Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday Moanin'

Tuesday, I felt a little better when I woke up. I still had a “stitch” in my side when I got up or moved in certain ways, but I didn’t have that “knife in your rib” thing.

I drove on surface streets through pouring rain. The water ponding even there was amazing. So, I stayed in the outside lane and managed to avoid most of it. Did I mention that there was a strong north wind and it was just above freezing? Well, it was.

I was starving from a decided lack of a real dinner Monday night, so I grabbed an old bag of instant oatmeal to eat when I first got to work.

I was feeling okay (sorta) and congratulated myself on my radical cure idea. But, I started to go downhill around 10:00 AM. By the time I drove home for lunch, the “knife in the ribs” thing was firmly back.

So, I took half a pain pill and, instead of eating, lay on the bed with the heating pad again.

It didn’t help much. I spent the afternoon twinging and holding my side.

Finally back at home, I repeated Monday night’s treatment. I first watched the news and couldn’t believe the flooding going on (eight inches of water in people’s basements, surface streets turned into rivers and on the Southfield freeway, one spot was flooding from the road almost to the overpass above it!)

I must be getting a little better because around 9:00 PM, I was able to get up for a little bit. I loaded last of the Thanksgiving leftover containers in the dishwasher (the leftovers went in the trash Monday) I had soaking in the sink and ran a partial load. I heated up a can of chicken noodle soup while I was doing that. I ate that sitting on the bed and then went back to bed for good for the rest of the night.

Other than bathroom breaks, of course. I can share one observation with you. You know you’re hurting when you are having a serious discussion with yourself about just peeing in the bed instead of getting up. My logic was that Gardner White offers same day delivery and free pickup of your old mattress, I could just roll over on the dry side of the bed, etc. It was ultimately the cost of a good mattress that tipped me in favor of getting up...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What a pain!

I woke up on Monday morning with cold and damp, and a bad pain in my right side ribs. I couldn’t figure that out, since I certainly didn’t “over-do” on Sunday. I made a pie, watched TV and talked to Missy. Talking to Missy might have given me a pain, but not in the side (just kidding, babe!)

Anyway it was an attention-getting pain that grew to a sharp, stabbing pain whenever I got up from a sitting position. WTF?

But I got ready (it felt good, but not that better in the shower) and went to work. I also noticed it wasn’t as bad if I was holding and pressing on my ribs. Weird.

I noticed too that the electric seat warmers also made a difference both going to work and then back and forth from lunch. But it went steadily downhill all afternoon. To the point I feared getting up and going to the bathroom and I have to do that a lot. I barely made it outside and drove the seven miles home in light snow.

Here’s what I did when I got there: I changed from my clothes into my robe. I dug out the heating pad and I took a pain pill. I went directly to bed and spent the next 12 hours adjusting the heating pad, watching TV in spurts and dozing every now and then.

Here’s what I didn’t do: I didn’t get on the computer. I didn’t make any dinner (I nibbled on some leftover dressing around 10:00 PM) and I didn’t get the garbage ready for Tuesday morning.

I did notice the rain got steadily worse and the lake out back has reappeared (the ground here is already saturated from Sunday’s two inches of rain, so this rain has no where to go). I turned off the lights and TV at 1:00 AM and slept occasionally until the alarm went off.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday’s Story

It rained hard overnight and I could hear it on the windows when I went to the bathroom. I woke up at the usual time, for a change, put on a pot of coffee and filled in the long Blog entry.

When it got light enough so I could see outside, I noticed it was still drizzling. According to the morning news, it will rain off and on for the next several days, occasionally mixed with snow as the temperature falls today. The worst day will be Tuesday, they said.

I did some minor routine “stuff” (washed up the few dishes from last night’s dessert, filled my pill case, refilled the cats’ food and water dishes, etc.) and then I printed out the mailing labels for my Christmas cards.

Now, I know a LOT of people who use the Thanksgiving weekend to put up Christmas decorations and/or outdoor Christmas lights. But, I don’t. It’s too early for me. But, I do like to fill out the Christmas cards and then mail them in early December. It gives me a Holiday feeling without me having to go up in the attic, LOL!

Any way, I managed to screw around until around noon. At that time, it was raining hard again and I was damn glad I didn’t have to go outside for anything. So, I shaved and showered. I showered (for the first time in years) up in the main bath. Why? So, I can get it wet and clean it for the Holidays.

Holy shit!

I couldn’t believe the impact of the shower head. It damn near stripped my skin off! No wonder Sadie and Luanne have bragged it up. I have the exact same shower head downstairs, but it sure doesn’t feel like this. I suppose the day-in and day-out showers I take have caused the downstairs one to get clogged with the cursed calcium or lime build-up from the water heater.

Anyway, after taking the most exhilarating shower I’ve had in a long time, I let it drip dry and then sprayed it with Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner. This is the same stuff I have used (with amazement) in the downstairs shower. It stripped the soap scum off that shower tile. And, it did the same upstairs, on the shower tile.

But it didn’t even touch the old soap scum in the tub. It’s been here since I moved in and, let’s face it, when was the last time (if ever) I took a bath? I dislike baths (unless you are sore and hurting) as you are just lying in your own dirty water. Gross!

So, being a techie, I checked the web for information. 99% of the ideas people mentioned I had already tried. But, one idea stood out and stuck in my mind. It was to spray the tub with Easy Off Fume Free Oven Cleaner. That’s the kind you use in a cold oven and, oddly enough, I have some. Not to clean my oven (its self-cleaning), but I used it on the grille last spring.

They said you could leave it on for three days. So, I figured, “What the hell?” and coated the tub with it. I opened the window and shut the door.

Carla called at one point and we took some time to catch each other up, both on Thanksgiving and life in general.

I took a short nap and felt better for it. Then I checked my handwriting: not too bad today (it comes and goes). So, I filled out and stamped all my Christmas cards.

Next I baked my turkey pot pie. I chopped up about a half a cup of celery. I put that in a saucepan with about a cup of mixed frozen veggies (corn, carrots, peas and green beans). I boiled them until the celery softened (15-20 minutes). Then I drained them and added the rest of that gravy, a cup or so of turkey, cut into cubes, the last baked potato from the fridge, also cut into cubes and, as an afterthought, some of those rutabaga cubes.

I let that get happy while the oven pre-heated and the one pie crust thawed. When everything was ready, I poured the filling in the bottom crust, put on the top crust on, cut a few slits to let the steam escape and set the pie on a half sheet pan. I stuck the pan in the oven and started checking it after a half hour went by. When it looked golden brown, I pulled it out and let it cool for a while. Then I cut me a piece and tried it. Hmmm... not bad! And, a good use of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I started watching my Sunday shows. But Melissa called around 8:30 PM. So, we chatted for a while. It was good to talk to her and I tape the shows (in case I fall asleep) anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Road Trips

It was another rough night, but this time I just stayed in bed and read until I fell back asleep. I woke up around 5:30 AM and filled in the Blog entry.

I put on a pot of coffee and watched the news. I had a couple of cups and then decided what I really wanted was breakfast. So, I made some scrambled eggs and topped them with hot sauce.

I sort of lazed around until about 10:30, when I finally roused myself to shave and shower. Then I got dressed in my good pants and a nice shirt. I have a road trip in mind.

Between this and that, it was about 11:30 AM when I left the house, hit the expressway and headed for the “D.” It was warm and I was driving in just my shirtsleeves because I don’t want to get all sweaty, walking around with a coat, later on.

I was on my way to the Detroit Institute of Arts. They have an exhibit called “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” that I want to see.

Here’s how they describe it on the DIA’s website:
“Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus brings together for the first time many of Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn's finest paintings, prints and drawings that portray Jesus and events described in the Bible. The exhibition of 64 works includes approximately 52 small, intimate paintings, prints and drawings by Rembrandt and his students that illustrate how Rembrandt broke from traditional 17th-century representations of Jesus.”

By “traditional 17-century representations,” they mean at that time, Jesus was usually portrayed as a northern European, with light hair and blue eyes. And, his divinity was expressed by a halo or rays of light shooting out of his head. And, some of Rembrandt’s early works were like that, too. But, as a successful painter (and he was wildly successful in his early 20’s) he bought a huge house in the Jewish part of Amsterdam, where he not only had his studio but a very profitable art school.

Living amongst Jews, his perception of what Jesus would have and should have looked changed. So, he started painting Jesus as a Jew, with the Jewish style of hair, worn long and tucked behind the ears. He also started showing Jesus’ divinity by subtly painting his face with a glow that, when there were others in the portraits they did not have, and with a faint glow (almost like an aura) around him. See photos.

Anyway, I only got a little lost on the way there in downtown Detroit. However, my recent jury duty experience had taught me how the streets connected so, other than an interesting ride in the New Center Area (I got to see people ice skating and this year’s Christmas tree in Campus Martius) I made it there just before the 1:00 PM showing.

I paid $8.00 to get into the museum and $8.00 more for the exhibit. I got directions and headed upstairs in the elevator. Since the exhibit only opens on each hour, I foolishly thought there would be a guide who explained things. Nay, nay. I forgot technology. Almost everyone had a little radio or tape recorder and a set of ear buds. I have no idea where they got them. But, they did have placards next to each painting with explanations, so I did okay.

