Saturday, November 30, 2019

Still Being Thankful

An amazing thing happened yesterday.  The most gorgeous red shouldered hawk came to visit me.  These aren't the best pictures since he was so far away.  I grabbed my camera and snuck out the back door quiet as the mouse he was hunting.
Apparently I wasn't quiet enough, because he immediately took flight.  Just LOOK at those feathers.   Aren't they magnificent?  I'm so thankful he chose MY back yard as a rest stop on his quest for all things mice
On the other hand, I'm NOT so thankful I have to eat all of these cups of pumpkin dessert.  Yes they are tasty, but really, enough is enough.  
Here's the recipe.  By the way, this app is called Paprika.  I think there is a charge to download it, but well worth it in my opinion.  You can copy almost any recipe on the web and Paprika will create and save the recipe and directions to the app, right on your phone.  This way, all my pending disastrous dishes can be made no matter where I am.  I'm certainly thankful I found this app.
This particular recipe?  I would skip the cookie crust and just make the luscious pumpkin.  In my humble opinion, who wants crust when you can have pumpkin with whipped cream and brown sugar? 
The pecan pie that kept calling my name is now one piece smaller.  I caved.  I'm thankful I can still make something edible, although this did have one minor problem.  I didn't get back to Smart and Final for the pie crust.  I picked up an imposter, and boy could you taste it.  It's akin to rancid butter.  My advice is stick to First Street frozen pie crusts.
I'm VERY thankful I'm not full anymore, although I can count every single stomach muscle stretched out of shape.  I've killed every single rule in my diet except thou shalt not eat bread.  I've been on a sugar high for two days now and really need to get back on track.

In that light, I signed up for another cooking class many months ago and today is the day.  French Pastries!  Between the pie and the pastries, I should be good to add back on at least five pounds.  It's this afternoon up in the mountains where they got snow for the last two days.  Just in case, I'm going to call first.

Just imagine what stomach churning recipes I'll be able to cook now!!  I better go check on my supply of Tums.  I'm VERY thankful someone invented them for us crazed sugar eaters.

Friday, November 29, 2019

WHY Did I DO That!!!!

I've been known to eat so much I made myself sick.  It just takes way too long for the full button to be pushed, setting off that screaming alarm not to eat another bite.  Just like this picture, I was a real piggy yesterday!!
I got antsy just sitting, so I put the turkey in the oven an hour early.  I've no idea if the temperature in the oven is correct.  The smaller oven on the left seems to be off by around 50 degrees, rather important in the turkey cooking department, so I used the big oven.

See the little thermometer?  It's not correct either.  Such is the life when your Chef hat is always askance.
I set the table, but it looked nothing like this.  I just added the picture for ambience.
At the appointed time, I checked the turkey with my handy dandy stainless steel digital thermometer. It didn't read near high enough.   Another hour passed and I tested it again.  Perfect, or so I thought.  It looks good, right?
Next up I brought out that bag-o-sweet-potatoes I picked up at the grocery store.  There was a guy giving out samples.  They come frozen, so obviously, I thought they were precooked.  I was wrong.  I slapped on a lid and gave them another 20 minutes while I whipped up some gravy.  I admit, I cheat in that department.  To give my turkey gravy more flavor, I dump in a packet of turkey gravy mix.  It works perfectly every time.
I had a little trouble slicing up the nicely browned bird.  Yes it was done, but I really like tender meat.  It seems to me turkey used to be much better in the old days.  Maybe it was my dull knives.  

At long last, my plate was full.  Honestly, this is about twice what I would normally eat, but the smells got to me.  I consciously ate slower than normal, trying to savor every bite.  In 5 minutes, it was gone, even the thinly sliced brussell sprouts with walnuts and parmesan. 

Gosh, that was SO good, maybe I'll have just a tad bit more.  I ate every single morsel of that too.  Why did I do that??  I just KNEW I was going to be miserable.
But hey ..... what's Thanksgiving without dessert?  This is the one I made the day before that I was going to give you the recipe for.  I changed my mind when I discovered the small print.  Must eat in 48 hours.  Are you kidding me?  That means I have to eat all of this TODAY!!!  I think that's not going to happen since I'm still full to the gills from yesterday!  I ate only one, discovering it separates quickly.  What a shame.
Trouble was, that pecan pie I made kept calling my name ... over and over and .......

Tired of the noise in my head, I cut a piece, smothered it in whipped cream and ate that TOO!!!  WHY DID I DO THAT?  By 5:00 I was so miserable I was laying on the floor.  
It's Black Friday, so maybe a shopping spree where I can stand upright and move around for a couple of hours will help my current oh-my-stomach-is-killing-me situation.  I mean really, I'm STILL full!! I even passed on my morning coffee.

