Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cupboard needs replenished, but money is tight.

It's going to be a Dollar Tree kind of month because the money just isn't here right now. My daughter took a second job just to have some more money because bills are killing us. Houses are expensive to live in.

This morning I wanted something to eat that wouldn't take long to make that wasn't the same old thing, so I mixed some pancake mix with chocolate Malt-o-Meal hot cereal and made chocolate pancakes. I must admit, they were pretty tasty. Not too chocolately, thankfully, because I'm not a chocoholic like my father was, but just a hint of chocolate without ruining the lifelong pleasure of the butter and syrup. I believe it bumps up the nutrition factor of the pancakes when I add a hot cereal to the mix (I've done oatmeal in the past with success). There's more iron in cream of wheat (which is what I think this basically is) than in the pancake mix plus some of the grain factor from the cereal. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but it was still a nice change of pace.

I've been adding vanilla flavoring to my coffee water before I make a pot and that has worked wonders for my pleasure of drinking the coffee. It never tastes as good at home as it does at the diner or at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, right? Well, now there's a definite improvement in the overall flavor. It doesn't take much flavoring to alter the entire pot. I'm sure you could do the same thing with any extract if you were of a mind to.

I came downstairs this morning and found that one of the cats (Chloe, I'm thinking it's you!) had torn a hole in the 20 lb. bag of litter and scattered it across the floor - the floor I had cleaned yesterday after changing the litter in the cat box!! I don't know WTH she, whichever she it was, was thinking, but good grief, cat!! The bag of food wasn't far away, but that wasn't touched. Silly little beasts!!

Got all the dishes done today after making my pancakes. I hate washing without a full load, plus we have to pay for water, so why run it when it's not fully loaded. My small pan plus bowl and utensils were just enough to finish filling the dishwasher. I even washed the lid to the recycle since some of the cans had splashed onto it. Great way to get that done!!

Speaking of recycle, tonight's recycle night, so I need to get it together and set out front for pickup in the morning.

Going to Dollar Tree in the morning, so wish me luck finding as much as I can for as little as possible to last until my next check. It's always an adventure, to be sure!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parents reject technology

After our recent intruder incident, a family friend wanted to share something.

Author: Joseph Sandoval

Since I was born, my parents have always lived in the same house. My father bought it when he first graduated from high school and he has lived in it since then. It was an old house when my father first bought it. He gutted it and started from the beginning. Since that was over thirty years ago, it is not what you would call a “smart” house. I told my parents they needed to make some minor technological improvements. Of course, I recommended the internet and that was quickly shot down. For some reason my parents like to reject technology. I then recommended wiring their lights to be controlled by their smart phones. This was also shot down. I then suggested an alarm from SECURITY CHOICE. They said they would think about it. I guess I can be thankful it was not another no. To be honest, I do not understand why they want everything to be exactly like it was thirty years ago. However, I guess as long as they are happy, then I should be happy too.

It seems forever and a day!

It really has. I haven't been here in so long. I've been really busy working on genealogical research for myself, my childhood friend, my ex-husband and my landlord. I had a month's worth of access to Ancestry.com and made the most of it. I had a blast. All those documents in digitized form that I could see what was REALLY said and not just what someone else claimed was said (believe me - some people see words on documents that aren't even there! It's amazing how far off transcription can be at times.) I found burial records, military records, immigration records, marriage records as well as other people working on the very same lines (which is how I was able to get my ex-husband's lines back to when the American Southwest was part of New Spain - they had used Spanish colonial records and Catholic mission documents to back up their search. It was great!)

Lots of things have happened during this time. Of course, I've gone out to eat. And, I've made a few meals. I was taken to an Indian buffet in Philadelphia called San Samosa. It was so good! And cheap, too. $10.99 for AYCE. And, I discovered something I'd never had that I really liked - that was keftas. They look like meatballs and actually taste very much like meatballs, but they're all vegetable. San Samosa had them sitting in the most wonderful curry sauce. I'm not sure if it was a Makhani sauce or a Masala sauce or something else entirely, but it was delicious!!! I love meatball sandwiches, but if someone put those veggie balls on a good Italian roll with loads of that curry sauce, I'd enjoy them just as much, I swear. If you're in the Philadelphia area, go check them out. They're on Walnut between 12th and 13th. A most excellent choice, I promise.

