Friday, June 30, 2017

Tomato Salad

There is a local restaurant here called Hot and Hot Fish Club where every thing is delicious, but every summer when tomatoes are in their prime, the best dish hands down is the tomato salad. I bought some fantastic vine ripe tomatoes at the farmer's market Tuesday and decided to make a somewhat similar salad for our dinner tonight. I had nearly everything on hand and what I didn't have I could punt and either do without or find a reasonable substitution.

                              Variation on a Theme of Hot and Hot Tomato Salad

2 very ripe tomatoes
10 cherry tomatoes (halved)
2/3 cup cooked lady peas (chick peas, crowder peas or black eyed peas will work)
6 pickled okra pods
5 slices bacon cooked crisp (I used Neuske's applewood smoked bacon)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb blend
salt and pepper to taste (About 1/8 teaspoon each but I don't like salt)

Mix al ingredients together with a wire whisk.  Stir well before using.

Faux Basil Aioli
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Mix together and set it aside

Prepare the dressing and set it aside.
Peel the tomatoes and slice into about 1/2 inch slices, put the slices in a shallow bow,l and pour about 1/3 of the dressing over them.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes
Put 1/3 cup of the peas on the bottom of a plate. Put about a tablespoon of the dressing on the peas. Place the tomatoes on top of the peas. crumble 3 slices of the bacon and sprinkle half of  it around the peas. Put 5 cherry tomatoes on each plate and add the 3 pods of pickled okra. Place one whole slice of bacon on the top tomato slice . Drizzle the remaining dressing over everything and add a dollop of the basil mayonnaise. Have a nice glass of a cabernet, a couple of slices of toasted French bread and enjoy a fantastic summer meal. The only thing that would have made the dinner better would have been if we ate it on the porch and could hear the crickets and katydids while we ate. Oh well, next time.

The salad at the restaurant has 6 varieties of tomatoes, corn, and fried okra instead of the pickled. I had 2 varieties of tomatoes, no corn and no fresh okra, but it was still incredibly tasty.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Living Life on the Edge

I found a jar of jelly in my pantry, that was out of date and I honestly could not remember when I got it, but I didn't want to  just toss it without seeing if it was still good.  It passed the smell test, it looked perfectly fine, so I tasted a small bit.  Since it tasted perfectly fine I decided I would do something death defying and use it in a recipe I made for my older sons when they were small. (Sorry Son3, but by the time you came along life had changed a lot and you didn't get hot muffins for breakfast. You can use that in Chapter 3 when you write your memoir about your tragic childhood)

Jelly Filled Muffins
Add caption
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup jelly or jam (Your choice of flavor) I used spiced orange jelly

Preheat oven to 400 Grease or put paper muffin cups in a 12 muffin standard size muffin tin.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well to mix
Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend just to moisten everything. The batter will not be smooth.  Remove 1/3 of the batter from the bowl and put aside. Fill the muffin cups evenly with the remaining batter. Put approximately 1 teaspoon of the jelly/jam in the center of each muffin cup. Top the jelly dollop in each muffin with the remaining batter. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When they are hot if you like you can brush the tops of the muffins with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over the top. I prefer them plain because I have some tactile issues with food and sugared tops often remind me of eating sand.

These are best eaten warm straight out of the oven, but they are not shabby eaten cold. If you like milk I imagine it would be pretty good with them. I had a steaming hot mug of black coffee with mine this morning and it was pretty dang good.

And if you do not see me post for several weeks you will know that I died from eating tainted jelly, but at least know I died happy!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Taco Deconstruction

Tonight (last night, or a few nights ago depending on when I actually hit "publish") I was looking through the freezer for something quick and easy for dinner, emphasis on the quick part. I found about a half pound of browned ground beef and a bag of cooked black beans. (I cook the entire 2 pound bag of black beans at one time, then freeze it in 1 cup portions.) Then I moved to the pantry to see what else I could find. I had an onion, a can of niblet corn, some diced chili peppers, and a can of petite diced tomatoes. Put em together and what have you got___ (Imagine a Fairy Godmother here making dinner rather than a pumpkin coach)

