Friday, December 31, 2010

Big Changes and Comfort Food

There have been many changes at the Osbornes recently.  First, two weeks ago, we moved my mother from one assisted living facility to another.  So you are thinking, what would bring you to do such a thing so close to Christmas?  Well, we had to.  My sister lives the same small community and visits her daily.  My sister works in a care facility for developmentally disabled folks, so she has some learning in the area of care and began seeing some things she thought were wrong.  To make a long story short, she started keeping track of the facility's administration of our mother's medication and found that they were doing a very poor job.  She found that they were skipping days of her medication.  She saw that they hadn't initialed the box in her records for each pill, then after the fact going back and initialling them days later.  Even a non-medical person like myself would know this is like a bad thing.  And, yes, some of her pills are missing.  

I'm not showing current pictures right now, but here is an old blog about her.

Now, when God was handing out stuff, my sister and I were standing in different lines.  She is a sweet and kind person, a great caregiver, but not an assertive person.  I'm sorry, but you don't want to be hurt around me.  I can hand out band aids and Tylenol, but I just don't have much else.  On the other hand, if there is a war to be waged, I'm your gal.  So, I started firing certified mail and faxes at them, but I wasn't there.  My sister did a stellar job of having three meetings with them and they promised corrections, but they couldn't stop making huge mistakes.  So we took her out.  What could we do?  I took too good employees, one of our trucks, our largest trailer and we moved her.  Yea, there's more to the story, but that's the punch line.  

I'm still dealing with the aftermath.  We filed a complaint with the State.  They are currently being investigated.  So, if you are old and can't defend yourself and you don't have two strong people to defend you, what's up with that?  We filed our complaint with the State to defend the others in the same facility.  If you are considering a facility in the central Willamette Valley, e-mail me for info. 

Oh, and she is doing really well so far.  She took the move well and seems to be happy. 

More from that day.    When I was a kid, this was a burger joint called Hansel and Gretel.  I passed it on the way home from grade school and junior high.  I ate there only a couple times, because I almost never had any money and my parents didn't want to eat in burger joints, go figure.  I remember longing, pining actually, to stop and have a soda there.  Some neighbor kids had money for sodas and, Oh My God, milk shakes, but I didn't and I was jealous.  I'm not proud of it, but it's true and I remember to this day.  

But really.  Do you know the Hansel and Gretel story by The Grimm Brothers.  Two children of a poor wood cutter, their step mother convinces Dad to let her take them out into the forest and leave them because they are so poor that there is no food.  The kids overhear the plot and take with them stones to drop on the way out as a path back.  When they return, step mom takes them further into the forest where they meet up with a witch who tries to cook and eat them.  Being a step mother myself, it is hard sometimes, this is really over the line.  Also, not a good name for a restaurant.  Just saying. Today, it is a very nice Mexican Restaurant.  Good food, good service. 

The other big change is that step son, daughter in law, step grand daughter and brilliant baby will be staying with us for a while.  They moved from their old place today.  They are between places temporarily.  It's getting worked on.  We all hope no longer than 2 weeks.  Time to make the best of it. 

Stuffed Potatoes  
I baked seven small russets in the oven early in the day.  Baked potatoes really are better from the oven than the microwave.  It's a texture thing.  When cool enough to handle, I sliced each in half and used a fork to remove the center.  I used to stress out about getting every little bit, but not now.  Leaving a little bit helps them hold their shape and look better.  I sprayed my pan with cooking spray and place each potato skin in it skin side down. 

You can clean out the veggie drawer with this one or use your favorites.  We like this one with broccoli and mushrooms. 

I've got a couple pieces of bacon from a holiday dish which I cook and crumble.  Get rid all grease but 1 or 2 T or how every much you want.  A scallion and 2 cloves of garlic get cooked down a bit.  Broccoli, 2 bunches, finely chopped and the flesh of a roasted red pepper, 1/2 dozen nice big crimini mushrooms, finely chopped. 
Cook baby cook.

Into the potato pulp.  4 T. melted Tillamook butter, 1/2 c. low fat Tillamook Sour Cream and mix to combine.   And by the way, isn't melted butter pretty?

Spoon into the prepared potato shells and bake at around 350 until hot and a little crusty on the top.

