Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Nursery Rhymes Crimes

Nursery Rhymes Crimes | Graphic property of and featured on www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

 I fell down a rabbit hole today. Turns out some rabbit holes can ruin your childhood.

You know what I'm talking about, an article catches your eye, which leads you to another article, which leads you to a thought, which leads you to a different article and the next thing you know, it's an hour later and your somewhere in a completely different rabbit hole. Like some weird game of single player telephone.

Where I started was with (yet another) article about whether or not video games beget violence. I read that they do. Then I read that they don't. I read that they could and I read that they couldn't. Nothing I read changed my point of view, that what each child should or shouldn't be exposed to (and when) needs to be based on that particular child's emotional make up and maturity level.

But what sent me down that second rabbit hole was one little line in one of the articles about the way we grew up before video games. About how we wreaked havoc on the neighborhood with games of War and Cowboys and Indians. Not exactly peaceful play, yet we didn't all grow up to be serial killers.

But wait, we were also raised on nursery rhymes, right? Those fun little ditties read to and taught to the youngest of the young. Lovely, sweet, harmless nursery rhymes. That's their reputation. And they stick with us, too. I remember my mom pointedly reciting to me (quite often, I'm afraid): 

There was a little girl, 
had a little curl, 
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, 
she was very good indeed,
but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Well, maybe not exactly sweet. In fact, in retrospect, this curly haired girl thinks it may have been a tad passive aggressive. So down that nursery rhyme rabbit hole I went, and ended up somewhere I never expected. Violence.
Violence? You want to talk violence? Do any of us have any idea what we were running around saying? Passing on as innocent to our children? Some of those nursery rhymes will curl your hair. And not just violence, those verses are a veritable cesspool of insults and abuse.

Now I can't do anything about video games, coding is way above my pay grade, but I sure as hell have some major editing makeover suggestions for those nursery rhymes.
Like this one. Violence is bad enough in general, but against the disabled? How's that for a lesson to children?
Three blind mice, three blind mice. 
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
as three blind mice?
When it could easily have been:
Three vision impaired mice, three vision impaired mice.
See how they compensate. See how they compensate.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
who gave them the cheese to lessen their strife.
Kindness we all should have in our life,
like three vision impaired mice.
And spousal abuse? Kidnapping? What were they thinking?
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
had a wife but couldn't keep her,
he put her in a pumpkin shell,
and there he kept her very well.
When they could have easily taught a lesson to men about marriage, and to women about self-worth:

Peter, Peter, vegetarian eater,
had a wife but was a cheater.
Started treating her with respect,
and she chose to stay, completely unchecked.
Then there's body shaming, face breaking and poor sportsmanship. Not to mention, although I suck at poetry, even I could do better than rhyming race with pillowcase. This
Fat and skinny had a race, 
up and down the pillowcase.
Fat fell down and broke his face,
and skinny won the race.

could be a lesson in kindness and friendship:

Stout and angular had a race,
round the diamond towards third base.
Stout fell, and angular stayed in place,
so they could tie the race. 

This one not only features ageism, but what the hell, why not add in a little child abuse: 

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
Had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread.
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
Which could easily be a tale of love conquering economic challenges:
There was a mature woman of quite limited means,
had lots of children, from toddler to teens. 
Dinnertime was difficult, just soup, no bread.
Kissed them and hugged them and put them to bed.

Not all nursery rhymes are actively offensive. But there are a few that could use a little tweaking to bring them up to date, accentuate an obvious moral to the story. Like:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
But, together both,
they licked the platter clean.

highlighting the symbiotic nature of a good marriage: 

Sprat's gallbladder could stand no fats,
his wife had different taste.
But complimenting each other perfectly,
achieved optimal lack of food waste.
Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not) is a lower in fat dinner. Beef, carrots, and potatoes are cooked all in one pan in a spicy, tangy sauce. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not)
Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not) is a lower in fat dinner. Beef, carrots, and potatoes are cooked all in one pan in a spicy, tangy sauce. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner
This one too, silly and nonsensical but fun and funny, isn't offensive, but its point is, if nothing else, confounding. It could impart an important message about loving each other:
Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle.
the cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such a sport,
and the dish ran away with the spoon.
For instance:
Hey diddle diddle, beautiful cat playing fiddle,
in love, the cow was over the moon.
Little dog smiled at such inclusiveness,
and dish, emboldened, proposed to the spoon.
Oh, and as long as we're making adjustments to childhood expressions, let me just say this:
Sticks and stones may break our bones, 
but insults are psychologically scarring, so don't do that either.