It was indeed as fascinating as I’d hoped. I spent almost the whole hour wandering the various galleries in the Special Exhibit hall. There were a lot of people, but not so many that you couldn’t get right up to the paintings.

At one point, one of the many museum staffers walked up to me and asked me if I was missing my party. I smiled at her and asked her just what she had in mind. She laughed and said a woman and her kids reported that their Grandfather had wandered off and he had a cane. Since I had mine (I knew there would be a lot of walking on tile floors) she thought it might be me. I said, "No, its not me."

After I finished the tour, I wandered around the museum itself. Now, if you’ve never been there, here’s how Wiki describes it:

“The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is a renowned art museum in the city of Detroit. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars. With over 100 galleries, it now covers 658,000 square feet (61,130 m²) The museum building is highly regarded by architects. The original building, designed by Paul Philippe Cret, is flanked by north and south wings with the white marble as the main exterior material for the entire structure. It is part of the city's Cultural Center Historic District and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.”

If I remember correctly, the last time I was there was with Lu and the boys. She was fascinated by the paintings on the high ceiling in either the Great Hall or the Riviera Court, so she laid down in the middle of the marble floor and took pictures. The boys and I stood off to the side and amused ourselves by watching the faces of the people who walked by her.

I spent another hour or so and only got through these galleries: European, Inspired by Italy; Ancient Greek and Roman; European, Medieval and Renaissance; the Great Hall (with it’s fascinating suits of armor) and just part of the American Gallery. Then my legs began to give out.

So, I walked out and retrieved my car from the parking lot behind the museum ($5.00 for all day parking! Compare that to what I paid to be a juror). Then I hit the road and got really, really lost. I ended up in Highland Park instead of Hamtramck! (Well, they both start with “H” right?) So, I had to backtrack and finally found I-75. I did find Hamtramck, but not Holbrook Ave.

Now, Hamtramck is not that big. Back when I was a lad, it was the Polish section of Detroit (like Corktown was the Irish section), but it has a much more varied population now. I suppose many of the kids moved out and on and the old folks died off. I think the last time (and probably the only time) I was there was either just before or just after I married Fran. We went there so I could meet her Grandparents and her Aunt Lorraine.

Anyway, I sort of quartered the area (I passed the Kowalski sausage factory about three times, BTW). This was not easy as many of the narrow original streets have been turned into one-way streets. I finally found Holbrook and then drove up and down it to find the next street, Charest. From there it was easy to find my destination: Yemans Avenue. Please note: the title “Avenue” is a bit misleading. It’s a little one-way street you can barely get through when there are cars parked.

What was worth all this effort? I was watching Guy Fieri’s show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” a week or two ago. It was an episode called, “Doing it Old School” (I think) and one of the restaurants featured with the Polish Village Café in Hamtramck.

According to their website: “In 1925, Mr. Pilecki built a 31-room gentleman's hotel with a rathskeller at 2990 Yemans Street.

The hotel was home to their rich customs and trades to the city of Hamtramck.

In the 1940's and 50's Hamtramck's population surged to over 50,000 as more immigrants arrived to man the city's factories. The Bakerstreet car line took people north and south on Joseph Campau, which was then the second busiest shopping district in the nation. Walking through the neighborhood at that time, you could feel the hospitality and smell the fine cooking typical of the European villages.

In 1976, Mr. Pilecki's cellar beer garden became the Polish Village Café. His tradition of welcoming immigrants and their descendents continues to this day.”

I had to check it out.

It was indeed in the basement of a house. I thought I was being clever by going in the afternoon, so it wouldn’t be crowded. Again, nay, nay. It was packed, with people standing at the bar, waiting for a table. Thankfully, there was only me and there was a one person table against the wall. Naturally, as busy as it was, service was a little slow, so it gave me time to people watch.

I don’t think I’ve seen that many Polish people in one place in my life (well, maybe back in the day at weddings when they would play Polkas). Many of them were speaking Polish. Speaking of people watching, I had forgotten how pretty young Polish girls were. The menu was in Polish, with English subtitles. Oh, and they don’t take credit cards – remember that and don’t mess up.

A friendly waiter (I was hoping for one of the friendly, busty waitresses, actually) finally brought me a bread basket (rye bread) and a glass of water and took my order.

Since I didn’t recognize half the dishes (well, I did recognize the SLEDZIE W SMIETANIE (Herring in sour cream) but at 3:30 in the afternoon?) I ordered the POLSKI TALERZ (Polish plate), billed as "A Taste of Poland." It consisted of stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa, sauerkraut and mashed potato. I picked the dill pickle soup as my starter.

Now, I’ve had dill pickle soup before in a Livonia restaurant, but this was better.

When it came, the food was excellent. The stuffed cabbage was huge (I could have made a meal out of that alone), the kielbasa was great and so juicy every time I cut into it, grease shot out on my shirt and the mashed potatoes and gravy were good too.

The only thing that tasted a bit weird was the sauerkraut. It was done old school, alright. It had cooked so long it looked like caramelized onions. When I make mine, I heat it just through, so it is still white and a little crunchy. This was more like my Mother used to make.

I managed to eat most of it (I couldn’t finish the mashed potatoes and the sauerkraut). I went to the rest room (mostly to check out the open kitchen – while there was one or two younger women, most of the cooks were older grandma-looking ladies). I paid my bill ($7.30) and left a good tip for my waiter.

I got up the stairs (no ADA accommodations, here) and got my car out of the parking lot. Having been over it so many times, it was easy to get back to I-75 and head for home. I got there about 5:30 PM.

I missed the Michigan Ohio State game, but I did see Michigan win it on the bar TV at the Café. First time is 7 or 8 years, I believe. My legs really hurt, so I alternated between reading and watching TV for the rest of the evening.

I did talk with B___ who called to see if I did really go to the DIA, like I had mentioned (back in college, he had started out as an art major and had been to the DIA several times, so he was interested). I told him all about my adventures and he told me he had managed to diagnose his furnace problem, bought a part and got it going again. Sidebar: I wish I could do things like that. I always end up paying somebody to repair things for me.

I washed the bedding while I watched another excellent Redwings game. They are kicking butt!

About 8:00 PM, I was still too full for dinner, but I wanted something. So, I made my Thanksgiving dessert: Maple Cream Berries and Walnut Ice Cream. This was a Rachel Ray recipe, BTW.

I had a half-pint of raspberries and a half-pint of blackberries (my favorite berry) and a pint of strawberries that I cleaned and quartered. Two pints of any mixed berries will do, BTW.

I combined 1/2 cup of maple syrup, a cinnamon stick, a few grates of fresh nutmeg and one cup of heavy cream in a small pot. Note: I do have that stuff on hand, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use a few sprinkles of regular cinnamon and nutmeg if that’s all you have. I brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to low and simmered it for 20 minutes. Then I removed it from the heat and combined some with the berries.

Since you need to eat this warm, I just put a few of the berries in a small bowl and a little of the maple cream on top. Then I topped them with a scoop of ice cream. The recipe called for one pint black walnut or maple walnut ice cream. I couldn’t find either so I went with plain vanilla, topped with chopped black walnuts. See photos.

This tasted so good I made another small bowl and ate that too. I put the rest of the berries and the rest of the maple cream mixture into separate container in the fridge for tomorrow. I bet that maple cream and berry mixture would taste great on pancakes or a waffle, too.

My legs still hurt, so I went to sleep around 9:00 PM, pleased with my day’s adventures.
 
Thanksgiving dessert, two days late!
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A Rembrandt painting (taken from the DIA website)
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday

I had trouble sleeping again so, I wrote most of the Blog entry in the middle of the night. When I finally went back to bed, I set my alarm for 7:30 AM. I had a 9:00 AM appointment to get my haircut.

Michelle (my barber), Big George (the owner) and I all shared our Thanksgiving stories. I made sure to tell them how pleased I was with Ken Clock Service (if you remember, I got his name off their bulletin board) and told them I would recommend him to anyone. They thanked me and said it was good to know.

After my haircut, I went to Kroger’s (just down the street) and bought a few items. I had hoped to pick up a couple of 10-12 pound frozen turkeys they had on sale for 59 cents a pound. I was just going to stick them in my freezer for whenever (you can’t beat the price). Most of the turkeys they had were 18-20 pound beasts, though. But, after much searching (I wish I’d worn gloves. Those damn things are COLD!) I found one 13 pound bird, so I snagged it.

I picked up some ham hocks for split pea soup someday. I also bought two deep dish pie crusts. I figured one good way to use up the gravy and leftover turkey was to make a turkey pot pie. I could have made a turkey shepherd’s pie and got rid of the mashed potatoes as well, but I am not that fond of shepherd’s pie, myself.

Back home, it was sunny and 49 degrees F. It’s supposed to get up to 60 degrees today, but the wind (10-15 MPH) was keeping it a bit chilly.

I went out to the patio and rolled the grille back up front. I started more charcoal, not because I planned on grilling anything, but so I could heat up the grates and clean them before I put the grille away for the winter.

While the charcoal was heating, I took out some Windex and a roll of paper towels and washed the picture window. It took a lot of time and a lot of paper towels, but I got ‘er done! Then I cleaned the grille grates and left the grille open so the charcoal would burn out.

