Posts Tagged ‘family’

My word for 2017 is ….

January 3rd, 2017 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have done a lot of soul searching this holiday season. As per my usual routine, I drafted a few New Year’s type blog posts. None have seen the light of day as they didn’t quite hit the mark for how I’ve been feeling lately. I have been inspired by what some people have chosen as “their key word” for 2017 though. That got me thinking more deeply, hmmmm.

Although I have written a lot this past year, I have not posted much. Various family members have been experiencing their share of challenges, so my usual musings about food and nutrition didn’t quite feel right to post about in the grand scheme of things.

I did host a pre-Christmas get together with one of my sisters. I connected up with my many aunts to meet our new great nephew – Russel. I reflected on this get-together with awe about how lucky I am to have so many amazing women who are fabulous role models in my life in addition to my own Mom and Mom-in-law. Each has soldiered through their fair share of life’s challenges without the helicopter-type safety nets many young folks possess today. Yet each show up with smiles, love and enthusiasm, like always.

I am out at my hide-away as I write this and have been taking in the brisk winter outdoors with deeper reflection. On New Year’s Day I took the trek up snowy Knox Mountain. It’s is a love-hate thing – love it when I’m done and hate it while I’m trudging up…. a perfect way to contemplate life….

As I plodded along, it came to me: ROBUST!

  • This word sums up what my Moms and aunties have shown in their rich lives as they take on the world.
  • This explains the gumption you need to face an extreme challenge with courage, grit and a smile.
  • It goes deeper than merely “shaking a leg” in life, but losing one and making the best of it.
  • It’s what you need to break out of your routine and follow your dream.
  • It’s not spinning the yarn of mundane pettiness of the status quo, yet implies vitality & vigor, toughness & sturdiness, health & enthusiasm, to make a difference. Yes robust is my word this 2017.

May this word have meaning for you as you grab 2017 by the horns: Go forth and be ROBUST!

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

Back to School; Want to Make Food Fun?

September 1st, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Everything is so “back to school” these days. I have seen my share of ads, articles, tweets and blog posts about making food fun from sandwiches to breakfasts to snacks. Call me crazy, but are we that hedonistic that every dang thing we do needs to be fun, what gives?!

When it comes to food for kids (young and less young), here’s how to infuse fun inherently, listen up!

Grow It - I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel a sense of pride from eating something they’ve grown at home whether it’s tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon or herbs. Grow something; grow anything and you’ll create joy. Continue the growing season by bringing some herbs indoors as fall approaches.

Plan It – Round everyone up at home to decide what meals and snacks will be made and purchased each week. Use a team approach allowing everyone to have a say, while Mom and Dad lay the ground rules. Team-work makes everything more fun!

Prep It – Encourage everyone in the household to take part in preparing meals and snacks when age appropriate – whether it’s adding to the grocery list, grocery shopping, setting the table, measuring ingredients, chopping, cooking and cleaning up. Get kids to prepare their own lunch. Also, set a goal that your kids build a repertoire of making 6-12 family recipes to take with them when they fly from the nest. Here are some fast, easy recipes I love: Peppers & Eggs, Pasta Fagioli, Nan’s Veal Stew, Sugo! Crazy for Bolognese! Pasta Salad, Tomato Salad and Lettuce Salad – enjoy!

Share It – Breaking bread is a truly beautiful thing. Just like you book meetings at work, make meeting time at home over meals a priority that can’t be missed.

Savour It - As we live our lives in the fast lane aim to dial down the speed when you eat. Stop, find a quite place without distractions, slow down and eat your food savouring the taste to the MAX. If everyone did this, we wouldn’t need to seek out other stimuli to turn our crank. Savour the flavour people!

Enjoy It – With all of the “how to” info around food and eating, it seems something so very natural “the act of eating” has become so pre-scripted and unnecessarily complicated – eat this, don’t eat that – Ahhhh! Let’s lose the guilt around food and eating and enjoy food to the MAX!

