Saturday, May 30, 2020


I used to think I was just being a slob, or lazy, or distracted by something shiny, but now I find I have science on my side.

I can't fight scientific laws!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Weird But Delicious

I was having a mopey day the other day and needed something comforting. Alas I had begun my keto journey again and was not about to dive off the deep end on day one, so my usual comfort food, chocolate, was off the table. Instead I started looking through several recipes to try and find one that would be tasty, filling and comforting. Believe it or not, this was perfect and TheHub, who is is not keto, loved it too.

Buffalo Chicken Casserole
2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I had them cooked and frozen)
1/2 large cauliflower, cut into flowerets and steamed.
1/3 cup chopped celery
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Franks hot sauce (more as needed to taste. I used about 3 1/2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons ranch dressing
1 egg
4 ounces sharp cheddar, grated and divided in half

In a bowl mix the chicken, cauliflower and celery and set aside. Blend the cream cheese and hot sauce until it is well blended, or leave it kinda lumpy. It works! Add the ranch and stir to mix then dump in the egg. Stir well, toss in the chicken and veggies and stir to coat. add  1/2 of the cheese and stir it in the chicken mix. Pour into an 8x8 baking pan, top with the remaining cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until it is hot and bubbly. I served this with a very simple salad and some keto toast. theHub had the same except he had read bread which looked, smelled and I am sure tasted much better.

This was surprisingly delicious and made  enough for 2 large dinner meals, plus 3 lunch meals. If you want something comforting yet veggie heavy this could be your new go-to. I know we are going to be doing this often.

p.s. The cauliflower taste is lost in the sauce and cheese.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Joys of Week 21, 2020

As I have done since the first week of 2020 I am keeping a list of things everyday that bring me joy. My aim is to reread this list on New Years Eve to see how rich my life has been. The joys of life are so subjective, and due to circumstances beyond my control the joys have been relatively small joys lately. Alabama has begun opening back up (What do I mean ? It has not just begun. The idiots in my state are out roaming around everywhere like nothing has ever happened. Meanwhile infection rates are rising.) but I am not ready to join the hoards who think it is a great idea to go shopping or eat in restaurants, or go to the beach, or use public pools. By default, the joys I find are things I read, see, smell, taste, touch or hear in my mostly isolated world.

Wednesday I had a lovely phone call from a friend who had just heard about Mom's passing. Additionally I received a card from one of my blog friends who lives in Australia. It was such a surprise that deeply touched me. I have been overwhelmed by so many different people who took the time to think of me in such lovely ways.

Thursday: Stopped by Mom's house to check the mail and put the garbage can on the curb. One of her neighbors came up for a visit and also brought a bottle of wine for both my sister and me. What kindness! I always love just visiting with Cathy. I know Mom loved having her as a neighbor and friend. I like having her as a friend also.  I left the wine on Mom's kitchen table and will let my sister choose whichever one she wants the next time we are there together. I like wine but have a very uneducated wine palate.

Friday: After hemorrhaging money and spending the day with the plumbers when the hot water heater crapped out I was sitting home doing nothing, because nothing is now the way to stay safe. Out of the blue I received a phone call from none other than Sluggy!  What an unexpected and deeply appreciated joy!

Saturday:  I got the porch and deck at the lake de- pollened. The entire screened porch was yellow, as was every single item on it. So I washed all the pillows and cushions, then got busy with a hose. scrub brush and rags for cleaning every inch of the the place.  While I did that TheHub worked in the yard trying to tame a years worth of neglect. We were both pooped afterward, ate a quick dinner then watched a couple of episodes of Waco. As soon as the show was over a storm began and I got to watch a gorgeous lightening show over the water. I love the way storms at the lake or beach reflect in the water.

Sunday: We are not as young as we once were and it takes us longer to recover from a hard workday. We both hung out on the porch, read and napped. Falling asleep looking at the lake is pretty darn nice! Reading a book by Christopher Moore (Shakespeare for Squirrels)  also makes me happy. No, it's not literature, but it is a dang fun read.  Plus it makes me pull out my Complete Works of Shakespeare and re-read A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Monday: Since it was Memorial Day, TheHub had the day off and made plans for the day that included lots of yard work to get the backyard ready for the summer. The joy? Well it's done and anything else we do will just be window dressing. I still need to plant a few begonias and some lobelia in the shady part of the yard, and buy some outdoor pillows for the upper patio, and make a solar chandelier to hang from the redbud tree, and plant another zinnia bed above the upper patio wall, and, and, and!

