Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Weeping in the Kitchen

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (except for when it wasn't).

The downhill slide started with a hotel reservation snafu that required 16 emails and two phone calls to resolve.

While I was fuming, I realized the house felt chillier than it should, and when I went to check the thermostat?

All I got was a teeny tiny blank screen of death. Which meant the heating system had gone offline. For the second time in the span of 30 days.When I get frustrated and angry I do snarl (oh yes I do!). I do take the Lord's name in vain and I do shake a fist and curse. But more centrally to our tale today, when I get frustrated enough, infuriated beyond measure, I veer into tearful territory.

And that, friends and fellow bloggers is precisely how I found myself yesterday by mid morning. Tearful. Everything simple had become complicated, everything easy had become difficult, and I was so frustrated with the indignity and injustice of it all (OK OK I know this was me getting overblown, I have not forgotten Haiti or world hunger, relax) that I had tears stinging in my eyes.

I thought to myself if anybody Mary Poppinsed their way into my presence and told me brightly "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" I would gladly have punched them for their trouble. (Then apologized. I was frustrated, not brutish.)

So I began to play with the phrase to distract myself from how long it might take the repair service guy to come look at our stupid STUPID nonfunctional heater.

"If life gives you tears, make.....".

..................... Sigh. Sniffle.
(insert light bulb here).

French Onion Soup! Mon Dieu! Naturelment! I'd been meaning to make onion soup for ages.I like it, the Hub loves it, and even though I had not yet stumbled across THE recipe, every iteration so far had been not only edible, but credible as a representation of the genre.So out came the previously printed recipes, the sharp knife and the large cutting board. A bag of onions fetched from their garage storage spot, a bouquet garni cobbled together from herbs snipped from our garden in between rainy spells, some organic beef stock I'd nabbed on sale at Wheatsville, and I was just about set.

Chop chop, sniffle sniffle. Yesssssss.

As it turns out, the heater required two service visits. Service guy number the first was apparently so overwhelmed by the onion fumes in our house that he may have missed something. Service guy the second was a sport, didn't charge additionally for his visit or efforts, and I ended up with onion soup plus a functional heater.Win/win.

Side note: In support of the conceit that I make a wide variety of dishes for dinner (as opposed to a sinking feeling some nights that "If This is Tuesday it Must Be Meat Loaf"), I'd been recording our dinner entrees on the calendar for the past few weeks just to keep track.

I mean, seriously, can you recall what you had for dinner night before yesterday? Four days ago? If so, great for you, be sure to leave the blueberries for the rest of us forgetful types, because without writing it down, the lineup of My Dinners Past predictably evaporates into the ether.

It's been a fun prospect as it turns out. Looking back on three weeks of dinner is at the very least enlightening as to our patterns. It has also provided a good counter argument to certain younger diners who consistently try to make a case for fast food with the contention it has been "ages" since we had fill-in-the-blank-fast-food. Unless by "ages" they mean days. Which, given the stretchy tendency of some days, I totally get.

I digress.

Looking back?We've had, in no particular order, Seafood Lasagna (an experiment that fell into the "meh-OK" category), potato onion soup, grilled lamb sirloin, ginger fried rice, brats, sliders, roasted chicken and bolognese on pasta. Plus take-out barbeque, fried chicken, pizza, and more pizza.

Once I had onion soup doing a Vulcan Flavor meld in the refrigerator, the heater back online, and the hotel reservation snafu unfued, in a rush of largesse I decided to treat everybody (read:long suffering me/myself/I) to a simple chocolate cake as a celebration of our Saved from the Trashbin Wednesday.The recipe that follows is from Sweet Paul's website and is just as he describes it - a wonderful brownie style cake, delicious served warm as a delivery vehicle for a scoop of ice cream. And as it turns out, just the thing to celebrate a Wednesday yanked out of the dumpster.

Simple Save Wednesday (aka)
Sweet Paul's Easy Chocolate Cake
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons baking cocoa
3/4 cup AP flour

Pre-heat your oven to 320F, 160C. (I set my oven for 325 degrees...)
Stir butter and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the eggs and mix well.
Stir in vanilla, cocoa and flour. (I added chopped pecans just because...CHOPPED PECANS!)
Pour the batter in a buttered cake tin and bake for about 30 minutes.
The cake is best if its a little underbaked in the middle, like a soft brownie.
Take out and let cool a little.
Serve while still a little hot a la mode or with some whipped cream.
Yum. Wednesday may never be the same.

So how about you? Can you remember what you had for dinner three nights ago? Four? Fess up in the comments section and while you're mulling, do consider trying this great simple cake to celebrate "just because". You DESERVE it, you know you do.


Kathleen Scott said...

Oof! Nasty time for a heater snafu. Glad it's fixed.

The dinner list segment is funny. But I was SHOCKED that as a Texan in a cold winter you had not one chili! Chili ranks just after BBQ as our national food. And if you make it hot enough, you won't care if the heat goes off. Plus you can cry and sweat at the same time when you eat it.

So when you've tasted the Vulcan-melded onion soup, you're going to post the recipe? That's one I've never done, and I love onion soup.

I bought some packages of radishes this week to make good on your roasted radish recipe. Not telling Denny what they are, just gonna serve them.

Glad you finished with chocolate. Nothing comforts as well (unless you put chili powder in the brownie...).

TexasDeb said...

Thing is, I had chili so many times right before and then immediately after the holidays I am on something of a chili restraining order. But for a certain football game coming up shortly? Yeah, probably gonna have chili ready for that. AND Rotel dip. Which also probably means it will be a 74 degree day but whatEVER.

I will send you the recipe Ms. Kathleen. And fingers crossed wrt Denny and the Radishes. (sounds like one of those awful 80s hair bands...)

Iris said...

I love this idea, Deb! So I just added some dinners from this week--husband's homemade spelt crust pizza, seared salmon with steamed broccoli, curried sweet potato/beet greens soup, huge Caesar salad--on my Outlook calendar and plan to continue for awhile to see my trends.

So happy your heater's fixed. I thought today was supposed to be allot warmer by now?? Aargh. I was finally motivated to do some weeding, but I'm a cold wimp, so the weeds will have to wait. I'm sure they won't mind.

texasdeb said...

Hey Iris! Now I've got list envy a bit....but that's OK, dinner is always yummier on the other side, or so the saying goes.

Yeah, glad to have heat today, I'm a cold wuss my own self and try to remember that in August and not whine too much when I'm roasting. Somewhat worth it not to be dealing with ice and snow here in February.

Ha! I bet your weeds don't mind one bit!