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Posts Tagged ‘Murphy’s Law’

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It’s official……my brain has given notice. Like so many political figures these days, my gray matter is longer in line with official policy and has decided to move on. This morning I found the leftover watermelon salad from last night’s dinner on the front seat of the car and the GPS in the fridge. Surprisingly I wasn’t shocked. This year hasn’t stopped for a stress break since the calendar turned the page on January 1, 2017. Never have I needed a vacation more and found myself less likely in a position to take one.

Next week is the planned move for my mother, the second since the beginning of the year. Although we downsized her cache considerably with the first move, still there are china cabinets packed with family treasures and endless boxes of shoes, miscellaneous household goods, and general household items needing to be wrapped and boxed. Last week was scheduled as the first of several packing days. I drove down in our SUV to get things rolling and bring her up here afterward for a few days. On the way down the car began to pull awkwardly. At first I thought it was the well rutted road but by the time I reached her place I knew definitely it was the vehicle behaving badly. The temperature was moving up. After several hours of filling boxes I decided to wrap things up (no pun intended) and get on the road early in case we encountered trouble.  Normally I might have taken this in stride. Certainly this is not the first car I’ve had that developed a problem. However, our second car, a Ford Fusion, had begun making a noise the day before and was scheduled to go into the shop the following day to be repaired. Should this vehicle need the same that would leave us without wheels.

Murphy’s Law, in my case at least, would be that things malfunction at the time you most need them to work. Murphy was alive and well, seated on my right shoulder getting a real charge out of himself. About thirty-five minutes into the drive with another twenty minutes to go, I began to wonder if we were going to make it. My mother chattered on happily in the passenger seat blissfully unaware of the fact there was a strong possibility we were going to be stranded on the side of the road at any moment thumbs pointed toward the sky.

Murphy or not, we finally reached the safety of our driveway. Once unloaded and inside, Rick and I formulated a plan to get both vehicles to the shop as well as return my mother to her home. Hmmm. Plan A was to get a rental car the following morning. Next to take the car under warranty, the Fusion, in first and get that one running. Then we would use the rental to get around and get my mother home. As an aside on my last trip down to gather my mother a rock hit the window on the Fusion. First a tiny hole, now had spread to a long line stretching across the windshield. Included in Plan A was calling our insurance company to get the windshield replaced. For those familiar with Munch’s oil, The Scream, you get some idea of how I was feeling.

Plan B, should Plan A fall by the wayside, was I would marry a wealthy sultan with a fleet of cars and keep Rick on the side as my driver and confidante. This, might I add, was beginning to work for me.

I scheduled a pick up from the rental car company. The driver arrived early the next day and I signed a contract for three days. Originally I’d ordered an economy car which was all I needed. A sudden surge of renters left the dealer out of economy cars so they offered me an upgrade to a Ford Explorer at no extra cost.  Yea for me. The Explorer is a much larger SUV than ours. Equipped with every bell and whistle from cooled seats to in dash GPS and video capabilities it was quite a technologically sophisticated ride. I used up half the first day trying to figure out how to adjust the side rear view mirrors and use the radio. When you back up there is an excellent in-dash camera system equipped with an alarm when you get too close to an object. John Glenn had less equipment to train on before departing for the moon. Ach.

Yesterday we returned the rental car. It was a sad farewell fraught with shed tears and wrenching of keys from unyielding fingers. Sigh. Despite clever negotiation tactics on our side the Enterprise representatives were in the end unwilling to make an even exchange of our failing SUV for their shiny new Explorer. Such is life.