Tada! Deconstructed Tacos

1/2 pound browned ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 cup black beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can niblet corn drained
1 small can chopped chili's drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
grated cheese
shredded lettuce
chopped tomatoes
avocado slices (I forgot I had an avocado in the fridge until after I took the picture and had begun eating)
tortilla chips, tortillas or even corn chips
sour cream

In a large pan add the browned ground beef and the chopped onion.  Cook a couple of minutes until
the onion begins to wilt. Toss in the tomatoes, the corn,  and the chili's, mix everything together. Add all the seasonings and stir well to blend. Stir in the black beans and heat until everything is hot and the mixture is almost dry. Stir often to keep it from burning.  Put the tortilla chips in the bottom of a large bowl.  Scoop the mixture on top of the chips and sprinkle grated cheese over it. Top the cheese with the shredded lettuce and tomatoes.  Add some avocado slices (It really makes it taste better) salsa and a dollop of sour cream. (I forgot the sour cream before I took the picture also)

Eat and enjoy! This would pair very well with Dos Equis Amber but I didn't have any. It was good with water, but I think the Dos Equis would have been a little better.

Son3 ate with us tonight and this was enough for 3 adults with a lunch serving leftover. Guess I know what I will be having tomorrow!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Positively Monday

Each day I try and record the best thing that happened that day, then list them all on Monday. It keeps me focused on what is good and opens me to whatever positives the next week might bring.  Like everyone, there are days when it is easier to find the good, but the exercise of compiling them daily reinforces the belief that every single day has something worthwhile and happy.

Monday: Ordered a new top with a 25 percent off coupon that was expiring Monday, because the store did not have it in my size. I opted to pick it up at the store to save shipping, and then received a coupon via email for 10 dollars off my next purchase.  Score!

Tuesday: My Beloved Sister had a birthday, so Mom and I met her for lunch.  We do this on special occasions and Mom and I go early, order and have everything ready so MBS can enjoy her meal without having to hurry. She only get an hour for lunch. If any of you have the opportunity to eat at Chicken Salad Chick give the Fancy Nancy a try.  It is really tasty.
(Added positive: I found the most horrible garish red sequined pillow for 2 bucks at Ollie'
s, so naturally I bought it, wrapped it and gave it to MBS as one of her birthday gifts.  Each birthday we give each other something really tacky or regift a previous years tacky gift. I expect this pillow to come back to me in September)

Wednesday: Pip (the granddaughter) has been telling me to watch Moana (her new favorite movie). It is on Netflix now, so I watched it and will begin making her a Moana costume next week so I can take it with me when we visit in July..

Thursday: I had the privilege of watching The Little Mermaid performed by participants of The Independence Place of Alabama. It was wonderful to see this group do such a remarkable job, and the ad-libs (lots of them, I mean, who needs lines?) were pretty incredible too.

Friday: Hmmmm, I didn't get struck by lightning (nuff said about a very difficult day!) Son2 and GF2 took dinner to Mom and ate with her. (I just could not go to her house one more time)  Oh and Girlfriend2 and I watched a psychological thriller which was good but very intense, so we watched a sitcom immediately  afterward.

Saturday: TheHub and I decided to have a nighttime shopping trip. I found lovely cheap outdoor pillows and a chair pad for the rocker on the screened deck and also bought new plants for the pots around the pool. I still need a few more. This crazy weather had done some serious damage to a lot of the plants.
I probably should also mention peanut butter pie!

Sunday: The insane weather has wrecked havoc with the pool water.  Today has been a working, trying to get the water balanced type of day. Not there yet but it's close, plus all the plants have been planted, some others that have had damage from too many high winds and water have been removed so at least it looks happier outside.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sucky Weather!

There is nothing like getting all gussied up to go to an afternoon play,  just getting on the interstate to get to said play, and hearing sirens the entire way because the entire county is under a tornado warning. It does make you turn the radio on to see exactly where they are supposed to hit. Since I was headed east and the storms were tracking north from the west, I figured I had enough of a head start to outrun them, plus they were not supposed to touch down in the area where I was headed. But it did get a little unnerving hearing them scream the whole 30 minute drive.

