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Posts Tagged ‘Scalloped Potatoes’

Photo by Susie Nelson

Photo by Susie Nelson

My mother is selling her bed. It’s an adjustable bed with a massage setting. Since her husband passed away the huge expanse of mattress is too much for one small individual so she wants to downsize to a full. I ran an ad for her on-line. During my last visit I took pictures of both the bed and the controls. Being the one who usually handles these things, I listed my cell phone as a reference number. As these beds are really pricey if purchased new, we got a huge response from the ad.  I now have ten people on the waiting list and my voice mail keeps filling up. I removed the ad after the fifth call figuring one of the five would take it, but people who jotted down the number when it was first published are still following up.  The last call in was from a gentleman who spoke very little English.  I explained slowly there were people in front of him waiting to see the bed but he kept yelling excitedly, “I come now!”.  Sigh.  Finally, cremating my first batch of caramelized onions trying to explain, I said I was sorry but I had to hang up. Normally I’m not a rude person, or try not to be. This reminded me of people who would call the house when my children were little.  Our housekeeper, Carmen, hailed from Guatemala and spoke little English.  “Hello, thank you, and our names”, were all I ever heard her actually say in English.  Secretly, I believed she understood far more and probably spoke much more, but this was her repertoire when we were present.

My mother is not, nor never will be a linguist.  Besides bastardizing Spanish beyond recognition, no matter how many times I explained to her Carmen did not understand a word she was saying in English no matter what speed she chose to say it, Mother would continue to speak ever so slowly into the phone if Carmen answered leaving a detailed message. Always the message was passed on to me as “Su madre llamó por teléfono“, or loosely translated, “your mother called”.

Every Friday night we drove Carmen to the bus station. Saturday and Sunday’s were spent with her son and his family in L.A. I used to admire the bravery this took on her part with no command of the language, but somehow she and her little duffel bag with the bright pink and yellow flowers returned to us in tact every Sunday night for three years.  At first it was odd having someone else living in our house, more so for the fact we couldn’t communicate.  I found my high school Spanish sadly lacking, as “Yo voy a la biblioteca”, or “I am going to the library”, really had little impact when I was trying to explain how the burners on the stove worked.

Once we climbed the first hurdle, communication, cohabiting came much easier.  It was interesting to learn about her life in Guatemala, certainly not an easy one, and her escape with her young son to the States.  From what I could glean her husband was in the military police.  Not a man of much humor, it seemed, and prone to spending many hours at the local “barra”.  Spurned on by cerveza, he often came home and took his frustrations out on his wife and child. Carmen explained there were holes for windows in her small house but no glass. Floors were raked dirt with small rugs thrown on top.  Clothing was washed out in a large metal tub and hung on a makeshift line to dry. With no way to keep them out, flies would buzz around her head while she cooked over the small stove.  Flies or not, she was an excellent cook.  Beans, or a pot of bits of this and bits of that which would become beans, were always cooking on the back burner in our house.  My daughter remembers them fondly.  Homemade tortillas were created on a small round grill, the best I’ve ever eaten.

Often she would try what I cooked.  It was fun to watch her face as new flavors were introduced to her taste buds, sometimes well received, other times not so much.  Her cooking was far afield from what you might find in a Mexican restaurant here.  Black beans,  not pintos and a delicious savory rice with vegetables.  Yum.  One she asked me if I could get yucca.  Didn’t think so, as I believe harvesting yucca in California is illegal.  In fact, I know from first hand experience, it is.  When in high school my friends and I “harvested” one from a state park.  The only way we could fit it in the back seat of my VW bug was to hang part of it out the window.  Exiting the park we were pulled over and our contraband confiscated by a park ranger.  In my defense, I did not know taking a yucca was an offense, and fortunately this guy was on his third cup of coffee and didn’t fine me.  My track record with my parents for serious offenses was already teetering on the brink.

Often I wonder where Carmen is now and hope she’s doing well.  During her stay with us I learned to appreciate how fortunate we are to live where we do and to try different foods cooked in different ways and not always settle for what is familiar. I find it interesting to explore new foods and new people.  Since meeting my other half, I’ve definitely expanded my food choices.  Being from Egypt, he definitely has different ideas about food preparation and ingredients than this Canadian.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with this totally “white bread”, as he calls it, dish.  It is full of cheese and gooey potatoes and terrible for your waist line.  I even eat these the next day for breakfast.  Cya soon.

