Saturday, May 29, 2010

A surgery, a virus, 2 adults on the mend

OK, so it was a minor surgery...(that's being milked for EVERYthing it's worth!)...and an odd virus that came on in waves and is leaving in the same (loggie) fashion...but we are 2 mending adults.

Here's the skinny:

Last month, John had a cyst on his back drained and Thursday, had the offending sac, gland or whathaveyou totally removed...He's fine, though he says he's still a little off-kilter from the sedation. (That's the 'milking' part.) I'll be fine when he finally gets to shower tomorrow.

But that's not what brought on the virus, I really don't know what did or what the virus did except make my tum burn, provide rolling waves of tum ick and kick me on my butt but not let me sleep...and I think that was enough.

Needless to say, there hasn't been much to report on the food front: Brought in John's favorite meal - cheeseburgers - and other stuff from the Tale on Thursday, he scrounged for the guys last night but tonight, I'm 'back' on my game - ish.

Unfortunately, we had to postpone dinner at friends' tonight, so I'd better be on my game...or close to it.

With Hockey Nite in Skillman, I didn't know if the Kodiaks - or how many of them - would be looking to tame their hunger here or they'd be lookin I made lots of pork loin and a big orzo salad...

Here goes:
-Marinate the pork for anywhere from 1 hour to 4 in 1 bottle beer, 3 shredded dried ancho chiles, 2 shredded dried chipotle chiles, salt, pepper and a quarter c turbinado sugar.
-Grill on high for about 14 mins total.
-For the orzo, combine about 2 c cooked orzo with 1 lb bag corn kernels, 2 seeded and diced tomatoes, 1 small red onion frenched and about a third c crumbled feta cheese.
-Dress in combination of olive oil, salt, coarsely cracked black pepper, lime juice, dijon mustard and capers.

I'm gonna try a bit o'red wine with this ... and hope my tum will thank me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hippo Birdies, Two Ewes...

Yesterday we celebrated a birthday...for the Younger...15 years...time sure flies like those birdies!

Our family tradition is that we go out for dinner - just the 4 of us on The Day - and the honoree gets to pick where we eat. Often the boys will opt for hibachi and John will pick someplace convenient...once I chose a minor league baseball game for the dogs, beer and spectacle...but it's not my birthday and I digress per usual.

Jere chose Old Man Rafferty's in New Brunswick, not Hillsborough, but we decided to go a day early 'cuz he didn't want to stress through homework to enjoy dinner. So, as an added b'day bonus, I offered to make whatever he wanted for dinner on The Day and he came up with: My Mac 'n Cheese. In this heat? Yes, he said, I think of it as warm weather food 'cuz you put in know, the ones we grew? So they're from the summer and well, you know...

(OK, that was a couple years ago...kid has a steel food trap noggin!)

And a sweet for a candle holder? Wild Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches of course!

Here goes:
-Boil pasta in salted water until al dente; given the choice, Jere picked cavatappi since it's a tubey corkscrew and would hang onto the sauce for dear life.
-Preheat the oven to 400.
-In another pot, melt 4T butter then add 4T flour to make a roux.
-Add 4 c milk and 1 c chicken stock...recipe I use for guidance calls for all milk but I had 4 c in the jug, didn't wanna crack open the new one, so I augmented it with boxed stock in the fridge...stir constantly as you bring it to a boil.
-Add the cheese in phases, as each clump melts...I use a combo: It's what's leftover in the fridge and whatever else l feel like adding when I procure the rest...Today I used: a half lb each grated fontina and smoked gouda and I added the rest of my bbq rib meat (from our B'day Dinner, cut from the bone of course!) to the sauce.
-Season with salt and pepper and a half t each smoked paprika and aleppo pepper flakes.
-Add about a c frozen chopped spinach to the drained pasta.
-Combine the pasta in the sauce and pour into a 9 x 12 (ish) baking dish and make the topping: half c panko bread crumbs, 2 T parmesan cheese and 2 T olive oil. Mix to combine and sprinkle on the whole shebang.
-Bake until brown and bubbly...about 20 mins.