I made it to the play, enjoyed seeing all my Independence Place friends perform then got ready to drive home. I was barely back on the road headed for home when the blooming sirens started all over again. I turned the radio on a local talk station and  heard tornados were headed toward my neighborhood. Since there was nothing I could do about the storm and they weren't headed where I currently was, I got off the interstate at the next exit and decided to wait for it to pass before driving toward where the action was supposed to happen. 

The first thing I saw was a Sonic, so why not wait while enjoying a frozen limeade, right? I was sitting in my car, sipping my refreshment and listening to some seriously bad music Sonic piped through their speakers when a young male Sonic employer came up to my window and said "You need to go right now and take care of your tire. You probably don't have 4 pounds of air in it."

Of course! I was sitting in the rain, avoiding a possible tornado near my house and now I have a flat tire.  I pulled out of Sonic and drove about 2 blocks to a tire store. They did not have the size my car needed and called about 3 other places close to them to see if anyone else had one in stock,  Since they couldn't find one, (but did locate the nail I had picked up in the tire) they put a temporary patch on it, filled it with air and told me to go straight to my tire guy. He had everything I needed but could not get to it until the next day.  Bummer! So now I was driving about 25 miles in high winds, torrential rain, with a bandaid on a leaky tire with a nail in it.

Since no one knows what actually happened I could create some drama and tell you about the blowout on 459 in the downpour and pull a Blanch DuBois about how I always rely on the kindness of strangers. But, truth be told, the patch held, I made it home fine, met TheHub at the tire place and left my car so she will be among the first in line for service in the morning. (Aside here: How come the tire store nearest my house has 10 of those tires in stock and no one on the other side of town has even one?) Hopefully they will get to it quickly so I will have my vehicle in working order before Mom gets out of her eye appointment. It is at 8:15 and My Beloved Sister is going to take her on her way to work. The appointment always takes an hour, and since Estes opens at 7:30 I am hoping  they will have my car ready by 8:30, so I will be at her doctor's office in plenty of time.  If not Son2 is going to pick up the slack for me.

And you might not think there was an upside to this, but sinceTheHub had to meet me at the tire store (I suppose he could have left me there overnight but that would have been a different type of drama, perhaps with murderous intent) and he was a tad earlier than he usually comes home, we decided to go to a local meat and three for a vegetable dinner. Fried green tomatoes, collards, creamed corn and cornbread__yum! It was still pretty early when we finished eating so we went exploring and wound up at a local brewhouse. If you ever find yourself at Redhills Brewery try the grapefruit brew. It was fantastic!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wet Wednesday!

We have been having a ton of rain lately. Dreary weather does not affect me greatly, but today is officially the first day of summer and I was kind of, sort of hoping for bright sunshine.  No dice, so instead I am looking at gray skies and big fat raindrops. The upside is it's just rain and with no lightning and thunder.  I guess this means no yard work either and I do have some outdoor chores I needed to do.(Notice the muscadines overtaking the fence) I guess I will just have to stay inside and read. Now that I type that it doesn't sound like a bad option for the day does it?

On a side note, since the day is cooler and dreary I am making coconut soup for a light dinner.

Cheaters Coconut Soup (Special thanks to my friend Louay for teaching me this trick)

1 cup of cooked rice divided into 4 bowls
1 carton chicken broth
1 pinch (or 2)
of ground ginger
dehydrated mushrooms (if you don't have them use about 5 fresh mushrooms sliced)
dried lemon grass
dried lime leaves (or fresh lime juice from one lime if you don't have lime leaves)
5 green onions (White part separated from the greens, both sliced thinly)
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
1 can coconut milk
1 cup cooked chicken (cubes or shreds)
1 lime quartered for garnish

Heat the chicken broth, add the ginger then toss in the dehydrated mushrooms, lemon grass, lime leaves and the sliced white bulbs of the green onions. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the onions are tender. Reduce to simmer then remove the lime leaves and lemon grass.  Stir in the chili oil and the coconut milk and mix well. Add the chicken and heat.  Serve in bowls on top of cooked rice. Garnish with the sliced green onion stems and a quarter of the lime. This make a great rainy night meal!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Positively Monday

As an ongoing method of keeping my attitude in check I record something positive that happened each day. Like everyone in the world some days are easier to find things to be happy about than others, but every single day has at least one good thing in it.  Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper than others to find it. 