On our final trip I dropped Rick off at the auto shop and continued home by myself. Pulling into the garage I opened the car door and stepped out. A flash of movement caught my eye. Heart pounding I turned to find a pit bull inside the car. Rick often says you just can’t make up stories such as those that happen to me and I believe there is some merit to this. The large brown and white animal sat panting and drooling in the seat I’d just vacated. Hello? Stepping back I suggested to the animal (politely as I have respect for the breed) he vacate the vehicle. Amazingly he did. Following me to the front door he appeared hot and thin. Pouring him a cold drink of water I went in the house to decide how to proceed. Rick came home shortly after followed by a neighbor curious about the dog. With Boo the Queen of Cats peeking out the window holding a sign “No Canine’s Allowed” after some deliberation our neighbor took him home to post a notice on the Internet looking for his owner. Bless the woman. I could have kissed her direct on the lips. What a day!

Finally having a minute or two to relax, I dropped a couple of slices of bread in the toaster with the intention of using some tomatoes freshly picked from my garden along with some crisp bacon to make us a couple of BLT’s. Our toaster, barely three months old, popped the yet untoasted bread right back up when I depressed the lever and refused to do anything else. Really? Never mind. I’d have a turkey sandwich instead. Opening the refrigerator I found the package of turkey afloat in a sticky pool of pickle juice. On further inspection pickle juice had also leaked into the vegetable bin out of a baggie of pickles I’d placed in there after burgers cooked over the weekend.

At that point I went into the closet, shut off the light and stuck my thumb in my mouth. I’m considering having my mail forwarded there.

This is an easy weeknight throw together meal that shows up on the plate looking like a star. The light lemony sauce makes it especially refreshing during the summer months.

Pan Seared Scallops with Fettuccine with Lemon Sauce

10 large sea scallops
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Remove “foot” from each scallop and pat dry. Heat butter and oil over high heat. Place scallops in pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook around 4 mins. per side until golden and crunchy on bottoms.

Fettuccine with Lemon Sauce

8 oz. cooked Fettuccine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic
Zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
1/2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

For the sauce

Heat 3 Tbsp, butter in medium saute pan over medium heat until foamy. Add garlic and continue cooking 2-3 mins. or until garlic is fragrant (be careful not to burn. Add lemon zest and juice and continue cooking for one minute. Remove from heat and mix in chives and parsley. Toss with pasta and top with scallops and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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final

It has been a crazy few weeks. If it could go wrong, it did. To me it occurs that nothing actually goes wrong until it is imperative for it to go right. As I mentioned previously my mother and her roommate came up on the train to spend the week. Always it adds an extra dimension to your life when company stays under you’re roof. Flexibility is the key word to keep everything running smoothly, and to expect the unexpected. When trying a new recipe, for example, I have found all goes smoothly when only my other half and I are going to sample the end result. As soon as you add extra guests to the mix it’s like sending up a flare to the universe. The electricity goes off, the potatoes blow up in the oven, the slow cooker gets a short, or the sauce needed to complete the recipe breaks as you are serving the plates. Not sure if it’s a case of bad karma or Murphy simply getting up into my business.

Saturday night was the anniversary of Rick’s birth, as he likes to put it. I’m sure you read about it in the newspaper. To celebrate I planned a dinner. I baked a cake and a pie and invited several neighbors to share dessert. About an hour before dinner another neighbor living below us stopped by to let us know there was a fire burning in our area. He suggested we prepare in the event the situation became more urgent. Fire terrifies me. I’m sure it terrifies any sane person. This year it is particularly unsettling with the dry season at it’s worst and the ready availability of dry fuel in our well-treed community. My mother reminds me regularly about the dangers of moving to an area so well populated with tall trees. How lucky for me the only fire thus far would break out at the exact time she was visiting.  My mum worries about everything. When she was born I’m sure she was thinking all the way down the chute the doctor would most likely drop her on the other end. Sigh. Until I had to, I wasn’t going to say a word. Not one word. No point in stirring the pot if nothing is sticking to the bottom.

Everything went ahead as planned. I made such frequent visits to our laptop in the bedroom to check the progress of the firefighters my mother questioned if I had a bladder infection. Thankfully, our wonderful firefighters got the blaze under control before disaster struck unlike many others still burning across our beautiful state. Those of us who choose to live in timbered areas sleep with one eye open these days. Although we are a prime target, the vulnerability covers an area far greater than the forests unfortunately. Our thoughts go out to those immediately affected. To lose your home and all your treasures must be an unbelievable blow.

