Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Better Late than Never

So after I finished preaching to Zen Master and Zen Mum on the values of healthier eating and portion controls, I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and practice what I preached.

And made guacamole

Avocados are good for the heart, of course. 

Did you know that the Aztecs made and enjoyed guacamole as early as the 16th century?  

Yup, I knew that.

And I’ve been making guacamole since…um…now.

Better late than never, I always say.

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Cheapskate

If you haven’t been following this week’s postings, here’s a synopsis:

Made lemon cake.  Trashed it.

Made another lemon cake.  Turned out okay.

Also made our favorite banana bread.  Which I didn’t talk about this week because I’ve already posted about it earlier.

Actual conversation that happened the very next day after these beauties were made.

Zen Mum:  Did you bring some for your friend?

Me:  Of course I did.

Zen Mum:  I’m just asking because Zen Master and I know how you’re a cheapskate and don’t like to share.

Me:  WHA?  WHA DID YOU JUST CALL ME?

Zen Mum:  Actually I didn’t say that.  Zen Master did.  But it’s true, you know.  You are a cheapskate.

Of all people, Zen Master and Zen Mum should know better than anyone!

Don’t they know that it is so not IN THE ZEN to call me a cheapskate?

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Operator Error – Part 1

We normally don’t make a big To-Do about our birthdays. 

Big surprise parties?  Nope.

Confetti and birthday hats?  Sorry.

Intimate family dinner?  Absolutely.

Cake? 

BUT OF COURSE!

What’s a birthday without cake?

Zen Mum asked for lemon cake this year.  So this past weekend I went to my recipe folder, rummaged through my accumulated recipes and came up with Glazed Lemon Cakes from Martha Stewart.

I’ve never tried it but the comments for the recipe sound promising.

Besides, it’s from Martha.  She might be a jail-bird, but I still worship the apron that she wears.  She’ll always be my domestic goddess of all Good Things.

Here it is.  Isn’t she a beauty?

Instead of muffins, I opted for a cake.  And instead of the glaze, I dusted the top with powdered sugar. 

As I put a big piece in my mouth, Zen Master, already inhaling a bite, says “Not good, not bad.”

Zen Mum doesn’t comment, she a little too busy shoveling it into her mouth.

I didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything, really, since my first piece was stuck to the roof of my mouth.  I grabbed my glass of water and drain it in one gulp.

The next moment, that entire cake was dumped in the trash.

How can all the comments be wrong?

Instead of light and fluffy, my creation was dry as a bone. 

How did I go wrong??

How did I fail Martha??

OPERATOR ERROR….OPERATOR ERROR…THIS IS NOT A TEST…OPERATOR ERROR…

Until Zen Master said, “It’s not a failure.  Just try again next time.”

I’m not going to discard this recipe, although I did follow it to the letter.

But it’ll be awhile before I attempt this recipe again.

I’m not worthy, Martha.  I’m not worthy!

But I still prevail!  My spirit is resilient!  I shall not be undone by a lemon cake! 

Because I still need to find another lemon cake recipe so I can grant Zen Mum her birthday wish.  And I refuse to cop out and bake her a premade, premixed cake from a box.

Because I’m better than that, damn it!

To be continued.

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For a Good Cause

Over the beautiful and sunny weekend, we went to church. 

Or more specifically, a church fund-raising festival.  For a good cause, and for a friend.

The festival/fund-raising had many arts and crafts booths, which I didn’t really zero in on, because I made a beeline for the edible goodies. 

And then I got sidetracked by a couple of interesting corners. 

Like the one for the kids.

And like the table where empty clothes can be stuffed and transformed into scarecrows.  We were there a bit early and they were just starting to stuff some pants.

Or where normal pumpkins became colorful kids’ works of art.

While we were wandering around, admiring the sights, we came across our friend, the Organizer!

I can’t tell, but do you think she’s happy to see us?

She was the busy bee buzzing around the event, making sure “smoothness” was the happening word of the day. 

Then we came across the corner of yummy and sweets!

Across this sweet corner was the bakery booth.  Excellent treats from The Breadery made up most of the table.

If you’re ever in town, the Breadery should be one of the places to visit.  Homemade breads and muffins are their specialties and always a treat. 

Just saying.

We absolutely LOVE the pumpkin pecan bread.

It was pretty tough going, showing our support for the fund-raising.  But hey, we’re always up for a good cause.

The End.

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Sunday Nights

Whenever we have a hankering for something different, Sunday nights are usually reserved for these special meals.  More times than not, they would be American dishes as we normally eat Chinese food for dinner during most of the week.

This past Sunday, we looked in the frig and threw together something that we haven’t had in awhile. 

