The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2009-05-17

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Evil baby bunnies and fluffy muffins

Ginger's not a high energy dog. Never has been.

Truth be told, she always been a bit of a slug.


Except when it comes to patrolling the yard.

She takes that very seriously.


Even at 14 she still wants to know...


Who's been here?

And make sure the...


Evil baby bunnies haven't returned.

And is concerned about...


What the heck are the neighbors doing now?

(Ginger is nosy when she's awake)

But Ginger's favorite things are her muffins (dog beds). She has them all over the house. She likes the ones I get at the drugstore. Probably the cheapest dog beds ever; five dollars on sale. They don't last that long and the stuffing becomes matted quickly but she doesn't care.


Because the day she gets a fluffy new muffin is better than anything.

Ginger thinks life doesn't get any better than that...


I think she might be right.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Where the heck is my vegetable peeler?

I'm making chicken soup this morning.

I wanted to add some carrots and I wanted to peel them but the peeler wasn't where it normally is. (Beside the silverware.)

So I moved on to the utensil drawer.


What the heck is all this crap?

I looked through the drawer; no peeler. Where is that thing?

And more importantly...What the heck is all that crap?


Any guesses?


You put peeled warm hard boiled eggs in this, close the cover
and when they come out...
They are shaped like hearts.

Seemed like a good idea at the time but it wasn't.
It was a stupid idea.
After I got it I remembered my son stopped eating hard boiled eggs in 7th grade.

Ma, don't give me eggs anymore.


No one will sit next to me at lunch. They are calling me the kid with the stinky lunches.



I'm not sure exactly but it's shaped like a bird and has something
to do with squeezing lemons.



I haven't an idea in the world what this is.

Do you?


Nut picks?

I can't remember the last time I needed a nut pick..
much less a spare.

And this?




And these?


Those are things used to shape hot dogs. Mini hot dogs.
The size of Vienna Sausages.
Which I've never bought in my life.

But if I ever do I can shape one into an octopus, a tulip, a penguin and...something else.

The moral of this story?

I can squeeze a lemon with the back end of a bird but I still can't peel a carrot.


Ginger's stressed

Ginger was stressed yesterday.


Usually she's asleep all day.


She spent most of yesterday at attention


In the kitchen...looking up...

... sniffing the air.


That pot of slow simmering shredded beef over there
on the right?

Too much for her.

She kept looking at me, following me with her eyes and
with every move I made she expected me to put that giant pot of meat on the floor.

Ginger is the eternal optimist.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The cracked cup

Last fall I started to lose my eyesight. One month I was reading pill bottles (without glasses) and the next - really, the next - I couldn't do a cross word puzzle because the clues were too small.

I really can't describe what that was like. I don't have the words (and not having the words isn't something I'm accustomed to). I was so scared I did the only thing I could do... I started googling "loss of eyesight".

After a month of driving myself (literally) crazy, I called my eye doctor.

By the time I got in I couldn't read at all, couldn't do digital photography anymore, couldn't drive at night (after 4 p.m., actually), was using Windows Vista low vision enhancements, and couldn't paint.

Of all the things I am, the whole artist thing? It is very important to me and is ridiculously wrapped up in my self-esteem. The thought of losing that was unimaginable.

What I had was the sudden development of cataracts in both eyes. They were severe and not progressing the way normal cataracts progress, which is slowly over many years.... But quickly. And my eyesight was uncorrectable with glasses and "just awful" (A quote from my eye doctor). Something I already knew.

He told me to come back in three months and be reevaluated, but I only made it a month. One month after my first appointment I was (almost) unable to drive during the day. The cataracts were progressing rapidly and my eye sight was getting "worse by the month" (Eye Doctor, again).

I had surgery on both eyes in March and I wish I could say I was done; but I'm not. Apparently, the surgery only partly corrected the issue and I still need laser on both eyes (in June).

The thing about it though? I learned a new way to paint. Something I never would have done if I hadn't been pushed.


I always painted in a very literal way. Realistic was my goal.


I could no longer do that.


If I wanted to paint I had to find a new way.


Something looser.


More suggestive than literal.


Because I couldn't see well enough to use a brush anymore.

Galaxy series #2

All that was left was to throw paint on big areas.

galaxy series # 2 top left corner

And it ended up being remarkably freeing.

Even though I can see well enough to paint almost like I used to, I really like what I'm doing now.

The whole thing was an awful process. It was like being thirsty and forced to stand by and watch while all the water you have seeps out of a broken cup.

But the odd thing?

Losing my eye sight?

It showed me a new way to see.

And I feel oddly, grateful.


A Bun in the Oven

So what did I eat last night for dinner after cooking all that meat?

If you think meat?

You're mistaken.

I'm necked out.

Somewhere between buying it all, and prepping it all, and cooking it all... And than having dig for neck bones I started to feel less and less hungry and more and more like I was on the TV show, CSI.

