believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman

 

Pre-Step, Step

I continued my deliberately slow crawl toward Ketogenics, and crashed into convincing.

Third Step: Entice myself with palatable recipes from the marvelous world of internet recipes and Instagram using the helpful, happy hashtag #keto. It was so easy I almost don’t remember pre-internet. Oh, I have a vague recollection of taking the train to the Boston Public Library because whatever I was looking for couldn’t be found in the high school library. Of course, I used the opportunity to visit record stores and Quincy Market, too. The web kind of negates those opportunities. I mean you find what you’re looking for and you’re still on your couch.

Anyway, to my delight, I almost over-dosed on pictures of possibility; smorgasbords of scrumptious. From click to click, most everything looked excitingly edible. Jalapeno Poppers are Keto? Ok! Cheese stuffed chicken? Ok! Ricotta Pancakes with blueberries? Ok! Coffee Bombs? Umm…ok. Kale & Collard greens, well, probably not… but that was ok!

After much gleaning and self-reason, I reassigned this lifestyle to ‘maybe.’ If, I ease into it. Quite a few of the sites warned against the gentle-in approach, but the big leap just wasn’t fathomable.

Still, I decided to take the next logical step for me: Follow multiple easy steps agreed on by numerous sites, which actually means after dilly-dallying, I’d be back at the recommended start of my journey.

Easy Step 1: Choices were deplete cabinet full of food by wasting or deplete cabinet full of food by eating.

My choice? Re-home as much as possible, and then, do a little of both of the above.

From the cabinets, give-aways included: quinoa, lots of individual packages of nuts (with corn solids), canned soup, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned and jarred tomato sauce, pickles, dehydrated potatoes, many forms of pasta and rice, baking mixes, cake mixes, muffin mixes, packaged seasonings, packaged dry soups, a wholesale store sized tub of window pane pretzels, salsas, unopened jars of jelly, tortilla chips, microwave popcorn and popcorn kernels and Pirate’s Booty, crackers, canola oil, vegetable oil, and low-fat everything – salad dressing, mayonnaise, imitation butter in various forms.

It was a little hard to let go of my jar of Ms Renfro’s BBQ sauce, as it’s a rare one that does not contain pineapple. Bottled wing sauce was another struggle, but knowing I could create my own keto version helped.

Remnants of a near empty bag of Christmas cookie flour and a half-eaten jar of peanut-butter made the toss along with some surprisingly expired canned goods.

There were a few items tucked away into an emergency stash….

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 05 overwhelm is easily negated jakorte

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Processed Foods: Good ?

Processed Foods: Good ?

Processed Foods: https://bodyecology.com/articles/hidden_dangers_of_processed_foods.php

Keto-Train (-ing)

First Step: on-boarding due diligence: review counsel reading list. 

I checked out Amazon for Kindle for availabilities and costs. Post-perusal, I contemplatively pursed my lips and rerouted my research to the www.

The first pop-ups included ads and what seemed to be sensationalistic attention grabbers. There’s a real search engine war out there in internet space. The good-for-you camp is as well attended as the ridership on the bad-for-you bandwagon. Eventually, I refined my search to “ketogenic recipes,” and happily hit a deep vein.

These super friendly, language casual, photo enticing and aiming to-grow-readership sites simply and thoroughly listed exactly what could be eaten with very little variation. That’s because the almost verbatim lists of can-do are infinitesimally smaller than the don’t-do. 

Despite the fact that these groups were a bit kinder, the echo of my first reaction returned loud and clear. “What? No. ” I moved on to the next logical level.

Second Step: Ignore a day or two or four, then revisit, and try to imagine physical behavioral compliance….

Despite studies and testimonials, I still dragged a dejected soul. From regular work lunchroom brown bagging to full-on celebrations, so much of life is about socializing with food. Going along for the fun and having an iced-tea would make me feel less left out. But, could I truly resist the ordering influenced by delicious aromas? Plus, not eating during these excursions would mean money could be reallocated from ‘dining out’ to ‘groceries.’

Yes, my budget is that specific. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know this. If you haven’t been with me for a while, well, now you know. I have yet to cover this topic in Knabble, although I have in previous forums. I think a side-track from this side-track may be in order, soon.

