grocery luxuries for birthday week

499 words is all, I promise. I went to Jungle Jim’s today, and got four big full bags of groceries. And the thing is, I got a lot of things specifically for me to enjoy. For the past three months and more, I’ve been eating noodles and eggs, and two or three good dinners a week, and just not a lot else, and I gained ten pounds. It really is like that, when you don’t have any money. And exercise vigilance is nearly impossible as caloric energy wanes.

I saw at least six people riding on electric shopping carts. All of them were very, very large, of a size that would have been incredibly uncommon to see when I was a child. I knew a few fairly heavy people, but they still fit into chairs and could push a shopping cart in a store and did all the other usual things people do. You thought, “that’s a large person,” not “that’s kind of unbelievable.”

But life seems like something else these days. One of them in particular was of an astounding size. She didn’t fit into the cart and rode it side saddle. Her belly reached her feet. I am not exaggerating. And she made the cart go way too fast, if you ask me. It didn’t seem safe for anyone coming around a corner. Maybe she was the impatient type. Her husband (in his own cart) might have been the “I will go slower to make you more calm when in fact it will agitate you instead” type. I’ve known men like that.

So anyway, I indulged myself for birthday week. This was also produce delivery day, so the larder is quite full now, and the only guilt would come if any of it goes to waste. Here’s some of what I put in the bags. I bagged the groceries myself. The cashier was not going to be up to doing it correctly, and I can do it much faster, anyway, plus use fewer bags. I brought in five, and used only four, weight evenly distributed.

First, mark-down meat! This should last a good while, going to freeze most of it tomorrow. I got the regular-priced ground round to go with the ground pork for meatballs. And I couldn’t pass up the jowl bacon; guanciale, during birthday week. It is de rigeur for Amatriciana, but I don't know what I'll use it for this time. Meat
Next, things I will enjoy for lunch. I couldn’t remember the name of that eggplant stuff I like from the Indian section, but they didn’t seem to have it, anyway. Frozenstuff
A few miscellaneous items also for lunch and this and that. Misc
And a few bonus items that were good prices. Cans
Oh, and I got cherries yesterday! Don’t you love when it’s cherries season? Cherries are great because you simply do not buy fresh ones in October or March, except frozen. You buy them in June. June really is the best month.


Regarding Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

You can get proper breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa. You might think they're okay elsewhere, but they are not. An exception might be if someone from one of those places brought their cook and pigs to some other place, but not really.

We never got a breaded pork tenderloin during our recent road trip to Kansas City, because we ran out of eating room. So soon we're going to drive to Indiana for one.

There are two real kinds of pork tenderloin sandwich, and one of them is sort of a fancier version, of which I do not wholly approve. It is acceptable, but I'm not driving two hours for that kind.

It's properly served in a plastic basket lined with paper, and accompanied by french fries, onion rings or potato chips, and/or sometimes a little disposable cup of cole slaw, and also sometimes a pickle spear. But it's okay if it's on a plate these days, instead. People don't seem to go in for plastic basket lunches like they used to.

The pork tenderloin circumference should be several times the size of the bun, and it should be hand-breaded or at least coated in bread crumbs.800px-Pork_tenderloin_sandwich
This also looks okay.Paul & Jack's
Sometimes people make them thicker so that they are not as big around, and use a batter, instead. I don't think that's right, but it can still be a good sandwich that way. Thumb_600
If it's Sunday, you can eat it with gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans, instead of on a bun. I guess. You're really just eating pork schnitzel at that point, aren't you? D3ab6489455e21f322b2beeda5e7ff84
But if you go to a place where they have breaded pork tenderloin which is formed into a neat round patty, don't order that.


I get the senior citizen discount at Goodwill, though.