So folks, when you infuse all of this into your eating repertoire you can forgo purchasing fluorescent coloured food or creating fruit-origami on your 3-year old’s plate to create fun when you don’t really need it.

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin', Who's Zoomin' Who?? | No Comments »

“Go Outside & Play!” Let the Broken Record Play on…

July 28th, 2015 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Let the Broken Record Play on – Focus on Free Play

Oh for the love of child’s play and activity in the peak of the summertime. School’s out and it’s time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. It’s every parent’s challenge to keep kids engaged and busy so you don’t hear the common mantra “I’m bored” until it’s back to school in September.

Who doesn’t love summer? It’s a perfect time to start a “movement movement” (as I describe in my book) and make a pact for the kids and parents to get and keep more active. As I sit here and write I can hear the birds chirping under the clear blue sky. It’s as perfect as any movie set, even better because it’s real.

Let’s reverse the abysmal stat that shows only a small percentage of kids meet the benchmark of one measly hour of activity each day. Given it’s the peak of summer let’s adopt some new behaviours that we’ll work on this season and each one following! It takes a conscious effort to “get your party started” to get and keep moving. However, if everyone in the household does it together each can lift each other out of the “lazy” part of the “lazy hazy crazy days of summer”!

The best place to start is setting a few limits. As much as I’d be tempted to suggest you pop a tube in your TV to get the kids outside, that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Set some limits around the time the kids (young and older) sit in front of any screen – TV, computer, game devises, phones.

Get outside and enjoy free play – throw the ball, ride a bike, play on the swings in the park, jump rope, play tag or hide and seek, run through the sprinkler, hit a tennis ball on the wall, climb a tree, go for a walk, you name it, just let your imagination run wild along with you!

Let the Broken Record Play on – Do What I Do

On the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on being a role model. The stats show that a child is very likely to participate in “unorganized physical activities” at age 4, they are likely to still be participating at 17. Having active parents reinforces that in spades. As a parent you might be very good at wagging your finger and telling the kids what THEY should do. I suggest you stop and take stock of your own activity level, then look in the mirror and do the same to yourself if you indeed are not active.

Light Your Own Fire Within
I blog often about setting goals, re-evaluating your activity level and giving yourself a much needed kick in the back side to vamoose and get moving. I might write it for you, but I certainly do it for myself as well. We all have days we want to just lie around – you know, as the song says “those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”. We need to change lazy to blazing by lighting a fire under ourselves.

Play Together
I have divulged that my parents were active when I was young. We all took part in various activities and sports, including some lifestyle sports. We did our share of playing as a family. The great thing about that is that we can still do some playing together when I fast forward today by taking a walk or playing golf.

Destress Valve
Truly though as life becomes more stressful, I find activity is a proverbial valve that helps it release. I cope better after I get back from a walk then have to face the music of real life. And how great is this time of year to better appreciate the birds singing, the gardens flourishing, the kids playing, the sun shining, fresh air blowing. What’s not to love about this scenario, start and continue.

Stealth Moves
I have written about ways to sneak in stealth activity in my book if you’re going through a super-duper busy time. The key is to find 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, another 15 minutes somewhere else and before you know it, you’ve chocked up a half hour of moving. I’m a bad parker so I routinely park further away – that’s 5 minutes right out of the gate. To work in an extra walk I take my grocery bag under my arm and walk to the store at times. A great dovetail of a few activities at one time. Find some of your own stealth moves and get going to show the kids you are truly a gamer.

Let the Broken Record Play on – Organized Sport
Continuing on the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on signing the kids up for activities. Let’s take stock of the school year that just passed. Were you stretched so far because of all of the obligations that you allowed the kids commit to? Let’s try to take the pressure off.

Family DISFunctioning & Signing Up
Sometimes organized sports can add to an existing DIS organized household. And, many of these cost money to sign up for in addition to the uniforms, shoes, equipment and more. I AM all for sports and teams, don’t get me wrong. But it’s ok as a parent to fallow the field for a season and encourage the kids to enjoy free play. We sometimes get caught up in what other families in our neighbourhood are doing and sign the kids up out of guilt. Free play is a perfect activity. I’m in your corner.

