Menu Mishaps

I believe that without failure one cannot achieve success. Lose that ball game, wreck your souffle, get a broken heart. Rise above it.

My first was the EZ-Bake Oven. Pretzels was the first packet they wanted me to make at age six and put through the 120 watt light bulb cooker. It was so sticky I threw it out and spent five minutes getting the goo off my hands. Now I make pizza dough every week with Italian 00 flour and it is gorgeous, easy to work with as was my last mix with 2/3 AP flour and 1/3 whole wheat.

Inspiration. I made a chicken chili for my family years ago and had bought a pepper plant at the farmers’ market that day so decided to use 1/3 of what the recipe suggested. It was a Thai chile plant. The chili was inedible. I added everything but the kitchen sink to it and it was not ready to eat.

Now, due to my familiarity with Texas, its chili and Lady Bird Johnson from a recipe in 1962 for 5,000 at the Ranch in Pedernalaes, TX including JFK, I’ve my riff on her chili with pure spices and scorched chiles and not just powders. My Swedish neighbor taught me how to make meatballs, so I taught him how to make Texas chili.

Way back my cousin visited and I wanted to cook a chicken. I placed it in a small apartment stove and it browned on the outside, then the pilot light went off. After cooking time was done I sliced into it and it was raw inside.

He said I was trying to kill him! We re-lit the pilot light and I broke down and sauteed the chicken sauteed the pieces and he enjoyed his meal. Years later, he makes fun of me for the debacle. I can cook a chicken, even spent an inordinate amount of time finding a capon which we had for Christmas dinner. You’ll see my capon blogs as I had a bit of a problem with Whole Foods Market but farmers came to the rescue, as they always do. roastgoose.com will get you a capon. You can even buy it cooked but I prefer to do it myself, and not in a faulty apartment oven!

As cooks, we make mistakes. That makes us better at home or even in a restaurant. I didn’t put enough salt in this. It was undercooked so I had to place it back in the oven. I just saw a retrospective on Dan Barber and he is a revolutionary chef. With French training, his brigade just says “YES” and not Yes, Chef. He makes me want to go back to the earth to teach us that just because when rock-hard avocados arrive from another country, they’re not what we should be eating today.

Unfortunately, where we live now has a very small window for farmers’ markets and I cannot grow a garden from our current home.

Lately I’ve been roasting the heirloom carrots in all colors and they are delicious. Tonight I’ll make a pasta with pesto and a chicken breast, sliced to fill two plates.

The secret is learning, reading, wanting to do your best as a cook especially for family and friends. There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities. Dee

Politicians/Legislators

It’s not enough to ban unions. Now is the time to disenfranchise at-will employees. We live in a union, middle class manufacturing state where most of the jobs have gone away.

Our governor wants to be president in 2016 and he’s sealing his bid with a kiss. It is a kiss goodbye to all people who are paying taxes for pothole-filled roads, roads that are never plowed, pedestrian walkways which State law says that one must stop. No-one ever stops. They honk their horn to tell you to get out of their way.

In my mind it is the kiss of death. While cozying up to the Tea Party base, this governor is now trying to mess with the lives of everyone else in his state, via legislation that demands employees never to to work with anyone they’ve ever met before for six months to two years.

For example: I work at the corner gas station and got a job for twenty cents more at the mini-mart that has a gas station but my non-compete clause says I can’t pay rent or buy food for my kid for at least six months.

This is what our governor wants to do to become President of the United States, disenfranchise all the voters of his state and others that find out what he’s doing. He’s embracing poverty, and running the middle class elsewhere because of the two-year ban he’s placing on getting work.

I don’t know about you but I don’t have two years in the bank to live on while awaiting a paycheck. Our quarterly savings amounted to three cents interest. At least our banks are making money off of ours.

Years ago my husband was offered a job at a huge bank. The contract stated that no matter how long he worked for them, they owned every idea in his head from the day he was born until the day he died. We had a problem with that. In the end they got rid of him after the contract was signed one day, he resigned from his employ, and the next day they said not to report to work on the following day. We didn’t sue them, but the story is legend and everyone thinks we should have sued them as that bailout money would have helped us out.

