Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chef (not) on drugs.

My doctor says I have a Thoracic-Lumbar strain and that I should come up with a more exciting story about how it happened (something other than we were running around the mall looking for a lamp). He also suggested that I blame it on my husband.

I came home with a messy prescription with three things written on it. One was a refill of my allergy medicine, which I didn't need today, one was a mild muscle relaxant, and I'm pretty sure that the third one was for Tylenol with codeine. Well, I dropped it off on my way home with the intention of picking it up on our way to the celebratory dinner we were attending for one of R's projects. When we drove through the pick up window I asked why I was only getting one. Her response: "The other one was for over the counter Tylenol."

We didn't have time to argue, but I'll have to go back today. My doctor actually said "They're going to mess this up." The pharmacist wouldn't know this obviously, but why would he confirm that I am not allergic to codeine if he is not giving me any, and --the pharmacist should have questioned this--why did he write "20 [pills] 1 refill" next to a Rx for a bottle of Tylenol that I was supposed to buy. He prescribed this knowing that I had already tried Tylenol and Advil, and that neither had worked.

So grr. I wasn't exactly planning on taking the codeine during the day. I do have to drive, and generally function. He gave it to me because the back pain is making it hard for me to fall asleep.

For the time being I really need to figure out what I cooking for my client today. It's already almost 8:00.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Soup and a sandwich

Today was a very long day. I had two clients, so I was at the grocery store for about 8:40, at the first client's from 9:40-1:40, then at the other's from 2:00-6:10.

Dinner was extra Tomato Soup with Chickpeas & Pasta and a grilled turkey, smoked gouda & tomato sandwich on "sourdough", which R and I split. I had no intentions of doing more cooking by the time I got home at 6:30.

(blurry, bad lighting, taken on the coffee table just before eating it photo)


Tomorrow should be a full day as well. I'm supposed to cook one last time for my bad handwriting client (who, by the way, did not mail my check as she said she would). It better be on the counter when I get there; otherwise I'm taking my groceries home. After that I'm going to see my doctor about my bad back. I really only wanted to call and see if he thought I should come in, but I ended up with a 3:30 appointment. I'm not sure that he'll be able to do anything for me, but it's worth a shot.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chefcats

"Meow meow meow meow."

"What?"

"Meow meow meow MEOW" (runs down stairs)

"I got it. Someone needs computer time. Here, you take her."

video

This one, on the other hand, doesn't do much for the camera:

video

Ginger-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wanted to do something with the crystallized ginger I had, but I didn't feel like a molasses-y ginger snap. I found this recipe via GingerPeople.com.

I doubled the recipe and came out with 4 dozen cookies using my cookie scoop, baking half and freezing the other half on a baking sheet. I'll throw those in a ziplock bag and pull them out when we want a few fresh-baked cookies. I also used organic transfat-free shortening instead of butter as butter cookies get too flat for my liking.

They are a bit more cake-like than my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, but they're still good. I wish I'd gotten a picture of R's chocolate-covered lips after he bit into one that was still warm!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Plans for dinner

R and I are going to the theater tonight (a musical, but if I told you which one you might try to search and figure out where I live!). We live only a few minutes away so we have decided to do dinner at home and then head straight there.

As much as I knew I'd regret it, I decided to go to my favorite grocery store instead of the one near my house. I hate shopping there on the weekends because the suburbanites invade it, parking is crazy and people just stand in the produce department in amazement and block my path!

We had steak at our friends' house last night, and R was fed a hamburger at the Habitat site, so I decided to buy some wild coho salmon. I picked up some broccoli and was thinking I'd do something with the sweet potatoes I have (maybe some sort of souffle with jalapeños and shallots), but then I remembered we have leftover soup. I'm now thinking I may make some rice with the jalapeños and shallots, stuff the salmon with that and roast the fillets along with the broccoli. I can make the rice ahead of time and stuff them, and just throw them in the oven when we're ready to eat.