Oh, and a Beef Cross Rib Roast doesn't hurt anything. 

Remember to make comfort food.


Friday, December 24, 2010

My trip home

I recently had the occasion to travel back to the area where I grew up.  Actually, it isn't very far from where I live now.  It takes about 1 1/2 hours to drive.  I just don't go often.  The reasons for my trip were not really that pleasant, but everything is turning out fine.  I'll talk about it after the holidays. 

Anyways, I was driving down a road that was very familiar from my childhood.  At that time, the east side of the road was completely developed by older houses, but the west side of the road was mostly large open fields with just the occasional building.  But today, the fields are completely developed with newer houses.  A bit disorienting to see the familiar buildings with unfamiliar buildings all around them.  I nearly hurt myself with the head jerk that happened when I saw this.  

This is the church we attended when I was a kid.  Now it is empty and for sale.  When I was a kid it sat alone in the middle of a large field.  Today it is completely surrounded by houses.  Don't you just love the little steeple?  I remember Sunday School upstairs and after-church coffees and pot lucks in the basement.  I remember my mother enjoyed it and my father did not.  I remember it being cold a lot.  When I was older, I helped out with day care in the back of the building.  I liked that 'cause it got me out of having to attend the service.  I was a bad kid.  Sorry, Mom.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zesty Beef Vegetable Soup

We'll be eating pretty well for a couple days coming up.  So it's soup tonight and tomorrow.  Soup is a creative outlet, different every time.  It is also a chance to clean out the fridge.  It is comfort food and makes me feel warm, safe and secure.  I was taught that feeling as a kid.  What would you want to pass on, if not that?

Good soup is better the second time.  It freezes well.  It's frugal.  It's a one pot dinner.  Need I say more? 

Zesty Beef Vegetable Soup

3 T. four, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper goes into my 8 x 8 square baking pan.  I defrosted 1 package of beef stew meat yesterday. 

Cut it into the size pieces you want to eat.  Stew meat doesn't come cut small enough.  Also, take the time to cut off anything you don't want to eat. 

Now into the flour mixture.  Turn it with a big spoon to coat the meat with the flour. 

Why are we doing this?  The flour is a natural thickener and will help to thicken the sauce slightly.  Also, the next step will brown the meat in oil.  The browned bits of floury outside will add flavor and texture.  

The next step is called braising.  Put 2 T. of good oil in the bottom of the soup pot and get it very hot.  I'm using grape seed oil, but anything from canola to olive oil is fine.  Add the meat piece by piece, moving it around with a large spoon and/or tongs.  Careful, 'cause it's hot.   Turn the meat as it browns.  The point of braising is to brown the outside.  With braising, you are expecting another cooking method to fully cook the inside of the meat.  This can be baking, roasting, stewing and maybe a couple other things.    

More good stuff.  1 (14 1/2 oz) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce, 2 T. red wine vinegar, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1 t. dried oregano, 3 cups beef broth. 

Oh, and a shallot finely chopped.  On that note, this is the creature that I mean.  A small mild red onion.  I like them.  Actually, I like them, a lot.  But recently, I've heard people call green onions shallots.

Alright with me, but I don't much use green onions.  This is what I like.  Or you could use a 1/4 of a big white one.  Or more if you want.  Cooking is a very small part of the day when it is all about me.  The rest of the day, it is all about other people.  So be happy and do what you want.

Now vegetables.  Here is the time you can express yourself with your favorites.  Or you can just clean out the veggie drawer.  Up to you.  I recommend carrots and potatoes.  Winter veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower are good.  A turnip or zucchini is another common choice.  I often use a can of green beans and a can of corn along with what ever I've got fresh.  Here it is today.  Cauliflower from a previous meal in the upper right corner.  Carrots and potatoes (more potatoes would be good.)  Frozen corn in the lower right, frozen peas.  The lower left is black beans from my freezer.  I previously cooked a bag of dried beans for another dish and froze the remainder.  I add beans to soup not because I love beans but because I hear they are good for us.  That's just me. I also added a 1/2 dozen crimini mushrooms quartered. 

