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Trusting the Experts

I recently had an experience while shopping that was probably as frustrating for the salesperson as it was for me. I walked into a store that often helps women choose an ensemble for an event—weddings, formal parties, dances, etc. I walked in looking for a pair of pants of a particular style and color. The shop did not have exactly what I was looking for. The sales person made several suggestions, but they were not in line with what I had in mind. She was absolutely an expert in her field, but I was not looking for her type of expertise. I just wanted a pair of pants in the style I was looking for.

The experience made me think about trusting my experts. I intentionally surround myself with experts so I can make use of their expertise. Some of those are paid experts. Others are friends. What they all have in common are:

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Strawberry-Kiwi Jam

My husband, The Furry Guy, puts jam on and in all kinds of things. He’ll use it to flavor his yogurt, top his ice cream, sweeten his grilled cheese sandwich, and more. Years ago I adapted this recipe from one I found in a now-defunct cooking magazine. It’s delicious. What’s great, is that you don’t have to add pectin, since kiwi fruit has enough pectin to thicken the jam.

Remember that the atmospheric conditions can greatly affect your jam. The time you’ll need to boil the jam in order to get it to the right consistency will be different on a cold, dry January day than on a hot, humid August day.

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Happy Easter

Easter is on April 21 this year. That’s next Sunday, as this column drops. I don’t talk a lot about my faith in my column. If you know me, you know that I am a follower of Christ. I attend church regularly. I do my best to live a life pleasing to Christ. I do it far from perfectly, but I do my best.

I talk a lot about Christmas, but Easter is actually my favorite holiday. It’s intensely personal for me. So, while I don’t talk about it a lot, my year basically centers around Easter.

The church I attend is Chapel Ministries Outreach (CMO). It is somewhat informal. It’s non-denominational. We aren't perfect; we're simply a group of people who are doing their best to live out what Jesus modeled for us. If you don’t have a church home but would like to spend Easter Sunday with a group of friendly people, consider this a personal invitation.

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Look Good for the Wedding

Yay! Someone’s getting married! Whether that’s you, your son or daughter, your best friend, or someone else you’re close to, you’ll want to look your best. And looking your best can include some of your local experts. Let’s look at who can help you and what you’ll want to take into consideration.

Your Hair

You need to ask yourself a few questions about your hair. First, do you want to do it yourself or have your stylist do it for you on the day of the wedding? If you want your stylist to do it, make the appointment as soon as you have the date. Seriously. If you know the wedding will be Saturday, June 20, 2020, make the appointment today for that morning. (If they don’t have a calendar yet for that date, check frequently so you can make the appointment as soon as possible.) Allow plenty of time for not only the appointment but also for delays, problems, and such. Also, schedule a trial run on the hairstyle a couple of weeks before the wedding. This way you can make sure that you’re both talking the same language and you like the way the style looks on you.

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Grilled Cheese Month

April is Grilled Cheese Month. You’d think that grilled cheese would be pretty simple. It’s bread, cheese, and heat. But the possibilities are almost endless.

An open-faced sandwich, a slice of toast with cheese melted on top, became popular in the US during the 1930s. Cookbooks from the US Navy describe broiled “American cheese filling sandwiches” during World War II.

The great thing about grilled cheese sandwiches is that you can make it as ordinary or extraordinary as you like. Add some zip by using mayonnaise instead of butter on your bread. Change up your cheese and/or your bread.

One of my favorites is to use a yeasty roll such as a Kaiser roll. I slice it in two, butter each half, and toast it. Then I add two slices of American cheese to the bottom slice and top it with the top of the roll. I cover the whole thing in the pan for just a minute or two, until the cheese is melted.

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Black Forest Cake Day

Black Forest Cake Day is March 28. The combination of flavors in Black Forest cake is one of my husband’s favorites. Typically, it’s a dark chocolate sponge cake layered with whipped cream and cherries.

It’s not actually named for the Black Forest mountain range but for the cherry liqueur (Kirschwasser) from that region that was part of the original dessert. Cherries were cooked and then served with cream and liqueur. Cake made of cherries, cookies, and cream probably originated in Germany.

The Black Forest cake we think of these days was first mentioned in writing in the 1930s. It was associated with Berlin, but it was available at high-end bakeries in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

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A Year of Columns

For a year now I’ve been sharing random thoughts with you. I’ve shared recipes. I’ve shared some of my expertise. I hope you’ve learned something and been entertained. I’ve enjoyed every minute.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. I hope you’ll stick with me for the next year, as well.

I’d love to hear from you. Is there a topic you’d like for me to cover? Is there a cuisine you’d like me to explore? Just let me know.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share my family’s favorite spaghetti sauce recipe. It’s undergone some changes through the years. I first got it from a family I attended church with as a teen. If I recall properly (that was a lot of years ago), the family had Sicilian roots, and this was a family recipe. Over the years I first adjusted it to add a bit more heat. More recently I’ve removed a little of the heat and made it a bit sweeter. To be honest, I don’t really use a recipe anymore unless I’m making it for company.

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Pack Your Lunch

Today (March 10) is National Pack Your Lunch Day. What do you think of when you think lunch? Salad? Sandwich? Burger and fries?

If you take a lunch with you to work or on your errands, you might want to think outside the norm. I often do a more European take on lunch—some olives, a few nuts, some fresh fruit, a bit of cheese, and maybe some good, artisan bread. I think of it as having “bits and bobs.”

Wraps have gotten very popular as a lunch item. You can wrap the filling of your choice in a flatbread, a tortilla, or even lettuce. It’s a great way to use up leftovers from last night’s dinner.