I Didn’t Have Any of That So… (Sweet Nothing but Something; Desperation Dessert.)

I giggled because… yes.

You may have never heard about this COVID Cuisine adventure, but a friend FB posited: what is one of the weirdest food combinations that you’ve eaten during sheltering?? (be honest. lol)

I’ll tell you what I told her. It’d be completely dishonest for me to claim my COVID cuisine concoctions differ from my regular, um, creative cooking.

Honestly, though. About a week ago, I stared longingly into my cabinets of mostly health. My general rule is – if I don’t have it, I can’t eat it.

In any case, my jumble of left-over baking bits was mostly from Christmas. 2019.

I had to bring up the stool to reach the high shelf where I put all the should-be-inaccesible temptations. I found partials of: graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows, semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, brown sugar, self-rising flour, regular flour, a box of vanilla pudding, a1/2 bar of Bakers white baking chocolate, two different types of cocoa powder and three different types of sprinkles. 

Among the rediscovered hidden treasures were Tastefully Simple brown sugar salt and blueberry vanilla salt. I was also in possession of an overripe banana, cream cheese, almond milk, butter, two baby apples, honey roasted peanuts and sour cream.

Considered seemingly viable choices lead me to a dismal Google exploration conclusion.

I had almost all the ingredients to make something. Unfortunately, these particular ingredients made nothing. (Nothing normal, anyway.)

Banana Pudding? No wafers

Banana Bread? Not enough bananas.

Cheesecake? No eggs or heavy cream or any type of cream.

Chocolate chip cookies? Sigh, no eggs.

Apple cobbler? No white sugar. Besides the pitiful apples might not even make a cup, leaving more cobbler than apple.

S’mores? No graham crackers, but I did have a couple cups of pre-crushed crumbs.

Where my mind went after about an hour of recipe search:

I can almost make a cheese cake. I don’t have eggs, but I do have an overripe banana. Didn’t I read somewhere once that bananas could replace eggs? Hmm. Suppose I mashed the fruit to replace the eggs? Mashed banana has a tighter consistency than eggs, so it seemed logical to me. Plus, banana cheesecake didn’t sound too bad.

Suppose, I added some chocolate chips? Ooo, banana chocolate chip cheesecake! “Now, we’re getting somewhere,” I announced to Blu. I received a yawn and a “why-did-you-disturb-me?” slow blink of indifference. “Maybe not,” I thought.

“Well, how about a S’mores pie?” If I used the vanilla pudding and powdered cocoa, made a graham cracker crust and plopped some chips and mallows on top? Maybe. Then, I had second thoughts about making a pie because I’d have to eat it. All. By myself.

Aha! I can make mini cakes in my 6-cup pan. There’s some portion control, right there. So, that’s what I did, sort of.

I made graham cracker crust cupcake shells. While those were baking, I slid back to the cheesecake idea. Yeah. That was it. The perfect tasty experiment. I mean, you know, all the pieces were yummy, so…. Banana Chocolate Chip Almost No Bake Cheesecake.

On my quest, I’d come across a tip that indicated using marshmallow fluff in a cheesecake batter helps it firm. I didn’t have any of that. I did have some humidity-melded marshmallows and the forethought to halve the closest recipe I could locate.

Crust (from the box): 1.25 cups graham cracker crumbs, 4 tbs butter

Filling (adapted): 4 oz cream cheese, 1 mashed overripe banana, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla.

Topping: 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Because that’s all I had.)

I placed each graham cup in one of 5 Pampered Chef small prep bowls. Remember, portion control. I planned on eating the 6th.

Flopped some filling in each, sprinkled chips and considered. Seemed to be lacking something. I still had a hankering for s’mores. So, a glob of mushy marshmallow landed on top.

When I was done assembling, a 15-second microwave run heated the taste-test. For some ridiculous reason, I saw the bowl of gooey goodness and decided to  mix it all up. It wasn’t baaaaaddd. There just weren’t any clear-cut flavors, and the brownish, lumpy presentation was lacking. I ate it.

I tried being a bit more reasonable on Sunday. Heated for same 15 seconds, let cool for a minute and spoon scooped through the layers. There’s no logical reason why it tasted so much better. In fact, I ended up eating two on Sunday. Not back-to-back, though. Portion control.

I’ve got this one on the counter waiting for me to nuke after I finish blogging tonight.

