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Hello wonderful fab40ers,
Honestly-I don’t care what’s cooking this week. I’ll post the story of Sunshine on Friday. But frankly, my husband and I aren’t caring what I cook and what I serve.
While we knew yesterday was coming, the pain is no less deep.
Forgive me while I work through my grief. If you have a fur kid-hold them and cherish them. If you know the grief-let it happen.
Our poor little tabby Pepper is going through the pain in his own way.
This week is not about food-it’s remembering our beloved girl and trying to carry on.
Last week we had an outage. Yep, I had defrosted the chicken for the BBQ, but that wasn’t going to help us get dinner on the table.
There were some 5 million others of us in the same boat. Probably including our own darling Yana.
We were enjoying a documentary when it happened at 3:15 in the afternoon. It was hubby’s day off, so we hadn’t really planned much, except for the BBQ.
A friend said that her area of Saddleback Valley had “rolling” power outages that were planned for about 10 days. We had no such warning.
After we manually opened our garage door, my husband turned on the radio and I used my cell phone to call my sister who lives down the street.
None of us had a TV, a computer, a phone (all were wireless)and other modern conveniences-like lights in our bathrooms with no windows! We’ve got 2 of three of those.
Anyway-the a/c was also off. Our top floor became a sauna and the downstairs wasn’t comfortable either. The news said that the electric company had an idea what was going on but had no idea how long we’d all be without power.
We decided to go out to eat-coupon in hand, we left the hotbox to the animals. We enjoyed the a/c of a rather awful fast food Mexican restaurant. Then we moseyed around Home Goods, followed by sitting out in our yard reading until it got too dark.
After that, we used a cell phone and checked to see if a nearby Barnes and Noble had power and went to enjoy their “light by the silvery moon” until 10.
My idea for cooking this week? If you have a power outage, make sure your BBQ has enough gas, you have flashlights to see with and your side dishes are ones that you either don’t have to cook or even prep! Let’s face it, using a French knife in the dark can be just plan hazardous to your health.
It’s hard to believe, but we will be welcoming Autumn before we know it!
We‘re still having heatwaves here in Cali-but the weather has given some signs of Fall: had a good amount of wind and even some thunder showers, humidity has been way too prevalent for my liking and the nights have cooled quite a bit.
Now it’s no secret that I love summer, the sun and all the grilling IN THE LIGHT OF EVENING, but Fall is one of my favorite seasons as well.
Fall has warm and breezy days, you don’t have to give up shorts until almost Thanksgiving (remember I’m a born and bred Cali girl)and while a sweater is necessary in the evenings-a coat is not required!
Autumn also makes it a great time to bring out the dutch oven, the crockpot and the stock pot for pot roasts, stews, stoups and soups. It’s my comfort food season.
Our son hates fall-I don’t know why, but the man doesn’t like soup! Unless I’m making a pot of split pea or chicken soup with matzoh balls.
I no longer have to worry about this little thing though-he’s a married man with a home of his own. When they come for dinner-I serve anything but soup!
Our daughter and family really like soup and stews-even the little guys. Especially the matzoh balls. I’ve seen those two dividends eat a whole bowl all by themselves.
My husband loves most of whatever I put together-which is a blessing, because I have a method of clearing out the fridge in the fall by making “Must Go Soup“. It’s delicious and it clears the house of tidbits and tired looking leftovers and “re-purposes” (don’t you just love that designer phrase?) them into a tasty meal or two.
My tips for MUST GO are simple: Use good stock. For a great and fast way to boost the flavor, add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Cut all the veggies into like sizes and not too small. If all your additions are seasoned in some way-find a way to compliment the flavors-not fight them!
An example: If you made teriyaki chicken-don’t season the pot with herbs such as rosemary or mint. They won’t jive. And if you have Asian flavors-skip the jar of pasta sauce, it really won’t taste that great. Try keeping the broth thin and use leftover rice or pasta instead of potatoes or beans.
Catching on? One of the soups I came up with one time is when I used cumin and cinnamon on some roasted veggies and chicken-which reminded me of Indian flavors-so I went with chicken stock, fresh ginger slices and I used stewed tomatoes that were fire-roasted with jalapenos. I added some remnants of cauliflower and potatoes and voila, the meal had a very Indian flair to it.
This week-we‘re ushering in a new season for meal ideas, My favorites are here and I love serving it with some homemade quick breads or some artisan bread that has been grilled with some homemade garlic spread and toasted.
Now-share some of your favorite comfort fall foods-next week, we’ll be talking fall desserts!
This week, the importance of having some “remedy” foods in your pantry.
Why? Because this past week has made me appreciate my rather “anal” approach to healthy cooking even more than usual.
Remedy foods-items that will help when you feel: sick to your stomach, hurt in various parts of your body and other such things. Amazing how “sick to your stomach” includes motion sickness and your sinuses, no?
Last week was my week. For 5 straight days, my sinuses were acting up from the humidity and whatever it caused my landscaping to blossom.
Then, I went to the dentist.
Ladies, I’ve never even had a cavity in my 53 years-so it was quite the shocker to find out that I had bone loss and enough plaque that a “thorough deep cleaning” was necessary, plus the beginnings of periodontal disease!
TMI on this I’m sure-however, I have some good advice: don’t let a DDS clean your teeth, they have no idea what they‘re doing, evidently. Plus, if you take fosamax and hear this-discuss with the prescribing doctor ASAP. That’s on my agenda this week.
