Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And the blog goes on......

Sorry that the last week was radio silence around here... was busy helping with MamaFrau and crawling into a nice little dark hole for a week. It happens.

And this week has already seen the fun of a totally crippling migraine yesterday (in which I discovered that no room of this house - even the basement - gets dark enough for my migraine tastes on a sunny June day) that has at least dulled to a bad headache today. I'll take it.

Add to that a very cranky and overworked hubby, and I haven't had the energy to do much. It happens. But hopefully now that life is resuming a more normal pace/schedule, I should be better.

For now... random observations I've had over the past week.....

When they go out to buy new furniture/paintings/lamps for a doctor's waiting room, do they actually purposefully buy something that doesn't totally go with the rest of the decor?

Saw a woman at a grocery store one morning, and I swear, if she's not known as "Chesty Melons" or something, I'd be surprised. Not that I have anything wrong with adult entertainment... but dude, ya don't need to advertise at the produce mart on a Tuesday morning.

When did I cross the line with the dude who sells me cigarettes that it was OK for him to start asking me about "how to go into a Victoria's Secret store to buy some nice things to take to his bride-to-be in India later in the summer"?? Because he's asked me. Twice.

I've come to peace with the fact that everyone else in the world will look at me with two heads when I admit that I think the whole "Twilight" books series was horrible. I could also just learn to shut my mouth when people start talking about the books, but that would be too easy.

I didn't think I'd take to it... but I am sooooo addicted to books in PDF format on my Palm. I have embraced the Ebook and given it some very sloppy kisses. Me love Ebook.

The End

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Frozen eggs, anyone???

(MamaFrau is home resting comfortably... well.... at least more comfortably than she rested in the hospital. I'm here for the night and a good part of tomorrow, then it will be heading home to deal with a grumpy Mr. Frau who will be working way too many hours next week because they're swamped with work and his boss is going on vacation. My life is just SO much fun)

So..... in the landscape that is our fridge, egg cartons usually end up on the top shelf, above everything else (this happens because there is usually a 30-pack of beer on the top shelf, hence the lack of room for a lot of other things). This is also where some freezer air blows right into the fridge section, hence, we occasionally get frozen eggs...

Neat, huh? (Or is it just me???)

On to other topics.... tuna salad nicoise!!

I love me some tuna salad. It was always best when Dad made it, because anything that wasn't nailed down usually ended up in there (carrots, celery, onion, etc.). But I am growing quite fond of the salad I make in summer (kinda ripped out of the Bouchon cookbook). It's a true summer treat for me, because I need to use fresh tarragon. And as hard as I try, I usually kill my tarragon plants when I try to bring them inside during winter.

Tuna, fresh tarragon & parsley, some diced radish, nicoise olives, capers, some chopped tomato (I prefer tomato confit, also out of the Bouchon cookbook, but fresh tomato is good too) and some hard boiled egg.

All that and some mayo, mix and you have a sammich filling....

I actually walked over to the nearby market and got a nice, fresh roll....

I also decided to give a try to the "Speedy" No-Knead Bread. Mostly because I forgot to start the regular bread the night before. Whoops.

It starts out the same... scraggly mess....

No pictures of the end product, mainly because I had a HECK of a time trying to get it outta the stoneware. One section decided to stick, for some reason. Never had that happen before.

Just not as big of a fan of the "speedy" version... tastes really flat. The longer rise time one is just better.

Served the bread with some Spaghetti ala Carbonara (aka "artirial plaque on a plate).

REALLY liked this recipe. The hubby thought the sauce was a bit thick... I can see maybe thinning it a little with some milk next time. But man, was it good. And rich. And the green onions on the top were a really nice compliment to the richness of the dish.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Can I smack everyone who has been saying "It doesn't feel like June" for the past two weeks??

(Mama Frau came through her surgery with flying colors and the hope is that the horrible "C" word is totally out of her body now, along with a couple of organs she wasn't using. She's recovering in the hospital now, hopefully will be sent home on Sunday. Yay! And then I'll likely be her nursemaid for a few days. Um, not so yay.)