On second thought, maybe I'll sit here at the computer and look for Cyber Monday deals.  

Nancy ..... N  a  n  c  y  !!!  I'm heeeeeere!  Lovely sweet yummy delicious pecan pie!!!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Where did the time go?  I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already.  It seems only yesterday I was eating that not-quite-cooked bird with all the fixings I love.  I'm pretty sure my Chef hat was askance last year, so this year I'm going all out.
My invitation to dinner fell through and I'll be spending my time sewing up the cursed Halloween quilt so I can get it out of the house.  Otherwise, I'm sure to lose my lovely tall white hat to this huge 15 pound turkey.

What in the world will I do with all that meat?  I'll have sandwich after sandwich, that's what.  Truthfully, it will be a "wrap" since I've given up brad .... I mean bread.  I'd keep Brad for sure.  At any rate, my turkey sittith upside down because it's not thawed out yet, even after four days in the fridge.  I may have to get out my hair dryer!

This beauty is one of the perks of the Magic Kingdom.  We all get a turkey every year for our hard work.  THIS year it's a Costco Butterball ... highly prized among the peasants.  I promise to do my best to make it edible for the puppies and I.
In spite of the rain (or probably because of it) the scenery has been spectacular in my back yard.  We don't usually see these white puffy things.  They've closed down Highway 80 to Reno and Highway 99 over the Grapevine due to snow.  Forecasts say down into the low 30's at night for the rest of the week.  I guess winter finally came calling.
I've got a great new recipe for you, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.  Today I'm being extra thankful for all my friends, RV and otherwise, for my good fortune to have a warm house in spite of the Halloween Quilt Curse and plenty of food on the table, not to mention my wonderful two four-legged companions who keep me going.

I want to give a shout out to George Yates, who singlehandedly taught me how to roast a chicken on the barbecue, and who inspired me to cook more of his amazing recipes.  If it weren't for George, I would still be eating lean cuisine.  I'm asking for prayers and blessings for him as he fights that horrible disease cancer.  I'm extra thankful to have come to know him and his wife Suzie.  
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, eat lots of turkey and most of all, EAT DESSERT ..... LOT'S OF DESSERT!!!  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Curse Follows Me!!!!

This certainly isn't the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and I haven't broken into any tombs lately, so why is the Halloween quilt curse following me everywhere?  It's weird I tell you ... and a tad bit scary!!

Did I mention that while sewing that Halloween quilt on Monday I stepped on a two inch long pin?  Stuck that sucker at least a quarter inch into my foot.  So far in fact, that it was actually really hard to pull out.  It's the curse, I tell you!!!!

So yesterday, I was off to the Magic Kingdom right on time (limping slightly) in order to meet the Knights at the Round Table.  A little sustenance is always required, being served up in chalices fit for a King.  Mine resembled a wine glass.  My "just plain coke" was refreshing and put me on an instant sugar high, since I've pretty much deleted that white stuff from my diet.

At the top of the hour, we all headed off to our appointed dragon-slaying areas.  Some times I really wonder about people, but then always attribute it to old age.  The Castle Lawyer and I almost got in a knock-down drag-out fight over $5.00.

The peasant insisted she had given us the payment for what she KNEW was the winning card.  Alas, she had the missing bill in her hand as she screamed "I GAVE IT TO YOU"!!  We told her three times it was still in her hand, but she refused to listen, so I took the winning card back.

Her eyes got big and panic set in.  That's when she spotted the bill in her hand, which she basically threw at us.  I gave the card back and wished her good luck.  No, she did NOT have a winning card.  C'est la vie!  And so it goes at the Magic Kingdom!
That's when the curse raised it's ugly head again.  The King came in and said my truck taillights were flashing.  What?  No way ... it's a joke.  Yes way he said, so I rushed outside to see what was up.  Too bad I forgot my coat because it was raining like crazy and about 45 degrees.

I saw nothing, but got in to check my horse trailer brake control.  Every once in awhile a ghosty plays around with it.  Nothing.  I locked the door and headed back to the Kingdom.  Suddenly, my backup lights came on.  WHAT THE HECK??

I ran back, jumped in and this time put the key in the ignition.  I played around with the brake control a little, but nothing was out of the ordinary.  It's the curse!!!  I just KNOW it!!!  Either that or I've got an intermittent wiring problem ... the most likely culprit ... with no chance of ever finding it without a mechanic and $1,000.  I ran back inside, now soaking wet and COLD!!!
Yes, it's raining in California.  In fact, it rained all night long.  Our Thanksgiving holiday will be filled with the wet stuff.  Maybe it will even rain hard enough to clean my motorhome, now covered with 20 pounds of dirt from the last wind storm.
I drove home slowly because the OTHER cursed people on the road were driving crazy.  You know how it is with the first rain.

