Thoughtful Thursday #7 – Hot or Cold?

What is worse, extremely cold weather or extremely hot weather?

I dislike hot weather, let alone extremely hot weather.  When traveling where temperatures are reported in Celsius my motto is “20 is plenty”.  [ 20 C =  68 F ]  I have always been ‘pleasingly plumb,’ or beyond, so skimpy clothing and sun bathing hold no appeal to me.

We have had, in my opinion, a very warm winter.  It just doesn’t feel right.  My sense is the month of February should typically have a 2 – 4 day stretch of below zero Fahrenheit temperatures.  This year we aren’t even getting too many days that stay below freezing.

Looking around online I found that essortment.com says of cold weather:

>  People who live in cold climates tend to live longer.

>  It’s so much easier to breathe cold, crisp air than hot, heavy air.

>  There’s nothing quite like watching a snowfall through a window while sipping hot cocoa.

>  Everyone always has such beautiful rosy cheeks brought about by the frosty air.

But on the flip side, for those of you who would select extremely hot weather over cold, I found a website that reported:

An episode of extreme cold can shave an entire decade off one’s life, while an episode of extreme warmth typically hastens death by no more than a few weeks.

My conclusion — moderate temperatures please, between  55 F – 75 F with a light breeze.  I am thankful to have central heating or A/C available to me when the temperature goes below or above that range.

Your thoughts on this Thursday’s topic?

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Wacky Wednesday #7 – Susan B. Anthony Day

 Susan B. Anthony Day

Susan Brownell Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams, MA.  Her father believed in the importance of his daughters, not only his sons, receiving a good education.  Susan’s Quaker background made her a supporter of social reform. She took part in the abolition and temperance movements but is remembered in our time for her work towards women’s suffrage.  She would die in 1906, before the 15th amendment, giving women the right to vote, was passed.

When Miss Anthony  began teaching school, at the age of 14, she earned $2.50 a week compared to the $10.00 a week a male colleague earned.   Susan believed in equal pay  for equal work. We are still working on that one: women earn 77.4 percent of what men do  (stats from 2010).  My state of Vermont does better than the national average:  here women make 84.3 percent of what men do.

Music Monday # 7 – Blue Danube Waltz

On Feb 13, 1867 the “Blue Danube Waltz” by Johann Strauss Jr. was performed for the first time at a public concert in Vienna, Austria.

The first son of Johann Strauss Sr., his father forbade him a musical career but the younger Strauss cared more for his violin lessons, than his schoolwork.  He would become his father’s most serious competitor.  His “Schöne Blaue Donau” is kind of an unofficial anthem for Austria to this day & is traditionally performed each year at the New Year’s concert in Vienna.

YouTube of The Blue Danube Waltz

Cornbread

I have been on a cornbread kick this winter.  The bread pictured above is a Maple Cornbread variation of the Cornbread recipe found on pp. 556-557 of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook.

But I am going to devote the rest of this post to another recipe.

I have always loved cornbread but until sometime last fall I was not happy with the recipes I had tried.  Guess what turned things around for me — the recipe on the back of the Quaker Corn Meal canister called Easy Corn Bread.  I make two or three little tweaks to recipe depending on whether I am making just for myself or to share.  For just me I substitute roughly half of the All Purpose Flour with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.  I skip the sugar all together and use just a packet or two of a stevia product like SweetLeaf or truvia.  My final substitution is to use buttermilk in place of the regular milk.  I usually bake this recipe in a preheated 8-inch iron skillet.

As you see from the shapes of cornbread above I  am lucky to have a iron cornstick mold that was pasted down to me.  I don’t pull it out all that often as it needs to be really well-greased in order to release the bread.  But it gives eye appeal and a crispy exterior. If you want to do a small cornbread portion then a mini muffin pan works great.  They are very useful for a finger food buffet when split and served with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Thoughtful Thursday #6 – Anonymous Gift

What gift would you like to anonymously send someone?

I remember being newly married.  I entered the relationship with no debt, a small sum in the bank, but no job.  My husband had a secure well-paying job, but an old car that would die within our first year of marriage.  I worked as a substitute teacher, and then landed regular but non full-time teaching positions.  We were never in a situation of not paying our rent or not making minimum payments on debts, but we did go without a car for a full year.  Becoming debt free and purchasing a home would not happen until we had been married 9 years, and that was largely due to an inheritance.

I know in the economy then, and most certainly now, there were/are people who were/are in much more dire situations.  If I could make an anonymous gift with a magic million dollars that would not exist unless I did so it would be to pay off the debt acquired by working people who have educational and/or medical related debt that keeps them treading water, unable to move forward with their hopes and dreams.

Wacky Wednesday #6 – Opera Day

I was not raised listening to opera.  I am not an adult who listens to opera often.  My introduction to opera was in Music History classes during college.  The drop the needle tests were you need to identify the work and composer after 30 seconds or so of sound (yes turntables & vinyl were the norm back then) did not help me develop a fondness for the genre. I did of course find some of the operas I had to study more appealing than others.

At age 24 I met a guy who had a modest collection of opera recordings, who bragged about meeting Beverly Sills, and who told me he had season tickets to the San Francisco Opera when he lived in the Bay area.

After we had been married for a few years he had a business meeting in NYC and took me along.  He bought tickets for us to attend the Met.  I am embarrassed to say I cannot say remember what opera I saw that first time, but I know we would go back to the Met several more times over the years.  What I learned that first evening is that for me the full production of an opera on stage is so much more appealing than a recording. In addition I recall attending productions of opera at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, CA and at the Sante Fe Opera in NM.

I think the evening at the Sante Fe Opera is for me the most memorable.  We attended a pre-performance dinner on the grounds and then saw Handel’s Semele.  OK, confession I am a Baroque period fan.  Second confession I don’t have the language acquisition gene.  That means Baroque & English are going to win over a more operatic, say Italian work.  I believe our evening there was in 1997 because it was near the end of McHugh and Kidder theatre with open sides and a partially open roof that provided views of the night sky.  The plot of Semele involves thunder & lighting, and that night nature did also.

To end my blog entry  for OPERA DAY I will leave you with two links for selections from  George Frideric Handel’s Semele:

Handel: Semele, HWV 58 “Where’er you walk” John Aler

Handel: Semele “Myself I shall adore” Danielle De Niese

Travel Tuesday #6 – Windsor Parade

While most visitors to London line up to watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace you can actually get a better view of a traditional Changing of the Guard Parade at Windsor.  These photos date back to 1998 but the ceremony still takes place many times a week at around 10:45 am.       

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We found the City Sightseeing tour bus in Windsor useful for a first visit to Windsor.

Music Monday #6 – “All Those Years Ago”

On -this-day-com says that on Feb. 6, 1981, former Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr & George Harrison teamed up to record a musical tribute to John Lennon. The song “All Those Years Ago” was the result.  The 3 remaining Beatles would not record together again until the mid-1990s.  Wiki says Harrison originally wrote the song with different lyrics for Ringo Starr to record.  After Lennon’s death, the lyrics were changed in tribute to John.   The music video, below,  for “All Those Years Ago” features stills and short archival video clips with an emphasis on Lennon and, to a lesser degree, Harrison.