Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just "KISS" It and Make It Better

My husband, James, and I have shared several memorable moments...a lot of them quite humorous.  I can actually boast that I can even manage to make my husband laugh when I am asleep.  On one particular night about five years ago when I was pregnant with Jaxson, James was awakened by the sound of me talking in my sleep. 
Now before that occasion, I was never aware of the fact that I talked in my sleep.  I had spent the majority of my adult life as a single person.  So finding out that I talked in my sleep either proved or disproved my theory about most single people; they never talk in their sleep, because no one is there to hear it (similar to the tree falling in the woods theory). Since, in fact, no one was there to hear me except for my cat, I don't believe I talked in my sleep when I was single.  This phenomenon surely did not occur until I was married...and had to be a rare occasion, at that.
However, on that night, James was roused from his sleep by my mumbling and then he heard me loudly and quite clearly say the words, "KISS It!"  Then I rolled over and resumed my silent slumber. 
The next morning, he told me what happened.  He was quite intrigued about what...or whom...I had been dreaming about. Was I telling someone off?  Was I flirting with someone? Just what had provoked my wise-crack?  I didn't have a clue!  I didn't remember dreaming about anything...or all.  That's one of the strange things about pregnancy; progesterone can really create some havok between restful zzzzzz's!  While I was pregnant, I dreamed about everything from nursing kittens to all my teeth falling out.  But God only knows who or what I was telling to "KISS It" that particular night.
I may not have recalled whom or what I was speaking to, but I did have some idea why I had said those choice words.  The word, KISS, just happens to be one of my favorite mantras.  Those who have worked with me have more than likely heard me say it on more than one occasion.
You see, one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone takes a situation and employs every possible measure to make it more complex than it needs to be.  I have known people that over-think, over-do, over-work and over-stress just about everything they do.  I think these kind of people must thrive on drama and getting lost in unnecessary details. 
Not me!  The older I get, the more I appreciate the theory of "less being more" and enjoy having a less complicated life.  And although I was born a Type A personality, it has become my aspiration to morph into a Type B! I made the conscious choice to SIMPLIFY my life...or OUR life, as I should say, because it did take my husband and I being on the same page with this philosophy to make it work!
Having more material possessions did not make me just gave me more things to take care of, more things to clean, more things to organize, more things to get rid of!  Having debt gave me more worries and stress.  I had to work harder to pay off the debt.  I had to spend too much energy running on the hampster wheel keeping track of the bills and paying them.  In most cases, the only thing I had to show for my debt was a monthly statement. Even the most experienced world travelers will tell you; you will travel easier and further if you have a lighter load in your backpack! I plan to enjoy the rest of my journey.
So should you ever hear me utter the words, "KISS It!"...just keep in mind I am attempting to apply my life philosophy to a particular situation.  If you haven't figured out what my mantra stands for, then I will share it with you, "Keep It Simple, Stupid!"
I try to apply this philosophy to just about every aspect of my daily life.  If there is a simpler, easier, quicker way that requires less time or energy to get something done, that's the way I want to do it!  Whenever I have approached the task of coming up with a new recipe...or even writing a cookbook...I have sealed it with a big KISS!
However, my sister, Lori, has her own philosophy that, "you can't fix stupid"...but that's a whole other story. ;-) Have a blessed day and if you find yourself in a stressful situation, try to "KISS It!" and make it better!

Monday, October 24, 2011

~How To Order My Cookbook, 'Cooking With The Carpenter's Wife'~

*The cookbooks are $24.95 each.

*If you are in the Meadow area, I can deliver locally or you can pick up at my house. Just message me or call 806-539-0362 to place your order.
*If you are distant, you can mail check/money order for $24.95 + $4.00 shipping/handling to:
Karen Rodgers
403 N Renfro
Meadow, TX 79345
Be sure to include at note with the address you want your cookbook shipped to. If you order more than one copy, shipping/handling is $4.00 for the first cookbook, $2.00 per book thereafter.
If you would like to order online or prefer to pay with credit card or PayPal, please visit my listing on Amazon at the attached link...

Thank you for your interest in Cooking With The Carpenter's Wife!

Much Love & Happy Cooking!!!
Karen Curtis Rodgers

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Didn't ALWAYS Know How to Cook...

