Saturday, February 16, 2019

YAY For Discounts!!

I definitely needed something yesterday to make me feel better.  These 2:00 mornings are NOT in my wheel house.  It wasn't much better for Miss Jessie.  She stayed undercover most of the day.  She's very much under the weather, so we're headed to the Vet this morning.
Cooper on the other hand, slept like a baby most of the day.  I try to emulate him every night, but his methods seem to escape me.
It probably didn't help that I got a big dose of sugar.  Here's another test recipe of no-bake lemon cheesecake with lemon curd and graham crackers.  I hate to say it, but the cheesecake part wasn't quite sweet enough, compared to the almost out-dated lemon curd.  I think I'll scratch this one off the list.
While still waiting for the slow boat from China and the donkey from Southern California, all the while letting poor sick Jessie outside every fifteen minutes, I whipped up another wonderful dinner night before last.  Here's the kicker for this one ... it's prosciutto wrapped around chicken.  How easy is that??
I agree, mine doesn't look all that great, but the taste was over the moon.  All I did was wrap two thin pieces of prosciutto around a chicken breast, roll it up, brown in a frying pan and finish cooking in the oven.  Of course I rolled it the wrong way, but it still held together.

The risotto, something I've never made before, was easy peasy.  It just took standing at the stove for 30 minutes stirring and adding in broth.  It was delicious and can you believe it, they even gave me truffle oil for the top.  Maybe not quite as pretty, but this is gourmet restaurant cooking!!!
The main excitement of the day was a trip to the quilt store.  You see in Tucson, unlike where I come from, you get big discounts on your birthday.  Half of your age, to be exact.  

I won't divulge the amount, since it was Patty's birthday, but it was BIG!!  I can't say much because I'm right behind her.  Anyway, this is the pattern I picked for my next quilt, in roughly the same colors.  

When my 12 fabrics were cut, we wandered around the sewing room in back, to find the exact quilt Patty wanted to make.  She had the pattern, but had used the fabric in something else.  With that kind of discount, you can't pass it by.  We picked fabric for HER new quilt as well.  YAY for big discounts!!
For Patty's celebration dinner, Mr. Chance barbecued some amazing T-bone steaks.  Green beans, salad and baked sweet potatoes filled out the menu.  I'm getting used to all this good food.  What's on MY next menu?  Cherry balsamic pork chops.  We're talking gourmet here!!!

In the meantime, I'm trying to get over my heart attack at finding out how much my RV insurance bill will be.  You're not going to believe it!  I think it's time for me to downsize to a small fifth wheel.  I'll give you details tomorrow.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Speaking Of A Slow Boat .....

Good morning Arizona she said with a grumpy look on her face.  I should live in Florida.  At least it would have been 4:00 when I got up.  Instead, it was 2:00 when Miss Jessie got sick for the second time.  It's looking like a trip to the Vet is in my very near future.

In other good news, I bet you thought I was carving and burning up a storm.  That would be a no.  I could possibly begin burning things, but everything I have seen on the web says I should carve the top off first and clean it out.  That way I won't burn the house down when the insides catch on fire.

Is there something slower than a slow boat from China?  Why yes there is.  It's an even slower donkey with a bad leg walking all the way from Los Angeles to Arizona.  If they had a Pony Express option, I would have chosen that.

Instead, I opted for another $12.00 charge for Priority Mail from the good old U. S. Post Office.  When it didn't arrive on the appointed day, I hit the tracking button.  It seems that after one week, it's STILL in L.A.  Delivery is scheduled for another LONG week away.

I'm pretty sure that is so I will read the 25 emails they have sent me since I ordered the thing, trying to glean more money from my pocket.
So if I can't start a fire from gourd carving and burning, I might as well do so while cooking.  Here's another Hello Fresh meal ready to turn into gourmet Swedish meatloaf.  This one was a tad bit on the wimpy side.  One of those carrots was so limp it took a long walk on a short pier into the trash can.  I reconstituted the others by soaking them in water.  Next time I'll cook based on how long the ingredients can stay fresh.
To make a long story short, here's THEIR finished product.  Looks pretty tasty with that raspberry jam on the side.
Just to be sure I'm covered in the gourd burning safety department, I tried out the fire alarms throughout the house.  Yeah, my meatloaf got a tad bit overdone.  It's funny how you can't smell smoke in the kitchen but the living room is engulfed.  

