Sunday, December 16, 2018

Real Men Eat Quiche

Yesterday morning was not a bearer of good news.  I received a text message from my neighbor (the only one in the area I have spoken to, and mostly by text) that the neighbor at the far end of our tiny subdivision had his truck broken in to.  It's a big truck ... the kind that moves six cars at a time on the trailer.  I know I should move ..........

I suppose that's not surprising, since this once lovely little town has become a twin of it's larger neighbor Merced, drug capital of the Central Valley.  Maybe this kind of thing has always gone on, we just never had social media to keep up.

A few minutes later, HIS neighbor discovered his car had also been vandalized.  They all have filled their garages up with stuff and park their vehicles outside.  That's a mistake I think.  The location of their houses doesn't help either ... very close to a quick-get-away mainstream road.

I'll be setting my alarm every night now.  In an effort to let everyone sleep in the early morning hours, I taped sticky notes to the door handle, upon your advice.  I'm happy to say it WORKED this morning!!!

Next up ..... my version of a breakfast I'm SURE the men will love.  Quiche.  I've never made it before, mostly because it involves too much work on the crust.  Who wants to spend two hours cooking breakfast?

I found the solution while walking the aisles of our tiny little Mexican food market.  Pre-made crusts.  I've tried the ones in the box, but they never seem to work well.  Tough would be a good description. That's when I saw it ... a pre-made FROZEN crust.  Just fill it.  How easy is that?
It can't be any worse than the boxed ones, so I bought three.  Little did I know there are actually TWO in each package.  These happen to be Pillsbury brand deep dish.  I filled it with one pound of bacon and one whole onion sliced thin, topped with two cups of Jarlsberg Swiss cheese.  I threw in a little cheddar for color.  I then filled it up with an egg/cream mixture.

The moment of truth.  Even though I forgot to cover it with foil, this came out FABULOUS.  Why didn't I know about this before?  I suppose because we never had quiche on the ranch.  That crust was tender and SO flakey.  I'm never making pie crust again!  Hopefully the RV group will like it as well. 
Now that I've restocked the kitchen, I'll make a second batch of cinnamon sticky rolls.  That will probably be it for pre-cooking the rally.  I can't even fit another cookie in my freezer, let alone big pans.

Time to start thinking about loading up the rig.  Of course it needs a bath first and I'm always going the opposite direction of the truck wash.  Fuel will be next, then the loading will begin.  

In other good news ... my new gardeners are doing a bang-up job!!!!!  Hurrah!!!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chinese Soup!!

As you know, I'm always up early.  This morning I got to sleep in until 5:00.  How cool is that??  Not that it works really, because the last half hour I have crazy vivid dreams.  This time I was a nervous Nelly first-time model who got called to hit the runway.

But WAIT!!!  I need a shower and a lawnmower for my legs!!  I found the shower, but the razor was nowhere to be seen.  I only found a cute little dog with eight baby puppies.  I woke up when the Mayor walked in.  I don't know what to tell you ..... I've got nothing!!

Maybe it was the soup I ate!  On my niece-in-law's bakery page, I keep seeing a delicious looking cauliflower soup.  I'm always up for a challenge.

First off I headed out to the Elks Lodge to help feed 200 challenged children, although now I understand they are to be called Special Needs children.  Parents have complained their kids are NOT challenged, so apparently we are NOT being politically correct.

It was the same turkey dinner we prepared previously.  I was so busy making sure two boys didn't escape the building that I completely forgot to take pictures.

On the way home, I stopped at Smart and Final for cauliflower.  I like cauliflower, but it's pretty boring.  Yes I've tried roasting it in the oven, but that never worked out so well.  It ended up in the cemetery.

Soup really isn't my thing.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE soup, but it's like Chinese Food ... ten minutes later I'm hungry again!!

I searched the internet for a suitable recipe and decided on this one.  Melt a little butter and saute onions along with chopped up cauliflower and a couple cloves of garlic until it starts to brown a tad.  I actually included a small diced potato, just because I had one.  You could easily leave that out.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of flour and let it cook for a minute or two.
Three cups of chicken broth was followed by half a cup of cream (because I needed to use the rest of the carton) or 1 cup milk according to the recipe, and a sprig of fresh rosemary from my garden.  I let it simmer for maybe 25 minutes.  

Time for the immersion blender, which I'm scared to death of.  You know how I am with sharp things, and this one can send hot soup clear across the room if not held correctly.  I like it chunky, so I only blended it for a few seconds.  Stir in 1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese until melted, followed by 2 tablespoons of cooking sherry.
Oh my gosh!!!  This stuff is AMAZING!!  And it came from MY kitchen!!  I ate the first bowl with relish!!  Still hungry, I ate a second bowl, adding a piece of toast to fill me up.  I think at least a third bowl went down as I tasted it again and again while putting it away.  Thirty minutes later I was hungry.
This is definitely on my keeper list.  Maybe with TWO pieces of garlic toast it will satisfy my stomach longer than Chinese food.  