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Tangy Beef and Vegetables (Crockpot or Not)        


Printable Recipe

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2/3 cup spicy pepper jelly (can use the mild version if preferred)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 TBSP canola oil
2 1/2 # lean stew beef
1 tsp garlic powder 
1 bag (10 oz) frozen chopped onions
1 cup baby carrots
3 new potatoes, quartered 
4 oz snap peas

*For the sauce, whisk together the tomato sauce, pepper jelly, orange juice, and 1/2 cup of water (for slow cooker) or 1 cup water (for oven cooking).
*Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. Add the beef and sprinkle with the garlic powder. Cook until browned, drain the fat.
*FOR SLOW COOKER: Spray the slow cooker with cooking spray, turn on to low heat. Mix in the cooked beef, onion, and sauce. Cover and cook for 4 hours. Raise the heat level to high, add the carrots and potatoes, cook for 1 1/2 hours, mix in the snap peas and cook for another 1/2 hour.
*FOR OVEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cooked beef, onion, and sauce in a dutch oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven but leave the oven on. Uncover carefully, mix in the carrots and potatoes, recover, and return to the oven for 1/2 hour. Mix in the snap peas, cover and cook another 1/2 hour.

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Moral is Morals: Fairy Tale Poetry

Tell a Fairy Tale Day poetry | Graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #poem #poetry  
Last Friday of the month round here,
is officially poetry time.
There's always a theme to work with,
and then I set out to rhyme.

Today's a national holiday,
celebrate telling a Fairy tale.
So that's the theme I picked this time,
Sure hope that I don't fail.

The Moral is Morals

Orange man with an attitude wry,
to make money, nothing he wouldn't try,
bills he'd not pay, sue people out of his way,
and to get loans, he would quite simply lie.
Thought he knew more than all of the rest,
came down the escalator, theory to test,
bragged 5th Avenue shootin', even kissed Putin,
and he won, who would have possibly guessed?
Surrounded by spineless sycophants,
play his evil word music, they'd dance.
They even broke laws, for his bigoted cause,
loud and proud with their sickening chants.
On this nation his havoc he'd wreak,
atrocities of which I just cannot speak.
Daily he'd lie. Every norm, he'd defy.
From respected, our country became weak.
Then along came a most deadly plague.
His response was not even vague,
"Ignore it," he said, "all the people now dead,
just attacks from the media that's fake."
Those with brains and morals now had to act.
Voter suppression first line of attack.
People voted with zeal, the consequences quite real.
Democracy won fair and square, that's a fact.
His next step, of course, was a coup.
Evil pied piper's zombies came through.
Guilty of sedition, their treasonous mission, 
did all the damage they could possibly do.
Many were found and arrested.
their actions denounced and detested.
Leader didn't care. Guilt, he refused to share.
In prison their allegiance will be tested.
As in all fables, evil must fail. 
Prosecutors now following money trail.
He'll get his just desserts, and I do hope it hurts,
get used to eating his McDonald's in jail.

The moral I hope to have conveyed,
careful from whom you take toxic Kool-Aid.
Like ingredients in batters, in life decency matters.
Follow evil, you'll end up betrayed.

Mint Marshmallow Brownies are thick, rich mint flavored brownies baked with a mint marshmallow topping | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #dessert #chocolate

Mint Marshmallow Brownies
Mint Marshmallow Brownies are thick, rich mint flavored brownies baked with a mint marshmallow topping | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #dessert #chocolate


Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Mint Marshmallow Brownies

4  ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 stick margarine
1/4 stick butter
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour

1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1 tsp mint extract
1/4 cup chocolate mint baking chips (or chocolate mint candies), chopped

*Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Place the unsweetened chocolate, margarine, and butter into a large bowl and microwave at 20 second increments until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.
*Stir in the sugar and 1/2 tsp mint extract, then the eggs and finally the flour. Pour into the prepared baking pan.
*Mix together the marshmallow creme and remaining mint extract. Drizzle over the brownie batter, then use a toothpick to swirl the marshmallow creme into just the top of the batter.
*Bake for 25 minutes. The edges will be crisp and the marshmallow will be puffed up.
*Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with the chopped chocolate mint baking chips or candies. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

I Cannot Tell a Lie

I Cannot Tell a LIe, National Rationalization Day | Graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics
I cannot tell a lie. 

