Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cooking Again

Had the monthly meeting of the SSA here tonight. Refreshments, for the most part, were simple: veggie tray, fruit tray, triangles of Toblerone dark chocolate, white wine and soft drinks.

Those things were all nice and were appreciated (especially the Toblerone) but I also felt that something showing a little more effort was required, so I made bite size quiches. Those were gobbled up and the recipe was requested. I don't usually use formal recipes when I cook, so here's my best guess.

Smoked Salmon Mini Quiches
Dough for one pie crust - or if you want quick and easy, one Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust.
1 small onion - diced
1 Tbs butter
Fresh ground pepper to taste
3 oz smoked salmon
3 oz shredded swiss cheese
2 extra large eggs
2/3 C milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll the pie crust out about half as thick as normal. Using a donut cutter, without the hole cutting part in the middle, cut two dozen circles. Use two one-dozen cup mini muffin pans. If the pans are not nonstick, spray with Pam. Line the cups with the pie crust circles.

Saute the diced onion in the butter until just translucent. Grind pepper over the onions and mix.

Remove any skin or icky parts from salmon then break into small pieces and shreds.

Beat the eggs with milk in a small mixing bowl.

Divide the onion, salmon and cheese evenly among the 24 lined muffin cups. Using an eighth of a cup measuring cup, fill the muffin cups to almost full with the egg mixture.

Bake at 350° for about a half hour, until tops are puffed up and mottled with brown.

(No pictures of the mini quiches, they were devoured before I had a chance to snap.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

After the Adventures

Had friends over for dinner Friday night. It was not one of those nights where everything goes smoothly. M hasn't yet gotten the hang of finding my house - the street signs around here are confusing - so it took a couple of phone calls and me standing in the driveway to guide her in.

My adventure had come about a half hour earlier.

When I was coming through the back door with the groceries, the cats were lurking behind the door. Their two-pronged charge took me by surprise and they both escaped. No biggie, I thought, set the cat door on "in only", and started cooking.

There really are times when I should pay a little more attention to what I'm doing.

I didn't check that I was getting all my dry ingredients for the cornbread right until it was time to add the liquids and I asked myself, "Is it two or three cups of cornmeal?"

Turned out it should have been one cup, but since I'd already put in two and mixed in the salt, baking powder, etc., it seemed to only way to save it would be to simply make a double batch. Except that I didn't have enough fresh milk.

No matter, I had a partially used can of evaporated milk on the top shelf of the refrigerator.

As I was taking the can from the fridge, an orange streak of lighting came flashing through the kitchen, screaming bird in mouth. She bolted between my legs and the fridge. I dropped the can of milk - upside down, of course - splattering viscous, sticky, evaporated milk everywhere.

I turned to chase Kitsu, and Sachi came running up the stairs with another bird in her mouth.

By the time I took Kitsu's bird away from her, Sachi (who is a little demon) had shredded hers all over the antique guest room floor. Kitsu's was still alive, though looking pretty shell shocked. I let Kitsu's bird go, locked the cat door, cleaned up the major bits o' birdie, washed up and returned to cooking, ignoring the feathers still drifting about. I was running late enough, I wasn't going to let a few feathers hold me back.

Turned out I needn't have worried about being behind schedule. Kate and KC, the Friday Afternoon Hiking Club, had decided to try a short cut and had a big adventure of their own. They arrived two hours late, wet, bedraggled and looking exhausted. You can read Kate's thoroughly expurgated version of it here. She left out all the really good (embarrassing) parts.

We all laughed until our sides ached and had a fine time. Good dinner too. KC brought the coleslaw and I provided the BBQ pork, pinto beans, cornbread, red wine and banana pudding.

GoodDog (who participated in some of the embarrassing parts of the Snowshoe Hike Short Cut Adventure) hid in Kate's car under two blankets and pretended that nothing had happened.

I'll bet he licked his aching paws a lot.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wash Them Beans

I'm having three friends including two fellow bloggers, Kate of High Altitude Gardening and KC of Focused On Fur, over for dinner tomorrow evening. The Engineer is in China and I've been having a tremendous yearning for corn bread, which he won't eat, so I had the brilliant idea to invite them over to help me eat some.

Of course once I started thinking cornbread, I started thinking Southern cooking... Soul Food. Sometimes I really miss the cuisine of the North Carolina. Not everything; I could do without liver mush or scrambled eggs with pork brains my whole life. I've never tried chittlins, nor do I even like to be in the vicinity when they're cooking. Same with kale and collards. Some things are just too (hmmm, what's a polite word?) pungent to imagine putting into my mouth.