Bleu Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced very thin
2 onions sliced very thin
2 cups half and half
1/8 tsp. prepared mustard
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated
Paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in large heavy skillet over med.-high heat. Add sliced onions and cook about 5-6 mins. until beginning to brown. Reduce heat and continue cooking 12 mins. until lovely golden brown color. Set aside.

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Whisk together half and half and dry mustard.

Place sliced potatoes in bottom of deep saucepan. Pour half and half over the top. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Spray 2 quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place 1/3 of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan using slotted spoon. Reserve half and half in pan. Top potatoes with 1/2 of the caramelized onions. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the bleu cheese and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Add another layer of 1/3 potatoes, 1/3 onions, and 1/3 bleu and mozzarella cheeses. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with last layer of potatoes and finally last 1/3 of bleu and mozzarella cheeses. Pour reserved half and half over all. Top with asiago cheese. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover with tin foil.

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As I’ve detailed in many blogs I’ve spent a good deal of my life hoofing it from one location to another across our fair country.  This was a story I published when I first began blogging about my times in Arkansas when the only ones who stopped by to read over my shoulder were myself and the cat.

Living in Arkansas was like going to a different planet for me. Once acclimated to the humidity, if one really ever does, I was struck by the amazing beauty and dramatic scenery surrounding me. The water was the first of many differences. Imbued with an almost clay like color giving it had the appearance of a chocolate mocha. Jutting tree limbs poked out everywhere like ghostly figures guarding a somewhat eerie domain. Buzzing insects were a given, ranging from extraordinarily persistent mosquitos to chiggers, fleas, ticks, bees and a entomologist’s happy list of others. Not to be outdone, the slithering and reptilian species stuck their scaly heads up from beneath the browny depths from time to time, or skimmed gracefully along the surface.

One weekend I went fishing for catfish with my husband at the time. Before I moved to the south I viewed a catfish as bottom feeders, something you threw back if you happened to haul one in. Once I tasted the delicate flavor of a freshly caught catfish dredged in a half mix of cornbread and flour then deep-fried, I was as hooked as that well whiskered fish.

I had taken my sketch pad and drawing utensils with me that day, in case I became disenchanted with watching the bobber popping up and down. My husband expertly cast both rods. Handing me mine, I anchored it in the dirt, and picked up my pencil. It was seductively warm and after a while I leaned back on both elbows and allowed the sun have it’s way with me. “Hold still”, were the next words I heard. Opening my eyes I caught a movement to the right of me. A cotton mouth snake was making his way up the bank about two feet from my two feet. I’m not sure if I wet my pants, but I’m quite sure I thought about it. It stopped next to me and sat up as if to say hello and moved on. Everything inside my body had already moved on.

I needed to find the restroom. Well, why not, at that point? What was available was a partially open-air state park type cement building labeled “Men” and “Women” on either side. I had bib overall shorts on that day. I know this for certain because shortly after entering the building I dragged the bib portion behind me all the way back out the door. Sitting down on the toilet I noticed a very loud buzzing which I attributed to telephone wires. Why, I thought there were telephone wires buzzing in the middle of God’s country I have no idea, but we’re not dissecting my mental acuity. Letting my mind wander as one will when occupied in such a manner, my eyes explored the room eventually gravitating towards  the ceiling.  High in the corner, was a huge brown mud-like looking mass with hundreds, I mean hundreds of bees swarming around it. From what I came to understand afterward, they’re called mud dobbers, or wasps. Now, I am a bee freak no matter what you call them, and by this I do not mean I am crazy about them, but rather that I’d rather share space with a serial killer. In total heart pounding terror I ejected myself from the seat in mid-stream and ran screaming from the restroom, the metal from my my bib overalls clinking along in the trail I left in my wake. There were a number of local people scattered around the parking lot who I’m sure I gave something to talk about while frying their catch that evening, and probably still.

Living down there I was always viewed as a “northerner” but as time went by I found people accepted me for that and although I would catch a neighbor eying me from time to time as though I was a specimen in a petri dish, for the most part they generously welcomed me into their world and made me feel at home.