I always come back to loyalty, trust and steadfast work in an honest profession. Wisconsin is to become a total welfare state with only out-of-work factory workers and all the people who get sick of huge taxes will move out because gangs are on the streets that have huge sink holes, the street lights no longer work, there is no gas or electricity. Yes, this governor is going to be a president. Of the Mastodon Society, perhaps. Hopefully not the USA. Dee

Why Cooking With Dee?

This morning I got an early call from the concierge saying that a taxi was waiting to take me to the airport. I have no flight, no taxi scheduled but I was asked to come down to address the issue.

I’ve an ancient Celtic name that is difficult to spell and pronounce. Before my voice and words kicked in, the first day of school was always agony when the teacher said Duh, Duh, Duh…. and I raised my hand and asked her to call me Dee. My full first and middle and sometimes last name were only used in our home to summon me downstairs because either my sister or I was in trouble.

It turns out the car was for someone else with the same first name. And the concierge’s mother has the same name minus a letter. Never have I seen the confluence of so many Dee’s in one block.

In college I got an apartment with a few (turns out to be many) gals and I cooked for 12-14 per night. The first night the group of six legal residents assembled for my frugal but tasty creation and I asked to be seated on an end where I wouldn’t elbow a fellow roommate because I was leftie. They were all leftie!

I’ve worked with lefties, creative people, all my life. Never have I had such confusion over my first name because it is quite rare. A few weeks ago a new concierge called me about a package. It was certainly my name on it, first, not last. I left it with him to find the rightful owner.

Growing into the name took about 23 years, with a job and life of my own. I do hope that parents don’t start naming their kids after ancient Celtic personas because that first day of kindergarten is tough! Slainte, Dee

Thank You, Tiffani

No, I’m not a Food Network shill, I just happen to like Dinner at Tiffani’s because she seems real and actually has a family and friends! And she’s not on a clock cooking for judges and sabotaging competitors.

Actually any mom/cook working for their family or creating a dinner party is on the clock and has judges. Once when we kids were young we rated Mom’s dishes. BIG mistake. She was devastated by Dad’s comments, probably ours as well.

All I want to do is make the best dish I can and not get stuck in a rut of meatloaf night, pizza night (of course I make my pizza from scratch with Italian OO flour).

The sun came up before six this morning and I had to get up, put down the shades and take out the dog. Instead of looking at the debacle in Baltimore I turned to Dinner at Tiffani’s. She made peas, and also a roast reminiscent of one of my mother’s.

We always had frozen peas, unadorned. Tiffani’s peas with parmesan looked delicious. As a kid we had a “pea count.” Everyone guessed the number of peas on the pea-hater’s plate and then the pea-hater counted every one while eating all of them. The winner didn’t have to do dishes. Everyone got dessert and the pea-hater ate the peas.

My sister had surgery once and was advised to reduce the swelling by placing a bag of frozen peas on her face. She cannot eat frozen peas to this day.

For the roast, I don’t always do tri-tip, I must admit I do look for what’s on sale at a very pricey market. I use a packet of beefy onion soup mix and a can of crushed tomatoes, cover and cook for several hours, until the beef falls apart with a fork. Oh, how my husband loves that roast again in a sandwich the next day! It’s such a cheat but if he loves my pot roast, and ten-minute lasagne (on the site) so much the better.

The carrots were interesting with honey, soy and sesame. I’ve multi-colored heirloom carrots in the frig and my husband likes them raw. I scrub them and roast them whole in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and thyme for about 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes, until tender. They’re delicious. Yellow, orange, red, purple, they’re excitement on a platter. Every taste is there.

I always like to thank people for inspiration to try new things. My problem is that my husband is deathly allergic to anything that swims, and that may even include amphibians. More culinarily challenging things were done in the past like a side of salmon with scallop mousse and “scales” of half-zucchini rounds. Of course with fried parsley garnish. That was in French cooking school days.

Now I’d like to try a leg of lamb, after many years, and I would bone and butterfly and marinate and grill it a la Jacques Pepin. I’d love to try that for my husband’s family but as cattle ranchers they eschew lamb. Sorry Chef Pepin, I now have my own marinade and cooking system. I think you tried to make it foolproof for mothers. We only have a dog and I don’t cook for her, only for us.

Also I’d like to envision a new/old cassoulet for my father. I’ve seven recipes to sift through, all from the masters, and know when I made it for him years ago he said it was the best food he’d ever eaten. Chef Pepin, do you have another recipe?