Today I'm going to gather up all those sticky notes I have all across the kitchen and come up with menu plans for the RV rally.  Maybe I'll even try out that quiche recipe.  With a pound of bacon in each one, I think the men may just like it!!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Sugar Eaters Rejoice!!

I was up early again a couple days ago, which is no surprise at all, to find my poor Cooper all stove up with a look of pain on his sweet face.  Well that's not good!!  Apparently there was too much ball/toy playing.  Luckily I still have some pills from his last episode.  After a prednisone pill and muscle relaxant, we made ourselves comfortable .... on the floor .... again!!

We sat for four hours watching ... you guessed it ... those Christmas movies on TV.  At least they have a few new ones, but with the same plot and the same bad actors.  Actually some of them are very good ... there's only a couple that aren't believable.

By noon I couldn't stand it any more.  I didn't dare leave the house, afraid I would return to find Cooper up on the couch.  So ..... my latest craze is going to Bigger Bolder Baking's website for these crazy recipes ... like two ingredient ice cream.

You may have seen Good Cook merchandise in the stores here and there.  Gemma is their spokesperson, posting videos on Facebook all the time with some mighty tasty recipes.  It doesn't hurt that she is from Ireland and has a great accent.  The guys might want to tune in for a show or two.

She's very good at coming up with amazing recipes for everyday things .... like marshmallow fluff.  You know, the stuff in the jar that you make fudge with?  When she said it was good on pies, cakes and ice cream, she had me at pies.

So here we go ..... another experiment in home-no-preservatives-cooking.  This is sugar and water, placed on the stove and stirred until the sugar is melted.  Then you stick in a candy thermometer and walk away.  I was pretty skeptical at that point.  Walking away from anything boiling on my stove isn't such a good idea, but walk away I did.

Fifteen minutes later it was up to 240 degrees.  I took it off the stove.
This is egg whites with a tad of cream of tartar ... that weird white stuff.  I've no idea where it comes from or how it works.  I just beat the egg whites into soft peaks, then started adding the boiled sugar.  Too bad I forgot to read the part about being particularly careful exactly WHERE the stream of sugar enters the pan.  

Too close to the beater and it will spread it completely around the inside of the bowl instead of INTO the egg whites.  Let it go for ten minutes.  By the time I stopped it, there was a nice thick layer of hard-as-a-rock syrup clinging to the side of the bowl.  I guess my aim wasn't very good.
Undaunted, I got a spatula and scraped as much as possible into this bowl.  Does this look amazing or what??  Yes there are the occasional chunks of rock hard sugar that you do NOT want to bite down on, but let me tell you, this stuff is the BOMB!!!  OMG!!  I think I ate half of it with a spoon before the lid got placed on top.  
Gemma was right .... it's REALLY good on pie.  Remember those berry pies I put in the freezer?  There are only two left now.  I dipped grapes in it, peanut butter cookies (the BEST), apples ... I even dipped my finger in a time or two.  

Alas, it didn't last long, six days the recipe said, but somehow it disappeared in four.  Remember the old Jello pudding with cool whip, layered in a glass?  This would be WONDERFUL atop anything in a glass!!!  In fact, it was delicious on top of my hot chocolate.

You would think I would be sugared out, but my sweet tooth is the size of the Grand Canyon.  I will try to be good for the next week or so before I make it again.  This time I'll concentrate on where the syrup falls.

The good news is that Cooper is much better today, searching the house for the toys that are all put away.  I'll have to listen to his barking for awhile, but that's okay.  At least he's got a smile on his face now.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Confirming Amazon Confirmations

Everyone recognizes this little smile, right?  It's's latest and greatest advertisement.  Unfortunately, just like with every other company out there, scammers have copied not only their logo but wording from some of the emails they themselves have received.  BE VERY AWARE and don't let these guys take you for a ride into the nether regions of the world.
It's so frustrating to be bothered by these rats disguising themselves as Amazon.  If you don't pay very close attention, they will take a whirlwind trip through your bank account, or at the very least, cause nasty critters to set up shop in your computer.

I received an email from "Amazon" yesterday asking me to confirm a sale.  Apparently I had purchased a $250 gift card for Jemy Lovato.  If that name sounds familiar, it's really Demi Lovato, a singer, songwriter and actress.  She played on the kids show Barney and Friends, so I'm not sure that qualifies as ACTRESS.  I'm also not sure if the rats just can't spell or what.

