Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Emulsify! – 37

You know my life is strange when I’m happy about emulsification.

All work and no play makes Sharon a very angsty mess, so I decided to take on a challenge (isn’t that what EVERYONE does when they are feeling stressed and angsty??) to master the art of home-made mayonnaise.

Image credit
Image credit

I know, I know… don’t have a fainting spell. It’s actually easier than I thought it would be.

This morning I had an epic mayo fail. I spent about a half hour assembling ingredients, monitoring my blender and pouring in olive oil at a painfully slow pace. Still, the emulsification gods were not pleased with my efforts and what I got was a gloopy mess of smelly olive oil and egg mixture. Um. Ew. AND, I wasn’t clever enough to take a photo of said fail so you could share in my disappointment! I did put it in a zip lock baggie before I pitched it in the garbage, though. There, it can fester into some kind of toxic goo, only to be eventually absorbed back into the graceful arms of mother nature in about 6 bamillion (like my new word?) years, or whenever plastic actually breaks down. Good going, Sharon. Shall we label this a double fail?

So, I did a little research and found a few blogs and a video that let me know where I’d gone wrong. I marched my fanny off to the store and got the proper ingredients and with a determined jut of my chin, I decided I’d try it again. This time, however, I mixed myself some liquid courage first. Fondly known as Geezus Juice, I put ice in a cup, added one shot of Huckleberry Vodka, 2 Tablespoons of Lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of Cranberry concentrate, followed by a dropper full of liquid Lemon Stevia and some water. I stirred it up, put in my straw and took a long swig, and was ready to try my mayo again.

What I learned was that for proper emulsification to occur, you must have two main ingredients.

1. Everything must be clean and at room temperature.

2. You need patience. (This is where the Geezus Juice came in for me!)

Homemade Mayo-

1 large egg – room temp

1 large egg yolk – room temp

1 t. ground mustard

4 T lemon juice – room temp

1 cup olive oil (NOT EXTRA VIRGIN – get the light stuff) – room temp

Salt, pepper or other interesting herbs and spices as desired. I bought some chipotle to try later!

In a clean blender, food processor or a canning jar using a stick blender, combine the egg and the egg yolk. Add the lemon juice and let them get cozy for 20 minutes to an hour. (Long enough for them to be room temperature)

Once they are happy with each other and their surroundings, blend them up for 30 seconds or so. Then add your salt, mustard and spices and blend again for 30 seconds.

Next- there is some debate here… some say add 1/2 cup of your oil, others say 1/4 and still others say only a few teaspoons at first. Deciding to err on the side of caution, I started with 3 tsp. of oil and let that blend up for a few minutes.

Finally, and here is where the patience comes in, I started pouring in the rest of the cup of oil. You have to make it the smallest, slowest stream of oil you can possibly imagine. Just above a drop at a time. I was using a stick blender in a canning jar and my poor stick blender was so hot by the time I was done pouring (it took 6 minutes) I thought it might be toast! But by the time the last little drop of oil went in, things had thickened up (emulsified) and I was a happy camper!!

I capped the mayo, added an expiration date (that’s the same as the expiration on your eggs) and put it in the fridge to finish up it’s thickening process.

Voila!! Which is appropriate since mayonnaise is a French creation and I’m off to Paris in T- 37 days!

I know it’s kinda silly, but I’m happy it worked. By the way, should you try this at home, boys and girls, and emulsification eludes you, save the stuff you spent all that time blending. As long as you used a light olive oil, you can add spices and herbs and use it as a thin dressing on salads or a dip for veggies!

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Another Bag Away – 47

It was Mother’s Day.

I got up before everyone else and cleaned out my pantry… again. I know it doesn’t seem like something most would do for Mother’s Day, but it gave me to two distinct feelings.

1. Freedom and
2. Dread

Almost 2 months ago, I decided that my body had screamed it’s warnings to me enough, and that I was going to do something about it. I’d already been limiting my bread and sugar consumption and dairy was off the boards, so why not go ahead and embrace the Primal/Paleo movement and just get rid of grains as well?

For the first few weeks, I felt the way they say you can expect to feel… not so great. But, then things started to gel and I felt much better. About that time, I cleaned out most of my pantry. I gave items to my neighbor and to my daughter, but didn’t quite clean out everything. I left a few items, as a comfort I think, so that “just in case”, I’d have something non-paleo to fall back on.

