Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Busting my butt on Monday

As predicted, it was warm at lunchtime on Monday. So, when I got home at lunchtime, I raked all the built-up leaves off both patios and onto the lawn.

Then I moved the outdoor furniture to Jake’s patio and made sure the hoses were drained. I added the wheelbarrow to the pile and put the hoses in it. Then I went into the attic and got out a tarp. I put the tarp over the pile and secured it with a rope. I went inside and grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to work.

I left work at 4:00 PM so I could finish up before dark and the rain predicted after midnight. So, I gassed up the push mower and cut about 1/4 of the back yard closest to the house to chew up the last of the leaves. I finished up just before dark.

Back inside, I got the trash together along with the kitty litter and got it all out to the road. Then I took a break – I was beat!

About 7:30, I reheated the chicken, some stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy. I added some cranberry sauce and had an excellent dinner.

I watched the movie “Casablanca” and then went to bed, sore, but content!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday Supper

I waited impatiently for it to come up above freezing outside. That didn’t happen until after noon.

So, I went outside and unhooked the two hoses. As I feared, there was some ice in them. So, I stretched them out across the lawn and let the sun do its work. Meanwhile, I used the leaf rake to get some of the remaining leaves off the patio and onto the lawn.

I went back inside to warm up and the phone was ringing. It was my friend B___, so we talked for a while catching each other up on our Thanksgiving activities.

Back outside, I tried to drain the hoses, but very little water came out. Since it will be near 50 degrees F. tomorrow, I decided to leave them out there, just to make sure they are really empty.

Back inside, I started making dinner. I had thawed out some boneless, skinless chicken breasts I’d gotten on sale. Normally, I only make bone-in, skin-on ones (they have more flavor) but these were on sale!

So, I lined my cake pan with tinfoil and laid down a bunch of veggies. I didn’t have any carrots or celery (I need to go grocery shopping) so it was just onions, potatoes and garlic. After seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning I laid it on top. Then I added a couple of cups of chicken stock. I topped the pan with more tinfoil and stuck it in a preheated 375 degrees F. oven. I set the timer for 40 minutes.

Then I hit my pantry and came up with an old box of Stove-top chicken stuffing, the last of the russet potatoes, a jar of turkey gravy and a small can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.

I peeled the potatoes and got them cooking. Then I opened the cranberry sauce, warmed up the gravy and made the stuffing. I mashed the potatoes with evaporated milk (I was out of whole milk, too) and then plated my Sunday supper.

Was it as good as Jake and Carla’s feast? Of course not! But, now I have leftovers!!

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black (?) Saturday

I woke up at the incredible hour of 11:00 AM on Saturday. I have accidentally found a way to deal with my sleep apnea. For like 10 years, I have had blue curtains hung on the edges of the bedroom windows and the windows themselves covered with white mini-blinds.

Well, Friday when I wanted to take a nap, the sun on the mini-blinds was annoying. So, I closed the curtains (I’ve never done that before). Bingo! The darkened room let me sleep and I’ve left them that way ever since. Much better sleep conditions!

I ate a big bowl of potato soup for breakfast/lunch after I found my glasses (not the original “black-hole” ones, but my current pair). They were on the nightstand, but I couldn’t see them or feel them. So, I pulled the bed out and pushed it up against the TV (thinking they’d fallen back there). Then I got my third-oldest pair out and put them on. That’s when I spotted them on the nightstand.

But, I also spotted a lot of cat hair on the floor where the bed was. However, the vacuum cleaner was downstairs and it seemed like a lot of work to haul it upstairs. So I left the bed where it was (to remind myself I needed to clean it up) and watched some cooking shows.

It was nice because I could finally read the words on the TV screen (my eyes are getting BAD!)

For my evening enjoyment, I watched the original Jurassic Park. Instead of a formal supper, I ate some hunter sausages Jake and Carla gave me on Thanksgiving. I went to sleep when the movie was over.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson was charged with pot possession. The Border Patrol claimed six ounces of pot were found on his tour bus in Texas.

You gotta love that dude!

Black Friday

I’m not sure why they call it “Black Friday” but it’s the day merchants offer incredible deals and open at like 4:00 AM. So, people line up and wait outside (overnight, sometimes) to get the deals. Now, I know my boys have done this for computer crap (not too sure about my girls) but I never do. Because I know the trick: there are only like four or five of the sale items and once they are gone, they are gone... So, I stay away from stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I woke up Friday morning at the incredible hour of 9:00 AM! I dumped the old coffee and made a fresh, four-cup pot. For some odd reason, it was sunny outside (it’s supposed to be cold with snow flurries all day). So, I checked the weather and it’s just a break in the clouds – snow is supposed to be headed this way.

Speaking of the weather, I forgot to mention I thought it was great that the rain stopped yesterday long enough for the Detroit parade to get done.

I waited until after 11:00 AM, but it hadn’t yet gotten above freezing. It was still sunny with high clouds. So, I donned warm clothes and went out to cut the front lawn.

