Monthly Archives: August 2015

“Saved By Zero”


So, I did something this afternoon I haven’t done in well over a decade.

Get your mind out of the gutter. I did homework. Income-Book

Really. I read most of chapter one and put homework deadlines and exam dates into my Google calendar. I watched my professor’s “getting to know you” video and posted my “getting to know me” student thread on the class forum. I discovered that my online textbook can be watched like a lecture and that the review questions are all interactive. I did a review session that wouldn’t let me move on to the next section until I got the answers right. It’s all very, very cool.

I won’t set foot in a classroom this semester, may never meet my classmates face-to-face. And if I play my cards right, I won’t have to drive over to the campus until it’s time to renew my ID card, which would be sometime next year.

This, my friends, is an introvert’s dream come true.

accountant-dogI could get really used to this. Don’t get me wrong; I really love the whole classroom experience, I always have. And I’m thinking that when I start taking my upper level accounting and business courses at Villanova in a few years I may have to take them in a traditional classroom setting. I can regale those youngsters with tales about how it was in the old days when all we had were 17” laptops with half-a-terabyte hard drives.

Kids these days. Hmph.

But until then, I’m perfectly happy to sit here in my little air-conditioned world, on my ass, on my comfy couch working away at my coursework at my own pace. This is a whole new world and while it looks like a lot of work right now, it’ll all get done.

How do you eat a chocolate bar the size of an elephant? One bite at a time, of course, silly rabbit.

Or one chapter, per week, until the middle of December.


“On Blueberry Hill”


So about a week ago I started feeling a little tired. And then a little bit more, then really blitzed and finally into a full-blown case of into-your-bones deep exhaustion. I haven’t felt like that since I finished radiation and chemo back in January.

It scared the hell out of me, but it’s nothing to be concerned about, really. I just had check-ups at Fox Chase and both my surgeon and chemo oncologist said I was good for another 25,000 miles. It’s just been a couple of very, very busy weeks and I’m a little crispy around the edges. I honestly forget where all this busy-ness came from, but it was somewhere in between finishing up the first work project in early June, starting the current one and ending with the car blowing up

on me a few weeks back.

I keep forgetting (conveniently, I’m sure) that healing doesn’t always mean the physical kind. While I feel well and look pretty good, I’m a champ at ignoring the signs of needing to slow down. I really am my mother’s daughter when I say, “Oh, I just need another cup of coffee” and get a move on with whatever it was I was doing. I should be awarded a gold medal for all the times I do just one more thing because I can and not because it needs to be taken care of right at that moment. I was at my desk last week and I couldn’t focus on the task at hand because I couldn’t turn my brain off. It wasn’t coffee I needed; a snooze would have really done the trick.

My self-prescribed medicine this weekend is to take it easy and be good to myself; needless to say, lots of yarn will be involved. I also promised myself I wasn’t going to do a lot of cooking and damn it, for once I’m going to take my own advice. It’s going to be hot anyway and the last thing I need to be doing is spending a couple of hours in a steamy kitchen on some marathon bread baking session. We can buy bread this week. Other people do it all the time. Sheesh.

Same with pizza dough. I saw a recipe last night for a stuffed bread that’s filled with potatoes, spinach and feta cheese. It sounds wonderful and delicious but it’s an Anna Thomas recipe. I love her recipes, but they’re a bit chef-fy. My supermarket sells pizza dough. We’ll get by, somehow.

I am, however, going to make another pan of blueberry cornbread. When I first got my hands on “The New England Cookbook”, I remember seeing this recipe and thinking, “Oh! That sounds really good.” And I’ve been doing that for the past four years. I look at it and think, “Yeah. Have to make that” and then I move along to whatever it is I was looking for.

Pass the butter.

Pass the butter.

This isn’t a traditional cornbread. The batter starts out like a typical creamed cake batter preparation and finishes up like a fruited quick bread. It’s not too sweet, but you could definitely have this with a cup of tea for breakfast or a snack. It would probably be fabulous toasted and slathered with butter or Earth Balance. 

