Monday, March 30, 2009

cooking and baking, cleaning

Proverbs 31:14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. Proverbs 31:15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

How's everyone's spring cleaning coming? Do you have any outdoor furniture? Has it been stored away for the winter? (Or, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, do you need to clean and store some outdoor furniture?) Whether your furniture sits out most of the time or whether it's been stored away, sometime during the spring or early summer, you will want to give it a thorough cleaning. The earlier spring comes to your area, the earlier you want to finish this so that your family can begin to enjoy the outdoors. Don't forget porch furniture, deck furniture, yard furniture, porch or yard swings or benches, or furniture on screened in porches. Make any necessary repairs. If your furniture has cushions, check and clean them, as well. If you need to buy or make new cushions, follow through with that.

If you're not sure how to clean your outdoor furniture, this link offers suggestions for cleaning many different types of outdoor furniture materials. Here are some suggestions for plastic furniture. Here's one simple method for any type of outdoor furniture.

Don't forget that many a worn looking patio furniture item can be saved simply by painting it. Look for a paint that is appropriate to the material: wicker, aluminum, plastic, wood, etc.

While you're at it, check trellises, fences, and other yard items to see if they are in good shape or if they need repairs.

We're continuing on with our cooking/baking portion of the course. Here are some random tips.

1) It's important to practice cooking skills, such as chopping or peeling or sauteing or getting the feel of whether a dough is the right consistency, etc. Even if you have been cooking for many years, you can always learn how to do something more efficiently or more creatively. With practice, you will learn how to perform skills involving the use of kitchen knives more safely and more quickly. Learning how to do this safely and quickly will greatly improve the efficiency of your cooking, as well as make the process more enjoyable.
2) Remember, there is more to a meal than just having something to eat. Even if you live alone, take time to prepare nutritious and tasty food and sit at a prettily decorated table to eat it. I've noticed that on those rare occasions when my dearest husband is out of town, I tend to eat more poorly than when he is here. Yet, that is not a healthy habit. By contrast, during the years that my father has been widowed, he has made sure to have nutritious meals for himself. One way he did this is by cooking something he enjoys and putting up meal sized containers in his freezer. Now, he is living in a facility with a dining room that prepares three square meals.
One thing that we can do for people who live along -- whether they be young singles or older widows and widowers -- is to bring over some home cooked meals once in a while or invite them to dine at our table on occasion. If we are blessed with home and family, we have something wonderful to share with those who might be far from their families or who otherwise find themselves living alone.
Certainly, if you live with others -- particularly in a family -- it's important to have at least one meal together a day -- preferably 3.
3) Modern nutritionists sometimes suggest that grazing or having five or six small meals a day fits better into our modern society and is a way of losing weight. If your doctor suggests this for a reason, heed his advice. All too often, however, this is what happens: 1) You end up eating five or six large meals instead of the small quantities that the nutritionists have in mind 2) A large portion of your day is spent thinking about food and preparing food and waiting for the next small meal. This could backfire into eating more. 3) You may tend to eat these small meals quickly, without taking the time to savor them or to chew and digest them properly. As Cheryl Mendelson points out, in countries where mealtimes are still respected, people generally have fewer weight problems.
4) The best eating pattern is a hearty breakfast, a satisfying noon dinner, and a lighter supper. I'm sure we've all heard the saying, "Breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; and dine like a pauper." However, as a practical matter in today's world, lunch may need to be smaller and dinner become the larger meal, around which the family gathers. Work out what is best in your family.
Farm families can usually still manage the nourishing noon dinner and lighter supper at night.
Whatever pattern you choose, you will probably find that it's wise to have some healthy, lean protein with your lunch. Protein digests more slowly than carbs, and it can help prevent afternoon sleepiness.
5) If you just can't find the appetite for a hearty breakfast, have a French style petite dejuner. This was a snack that French farmers ate before going out to do their earliest chores. Then, they would come in and eat their real breakfast -- the dejuner . At some point, the dejuner simply became lunch, and French culture ate only the one breakfast. So, if you would like to have a French style petite dejuner, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or decaf coffee with a delicious bit of a baguette or a nice roll, a tiny bit of real butter, and some lovely preserves.


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