Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Enchantment of Ragu

I've yet to make peace with the fact that in Minnesota the lilacs last one week - and it's a glorious week - unless you're allergic! The tulips last two weeks and the snow lasts 5-6 months. But if one must find a positive in the chilly, biting cold and blowing white precipitation - it has to be ragu. In my New York city life, ragu happened once a year. In Minnesota, ragu happens 4 times a year. In the case of ragu - 4 'ragus' trumps one ragu.
In Lynne Rossetto's Kasper's loving valentine to Italy's Emilia-Romagna's region, The Splendid Table, Rossetto Kasper writes of a furious debate that ensued after one of Italy's premiere gastronomic societies, L'Academia Italiana della Cucina posted an "official ragu sauce from Bologna." Many Bolognese were insulted that they were not consulted. The worth of using milk versus cream raged. Editorials were written about the inclusion of nutmeg. "It shouldn't be there!" versus "Of course it should!"
I was so enchanted with the notion of restaurants, homes, shops and cafes debating the issue of "an official Bolognese Ragu Sauce" that I included the arguments in my children's play The Bread, The Bracelet and the Dove (set in Bologna). On their own, many of my young performers researched the beginnings of Bolognese Ragu. Brought up in the Midwest, they were astonished to discover that ragu is not... not.... not a tomato sauce. You can use tomatoes (I do) but they are broken down and flavor and color the meat but definitely do not sauce it. The tomatoes enchant but do not smother.
Whether you use pork or a skirt steak or turkey sausage, milk or cream, add nutmeg or do without, this sauce dares winter to come into the kitchen. On a weekend, I will do a slow-simmering ragu - taking advantage of a free 3-4 hours. During the week, I make this quicker one which takes 75-90 minutes. (I said it was quicker - I didn't say it was quick.)

A ragu consists of chopped meats and sauteed vegetables cooked in a liquid (broth, wine or a combination). After simmering for hours, a little cream or milk would be added stretching yet another pasta dish into a rich, satisfying meal. It may have had humble beginnings but it earns a prize in creativity. It's ingenuous how peasant cooks took meat scraps and fashioned a luxurious meal. Feel free to substitute at will. Use all broth instead of wine. Mix up the meats. The recipe invites creativity, stirs debate and nourishes body and spirit.
Fettuccine with Ragu Ingredients (adapted from Tastes of Italia) - serves 6
1 pound fettuccine (cooked according to package directions or homemade)
6 ounces dried procini mushrooms
1 cup beef broth or red wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound Italian turkey sausage - crumbled (or Italian pork sausage or a skirt steak)
1/2 cup dry red wine (or more beef broth if you do not cook with wine)
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1-15 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (2 cups of fresh cherry or grape tomatoes could also be used - slice them in half)
1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/3-1/2 cup milk or half-and-half or cream
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for topping

Fettuccine with Ragu Preparation
  1. Soak the mushrooms in beef broth for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet, heat butter on medium heat. Ad the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage and brown it (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the wine, the mushrooms with broth, tomato paste and tomatoes. Mix well. Bring to a boil and then simmer for one hour - stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will break down, and as under an enchantment become one with the meat.
  5. Stir in the milk and nutmeg and simmer for ten minutes.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve passing Parmigiano-Reggiano separately.
I cannot tell you how much the idea of Italians contesting the worth of a recipe in the marketplace just tickles my fancy! If you like your recipes spiced with history and folklore, consider The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. The book also enchants and nourishes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cocoa Brownies in the Snow

You want these. I promise. Worth the calories, worth the "points," and an indulgence that is most welcome during the "endless winter of 2011."

For the record, the groundhog knows nothing. Do not listen to groundhogs. While Minnesota just jumped from the 5th snowiest recorded winter to the 3rd snowiest recorded winter, I have no interest in Minnesota breaking the record for snowiest winter ever. 3rd place is respectable. My plays have been in 3rd place and I was fine with that.