Tell you what. You go make the cornbread and the tea. I’m going to put my feet up for a few and grab my knitting and rest.

Blueberry Cornbread

  • 1 ½ cups + 2 Tbsp. unbleached white flour
  • ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter or Earth Balance, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen (gasp!) blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease a 9” baking pan.
  2. Combine 1 ¼ cups of the flour, the cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Run a whisk through to get the lumps out and to blend the dry ingredients.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar in another bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beat until just blended.
  4. Toss the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the flour and fold them into the batter. Scrape into the prepared dish, smoothing the top.
  5. Bake until pale golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 25 minutes, though.
  6. Let the bread rest for 5 minutes before cutting into squares and serving hot or warm. It’s also pretty good at room temperature and it ain’t half bad cold straight out of the fridge, either.
  7. Enjoy!

“Maybelline, Why Can’t You Be True?”


Cars don’t like me.

Nope. Not one little bit. And it’s not for any lack of trying on my part, either. I’ve gassed and changed oil and refilled windshield wiper fluid doohickeys and vacuumed their interiors. I’ve fretted over weird sounds and flashing lights on the dashboards and wondered why the tailpipe drips when I turn the air conditioning off.

I’ve followed maintenance schedules, installed wiper blades and never rode my clutch. I’ve even changed my own headlamps. So there.

And how do my cars repay me? They have wonderful, huge, catastrophic, epic deaths. Engines conk out doing sixty miles per hour on the Garden State Parkway at 6 o’clock in the morning, forcing me to walk half a mile in the dark, in 15 degree weather, to the next rest area to call a tow truck.

They get rear ended by someone downshifting down a hill on a rain slicked road, forcing me to plow into the car in front of me, cracking the frame.

Or, the entire dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree on the Schuylkill Expressway and then has a complete mechanical meltdown on Lancaster Avenue on the campus of Villanova University.

Go Wildcats!

Anyway, I got two rides in a tow truck that day and really, how many people get to say that? And did you know that the tow truck company Radnor Township has a contract with charges $95 for a tow? And that they take cash only?

So try not to break down in Radnor.

I’m fine, the car is not. It looks like this car is done for and we’ll be a one car family until sometime next year, when I’ll be in the market for another car. I’m thinking of either a 20-year-old Volvo station wagon or a Sherman tank.  Something indestructible.

If you’re thinking of selling either, give me a call.

A few days ago I made pasta e fagioli for dinner. Or, pasta fazool as they say in New Jersey and South Philly. I used to work with someone who called this particular recipe macaroni and beans, which is really what it is. Small pasta with white beans in a garlicky tomato sauce with parsley and salt and pepper.  Grated Romano cheese, too. And that‘s it. A piece or two of buttered Italian bread and you’re good to go.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your spoons.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your spoons.

It’s simplicity in itself, but there’s something about it that just makes people swoon. Maybe it’s because it is so simple or because so many of us grew up eating this around the family kitchen table, I really don’t know. All I know is that I hated this growing up. Hated it. Secretly, I loved it cold (yeah, I know) and used to steal spoonfuls of this from the pot in the refrigerator. But once I started cooking for myself I began having the weirdest craving for this. There wasn’t a written recipe for it, but I remembered how my mom used to make it. So I went back to my apartment and made a pot of it. I buttered a piece of crusty bread, scooped up a big bowl of it and covered the top with Locatelli cheese. I dug in and I swooned, too. Here’s my current version of this Italian-American classic.

Pasta Fazool

  • Olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • A pinch of dried red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 14 oz. can of plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 14 oz. can cannellini beans
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 8 oz. small pasta, like ditalini or small shells
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the carrots, celery and red pepper flakes and cook until tender.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until it’s golden Do not let the garlic burn.
  3. Add the tomatoes and break up the tomatoes with your spoon. Add half a can of water, give it a good stir and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the beans with its juice, stir it and season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley
  4. Cook the pasta until it’s the way you like it. Drain it and add it to the beans. Give it a good stir and get your bowls ready.
  5. Add the cheese on top, get some bread ready and enjoy!