Chômeur pudding-inspired

We all have times when maybe we whine too much or feel a little down and can’t quite snap out of it.

I didn’t even get a chance to visit the foster kittens today so the teenager got all the Zeus love today. See…

Perfect Kitten Zeus

She’ll be at the adoption fair at PetSmart this weekend. Speaking of cats, we have two new cats in our spare bedroom that may be staying with us for a while.

They are fosters in a way, belonging to someone who needs a little special support these days. I don’t have much, but I usually can find a way to help or share what I can.

But after being pushed out of my funk today, I offered to guide the teenagers in making chômeur pudding. Chômeur is the French word for unemployed person, and this dessert is a great super sweet dish that you can whip up when you are snowed in. Because it doesn’t require fancy ingredients!

I originally got the recipe from Post Punk Kitchen (a vegan site) but I couldn’t find a link so I used this old entry from my recipe blog: Chômeur Pudding. (I blogged every meal for about seven years!)

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 cup “milk” (soymilk if you’re vegan)
  • 4 tablespoons melted “butter” (margarine if you’re vegan, gotta love Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon flour

In a large glass baking dish (or I used my Le Creuset skillet), place brown sugar and flour from the syrup ingredients in the bottom. Add the water.

Mix dry cake ingredients. Add melted butter and milk. Mix gently. Plop in about six lumps in water. Bake at 375 degrees, 30-40 minutes.

It’s not pretty but the sauce on the bottom turns into caramel and the cake just soaks it in.

Brown bread in a can

A few weeks ago, when Nan and I went to Shoprite, I bought B&M Brown Bread (with raisins) in a can.

I love trying new food items and this appeared to be a rye bread made with molasses.

I heated it up today and served with cranberry almond chicken salad from Aldi. The molasses makes it more sweet than rye and gives in the texture of cake. I am quite fond of it.

YouTube videos of the prep and taste test:

Brown bread prep

Brown bread tasting

Can’t wait to see what the teens think!

Being a boss

Some days are a struggle.

The 9-month old cat “graybies” (gray babies— ha ha) broke into my room at 7:30 this morning. Fog meowed his way in, old man Opie followed, and Misty brought up the rear.

Fog curled up in bed with me making Nala the cockatoo very jealous so she was stomping her foot in her cage.

After I got out of bed (into the cold outside world), I fed the troops and decided to vacuum my room as Nala had decided to terrorize my parakeets and remove as many toys, newspapers and chunks of litter as she could from the cage.

The roomba was not picking up. He was roaming around the room happily but with no suction. So I went downstairs and carried the real vacuum cleaner to my bird-filled bedroom.

I clogged the hose.

It’s a rough morning when all the vacuums in the house gang up on you.

I got myself dressed, let the teenager fix both vacuums, and decided to try my luck with dark eyes and red lips.

Face by Baby Bat Beauty

I used my new Baby Bat Beauty cosmetics— eyeshadow in mechanical and lip gloss in trepidation. I’m pleased with the results.

Darnell (of Evolve Media) and myself (as a representative of Thrive Public Relations) had our regular lunch meeting with Sophia regarding her Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club. The sample copy of Lady Boss magazine is available on Issuu but we are looking forward to future expansion in style and content. That’s where Darnell and I come in.

Upon arriving home from our meeting, I tripped over a shipment of cat food and scraped my hands and knees. Upon cleaning up and changing from my bloodstained pants, I actually started working on copy for the next issue of Lady Boss.

All I’d had to eat today was some sushi and too much coffee, so when the time came to take the teenager to marching band, I realized I had the shakes.

I didn’t have my wallet though. I ordered a pizza from my phone via Little Caesars and had a free soft drink coupon for Wawa.

After inhaling the pizza and a diet ginger ale with all raspberry, vanilla and orange flavors, I attended a library board meeting as I am a trustee.

Now I have just enough time to pee before I run back to the school for the end of band rehearsal.

