Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Sichuan Campaign

Sichuan cuisine is the most unique of the eight main regional cuisines.

Famed for its bold flavors and use of strong spices, this cuisine was strongly influenced by Indian cuisine.

As foreigners, including Buddhist missionaries and Spanish traders, began travelling through this landlocked, mountain-ringed province along China’s famous “Silk Route.” they introduced the locals to the characteristic spicy flavors of Indian cuisine. The people of the area eventually developed their own unique cuisine based on these influences, a cuisine that is so very different and distinct from any other Chinese cooking styles.

Even though this cuisine is famous for being spicy, not all Sichuan dishes are spicy., many Sichuan dishes taste like fish or fried tangerine.

 

 

Let’s take a look at some of the conventional Sichuan ingtredients…

—As far as meat, Sichuan cuisine gives you your typical meats—such as chicken, freshwater fish, and pork…but you will also find more unconventional ingredients—such as shark fins and bear paws. You will also find that air-dried meats are commonly used.

—As far as sauce, Sichuan cuisine tends to use more sesame paste, fish sauce, ginger juice, sweet-sour sauce, garlic puree, red chili oil….(and soy sauce, of course)….

—As far as spices, Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan pepper…lots and lots of Sichuan pepper…as well as chili peppers and garlic.

—As far as other ingredients, Sichuan cuisine leans more toward pungently flavored vegetables such as garlic and onions. Nuts and seeds are also commonly used in Sichuan cuisine.

 

A few of the most popular Sichuan entrees that you might find on the menu, kook for…

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to De-Funk Your Kitchen—Enhance

Now that you’ve gotten rid of whatever it might have been making your kitchen smell terrible and taken the time to clean out the fridge and shelves from rotten food, it’s time for a more fun thing to do…enhance the odors around your home.

Here are a few ideas…

Air Freshener…Use plug-in air fresheners, stand alone air fresheners, or spray air freshenera.

Air Vents…Clip a car deodorizer to the metal slats of your air vent. As the air blows through the vent, the scent will waft throughout the room

Baking…The aroma of warm baked goods—such as cinnamon rolls or banana bread—will fill the house with a pleasant scent quickly.

Baking Soda…Leaving a box of baking soda open in your fridge actually does absorb any smells in your fridge.

Candles…Candles are almost a given in any room, right? 

Charcoal....Putting a piece or two of charcoal in a bowl in your fridge will absorb smells, just as baking soda does.

Citrus…Collect any orange, lemon or lime peels. Bake them at 350 degrees for a few minutes. When you open the oven door. they will make your kitchen smell wonderful.

Cleaning…Use great smelling products, such as Dr Bronner’s,

Diffusers…Diffusers, both electric diffusers and reed diffusers, can be used along with your favorite essential oils to create a more pleasant smell.

Dryer Sheets..Tape a new dryer sheet to the back of your buffet or china cabinet. Also could stash one where you store your kitchen towels and stuff.

FloorsSoak a cotton ball with something that you really like the smell of…such as your favorite perfume or essential oil. Then drop it into the vacuum cleaner bag. As you do your regular chores, the vacuum will gently release the scent into the room.

Houseplants…Houseplants—such as geraniums, Arabian jasmine, eucalyptus, gardenias, corsage orchids, and Cuban oregano—are not only attractive but also clean the air.

Lights..Before turning your lights on, place a couple drops of vanilla extract on your light bulbs.This will gently spread the scent once you do flip the lights on and make your home smell like fresh-baked cookies.

Sachet…Use scented sachets—little fabric sacks filled with cinnamon sticks, dried lavender, dried herbs, potpourri, or scented rice—to give your drawers a more pleasant, yet natural, aroma.

Simmer…Another easy way to freshen the air would be a “simmer pot.”

To do this, fill a small pan with a cup or two of water. Next add what you are going to simmer. Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then let simmer for a few hours on your back stove eye, adding more water as needed. As the water heats, the scent will be permeated throughout your kitchen and house.

Some good ideas as to what to simmer include…

  • a drop or two of essential oil
  • a handful of cloves
  • cinnamon sticks
  • citrus slices
  • fresh herbs—such as lavender or mint
  • lemon and orange peels
  • vanilla

Tea…Make a pot of homemade chai tea by first boiling 3C water with 20 cardamom pods, 15 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 1Tbsp ginger. Simmer 5 min. Add 3 tea bags. Brew and then strain. Finally add milk and sugar as needed.

Vinegar… Set a small bowl of vinegar on your counter whenever you are cooking something with a definite odor, such as fish…honestly think that I’d rather smell the fish than the vinegar though right?

