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Change the Buttons

I’ve written before about updating your clothes at home. (See my 3/8/20 column Sassy Pants.) A few years ago, when the Sears store went out in Kokomo, I bought a teal winter coat. I loved it, but it had ugly brown buttons. Brown buttons don’t belong on a teal coat in the first place. They just didn’t make sense.

I know how to put on a button, so I decided I’d just switch them out. But what kind of button did I want? Silver would work. I might be able to find a teal that matched. Then I saw them: daisy buttons.

When I told my mom about switching out the buttons, she thought daisies were an odd choice for a winter coat. After all, daisies aren’t exactly a winter flower. But I told her that sometimes I need a bit of sunshine in the middle of winter.

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Café Créma Bruciato

Our son, Shawn, and his wife visited recently. They live in Dallas, TX. He moved there in 2007 to go to school. Shawn loves my cooking in general, but he always has one request when he visits: café créma bruciato.

For years Shawn’s favorite dessert was tiramisu, so I’d make that whenever he came up. I had found a great recipe in Cook’s Illustrated. For those who don’t know what tiramisu is, it’s a creamy custard dessert flavored with coffee and rum. The custard is layered with ladyfingers that have been quickly dipped in a mixture of coffee and rum. It’s rich and decadent.

One year I couldn’t find the ladyfingers I usually used. It clearly wasn’t as good as my usual. Ours is a family that discusses food in detail. We dissect recipes, new and old, so we can make them better. While we were discussing the tiramisu, Shawn said that what he really likes is the custard. He could do without the ladyfingers altogether.

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What Can We Do?

I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard there’s an ancient curse—may you live in interesting times. Well, we sure live in interesting times now.

I’m not qualified to give any medical advice. I’m not qualified to give advice of any kind. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve been thinking about what we can do to help others right now. After all, reaching out and helping others is one of the best ways to make yourself feel better.

The first thing that came to mind was all of those who are stuck at home. Whether they are people at risk due to age or fragile health or they are ill and staying in to protect the rest of us, they could probably use some help. Those of us who aren’t stuck at home can deliver supplies.

Restaurants and other small businesses are feeling the crunch of all those people staying home. Consider buying some gift cards. The businesses get the money now, while times are tight, and you have the cards to use later.

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We are big fans of leftovers. Because I am out and about a lot, it’s normal for me to make dinner 3 or 4 nights a week. The other nights we eat the leftovers. There are two important things to consider when it comes to leftovers—storing them and reheating them.

Storing leftovers is fairly simple. You want to keep moisture in and air out. It’s a good idea to allow food to come close to room temperature before putting it into the refrigerator. This keeps it from heating the foods around it in the fridge. Use plastic wrap or a reusable cover if you’re keeping the food in its serving dish, or transfer the food to an airtight storage container.

Reheating is a little trickier. Some foods reheat well in the microwave. But the microwave will compromise the texture of some foods. The one that comes to mind first is pizza. Pizza reheated in the microwave is unpleasant. The crust never has the feel of fresh pizza. It’s either soggy or chewy.

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Sassy Pants

I am known for dressing in bright colors. I dress mostly in tints—colors that seem to have a bit of light or white coming through. For years I’ve dressed in colorful tops, pairing them with just a few pairs of pants. My pants were navy, brown, khaki, or denim. You see, I don’t wear black or gray (long story). I can’t wear jeans to work at the assisted living facility most days, but I refuse to wear anything that isn’t extremely comfortable. These things narrowed my choices.

I had often wished I could find colorful pants to wear with my colorful tops, but the pants I could find were expensive, uncomfortable, or both.

Several months ago, I was working with my residents. We were making suncatchers. We use special paint pens that have plugs to keep the paint from leaking out or drying up. I dropped one of those plugs. It rolled down my top and onto my khakis. I wasn’t too worried. The paint is washable. It came right out of my top but not my khakis. I tried two different stain removers. No luck. My husband said I should use his gritty soap. I told him to have at it. Well, it took the paint right out. It also took out a quarter-sized circle of the khaki dye. Now my khakis had a white spot.

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Happy Dr. Seuss Day

Monday, March 2, is Dr. Seuss Day. I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss. My favorite of the Dr. Seuss stories is Yertle the Turtle. It’s the story of a turtle who is the king of all he can see. But, being a turtle, he can’t see far. So, he climbs on the back of another turtle. That’s better, but two turtles would be better than one. Soon he has all of the turtles stacked up, and boy, can he see far. Then a turtle at the bottom sneezes. Down they all fall, and Yertle the Turtle’s kingdom is once again limited. The tale is cute. It’s also a good lesson about pride.

Theodor Seuss "Ted" Geisel was born March 2, 1904. His middle name, Seuss, was actually pronounced to rhyme with “voice.” But, since most people pronounced it to rhyme with “goose,” he embraced that pronunciation for his pen name. He was an illustrator, poet, animator, screenwriter, filmmaker, and political cartoonist, as well as a children’s author. He wrote his first children’s book, And to Think I Saw It All on Mulberry Street in 1937. It’s said that he wrote Green Eggs and Ham to win a bet. The bet was that he couldn’t write a book that used no more than 50 different words. He won that bet, as Green Eggs and Ham uses exactly 50 individual words. In all, he wrote over 60 children’s books.

National Pancake Week

Do you like pancakes? This is a more difficult question for me to answer than you’d think. Pancake covers a wide range of flavors. A pancake is any “flat cake, often thin and round, prepared from a starch-based batter that may contain eggs, milk and butter and cooked on a hot surface such as a griddle or frying pan, often frying with oil or butter.” At least, that’s how it’s defined on Wikipedia. They can be sweet or savory. They can be topped or filled with just about anything. They can even be made from several different types of flour or even potato. They can be thin or thick. They can be fluffy, heavy, or light. Pancake can refer to everything from thick, buckwheat pancakes to thin crepes.

It’s thought that a form of pancake was one of the first foods made with grains. The ancient Greeks are known to have made pancakes out of wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk. Some ancient texts talk of them topped with honey, sesame, and cheese. In the Horn of Africa they make pancakes as a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. In Kenya they add extra sugar to the batter to sweeten the pancakes, so there’s no need to top them with anything.

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Happy National Sticky Bun Day

National Sticky Bun Day is February 21. What’s the difference between a sticky bun and a cinnamon bun? It’s the topping. Sticky buns have a sticky topping—caramel, honey, maple syrup, etc. Either can have nuts on top. If it’s got white icing, it’s a cinnamon bun. Oh, and only the sticky bun has a holiday all its own.

Here’s a quick, easy recipe for sticky buns from Pampered Chef. It mentions several Pampered Chef products in the directions. If you don’t have an All-Purpose Pot, you can use a deep pot with a bottom that’s about 9" in diameter. You can use any reasonable substitute for the other products. If you’d like more recipes, visit my website www.pamperedchef.biz/rae and click on Recipes.