Tag Archives: cooking

We will be having a heat wave

I grocery shopped early Thursday morning and planned all of my meals around salads and sandwiches. I’m going to do my best to not use the oven or do any cooking beyond a microwave dish. One exception is breakfast sausage that I’ll cook early Friday morning, putting it all in the fridge afterwards so Terry can reheat a link or two at a time. There are also a couple of Belgian waffles that can go into toaster or microwave.

Fortunately Whole Food’s bakery had lots of breads from which to choose–French baguettes, raisin pecan, sourdough French, and ciabatta rolls. I love the raisin pecan for chicken salad sandwiches, but for a time, during the pandemic, the bread disappeared. The company that provides it had even taken it off their website. I was so thrilled to see many loaves on the racks so I got two.

Alfalfa sprouts and three kinds of lettuces. Coleslaw mix, fresh made guacamole. Apples, pears, grapes, figs, blackberries, tomatoes. My plan is to stay home until Tuesday, after the holiday, before I have to grocery shop. Hopefully, I will not have melted by then.

The end of a very full week

Friday’s high temperature was 104F. The dishwasher could be installed as the floor underneath the old one had dried out. Not surprising what with the dry heat we have had. Nineteen straight days over 100 and no sign of a break until maybe next Wednesday.

The installer finished at 2:30, the grandkids’ Nana came at 3:30 to pick them up for the weekend at her house. It was quite the puzzle to get all their things loaded into her car. Fortunately, she has a larger car and had cleaned out the trunk, being warned they had lots of stuff. New clothes, shoes, school supplies, books. A Lego project in mid-completion. Art supplies. Snacks that didn’t get consumed while they were here. Suitcases. And a large pile of stuffed animals a friend had dropped off from her summer clean-out. The bear, pug, and dragon were so large that they needed their own seat and seatbelt!

It’s now Saturday morning, with clouds that will hopefully keep the temperature lower than the forecasted 104 degrees. Perhaps it will be humid heat, which we are NOT accustomed to. Twelve percent humidity has been the norm for these past 19 days. My hands have not hurt for the past week, even with all of the work I was doing. Perhaps the dryness and the extra movement played a role.

I have to finish up the prep for the children’s lesson I will give in church service tomorrow. The topic will be fear, an emotion, and God’s instructions for how to deal with it. School is starting in two weeks. I’m hoping to give a bit of encouragement to children and adults.

We have enough food here to last a fews days so I’m not going grocery shopping until next week. While the kids were here we got pizza takeout one evening for dinner and ate out three times at fast-food places. Something we NEVER do when it’s just the two of us. I’ll just pull out canned and frozen items that we can eat and survive! And since we again have a dishwasher, I won’t hesitate to use pans.

How many dinners?

I have been fixing dinners for 47 years. The time has come when I want to throw up my hands and say, “I don’t know what is for dinner and I don’t care. I’m not hungry and nothing sounds appealing.”

Okay, there may have been times like this in the past, probably when our daughter was a very young, very picky eater. Even while working, though, I have always fixed dinner. Sometimes it would be leftovers of what I had cooked on the weekend to see us through the week, but there was food ready and available for a meal. After a day at work, I was hungry and wanted something tasty to eat. We enjoyed sitting at the table, eating good food and catching up with one another.

For a few years, when teaching, we went out to dinner on Friday evenings, after the workweek was done. Then I got to where I had no desire to leave the house after I got home at the end of a very busy, very tiring week. Terry would ask what I would want to do for dinner, and I would reply, “nothing, I’m too tired to eat.”

Now I wander the grocery aisles, looking for something that looks good, sounds good, is fairly easy to fix, and is healthy. I rarely make a list any more. I rarely think of cooking a large meal on the weekend for leftovers during the week. There are canned goods in the cupboard. There are a few prepared meals in the freezer. There is always bread, cheese, fruits and veggies.