Perhaps coming from Nova Scotia I could never adapt to the claustrophobic heat and humidity that claims the land during the summers, but I can see why so many writers emerge from the south because it is so rich with stories, legends and history.  People wave at strangers as they pass and say hello without being prompted.  All in all, although I probably couldn’t say I fit in, like a square peg in a round hole, with a little adapting and sanding here and there I made it work.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. – John Lubbock

Okay, these are so yummy I serve them as appetizers or as with tonight next to my chicken tenders. Just addictive. This recipe will serve 6.

Parmesan Potato Stacks

1/4 cup melted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 large russet potatoes, sliced very thin
4 scallions, chopped fine
6 pieces of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 cups Italian blend cheese, shredded
1/2 cup 3 cheese blend (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago), shredded
Sour cream and chives for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray 6 slot muffin pan (large muffins) with cooking spray.

Melt butter and garlic together and cook for 3 mins. Remove from heat. In large bowl combine butter/garlic mix, seasonings, 1 cup of Italian blend cheese, 1/2 cup 3 cheese blend, scallions, crumbled bacon and potatoes. Using your hands, separate potatoes and coat all pieces completely with seasoning and butter.

Stack evenly in the 6 muffin slots. Sprinkle with remaining cup of Italian blend cheese.

Bake uncovered for 20 mins. Tent potatoes and continue cooking for another 25-30 mins. until golden brown and potatoes are tender.

Serve with sour cream and chives. Yum.

© http://www.susartandfood.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Sunday, as holidays go, sucked.  But, Easter of all holidays is most certainly not meant to be all about Susie.  First, I filled my watering pot to douse my plants since we’ve been away.  The cat, ecstatic to have company wound around my legs and put me off balance. As dominoes will fall when in line, I then knocked over the water dousing my other half’s cell phone which was plugged in and charging. Water poured over the counter on the cat, who freaked out knocking my Easter lily over depositing dirt all over my floor.  Oh-oh.  As my mind was exploring the prospect of booking a flight to Bermuda before my other half discovered his cell phone possibly totaled, he walked in find me trying to dry it with a blow dryer.  This was not going to go well I felt.   Needless to say, as happy campers go, he was falling considerably shy of goal on winning his Mr. Sunny Personality Badge.  Sigh.  Is there a place I can go to trade myself in for a new model?  This one just is not serving me well anymore. It appears following the soaking, the phone has developed a shadow beneath the lens which I’m told is water.  Not bad enough, when you dial a number it screams like a cat with its tail stuck in the door and will not stop.  I’m no phone tech, but my guess is this significantly diminishes its value to the owner, and mine to my other half. We have removed the battery and put both the phone and the battery in rice.  If this doesn’t work Bermuda is just a phone call away.

After the cell phone debacle, family issues began to pop up early afternoon like bubbles on a griddle cake.  One after the other to the point that I seriously considered dousing the house phone as well in the hopes it too would become dysfunctional.

To add to my other half’s rapidly diminishing good humor, I’d left the refrigerators virtually bare before we left as there was no point in shopping for an empty house. So, beyond what I’d bought in the Bay Area for Easter dinner, the only option for a snack was a catsup and Dijon sandwich between a couple of pieces of stale Swiss cheese. Also, we had no veggies in the bin so I had to ask my grumpy honey if he’d mind trekking to the store for some asparagus spears or perhaps a zucchini or two.  In the event of a mood flare I took the cattle prod out of the junk drawer before I asked him and kept a small baby and a kitten between us for protection.  This wouldn’t have been such a big deal except that I’d forgotten that most of the stores nearby were closed for Easter so he had to schlep down the hill to find one open. Finally locating one, he bought a lovely bunch of asparagus, yes it was, Sweetie, almost exceptional, and at $4.20/gallon for gas I was reminded it brought the total cost for the vegetables to nearly a ten spot. In the end the asparagus was delicious and the prime rib out of this world, so his happy face returned and all was once again good with the world.

While at my Mother’s house I needed to do some quick shopping as it was my granddaughter’s birthday and I hadn’t gotten her present yet.  After some browsing in one of the large discount stores, I took my purchases to be paid for.  The cashier rang them up and asked if I wanted a bag for them.  There were about fifteen items so somehow I felt I’d look pretty ridiculous trying to juggle them in the air until I got them to the car, so confused I nodded my head yes.  Once bagged and back in the cart my mother informed me that I had paid for the bags.  Really?  It seems in their area you either take your own or cough up a nickel or a dime per bag.  Undoubtedly this will be happening here down the line as well. As often as I go to the store after a month or two I could amass enough bag charges to put a down payment on a new car.  For the price of groceries these days, I feel they should be throwing in a latte, a bagel and cream cheese, and a puppy rather than charging me for the bag.  One market I shop at I pay less for the privilege of bagging the groceries myself.