Tuesday: My Beloved Sister and I worked sorting some things at Mom's house. We found some true vintage table cloths that we barely remember. Neither of us had seen them since my parents built this current house (in 1968) and a couple of them we only remember from the house we moved from when I was 5. Anyway these were folded and stuffed in a closet for over 50 years. We got them out and I listed them on a FB site. 2 are sold with 4 more still listed. The joy is just getting rid of something and the fact that it is going to someone who really wants it would please Mom.
And I almost forgot to mention the delicious Hot and Hot Fish Club's tomato salad and okra box. They are reopening June 2, so I am pretty sure take out will no longer be an option. As much as I love it, I will not be going into the restaurant for quite a while. (I have yet figured out how to eat a meal in public while wearing a mask)

I hope you all have a week filled with joys, big and/or small!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

When life gives you strawberries

I received a boatload of strawberries from friends when Mom died. All of the local U-pick farms were offering strawberry picking at a time when the state was under a stay at home/ safe social distancing order and everyone who was looking for something to do with their kids went berry picking. Since I was the beneficiary of their kindness and largess I thought I might make something delicious to give back to them for the fruits of their labor.
I am one of those people who bake when stressed. I think it is because when I bake I am on auto pilot. I really don't have to think about anything, and just move through the motions of cooking with no thought of anything else.
Since I had a strawberry cake mix (lake house food salvage) I decided I would use it as the base for the cake but I wanted to incorporate the real berries in the mix.  Since I was going to share these with the 2 families who brought me the berries, cupcakes seemed to be an easier way to split them.

1 box strawberry cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter (takes about 1 cup solid butter)
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups strawberries, pureed then reduced to 1/2 cup
1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries
3 or 4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Puree the strawberries in a blender, then cook on a slow heat to reduce to 1/2 cup. Take out a tablespoon of the puree to use in the icing and add the rest to the mix. Next add the buttermilk and butter and mix until it is slightly blended than add the eggs one at a time until everything is blended and the batter is smooth.. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and scoop the batter filling just past halfway full. Bake until done (23 minutes in my oven), cool and then frost.

I made a traditional buttercream icing but I added the remaining pureed strawberries and 1/4 teaspoon strawberry extract to it.  I did not taste them since I made them as a thank you treat, but  the aroma was sublime. Both  families said they were delicious.

If you go berry picking and want something easy to make with a few of them, give this a try. I don't think you will be disappointed,

Monday, May 25, 2020

What we ate for din din

Well I successfully managed to cook little and even when I did it was nothing like I had planned. So, sue me for spreading false information. We did takeout A LOT this week. I had a surprise call from Sluggy on Friday and I told her we had eaten out 4 of 5 nights which was not true. I forgot about Thursday night. I knew I did not cook but forgot that I was feeling a little out of sorts from having a little minor surgical procedure that morning and TheHub heated a can of soup for me. I guess in my mind as long as I am not making it, it's the same thing as takeout.

This is what I had thought might be our meal possibilities for the week.

1. Take out (spending the night at the lake to meet a repair man in the morning)
2. Stuffed bell peppers, coleslaw, squash
3. Frittata, tossed salad
4. Baked chicken, mushrooms, green beans, rice
5. Pasta with pesto sauce, tossed salad with artichoke hearts
6. Grilled scallops, asparagus, tomato slices, rolls
7. Chef's salad, French bread

 Monday:  I knew I was going to spend the night out at the lake. Since TheHub joined me going straight from his office, he would be passing though more populated areas on his way to the lake than I would, it just made sense that he would be the one to grab our take out meal.
Gyro or Chicken plate from a new Mediterranean place in Columbiana.

Tuesday: My sister and I worked down at Mom's to begin the process of organizing things to get ready to trash, donate or sell. Mom had over 65 years of accumulated stuff, and it is going to take us close to forever to get it all sorted and out of the house so we can make a decision about what to do  about selling the house. TheHub and I got back to our house at about the same time and decided to call in an order to pick up for our dinner.
Hot and Hot fish Club tomato salad, box of okra with lemon herb aioli

Wednesday: I actually broke down and went shopping.  I had to have more note 1cards so I could finish writing my thank you notes, and I also needed to replace some cookies I had gorged on  eaten.  Before I went to Aldi, I did a quick inventory and found the bell peppers I had in the fridge needed to be used that day. It pretty much sealed the deal about dinner plans. Shopping was mostly uneventful until I stopped by Andy's market for fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and lady peas. It turns out they sell a dozen unbaked frozen cookies from Cookie Fix (A local cookie shop with the 2nd most delicious cookies I have ever eaten. Levain on the Upper West Side in NYC is still the best.)  Score!
 Stuffed bell peppers, coleslaw, roll

Thursday:I had to have a little minor procedure done and was not really feeling like eating or cooking, but needed something on my stomach to take some meds. It was an every man for himself kind of night. 
Tomato soup and crackers or peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Friday: Just when I was starting to feel somewhat at ease with life, the water heater decided to crap out and flood the basement, and the fat squirrel sat in the apple tree feasting on what would have been nice red apples in the fall. Over the past 5 years I have gotten exactly 2 apples from this tree. Totally my fault for planting the tree near the fence (otherwise known as the squirrel super highway) There are muscadines growing wild behind the fence and no one would care if her ate all of them, but this guy obviously prefers apples. My only hope is that GrayGreg, the neighbor's cat, gets tired of hunting chipmunks and goes on to bigger prey, or I just accept the fact that I planted squirrel food.
I have no idea what that has to do with what we ate though. Maybe I was hoping for some corporate sympathy for the angst I feel over the squirrel eating my apples as justification for doing takeout instead of cooking. Or maybe I was just watching the squirrel feast as I typed this and shared a verbal picture of his gluttonous self with all of you. No matter! It really had nothing to do with the decision for takeout. Ziti just sounded good to both of us, plus their salad dressing is outstanding!
Costa's Mediterranean ziti meal for 2 (which is really enough food for 3 meals for the two of us)

