Seems like every year at this time, I start to enjoy being in the kitchen, cooking. The brutal heat of the summer has broken, the nights are cooler and again we are getting some much needed rain. There is enough chill in the air that having the oven on warms us up nicely.
Last night, we had some of Randy's Famous Ramous Chili. (often called Best Ever Chili) That was so good even with tasteless storebought tomatoes. Last week was Crockpot Stew. Actually it started an extra week before and we kept adding to it and had leftovers 3 times. Each one better than the one before.
Tonight I made Nutty Macaroons. I cannot eat walnuts so I make part of the batch plain and then put in plenty of nuts in the rest for Randy. They are so easy to make but do take 20 minutes for each batch to bake. Leftovers do not last so make just what you can eat fresh.
And it's been even longer since I've last written on this page. It is still difficult to get back in the routine and nothing is really the same any more. Just an air of sadness and a heavy heart.
But this is the time of year to enjoy the hearty hot meal. Especially the turkey and dressing. I was first hungry for chicken stew and we had that 2 weeks ago. Oh so good. Just wished for some okra to put into mine.
Last weekend, we were set. Just cannot wait for Thanksgiving and now it looks like we'll be having dinner with Randy's mother. He wants me to order a smoked turkey from a place nearby where she lives. We'll have to see how that goes. She has a very small apartment and I hope to take throw away dishes and flatware. But Randy found a fairly small turkey and we baked it in the oven cooker.
We had the second meal of turkey, dressing and giblet gravy late last week and then yesterday had the traditional casserole with sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. That was good.
It was a rough 3 months since last I'd written. Our time was taken with caring for Max as he was dying. It has been so very sad just trying to find things he would eat that were not really bad for him. I fixed chicken liver for him and he ate it once but then wouldn't eat it again. He would go several days with eating nothing and then have a spell of eating a bit on a regular basis but he had wasted to skin and bones (and his sweet fur). But it is so sad to see and feel his bones.
Today I used the new convection oven to bake some sugar cookies. They are so good. The recipe called them crispy and after they cooled, they were indeed crispy which is the way Randy likes them. We had some biscuits on Sunday morning which we'd not had since we gave up the big oven. It is taking a bit of testing to know what the little oven will do but it is sure great. Randy wants to get a chicken and try out the rotisserie. I dread the splatter.
When Randy couldn't find a small pork shoulder roast, we went ahead and got a big roaster. It is so nice. Randy wrapped the meat in foil and it didn't get the pan messy. No clean up at all. The pan itself comes out of the unit to make it easier to clean. The leftovers go into the crockpot for the day, then 2 cans of Ranch Style Pinto Beans are added to heat. Warm a few tortillas and supper is ready. There was enough leftover for several more meals.
Somewhere I had written about the kitchen table falling inward. I had been telling Randy that we needed to do something and made him look at how it was slanting inward. The only thing of importance was the microwave but there was no place to put it and then take out the table. And to build one? Sigh. But Randy had one out in the new house that he wouldn't be using anymore for the house and it just fit in this old house. I love the height which is just a bit taller than the counters. Makes working on meals a lot easier. Besides having room for the microwave, the cooker and the convection oven, there is still work space. And the nice big shelf below... well that is where Sly stretches out in the sunshine to warm himself. For Christmas, Randy got Sly and nice new rug for that very spot. The angle of the sun has just about reached its lowest point of the year but for now, he has great sunshine for a good part of mid-day.
This past weekend, I made an apple pie. Just used the canned but sweetened only with Splenda Apples. The crust was a store-bought and with the oven set on slow cook, it baked it just right in one hour. Better than a big oven where I would have needed to put a ring of foil around the crust edge. I am looking forward to making a pumpkin pie for the next turkey dinner. We sure have been missing that part of the meal.
Randy's birthday in on the 18th but he was wanting a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The caffeine would keep him up all night so I made it this afternoon. It was sooo good. And so easy. Of course it was Splenda with no sugar calories at all so it was light and tasty. With some sugar free Kool Whip on top it was more like a hot fudge sundae since it was still hot. Oh my. I forgot how easy it was to make microwave cakes. When you use the oven all the time, you tend to forget what is really easier. I went to AllRecipes site and found a microwave cake recipe. The rest was easy.
My favorite meal this past week was a cold one. A salad buffet on the kitchen counter. A bowl full of lettuce leaves with just a dash of garlic salt. I don't like every thing that Randy does and he doesn't want all of what I want. So, I fix lots of tomatoes and peel the skins off just for him. I fix mine with the skins. We had a store bought cucumber that was terrible. And some cauliflower and broccoli flowerettes. Some shredded carrots and sharp cheese. Randy likes Catalina dressing and my favorite is Ranch. Some chips on the side and it's an excellent meal.
