Saturday, November 29, 2008

Half a Turkey is better?

The snowfall was gorgeous. The power outage was predictable. Cooking the turkey was the problem.
What a wonderful Thanksgiving day we had. We spent the day hauling firewood in to feed the woodstove in the living room, and sweeping up chunks of snow from everyone's boots and from the dogs going in and out as well. The boy, who is too cool to wear snow gear, was changing out of wet jeans and socks every half hour, and the wet things were piling up. We put stuff near the stove to dry. Gin rummy was played.
Most of the cooking was done the day before, including the cranberries, the squash, the rutabaga, the rolls., the pumpkin pies. We just had to cook a 24 pound bird, make gravy and mashed potatoes. The resources available, and the clock moving steadily onward, figured in the final solution: cut the turkey in half, and cook one half on the gas grill. With the second half of the bird safely in a cooler on the back porch (38 degrees), our fearless grillmaster left the house carrying the roasting pan to the back shed, where the grill was set up, out of the snow. Thirty minutes later, the power was back on.
Cooking was finished in the kitchen. (In the evening, I cooked the second half, and made more gravy, as we all know, there is no such thing as too much gravy.)
I hope your day was as satisfying, though if you did without the snow and the power outage, you don't lose any points.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hope for Chicken Cacciatore. Expect Chili.

In my mother's kitchen, you did not stop your meal preparation to go get a missing ingredient. Actually, you did not stop if you were missing all the ingredients. You substituted. We still recall Mom's recipe for chicken cacciatore: Brown a pound of ground beef. Add tomatoes, onions, celery, and beans. Season with chili powder. Serve over mashed potatoes. We all faithfully follow this recipe.
I was thinking about this yesterday, when DH said, by the way, there are some really great frozen tacos in the freezer. I asked him how he had failed to tell me this last night, as he watched me eat a swanson mexican combo frozen dinner. He had no answer. Actually, his excuse was that he was nearly comatose in front of the tube when I got home from my bowling league, but this is not where I want to go with this post. Back on track!
Oh, yes. recipes. Actually, my chili recipe is constantly evolving. (Sounds much more creative than 'substitute'.) It has gone low-fat (ground turkey) or vegetarian (tofu) or shabby chic frugal (diced pork roast). It has gone 'green' (Verde). Apparently, that's what recipe's do- they evolve. Which leads to interesting questions, like do recipes arise, like life in the premordial soup, over and over again, or does a recipe arise once, and evolve endlessly into a thousand diverse offspring? And who cares?
I plan to make chili on Wednesday. People are driving a long way to visit for the holiday, and they will need something familiar and tasty to eat when they get here. It has to be no-fuss. But it needs to demonstrate just the tiniest shred of having evolved from the last time. Can't say what that will be until it happens. I see some chicken in the freezer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birthdays for House Plants

It's official. One of my house plants is old enough to vote. Now I know that most people do not know how old their plants are. Tell me: How can that be? (You don't know either, right?)
It's the Grapefruit tree. Of course, I didn't find her, she found me. One day in November 1990, I was eating a grapefruit. (duh.) One of the seeds was already sprouted. I shoved it into the soil of the nearest potted plant, a very maternal philodendron. It grew and it grew. By the time it was 7 or 8 years old, she lived in a huge pot, and I tried to get her to spend the summers outside, and her winters on the porch. She suffered severe winter kill in her 8th year. Nothing budded in the spring. I was whacking her trunk off to make it easier to get the body off the porch, when .... TOO LATE!!!! I saw the green rim of live just beneath the bark in the very terminal cut I had made. I was miserable. I dragged the tree outside, and went back for the pot. That's when I saw the tiny leaf budding an inch below the cut. She wasn't gone after all.
She just had to start over. I don't prune her. My Big Guy keeps talking about how she needs a good clipping, take out those crossed branches, thin out the limbs where they are too close. I can't bring myself to do it. Who does he want her to get pretty for? I say, leave her wild. She looks good to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Old Lady's nap

The Old Lady has taken up napping in the dog's bed. This leaves Sally flummoxed, since she recognizes that the cat has higher pack status than she does, and if the cat is in the Sally's bed, the dog cannot get into the bed until the cat invites her. The Old Lady will not be inviting her, as she cannot imagine anyone waiting for an invitation. This is how I know that we will not be able to effectively communicate with creatures from other parts of the galaxy, when they arrive on earth. Maybe they've already been here and left, looking for a more understandable species.
At any rate, the Old lady is in the dog bed only because she cannot jump up on the couch, her preferred nap space. When I do find her napping on the couch, I know that she tried and failed at least twice, before her old, wasting hind quarters could launch her from the floor to the couch. She will not use the kitty steps I have placed for her.
Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. Youth is gone, and with it, the competent comfortable body. Expectations have not changed. I expect to nap on the couch. I will probably use the kitty steps.