Let there be peace

December 24, 2018

Child B, and Child ‘Cs arm, immortalized in Christmas memories.

And leftovers.

It was a fine Christmas dinner at Chez Brockwell. There was about five times more to eat than we needed or wanted, there was much joy, fun and chaos as gifts were opened. There were tons of laughs, and a tear or two.

In other words, it was just about a perfect Christmas, never mind it was a couple of days early.

I went to bed last night with the kitchen semi-clean, and with the avowed intention of doing no more than was needful to sustain life today. I have fulfilled that. I have put about six dishes into the mostly-full dishwasher, and run it (I have not emptied it, thankyouverymuch), and I have fixed potato skins for Child A, and I have eaten copious amounts of Christmas leftovers and am working on my second glass of good Scotch.

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Now, who’s been naughty and who’s been nice?

Whoo, Lawd. Treat baskets are done, three of them delivered, two more getting picked up tonight, and a few extra small food gifts on hand for for whoever may show up.

Now, I’ve got to contemplate the logistics of cooking Christmas dinner while finishing housecleaning, tomorrow.

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Ack! It’s here!

December 16, 2018

And all my Christmas stuff is not, yet, but I’m counting on UPS, USPS and FedEx to pull me through. A quick dash out for stocking stuffers, and I’ll be good to go (crossing all fingers and toes).

Of more concern, at this moment, is Christmas dinner, which is actually two days BEFORE Christmas, on Sunday.  And treatmaking that needs to be finished. I think I will declare all next week “kitchen week,” with the exception of Monday, when I have to go to Sikeston, Mo., a 2 1/2 hour drive, for a meeting.

I’m about to get a menu hammered out.  Roast beef, ham and turkey for sliders on homemade rolls. Cranberry salad. Potato salad. Mac and cheese. Marinated broccoli and cauliflower and carrots.  A fruit salad. Cheeses and assorted crackers and crostini. Deviled eggs. Pickle-y things. And just to make it festive, some caviar. I have a jar squirreled away in the pantry. Dessert is either a pecan pie cheesecake or banana pudding.

Treats are a different animal. I need to make two more applesauce cakes. I need to make more chocolate oatmeal cookies and some macaroons, and I’ll also make a couple of other kinds — maybe Italian horn cookies, probably pecan meltaways. Maybe some oatmeal cookies with candied fruit in them, as I have some of that I won’t use in the applesauce cakes.  A couple of loaves of banana bread, being that I have bananas going south.

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Let there be turkey!

Yes, it’s a repetitious headline. It’s a repetitious holiday. Comes around every year, fourth Thursday in November.

Given my fondness for excess, it is little wonder Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the cooking, the eating (not so much the putting up and cleaning up), the traditional dishes. Of which I always make too much.

We had all the classics: Turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, cranberry salad, deviled eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli salad, grape salad, homemade rolls. Had dessert, too — two kinds of pie which no one ate. Have a vat of everything left, except for what I sent home with Child C.

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Tonight’s dessert — apple cranberry walnut crisp.

Smells all Cajun up in here.

Child B and her fam are coming tonight for a small pre-Thanksgiving family get-together, and since I didn’t figure she wanted turkey and dressing two days in one week, I asked her if she wanted red  beans and rice.

“YES!” was her reply.

You know how you have that one dish that you can call a kid, tell them the name of the dish, a date and a time, and they’re there? That’s hers. For Child A, it’s zucchini fritters. Child C is pretty flexible. SIL 1 goes for mac and cheese, while for SIL 2, it’s either country fried steak or pot roast.

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Authentic? Who knows. But decent curry.

Yes, it’s one of those disparate posts. Deal with it.

The above may well not be, as the recipe contends it is, “Authentic” Thai Massaman curry, but it was good. And it’s entirely doable in the Instant Pot, which is always a recommendation.

The recipe is here. How it was, was, like this. I had some beef “fajita strips” in the freezer, and I was looking for a recipe that would accommodate ’em. Indian’s out. I didn’t want anything European, read conventional, nor did I want, well, fajitas. Thai leapt to the forefront. So I Googled “Thai beef.”

And came up with a plentitude of recipes, including this one, which drew my eye, first because it was Instant Pot-able, and second because the fajita strips, which had been in my way every time I’d looked for something in the freezer in the last two weeks, had suddenly become impossible to find.

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AGCs and hospitals will play hell with your cooking. There were no exceptional meals, though he thought the grilled cheese and fries were just fine.