Today I'll figure out what my Chef hat is going to cook for Thanksgiving.  I'm pretty leery about turning on my gas stove, what with the curse and all.  I have a dinner invitation, but think it might be much safer for me to just stay home with the puppies!  There's no use pushing my luck with a curse hanging on to my shirttail.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


If you visited my house, you would probably hear me say WHAT THE HECK? a hundred times.  It's my newest catch phrase, and fits in well with the current environment.

First off, I rarely watch the news.  It's just too depressing to hear nothing but bad all the time.  I try to check in on Sunday mornings.  So when I heard about the latest lettuce crisis in California, my ears perked up.  I'm a romaine girl from way back and had just purchased some at the store for my salad craving.

Then I heard it ..... e coli AGAIN!!  WHAT THE HECK?  I wondered why the shelves were practically devoid of romaine.  Salinas Valley, you've done it again.  Throw out everything ..... don't eat it!  Over 40 people are sick!!  I probably could have taken it back, but it would have cost $8 in fuel to get across town.  In the trash it went.
My company, such lovely lady she is, always brings dinner, or takes me out to lunch.  It works perfectly for me.  This time she stopped at Costco and picked up some of the most beautiful ribs I've ever seen.  WHAT THE HECK?  I didn't know Costco sold cooked ribs!!  

They were huge, seasoned perfectly and cooked to perfection.  We smothered them in some amazing barbecue sauce.  BEST RIBS EVER!!
I worked on the eleven more squares I need to complete before finishing up this quilt.  I swear it's cursed!!  I've never sewed so many pieces on backwards in my life.  My seam ripper was red hot from all the action.  WHAT THE HECK?  How come I can't seem to sew these simple nine squares together?   This pictures is after cutting those perfectly good nine squares into four pieces and resewing them.
Finally finished, but forever frustrated, we sat down to watch some Monday night football.  WHAT THE HECK?  What are those awful uniforms the L.A. Rams are wearing?  They are yellow from head to toe and look like bananas running around the field.  How embarrassing, not only the uniforms, but they got whipped by the Ravens 46 to 6.  

Time to let the dogs out and hit the sheets.  I flipped on the light and opened the door.  WHAT THE HECK???  There was a HUGE dog on my patio with a dachshund hiding behind him.  I slammed the door, catching my poor Cooper on the shoulder.  Jessie went ballistic!!!

The noise was so deafening that I had Cyndae grab Cooper and I picked up Miss Jessie, running them into the back bedroom.  Then I went to find out WHAT THE HECK!!!  I thought they might belong to my neighbor, so I called.  Lucky for me, he was home.  He came right over, and sure enough, they were HIS dogs in MY back yard.  

How the heck did THAT happen?  I grabbed a flashlight, thinking they MUST have broken through the fence somehow.  I could find not one disturbed board.  The gate on one side is padlocked.  Maybe someone saw them roaming outside and put them in MY backyard?  Unless this was all a big joke, I've no idea how in the world they could get there.

Finally able to let my puppies outside, I was wide awake.  WHAT THE HECK!!!!!  It was just that kind of a day.

So here's a public service announcement.  Take your frozen turkey OUT of the freezer.  You should have done it yesterday in order for it to thaw by Thanksgiving ..... and don't forget the giblets inside.  That way they won't have to say WHAT THE HECK???? when you place dinner on the table.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Latest And Greatest

Have you noticed the latest and greatest?  The pressure cooker .... just like Mom used to have but without the thingy on top that rocks back and forth keeping the pot from exploding.  It was rather scary back in the day, but I used mine often to make edible meat out of leather.

In fact, I STILL have my pressure cooker in the cupboard.  I also have a huge pressure canner from my days of cutting up and canning the best tuna you've ever had in your entire life.  Same goes for the salmon I canned.

There's nothing like cutting up fresh greasy tuna in your shower stall, the perfect location for easy cleanup.  I was the Queen of Cats as I threw scraps out the window.

The cans became our private stock, kept hidden away in the back closet to be sure friends and family never knew we had any extra.  Otherwise it would be gone in a sun-setting green flash!!

All of sudden, out of the blue, came this beast.  The Pressure Cooker of the future.  You just plug it in.  There's no rocking gizzy, just lots of instructions to keep you from blowing yourself up.  Not really, there's several safety gadgets on it to keep you safe.

It is interesting to note however, that there are probably 25 models to purchase.  Having arrived straight from China (really, China??) there are many different handles and options.  Some will make yogurt, some not.  There's the Duo, the Lux, the Ultra, the Duo Plus and several more.  They come in every size imaginable too, from 3 quart to a whopping 8 quart.