My mother was on a roll about pink slime.  Last month it was salmon.  All her life she’s eaten that fish and preferred it above others, but last month she purchased a salmon steak that had a worm in it.  Salmon has been crossed off her list, perhaps I’d think twice myself, and now with pink slime oozing all over the news hamburger (unless not processed with the stuff) has been added below the fish.  In my mind if I took to heart everything they say about the food we eat, I’d be whittled down to home-grown vegetables (which I prefer anyhow) and water (although from what I’ve read that might not be a healthy choice either).  The reality is there are hidden things in what we put in our mouths.  Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss because unless we all stand up in unison and shout “NO MORE”, there will continue to be hidden things and I like to eat way to much to stop doing so any time in the near future.

So tonight I am going to have my tilapia with its probiotic additives, my creamy and delicious scalloped potatoes laced with lingering pesticides, and enjoy a nice spinach salad which hopefully is not loaded with salmonella.  On the side I think I’ll have some fat laden tartar sauce.

Truthfully I cannot dwell on these thoughts as life is too short.  It does not mean I bury my head in the sand, but that I chose to be as selective as is reasonable without going completely off the turnip truck, so to speak.

Warning:  These potatoes are just plain delicious, loosening of belts may occur.

Creamy Au gratin Potatoes

6 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly slices (a mandolin is great for this)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
Bechamel sauce (recipe follows)
Paprika (optional)

Bechamel (White Sauce)

4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup hot milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat butter and onion in med. saucepan. Do not allow onion to brown. Whisk in flour to make roux over low heat. DO NOT BROWN FLOUR. Gradually whisk in hot milk stirring constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking on med. heat until mixture is smooth and thickened. Whisk in heavy cream and cooking 2 more mins. Remove from heat. Yield 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Mix cheddar and Gruyere cheeses together in mixing bowl.

Place single layer of potato slices on bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with part of the cheese, onion slices and salt and pepper. Continue layering in the above order ending with a layer of cheese. Mix the sauce with 1/2 cup of water and pour over casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Top with a dusting of paprika if desired.

Bake uncovered for 2 hrs. or until potatoes are tender and cheese is bubbly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray deep dish 9″ square glass pan with cooking spray. Peel potatoes and place in cold water for 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and pat dry with paper towels. Slice very thin.

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Our bodies are amazing, truly.  They process our food, according, of course, to how badly we’ve treated them over the years, in a way that only someone greater than a mere mortal could have conceived.  It reminds me of archaeologists trying to recreate the aqueducts of Rome with no success.  Sometimes, perfection cannot be rethought.  However, I’d like to take a moment to discuss teeth.  Our family has been blessed with so many things, but good teeth were not pencilled in on our side of the slate when our family tree was being rooted, no pun intended.  Heredity delineates to a great degree what we inherit as far as health problems.  In my case, I got dental issues and eye problems. 

Surprisingly, with my total distaste for everything associated with a visit to the dental office, I opted to go to school in my mid-twenties to become a dental assistant.  With two small children and a secretarial background moving me forward into the future, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  More surprisingly, I graduated top of my class and after passing my finals took a job with a local orthodontist.

Orthodontic offices, although certainly not totally focused at those of us under the age of twenty, are largely focused in that direction.  Most of our patients were children, teens, and pre-teens, with a smattering of adults.  The office was a busy one, employing three chairside assistants besides myself.  Dental exrays are difficult enough to do in an adult mouth but in the smaller versions presented in children can cause you to lose a digit.  Children are less likely, though not exclusively less likely, to appreciate having a stranger poking around inside their mouths.  I was bitten on several occasions, kicked on more than I can count, and actually had to consult a doctor after the aggressive behavior of one of my small patients actually broke my ring finger.  For me, the worst was that I was the deliverer of the demon “needle of death”, which they all hated, and this distaste was quickly transferred to the messenger, namely me.  It took me a full year to realize, after being chastised for making unfortunate faces during surgery, that this, most definitely, was not the profession I was chosen to follow.

