Les Restes du Jour (The Remains of the Day)

There were no leftover blueberry pancakes for NOLA Boy’s pre-breakfast snack this morning, so I quickly made up some fresh French Toast – Pain Perdu.  I guess the name of the dish and “fresh” are rather at odds with one another.  But, nevertheless, it was delicious.

There are even a few pieces leftover for him for the next three days, but I’ll need to refill that cute little maple syrup bottle.

I usually just “fry” French toast in a hot, dry pan, but this morning, I added a film of some freshly-produced ghee that I had allowed to brown a bit before decanting.

All I can say is . . . that’s how I will ALWAYS do it from here on out!  The flavor of the ghee is so magnificently rich, that it was worth the extra half hour or so of keeping an eye on it while it was browning.

If you haven’t experienced ghee, buy a jar of it and enjoy.  And then easily make your own for about a fourth of the cost.  It is so totally worth the very slight effort to enjoy this wonderful treat.

And so easy to do – just put it on a back burner while you are fixing dinner, and you’re home free – so long as you look at it every five minutes or so.  When it is a light nutty brown color, you are finished.

Take it off the burner, or just turn the burner off, and when it has cooled a bit, pour it into your desired container and refrigerate.  It will last several months . . . in theory!

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Tapicoa

 

He was just getting started as Doc on “Gunsmoke” when Milburn Stone appeared in the 1954 move “The Siege at Red River”, as did the pre-Paladin (“Have Gun, Will Travel”) Richard Boone. They co-starred with the popular and versatile Big Guy of the times, Van Johnson.

Why am I thrilling you with this bit of trivia?

Tapioca.

Some months ago, I got in my head that my four flavors of pudding needed some variety, so I bought a package of tapioca. The directions seemed simple enough, i.e. soak the little beads for half an hour, and then make pudding as usual, only put eggs in it.

Truly, I don’t know why I waited so long. It was surely easy enough to do, and the result was somehow more satisfying than just regulation pudding.

Having dutifully followed the recipe (except for adding amoretto flavoring, reducing the amount of sugar, and [not] whipping the egg whites separately), I ended up with a lovely pudding. But it looked lonely with only those little soft pearls for variety.

It tasted great, but was still too sweet, and was “beige bland”.

So . . . to complement the amaretto flavor, I added a circle of pistachio nuts in the center, and surrounded them with sliced almonds. It still looked kind of “vanilla”, so I added the cranberry relish.

Now, to get back to why the reference to “The Siege at Red River” . . .

You may recall my blog post from ages ago about “der ohrwurm” (ear worm). Well, the little theme song from that movie is an old Civil War song, but I could remember only bits and pieces of the movie. The word “tapioca” I knew for sure played a big part in the song, but the only other bit of information that was still in my brain was “Gatling gun”, and that it took place during the Civil War.  Every time I came in contact with the word “tapioca”, der ohrwurm would come into play, so something had to be done.

As usual, I was totally blown away that with the entry of “tapioca” and “Gatling gun” into a Google search box, I was able to pinpoint the source to fill in the blanks in my brain by finding out all of the above information about that movie.

The wonderment that I feel about the capabilities of the internet must be akin to those thoughts by folks in times past who were, at last, able to have information and entertainment contained in books that they could hold in their very hands.

I never cease to be amazed that I can sit here in my kitchen in my fuzzy pajamas and “speak” to people in far-flung locations around the world.

If I am not alone in this wonderment, could I entreat those who have the time to tell me where you are reading this post from? I can see on my stats page which countries have been noted, but not which reader is from which country.

I would love to be able to see this, so if you have a moment . . . ;->

 

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Golden Rainbow

All the way home from a reconnoiter, this rainbow teased me by showing itself in one perfect place after another.  But from a moving vehicle  .  .  .  well, the opportunities are sparse to capture it in just the right spot.

So I finally just started snapping out the windshield with my cell phone.  This is what I got.

A few miles/minutes down the road, the entire rainbow came into view for just a few seconds, but I just wasn’t quick enough to capture it.

