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:

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 

 

Pantry Raid, 04/02/2020

Last week’s Pantry Raid was pretty darn good, if I say so myself. And, I do.

(Brought to you by: Ibotta, Imperfect Foods, Knorr & Kraft)

As luck would have it, Saturday morning, March 14th, I made a long thought-out decision to try Imperfect Foods home delivery service. 10 days later Michigan debuted its Stay at Home order.

Aiming to supplement my current meal delivery service, I signed on for the small box plan, every-other-week. My main goals were fruit and salad, which would allow me to stretch a 6-meal plan into a 9-meal plan.

Delivery was scheduled for Friday, March 27th.  Despite the pandemic decree, my order was only delayed one day, and only shorted one item – both with great customer service and advanced notice.

Each week a standard but varied box is pre-filled for you. If there is something you’d rather not have on the list, it’s easy to switch out choices. If you want more that week, you can order more.

Shopping day is Monday. Unsure of how it worked, I logged in at the exact time ‘the store’ opened. I immediately swapped out carrots. I love carrots, but I’d overdone carrots in the preceding weeks. Cantaloupe, was a more appealing option.

Blood oranges were the first item listed. The notation indicated 4 ct in a box. 4 oranges sounded like too many, so I reduced that to 2 on the counter and moved on. Working down the list, broccoli (1 ct) was a keeper, as were the container of grape tomatoes (1 ct). I reduced pears (2 ct) to 1 and increased sweet potatoes (1 ct) to 2.

Then, I changed my mind. 4 blood oranges would be nice. Oranges keep for a while. Unfortunately, when I tried to change my 2 back to 4, a pop-up message informed me that there was a limit of 3. That was a bit of disappointment, but understandable.

I figured it was like online clearance shopping at Kohl’s; just because it’s in your cart doesn’t mean it’s yours. You have to check out first, and sometimes someone else bought that thing you wanted before you did.

Total box including shipping came to $15.43. Not a huge savings, but it was going to show up at my door, so I was happy.

I was honestly over-whelmed when the bright pink box arrived containing way more than I thought it would. 3 huge stalks of broccoli, 1 cantaloupe, grape tomatoes, 10 sweet potatoes and…. 14 blood oranges.

The little counter clicker wasn’t a “Do you want 1, 2, 3, or 4 blood oranges?” question. It was a “How many sets of 4 blood oranges do you want?” question. That should have equaled 12. There were 2 bonus. There were no pears, but I knew about that, and was immediately credited the $0.85. Adjusted cost: $14.53.

I had a good chuckle after I pulled it all out and assessed the situation. I also paid closer attention to the (ct) counts while ‘shopping’ yesterday.

My next box comes Friday. I still have 2 blood oranges, 5 sweet potatoes and ½ container of tomatoes to go this week. I’d say that’s pretty perfect timing.

***

Interested? Use my link to sign-up and get $10 to shop and create your own perfect imperfect box. You can thank me later 🙂 http://imprfct.us/v/jodi_995

Quote for the week: 2020 04 07 nows as good at time as any imperfect foods jakorte

An Ibotta rebate made the Knorr rice free. I got back $139 back from Ibotta in 2019. You should try that, too.

My Referral Link: https://ibotta.onelink.me/iUfE/8cc13c64

 My Referral Code: vuodlbm

 

 

The Cornbread Lesson

There’s an obvious family trait passed down from Nannee to Sally and then to Jeff, and Eric and Nicole – having a purpose was and is important to each of them. I don’t know that it’s ever been acknowledged, but the way I’ve seen it, that purpose was always to be sure everyone was treated as if they were the most important person in the world, and to do everything in their power not to be a burden to anyone else.

Jeff and I talked it over and knew Nannee was independent enough, and that she’d be stubborn enough, to not accept our permanent hospitality. We didn’t kidnap her, we just kindly informed her she would be coming to stay with us for a weekend… or so.

The first time Nannee stayed with us was only for a day or so. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit but had to get home to attend to her laundry.

The next time was 2 full days and we brought her laundry with her. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit, but had to get home for her mail.

The third time, Nannee said she had the flu, and welcomed a little more extended stay. She lasted an entire week, and by the end of her visit, she was up and about, doing our laundry and helping cook dinner.

I arrived home about an hour later than normal one Friday night after another long week of 9 ½ hour days and 2 ½ hour vanpool commuter roundtrips to find that they hadn’t waited for me for supper. I was overly tired, unreasonably disappointed and very hungry. There’s a common name for that now: hangry.

They were watching TV, Nannee on the couch and Jeff in his chair, when he called out to me from the den, “There’s chili on the stove and corn muffins on the counter!”

