Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Freezer – Part One

I got my first deep freeze in early December 1990. It was delivered to my apartment just a few days after I got out of the hospital after undergoing surgery for my detached retina. It was an early Christmas present from my family.

After losing so much of my sight, I knew I was going to have to change a few things in my life. I had a lot of time to think about those changes during my three weeks in the hospital. At that point, I didn’t know how much sight I would even get back. One thing that I knew had to change, was the way that I grocery shopped. I had always bought in bulk when I could – except when it came to things that could or had to be frozen. I relied on whatever size my refrigerator freezer was and my ability to go and buy fresh items when I needed them.

My parents had asked what I wanted for Christmas that year and I suggested that rather than everyone buying me a lot of smaller things as they usually did, that it would be great if they all chipped in and got me a chest deep freezer. They readily agreed.

My mom and brother came into the city the day I was released. On the way home we went to Sears and bought a deep freezer. It was delivered to my apartment a few days later. Mom did a lot of cooking and baking for me in that first week that she stayed with me after I was home from the hospital. We also did a MAJOR grocery shop, so it didn’t take long to fill it up!

That deep freezer became an integral part of my independence. I was able to take advantage of meat sales and cook in bulk. I didn’t have to shop as often and was able to save a fair amount on my grocery bills.

Over the years, I have kept that freezer at least 80% full – and usually closer to capacity! I baked when I wanted to and froze whatever I could. I cooked large meals and froze them in individual portions. I bought family packs of meats and froze the meat in individual portions. The freezer was always stocked and ready for whatever I needed.

The last year or so though, I realized that it wasn’t working quite as well as it used to. There was more frost around the top than there used to be. It needed defrosting a little more than it used to. The area near the motor wasn’t freezing as solidly so I kept things like almonds and peanuts there – things that should be kept cool for freshness but didn't necessarily need to be frozen.

Twenty years isn’t really that old for a good deep freeze – especially if it is defrosted on a regular basis and not moved around much. Mine was defrosted at least twice/year but unfortunately, it had also gone through three moves (while full) – 1991, 1993 and 1998. Not having AC all of these years didn’t help the life of the freezer either. My freezer was on borrowed time and would have to be replaced.

This summer has been warmer than usual and without AC, the apartment was a bit on the warm side even with a couple of good sized oscillating fans running. The freezer was working overtime. I made a batch of ice cream in late July and realized that the canister - which normally sat on the little shelf above the motor - wasn’t frozen as solid as it should have been. That batch didn’t turn out quite as well as usual but was still quite edible!! The first part of August was very hot and humid so I knew that the freezer needed to be defrosted sooner rather than later.

A couple of weeks ago, a northerly breeze cooled off the apartment really nicely one evening so I decided to defrost. What I discovered was NOT good. The items along the sides and bottom were no longer frozen solid! Luckily, almost all of the items along the wall and floor were my muffins, cookies, loaves and nuts – all items that are a bit more forgiving to freezing temps. There was about 4 months or so worth of baking, a pound of peanuts and about 5 pounds of almonds. Replacing anything would be expensive and time consuming. I checked everything carefully for soft spots, mould etc.

Unfortunately, I had to throw out about $20 worth of meat – 2 lbs extra lean ground beef and 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. That would have been at least 20 servings of meat once they were prepared! That really hurt and I did cry. The rest of the meat was still frozen – probably about $150 worth of meat and homemade meals in all. (That’s not counting the cost to replace the baking!) After I defrosted, I pulled out the freezer to clean as much dust from behind as possible. The motor was still too hot to touch! Oh, this was NOT good!!

I knew it would take a few days before I could get a new freezer delivered, so before I put things back in, I lined it with several layers of newspaper for insulation. I placed all the baking along the bottom and the outside walls. The meat and prepared meals went in the middle where it would be colder and well insulated.

There really wasn’t much else I could do. I didn’t have anywhere else to store things. The fridge freezer was already full and none of my nearby friends had any extra freezer space.

Hopefully, the freezer would work until a new one could be delivered. I plugged the freezer in again and crossed my fingers. I didn’t want to lose anything else. Throwing out any food – prepared or not is something that I have almost never done and I certainly didn’t want to start now!

For now the freezer was working, but I needed a new one as soon as possible. I started looking at some local businesses online to see what they had and what the price range was. I made a few phone calls but found that it was either going to cost me a small fortune to get one in a couple of days or the store didn’t have what I wanted in stock.

