pop-ups

dang

Don’t you just hate these? Especially the entry type that appear a second or two after you’ve entered a site. Even if I wanted what they were offering, I’d never click anything besides the x as a matter of principal. So intrusive; when I go to a site I immediately (and apparently stupidly) begin typing my search, which is interrupted when the pop-up appears. I lose my place, and occasionally my train of thought. Why would you think I would want to subscribe to whatever it is you’re promoting if I haven’t even seen it yet?

To happily digress, today’s email cluster brought Smitten Kitchen’s weekly newsletter – I’ve followed Deb Perelman for such a long time; she’s a wonderful writer and photographer, notwithstanding an amazing curator and creator of recipes. I can’t bitch about the size of my 9 x 11 kitchen when she manages in hers; I’ve never had counter space no matter the size of the room. My issue these days is the lack of storage for my absurdly massive collection of cooking vessels and tools. we were able to retrofit roll out shelves in the main area but the coat closet in the den, the basement and attic are homes for the bulk of the inventory including my hoard of food products.

Although my aged bod has failings and limitations, I’m blessed with good hips, knees and the balance to be able to haul my cast iron down the treacherous stairs lined with my ferments and bread making supplies.

I’d better stop getting annoyed about the pop-ups, the blood pressure is volatile in spite of diet, exercise and meds.

Ta

bread

I like a soft boiled egg on Friday; this is my feeling free day since I mostly retired a year ago. I actually have to schedule time to do nothing – a tip from Headspace https://www.headspace.com/, a very good site featuring guided relaxation and meditation on a myriad of subjects and situations. Also recommended by the Dutch, who seem to have perfected the art. The productivity addiction for me was unfortunate function of working for the man all these years. Have to get it done at work, then come home and do it some more.

My weekday routine has been to start the day with a protein shake; it’s an expeditious way to get the digestive system rolling and ensures that I will consume a certain amount of fruit each day. I wish I liked fruit more but since my taste buds are jenky due to them being radiated, eating fruit is a challenge. The sensation I get is like sucking on a lemon, no matter what fruit I try (except maybe a perfectly ripe peach or fig).

I usually have a cooked breakfast on Sunday consisting of leftover meal scraps, lots of veggies and greens formed into a frittata. Also, a serving of the ever popular avocado toast.

I love carbs so much. I made a gorgeous no-knead harvest bread for tonight’s Sunday dinner offerings. Also on the menu, a Southwest-style chopped salad with extra kale & spinach and vegetarian stuffed peppers.

I have been trying to use what’s in my pantries and both refrigerator/freezers; I don’t know if I lived through the Depression in a past life but I acknowledge the fact that I’m a food hoarder. Included in that issue are spices, herbs and kitchen tool. In my defense I use them all (except the food, I keep buying more).

My family joins us on Sunday so that clears out a certain amount of product but I also hoard recipes so I usually have to augment my stock. First world problems, eh?

This is my anxiety medication – lucky since none of the real stuff worked. Nothing tragic, just dark clouds all the time. I managed to go through the motions of life (work, keeping up the household & finances) but stopped socializing or wanting to do anything happy. There were a number of burdensome people and issues in my life at the time.

When I started this blog in 2017 I was trying to show myself that my life was good by writing about it. I think I described what precipitated my digitizing my life but it caused a spark. Also, I enjoy technology.

I had a cancer, which is in remission; I didn’t play into it but had a scare during the removal of it and lived to tell the tale. I unfortunately didn’t come away with a new zest for living, but decided I better act like it and start appreciating all my luck and some of the goodness in my life regardless of the bad bits.

I love my photographs and due to the aforementioned OCD tendencies, they were already organized and living in albums. Every day I see or hear about tragic catastrophes where people are still alive but have lost all their possessions. They always mention their pictures and photos. Most of my stuff I could live without but not my photo memories. I set about digitizing them all; I used a flatbed scanner for the albums, page by page titling and dating them. I scanned all the framed photos as well. This project took about three months as I chipped away at it a bit at a time. It actually was less tedious than I would have thought (since I didn’t have a personal deadline) and mostly fun looking at them all.

