People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Buckwheat is Part of Our Gang

Have I ever mentioned my buckwheat pancakes?

Since we've been trying to eat better, I've been adding other foods to our diet.  One of those is buckwheat, which is good for you, but not so easy to eat or cook with.  If you use too much in baked goods, they end up gritty and kinda gross. I know this first hand.

One of my earlier experiments with buckwheat were these muffins that were wet and gritty and disgusting, and ended up covered in mold within a day. It was a great excuse to toss them, cause no one wanted to eat them anyway.

But after time, I've managed to come up with some recipes that we'll eat. Some we even like. And this is one of them.  You can add blueberries to these for even more yummy.

Buckwheat Maple Pancakes

    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/8 cup buckwheat flour
    • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
    • 3 packets Truvia
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tbsp maple flavoring

  • Directions
  1. Mix together all ingredients. Batter may be slightly lumpy.
  2. Pour by 1/4 cupfuls on hot greased griddle. Flip once.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 11
Calories 80
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 1.23g2%
 Saturated Fat 0.291g1%
 Polyunsaturated Fat 0.191g 
 Monounsaturated Fat 0.343g 
Cholesterol 35mg12%
Sodium 195mg8%
Potassium 52mg 
Total Carbohydrate 13.9g5%
 Dietary Fiber 0.6g2%
 Sugars 0.82g 
Protein 2.9g 
Vitamin A 1%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3%Iron 2%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Nutrition Values are based on USDA Nutrient Database SR18

Friday, February 25, 2011

Top 24 Finally Announced

My husband says I only like shows with vampires and zombies. That's entirely untrue; I also like aliens.

I mean, how else do you explain Beatles songs on American Idol?

Did the producers learn nothing from Kristy Lee Cook's rendition of Eight Days a Week? Look, if Sir Paul needs money that badly, we should all take up a collection or something, cause these kids shouldn't ever be allowed to put their muddy little paws all over Beatles tunes.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but clearly no one has paid any attention to me. They should have.

First of all, if someone says they've never heard a Beatles song before, they have no right trying to sing one. At all. Ever. How can you consider yourself a musical artiste if you don't know the Beatles? Please, just tell me that.

That rendition of Blackbird nearly brought me to tears. But that's mostly cause of The Dandy Warhols song with the line, "When Michael Jackson dies, we're covering Blackbird." So, clearly, Blackbird just makes me think of MJ's death. I think they had a lot of nerve singing it. The jerks.

Where is the vocal coach from hell when you need her?

Can I just say, that chick Ashley Sullivan, the one who got married in Vegas (at the same place as her idol, Britney Spears), while wearing pleather pants, if she's only 26, then I really am 27.

Anyway, I realized how totally not invested I am in the show so far when I checked the spoiler sites to see who made it through and it became apparent that I didn't know half of the names of these kids. More than half. I used to care about who made Top 24 and I pretty much knew who most of them were by this point. This year I had no idea.

So then I sat though four hours of musical angst and I'm still not sure who is in the Top 24.  I even checked the Idol site this morning before posting this blog  and they didn't have a list up.

Apparently, they don't know who anyone is yet either.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Idol Heads to Vegas, Baby

I'm not sure what last night's ep of American Idol proved.

Sure, we saw a bunch of people sing and they cut the numbers down to, what, 40? But I'm still fairly certain that I couldn't place even half of them. I mean, I know I'd recognize about 10 or 12 of them and I could probably name....maybe 6. But what about the others? How could we get an entire month into this show, a show that's on 2 to 3 hours every week and not be able to recognize 40 people.

I think there's more people than that on the cast of 90210 and I got all of them straight in the first episode.

It's like they're purposely hiding people from us until the voting rounds. Why? After 10 years, I guess I still don't get the Idol machine. I don't understand it or why it happens the way it does.  Clearly, the whole your-votes-make-them-stars thing is a complete load of horse hooey. I don't think I ever believed that.

Maybe our votes (or your votes, since I no longer vote - not since Constantine - OK, maybe once or twice, but hardly ever) count for about a third of the decision making process.  This show is cast. What I mean is, they pick certain types that they want in the Top 12, like the rocker, the country singer, the R&B diva, that sort of thing. Then they steer you towards voting for the people they want to be there at the end.