Of course if you have an instant pot, you now need accessories.  A huge market was immediately filled with everything 8" across.  From racks to springform pans, to steamers, to cake pans, they now have it all.  That brings me to this beautiful baby.

If you look on Facebook, there are MANY sites to check out recipes.  I happened upon PressureLuck Cooking.  A nice Jewish boy who just got back from Jordan.  No, I don't really know if he's Jewish ... it just sounded good.

I've tried a couple of his recipes and they have been WONDERFUL.  He must be good since he has quite a following.  You might think this is a cake pan ... bundt pan to be exact.  However ... it can be used for so many other things.  Like meatloaf!

It's a mini pan, exactly 8 inches across.  It's going to be fun experimenting with this beauty.  Maybe I can even make a cake in it!!  The part I like best is it's the perfect size for one or two people.  No more eating meatloaf for two weeks.
Not to be outdone in the latest and greatest cooking craze, China now offers the Instant Pot Air Fryer!   Just in time for Christmas.  It runs about $120 and is the rage of cookingdom!!  I had a fleeting thought of crispy crunchy coconut shrimp, but honestly have completely run out of counter space in my kitchen.  
So there you have it, the latest and greatest in appliances that can explode on you.  To be honest, I've never heard of that happening ... EVER!  Mostly they just quit working two weeks after you buy them.  After all, they are from China.  Lucky for me, I seem to have picked well.  Mine are awesome (yes I have THREE) especially when it comes to CHEESECAKE, my favorite food group.

I'll let you know how the meatloaf turns out, but for now, I again have company for two days.  Although I figured to be done with the bookkeeping in two hours, I put in another four yesterday and only succeeded in finishing up ONE set.  I've got four accounts to go!!  

This is turning into a marathon of burry images from a way too bright computer screen while tapping on an ancient abacus.  All for a good cause, my good friend of over 40 years.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

They Saw Me Coming!!

Anyone ever watch Beetlejuice?  It's a crazy movie about ghosts, goblins and Halloween.  I was instantly reminded of that movie when I spotted this quilt in a fabric store in Bend Oregon about five years ago .... maybe six.  They saw me coming, I just KNOW it!!

"Here comes another sucker ... uuuurrr CUSTOMER!  Quick ... put that crazy looking Halloween quilt out front and center.  She'll bite, I just KNOW it!!"  I casually walked in the store, not having a clue.  Oh look .... FABRIC!!!

Let's face it ... my name is Nancy and I'm addicted to fabric.  The wilder and more colorful, the better.  So when my eyes fell on this beauty, the need for all things Halloween (my all time favorite holiday) kicked in and I had to have it.

I mean really, how could you turn down a quilt with lime green ruffles, followed up with creamsicle orange ruffles for good measure.  Yup ... they saw me coming and tricked me into buying the last kit they had without ever reading the instructions or checking out the fabric.
It seemed simple enough.  Sew five inch squares together.  They forgot to mention that the ruffle material is 50% nylon mesh.  You know what?  You really can't iron nylon mesh because ... you guessed it ... it MELTS!!  Does anyone have a tried and true recipe for getting something similar to gum OFF the bottom of my iron?  

Getting it cut out was one thing, but sewing it together was a true Beetlejuice nightmare!  It stretches just by looking at it.  Then .... just to make it as difficult as possible ... the edges roll under so you can't sew it evenly.  

Once the square is done, you iron it flat (making sure NOT to touch the ruffle) and cut the perfectly good square again, right down the middle BOTH ways.  Now try to turn each piece correctly and sew it together AGAIN.   An hour later, it looked like this.  Gee .... only ELEVEN more to go!!

I wish I could call up Beetlejuice to zap it together for me.  I'm pretty sure my quilter will come unhinged when she sees those ruffles.  This may become a stitch-in-the-ditch project for me.

On another front, I spent four hours yesterday going through one single account, doing bookkeeping for my friend.  It seems she sold one piece of property and bought FOUR more rentals.  Here I thought we were gearing down in the accounting department.  Instead, I now have 50% MORE work to do.

I have maybe two more hours today to finish up before I even BEGIN the other accounts.  It's all good though ... she's a great lady and has been a wonderful friend for almost 40 years.  I would do anything for her.

In the meantime, I spotted a new gizzy for my Instant Pot.  Since my Chef hat is still hanging in there, I thought I might try something new.  It's all an adventure, right?????  Maybe I should have a cleanup crew on standby!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Weirdest Thing!!!

Fate can sometimes throw a wrench into your everyday activities.  I happen to like wrenches, because they can become very exciting new adventures.  I've always been interested in art.  Do you remember back in the dark ages when you could make several drawings and send them in to the Art Studio School?

