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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Okra Perloo

TheHub had a work related dinner meeting, I had begun a menu challenge and nothing sounded good or bad, so I opted for what was easiest. I always have cooked bacon in the freezer and I always have a jar of bacon fat in the freezer as well. The rest of this meal just required a tad of chopping and minimal cook time, so it won!

Okra Perloo*

2 slices bacon, cooked, save the drippings
1/2 onion diced
1/2 bell pepper diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, ribbed and minced
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 cup sliced okra (supposedly you can use fresh or frozen, but I used fresh)
1/2 cup rice
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook the bacon, remove from the pan and reserve 1 tablespoon drippings
In a saute pan or sauce pot att eh drippings and bring them to a medium high heat. Throw in the onions and peppers and cook for about 2 minutes. Put the okra in the pan and leave without stirring until the "slapping sound" stops. Then give everything a good stir, add the rice and chicken broth. (I added an additional 1/2 cup of water because it looked like it needed it. Bring the rice mixture to a boil, slap a lid on the pot, reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 more minutes until the rice is cooked thoroughly. Put into bowls and crumble the bacon on top of each.  This makes 2 dinner servings or 4 side dish servings.
The bacon flavor permeates the rice and any slime factor that okra is famous for is absorbed by the rice. When I make this again I will increase the jalapenos because I like heat in my food and this has just a hint of "hot" This is a perfect one bowl meal for those nights when you are tired of the usual and want something a little different.

* Perloo must be a 50 cent word for Pilaf because it really is a bacon flavored pilaf with okra.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shelftember Week 2

This began week 2 of Shelftember where I am concentrating on using up a good bit of food storage from the freezer and pantry and only buying produce, milk and bread. I did add a codicil to my plan that if I found something at stock up prices I was going to go ahead and buy it, but would not use it at all during this challenge. I am very glad I did because ThePig has had a great buy on ground chuck and I have purchased about 15 pounds of it, processed it and it now lives in nice flat freezer bags for future use.*

Tuesday: In anticipation of Irma  blowing in and knocking down a few trees which would cause a loss of power, I rearranged the upright freezer so I could transfer everything from the refrigerator freezer in the kitchen to the laundry room. I have a portable generator which supplies enough power to be able to run both, but they are not close enough to each other to actually do it and I will always choose saving the freezer foods. So___Irma came and went with a whimper here, but I was left with a few things I had taken out to thaw as "just in case easy to cook in the dark" meals. Which meant I had to use them. TheHub was not going to be around for dinner so I chose the easiest course of action, and made an Indianish  pork and rice (emphasis on the ish ) This was truly delicious
Used: Sliced roast pork from the freezer, 1/2 onion. can of  diced tomatoes, small handful of baby carrots, 1/2 cauliflower, rice, leftover yogurt, clove garlic, hunk of ginger.

Wednesday: TheHub had to work late again (Same guy in town as the night before but he opted out of the dinner this time. He is in the office by 6:30 nearly every morning and if he has to go to a dinner meeting it means his work day is nearly 14 hours long. Even though he is eating he still has to be in business mode, and 2 14 hour days in a row is more than he likes) He was fried by the time he got home and not terribly hungry and declared he wanted spinach pies from Taboon Noon Since we can do takeout for 10 bucks total and the food is fairly good for us, it was a winner!

Thursday: TheHub was out of the office and came home relatively early for him, but still was not terribly hungry. I had taken a package of sliced turkey from the freezer and made some turkey gravy from one of those cheap packaged gravy mixes. We had open faced turkey sandwiches with gravy on top and a side of sliced tomatoes. Totally uninspired, but fodder nonetheless.
Used: Frozen turkey slices, 4 slices bread, 1 huge tomato, cheap turkey gravy packet

Friday: Friday was my birthday, but we had been to a funeral out of town and both had eaten lunch very late in the afternoon. We had planned a celebration out but were not hungry at a normal dinner time. Instead at about 9:15 we went to Firebirds for a couple of appetizers and drinks then decided we would go to  Highlands, our favorite restaurant in town, in a couple of weeks and celebrate both of our birthdays. We only go there a couple of times a year because you pay dearly for the impeccable service and extraordinary food but it is purposely in our T and E budget every year. Since we do not buy each other birthday gifts this will be our mutual present, and then on TheHubs actual birthday, I will make whatever he wants for dinner along with a speciality cocktail or two.

