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IT’S THE UNWRAPPED PRESENTS THAT BRING THE MOST JOY

Unwrapped Christmas Gifts


Yes, I had gifts so prettily wrapped and I loved them all.
A lot of thought went into them for my joy to befall.
Throughout the celebration of Christ’s birth
The love was obviously shared in its true worth.
What came to me some presents weren’t tied up with a bow.
Gifts of love come in all kinds of ways that love can glow.
It’s those best wishes, kind acts, giggles through the phone from those who are alone.
The thank you for what you do, the smiles and laughter from your children that send love to your bone.
It’s the gentle stranger opening the door to a old lady, the patience shown for others and more.
Think back over the holidays and you will begin to think like me.
Sometimes the love of Jesus gifts are not under the tree.
They are unexpected acts of unselfish love that others may see.
The gifts we do for no reason but amplify the reason for the season.
Give of yourself and love like Jesus without any personal reason.

Written by Arline Lott Miller with hopes that your Christmas was filled with love of Christ with thanks for His Eternal Gift to Us. 2022

This Christmas time, instead of the usual huge family gathering with the big Christmas dinner and as many of the family members who can come, was different and we still have our upcoming time with one of the sons and his family in the next couple of days. We split time between the oldest son and his family with a BBQ sandwich some fixings and a big spread of desserts. It was so much fun but different that the usual gathering.

Then, Saturday Missy, my daughter came over for the weekend and we had a huge time in the kitchen as I told her I would be her Sous Chef so Saturday was our Mexican Cuisine theme with Missy’s homemade enchiladas, both cheese and chicken cheese filled and the enchilada sauce she made from scratch, Street Corn which I made, Missy’s famous guacamole and fresh mango and pomegranate salsa, and we made black beans and rice too.

I may have duplicated some slides as my mouth was drooling but onto Christmas day dinner. We bypassed the traditional dinner and went Surf and Turf with Greg grilling his famous ribeye steak that melts like butter, Missy pan seared Scallops with assistance from her Sous Chef in prep, Grandma’s cheesy green chilies bread (not really our Grandma but we would gladly adopt her), my pan sautéd green beans, Missy’s homemade Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and desserts Missy’s Blueberry Delight so if you think we missed traditional, no way.

After all the food, entertainment, gift exchanging, cleanup, yes that was part of it and then it was over. Our loved ones who had dropped in, visited and left, the poem you see at the beginning inspired me. I remembered all of the unwrapped gifts of love that were showered. They are too many small gestures of love given and received. Love for Jesus was shown in large quantities, understanding that we have to be flexible as life isn’t always about just us, and compassion for those who could use some love at this time. I will cherish this different kind of Christmas and this poem. I hope all of you had a great Christmas and we wish you a Wonderful New Year.

As a side note and a preface to a future blog post, my husband had a big surprise that is deserving of its own post as I feel a life lesson and it has inspired me to write it separately, but I will post it soon as it is a heartwarming story. Stay tuned my reader friends.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party Material is sourced, if known, to original location/author for credit references.

WHY OR WHY NOT, FRUITCAKE?

This year and for several years, it seems the world has become fruitier than a fruitcake, with so many changes in our lives I thought I would buy a small fruitcake and I know what most of you are thinking….Why even buy fruitcake? I thought about this possible reaction. I happen to be one who loves fruitcake and I try to be flexible in all the topsy-turvy world, still holding to my personal value and being true to myself. Whether you love or hate fruitcake, try to see humor in all the nutty, fruit filled days in 2023. It’s coming soon to your neighborhood.

NOTE FROM ARLINE: Merry Christmas to All and I decided to bake an Orange Slice Cake instead of the fruit cake to hope 2021 will be a better year. I wish you and your family a safe and prosperous New Year as well.

I watched a video from Cooking with Brenda Gantt who showed us how to make this cake. For the recipe go to Cooking with Brenda Gantt on Facebook. Be sure to follow her as she is a talented cook and great spirit.

FRUITCAKE SEEMS TO FIT THIS YEAR with all of the craziness going on in our country and our world. It seems the entire human race has become fruity and early this morning this inspiration came to me. It may seem satirical but I am known to be a little brassy and sassy and even a little fruity so let’s bite right into this subject.

When we were little, the Christmas Fruit Cake was a great treat for us so I have never understood the adversity to the fruit. We would have to wait after Momma baked her fruitcake, packed it with sliced apples, and wrapped it in cloth (later became foil). It seemed like the longest days before that luscious smell in the oven to actually getting a piece. We all stood round when she finally cut into it for her approval of her baking skills. She would say, “This is a good one or “We need to let it mellow longer” which was not the news we wanted to hear. Even if she was going to let it sit as she called the time we were waiting, she would give us a sample. Keep these words in mind as I move through this thought process. I will refer to this time again.

Momma’s Fruitcake

1 lb. Candied Pineapple                                    1 cup Self-Rising Flour

1 lb. Candied Cherries                                       1 cup Plain Flour

6 cups Pecans                                                       1 t. each vanilla & lemon extract

1 cup sugar                                                            1 cup chopped dates               

1/2 lb. margarine melted (butter for me)    1 cup golden raisins

5 large eggs

1 can Angel Flake Coconut

Chop fruit and nuts in large container. Pour coconut, sugar, flavoring, and beaten eggs over fruit. Add melted butter and mix. Add flours over mixture and mix until wet. Bake in lined pan (Momma used wax paper but modern times have other options) at 275 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. 

