Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy 200

What does someone do for the 200th blog post? I thought, with my semi-lazy ways of current; what delicious (read that: easy) thingy could I make? How about a better kitchen? Yeah that works!
I am really lucky, Honey can do anything. Tear it down, rebuild it, whatever. This wall was "decorated" with Zbrick. Remember those? They were an idea of easy decor that looked real, but wasn't; from the 70's. I am sure when the previous owners put them up, they looked nice. But through the years of cooking in the kitchen and smoking all over the house, well they had become ugly. Ugly in the worst way, dirty looking and impossible to clean with the rough texture.

So today is demolish and rebuild day.
Honey is in command, which is OK with me.
I am a great clean up person.

We (read that: Honey is) are going to do one wall at a time. Both to work with cash and because one wall can be done in a weekend.

Today is new sheet rock, move and rewire the light switch for the garage to the inside wall to the right of the door leading to the garage, tape and mud, texture and paint. Then move the china hutch back and I can reload it, after washing all the dishes and glass ware, cause they have gotten dusty.

The next wall is my hearts desire. It will be an actual wall where an open space and eating bar are now. Again from the 70's a "great room" concept where all the rooms (kitchen living and dining) are one big open area. You could sit at the eating bar and watch TV.

I don't know if that saved a few relationships or ended them!

Personally I like a dining room, or at least a dining area in a large open kitchen. Where the ritual of setting a table, eating together and reconnecting after a day apart is the norm. Reconnecting is what keeps a family a family.

Kind of hard, when the TV is the heart of the household.

I never liked the great room concept. I do not want to see my kitchen appliances from the living room or sitting area.

Once the new wall is built, the kitchen will have so much more storage. I can hardly wait!

Hope your day is great, gotta go; there is clean up to do!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh the changes as the years go by

I believe that it would be fair to say, I am the same person and yet I am different.

Maybe I have had a bit too much time to think as I have been working my way through this cold/flu/virus. Or maybe I have been tired enough to just give in to "good enough" and be done. "Good enough" rarely is, it is what we say and give in to when we are frustrated or tired or out of resources.

I am talking dinner here, specifically dinner after coming home from work. Truthfully I have been struggling with this for some time, I just think this the last month with the cold/flu/virus took me over the edge. And before you know it................

"good enough" is on the menu.

We will be having "good enough" for dinner again tonight. And no it is not a leftover! It is new "good enough". We have had.......................

canned "good enough"
frozen "good enough"
leftovers "good enough"
take out "good enough"
fend for yourself "good enough"

and my personal favorite, I don't care "good enough"

How does this happen?

My gosh, I did not see it coming, there was no intervention.

There were no stern warnings from Honey like, "this can't keep happening" or "Mel, we can't keep eating "good enough", it's not right".

It is safe to say, the kids don't know. We have kept it from the neighbors. And of course I would not speak of this at work. The mail carrier would never suspect, because deliveries of cook books continue to arrive. The grocer would not suspect, they don't know the ingredients for "good enough".

I never knew it would be so easy to be caught up in "good enough" dinners. But it is a downward spiral, because before you know it, you have "good enough" meals, everyday.

I had heard about families that did the whole "good enough" routine for their dinners. And I remember thinking, how can that be? Who let that happen? Who is responsible for dinner? Who will fix that mess? Who will turn things around?

Who, me?

Thanks for stopping by, have a great day today!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

It is time to get busy, and an update

I did purchase a new grinder to make my own spice blends, and I have searched the internet and have a few books to look into and see what I can see. But since I do not have a formula yet, today's roast will not be seasoned with the beloved Bay Leaf Seasoning. I will season it with garlic, thyme, marjoram and salt. In the bottom of the pan will be minced celery and carrot and a couple of bay leaves.

I (cannot believe it) have not completely gotten over the cold, but the cafe will shine today. Honey is working the closing shift so He won't be with us, his meal break is not scheduled and usually after we eat on Sunday; but I will make him a delicious hot roast beef sandwich for his dinner when He does get here.

