Falling… page 125

Day 220 – 10/21/2020

… the rain, the temps… here’s where it gets real, Diary, as the weather closes in and the balcony becomes off-limits – how sloooow can she gooooo? Chill and damp out there this morning, with showers in the forecast. BUT… tomorrow’s supposed to be in the 80s, so I barely have time to whine about this, I just know what comes after tomorrow and beyond…

A few stalwarts are on the courts again this morning, but Kimmers opted to stay in where it’s cozier, playing guitar, which doesn’t make me sad. I’m running comfort-food menus through my head and just got to the M’s. I think we have Velveeta Mac, which is always a guilty pleasure on a cold day. Since we usually think of the same food ideas, we’ll see how that pans out…

We did pick Mac & Cheese for lunch, which I’m pretty sure we just had last week but desperate times call for desperate measures. Kim put Italian sausage crumbles in his today, but I’m always reluctant to harsh the cheesy mellow with anything – it’s therapy. We got a brief hard rain when he would have been playing PickleBall, so he called that, too. It’s gray and drizzly, one of those days where I wander from one distraction to another like a dog who doesn’t know where to lie down. Most of it happens in my head, but still…

I’m tuning in to TV news coverage a little more as we get down to the wire – it’s hard to resist keeping tabs on shenanigans and polls. That practice failed us utterly last time, however, so I’m trying to stick with the highlights and take every last thing with a grain of salt. We’re mostly spazzing out over The Voice… they’re doing such a stellar job of production this season we forget there isn’t a live studio audience. Also The Amazing Race, which is new to Kim and an old friend to me from their earliest seasons, before I spaced it off. And maybe a debate tomorrow night, American entertainment at its nadir. We’ll watch… we ain’t scared.

Adding this so I’ll know in the future where things were right now, two weeks out:

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In… page 51

Day 83 – 06/03/2020

Other than a haircut and an overnight in the ER, I’m still sticking close to home for all the reasons, the biggest being that everything I need or want is right here. The hot weather we pined for has arrived… and what were we thinking? Kim has left outdoor PickleBall early the past two mornings because of it, and the A/C’s making up for lost time.

He went for a walk this morning and brought me some alley photos. The one above depicts Gwendolyn Brooks and the introduction to one of her poems: “This is the urgency:¬† Live! and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind,” along with Oscar Micheaux, Gordon Parks, and Langston Hughes, each of whom had a seminal influence on the character of Lawrence, Kansas.

We’re in awe of this marble bust on Mass Street, not least because of the way it responds to sunlight. It’s an incredible piece of work.

This one painted on tiny tiles next to a doorway took me back to Sunday when we had my sister Rita here for her birthday. Kim’s Mexican Kitchen was in full-on production and the results were Ah-mazing. Alas, so amazing that a picture of the plates didn’t happen.

And the birthday woman, the only pic here I can take credit for. Her blue eyes and beautiful smile light up a room and our lives. ūüíó

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Gimme Shelter… page 27

Day 33 – 04/14/2020

Elizabeth K√ľbler-Ross would be gratified – I’ve worked my way through the five stages of grief a few times in various combinations and on this random Tuesday in April I’m a sentient lump of acceptance, or resignation, or “wot the hell.” Where else is there to go?

The anger stage does hang in there under everything, though, so my instincts have steered me toward ultra-light entertainment. If you can’t find me on Facebook, Twitter, in a book, or writing, I’m playing Words With Friends, or hanging out in Gardenscapes or Fishdom. Tried Township but I can’t take the nonstop responsibility, jeez.

Looks like we get low 50s and some sunshine today, and I hear Kim’s key in the door so he’s back from his morning walk. I may or may not have heard talk of waffles…

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Slow food for a snowy day…

*A timely re-post from 2013

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 stick of butter
2 15 oz cans chicken broth
24 oz. frozen egg noodles

Directions

Cook chicken, soup, butter, and broth in crock-pot on low for 6-7 hours.

Take chicken out and shred.

Put chicken back in; add noodles and cook on low for 2 hours. Stir a few times while cooking.

Suggestion: Serve over mashed potatoes, with your favorite side.

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Thoughts of home & family…

Hello, babies, and Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your day and the weekend will surpass what you’d hoped for and the good memories will stay with you through the winter months and whatever lies beyond.

