with Bunnahabhain or a glass of port for the rest of my Summer of Love.

Anyone want a nearly new pipe??

Shopping As an Olympic Event

I’ve often wondered why shopping is not considered a legitimate sport. After all, it requires endurance, body contact, focusing on a goal, keeping score and comfortable shoes. Am I right?

In honor of the summer games, and for future consideration by the Olympic Committee, I’d like to propose the following events. On your mark, get set, shop!

 

100-Yard Dash to the Sale Section: Qualifier.

Rugby: How many 8 x 10 carpets can you get the salesman to show you before one of you loses patience?

Boxing: How quickly can you convince the wrapping department in Bloomingdales that you deserve free gift wrap? (World record: 49 seconds)

Dressage: You have 20 minutes to find the perfect cocktail frock for your cousin’s wedding. No black dresses allowed. Go!

Football: Find three pairs of 5” stilettos that don’t kill the bottoms of your feet. Finals: dance in them for one hour. Fewest Band-Aids wins.

Pole Vault: Jump over a line of bulimic women to get to the bathroom first.

Diving: The designer scarf you want is at the bottom of the bin. How quickly can you find it with a minimum of bruises from other bargain hunters?

Decathlon: Race through a department store from underwear to tops to pants to belts to shoes. First person to assemble an entire outfit scores lunch.

Doubles: You hunt for her size; she hunts for yours.

Freestyle: What we all look like when nobody’s watching. Win gold for not wearing sweat pants.

Designer Wrestling: There’s only one Prada bag at 60% off. Snag it and hang on for dear life no matter how fierce your opponent. Extra points awarded if bag is not damaged.

Weight Lifting: Carry your weight in shopping bags from one end of the mall to the other. Repeat twice.

Please add your own suggestions in the comments below. Let the games begin!

Shopping As an Act of Optimism

It’s sale season, and that means each time I sit down at my computer I’m bombarded by urgent messages to take advantage of every markdown.

Buy now! Going fast! Last chance!

As I was feeling vaguely annoyed by all the hysteria, it occurred to me that shopping is a profound act of faith. One that has nothing to do with the economy.

Please bear with me.

We buy last season’s markdowns in the belief that we’ll be around to wear them next year.

We buy for the person or size we aspire to be.

We buy for the happy occasion in our future that we plan to attend.

We buy maternity clothes much too early; shoes that await a dinner invitation; the house where we hope to grow old.

Whether we’re shopping for something big or small – the car we plan to keep until it hits 50,000 miles or the coat we buy in October when it won’t be cold until January – it’s with an unspoken confidence that we’ll remain in good health long enough to enjoy it.

Call it our bargain with the universe.

On a rational level, we know we can’t always control our future. But isn’t there something wonderfully hopeful about acting as though we can?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend of a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I don’t really know her or what she’s going through but I imagine she’s a lot more focused on actual therapy than on retail therapy.

Still, along with doctor visits, chemo, radiation and all the serious things she has to worry about, I wish she’d do a little shopping.

Not because she necessarily needs a new dress or sexy sandals right this minute. But because I’m optimistic that she’ll be wearing those summer splurges next year, and the summer after that.

And I hope she is, too.

That’s what “shoptimism” is all about.

You Say Zucchini Flower, I Say Squash Blossom

After the excitement of the season’s first tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries, the big draw for me at the local farmers’ market is the arrival of squash blossoms. They begin showing up in late June but the crop is small so you may have to arrive early to snag some. Be bold and elbow people out of the way if you must. (My husband was elbowed out of some early tomatoes last month; it’s payback time.)

I’d never eaten squash blossoms (or zucchini flowers — they seem to be interchangeable terms) until I had them on a trip to Rome a couple of years ago. What a revelation! I waited impatiently for the summer markets (the flowers are much too delicate to ship to a grocery store), looked up some recipes and — voilà/eureka/holy swearword! — discovered that they are super easy to recreate, minus the cute Italian waiter.

A quick Internet search revealed that squash plants have both male and female flowers, which (natch) are pollinated by bees. There are many more male squash blossoms than female and they’re the first to bloom, so that’s probably what’s at your local produce stand.

I won’t lie, the preparation is a bit time-consuming, but they are absolutely worth it!