Doing the side lawn (next to the garage) was a b*tch! It was only 29 degrees F. here, but there was a sustained 20 MPH wind from the west. So, the wind & cold made cutting the side lawn a real pain. To add to that, the herbage I’d cut out of the gardens was frozen. I actually at one point thought I would have to rake it to the vacant lot next door until I discovered I could move the piles about with the push mower wheels. That let the mower chop it up.

But, cutting the front lawn was not too bad with the house acting as a buffer to the wind. I was back inside by 1:00 PM. So, it took me twice as long as usual to cut the whole front lawn. But, that’s done for the year!

I was hungry, so once I’d warmed up (and it took a while) I made a sandwich (unlike 90% of Americans today, mine was roast beef). Then I took a nice nap.

When I woke up, I was still chilled. So, I decided to make some potato soup. I used the recipe I created in the recipe section of this website (if you remember, this was the soup my Mother said was “almost” as good as Jake’s – that still rankles!)

So, I got out my trusty Dutch oven pot and heated it up. I added about 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into lardons with my kitchen shears (I find that easier than using a knife). I cooked the bacon until it was browned and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, I removed the bacon bits and then crumbled when cool.

Most of the bacon grease went into my coffee cup (I keep it in the fridge for all kinds of things), but I reserved two tablespoons of bacon drippings. Now, my original recipe called for two cups of red onions, but I just cut up one big *ss sweet onion. I threw the approximately two cups of chopped onions in the pot and sweated them over medium heat until translucent (about 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, I was peeling a bunch of russet potatoes. My original recipe (you remember, the one my Mom said was almost as good as Jake’s – did I mention that?) called for red potatoes, but all I have in the house is russet. I added three cloves of garlic (I like garlic) and cooked it an additional one minute. I then added eight cups of homemade chicken stock (the last I have) and the potatoes. I covered it and simmered it gently, about 40 minutes.

I took the pot off the heat and, with the slotted spoon again, pulled out about 1/3 of the cooked potatoes and set aside on a plate. Using my immersion blender I pureed the soup until smooth. I added two cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and a handful of dried parsley (the flat leaf parsley outside is dead and gone). I tested it and added salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Hmmm... it’s good but not great (my Mom could be right) so I mounted a half stick of butter to make it shine.

I returned the reserved potatoes (after cutting them smaller) and the bacon and let it simmer until ready to serve. I wish I had that Westborn Italian bread or any crusty bread to go with it. But, I don’t and so I fixed a bowl to eat. Excellent!

I went in and watched the Wizard of Oz (a perennially favorite). After that, I watched some cooking shows. I went to bed about 1:30 PM.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Watching a late night TVCooking show reminded me..

One of my favorite sandwiches is a French Dip. The combination of the French roll, the roast beef and the au jus dip is fantastic!

Thanksgiving

I got up around 3:30 AM on Thanksgiving for a bathroom break. It was raining hard here. But when I really got up for good (around 7:00) the rain had stopped. Judging from the many puddles, it had rained a long time. So, I went out and checked the gauge. I had just under an inch of rain in it! Lucky it had stayed above freezing overnight.

I made a pot of coffee and had a couple of cups. Then I turned on the TV to watch the Thanksgiving parade in downtown Detroit. I started cleaning the house (getting a jump on the weekend) and watched the parade every now and then.

I shaved and showered, got dressed and left for Jake and Carla’s about 1:10 PM (having taken a lot of flack for being late the last few times). So, naturally, I got there 20 minutes too early. When Carla opened the door, I volunteered to sit in the car, but she told me to get inside.

Shades of the old days, they had an eight-foot folding table set up in the living room! There was a fresh, free range 25 pound turkey tented in the oven and it smelled fantastic! The only problem was the heat.

Jeremy, Jyl, Joe and Riese showed up around 2:00 PM. They brought the desserts: a pumpkin tart, an Achatz berry pie (yes, the same family I recently wrote about), an apple pie and Jyl had made pumpkin ginger biscotti (without nuts, so Carla could eat it.

Even though Jake and Carla had done all the prep work the night before, they mostly spent the next two hours in the kitchen. Jeremy’s family and I spent our time in the family room, watching hilarious and sometimes touching reruns of “The Cosby Show.” The dog had fun, moving from petter to petter (is “petter” a word?) all day.

Remember the appetizer I was supposed to bring, but couldn’t figure out? Well, I’d even discussed it with my friend B___, who couldn’t figure it out either (mix the Brie with the olives and spread them on toasted baguette slices?). Well, it turned out the appetizer was just that! They sliced the Brie, the baguette and put them and the olives in a three-section tray and we ate them as is. I over-thought that one, I guess.

Finally, about 4:00 PM, dinner was ready. It consisted of the turkey (moist like you’d never believe a 25 pound turkey would be), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (done in Lu’s favorite style, mashed with pineapple), baked acorn squash, homemade cranberry sauce (accompanied by a can of the jellied stuff for the more traditional eaters), excellent gravy, cornbread dressing and whole green beans sautéed with wild mushrooms.

