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Archive for the ‘in the kitchen’ Category

The Black Hole in my Pantry

I know all about Black Holes in space.   I learned all about them watching Star Trek, The Next Generation, Voyager, and Enterprise on TV.  I have read dozens of Star Trek type novels.  Oh, I’m a die-hard Trekkie.  So I know about those nasty little things known as Black Holes.  They happen when a dying star implodes, and the gravitational reaction pulls everything in with it.  To where ever stars go when they die.  Basically , you want to avoid black holes in space because whatever goes in, never comes out.


Kind of like my pantry closet.

The apartment we chose to rent is  blessed with a good size kitchen.  There are enough cupboards for the dishes, and countertop space for all the ‘gadgets’.  Besides all that, there is a pantry closet next to the fridge.  When I first gazed upon all that space with the three big shelves just waiting to hold all my food, I was ecstatic.  When we moved in and I unpacked and moved into my new kitchen I was thrilled.  I had so much fun putting the food stuff away in my new pantry.
How pretty!
How organized!
How convenient!

Then we went grocery shopping.  Again, and again, and again.  Suddenly, no matter how much we shopped for groceries, we could never find anything to eat at meal times!  Where was all that food we’ve doled out money for?
In the pantry…
under all that stuff piled in the closet.

Boxes and cans and bags of whatever.  It was such a jumbled mess that I needed Mandy our Collie to sniff out where her dog food was hiding.  Having three, big, deep, shelves were great for holding a lot of stuff, but you couldn’t see past the first row of anything.   Suddenly I realized that a new organizational system was needed.  I needed a narrow shelf system where I could see all the little items lined up in a single row.

Thus began the hunt for a pantry shelf unit for the closet door.  Since the door has fancy panes in it,  is hollow, and it doesn’t really belong to us… we figured we couldn’t just screw the shelving unit into the door.  We needed one of those “over the door hanging shelf units”.  I’ve seen them before!  They would work perfectly!

I looked everywhere I thought might carry such a home-improvement item.  No such luck.  So, I went online and searched.  Persistence pays off!  There, it was pictured, exactly what I had in mind!   So I ordered it.  And waited weeks for it to come.  Finally it arrived.  In a not so big box.  Some assembly required I bet.  As I opened the box and dug out all the packing material, I found the nice, neat, tightly bundled packet of wire shelves and two-foot long plastic runners.

“Um…where are the ‘over the door’ hangers?  How is this suppose to work if the shelf runners just snap together?”  I took physics in college, I knew that those snapped-together-plastic- runners wouldn’t bear the weight of all the shelves.  So back to my computer I went to find the web site picturing my over-the-door-pantry-shelves.

You have to be very careful when you go shopping.  You need to read ALL the fine print concerning your purchase.  And you have to look CAREFULLY at the display picture to make sure you are getting what you want.

Eventually Handy Hubby jerry-rigged the shelf thing so we could hang it.

Now my pantry is organized, and I just might find something to cook for dinner tonight.


The Invasion of Illegal Aliens

One should feel safe in their own homes.  The federal government has the responsibility of  keeping  our country safe from invasion.  State government is responsible for the welfare of the  people in their state.  Even small town government have the responsiblity of protecting the safety and rights of their citizens.

So, with all the power and might of these governmental powers, how is it that the average citizens in the US are not safe in their own homes from the ongoing invasion of  unwanted  aliens?

Every year, mid summer, the  hordes of invaders make their way across the country.  You see them every where.  At work, in stores, on the streets, park benches, in barns, and even in the sanctity of our own homes.  It’s enough to frustrate and irritate anyone!

So how has the government helped us in this fight against these  illegal parasites?  Well, they have many agencies that have studied the situation.  They made studies, they have advised us as to the dangers, and they have made feeble attempts at some sort of remedy.

Let me tell you, in my opinion, what has been done for our protection isn’t worth diddly-squat.  Oh sure, there are the usual suggestions such as better border control, proper screening, traps and sticky situations to attract and capture the invaders.  They even have advanced so far as to use electronics and technology to keep them out.  But it hasn’t worked.  We are still over run, and as I stated before, I am irritated!!

