The Magic Snack

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

For quite some time, I’ve read posts and comments from friends about kale chips.  I like kale.  I want to learn more about kale.  Kale is the superman of vegetables, according to many.  We need more kale.  But, I’ve never had kale chips.

There are two groceries at which I prefer to shop.  The one I frequent most often only carries kale that is already chopped and bagged.  And when I say chopped, I mean CHOPPED. I’ve picked up those bags a zillion times, looking, pondering, and coming to the conclusion that kale bits could never be considered a “chip.”  They’d be kale crumbs, at best.  Today, I went to my 2nd favorite grocery and I spotted it.  Now, it wasn’t just a bunch of kale.  No, this was a gargantuan bunch of kale.  Huge.  So, now I have no excuse to delay any longer on my quest to learn more, cook more and eat more kale. I’m making chips.

Before I tell you anything more, let me just throw in an enthusiastic “OMG.”  I’ll go so far as to say “Kale yeah!”

Looks like money, as Guy Fieri would say

This is my new favorite snack, hands down.  So easy to make, so delicious, so different and packed with super goodness.  I feel like I’m going to live forever all ready.  I’m eating them right now.  Okay, I confess, I’m on my 2nd batch.  But as far as I know, no one ever got fat from too much kale.

I’m sure there are many variations on the theme, as is always the case, but here’s how I did it.  I cut the leaves away from the rib and then tore the leaves into “chip” sizes.  Then, I washed the leaves and spun and spun and spun in my salad spinner to dry them well.  Add half the kale to a large Ziploc, add 1 ½ tsp olive oil, add rest of kale, 1 ½ tsp olive oil, close bag and gently shake and massage to coat all leaves.  Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with seasoned salt and bake at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes.  Viola!  Kale chips ready to munch on.

Crispy, crunchy chips made from the super-veg!

So, you’re probably saying something like, “Hey, Elizabeth, how much kale did you use?”  Well, you’re going to get the answer that drives my husband crazy – “Until it looks right.”  In this case, I tore enough leaves to fill up my salad spinner and took it from there.  I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking, “Kale?”  Never, ever, ever.  If you are that person, I challenge you to try this snack just once.  If you don’t like it, so be it.  You tried it.  If you do like it, you’ll be glad I made you do it!

A New Meaning To Stop Cold

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Time to add something else to the “don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” list: the refrigerator.

Recently, after a wonderful weekend in Asheville, I came back to a fridge on the fritz. It seems that someone left the freezer door open Friday afternoon, and it went unchecked (and un-closed) for more than 48 hours.

After salvaging what we could and tossing the rest, I opened the refrigerator and – WHOOSH – was hit with the unmistakable odor of sour food. The open door allowed excess moisture into the freezer, formed ice around the freezer coils and kept air from circulating into the fridge. Who knew?

I went through another round of sorting, salvaging and scrapping, and then made a quick trip to Google to find out what to do from there.

The first recommendation was to unplug, empty and thaw the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. If it didn’t blow a compressor from overworking itself, it would work after 24 hours. If it didn’t, it was time to call for repairs.

I emptied what was left, unplugged the fridge and said a little prayer. I used the time to take out all of the shelves and drawers and give the entire fridge one heck of a cleaning. And because patience isn’t one of my virtues, I checked in after 12 hours; thankfully, everything was fine. Two hours and $150 later, I shopped, restocked and as good as new. That being said, I learned a lot about refrigerators, and I thought you may be interested:

