Monday, January 31, 2011

Slow Sunday, Again

I didn’t sleep all that well Saturday night, so I was kinda dragging it on Sunday. I made a small pot of coffee. I had a cup or two sitting on the couch, listening to Sunday Morning, Over Easy.

When that finished, I put a rump roast I’d thawed yesterday into the slow cooker. I was doing it a bit different today. First, I seared all sides of it in a hot skillet. Then I put it in first, rather than all the vegetables. I just heard that this keeps the vegetables out of the cooking juices and gives them a more “roasted” taste. I topped it all with some fresh thyme sprigs I’d bought for something else.

Due to the time, I turned it on “high” so I could eat it for supper.

I went in and started to watch a movie, but I fell asleep and had a nice long nap.

Just after I woke up, the pot roast was done. So, I took out the veggies (potatoes, carrots and an onion, cut into wedges) and put them on a platter. Then I took the roast out, cut the strings off it and sliced some up.

I plated some of each and put some of the au jus on the meat and butter on the carrots and potatoes. I wandered in to watch my Sunday night shows and then went to bed at 11:00. The veggies were noticeably different and I think I liked them better.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday’s Story

I guess I was really tired because I slept until 4:00 AM! I checked the snow conditions outside and I’d guess we had about two inches of snow here, but it’s supposed to be worse north (where I’m headed).

I seriously considered canceling my doctor’s appointment, but I decided to just get it over. It had stopped snowing here so I got cleaned up and headed out for Richmond at 8:00 AM.

It was dicey here and it was very interesting on the expressway. You could tell who has the money or time. In Wayne County (where I live), two lanes had been plowed, but not salted, so it was a slow, snowy slippery go.

Once I got to Macomb County, three lanes had been plowed and salted, so I could go a maximum of 55 miles per hour!

But, the minute I hit 26 Mile Road, there was nothing! It was two tracks in the snow and dicey again (just south of Saint Clair County). I got off at 32 Mile Road and even the ramp wasn’t cleared.

I can’t tell you how many accidents, or cars in the ditch or cars off to the side I saw.

And 32 Mile Road just had two tracks, with no salting or plowing. But, I persevered (white-knuckled) until I got to Richmond. Gratiot sucked and the side road to the office complex had not been plowed. Even the doctor’s office parking lot hadn’t been plowed!

It was still snowing=and I would guess they had had at least five inches of snow here.

We did the usual (I’m cool, I’ve lost weight, blah, blah, blah). She did say my cholesterol is so good she wants to reduce my medication. Unfortunately, that means I have to come back in three months.

She did surprise me by asking why I hadn’t switched to a doctor near me. I explained her predecessor (Dr. McClellan) had been my doctor since we moved up here and delivered both my boys. When she took over (as he retired) I met her and loved her accent. She’s Austrian but its close enough to German that I find it familiar.

I told her that I liked her and trusted her and didn’t want someone else. She said she like me too, and didn’t want to lose me as a patient, but wanted to give me the option.

I headed back home after calling my friend B___. All I go got was voicemail. So I hit the express ways. I got home at 12:30 PM. So, two hours there, and one and a half hours back home.

I returned a call from my daughter, Melissa. We talked for a bit, and the we hung up. I realized I was beat, so I took a nap. Then I returned a call from B___.

Next I got out the Dutch oven and put in quartered baby red potatoes, smoked sausage cut on the bias and a bag of sauerkraut for dinner.

While that got hot, I watched the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” for about the 20th time. (I still love it! I want to be Jeremiah Johnson!) When it ended, I went to bed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday

I moved the other six IT people on Friday. I went to my new building and unpacked first, and then headed back to the old building just after 10:00 AM. I got the three pallets squared away and shrink wrapped them. I went to lunch about 11:30 AM and then returned. I waited for Transportation to pick them up and when they did, I called Facilities to let them know they were on their way so their people could unload them and take them to the right locations.

Back at the new building, I spent the afternoon catching up and rearranging my new cube (this always takes a few days to get right). My main regret was that I didn’t take the antibacterial spray from home I was going to wash surfaces, etc., with.

I left at 5:05 and got home at 5:30. Even though there was certainly more traffic than in the morning, the travel time was about the same.

I took a break on the couch for a while (my legs were killing me). I just made an omelet for my dinner using some leftover ham, the shitakes and Swiss cheese. Not bad, but I wish I’d left out the ham.

I started watching a movie but fell asleep around 9:30 PM.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Movin' Along

Thursday was moving day. Once again we are being relocated. Half the staff (including me) is going to a building in Farmington, and the other moving to the building where we recently moved our main data center.

So, it was a day of packing up, labeling and loading boxes onto skids, shrink wrapping them, etc. Worse, I’m the official PM for this so had to coordinate and oversee everything.

But, despite a few hiccups, everything seemed to go well. I ate what was probably my last lunch at home. I was just about 1/2 mile from home before, now I’ll be 8-10 miles away.

It started snowing when I was returning from lunch. It was coming down pretty hard and sticking to the ground when I left work at 4:00 PM. The roads were slippery, too. But it seemed to stop about 8:00 and I doubt if we picked up another inch.

However, we are supposed to pick up 2-5 inches of snow Friday night into Saturday. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but I have to drive to the doctor’s Saturday morning. This could get dicey!

I had lasagna for dinner and watched TV until the news was over at 11:30 PM. I woke up for a bathroom break at 2:30 AM and never did really fall back asleep. Friday will be a trial...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Wednesday. I washed out the coffee pot and, while it was drying, I wrote and posted the Blog entry. Then I made some coffe and went in to watch the morning news.

I thawed out the last cup or so of frozen blueberries and, after the news was over. I made up the family pancake recipe. I added the blueberries to it and let it sit for a bit while I got out the electric griddle. Then I made myself a stack of blueberry pancakes. Yumo!!

I did some minor stuff and then took a nap.

I started making dinner about 4:00 PM. I browned up a pound of ground chuck and then drained it. Then I put it in a large saucepan. Next I cooked sliced onions until they were soft and added them to the sauce pan. Then I added two 6-ounce cans of tomato paste and one 14.5-ounce can of crushed tomatoes.

To that, I added two cups of water, one tablespoon of dried oregano, two teaspoons of garlic powder, two teaspoons of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper one tablespoon of white sugar and one teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I warmed that on medium heat until it began to boil, then I reduced the heat and simmered it for an hour.

While the sauce was simmering, I blended 12 ounces of cottage cheese (I didn’t have any ricotta), a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese and one egg in a bowl and set it aside.

I put 11 lasagna noodles in a pot of boiling, salted water and cooked them until they were al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Then I drained them and drizzled them with olive oil (so they wouldn’t stick together).

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

I spread a cup of sauce in the bottom of my sheet cake pan. Then I added three noodles and put two more (cut to fit) on the ends of them. I think this helps the corners to stay together. I covered the noodles with 1/3 of the remaining sauce and topped that with eight ounces of shredded mozzarella. I put another layer of noodles and sauce over that and topped it with the cottage cheese mixture. I topped that with the last three noodles and the remaining sauce.