So... we've had an unseasonably cool and rainy start to June in the Chicago area.

Which means everyone has been going "it doesn't feeeeeeel like Juuuuuuuune yet...." for the past two weeks. Except me.

I've been happy to not have to turn on the air conditioner or worry about watering my tomato plants.

But tonight.... the infamous Chicago Summer Weather attacked.

Hot and muggy in the day.

Oh, what's that? It still doesn't feeeeeeeeeeel like June?

How about some nasty thunderstoms to go with that muggy heat? And throw in a couple of tornadoes for good measure??

Hausfrau raises the smackin' hand....

One reason I had NO interest in going to school downstate is because tornadoes usually try to keep to the untamed lands of the middle and lower sections of Illinois. I'm way up north. Like, really close to Wisconsin, north.

And this evening, there were tornadoes in Kenosha. Which is in Wisconsin, just past the Illinois border (for those who don't understand the whole Illinois/Wisconsin or West Gemany/Czechoslovakia geographic thing). If there are storms that can make tornadoes into Kenosha... there are storms that can make tornadoes where I am.

I am not good when tornado sirens go off. I am aware of this fact. The couple times they ushered us into the hallways or gym while I was in grade school when the sirens went off, I got sent to the nurses office when it was over for being a nervous wreck.

At least while we were living in the apartment that I am much braver about tornado sirens when we decided to take the case of beer with us. Beer + tornado = not quite as terrifying

So, the hubby got home tonight and announced he never got to each lunch today (we had some similar, non-tornadic storms thru the area around lunchtime... enough to flood many many streets where the hubby works, and most eateries closed) and was on his feet all day running around (power surge managed to fry ALL the desktop computers, but not-so-lucky for hubby since the Blackberry servers were still fine) and he didn't stop for beer on the way home and needed to eat but wasn't sure what he wanted.

Wait a minute... we have severe weather upon us AND NO BEER????

I got the beer run out of the way first. And apparently I was not the only one doing that... I saw more people in the liquor department of the grocery store than I have ever seen there. Seems like everyone was stocking up.

I did finally bully him into accepting Culvers as a dinner option, and I got home just before the skies opened up, the tornado warnings started a'coming, and the trees started blowing horizontally. Fun!

We had a downright odd power surge... brown out for about two minutes. Usually after ten seconds, we either loose power or it decides to play nice.

That storm system has passed.... now we just have to wait out the next wave that is supposed to come thru tonight. Um, yay. Not.

So... can I smack all those people who have been complaining about it not being summer weather? Because it sure is now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I had a proper update... really I did....

... but right now I'm engrossed in the horror that is the Mini Cheeseburger Salad. It got a mention on the Colbert Report tonight and not only is it a prime example of one of the reasons I stopped watching anything with Rachel Ray on it, I hope it ends up on This Is Why You're Fat in the very near future. Eeeeek.

And a warning... might be some silence around here for the next week or so. Mama Frau is going in for some surgery tomorrow and will be in the hospital for a few days, so I'll likely be hanging out there (although the hospital does have a fairly decent wireless setup) but I have a funny feeling that by the time I get home each night, I'll really only want to sit in front of the TV and veg out with a beer in hand. I probably won't be cooking, but I at least have some material I can use if I can get around to it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dinner: How to face a FAIL!

So... figured I'd do a nice, easy dinner tonight. Pork Chops with Country Gravy. Always tasty. I've made it many times.

One thing I love about this recipe... it's a well done recipe. You dredge your pork chops in a specified amount of flour, and then actually use the rest of the flour to thicken the gravy. Since that leftover flour is also mixed with the milk before it goes into the pan, it's a good way to get a gravy without a lot of fat.

Browned pork chops....

Flour/milk mixture (and an extra pat of butter)....

I raided the garden for some parsley, chives and sage....

Nestle the pork chops back in the liquid, and you braise them until they're done.

