Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weather Alert!

After a stormy week with temperatures in the 50s & 60s, Old Man Winter has decided to re-assert himself in a big way. It seems that most weather forecasters are predicting an icy mix tonight with temps in the 20s and snow tomorrow with the high around 30.


I'm supposed to have book group tomorrow night, but I live a good hour from my friends and I hate the thought of the drive for their sake. I've been unable to concentrate on a menu because of this impending storm.

Do I plan for guests? Do I shop for groceries? What if they can't come? What do I do with all of that food? I need a nap!

My plan is to clean tonight. If the weather people fail in their predictions, I will get dinner ingredients tomorrow after work and go to it then. Otherwise, I will drop back 10 and punt.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Southern Fried Comfort

After polishing off a breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and gravy on Sunday morning, my mother turned to me and said "What are you going to cook us for lunch?"

My dad has been forced to become the family cook and doesn't particularly care for the job. So there is a lot of Boston Market dinners and DiGiorno's pizza in the freezer. Also, hot dogs, corn dogs, etc. Anything easy. He can, when he wants to, prepare a simple protein and some veggies or a pot of soup. And he has perfected his cornbread.

But the simple truth is, these meals are rare. I always cook for them when I'm there and try to leave enough left-overs for another couple of meals.

I checked the freezer and pantry to see what was available. I made squash casserole, black-eyed peas, fried apples, and fried pork chops. It was a very silent meal...we too busy eating to talk. And there were no left-overs. None. Nope. All gone. I have to pat myself on the back on that was as good as it gets.

I dredged the salted and peppered the chops before dredging them in flour. I dipped them in egg and then dredged them in Italian bread crumbs. Fried them to a golden brown. Oh my! The peas were cooked with pieces of Christmas ham I found in the freezer.

The squash was boiled with chopped onion and drained. I added about 1/2 a cup of mayo, and egg, 1/2 c of grated cheese and 1/2 c toasted pecans. Topped with crushed Ritz crackers and baked for 30 minutes @ 350. Yummy!

The apples were peeled and sliced and sauteed in butter for about 10 minutes. Then I added about 1-2 tsp cinnamon and about 1/4 cup of brown sugar and let the cook for about another 10 minutes. This meal, while a heart stopper, was perfect for a rainy, messy day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mary Tyler Moore

I was a pre-teen when the Mary Tyler Moore show first came on and I adored her. I wanted to live in Mary Richards' apartment. I wanted her clothes. The single career "gal" was my hero.

And we had our very own Mary Richards in our family. My mother's cousin Carolyn was so glamorous! She was always in full make-up with her hair done. She lived in a funky basement apartment near the hospital where she worked. She wore bolero pants and flashy scarves. My mom, who made her own clothes, never looked as dowdy as she did standing next to her cousin.

Carolyn had a huge personality...loud, boisterous, and energetic. She was devout but certainly not pious. She was forty when she married, and rejoiced in now having a child (even though a teen) to love.

Several years ago, the hospital in which she worked got a new piece of lab equipment and she took a sample of her own blood with which to test the machine. It revealed that she had leukemia. She fought the desease with the vigor and determination everyone expected from her, but last week her fight ended.

Her funeral was not a sad occassion, but a celebration of her life and a rejoicing in the fact that she was in a new home in heaven, surrounded by her loving parents and husband.

My mom will miss her very much, but I will always remember the 70's version with great admiration and affection.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Decisions, Decisions...

I don't know if I've mentioned it before or not, but I am the social committee/activities director/planner/organizer at my office. A committee of one.

The temperatures were soooo cold two weeks ago that I sent out an email announcing our Soup Day would be this Friday, January 22. Little did I know that this Friday will be sunny and 60 degrees.

I prepared a sign up sheet that has been passed around the office and it is absolutely hilarious! One fellow signed up to bring croutons (his sole contribution). I'm not sure what he feels will go well with croutons, but I really don't expect to see them, anyway. He is a "forgetter".

So the soups that have been committed are chili with beans, Taco soup, Southwestern Chicken soup, Wild Rice soup, and Corn Chowder. I must decide what to bring. I'm torn between a fabulous looking, untried recipe for Buffalo Chicken soup which includes both blue cheese and mozzarella or a Southern Living recipe I'm fond of for Brunswick stew.

What to do? What to do?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Reader Without A Book

When I was a kid in school, every year they would show the old movie A Man Without A Country in Social Studies. Does the fact that I still remember it some 40 years later mean it made an impact? I would have to say so!

Yesterday I was stranded at the Buick dealership for eight hours without a book. I was desolate! I was ungrounded! I was miserable! There was a small mountain of old magazines...Progressive Farmer, Garden and Gun, etc...but I have never been a reader of magazines. I subscribe to a single publications, Martha Stewart Living.

There was TV, but just how much daytime TV can one person take? I discovered a corner, behind a rack of literature, with a barely started jigsaw puzzle. Suffice it to say that when I left yesterday, it was 2/3 complete. The staff was amazed at my puzzle prowess.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy jigsaw puzzles. Any cat owner can tell you there is a specific challenge to working puzzles...pieces disappear. Or a flying ball of fur will suddenly hurl past your face, landing on and skidding across your work surface, destroying all progress and dispersing puzzle pieces throughout the house.

