Have you ever had one of those Mondays that fell somewhere else in the week?

Well, I’ve had about two weeks of ’em. I have been busier than the proverbial long-tailed cat in the proverbial room full of rocking chairs. Every time I have knocked one thing off my to-do list, three more have taken its place. I’ve slept in my own bed a minority of the past week’s worth of nights. I barely recognize my kitchen.

And tonight, my kitchen has struck back at me. With a vengeance. Viciously. And if I were keeping score, I would have to admit with no argument that it, by George, won. Hands down.

A workday at a client’s office, which generally runs maybe six hours (to accommodate the hour and 15 minute commute on either end) had run a full eight, and a busy eight, at that. On the drive home, I resorted to the voice note thingy on my phone to make myself a list of things I needed to do that had sprung from the day, along with the other things that have been carried forward from to-do lists from the previous week and a half. I got home, consulted with Child A, and made an executive decision there would be no cooking, and the beef I had thawed would hold for one more day.

I came in, did 14 quick things I needed to do, knocked two items off the to-do list, said to hell with it, and about 6:30, poured a glass of wine. And about 7:12, poured another one. About 7:40, as Child A and I were discussing our respective days, there was a crash.

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Thinking spring

February 2, 2017

Wishful thinking. Oh, that I could have a garden like this!

Wishful thinking. Oh, that I could have a garden like this!

I guess it’s the positively balmy weather we’ve been experiencing of late that’s got me thinking about gardening. It was nearly 70 yesterday, and sunny; sunny and 50s today, supposed to be a high of 45 tomorrow. Perhaps the best time to think about gardening is when it’s cold and rainy, but when the weather gets pretty, I start thinking about getting my hands in the dirt.

You may recall that, last year, I broke my leg about the time the tomatoes started bearing, and consequently didn’t get a really good crop. I did wind up with enough Romas and cherry tomatoes to make small batches of sauce a couple of times.  This year, I have bigger and better plans.

Those plans include, in a couple of weeks, getting someone out to till in last year’s tomato vines and break up a larger patch for a main garden, till in compost on all those spots as well as the front flower bed, soon to become the herb bed, and put straw over all of them. Then in a couple of months, they can come back, till it all up again, and I can start planting.

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Baked cauliflower, with good cheesy topping. And olives.

Baked cauliflower, with good cheesy topping. And olives.

OK. So I’ve been slacking at the stove. Sue me. I’m back in the kitchen, and I have a HIT, I tell you, a HIT, for y’all.

This New York Times’ Cooking site, with my judicious edits, brings a brand new, and really damn good, side dish to your table. I give you — cheesy baked cauliflower!

I had this head of cauliflower that was going to go south if it resided much longer in my fridge. And the NYT had obligingly published this recipe. And even though it called for broccoli and I had cauliflower, I figured we could fake it.

And we did.

Besides subbing the cauliflower (which I parboiled for the directed two minutes), I subbed garlic confit for the fresh minced garlic; homemade ricotta for the fresh mozzarella, because I had it; Aleppo pepper for the red pepper flakes, because I like the flavor; and grated Parmigiano instead of pecorino, because I had it, too. OK, so maybe it’s only an approximation of the NYT original recipe, but, hey, close enough for gub’mint work. Because, y’all, this stuff is GOOD.

Proof? Child A liked it. And she doesn’t like capers. I’m not real sure she likes anchovies, either.

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Assembly,not cooking, but good, nevertheless.

Assembly,not cooking, but good, nevertheless.

Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s been almost two weeks. I’ve cooked, a little here and there, but for the most part, my meals have looked like the above — something pulled out of the fridge and piled on a plate.

Not that there’s anything wrong with cheese and charcuterie, y’understand. It’s just that, well, it doesn’t really lend itself to a cooking blog.

I’ve snacked my way through a lot of meals in the last couple of weeks, and been out for several. And I’m about to spend a good bit of the upcoming few days on the road, so there won’t be much cooking there, either. I might cook dinner tonight, and once more the rest of the week, but that’s likely to be it.

What HAVE I cooked? Well, I made toll house cookies the other day. First time I’ve made toll house cookies in several forevers. They’re good. I’m still munching on them.

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Odds and ends

January 22, 2017

Beeswrap. This may be a cool thing; I have not made up my mind.

Beeswrap. This may be a cool thing; I have not made up my mind.

There’s been some cooking going on, but it hasn’t been anything particularly unusual. But looking at my photos for the past week, there have been a few things here and there that haven’t made it into posts, so we’ll just corral them here.

First, the above. This stuff interests me. It is beeswax-impregnated cotton cloth, designed to serve as a substitute for plastic wrap in your kitchen when it comes to covering containers, etc. It’s from a place called Mighty Nest, to which one can procure a $10 a month subscription that nets you a kitchen or home-related goodie aimed at making your life and home more sustainable and cutting your landfill footprint.

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Aaaaaaaahhhhhh. Tamales!

January 20, 2017

History, tradition, soul food and damn good stuff, all in one dish.

History, tradition, soul food and damn good stuff, all in one dish.

Business took me to the old river town of Helena, Arkansas, today, where I spent a worthwhile day, not least because on the way home, we spied a Pasquale’s Tamales food truck.

And that was the name of dinner tonight.

Mississippi River Delta tamales are a long tradition, one whose beginnings are lost. They were part of the fabric of everyday life in the 1930s, when Robert Johnson put voice to the hard work and poverty of the sharecroppers, in what came to be called the blues. It’s thought they may have dated back to the Mexican War, when Southerners traveled south to fight at Vera Cruz and Chapultapec, or they may have originated as a way for slaves to take a midday meal to the field, to stop briefly and eat in between chopping or picking cotton.

Tamales were poor folks’ food. Cornmeal, lard and the scrappy cuts of pork were cheap.  For years, they were “soul food,” found mostly at African-American diners and church dinners.  For a time, there was a friend of a fellow employee who came by with tamales for sale once a week or so, fishing them out of a big water-bath canner in the trunk of her car. And they were a mainstay of black church fundraising dinners; I became known for frequenting the ones which turned out, in my estimation, the best tamales.

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Close, but no cigar

January 19, 2017

Kind of monochromatic dinner, it was.

Kind of monochromatic dinner, it was.

This should’ve been good.

And it wasn’t BAD. It just was a little…disappointing.

I have been craving Mexican food for a couple of weeks, which is not real common for me, because I’m not a huge Mexican fan. I mean, I like it, but (a) it doesn’t always like ME, and (b) it’s not something I want all that often. In any event, the craving caught up with me t’other night, and as picking up Mexican carryout would’ve involved major logistics issues, up to and including getting dressed, I chose to cook my own.

(NOTE: It is a hazard of working at home that unless there is something that specifically requires you to dress, you may wear your pajamas for three days at a time. It always secretly amuses me to be discussing multi-million-dollar business deals while wearing plaid flannel PJs and fuzzy socks. With a dog curled up beside me. But I digress.)

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