Sporty Spice Through the Ages
If you DO have the time and the means, then go ahead and get the kids into activity programs and/or sports. Consider those that the kids can continue as lifelong activities in addition to the team sports. As an adult it’s not as easy to arrange a volley ball, base ball, soccer, ball hockey game when you need a dozen busy people to get together. If you have the flexibility consider getting your kids involved in tennis, squash, badminton, golf, bike riding, hiking, running, etc. which can be more easily continued through the lifespan.

Life Lessons in Sport
I will divulge that I played competitive tennis when I was a teen. When I reflect on that experience I realize that I learned many worthwhile life lessons. I learned that life isn’t always fair even when you do your best. I learned that some people (including parents) cheat to get ahead. I learned how to lose graciously. I learned more from losing than I did from winning. I was a slow starter on the court and learned how to bear down and take it up a notch right when my opponent thought they had the win in the bag….. I also learned that through life people don’t change all that much – from the sand box to the court to the office cubicle. I’m wiser from the experience and that’s a good thing.

Do it, Do it, Do it ’til You’re Satisfied!
You who know me well by this point know my view on this. Doing something is better than doing nothing so just get started already. Do something you enjoy and encourage the same for your kids. Avoid living your glory days through your kids in sports. You had your childhood and they have theirs and never the two shall meet. Follow their lead and gently encourage their participation in something they can call their own and enjoy.

Let the Broken Record Play on – Rainy Day Play

Continuing on the theme of “playing on” let’s focus on changing plans on a rainy day. Ahh yes just when I blathered on about getting active in the summer a thunder storm blows through! It’s times like these that reminds me how important it is to be flexible with our plans. Nothings carved in stone unless Mother Nature has the chisel.

Rules of Thumb
The first thing to remember on the weather change-up is that in most places it usually doesn’t rain all day, every day. So do try to get out when it’s over. Second thing is to remember that safety comes first, stay inside or ensure you take cover when there’s an electrical storm with thunder and lightning. And finally, rain without thunder storms won’t make you melt if you get sprinkled with rain. Really!

I rather enjoy walking in the rain. I have not melted yet. I have a trusty raincoat with a hood and it travels with me to many places to shelter me from the rain. Your kids won’t melt either and may love splashing in puddles and carrying on.

Board Game Help Ward off Boredom
I know a teacher who divulged that kids who’ve grown up without playing board games have more trouble with simple life skill, such as adding the dots on a couple of dice, for example. On a rainy day drag out some old games, blow the dust off of the boxes and get playing. When you get right down and think about it there’s a social aspect to game playing in addition to the simple counting thing, plus following directions “Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass Go and do not collect $200″. Like Snakes and Ladders we all have to cope in life with slipping on a proverbial banana peel, or a snake that sends you back 15 steps, only to recover in the near future. Yes, a metaphor of life.

If you have the odd rainy day inside, aim to get out when you can then play outside longer tomorrow when the sky clears.

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Posted in Miss Behavin' | 2 Comments »

Take Me to Your Leader, a Father’s Day Tribute

June 19th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I did some reminiscing about my Dad lately with Father’s Day right around the corner. He’s been such a positive force and stellar role model for me. This applies to all aspects of my life, but of course I’ll focus on the health related part, mostly. It’s a good time to toot his horn and turn the spotlight on my family’s silent soldier. He’s a silent soldier in part due to living in a household with 5 women who barely allowed him to get a word in edgewise…. When I hear about the importance of various family factors resulting in positive health outcomes for kids, it warms my heart to know how lucky I’ve been.

Family MealtimesHe knew about prioritizing what was important in life despite being a busy accountant (and still does). We consistently ate meals together as a family – breakfast and dinner. Fathers can play a very important role in the health of their family by scheduling work accordingly. It was our time to eat a home cooked meal together, catch up on our day and connect.

Family Activities – We learned activities we can all do together – tennis, swimming, badminton and made time to do them.