Chicken Marsala from AllRecipes.com and Martha Stewart’s Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad.   

The last time I made Chicken Marsala, I had used a recipe from Cuisine at Home Magazine.  And Murphy’s Law struck again because when I went looking for the recipe, I couldn’t find it. 

So I went to Allrecipe.com and found one with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.  But I ended up tweaking the recipe according to the first comment written by AshleyJJones.  I skipped the cooking sherry and just increased the amount of the Marsala wine.  And I added heavy cream to the sauce.

Hence its pale color and features.  And we also made garlic and basil spaghetti, a flavor also mentioned by AshleyJJones.

The overall meal was outstanding.  Zen Mum threw in a bowl of mixed vegetables at the last moment, thinking that we might not have enough roughage in our diet.

I don’t know.  What do you think?

I would, however, make a few changes the next time around.

  • Brown the chicken and the mushrooms a bit longer until light golden.
  • Add less heavy cream into the sauce. 

I’m nuts about cream, most especially heavy cream, and I got a little carried away when adding it to the sauce.  Hence, its pale color.  The dish was still quite tasty but if I’m brutally honest about it, the excess dollop of cream may have diluted the flavor a bit.

Live and learn, I always say.

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What Are Friends For

Actual conversation that happened yesterday.  It went a little something like this.

Me:  So did you do anything special for your birthday last night?

Birthday Girl:  Nothing special.  We just went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

Me (drooling):  So what kind of cheesecake did you get?

Birthday Girl:  I don’t do desserts.

*time…stopping…* 

*…momentary…confusion…* 

*blink…*

STOP THE PRESS!

HOLD…THE…PHONE!

Me (flabbergasted):  What’s the point of going to The Cheesecake Factory if you’re not going to get cheesecake??

Birthday Girl (shrugging):  I don’t do dessert. 

But that’s the best part of the meal!

Am I wrong or am I wrong?

By Golly, I am so not wrong!

So I offered to take her dessert the next time she went back.  She appreciated my efforts and promised to do exactly that.

I mean, really.  What are friends for?  Especially when it comes to these things?

From The Cheesecake Factory Free ShareIt Images

From The Cheesecake Factory Free ShareIt Images

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Note:  No, this is not an advertisement for The Cheesecake Factory.  I’m not paid in either cash or cheesecakes for writing this post, but I could really go for some Heath Bar cheesecake right now!

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Simple Pleasures

I have pretty simple tastes, if I do say so myself.  It really doesn’t take much for me to break into my happy dance.

Simple pleasures, really. 

Like…

  • clean, crisp bed sheets
  •  

  • the feel of clean after a nice, long shower
  •  

  • the sound of rain falling outside while I’m warm and snug inside my house
  •  

  • a large mug of messy and delicious homemade hot chocolate

Warning: object in picture much larger than it appears, but not by much.

 

And the best of the best: 

  • getting off work on a Friday night

Happy Friday!

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Butter and Bananas

Butter makes my world go round.  And while we’re on this subject…

…coffee makes my world go round.

…chocolate keeps my insides shiny and makes my world go round.

…and cheese just makes my butt round. 

But I digress.  I was talking about butter.  Just bear with me a second.

I love banana bread.  I’ve been on the lookout for a really good banana bread recipe for awhile, and I’ve come across a handful of tasty ones, but nothing that’s a true keeper.  Just regular standbys for those times that I get desperate and crave some bread.

So four very ripe bananas were staring at me over the weekend and I decided to put them out of their misery.  I combed through my recipe file and came up with two untried banana bread recipes, both consisting of the same ingredients, but one was missing butter.  So which one to try?

It’s an easy choice to make, since the deal-breaker for me is the butter.  So I whipped up banana bread from Mike’s Table

It was touch and go for a little bit there.  While I was throwing the batch together, Zen Mum was trying to help by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Instead she accidentally unleashed her power and threw in a whopping dollop.  I think it might have been a tablespoon or so but it was quite hard to tell. 

Oh well.

Mike advised to let the bread cool down before slicing in for a taste.  That’s sound advise.

Which, of course, I didn’t take.

My banana bread became banana cake. 

Note to self:  in the future, listen to Mike and let the bread settle and cool before hoovering it down.

Verdict?

Zen Master:  two thumbs up.  Comments:  Moist and not too sweet. 

I adjusted the sugar down than what was called for.  I tend to do that with most dessert recipes because Zen Master can’t handle overly sweet things.

Zen Mum:  two thumbs up.  Comments:  Good, yummy.

Me:  two thumbs up.  Comments?

It’s a keeper.

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Afterthought:  I forgot to mention that I omitted the walnuts and chocolate chips from this batch.  I didn’t have them on hand and it still turned out pretty well.

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