Friday, October 28, 2011

Still here, still behind, but not giving up!

Hi, everyone. Here I am again. I'm so behind, but I am getting better. I have posted several things on my creative writing blog in the past couple of weeks, but haven't been cooking much lately, so didn't really have much to say here. Money is tight right now, so I haven't made anything requiring more than a few ingredients. I made tacos two days ago - I had tortillas and shells on hand, had plenty of hamburger and a pack of taco seasoning in the pantry. I had also bought some cheddar on sale recently, so had the cheese, too. I sent a message to my daughter so she'd bring home lettuce and tomatoes. I put some French fries in the oven (I know - they don't really go with tacos, but I wanted something else) that I had seasoned with Parmesan cheese and steak seasoning. I haven't made tacos in years, if ever, so I wasn't sure what to expect from the taco seasoning, but it wasn't at all what I had expected (I expected something sharply bitter from the chili powder). I was happy with it. I was happy I had the fries, though, because it just didn't seem like enough. My daughter, though, was happy with just tacos. 

The original recipe from Plain Chicken blog
Right now, I'm thawing chicken broth to make another batch of mac-n-cheese from the no-boil recipe I posted a while back. I love it!! I never have creme cheese on hand, but have had sour cream that I used instead and it turned out perfectly fine. This time is no different, other than I'll have to shred the cheese myself. That's OK. It's really good cheese. I'd like to get some sharper cheddar, but I'll use what I can afford to buy and this was on sale for $.99 for 8 ounces. That's $2/pound - a good price by any standard.

I have gone out a couple times with friends recently and had some pretty good food. A week ago, a friend from Utah was here for a brief visit and we all went to a local diner. They were impressed by the quantity of food that came for the price. I'm pretty sure they ate their leftovers for breakfast since their flight was scheduled for the next morning. But, I had ordered "steakhouse" chops because it sounded pretty good. The kitchen instead cooked breaded pork chops, but that was OK since I like them, too. And, they were really quite good, not at all greasy, and definitely moist inside. I couldn't eat both of them, so I brought one home that my daughter ate.

An example of Vegetarian Thali
Earlier that day, my guy friend and I had eaten lunch at an Indian restaurant next to the Starbucks he likes. Because their lunch specials were close to ending, we ate before getting coffee and I had the non-vegetarian Thali (a "sampler" meal that gives a little taste of several different dishes all on one tray). My meat choices were Chicken Tikka Masala (a creamy tomato curry) and Lamb Curry as well as Dal Mahkani (lentils), Basmati rice, Raita (a yogurt cucumber sauce that reminds me of Tzatziki sauce), papadam crisps and Naan bread. Other than the Raita, I love all of it!

Then, this past Wednesday night, the same friend decides to go to another Indian restaurant where he had seen a sign for AYCE buffet for $9.99. He stopped by after his class, which is unusual, so it was at least 9PM when we got there. They were pretty busy, too, because that day was the Hindu Festival of Lights and many families stopped by after they attended whatever services or festival they attend for the holiday. The main waiter told me they hadn't expected many customers because of the holiday, and he was apologizing for how noisy it was (kids running and playing, one screaming, which I can live without), but it was interesting how apologetic he was. Then he explained how he used to work for a restaurant in Florida and most of his customers were non-Indian, where up here in New Jersey, most of the customers were Indian. I kind of got the feeling that he thought that bothered me, which it didn't. It just means their food is genuine when those who grew up on it flock to enjoy it. It was more the decibel level I had a problem with and that wouldn't matter WHO was causing it. But, I enjoyed the food and will be looking forward to going there again for their weekend buffet sometime in the future.

At the moment, I am straining the chicken broth that is finally thawed to remove the bits of seasoning and vegetables my daughter had added to it when she made her soup. I don't think they'll work well in the mac-n-cheese. At the very least, they'll alter the appearance, I think, to something not so pleasant to look at. Not that I have the proper strainer. I'm using a colander lined with paper towels. LOL Ya gotta do what works!

That's about it for today. I hope to be posting more often, even if not every day. I know I've said that before, but honestly - I mean it! They've predicted snow (IN OCTOBER) for the weekend. As much as I hate the summer heat, I'm definitely not ready for snow! LOL Stay warm!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Let the guilt begin!

I haven't been as good about posting as I should be and I am sorry. I promised myself that I would post regularly, even if it wasn't every day, but it hasn't happened. I'm not ready to give up yet, though.

I have been doing other things during this time that have kept me pre-occupied - I'm not even as active on Facebook as I was and you all know how addictive that can be! I decided to get working on my family tree again and find as much as I could with some temporary access to I got so into it, I even worked on my ex-husband's tree (which, of course, is also my children's tree), my landlord's tree and my childhood friend's tree. There's a lot of information out there, but my two brick walls remain sealed. My father's paternal line and my mother's paternal line are proving to be more challenging than I'd have imagined - and in both cases, the ones who are hiding were born in the 1820s. I'm not sure if people from that decade were more private when census takers came around or if there is some other mysterious force behind all this (assuming there is any explainable reason at all). I'm hoping at some point, they'll allow me to find them so I can get beyond the double greats in those two lines.

I've also been window shopping again (I can say that, right? I do use Windows.) I have a thing for kitchen gadgets, utensils, equipment, servingware, etc. I love walking through those departments at stores even though there's no way I can buy anything. A girl can dream, can't she?

I love the new non-traditional shapes that dinnerware have. You ought to see all these different designs in this dinnerware sets clearance online! They're gorgeous! You don't have to go to some high end restaurant any more to present your friends and family with a touch of elegance! I especially like the Caldo-Freddo Kon-Tiki green set with the tall, square coffee cups. I like the plates with sharp corners better than the rounded corners, too.

After my mother passed and I was going through her things, I just fell in love with all the cut glass and crystal she had in the china cabinet - some of it from her mother or older. With the mirrored backing in the china cabinet, it all looked so pretty when the light hit. Plus, she had several sets of antique salt cellars and what we believe to be a 4-legged knife rest - things you just don't see today. So, I really enjoyed going through the page of Shannon Crystal by Godinger since Mom's stuff is all packed away. I got some really good ideas for Christmas gifts for my Irish Catholic landlady!

While looking at all they had to offer, I happened upon something I didn't even know existed - a grill light for your barbecue grill! Since I don't grill, I'd have never considered such a thing, but I know people who grill year round, so when the sun goes down early in the winter, I'm sure they'd like having a bit more light on what they're doing at the grill. I think they're a great idea, one that might just make your favorite grill master very happy this Christmas.

But, that's about it this time around. I promise to try to get back more often so that my blog isn't just sitting unattended and uncared for. It deserves better. And, so do those who have chosen to follow me.