Wednesday, July 8

*time to panic folks*

Grrreat, I just found out on facebook that I have a 10 year high school reunion in three months. Sigh, how on earth am I to drop ten years worth of stress eating in just three months! Anyone out there have any miracle cream or a plastic surgeon on speed dial?!

Monday, July 6

*Histories delicious mysteries*

Everyone knows that all families keep secrets, those little things that they go to the death to protect. Some things are just so terrible that little ol' ladies will boldly lie to family and friends faces, to their last breath if necessary. Some of these things are personal histories, some are serial killer aunties in foreign lands, more shockingly still, recipes! My family's dark little secret falls into, well, mainly the latter.

We are proudly Croatian. We hoot and holler as we watch Croats flying down the slope at the Olympics, we go to the mother land to serve missions for our church, and we even terrorize little campers as we take over massive reunion sites with hundreds of people. That is when we are at our best! We have take an entire lamb carcass, rub it down with herbs, and slowly cook it on a spit for hours, basting with a brush made of herbs. Yes, some people were really freaked out. Give me a break though, if you cant stomach to see where your food came from, you deserve to be a vegetarian! Sigh, sorry. Of all of this though, we have one thing that we have hid, cheated, and lied about for decades! Well, we may be a rather loose term. Those in my immediate family haven't had proper Croatian baking training to be in on the real secret, so it was not until my grandfather was passing on, that I got my first lesson in baking Pogacha and saw just how tricky the ladies in my family can be.

I went down to spend time time with my grandparents, and for the first time, I was really submerged into a mass of genuine Benac women who had been raised just outside of Chicago where my Grandfather was brought up in a Croatian neighborhood with his fellow Croatian immigrants. So, massed together I saw for the first time, the true power of generational recipes.

There is something so incredible to see how they are shared and passed on from mother to daughter for generations. My Aunt Liz got this particular recipe after taking my Great Grandma Sabina's hand measurements of flour, yeast and so forth and quickly scooping them into traditional measurement devices time after time to get a realistic recipe put together. She has now passed this on to the next generation. I did start this with telling you there is a really big secret. I know. This isn't me sharing my family history. Just wait one moment.

Ok, so back to when I was at my grandparents' house... my Aunts Liz and Ellen took me under their wing and did their part to Croatianize me. One night, in the midst of the worry and care, and we got together as girl friends in the middle of the night and cooked pogacha together. Grandma participated with delight as Zara (her sister-in-law and some sort of cousin) watched on with almost giddy anticipation, she wanted to be on the inside our our tightly held secret and she knew that if she just watched close enough with her 80 year old eyes, she might actually determine what it is.

You see, Grandma Sabina was known for her beautiful pogachas. They were a stunning yellow color, and family and friends always asked how she prepared it. They would watch the ladies in our family bake these over and over again, and yet still the mystery remained. The true question is, how with such scrutiny were we able to keep this secret to the golden hue? Simple, we lied. The bread is not such a lovely yellow because we added extra egg yolks. Though this is a favorite line used for decades, no matter how hard you try, add a dozen extra yolks, it won't make a difference in the world. After this sort of legacy, how was I, a novice, to keep it in the family without Zara witnessing our little slight of hand, after all, she had something to prove to her mother. We danced around the kitchen aid a flurry of flour and shortening, waiting for that one millisecond that Zara got distracted. We caught it at the same time, Grandma winked at me and I added the Benac family secret ingredient. . . 4 drops of yellow food coloring! Best part, after it all, Zara was none the wiser. The pogacha came out as golden as ever, and once again, we were able to gloat as she fumed that our bread is just better! I'm sorry, its in the genes.

Why do I share this now? Well I suppose it is because the rivalry seems to have belonged to a previous generation. That was a generation where neighbors would compare their breads, taking pride in the subtle nuances between them. Now, I am fairly certain that those older generations have all either passed on, or haven't the slightest inclination to search the blogosphere looking for buried treasure. These newer generations will have none of it. Why my own mother doesn't appreciate our tightly held secret! Oh, and not only does she not appreciate it, she pities Zara and the others finding it somewhat cruel that we even at that time of farewell, we found such pleasure in dear Zara's frustration. Well, fine. We may be horrible, we may be liars, but guess what? It is a bit of MY family history. It is something that actually brought my grandmother and myself closer together. I hadn't really enjoyed spending time with my grandma like that before, but in that one night as we baked with stealth and joy, our dirty family secret kept up together, the two of us against the world! Long live the new generations family secrets, I will defend you to the death!

*Oh, and the serial killer auntie... well to be fair, the town only speculates that she killed her husbands, and she lives in Croatia*

Sunday, July 5

*Fly lady and me*

I come from a home where I did not have to worry about things like cleaning bathrooms or bedrooms, ironing, and so forth. Occasionally my dad would have enough of it and call us together on a Saturday to pass out garbage bags and make us follow him around the house on a cleaning death march. Years later, I still have not adjusted to the idea of making my bed daily, doing the dishes, or the real purpose of mopping floors. I purchased and read several home cleaning encyclopedias, worked on making time in my crazy schedule to a cleaning routine, and got desperate enough to hire myself a maid. What? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

When getting on the Dave Ramsey plan, I tried to cut costs where possible. After a blissful several months of coming home to a sparkling home courtesy of my "house fairy," I had to take matters into my own hands and get a cleaning routine that fit. Enter the fly lady.

Marla Ciley started Fly lady for those of us who need a bit more guidance in basic housekeeping 101. She has a series of routines that ask no more that 15 minutes a day to keep your home in order. Check her out. The nicest part for me was not having to hide in the living room when unexpected guests came to the front door, but instead I would let them in knowing that I had an orderly home that I could be proud of.

This week Fly lady's, her focus is on the kitchen. Here are a few of her simple kitchen steps. Go to her website to get the daily routine, and my ultimate favorite tool of hers, the weekly home blessing hour.

Ok so here is this weeks list detailed list. Not everything needs to be done every month, by on a rotating monthly schedule, everyting will be completed. Enjoy!

9. SCRUB DOWN CABINET FRONTS (only a few at a time)