There I was, mustering energy to make sloppy joe—thing, with my Kirkland organic ground beef, fresh bell pepper and onion, and basic seasonings, and I got to thinking about the Homefront. Which is a thing I do pretty often. This would be food you could throw together and eat later or whatever, but you'd probably have to grind the meat first, and add soy flour, or use ham, or who knows? You got what they had to sell you, unless you grew it yourself. I had no energy for the cole slaw I was going to make, so the boys are having carrots tossed their way, along with blackberries and unsweetened applesauce. Cole slaw will be good with something else tomorrow. Choices. Anyway.

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As it lurched toward time to drain the fat and liquid before adding the tomato sauce and seasonings, I remember having read women would save that liquid to use for soup broth. Of course, if there was fat to skim, that was saved for the butcher, who paid for fat by the pound so the government could use it for explosives. But they’d save the liquid, and they’d deglaze their pans to take advantage of cooked goodness, and make room in their tiny freezers so it could be used later. I am not sure what they saved it in. Maybe those weird old ice trays I never understood.

Did you know that rationing here in the U.S. actually got more strict for awhile when the war was over? That’s because even more food had to be sent overseas to feed starving citizens whose previously depended-upon fields and livestock were destroyed or reduced severely over the past six years.

I think about all they did to plan and make do and substitute, just as things had begun to turn around after the Depression, and the government’s ongoing push to get people to eat carefully from all the food groups, and then I think about the extra money they had after the war suddenly being spent on Wonder Bread and Swanson TV Dinners and the new McDonald's Hamburger Restaurants. And they forgot, or wished not to remember, how hard things were. My neighbors remember the war, but they refuse to recycle because they don't want to rinse out cans and bottles. They'd rather spend their (our) energy blowing individual leaves from their yard nine months of the year. It’s hard not to be sort of depressed by that.

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The liquid I drained isn’t really very fatty, and it smells good, beef cooked with onions and peppers, so I added it to a three cup plastic freezer container to use for something later on. It suddenly seemed silly not to.

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30 in 31: day eleven: stuff I enjoyed eating this year

Here are seven things I enjoyed eating this year, and three from before this year, because I was in the mood for ten.

20140807_134356_16136932841_oI had these tacos last year. I was in the middle of Southern Ohio somewhere.

20151029_182348_21963946073_oHere's some fettucine I enjoyed. I don't remember everything I put in it, but I know it was good because I put it in one of my square bowls.

8781854253_fce68319ca_oThis is some kind of bruschetta I had at a restaurant in Montgomery in 2013, at least, I was on Montgomery Road, and I don't know whether that part is called Kenwood, just east of the odd shopping center with the big Half Price Books store.

Crispy-skin-walleye_17267817522_oI had this tasty walleye at a restaurant near OTR last spring. It was on a corner, and I will remember the name pretty soon and add it here. They had fun odd cocktails.

Dsc_2806_18314043834_oThis is steak tartare and ceviche at my favorite (probably) restaurant, a block from Music Hall on the other side of Washington Park. They were both very good, and we had good cocktails that night, I might edit and add that photo.

Dsc_3688_21097458421_oThis is a delicious sandwich I made recently. Basically, I guess I like meat to be either cured or raw or for it to be seafood.

Dsc_3891_21007315064_oHere's some good stuff I made; pita chips, white bean dip, and bruschetta.

Dsc_4017_21709493240_oI don't remember everything on this pizza. I see red onions, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomato bruschetta (from a little jar,) and probably goat cheese.

Noodle-lunch_16088860981_oFrom 2014: udon noodles with hard-cooked egg, homegrown snow peas, chili-garlic sauce.

Spaghetti-with-sauteed-vegetables-and-eggs_17031137747_oSpaghetti and eggs! My favorite lunch except for the photo above and probably a couple other photos above. This time it had leftover roasted vegetables, as well.


Thanksgiving days begin

Part one of shopping done; indigenous foods, check. I didn't prepare fresh pumpkin this year as I sometimes do, but it's one product that is completely fine bought in cans. Good for babies, too, as I've mentioned before.

