Monday, November 23, 2015

Black Friday?

Is anyone other than me NOT thinking about Black Friday?  I refuse to play into the hype because:

1. I hate to be manipulated
2. I hate people (a.k.a. "the public")
3. I hate crowds
4. I hate people in crowds
5. I hate spending heaps of cash at one time

That doesn't mean I won't shop on-line (or that I haven't already).  As a person who has a hard enough time resisting impulse buys, I don't even dare look at a circular.  I find that with careful research and knowing what you want to spend on an item, you'll do fine.  I am also in favor of "serendipity" which is different than impulse.   One Christmas gift I found made its way home because when I saw it made me think of someone.  Those are the most fun kinds of buys -- things you want someone to have.

I don't want to buy based on what merchandisers think should be important to us.  Because of this, I refuse to take any Black Friday circular seriously.  Besides, once Turkey Day is done, all I'll want to do on Friday, is nothing!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

We Eat Weird Stuff

The pizza we had for dinner tonight doesn't look all that different from the lasagna we had yesterday.  That is because it was made with leftovers from that meal.

It's hard for me to share a recipe for the things I make because I start out with a basic premise and it gets corrupted by what I find in the fridge as I'm going in and out of it during my meal prep.

The lasagna idea was to use refrigerated/no boil sheets, then add a white sauce that started with a base of flour/fat (butter and lard).  I knew I was going to add milk to that and start adding in cheese.  I like to melt all of the cheese together so it can spread on evenly in thin layers.  My "sauce" had ricotta, mozzarella, fontina, asiago, gorgonzoloa, parm and neufatchel.  I found the latter in the fridge while I was poking around and just decided to use it.  I also added in some chicken stock to thin it down a bit, then created a little extra flavor with green onion and a scallion.  I found one lone large white mushroom, so I sauteed that with some onion and that was put on to one of the layers.

The lasagna was crafted in thin layers, putting down sauce, the lump crab meat (from a can), and then moving on to another layer.  The second layer up had the mushroom.  I did not add the asparagus until I got to the top, then I sprinkled on more cheese.  There was sauce left so I mixed the rest of the crab into that.  A small portion was combined with blue cheese dressing and warmed in the microwave so I could pour some over each piece when it came time to serve.  I heated it up the second time around at 350 degrees.

If this sounds incoherent, it is.  That is just the way I cook!  Tonight I spread the cheese and crab mixture over pizza dough and added cut up asparagus that was left over.  There wasn't much so I decided to use up red onion and capicola that we had.  I put a little more mozzarella over that.

Our meals are just strange. I don't read a recipe. I just buy stuff I think will taste good together and start using it.  It is always a surprise at the end -- but as long as it tastes good, it doesn't matter how I got there.  Just that I made it!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Martha has Help!

I can't entertain like Martha Stewart because I don't have the time or the help!  Last week we had a "pizza party" for eight guests and I made dough, meatballs and stuffed mushrooms.  Friends brought toppings for pizza.  One of our guests bought stuffed mushrooms and meatballs too!  We had a great time and boy was I tired.

My week was busy but we still had to push on for the weekend as it's TBG's BFF's birthday (she's the dama ciclista and latina hermana pequena - little sister).  She, her boyfriend and mother are coming for dinner so I had to start early shopping for the meal and preparing in advance.

We're having a crab and asparagus lasagna.  I made it up ahead so it could solidify and I could warm it up tonight.  Lasagna always tastes better the next day so it will cool and be cooked again.  I have bread dough rising and have already prepared the topping for an antipasto.
With all that was going on, I just could not make a dessert from scratch.  So, we're having supermarket bakery brownies and sea-salt caramel gelato for dessert.  It's the lady's 40th  birthday so it warranted special candles. I have, poorly, written "Happy Birthday" using white frosting.

The table is mostly set but I have yet to iron the napkins and wrap the gift.  TBG still has his cold and is napping.  He worked this morning and took the pup out for exercise, then vacuumed.  The house still needs more attention.
How come when you see a lovely Martha meal or some TV celebrity chef makes a meal for a party, no one ever mentions clean-up?  I guess it's not glamorous.  Doing dishes doesn't qualify as "a good thing."  But it has to be done!   I am looking forward to our evening and it is kind of nice to have the bulk of it done ahead.  I'll get the bread in the oven in another hour and the rest my aching foot.  It's only 2:30 and I am ready to start drinking!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Boring Life...

