Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, and back working...

I woke up early again on Sunday, so I just read until 9:30 or so. Then I put on a pot of coffee and warmed up the other meat pie and a baked potato for my breakfast.


Once I’d broken my fast, I started to tape off the floor in the downstairs entryway. I stirred up the paint and began to cut in the room.

When I was done cutting in the corners (it’s a weird little room with a lot of odd angles, BTW), I went into the garage and got the sawhorses. I put those in the back yard on the grass and set the dryer platform on top of them. Then I painted all the edges of the plywood and 1x6’s.

Back inside, I filled up the paint tray and began rolling the room. When that was done, I went outside and rolled the dryer platform as well. I finished and had the brush and tray cleaned by 1:30 PM. The roller I just pitched.

Then, and only then, did I take my shower (I figured I’d wait in case of paint splatters).
Now fresh and clean, I tackled another project: sweeping and mopping the tiles in the front entry way (it had gotten walked on one too many times). After that, I took a break and read, waiting for the paint to dry.

When the paint was dry, I took in the platform and put away the sawhorses. Then I started to install the handrail. Things were going okay until one of the bracket screws stopped and I messed up the Phillips head. I went to back it out and then grabbed it. It was so hot; I burned the hell out of my thumb and forefinger on my left hand.

About that time, Carla’s Mother called. We chatted for a while. She seems to be doing okay and said her broken foot doesn’t bother her nearly as much as her back.

After we hung up, I went back to the handrail, but my heart wasn’t in it. I decided I needed to buy another screw. So, it’s semi-installed.

I started making what I thought was going to be a great supper: Stuffed shells. I made up the hamburger, garlic and ricotta cheese filling and had just drained the shells when B___ called. I set the shells on an oiled half-sheet pan (as the recipe directed) and we talked for a while. Apparently, it was too long of a while, because the shells were hard when I tried to stuff them. I put them in a casserole dish that had some pasta sauce on the bottom, added more pasta sauce to the top and some Parmesan cheese and baked them.

The stuffed shells were a complete flop. Crunchy! Thankfully, my side dish (oven roasted asparagus) was not.

I watched some Sunday night TV and went to bed at 11:00 PM

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday's Story

I guess I went to bed too early Friday night, as I woke up at 4:30 AM on Saturday. All my efforts to go back to sleep failed, so I put a pot of coffee on and read until it was light out.

Then I resumed the weekend washing. While the shirts were drying and the pants were washing, I made myself some breakfast: Bacon, eggs and toast.

(Messy, but yummo!)

I cleaned up the kitchen and then shaved and showered. I got dressed watching the morning news and then put together a box to mail to Dave and Melissa. In it I included a magazine Missy and I had talked about and some paperbacks.

The article in the magazine was about a drug dealer (and not a very nice person) but he talks about the most effective way to beat somebody up with a baseball bat (Melissa’s weapon of choice for intruders). Mine is of course, as you probably know already, a shotgun loaded with double-ought buckshot. It’s a lot less work and a lot more devastating.

Note to Melissa: While not going “Brogan” here (it apparently entails too many questions) I must admit I knew about the Doberman thing and the “running towards the guy with the gun” thing. I even knew about “running a guy over with your car” feeling (it was back when I was dating your Mom). But I never heard anything about using a baseball bat. LOL! Enjoy!!

Anyway, I thought of just mailing her the page, but I realized there was a very interesting article about Mohammed (sp) Ali that I thought Dave might be interested in. He and I shared a deep respect for Ali. Ignore Amy and her Mike Tyson infatuation. We who were there back in the day KNOW who the “Greatest!” is.

I also included three of the latest John Sandford novels I had bought. Why? Well, two reasons. I thought his Lucas Davenport novels had ended, and Melissa was the one who turned me onto them back in the day. But, recently I learned he is writing more of them (so to speak) with the hero, Virgil Flowers, who “works” for Lucas Davenport. So, I thought I’d return the favor and let her read the newest stuff (if she’s still interested).

So, I wrapped it up, addressed it and headed out, stopping at the Post office first.
It took a while standing in line, but I finally got the box mailed. It made me smile when the postal worker asked if I worked part-time wrapping packages. Because,
after mailing stuff here and there over the years, I do know what to do!

Running north on Beech-Daly to the Library, I stopped at a Scottish bakery at 5-mile and Beech Daly. Now, my physical therapist had told me (years ago) about a fantastic lamb pie they sold. I pulled in and asked about the lamb pie. The lady said, “So, you’d be wanting the beef pie?” (insert cute Scottish accent here) I said no, the lamb pie. She said they’d stopped making them years ago and the only thing they had with mutton was haggis. I asked to see a “haggis” and she brought one out. It’s a mutton and oatmeal thingie in a big ball. She said it was really rich and is served only as a side dish, so I bought two beef pies, instead.

Damn! I really wanted to taste the lamb pie!

She put them in a box and wrapped it with some string. When the last time you were in a bakery and they wrapped the box with string?

I hit the library and found that not only had my card expired (they apparently expire every year now) but that I owed $1.60 in past due fines! So, I paid my fine, renewed my card and got four books (three John Sandford and one Ernest Hemmingway), Then I headed out to Kroger’s.

Before I got there, I stopped at a Sunoco and filled up my tank for the next two weeks or so.

I got everything on the list at Kroger, except for the Dearborn-brand thick-sliced bacon. They don’t carry it, although they carry other Dearborn brand items. I was hoping to find another source for that bacon besides Westborn (it’s a bit pricy there). After paying my tab, I headed out the door.

I got home around 11:30 PM, treated the cats and then put away the groceries. I started to peruse my library books. Here’s my dilemma: My father would have said, “Hey we have sh*t to do on the ToDo list, so let’s get going!” My Mother, on the other hand, would have said, “Hey, I have new books to read!” I guess I am my Mother’s son, as I started to read a book...

It was about that time that I heard the back-pack blowers outside. I went out and talked with the guys. They said it wasn’t easy as a lot of the black walnuts were pressed into the ground (hey, I had to cut the grass, right?) but that they would get it done. The last time I looked out, one guy had abandoned his blower and was raking the nuts onto a tarp. The other guy was still trying to blow the damn things up and out of the lawn.

I went back to reading...

It was around 2:00 PM that I finally noticed I didn’t hear the blowers. Great, I thought – They are finished. But, when I walked outside, I saw the driveway (which was littered with nuts) was still littered and the side lawn hadn’t been touched. WTF?

Did I not explain I wanted the “entire” front lawn cleaned good enough? Did they just go to lunch and would be back (that didn’t happen, BTW). Did they do $65 worth of work and then called it quits? If so, why didn’t they ring the doorbell and ask me for more money? I would have paid it.

So, now I’m totally p*ssed. This is going to be an ugly phone call on Monday. Forget sociopathic, we are talking about psychotic, here!

I went back to reading...

My Brother Jim called about 5:30 PM. He said there was nothing much new to talk about (same here). He asked about Jake and Carla and I said they seemed to be doing fine.

He did floor me when he said that he was selling his accounting firm (the one he started and has had for like 30-40 years now). But, as much as I dislike it, things change, I suppose...

I went back to reading...

About 10:00 PM, I started to get hungry. So, I made some baked potatoes. I must say here that I’ve tried a LOT of different methods of baking a potato. When I was a lad, my Mother just stuck them in the oven. To eat them, you cut them in half and scooped out the potato. This left you with two of the crunchy skin cups. I would add in some butter, salt and pepper and eat them. The butter would run down your chin but they tasted perfect!

But, as time passed, I started experimenting. I’d poke holes in them with a fork (so they didn’t explode in the oven – it happens) and then cover them with shortening, or butter, or oil, etc., before baking them. I’ve even covered them with foil and threw them on the hot coals of a grille (easy to screw up and burn, but excellent when done right). You will notice I haven't mentioned microwaving them (I've done that, too, but that's not "baking" a potato, that's just warming them up).

The best baked potatoes I think I ever had (other than my Mom’s, of course) were in an obscure restaurant in a strip mall in Auburn Hills. I’ll have to ask James at work what the name was, as one day we were talking about baked potatoes and he knew exactly the place!

They were huge (think Mr. Potato Head-size), covered with pine rosin (sp) and you could get them topped with anything you wanted. Even chili, although I only tried them with butter, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, sliced green onions and bacon crumbles. They were more than enough by themselves for lunch and the skin was fantastic.

But, I digress (when I want to digest). These potatoes were not huge, just your normal sized russet potatoes. I poked them with a fork, rubbed them with Canola oil and seasoned them with Kosher salt. I had arranged the oven racks with one in the middle and the other under it. I stuck a half sheet pan on the bottom rack (to catch any drips) and put the potatoes on the middle one in the preheated 350 degree oven. After 30 minutes (it takes an hour for baked potatoes) I stuck in the two beef pies. 30 minutes more, I plated dinner.

I split one of the potatoes, added butter and sour cream and topped it with some fresh cut chives.

The pie was good and sort of reminded me of the Michigan pastie. But, it was made in puff pastry, not the pie dough like a pastie.

I stuck everything else in the fridge after it cooled and then went back to reading...

Birthday Shoutout!

Happy birthday Amy! You're not getting older, just getting better!!

(well, you are getting older but, hey, who cares...)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Random (if somewhat disassociated and disturbing) thoughts...

Now, I blame this on my daughter Melissa who, as you will read in tonight’s Blog entry, I sent an article from a drug dealer. The topic was using a baseball bat as an offense/defense weapon and contained stuff I didn’t know.

(Come to think of it, I blame a lot on my daughter Melissa, LOL!)

What scared me (but just a little) was how much other stuff he mentioned that I did know (for example, how to deal with an attack dog or running “towards” a guy with a gun, rather than “away”). Hey, I knew that!

The one thing he didn’t mention that I also know is that, in knife fighting, you have to steel yourself to be stabbed. This sounds silly, but many a person who would be confronted smugly with a gun is reduced to Jello by the sight of a knife. In a knife fight (at least the way I was taught) you end up taking a number of hits on your blocking left arm and have to ignore them. Most people can’t do that.

Which leads me to my random thought...

As I may have (or maybe not) mentioned I took every available Psyche course in college. As a result, I determined back in the day that I was a genius with marginally sociopathic tendencies. Now, the genius I can explain (I saw the results of an IQ test administered when I was 15 year old – 162 points). I should have joined MENSA.