I'm not saying that they (whoever the heck they are) picks the right winner every time, but they have a plan when they start and they just try to lead you (like a lamb to the slaughter) to the "right" decisions.

But whatever. It doesn't matter cause this is just a silly reality TV show, folks.

As for who left and who stayed, I was a little sad to see the end of both Gutierrez brothers.  I almost liked them.

I was not at all sad, sorry or surprised to see the silly too-blond chick come up with some mysterious illness (it's called lack of talent, sweetie) and leave before the day got underway. Nor will I miss Chelsee, Rob's ex. She was kinda boring and annoying, all at once. Actually, the only good thing about her was Rob and she dumped him.

Probably, the best part of the night was when the judges were letting one of the loser rooms off easy and Randy Jackson was trying to tell them that this wasn't the end.  It's hard, he was saying, and Steven Tyler chimes in with, yes, it's *$%!ing hard.

He's gonna be so much fun on the live shows.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

And I Don't Mention Simon Cowell At All

It's the group round on American Idol.

Ryan Seacrest tells us, "And some of your favorites will be going home." While that's not entirely true, since I have no favorites and I don't care who goes home, it's still correct. It occurs to me while watching group round, the night of high drama and low meltdowns, that some people come out still looking good while others look like idiots. Sometimes the idiots go on and the good guys don't make it.

To those idiots, I say, sure, you're all excited to make it through now, but just wait until tomorrow night when they put you all in a room and cut you, just like that.  Cause, honestly, other than Antonella Barba, I don't recall any other Hollywood week group number idiots who made it past the last day. Feel free to comment if I've forgotten anyone or blocked them out.

So although I didn't really have any favorites going in to last night's ep, I was super sad about Rob. I liked him but he really messed up when couldn't remember the words to Forget You, cause it's just such an easy song. But he sounded good, I thought, even with his lack of words, and those two chicks sounded pretty sucktacular to me. Even without singing the words he was way, way better. I comfort myself by knowing that those two chicks are simply fodder for tonight's eliminations.

Also, favoritism aside, I was happy when that little baby boy, Jacee, found a group. Kids are so cruel, kicking him out of their group in the middle of the night. I wanted to slap that creepy white framed eyeglass guy and tell him how I think he looks just like a frog. A creepy, mean frog in glasses. But since this happened months ago and he can't hear me, I guess it's a moot point.

I didn't cry when Jacee made it through, either. Not really. Maybe just a little.

Although, and this is just an aside, since they had to let Jacee through or look like the meanest people ever, but didn't he forget the words, too?

And I have another question. Ryan said that 39 groups would be choosing from a list of 20 songs. So why did I only hear like the same five songs over and over again?  If I wasn't so lazy, I'd seriously consider re-watching the show just to count them.

But my life isn't long enough for that. And it's entirely possibly that they were singing lots of different songs, but they just all sounded exactly the same.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Now I'm Hungry

I don't know what it is with me and Asian food lately.  Maybe it's just that when you are trying to eat lighter, lots of veggies and rice sounds good. Anyway, so last night I made my first ever Green Pepper Steak. Not the first I've eaten, the first I've made.  I think it came out really good and tasted like take out, only better. Of course.

I happened to have some top round sliced very thin in the freezer.  I bought it back in November when I wanted to make some braciole and had about a pound of it left. (Speaking of braciole, there's this Italian restaurant called Sinatra's and they make braciole with pork and then they use it to make lasagna. Heavenly. In fact, it's only 9 am and I want to go there right now and have some. Right now.)

Anyway, I made the mistake of freezing the thin slices of top round all together, so I couldn't just take out a couple more pieces to make more braciole. I had to make something with all of it.