Note: No mention of the apple slices placed on top of cake and wrapped. To be kept unopened for several days until it becomes moist.

History of the Fruitcake

A traditional Easter Simnel cake

The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ageshoneyspices, and preserved fruits were added.[citation needed]

Fruitcakes soon proliferated all over Europe. Recipes varied greatly in different countries throughout the ages, depending on the available ingredients as well as (in some instances) church regulations forbidding the use of butter, regarding the observance of fastPope Innocent VIII (1432–1492) finally granted the use of butter, in a written permission known as the ‘Butter Letter’ or Butterbrief in 1490, giving permission to Saxony to use milk and butter in the Stollenfruitcakes.[2]

Starting in the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies (and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits) created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruitcakes more affordable and popular.[3]

Here is what I perceive has been going on in our lives and how fruity we have become.

  • We want things in life to be “sweet” even if it goes against any healthy reasoning or moral values, manners, or traditions and we are asking people to accept anything that has that “sugary” feeling.
  • We see videos over and over on the cat-dog, pig-dog, cats-horses, etc and we want to believe that all animals accept all animals can live in harmony and on the surface, it seems so beautiful but nature is nature and we have to stop and consider the safety of each species. It is not a given that all creatures get along and we have to consider the rule of nature and take precautions to prevent injury to either one.
  • Some people just don’t like fruitcake. I personally love it but have to eat a small piece now for health reasons but I have seen so many people go “Ugh! How do you eat fruitcake? I can’t stand it.”

For all of you who want more of Fruitcake Trivia, I found an interesting article that is too lengthy for me to add in this blog. Here is the link to the article

15 Fun Facts About Fruitcake

Click on the link above to take you to the article for your reading pleasure.

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This brings me to my focus of this message.

No matter how much you blend, chop, mix, and/or bake, some people are never going to like fruitcake and that my friends is society in a fruitcake. You can preach, beg, threaten, or try to convince people and if they don’t like it, they don’t like it. We need to stop saying we believe in inclusion and acceptance and then tell the others they can’t say this or they can’t say that. That is not acceptance……that is bullying! We all have preferences and some like fruitcake and others prefer pound cake or pie or neither. My point is that even though I personally like fruitcake, I can understand others not liking it. I can see their side and accept that side. I don’t however, feel I have a right to push fruitcake on them. I personally don’t like raspberries very much so I would prefer someone understanding my dislike. I wouldn’t have a problem with others eating raspberries and I think this is the true meaning of inclusion and acceptance. In our society, we could benefit from agreeing to disagreeing but never demanding that the other one has to say “I love fruitcake” when they don’t. Get my drift?

As I promised to return to the period of “curing” time for Momma’s fruitcake and it contains a wonderful lesson in life. Thank you Mom! Here is my interpretation: Mom’s cake would have been good when she took it out of the oven. As children, we would have gobbled it up immediately but Momma was wise and knew it needed that quiet time, that curing time, that sweetening time. Waiting while it matured in flavor, we were impatient and wanted what we wanted right then but the lesson we were taught was the following:

“Anything worth having or accomplishing is worth the time that it takes to happen in the right way. Success cannot be impulsively demanded but has to have the mellowing and adding that extra ingredient to complete perfection.”  (these are my words but could have been delivered by Mom during our waiting time).

I leave you with this final thought: Life is not just a pound cake, fruitcake, cookies or even pie. Life is a continual meal and has to be prepared on a daily basis.

LIVE LIFE, LOVE LIFE, AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST by adding ingredients and mixing it up with some fun ingredients.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced to original location if known for credit reference.

The Fun Is In The Kneading.

My last message was inspired by learning a new method for me in making homemade yeast rolls and how the dough had to be punched down with the analogy of how life works. As a curious soul and a serious baker, I decided to override my intimidation of yeast and go for some yeast rolls which my family loves. I had a great experience which proved very satisfying so I will share my experience.

I love to watch other cooks and bakers’s videos and I happen to see Mountain Cooking with Missy and guess what she was making. Yes, homemade yeast rolls. To watch the video, go to her page on Facebook and look for the video for Hot Baked Rolls or a similar title. She does a great job of simply instructing us through what seemed hard to do previously. I don’t have permission to share the video on here at this time. If I get the okay, I will edit this post to include the video. She doesn’t have a written recipe so I watched a couple of times and assembled the ingredients. I paused several times and it worked for me. I am including photos.

This is so exciting to know how to make yeast rolls and I am sure that practice will make perfect or at least close to perfection. What I want to share are my personal thoughts on actually experiencing how this analogy works with some added enlightenments I experienced.

I was interested in the blooming of the yeast and it seemed to come alive (actually does become active) and I referenced it to life beginning as our bodies and minds develop, we become active and begin to “grow” as the yeast did in the glass with the sugar. It occurred to me that it needed the sugar to help it activate and in life don’t we need love or as I like to say “sugar”?

I prepped the liquid of milk and softened butter as instructed and then added the magical yeast with an egg. I stirred and stirred until it was mixed and as I did so, I thought of how we mix family, friends, school, romance, and together they work as a future rising star. I cannot express the childlike anticipation I felt peeping under the dish towel that draped the unknown yeast but as I watched (periodically checking) it grew and you can see in one of the pics, it rose and rose. It is the same in life when we strive toward a goal, relationship, and or career. It is with excitement but can include stress too. We swell with pride upon success and we will get punched down a few times or even many before we can become what we strive to be.