Last night I microwaved ravioli for Terry and our granddaughter. Our grandson and I had quesadillas and tomato soup. There was lots of berries, melons and apples, and the grandkids had root beer floats later in the evening. I don’t think anyone will starve, but it’s all such a drag to think of food to buy, make the meals, eat the food, and then clean up afterwards. Oh, and that may be another deterrent to meal-fixing this week, there is no dishwasher.

Exploding cinnamon rolls

I have bought and baked Pillsbury “popping fresh” dough in cans for a half a century, and my mother decades before I started. We always had a can of biscuits in the refrigerator as my dad loved biscuits and my mother found that it was much easier, early in the morning, to pop open a can of ready-made dough and bake those for his breakfast. My dad was an early riser and was in the fields, during the summer, before sun-up.

In all those years of baking “popping fresh” dough, I have never had a can to explode on me or know of a can exploding on anyone, until this Monday morning in mid-June. I had heard that it could occur, but I had made it almost to 70 without it happening to me. Just as I was unwrapping the outer label on a can of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls, POP. Dough flew one direction, down towards the floor, and the can of frosting headed upwards, landing upside down, in the sink. Gooey cinnamon filling was splattered on the counter, backsplash, and floor.

Only one roll, of the the five in the can, actually flew out of the cardboard encasement. I was able to bake the remaining four, and salvage the frosting as the lid had stayed on as it flew through the air. Scrubbing the counter and floor took a bit of time as that filling is quite sticky.

Just as my mother liked to have those canned biscuits (which, by the way, I never buy as I make really good biscuits) for early morning breakfasts, I like to have cinnamon rolls for those mornings when I want an early start with something tasty. The Pillsbury cinnamon rolls have been hard to come by during the pandemic. I figured supply chain issues, demand, etc. They are now back in the stores, on a limited basis, and I have bought a few cans in the last month. Guess I’ll just have to be more careful when I open one as there may be some new thing they have done with the product and/or packaging process. Post-pandemic life will bring more challenges!

First Monday in May

Because the next two weeks are jam-packed, I decided to go grocery shopping on a Monday, a rarity. And, sure enough, at 10:30 in the morning, the store was crowded. It’s all those people who didn’t shop over the weekend. Not all older folk, but mostly. Younger people, too, who have dropped their kids at school, just around the corner from the store, making a run for the week’s provisions that they didn’t have time to do earlier.

Such was the case for our daughter. She FaceTimed us this morning after dropping the grandkids at school and waiting for CostCo to open. She said the parking lot was full so she didn’t know how much time she would save, but they needed groceries. It is also the first of the month, and lots of people shop at that time. I never go to the bank around this time of the month and try hard to stay away from Target.

I made stops at the library to return books I read and DVDs we watched and pick up my holds. At the gas station because I had used just a bit over one quarter tank last week, 135 miles, with all the running around I am doing. Remember, I always want a full tank of gas in case of the need for immediate departure. At See’s Candy because it’s Teacher Appreciation Week and I want to tell the 6 teachers whose classes I visit each week how much I appreciate them. At SaveMart, because like our daughter, we needed groceries. The refrigerator was the barest I have seen it in a long time. I just didn’t have time to do much with food last week, buying or preparing. This week will be the same so I bought foods that are already prepped or can be fixed very quickly.

Who knows when I will get back to the store, or run any errands. I guess I could ask Terry to do the grocery shopping, but who knows what we would be eating. I’m always telling the cats, when they get underfoot and try to trip me, that they will be in sad shape if anything happens to put me out of commission. We might all starve.

All about food

It appears that food and eating are on my brain. Not surprising given that I love good food and I love to eat. I don’t eat to live, I live to eat.

After staying home all day on Friday (I baked another lemon meringue pie), I was out early Saturday morning to Whole Foods where I found the produce man putting out organic strawberries. I got a box of three pints of beautiful berries with plans to make a small batch of strawberry preserves. All of last year’s jam has been gone for weeks now, and I’ve been waiting for local, organic berries to show up.

