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Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 No comments

Life and Work in the Time of Pandemic (part 2, food)

Coronavirus (image credit: CDC, public domain)
Our “online learning” was extended through Spring Break, the first full week of April here, and they should probably close out the school year doing it. I suggested that to Daughter Dearest, and her response was “SHUT UP. SHUT UP.”

But whether we pull a Hong Kong and lift restrictions early (spoiler alert: it would be a Bad Move), or keep movement tamped down to prevent further spreading, the occasional grocery trip is a necessity. Maybe less necessary is occasional pickup from restaurants, although they might argue the “less necessary” part.

Restaurants are adjusting as well as they can, offering incentives like extra points for rewards programs or free delivery. Meanwhile, the wife and I have roughed out meal planning. We’re mostly digging meat out of our freezers, although we're short on ground beef and the hoarders (aka #covidiots) grabbed it all last weekend. Bread and milk are easier to find, now… both have a finite shelf life and hoarders might have a hard time using what they have before it spoils. Ground beef should soon be available as well, because even covidiots have only a finite amount of freezer space. (But they must be using all that toilet paper as mattresses.)

Meanwhile, the school system is still running the bus routes… except instead of dropping off kids in the afternoon, they drop off lunches in the late mornings. We don’t need the extra food, but they beg us to take it because we’re at the end of the route. Today, we got burgers. The kids eat whatever sandwiches are provided, but sometimes skip the veggies + ranch dip packages (add 1/4 tsp of onion powder to the ranch containers, instant chip dip). We’re going to cook the veggies for supper, if I keep my mitts out of them. Still, it’s starting to get overwhelming—we’re covered up with fruit, milk, juice, etc. We’ll need to make sure the neighbors get some of this if it continues.

Since the kids don’t drink all the milk, I have rediscovered the joy of drinking half-pints of chocolate milk from the carton. I have not yet tried my old trick of jabbing the side with a pencil, making a hole of the exact diameter of a straw; I could pressurize the carton and pump the milk into my mouth. One of my better memories of elementary school.

Fortunately, Charlie is expanding his protein sources, although he still strongly prefers his latest adoptions to be breaded and fried. Chicken nuggets (especially Chick-Fil-A) and fish sticks are winners. We thawed and baked a slab of salmon I had kicking around in the freezer earlier this week; the adults ate that, and Mason and Charlie gobbled several helpings of sticks. We got these corn dog bites, and Charlie ate half of one before he realized it wasn’t chicken, then ate the breading and left the mystery meat. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between picky and intelligent.

We have a few days of not-rain this week (yay!) so I’ll likely pull some ribs out of the freezer and smoke/grill them.

Friday, January 10, 2020 No comments

Turkey slow-cooker chili

Eating Season is finally behind us… maybe. A lot of us still have a metric eff-ton of meat in the freezer, we’re trying to ditch those holiday pounds, and maybe we’re tightening the financial belt a little after blowing the budget on presents. It's still cold out, at least for most of us.

Gotta have those toppings!
We need something hot, cheap, and reasonably healthy for supper, but still tasty… so here you go. I based this on an AllRecipes version, and found it spiced well enough that I wasn’t reaching for the jar of ghost pepper sauce The Boy made for me a year or so ago (a half-teaspoon takes anything from mild to wild, so it will last a while). Like the turkey tacos recipe I posted, this is a good way to rescue dry or undercooked turkey. I ate all of this over a week, except for one bowl, and the wife thought it was pretty good. My second batch used some thawed leftover chicken, from a September church BBQ, and it worked fine as well.

Turkey slow-cooker chili
1 lb turkey (or chicken), diced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp olive oil (more if the turkey is dry)
1 T minced garlic
2 T chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano (dried, or 1 tsp fresh)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (ground)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp No-salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper (black or white)

2 c water
1 can (14oz) white beans*, drained and rinsed
1 can (28oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 T unsalted tortilla chips, crushed (optional)**

Sliced jalapeños
Crema (or sour cream)
Shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, Colby-Jack, etc)

Pour water, beans, tomatoes, and crushed tortilla chips into a lined slow-cooker. Set on High.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onion and garlic; sauté until the onion softens. Add turkey and remaining ingredients, stir until turkey is heated and oil is absorbed. Transfer turkey/onion/spice mixture into slow-cooker, stir.

Cook on High approx. 3 hours or until simmering, stirring occasionally; then simmer for 1 more hour. Serve hot with toppings as desired. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave.

*I usually reach for black beans, but found that they tend to “stain” poultry-based soup/stew/chili. White beans don’t discolor the meat. Red beans also seem to work okay, if you drain and rinse them, at least.