Our meal will be simple but it will be nice to being back on the road to real life, where I cook and complain and dream about what to cook next! Here is what we will be having:

Roast beef
rich pan gravy
mashed potatoes
baked squash with real maple syrup (instead of the warm salad)
lemon and thyme green beans
tossed salad with Gorgonzola cranberries and vinaigrette
fresh bread (instead of the Focaccia)

apple cake
blueberry crisp

As I said simple but good.

Have a great day,


Update: We all had a nice time. Honey was able to be home and although we ate in shifts everyone had a chance to visit. It was fun to be back in the swing of things, I changed a few things slightly. The green beans were simply buttered, and I did not set out the salad. I did set out cheese and pickles along with crackers for nibbling before dinner.

There is one load washing now, and I have a lot of hand washing to do. The kids always stack the dishes, but I prefer to do the dishes when they have gone home, I would much rather spend our time visiting.

Tomorrow is another day, a work day, our granddaughter day and the start of another week. Thanks to everyone that visited, both here and at home!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sadness prevails

See that jar? It is empty, and when I went for more last night after work; there was none on the shelf. Actually the real truth is, there was no shelf for this product. Because.......

They are NOT making this blend anymore.

I was, well I was silent because I did not know what to say. After all I was in a public place and I was not the only customer in the Penzys outlet. So I held my tongue and said simply, "oh no".

I love this blend and
they don't make it anymore.

Bay leaf seasoning is the greatest.
I say is, because I don't want to think was.

I have the empty jar and the only value it has now is the list of ingredients. My only hope is to try to make a somewhat worthy replacement. I already know it will not be as good, because I will only be able to guess at the ratio of the list of ingredients.

It was my go to ingredient. No matter what you used it in, or on, or with, it was always the best; and........

They are NOT making this blend anymore.

I can only ask one question.


Because I am pretty sure I alone used enough of this to keep the whole Penzys company in business, well maybe not; but you know what I mean.
Oh my, now what? I guess today will include a stop for a small coffee mill that will be designated for grinding herbs and spices, so that I can attempt to recreate an acceptable homemade replacement. Because.....

They are NOT making this blend anymore.

Tomorrow is Sunday Cafe, we are having roast beef, I knew that when I went to the outlet after work to specifically to get Bay Leaf Seasoning. I had been wanting to go for the longest time, I have been out for a couple of months, and it seemed like the perfect time to go; because I got turned around in traffic when I stopped for gas and was headed in their direction. I decided to keep going, thinking this is meant to be moment, only to find..................

They are NOT making this blend anymore.

I can only say, oh no.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tomorrow is 5 weeks

And if what my PCP said is true, I am on the road to recovery. I can not believe that I have had this "thing" for 5 weeks, so I guess the 4-6 weeks duration quoted by her is accurate. A co-worker is in the same boat, right about the time you start to feel better, wham it comes around again. The receptionist at my Chiropractor, same story.

But where has the month gone? I have not really cooked anything of any value, and I feel a bit numb by it all.

I have always cooked.

I want/need to get back to basics, but rather like a lost hiker; I don't know where to turn.

Honey has it now, he is a week or so behind me. He apologized for not doing much on his days off except relax and rest. Not a problem with me, I know how he feels.

Sunday is cafe weekend, I will prepare a simple meal. And it will be nice to be back "home".

I have heard birds singing the last two mornings, that means spring in around the corner. I could not wait, I checked to see if the rhubarb is peeking up through the cold ground; it was not. But there are leaf buds on the blueberries. And the bulbs in the front yard are sprouting. Brighter and warmer days are ahead.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What shall we have for Sunday dinner?

With all this business of having a cold and feeling awful to sometimes OK and then back again to awful, I have not done much cooking. But I know that Sunday is coming, and I am looking forward to having dinner with the family. I have been thinking about what to make, and again; want it to be different things than I have made in the past.

The day would also work out well to try a few things on other blogs that look wonderful. I was thinking about the focaccia from here, also the butternut squash salad from here. I am in a rut with chicken, so I believe we will have a beef roast. With mashed potatoes and green beans. I really enjoy green beans, especially the organic frozen whole green beans that Costco carries. I will cook a whole pan of them for just the two of us and will eat what ever Honey does not! I will probably have another cooked vegetable, as there is one green bean hater as well!

