Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Tortellini

If you receive a bounty of vegetables from a friend's garden, like I did on Sunday, try this recipe.

1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 bunch kale
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 pkg frozen cheese tortellini
fresh herbs to taste (I like thyme)
olive oil
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Slice zucchini and squash and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
While the squash cooks, cut the kale into ribbons and add it to the pan. Stir it well, reduce heat, and clap a lid on the pan for about five minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and add to the vegetables. Season to taste.
Cut tomatoes in halves or slices and toss with pasta and vegetables. Drizzle with more olive oil, if you like, and serve with iced tea.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweets, and keeping one's seams straight

My friend and coworker, the Fabulous Babs, says, "There's something intrinsically, subtly sexy about looking back over your shoulder to check that your seams are straight." I agree.

I have slowly acquired a small collection of vintage nylon stockings, sheer as nothing available today is sheer. But for the seam running up my calf, one would never know I was wearing stockings. When I was a teenager, I asked my mother for stockings instead of pantyhose, and she looked at me strangely. She told me that when she was a teenager, she had to wear a garter belt with stockings, and she had hated it. She permitted me to purchase a garter belt and a pair of stretchy stockings, and to say that I liked them very much is an understatement. Of course, at seventeen, I wasn't that interested in displaying my stockings to anyone. I think I just wanted to be different, as usual.

Now that I have a job for which I can dress up without worrying about mussing my clothes, I wear my vintage stockings almost every day. I don't like the way the garter clips dig into the backs of my thighs, but it's bearable. By the way, if you're interested in wearing old-fashioned stockings, please spend a bit more to get a good garter belt. Make sure that the garter clips are solid and that the rubber knobby part won't pop out of the metal loop -- and do insist on metal loops, as they last much longer than plastic. I like four straps on each leg; the flimsy little belts sold by most lingerie shops only have two, which are not enough to hold a non-stretchy nylon stocking taut all day.

I unfortunately don't have photos. Someday, perhaps...

Time for a very easy summer sweet.

Strawberries and Cream

Fresh strawberries, hulled
Heavy cream
Greek yogurt sweetened to taste with powdered sugar
or both!

Slice strawberries (or not). Pile in dishes.
Whip cream (or not), or mix sugar with yogurt. Pour or plop onto berries and enjoy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Be Gentle With Yourself"

"Be gentle with yourself." That's a bit of advice I'd often heard, but wasn't able to follow. I even took a spiritual development class on being gentle with myself. Still, the taskmistress in my head refused to be banished. Gentle? What nonsense! Life isn't about being gentle. It's about working hard, harder, harder, and winning, and being right. And whatever you are, or want to do, if it doesn't get you more money, it's stupid. And you're stupid for wanting those things.

There are much worse things that get said, too, but I don't want to tell you those.

My friend Zilan sent me a link to this page, and for some reason, the author words the message in such a way that I finally was able to understand how gentleness and lovingkindness towards myself is not lazy, undisciplined, or disgustingly self-indulgent.

Criticizing yourself, beating yourself up, feeling sorry for yourself, and being disappointed in your own behavior is not virtuous, honorable, or productive in any way. If you do it on a regular basis, you’ve been taught to believe that negative feedback is an effective way to motivate change.

That kind of thinking was taught to you by those who didn’t know any better than to make you feel worse so they could feel better. They did their job well because you sub-consciously believe that if you can make yourself feel bad enough, you’ll do better.

Fortunately, that’s not how it works. Negative feedback creates avoidance behavior, not inspired behavior. Otherwise, the only way we can be successful is by making ourselves miserable!

DING! I suddenly understand. I've been experimenting with refusal to judge myself when I do things like eat dessert for dinner, finish the bottle of Chardonnay at the end of the evening, lie on the couch watching Law and Order, or take the bus instead of walking the couple of miles home. And yes, almost all of my harsh self-judgment has had to do with eating and body image problems. I still struggle, but it has gotten easier since reading this article and, somehow, taking it to heart. I hope you find it helpful, too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Angel Cake Mariette

"Mariette" is the French version of my name. This is a favorite simple, summertime dessert...or breakfast. You can get several servings out of the amounts listed below. Wrap any leftover cake tightly so that it doesn't dry out.

1 angel food cake
3 pints berries (strawberries and blueberries are good), washed, hulled, etc.
1 pkg frozen red raspberries, thawed
whipped cream
honey to taste

Cut cake by pulling apart with two forks.
Split cake pieces horizontally. Place the bottom half (or halves, if you're really hungry) in a bowl or on a plate.
Spoon thawed raspberries over the cake, letting the juice soak the cake.
Spoon some other berries over the raspberries. Put the top slice on the cake.
Spoon more berries over and around the cake. Drizzle with honey, if desired.
Top with lots of whipped cream. And most of all, enjoy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wednesday Pasta

Makes about two servings, or one big one if you're very hungry.

2 cups uncooked whole-wheat pasta shells
1-3 oz. package mixed cremini, oyster, and portobello mushrooms
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
6 oz. goat cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté pepper, shallot, and mushrooms in a little olive oil until slightly softened. Add artichokes and stir just until heated through.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain.
Mix hot pasta with goat cheese, stirring well until cheese is reduced to a creamy sauce.
Add vegetables to pasta and mix well.
Serve with a salad of mixed spring greens and herbs, with a glass of Pinot Grigio.


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