I’m having a karmic payback kind of day. Heading out to cross the final holiday gifts off my list, I backed out of my garage, a task I perform most days. Pushing the button on my garage door opener, our neighbor to the left came down the driveway and waved hello. I opened the window and we exchanged a word or two about the weather, the economy, and the leaves piled high from the most recent storm making their home in our shared yard space. Once our goodbyes were said and he was out of range I stepped on the gas. Right pedal, wrong gear. Sigh. Fortunately, I didn’t give it much gas, just enough to back over my favorite designer pot reducing it to a ceramic jigsaw puzzle in the middle of the driveway. Whoops. Could have been worse, certainly, I could have done this in a parking lot.
Stupid, or at least unusual incidents, occur when my grey cells are agitated with too much data moving down the information highway. It seems in my case I can only process so much information on a given day without going south like a goose in winter. Packing, moving, the holidays, family issues, baking, cooking for our trip, and day-to-day responsibilities have the little man in my brain who speaks to me of such things at two in the morning ready to throw the off switch and throw my thoughts into darkness.
Both cats are feeling the strain as well. Boo our longest resident is more familiar with the hubbub surrounding our imminent departure. Sensing she may be left behind, she insists on climbing in and out of bags distributed on the floor as if checking to see if there is a spot left about her size. Following these gymnastics, she inspects every item thoroughly with her regal pink nose, stopping occasionally to cast an accusatory glance my direction.
The work table I set up in the bedroom for the holidays has truly taken on the look of Santa’s workbench. Rolls of colorful paper and curled lines of ribbons spill out of wicker baskets scattered around the room. The table itself is piled high with tape, pens, gift tags, Christmas cards, material, projects in process and my sewing equipment. Rick has been delegated a small wedge-shaped area on the left of the bed and hasn’t been seen in his allotted spot since the first box marked “xmas” made its way upstairs. My man really knows how to put the “ho-hum” in humbug. I have found, in my experience at least, it usually falls to the female of the species to imbue the house with holiday spirit. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be seen on the outside of the house straddling ladders leaning against the side while manipulating strings of outdoor lights dangling over their shoulders.
Present wrapping is also my detail, except for those with my name on the tags. I draw the line at wrapping my own gifts. Presents are not my focus on Christmas, but I do like the opportunity to select something special for those that I love and wrapping them in colorful ways. Trying to wrap presents with two cats in the house is a thankless task, however. Particularly two incredibly spoiled felines such as ours. Curled ribbon and crinkly paper are irresistible targets for my two marauders and more than once I’ve laid chase to try to retrieve a piece of glittered tissue paper or a cylinder of ribbon only to end up seeing the last of it disappear down the stairs and under the bed.
Last night, however, was the end, literally. Boo, feeling ignored my attention going to sewing the last seam on an apron, hopped up on my table. An open box of bobbins with excess string hanging out of the ends sat to my left. (For those of you who do not sew the bobbins are small spools filled with different colored threads inserted below the threaded needle on the machine). Before I could stop her, she grabbed a piece of lime green thread attached to a bobbin and began to chew. When the thread became taut and jiggled the metal bobbin she flew off the table bobbin in tow. In her panic she swallowed the thread still attached to the rapidly unwinding spool bouncing wildly along behind her. Breaking my high school best for doing the mile I mounted the stairs and gasping for breath cornering her in the kitchen standing by the stove one end of thread hanging from her mouth. Nothing left to do, I sat down next to her and began to slowly pull it out. I pulled, pulled and then I pulled some more. She must have swallowed half a spool. It is important cats don’t consume thread or string as it can cause their intestines to knot, and, well, without divulging details, it isn’t pretty. At last the end was reached and she offered me a look as close as it comes to feline gratitude and sauntered off down the hall. Surveying the damage in the bedroom, I picked up the papers strewn all over the floor and began to tear out the seam I ‘d sewed sideways when she startled me. I love these two, but sometimes they are a royal pain in the behind, I’m just saying.
While we are gone a young friend and his fiance are house sitting. One bonus of many about living above a lake is that it is not difficult to find volunteers to mind your house even if it does require care and feeding of two totally unbalanced puddy cats.
I haven’t made this dish in a long time. It’s nice comfort food with a bit of a bite on biting cold nights. I would have provided a picture of the finished dish but our son stopped by and it disappeared before I could put its name in lights.
Creamy Chicken Paprikash
4 chicken breast halves, flattened to 1 1/2″
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
16 oz. extra wide egg noodles or papparedele noodles prepared according to pkg. directions
2 Tbsp. liquid from noodle water
Combine flour with 2 Tbsp. of paprika, pepper, salt, and garlic salt. Place in large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken to bag and shake vigorously to coat all pieces evenly.
Heat oil in large deep sides frying pan over med. heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides (about 5-6 mins. per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add onion and saute for 5 mins. or so or until translucent adding a little extra oil if pan is dry.
Add remaining 2 Tbsp. of paprika to pan. Saute for 2 mins. Return chicken to pan.
Add diced tomatoes, water and wine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25 mins. Add green pepper and cook 20 mins. Using slotted spoon remove chicken to warm plate.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. of liquid.
Add 2 Tbsp. reserved noodle water to frying pan and cook until sauce is slightly reduced. Whisk in sour cream and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5-6 mins. until thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Add parsley.
Serve over hot noodles dotted with several dabs of butter. Yum.