I honestly can't remember the name now, but I did that on several occasions.  I even had a sketchbook where I drew horses, lions and all manner of critters.  Believe it or not, I was actually accepted into that art school, but alas, a handsome boyfriend got in the way.  I rather doubt I could have afforded it anyway on our ranch budget of zero.

That's why things like this water color painting fascinate me so much.  Renate, a new citizen to the U.S. has been painting for about nine years with a group of like-minded people at a local church.  The original instructor was a 90-something year old amazing painter.  Her daughter has now taken over the class that meets once a week.
It was fate when I saw this image and Renate invited me to the classes.  I was all over it.  If nothing else, it will be a nice diversion from frustrating sewing projects.  Seems I'm on a roll in THAT department.  

Here's your paint palette for water colors.  It's the weirdest thing ... I even like THIS!!  Maybe I'm just attracted to color.
So here's my goal .... to be able to paint something simple like this.  I attended the class and instantly made six new friends.  I told them I've never painted anything in my life.  They said GOOD ... sit down.  Come to find out, I've known one other gal for 40 years and didn't even know she painted.

The end result is they gave me six tubes of paint and I spent two hours on the internet finding more supplies at Cheap Joes Art Stuff.  How could I lose?  I'm so excited to meet new people and start a new hobby!!  I admit, it's probably more for the fellowship, but who knows.  Maybe I'll paint something I would even hang on the wall.
When I got home, I went through all my photos looking for something nice to paint.  Cooper was on the list, but he looked so scraggily, I thought a trim might be in order.  He hated every second.
You can tell by the look on his face, but at least he's ready for his portrait, although I may have a hard time getting him to pose.  Here's the secret I learned.  You can enlarge a picture and trace it onto your paper.  No drawing involved.  Paint by numbers!!!!!  I think I can do THAT!
To while away the hours and have something delicious to eat for the next few days, I put my Chef Hat back on and made this amazing quiche.  I'm here to tell you, never make crust again.  Go to Smart and Final and buy their First Street Deep Dish Frozen Crust.  It's the flakiest I've ever eaten in my life, not to mention it cooks evenly on the bottom and browns just like on the edges.  

This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman's website if you're interested.  I left out the artichokes and put in more bacon.  The recipe really does make TWO, so halve it if you only want one.  Boy was this GOOD!!
I'm on pins and needles waiting for my paints to arrive.  We won't meet again until after Thanksgiving, so I'm trying to be patient.  Maybe I'll sketch out one or two images and see if I've still got the touch .... or not.  The copy machine may become my best friend.

Friday, November 22, 2019

And We Have ICE CREAM!!

For those that have attended the Golden Spike rally within a rally in Indio, actually the Western Motorhome Association rally, you know my pain.  This is a great group of people who support me in every respect when it comes to getting (and handing out) ice cream on not one but TWO days, to about 2000 people.

Over the years, I went bananas trying to be sure Schwans would deliver the goods.  After the first disaster when NO ice cream arrived, the Golden Spike Hand-Out Group changed their shirts so no one would know who we were.  The uproar over a 50 cent ice cream that didn't appear, was beyond imagination.  We NEVER want a repeat of THAT!

Last year, for the first time, we were awarded two freezers, which meant I could pick up the ice cream myself from local suppliers and VOILA! all the pain went away.

Still gun shy however, I made the call yesterday to Costco for their wonderful Magnum look-alike bars.  Amazingly, the same Manager answered the phone.  He even remembered who I was.  I placed the order and DONE!!  We have ice cream bars.  Woohoo!!

Next up ... the vanilla buckets of goodness from Smart and Final.  I was again shocked to find the same Manager still in residence.  Here's the thing ... the Managers at Schwans changed monthly, so I never knew WHO I might talk to, if I even got ahold of anyone.

75 gallons ordered just like that.  I must be in dreamland.  I guess I drank all that wine for nothing!!  WE HAVE ICE CREAM!!!
I spent the rest of the day working on this Civil War quilt.  Not a quilt really, just a table topper.  I have no clue what I was thinking when I bought this five years ago.  Seriously, there are 84 one inch red squares that I marked on the back and sewed to 84 MORE pieces.  
It's a good thing this was small.  If it was quilt sized, it would never see the light of day.  I can't believe I sewed the WHOLE thing.  I'm not sure Civil War works well with cowboy.  Maybe it will become a wall hanging in the bathroom.
In other amazing news of the day, I finally made it to the AAA Insurance Office for my DMV tags.  I explained my problem ... DMV sent the tags to the wrong address.  And what address would that be?  She looked it up.  They sent it to my actual, working, receive-mail-there-every-day post office box.  