Total cook time from the start of the meat is somewhere around 2 hours.  About that time, I start scooping out a piece of meat and a couple chunks of vegetables and sample for doneness.  When the meat is done and tender and the veggies are soft you can serve, although additional slow simmer time doesn't hurt anything and helps the flavors to marry.

On another subject, you do not want to be the next person in a store, customer, vendor or neighbor who asks me if I'm "ready" for Christmas.  Just saying.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What is Love?

The other day I heard that tired old thing.  "Love means never having to say you are sorry."

All I'm going to say about that is No It Doesn't!

Love means seeing your partner at his or her worst and it's alright.

Love means not getting your way this time and it's alright.

Love is sometimes needing to stand up for yourself and it's alright.

Love means the tight abs are gone and it's alright.

Love is not perfect, but it is kind.  Love does not suffer idiots, for love of self is as important as love of others.  (Sometimes more.)

Love means You Should Pick Up Your Stuff! and ....well....maybe not that one.

Love, and all mature relationships, are Give and Take.  More Give than Take.

Hope you pick people who are Also More Give Than Take.  For that balance is important.  Teach the Young Ones to be More Give Than Take and to pick others who are More Give Than Take.

Remember to love.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I love popovers.  Now you can make really simple popovers or you can make really fancy popovers.  Emeril and Ina make fancy, nice popovers.  Google it.  

I make pretty basic popovers.  
This is my popover pan.  I love my popover pan. I bought it a few years back at Goodwill for like $3. 

Before that, I made popovers, like my mother before me, in a muffin tin.  My mother coveted a popover pan, but never had one.  This blog is in honor my mother. 

First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Once the oven is at temperature, put 1/4 to 1/2 t. of butter in each cup and place the pan in the oven for a few minutes. 

Long enough to melt and slightly brown the butter.
Now, mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs and 1/2 t. salt.

Use a whisk.  No need to drag out the mixer.  This is a week night thing.

A few lumps are fine.  Don't stress about this. 

Return the mixture to a small pitcher with a spout for pouring.  Fill each up half full.  In these larger cups of a popover pan, there are 6.  You can do the same thing in a muffin tin and get 12.  They are just 1/2 the size which is really not a bad thing. 

Notice how the batter is pouring into the browned butter and the browned butter is creeping up the sides.  Did I tell you this was a nice thing?  Really.

Careful.  It's all hotter than Blazes.

Now, back into the oven for 20 minutes.  Set the timer and turn on the oven light.  Don't let anyone peek.  Wait the full 20 minutes.

Silly.  I've only had this oven a few months. 

The popovers puff up.  In my oven, I'll need to remove a rack so they have room to puff.

Now is the time to slit the top open with a knife and slip another 1/2 t. or more of butter into them.  They are hallow and ready to take whatever you want to cram in there.  I'm telling daughter-in-law that my mother served them for breakfast sometimes and filled them with homemade apple sauce. 

We've put them in a basket and passed them at the dinner table many times.  But tonight, daughter in law, step grand daughter, brilliant baby and I sat up to the counter and ate most of it as we talked over important matters.  Husband and step son watched in amusement. 

This post was shared with Whatcha-Makin-Wednesdays at Scrap Addicts

Remember to share what you have.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just a few thoughts from here.

  • Husband is pleasantly snoring on the couch, (no, we won't show a picture of that, although it is cute).  And I'm alternately wrapping a few presents and cooking.  The pantry is full. We are warm and healthy.  There is work to do on Monday.  What more can a person want? 
  • This has got me imspired and is the basis of tonight's meal.  I'm modifying it some to suit us.  Thanks to Moms for Safe food for this.
  • The Golden Retriever is warm and happy and curled up under the tree.  As I walk by, he looks up as to say, "what should we do now, Mom?"  Like you've done anything all day, Dude.  Just be happy.  All is well. 
  • I've frequently enjoyed a blogger, Foy.  She is insightful and interesting.  I enjoyed her phase as a food blogger.  Her current passion is to organize her personal possessions and to remove those things which don't add value to her life.  I've watched her go through shoes, books, kitchen items and more, evaluating what is important to her and eliminating the rest. 