As my son house-sits one hour south of here with no way of getting home, I eased my winter worries with brownies. They're five points each and I had two. I enjoyed every second of the dark, moist fudgy interior surrounded by the browned-butter nutty exterior.
They're from Bon Appetit. The browned butter does indeed add the smallest amount of earthy crunch. The cocoa keeps the center oozing a tad and wrapping you in warm, chocolate velvet. No, they're not Italian. When the view outside my door is pure white, blowing in a schizophrenic array of contrasting directions, I cook and bake. My recipe decisions are made on the basis of, "What ingredients are at hand because I'm not going anywhere." Bon Appetit had nuts in the recipe. It's a daughter thing, but she requested no nuts and I complied. Do you think that the brownies had fewer points?
Look at the buttery-chew of the top and then the creamy-chocolate softness of the center. I'm telling you, you truly want them. Think of it as a chocolate hug.
Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter (and Walnuts if desired)
Bon Appetit's February 2011 Cover Recipe
Nonstick spray
1o tablespoons unsalted butter - cut into pieces
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process; I used Scharffen Berger which is an investment but worth the dollars as well as the calories)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs - chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose unbleached flour (I used all-purpose regular)
1 cup walnut pieces (didn't use)

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter Preparation
  1. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line 8x8x2 pan with foil and leave a 2-inch overhang for lifting the brownies out of the pan. Spray with nonstick spray.
  3. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking uintil butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan (about five minutes). Stir often.
  4. Remove from heat. Immediately add sugar, cocoa, the water, vanilla and salt (so have your ingredients measured and ready to fly). Stir to blend, Let cool five minutes (mixture will still be hot).
  5. At eggs one at a time to mixture beating vigorously (so you burn enough calories to eat these) in between each addition.
  6. When mixture is thick and shiny add the flour. Stir until blended. Then beat 60 strokes vigorously (remember: you're burning calories).
  7. If desired, stir in nuts.
  8. Pour into prepared pan.
  9. Bake brownies for 25 minutes - until toothpick inserted comes out more or less clean (crumbs may stick to it - that's fine - you want it fudgy).
  10. Cool for five minutes, then lift foil out of pan and cool completely on rack. Cut into 16 pieces and serve.
We added a dusting of confectioner's sugar which given our present white circumstances may have been overkill.
3 pounds gone last week. No doubt due to warming weather and ability to go for nice, long walks. Needless to say, that warming trend has abruptly ended. I am down 22 pounds and if I gained a pound by having 2 brownies, it was worth every ounce. My frazzled snow nerves were quieted. Although they will not be silenced until my son makes it home.
The question posed is what is your favorite kitchen tool for weight loss? I cannot credit a kitchen device for my determination to get fit, I can thank Parmigiano-Reggiano, "caged-free egg whites" and Greek yogurt for helping to make my 2011 journey a flavorful one.
And baking once a week to stave away any feelings of deprivation.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

CSN Winner and Hugs from Italy

We are in the midst of a snowstorm and had no internet in the a.m. but I am so pleased to finally be connected and to announce the winner of the $50 gift certificate from CSN. A few people twittered for me and visited my Facebook page and told me all in one comment - so I did go through and add in the number of comments for each, and assigned all numbers and without further verbage - congratulations to #8 from random.org - Sam from My Carolina Kitchen - I see an immersion blender in your future. Sam's blog is chock full of stunning dishes - many with a French twist - I hope you visit her. Thank-you CSN for providing me with such a lovely opportunity to give back to my readers.
I have one more giveaway coming up shortly - from me and from the heart. But meanwhile, have a slice of polenta cake with citrus glaze and I leave you with some Italian hugs. I dare you to not smile through the video! Hugs to you all.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Polenta Cake with Citrus Glaze

I bought a book for this cake. Specifically, Gina De Palma's Dolce Italiano. When I decide on a purhase of yet another cookbook, I randomly open it and see if I would cook the first recipe I see. This Polenta Cake with Citrus glaze was the random recipe and it became my new obsession.
I came late to polenta. My mother had "an unfortunate experience with polenta" in her life and refused to make it. It is one of the few Italian dishes I had to discover on my own. She has yet to confide me in me regarding her harrowing polenta experience but when I told her I was making a polenta cake for the family Valentine's Day Dinner she did assure me that she "got over it." And as she happily had her slice, I was relieved to see that she did.

On cue, the sun came out in approval of baking a bright, sun-shiney cake. Texture - it can make or break a dish. I had a long-lived aversion to cooked cauliflower because of texture. I adore shrimp but if it comes to me all mushy - I shudder. My daughter won't eat fresh tomatoes (sacrilege!) because of the texture. Do you have foods you avoid because of their texture? I confess, I was mesmerized by the anticipation of a coarse, citrus-studded cake. Oh - and I was enamoured by the glaze.

I made a lot of glaze. A LOT. And I poured in on. One might say I frosted the cake with the glaze. The cake is not sweet - almost has a quick-bread crumb to it. But all that citrus brightened our winter's eve.The polenta cake is equally good with your morning coffee or an evening glass of "spirits." If it had lasted until morning, I would have toasted it.