The "marginally sociopathic" troubles me (to this day). It's like saying you're "marginally pregnant" or "marginally dead."

The “marginally sociopathic” diagnosis came after years of self analysis. Basically, it means that when I am well behaved, it is either an act of will or because it suits me. Morals have very little to do with it.

Seems sad somehow...

Freezing Friday

It was exactly 32 degrees F. when I woke up Friday morning. I probably should have worn my winter coat to work, but I rebelled at the idea of putting it on when it isn’t even November yet.

I had to go to Westborn at lunch for a few items: more Honeycrisp apples, some cheese (Pinconning and sharp cheddar) some Yukon Gold potatoes and a bunch of green onions. Since I was there anyway, I also bought some of their hot soup of the day. I chose clam chowder.

I ate the soup at home for my lunch. My homemade clam chowder tastes better, but they had bigger clams. Damn good soup!

It did reach a high of 51 degrees F., but never did feel “warm.”

Back home from work, I started the weekend wash while watching the news. I also ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher. Once the bed was remade with clean sheets, I made my supper.

This time I took the veggies left from the pot roast and put them in a saucepan. I dumped the remaining beef and au jus sauce (from the French Dip sandwiches) on top of them and slowly warmed them up on the stove. I put the mixture in a bowl (it reminded me of beef stew, actually) and ate it watching TV. Hmmm... not bad! And, not a bad way of getting rid of leftovers!!

Speaking of leftovers, I froze the last three remaining meatballs. I’ll add them to fresh pasta and sauce some other day.

I put away the dishes when they were cool enough to touch and then went to bed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, getting it done...

It was 46 degrees with a north wind when I woke up on Thursday. They are predicting more rain and a high today of just 46 degrees! But, it’s snowing in Colorado and Wyoming and supposed to snow in the northeast this weekend, so I’m trying to count my blessings.

I had some errands to run at lunch. One was to drop off a check at Jonboy Landscaping. I’m going to try an experiment and have them attempt to blow off the black walnuts with those backpack blowers. I checked into renting one, BTW. The closest place that rents them is in Garden city and its $61.00 per day. Jonboy is going to charge me $65. So, we’ll see if this works.

I also dropped off a $60 check at the Township Office for a large item pickup. I need to get rid of that trundle bed frame and it’s too big to fit in or on my car.

The cats were pleased to see me at lunchtime (or was it the treats?) I ate a bowl of soup (it felt like a “soup” kinda day). The sun did finally make an appearance in the afternoon, but it didn’t warm up at all.

Back home after work, I took an apple that was going bad outside for the squirrels. I checked the gauge and this week’s three-day rain only produced a little more than 1/2 inch of rain.

One of the cats had barfed on the bed, so I started a load of laundry. Then, in mini-chore mode, I did a bunch of little stuff instead of a big project.

I talked with Jeremy who called around 7:30 PM on his way home. We talked about this and that and I did wish him a “Happy Birthday” before we hung up.

I warmed up more spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It still tasted good and I still ate too much.

I tried calling my Brother Jim, but just got his voicemail. I was still a little tired (this cold took the stuffing out of me) so I went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can anybody say "windchill"?

It was another crazy day at work. I ended up running to both Office Depot (near my house) and Office Max (in Westland). I stopped and got some lunch at the Newburgh Grille (a bowl of soup and I needed it!) It was cold and windy with occasional showers. Brrr!

When I got home after work, I apologized to the cats and gave them their treats.

I checked out the computer for email and watched a bit of the news. Believe it or not, I fell asleep! It’s been a rough couple of days and nights.

I woke up around 8:30 PM and started making supper. I cut the cold roast in as thin of slices as I could and then sprinkled them with Montreal Steak Seasoning. I left them out to warm up.

I sautéed a fine-diced shallot in some butter. When the shallot was translucent, I stirred in some flour. Then I slowly added two cans of beef stock, whisking all the while. Once it came up to a boil, I turned it down to simmer and added in the beef. I loaded up the mini-sub buns with some beef (I made two) and poured some of the au jus into a ramekin. I dipped and munched my French dip sandwiches watching TV.

Because of my unexpected nap, I stayed up until about midnight and then went to bed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is part of a piece titled "My Manifesto (a work in progess)"

"I will respond to every opportunity to add to the dignity and respect of the elderly. I will never forget that I was the child they entrusted the world to. That they have traveled the road of life that I see before me. That they go before me into an unknown that I cannot yet comprehend. That they have always wished and still wish only the best for me. I will always keep in mind that I owe a great debt to them. That I have little time to repay it and that time is running out."

~ David from Poetry Elite

This really reminds me of the debt I owe and the debt I constantly try to repay to my parents...

Wednesday

It was raining yet again when I took the garbage out to the road and then left for work on Tuesday morning.

I didn't get a chance to go home at lunch. They had an urgent need for an all-in-one card reader (even though I'd ordered them three on Monday) so I drove to Best Buy to get it. Nope! They are not an in-store item.

So, I went to the Canton Computer store and got two. I dropped them off and then went to grab a quick lunch at Ten Yen, a Chinese restaurant on Wayne Road that Jake & Carla turned me onto years ago.

Back home after work, I treated the cats (who seemed put out that I hadn't been home for lunch and they missed their morning treats). Then I changed clothes. It had stopped raining so my plan was to finish cutting the side lawn.

But Fate (in the form of a phone call from my daughter Melissa) intervened.

We talked about a lot of things such as her birthday, her birthday "camping" (is it still "camping" if you rent a house?) trip over the weekend, her kids, her grandson, etc., etc., etc.

By the time we hung up it was dark, it was too late to call my Brother Jim (I told him it would be at a "decent" hour) and I was starving!

I warmed up some spaghetti and a meatball (adding in a slug of store-bought pasta sauce) and ate that on the couch. It tasted great, so I went to bed a contented (if somewhat burpy) man.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday and mid-night moanin'

It had rained during the night and was still drizzling occasionally when the alarm went off.

I took that new electric space heater into work on Monday morning. I got it unpacked, set it up in a discrete location and turned on before anyone else came into work. Having heat for a change felt nice!

Of course, they came in the afternoon and fixed the rooftop unit (wouldn’t you know it!) But that heater worked great all morning and I was pleased with my purchase. I packed it up at 5:00 PM and took it home.

It was sunny, but very windy after work. So, I took a chance and cut the front lawn with the push mower. I got all of the front and most of the side done before darkness started closing in.

I put everything away and then started supper. This was originally meant to be done on Sunday, but if you remember, everything got bumped a day. I also have enough leftovers that, if I could, I’d just make it later. But we are dealing with live mussels here and I can’t wait too long!

So, I rinsed the pound of mussels under cold running water and removed the “beards” (strings that hang from the shells). I used a paring knife, BTW. I’m not that good doing it with my fingers, although some people can.

Then I put 1/2 cup of dry white wine, one shallot and one clove of garlic (both finely chopped)in a large saucepan. I seasoned it with some salt and let it simmer on medium heat for five minutes. Then I put in all the mussels that were closed, or closed when I tapped them. Don’t screw around here! If they stay open, they are dead and could make you sick. I threw away two.

I covered them and raised the heat to high. I steamed them until all the mussels were opened (another four or five minutes). I did my final inspection and any one that didn’t open got pitched, as well. I threw away one.

I stirred in some fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley, some thyme leaves I stripped off their stems (any mixed herbs will do) and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter (cut into pieces). I removed the saucepan from the heat and got out four bowls. I distributed the mussels between the four bowls and covered each with broth.

I sliced off a big hunk of that Italian Rustic bread I buy from Westborn and proceeded to eat my supper, sopping up the excess broth with the bread.

It may sound “piggy” but there isn’t that much meat in a mussel and the dish is supposed to be an appetizer. So, I admit, I ate them all!

I watched TV until 11:00 PM and then went to sleep. That should have been the end of this post (and I wish it was!) But I woke up around 1:00 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep. I read the AARP magazine that came in the mail from cover to cover and then decided to check my caller ID. Sure enough, I’d had a call from my Brother Jim. So, I pressed the “talk” button to call in and retrieve my message.

Have I mentioned that I am still trying to get used to these new phones? It still takes me forever to hang up after a call for example. So, as I was dialing in, I heard a phone ringing on the other end. I realized (too late) that I had pressed “Talk” when Jim’s number was still displayed and was calling his house at 2:19 AM! Sh*t! I’ll be embarrassed when he checks his caller ID in the morning!!

Is this the end of the post? No, I apparently hadn’t been shamed enough just yet. Because a little while later, my phone rang. It was Jim, asking what was wrong. I explained the phone mix up; he laughed and then said, “Why would you check your caller ID at 2:00 AM?” So, I explained the insomnia thing and promised to call him back at a decent hour on Tuesday (he said there was nothing really new, he was just checking in).

Then, I went back to bed, red-faced and finally fell asleep and this post was finished...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Song Snippet

"My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over, it won't be long and he won't be around
I love my father, he could use some mercy now

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it but we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance, dangle 'tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

~ Mary Gauthier
from her song, Mercy Now

Quote of the Day

"Some people are clingy and some people like to be by themselves. It doesn't make either one wrong, just different."

~ Alexis Stewart (Martha Stewart's daughter)

Sunday

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday. I threw on a robe and put on a pot of coffee. I read my book until the first news came on. Then I watched that, instead. When Joel Osteen came on (he’s a young Texas preacher) I turned the sound up and started to fill in the Blog. I like his rap, although I am decidedly NOT that interested in bible-based churches.

I got some of the Blog post written, but when I went out to get another cup of coffee, last night’s mess was staring me in the face. So, after finishing and posting the Blog entry, I got started on a major cleanup. Everything that could go in the dishwasher did (after I rinsed and scraped it). And, I was left with just the items I need to hand wash (not that insignificant of a pile, lol!)and a messy counter top and cutting board.

About that time, Jake called. He asked me to download a program that would allow him access to my computer, so I did. Mostly he concentrated on my problems (slowness, blue-screen-of-death, etc.). I went back to work in the kitchen while he worked on my computer. I did catch something he muttered under his breath about how he gives people great computers and then they mess them up. I am not laughing as I now know it’s true (Sorry, Dude!)