Quote for the Week:2017 11 28 just because something is good for you doesn_t jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Lifestyle: Motivation

Lifestyle: Explaining Ketogenics

Lifestyle:  = Diet + Nutrition

 

 

Uncertain Pie

I did a test run, because no one wants to eat bad pie. Especially not on Thanksgiving.

Backtrack just a tiny bit to July of this year, when I discovered I was getting older. It’s not like it’s not an annual event. Yet, for some reason stringing them all together as the years go faster and faster was ne’er fore minded or after minded. Pretty much, not minded at all.

So, when a new specialist physician gave me orders that I couldn’t imagine they would be willing to follow themselves, I couldn’t imagine I’d be following them, either.

I’ve never attempted to keep two story lines going at once, before. Just know – there’s a new blog just around the corner, I am affectionately calling, “Keto-tonic.”

So, that’s how I ended up uncertain. My first attempt was a little knabble-fied, as usual. I miss-moshed a raved crust with a gloried filling from two different sources. Yes, I knew I was flirting with danger, but the description “Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake” assured me, it would taste just fine.

I also, might have tried to use the ingredients for one filling and the instructions/cooking directions for another. And maybe, I assumed I knew what I was doing when I mixed all the filling ingredients together instead of layering them as one version explained.

You know, it came out ok. Not at first bite, nor the second. By the third tentative taste, I felt I’d come close to a restricted diet dessert I would be willing to share without embarrassment. Just to be certain, I enlisted samplers. They didn’t not eat it, so that was encouraging. They also, didn’t leave any to slide into the garbage bin, which was also uplifting. We all agreed, it could use more spice. They helped me figure out that it’s better to be upfront about the non-traditional crust.

I was still a little uncertain whether this culinary creation would be acceptable for Thanksgiving. After a day of debate, I decided to go ahead and make another one, following the instructions at least a little more closely. The second round began tonight and is still the oven….

Instead of an unfirm cheese-cakey-pumpkin mash-up filling, I layered as I was supposed to originally. 2/3 of the cheese base mixture went straight into the pre-cooked almond-flour crust. The remaining 1/3 combined with the pumpkin carefully set atop. The purple pie plate kinda hindered my determining if I’ve achieved any real separation. As to whether this time I’ve achieved the correct custard consistency… the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.

The thing is, if you’ve got no expectations, it’s really good.

If you explain that the almond crust isn’t flaky and adds its own flavor flare:

If you don’t explain it’s supposed to be precisely layered just in case it comes out marbled:

If you don’t offer it up specifically as Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie: you’ll be better off.

I think. I hope. I’m not certain.

 

(I’m bringing my full-sugar, un-monkeyed with, homemade cranberry sauce, as back up.

And I’m certainly thankful I’ll be sharing both with family.)

Quote for the Week:2017 11 21 Baking requires certainty jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Cranberry Sauce: How I do it

Pumpkin Cheesecake: How I didn’t do it

Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling: How I kinda did it

Almond Flour Crust: How I kinda did it (2)

Photo Essay Interlude …

Because old printed pictures tell a good story ….

First, the entire 8 foot by 8 foot Michigan Hot Sauce Club store! (See “Club?” blog)

Hand stamped spirals, hot pepper curtain, plastic shelves, and register counter.

2017 10 24 MHSC Store Layout jakorte

Next, the continuation of the driveway corn experience! (See “Canned” blog.)

We cooked 3 – yes 3 – pots of corn. Canned some plain, some with green peppers, chili peppers, onions and celery.

2017 10 24 Canned corning jakorte 10 24 2017

 

Plus, Jeff’s sense of humor and creativity – cabbage and cookies!

2017 10 24 Jeff took this picture cabbage

Stay tuned for next week’s blog: Stockings

 

 

 

 

 

Club?

(First, an embarrassing tidbit. So, I’ve mistakenly miss-remembered a crucial detail about our store. It was not 10 x 10. All of the newspaper article clippings I’ve saved clearly say that the space was even ridiculously smaller at only 8 x 8.  This makes me laugh. As do the many news articles, which I’ll share coming up.)