Quote for the Week:

Stay Safe Home Mode

My Foodsaver  and my freezer are my god-sends. So much so, that I truly believe I could go another 3-4 week in Stay Safe mode.

Not quarantined, not anymore self-isolated than usual, it’s pretty much just business as usual for me, except for the shortened commute.

Working from home has taken some getting used to. I’ve always imagined that I’d love it, and I do. The thing is, I imagined it with better equipment.

Downsizing from two huge monitors at work to my tiny laptop has been a challenge. My mini mouse requires a lot more maneuvering. Although, I’m not sure why since I’m sliding over a smaller surface.

My micro set-up unfortunately lends itself to completing one task at a time. I’m more of the handle-it-right-now-if-possible type. Too many windows can be a bit too much for my 5-year oldie to handle and too many layers for me to keep track of.

HBlu’s noticed that opening and closing files to limit electronic desktop clutter requires a lot of clicking.

At least, that’s how I’m interpreting the increase in those huffy cat-sighs while he lounges in the office recliner. Honestly, though, he might be sighing in the lounger because I wouldn’t let him squeeze into that small spot reserved for my mouse and pad. I cleared off the whole other 2/3 of the desk for him. But, no. He must occupy that corner.

Anyway, the point is, still working full days.

Don’t have any more free-time than I had. My 10-minutes-on-a-slow-day roundtrip commute gives me 5 extra minutes in the morning.  Plus, another whopping 5 in late-afternoon.

Still, somehow, I’ve been managing to get up 30 minutes earlier than norm. I made in onto the treadmill 4 out of 5 days before work my first week. A trend I plan to keep up.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve cut down on unnecessary glamour. (wink, wink.) Mascara and lipstick-free isn’t as freeing as I imagined. Being truly comfortable, however, is.

I’ve uniformed into jeans and a t-shirt; a comfy sweater and no-shoes sock-footed feet. I do wear my trusty Fitbit to remind me that good leg circulation is just as important at home as it is in the office.

My super cool two-person office desk has been used more this month than all of last year. Face it, we all sofa and laptop when we can. But, real desk work requires, well… a desk.

Sturdy good-posture invoking chairs have been inspirational. Early morning pre-work workouts admittedly encouraged by the “Gee, shouldn’t these chairs be a little wider in the thighs?” question the slightly sore sides of my legs are asking. It’s really more about the shape and style of the chair, as opposed to, you know an actual ergonomic office chair.

The most repeated online advice for home-bound, self-protective or mandated work-at-home isolation has been to stick to your normal routine.

That’s good advice. Get up, get showered, get dressed, go to work.

My personal advice? Loud music will help you ignore the 4+ hours of springtime edging and weed-whacking, whine and buzz in your neighborhood.

Lessons on Working From Home:2020 03 31 working from home lesson 1 music jakorte2020 03 31 working from home lesson 2 jakorte

ps. recessing from my year of  memories. just seems now isn’t a good time to add to the sadness.

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)

 

Bus-ted

I didn’t fully understand the situation. I knew we’d be ‘camping’ on a bus and grilling and watching races.

I didn’t know the bus would “go-in” on a Wednesday or Thursday. I didn’t know the bus would require a pre-race day running to see if it would start and stay started.

I didn’t know a test drive was required to determine if the bus would continue to run once out on the road. To see if it would keep running while driven, and if not, to fix whatever seemed to be wrong. And lastly, as Jeff put it, “to make sure the wheels on the bus go round.”

The first two were accomplished without me, which was fine. The last one, made me laugh thinking of that old school bus song. Historically, Jeff had been a great tour guide, so I was looking forward to getting a first ride around the local back streets.

We climbed in the remarkably less stinky bus. Jeff cranked the key hard to started the engine. It coughed a little, but then chugged to life with a roar. I didn’t remember school busses ever being that loud, but, then again, a lot of the usual interior was missing. Plus, as it turned out, it was a bit of muffler, too.

I sat on the side bench, next to the door, in view of Jeff, and happily settled in. It took a while to get out of the driveway, which seemed a little more rutty to me than usual.  Seatbelt-less, I slid off my seat little when Jeff turned the corner onto Roger’s Highway. I grabbed hold of the bench, slightly embarrassed and sat myself back into the seat.