I made a turkey sandwich (well, eventually two) for lunch. Now, some people add lettuce or toast the bread for crunch. I don’t. I like turkey sandwiches like I used to eat as a kid: just plain white bread, turkey, salt and Miracle Whip. Yes, I said “Miracle Whip.” It’s true, I use Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or on rare occasions, make my own – it’s pretty simple with a food processor) for everything else. But a turkey sandwich doesn’t taste like a “turkey sandwich” without Miracle Whip (it’s what my Mom used).

So, anyway, I ate two of them with two McClures pickles (both for the crunch and as a palate cleaner). They were delicious!

I started watching the Red Wings game (hey, it had to beat watching the Lions on Thanksgiving). But, the turkey worked its magic and I fell asleep. I took a nice nap and woke up near the end of the third quarter and the score was tied. The Red Wings won in overtime! That’s more like it!

I went out in the garage to get an acorn squash out of my “root cellar.” I planned on baking the two I had on Thanksgiving, not to eat them, but just because I would have the oven on. I think I even mentioned that to Jake. But, like the cornbread, I forgot.

When I took out the acorn squash, I found a rutabaga stored in there was sprouting. Unacceptable! So, I peeled the rutabaga, cut it into 3/4 inch cubes and boiled it until fork tender. I put a little of the rutabaga in a bowl, buttered and salted it and then ate it as a snack (I like rutabagas!) The rest I put in a container and stuck in the fridge, once it had cooled.

I went back outside again. It was just beautiful weather outside (oh, I know, not “South Carolina” beautiful, or “North Carolina” beautiful or even “Virginia” beautiful, but for this time in Michigan, it’s gorgeous! I’ve spent many a Thanksgiving, driving home in snow.

I got in the mail. While I was at the mailbox, I pulled out the dead flowers in the planter. It looked a little bare, so I went into the attic and got my fake poinsettias. I stuck them in, but the wind blew them around a lot. Since the ground is still frost-free, I put in the driveway wands (snow plowing guides) as well. See photos.

It was near twilight, so I dragged the now-cooled grille into the garage (hoping it didn’t set off the carbon monoxide sensors) and buttoned everything up for the evening.

I watched the news and then started on my dinner. I cut the one squash in half and deseeded it. Then I used the toaster oven to bake the two halves two ways: one savory and one sweet. The first I rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled dried parsley, thyme and a sprinkling of kosher salt on it. The other I used my Mom’s recipe and put butter and brown sugar in the cavity. I baked them at 400 degrees for about and hour and 15 minutes.

Just before they were done, I warmed up some turkey and dressing topped with gravy. I ate the sweet half of the squash for this meal. Do I need to mention that it was damn good?

I watched an old movie, Ivanhoe, (1952, starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor) but fell asleep before it finished.

Friday, November 25, 2011

 
My Holday mailbox garden and a driveway wand
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Got this via email: It's a picture of the first turkey my grandaughter ever made. Tasty looking!!
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Book snippet

(Can you even have a "book" snippet?)

"Being single can be confusing. On the one hand, you sometimes yearn for the simple comfort of companionship; someone to discuss your day with, someone with whom you can celebrate a raise or a tax refund, someone who'll commiserate when you're down with a cold. On the other hand, once you get used to being alone (in other words, having everything your way), you have to wonder why you'd ever take on the aggravation of a relationship. Other human beings have all these hotly held opinions, habits and mannerisms, bad art and peculiar taste in music, not to mention mood disorders, food preferences, passions, hobbies, allergies, emotional fixations and attitudes that in no way coincide with the correct ones, namely yours."

"M" is for Malice
~ Sue Grafton

Gobble ‘til you wobble!

I slept lousy on Thanksgiving eve, with insomnia kicking in around 2:00 AM. I finally fell back asleep around 5:00 and slept until 7:00.

I put on a pot of coffee and put a load in the washer. I warmed up some of that white sausage gravy and ate it over a piece of buttered toast (the biscuits were long gone).

I had the Thanksgiving parade from Detroit on the TV and watched it whenever I could.

I decided to continue my dinner prep and the first thing I did was to sharpen all my knives. Then I thinly sliced two leeks. I tried something different for washing the leeks. I sliced them and put them in a big bowl of water. I swished them around a bit and let them sit (the theory is that any sand falls to the bottom of the bowl). Then I put them in my salad spinner to extract any excess water.

I sautéed them in butter and olive oil. When they were getting soft, I pulled them off the heat and let them cool. I reserved 1/2 cup for my side dish and put the rest back in the big bowl (after I washed it). To that, I added four stalks of celery I sliced. I didn’t sauté the celery as I think I want the crunch in my dressing (did I mention I’m making this recipe up?) Then I quartered the button mushrooms left over from the slow cooker tuna and pasta casserole. I sautéed them and let them cool as well.

Next I cut four thick strips of bacon into lardons and cooked them until they were just starting to get crunchy. I drained them on paper towels and added them to the bowl.

Jacob called to wish me a happy Thanksgiving and we talked for a while. Since I was already on the couch and it was after 10:00 AM, I called Lu in Florida and Sadie in Virginia to wish them both a happy Thanksgiving as well.

Then B___ called. He was NOT having a happy Thanksgiving. His furnace completely died during the night and he was supposed to have 13 people coming for dinner. He had a space heater in the one bathroom and was cooking the 18 pound turkey in the oven more for heat than for dinner.

Then I made a mixture of one cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of melted butter and one beaten egg. I tossed in a bag of Pepperidge Farm cubed herb stuffing, mixed it well and let it sit and get happy for 10 minutes. Then I added the sautéed leeks, mushrooms, chopped celery, bacon, some snipped chives and about 1/2 cup of grated Gruyere cheese. I mixed everything together and put it in my buttered casserole dish. Once the oven was preheated to 350 degrees, I put the casserole dish in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Melissa called to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. She is decorating their tree while Dave is watching the Lions football game (I have it on here, too). She had what I considered to be a brilliant idea for putting on the Christmas tree lights. They always buy a fresh-cut tree and I can remember, back in the day, what a pain stringing the lights was. It really takes two people. But, she got some of those net lights they sell to put on your outside bushes. So, she just drapes the net over the tree!

My dressing was done when we were talking so I pulled it out for a while. Then I put it back in the oven to keep warm.

After we hung up, I rolled the grille out around back to the patio (I normally do this on the garage apron). Timing will be everything with this dinner, and that way I could see when the smoke stopped and I needed to add more wood chips (soaking in a bucket) and/or charcoal and not leave the kitchen. I got the charcoal lit and the grille set up for indirect smoking.

Then I took the turkey breast out of the fridge. My brother Carl called to express his holiday wishes. He’s going up to Kal and Hannah’s. He mentioned my brother Jim had tried to call me, but couldn’t get through. I checked the messages and found both Jim and my brother Joe had called when I was talking to Melissa. So, I called them both back.

Then it was onto the turkey. I rinsed off the brine and stuck my compound sage butter under the skin in several places. I cut up an apple, a lemon, a carrot, a celery stick and a whole head of garlic.

After I cleaned the grates and oiled them, I stuffed the cavity with some of the veggies and put the rest of them around the turkey. Then I inserted my meat thermometer and set it for 160 degrees. I had a wild hair (Jake said the idea was “sketchy” when I ran it by him earlier) and draped thick-cut bacon over the turkey breast. I thought it might “self baste” that way and might give a good flavor to the turkey. I may have screwed up this year’s bird, but you never know until you try (see photos).

It was just after I took that photo that I realized I didn’t put in the drip pan I had bought! Luckily, I was able to maneuver it under the grates and around the hot charcoal.

Then, I cut up about two pounds of unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes (I want this to be creamy, BTW. If you want mashed potatoes to be fluffy, use Russets.) Then I peeled three parsnips. I am making these proportions up, BTW. I saw this done once on a cooking show, but could not find the recipe with the ratio of potatoes to parsnips. I put the potatoes in a colander and rinsed them off repeatedly (to get rid of some of the starch). Then the potatoes and parsnips were put in a large pan with cold water and brought to a boil. I simmered them until the parsnips were fork tender (about 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile, I was still adding woodchips and checking the thermometer. When the potatoes and parsnips were done, I drained them and returned them to the pot over low heat, stirring them to dry them out.


I ran the now drained and dried potatoes and parsnips through the food mill (you could also use a ricer, but I don’t have one). This takes care of the potato peels and the stringiness of the parsnips. I had already melted eight tablespoons of butter (one stick) in a saucepan and added one cup of heavy cream.

I folded in the warm cream mixture and covered the pan, adding it to the warm oven.

Then I got started on the gravy. This was originally from an old Family Circle recipe (my Mother used to get that magazine, BTW). I cut it in half as the original recipe made eight cups of gravy! So, I melted three tablespoons of butter in a large-sized sauce pan. Then I added in three cups of chicken broth.

You were supposed to now use a large bowl with a pouring spout. Not having one, I used my four-cup measuring cup. In that I put one cup of chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon of what they called “Gravy Starter” (which only means Kitchen Bouquet) and 1/3 cup of white flour (I used AP flour, but they suggested using something called “Wondra” if you wanted the gravy thicker). I was whisking all that together when the phone rang (around 5:30 PM).

It was Carla’s Mother, calling to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving.” Damn! I knew there was somebody I forgot to call!! We chatted for a bit and then, after we hung up, I went back to whisking.