Wreaths….Buy or make your own kitchen wreath using fresh herbs…such as this wreath Creek Side Farms.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to De-Funk Your Kitchen—Eliminate

I have heard so many women advise new brides that If you haven’t started dinner before your husband comes home from work, start cooking some onions…and they will think that you have been cooking for hours.

I know that times have changed…

But onions haven’t changed…

And neither have odors throughout your home…unless you do something about them.

So I thought this would be a good time to talk about eliminating and enhancing the odors throughout your home, mainly your kitchen.

Here are a few of the areas around your kitchen that you might want to consider if you want your kitchen to not smell like rotten eggs…

1.Windows…If you have a window in your kitchen, one of the easiest ways to start making your house less stinky is to open the windows so that smells don’t linger.

2. Kitchen Surfaces…If you are going to keep your kitchen smelling great, it should be kinda obvious that your kitchen should be clean, including your cutting boards and other areas where you prepare your food. This will not only get rid of any smells left behind, but also kill bacteria.

3. Garbage Disposal…There are many things that you could run through your garbage disposal on a weekly basis to eliminate any smells. Not only will this keep it from smelling, but it will also kill bacteria.

These “things” include…

  • Baking Soda
  • Essential oil, such as peppermint, lavender or rosemary
  • Ice Cubes
  • Lemon Juice
  • Lemon or orange peels
  • Lemon-scented dish soap
  • Salt
  • Vinegar

Fridge…One of the main things that can start making your fridge stink is the residue on your fridge shelves that are left from bottles and containers. Fridge mats, such as these, are a great way to catch these drips. Once they easily clean them, instead of having to waste time scrubbing those shelves.

Freezer…Set fresh coffee grounds to get rid of the smell of rotten food in your freezer.

Garbage...Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of your trash can every time that you take out the trash to help neutralize the smell of kitchen scraps and keep nasty garbage odors at bay,

Microwave…Pour some vanilla extract into a bowl and microwave on high for one minute.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Why Being Organized in the Kitchen Matters

As with any goal, you can spend way too much time…

  • analyzing every tool offered online
  • dreaming that the job was already done
  • talking to others
  • thinking about what would be the best way to get started
  • reading every article and book in sight about your goal
  • wishing that someone else could or would do It for you 

 

All with the same result…

Never getting anything done

 

 

So even though you don’t have the perfect plan written down yet and are not sure exactly how it’s going to work out, the best way to learn is by doing….

 

 

The same can be said about organizing your kitchen.

But organizing your kitchen will give you even more time to…

  • analyze every tool offered online
  • dream that the job was already done
  • talk to others
  • think about what would be the best way to get started
  • read every article and book in sight about your goal
  • wish that someone else could or would do It for you 

 

So why get off the couch when you’re comfortably watching HGTV or DIY Network, and get into your own kitchen trash-bag-in-hand instead?

 

Several reasons…

First of all, having an organized kitchen will save you valuable time as you are cleaning and cooking.

For one thing, you will be able to find something when you need it, without having to search for items that should be readily available.

 

Another reason for organizing your kitchen is to use all of your available work space because you are not having to work around clutter and chaos. 

Having a certain designated ‘home’ for all of your kitchen ingredients and tools will also make it easier to put things away when you’re cleaning up.

Making dinner every night will be quicker and easier…meaning that you will have more quality time each evening to be with your spouse and kids.

Not only that, you will also have more time to do those things that you reallxy want to do to unwind after a long day at work.

 

 

So as we start digging our way out of kitchen clutter and chaos, I thought this would be a great time to share the following list of questions that I use when setting goals, regardless what kind of goal I may be setting… 


1.  THE WHO…Talk to other people about your goals. This will make you feel both more excited and more committed.

  • Who benefits the most from me achieving this goal?
  • Who can help me achieve it? Who else is or should be involved?
  • Who else believes in me and my ability to reach this goal?
  • Who will support me? Who probably won’t support me? 

   
2.  THE WHAT…First of all, write down specific goals that you want to achieve. Keep your list of goals in front of you. Frame them if you want.

  • What is my biggest passion and dream in life? What one wildly bold goal would I like to accomplish that would truly inspire me to get up each morning?
  • What do I want to accomplish? What will success look like?
  • What is the probability of ever reaching this goal?
  • What is the biggest obstacle hindering me from achieving my goals? 
  • What skills, tools, and resources do I need to acquire or master?
  • What is my next step? 

 

3.  THE WHEN…Focus on immediate tasks…only your tasks for today and the week ahead of you…so that you do not get discouraged or overwhelmed. Now, perhaps the most important task—get organized. Break larger goals into smaller tasks. Set up a plan or schedule. Break down the year into months, and then create specific action steps for each week. 