Much to do, so little time….. Thanks for yours today. Cheers! Dee

 

 

 

Sometimes

the mornings are gorgeous here. Enjoy! Above is my photo. There were computer glitches and that’s the morning over a lake with a barge. My husband changed my stuff and you ended up with Zoe on a sofa a few years ago. You can tell she’s a very aggressive, frightened and nervous dog by her demeanor. Cheers! Dee

i'll be right here

zo was here

Order of Protection

I have one, to protect those I love from people who may hurt them. It is not a legal writ, it is a promise. I made that promise to my husband when I married him 12 years ago, and to our dog, that I made 11 years ago when we adopted her from the shelter.

My husband knows what he’s doing in business and, today, it is booming. Sadly some of the countries he needs to work in do not accomodate us, especially our elderly dog. Even though she’s been vetted through the British process solidly for the past ten years, there is a mandatory 30 day quarantine without her normal food and without any parental (if you can call us that) access to let her know everything’s OK and we’re here for her. She is a herder. I will not put her through that process at Nanny’s age, in dog years, sorry, Nanny.

I will go through TSA, they hate me, but if my husband’s deployment is a year I plan to visit and not have our old dog go through torture to get there. I’ll find a friend to take her while I’m away. I will not put her through that for a job. We are a family. It would be nice to keep us that way.

Opportunities abound these days, just look around the corner or in the next airplane seat. A lifetime of effort may pay off one day. Wishes, Dee

They Call Him Flipper,

Flipper, faster than lightning….

That was the intro for the dolphin and family show I watched years ago. My husband just got me a flipper. No, not a marine mammal, just a fish turner.

I just got it a couple of weeks ago and it’s useful for so many things. The remarkable things are that I’ve never had one and have been looking for the right one for years. Second is that he found me a left-handed one. I’m a leftie and that’s how I use my knives but I can only use scissors with my right and was advised by the pro to only golf as a right-hander because the strength is on your left. Not that I golf.

Tennis is left. I could swing a bat either way but must throw a ball with my left and catch with the right. I believe parents and teachers still wonder what to do or berate those who are left-handed. My father would tell those people not to do so. He was made to change by his teachers. He has four children. Two of us are left-handed. Neither my parents nor the Church or school said anything about it, which means they intervened, thanks for that.

Yes, I now have a terrific “leftie” flipper, faster than lightning…. It works for me. I believe in growing and teaching children well and they will find their own way. I’m a leftie and words like deft (rightie) and sinistre (left) mean nothing. When I see a movie or a President signing a bill I notice left-handedness, whether traditional or hook like me.

I could never do calligraphy unless I learned Hebrew. Else I would smudge all the ink. If I were adept at it and I am not, there is no way I could make a living waiting for every letter to dry writing in English.

The flipper is something I’ve wanted for many years. Leave it to my dear rightie husband to find me the right one. I use it every day. Grilled cheese sandwich, done. Thank you, dear, for always thinking of me and your stomach. Cheers! Dee

Snowing Like Crazy

It’s April 21, windy as all get-out and it’s snowing. Someone told my husband that we need three springs to actually have spring weather! I believe him now. Luckily I haven’t cleaned and put away my down coat or gloves yet. Or taken off my snow tires. Just an update. Dee

Feral Kittens

I am an advocate of spay/neuter release in a volunteer program that uses humane traps for cats and brings them to a clinic where vets make sure they’re healthy and do not reproduce. Yes, they are brought back to their habitat, but they will not breed.

Six years of my life was spent on this endeavor. It was a concept I had to digest. In my early days one cat’s spine was broken and he had to be euthanized. I’ve a photo but will not share it. The code was HBC. I asked what that was, Hit By Car. You learn those things and how to adapt to any situation. Stop crying and start working.

As head transporter I brought so many cats back for medical OK’s for flea medication or tapeworms that they finally took my word for it. I worked the volunteers and transport. I had “breathers” and we had really great volunteers. I created the wake-up sheet that would demonstrate that a cat had awakened from anasthesia and was just taking a nap before pick-up, rehab and back to habitat. It has been revised. It’s no longer named Dee’s Kitty Wake-Up Sheet (I didn’t name it that ever).

They were not docile cats, quite wild. I saw three newborns in a crate sleeping and they were so cute. Then we had to get them out and the only thing I could think of was a cartoon of the Tasmanian Devil.