Jeff got to thinking… maybe having ‘Tecumseh’ in our name was too specific, too limiting. “Maybe we’ll want to open another store, someday, in another town.” he adorably, optimistically supposed.

I told him I liked the way he was thinking, and got to thinking, myself, too. I threw out, “Michigan Hot Sauce Company,” but that still seemed plain. And, then, from nowhere, I surprised myself and Jeff, too, by stating, “Michigan. Hot Sauce. Club.”

“Club?” Jeff wondered aloud in my direction, “but, we can’t call it a club if we’re not a club…”

“Well,” I started, “technically… we could be.” Looking at our dream blueprint, I pointed out that we were halfway there. We were already planning a monthly newsletter mailing; we already were planning on a ‘club’ type frequent buyer card.

All that was missing was meetings.

“We’re gonna having meetings? About what?” Jeff wanted to know.

“Well, maybe not ‘meetings’ exactly.” I explained. “I’m thinking special club member invitation only taste tests. Cooking demos. You love hot sauce and know so much about it. Do you think we could ask our members share recipes and make a cookbook out of that?”

Jeff’s big grin split and lit up his face. “You’re a genius,” he said. “I love the way you think!”

With a wonderful name on our lips, a license number to provide, we went into fast action. By this time, we only had two and a half weeks left in our promise to be open in three weeks. Timing was important because we wanted to be ready by the big ‘Grand Opening’ announcing the newest stores in the mall on September 23rd, 2004, and to be sure we still enough time to get our name out there before the Christmas and gift giving season.

We split up to divide and conquer and briefed each other throughout the day and every evening on our progress.

I had: décor, licensing, marketing, banking, budgeting.

Jeff had: fixtures, locating a manufacturer for our salsa (because we didn’t have and couldn’t afford a commercial kitchen), and the important cornerstone of hot sauce.

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 17 its embarrassing to have to fact check your own life jakorte 10 17 2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

About That: Memory

Fact Checking: Memories

Broadway Cat and: Memories

 

Dream-Talk

In the few days before lease signing, we checked to see if there was another hot sauce store anywhere in our vicinity. There wasn’t. That was good.

We needed a license, but first we needed a name. I thought there was an advantage to having a Tecumseh store address and that Tecumseh should part of the name.

Tecumseh Hot Sauce Company and Tecumseh Hot House were contenders, but boring. We tried to find something that rhymed with our last name and made sense with what we would be trying to sell. That didn’t go well. It was impossible.

Jeff suggested Jeff & Jodi’s Joint. I debated whether or not that could be misconstrued for a bar or a head-shop. It also didn’t say anything about what we were trying to sell. For example, The Chocolate Vault in Tecumseh obviously sold chocolate. They sold other stuff too, of course, but at least it was specific enough.

We decided to keep working on the name game, after dinner. Over Jeff’s homemade tomato sauce and pasta, we dream-talked about what would make our store wonderful. A frequent buyer card, taste testing, grand opening mailing list, a good variety of product.

It was also important to get a solid idea of what kind of up-front cash we would need.

In retrospect, I don’t suppose it matters what type of retail space you have, if it’s only 10 x 10.

There are many advantages to limited size: cheap rent, not a lot of room for fixtures, limited stock space, and one person can cover the whole store by themselves. I know some of these don’t seem like good things, but when you have small, your expenses are small.

Sure, only 2-3 other people could fit in there at a time, but that was good for conversation, which Jeff was very good at. Because I’d worked in retail in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York City, I happily declared that this would prevent shop-lifting stock loss.

“But,” Jeff tsk-ed.,“…this… is… Tecumseh…” he finished with obvious hometown pride.

Clearing the table, I pitched another possible store name. “Hey, how about Jeff & Jodi’s Hot Spot?” I proposed. “Boy,” he exclaimed on a burst of laughter, “I don’t think of hot sauce when I hear that …. sounds like you’re talkin’ ’bout your lady parts!”

“Eek!” I giggled. “Fine,” I volleyed back. “How about just Jeff’s Hot Spot, then?”

“Nah,” Jeff said. “I don’t like that. We’re doing this together.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 10 where you come from effects how you feel about where you are

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Choosing a Business Name: Don’t

Choosing a Business Name: Do

Choosing a Business Name: Licensing