My husband had the bright idea of making some Pepper Steak and I remembered that I had that top round just looking to be made into something. So here's the recipe:

Green Pepper Steak


  • 1 lb top round
  • medium onion
  • medium green peppers
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    • 1/4 cup beef broth
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 3 cups cooked brown rice


  1. Cut beef, peppers and onions into thin strips. Chop garlic.
  2. Fry peppers and onions in oil until cooked but still crisp. Remove veggies from pan and add beef and 1 tbls soy sauce. Cook quickly and remove from pan.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to pan and cook to soften. Add flour to pan and stir. Allow to cook for a moment, then add soy sauce, beef broth and brown sugar. Stir and allow to heat until thickened.
  4. Add veggies and beef back into sauce. Stir to mix through and re-heat. Serve with rice. 
  5. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 53
Calories 278
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 5.88g9%
 Saturated Fat 1.304g7%
 Polyunsaturated Fat 1.521g 
 Monounsaturated Fat 2.383g 
Cholesterol 35mg12%
Sodium 993mg41%
Potassium 491mg 
Total Carbohydrate 34.21g11%
 Dietary Fiber 3.1g12%
 Sugars 7.32g 
Protein 21.56g 
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 58%
Calcium 4%Iron 14%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Nutrition Values are based on USDA Nutrient Database SR18

Friday, February 11, 2011

How Deep is Your Love for Hollywood Week


People still flock there in large numbers every year, probably every day. They want to become a Star, with a capital S. Hollywood week on American Idol shows us why so many of them end up, as the old song goes, parking cars and pumping gas.

Truthfully, I still don't have any one person who stands out that I really like. OK, maybe the guy that's with his ex-girlfriend who has that Joe Cocker vibe. The guy does, not the girlfriend. Possibly that other guy with the beard who looks way older than 19.  I liked them.

If that chick that Randy said had the most personality of anyone ever on Idol (clearly he's forgotten all about Mykala Gordon, and I only wish I could, too) hadn't been so annoying, I would have felt sorry for her. She was so confident and excited, and going home in the first round sudden death eliminations of Hollywood week has got to hurt. But I'm pretty sure the constant cheeriness and internet videos would have made me want to drop kick her by the end of next week anyway.

Also, I learned to hate the guy who was there with his girlfriend (they're rooming with the other guy and his ex-girlfriend) who got cut and kept trying to sing. Um, buddy, one shot means exactly what it sounds like. You get one shot and you didn't make the cut. Although, honestly, I didn't think he was that bad or that she was that good.

Actually, most of the girls sound pretty generic and interchangeable to me.  The only other chick I can even recall (who's not part of a duet) is the cute little blonde who sang an Aerosmith song at her audition (the one that Steven Tyler sang with, not the other one, which I guess does make her part of a duet) and Unchained Melody last night. (At least I think that's what she sang. And, by the way, isn't that Simon Cowell's favorite song?)

The group numbers are my favorite part of American Idol. I remember feeling cheated last year for some reason, like they cut Hollywood week short and we didn't get to see as much drama. But the real reason I love the group numbers is that sometimes this happens:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Auditions Are Over, Now Hollywood Week Begins

Last night on American Idol it was the night of tragedy.

We heard all about car accidents and deaths and house fires and unemployment and other sad, sad things in life. Of course, the most tragic of all was that girl in the beginning, weeping her way out, who said, if someone farts let them finish singing. Puh-lease. When, oh when, will the producers stop thinking stupid, staged stuff like that is funny? It's never gonna be funny. Not now, not ever. Never.

There didn't appear to be as many terrible singers last night, which is a plus.  I figure they were thinking, we can't possibly make people deal with all the tragedy and bad singing in one episode, so we'll go light on that tonight.

I don't remember liking anyone that much. But I do recall the transformer kid. Not that he was great or anything, but he wasn't that bad either.  I think the gimmick, while it got him noticed, probably hurt him more than helped him. Plus, who would want to walk around all day in that get up?

Well, there was also the I'm-supposed-to-remind-you-of-Adam-Lambert kid. But he was part of the tragedy lollapalooza, so he shouldn't really get special mention. He was OK, a little screamy, but I guess that's the Adam Lambert part of him.

I'm happy that this is the end of the truly terrible and that tonight we move on to the merely sad and inept.  Hollywood week always brings the drama and really separates the men from the boys, if know what I'm saying. The people who can't stand the heat, definitely have to get out of the kitchen.  Or just think up some other lame metaphor for people who can't take criticism.