In the years since, I’ve spent a good deal of time memorizing the tile patterns on the ceilings of dental offices and enduring rubber dams, drills, and so-called “painless dentistry”, until the end result is that I have a number of bridges and am able to eat when they are in place.  Perhaps initially we were only slated to live for thirty or so years and so the original plan worked, but I find it could use some rework as we’re all getting longer in the tooth, again, no pun intended, in our old age.  Also, back then we chewed tough meat, rustic breads, and roots so our gums and teeth were healthier.  Now we have oatmeal, avocados,Ben & Jerry’s and a Cosmopolitan to firm those babies up.

Several months ago a friend of my mothers had a dinner party at her home.  Being equipped with a full set of dentures and well buoyed by a bottle of wine, she was scraping the dinner dishes in the sink when she managed to lose her lower plate down the drain which was quickly ground up along with the leftover spaghetti in the garbage disposal.  I guess that’s a good lesson for stopping at that second glass of wine.

I can remember having a job interview at a Bay Area restaurant back in my early twenties.  I met with the two owners of a local moving company at a Hauf Brau  for mysecond interview.  I had a bridge on my lower molars which had recently been put in place.  I ordered a knackwurst for lunch with a side of sauerkraut.  Yum.  As they were firing questions to me about my qualifications for the job, I bit down on the sausage and my bridge dislodged and was now stuck in the meat.  With both men looking at me and my mouth unusually quiet for a loquacious girl, I began issuing a series of hand signals as if I was ushering a plane into the hangar.  Unable to say what the problem was, I pushed one of the men out of the side of the booth and made my way to the ladies.  The only thing to do was to remove the bridge which left the right side of my mouth wide open.  Okay, should I run out the door and hail a cab or go back into the lion’s den?  I chose the latter.  I also got the job, although I did take some serious ribbing about it down the road.

I mention the teeth issue, number one because cooking and eating are high on my list of guilty pleasures, and secondly because of what happened two weekends ago.  Our neighbors extended us an invitation to a “welcome to the neighborhood party” for a couple that had moved in one street up from us. My portion of the program was to make scalloped potatoes and my “Susie Salad”, as they call it around here.  All good.  I got up early on Saturday morning to pull things together.  For me, the earlier I prep things the better my day goes, usually, that is.  When I woke up I smiled at my other half and didn’t get the usual response.  Rather, he was staring at my mouth and reaching for his glasses.  It appeared during the night my upper bridge had developed a crack.  Now, this involves my front teeth, and being a female, and having some sense of pride, this did not bode well for the day ahead.  After surveying my image in the mirror it became apparent that a crevice had formed between my two front teeth that  a ferret could have safety navigated without touching a hair on either side.  Damn.  Also, it was Saturday, so hope of repair until Monday was the best I could expect. 

The people attending the party, many of whom I hadn’t met, I’m sure would assume that I was currently living under a bridge on the outskirts of town, but I’d accepted the invitation and on top of that was expected to bring  food.  Forge ahead.  Some days just start badly and proceed downhill from there.  I put the potatoes on to boil and pulled the peeler out of the drawer.  While they were boiling I washed my hair and prepped the salad for twenty people. 

After determining that my new blouse would most definitely have looked more attractive pulled over my head, I dressed and we headed down the street.  Getting out of the car I opted to carry the salad and my other half managed the dish with the potatoes.  Walking down the path determining to smile only in emergencies, I caught my foot on a length of hose.  Doing a dance straight out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice,  the large glass salad bowl took flight.  Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, buttermilk dressing and glass were liberally spewed all across their newly planted entryway garden.  Last I looked the garden gnome had  a large piece of gooey avocado eclipsing one eye. 

Everyone raced out the front door.  What was I to do?  I smiled. 

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed!

Scalloped Potatoes

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup milk
1 jar 7 oz. roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Mix together salt, pepper, dry mustard, and cayenne. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange potato slices in layers overlapping rows. Drizzle each layer with oil and salt, pepper, mustard and cayenne mix.

Bake for 20 mins. Remove from oven.

In small saucepan, heat mil to low boil. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with red peppers and top with cheeses. Return to oven.

