Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wet Wednesday

We broke the all-time record high for Wednesday, January 30, just after midnight. But, it will be all downhill from there. BTW, just as an update, my back ached a bit from the exercise yesterday, but both my knees were killing me. That tells me I started none too soon!

It did rain again overnight, but wasn’t raining when I drove into work. Nor was it raining when I took my morning walk.

My cubicle partner, Michelle, brought in my Tupperware order. I got six more of the big cereal containers and the microwave steamer she’s been telling me about. I already have some recipes for the steamer from her, BTW. It has two levels, so you can steam your entrée on the bottom and your veggies on top at the same time. Sound like the perfect weekday time-saver for a single person.

I went home for lunch, only stopping to fill up my tank at the corner gas station. From there I went home. I found a box from Amazon on my front porch, which I thought was strange as I hadn’t ordered anything that I recall. But, I didn’t have a lot of time left, so I put it aside for after work and made my lunch, instead.

I reheated the two cups of marinara sauce and meatballs in the microwave. As I had planned, I cut about an inch of the rustic Italian bread off and put the meatball/marinara sauce on top. It was even better than I hoped!!!

I parked the car in the driveway before I left and went in to sweep the accumulated water  (from both the snow and rain on the car over the last several days) out onto the garage apron. I’m tired of tracking wet footprints onto my kitchen floor.

Then I shut the garage door and went back to work. Both the ride home and back to work were damp, but dry from the sky.

It was, however, drizzling when I headed home. But the drive wasn’t too bad. I got inside, treated cats, changed clothes and then started the Wednesday night wash.

I fixed a cup of coffee while I opened the Amazon box. Oddly enough, it was a coffee cup! The message said “For my first trick, I’ll send you a Father’s Day gift early. Enjoy your next cup of coffee! From: Melissa.” It has old posters of Harry Houdini as it says on the box that a hot cup of coffee makes Houdini escape his bonds. I can’t wait to try it but thought I should wash it, first. So, I did. We’ll see how this works tomorrow morning.

Another surprise was in my mail: a copy of the Martha Stewart Living magazine. I’m not sure who sent me that, but thanks! 

I started dinner by thinly slices a medium onion and sautéing it in butter and oil until it caramelized. Tonight, I’m making a riff on Krystal Burgers (the Southern version of White Castle, but better tasting). Carla knows how much I liked them and suggested this Alton Brown recipe for what he calls a ”Mini Man Burger.”

So, I preheated the oven to 250 degrees F. and preheated my electric griddle (the one I use to make pancakes on) to 350 degrees F.

I combined 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and Kosher salt in a small bowl and set it aside.

I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper, and placed a pound of ground chuck in the middle of it. I covered the meat with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Now, the instructions said to “Roll meat with a rolling pin until it covers the surface of the pan; it should be very thin.” That was problem #1. Neither of my rolling pins were small enough to fit inside the cookie sheet. I did the best I could, then used an unopened bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce to finish it. That was problem #2. The glass on the bottle kept sticking to the cling wrap. But, I finally got ‘er done.

I removed the cling wrap, and sprinkled the meat with the seasoning mixture. Now the instructions said “Fold the meat in half, from side to side, using the parchment paper.” Easy enough, except I folded it end to end. That was problem #3, as there was NO way to cut it into eight equal squares. So, I ended up redoing it and folding it correctly. Then I used a pizza wheel to cut the meat into eight squares.

I wrapped the Kroger’s Golden dinner rolls in foil and placed them in the oven for 10 minutes. When they were about half way through, I placed the burgers on the griddle and cooked them for two to three minutes per side.

I removed the buns from the oven and cut four of them in half (this would have been easier to do prior to putting them in the oven – ouch!). I spread a small amount of mayonnaise on the bottom of each bun and topped that with the burger, the onions, a little yellow mustard and two half moon slices of  McClure’s dill pickle (you can use any condiments you desire).

Damn, Those were good! I ate three before I realized I was stuffed. It was only because I had to hang up the clothes that kept me from eating the fourth.

Thanks, Carla! I will definitely make them again, but only after I get a large dowel and cut it down to the correct size to roll with.

I checked in with B___  and we talked for a little bit, mostly about the weird weather (we both feared the standing water would freeze overnight).

I put the other burgers in a baggie and into the fridge. The rest of the dinner rolls also went into a baggie, but onto the toaster oven.

I cleaned up the kitchen and watched TV until bedtime.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rainy Days and Tuesdays…

I woke up on Tuesday to light rain. They had heavy fog advisories posted for all of southern Michigan, but I didn’t see any fog whatsoever.

Before I left for work, I took out my round slow cooker. If you are wondering why I always identify which slow cooker I am using, it’s so you will know the size I am talking about. The round one is classified as a medium-sized one and the oval slow cooker would be considered a large one. In most real slow cooker recipes, they do call out the sizes needed.

I lightly sprayed the inside with canola oil (I always do that for easier cleanup) and put in two whole (but peeled) small yellow onions, two large Yukon Gold potatoes cut into chunks, a bag of sauerkraut and a link of Polish kielbasa, cut into two inch pieces. I added about a quarter cup of water (just to make sure the potatoes didn’t burn, although I suspected the juice from the sauerkraut would be enough). Then I turned it on low and went to work.

Please note: This will result in about a 10 hour cook time on low. Since I was just making this recipe up for a slow cooker, at that point of the day I could not guarantee whether the potatoes and onions would be over- or under-cooked. I would just have to wait and see.

On the way to work, it dawned on me I also could have added a carrot or two, but it was too late by then.

Fortunately, the rain had let off enough for me to take my morning walk outside.

I went home at lunchtime, again in light rain. I had to stop at CVS for more vitamins, so I picked up some chicken fried rice for my lunch (its kind of a tradition by now). I was disappointed that, when I came in from the garage, I could not smell my supper cooking.