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Of course, we always have these foods because they're truly American, as is maple syrup, which I add in small measure to the sweet potatoes. So are pecans, and this year I'll probably make a second pumpkin pie with a pecan topping, rather than pecan pie on its own. I'd rather make pecan tarts at Christmas. Anyway, what I mean is, these are the most important usual Thanksgiving foods to me, but I don't prepare most of them in the ways many other people think of as traditional, because I really never liked them that way, and I'm in charge of things, since 1990. Mostly. (If you are also in charge and don't like a lot of mushy or sticky or etc., you are free! Let it go! Cook the things as you like them best.)

Sometimes we have cherry pie instead of blueberry, but when we do, I like to still include blueberries in another way. This year it'll be pie, though.

Besides the indigenous foods, there'll be sweet potatoes, of course, mashed with holiday maple syrup sweetness, and a little butter and zest from the orange that goes into the turkey, and we'll go on Wednesday to pick out our green vegetables. Most commonly I steam fresh green beans in a pan with very simple seasonings. But we might do different things this year.

Also to buy on Wednesday, sherry for the turkey gravy, Zinfandel for the table, and bourbon for the pecan topping. The bourbon is indigenous, too, of course!

You might have noticed my turkey is not frozen. It costs a whopping $1.99 that way, but that is still definitely bargain meat. If I bought a frozen one for less, chances are I'd have to buy a larger one than I like to cook. So, 18-20 dollars for giant unwieldy turkey we'll never finish, or $27 for the size I prefer to prepare and fit into a pan in my oven. No contest; there are still weekend leftovers, a good carcass and neck for broth, and giblets for the dog and cat.

When I know there'll be more than six to give dinner to, I'll add duck or another meat dish, rather than buy a much larger turkey.

Finally, exciting dressing news this year. I get to make most of it mostly fruity, to suit my taste and my visiting daughter's dietary needs, and I'll just leave a section of it quite plain and bready for the son who kind of demands it that way. But with indigenous sage, of course!

I thought this was funny. My turkey has a special wrapper, and printing to inform me that it is.20151123_105032


I got some sunshine

I love lemons and lemony things, except not sour lemon candy because that is an oxymoronic disappointment. I particularly adore and treasure Meyer lemons.
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And if you think perhaps I ought not to have bought New Zealand ones because of how that’s super far away, well, I want you to stop eating bananas, coconuts, mangos, and everything else that we get from the tropics where we do not live, and then we’ll talk. 20151025_165118_22284701048_o

If you are also in Southwestern Ohio and so committed to local food that you eat nothing all winter but kale and yams, that’s really terrific. I guess. I’m still going to enjoy these lemons. 20151025_165159_22285586469_o

In winter, Meyer lemons come from California and Florida, rather briefly. And I’d have expected an NZ harvest to maybe appear earlier than now, but what do I know about that? Nothing. Only that I have five whole Meyer lemons on my table to gaze upon lovingly and then use in things. 20151025_165134_21851196563_o

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About your social media medical degree...

I can't tolerate prescription pain reliever or strong anesthesia, but have never had the least trouble digesting any food. So when people say, "That item of food is bad for you, etc., you must never eat it," it really irks me.



When someone carries on about having been prescribed "the good drugs," which are absolutely bad for me, I do not tell that person not to take them because bad for me = bad for everyone. Wouldn't that be a very silly thing for me to do?


 Mkay

There are some people in this world with a serious illness caused by certain enzymes in foods. I take their needs and concerns very, very seriously. But I do not have time for anybody who says gluten turns to glue in your stomach, or tells me what I should eat because of an article they read in HuffPo three years ago.