**The crushed tortilla chips thicken the broth a little. Alton Brown came up with the idea, so don’t blame me.

Do you have a favorite recipe for turning leftover meat into chili? Comments are open!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 No comments

FAR Manor paninis

I got a panini press for Christmas, a fairly fancy one that also has electric griddle and grill (open or closed) functions, Mason and I made pancakes on it a couple of times already, but what’s a panini press really for?


The wife was hungry, and gobbled hers right down, but even picky Mason liked his. Personally, I think it's better than Panera’s by a long shot. A family friend brought us a ham, and I expect I’ll be pulling out the FoodSaver and chucking a bunch of it into the freezer (joining the pound or so of ham left from Thanksgiving). But until then…

FAR Manor paninis (makes four)
8 slices Italian bread
12 oz sliced ham
Asiago cheese to taste, sliced
2 T butter
1/2 onion, sliced thin
4 mushrooms, sliced thin
8 sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted and chopped (about 5 chunks per tomato)
olive oil

Pre-heat panini press (to 400°F if it has temperature controls).

Melt butter over medium heat in a small skillet. Add onion and mushrooms, sauté until onions are soft and mushrooms lose their white color.

Layer four sandwiches thus, dividing fillings equally: bread, cheese, ham, onion/mushroom/tomato, cheese, bread. Brush bottom of sandwich with olive oil, lay on panini press, brush top with olive oil. Press one or two sandwiches at a time, adjusting position if needed to make the top sit even. Grill for 4 to 4-1/2 minutes, until bread is browned and cheese melts.

Cut in half and serve with salad, chips, or soup.

What do you like in your paninis? Comments are, as always, open.

Saturday, December 28, 2019 No comments

Garlic-Sriracha party mix

I promise TFM won’t become a cooking blog, but eating is a big part of life here. I’ll be posting one or two more recipes in the coming weeks.

Let’s say you’re like me, and party mix is one of your weaknesses, but you long for a little extra bang in your snack. I got ya covered.

Everyone has their own variant on party mix; some add pretzels, some add Cheerios, and the wife prefers to use Crispix and lots of cashews. Personally, I think Wheat Chex is essential, because it does an awesome job of trapping the flavorings. Anyway, here’s my variant, which brings on the flavor but is less loaded with sodium than some:

Garlic-Sriracha party mix
2 c (each) Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Wheat Chex
1 c Cheerios (regular or multi-grain*)
1 c (each) Brazil nuts, unsalted almonds, unsalted peanuts
6 T butter or margarine
2-1/2 T Sriracha chili-garlic paste
1 tsp “Italian blend” salt-free seasoning
3/4 tsp No-salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed

Preheat oven to 250°F.
Combine cereals and nuts in a large roasting pan; set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Pour the mixture over the cereals and nuts, and stir until evenly coated.

Bake 1 hour at 250°F, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool before putting in an air-tight container.

Flavors seem to strengthen over time, so make this on the 29th for the New Year’s Eve festivities (if you can stand to wait that long).

*Multi-grain Cheerios adds a little sweetness, taking the edge off the heat. But adjust the dry ingredients as you please. Make it your own. Maybe leave a comment and tell me how you like to do your own party mix. You never know, I might adopt a couple things!

Sunday, December 01, 2019 No comments

Turkey Tacos

I’ll spare you the long-winded, self-indulgent preramble. If you live in the US, you know exactly where this is going: you have a metric crockload of leftover turkey, and you’re trying to figure out what to do with it all. This works really well to resuscitate undercooked or dry bird, too. You can reuse a pound of it this way, anyway. Think of it as a public service…

Anyway, the wife suggested I half the recipe, because Mason probably wouldn’t want turkey tacos. But when he tasted the meat, he was all in. I really didn’t know what to expect, but in the end it was a hit at FAR Manor.

I started eating before I had a chance to take the picture…

Turkey Tacos
1 lb. leftover Thanksgiving turkey (or any-other-time turkey), shredded
2T oil
1 packet taco seasoning (which usually calls for 2/3c water)
12 taco shells or small/medium tortillas as desired (we like the blue corn taco shells)
shredded cheese
everything else—tomato, onion, guacamole, sour cream (or crema), sliced avocados, etc.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet. Add the turkey, and warm. Add taco seasoning and water, cook as directed. Remove from heat, spoon into taco shells, add toppings as desired. Serve with chips (again, we like blue corn) and salsa.

(A brief post-ramble: taco plates are awesome for the purpose, and your supermarket might carry them. If only they had a lip to keep salsa from leaking into the taco area.)

Now to figure out what to do with the other four pounds of leftover turkey.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 No comments

Fixing supper, redux

Back in May, I blogged about Kroger’s Home Chef meal kits. They’re basically raw ingredients and a recipe card. None of the prep work has been done, which is the only thing that would justify the markup on those kits.