I turned the heat in the frying pan down and stuck them in the oven per the recipe.  With so little moisture in the carrots which were roasting in the oven (I'm really liking the roasted veggies), they got a tad bit overdone also.  Okay, they were mostly burned.

Surprisingly, the meatloaf had only that piece of bread soaked in milk, onions, a spice packet and some nutmeg (all included of course).  It tasted pretty darn good, in spite of the very dark brown on the bottom.  I refuse to call it black.  The gravy came out very nice, also with onions, nutmeg and a little parsley.  The jam was 90% seeds .... HUGE seeds .... so it said bye bye.
There were so many potatoes left over from this meal that I made eight potato pancakes for later.  The meatloaf was enough for four people.  They don't skimp on the servings.  Instead of two servings per bag, I can easily get FOUR, cutting the cost even more.
The only problem I see is the time to create these masterpieces.  I'm the Queen of Lean Cuisine and two minute cooking times.  This one took an hour to prepare.  No worries however, since I've decided to enjoy the process, no matter how long it takes.  

On the down side, I had the kitchen sink completely full of dishes that required washing.  I may just have to get that dishwasher sooner than I expected!!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I get a lot of junk mail in my in-box.  Mostly I just ignore it and delete .. delete .. delete.  Then there are those times that I think ... hmmmmm maybe THIS one is real.  So when I received this one from Microsoft about closing my email account, I was intrigued.

Email Security Alert .... that will get your attention!  I was informed if I didn't CLICK HERE and update my account, it would be closed.  That works for me ... just close the darn thing.  It causes me no end of pains in the patooty trying to make sure I don't click on something I shouldn't.

This one said February 12 was the magic day when my email would cease to exist.
Yesterday, I got THIS one.  Microsoft has again chosen to close my email account, but apparently they are giving me two days grace period.  NOW the date is February 14.  The Sherlock Holmes in me decided to pay them a visit.
There are easy ways to determine who these actually come from.  Nine times out of ten, they are from the UK, or at least that's their email address location.  THIS one was different.  Mr. M K Relani at sent these.  

You have completely fallen down on the job MK.  At the very least, you should have set up an email account out of the country.  If I knew how to do it, I would deluge your account with nonsensical emails until you closed it.  Not that it would help at all, but it would just give you a taste of your own medicine.
This one is the funniest of the day.  When I logged on to my MiFi this morning, what should appear but the FBI Surveillance Van.  I'm pretty sure this isn't real, but it did make me look twice.  The top one is new to this area, as is the FBI.  Simple is the only one that has been around for awhile.  Maybe I said the wrong word too many times and they are after me!!  Hahahaha
Here's one you just can't make up.  I kept seeing these pretty pictures along with an ad for Paint By Numbers.  I finally took the bait and checked them out.  Remember when you were a kid and you got one or two pictures of horses to paint ... or maybe it was Elvis.  

I admit, I got pulled in by a beautiful image of Paris.  Not this one, but another.  How could you lose with only a $20 investment?  

It took about two days to get the email that said your Paint By Numbers is "on it's way".  Here's your tracking number.  I waited ten days before checking to see when I might expect delivery.  Ummmm wait .... it says that number does not exist.  

I was not the least bit surprised because I had just read in tiny tiny print that it was coming from China, as in a slow boat from.  I cracked up laughing because I'm pretty sure I will never see the painting or the $20.  

Still, I'm going to harass them incessantly whether I get it or not.  I sent out an email saying WHERE'S MY PAINTING?  The nice guy responded that their "hard working friends" in China were celebrating Chinese New Year and were on vacation.  Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.  They would be back soon and my painting would be on it's way.  
Do I believe him?  Of course NOT!!  The only thing I can say in my defense is that I ordered it through Amazon, so if I don't get it, I'm pretty sure I will get a refund.  I just checked the tracking number again for $hit$ and giggles.  Why am I not surprised .... it's all in Chinese, which of course I can't read, but that's better than "we've never seen that tracking number before in our lives".  I'll keep you posted.  

Oh and there is even MORE, but I'll tell you about that tomorrow!!  This morning, Miss Patty and I are off to the fabric store!!  Wahoo!!!!!