Next came the recipes, that was a labor of love. I had a ton in an old data binder (from family, friends, neighbors, potlucks etc.), a bunch of the little Pillsbury and Gooseberry Patch books, newspaper clippings and, of course numerous cookbooks with a zillion post-it notes stuck in them – cooked and liked, wanted to cook, bleah; time to thin the herd; I have no room for cookbooks nor could I find anything in them if I wanted to. I spent a fair amount of time editing and eliminating, then proceeded to copy the survivors into word documents. I was often able to find them online as so many came from Better Homes, Bon Appétit  and the many ‘Living’ mags i.e. Midwest, Southern and Sunset.

Unfortunately, each time I found one, another rabbit hole opened up lol! I did cross reference a lot of them e.g. chicken stew was filed under chicken and stew. They number almost 12,000, in 80 folders and sub-folders. They take up almost 4gb and are stored in Google Drive and redundantly on a thumb drive.

I love Google’s speedy and efficient search; put in the word ‘celery’ and it quickly will first list recipes with the name ‘celery’ in them and then begin diving deeper to any recipe with the ingredient. Great for using up little bits of things I refuse to throw away. I’ll find something that will use it.

Case in point – tonight’s dinner, as mentioned, uses an assortment of fresh and frozen (for too long) veggies and miscellaneous grains, plant-based meatish items and frozen grated cheese. Dessert is a Kentucky jam cake but more like an Oregonian as I had to use up some lovely Loganberry jam my daughter brought me from her trip west. Also some pretty old buttermilk but, like yogurt, who would know if it was bad? I think it will all complement.

Ta

good times

B-day present to me, road trip to Cincinnati & environs. Beautiful weather, first week in January. Landed in Covington (VRBO lodging); Google nav crapping out so we drove a bit and landed downtown and found a Cincy Zone parking spot … Continue reading

PACKAGING ARRRRRRRGGGHHHH

First world problems that make me crazy…

Whatever evil products do clothing manufacturers use to package their items with permanent wrinkles and creases? No amount of heat or steam removes these ridges and folds.

How about packaging?  I began a blog about 15 years ago so I could publically rant about things that drive me crazy but since I’m a pitiful introvert, I didn’t actually want to be publically noticed.   I know now that I’m in the majority (the packaging issue) and also old and nobody wants to read my shit, so I can bitch all I want. 

Stop with the blister pack, the foil on bottles that come to me in cardboard packaged bottles or containers with shrink wrap on them that I can’t see to remove.

Tools of the trade – an ice pick, needle nose pliers, this wonderful item,

and a large knife.

Ta

expired

Found this in one of my boots, must have dropped it in there while moving my winter downstairs to my 2 cubic foot – sized closet (I try to carry as much as I can each trip up and down – my life in 3 stories, of house, that is, another post). One of my team-mates at work had a Sam’s membership and I had her pick me up a case of Newman’s Own Organic pods – like 4+ years ago. Still good, notwithstanding the fact it had been residing in a boot. Disclaimer – my taste buds are shot due to radiation therapy lol so don’t believe anything I say. Actually I’m a great cook and go by smell and memory – I can still sort of taste coffee, dark chocolate and beer. Life is good.

I frequently consult the website https://www.stilltasty.com/ and even though I’m aware of ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ date data and have used many an expired product and lived to tell the tale, I’m paranoid when feeding it to my younger family. I figure the husband and I (being old) have ingested our share of crap and survived thus far but the kiddos (grown children) were brought up on more ostensibly wholesome fare.

Today’s use -it- up menu consists of homemade pizza to use two lovely kumatos a bit past their prime, and bits and pieces of fixin’s from Christmas eve DIY pizza party. Pickled beet eggs (going to use an adapted Molly Yeh recipe) since I forgot to use the fresh cooked beets in the winter vegetable salad I served Christmas day with a beef bourguignon mash-up and an apple cake that will be enhanced by some caramel sauce left from the Double Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding made for the said meal. Also made an apple cider reduction, and froze leftover chicken broth and heavy whipping cream in these King Cubes from BB & B, love them (the Cubes).

BB & B gets on my nerves as do most retail websites that pop up during a search; you Google your desired item and up pop the usual suspects, only to find it’s not available in a 4,000 mile radius of your home, out of stock, etc. Retailers or computer programmer people take note – don’t show the inventory unless you have it. Boom.