Well, they still have the meal kits, but now they feature recipes on their website as well. Even better, you can get a weekly “meal planning” email with links to five recipes. I haven’t seen a week yet where I want to try all five (each week, at least one of them requires an Instant Pot and I don’t have one), but one or two usually catch my interest and I add them to “My Recipes” for future reference. Of course, they have a helpful feature that lets you add the ingredients to your grocery list. Many have a very short total time listed, but I’ve found those wildly optimistic (or, in the case of the most recent, doesn’t count the time needed to cook pasta). Clearing off work surfaces adds to the total time, but that’s specific to FAR Manor.

So, here’s links and commentary to the recipes I’ve tried so far:
  • Italian Sausage and Pasta Bake—this one was a hit with everybody, including oft-fussy Mason. Wife doesn’t like casing, so I removed them before slicing the sausages. The only wrinkle is that I bought mild Italian sausage and it still came out pretty spicy. Maybe next time, I’ll use “sweet” sausage. And, of course, the total time didn’t include preparing the rotini.
  • Quick Mediterranean Chili—another widely-accepted dish, which actually came in fairly close to the posted prep time (and I doubled the recipe). Wife thought it was a tad spicy, even though I used half the paprika called for. I added a half teaspoon of the ghost pepper sauce The Boy made for me to my bowl, and it perked everything right up.
  • Bacon, Apple, and Sage Stuffed Chicken Breasts—the adults really liked this. The kids were just OK with it. I thought I had sage growing along the driveway, but it must have died out (or the wife hit it with Roundup when she was cleaning up the weeds). I subbed fresh lemon balm for the sage, and (on the wife’s recommendation) rolled them in bread crumbs. Next time, though, instead of slicing into the side to make a pocket, I'll go in from the top and add side chambers. That should keep more of the cheese inside. I like big breasts and I cannot lie, but these were big enough to make two servings per. What I ended up with fed my family and Daughter Dearest’s with some left over… maybe I didn’t have to double the recipe on that one.
Haven’t had a clunker so far, anyway. I have several others I’m planning to try. With any luck, I’ll soon be able to plan a week’s worth of meals and always have something ready.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019 4 comments

Snack break

Recently, those “Balanced Breaks” snacks have captured some attention. It’s a great premise—a snack that concentrates on protein with dried fruit (mostly raisins or cranberries) for carbs. Nice idea, except for all the plastic waste. The “lid” (also plastic) peels off, and there’s no tops that would make the containers reusable. A few probably find their way into basement or garage workshops, as handy trays for holding screws, but the vast majority are destined for the landfill. I suppose if they did make the containers easy to reuse, a lot of people would refill them and not buy more.

So I was in the supermarket recently, saw a display case of Balanced Breaks, and thought, “you know, if they carry small containers with 3 or 4 compartments, I could just make my own and not have to throw away more stuff.”

I wandered over to the container aisle—and though I didn’t find anything small with three or four compartments, I found 2-compartment “meal prep” containers. Close enough!

There was a block of medium cheddar in the fridge that has been waiting for a purpose; I cut it up and diced some leftover ham. Nuts and raisins were in the pantry. Here’s the result.

Looks good enough to eat!

I showed them to the wife and Mason; both liked the idea. “Can I have this one?” Mason asked. No problem, but he stashed it in the fridge. I made another, and that used up the rest of the ham. Since then, I've made some with thick slices of ham from the deli, and even some not-crab (the fake crab meat they make from pollock); one of Sizzle’s kids suggested shrimp. Wife complained that I was using “her” cashews, so I got some almonds (light salt and habenero BBQ) and peanuts. The fruit is either raisins or craisins (dried cranberries)—I should mix them for grins.

I’m calling this one a win.

Sunday, May 19, 2019 1 comment

Fixing supper

The local Kroger recently set up a refrigerated kiosk with “Home Chef” meals. These are boxed meals with two servings, running $17-$20 per box depending on what’s in the box. I’ve seriously been considering setting something up with Hello Fresh, or any of the myriad other players in this space, so I picked up a box to see how things would go. It featured (boneless) pork chops, mashed potatoes, and snap peas. Sounded pretty good, anyway.

Saturday evening, I got the box out and got to work. Now I had expected everything to be mostly ready to go—sure, I’d have to fire up the oven and what-not—but reality smacked me over the head with a raw pork chop. What was in the box was: raw ingredients, and a recipe. I had to string the pea pods, cut up two whole potatoes, put the breading on the pork chops, and cook the sauce. So what this amounted to was, a box of raw ingredients and a recipe card. The card said this was “intermediate” difficulty (gee, that would have been nice to put on the outside of the box), but I didn’t have any trouble putting it together. My technical writer (a/k/a work) side pointed out where the recipe sequence could be improved. The recipe did say to add some stuff like olive oil, salt, and pepper. I substituted NoSalt for the salt, and nothing turned weird colors or exploded.