So, I hand-washed three non-stick skillets (my small one that I used for the grilled cheese sandwich, my 10-inch one I made the sauce in and my 12-inch one I browned the meatballs in and then stuck in the oven). Then I washed the pasta pot and my knives. I let them all air-dry all over the kitchen and got onto peeling veggies for tonight’s supper: A pot roast, made in the oval crock pot.

Peeling got stopped here and there as I fielded many, many calls from the Jakester, asking me to restart the computer and so on. But, by the time he was finished and I verified that the speed upon loading or opening a program had increased, I was done with the veggie stuff. I moved on to the counter top and cutting board.

Now the computer is loading faster, with no occasional blue screen when I click on the Internet. Then he attacked the problem about loading photos to the Blog (I felt bad as I’d taken up a couple of hours of his Sunday already). I went back to the crock pot.

I put in a layer of peeled carrots, cut on the biase and two small peeled whole onions. Next came a layer of my remaining parsnips (I know they won’t have much flavor, but they are getting old) and then a layer of peeled and chunked russet potatoes. I seasoned the roast with salt, pepper, rosemary leaves and some thyme on both sides. I set that in and then topped it with onion rings and a few remaining mushrooms (my usual M.O.) I added about 1/2 cup of water, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a teaspoon of beef bullion granules. Since it was almost 11:00 AM, I turned it on high (I usually go for low-and-slow, but that’s at 8:00 AM).

Jake called again and told me how to post my pictures now (Google shut down the links we used to use, he said). I tried one and dammed if it didn’t work! I thanked him for all his help, told him to say “Hi” to Carla and we finally hung up for good.

So, now that I didn’t have to worry about the phone ringing, I shaved and showered. Then I got dressed and went to CVS to pick up a prescription, another box of tissues and a get-well card for Carla’s mother.

It was sunny, with a light breeze outside: A perfect Fall day!!

Back home, I went outside and refilled the bird feeder. I noticed the devastation the recent high winds wreaked on my raised bed garden, so I went back inside and fetched my camera. The winds had broken off a Brussels sprout plant and ripped all the peas off the trellis. I took two photos and then yanked the Brussels sprout plants out of the garden (they never did sprout). I took them out back to the compost heap and gave them a proper burial. I put the pea sprouts back on the trellis, but there isn’t much going on there, either. We’ll see…

It really was nice outside. I know I have a lot to do inside, but I put it off for just a bit and carried some of the outdoor statues up to the patio. I can’t bring them inside just yet, as the shelf they go on for the winter needs to be cleared off of tools, etc. It's a domino effect, you see...

Back inside, reluctantly, I started the last load in the washer: my clothes for work. I still had normal “chores” to do, so I don’t think I’ll be getting to any of the extra items on my ToDo list. It’s a pity, really, as I am so uninspired after working all day during the week.

While the clothes were washing and then drying, I ran the vacuum and sweeper, cleaned both toilets and the main bathroom sink. Then I hung up five shirts and five pairs of pants, folded my socks (or is it sox? I can never remember) and the weekend laundry was done.

I decided to eat supper around 7:30 PM. NONE of my normal Sunday evening shows were coming on, but there was a Masterpiece Mystery Movie being shown on the PBS station.

I left the pot roast on “high” too long and the bottom layer was a bit charred. There also was no broth left to make gravy with. Damn! I told you I never use that “high” setting! But I served up the veggies and topped them with butter. I made some horseradish and mayonnaise sauce (I like one part horseradish to three parts mayonnaise, myself) and served that with the beef.

Even the charred parts tasted good!

I watched my movie after making sure everything was buttoned down for the night. I went to bed when it ended at 11:00 PM.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Random Thought...

I was introduced to somebody at work last week and he said, "I've heard a lot about you."

I replied, "If your didn't see it with your own eyes, it probably was just a lie!"

He looked nonplussed, but I felt good about our exchange.

Quote of the Day

" I'm a fighter, I believe in the eye-for-an-eye business... You kill my dog, you better hide your cat,"

~ Muhammad Ali

Something is eating my tomatoes!

A sunny Saturday (for a change)

Well, the weather finally took a turn for the better. It’s supposed to be in the mid-fifties and sunny, with just a light breeze. I am hoping this will dry out the leaves so I can mulch them on Sunday.

I did check the rain gauge and found that this last three-day storm had dropping just over two inches of rain at my place.

My cold is still lingering, but my shoulder and neck feel much better.

So, I showered and shaved, got dressed and headed out on my Saturday morning errands. First I got my hair cut and then filled up my car’s gas tank. On the way back home, I stopped at Kroger’s and picked up a few items I needed. Then I hit Westborn for two lemons, some mini-sub buns and a can of beef broth. Finally, I went to Home Depot and bought an inexpensive electric heater.

I need the heater for work, for a while. It’s usually 62 degrees when I come in and, if the sun is out and we’re lucky, it gets up to 70 degrees by the time we leave. So, I finally put in a Maintenance Request to check out the system (the roof top unit only feeds our room, you see, so nobody else was complaining). It turns out that the “inductor motor” (?) was burned out in the roof-top unit. So, they ordered a new one.

I bought the electric heater for Michelle and I to bridge the gap between now and when the furnace gets repaired. After that, I’ll use it back home in the office when Lu and Sadie are here. They always close the door (to keep the cats and my snoring out) and then mention how cold it gets overnight. So, this will help.

I came home just after 11:00 AM and thought I’d take a break. So I laid on the bed and read for a bit. Instead of popping up, alert and refreshed, I fell asleep.

B___’s call woke me up at 2:30! He apologized after asking me what I was doing and I said taking a nap. I told him not to worry as I had a long list of things to do this weekend and taking a 3-hour nap wasn’t one of them.

Once we had hung up, I got started on projects. First on the list was to fix the bed frame. It is bowing out at the foot and I have caught me leg on it more than once. I’d like to think it’s from all the wild sex (boy, I’d like to think that) but I think it’s just age.

So, I got the mattress and box springs off and checked it out. I tried beating on it with a hand sledge, but that didn’t work. So, I finally got the come-along (I used to have a real good one that I bought when I owned the VW Thing, but that disappeared in the move from St. Clair to here). This one is a cheap Chinese-made on I got at Harbor Freight. But, after some messing around, it did the job! I put everything back together and remade the bed.

Then I went back to working on the computer. I discovered that the anti-virus software I’d downloaded from my ISP was not allowing the email through. I tried to “create a rule” to let the mail in, but couldn’t figure it out (the program gives you no help, BTW). So, since the results of its scan were the same as my Symantec anti-virus program (no viruses) I uninstalled it. Hurray! I get mail again!

By now it was getting late so I started making my supper (the one I was supposed to make Friday night). I made a Tyler Florence recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. I won’t bore you with the recipe (you could look it up on the Food Network website if your interested). But, I will tell you the results:

1. The “Pomodoro” sauce recipe did not make enough sauce.
2. Putting the spaghetti on a platter, adding the sauce and then the meatballs (finished in the oven with half the sauce and torn up mozzarella) was a total mistake. I’m not sure what size “platter” he has, but mine were too small. I ended up making a mess and then putting everything in a large bowl.
3. The meatballs were too big (think about it: 3 pounds of ground meat, with other ingredients, including two slices of milk-soaked bread, divided into just ten meatballs?) They were each as big as a baseball!
4. The meatballs were under-seasoned. Now, I could probably fool some of you and say there is no way to taste-test raw meat. But any foodie worth his or her salt knows you are supposed to take a small bit of the mixture (whether its meatballs, meatloaf or any other recipe that uses ground meat), form it into a patty and then fry it. When it’s done, you taste it and adjust your seasoning accordingly. But, I hadn’t eaten all day and, in my haste, forgot that step.

So, the next time I make this recipe (and I will, it did taste good) I will:

1. Double the amount of sauce I make.
2. Forget the platter idea and use a bowl first off.
3. Check the seasoning of the meatballs.
4. Use my biggest ice cream scoop and make smaller meatballs (I can always freeze any I don’t use.

I ignored the mess in the kitchen and ate my supper watching some TV (adding a little table salt to each bite of meatball). Then I ignored the mess in the kitchen and went to bed, knowing full well I’ll pay for all this “ignoring” in the morning.

Belated Birthday Shout Out

Happy Birthday to my daughter Melissa!

Yes, I know it's belated, but I considered this:

1. According to her, she rarely reads this Blog
2. Also according to her (unless plans changed) the whole Montgomery clan is camping this weekend to celebrate her birthday

I'd tell you how old she is but then she'd get all Brogan on me!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finally Friday...

...and this has nothing to do with alliteration (though I do love alliteration). I just really need a rest!

I woke up with a stiff neck and a sore left shoulder (I can’t catch a break). I must have slept wrong. The morning shower helped a lot, but it was back and throbbing in the afternoon. I couldn’t turn my head without moving my entire upper body!

The weather was cold and windy again, but no real rain for a change. I had some more chicken noodle soup for lunch. I’m putting a lot of faith in folk remedies (for a change).

I was an aching hot mess when I got home from work. So, I dug out the heating pad. It felt so good I used it for the rest of the evening.

Needless to say, the dinner I’d planned to make had to be rescheduled. Instead I went for comfort food: Campbell’s tomato soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and a McClure dill pickle.

I reluctantly turned off the heating pad and went to sleep at 11:00 PM.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday's Tale

Weather on Thursday was just more of the same. My cold update was ditto.

I had to stop at Westborn at lunchtime to pick up some fresh herbs for this weekend. They have a small salad/soup bar, so I got a big container of chicken noodle soup for my lunch. I’m not sure if it helped with my cold, but it sure tasted good!

Back at home, all my plans for chores went away. I watched the news and then started working on my computer (it has slowness issues). I gave up (making some small progress, though) at 8:00 PM.

I heated up the last of the chicken cordon bleu and the potatoes au gratin for dinner and watched TV for a while. Then I switched to reading until bedtime.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wet Wednesday

More of the same…

Let’s recap: It was raining and cold Wednesday. My cold symptoms worsened (now my face hurts, either from sinuses or all that sneezing and nose-blowing). In short, I felt like crap all day.

So much so that I decided I didn’t even want to warm up leftovers for dinner. So, I called around 4:55 PM and ordered one of those take-out pizza specials (one large pizza with three topping for $7.99 US – carry out only). I, of course, ordered pepperoni, mushrooms and mild yellow pepper rings.