Over the 4th holiday, we cooked ribs and a turkey. We're still eating the leftovers so the cooking has been simply heating and adding a side dish or two.
We agree that we'll just cook our future turkeys out on the grill. It only takes 3 hours and with the charcoal that comes with mesquite, it has the great smoked turkey taste. I couldn't do better in an over if we had one.
We had the last of the turkey for supper tonight. It was the casserole made with sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, a prepared package of Stove Top stuffing, most of the leftover giblet gravy and lots of leftover turkey cut into bite sized pieces. Heated in the microwave, I kept the leftovers in the same casserole and tonight it was just a matter of heating it again. The flavors are even better as leftovers. Delicious. Randy had made a crockpot full of carrots and broccoli the other night so those leftovers were perfect.
About two weeks ago we made a discovery. We ran out of propane and had to accept that we couldn't just go get more. We have moved back to the days of having no stove and oven. We went to Wal-Mart and bought a smaller water heating pot and a small one burner hotplate. Then we also bought a nice two burner hotplate for cooking. It isn't a sealed unit but it is a solid heating surface and works wonderfully. We also bought a nice electric skillet. We still have a working crock pot. It isn't a slow cooker so that will be next on our wish list. The microwave still works just fine.
The grill is also still working quite well. Just before the propane tank went empty, we'd bought a nice small turkey with plans to bake it in the oven. So the plan was changed to grill it. Wrapped in foil it took right at 3 hours and needed only one refill of charcoal to keep it cooking. The taste was wonderful. Even the white meat was moist and delicious. Some giblet gravy and stuffing and a meal fit for a holiday but a delight for an otherwise normal Memorial Day weekend. I did coat the turkey with a nice layer of Canola Oil and then sprinkled with salt and garlic salt mix. Delicious and we are still eating left overs.
The last month has been a blur with Randy getting ready for surgery, actually having the surgery and now being off for a week to rest and start recovery. Our meals have been the usual, fast and easy. Albertson's (grocery store) has a Monday Deli special on their 8 piece mixed fried chicken. $3.99 is about what it costs for a single bird, raw. That's a good and fast meal. We so like the fish and shrimp. A bit more expensive but oh so good. We compromise by having canned whole potatoes and a can of pinto beans with ham.
Tonight we had the chicken cooked on the grill wrapped in foil and smothered in Ranch sauce. Oh so good and ready in about 1 1/2 hours. Randy had bought a small turkey and had planned to cook it on the grill but forgot to get extra charcoal so that will be for another weekend. I'd like to get some giblets and some raw cranberries to make my own sauce.
We are already into the hot days of summer weather. But it affects how and what we cook. Today has been the only day in weeks where it is cool enough to be baking. The day was hot until the cold front hit and now we can enjoy the oven being on to bake a cake. I had used Wanda's fruit cocktail cake and created a new Splenda cake. Randy requested it and it is in the oven right now. The day has proven rainy and again is falling. I hope it will keep up all evening. I may have to close up the chickens with the aid of an umbrella.
When Randy found a bargain on ribs, he forgot about what he needed for the wontons. That's okay. Something special for next weekend. I fixed the turkey roast Friday evening but we didn't have the pumpkin pie until Saturday evening. Leftovers were polished of tonight.
With the turkey loaf, we had Stovetop stuffing and a green bean casserole. The directions on the roast said to make extra gravy by mixing a cup of water with a tablespoon of flour and mixing that with the gravy from the turkey loaf. But I used a cup of chicken broth instead. Made a world of difference and was ever so good. (Okay, I did add a dash of Accent.)
Yesterday's cake was wonderful. I forgot about the grapes in the fruit cocktail and since I can't eat them, I picked them out. The cake was a beautiful golden brown and crusty when finished but it was done all the way through. Topping with sugar free Kool Whip was much easier than Wanda's frosting though I would have made it. It sounded so good and called for things I did have on hand.
Randy had asked my choice of egg rolls or fried wontons for this weekend. I chose wontons. They are a bit easier to fix and faster to cook. I have some sweet and sour sauce saved from our last adventure to China Garden so I am set. I haven't found one available in the grocery store that comes close. We have a Chinese Food cookbook where Randy adds his own variations.