Except that midway through cooking the potatoes (that I had to dice up myself), I realized I’d forgotten the second spud. In an inspired moment of panic, I cut up Tater#2 and threw it in the microwave for 3 minutes, then chucked it in the pot with the other one. This was the first time in my entire life that I made mashed potatoes from scratch, and in the end it was okay.

So was the rest of it. It actually turned out to be a pretty pleasant meal; we had our dinners, and Charlie sat between us and deconstructed a liverwurst sandwich. (Hey, if he eats the meat before the bread, fine.) The wife isn’t a big fan of snap peas, but Mason will have a side dish when he comes home (he went home with The Boy tonight). She also pointed out that russet taters are white, and you need to peel white potatoes (red potatoes are fine if you include the peels). The recipe card said “cut up the potatoes,” and the picture showed the peels still on, so that’s how I went. I thought the cream sauce that the chops floated on did a fine job of mitigating that bitter taste that comes with russet peels, but what the package provided wasn’t enough to cover them.

The upside is, the recipe card provides the ingredients list… so I can do this again, and improve on things instead of buying the box. Maybe I’ll double the recipe so there’s four servings (which would cover Mason plus some leftovers for work), and double-double the sauce/gravy recipe. Substitute red potatoes for the russets, or peel the russets.

Anyway… if this is what pre-packaged meals offer, I don’t see a lot of value. In the end, I might just mosey over to Publix instead. They provide recipes for meals like this, and give you the list for all the stuff you need (some of which you may already have). No pretense, and (especially) no markup for what amounts to packaging. But it was a valuable experience. Now I know what to do with Panko breadcrumbs, I can smash potatoes with the best of 'em, and maybe I’ll substitute a carrots/onions combo for the snap peas if I make this again. I’m sure it will end up with a lot less sodium than the original.

In the end: three stars. The food was fine, but doing some of the prep work would have been nice. I’m certain the value proposition is heavily weighted in favor of buying the ingredients individually.

What I really need to do is go back to my single days: plan out the meals for the week, figure out what I don’t have, then shop accordingly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018 No comments

When you go to the delicatessen store…

I’m one of those people who like liverwurst. Always have. I gave it up for a while, what with the weight gain and high blood pressure, but Boar’s Head came out with a lite version the has lots less fat and sodium, and is still pretty tasty.

A few weeks ago, I got a quarter pound. As the deli guy was slicing it up, I thought, “Hey, Charlie likes food with this texture. I wonder if he’d like this.” So the next evening, I made him a sandwich and offered the corner.

Charlie likes sandwiches okay. But when he got a taste of this, he grabbed it out of my hand and gobbled it down. Now up to this point, whenever he got hold of a sandwich, he would open it up, remove the meat, and eat the bread. Not this time, or any time since! The experiment was a roaring success, and I might have got one sandwich out of the batch.

So I found myself at the grocery store a few days later. I got half a pound this time, figuring maybe I could sneak a sandwich or two for myself. I came home and told the wife I got Charlie and me some liverwurst. Charlie heard this, and pushed me into the kitchen. “It doesn’t matter if I just ate or not, I want some of that good stuff!” Next time, Charlie was with me, and he got the sample slice (plus a slice of beef bologna, which he also liked pretty well).

Once again, we were out. I picked up Charlie from daycare on the way home from work this evening, and decided to grab a whole pound this time (because I still only get two sandwiches out of a half pound after Charlie gets through with it). We headed toward the deli, and he pointed and hooted, remembering how he’d scored a freebie last time. Once again, he got the sample. He finished it while they were slicing the cheese, and he signed “more.” Sure, why not? A couple pieces of liverwurst won’t hurt anything.

But he wasn’t through. As I rolled through the store on the way to grab a box of diapers, he wanted another piece. And another. And one more at the checkout. Then, when we got home, he devoured all but two bites of a peanut butter sandwich.

So when you go to the delicatessen store, grab another pound of liverwurst for Charlie and me. What we have now won’t stay around long.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 5 comments

Just Add Light

It’s unusually warm for the bottom of the year on Planet Georgia. Our high today was around 72°F, a good 20 degrees above normal. So, when I announced I was heading to the grocery store, Fizzle suggested I grill some fish for supper.

Good idea, thinks I, and added salmon to my list. As it turned out, the wife had a few things she wanted to get, and Christmas presents was part of it. So we got about 90% of the presents this morning.

But we neglected not the grocery run. My feet were well sore by the time we were done, as I just came off a gout flareup (the only one this year that was more than mild) this week. There were a few other things to do this afternoon, and they got done.

