Saturday, July 19, 2014

How about a biscuit with that stew?

Among the gifts we received when we got married in June 1971 was a little cookbook...

and a beautiful enameled cast iron cooking pot...

Even though I was not a budding Martha Stewart when I was living at home, I was not totally naive about what went on in the kitchen. I did help my mother (and father, too) prepare food for the family--in fact she said I made a better pie crust than she did--but I didn’t really know how to cook for a husband.

The little cookbook became very useful indeed. There was a great recipe for a dilled potato salad for two, and four meals from one recipe of meatballs, and various desserts.

The cookbook and the cast iron cooking pot are among the few gifts that I still have and still use. The cookbook is indeed well used and looks it, its pages are very stained with the evidence of many meals prepared from its pages. The pot is also rather well used, especially the inside which I am reluctant to scub too severely for fear of damaging the enamel..

One of our favorite recipes from the cookbook is a simple beef stew that I often cooked in the cooking pot. I still make the stew -- not as often as I used to because beef is so high; but in fact, I cooked it not all that long ago.

Although Richard and I eat lunch together at the kitchen table like proper people are supposed to do and exchange scintillating conversation, we eat dinner in bed and watch TV. Each of us has a TV tray on our side of the bed to put the plates and drinking glass when we aren't holding them.

On this particular night in question, Molly Wolly Doodle all the Day was stretched out on her spot at the foot of the bed.

About half-way through the bowl of stew, I decided I wanted some bread, and so I put the bowl down on the TV tray and went rummaging in the freezer for some bread. I could not find the bread but I did find a freezer bag of biscuits that I had made a few weeks earlier was doling out to us for Sunday morning breakfast. I thawed one and came back in the bedroom to see our dog standing at the edge of the bed, in front of the TV tray, and Richard informing me that she had been licking my bowl.

I could see where she had licked some of the stew gravy off a chunk of carrot, but everything else looked untouched, so I thoroughly washed the carrot, but before I could resume eating my stew, the telephone rang. So I sat the biscuit down on the bed (on the bed!!!) and took the bowl with me to answer the phone (I had learned my lesson about leaving the bowl within the reach of the dog, indeed I had). While I was talking to my friend, I could hear Richard start to laugh in the background, and when I got back to the bed I saw that all that remained of my biscuit were a few crumbs on the bed, and the dog was prepared to lick those up as well.

I guess I was not the only one to enjoy the meal…

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meep! Meep! and Buzzling Meat

I believe a fully stocked junk drawer is essential to smooth functioning in the kitchen, and so when I went into the junk drawer to find the Phillips-head screwdriver that is supposed to be there so that I could tighten the handle on my large pot, it was not there, and neither was the flat-head screwdriver, for that matter.

So I confronted the culprit.

Where are my screwdrivers? I am supposed to have one of each kind in this drawer.

We need to fix you up a marked container with the tools you need, says he.

And so he did. But that meant we had to clean out the junk drawer of the flotsam and jetsam that we really no longer needed.

I now have a nicely functioning junk drawer with all the stuff I need, and I am quite happy with it.

And this post will sort of be the equivalent of a junk drawer, not that I think what I am writing is junk you understand, but I have a few odds and ends of things I wanted to write about that need someplace to live… so here they are.

+ + + + + +

I saw many Roadrunner cartoons when I was a kid (Meep! Meep!). I saw a real Roadrunner when we were in Texas visiting my husband’s father, and I followed it quite for quite a distance as it cruised through the neighborhood. Roadrunners have been extending their range in recent years into Missouri and do live here, although seeing one is quite a novelty. I certainly never ever expected to see one at my own house, but there it was, standing on the driveway right by the porch as I drove up in the car. It stood there for a minute or two and then strolled off into the brush.

+ + + + + +

When cat’s food in the dish began vanishing overnight, we knew something else besides the cat was eating it. And the fact that little muddy footprints were left all over the table where the cat’s food and water sit gave us our second clue – this was raccoon. How the raccoon was getting into eat the cat food was a bit troublesome. Our whole-house attic fan vents into that room and so there is a door to the attic in there that is open. Did we have raccoons living in our attic?

Richard got the big live trap set up, and after a few days we did indeed catch a raccoon – big one, and we intended to take her down the road about 5 miles and let her go. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, and especially for her, the plan changed because she bit Richard on the finger through the mesh of the trap before we could get her loaded into the car.

So that meant instead of her living happily ever after a few miles away, she went 25 miles down the road to the veterinarian, who put her to sleep and chopped off her head and sent it to the state laboratory for a rabies analysis. Last year on July 3, I was in the hospital with a broken arm, and this year we were dealing with this. We have decided to skip July 3 next year.

We were very happy indeed when the test came back negative, so he does not have to have the rabies shots, although I am keeping an eye on him and if he began to act strangely, I may have to get the gun out and shoot him.

We left the trap set up, and sure enough, more food was missing. I was about ready to start yelling that Richard need to get up into the attic and find out how the raccoons were getting in when I got up early morning and opened the door to see if we had caught anything. I was very surprised and also very relieved to see the tail end of a raccoon disappearing through the screen in the open window. They had carefully pulled the screen out of the frame without tearing it— so it was not immediately obvious there was anything wrong with it— and were using that as their own private “doggy door.”

+ + + + + +

A few days ago, he went shopping and I moved my car from in front of the porch to in front of the garage so that when he came back he could park close to the house to carry in the groceries. On the decorative blocks that line the concrete slab in front of the garage was beautiful green snake, sunning itself....

and  I managed to take it up and get a picture of it.

+ + + + + +

We decided to have steak sandwiches for dinner. Richard thinly sliced the onions and cooked them in the skillet until they were sort of caramelized and added mushrooms to go with them. Then it was my turn to cook the thinly sliced meat (an arm roast, not fancy steak). He said the skillet was hot but that I should put a little oil in it, so I did. I expected when I dropped the meat in that it would immediately begin to “sear” instead of boil, but the skilled did not appear to be that hot and the meat just sort of sat there. I pointed this out to Richard, that the skillet did not appear to be very hot and he said…

Look… the meat is buzzling!


But he was right. The meat had indeed started to buzzle.