Well, here I am again at 3:28 a.m. precisely. Seems to be the witching hour for me of late. This time it was my internal processes waking me up with a message from the spicy, garlic laden chili I consumed for dinner, reminding me that they’ve warned me about such doings before and cannot be responsible for the results. A little swig of pink liquid from the plastic bottle seems to have calmed things down a bit.
According to the news coverage I was the only human not in a store on Friday. Instead I opted to put up Christmas decorations (thought I’d share some pics) and graze contentedly on the leftovers calling to me from the refrigerator shelves. I pulled together my signature day after Thanksgiving sandwich for breakfast, light mayonnaise on rich grain bread, turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (jellied for this purpose), with a dash of salt and pepper. Often I eat leftovers for breakfast, and might be spotted downing a meatball or a piece of cold pizza before 8:00 a.m. My other half covers his eyes in horror when I do such a thing, but for me foods don’t have to be eaten at a specific time of the day, but rather when the mood strikes you.
Thanksgiving itself passed quietly for the two of us. Even though we were short in numbers, the phone kept me busy in between preparing vegetables and getting Tom T. ready for his last big performance. The old boy didn’t miss a cue and in end made such a tender and meaty showing that I was moved to applaud. Pods of family groups, all separated this year, checked in from various locations and I fielded a number of culinary questions from those hosting the meal for the first time. Having been in the trenches myself many times over the years, I know from whence I speak.
My son and his wife order their dinner from a local restaurant as did my mother and her guests. I’m very “old school” to his thinking, for insisting on going through all the work to produce the whole meal particularly with no guests on the horizon. I am an old dog, I would suppose, but it’s all about the mouth-watering smells emanating from the kitchen during the day. Despite the small contingency expected at the table, I made all the fixin’s including glazed carrots, creamed onions, and fresh brussel sprouts. Once again I pulled out the coffee and made red-eye gravy which is becoming a habit around here it’s so good.
On a humorous note we had a peach pie in the freezer we purchased several months ago as a school fund-raiser for one of the kids. This seemed a perfect idea for dessert. At a tidy price of $25.00, part going to the school, I felt it should remove itself from the freezer and pop in the oven on its own but it refused to budge when I brought the subject up. According to the directions it was made from all fresh ingredients. 105 minutes was the designated cooking time plus 6 hours of rest once removed from the oven before enjoying. Can do. Once baked and plump and crusty, I left it on the rack to cool and went about the rest of my day.
After allowing the dust to the settle on the first round of carnage we actually decided to continue watching our feet disappear from below our midsections by adding a piece of pie to the damage. Cutting into it we got a surprise. The $25.00 must have been the going price for crusts. Apparently we had not checked the appropriate box to pay for filling, because as you can see, we didn’t get any. What we got was a gaping hole with a mostly empty cavity looking more like the turkey in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation than a piece of pastry. Interesting. Not to be done out of our bit of sweet we slapped some whipped cream on the crust and carried on.
Today I will be in the kitchen most of the day as I’m preparing for a visit to my mothers for a few days. My other half refers to this as “relocation” rather than “vacation”, because I simply move my culinary duties from my kitchen to hers, but I don’t mind. It is nice to be able to spoil her now and again and we spend time talking and chopping so that makes it more special.
In our absence friends are coming to “house sit” and enjoy the glorious weather mother nature is providing for the week and keep an eye on the furrier of the residents not going with us as well as the house itself. It’s a win/win for both of us as we don’t have to pay a pet sitter and they don’t have to get a hotel room so yea for us.
Mouse, our adopted cat, as I’ve explained in previous posts would, if human, I believe be described as schizophrenic. Of the many cats I’ve had she has the most capricious of moods, is the most voracious of hunters, and communicates more often than any other of her ilk. Preferring her own company, she will cuddle up next to you if snacks are on the horizon but this on her terms only and time wasted trying to get her to do your bidding will leave you in the end frustrated or just plain looking ridiculous.
Yesterday the church ladies stopped by for their weekly visit and saving of souls. They are lovely women, so I stood with my wooden spoon and apron and shared a moment. During the discussion Mouse the cat’s name came up as they knew of our history and that she had “adopted” us nearly two years ago. The older of the two ladies, well retired and living in a mobile home park asked if I was looking for a home for Mouse. What! Oh, it was a tempting moment, fraught with the devil’s hand in it. Packed and in the car in five minutes no questions asked. But no, I could not face myself in the morning for doing it to either party so the Mousemeat as we call her shall remain in the folds of our small family as we have come to an understanding.
The following recipe is my first stab at this soup and it was wonderful. It is a bit of preparation but well worth the effort.
Italian Wedding Soup
12 cups chicken stock
2 large chicken breasts
2 bunches green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bag baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan for garnish
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground chuck
1 small onion, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup parsley flakes
1 egg, beaten
In large bowl mix all meatball ingredients together until well blended. Use fingertips rather than squeezing with hand to prevent over mixing. Make into 1″ meatballs and set aside.
Heat butter and oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute for 8 mins. until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Add broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and reduce to simmer. Cook about 15-20 mins. then remove and shred chicken with forks. Return to broth.
Add spinach and parsley and continue cooking for 35-40 mins. Mix egg with 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Drizzle slowly into soup stirring with a fork to make thin strands.
Add meatballs to soup. Cook for 20 mins. longer.
Ladle into large soup bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 8-10.