Post #795 Some Updates

May 3, 2021 at 11:05 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve got some time, so it’s time for some updates. The first, and most pressing, one is the FiL’s condition. Without going into to too much detail, things have gotten significantly worse, and his operation has been moved forward. We’re leaving for the hotel tomorrow, and the op is Wednesday morning. His attitude and spirit are good and we’re hopeful. With these things, you can never be certain until all the cards are on the table. So cautious optomism is the order of the day.

For anyone who’s read the blog for a few months, this will come as no surprise. Childhood hunger is a subject close to my heart and soul. Anyone or anything who is hungry and in my vicinity will get food. It’s just who I am. I’ve been that way since I was a child, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Adult hunger is awful, but child hunger is terrible. Children don’t understand. Parents of those children have to make terrible decisions about limited funds and feel the guilt those decisions bring. Our country has made big advancements in the past decades in making the public aware of child hunger. Everyone from schools up to huge food coporations are making food available and making it easier for the public-at-large to donate. Summer is the worst time for childhood hunger since schools are out and the school food programs so many families rely on are not available. So guess my feelings when I read this headline recently:

Biden administration to launch largest summer food program in U.S. history, offering up to 34 million children stipends for 10 weeks

The government has always attempted to curb hunger in our country, but it’s like pushing a chain up hill. This seems a positive step. It remains to be seen how effective it will be. And it certainly isn’t an excuse for the rest of us to stop our efforts. But it is heartening to see.

I’m constantly reading in the internet, and in magazines, books, etc. about food or food subjects. I like to know things, and I like to laugh at things. I got a chuckle out of this ad several weeks ago on Facebook:

Can you imagine getting a meal that size for a little over a buck? I gotta guess this came from the early 50s. But the thing that made me chuckle the most is that I used to shop at Woolworth’s, and not so long ago. When I lived in Reno, NV back in the early 90s (that’s the 1990s, not the 1890s), I managed a store in a mall that sold computers and computer products. It was a fun mall, and the owners did a lot to bring the public in. One of the anchor stores was Woolworths. Back in my youth, Woolworths was a “five and dime” meaning that most products could be had for a nickel or a dime. That was the heyday of the store and that was when they had the restaurant and lunch counter which advertised those insanely low prices. When I knew the store in Reno (affectionately called WoolyMart after an up and coming big box store), none of this was there. You could get premade sandwiches, or bread and peanut butter, if you really wanted to make a lunch there, but the sit-down or take-out type of meal was long gone. And certainly those prices weren’t in effect. I hate strawberries, but I’d eat strawberry pie if I only had to pay 50 cents for it.

I’m still loving my air fryer, and have progressed to the stage where I’m experimenting and making mistakes. Yesterday, we decided to make a beef roast with Yorkshire pudding. Partner/Spouse was in charge of the puddings, and I was in charge of the roast with the air fryer. We got any eye roast, which is the narrow end of a round roast. It’s a single muscle wo doesn’t need to be stringed, but it often is to keep it’s shape. We dry aged it in the fridge for 24 hours. I followed the process for a rare roast, and when the time shut off, I left in the machine to stay warm. BIG mistake. Huge. By the time the Yorkshires were done, the roast was well done, crusty, hard to cut, and hard to chew. It was still very juicy which was a plus. And the seasonings were wonderful. But the leftovers are only fit for soup, or for the dog. So, I learned to not leave food in the air fryer, and the next roast I cook, I’ll cook for a shorter time to make certain we get a rare roast.

Finally, what do you think this is?

So, is it bread dough? Is it cookie dough? Frosting? Cake? Go on, I’ll give you a minute.

I’m 50% Irish. This is something I grew up on and detested as a child. Once I wasn’t eating the stuff every single damned day, I grew to like it. It’s hand made mashed potatoes. Partner/Spouse wanted Shepherd’s Pie for dinner, and we had a small bag of potatoes that needed to be used up. Normally, any time mashed potatoes are needed in our house, we use instant from a single use pouch. The brand we buy has many flavors (though we only use one or two) and are amazingly good. It makes just enough for the three of us with a spoonful or two for the dog. And it’s so easy!

I washed off six potatoes of various sizes and used a vegetable peeler to get the skins off. Veggie peelers are not my go to utensil. I didn’t grow up using one and I find them awkward. I slice my fingers and knuckles far more often with a veggies peeler than with a paring knife. And veggie peelers “gum up” easier. Slices get stuck inside them and they stop being effective. So once the potatoes were done, and I cut them into pieces, I put them in a pan full of cold and salted water. I was taught you always start potatoes in cold water to help leach out some starch. Don’t know if that’s true, or if there’s some other reason for it, but it’s what I do, and I’ve never had any trouble with them. Of course, they’re potatoes, so you wouldn’t have much trouble with them anyway. Once they were boiling, I let them cook for another fifteen to twenty minutes until they were tender, but not falling apart. Drained and into the bowl they went, then realized we had no milk or cream of any kind. All the milk drinkers in the house (a club I’m not part of) have switched over to the milk alternatives and mostly the flavored kind. I wasn’t going to put that into the potatoes. But no milk never stopped my mom, and knowing some of the science of food, I decided to use a hand mixer and blended all the potatoes until they were smooth. Then I added a full stick of cold, hard butter and whipped it into the potatoes in stages. Cold butter whipped into hot liquids will emulsify the liquid into a smooth and creamy sauce. I was hopeful the same thing would take place with hot potatoes. It did. Once all the butter was incorporated, I added two tsp of salt, and a tablespoon of roasted garlic powder. Once it was done, I took a spoonful to Partner/Spouse who said they were delicious, and to the FiL who wanted another handful immediately. He didn’t get it.

So for the Shepherd’s Pie, which is traditionally ground red meat cooked in a sauce with onions and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes, I used ground chicken. My mom would make it with small diced potatoes as well as the mashed potato crust. I fried up the ground chicken, then added a cup of chicken broth and a tablespoon of flour to make a gravy. Then I added medium diced onion and flavored the sauce with a quarter cup of Catalina salad dressing, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and a couple of squirts of prepared mustard. I adjusted the salt since it seemed a little too sweet to me, and added a half tsp of red pepper flakes and a tablespoon of garlic powder. Once it was blended, I set it to simmer for a half hour to reduce. Then I added some veggies I had on hand, frozen cut green beans, frozen corn, and chopped Brussels sprouts. All that went into a casserole dish that I’d sprayed with veggie spray. (I hate cleaning sticky dishes.) Most of the potatoes went on top and I used a fork to spread them out and give the top some texture. That went into a 400 degree oven for a half hour until the top turned golden.

It was delicious. But I forgot to get a pic, dag nab it!

I still have some potatoes left, so I plan to make mashed potato pancakes tonight to go with the leftovers I’m planning.

So, what fun things have you all been doing? Let us all know. Have fun, and I’ll post again as soon as I can.

As always,

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