Lets see for desert, I still have lemons and although I made lemon meringue pie last time, that would be an acceptable repeat. I also have apples to couple with blueberries for pie. I made one a couple of Sunday cafes ago, and I think that would also be an acceptable repeat. The blueberry apple pie is so delicious that it will be part of the "urge to splurge" category. And the focaccia will be part of the "BYOB" category. I love the focus on artisian bread, but I also want to have bread that will not take all of your time and still turn out delicious from scratch bread.

But for now it is time to get ready for work, thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

15 Worthless tidbits about me

No I was not tagged (I think that more than your kids would have to read you for something like that to happen. Oh, Hi kids!) , but I had this off beat thought with my coffee this morning.

Why do we do the things we do? For instance.......

1. I like dessert as breakfast on Sunday mornings. Oh don't get me wrong, I eat something else to appear grownup but I really want the sweet. Why? I believe it is because my own Mom would make a coffee cake on Sundays. Sundays are laid back and meant to be quiet and enjoyable.

2. I like things put away in the space they belong, when someone is done using it/them. Why? I believe it is because I was the designated mother's assistant and all things needing picked up an put away was my job. I must have sworn to live differently when I was in charge.

3. I usually do not dust. Why? I believe that I never learned the importance of dusting. Our house growing up was a constant state of disarray. I think my Mom used dusting as a last resort before death or company. Honey bless him, is the duster in this house.

4. I like peace and quiet. Why? Our house was very loud and noisy growing up. I always want to retreat when things get loud.

5. I don't like competitive games. Why? Because we are animals and will revert to that behavior style to win or survive. See above for additional information.

6. I can eat one thing for a meal and be happy, such as a plate of buttered rice. Why? I believe it is because there we so many of us and times were tough, sometimes one thing was all there was. I also think that was a great teacher regarding appetite vs hunger. They are not the same.

7. I enjoy an eclectic furnishings style. Why? That was all we had, hand me downs and second hand purchases. But I love the coming together of what you have to make a home.

8. I use to have hair past my buttock, it is short now. Why? I cut my hair because I had developed a repetitive movement injury in my neck, from years of "throwing" my hair out of my way. The real why we do what we do about the long hair is that, we lived in Marin County California in the late 60's and I was fascinated with the hippy women and their long hair and pierced ears. That era developed an ideal in me that long hair was beautiful and free spirited.

9. I do not like oysters. Why? I have a strong association of smell and taste. I do not like the smell, and as it turns out; I don't like the taste. I have tried them.

10. I love sour and bitter. Why? I believe it is my family heritage. My Dad was Swiss German and my Mom was Irish and German. I love kraut, dark beer, pickled foods and rhubarb.

11. I would like to have backyard chickens. Why? We always had animals when I was growing up. A milk goat, chickens and rabbits. My Godparents also had chickens, I use to get to help gather the eggs.

12. I do not drink milk. Why? I could not digest cows milk as a kid. See goat above. Therefore I never drank milk with meals. It is so rare for me to drink a glass of milk, I think the last one was 5 years ago. I do have cereal each morning and do tolerate milk as an adult.

13. I love books. Why? Reading was my only break from caring for younger brothers and sisters. I went to the library each week and got more books to read. I have a hard time parting with a book I have read that carries a message I needed to learn.

14. I like a happy ending. Why? I like when good things happen for and to people. I rarely feel envious, I know that I have been helped to get where I am in this world, and wish for everyone to get that helping hand when they need it. I try to be the helper as well.

15. I love trees. Why? We use to go camping in the Redwood forest when I was a kid. Trees have always been a part of my life from the earliest days. They provide shelter, shade and sustenance.

Why 15?

Only because today is the 15th, no other reason. I was not sure I could come up with 15 things about me, and I am not certain that these are of any real significance. However I think each person that has a blog does so for different reasons. I also think we are interesting to others. It is always fun to get to know someone.