I also bought some crystallized ginger. If I don't eat it all as a snack, there is a gingersnap recipe floating around out there somewhere that I may try to make tomorrow. The freezer bag of chewy cherry oatmeal cookies I made two weekends ago is almost empty, and someone gets a little cranky when he's out of cookies...

Update:

We are back from the show. R is upstairs making white russians. I wanted to add a picture of dinner:

Coho Salmon stuffed with pineapple-jalapeño basmati rice



I sauteed a shallot and a jalapeño in a tsp each of butter and olive oil, then sauteed the rice (1/2 cup for 2 servings) in that for a bit. I didn't want to use just water, and we didn't have chicken broth in anything smaller than quart-sized packages, but I spotted several little cans of pineapple juice in the pantry. I figured that would work nicely with the jalapeno.

I made pockets in the fillets and stuffed them, baking them at 400 until the fish was done and roasting some broccoli on the side and finished it off with a bit of cilantro (it definitely need it for color).

Dinner!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

mmm...soup

I made butternut squash soup today for my client, and it was such a nice recipe I decided to make it for dinner tonight, along with some crab cakes.

I did not make the crab cakes.

Yes, even I succumb to premade items. I'm just lucky that I have a store that makes good crab cakes.

I tried to take a picture of the soup, but the lighting was bad and I was hungry. All I could get was this embarrassingly blurry photograph:



The dark swirl is aged balsamic vinegar, which the recipe suggested using as a garnish/finish. You can find the recipe here.

In other, non food-related news, my back is still killing me. I didn't get home until almost 4:00 (I would have been home earlier but I had to buy some gold lame fabric), and immediately lay down on the wood floor with my feet up on a chair. Eventually R came home from the gym with some wal-cetominophen and a Thermocare heat wrap. Ibuprofen has done absolutely nothing for me, so I'm trying something new.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I like getting paid to cook.

Note the operative word: paid

I cannot get paid when the bank teller cannot read your handwriting. That's two checks worth of service you'll have to re-write and send to me ASAP.

My client who had a stroke and taught himself how to write with his left hand writes better than this:



Have I even mentioned the personal chef thing?

I don't think so.

Yes, I'm a personal chef. I cook for people in their homes. I have several clients; I don't just work for one family full time. I haven't cooked for anyone famous, but I have cooked for an ex-con (white collar). Now that was a kitchen. Oh, to have a walk-in refrigerator...

It didn't last though, and I was kind of relieved. That family needed someone who would be there all the time and make a grilled cheese sandwich or shrimp cocktail on demand. I have no desire to be that kind of chef. I'm a business owner, not part of the staff (and this house definitely had a staff).

At the moment I have maybe 11 or 12 regular clients. It's a mix of regular folk, some with better kitchens than others. This morning I'm dillydallying. I really should get out of here, but I think I'd rather drink another cup of coffee and let my hair dry a little more. I'm dreading dragging my crap up my client's townhouse stairs. I did a number on my back on Sunday (the result of speed walking through the mall in super-flat shoes) and I've been in pain since Monday morning.

R is off in the burbs for a conference and won't be home until after dinner. That means I might eat cereal for dinner, or maybe a sandwich. Last night we ate thawed out leftovers from the recipe testing I'm doing. It was too healthy, so I'm thinking I should have something more fun this evening.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering. I took the picture at the top of this page. It's a paella I made for a client.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Something other than pizza

For years before we were married, R's standard Sunday night dinner was Pizza. He would then eat leftover pizza Monday night and Tuesday night. Wednesday and Thursday were probably sandwiches, and on the weekends he'd go out.

These days we do still eat pizza, but not every Sunday night as his cholesterol is a bit high. (And I don't want to gain "married weight"!) We have a great place around the corner and it is always tempting to call and pick up, but I decided to cook.

We'd spent much of the afternoon running around looking for a lamp. We still have quite a few gift cards from the wedding, but after running from one end of the mall to another and back, along with stops at Crate & Barrel, Pier One, and Bombay, we came home with only the serving utensils to our stainless and a silicon pastry mat (for me, of course).