I baked it in the oven for 30 minutes. Then I sprinkled another eight ounces of mozzarella cheese and more Parmesan on top. I baked it for another 15 minutes until the cheese was bubbly and golden.

I let it rest for a while and then plated a big piece. I know it wasn’t “authentic” but it was damn good!

Before I went to bed, I covered the pan with tin foil and stuck it in the fridge. My kitchen was a wreck (dirty pots and pans everywhere), but I let them soak and will deal with them tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tale

It was at or above freezing for most of the day. But, with the wind you wouldn’t have known it. I went to Meijer’s at lunch to pick up some kitchen trash bags and mouthwash (I forgot them on my grocery shopping trip) and got thoroughly chilled walking from and to the parking lot.

As a result, I skipped my original plan to eat more salad and made up some soup instead.

When I got home at 4:15 PM, I saw I had a call from my daughter Melissa at 3:00. So, I called her back. There was no answer, but she did call me a few minutes later. I patiently explained my normal hours (again) but she said she just never remembers (I been there).

We talked for a while (I told her my electricity story and she told me about her bathroom remodeling project).

When we hung up, I was hungry, so I warmed up the buffalo chicken and added it to the salad. The salad was already watery. Note to self: Only dress the bowl you are going to eat from now on!

I had to wash the bedding as a cat had deposited a hairball on it! Dammit!!

I watched some of the State of the Union address, but must admit I dozed off somewhere in the middle of it. But, I woke up in time to watch the post-address coverage and so got the gist of it. I thought the official Republican response was moderate (for a change) and thoughtful.

Because of my little nap, I was able to stay up and watch the Tonight show. Then I went to bed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saturday's Lunch for Monday Night Dinner

It snowed off and on lightly all day Monday. No real accumulations, but it did make the roads slick.

I went to Westborn at lunch and got some potatoes and green onions.

When I got home after work, I started making the Buffalo Chicken Salad I was gonna make Saturday morning. First I crumbled up 1/4 cup of good blue cheese and added to 1/2 cup of Ranch dressing (why not just use Blue Cheese dressing? I was going with what I had!)

Then I took three boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into roughly one-inch cubes (I say “roughly” as precise cuts are difficult when cutting a squirming chunk of raw chicken). I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper.

I heated a large non-stick skillet with a tablespoon or so of canola oil. I put in the chicken when the pan was hot and browned it (3 or 4 minutes and a lot of tong work). Then I reduced the heat to low, added a couple tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of Franks Red Hot sauce. I simmered the chicken another 5 minutes of so until it was cooked all the way through.

I chopped up one head of romaine lettuce, added some cherry tomatoes and dressed the salad. I put some in a salad bowl, topped it with about 1/3 of the chicken and dug in.

Not bad, not bad at all! I wish the chicken was just a tad spicier though. Maybe I should have reduced the hot sauce/butter mixture more...

I watched some TV and then switched to reading a magazine that came in the mail today. When I started nodding, I switched off the light and went to bed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday's Story

When I woke up at 6:00 AM to go to the bathroom, it was 4 degrees outside! I don’t think the furnace shut off at all, all night long. I can’t WAIT to see my gas bill for this month.

I went back to bed.

I woke up around 8:00 AM, ground some beans and made a pot of coffee. Note: I couldn’t find any of my favorite coffee beans (Eight O’Clock 100% Columbine) so I grabbed a small bag of Kroger Columbine beans.

I posted the Blog entry while I drank a cup of coffee. Hmmm... not bad. According to my thermometer, it’s 10 degrees outside. I was going to make some home-made cinnamon rolls, but decided to pass. It’s too much work for just one person.

I watched the Sunday morning new shows and then got off my butt. Okay, no cinnamon rolls, but I do need to eat. So, I trimmed up the last of the thawed ham and warmed it in butter. Then I added some milk (I have milk again!) to three eggs and made an omelet. I added some American cheese to the top (no apologies here! If you want ooey, gooey cheese its American or Velveeta). But, no green onions, dammit!

I ate that watching the Sunday morning cooking shows.

Then I got to work on my electrical problems. I did manage to get the GFI working. But I couldn’t get the last plug under the counter to work. I can only assume there’s a break in the line somewhere. I quit about 5:00 PM.

Which means I missed my Brother Carl’s surprise birthday party in Sterling Heights (I only heard about this last Thursday – my invite got lost in the mail). Hopefully, since he has a “Push-matic” fuse box as well, he will understand. Happy Birthday, Bro!

I was too damn tired to try and make that Buffalo Chicken Salad, so I warmed up a can of Hormell Chili. And I ate that watching my normal Sunday night shows. Then I went to bed.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Saturday’s Story

I woke up at 8:00 AM on Saturday. I posted the Blog entry and then shaved and showered. I deliberately didn’t set the alarm, trusting that God would wake me up. He apparently was busy elsewhere as I had to hustle to make my 9:00 AM haircut appointment.

I left the barber shop, looking fly (is that still a phrase?) and headed to Kroger’s. I actually did a real grocery shopping! On the way home (in light, but steady snow) I decided to hose the salt and crap off the car.

Okay, so at 12 degrees F. with a strong west wind, that was a stupid call. The damn soap froze on the car the moment I sprayed it. But I rinsed it off and drove the car home to my garage (which has never frozen). I took a break and wiped off the water on the windows with a towel.

Then I hauled in the groceries and put them away. I realized at the last moment I didn’t buy any potatoes or green onions. Damn! That sucks!

Jake and Carla are supposed to come over this afternoon, so I spiffed up the bathrooms. I returned a call from my friend B___. He suggested (gently, and I appreciate that) that I ask Jake to look at the breaker situation. His theory is that with my old eyes, I can’t see into the dark box good enough to see what the problem is.

He was right...

Jake and Carla did show up. I explained I was going to make a “Hot and Spicy Buffalo Chicken Salad” but wanted to wait until they got here (in case they had just eaten lunch or something). They decided to play a game they brought (Rummi-cube or Rummy-cube) instead. I lost twice, big time!

Without me asking, Jake went out to check out the fuse box problem. He did get the breaker in and working! Everything else seems to be working, except for the plugs under the counter (the original problem). But, I’ll check that out tomorrow.

And, yes, Jake was right (I hate that) and there was a GFI plug in the kitchen.

They never did eat and after they left, I reset all the clocks (including the alarm) and then took a nice long nap.

Since I didn’t have anything to eat yet, I made a good dinner for myself. What I never knew, but saw it by happenstance, was you are supposed to “season” a non-stick pan before you use it. So, I took the grill pan Jake and Carla gave me and rubbed it with canola oil. Then I heated it up until it smoked.

I wiped off the oil and added a thawed rib steak from last year’s meat supply. I had seasoned it first with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.

While that cooked, I put one of the baked potatoes and a dish of frozen sweet corn in the microwave. When everything was done, I mounted the steak with two pats of butter, put butter and salt on the sweet corn and put butter and sour cream on the cut-up potato (no green onions, dammit!)

Delicious!