Not impressed with GrubHub

My dear friend Bill Prystauk of Crash Palace Productions gave me a $100 gift card from GrubHub to thank me for editing the latest installment in his Kink Noir novel series, Debauchery, which came out earlier this week.

I love Bill. We both love food. It’s a pandemic. The gift card was a thoughtful gift.

Last week I ordered sushi from Tokyo Sushi in downtown Easton. I have never had their sushi and wanted to compare it to Sogo Fusion Cuisine. More importantly— much more importantly— I wanted bubble tea.

Now, I didn’t realize you could order food for pick up and I would have easily done that as the restaurant is less than two miles away. But why use GrubHub for such an order when you can call the restaurant directly?

When my meal came, the sushi was amazing but there was no bubble tea. So I called the restaurant and asked if I could come get it. They said they didn’t have the flavor I requested so they didn’t charge me. But… I already paid GrubHub. I contacted GrubHub and they put the $4.24 cents into my account.

Tonight I’m in some pain and discomfort from my back. I thought a nice meal might help. GrubHub had sent me a promo code for $10 off a $30 order.

I wanted to try Braai Hut in Bethlehem as I am a fan of most African cuisines and I can make a pretty badass peri-peri sauce. I noticed they have lamb strips in peri-peri and an African form of vegetarian baked beans.

I started ordering. Now, here comes the next thing about GrubHub that completely annoys me. I had $29 in my cart instead of $30. Instead of letting me add more food, it just deletes the promo code.

So I go back to my email and click the “redeem now” button again.

The meal arrives promptly. I am very exciting to be supporting a new, small, local and ethnic restaurant.

I ordered:

  • Lamb strips with the beans and sweet potato fries
  • A chicken slaw burger with coleslaw

I received:

  • One order of chicken kebabs with sweet potato fries and roasted corn
  • A chicken bacon burger with coleslaw

Now, they probably ran out of beans and lamb and the screw up on the burger wasn’t the end of the earth.

But if restaurants don’t have what they have listed on GrubHub they need to have some way for the restaurant to connect with me the end user.

Because I so did not want chicken kebabs.

The corn was the best part of the meal but also the cheapest side on the menu.

I was disheartened, once again, that the whole reason I placed the order was not honored.

But now my next dilemma— to whom do I complain? I guess GrubHub.

But in their help menu they don’t have an option for “they gave me the wrong food.” I decided to click on “an item was missing.” Because my lamb was missing. And my beans.

They don’t offer a place to explain the problem, just let you click off the menu. So I clicked lamb. GrubHub refunded my meal.

Now I’m worried they are going to take that money away from the small business.

And I don’t want that.

For my final GrubHub order, I’m going to select a major chain. Then I won’t feel bad complaining if they screw it up.

But I think that will be my last GrubHub order. I’m more a #curbsidefirst girl.

Here’s the video of me “unboxing” my meal: First Meal from Braai Hut

Saturday morning silly

First, let me say— hats off to the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Her time on the Supreme Court, her legacy and the documentary film on her life, RBG, have touched millions of people— male and female—who may or may not know how her thoughts and actions have influenced their lives.

My posting lately has been inconsistent because I have been finishing some grants and the annual report for ASPIRE to Autonomy, Inc. The former I must give credit to my amazing interns Kayla and Sarah, and the latter is in the hands of my talented graphic designer (and partner in crime) Gayle.

Who else would take it in stride when I jokingly send photos like this (below) for the annual report and understand my hastily scrawled notes?

In the midst of it all, I’m still looking for a job, dealing with paperwork, adapting to hybrid school and ever present teenagers (who truly bring laughter and vibrancy into my life), socializing the foster kittens, developing a routine for the sassy cockatoo, battling the teen-and-pet laundry mountain, and collecting hospital bills. And poorly trying to find time and energy to improve my own health and return to weight training.

But this is a Saturday Silly Post!

So random sillies…

Yesterday Darnell popped over to finalize some projects for ASPIRE. He got hungry for a sandwich so I recommended my non-downtown spot. If you are in downtown Easton, the best spot for a sandwich is Josie’s New York Deli.

