Sunday, November 3, 2013

Outsmarting Your Off Days

I'm kind of laid-up at the moment, which calls for the family to eat straight out of the Costco freezer section.  Tonight, it was some kind of chicken-patty-and-cheese thing that moms can nuke for the kids' after-school snack. Billed for "smaller appetites," I requested that the cook fix me three, because my appetite is more than a distracted child's.

You need contingencies for these times when the cook is not up to it, or when the kitchen is a disaster.  Which reminds me of the time when Mr. Bye-Bye Nesquik was in one of his project moods.  I knew the day was going to be the kind when we turned on the faucet and it coughed up grime, not to mention finding my counters crowded with hammers, copper wire, paintbrushes and whatever else the mister needed for his project.   

I figured I'd get in there before he did, put a nice potato soup in the crockpot and leave it to simmer while he tore and built and cussed and went to the hardware store for more copper wire, paint or whatever.   Yes, at the end of the day, after all the chaos, we'd all have a steamy, salty reward waiting for us. We would avert hunger, and ill-tempered desperation. 

When dinner time came around, I lifted the lid off the crockpot and braced myself for the head of steam wafting off that wonderful soup.

And the soup inside was . . . . cool, the potatoes . . . . hard.

Because Mister's project included turning off the power to that particular outlet. 

Could've used a freezer full of Costco chicken-patty things that night, oh yes.

Or I could've used this SKIER'S STEW, because it would've cooked in the oven, on the side of the kitchen the mister didn't touch.

2 lbs. stew beef, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
8 medium potatoes, quartered
8 large carrots, cut in fourths
2 bay leaves
1 pkg. (1 1/2 oz.) dried onion soup
1 can (10 3/4 oz. cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) cream of celery soup
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

In large Dutch oven or heavy pan with tight-fitting lid make a layer of beef, then teh vegetables. Top with bay leaves, soups and tomato sauce.  Bake at 325' for 3 hours, 15 275' for 6 hours, or at 250' for 8 hours.  Or cook on high for 4 1/2 hrs.  YIELD: 12 servings, 395 cals. each.

From Managing Your Meals  by Winnifred C. Jardine.  Also available at: 

Meanwhile, I finished Lisa See's Shanghai Girls, in which she spends the second half of the book zooming out with a wider lens, attempting to document everything that the Chinese suffered as they came to America.  She bites off a lot, but narrows it all down to the personal drama again at the end.  Overall, I'm recommending it as a good read.

Next book:  562 pages, set in the backwoods of Wisconsin.  Since I'm not cooking for anybody this week, what else do I have to do? 

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