Thursday, January 4, 2018

This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to the market.
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy had roast beef.
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.

This little piggy had to work the during the Holidays. That included Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I thought it would be nice to bring a delicious dish to share with the others at work for Xmas. We usually have a potluck when we work on holidays. The last one was Thanksgiving, where I made turkey tails. They were a big hit, an unexpected, delectable, rich treat.

There are no rules or a specific list of items for a potluck. You bring whatever food you want to make and share. And our workplace potlucks are like picnics. We bring snack foods, a dish that's easily prepared and edible. Nothing fancy or time consuming or a lot of work. It is the Holiday Season after all. Everyone's busy. Ain't nobody got time to make a big fancy meal just for lunch. So we usually get chips and dip, sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, or someone would make a quiche, a pie, or a cake if they wanted to go the extra mile. Not necessary but greatly appreciated and welcomed.

I wanted to go the extra mile. It was the Holidays after all, and the cheerful spirit of the season made me feel a bit more generous. I planned to make something special. And since it was Christmas, I thought I'd make my family's traditional Holidays treat: Donuts.

Donuts are easy enough to make. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise. That takes time--an hour or two at least, and it needs to rise twice: The first after mixing; the second after rolling out and cutting out the shapes. The mixing, rolling, cutting, frying, and frosting don't take very long--a few minutes at the most per donut.

To make the donuts, I had to miss my usual tradition of attending midnight mass on Xmas Eve. Mind you, I'm not Catholic, though I did attend Catholic school for a while. I'm not an overly religious person. Spiritual? Yes. Radical or fanatical? No. Live and let live is my philosophy.

I was raised with the understanding that your relationship with the Divine was your own. As Mom used to say, "We're all praying to the same God." Plus, in my area, there's a nearby Catholic service that holds an old fashioned Xmas Eve midnight mass. All are welcomed; no questions asked. And I like the pageantry and ornamentation of the Catholic services--the hymns, the chanting, the incense burning, and the holy water blessing.

Truthfully, I make an effort to attend service twice a year, for Easter and Xmas. These are the most important holy days ingrained in me from childhood, and not just from a religious view, but from a cultural and traditional way of life. These holidays occurred in the same time frame we celebrated important cultural, historical, spiritual, cosmic, and agricultural events. And try as I might, some habits are hard to break. But it doesn't matter to me if it's a Catholic or Protestant or even Buddhist service, so long the service preaches and practices peace, love, unity, kindness, and equality.

Honestly, I go to these services out of habit, not faith. It reminds me of being back home and growing up on the rural, remote coast. And as fiercely independent, carefree, and the black sheep I may be, there's something special, reassuring, and comforting about being among the flock, especially the faithful who try very hard to practice peace, love, kindness, and equality. Sometimes, it feels good, and wonderful, and life affirming to be around nice, caring, and thoughtful people. It gives me hope and grants me serenity.

But I was going to miss out on the service this year. This little piggy had to stay home. I had donuts to make, and they take time. But no worries. I was not all alone. This little piggy had roast beef. Actually, it was BBQ brisket for Xmas Eve dinner with friends. I brought a sheet cake for dessert. It was a very pleasant evening, but I called it an early night and headed home, where I mixed the dough, let it rise, then shaped the donuts. And before going to sleep early, I set the alarm to wake me up before dawn.

I got up early at five in the morning to fry the donuts. And by six a.m., I had frosted two dozen donuts--lemon, chocolate, and strawberry glazed--with a few decorated with sprinkles for pizazz! I had made 24 decadent sweets, plus a lot of delightful, glazed donut bites from the leftover dough bits. I was so proud of my efforts. My coworkers were going to be surprised at the awesome treats. It was a lot of work, but so worth it. The donuts were magnificent and so tantalizing! Such splendid, stunning sweets! And by seven a.m., just an hour later, I had eaten all the donuts--all 24 delicious treats! That's right. I ate them all!

