Post #548 What a Week!

September 11, 2017 at 1:11 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today is the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on NYC and the Pentagon on Sept 11, 2001.  It feels like the culmination of a lot of bad events.  Hurricanes Harvey and Irma slamming Texas and Florida.  Hundreds of thousands of people without power, shelter, or food.  Animals wild and domestic left to fend for themselves.  Earthquakes and wildfires, floods, it seems like everything that can go bad has and all within the last week or so.  It’s overwhelming.

We want to help.  We’re human beings and we want to help others.  But it seems like too much is going on.  How do you prioritize?  Given limited resources, and feeling the pull from a dozen different disasters, how do you choose?  If you put your dollars or time in one area, then another more needy area comes up, how do you handle it?

First, you handle it by reminding yourself that no one can do it alone.  You help when and where you can, then you trust others to help.  You don’t beat yourself up.  How you make your help available is entirely up to you and no one else.  Well, maybe your significant other and family, but that’s all.

Second, you do what you can when you can, and find ways to extend that help.  Buy products to put in donation bins.  Buy products whose manufacturers or sponsors are donating proceeds to help the tragedies.

Third, remember that whatever else is going on, life goes on.  Your life goes on.  Your responsibilities don’t change.  You have to pay bills, go to work, play with the kids, walk the dogs, and make dinner.  And sleep.  And enjoy yourself.

Here’s an allegory.  Last Thursday, I made dinner for Partner/Spouse and I.  I’ve been a big protein/starch/veggie man since about the first grade when we learned in the early sixties that your plate had to have all three to be healthy.  So, since I was also working on a story (which I started writing on this weekend), I was making one of my favorite easy dinners.  It really is amazingly easy.  All you do take two cups of stuffing (mix or not) and put it in a glass baking dish.  I use whatever dish will hold the protein well.  I was making chicken, leg and thigh quarters.  I used an 8×8 dish and sprayed it with cooking spray so nothing would stick.  I added a cup of chicken stock and stirred it around.  I oiled the outside of the chicken so it would brown well, and ground some sea salt/jalapeno pepper mix we have over the top.  I wanted the chicken to taste zesty, but the stuffing to stand on its own.  I covered it with aluminum foil and put it in a 375 oven for 90 minutes.  The last 30 minutes will be uncovered so the chicken will brown nicely.

I’ve made this dish probably 50 times before.  It’s one of my quick go-to meals.  The stuffing will turn in a bread pudding due to the chicken juices so no gravy is necessary.  The chicken will be crispy and well seasoned and taste delicious.  Throw in a salad or some other veggies and it’s done.  So this night, I decided to roast some Brussels sprouts for me, and fry some okra for him.  The chicken and stuffing stayed in the oven until minutes before hitting the table.  I’d looked at it a couple of times, and the stuffing looked odd, but I wasn’t too troubled by it.

I set the table and got everything ready.  The okra was bubbling and crispy.  The Brussels sprouts were steaming and toasty.  The chicken and stuffing smelled incredible.  I deftly moved one quarter to my plate without burning my fingers, then looked at the stuffing.  And stopped.  The only cooked portion of the stuffing was what was directly under the chicken.  The rest was brown as leather and turning to dust.  I’m not kidding, when you touched it with a spoon, it went to powder.

So I warned him to eat only the part under the chicken which had absorbed the chicken juices and was “normal”.  More than a bit tough, tho.  I cut into my chicken and raw juices flowed over my plate!

“Stop!”  Luckily, he hadn’t started cutting into his chicken yet.

So, we both ate a ton of veggies, a little bit of stuffing, and this!

We don’t do desserts in our house very much.  But I had all the ingredients for cocoa fudge brownies, and nearly a full jar of raspberry preserves (not jelly or jam) and on a whim, I made raspberry swirl brownies.  It was easy, and as it turned out, necessary.  I won’t reiterate the recipe for the brownies since I’ve blogged about them several times.  So with that recipe in the pan, I dotted the batter with several teaspoons of the preserves and used a spoon to swirl them into the batter.  Then I added an extra five minutes to the cooking time to account for the extra moisture from the raspberries.  So by the time dinner was done, we were full.  We only had a couple of brownies each.

So how is this an allegory for disaster assistance?

My goal was to feed my family.  Admittedly, a small family, but keep it in scale.  Dinner was destroyed.  I still don’t know what exactly happened.  I’ve tested the oven and the temps are correct.  You’d think that 90 minutes at 375 would cook a whole chicken much less two legs and two thighs.  It apparently overcooked the stuffing.  The chicken was completely thawed out.  It’s a puzzle.  But rather than make us wait another 45 minutes for the chicken to cook and to make up a pot of rice only to let the okra go soggy and slimy and the sprouts to go mushy, we did what we could.  We ate most of the stuffing.  He ate all of his okra while I ate nearly all of my sprouts.  And we had a couple of slices of bread and butter.  Then the brownies.  And it was all good.

When faced with the overwhelming, just do what you can with what you got.  I’m not making light of everything that’s been happening, but I’m also not kicking myself for not doing more.  No one else should either.  You do what you can.

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