Again, the rain backed off enough to allow for my outside afternoon walk. But, I drove home after work (on the expressway, no less) in a heavy rain.

I retrieved my now-empty garbage can and noticed the culvert had clogged on the drainage side of the driveway, causing a mini-lake on the higher side. So, I got out my shovel and cleaned it out until the water flowed freely.

This time, I could smell supper from the garage. Inside, I treated the impatient cats and then immediately turned the slow cooker to “warm.”

I watched the weather while changing clothes. We hit 57 degrees F. today (just one degrees less than the record high set in 1914), but with more rain predicted to come tonight, flooding is a real concern. Not here, of course. If there’s a flood, it’s always in the middle of my back yard, not near the house. But, we are supposed to head back to winter tomorrow night with temps falling throughout the day. The predicted high on Thursday is only in the teens!

I used my exercise machine for the first time in over a year. I only did it slowly and for just 10 minutes, as I was not too sure what it might do to my back. But, I feel it’s time to get some muscle tone back.

Then I went and watched the end of the NBC Nightly News.

I dished up my dinner. My fears about burnt or falling apart potatoes were groundless and I had an excellent meal. The whole onion was really a nice flavor touch!

I took the rest of the kielbasa, sauerkraut, potatoes and the other onion out and put it all in a big Tupperware bowl to cool. I put it in the fridge about an hour later and filled the inside of the slow cooker with soapy water to soak overnight.

I watched the Detroit Red Wings hockey game. We won for a change (4 to 1)! I still wasn’t tired so, after it ended, I watched the new NCIS show that had taped while the game was on.  Then I went to bed.

[Sidebar: One of the main “characters” in the NCIS show was a teddy bear. Now, when I was a kid, I loved teddy bears and had three of them. One was a small brown bear (who met with an untimely death in the oven when my brother George was married), another was bigger and black and white one and the last was an over-sized blue one I got for my birthday or Christmas when I was four or five. Now, I can picture each one clearly in my mind, but for the life of me, I can’t remember any of their names. Knowing my propensity for order and organization, though, they were probably called Bear #1, Bear #2 and Bear #3. Come to think of it, I probably labeled each one, as well.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Instant Read Thermometer for GPF

Secrets of a super chef

Slip-Sliding Away…

Well, it did start snowing late Sunday night and had obviously switched to freezing rain overnight. But, all the icicles were dripping when I left for work (and I left for work 15 minutes early, not knowing what I might face).

My driveway and my road were a sheet of crunchy snow, covered with ice. But, when I got to Plymouth Road, it was mostly slush with only the occasional unseen patches of ice. Everyone went slow and the only real difficulty I faced was at Plymouth Road and Farmington, where the stoplights were out. But everyone acted civilized (for a change) and we all made it through the intersection.

By noon, it had changed to a light drizzle, so I took and chance and drove home for lunch. I had the last of the broccoli and cheese soup. I must say, refrigeration is not kind to cheese soup if you use real cheese. It was no longer the creamy cheese sauce it was when I made it. It was almost like the cheese had separated. It still tasted good, but the texture sucked. I don’t think I would have had this problem if I had used, say, Velveeta.

Needless to say both morning (icy) and afternoon (rainy) walks were taken inside again.

The biggest problem on the expressway home were the occasion huge sprays of water from trucks and SUVs in the right lane.

My street and driveway were still a mess though. In fact, I damn near slipped and fell dragging the garbage can out to the road.

Once inside, I treated the cats, changed clothes and drank a cup of coffee watching the news. Then I got to work putting away my meatball and marinara sauce. I got two four-cup containers for the freezer with about two cups left over that I put in the fridge. I’ll probably just serve that on top of a chunk of bread, instead of making pasta (and making a mess) again.

I washed the Dutch oven and then made my dinner. I ate the last Parmesan chicken breast along with the last leftover baked potato. It took three tries in the microwave before my instant read thermometer registered 100 degrees in the thick chicken breast (I hate to warm things up in the microwave, go to eat them and then find them cold inside).

I topped the potato with some butter and sour cream. Sadly, I didn’t have any crumbled bacon, green onions or even fresh chives to top that with, (just pepper) but it still tasted good. So did the chicken, for that matter.

For some reason, my upper back had been hurting since about noon (I think it’s the dampness, since I didn’t overdo anything over the weekend or today). So, I reluctantly finally took a pain pill, so I could sleep at night.

I washed up my plate from dinner and went in to watch some TV before bedtime. I went to bed at 11:00 PM.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Key Box Relocation

Sunday Supper
Spaghetti and Meatballs with Rustic Italian Bread

The Calm Before the Storm

I woke up around 5:00 AM on Sunday, too early to watch the news. So, I finished the Blog entry and posted it, after making a cup of coffee.

Then I stripped the bed and put the bedding in the washer. Next I ran through the usual Sunday morning routine: watering the bay leaf bush and the orchid, winding the clock, refilling my pill box, etc.

I ate my oatmeal and trail mix as usual, not having any good ideas for a Sunday morning breakfast.

I moved the key box from the closet to the back room. Now I just need to sort through all the keys I have (and I have a lot) to see which ones are still needed. There are padlocks on both fence gates, one on the flatbed trailer and one on the boat trailer. The rest I’ll just pitch.

I shaved and showered. Once I got dressed, I put my bathrobe and all the towels in the washer for the last load. When Flashpoint (a local News talk show) came on, I turned the TV off and turned the radio on to “Sunday Morning, Over Easy.”

Next I dusted the bedroom and cleaned all the glass surfaces. I swept the floor and remade the bed.