Saturday:  We went to the lake place to do chores. The best thing about having a second home it that you get to do double the yard work and maintenance. Something always need to be repaired, replaced, or renewed. It is a never ending journey of delight. (Smart people go on vacations and rent hotels or condos leaving the work and repairs to someone else)
At the end of the chore day we had a simple dinner.
Ham steak, broccoli, tossed salad

Sunday: After working on Saturday we had a very restful day. We both read and napped and napped and read. We did not leave the lake until about 5;30 or so and neither of us wanted much for dinner.  It was pretty easy to pull something out of the freezer and call it most of a meal.
Pulled pork with bbq sauce on buns, coleslaw

And what might the possibilities for this week be? Who knows but after Tuesday* night it is back on the keto wagon for me. It is now bathing suit weather, the pool is ready, I love to swim laps (so exercise is not an issue) and I have very few really tasty things left in the pantry.  Maybe for a couple of weeks I should use instacart so I don't have to walk down the Aldi cookie aisle.

1. Steak, tossed salad, rolls
2. Hot and Hot Fish Club's tomato salad and okra bowl (take out)
3. Leftover ziti, tossed salad
4. Huge chopped salad, or Chef's salad, rolls or keto rolls 
5. Grilled scallops, caulimash or real mashed potatoes, tossed salad
6. Greek chicken salad over rice or caulirice
7. Grilled burger, tater tots (or none) coleslaw.

*You might be wondering why I am waiting until Wednesday to begin keto. It is a very simple explanation. Hot and Hot is never open on Mondays and the salad is so delicious (not keto) that I want it at least one more time. After that I will have to make me a ketofied version of it, which will be good, but not the same thing. And that is what we call a first world problem isn't it!
Have a great week! Make a plan, or not! Stick with said plan, or not! It doesn't really matter since it is just food.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Joys for the 20th Week of 2020

As has been my habit this year, I am continuing to look for the joy I find each and every day. .Last week was a difficult week to muddle through but people reaching out with phone calls, cards, and  your comments  and condolences via this blog made a hard week bearable.  I am grateful beyond measure.
I hope when I reread this post at the end of the year, I will be blessed again to remember life can be just like weather and you find the most  beautiful rainbows after the storms. This week I have found rainbows all around me

Wednesday: A friend who lost her husband right before the Covid stuff hit called to see if we were home. She brought me a lovely hanging plant and a basket of strawberries. How she could do that in the midst of her personal grief overwhelms me. I am fortunate to have some truly lovely friends.

Thursday: We were finally able to have a service for Mom. It was strange, weird and wonderful at the same time.  The morning started with a phone call form a friend who brought me a bag of strawberries and left them on my porch. She had brought some the day before which I thanked her for and told her we would be having strawberry short cake for dessert after the series. It seems she wanted to make sure we had enough.  Additionally another neighbor had dropped off a basket of them on Tuesday. I think now that strawberries have replaced a casserole as funeral foods. (Plus all the you pick strawberry fields here are now open)
Our church is still observing very limited numbers and funerals are restricted to 10 including the minister. There were 8 of us at the service with my distant sons attending with their families via zoom. So everyone was a part of the service  either relaying stores and memories or Son3 playing Mom and Dad's song. (Trombone solo of the song Sophisticated Lady)
Then as we were leaving the columbarium my dear friend was sitting on a bench outside the church. She said even though she could not be there in person she wanted to be there for me. I am blessed beyond belief.
Afterward we all went to Mom's house for a lunch and conversation. Mom's only surviving sibling, my 94 year old Uncle Bob, was there and told us wonderful tales of their early lives. Plus Mom bought the lunch. I was her personal banker but she was afraid to have cash at her house so I kept it in my wallet and just gave her whatever she needed. After her death I found nearly 200 dollars of hers in the Mom's Money zipper compartment..
I almost feel guilty for finding so much joy on this day.

Friday: My sister and I decided to have a luncheon for Mom's sitters. They had all wanted to come to the funeral but could not because of the numbers, so we had lunch and conversations as a strange closure for them. It was wonderful and they talked about Mom and shared some of the funny stories she had shared with them. They stayed about an hour and a half longer than I thought they would, so I guess they were enjoying themselves.
When I got back to my house DIL2 was pulling in my driveway. She works as a visiting occupational therapist and runs by between home visits on occasion. I did not see her at all until just recently now that they are screening all patients for Covid before therapy begins, and the patients are required to self isolate if they want to continue getting visits.
The third joy of the day was getting to see  DIL3's commencement address. Like other schools, hers is having a video ceremony right now and she was voted by the other students as the representative they wanted to speak.