I ate that watching some TV and then went to bed around 10:30 PM.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday Follies

So, as I said, I did NOT reset my alarm in the bedroom (hey, I forgot). So, when it went off at midnight, I said, “WTF?” and shut it off. Big mistake!

I woke up at 7:45 AM and raced to get ready for work. I am normally there between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. As I was pulling into the driveway, my work phone rang. It was a co-worker checking to see if I was okay.

When I came in all the lights were on (I normally turn them on each day). My new boss and the Director of IT stopped me to see if everything was okay (as the Director said, “You’re always here when I come in so we were worried.”)

I explained what happened, but I felt like an ass.

The worst part was I’d planned on going to the out-patient clinic at 7:00 AM and getting my blood drawn for next Saturday’s doctor visit. So, instead, I went there at lunch. As always, there was a problem (I have crappy veins). So, after she dug a while in my left arm, she gave up and tried my right arm. She finally found one that worked and drew off six vials of blood.

Since I was on the extreme wrong side of town, I went to the Big Boy and ate their veal parmesan with a Caesar salad. It was a little pricey, but damn good!

When I left work at 5:00 PM, it was 14 degrees in Redford.

Back at home, I started to clean the house. I got as far as vacuuming and sweeping everything when I decided the rest could wait.

I warmed up one of the country-style spare ribs and another baked potato for dinner. Man, that’s a lot of meat!

I watched taped TV until 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 Surprising Expiration Dates

By Maya Kukes and Lisa Smith Keate, RealSimple.com

A handy keep-or-toss guide to 75 foods, beauty products, and household goods.

Food

Brown sugar
Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.

Chocolate (Hershey bar)
1 year from production date

Coffee, canned ground
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 month refrigerated

Coffee, gourmet
Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Ground: 1 week in sealed container

Coffee, instant
Unopened: Up to 2 years
Opened: Up to 1 month

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)
Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.
Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.

Dried pasta
12 months

Frozen dinners
Unopened: 12 to 18 months

Frozen vegetables
Unopened: 18 to 24 months
Opened: 1 month

Honey
Indefinite shelf life

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)
Unopened: 8 months from production date
Opened: 7 to 10 days

Ketchup
Unopened: 1 year (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Maple syrup, real or imitation
1 year

Maraschino cherries
Unopened: 3 to 4 years
Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

Marshmallows
Unopened: 40 weeks
Opened: 3 months

Mayonnaise
Unopened: Indefinitely
Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Mustard
2 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)
Unopened: 3 years
Opened: 3 months

Olive oil
2 years from manufacture date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Peanuts
Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

Peanut butter, natural
9 months
Peanut butter, processed (Jif)
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

Pickles
Unopened: 18 months
Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

Protein bars (PowerBars)
Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

Rice, white
2 years from date on box or date of purchase

Salad dressing, bottled
Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date
Opened: 9 months refrigerated

Soda, regular
Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

Steak sauce
33 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Tabasco
5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

Tea bags (Lipton)
Use within 2 years of opening the package

Tuna, canned
Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

Soy sauce, bottled
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 3 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Vinegar
42 months

Worcestershire sauce
Unopened: 5 to 10 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened: 2 years

Household Products

Air freshener, aerosol
2 years

Antifreeze, premixed
1 to 5 years

Antifreeze, concentrate
Indefinite

Batteries, alkaline
7 years

Batteries, lithium
10 years

Bleach
3 to 6 months

Dish detergent, liquid or powdered
1 year

Fire extinguisher, rechargeable
Service or replace every 6 years

Fire extinguisher, nonrechargeable
12 years

Laundry detergent, liquid or powdered
Unopened: 9 months to 1 year
Opened: 6 months

Metal polish (silver, copper, brass)
At least 3 years

Miracle Gro, liquid
Opened: 3 to 8 years

Miracle Gro, liquid, water-soluble
Indefinite

Motor oil
Unopened: 2 to 5 years
Opened: 3 months

Mr. Clean
2 years

Paint
Unopened: Up to 10 years
Opened: 2 to 5 years

Spray paint
2 to 3 years

Windex
2 years

Wood polish (Pledge)
2 years
photo

A cardinal under my bird feeder (click on picture to enlarge, then use your browser' back button to return)

Thursday's Trials

I did get some rest knowing, I suppose, that I didn’t “have” to wake up for work. I posted the Blog entry and then watched the morning news. It will be cold overnight (single digits) and for the next four days. But, it’s nowhere NEAR what my daughter Amy and her Carl’s will be facing (highs just in the single digits!) Believe it or not, they will be colder than my friend, Canada Cathy, will be in Alberta, Canada!

After the news was over, I went back to bed (why not?)

When I woke up, it was after noon, so I ate my brunch (is it “brunch” after noon – the question remains) of the leftover pierogies.

Then I went out to the garage and tried to swap out the old breaker with the new. First, I couldn’t get out the old breaker. So I used my channel locks and literally destroyed it. Then I couldn’t get the new one installed properly!

I worked on that sucker until the light started fading. So, I left it out and turned the main breaker back on.

Unfortunately, this meant no plugs working on the kitchen sink backsplash, no wash machine and the garage door opener was not working. I ran a 100 foot extension cable from the back room to the garage door opener so I could get to work on Friday.

Then I reset all the electric clocks. Unfortunately, I neglected to reset the alarm setting on my bedroom clock.

I ate leftovers for dinner and watched some TV before going to sleep.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A variation on this Blog...

... but one I think is well worth mentioning...

We are speaking of the "Darkhorse" 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan & they have lost 9 marines in 4 days.

God Bless America and God Bless the United States Marine Corps... Semper Fi, Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever

Lindsay Lohan, 24, gets her name and face all over the news because she went to jail. Now she's getting it all over again for failing her drug test.

But nothing in the media about these guys because no one seems to care!

Justin Allen, 23,
Brett Linley, 29,
Matthew Weikert, 29,
Justus Bartett, 27,
Dave Santos, 21,
Chase Stanley, 21,
Jesse Reed, 26,
Matthew Johnson, 21,
Zachary Fisher, 24,
Brandon King, 23,
Christopher Goeke, 23,
Sheldon Tate, 27

All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week!

Quote of the Day

"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt."

~ Herbert Hoover

(and yes, it was that long ago that this was a problem!)

Wednesday's Ribs

Wednesday dawned cold but clear. As I said, I have an important meeting today, and I swapped my day off to Thursday. So, I headed off to work.

I ate the rest of the broccoli and cheese soup for lunch.

I took my meeting and then headed home at 4:00 PM.

I parked outside the garage and, using a broom, swept all the standing water off the garage floor and onto the apron. As my brother George once told me, you can move a lot of water with a broom! Then I pulled the car in. I salted the area where the garage door comes down (I’ve had the rubber seal freeze to the floor before), shut the door and then went inside.

The cats, of course, were cranky. The opening of the garage door normally signals “cat treats” and they wondered what the heck took me so long.

I watched some of the news while I slowly warmed up the Dutch oven containing the spare ribs and sauerkraut. When it was warm, I brushed the sauerkraut off each rib and placed it on a rack, set in a half sheet pan covered in tinfoil (for easier cleanup). I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

I checked the root cellar in the garage and found I had no russet potatoes. All I had left was three large (well, large for the variety) Yukon Gold potatoes. I really, REALLY need to go grocery shopping! So, I grabbed them up and went back inside. I poked them on all sides with a fork and did the Carla trick of “pre-cooking” them in the microwave. The oven won’t be on long enough to bake them.