There was lots of laundry to do, too, since I had accomplished very little on Friday. So between prepping and cooking the jam, I got six loads of laundry sorted and started in the washing machine. After the jam was completed (5 small jars of perfection), I got everything cleaned up and made ready for the next round of cooking–a pot roast, all the while keeping the washer and dryer running. I bought a very large chuck roast at Whole Foods with the plans to make beerocks later in the week. We would have roast and all the veggies for dinner first. And lemon meringue pie for dessert.

Earlier in the week I had baked a batch of 7-layer bars (having taken a previously baked batch to the church freezer for upcoming coffee fellowships) so we have those to munch on, too. I bought butterscotch chips at Target with plans to make up my brown sugar cookies and throw some of the chips in for extra flavor. I would do that on Sunday afternoon, but there is a chamber music concert I want to attend. Monday will be out, too, as I have a tour at Kearney Mansion to give to a group of Southern Baptist ladies who are in town for a convention. Tuesday is the day set aside to make beerocks. It’s an all-day procedure.

Wednesday and Thursday I will be at Columbia doing my thing with first graders. Late Thursday afternoon I have been invited, through my Yelp connection, to attend an open-house for a new restaurant in town. I often get these invitations, but they are almost always for late day events. This one begins at 3 o’clock, a time when I am still functioning at a fairly sociable level. Since I turn down so many, I felt I must make it to this one. It’s an Hawaiian barbecue place. I’ll let you know how good it is.

Someday I’ll bake the brown sugar cookies.

In the kitchen

When we first moved into this house, 37 years ago, I did lots of entertaining. Dinner parties, luncheons, birthday gatherings. After about 10 years I started teaching and all that cooking and party-planning stopped. There wasn’t enough time. Weekends were filled with errands, shopping, and cooking for the next week. I taught Sunday School on Sunday mornings and graded student work on Sunday afternoons. Lots of Saturdays were filled with decorating for school dances or taking students to competitive conferences.

The entertainment gene has not shown itself since I retired. Our house would need lots of updating to make it work well. I would need more energy to do the prep and the entertaining. It’s easier to go to restaurants. This week, though, I have been in the kitchen, preparing food for others. I cooked a roast and made Russian cabbage soup to take to church on Sunday for our Lenten Soup Lunches. This will be the last one for the season and my second pot of soup. Last Sunday I made chicken tortilla soup.

With leftover roast, and more cabbage, I made beerock filling this morning and have 16 beerocks rising so as to bake later this afternoon. Some of those will go to a friend who loves beerocks but is unable to make them for herself. She went to a beerock-making class held at a local restaurant and was sorely disappointed. The teacher used pizza dough instead of bread dough and hamburger instead of roast beef. She said there wasn’t enough pepper, either. I usually make at least two dozen of these little meat sandwiches, but I knew there would be less leftover roast and cabbage since I was using most of it for soup, so only used two loaves of bread dough. I had just the right amount of filling for those 16 beerocks.

Although still fun to cook for others, it’s best if I can deliver the finished product rather than serving it up at my own table.

No longer cooking for a crowd

Last week I bought a new iPhone. This week I bought a new Cuisinart food processor. It’s been almost a year since my 35-year old Cuisinart gave up the ghost.

The original  was a large, powerful machine that could knead bread, whip cream, and had 10 blades for any cutting job I could think of. When we first moved here, we entertained a lot and that machine got a workout. One summer I volunteered to cook weekend meals at a women’s shelter, and since their kitchen didn’t have a food processor, I hauled my Cuisinart down there every weekend. It got a workout.

Cake batter,  cookie dough, sauces, salsas, I’ve done it all. But not this last year. Very little cooking has been done in my kitchen since the Cuisinart’s demise. Oh, I’ve made things I could easily make with a knife and a cutting board, but major projects, like cookie dough or bierocks, didn’t happen. I’ve been missing the bierocks as of late and decided I really needed to seriously look for a new food processor.