  • If your fridge goes out, use a food thermometer to check the temperature on the inside of your food. If it’s below 41°F, it’s safe to eat. If not, it could still be OK, as long as it’s only been above 41°F for less than 2 hours. If you don’t know for sure, the best idea is to shed a wasteful tear and toss it.
  • Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.
  • If you lose power, the refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if the door is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed.
  • In a working unit, the freezer should be between zero and five °F; the refrigerator between 37 and 40 °F.
  • While it might feel like just another chore to add to your to-do list, it’s well worth the few minutes it takes to clean the refrigerator coils. A lot of dust clings to the coils, found either behind or underneath the fridge, which can hinder its ability to run efficiently.  Vacuum the coils once a month to avoid any need for repair.
  • Because cold items contribute to the cool temperature of the fridge, an empty fridge costs more to operate than a full one. If your fridge is close to empty, you may want to make a trip to the store.
  • If your fridge is jam-packed, to the point where items are stacked on top of each other, it’s harder to keep things cool. With too many items on the shelves, the refrigerator air has a harder time circulating, which cuts down on its efficiency.
  • One of the first parts of the fridge to go? The door seals. Overtime, the rubber becomes dry and cracked, allowing the cold air to escape. Check your seals by using the paper test.  Close the door on a piece of paper that’s half in and half out of the fridge. If you can easily slip the paper out, the seals probably need to be replaced.

The Customer is Always Right, Right?

By: Roshanda Pratt

I am a stickler for good customer service, just ask my husband.  I have been known to call a manager in front of a rude employee on more than one occasion.  I have no problem doing it because at one time, I was on the other side of the counter.  During my years of working in fast food and retail I was taught to give the customer “service with a smile” and “the customer is always right.”  But in my recent experiences, I have found out this is not happening today, and that is very wrong.

Recently, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index found customers do not love service at McDonald’s.  According to the survey, the fast food giant received the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any full-service or fast-food chain on the survey.  Honestly, I was not surprised.  I don’t go to McDonald’s for great customer service.  In my opinion they stopped doing that long ago.  Remember those famous “Welcome to McDonald’s, can I help you?” commercials in the 80’s featuring a young guy named Calvin whom dreamed of owning a McDonald’s?  He has now been replaced with a rude, oftentimes nonchalant, ill-mannered employee who treats me as if I am wasting his or her time.

What happened? This is my observation.  In an effort to cut corners more and more, fast food chains are hiring people who just want a check.  People who do not have a servant’s heart, an attitude of service; at the core people are selfish.  I never understood people who would work in a field like customer service, but yet, do not like people. Another part of the problem I see is a lack of manners.  Manners are taught, and they should be learned as a child. I am amazed how adults do not know how to say “Thank You,” “Please,” or “You’re Welcome.”  These common courtesies have become a curse word in our society.  How is that? I could imagine Emily Post rolling over in her grave!

So how do we solve this moral dilemma?  We have to hold people accountable and that means having a standard.  I had friend who had a father who was a military sergeant as it pertained to customer service.  He would take the family to a restaurant, put a stack of one dollar bills on the table and inform the waitress/waiter that was their tip.  He went on to say if they made an error or provided bad service, he would take a dollar away.  Whatever was left at the end of the meal was the tip.  That may seem extreme, but it held the waiter and waitress accountable.  I understand some customers can act like a real baboon. I get it.  But it still does not excuse you from doing the job you agreed to be hired to do.

Let’s talk about accountability a little further.  As a company, it should not just be about the bottom line. It should also be about the steps you take to get there.  For example, I have never had a bad experience at Chick-Fil-A.  The people working there take pride in their restaurant and providing outstanding service.  The company invests in its employees and has a certain standard of people who they pick to be part of their team.  I think it’s no wonder, on any given lunch hour, you can find the restaurant packed to the full.  Employees have to feel vested, buy in to what they are selling.  If not, you will have people disgruntled about their job and just waiting until payday.

Who’s to blame?  Both the company’s and the people hired.  I blame the company for not having a higher standard, a code of ethics and making sure employees adhere to it.  I blame the companies for creating an environment where they just seek “bodies” to hand out food without making a genuine investment to build people.  I find people are more willing to work hard and provide the best when they feel like they have been invested into and appreciated.  I also blame employees who want to take the easy way out, who complain and whine when they have a job to do, who often opt to do the bare minimum.

I decided long ago to hold employees accountable.  I understand if you are having a bad day.  We all have had one of those, but when you break my customer “service” rules, then I decide you DO NOT want my money and I will shop elsewhere.  After all, I think you are trying to gain me as a repeat customer?  Give me a reason to come back!