Knowing how little I can eat these days, I just took a small spoonful of each. But, I couldn’t help myself and went back for more of the turkey and gravy. I sat across from Riese, who did ample justice to a plateful of just mashed potatoes (she said she loves them) and the turkey. All that food doesn’t seem to make her fat, just tall!

We sat around the table and chatted after dinner, sated. The more we sat there, the more I realized just how full and how tired I was. Now, normally, I would have just taken a nap on their couch, but with this many people it would have been inconsiderate. So, I reluctantly made my goodbyes. Carla tried to give me some leftovers but, knowing how much I had to go, I declined (I’ll regret that). I missed dessert, but really shouldn’t have eaten it, anyway (although it looked fantastic!)

I drove home in a light rain, took care of some business and then treated the cats. I tried to take a nap, but only dozed. I dozed enough to be able to stay up until 1:30 AM, though!

Jake and Carla, always good to see you and thanks for an excellent meal! Jeremy, Jyl, Joe and Riese, it was good to see you all; we should do it more often! All in all, it was a GREAT Thanksgiving!!

Hope your Thanksgiving was as good as mine...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Like most people, I guess, some of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving were the ones I spent as a child.

Most of the prep work for the dinner was done the day before. My job was to cut two huge loaves of stale bread into perfect cubes (early knife skills) for the stuffing.

Then my Mother would wake up incredibly early and put the huge turkey in the oven. I still don't understand that, as turkeys don't take THAT long to cook.

Meanwhile my Dad would set up the two long tables he made from wood that rested on homemade sawhorses. Then we'd cover them with tablecloths (at the time, I thought they were linen but, looking back, I think they were bedsheets).

Somebody would take the old cornucopia and use it for the centerpiece, filling it with fruits, nuts and grapes.

My married brothers and their kids would start to arrive and finally (FINALLY) we would sit down to eat.

Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy were my favorites, but there were always extra side dishes. My Mother always made her signature dish: some sort of jello with fruit in it (sometimes cherry with fruit cocktail, sometimes lime with, say tangerines).

It was a running joke that my Mom always forgot "something" in the fridge and didn't discover it until afterward. Hey, don't laugh, I do it myself!

Then, we feasted!

Wednesday

I was feeling better Wednesday, so I went to work (for a change!)

Lunchtime, I drove up to Westborn and picked up my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal tomorrow at Jake and Carla’s: a baguette, a jar of Kalamata pitted olives, some Brie and some Marques de Caceres Crianza wine. I’m not sure what kind of appetizer this will make, but I just do what I’m asked...

I had also planned on doing some outdoor work at lunch, but it was only in the 30’s with a brisk wind, so I passed.

It was still cold (well, not as cold as Alberta, Canada, obviously – but cold to me) and now dark when I arrived home. So, I watched the nightly news and then around 7:00 PM, I made some dinner. I made a roast beef sandwich on sourdough bread with some “horse sauce” (Mayo and horseradish). I added some olives to the plate and sat on the couch, eating a delectable repast.

I fired up both the washing machine and the dishwasher. Then I watched TV until bedtime.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catching Up

Monday I wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed home and in bed. I didn't feel any better on Tuesday, so I stayed home one more day. This is costing me a fortune!

Catching Up

Sunday, Sunday

I woke up Sunday morning with an overwhelming desire for some Cinnamon Rolls. So, I pulled down a Paula Deen recipe that sounded good and printed it off. I studied it drinking my first cup of reheated coffee (I know). Jesus! There was yeast, warm water, flour and once you got the dough made, you needed the filling and then the glaze!!

I wish I had a tube of that Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll stuff. I gave up on the whole idea and ate two pieces of sourdough bread, toasted, for breakfast.

In spite of all the stuff I have to do outside before winter sets in, I stayed inside and putzed.

About 2:00 PM, I put together a roast. I thought I’d try something different, so instead of the slow cooker, I put it in my cake pan on top of some carrots, potatoes, onions and chunks of rutabagas. I went on the Internet to get some cooking times and temperature.

However, they were wrong! All my beautiful veggies were burned, except the ones directly under the roast. I did get a meal out of it, though.

I watched my Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:30 PM.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Nutty Saturday

I woke up around 7:00 AM on Saturday but stayed in bed until after 8:00. Finally Caley got up (Scruffy was still zzz-ing it) so I figured I should too. I refilled the little humidifier and then washed my coffee pot.

I filled in the Blog. Then, I made a four cup pot of coffee and drank a cup of it on the couch, planning my day. I ate a whole big pink Texas grapefruit for breakfast and had another cup of coffee. Then I did some inside house chores, waiting for it to warm up a little.

At noon, it was 44 degrees F., so I donned my outdoor gear and went outside. Using the line trimmer, I cut down all the dead plants in the gardens in the front and the side of the house. Then I got a leaf rake and raked everything out of the gardens and onto the lawn to dry. I added some fertilizer to all of the gardens.

I grabbed some cash and walked over to the nearest party store and bought two things: a big jar of Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts (I’ve been thinking about peanuts for days) and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup (a necessary component of tonight’s dinner). I am reasonably sure I overpaid for both (as opposed to say, Meijer’s, Kroger or Walmart) but the convenience was worth it.