As for my own concerns, I do not believe that red meat is bad for people in general, though I share the idea that we should eat it from as healthful a source as possible. For me, it will be best to mostly eliminate it from my diet, partly as a compensation for enjoying a little cream in my coffee, and partly because the best way for me to add in more of something I need is to subtract something else I don't need. And if I'm limited to 12-13 grams of saturated fat per day, I'd rather have it from dairy than meat. DSC_3520

I've never been a big meat eater. When I was a child, I could hardly bear ground meat, and I found the rest of it annoying to chew. As an adult, I prefer my beef tartare or tataki-style. It would be much more difficult to give up Genoa salami (which rarely has veal in it these days,) though I can easily live without ever eating another hamburger or cooked steak. I've been counseled by a paid professional to have no more than two servings of salami (or ham, etc.) per week, but I know what she really meant was, "if you must." So I'll think of it as a treat only. DSC_3688

A medication I am currently taking requires me to consider the sugar question much more carefully, and thus, alcohol, as well. I can retain my two cocktail a week habit only if I make sure to eat well and monitor my sugar usage. IMG_0002

I do not drink sweetened soda or tea, but will sweeten a morning mug of coffee unless I am having espresso and cream made by an expert. That's something to consider. And I have an exaggerated relationship with cookies (something like being perpetually 19 with a cute boyfriend with a motorcycle)

Bike

but I keep lightly sweetened biscotti around to enjoy occasionally when I make dessert for the boys, or am enjoying a long slow Sunday morning (see above.) I love steel-cut oats in the evening, but will learn to enjoy that with fruit instead of honey.

The point is, we have our own personal balances to maintain, and they are not subject to hashtag keyword seasonal facts in possession of a lofty notion collector. They are subject only to our own understanding of our own bodies, and information from our own medical tests and consultations.

tl;dr: Don’t assume an air of authority and/or make concrete pronouncements to an INTP, or to anyone else if that person is nearby, or how about just don't at all? myob.


PS: I'm not into the label thing most times, but never have I read such a complete and accurate description of my basic personality as at the site linked in the previous sentence. I don't know if people possessing the other types think they nailed it so completely for them, all sorts of variables in play, but if that sort of thing interests you, maybe take the test and see if it's so. And if you read through the INTP one or at least a lot of it, you will know me to a fairly scary degree.

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Marzipan Cookie Dough: three pro-tips and a caveat

My mom made these so perfectly, but I’ve had them dull or too hard or too crumbly. They require a light hand, mainly. This v. old Betty Crocker recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp almond extract. That’s all. Mix, shape, chill half an hour, bake at 300º for about half an hour.

First I double and slightly change the recipe; increasing flavoring and decreasing flour. I use four bowls and into each one I put a stick of softened butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp almond extract. It’s easier to do this than to divide the dough after adding the flour.
CameraZOOM-20141207144827214Then I color it before adding the flour. That’s tip #2. Tip #3 which my mom didn’t do because it would have been very pricey back then, is to use gel colors. CameraZOOM-20141207145247198
Then I add 1 1/8 cups of flour to each bowl, and stir just until it will all stick together. It does not look as weird as this photo. I don't have an explanation for this. CameraZOOM-20141207150424886
The caveat: I usually use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour for most cookies. But today I bought an organic variety, and it is darker. So two of the bowls got a darker flour which changed the color considerably. I’ll have to rethink how I shape the cookies, and then I’ll probably roll them in colored sugar, which I dyed myself because it’s easy and cheap and you can do whichever colors you like.

So why am I showing you dough and no cookies? I'll be honest here. I got the cramps. The dough will keep til morning.


Christmas, cookie misnomers, feeling internal

I've decorated a bit extra for Christmas this year. I even bought a second little tree for my front room where I read and listen to music. 20141206_105601

As the kids no longer ask for piles of toys each year, money for gifts is not a big concern. I'm trying to get the boys to just collude on something they'd like to enjoy together, as two of them tend to want very little, and the other one wants everything, yet is not at all greedy or grasping.