More recently, I was taken to a Middle Eastern place in Philly, just off South Street on 4th, called Alyan's. I'd never been there before and I'm glad I went. I had the mixed grill pita sandwich because I'm not a fan of hummus which comes with the mixed grill platter. I didn't want them wasting it on me, and the sandwich had just as much meat as the platter did for $4.00 less. I also ordered a side of grilled zucchini, which was delicious!! The mixed grill included lamb, beef, chicken and kafta kabab. Now, if you're thinking that kafta sounds very much like the kefta already mentioned, you'd be right. It seems that part of the world does share a certain amount of food culture and some of the words are very similar for those items. This kafta, though, wasn't vegetarian, but was very much ground meat, basically a mix of seasoned lamb and beef. They are not ball shaped, either. They are elongated and placed on skewers to cook, just like the cubes of meat and chicken were. I've had them elsewhere and wasn't too thrilled with them, but at Alyan's they were DELICIOUS! The pita they put this meat on (with a green salad filler and tahina sauce much like we'd use mayonnaise) was also wonderful. I've had pitas in the past that were of questionable quality - more dried out and almost impossible to make a pocket in whereas these were fresh baked, soft, moist and just plain wonderful. We also had baba ganouj for an appetizer. I'd never had it before, but I like eggplant and wanted to try it. It came with quartered pitas and some tahina sauce on top and was excellent. It's a cold appetizer, although the eggplant is cut into tiny cubes and baked (or baked and then cubed...I'm not sure which). If someone wanted to take me back, I'd go in a heartbeat. I was truly full when I left, yet I didn't feel weighed down by my meal.

But, something else happened during my absence from Blogger - we had a daytime intruder in our home. My daughter had gone to work and left the front door unlocked as we have always done while living here. We've never had a problem and didn't think it was an issue as long as we were home. But, this particular morning, I was still in bed when I heard someone knock. Now, I wasn't dressed to be answering the door, so I ignored it. If it was important, they'd come back. The next thing I knew, I heard footsteps coming up the stairs and turn to go down the hall to my daughter's room. I knew it wasn't my daughter since she wouldn't knock first. I actually thought it might be her ex-boyfriend who still comes around from time to time - they're friends - so I called out, "Who's here?" fully expecting Steve to answer that it was him. Instead, I heard the footsteps stop and come back down the hall, down the stairs and out the front door. It happened so quickly, I didn't have time to be afraid. But, as it sank in, I realized that it could have been a much larger problem than it was. My daughter thinks it was an ex-friend of hers who wants to get back at her for whatever reason (I don't know what happened between them - she won't say) while I thought it was my landlord's nephew who will take anything that isn't nailed down that he can make a quick buck on. I can tell you, though, that we now keep the door locked all day, even while I'm here. That was truly a wake up call.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Very Busy Week of Food

Well, this is a long-awaited post (if not by you, then by me since I've been lacking in consistency). A lot of food has gone under the bridge in the last week or so. I'll go over part of it now.

Interior, take from about where we sat.
On Friday night, I went to dinner to a Jamaican restaurant in Medford. I've never even been to Medford, so the entire thing was something new to me. First of all, I fell in love with Medford. It is all original homes from the 1700s, built by the first settlers to the area. I just love old towns with original architecture.

But, then I enjoyed one of the most fabulous meals I have EVER had the pleasure of eating in my life! We dined at Scotch Bonnets, a new restaurant that opened just this past March, by a woman who immigrated from Jamaica. I had the Country Time Chicken Curry and my dining companion had the Coastal Curry Shrimp. 

As an appetizer, we had Calypso Cod Fish Cakes. Honestly, I didn't think I'd like them. I didn't like the sound of "salted cod" as an ingredient. I had wanted the Plantation Pastry Patties (seasoned ground beef surrounded by flaky puff pastry and baked). But, his wishes prevailed and I was surprised to learn that I liked the cakes. They weren't fishy or even all that salty. And, they were very thin - not thick like crab cakes (which is the image I had in my mind.)

Fried Sweet Plantains
For sides, he chose steamed mixed vegetables and I chose fried plantains. I thought his vegetables were very interesting because they actually shredded them before steaming - almost like they were preparing them for a slaw. I might actually enjoy veggies prepared like that since they would cook more thoroughly for my taste. The plantains were wonderful, as they always are wherever I get them.

Scotch Bonnet's Curry Chicken
But, when our entrees arrived, I was at first hesitant because I know they cook with scotch bonnets, but had been assured that the curry chicken was fairly mild. Plus, the pieces of chicken still had bones and I am not fond of picking bones. But, WOW!! I didn't expect the meal to taste so fabulous that I couldn't stop eating!! There was no heavy curry flavor, the chicken was literally fall off the bone tender (I never had to use my knife) and the potatoes tasted as though they'd been roasted before being added to the broth with the chicken. They were great!

After dinner came dessert. Because we'd purchased a coupon for a discounted pre fixe meal, that meant we had to share dessert like we had the appetizer. They gave us our choices and the two that sounded OK to me were coconut rum cake and coffee rum cake. He agreed to the coffee rum cake. HOLY COW!!! There was no skimping on the alcohol on that cake!!! The menu says it was Jamaican rum and port wine. I don't doubt it in the least. But, you know what? It was really good!! Not a dry crumb in the entire slice.

The only disappointing thing about our visit was that the service really and truly needs to be improved. It's not that they weren't helpful or weren't pleasant. It was more that they just "weren't" - there to wait on us, there to bring us plates so we could eat our appetizer, there to take our orders. The owner was there often making sure our glasses were filled and that we were enjoying our meals, but the server seemed overwhelmed. Fortunately, the food was spectacular enough that I would still go back.