This time of year, it’s pretty much dark by grilling time… but I made do.

Bring on the food!

Work lights are really useful for all sorts of things. Oh, and it’s not just Planet Georgia. Not by a long shot:

May your days be merry and warm—even if they’re not bright!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 2 comments

Foraging the Harvest

As yummy as they are big!
Last month saw a return to the typical summer weather we get in Sector 706—we had more 90°F days in June than we did all last summer. Combine the heat with lots of rain, and it made for a few oddities. Usually, the wild blueberries growing around the manor peak around the first week of June, and the blackberries a month later. This year, the blueberries were late and the blackberries were early, so we had lots of both all at once.

And dang, some of them are big! We usually get a few nice plump ones along with the not so plump, but this is the first year I’ve seen them get as big as the domesticated blackberries you get in the store.

Pick, eat, repeat
The weird thing is, in early June, the berries looked pretty small overall. We had a dry (and cool) May here, during the time the vines were setting fruit. So I figured they wouldn’t get much better. Fortunately, I was wrong.

This is Mason’s favorite time of year, because he can go outside and get himself a snack. He loves blackberries, even the tart ones, and it’s a hand-to-mouth situation for him.

One notion I need to disabuse him of: he likes to say, “you pick, I’ll eat.” WRONG. I do tend to pick into a container, while he just eats everything he picks… and then wanders over to snag a few out of the container. (And yes, I’ve been known to pick myself a little snack as well. But the vast majority of them go in the container for later.)

Another one of his oddities is that he’ll move on to the next vine and insist that I should be over there with him—even when I have a ton more berries on the vines that he can’t reach.

Small but sweet
The blueberries always run small (the wife insists they’re actually huckleberries, and I have no reason to doubt her). But, they’re a lot more plentiful than they’ve been in most years. The wife thinks the birds will clean them off immediately, but I’ve not found that to be a problem. We’ve been picking for nearly a month, and getting small handfuls. The good thing is, they’re easily as sweet as commercial ones.

But I think after this week, the berries will pretty much be done. Just in time for the garden to start producing. I leave you with a line from a UNIX fortune cookie:

Faith is what lets you eat blackberry jam on a picnic, without looking to see if the seeds are moving.

Saturday, August 09, 2014 4 comments

Harvest Time

On Planet Georgia, the harvest begins in earnest in August. The mother in law, who was the major garden person around here, departed a couple years ago. Still, the wife attempts to at least put some garden stuff in.

It didn’t help that we ended up with a huge amount of tomato plants this spring. One of the local banks does a customer appreciation day, in which they have a cookout with free hotdogs, and give out those six-pack trays of tomato plants. This year, they arrived close to the end of the day… next thing she knew, the bank people carried three entire flats (12 six-packs each, which meant there were 216 plants) over and dropped them in the back of the van. I took one of the flats to church, where several of the church ladies snapped them up, but the other ones were still there. I didn’t help matters; I wanted some Roma tomatoes to put on the dehydrator, so I bought a six-pack (this was before the “load 'em up” incident at the bank).

In addition, there were melons, a couple rows of corn, a handful of okra plants, and a few other things. It wasn’t as much garden as the mother in law planted, but it was more than enough.

This week, the piper paid us.

I came home from work to find the drainboard completely full of Romas. I got to work Thursday night, and roughly half of them were enough to fill the dehydrator. I tackled the rest today. Now, I have two quart freezer bags full of dehydrated tomatoes. The basil we bought is doing well, the oregano is sprawling all over the place, and I have enough tomatoes to make plenty of sauce.

Prepping for the dehydrator is easy enough. Drop them in boiling water for about 15 seconds, and the peel comes right off. This year, I got smart and added a pot of cold water for a quicker cool-down. Cut them in half, drop them on a dehydrator rack, repeat until the rack is full or until you’re out of tomatoes.

That was just the Romas. The wife dropped off a pretty good load of larger tomatoes, both ripe and green. I had made some noise about wanting to make green tomato salsa again, since the last batch I made didn’t last very long. So last night, I was off to the races… or rather, in the kitchen. Blanch, peel, chop up, add some other stuff like garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, onion, vinegar, a dab of sherry, and some “taco” seasoning. Then I dumped the whole mess in the crock pot to simmer overnight.

This morning, I grabbed four pint jars with lids, scooped salsa into them, and screwed the lids down. Despite the lids being used, they sealed. I’m still putting them in the fridge.

But gee, there’s still all these red tomatoes to deal with! I’ve always been curious about gazpacho, so I looked up a recipe. When I took +E.J Hobbs to work, I picked up the stuff we didn’t have around the manor, and came home and got to work on that.