I'm lonely; the girls aren't around, and I can't spend any time outside these days. Even getting out to do things that need doing costs me so much energy, it defines the entire day. Today I'm going to Costco, so I need to know in my head every single moment of dinner preparation ahead of time, so that I'm on top of it later on. But inside I'm doing better; I can run up and down the stairs again, and make more of each day. 20141205_140303

So I'm making odd little crafts, doing some weekend baking, working to take pleasure in my surroundings. DSC_0439

It's tough on the boys, because they still all have only learner's driving permits. (It's a long story, and not interesting.) They need more practice than they're getting. Anyway. About cookies...

This morning I was looking at an old BHG cookbook called Cooking For Two, and a recipe mentioned rusks. I looked that up to learn they are twice-baked toasts. Thicker than Melba, more like what we'd call biscotti, only plainer. Apparently, people in the UK used to put them in baby bottles, which freaked me out a little, but most people did survive what parents used to do. A baby will learn to expect what it is given, so we try to do better with that these days.

Of course, what we call biscotti are not really what they call them in Italy (I'm not looking up the name, I think it starts with c) and not what my grandma called them, either. When my grandma, mom, and aunts made biscotti, they used 5 cups of flour and 6 eggs plus a few other things to create soft, round, barely sweet and very plain cookies that were then dipped in powdered sugar icing and sometimes had sprinkles added. They made pans and pans of them. And Grandma would shape some of that same dough into braids at Easter, and bake colored eggs right into them. (You just cook the eggs before dying so they are barely hard-cooked. Mom worried over this, but I have the internet to verify things.)

When we visited their house, we usually brought Stella D'oro Anisette Toasts for Grandpa, and these you'd recognize as biscotti, though actually, they have more of a spongey texture to them when dipped in coffee. The name has changed, I suppose because they aren't like what we are used to now. Or something.

Toast

I'm sure you know by now that the singular of biscotti is biscotto, which is actually just a cookie, after all. If you say you want a biscotti, it's kinda weird.

But today or tomorrow, I am going to make marzipan cookies. How can marzipan be a cookie, you ask? Well, it can't. They are called that because they are little almond-flavored cookies which are colored and shaped to look like marzipan. My mother labored lovingly over them every year. I do not. When I do make them now and then, I tend to cut them like shortbread. But this year, little fruits will be the order of the day.

I also like to make biscotti, by the way, our way in addition to the old way now and then. There's no point now in quibbling over the name; I just call the grandma kind "Easter cookies," but in fact, if you look them up online, you'll also see them referred to as anginetti.

CookiesClick on the photo to see a recipe. Below is the ingredient list I use:

For cookies:

6 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups confectioners' sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder 

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla (or anise or almond)

For glaze:

1/2 cup warm milk

1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
 (or lemon or vanilla)
1 (1-lb) box confectioners' sugar (about 4 cups, unsifted)

Colored sprinkles

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Dreaming of olives, and some stuff

I'm in a cooking mood. I am making the olives today, first off. It's called olives scaciati, but when my mom made it, we called it the olives. Note: there are no carrots or vinegar in it. That would be weird, and not the olives. Also, it has to sit for two weeks before eating. I didn't buy enough olives to sneak-taste, either.

Because I got the big fat Sicilian olives at Jungle Jim's Eastgate, naturally I bought the small dark Greek ones. That is what Mom did when we went to Scimeca's, and no matter how many delicious olives JJ's and Abigail Street offer that touch me in special places, those are the ones I always go back to.

I'm also going to try this Baked Spanish-Style Chicken and Vegetables recipe Jungle Jim's posted the other day. Will report back on that. No, seriously, I really will. It's summer, and I am on this thing.

What I want to share now, though, is my birthday present to me, which arrived a couple days ago. It was meant to be twelve of these 1965 cookbooks with the index, but the eBay seller told me he couldn't find the bread one, which is sad, because I would have probably actually used that one. He gave me free shipping as a trade-off. It turns out, anyway, that there were eighteen volumes produced, so now I will hunt down the other seven. And share bits on my cooking page.

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Simultaneously running through my head: "The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis, and the Speed Racer theme.