I gradually added the flour slurry to the simmering broth, stirring with a whisk to incorporate. I added in 1/8 teaspoon of poultry seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. I increased the heat to medium-high and brought it to a full boil. Once boiling, I cooked it three minutes or so until it thickened. According to the Family Circle recipe, you can test the thickness of the gravy by drawing your finger on the back of a wooden spoon. If a distinct line forms, the gravy is ready.

I went outside and checked and the temperature alarm was going off. So, I pitched the bacon and all the veggies onto the lawn for the wild things, put the turkey on a platter and took it inside.

I let it rest on the counter while I made my side dish. In a large skillet, I melted one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil together over medium-high heat. I added one cup of sliced baby Portobello mushrooms and cooked them until they begin to soften (about three to four minutes). Here’s where you would add the raw sliced leeks and a clove of minced garlic and cook until tender (about 3 minutes) But, since I had my leeks already sautéed, I just put in the garlic for three minutes and then threw in the leeks.

I added in 1/4 cup of vegetable broth, one tablespoon of heavy whipping cream, one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. I cooked that for two minutes. Then I added two cups of fresh baby spinach and lowered the heat. I stirred the spinach frequently, until it wilted (about 2 minutes). I sprinkled in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stirred it all to combine.

I carved the turkey by cutting off both breasts and cutting two thick slices from one of them. I plated everything and began my feast. It was about that time I realized I never made my corn bread! You remember, the one I bought the mold for?

Instead of being upset, I just smiled. My Mother had a long history, back in the day when the whole family ate in the living room on the farm, of forgetting to make or forgetting to serve something. So, I guess I inherited her genes.

The results were as follows:

Turkey – best damn turkey I ever made! Not sure if it was the brine, the compound butter or the bacon, but it was moist, smoky and just delicious.

Gravy – too thin and, without the giblets or turkey drippings, it tasted like chicken gravy, not turkey.

Mashed potatoes and parsnips – excellent texture with just a hint of parsnips. Maybe one more parsnip would have been better or, maybe that would have made it too strong. Definitely a keeper recipe, though.

Cranberry Relish – Fantastic, even though I don’t normally like cranberry “relish” (I was raised on the canned jelly stuff). But, this was great!

Dressing – Fantastic as well! For just making it up, it tasted excellent.

Buttery Spinach and Mushrooms – Just so-so. I wish I’d gone with my original idea of making the peas and pearl onions again.

I ate way too much (I just had to go back for seconds). It was late enough that, after everything cooled and I put it away, then washed the pots and pans and ran a load in the dishwasher, I was still too full to even contemplate making my mixed berry dessert. Oh well, I still have three more days off…
 
Turkey, set to smoke
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

 
The San Jose Thanksgiving decorations
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“It’s time to grab life by the bra strap and give it a wedgie!”

(No, I didn’t make that up, but I like it!)

It was a little warmer when I woke up on Wednesday. My rain gauge has long been inside now, but judging from the puddles, we got a lot of rain on Tuesday. I forgot that I wanted to check each down spout when it was raining to make sure they are all working. Oh well, I'm sure it will rain again.

One nice thing about waking up was I didn't have a stuffy nose! That humidifier works!!

Naturally, the day wore on, all of us waiting for 5:00 PM. I did have an interesting religious discussion with my cubicle mate, Michelle. I’m not sure what caused it, but I mentioned that I believed God was a woman, because no guy would allow the sh*t that happens to happen. She claimed God had the properties of both a woman and a man.

I used my ultimate augment. I said that, as men get older, our ears and nose continue to grow, right? She said, yes, she knew that. I said well, I was just a guy, not a god (although some women have mentioned that... – okay, I am making that up) but the ears and nose were not the first area I would have concentrated on, if I was picking out places that continued to grow!

She laughed so hard I was glad she wasn’t drinking milk! That ended our debate.

Finally, it was quitting time and I left for home, carrying the Thanksgiving decoration Vicky and I made. I kept forgetting to wish people a “Happy Holiday” or a “Good Thanksgiving,” you see. I blamed it on the lack of Thanksgiving decorations in our office. So, earlier, I made one of those turkey “hands” the kids used to draw when they were young. I couldn’t get real amazing with the colors as I only had Highlighters, not Crayolas. Vicky said it needed a title, so she wrote “Happy Turkey Day” on it and we hung it up.

Back home, I hung it on the fridge to inspire me.

I watched the evening news and talked a bit with Jeremy on his way home from work. Then I started prepping for tomorrow’s feast.

Now, I know they say you can prepare such things as pies, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and even the stuffing a day or two before. You just have to reheat them in the oven while your turkey is resting. But, that assumes you are making a turkey in the oven. So, I figure the mashed potatoes and parsnips and the stuffing can wait until tomorrow.

But, I do need to get the turkey breast in the brine. Since I am making that, I figured I’d do the Cranberry Relish (which needs to be cold) as well.

First, I tested the size of the turkey breast in a stock pot that would fit in the refrigerator. One of the nice things about living in Michigan is that, this time of year, you can use the whole outside as a refrigerator. But, I have my friend the possum and, as much as I like him, I don’t want him eating my Thanksgiving turkey! So, it needs to go in the fridge. I found the perfect one and then began to make the brine.

In a large pot, I combined two quarts of my homemade vegetable stock (you could use store-bought, if you're a pussy), 3/4 cup of Kosher salt (use 1/2 cup if you just have table salt), 1/2 cup of sugar, and the herbs (one tablespoon each of dried rosemary, sage,and thyme) over a medium heat. I simmered that (whisking occasionally) for about 15 minutes until the salt was completely dissolved. I removed it from the heat and set it out on the patio to cool (I didn't think the possum would drink it).

While that was happening, I made my Cranberry Walnut relish. This is a rip-off of a secret Boston Market recipe that Food Network did. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t find anybody who had actually tasted it, so I’m not sure why this should be so special. But, here’s what I did:

I finely grated the zest of half an orange into a medium saucepan, then squeezed in all of the juice. I added in two cups of fresh cranberries, 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts (I used black walnuts to honor my trees, not that I actually used my own black walnuts, I just bought them) and 3/4 cups of sugar. I cooked that over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickened and the cranberries started to pop (about 10 minutes). I took it off the heat and let it cool. It tasted fantastic, BTW. Those of you who said you’d been to Boston Market but never had this relish don’t know what you are missing!

Back to the brine. I took it inside and mixed in two quarts of cold water. Now, you are supposed to put the turkey in a large, non-reactive (read plastic) container. Some people with a whole turkey use a cooler.

But, I don’t have a big turkey and don’t have a small plastic container. So, I bought one of those plastic “brining bags” that Reynold's makes. I put that in the stock pot, added the now rinsed-off turkey and poured my brine over it to cover. I stuck it in the fridge to cure overnight. By the way, if you are using a whole big bird, the recipe says to brine one hour per pound.

I put the now-cooled Cranberry Walnut relish in a container and in the fridge as well.

I was hungry, but more than tired of standing over the stove, so I just heated up a can of Hormel chili. I ate that watching taped TV shows and went to bed early.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Garbage Day

I took the trash to the road in a sharp, cold North wind. Brrr…

At work, Vicky said the Christmas tree fell over because it was missing one leg on the stand. I told her I’d check my attic and car trunk as it was standing up before I picked it up and loaded it.

I had to run to Bed Bath & Beyond in Westland, so I ate lunch at the Newburgh Grille. I had a cup of the bean and ham soup (they make pretty good bean and ham soup, but don’t even try the chicken and dumpling soup – it totally sucks) and a patty melt (what can I say? I like patty melts!)

At Bed bath & Beyond I bought a humidifier (I had a 20% off coupon). My nose has been stuffed up in the morning and I would have normally just went up in the attic and got mine, but I realized I threw it away at the end of last winter.

The rain started at 1:00 PM instead of the 6:00 PM they forecast on the morning news. So, I was stuck with just my jacket, not my raincoat. Believe it or not, it was pitch-black, nighttime dark at like 4:00 PM. Driving home on the expressway in the dark and the rain was interesting.

In for the night, I went up into the attic before I changed clothes. I have lights in the attic, but I even took a flashlight with me to look under things. But, there was no sign of a missing tree stand foot.

I watched the evening news and then warmed up the rest of the meatloaf and a baked potato for dinner. This time I warmed up a jar of store-bought beef gravy. That totally fixed the “blandness” problem.

I watched a little TV after setting up the humidifier, but I went to bed early.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday’s Notes

Monday was rather uneventful. I did pick up some bird seed and suet cakes at the Feed Store during my lunchtime.

I had that cabbage soup from Michelle for lunch. Wow! She wasn’t kidding about it being hotter! I think my toes are just now starting to uncurl. It was so hot that I was afraid to fart the rest of the afternoon, for fear of causing some sort of fiery explosion! And, try NOT to fart after eating cabbage soup!!

I vacuumed the whole house after the evening news. That was one of those things I didn’t get to over the weekend and the cat hair was beginning to pile up.

I toned it down a bit for dinner and just had some of the leftover casserole from Saturday. It heated up well, which pleased me. Some things turn dry when microwaved.

I watched the new Anthony Bourdain series, “Layover” at 9:00 PM on the Travel Channel and then went to bed at 10:00 PM.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Suddenly Sunday

I woke up (finally) at a little after 8:00 PM on Sunday. I put on a pot of coffee, turned on Sunday Morning, Over Easy and filled in the rather extensive Blog entry. I had another cup of coffee sitting on the couch, listening to music.