I grew up in the company of several good cooks; my grandmother, my mother, my aunts, my sisters, my friends' moms, all the little church ladies and fabulous women of the community.  You would have thought I would have known how to cook by the time I graduated from High School.  WRONG! 
I was much too busy to worry about culinary responsibilities.  There was always basketball practice & games, boys, bonfires, boys, track meets, boys, football games, boys, Saturday nights spent cruising other area towns, boys...all the requisites for growing up and being socially acceptable in a West Texas small town.  Cooking was literally the last thing on my mind.  It didn't even make the list of life skills I thought were necessary for succeeding.  Besides, at the time, my main goal in life was to someday become the ex-wife of a multi-millionaire and live happily ever after.  And I never heard of a man who would have chosen Betty Crocker over Raquel Welch!  So there ya go...such were my priorities.  Little did I know that my life would not evolve in quite the same direction which I envisioned.
In spite of being an active member of 4H and a State Level member of the Future Homemakers of America, I started my adult life with very minimal cooking skills.  Thanks to my Home Economics teacher, I did at least know how to cut up a chicken and bake a pound cake (even though it always turned out dough-ey in the middle).  But even I knew boiled poultry & soggy strawberry shortcake was not the quickest way to a man's heart.
Enter of my dearest lifelong friends and roomate in our first apartment after we moved out of our parents' houses.  Unlike me, Shannon had somehow managed to pay attention to Home Cooking 101 while growing up.  She came up with the bright idea for us to cook dinner for a couple of guys we, ummmm, impress them...I guess?  The Menu?  Well...what any good Texas girl would cook for a man; chicken fried steak, cream gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans!
Okay.  I had to admit it, "Shannon, I don't know how to make chicken fried steak."
Shannon replied, "No problem, you can work on the gravy,"
Starting to realize I was in way over my head, I confessed, "Shannon, I don't know how to make cream gravy."
In her usual, colorful verbage, Shannon looked at me with a rather annoyed look on her face and said something along these lines, "What the ****?  Don't you know how to make ****?  What the **** did your momma ever teach you? *** Bless!  Can you at least boil the ******* potatoes?"
Embarrassed and more than a little intimidated, I answered, "****, yeah!"
So I set forth to the task at hand.  Boil potatoes.  I could do that! I could do that? Um, yeah.
About ten minutes into my endeavor, Shannon looked over at the products of my labor.  She quickly broke into a hearty laugh and called me every word that you cannot find in a Thesaurus that has the same meaning as ******* idiot!
I did exactly as she told me...."get a saucepan, put the potatoes in, bring it to a boil, cook for about 15-20 minutes."  I guess she should have been a tad bit more descriptive, because she obviously forgot to tell me to peel & cut the potatoes before putting them in the boiling water.  It might have taken quite a while to boil 3 whole russett potatoes!
Hey, it wasn't my fault!  At least I tried!  I might not have started out right, but I finished well!
Oh...and the guy I was cooking for...he didn't show up.  Yep, that's right...I got stood up!  But Shannon, Tricia, Jeff, Chad & I had a really good meal that night.  And not only did I eventually become a pretty decent cook that, on given occasion, could quite possibly contend with Betty Crocker, there have been certain moments in my life that I might have even given Raquel Welch a run for her money!  His loss! 
And the best part...I still stay in touch with all of the people who were at that table...that night...and they are people I am proud to call my lifetime friends.  We should get together again sometime...I'll make the mashed potatoes!

Monday, October 17, 2011

How "THE Pie" Got It's Name

Ask any of my good friends about what their favorite thing is that I have cooked for them and most of them will reply, "THE pie".  That pie recipe is at the top of the list for my favorite original recipes, for several reasons. 
I developed the recipe while making it for my grandfather.  Incorporated in the recipe were some of his favorite things; apples, cranberries, port wine and walnuts.  I remembered being a young child and my Grandan showing me how he could peel an apple in a single ribbon using his pocket knife.  It's always those little personal details that end up being my biggest sources of inspiration. 
The first time I made "THE pie" for my grandfather, I was complimented by his request for a second helping.  However, my biggest reward came when my grandfather, a man of few words, patted me on the back and voiced his critique, "that's some good pie, Punkin." 
That was all the validation required to make "THE Pie" my one of signature dishes.  Any time I was invited to a dinner at a friend's house or wanted to make a dish for any special occasion, I usually went with "THE Pie"...and it quickly became the most requested. 
But there was one problem...I could not think of what to call "THE pie".  It was too much of a mouthful to call it "Apple, Cranberry, Port Wine & Walnut Pie".  Friends would usually recall it as "THE" or "THAT" pie, while smiling with their eyes closed and making a "mmmmm" sound.  This pleasurable concoction attained a most prodigious degree of fame amongst my family and friends, but what in the heck was I going to call it?
The answer came on a ski trip with the Texas Twisters in 1994.  We accompanied about 1200 other members of the Texas Ski Council on a week long vacation in Snowmass Village at Aspen, Colorado.  On the second night there, we had a pot luck supper.  I decided to bake several of "THE pies" as my contribution to the gathering. 
As I was baking eight pies in double ovens, the kitchen in our condo got a little too warm.  So I opened up the kitchen window and the scent of baking pies began to waft through the mountain air.  It didn't take long before people started coming to our door...people from my ski club and others who were literally from all over the world.  At the end of the evening, I fondly recall three of the ski club members arguing over the last piece of pie!  People often complimented my cooking, but I had never had anyone fight over it!
About 5 years after that trip, I ran into a man at another Texas Ski Council function.  He approached me and asked, "are you the one who made those pies in Snomass?" 
When I answered him, he broadly grinned and offered, "Name your price, lady. I'll pay you whatever you ask if you will just give me the recipe for 'THAT' pie!" 
Of course, I told him I would give him the recipe for free, as long as he promised to share it with someone he loved.
Then he described his memory of "THE pie".  He explained, "There's been many a night I have sat alone, closed my eyes and thought about 'THAT' pie!  It was like wishing for the company of an old lover."
AND that is how "THE pie" finally got it's name.  You can find "Old Lovers Pie" on page 34 of my cookbook, Cooking With The Carpenter's Wife!  I hope you enjoy "THE pie" every bit as much as the people who have had it before you!