Now that I’ve completed the second month, and lost a few lbs (14, I think), I had my first foray into the world of non-paleo eating in a long while. My daughter surprised me with a Mother’s Day visit and we went out to lunch and ended up having some pizza later in the evening. Interestingly enough, my body tolerated the pizza better than it had ever done so in the past, and while I felt kinda raunchy, I didn’t feel as wiped out and horrible as I did when I was eating a traditional diet. Still, it was enough for me to notice the difference and decide that I was going to the next level of commitment. (It also let me know that while I’m in France, it’ll be perfectly fine for me to sample a croissant or two, and I’ll be fine!)

So, I got up early and made some raspberry-lime green tea, washed some berries to nibble on, and got into my stash in the pantry. Out goes the oatmeal, panko breading, flour, agave nectar, beans – both canned and dry, cornbread mix and rice cakes. I stuffed a Trader Joe’s bag full of food and still had to put some items in a smaller plastic grocery bag. I hadn’t realized how much of a “just in case” pile I’d still had!! Now, my daughter will take what she wants, and the rest will be donated.

While I was clearing items, I noticed that I was just a bit nostalgic about some of the meals I’d made in the past, and all those years of baking. I also panicked a bit, because these items were some of my safe stash. But the thought process of just in case, means you never feel 100% sure of the choice you’ve made and if I always have the stuff around I don’t want to eat, then am I fully committed?


Posted in Musings and Mutterings

The Mechanics of Human Tetris – 58

So much for my thought that I would keep up in here…for that matter, so much for my thoughts of keeping up at all.

Although, there is no alternative, is there?

Today, I’m feeling a little beaten up by work. And I think, is it work or is it me beating me up? Even with the help of 4 parents to help run the show, I’m still feeling a bit behind.

I got an email this morning because my rosters are a week behind in being updated online. A parent was frustrated that her daughter was showing an absence she knew she’d made up. The child got the credit for the rehearsal in my paper roster, but the online one the boss sees just wasn’t my top priority. Ticketing (Human Tetris) 3 venues for upcoming performances was.

This year it seems that everyone and their brother had some kind of conflict, which resulted in hours of emails and a spreadsheet of people’s specific schedules that requires massive scrolling to get through. It required two people to check and recheck programs to be sure each singer was on the correct program for the correct venue and that all names were spelled properly. All this switching around also means that seating charts and reserved seating for performers be arranged and only after that is done can I begin to assign seats to guests.

The moans and groans I hear from families who don’t get front and center seats is depressing. I literally worked 3, 18 hour days to complete ticketing. I look at vocal parts and seat parents opposite their child’s section in the chorus so they can see their kid sing. With the size of our largest chorus creating a U shape on our stage, I take special care to be sure everyone has a good seat. I weed through the graduating singers and place their guests in prime seating since it’s their last concert. I make sure every person who writes a special request for a certain seat due to a certain ailment gets exactly what they want, and I seat families with small children closer to the stage so their parents can see their little faces, and older singer’s families are mid theater to the back so the booming sound of our larger singers easily reaches their families in the farthest rows. Why a parent of the older singers would even want to sit in the front rows is beyond me. Do the dynamics of sound not enter their thoughts? This beautiful music would shoot right over their heads and they’d miss the subtlety of the harmonious joining of voices and instead hear the individual strong voices of the singers.

I know that most people haven’t a clue as to what I do and for the most part, it’s not necessary that they do. As long as they are enjoying the experience, then that’s the goal. But when I feel I’ve given such a large effort to help create a positive experience and the only thing I hear is complaining… well… even this happy camper can feel a bit kicked.

However! Today is a new day and I understand that you choose the way you feel. Perhaps I should look at my care in seating with a sense of accomplishment instead. I essentially did what normally takes me a week to do in 3 days and I got programs out despite changes and I got the France chaperons started on their paths – since we leave in 58 days – and I got proposals for the next trip in 2015 to ponder. I answered hundreds of emails, sent mass mailings out about changes and reminders for performances and I scheduled over 200 students for their vocal checks/re-auditions. I even successfully navigated another off-site performance with dubious weather and tricky logistics this past week. So on the whole, I feel my workload this week has been handled pretty damn well. And for the next person who complains about a seat that’s slightly to the left, I may just direct them to this blog so they can see that left of center isn’t the worst place to be.