The washer had just stopped and when I was walking through the kitchen, I noticed Caley was playing with my knit hat (I had stupidly left it on the table). So, I took it away from her and went to put it in the front entryway closet. That’s when I saw that “someone” had barfed on it. Damn! Had I known, I could have put it in what I “thought” was the last load and not had to waste the water.

So, I put the load in the washer in the dryer but didn’t turn it on yet (no sense wasting electricity on top of it). Then I put the rug and the little rug that lines her Cat-O-Matic in the washer.

I started making a double batch of that tomato sauce I’ve made before (the one by Fabio Viviani). I heated up about six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on medium in the Dutch oven while I crushed 12 cloves of garlic with the flat of my knife. I put the garlic in the pan and watched it closely. I want it light brown, but not burnt.

Meanwhile, I opened two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes. When I thought the garlic was perfect, I dumped the tomatoes in along with two generous pinches of salt and a lot of black pepper. I let that cook until it thickened (about 10 minutes).

Meanwhile I made some “cheater” meatballs. I had thawed out two packages of sweet Italian sausages. I took the skins off and rolled the meat into balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball). I put those in the oven after preheating it to 400 degrees. I let them bake for about 10 minutes (just to firm them up a bit, they’ll cook in the tomato sauce).

Speaking of which, I added another three tablespoons or so of extra virgin olive oil  to the sauce and turned the heat on the burner up to medium high. I crushed the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.

I let that cook until the olive oil turned red (that’s how you know its done). When it was ready, I added in my meatballs and, instead of turning the burner on low (though I want them to cook low and slow), I turned the oven down to "warm." After covering the pot, I stuck the whole thing into the oven.

As an afterthought, I opened it back up and added in a good pinch of red pepper flakes (his recipe doesn’t call for that, but I thought a little heat might be nice, since I was using the sweet Italian sausage). I covered it back up and walked away from it.

All this cooking made me hungry, so I took a couple of the hard boiled eggs and made egg salad out of them (I used some Dijon mustard instead of the usual yellow prepared mustard – not bad!). I added the egg salad to some lettuce on sourdough bread.

I ate lunch watching a DIY show. When it was over, I went outside and refilled the bird and squirrel feeders. We are supposed to get a couple of inches of snow tonight, then it will switch to freezing rain overnight and finally just rain (hopefully before I have to drive to work). So, I thought the wildlife might need to fill up before the weather gets bad.

Back inside, I emptied the dryer and put everything in its place. Then I tried to take a nap. That didn’t work, so I ended up watching TV until 5:30 PM.

I went out to make the rest of my Sunday dinner. I heated some water in my pasta pot and salted it when it began to boil. Then I added in what I guessed was a single serving of spaghetti and cooked that al dente.

I took out the sauce from the oven and topped the spaghetti with it and some meatballs. I sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese on top and cut off a slice of that Rustic Italian bread (mostly to sop up any remaining sauce). I took a picture for you and then feasted.

It was pretty damn good!

I washed the pasta pot and the utensils I’d used and left the sauce out to cool. I went back in to watch the news (in particular to see if the weather forecast had changed any. It hadn’t).

Then I watched the Red Wings lose in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks. I put away my meatball and tomato sauce in the fridge and then went to bed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower

Saturday Supper


I woke up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. According to the news, the official snowfall total for my area was three inches, in case you were wondering. Since it was the weekend, I made soft-boiled eggs for my breakfast.

Then I had to hustle a bit to make my 8:30 AM massage appointment. Since I blew off the last one (by taking too long of a nap) I didn’t want to miss this one!

Once that was out of the way, I headed home. I stopped at CVS to buy a first aid kit for the house (I always have a small one in the car). Now, I have a lot of first aid products in my main bathroom, but some are pretty old, some are in a box and the whole thing’s a giant mess. Needless to say, organizing the bathroom closet is one of this weekend’s projects.

Once home, I treated the cats and got another cup of coffee. Then I headed back out to make my 11:00 AM haircut appointment (I had tried to get them closer together, but that didn’t work out).

Coming back from my hair cut, I stopped at Kroger’s to get a few items I noticed I was running low on: eggs, butter, pretzels and laundry detergent. It was busier than I hoped, but I still got home before noon.

I treated the cats, unpacked the few groceries and changed clothes. Then I started the weekend wash. I warmed up some of the broccoli and cheese soup for my lunch.

I took the few old eggs I had left and hard boiled them. If I have mentioned this before (or if you already know) forgive me, but older eggs make the best hard boiled eggs, because the shells peel off easier. I don’t remember the scientific reason for this, but I do know that’s its true.

Then I reorganized and cleaned up the bathroom shelves. I was tempted to label them, but feared my brother Carl describing me as “you’re turning into to your Mother.” Not that I see that as a bad thing…

I talked with B___ for a while. Then I talked with Jake. Finally. I talked with Melissa for a long while.

Then I went and made dinner. I cored a head of cauliflower and put the florets into a bowl with a sliced medium-sized onion, some thyme and three unpeeled garlic cloves. I tossed them with olive oil, kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

I spread that out on a half-sheet pan, covered with foil and sprayed with canola oil I stuck it in a pre-heated 425 degrees F. oven to roast.

About 20 minutes later, I made my wet mixture of Dijon mustard, thyme, cayenne pepper and Kosher salt. I put three boneless, skinless chicken breasts in that and then coated them in a equal parts mixture of grated Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs.

I put them on a foil lined cookie sheet, sprayed the tops of them with canola oil and stuck them in the oven, as well.

When the timer went off, I sprinkled the cauliflower with grated Parmesan cheese and roasted them another 10 minutes or so. Then I let the chicken rest a few minutes and plated my Saturday dinner.