Monday: Got Son3 on his flight back to his home. We had a good visit with him and when it was time for him to go home it was time for him to leave. It was a perfectly timed visit with enough days to enjoy him but short enough that none of us got on anyone else's last nerve. As a special bonus, for the first time in his life he left the room pretty much as he found it, and even brought all the linens down and stuck them in the washer before leaving. And I got my car back, so I could go wherever I wanted and didn't have to share.

Tuesday: I had a gathering the fragments day at home.  I took the laundered sheets and towels from Son3's visit back upstairs put the room together, ready for the next visit. Also the Bach Chorale book I ordered arrived. Now i just need to play them daily.

Wednesday: Took Mom to the neurologist. Her Parkinson's is not progressing much at all and we are very thankful for that. Her cognitive function is down a wee bit but she is too tiny to take the medicine to help retard her memory loss. (Clinical trials have found it inhibits appetite resulting in weight loss) So now we begin the process of trying to chunk her up a little.  We are starting with a daily milkshake and trying to get her to add some additional carbs.  Mac and cheese anyone?

Thursday: TheHub is out of town and I had visions of binge watching OITNB but I already binged watched/listened to it. Instead I got to meet the bug man at the lake. I always get to do the fun stuff like that, but the lake was truly beautiful. On the way home I stopped at 2 stores having sales and bought me a few new duds.

Friday: Son2 and Girlfriend2 took Mom out for dinner. This was a fantastic gift to me!

Saturday: This sounds like a weird thing to consider as a positive, but I got the MBR shower scrubbed sparkly clean.  I had neglected it for a little bit and we have very hard water here. Hard water plus soap equals a mess.  Now there is no mess and I WILL resume my usual maintenance.

Sunday: TheHub got home from his trip in the late afternoon just in time for a hamburger cookout and a Father's Day celebration. Mom, Son2, and Girlfriend2 joined us for dinner and we also had a little FaceTime visit with Pip, Son1 and Mama K.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


                      Thinking of Dad today. I miss talking to him and especially miss his laugh.

This picture was taken before he and Mom married, and I never knew him with hair so bald was always a norm for me. When Son2 was about 2 years old he said "Hey Pop, Youse Bolss Headed, Why?" And Dad told him the same story he always told My beloved Sister and Me.
" There are people like me who have to be bald headed. I am so cute I can barely keep the women away from me as it is. Imagine how hard it would be if I had hair. So I have to be bald for your Mother's (or Nan's if he were talking to my sons) sake."
He had a wicked sense of humor, loved life and loved just about everyone in it.  He always said if he had known earlier what it was like to live in a family of women, he would have been forward thinking and invested heavily in Kimberly Clark, Maybelline, and Hersheys, the three essentials of female life.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

All in Favor Say Aye

I have reached that certain wonderful age where wearing shorts in public just doesn't work for me.  I never really wore them many places but I would run early morning errands while wearing them. I do own a lot of capris and I am fine wearing them around and about, but those can get pretty warm, especially on a day like today when it is in the mid nineties with 80 percent humidity and not a cloud in the sky. I had a list of errands to run, which was going to mean hopping in and out of the car about a gozillion times with each stop just long enough for the car to become an oven by the time each errand was done.
What to do, what to do? I was digging through the closet and found 2 lightweight denim dresses.  They are thick enough that you can't see through them in direct sunlight, but light enough to be cool.  Both have waists slightly above the natural waist and have free flowing skirts so air can move around all the places that are usually air restricted.

I wore one today. It has a scooped neck with spaghetti straps, so I did throw a shrug on , but I was relatively cool all day. With a dressier pair of leather flip flops and a straw hat (to cover the low ponytailed bun) it looked almost like a deliberate ensemble.  I actually had one lady stop me and ask where I got the dress (10 bucks at Dollar General about 4 years ago)

I think women years ago were on to a good thing and somehow or another we decided to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. They knew what they were doing when they wore a house dress (Which by definition was not a muumuu, as I always thought, but a cotton dress that was not as dressy as work outfits.) I am going to start wearing these around the house (except for crappy chore days) because they are unfitted enough that I can get by wearing a sports bra, and fitted enough that with a pair of flip flops and a hat I will look decent enough to do my daily running arounds.