Saturday: TheHub and Son2 went to the Alabama/Colorado State game so I was alone for dinner. I had some assorted leftovers and ate what could be zapped for a minute. I could be uppity and call it a tapas meal but I am not sure a tablespoon of green beans, a couple of tablespoons of rice, and a half of a cucumber plus about 1/4 cup of leftover Indian counts as tapas. Not great but it used what I had on hand, was quick and I had only one plate and fork to clean up.
Used: Several small containers of leftover assorted items.

Sunday: TheHub decided we were having a birthday meal, so I pulled 6 hamburger patties from the freezer. We had planned on cooking out but the rain had other plans for us. Instead of a burger I cooked them on the stovetop, added a little gravy then served broccoli, saffron rice and rolls. TheHub bought a cake. Whoopee!!!
Used: 6 frozen hamburger patties, frozen container of gravy, 1 pack frozen broccoli, 1 pack yellow rice with additional saffron, frozen rolls

Monday: I had some okra that had to be cooked, I was going to be the only one here  for dinner and nothing sounded good or bad. I had recently read an article about meals in the slave quarters of the American South in the early 1800's. One of the items mentioned was something called okra perloo which I had not only never eaten but had never heard of before, so I did a quick Google search and low and behold I found it several places. It is more like a rice pilaf with okra in it, but it was tasty, quick and easy to eat while I was reading.
Used: Rice, 2 slices bacon*8, bacon fat, okra, onion, frozen diced bell pepper, frozen jalapeno

*Using a vacuum sealer extends the freezer life of meat products greatly. This ground chuck will last many months.
** I cook several pounds of bacon at one time, drain them well, put them on a cookie sheet to freeze, then pack in containers. That way I can easily pull out a slice of 2 as needed. After cooking the bacon I strain the leftover bacon grease and keep it in a pint jar in the freezer. I don't use it often for cooking but when I do the flavor it adds is remarkable.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bound and Gagged By a Plan

I read many different blogs with many points of view about life and pick up hints for daily living, alternative thinking and a load of glimpses about how different people organize their lives. I fail miserably at organization and tend to live more of a pass then punt life. I am terribly fickle and live my days whichever way the wind is blowing. It does cut out on the stress levels if you have only a vague idea of what you want to accomplish each day rather than a plan because often things do go awry. But sometimes vagueness tag teams with indecisiveness and things I really wanted to do go undone.


Today I am jumping into the deep end of the pool with something that is as normal as breathing to most of you, but this is something I balk at all the time. I am going to try to have a real life, big girl weekly menu plan and stick to it.

For the month of September I am trying to use items from my food storage (freezer and pantry) buying only fresh produce, milk and bread as necessary. (And yes. I am perfectly capable of making my own bread but it is just not going to happen) I rustled through the freezer this morning and pulled out several days worth of meal possibilities, thought about what I could make with them and am committing (fingers crossed) to a plan. (I am already feeling a little figurative claustrophobia at the thoughts of being bound to a menu.)

I am not assigning days to this plan, but am labeling it 1-7 leaving one night this week open for The Greek Food Festival, an annual event that we will NOT miss! By planning 7 meals it gives me the option to change my mind one time, and my mind always needs alternate plans!

1. Spaghetti with bolognese sauce, side salad
2. Chicken sausage with cabbage, steamed carrots
3.Ham and cheese puff, apple and fennel salad, broccoli
4. Meatloaf, roasted cauliflower, tomato slices, jasmine rice
5. Taco salad with all the fixings (tomato, peppers, onions, pinto beans, salsa, on mixed greens)
6. Grilled white bbq chicken, green beans, tomatoes and cukes, rice maybe (who knows yet)
7. Okra perloo

Looking at this menu all I will need to buy is a fennel bulb. tomatoes, salad greens, green peppers and a cucumber.