The Parmesan chicken was as excellent as the last time I made it. But, I was not as impressed with the cauliflower. As long-time readers may remember, I do love cauliflower. But, I love warm, white florets of cauliflower, covered with butter and salt. This method of roasting gave it a completely different “edgy” taste I am still not sure I preferred.

Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s not that I didn’t like it, as I did. It was just, well, “different.”

The jury is still out on roasted cauliflower…

I watched two taped DIY shows and then went to bed.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

There's hope for me yet!

Another Song Snippet

(I should turn the radio off when doing housework - but I love this song!)

"I'm not crazy 
I'm just a little unwell  
I know right now you can't tell  
But stay awhile and maybe you'll see  
a different side of me  

I'm not crazy 
I'm just a little impaired  
I know right now you don't care  
But soon enough you're gonna think of me  
and how I used to be...Me"

~ Matchbox 20 "I'm Not Crazy"

Song Snippet

"He's got this dream about buying some land
He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he'll settle down
In this quiet little town
And forget about everything

But you know he'll always keep moving
You know, he's never gonna stop moving
Cause he's rolling, he's the rolling stone"

~ Rafferty Gerry "Baker Street"


The only time I am really happy that I don't have sidewalks is when it snows...

Quote of the Day

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."

~ Unknown (excerpt from a Facebook post by my niece)

Finally Friday!

It wasn’t yet snowing when I went to work Friday morning. It started hear about 8:30 AM. But, folks who drove in from north or west of Livonia were all late, with horror stories of spin-outs, traffic jams and accidents. What was deceptive about it was that is was so light and fluffy.

I had planned on going home for lunch and having some soup. But after slipping and sliding just to brush off the car windows, I decided that was a little too ambitious for the weather conditions. So, since I hadn’t brought anything but an apple, I headed out to the nearest restaurant, the Time Out (the sports bar I mentioned a week or two ago).

Once again, I was taken care of by my newest favorite waitress and once again, I ordered off the specials menu. This time it was fish and chips. They did have malt vinegar (a must for me) and an excellent tartar sauce. Not only that, but I got three pieces of delicious fish! It was really too much for me to eat, but I soldiered through most of it (I had to leave some of the fries). And, it only cost me $7.00 US!

I carefully drove back to work (at most less than a 1/4 mile away) and safely got back inside. Needless to say, both my morning and afternoon walks took place inside the building.

When I left for home, the side streets and main streets were both slippery. I took a chance that the freeway would have been salted. It might have been, but the constant light snow made driving dicey. I don’t think anybody went over 50 MPH and it took me almost exactly twice as long as normal to get home.  I tried to remind myself that I had just remarked in the comments that I liked to hear the words "Alberta Clipper." At this point, I was not so sure!

They said on the news that metro airport (about 7 miles south of me) had an official one and a half inches of snow at 5:30 PM, but that other areas were reporting as much as two or three inches. I’d have to say that, around my house anyway, Metro was right. It wasn’t that deep or even heavy (you could use a broom to move it, rather than a snow shovel), its just damn slippery.

I’m not sure when it stopped as it was still snowing after it got too dark to see out the kitchen window.

For dinner I ate the last of the chicken lemon rice soup and two chunks of that Rustic Italian bread. I watched some TV and went to bed around 11:30 PM (late for me, but I had a cup of coffee after my usual cut-off time). I’m a wild man on Friday night!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Souper Night!

It was definitely warmer today (11 degrees F. when I woke up) and with a projected high of 20 degrees, I felt like spring had arrived. Well, maybe not…

I did take my morning walk outside, although I only managed to do three complete turns before my face started to freeze.

At lunch, I ventured out to Westborn to buy some supplies for tonight’s dinner. I dropped the stuff at home, treated the cats and wolfed down some leftover sausage and onions.

With the sun’s help, I got my routine five turns in the parking lot on the afternoon walk.

Back home after work, I talked to Jake for a bit, and then got onto making tonight’s supper: broccoli cheese soup.

Now, I cobbled this recipe out of three I found. All involve basically making a roux, adding milk (sometimes with half and half or heavy cream), and melting in sharp cheddar cheese and maybe one other kind of cheese, like shredded Swiss, for example.

In some, you start off with chicken stock, others suggest using it only if you have to thin the soup. And, in all but one, you cook the broccoli in the soup before adding the cheese.

So, here’s what I did: I used a tip from Mel’s Kitchen Café and, after cutting my broccoli into florets, I put them in a large Pyrex bowl, covered it with cling wrap and cooked them in the microwave for four minutes on high. This steams them perfectly in their own juice.

Meanwhile, in my Dutch oven, I melted a stick of butter and added a diced medium-sized onion. When the onion was soft, but still white, I added in 1/3 cup of AP flour. I stirred that to combine and cooked it for a minute or two.

Then I added in four cups of whole milk and two cups of half and half (both of which I warmed in the microwave, first). I added in a pinch of nutmeg (I grated mine from a whole nutmeg, but you could use dry), a small dash of salt (cheese is salty, remember) and lots of fresh ground black pepper.

If you were using raw broccoli, here’s where you would add it and let it simmer until it was tender (20-30 minutes), but I merely added my pre-cooked broccoli and moved on.

For my cheeses, I used about 2 1/2 cups of store-bought grated sharp cheddar cheese (I didn’t really “measure” it, it was what was left in the bag) and about one cup of pepper jack cheese I grated myself. I stirred it until the cheese melted and taste tested it. Hmmm… maybe a little more black pepper.

I didn’t think it was too thick (although this might change after it sets in the fridge) so I skipped the chicken stock and went right to eating a bowl with a chunk of that Rustic Italian bread. It was very good and the pepper jack cheese added the just the little kick I was hoping for.

I put the leftover soup in containers and into the fridge, cleaned up the kitchen (except for the Dutch oven which I left to soak) and went and watched some taped TV shows until bedtime.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Birthday Shoutout!