I tend to be a pretty organized person.  My stuff is pretty tidy and I have storage for a few extra odd things, if I wish.  But her quest has found me looking through my own things.  This drawer contains recipes, which I compulsively collect. Little things hand written.  Some things in my mother's handwriting. It is a small part of my collection.  It is not untidy.  But, I'm committing myself to go through it, try the recipes and make decisions.  Perhaps preserve those important ones in some more permanent format.  How do you store recipes and other important bits of paper?    

Remember to make conscious decisions about your life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Roasting a Whole Chicken and Potato Patties

I've mentioned that I roast a whole chicken on a week night and you can to.  Give up the boneless skinless chicken breast wrapped in plastic thing.  It is too expensive and just plain frivolous. 

I work a long day and come home tired. I can roast a whole chicken quickly by cutting that little baby in half.  Cuts roasting time and produces a very nice product.  See this link for instructions.

I intentionally wrap up half of it and put it away in the fridge.  I've been taking classes some nights.  It will be nice to come home from Yoga with this in my warming drawer.  

On another note, I've been making these Potato Patties inspired by Melissa D'Arabian's Crispy Potato Cake.  I've changed it only slightly, so the credit is all hers.

I use my omelet pan.  1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter.  Less than Melissa.  Get the skillet screaming hot and lay the grated potatoes (3 medium russets, peeled and grated) into the pan and press it down.  At this point, I press a little fresh parsley into it.  Salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cook until brown on the bottom.  I check it by lifting up an edge and peaking. 

I flip it over by laying a plate over top and turning both plate and skillet over.  Actually husband helps with this procedure.  The the patty gets slipped back into the pan brown side up and back onto medium heat until brown on both sides.

Now into the warming drawer with you both while I make the vegetable.

I made a little gravy with the liquid off the chicken while I was waiting.  

A feast for two for two days.  Remember that left overs are a your friend. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Clean is Clean?

I don't mean to be too preachy.  But wait a second, I'm about to lauch a rant.  So if you don't like that, you may be excused. 

I'm 51 years old.  I rather like that I've reached a certain age and think I have a perspective that the young ones haven't yet reached.  They don't agree, but that's fine too.

It is very difficult to purchase a soap product at the grocery store that doesn't have words "anti-bacterial" on it somewhere.  At some point, it was cool and very commercial to advertise that your product killed germs.  And who wouldn't want that?  You want your house, your kitchen and bathrooms clean.  You don't want germs.  No one can argue.  But is clean clean enough?  Can you get too clean?

Please understand that being my age means that my parents were children in the early Depression.  The last one.  My grandparents were young adults.  All in rural Oklahoma.  My mother's parents were farmers.  Watermellon was a main crop.  My father's parents were ranchers and lived just miles away.  Their families knew each other. 

Both families lived in houses without plumbing until the children were big.  I don't mean to over-explain here.  That means there were no flush toilets, no sinks, no bath tubs, no running water of any type.  No hot water heater.  You get it. 

They went to the outhouse to use the bathroom.  My mom spent her entire life terrified of snakes.  And with good reason.  During the time she was my Mom, we lived in a place with small non-threatening garter snakes.  Who could be afraid of that?  But during her youth, she went to outhouse, warm and wet.  Various creatures liked to hang out there, including rattlesnakes.  My grandmother would take her children to the outhouse and guard them with a shovel while they used the outhouse.  According to family history, my grandmother was very good at killing large snakes by chopping at their heads with the end of the shovel.  There are many details about my family heritage that I doubt, but that's what Grandpa always told us.  There was no sink to wash up, no antibacterial soap.

They raised chickens and killed them for food, chopping off their heads, gutting and plucking them.  Never done it myself.  But I've killed a few critters in my time.  This wouldn't have been a process where everyone stopped and washed up with paper towels and antibacterial soap.  

My mom told the story of once-a-week baths.  In dry hot dusty Oklahoma summers it is hard for those with modern sensibilites to imagine hawling water to a tub, then each person bathing in the same water until the last person.  And repeating next week. 

Understand, we are not talking about the Pilgrams, the Middle Ages, George and Martha Washington.  We are talking about my parents.  I'm old, but really not.  This wasn't that long ago that this was not an uncommon lifestyle.  