Leading by Example – He is a master time compartmentalizer even when work was super crazy. He had a very busy job yet always made time for physical activity. He was in good shape and used to jog a few miles a day and play squash. My sister and I took up jogging too, following his lead. We figured if He can do it, we can too!

Showing Tough Love, Setting Limits as a United Front – My Mom and Dad always worked as a team and he supported my Mom with the limit setting. They weren’t our best friends, they were our parents and secure enough not to cross that line.

Encouragement with a Reality Check – My Dad encouraged us to be the best we could be in whatever we chose to do in life. He didn’t flower up reality and would give you the straight goods when you needed it. He expected we get part time jobs and work, save money and pay for what we could. We learned the value of a dollar and not to spend what we didn’t have. All important life skills.

What does all of this have to do with eating and lifestyle… well, everything??!! When your life is properly balanced, wisely prioritized with good examples to follow it’s easier to make sound decisions. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book reflects how my Dad conducted his life naturally.

Thank you Dad for being such an amazing father and role model to me. I kept the family name as a testament of my pride for what you built on our branch of the family tree. You’re the best and I love you bushels full!

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

Family Table

April 22nd, 2015 4 Comments Tags: , , ,

I’ve been thinking about the importance of the family table lately, hmmmm. A lot is learned there believe it or not. It’s so simple really – it’s an assembly of furniture – table and chairs, usually an overhead light. But set that table, put on some background music and arrange the food, family and friends and you’ve created a dynamic place that’s wonderfully complex.

It’s a time to break bread, literally or figuratively. A time to focus on what’s important. Fill up on food and stories – old and new. Nothing like rehashing the old hash for the umteenth time…

I remember when I was young having dinner at my Grandma’s house on Sevenoaks. Everyone was always welcome. My Mom upheld that same tradition when on some Sunday’s we’d keep making more room, extending the table further for people who were welcome at our family table. My Ukrainian Connection enjoys the same pleasure with many memories at their family table. I love that table scene on The Grinch Who Stole Christmas because it reminds me of the many fond memories of family gatherings around our family table – now at my home, still at my Mom’s, Mother Dearest’s, sisters’ too and of course my Uncle Jay’s…

I was reflecting more deeply about what I have learned through the years:

  • Keep the peace at the family table
  • Share a piece at the family table
  • Make conversation at the family table
  • Try something new at the family table
  • Pitch in around the family table
  • Learn to listen at the family table
  • Show appreciation to the hostess and host at the family table
  • Welcome everyone around the family table

You know there’s a slew of literature touting the benefits of the “family meal” for kids, linking the following which is so compelling (adapted from Dietitians of Canada, Nutrition Month 2014 material):

  • Improved food choices
  • Better nutrient intakes
  • Healthier weights
  • Reduced risk for eating disorders
  • Better social adjustment; and,
  • Improved school performance

If your schedule has gotten the better of you where this family tradition has slipped away you might want to slip it right back into your routine. Make it a priority. I don’t know about you, but after a busy day I need to “find my center”. Well it’s easily found by breaking bread together around the family table.

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin' | 4 Comments »

Your Night Before Christmas

December 22nd, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

T’was the night before Christmas and all in my head,
Was a real long “to do” list, and a big sense of dread.

I had come down to realize that I would make me a plan,
And to get started and make it, with ideas I ran.

I mulled some things over and made me a list,
One of these, one of those, eh, there was nothing I missed!

I would focus on what’s right during this most solemn time,
That brings joy and meaning, my thoughts turned on a dime.

With merriment, faith, joy, hope and love all abound,
Soul searching helps these feelings eventually come ’round.

For this outlook was different with focus on purpose,
Helps priorities align to what’s important to us.

Our neighbour is older and can use a hand,
With the snow shovelling perhaps or a sprinkle of sand.

My friend in my hood is going through chemo,
Could use a prayer, a kind word or allow her to give an earful.

What the season’s about, well it is all up to you,
It can focus on “me me me”, or it can focus on what’s true.

