Monday, February 21, 2011

Almond Toffee Brickle Recipe

40 Saltine crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
12 oz bag of chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Preheat over to 400˚ and cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with tin foil. Place crackers on the sheet, covering the entire area without overlapping.

Melt butter in a sauce pan and add sugar. Bring to a rolling boil and stir for exactly 3 minutes. Pour over the crackers and distribute evenly with a spoon. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and place in the over for 3 minutes (just enough to melt the chocolate).

Spread chocolate with a spoon and sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Sharing Healthy Recipes

Me, my mom, and my sister Katie after completing FWSW half marathon!
When my mother was married to my father she would claim that she didn't like to sweat, and by the time she was 45, my mom's weight was so out of control she had gastric bypass surgery. We all thought her head would explode. Weighing more than 300 pounds, she could run circles around her teenage kids. What would happen when she would shed 150 pounds?

She achieved this by the time I was attending freshmen orientation at Ball State University. Now standing in front of a room crowded with my classmates, all of whom had the taste of parental freedom on their lips, she had convinced the orientation leaders to let her lead a cheer.

I say Ball! You say State! Ball! State!
I say red! You say white! Red! White!
Ball! State! Red! White! Ball! State! Red! White!

Almond toffee brickle: AKA
an excavation site.
This was my mother. Running circles in front of 250 teenagers in size 10 jeans. I couldn't have been more pleased.

Although at this time she was in control of her weight, it was a lifelong battle. My mom became a participant of Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner (FWSW). Learn more on their facebook page or webpage. FWSW is headed by a one-two punch couple, Tina and Rick Walters, who are devoted to promoting healthy lifestyles. The FWSW program selects members of the community who are committed to losing weight and health improvement. At the time of her participation, my mom welcomed other members to her house to cook healthy recipes.

Brown rice pizza, vegetarian on
left and vegan on right.
Today I realized that I've been contributing to this blog since October and have yet to post any of her recipes! Where have I been? I've posted some of my mother's "healthy" recipes. Check the list to the right to see these and other additions.

For dinner tonight, I made brown rice pizza (vegan and vegetarian) and almond toffee brickle. Aunt Mary and I enjoyed dinner together and I am glad to learn that I cook like a Case family member--always enough for 10 people.

Brown Rice Pizza Recipe

3 cups of cooked brown rice
1 cup of grated fresh mozzarella
1/2 c seeds (sesame, poppy, etc)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
sea salt

tomato sauce
assorted veggies, lightly steamed or sauteed
blue cheese, mozzarella, parmesan

sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 400˚. Combine all crusts ingredients in a large bowl. Pat into a pizza shape onto a lightly greased 12" round pan. Sprinkle with seal salt. Bkae for 25 minutes. Spread tomato sauce, veggies, grated cheese and herbs on top of crust. Season with dry herbs, black pepper, and sea salt. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve.

Silk Breakfast Bar Recipe

Makes 16-20 bars
1 tbsp canola oil or butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, dried cherries, cranberries, etc.)
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/3 cup Silk Plain or Unsweetened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup dates, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 ° F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with canola or butter or line pan with buttered parchment paper.

On a baking sheet, toast the nuts, coconut and oats in the oven for 10 minutes. Once toasted, pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl along with the rice cereal and dried fruit and toss to combine. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the Silk, honey, brown sugar, dates, salt and vanilla. Stir continuously until mixture begins to thicken and large bubbles start to form, about 7-8 minutes. Pour syrup over oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spread into prepared pan and press down firmly. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cool, cut into squares.  Wrap each bar separately in plastic wrap or waxed paper and store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
Nutrition Facts 
(per bar for using canola oil and Silk Plain)
300 calories
6g protein
39g carbohydrate
15g fat (45% calories from fat, 4g saturated fat)
0mg cholesterol
95mg sodium
5g fiber

Energy Balls Recipe

1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter made with ONLY peanuts
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
11/2 cups crispy oats or flax meal (for omega-3s)
1/2 cup raisins or 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can help maintain cardiovascular health.

Roll up into bite-sized balls and refrigerate for at least an hour before eating. Important to remember that you should be eating no more than 1 or 2 energy balls per day (and only before your workout.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gotta fever

Last week would have been the week where I would have called my mother and delivered the worst joke on record.