Happy birthday to my Brother Carl. I've never told you this, but I treasure the thyme we spend together.


We warmed up a bit on Wednesday. It was nine degrees F. when I woke up, but a lot less windy.

I took in the leftover pizza and an apple for lunch, so I didn’t have to go out at noon. I should have eaten it cold, but I stupidly tried to warm it up in the microwave. Of course, that just makes it soggy. I heard somewhere (and may have even written this in the Blog before) that if you warm it up in a dry skillet over medium heat, the crust stays “crusty” but I didn’t have a stove or a skillet at work.

I took both my walks inside (not nearly as satisfying, BTW).

It was up to 17 degrees when I got home. I treated the cats, changed clothes and started the Wednesday night wash.

I warmed up two pieces of meatloaf and steamed some frozen sweet corn for my dinner.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Cold Day in Hell, er, Redford

It was zero degrees F. in Redford when I woke up Tuesday morning and the wind chill temps were frightening.

But, by the way of comparison, I checked (and this is without wind chill): Amy’s high was predicted to be 2 degrees below zero today , while Jeremy and I were supposed to top out at 11-14 degrees. Melissa (who’s always complaining about the cold in North Carolina) was 39 degrees and Jake and Carla’s high was 48 degrees F.

On the other hand, Canada Cathy (who I always picture as living in the Artic zone, next to an igloo – I’ve been there in winter… I know) is supposed to be having a high of 23 degrees F.! WTF?

You could feel the cold radiate off the bathroom tiles on the west side of the house. So, as an experiment, I used my instant read cooking thermometer to check the temperature and it was over 10 degrees less than the ambient 72 degrees in the house the thermostat claimed. But, this is an old house and not well insulated, I’m sure.

I had to force myself to leave the warm shower and go to work. I had taken out my down-filled jacket (which I almost never wear because it is too hot for me) last night and I wore that to work.

Needless to say, I didn’t walk outside in the morning (or even in the afternoon). But, I had determined before lunch I wanted to make a meat loaf and baked potatoes for supper. Not that I was craving either, I just wanted an excuse to have the oven on!

So, I went to Kroger’s and got a green pepper, two russet baking potatoes and a pound each of ground pork and ground chuck. Then I drove home to drop it all off and warmed up a can of Hormel chili for my lunch.

Back home after work, I retrieved my garbage can and went inside to warm up with a cup of coffee after treating the cats. The weatherman agreed with my car and said it was 13 degrees F.

I preheated the oven to 425 degrees F. I washed the two potatoes, dried them off and pricked them with a fork. Then I rubbed them with olive oil and sprinkled a lot of Kosher salt on them. I put them in the oven, directly on the rack, and proceeded to assemble my meat loaf.

In a big bowl I put the pound of ground chuck and the pound of ground pork, about two teaspoons of salt, a half-teaspoon of black pepper, about a cup each of  chopped onion and green pepper, two eggs (lightly beaten), a can of diced tomatoes and a cup of quick-cooking rolled oats. At the last minute, I added in a half-teaspoon of red pepper flakes (for heat) and a teaspoon of thyme (for Carl).

I squished that all together, using both hands and set it aside. I washed up and then made a simple glaze of 2/3 cup of ketchup, 4 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of prepared yellow mustard.

I lined my cake pan with tinfoil (for easier cleanup) and then formed the meat mixture into a loaf inside it. I never make my meatloaf in a bread or loaf pan as that traps the grease in. I like my meatloaf moist, not greasy.

I spread the glaze on top of it, turned the oven down to 375 degrees and popped the pan inside. I set the timer for an hour and cleaned up the kitchen.

When the timer went off, I checked and the potatoes were done. So I took the meatloaf out to rest a bit, then cut off two slices. I opened up one of the potatoes and topped it with sour cream and finely sliced green onion.

It was pretty good, but a little loose. I think I should have drained the diced tomatoes. And, I was thinking that, based on how Jake likes to make his vegetable soup, next time I might try mixing ground chuck with ground turkey. That might be good. I just am not that fond of a “all beef” tasting meatloaf. My all time favorite is the old fashioned 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 ground pork and 1/3 ground veal mixture, but veal ain’t that cheap these days. Of course, neither is ground turkey, lol!

Full and warm, I watched TV for a while. Then I put the leftover meatloaf and potato in the fridge and went to bed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Serious winter sets in…

It was damn cold out when I woke up Monday morning. The weather man said it was 21 degrees F. with a wind chill factor I don’t even want to talk about. They said there had been some lake effect snow (off lake Michigan and reaching all the way to Redford) and, when I looked outside, everything was covered in white.

So, I left early and took Plymouth Road. It didn’t seem THAT bad and I was driving about 5 MPH over the speed limit, but taking care at every stoplight. Somebody, driving in the right lane, rocketed past me like a shot in a little car. Either he was late for work or just a fool, because he had to be going over 60 MPH! I just shook my head and thought, “Good luck, brother!”

I got to work just as the snow increased.

Inside and safe, I got a cup of coffee and began my regular work. My boss was already there and she, and everyone who came in after me, had horror stories about the drive in. “Total whiteout on Telegraph Road,” “Couldn’t even see the off-ramp” and so on. So, I guess I am lucky I live less than seven miles away.

Instead of my usual morning walk (a little dangerous in the cold, ice and snow), I took Michelle in Facilities back her two containers, filled with the reconstituted Greek lemon chicken and rice soup. (It’s a tradition, as I said before). I told her, “I suppose you never expected these container back (it’s been a while).” She said, “I wasn’t worried as, I not only know where you work, I know where you live!” And, she does…

I carefully walked back to my building. Not even considering a spinal fusion, the last thing you want to do with a totally screwed up leg is to fall down and possibly break something…

At lunchtime, I headed out. I needed to drop off that box of books at the Goodwill. Since I was down there anyway, I stopped into the Big Boy (across the street) and ordered a fish and chips dinner with extras tartar sauce and malt vinegar. It came with coleslaw and it was thoroughly delicious!

