Monday, February 18, 2013

Dining in.

So what do we do when we don’t eat out?

During the week Angel and Adam eat early in the evening. Sometimes she prepares something, sometimes she doesn’t. I’ve told her this was quite okay, I’m perfectly capable and willing to fend for myself. Usually I go quick and easy, a sandwich or heated up leftovers. I enjoy cooking but don’t get many opportunities. During the work week I’m usually too tired to make anything fancy, so my better efforts are typically on Sunday.

Also, we as a family do not sit together to dine except when we go out. Angel’s dog business is hectic and regimented, tight schedules, so she eats when she can, and that’s almost always an hour or so before I get home. Usually, about 98% of the time, I eat alone, which is when I get a lot of reading done.

So our weekly outings may seem to some extravagant, even though the places we go are usually far from that, Saturdays out are about the only time the three of us sit together and share a meal. It’s okay, we’re all adults.

We didn’t go out this weekend. Too many dogs and Angel was still a bit under the weather. Saturday evening we sent the boy to KFC and lived out of that bucket for a couple of days.

Adam picked the sides, coleslaw, of course, mashed potatoes and gravy, naturally, and something new for us, mac and cheese. And the biscuits, America’s very best carry-out biscuits.

I don’t like the Colonel’s mashed potatoes, too pasty. I like a bit of texture to my smashed taters, lumps and maybe even a little skin. So I tried the mac and cheese and decided it was my new favorite hot and starchy side dish from KFC.

The only problem I have with our occasional KFC home buffets is that after three or so meals, I get a mad craving for pretty much anything else. Fortunately we also had leftover meatloaf. So on Sunday night I declared that I would be roasting potatoes, because I wanted to try roasting potatoes. I do this sometimes, try a new recipe or food, just to see if I can, and to see if it’s as good as the descriptions and pictures on the web.

It turns out that all we had were russets, which are fine general purpose potatoes, and they did roast up as advertised. The family seemed to like them and they went well with my leftover meatloaf. But I knew they would have been better if they were little red potatoes.

I’d thought about this earlier while I was at the supermarket, (Walmart) but I simply could not justify buying more potatoes when we already had nearly five pounds of russets in the pantry. I can be cheap that way.

Next time I’ll buy some red ones, I’m pretty sure that would have made all the difference.

BTW, to make roasted potatoes just wash them thoroughly, skin on, chop them evenly into sections around  ¾ inch, toss them in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and about a tsp of garlic and or onion powder and put them skin up in a rimmed (pizza) pan. Make sure the oven is preheated to around 425-450 degrees then set your timer for fifteen minutes. When the damn thing beeps incessantly right in the middle of nearing a three-star round of Angry Birds, reset the timer, take a spatula and scrape the taters lose, flipping them so that another side is up, then put them back in the oven, checking and flipping them again after about ten minutes. Do this until they are brown and crispy on all sides.

If you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes, try this. Scoop up ¾ inch balls and put them on the pan as well. This makes cute, crispy mashed tater bites.

In other news I received an email from a lady named Ashley. She’s the previous owner of Cool Beans Java Café in Hillsboro, the place I swooned over last week.

In that review I wrote this:

“On the soffit  overhead was a quote, hand painted in script. “Dreams are necessary to life” ARL (unless I wrote that down wrong) I’m not sure about the ARL, but it’s an Anais Nin quote.”

Well, Ashley is the person that put that quote up there and she was kind enough to share the story behind it:

“The quote "Dreams are necessary to life." is one that is dear to my heart. I always want people to know why. A great friend of mine lived by that quote and he died a few years ago in a helicopter accident. The ARL stands for Adam Ronald Long. He is a huge reason I had to courage to open the coffee shop.”

Wow. Thanks Ashley, and good luck, great dreams and happiness to you!

On a personal note, I don’t hold dreams in such high regard. Most of my dreams involve giant chickens and crippled frogs. It’s a long, pathetic story; suffice it to say that these dreams tend to haunt rather than inspire me.

So tonight (Monday, President’s Day) I am planning breakfast for dinner.* Pancakes, a new (to me) recipe that my younger brother recently served up for my parents. He made some and said dad, who hasn't been eating much lately, wolfed them down as fast as the griddle could be unloaded.

Jeff's pancakes, with strawberries, scrambled eggs,
hash browns and a reasonable portion of bacon.
Jeff's Pancakes

2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup melted butter

Mix the dry stuff, add the wet stuff. Don’t over-mix, leave a few lumps, then let it set for a few minutes. This is important, just let it set for a while to let all the chemical magic get going.

Makes a bunch

I won’t be cutting corners like I did with the potatoes, for the first time in my life I bought some buttermilk.

* The breakfast for dinner went very well. The pancakes were light, fluffy and tasted great!

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