We are cooking today. We had not cooked much at all this week, being that we were in Little Rock with AGC2, who had surgery on his ear to, we hope, correct the recurring infections. Came home Thursday, was so exhausted I did little but sit around Friday, had soup kitchen Saturday, and sprang forward today, which pretty much did me in for going to church. Plus, it’s a rainy, yucky day. Not a good excuse for skipping church, I know, but it’s the one I’m using.

In any event, I got up in a notion to cook. So far I have put on a batch of yogurt; made a quiche with tasso ham and grated gruyere; have a loaf of date nut bread in the oven, and just put a fig-blueberry crisp in the oven.

That’s a balanced meal, right?

I wanted to put smoked duck in my quiche, but I’m damned if I can find the duck I smoked and stuck in the freezer. I did clean out a few things from the freezer that were old enough to vote, not to mention have freezer burn on them. The quiche looks lovely; I’m waiting for it to cool down enough to be ready to eat.

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Look out, shrimps!

March 1, 2018

OK, I’m underwhelmed with the wallpaper, but I think I can cook in this kitchen.

The Keyboard clan is going to descend on the beach this summer. Yes, your intrepid bloggess herownself, along with children A, B and C, sons-in-law 1 and 3, and AGCs 1, 2 and 3 are all going to pack up and go to the Redneck Riviera in July!

No shrimp within 100 miles of Fort Morgan, Alabama is safe. Nor is any slab of grouper. I reserved the house yesterday, and I swear, I couldn’t go to sleep last night for thinking about what I needed to take in the way of spices and cooking equipment. By the time we’re ready to leave, I’ll have a box of kitchen supplies and equipment packed, an ice chest full of food, and and extensive grocery list to purchase once we get there. I may even make up and freeze some cinnamon rolls for breakfasts. I will have to have pancake mix, as the littles love “panna-cakes” for breakfast. We can have sandwiches and salads for lunches, and lots and lots of seafood for dinner.

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French toast, with sourdough bread from the Farmers’ Market.

It’s sure quiet in my house this morning.

For the first time in more than a week, I have no children here. Well, I do, but they’re of the grown variety, and thus are sleeping soundly. All the campers from Camp KayKay have gone home, or in any event to other grandparents’ homes. There are no toys in my living room floor.

It’s kinda lonesome.

But I have a lot to do today — two work projects which didn’t get done last week, because I was chasing tiny tornadoes hither and yon, plus figs that need to be washed, jam made from them, and canned, purple hulled peas (a half-bushel of them) that need to be shelled and stashed in the freezer. The half-bushel of peaches can wait until a little later in the week, which is also filled with lots of things I  need to do, which I hope will involve significant cooking.

Because there sure wasn’t any last week.

The above photo is one of the three times my stove was turned on last week. The other two were to boil eggs for AGC3, and to make a grilled cheese sandwich for AGC1. I did make potato skins one night after everyone had gone to bed and it occured to me I’d forgotten to eat. And while there was plenty of fast/junk food, there were also two good meals out, both Mexican in nature, at Colorado Grill in Hot Springs and at the old faithful Ark-Mex standard, Pancho’s, in West Memphis.

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Head start on Easter: Lemon icebox pies.

And why is ham traditional in the South for Easter dinner, anyway?

(Answer: Because it’s about the time of year that traditionally, hams which were from pigs slaughtered in the fall and cured over the winter were ready to eat. And now you know.)

I have commenced Easter dinner cookery. Easter is another one of those “all about tradition” holidays. There is not a lot of room for maneuvering in the Chez Keyboard kitchen when it comes to Easter dinner. One MUST have:

  • Ham. In my case, sliced, pre-cooked but warmed nicely with a glaze, Honey Baked ham, because that’s just damn good ham, and will serve me nicely for ham sandwiches for a good while.
  • Deviled eggs. Because, Easter. Eggs. Et cetera.
  • Green peas. Because they’re springy. I’ve bounced among several preps, and just tend toward the simple: steamed, buttered, tarragon.
  • Asparagus. Because it’s the first local fresh green vegetable you can get. Because it’s wonderful. Because Children A and C, who’ll be partaking of Easter dinner, and I can eat our weight in it. I will either roast it, or wrap it in proscuitto and then roast it. And there will be hollandaise.
  • Corn casserole. Frozen corn from last summer, Jiffy cornbread mix, eggs, sour cream, melted butter. Ain’t nothin’ no better.
  • Mac and cheese. Because the carb-loading children require it.
  • Rolls. Specifically, Ms. Mary Lloyd’s rolls. Because it’s a holiday. Because a leftover roll, split, toasted, and filled with ham, is one of the finest leftovers on the face of the planet.
  • Lemon icebox pie. There is some wiggle room on dessert, but I was in the notion for lemon icebox pie, so that’s what we’re having. Because I made them today.

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