I didn’t have any of that, so… Tzimmes

I made a beautiful tzimmes on Saturday.

Not traditional; although, traditional depends on personal experience.

This is important because the recipe I sort of followed garnered an obnoxious commentary on the blogger’s use of the word ‘traditional.’ “This isn’t a traditional recipe,” the troll wrote, before remarking it wasn’t worth trying.

Consider mine a non-traditional, necessity-adaptive Corona Virus edition influenced by market avoidance.

A generation or two from now, we’ll be able to pass down 20/20 2020 wisdom in the form of a common-sense key: use whatcha got.

Honestly, my love for tzimmes is wholesome. As far as I can remember, my mother only  made it once – for tradition. Somewhere around 45 years ago, I was enamored by this sweet stew of root vegetables, dried fruit and beef.

Used to be a read-the-recipe then throw all in a crock pot gal, but Jeff & Alton Brown.

Since I was using my stock pot to caramelize onions, I decided to meat sear in the same.

Stock pot because my larger non-stick enamel saute pan has taken to consistently sticking. 

Since I was using my stock pot to sear, I decided stovetop instead of oven.

Step-by-Step, soon. This is not that.

It’s just a little ‘Use Whatcha Got’ somethin’ to think about, while you’re staying at home.

2020 04 21 2 tzimmes i didn't have any jakorte

Quote for the Week:2020 04 21 every recipe starts with science and grows with jakorte

 

 

Silver Lining Plating

A few months ago, before pandemic hadn’t been a possibility or pondered, I finally decided to try one of those meal-delivery options.

My buy-in took a bit because I don’t particularly mind eating the same lunch/dinner every day for a week. In the dark months of winter, the program became more appealing than spending every Saturday morning grocery shopping – if the weather allowed.

I endured the targeted pop-up ads  (after I curiously clicked) at least once every other day for a few months. Occasionally, I’d re-click and peruse. I made it as far as commitment a few times, but unsurely closed the browser.

The tipping point was an amazing special offer in the absolutely late hours after midnight: a tempting $2.99 a meal.

It was a good deal. It made sense. I did it. I love it.

The plan I signed up for features 3 entrees per week, each designed to feed 2. The variety is super-exploratory and exacting  portions beat my tendency to overcook into submission.

It’s plenty for at least 6 great dinners or lunches. Most times, I stretch 3 meals from  the presented double serving. Just depends on the cuisine and my stash of supplements.

I’m a somewhat avoider of starchy-stuff like rice and potatoes. So, for those recipes, splitting 2 servings into 3 is a good way to lower the carbs. Add a side salad or a piece of fresh fruit and I’m good.

Trying new recipes has been fun. It’s superbly budget friendly to not have to buy a bottle of Hoisin when a recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons.

Thus, eliminating the annoyance of a half bottle of Hoisin hanging out in the back of your fridge, taunting you to find another valid use for the remainder. That’ll go on for a month or so before it becomes suspect; and maybe even another month after that.

Having fresh herbs and spices in exactly the right amount entirely avoids vegetable-drawer bottom disintegration; see-through storage slime, too.

Like anything else in life, you might run into an interesting issue. You may receive the smallest zucchini you’ve ever seen in your life.  Or, one portion might be slightly smaller than the other. On the lucky-side of single, I don’t have to argue with anyone over who’s gonna get the bigger portion.

The good news is that they are super customer-service friendly and always willing to make it right. Even better news, they’re still delivering. Once in 10 weeks, my box was delayed by one day due to business adjustments for Michigan’s COVID-19 stay-home order.  *

I’ve made 33 different recipes, so far. And, have only really messed up one. Well, actually I really messed up two, because…

Quote for the Week;2020 04 14 in Cooking or in Life jakorte

* I’m now at week 11. Every Plate has regretfully stopped accepting new subscribers, in order to continue to serve existing customers. As disappointing as that seems, it was a rather logical decision. Overpromising/under-delivering is not good business practice.  I do appreciate that I continue to receive my subscription.

I’ve not been in a grocery store since March 7th. I’ve not seen the ravaging first hand, nor do I want to. As soon as notice is given, they will reinstate the free boxes of 6 meals I will be able to gift. But, just in case, my referral code is: vuodlbm 

 

Syrup vs. Social Distance

 

Thud.