Saturday: TheHub and I woke and had coffee on the screened porch while listening to the birds. Afterward we headed to the lake to do a few chores. Though everything we touched turned to crap, the weather was gorgeous and the lake was beautiful. After a lovely ride home we stopped and grabbed a few things we needed for the weekend (cinnamon rolls for Sunday morning), ate a delicious dinner, then watched 2 episodes of Jack Ryan. It was a good day.

Sunday: We began the day with online church services, followed by our Webex Sunday school class. The upside of it is watching church in my pajamas, then doing my hair (brushing it) and putting on a dab of makeup and a decent blouse for the Sunday school class (No one but TheHub and me know I was also wearing shorts and flip-flops)
I worked in the backyard for a while, cleaned up a tad then met the neighbors for a socially distanced drink and chat.

Monday: I was going to have to be at the lake place on Tuesday morning before 8 so I decided I would just go down and spend the night. (Much easier than getting up early and driving down) TheHub met me there after work and had stopped by a Mediterranean restaurant for a take out dinner.  We ate and watched the sunset, then read until bedtime. (We had already declared it would be a chore free night)

Tuesday:  I woke at 5 a.m. and decided to go ahead and get up for the day. I had coffee while looking out at the lake. The sky was still gray and the lake was like a mirror. In the early morning the dam is not pulling water and there was no wind. Looking at the trees reflection in the silver colored water was incredibly beautiful. After my first cup of coffee was gone I got another and sat on a stool by the kitchen window to watch the magic. Right before sunrise the entire lake turns apricot, the slowly changes into a bright gold. I am not a morning person by nature and I think those of us who see few sunrises are in serious awe when we experience them. I make it a point to experience them at the lake since the whole process from silver water to gold happens in about 15 minutes. (Though most times I do go back to sleep)

I hope you all have joyful moments during the week, and I hope that you notice the spectacular moments that happened every single day during times of ordinary life. And now I am starting week 21 and looking for the little joys in life. Peace! 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Back to meal planning

Since I had no meals planned for this week, there was nothing I was aiming for. This is what we wound up eating for the week.

Monday: I found a frozen package of spaghetti sauce, cooked  some  spaghetti noodles while it defrosted in the microwave, made a quick tossed salad and called the meal done.
Spaghetti and tossed salad

Tuesday: During the morning I was on the computer looking at the restaurant re-openings, and hoping we are not rushing into this too soon. As I was looking at a partial list I decided to see if two of my favorite places were going to seat limited seatings or remain closed. Highland's Bar and Grill (my absolute favorite) is not reopening yet, but when I checked out Hot and Hot Fish Club I noticed they are not having seating, but they are offering very limited options for take out,  I only had to mention it to TheHub called it in while I finished working at Mom's, then we were on our way to get it.  If they are still offering takeout next week we will do it again. Yes, it is that good! (Link to my homemade version of the salad. It is really good but not nearly  as good as theirs.)
I probably should add we also stopped by Bruster's and grabbed a quart of Graham Central Station ice cream too.
Hot and Hot Fish Club's famous tomato salad, Bruster's ice cream

Wednesday; We had to run to Home Depot to pick up some salt for the pool. I love that they are still doing curbside pickup for those of us who are continuing social distancing even though our governor has declared things are just fine. So open up and go get your nails done and a couple of new tattoos. Just put your money back into the economy so if the infection rates skyrocket, everyone will have sassy hair and new ink.
After we sat for about 45 minutes waiting for an order I placed at 10 a.m. we decided to run grab some take out from a nearby restaurant. (Yeah, I am not going inside one of those either)
Racer sandwich with a side of tabbouleh.  

Thursday: After the services for Mom I stopped at Taziki's and bought 2 family meals to bring back to her house so we could all gather and eat. I  counted it as our meal since we wound up having a virtually nothing for dinner
Chicken kabobs, roasted potatoes, Greek salad, pita chips, strawberry shortcake

Friday: We had a little remembrance luncheon for Mom's caregivers and had enough leftover for my sister's and my dinners.
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans,.biscuits

Saturday: TheHub and I went to the lake to do a few chores, which we did not get done because everything we touched screwed up. Oh well! On the way home we both were taking about dinner and agreed steak sounded good. I had 2 T-bones in the fridge so we cooked one to split and froze the other for another day.
Grilled steak (TheHub cooked it perfectly) tossed salad, fingerling potatoes, sautéed mushrooms

Sunday: I worked in the backyard, then had a socially distanced yard party with a few neighbors. TheHub was feeling bad and did not join us so when I came back in I warmed him a can of soup and I scrounged the fridge for leftovers.
Mushroom soup or leftover tossed salad and a roll.