Rationalization, however, is a whole other story. Or is it?
Today is National Rationalization Day. I'll just wait here for my crown. There is one, right? For being the queen of rationalization. I hope there's a monetary prize too.

We've all had to find some new ways to pass the days while staying home and trying to stay safe for the past year. I talked about having become a Big Game Huntress, but that hobby played (get that little play on words there?) itself out already. Something I do from time to time is to check the Fun and Bizarre Holidays and Celebrations list. Sometimes for writing inspiration, sometimes just for a laugh. I think my favorite one so far is May 1st, which is apparently officially World Naked Gardening Day. In case you're considering buying the house next door, let me assure you that particular holiday is one I may write about but have no intention of participating in. My luck I'd prune something important vital. So to speak.

Today's holidays struck me first of all because I'm gifted with the superpower of taking rationalization to an art form. It's not that I can really take all the credit for that, It's something parenting will do to you. Not that I'm trying to rationalize rationalization or anything.

But what had me laughing is another of the "holidays" celebrated today, Pinocchio Day. As someone familiar with the attempted vindication (or at the very least mitigation) of a justification defense, it's as clear as the nose on your face that if rationalization had a physical persona, it would be Pinocchio. 
As current reigning queen of rationalization (in my house, anyway), it is incumbent upon me to defend myself. I think a good place to start would be with the master of truth, George Washington, famous for his honesty. As the story goes, at the age of six, he took a hatchet to his father's cherry tree. When confronted by his angry father, little George stated that he could not tell a lie and admitted his guilt. His father then celebrated his son for being truthful. 

The truth? "I cannot tell a lie" is a lie.

Wake up, people. First of all, what 6 year old tells the truth? Ever. And what angry father is going to be all excited because his beloved cherry tree was chopped down by a truth teller?
In later years, when asked about the story, Washington's biographer explained that after Washington's death, people were anxious to learn more about such a revered man so he offered up the story to symbolize the president's virtues. Rationalization, Mr. biographer? Methinks so.

So if the truth, even about the truth, is not the truth? Precedent, your honor. At least I don't lie to the masses about a historical figure. My little falsehoods are way more, I don't know, benign.

Like when my boys were little and I'd say "no, there are no vegetables in that casserole," as I hid them under the sauce? It's not a lie if it's for the greater good, and everyone knows that it's a parent's responsibility to be sure their kids eat a well-balanced diet.

All in One Chicken Casserole: chicken, ham and vegetables on a bed of hash browns, smothered in sauce, and baked in one pan. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

All in One Chicken Casserole
All in One Chicken Casserole: chicken, ham and vegetables on a bed of hash browns, smothered in sauce, and baked in one pan. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Or when, to incessant whining, I had to say "no" to fast food for lunch for the 987th time that week, I had to explain that McDonald's is closed on Monday? Well, see above excuse rational explanation.

When Hubs used to fly to NY for work one week every month, and I'd tell the kids that it was bedtime when it was actually not for another hour? Well, it was dark, I was tired, no harm, no foul, right? And they're still alive, aren't they?
And when Hubs was back home on the weekend and I'd tell him I needed to run a quick errand and somehow end up in a coffee shop with a friend? That was my errand. I never said it wasn't. And coffee and conversation are basic human needs, after all.

Yes, I may be guilty of a rampant rationalization, but at least I didn't chop down a cherry tree. 

National Tootsie Roll Day | Picture taken by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #funny

By the way, there's a third national celebration day today, a sweet one. It's National Tootsie Roll day.

I'll take mine in a pop, please. And NOT a banana one. There are a lot of things you can rationalize. Banana Tootsie Pops aren't among them.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

All in One Chicken Casserole

Printable Recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp garlic powder
12 oz shredded potatoes
1 egg
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup poppy seed salad dressing
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 packet Italian dressing mix
2 TBSP sweet hot mustard
10 oz frozen mixed vegetables
4 oz chopped ham

*Grease an 8 X 8 baking dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and set aside.
*Mix the potato shreds, egg, green onion, salt, and pepper together. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared dish.
*Evenly distribute the vegetables over the potatoes. Mix together the ham and chicken, then add to the baking dish.
*Whisk together the salad dressing, orange marmalade, salad dressing mix, and sweet hot mustard. Pour over the ham and chicken. Cover with tin foil.
*Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove foil and bake another 30 minutes, making sure the chicken is fully cooked.