Not a sound I usually expect on Saturdays. Most of my front step thuds occur Thursday or Friday based on anti-social internet shopping. Tongue in cheek, of course.

Mostly for the sake of limited nighttime long winter lack of light, I signed up for conveniences. Groceries, cat needs, and art supplies are my top three delivery staples.

The unexpected arrival succeeded in shrinking a mileage gap of real social distance.

Ranked in order of cousin-closeness, distances in hours:

8.5 hours to PA.

10.25 hours to MN.

11 hours, 7 minutes to GA.

11 hours, 15 minutes to CT.

“Refrigerate after opening! Hope you enjoy the syrup. Made on my property.”

Adorned with an adorable dog, the enclosed card noted charitable support of Guiding Eyes for the Blind guide dog schools.

This sweetness came from Canadensis, Pennsylvania, courtesy of the closest of my all far-away cousins.

Bubble-wrapped and sealed to perfection, it took me less than a minute to excitedly break that bottle open.

Didn’t see the point of wasting time retrieving a spoon; sampled the first dollop from right from my left pointer finger.

My right pointer light-bulb searched Johnny Cakes. Hm.

Never had much luck with pancakes – always suspected the cause might be lack of a proper griddle. Probably more my impatient and usually irreverent cooking technique.

Considered time consuming, high effort waffles. I’d need to drag up the step-ladder from the basement to reach that high cabinet over the fridge where I keep this treasure hidden.

I followed a few of those endless links within links deep enough to discover fried corn meal mush, eventually arriving at old-school. Old-fashioned cornbread. Fell asleep that night anticipating the morning.

My night-before flagged recipe called for pre-heating the cast iron pan in the oven. The closest I could come without running out to World Market (where I habitually eye the irons) was my non-stick bundt pan.

Don’t laugh, y’all. It worked.

The syrup crawled into cuddling crevices, pooled and was pretty as well as being mighty tasty.

The gift smoothed over miles of distance with warm fuzzies and a fine example of turning the tables on social distance and social distancing.

(PS with MI on “Stay home, Stay safe” 3-week executive order, I’m not going to be driving out to the post office anytime soon. March birthday and monthly greetings cards for April are going to be late.)

Quote for the Week:2020 03 25 sweet surprises can so easily lessen true jakorte

Home, to You

We chose our first dance song because we loved how it represented us.

The first verse was Jeff. The fourth verse was me. Everything in the middle, was us.

The song was a reflection of our daily mutual amazement that we found each other. It was true every day, especially for me.

When we were dating, Jeff was the light at the end of my week.

When we commuted together, Jeff was the light at the end of my workday.

When he was on disability, Jeff was the light at the end of my commute. He was my home, in every sense.

I’ll be honest with you. Every evening, driving (or being driven) home from Ann Arbor to Adrian, the same thought would cross my mind. I terrified myself wondering; will today be the day that I get home and find him dead?

I would pull into the driveway frightened. I would walk into our home frightened, only to be soothed by Jeff’s voice ringing out or reassured by sonic-size snoring.

Coming home, though, meant more to me than that. Spending evenings with Jeff were what I lived for. We didn’t do that much exciting stuff, anymore, but we never lacked for conversation.

We’d talk about the news, recipes, sports, tv shows. We’d talk about the store, about the book or magazine Jeff was reading, my job or some random fascinating fact that he had just discovered.

Jeff loved the ‘who-done-it’s. Shows like Dr G Medical Examiner, the First 48 and 24. He was loyal to mystery books and tv series, such as Stephen King and House. He loved some reality and ‘reveal’ shows. American Idol, Extreme Makeover, This Old House; but had no taste for Big Brother or The Bachelor. Oh, and cooking shows!

There wasn’t a cooking show Jeff hadn’t seen at least once. Iron Chef, Alton Brown, Paula Deen, and reruns of Two Fat Ladies were a few favorites. Almost fitting into the foodie category, competitive eating and shows about farming, ranked up there, too.

It was impossible not to learn something new every day. It also wasn’t premeditated, meaning that he didn’t set out to find an interesting topic to share. All topics were interesting.