I guess  will plan a menu for this week, or at least pretend to (in no particular order except for meal #1):
1. Take out (spending the night at the lake to meet a repair man in the morning)
2. Stuffed bell peppers, coleslaw, squash
3. Frittata, tossed salad
4. Baked chicken, mushrooms, green beans, rice
5. Pasta with pesto sauce, tossed salad with artichoke hearts
6. Grilled scallops, asparagus, tomato slices, rolls
7. Chef's salad, French bread

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Tears and Joys for Week 19 of 2020

The nineteenth week of the year began with extreme shock and sadness. It is my intent to look backward at the year's end and read about the joy I experience every single day.  I  am still looking for it, but for the most part the days this past week were not  happy. Even so , I still found small joys each day.

Wednesday: My joy for the day was through tears. Mom was in bad shape, and we knew the end was near, but we certainly did not expect to be called twice in 30 minutes. Once to say she was going to be released in a few minutes and another to tell us she was gone. My joy is that she was reunited with Dad, who was her love, her rock, and her other half. My hope is that they are dancing again.

Thursday: I woke at 5 and immediately started going over the "should haves" I should have checked Mom out of the hospital a day early, just to see her, hug her and tell her I loved her again. The guilt of having her in the hospital and being unable to see her was overwhelming and I spent about 5 hours crying for her life ending without us by her side. I would never have chosen that for her.
Later my sister and I met at Mom's to clean her refrigerator and to write her obituary. While we were there one of her neighbors saw our cars and stopped in. We enjoyed talking, reminiscing and laughing with Cathy. Her visit was a true and much needed gift.

Friday: My sons always keep in touch with each other, but with Mom's death they are talking even more. Friday night DIL3 organized a Zoom painting party. Everyone got their favorite paints, canvas (or in my case copier paper) and had to paint a picture using one of five word prompts. For my prompt I chose "formal" and painted a picture of a dream my sister had the night prior to Mom's transition.  It was very cathartic. Additionally it was wonderful to see and hear them all painting and talking, then sharing their art. Pip won the prize for the most painting done in the hour. I think she finished 6 or 7.

Saturday: My sister, Son2 and I went to Mom's and cleaned out her pantry, then we walked through the house and shared stories about some of the particular items in it. We are going to have a lot of work to do to clean it out. I did bring one particular item I wanted home with me. When we were kids "The Wizard of Oz" came on only once a year. Every WOO night my dad made fudge and he always poured it on a platter that we called the fudge plate. It is now in my kitchen and some day I will watch it with Pip, make her some fudge, and tell her about her great grandfather making it for me when I was her age.

Sunday: We had streaming church services, followed by a Webex Sunday school class, then we went to the lake to do a bit of cleaning and yard work. The cleaning and yard work were not joyous but it needed to be done. I avoided everything Mother's Day related like the plague (or Covid)

Monday: It was a beautiful coolish day. I felt like doing nothing but eventually made myself go dig in the dirt (translation:pull weeds) and it did make me feel better.

Tuesday: I spent about 6 hours at Mom's house first going through all the shelves and drawers in her sewing room. Goodness she had a lot of stuff. And now one room is almost ready, though I did not get to the closet yet. I had tow big joys while working there. I found some pictures that had been misplaced since Dad's funeral nearly 5 years ago. I also sorted through her button box (she had thousands) and found 2 sets of buttons I have always loved. One set was on a dress she wore as a young girl. The other was from a blouse she wore when I was a very young kid. If my sister does not want them I will make something and use them.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Meals for the week

This was the tentative meal plan for the week and then everything went haywire.

1. Huge salad, toast points
2. Hamburgers (already cooked and in the fridge) baked beans, coleslaw
3. Tacos with all the fixings or taco salad, margaritas, churros
4. Mac and cheese, sliced tomatoes, cucumber spears, lady peas, cornbread
5 Grilled steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes, tossed salad, rolls or toast
6. Red beans and rice, spinach salad, cornbread
7. Stuffed peppers, squash, tossed salad

Monday was Cinco de Mayo we drove to a local Mexican restaurant and picked up tacos and tamales

Tuesday: I spent the entire day on the phone with various people at the hospital trying to find out more about Mom's condition. I understand that the doctors feel they hav e better things to do than call us with an update, but in normal times we would be with Mom around the clock and could speak to them as they made their rounds. Uncommon times calls for changes for everyone not just the people who do the normal caregiving for the patient. The day was beyond frustrating!
TheHub grilled a steak and we split it, asparagus. tossed salad, toast

Wednesday:: After spending the early morning getting ready to pick Mom up from the hospital and then the rest of the day somewhere between being in shock and getting in touch with people who needed to be notified that she had passed away, I was numb. TheHub suggested we ride around and grab something to eat. I know we stopped somewhere.
I know we had a sandwich.