I didn’t have any of my favorite barbeque sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s) left, but I did have half a bottle of Bulls-eye (original recipe) sauce. So, I slathered the top and sides of the ribs with it and put them in the oven. I stuck in the potatoes as well.

When the sauce on the ribs had caramelized (about 10 minutes), I pulled them out, slathered them again in sauce and flipped them over. I slathered that side and the sides again and put them back in the oven.

Meanwhile, I was slowly reducing the water content of the sauerkraut.

When that side of the ribs had caramelized, I took them and the potatoes out. Now, why didn’t I just cook the potatoes in the microwave? Well, I have, but I like the crunchy potato skins that oven roasting gives.

I plated one rib, one potato and some of the drained sauerkraut. The outcome? The rib was excellent! The potato (with butter, salt and pepper and sour cream) was good, but I like some thin sliced green onion on my baked potato (unfortunately, I didn’t have any – lack of grocery shopping, again).

The sauerkraut was a big disappointment. I’m not sure if it was the added beer or the grease from the boiled ribs, but the sharp “bite” I like from sauerkraut was just not there. I think parboiling them this way did add to the flavor of the ribs, but took away from the sauerkraut.

Next time I do country ribs, I think I’ll parboil them in beef stock and beer and make the sauerkraut separately.

I watched the State of the State speech. You can tell the guy was a CEO, BTW. That “dashboard” concept was a hot button in manufacturing at least 10 years ago (when I worked there). We never implemented it where I work, but it did give upper management a quick snapshot of how things were going.

I was impressed by the new governor, Rick Snyder, and for the first time in eight years, feel that maybe (maybe) Michigan can dig itself out of the hole we are in.

I watched some taped TV and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tale

It was raining when I got up on Tuesday. But, as I feared, the garage apron, the driveway and even the street was icy. So, I drove to work carefully and walked in from the parking lot slowly but surely.

I went home at lunchtime and ate some of the broccoli and cheese soup I’d thawed. It was just raining and 38 degrees at that time. Before I went back to work, I shoveled the slush/snow in front of the mail box into the ditch.

It had stopped raining by the time I went home at 4:00 PM. I had a long, difficult day (seriously) and so decided to take the rest of the night off. I do have an important meeting tomorrow, so I will take Thursday off, instead. So, I did the Wednesday wash a day early.

I talked with my son, Jeremy, on his way home and thanked him for his help on an IT security question.

I was going to eat some of the thawed beef stew for dinner, but changed to a fried egg sandwich at the last minute.

I was beat, so I went to sleep at 9:00 PM (knowing I’d wake up WAY too early sometime in the night).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taking Care of Business...

It was cold and windy when I woke up Monday morning. Fortunately, it’s supposed to warm up throughout the day. Unfortunately, that will bring freezing rain late tonight.

At lunchtime, I went to Home Depot and took back the breakers I bought that were wrong and (hopefully) bought the right one. We’ll see...

The first thing I did when I got home from work was to assemble all the garbage and replace the kitty litter. I didn’t want to be carrying trash out to the road Tuesday morning, walking on ice. I took two bags out to the road and came inside for the night. I watched the news until 7:00 PM.

Over the weekend, I saw a recipe that interested me: Buffalo Chicken salad. So, I searched through both freezers, looking for chicken breasts. I didn’t see any, but was struck by just how much frozen food (both store-bought and homemade) I have. So, I decided to start eating some of it up. I took out a container of beef stew I’d made in November and one of broccoli-cheese soup I made in October to thaw.

I also took out a package of Mrs. T’s mini pierogies. I sautéed two medium-sized yellow onions (sliced) in a lot of butter while I boiled the pierogies in batches. Each batch went into the onion and butter mix when done, to both keep warm and to crisp a bit.

I plated a generous portion, topped with sour cream and went into watch some TV for the remainder of the night.

Monday, January 17, 2011

LMAO!

I just watched a piece on the nightly news, explaining several reasons for a low sperm count. The one that caught my eye was heated car seats!

I'm sorry but the "boys" (my physical therapist always used to call her boobs the "girls) will have to fend for themselves.

I ain't freezing my ass off for a few more kids!

I already have four of the best!

Slow Sunday (these are becoming a habit)

I woke up late on Sunday. I took a look at the thermometer and decided there was no real reason to go out today. I can go to Home Depot at lunchtime on Monday (when I do really have to go out), I have enough coffee to make one more pot and, other than milk, I don’t need anything.

So, I made that pot of coffee and sat on the couch for a bit. I’m not that motivated, I guess.

So, I spent the day doing some straightening, minor cleaning, minor eating, etc. interspersed with some television.

I did harvest the mushrooms and put them in a baggie in the fridge (they are supposed to keep 14 days. The “log” is currently drying out to repeat the process for the second harvest.

I also tried Amy's trick. I parboiled the last four ribs in leftover sauerkraut and half a can of beer. When it had cooled, I stuck the whole pot into the fridge so I can finish them on one of the weeknights.

I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to bed after watching the news (I missed it in the morning).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday’s Story

I didn’t sleep well Friday night, so I woke up late and hungry Saturday morning. I had taken out another package of that honey-baked ham to thaw on Friday so, after cutting off the too-sweet rind; I fried up some ham and eggs. Not bad!

We picked up a couple of inches of snow overnight, but still just the light and fluffy stuff.

After shaving and showering, I got dressed in my work clothes. Then, at about 11:30 AM, I went out to replace my breakers.

I turned off the main breaker and unscrewed the cover. I tested the wires with my electrical tester (I’m not that stupid, yet) and they were all dead. I went to pull out the offending breakers and that’s when I realized I’d bought the wrong replacements. Dammit!

So, I screwed the cover back on and turned on the main. Since I already had my coat and hat on, I went outside after adding my boots and refilled the bird feeder.
Then I went in and reset all the damn electric clocks (the one on the microwave, one on the coffee pot, one in the office and the one in my bedroom). Pain in the butt!

I decided to deal with Home Depot tomorrow as I was really ticked!

I putzed around (loading the dishwasher and turning it on, vacuuming, etc.) until I gave it up and retired to my bed and TV. (Hey, it’s the weekend, right?) I watched taped cooking shows until I got hungry. So, I made a simple supper of a toasted cheese sandwich and a cup of Campbell’s tomato soup.

I ate that on the bed, still watching TV. But, I fell asleep. I apparently turned or something and the dinner plate that was on the bed fell on the floor and broke!

It woke me up and ticked me off! Why? For two reasons: I bought these when my favorite store (Bombay) was going out of business. I got eight plates, saucers, cups and bowls for like, $39.00 (US), all of which were thick and old looking. My friend B___ suggested, at that price, I should buy another box and stick them in the attic, in case I ever broke something. I pooh-poohed that idea. But, I hate it when he is right!