... fortunately doesn't include boring food. Once again, I find I am too busy to post -- but not too busy to cook.  Tonight it was pasta with salmon, asparagus, spinach, mushroom, onion, goat cheese, Asiago cheese and a little bit of pancetta.

TBG has a horrid cold and I have a big headache.  I'm looking forward to shower and bed.  Once again, I apologize for neglecting the blogosphere!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Kind of Doggy Bag

We had a rotisserie chicken for dinner last night and I picked everything off it so I could start stock before bed.  It was ready this morning and I mixed it, as usual, with a box of stock in order to cut the sodium.  The bones from the first pass ended up in the pressure cooker.  Carrot peels and an egg went into that along with some water.  It cooked down again for about a half an hour and then I added the discards from mushrooms I was hulling.  We are entertaining tonight and will be enjoying stuffed mushrooms.

In order to make this into a slurry, I added a little bit of the fresh stock and some buttermilk.  I whizzed that in the Vitamix and put in a few B-Vitamin complex pills.  The ensuing mixture is definitely revolting to the human pallet, but just the type of thing suited to the canine sense of taste.  This is what I call "puppy sauce."  It is well appreciated snack in our house but also something I make for friends.
The batch of stuffed mushrooms for us will taste quite different than the bottle of "sauce."  It will be a doggy bag for our friends Terry & Kelley to bring home to their grand-pup who is living with them.  She eats a good quality dry food and the puppy sauce will be a nice "top dressing" which will also be nutritious.  I've made Maddie food before and since our freezer already has a jar waiting to be thawed, it made sense to make one to send home in a "doggy bag."

Adding this effort on to my work-load of pre-event cooking meant about twenty extra minutes -- but it also meant that food wasn't being thrown away.  It's really important to me that we don't waste food.  Sometimes it can't be helped.  But if spending a little extra time yields a healthy treat for a friend's dog -- I'm up for it!

Friday, November 13, 2015


I may be addicted to jewelry, but if there is one unsung accessory in my wardrobe, it is the belt.  Not a work day goes by where I don't wear a belt.  Belts do a  nice job of defining your waist -- wear them over a thin shell with a jacket, cardigan or larger shirt over.  You will have a waist but no one will have any clue as to what size it is.

Then there is the issue of the ID badge.  Mine is used for building access and to access network printers -- and I also keep my subway pass in the same holder.  Rather than wearing a lanyard, I opt for a belt clip with an expanding lanyard attached to that.

These two belts were on clearance at Khol's.  A usual, the full retail for them was ridiculous.  Not so ridiculous at 80% off, costing me three bucks a piece. I apparently saved $54.  While I love belts, I never pay full retail for them.   Every belt reaches the end of the season and there is generally enough quantity to garner sizable mark-downs.  They are also an item that tends to be vastly over-priced on the second-hand market.  Look for them on clearance at the end of the season and you'll find that you can build a  nice collection without spending a lot of money.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Day Off...

Ferris Beuller would not have chosen my day for his day off.  I had decided to combine Veteran's day with two days off to give myself a long weekend.  While I did sort of take it easy yesterday, today I worked too hard!  While I had thought I might re-grout the kitchen tile, TBG ask me not to do it because he didn't want effort put into something he hates so much and we plan to replace.  Instead, I spent hours cleaning the kitchen.

I guess cleaning was a better choice as it really had to be done.  I steamed the tile and the cabinet exteriors, dealt with the interior and exterior of the stove/oven, steamed the range hood as well as the floor.  It took hours.  I am pretty sore now too.

This is the last "big thing" I'm feeling obligated to do on my little half-vacation.  We are having people over Saturday night, so cleaning for that won't be as tough -- but I'll still have work to do.  I hate having to waste a day off to do this, but now that I am back at work full-time, I just can't keep everything as clean as I'd like.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get in a daytime swim and a nice bake in the sauna.  I might also design my holiday card while I'm at it, and try to catch up on a few more episodes of Game of Thrones.

One of these years, I'm going to take a vacation like this and go someplace warm by myself.  If I could ever think of a way to do it guilt-free.  Oh well, at least my kitchen is clean!