America and all the world rely on tradition to tell us what to do, how to order the months of the year, how to plan our celebrations. It’s been described as peer pressure from dead people, but it holds heavy sway over most of us and proves hard to break with when we try.

This Thanksgiving is unique in our downsized family. Before our mom’s eight siblings and their offspring scattered to the winds, holidays were oversized productions at our grandparents’ house, any work involved taken for granted by kids under twelve, the mountains of food appearing by magic, clean-up accomplished by swanky uncles with shirt-sleeves rolled, children strictly banned from the kitchen.

Those storybook times are long past, but most years since, my two sisters and I and parts of our families have managed to be together, sharing the love and good cooking. This time, for whatever reasons, a perfect storm conspired to keep that from happening, so we deal.

Middle sister and bro-in-love have retired to beautiful but relatively remote environs and their daughters and families are prevented by various circumstances from being with them, nor will they be with each other.

Baby sis has fallen in love, has recently retired, is spending the weekend with her new people, and happiness abounds. We get to connect with her kitten, Big Jade, twice a day while Mama’s away. Baby sis’s kids and grands are on the Left Coast, thus not physically huggable on this holiday either.

Pa and I are here, dead center USA, least traditional of the siblings, he of original hippiedom, I a rebel from jump. One of our guy kids is deep in the heart of Texas, the other two keep Georgia on our mind. The Oncology RN is working, as is so often the case, on behalf of coworkers with families. His other half, one of the youngest in his big family, is trying mightily to be their rock through a stretch of rough road, and it’s likely nobody will even get around to dinner this year.

And how are the non-traditionalists faring? So far so lovely. We made sure the Jadester was safe and warm, first order of business. Loved her up good, then came home and Kim made Belgian waffles in his snazzy hotel-style waffle maker – so right with fruit, syrups, bacon, sausage, lots of excellent coffee. It’s been raining lightly all morning and the fireplace feels wonderful. Right here is where we need to be while I baby my back some more. We could be kind of iffy conversationalists right now anyway, like after the toasts, yikes, wouldn’t be prudent.

And now the day stretches before us, quiet and full of possibility. Kim’s on the other side of the wall playing guitar, I’m here with my coffee, we never lack for books to read or movies to watch. If angst should overcome me, I can always sit back down here, open a vein, and bleed on the keyboard. We might watch parts of the National Dog Show in a bit – it’s becoming a sort of campy tradition with us. Anyway, we’re not allowed to get bored, that would be a crime.

I don’t miss turkey – we could have shoved one into the oven if we’d wanted to. I do miss all the cooking aromas and the happy activity. What I miss for real, though, the only thing that will matter to me, ever again, is my family. I really, this year, miss those hugs, both given and received, those familiar voices, those beloved laughs that are like no one else’s. There’s only one wish in my bucket right now – that at some point in the foreseeable future we could ALL – we three sisters, our amazing men, our kids, their partners, and their kids could be together in one place. And if our brother’s kids and their kids could be with us too – that’s my idea of heaven, which we can choose to make at least a little of right here, right now. Henry-boy, you’re on that list too, kiddo.

That’s where we get our traditions – from the things that mean the most – and now we’ve come full circle, for the non-traditionalists among us.

The sweetest of thankful days to us all. Amen.

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Happy Day…

Wishing all of my blogging community a lovely Thanksgiving with nothing but love, good food, and rest in your spirits. And maybe you’ll get to help someone else along the way…

 

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Honeybun cake…

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I find it hilariously revealing that my all-time most-visited blog post is one entitled “Heeeyyy, good lookin’, whaaatcha’ got cookin’ …?” It’s a recipe for coffee cake, which people might¬†not be expecting to find under that title, but had I called it “World’s Best Coffee Cake, Trust Me,” I can’t imagine that it would have outperformed everything else I’ve ever published by 1000 to 1. Since I put it up three years ago it’s never left top spot on my “most viewed.” People are so freaking predictable.

And yet…and yet…92 people have taken¬†the time to give it a rating, for an average four stars, and a lot of comments have been left, so you know what? This probably IS the world’s best coffee cake, trust me. So simple to make, so yummy to eat – we should all bake one this morning just to get the week started on a good note. You know you want to…

Best Coffee Cake

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The Right Stuff…

family-togethering-in-joy-old-christmas-wallpapers

 

The magic was always in the secrets and the rush and the crazy, trying to make each holiday season the best one ever, the gifts perfect, the food exactly according to tradition, all for that elusive (illusive) Old-Fashioned Christmas.