I’ll probably reduce what’s left of the Port from the cake recipe as it won’t last and I don’t like it as a beverage, I’m a beer baby. I’ll post the apple cake recipe if it’s any good.

Just realized there’s no spell check option LOL. I should have been a proofreader since I catch errors frequently but then I would have to read all kinds of crap I don’t care about. Don’t like reading even my own stuff. Hope I didn’t miss anything.

Ta

2019

Now semi-retired and satisfiying my most emergent OCD desires. A consummate nit-picker and certainly germ savvy, having worked in a infectious disease enviromnent for the last 20 years and lived to tell the tale. A couple of yoga classes a week, a walk (weather permitting) half a day at work, much food prep but I seem to have less time than ever.

I can’t ever throw out a piece of food, one of the compulsion parts of my OD.

Cooked the pie pumpkins I’ve had since 1 November; I halved them, tossed them in a 375° oven for an hour or so; when coolish, scraped out the seeds & string and tossed the remains in the food processor. Pureed till smooth, then hung in a cheesecloth lined strainer for an hour. Saved the juice dregs for I don’t know what then smeared the pulp on a parchment lined baking sheet. 400° oven for about 20 minutes to attempt to boost the flavor profile, fresh pumpkin is pretty bland, canned for our t-giving pies is usually butternut squash. Freeze in 1 cup portions. If I could figure out how to insert a pic here I’d show you how I fill a quart freezer bag and portion it so I can break apart what I need and not waste a whole bag. WP101 – how about I read a couple of tutorials….

Next, falafel as I had a poor wrinkled cucumber I forgot to serve as a crudite so I had to make tzatziki. Then I had to make something to go with it hence, falafels. Pain in the ass, soak the garbanzos, drain and add to food processor with cilantro, garlic, s & p, cayenne, lemon juice, baking soda. I first used my Ninja that wasn’t strong enough so had to fire up brunhilde which I should have done in the first place since I had to puree the punkin.

Much washing of less than useful instruments ensued but all items satisfactorily pureed.

Toasted up some bland gifted banana bread, and downsized the remaining cookies from Christmas to smaller receptacles. Still have a lot of springerlie.

Made so much food I don’t have to cook till Sunday dinner, then off to a short sojurn in Cincinnati – belated B-day gift to me.

Ta

didgeridoo and Friday too

The previous night’s storm brought the humidity & temps down a bit and as I was in desperate need of  a break from work yesterday, one of my teammates joined me for a walk through the cemetery close by.  I’ve written about this beautiful place in an earlier post.  As we headed down the hill on the backside, we approached the next hill at the edge of the lake; we pass a wonderful stand of bamboo and, lo and behold, there lay some fallen canes.  There is a lot of it in NC and on our last trip, the son mentioned he’d like a piece to make a didgeridoo.  We didn’t score any due to constraints of available space and private property restrictions.  You can’t take anything from the cemetery as it is a nature preserve but I knew they would just mulch it like they do with all the other dead wood so we dragged it up the hill and continued on our path.  We nonchalantly walked by the guards on our way out, hauling our booty, waving as usual.  By the time they thought of something to say, we were thru the gates and headed down Broadway with our 15 foot log.  We carried it into work and set it in the hall so I could wipe it off before I put it in my car.  Lots of smiles along the way, especially as we went through the emergency entrance (the revolving door wasn’t an option – in younger years I might have tried it).  Come time to leave, one of my other mates helped me shove it into my ride – we attached this garish red bow leftover from some 60’s Christmas display to the end of it as it hung out at least a car length and off I went.  I laughed at my own stupid ass all the way home (as did everyone else I passed – especially the group outside the bar in Germantown enjoying happy hour).  The traffic gods were on my side as I encountered very little traffic driving in the left lane with the festive pole hanging out there in the right.  One tense moment as I passed a cyclist but I cleared him.  This picture doesn’t really depict how dorky this looks.