I finally ordered a 7.2 cubic foot chest freezer from Sears. The earliest that I could get it delivered was the following Saturday. It was also going to cost me $60 for delivery!! YIKES!! I wasn’t happy about it, but I had no choice. When I called my mom that Sunday morning, I told her that she wouldn’t have to shop for me this year as I had just bought my Christmas present!

to be concluded next week....


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not On My Play List!

We all have different tastes in music and like different genres of music. There are certain genres that I just can’t stand. There are some artists that I don’t care for within the genres that I do like. It’s all about personal taste. One person’s most hated is another’s most loved.

I love music, BUT there are certain songs in the general music universe that I just wish would somehow disappear – permanently! Better yet, I wish they’d never been recorded! These aren’t just the songs that get stuck on auto replay in our brains and won’t disappear. Those type of pieces, which are called earworms are just plain annoying!

No, I’m talking about the songs that make you cringe when you hear them. The songs that make you want to gag, throw something, change the station or put it on mute for a few minutes!

I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile. I didn’t go looking for titles – I let the songs come to me. I started making a list of songs last spring and added to it as I thought of more or had the misfortune of hearing them again. (Oh, lucky me!)

Today, I’m going to list some of the songs that I personally, really wish had never been recorded. My list is just that – MY list of songs and therefore you may or not agree with them. Like so many things in life, music is subjective.

These songs have all made the charts in the last 60 years or so. Some even made it to number one. YIKES! There really is no accounting for public taste – or lack thereof. There are love songs, ballads and upbeat pop songs. Some of these are definitely considered as novelty songs, but they still managed to hit the charts and gnaw away at my sanity.

These first four are songs about cars. They all involve speed, but the last two are also the sappy, tragic, teenage love songs:
“Hot Rod Lincoln” - Commander Cody (1972)
“The Little Nash Rambler” (Beep Beep)The Playmates (1958)
“Tell Laura I Love Her”Ray Peterson (1960)
“Dead Man’s Curve” Jan And Dean (1964)

Then there are the ones that are definitely novelty based:
“Shaving Cream” was written by Benny Bell in 1946 and recorded by both him and Phil Winston. They have both recorded under the name of Paul Wynn. This song is full of innuendo as you think the line will end with a curse word but it slides into the next line starting with “shaving cream”. It was rereleased in 1975 as part of a Dr. Demento collection.
“The Thing”Phil Harris (1950) We never are really told what “The Thing” is, but then again we are probably better off not knowing!
“And Then Along Came Jones”The Coasters (1959) Pays homage to the old movie trick of the villain tying the lady to the railroad tracks.
“Space Oddity” (Ground control to Major Tom)David Bowie (1969) I heard this a lot as a kid. I hated it then and still hate it today. There is even a version of it now being used in a TV commercial. Whoopee!
“Coconut”Harry Nilsson (1972) “You put the lime in the coconut and you drink ‘em both up...” This is one of those songs with a catchy beat but the words and voices of the narrator, sister and doctor (all done by Nilsson) are just so annoying that you want to take the coconut and shove it!

The country trucker type songs:
“Teddy Bear” - Red Sovine (1970) Actually anything by Sovine should be banned. He pretty much talks his way through all the sappy lyrics to his story songs including “Giddyup Go” (1965) and ”Phantom 309” (1967)
“Convoy” C. W. McCall (1975) The trucker novelty song hit number one on both the country and pop charts! The song sparked a fad for CB radios and was even an inspiration for the 1978 movie Convoy.

The romantic ballads:
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”Roberta Flak (1972) The song was written in 1957 by political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl. It is rumoured to have been written for Peggy Seeger who later became his wife. The two performed the song on the British folk circuit in the 1960’s. I think I hate Flak’s version so much because it was played ad nauseum by so many radio stations of the day
“Feelings”Albert Morris (1975) This was another of the overkill songs of my late teens. Some of my friends took to singing the song in an Elmer Fudd like voice just to break the monotony but even that grew thin after a few times!
“Muskrat Love”Captain and Tennille (1976) Could the synthesizer generated muskrat courting/screeching sounds BE more grating?
“Midnight At The Oasis” - Maria Muldaur (1974) The slightly suggestive lyrics tell of a dessert love affair but it rates right down there with Muskrat Love!
“MacArthur’s Park”Richard Harris – (1968) This so called lovers lament goes on forever – or at least feels like it – and is orchestrated to the hilt. The only reason this song continues to be played is to give the announcer time to run out for coffee!

