Post #542 A Cake Left Out In The Rain

August 14, 2017 at 10:22 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is a food blog.  You know that; I know that.  Today, it’s not a food blog.  A LOT has happened over the last week, and this is my forum to vent about it.  But, to start us off on the right foot, here’s a food related picture:

The original caption read: Our generation ate fruit and veggies floating in green jiggling slime so your generation didn’t have to.

Now, on to the other stuff.

In the last week our country was:  brought to the edge of nuclear war; the possibility of World War 3; the likelihood of our allies turning their backs on us; the possibility of an actual bomb attack on our shores; and an assembly of people espousing the rise of Nazi-ism where a state of emergency had to be declared and one person lost her life.  It’s been a roller coaster of emotions with barely a time to catch our breath before the next thing happens.  All of these incidents, an more, can be laid at the feet of our President, who refuses to be a leader, and does what is right for him and his cronies, rather than what’s right for his citizenry.  He’s enabled by the spineless majority party in congress who seem to believe that their corporate sponsors are more important that their constituents, the people who voted them into office.  Clearly, something has gone wrong.  It’s broken and needs to be fixed.

But that’s not what this post is about.

I get most of my news from the internet.  I spend a significant amount of time tracking down the veracity of news stories.  There are some sources I trust, but others I want independent verification before I’ll take for fact what they’re saying.  In short, a meme, while sometimes funny, is not enough to make me believe what it’s saying.  I used my FB feed to like a bunch of different news sites, and organizations so I don’t have to wander all the internet to see what I want to see.  I also have a bunch of friends and hobbies and writing and et cetera on my wall.

Some things make me impatient.  Click bait makes me impatient.  Deliberate ignorance makes me impatient.  Rudeness makes me impatient.

There’s something else, though, that I’ve been seeing a lot of recently, and it’s coming from people who are on the “right side of history”.  It makes me impatient.  They laughing and making fun of people.  That’s not right.

We’ve got a problem in our country.  We need to fix it.  We have turned into a country of factions instead of a union.  It’s no longer the country of “huddled masses”.   Our elected leaders don’t seem to be interested in bringing people together.

When I was a child on the playground and having an argument with someone, it inevitably devolved into name-calling, insults, then slugs.  Logic was never among our standard list of options.  Shouting the loudest determined who won.  Making fun of someone was the thing to do.

I’m seeing a lot of this on social media.  So many people say they want to bring the country together.  Millions want to fix the problems.  But millions of people are acting like kids in the school yard.  They shout the loudest.  They make fun of people.  They point and laugh out loud and insult people’s stupidity.  I can’t help but wonder, “How is this fixing things?”  When I want to help someone, or change someone’s mind, I know that the way NOT to do that is put them on the defensive.  I don’t belittle them.  I don’t make them feel inferior.  I don’t try to impress them with my smarts.  I try to find a common ground, a point where we agree on something and work from there.

Laughing at someone never, ever fixes things.  So why are we doing it?

Another thing that irritates me is someone who’s “involved” but is not impacted by the situation who says “Not my President.”

Guess what?  He is your President.  He was duly elected, and confirmed.  Just as we used to tell all those people who, for 8 years, said Obama wasn’t their President.  I don’t like it anymore than they do, but his is my President.  He is not my President of choice, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s holds the nations’ highest office, for good or ill.  I don’t like what he’s doing?  Then I work to change that.  I write letters to my congressmen to make sure they know how I feel.  I write letters to congressmen who are on committees making decisions about the things that impact my life.  I post things on social media to try to convince others to write letters, make phone calls, attend town hall meetings, talk to their elected officials.

And I vote.  That’s the biggest thing a citizen can do.  I let a congressman up for election know whether they have my vote or not, because that’s the biggest determinate of how an elected official will act.  They want to keep their jobs.

My point is, I work within the system.  I don’t cross my arms, act huffy, and protest by simply saying, “Not my President.”  That does nothing.

When I have to fix dinner (Hey!  I brought it back to food on a food blog!  How’s that for good writing?) and I don’t know what I’m going to fix, I look at what I have.  I figure out a recipe based on what’s at hand.  If I truly need something, I got get it.  But I get the job done because if I don’t, my family goes hungry and that simply isn’t an option.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a pot of rice and vegetables.  Other times, it a crown roast with stuffing.  But it’s always something.

The state of the country is much the same way.  I look at what I have on hand, and use what I’ve got to create something so my country gets fixed.  Because really and truly at this point, not doing something isn’t an option.  People are dying.  It’s got to stop.  The only people who are going to stop it is us.

Yesterday, Partner/Spouse wanted to do something nice.  He had watched a cooking episode on television and wanted to recreate it based on the things that I liked.  When he was done, he grumbled a little and said, “It doesn’t look the one on TV.  It was a lot harder than they made it look.”  But he got it done.

And it tasted so good!  It’s a raspberry/blackberry tart.

Thanks for letting me rant, and please feel free to share as you choose.

