I’m fortunate that I have a really good Community College just minutes from my house. We have a beautiful campus, the highlight of which is the lake with the fountain. But, I’m sure I’m just like every other college student this time of year, cramming for finals, scrambling to finish projects and meeting instructors last minute demands. I’ve been taking college classes on and off for the last 25 years. I joke that I’m on the 25 year plan for an Associates Degree and now, finally, after 25 years, that trek is coming to an end. At the end of this semester, I will receive my Associates in Applied Science from St. Charles Community College. Since I retired a year and a half ago, I’ve been pretty diligent about taking classes, and this semester I’m carrying a full load; 15 credit hours. This has been a wonderful experience. I’ve had some good teachers and some really bad teachers; some really good classes, and several classes that the only reason you would take them is because they are required for a degree. But I’m ready for this journey to come to an end. From what I understand, an Applied Science degree is not a transferable degree; it’s only intended for a two year degree. So if at some time I decide I want to continue on and start working on a Bachelor’s degree, I’ll need to take those math courses I so studiously avoided.
When I was looking for a dish to display my Chocolate Covered Pretzels, I pulled this small dish out of my china cabinet and thought it would be the perfect size. It’s funny though, I can’t remember where it came from. I turned it over and the mark on the back was “Made in Occupied Japan” with a small elephant head in the center. I have several china figurines marked “Made in Occupied Japan” that I received from my paternal grandmother, so I’m assuming this must have been a piece I got when her daughter, my Aunt Mabel, passed away. Looking at it, I didn’t know what type of dish it was or what is was used for. I started by googling “made in occupied japan elephant mark” and although I couldn’t find this specific mark, I did learn some things about “Made in Occupied Japan”. The stamp “Made in Occupied Japan” refers to the time period 1945-1952 when the Allies occupied Japan. In order for Japan to export goods from their country, they had to agree to mark 50% of their goods with “Made in Occupied Japan”. As far as the dish itself, just by looking at images of pieces of china with the elephant mark, I was able to identify this piece as a “Lemon Dish”. I couldn’t find anything more about lemon dishes, so I assume the dish was used for exactly what it’s name implies; to place lemon wedges on the table. Most pieces of china or porcelain marked with the “Made in Occupied Japan” have very little value and the value they do have comes from the short period of manufacture time. To me, the monetary value means little, the value comes from the hands of my loved ones who handled it before me.
One of the easiest and tastiest treats to make is Chocolate Covered Pretzels. When these first started appearing on grocery shelves a couple years ago, I thought they would not be something I would like. Boy, was I wrong!
All you need are:
24 oz. package of Chocolate Almond Bark
Bag of Pretzels (any kind)
Shaker of Nonpareils
Melt the Chocolate Almond Bark in the top half of the double boiler. Although you can use other methods of melting the bark, including directly in a pot on the stove or in the microwave, I’ve found that using a double boiler keeps the chocolate at an even temperature and the chocolate at a consistent dippiness (is that a word??) Dip the pretzels in the chocolate and place on wax paper. Sprinkle chocolate with nonpareils before the chocolate sets. Allow the chocolate to dry and transfer pretzels (except those you are eating) to an air-tight container.
Those are probably words most parents won’t hear from their adult child, but I heard it from my daughter, an RN, the other morning. And you notice, I said “Again”. Apparently I don’t do well with opiate pain relievers. Back in May when I had my first foot surgery, I was given an opiate pain reliever and I remember calling my daughter then telling her I felt “stupid”. I couldn’t form sentences and I was dizzy. That time she laughed and said “Mom, you’re stoned”. Oh well. I didn’t take that medication again.
This time I was given Tramadol, which is another opiate pain reliever. I had called her Wednesday night after my surgery and told her that the one pill I had been prescribed didn’t do anything and wondered if I could take another one. The prescription was for one pill every four hours for pain. She said at the low dosage I had been prescribed, it would probably be okay if I took another one in an hour or two, so two hours after the first one, I took second one. Nothing bad happened and my pain was relieved. During the night, I got up to use the bathroom and upon stepping down on my foot, I experienced severe pain. My pills were in the bathroom so I decided if one did nothing, and I didn’t want to get up again in another couple hours, I’d just take two at once. After all, two is better than one, right? So, I did. I went back to bed and went right to sleep, and that is a good thing. I woke up around 6 a.m. when my husband’s alarm went off. I sat up in bed and my head started to spin, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I felt shaky and I couldn’t make a coherent sentence. My husband was really alarmed so I managed to text my daughter (who was at work at the hospital) but she didn’t reply right away. As the symptoms didn’t immediately go away, I became more and more concerned, afraid I was having a heart attack or a blood clot or something else horrible so I called her. I never call her at work, so she answered right away. I was trying to talk to her, but I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I was finally able to tell her I had taken two of the Tramadols and she started laughing and said “Mom, you’re stoned, AGAIN”. Okay, so no heart attack, no blood clot, just stoned, AGAIN. I haven’t taken any more of that medication either, now I just stick to ibuprofen and naproxen.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite sites is “Six Sisters’ Stuff”. I love the look of their site and everything they post is very user friendly and down to earth. When I was at the grocery store the other day, I decided I wanted to buy some puff pastry even though I had never baked with it. It just so happened that the Baked Cinnamon Sugar Churros post appeared in my Facebook feed yesterday morning. What a coincidence! The frozen puff pastry comes in two pieces. Each piece is folded into thirds and must be thawed for about 45 minutes before using. After the dough was thawed, I cut it length-wise into three pieces and then cut each of those pieces into six pieces. I decided to stack the pieces, and brush on the (1/4 cup) melted butter and sprinkle each piece with the cinnamon (2 tsps.) and sugar (1/2 cup) mixture. I baked the Churros for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. The taste reminds me of “Poor Mans Pie” that my mother used to make with the left-over pieces of pie crust; just pie crust, sugar, cinnamon and sugar. I decided they weren’t quite done enough, so I popped them back in the oven for a few more minutes. Unfortunately, I forgot them. Note to self: Set the timer!