  • When can I find the time to do whatever it takes to reach this goal?
  • When would be a realistic time for me to have reached this goal?
  • When will there be enough information to know if and when I should set new goals?
  • When will I start working toward this goal?

 

4.  THE WHERE

  • Where do I want to be this time next year?
  • Where will I acquire the necessary knowledge?
  • Where will my goal be accomplished? 
  • Where have I written my “chosen frozen” goals down so that they can become something tangible to focus on, evaluate, and refine on a regular basis?

 

5.  THE HOW…Choose appropriate milestones and benchmarks for your particular goal. Reward yourself whenever you reach a milestone or benchmark.

  • How will I benefit from reaching this goal? 
  • How will I stay focused during the process? 
  • How will the business be different one year from now?
  • How will this goal be achieved?
  • How does this deadline influence your daily activities?
  • How should I best spend my time, instead wasting time on unrelated, unimportant, non-strategic activities?



6.  THE WHY… Schedule a weekly check in with yourself. Evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Remind yourself why you set these goals in the first place. 

  • Why am I going to do this in the first place?
  • Why am I willing to invest time, energy, and money in doing this? 
  • Why is achieving this goal so important to me? 
  • Why is reaching this goal important? 

 

 

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”— Maya Angelou

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

Everyone seems to be studying and talking about the “Kon Mari” method of organizijng your home…and “Tidying U” has become one of the most watched things on Netflix…

But why does this matter for those who are not obsessive-comulsive…

Actually there are several reasons to take the time, thought, and effort to organize your house, mainly the kitchen.

Let’s take a look at how arranging things and keeping them into order can be beneficial, mainly in the kitchen.

Ability to Actually Get Stuff Done…Taking the time and effort to organize your kitchen will help you complete whatever needs to be done while you are in your kitchen more effectively and efficiently.

Knowing where things are will save you from having to rummage through your drawers to a certain utensil or gazing blankly in your cabinets for that one ingredient lost in the sea of glass jars and bottles.

You will be able to get dinner on the table in so much less time, and this might even make cooking dinner less of a chore and more of something that you actually look forward to. 

Finances…The other day when I was making out my grocery list, I found twelve canisters of breadcrumbs and five bottles on Blue Cheese Salad Dressing. Sad but true..,

By taking the time to organize my kitchen, I should be able to money by knowing what ingredients I already have on hand and not buying duplicates of the same thing,

Home Design/Decorating…How many times have you thought as you cook how much bigger you wish your kitchen were, when all the time your current kitchen would be just the right size if it were only decluttered and well arranged. Taking the time to declutter and rearrange will give you more space as you cook.

The kitchen is the “hub of the home” and the one room that is used most often by friends and family…Organizing this “hub” will be a great first move to creating a more attractive and inviting home altogether.

Also if you take the time to clean and organize your kitchen, other family members will know where things should go and be able to put them where they belong.

Creating a Home

Saving Money in the Kitchen

  
 Essential oils are great for diffusing and cleaning.
Cleaning with essential oils will help keep your home free of toxic chemicals and leave behind a fresh, clean scent.

It is important to remember that essential oils and green products can react with plastic, so always make and store your cleaning products in glass containers. 

Also be sure to print and use cute and colorful labels to help you stay organized and know what each container contains.

Moving on ahead, here are a few essential oil recipes to help keep your kitchen cleaner…

 1. All Purpose Cleaner …Combine.1 gallon water, 2tsp Dawn dish soap, 1/2C vinegar, 1/2C baking soda. Put in a spray bottle to clean showers, toilets, sinks, counter-tops, and floors.

2. Dishwasher Detergent Tablets…Stir together 2C cups baking soda, 2C borax, 1/2C epsom salt,1/2C vinegar, and 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Transfer the mixture into a ice cube trays or silicone molds. 

Press down until each compartment is hard packed with detergent. Put them in a dry, sunny spo and let them sit for at least 24 hours. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.


3. Disinfectant...Combine 1Tbsp witch hazel, 5 drops orange essential oil, 5 drops lavender essential oil,2 drops eucalyptus essential oil, 7 drops tea tree oil in 8oz spray bottle.Fill with 1C distilled or filtered water.
Shake well before each use. To use, spray on hard surface, such as counter-top and let air-dry.

4. Garbage Disposal Bombs…Mix 3/4C baking soda with 1/2C salt. 

Slowly add 1Tbsp dish soap and 10 drops lemon essential oil. Scoop the mixture into Tablespoon-sized “cookies” onto tin foil or parchment paper. Let /dry 24 hours. To use, store in a jar by the sink and run a couple of bombs through the disposal as needed.

5. Room Spray...Combine 2tsp witch-hazel, 15 drops of lemon essential oil and 4oz water in a small, fine-mist spray bottle.