Archive for November, 2015

Productivity!

November 30, 2015

Keeping your focus and staying productive on a regular basis can be a challenge at times, but here are some apps for your SmartPhone that may prove helpful:

Best iPhone apps in the category of “Organization and Productivity” for 2015
50 Top Productivity Apps (LifeHack)
20 Best Productivity Apps (Tom’s Guide)

And, here are some of my favorite quotations on “productivity.”

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” — Bruce Lee

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

“It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.” — Nathan W. Morris

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” — Voltaire

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”  — Leo Babauta

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”  — Pablo Picasso

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College Football 2015, Week Thirteen!

November 29, 2015

127Following their signature victory on the road at #3 Ohio State last week, the Spartans climbed to #5 in the College Football Playoff rankings.  In this, the final week of the regular season, there are plenty of games of significant importance, so hang on, this could get interesting.  Michigan State ended the Big Ten regular season at home this week hosting the Nittany Lions of Penn State.  The Spartans won easily and will now head to the Big Ten Conference Championship game next Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to face the undefeated Hawkeyes of Iowa.  There are only two unbeaten teams remaining (Clemson and Iowa) and the Big Ten Conference has five teams in the CFP rankings (four in the top-10):   Iowa [#4], Michigan State [#5], Ohio State [#8],  Michigan [#10], and Northwestern [#16].

Next up for the Spartans: the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference Championship game on Saturday!   Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Notre Dame (#6) losing to Stanford (#9) by two (2) points.
Baylor (#7) losing to TCU (#19) in overtime.
Florida (#12) losing to Florida State (#13).
Navy (#15) losing to unranked Houston.
Washington State (#20) losing to unranked Washington.
UCLA (#22) losing to unranked USC.
Toledo (#24) losing to unranked Western Michigan by five (5) points.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
Clemson (#1) defeating unranked South Carolina by five (5) points.
Utah (#23) defeating unranked Colorado by six (6) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Oklahoma (#3) defeating Oklahoma State (#11).
Ohio State (#8) defeating Michigan (#10).
Ole Miss (#18) defeating Mississippi State (#21).

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Sixty-Five!

November 28, 2015

For all of you garlic-lovers out there, here are some easy tips and tricks to help you work with garlic.

  • To peel with ease. . .
    • pour hot water over the cloves and whisk, drain water, and peel with a paring knife.
    • use a rubber jar grip (roll cloves inside) or kitchen gloves
    • hit the clove with a brick (or similar heavy object)
    • microwave on high for about 10 seconds
    • blanch in boiling water for about 15 seconds
    • smash with chef’s knife and place in bowl of cold water
    • wet your fingers before peeling
  • Other tips . . .
    • grate garlic (create a puree)
    • using a cheese grater is quicker than mincing
    • mince using a food processor
    • salt will prevent garlic from sticking to your knife
    • for thin slices, use a truffle slicer
    • add lemon juice and salt to marinade (mellows the taste)
    • cold water and stainless steel will remove odor from hands
    • washing hands with lemon juice and salt will remove odor as well

Source: How to Cook an Egg by the editors, contributors, and readers of Fine Cooking magazine, p. 115-120.

Some Reluctance on My Part!

November 27, 2015

Here is a word that you would do well not to confuse with its closely spelled but differently pronounced (and defined) counterpart.   One is defined as “reluctant or unwilling” and the other as “feeling great hatred and disgust (for a person or thing).”  Here’s a sentence that should help you distinguish and remember the difference between these two terms: one should be eager to love and loath to loathe.

loath

\ lohth \, adjective;

1.  unwilling; reluctant; disinclined; averse

loathe

\ lohth \, verb;

1.  to feel disgust or intense aversion for; abhor

Source: The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich, and http://www.dictionary.com

Order!

November 26, 2015

Here’s the next installment of manners and etiquette (courtesy of the Goops)?

Order
Make your soldiers march away,
When you’ve finished with your play.
Lead them to the barrack-box,
Make them carry all your blocks.
Teach your doll to go to bed,
Not to lie about instead;
Tell her she must clear away
Everything she’s used to-day.
All your playthings and your toys
Must be trained like girls and boys.

Source: Goops and How to Be Them: a Manual of Manners for Polite Infants Inculcating Many Juvenile Virtues Both by Precept and Example by Gelett Burgess.

Cooking on All Cylinders!

November 25, 2015

What exactly differentiates a “cook” from a “chef?”  Brian Geiger, in his blog post for www.finecooking.com posits two characteristics: creativity and career.  A chef is paid to make food.    He further differentiates the two by stating: “A chef has to be responsible for the soul of the food. A chef should have a deep understanding of how to cook many types of food, what flavors go together, how to handle kitchen equipment (knife skills come in handy here), and so on. A chef should not require the directions part of a recipe, and usually shouldn’t require the amounts in a recipe, either.”

Additionally, I ran across this quotation by A.A. Gill that sums it up beautifully as well.

“The difference between a chef and a cook is the difference between a wife and a prostitute.  Cooks do meals  for people they know and love.  Chefs do it anonymously  for anyone who’s got the price.”

I definitely fall into the “cook” category.

A Little Sweet and a Little Spicy!

November 24, 2015

Here’s a recipe (courtesy of Taste of Home) that is super easy and sounds super delicious . . .  can’t wait to try this nibble food.

Sweet and Spicy Peanuts
3 cups of salted peanuts
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of hot water
2 Tablespoons of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Siracha or hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon of chili powder

1.  Place peanuts in a greased 1-1/2 quart slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the sugars, water, butter, hot sauce, and chili powder.  Pour over the peanuts.  Cover and cook on high for 1-1/2 hours, stirring once.

2.  Spread on waxed paper to cool and store in an airtight container.

College Basketball 2016, Week Three!

November 23, 2015

127Michigan State faced an early test this week against Kansas (#4) at the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago.  The Spartans did not look sharp (numerous turnovers and fouls) and trailed most of the game.  But they were able to come from behind to win.  The Spartans also had no trouble at all in their win over Arkansas Pine Bluff later in the week.  The Big Ten currently has five (5) teams in the AP top-25: Maryland (#3), Michigan State (#13), Indiana (#14), Purdue (#21), and Michigan (#24).  And even though the season has barely gotten underway, we have already experienced a slew of upsets, so these rankings are quite apt to change.  Ah, the parity in college basketball continues to confound.

Next up for the Spartans: the Eagles of Eastern Michigan University (tonight) and the Eagles of Boston College (Thursday).  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
North Carolina (#1) losing to unranked Northern Iowa by four (4) points.
Kansas (#4) losing to Michigan State (#13) by six (6) points.
Virginia (#6) losing to unranked George Washington by five (5) points.
Wichita State (#9) losing to unranked Tulsa.
Utah (#16) losing to unranked Miami.
Baylor (#20) losing to Oregon (#25).
Butler (#22) losing to unranked Miami.
Michigan (#24) losing to unranked Xavier.

The close calls this week (won by six points or less [two scores] or in overtime) included:
Maryland (#3) defeating unranked Georgetown by only four (4) points.
Duke (#5) defeating unranked Georgetown by only two (2) points.
Oklahoma (#8) defeating unranked Memphis by six (6) points.
Utah (#16) defeating unranked San Diego State by five (5) points.
Utah (#16) defeating unranked Temple by six (6) points.
Vanderbilt (#17) defeating unranked Stony Brook in overtime.
Oregon (#25) defeating unranked Valparaiso by six (6) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Kentucky (#2) defeating Duke (#5).

College Football 2015, Week Twelve!

November 22, 2015

127Michigan State was on the road this week traveling to Columbus to face the Buckeyes of Ohio State and they played without their star quarterback, Connor Cook (major bummer). The Spartans played their best defensive game of the season and came away with the victory by kicking the winning field goal as time expired!  Woohoo!  What a game.  Only two of the top-25 teams remain unbeaten (Clemson and Iowa).  The Big Ten Conference currently has six team in the College Football Playoff poll (three in the top-10): Ohio State (#3), Iowa (#5), Michigan State (#9), Michigan (#12), Northwestern (#20), and Wisconsin (#25), though these rankings will most probably change tomorrow.

Next up for the Spartans: their final home game of the Big Ten Conference season hosting the Nittany Lions of Penn State.  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Ohio State (#3) losing to Michigan State (#9) by three (3) points as time expired.
Oklahoma State (#6) losing to Baylor (#10).
Utah (#13) losing to unranked UCLA.
LSU (#15) losing to Ole Miss (#22).
Houston (#19) losing to unranked Connecticut by three (3) points.
Memphis (#21) losing to unranked Temple.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
Notre Dame (#4) defeating unranked Boston College by only three (3) points.
Florida (#8) defeating unranked Florida Atlantic by six (6) points in overtime.
North Carolina (#12) defeating unranked Virginia Tech by three (3) points in overtime.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Oklahoma (#7) defeating TCU (#18) by only one (1) point.
Oregon (#23) defeating USC (#24).
Northwestern (#20) defeating Wisconsin (#25) by six (6) points.

Trivia in the Kitchen,. Number Sixty-Four!

November 21, 2015

How important is the size of your eggs when cooking and/or baking?  Some times the size matters (baking a cake, making custard, etc.) and sometimes it doesn’t (making a frittata, making a strata, or just using beaten eggs).  But if the recipe calls for large eggs and you only have medium or extra-large on hand, they you may want to consult a handy substitution chart.  The first thing that you will want to do is measure the volume of your substitute eggs (beaten/blended) and then use the equivalent amount to what a large egg would have given you.

1 large egg, beaten = 3-1/4 tablespoons
2 large eggs, beaten = 6-1/2 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, beaten = 9-2/3 tablespoons (1/2 cup + 1-2/3 tablespoons)
4 large eggs, beaten = 12-3/4 tablespoons (3/4 cup + 3/4 teaspoon)
5 large eggs, beaten = 1 cup

The weight and composition of eggs is as follows (average):

Extra-large eggs: about 2-1/2 ounces per egg, or 1/4 cup (2-2/3 tablespoons white and 1-1/3 tablespoons yolk)
Large eggs: about 2 ounces per egg, or 3-1/4 tablespoons (2-1/4 tablespoons white and 1 rounded tablespoon yolk)
Medium eggs: about 1-3/4 ounces per egg, or 3 tablespoons (2 tablespoons white and 1 tablespoon yolk)

If you recipe call for 3 eggs or less, make a direct substitution (size won’t matter), however, when your recipe gets above the 3 egg limit (4,5, or 6) use the following substitutions:

  • in place of 4 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 5 medium
  • in place of 5 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 6 medium
  • in place of 6 large eggs, use 5 extra-large or 7 medium

Source: How To Cook An Egg by the editors, contributors, and readers of Fine Cooking magazine (Molly Stevens), p. 68-69.