The kneading was the most gratifying part of the process. The feel of “my dough” under my fingertips was so much fun. I see why my friends have love to make yeast dough. It is like a potter spinning the clay and watching the art become a reality.

I can go on and on with how much insightful this experience was and will be in the future as now yeast rolls and bread making is my new friend. This is relevant in life as we should never get stale in our relationships, religion, friendships, and our careers. We should be willing and actually enjoy the kneading required for each of these. The bread of life has to be kneaded properly or it will not be flakey and delicious as it can be.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material and photos are sourced to the original author and location, if known, for credit references.

MANAGING MY MIND MANAGES MY WEIGHT

I am happy to say that I turned 73 in June and now have lost 52 pounds! I thought this post bears repeating and even is more convincing with more results. I have a goal for next year at this time to report a possible loss of 10 or more which will put me at a 40 year lowest weight. My husband has jumped on the get healthier and in shape, but he will deserve his own post as he has made great and I mean great strides in the last 6 months.

I think this photo was taken when I was approaching the 50 pound loss marker.

Here is the original post that confirmed my life eating style change:

I am turning 72 in June and have lost 37 pounds. No, not by any miracle diet, not by restricting or avoiding any particular food……Smaller portions and when I eat the good foods outweigh the bad ones….Literally. Today, I am not an expert but I want to share my experience in a lifetime of fighting the bulge. I used to be an exercise advocate and to all of you who exercise, Kudos. As I got older, the thought of having to exercise is not as exciting as it used to be. I do stay active for my age but never do I hit the gym or track like the golden years of youth. Here is how I have gotten to where I am today and maybe, some of it will make sense to some of you and you get off the diet track and get on the eating the amount of food that you can digest without a lot of digestive side effects and maintain and/or lose some pounds. This is not a solicitation for any method of culinary preferences, just a woman who struggled for as long as she wanted and found a way to make it happen for her.

Arline Miller, 71 years old, 37 pounds lighter, and still loving life.

About 8 to almost 9 years ago, my husband encouraged or maybe the better word is demanded I go have blood work. I was the worst person as I felt good almost all of the time but had somehow began to fall asleep in the late afternoon even sitting up. I say this lovingly, and now appreciatively, I went to get him to stop saying everyone needs a check up at least once a year. Okay, so I gave in with no idea of what I was about to find out. First, I had always been on some kind of “diet” or “program” since I didn’t want to be fat so I could name so many diets I tried. My thoughts are any diet will work for the time you can stay on them. It is the harsh truth that it is almost impossible to stay on any diet for a long period of time. We get bored eating the same foods; we feel victimized and controlled so we rebel; or the excuse event such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, cruises, trips, etc and we make the almost guarantee to fail on the diet statement of “I will eat a little now and go back on my diet, just this one time and it will be fine.”

PHOTO OF ME before the weight loss and I wish i showed a picture of my whole body at the time. This is me at my highest weight.

On to the chapter of the doctor’s appointment: I go and cheerfully think I will be fine. I was just tired, no problem. I am a go getter and workaholic so that is why I feel tired. Right? No, Wrong. I will repeat the words my doctor said to me, “You are a walking time bomb. You are diabetic with your A1C at 8 with hypertension, overweight, and your cholesterol and liver enzymes are out of sight.” What was he talking about? I was close to tears, in shock, and thought he was a jerk. He had to be talking about someone else, not me, not superwoman. Oh, did I walk out of his office in a fog, a stupor, and thinking he doesn’t know me. I had always had a mental theory I was okay as I kept a positive attitude.

When I got over my pity party. Yes, I had a big one and even contemplated accepting the bad news and not doing a blasted thing about it and go on with my bad self. Then it hit me that he actually said, walking time bomb. Uh oh, that meant if I didn’t do something to change or diffuse this bomb in me, it was, or rather I would explode. I woke up in the reality, what I was doing was not the path I had to choose.

Food satisfies when it is dressed up for the celebration of a meal.

Next, all of the dieting experiences I had previously performed looked like the way to go. On one program, then to the next, and then trying another one as I had a hard time either eating all salads or meats, or only bland food. I am a rebel and this jerked my chain and I would think even when I was losing weight that I am not living; I am existing.

I decided once I had lost 17 pounds and wanted more off that me restricting my foods only raised the element of rebellion in me. One day, as I wake up very early, I had an epiphany to try to eat small portions of those foods I crave and eat healthy foods in larger portions so here came my new eating way of life. If I made potato salad, I took out a heaping tablespoon of it and placed it with my other food. If I made a cake, I cut a small slice, almost a sliver, but I ate it. I cut my portions of meat down to 1/3 of a fried chicken breast and yes, it was fried or from the air fryer. I eat a tablespoon or two of mac and cheese, rice, potatoes, and I will eat 5 or 6 french fries. I don’t ever take out large portions and I eat a half bowl of soup, spaghetti, or a small plate of mini portions. I eat a good size salad and use my dressing of choice but I don’t pour it on, I use it sparingly. The surprise from this change is I am full even with smaller portions and find I cannot eat a large quantity of anything. I retrained my mind and that is why the title of this blog is Manage Your Weight is To Manage Your Mind.

Make your plate pretty and now, my plate would be a salad plate and a lot less quantity.

