Comfort-Cookin'Do you find that standing for any length of time can be difficult? Does that keep you from spending time in the kitchen cooking your favorite meals?  I find that when your feet or hands hurt, your overall pain may worsen.

Tip #1: Look at what is under your feet.  One thing that can help is strategically placing a thick area rug in the kitchen.  I highly recommend that it has a no skid backing and that the edges that do not roll up (which I have in my work area) or better yet–a gel mat.  These can be found in stores or online by names such as “comfort “mat, “anti-fatigue” mat and “wellness” mats.  They are widely available, in a variety of sizes as well as price ranges from low-cost to expensive.  User reviews indicate that they have been helpful for back pain, a variety of foot problems, joint problems, and fatigue.  I know when my rug has been taken up for cleaning that I notice the difference immediately.

Tip #2: Look at what is under your bum. For those longer periods of time (like doing prep work) when it is really difficult to stand, a bar chair/stool (preferably with a study back) is wonderful.  Just be sure, for you, it is easy to sit on, easy to get up on or down from and if it swivels that it does not move too freely that you miss your mark and down on the floor you go.

Tip #3: Look at what is in your hands–let’s talk about pepper.  As far as I am concerned, freshly ground pepper is the only pepper to use.  There is no comparison in taste between it and the stuff bought already ground.  With larger amounts such as a teaspoon or even a quarter of a teaspoon I cannot use a peppermill because of my arthritis.  Good News?!There are electric coffee/spice grinders available in which are not expensive.  We have two; one for my hubbie’s coffee beans and one for my pepper (kept in different areas and they are different colors so they don’t get mixed up).  I may use white peppercorns occasionally if the recipe calls for it, otherwise mine is strictly for black pepper.  There is no need to wash after each use—a quick wipe with a paper towel will do the trick.  I do wash it about every month or so.  Yields are approximately even (1/4 tsp. peppercorns = 1/4 tsp. ground pepper).

Now for my favorite BBQ Recipes and a Holiday Sweet (my belated Christmas gift to you):

[toggle title=”Janice’s Texas Chili”]

Everyone loves this (at least as I have heard).  Texas Chili is made without tomatoes and beans are served on the side (to be added by each diner).  While some purists demand ground chilies only, I prefer a good quality chili powder blend (these have oregano, cumin, etc. added).  I use mostly Chili powder from Spices, Etc. or sometimes Gebhart’s; you go with one you like the taste of and is the right hotness (I can’t tolerate very hot and others can add stuff to make theirs hotter).  This is a large recipe but it freezes well (the other night I fed 4 adults and 3 children with enough left over for another meal for 3 adults).  It is an easy recipe but not fast.

5 lbs. lean beef 1″ cubes

1 quart water

3 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. salt (I use kosher)

6 Tbsp. flour

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large onion chopped

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

6 Tbsp. chili powder

Combine meat, water, sugar, and salt in large Dutch oven or chili pot. Bing to a boil; skim, and reduce to simmer.  In a skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil; when onion is tender stir in chill powder then flour and cook 1-2 minutes.  Add mixture to meat and cover.  Simmer 2-2 ½ hours stirring occasionally.  Serve in bowls with beans on the side; shredded cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce as condiments,   I also serve flour tortillas with this.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Janice’s Barbecue Sauce”]

I have been making this for over 40 years and don’t know anymore where the first adaption took place-just know it is totally mine for many years now.  It can be used whenever barbecue sauce is called for, for some of my recipes, and as a dipping sauce.  Many times I double the recipe so there is enough to put on the table to add extra.

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 small onion minced

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup catsup

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 Tbsp; Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. celery seed

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Sauté until tender, onions and garlic in vegetable oil; add remaining ingredients and simmer stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.  This will keep in the refrigerator for a month.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Janice’s Over Barbecued Chicken”]

Cut up chicken pieces with bone in; skin on or off (we prefer dark meat) and use Janice’s Barbecue Sauce.  Preheat oven to 3750  Salt chicken pieces lightly and place skin side down in a roasting pain without touching.  Brush with barbecue sauce.  Seal with foil.  Bake for ½ hour.  Remove foil and if there is a lot of liquid, pour most of it off.  Turn chicken and brush generously with sauce.  Bake 15 minutes without covering; brush generously again and bake another 15 minutes.  Serve with extra sauce.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Janice’s Oven Barbecued Ribs”]

Repeat recipe for chicken except used county ribs with or without bones and bake under foil 1 ½ hours.  Continue as for chicken.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Snappy Corn”]

1 Tbs. butter

1 small onion sliced thin

1 can vacuum packed corn or 10 oz. frozen corn, cooked

2 Tbsp. Barbecue Sauce

Sauté onion in butter, add corn and barbecue sauce; heat until just heated through.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Saltine Toffee”]

This is easiest and best toffee, good year round.  Everyone in my family loves it (all the way down to the 2 year old-it is messy though.  I adapted it from a recipe I down loaded from Lazy Gourmets (2003)

Saltine Crackers (at least 35)

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups butter (not margarine)

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 ½ cups chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350o

Line an 10 ¼ “ x 15 ¼ ” jelly roll pan with aluminum foil (really important if you want to get the candy out of the pan).  Line up the saltines in a single layer just touching on the bottom of the pan (if you have the new round ones you will definitely need more than 35).  Using a 2 quart bowl or measuring container, heat the butter in the microwave for 1 minute (remember to cover with a piece of waxed paper).  Remove and stir in the sugar.  Heat another 4 minutes stirring after each minute.  Pour over the saltines.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over.  Put back in the oven for 30 seconds.  Smooth the chocolate over the candy and then sprinkle with the walnuts pushing them lightly into the chocolate.  Cover the pan with foil and place in the refrigerator to cool.  If cold out I just place them on the porch (last time I made this it was hovering in the single digits outside).  Outside it can take about 2 hours or more depending how cold (just don’t forget about it because you don’t want it to freeze); in the refrigerator at least 6 hours.  When cold enough remove from the pan and break into pieces.  You may have to peel the foil off but it will come easily[/toggle]

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