My Pet Peeves:

  • Not acknowledging my presence when I am clearly standing in front of you.
  • Repeatedly asking me even when I made it clear I do not need any help.
  • Treating me like a “girlfriend” and not a customer.  (Side note: True story here, I was actually in a sandwich shop and the young lady making my sandwich was cussing and speaking to me as if we knew each other a long time.  Needless to say, I did not return.)
  • Using profane language in front of my children.
  • Rude behavior of any sort.
  • Making a mistake on your end, but not being willing to correct it.
  • Not giving me the necessities… such as napkins, straws and spoon.
  • And charging for things like sauce for my nuggets, ketchup, tomatoes, pickles, cheese…etc.

Have you ever had horrible customer service and how did you handle it?  What do you think is the cause for a decline in the customer always being right?  Or maybe if I left your pet peeve off my list, please post below.

Have a great day!

Ro

Our Crissie Hits the Big Time!

A couple of weeks ago Jennifer Wilson at Lexington Medical Center received a call from a woman in California who works for a website called Mamapedia.com. For those of you not familiar with Mamapedia.com, it is an online network that connects moms at every stage of their children’s lives to great content from the source they trust most: other moms. (Sounds kind of like the LMC Every Woman Blog!) The people at Mamapedia.com were doing research for an article and had run across one of Crissie Miller Kirby’s blog posts on LMC’s Every Woman Blog. They really liked what they saw and asked if they could get Crissie’s permission to run her blog post on their site! Once they saw more of Crissie’s work, they decided to make her a regular contributor to Mamapedia.com. In other words, Crissie is now a big time mommy blogger! The Mamapedia.com website is one of the top 3,000 most visited sites in the US and ranks in the top 15,000 globally! That’s a lot of people who will get to read Crissie’s posts and who will learn about the Every Woman Blog.

In truth, we know that all of our Every Woman Bloggers are rock stars – and it is great to see one of them get that acknowledgement. To visit one of Crissie’s posts on Mamapedia.com, click here. And please let us know what you think! We are so excited for Crissie, and extremely proud of her accomplishments.

Being Brave

By: Shannon Shull

As an adult, there are moments when we watch a children’s film and are incredibly touched by its message. I’m sure most of you know what I mean – with many movies we watch, we tend to apply our own life’s situations to the message presented in a film and if we’re lucky that message will touch us hopefully in a positive way, make us think, and inspire us. This was the case when I recently took my babies to see the movie Brave.

Like almost every princess since time began, the lead character, Merida, wants to pick her own husband in her own time, thus creating a widening rift with her tradition-adherent, overbearing mother. Our heroine naturally befriends a comical witch/wood carver, complete with a long nose and boiling caldron in her enchanted shop located just past Stonehenge-like rocks deep in the dark forest. Merida hands over a valuable amulet in exchange for a spell that will change her destiny and she thinks will free her from her mother’s tyranny. True to all life lessons presented in Disney-esque movies, she should be careful what she wishes for!  Merida ends up on a race to reverse the spell, save her mother and restore peace to the divided kingdom – and of course learns a big lesson along the way.  The best part is that not only does she learn a valuable lesson for herself, but she opens the minds of her family and the kingdom, teaching them all a valuable lesson.

In my opinion Brave doesn’t quite live up to the overall class of excellence as Pixar’s classics like Up, WALL-E and Finding Nemo, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I did not thoroughly enjoy the movie and take its special message to heart.

In Brave, our girl Merida is determined to carve her own path in life by defying an age old custom.  She confronts tradition and challenges her fate to change her destiny.  Her actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources, discovering the true meaning of bravery.

Merida doesn’t give in to the pressures of her society and goes for what she wants in her life, even though at first everyone thinks she’s crazy.  Along the way, she opens the eyes of those she loves and an incredible bond and appreciation grows between her and her mother as they learn from each other.  In time, she realizes that despite her mother’s ways, her mother is and has always been there for her.