Back home, I warmed myself up, watching TV and munching on peanuts. Then I took a nap.

When I woke up, I started making dinner: a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I plated the perfectly grilled (and I mean perfectly) sandwich and put most of the tomato soup into my big cup.

I wandered back into the bedroom to watch TV and eat. I refilled the cup with the rest of the soup at one point and snacked on the peanuts during the rest of the evening.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Listening to music....

While I like to think I'm just "Switching to Glide," I fear I'm just "Free Falling."

Screw it! "Let the Scythe and the Shotgun Sing us a Song!"

In the Gutter...

It was sunny, but chilly and very windy on Friday. But, when I got home at lunchtime, I dragged out the stepladder, went in the backyard and cleaned out those gutters.

They were a mess (I knew they would be; they are directly under three huge maples) and the composted leaves plopped onto the patio, splattering the outside walls. I got them all out, but then ran out of time.

So, when I got home after work, even though it was much colder and windier and getting dark, I went back outside. I used the hose to wash off the walls, and then climbed the ladder to hose out the gutter. By the time I got close to the downspout, it was too dark to see what I was doing. But the water was coming out freely, so I am calling it a success.

Back inside, I looked at the dinner I had planned to make and said, “Screw it!” Yeah, I literally said, "Screw it!" My legs hurt too bad to spend time at the stove. So, I just made a pan of popcorn, topped it with melted butter and salt and spent the rest of the evening lying down, watching TV.

Isn’t Life Strange...

I was checking around for something to watch waiting for “The Man Who Would be King” (an interview with England’s Prince Charles – it was excellent, BTW and would have been perfect for Anglophiles like my brother Carl and Jake). I came across a taped “At the table with...” a Cooking Channel show I sometimes watch. It features a bio of a chef, some I’ve heard of, some I haven’t.

This time was one I hadn’t heard of before, Grant Achatz. Stealing from Wikipedia, here’s the main facts:

Grant Achatz (born 1974) is an American chef and restaurateur who is considered to be on the cutting edge of the movement of menu item construction often referred to as molecular gastronomy or progressive cuisine (think Wylie Dufresne). Achatz has won numerous awards from prominent culinary institutions and publications including the "Rising Star Chef of the Year Award" for 2003 and "Best Chef in the United States" for 2008 from the James Beard Foundation.

Following graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, Achatz landed a position at Thomas Keller's highly acclaimed restaurant, The French Laundry, in Yountville, California. Achatz spent four years at The French Laundry, rising to the position of sous chef.

In 2005, Achatz went out on his own, opening Alinea in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. In October 2006, Gourmet magazine named Alinea the best restaurant in America in its feature on "America's Top 50 Restaurants".

But, here’s the kicker: He started his career working in his family’s restaurant in St. Clair, Michigan! I’ve eaten in there a hundred times or more!! It was a little Mom & Pop place with decent home cooking. The local teens loved it for the chili-cheese fries.

Weird...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday's Tale

It was gray and gloomy on Thursday. When I got home at lunch, I cut down the front clematis.

When I got home after work, I pulled out the dead mums from the mailbox. I put everything in the wheelbarrow on top of the sweet alyssum. Then I took all the mess out to the compost heap. Next I filled up the bird feeder.

Inside, I changed clothes and then washed up the pots and pans from last night’s dinner. I watched the nightly news until 7:00 PM.

I warmed up some of the garlic shrimp pasta for my dinner.

I was totally uninspired as far as working went, so I alternated watching TV with dozing until I went to bed for real after midnight.

And yes, I know… it was B-O-R-I-N-G!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday

It rained overnight, so I checked the rain gauge before going to work. I got about 3/4 of an inch of rain.

But, it was sunny (although not that warm) at lunchtime, so I got my garden gloves and pulled out all the sweet alyssum from the front garden. I filled up a wheelbarrow to take back to the compost heap.

It rained in the afternoon and was cold when I went home after work.

I did the Wednesday night wash but nothing much else. I did talk with my friend B___ for a bit, though.

I adapted a recipe and made garlic shrimp fettuccine for dinner. I put on a pot of salted water to boil and then went out to harvest some of the last flat leaf parsley.

I chopped up the parsley and then minced up four cloves of garlic. I put some olive oil in my biggest skillet and added four tablespoons of butter on medium low heat. When that was bubbling, I added the garlic, some of the parsley and 1/4 cup of white wine and stirred it frequently.

I dropped the fettuccine into the boiling water and set the timer (I want this al dente, dammit!)

Meanwhile, I turned up the heat in the skillet to medium high and added in one pound of medium-sized shrimp I’d peeled and deveined. I let that cook about three to four minutes (until it turned pink). Then I drained the pasta, added it to the skillet and tossed it until it was coated.

I plated some, topped it with parmigiano-reggiano and more parsley and wandered in to watch TV.

Quote of the Day

"How long one minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on."

~ Unknown

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poem of the Day

"Roses are red,
violets are blue.
When the cops come,
say I was with you..."