Much Love & Happy Cooking, Y'all!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Cookbook Is Available For Purchase!!! YeeeeeHawwwww!!!

My cookbook, Cooking With The Carpenter's Wife, has been published and is now available for purchase.  I deliver locally and can ship anywhere!  You can contact me here, on my Facebook page (The Carpenter's Wife) or it can be ordered through Amazon...just follow the link:

Much Love & Happy Cooking, Y'all!!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Confessions of a Middle Aged Stay-At-Home Mom

These days, it is so easy to become confused with all the parenting advice you get from magazines and other people.   Every parent I know takes pride in sharing examples of their parental prowess.  So I thought I might add to the confusion by letting everyone know what has worked for me.  I have a feeling there are a few of you parents out there who might agree with my philosophy...even if you don't want to admit it.

*Enjoy the simple things in life.  It's okay to be lazy and be a homebody some days.  It creates so much more appreciation and excitement when we do actually get out of the house to do something fun.
*Don't make your bed every day.  It is a proven scientific fact that bed bugs are more apt to thrive in dark, covered areas.  Let your sheets breathe.  If you have company, close the bedroom door.
*Playing video games help develop eye hand coordination and problem solving skills.
*If your child watches less than 2 hours of TV a day, you aren't doing enough cooking, cleaning or laundry.
*Spending $1.27 on a Hot Wheels car at the grocery store is a great investment.  It cuts down on your shopping time by keeping your child entertained and prevents melt-downs...yours & the child's.
*If you wait to "give-in" until your child asks for a toy 3 or 4 times, it builds your child's negotiating skills and gives them self-confidence in knowing they can win an argument. 
*Realize, as a parent, you can't always say "no".  Pick your battles, cuts down on all the drama.
*Never wake a sleeping child.  Even if they want to nap for 3 hours and then stay awake until midnight, it will give them more quality time to spend with Daddy since he is at work all day.  (Mom's...use this extra time in the evenings while they are supervised by their fathers to take a long, luxurious bath.  Heck, even shave your legs...your husband will appreciate this.)
*It's okay to let your child have a Happy Meal every once in a while.  They work well for bribery purposes and familiarize your children with chicken nuggets & processed meats for those times that you only have time & energy for microwavable meals.
*Your child does not have to be able to spell, read & write by the time they enter Pre-K.  You don't want your child to get bored in school.  Besides, you want to make sure your teachers earn their pay.
*As a stay-at-home Mom, it is perfectly fine to wear the same yoga pants or sweats several days in a row.  It cuts down on laundry and thus, is good for the environment.
*It is also quite acceptable to go a couple of days without make-up and wear your hair pulled back in a pony-tail.  That way, your husband will think you are so much more attractive when you actually do fix yourself up!  It really helps increase the "Wow" factor! ;-)
*I occasionally slip and say a four letter word in front of my child.  However, I would rather he hear it from me first than to hear it from one of his friends.
*I teach my child how to fight.  (Don't get your feathers ruffled...that's not near as bad as it sounds)  He knows not to ever start a fight, but Mommy teaches him Martial Arts so he knows how to FINISH a fight.
*It's okay to pick up something you have dropped on the floor and eat it.  In these hard economic times, it's not okay to waste food.  Plus, it will help build your child's immunity.
*Candy is okay and can even be nutritious.  After all, corn syrup is made from a vegetable and chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants.  Plus, milk chocolate (if eaten in mass quantities) can comprise a serving of dairy.
*There is nothing wrong with watching the same Disney, Dreamworks or Pixar movie over and over and over, again and again and again.  Not only is this a good exercise in memorization skills, most of these films have positive life lessons. Although, with the exception of The Incredibles & Shrek, it is difficult to find any of these movies that portray traditional family units.
*If you are planning a long road trip or your child is having difficulty establishing a regular sleeping routine, one word....Benadryl.  Okay, actually two words...Children's Benadryl.
*Point to the bubble security cameras in Walmart and grocery stores and explain that they are "Santa Cams" that are wired directly to the North Pole.  Encourage your child to wave & smile at them.  Use this technique and milk it for all it's worth for as long as you  possibly can!

Feel free to use some of these tips with your own children...or do your own thing.  Bottom parenting advice is right 100% of the time.  One thing I know to be an absolute two children are the same and what works for one child may not work for another.  So what works for one parent, may not work for another.  We all do our best, with what we are given, each and every day.  We love, we hope, we pray and we do what ever it takes to raise our children into successful, healthy, happy adults that are normal...whatever your definition of normal may be.  And in the event we fall short or fail, then I'm sure our children will grow up and resent us and hold us accountable for their failures or inadequacies.  After all, that is a basically inherent human trait that has occurred generation after generation since the dawn of time.  I suppose it is our responsibility not to break the cycle.