Bring on summer! I am ready now!  Who's in?

The dress I wore is actually very similar (hence the need for a shrug)  to this but is longer (lower knee) and the body it fits on looks nothing like this one!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Positively Monday

Son3 was still in town for a visit so I tried very hard to have my car available for him. It was a good week but I was at home so much waiting for whenever my car would return to run my errands that I lost track of time. I must be one of those people who mark time in my memory based of where I was and what I did, because every day this past week has run together. Since I forgot to record the best thing that happened each day and because I have no specific things to jog my memoryI have nothing this week. It was a great week though. We spent a lot of time talking, a lot of time laughing, a lot of time eating out, and a lot of time playing music. (both recorded music and our personal live music) Son3 brought a book of Bach Chorales with him so he could learn them. They are such beautiful small pieces, I enjoyed playing  them so much I ordered the same book to have here.

And did I mention some serious binge watching of Orange is the New Black? (Yep, the entire season in 2 days) See how smart I am? Now I have an entire year to wonder what happens next. I love it when I do brilliant things like that.

Son3 is leaving this afternoon and I know I will miss him very much, but will be glad to have total control of my car so I can go wherever I want whenever I want. I won't have a ton of time to miss him since he is coming back with Girlfriend3 in August for a couple of weeks. When that happens we are going to introduce her to the Gulf Coast, the lake place and Southern cuisine. (Specifically grits, BBQ, boiled peanuts, and fried okra)   

This is going to be another weird week since my normal is turning upside down again, but I promise I will try and jot down the best things that happen!  Hope y'all all have a wonderful week also.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Orange Is The New Black and Prison Food

I have no idea how many of you watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix, but I am hooked on it and have been waiting and waiting for the new season. Well, the wait is almost over and tomorrow all 13 episodes will be up and ready for some intensive binge watching. TheHub is going on a business/pleasure trip to NYC Wednesday which should give me several empty evenings to curl up with Crazy Eyes, Piper, Alex, Tayste, and the rest of the gang.

Son1 texted me yesterday with an idea.  He knows I love to cook and I certainly do love a theme dinner so he suggested I come up with a theme meal for the beginning of the new season of Game of Thrones.  I thought it  was a great idea and then I remembered OITNB airs first, so why not start with it and see if it is something I want to continue?

I started researching prison food (because yes, I am nerdy like that), which seems to be pretty much just slop that the kitchen can create on a one dollar per meal, per prisoner budget. I really don't want to begin with that kind of meal, but while I was researching it, I found several "recipes" for meals the inmates from various institutions create from items sold in the prison commissary. That sounded like a little more fun to me. (Probably no more appetizing but at least more fun).

I did have to run to the grocery store because I have very few things that are sold in the canteen in my personal food stash.  I will also be perfectly honest and admit I used my appliances rather than dropping a rigged 'hot' power cord in a paper cup of water to make it boil. (If you are so inclined to play with water and electricity you can find directions here) I also did not crush anything by stomping on it while wearing my flip flops, and had to guess the sizes of some of the items because I have never been in or bought anything from a prison commissary.  I am assuming most items are sold in smaller packages since there is no refrigeration in the dorms and little storage area for personal items. I have no idea if inmates have some method of securing their purchased items or not. I am just  guessing but I think  theft might be an issue if there was not.

I learned that for the most part the people who are able to purchase items from the commissary need an outside source of money to fund their accounts since most prisoners earn just a few dollars a week, and canteen items carry a luxury price tag.  The items they buy are not only for their personal use but can be used for trade. I guess prison is like outside life and everything has a price, but there currency is not king.  Everyday useful items reign supreme.

From the things I researched it seems breakfast is the most acceptable cafeteria meal, because it includes 2 pieces of bread and a packet of jelly or syrup along with oatmeal, grits or some similar cereal option.  It might not be the best meal but it seems far from the worst. Additionally any unused packaged option like creamer, or jelly is taken back to the cellblock and some of the inmates carry their bread slices back in their shirt pocket.