I went to the Goodwill and they completely confused me by offering a “receipt.” I said I didn’t want a receipt, I just wanted to drop off these books. I assume the receipt has something to do with tax right-offs, but I was not interested.

I still had time left, so I stopped at the Peddler’s Market Place to look for wooden wheel clocks. I didn’t find any. That sucked, as I have been asked by an old friend to duplicate a clock she had. She knows I have a little woodworking skills, but I’m still not sure what the hell she wants…

I skipped the walk outside and walked around the shop for 15 minutes in the afternoon.

I headed home at 5:00 PM and rolled the filled trash can out to the road, ‘The I put the used kitty litter in a big garbage bag and added in the last kitchen trash bag. It broke before I got it to the road!

So, I split them into two garbage bags and wheeled then out in my garden wagon, lit by my helpful porch light.

It was damn cold out there, but it’s only suppose to get worse. We have wind chill advisories posted for overnight and tomorrow.

I cut some of that rustic Italian bread into slices that would fit into the toaster and made my last BLT (at least from that pound of bacon). I ate that with a bowl of the Lemon Chicken and Rice soup to warm up.

Before I went in to watch TV, I used an old trick from my Father back on the farm. Since its supposed to go to 0 degrees tonight with west winds of 15-20 MPH, I opened up the cupboard doors under the sink (located on the west wall of the house) to let more heat in and turned both the hot and cold taps a little so they would drip in the laundry sink downstairs (also on the west wall). Hopefully that will prevent any frozen pipes.

I fell asleep watching the hockey game.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It ain't pretty, but it was damn good!

A Man's Work is Never Done!

I woke up at 6:00 AM on Sunday. We had high winds all night (I think I even heard them in my sleep). The weatherman said that we had a high wind advisory until 8:00 AM and that 92,000 homes were without power due to downed lines.

When it got light, I looked out the kitchen window and saw all manner of trash blowing around my backyard. I also saw, to my amazement, the wind had blown the top off the metal can I keep the birdseed in. That has never happened before!

So, I threw on some clothes and went outside to put the lid back on (so the seed wouldn’t get damp). I took along a suet cake and refilled the cage with it, along with refilling the squirrel feeder with peanuts. I put the lid back on the can and put a patio block on top of it so it would stay put.

Back inside, I had a cup of coffee to warm up, treated the cats (since I’m not going anywhere today and to lure them off the bed) and stripped the bed. The bedding went into the washer and I put my bathrobe back on. Then I shaved, showered and dressed for the day.

When the bedding went into the dryer, my robe and the bath towels went into the washer. I got started on this morning’s chore: cleaning the house. First I swept and washed the kitchen floor.

Then I got going on the living room. I dusted everything and then vacuumed the rug and swept the floor. Finally, I washed all the glass surfaces to get rid of all the cat prints. I watered the bay leaf bush and wound the clock, too.

Once the kitchen floor was dry, I swept and mopped the main bathroom (since I could now pee downstairs). Then I swept and mopped the office, my bedroom and the hallway. I also mopped the main pathway from the front door to the kitchen pocket door.

Stuck in the kitchen or downstairs, I went out (after putting on a hat, gloves and scarf) to try and adjust the new light and (hopefully) adjust my headlights on the Volvo.

Now, when I revisited the box the light came in, I found some, well, let’s call them shields, along with double-stick tape. So I cut them as I deemed appropriate (who knows) and went out with the step ladder and applied them. I am hoping this blocks out the movement of cats inside and flag waving outside. Since it was daylight, I had6 to wait five or six hours to tell if it worked. See photos.

While I was out there, I noticed I hadn’t changed the Christmas mat (it says “Bah! Humbug!”) so I switched it out with the usual one (that just says “Go Away!”) I like to think both of them define my existence:  The Dude Abides!

Back inside, I downloaded the pictures (requested by Jake) and filled in the Blog entry to date, sucking down another hot cup of coffee. With the wind, it was wicked cold out there!

I took the steak out to come to room temperature. I also sautéed a box of sliced Crimini mushrooms in butter. This reminded me of my Mother. I won’t go into that as I am sure I have mentioned that before. But, I ate about a third of the mushrooms while I was cooking them.

I made a simple dry rub for the steak of one teaspoon of black pepper. 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. I patted this on, over and over again and let the steak sit there to rest. I went back outside in the garage to try and fix my headlights.

I managed to break the other connector (sigh) but did get the light to work again. However, it’s still set too high. I think I will have to make an appointment at the Volvo dealer to get two new connectors and the lamps installed correctly.

Back inside, I warmed up a bowl of the Lemon Chicken and Rice soup and ate that with a chunk of bread for my lunch. Then I took a nice nap.  I like naps!!!

When I woke up, it was dark, so I opened the front door to test the light. It went on immediately and stayed on for five minutes. When it went off, I went out and opened the garage door. My plan was to walk up to the porch and see when it clicked on. But the simple act of opening the garage door set it off!  But, the flapping flag and wild motion inside next to the picture window (my neighbors across the street must think I’m insane) did not set it off. So, that’s good.

I took the sweet corn (five little sad-looking ears) and removed the half husks they left on (for looks, I suppose). I buttered them up and wrapped each in a piece of tin foil (as you probably remember, this is NOT how I like to roast sweet corn!) I would have sprinkled them with thyme, but then I would have to listen to my Brother Carl bitch about it. I turned the oven on 425 degrees F. and when it was preheated, I stuck them in and set the timer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, I got out my trusty cast iron frying pan and turned the big burner on high. I shut the bedroom and office doors, cracked the kitchen window and turned the microwave fan on “High,” so I didn’t set off the smoke detectors.