Totally cloudy days can sometimes provide something pleasing, even when you think that a nice opportunity is unlikely.

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Angel or Eagle?

Do you see an angel, an eagle, or maybe a dove?

Christmastime at Trader Joe’s is mind boggling.  Tomorrow I will show you the three Christmas treats we acquired from there yesterday.

But first . . .

Even though Tucson is pretty crowded around this time of year, we got through the medical appointment in pretty good order, so we had a couple of hours of energy left to peruse the offerings of Trader Joe’s.  What a wonderment of Christmas temptations and other goodies!

The above picture is the usual after-dinner treat consumed by NOLA Boy.  That dish holds half a cup, so it isn’t as much volume as it appears.  I had made some chocolate pudding, and that is in the bottom of the dish, and then there is a tiny scoop of Talenti Double Dark Chocolate gelato, a few honey roasted peanuts, and the Talenti Mediterranean Pistachio gelato on top.  The star of the show (ahem) is, of course, a chocolate-covered, sprinkle-dotted, crispy shortbread cookie that we acquired a box of yesterday.

But when we looked at the way that the pistachio gelato had fallen in the dish, it reminded us of the shape of . . . well, of something . . . an angel?  A dove?  Maybe an eagle?

So out came my little iPhone SE that I am using for most food photos these days, and there you have it!  What does it look like to you?

 

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Sandwich Buns with Quinoa

I know; they look just like the last ones.  I had two of my sesame seed buns left over from last time, so I made more with the garlicky topping this time.  One of us eats more cheeseburgers than the other!  ;->

My experimentation with making the buns very flavorful while not making them overly fluffy is beginning to pay off.  I have found that a full cup of five-grain rolled cereal is too much; a quarter cup of bulgur and a quarter cup of cornmeal is about right; but a quarter cup of quinoa and a quarter cup of cornmeal isn’t quite enough.  These buns were very tasty, but were no match for the cheeseburgers.  Perfect for other fillings, but not really robust enough for a hot meat patty.

I engender the “fluffy” by adding large flakes of instant potatoes (Bob’s Red Mill), butter, and an egg.  I’m convinced that these additional ingredients really do contribute to the overall ambience of the finished product, so not willing to leave them out for the sake of “stamina” on the part of the bun.

I have farro, wheatberries, and barley to try, but I think probably none of them would be appropriate because of their rather large kernal size.  I have some spelt flour lurking in the pantry, so maybe that will be the next experiment, along with a smaller amount of five-grain rolled cereal.

There are still seven buns left from the above batch, so it will be a while before the next experiment.  I think I see a batch of chick-sal-sand and a day photo trip in our future.  I already have the potato salad prepared to go with it, blueberry pancakes are cooking on the stove, and the sun is shining!  Onward!  ;->

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Santa Fe Fall Colors

Back in the dark ages of cameras, I had a super duper, twisty-turny Nikon 990 with a 3.3 MP sensor.  Actually I still have it, but the “film”-sized card doesn’t fit into anything current to read them, nor are they readily available to purchase.  But, Boy, did it take great pictures.  At least I thought so.  The way that the two halves of the camera twisted made it possible for me to take pictures without lying on the ground, or otherwise contorting myself.

In 2003/04, we spent from September to the end of January (not recommended to stay this far into winter – it got VERY cold) and were rewarded with the changing of the guard by the neighborhood leaves.

The road up to Hyde Park, the New Mexico State Park in the area, provided an outdoor studio for painters all the way up to the top of the mountain where the campground was.  Apparently it was an organized event because there were so many people in this area at the same time.

We were staying at a campground outside of town, so I do not remember anything about the campground at the summit, but the ride up there was certainly stunning.

A return trip is in our minds – it is a mere 500 miles away – but somehow such a distance is becoming more and more difficult to traverse.  It is on our Dream Shelf.  ;->

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Two for $3

 

IT’S A LONG ONE TODAY!