Mmmm... tasty, no?

No. Really, NO.

I managed to over-salt my mashed potatoes (I think I accidentally salted them twice), I tried to steam some Flintstones-sized asparagus spears and after twice the amount of time I usually steam asparagus they were still too "crunchy' for the hubby (apparently veggies are best served mushy and gray to him) and the pork was just, not good. Didn't taste "off", but didn't taste good, either. And the chops were just cut funny and it was hard to get a good slice that was easy to chew, no matter which way you attacked.

Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, to the rescue!!!

Hey... you got your bread/grains, your jelly/fruit, and peanut butter/protein. There are less balanced meals out there.

Been awhile since I made grilled PB&J, and they were tasty as usual. Messy, but tasty. Sure, your hands are covered with goopy jelly and melty peanut butter at the end, but that is almost half the fun.

Lunch: Flatbread Monday?

So, for lunch today, I decided to do some spicy Thai mussels. Yum. No recipe... just went along.

Coconut milk, a whap of panang curry paste, and a quartered lime....

Bring that to a simmer, dump in a package of frozen greenshell mussels....

Mussel dishes require bread. REQUIRE, I say. You need something to gop up all the lovely sauce.

How about some flat bread (AKA "flutbread" if you happen to be a no-talent host on the Food Network) to go along with it, since you happen to have extra pizza dough leftover from Friday??

Smeared the dough with a little garlic-chili paste, threw it in the oven and ta-dah.......

Mmmm...... back to the mussels...

Very tasty (gotta remember how well mussels go with coconut milk). And very easy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pizza Friday: The Veggie Pizza I Want To Marry

I think I'm getting pretty good at this pizza thing.

Today, I was originally going to eat leftovers from last night's Taco Night for lunch.

Aaaaaand when I woke up this morning, I saw that I left the taco meat out on the counter all night. Go me.

So, decided to use up some tomatoes I had on hand and go for a nice veggie-tastic pizza.

I started out my crust, and I actually tossed the plain crust in the oven for two minutes before topping it, since I was working with some pretty wet toppings.

Partly cooked pizza crust, topped with tomatoes went in for another two minutes.

Add some canned/drained artichokes, and some garlic. A tomato/garlic pizza has been on my mind... I don't know if it was last weekend or the weekend before, but it was the Printer's Row Book Fair downtown. I was about 12 or 13 when I went there with my friend from church, Erin. Erin lived in our neighborhood, but she went to school in Chicago. It was quite exciting that we got to take the train downtown by ourselves, no parents, and then walk over to the book fair before having lunch at Uno's. And Erin ordered us her favorite pizza... tomato and garlic. And it was good.

Oh yeah, add cheese. Without cheese, it's just flatbread. I also added some oregano from the garden.

Out of the oven.....

For a meatless meal, I sure liked this. A lot. I considered marrying this pizza, until I decided that I'd rather just finish it off. Urph.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why'd you have to go and be all helpful????

So, when my elliptical busted on Tuesday, I called the extended warranty folks. Actually, I tried to go to their website first, but it apparently got poached and it is now a Jesus site. Doesn't inspire confidence.

I didn't write down the name of the dude I talked to on Tuesday. For further purposes of this tale, we'll call him "Crackhead". I had to tell Crackhead my home phone number three times and I had to correct my cellular number twice when I gave it to him.

I was supposed to get a call from the company that would be doing the repair to set up an appointment for today.

Today came and went, no phone call to set up the appointment, no one stopped by.

I am an unemployed woman right now. I have nothing better to do than make sure that they take care of this for me.

I spent a part of the day stewing, working myself up to a proper frenzy to call this company back and give them hell to make sure they knew it'd be easier to just take care of my problem quickly rather than drag their heels.

I finally did make the call, and unlike Crackhead, Sarah was quite helpful.

Even though Crackhead didn't enter my home number correctly.

Or my cellular number.

Or my home address.