Things to make or bake
Egg muffins (I hate breakfast but hopefully I will eat one of these each morning)
Brownies (because, well__chocolate)
Pudding (I have a ton of milk that needs to be used)
Dinner rolls (Maybe maybe not. Depends on my mood)


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Indianish with a Side of Sadness

I had taken out a package of sliced pork roast when I reshuffled the big freezer to make room for the items I keep in the freezer section of the refrigerator, as I was getting ready for some sort of power loss during Hurricane Irma. I am so sad that Cuba took a thrashing, but it did lessen the impact when it hit Florida and by the time it made it to us there was little more than rain and a few gusts. Our lights never even flickered, but by Tuesday I needed to start using the things I had taken out to thaw to make quick meals in the dark.

I was contemplating what to do with the pork slices when Shelby, the dog, appeared. I cut her a couple of small nibbles and without any thought kept cutting until it was all in cubes. So if anyone deserves credit/blame for this meals it's Shelby.

TheHub had a work dinner meeting and I was cooking just for me so I decided I could have whatever suited my fancy. TheHub is not a huge fan of Indian cuisine, which made it the perfect night for me to indulge myself. It would be even more perfect is I actually followed a recipe instead of just using my typical wing and a prayer approach, but typical of me I did not; which is why this is more ish than Indian.

1 tablespoon olive oil*
1 onion sliced
1 small handful baby carrots cut in "coins"
1 can diced tomatoes, drained, reserve liquid
1/2 head cauliflower in florets
1 clove garlic
1 slice fresh garlic
salt to taste (I used none but I am not a huge salt fan)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
couple of shakes of red pepper flakes (my tastes, but adjust downward if you do not like heat)
1 cup (ish) diced cooked pork
yogurt (optional)

In a large pan saute' the onions  and carrots in the olive oil until they begin to wilt. Add the cauliflower, garlic and ginger stirring until everything is wilted and fragrant, but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes and keep stirring until the mixture is almost dry. Sprinkle with the seasonings and stir them through.  Add the reserved tomato liquid and additional water as needed to make a sauce. Plop the pork in the pan and continue stirring. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until everything is nicely hot.  Serve over hot rice,  add a dollop of yogurt sprinkled with a bit more garam masala and enjoy!

Son2 and Girlfriend2 stopped by after a heartbreaking 24 hours. She lost her father unexpectedly late Monday night and they came here to decompress. I was so thankful I had cooked this because it made enough for all three of us, was comforting, and gave us some quality time to have a communal meal and conversation. I am so sad for her, but so thankful she feels comfortable enough to come and share her grief at my home. Hoping and praying that she will be blanketed with peace.


*I used a large copper finish non-stick pan. Using a regular pan might require a little more oil to keep the veggies from sticking

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Still Getting My Learning On

I learned this most valuable tip from Son2 recently and thought I would pass it on.

I was doing laundry, started doing other chores and completely forgot about the load of clothes in the dryer. If it had been towels or sheets I would have just folded them and put them away, but this was a load of clothes that were wrinkled beyond the folding stage. I was kicking myself in the butt for forgetting about them and dreading the thoughts of ironing everything when he offered this brilliant solution. Put the clothes back in the dryer with 3 or 4 ice cubes and dry for 5 minutes.

Voila! The ice melted and provided just enough steam coupled with the rotation of the clothes in the dryer to knock out the wrinkles. How come I never thought of that. Slow learner, I guess?

Another great tip___Head over to Sluggy's at Don't Read This; It's Boring!
She has a girly girl giveaway going on so hop over and enter! Like she said__Someone has to win so it might as well be you. (or me!)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Shelftember First Full Week

Because I found out about Shelftember after the first of the month, I just began this the day I found out about and counted 7 days worth of meals. I had some successes and some failures but I am posting this guilt free no matter what. As of last week I have spent much less than I usually would, and not bought many items, but we did run into a couple of time warps. Life!

