Monday, June 23, 2014

Dill and Stuff

            After my granddaughter Sierra and I spent June 14 in Kansas celebrating our joint birthday, I returned home to Colorado and began the process of reorganizing my life.  Starting on Monday and continuing each day throughout the rest of the week, I cleaned every corner, crevice, closet and cupboard in my small house although I can tell you “small” seemed an inappropriate adjective by the time Friday arrived.
            This kind of thorough cleaning caused me to question how well I perform my weekly housekeeping tasks; not good it seems as indicated by the dust, cobwebs and other unlikely debris found in the corners and crevices and the amount of clutter found in closets and cupboards.
            My housekeeping influences came from polar opposites.  My mother detested cleaning and her house showed it.  My father came from a family that held cleanliness far above godliness, which is saying a lot for his staunch German Catholic ancestors.  Growing up, I lived most of the year in my mother’s dust-covered clutter but spent summers with my father’s two matronly aunts, who never allowed a single dust particle to accumulate.  My father, a seasoned alcoholic, still managed to maintain a spotless dwelling after he and my mother divorced.  I often wonder if living with her haphazard cleaning style drove him to drink.  My own housekeeping skills fall somewhere in the center.  I can handle a bit of dust and some clutter, but find myself becoming grumpy when the dust and clutter become noticeable.
             Housekeeping aside, it amazes me how much apparently useless “stuff” one accumulates in a short span of time.
            Minutes into cleaning and sorting, I decided that people other than myself might need most of that stuff that I accumulated, so I began applying price tags (exceedingly cheap price tags) to a number of items before placing each in a box to hold for our community’s annual town-wide yard sale, which takes place in July.  Now, my home is free of dust, smells better and I have cleaner, neater closets and cupboards.  However, I also have boxes of stuff filling up half of the space in my office.
            It sort of reminds me of my asparagus bed, which I planned to replant but never quite got around to.  Instead, I allowed a few dill plants to go to seed last fall, which resulted in a bed filled with lush dill seedlings.  Now, that is what I call good clutter.
            I love the smell of Dill while it is growing, but adding it fresh to food, like in the potato salad below, is even better. 

Dilled Potato Salad
Ingredients
2 Large Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into ½” cubes
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons plain Greek Yogurt
¼ Teaspoon salt or to taste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed

Directions:
1.     Steam potato cubes until tender, 8-10 minutes.
2.     Place cooked potato cubes in a bowl and set aside to cool to lukewarm
3.     Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, salt and dill weed together and pour over warm potatoes.
4.     Toss gently to coat, cover and allow to cool at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving.


Note:  You can add a small amount of chopped celery and/or onion if you desire, but I like the simple taste of the dill with the potato.  You may use low or no-fat mayonnaise and/or yogurt if you wish.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blame and Deviled Eggs

          I apologize to my fans.  Every single three of you who hung in during my four-months of blog neglect.  If there is a hell for fallen bloggers, I suppose I’m headed down there, so confession might redeem my soul.  Here goes my “Act of Contrition.”  “The Devil made me do it.”  Actually, the devil was nowhere in the mix.  My excuses are other writing, yard work, gardening and maternity leave.
            The other writing involves the biography of a wonderful 90-year-young local woman commissioned by her daughter.  Lola’s story contains all of the elements of a great character-driven novel: love, tragedy, happy and sad times, thrills and spills, struggles, accomplishments, unlimited courage through the difficulties of life and appreciation for the joys around her, including her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  It should be a best seller.
            Yard work and gardening are what old women do while wearing big funny hats.  Shirley McClain said something like that in the movie Steel Magnolias, although she may have specified elderly “southern” women.  I once agreed with that cliché.  Now I know that old is a frame of mind, hats drive me crazy and I love the feel of the sun on the top of my hatless head.  Also, the exercise involved in yard work actually keeps one young and gardening offers a chance to play in the mud without accusations about going through one’s second childhood.
            The maternity leave started earlier than expected because little Evan Dean opted to play head games with his expectant mother.  Before I get into that, however, perhaps I should explain why a woman of my age would be dealing with maternity leave in the first place.  It so happens that when I sold my weekly newspaper at the end of 2010, the two young women who purchased it negotiated maternity leaves into the contract.  In other words, I had to agree to work when and/or if they needed time off to add to the population.  They both chose this year to collect on that promise.
            Spring was due to deliver on May 3 and Candie is due on July 18.  I question whether their husbands, Jeremy and Ron, knew about this conceived plot ahead of time.
            Evan Dean came up with his own plan, however, arriving on Easter Sunday, April 20.  I started my first maternity leave on Friday, April 18 and ended it on Friday, May 30.  My next maternity leave should start on July 18, but I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and relish my patio while I can.
            Speaking of summer and being outside, one of my favorite summertime foods has always been a deviled egg even though the taste of each can vary with the cook.  At a recent potluck at my church for instance, another woman and I both showed up with deviled eggs; her’s a mustardy delight, mine with a more traditional sweet tartness.  We both went home with empty platters, proving the point that nearly everyone loves a deviled egg of any flavor.
            One answer to deviling eggs one or two at a time for singles and/or couples is to premix a sauce to add as needed to the mashed yolks.  My recipe makes the traditional sweet-tart flavor, but you can add more mustard or other flavors to suit your own taste (Although be cautious about what you add if you plan to store for a long period of time).

Deviled Egg Sauce
½ Cup mayonnaise (use low or no fat if you wish)
¼ Cup cider vinegar (or a vinegar of your choice)
¼ Cup sugar (use less if you want a tarter flavor)
1 Teaspoon mustard or to taste
½ Teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper (optional)
Directions:
            Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well mixed.  Store indefinitely in a covered glass container in the refrigerator.

Note:  You can also use this sauce in small amounts of potato or tuna salad.

To make Deviled Eggs
            Place the number of eggs you wish in a saucepan and add cold water to ½ inch above eggs.  Bring to boil uncovered over medium-high heat.  As soon as water boils, remove saucepan from heat, cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Pour off hot water and cover eggs with ice water.  Allow to sit until completely cooled before peeling.

            Peel eggs, slice in half, remove yolks to a small bowl and mash with a fork.  Add approximately ½ tablespoon of sauce for each egg yolk or more to get the consistency you want.  Season with more salt and add pepper if you wish.  Spoon the filling back into the egg white and sprinkle with paprika or garnish with slivered Basil or minced dill leaves.