Cleaning up after the party, plans were discussed for the following morning. Our last night together it would be up early to make the train departing at 12:20 from Sacramento. About 8:00 a.m. I began getting people moving and made a lunch for my mother and Doc to carry on the train. They are older weren’t comfortable at the thought of wandering around the cars once moving.

I programmed the GPS. The few bags were stored in the trunk and and with plenty of time allotted for travel and a quick Egg McMuffin, we headed out. The freeway was busier than usual. Construction crews working on Sunday were setting up blinking horses here and there. Still within a safe time parameter the GPS suddenly went black. What? Sigh. We shook it. Then we tried plugging it back in and removing the cord and reinserting it with no effect. A black screen and no idea where to go from there. Even the red light, usually visible when the unit is operating, was out. Rick was fussing about whether or not the socket had gone south or whether we now had to buy a new GPS. Mother was freaked out about getting to the train station. I was looking for a bar open on Sunday. Reaching in my purse for my cell phone, good news, I left it at home. Funny how dependent we are on our devices. In the old days I would have had a map in the glove compartment. With no clue how to proceed, I had Rick pull over at a convenience store. Once inside I inquired as to where I might find maps. The kid manning the cash register looked at me as if I’d asked him on what counter I might locate elephant kibble. There were no maps apparently. To be honest I’m not sure the guy even grasped the concept. However, he had his phone and offered to look up directions. Tapping at the keyboard he shouted freeway exits at me as I ran back out to the car. Do they still make maps? I think they should for just such occasions.

Somehow we made our way to downtown Sacramento. Once downtown we were caught in the snarl of looky loos checking out Old Town and the Capital buildings. Knowing we were in the general area, there was still no red brick building in sight saying Amtrak. Seeing a fire station with several firemen working on the cab of a fire engine, I yelled at Rick to stop once again. Sprinting over the hedges ( Allyson Felix has nothing on me) I ran up to the fire truck. Two astonished firemen holding chamois greeted me. Explaining the situation I asked directions on where to go from there.  One pointed in one direction, with the other directed my eyes another way. Guys, guys, guys, help me out here. I’m not getting any younger. Finally, I threw caution to the wind and chose Door No. 2. Ten minutes later we pulled into the train station with 15 minutes to spare. This program of anxiety would rival Weight Watchers for peeling the pounds off. I pulled out the luggage, rallied the troops, and went to the window inside the station to alert the Amtrak personnel my charges would need a ride to the shortly arriving train. In minutes the tram pulled up and with hurried goodbyes I waved adieu to my mom and Doc. Whew. As it turned out the tram rider went over a bump dumping my mother’s suitcase and one other on the ground behind the tram. They had to stop and gather them up making them nearly late for the train.

It is good to have company. It is good when company leaves. They are glad to go home and you are glad to reclaim yours. For me, I’m tired and need an adult beverage.

This veal stew is just yummy. I don’t cook veal often, but when I do I wonder why.

Crockpot Veal Stew with Root Vegetables

1 lb. veal stew meat
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut in 1″ chunks
2 large ribs celery cut in 1/2″ slices
1 onion, large chunks
4 1/2″ slices of green pepper cut in chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in chunks
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 10 1/2 can beef consomme
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 bay leaves
Rice or egg noodles

Heat oil in large skillet over med.-high heat. Place flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper in large resealable plastic bag. Drop meat inside and shake well to coat.

Brown meat in oil until golden brown on all sides.

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Spray bottom of 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place onions, green pepper, and celery in bottom. Top with browned meat.

IMG_6679

Layer remaining vegetables on top of meat.

In a large bowl mix together diced tomatoes and all the remaining ingredients. Pour over meat and vegetables. Cook on high for 2 hours. Reduce heat and cook on low for 8 hours opening twice to stir. Serve over a bed of brown rice or egg noodles if desired.

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