Hey, I didn't say anything about Simon Cowell for once.  Or, wait...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not So E-Z Pass

I hate dealing with New York State.  No I really, really hate it.

I try to avoid government interference in my life as much as possible, but sometimes it can't be helped.  In this case, we have an E-Z Pass, which even sounds silly, when you know how impossibly not E-Z it is to have to deal with NYS.

We'd avoid it entirely if my husband's jobs don't invariably seem to involve lots of driving around to places where he has to pay tolls. Of course, this being New York, you can barely go five feet without having to pay for the privilege.

We also have the misfortune to have to deal with the New York State Sales Tax Department. Another place that's filled with winners. The couple of times we've had to actually go to the office to deal with stuff, they are basically sitting around chatting, reading the paper with their coffee and ignoring the lines of people waiting for attention.

So, anyway, E-Z Pass has to have an account from which to draw money and, generally, they seem to take as much as they want whenever they feel like it.  I know there must be some rhyme or reason to it. I think when your balance drops below a certain amount they take more. Well, as it turns out, at the end of December, beginning of January, they took money out three weeks in a row! As a result, of course, the bank account we have set aside just for them was depleted and the bank wanted to charge me a huge fee.

I fought off the bank, transferred in more money and then got a notice from E-Z Pass saying that my account balance was low and I needed to set up another payment method. This was three weeks after I had dealt with the situation. But now I had to call the bank again and make sure the transferred money had made it in, which it did, then I had to go online and re-instate that account with E-Z Pass.  I know it sounds easy, but it wasn't.

While I was in that account, I noticed something.  Back in the summer when my husband traveled to Niagara Falls, and thus over the Grand Island Bridge, every day, he had signed up for some special program. Apparently, if you go into the GI office, they can set you up to get a discounted rate going over the Bridge.  But here's the fine print: You have to go over the bridge at least 20 times per month.  If you don't, they charge you for times you didn't go over.

That's right. You heard me. They charge you for the times you DIDN'T go over the Bridge.  Huh?

So I notice that the account has had all these deductions, for the past several months, which is basically us throwing our hard earned money off of the Grand Island Bridge.  I'd like to throw NYS E-Z Pass off there with it.

I wasn't sure how to fix this online, so I was forced to call. My first call throws me into an automated system that somehow determines who I am by the phone I'm calling from and then, before it lets me talk to someone, tells me my account is closed and hangs up on me.

My account is not closed. Yet.

So I have to call back and to avoid being hung up on again by an automated system, I just start pressing the 0 key. Over and over and over, while she keeps saying, "you have pressed an incorrect key" until she finally gives in and transfers me to a human.

I'm guessing the customer service rep I finally get is located in New York City (or possibly India, which wouldn't surprise me in the least), mostly cause of his accent, which is so thick I'm having trouble understanding him, and his attitude, which screams New York rude at me.

I explain my entire problem to him. He asks me all these security questions and then says, "your husband has to call in and ask us to remove that program from his account." "Um, buddy, what do you think I'm doing right now?" OK, so I have a little bit of my own New York rude.

So without exactly telling me what's happening, he says, "Do you know the pin number for the account?" I tell him what it is. He says, "I'll transfer you to the automated confirmation system" and suddenly, I'm back with the auto chick, who asks me to put in my pin number, thanks me and hangs up again.

Now I have no idea, did it work? Are we removed from that program?  Cause I have no plans on calling in there again anytime soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe for Turkey Lentil Stew

Thought I'd share another recipe. I made a lovely minestrone soup this weekend, but I haven't written that recipe out yet.   Here's another recipe for a stew I made a couple of weeks ago with ground turkey and lentils.

This was the only picture I took, while it was in the pot. It doesn't look too appetizing for some reason, but it was really good. Even for me and I don't like lentils or spinach.