The thing about neck bones is, when all is said and done, meat looks like meat but the bones?

No matter what you do you can't pass off a vertebrae for a rib...

Maybe in the past but now with every TV show either being a CSI show or having a CSI component, people are too darn savvy about parts.

Frankly my foray into meat is getting to me (seriously). So last night I looked around for something else to eat and came up with..



I'm going to call it A Bun in the Oven....

It was delicious. And filling. Rather elegant looking and there wasn't a bone in the entire thing to deal with.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut a thin slice off the top of a round roll (I used an unsliced kaiser roll)

Scoop out most of the bread, leaving enough bread around the edges to it retains its Kaisery form.

Put the roll 'cups' in a baking dish and...

Place a slice of precooked Canadian Bacon in the bottom of the roll.

Carefully open an egg onto the bacon (You could use 2 egg whites). Sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Put a drop of light cream or milk on the egg.

Than shredded cheese (I used what I had, smoked Gouda) on the cream.

A few scallions on the cheese. A sprinkle of pepper and more salt if you wish.

Bake until egg is done to your liking. If you jiggle the pan you can see how done the eggs are. The more the eggs move in the rolls, the less hard cooked. 20 to 30 minutes will probably yield something like a soft boiled egg. I let mine go longer to get something closer to hard-boiled.


Loved it.

It's something that can be easily altered for tastes. You could change the cheese, use cooked sausage instead of Canadian Bacon, or leave off the meat entirely and use a slice of tomato. Or even use some soft scrambled eggs (Let them finish cooking inside the rolls)

It's is more of a knife and fork meal than Egg McMuffin (The longer you cook the roll the crisper they get). Actually it's an Egg McMuffin all growed up.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Much ado about meat part 2 ... or I'm up to my neck in necks...

Along with the Much-Meat Loaf I have something in the crock pot.

I have this idea that I can crock once and eat twice..

Maybe thrice.

This morning I went the the A&P and perused the meat aisle... They didn't have much this morning and didn't have what I wanted, which was a chuck roast so...

I got a (about) 3 pound bottom round roast
A package of beef short ribs
And another package that I thought was short ribs but turned out to be beef neck bones.

Neck bones? Neck. Bones. I'm fretting over this one...

But they are pretty meaty and I'm planning on keeping the neck thing to myself.

To the crock pot I added 2 cans of Campbell's Double strength Beef stock

A large package of large white mushroom, quartered (this was probably double the normal size white mushroom in double the normal size package)

I browned the meat on all sides in some canola oil. You don't have to do this but browning intensifies the flavor and pasty looking crock pot meat is a problem for me.

I planned on adding carrots but there was no room left.

Live and learn.

And next time leave out the neck bones.

The plan is to crock it all on low for 10 hours and serve the short ribs and the faux-short ribs (Mums, the word on the neck thing), with the mushrooms over paperadelle. Paperadelle is like really, really, REALLY wide linguine. (Maybe an inch and a half wide? )

Hopefully this will be so good and flavorful when I ask how it is the answer will be, Yummy!

And not, Good but strangely necky...

For dinner # 2 I'm going to shred up the roast and serve it with the cooking liquid as a french dip sort of thing.

Pictures to follow...


Much-Meat Loaf

In an effort to really meat-up dinner today (after last night's "It doesn't taste like meat" Loaf), I'm making two meat overload dinners.

I plan on serving one and the other will be used for two other meaty dinners. (Details on those to follow.)

For the Much - Meat Loaf I didn't have what I wanted in the pantry so I went to the store and bought much meat.

To a 1 1/2 pound package of meatloaf mix (beef, veal and pork) I added:

I package of meatball mix..

This one, in fact..

I mixed the contents of the packet with:

1/2 cup of water
1 egg
3/4 can of tomato sauce

I put the much-meat mix in a loaf pan and topped with even more meat. Bacon. Even if the boy doesn't like the Much-Meat Loaf he will like the bacon. Even vegetarians like bacon.

It's a well known fact.

I bought center cut bacon hoping it would be less fatty but bacon's bacon and it still was fatty. I took some of the fat off of 4 slices and placed the semi - fatless bacon over the Much-Meat Loaf.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and than pour off the fat. There will be fat to pour off (unlike my turkey loaf). Return to the oven and bake another 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 185 (according to various sources because of the pork). Whether you have to pour off even more fat depends on your meat mix and bacon. I did.

So how was this?


Really good.

It's very meaty. Very juicy. Tender but still holds together... With a taste of bacon that goes all the way through it... And crispy bacon on top. I have no doubt that this will be a hit with the "But it doesn't taste like meat" crowd. And by the way...the house smells like heaven.

Well, bacon.

Same thing, though.

Hey, I smell bacon....


It's not for you, Ginger...


Than I don't want to look...