Both of my Grandmothers saw 90.  My Mom is alive and 73.  I come from a family that is very healthy, more than most.  The human being is an incredibly strong and powerful being, much more than we commonly realize on a daily basis.  Built into us is this amazing imune system.  I don't have any medical training, but I believe that we are exposed all of the time to germs and bacteria of all types.  That our immune system is supported by this continued exposure, this continued fighting off of bugs.  Of course, this may not be true of people with impared immune systems.  I don't mean to make statements for others.

So what is clean enough?  I was taught that anything that got dirty could be cleaned.  Soap and "elbow grease" (meaning physical effort) applied liberally and often, cleaned everything.  Repeat the next day.  I don't get manicures.  My hands are working hands.  They do things.  And when I'm done, I "wash up" with soap.

When I prepare chicken, I wash my sink, put the chicken in it to clean and pick over it, then wash the sink again.  Am I concerned about getting sick?  Hasn't happened yet? 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Party; Part 3

Just a few observations about cleaning up after a big Christmas Party.
  • The tile floor is sticky, but it seems to be coming up.  I don't even want to know about that!
  • Although all three tablecloths were dirty, I'm pleased to report that it isn't permanent and all will be set right.
  • The kids play room is a disaster.  All of the Barbies have had their clothes removed.  Perhaps they had a good time, too.  Another thing I don't want to know about. 
  • It's a good day when nothing is broken and there are no red wine stains.
  • The dog is very tired today.  Like he has something to complain about, dude.
  • Thanks to all who brought hostess gifts AND included a card so I know who brought what and can get everyone properly thanked.
  • I always have "back-up food."  Extra stuff that can come out in case more is needed, extra guests, poor estimates on my part.  All of it is intact and will make nice plates for us for a couple days.  :)
  • I've got an extra pair of shoes, an extra jacket, and a little tee shirt.  If they belong to you, please let me know. 

Christmas Party; Part 2

Morning of the party and I need to get going.  But first, I need a full belly.  Yogurt, peaches and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal.  A big bowl.  It will be a long day. 

Yesterday the table I'll use for food got it's table cloth.  The big serving dishes came out and got washed.  This morning the table which will be for beverages needs to get set up and a few more food items prepared. 

Ham and Cheese Spread
2 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T. dry onion soup mix
1 c. fully cooked ham, diced
1 c. shredded Tillamook medium cheddar
1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley

Combine all but the last ingredient and shape in a ball.  Roll the ball in the parsley.  Get it really cold.  Serve with crackers, veggies or whatever.

I bought a veggie and dip tray from the deli and transferred it to my own service dishes.  Saves on cleaning and cutting and can actually be cheaper depending on how you do it.  Added green and black olives.  There is crackers and pita bread cut in 8ths.

I made a bundt cake late in the day.  The one with a box devils food cake mix, a big box of chocolate pudding mix, a sack of whipped cream mix, water, oil and 4 eggs.  I'm not proud of this, but that's what happened.

The whole shrimp cocktail thing is there for me to resolve every year.  There is horseradish in cocktail sauce.  I don't use horseradish in anything else.  The choice:  (1) buy prepared cocktail sauce, or (2) buy horseradish and make cocktail sauce with the left over horseradish going to waste.  I decided to buy cocktail sauce.

Kid Punch
One tube of frozen condensed pineapple juice.  One large thing, I guess that's 2 litters, of Sprite, and quart of orange sherbet into the punch bowl. It is sweet and gets foamy on the top.  One of those once a year things.  This was my mom's recipe.  Their celebrations were modest because of budget, but these little treats are the things we remember, anyway. 

There were some adult beverages consumed but everyone used good judgement.  I have had years when this was a problem.  People, when you go to your bosses' house, don't get drunk.  Just saying.

Oh, and I kept most of the meatballs with Josh's sauce in the warming drawer of my oven and transferred them out in batches so they stayed hot.  There's like three left after everyone left. A treat for husband for later.  If you have a chance to buy a new oven, make sure it has a warming drawer.  I use mine for something almost ever day.

This dog goes to work with us every day.  Husband makes sure he is loaded up in a truck headed that way in the morning and headed home at night, so everyone knows this dog.  He was sure to stay close and watch out for any food that got dropped.