It was fun to listen to Jeff while he was on the phone with my brother, Greg. Their conversation always seemed to turn into a fact-fest in a “one thing leads to another” way, which they both enjoyed. It was also amusing that Jeff could out-talk my brother, as Greg would initiate the conversation’s end with, “Ok, well, it was nice talking to you… I’m gonna go now.”

Jeff was my home and my haven, my teacher and my mentor, my everything for such a short while. For a bit, I’d been envious of those who had him for longer; the ones with longer lists of memories than I.

I’ve come to understand time in a different way, though. It isn’t the amount of time we have, or the memories we have to hold on to.  It isn’t about how many. It’s about the important ones; it’s about the memories that hold on to us.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 12 It isn’t the amount of time we have jakorte

Listen to:  Home To You

 

 

 

Snow Food

It hasn’t really snowed yet. At least not according to my adaptive measuring Michigan-ness. That would have to be at least 5 inches. We’ve had a few flaky days; an early artistic dusting of trees. Trust me, I’m fine with this. Never cared for snow.

Jeff loved it. “Oh, good!” He’d exclaim. “Cook and cuddle!”

Jeff did the cooking. I was occasionally asked to participate in pre-preparation. I did the most cuddling. Either with a cat or a dog, but always with a book.

Winter Food. Recipes that only warranted their worth in work in weather cold enough. A not-really-needed excuse to fill the house with warm scents and the extra added nostalgic heated residue of a warm open oven.

Chicken Noodle Soup without the noodles, but with finely diced onion, carrot and celery. Jeff was absolutely tickled when he discovered there was a name for that. Mirepoix became a staple shout in our house.

“I’mma making zee mere pawx,” he’d call-out, purposefully mispronouncing in a horribly ridiculous, entirely undefinable accent. He made his own egg noodles, once or twice. Decided it wasn’t worth it. Dumplings and kniffles worked just as well.

Meatloaf and mashed. That’s where I learned that adding cream cheese or sour cream and/or whole cream to the mash made them silky smooth, creamy. There were no lumps in Jeff’s potatoes, unless he wanted them to be there. If he wanted them to be there, it was because he’d decided to make smashed potatoes. “Not the same thing.”

Adding a healthy handful or two of ground sausage to the ground beef made meatloaf heavenly. Oh, there was goulash and paprikash. Chili and scratch biscuits, too.

Jeff made bread by hand. When I say ‘by-hand’ I mean by hand – hand kneaded, no bread maker. Glass Corning Ware mixing bowls of proofing dough were common on Friday night. The very first he tried was rye bread, chosen for my tastes. It was deliciously denser than any I’d ever had; heavy and filling. Thickly-sliced slabs, steaming warm from the oven, slathered in butter – mmmm.

Maybe, snow’s not so bad after all.

Quote for the Week: 2018 12 11 Recurrently inherited cooking basics often arrive jakorte

Life’s Like That: Rice

Making rice isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s because of the whole don’t lift the lid thing.

Watching my pot not boil, I have time to think. I’ve been studying my life, lately. Trying to determine self-worth against a fear of no-worth. Trying to remember to trust God.

I snicker, and Blu answers questioningly. If I’m standing here because I can’t trust the outcome of my rice, how can I trust Him on things bigger than potential burnt grain? I snicker again, and Blu huffs a sigh, curling back into cat-nap position.

Right. They’re two different things, aren’t they? Umm, are they?

This is what happens when I can’t lift the lid. I compulsively stay nearby for rescue and the sake of safety. Puttering around rearranging cabinets, wiping out drawers, my Fitbit faithfully paces steps in my galley kitchen.

A boil over would singe my last nerve tonight. After a 7-hour seasonal cleaning marathon, I’ve realized I’m not done, but my body is. Treadmill time doesn’t create kneel-stand-stretch-pull-bend endurance.

I gauge the roil. I re-read the instructions and unsurely determine its time to turn down the heat. The timer is active, but I am not.

I’m still standing there thru the simmer, and its not looking good. There seems to be too much water. At least that’s how it looks thru the lid. I’m determined not to burn. So, I wiggle the pot in lifted circles; ‘stirring’ within the rules, not lifting the lid. It’s not any clearer what’s going on in the there.

