Friday, March 30, 2018

Costco Roses

The bare root rose I bought at Costco last year continues to produce. Here's its first bloom of the season:

I've largely given up my efforts in the garden on account of my work schedule, but last weekend I took some time outdoors to appreciate the remnants and make a few additions. Currently, herbs and snap peas are going strong. The lemon sapling bloomed. I've added some more ornamental plants and flowers, and this lavender plant in the hopes of bringing some bees to the yard.

I'm always dreaming of what this yard could look like "some day." It sure hasn't changed much since I moved in.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Entree Recipes (Part 1)

Life has been a bit glum what with a chronically achy hip from getting hit by that SUV, my new car still in the body shop after having been rear ended, and three of the senior associates in my group having quit. There is a lot of turmoil that can't be described here, but life experience has taught me the dust will soon settle and we'll all move on. In the interim, I'm trying to focus on the simple things I can control.

For example, my 2018 goal to try 12 new entree recipes is on track. I set this goal because without it the only new recipes I try are desserts. Here are the first four recipes for 2018:

1. Strata with Sausage, Gruyere and Thyme

I had leftover hot Italian sausage and sourdough from my family's visit over the holidays, so this seemed like a perfect choice. The recipe was straightforward. Preparation was quick. Results were hearty. I'll make this again.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook. This cookbook is incredibly reliable and has been a great help in reducing food waste for my small household. It's available at Costco from time to time, but currently even cheaper at Barnes and Noble.

As an aside, I discovered another fantastic use for leftover sourdough: homemade croutons. I added a little butter and pepper before toasting under the broiler. Why did it take me so long to try this!?!

2. Whole Roast Chicken

This was my boyfriend's idea. He found the recipe in one of his cookbooks (something related to manly cast iron skillet cooking) and I took him up on it right away because I want to encourage him to get more involved in the kitchen. I'd never roasted a whole chicken at home before and we were impressed by how great it tasted. At our grocery store, a whole chicken was cheaper than two chicken breasts, so it was economical too.  The vegetables in the pan are carrots and yukon gold potatoes. Red potatoes would have been better, but we had leftover yukon golds we needed to use.

3. Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This recipe provided me with my first opportunity to use my small crockpot. I rubbed some pork ribs down with spices, placed the meat in the crockpot with some broth and two pieces of bacon (you remove this bacon before shredding) and about five hours later shredded the meat and combined it with a semi-homemade sauce. I loved this and the pulled pork made truly great leftovers. I'll make this again.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.

4. Southwestern-Style Chicken and Biscuits

I went ahead and made the full recipe so that we'd have some leftovers. The base included shredded chicken thighs, red pepper, corn, onion, celery and thyme, but didn't have enough kick. The biscuits included cheddar, cayenne and pepper. I liked this dish, but it wasn't good enough to justify the two hours I spent making all of the components from scratch.

The recipe can be found in Cook's Country's Cook it in Cast Iron. Cook's Country is affiliated with America's Test Kitchen, which is why I snagged this cookbook when I found it at Costco a few months ago.

Friday, March 2, 2018

On Getting Rear-ended on I-35

Somehow, my life has become a series of posts about frightening accidents.

Last night, I was at a complete stop in construction traffic on I-35 listening to Originals by Adam Grant. There was a big white truck behind me, also at a complete stop. With no warning (i.e., no squealing break sounds), the big white truck hit me hard. It turns out a little red car has slammed into him at full highway speed.

Here is a picture of that little red car:

Despite the scary condition of her car, the driver of the little red car walked away. The big white truck was also totaled--bent axle, four flat tires and crumpled front and rear (and that's just the damage that we could see). My car, which is unfortunately a brand new car, also has a lot of damage. The rear and back corner panels, wheel wells, tail lights, and sensors all need to be replaced. Other electronics on the interior of the car aren't working properly.

I seem to be okay, but I'm concerned because I had a concussion just three weeks ago, when a SUV hit me from behind while I was crossing the street next to my office. Doesn't seem great to follow up a concussion with a car accident.

I am angry and frustrated with the driver who caused the accident. When I jumped out of my car, assuming she would be badly hurt, I found her with her cell phone in hand. She was probably texting.

Hope my luck turns around soon.