Frances Ellen Speaks!

Ideas, Thoughts, Memoirs, and News
August 25th, 2014

A Kitchen Diet Tip

kitchen-50s

Here;s a tip that originated back in the 60s. My mother closed her kitchen between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., depending on when we finished eating our dinner and washing the dishes.

I mean she literally closed the kitchen, same as a restaurant. No food went out of her kitchen unless it was something “dry.” She went as far as drying the sink with her dishtowel, and that spigot never got turned on again until breakfast. Really!

She figured her job was done. The evening hours were for rest and relaxation.

Consequently, eating was kept to a minimum. Any utensils you might need to use were a “no-no” since they’d have to be rinsed in the sink. Think about it. There were no microwaves, so you couldn’t pop popcorn. Fruit was an option and I remember I ate a lot of pretzels (even then I think I was addicted to carbohydrates). But funny thing–I don’t remember being hungry because I was busy doing homework or talking on the phone or watching TV.

Thinking back–I wasn’t eating in the evenings. And I was skinny!

It wasn’t until I got to high school and began to stuff my mouth with a lot of junk food at lunchtime that I started putting on a few pounds.

August 18th, 2014

Diet–More Good Food, Less Bad Food

I’ve been thinking…what was I doing differently back when I was skinny.

Looking back, I know I ate some carbs, but without really thinking about it, I did actually eat a little better and (and this is big), I didn’t eat out as often. I cooked! And I think that’s how I monitored what I ate a little better.

The thing about eating in restaurants all the time is although your good intentions are spot-on and you walk into the restaurant thinking you will order something healthy, once you take a look at that menu, all can be lost. (and often is) And even if you stick to your guns and order a salad or some other healthy selections, beautiful bread is brought to the table with that scrumptious sweet butter and you’re pretty much vanquished.

I always say to myself one slice of bread with butter won’t hurt, but then I only use half a pat of butter and I feel obliged to spread the remaining butter on a second slice of bread, especially if it’s warm and crusty. That wouldn’t happen if I were in my own kitchen.

I know you’re thinking, it’s easier to go out and let someone else take charge of the cooking. But I think there are some kitchen tricks we can try and stay in at least two or three evenings and satisfy ourselves with a great meal.

Next week I’ll explore that possibility.

August 11th, 2014

Small Town, USA – Part 5

One of the differences between living in a big city as opposed to living in a small town is the types of crimes that are committed.

A city may have murders and kidnappings and bank robberies; a town has its share of petty robberies but murders may not have caught up to the small town yet., There is a big difference in the conduct of the citizens though.

Big city people check all their locks before going to sleep. Townspeople just hope for the best. Maybe it’s because big-time violence hasn’t arrived yet. Here is a sample of the type of crimes being perpetrated in my town.

Two weeks ago, a thief stole a bunch of lawn sprinkling heads from a nursery garden. Tell me what kind of person says to himself, “What can I steal tonight? Oh, I know, I’ll steal me some sprinkling heads.”

A couple of months ago, someone broke into a pickup truck. There were all sorts of safety equipment and a satellite radio among other pricey things, but the thief must have been thirsty because all he took was a can of soda and two AA batteries. Sorry, I can’t explain the batteries. We have some really quirky thieves.

The biggest theft that I can remember was a missing car, however the guy left his keys in the ignition and the car door unlocked. Oops. But that isn’t as uncommon as you would think.

Lots of people leave their car doors unlocked. It must be force of habit when you’ve grown up in a small town. The thing is while they were playing in the schoolyard, and graduating from high school and later raising a family, their small town grew up with them. It was a smaller town back then.

Times they are a-changin’.

August 4th, 2014

Small Town, USA – Part 4

I tell you more crazy things happen in my supermarket at the deli counter. I guess it’s because aside from twiddling your thumbs while waiting for your number to be called, there’s nothing much to do, well except people-watch which I confess I’m prone to–a lot.

For instance, last week I found myself staring at the mature woman, okay very, very old woman, standing a few feet away from me. I stared because I never (no exaggeration) saw a woman’s face with so many channels of wrinkles before. My guess is she had spent a lot of days in the sun and it had taken an awful toll. But that wasn’t the most striking thing about her.

The thing is, she had taken great pains to put a full face of make-up on. And it was beautifully done. I know because I was a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant for ten years way back when. As a matter of fact, because I spent  time as a consultant, I rarely leave the house without some kind of make-up on myself: lipstick, blush and sometimes eyebrow pencil. This particular day, I was spruced up pretty good.

I hadn’t noticed her looking at me, but she must have because she leaned toward me and said, “I like your make-up. It’s perfect for you.”

I responded, “I was just thinking the same thing about you.”

She smiled and said, “Well, I’d say we’re both still kickin’ it.” She chuckled as she walked toward the produce department.

These are the wonderfully unexpected things that happen in a small town.

July 28th, 2014

Small Town, USA–Part 3

It appears that everyone in a small town talks more, at least that’s how it seems to me. I have more conversations at the deli counter than I ever had in the big, bad city.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the city and there are still things about it that I miss, but small towns, although microcosms of a large city’s population, the inhabitants are hellbent on holding conversations.

For example, last week I ordered some low-sodium boiled ham (I’m on a health kick. It will probably last a few more weeks.) Anyway, this lady standing next to me hears my order and she asks if I had ever tried Rosemary Ham. Who ever heard of Rosemary Ham? I don’t even remember seeing it in the display case, but sure enough when she orders it, the girl behind the counter doesn’t question her.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t know if they do this in every small town, but ours always offers the customer a taste before slicing off the order. Maybe they think everyone enters the store famished–who knows. So this lady gestures toward me and asks the girl to give me a slice too since I’ve never tasted Rosemary Ham. (Everyone in the deli area hears her request, but none of them looks surprised or for that matter bent-out-of-shape because we are holding things up while I get my all-important taste.)

I obediently take my slice and thank the girl. My new best friend has another piece of interesting news to relate. If I go to the bakery department, they sell the most delicious Rosemary Bread. She advises me to make a sandwich using this bread and to add cheddar cheese and mayo. She assures me that I will be in heaven.

Now, you think this is where I’m going to end by poo-pooing the whole episode don’t you, but I’m here to tell you, the woman knew what she was talking about. I wonder if her name was Rosemary?

July 21st, 2014

Small Town, USA–Part 2

What’s the first thing you learn when you live in a big city or anywhere for that matter–don’t tell anyone where you live!

So what do you think my reaction might have been when I met a man in the produce department of the supermarket and he asked, “Where do you live?”

We had been having a perfectly mundane conversation about the weather and how so many of the streets were flooded while we stood beside a display of eggplants. All of a sudden he veered off and asked me where I lived. I almost picked up one of the eggplants to smash  it over his head when I glanced at his face. He didn’t look like an aging lothario, so although my hand continued to rest on an eggplant, I stopped and gave my course of action some further thought.

You see, my town’s streets are divided alphabetically.  It occurred to me that he might be innocently asking what section I lived in, especially when he followed up his first question with, “I live in the E Section.”

Easing my hand off the eggplant, I smiled and answered, “I live in the Z Section.”

“Oh, nice area,” he remarked. “I have a friend who lives over there.”

Our conversation ended shortly after. Poor man had no idea he could have been tomorrow’s headline–Man Massacred With a Big, Juicy Eggplant By a Crazed Woman in the Produce Department.