If you want to try this method, don’t do it all at once. Try cutting the portion of the highest carb or sugar foods first. Breads can be cut out or lessened in amounts. Just be conscious of the amounts not what you eat. If you have a sandwich, cut it into four (4) square pieces. The mind will adjust and feel you have eaten more. The next time, make a half sandwich and cut into two (2) pieces. You will be amazed at how you will feel satisfied since the separate pieces will give you the satisfaction of more than one. Cut pieces of meat into smaller pieces prior to beginning to eat as you will see more pieces and it will feel like more. The next time, cut a larger piece of meat in half and do the same thing and so on and so on. Peel fruit and go ahead and separate the slices on your plate. The next time cut the fruit in half and you will find yourself eating a lot less over time. Make your plates pretty no matter what you are eating. That is something I do feel I do that makes whatever, even if small portion, is enticing and calms the cravings and satisfies my desire from food.

The old saying of make sure you eat everything on your plate is the root of all food evil. On this luscious and healthy meal, there is nothing wrong with eating small portions and repurposing food for another meal. I will have some blogs on my repurposing food anther time.

As I think that i will spend some blogs on how this process has changed my life and how much sweeter it is now that I know a small taste of something good, instead of feeling deprived keeps me on track. It’s the mind, not the diet, that causes the best things to happen.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced, if known to the original location for credit reference.

Reinvention Queen Revisits Potatoes

The following post was from almost a year ago and I decided that it is getting that time again for thinking of chowders, oyster stew, soups and chilis so what better way but to revisit this idea. Look for the other ideas for reinventing our normal foods into a new dish. Here is how I expanded some great potatoes into a delicious c

Yesterday, we were the recipients of one of my husband’s long time friend, David Fletcher who is an avid gardener, first bounty freshly dug new potatoes and awesome fresh garden grown onions. I was over the moon with the sight of the vegetables and I washed them off and thought of my childhood. Before I share both of my dishes, I thought I would reminisce a little.

When we were little, times were not easy but they were good. I don’t have a memory of a horrible childhood but rather a time much simpler than all the craziness in the world. We had neighborhood playmates and if we could be called a gang, it was an innocent one, and we now call ourselves the Willow Street Gang. One of those neighbors is smiling if he is reading this, as Duane Tucker and I jokingly refer to our days on that little street in my hometown of Douglas GA. Now, for the background story of the new potatoes or potatoes in general. To say our Mother could stretch a dollar for a mile, would be to insult that crafty lady. How she could make a meal out of almost no cost is still a mystery but one I remembered after I became an adult.

We may not have had a bounty of food but she always had just enough to feed us all. There were four children and two adults and one can of salmon would feed us and we left full. A mess of potatoes and we had the creamiest, tastiest, and filling meal. She would make bread to go along with it and sometimes if a neighbor had surplus and we got vegetables, oh yeah, we ate well. As I stated, she could make enough for us growing children to leave the table satisfied. When I made the fresh new potatoes, I was smiling while cooking them. Now, let’s move on to how I made two meals from this yumminess.

A large pot of stewed new potatoes with so much flavor.

Arline’s Stewed Potatoes:

  • Approximately 2-3 lbs of potatoes (new for me but regular russet potatoes can be used)
  • 1 large onion preferably sweet Vidalia or similar sweet garden variety chopped
  • 1 large box chicken or vegetable broth (chicken used)
  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • Mixture of garden herbs with more dill than others
  • 3 Tablespoons of Flour (either type, SR or AP)
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup Heavy Cream or Half and Half Cream
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 T Onion Powder

Scrub potatoes and cube into large bite size pieces. Place them into large pot with the broth. You can use some water in addition to broth if you need to fill to above potatoes. Add butter cut into cubes with crushed or finely chopped herbs as stated above. Cook until potatoes become fork tender on medium heat.

In a small cup, place some of the broth and flour and whisk until flour is dissolved. Add to pot and mix together. Add cream to potato broth with salt and pepper and onion powder and turn on low heat. Cook until they are very tender. Turn heat off and let the potatoes soak up some of the thickened liquid. (Tip: If liquid is not thickened enough, you can add a small amount of corn starch or mix small amount of flour to thicken to a sauce of richness.

These were so delicious that I almost didn’t make the next dish from the leftovers but I couldn’t resist the reinvention from them to the easiest clam chowder I have made. I made my simple but you can go wild with carrots, celery, whole kernel corn and use canned clams. The possibilities are endless but this one was put together in a couple of minutes with the biggest task of opening cans.

Reinvention Step of Enhancing Stewed Potatoes into Clam Chowder in Five Minutes.

To the pot of new potatoes, I opened three cans of Bar Harbor New England Clam Chowder but may I say, there are numerous brands of canned great chowders on grocery shelves so I used what was in my pantry. I added some celery seeds, garlic salt, mushroom seasonings, oyster sauce, and some Old Bay Seasoning to pump up the chowder flavorings. This I leave to all of you fine cooks, use your creativity. You can make it spicy and/or hot, but I go the middle of the road.

In a few minutes, I have a new meal so that it doesn’t reflect leftovers. This morning, I will return the chowder to the stove top and cook it very low and slow for all of the flavors to blend and when it is lunchtime, it will be Chowder Time at Millerville. All of this done with very little effort.

Here is the clam chowder complete with grated white cheddar cheese.
I seared some scallops marinated in buttermilk and herbs galore and seared them in a hot skillet with butter, grape-seed oil, soy sauce and oyster sauce. I made a roulade sauce. Definitely a delicious accompaniment to the chowder!

