News Flash! Devoted Spouse Offers to Fix Dinner for a Week

While enjoying dinner the other night, I casually observed that it must be nice to sit down to the table and simply eat whatever is placed in front of you.  I imagined the joy of not having to decide what to fix, not going to the grocery store, not toting bags into the kitchen and putting items away.  Ahhhh, the luxury of not preparing food, not setting the table, not pouring something to drink.  Simply set your butt down and eat your meal.

Sounded heavenly to me.  I may have commented that Devoted Spouse had it pretty good in the “meals” department.  I no longer sneak in mushrooms or eggs when he’s not looking.  And, I completely gave up trying to win him over to my side on the asparagus issue.  He gets the food he likes, prepared the way he likes, when he likes.  Good deal, huh?

After I spouted off for awhile, Devoted Spouse agreed that the week following Thanksgiving he will be in charge of all our dinners.  I was ecstatic.  I offered to  clean the kitchen if he does the menu planning, buying & storing away, preparing, and serving.  I can’t wait.

As Devoted Spouse was leaving the dinner table, he had a grin on his face and he was mumbling.  I could have sworn I heard the word…”MRE”…sigh…

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No Top Chef Here

Saw a headline proclaiming Gwyneth Paltrow’s Most Disastrous Dinner!  I’m addicted to various food shows and I collect cookbooks, but I don’t cook the way I once did when Devoted Spouse was active duty Air Force and we had to entertain foreign dignitaries.  Turns out poor Gwyneth (who is also quite the foody) once fixed Eggplant Parmesan and forgot to drain the eggplant, thus resulting in a somewhat soggy mess.  Broke my heart.  (yes, that would be sarcasm)

Ya wanna know disastrous dinners?  Disastrous dinners are when you cut your finger to the bone during prep, don’t have time to go to the hospital because representatives of most of the NATO nations and their wives are on their way over to your home with high expectations of enjoying something known as American home-cooking and you’re valiantly trying to wrap something tightly around your finger to quell the arterial blood spurting all over your galley kitchen.  Now we’re talking disastrous dinner my friends.

I won’t bore you with the middle of the story.  It involved classic American dishes such as spoonbread and fried chicken and wine….lots of wine.

The end goes something like this….somewhere between the appetizers and the dessert I noticed the bandage on my finger had disappeared.  I was thankful for the copious amounts of alcohol that had accompanied the dinner.

Ahhhhh such sweet Military Memories….sigh…

Hey! Where’d That Pigeon Come From and Why’s He Limping?

 

pic courtesy of graciousbowl.com

It was one of those evenings when I didn’t care who had what to eat for dinner.  I was tired, stressed, and had no clue what I was in the mood for food-wise.  Devoted Spouse wasn’t much interested in a three-course dinner and so we did what is known in our house  as “grazing.”  In other words, every man for himself in the kitchen; you go hungry, tough noogies. 

I put my head in the ‘fridge and had a good look around.  Blechh.  Nothing appealed to me.  I recalled that Devoted Spouse made a quick grocery run the day before and I vaguely recalled soup on the list.  Soup.  Now that sounded good.  Not only was it good, it was low in calories and fat because it was Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Italian Style Vegetable and according to Weight Watcher’s one serving equals 0 points.  That’s right…Zero points.

I gleefully made my way to the pantry.  There on the shelf were several cans of Campbell’s Select Harvest soups…but no Light Italian Style Vegetable.   I found something called Select Harvest Healthy Italian Style Wedding soup.  Looked like it had some spinach in it and spinach is a vegetable so I was happy enough.

I opened the can and dumped it in a pan on the stove.  I stirred it around and as it heated up I got a wooden spoon out and took a closer look at the soup I was about to eat.  This is what I saw in my spoon:

Holey Moley what in the blue blazes IS that in my spoon?  I looked closer at the can which listed, in small print, meatballs.  New flash:  those weren’t any conventional meatballs I’ve ever seen.  Nope, someone had slipped a bunch of pigeon testicles in my soup.  I thought maybe they were made of turkey or chicken because they were so light in color.  I kept stirring the soup and each time I poked one of those little round lumps, I swear I heard pigeons in the background. 