The aliens … the unwanted invaders… the enemy that will destroy our rights to live peacefully…

The  fly.

What else?!!

Every year, come August, I go into red alert.  I prepare for the upcoming battle against unwanted flies in my house.  They drive me nuts!  Their presence is an affront  to my housekeeping skills.  “Ugh,  there are flies in the kitchen.  How unsanitary.” So I assume battle stations.  The screens in the doors and windows are checked for security.  The unsightly lines of fly tape are hung around the house.  The fly swatters are strategically placed throughout.  And I attack.

I am deadly with a swatter.  I will chase down every fly that lands in my kitchen.  The floors will be littered with dead bodies.  I stalk the windows, banging away at the flying hordes.  And I count – 16…17…18…19 – as the enemy falls beneath my deadly slams.  My family is wise enough to stay out of my way when I am on the warpath.  My favorite secret weapon?  Our halogen floor lamp.  I turn it on full force and fry the little buggers when they go to check it out.

“What is that aweful burning smell?”

“I’m frying flies.”

I suppose that somewhere on the food chain flies are important for someone.  I just wish they would stay where they belong and not invade my space!

Conquering Childhood Trauma

In elementary school, way back in the ’60’s, we had hot lunch served everyday.  I suppose most schools do now-a-days; but back then,  for a parochial school to have cooks come in every day and make lunch from scratch…that was special!

As students, we had our favorite dishes…Macaroni and Cheese (from scratch, not the box), Scallop Potatoes with Ham, and peanut butter balls for dessert.  But we also had our lest favorite dishes.  And for most of us, the all time loser was cooked spinach. We could smell it coming down the hall.  We would stand there with our big china plates while the cooks would scoop huge piles of slimy, green, over-cooked spinach on to them.  YUCK!!!

I became very good at scooping up that slimy, green, over-cooked, YUCKY spinach and hiding it inside my empty milk carton when the teachers were not looking.

So there it is…my childhood trauma…having to eat cooked spinach.  Why am I dredging up this old trauma?  Well, when I came home from work today, Hubby was preparing our first meal from Dave Ramsey’s e-mealz menu plan.  I was excited.  It was supposed to be Alfredo Chicken.  Sounded exotic to me.  But when Hubby put my plate on the table in front of me…what did I see?

SPINACH!!! In the Alfredo sauce!  All over the chicken, the mushrooms, the caesar salad!

Well, it’s not every dinner dish that I grab the camera and take a picture of my plate.  I had to say, the dish looked like it was straight from Better Homes and Gardens. In fact, it looked so good that I grabbed my fork and dug right in.  Yum!  It was good!  Spinach and all.  Kuddoes to the chef!

Shopping for Groceries

I know, it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but Hubby and I went grocery shopping this evening.  You have to understand some background info on us to fully appreciate  the significance of this fact.  You see, our family has been heavily entrenched in the educational field.  First Hubby and I experienced our own years of education, then our children went through schooling, and on top of that, I taught school for 20 years.  So we were pretty well immersed in the concept that Sunday through Thursday nights were school nights, and we did not go out and about on school nights because of homework.   Even after the school years were history, Hubby and I spend our evening ‘cocooning’.  Usually we just crashed on the couch.

Not tonight.  When I came home from work, we went grocery shopping.  Hubby, Mandy (hubby’s medical alert service dog), and I hopped into the car and drove 12 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart.  Tonight we had a plan.  Our daughters have encouraged us to check out Dave Ramsey’s e-mealz, an online weekly menu planning and shopping program.  (I think they were concerned about our frozen pizza habit).

We were some sight; Hubby pushing the shopping cart, service dog along side, and me with a clipboard trying to follow the printed shopping list and find the listed product.  It was hard to stay with the list; we kept being distracted by all the other stuff we usually bought.  The store was too big!   I felt totally out of my ‘small-town-small-world element!  What in the world is ‘rotel’?  I had to call my son-in-law for help.  Never did find it.

