Showing Up on Monday

Dealing with the relative (now recovering nicely, thanks) and an assortment of other non-usual events made the last couple of weeks hiccupy in terms of writing and general sanity. Things are finally leveling out here in the soybean field, making the first full week of summer in the soybean field a more peaceful one.

A severe weather outbreak livened up last Wednesday. The two tornados that did damage were pretty small. No fatalities, thankfully. The rest either stayed airborne or went through open fields. Oakley and I sat watching the sound and light show in the sky and its coverage on TV. We didn’t even lose power.

The next couple of days brought chaos in the larger world. Unexpectedly, Britain voted to leave the EU. WNIU very rarely mentions news stories, so when one gets mentioned, listeners know it’s going to be a big one. Oakley knows that when Mom spits her coffee back into her cup it’s a big one. That triggered off days of losses in the stock market. Initially, I wanted to pull our investments, stuff everything into coffee cans, and bury them  in the back yard. It has to level out, and hopefully will in the next few days.

Today is mercifully quiet. Well, except for Oakley having a mild flare-up of colitis caused by the heat, most likely. He asked to go out at 2:30 this morning, then had a peaceful rest of the night. As we walked at the park this morning, he acted cramp-y (frantic pacing, hunching), and, well..I’ll spare the details. I called the vet, changed his herb for a few days. He’s napping peacefully on the floor in front of the fan.  We will have a better night tonight.

With a high of 90, this is a bit warm for my taste. I personally max out at 80 and begin to wilt at 85. Cooler foods are in order, such as salad and sandwiches and gazpacho. It’s due to be cooler tomorrow. I’ll cook the chicken legs then. Maybe oven-fried? Sounds good.

So begins the summer. Next on the agenda: we are eleven days from the Ren Faire opening. Oakley will be staying at Ms. Lanette’s for the night. We all need a bit of frolic, and we have those events to provide it for us.


When in Doubt, Make a Casserole. When Confident, Make Two.


(image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

Well, that was a hell of a week.

Let me try again.

One ill family member; one visit with out of town relatives who’d cancelled vacation plans to come to see her; one hearing for a special use permit for Oakley’s day care; and two drives up to see the family of said family member left me totally wrung out. Except for the visit (breakfast at a very comforting restaurant) the other events involved drives of upwards of an hour, plus trying to convince Oakley that the relatives’ dog was not a fruit bat-shark mix.

Good boy that he is, Oakley just walked away, then sat quietly by the door until we left. I made him a bison burger for dinner.

The ill family member is in progress. I’m not going into details to protect her privacy, but I will tell you that she fares better today. And that her condition scared a few years of growth off all of us. It’s going to take time, but things look a lot better this week than they did last Monday.

I couldn’t directly influence her recovery process, but I could support the ones in the immediate circle with food. Comforting. The type with plenty of carbs and that can be heated up in the microwave. In other words, a casserole.

Nothing fancy. I made stovetop lasagne. Been too hot to turn on the over here. I boiled the pasta (1 lb. fusilli), stirred in a jar of sauce, a carton of ricotta, and some pre- shredded provolone and mozzarella. They liked it.

I made a huge batch of turkey chili, too. They received it with favor. And a rotisserie chicken that I grabbed at the store. They will be well fed for a few days. My hope is that things will level out so they can do a little cooking. It’s therapeutic. I felt better as I saw the chili and pasta fall into place.

They felt better as they ate the chili, too.

Had it been cooler, I would have made a chicken-noodle casserole as well. It’s like tuna-noodle, but with chicken and cream of celery. Two people in that part of the family have fish and mushroom allergies, and they had enough problems without a reaction to the tuna. And the mushrooms.

But it worked out, and continues to do so. We just have to be patient. And eat some casserole.


Thursday Thoughts

Oakley’s left hip has been acting up the last few days. I give him a homeopathic remedy for pain and inflammation, and a glucosamine supplement in a liver base as well as fish oil. Pyrs and blends thereof are prone to hip dysplasia, a condition where the joint doesn’t develop properly, increasing the odds of arthritis as time goes on. There’s also the possibility of a flair-up of an old injury.  At three and a half, he’s kind of young for visits from the Ritis family. Dr. P. wants to take x-rays somewhere along the line to see what’s going on in there. I won’t argue, not much. Not thrilled about the sedation, but I don’t see Oaks rolling over on his back with his legs positioned properly of his own volition. 