But when you’re not downtown, the place to go for a sandwich is Park Avenue Market. But they are slow. It takes them forever to make a hoagie. But they are pieces of art.

Darnell had his mind blown by their Dietz and Watson Bacon Lovers Turkey Breast and Bacon Lovers cheddar.

I tried the seafood salad with the dill havarti and shared it with the teenager. But the teenager was in a bit of an impatient frenzy because her Universal Yums box from Colombia came. So, Darnell was kind enough to film our unboxing video.

Colombia Universal Yums unboxing

In addition, I got my Ipsy bag, which had a tiny Tarte mascara (the cutest mascara I’ve ever seen), some color correction crème, and a day-to-night eyeshadow palette very similar to my all time favorite but darker shades so I offered that to the teenager. Her skin tone is darker than mine and I thought it would suit her well.

I’m really tempted to upgrade to the Glam Bag Plus.

And finally, on Thursday, my creative friend Joan came over and asked Nan to join us, so when I went to get Nan we went to Dunkin Donuts since the weather has changed to brisk Autumn. And we got her opinion on the new stuffed bagel minis.

Nan’s review: Nan’s review of stuffed bagel minis

And if you missed the teenager and I in our earlier review: New Dunkin stuffed bagel minis

Remember folks— the fun is in the little things.

The non-linear days

PART ONE: GLUTTONY

I had to face my pandemic denial today— due to the stressful nature of my last professional position, I’ve been stress eating more than I’ve admitted the last few months.

(And if you read this blog, you know I’ve been fairly transparent about my ability to each an entire Dominos or Little Caesar’s pizza. So imagine the late night bags of chips and the multiple doughnuts I haven’t told you about.)

Today I hit a new body weight high. And none of my pants fit. So it was sobering.

And I know part of that is my good intentions gone wrong.

Yesterday the morning started with breakfast with my dad and the teenager. I had coffee, a broccoli feta omelette, home fries, dry rye toast and cranberry juice.

I was proud of my choice because I haven’t had vegetables enough recently and I could bring half of my meal home for today. It was too delicious. So I decided I would skip or have a light lunch.

But then I stress ate a doughnut.

Then my dad and step mom invited me to the pub for dinner. My step mom wanted pizza so I thought I’d have a beer and a slice. I think I ate the equivalent of a whole bar pizza.

This year has not been one of discipline

It’s 7:23 pm and I’m watching the marching band rehearse so my daughter can drive home… I’ll make7,000 steps today but not my goal of 10K.

PART TWO: WARLOCK CRAFT BEER REVIEW

At Three Mugs Pub yesterday, I ordered a salted caramel chocolate Saucony Creek, a craft beer label I typically enjoy. Chocolate stouts and porters tend to be my favorite beers.

They didn’t have it. So I ordered a Warlock instead.

Warlock is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company. It was smooth and not obnoxious in its seasonal flavor. And caused more of a buzz than I was expecting given all the food I ate.

PART THREE: CHICKEN BONE BROTH

Earlier— on Tuesday—while the teenager was still hanging out with my dad…

I finally turned off my crock pot that had been brewing the chicken bones of a whole young roaster I bought at Grocery Outlet on Saturday for $4. I made the chicken in the crock pot that day, returned the bones and skin to the crockpot and kept filling it with water until Tuesday noon.

I carefully poured it all out and squeezed all the goodness out of the now soft bones. I also started a pot of soup on the stove. The yield was nice.

PART FOUR: TRIGGERED

I started my day with coffee— fighting an unusual sluggishness and some unexpected difficulty with my menstrual cycle.

Last week, I had started thinking about my psychological triggers. I have long known that I have an obsessive attitude toward food. Not in the disordered eating way, but in a hoarding kind of way.

I don’t actually hoard food, but seeing a piece of fruit rot or having to throw out an out-of-date food product upsets me far more than it should.