The second reason I was pissed was that one of the plates already had a chip knocked out of it. But, that wasn’t the plate that broke!

There wasn’t much on TV, so I ended up watching Hockey night in Canada. It was the Calgary Flames versus the Toronto Maple Leaves. It was a boring game for the first two periods. But, then Calgary scored! Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs scored in like the last 17 seconds, so they went into overtime. Nothing changed, so they moved into the shootout. Calgary won, so I can’t mock my friend Canady Cathy.

Unfortunately, it was after 1:00 AM when the game ended here. I turned everything off and went to bed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

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Shitake mushrooms, ready for harvest
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Shitake mushrooms, under the plastic greenhouse
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Icicles, by the back door.
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Icicles, off the patio
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My fuse box
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Here's the Pushmatic breakers up close

Friday Follies

I woke up to light snow on Friday morning. It was fluffy so it didn’t really impact my drive into work.

At lunchtime, I went to Home Depot and bought two 15 amp circuit breakers ($85 US!) to replace the two suspect ones in my fuse box. I am fairly certain this is the problem with my electricity. My friend B___ had never heard of “Pushmatic” circuit breakers, BTW. But I have had several houses that had them, so I took some pictures of what that meant for him (see photos) I think it was a 1950’s thing...

Back home after work and starting the weekend, I found a package on my front porch. It was a gift and a sympathy card from Lu. I had told her about the death of a friend of mine at work. The card was lovely and the gift was 20 ounces of smoked sockeye salmon. I will have to figure out the best way to use this (as an appetizer on crackers?).

I called her cell phone and found it disconnected (apparently my brother, Jim is not the only one who has the wrong number). So, I called the house and told her thanks.

It was too dark to work on the fuse box (that will be tomorrow). I was beat, so dinner took a back seat to resting up. I finally just warmed up a can of Hormell chili.

I watched the movie “Dances with wolves” (the only Kevin Kostner movie I really liked) from 9:00 PM until midnight and then went to bed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Party Hearty!

Thursday was another cold-ass day here (11 degrees F. when I woke up).

Work was work. The only difference was that I stayed until 5:00 PM instead of leaving at 4:00. Why? Because my boss is leaving the company and they had a going away party for him at Snookers. Now, I don’t normally attend such things (as was pointed out at the party), but he had been very helpful and instructive over the years and I wanted to pay my respects.

I sat in their parking lot until I saw a familiar face and then walked in. People slowly trickled in until we had quite a little crowd going. The director of IT (my boss’ boss) came and immediately ordered various appetizers for us to snack on. I didn’t eat any, but they looked good.

I had one Labbatt’s Blue and left about 6:15 PM.

Back home, I saw I’d missed two calls: one from Lu and the other from B___. I called Lu back, but she was at a gym. It was very noisy, so we didn’t talk long.

Then I called B___. I don’t think I mentioned this, but the kitchen plugs on the tile backsplash and my garage lights quit working over the weekend. So, B___ is trying to help me diagnose the problem. After we hung up, I tried his latest suggestions, but nothing worked. It will be easier to troubleshoot the fuse box over the weekend when its light out, rather than attempting to do it with a flashlight in the dark.

I just ate a sandwich and watched some TV. I was asleep by 10:00 PM.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wednesday Wash

The snow was over when I woke up on Wednesday. To tell you the truth, I think it stopped around here about 7:30 PM Tuesday night.

I stripped the bed and started the wash machine. I’ve decided to do the washing on Wednesdays now instead of the weekend.

I put a big pot of water on the stove to boil and then boiled some of the cabbage leaves for a couple of minutes to soften them. I want to make cabbage rolls for dinner. I would like them to taste like my Mother’s, so I disregarded any recipes that called for, say, white wine and so forth. I finally found a crock pot one that sounded like it would work.

So, I mixed one cup of cooked rice (after I cooked it) with a beaten egg, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of minced onion and one pound of hamburger. I seasoned that with salt and pepper. Then I rolled a portion in each cabbage leaf. That was a bit of a problem as I had deliberately bought a small head of cabbage, so in some cases, I had to use two leaves. I put each roll into the slow cooker.

When I was done, I mixed together one (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce, one tablespoon of brown sugar, one tablespoon of lemon juice and one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. I poured that over the cabbage rolls and turned the slow cooker on low for about 8 hours.

I made up the bed while the next load of laundry was washing. When it had dried, I hung up my shirts and pants and folded the socks.

I walked out to get the mail about 5:00 PM. I’m guessing we didn’t get much more than three inches of new snow, here.

I finally ate my dinner. Hmmm... these cabbage rolls are not bad, but they don’t taste like Mom’s. Maybe it was the lemon juice?

I stayed up until 10:30 PM and then went to bed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowy Tuesday

I slept crappy on Monday night. I got about two hours of sleep and then lay awake from midnight until 5:30 AM. I tried every trick I could think of and nothing worked. I had serious doubts about making it through Tuesday’s workday!

But, with the help of a significant amount of coffee, I made it.

We are supposed to have our second major snowstorm of this winter today, with the heaviest accumulation between 4:00 PM and midnight. Well, it was already snowing lightly at 11:00 AM.

Then I did something incredibly stupid at lunchtime (not that I don’t do the occasional incredibly stupid thing – think motorcycles). Since I have not done a real grocery shopping in a while, I went to Meijer’s to pick up some staples. I was thinking, well, I may get snowed in and, even though I don’t have to go to work tomorrow, I’d still like to eat well...

Apparently everybody else in the world had the same thought! I had to park about mile away. You couldn’t get down the aisles and I was like the tenth person back in the checkout lane. I spent just $41.00 and had only 20 items, but it took me over 45 minutes to get out of there!

And, there was NOTHING I had to have!

I walked from the back to the front of the building where I work for a total of seven times throughout the day. So, my legs were killing me.

When I left work at 4:00 PM, it was snowing significantly with a wicked wind blowing and drifting the snow. It took over ten minutes just to scrape the windows and brush off all the snow… But, the car was nice and warm when I left to drive the five minutes home!

I treated the cats and then chilled for a bit. I probably had about 1 1/2 inches of new snow on top of the old snow so far. It’s supposed to be 2-4 inches of fresh snow today.

When it was time to eat, I warmed up two thick slices of the now-dwindling meatloaf, and made some wide egg noodles (one of the staples I picked up today). I put some ketchup on the meatloaf (I don’t, normally) and that balanced out the vinegar. So, it was a hearty winter supper, just right for the current weather! It appeared the snow had stopped about 7:30 PM.

I was beat so I deliberately shut off the TV and the lights and went to bed at 8:30 PM. I knew I wouldn’t sleep through the night, but I also knew I really needed some rest.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, and more meatloaf...

It was cold again here on Monday morning (it’s been consistently about 5 degrees F. lower than average for a while now).

I went home at lunchtime and made a meatloaf sandwich, but after work, I was kinda “meatloafed” out. So, for dinner, I just ate the other baked potato and steamed some frozen sweet corn to go with it.

I did clean the soaking food processor (never fun) and the half sheet tray and rack I baked the meatloaf on. I watched some TV but went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

Sunday was basically a repeat of Saturday. Only this time it was John Wayne movies (Commancheros, True Grit and El Dorado). I took another nap in the late afternoon.