Wait .... the lady on the phone told me they sent it to Bellevue Road.  "No" she said "they sent it to the real Post Office".  So who do I blame now?  No tags were received at my box.  More evidence of excellent government service.  

To add insult to injury, I had to pay $22 to get one tiny little new tag, even though it wasn't my fault I didn't receive it.  I just LOVE working with government offices.

When I returned home, I spotted this on the internet.  It's painted in watercolors by a friend from my Photography Classes at the college, many moons ago.  She's a fascinating lady from Sweden (or somewhere over there) who is a recent cancer survivor.  Besides photography, she has become a wonderful painter.  
I remarked how much I loved it.  "Come to my group" she said .... you'll have fun!  But I've never painted before in my life, except maybe the bedroom walls.  I was curious and since I didn't have to worry about ice cream or sewing any more one inch pieces of fabric together, I went.  I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 21, 2019


I am proudly wearing my Chef's hat again, retrieved from the corner of the kitchen and standing tall.  You can't hardly make a mistake when you are only opening cans and packages.

The turkeys were already in the oven when I arrived.  These aren't your normal turkeys.  These beasts are about fifteen pounds each of breast meat only, deboned.  You may remember I ordered one last year.  It came in a box of two and cost me $75.00.  I have to admit though, it's the best turkey I've ever eaten.

MY job at this function is to whip up potatoes, dressing, gravy and that all time favorite, green been casserole.  You really need one of those huge stand mixers for this, but instead we always go the hard route and do all the mixing by hand in those large flimsy aluminum pans.  It's an experience you shouldn't miss.
First up, find the four largest pots you can and measure out the water according to the package.  From past experience, add in an extra 1/2 cup for evaporation.  Yes, that's a REAL problem.  Then spread the Idahoan potatoes in a pan, following by a sprinkling of dry Ranch Dressing mix.  It adds SO much flavor and masks the phony potato taste.

Once boiling, add the 8 quarts of water to the pans and call your buddy Mark (on the left) to stir like you're paddling to shore with a shark hot on your tail.  Yes, water goes everywhere ... on the counter, on you, on your cowboy boots ... but it's actually the most efficient way to make two huge pans.  Put them in the warmer.

Next up the dressing.  Add two pounds of butter to the water, along with the seasoning packets.  Don't watch the men watch the pot boil over.  Jump in and turn the flame down BEFORE you lose half the ingredients down the eight burner stove.  Again, have Mark stir like his life depends on it.  Put them in the warmer.

We opened (the hard part) three huge cans of sweet potatoes and used a potato masher to smash them into oblivion.  I sprinkled in cinnamon, maple syrup and milk before dumping it into another two pans.  

Are we done yet?  Of course not!  We still have the green bean casserole.  Milk and mushroom soup were stirred together and dumped over the not-so-well-drained beans.  It takes a little patience working with five men.  It takes THEIR patience to work with me.  In the oven they go to bake with the sweet potatoes.  On to the gravy!!

There's nothing worse than gravy from a bag.  I always insist we take all the turkey juice we can scrape up and dump it in THAT pot of boiling water.  This time there was no juice because of how they cooked the turkeys.  Lucky for the eaters of this dinner, I was able to salvage the aluminum foil from underneath the turkeys just as it hit the trash can.  Dry as a bone it was.

I placed it back on a sheet pan, dumped a couple cups of water on top and set it on the stove, scraping up the tiny bits from the bottom.  VOILA!!  Turkey juice ... and THAT my friends is how I got my Chef's hat back!!!

With ten minutes until take off, I mixed up the dry gravy mix in a pot of cold water (only because the real Elks Chef told me to), then dumped it in the boiling water.  Instant gravy with not a lump in sight!!  I was so proud!

With everything loaded in the back seat of my truck, we made it to the Senior Living Facility in record time.  We filled up 40 to-go boxes for those who couldn't make it to the dining room, all of which were delivered by our local Boy Scout Troop.  

Once that was done, the Boy Scouts took filled plates to every senior sitting in the dining room.  Best servers ever!!  At long last, we picked up all our utensils, leaving all the food, and headed back to the Lodge.  

I was tired, but smiling as I got back home, my Chef Hat proudly on my head.  I am redeemed!!!  Until next time!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Chance To Redeem My Chef's Hat

Happy Magic Kingdom Day!  Woohoo!!  Knowing I would be up late, I tried to sleep in, but as you know, my puppies are pretty demanding.  I wandered into the kitchen at 4:30 hoping I could catch a catnap later in the day.  It was not to be.

At the appointed hour, I toodled on off, all the while trying to imagine the route in my head.  The entire central part of our little city is under construction.  There's no way around but the long way.  Prince Charming was flying off in some big bird-like contraption to the beautiful shores of Florida.  It was going to be a slow night with no company to keep me awake.