For most meals I do a little calculation in my head to see what the approximate cost is for the food that is on the plate, and accompaniments.  Over the last few years, the common number has increased from about a dollar to about a dollar and fifty cents, with more specialty dinners rising to two to three dollars on occasion.  Fortunately, leftovers contribute to lesser cost meals, so it pretty much all evens out.

These photos are of our lunch and dinner from one day last week, and it was interesting that they added up to just about three dollars.  As you might imagine, fast food from a drive-thru establishment holds no interest for us, so I don’t know for certain what the comparative cost might be, but I suspect that a burger, and perhaps a drink, would amount to more than three dollars, and that would provide skimpy nutrition, and for only one meal.

I’m not sure what made the above lunch so special, but NOLA Boy waxed poetically about it for about an hour after having consumed it.  And then he went to take his nap with a smile on his face!

I don’t set out to be miserly with our food budget; it just seems that to prepare nutritious meals produces deliciousness, with low cost as a “side effect”.

Having started cooking when I was about ten, this endeavour comes easily to me, but lately I have found that the plethora of appliances, and other helpers, that are available has really changed food preparation for the better.

Starting about in the mid-50’s, I watched (and helped) my mother produce fabulous meals with her two “helpers” – a Mixmaster and a pressure cooker.  That was about it for specialty items.

I cooked under her tutelage for years, and then started my own household in 1962.  A hard-working husband, and then a baby boy, required me to learn a lot more about how to cook entire meals, and be not just a sous chef.  Baby boys tend to grow up to be voracious eaters, and they have friends who found our home to be an attractive hang out!  I learned about quantity cooking – and then schooled said boy child in taking over the cooking for his friends.  He still does much of the cooking in his household using mostly his BBQ unit!

Over the subsequent years, I acquired a microwave oven, a stand mixer, a bread machine, slow cookers, a Nesco roaster, a rice cooker, and various smaller specialty electrical units, and cooking became a passion, as well as a necessity.

I learned to make my own yogurt and buttermilk, churn butter in the mixer to put on the sourdough bread, and cook just about everything from scratch.  It seemed invigorating to be able to produce such luscious foods.  In fairness, I did the butter only once – much easier to purchase it neatly packaged in sticks – but it was fun to give it a whirl.

Not long ago, I ran across my recipe for the sourdough bread and home-churned butter, with the notation on the bottom of the typed (on a typewriter!) page:  “All good sourdough bread deserves homemade butter”.  I remember typing that page on that typewriter from my tiny office in a house that we moved out of in 1976!

During those twenty or so child-rearing years, we were young and very active, so my repertoire included a lot of desserts.  Now?  Not so much.  Sugary items have lost their appeal, so we do not feel deprived, but I remember the many pretty items that graced our table nearly every night.

The last few years have become a cakewalk (pardon the pun) to cook for two elderly small eaters.  The biggest improvement is the result of having acquired the three- and six-quart InstantPots.  I still use my Nesco roaster, the toaster, and the Cuisinart Oven Central, but my set of Calphalon pots and pans, a stove-top steamer, the bread maker, and those marvelous InstantPots do most of the work now.  These fewer appliances provide me the ability to prepare the nutritious food that we know and love.

It really is a cakewalk to sidestep the frozen food and other pre-prepared foods in the aisles of the grocery store.  I am always amazed at the small amount of edible food that is available in a package that is purported to be sufficient for an actual meal; the packaging is more substantial than the nutritional value.

I understand that my available time to produce food is probably more generous than others, but the process seems so simple these days.  It is easy to cook more than is necessary for any given meal, which then provides an ingredient or two for another, slightly varied, menu for the next day, or the day after.

With modern storage containers and methods to reheat foods so that they taste absolutely first rate, I find that one good hour-long session of cooking can provide one or two components for a future meal or two.  This cuts down considerably on the time it takes to put together an attractive and healthy meal.  If freezer space is available, all the better to have one’s own pre-prepared foods on hand.

Here is dinner on the day of the above lunch.  It was equally as delicious, and as thrifty.  I urge everyone to allot some time to cooking food from scratch, to help to break the “fast food” cycle that is so prevalent these days.

You definitely will not be sorry.  ;->

 

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