Anyway, it asked me to confirm the purchase before the card was sent out.  It also said that in "some emergency cases" the card could be cancelled instantly if this was a fraudulent purchase.  DO NOT .... I repeat DO NOT click on anything.  Close the email and delete it.  

Funny thing, when I looked closely, the date of purchase was in August 2018.  Why did they wait so long to contact me?  That was a big red flag.

Almost immediately I received ANOTHER email from Amazon notifying me that my credit card purchase had been rejected and they needed clarification so my purchase would not be delayed.  It happens that I had just ordered two items from Amazon.  

Here's the thing dummy scammers .... when you click the ORDER button, if your credit card is not accepted, it immediately tells you to enter another card number.  Your order will never even be placed if the card is not verified immediately.  So you send an email to tell me it didn't go through?  I think not you stinking creepy examples of humans, trying to steal other people's hard earned money!!

So beware my friends .. there should be no confirming Amazon Confirmations, or verifying credit card numbers from an email .... EVER!!  Always be wary!!

Here's my thought for the day.  It pretty much describes my daily existence to a tee.  Never in a million years did I ever think I would be an adult, let alone an OLD adult!!!  I guess I'm there.
I've tried a couple more challenging recipes, at least one with good results.  So good I ate it with a spoon, which is code for it was sugary sweet.  You know, craving foods I know I shouldn't eat.  I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Hmmm I wonder how I got that big bruise on my arm??

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Magic Kingdom Rides Again

I'm SO happy to be over the latest sick craze.  I never was one to follow the pack.  This time it was a big surprise, because in exactly nine days it was gone and I didn't end up at the emergency room!!

That meant I could once again travel to the Magic Kingdom for fun and games.  We solved the world's problems at our own private Bingo happy hour and helped Apache Frank have a good time.  He's the 98 year old that fell and broke his leg.  He walked up the stairs completely on his own.  He must be one tough old bird, because the doctor said he didn't know how he could possibly even walk at this point in his recovery.
Downstairs, I set up for the onslaught and grabbed a coke to get me through the night.  Immediately, the infernal machine threw up and refused to work.  I changed it's paper roll and we were off for about fifteen minutes when it happened again.

I know there is a way to stop that, but it would take WAY too many brain cells and probably an hour in a quiet room to figure out the programming.

All of a sudden in comes one of our regular players with a HUGE kitchen cart full of pans of something covered in foil.  I knew what was coming.  Lots of indigestion and stomach woes.  This nice lady had made 150 cupcakes for the entire building.  What a sweetheart!

They were smothered in frosting with a swirl of dark, chocolate I assume, then covered with M&M's. You KNOW how I am with sweets ..... however ..... many moons ago I had a cupcake someone baked at home, and I truly regretted every single bite.  You can imagine why, right?  I was sick for two days.

Ever since, I've made it a rule, never to eat ANYTHING from someone's kitchen when I have never been to their house.  I wish my resolve to not eat was always this good!!  Not a single crumb touched my lips.

I felt bad ... it might have been better to take one and just drop it in the nearest trash can.  Instead, when she came back for the third time, I told a little white lie and said I already ate one.  They were DELICIOUS!!

Over the next few hours, we had the usual "I didn't get my red ticket for the drawing" folks (because they left the register before I could hand it out), the "you didn't give me enough cards" lady (always the same one) and a new one ..... I left my dobber in the back room and when I went to retrieve it, it was GONE!!!

No kidding!!  If you drop your ticket, or a card, or leave anything anywhere even for a few seconds, I guarantee it will disappear.  They literally walk around the room looking for the right opportunity to steal something.  WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE!  You have to expect that kind of activity when you  are around a Bingo crowd.

The night was long and there were multiple yawns over the last two hours.  The infernal machine felt better and was nice enough to balance to the penny.  I've said it before and I'll say it again .. if it weren't for the nice Knights of the Round Table that work here, I wouldn't be doing this, not to mention there are a couple of really handsome ones to boot!!

I'm hoping to slip in a power nap this afternoon before heading off to Merced College for the photography class portfolio critiques.  You never know .... we may just motivate the next Rembrandt of photography.  Plus, it's always a great time with my photo peeps!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Motivation Lost

Sometimes I just can't seem to get motivated.  Ever since I returned from Arizona, I haven't hit the sewing machine, not once.  October was all about the Pumpkin Patch and there was no time.  Then I seemed to be stuck in a rut on the couch.  Motivation has always been my slow suit.