It usually serves me well, but it backfires sometimes and missteps with food can make me unreasonably angry.

Let’s bring this back to that chicken— I didn’t need that chicken. I didn’t even want that chicken. But that was a huge roaster chicken for $4.

I made soup and froze it for the first cold day of the fall season. (I’m not even fond of chicken soup). I separated the white meat and the dark meat and froze that for future use. And I made bone broth.

That’s a lot of food for $4. Good, healthy protein. But… it’s not food I enjoy. So why?

But then this morning as I was drinking my coffee, I heard two people arguing. It was a loud verbal altercation. This is one of my triggers I forgot about— and it’s one I understand. My parents had a lot of verbal arguments and if I’m honest (forgive me for saying so Mom and Dad) if they had enough alcohol the fights could get violent and ugly. There weren’t that many over the years, but enough to create an even more terrifying environment than the mere alcoholism that existed in my childhood home.

So I surveyed my surroundings and couldn’t see anyone. My chest was tightening and my stomach dropping and that odd little internal tremble shook me.

These incidents were frequent when my previous neighbors screamed profanities at each other and threw objects and each other at the walls. It terrified me. They were literally on the other side of the wall, similar to my parents. When I didn’t stand there paralyzed and watch them.

I am not convinced what happened this morning, but I suspect my neighbor had some sort of television program playing in her car.

PART FIVE: THRIFT STORE

I promised the teenager a trip to our favorite thrift store. She bought supplies for her father’s birthday craft and two belts. I bought approximately three skirts, four pairs of business slacks, one pair jeans and one pair corduroys.

Since I can’t try things on, I got everything from size 7 to 10. Far cry from my normal 2 or 4, or my spare/ baggy sizes 6 to 8.

$43.50.

None of the professional pants fit. The red jeans (Old Navy low cut Rockstar 10) fit but are snug. The corduroys fit (size 8). One size 8 skirt fits, the other two did not. The medium skirt fit.

I’m sorry, guys. I also wanted to update you on Aspire to Autonomy, Lady Boss Entrepreneurs Club and some recent make-up unboxing from Dolls Kill and Target.com. But I’m wiped out and this is really long. Oh — and William Prystauk’s third novel appeared on Amazon.com today so now you can read the latest Kink Noir masterpiece and get your mystery/romance/crime/BDSM on.

More tomorrow?

In the meantime: enjoy this unboxing video:

Unboxing a Dolls Kill package

Silly, sweet Saturday

So, I have come to the conclusion that all I have to do is call Nan and ask, “Are you busy?” and she will grab her white cane and meet me by the door.

Unless NASA has something going on— like a hatch opening or a spacewalk or a launch or a capture.

Today the teenager got up early, at 8 a.m., which in teen time is somewhere between “I had no idea the sun came up this early” and “wow, I can eat breakfast at actual breakfast time.”

Speaking of breakfast, the foster kittens have learned the word “breakfast” and their little ears perk up when you say it.

The teen wanted to go to Petco and Dollar Tree, while Nan and I had our eye on a brief trip to Grocery Outlet to look for smoothies and lentil pasta. Their circular advertised Bird’s Eye steam-in-bag lentil pasta, which Nan and I both like, for 99 cents.

It normally runs $3-4 per bag.

As a blind person, Nan likes the fact that she can make lentil pasta without dealing with boiling water as one has to do with traditional pasta and it’s not a mushy mess of preservatives like canned pasta.

We were both disappointed to discover that they only had lentil/zucchini pasta with olive oil, as opposed to the “sauced” varieties.

But I get ahead of myself. As I mentioned yesterday (see Growing Up), the teenager is now driving. This trip with Nan— because of course she said yes she’d come— would be her first trip with the teen behind the wheel.

Yesterday, we not only drove several highways but I took her to Wendy’s to try the drive-through. She aced that.

We set a rendezvous time with Nan for 10 a.m. and head to the car with a sneak peak at the garden. My fancy little imported peppers have started to grow, and the massive pumpkin vine that originated in my compost heap has started to yield pumpkins not on the ground but on my fence.