This took a little longer than the 45 minutes the recipe page said, especially with regard to the “take the seeds out” part. I won’t be surprised if a handful of seeds managed to sneak past my diligence. Still, I’m looking forward to trying some of this, come tomorrow’s hot afternoon. If it’s any good, and EJ and I leave any, I’ll take some to work Monday.

The only downside is, I used less than a fourth of the ripe tomatoes to make the gazpacho. And the wife opined that there’s probably as many more tomatoes coming our way next week. She’s already made salsa (much milder than what I like to make), and she thinks she’s getting a rash from eating too many of them, so I need to figure out what to do with this bounty. I suppose I could give them away at work easily enough…

Oh, and lest I forget. You know I like big melons; I’m a guy. Get a load of this (it was a load, all right):

45 pounds. Can’t wait to get my hands on that!

Monday, May 19, 2014 4 comments

Blackberry Winter

We only had three mini-winters on Planet Georgia this year, although they were pretty harsh. In mid-spring, we get a cold snap they like to call “Blackberry Winter,” because it usually happens around the time the blackberry vines are blooming. The fun thing is, blackberries blossom for two or three weeks, so there’s plenty of time for one (or more) to happen.

So last week, it got cool. “Maybe this is all the blackberry winter we get,” said the wife. “But they need some cold to bloom out, I thought.”

“They’ve been blooming out for a week in some places,” I pointed out.

But this weekend had to be it. The lows got to 40F, and it was cloudy and rainy. The rain is gone, but the cool weather remains. After a taste of nice May weather the week before, this was a bit of a letdown. But with any luck, that’s the last of the cool/cold weather until late October.

The vines are already setting fruit. Looks like Mason will have a great time picking come July 4th weekend. The wild lowbush blueberries should be ripe in the next couple weeks as well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 2 comments

Wednesday Wibbles

Wow, two in a row! As always, welcome to the new follower:

  • Luca Veste — book blogger, adult student… and father of two daughters! Oh, I’ll bet we have some stories to swap about our kids.

With the manor rapidly re-filling — The Boy and Snippet are back (sigh), and M.A.E. and Lobster show no signs of leaving anytime soon — I’m getting crowded in both time and space. M.A.E. in particular seems to always need something, and isn’t exactly Janie-on-the-spot about helping out. At least Snippet is showing some sign of wanting to take care of Mason… even if she’s inadequate about it.

Speaking of Snippet, she came in yesterday with an awesome sunburn. She wanted to show it to me, and first pulled down the front of her shirt to show her neck — then hiked up the back to show me her shoulders. As she wasn’t wearing a bra, it’s beyond me how I didn’t get an eyeful of boobage along with the acres of redness. I found her some spray-on burn ointment, and it seemed to help. At least she didn’t pull her shirt off again. This morning, she headed to work with plenty of coverage.

With summer in full burn (see above), I made a pasta salad this evening for tomorrow. FARf-alle (bowtie) pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, an onion, a squash, a bell pepper, some broccoli I found laying around in the fridge, garlic, mozzarella fresca, and Vidalia tomato-basil dressing. Lobster doesn’t want to wait for tomorrow, when the flavors will be blended — he’s grabbing a bowl on the way to work. (Oh… did I mention Lobster has a job? He’s working night shift as a welder.)

At least I got some writing done yesterday! I’m going to try keeping up the momentum tonight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 2 comments

Food and Books

As usual, life has been pretty nutso and I’ve been neglecting the blog except for the weekly fiction dump. So I’ll catch up and get to the rest in the Wednesday Wibbles.

Mason continues to be Mason, growing all the time. He actually used the potty chair Thursday morning! No, no picture, Mrs. Fetched dumped it out and I'm not that neurotic anyway. I don’t know if he’s had any other successes since then or not.

Father’s Day weekend has come and gone. It was a pretty nice weekend, all in all. I didn’t spend much of it chasing Mason and Skylar around, but did take Big V to one of her hospital treatments on Saturday. I took the iPad with me and kept up with Twitter while she was getting worked on. Both days, we ended up eating lunch pretty late — like 3 or 4 p.m., and that did throw things off for me. Saturday afternoon, I started mowing the lawn but was quickly chased inside by a thunderstorm (we’ve had three or four days of rain in the last week, so maybe our dry spell is over).

I did do the grilling on Father’s Day, cooking pork chops and salmon on cedar planks. I bought an oven thermometer because the plank instructions said to have the grill at 350°F. It turns out that I need to turn the grill nearly all the way down to keep it that low. But now that I know, I could conceivably bake bread on the grill if I really had to.