Not much new this week. Tonight we're having spaghetti with garlic toast. BUT for dessert, we're having a Fruit Cocktail Cake with Kool whip topping. The cake is in the oven and is smelling oh so good. Her recipe calls for using a big sheet cake pan and I don't have one. Her recipe called for a 16 ounce can and mine was 15 ounce. I used my pyrex and it is about half the size but with tall sides. It has now taken just over an hour of baking on 350° and the inserted knife came out clean. The one at 45 minutes was finding batter at about half way. It is a deep golden brown color and not burned as it would be in a metal pan.
The spaghetti and sauce are ready. The garlic toast is baking and will be ready in a matter of minutes. Yes, it smells so good in here. Time to "set the table" and be ready to dig in.
This week's best meal was the Gorton's grilled fish fillets with the beer batter shrimp. That's an easy and tasty meal. We like having fish twice a fish like the doctor says to do but it's so little work that it hardly counts as difficult. Last night was pork chops baked in Ranch Dressing with a couple cans of mushrooms in the sauce to complete the topping for some wide noodles cooked separately. Steamed cauliflower and it was a meal.
Tonight we were going to have a roasted chicken but by the time I had fixed the egg drop soup, Randy only wanted a sandwich and to go to bed. He has the cold again and was feeling lousy. The soup was oh so good and I'd wanted to use up some green onions we had on hand. I have a cold again, too but at least I could taste the soup.
We had the well-loved ribs baked in Ranch dressing the other night. And as usual, they were excellent. I don't measure the dressing. Just take the ribs divided into 2 or 3 sections depending on the pan you have for baking and how big the rack is that you will use. I have a cookie pan which I line with heavy duty foil. Turn the ends up and bring the top over to close with the bottom.
I like to put on a nice heavy layer of dressing, add Lowry's seasoned garlic salt, some Accent, a shake of dried onion pieces and a touch of sea salt. Take each piece of meat and coat the side down then turn it over. Add a little water to the dressing on the bottom of the pan.
Cook on 350° for half an hour then bring out to check on the liquid in the bottom of the pan. If it is starting to dry, add more water. You want to have some sauce for serving with the ribs. Cook for another half hour to one hour, depending on the thickness.
We ate the leftovers of macaroni salad and some potato salad for a few days earlier and had a fine meal. Randy gets the coleslaw packaged raw and tops with coleslaw dressing. I can't eat raw cabbage so I usually go with something like pea salad that I love and he doesn't.
I had made Citrus Squares earlier so they were chilled when time to eat dessert. I had adapted a recipe I found on line to use what ingredients I had on hand. CLICK HERE to find that recipe. I had a somewhat similar recipe but it used lots and lots of sour cream which I didn't have this time.
I started the crockpot last night for today's stew. I put in the beef broth, onion, garlic and about a pound and a half of carrots. Randy loves the big carrots cooked long and slow. The long slow cooking allows the broth to take on the flavor of the carrots, onion and garlic. Randy has the thick broccoli stem pieces in cooking since this morning. Later he will add the broccoli flowerets and cabbage. Perhaps some of the cauliflower. I will bake some cornbread and it will be a hearty cold evening meal.
I'd been hungry for peanut butter cookies lately and finally found the minutes and the recipe so I made up a batch of peanut butter and jelly ones. I have been snacking and they are oh so good. I was almost out of baking powder and am now completely out. Didn't really have enough for the cookies but they came out fine. Just have to stay out of them or I won't want any supper.
Supper tonight will be heating up some sausage. Probably with sauerkraut under the sausage. Very easy and then some macaroni with cheese on the side. Perhaps some canned pinto beans heated. That would be good and a very easy and quick meal.
I'd asked Randy if he wanted chocolate pudding for an afternoon snack or if he'd like some Tapioca for evening dessert. He'd bought another box of Tapioca when I mentioned that we were getting low. He loves it the most. And, indeed, it was his choice for tonight. It is started and will soon be in to chill for later. I make the "fluffy" version and of course, I use Splenda.
Tonight's supper will be ribs. We had pork chops baked in Ranch dressing several nights ago so we didn't want the same sauce again. Randy voted first for the baked with only the spices. I suggested another favorite, the baked in Catalina dressing and it won. Excellent.
It is a cold day today after being almost hot 72 yesterday. The oven being on for an hour this evening will be great. The heater was shut off early today but it's only about 65 in the hallway now and cold where I sit here at the computer.
We are up to 3 cans of pumpkin on the shelf now so I am considering asking Randy to get another package of pie dough. That makes it so easy since the filling part take a good bit of time. We don't have desserts often but pumpkin pie is one we sure do like. Turkey time is always a special occasion but the pie will be good anytime.
The ribs were divine. Messy with the sauce but oh so good. Some baked potatoes, Ranch Style beans and of course, the Tapioca pudding for dessert. Ah, a full tummy makes one so very happy.