Then I used my food processor to grind up a pound of the pork loin (the rest went back into the freezer). I mixed the ground pork with the hamburger and made a meatloaf (no recipe - just winging it).

I added the usual: diced onions and celery, crush saltines, thyme and garlic and an egg to bind it. I put it in the oven with two big Idaho baking potatoes. Then I made a glaze for it from ketchup, light brown sugar and some vinegar (a little too much vinegar, truth be told).

When it was done, I glazed it and let it sit under the broiler for 10 minutes. Then I ate my Sunday dinner. It wsn't until after I was done eating some meatloaf and one big potato (topped with just butter and sour cream - I didn't have any green onions) that I remembered I was going to steam some sweet corn to go with it. But I was too full by then to care.

I watched my normal Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:30 PM. It was a nice, relaxing weekend.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally Saturday.....

It was a long, unsettled night on Friday, so I didn’t wake up until 8:00 AM on Saturday. I put on a pot of coffee and filled in the Blog.

I took out a frozen pork loin and one pound of hamburger to thaw, I got a plan!

Then I went and tried to create a shopping list. It’s been so long, it was not easy. I had a cup of coffee and then went back to bed.

I woke up at 11:00 AM and hungry. So, I made an egg sandwich. But, instead of fried eggs, I made scrambled eggs and topped them with slices of American cheese. I put them on toasted sourdough bread slathered with mayonnaise. Yummo!

I basically putzed a lot and watched some TV now and then until 4:30 PM. Then I started watching the Bruce Lee film “Return of the Dragon.” When that was over, I warmed up some of the tuna and peas and plated it on top of toast (I threw those stupid Koloski noodles in the trash). Next I watched his son, Brandon Lee’s movie, “The Crow.” Then I went to bed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quote of the day

"Childhood is over the day you realize you're going to die."

~ from the movie "The Crow"

I realized that when I was 22 years old and in Intensive Care and have never, ever forgotten it.

Friday, and bring on the weekend!

It was snowing lightly on Friday morning. I think I used my wipers twice on the way to work.

It was snowing a lot more seriously at lunch time. But, they were big puffy flakes and the accumulation just wasn’t there.

I had decided days ago that today (payday) I would eat lunch out. It would be a real treat for me since, after doing that for like 18 years, I haven’t done that in quite a while.

So, I went across the street to Chin’s (a so-so Chinese restaurant) and ordered a luncheon special: Chicken subgum with fried rice, an egg roll with wonton soup and hot tea. The wonton soup was excellent. When my lunch came, I cut the egg roll in half and put Chinese mustard on one half and plum sauce on the other.

The Chinese mustard really (really) cleared out my nasal passages and allowed me to really taste the rest. I added a lot of soy sauce (since my Korean business trips back in the ‘90s, I really enjoy the taste of soy sauce) and ate the rest of my lunch. Like I said, it’s not GREAT food, but it was good and filling and it only cost me $6.10 US, not counting the tip.

The only disappointment was the fortune cookie. It said: “Smile often and see what happens.” Now, that’s not a prediction, just a suggestion. I was hoping for something like “You will marry a rich, but sickly widow with no dependents.” I could get behind that!

I spent a lot of time after lunch walking and climbing stairs (and my thighs and knees will attest to that). But, finally, I was homeward bound (listening to “Bang the Drum.)

After treating the cats, I retired to my bed and watched the evening news until 7:00 PM. My friend B___ called and we caught each other up on what’s been going on.

After we hung up, I started making dinner (my Mom’s tuna and peas). Unlike my brother Carl, I prefer them over wide egg noodles, rather than toast. So, I went out to the pantry shelves and found I only had the Polish kulski noodles (I use them in soups I plan to freeze as they are thicker). I told you before I really need to do a massive grocery shopping to restock my pantry!

So, I made them and added the tuna and peas. Not so good. I ate because I was hungry, but it was a bit gross, texture-wise.

I watched a movie until it ended at 10:00 PM and then went to bed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tired Thursday

It lightly snowed overnight and then off and on all day Thursday. But, I would be surprised if we picked up much more than 1/2 inch of snow.

I did a lot more walking out in the build area, so I was whipped by the time I got home at 4:15 PM.

Making dinner seemed too much work, so I just ate the rest of the cauliflower for dinner.

I fell asleep about 9:00 AM, watching TV. I woke up at 11:00, shut everything off and went back to bed.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

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The mushrooms that had already grown (somebody bring me some Japanese ingredients!)
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The diffused light situation
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The "log" in the tub
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The new layout of the downstairs room
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The mushroom "log," soaking overnight.

Wednesday

I woke up WAY too early on my day off (3:30 AM). Unfortunately, I started thinking about work. If I think of the old days, or my kids or whatever, I can fall back asleep. But, when I think of work, I get wound up and can’t. So, I didn’t.

This happens all the time with the damn sleep apnea, but at least I can take a nap today. I gave up at 5:00 AM and got out of bed. I posted the Blog and made a pot of coffee. I watched the morning news until 7:00 AM and then got busy on the Shitake mushroom garden.

I rearranged the back room to make room for my construction step. I covered the heat blocker Jake built years ago with a little rug (the garden is supposed to NOT be anywhere near direct heat). I topped my step with a sheet of tin foil, to reflect the diffused sunlight upwards instead of sucking it up with the deep blue of the step.

I got cleaned up and dressed and went out back to get two patio pavers (at the very rear of the yard). It was chilly out there! It also was snowing lightly.

I took the pavers in the house and ran hot water over them to try and get them up to room temperature. I let them sit for a couple of hours, and then I drained the bag with the mushroom “log”. I pulled off the three mushrooms that had grown since I got this and set the “log” on the pavers in the storage container. I put the container on the tinfoil covering the step stool (see photos). I rinsed out the bag and hung it up to dry (I’ll need it for the second and third harvest) and covered the “log” with the “hot-house” bag (a tent of plastic with holes in it).

That done, I went in to take a nice, long (three hours) nap. I told you I didn’t get much sleep last night!

My daughter Melissa called around 5:00 PM. We talked about the holidays and then she told me she was making chicken soup for the first time, at the request of her husband Dave. Her approach was a little unique, rather than traditional. I hope she lets me know how it turned out.

I had bought one of those “family” packs to country spare ribs the last time I was grocery shopping, so tonight I opened it. I put four big, meaty ribs in the freezer and made the other four for dinner. I did a simple seasoning of Lawry’s seasoned salt and some garlic powder and baked them in the oven for an hour. I flipped them over and baked them another hour, then I brushed them with barbeque sauce and let them caramelize for another 10 minutes. I warmed up some potatoes, carrots and onions from the corned beef and cabbage as my side.

The meat was way over-cooked. I think I had the oven temperature too high (400 degrees F.) Low and slow would have been better. I guess Melissa can laugh at me, now!

I watched TV until bedtime and then went to sleep.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Resting, gardening and eating...

It had snowed a little overnight, leaving a light dusting on the roads. There was no real accumulation, but they were a bit slick.