Blogs are an electric version of having a pen pal.

Have a great day, I am off to do my Sunday shift.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

I have been so lackluster these past 3 weeks, and although I live a fairly healthy life, cannot seem to get over this cold/upper respiratory/flu.

Yesterday I multi-tasked, I established a new primary care provider for myself and made sure the cold was not worsening, since for some reason it just keeps keeping on. This has got to be the Ever Ready Bunny of colds! This is what I learned, this is a doozie and my PCP stated that most of her clients are taking 4-6 weeks to get over it. For Pete's Sake! But I checked out OK with everything else.

Honey is at work today, and I want to have a nice Valentines Day dinner and gift waiting for him when He returns. I have also decided to make it somewhat easy for myself, so I shall make........

Cherry Pineapple cinnamon crunch and Chicken and dumplings. Each is easy and He will love both. Add some salad and we will be set to go. Oh and I need to run and get him a gift. He of course does not want anything, and would say so. But I need to get him a gift to show that I think of him.

I have read a couple of articles here lately talking about gifts and the pressure of the message the gift is "suppose" to offer. And I found them enjoyable, if not enlightening. And I also think that most of the "suppose" we place upon ourselves and our actions is fairly early on in our lives. And that thankfully we get over ourselves.

I am going to buy Honey a new seat for his bike. He has been riding his bike to work here lately. He really enjoys riding, and use to belong to a bike club when He lived in Florida. But he made the comment that his butt was sore, and He sure wished he had a more comfortable bike seat. So that is what I will get for him. No it is not glamorous, and no it will not cost hundreds; but is does show that I listen and that I care and that I want him happy.

Tell me, don't you think that is the best kind of gift? Because that is what we really want, someone to care enough about us; to listen.

Lets see,
gift is bought-check
ingredients gathered for the dessert-check
ingredients ready to make the chicken and dumplings-check

I guess it is time to start the oven and get busy!

I hope this Valentines Day finds you healthy and happy.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When did the Sunday Cafe really begin?

March 26, 2006.

That was the day I became a member of Recipezaar, and wrote a clumsy little paragraph about myself and my "wish". I did not know what a blog was, and was later inspired to have my own blog, thanks to my daughter in law; who has had a great time with hers! I have gone back to recipezaar and updated my profile, but that is about all. For a time I had a premium membership and loved the added benefit of no advertising pop-ups!

However that was also a time in my life that I was super busy with work, house buying, updating and selling, and since it was mostly just me; not much cooking. I am glad the job part has slowed down, and I am also glad to be in a home that belongs to me, instead of a house that is being readied to sell. My home where I can have my things around me for comfort and not live in a staged environment, waiting for the next person to inquire about a purchase.

It has taken 3 years to make the idea a reality. An ecclectic reality, but a reality none the less.

I hope to improve in my skills, in cooking, photos and being a good hostess. As the grandkids come about and grow up, I am hoping that they will look back on our monthly Sunday's with a smile. That they look forward to coming to Sunday dinner, even if it is not each month. Because I realize that as busy as I am, so shall they be.

Honey and I have lots of plans to make our home even more comfortable. The trees in the backyard will come down, they will be recycled for firewood.

A lawn will be planted, Honey actually likes to have a nice lawn and doesn't mind the mowing.

A permanent shade awning will be constructed, and more berry bushes and and rhubarb and lots of things just like that. There will be room for yard games and running space for the little ones.

So that each time the kids come home for dinner, everyone will be happy and comfortable.

Because that is what the Sunday Cafe is really about. I talk food, but it is really about coming home.

That is where I was 3 years ago, and this is where I have come to today.

Actually where I am today, is ready for this cold to be over. It is breaking up, but I must recant Wednesday as the day it would all be gone, because it will most likely be Friday. Oh and I am hoping to actually cook something this weekend, before you stop believing that I can!

Have a great tomorrow, and thanks for taking the time to stop by,


Sunday, February 8, 2009

I am going to buy a red one

In my ongoing struggle to cook edible food in the crockpot, I have finally learned that a small family needs at least 2 sizes of pots. A 6qt for big recipes and a 4qt for small ones or small amounts of food. I have more than once cooked something too small for a 6qt, in a 6qt. For pete's sake, I take a long time to learn certain things, this is one of them.