But I was getting hungry.  So I slopped some of the soup into my bowl, grabbed a piece of bread and a spoon and off to the family room I went.  The soup broth itself was not bad — I really liked the spinach.  The pasta globules were gooey but filling.  I simply couldn’t handle the pigeon testicles.  This is how my finished meal looked:

Do those look like meatballs to you?  I don’t think so.  Devoted Spouse has been briefed never to buy that particular flavor of Campbell’s soup again…pigeon testicles.  I’m just sayin….sigh…

Cookbooks, Cookbooks, and Not a Thing to Eat

Been on a cleaning out and fixing up kick around here lately. Out with old furniture, in with new; painting walls — kind of my version of Spring cleaning only in the Fall.  (ok so I’m running behind a little.)

I have what I thought was a mini-project in my kitchen.  Turned out to be a little more work.  A solid oak 3-shelf bookcase resides at the end of my kitchen counter and it is chocked (and I do mean chocked) full of cookbooks.  Oh yeah, plus the flashlight, pencil sharpener and that weird sticky thingy that spins and you roll it on your clothes to get rid of Golden Destroyer hair.

The latest idea was to replace that bookcase with a pie safe – and no, not for pies but for closed storage.  The pie safe came from the ‘unfinished wood’ store and Devoted Spouse lovingly stained it and made it gorgeous.  And it’s done.  Most projects taken on by Devoted Spouse take a few years to complete (he’s busy) but this one was finished in an extraordinarily fast time.  So fast, that I haven’t had time to sort out my cookbooks and get ready.

Wednesday morning all the cookbooks came out of the bookcase.  Oh my aching back.  Why would anyone collect Southern Living Cookbooks dating back to the 1980s?  What was I thinking?  Do I use them?  No.  Those ‘southern’ recipes have too much fat and sugar in them and I’m basically too lazy to re-invent them. And there’s also that little problem of chopping and dicing — I tend to chop and dice my fingers, not the chicken.    But I can’t get rid of the books.  You see….I’m a closet cookbook hoarder.  There…it’s out.

I have hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks, most of which are stored in the basement.  And now, my beloved Southern Living books are there too…with the exception of the current edition, last year’s Christmas edition, and the 40th Annual edition.  And then, I HAD to keep the Barefoot Contessa books, and my Hungry Girl books, and a few crockpot recipe books, and, and, and, oh crap where are all these stupid books gonna go in the new pie safe?  The pie safe is supposed to hold all the miscellaneous cooking gadgets I don’t have room for in my cabinets.

I truly enjoy collecting the cookbooks;  I love to read them, but I rarely use them.  I may pick a recipe here or there but I’m just not the cook I used to be.  That’s how I packed on 45 pounds – home cooking.  So now so many poor books sit in the basement all alone with no one is gazing at their lovely pages or marking their recipes.  They’ve been relegated to the dungeon.  The shame of it all.  But get rid of them?  NEVAH!  … sigh

C’mon Get Healthy!

I understand grilling vegetables and fruits is in fashion these days.

So I grilled my eggplant…I grilled my ‘taters…I grilled onions, peppers, all the veggies left over in the ‘fridge.  I even grilled some apricots and bananas.

I grilled them and grilled them….

They never confessed to a single thing.   sigh…

Vacuum Seal Your Way to Healthy Eating…or But Wait, There’s More!

There was an interesting article a few days ago about the latest culinary gadget.  I’m all about culinary gadgets — I have a kitchen full of them – most unused.  I have mandolines (at least 3), I have steamers, I have several crockpots, I have two separate sets of dry ingredient measuring cups; one of which is missing the 1/3 cup (how do you lose something like that?), there are at least 3 different types of cooking pots and pans; some from Pampered Chef (really quite good), some from Le Creuset (oooh la la love them but they are sooooooo heavy) and a few other odds and ends.  We’re not even gonna discuss the tons of Tupperware lurking in my kitchen.  I have choppers, dicers, slicers, the massive Kitchen Aid mixer and a hand mixer.  I own various cutting and carving implements and an excellent (and very sharp) set of Henckel knives (with which I frequently lose parts of various digits to which my 11 faithful readers can attest – ow). 