'This doesn't taste like meat' loaf

I use ground turkey quite a bit. Normally when I'm using it I add some beefy goodness with a spoonful of Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.

This stuff...

Yesterday I didn't because I was using a packet of onion soup mix. I thought that would give my turkey meatloaf the beefy oomph it needed to make the boy happy.

The recipe was totally pantry so it's a bit odd and I liked the result quite a lot. The boy? Not so much....

Picky kid: Do you want me to keep the meatloaf or throw it out?
Me: Why?
Picky kid: I don't like it.
Me: What's the problem (now)?
Picky kid: It doesn't taste like meat...

Okay, well. It does taste like meat. It is meat. But I've found picky eaters tend to like things one way. And have excruciatingly precise memories of how they remember what they liked.
And as The Borg say, resistance is futile.

Me: Put it back in the fridge.
Picky kid: Can we order a pizza?
Me: Do you want to go to college or not...
Picky kid: Ma. You don't have to be so dramatic.

To a package of ground turkey (The 93%/ 7% stuff... the really lean ground turkey cooks up like a loaf made of cotton balls and sand) I added:

A mixture that I made in a measuring cup of:

A cup of water
A packet of onion soup mix
An egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup corn meal ( didn't have enough bread crumbs for a full cup)
2 garlic cloves pressed through a garlic press

I sprayed a loaf pan with pam, put the mixture in and baked it for about an hour and a half at 375.

I thought it looked good


Turkey is nice in loaf form because it shrinks away from the sides, gets crispy, but doesn't end up sitting in a pool of fat.

Which is kind of gross if you think about it.

I served it with some cooked broccoli. As you can see, it's not as dark as beef would have been (or would have been if I added the beef base, darn it) . And perhaps that was the first problem. Things need to look exactly the same to picky eaters to taste the same.


This had a nice savory flavor. The main flavor being the onion soup mix. It worked well with the turkey and despite my son protestations that it didn't taste like meat, it does.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Feed your family for only $3000 a month!

The CBS Saturday Morning News annoys me. They do a Chef on a Shoestring segment with a (real) chef cooking a meal for 4 for under $35.

This is how they promote it.

"Shoestring" Budget Of $35
Meager Budget Of $35
Recession-Busting Budget Of Just $35
Mere $35 Budget
Veggie-Packed Meal On Only $35

And sometimes the budget is even higher than $35

Our $40 "Shoestring" Challenge
On Budget Of Only $40
Tries To Make Fancy Meal For 4 For $40
Special Holiday "Shoestring" Budget Of $80

When I first started watching the segment it was interesting; the way The Food Network is interesting. Fun. Fantasy. An escape.

But when CBS started calling feeding 4 people one meal costing $35, recession-busting?
And than calling the fact that someone (a trained chef) could do it, amazing? It annoyed me. It shows a total lack of understanding of how much economy-related pain people are in. Haven't they been listening to their own news?

If you extrapolate their -What did they call it? - Meager budget. That's over $1000 a month for dinner alone. That doesn't take in consideration breakfast, lunch or toilet paper.

I may be able to go without breakfast and lunch. But toilet paper, I need.

According to Feeding America

Food banks across America are reporting a 30 percent increase in requests for emergency food assistance, according to a new survey conducted by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization.

And that was in December, 2008. What is it now?

CBS clearly has no idea how hard it is to find $35 in your food budget. Period. Or how many of their viewers are stretching $35 over many meals. Stretching that food budget until it screams. My food budget (I call her Janice) was screaming last night.

Feed 4 people on $35 once? Show me a woman who feeds her family for a week on $35 and I will be impressed. But one meal? A chimp with a shopping cart and a debit card could do that.

Granted, if you send a chimp in you will probably end up with a meal of kumquats, Marshmallow Peeps, Trident gum, Meatball Hot Pockets, Kibbles & Bits and a Sponge-Bob-Square-Pants balloon on a stick... but in the end it feels the same to me as The Chef on a Shoestring Segment.

It would be a meal that doesn't fit in my life.

At all.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Estate sale SCORE! (or... Channeling my inner Jayne Mansfield)

I've had a lot of luck at Estate sales recently. Don't know what's up with that because it's a complete turn-around. Normally, I go and all I find is OPG (Other people's garbage) but lately... I don't know... there must be some sort of Karma thing happening.

I don't even think I can use (or keep) some of it, I just had to get some of it anyway. It made me all nostalgic.

See, my mom had one of those pink bathrooms...and a pink kitchen. I kid you not. Pink oven... phone... counter...floor.

The works.

And with that I give you...


Pink metal hamper!  whoo-hooo!

This is a pink metal hamper! It has pink feet and that retro marbly top. Sigh. And it's in amazing shape too... It doesn't go with my house at all but I'm still toying with keeping it. Who would pay shipping on a pink metal hamper?

