Wow...the month of January officially sucked.I have never been so continuously ill for a long time. And when I wasn't ill, I was so depressed about the amount of work that was piling up that I just didn't care about food at all. Amazing huh?
So now that I am finally healthy thanks to antibiotics and Vicodin cough medicine...I care about food again and celebrated with a trip to Schuman's meats. Fifty Dollars and a ton of meat later, I was feeling back to my old self. So Tony and I sat in the car and ate ham salad on white bread for lunch. Hmmmmmm damn fine stuff. All we needed was a pickup and a double wide.
So now on to the unfinished business of blogging...
The best thing about it being the new year? That the cookie baking season has come to an end.
Here is a list of cookies we made for the holidays:
Fig Drop cookies
Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint cookies (Gail cheated here! Bad bad Gail!)
Payday cookies (aka peanut bar cookies)
Dream Bar cookies with white chocolate, dark chocolate and dried cherries
Pecan Apricot balls
Decorated Sugar Cookies
Stroopwaffles (plus caramels with the left over filling)
Orange Ginger cookies
Coconut Cherry Drops
Master Dough Cookies
Poppyseed rollups with orange flavored dough
Cherry Cranberry rollups with almond flavored dough
Chocolate Raspberry cookies
And boy! Are my arms tired!!
This year, we stayed close to home and baked the majority of the cookies at Gail's house. You have to realize just how small Gail's kitchen is - I won't even call it a galley kitchen. It's more like - an afterthought.
Builder 1: "Oh crap! We forgot to put a kitchen in these units!"
Builder 2: "That's ok, we'll just take out this closet. There will be plenty of room!"
Here are Gail and I in the closet - I mean kitchen - making lunch.
The good news is - working together for 10+ years has made it possible for us to waltz through such small spaces without any elbowed ribs or trod-upon toes.
This year was really a challenge because friends and coworkers were asking for specific cookies...snickerdoodles, peanut butter, chocolate chip...all violations against rule number one. Our general attitude is "we bake what we like and the rest of you are damn lucky to be getting at all!" Being generous, we decided that we would find decorative versions of these everyday favorites - namely snickerdoodles and peanut butter. But next year - no way! They can suffer and be glad for it!
Here am I showing my contempt by burning a tray of cookies...
Just last week, the clache united for a post holiday round up. Gail and Debbie had taken two weeks off during the post-holiday work slump so this was the first chance we had to get together and talk.
The first consensus - we did too many cookies. Surprise.
The second consensus - many coworkers have started taking the cookie ladies for granted. Those individuals think we are their own personal baking slaves. Got news for you folks - we ain't your bitches. Never were - never will be. The cookies ladies are now tired of being EXPECTED to do anything for ungrateful welps who can't even express a small amount of gratitude. Just see what that nets you next holiday season - I bet it ain't cookies...
So after several hours of pissing and moaning, we headed off to Whole Foods because Gail had never been there. Whole Foods is a danger to your pocketbook. Fortunately, the only things I bought were some fine cheese, a couple of Meyer lemons, a couple of blood oranges and a bottle of unhomgenized milk. Hot damn - I love the cream cap on top!
The reason I bought the Meyer lemons? The produce hunk cut one up for us while we were ogling the fruit and let us have a slice. A nice flavor - not too sweet not too tart...though a mixture of OJ and regular lemon would do in a pinch. And for a lot less money.
Oh yeah - also got a couple bottles of Small Beer from Anchor Steam. What is small beer you ask? It is second run of beer from previously used mash. It was very light and refreshing. I will be buying a few more bottles when the mercury starts to climb...
BTW I got yelled at for taking pictures of baked goods. So I just slipped my camera in my pocket in fear that they would insist I delete everything on my card. Here is some of my photography with my new Christmas present - a Canon Powershot. (Thanks Tony!! I love you!!!) Just keep in mind I risked the wrath of Whole Foods legal department to bring these to you!!
Gail and Debbie then got a bug in their ear for bubble tea made at home. So off we went to the New Asian Supermarket right across the street from Whole Foods. I love Asian groceries. Even if I can't identify was 85% of the items are in the produce department. Their produce looks wonderful - I plan on heading over there again soon to pick up some tasty greens for dinner. Even better, they have live fishes swimming in tanks that they will kill and clean for you. I know that this is not a new thing, but it just never occurred to me that I should be taking advantage of it. Duh!
We did find the makings for bubble tea - I still haven't asked if they have figured it out yet...
Plus Gail went crazy buying cute dishes for the grand-baby. Me? I am plotting on spending the income tax return on some lovely Japanese bowls for noodles among other things...
So that it about it. The rest of my sick time, I made a lot of my old standbys - quick and easy. Cream of tomato soup, potato soup, hamburgers - stuff like that. I did however make a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie. I kind of made it up as I went along, plus I stole an idea from the new Cook's Country magazine (brought to you by the folks at Cook's Illustrated). Damn fine recipe for a night when you are sick, depressed and cold.
Rosie's Chicken Pot Pie
4 chicken leg quarters
4 cups of homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup of frozen pearl onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped regular onions
Salt, Pepper,Garlic powder to taste
Handful of Chopped Parsley
Box of Pillsbury's Pie refrigerator crusts (Sacrilege!!!)
1 egg, beaten
Poach the chicken leg quarters in the broth until tender and remove meat from the bone. Husbands who are watching television are excellent tools for accomplishing this while you are busy chopping vegetables.
Once veggies are chopped, add a small amount of oil to a pan and start sauteing the two onions. Once they are soft, add the carrots, mushrooms and celery. Cook until just tender. Toss in peas and parsley. Add chicken meat after vetting it for any random bits of skin. Note that there seems to always be a little less yield when the hubby does the chicken. Put into a round casserole dish.
Take the prepared pie crusts and beaten egg. Paint one crust with the egg and lay the other crust on top. You now have a heavy crust that can be used for potpie. This is the tip I borrowed from Cook's Country.
In a clean saucepan, heat up the butter until melted and hot and stir in the flour. Cook until the flour just starts to turn bone colored -a very very pale tan. Start adding the chicken broth a little at a time, whisking constantly. Once all the broth is added, let the sauce come to a boil. Add the cream and remove from heat. Pour over the meat and veggies, season to taste.
Top with the cheater's pie crust. Poke holes in crust to let the steam out and bake in a 425 degree oven until crust is brown and the filling bubbling hot, about 30-40 minutes. If the edges of your crust brown too fast, get out the foil and make reflector strips to cover them up.
So that's it. Most of the prep work could be done ahead and you could use leftover chicken from the night before. Easy as pot pie!
So I will get back to work now - I have a ton of cleaning to do and I will be much better about posting in the new year! Promise!