Tuesday: I did not feel like cooking and TheHub had eaten at a Chinese restaurant for lunch so what was I to do? Sandwiches, of course! We had some bologna (one of TheHub's recreational shopping buys) cheese, humongous tomatoes, a hunk of onion in the fridge and a half of a loaf of bread. I toasted 2 slices of bread for each sandwiches under the broiler, turn them over and put sliced gouda and chopped onion on one side and bologna on the other and ran them back under the broiler till the cheese melted and the onion wilted a little. Each sandwich got a huge slice of tomato and a smear of mayo, and that was good enough for a low keyed weeknight meal. TheHub ate the last of the ice cream after dinner, so I see a recreational shopping trip for him unless I beat him to the punch Wednesday. Day1 of Shelftember is in the books.
Used: leftover bologna, 3 slices gouda, 1/2 tomato. 2 slices of onion.4 slices bread, mayonnaise

Wednesday: I had to go to my new attorney (Thank you to the person in my life who is drawing several of us who have nothing to do with anything into her own personal "Jerry Springer" lawsuit Hell. There is nothing greater than giving up 2 days of my life plus legal fees to be deposed for something I know little about and care about even less) Immediately after that I had to run cancel the refrigerator I bought for Mom on Tuesday and find a different fridge that could be delivered asap. I got home later than I like Wednesday evening (oh yeah, because I had to look for the fridge at 3 different places and go to a fourth to cancel the sale), I foraged the freezer for something quick and relatively easy. (because I forgot to take anything out in advance)  Finding nothing that could be ready in 10 minutes or less we did the logical thing and went out to eat!  Oh well!

Thursday: TheHub and I were both on unusual schedules today and he ate later than he normally does at lunch so he was not very hungry at dinner time. I pulled out about a half a pound of frozen browned ground beef, a can of beans and created a taco salad over a big bowl of lettuceI had a bag of tortilla chips so I added 4 to the side of each salad and called it good enough. It was really pretty tasty and more then filling for the late lunch crows.
Used: 1 small pack frozen ground beef, the leftover tomato half, 1 thick slice of the leftover onion, half a head of lettuce, the tail end of a bag of shredded cheddar (leftover from Son 3's visit), can of navy beans8 tortilla chips, salsa from the fridge 1 half head of lettuce.

Friday: Tonight we were having an easy night in, but by the time I finished all of the  Mom duties for the day, it was nearly 7 and no thought had been given to dinner. TheHub worked late since I was doing Mom things and we both pulled in the driveway at the same time. I suppose I could have come in and rustled up some sort of meal but instead I hopped in his car and we headed to a local meat and 3 to grab a take out vegetable dinner. Yumlicious!
I did make a yogurt pie this morning so At least I used something I had on hand.
Used: graham cracker crumbs from the freezer, leftover yogurt (from Son3's visit, whipping cream (left from same visit) 1 package sugar free lime jello

Saturday: I had a special request for Saturday night.  It was a ball game night and TheHub wanted something we could easily eat in the den while we watched the games (euphemism for sitting with
the remote and flipping back and forth between 4 games). Pasties and a glass of wine. Great pair!
Used: 1 cup(ish) Bisquick, shortening, additional flour, 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 onion, 1 carton mushrooms, 3 carrots, 1/2 bag spinach, last of a bottle of barely drinkable wine, couple of tablespoons heavy cream.

Sunday: I had about some browned ground beef left over from the freezer pack I used Saturday night, so it became the featured player in the Sunday meal. I made a very simple beef and veggie casserole and a side of marinated cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. In addition I made a pineapple upside down cake because TheHub is starting to notice he is out of ice cream and if I have a dessert available for him I might be able to deflect his recreational shopping habit for a couple of days.
Used: 1/3 pound ground beef, 1/2 onion, carton of mushrooms, 1/2 can mushroom soup (had no idea I even had that in the pantry) small pack chopped zucchini (frozen) about 1/4 bag of shredded hash browns (freezer) 1/2 cup shredded cheese, can crushed pineapple, pineapple cake mix (thought it was a yellow cake when I bought it)