Eventually we got the shopping done, paid for, and packed into the car.  It was dark outside, and we were feeling a primal need to get back to our burrow.  It ended up being another night of frozen pizza, but starting tomorrow, we will be following our nutritionally balanced, culinarily expanded,economical menu plan – Florentine Chicken with caesar salad.  Mmmm

Dirty Dishes

dirty dishes

Thank God for dirty dishes,

They have a tale to tell;

While other folks go hungry,

We’re eating very well.

With home and health and happiness,

We shouldn’t want to fuss;

For by this stack of evidence,

God’s very good to us.

The Kitchen

I’ve been thinking of my kitchen lately.  Must be all the Better Homes and Garden magazines I’ve been reading.  I love home decorating magazines.  Besides the magazines, so many people are blogging about cooking and baking and recipes and menus and… Whoa!  One can’t help but have one’s brain cells drift in the culinary direction.

So, this morning I was surfing through BHG’s web site, and came across an article entitled: “What Kitchen Style Is Best for You?”  It came with a quiz.  (Just what I needed on a Monday morning)  I am always curious about ‘what style is best’ for me, so I took the quiz…

Quiz: What Kitchen Style Is Best for You?

Your Results

Chef Boyardee

Kitchen Cart

Based on your answers, it sounds like you would like a kitchen that cooks for you. But since that hasn’t been invented yet, you’ll settle for one that makes food prep quick and easy. Maybe you’re single or an empty nester, but whatever your situation, your answers indicate that you don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen and that cooking and baking aren’t among your favorite pastimes. That doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate a good meal — you just appreciate it more when someone else is doing the cooking.  Your best bet: For the days you do choose to eat at home, create a kitchen that is suitable for your low-maintenance style. Fancy appliances like a double oven and an indoor grill are a waste to you, but your microwave and toaster oven are likely worth their weight in gold. Consider treating yourself to a few kitchen gadgets like a great electric can opener (perfect for popping the top on cans of soup) to speed up prep time when you do cook. Finally, since your cooking needs are minimal, you can put any extra kitchen space to use for other purposes. For example, you might want to carve out a desk where you can sit to pay bills and read mail. And don’t forget to set up a file for all those take-out menus!

Well, that’s one Monday morning quiz I managed to ace!  Funny, because Empty-Nester Hubby and I were just this past weekend talking about a counter top convection/toaster oven.  I’ll have to show him the quiz results.

Italian Lasagna

Dinner time can often be stressful.  There is always the issue of what to have, time to make it, and time to enjoy it.  I would like to introduce you to  OUR version of Italian Lasagna.

This recipe does require some prep time, but if you plan for it, it works out quite well. Working with the meat takes the most prep time.  Since we are health conscious, we don’t want to buy preservative filled meat from the supermarket.  Instead, we will head out to our friend the farmer and help him butcher an old milk cow.

After a day’s worth of effort, we bring home the first cut of beef.  The neck of the cow.

Now, there is quite a bit of bone in the neck of a cow, so the second step in our meat preparation is to ‘de-meat’ the bones.  This is a simple process of putting the neck in a large pot of water and set it to boil.  The boiling cooks the meat and it falls off the bone.

Of course, we must remember that this cut of meat came from an OLD milk cow, hence the meat will be quite tough.  You may need to let the pot boil and simmer overnight.

The next morning, upon arising, you will find the meat tender and easily falling off the bone.  You will also notice that the pot has boiled dry over night, leaving a nasty little mess on the bottom of the pot.  Good thing it’s a Pampered Chef pot.  Let it soak in the sink for a while, and the pot will be good as new.

Now you have a large amount of tender, stringy beef ready for our lasagna dish.  Using a pounds worth of meat,  season to taste with Watkin’s Italian seasoning, and put into another cooking pot.

The rest is easy.  Add 2 and 3/4 cups of hot water, and 1/2 cup of milk.  Stir the hot water and milk together with the meat.  Next, add the packet of sauce mix and uncooked pasta from a box of Hamburger Helper.  Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.

Once the water has reached the boiling point, reduce the heat.  Cover the pot, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally until pasta is tender.  Remove from heat; uncover, and let sit so the sauce will thicken.

After dinner, make sure to refrigerate the leftovers…

Bon A petit!