Thursday: was an emotionally difficult day. I did not even begin to think about a meal until TheHub came home from work.  I pulled a package of what I thought was spaghetti sauce out of the freezer. It wasn't. It was obviously something I had made using a lot of crap I had hanging out, then froze the leftovers.
Unidentifiable frozen stuff over rice, asparagus, tossed salad

Friday:  Leftover hamburger patties, squash casserole

Saturday: We finally got the rest of the garden planted, came in and took a shower then ordered Pizza

Sunday: Leftover hamburger patty, coleslaw

Going forth for the week, I am making no plans. I have a lot of food in the freezer and pantry and will have something. I really don't care what we eat or if we do takeout every single night. I am just not feeling it right now.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Quarantine Cooking in Times of Tragedy

I had a better day Friday. At least I made it through most of the day without bursting into tears. This is such an odd time to be grieving since there is/will be none of the typical corporate sadness. I don't know about other parts of the country, but here when someone loses a family member, everybody and their brother rushes to the door with food. I have actively told everyone who has contacted me to please bring nothing since it is just TheHub and I here. Even though our governor has loosed restrictions on staying in place,  I am still staying away from people, plus 2 of my sons are in states with stiff restrictions Additionally I do not want any of them flying right now. We are having a very small private funeral service at the columbarium in our church courtyard. It will offer Jan and me some closure but there will be no extended family gathering following the service. We are saving that for a memorial service at some future date when Sons 1 and 3 and their families can be here, along with our extended family and friends. Mom would love knowing she was going to be the focus of two separate events.

I spent a decent amount of time making preparations for Mom's service and I started laughing thinking about a book I read a long time ago called "The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love". They had a section of recipes called funeral food. As I said above it is tradition to have pound cakes, and platters of fried chicken along with casseroles of every kind just appear at your door, with a card or note expressing love and sympathy. Instead, in these weird times, I have had flowers and cards and a bakery pound cake delivered with the same sentiments.  I do appreciate my friends and my cousins Debbie and Sandy for remembering me and Jan at an approved safe distance. Even so, I was really wanting something comforting (i.e. chocolate)

The Sweet Potato Queens had a recipe call Chocolate Stuff which is good for whatever ails you after any tragedy (death, lost love, stumped toe, favorite pants got bleach on them). Since I am staying at home anyway I thought I would make us some to drown our sorrow. What could possibly be better than some delicious baked chocolate goo?

According to the Boss Queen, Jill Conner Browne, this recipe will feed 2-6 queens depending on their level of stress and anxiety. When I made it we had enough for 2 generous servings plus at least two more that were refrigerated and eaten two different times later (BTW cold chocolate goo is pretty dang good also)

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients well

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa. I used 1 1/2  (heaping) tablespoons regular cocoa powder and 1/2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder cause I like my chocolate a bit on the dark side. Then stir every thing into the egg mixture. When the chocolate is all blended add a teaspoon of vanilla. Let is splash over the edge of the measuring spoon just a tad. A little extra vanilla does nothing but make this stuff better.

And now this is how the magic begins. Spray a standard loaf pan with non stick cooking spray (be generous) Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan. Set the loaf pan inside another pan  and add water until the bottom pan is almost filled to the top. Stick that into a 300 degree oven and leave it totally alone for at least 45 minutes. You want to have a delicious crunchy top with a lovely gooey bottom. I will confess I let mine cook about 55 minutes, because I wanted a little more crunch on the top but wanted all that delicious soft runny chocolate in the bottom.

How it looks when it is ready. The edges look I burned it a tad but I didn't. It is just the light and shadows for. picture taken with the phone moments before we dung into it. The photo below is the second bite of the still warm goo from the bottom of the pan.

I cannot even begin to tell you how delicious this stuff was. I ate mine warm in a bowl with a small spoon so I could savor every single bite. TheHub opted to throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream on his, which made it perfection for him. (I still think the addition was overkill)

If you want to, before baking you can throw in a bunch of chopped pecans, but if the objective is to have chocolate therapy why bother?

After eating it I pronounce it a pretty good remedy for the blues. The next time you are in the dumps give it a whirl and maybe send good thoughts to the Sweet Potato Queens of Jackson, Mississippi.

Friday, May 8, 2020


Thank you for all your kind words with my previous post. I am not going to respond to each comment there as I usually would but thought I thought I would share the edited obit for our mother instead. 