The first of my trial foods is what is known as a Cadillac. I have no idea why it is named that because I would call it a mocha. Evidently instant coffee is an important/must have item, first because it is coffee and coffee is essential for some of us, but it is also a tradable item( Second only to cigarettes). I used one spoonful of instant coffee, 1 pack of instant hot chocolate and stirred in a cup of hot water. This is one treat that could be made using hot tap water, since neither requires boiling water.  I found it to be so/so.  It was neither bad nor good and would have had a richer flavor if I had saved (as recommended) the packet of coffee creamer from my breakfast tray. I think instant coffee is pretty unpalatable by itself and this definitely made it drinkable, and after enough time it might even become an enjoyable beverage. Dunno, but I don't want to spend any time in the big house just to find out. I will give this a solid B

My lunch today was Pig Soup.  I do at least understand the name this time, because it is based on pork ramen noodles.
1 pack pork ramen noodles
seasoning pack from the ramen
3 cups water
1 pack dehydrated vegetables (I had to punt here since I have no idea what veggies or how large the packs are. They only cost a dollar so I assume they are very small. I used one envelope of Lipton vegetable soup and dip mix. I poured it into a sifter and was left
chopped summer sausage
fried pork skins

Put the water in a boiler and bring to a boil. stir in the ramen seasonings then add the noodles and dehydrated vegetables.  Cook until the veggies have rehydrated and the noodles are very soft.  Add the chopped summer sausage and continue cooking until it is warm. Right before serving toss in some crumbled fried pork skins. The pork skins do become soggy rather quickly but taste kind of like bacon would if it were cooked in the soup.  This was not bad, in fact Son3 has been my in house guinea pig today and he liked it perfectly fine also. It is a little salty for my taste but I am not a big salt fan, and to be honest if it had some fresh vegetables cooked in it, it would be a delicious soup. As is I will give this an A- but with some additional veggies I would upgrade it to a solid A.

Our third dish for the day was going to be our dinner meal.  Was is the operative word here. I made the Pad Thai, mainly because we love Thai food, but after one taste each we changed the name to Bad Thai. It was so salty it was not edible for either of us.

1 package oriental ramen noodles
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste

Cook the ramen according to the package directions and drain well.  Stir in the peanut butter and soy sauce.  Combine well, then add hot sauce and stir again. This had none of the delicious Thai flavor I love and instead was a heavy, salty dish. The peanut butter flavor was overpowering. Possibly if I had used crunchy instead of smooth it would have been a little nicer taste and texture.  I think having the salty ramen , salty peanut butter, and the additional salty soy sauce was salt overload. Maybe if I had used tamari rather than soy sauce it might have made a difference. Maybe not, and I am not going to spend any time or effort trying to improve on it. So after one bite each this went down the garbage disposal, Son3 ran to Chick Fil A,  and I grabbed some leftover chicken salad from the fridge.

On reflecting Son3 did mention that even though we found this terrible, someone facing eating unseasoned poor quality food might find this a delicious alternative, so I am changing my prior grade of F to a C-

That brings us to our last dish. This is supposed to be a cake that is made when someone's time is up to celebrate his/her release. It is not a cake at all, but it does look somewhat like one and would be something festive to have for a special occasion if you had limitations with what you could do.

1 package Oreo type cookies
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
few drops of water if needed
1 individual serving size pack of peanut m&m's

Separate each cookie. Crush the tops of each cookie into very fine crumbs. This must take an inmate a long time because it took me forever and I was using a mortar and pestle. When you have very fine crumbs, stir in the mayonnaise. (Don't be grossed out by the mayo. It turns out that mayo is the oil for prison cooking and you don't taste it, I promise.) Mix well than press the mixture firmly into the bottom of a bowl making a cookie crust,
Scrape the filling from each cookie bottom into a bowl. Stir all the white stuff to make a smooth paste then add the peanut butter.  Set aside.
Crush the remaining now plain cookies into fine crumbs. Add the filling/peanut butter mix to the crumbs and mix very well. Spread it on top of the crumb crust. Crush the peanut m&m's and sprinkle them evenly over the "cake'.