When I got home, I just took off my clothes (rather than changed them) and climbed into bed with a large water and a box of pizza.

I got a note from Riese along with her school picture. She was worried that the picture was too big for the frame I keep them in, but both the picture size and subject were perfect. Thanks!

I did try and call Carla’s mother to see how her recovery is going, but just got her voice mail. I left a message, but then it dawned on me she might be at somebody else’s house while she recuperates. I dunno...

Other than bathroom breaks, water refills and so on, I basically stayed there the rest of the evening. I dozed off and on but finally shut off the TV and went to bed at 12:30 AM. I’m not sure I felt any better, but I did get some heavy rest!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yes, I do have a cold...

...Dammit!

It was cold and windy on Tuesday morning (what else?)

Instead of going home for lunch, I went up to the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi to buy next year’s Franklin Planner pages (always the optimist – that’s me!)

It was just starting to sprinkle as I made my way home after work. It’s supposed to rain until Friday with a possible accumulation of 2-3 inches! It looks like mulching up the leaves anytime this week will not be happening.

I putzed around after getting home. I did have a project to accomplish, but I didn’t feel like it. Spending all day blowing my nose seemed to have taken the starch out of me. Thankfully, Jake called so I could delay it a bit.

We caught each other up on work and stuff (mainly work). He said the temps there had been in the mid-eighties, but they are supposed to have a cold snap where the temps will only get into the 60’s. I offered to buy and send him some long johns so he can survive.

When we hung up, I kicked it into gear and washed the little downstairs entry-hallway. I figured it would be just getting off the fingerprints and pencil marks from my calculations on where to put the handrail. I was shocked (literally) at the amount of dirt that came off both the walls and the ceiling (and the “room” is less than four feet square). I had to change out the water five times!

My theory was the closeness of the entryway to the stove. But that’s just a guess.

I warmed up another one of the chicken cordon bleu rolls and more potatoes au gratin for dinner. It was still delicious. I watched a little TV and then went to bed at 11:30 PM.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday

It was cold and windy Monday morning and seemed to just get worse throughout the day. I wonder how I’m going to cope with Winter when it actually arrives!

I went home for lunch and made myself a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Excellent!

I was back home and back inside by 5:20 PM. I treated the cats, changed clothes and then kicked the thermostat up two degrees. I felt chilled and that, along with the sneezing and stuffy nose, was making me worried I’d caught a cold. I sure hope not.

When the news ended, I resumed the vacuuming I started over the weekend. I had every inch of the floors in the whole house either vacuumed or swept by the time I quit.

Then I got the garbage together for pickup on Tuesday morning.

I warmed up the pasta dish I’d made on Saturday and made a small salad to go with it. The salad was good, but the pasta didn’t taste any better than it did when I first tried it. I think the little bit that remains will take that final trip out to the road tomorrow.

I watched TV, snuggled under the covers. I dozed off here and there, but didn’t actually go to bed until midnight.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slaving away in the kitchen on Sunday

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday, but I read in bed until about 7:30. Then I started a pot of coffee and breakfast. It was not as windy, but it was raining off and on.

I made waffles along with the now-thawed bacon. It was great! And, I have left over bacon for BLT’s this coming week and left over waffles I think I could warm up and eat another time.

I took out that vegetarian “pantry” chili from the freezer to thaw, as well as a pound of frozen ground chuck. I got a plan!

After I shaved and showered, I ran out to a nearby hardware store for some cheap drill bits (on sale). I’ve already got two or three sets, but all of them are missing the drill bit I need for the handrail install.

I realized that I forgot to mention I made some garlic toast to go with Saturday’s dinner. I had cut three slices off a baguette, drizzled them with olive oil and toasted them in the toaster oven. When they were ready, I rubbed each one with a garlic clove.

Now, anybody who’s bought a fresh baguette soon realizes that, without preservatives, they only last a day or two at best. So, today, I cut the remainder of the loaf into one-inch slices and cut off the crusts. The crusts did not go to waste; they went outside for the birds or squirrels.

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees F., cubed up the slices and put them into a bowl. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt, fresh ground black pepper, some red pepper flakes (for a little kick) and a sprinkle of garlic powder. I mixed them up to make sure all the cubes were coated. Then I put them on a half sheet pan and stuck them into the oven for about 10-15 minutes (until they were golden). I pulled out the sheet tray and let them cool.

When they were room temp, I stuck them in a baggie and washed the sheet pan. Now I have croutons for my soups!

I started to vacuum the house, but the sun came out around 2:00 PM. So, I took the platform outside after the patio dried off and sanded it.

The chili and ground beef had thawed, so I browned the meat with one diced yellow onion in a large skillet. When that was ready, I added in the six cups of vegetarian chili. I let that get happy for a while, tasted it (good!) and the let it cool. When it was cool, I put it into two four-cup freezer containers, labeled them and stuck them back in the freezer. Then I washed up the skillet.

I began my Sunday supper around 5:30 PM by peeling some russet potatoes. I cut them into 1/4 inch slices. Then I did the same thing to a medium yellow onion. I buttered my two-quart Pyrex casserole dish and preheated the oven to 400 degrees F.

I arranged half the potato slices in layers on the bottom of the pan. Then I put in a single layer of the onion slices, broken into rings. The rest of the potatoes were layered on top.

I melted three tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. I whisked in three tablespoons of flour and a little kosher salt. I cooked that for about a minute or so. Then I added two cups of whole milk and whisked that until it started to thicken. Finally, I threw in 1 1/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and continued to whisk until the cheese had melted (another minute or so).

I poured the cheese mixture over the potatoes, covered the casserole dish with tin foil and stuck it in the oven. I set the timer for 1 1/2 hours and cleaned up the saucepan and the counter.

Then I got started on a simple chicken cordon bleu recipe. Someday I want to make the Cooks Illustrated version I saw done on TV (It’s baked, not fried, with shredded Swiss cheese and rolled in homemade breadcrumbs, etc.) but today I’m going with what I have.

So, I pounded out three boneless, skinless chicken breasts between two layers of cling wrap until they were at a uniform thickness. I put on a ham slice and two slices of Swiss cheese, only going to 1/2 inch of the edge of the chicken patty. I tightly rolled them up and secured them with toothpicks. I secured the ends with toothpicks as well (I don’t want the cheese to run out as often happens). I put the chicken back in the fridge for a bit to set while I cleaned up.

About an hour before the potatoes au gratin would be done, I mixed some flour with paprika in a shallow dish. I melted six tablespoons of butter in my skillet over medium-high heat. I coated the chicken rolls with the flour mixture and then browned them in the butter until all the sides were golden.

I added in 1/2 cup of white wine and one teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules, reduced the heat to low, covered the skillet and simmered it for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes were up, I checked the chicken by slicing into one of the rolls. The juices were clear and it was not pink, so I removed them from the skillet to a plate. I had to use a pair of pliers to pull out the toothpicks (they were too slippery for fingers).

I mixed together one tablespoon of cornstarch with one cup of heavy whipping cream and whisked that slowly into the skillet. I cooked it, whisking all the while, until the sauce thickened.

I plated it by slicing one of the chicken rolls into rounds, topped it with some of the sauce and added a generous helping of the potatoes Au gratin.

I ate that watching my Sunday night shows. The chicken was great although some of the cheese did leak out (I gotta try that other recipe!). The potatoes were also excellent, except they were under-seasoned. I fixed that by adding table salt to them, but I will have to remember that next time.

My shows were coming on, so I put the left over in the fridge and just soaked the skillet. I’ve done enough cooking and dish washing for one day and will catch it in the morning!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blown away on Saturday!

I woke up at the usual time (5:30 AM), dammit! It was the weekend and I should be sleeping in!! But, I couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I got up and made some coffee.

When it got light out, I checked the weather: light rain, cool and windy. In short, crappy. The wind is the big story today, as we have a wind advisory (gale warning on the lakes) from 10 AM until 6 PM. They are predicting sustained winds of 20-30 MPH, with gusts up to 45 MPH. The rain and wind should bring down a lot more leaves, but I fear it will be too wet to cut them up with the mower this weekend.

I filled in my ToDo list and a grocery shopping list. Then I wrote and posted the Blog entry. I went out to make some breakfast, but I found I’d frozen the rest of the bacon (I used it on the grilled chicken breasts, as you may recall). So, I took it out to thaw and changed breakfast to brunch.

However, that didn’t work. It was still frozen by the time I figured I had to get going on my errands. So, I made a fried egg, topped it with American cheese and put that on a Kaiser roll with some mayo. That was my “brunch.”

First, I went to the Post Office for stamps. Then I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond in Westland and bought a new electric toothbrush that was not only on sale, but I also had a 20% off coupon. Sweet!

Since I was that far, I went to an independent gas station near Jake’s old house that sells gas CHEAP! Sure, I had to wait in line a while (you always do) but I filled up my car with the mid-grade gas I need at a price per gallon that was less than just regular sells for near my house.

Finally, I stopped at Meijer’s for a big shopping trip (mostly to replenish my pantry items and paper products). That took forever and a big chunk of change, BTW. When I finally got back outside, the wind gusts were so bad it was difficult to walk, much less push the cart. Unbelievable! I was back home by 3:30 PM.

I unpacked the many, many bags of stuff and then started the last load of this weekend’s laundry. While I was waiting for it to dry, I screwed down the top of the platform.

For dinner, I made Giada De Laurentis’ “Tagliatelle with Smashed Peas, Sausage and Ricotta Cheese.” Of course, I couldn’t find any “tagliatelle” but she did say you could use any other wide, long pasta so I went with Fettuccine.

Here’s what I did: I brought water in my pasta pot up to a boil and then salted it. I added in the Fettuccine and cooked it until it was “al dente.”

Meanwhile, I heated up some olive oil and added in two cloves of chopped garlic. I took one pound of hot Italian sausage out of their casings and broke that up into the oil. I browned that about five minutes and then removed it and set it aside.

I added in a pound of thawed frozen green peas and smashed them with the back of my wooden spoon (they make a cool popping sound). I took the pan off the heat and added in the drained pasta (be sure you reserve at least one cup of the pasta water) and one cup of whole milk ricotta cheese.