I think I'm the one who got the present from Jere: Mom, this is your best mac 'n cheese Ev-er!
Thanks Babe!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Something's in the water...

What an odd evening Thursday:
-Jere had little homework;
-Dill went to sleep at 8:30p;
-the well went dry; and
-I started thinking that some religious orders have it pretty good.

TMI? Prolly. But that's how I roll, as you know.

We made do:
-Jere found something else to occupy his evening ... XBOX;
-Dill missed dinner ... yummy Korean-style skirt steak;
-Master Mixologist neither shook nor stirred ... I poured wine; and
-I'm still mulling over those religious institutions ... think Hamlet's admonition to Ophelia.
(Or was it an admonishment? A fine line that's gotten way too fuzzy for me in the last 30-odd years.)


To accompany the steak (see Good for what ails ya! for the recipe), we had a corn salsa or corn relish or corn salad sumpthin or other...that was quite yummy.

Here goes:

-Empty a 1 lb poly bag of defrosted corn kernels into a large bowl and add 1 large ripe tomato diced, 1 avocado diced, 2 thinly sliced scallions, 2 minced garlic cloves, juice from 1 lime, a sprinkle of salt, pepper and chili powder and a shot of olive oil if you're so inclined...
-Toss and savor!

Maybe I can turn that water into gin...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Feeding my soul

I've just had the best kind of dinner: Nourishing, satisfying, unpredictable, and packed with lots of smiles. And believe it or not, the food was inconsequential.

I sat at the proverbial tables of 2 wonderful women and feasted on their wisdom and comfort...

...and can only hope I provided them with a little of each as well.

We've all been through crap...that's just life. We have scars: Some have healed to invisibility while others left only surprisingly shallow wounds...scrapes even. With a distinct honor, we sport these badges of pain, of growth and of courage.

Throughout it all, we share triumphs and pitfalls ... we're not left alone to laugh or to cry.

Friends - good friends - feed our souls: They're a fuel as important as food, as necessary as oxygen. There's no recipe for this, only chemistry.

And I'm oh so lucky that my elemental table overflows.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm gonna make curry chicken!

Huh? Oh.

Well, almost finally...

Turns out one family member doesn't find the taste of curry chicken appealing and connects the taste with yaking.

Plan B: How 'bout soup?

Soup it is....chicken with Thai influences...similar flavors without the full curry experience.

And no yaking!

Here goes:

-In a stock pot, saute 2 large minced garlic cloves and half a thinly sliced onion in olive oil.
-When translucent, add about a lb of thinly sliced chicken thighs (4 or 5 will do).
-Cook almost all the way through then add half a thinly sliced red pepper and a half t tumeric.
-Add 2 quarts boxed chicken stock and about 3 quarters can coconut milk.
-Bring to simmer, then add 1 c frozen spinach, 1 t freshly grated ginger, juice and zest of 1 lime and 1 cubed mango.
-Season with 2 t salt, 1 t freshly ground black pepper, half t white pepper and 1 t aleppo pepper.

Did it satisfy my curry tooth? Big time! And again no yaking...I hate yaking.

And yes, it satisfied my curry tooth!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'll fess up...

I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been rather uninspired of late...

...and blaming it on everything from the Bubbles to the GPS to global warming.

Maybe I've been too busy:
-looking for materials for the shower stall project;
-getting Ginger back on her freelancing feet;
-keeping the house together...

Maybe I've been too lax:
-avoiding cleaning my closet;
-avoiding dealing with bloody idiots about my health insurance bill;
-forgetting to return ill-sized appliance filters;
-evading the calls I need to make to the 3 close-but-no-cigar contractors...

Maybe I've been too frustrated:
-my closet's a mess;
-change No. 3 to tile design;
-in the 'spend $$' vs. 'expend effort' balance, Hubby's choosing the former;
-please do your homework, please do your my face blue?
-dealing with bloody idiots about my health insurance bill...

And what is that email? An Evite? Who is Alexis? Oh, my first cousin's getting married. Thank G-d I have a shower gift!

Oh yeah, there was Mother's Day...

Maybe I've just been me.

