Headline: “Old Dog Learns New Trick, Teens Unimpressed”

Check me out, I learned how to use Excel today. I haven’t used a spread sheet since I was a high school teacher, and that was on an Apple II e- yes, I am officially a dinosaur. There have been many, many times recently that I would have benefited from having this skill and it was curiosity that finally drove me to it. I wanted to know how many calories were in one of my Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Sticking to about 1200 calories/day? You're looking at more than a complete meal if you have that milk, too.
Sticking to about 1200 calories/day? You’re looking at more than a complete meal, over 500 calories, if you have that milk, too.

Fortunately for me, I converted my go-to recipes to grams instead of cups- try it, you can whack out a batch of sweets in no time flat when you aren’t fighting to cram shortening into a one cup measure. All I do now is place my mixing bowl on my handy-dandy digital scale, dump an ingredient into my work bowl and zero out the weight with each new ingredient.

All it took was double checking calories per gram of ingredients on a couple of web sites and voilà! When it came to finding all the calories per gram of ingredient, Google was great, so were company websites, like Nestle. All the info you didn’t want to know about home made cookies, now in one convenient spot.

To all my friends who have been eating these cookies over the years, don’t look…. Sorry.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
# of Cookies 144
Total Cal 13789
Total Cal/cookie 95.75
ingredient cal/gram # of grams total cal/cookie
flour 4 675 2700 18.75
white sugar 4 620 2480 17.222
brown sugar 4 445 1780 12.3611
shortening 9 330 2970 20.625
butter 7 110 770 5.3472
chips 5 545 2725 18.923
egg (per) 72 4 288 2
vanilla (T) 38 2 76 0.5277
not all ingredients are listed…

The Upshot: Half the Family = Half the Bill

Plans for a nice family dinner at a favorite Japanese restaurant just didn’t materialize in the way I had hoped for.  I haven’t seen the teens much lately, which sometimes is NOT a bad thing- am I right, fellow moms of teens??? However, I do enjoy these people an overwhelming majority of the time. There are subjects to cover, jokes to hear, stories to catch up on that you can’t hear in the fifteen minutes you see them in the morning before they dash out the door, or pry out of them as they are poring over their studies.

We try really hard to sit down together at dinner every day of the week… by “we try,” it’s really “I try.” All this effort results in maybe three family dinners per week. With fencing, guitar, theater, church leadership, Academic Decathlon, and sneaky Netflix binging, (and this is just The Teens) I feel like I have to out-plan everyone in order to bring us together on a regular basis. That should be a college course for parents! “Family Togetherness 101: Stealthy and Inconspicuous Planning and Gathering- Techniques and Practices Explained.”

No le gusta el atún. Pobrecito.
No le gusta el atún. Pobrecito. Part of the the catch of the day last July. It was Poke City here. Click the pic for a recipe similar to ours
Further evidence of how deep his distaste for fish runs..
Further evidence of how deep his distaste for tuna runs…

It is probably a good thing that The Teens stayed home… one doesn’t like sushi or any fish for that matter, the other racks up quite a bill. We had half the usual bill by leaving half the family at home. Look at The Boy. He’s not kidding. This is the poster child for Mac N Cheese. And fillet mignon. His tastes run amok.

Hamachi (Yellowtail) Sashimi, caught that morning- click for a great poke recipe
Hamachi (Yellowtail) Sashimi, caught that morning

My favorite selections for sushi are always salmon and yellowtail nigiri. Tuna used to be a top choice, but we are extremely fortunate to catch our own on a friend’s boat or receive some of his haul and we have a freezer full of ahi. It. Is. HEAVEN!!

Tobiko and Scallop...
Tobiko and Scallop…

So, we lost the teens and instead were able to have a nice dinner date with just the two of us. Not a bad consolation prize, huh?! Where The Girl was going to have carte blanche with the sushi menu and do the choosing for me, in hindsight, maybe it is a good thing that she wasn’t there? Hmmm… hadn’t thought of that. Who knows what she would have tried to get me to eat? (*shudder*)

The Husband got to choose instead, and we ended up splitting orders of scallop nigiri and tobiko. Holy Yum. The scallops, especially, they were so sweet! I thought that shellfish would be on the tough side if prepared raw, since I’ve only had giant clam sushi… I don’t recommend it. Our favorite little neighborhood sushi joint prepares the scallops with a very light dressing, probably mayo based- I loved it, and so did the mayonnaise-hating husband. And I really did like the tobiko, too. Fresh and ocean-y tasting, lots of fun, salty popping going on, and very yummy.

More Photography Lessons… (I need to take a class!)

Whew. Trying to figure out how to work the Christmas Camera is waaaaaay harder than I thought. I may have to completely throw in the towel and pop for a real class with a real instructor, ’cause I ain’t making any headway on my own.