Petco passed without incident and Grocery Outlet had minimum disruption as well. But the teenager found Maple Doughnuts (as a brand name) in an unlabeled decadent 12 pack that weighed at least four pounds for $1.99.

“Quality you can see since 1946,” I chuckled while reading that to Nan.

The plan quickly morphed into a trip for coffee at Dunkin’ and doughnuts from Grocery Outlet. The teenager helped us load up the car and she headed to the Dollar Tree and we contemplated beverages.

Except McDonald’s was closer and cheaper. By the time the teen returned we were still deciding because I had a coupon for “buy one milkshake and get one for a penny.” But we had doughnuts.

Nan wanted a chocolate shake but protested that she was pretty sure drinking milkshakes before 11 a.m. was frowned upon, in the same manner as day drinking.

I assured her it would be 11 by the time we received the milkshakes.

So I ordered one small chocolate and one medium strawberry milkshake and one large Diet Coke.

One of us had to pretend to be sensible.

10:35 a.m.

The drive thru is ridiculous. But that’s how it is now. The line at the McDonald’s is like a trip to the DMV whereas getting your learner’s permit at the DMV is relatively instantaneous. Another Covid-19 reality.

11 a.m. — to the minute— we receive the shakes. Nan and the teenager split a chocolate doughnut. I eat a cake doughnut with icing and crystallized sugar. And then a glazed donut with chocolate icing and a thick layer of maple icing.

A relaxed and joyful start to a sweet Saturday morning.

Those days

Today was one of those days where I got a variety of outstanding projects done, slept better than usual, barely got any steps in and felt like I made an impact working on Aspire to Autonomy’s annual report for 2019-2020.

As I’ve mentioned it’s an exciting time to be part of this team and the interns working in my department bring so much enthusiasm and knowledge to the table that it is a joy to mentor them.

I even practiced my chopstick skills with the teenager’s tutelage so I would embarrass myself less at future sushi meetings. We used old toothbrushes and I could only master the “cheater” method.

The teenager rescued Buddy (the dog next door) from an empty house as his human has been spending a lot of time away from home.

It was a dreary day today— the weather hospitably cool— but my mood shifted later in the day, I think due to not eating enough.

I found myself irritable over things I have no right to be irritable about.

Large sodas at Wendy’s require a life jacket

I drove the teenager to marching band and then sneaked to Wendy’s for a vanilla Frostyccino and since they had a coupon for a $1 soft drink I got my neighbor a Diet Coke.

Of course, I already got a $2 iced coffee from Dunkin’ today. Buddy joined us for the ride and Darnell joined us for coffee.

So that means I’ve had three cups of coffee today.

But there is something soothing about being alone in the car. Even the long drive thru line wasn’t a bother. It allowed me to sit quietly and reflect, and to people-watch.

Sometimes a peaceful moment comes from what otherwise might be an annoyance.

Why I Aspire

It’s been an exciting week for Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., and an even more exciting Friday night!

As early as Monday, the communications team at Aspire will be sending out a press release talking about all of this excitement. If you are reading this, you are getting a taste of what the media will learn Monday.

On Monday, our new team of 6+ social work interns from the graduate programs of Kutztown and Marywood universities started work with Aspire. So it’s great to have new people with new energy and new voices.

In the middle of the week, as Darnell and I were trying to put the finishing touches on the organization’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, Amber let us know that Northampton County had approved Aspire’s grant application for more than $8,000 to provide masks and hand sanitizer to the underserved and unsheltered.

Today, Aspire learned that Just Born has awarded the Community Intervention Service pilot program a $2,500 grant.

On top of all of this, Aspire had the opportunity to host a hot meal distribution of quality vegetarian Indian food from Aman’s Artisanal Indian Cuisine on Northampton Street in downtown Easton.