On this December 24th, in the year (of our Lord?) 2016, the magic lies elsewhere. It’s in the big messy¬†bed, the fog hanging outside our windows, the Salted Caramel Bailey’s swirling into the coffee mugs, the Kim Breakfast because Saturday, the spa tub filling.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, Santa will bring the Zen all over again – Black Forest ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, lovely¬†rolls, easy munchies. Vino, always. A Pentatonix Christmas, we love those sweet babies. And later, when we’re in our cups, Bad Santa. Saving Hudsucker Proxy for New Year’s, 2017 apropos.

The Real Christmas was always at my maternal grandparents’ house, where¬†one long, very long, table was set up through¬†the living and dining rooms, and pretty packages spilled far past the tree while Grandma and¬†her daughters and daughters-in-law still frantically wrapped gifts in a spare bedroom, giving the door a kick once in a while to keep nosy grandkids away. My mom was one of nine offspring,¬†who were themselves fairly prolific, so Christmas dinner could involve 40 people or more, with additional afternoon drop-ins.

The women cooked the enormous meal, the kids raised hell, and after dinner my good-looking uncles rolled up their sleeves, stored food, picked the turkey carcass clean for leftovers, and washed the dishes, no rugrats allowed in the kitchen. The uncles, former Marines, Korean War, could be intimidating when they put their foot down, and were no doubt laughing up their collective sleeves at us every year. Omigod, we were insufferable.

They’re gone, those people, and I can’t even find a photo this morning to honor the first Christmases of my heart. The pictures are here somewhere, in an album online or on a shelf, old Kodachrome color snaps – upwards of 60 or more of us crammed into one glorious photo with the tree barely showing in the back and wrapping paper still strewn. That’s how my heart remembers it.

I hope your Christmas, old-fashioned or otherwise, will be sweet. Tuck it into your heart…those memories belong to us forever.

 

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It’s a recipe day…

This sounds terrific for lunch tomorrow Рsomebody please do the work and get back to me with reviews, thanks! Screenshot 2016-04-19 at 11.35.06 AM

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Cooking Notes at this link: NYTimes

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Red Velvet Pancakes

A late Valentine’s Day brunch? ¬†This temptation¬†brought to you by¬†AllRecipes.com. ¬†You’re welcome.

(DISCLAIMER: I would have to settle for Light Pink Velvet.

Too much Red #40 for this chickie!)

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Reader suggestions: 1) Add one more tablespoon of cocoa powder and sugar to the listed recipe. Don’t skimp because it really takes the flavor up a notch which to my palate was perfect!! 2) Cook the pancakes on a lower heat setting then regularly. I found these pancakes like to burn a little faster than others. They do better at a lower heat. 3) Butter and spray oil for the pan/griddle is essential. A little melted butter followed up by a spray of oil and you will have a hint of buttery flavor and a slight browning to the red batter. 4) Let your batter remain a little on the lumpy side. It does seem to produce better pancakes. Let the bubbles form completely and the edges dry out a tad before flipping. The cream cheese drizzle works a little better with a touch of milk and a few seconds in the microwave. Enjoy!!

Potato Power

Let’s talk comfort food. ¬†First of all, this German girl has no clue what the phrase “leftover mashed potatoes”¬†even means — I suggest you simply whip up some spuds from scratch. ¬†And on a far deeper level, if potatoes, cheese, and Panko crumbs do not say “WINNING” to you, how did we become friends?

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Sustenance for a rainy day …

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Here’s a rustic dish, full of flavor, that will lead to wonderful leftovers all week. ¬†Once you try this smooth sauce you’ll want it on just about everything.

CHICKEN CHASSEUR

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1.  Pat your chicken breasts dry and season them generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour some flour into a shallow dish and dredge chicken in it so all sides are coated.
  3. In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and brown chicken on all sides.
  4. Transfer chicken to a plate, leave drippings in Dutch oven, and add remaining butter and olive oil.
  5. Sauté shallots until translucent, then add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  6. Add sliced mushrooms and rosemary to the shallots and cook until mushrooms soften. 5-7 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons flour evenly over the mushrooms and stir together. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened.
  8. Mix in dry white wine, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaf, then return chicken to Dutch oven.
  9. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through.
  10. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, and serve alone or with egg noodles or polenta.