Then I rubbed the steak with canola oil on both sides. You oil the steak, rather than the pan, so you can get the pan screaming hot without it smoking. Using tongs (never a fork, but you know that, right?) I put the steak in the pan and let it go about a minute on one side. Then I flipped it over with the tongs. Hmmm… not enough crust. So, I let it sit about two minutes on the second side, flipped it again (perfect crust on that side) and let it go another minute on the first side. I pulled it off and put it on a platter to rest.

Note: Depending on the thickness of your steak, this will give you a perfect medium rare, which I prefer. However, if you wanted it cooked medium or well done, you just stick the pan in the oven to finish it off,

I turned the burner down and added in a diced shallot and the rest of the mushrooms. When the shallots were softened, I deglazed the pan with a little bottle of merlot, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get the good bits up. When the wine had reduced by about half, I added in a tablespoon of butter, let that melt and then topped the steak with my pan sauce.

OMG! It was perfect!

The corn was mediocre, but I knew that, going in. But, it was sweet corn on the cob and my favorite vegetable. So, I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday supper.

I cleaned up the kitchen and then watched some TV before going to bed.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Song Snippet

"Nothing really matters in the end you know
All the worry is over
Don't be afraid for me my friend, one day we all fall down forever"

~ Patty Griffin – “Not Alone”

The old porch light

The new one

The motion-detecting sensor

The motion-detecting sensor with the guards on
 My dancing Santa

A Boring Saturday...

I woke up at 5:30 AM on Saturday. This is supposed to be the warmest day for the next week or so, but they say that the wind will negate the 40 degrees temperatures.

I lounged around, sorting out books to take to the Goodwill, eating breakfast, etc. Finally, around 8:30 AM, I shaved and showered .

Then I headed out for my weekend errands. First, I filled up my gas tank at the cheapest station I could find. Then I went to Westborn to get some apples (Galas as the Honey Crisp are now out of season), some more lemons, garlic, shallots and, as an impulse buy, a New York strip steak and some sweet corn (from who knows where). I figured since it was supposed to be in the upper 40’s (despite the wind) I might grill one last time.

It was funny as, the last time I was there, they had sold out all the boxes of chicken stock (the checkout lady said everyone was making soup). They still had not been restocked, so I reluctantly bought two boxes of chicken broth (to reconstitute my Greek soup).

Then I went to Home Depot and bought a motion detection porch light. It really ticked me off as it requires four 25-watt candelabra base bulbs.  I use, but do not like, the CFL bulbs everywhere I can the house.

My last stop was PetSmart, for kitty litter.

I went home and  added a box of chicken broth to the soup. Then I ate that for lunch after talking with Jake. Next I took a nap.

I woke up too late to grill (probably for the best). So, I installed the new porch light in the gathering gloom of twilight.

It works, but too well! It keeps going on all the time. I think the flag blowing around is setting it off. There are some covers you can install strategically to block certain areas, so I will try that tomorrow in the daylight.

I talked to B___ for a while and we caught each other up.

I decided to keep the steak for Sunday supper, so I made a frozen pizza instead. I added some cooked bacon, banana pepper rings and extra mozzarella cheese to it before I baked it.

I watched some taped DIY shows until bedtime.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New closet shelves


Friday morning was cold again with a bit of a wind. But, it’s not bad as what they have predicated for the upcoming week! Highs only in the teens and lows in the single digits. Oh well, it is mid-winter, I suppose. And, its not a Canadian Clipper I can blame Tsu for.

We had a farewell luncheon for Evan, one of our contract Project Managers, at Buddy’s pizza. I have heard rave reviews about their tortilla soup (and how no restaurant even comes close to the taste) from both Michelle and Vicky. So, having never tasted it, I was determined to try it and, if possible, duplicate it for them.

So, I took Vicky along with me (Michelle was at a doctor’s appointment and I had to bring the card she usually deals with). I had the Buddy’s Special which was a cup of soup (I upgraded to a bowl) and your choice of salad (I chose antipasto) and bread sticks.

The salad was huge (I knew that going in, from past experience) so I shared it and the bread sticks with both Vicky and Robin. Then my soup arrived. The soup was, in fact, outstanding. This one’s going to be a challenge!

The rest of the afternoon passed slowly, as most Friday afternoons do. But, finally I was headed home!

I changed clothes and had a cup of coffee. Then I moved on to tonight’s mini-project: the small closet in my bedroom.

Now, I installed two shelves in there when I first moved here (not needing yet another closet. The bottom one was purpose-built and was almost the entire depth of the closet. This made getting out the file boxes I keep on the floor a little difficult. It dawned on me the other day that the only thing on that shelf anymore are my pills, pill box and blood pressure and diabetic test kits. So, there was no need for such a big shelf.

Also, the two shelves I had put in were 3/4-inch plywood and looked kinda junky.

So, I demo’ed the old shelves and cut two new ones out of two 1 x 12 pine boards I had in my scrap wood pile. I put them in and screwed them down, just to hold them in place. See photo.

I got out the vacuum cleaner and was just about to suck up the dirt and debris when the doorbell rang. I turned on the porch light and looked out the picture window. It was a little kid with a big box.

He proudly showed me his badge (a picture one and nicer looking than my work one, lol) provided by Redford allowing him to solicit funds door-to-door (good idea, BTW). He was selling candy to raise money for something or other. I told him to keep the candy, I can’t eat it, but gave him $5.00, just for his professionalism.