I don’t know about you, but I think way too many of us give in to the pressures of society and let go of our own happiness because we’re too afraid of what others may think. We let others dictate our fate instead of choosing our own and following our true destiny.  It’s never an easy thing to do and it certainly comes with its pitfalls and tough lessons – heaven forbid life ever be easy!  But, when you look back at your life, wouldn’t you rather know that you gave your own destiny a chance, took risks and reached out for what makes you happy, instead of letting it be squashed and decided for you?

I think we can learn a lot from our fiery red headed friend, Princess Merida. Two messages I personally took from this special film are 1) to constantly reassure my precious children that I am always here for them, no matter what, and 2) the importance of creating my own fate and following my own destiny. The way I see it, life is too short!  Are you willing to sacrifice your happiness and allow your true destiny to be smothered? Or in this short life, will you be brave and dictate your own fate as you reach for your destiny?

No-Butter Chicken

By: Brady Evans

So there’s this recipe for “No-Butter Chicken” that has been going around – claimed as being flavorful and deeply delicious without the use of butter!  Sounds right up my alley, right?

At first glance, I decided I’d make a swap for the chicken and use chick peas since they start with the same five letters (I kid).

The recipe actually had a decent amount of oil in it, which is not all too different from butter in terms of calories (I know, I know not the same in terms of types of fat), so it wasn’t exactly fat free in the first place, though.

That fact led me to make the decision to replace the oil with butter itself since I wasn’t using any meat (hmm…oxymoronic, maybe…).

The meal was really, really good.  It came together quickly, felt healthy, and reheated fabulously.  In addition to making it vegetarian, I upped the veggie content by adding a couple of bell peppers – a great addition!

Butter Chick Peas (inspired by a Bal Arneson recipe seen on Apple a Day)

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 TBSP chopped garlic
  • 1 TBSP chopped ginger
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar (I used dark)
  • 1 TBSP cumin seeds
  • 1 TBSP garam masala
  • 1 tsp. red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 cups chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. water
  • scallions, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add butter.
  2. When the butter heats, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the onion is golden.
  3. Add the tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin seeds, garam masala, red chile flakes, turmeric, and salt and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the chick peas and stir well to coat.
  5. Add yogurt and water and cook, stirring until the mixture is thickened.
  6. Serve, garnished with scallions.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My Inner Geekness: Creating a QR Code

By: Katie Austin

You read it right – my inner geekness.  What can I say?  I love working with computers and helping others get over their technical hurdles.  By adding a  black and white box to your business card, resume or flier, you leave more than a smudge of ink.  You will literally leave your mark using a QR code.

What is a Quick Response (QR) code?   You have probably seen it on a business card like the one shown below.  From first glance, it looks as though the person had extra time during a meeting and doodled, staying within the lines of the box.  What this box holds is personal information such as name, phone number, website link and picture that can be scanned into a smart phone for storage.  The inner geek in me loves this!

So, why add a QR code?  I say, why not!  The QR code contains your important contact details in one small image that is scan able by any smart phone or computer.  When handing out your business card containing the QR code, you are encouraging the person to scan your code into their phone, instantly adding you to their contact list.  Having the QR code on your business card may spark additional conversation where you can demonstrate with your phone how to scan it in.  The person will walk away with your contact information and there is a good chance that they will remember you.

Now you know what a QR code is and how you can use it.  The next step is to walk you through how to create one and the steps are simple!

  • Step 1: Visit http://goqr.me and click on vCard.
  • Step 2: Enter all your information into the text boxes
  • Step 3: You can change the size of the QR code by adjusting the scale (you will see the image change as you move the slider)
  • Step 4: Download the created QR code to your computer

That’s it – you have created your QR code!

What if you want to include more than one link to a social media site (Facebook, Linkedln, etc)?   The QR code generator (steps above) only allows you to link to one site.  My suggestion would be for you to use a free service such as QRMobilize where you can create a QR code that integrates social media and there are other options available.  The best feature is that you can log-in and update your information without changing your already printed QR code.

All that remains is getting your QR code printed!  To read your QR code, you will need to have QR Reader software installed on your smart phone or computer.  Many of these are available free of charge.  Enjoy and hope you found this to be helpful 🙂

Do you have a QR code?  If yes, what do you use it for? Have you found it to be helpful in networking with others?