Thankfully, even after I took the hubby's last name, I was lucky enough to get something fairly uncommon as a last name (my maiden name was better... I think the only people in the US with that name are related to me and can be tracked back to some family member). When someone like Crackhead gets all your other information wrong, it's at least easy to say "search W-R-O" and have the nice person find your name without too huge of a hassle.

And from how Sarah handled the call, apparently Crackhead was supposed to give me the claim number (he didn't) and the name of the company that would be doing the repair (c'mon... what do you think? Of course Crackhead did not give me that!). Sarah was even nice enough to contact the company for me while I waited, to give them the CORRECT phone numbers and contact information, and I should be expecting a call from them tomorrow. And she even told me that if I don't hear from them by noon to give them a call, and gave me their number.

I was really, really looking forward to getting majorly mad on the phone. Then I had to go and get some actual good service. There went that plan.

I've worked customer service lines before, and I fully understand when someone else mucked something up, it's usually not the fault of the poor person that gets the follow up call. So I remained kind and polite with Sarah, trying to be as gracious as I could for her assistance. Wasn't her fault that Crackhead was... well... a crackhead.

So, Thank you, Sarah!

Cram it wherever your species traditionally crams things*, Crackhead!

Hopefully that will be the only drama about getting this elliptical fixed. Even though I suspect it won't be.

* That'd be one of my favorite "Futurama" quotes ever.

Update! - Wow, the power of the last name! Repair dude actually called me tonight, and after he correctly pronounced the last name (which, even my own mother can't do) he asked if I was related to so-and-so with the same last name. And, why yes, I am! Turns out repair dude know hubby's cousin. I'm oddly optimistic right now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I think I should have used a bigger pot....

So, awhile back I made a tamale-lentil casserole thing. Loved the filling, was not as fond of the cornbread topping. IMHO, it needed something less-sweet than the usual boxed cornbread mixture.

But, I still liked the concept. And I started to crave it again.

Why not use the general concept to make some lentil chili-type thing?

And, rather than the 1 1/4 cups of lentils, why not use the entire stinkin' bag so you're not left with 3/4 cup of lentils? (I hate recipes that leave you with amounts of an ingredient that you can't easily use for another purpose. HATE.)

Sauteed some onions and garlic, added a bag of red lentils, about 5 1/2 cups of water, a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, a can of Rotel, some leftover tomato sauce, a drained can of corn, and a packet of taco seasoning.

Yes, it bubbled over and there is currently a mess on my stove. Yay.

But, a nice low-fat, fiber filled chili means one thing... bring on the toppings!

Oyster crackers, cheese, low fat sour cream. Yum. Thank goodness we're in unseasonable cool weather and not pushing 90 degrees.

Afternoon activities in these parts is actually doing some sewing. Woooo fun.

So, many years back, I feel in big-time love with the Ralph Lauren Aragon bedding. Leopard print. Loved it so much, I bought an entire extra set - including comforter.

A million years later (ok, like 10) both sets have seen better days. I blame the hubby's toenails. I swear, those things could cut glass when he lets them get to long.

There is currently a nice little tear right where I grab the covers to pull them up every morning after the first alarm goes off. So every morning for the past week, I am reminded that I should really sew that up. Great way to start a day. A nice reminder that I'm not working so I can't just drop it at the cleaners to have them fix it, or shell out mucho bucks for a replacement comforter since RL apparently decided to finally stop making this print a couple years back.

Going through the linen closet, I found my "box-o-sewing-stuff and various junk leftover from other craft projects" and found, among other things, a half-done and abandoned hairpiece I was working on more than several years back...

Weee! Fun with fake hair.

Now we'll see if I manage to get around to the sewing, or if I decide to play with fake hair for the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lunch for One

For the second time since I bought my elliptical, a workout was halfway interrupted by the stinkin' thing breaking. This time, apparently a nice crack in the metal of the left handlebar.


Last time it broke, it was still under the manufacture's warranty, and it wasn't too bad to get them to send parts and a repair dude after I sent them a copy of my receipt.