You haven't missed much: There was the cheese steak naan pizzas and the Mother's Day tapas spread...other than that, do you really wanna know that we ordered in hot subs - again? Didn't think so.

As for the Cheese Steak Pizza...

Here goes:

-Preheat oven to 450.
-Saute thinly sliced onion and bell pepper in canola oil until soft.
-Remove from pan and add sliced minute steak to saute.
-Put the naan onto a baking sheet and spread on bbq sauce (to sub in for the tomato sauce)...and top with the steak & pepper/onion mixture, then shredded cheese and bake 'til bubbly.

As for Mother's Day...'cuz my mom loves the treat of caviar, I cut 1-inch rounds from challah, toasted 'em and spread on a dollop of creme fraiche and yellow ($10 a tiny jar!) caviar...made fried oysters...a salad from leftover green beans, potatoes and yellow peppers...seasoned chicken wings...and the best fried wontons/kreplach (depending on where yer sittin) EVER...believe it or not, I ground up the leftover steak from the night before, added a bit of hoisin sauce and garlic chili sauce, tossed in a handful of bagged Asian Slaw...and wrapped it in a wonton wrapper before frying...

...Oh, and of course, I made my 'famous' bread pudding (with caramel sauce!) for dessert.

And now I'm onto design No. 4 for the shower tile...Oy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ginger's got a brand new gig

So now that I've found the chicken, it's too much of a grillin day to make curry even though the 'craving' hasn't gone away. Why is it that all I can think to make is 'cold weather' food? It's probably because I still haven't changed over my closet to summer. Oh bother.

Grillin goes better with margaritas anyway, right?

So we'll grill with a Latin flare...

I seasoned the chicken breasts with adobo seasoning and lime zest and served the slices over polenta with feta standing in for queso fresco and added a bit of cumin with salt and pepper...

...Ginger's a happy gal! Plus, she just sold a speech!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's not the Bubbles' fault

It's my GPS that's failing me...

Dunno why, but I've been hankering for curry with John workin late, I figure I'll either try to create a curry or treat the boys to take away...

So, I go to the freezer. No chicken.

So, I go to the basement freezer. No chicken.

I could've sworn I bought a package of chicken breasts 2 weeks ago.

We might've eaten it. Did we?

I honestly can't remember. I'll put it on the shopping list to make sure.

Now that I've hunted for the elusive chicken, I seriously do not feel like driving to pick up take away and I'll pass on pizza delivery.

OK Guys! How 'bout some dogs and shu mai and samosas? Yay!

Talk about a smorgasbord! The oven's cranked and dinner's a heatin.

I put my glass to chill in the freezer for my Sweetie's-not-home-it's-mediocre-martini-time, and what do I find?

Yeah, you know what I'm going to say...the chicken. Duh!

Maybe the GPS's fine afterall...Memory's the first thing to go, right?

Monday, May 3, 2010


While it may be true that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, I didn't expect to be laid low by a headache at the end of a productive day...

...and it's interfering with the Bubbles.


OK...I mentally rummaged through the freezer's Emergency Provisions of boxed pizzas, hors d'oeuvres and the like and came up with chipolte-marinated chicken skewers...that and the leftover taboule should keep 'em happy.

Me? Despite the heat, I wanted a can of chicken noodle soup...ya know, the high-sodium stuff from Camden?...but even in my grim state, I couldn't leave well enough alone...

Next time you crack open a can, try adding a squirt of lemon juice, a sprinkle of aleppo pepper flakes (or hot sauce or regular red pepper flakes) and a sprig or two of fresh parsley...does wonders!

I doctored the chicken soup and the chicken soup doctored least there was no trouble at the mill.

Mulch Mountain

My GPS was long and involved and took hours to tackle...but at least I think I got a full complement of weekly provisions...for a change!

Oh. Except for the tequila. I'll run back out later....gotta have tequila. My darling Mixologist will be making margaritas, so we neeeeeeed more tequila. Nope, I already got w(h)ine at Trader Joe's...and with my First Mate of a brother's help, I steered clear of the Shaw.