I couldn't help myself. They were just too gorgeous and too scrumptious to resist. I only meant to eat a few. I planned on keeping one dozen for myself and taking the other dozen to work. But once I started, I just couldn't stop, even after going though the first dozen. I showered, had a cup of hot chocolate, then descended and gorged on the last dozen like a starving animal! This greedy little piggy ate all the donuts! That meant the little piggies at work got none.

Feeling a little guilty and slightly panicked, I scrambled the cupboards for something else to share at work. I could've made a sheet cake, but I'd have to frost it at work when it cooled down. That was a lot of work. And as guilty as I felt for being an avaricious glutton, I was not going through the trouble of making a cake.

I thought about taking the tasty donut bites to work, but then I realized that their presence would only raise questions at the potluck. Homemade or store bought, my coworkers would wonder what happened to the donuts that these donut bites were made from. They'd get suspicious, and I was not in the mood to be interrogated and judged, least of all on Xmas Day! Save the condemnations and crucifixion for Easter!

Luckily, I found a bag of corn chips and a bag of tortilla chips in the cupboards, along with a can of mild, spicy cheese dip and a can of sour cream and onion dip. I took these to work with a casserole dish, where I mixed the corn chips and tortilla chips, poured the microwaved, melted mild cheese dip over them, before adding dollops of the sour cream and onion dip on top. Thank goodness the coworkers liked it.

And this little piggy went "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home, relieved that the "Ghetto Nachos" were a big hit at the potluck, secured in the knowledge that my dirty, little culinary transgression remained hidden, my sinful little secret remained my own.

I still felt a little guilty though, for being a selfish, greedy piggy. But now it's the New Year, time for new beginnings and second chances! Time to wipe the slate clean, start anew, and forget the sins of the past. To celebrate the New Year--and assuage my guilt for pigging out and not sharing those Holiday donuts--I decided to make Holiday cookies to share at work.

This little piggy went to the market, and got all the cookie supplies and bought some meat--pork shoulder and mini smoked sausages were on sale. I was in charge this week. And if I fed the troops, they'd be less likely to mutiny and more likely to follow me into hell and back, especially if I supplied them with good eats. An army marches on its stomach. And a well fed army is an effective, efficient force.

The first week of the year usually means slow, inattentive, unfocused coworkers--some hung over from overindulgence, others worn out from all the Holiday stress, and a few just distracted, contemplating life choices and second guessing resolutions and goals for the year. And for our project to succeed, I needed the troops to rally and be on top of their game to finish our task and complete our mission. Holiday cookies would be a great motivation/bribe to galvanize the troops. Nobody can think or work on an empty stomach. And Holiday cookies are a great reward and incentive to draw the best out of the crew.

And since I was off New Year's Day, I had time to make Holiday cookies and make the dough for sweet rolls. This little piggy stayed home and got to cooking. I made Kalua pork in the slow cooker for the New Year's Feast. There was more than enough tender, moist, flavorful meat to shred; and I planned to have some shredded pork pan grilled and sautéed in BBQ sauce to make pulled pork sandwiches later on in the week. I suppose I could've taken some Kalua pork with mac and cheese to share at work. But I decided that Holiday cookies were a more festive treat.

Holiday cookies are vanilla, almond, or lemon flavored cookies with festive, holiday specific, decorative icing. The Holidays may be over, but I still used snowflake and snowmen motifs when icing the almond flavored cookies with a lemon glaze. The rest of the cookies, I just iced with chocolate, because chocolate is welcomed and celebrated all year round.

That evening, I successfully made and frosted five dozen (that's right five dozen--60!!!) cookies as Holiday sweets. Two dozen, I delivered and shared with friends. They were grateful and impressed and delighted with the Holiday treats. One dozen, I set aside for myself. Two dozen, I made for work, so I put them in an air tight container, eager to give them out the next day.

Then this little piggy had roast beef. Actually, it was smoked sausage, and it complimented the Kalua pork I made for the New Year's Feast. The meats were delicious and went well with the apple pie, rolls, and potato salad the others had brought. After dessert, the others stayed for drinks, but I had to call it an early night for work the next day.

