About Me

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Oakland County, Michigan, United States
My friends call me the "grammar goddess." Really. ;-) I own a freelance writing, editing and tutoring business. Previously, I served three years as food editor for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, which kindled my interest in food writing. My other areas of expertise in writing include features, community news, architecture/construction and engraving/personalization. I have a frightening number of cookbooks and watch too many DIY, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Antiques Roadshow (BBC and PBS versions) shows. And I tweak nearly every recipe I make.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pinterest is getting smarter

Last week, or perhaps it was the week before, I noticed something on Pinterest. 

I don't dare go on there all the time, because, well, I have more than 11,000 pins as it is. So I can't swear when it actually happened, but Pinterest has gotten smarter. It gives me choices of what board to pin to, and it's getting better at giving me those choices. 

You can see my Pinterest board at https://www.pinterest.com/anneseebaldt/. 
Check them out and test my theory. 

Sorry I've been rather MIA lately. 

Not only am I behind on my paperwork accounting for everything I write, I also am miserably failing in my resolution to keep up with personal (a.k.a.unpaid for now) writing.

If you look at www.spinalcolumnonline.com, because you want to know where on earth I was, it will account for some of the time. I also do other editing and writing work. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sadly, trying to be accountable means more paperwork

What would you say if I told you I'm doing better on the diet and exercise than in participating in the Spreadsheet of Magic and Wonder tracking my writing? Most people who know me wouldn't believe it. 

I can be fairly disciplined about writing for work, but the personal writing sort of went to the birds when I had an insane four weeks or so of freelance writing. But all writing counts. I just need to log it.

Bah. I hate paperwork. But it's the accountability problem again. If you don't log it, you can underestimate or overestimate what you've eaten. Or written. Or both.

I'll do my best to build on the good habits I'm working to establish food-wise (I went a little off the rails in this, my birthday month). How old am I? Not telling. You get to guess. 

I will say if not for the accountability group (I'm in a new one now), I'd be completely sunk. Let's hear it for the Kempature Fixers. 

And let's hear it for updating the spreadsheet tonight. And my food log. 

Accountability and paperwork kind of go hand in hand. 

Gotta run. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's a new year, bring on the resolutions

It's Jan. 7, and really, I haven't made a New Year's resolution. Not a measurable, specific one. 

Resolution #1 
Be healthier. 

Of course, I want to eat a more healthy diet and exercise more often. What that will look like has yet to be quantified, but I joined a challenge/accountability group that starts Jan. 12 and should help with the measurable part. I'll get some help setting those goals. I have a guide, a friend who's done this before. She is co-leader of the group. And I will be exercising as recommended, to the best of my ability. I expect that will be kind of painful, as I haven't done much this past month in the way of exercise. Bring it on.

Resolution #2 
Be more accountable in my writing. 

There are two ways I hope to do this. 

  • Actually participate in the Spreadsheet of Magic & Wonder, a way to track your writing in a friendly "competition" with other writers ... and log the words as I go. (Well, after I catch up.) 
  • Write at least one blog post a week. It's Dec. 7 and in typical procrastinating fashion, I just realized I nearly blew it the first week, when I read two food-related articles I found absolutely fascinating. 

I won't bother to introduce either in great detail. 

Just please tell me what you think of this post from Mother Jones by Tom Philpott about how he came to change his viewpoint of fake meat. 

The other article, which is somewhat on the same topic, discusses that "The Herbivorous Butcher surpassed its Kickstarter goal and will soon be selling faux meat in the Twin Cities." What do you think? Again, let me know.

Some might ask, "Isn't The Herbivorous Butcher an oxymoron?" 

Not exactly. 

More and more people are eating faux meats and cheese in hopes of having something like their standard fare for health reason, like President Bill Clinton, who used to love fast food, but went on a vegan diet some time ago. Truly, the only thing I found surprising about it was the location.

Having options is a good thing. Try something new. You might like it. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Where is my eggnog latte?