Nadia G.
"Bitchin' Kitchen"
(it's a Canadian cooking show I am fond of)

Rainy Days and Tuesdays...

I beat the rain home on Tuesday, but not by much. I returned a weekend call from Lu and we talked for a while.

My original plan was to clean the house tonight (while it rained) so as to free up the weekend for the last of the outdoor work. However, I used the extended conversation with Lu as my excuse for not doing that (I really didn’t feel like doing it, anyway).

I ate leftover spaghetti for dinner and watched TV until bedtime.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, Monday

Monday was, well, Monday.

After work, I cleaned up the mess from Sunday’s spaghetti and ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher. Next I got the garbage together for tomorrow morning.

I had eaten some of the spaghetti for lunch, so I ate the rest of the cabbage rolls for dinner.

I watched TV until after the 11:00 PM news and then went to bed.

Monday, Monday

Monday was, well, Monday.

After work, I cleaned up the mess from Sunday’s spaghetti and ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher. Next I got the garbage together for tomorrow morning.

I had eaten some of the spaghetti for lunch, so I ate the rest of the cabbage rolls for dinner.

I watched TV until after the 11:00 PM news and then went to bed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Slow Sunday

I had planned on getting some more outdoor work done on Sunday. But, when I sat on the couch, having a cup of coffee, it looked miserable out there! It was cold, gloomy and windy. So, I changed my mind and stayed in.

I had bought some frozen blueberries, but I couldn’t make up my mind on what to make with them: muffins or pancakes? That debate went on so long that it was supper time!

I made a big pot of spaghetti for supper. I needed to use up the rest of the hamburger mixture that didn’t fit in the cabbage leaves and it sounded good on a cold day. The sauce I made was excellent, but I overcooked the pasta.

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and then went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday

I woke up for a bathroom break around 2:00 AM. I spent a very restless night, sleeping. When I looked out the window, I couldn’t see the lights for the carwash or the parking lights behind my back wall! The fog here is really bad. Normally I wouldn’t care, but the directions on the Thompson’s Water sealer says it has to NOT rain for 48 hours after applying. So, I dunno if it’s a problem.

But, when I woke up at 5:30 AM (my usual time) the fog had lifted. I thought about it for a long time, (I even made a song up about it) and then decided to fnck it and went back to bed. I woke up just after 11:00 PM. I posted the Blog and then started the weekend wash.

I did three loads and got everything hung up, folded or put back on the bed. Some where in there Jake stopped in and we visited for a bit. I then went outside to make a mental list of things I had to do before winter (there’s still a lot!)

While I was out there, I noticed the cabbage leaves. So, I went inside, grabbed the kitchen shears and cut them all off. Inside, I rinsed them all off and selected the best eight of them. I boiled them about four minutes until they were soft.

I made some rice (I would have just used white rice, but that was an unopened box – I had a little bit of brown rice, so I went with that) while my hamburger thawed out. Then I added the hamburger with the rice, about 1/4 cup of onion, one egg (slightly beaten) and salt and pepper. Now, the recipe I was using called for condensed tomato soup but I don’t have any. So, I used tomato sauce, instead. I put in two tablespoon of that and mixed it up by hand.

I put that on the cabbage leaves, rolled them up and secured them with toothpicks. I put them back in the skillet over medium heat and dumped the remaining tomato sauce over them. I covered the pan, bought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. I checked on it often and basted the rolls with the liquid.

Damn! A Polish delight (I think they are called glumpkies or something)! I went to sleep happy!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finally Friday

Friday dawned with yet another heavy fog (it’s happened all this week). There’s some sort of reason, but I forget it.

But, it had burned off by 11:00 AM, so when I went home for lunch, I immediately changed all my clothes and shoes (I don’t want to screw anything up). Then I went out back and swept off the flat-bed trailer.

Next, I used a throw-away foam brush and a roller to apply Thompson’s Water Sealer to the trailer. It took longer than I had thought and hurt my back more than I’d imagined (I should have used the roller expansion pole I have and not bent over too much, I suppose). But, I got ‘er done!

I warmed up some Campbell’s split pea with ham soup, ate that, changed back to my other clothes and then went back to work.

I spent the afternoon fantasizing all the stuff I would do outside after work. But, when I left at 5:00 PM, it was already getting dark. So, all my plans were for naught.

Friday night was apparently phone-call night. First I talked to Carla, then Jake. After that, my daughter Melissa called. She was telling me an interesting story when she said one of the people in the story was calling and she’d call me back. She didn’t – so I don’t know how the story ended...

I was watching some taped cooking shows when my buddy B___ called. We talked for a while and I asked about his dinner plans. He said they had eaten hours ago and it was after 9:00 PM!

Not having given any thoughts to tonight’s dinner, I checked around. I ended up making a blue box of mac & cheese. Nothing special, but it fills you up and tastes good. I drifted off to sleep about 11:00 PM.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday

Thursday was the day Wednesday was supposed to be, weather-wise. But, I had to work. So, when I came home for lunch, I cut the front lawn with the push mower.