Ribs. Ooh, ribs. Couldn't find any good looking ribs at either of the two grocery stores I went to, so I bought a fresh picnic. It's in the crock pot right now. Tonight I'll bone and clean it, then back into the crock pot along with the BBQ sauce tomorrow. Ah well, it will be easier and neater to eat than ribs.

Pinto beans are a staple along with corn bread. I picked up a bag at the second grocery store. Started them today, nothing worse than not quite done pintos -- they can give you a real stomach ache. I picked through the bag before I started rinsing and found a small black rock, a twig and some icky beans. Then I started rinsing and the water turned gray and grainy. Gross. There was mud stuck to many of the beans. I think I rinsed those beans in a dozen changes of water, but finally it ran clean. I didn't find anything else disgusting on the final, fine tooth comb, inspection.

Sigh, I love pintos, either cooked until tender or refried, but they are a pain to prepare. You have to be careful, lord only knows what might be in them. I once bit down on a small rock in a Mexican restaurant. They gave me my dinner free, but I'd rather have had no rock and paid in full.

But don't even suggest canned beans. If I'm eatin' beans, they ain't coming out of no can!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


When I was a kid, I used to listen to my parents and grandparents whinge and moan about inflation.

"I can't believe what a loaf of bread costs these days."

"Why, when I was young, you could have a big day at the movies on a quarter."

"We used to buy nickel hot dogs and dime hamburgers."

Yeah, right. I figured they were having senile fantasies.

Today I needed six buttons, so I went through my button stash. I
have several styles still on cards that I'd bought over the years as well as about lebenty-billion loose buttons, but none that were precisely what I wanted. No problem. A quick trip to JoAnn's and a couple bucks should solve my dilemma.


Do you know how much buttons cost?!?!? Buttons that are little pieces of plastic?
I just spent $10.29, before taxes, on buttons for two projects. That's obscene!

That's inflation.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Appreciation and Handwriting

I received the most fantastic print in the mail today. My friend Jess, the Bioephemera blogger, is a wonderful artist and she sent me a print of her latest octopus watercolor. It is gorgeous. Thank you Jess!

I'm planning a light green mat and maybe a reddish wood frame -- Reuel's Art & Frame, here I come. I will hang it in a place of honor when it's framed. The question is where? Shall I be greedy and hang it in my office where I spend so much of my waking time (leaning strongly towards this option) or put it up in one of the public areas of my home where the Engineer and any company can enjoy it too? Decisions, decisions...

So I sat down and wrote Jess a thank you note. Geeze o' pete, it's hard to believe what typing on a computer keyboard all the time has done to my handwriting.

It's not that my handwriting's ever been copperplate like my Mother's and sister's, it's always looked more like my Dad's -- which is good with me. Dad's handwriting is bold and crisp with well formed letters. The lines of writing are of uniform size and spacing, running on an even horizontal across the page. Sigh, about all I have left of that is the fairly straight horizontal line. Otherwise it's all over the place; uneven spacing and slant, letters of different sizes, typos.


How can a person make typos when writing by hand?

Raw talent, I guess.

I've even lost most of the big pen callus/pad/lump on my middle finger, though I still have a good, concave dip to stabilize the pen at the first joint.

Hmmm... A virtual return to grade school penmanship class is called for. Practice, practice, practice. Build my callus back up, regain uniformity and grace.

While I'm at it, I should get a book on world geography too. A refresher course there would not go amiss.

P.S. The cats are well on the road to recovery, though the vet still has no idea what they caught.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday's Kitteh Report

Took the girls back to the vet this morning for follow ups. Also took a lovely bag o' poo to be investigated as they hadn't produced any while incarcerated.

They've both lost weight, but both had high normal temperatures. They are eating and behaving almost normally again, but still have five days of antibiotics to go.

During normal times, Sachi is the more demonstrative cat, but in times of stress, Kitsu becomes VelcroKitty. She's the more sensitive girl. She's sitting between the keyboard and my chest as I type this, demanding kisses and hugs.

Let's hope the PooReport sheds some light on just what caused the KittyContagion.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Purple Leg Cats

Purple Leg Kitsu

Purple Leg (in your face) Sachi

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Kitteh Report

The vet we use is closed on Sunday, so the girls had the choice of going to the Emergency Animal Hospital or coming home under close supervision...


The girls are home with matching purple bandages on their legs from their IV's.

