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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Macaroni Salad

I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of recipes for macaroni salad.  Here is how I make macaroni salad...which I learned from my Aunt Alice...who learned it from her Aunt Bunny (Bunny's real name was, unfortunately for her, Berniece.)

I make this about ten times each summer because my husband is in love with it.  He will take big containers of it to eat for breakfast and lunch.  It's not exactly healthy as a meal option, but then how much better is a doughnut, a hot dog, or pop-tarts?

Here is what the recipe card from Aunt Alice says--quoted--so the jokes are hers!  I had to find it because I haven't actually used the recipe card in ages!

1 cup macaroni
1 green pepper, chopped     ]        
1 cucumber, chopped         ]  put the amount that you
1 chopped onion to taste    ]  like for these
1 or two tomatoes, chopped  ]  ingredients   
Miracle Whip -- 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons (or more -- to taste)
Season Salt -- to taste (secret ingredient!)
You can put any number of items into your salad...shredded cheddar cheese, pieces of chopped ham, tuna, peas (fresh or frozen that have been thawed), bacon bits, chopped hard boiled eggs (would be hard to chop unboiled eggs--here's my sign!), olives, etc.

I do make my salad a little bit differently.  I use a one pound bag of large shell pasta; I've never seen Alice use anything other than elbow macaroni.  The first time I made macaroni salad for Trevor I used the shells because they were on sale, and I'm a cheapskate.  Now he thinks the salad "tastes funny" if I use anything other than shells.  I think it is all in his head! 

Also, I don't put any green pepper in it.  I put cucumber, white or yellow onion, tomatoes, and cheese.  My husband prefers Kraft Crumbles Cheese if I can find them, but they are hard to come by I either finely chop bulk cheese OR I use shredded. 

Lastly, I use Spin Blend instead of Miracle Whip. 
My husband is so in LOVE with Spin Blend that he had his Mama send it to him in care packages when he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California and in Okinawa during his Marine Corps days...that's dedication to a salad dressing!  If they ever stop making it, he may have a mental breakdown.

Aunt Alice likes to chop everything up really small...I don't have that kind of patience, so my husband gets big chunks.  The cucumber, tomato, and onion are all from our garden!  That makes the salad taste even better!
Boil the pasta to al dente...still pretty tough.  Mushy pasta in a pasta salad is just icky!  As soon as you drain the pasta, rinse it with cold tap water until the heat is out of the pasta to stop the pasta from cooking further and to prevent the pasta from becoming one giant ball of goo!

When the salad is first made, it should seem pretty gooey.  The noodles will suck up a lot of the salad dressing.  If you don't make it kind of gooey, the salad will be dry when it is served.

It's best if a macaroni salad gets to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours and get good and cool.

Don't put too much season salt...if you accidentally dump a whole bottle of SeasonAll in the I did one time...don't try to save it...just throw it away and start can't wash that much salt off the noodles...just trust me!

This is how I measure things...2-3 "big glops" of Spin Blend and about that much SeasonAll...I know...real scientific!
What's your favorite summer salad?

Have a super Tuesday, and take care of you!

Summer Blog Challenge for August 6

**Do I have a favorite author?**

This is really a loaded question for someone who works in a library!  I have lots of favorite authors...depending on the genre.  We just had a questionnaire go around for a "staff pick" display at our library. 

Here are some of my favorite books--books that somehow changed my view of the world or, at least, have stuck with me for years and years:
  • Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Masque of the Red Death, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat  by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Scarlet Letter and Rapuccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Any of the Post Secret books compiled by Frank Warren
  • Garden Spells, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
For Children / Teens, these are my recommendations...books I loved as a child:
  • Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery -- This trilogy is by the same author as the Anne of Green Gables.  The Anne series is good, but the Emily series is AWESOME!  I read this three or four times between fourth and seventh grade...they are that good!
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Charlie's Monument by Blaine M. Yorgason -- This book is out of print, but if you can get it for kindle or maybe find a used copy.  I've read this book seven or eight times.  It is about 100 pages but it teaches so many lessons about overcoming adversity. 
Now for the truth...for my own entertainment I read mostly romance...the smuttier the better.  Here are my favorite romance writers (the higher up on the list they are, the less smutty they are!) 
  • Kaki Warner -- good, solid western romance
  • Jayne Ann Krentz / Amanda Quick -- same writer who writes under different pen names
  • Marianne Stillings
  • Linda Howard
  • Robyn Carr
  • Jennifer Crusie
  • Carly Phillips
  • Jo Davis
  • Kate Angell
  • Rachel Gibson
  • Susan Donovan
  • Stacey Kayne -- She only has about 4 books published, but I sure wish she would write more!!
  • Lori Foster
  • Jill Shalvis
  • Lora Leigh
  • Bella Andre
  • Shiloh Walker
  • Lucy Monroe
See...loaded question for someone who LOVES to read!  Have a wonderful week, and take care of you!

Summer Blog Challenge for August 5th

**What is your dream job**

I don't have one "perfect" job in mind.  I think rather than the actual work, I focus on how a job makes me feel.  My dream job makes me feel needed, yet respects my needs.  It is low stress--at least not harmfully stressful.  It makes me feel like I am able to make a small difference in the world.  It's something I enjoy doing.  While I sometimes think it would be great to be a prosecuting attorney or a dog trainer/groomer or a nurse or a civil the end of the day, I know working part time at a library in a quiet Nebraska city is pretty darn wonderful!

Take care of you!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Blog Challenge

Aug 3 -- What Helps You Get Through Meltdowns...

I'm not sure if this prompt is means personal meltdowns or your child's meltdowns, but I am going with the "personal meltdowns."
  • I generally overeat while having meltdowns...chocolate is always good.
  • A good cry is great.  It releases a lot of tension.  As long as this isn't something that happens too often, then it really can be cathartic.
  • I talk to friends and family that understand me and why I'm having the meltdown.
  • EXERCISE!  When I decide I'm ready to get off my pity pot, the best thing for me is to go for a run or go to a Body Pump class at the Y.  Even when I fight exercise, I always admit that I feel SO MUCH BETTER after I've pushed my body.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Jam out to the tunes...drown out everyone else!
  • I pet/cuddle with my doggies.  They love me even when I'm in the middle of a full meltdown.
Courtesy of
Have a great day, and take care of you!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Preserve It!

I love books published by DK publishers...they have great pictures and easy instructions.  The book PRESERVE IT! is another great offering from DK.

This book has sections about natural storage...ever wondered how to properly store onions for the winter?  This book explains it and shows you how!  There are also sections on drying fruits and vegetables (without a fancy dehydrator), freezing fruits and vegetables (including a list of what freezes well), and of course the jams, jellys, chutneys, preserves, and pickles.  There are also instructions for preserving in oil and canning fruit in alcohol.  There is then a section about salting meats and vegies, curing meats, smoking meats, and making sausages (like fresh chorizo.)  Finally there is a small section about brewing and wine-making.