I went out at lunch to the Aco Hardware store and bought an opaque square storage tub for the Shitake mushroom garden (a birthday present from Lu and Sadie). I had originally thought I’d buy one of those cheap aluminum cooking trays, (Jake suggested two, one inside the other in case of leaks). But since the sunlight is so diffused where I’m going to put it, I thought it would benefit if the light could also come through the tray itself. The garden needs 4 – 6 hours of non-direct sunlight per day.

I ate the last of the wild mushroom agnolotti with truffled crème sauce, along with one fried eggplant for lunch. They both were excellent!

There were snow flurries on the way back to work, but still nothing sticking.

I spent most of the afternoon on the concrete floor out in the construction site with our Telecom guy, trying to get one phone working in the Maintenance office. The Maintenance guy’s boss has been complaining about the phone and computer outage, BTW. But, that didn’t work, so I arranged to have the wiring vendor come in Thursday morning and show us his plan.

While we were in the office, the Maintenance guy showed up and I apologized. He said, “Hey, no phone, no computer? I’m enjoying the hell out of this!”

Needless to say, my legs were screaming by the time I left at 4:00 PM (I’m back on my usual part-time hours). But, luckily, the first Food Network magazine from Amy was in the mail box. So, I fixed myself a drink, put my feet up on the couch (ahhh) and read it from cover to cover. Thanks again!

I called Lu to thank her for my Christmas presents (Jake had them delivered today). We had agreed NOT to get each other anything (I can’t afford it and I think neither can she) so it was just two suet cakes (for my birds) and a bag of homemade granola (for me). But all I got was the voice mail, so I left my thanks electronically.

I started watching the local news and finished up with the NBC Nightly News (my usual MO). Near the end of that, Lu called from a traffic jam on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I told her thanks for the gifts and she explained she never got my Brother Jim’s call. She reminded me she recently switched phones and, that while Coletta had her new number, Jim must have called her old one. Then I remembered a discussion we had New Year’s Day. They (Jim and Coletta) needed a new address book, so Jim used a software program to pull it from his Christmas card list. This could have been the problem.

After we hung up, I started on the Shitake mushroom garden. I was surprised! There were already two mushrooms growing and I hadn’t even soaked it yet. But I filled the bag up with water and closed it. That needs to soak for 8 – 10 hours.

Then I moved onto dinner. I cut off eight thin slices of the cold corned beef (if the meat is chilled and you have a sharp knife, you can cut some really thin slices). Then I began to build my Reuben sandwich.

I buttered one side of a hearty rye bread and put it buttered side down in a skillet. I topped that with two slices of Swiss cheese (it’s a wide loaf) and then two slices of corned beef.

Using paper towels, I squeezed out the extra moisture from some bagged sauerkraut. I topped the corned beef with that and then added some Russian dressing on top of that. I added another layer of corned beef and more Swiss cheese. Then I topped that with another slice of buttered rye bread, butter side out.

I set the burner to medium and grilled the sandwich until each side was golden brown. It's tricky flipping that bad boy over, BTW. I cut the sandwich in half, added some big olives to the plate and went in to watch some TV. The sandwich was excellent, but so big I could barely finish it.

I made myself go to bed at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday Moanin'

When I got home from work on Monday, I went into the bedroom to change clothes. The first thing I saw was a big hairball on the bed! So, I cussed out both cats (not knowing who was to blame), cleaned off the chunks, took off the bedspread (it hadn’t soaked through, thank God) and sprayed the stain. Then I threw it in the washer. Ticks me off that I just did this two days ago!

Since I had to wait for the wash and dryer cycle anyway, I washed the slow cooker I’d left soaking. Then I swept the kitchen floor (cat hair) and used the Wet-Jet to clean up some splashes that were in front of the stove. Next I switched out the kitty litter and took two bags of trash out to the road (the third one has lots of room, so I’ll wait and see what I can add Tuesday morning and then take that one out).

I was going to make a Rueben sandwich for dinner, but I noticed my cauliflower was starting to look a little sad. So, I cored that (no pictures!!!), broke it into flowerets and boiled them in salted water. I ate about half with butter and sea salt.

The bedspread was finally done, so I put it back on the bed and finally got to relax (which is all I wanted to do all day long). I went to sleep at 10:00 PM.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sunday after New Year’s

I woke up at 7:30 AM on January 2nd. With nowhere to go and nothing much to do, I luxuriated in lying in bed and reading my book. Finally, I got my butt out of bed and made French toast, using sourdough bread. I also brewed a pot of coffee and drank several cups of that (after finishing breakfast, which was excellent) on the couch, again with my book.

I noticed Sadie had called New Year’s morning, apparently when I was outside feeding birds. So, I returned her call and wished her a Happy New Year’s, too. While we talked it started to lightly snow.

Then I put my Sunday supper together. I got out my round slow cooker, sprayed it with canola oil (for easier cleanup) and then added two stalks of celery (cut into chunks – everything is chunky today), an onion, cut into quarters, two carrots (cut into big chunks) and three Yukon Gold potatoes (skin on and just quartered).

Then I topped them with a four pound chunk of corned beef. I scored the fat cap and, after rinsing, put that bad boy on top.

Sidebar: Did you know that corned beef shrinks by about 50% during cooking? So, for generous serving and leftovers, you want to use about one pound per person. And, I definitely want some Reuben sandwiches out of this!

I added one can of beer (it’s recommended to use a hearty stout beer but all I had was Labatt’s Blue), the spice packet that came in the corned beef and enough water to just cover the meat. I turned it on “low” and set the stove timer for eight hours.

Then I called Riese, whose birthday it was today. She said her birthday cake was going to be a globe, made out of cupcakes (her mother is an outstanding cake maker, BTW).

That done, I took down my inside and outside Christmas decorations. I stored them all safely in the attic and realized it was already 1:00 PM.

Then I used a pause in the furnace activity to change out the furnace filters. It’s time, but they still looked pretty clean to me.

I went out into the garage, opened the door and took down my outdoor Christmas wreath. Then I pumped up all the car tires (I couldn’t tell last night if it was the wind or a low tire that made the car try to swerve. It apparently was the wind.)

Then I pumped up the rear lawn tractor tire and rolled it (finally) into its winter spot. I turned off the air compressor and went into the house.

I called B___ to wish him a happy New Year.

I checked the DVD menu and found they must have had had a New Year’s Day marathon of the show “Two Fat Ladies” (one of my favorites) and I had 14 episodes taped. So, I started to watch them. I think I got two done before I fell asleep and had a nice nap. I woke up at 4:00 PM. I still had another hour or so until the next phase of the corned beef and cabbage, so I watched more taped TV.

At 5:30, the timer went off, so I went and checked the veggies. They were all fork tender, so I put the corned beef and everything else on a platter and then cut a head of cabbage in half (there’s only one of me, you see). I put the four wedges of half a cabbage into to the liquid in the slow cooker, turned it onto high and set the timer for another 30 minutes. I tented the platter with tin foil and stuck it in the microwave to keep warm. I wrapped the other half of cabbage in cling wrap and stuck it in the fridge.