First, snip off the stem and twist off the stamen – that fuzzy little penis-like thing in the center. Ladies, think of that creep who done you wrong and this won’t seem nearly as tedious! Gents, stop squirming… didn’t you have a horrible boss you can fantasize about? See?… fun!

IMG_1282

Incidentally, the stamen (or pistil in female plants) is apparently edible, but that’s a whole new level of weird.

Moving on…

Gently rinse the blossoms and set them down on a paper towel to dry.

While you’re waiting, cut some fresh mozzarella and anchovies into small pieces.

IMG_1288

If you think you don’t like anchovies I implore you to try them just this once. They will melt into the cheese and add a briny saltiness that will bring tears to your eyes.

Stuff the inside of each blossom (very gently, so you don’t tear the petals – but don’t worry if you do) with one piece of each, and twist the petals together to keep the cheese and anchovy inside. If you’ve ripped any petals, the twisting action will cover everything up and keep them together.

Next, make your batter. The following proportions should coat about 10-20 blossoms, depending on their size and whether or not you thin the batter, as I do. Dump whatever you don’t use.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup cold sparkling water or seltzer
  • Grapeseed (or other vegetable) oil for frying

Directions

  • Stir flour and salt together in a small bowl. Add the egg, sparking water and olive oil and whisk until blended. Add more seltzer if the batter is too thick.
  • In a heavy pan, pour in grapeseed oil to about 1″ depth and heat until a drop of batter sizzles when it’s dropped into the pan.
  • Dip the flowers into the batter, let the excess drip off, and put into the pan of hot oil, a few at a time. Fry until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes.
  • Drain on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle with coarse salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Serve with lemon wedges. Devour.

 

Bullies, Then and Now

I’d already started writing this when a wonderful blog landed in my Inbox. I’d been thinking about the ways life keeps tossing bullies in our path – just when we’re beginning to believe we’ve outgrown the past. Clearly, I’m not alone.

Back in 7th grade, I was frequently tormented by the mean and massive football player who sat next to me in Homeroom. I was shy, bookish and definitely not cool, having parents who eschewed everything that was considered fashionable in the 1960’s.

In junior high on Long Island, you had to have Pappagallos, low-cut flats that came in a rainbow of colors, were worn by all the popular girls, and that I was not allowed to wear because, according to my mother, they didn’t give my feet enough “support”. Instead I was doomed to clunky Mary Janes, which prompted endless witticisms from “Football Fred” ridiculing my old-lady clodhoppers.

Adding to my not-coolness was not being allowed to shave my legs. Having sparse, white-blond body hair I thought I could get away with this, but Fred never missed an opportunity to drop a pencil or notebook under my desk and retrieve it with a snarky whisper about my “spider legs”.

Happily, life goes on and we all grow up. Sort of. Because at my first job, I discovered a new species: the work bully.

My first boss, “Andy”, was an affable ex-military guy whose management style was a type of hazing designed to toughen me up. Although Andy wasn’t overtly insulting, he often withheld information that could make my job easier or more efficient. This resulted in a colossal waste of time and energy that, more than once, reduced me to tears of fury in the ladies’ room.

One of my early tasks as a junior art director was to recommend which artists we should contact for a particular job. I had no idea how to begin looking, and there was no Internet with which to research this. I asked Andy for direction and he told me to go figure it out. I suggested that if he’d simply tell me where the information was I’d never have to ask him a second time, but he walked away.

Hours later, I discovered that Andy already had files of cards from all the artists’ representatives, neatly catalogued by style from realistic to cartoon. He must have thought sending me on a wild goose chase would build character. Instead, it built resentment. We did, in the end, become good friends—once I was no longer working for him.

I next crossed swords with a burly, perpetually scowling television producer I’ll call Phil, who refused to partner with me on a commercial because I was too “junior”– never mind that it was one I’d written and it was therefore my responsibility to follow through.

Phil insisted he’d only work with my boss. After running up and down the stairs multiple times to relay this to my supervisor, who kept sending me back to negotiate further, I finally closed the door (hard!) to Phil’s office and said, “Look, I don’t want to work with you any more than you want to work with me, but we have a job to do so let’s get on with it.”

