Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hamburger Helper and Children

I saw a version of this recipe in the The Healthy Alternative newsletter that Everman's co-op in Pensacola, Florida publishes. Reading it brought to mind all the years that I fed my boys Hamburger Helper as they were growing up, not every week but frequently enough -  I hate to admit. I made the following recipe the other day and it's not a low calorie dish but it might take the place of a quick noodle/tomato dish that would appeal to children. I am a firm believer that the chemicals found in products like Hamburger Helper as a preservative and flavor enhancer are contributing to the pounds and illnesses that the USA population is experiencing in every increasing numbers as our bodies struggle to process what is being ingested "NOT as per manufacturer's instructions"! It breaks my heart to see children over-weight, puffy looking from retaining too much fluid, and I wonder if they were fed healthier foods and exercised more would they not be in that situation. I know it takes A LOT of forethought and effort for a parent in this fast-paced society we live in to do all that is necessary to feed their children healthy foods, but what do you have that is more precious than your children?

So here is the recipe:

1 Box Spiral or Elbow Noodles
1/2 - 1 yellow onion - to taste
2-4 garlic cloves - to taste
Fresh chopped basil - 1/4-1/2 cup - or more if you like. I love basil!
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 -1 lb hamburger or ground turkey, or a mix of both
1 - 6 ounce can of tomato paste - low sodium
1 - 14.5 ounce can of tomato sauce - low sodium
1 - 14.5 ounce can of chopped tomatoes - low sodium
Shredded white cheese - Monterey Jack/Mozzarella

Cook the noodles, set aside.
Put olive oil, about 3 tablespoons, in skillet and saute onion, garlic and fresh basil. You can cook the meat with this mixture if you like just make sure you drain well. I cook the meat separately then add to vegetable mixture when I add the tomato products. I would cover this mixture and simmer about 15 minutes before I added the noodles. You can add some water if you need to. Add the noodles to the mixture. Add grated cheese to top while hot on individual servings.

When I made this, I could see how you might spice it up, or add more ingredients - mushrooms, leeks, Italian Sausage. It's just a basic recipe but it was quick and I think it might appeal to children in how basic it is.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ms. Storyteller

This past week several things have happened to cause me to reflect on the power of words. The power to build up and the power to destroy. The old children's ditty of "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me" is sadly, not true.
In this age of technology, we can't seem to escape from words. They are everywhere, seeping into our souls. I have chosen to eliminate as many extra words as I can by seeking periods of silence when I can. But what about the good words? What about those words that can build you up, instruct and encourage? Those are the words I long to hear, and to be a speaker of. And that is my goal and quest. In this contemplation process of mine I remembered a little figurine that a bought a few years ago while in New Mexico. It touched my heart to see the figure of a woman speaking with children clinging to her. It is a very popular tourist artifact symbolizing the Native American storyteller, particularly the elder women. The Native American Storyteller told stories that were handed down from generation to generation. They were stories involving lessons, instructions, descriptions of the natural processes, survival and symbolism. The power of words for continuity of culture, generation to generation.

In the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 4:1 - it states that the children of Israel needed to obey the decrees and laws that God was going to teach them so that they may live and may go into the land that they had journeyed so long to take possession of. Then, in Deuteronomy 4:9 it is written: "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. TEACH THEM TO YOUR CHILDREN AND TO THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THEM".

I can not just simply seek my own personal solitude.

It is apparent to me that the purpose we have as women in our families, and in our world, is to speak with the words of grace and life to those who are in our circle, to build up and to not cast down. To encourage and teach. And to bring about a better generation, having been better in part from hearing the wise words that we have sown in their lives.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Park Bench in Mississippi

Our Customers Greet You With Smiles
In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, I was in Pass Christian, Mississippi on some business. The small town of Pass Christian was devastated in Hurricane Katrina, as was Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Long Beach and much more of the beautiful, historic Mississippi Gulf Coast. While I was there, I attended an art festival in the park along Hwy 90 in Pass Christian. It was a small festival, a bright spot in the midst of a devastated coastline. As I walked through the park enjoying the artwork and exhibits, I noticed an older gentleman sitting by himself on one of the benches with a stack of papers in his hand that appeared to be drawings. He was wearing a wide brimmed canvas hat, a red plaid shirt, and had on large, black-rimmed eye glasses. He looked to be about 75-80 years old. I went over to talk with him and what I discovered was a truly authentic folk artist by the name of Donald McLaw. From what I have learned since, he is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana - and you can see more of his unique artwork at: I don't know why he was sitting on a park bench in Pass Christian, Mississippi as he was a man of very few words. He held out the stack of drawings to me, and as I looked through them I realized that I was having a privileged and unique encounter.

I purchased the two drawings you see here as well as two books of poems, McLaws Book of Poems and McLaws Second Book of Poems with poems titles such as - Big Texas, Who Gave Me This Cold, Badtimes in America, and Weird Willies-Silly Sallies.

A Small Self Esteem Can Follow You All Of Your Life
I hope you enjoy this entry and get as big of a kick out of the drawings as I did. He was certainly not one of the featured artists of the festival, but he was surely the most memorable!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Palafox Market Became Wal Mart (but i still made blueberry jam)

Last week I had decided that I would have a Saturday that was planned out for me. Just for me. I had been thinking about making blueberry jam. I love blueberries and they are in season. So I thought a nice morning would be to get up early, go to Palafox Market in downtown Pensacola, and buy my blueberries. That way I could enjoy the art booths as I purchased the blueberries (I even had a nifty shopping bag that I wanted to use to put my blueberries in). Then I was going to go to Everman's on Garden Street, Bailey's Farmers Market on Davis Highway and purchase the other produce I would not find at Palafox Market. Maybe go to World Market at Cordova Mall as I had a few gadgets that I wanted to see if they had. Have an excursion experience, of sorts.
I was looking forward to this blueberry jam project. I have NEVER, EVER done any canning. I wanted to add this to my abilities in this pursuit of mine to live and eat responsibly and healthy (let's not discuss the sugar in the jam).
Saturday morning arrived. Sunny day, although hot. Unnamed family member(s), not so sunny, but also hot. Responsibilities of another kind, numerous. MB is getting bombarded with all the support pressures of the rest of the week, and on MY DAY! Ok, take a breath MB and wait. And wait. And do what is required of me.  Patience is a virtue. It's 1:00 PM before the wind of this set-back calms, then fades completely and I can crawl out of the shelter. Regroup. Think. Wal Mart is down the street. They have blueberries! And so the day changed, the process to completed jam not as expected, but success! And success is a very good reward.