Me: Mom, I am really having an issue here. I feel a little funny. I think maybe I should see a doctor.

Mom: What do you mean?

Me: I don't feel quite right, and it started just yesterday.

Mom: Really? What's wrong exactly?


I would do this at college during my freshmen year after I'd spent the afternoon goofing off with the rugby team. I'd make this phone call after I'd gotten ahold of my coursework my sophomore year. I'd deliver this joke at the end of my junior year, when I felt overwhelmed by extracurriculars, but saw the end of the academic year approaching. When I'd taken my first career job, I'd call her as I sat outside for the first time after winter to enjoy my lunch. I wanted to share this joke with her last week as I rode around DC on my bike, stopping to peer up into the sun at Ulysses's face. I would have called her as I stood in front of the capital building, looking the length of the mall, and delivered this awful joke.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why are Canadians blamed for everything?

by Cici Case

I think it has to do with the Canadian money. Every once in a while, I receive a Canadian coin in my change. I don't know how this happens as it is easy to tell the difference between a Canadian coin and a US coin. However, it is never noticed until I have an urgent craving for chocolate and only enough change for one measly 60 cent chocolate bar. I gather my coins and make my way to the vending machines. As the coins drop, I am almost savoring the sweet chocolate, until I detect that pathetic "dink" that signals the machine is not accepting one of the coins. Thinking I will be luckier next time, I retrieve the discarded coin from the change dispenser, eager to retry my efforts. Regrettably, I notice it is a Canadian coin. No way will that Canadian coin pass as a U.S coin, not even by this coinage machine's most rudimentary security device. Hence, I have no choice but to return to my desk, deflated and with my most basic and urgent craving left not satiated. What's that you say? "Just ask your neighbor for an exchange. Ask to trade for a new coin." Alas, that ploy will not work, as the eyes of my colleagues, trained and professional skeptics will surely detect the presence of the impostor coin and their friendliness could not overcome their distain for the dreaded pretender. I suppose I will simply have to wait to pass off this Canadian coin to some other unsuspecting dupe in some later financial transaction.

On the other hand, I could save up these pretend coins and mail them periodically to my Canadian friends. Only then could I redeem my soul from my periodic and unkind thoughts of blaming Canada!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Musings of an 81-year-old woman

These are her figurines
on the back porch.
Musings may not be the right word. It implies thoughtfulness, introspection, and silence. Most likely even a little wisdom. This established woman should be someone who is refined and after living all those years fully understands the purpose of pantyhose. In fact, that title is all wrong in describing the messages gleaned from boarding with Rosemary for 6 months, but it sounds appropriate on the surface and it seems like the correct type of summation given to the facts that will be shared here. As you read these, I believe you will begin to understand how incongruous those words really are all the while appreciating that was the best I could muster. Rosemary is a kind person who always told me she loved me, and we kept each other's spirits up. I don't mean to belittle her lifestyle. I use this title because I want to give her the dignity that should be awarded to someone so passionate and welcoming to a young stranger. So here I share with you her principals and mantras.

1. Sometimes, you need a good margarita. Plain and simple. If she were British and wore an ascot she might have stressed that there was nothing a good cup of tea couldn't fix. Rosemary was an American from the Midwest and of the generation where all Latin and South American people blended to be come "immigrants" and they all made delicious margaritas. Although I recognize the danger in indulging regularly, Rosemary and I spent many Sunday afternoons with one burrito and one small margarita each.

My favorite Margarita memory was the day her beau Bill was getting her down. She sat at her kitchen table with her shoulders slumped as she chewed on a hot roll, waving her crooked fingers in front of her chest and complaining because he didn't want to come over for a visit. Crumbs collected in the corners of her mouth, and her eyes focused on the wall. "I'm sick of driving all the way across town to see him, " she sniffled. "He should be giving me gas money! It's just too cold to drive that far." I sat across the kitchen table but I didn't know how to console her. What the hell could a 23-year-old girl offer someone more than three times her age? I certainly didn't have a handle on my love life. When Rosemary had exhausted every frustrated one-liner, I suggested we go for a margarita and her shoulders turned towards me. "Today?" she squeaked out. I nodded. With the support of a new found friend, she dabbed her eyes and wiped away the crumbs from her face. "It's best I don't worry about Bill anyway. We're on the outs." It was then that I noticed that her shirt was inside out.