One day there was a tiny kitten with breathing problems. I did transport because that was an exercise with sleeping cats and volunteers. Breathing, no. But this time I did it. I sat in ICU with a kitten and a blanket and did accupressure for nearly two hours, asked for his crate well before he killed me and placed him in it. He lived.

There is so much about life and death and kindness, volunteers that continue to move me every day. Leaders that inspire me, fewer in number today, and  I believe the Good Old Boys are out of office and have created discourse that I would normally deem healthy but it is not.

I’ve always wanted our President to be elected on what he or she could and should do, not on negative ads.

The feral cats are loose. They must be humanely trapped, spayed/neutered and released to their habitat. Perhaps sometime people will actually think of their constituents. Keep this one. Dee

Integrity

It’s a tough thing to come by. Luckily I met a man who had a bunch of it. So did I and it burned me out trying to help people from themselves.

That’s work and I’m married to that man. I’ve been many things, including a consultant for many years. Trying to do the right thing for a client is very difficult. They hire you to do the right thing then fight every step of the way to keep any change from happening.

Even in a small organization, it is tough when the board wants you and the staff does not. I’ve had my car keyed, lies spread about me and books cooked to assure I couldn’t revitalize a key program and make many times profit for the organization, not a penny for me in an effort, funds realized prior to the efforts, plus more bang for the buck for public and community relations and jump-starting a new education program that has thrived ever since.

When the new director came on board he took great pleasure in letting me go his first day. The next morning he called and demanded a meeting. I went. He asked for my keys then said he wanted everything in my brain and in my files (of course he had copies of everything I and the past development director had done) over the past three years. He really wanted a confidential study whose public results he had but the private data was, at the Board’s request, not accessible to them or anyone because the study was about them and their role in the future of the institution.

I told the new director he had all my documents and spreadsheets and should have asked me for all the development information in my brain before he fired me. Of course the confidential study is still locked in my files and I said I would have to be present at a Board meeting where they voted to give it to him. The first thing I did was call the Chairman and met with him briefly that morning and told him what had happened. He laughed.

At the next Board meeting, the new director was fired. I was brought on as a committee member and my audience development ideas approved by committee could be brought to similar management because these votes came from the Committee and Board. I was made a Trustee for a few years. It started out as a quarter million institution and is now much more flush and professional than that partially because I and others got hands dirty and did what needed to be done. Yes, I created FlexTix. Kids for Kids was my standout work. Revolutionary back in the day.

I’ve been a consultant and board member for a number of years. In my younger years, 20 of them, I also did hands-on work in no-kill animal shelters and spaying and neutering feral cats so I know of love and loss and caring for others and doing your best for them when they might not care a whit about your efforts.

In business, one learns to cajole, educate, inspire, always learn from everyone, progress, coalesce and make goals reality.  Then go out by a lake with the teams and make some burgers and have a beer. Perhaps there’s a guitar and we sing.

No-one knows anyone any more. Nanny told me years ago to make sure my husband took a long-term job at a company and got a gold watch at retirement. I told her back then I’d try (that was before she okay’d me as the wife and her as the only Nanny I’d ever known) but the world is not like that anymore.

There is no loyalty. Or trust. One could be let go tomorrow and have nothing. Sadly for people with our talents it is a buyers market, but lest you think businesses need no technology or process or other improvements it is at your peril. When it becomes our market you’ll pay top dollar or go out of business. It’s that simple. You’ll file Chapter 11 and we’ll be on the upside.

Our tax money bailed out banks and insurance and car companies and so many others that are still secret. That’s why you’re in trouble now, because you never fixed anything, just sent traders out with bonuses to buy new Ferrari’s. And how does that play on Main Street where the fire department does the fireworks and everyone goes out to sit by the lake? It’s no Wall Street outside of NYC.

My husband always looks for meaningful work where he can make a difference in the world. That has always been his, our dream. He can fix anything, from a bank trading system to a grain bin micro-switch. Physics and agile development. He taught himself the latter and has credentials, whatever that means.

As for Nanny, my husband/your grandson could buy himself a gold watch. He does not wear jewelry except his wedding ring as he has an iPhone. Yes, it tells time. I love you for everything you are to our family and all you want for your children, grands, greats. Integrity. We love you for instilling that in everyone. Cheers! Dee