Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunday's Story

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. It was 10 degrees F. It was just lightly snowing then, but according to the morning news, we had an official total of 4 1/2 inches of snow here so far…

I had a cup of coffee and watched the news for a bit, then I posted the Blog entry.

I made some breakfast and you’ll never guess what I made: soft boiled eggs!

Next, after taking my morning pills, I refilled the pill box for the coming week. I continued the Sunday chores by starting the weekend wash, watering the plant and winding the clock. Since I still had the rags I used on the kitchen table set, I washed the clock and then oiled it as well.

I shaved and showered and then headed into my day…

But, my friend B___ called, so I chatted with him for a while until we caught each other up. Then I started on my day!

I couldn’t decide if I should work on the downstairs shower (the water hasn’t been turned on for two months) or clean the very dirty house. I decided the shower could wait, but the house needed help NOW.

So, I swept all the floors except for the living room. Then I did my “deep-clean” on the bedroom. That consisted of using the wand on the vacuum cleaner to get any large dust balls or cat hair off everything, then dusting with the Swiffer duster, taking the books out of the book shelf, dusting them, cleaning the bookshelf with the orange cleaner and then lightly oiling them with the furniture oil. I moved onto the dresser, then the TV stand, the headboard and both night stands and did the same thing. Then I went back to the bookcase, wiped it dry as I could with a clean cotton cloth and put the books back. I repeated that with all the other pieces of furniture.

Next, I washed all the glass tops, the mirror and the glass in the pictures. Somewhere in there, I hung up or folded the laundry.

I couldn’t get the dust off the fan, so I figured out how the wire cage came apart and took it apart.  I cleaned the fan blades and the back half of the wire cage (still attached to the fan). I took the front of the cage downstairs and washed it in the laundry sink. I rinsed that and hung it up to dry.

Finally, I washed the wood floors in the bedroom, office and hallway. I cleaned the main bathroom toilet, then washed and oiled the wooden vanity. The last step in the bathroom was to wash the floor. I’ll clean the tub and sink some other time.

It was almost 2:30 p.m. and I was bushed. So, the cleaning went on hold.

Instead, I got to cooking. Now, sometime this coming week, I wanted to make mostaccioli with a meat sauce. The mostaccioli will be simple and quick, but the meat sauce? Not so much.

So, I was making that today.  I started by sauteing some sliced onions in the cast iron pan with some olive oil. I threw in some frozen green peppers (from my garden last year). Next I put in about a pound of ground chuck. I seasoned everything with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. When the meat was browned, I drained it and added three cloves of garlic, minced (hey, I like garlic).

I let that get happy while I hand-crushed a large can of whole tomatoes. I threw them in (juice and all), added a small can of tomato paste, and a good tablespoon of dried basil and about the same of dried oregano. BTW, I wish it was summer and I could use fresh from the herb garden. I also added a good pinch of sugar (to balance the acidity of the tomatoes).

I let that come up to a boil and then reduced the heat to simmer. I let that go for about an hour, stirring it occasionally, until it started to thicken. Then I taste-tested it. Hmmm… Not bad, but a little too sweet. So I added about a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.

I let that get happy for another 15 minutes or so and then taste-tested it again. Now that was good! I took it off the heat, but the residual heat from the cast iron pan will cook it a while longer.

I made a cup of coffee and took a break. I oiled the little moving clips on the fan cage front and reinstalled it. At 5:00 p.m., I got back to work. I put the meat sauce (or “Sunday Gravy” as older Italians refer to it) into two four-cup containers. I got about three cup in each. One went into the freezer in the place of the chicken tenders, and the other in the fridge for this coming week.

Then I started my real Sunday supper: meatloaf, baked potatoes and turnips.

For the meatloaf, I went simple, old-school. I combined a pound of ground chuck and a pound of ground pork. I mixed in about 1/2 cup of minced onion (from one small yellow onion) and a cup of dried plain breadcrumbs. For the wet mix, I lightly beat two eggs, added 1/2 cup of milk, a heaping teaspoon of salt and maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper.

I mixed the two together. Please note: This was a little soupier than I would have liked. I should have used less milk, I think (or maybe just one egg).

I formed that into a loaf shape and put it into a 9”x13” cake pan. Meanwhile, I poked holes into two big russet potatoes. I rubbed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with Kosher salt.

When the oven reached 350 degrees F., I stuck the meatloaf pan in and set the potatoes on the bare rack. I set the timer for one hour and ten minutes.

Since I had the time, I peeled and then cubed three nice turnips. I snuck a few raw pieces to eat on the spot. I learned to love eating raw turnips when I was a kid, working on a truck farm. Come to think of it, I used to do the same thing when I was peeling potatoes as a kid for my Mother.

Sidebar: Yes, Carl, that’s why there was never enough for everybody at dinner…

I covered the turnips with water and set them on the stove to cook later.

Finally, while I wanted a simple meatloaf, I wanted a different glaze. So, I found one.

I mixed four tablespoons of ketchup, four tablespoons of maple syrup, two tablespoons of Dijon mustard and one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. I set that aside for later.

I cleaned up the mess and went in to watch TV until the timer went off. When it did, I turned the heat on the turnips and then poured the glaze on top of the meatloaf. I set the timer back on for another 15 minutes.

When that timer went off, I plated everything (beautifully, I might add) and went to get my camera. That’s when I discovered it didn’t work! Damn! So, I quickly changed the batteries. It still didn’t work. Oh the hell with it, I’m hungry!

Sidebar: I should have remembered the phone camera, but I blame this lapse on hunger.

Everything was great! The meatloaf was plain enough to make it feel hearty, but the glaze kept it interesting (if that makes any sense). The turnips were fantastic with just a little butter and salt. And the only gripe I had with the potato was that it was too big – I tried my best, but could only eat half of the first one (I baked two). Note to self: Don’t buy such big bakers!

I loaded my dinner plate and silverware into the dishwasher and decided I had just enough in here to justify running it (I want to see how clean they come out, lol). So, I added the soap and turned it on. I put the leftovers in the fridge.

One of my all-time favorite movies was on: Jeremiah Johnson. So, I watched that until it ended at 9:30 p.m. I debated about turning on the Oscars, but decided I was tired and just went to bed instead.

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