Today I shall go to Target and purchase a 4qt crockpot. Every circular in the Sunday paper had red stuff advertised. If it is red, it is advertised in one or more of the pages. Which works out well for me, I love red.

We simply are not eating as well as we could. Plain and simple.

I am learning to cook for a family that does not share in the standard American dream of, working 8-5 M-F, home for dinner together. I have not learned what I need to learn to make this work out better for us, as far as meals are concerned. Honey is real good about opening a can of chili to eat, but the poor guy is eating a lot of chili here lately.

And I have said it before, I need to use the pressure cooker as well. I tend to forget about all my kitchen equipment, and fall back on old habits. I also will be happier when the kitchen has been updated and I do not have to search in one of many places throughout the house to find a piece of equipment. Currently kitchen equipment is located in the kitchen, the linen closet in the hall, the coat closet in the living room, the pantry storage area at the end of the hall, and the closet in the Beatles/TV room. I tend to be of low vision when I come home after a day at work, and only see what is before me; forgetting all the rest.

I have a 4qt crockpot, a round one. The gasket that insulates the heating unit from the crock is deteriated, and it is a concern to me to keep using it. But I will keep the crock and lid. They will be used as ovenware, maybe even to bake the no knead bread recipes.

Time to change the linens on the bed, shower and get dressed and go out for a while to see the world and purchase that red crockpot.

Have a great Sunday,


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Accomplishments and getting better

I think I am right on track with Wednesday being my "get well" day. I could feel things beginning to break up Thursday evening. The horrible headaches, body aches and general nausea are gone, and I have been able to sleep through the night. So yeah, Wednesday should be the day.

I decided that since I have gone to work everyday ill, I would not get dressed today. Not getting dressed is a sure fire way to stay home and lay low.

I have played free cell at least one hundred times.

I made frosted graham crackers, yum! I love these, a rich chocolate frosting between 2 cracker halves. Let them age a couple of day, so the cracker soften a bit, frugal and yummy.

I efiled my taxes, both federal and Oregon state. I am getting a refund. That will go towards the kitchen wall rebuild. I really really really can't wait. It will make a wonderful difference, and change the house in ways that will definably increase livability and the market value.

I have napped.

I have looked at my favorite blogs.

I had lunch with Honey, when he came home on his meal break.

I read the newspaper.

I watched the squirrels and birds eat from the feeders in the backyard. Oh and I watched the cat at the back door pretending to want outside to hunt!

I noticed that there are leaf buds on the blueberry plants, that means spring is on it's way.

I think I feel a little tiny bit of cooking desire returning.

So, I guess I am on my way back! Whew! This was a long time coming.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

I would like to say

That dinner was good (but it was not, overcooked), that I am better (but I am not, this is a nasty virus) that things have returned to normal, or at least our normal (but they have not).

Until this upper respiratory came along, I had really never been this ill. Never.

I had always listened kindly when folks spoke about being this ill.

But truly, I was skeptical. I mean come on, how bad can a cold be?

Well I got my answer, and I will forever more know, and be kinder.

My new employer does not have a very good paid sick time benefit, sad to say; it is 3 years out from day of hire. So I have trudged to work each day (don't feel sorry for me, this was not a statement to obtain pity), and I am sure this virus was spread to others as it was spread to me. That is the nature of a virus, it is the ultimate sharing machine! I generally work alone, in an office mostly removed for the majority of the other staff and clients. But still, virus sharing has happened.

I yammer on about this, because I truly have little energy to cook and even sadder still; no desire. Desire fuels what we do. No doubt about it.

I am thinking that maybe by Wednesday of next week, this will have run through the entire cycle of a virus. That guesstimate is generated from a look back on how I have felt, since Friday the 23 of January when I first felt ill and went home early from work; thinking that 24 hour rest period would take care of it..........