Just when I thought I couldn’t combine this control with that option, I re-studied how to work with different aperture settings, and after about an hour of monkeying around, I think I get this one… (Thanks to my “Nikon D3300 For Dummies” book)

OK- here’s what I think is sticking in my brain:

  • close focus + small aperture setting = out of focus background and clear foreground, better for close-ups
  • zoomed out + larger aperture setting = larger depth of focus, better for outdoor and landscape shots
  • Less than 10 feet in the shot? Larger aperture settings just get blurry with a slower shutter speed.

So… The object of today’s practice was to see how the snacks, the cat and the rosemary outside the window would look at different settings:

Oops- forgot to bring in the focus, resulted in fuzzy pic- 26mm f/4
Oops- forgot to bring in the focus, resulted in fuzzy pic- 26mm f/4
18mm f/4.5
18mm f/4.5
55mm f/32 and a 3 sec. shutter... no wonder it is really blurry. I need a tripod.
55mm f/32 and a 3 sec. shutter… no wonder it is really blurry. I need a tripod.

Best three for explaining to myself what I’m doing:

18mm f5.6 clear cookies, fuzzy kitty (rosemary not even in the shot)
18mm f5.6 clear cookies, fuzzy kitty (rosemary not even in the shot)
26mm f/18 cookies in focus, kitty clearer
26mm f/18 cookies in focus, kitty clearer
26mm f/25 everything is fuzzy, not just the cat, do I need glasses? No, just a higher focus or lower aperture...
26mm f/25 everything is fuzzy, not just the cat, do I need glasses? No, just a higher focus or lower aperture, faster shutter… aieeee!!!

ANY AND ALL TIPS FROM EXPERIENCED PHOTOGRAPHERS WILL BE APPRECIATED. GREATLY!!!

Foodie Websites- the Ridiculous and the Inspirational

I spent some time clicking through to some entertaining and motivational websites today… fascinating what we have available on The Web, isn’t it? Amusement, education and debauchery, all in one spot. Mind blowing, no? You Tube’s “Minimum Trip” is a channel that features miniature food preparation. The channel was featured on a morning news show, recently, and I bookmarked it to come back to eventually. I finally did, going through several of their videos… kind of left me speechless (not an easy feat). My first thought as I watched teeny-tiny shrimp get turned into tempura was “OH MY GOSH, KIDS, COME SEE, IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE IS FRYING SEA MONKEYS!!”

There is no music, only the sound of food prep and cooking and a whole lot of closeups of miniature food, little bitty cooking stations and doll house furniture.
What a trip! Interesting, to say the least. The boy and I decided that we liked it, though, and that he now wants to show his friends.

On a completely different scale is NeverSeconds. This is a fabulously interesting site featuring the observations of a young school-aged girl (nine years old at the start), blogging with her father to show what we are offering our children in the lunchrooms of the western world and beyond. Since beginning the blog in 2012, the family has gone on to publish a book on the whole experience (“Never Seconds- The Incredible Story of Martha Payne”), as well as spur on an impressive amount of fundraising for schools in Malawi with Mary’s Meals– these posts from March 2013, “Meeting Malawi’s Madame President,” and from May of 2012 are a great overview.
Click on through these underlined links for an international lesson about school lunches and what can happen when a family’s experiment collides with the blogsphere, social media, and local and international media. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying Martha’s book.

Here’s to Web Exploration!

Sharing Cookies and Thoughts on Practice and Past Times…

So, there are these people who work for The Husband… they deserve more than cookies. Lol. I’ve seriously been meaning to get treats to them for a long time. This is quite a group of highly intelligent, dedicated, and really interesting people! I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and crammed more than three dozen into a bag for The Husband to bring into a meeting today. Hopefully, everyone will get two cookies… maybe I should’ve sent in more.

I can crank out 12 dozen cookies in under two hours, including pans and kitchen cleaned, honestly, because I’ve made this recipe for 30+ years. I’ve made and sold hundreds of dozens of cinnamon rolls and can knock out a couple dozen with minimum effort. And I love cooking! It is a lot like an athlete’s love of practicing to develop muscle memory in a sport- I bet that anyone with a passion for anything would agree. Years of practice means few wasted steps in my kitchen; I know which equipment and ingredients to grab, measure, and use. Practice makes perfect, no matter what you are practicing… so be careful where you spend your time, right?

Pile o' cinnamon rolls for the teachers and school staff.
Pile o’ cinnamon rolls for school.

Nothing makes a baker happier than finding people with whom to share the goodies. In January I bring cinnamon rolls to the teachers and staff for Teacher Appreciation Day- ironically, I’m sure I feel more appreciated when they say they look forward to the rolls each year (Cinnabon knock-offs, I swear they are exactly like the shops in malls). It makes me happy.

I identity with these stickers...
I identify with these stickers…

I run a couple miles most mornings so I can eat that second taco or have a nightly glass of wine.

Amazon.com  0.0 I Don't Run
…links to Amazon.com
0.0
I Don’t Run

If people don’t share these cookies and other treats, I’m going to have to earn one of those 13.1 or 26.2 stickers for the back of my own sweet ride. Bake on, people… and keep running, too.