The taste of this was quite good.  It tasted kind of like a Reese cup with cookie crumbs in it. My only issue was that the bottom layer fell completely apart. My advice to anyone in prison would be to add all the crumbs to the peanut butter mixture and just call it a mousse rather than a cake. I was not a fan visually of the crushed m&m's. I had rather have plain m&m's on top of it and forego the additional peanut flavor. It is strictly my esthetic though.  The crushed ones still tasted pretty good. The picture to the right is a cross view of how it looks once cut, though cut is a misnomer. You actually have to spoon it out, but it is ok and still tasty even if it is messy. I will give it a B.

 And now I am gong to share a few thoughts about what I learned today. Many states contract out their prisoner food and the average daily budget is 3.71 per person. Rather than prepare low sodium meals for those with medical needs, the food is largely unseasoned and bland so no changes are needed except for the occasional uber restricted diet.. People observing a Kosher or Halal diet have must fresher , much better tasting, and higher quality foods so a lot of non-religious prisoners pull the religion card to try and get them.  Evidently here is an intense vetting process for approval, because those special religion based meals cost much more then the 3.71 daily average.

Besides the cost of the meals there is a more insidious reason for keeping the food quality poor. Many inmates refuse to eat the really bad meals and prefer to cook their own foods from items purchased at the commissary. The money generated from the commissary goes back into the prison budget, and is supposedly used to pad money for whatever is necessary for that particular institution.  But now that so many are privatized does the money go to the prison or to the profit column? I have no idea but it is a question to ponder. I am paraphrasing a quote I read from a prison guard. When the food is not good the prisoner will not eat which creates a lot of hungry people in less than ideal conditions. When people are hungry they get angry and angry people in a confined space are  powder kegs ready to ignite and is not safe for the inmates or the staff.

I have no solutions, but I do have a lot of respect for those ingenious enough to figure out how to survive.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Positively Monday

Each week I look for the best thing that happened each day and try to document it. Even crazy difficult days have something wonderful in them and I try to find the good. (And sometimes I have to sit and think very hard to find that ray of light__see Thursday.) I find if I feel accountable here, I am better about looking for it, writing it down and remembering it.

Monday: Had a Memorial Day BBQ with Son3, TheHub and me, Mom, Son2 and Girlfriend2. Best part of it? We were on our way home from the lake Sunday and found  a guy smoking butts, so we bought an already cooked butt and ribs.  It left me with virtually no cooking!

Tuesday: Caught up on all laundry, and got to spend some nice time with Son3 just talking.  Also had a nice Facetime visit with Girlfriend3, who is in Sweden for the summer.

Wednesday: Minor shopping trip for a few veggies, which I planned on having for dinner, but Son3 was craving steamed buns and sesame chicken from a local Chinese place. Take-out won!

Thursday: Even though a huge tree branch cracked at Mom's house and it was on her roof there was no damage and we were able to get someone out and have it removed within hours of it falling. Also since I was at Mom's for 5 hours (She works herself into a frenzy when anything goes wrong, and can't seem to function) I didn't have time to cook so I stopped on the way home and picked up a Bojangles family pack.

Friday: Enjoyed an evening into late night listening to Duke Ellington with Son3 on the screened porch at the lake place. Because of his studies, Son3 had different and interesting background info on the compositions. It was somewhat like a history lesson while listening.

Saturday: Son2 and Girlfriend2 drove to the lake place late Friday night/butt early Saturday morning after seeing Paul Simon in Atlanta.  Even though it was not a full house (Son1's family was not there) it was full enough and we enjoyed everyone being there.

Sunday: Driving home from the lake I got to Facetime with my all time favorite 3 year old. There is something wonderful about having a face to face conversation about princesses and ponies, and having someone sing, "Rain, rain go away, Come again another day, Little Annie wants to play, Rain rain go away", because it was raining while we were driving and she wanted it to be sunny for us.

Have a great week and I hope everyone is just a tad kinder than normal. The world needs kindness right now.