Monday, October 22, 2007

Comfort Me

Don't act like you didn't suspect that this might happen. By "this," I mean a week without posting. Given the nature of this blog and how it came into being, it's a wonder anything ever gets posted at all. Huge thanks to Sheryl for taking up my slack, there.

Status of my house: Well, we're not LOSING ground. And honestly, that is something. I had good meals going for over a week at a time, there, and that hasn't happened in ages. Also not having happened in ages, a whole week with no dining out or bringing takeout home. That, my friends, is HUGE. I also have to give Alex credit for keeping up with the dishes while I was cooking. Sometimes there would be some left, but he kept the pile from becoming unmanageable, and I appreciated that immensely.

We also actually managed to get about 1/3 of our bedroom clean, working together, which is no small feat. I may not have mentioned it before, but I surely will again, so...our house is weird. It's laid out weird, it's priorities are weird,'s just weird. It's over 3,000 square feet, but with tiny bathrooms and closets, and the smallest kitchen you could imagine. Seriously--it's an apartment kitchen, and here we sit in the middle of 5 acres, not in midtown. TEENY. But the master bedroom? It's enormous. There is no reason for a bedroom to be this large. None. It's the size of most people's living rooms. And since we came here from a wee little house, in the way of bedroom furniture, we have...well, a bed. Which itself was a maternal gift. And after several months of us using a Coleman cooler as a night-table (think I'm kidding?) and an empty ceiling-fan box with a couple of barstools as an entertainment center (again, think I'm not serious?), our mothers got together and bought us some more furniture, in the form of a couple of night tables and an actual television cabinet. This leaves about a half an acre of empty space in this bedroom, which for US, is just More Places To Pile Crap. I may take a picture of this...or I may not. I might have reached my internet humiliation threshold.

Honestly--I can already see that a huge challenge for us in keeping a livable home is going to be resisting the temptation to fill every horizontal surface with whatever random detritus happens to be in our hands at the time. From where I sit right now, I can see the Leaning Tower of Weirdness that is our dining table, and it's not pretty. Especially considering that it wasn't that long ago that it was clean. This piling on, it happens FAST. I am bad about piling, and Alex is bad about putting things off until "later." Combined, we are a deadly duo of disarray. I'd like to save Bella from this fate while she's still young enough to mold. She told me a few days ago that she wanted to do something or other at her grandmother's house instead of at home, because "our house is too trashy." Trashy. Yep, that's the word she used. And you know, when you get right down to it and start sorting and cleaning, a lot of it DOES wind up in the trash. Just think how much time and labor we'd save if we took a minute to decide that something (junk mail, newspapers, whatever) was trash, and threw it away BEFORE ever putting it down! Hey, at least I'm thinking, right? Anyway, 1/3 of the bedroom clean is like a whole normal room, and a very good start. I appreciate Alex helping, too, because when he gets going, that man can clean. And fast.

I got sick last week, and meal-planning and preparation went straight out the window. This meant that we spent a lot of money we don't have on takeout, which is really, really stupid. It's unhealthy and expensive compared to home cooking. I always feel like a failure when the takeout bags come in. But I just didn't have it in me, and Alex definitely doesn't feel like cooking a meal when he gets home from work (with our normal work schedules, I get off a couple of hours before him, so it'll be much easier for me to get dinner going by the time he gets home). We're old, tired, and out of shape. And yes, there's an additional area in which we must GET IT TOGETHER, the being out of shape.

So, now it's back to planning and cooking. Honestly, it's the planning that fells me, if I'm going to fall off the wagon. I hate the planning, and coming up with something to cook, and trying to magically divine what the people I'm cooking for will enjoy or even accept. I'm particularly unimaginative when it comes to vegetables. I tend to get some frozen veggies, steam them, and be done. Which while healthy is somewhat boring. No complaints so far, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time. I gotta say, though, I am LOVING the new frozen veggies that come in a microwavable steam-pack. GENIUS.

So, there we are, all caught up. At least right here. I'm going to post my favorite comfort food next, and would love it if you'd share yours. Don't we all need some comforting right about now? Me, I have pneumonia and it hasn't stopped raining in forever and my baby girl is growing up faster than the speed of light. COMFORT ME.

Please post your favorite comfort food, and the recipe (or a link to the recipe, if you have it posted elsewhere) here in the comments to this post. I'll figure out some way to compile them and make links for reference. My favorite comfort food is homemade chicken and dumplings, made with fat, fluffy "dropped" dumplings, and I'll be posting the recipe here tomorrow. Alex's favorite comfort food has got to be his mother's chicken tetrazinni. WOW, does he love that stuff, and what little of it I usually get to eat IS darned good. I'll get the recipe from her and post that, as well. Now it's your turn: COMFORT ME.


jenB said...

I have a beans n' ribs recipe that you serve w/ mashed potatoes, but i am too lazy to find it tonight. tomorrow my love. and please, be gentle with yourself. even starting this blog, is AMAZING for most people. honest.

Erin said...