I finally got off my butt and finished the weekend wash. While that was going through, I did minor chores like wind the clock, clean out the kitty litter, take out the trash, etc.

I shaved and showered and then made that white sausage gravy and some drop biscuits for my brunch. The biscuits were a little hard, but with the gravy, it all worked out. I had waited too long, so I ate too much.

I watched a Food Network Special “Thanksgiving Live” from noon to 2:00 PM. It was informative and entertaining as well.

Then I got my coat on and went outside. I used the grass whip in the very back garden and cut down most of the weeds. Then I cut the three remaining roses back and covered them with their Styrofoam winter covers. I filled up the bird feeder and went back inside.

I got a call from Jake, who invited me down for Thanksgiving. Actually, he invited me to come down on Friday and bring all my leftovers! Hmmm… If I had the money and they made insulated suitcases, I might have taken him up on that.

I washed up and started making my Sunday supper, meat loaf. I had thawed out the remaining 3/4 pound each of the ground sirloin and the ground pork. So, I chopped up a yellow onion and some of the green peppers I froze in the fall. I soaked two shredded hot dogs buns in some milk. I squeezed out the milk and put the buns in a bowl with the onions, green peppers, some dried thyme and dried Rosemary and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

I added in the meat and an egg, and then mixed everything together. I put it in a loaf pan, lined with tin foil. I usually form it into a loaf and put in on a rack over a half sheet pan, but I don’t feel like dealing with the mess tonight.

While the oven was preheating, I scrubbed four russet potatoes, punched some holes in them with a fork and smeared them with butter. When the oven was ready, I put the meat loaf in and placed the potatoes directly on the upper rack (with a half sheet pan on the rack below to catch any drips). I set the timer for an hour.

When the timer went off a little after 6:00 PM, I checked on the food. The potatoes needed a bit more time and the meatloaf was swimming in grease (which is why I don’t normally use this method – shame on me for being lazy!)

I poured off the grease as best as I could, squirted some ketchup on top (my substitution for a glaze, another bit of laziness) and set the timer for 15 more minutes. I steamed some frozen sweet corn while I waited.

Finally it was time and plated everything. My potato was perfection! The corn was good (hard to screw up frozen sweet corn, lol!) But, the meatloaf was incredibly BLAND! All I tasted was the meat and onions. No herbs or seasonings. I should have used way more of both, I guess.

I adjusted the salt and pepper level on each piece (I ate two), but it was pretty disappointing – filling, but disappointing. Oh well, next time…

I watched my Sunday night shows and went to bed around midnight. Oh, the late night news said it was snowing pretty hard in Minnesota. Sorry, Amy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Saturday Story

I woke up just before 5:00 AM on Saturday. It was much warmer (41 degrees here in Redford) and supposed to be a sunny and warmer day today. Winds will be a concern, though, as the high pressure system bringing the warmth will be accompanied by stronger winds.

I made a pot of coffee and then filled in the Blog. Since Scruffy was sleeping on the daybed in the office and Caley was up on the computer table with me, I took the opportunity to strip the bed. I put the bedding in the washer and me in the shower (after I shaved). Then I headed out on my normal Saturday morning errands run.

I say that as I keep getting calls on Saturday morning from people who should know better. I’m not here, okay? Read the freakin’ Blog! I am getting a hair cut, doing grocery shopping, picking up some bird seed, filling up the car’s gas tank, going to the library, stopping at GFS, getting something from Home Depot or Meijer’s that I need for the weekend’s projects or SOMETHING. But, I am NOT “in the house” Saturday morning!

If you want to talk to me on Saturday, please call after 12:00 PM and I may answer (assuming I am here and/or not outside). You know who you are and ‘nuff said.

Okay, now that I have that rant done, let’s continue...

I hit the gas station and filled my tank. I also got three cans of Copenhagen. Then I went to the Post Office. I was a bit shocked that it wasn’t opened yet, at 8:50 AM. I guess I am still thinking it’s a 24/7 post office, like it was before all the budget cuts.

But there were Christmas stamps, which is why I went there, in the machine in the lobby. Unfortunately, you have to use a credit or debit card to get them (and I had the stupid cash in my pocket!) Oh, well, I got ‘er done.

Next, I went to Kroger’s and got the rest of the grocery items I needed (some of the basic things are either not there or too expensive at Westborn). But, they didn’t have any fresh sage or shallots! I forgot them and so it’s back to Westborn.

On the way to Westborn, I stopped in to Zeda’s Coney Island for breakfast. I occasionally treat myself to breakfast here on the weekends. It’s a dive and built shotgun style (20 feet wide and really deep). I doubt it could hold 100 people, even if they all crammed in. Speaking of shotguns, if you fired off a round of double-ought buckshot through the front window, you would probably kill everyone in the place.

But, I digress. It has an eclectic, eccentric clientele (old bikers with dew rags, old folks in general and the occasional young family of five or more) and, it has something Jeremy would love, a 10-seat counter. I still don’t know why he likes to sit at a counter, but oh well...

Why do I eat there? Well, for two reasons: one is to people-watch and the other is I can get a great tasting breakfast of two over-easy eggs, three sausage links, more hash browns than a normal person could ever eat and rye toast for just $3.59. On a weekend!!!

Thus fortified, I breezed through Westborn and headed home. I unpacked my stuff and then put the bedding in the dryer. Next I put my work shirts in the washer.

I took a phone call from B___ (it was after 12:00 PM, so I didn’t yell at him). We talked for a long time (not “Melissa” long, but long for us). I did apologize for my call to him last Wednesday. I had taken the afternoon off, if you remember and worked outside. When I got in I was hurting, so I took a couple of Vicondin (first time in a long time) and, according to him, I sounded pretty screwed up. God only knows what I said to Lu, who I called afterwards…

When we hung up, I got my stuff together and went outside to drain the reflecting pool. First I used a net to get out all the leaves.

I had purchased a drill motor pump (like the one I have used successfully in the past) and used that, the two old washer hoses and my drill motor. But, the little pump didn’t work! I checked to make sure I had the right hose in the water, etc. All in all, I screwed around with it for about an hour before I gave up.

I got a small bucket and a used can and bailed the damn thing out. I put on the lid (which barely fits and lets water in over the winter) and then got a bright idea. I put the unused drier platform on top of it, both to hold it down and extend the coverage.

Back inside, I took a break and checked the TV shows. I ended up watching “Rooster Cogburn” the sequel to “True Grit.”

When that was over, I started making my dinner. It will be the first slow cooker recipe from that new cookbook.

So, per instructions, I used a medium sized skillet (don’t! It turns out to be too small, later). I melted two tablespoons of butter and then sautéed two medium shallots (diced) and eight ounces of mushrooms (quartered) until softened (about five minutes). Then I sprinkled on two tablespoons of flour, and cooked it for a minute or so, until it was incorporated.

Then I added one cup of chicken stock and one can of condensed milk. I brought that to a boil and stirred it (to avoid clumps) until it formed a thin white sauce. I then added three ounces of softened cream cheese and three ounces of goat cheese.

I stirred that until it all melted. Then I added a can of solid white albacore tuna (drained and flaked) and a heaping cup of frozen peas.

While all that was going on, I was also boiling eight ounces of penne pasta until just before al dente. Don’t overcook this, you want it undercooked.

I drained the pasta and was supposed to add it to the sauce, but the skillet was too small. So, I prepared the slow cooker, spraying it with non-stick cooking spray. Then I put in the pasta, added the sauce and mixed it all together.

I made the topping by combining 1/2 cup of crushed corn flakes (do you know how much a box of those suckers cost? I thought cereal was cheap!) with two tablespoons of melted butter. I mixed them well (to make sure everything was coated. Then I added a cup of shredded sharp cheddar, working it into the crumbs and spread that on top of the pasta mixture.

It was getting late, and cooking it on LOW would take four hours, so I cooked it on HIGH for two hours.

I went in and made up my bed. Then I used the cheese cloth I got at Kroger to further strain my vegetable stock. I got just over five four-cup containers. I labeled them all and three went in the freezer (for some other time), two in the fridge (for the turkey brine Wednesday night).

I also made some herb butter (also known as compound butter). I chopped up some sage (I ended up with about 1/4 cup) and put that in a bowl with a stick of softened butter. I used a fork to work it all in. Then I put the butter on some waxed paper and formed it into a tube. I stuck that into the freezer to harden. See photos. Any combination of herbs works, BTW.

Now, I normally keep a roll of butter and chives in the freezer. It’s perfect to top a steak with. But, this butter I intend on working under the skin of the turkey breast.

I hung up my work shirts and put the pants and socks in the washer.

By that time, the slow cooker was done, so I plated some up. It was very, very good! Sort of like tuna and peas, but with pasta and kicked up a notch by the cheese. This one is definitely a keeper!

I watched a hockey game (the Edmonton Oilers kicked Chicago’s butt!). Then I started catching up on taped cooking shows. I was tired, but not sleepy, if you know what I mean. I finally watched a concert with James Taylor and Carole King I had taped from the PBS channel. I dozed off and on through it and finally shut off the TV around 5:00 AM.

Song Snippet

“Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well they'll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don't you let them.”