The remake gone horribly wrong:
“Candy Man"Sammy Davis Jr. (1972) I was never a fan of Sammy, but this one just oozed sugar to the point of nausea! The song is originally from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and was sung by Aubrey Woods who played Bill the candy store owner in the film. I’ll take the original any day!

Songs about places and experiences:
“Sky Pilot”Eric Burdon & The Animals (1968) This is a 7:27 war song from the Vietnam era with flight and weapon effects thrown in. Not something a pacifist wants to keep hearing.
"Mull of Kintyre" - Paul McCartney and Wings (1977) I loved the Beatles and I really like a lot of the stuff that Paul has done over the years, but I HATE bagpipes and this song is enough to make me want to huck some haggis at him!
“Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald” - Gordon Lightfoot – Don’t get me wrong here, I love Gordon Lightfoot, BUT this so called melody of this song is so drab. The lyrics, which are based on the real sinking of the ship are so depressing that it makes me want to sink every copy of it to the bottom of Lake Superior!

Well, those are the songs I’d rate as bottom of my request list. After I wrote this list – and looked up some info for each of them - I made the mistake of searching for worst songs ever and was unfortunately reminded of a LOT more I could have added. Perhaps, after I’ve had sufficient time to recover from this post, I’ll do a part two. For now, my original 20 was all I could handle! Heck, I couldn’t even bring myself to find audio/video links for any of them. Writing this post was nauseating enough! If you really want to hear any of them for yourself, type any of the titles into Google or YouTube and I’m sure you’ll find a copy of it somewhere! Just don’t blame me, for any nausea or damage you may cause after listening to these songs.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

dn’s Sinsational Chocolate Pizza

I had been looking for a brownie fruit pizza recipe for awhile, but just couldn’t find one that I thought would suit my chocoholic needs. So, I decided to create my own.

My criteria? I wanted a brownie crust from scratch – not a mix. I wanted the cream cheese filling to be chocolate flavoured not just sweetened with a bit of sugar and citrus peel as most recipes were. I knew I could use a wide variety of fresh fruits so there was no problem there. My brownie recipe had almonds in it but I also wanted more almonds on top – roasted almonds to bring out a real nutty flavour. Most recipes I saw, had either a glaze or semisweet chocolate drizzled over the top. Not mine! I wanted bittersweet chocolate!

Now, if I could create that kind of a dessert pizza, I would be a very happy chocoholic!!

If you think about it, this is actually a well balanced dessert.
• A variety of fresh fruits = fruit/vegetables
• Almonds in base and on top = meat/alternatives
• Cream cheese filling = dairy
• Brownie base = grains

Okay, maybe I’m stretching the truth a little bit but once you read my recipe – or better yet make it and taste it - I’m sure you will agree that I have come up with a pretty unique version that is truly sinful!

dn’s Sinsational Chocolate Pizza

Brownie base
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 - 2 1/2 cups freshly cut up fruit such as strawberries, cherries, mango, kiwi, grapes, etc.
1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter or margarine


Line a 12” pizza pan with foil, then spray with Pam. Preheat oven to 375°.

Prepare brownie batter as follows: Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and almonds and set aside. Combine the margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Mix into dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. Spread onto prepared pizza pan. Bake at 375° for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

While the base is baking and cooling, prepare the fruit and set the cut fruit in a strainer to remove any excess liquid.

Before turning the oven off, place the almonds in a shallow pan in the oven to toast for about 5 minutes – stirring once or twice. Allow to cool completely while preparing the rest of the dessert.

While the base is cooling, beat cream cheese, cocoa powder and sugar with an electric mixer, until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over brownie crust to within about 1/2 inch of the edge.