Ian's Super Speedy Sloppy Joes:

Brown one finely diced onion until it just begins to caramelize

Add 1-1.5 lb ground beef with salt and pepper, and a little Montreal steak seasoning

Cook onion/meat mixture until done, but not crispy, and drain excess fat

Add a generous handful of brown sugar (~1/2 Cup)

Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce (~1 Tbsp)

Add a splash of apple cider vinegar (~1 Tbsp)

Cook for a few minutes, allowing some of the vinegar to cook off.

Add 1 can tomato sauce

Add 1 can of tomato paste

Simmer until desire consistency is reached.

Serve on whatever bun you have lying around, we like potato or whole wheat hamburger buns, but anything works, really.

These take about 15 minutes to prepare, and are so good. Best part about this meal is that you can keep all the ingredients on hand, in the freezer, and whip it up in no time.

Serve with baked onion rings from the frozen food section. They count as a baked vegetable, don’t they?


Erin said...

Oh, and also? Your house sounds very much like ours, and, I suspect, most everyone else's. You're just very hard on yourself. Hope you feel better soon!

Jenni said...

We have a pack n play full of laundry in our bedroom. Our son is 3. It's been there awhile now....

Just wanted you to know that your bedroom isn't alone!

paper napkin said...

The next time you make chicken tetrazzini, make a HUGE batch, and freeze like 2 extra pyrex dishes of it. Then when you can't cook, or don't want to it'll be there for you. Or shoot ask your mom in law to make you some to freeze. I bet she would.

I make pretty much the same 10 dishes for dinner, w/ little prep. Don't set your expectations too high. Dinner doesn't have to be a gourmet affair, it just has to be done.

Hang in there, I think you're doing g-r-e-a-t. Really!

chicken said...

Well...frankly, my love for you just grows and grows...there is no sugar coating on your blogs...anyway...there is no recipe for my favorite comfort food. Ok...well if there goes a little something like this...take one roll of chocolate chip cookie dough...add one spoon...and eat. Don't waste precious time cooking...just eat! Damn it!
I have some in the fridge...I might just ask it to hold me.

Your house? Looks like most of America's house. I am the girl with Christmas crafts up in September! Rudolph looks so damn cute hanging eye incredibly bigger than the other...but hey!

Anyway! Please tell JenB to hurry along with her recipe for the beans and ribs...that sounds delightful!

Meaghan C. said...

Hey sweetness:

Be gentle with yourself! So much to get done, no one ever manages it all. You'll get to what's important. You have great loves and priorities.

Tortilla soup is tasty and warming:

A yummy chicken stew:,,FOOD_9936_30796,00.html

Italian chicken soup:,,FOOD_9936_35810,00.html

Jamie Oliver's beef stew:

Jill - GlossyVeneer said...

Get a pork roast.
Place in crock pot.
Pour entire bottle of green salsa verde over roast.
Cook on low all day.
Pull roast out, shred.
Add back to crock pot and stir together with the salsa juices.

Serve in tortillas, over rice, with beans, however you feel.

It freezes really well too, so you can place it in smaller containers and pull one out when needed.

kerflop said...

Okay I posted at Belinda's already:

Made it last night when I couldn't stand the thought of anything else. Cheered up the entire grumpy family.

Belinda said...

You guys are awesome. Keep 'em coming! I can't wait to try these.

I have Jen's ribs/beans recipe now, and will post it when I get it typed. It looks yummy.

Michelle said...

THIS is the one dish I make that everyone in my family LOVES and eats without any complaint - except for when I put mushrooms in it, my son doesn't like those, but otherwise if he has the choice between this dish and leftover pizza, he'll eat this! It is absolutely the best thing to eat in nasty, cold, gray weather.

Shepherd’s Pie
5 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground round, ground beef, or ground turkey if you prefer
1 cup water
2 tsp red cooking wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 cubes low or sodium free beef bouillon
1 cube low or sodium free chicken bouillon
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp herb chicken seasoning
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp dried minced onion flakes
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh vegetables (I use fresh sliced or shredded carrots, sometimes throw in some sliced mushrooms.)
Handful shredded cheddar cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Drain and mash. Set aside. (When I mash potatoes for this recipe, I mix in milk, butter, and pepper. I personally don’t recommend adding salt - as I otherwise would - because the other seasonings make up for it.)
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Get the 1 cup of water and add the wine, Worcestershire Sauce, bouillon cubes, pepper, herb chicken seasoning, and parsley. Set aside.
4. In a large skillet, cook meat until brown all over, stirring occasionally. Drain meat and set aside. Leave just a wee bit of grease in the pan and add the onion and garlic (and mushrooms if you choose to use them), saute over medium heat just until onion begins to brown.
5. Return the meat to the pan and add the water and seasonings from Step 3. Add vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has evaporated. (Also, make sure your bouillon cubes have dissolved.)
6. Pour meat/vegetable mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish. Cover with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes. Bake in preheated oven until cheese melts/potatoes begin to brown.

About 6 servings.

I think for a bit more comfort, you could add brown gravy to the meat/veggie mixture. I'd like to try doing that but haven't gotten around to it yet, myself, I like this dish just the way it is. :)

I don't think it has any lung-clearing properties, but it sure smells and tastes good. Feel better soon!