Monday: Because of potential high winds, which almost always means loss of power around here, I sorted through the freezer to make room so I could move everything from the refrigerator freezer to the big one in the laundry room. We all know an unopened big freezer stays frozen for a couple of days, so it just made sense. While I was rearranging I found a full container of dressing. (Cornbread stuffing that is baked in a pan for you non-southern types). Our dinner was chicken and dressing. sliced tomatoes and green beans and some Levian Bakery type  cookies (they are so good)
Used: 4 frozen chicken thighs, container of dressing,green beans from big Trader's Joe's frozen bag,
1 tomato, flour, butter, sugar, brown sugar,1 egg, 1/2 bag chocolate chips.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pasties, It's Not What You're Thinking

Before I get into the main point of this post please allow me to share with you what our Saturday's during the college football season are like. We wake and turn on ESPN's GameDay. Generally I take a look to see where they are, I look at the crowd to try and find the Washington State University flag. (So impressed with those guys who must have a boatload of time and money on hand to go to every single GameDay broadcast with their WSU flag.) Then I go about my business and come back just before 11 to see which mascot head/hat/headdress Lee Corso dons as his Gameday final prediction. This week he chose Brutus Buckeye. Bzzzzzz! Wrong pick Lee! Oklahoma State lead by Baker Mayfield won the game. (How sad is it that I am an old Alabama gal yet I know Baker Mayfield is the Oklahoma State quarterback. Does this give it away that I am the sole female in household of guys?)

Anyway, TheHub went to the Alabama game with Son2 and wanted something "totable" for dinner when they returned. Saturdays during football season are the only nights in the year that we might possibly eat in the den instead of at the table, and that is only if the night games are particularly good.
This week's were Clemson/Auburn, Notre Dame/Georgia. South Carolina/ Missouri and USC/Stanford. We watched Clemson/Auburn mainly but flipped back and forth among the others to keep up with them. After the Auburn game was over we watched the last quarter and a half of Georgia /Notre Dame, so it was worth making an easy, neat dinner that was self contained, relatively decent for us and survived sudden outbursts and yells!

Lest you think with the headline post "pasties' that I have taken a new job working the pole at Sammy's Go Go lounge, rest assured this is referencing a dinner recipe, not "clothing" of an exotic nature.

                                              Pasties, it's what's for dinner!

Pastry Crust for a double crust pie (homemade or purchased, no judgements)
1/2 pound ground beef (browned)
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 carton mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1-1/2 bag cleaned spinach (I had 1/2 bag in the fridge that was hidden under the lettuce so__)
1/2 cup wine (leftover from Son3's recent visit, bad for drinking, great for cooking)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons heavy cream (leftover from Son3)

Brown the ground beef, toss in the carrots and onions and cook until both are tender, adding the wine as needed for liquid. (If it gets too dry add more wine or water, but wine is better) Throw in the mushrooms and let them soften, then add the spinach and let it wilt. Give every thing a good stir, add the seasonings and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture is almost dry. Stir in the heavy cream and continue cooking until it is reduced by half, then remove from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, roll the crust into 4 thin circles about the size of a breakfast plate. (If I had used  pre-made crusts I would not have rerolled it, I would have just taken it from the tin, put it on a pastry cloth and made a giant pastie (because I am an efficient time manager lazy) but I actually made my crust* so I did the 4 balls rolled into circles thing.

Put about 1/2-3/4  cup of the mixture into the center of the pie crust dough in a nice compact mound fold the top over the bottom and seal together using the tines of a fork to press the dough together. Trim off any excess. (which I did not do because I didn't care what it looked like since it was just the two of us so I just pressed it together with my fingers and it was not pretty. Carefully place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 15 -20 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. If you try to take them off the pan too soon you will have nothing but a broken crust and a big mess. Remove with a wide spatula and serve. Ummmmmm!

*Since the aim of my cooking this month is to use us some of my food storage items, I used about a cup and a half of Bisquick then added enough flour and shortening and water to make 2 crusts. Because the Bisquick has leavening in it, I did get a weird rise, but like I said it was just the two of us and it didn't matter.  The taste was the same and now an additional box is gone from the pantry. Double win!