Being sick didn't help, but once you're in that mode, it's definitely hard to hit the switch and get in gear again.  Maybe it's my age.  At any rate, I'm happy to say I am finally out of neutral and in first gear, even though there was a lot of grinding noises in between.  Sewing is back on the schedule.
The quilter finished this one a coupe of days ago.  Sewing the binding on the edge is one of my favorite things to do, mostly because I can do it sitting on the couch.  There's that motivation thing again!!  This one is done and I love it!!  Now to decide if it's going to Arizona or to my bed in the rig.
Of course I'm always motivated by food, especially when the Elks Lodge is having Contractor night.  Those guys can cook, as evidenced by this magnificent meal.  Lucky for me, the Bingo Crew always buys me dinner.  At $15, this was a steal.  I even took home an entire rack for $10.  You can't beat THAT with a stick!!!
In other good news, I fired the gardeners.  I sent them a nice letter stating all the things wrong, like cut electrical wires and drip lines, putting all the clippings in my TRASH can, which I had to empty to the GREEN can, the untimely death of many plants and just generally doing a bad job.

I should have mailed it three days later.  They got it just in time to refuse to mow my lawns on the last week of the month.  

The bad news is it's going to cost me $30 a month MORE to have a new crew.  They came the first week of December and did a great job, considering there were six foot tall piles of leaves from the trees.  We shall see how it goes.

In an effort to keep motivated and moving, I decided to fix breakfast for the RV Rally attendees in January.  Along with those cinnamon rolls I made (and I need to make one more batch) will be Hawaiian banana nut bread, bagels (at least I don't have to bake those) and possibly quiche.  I need to do a test run on that one.  

I baked these two yesterday and stashed them in the freezer.  Lets all say a little prayer that they are done in the middle.  
It's Magic Kingdom day ..... YAY!!!     or not.    At least I'm feeling almost back to normal.  Just a little sniffle now and then.  Today I'm going to try and slip the clutch and slide into second gear!!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Chicken In A Tree

Sometimes you just see things that make you laugh!  I left WAY too early for the cooking school the last two times, leaving me about 45 minutes to wander about the closest little town of Columbia.  It was founded in 1850 as a boomtown ... the Gem of the Southern Mines.  In other words, GOLD!!!

If you haven't been here, you should stop in, but leave your motorhome home.  All the roads in this area are twisty, curvy and narrow.  They will tell you there are RV parks nearby, but only if you have a small rig.  I came here a couple times as a kid and fell in love.  It's about four blocks long with mostly original buildings.

As I walked the completely deserted streets at 9:00, I heard the call of the wild.  Er er er er ERRRRR.  An echo came back through the trees.  It was loud enough to totally grab my attention.  The search was on.

I honed in on the ERRRRRR and looked up.  There at the top of this huge tree, maybe 50 feet up, was this beauty singing his praises and letting everyone know HE was the boss.  Chicken in a tree.  He's a pretty smart cookie since there are lots of dogs and coyotes in this area.  He is HUGE!  I bet he weights 30 pounds!!
Many moons ago, there were several stores here, including antique shops, ice cream and candy stores, with my favorite pulled taffy.  Nowadays, since the Parks Service has taken control, there are only trinket stores left, along with a couple of hotels and restaurants.  
The Towle and Leavitt building originally sold books and stationery, but later added watches and jewelry.  Thinking his building was completely safe from fire, he wasn't worried when another building went up in flames.  He should have been, because it actually caught the inside on fire.  Luckily, he was able to save most of the watches and jewelry, but he burned his hands badly in the process.  All his books went up in smoke.
I've held several photo shoots here using many of my vintage clothing pieces.  On this day, I even got the Parks Service to let us have full run of the Hotel when it was closed to the public.  Best day EVER!!
In 1854, fire burned down about six blocks, which was quickly rebuilt with brick and metal.  In 1857 another fire burned down everything else except the brick buildings.  

This is the Wilson-McConnell house.  In 1878 James Wilson, a shoe shop proprietor, built this house.  
His wife Rose, completed the house after his death and lived in it until the 1930's.  Mr. McConnell purchased it in 1940 and refurbished it just in time for filming High Noon.
In 1862, Columbia was the first location of a Cinco de Mayo celebration.  Who knew??
At one time there were 8 hotels, 4 banks, 17 general stores, 2 firehouses, 3 churches and over 40 drinking institutions.  Unlike other gold mining towns, Columbia never really became a ghost town
The Columbia City Hotel and Restaurant is still open for visitors if you'd like to spend the night with a ghost or two.  If not, at least go in and ask to see a couple of rooms.  It's a fabulous place to visit.
Over 100 movies and televisions series have been filmed here, including the Lone Ranger, Death Valley Days, High Noon and the Cimarron Kid.  Pale Rider rode through here as did Behind the Mask of Zorro.  
Check it out .... look for the biggest chicken ever sitting in the tree (a rooster actually) and have some ice cream while visualizing what it was like in the REALLY old days.  Best to go early in the morning before the crowds.