Until We Cook Again……Happy Meals……Arline Miller, Reinvention Queen.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material if used and original location and author are known, it will be sourced for credit reference.

Reinvent Yourself

As my nickname speaks, Reinvention Queen, I feel it represents a lot more than just reinventing food. Maybe the first step in reinventing anything should be reinventing ourselves. Today on the blog I would like to address this topic on how we can reinvent ourselves.

To begin with, if you have read some of my reinvention posts, you know that my motto (not original but a good one) is Waste Not, Want Not. This means we should not waste ourselves and if we make good use of our minds, bodies, and not to forget, our souls, we will not want.

One of the first steps in my Reinvention Process, I look in the refrigerator or pantry to see what I have available. Let’s get personal and look at ourselves in the mirror. Let’s look for opportunity and not vanity. While we take a minute to see our pros, we have to see our cons. I am never negative but I also am a realist. What are your best talents, attitudes, qualities, and integrity traits? What are your obstacles or as a cook let me say, what are your bitter tastes? Once we see the good, the bad, and the “ugly” and I am not speaking physical appearance. we can decide what new dish can be invented from the “ingredients” we possess.

Next, I look for combinations for making the most flavorful reinvented dish. I feel if we give our associations some mental workouts, we can re-evaluate what can mix well with our own ingredients. One observation in life I see is we try to make too many non compatible ingredients work instead of finding the workable combination. I want to relay a personal story at this point for all of us to recollect since I feel fairly sure you have a story too. When I was marketing and making what I call good money, my dear Mom, with good intentions, said to me, “Why don’t you get a regular job like teaching?” I looked at her having many great friends who were good teachers. I respected them highly but knew I made a lot more money than they did at the time and replied, “Mom, why would you want me to take a pay cut?” My point of this story is not to boast as many people I know make a lot more than I do and have many more benefits to draw from. My point is we have to look at our ingredients (talents) and make good decisions. My next point is even if we are in a good place, we have to keep our eyes open and be flexible. That, I find to be a valuable asset in my life is I chose to be flexible and willing to change. Look in your pantry, see what makes you smile, fills you up and satisfies you.

I can make a dish, enjoy it immensely, but I have a nature to want to see how it would taste if I changed it up a little. That’s what makes me enjoy cooking as it gives me an opportunity to try something new. This is the same way in life. You don’t have to quit your career and/or job, but look around, find something new to learn and try. Ask your employer can you expand your job, cross train, add a new dimension. You cannot believe how many times in my life, my curiosity overrode any boredom in doing the same old same old, if you get my drift.

Reinvent a dish that will have more appeal to kids. Reinvent yourself so that you will be appealing to everyone, kids included. One of my creations for our grands.

I find myself making two or three different dishes using the first initial ingredients. I pull one ingredient from one dish, add from another one, and throw in something new. I would not be happy if I was on an assembly line doing the same task over and over. Some people love that stability and they are happy in their comfort zone. I applaud them but that is not my ingredient list in life. What is your ingredient list? If you find yourself content as some steak and potato guys are, so be it. Life is good and that is all that counts.

Today, pull out your ingredients, see what might could be added or even subtracted to make the best life dish yet. Reinventing yourself may be the best recipe ever!

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced to original location/author, if known, for credit reference.

Reasons Why I Don’t Do Cooking Videos…Reinvention Queen

As much as I love cooking and baking, and yes, after being asked numerous times to do videos, I tried a few and it didn’t take long before I realized I am not cut out to do the step by step, measuring and attempting to work a video camera. My daughter who is a lot more savvy even saw how difficult it is. First of all, let me applaud all of you who have the patience to make them, I am impressed. However, I love to learn new tricks and I am enthralled by kitchen hacks, right? You are too. Here comes the BUT….I see so many mistakes and non preparation in these videos that it is hard not to become a critic. All in fun, but has anyone looked at the videos afterwards to see how they could be improved, or maybe in this time of instant recognition, some have a tendency to grab on to “stardom” and forget people are actually watching these videos.

Cooking comes second nature to me but the appeal of cooking is to grab a spice, or herb at the time of cooking and add it to see if that is the bomb. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but the talent of cooking is to have that inner talent of “fixing” a recipe. My daughter and I cook and bake a lot when she visits. We talk about what we want to try to make prior to her coming over. Missy and I may look at recipes but we never stick to a “formal recipe” as it is too much fun playing around with some of her preferences and my own take on the good combos of flavors. That kind of spoils a prepared presentation but allows us so much freedom of creating some powerfully flavored dishes.

We eat with our eyes first, so the appeal has to be considered when plating.

If we see the food bubbling or seeing the freshness of the ingredients, the appetite is heightened.