But I don’t have something with which I can prepare my dishes “sous-vide” which is a French cooking term for cooking vacuum packed food in a water bath at precisely controlled low temperatures.  I hear if it is done correctly the food is amazingly good with all the yummy flavors sealed in.  AND here’s the wonderful part – you can actually purchase this cooking implement from a company called Sur La Table (they’re a little pricey but have neat catalogs) for only $449.95. 

Well crap on toast,  I gotta get me one of them.  So far, I’ve just been taking the little prepared frozen steamer bags of food and popping them in the microwave.  Certainly this “le machine” will do a better job.  On the other hand,  I once invested in that other  machine (I think it was called something like Food Sealer?) that vacuum seals your food so you can store it all in the freezer until the next nuclear war and it will still be edible.  I found it was more trouble than it was worth and one day I noticed I had not just sealed my steak in the pack; I had also included the knife — ya gotta pay close attention to this machine – it just vacuum seals everything.  Heck I got mad at EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer after she had just torn apart yet another couch cushion and I found myself looking from her to the vacuum sealer and back to her again, but luckily for her there wasn’t enough plastic in the world to fit around her so she lived to see another day. 

The issue I have with this new sealing device (aside from the obviously ludicrous price)  is you take the package out of the freezer, pop it in boiling water and who knows when it’s done?  You don’t know until you open it up and then if it’s not finished cooking you have to pour the water out of the pot and pour the partially cooked food into the pot and start all over.  It’s not like you can poke it with a fork and see if it’s tender coz then you break the seal and then you have a big plastic bag in a pot of boiling water with food oozing out.  Gah…

I think I’ll skip this latest invention – Devoted Spouse thinks I live in a vacuum anyway…  sigh…

What’s All The Flush About?

In keeping with my plans on living a healthier lifestyle, I have gathered a few new cookbooks for my collection.  One of these is a Crockpot cookbook filled with simple and fairly healthy meals.  I like healthy and I am soooo in favor of simple.  With the exception of Thanksgiving, if I can’t throw dinner together with a minimum amount of effort, cost, and time, I’m not going to cook.  When I saw this Crockpot cookbook and managed to snag it (with coupons and special offers) for less than $10 on Amazon.com I knew that I would soon be dragging the Crockpot out of the basement. While there are definite pros for Crockpot cooking there are some cons, too.

For the last three days I have made simple recipes and let the Crockpot do the work. First up was a ham and pinto beans concoction of my own.  Uh-oh guess who was out of Beano?  Later that evening, while on the couch with EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer, watching some tv she turned around, gave me a hateful look and got off the couch.  She subsequently left the room entirely.  Oops.  My bad.  Devoted Spouse was on the other side of the room in a fog all his own.  My friend @auntchrisbronx on Twitter  would have Tweeted this as a #cheesecutters moment no doubt.

Next I made a vegetarian curry w/garbanzo beans – an okay meal, but no prize winner.  Although it was full of yummy veggies and plenty of curry, coriander, cayenne and other spices, it just wasn’t flavorful enough.  Sorry Crockpot cookbook, next time I need to play around with that recipe before I make it.  Unfortunately, this meal  had pretty much the same result as the ham and pinto beans.  EmmaLou left in disgust.  And, that’s saying a lot because this dog is queen of the silent and deadly vinegar toots.  Those puppies sneak up on you and literally take your breath away, while she lays there sleeping contentedly.  She left me.  I just snickered.  Payback’s a b*tch, EmmaLou.

Tonight on the agenda is Salsa Chicken – this time with black beans.   So far, all the menus this week contain beans.   I’m thinking I should have planned these menus with a little more thought on my part.  I don’t know what may happen later tonight but I’m hoping the foundation of this house is sturdy – heaven knows the water pipes are getting a workout.

Luckily, Devoted Spouse made a Sam’s run the other day because there has been a “run”  on the usage of toilet paper in this household and we may be in for another couple of days of, how shall I put it?  Ahhh… fiber disposal.  Yeah – we’re flushing like nobody’s business and I can’t wait to see the quarterly water bill.  I’m afraid they may call us to make sure we don’t have a leak somewhere.  Then again the water folks love people who eat beans.

By the time I’m done with this week’s Crockpot experiment, we may have no, ummm, intestinal fortitude left.  My doctor tells me a clean colon is a happy colon.  I may loan him my Crockpot cookbook.