Polenta Cake Ingredients
1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (more for dusting the pan)
1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
3/4 cup instant or fine polenta
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups confectioner's sugar (and juices from zested fruit)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform plan and dust with flour.
  3. Grate the zests of the lemon, lime and orange and put in a small bowl.
  4. Set aside the fruits for the glaze.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment beat the eggs and sugar together on medium high speed until they are pale yellow and have tripled in volume 3-4 minutes. (You could also use electric hand beaters.)
  7. Beat in the zests.
  8. Alternate adding the dry mixture and the olive oil to the sugar-egg mixture. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then half the olive oil, the second-third of dry ingredients, last half of olive oil and last 1/3 of the dry. Beat only until each addition is incorprated. Scrape down the sides.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes (check at 20 minutes - this cake will dry out). Rotate it halfway during the baking time.
  10. The cake is done when it pulls away from the pan and springs back lightly when touched. Cool in pan 15 minutes, carefully remove sides of pan and let cool completely.

Gina has you sift 2 cups of the confectioner's sugar in a large bowl and squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice from each fruit and whisk until smooth. If dry, she suggests adding a little water - 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches the desired constency. And then of course you really should just drizzle the glaze over the cake. Much prettier.
I squeezed all the juices out of the citrus fruits, whisked them with the sugar, made the mistake of tasting it, squealed a happy squeak and then poured it on.

If desired: With a knife or spatula, carefully remove the bottom of the springform pan to move the cake onto a serving platter. You may also dust with confectioner's sugar (I didn't - I had already poured enough glaze on the hapless cake!)
Leftover cake can be wraped in plastic and kept at room temperature for the next day. Enjoy! And there's one more day to enter the CSN Give-away if you are so inclined. Details are here.
Have you noticed that since I have been "mindfully eating" for three months I have posted more posts about cake?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Link-love blog cooking

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you wonderful food bloggers. You have provided me with culinary delights for two years and I truly do cook from all of you. So, without further ado - below is a sampling of meals created by you, cooked by me and enjoyed by those who sit at my table.

Stacey Snacks did indeed wow the family with her Wow Roasted Cod on Peas and happily -it couldn't be easier. It made it's debut on my table last Friday and I am already being nagged about when we're having it this week! Cod topped with a little panko and placed on top of some dressed-up frozen peas (yes, frozen). You have to love a recipe that begins with: "Smack your pack of frozen peas on the counter."

And Stacey Snacks one more time her Winter Chicken Salad with Blood Oranges and Almonds. I craved a salad that could be hearty enough for the winter we're having. Dressed with jeweled blood oranges and oily marcona almonds, it was a nice alternative to all of my soups and stews.

Monet's Anecdotes and Apple Cores gave me the perfect wheat-honey rolls (she made hoagies) that were intended for sandwiches but were eaten with dinner instead. Happily they are so easy to make, another batch was made for their sandwiches.

Well-deserved simple comfort food from Ciao Chow Linda soothed the weary winter soul in all of us. The sausage and beans dish was a snap to make, warming to eat and will be made again and again before spring really arrives. Everyone needs a fast dish that's packed with flavor, nourishment and hugs.

My Carolina Kitchen provided me with heat, ease and fabulous flavors with Quick Spicy Turkey Chili flavored with Smoky Chipotles. This dish warmed all of us when the temps dipped to 16 degrees below zero F. The chili banished wind chill from our home and brought the hearth to the table.
And for those days when you want to come home to enticing aromas and a warm meal, What's Cookin' Italian Style provided me with a Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore recipe that put my seldom used crockpot to work. And allowed me the luxury of coming home to a home-cooked meal. This cacciatore used a lot of vegetables and that has been my winter mantra.
What to do these recipes have in common? Comfort - most decidedly. After all for most of us, this has been "the winter of our discontent." And ease. All of these dishes provided winter warmth with a minimum of fuss and mess which is necessary when you have a deadline.
And they all allowed me continue my resolution of "mindful eating." If you don't know these bloggers, I hope I have encouraged you to seek them out!