I met one of the other Knights at the door as he limped in and up the stairs.  I guess wearing all that heavy steel armor has resulted in disastrous knee pain, whereupon he can't mount his horse any more.  The Castle Witchdoctor performed surgery and now he limps even more.  These times do try us.
The good news is that the Castle Lawyer showed up in all her splendor and we knocked it out of the park.  Only one grumpy peasant caused a problem ... almost came to blows actually ... but calmer heads finally prevailed.  One peasant went home $1500 richer, happy as a clam she can now provide Thanksgiving dinner to her hoard.

While there, I discussed my disastrous meat dish with the real Chef.  It seems the problem was me, not the pot.  No surprise there.  I chose too large a chunk of animal, putting it in a too small pot and filling it to the brim.  If it had 12 hours to cook, it probably would have been fine.  He laughed and said I could borrow his Chef hat any time.  He knows not what he offers.
That's when I got the biggest laugh of the night.  The newest Chamber Maid told me "they" had not balanced for the last three nights of bingo.  I questioned the Castle Lawyer.  Turns out, it was the Chamber Maid who was on the infernal machine all night long, every night they didn't balance.  She forgot to tell me that part.  Mystery solved.

At the end of the night, I received a chance to redeem my Chef's hat, the really tall white one!!  I'm so excited.  The people at the Senior Center, not so much.  Today I will help cook 7 huge turkeys, along with all the fixings ... sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, gravy and dressing for 100 seniors.  

I've got my fingers crossed everything goes well.  After all, it can't be THAT hard.  Most everything is coming out of can, except of course the gravy ... it's a bag.  The hardest part is making it all taste like the REAL thing.  I think I'm up for the challenge and looking for redemption.  Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

My Crock Pot's A Crock!

Anyone still use their crock pot?  I think most have relegated the old-fangled gadget to the donation center, having replaced it with the new-fangled Instant Pot.  Isn't it funny how that particular piece of kitchen equipment has taken off like a sky rocket?

My Mom used to cook in her pressure cooker all the time.  Way back when I could really cook, I used mine constantly ... the one with the little gizzie rocking on top.  It was perfect for tough meats, which was practically all we had, it having been butchered and deposited directly into the freezer.

Here's a little snippet you might not know.  When beef is butchered, it is hung up in huge walk-in freezers to age.  The longer it hangs there before being packaged, the more tender it becomes.  Otherwise, it's more like eating your leather belt.  We ate lots of leather belts, which the pressure cooker helped to tenderize.

I've been cooking good of late, proudly putting on that white Chef's hat.  This butter chicken, or chicken tiki masala (which is the United Kingdom's most popular dish) came out tasting delicious.
The same can be said for the banana bread I whipped up for Ms. Jonathan.  It's hard to get parrots to eat what's good for them, just like your average 10 year old.
Which brings me to the crock of a crock pot.  I really do remember making good things with this pot, I just can't remember WHAT.  So when I picked up that pot roast, I decided to cook it all day long, making the most tender delicious piece of meat.  

I carefully seasoned it, browned it in my best cast iron pan and set it on an entire onion, chopped to perfection.  My Chef hat was working overtime.  I dumped in the carrots, beef broth and even MORE spices and set it to six hours on high.  It was 10:00 am.
I knew I was in trouble around 2:00.  Nothing was even remotely tender.  Oh it was hot, because I burned my fingers checking to be sure it was turned on.  I tried to be patient and waited another hour.  

Nope ... this is not working.  I drug out my Instant Pot.  Working very carefully, remember it's HOT (just not cooked) I fished out the chunk of meat using not one, but TWO sets of tongs.  It dropped unceremoniously on the counter.  Good grief Charlie Brown ... now I have a big mess to clean up.  My chef hat fell to the floor.

Once I had the roast in the pot, I dipped out enough juice to make the Instant Pot work and set it to 30 minutes, having absolutely no idea how long this was going to take.  Once done, the pot does a countdown, letting the pressure subside.  Always ALWAYS do a natural pressure release for meat.  Otherwise, it turns back into that leather belt.  
I would have been so proud to have it look like this.  I could have picked my Chef hat up off the floor and wore it with relish.  
Alas, it looked more like this.  At least the meat was tender, although not fall-apart tender like I love. Instead it took one of my sharpest knives to get it into chunks.  Here's the kicker .... I should have put all the onions and carrots in the Instant Pot also.
With my piece of meat cut into bite-sized pieces, I covered it with onions and carrots.  I was SO looking forward to that first tender bite.  The carrots were hard as a rock and the onions half raw.  Seriously???  I kicked my Chef hat clear across the kitchen.