It was cold when I got home. I made hot chocolate to warm myself up. And since I had made the hot chocolate, I had to have some cookies to dip in the hot chocolate. It was heavenly eating those decadent delights. Soon, I made a second cup of hot chocolate. And then I ravaged the rest of the scrumptious sweets.

Once again, this little piggy couldn't resist temptation and ate all the cookies--the dozen for me plus the two dozen for work, all 36! I wish I could say that I regret what I did. But honestly, I'm not sorry. Normally, I'm not a cookie person. I prefer salty snacks like chips and save donuts for special occasions. But these convivial cookies were just too delicious to last in my place. They brought out the Cookie Monster in me. So I devoured them all. Nom! Nom! Nom!

But I was still left with the problem of what to feed the troops the next day. And I didn't have any chips and dip in the cupboards; nor did I feel like making a cake. Honestly, I was afraid that as soon as I made and frosted the cake, I'd eat it all, too!

I was on a sugar high and craving more tasty treats,
which is so unlike me, as I rarely indulge in sweets.
As a matter of convention, I hardly long for confections.
And if the evidence supports the conviction,
I was developing a sugar addiction!
And if I didn't pay close attention,
I was going to need a nutritional intervention!

Luckily for me, the sugar high had given me clarity of mind, and I was struck by inspiration when it was time to press down the dough and divide it into sweet rolls. Instead of sweet rolls, I was going to use the dough, some mild spicy cheese, and the little Smokies mini smoked sausages to make delectable pigs in a blanket. Or in this case of the mini sausages, piglets in a blanket! I made two dozen little piglets in a blanket.

But that didn't seem like enough. So I opened a canned ham, sliced it, pan grilled the slices, then cut them into three inches long by half an inch wide pieces, and made thirty, browned, caramelized ham sticks. I immediately wrapped them with cheese inside a sweet roll to make grilled ham and cheese kolaches! I made two and a half dozen of these salty, sweet, grilled, caramelized, mildly spicy, cheesy treats in a soft, tasty, yet tender inside with a crispy crust roll.

I placed the prepared piglets and kolaches on baking sheets and left them in the unheated, cool oven to continue proofing and rising. In five to six hours, they'd be the right size to bake into fluffy yet sweet, tender rolls with a crispy crust. So I set the alarm to wake me up early to bake the pork rolls before I let the sugar high crash, knocking me out for the rest of the night.

At five the next morning, I was up; and before six, I had baked two dozen piglets in a blanket and two and a half dozen grilled ham and cheese kolaches. I set aside a dozen piglets in a blanket and a dozen grilled ham and cheese kolaches in carryout containers to take to work. Another dozen kolaches and the other batch of piglets I saved for me!

I ate the left over six unclaimed ham and cheese kolaches, for quality control purposes. I had to make sure they were delicious and safe to eat. Good news! They passed inspection with flying colors! And I can honestly say they are the best ham and cheese kolaches I've ever had! And the troops at work agreed as they stuffed their faces and fought over the yummy snacks like hungry hogs at the feeding trough. And with that, I secured the troop's loyalties, and together, we finished the first big work project of the year successfully. I was very happy with the results.

And at the end of the long work day, this little piggy came home and cried, "Wee! Wee! Wee!", and turned on some music and danced exuberantly; not so much as to burn off all the empty calories, but to express joy that I still had piglets in a blanket and ham cheese kolaches to eat, along with Kalua pig/BBQ shredded pork, and some sweet rolls baking to enrich my paradise of pleasing, porky, porcine treats! I love comfort foods, especially when it's cold outside. And if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by a bevy of delectable, divine meats, you'd be dancing, too, and exclaiming, "Wee! Wee! Wee!"

Life doesn't always go according to plan. So when things go wrong or you find obstacles in your way, it's important to adapt, reevaluate and make necessary changes to overcome these obstacles that stand in your way. If you can't find a way through, then go over or go around or find another path to help you reach your destination. Never give up hope. So long as you have hope, you can survive anything.