I'm waiting (not too patiently, I might add) to get an eggnog latte at Starbucks

Someone told me it'd be in this week; I went in to my usual Milford Starbucks on Wednesday and was told something else. It seems they kept getting updates. 

Assuming corporate doesn't change its mind, eggnog lattes should be available no later than Nov. 30. 

In the meantime, I have made my own with Rice Dream Rice Nog,* which was on sale the last time I was at Whole Foods Market  in Ann Arbor. Yesterday, I enjoyed the eggnog latte at Kahuna Coffee, which uses eggnog syrup. (What is confusing about Kahuna Coffee is that most people think of the area it's in as Hartland, but it's Howell mailing. Nonetheless, it's an awesome place, which already has given me the opportunity to sell signed poetry book to people).

For me, perhaps because it uses whole milk eggnog, Starbucks has the definitive eggnog latte. And so I wait. Still rather impatient about it. 

Speaking of Starbucks, today is the last day you can buy one holiday drink and get one free to share from 2-5 p.m. (or 6 p.m. if you have a gold card). 

Tell me: what's your favorite holiday drink? Whether it's coffee-based or not, I'd still like to know. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's National Coffee Day! Get your coffee now!

I knew this yesterday, but I forgot it when I hit the ground running starting before 9 a.m. 

It is National Coffee Day. 

Yes, it's a bit after 7 p.m. Just the perfect time to go grab a decaf latte, iced coffee or a blended cold, frosty drink. 

If you don't feel like going out, try this flexible recipe: 

Frosty Coffee Drink 

This can be an iced coffee or more of a frappe (frozen) drink. Depends on the number of ice cubes. 

Place the following in the blender: 

  • 2-3 heaping teaspoons of instant coffee (It's usually decaf for me; I use Maxwell House. The exact amount depends on how many ice cubes and how much water you put in it.)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, optional (original also is fine)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon orange extract, optional (almond extract is also good)
  • 5-10 ice cubes, depending upon how frosty you like it
  • Approximately 12-16 ounces of water, depending upon how much coffee flavor you want and how thick you want it
  • Stevia to taste (I use three to four packets; feel free to use sugar if you prefer it: I have not tried it with honey or agave nectar) 
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need some coffee. 

This is a pretty healthy recipe; if you want something more fattening and more sinful than a famous coffee shop version, try this recipe from "The Pioneer Woman," Ree Drummond.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A little food nostalgia ... and hurray for Sanders

Simple scenes from our childhood often can be recalled more strongly than anything else. We're so busy, I believe, that the simple everyday pleasures don't make it into our long-term memories as often, unless we make a point to focus on them. Food often can be part of our memories, both of our own lives and people. 

For example, I cannot see the Michigan brand cottage cheese or Keebler® Fudge Stripes without thinking of my Gram (Ruth) LaBerge or Bill Knapp's® desserts without thinking of my Grandpa (Ed) Seebaldt. (Even though the restaurants are no more, the desserts live on and are distributed by various companies.)

One scene I still can picture from my childhood is sitting at a Sanders counter in Detroit near our old house on the west side. I remember the way the counter looked and that I was sitting with my Mom, eating a hot fudge ice cream puff. I was about five years old. 

I've had my share of sundaes and other ice cream concoctions, but very few I remember like the ones I consumed at Sanders, which probably is why the company is doing so amazingly well right now, as described in this Detroit Free Press article. Well, that, and the fact that Sanders' dark hot fudge sauce is the best I've ever had. 

Sometimes nostalgia meets the present. These are the places I remember going to that were fun and kid-friendly.Sanders is still around in Michigan, but Farrell's, where I (and my cousins) had a few birthday parties, and Friendly's, whose desserts came pretty close to Sanders' quality, aren't in Michigan anymore. (I was happy to see, though, that they both are still around in some parts of the country. I did go to a Friendly's restaurant in New York about five years ago, again with Mom.Their milkshakes still are the best!) 