 

Post #541 What to Do With That Extra Cup of Sugar and a Dead Porcupine

August 7, 2017 at 5:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Okay, so I goofed over the weekend and found out what happens when you add a cup of sugar too much to a pan of brownies.  On Sunday, since we had a beautiful day, we decided to start by going to one of our favorite diners for breakfast.  They have the BEST bacon-egg-cheese-croissant sandwich anywhere.  It’s just so good it’s all I ever order.  Partner-Spouse varies his orders, but at this place, he likes the waffles, but he likes them plain with just butter and syrup.  So we were both tickled when we walked to the counter and she immediately wrote down my sandwich.  P-S then gave his order which was basically mine on an Everything Bagel.  For those who aren’t in the know, that’s a bagel with every kind of seed and seasoning imaginable on it.  She lifted her eyes and said, “No waffles?  Are you tired of them?”  We both laughed and he said, “No, just want something different.”

Pretty soon, they’re going to know us by name.

After we ate, we drove east then north for an hour and a half just to see new country.  We almost ended up in Cape Cod which is why we headed north.  One of these days, we’re going to head into Boston, but that’s not going to be a trip without a destination.  At least until we get to know the city a little bit.  But we did pass some really interesting historical areas and noticed quite a few antique stores that set our hearts pattering.

So when we got back home shortly before noon, he wanted to make bread and ended up with an artisan loaf with sesame seeds on the outside.  It was so good!  Then it was my turn since we were both jonesing for some home made brownies.

I’ve written about these brownies before.  They are simplicity itself and start to finish, it’s 45 minutes from no brownies to a pan of brownies cooling on the countertop.  Then, it’s a harsh two hour wait until the sugar is cool enough to handle.  Never eat brownies too soon.  You’ll end up with second degree burns in your mouth.

  • 1/2 cup of real butter, no substitutes here
  • 1 cup real sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (if you want a shiny, papery top)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of your favorite kind if you want them

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium sauce pan.  Add the sugar and stir.  Take off heat and stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the cocoa powder and carefully mix it in until completely combined.  Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mix till completely incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts if you’re using them.  Pour into an 8×8 inch baking pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool for at least two hours before cutting.

Anyone can do this.  I’ve done it a million times.  Yet on Sunday, I goofed it all up.  You see, I don’t have all my “normal” cooking utensils.  So things that are on autopilot have to stop.  They didn’t when I made these brownies.  So I melted the butter, measure the sugar, dumped it into the pans, started stirring, and immediately thought, “What the hell?”

There wasn’t nearly enough butter to incorporate the sugar.  I reviewed the recipe in my head to make sure I didn’t forget to add another stick of butter since I was doing this from memory.  I looked at the bag of sugar, noticed my measuring cup, and started cursing myself thoroughly.  Partner/Spouse asked, “What?”

“I put two cups of sugar into the brownies when it only needs one!”

My measuring cup is a two cup model.  And on autopilot, I filled it right up.  Cuz I used to have a one cup model (as well as a 2 cup, 4 cup, 8 cup, and 16 cup) and that’s what I typically used for making brownies since nothing was over one cup.  So griping to myself, I made adjustments in other ingredients to see if I could compensate.

When the brownies were done, they looked beautiful.  Two hours later?  It was like eating chocolate candy coated sugar.  And later than that?  It was a sweet brick.

Of course, looking back on it, I should have just adjusted the ingredients to make a cake and forget about the brownies.  But that decision came only after eating the sugar brick.  It would have been fairly easy, too.  Just increase the flour and add enough liquid to bring it to cake batter consistency.  It already had sugar, butter, eggs, and enough rising agent since I’d increased it.  Oh well, live and learn.  I bet I don’t make that mistake again.

But I made bread today, just to prove I could do it right, and it turned out great!

A while back, I promised a friend I’d re-share the recipe for Porcupine Meatballs.  This was a recipe I discovered in the cookbook my mom gave me for Christmas the year I started learning to cook.  It’s pretty decent.  It’s not made of porcupine.  It’s made of ground beef and has rice in it.  As it cooks, the rice swells and sticks out of the meatballs and looks a little like porcupine quills.  Thus, the name.  So here it is, for my friend!

  • Two pounds good quality ground beef, or a mixture of ground meats
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Alternatively, you can omit all spices and seasonings and add one envelope dried onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce

Mix everything except last four ingredients together.  Form into well packed meatballs as large as you like.  In a large open skillet with a tight lid, heat a tablespoon of oil, and fry the meatballs lightly on each side.  Do this in batches if necessary.  When done frying, set meatballs aside and mix all wet ingredients in the skillet scraping the bottom carefully to incorporate all the brown bits of flavor, the fond.  Set the meatballs back into the sauce with any juices that have collected on the plate.  Set the temp to medium low, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes.  As the rice cooks, it will start poking out.  Serve in the sauce while hot or warm, with a salad or fresh bread, or both.  I tend to go a little crazy with the sauce and change it up to make an italian flavor by using a vinaigrette instead of the tomato sauce and ketchup.  Other times, I’ll give it an Asian flair with soy sauce, ginger, and other Asian flavors.  It’s really up to you how you want to create it.

So just to prove I could be successful in the kitchen, I made fresh thick cut oven fries, chopped tomatoes, and hamburger steaks while P/S made home made onion rings for dinner.  It was good even if the brownies weren’t.

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