Our son, the didgeridoo-maker, is a luthier – he’s been back with us after spending 6 years in Phoenix getting educated and experienced.  At an early age he witnessed the joys of junk picking and creating using found objects.  Some people call this hoarding, we call it repurposing.  He has set up shop at the Mellwood Arts Center http://www.mellwoodartcenter.com/

The dream, of course, is to build custom guitars – bass being his forte.  As mentioned earlier, he plays with a group currently meandering around the eastern part of the country; he is also an accomplished sax player and his mother would like to hear him play once again.  Repair work sustains life while he works on his current project(s);   Please visit his site and place an order. http://www.scottguitarworks.com/

During down times at work, our discussions often revolve around food.  One of the kids is going away next week and has booked accommodations with a kitchen.  My family does this almost exclusively as most of our trips involve enjoying the benefits of my brother’s timeshares.  She has successfully tried a number of my slow cooker recipes at the holidays and was going to use them on her trip.  This gal, by the way, does not appreciate my decorative office gnomes and was kind enough to forward me this super picture – I’m surprised she wasn’t afraid to let them into her phone!

We got to talking about Thanksgiving food as one of the recipes is for boneless turkey breast in the s-cooker.  I’ve been halfheartedly trying to empty my freezers and today I hit my stride.  This was so I could put off working on the porch sealer project.  I made the week’s fiber-load muffins (recipe back there somewhere) with dried blueberries past the ‘best if used by’ date.  Getting a jump on Sunday dinner (I always think I am but I’m actually just cooking more stuff) I found two bags of last year’s frozen cranberries so I made my sis’s cranberry pie – also used up really outdated-but-not-rancid organic shortening (just 2 Tbsp and it really makes the topping crunchy!) and dinner will be an impossible pie made with frozen Christmas turkey & dressing with Trader Joe’s baking mix about to expire.  Maybe this should be a new theme – Stale but not Dangerous?  Not as Tasty as it Used to Be?

Oh I do need to promote another product I like a lot – Gleen Green Cleaning Cloths http://gleencloth.com/– picked one up at Kroger awhile back.  Not cheap, almost $5 but the first time I used it to wash my full-glass front door I was hooked.  Proceeded to do all my windows, blinds, shutters, wood surfaces (including furniture), stainless, leather, tchotchkes, dog, (don’t have a dog) and anything else in the path.  I usually use a vinegar- water mix on the windows but it says you can just use plain water.  I had to constantly rinse the cloth – didn’t think the place was THAT dirty. The best part is no streaks or lint left behind!  Yay!

At this time I’m mentally up to date.  Later taters. (someone else made that up)

Impossible Turkey and Stuffing Pie

Cranberry Pie

July? Really?

The week of the 4th we travelled to my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Etowah, NC; I was happy to have our son with us as he brings a different dimension to the mix.  Not only do I have someone to converse with on the trip, he’s fitness-oriented which helps to keep me motivated.  He hiked in the Pisgah National Forest www.hikewnc.info/trailheads/Pisgah, I walked the hills of the neighborhood; he went to the fabulous Y in Biltmore Park, Image Gallery I did yoga in the backyard; he ran 6 miles, my sis and I walked three.  He got poison ivy.  We always go for a Black and Bleu Burger at the Black Rose in Hendersonville but this time we changed it up as we had been eating more meat than usual.  I had an outstanding spinach salad with goat cheese.  Although that area sees quite a bit of rain, the weather was fantastic compared to L-ville, where it was in the 100’s.  There are so many towns to visit in the Asheville vicinity, we try to visit 2 – 3 times a year.  One excursion took us to the River Arts District along the French Broad River  http://www.riverartsdistrict.com/; as usual I’ve let almost two weeks go by with a post hanging fire and now August is a week away.  The Daughter and family were on another trip over the weekend so thinking I’d have less prep for Sunday dinner, I decided to finally get the back porch cleaned.  Last year it just got a lick and a promise (kept up with the big chunks of course) but with most of the storm damage repair complete it was time.  This is also prep for the annual wood preservative application.  This time I’m trying an Olympic product that promises to last more than one season.  You don’t get much service out of the clear coats but this one talked the talk.  We haul everything outside and scrub it down with Dawn and a degreaser.  I chose solar screen fabric for the top areas when we added the porch on to the house – it was a pretty good decision as it provides a certain amount of privacy but with good visibility looking out.  The fabric is strong and hasn’t stretched in 6 years and has prevented a lot of furniture fabric fade.  My husband thinks it holds in the heat but I think that’s a function of an un-insulated screened porch baking in the sun all day. It’s a nasty hard job but so nice when it’s done.  One other side effect of this production is that all the furniture and trinkets have to be cleaned, painted, renewed and/or replaced.  Whew.  I’m happy with this year’s outcome as I hit a great sale at Target and was able to replace the hodgepodge of cushions I’d collected over the years.  The painting wasn’t so bad either as I’m loving the Krylon and Rust-Oleum products – especially the bronzes and stains.  I’ll probably coat the porch this weekend as the temperature is supposed to be a little cooler Saturday.  The boy-o left today for a two-week road trip thru the Northeast territories with his band Quiet Hollers http://www.quiethollers.com/ .  We all got together for a send-off on Pizza Nite – the offerings were  Barbecue, Garden Veg and  a couple of leftover slices of Margherita frozen from the week before. That one was especially tasty as we made it with fresh Cherokee Purple tomatoes

