Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fat Tuesday

It was still cold (6 degrees F. when I took the trash can out) but it felt a lot warmer on Tuesday. I left early to hit Meijer’s and their paczki offerings.

Sidebar: I wasn’t going to do it. Nope, no sir! Let somebody else take over. But then I realized, it was up to us old farts to keep tradition going. So, I bought four boxes of four each of various paczki. The selection was limited (three types) so I got one box of prune-filled, one box of Boston cream-filled (?) and two of raspberry (everybody these days loves raspberry).

I’m sticking with prune-filled. Back in the day, that’s what paczki were. The rest all came later and, to me, they’re just dense, filled donut, paczki-wannabees.

Sidebar: You can turn your nose up and say, “Meijer’s?” but I didn’t have three hours to wait in line in Hamtramck at a real Polish bakery.

So, I had a prune paczek (the singular of paczki, as I learned from my niece Hannah) with a cup of coffee and enjoyed reminiscing. My first wife was part Polish and I loved visiting with her grandparents in Hamtramck.

I went to Newburgh Grill for lunch and, instead of one of the specials, I just asked for a bowl of their beef vegetable soup (the bean with ham wasn’t ready – sigh…)

Then I went to the nearby gas station and filled my tank (freezing my ass off – but I don’t like to get the tank below half a tank, to prevent gas line freeze).

Back at work, I read for the rest of my lunch hour.

It started to snow around 2:00 p.m. At first it was a light snow, but then it got serious. I only hoped it would stop before the 5:00 p.m. rush hour.

And, this time it did! I had to scrape the windows, but the expressway was dry and I only got home five minutes late.

I got the trashcan in and collected the mail, then I went in to treat Caley. If I’d seen the barf on the bed’s top blanket first, I might not have been so kind! I put the blanket and all the towels in the washer and turned it on. I decided not to wait for tonight’s dinner refuse and ran the dishwasher as well.

From there I went out back and refilled the feeders. It was 21 degrees (for a change) and I thought the birds and squirrels would appreciate it.

Back inside, I started to make meatballs. I had thawed out a pound of ground chuck over the weekend and needed to use it or lose it. Now, I normally cook my homemade meatballs in my homemade sauce for three hours, but I didn’t have time tonight. I had a 7:30 p.m. appointment at my dentist to pick up that mouth guard.

So, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and added the dry ingredients to a big bowl. I put in 1/2 cup of dried bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, one teaspoon oregano, two teaspoons dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, two tablespoons of dried minced onions and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Did I mention this is a pantry-only recipe?

I whisked one egg in another bowl and then added 1/4 cup of milk. I added the ground chuck to the dry ingredients and then added the wet. I squished everything together with my hands until thoroughly mixed.

I got the broiler pan from the downstairs closet (I don’t use it that often) and dusted it off. Then, I rolled the meatball mixture into golf ball-size. I tried to keep them consistent. I was hoping for 12, but only managed to get 10.

I put them on the broiler pan, spread out, and stuck them in the oven for 30 minutes. I cleaned up the kitchen (and myself) while I waited. Then I stuck the blanket load into the dryer.

When the timer went off, I turned off the oven, but let them sit there, staying warm. It was time to go to the dentist.

I drove there (Beech-Daly and Ford Road) through light snow. I was there less than a half hour, but when I came out, I was amazed! There was almost two inches of heavy, wet snow on the truck! I brushed it off, put the truck in four-wheel drive and then headed home.

I had thought seriously for a dinner side tonight, so I stopped in at the Kroger’s on my way home (on Ford Road between Beech-Daly and Inkster). I damn near fell on my butt just walking in! But, I bought two tubs of grape tomatoes, two bunches of green onions and a big chunk of feta cheese.

I slowly drove back from there and got home about 8:30 p.m. I dumped a can of jarred pasta sauce (I go with Classico Family Favorite traditional for red and Bertolli Alfredo sauce, myself) into a large pot and turned it on medium-low. The meatballs were dried out a bit (of course) so I put them in the pasta sauce to warm up and loosen up.

I put some water and salt into my pasta pot. While that heated up, I made my tomato salad.

Sidebar: I was making this one up.

I used most of the tomatoes, after slicing each in half. I cut up all the green onions on the biase and added them to the glass bowl. Then I cut a bunch of pitted Kalamata olives in half as well. Finally, I cut the feta cheese into big chunks and dumped them in.

I put the thick spaghetti in the pasta pot and set the timer for 11 minutes.

Sidebar: Unless it’s under, say Chicken Piccata with capers, I dislike angle hair or even thin spaghetti. I think thick spaghetti tastes and feels like “spaghetti!”

I dressed the tomato salad with bottled Italian dressing (I told you this was a weekday, pantry thing). I put it in the fridge to get happy.  Overnight would be better, but I was under a time crunch.

When the pasta was done, I mixed it with the meatballs and pasta sauce. Finally, I plated my dinner and added some of the tomato salad.

It was excellent!

I put away the leftovers, cleaned up the kitchen and went into watch the taped NCIS episode that aired at 8:00 p.m.

I fell asleep before it ended. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. for a bathroom break, shut off the TV and then went back to bed. It wasn’t until the alarm woke me Wednesday morning that I realized I never even put the damn mouth guard in!


  1. That's danger close to a Greek salad, right? As far as pantry meals, you nailed it!

  2. I hadn't thought about that, but yeah. I just wanted a side dish with enough taste to stand up to the heavy spaghetti and meat balls.