"She was fierce in most every possible way-fierce in her devotion to family and friends, her opinions and personality. If you didn't know where you stood with her, you weren't listening. Wife of Joe for 63 years, mother of 2 daughters Anne (Joe), Jan (Doug) , grandmother of Matt (Kyoko), Mitch (Laura), Will (Helena) and great grandmother of Pip. Nell was preceded in death by Joe, her parents and three siblings and survived by her brother Bob , cousins, nieces and nephews from her large family. She attended ...... High School and ....... University. 
Not known for her culinary skills, Nell was however, famous for her signature chocolate fudge cake commonly referred to as "Nan Cake" which she made for every family birthday and gathering. She was gifted at sewing, rug hooking, upholstery, cross stitch and knitting; particularly Christmas stockings for everyone. And, if you were the recipient of one of her crocheted pot holders, you'd never use another. She loved nature, bird watching from the bay window and could identify flowers, plants and trees. A good day for her was digging in the dirt. 
Nell was the Girl Scout troop leader when her girls were young and was a life-long volunteer for many groups and causes. She was well traveled, loved music, dancing, theater, and an occasional ribald joke which would elicit giggles. But, when she found something truly funny, she would explode with a big distinctive laugh like no other. 
Nell's daughters would like to thank Tierra & Stacey, Pam & Angel and Bradina for their kindness, compassion and care this last year. Due to the current pandemic, there are no immediate plans. A memorial service will follow at a later date. The family requests any memorials be made to. . ."

I will miss her terribly but hope that she and Dad are reunited, and dancing to Glenn Miller songs in the clouds like they did in their kitchen nearly every night!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Joys for the 18th Week of the Year

My weekly joys have been kind of bleak this past  week. I spent most of the week trying to get info about Mom, worrying about Mom or talking to my sister about Mom. When I look back at this weeks joys on New Years Eve I hope I will remember it with less irritation than I feel about it right now. I had a difficult time finding joy every day and had to do a deep dive a couple of days to find anything joyful. So one of my joys is that this week is over and I do not have to repeat it again!

Wednesday: Worried about Mom and feeling sad we could not be with her so I ate my worries in chocolate. Really bad news is that when I am sad, I bake.
Thursday: Happy to hear from the doc that Mom is doing OK, meaning she is not reacting negatively to the blood thinners. Son 2 came over to show me how to set up the smoker and I had a pleasant evening becoming a smoke master (Yep, I watched 2 tutorials so now I am a pro, right?)
Friday: Met my sister at Mom's house to take care of some business. Had a nice visit while we went over the finances. Neither of us brought coffee though. Bummer!
TheHub and I ate some of the pulled pork for dinner and it was fantastic! Why did I think smoking was that difficult?
Saturday: We did little other than sit on the porch and read. Then we headed out to pick up a pre ordered a tiller, and rode around a bit just to see the world. It was a wonderful day!
Sunday: We attended streaming church. I am getting used to worshiping in my pajamas while sipping on a cup of coffee. It's a bad habit, I think. Afterward we had a video Sunday school class and then we headed outside to work in the yard. We got a good bit done, but needed additional soil to finish a project. Whey does it always take more than you think it will?
Monday: Mom was still in the hospital and for the first time I got to speak to her. She was having a really bad day, and did not sound like herself at all. That made me sad but I was glad to finally get to speak with her.
Tuesday: I spent a frustrating day trying to get in contact with various doctors. I understand the new normal of no visitors or family in the hospitals is necessary, but it also means the medical professionals alter their normal too. Every time Mom has had a medical issue either my sister or I (often both) are with her. Normally at least one of us would be with her when the doctors make their rounds and we would spend a few minutes discussion her treatment/options. I know they feel too busy to call and discuss things with us, but I honestly do not think Mom can even sign her name now, much less make any decision about her care. Finally one did return my call and we set up a series of televisits for her after her discharge..
Our big Cinco de Mayo celebration was some take out tacos and tamales from a local Mexican restaurant followed by the last episode of Ozark.

And now I very happily move on to week 19. Mom is set to be released tomorrow and her sitters are ready to resume their sitting. I do have a couple of concerns about a particular medicine she has been prescribed and need to talk to them about it before she leaves, but I will be very glad to get her home where I can see her each day.

Hope you find your joy ,

There is a post script to this. Before I thought to publish this morning I got a call that they were releasing Mom early. I told the case worker I lived 15 minutes from the hospital and to call me when they were ready. Then I met my sister at Moms house to wait for the call to go pick her up. Instead the doctor called to tell us she had died.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Meals for next week

Menu planning for me is more of planning possibilities, while trying to have as little food waste as possible. I generally eat leftovers for lunch, but occasionally we have to have an unplanned leftover meal because there is just too much for me to finish off at lunch.  This past week was one of those big leftover meals week. I had planned leftovers two days this week and still had to put 2 medium size servings of the chili Mac in the freezer

What was planned?
Leftover chili mac, tossed salad, green beans
Chicken pot pie, wilted spinach salad
Huge chopped salad, crescent rolls
Stuffed baked potato with all the fixings including chopped broccoli✓
Beans and franks, coleslaw, corn muffins
Grilled scallops, asparagus, baked potato, green salad
Leftover sausage, cabbage, onions and potatoes dish, cooked carrots, rolls

What really happened?
Monday: The day was pretty uneventful, but I knew we needed to eat some of the leftovers to prevent food waste.
Leftover sausage, cabbage, onions and carrots, Italian bread toasted, TheHub had leftover strawberry cobbler

