Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life Goes On

I’m always amazed how long I can live out of the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. It proves that even though I buy only what’s on my grocery list and usually only what is on sale, I still buy more food than I realize. We all probably do.

Can you tell I never made it to the grocery store last week? It was too hot to take a bus, too expensive to take a cab, and I felt too much of an imposition to pester anyone for a ride. We’re running out of cookies (mine and Izzy’s) and I’m low on coffee but we’ve eaten our fill every day and even had dessert once in a while. The surprising thing is that I was able to make two holiday-type meals out of the freezer and pantry and none of them looked like offerings from an episode of “Chopped.”

If I were reading this blog, I’d wonder about Easter. I’m writing this blog and I wondered about Easter too. I did until I figured it out. There were two pork chops in the freezer. They had bones. It was as close to ham as I could get. (Of course, my mother never made Easter ham. She made Easter lamb, the leg of course.) There were a few new potatoes left on the counter. There were hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator. There were peas in the freezer. My Easter eating would consist of what was at hand.

The appetizer round was, naturally, deviled eggs. I don’t remember ever having made deviled eggs before. I sliced the eggs in half lengthwise and emptied the yolks into a small bowl. While crushing the yolks with a fork I contemplated additions to the creamy stuffing. I knew there would be mayonnaise. Did I want to add a drop of sriracha? Not if Izzy was having any. (She likes it with nachos but it’s a little much for Easter.) How about a little pickle relish? Not if it’s going in the egg salad I’ll make Tuesday. No, just mayo in the egg yolks. (I would have added a little mustard but who knew prepared mustard could go bad?) The stuffed egg whites looked good. To make them look even better, I dusted them with a little paprika. Does that sound like deviled eggs to you?

The entree round was planned to take two burners on the stove and the microwave. The potatoes started in a small saucepan of salted water. After a few minutes, I started browning both pork chops in a pan large enough to hold them both without crowding. A little kosher salt and pepper I checked the potatoes - quite ready. My attention turned back to the pork chops. They were ready to play. I added a little Key lime juice to the pan, a tablespoon or two. I almost always use Key lime juice instead of regular lime or lemon juice because there’s always some in the fridge. Then I added about a quarter cup white wine. That was in the fridge too. I let the pork chops and liquids get acquainted then turned the chops and put the cover on the pan, lowering the heat a little. Just before the chops smelled just right, after adding a little more lime juice and wine, I added about two teaspoon of capers. Izzy and I ate like princesses.

A trip to the store is in order today only for dog biscuits and coffee. I’ll be taking the bus and the quarter mile from the corner gets very long with a reusable bag full of heavy food. When I finally make it to the grocery store my list will include fixings for Cinco de Mayo food and Derby Day. Pretty good eatin’ comin’ up!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another New Start

Spring is time for new starts. Luckily it’s not the only time. Since moving to Florida, new starts have jumped into my life in the winter, not necessarily by choice. Around Chicago, the only starts I expected in winter were from my old Chevy.

Izzy, my canine sister, has been trying to speak to me. She has code motions and sounds that may not be words but convey her meanings nonetheless. Ask any dog owner. They understand. Wednesday night I started planning dinner out loud. Since Izzy and I were alone she assumed I was talking to her. She told me no when I mentioned cooking the chicken breast with a sauce. We then went on to discuss the entire meal Рchicken, baby portabellas, and red potatoes. When a dog suggests everything in the dish be sliced and saut̩ed, you can forgive her. She eats straight from a dog bowl, not on a plate with a knife and fork.

We’re having leftovers tonight. That doesn’t mean we won’t consider future dinners but right now I’m thinking about lunch. That’s almost hard to do since I want to go work in the yard. We got our first zucchini blossom today and the new squash I planted have sprung out of the ground. Went out this morning to water the little plots of plants and noticed the amazing growth since the morning before. Tried to work on readying the pepper patch but the bugs were vicious. I tried a little later before it got too hot out. Impossible plan. It got too hot in about five minutes and the bugs never gave me a break.

I must make a short shopping list for tomorrow since I need coffee and Izzy needs cookies. I’ll be hoofing it almost a quarter of the trip. A bus will take care of the long and boring trek. It will also save me from the verge of heat exhaustion that necessitated a cab ride last week. This week I’ll wear a hat. Hopefully, next week I can bum a ride from a kind neighbor who drives a hybrid. If I’m lucky, at least one of the busses I ride will be a hybrid. (They have ramps instead of steps. Double plus.) I miss having a car - even with the gas prices going sky high. I miss having a job. I miss having Ernie around. There’s time to get everything back if I’m lucky, everything except Ernie.

Two zucchini blossoms have dropped so far. I’ve read that’s no cause for alarm. Male flowers do that since they have no future. They live to pollinate and then die. Sounds like a guy thing to me. Suffering through blossom drop with my pepper plants two years ago toughened me to blossom drop of all kinds. Nothing has toughened me to ready this year’s pepper patch in the heat and swarms of biting insects. Think I’ll start working on next year’s garden this winter. Only the sun will stunt my yard work then. Sure, the days will be shorter but they’ll be cooler too.

I’m rambling. I noticed that and am sure you did too. Time to make dinner. This time it will be a surprise to Izzy. She’s just a dog and planning recipes shouldn’t be part of her job description. Sometimes I appreciate her input, though.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Might Be Back

Inactivity is one of the greatest sins of blogdom and I have committed it big time. I’m guilty of ignoring this part of my writing life and therefore my internet friends.

I could offer you excuses. They probably wouldn’t hold up. I could offer promises. Would you believe me? Truth be told, my interest in the blog waned when comments ended. It isn’t fun talking to yourself, at least not for me. I spend most of the day talking to Izzy. She’s trying to talk back to me but she’s a dog and not really built for verbal communication.

I played with blogspot to see if I could fix the problem for months. Time to give it a try again. Trying to talk to Google about the problem has been as successful as trying to learn now to fly. I haven’t been alone. There are plenty of blogs with the same comments problem. Several bloggers have posted solutions. I’ll try fixes until I find one that works. I’ll need your help to see if the comments start working since the owner of the blog can always post a comment.

Meanwhile, the actual manuscript of A Table For One or Two is slowly taking shape. There are times I wish diced tomatoes came in 8-ounce cans. (The way food packaging is shrinking, that would be a 7-ounce can soon.) I wish vegetables planted from seed grew faster almost every day now. I will be staggering plantings to have a fresh, new crop until winter arrives. Gardening is taking more of my time than cooking or writing lately. That’s no way to write cookbooks but it’s a great way to get fresh, organic produce.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to return to my blog and continue writing it with love. The answer appeared as if by magic. My grandson has a link to my blog on his website. Actually, my daughter put it there. Garrison is only 6. (Sorry, G-man, six and a half.)

Writing on the blog will now be communicating with my family. As long as you’re reading it, you can be family too. Since we’re all family, I might ask you to chop onions or help with the dishes but you’re all invited for dinner or lunch or maybe even just dessert.

It’s time for me to do some cooking and thinking about the next post. I’d like to plan at least one new post every week. We’ll see how that goes. In a perfect world, we will be able to talk with each other. If that doesn’t work, I’ll continue the monologues.