But, that did remind me of the last security concern outside. I need a motion sensor to turn on the porch light automatically when someone drives in or walks on the porch. They do sell adapters to convert your existing fixture to a motion detector, but I haven’t found one yet that will work with my light.

Anyway, I finished up cleaning out the closet and put everything back together. By then it was late, and I was hungry. So, I heated up a can of Hormel chili. I dressed it up with some green onion slices, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, all on top.

I ate that watching some TV shows. Then I took out my bowl and soaked it and the pan in hot water, brushed my teeth and went to bed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Captain dines on International Cuisine!

Thursday was yet another cold day. I did my morning walk (fighting my tendency to hunch over against the cold wind).

I did run more errands at lunch, including a quick trip to Kroger’s for some eggs and other things. I also stopped at Gordon Food Service (since I was up that way) and grabbing a big container of cinnamon for Michelle at work (she’s making and drinking a green goopy drink I shudder to think about for health reasons). I also got a can of coarse sea salt for me.

It was Mike’s birthday at work, so a bunch of them went out to lunch. Which was lucky for me, because Vicky asked me if I would like her sandwich for my dinner (since she didn’t eat it). Her Mother had made it for her and it was called torta de milanesa de pollo. Of course I accepted.

I got home after work, treated the cats, changed clothes and started making the Greek Lemon Chicken Soup my Brother Carl recommended. As I said, I already had supper in the bag, so to speak. But its been four days since I roasted the chicken and I figured I better use it up.

So, I got out my Dutch Oven pot and combined eight cups (two boxes) of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 cups of shredded carrots (I used my box grater), 1/2 cup of chopped onions, 1/2 cup of chopped celery and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper. I brought that to a boil on high, then let it simmer for 20 minutes.

I blended together a half stick of softened butter and a 1/4 cup of AP flour together with a fork. Then I gradually added it to the soup mixture. I let that simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, I separated eight egg yolks from the whites (I stuck the egg whites in the fridge to use for something else). I beat the egg yolks until light in color. Then I gradually added some of the hot soup to the egg yolks, stirring constantly (you don’t want scrambled eggs here). Then I added the tempered egg mixture to the soup pot and heated it through. 

Finally I added one cup of cooked rice and one cup (well, really all I had left, which was slightly more than a cup) of diced cooked chicken. You are supposed to ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices. But, I used all the lemons I had for their juice (I should have gotten more at Kroger’s).

It was very good and a lot thicker than I thought it would be. Thanks, Carl!

I only had one bowl so I would have room to eat my sandwich. Speaking of the sandwich, it was all in separate bags. There was some sort of flat bread sliced almost through and, following directions, I buttered both sides and warmed it up in a skillet. Then I put on the seasoned chicken, the lettuce and tomatoes, Mexican sour cream and topped it with shredded cheese. I returned the sandwich to the skillet just long enough to melt the cheese a tad. Then I ate it.

It, too, was excellent! Nicely spiced chicken and great bread. I need to get the recipe for this one! Thanks, Vicky!

When it cooled, I put the soup, pot and all, into the fridge (it was getting late and I was tired). I did notice it had really thickened up and I’m sure I’ll have to add more stock to reheat it (but, I’m now out of that, too). So, lemons and chicken stock went on the grocery list.

I went to bed early and this time, for a change, slept through the night.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Windy Wednesday

It was cold again Wednesday morning and progreesively got worse all day as the winds increased.

I ate the rest of that leftover pork sausage and crescent rolls for breakfast (just for a change).

I did some running around the Westland Mall at lunch and didn't have time to eat, so I stopped at Arby's and got a fish sandwich meal. I ate it back at work and it was messy, but good.

When I got home, I changed clothes and then started the Wednesday wash. I got caught up in a bunch of little things I've been meaning to do and so it was after 8:00 PM before I knew it. I microwaved a very forgettable shrimp scampi entree for my dinner.

I managed to stay awake until 11:00 PM.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Typical Tuesday

Tuesday started out cold and cloudy. But, the sun came out by lunchtime and I didn’t need my gloves, hat and scarf while I was out running errands.

I ran out of time to go home or eat somewhere, so I stopped at Jimmy John’s for a turkey sandwich. I skipped the pickle, this time.

I had a meeting in another building at 3:30 PM. I went out to the car without my cold-weather accessories and promptly went back in for them. It was windy and colder again.

I got home and got the trash can into the garage and was done with outside for the rest of the night.

The rest of the night was pretty unremarkable. I ate the soup that Michelle gave me. It was pretty good, but not enough. So, I made a BLT and ate that, too. I watched some TV and then went to bed early.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Don't try to understand women. Women understand women, and they hate each other..."

~ Unknown

Late Posting

Monday was cold again here in Michigan. It never got out of the 20’s all day, so I guess winter is back.

My friend Michelle from Facilities brought me in a container of soup: sausage, bacon and bean. I told her that was unfair as I hadn’t filled up and returned her last container. She just laughed and said it meant a double helping for her when I finally got off my butt and made something.

So, I went to Westborn to get some carrots and fresh herbs. I want to make the roast chicken leftovers into chicken and rice soup. I figured that, with the heavy lemon flavor, chicken noodle soup would taste a bit weird. But, I completely forgot (I only had a mental list and that’s always dangerous for me) to buy apples for this week!

I did complete both my morning and afternoon walks, but bundled up like a kindergartener. I love my scarf!!!

I got home after work and took the garbage can out to the road. Then I treated the cats and changed clothes.

I made a grilled cheese sandwich and Campbell’s tomato soup (in a mug) for dinner.

My attempt to regulate my sleep patterns on Sunday night did not work at all. I fell asleep about 8:30 PM and slept until 2:00 AM. Then I couldn’t fall back to sleep until after 4:00!

Which is why I barely made it to work on time and why this post is so late.