I never had trouble with him again – and I learned the important lesson that the only way to get someone to stop bullying you is to stand up to him or her and show them they don’t intimidate you. Even if you’re in your twenties.

I wish I could say that those were the only bullies I ever encountered. One of the worst was a poisonous co-worker at my last agency job. She ruled her stable of sycophants not by fear or obvious intimidation – she appeared to be friendly and fun – but by creating a merciless clique of who was “in” and who was frozen out. You could get on her s***list in a nanosecond for politely declining to drink on the job, as she did every afternoon beginning at 4 pm. Those who were “out” were viciously gossiped about, maligned to senior management and made so miserable that, years later, they still shudder when they hear her name.

Bullies, of course, reside in everyday life outside of work, too. There’s the woman who makes some guy’s life hell when he tries to end a relationship. The receptionist who won’t let you speak to your doctor. The guy in the Homeowners’ Association who insists you can’t replace so much as a doorknob without his permission. And the supermom at the PTO who tries to guilt you into doing her bidding by making you feel like a bad parent just because you have a full-time job.

Moral: Life is eternally 7th grade. But now you have the tools—wisdom, kindness, a good lawyer on speed dial—to fight back. And sometimes, growing up really is the best revenge.

Diary of a Photo Facial

If time has etched its passage with dark spots, broken capillaries and other evidence of sun damage, you may want to consider having a photo facial at your dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office. I’ve been going every six months for a couple of years and, while it’s not what anyone would call a relaxing spa treatment, it’s definitely effective.

There are several different types of machines; each delivers targeted heat and light to pigmented areas. Stephanie, my esthetician, explained that her office uses BBL (Broad Band Light, made by Siton) because it provides a full range of options for true customization. Many other machines are pre-set, making them somewhat more limited.

Photo facials target the pigment in the skin to lighten areas of damage. The combination of light and heat also strengthens and builds collagen, the main protein in your body that supports your skin and diminishes over time.

Different skin colors require different treatment, and in fact African American skin, which obviously has the most pigment, would burn if subjected to pulsed light. The darker your skin, the more conservative your facialist will be with the setting. Pale and freckled skin like mine can tolerate the strongest heat and often has the most visible results because the initial contrast is so noticeable.

Make sure to discontinue the use of retinol a week before treatment, as it will make your skin overly sensitive. You may also want to stop using glycolic acid, although that’s less of an issue. I also recommend taking acetaminophen before your session.

Here’s what happens:

  1. Stephanie takes a “before” photo with all my spots on display. Depressing!
  2. I lie down on the padded bench and tuck in my shirt collar since she’s going to zap my neck and chest. (Your derm might have you take off your top and cover you with a towel.)
  3. After cleansing my skin to remove all traces of sunblock, moisturizer etc., she puts eyeshades on my eyes to protect them from the intense light.
  4. She then spreads ultrasound gel (cold and thick) on the areas to be treated. The gel acts as both a heat conductor and protector against burning.
  5. YOWZA!! Stephanie carefully, thoroughly and painfully zaps each spot with a pinprick of bright light. Some people describe it as like a rubber band snapping against your skin. I won’t lie… it hurts, though some places are less sensitive than others and the sensation lasts a fraction of a second. Again, depending on your skin tone and texture, it might not be as uncomfortable for you as it is for me. For instance, it doesn’t hurt much on my chest or hands.

When the session is done, Stephanie wipes off the ultrasound gook and lightly spreads on a soothing lotion. My face is a bit red and swollen, so I pop some oral arnica tablets and apply arnica lotion when I get home (make sure you don’t go near your eyes since the fumes are strong.) When more heat is used, the more swelling you can expect; it will subside after a few days at the most. Cool compresses help too.

Spots are darker immediately after treatment, but you can easily cover them with makeup. The first time I did this I was noticeably blotchy, especially on my hands; with regular sessions it’s not nearly as obvious. Don’t expect to see results for at least three or four weeks. The dark spots will crust over and fall off on their own. Meanwhile, be extra vigilant about using a broad-spectrum sunblock (at least 30 SPF)– which you already know you should do anyway, right?

By the way, pulsed light doesn’t go deeper than the top layer of skin, so it will not affect fillers or other deep-layer injectables.

Don’t expect miracles and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how nice you look with fewer of those nasty age spots!