When I got home, I finished a book.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

I have book group on the 29th and I'm trying to set the menu. Since the book is set in Victorian London, I thought a traditional Victorian meal might be interesting. I combed cookbooks and the web and the most traditional thing I found was Roast beef & Yorkshire pudding.

I've never had Yorkshire pudding. I have no idea of how it should look or taste. But I gave it a whirl. The results were sketchy. It puffed up and browned like it should. It tasted like a rather bland pancake. The texture was much like a souffle. A bland souffle. And like a fell. But this much I knew to expect.

Because I needed the drippings, I didn't do my usual roast beef (Coke, Dale's, garlic & Worcestershire)but instead applied a rub after letting it marinate for several hours. It, too, seemed bland.

And at some point during the day I decided to bake a cake. It's been so cold lately that I've had trouble staying warm. In my head, I know that it is 72 degrees in my home, but my feet and arms have trouble believing it. So I've turned to baking to a)warm up the kitchen, b) keep myself busy thus keeping warm, and c) bribing my co-workers.

I made a Maraschino Chocolate Cake. The recipe called for maraschino cherry juice and chopped cherries. It also called for melted chocolate. As I've said, my home feels cold to me, but I was honestly surprised that the chocolate hardened when added to the batter. Maybe my thermostat is the liar, not my feet!

I took pictures, but since I am neither proud of nor happy with the results of my experiments yesterday, I refuse to publish photos.

And by the way, I didn't make my bed yesterday because I just didn't have the heart to remove the cat from between the covers.

I'll try the Yorkshire Pudding one more time, but then I may move on to a working class Victorian tea...meat pies. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

French Toast Weather

My friend Susan coined my new favorite phrase for describing our current weather conditions. Depending on which station you turn in to, we will either have 1-3", 2-4", or 4-6" of snow tomorrow. This had created the mad dash to the supermarket where, as Susan put it, "everyone scrambles for milk, bread, and eggs". Thus, French Toast Weather. I love it!

I assessed my situation last night to see if I needed anything, should I be unable to leave my home. I've got the ingredients for Black-eyed Pea Cornbread, I've got a pork roast and chicken breasts, bacon and eggs, canned tuna and crackers. No milk, but really, I don't drink the stuff. No bread, because I never buy it.

I've got fruit--strawberries and cherries that Kim brought to my NYE party left, grapes, and tangerines.

I've got toilet paper and cat litter and dry cat food. I only have one can, but she can live off dry food if needed. Or I could share my tuna. All in all, I'm in good shape.

Although, all this talk about french toast has made me want some. Do I dare try to find a loaf of bread?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas, New Years, and Stuff...

I took my Mom to Kmart on the evening of 12/23 so that she could do some shopping. We picked up a few things she needed and wanted, and were heading to the cash registers ( a straight shot up the aisle we were on, less than 50 feet away) when Mom told me to go ahead and check out and she would meet me at the front door. When I checked out, there was no Mom. I went back to where I had last seen her and searched. Nope. I spent the next 20 minutes frantically running from the front door to various parts of the store in which she might have wandered. As I was giving up, ready to ask a young employee for assistance, I spotted her in the very back of the store, in front of the storage area doors amidst the strollers. When asked what she was doing there, she responded with "Waiting for you! Where have you been?"

I got a Swiffer Wet Jet for Christmas. Sad to say, I was very excited to get a mop. I've used it twice already. I also got a lot of gift cards and a set of sheets.

I had friends over for fondue again this New Year's Eve and my friend Virginia took some pictures for me. I made a Gruyere fondue that I served with bread cubes, new potatoes, sliced apples, mushrooms and cauliflower. For a main course, we had chicken and pork marinated in a soy/ginger sauce that was really, really good. This we cooked in peanut oil. Ron and Virginia brought some shrimp which we cooked in beef broth.

Throughout the evening there was a wonderful Cheater Sangria, white wine, and assorted sodas.

And then came the reason for owning a fondue pot...chocolate.


Served with orange slice candy, bananas, strawberries, cherries, and marshmallows.

We popped the cork on some Yellow Tail Sparkling White at midnight, which we followed with coffee. We also played The Game of Things which I lost seems I'm very predictable.

I slept most of New Years Day and then took down my Christmas decorations on Saturday.

If you are interested, here are a couple of recipes from Thursday's Fondue Redo.

Cheater Sangria

1 bottle Shiraz
1 bottle White Cranberry Peach juice
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced

Mix together wine and juice, add fruit, serve over ice.

Gruyere Fondue

16 oz Gruyere
2 Tbs corn starch
1 clove garlic
3/4 c dry white wine
pinch grated nutmeg

Remove rind from cheese and grate; toss with corn starch. Place wine and garlic in fondue pot and bring to boil. Add cheese and nutmeg. Stir until cheese melts.

Chocolate Fondue

8 oz semisweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli's)
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli's)
3/4 c heavy cream
3-4 Tbs Grand Marinier
2 Tbs honey

Warm cream in fondue pot until bubbles form around the edge. Add chocolate, honey,and liqueur. Stir until chocolate melts.