It will officially be spring in about 20 minutes. Someone please remind the weather. We woke up to snow showers this morning. Small flashes of green are fighting through the brown in the yard. I hope they gather the needed support to retake the ground. 

Doing a detox. Twelve days of herbs to clean out the channels. No huge diet modifications. Be interesting to se what happens when it gets done. 

Chicken for lunch today. In a salad. Likely the same for dinner. I am in one of my rare resistances to cooking. I’ll have the leftovers on a bowl of greens and other delicacies with a light vinaigrette. 

Welcome, spring.



The Last Post of Technical Winter

Keep in mind that I do NOT recommend doing this, but I can understand the temptation. 

Some years ago, a post-holiday newscast included a story from the “say WHAT?” file. A man had been taken into custody for attempted arson. The charge, not that unusual. The motivation: relatives who’d been hanging around and refusing to leave, even though he’d asked nicely, then not so nicely. No dice. The frustrated host doused the floor and walls of his home with rubbing alcohol, then started throwing lighted matches. One of the occupants of the house called the cops before any serious damage happened to the house or any of the people in it. 

I didn’t make that up. Really. 

That gentleman has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks, wondering if there was a way to make winter leave sooner. Today brought rain and the possibility of some snowflakes mixed into it is a possibility later on this afternoon. Tomorrow is the first day of spring and set to have some decent temps, but it’s supposed to be back into the cold air over the weekend. 

Today is also bringing a crockpot chicken for dinner. The chicken, onions, and carrots have been simmering in there since this morning while I worked on another assignment. I have to make a run to the store and pick up Oakley from daycare. He’ll get sweet potato with his chicken; I’ll have mashed cauliflower with mine.  It’s just what it sounds like: cook the florets until mashable and mash away with a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Olive oil or butter are good additions. I throw in a couple of cloves of peeled garlic, too. Pretty yummy.

Tomorrow as I enjoy some leftovers in a salad at 11:57 CDT, it will be officially spring. I will be wishing this interminable winter farewell, and that the door doesn’t hit it in the butt on the way out.




The Therapeutic Value of Cooking

I’ve been cooking more than usual this week. Mercury is still in retro; the heavy snow from Monday’s storm followed by yesterday’s rain and wind-driven melting challenged one of the sump pumps to the breaking point; my mainstay paid writing job has been put on hold indefinitely; and of course, Oakley ate a few too many biskies, leading to 2 AM runs in the yard.

So I’ve cooked. Turkey chili, a rotisserie chicken, a cake made with almond and coconut flours, socca with fresh cilantro to go with the chili. The cake was based on a very simple French recipe; the other dishes are regular batters in the culinary lineup. It’s kept me pleasantly busy during the interminable wait for the weather to level out. 

Signs that spring can’t be too far off are coming up here and there. Strawberries glisten like rubies at the store and early greens are coming in to play. Mercury will get its act together on the 28th and go forward. And we shall as well.

The Chicken Challenge

ImageUne poulet.Uno pollo.A chicken. Some wise person described it as a blank canvas for cooks. The number of recipes ranging from weeknight suppers to the most formal of dinners supports that theory.

In a fair and perfect world, everyone could afford organic chickens. We are in process with that, and that day will come. I buy them when I can. I have an organic poultry farm in my area, and her eggs and chicken are fantastic. 

Most of the time, I purchase chickens produced by Amish farmers. A bit more expensive than the supermarket brands, but less than the 100% organic free range ones, and yes, you do get better quality.

I do whole chickens either on our electric indoor rotisserie or en coquotte. For the rotisserie, I blend salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and rosemary, then rub the mix under the skin. Do not ask me to tell you how to truss the bird. My trussing attempts look like a bondage session that went terribly wrong, but it’s enough to keep the wings and legs from flying around. Once the rotisserie is going, it takes about two to two and a half hours for the bird to be done.

En coquotte can be done with a slow cooker or in the oven at 400 for about two to two and a half hours. If you use a slow cooker, make a rack in the bottom with the carrots and leeks–cut both into batons. Season the chicken with salt and pepper as well as the desired herbs, and put it on top of the carrot-leek rack. Add some quartered redskins, then put it on high if you’ll be eating it in less than eight hours, or low for more than that. If you’re doing it in the oven, use a covered pot and the same veggies.

Leftovers can be used in a myriad of ways. The meat is also dog-safe, so you can use it as a treat or a base for Fido’s meals.