The blackberries have been getting ripe early this year. I’ve seen small handfuls of ripe ones in mid-June before, but never where I could go around and pick a gallon of them. The vines are at the point where they’re becoming a nuisance, trying to invade the yard; there’s one clump that actually is in the back yard, but the berries are big and juicy so I let them have the space they’ve taken. Beyond that, the lawn mower does its worst. I’ve taken Mason over there and picked him a handful for snacking — which may have been a mistake. I just hope he doesn’t get tangled up in there trying to get some on his own. Skylar also got a taste; he nearly spit the first one out but decided he liked it.

If this were the only stand, it would be enough for snacking… but there’s a huge stand behind the detached garage and other one on the other side of the driveway. I also found a couple black raspberry vines that gave me about a pint of big sweet berries. All in all, I picked a gallon in an hour or so, and never got more than 100 yards from the manor.

Mrs. Fetched made us a pie today… and we nailed about a third of it by ourselves. I doubt there will be any left 24 hours from now. But that’s okay, for every berry I picked this weekend there’s at least ten more that are still getting ripe. And other stands farther away from the manor (but still walking distance).

My various writing projects are progressing. I sent White Pickups to some beta readers, and am trying not to bite my nails waiting for feedback. I’m about to hit the difficult part in the sequel, Pickups and Pestilence, where I’ll have to stop filling in and rearranging what I’ve already done and move on to the grand finale. I was surprised to find I’m roughly half-finished with it by word count. And this afternoon, I felt a tickle — a disturbance in the Force that says another idea (maybe a Big Idea) is coming. I just hope it’s going to bring me the grand vision that will let me finish this story.

Friday, November 05, 2010 2 comments

The Final Harvest

… of 2010, at FAR Manor, anyway. The frost is on the way tonight, and we had some frost up on the garage roof and the cars this morning. Fortunately, the foliage and fruits weren’t affected. I’m guessing about three pounds of surprise chow here.

Green tomatoes

We put the big ones in the window, hoping they’ll ripen. The smaller ones I diced up and made over a quart of green salsa. I’ll post a recipe if it turns out to be edible.

Saturday, July 10, 2010 2 comments

Pictures, Food and Fights…

…but not pictures of food fights. We’ll start off with the pictures…

Mom and MasonMom and Mason

Decorated golf cartsGolf carts on parade…

Mason meets his first clownMason meets his first clown. He did quite well.

Mason eats the daisyAfter contemplating the daisy for a few moments, he attempted to eat it (of course).

And, now to the fights. For an evening there, I thought M.A.E. was going to go back to her cheating a-hole of a boyfriend. Well, that now seems to be inoperative. He doesn’t seem to think he’s done anything w0rNg, and thinks that M.A.E. is the one with the problem. But now he’s pulling the control-freak card, threatening to take Moptop (fat chance with a felony drug conviction there, d00d) and making veiled threats (“you’re about to have a very bad week”) and a not-so-veiled threat to get her fired from her job. So she just got her smellphone number changed and who knows what will happen next there? Stay tuned… soap operas aren’t this weird.

Finally, food. Mrs. Fetched said “After I’m done at the chicken houses, I’ll bring some chicken up from Mom’s and we’ll do something with it for lunch.” This is code for, “I’m going to run way overtime, so you might want to fix something if you don’t want everyone here to starve to death.” There were a couple of steaks from last week’s grillin’ in the fridge, and I found some other stuff to make…

Steak Parmesan Pasta Salad

1 16oz box macaroni
8 oz grilled steak, sliced thin
1 cucumber, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 med. onion, sliced thin
1 20oz can corn, drained
1/2 c parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 c vinaigrette

Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill for 3 hours (preferred) or serve right away.

Everybody liked it — but they were hungry.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 No comments

Creamy Chicken/Pasta Salad

A good “hot day” dish, everyone liked it and got extra. I threw this together yesterday for supper from what we had laying around, and it went over pretty well. It takes maybe half an hour to make, plus chill time. The dressing part is modified from a tex-mex recipe I found online; I wanted something creamy and this seemed to fit the bill. The original recipe called for vinegar (and I used it) but everyone suggested to lose the vinegar next time… which means I’ll be making this again.

¼ c. dried tomatoes
12oz package of rotini

1-½ tsp. dried cilantro (or 2 T fresh)
¼ c. lemon (or lime) juice
½ c. sour cream
1 clove garlic, pressed (or 1 tsp. minced garlic)
1 T honey
¼ tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. salt
½ c. olive oil

12oz leftover boneless chicken, cooked and diced (or 1 12oz can)
1/3 c grated parmesan cheese

Bring 4-6 qt water to a boil. Break dried tomatoes into dime-sized (1cm) pieces, boil for 5 min. to reconstitute. Skim the tomatoes into a colander to drain, add rotini to the boiling water and cook as instructed by package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water.

While rotini is boiling, put cilantro, lemon juice, sour cream, garlic, honey, pepper, and salt in a blender or food processor, blend on high until smooth. Continue to blend, slowly adding olive oil.