Dinner was a typical "clean out the pantry/fridge" concotion: a baked pasta dish with turkey, butternut squash, and some homemade tomato sauce that was in the freezer:


It looks like a ton, but that's a small casserole dish.

Tonight, I joined just about everyone here in town and made soup. I'm sure there was plenty of chili to be had, but I decided on Pasta e Fagioli. I didn't manage to take any pictures, but I filled up a 5 1/2 quart pot. Plenty for tonight and plenty more in the freezer.

As much as I despise her more than any other food network "personality," I used a recipe from Rachel Ray. I have never bought her cookbooks, but I have a copy in my MasterCook software. I used some smoked sausage (R needs meat) instead of pancetta, used a little more tomato than it called for, and let it simmer a lot longer. It was tasty, and was nice on this evening that finally feels like Fall.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dueling appliances

It has been several weekends since R and I cooked breakfast on the weekend. Last weekend I had to be out of the house early, and yesterday he was up early to work on a Habitat for Humanity house.

We finally rolled out of bed around 10:30. We were up late watching a horrible football game. We started out at a sport sbar, but I had to leave when the place was taken over by Ultimate Fighting. Booo.

Anyway, we settled on waffles, so I grabbed my King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion and found a Pumpkin Praline Waffle recipe. I had no pecans, but I did have a can of pumpkin. I made the batter and pulled out R's Belgian waffle maker. We didn't wait long enough before opening it, and there was too much batter in the iron, so they came apart and turned to mush.

I then got out my 50+ year old waffle iron, because the recipe did call for using a traditional iron:



(Notice the completely uninsulated chrome and the wooden skewer I subbed for the handle.)

The first batch in my iron didn't turn out so well either. Again, I probably just didn't cook them long enough.



(folded up waffle on the bacon pan. We ate the bacon as an "appetizer"...)

Next, I decided to pull out my electric skillet. Pancakes! They were a bit too heavy.



By then I had made a second batch in my iron, but I let it cook a little too long:



Finally, we just decided to stick with the Belgian waffles.



The rest of the rejects will go into the freezer for another day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sports and craft

R spent just enough time at home depot for me to complete a project.

I watched (listened to, really) the Florida-Kentucky game while I sewed a case for my knitting needles. Before, they were just all tossed in a small tote bag.

I looked around online and got some ideas, and just went from there. All I have left to do is give it some sort of closure. I was working with things I had on hand (a random place mat, some scrap fabric, thread that didn't really match, etc.), and will probably pick something up later this week.



Friday, October 19, 2007

Other Hobbies

Not working today, I ran some errands. I bought some shoes and went to the grocery store--where three cute Italian men flirted with me after I asked if I could help them find something; I practically live there. (Why else would I be there on a day off)

I have volunteered to do some recipe testing for Lorna Sass, so I was buying ingredients for one of those. It will be dinner if we don't have other plans. Unfortunately I will not be able to share that recipe (or any information on the testing process) on here!

The day has completely disappeared. It is almost 5:00 R. will be home soon, and I had hoped to get a little sewing done. I have some small pieces of fabric that I'm hoping to turn into a thingamajig that will hold my sewing needles.

So yes, I cook, sew and knit. I'm so domestic.

This is what I'm working on at the moment:



It's from a 1951 Fleisher's knitting pattern magazine of "Bed Jackets." I found it while I was visiting my in-laws last month. She had a box of knitting paraphernalia that her sister had picked up at auctions. I found it in there.

I originally thought it was going to take years to finish, but I have only a few more inches of sleeve to finish. Then I get to start decreasing and working on the neck. I may actually be able to wear it this winter!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's not all about the food

One of the reasons I gave up on the food blogs was that it was hard to make something every day that was worth blogging about. For that reason, this isn't going to be all about food. I'm going back to my roots.