Tuesday: After following the ambulance to the ER and being told we could not go in with Mom, my sister and I went back to Mom's house to wait until we got a call from the hospital. At that point we did not know if Mom would be admitted or released.  Hours later we found she would be admitted for at least a couple of days. I felt very fortunate to have leftovers to just warm and call dinner done.
Leftover chili mac, tossed salad, toasted Italian bread

Wednesday: Tuesday night I slept fitfully waking every 30 minutes or so, worried about Mom. It took several cups of coffee and talking to the nursing staff and the doctor to finally feel like getting started on the mountain of laundry I had to do. I hate not being able to be there with her, because I know she is confused and if she is thinking rationally she probably feels abandoned. I decided on comfort food for dinner.
Chicken pot pie, coleslaw, banana pudding

Thursday: We were just not feeling like doing much at all for dinner so we had a small meal.
Plain baked potato, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots

Friday: When I woke Friday morning the pork I smoked overnight was perfect. After I took it off the bone I shredded it and packed it for the freezer. We have enough for 11 more meals. Score!
BBQ pork sandwiches, tater tots, coleslaw

Saturday: It was a gorgeous day so we decided to fire up the grill
Hamburgers, German potato salad, three bean salad (TheHub bought it thinking it was canned green beans)

Sunday: We worked in the yard and then decided to take a shower and go out to eat (If you call getting in the car and ordering to go food going out to eat.)
Fried Chicken, green beans, coleslaw

1 gallon milk (we don't even drink milk but it was only a dollar, so I am thinking banana pudding one night)
17.5 pounds whole pork butt (dang it is a lot!)
2 pork tenderloins ( frozen)
10 pounds chicken quarters  cooked, shredded, and frozen)
1 large ham steak (at least 2 dinner meals worth)
1 1/2 pound yellow squash
1 lemon
1 bunch baby Vidalia onion
head romaine
5 cartons mushrooms
bag of scallion
2 blocks cheddar cheese
1 block mozzarella cheese
1 round cheddar/cranberry cheese
snack foods (crackers, chips, vanilla wafers)
4 pound bag boneless chicken thighs
1 bag breaded chicken filets
2 pounds bacon (will be cooked then frozen)
2 pounds turkey sausage (now frozen)

Did I need any of this? No, but I am a little worried about the food chain and just wanted to stock up on a couple of things. Plus the pork butt was the cheapest I ever find it here, and bbq season is just around the corner, so why not go ahead and get it?  I had to watch a couple of quick Youtube tutorials and have a little lesson from Son2, but I did get all the pork smoked, sealed and frozen. (11 packs frozen plus enough for a dinner meal for us and I gave my sister enough for them for a meal)

What was used:

1/4 head cabbage
1 zucchini
1/2 onion
1/2 carton mushrooms
1 romaine heart
1/2 tomato
1/2 cucumber
2 cups baby carrots
2 potatoes (small)
1/2 onion
1 banana
1 1/2 bag coleslaw mix
2 potatoes
1 head cauliflower
1 bunch broccoli
5 scallions

From the freezer:
3 sausage patties
1 cup frozen green beans
1 small pack chicken broth
1 small pack cooked chicken
1 pastry crust
1/2 bag tater tots

From the pantry:
1 loaf Italian bread
1/2 box vanilla wafers
1 box jello vanilla cook and serve pudding (lake rescue)
5 hamburger buns
assorted herbs, spices, condiments, oils and vinegars
4 slices bread
canned 3 bean salad

2 cups milk
5 eggs
1 tube cinnamon rolls

Added to Freezer:
4 leg quarters
3 packs of cooked chicken
5 quarts chicken broth
2 pork tenderloins
1 ham steak, cut in half and packed in 2 packs
11 packs smoked pulled pork

Going into this week, I need very little. The freezer is full, the pantry is stocked and I am uninspired. Technically Alabama is slowly reopening, but the number of Covid cases is still rising, so I will continue doing exactly what I have been doing which is staying at home, taking advantage of delivery or drive and pick up options when I need something.
Fortunately Home Depot is offering curbside service which makes it easy to get  those things I need for working in the yard.
Today Mom will  be released from the hospital to either home care or rehab and I can make my plans for the week based on her needs.

Meal possibilities for the coming week:
1. Huge salad, toast points
2. Hamburgers (already cooked and in the fridge) baked beans, coleslaw
3. Tacos with all the fixings or taco salad, margaritas, churros
4. Mac and cheese, sliced tomatoes, cucumber spears, lady peas, cornbread
5 Grilled steak, asparagus, mashed potatoes, tossed salad, rolls or toast
6. Red beans and rice, spinach salad, cornbread
7. Stuffed peppers, squash, tossed salad

coleslaw mix
lady peas

Vanilla ice cream
butter cookies

Hope y'all have a more inspired food week than I do. I am just a little down and not feeling it, but the day is gorgeous and I have a bunch of herbs to plant. Maybe digging in the dirt will be good for my soul.