So when things don't go your way or unexpected, bad things happen, don't give up hope. Hold on, and take a deep breath, think, and ask for help if you need it. Have faith in yourself. So long as you have hope, you'll find a way. Every day you're alive and here is a second chance, an opportunity to do the things that make you happy, to spend some time with the people you love, to live life fully and love freely, to go after your dreams, and be happy.

Know when to make changes and adapt to survive. Know what's really important and embrace those you cherish in this life. Know when to hold on and when to let go, so you can move forward and be closer to your goal, to live life as best as you can.

Remember that there are some things you can change and some things that you can't. Accept it, and move on. Don't dwell on the mistakes of the past. The past is over and done with, and there's nothing you can do to change it. Don't get hung up on the future. It hasn't happened yet. Focus on what you can do now, one step at a time, and soon you'll make great strides in the journey of life.

Yes, life isn't always fair, and sometimes, terrible things will happen. So cry when you're sad, yell when you're mad, and forgive yourself for your weaknesses and mistakes, learn from them and move on. You're only human. Every day you're alive is a second chance to get things right, to follow your heart, and live life the way you want it.

And when good things happen, embrace those moments and celebrate them with your friends and loved ones. Life is a journey and an adventure. Laugh, love, live, dance, and be merry when these good times happen, and seize the moments when they come. Life is too short, and time keeps on passing by us beyond our control. But we can make the best use of whatever time we have by making the most of every day we are alive. And definitely treat others the way you want to be treated. And be good to yourself.

So live fully, love freely, and hold on to hope. Laugh and smile and be happy when the good times come. Dance when the music moves you. And be kind to yourself and to others. And when you're good to yourself and kinder to others, you make the world a much better, brighter, and happier place. And life becomes more wonderful and more joyful.


  1. This little piggy made chili for Christmas. And watched many football games and a lot of the 12-day 24/7 Mythbuster's Megathon on TV all during the holidays.

    1. LX, Chili is perfect for Christmas and for these chilly temps!

      On New Year's Day, I stuck to my fave tradition of watching the Twilight Zone Marathon. Even when I know what's going to happen, I still get excited and anxious, esp. with iconic episodes with the surprise twists and the ones with actors who would later be famous--i.e., William Shatner, Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Robert Redford among others.

  2. "So live fully, love freely, and hold on to hope"

    And keep the insulin handy.

    1. Ha! Norma, I've had my fill of sweets. And the Holidays are over, so no more excuses, temptations, nor pressure to overindulge for a while. Those sugar highs and lows were messing with my energy and focus. It's back to what passes for normal around here!

  3. Tip of the day:

    Your cookies will stay fresh if you place a slice of bread in the container with them.

    1. MJ, Thank you for the tip! Maybe I can eat some toast or a sandwich to fill myself up so I wouldn't be so tempted to gorge on the cookies, sparing them for the people they were intended for.

  4. You love your donuts!!!!!!! My mother and I start making these family recipe cookies called sandtarts. By the end of the season we have generally made almost 3,600 cookies!!!!!! So if we partake of any, who could tell!!!!!!! But most are for work and gifts we give to others. And they are paper thin.

    1. Wow, Maddie!, that's a lot of cookies! What an awesome and wonderful holiday tradition you and your Mom share with others! Homemade cookies are fantastic treats during the Holidays or any day.

  5. I can't believe you ate so many donuts all at once! And cookies! Had you made them smaller than usual - bitesize, perhaps? Is that how you were able to scoff so many? Good gods :)
    Still, at least you managed to make some delicious food for your friends and colleagues, so it all worked out in the end.

    And, I don't feel as bad now for wolfing down a whole cherry pie! And a box of chocolates!! So, thank you!

    1. IDV, It's amazing how many sweets one can eat when they are motivated or just satisfying an irresistible craving. It felt like I could've won a competitive eating competition! And donuts and cookies go down easy with hot chocolate. Now you know why I felt like a greedy little piggy and why I had to scramble to find suitable replacements to make up for my guilt.

      Cherry pie and chocolates are delicious! After pigging out on all those sweets, I had to spend an hour for a few days dancing in an attempt to burn off all the extra calories. Also, it was a good excuse to break out the 90s dance and hip hop jams and do some dancing while baking.