From the Kitchens of Twelve Tomatoes

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Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Let’s do a recipe — my kind of recipe …

baked potato

Cottage Cheese-Stuffed Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large baking potatoes
1 cup (low-fat) cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Directions

Preheat oven to 425¬ļ F and place rack in the center of oven.
Use a fork to prick your potatoes in several places and place directly on oven rack. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until tender.
In a large bowl, mix together cottage cheese and sour cream until combined.
Then add in onions, cheese, dill, chives and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Remove potatoes from oven and cut in half lengthwise and across.
Spoon heaping amount of cottage cheese mixture into potato.
Optional: return to oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Spark Recipes

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Cinnamon Roll Cake!

Yes, since you’ve all been so good about not¬†making note of¬†little¬†inconsistencies in these trying times … other than¬†that original Bad Girl, Miss Snarky Pants, http://paltrymeanderings.com, who for whatever ungodly excuse has yet to tag me in a new post of her own … we’re running a Sunday Bonus. ¬†Kim made this cake yesterday before the KU/Iowa State game and its gooey buttery brown-sugary goodness gave both of us reason to go on after our team’s unfortunate loss. ¬†You in turn are guaranteed to need this recipe before March Madness ends, and I know you’re thanking me: CinnRollCake Cake: 3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

Topping:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Directions: Mix the CAKE ingredients¬†together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9×13 pan. For the TOPPING, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
enough milk to make a runny glaze, about 6 or 7 tablespoons
1 tsp. vanilla

Drizzle glaze over cake after letting it cool slightly. Top with vanilla bean ice cream and try not to weep at first bite.

{And although the luscious photo up top looks similar to¬†the Honey-Bun Cake Recipe that’s been enjoying a decent run here … not the same, not the same. ¬†Two cakes, each fabulous in its¬†own right.}

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PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP CREAM CHEESE COOKIES

chocroll

 

Yes, these exist, and they melt in the mouths of those who eat them, I have that¬†on good authority. ¬†They’re also fun to make, pretty to eat, and you can switch those two things around for entertainment. ¬†Tell me this doesn’t look like your grandma’s kitchen when she was on crack.

Ingredients:

1 can seamless crescent rolls (or pinch together seams on a regular can, or make your own.)  {WHAT??}
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¬ĺ C mixed peanut butter and chocolate chips

Directions:
Beat sugar, cream cheese and vanilla together until smooth and creamy.

Unroll the crescent roll sheet onto lightly floured surface. Stretch dough (you can use a rolling pin), then trim the edges for¬†a nice rectangular shape. A pizza cutter is great for trimming edges of dough. ¬†{I didn’t say that about the pizza cutter because what would I know?}

Spread the cream cheese mixture over top of the crescent sheet, leaving 1/2″ around the edge.
Sprinkle chips on cream cheese ‚Äď press lightly to aid in rolling.
Roll the crescent sheet up tightly, from long side to opposite long side (helps to have four hands) and wrap in your favorite brand of clingy stuff.
Place in freezer for at least 2 hours. It won’t get really solid as the cream cheese mix won’t freeze hard.
When chilled preheat oven to 350¬į.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (prevents sticking and helps in cleanup).  {Honestly, there are still phrases out there that make me want to go back to the kitchen, but so far the short-term memory thing is still kicking in on demand.}

Slice the crescent roll into 1/4″ slices. They won‚Äôt keep the precise round shape, but that is fine! ¬†{You bet it is, because your mother isn’t standing over your shoulder anymore oh hi whoever’s mom, you are so lovely in that sweatshirt is that the color this year? ¬†Jeez, who knew you could appear out of nowhere like that, somebody’s mom … or whoever?}

Look at the ghosts, living or dead, that haunt your creative-idea board, the ones that turn your Pinterest projects into panic attacks because they WILL.NOT.TURN.OUT.F*CKING.PERFECT. ¬† AND.THE.WORLD.IS.NOT.FAIR.DAMMIT. ¬†{Yes, that IS part of the original recipe, I’m frankly surprised you would ask.}

Bake on prepared cookie sheet for 12 -14 minutes until crescent roll appears golden brown.
Cool on the parchment paper or wire rack.

{I don’t know how many melty things this makes because I am not the cook. ¬†Clearly a bit of attentive¬†hands-on research would not be out of line. ¬†I’ll get back to you … but please don’t bug me about it.}

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