Note: be sure its whole milk ricotta cheese or it won’t melt right!

I tossed the pasta, cheese and peas together to coat, adding pasta water 1/4 cup at a time to keep the pasta moist. I returned the sausage to the skillet and added in about 1/2 cup of fresh chopped basil and 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. I tossed everything to coat and plated it up immediately.

And, what were the recipe results? I didn’t like it all that much (you might). The ricotta sauce was too thick (even though I added pasta water to it several times) and I’m not that big a fan of hot Italian sausage.

I straightened up the kitchen and then quit for the night at 8:00 PM. There was nothing much on TV, so I left the Tiger’s game on low and read a book. When the game ended (we lost, 15 to 5! A complete rout!!) I turned off the lights and went to sleep.

Note on the winds: Sunday morning on the news, they said that over 52,000 homes were left without power in the Metro area and the majority of these were in Redford Township. Thankfully, my power is still on...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why do Friday/paydays always drag in the afternoon?

It was damp, overcast, and windy on Friday with occasional drizzles of rain. In short, typical miserable Michigan Fall weather (Damn, I was really getting used to those 80 degrees Fall days!)

I made the mistake of going to a nearby restaurant (which shall remain nameless) at lunchtime and ordering a bowl of clam chowder. It sounded good and clam chowder is usually the soup de jour everywhere on Fridays, but it was mediocre at best! I was bummed!!

Back home after work, I started the weekend wash by stripping the bed (displacing Scruffy).

I went outside and set up two sawhorses. Then I took the tabletop extender and sawed it to the size I need for the platform. The rest of it I cut up with the Sawzall for disposal.

Let’s talk for a minute about the platform. When I was helping Jake and Carla clean out their old house, I noticed that their dryer was on an unpainted platform made of 2x6’s and plywood. I thought to myself, “This is brilliant!” It’s like folks I know who bought those front loading washer and dryer and then bought the optional stands to put them on. It saves your back as you don’t have to bend over so far. I remember thinking the guy who thought of that platform was cool and I decided to make myself one.

I mentioned this to Jake (with pride) when we last talked. But, he started laughing! Puzzled, I asked him what was so funny. He explained that (had I looked closer at it) the dryer was NOT on that platform to save somebody’s back, but rather to cover up a big drain pipe that ran through the area where the guy wanted to put the dryer!

Well, maybe that was that guy’s reason, but I am undeterred and going to build it and try it, anyway.

I watched the NBC Nightly News and then started to screw the 2x6’s together downstairs. I thought I heard the phone ringing, so I went to answer it but the ringing stopped by the time I got up there. I checked the Caller ID and it was B___. So, I called him back and we chatted for a bit.

Then I went back to screwing the platform base together. When I had that done it was already 8:30 PM and I was hungry. I warmed up the leftovers from last night's Southern dinner and, since I didn’t have any peas and pearl onions left, I peeled and sliced up some of those parsnips.

I plated everything (adding butter and salt to the parsnips) and went in to watch some TV and eat. I went to bed around midnight.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The perfect song snippet for this blustery day

"Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind"

Against the Wind
~ Bob Seger

The Captain goes Southern on Y’all

On Thursday, it was time to use those green tomatoes or else throw them away. So, I stopped at Westborn at lunchtime and got some stuff to go with them: Two nice bone-in pork chops and some pearl onions. I also picked up some things I’ll need over the weekend.

Back at home after a long, frustrating afternoon (I spent it trying to figure out formatting another book I had to rewrite while using Word 2010 – pain in the butt!) I treated the cats and changed clothes. I watched most of the news and then returned Jake’s call from Tuesday (not sure how I missed that).

We caught each other up on current events (I want his job, dammit!) After we hung up, I tacked the base together using my 2x6’s and my nail gun (I’ll screw them together this weekend).

Then I started dinner. First I stuck a handful of the pearl onions into boiling salted water. After three minutes, I drained them and shocked them to stop the cooking process. I slipped off their little skins and set the onions aside for later.

I made the pork chops Southern-style by adding a cup or so of flour to a baggie and seasoned the flour with fresh ground black pepper and some Lawry’s seasoned salt.

I didn’t have any lard, so I used bacon grease in my skillet. I got the pan hot and patted the chops dry. Then I put them in the baggie (one at a time) and shook them around. I shook off the excess flour and put them into the skillet.

I let them go until they were nicely browned on the one side (about 3 minutes) and then flipped them over. Once that side was done, I pulled the pan off the heat and stuck it in a pre-heated (375 degrees F.) oven. I set the timer for 10 minutes. The oven part is not exactly Southern-style as they would have just kept turning them over in the skillet until done. But, you run the risk of drying out the chop that way.

I made up my breading station with flour in the first tray, two eggs and some milk in the second and one cup flour, 1/4 cup corn meal and 1/2 cup of fine breadcrumbs in the last. When the canola oil started to shimmer, I started breading and frying the slices of green tomatoes. I made them in two batches. As each batch finished, I put them on some paper towels to drain and hit them with sea salt. Then I covered them with tin foil to keep warm.

I put the pearl onions into more boiling salted water and added about 1/4 pound of frozen peas. About that time, the timer went off, so I pulled the pork chops out and let them rest.

The fried green tomatoes were done, the chops were done and all that remained was to drain the peas and pearl onions. I added a half stick of butter to the saucepan and let that melt, while I seasoned them with salt and pepper.

I plated everything up (one chop, three of the fried green tomatoes and half the peas and pearl onions). The chop was moist and delicious, the tomatoes were tart and good, but I really, really liked the peas and pearl onions. I got three more tomatoes and the rest of the peas before I was full.

I watched a little TV, but then went to bed early.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Pantry-inspired recipe

(or, how the Captain stepped up to his IT problem)

I stopped at Home Depot at lunchtime to pick up supplies I will need for this weekend’s projects. I left there $70 US poorer but with a trunk load of supplies and two eight-foot 2” x 6”s that I had them cut up to the correct lengths I will need.

At home for lunch, I didn’t have time to unload the car, just heat up one of the leftover chicken breasts. I made another sandwich and ate that watching the noon news.

Back at work, I emailed Phyllis (a System Admin) and asked her what my static IP address was. Why? Because, for the first time in a long time, I tried to remote into my work computer after hours Tuesday night and the damn thing didn’t work. Oh, the VPN connection was established, but I kept getting an error message trying to reach my PC.

Now, in the past, I would have just called Jake and asked him to take a look at it. It was nice to have my own personal Geek Squad (and he was free!) But, like having to worry about “Security Concerns,” it’s a brave new world around here.

So, Tuesday night I reviewed the connection information and found the static IP address I was trying to connect to was in Building 73 (where I used to work). Since I know that IP addresses are tied to building numbers, I knew that was wrong.

As I said, I emailed Phyllis today. Once I had the new static IP address, I emailed it home. After work, I figured out how to edit the connection information. Then I put in the current IP address and tried it again. Bingo! I must admit, I felt a lot prouder of myself than the occasion probably called for...

You probably don’t remember this, but back in March I was bragging about making soup with just items from my freezer and my pantry. It turns out I’m not the only one as I came across a video the other day of a chef showing a woman how to make vegetarian chili by only using pantry items.

There was no written recipe so I had to watch it several times to write down the ingredients and can sizes. I checked and found I had all but one of the items in my pantry as well (and that one item I wouldn’t want, anyway, LOL).

So, tonight, after treating the cats and changing clothes, I started making my chili.

I put a drizzle of olive oil into a large saucepan. Then I added one 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (juice and all), one 15-ounce can of drained and rinsed black beans, one 15-ounce can of drained and rinsed kidney beans and one 15 ounce can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans. Here’s where I varied from the recipe: it called for one 15-ounce can of creamed corn; but I HATE creamed corn. So I put in one 15-ounce can of drained and rinsed regular corn. I also didn’t have a 4-ounce can of fire roasted diced green chilies, but I did have a 4-ounce can of plain diced green chilies, so in they went. To that, I added one packet of taco seasoning (leftover in the cupboard from something or another) and three tablespoons of barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s, but the chef didn’t call out any specific brand).

You are supposed to bring this to a boil (or a bubble as they say in England) and then simmer it for 25 minutes. I did that, but then turned it on low and covered it to eat later.

It had started to drizzle, so I went outside and dragged in the plywood I had made into a tabletop extender for the old table. That plywood was outside on the trailer because I didn’t think I’d ever need it. But now I need some of it this weekend, so I put it in the garage to keep it dry.

Back inside, I made a four-cup pot of coffee as I felt chilly. I drank that watching the NBC Nightly News. When that ended at 7:00 PM, I went in to fix my VPN connection (see above), type the Blog entry to date and then went and dished out a bowl of that chili.

Interesting! The seasoning was spot on for a medium-heat chili. The sweet corn really helped the texture by giving it a nice “crunch” (I think I’ll add a can of drained corn to all my chili from now on). I do have to admit that I missed the sauteed onions and meat, but not enough to prevent me from having two bowls of the stuff. Hmmm... I wonder what else I can make from just my pantry.

I started watching TV, but fell asleep around 9:30 PM (being huddled under the covers probably didn’t help). I slept for about and hour and a half, so when I woke up, I was not sleepy. As a result, it was after 12:30 AM before I finally fell back asleep.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Captain veggies out

I had some things I needed to do Tuesday morning, so I started work a little later than normal. But, I had let my boss know the day before and he said it was okay.

Anyway, I worked through lunch. I did run out to the restaurant on Plymouth Road near Levan (it used to have a computer-related name that Jake might remember but now its changed owners again and is a sports bar & grille) and got an order of fish and chips to go. It wasn’t bad for takeout and the waitress managed to find me some malt vinegar, so I was pleased.

However, it is difficult to eat fish topped with tartar sauce, wet coleslaw and fries dripping vinegar with a plastic fork while working on a computer keyboard. It’s messy, which is why I don’t normally mix the two.

Back at home, I made out some shopping lists for both Home Depot and Westborn. Then I started the ToDo list for the weekend (beginning with several items I didn’t finish last weekend).

For dinner, I warmed up those two cups of cauliflower cheese soup that I put in the fridge. Then I rinsed off the beet greens (they always seem to have some grit on them), chopped them and steamed them until they all wilted. I drained them and topped them with regular vinegar. Tasted just like they did when I was a kid on the farm!

