Friday, September 30, 2011

What a nickel will buy

Today I was shopping at this very eclectic independently owned "dollar-ish" store.  They specialize in household stuff as opposed to "anything for a buck" stuff, running the gamut from 50 cent plastic baskets (I bought 2) to mattresses and the prices are amazingly low.  While the proprietor was ringing up my order (total of $3.14 for 2 plastic baskets and 2 mesh laundry bags, one bag with individual pockets which seems pretty cool) and I was looking for change, another man came to the counter to buy some brown paper envelopes which he clearly needed to mail something immediately as in his other hand he was holding a sheaf of papers.  His total came to $1.05.  The problem was he only had $1.  Envelope man explained that he didn't have the 5 cents, he only had $1.  So without batting an eye the proprietor said "Pay me next time.  This is a $.99 business.  I can't afford to lose five cents."  but he let him have the envelopes.  By this time he had given me my change to I handed him back a nickel to cover envelope man and everyone said thank you.  So a nickel bought us all a bit of human kindness for the day.  Seems like a bargain to me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The best part of the party was the cheese sticks

No, actually the party was great.  The weather cooperated and the rain was over and it was just overcast.  Having all the food prepped so that I only needed to pull it out of the refrigerator and put it on the table was a great help.  And making everyone do their own grilling kept me from becoming the cook/waitress for the party which is my usual role.  Turnout was a bit lighter than expected so I've frozen some of the fabulous steaks that were left.  The steaks were really fabulous but what turned out to be the hit of the party were the cheese sticks.  I made these before the famous Father's Birthday Party and had them in the freezer since I didn't need them for that party.  I pulled them out for this party, crisped them in the oven a few minutes and everyone LOVED them.  And they are so easy to make you can have them anytime.

Parmesan Cheese Sticks

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed according to package directions.  I used Trader Joe’s and thawed about 10 minutes.  The Trader Joe’s pastry comes two sheets in the package so go ahead and double the recipe since these can be frozen.  The amounts below are for ONE sheet of pastry.

1 C fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese

½  - 1 teaspoon paprika (I use Hungarian paprika that has a bit of taste, not the regular paprika which is just red color)

½ teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly on the work surface and roll out the square of pastry on the cheese. 

Combine remaining cheese, paprika and cornstarch and sprinkle on the pastry.  Keep rolling the cheese mixture into the dough, turning over a few times until all the cheese is embedded in the dough and the pasty is about 1/8 inch thick.

Use a pizza wheel to cut into ½ inch strips about 5-6 inches long.  Carefully place the strips on a “Pam-ed” or parchment paper lined cookie sheet (do not use the “air” cookie sheets or these will never brown).

Bake 13-16 minutes until browned and crisp.  Keep checking on them.  Mine seem to get brown really quickly toward the end of the cooking time. 

Cool 5 minutes on the pan and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in airtight container.

Can be frozen.  Just crisp up in oven before serving.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The answer to WWJD

Searching on-line for "Wine Out", an amazing red wine stain remover, I found this.  It has nothing to do with wine (or maybe it does?) so I can't figure out why it popped up when I entered "wine out" but it sure gives the answer for those smug, bigoted "What Would Jesus Do" folks that use their religion as cover for selfishness and prejudice.

cook-out update

I have a new best friend.  He is the butcher at the commissary who cut this gigantic piece of meat into nice 1-inch thick rib-eye steaks for me.  I asked him about this huge cut of meat and what kind of steaks it could be turned into and then told him I'd been watching u-tube videos to learn how to cut steaks.  He laughed and said that he would do it for me!  In the "old days" the butcher would do a lot of special services but since all the meat is now packaged before it ever gets to the grocery and they don't have giant slabs of meat hanging in the back I had no idea that they would still do special cuts.  But it may have been that I was just so funny with my questions because the next guy that wanted some special 97% lean ground meat got the stink eye from the butcher.  Whatever...... I now have my meat problem solved.

And the lawn is mowed but I wasn't able to do a very good job because it was so wet the long strands just fell over and didn't get cut.  Maybe it will dry out enough for a quick trim before Saturday.  And I have all the wooden deck furniture covered in giant blue tarps so they won't get all soaked before Saturday.  The wood really holds the dampness unless you have a good strong sun and I'm afraid I may never see the sun again.  I feel like I'm living in Portland.  Forecast for Saturday is still good but deteriorating.

Guest list is up to 20 with a couple of tentative so on my Friday a.m. grocery run I can grab a few more potatoes, the green beans, a few more tomatoes, and a couple of more steaks.  I'm good.  Maybe I should start on the brownies and blondies if I can find some freezer space.  (The freezer is full of ice from the hurricane when I was afraid of losing power.  Now I'm keeping the ice to use to chill drinks, resulting in a freezer that is not very useful for party food.)

I can't imagine how I used to do this when I was working.  I do remember lots of late nights and frantic grocery store trips on my way home from work.  This just seems too easy.  Well, I still have to pick up all the grocery bags and put them away and unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry and........

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cook-out plans

Party on Saturday for Charlie's office.  Right now the weather looks perfect with a high of 77 and partly cloudy (I wish I knew the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny but I'm figuring partly cloudy means more sun than clouds.)  The forecast for Friday is heavy rain so I just hope that the rain comes on time and isn't delayed until Saturday!

The turnout should be small as we are competing with multiple kid soccer games, birthday invites, etc.  Right now we are at 15 and I figure will will be at 17-18 max.

Menu is simple:

Cheese straws,
nuts, pub mix,
cheese, crackers, vegetable cheesecake, crackers, sliced cuban bread

Cook-your-own steak
Potato and Green Bean salad
I need another vegetable or salad - maybe sliced tomatoes with feta?  That sounds good with steak.  Or the chopped tomatoes and red onion.....Final decision is a tomato salad with red onion and feta.  That should be hearty enough.

Rolls/butter  Make more rolls!

Ice Cream and Toppings

Have some hot dogs and chips for kiddos.

Hopefully the lawn won't be total mush after the rain so that we can play croquet, ladder golf, and badminton. 

So my list is -
Grocery shop - Wednesday or Thursday
Tidy and do a surface clean of porch/deck - Thursday or Friday
Whoops - need to mow lawn - Thursday before Friday's rain!
Friday - cook, cook, cook
Saturday - buy ice, set up (Don't forget the palm tree cooler!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Instead of watching the towers fall over and over and over

For the commemoration of 9/11 you should watch these two films showing how much we are all alike instead of how much we are all different.

Inside Islam:  What a Billion Muslims Really Think   An excellent documentary based on research by Gallup, experts in survey research.  This is available at which offers free documentaries for on-line viewing.

And then watch "Arranged" (available on Netflix streaming).

Friday, September 09, 2011

within the hurricane

We were hit with the edge of hurricane Irene, but during Irene I experienced a hurricane of my mother-heart that caused far more damage than Irene.  For this reason I removed all my postings as they had caused hurt to others. (No, not my father, who is the one that I always complained about, and if you've read my blog you know of my plans and concerns for his birthday party, which was an amazingly good party on a gorgeous day-after-the-hurricane and sometime I'll post the video of him dancing!)

I'm currently struggling with what to do. I miss my blog, and I really miss my four readers. I never meant to write anything hurtful but I'm not a skilled enough writer for the small smile that indicates that my entry may be only a gentle teasing meant with love.  And I'm not even certain which of the entries were so hurtful so I fear repeating my mistakes. But I miss my blog, so, I'm trying again.......