~ Carole King
 
Fresh sage leaves, pulled from the stems and ready for chopping. The water on the cutting board is a result of sticking them in a glass of water when I got home.
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Combining the softened butter and the fine-chopped sage
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Sage herb butter, ready for the freezer
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I found this facinating! This is a recipe Jaques Pepin wrote on a napkin.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ups and Downs on Friday

Friday, and more of the same… It was 27 degrees F. when I woke up, with a predicted high of 47 degrees. There was some wind, but sunny skies and no precipitation forecasted.

I took the Christmas tree into work. I got the top and the bottom branches in the trunk, but had to slide the main thing into the back seat. Glancing up at the rear view mirror, I realized I looked like I was hiding in a forest.

Vicky suggested we transfer it to her car just before lunch. But, she got called out to another building. So, I ended up going to Westborn with the dumb thing stuck in back.

At Westborn, I picked up all the veggies, mushrooms, herbs and cheeses I need for my Thanksgiving dinner. I had also planned on picking up some of their hot, homemade clam chowder for my lunch. I was disappointed there was none in the soup bar. But, there was a “Seafood Bisque,” with lobster, shrimp and crab. I got that instead.

Back home, I had enough time to put away the things that needed refrigeration, put the mushrooms in a small paper bag, etc. and eat my soup before I had to head back.

The soup was excellent, BTW. It reminded my of that shrimp bisque I made a year or two ago and also reminded me I should make it again.

Speaking of soup, my friend Michelle in Facilities brought me over some she had made. It was my daughter Melissa’s cabbage soup recipe that I had shared with her. But Michelle said she kicked it up by adding some leftover Bloody Mary mix and extra hot sauce.

In the afternoon, I did manage to catch up with Vicky and her and I, along with Matt, put the tree parts in her car.

I had to go and get a part at the Apple Store in the Twelve Oaks Mall. I’ve never been there before and it looked like a madhouse! But, there were about an equal number of Apple employees to the customers, so I got in and out with only a short wait.

Finally, it was 5:00 PM and I was heading home. My corn bread mold was in the door. I was surprised at how little it seemed and wished now that I'd bought two of them.

It was just after 6:00 when I got a phone call from a friend, letting me know that Matt (yes, the same Matt who helped with the Christmas tree) had been let go. I admit, I do not understand the direction Management is taking this department. It seems like they are intent on replacing employees who really know their stuff and understand the quirky culture here with new people who are not as technical and have to learn where the buildings are and who’s who in the zoo.

If it’s a cost-cutting measure, it will eventually bite them in the ass. One of the first things I was taught when I got into management years ago was to hire the best people possible, because they would make your department (and, more importantly, you) look good!

Anyway, I was bummed. I did some more work on my Thanksgiving menu. I am making sure I have all the ingredients I need and trying to work out the “start times” for various dishes to ensure everything is on the table and hot at the same time.

I also posted three pictures for you.

Then I started making some vegetable stock, that I need for brining the turkey breast. That may be a misnomer, as I believe that “stock” is always made with bones, so what I am making is “broth.” But, the recipe I was using called it “stock” so I’ll go with that.

I heated about two tablespoons of olive oil in my middle-sized (12 quart) stockpot over medium heat. The I lowered the heat and added a variety of unpeeled, rough-chopped vegetables. I put in six carrots, four celery ribs, two garlic cloves (cut in half horizontally), two big sweet onions that I just quartered, two parsley roots and one big leek, washed and also rough chopped. I cooked them until the vegetables were slightly colored, (about five minutes). Then I stirred in the “magic ingredient” (1/4 cup of ketchup), a tablespoon of whole peppercorns, and all the leftover celery leaves and parsley leaves.

I added enough water to cover. I brought that to a boil, then lowered the heat and simmered it for 30 to 45 minutes (it's important not to cook it for too long).

When I timer went off, I did my initial straining (through a colander into a big, BIG stainless steel bowl). I need to pick up some cheesecloth to strain it again. I let that cool (in the sink with the kitchen window cracked open). Later, I set the bowl (carefully) in the fridge on the cleared top shelf to chill.

While the stock was simmering, I heated up the last of that Italian Stracciatella soup. I ate that for supper and watched TV until 11:00 PM.

Random Thought...

"Just think... If the Indians had given the Pilgrims a donkey instead of a turkey, we would all be having a piece of ass this Thanksgiving!"

~ Thanks! (and you know who you are...)

Friday, November 18, 2011

 
Vegetable stock, in the making
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The stainless steel washer hoses
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My new pre-seasoned cast iron cornbread mold
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Thursday

It was just 21 degrees F. when I woke up on Thursday morning. Worse yet, the predicted high was only 34 degrees with occasional snow showers!

Vicky, one of the techs at work, was asking if anyone knew of an inexpensive place to buy a small fake Christmas tree. I told her I had a 4 1/2 foot one in my attic I would give her. So, after work, I went up in the attic (with my hat, coat and gloves on) and brought it down. I couldn’t find the box, though, but I put some of the bottom branches and the top piece in a box and took the rest down whole. I stuck it all in the car to take to work in the morning. I hope the lights work!

It was too cold to work in the garage, so I finally installed the braided stainless steel water hoses on the washer.

I was on a roll, so I also finally hooked up the DVD player to the TV (and I got it right the first time!)

For dinner, I still had some thawed out, homemade chicken stock and the remaining, uncooked three cheese mini-tortellini left in the fridge (I had bought the Buitoni brand that’s refrigerated).

So, I cooked the tortellini in the chicken stock while I perfumed some extra virgin olive oil with a clove of smashed garlic. I took the garlic out when it started to turn golden (as I’m sure you know, it’s important to watch this closely. If you burn the garlic, it turns the oil bitter.)

When the tortellini was done, I drained it and then drizzled it with some of the garlic olive oil. I tossed it about a bit to let it coat and plated some. I topped it with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and wandered into the bedroom to eat.

I watched to taped shows of the new Top Chef. I didn’t know it was back on until Jake mentioned it. Thanks God Bravo shows them over and over again, so I can catch up.

I went to bed just after 11:00 PM.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday's Woes

Wednesday was supposed to be about 15 degrees cooler, but I took the afternoon off, anyway.

I have got to get the outdoor stuff done, soon!

I stopped on the way home at Home Depot and got another fistful of paint swatches. I am still trying to find the “perfect” match to the matting around my biggest painting. None of these were “perfect” as there seems to be a hint of green in the painting’s matting.

But I got one’s that’s close and will go with it.

I noticed the box in the outer screen door when I drove in. I checked and, sure enough, it was the slow cooker recipe book I ordered. I don’t have time to peruse it now, but I will!

Oh, I forgot mention; I did order a corn bread cast iron pan from Amazon Tuesday night. Its old school (what I wanted) but not an antique. Of the thousands of hits I got to in my search, 90% were antiques. I guess it’s like Lu’s rolling pins or something. There are millions of corn bread molds out there, but people are collecting them instead of using them…

Sidebar: On a funny note, it cost me $8.60 for the pan and another $8.00 for shipping! (sigh) Those cast iron sucker are heavy!

Now, we just have to see if it gets here before Thanksgiving. If they do, I’ll have corn muffin sticks. If it doesn’t, I guess I’ll make Pillsbury Crescent Rolls or something.

After treating the cats, I changed clothes and then went out in the garage to get the implements I needed to accomplish the day’s goals. I got out the line trimmer, the blower, a leaf rake and a 100-foot extension cord (both the line trimmer and the blower are electric, you see).

Back outside, with hat, gloves and winter coat on, I started trimming around the back. About 3/4 of the way through, the line ran out and that’s when things went seriously downhill. I took the end apart and went inside to refill the line. I did that and went back outside. And, couldn’t fine the damn cover! I looked everywhere (outside, inside, the garage, etc.) No cover!!!

So, totally ticked, I gave up and started raking the leaves and plant debris away from the house. Then I used the blower to blow everything into the yard (let the “fall cleanup” guys deal with it!)

Stumped for the moment, I went inside and returned a couple of calls.

I was still stumped, but it was getting dark, so I started making tonight’s supper (I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch and I was starving!) I was getting a bit weary of leftovers (although I am pleased at using them up) so I made some potato and cheese pierogies. I did them in the Sue Plesz style. I sautéed a whole Vidalia onion sliced, in butter, while I boiled the pierogies in salted water. When the pierogies were done, I added them (in batches) to the skillet, putting a nice golden “crunch” on them.

I plated them up with the onions, some salt and topped them with sour cream. They were delicious! I ate too much and I admit it.

I put the remaining (few, LOL) pierogies into the fridge for a snack or lunch, later.

I went to bed early, still wondering WTF happened to that line trimmer bottom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Song Snippet

"Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin is gone"

~ John Mellencamp

A short note about Tuesday

I took the garbage out on the way to work Tuesday morning. It was windy and cold, but the temperature is supposed to hit a whopping 60 degrees F. today. That won’t impress the half of my family that lives down south, but it’s 10 degrees higher than the average for this time of year, here.

I was going to take Tuesday afternoon off as half a vacation day. But, my cubicle buddy, Michelle, already tagged it. She and her husband are going up to Frankenmuth and since I back her up, I need to stay at work.

A lunch, I returned a call from the doctor’s office. She just wanted me to know my blood work was A-Okay! So, I aced the physical and don’t have to go back for six months. Now if I could figure out how to work out the logistics of getting a colonoscopy, she wouldn’t have anything to bug me about.

