Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sometimes you just have to be unsinkable...and laugh

I had a day this week that would have been perfect in a screwball comedy romance.
It started with a late-to-work, crappy hair day. Copier ate my originals a couple of times, banged my knee against my computer stand twice, spilled some lunch on my shirt - but I was OK. It's Christmas time! I am Happy!
I go home, the newspaper is wet, mail damp but I go into the house to meet the kitties inside and let others in so the feeding can begin.
My nose twitches. I feel like Will Smith in 'Independence Day:' "WHAT the hell is that SMELL????"
Charlie left our bedroom door open in spite of a warning not to since we've had some bad behavior regarding inappropriate poops in there.
That's where my nose led me and I discovered that several kitties had urinated in the same place, ON THE BED, to the point that the comforter, both blankets and top sheet were wet.
My mood has suffered a crack, but I am still chipper and I strip the bed, go open 15 cans of wetfood for the horde,and start sorting the bedding. Sheets go in first.
Did I mention several calls from corporate on an emergency of their own making? Yah.
The washer has begun to fill and I wipe up catfood spills but the water sounds odd. Sounds close, smells fresh, like it is hitting air..OH MY GOD OH MY GOD THE WATER IS SHOOTING FROM THE CLEAN-Y PLACE-Y SPOUT!!!!!!
I turned the machine off, figured out the problem and looked at a wet litter box rug, wet laundry room floor and decided I'd been a good soldier long enough.
I poured a glass of wine, called my husband and told him he was bringing supper home because I would not be cooking it!

If I had continued on my Pollyanna day, supper would have been Ham Pie since I had brought some good, salt cured country ham home from my mother's house.

Ham Pie

2 slices salt cured country ham
water to cover
3 boiled eggs, chopped fine
big batch of biscuit dough

This is so easy it ought to be taught to girlscouts!

In a heavy-bottomed pot bring the ham slices and water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cook until you have a dense, hammy broth. Remove from heat, fish out the ham and cut into bite sized pieces. Just put those into the bowl with the diced eggs.
Add about 3 cups of milk ( I prefer organic) to the pot with the ham broth and bring to a high simmer (watch it, milk can scorch). Turn it up to a boil and as soon as the bubbles start begin dropping teaspoonfuls of biscuit dough into the pot. 5 or 6 is good for a small ham pie.
Turn the milk back down to a high simmer and let the dumplings cook while you grease an 8x8 glass pan and preheat the oven to 350.
As soon as the pan is greased, pour in the milk and dumplings, add the ham and egg dice, make biscuits with the rest of the biscuit dough (flatten the biscuits a little) to form a cover.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the top biscuits are done.
I always serve this in bowls and any left over I add milk to for re-heating. Use whole milk!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shades of Age and food for life

I saw someone today whom I have loved for many years and he has become a shadow of himself. He was once a robust man full of ideas whose very presence brightened a room and wooed all within that room to his way of thinking.
As far as I can tell my beloved friend is not ill, just confused about the best path to a long and healthy life.
He is not the first person I've known or heard of who believed that nearly starving oneself will lead to longevity. As for me, the only really old people I've ever seen who were in their full senses and in control of their faculties had some meat on their bones. Not fat, just not ascetic.

I love food and love to cook and love knowing that I can orchestrate meals that are good for us.

I hope to convince my friend that good eating is good for him - and I may start with some of these recipes.

Sausage Gumbo

I know, that just sounds awful, but the lycopene in the tomatoes, cayenne and chili in the seasoning, and the general goodness of onions, peppers and celery are all good for a body.

1 bag cut okra or one pound fresh, cut into 1/2 slices
1 pound sausage links, country sausage preferably
1 red onion, diced
2 diced bell peppers
3 diced celery stalks
1 can chicken broth
2 32 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
9 tbl Wondra flour
7 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Seasoning: Chili powder, thyme, garlic salt, paprika, sage and a bit of cayenne - sea salt and ground pepper OR just get some good Creole seasoning, like Tony Cachere's and add to it.

Pour the oil in a big pot over medium high, add flour when the oil shimmers and begin whisking the flour into the oil. Make a nice roux, I've never had it take more than eight minutes of steady whisking when I use Wondra and olive oil.
Pour your diced trinity into the roux and stir to cover and cook for a minute, add the sausage, tomatoes and broth and stir again. Add enough water to cover everything and add an inch.
Now the waiting starts - simmer and stir, add Okra, then simmer and stir some more, then taste and season.
The gumbo should be done and delicious after an hour and is usually better the next day as the flavors love up on each other:)
Serve over Jasmine rice and feel good about eating good food that has lots in it that's good for you!

I just took a pot of this to my son and daughter-in-law this afternoon to keep them nourished as they celebrate their first week as parents. The scent of my gumbo gently re-heating on their stove wafted my way when I kissed my little grand-infant farewell.
I left knowing they would eat well and that my tiny Pixie infant would get the benefit of it later when her Mama nursed her.