I took some measurements for the next project and got that all organized on paper (once a Project Manager, always a Project Manager, I guess).

Later on, while watching TV, I warmed up an ear of that sweet corn I’d grilled and ate it as a snack.

I went to bed after the 11:00 PM news finished.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In short, Monday

I went to Jos A Banks on my lunch hour. They were having Columbus Day sale all weekend and it ended today. It was "buy one, get one free; buy another, get two more free." So, for the price of two new pants for work, I got five (or a whole week's worth). Nice!

Monday seemed to drag (even more than usual). I think I was just tired from the weekend ToDo list. But, finally it was five o'clock and I was headed for home.

When I got there, I treated the cats, and changed clothes. I did try on one pair of my new pants (just to double check they would fit) and they fit just fine. So, I took the time to cut off all the labels and washed them all.

I cleaned up the mess from last night’s dinner (I didn’t want to miss my Sunday shows, so I had just left it). I got the garbage together for tomorrow morning and then decided to take a break after hanging up my new pants.

I ate a reheated plate of the leftover sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes for dinner. The remaining potatoes and kraut went into the garbage.

I watched a movie, but fell asleep before it ended. When I woke up, I shut everything off and went to bed for real.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

... to all my Candian friends!!

Random Thought...

I don't know about you, but I will be glad when the Captain goes back to work today and these damn posts can be shorter!

Sunday’s Summer Story

I woke up at the normal weekday time and had a cup of coffee. Then I started to write out the Blog entry. As you can tell by the time stamp, it took a long, long time to write. It was just long enough to allow Scruffy to hack a hairball onto the bedspread.

So, I cleaned that up and threw the bedspread into the washer. I also threw more than a few dirty looks at Scruffy.

I used my Belgian waffle iron for the first time for my breakfast. I used Carla’s batter recipe along with Jake’s secret ingredient. I had to coat the waffle iron surfaces with cooking oil and, while doing that, my brush broke!

I threw the first waffle out for the squirrels (too greasy, but I knew that would happen). So, I ate the next two with butter and pure maple syrup. Excellent!

I shaved and showered and then headed out on my Sunday errands. I went to GFS and got another bag of lump charcoal and, as an afterthought, a new pastry brush. Then I went to the Feed Store and got a 40-pound bag of bird seed and two suet cakes (yes, it’s getting near the time when I will need to put out suet). Finally, I stopped at Westborn and picked up supplies for tonight’s dinner. Back home, I treated the cats, changed clothes and opened all the windows again.

It was with great difficulty that I cut the front lawn with the push mower (those damn black walnuts are everywhere!) But, I had to risk twisting an ankle because the leaves are beginning to pile up. I have to come up with a plan to get those damn things off my lawn and driveway!

When I finished the front, I cut the back with the lawn tractor. I came back in sweaty and dusty.

One of the memories of my childhood was the lemonade my sister-in-law Jean used to make. I never knew anyone else back then who made lemonade with fresh lemons and it was delicious!

I found a recipe the other day that sounded right. One of the things I got at Westborn was a bag of lemons. I did have to cut the recipe in half as the glass pitcher I have will not hold a gallon+ of lemonade. But, you could double what I did if you need that much!

So, first I made some simple syrup (one cup of water and one cup of sugar). I heated that up, whisking until all the sugar dissolved. I set it aside and let it cool.

Next I began to juice the lemons. It took six to get one cup of fresh lemon juice. I reserved some of the pulp (checking for seeds) because, as I remember it, there was pulp in Jean’s lemonade.

I added the lemon juice to the now cooled simple syrup, added in the pulp and eight cups of cold water. Then I put in thin slices of yet another lemon (again, as I recall, that was Jean’s presentation) and stirred. I did sneak a taste (excellent – sweet, but tart) but then stuck the pitcher into the fridge to chill.

I took a break and watched some taped cooking shows until 6:00 PM. Then I started the charcoal chimney up. When the coals were ready, I cleaned and oiled the grille grate and then put on my sweet corn that had been soaking in water since noon.

Back inside, I fried up some thick-cut bacon in my cast iron skillet. While turning the bacon and running outside to turn the corn, I rinsed off three boneless skinless chicken breasts (I was a multi-tasking fool!) I patted the chicken dry with paper towels and then seasoned them with salt, black pepper and poultry seasoning.

When the corn was done, I put it (husk and all) on a half sheet pan and stuck it in the oven I preheated to “warm.” I re-oiled the grill and put on the chicken. I also put on the patio light as it was getting dark.

I grilled the chicken about six minutes on one side, then flipped them over to let them cook for another six minutes. While that was happening, I tore off some leaf lettuce, sliced up one of those tomatoes I bought and a red onion and sliced up a dill pickle. Still multi-tasking, I shut all the windows as time permitted.

When the chicken was done, I topped it with the now crispy, drained bacon and a slice of pepperjack cheese. When the cheese melted, I pulled them off the grille, took them inside and assembled one. I put mayonnaise on the bottom of a Kaiser roll and topped that with the lettuce. Next came the chicken, bacon and cheese. Finally, I put on a tomato slice, the dill pickle chips, some onions and the top of the bun. I plated that with a shucked ear of corn, buttered and salted.

I set that plate on the bed and poured myself a big glass of lemonade. I watched my usual Sunday shows and celebrated yet another beautiful summer day in October in Michigan with my grilled food. It was delicious, BTW.

Speaking of weather, I did flip on the Weather Channel and learned that a storm that dropped 10 inches of rain in Florida is moving up the east coast. So, it’s heading for Jake and Carla, then Dave and Melissa and then Sadie and Luanne. They all need the rain (there’s a 9-inch deficit in rainfall in Charlotte, SC for example) but it’s a crummy way to celebrate Columbus Day.

Maybe you should have all stayed in Michigan. I’m just saying...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Media Coverage

Note: I checked both the Macomb Daily website (they told us to) and the Forgotten Harvest Facebook and Twitter pages (they told us to, too).

I didn’t make the video cut in the Macomb Daily (I think it was that crack I made on-camera about hoping nobody who watches “America’s Most Wanted” sees this). But there was a good story and video interview with Marilyn.

http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2011/10/08/news/doc4e90f73924055860408427.txt?viewmode=fullstory

But, I did make the only shot shown on the Forgotten Harvest Twitter page. That’s me in the foreground, wearing my dark blue T-shirt, picking beans.

http://www.facebook.com/forgottenharvest/posts/243737255674340

The Captain returns to his roots...

Sidebar: This is a long post, but it was a long day...

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before (I doubt it) but I signed up to be a Forgotten Harvest volunteer two or three years ago. But, due to this or that, I never got to participate in any volunteer activity. Mainly, it was because the emails I would get from Krista, the volunteer coordinator, usually asked for help (unloading a truck, repackaging bulk food, etc.) on a weekday morning or afternoon when I had to be at work. But this past Tuesday, I got an email asking for volunteers to pick both beans and sweet corn from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at a field belonging to the Van Houtte Farm. The field was located on the Northwest Corner of 33 Mile and Old Van Dyke in Romeo.

Forgotten Harvest typically “rescues” good left over food from grocery stores and restaurants, BTW. This is the first year they are going directly to the fields to pick surplus vegetables that farmers have designated as disposable.

So, I replied and said I’d be there. However, I got an email on Friday from Krista, saying a group had backed out of helping on another farm and could I go to Boyka's Farm Stand (20555 23 mile road - between Card Road & Romeo Plank) instead? I figured, hmmm, ten miles closer? Sure!

So, I set the alarm Friday night and put coffee and water to make four cups in the coffee maker and turned on the delay (with all the coffee I got from Jake and Carla, I have been doing this all week and loving it).

I got up at the usual time, shaved and showered and loaded up the car (boots, work gloves and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch). I left at 7:45 AM. The drive was a bit dicey, as I drove in and out of fog and then I-94 was shut down to only one lane from downtown Detroit all the way to East Point. But, due to the light weekend traffic, I still got there in time.

I was greeted by Marilyn (of Bloomfield Hills from Forgotten Harvest) and the owner of the farm, Ken DeCock. I checked out the farm stand while waiting for the rest to show (Beautiful vegetables and fruit and, best of all, a sign that said one bushel of tomatoes for $14.00!)

We finally all assembled, drove down the road a ways and took a lane to the bean field. There was already a wagon, baskets and some milk crates there. Marilyn had brought water and ice in a cooler and a big box of donated plain donuts (I didn't eat any).

So, we got started. I began by picking them the way I was taught at 14, back on that truck farm (you straddle the row, bend over and strip both sides at once with your right and left hands). It is the fastest way to do it, but that lasted only about 10 minutes until my back began to scream in protest.

So, I grabbed a milk crate (like everybody else) and sat down. I was shocked when Angela (of Trenton and a bookkeeper at the Westin – we exchanged Michael Simon stories) asked the farmer if she could pull out the plants. But, he said, “Sure, they are all going to be plowed under anyway.” He explained that the rainy spring was followed by the dry, hot summer. That wreaked havoc on the normal rotation of planting and harvesting of various varieties of green beans. So rather than let these beans go to waste, he decided to help some people out. Nice guy, BTW.


Since Angela was in the row next to me, I watched her. She would pull out the plants, turn them upside down and all the beans were just hanging there. So, I started doing that, too. It was easier and it helped to let you know where you left off if you went to get a drink of water. BTW, Ken (the farmer) instructed us about picking the “right” beans – not the ones that were too little, not the ones that were too big and “lumpy” from overripe bean seeds inside and nothing that had blemishes or mold on them.

We were finally joined by Krista (of Detroit and the volunteer coordinator of Forgotten Harvest), along with her 6-year-old son Demari, and her 7-year-old daughter Kamaria. They had been at the other farm, getting that effort going. There were about 10 volunteers in all; most came from far away, although there was one woman from Macomb along with two teenage brothers, also from Macomb.

At one point, Marilyn asked if anyone had a song to sing. Krista started singing "Kumbaya" as a joke and we all laughed. Marilyn said she’d made an extensive playlist but then realized there wouldn’t be any electricity. She said she had a great song about picking cotton. Krista, who is black, said, “Uh, no, we are NOT going to be singing any ‘picking cotton’ songs when I’m around!” We all laughed again. I explained to Marilyn that I'd worked on a truck farm about three miles from here and never, ever heard anybody singing.