This time around, it's under the extended service warranty. I was highly concerned when I went to their listed website address, the URL is apparently now owned by some Jesus-y website. Not the warranty company.

So, I had to call them, but after repeating all of my information three times, they were more than happy to schedule me for an appointment at my latest inconvenience. So, dude coming by on Thursday to likely go "Yep, that's a crack!" and then wait for them to try to get parts.

Looks like I might have to look into talking some walks around the local forest preserve to get in exercise for the next few days.

But, at least lunch cheered me up.

I love fish, the husband hates fish. I also love balsamic browned butter, and the hubby also hates that. And I love green/yellow/purple beans. Any guess on the hubby's opinion on those?? Yeah.

So, put that all together for a lovely lunch...

Mahi mahi filet, the sauce, and some beans that I steamed. Tres yum.

Now, I just need to figure out what the heck to do with the chicken legs I bought for dinner tonight.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pizza Friday (And Saturday.... on a Sunday)

Bad blogger, reporting for duty!

Howdy there folks... apparently my particular little case of the blahs leaked into this week. Hurrah? I had posts I wanted to do, but little motivation to do them.

Add in me pulling one of those "mucho important" muscles in my neck while cleaning on Friday, and I've been trying not to move too much since. I was even feeling better this morning, and a bout of laughter did me in again. I finally buckled today and went out to get one of those "heat up in the microwave" warmer things and can move my head again. Yay?

Anyway... I continued with the new tradition of Pizza Friday around here. Found a slightly modified pizza crust recipe and had a go with that.

I actually halved the dough so I could try and get a thinner crust. Worked out pretty well.

Pizza crust, topped with fresh mozz, tomato confit and some diced raw tomato since they were about to go south, and some oregano and basil from the garden...

Out of the oven.... mmm.... tasty....

Overeall... a little "meh" but still good. I might have actually preferred some aged mozz on it. I donno.

We woke up early on Saturday 'cause the hubby unit was going in early to work. When he got home, it was lunch time, and I just so happened to have the extra pizza dough in the fridge.

More pizza, anyone??

This was actually some pizza sauce with some extra garlic, salami, a mix of fresh and aged mozz, sprinkle of romano and parm, and oregano from the garden. I left off the basil and just added some to my pieces at the end... hubby is NOT a basil fan.

Mmmmm... bubbly crispy done.

I might have to look into finding myself an ungalzed quary tile (cheaper than a pizza stone). The parchment paper actually does a fair job of wicking away some moisture to get a crispy crust, but I'm curious about stone, now.

Hopefully, I'll be more motivated during the upcoming week. I still need to get my post about French Toast done.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Best Thing You Ever Ate

So... while I had Food Network on over the weekend, they had an ad for some "Best Thing I Ever Ate" show, that is apparently a rerun. I guess I pay far less attention to Food Network than I used to.

For some reason, the thought got stuck in my head.

I asked the hubby last night, and being indecisive as he tends to be sometimes, he had to throw things into categories. Surprisingly, as he went through his list, some of my food actually made the list (yay!). Chili and ribs. Oh, and my meatballs. Even if she was not my blood grandmother, I don't think you can have an Italian grandmother and not know how to make a good meatball.

It took me a little while to think about it, but I easily came to one answer. Beef tartar and pommes Dauphine from Guy Savoy in Vegas. Hands down. No question.

I've tried to find a picture, but Google image has failed me. Sorry.

I can tell you that the "small bites" portion you can get in the bar is three spoons, one half of each filled with pommes Dauphine, the other half filled with the beef tartare.

And it's seriously like the best beef/potato combo you'll ever have. Really.

Cool beef tartar one half, slightly crispy and warm potato on the other. Perfect ratios. Perfect blending of the textures, the warmth and cold.

It has seriously ruined me for any other beef/potato combo in the world. Ever. A ButterBurger and Chili Cheese Fries from Culvers don't even compare anymore.

So... what's yours??