Then when I got home at 4:00 PM, I didn’t even change clothes. I just emptied my pockets, grabbed the lawn tractor key and went out to cut the back lawn. I had waited too long to cut back there and the leaves were bad, but I finally got it done. I finished up just as the sun was setting.

I came back in and made two pasties according to the recipe in the “Recipes” section. I ate one about 9:00 PM. It wasn’t bad, but a little dry. I put the other in the fridge after it cooled.

I went to bed about 10:30 PM.

Veteran’s Day

Thursday was Veteran’s Day here in the US. There is no real way to ever thank those men and woman who have given so much to protect and defend us here in America.

But, I salute you!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday's Woes

I should have worked Wednesday (to make up for Monday) but I had already scheduled a dentist appointment.

It was supposed to be sunny and warm (a forecasted high of 63 degrees!) so I was torn between riding the bike or doing the remaining yard work. However, the weatherman said there was fog in my area.

But, when I left for the dentist, it wasn’t fog. It was drizzle. I had to use the windshield wipers on the way there and back. I was hopeful, however, that the sun would burn off the “fog,” the leaves would dry out and I could cut the grass.

I waited, and waited and waited... When it was still gray and gloomy at 3:00 PM, I took a nap. I woke up around 5:00, just as the sun (which had finally come out, I guess) was setting.

So, no outside work got done. I made a toasted cheese sandwich for my dinner and gave up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday's Trials

I did make it into work on Tuesday (although I didn't want to). I warned everybody to stay the hell away from me and they did.

When I got home after work, I reluctantly got down the stepladder (I didn't want to do that either) and cleaned out the gutters over the front of the garage. This kills my knees and thighs, so I don't do it enough and you could tell. A lot of the leaves had composted into dirt and it was a mess!

I only did that section (I have three in various places on the roof) so I could still walk on Wednesday. It's not perfect (I think the drain spout is clogged) but I quit after that (it was getting dark).

I cleaned up and made a can of chicken noodle soup for dinner. Then, I read a book in bed until I got sleepy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday Moanin'

(And I was!)

I woke up about 1:00 AM Monday, sick with stomach flu or something. I say stomach flu because a guy I work with had it last week. He still came into work though, he just drank a LOT of Pepto-Bismal.

I spent the rest of the night and most of the morning either leaned over the toilet or sitting on it. I fell into an uneasy sleep in the afternoon.

When I woke up, I was starving and tried to think of something I could eat yet not upset my stomach. I settled on two poached eggs on toast. After I finished eating, that seemed like a lot of work, so I went back to bed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The weekend

I spent a very unproductive weekend, wearing my bathrobe, eating the rest of the tuna noodle casserole, reading my book on the couch and occasionally watching some TV. I didn't really get anything done, but I had a great time.

Isn't that what weekends are for?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday

Friday dawned cold and cloudy. I was at work when my friend Michelle walked up behind me and scared the sh*t out of me. She had come to return my cane (her son borrowed it for Halloween; he wanted to be an “old man” – Gee, thanks!) She also brought me a container of her husband’s Italian soup. I figured I’d warm it up and eat that for dinner (with maybe popcorn for a snack, later on.)

I ate the tuna noodle casserole for lunch (Damn that tasted good. My Mother would have loved it!)

There was light snow on the way home. The first of the season. I wish it was the last!

I changed my mind about cleaning the gutters (it’s too damn cold) and sat on the couch and read.

I talked to my friend B___. His daughter had been up north and brought back pasties from the UP, so that was their dinner for tonight. I went into my usual rant: No carrots or ground beef! I told him if they had ground beef or carrots in them to just throw them in the garbage disposal. That’s the crap they sell to tourists.

I grew up next to a family of Yuppers (that’s what they call people from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) and the mother often made pasties. I loved them and the main ingredients were cubed round steak, potatoes, onions and rutabagas: No carrots; No ground beef!!!

He called back later to say there wasn’t carrots, but rutabagas. Thank God!

He did inspire me, though, so I went in the garage to the chest freezer and pulled out the last round steak. I think I’ll make pasties for dinner on Sunday. While I was at it, I wrote “2009” on everything that was left (two or three steaks, several roasts and three pounds of hamburger). The next order of beef should be coming soon.

I changed my mind and ate a big bowl of the tuna noodle casserole for dinner.

I watched some TV, but went to bed early.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tuna Thursday

It was raining when I woke up Thursday morning. It eventually turned sunny, but then clouded up again, later.

I went to a little market at lunchtime and bought 8 ounces of whole button mushrooms.

It was cloudy with a light drizzle on the drive home.

I did have some things I wanted to do, so I went out back and drained the reflecting pool (first with a bucket, then with that little hand pump I bought). Then I added the cover and put on a big rock to hold it in place.

Then I sealed up the vent to the crawl space. I filled one suet cage (the other still has some in it) and the bird feeder. But, the rain came back so I went inside for the night.

I started making my dinner. As you know, I like tuna and peas and don’t really have a problem with the fact that one of the ingredients is a can of mushroom soup. But, I was interested when I found a tuna noodle casserole that you made from scratch!

So, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F. and buttered my casserole dish. I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil and added 8 ounces of egg noodles. I cooked them according to the package directions and then drained them.

I melted a tablespoon of butter in the pot over medium-low heat and added one small onion, one stalk of celery (both finely diced) and a clove of garlic, minced. I cooked them about five minutes (until tender). Then I increased the heat to medium high and added the mushrooms, which I had sliced. I cooked them another five minutes or so (until most of the water had evaporated).

I melted four tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and whisked in 1/4 cup of flour until smooth. Then I slowly added two cups of milk, whisking all the while. When the sauce was smooth and slightly thickened, I seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I added two cans of tuna (drained and flaked) one cup of thawed, frozen peas, the mushroom mixture and the egg noodles. I transferred all that to the baking dish.

I put the two tuna cans on the kitchen floor for the cats.

I melted two more teaspoons of butter and mixed in three tablespoons of bread crumbs. I sprinkled that over the top of the casserole. I went to get some shredded cheddar cheese and found I didn’t have any! Weird!! I always have that!

But, I did have some Colby-Jack, so I put about a cup of that on top. I baked it until it was bubbly and lightly browned (about 25 minutes). I shut off the oven, took out the casserole and let it cool.

Then I plated it. Hmmm... tasty! My only complaint is that I didn’t put enough salt in it, but that was easily corrected.

I watched some taped TV, but went to bed before 10:00 PM.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Wet Wednesday

I woke up at 5:30 AM (the usual time) and was annoyed! It’s my day off and I should have slept in. It’s cold outside again (29 degrees F.) and I’m a little chilled. I also have a very stuffy nose. I need to get the humidifier down from the attic. When the furnace runs a lot, I get all plugged up.

Another thing that’s annoying (apparently it’s gonna be an annoying day) is that I have an overwhelming desire for blueberry pancakes. But, I have no blueberries (either fresh or frozen) in the house.

At first, I thought of going to Meijer’s and buying some blueberries (about two miles from my house). Then I thought, what the hell, why not just drive the extra 1/4 mile and go to IHOP and just buy some pancakes?

Then I decided it was just an odd craving, so I cut a grapefruit in half, cut up the sections and ate both halves (heavily salted) for breakfast. But, I did put frozen blueberries on the grocery list.

Then I putzed around for a while, cleaning up the mess from the beef stew. I loaded up the dishwasher and ran everything in there except the Dutch oven, a wooden spoon and my Shun knife in it (those need to be hand-washed, but I just let them soak for a bit). I took out a four-cup container of the broccoli-cheese soup to thaw.

I watched the news at noon and then decided to take a nap. Now, naps at my house are sacred and not to be interrupted by the alarm clock! So, I never set it at nap-time (which is why I missed the wedding ceremony last Saturday). So, I woke up at 3:00 PM!

My big project today was to blow all of the leaves (and I got a ton of them) off the driveway, the front gardens, and both back patios. Then I was gonna cut the grass and mulch the leaves. There are probably less than 1/3 leaves left on all my maples.

So, I got the front done and then gassed up the push-mower. I pushed it outside and fired it up. At that exact moment, it started to rain! So, I turned it off and pushed it back inside. I sat on the couch with a book and watched it rain (hoping it would just be a brief shower). But, when I saw puddles starting to form on the driveway and the road, I knew that cutting the grass today was no longer and option...

My daughter Melissa called around 5:30 PM and we talked for a while. After we hung up, I warmed up the broccoli and cheese soup and ate that for my lunch/dinner. I had finished that book and watched TV instead.

I fell asleep around 10:00 PM and then woke up at 3:30 AM. I shut everything down, checked the front and back doors and verified the garage door was down and then to bed for real.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day

I put out my garbage Tuesday morning and then went to vote. I was the 23 person to vote in my precinct, BTW.

When I got home a little after 4:00 PM from work, I immediately started making that beef stew. I’d thawed out the meat on Sunday, if you remember, and didn’t want to end up pitching it.

But, I’m not making my fancy beef stew (in the recipe section) with the dumplings, although the dumplings sound good (I make extra light dumplings). I’m just making this one up.

So, first I made my mise en place. I peeled a very long carrot and cut it into one-inch sections. Then I peeled four small to medium-sized russet potatoes and cut them into chunks. Next came two yellow onions, peeled and cut into quarters. Finally, I peeled three garlic cloves and left them whole.

Next, I put two cups of regular flour in a bowl. I added a lot of kosher salt and even more fresh ground pepper and whisked it together. I wish I’d thought to season the meat last night as I think it tastes better that way. But, I didn’t.

I cut up four thick strips of bacon with the kitchen shears into 1/2 inch slices (easiest way to make lardons) and put them in my Dutch oven to render down the fat. I pulled out the bacon and set them aside to cool (I just wanted the fat).

Then I got out the pound of stewing beef and put about half in the flour mixture. I shook off the excess flour and dropped the meat into the oil. I am doing it in batches because I don’t want to crowd it. I want the meat to brown, not braise. I pulled off the first batch of meat, stuck it on a plate and into the microwave to stay warm. I did the second batch and put that on the plate as well.