We were visited by the camera and video crew of Forgotten Harvest who took tons of pictures. Then a reporter and camera man from the Macomb Daily (the local paper) showed up and we went through it all again (How do you spell “Goerlich,” etc.).

At around 1:00 PM, about half the people (me included) took off (I had picked five bushels of beans, BTW). The rest said they would stay until 4:00 PM, but I had things to do. On my way out, I stopped at the farm stand and bought a beautiful head of cauliflower (for my brother Carl – I still have to deal with the rest of the cauliflower Lu didn’t use in her salads), two 2-pound bags of parsnips (one for me and one for Carl), six ears of sweet corn (they still have them out here), a bunch of beets (more for the greens but I’ll pickle the beets, I suppose), a nice rutabaga and two acorn squash. And, I said, “I’ll take a bushel of tomatoes, please.” The girl behind the counter said, “Did you already order them? We are only selling them to people who ordered them.” I said, “No, but I live far away from here, can I order them now and take a bushel with me?” She said, “Sorry, we aren’t taking any more orders.” Shoot. So, I bought a berry basket of them that only held seven tomatoes. But, they were beautiful and I will use them somehow.

I ate my sandwich on the road. As you probably already guessed, I stopped at my Brother Carl’s house on the way back home. The first thing I did was wash my hands (I found I couldn’t use the gloves on the farm – you are supposed to pick the beans with the stems on, you see). Then I went out and chatted with Carl. I hadn’t seen him since his operation and wanted to know first-hand how he was doing. He’s still using a walker and still in considerable pain. But, he’s getting around.

He showed me his scar (wicked!) and copies of his x-rays (plates and six damn-long screws in his spine).

He had all the windows in his house open (it was sunny and a high of 80 degrees F. here today) and a delicious breeze was blowing through the house. I eventually took my leave and he thanked me again for the veggies (I know he loves parsnips).

I took Groesbeck to 8-Mile to avoid that construction on I-94. I stopped at the post office on my way home to mail a package which took some time (long line), but I finally made it, treated the cats and took a nice long shower. Then I, too, opened all my windows.

Jake had called while I was out, so I returned his call. We chatted for a bit (they are down to just a few boxes left to unpack – non-essential like books, etc., and doing fine).

I went out to spray the bottom (flat) part of the handrail. Since the rest of the handrail is round, this seemed a bit daunting. But I solved the problem by putting some sand into two of those plastic bags you get at the grocery store, tying them up, draping them on the saw horses and pressing the round part down in them. It worked great. I sprayed the bottom and went inside, noting the time.

Then I decided to deal with that cauliflower before it goes bad. So, I made a basic Cream Soup Base. I melted one stick (or 1/2 cup) of butter in a large saucepan. Then I whisked in six tablespoons of AP flour to make a roux (or a paste if you’re not into cooking terms). When all the flour was incorporated, I added two cups of whole milk and two chicken bouillon cubes. I seasoned it with fresh ground pepper (at this point you do not want to add salt, because there is salt in the bouillon cubes). I cooked that over low heat (whisking, mainly to break up the bouillon cubes) until it thickened.

I had already taken out the stem and chopped up the remaining half of the cauliflower. I do have a steamer, but I thought I’d try a technique a woman at work told me. She said she puts her veggies in a baggie with a couple of tablespoons of water and cooks them in the microwave on high for six minutes. Since it would make for an easier cleanup, I tried it. Wrongo! At 4+ minutes, the zip-lock blew out and sprayed water inside the microwave (so much for less cleanup). I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I tucked the very (VERY) hot end of the bag under the bags and cooked it for two minutes more.

I added the cauliflower to the cream soup base. Note: you can use this base for anything: broccoli and cheese, chunks of baked potatoes with cheese, bacon bits and chives, chopped leeks, asparagus (you get the idea). After adding what you want, you may have to adjust the thickness of the base by adding more milk a little at a time until you get the right consistency.

I added about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, which thickened it up, so I kept adding more milk until it was where I wanted it (maybe about another cup or less). I tasted it and added a bit more pepper and some sea salt. Another taste test: Perfect!

I put the soup in my four cup freezer containers and let that cool. I got about 6 cups, BTW, so I wish I’d doubled the recipe.

I cleaned up the mess from that and then went out to spray the second coat on the bottom of the handrail.

Back inside, I started dinner. I had seen this made on Bitchin’ Kitchen (yes, it’s a Nadia G. recipe). Now, she made “Swiss Chard Mascarpone Ravioli, Pan-Seared and Drizzled with Truffled Crème.” But, I knew it would be getting late and I would be tired, so hand-made ravioli was out. Instead, I had bought some of those refrigerated (not frozen) Wild Mushroom Agnolotti made by Buitoni. I am basically just stealing her sauce and cooking technique.

So, I heated a saucepan over medium heat and added 1/3 cup of butter and a sprig of fresh thyme. I melted that until it began to turn brown (Keep a damn close eye on this as it will burn in seconds) When it was a medium brown, I pulled it off the heat and added 3 tablespoons of white truffle oil. I pulled out the thyme sprig and whisked it to mix. I reserved two tablespoons of this butter sauce to pan fry the ravioli, later. Then I added to the saucepan 1/3 cup of heavy cream, a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I whisked that until the mixture was emulsified.

Meanwhile, I boiled the ravioli according to the package instructions (salted water for six minutes). When five minutes had passed, I turned the skillet on medium-high and added a teaspoon of olive oil. I drained the ravioli and then added them (in two batches) to the skillet, searing them about a minute on each side until they started to turn golden. When they were done, I put them in a single layer on a plate and drizzled them with two or three tablespoons of the sauce. I topped them with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and went in to eat them, watching TV. OMG, that was good! I must admit, I ate them all!

I took the sawhorses and the handrail back inside the garage so it could dry completely overnight.

My daughter Melissa called just after that. She was sick of watching the Tiger’s game, so we chatted for a long while. She said she wasn’t really mad at me for not coming to their house (she understood that) but that since I didn’t tell her it was all going down, she and Dave couldn’t drive down to help Jake and Carla get set up, as they’d hoped to do. I apologized yet again and told her the next time Jake and Carla move; I would definitely let her know in advance.

I started falling asleep while watching a movie, so I turned it off and went to bed. It was then that I noticed that, along with a feeling of community and a nice sense of giving back, I took yet another thing away from my field hand adventure this morning: I sunburned the top of my head and the back of my neck!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quote of the day (maybe the year!)

"Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope, and Johnny Cash.

Today, we have no jobs, no hope, and no cash."

~ As seen online by jwg

Friday in July (in October)

It was another gorgeous day in Southeast Michigan. When I left work at 5:00 PM it was 76 degrees F.! And we are approaching mid-October!!

I changed clothes and started washing a week’s worth of work clothes. I have a lot to do this weekend and wanted to get a jump on it.

Then I sat on the front porch, enjoying the weather and fine-sanding the oak handrail. It took a while to get it right, but the results were well worth it. I wiped it down with a tack cloth and set it on the kitchen table while I got prepared for the next step.

I dug out my two saw horses (and I do mean “dug out”). This farm is a mess! I set those outside on the garage apron. The winds were light and variable and there’s too much good stuff in the garage (the car, the bike, all Jake’s stuff, etc.), to risk spraying it inside.

I went back in the house, grabbed the handrail, took it outside and set it on the sawhorses. Then I closed the garage door and got the can of polyurethane.

Sidebar: I bought those two cans of Minwax polyurethane for this project a few days before Jake and Carla left. So, on Sunday, when I went to clean out the last of the stuff from their old house, guess what I found Jake had left me: two brand new bottles of Minwax polyurethane!

Anyway, I shook up the can per instructions and then went out the front door. I sprayed on the first, light coat of polyurethane and left it to dry. I went back inside and switched the clothes to the dryer.

I am watching the time closely as you can recoat this if it’s under two hours since you last sprayed. Otherwise you have to wait 72 hours before spraying it again (and I don’t have three days to devote to this).

B___ called and we caught each other up. He’s been busy getting stuff off the boat (its up on the stands for winter now), hauling it home, washing it and putting it away for the winter.

I explained my project and he suggested that I not spray it again as it was getting dark and turning a bit humid. I explained the time factor and told him I had the porch light and the outside garage light turned on, and that I was going to take it inside the still warm garage to dry. He asked what I’d made for dinner (he made a pot roast) and I said I hadn’t got to that yet.

After we hung up, I hung up my clothes. Then I went back outside and sprayed the second light coat (after years of getting drips on things from over-spraying paint or polyurethane, I have become quite the fan of “light” coats, LOL!)

I was back inside just before 8:00 PM. I had just washed my hands when the phone rang. It was Jeremy, on his way home from an after-hours cutover. We talked for about 10 minutes when I said I needed to go and get some dinner (he did ask me at the start of the conversation if he was interrupting anything and I said no, because he wasn’t). So, we hung up.

Now I did have something planned for dinner, but by then it seemed like too much work. So I settled (well, I say “settled” but it was great) for leftover sausage, potatoes and sauerkraut.

I watched a movie that I joined in progress and went to bed at 11:00 PM when it was over.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In my house, "Kraut" was not a derogatory word!

It was another nice, warm, sunny day in Redford on Thursday.

At lunchtime, I finally went and got my oil changed (I've been meaning to for weeks now). Naturally, the air cleaner needed replacing (it really did - I've been just having them blow it off for the last couple of times). So, it cost me $47 US by the time I was through.

Back home after work, it was 74 degrees. So, I went out to work on the raised bed garden. I picked all the good-sized green tomatoes (can somebody say, “Fried green tomatoes this weekend”)? Then I pulled the tomato plants and the non-performing green pepper plants. Next, I picked the ripe red and yellow hot peppers. All the refuse went into the compost heap.

Then I watered the garden (it’s dry here these days, with no rain in sight) in hopes that the Brussels sprouts still sprout (I doubt it), the rest of the green hot peppers turn red and the sugar snap peas produce (they are flowering right now).

Back inside, I started dinner. I got out my Dutch oven again and filled the bottom layer with a bag of sauerkraut. Next, I peeled and cubed all the remaining Yukon Gold potatoes I had (I wouldn’t normally peel them but these had begun to sprout big-time) Finally, I cut some smoked sausage on the biase and put them in as the final layer. I turned the burner on “Medium” heat and walked away, content to let steam and time do its thing.