They look so much better. They are actually interacting with the world around them instead of squinting their eyes closed and hoping it will go away.

We have a week's worth of two kinds of meds each to administer and they're supposed to go back in Monday to get their temperatures checked and a general look over.

Still absolutely no idea what caused this -- worry, worry, worry.

But the main thing is that Kitsu and Sachi are home and hopefully on the mend.

They would like to say thank you (Meow, wow!") to all of you who have wished them well and healthy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sick Kitties

When I woke up this morning, Sachi was displaying the same symptoms that Kitsu has. She is now at the cat hospital too.

I want my girls healthy and home!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ain't That the Way It Always Works...

Yesterday Sachi went in to the vet for her annual physical -- tune the tail, rotate the legs, check the tuna levels. She was pronounced perfect.

Today when I woke up, it was quickly apparent that Kitsu was one sick kitty.

In to the vet she went. They don't know for sure what's wrong with her, but she was given subcutaneous fluids for dehydration, antibiotics for her fever, pain meds for her pains and antihistamines to reduce inflammation. The vet said to call if Kitsu isn't feeling substantially better by tomorrow.

Poor baby. I hope all those drugs to the trick - and quick.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Birthday Menu - With Recipes

Flowers, of course, are first, to set the mood. And a silly mushy card (or two or three.) Since the birthday was the Engineer's, the appetizer was roasted pistachios in the shell.

  • Halibut Florentine
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Fresh Asparagus
  • Bananas Foster flambéed with Wild Turkey (again, this was for the Engineer and Wild Turkey is his signature drink) over Häagen-Dazs dulce de leche ice cream
The order of preparation, so that everything gets done at the same time:
1. Prepare the Halibut Florentine and let it wait as you start the roasted root vegetables.
2. When veggies have been in 400 degree oven for about a half hour, slip the fish casserole in beside of the veggie pan. Let both cook for another half hour during which time, clean and prepare asparagus for steaming.
3. Put asparagus on just as halibut is coming out of the oven as the asparagus cooking time and casserole resting time are about the same.
4. Fix the Bananas Foster after dinner has been eaten - it only takes four or five minutes to fix (and you pay the big bucks for it in a fancy restaurant.)

Halibut Florentine
1 lb. skinless halibut
1 medium sweet onion - chopped
10 oz. fresh spinach
8 oz. Jarlsberg cheese - grated
sour cream

Melt a lump of butter in a large saute pan then add onion. Saute until transparent.
Add spinach, in batches as it wilts if necessary, and stir with onions until all spinach is wilted. Let cool somewhat.
Slice halibut into approximately 1/3 of an inch thick slices.
Spray an 8"x8" baking pan thoroughly with cooking spray.
Spread half of the spinach and onions evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Distribute half of the halibut over the spinach.
Cover evenly with half the grated cheese.
Repeat the three layers, then dab teaspoonfuls of sour cream over top of last layer.
Bake in 400 degree for about a half hour, until top begins to brown. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Roasted Root Vegetables
3 medium parsnips
3 large carrots
5 or 6 small red potatoes
1 large red onion
1 head of garlic
olive oil
fresh thyme
freshly grated pepper

Turn oven on to 400 degrees.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Place pan in the oven as it is heating.
Peel parsnips and cut into large jullian.
Put in baking dish and stir to coat with olive oil.
Then peal and cut carrots into large julienne and add to baking dish.
Cut potatoes into bite size pieces, add to baking dish.
Add pepper and thyme to taste.
Stir to mix.
Peel onion and cut into quarters, then cut the quarters into halves. Add to pan and stir.
Peel garlic. Cut large cloves in half, add garlic to pan.
If needed, add more olive oil and mix thoroughly.
Mix about every 10 to 15 minutes throughout cooking.

Bananas Foster
2 small bananas
brown sugar
Wild Turkey or other liquor

Melt a lump of butter in a saute pan that is NOT nonstick, just a plain old metal pan.
Add a teaspoon or so of brown sugar.
Peel the bananas and cut in half lengthwise, then cut in half crosswise. Add to pan and cook gently until banana starts to turn translucent.
Turn bananas over and cook until wholly translucent.
Meanwhile, put a scoop of ice cream into two dishes.
Pour about a half a jigger of liquor over bananas and light. Watch the pretty blue flames.
When flames go out, put bananas and pan liquid over ice cream.
Eat immediately.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Cats are funny critters. Whenever anything new comes into their sphere, they must claim it as their own by sitting on it. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be new...

I simply moved this chair from its usual position and forgot to replace it.