You can spend all your time fretting about what others will say,
Or you can do what is right and say “yo, what the hey!”

Soon the big day is coming, so will yours be alright?
With attention on others, bringing goodness and light?

Ya it’s fun to partake in the parties with wine,
After some goblets of “Oculus” you’ll be feeling mighty fine!

Try to remember what others are doing,
Is there food on their table? Are there some troubles brewing?

The very thought of that notion puts a lump in my throat,
Our Christmas Caravan gives to the needy with food or a coat.

What you make of this season is all up to you,
You can worry about you or what’s important to do.

Change of your focus from inward to outward I say,
With thought, time and effort you can make someone’s day.

It’s the littlest thing, that can mean so much in this world,
And one deed leads to another then another unfurled.

Then you’ll see that your focus on “me, myself and I”,
You’ll open your heart and look up to Heaven and say “my oh my”!

Find perspective on life, where priorities should be,
Cause at the end of the day it’s not all about me.

Get moving, get helping, be productive and then,
You’ll find the pieces of the puzzle fall into place again.

Merry Christmas to you, your family and others,
Cause we’re really all related, we’re all sisters and brothers.

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Posted in Rhyme Time! | No Comments »

Truffle Triumph!

December 1st, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , ,

I have been making these terrific truffles to give away at Christmas since I was in school in the 80′s. It was something I first did with my Mom aka Nan way back then. I have continued this tradition each year ever since. There have been a few requests for the recipe, so here’s a repost of it. This is something I get joy out of doing for many reasons while giving joy to others.

I don’t make a mantage of cookies and holiday treats. I make a mother load of these and give them away to family, friends, colleagues and confidants. My peeps look forward to these tasty morsels and I feel great spreadin’ the lovin’ around as part of the season!

Ingredients

600gm brown, dark or white chocolate wafers plus another pound to dip truffles into if you choose

1 can (300mL) sweetened condensed milk

2-3 tablespoons suitable liqueur (Baileys or Kalua for brown, Cointrou or Gran Marnier for white) and a little shot for you, ho ho ho!!

edible decorations (whole pecans/almonds/hazel nuts, sugar decorations, chocolate shavings, cocoa)

packaging material (cellophane bags, boxes, ribbons)

Instructions

Clean and dry all of your counter surfaces and tie back your hair (not in that order). Melt the chocolate wafers either using a double boiler OR at the extra low setting in the microwave. Avoid burning or getting moisture in the mix by mixing intermittently.

While melting the chocolate open the can of condensed milk and have the liqueur of your choice ready to pour. Stir the chocolate intermittently until smooth and fully melted. Once melted remove from heat and add the condensed milk using a spatula and the liqueur. Stir thoroughly until fully combined. Cover the bowl and allow to set for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. You can prep this the evening before.

Ready to Roll….Literally!

Take the mixture out of the fridge 1 hour before you plan to roll them. Ensure you have a clean, dry surface area and cover it with waxed paper and tie back your hair. Using a teaspoon and in a comfortable sitting position spoon out a teaspoon of mixture at a time and role with your clean hands and place on the waxed paper. Repeat until you rolled the entire mixture. This recipe yields ~100 truffles. If you roll them as big as meatballs you’ll get less, so size matters in this context! I make 4-5 times this recipe, shown in the photos. How crazy is that??!! Very….. Here’s my post on truffle trouble shooting for you serious bakers.

Dippity Due Da Day

Ok now you’re ready to dip these puppies. This step is optional. However if you do this, they keep well for weeks. I usually dip truffles in the same colour chocolate for sensory reasons. You don’t want to confuse the eater! Melt the chocolate on low and prepare the candy cups. Cover your clean counter with waxed paper. Dip each truffle and using a spoon put each truffle in a candy cup.

Decorate & Look Great…..Mate!!

Decorate the truffles as you dip them. You can decorate some with nuts and others with sugar decorations. I sometimes use white and dark chocolate shavings that look lovely and taste delectable….so I’ve heard. It all depends on your preference. Allow the decorated truffles to dry thoroughly for an hour or so before boxing them up. It’s a perfect time for a walk as your break from the kitchen.