2. Pronunciation isn't important. When I would tell Rosemary the name of an acquaintance or family member, she would squint her eyes as if minimizing one sense would maximize another. "Whatsis last name? Chase?" For the first week of knowing her, she referred to our mutual friend (her neighbor of 15 years) as Sherie. Her name is Sheryl. Not a bad offense, I recognize. I grew up in a house where I was Katie-Maggie. However, for the first 4 months of knowing her, I thought her great-grandson's name was Talon (yes, like on birds of prey). At Easter I met Rosemary's daughter, two granddaughters and the first great-grandson--whose name is Tylan.

Most commonly she would walk around the house in her nightgown, usually with a wedgie, and say, "Where's my cellar phone?" CELLAR PHONE. No, she wasn't searching for her phone kept in the basement. Her ranch-style house had no sub-levels.
Those darn geese. This is Rosmary's
neighborhood, and as you can see,
the geese are shitting everywhere.

3. Dogs do understand, even if they pretend not to. Rosemary had a senile dog named Corky, who was some sort of terrier, and he had a very round belly. For breakfast she would enjoy a few pieces of bacon, homemade applesauce and a sticky bun. As she sat at the table, she'd watch to ensure Corky stayed in the kitchen with his dog food. When he would slink out and make his way to my door, she'd shout, "Corky! Eat your dinner!" After his third attempt of evasion, I'd hear Rosemary threaten, "Here have a piece of bacon. Now get over here or I'll spank you!"

Rosemary's house was in a development surrounding a man-made pond. Every spring those darn geese would trample her lawn and shit everywhere. For an hour after breakfast she'd wander around the small yard and collect the excrement. When the geese would be back after lunch, Rosemary would stand in the doorway and Corky would cower on the porch. "You stupid geese! I just cleaned up after you! Corky, get those geese! Chase them away!" Of course, Corky could hardly see due to his cataracts and didn't move a muscle.

4. Travel is important. Rosemary hadn't been outside the U.S. but she had been to Alaska to visit her niece. When I'd tell her of the time I dissected a snake in South Africa, her eyes would get big and she'd shake her head in disbelief. Then she'd tell me about the boat trip her and her niece took to explore the creatures of the sea. She lean forward and say, "I saw some sort of thing with two tentacles 20 feet long! What's that type of animal? Yeah, a squib. It disappeared under the boat. Never did figure out what it was." Then I'd tell her about the aquarium in Okinawa, Japan, and how incredibly beautiful it was. "Las Vegas is beautiful!" If I ever go to Vegas, I hope it's with Rosemary. Her second marriage happened there and her form of entertainment was just walking up and down the strip looking at all the ridiculous hotels and crazy costumes. I think we would have a ball.

5. You have a great mom. You should love her. There is no arguing that and I don't have a witty anecdote to go with this. I recall when the two women met, and my mom pursed her lips out and raised her eyebrows listening to Rosemary. That was her listening or entertained face. Once a week Rosemary would ask me how my mom was doing and in every subsequent phone call since I moved out, Rosemary's first question was about her.

I had a great mom. I still love her. When I moved in with Rosemary, I did so because I needed a cheap place to stay that was near my new job. My mother told me she was proud of me and I thought she was nuts. She was proud that I was starting my career and making good decisions. Last month, when I quit my job I had dream she was yelling at me for not wearing a bar. She was always silently stifling my need to feel free and embrace my feminism by doing things like stuff my stocking with make-up. At my cousin Jesse's wedding in Wisconsin a few years ago, I was required to go to a luncheon while all the men went hiking. She wasn't making this an option and I blurted out, "Don't define me by my vagina!" Needless to say, it was awkward for everyone on the elevator. In the end, I went to the luncheon and had a really great time.

I don't think she would have approved wholeheartedly of the career decisions that I've made recently. I do think, however, that she would appreciate that I need to make decisions to be in control of my life. I will certainly (and do so every day) incorporate the lessons she taught me but I have to re-learn how it is to be an adult and honor someone you have lost without losing yourself.