The ones I saw at Williams Sonoma, though, were so big, so tall. They wouldn’t fit under the cabinet on my counter. Where would I store the thing if not on the counter where the other one sat all those decades? They cost about what the old one had cost all those years ago–$400. Could I justify the cost at this point in my life?

As I was hurrying down the center aisle, on my way out of Target, there was a small Cuisinart on an endcap. Only $99, but also only 4-cup. I had a 14-cup machine before. But, I don’t cook like I used to. I seldom used all the fancy accessories any more. Nor did I push it to capacity. This small version would also fit under the cabinet. I scooped it up and took it home.

So far I’ve only used it for some slicing. There aren’t all the blades like before, just three. I probably can’t crush ice with this one. But for a bit of slicing, it works okay. Next week I’m going to use the grating blade and make potato pancakes, something I’ve not done all this past year. Let’s see how many potatoes will I be able to push through it. I have a pumpkin cake I want to make so will see how well it mixes.

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Wishful thinking

Remember when my Cuisinart died? I just left it sitting on the counter, hoping it might heal itself. That there might be some magic dust in the air that would make it functional again. That the appliance fairies might come by some evening and do a little fixing-dance on the machine. Nope. Didn’t happen.

This morning I got up early to start the process of making beerocks. I had cooked a roast on Thursday. The bread dough was thawing in the refrigerator. I just needed to chop and cook onions, add the shredded cabbage, chop the roast beef, and put it all in a big pot with lots of salt and pepper. Chop onions and roast beef. That’s where it all came crashing down.

I’ve always done the chopping with the Cuisinart. Quick, easy, pretty mess-free. The Cuisinart had not magically healed itself. It was not going to ever chop onions again. I got out the mini Cuisinart and did small batches. It worked okay for the onions. Not so much for the roast beef. Out came the knife and cutting board. I worked diligently to finely cut up that roast and get it into the pan with onions and cabbage. I WAS smart enough to have bought the cabbage already shredded. There have been times I have shredded an entire head of cabbage, using the Cuisinart.

Terry rarely has to help with cooking projects unless I need something from a high cabinet or shelf. Today he was called in to clean up behind me. What a mess I made. He was a patient soul and never complained. Of course, he was quite happy that I was making beerocks as they are a favorite of his.

The beerocks are rising as I type this. I will start baking after lunch. The Cuisinart that didn’t magically fix itself? I threw it in the recycle bin. No more wishful thinking, just shopping for a new appliance.

Addendum: Here is where I waxed ecstatically about my Cuisinart.

Let us pause for a moment of silence

My 36-year old Cuisinart died today. I am beyond sad.

This machine, a big DL7 Pro, the biggest Cuisinart made in 1980, has been with me through so many baking and cooking adventures. One summer I cooked, on weekends, for a women’s shelter, and I took the Cuisinart with me as they had no food processor. When we lived in San Francisco for 15 months, the Cuisinart went with us. I truly do not know how to cook without it.

After having a wonderful lunch and catching up with a long-time friend, I came home to make sugar cookies. All the ingredients for the cookies went into the Cuisinart. The motor would hardly turn the blade. When I took it all apart, I found that the area around the spindle had crumbled into fine, gray dust. All of this after the massive recall of blades, which by the way, I had not gotten around to ordering as I wasn’t much concerned. This is my second blade as the first one got pretty dull after about 25 years so I ordered a new one. I’m also on my third bowl as the previous ones have cracked, after years of almost daily use. I use my Cuisinart all the time, and cannot imagine life in the kitchen without it.

So, as you can probably guess, after a short mourning period, I’m on the track to replace this kitchen appliance. Terry and I don’t buy each other Christmas gifts as we have always bought whatever we want. This year, I want a new Cuisinart.