I am looking forward to this virus being completed. And cooking again. I want to make something so delicious it will be tagged the Urge to Splurge, I also want to start filling up the BYOB and all the others as well.

Until then, thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dinner, did someone mention dinner

Just wondering because ours have not been very good.

Not since the last Sunday Cafe.

Not since this cold built up to full speed nasty.

But the end might be in sight. This morning, I actually had a desire to make dinner again.

Of course my brain was on tomorrow, so we are in for a questionable dinner tonight. I found some pork chops in the freezer and want to make this recipe using them. Right now the chops are resting comfortably, thawing. Which means that they will not go into the crockpot until tomorrow morning before I go to work, so that means that they are for tomorrow nights dinner.

But what about tonight?

Well lets see, I have some frozen chicken tenders, they could be saute'd and then finished with a little Marsala wine and chicken stock, which could be reduced and served as a pan sauce. Yeah I think that will do. That and some salad and a cooked vegetable.

I am going to take this as a good sign. I still have a bad cold, and it is taking most of my energy to go to work each day. But at least I am beginning to want to cook again. That is a good sign!

Honey is the next victim of this virus. Poor guy, it is a doozie. I am also going to try to bake him something, something easy but tasty. He loves sweets and it will help keep him sweet!

Have a great day, thanks for taking the time to stop by!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The weekend nest... and chores update.

See below for update chores proof!

It started early, about 5 am, Saturday.

Granddaughter had spent the night Friday. We had a semi healthy, part delicious dinner at Wendy's. I did order a salad, granddaughter had milk and mandarin oranges, and Honey had the chili, so it was not all bad.

Came home, and settled into getting ready for the 7:00pm bed time. We made it by 7:30 with stories and good night kisses. She went to sleep, quietly. Slept until 2:00 and she called out very softly - Grammy. I went and lay beside her and she returned to sleep.

My back and the guest bed do not agree, so I went out to the living room and sat in the rocking chair ( boy am I ever a grandma!) covered with a warm throw. Granddaughter woke for good at 5:00am. She is like me, she wakes up now! Not a sleepy head, she is ready to go.

I made her a breakfast tray, with cold cereal, graham crackers and cocoa with marshmallows, and we settled in to watch Alice in Wonderland. Little by little the rest of the house was brought into the TV room. It came one pillow at a time, then when we were out of pillows; there was no choice but to move onto throws!

We could not wait any longer and woke Papa up at 7:00am, it finally took by 7:30 and he was up and getting dressed. Then a long walk, just the two of them. After that it was time to get cleaned up and head to tap dance class.

At age 4 tap class is as much about noise as it is about learning to actually tap a dance! They are cute, everyone of them.

After class, it was time to drop her back home.

It has been a quiet weekend, I am still trying to get over this virus. I am on day 10, and so far do not feel that the end is near. I have only been this ill once before, that was about 30 years ago. My plan was for a quiet weekend, my main task right now is getting rid of this cold. Then I hope to be back to cooking and showing it off!

Have a great Sunday,


UPDATE: Although it would of been OK to just play with the granddaughter as our only accomplishment, we felt compelled to get some things done. As proof, I have pictures!

This picture is actually from earlier in the week, it is the hallway wall, with no paneling. You can see a large patch in the wall board. Apparently the previous owners did not like where the kitchen entry was and closed it up. We will extend the wall about 6 feet and open up the balance of the area on the opposite side. I am excited to have this happen.

The other 3 photos are really and truly from today.

Organizers were installed in a pantry cupboard, and the backyard was raked and filled one very large debris can. We are thinking that we have one more wind storm on the way before the close of winter, so we are prepared for that. It will be much easier to clean up future debris from a clean yard. We had salvaged the burnable wood from the limbs that had broken off during the high winds. It was time to clean up the last of the soft green debris.

We are also thinking that the large trees in the back yard should come down. For a couple of reasons, the yard will not grow much of anything. And for just a couple of hundred more dollars than purchasing wood for next winter, we could have the trees taken down and burn our own wood. The trees are huge! We might get 2 winters out of it, then we would make a decision about future heating needs. Time will tell, there is only so much that can be done each and every day.