The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not


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Cook Along #1 : Jerk Chicken and Mango Chutney

This week we did something fun and different with our friends and family … I hosted an online cook along! It was so fun, even with our small group. We were small but mighty! On the menu was an old family favorite (mango chutney), with an amended protein (jerk chicken instead of roasted shrimp). Everything together was divine.

Chicken
– 2 chicken breasts or 4-6 boneless thighs
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 1/2 tsp allspice
– 1 tsp thyme
– 1 Tbsp brown sugar
– 1 large garlic clove, minced
– 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
– Juice of 1 lime

Marinate chicken in a bag (do this step in the morning), if they’re larger pieces, pound them a bit so they’ll cook more evenly. We cooked them together on the stovetop. I used an old iron skillet we refer to as “the utensil.” This is always tasty when grilled.

Chutney
– 1 champagne mango, diced small
– 1 cucumber, seeded and diced small
– 1 red pepper, seeded and diced small
– 1/4 yellow onion, minced
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper
– 1/4 tsp curry
– 1/2 tsp cilantro

Add all ingredients in a small bowl, stir and set aside as you begin cooking.

Cous cous
– 1 c Cous cous
– 1-1/4 c chicken stock
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– Pinch of salt and pepper

Cook according to package directions.

Salad
– Butter lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
– 4 Tbsp olive oil
– 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
– 1 Tbsp agave
– 2 tsp lime juice
– 1/4 tsp cilantro
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper

Whisk all ingredients and dress the salad just before you serve it.

What fun activities do you do with your family and friends to pass the time?


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Willie Nelson

Check out my rooster, Willie Nelson. He’s a seven-week barred rock rooster from down the way. He’s a big baby, hides behind my legs when our Rhode Island Red hens pick on him, lets us pick him up and love on him, and chirps like Beaker from The Muppets. He’s BFF’s with Lady Gaga. In conclusion: he’s dreamy.


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Shrimp & Grits Experience

We’ve never found the task of making our own adventures daunting, so when Mr. Sickles got us a MasterCard cooking experience with Marcus Samuelsson, we were excited. On the one hand, we’re big cooks at my house. On the other, we’re southerners who’ve probably eaten our weight ten-times over in shrimp & grits. But this time it was different, the recipe was new and the ingredients unexpected. The whole shebang was fun, my mini me came over to participate, and we all enjoyed the evening.


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Three-Cubed

Today Mr. Sickles and I are celebrating our 27th anniversary. He’s the WALL-E to my Eve. The Wesley to my Buttercup. The Jack Colton to my Joan Wilder.

That’s 3x3x3. Three-cubed. The Trinity of Trinities. We are the atomic number of cobalt. 27% of the universe is dark matter. The width of a tennis court is 27 feet wide. There are 27 cubes in a Rubik’s cube. Uranus has 27 moons. The Twenty-Seven club includes some of the greatest musicians, including Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. Eddie Izzard ran 27 marathons in 27 days. Mozart was born on January 27 and produced 27 piano concertos and 27 concert arias. 27 is the only positive integer that’s three times the sum of its digits … like my family. We are the sum of our members, and we Sickles Three are mighty thankful for our health, happiness, and optimism.

Twenty-seven is a big deal. I’m proud of us!

___________________

Photo: Peyton Sickles


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First Annual Family SPAM Day Extravaganza!

I drove my cousin crazy a couple weeks ago when I posted a photo of a SPAM and egg biscuit. So when he and his family were relocating cross-country for the Coast Guard, they spent a couple of days with us in the meadow. Chief among his requests was a SPAM day. And thus was born our First Annual Family SPAM Day Extravaganza. We started out simple this year: SPAM and egg biscuits, with eggs from our girls. Next year we’re going to try fancy SPAM recipes, and to see if we can add more cousins and friends to the day. There’s a real SPAM day, but I think our extravaganza is going to be better because it’s us. Just saying.


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So long, Peter Pan

Last year, on top of stockpiling more beans than our digestive systems could handle, we stockpiled peanut butter. Because even at 23, our son has a PBJ every night before bed. For the last four years or so, his PB of choice was Peter Pan Simply Ground Honey Peanut Butter. It was anathema to me, a lifelong Crunchy Jif girl. And he was a lifelong Crunchy Jif boy until that Simply Ground crack hit his system. Since peanut butter is an affordable protein with a great shelf-life, it was an important staple in the diets of many people across the world. Hey, it was either that or Spam. But by the summer we were having trouble finding the good stuff, and did a little research. Turns out Peter Pan phased out Simply Ground, so I had everybody I knew on the lookout, whenever they braved a trip to the grocery store or Walmart. We bought our last three jars of Simply Ground in September, and spread it as thinly as possible to still consider it a PBJ. We got down to the last quarter of the last jar on planet Earth around December 5, and our son closed it up tight and stuffed it in the back corner of the pantry to, I don’t know, dip a spoon in there every couple of days to make it last. The shelf life on the jar was December 20, 2020 … well, folks, last night I pulled it out thinking we’d each have one last bite for our good fortune.

Gag. Believe the ‘use by’ dates on products in your pantry, people. Force yourself to finish your very favorite thing in the whole world, even if it’s the last one (I’m looking at you, Ho-Ho’s), because it’s even more of a punch to the teeth when you can’t eat the last bite because it’s bad. The Crunchy Jif lover in me rejoices to our return to the OG, but the Simply Ground boy in my son mourns Peter Pan’s decision to stop its production. I shake my fist at you, Peter Pan!


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Life goes on

I’m calling today the official end of the quarantine for our family, because after exactly 62 weeks (to the day) of my husband not traveling for work, today’s commute is thanks to United Airlines. In all the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, these last fifteen-and-a-half months have been an idyllic, paused moment of uninterrupted time together with my small trio. Mr. Sickles has been grounded, our son quarantined with us, and quite frankly, I’ve dreaded today’s inevitable disbursement. But it feels good to be back into a groove that is recognizable as our new normal. The one who pines the most with change is our sweet Magnolia May, who would rather spend the day under the covers. So whether you’ve already gotten back into your groove or it’s looming on the horizon, remember to budget time for a couple extra ball chases and leash walks.


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Adventuretime! Plus one edition

We decided to take it easy today and walked around downtown for a bit, then had lunch at the Small B&B Cafe. With my son, who everybody is crazy about. Neither Rah-Rah nor I bothered with fixing up our hair today because we’re still on the tail end of a super windy day yesterday. I wore my Paris beret, and Rah-Rah said she didn’t feel like setting her hair for a Cat-5, so you get what you get. What adventures have you been up to lately?

I’m adding this here because it’s one of my favorite photos. Mom’s always willing to do the craziest stuff for a photo. Here, she’s dreaming of being a hula hoop queen like Peggy Noodle, Hoop Queen, in my first children’s book. Go, mom!


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Adventuretime! Watercolors edition

At the beginning of the year, I started having Adventuretime! with my mom as a way to keep her active and engaged. We have a tasty lunch, do a little exercise, and use some brain power. Some weeks we color, some weeks we dance, some weeks we walk. This week, we headed to my mother-in-law’s house to do a little painting.

My MIL’s a retired math teacher, so it’s no surprise she was able to do a quick watercolor lesson. We started with a chaos background and built up from there. Lunch was a collective effort of homemade chicken and Israeli couscous soup and salad. And since we’ve all gotten COVID-19 vaccinations (the moms are finished, and I’ve gotten my first dose), we had free Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert. I mean …