Oh ... and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

One More Time

I love driving down this road to my house.  You never know what the sky is going to look like.  It almost looks like I'm on top of the clouds looking down, rather than underneath them.  Anyone know if this weird mashed-potato looking formation has a name?
Here's some good news ... Pat and Patty had one more time to celebrate their birthdays.  I'm sure there will be many many more, which I'm very thankful for.  Not only are they great friends that I hope stick around for a very long time, but I LOVE birthday cake!!!  Unfortunately, Pat was sick and wasn't able to partake in our cake and ice cream sewing party.  No worries Pat, we saved half of it for you!!
One more time, here is a Hello Fresh meal served up nicely in a bag.  Pineapple poblano beef tacos.  I cut up the poblano before I thought to take a picture.  This one was very simple and simply delicious!!
I diced up the pepper, one of the two tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and the pineapple to make a tasty salsa.  Not shown, the lime, salt and pepper that made it pretty tasty.  Next up, fry more onions, the other half of the poblano pepper and the beef, along with the spice packet.  

Squeeze as I might, I could not get any more juice out of the lime to add to the sour cream, which I don't much care for anyway.  I used some lemon juice from the fridge.  Here's a picture of ONE serving, since this actually made six tacos. 
My version wasn't quite as pretty, but that first bite tasted WONDERFUL.  One more time and one more bite, just to make sure it was good before wolfing down the entire plate.  I've made lots of tacos in my life, but these were the tastiest I've had.  They didn't even have CHEESE on them!!  
I had enough left over for two more meals.  By the way, I actually have been trying to order the healthy, low calorie versions of Hello Fresh.  You can even order all vegetarian.  So far I'm excited about the ease of prep, the freshness of the food and the amount you get.  If anyone wants to try it (you can cancel any time) I have some $40 off coupons you can use.  Just send me a note in Messenger and I'll give you the coupon number.

In this particular case, I figure the healthy tacos cancelled out all those cake calories.  I'm definitely ordering this one again!  Or maybe ... just maybe ... I can keep the best recipes and purchase the groceries myself.  At some point I will do a test shopping trip and compare prices.  In the meantime, Swedish meatloaf is next on the menu.

I have to be honest, I would much rather be showing pictures of critters rather than my test kitchen, but alas, it's been so cold and windy that going out hasn't been an option.  I'm getting photo fever.  Hopefully the weather will warm up soon!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

FRESH Is Always Best

There has been an interesting development in my life.  Relatively good cooking.  Who knew you could make things that were healthy, diet friendly and actually tasted good!!  I can tell you from experience, I am NOT that person.

Every time I try to make something healthy, it turns out to be chicken or turkey.  Nothing else, just the chicken or turkey.  When friend Pat suggested Hello Fresh, I was skeptical.  Great food she said, just too much for her, being single and all.

I'm pretty leery of things like this because they end up being expensive, but I decided to check it out anyway since I read you can cancel at any time.
They have many menu items to choose from, from diet friendly to vegetarian to just plain old good food.  You can have them send you meals for any number of days a week.  I went for three, which I think is the minimum.  I picked three days because I knew each meal would make TWO meals for me.

Here's how it comes, packed in a well insulated box with two large ice packs on the bottom.  Sandwiched between them was the meat.  They also send you recipe cards, which are magic in my book.  Let's get cooking!!
First up ... chicken and sweet potatoes with balsamic fig sauce.  Everything you need is in the bag, including the tiny bottle of balsamic and VERY fresh ingredients.  I did not expect the excellence of quality.  I didn't even have to trim the chicken.
Who knew I would actually like sweet potatoes!  Cut up in small pieces, I sprinkled on a tad bit of avocado oil, along with salt and pepper and roasted them for 25 minutes at 425.  Good heavens they were tasty.  How could that be?

I cooked the chicken according to directions, removed it from the pan and started on the sauce.  Fry the shallots, pour in the balsamic, add the fig jam and chicken stock.  Wait ..... where's the jam?  I searched and searched before finally adding my own apricot since I had nothing else to substitute.  I'll have to make a call.

Here's the recipe card showing what it SHOULD look like.
This was MY version.  I used my own dressing since vinegar and oil isn't in my taste wagon.  WOW!!!  I couldn't believe the flavor as I ate such a simple dinner.  This was AMAZING!!!  How could something so simple, be so good???  Maybe because it's served on my VERY expensive melamine plates.  I might even be able to entice a MAN into my house with THIS!!!
There's enough for two servings in every package.  I had the second serving leftovers the next night.  The best part is I have the recipe card, which also shows everything you need to buy to make it again.  

As to price, this meal for two was $11.98.  Most of the food will actually make three meals for me, so that makes the cost pretty doable.  I can't wait to try the next one .... pineapple poblano beef tacos.