I'll just nuke it a little and it will be fine.  Not so much.  That made the meat tough as nails, but at least the onions edible.  I tossed the carrots.  Too bad I have about three days food here.  

Today my crock of a crock pot is going on a long trip .... to the Thrift Store Donation Center.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Trying To Be Politically Correct

We all know things have changed of late.  You really can't express your views any more without being ragged into silence.  It's funny how names have changed in an effort to be more politically correct, even when it comes to Bingo!!

The Elks Lodge has been having a Saturday morning Bingo session for children and adults who need special care ever since I have been involved, and for many years prior to that.  Originally it was Handicapped Children's Bingo.

Someone was offended, so the next year it was changed to Disabled Children's Bingo.  That didn't set well with someone, so it was again changed to Disadvantaged?  Nope not politically correct.  How about Challenged Children's Bingo.  That worked for one year.

Now the games we play on Saturday morning are called Special Needs Children's Bingo.  That's not truly correct either, because there are many special need adults that play also.  In all of this, it's not the kids that give a hoot ... they just want to play for the prizes.  It's the parents that get offended and I always wonder why.

At any rate, with another name change in the books, I met the dirty thirty at 8:30 to fill up bags with goodies for each kid to take home, mostly candy, a few prizes and the Elks ball caps they've been asking for every year.  We also loaded up the prize tables.

These are for the most part, the happiest humans I've met.  They all love to get hugs and I imagine are just happy to be out and about.  GROUP HUG!!!  Sorry, I've no pictures because that would be politically incorrect.

We cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs, along with a huge pot of chili and fed close to 100 before they left with their spoils.  Everyone is a winner more than once because they keep playing the same bingo card until at least 20 have won.  Once they win, they get to go to the table and pick their prize.  You should have seen the happy faces!!  It's totally worth all the hard work the Elks put in to this event every year.

On the other hand, I'm not so politically correct when it comes to cooking.  I had a total fail in my crock pot.  I mean really, how can you go wrong with a crock pot???
That's tomorrow's story.  I'm going to the store this morning to get something yummy to sooth my Chef's ego.  It's in tatters on the floor at the moment!!  Oh wait ... I'm just a cook, not a Chef, or maybe it should be Baker, or Sous Chef?  Food Preparer??  I've got it ... Kitchen Master!  No, I'm pretty sure THAT one is TOTALLY incorrect.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Apparently I'm Deleted

It's a first in my fifty year life of computer operations.  I've been deleted.  Here's what happened.  Way back when, maybe 15 years ago, I signed up for just for giggles.  Hey, you never know, you just might run into Mr. Millionaire Horse Ranch Owner looking for a REAL cowgirl.

More often than not, it was just something to keep me occupied for a few minutes every morning as I scanned the images of my matches.  It always gave me a good laugh and made me realize I was probably better off single.
Maybe this works better in the Eastern States than it does in California.  Most of the men on my screen looked like homeless camp rejects or prison inmates.  The best one EVER was the picture of two cowboys in their 60's, standing up tall with their cowboy hats, boots and skivvies.  Nothing else.  Yes, it was a sight to behold.  What more could a woman ask for.
Here's a good example.  I left his one blurry on purpose.  Not that I'm being picky mind you, but these guys might get a lot further if they kept their clothes on, at least until you met in person.
Every single day I would receive my matches, until last Friday.  Apparently I'm deleted, scratched off the dating list of available bachelors with a single key stroke.  I truly thought it would never happen.  My spam inbox has been void of my fabulous picks for three days.  It's so sad.  Now I will only have to delete 399 emails every morning.  Maybe I should join Silver Singles instead!!  

In the meantime, I've been fighting Mr. Cooper's finicky appetite with fresh barbecued turkey.  Might I say it doesn't work as well as barbecued chicken.  First off, it was too tall to sit upright and close the lid.  What else could I do but lay it on it's side.

I might have baked it in the oven, but my oven is HUGE and uses probably $25 worth of gas to bake anything.  Even the Breville wasn't big enough.  Thus we ended up with charred turkey on one side.  It's okay though ... I ate that part and chopped up the rest for Coop.  He was happy to wolf it down, THIS time.  In a couple days, I'm sure he will want something new.
I spent the rest of the day sewing the binding on this quilt.  I love the colors and violet patterns, it just doesn't go in my house at all.  I'll add it to my ladder of finished quilts until it finds a home.  
Yesterday's Special Needs bingo for kids was interesting, to say the least.  There are actually special need adults included in the mix.  They absolutely love to hug everyone, so we all had to join in.  I'll relate that story tomorrow, because right now, I'm going to go double check my spam folder for my list of Mr. Rights, just to be sure.  I might be back on the list!!