Tangy, refreshing...a perfect accompaniment to grilled strip steaks with bearnaise, long-sauteed onions, and a taboule-ish salad.

Before we could start on dinner - or get the aforementioned booze - we had to put a dent into the Mulch Mountain that appeared on our driveway while hunting, gathering and running into someone I hadn't seen in aaaaaages.

OK not to be misleading - 'cuz I'm not quite sure last night's sangria worked a full dose of magic on my Darling John - but when I saw the MM, he had already made quite a dent and then I assisted by artfully spreading it.

And only then did I go out for the tequila...but it was worth it!

Here goes:

Taboule-ish: It's 'ish' because I didn't have bulgur wheat, so I used couscous instead...there's no 'ish' about the Yummies!
-Zest a whole lemon into almost 3 c water and bring to a boil. Add a c and a half couscous, stir, slap on the lid, turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 mins then fluff with fork.
-Pluck, rinse and spin dry the leaves from a whole bunch of flat-leaf parsely. Chop - somewhere between coarse and fine - and dump into a large bowl.
-Dice 1 peeled and seeded cucumber and 3 seeded plum tomatoes and throw 'em - along with 3 thinly sliced scallions and the couscous - into the bowl.
-Add juice of 2 lemons, 1 T salt, 1 and a half t ground black pepper and 2 to 3 T olive oil.
-Toss and's always better the second day...if there's any left.

Bearnaise: So easy!
-Melt a stick of butter.
-In a small saute pan, reduce 2 T champagne vinegar & 2 T white wine (I had rose, so I used rose) with 2 med minced shallots by half.
-In a blender, whir the cooled shallot mixture with 1 egg yolk, 1 T minced fresh tarragon leaves, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.
-Slowly add the melted butter as the blender's still going...add 2 T more tarragon and whir for for a sec just to blend...

John muddled limes and mixed incredible margaritas, grilled the steaks to med rare juicy perfection seasoned with just some salt and pepper... but as good as those steaks were, they're just a mechanism for gettin that bearnaise into my mouth. A spoon would be gauche...right? (Sorry, 'bout that French speakers!)


Unfortunately for everyone, that was our mood not our menu.

We schlepped hither and yon: Looking at tile - I like this; John likes that; It's HOW MUCH a square foot? - looking at shower doors - 3 weeks to order??? - and garden center after garden center - 'cuz 1 just isn't enough!

So it didn't take long for the crankies to set in...especially after 145 thousand tile options and nearly as many plants!

The 'plan' had been to treat ourselves to a light dinner out - appetizers, drinks, oooo and maybe dessert - but you know what happens with plans...they turn into Suz Serves Sustenance.

I needed help on short notice and beseeched to the Bubbles..."Ommmm, Opalescent Bubbles...Dinner needs to be quick, tasty and do its best to Cure my Cantankerous Crowd...Ommmm."

Pop! Chopped meat for sliders...
Pop! Shrimp to grill...
Pop! Sangria to take the edge off...

Here goes:

-For 15 mins (more time, less time: doesn't matter), marinate 1 lb shrimp in zest from 3-quarters of a lemon and its juice, a half t chili powder, 2 T sliced scallions, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 t salt and a half t ground black pepper. Lance 'em with (water-logged bamboo) skewers. Grill 'til pink.

-Into 1 lb (80/20) chopped meat, combine zest of a quarter lemon, a half t fenugreek powder, leaves from 5 stems of fresh thyme, a quarter lb crumbled feta, 3 T sliced scallions, a half t ground black pepper and 1 T garlic infused (if ya still got it hangin around, plain if ya don't) olive oil. Form into baby burgers (don't forget the imprint on the top!) and grill to your liking.

-Into a pitcher, pour 1 750-ml bottle sturdy red wine and a half c B&B (it's what I had, any nice brandy or cognac will do).
-Add a half t turbinado sugar, 3 quarters of an apple sliced, 1 lime sliced, 1 lemon sliced, 1 plum sliced and 3 mandarin/clementine oranges sliced.
-Top off with ice and enjoy...

Just the ticket to soothe the blood and extricate the crabs.