At 12 minutes, it suddenly is. Clearer. Now a slurry of milky roiling water and slightly swollen rice nubs, this feels like the dangerous part. The critical point where I really want to stir the pot. I swirl the pan again, and lament that nothing’s significantly moving. Then, it hits me: not much water – that’s a good thing, right?

At 9 minutes, I recant. Maybe its not going as planned, according to the assurances of preparation materials so blithely plastered on paper. 3 easy steps. Except for the don’t lift the lid part.

Guess that’s life though. Standing over a watched pot, hoping everything will become clearer once the process is complete.

6 min. Yeah. Life’s like that. Your focus has to be just right to see thru the condensation. Rivulets riot with your view.  Concentration required comes with a headache from peering over the heated coil, red-face full of radiant heat.

3 minutes. I can still see simmering just below the surface of swollen bits. Ugh. There’s still liquid; disappointment.

2 minutes. Dear God. I hope this doesn’t burn. Technically, it’s not part of my Keto plan. I do reasonably plan to only eat small ¼ cup portions at 5 carbs each. 35 minutes of my life has now been poured into the procedure.

1 minute. A burn now would be a waste of a full 40 minutes, and waste even more time dealing with the mess.

I’m nervously watching the timer. 30 seconds.

It’s time to lift the lid away. Everything is fine, if ‘fine’ means slightly sticky rice.

Life’s like that. All about timing. Whether you’re waiting on rice or God.

The relief is nice, but short-lived. Success over shadowed by nausea, I quickly evaluate my situation, pull the pot from the heat, find a seat and dangle my head below my knees. All the extra effort, sweltering over the course of experience, worry and watching did not change the outcome.

Will I do it again? Probably.  The same way? Probably, maybe. My treacherous mind still believes in the future possibility of failure. Which, directly connects to my Matthew 6:25-34 struggle. Not worrying seems irresponsible to me. But, that’s another blog.

Quote for the Week:

2018 09 09 Life_s All About Timing rice or god jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Rice: Cook Covered

Rice: Cook Uncovered

Rice: Cook Sticky (On Purpose)

 

Talk Turkey to Me

The first time Jeff used the turkey fryer, it was awesome. He followed directions,  precisely. No matter he was outside in the snow behind the townhouse and not too far from a neighboring house. It was quick and juicy and we vowed we’d never succumb to long-cooking turkeys again.

The second time, there was a little clean-up disaster as Jeff tried to return the used oil to the plastic jug. Unfortunately, the roiled oil was still too hot, melted the jug and ruined his boots. We were both very glad he was wearing full coverage foot wear and not his usual winter sandals.

The third time involved 2 Jeffs and a plan to cook chicken wings out of the way of the freezing wind, in a garage. For some reason, it took an awfully long time to heat. So, they waited and waited and finally decided to check out the problem by lifting the lid. The result was a flume of combustion that blackened the garage ceiling and singed eyebrows. The temperature gauge had not been in contact with the oil, so it was plenty hot and smokin’. The result was a heavily burned, super hot pot that ended up coming to rest in a big pile of cul-de-sac snow.

The fourth time, breaking in a recently purchased new pot, the turkey didn’t cook all the way through in some spots. Could have been the pot needed to be seasoned first; could have been we bought the lower grade peanut oil at a discount store, rather than the good stuff at Cabela’s.

The fifth time, nearly a year later, we took it along with us to a family gathering. To fry the main course turkey, of course. Apparently, the new pot must have not enjoyed the infield at MIS and/or disliked living in the shed. Because, as oil went in, oil came out, creating another slick situation.

So, off we turkey trotted off to Meijer, returning with a new pot, more oil and an ugly pair of fish slippers Jeff planned on bring to his family’s Christmas exchange. I’m not quite sure which brotherly direction it went, but one of them had either chased Jeff or been chased by Jeff with an actual fish head.

After attempt #5 and negative incident #4, the fryer was unceremoniously and unsadly retired.

Optimistically, we opted for a smoker….

Quote for the Week:

2017 11 14 when frying a turkey for the first time jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Turkey Fryer Fire Song: by William Shatner (video)

Turkey Fryer Safety:  by State Farm (list)

Turkey Fryer Reviews: 2017 Top Picks

Bonus Picture: First Time!

Jeff Turkey Fryer (2)