Spread fruit mixture over cream cheese layer; sprinkle with cooled toasted almonds.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Drizzle over fruit. Refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour to allow chocolate to set then cover until serving. Serves 12-14. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

- A store bought brownie mix could be used for the base, but I prefer one from scratch as there is less salt and sugar.
- You could also add some WELL drained pineapple chunks to the fruit mix but I wouldn’t recommend bananas, apples or other fruits that can go soggy or turn brown quickly.
- The cream cheese filling could be flavoured in different ways such as adding 2 teaspoons of fresh grated lemon or orange peel with or without the cocoa powder.
- Substitute pecans or walnuts for the almonds if preferred.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

Doug and Judy - The Romance (Part Two)

(Editor’s Note: Last week, I posted part one of this love story and today, I am proud to post part two. Here’s Judy - in her own words - to share the rest of the story.)

" Doug and Judy - The Romance" (Part Two)

Our romance was short lived at that time. Doug was in the Army and returned after his leave. On his next visit we again dated and I met his mother. She was a sweet, sweet lady, of course she had a wonderful son! She made a beautiful rag doll and gave it to me. I still have that doll today. Before Doug returned to the Army this time, he asked me to marry him. I was euphoric and sad at the same time. I could not marry him then. My father had died just a few months ago, my mother had just had surgery for breast cancer, my sister was 8 years old and my brother was in the Air Force, I could not leave my family at that time when I was needed so badly.

Doug had found a job in Milwaukee . When he returned for a visit he told me again that he loved me and that I was the perfect one for him, but I still could not marry him. The timing was just not right. On his next visit he told me he had met another girl and was going to marry her as he did not believe that there was a chance of our marrying each other. We said our goodbyes and I wished him well - he left me then and my heart broke in two.

Over the years I would think of Doug . I wondered where he was now and I still heard his words that he loved me. Those words haunted me and stayed with me as I went from 29 to 30 and 39 to 40. I would talk to God and ask Him where Doug was and did he ever think of me? Was he still married, did he have children? Please, God, was Doug still alive? 49 to 50 and I began looking in phone books of other cities that I visited. I went online and entered his name - there were a lot of people with his last name and more than one Douglas, but the city just didn't seem right.

My life from 20 to 70 was not boring. I loved music; singing and dancing. In my mid 20's I was an Arthur Murray dance instructor. It lasted less than a year as women instructors were required to wear high heels. Wearing heels for 6 hours while others walked on my feet more than I did convinced me to go into another line of work.

Then in my 30's I met John . He was a good man and kind to me. He asked me to marry him and gave me a beautiful ring. We were together for 18 years but never got around to getting married. At 49 I decided to go on my own again.

I worked, had my friends, had my music and I had my faith in God that what will be will be. I was contented and not lonely. I retired at 65 and was at peace with myself.........and I thought of Doug .....

I had several girlfriends online and we exchanged Emails and met in online rooms. Several of them opened Facebook accounts and asked me to join them. I didn't see the value in it but went ahead and joined also. I didn't go there very often but I did from time to time.

On December 15, 2009 I had checked my Facebook account. Nobody I knew was on it so I was about to leave when I spotted a window that said "who are you looking for". Without even thinking I typed in " Doug P___ ". Not expecting anything to appear I was shocked to see a picture of a man I had never seen before. I read his profile which said he was from Eau Claire and 73 years old and single. Oh my gosh! Could that really be THE Doug? I decided I would write him a note:

"Hello Doug . Periodically I checked phone books, etc. to see if I could find you again. When I saw you were from Eau Claire I thought I would drop you a line. I'm from Chippewa Falls and Doug P___ and I used to date...........way back when. I see that you are 73 and I'm 71 so maybe we are the same people. I was just curious if you were the same Doug I once knew. My name is Judy D_____ . If that rings a bell please drop me a line. I'm not on Facebook very often but will check back to see if you replied. Bye for now."

I checked back the next day and found this reply:

"Girl, what a surprise. Yes I am the same Doug . I have been searching for you for several years. Please send me a note to my e-mail address and include yours. (e-mail address enclosed) I live be near my children. Wife died a few years ago."

We began an online courtship that warmed our hearts.

Proposal # 3 - he asked me again to marry him and this time I said yes. Within 3 weeks he made the 5 hour trip to visit me and we were going to marry right then. But as we made plans we realized that we were moving too fast. There were major decisions to be made and he returned home...both of us broken hearted again. We continued writing and spent hours each day online renewing our friendship, our love and making plans. We reset the date! In January he returned again, this time with a beautiful diamond ring which I proudly wear. He still loved me and still thought I was the perfect one for him. Me? I realized that he was the one man whom I had loved over a 50 year span and I will become his wife on September 18, 2010 . He told me that I was "the love of his life" and I told him "I would love him for life".