Package ‘em Up Folks & They’re Ready to Give

Now you’re ready to package up your creations. Wash your hands well and dry thoroughly. This is an individual step to make these any way you wish. There’s really nothing like giving something you’ve made as a little part of you.

Commentary

Let me tell you, I only make these once a year because it takes me that long to forget how sore I felt the year before when I finished – ug. Note to self, avoid doing your weights and stretching exercise routine before making these, because all of these steps take longer to finish than doing the Iron Man. You may want to consider making a small batch or two the first time to get the hang of it. It doesn’t need to morph into the Truffle Triathlon, if you don’t want it to be.

I’ll level with you though. Any Betty Baker knows this recipe is really glorified fudge with a splash of booze. Ok I plead the 5th. You can do this easy and put ‘em in a pan and cut into squares – presto you’re done sans back ache in 10 minutes. But it’s Christmas time, so go “ALL-THE-WAY” like Chris Berman says when he broadcasts football.

I enjoy sharing these with my Mom and Mother Dearest to give away as well. I’m already in the good books with both of them and it’s only December 1st! Isn’t that what the Christmas season is all about anyway? Sharing. Ho ho ho.

There is no doubt you’ll be ready for a bubble bath or better yet a back massage when you’re done :-) It’s definitely worth the effort though even after 30-something years of making them. Spread the love and enjoy!
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Posted in Food Revolution Recipes | 2 Comments »

Portugal

November 15th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Portugal
Speaks to the soul
People are real
A very big deal

Less pretence
More substance
Travel around
A special something surrounds

Land and sea
So almighty
Farm vines through stone
Olive groves roll beyond

Seeped in history
A fine place to be
Culture entwines
Out your pours, in your mind

Medieval sites
Imagination ignites
Mediterranean gem
Will return again

Historical
Cultural
Wonderful
Portugal

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Posted in Rhyme Time! | 2 Comments »

Tall Tree

October 24th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Tall tree
Are thee
Beacon for
Many

Educate
And create
Opportunity
That’s great!

Raise the bar
Up so far
Mentor to
Many stars

Extra mile
Reconcile
Boundless with
Unique style

Volunteer
So sincere
Silent soldier
No fear

Deservedly
The Tall Tree
A new day is
Earned by thee…. congratulations!

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Cooking #SundaySupper with Nan

October 6th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I had a special date with my Mom (aka “Nan”) in her magical kitchen recently. She wanted to instil some of her culinary wisdom unto me, how great is that? Very! When you walk into her welcoming home and open the door that wonderful aroma I know so well greets me in addition to the hugs and kisses from both Nan and Pops.

On that fine day she showed me the ropes on making “Danny’s favourite” Veal Limone. Always dressed nicely, no sweats in her wardrobe, wrapped in an apron she is armed for a whipping…. of a fine dish or two! I heard she did some mentoring with my grown nephews and nieces on the secrets of her sougo and meatballs extraordinaire last week. She is on a roll!

She’s a master blaster, that’s for sure. Even though her vision is fading, her will and abilities are soaring. I have been blessed with a lifetime worth of fond food memories thanks to my Mom. Whether it was making her own dough for pizza or a cauldron of soup; her famous veal stew or eggplant parmigiana, roast beef, fast and easy chicken, calimari or butterfly shrimp, even jumbolia, she makes everything with care, love and zest. Food for the soul that’s fast and easy… for her anyways.

I’m so lucky that family meals we deemed to be important in our busy bella famiglia growing up with 4 sisters – weeknights, especially Sunday. I find when I set my dining table what unfolds with the tablecloth are magical memories from eating together. Cooking doesn’t need to be complicated like an olympic sport. Sometimes all you need to do is pull up a chair over the simplest dish, clink your glasses and linger over good conversation while breaking bread with each other.

Thanks Nan, what’ll we whip up next?

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Posted in Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin' | 2 Comments »