He didn’t seem to notice my floundering, but I watching him wrangle the shifting and the wheel and the spring-loaded driver’s seat.  I grew concerned. Driving that thing was taking tremendous effort and a good deal of his strength. I was remembering a skinny, hippie bus driver I had once, and didn’t recall him having that much trouble controlling the bus.

Having crested atop a slight hill, the stuttering beast picked-up speed on the flat-away. I was launched into jumping bean mode. Catapulted; repetitively airborne. Landing with ungraceful “oomph”s.

Honestly, I was flopping around, bounced off of and back into my seat with no chance of steadying. There was no point in trying to speak. Having ridden up many long rises on wooden roller coasters where it was fashionable to create warbled screams for fun, I intuitively knew I’d be incoherent.

It’d be like shouting into a fan, while riding a bike downhill on a dirt road. I would have had to catch my breath, first, anyway. The way this experience was going didn’t seem like it’d lend itself to that likelihood, anytime soon.  

About three minutes into our excursion, I finally got the chance, when Jeff necessarily downshifted at stop sign.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 07 24 the wheels on the bus jakorte

 

Like it’s 1999…

M2K. Jeff bought the tickets well in advance.

We had them in our hands way before either of our jobs created a mandatory on-call 1999 New Year’s Eve melt-down emergency plan.

We thought about it. Keeping our jobs was a necessity.  Rationally, we ultimately decided if the world was gonna melt down, if all communication was gonna cease, no one would be able to contact us anyway, so, we might as well be where we’d be enjoying the end of the world as we knew it.

The dilemma was, my parents were still in Michigan and my Dad was hoping for a New Year’s Eve gathering. After being in the hospital so long, and worried about his mortality, it was important to him. I asked Jeff to talk to my father. Weenie that I am I didn’t want to break his heart, but I didn’t want to disappoint Jeff, either.

It wouldn’t be the last time I faced this battle. Jeff faced a few of his own.

We ended up at the Silverdome, M2K Tour tickets in hand, ready to rock no matter what. Of course, I worried. Not about the ‘what if work calls” factor, but about what would happen if there truly was a Y2K. I packed granola bars and potato chips and water, made sure we had cash, blankets and pillows, extra socks and a first-aid kit. Just in case, we were going to be stuck in Pontiac when it all went south.

Jeff was excited about Nugent. I was focused on Metallica, of course. The coolest bonus was that it would be the first time either of us had seen Kid Rock.

From side seats more toward the stage than not, 2nd tier up, the view was great.

We saw everything that happened on that stage from Kid Rock & entourage to crazy indoor pyrotechnics. Ted Nugent came out riding a real, freaking live buffalo.  We were on our feet right until the final culmination entrance of Metallica.

Truthfully, we didn’t see everything.

I  saw everything.

It was 50,000 jammed in people and flame-shooter, super-hot, thickly smoky, and weirdly muggy. There was lots of yelling and cheering and noise and everything that comes along with crowded drunkedness.

I should mention neither one of us had any alcohol. We were Mt. Dew’ing it not only to keep us going at the show, but for the ride home, as well. Amped for sure.

I’ll tell you something else important – I’ve only been to one concert in my life that was louder, and I’m pretty sure they had the audience mic’d to make it seem that way.

Anyway, in the midst of all that, Jeff sat down for a minute to cool down.

And promptly fell asleep…seriously.

Right. In. The. Middle. Of. Metallica.

I woke him up in time to see the televised Times Square Ball drop. I wasn’t the only one holding my breath, either. 50K humans got pretty quiet for what had two minutes ago been a really rowdy crowd.

The countdown began with the usual methodical chant –  5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

At exactly midnight – nothing happened.

The lights didn’t go out, and the world didn’t end, which made the entire audience participation finale all the more outrageous, since we sincerely were celebrating non-destruction and the best New Year’s Eve Kiss, ever.

By the way, it took a good two hours to get out of the post-show chaos and unto the highway. Someone was glad I’d insisted on being prepared, enjoying our snacks on the way home.

Quote for the Week:

2016 02 23 There are reasonable limits for emergency planning jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Dome Memories: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2015/10/29/pontiac-silverdome-memories/74835284/

M Set: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyttboCCv_RNn1zVDHm5g02g-cg6Xo7z2

The Bug: http://www.britannica.com/technology/Y2K-bug