I tried to circulate and talk to all of the wives. Hear anything they wanted to say to me.  I'm not a real social person and sometimes have trouble with small talk, but I think that they need to know who we are and that their husband is well thought of.  I heard my Husband doing the same.

The children got a bit rowdy, but Step Son and our Foreman stepped in and handled it

I went to bed just as soon as eveyone not directly related to me left.  Husband and Step Son stayed up.  They hadn't had much to drink.  I think that may have changed after I went to bed.  Then, during the night, the bedroom door opened.  The dog laid his big head on the edge of the bed near my head and Husband was there.  I'll have some clean up in the morning, but until then...

Remember to surround yourself with good but not perfect people.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Party; Part 1

I was raised by (2) very type A people.  I entered adulthood highly productive and self sufficient but really, really tired.  These days, I go to Yoga class Monday nights and Belly Dance class Thursday nights.  I attend classes with people who are literally half my age.  On those nights when I am really horrible at my class, I plan to be horrible + 1 the next week.  Martha doesn't live here any more.

Saturday is our big Christmas Party.  Employees of our business and their families are invited.  Everything will be Make-Ahead and Do-Ahead, because that's just how I'm rolling. No stress here. 

Dish #1:  Several nights ago, I made meatballs and stuck them in my freezer, basically my standard meatball recipe with the addition of the yogurt.  I made them small and will heat them with the family barbecue sauce.  I've got some fancy little toothpicks with red and green flags.  Wait 'til ya see!!

Party Meatballs
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 rolled quick oats
1/4 finely chopped shallot
1 clove garlic
2 t. worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. good quality plain organic yogurt 

Combine and shape into small balls.  Place on a flat, foil lined, metal baking sheet.  Bake in 500 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  I doubled this.  I have lots of meatballs.  My camera stayed at work this night, so you'll have to see them tomorrow. 

Josh's Awesome Barbecue Sauce
2 c. catchup 
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar 
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 t. minced garlic
1/2 t. tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients and refrigerate or use.  Josh makes the most awesome grilled ribs with this.  I've often got a mason jar of the stuff in my fridge and use it to marinade or as a dipping sauce. Not fancy, but real and we like it.  Another fresh one is tucked in there now.  I'll combine it with the meat balls tomorrow.

Our business is a construction company.  Construction men eat.  The meatballs should take the edge off. I'll be finding toothpicks with red and green flags everywhere for months but that's okay. Really.

Dish #2
Hummus and Pita Bread
16 oz can garbanzo beans/chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. sesame tahini sauce
1/4 c. cold water
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil or more
1 t. salt or more

Everything into a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  It doesn't get as smooth as kind you buy in containers. Refrigerate.  We girls will like this.  I can eat my weight in this stuff.  Husband won't touch it.

In next to the barbecue sauce.  The flavors marry and get better with time, so this is a good make ahead thing.

Coming up:  My take on spreadable cheese, shrimp cocktail, my mom's "kid punch" recipe and a few other things.  Check back. 

Remember to plan ahead and be prepared.  And for God's sake, be happy!!!   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Broccoli Casserole

I like inventing recipes.  Sometimes I do it well.  I've been making a vegetable casserole for a couple months.  It has morphed into this, which Husband declares delicious.  Okay, it isn't low calorie, but we ate the whole thing between us last time and broccoli's good for you.  Well...

Broccoli Casserole
2 T. Butter
2 T. All-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 shallot, chopped
1 c. low fat Tillamook sour cream
3 T. milk
3 heads of broccoli
5 crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 red pepper, roasted
1/2 c. medium cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. crushed ritz crackers
1 T. butter melted.

First roast your pepper.  I don't cook with pepper any other way more, because roasting it first is so good. 

Lay it in a flat metal pan and rub it liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with plenty of salt, then broil it until the skin blackens like this. 

Take it out and let it cool enough that you can handle it.  The black skin just rubs off leaving soft and delicious pepper flesh.  Throw away the black. 

Chop the pepper finely.  You end up with something like pimento but with much much more flavor.  I usually do this ahead, so it sits on my cutting board in a little pile to which I add more olive oil and salt. 