I walked into the kitchen, took a look at the counter and yelled, “What the hell, Jeff?!?!”

“What?” he asked in that hurt and hesitant voice I wish I hadn’t induced many times and wish I could forget now, as well.  “What the hell did you do this muffin pan?” I raged.  “There’re gouge marks in every cup!”

When I peered through the pass-thru, Nannee was looking concerned. Jeff’s eyes were huge. He was shortly shaking his head and doing an abbreviated version of the hand-jive, which dramatically finished with the universal finger across the neck sign for “Stop!” I immediately assimilated what that meant, burst into tears and ran into our bedroom.

When I didn’t come back out, Jeff came in after me. “She was just trying to help out,” he said. “She really wanted to do something nice for us.” When I just kept crying, Jeff continued, “She’s feeling pretty good. We had a fun time cooking together.” I felt like a heel and told him so. “It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not!” I wailed. “Give me a minute and I will come apologize.”

By the time I got myself together and changed my clothes, Nannee had decided to go to bed. I felt even worse about that. “It’s ok,” Jeff said. “She understands. I told her you were sorry and she said that she’s glad you feel like you’re able to be yourself around her.”

Saturday morning, Nannee decided it was time to go home, again. “It’s the weekend,” she reasoned. “You should be able to relax and spend some time together without me here.”

I apologized profusely. If I had known she’d been the one to ruin the pan or even if Jeff had been responsible, I had no right speaking to either of them that way. They’d made me dinner and I behaved poorly.

Nannee just pshaw’d me. “Life has bumps,” she said. “.. ‘t doesn’t make the love any less.”

In this case, it made the love even more.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 23 life has bumps jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Say It: Hangriness

Don’t Say It: Biblically Speaking

Eat This: Cornbread

Schmaltz from the Mustard Guy

Jeff & I talked about his possible conversion to Judaism, before and after our wedding.

He bought The Jewish Book of Why, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. By the end of those he knew more than I did about the history of Judaism. Which wasn’t that surprising. The Sunday school snippets I had studied 30 years prior, hadn’t stuck well, and was mostly lost due to our non-practicing dynamic.

Jeff studied The Joy of Yiddish that had come along with me in my book collection. I told him that was a mostly lost language, but he thought it would be fun to be able to throw terms at and around with my dad. He threw them at me, too. Those had stuck well, go figure.

I came home one day and found Jeff reading 1,000 Jewish Recipes… like a text book. Cover to cover. He did that with every cookbook. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone else who read cookbooks like Jeff.

I mentioned that I was surprised he’d done that. I wanted to know why he didn’t just pick a recipe and make something.  Jeff answered, “Well, you should never do something without knowing why you’re doing it. Might not come out right.” He always wanted to know why. Why do you add this after that? Why should you use this ingredient instead of that? In this case, he was looking for the history behind the recipes. So, he could learn a little more.

Let me tell you, Jeff made a mean rye bread and amazing latkes. Cooking was one of Jeff’s passion hobbies. He subscribed to cooking magazines, bought cookbooks, and visited many online recipe sites.

I definitely benefitted from that. He’d cook and I’d clean up, except when something shot up out of the food processor or mixing bowl. In that case (or those cases), Jeff was in charge of cleaning the ceiling and cabinet doors.

Years later, Jeff discovered a new vendor to help supply our store. He was tremendously excited. He emailed me and then he called me to make sure I saw the email. He couldn’t wait until I got home to tell me that he’d found us schmaltz supplier.

Schmaltz, if you are unfamiliar with the term, is gathered chicken or goose fat gathered from previous cookings. It’s a staple iin traditional Jewish cooking. Much the same as pig rendered southern lard.

We went to an Ann Arbor temple a few sporatic Friday nights. We’d stay in Ann Arbor after work, and have dinner before. We went to the Passover service and the Rosh Hashanah service. He enjoyed both, especially the shofar blowing.

The more he learned, the more aware became of similarities in our religions. He took the time to explain them to me. I knew very little about his, except for vague notions of Christmas and Easter and that their bible was very different.

We stopped going because it was getting more difficult to get there. Jeff’s work hours depended upon delivery assignments, and Friday nights were busy.

I’m still amazed that Jeff would even consider converting, so he could share Judaism with me. I never asked him to, and I never considered converting to Christianity.

But, truly, based on how things turned out, I know the reason he never got that far.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-03-at-the-intersection-of-love-and-schmaltz-jakorte

Bonus: still makes me giggle…

 

2017-01-03-schmaltz-email-jakorte