By the way, I DID call ... or chatted online actually ... and got a refund for the entire meal.  That's pretty good service.  It's so convenient too ... the food comes right to the door!  I'm liking this a LOT!!  No more thinking about what I'm going to cook, or buying out half the store when I only need two chicken breasts.  Even better, once I gather up a slew of recipes, I can cancel and go it alone.  It's a win win for me!!!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Beauty Number Two

No, this isn't Beauty Number Two, but it IS rather beautiful and quite tasty.  Here's the recipe for that chocolate brownie lava cake pudding thing, before I completely forget to post it.  Just click on the link here.  Hot fudge brownie more-like-lava-cake yummy goodness . Yes the recipe is a little involved, but easy to make and tastes over the moon.  Small servings are better since it's SO rich!!  My crock pot was too small, so use a big one if you have it.
No, this is not the beauty either.  He's just the installation guy making a big mess in my kitchen.  Not only did he have to remove the old microwave, but the frame thing holding it on the wall.  Of course the new frame didn't even begin to match the old holes, so new ones were drilled, both in the wall and in the bottom of the cabinet.
Bye bye Mr. Microwave whose parts kept falling on my head.  I'm sure that broken door frame would not have lasted much longer.
Hello Beauty Number Two!!!  Although they told me it was going to hang down further, giving me less cooking room, they were incorrect.  Now all I need is a stove to match, but that will have to wait.    Surprisingly, it works like a charm.  You never know nowadays if that's going to happen.  

By the way, the salesman told me not to expect any of the appliances made in this day and age to last more than eight years.  My stove at the ranch lasted 40 and my Mom's fridge 35 years.  Apparently they don't make them like they used to.
There was one purchase in Tubac that I didn't show you.  This be my new gorgeous pot.  I rather imagine it's called something more fancy than pot, but it now resides in my back yard.  I love it and could use two more, but again, that will have to wait until my wallet rejuvenates itself.
Another new addition to the house would be the lovely printer given to me by Lynn and Dave Cross.  Thank you SO much.  It works like a charm, copying three new recipes I'm passing along.  There has been another foray into how to cook delicious meals when you're single, on a perpetual diet and recipe-uninspired.  I'll explain it all tomorrow!!  

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Got Gourds???

Why yes I do!!  The farm just down the road from the gourd festival specializes in every size and kind you can imagine.  There were huge bins just waiting for you.  You pick, they measure and price.  How could I not snag a few to play around with, using my brand spanking new wood burning tool.
There's wood burning and then there's WOOD BURNING.  If you're going to make beautiful art, you need the right tools.  I can't wait to get started, but that requires the cutting tools mentioned previously.  No worries, they are on order!!
Back to the gourds, here's a sampling of the work you can do on a plain gourd.  The one on the left is decorated with pine needles.  I tried that once ... it's WAY beyond me.  It requires too much patience and finesse.
I rather imagine making something like this requires the same.  The variety of images carved into these gourds is amazing.
With all the cutouts, this one must have taken hours and hours just to carve ... let alone to paint!  What a showstopper!
Sorry these pictures are not the best.  I decided to ditch my big camera due to the weight.  I'll know better next time.  iPhone pictures just don't do them justice.
From beautiful flowers to Southwest Indian to Alaskan Indian designs, it was all there.  Did you hear that thunder?  Sometimes it was hard to hear due to the thunder gourds being tapped.  
Last year I found one in the little town of Saint David.  Tap the spring coming out of the bottom and it sounds like thunder, thus the name.  They were certainly a popular item, although Lynn and I both thought ours were MUCH louder.  Least I think that's what she said ... I couldn't hear very well.
For the most part, prices were not near as exorbitant as I expected.  There were several I would have purchased for my house, but I chose to spend the money on the tools to make one ... or a dozen.
On the other hand, this fabulously designed gourd ran $295.  For that price I can have everything I need to make a hundred.  Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas???
Unfortunately the day came to an end and we never did catch up with Jan and Bill.  We stopped in for lunch at Mimi's cafe before heading home.  I spent the rest of the evening watching YouTube videos about how to carve and burn, most of which will be done OUTSIDE so I don't burn my house down!!

I'm already making plans for next year's event.  I think I'll take my rig if I can find a place to park.  

In the meantime, I've got a new microwave and some new recipes, along with the lost brownie lava cake recipe.  I'll share those tomorrow.