Next slice the mushrooms and put them in the same pan with more olive oil and salt.  Back into the broiler until they are sweated and soft.  Don't try to blacken them.  Just a few minutes.

While we are on this subject, I've been watch cooking shows which suggest not washing mushrooms with water!  Instead, they rub them with a clean kitchen towel.  Do you know what mushrooms grow in?  I'm just saying, I wash them well and let them dry on a towel.  I've never had any trouble doing that.  What do you do?  

Next, cook the brocolli in boiling salted water.  With a knife, cut off the central stem, then cut the florettes into bite size pieces.  Once they are cooked, drain the brocolli in a collandar and return to the pan.  

In a large skillet, make the sauce with the butter and flour, salt and sugar, sour cream and sauce.  Add the brocolli and mushrooms and roasted pepper to the sauce and toss.  Turn this mixture into a casserole dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

On top of the casserole, layer grated cheese and crumb mix.  Make the crumb with butter and ritz crackers.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly. 

Trust me, its yummy.

Together with a small piece of Tuna.  A good dinner.

This blog post was linked with Kelly the Kitchen Kop -
Scrap Addict for Sure -

and Culinary Bliss -

Remember to eat your vegetables.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kitchen Talk #4; Really?

Looks like I picked up a counterfeit $10 bill.  Literally.   I was walking out of Target after shopping.  On the ground in front of me in the parking lot was a bill.  There was no one standing around close by and I didn't see where it came from so I put it in my pocket.  When I got back to the car, I took it out and was about to incorporate it into my wallet.  There was something not quite right about it.  It looked like a $10 bill but the feel of wasn't right.  I decided that it had been run through a clothes washer or something and put it in my wallet. 

But I started thinking about it.  I took it out and looked at it, again.  I had others look at it.  Some thought it was real.  Others were suspicious.  I wouldn't want to pass along fake money.  I decided to take it to the bank.  I bank at a small local bank which means everybody knows me and I know everyone there.  (There's another kitchen talk there.)  I asked my regular lady to look at it.  I told her it is probably fine, but what did she think?  She took it to other people and came back saying they thought it was fake and that she was required to take it.  She said they would send it to a place where people would make an actual determination.  If they decided it was real, I'd get it back.  If not, I'd get a receipt saying that it was confiscated. 

So here's what I think about that.  Here is someone who clearly has some skills.  There must be some technical skills to know how to make a passable bill.  Also, there are organizational skills.  This person can make a plan and put it into action, then follow through to completion.  This isn't a timid person.  It would take some guts to tender fake money.  This is a person who could use all those skills to do something actually good or helpful.  They could hold down a job, for pete's sake. 

But no, this thief uses all his talents to cheat business owners out of their hard earned money.  No excuse!  Shame!  That's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Homemade Noodles

My Mom made homemade noodles.  She stewed whole chicken from the market, which she called a stewing hen, for soup and added the noodles.  When she bought a whole chicken for frying, she called it a frying hen.  It was a young adult at the store buying a chicken one time before I realized they were the same thing.  Remember that everyone has things about them that make them unique and special and its a good thing.   

For years, I didn't make homemade noodles until I bought an old cookbook at an antique store and found a recipe for it.  Recipes and food brings back memories and happy feelings.  So why not indulge in this pleasure however you can. 

Homemade noodles
1 beaten egg
2 T. milk
1/2 t. salt
1 c. all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 t. dry thyme

Combine the ingredient until you get a smooth ball.  Knead with your hands a few times.  This is a sticky and firm dough.  Flour a board and place the ball the board, turning to cover with four.  

With rolling pin, begin to roll as with pie dough, adding any flour that is needed to keep the dough dry and not sticking to things. 

Every couple rolls, rub it with a floury hand and turn it over.  Rub that side also.  Continue roll it as thin you can. 

Cut it in half with a large knife or a pizza cutter. 

Lay one half over the other so that the cut edges line up. 

Cut it again so that there are now 4 pieces. 

Lay one side over the other so that cut edges line up.

Then start slicing and separating the slices.  Sprinkle with flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel.  They are much better if they dry like that for at least 24 hours, but 48 hours is fine or even longer.  Really, the drier the better.  Then add them to your soup when you are ready.

Remember to have family traditions.