Ask the expert-week: As of two weeks ago, I had lost 10% of my body weight. My goal is 40 pounds and one good thing about Weight Watchers is I have not focused on the 40 pounds. I celebrated the five pound weight loss, the 10 pound, the 10% and in a week or so, the first 20 should be off. I have missed work-outs, eaten cake, created pasta dishes and have never deprived myself. On "off days" I say "oh well" and move on. Keep your eye on the prize and celebrate everything - especially the little things.
On this Happy Valentine's Day, I send you love - yes to you. And thanks. And practice gratitude for so many things including that you are in my life courtesy of the nourishing food-blogging world. Reminder: And remember, another thank-you in the form of a CSN $50 giveaway can be found here. There's still time to enter. Hearts to all of you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

CSN Give-Away for $50

CSN Stores has graciously offered a $50 gift certificate to one of my lucky readers. They have over 200+ online stores that sell just about anything you could want or need. Whether your looking for cookware, toys for your children, home improvement, shoes or home decor - CSN has it all and more. There's a huge array of items for under $50.

I am in-between bogaversaries. 3 years ago in March, I started a blog Tuscan Dreams (not public) which evolved into Journey of an Italian Cook (which just passed it's two year mark). With schizoid anniversaries, I have been thinking how to thank my readers for enriching my life and this is the first in a series. If I was receiving a $50 gift certificate, I might add to my white collection.

Or look to Mikasa for inspiration.

Or bring color into my winter life with a Le Creuset stockpot (an Italian cook always needs an extra stockpot). All can be had for under $50. What would you like? Let me know.
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment on my blog about what you might order should you win and follow me (you can always un-follow later - as a fairly intense person, I am surprisingly laid-back about playing the numbers game).
2. You can "share" the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and let me know how you shared for an additional entry.
3. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter for one more entry and let me know. Although my Facebook never updates (it oftens wishes people a Happy Thanksgiving which will work ... in a few more months) and if someone can tell me how to use Twitter properly, I would be appreciative. It seems to be more important for current events (getting the word out for Egypt for example - where it is important).
The giveaway* will close at midnight, February 19th and the winner will be chosen at random and announced Sunday, February 20th. And please make sure I can contact you.
*The Giveaway is only for the USA and Canada - so sorry my international friends.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Almond cake with chocolate glaze for winter magic

At first, this almond cake seems a humble cake. No curlicues, just a shower of melted chocolate over a dense, earthy cake. It is not spun sugar or light chiffon. This is not tiptoeing through the tulips. This is Scarlett O'Hara, digging up turnips vowing she will never be hungry again.

The chocolate caresses, it does not star. The almonds come center, Their scent permeates the cake. The chocolate may entice and bring you in. But it is the cake that makes you at home and begs you to stay.
Every culture has a nut cake. Just as we share variations of dumplings, breads and cheeses, so we have all devised ways to make nuts part of cookery and cuisine.

Cooking transcends boundaries. We all speak the same language when we devise ways to nurture and delight with cooking. Cooking has always been my time machine and personal jet. I wonder if cooking is also diplomacy.

The almond cake hails from Pescara in Abruzzo. It was a great favorite of the controversial and dramatic poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. It is said he ordered it regularly when at home and devised ways of having it sent to him when he was not in Pescara.

There are many versions of the cake - some use bitter almonds, some have chocolate throughout. This recipe comes from La Cucina: the Regional Cooking of Italy. It is a treasure trove of Italian recipes and their variations from region to region. It is my bedtime reading, my awakening of how Italian cooking developed - the realization that poverty created a cuisine. And that necessity brought forth art in cooking by focusing on what was available, local, fresh and if not always free, certainly cheap (and for most - free was better - Italians foraged.)

When you bite into the cake, you are taking a bite of the countryside. It's firmness is its strength. It's heartiness makes it a winter cake - perfect for the February days that continue under clouds with promises of wind and snow still to come.
I have come to the realization (which my family has known for years) that I am not a winter person. I welcome it for three weeks and then I am done. Unfortunately, winter is not. But the baking and serving of the cake made me feel as if I took at swipe at winter. That I warded it off as I folded stiff egg whites into the nutty dough.
Almond Cake Glazed with Chocolate Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup blanched almonds
  • 5 large eggs - separated
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch

Chocolate Glaze
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Almond Cake Glazed with Chocolate Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Butter a cake pan (about 9 inches by 1-2 inches).
  3. Sprinkle the almonds with 2 tablespoons from your 3/4 cup of sugar. Pulse them in a processor or use a mortar and pestle if you want a workout. Do not grind it into paste or flour. You want the nutty specks sprinkled throughout the cake.
  4. Melt the butter on the top of a double boiler.
  5. Add the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. Cook, stirring until thickened. (Be careful that the egg yolks do not curdle).
  6. Remove from heat and add in your nut mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Add the flour and cornstarch in increments and again - blend it in well. It will be very thick. And if you are like me and don't use corn starch very often, you may be surprised how easily it puffs into your face, onto the counter and all over your clothes. And covers the cat.
  8. Whip the egg whites until they are stiff and then fold them into the dough. At first it may seem that the dough will not incorporate it, but be persistent and bossy and the dough will succumb.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes.
  10. Cool for 5-10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely.
  11. When cake has cooled, melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler and pour over the center of the cake letting it ooze wherever it pleases.
  12. If you like, you can top with additional almonds. Cool and serve. Because this cake is thick, I store it covered and don't refrigerate it.
While winter rages out side, the almond cake keeps us cozy. There are no spices in the cake and it is the flavor from the almonds that begs for another forkful until it is gone.