we brought back from Asheville along with fresh pesto with basil from the garden.  As usual I used Mama Mary’s Whole Wheat Pizza Crusts.  The barbecue was frozen leftover shredded chicken breast tossed with Stubbs’ Spicy Barbecue Sauce, an onion sliced and softened by placing it in a foil pack with a splash of olive oil and placing it in the oven while it preheated to 425°, sliced banana peppers and shredded colby jack.  The Veg consisted of a saute of frozen pepper & onion stir fry blend, pre-sliced mushrooms and a sliced baby summer squash; fresh romas and basil on top of the mix and a shredded mozzarella-fontina blend to finish.  We usually cheese the crusts a bit before adding the toppings and always sprinkle cornmeal on the pan/stone before adding the crust.  They bake about 12 – 15 minutes and I turn down the heat to 385° about halfway thru.  I was using convection since I had both oven racks going.  We were watching the 2012 Clio Awards for advertising – I hope they post them on YouTube soon, there were a couple that were insanely hilarious that I’d like to share; unfortunately I can’t remember the products they were hawking.  America’s Got Talent followed, most of us were out on the porch watching while we ate…just about the time I get tired of this show they arrive at the finals.  I don’t like watching anything competitive – life’s tough enough.  I’d like to see what’s happened to  some of the great and bizarre acts that don’t make it..I hope that they’ve been picked up by some talent scout and we’ll see them in a commercial or Disneyworld.    Or TLC.  Or the History Channel with the Swamp People.  After that I ran everyone off and went to bed.

Pizza Recipes – use the search box

The June of Roofs

A couple of months ago our little neighborhood suffered a hailstorm – it cut a peculiar swath through town, the beginnings of which were reminiscent of the tornado super outbreak of ’74.  I mentioned this in previous posts, I’m ever so thankful for the insurance I’ve paid for all of these years;  our blocks have been abuzz with roofers and other contractors, homeowners outside watching and talking with their neighbors  – an oddly festive atmosphere.  Most of us have chosen the architectural shingles – we’re beginning to look like an English village.  Last weekend the family celebrated Father’s Day and our two childrens’ birthdays.  I wasn’t sure what the weather would bring so planned on cooking indoors.  Sure enough we had a downpour but were able to enjoy porch time, presents and a nice dinner.  As usual I was trying to cram too much into my Saturday so tossed one of my favorite crockpot recipes together – the recipe began as Turkey and Butternut Squash Ragout with Beans but has become Chicken Thigh and Sweet Potato Ragout with Beans – try and find turkey thighs this time of year.  Not a fan anyway – too much stringy meat.  The best part of this meal is the side of polenta.