I will see I have a message on my phone and it will be her new version of a dish that she has thrown together for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I usually ask what’s in it and she has to stop and think what she added. When we discuss creating a cookbook, we have thought it should be titled, “A Little of This and A Lot of That” because that’s the way we roll. I thought I would give you my reason for not doing cooking videos and that reason may change as time goes on, but now, I would like to throw some pointers to those brave souls who attempt to be the next Paula Deen or Brenda Gantt. Here are my thoughts and they are valued at cents on the dollar and we all know how little that is now. Some of you who love to cook and who watch videos observe the same mistakes or at least I think you have observed these things too:

What to Check before cooking and/or Videoing a Cooking/Baking Show:

  • Check the background in your kitchen before you start videoing. I cannot tell you how much clutter and weird things we see which are distracting. The less that is visible in the kitchen area keeps the viewers’ attention on what you are cooking.
  • Semi-rehearse what steps you are going to take. Repetition of the same steps, over and over make the videos longer and sometimes very boring. The terms, this is how I like to do it, I, I, I, gets old after a while. An outline of the steps might be wise to create and try to mentally follow it. Natural is good but when I watch several of the videos from the same person, I cannot stay with it if it is the same old same old stuff.
  • Prepare a lot of the measured ingredients prior to video. The shows I enjoy the most are the ones who have measured the salt, pepper, seasonings, and the chopped ingredients. It is okay if you have a tip or shortcut for the viewer on chopping, but no one wants to watch five minutes of chopping, slicing, or mincing. I watched a lady peel about six large potatoes and then chop them just to demonstrate how to make potato salad. This may be a time that you pause the video after showing the first one.
  • Have space on counters for what is going to be done. Switching back and forth can work havoc on us ADD folks so keep the video smooth as possible and we know cooking is real and anything can happen so you cannot control every little step but you can control being prepared.
  • Choose non noisy utensils, banging in drawers, pots and pans, and any nuisance should be avoided. I have actually screeched watching videos and if I have, I guarantee it unnerves a lot of people.
  • Be aware of your appearance. I am not saying that only pretty people can cook but hair unkempt is not a good match to food prep, and clean nails, and clothes neatly worn are attractive and not distractive.
  • Conversations of personal stories should flow and should not slow down the cooking activity. We love the stories of the cooks as they allow us to get to know them, but it may be annoying when the cook/chef makes it all about them.
  • Make an impression by creating a good fairly short video instead of making your debut as a wanna be food network star. If people like the way you cook, your creative ideas, and your easy cooking talents, they will watch the next one.
  • I am no expert on this as I said, I don’t do videos unless I want to share the good times I have with my daughter in the kitchen which brings me to my last tip on videos. Just because you love your family and pets, it is not a good idea to have them continually say hello, help cook all of the time, and go over their adventures. Occasionally, this might be cute but if someone has tuned in to see how you make a cake, they are focused on the cake recipe, listening to you and your tips. There is no one that loves her family more than me, but my thoughts are Keep it Simple. As I said, occasionally, but watch overloading the audience with too much traffic during the cooking time.

I say all of this to possibly help some of you who are thinking about videoing. We are in a world of almost thinking it is okay to go with the person when they go to the bathroom and let nature take its course, but I am from the old school of there are moments to share and there are times for privacy. The videos can be entertaining more than educational. I think the combo is the preference for most of us. I have learned a lot of handy ideas and I appreciate someone taking the time to make a video. If you have tried to make one, you realize it is a big effort if it’s done right.

Live Life, Love Life, and Live and Love Life to the Fullest by taking a little time to prepare. Just loving to cook or trying to get it on video is sometimes not providing the full picture. The way I see it, if you don’t keep your kitchen clean, don’t offer to cook for me. Just Sayin’……Until We Cook and Clean Again….Arline Miller, Reinvention Queen.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced, if known, to the original author/location for credit reference.

My Birthday Present Is A Day In The Kitchen With My Daughter

Today, I am 73 and a happy 73 at that. I quit giving aging a thought years ago and just enjoy each day. One of the best things is my daughter who has lived across the country up until 2017 and we have learned we are different cooks but have a lot of similar traits. We will celebrate with my husband, my birthday, her birthday, and Father’s Day as well. We have worked on our menus, Greg and Missy have shopped for different ingredients. Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to Missy, and Happy Father’s Day to Greg. Here is a post that I made in 2020 and I am adding my latest salad delight, Watermelon Salad with no recipe for now, but this will be in a future cookbook that Missy and I are working on.

Arline’s Version of Watermelon Salad (recipe will be in cookbook)

Original Post: I have cooked since I was 12 or 13 in the kitchen since my Mom worked and on Saturdays, I began cooking for my family. It wasn’t sandwiches as those were the days when meals were meals. I could fry chicken or pork chops and there were side dishes. At that time, I didn’t bake anything but rolls. Looking back now, at age 71, I may have survived largely due to the time in the kitchen as my therapy sessions. I love to cook and bake and simply adore a post that someone used one of my recipes. For those of you who cringe at the thought, another type of hobby can do as much for you if it is something you love.

Here is the clincher. I have diabetes II and have had to monitor and watch what and when I eat. So, my cooking and baking is not necessarily for me but I love to spoil people with the dishes they love. One of the things that has helped me the most in managing my diabetes is I eat very small portions on a regular schedule. I don’t go long periods without a small piece of this or that and only indulge in a high carb or sugary dessert as a rarity. Over the years, I found that a spoonful of a dish can keep me from feeling I have been deprived. Some people do not have the will power to do this type of eating but it works for me and my A1C is dropping to a healthier level. My doctor said he was happy and I replied, if you are happy so am I.

I plan on sharing some of the meals/dishes I cook and believe me, they are mostly Southern dishes. I throw in some healthy dishes too but if you want more of them, watch my tab Healthy Bites at the top of my blog. I will try to add more of the yummy recipes there for the ones who love to eat healthier.