There is no end to this story.................not ever............................not on this earth!

written by: Judy D.


Judy, thank you for letting me share this wonderful love story! I hope the two of you have many wonderful years together!!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Doug and Judy - The Romance (Part One)

Back on March 21 of this year, I posted a story that my good friend Judy had written, titled “The Princess’s Bed – A Tale Of Woe”. At the end of that story I shared that Princess Judy had another true life tale to tell. Today, I am proud to post part one of her two part story.

So, here – in her own words - is Judy to tell the tale!

"Doug and Judy - The Romance" (Part One)

Looking back to 1956 from an older and wiser position in 2010, one sees the beauty of a gentler society. One in which, not only neighbors, but yet unmet people cared about the freedom and safety of others.

This was my generation, my years of learning about life.

I was born into a loving, caring family where Dad always supported us and Mom made a loving home. I adored my older brother and my 7 year old sister was more like a living doll for me to love. My story begins when I was 18 years old.

Every small city has favorite fun spots for young people and in 1956, dance halls were the fun places to be. Oh I was a dancer - loving every minute I was on the dance floor. The Jitterbug or Lindy, as we called it, was full of pep and energy which I had an abundance of. My place of choice was The Hoot. The place to be for 18 to 21 year olds. The Hoot was between two cities, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls . I was a Chippewa girl, and the lure of an Eau Claire boy was an exciting adventure. Having gone to The Hoot for a while, I had met boys from Eau Claire and looked forward to the weekends for dancing and maybe meeting someone new and exciting.

One Friday evening "the guys from Eau Claire " casually strolled in the door. This night there was a "new" face with them. My girlfriends and I saw him right away and I was smitten. He was sooo cute...and shy.

Eventually we were introduced - Judy met Doug . I remember making sure when I danced that I was at that end of the hall. The night ended with no other plans made, but there is still Saturday night. Saturday night he was there again and this time he spoke to me and we talked. He asked me out for the following Saturday night and I was thrilled.

Fussing over what dress I would wear, it was a toss-up between a pink flowered dress and a beautiful yellow sundress. Being fair skinned and pale, I so wanted a tan to show off my dresses that I decided to spend the day at the beach, in the sun. Like a foolish girl I did everything I could to get a tan. The day was overcast (bad news) so I would swim to get wet and lie on the beach. No suntan lotion in those days. I was there for hours then returned home to get ready for my big date. I, unfortunately, looked more like a red lobster than a tanned beauty - but red was better than washed out white. I dressed in my pretty pink sundress with its crinoline netted underskirt and fussed with my black hair.

I was ready when Doug called for me and he met my Mother. She liked him very much and my little sister gave me a wink. We went to Eau Claire to see a movie. As the evening progressed so did my sunburn and my evening turned into misery. The netting in my underskirt rubbed painfully on my poor legs so I casually scooted forward and went on my tiptoes to get the netting off the back of my legs. I then slipped my fingers under the dress straps to hold them off my throbbing shoulders. I don't remember what the movie was about! When the movie ended we got in the car and started moving. The movement made me awfully sick to my stomach. Doug drove through Carson Park and we stopped and sat on a picnic table and talked. I was getting sicker by the minute. Doug knew what was wrong also and with deep regret I asked him to please take me home.

He was so kind and gentle and I liked him so much that I regretted that my foolish pride had ruined the evening.

When I walked in our front door my Mother was so surprised and asked what was wrong. I told her my stomach was upset and that I hurt so badly. I laid down on the davenport and she put Noxzema on my burns then told me to go to bed. I tried to get up but couldn't move. She got me to my feet and I went upstairs to bed. In the morning when I got up I was so miserable I put cold water on my burning face. The next thing I remember is staring at the ceiling and Mom kneeling next to me. She had heard me fall and came to see what had happened and found me lying as rigid as a board on the floor. She called the Doctor and he told her to take me to the hospital. I had gone into convulsions and had a sunstroke with 2nd & 3rd degree burns. I spent the next 4 days in the hospital. Doug called and Mom told him what had happened. I was listening to the radio in my hospital room and heard a request for " Judy in the hospital from Doug ". I was thrilled and falling in love.

written by: Judy D.

Judy's story concludes Sunday August 8, 2010.