Cheesy Polenta

Turkey and Butternut Squash Ragout

As Time Goes Bye Bye

I’ve discovered yet another use for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers they remove oil-based deck stain splatters from your skin.  Having spent the better part of the afternoon reviving the backyard privacy fence with black stain, it was time switch gears and start dinner prep.  I had planned an easy meal (mentioned in an earlier post) of pesto salmon with sweet potato fries and a steamer bag of vegetables, but I also wanted to start on Sunday’s meal as the bro-in-law was in town and would be joining us along with his mother for Sunday dinner.  I had put on my fabric garden gloves for quick removal in order to answer the many calls from work I was receiving as our RIS system upgrade had quickly degraded to a downgrade by the end of the week. The day was blistering hot but the more irritated I became with the work problems, the more productive I became in the yard.  Damn fence got done and as some of you might know, one completed project makes the remaining surrounding environment look shabby.  Proceeded to pot up a bunch more herbs, re-pot root bound ornamental trees, paint the rest of the patio chairs,  yadayadayada.  I finally stopped when I realized hypothermia was setting in.  Looong story short, needed to quickly clean up; the stain had seeped through the gloves and the rest of me was covered in splatter,all of it quite dry by that time.  I have a magic eraser in the shower to wipe down the tile – I gave my hand a swipe with it and off came the stain (that is, enough of it to not necessitate a mineral spirit bath).  I wonder if it would work as a DIY dermabrasion?  Just kidding.  Dinner ensued and I did manage to put together a  tortellini salad for the next day made with  frozen pesto I had put up last fall.  I freeze it in ice-cube trays (leftover whipping cream as well).    Sunday dinner was fun – the weather was beautiful so we were able to enjoy sitting outside.  The meal was great – my favorite tomato tart (good tomatoes from Tennessee are in), grilled flat-iron steak, the pesto salad and a last-minute veggie, green beans with feta, toasted walnuts and cranberries.  Dessert was Very Berry Triple Fruit Pie. The evening’s entertainment (besides our granddaughter, the star of any show) was home movies on the laptop with soundtrack provided my YouTube station http://www.youtube.com/user/4basil9?feature=guide .  We have remote speakers hooked up to our PC.  Our daughter has been transferring our family VHS tapes to DVD and brings a few over each week.  The transfer is taking awhile as she can’t help but watch them as she’s editing.

I’d like to send a shout-out to our Bashford Manor Lowes..fast forward to  Memorial Day weekend, the backyard is coming together but I still had no repair/replacement plan for our deteriorated concrete patio, my main view as I look out the kitchen window while I do most of my food prep & cleanup.  I do have a $4K bid to turn it into a ground level deck and Concrete-man has not called me back with a quote.  I want this off my plate as I’m tired of thinking about this and now have to obtain a number of other quotes for the hail damaged stuff.  I get online for a few minutes and outdoor carpet pops up amongst many other pricey options. Eureka!  Hop in the car – first stop is Target for landscape lights (since I just mentally saved about $3K, I rationalize I can now purchase some yard tchotchkes.  Next door is Wal Mart for a bag of black mulch and, hopefully, some zinnias as I have difficulties starting plants from seed due to the eco-system that is my yard.  Too many critters that appreciate my efforts and enjoy munching on tender seedlings, bulbs and any vegetables that attempt to grow.  On to Lowes where the first person we encounter as we walk in the door asks if we need help and proceeds to escort us to the flooring area.  We quickly decide on a sample and the gal stops a co-worker to help her roll out, cut and shrink-wrap a 12′ x 12′ piece for us.  We were out of there in 15 minutes.  Great service!!  My patio looks so much better and all for under $100. 

I made a cheeseburger salad (using soy crumbles) based on Ree Drummond’s recipe for last week’s Sunday gathering..wasn’t sure about the weather and didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.  It’s an interactive meal as you build your own salad.  A side dish of zingy coleslaw (I accidentally added a Serrano instead of a jalapeno) rounded it out.  As the title of this post implies, too much time is passing too quickly; can’t remember what dessert was, maybe Ghirardelli Turtle Brownies.  Heading out to the yard as it’s once again Sunday.  Daughter and family are in Florida so it will be a quiet dinner.  Our son has had two career boosts this weekend, one of which was landing a school system bid.  I’m really hoping he can continue on his journey to follow his heart.  Tonight will feature adult beverages,  grilled lamb burgers with spinach feta relish, a bang-up potato salad (had to use up some celery and Wickles Pickles relish) and grilled carrots with fresh thyme.  There may be beans.  Dessert will involve dark chocolate.  I now must go forth and buy sod.

Pasta with Pesto

Fresh Tomato Tart

Flat Iron Steak Southwest Rub

Green Beans & Cranberries

Very Berry Triple Fruit Pie

Cheeseburger Salad

Coleslaws

Grilled Lamb Burgers

Spinach Relish

Classic Potato Salad with Cornichons