Another tip for all of you whether you are watching your weight, your health, or your happiness. Pretty food provides a mental ploy. When you see a plate that is “dressed up” your mind will be better convinced that it is also tasty. Look at this variety of salad photos for an example:

I show you these for a reason, as I found that making food a display of colors is more enticing that throwing it together without thought. Sure, it all goes to the same place but how you perceive it going down can be therapeutic and more satisfying. It is hard to imagine that you are sacrificing when you see the brilliant colors and taste the freshness. Are you beginning to understand how taking a little time, receiving satisfaction from the creation, and then tasting your reward can be a wonderful experience while at the same time filling your belly?

I hope you will try to become a food artist and while you are preparing your pretty plates of healthy choices, take photos and then look through them. I hope you see the art of eating instead of the indulgence. Good eating my readers!

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration with all rights and privileges reserved and to be used with permission. All third party material is sourced to original location if known for credit reference.

Reinvention Queen Is Reinventing How We Cook

Today, instead of showing several reinventions of meals, I thought I would give my readers an insight on how I think in my kitchen. I never think of only one meal when I cook, but how I can reuse the ingredients or even the whole dish in a new way that it takes away the sting of eating “leftovers” but a new dish with different and/or additional ingredients. I am going to list out my reinvention thoughts when I begin to prepare a meal. The list will be broken down into food categories and it may give more insight than showing recipes after recipes. I will continue showing you reinvented meals but let’s start with how it helps from the get go. Here’s the list:

MEATS

  • Seafood
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork

Each category offers flexibility in multiple uses and we will review how to choose, prepare, and store. I use shrimp a lot in reinvented meals but salmon makes an excellent source for my reinvented dishes.

Seafood such as shrimp or salmon can be cooked in larger quantities than the first dish and stored until it is reinvented. I usually begin with grilled, sautéd, baked and I will prepare the seafood to have at least three meals from the initially cooked meat. I am aware you are thinking why not prepare as you need it. Most certainly, you can do this. Maybe, I am hesitant about the multiple preps and cooking time. It makes sense if I am grilling, grill three times the amount in one grilling event, rather than prep three times and grill three times. When we are really “lazy” we buy the freshly steamed shrimp from our supermarket and work from the larger amount we buy. Salmon is prepped the same way, more quantity is bought, prepped, and grilled either on the grill, the air fryer oven grill, or sometimes in a pan, but always more is prepped and cooked than our initial meal.

The first meal was steamed shrimp topped with my homemade cocktail sauce.
One of the three follow up meals was this delicious Shrimp ala Arline Pasta. The shrimp were added after the cooking and blending and placed on top and covered to allow the shrimp to come to the same temperature as the other ingredients without recooking.

Beef is a common reinvention meat that several dishes are made from the initial prep and cooking. I will make meatloaf and work from that initial dish and reinvent another dish using rice or noodles. I have used my leftover meatloaf to make the best burgers or have used the meat in the base for spaghetti or soup. Beef roast becomes the main ingredient for a sandwich with other ingredients. Maybe the thought behind my reinvention queen mentality is what else can I make from the meatloaf or roast. Build from the first meat dish and I will remove and/or replace some ingredients in the next dish such as potatoes and carrots from a roast and make a pot pie from those ingredients with a different meat, such as leftover baked or stewed chicken. Use your refrigerator as a cold pantry instead of only thinking how many times will my family keep eating leftover meatloaf or roast.

Chicken is one of my favorite reinvention meats. I grill, I bake, I stew, and then I store the extra. If any of you have learned to reinvent, I will say you probably use chicken more in the recreated meals than other meats. I have stewed a pot of chicken breasts or thighs, or even both. I will store what I am not making the first day but don’t put it past me to recreate a new meal from the first dish too. Let’s say I make chicken and noodles the first day. Let’s put our Reinvention Hats on and think what could I make from that initial chicken and noodles? What if I add a crust which can be a store bought crust and use leftover potatoes and carrots from a roast I spoke about in the beef section. Throw in a can of sweet garden peas, even a can of whole kernel corn, some chopped or sautéd onions, and make a chicken pot pie. I would process the noodles slightly to encourage a thickened filling. Add herbs and seasonings to make the pie the preferred taste. How simple can that be? What about taking the breasts and/or thighs and either make a bbq sauce or use a bottled one and wallah, you have bbq chicken in a few minutes. Or what if you chop the cooked chicken and make a great chicken salad, adding celery, mayo, grapes, nuts, and seasonings. The ideas go on and on. The key is in the beginning. Don’t cook a small amount, think of the quantity of three meals/dishes would require. Cook the meat at the same time and a good tip is to invest in quality sealing containers. Never leave the extra meat out, but store immediately as this will give you a freshly cooked meat.

Pork is another great reinvention meat. Ham, oh sweet ham can be a great reinvention queen ingredient. I bake or Greg smokes the ham and I don’t do anything in the beginning as we want the presentation for the first meal. Greg will take the ham pieces off the bone leaving enough meat for a great bean or greens cooking. I make a base from cooking the bone until the flavorful broth is formed. Sometimes, and this is where I think about what can come next. I store some of this ham broth for multiple flavorful dishes. Never use the broth for one reinvented meal, think three if possible. I then will use the ham for breakfast meals with eggs or omelets. Some of the ham pieces can be used for a ham pot pie, or flavoring a soup, sandwiches, and even use in dips, or like deviled ham salad. I think you see what I am plotting and planning when I prep that ham in the beginning. Pork chops are a gift from heaven as they can be grilled, baked, and/or fried. After they are cooked, they can be eaten of course, but if you make enough, you can store the extra, chop and use in Pork and Rice, sau’te some of the chopped pieces with a mustard base with sautéd onions and peppers or a great sandwich and/or even a salad. I can go on and on many other ideas, but now is the time for you to get creative yourselves.