How much would it cost to ship this anyway?

Aztec melmac dishes in PINK!

Aztec melmac plates and bowls. One bowl isn't marked but the rest are... These don't go with my kitchen at all and I just listed them on eBay. But they do scream "MOM" to me and I got them. Dumb, probably. What do they say about clutter? Anything you can't use, right?


Aqua atomic napkin holder!

Another thing that doesn't go with my kitchen. But look at those atomic design stars... Listed them too..

I went a little crazy. In a 'I'm totally pink and wish I was Jayne Mansfield' sort of way.

There are worse things... and the hamper makes me feel DA-VOON!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Who won the pyrex giveaway??

The Pyrex bowl winner...

pyrex givaway

As picked by a random number generator on Random.Org

And monitored by Ginger...

why are you taking my picture?

(Who kept her eye on the whole procedure because I was holding a Snausage.)



Contact me -

me (dot) parler (at) gmail (dot) com

I will be doing this again soon with a new estate sale find!


Party Food!

I had a few people over last night and decided to make pepperoni bread again. It was a big hit last week but I decided the recipe was more of a method and could be interpreted in all different ways. So I did...

The main thing, the base of the recipe is this...

Pillsbury Pizza Dough.

The original recipe was for a Pepperoni and Mozzarella cheese filling. But I think you could stick anything inside the unrolled Pillsbury Pizza Dough and have it work.


Not anything... Cornflakes, coffee grounds and chicken bouillon cubes would be downright gross... But anything reasonable would be delicious!

But first the method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam.

Than the fun begins!

Open a can of pizza dough and spread out so it's a flat rectangle (lay it out vertical to you). Brush the open side with something that will seal and crisp up the crust and compliment the filling (more on that later).

Fill the middle! You want to fill about the middle third (the long way) so you have a filled center and dough on either side.

Flip one side up over the filling, than the other. All the filling should be covered.

Put Pizza Bread on baking sheet with seam side down. This will involve flipping it over

Brush top with an egg wash (One yolk and a little bit of water) .... or something else and bake. Check Pizza Bread after 25 minutes. I've had cook them longer but I think my oven temperature is low.

When they are golden and delicious looking... this...


...they are done!

You will notice seams on my tops. I made three breads and forgot to flip two of them over so the seams were on the top. Not a huge issue but I did notice that the one I flipped puffed out more.

What did I fill them with? The first one is the original Pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. I brushed the open side with a little bit of olive oil (you can also sprinkle herbs at this point if your family doesn't have any "Hey, what are those green specks?" issues).

The original recipe called for a lot of pepperoni. Too much pepperoni. A quarter pound of pepperoni... Inches of pepperoni. This one had about half a bag of shredded cheese and than a layer of pepperoni. Maybe 6 or 7 slices of the large size slicing variety.


This second one? (Hands down, my favorite). I spread thin layer of Baconnaise (Bacon-flavored mayonnaise - oh baby!) on the crust. Filled the center with about half a bag of mild shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon. I used about 5 slices of bacon because when I went to make the bread almost all the bacon was gone .

Seems my son has taken a liking to bacon and had eaten almost the entire package of pre-cooked bacon from Costco. Yes, my large sized package of precooked bacon slices (Where do teenagers put it?) was almost gone. I was thankful for small favors and used what I had.

On the top of this one I brushed antoher thin layer of Baconnaise.


And this next one?


This was a big hit too (My son's fave). I wanted to make a meatball pizza bread. But wanted easy ...So I bought a bag of store brand frozen meatballs and cooked them in jarred spaghetti sauce for about an hour. I wanted them to be nice and juicy and tasty.

Sometimes frozen meatballs are a rubbery... sometimes worse. Some are just shy of golf balls.... and precooking them in a pot of sauce works most of the time.

I brushed the open side with olive oil and put a few cut up meatballs down the middle. Than I added about half a bag of shredded mozzarella cheeses and more meatballs. This one was delish! But also the hardest one to handle (Meatballs overboard!).

There is an optimal ratio of filling to pizza crust and I overdid this one.

Too little filling and you have ... Well, bread.... too much you have a sloppy mess.

Let them cool a few minutes, cut into slices and than serve!

Big hit! Big, big hit! And they were just as good when they cooled to room temperature.

Perfect, really.

Absolutely perfect.

I did serve other things too...

For example...



This is delicious! Open a brick of cream cheese and cover it with hot pepper jelly, serve with crackers or sliced French bread. That's really it! I also serve this with Brie - which is rockin' but since the people coming over don't especially like Brie I did the cream cheese version. I can't tell you how good the hot pepper jelly is with the creamy cheese.


And this...


This is a sandwich spread I made but decided to try it as a dip for tortilla chips. Mix together ranch dressing and salsa, to taste. Wonderful on burgers and as a spread for BLT's... and darned good with tortilla chips too!


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