What foods or restaurants make you nostalgic and why? Tell me why they're so wonderful. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Helping the homeless and saving money with ugly vegetables

You may not know this, but I used to work as a cashier in a grocery store in the 1990s.

I met a number of people who received WIC and/or food stamps at my first grocery store, where I worked for two years. Some of these customers I got to know very well because they bought small orders and came in two to three times a week. It was clear that most of them were embarrassed to be buying food with assistance. Some came in with a chip on their shoulder, expecting to be criticized, whether by other customers or the cashiers checking them out, I'm not sure. 

I treated them like any other customer, often calling them by name. Why wouldn't I? It's good business to get to know your customers and it was a small enough store that I could learn many of their names. 

The woman (and by and large, it was they who were buying) clearly weren't used to being treated that way. Once we were better acquainted, some told me that. They came to our smaller store because the people were nicer and it was close enough to walk. It was evident they were used to being treated as second-class customers somewhere, which made me upset on their behalf. 

Sometimes I wondered why they picked the items they did, though I never criticized. The items they bought, almost universally, were cheap and/or on sale, were filling and often non-perishable, except for WIC items such as milk and cheese.

A couple of the other customers occasionally commented to me about a prior customer's choices (whether purchased with food stamps or not). I either changed the subject or politely ignored those comments from the busybodies and got on with my job, rather than telling them to mind their own business. 

Fruit and vegetables my customers bought with food stamps were almost always canned. I didn't connect that 20 years ago, when I started working at the first store, to the fact that fresh fruits and vegetables are almost always expensive. I did clue in, eventually, but I didn't know what possibly could be done about it. I knew fresh produce was more expensive, and some of these ladies had three or four kids to feed.

Let's go forward 20 years. A few articles and blog posts I've recently come across are giving me ideas of what could have been done back then and should be done now.

The most touching of the articles was the most personal; it was by Brooke McKay, who documented a trip to the grocery store with a woman who lives in crisis housing within the homeless shelter at which Brooke volunteers. Brooke gave Tori $50 (name changed for privacy purposes), though actually they spent more because she didn't want Tori to have to take any of the food back. She was surprised that one of the items Tori picked was an $11 bag of apples. The trip broke through the assumptions people often make about the homeless and those on food stamps. 

The comments section also is rather enlightening. I will admit that I had a few tears in my eyes reading the blog and comments. (“There but for the grace of God go I.”)

A big part of why produce seems to be so outrageously expensive appears to be food waste. 

According to a 2013 NPR (National Public Radio) blog post I read, Doug Rauch, formerly Trader Joe's president, planned to use edible produce past its sell-by date in prepared food that will be cheap in his supermarket-restaurant hybrid that features food that other stores would have thrown out. The Daily Table market will be in Dorchester, Mass. It was scheduled to open this year. I've been searching for half an hour and still can't figure out whether or not it's opened yet.

It's mentioned in other articles, too, including this one 4 Restuarants Rethink Food Waste, on www.sustainableamerica.org's blog. The post offers some fabulous ideas, as does another on that site, called Ugly Produce Can Be a Beautiful Thing. One of the points noted is that at every level, ugly produce is wasted. 

In a quest to reduce waste, grocery chains in the U.K., such as TescoWaitboro, and Sainsbury's Food Rescue embrace the sale of these fruits and veggies at discounted prices. In Europe, it's Ugly Fruits leading the way. Intermarch√© in France also is promoting the benefits of ugly produce ... and a 30 percent discount, according to a grist.org article. French shoppers are gobbling them up

Ugly Produce Can Be a Beautiful Thing also commented that the U.S., Greenling, which delivers groceries in Texas featuring local food and organic produce, "sells 'seconds' that have slight physical defects" while another delivery service, "Fresh Direct," based in Long Island City, Queens, rates its produce from one to five stars and customers can choose their grade, either taking a chance on one-star produce, which can be inconsistent to the perfect five-star produce. Home delivery is available in some areas; check the list. Out west, Grocery Outlet "sells closeouts and overruns, including produce." 

If you want to know more, here are additional sources I found interesting: