Archive | February 2017

A Recipe of My Own

The other day, I was forced to create a recipe of my own. A friend gave me a bag of squash linguine from Sunrise Creative Gourmet. She received it as a gift and didn’t think she would like it because she doesn’t like squash. Since I never made that sort of pasta before, I tried to find a sauce to go with. The Sunrise Creative Gourmet website recommended making an olive oil and parmesan cheese sauce. It also indicated that roasted vegetables, chicken, or salmon would make a good addition. While I searched the Internet for a more specific recipe, a recipe that called for a third of a cup of olive oil looked like a good place to start. The rest of the ingredients didn’t sound appetizing, so I made it up as I went along, keeping the Sunrise Creative Gourmet’s suggestions in mind.

While the water for the pasta was heating up, I poured the olive oil in a large skillet. I had already sliced the chicken into bite-sized pieces. As the chicken cooked and filled the house with a delicious-smelling aroma, some of my favorite recipes came to mind, and this is what got combined:

Chicken, Squash Linguine with Olive Oil
and Parmesan Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

1-16 oz. package of linguine (squash, if you can find it; regular, if you can’t)
1.25 pound package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 big clove of garlic, minced
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup red pepper, chopped into ½-inch pieces
15 grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup lemon juice
½ to 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chicken in olive oil over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic, onion, and red pepper and heat until red pepper is cooked through. Add tomatoes, parsley flakes, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and lemon juice.  Cover pan and simmer until tomatoes look a little wilted. If the pasta is done cooking, drain pasta, add pasta to skillet, and mix altogether. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy.

The flavors blended together nicely.  The funny thing is that the pasta didn’t really taste like squash! It might have been that the onion and garlic overpowered that taste. Any old sauce would have tasted okay, but it’s better to have this recipe of my own.  Besides, this concoction disappeared faster than it took to make. If you try it, let me know if you like it!

How Netflix Ruined My Writing Routine

It took a long while before Netflix made an appearance at our house. Before then, I rarely watched TV. I’d have one or two favorites I tuned into once a week, but once Netflix arrived to our home about two years ago, I got hooked. At first I was able to stick to my writing routine, but the idea that limits could be enforced flew out the window the moment I discovered the first episode of the first season of an addictive show: Breaking Bad. How would the main character, Walter White, weasel his way out of all the trouble he got himself into on a daily basis? I waited for what I thought was his true character – an honest chemistry teacher – to shine through and conquer his evil, nasty drug maker and dealer side. I was surprised how fast I got hooked because this show wasn’t even remotely similar to other shows I watched. I mean, Walter White is so different from Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie!

Once I made it through all the episodes of Breaking Bad, a friend recommended Mad Men. Donald Draper loomed large over the television screen almost nightly. Mr. Draper’s charismatic personality charmed both women and men with his advertising talents, among other things. 😉  During each episode, I waited for what I thought was his true character – a person wanting to show love and be loved – dwindle away. Would he ever find happiness and stop being such a womanizer? You’ll have to watch and see.

As I commiserated to a writer friend about how I was becoming addicted to Netflix, she advised that writers should watch shows to give us ideas to use in our own writing. So I happily continued on while pen and paper waited on the sidelines. Netflix was like a box of chocolates sitting on the kitchen counter. I just had to have one more.

Parenthood became one of my favorites. The drama in the characters’ lives kept me hooked like any soap opera would. Even though there was a lot of arguing between the grown brothers and sisters, their young children, and the grandparents, it helped them resolve or work through the many problems they had to deal with. The series taught me a bit about autism since one of the children and an adult struggled with the disorder.

Heartland, a Canadian drama TV series about a family living on a horse ranch, was recommended by another friend. Finally, back to my Little House on the Prairie roots in a modern sense, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery of Alberta and watching how Amy helped the traumatized horses get back to their normal lives. With a more relaxed story line, I was able to nod off and figure out what happened without hitting the rewind button. (This show is still in progress.)

At first, Switched at Birth didn’t seem like it had a realistic plot because the teenage girls that were switched ended up living close together after one of the daughters figured out she wasn’t her parents’ biological child. However, I enjoyed how the show brought up everyday problems of teenagers and how their friends and family found solutions. The series also shows the problems deaf teenagers and their families deal with and viewers might even learn some sign language along the way. (This show didn’t have a true ending, and I am not sure more episodes are forthcoming.)

The Tutors, a show about King Henry VIII, is a historical drama. This one had me Googling events to see if what was happening was factual. I ended up learning a lot about history but had to cover my eyes during the gory torture scenes. I kept waiting for the king’s life to get better, but I knew not to expect a happy ending.

Reign, a show about Mary, Queen of Scots, also captivated my attention. Even though we might think the life of a queen would be luxurious, it doesn’t look like a job for the weak and timid. I’ve read this show is not true to actual events, but it does seem to follow some of the life events of this queen. If you listen closely, you will hear modern tunes played by the orchestra. (The next episode will soon air on regular TV on the CW network.)

Doc Martin, a show which takes place in a seaside village in England, ends up being the one that gave me the most laughs. The small town scene helps the viewer get acquainted with the quirky characters of the village. I wonder if the grumpy doctor will figure out how to have a more pleasant bedside manner and be able to keep his wife and son close to his side. (Doc Martin has six seasons on Netflix. The seventh season will hopefully arrive to Netflix soon, and the eighth season will be its last.)

Now, all I have to do before I get back to my writing routine, is to get through the first season of Stranger Things, a new Netflix original series. The children in this show are what keep me watching. Will they find their missing friend? What worlds will they have to explore to find him? Will they find out all the mysterious super powers of the girl, Eleven?

All this busyness of keeping up with what’s on Netflix could have possibly ended up with a writer creating about five books the size of War and Peace!  I’ll never be able to catch up to Netflix, but maybe I can catch up on my writing.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship,
stories are the thing we need most in the world. ~ Philip Pullman