Sunday, November 9, 2008

Alright economy, get better already!!

So, we had some layoffs a couple weeks ago at my workplace. It's happening everywhere, it was kinda a relief to find out it was over & done with at our place.

Last Friday, we arrived at work to find an email informing us of three weeks of furlough - basically Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Use your personal time off or they'll be unpaid days. We do have a "use it by the end of the year or loose it" policy anyway, so I was going to take some time off. Part of me is actually kinda jazzed about it - three whole days to cook before Thanksgiving! And I'll have time to scrub the house before Christmas when we have the folks over!

But, I also can't help but be a little worried.... it looks like the company buyout is coming sooner rather than later, and I have to hope they don't come in looking to make more cuts right at the start. I have my fingers crossed that these measures will be enough to make them happy that we've taken measures. I'm more than happy to take some unpaid days if it means no more layoffs.

Get better already, economy!


So... cooking for today is Italian Sunday Gravy, Baked Clams Oreganata and some Fish Chowder. First up, the Fish Chowder.

Basic enough... cook some bacon, cook some potatoes, onion and carrot in the drippings. Poach the fish (I used a mix of pollack and lake trout that I pulled out of the freezer, I almost wish I had used all trout). I actually had some Kitchen Basics seafood stock, so I used that to poach, rather than water. Combine it all together and....

And I thought it needed a sprinkle of Old Bay....

Very tasty. I had a bowl, and even the non-fish eater hubby had a bowl. Although his opinion of his clean bowl was "It'd have been really good without the fish."


Next up was the Italian Gravy. It is something that has a place in my heart and I start to get cravings when the weather turns cold and we're headed toward the holidays. When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was always spent with my mom's side of the family. We'd go over to my aunt's house, and because her long-time partner was born & raised in Italy, she's become a pretty good Italian cook over the years. A couple times my mom and I headed over early (or she was running late, I don't remember) and I recall being in the kitchen helping out with the Italian canned tomatoes and various animal parts that made it up. I know my aunt used pork neck bones and also chicken necks. I know chicken necks, because I always got a bone in my serving. Always.

The recipe calls for making your own quick sauce, and I did have the intention of doing that, but laziness took over. I browned my sausages, cooked some onions, deglazed the pan with some wine, then toss the entire mess in the slow cooker with the sausages, steak, and pork ribs. I cooked it for 6 hours on high, but I bet it'd be better if you did the long cook on Low.


At about hour 4, it smelled AMAZING.

Here it is, with the meat all shredded and ready to top some pasta....

Very good. They aren't kidding with the amount of garlic they call for... since I was using pre-made sauce I only added half that amount, but I easily could have gone for more.

Although I'd have enjoyed it more if I hadn't forgotten about the bottle of Chianti that I opened for the recipe. I wanted to have a glass with dinner, but totally forgot about it until I was mopping up the last of the sauce with my garlic bread. Grrr.

For the clams, I was just kinda interested to see how well the recipe actually worked. It's kinda cool... it calls for you to put the clams in a HOT oven for a couple of minutes to get them to open, so they're then easier to get fully open. And, the stuffing calls for chicken stock (I had clam stock on hand, used that) to keep it moist.

It took longer than 2 minutes for my clams to open, it was more like 5....

But there they are! Opened and everything.

Trying to get them open with a butter knife was laughable, at best. I actually resorted to shoving my kitchen tongs in the opening and prying them open, and using kitchen shears to cut the thingmajoob that kinda holds them closed. Worked well enough.

At least they looked pretty coming out of the oven...

However, I totally overcooked them Total tire rubber under that tasty topping. Oooops. Go me? At least I can say it does help to put them in the oven to get them opened, and the moist topping is the way to go. I may try them again sometime in the future.

Still, a tasty day.

Now, just have a sink full of dishes to face, after I portion up the gravy leftovers for the freezer.


Hurricane Mikey said...

If you don't have enough room in your freezer, you can send a load of the Italian gravy to:

Hurricane Mikey
Henderson, NV 89012
USA, Earth

I'm sure I could put it to good use. Looks good!

Marilyn said...

Thinking good thoughts for you and your job. My husband is in banking and our son works for a bank software development company, so this is a scary time for us.

MrsVJW said...

Mikey - LOL!

Marilyn - my brother is in banking also, but he works for a USA branch of one of those European firms... they already did their cuts a couple months back.