Then I watched the Nightly News which was mostly a tribute to Steve Jobs.

When that was over, I addressed the problem of the angles I need to cut in the oak hand rail. I used a piece of scrap wood to check I had the angles right. Then I held my breath and cut the same angles on the expensive oak.

I checked and it fit! It was too late to polyurethane it tonight, but I did sand it and the spackling compound on the wall (I was a sanding fool!)

I plated up some dinner (excellent as always, and a taste of my childhood) and watched TV until 11:00 PM (I guess I’m getting over feeling tired) then went to bed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work;
I want to achieve it through not dying.”

~ Woody Allen

Soup's On

I had some errands to run in Westland, so I went to the Newburgh Grille for lunch. Instead of my usual cup of soup of the day and a mini-Greek salad, I got one of their specials: meatloaf, with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. Now, I’ve had much better meatloaf and mashed potatoes but it was good and filling.

Back home after work, I went out and took some photos of the black walnuts all over the place (except where my tires crush them). Then I went back inside and took pictures of my new shelves. It was another nice, warm sunny day here, BTW.

I used the spackling compound to fill in the holes I’d made looking for the studs to support my new handrail.

I started dinner around 7:00 PM. Tonight, I am making tomato soup. No, not tomato soup from a Campbell’s can, but tomato soup made with real tomatoes. It’s a Chuck Hughes recipe and here’s what I did.

I heated about two tablespoons of olive oil in my Dutch oven over medium heat. I threw in one chopped medium onion and cooked them until they were translucent, (about five minutes). Note: the recipe called for putting in both the onion and two cloves of minced garlic at the same time. But, I’ve burned enough garlic to be wary. So I added the garlic after the onions were ready and cooked it for about a minute more.

Next, I put in twelve large tomatoes (I used the vine ripened ones) that I’d quartered and two tablespoons of brown sugar (to balance the acidity). I let that cook for about five minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Then I added 1/2 cup water, four sprigs of fresh thyme and a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind from my freezer. The rind is optional, but I always save them and find they bring a real depth of flavor to soups and stews. I let that cook for about 25 minutes.

I discarded the rind and the thyme stems. Then I pureed it using my stick blender (or you could use a food processor or, God forbid, a blender) until smooth. I strained the mixture through a fine sieve set over another pan, working the stuff in the sieve with a wooden spoon. When it stopped dripping, I threw the remaining gunk in the trash.

I stirred in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and two tablespoons of butter. I tasted it and seasoned it with salt and fresh ground pepper accordingly.

I ladled out my first bowl and served it with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and some chopped fresh chives from my garden.

I had originally planned on making a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with the soup. But the soup tasted so good I had another bowl, instead. I put the rest in a container and into the freezer for some winter’s day.

I watched TV and/or read (depending on what was on TV, you see) until 11:15 PM and then I went to bed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Still shopping...

I put on a pot of coffee while I was assembling my garbage to take out to the road. I was done when it was done, so I had a cup watching the morning news. After getting the garbage out, I went to work.

Sidebar: It was a real pain when they had Inkster shut down a couple of weeks for repairs to the railroad crossing, but now I have to admit it was worth it. You used to have to come to a complete stop and gently roll over the three tracks (or you’d bounce into the other lane!) Now, you can cruise right over it at the speed limit and hardly notice it. That sucker’s smooth as a baby’s butt!

I went to Kroger's at lunchtime to get a few items I needed (although I forgot the milk, dammit!) While I was there, I picked up some mini-sub buns and some Provalone cheese slices.

After I put the groceries away, I mixed up some horse sauce (horseradish and mayo) and spread it on a mini-sub bun. I added two slices of the Provalone cheese and then got out my roast beef. I was able to slice it thin as it was cold, now. I put those slices on the opened bun as well. I zapped it in the microwave for 45 seconds to slightly melt the cheese and warm the meat up a little.

It was good!

I left my jacket home as it had warmed up during the morning hours.

After work, I stopped in at Home Depot (again!) and got the items I needed for the handrail installation and another plastic shelving unit.

So, after treating cats and changing clothes, I put together the shelf unit. I have it sticking out (like the pantry) but on the other side of the window. I’ll take a picture and post it (along with all of the rest) when the Web Master figures out what’s wrong with the old links. He’s been kinda busy...

Once the shelf was assembled, I loaded it up with all the freebee cleaning products from Jake & Carla. Finally, I have my back room in order again!

I made another sandwich for dinner, but this time toasted the bun in the toaster oven (better). I think a slice or two of tomato would put it over the top!

Believe it or not, I am still dog tired, so I went to bed at 9:30 PM Other than a few bathroom breaks, I slept straight through to the alarm!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I owe, I owe, so off to work I go...

I went back to work on Monday to rest up from last week’s “vacation.” There’s something seriously flawed with that fact, but it is what it is.

At lunch, I went to Home Depot for supplies I need for this week’s projects. I got a four-foot section of oak handrail, along with two brass brackets to attach it.

I have been thinking about my washer hoses. I recently learned you are supposed to replace them every five years because, being rubber, they can crack and split when they get old. And, a burst hose can create quite a mess, especially if you don’t discover it for a couple of hours. My washer hoses are ten years old, BTW.

So, when Carla was ordering their new washer and dryer, the guy asked if she wanted the regular hoses or upgrade to braided stainless steel ones. Since their washer will be upstairs, I suggested upgrading, so she did.

Back here at the Home Depot, I bought some of the braided hoses as well. So, I won’t have to keep replacing them.

I also got a six-pack of faucet aerators (both bathroom sinks are running slow due to the hot water crud). I picked up a pair of work gloves, a razor scraper and a variety of paint color sample strips.

It was still chilly at 5:00 PM. Once home after work, I changed clothes and watched the weather. It looks like it will be nice again this weekend. Then I started setting the new phones up. I got them all in place and verified that they were working. Sweet!

Then I replaced the two bathroom faucet aerators. I was going to sand the handrail and put up the brackets, but I found (after a long search) I only have coarse sandpaper and the spackling compound I was going to use had hardened since I last opened it.

So, I made dinner instead. It was a repeat of Sunday’s dinner as I just heated up leftovers in the microwave. But, it was still good! Really good!

Jake called and it took me a while to realize that noise was the new phones ringing (I didn’t recognize the sound, you see). He told me Carla’s mother, Acenter, had been in a car accident. She apparently hurt her back (again!) and broke her ankle. I asked what hospital she was in and he suggested that I wait to call her as she is heavily sedated. Thank God, it’s nothing life-threatening. Get well soon, Acenter!

I watched some TV, but went to bed at 10:00 PM as I still feel beat.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sunday's Story

I woke up early on Sunday morning (about 4:30 AM), probably from going to bed so early. I finished reading my new book and then got up about 6:00.

I started peeling carrots for my pot roast. I put them and an onion (cut in half) in the bottom of the slow cooker. Next I halved all the baby redskins (peel on) I had left (they were starting to sprout) and threw them in with a crushed clove of garlic.

I seasoned my plastic cutting board (a Jamie Oliver trick) and rolled the roast in it while I heated up some canola oil in a skillet. I used dried thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. When the oil started to shimmer, I seared the roast on all sides and both ends.

I put the roast in the slow cooker and covered it with raw onion rings. I wish I had some mushrooms, but I don’t. I added maybe a quarter cup of water and turned that bad boy on low.

Then I shaved and showered. Next I filled up my medicine tray for the coming week. I got dressed and was ready to go. Note: To me (and I may be influenced by the hot climate I just came from) but it was cold and windy outside. I hope the people at the family gathering (to celebrate the anniversary of my Mom's birthday) are able to keep warm in the park!

The first thing I noticed on the road was that the detour signs for the railroad crossing repairs on Inkster were gone. Yay! I went to Jake and Carla’s old house to finish up. First, I put the trash out to the road (their pickup day is Monday). Then I loaded up the car with stuff they wanted saved in the attic (that couldn’t fit in their cars) and stuff they gave me – tons of cleaning products, coffee, etc.

I was headed back when I saw an Aldi’s. I stopped and got some mushrooms. This was my first time at an Aldi’s so while I was there, I checked it out. I was sooo unimpressed!

Next I stopped at the Super Kmart (still heading home on Wayne Road) for a new dish rack (the one in the sink is getting a little tired), and new phones.

The old phones suck! You can’t read the caller ID on either and the one in the bedroom cannot be dialed. You can only call out on the living room phone. This time I got one base and two extra ones, so I could replace the old, old phone in the office (that one didn’t have a caller ID feature, you see, so I could never answer it).

I also bought a cheap Black & Decker waffle iron (I’ve been jonesing about waffles for a while now).

Next, I stopped in at Kohl’s in the Westland Mall and finally found a fall jacket (on sale!)

I cruised the mall some and located the hot pretzel stand. I bought one and satisfied that craving (at last).

Back home, I put Jake & Carla’s stuff in the attic and put my haul in the back room to be sorted and stored at a future time. Then I assembled the phones and plugged each in to charge the batteries (it takes 15 hours).

I ate an apple and some cheese for a late lunch and made a pot of coffee. I washed the bedspread after getting as much cat hair off as I could. Then I took a break for a bit and watched cooking shows.

Next, I went out and filled the bird feeder and threw out the old bread and mini pita rounds for the squirrels.

I made the bed back up and went to eat dinner. I put the meat and the veggies on a platter and strained the liquid. I heated that up in a saucepan and, when it was boiling, I whisked in a mixture of cornstarch and butter (two tablespoons each). When it had dissolved, I turned off the heat and tasted it. Perfect!

I plated up the roast beef, potatoes, mushrooms, onions and carrots. I put my gravy on the meat, and potatoes and put butter on top of the carrots. I ate that watching the last of the news. It was excellent!! And, I liked the way searing the meat first kept it from getting too soft.

After cleaning up the kitchen, I wandered back in to watch my usual Sunday night shows.

During a break, I got on the scale. I feared with all that fast food I might have gained 10 pounds. Imagine my surprise when I saw I’d actually lost five pounds! All I can figure is it was going up and down those damn stairs (they have a two story house, now) a gazillion times. At that rate, Jake and Carla will both be buff in no time.