Aman’s worked with Lehigh Valley Sikhs to pay for and prepare these generous meals that Aspire distributed to the elderly, disabled and other underserved individuals identified as part of the Communities Impacting Communities program, primarily in West Ward, Easton, but also in Wilson borough.

Bulk meal distributions happened at Third Street Alliance for Women and Children and other Lehigh Valley non-profits. I helped distribute some meals at Third Street, with teenager in tow, and delivered others to families in my own neighborhood who I know have been furloughed since the beginning of the pandemic.

As I was leaving, Darnell gave me one of the single person bags to give to my blind, senior citizen friend, Nan.

I hadn’t even thought about her— her fixed income, her disability, her reliance on friends for what she needs, and her age. To me, she’s just my good friend and partner in crime. I was touched that Darnell remembered Nan and wanted the outreach to help her too.

This is why I Aspire—the Lehigh Valley is one of the most populated regions in the state. Its transportation infrastructure makes every other region of the country super accessible. It has proximity to New York City, Philadelphia and the New Jersey shipping ports.

Human trafficking happens here and it may not look like what you expect it to look like.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.

Aspire to Autonomy wants to find trafficking victims and give them the tools and support they need to rebuild an independent life. But they are forward-thinking and broad-reaching and grassroots in their vision.

They celebrated their second anniversary in July and they are gaining momentum every day.

Their anti-trafficking vision also helps strengthen our communities and forges partnerships and connections that hopefully will improve life for every underserved citizen. Because traffickers prey on the vulnerable, and if we strengthen our bonds in our neighborhoods, traffickers won’t have a place to hide. Or a place to hunt.

This is Why I Aspire. Anti-trafficking may sound like a niche, but helping our neighbors is not.

So, as I wrote this, Nan finished her first meal of the goodies from Aman’s that I brought her. As a blind person, she couldn’t quite recall what everything was but she offered strong reviews of the deliciousness.

She had some of the “cross between vegetable soup and vegetarian chili” (lentil and black bean curry) and loved the “cucumber salad” (cucumber salad with chick peas) and had to dip a spoon in the “fruity pudding” (sweet pudding). She reports that the individual bag is at least two meals, but the cucumber salad probably won’t last the night.

She confirmed that she has never had Indian food before and that she is now a fan.

And she asked me—after making me promise to thank Darnell, “is it okay to have Indian food for breakfast?”

Reviews, unboxing & YouTube

It started with an “eating things” video at Dunkin Donuts as I had to visit the notary at AAA to finalize my car refinancing paperwork.

I’ve wanted to try their stuffed bagel minis and they were definitely worth the trip. They are half the calories of a real bagel with cream cheese (though about the same price) and have I believe 6 and 7 grams of protein respectively for the plain and everything flavors.

The plain were a tad boring and tasted like doughy bagel cream puffs. The everything stuffed mini bagels were the favorite for both the teenager and I— and she doesn’t like everything bagels.

In this “eating things” video (perhaps I should consider adopting the term ‘mukbang’ though I do believe those are more focused on gluttony than silly, two generation food reviews), the teenager and I enjoy multiple items at Dunkin, too many items!

I must say we are a ridiculous pair, Trying mini stuffed bagels at Dunkin

When the teenager left for Marching Band practice (praise the Lord that despite the Coronavirus pandemic these band geeks can have their fun and hard work. It’s the closest thing to ‘hanging out with friends’ allowed), the postman delivered my Baby Bat Beauty package of three glittery eyeshadows, mascara and three lip colors.

I’m very pleased with my purchases but I do worry that I may not be able to pull off a bolder Goth look.

Watch me unbox on YouTube here: Baby Bat Beauty Unboxing

Tomorrow, I hope the teenager will join me in experimenting with new looks and we can do a follow-up post.

Red lips and glass slipper eyes

And in the evening, the teenager’s dad came over so we could walk over to her high school and listen to her marching band practice. Here they are rehearsing: Marching Band working on the Avatar show

So all in all it was a busy YouTube day. And I’m excited to try more of my new cosmetics.