I reinvented the blue cornmeal muffins into my Cornbread Layered Salad and used a lot of the veggies and sauces I refer as my pantry staples. Reinvent, and recreate is my motto!

As a true Reinvention Queen, I found stocking my pantry and refrigerator with what I call filler foods. Mushrooms fresh and canned, onions, garlic, herbs, peppers, cheeses, cream and buttermilk, seasoning bastes, vinegars, balsamic vinegars, seasoning salts, and dried herbs, honey, sugar, cream of whatever soups, broths vegetable and meat, vegetable bouillon as well as better than bouillon, bread crumbs and crackers to make crumbs, flour (I use White Lily) WL corn meal, and specialty mixes for quick breads, and BUTTER as well as EVOO, and even shortening. That is a short list but it helps to have it on hand instead of trying to make a list every time for each meal.

For some of my reinvention meals, Search on my home page search for Reinvention Queen and several blog posts should come up for you to go one on one with me in my world of reinvention. Use What You Have and a philosophy I believe is WASTE NOT, WANT NOT! Have fun, try new things. Mix it up and create your own dish. Until we reinvent again………..Arline Miller, Reinvention Queen 2022.

(C) Copyright 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and permission reserved. Third party materials, if known, are sourced to original location/author for credit reference.

REINVENTION QUEEN HAS BEEN BUSY REINVENTING LEFTOVERS

While I played nurse to my husband who had a total knee replacement a month ago, we were homebound except for physical therapy and follow up visits. Since we work from home, I have cooked a lot for us and I love finding ways to reinvent a meal to eliminate that dreaded “leftover” syndrome. If it looks the same, we have a tendency to feel the Oh No, not that again. It has become a challenge, a fun one, to see what and if I can make it look new. Here are a few of my latest reinvention meals to share with you.

Remember, I am not trying to give you recipes but I want to encourage you to use what you have, try a few tricks of my trade, and waste not, want not. Open the door to your imagination, feel flavors, sense what will go with what, and experiment.

STUFFED BELL PEPPERS FROM LEFTOVER PORK AND RICE

My husband wanted to give me a break as I have cooked the three square meals while he recovered, and he made some awesome pork and rice in our InstaPot. He used cream of mushroom soup, can of mushrooms, chicken broth, salt and pepper. The rice, which I suggested he use Success Rice made in microwave and added at the last few minutes to prevent the rice from getting too soft or mushy. It was great but it made a lot so I thought what can I do to make a new dish.

Look at how great the InstaPot Pork and Rice made by Greg Miller looks and tasted.

I thought about some bell peppers I had in the fridge which needed to be used. Hmmm, remembering how a recipe I had created making stuffed peppers had rice and tomatoes and how could some yummy chopped pork not add flavors?

I cut the bell peppers in half, cleaned out the insides and coated with a small amount of EVOO and placed on the pan with a rack on top.

I mixed the pork and rice in a bowl. In my small chopper I combined a can of drained fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, chopped shallot, some leftover yellow onion pieces, chopped fresh garlic, seasonings and blended. This became the filling once mixed together with the chopped pork and rice. I added some grated Havarti cheese with dill too. Of course, I added some mirin, tamari sauce, and even a tsp of Worcestershire sauce. I added some goat cheese on top with fresh cilantro. I filled the peppers and baked on 350 degrees for 30 -40 minutes. See the photo for the results. For my summary, you could do this with leftover chicken and rice.

Here are the reinvented peppers I made.
Now, here is how I think when I make a dish, what can I do with the leftovers even from a reinvented meal….I placed the leftovers in one of our food saver bags and we sealed this for a future meal from our freezer. Free food…Love it.

Garden Peas with Leftover Spam Made Easy

I have made this easy breezy lunch all the way back when my daughter was in college. She makes it often without the meat, but this was my first time adding leftover Spam and it was delicious.

A quick summary as this is so easy, you don’t need a recipe: I can of Garden Sweet Peas, 1/2 macaroni, Spam which I had in fridge, butter 2 tsp., 1/4 cup half and half, Seasonings including Onion and Garlic Salt and enough chicken stock to cook macaroni. Saute’ Spam to give it a browned taste in pan, add butter and chicken stock and when hot, add macaroni. After about 4-6 minutes, add half and half, seasonings, and then add garden peas. Cook for same amount of time or until macaroni is cooked but don’t overcook macaroni. Cover and allow to sit for a few minutes and liquid will reduce into macaroni. This is cooked in less than 15 minutes. You can add boiled eggs, pimentos, and even cheese.

This doesn’t need a recipe. I seal leftovers such as small lima butterbeans cooked with leftover pieces of baked ham in our food saver bags and frozen. I had the cheese muffins leftover and thawed the butter beans and heated in pot. I added chopped shallots and chopped chives as a topper. This meal tasted fresh and took approximately 10 minutes.

I hope you will begin to experiment with leftovers by adding cheeses, meats, seasonings, make fritters from leftover veggies, and I am contemplating reinventing some of my great salmon patties into a breakfast dish with eggs so watch out for more from Reinvention Queen.

(C) Copyright, 2012-2022 Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration and Reinvention Queen with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced if known to original location and author for credit references.

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