Anyway, I came home dizzy and rather queasy from being upside down. Plus really sore from holding the same position on an uncomfortable chair too.
Remedy foods to the rescue: Ginger and mint tea. I have a huge patch of 3 various mints on hand. Made some tea with those. Ginger-I have crystallized and a finger of fresh in the freezer. I went straight for the crystallized and just sucked on it.
Cinnamon is an excellent anti-inflammatory, as is rosemary which I have in the garden. However-while rosemary helps the inflammation and it’s said to be good for the digestion, too much will cause stomach upset. So don’t use a lot of it.
Now, one way or the other, my vertigo was bound to make me heave for a day-but I also keep some ginger ale (read the label, not all are made with genuine ginger)out in the garage as well as diet coke. Yes, coke settles the stomach as well as the ginger ale. I’ve never been able to tolerate the “sweetness” level of lemon-lime soda-so that one is up to your stomachs.
Keep things like pasta on hand and just make that with chicken stock. The taste is good and plain enough to at least put something into your stomach.
Same can be said for white rice. I usually serve brown, but when you‘re not feeling well-don’t go there. I also have a “no white flour” bread rule, but keep some regular english muffins or white bread on hand.
The fiber in the healthier grains and bread products will NOT help the feelings you‘re having, trust me.
Don’t let your stomach get to empty either-this will increase the “queasy” feeling.
As for proteins-keep it very plain. Chicken, boned and skinned with just a bit of salt (which actually helps the icky feelings)and baked is good. Don’t try red meat or fish-the thought of those is usually enough to have me grimace.
That old adage about chicken soup being Jewish penicillin is true. Combine the chicken and noodles with some broth and you’ve got a great and easy to make meal that will help the person in need and make a great comfort food meal for the rest of the family.
And now, back to my mint tea.
You‘re all probably thinking I mean doing something unusual with a typical food-like making a quesadilla and adding roasted sweet potatoes (although this does sound delish, using some goat cheese and adding some caramelized onions, doesn’t it?), but no-this time I mean: GET OUT OF YOUR RUT AND DON‘T USE FOODS THAT COME IN A BOX!
Except for pasta, I don’t really use boxed foods. Nope, no rice in a box, packaged dinners (ew, really-are any of you using things like hamburger helper?)or, Heavens, dried potatoes for mashers!
Many of these products are woefully unhealthy for any living soul. Filled with salt and preservatives, these products are also expensive. Plus,with very little work-you can make a tastier meal in the same time without them!
Our son-in-law, pre-living with us, thought that the Mexican Hamburger Helper was a gourmet meal. He even made it for our daughter. She had the gall to come home and suggest I use the stuff because it was “cheap and delicious, mom“!
Sorry,I told her, no can do! I showed her that you can buy baked tortilla chips (or just buy some corn ones and bake them until crisp), a pound of lean ground turkey, a can of good fire-roasted tomatoes with jalapenos and your choice of cheese and with in minutes create your own version! Plus, you wind up with a lot more product that can be packaged up for lunches the next day.
Rice-a-roni? Buy your own rice, we usually use brown, but you certainly can use jasmine or other white, like basmati. Use some broth instead of water. For the vermicilli-buy some of it or orzo. Simply brown the pasta and rice, same as you would the box version, then add the broth and simmer. You’ve saved on salt, fat and guaranteed, it will take better!
Like the Spanish rice version? Simply swap out part of the water for a can of diced tomatoes. By the way, you’d have to buy a can of those for the box anyway!
Remember, you only have one body and everyone is dealing with strained budgets these days, so take care of both!
I’ll say it up front, they’ve only been gone 24 hours, but I miss my little guys.
Okay, but I did enjoy cooking for 2 last night and not getting up pre-dawn to start the traditional 20 minute question as to why I don’t have donuts in my house.
Strange thing-our daughter doesn’t either, but it seems that my opposite grandma only serves donuts and takes them to McD’s and other fast food places.
No, the boys didn’t exactly say that, she did.
Sigh. How hard is it to serve up some hot/cold cereal and fresh fruit? I guess it’s difficult if you didn’t cook for your own child or yourself.
Yes, I did miss this morning’s hugs and kisses-on the flip side, it was nice not to serve a dinner “party” for the first time in 3 weeks. Remember, our daughter and son-in-law were here for 4 days before they went home without the boys.
Last night, all grown up tastes and foods:
Salmon, grilled with a rub of chili powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper with a bit of cumin
Cole Slaw with both dried cranberries and raisins in a lemon vinaigrette
Spicy oven baked sweet potato fries, I used the same spices as the fish, sans the brown sugar.
Dessert-crumbled some of the leftover spiced oatmeal raisin bars over some pitted cherries that I warmed up in some cinnamon and purple grape juice. I did thicken the liquid up with a cornstarch slurry.
It was also nice to not be told that “Grandma, you always have coffee breath.”
As you can see, despite everything-I had a lot of good laughs, lots of “cross-training” exercise and just enough love to last me until their return on September 1st!
Our son and daughter-in-law didn’t want me to be too lonely though-they brought over our “grand fur son” (Toby the Maine Coon) for the week.
He’s a lot crankier than the boys were though. Pepper keeps hiding behind me in my chair or hissing at being slam-dunked. Mellow and ancient Sunshine actually let us know she can still bark-seems she wasn’t happy with the way this guest was treating her cat and had to say her piece.
Thank goodness on one point-I don’t have to explain why I don’t serve him donuts for breakfast.