Ten years ago I started an online journal. Having recently come across a zipdisk of files, and thankfully having a zip drive in the house, I now have access to all of it.
I was sure creative with that HTML...
(note, it's not surprising, but the links don't work)

Ten years ago tomorrow


And some fun excerpts:

October 21, 1997

Brrr. I just ran outside with the garbage. Brrr. I wonder how cold it is right now. The weather person on the local public radio station said this morning that it's going to snow tomorrow. This early?? First they said thursday, now they're saying wednesday, but I just looked at the weather channel and it doesnt look like it's going to get this far east, at least not until later tomorrow. I'm waiting for the local forecast, but they're showing an El Nino special. Oooh. There's another episode of El Nino focus tomorrow. I better tape it.


October 24, 1997
"...I am a good person, I am beautiful, I can feel my breasts doubling in size as I lay here listening to my tapes...grow boobs, grow!"
(Upon reading an ad in the back of Cosmo.)

October 25, 1997

I think one of the reasons I quit dancing was because I started getting tired of the music. It may have been a sign that we'd been there too long, but the dj played several songs twice. That annoys me. I'm really sick of that tub thumping song, and I really only heard it for the first time the other day. I also get tired of 70's music after a while. All that stuff was ok a few years ago, when the whole retro thing was novel, but now I'm pretty tired of 'I will survive' and 'YMCA.'
(Funny, I'm still tired of the whole retro thing)

October 26, 1997
There was a DJ the last night at the conference, and the guy came up to my mom with the microphone and said "so, I hear you're the one who started the food fight. . .Will you throw one more for us?' So he handed her a roll and she launched it all the way across the room. Gee I have a crazy mom. (She's still crazy...)

Believe it or not, I actually had quite a few readers when I stopped writing some time in 2000.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Meatloaf a la Mother-in-Law

My husband's favorite food in the world is his mother's meatloaf. Before we got married (almost 7 months ago now), I asked her for the recipe. Tonight, I finally made it.

I did not grow up eating meatloaf. My mom grew up eating meatloaf, and apparently decided that she would not subject her children to the weekly meatloaf she ate growing up. My husband's parents are actually closer in age to my maternal grandparents. That must be why he grew up eating it. Unlike my mom, he enjoyed it, which makes me think this may be a better recipe. It's from a 1974 McCall's Magazine.

The recipe:


(She even sent me a copy of the photo!!)

I followed the recipe exactly:



The only difference is I used all pork instead of pork and veal.

I even tried to make sure it was the proper size,



but I soon discovered that there was no way I was going to fit all that meat in the proportions called for in the recipe. The bacon went on and it went into the oven. I baked it by temperature and not so much by time. Otherwise I think we would have starved because I didn't put it in the oven until around 6:40!


And in all it's Heinz Chili sauce-glazed glory (I'm so glad it doesn't look like the photo):


Oh, and I also made some oven-fried green tomatoes. I was shopping for some organic tomatoes the other day and noticed they had some green ones. They would have been greener if I'd made them day earlier:



They came out wonderfully:

(Recipe can be found here)

We'll see if this one takes

Ever since giving up on my blog on our local newspaper's website, I have briefly created other blogs. I just couldn't stick with them. Lately I've had a bit more of an urge to get back into things. I even e-mailed the guy in charge of the blogs about coming back, but I haven't heard from him. For the time being, here I am.

The first interim blog involved nothing but photographs of food I was cooking at home for my husband and myself, but he got impatient about not being able to eat until I had taken a good photo. The goal of the next one was to post pictures of the weird things I found in my clients' kitchens. It was inspired by some seriously old herbs and spices in one former client's spice drawer. I thought about making it available for other personal chefs, seeking out their photographs of scary kitchen finds. I forgot about that one not too long after the first post. (The photos in this one were taken with my camera phone.)

I belong to a message board related to a zillion things, one of which is food. Every day another person is posting a link to their food blog, completely with horribly blurry (use macro, folks.) photos of probably ok tasting food, and decent pictures of scary foods called "dogs 'n logs." Like mine, many of them do not last a long time. Others are quite active, popular and showcase significant talent.

So, why start another food blog? Because I feel like it.