It is the almonds that bring solace from the winter. It is the almonds that cast their spell and enchant the chill from your being. I was sturdier with every bite. I swear my balance improved.

It's crumbs are delicate and stalwart. A steel magnolia or an iron orchid.

Which bring me winter smiles.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Moonstruck Chocolate

July 1969 and a cast of odd-person-out, young characters converge on an urban park. It could be Central Park in New York City. It is in decay. Cities are broke. Woodstock is a few weeks away. A trio of young characters - out of sorts with the world - help themselves in unexpected ways. And when Apollo 11 lands on the moon, suddenly all things are possible.
It's the setting of the play Under a Midsummer Moon. The end of the play is set in stone. Scene 1 has been deleted four times. I've been listening to the original Broadway cast of Hair non-stop. And still know most of the lyrics. (And I remember turning the record player volume to low so my parents wouldn't hear the lyrics. - So wicked.) I usually don't write with the last scene written first. But the muse seems to have dictated this and so I leave my comfort zone.
I usually don't make vegan cakes (let's see - it's not Italian, I don't bake a lot and vegan eating is a new horizon for me), but allergies begged for this and so I did (with a lot of help from Bon Appetit.) In the midst of my"mindfully eating year," I discovered I could have my cake and eat it, too - as could my very young nephew and niece who cannot have dairy or eggs. And who can resist a chocolate cake in the midst of the winter-that-does-not-end. Chocolate for solace and orange for brightness and light. (I know, I stretched it a bit tying in the moon play with vegan chocolate cake - are you smiling?)

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Orange Frosting from Bon Appetit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour* (I used whole wheat regular flour with good results)
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) vegan "butter" (such as Earth Balance) or margarine, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Large pinch of salt
1/4 cup light agave nectar (I used regular agave syrup)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Sift all purpose flour, sugar, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add 3/4 cup water, oil, juice concentrate, vanilla, and vinegar and whisk to blend. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack. Carefully cut around pan sides and turn out cake onto serving platter.
Place chopped bittersweet chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Carefully transfer bowl to work surface. Cool melted chocolate to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.
Using electric mixer, beat "butter" in large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon juice concentrate, vanilla, and salt; beat until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons juice concentrate; beat until blended. Beat in agave nectar, then chocolate. Let stand 10 minutes. Frost top and sides of cake.
DO AHEAD Cake can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.
It's a very good chocolate cake - did it "make me see happy stars?" No - but that's usually reserved for cannoli. And the orange-chocolate ganache is worth the bake.
(Bear with me: publishers like authors to do PR and I remain very grateful to all my publishers - they are why I can finally stay home and write!)
Although I have complained bitterly about January, the truth is, it has been very good to me. The Fisherman and His Wife was published by Playscripts.

My very beloved Hanging of the Greens (the cast remains close two years later) will be published by YouthPLAYS. (All photos below from Joan Elwell, Lakeshore Players.)

And In the Village of the Brothers Grimm was recently published by YouthPLAYS.

Meanwhile an update on Harold (who Mister Meatball says is 238 years old in computer years): We were limping along. He was wiped clean (sorry, Harold) but keeps coughing up Microsoft Word which is not good. As most theatres and publishers only accept Word. No Mac - yet. No impulsive decisions. Until the laptop crashes. And yes, of course I have a strong anti-virus program. But it's like the flu shot. My husband got a flu shot. My husband got the flu. I didn't get a flu shot. I didn't get the flu (yet.)
The endless winter has contrived to keep me inside. The outside does not beckon. But I have figured out exercise even when housebound so that has been a positive. And when January left, so did five more pounds. I am one pound away from having lost 10% of my body weight. And do you know what I do? I go to the grocers and look at all of these 1 pound-butter cartons and imagine them back on my body and my resolve gets stronger. 2011 is shaping up to be a delicious year. When you can have chocolate cake and still lose weight, you know the heavens are smiling. I won't even complain about the snow. Well, maybe in April....