After work, I worked outside until it was dark (about 20 minutes or so). It was still windy and sure didn’t feel like 60 degrees.

Back inside, I went back to sorting out tools. I quit when I got hungry. This time I warmed up the leftover roast, cabbage and carrots. I watched a little TV, but went to bed early as I was tired.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

It was windy with a light rain here in Redford on Monday morning. It was supposed to get much worse, later, so I was counting my blessings.

I had to go to the Post Office at lunchtime and it was just sprinkling then. A funny thing happened there. I held the door (for a long time) for an elderly woman behind me who also had a package. When we got inside, she insisted that I go first. I gave up arguing when I saw she meant it. But, somehow, she beat me out and was standing there, holding the door for me when I got done!

The rain really started coming down on the way back to work. In fact, there was a very loud thunderstorm in the afternoon, with a high wind that drove the rain sideways at times. Nasty weather!

The rain had stopped, but not the wind, by the time I left for home at 5:00 PM. Everything was still soaking wet though, so no outside work tonight.

The first thing I did was to fill the three squeeze bottles I bought on Saturday at the Richmond Kmart (I don’t have a Kmart near me). I had washed them and let them air dry. I made up the labels at work (I don’t own a label maker, myself). I got the idea from Jake and Carla, who probably got it from somebody else. This will save me from moving the trash container, opening the pantry door and lugging out the big bottles I have of these three frequently used items. I took a couple of pictures for you and posted them.

My goal in the next three days is to finish all the outside work, but it’s a “domino” theory. In order to bring in the outdoor statues, I need to clean the tools and stuff off of the shelves. In order to put away those tools (and the myriad tools scattered throughout the house), the work bench in the garage needs to be cleaned (last cleaned sometime in 2010, I believe).

So, I went out in the garage and got started. It will take me forever! I worked until about 9:00 PM and barely made a dent in the mess.

Unfortunately, this meant I missed Sadie’s call. She was returning my call, asking how her new granddaughter was doing (she was born with a heart defect requiring an operation and has been in the hospital ever since). She said she was off all the tubes and IVs and, if everything goes well, will be coming home on Wednesday. You go, girl!

I didn’t call her back as I know she doesn’t stay up late. I warmed up the last of the mock beef stroganoff and the Kluski noodles for my late-night dinner and went to bed just before midnight.
 
New Squeeze Bottles #1
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New Squeeze Bottles #2
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday

I spent another restless night and still woke up for good at 5:00 AM. So, I put on a pot of coffee and sat on the couch to drink some. I had two cups and then started the last load of wash (misc. towels, the small blanket from the office and my yard jacket – I won’t be needing that anymore this year).

For the first time in a long time, I turned on “Sunday Morning, Over Easy.” It was cloudy, warm and windy today, BTW. So, I did a myriad of small chores, waiting for it to warm up even further outside. Oh, and I did make a quick run to Westborn to get some fresh baby spinach for dinner.

Melissa called and we talked for a long time (imagine that!) So, I didn’t get outside until after 2:00 PM. The first thing I did was to wash all the windows (except for the big picture window. That one’s under the porch so I can get it washed later.)

Then I assembled all the patio furniture, the wheelbarrow, etc. on Jake’s patio. Next, I drained the hoses and coiled them up in the wheelbarrow. Finally, I covered the whole pile with a tarp and tied it down. That’s when the wind became a real problem! The winds were a sustained 20-25 MPH, with gusts up to 35, which made the tarp installation very, very tricky. But, I got ‘er done!

Back inside, it was after 5:00 PM, so I started on my Sunday supper. I made soup: Italian Stracciatella with mini meatballs, cheese tortellini and baby spinach.

To make the meatballs, I put one egg, about 1/3 cup of fine grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a handful of fresh chopped parsley, a pinch of oregano, one clove of garlic, minced, and a teaspoon of Italian-seasoned bread crumbs in a bowl and combined them. Then I added in 1/4 pound of ground pork and 1/4 pound of ground sirloin. I mixed it by hand like you would a meatloaf and then rolled them into balls the size of marbles.

I put six cups of my homemade chicken stock in a large saucepan. I brought it to a simmer over medium heat. Then I added the meatballs and a cup of mini cheese tortellini. I let that simmer about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, I put an egg and some sea salt in a small bowl and whisked it.

I brought the soup back to a bowl and, while stirring briskly, slowly steamed in half the egg (that’s the stracciatella).

To plate, I lined the bottom of my soup bowl with fresh spinach leaves and put the soup over it. I topped it with a little more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Then I ate it. I must say that the soup tasted great, but it looked awful! I tried another bowl just to make sure and, yep, I was right: tastes great, looks bad. This was a Nadia G. recipe, BTW.

I put the rest of the soup in the fridge and watched some Sunday night shows. I went to bed at 11:00 PM, to the sound of the clock chiming.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday's Story

I had set the alarm for the normal time. I didn’t want to be late for my doctor’s appointment, you see. So, since it was early, it gave me time to fill in the Blog for Friday. I put on a pot of coffee and toasted one of the last two bagels from Friday (I took them and the cream cheese home). I smeared the bagel with butter and then cream cheese. I ate that and drank the coffee while I watched some of the morning news. Then I shaved, showered and got ready. Before I left, I put the carrots, garlic and the roast in the slow cooker, added in 2/3 cup of beef broth and turned it on low.

Now, here’s the dilemma: last time I left 1 1/2 hours before my appointment, drove through construction and still got there 45 minutes early. So, today, with no construction reported, I left at 45 minutes before my appointment.

Okay, so with light traffic, no construction and the cruise control set at 9 mph over the limit, I got there 15 minutes late! WTF?

This was my first physical with my lady doctor. It took a long time, but other than the blood work results (which I will have to wait for), I passed with flying colors. She said my EKG was “excellent,” for example.

There were two interesting episodes: One was getting my blood drawn. It took the poor nurse three separate times and three different spots to get my blood (I have crappy veins). I probably didn’t help by asking her, “Hey, are you trying to draw blood or playing pin the tail on the donkey?” She was not amused.

Also it was weird to get checked for hernias and my prostate. I had to hold a paper sheet over my groin area while the doctor felt around under it. She also called a nurse into the room. I told her I’d been in and out of hospitals most of my adult life and I really wasn’t that shy. She laughed, but said it was “policy.”

I left there a little after 11:30 AM. Now, this is where I usually write that I stopped by B___’s or my brother Carl’s. But, it’s supposed to be a nice day and I still have a LOT of outdoor work to do, so I reluctantly pointed the car towards home.

I got home just before 1:00 PM (there was a lot more traffic). The house smelled great from the beef roast, BTW. I treated the cats, checked my email and my voicemail. Both B___ and Lu had called, but they both said I didn’t need to call them back, they’d try again later. But, there was one call I had to return. Ken had called to let me know the clock was done and to ask when he could drop it off. I called and we decided he would be here in an hour.

There was no point in going outside yet. So, I tried to install my dryer platform. Damn! It wouldn’t sit level and the dryer just rocked on top of it!! I pulled it out and jumped on it several times, but I had “glued and screwed” it and it wasn’t moving. I gave up and put everything back just as the doorbell rang.

It was Ken and the clock. The glass door is now attached and the faceplate did not get marked. It’s cleaned with all new bushings and perfect! He said he did have to replace one of the gears for the chime (it’s more like a “bong”). So, I asked him what I owed him. He said $160.00, like he quoted. I said, “Are you sure that’s enough? You didn’t figure on replacing a gear.”

Sidebar: Why do I always end up trying to convince people to charge me more money? I dunno…

He said, “No, $160.00 is the price.” So, I went and got it for him (I’d had it saved in a drawer). The time on the clock was just after the actual time, so he offered to set it right (which means he would have had to go through every hour and half hour to let it bong. I told him I hadn’t heard that sound in like 15 to 20 years and I would like to do it myself. I also told him that if there was a Heaven, my Mother and Grandmother were looking down on him and smiling. He nodded gravely (it was not a corny moment) and bowed to me. I bowed to him, we shook hands and he left.

Sidebar: One of the things I learned in Korea is that bowing to an Asian is a bit tricky. Too little or too much is sort of an insult. So, I duplicated his bow and hoped it was right.

So, I took the time to get the clock set right. About halfway through, I was beginning to wonder if this chime business would keep me awake at night. It turned out to be a non-issue as I always almost close the pocket door between the living room and the kitchen (I leave about eight inches open for the cats to pass through) at night and I never even heard it at all, later.

It also dawned on me that I could have just stopped the clock and let the time catch up, but that dawned on me too late.

So, with that out of the way, I went and put my coat on to get outside. Then the doorbell rang… It was my neighbor Rick and a guy named Chris. I had mentioned to Rick when I was borrowing his ladder I wanted to paint three walls of my living room and the little entry room and asked him if he knew any painters who were good, but inexpensive. So, he brought over Chris to check out the project and give me an estimate.

They measured all the walls and said that it would take two gallons of primer and two gallons of paint (good to know, even if I don’t use him). He said he’d get back to me on a price.

Now, why don’t I just paint the damn room myself? If you remember, Jake, Carla and I painted it the first time. Then, when “somebody” (I’m not naming names here, Carl) called it “pink,” I repainted it alone in a darker “wine” color.