Then I took the veggies and threw them in the pot. I kept tossing them around with a wooden spoon until they were all brown. Then I took one of those little bottles of wine (I used a red Cabernet Sauvignon) I buy for cooking. They are 187 ml or about 3/4 cup. I poured that in and deglazed the pot. Then I put the beef back in and added about 1/2 pound of big button mushrooms, quartered.

While the wine was reducing, I went out on the patio to get some fresh herbs. The frosts have not been kind to my herbs. I would have liked some rosemary, but it and the basil have been killed off. So, I settled on flat leaf parsley, oregano, thyme and just a little tarragon.

Back inside, I made my bouquet garni, by tying the stems together with kitchen string, tying the other end to the Dutch oven handles and throwing it in (this imparts the flavor while making it easier to fish them out, later). The wine was about half gone, so I took a box of beef stock and almost covered all the stew (I’m still trying to decide about those damn dumplings, LOL!) I added a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a couple of bay leaves. I brought that up to a boil and then turned it to a slow simmer.

I set the timer for two hours. It may take three. But you do need to check it every now and then to stir it and make sure the liquid isn’t too low. Oh, yeah, for a no muss, no fuss method, you can just stick it in an oven set at 325 degrees F., but that seems like a waste of gas to me. That’s why I don’t use the oven to make my chicken stock, although it’s highly recommended. Gas is expensive!

I gave in and made the dumplings by whisking together dry ingredients (two cups flour, four teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt), and then adding just enough milk (less than a cup) until mixture is thin enough to pick up with a wet teaspoon, but still stays in a rounded mound.

I took out the bouquet garni and the bay leaves. Then I brought the stew back to a boil, stirring to avoid sticking. Next I dropped spoonfuls of dumpling batter on top, but not touching each other (Note: this is the most important thing for fluffy dumplings! The gravy should be low enough that the batter is touching the vegetables. If your gravy is too high, grab a spoon and throw some away. Be ruthless! Dropping the dumpling on the liquid makes them soggy!!) I turned the burner to simmer and cooked them uncovered for 10 minutes, and then I put the lid on and cooked them 10 minutes more.

I went in and wrote this all down so I wouldn’t forget it. Then I went in to watch the election coverage. I hope this time it turns out like I want or I swear to God I’m moving to another State!

When the dumplings were done, I went and fixed myself a bowl of stew and a dumpling. The gravy was a bit strong (I should have reduced the wine a bit more, I think), but all in all it tasted pretty damn good.

Since I don’t have to work tomorrow, I stayed up and watched the election results until after 1:30 AM. It mostly went the way I’d hoped, so I was pleased. We’ll see...

Before I went to bed, I put the cooled stew into freezer containers. I got two four-cup containers full. I’ll let them chill in the fridge overnight and then stick ‘em in the freezer tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, Monday...

After work, I called my son Jeremy to wish him a happy birthday. He sounded in fine spirits, so that was good.

Monday night, I went through the fridge in preparation for garbage day. I was ruthless (I don’t even know anybody named Ruth, LOL). I peeled those broccoli stalks and cut them into small pieces for winter soups or stew. I found a head of cauliflower that was starting to look a little sad, so I decided to make that for dinner.

I took out the core and cut the cauliflower into florets. I boiled them until fork tender, added butter and a lot of salt and ate that watching TV. I stayed awake until 11:00 PM and then went to bed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday's Story

I rested up on Sunday. I was beat! So, I laid around and watched a lot of TV. I did call Amy to wish her a Happy Birthday.

I had thawed out some stewing beef, but it seemed like a lot of work. So, I made a box of mac & cheese for my Sunday supper.

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

The wedding

I woke up late on Saturday and made a pot of coffee. It's Amy's birthday, but I thought I'd call her on Sunday (so I didn't interrupt any planned festivities).

I thought I'd take like a 20 minute nap in the afternoon, but I ended up sleeping to almost 5:00 PM! And, it clearly said on my ToDo list to leave for the wedding at 3:30 PM...

So, I missed the actual ceremony. But, I got there about 6:30 PM. The bride looked lovely and the groom was handsome.

The food was excellent, but the first thing I did after getting my plate and sitting down was to stick my brand new tie into the tartar sauce I put on my fish! Damn!!

One of the problems with getting old is you no longer recognize any of the newer music or dances. But, they did play a few slow dances. So, I managed to dance with the bride, the bride’s mother and two of Bob’s daughters. I was hoping to dance with both Jenny and Linda (my bike’s old owner) but the music ended before I could.

I had switched to coffee for the last hour or so (to facilitate driving all the way home) and that worked out well. Except, once I got home (around 11:30) I could not fall asleep! I finally drifted off into a troubled sleep about 2:00 AM.

Friday

Friday after work I cleaned the house. I vacuumed and swept everything. About the only thing I didn’t do was wash the kitchen floor. I deliberately stayed up late because I have to stay up late on Saturday.