Turkey Lentil Stew
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsps sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1 tsp leaves thyme
2 large carrot
2 stalks medium celery
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
3 potatoes
10 cups water (or broth)
1/2 cup dry brown rice
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup spinach

  1. Brown turkey in olive oil and season with spices. While turkey is browning, add chopped onions, garlic, celery, carrots and potatoes. Keep stirring so nothing sticks and allow all veggies to soften slightly and turkey to become completely cooked.
  2. Add water and bring to a boil. (I happened to have 10 cups of veggie broth that I had left over from steaming veggies, lots of flavor, but no salt or calories added.)
  3. Once pot comes to a boil, add rice and lentils. Turn down heat and allow to simmer for about 45 mins to an hour.
  4. Add corn and spinach. Stir and allow to heat though for about 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Friday, February 4, 2011

So What Happened on Idol Last Night?

Didn't watch American Idol in real time last night.  For one thing, on Thursday its opposite The Vampire Diaries and that's not a good place to be if you want me to pay attention to you. But, honestly, anyone who really knows me, knows that I prefer to watch Idol with my finger on the fast-forward button anyway.

I don't remember what happened. Seriously. I have no clue. I know I watched the show, but I have no memory of it.  Probably because TVD had several scenes with Ian Somerhalder in the shower. That sort of thing tends to confuse my mind for a while. Although I was a little unhappy at the beginning because part of the ep (still talking about TVD here) was wonky for some reason. Like the CW had some issues. If I didn't know I was watching an HD TV on an HD channel, I'd have thought someone was messing with the bunny ears.  The picture got all wavy and lined and then started flipping and finally settled with the bottom on the top and the top on the bottom, so that on the close ups people's mouths were above their eyes.  It eventually righted itself, but I didn't like it while it was happening.

But I still have no recollection of Idol. It's possible it was so bad that I've simply repressed the memory.  I plan on keeping that way.

In other news, I was talking to this woman yesterday. She was really nice and we hit it off right away, like you do sometimes with strangers. So we somehow got around to mentioning American Idol. I think I was telling her about my blog, cause why wouldn't I, and she told me about her crush on Simon Cowell and how she wasn't going to watch this season without him (just like me) and how she (just like me) somehow got sucked back in. It's like I always say, this show is evil and not in a good way.

Maybe it would get better if they had Ian Somerhalder in the shower.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

American Idol Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

It's a terrifying but true fact that I was actually looking forward to American Idol last night. What happened to me in just a few short weeks?

I had heard yesterday how Ryan Seacrest announced on his radio show that the producers were going to make a public apology for "Steven Tyler's outrageous behavior last week." I knew it had to be some sort of lame joke. The same sort of silly stuff that the Idol  producers always seem to think is funny when it's just really stupid. As it happened, since it was right at the start of the show, I pretty much missed it anyway. Besides, what in the world were we supposed to think that Tyler had done that was so bad?  Sure he's a creepy lech, but he hasn't done anything more outrageous than any other Idol judge.

The saddest part of that is how Ryan goes right along with all the lameness.  When he's playing around with the contestants, you can just see him making fun of people without them being aware of it, but still in a nice way. He seems like he's genuinely funny with a good sense of humor and just an all over nice guy. I have to believe that he only goes along with all the lame producer humor in a tongue-in-cheek kinda way. Although last night, when he kept hugging that 17 year who's in love him, I was a little concerned that maybe Steven Tyler's lecherous ways were rubbing off on him.

I kept thinking that if she makes it past Hollywood and sticks around for a while, she may turn 18 and then all bets are off. I can think of worse ways to get your CD some air play than by sleeping with a prominent producer/radio show host/TV personality. Watch out, Ryan!

In the time it took me to tell you about the not funny Idol humor, I completely forgot whatever else I was going to say. It may even have been about some of the contestants. But the only one I can recall at this moment is the cowboy, John Wayne something...John Wayne Gacy, John Wayne Bobbitt. No, those aren't right.  But whatever. He sang country (no surprise there) and he loves his mother (clearly he's the forgiving sort, cause she was responsible for naming him John Wayne).

Other not so interesting events were....well, I can't think of any right now. But I do have to say I notice that Randy Jackson is different this year. Not only is he now the mean one (with Simon Cowell gone, someone had to do it) but he's more in charge and I'm hearing a lot less "Dawg" and "for me for you" and other random babbling.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think our little boy is growing up.