Bake at 450 degrees for 25 mins. longer until potatoes are tender and cheese is bubbly. Top with parsley. Let stand for 10 mins. before serving.

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I’ve decided not to set any New Year’s resolutions this year, so as not to start the year off ten steps behind myself.  Rather, I think I’ll just set goals and take one day at a time. 

Over the next month I have to begin the arduous task of packing up or selling ten years worth of acquisitions, which, for now, is enough to think about.  When we moved in this house, I thought there would be endless cupboards and closets to store our possessions, but through the years our possessions grew and the space diminished, so I have a big job ahead of me.

Leaving this house is bittersweet for me.  This year, as with many in my life, will involve relocating.  For those of you that read my blog regularly you know that I’ve lived in Washington, Alabama, Massachusetts, California, West Virginia and Arkansas, having logged thirty-three moves during my travels.  My first two jobs out of high school were working for moving companies, so maybe the universe was giving me a sign of things to come.  Packing, for me, seems to be more a career choice than an option.

So many people across the country are facing the prospect that their futures are in the hands of the sagging economy, so without regrets for a great ten-year run, I choose instead to look forward to new adventures, meeting new people, and setting up house in a new location.  Where, we haven’t quite decided yet, but that’s part of what makes life so interesting. 

Everywhere I’ve moved along the way I’ve been fortunate to acquire a great set of friends at each new location and like flypaper, when I make a friend, I tend to hold on to them, so I enjoy the diverse group that inhabit all the corners of my life and my heart. 

When I left Alabama to move back to West Virginia for the second time, I decided that I’d had enough of packing up a three bedroom houseful of furniture every time we moved to a new job site, so I opted to sell off the bigger pieces and store the rest in a storage crate in Florence, Alabama.  For ten years after that, we continued our nomadic life across the United States, finally ending up back in California.  During that time I made sure that the storage bill was paid on time every month, and that I could one day reclaim my things.

After my marriage broke up in the late 1990’s, I found myself starting over again on my own, with a houseful of furniture sitting in Alabama.  When I met my other half two years later and we decided to move up to Northern California, we called the moving company and $5,000.00 later the truck headed toward the west coast loaded with my storage container. 

It’s funny how you remember things in your mind, and how different the reality can be from what you imagined.  The large crate was deposited in our garage and pried open.  Inside was an enormous waterbed, with an equally enormous chest of drawers and two night stands to match.  Handily, I had remembered to store the pump.  There was a hope chest that had suffered water damage, numerous boxes and several lava lamps (you never know when you might need a couple), twenty teddy bears, and a mish mash of other absolute must haves for our viewing pleasure.  One huge box I opened actually just contained a large hot pink salad bowl.  How lucky. 

The good things were the treasures my grandmother had left me when she passed, family photo albums, dishes, and memorabilia from my travels, that although not worth the $10,000.00 it had cost me over the years on the open market, were worth far more than that to me, so it was good.  Also, I found an alarm clock that was a bugler that still tooted reverie after all that time, which, according to the driver, he chose to do for 2,500 miles across the country after time he went over a bump.  Sorry.

Last night I made the best babyback ribs for dinner, with scalloped potatoes that were awesome.  Tonight it’s hamburgers, my last meal of choice was I on death row, and my favorite comfort food.   These are Bleu Cheese Burgers which is a recipe my other half created, and absolutely mind blowingly good.  Search for Bleu cheese burgers on my blog page to find the recipe if you’re interested in trying them.  Today I’m sharing the scalloped potatoes.

Scalloped Potatoes with Roasted Peppers

1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. parsley
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
6 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Wash and seed red bell pepper. Cut into 1/2″ slices and mix with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Place in 400 degree oven for about 15 mins. turning frequently until peppers are cooked through and slightly blackened. Remove and let cool. When slightly cooled chop and set aside.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. In large saucepan saute onion in butter until translucent. Whisk in flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add milk all at once and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, and parsley.

Place half of the thinly sliced potatoes (I leave skins on but you can peel if you’d prefer) in greased 2 quart rectangular baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Pour half of the sauce over to cover. Sprinkle red pepper evenly on top and top with bacon crumbles. Place remaining potatoes on top of bacon in layers. Top with remaining sauce.

Cover and cook for 1 1/4 hours. Remove cover and cook for an additional 15 mins.

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