But, I did a crappy job. So crappy, in fact, I ended up ripping off all the moldings and replacing them with expensive stained wood ones. And, I don’t want to screw up these moldings. Besides, I hate painting. In fact, the only person I ever knew who liked to paint rooms was my sister-in-law, Jean.

And, come to think of it, why repaint it at all? Because, with the dark walls and the heavy curtains on either end of the picture window, the room sucks up all the light. Even at noon on a sunny day, you have to turn a light on to read!

So, I thought I’d get it painted in a light cream color and replace the drapes with white tab ones. I already bought the drapes and gave them to my friend Michelle in Facilities. She knows somebody at her church that does sewing and will hem them for me.

It was after 4:00 PM by then, so I turned the slow cooker to “warm” and decided it was too late to get started on any outdoor projects (the sun now sets just after 5:00). So, I started doing the weekend wash.

About 7:00 PM, I shredded about four cups of cabbage (I admit, I had to ask Jake the best way to do it). I turned the slow cooker to “high” and added the cabbage. I put the lid back on and let it steam for about 30 minutes.

Then I plated it and ate the best roast I ever made in a slow cooker! I guess it was the herbs and spices (or maybe the garlic) but it was fantastic. And, the carrots and cabbage was a nice side and a nice change from potatoes.

I watched TV for a little bit and then fell asleep. When I woke up the first time (I woke up all through the night) I put the roast, cabbage and carrots in the fridge and filled up the slow cooker insert to soak.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday

It was cold Friday morning. The rain had stopped and the winds diminished, but were still making their presence felt. Oddly enough, it seemed to get colder as the day worn on.

I stopped at the Looney Bakery on the way in and got a box of bagels and a tub of cream cheese for the crew. When I got to work, however, Michelle had a box of donuts. She reminded me that she had told me on Thursday she would be bringing them for Phyllis’ birthday. I apologized and told her this was certainly not the first time a woman had complained that I didn’t listen to her.

I spent most of the day escorting the Xerox folks around to various buildings. They were doing an inventory of the printers they lease us, writing down key information and marking their locations on the drawings I provided them (that Facilities provided me).

I met them at the Farmington location, and again at the Plymouth location. After we did the buildings in the campus, I rode with them downriver. Jim suggested lunch and asked for suggestions. I said I didn’t care where but Becky (who drove in the night before from Grand Rapids as Jim’s normal “sidekick” was on vacation) said she didn’t like chains and would rather go to some local landmark. Jim said he knew just the place.

So he took us to Miller’s Bar (on Michigan Avenue between Outer Drive and Telegraph in Dearborn). I’d never heard of it, but Jim said it was a favorite of Ford people. It was a little hole in the wall bar with no menus, no plates and even no bill. Jim said you could just get a hamburger or cheeseburger, onion rings or fries.

They bring the food on waxed paper and the drinks in cans with a glass of ice. They use an honor system, so when you’re done, you go up to the cash register and tell them what you had and they tell you what you owe. Oh, and tomato or lettuce, bacon, etc. on the burger? Forgitabboutit! You have a tub of dill pickles, mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper on the table. The only extra you can order is a slice of raw onion (also brought separately on waxed paper).

We all had cheeseburgers (big and 100% ground round) with onions rings and both were excellent! Jim said you had to get there early (we were there at 11:30 AM and had to stand up in the hallway until a table cleared) or you had to wait a long time. Sure enough, by the time we left, there were a lot of people just standing and waiting.

Sidebar: I did check on the Internet to get the location and found you can special order fried chicken or fish sandwiches (in Lent) and they also have a side dish of baked beans (I hope served in a bowl!)

We completed the buildings downriver and I was back at work (finally) by 3:00 PM. I was completely wiped out. We walked a lot of building and three of them are huge! My legs were both shot. I got through the next two hours and then headed for home.

I started watching the news (what else is new?) after treating cats and changing clothes. But, I fell asleep! I slept until almost 9:00 PM and then woke up hungry.

I heated up some leftover noodles and the mock beef stroganoff and ate that. Then I started prepping for yet another slow cooker meal (but no soup this time!!!) I have a doctor’s appointment early Saturday morning that will last for an undisclosed time (its for a physical) and I’ll need to have supper cooking.

I made a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of everything: dried oregano, ground cumin, smoked paprika, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt. I sprinkled that on all sides of a one pound boneless chuck roast and pressed them in. Then I peeled six medium carrots and cut them into two-inch lengths. I smashed and minced six cloves of garlic as well.

I coated my non-stick skillet with Canola oil cooking spray and seared all sides of the roast. I let it cool off and then put the carrots, garlic and the roast in my Tupperware bowl and into the fridge. Then I went at watched TV until midnight, when I went to bed for real.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day Shoutout

I would like to personally thank all the veterans who have served, who are serving and all their families for their sacrifices. The "cost" of freedom may be an abstract idea to me, but not to you. Thank you!

War is hell, and so is cleaning a slow cooker!

I must have started to adjust to the time change as I "slept in" Thursday until 5:00 AM. Rather than try and fall back asleep, I got up, made some coffee and then made some breakfast.

I scrambled three eggs and topped them with hot sauce (my favorite way to eat scrambled eggs). Then I put together the ingredients for my slow cooker dinner tonight.

I took a pound of beef stew meat (I have a LOT of beef stew meat left) and cut all the bigger chunks to match the smaller chunks. That went into the slow cooker (I'm using the round, smaller one, BTW) along with a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sliced onions. Then I mixed in a can of condensed golden mushroom soup and turned it on "Low." I'm making a version of beef stroganoff.

Sidebar: Hopefully, this will be my last use of soup in the slow cooker. I happened to see a cookbook listed in "Jessica's Cookbooks" (where I buy all my cookbooks) called "Not your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes." These are supposed to be recipes that use fresh ingredients cooked in a slow cooker. I'll let you know if it's worth it.

On a similar note, there are some things I think you absolutely NEED condensed soup for, like my Mom's Tuna and Peas and that much maligned holiday classic, the green bean casserole.

Weather-wise, the wind remained strong but the temperatures have really dropped. Speaking of the wind, the news this morning said 35,000 homes were without power this morning, due to wind-related problems (fallen trees, etc.).

For a change, I went straight home at lunch time.

Back at work, we all went to the windows in the afternoon. At 3:45 PM it began to snow. It was coming down pretty hard and, while it didn’t stick to the ground, it did begin to stick on the cars.

The snow did melt before we all left for home. But, when I checked the weather at 6:00 PM, there was more predicted for the evening and night time hours (sigh).

When I got home, I turned the slow cooker to “Warm” and began my nightly stuff (just putzing, but no projects – it was a long day at work).

Carla called around 6:30 PM. It was good to hear her voice! We talked about a lot of stuff and then said our goodbyes.

Then it was time to finish my dinner. I had a panic attack when I found I didn’t have any wide egg noodles (beef stroganoff on top of pasta? Yikes!!) But I found some of those Kluski noodles, so I made them instead.

I had bought some Brussels sprouts on a whim at Meijer’s and they were looking a bit sad, so I peeled off the outer leaves, cut each one in half and boiled them for my side.

Just before the noodles were done I stirred four ounces of cream cheese into the slow cooker. I also threw in a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (my idea) to freshen up the dish. Then I plated it.

I put butter and salt on the Brussels sprouts and put the mock beef stroganoff on top of the noodles. I wandered in to watch more of the Vietnam war in HD (the History channel or something has like six hour-long episodes that I taped – I’m up to the Tet Offensive in 1968).

Was it really beef stroganoff? Of course not! But was it a tasty way to use up stewing beef? Definitely!

I fell asleep around 10:00 PM. When I woke up to go to the bathroom, I put away the leftovers, filled the slow cooker insert with water to soak, shut off all the lights and went to bed for real.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wet and Windy Wednesday

The prediction for Wednesday’s weather was rain and high winds (there was actually a “wind advisory” for our area.

I drove through moderate rain going into work, but no wind. I left for lunch in a driving rain and high winds. Unfortunately, I had to stop at Home Depot so by the time I got home, my pants were soaked! I did wear my raincoat with hood, so the upper part of me was just damp.

On the way home after work, the rain was gone, but not the wind. The first thing I noticed was that the rain and wind had combined to bring down the majority of the remaining leaves.

I changed clothes and used some of the Home Depot supplies to do small projects: The first was to put up a big cup hook in the linen closet to hang the Swiffer WetJet on. In the past, and I’ve had it a longtime, I would use it and then throw away the pad (no matter how clean or dirty). I would then store the Swiffer on the floor of the closet. However, I figure if I hang it up and let the pad dry, I can use it repeatedly for spot cleaning in the kitchen, etc., thus saving the cost of the pads. We’ll see...

The next was to replace two burned out light bulbs (the spiral fluorescent kind). I didn’t have any spares in the closet and kept forgetting to get some.

Jake called and we caught each other up (mostly about work, but we’re mostly about work).

I sliced up the remaining bratwurst (I’m tired of hamburger buns) and put them in a saucepan with some Bush’s Baked Beans (Original Style). I warmed them up and had a bowl. I left the remaining beans & brats on Low and had a small dish every now and then throughout the evening. When they were done and gone, I soaked the pan and went to bed.

I woke up during the night for a bathroom break and, at first, thought the security light was on. But, it was just the full moon, shining incredibly bright. There were moon shadows everywhere (I thought one was following me and then realized it was just a flashback). I went back to bed smiling.