Fold together tomatoes, pasta, dressing, chicken, and parmesan cheese until evenly coated. Cover and chill. Serves 5-6.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 6 comments

Random thoughts

I haven’t just brain-dumped for a while… probably because I dump things on Twitter instead. It’s long past time.

One of the things that turned out pretty well this past weekend: I made kotijuusto (Finnish for “home cheese”). I got the idea from my bob-sister Faboo Mama, who settled on making kotijuusto after a fruitless search for rennet. It’s a simple recipe, but it makes a lot of cheese. It has a consistency much like ricotta, which gave both Mrs. Fetched and DoubleRed the idea of making lasagna with it… which turned out pretty good (and it’s good and gone!), but there’s plenty of cheese left. DoubleRed just cooked some into her scrambled eggs and gave me a taste… dang good. We’ll have to use that stuff up soon, and hey I can always make more. Here’s the recipe I got from Faboo:

3 eggs
5 c buttermilk
1 gallon + 1-1/2 c milk

Whip eggs and buttermilk until fluffy. Bring the milk to a boil, add the egg mixture, and beat well. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool slowly. (Liquid will form on top, and the cheese will settle on the bottom.) mostly… some of it floats

Line a strainer or mold with cheesecloth. Remove the cheese with a slotted spoon and put it into the strainer, sprinkling a little salt between layers. Cover with a plate as a weight, and refrigerate for 12 hours. put a bowl underneath, you’ll catch at least a cup of whey Turn out into a serving dish. Serves 4-6.

Monday, I spent the morning at the office then went to the doc and got a shot for the poison oak I contracted 10 days ago. The shot works quickly… a little pain for much gain. While I’ve decided I’m through giving 300% to the company for crappy raises (or no raises) and no promotion, I’m still pounding away at a to-do list and I’ll be working at home tomorrow taking a few pictures for a rough-out of the new wall-mount template. A word of advice: if you ever consider technical writing as a career, hit yourself in the head with a hammer until you think of something else.

The choir director settled on the Easter cantata this year: something we did… oh, 6 or 8 or 10 years ago with a few modifications. Someone said, "10 years isn’t that long ago." I pointed out: "10 years ago, my kids were 11 and 9 years old!” And I didn’t have a blog… then again, there was no soap opera to write about back then, just Chicken House Hell.

Snippet tried calling The Boy like two days after we bailed him out. Fortunately, he was smart enough to refuse the call. Like I said, he only did what all of us would like to have done, with much less provocation. If there wasn’t a potential kid involved, I’d dance for joy if the judge made the “no contact” injunction permanent. I might dance anyway.

Republicans are such hypocrites. I mean, how does a conservative these days manage to get through a week without drinking Drano or something? “The economy? Um… Oh! look! a fag in a wedding dress! Vote for us, quick!” Yes, having no imagination is almost required for a conservative, but c'mon. I could make six Republicans with a 7404 chip, a toggle switch, and some LEDs. (I told that to a right-wing engineer back in the Clinton years… he didn’t want to laugh, but he knew it was funny. And true.)

Mrs. Fetched is down in Decatur, visiting Big V at the hospital. Big V’s husband came home from his truck-driving job last night & she took him and her mom down to see her. She’ll be home late tonight, if at all. Big V got her foot put back together yesterday; she has a long recovery ahead of her and it remains to be seen if she’s willing to do her part.

Daughter Dearest wants to go to Florida for spring break. Good idea, sez I, except for the (lack of) money part. I’m thinking about going with her, but making a pact to leave the laptops at home and trying to discover (perhaps with some help from Mom and Solar-bro) some of the local attractions. It might be interesting. I know the original Hooter’s is around there, and DD has one of the more tasteful Hooter’s shirts, so we could hit that, the beach, a bird sanctuary, the beach, a park or two, the beach… you get the idea. I could cheat with my iPhone, of course, and post stuff to Twitter and TwitPic if nothing else.

DoubleRed just got a fling dot com popup, so she’s installing Spybot. And this is why I don’t like Dozeboxes in my house.

W00T! Mrs. Fetched just got home. Big V might get transferred to the long-term facility on Friday if her foot doesn’t get re-infected.

Friday, September 26, 2008 2 comments

Weekend Cinema

Short, quick, and free — like the redneck’s idea of a perfect date — that’s Weekend Cinema!

Tonight, we bring you a little documentary of sorts. Urban farms might sound like an oxymoron, but people are doing it. Some because it’s the only way to put some fresh food on the table, others because food sovereignty is important.

So tonight we travel to exotic Milwaukee and see what a little Growing Power can do.

You can learn more about Growing Power and their goals at their website.


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