Please note: No pictures of the cabbage were taken, in respect for some of my more sensitive cabbage-phobic viewers.

I gotta tell you, the food smells fantastic! I am starving!

When the buzzer went off, I took out the cabbage; cut the fat cap off the corned beef and then sliced the corned beef against the grain (Jake told me how to figure that one out). I plated a little of everything and topped the corned beef with a creamy horseradish sauce. It was all delicious!!!

I went in to watch my usual Sunday night shows. A while later, I put the cooled leftovers into the fridge. I watched my usual Sunday night shows and went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Quote of the Day #3

- Based on an old Italian saying regarding dressing a salad:

"You need a generous person to add the olive oil, a wise person to add the salt, a stingy person to add the vinegar and a patience person to toss it."

~ Nigella Lawson

Quote of the Day #2

"Life is like chocolate. You have to taste the bitter to appreciate the sweet."

~ paraphrased from Alton Brown

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes the fish devour the ants, and sometimes the ants devour the fish."

~ Vietnamese proverb

Happy New Year!

I woke up on New Year’s Day and ate breakfast (for a change). But I couldn’t make myself eat tuna fish. My father always said that, in Germany, if you ate fish the first thing on New Year’s Day it would bring you luck. They have a similar idea down South in the US, where they eat “Hoppin’ John” (a mixture of black-eyed peas, rice and ham hocks) for good luck New Year’s morning. But I went for soft boiled eggs. I think my good luck ran out several years ago…

It had rained overnight but was still 40 degrees F., so all the snow and ice is gone. Good riddance!

I had to leave for my Brother Jim’s house around three for the annual Brother’s party, so I couldn’t really get into any big projects. So, I stripped the bed and started a load of wash. I put my boots on and went out to fill the bird feeder. It wasn’t as warm as yesterday and very windy.

Back inside, I washed the pots and pans from last night’s dinner. Then I went to shave and shower after putting the bedding in the dryer.

I kept my robe on and read, eating two more Clementines and waited for the dryer to stop. When it did, I re-made the bed.

The drive to Jim’s went pretty fast (traffic was light and I was speeding). But, once I got out of the city (say around 14 Mile Road on I-94) the winds were buffeting the car. I arrived about 4:00 PM.

In addition to my Brother Jim and his wife, Coletta, my Brother Carl was there, along with my Brother Joe and his wife Kathy. My sister-in-law Jean (Pete's widow) didn’t make it as she wasn’t feeling well. We waited until almost 5:30 for Luanne and Larry (Jim tried to call her on her cell phone, but only got voicemail). They never showed or called, so finally we gave up and ate.

Dinner was delicious (as always) and consisted of:
- Pork tenderloin in mushroom gravy
- Anna potatoes (very similar to Hasslback potatoes)
- A vegetarian pasta dish (for Luanne)
- Peas with mushrooms
- Coleslaw
- Sweet corn
- And cucumbers in ranch dressing Coletta made

It was served with a good Rose wine. Dessert was ice cream parfaits and a huge tray of fantastic-looking cookies (Sadly, I couldn’t eat either, but they both looked great). With three people missing, there was a TON of leftovers!

Then we all moved to the living room and talked (just like I envisioned when we started the Brother’s party years ago). We talked about old stuff and new stuff, how our kids and grandkids were doing and so forth. They compared the camera's they brought (I didn't even think of it) and took many, many pictures. I hope I don't show up on somebody's Facebook page!

I left a little after 9:00 PM and got home just after 10:00. Driving was bad because of the wind (as I said, it was worse out where Jim lives as there’s not much on the expressway to stop the wind, and not so bad in the city where you are basically in a concrete ditch).

I was wound up from the driving so I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight.

I hope we all have a happy and healthy New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year’s Eve

After a very restless night, I finally fell asleep around 5:00 AM and slept until 8:00. I filled out my grocery list (not all I wanted, just what I need), wrote out this weekend’s ToDo list and filled in the Blog post.

I took down the bedroom drapes for the first time since I hung them. They are dark blue and now covered with Caley hair. I was afraid to wash them, but figured they’d either survive or I’d have to buy new ones. It was a pain to get the wooden rods loose (I ended up using my step-stool) but I got it done and put them in the wash.

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but occasionally the sprayer on my kitchen faucet sticks open. Now, I know this and just wait until it shuts off (there was a humorous incident the last time Lu was here where she sprayed herself, not knowing). But today, it stayed stuck! I took it apart and tried everything, but nothing worked. I guess I’ll have to buy another one. Right now, my only source of water in the kitchen sink is through the sprayer.

I’d put off going grocery shopping all week, thinking I would go today when I had the day off. So, I left about noon. That was a big mistake!

First off, it was raining by then. And Meijer’s was a madhouse! I’ve never seen so many people in that store as I did today. You couldn’t get down the aisle without waiting for someone to move and the checkout lines were way too long. It took me almost two hours to get out of there and I only spent $90.00 US. My only impulse buy was a box of Clementines. I’m not sure why, but nothing seems to say “Christmas” like the taste of Clementines.

Back home, I unpacked the groceries and decided to take a break. Since I plan on taking everything down Sunday, I spent a while reading on the couch with the Christmas tree and fireplace on.

I moved from the couch to the bed and took a nice, long nap.

I was awakened by a call from B___ who wanted to wish me a happy New Year. I wished him and his family the same and we hung up.

I turned my attention to that damn sprayer again. I had tapped it gently on the tile countertop (I didn’t want to break the tile) but that didn’t work. So, I took it off and beat the f*ck out of it on the wooden cutting board. I reassembled it and, to my surprise, it shut off! Note to self: Never use that again!

Then I turned my attention to dinner. Now, I had originally decided to make Swiss chard Mascarpone Ravioli, pan seared and drizzled with truffled crème (it sounded good). But I realized I had nowhere to clamp the pasta machine to anymore. My round table is too thick and, since I added the tile, so is my counter. So, when I was at Meijer’s, I picked up some Buitoini wild mushroom agnolotti (which is sort of a ravioli filled with portobello and crimini mushrooms and cheese).

While the water was heating up, I made the sauce. Over medium heat, I melted 1/3 cup of butter and two sprigs of fresh thyme. I heated that until it turned brown (Note: you can’t do this in a non-stick or cast iron pan as you can’t see it turning brown). When it was a medium brown (about five minutes), I took the pan off the heat. I added three tablespoons of white truffle oil (I bought that months ago and have never used it). I whisked it together and reserved two tablespoons.

I boiled the agnolotti for five minutes, drained them and added them to a skillet with the butter/truffle oil mix along with a teaspoon of olive oil. I seared them a minute or so on each side until they were golden.

Meanwhile, I added 1/3 cup of heavy cream to my sauce, some sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I whisked that until the mixture was emulsified.

I put half of the agnolotti on a plate and drizzled the sauce over them. Then I ate them. OMG! They were fantastic!!

I wanted to stay awake for the New Year, but fell asleep around 11:00 PM. But, I woke up at 1:00 AM and cracked open the Korbel Champagne anyway. I had two glasses and then went back to bed.