Thursday, April 24, 2014

Porch Diner Etiquette- Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

This possum is "Big Head". I have not seen it in a awhile, and thought it might have met the common fate of possums, which is to be run over by a car. But perhaps "it" is a "she", and she may have been otherwise occupied. The raccoon is Mr Usual, and he is out there all night waiting for the buffet to be replenished. He is also partial to day old donuts-

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Scenes from My Porch Diner-After Hours

"Tender Centers" catfood was on the menu tonight, as well as day old cheese bread from Kroger.

As you can see this is a Peaceable Kingdom. The feline is Kitten Cat, who lives on the porch along with two of her cousins and her mother Shaky Cat. I am their servant, and provide them with concierge service.

The Masked One does not have a name, but he or she has an appetite, and several others of her tribe show up as well, along with a pair of possums, and several other very shy feral cats

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lamb Meatloaf with Cumin, Pine Nuts, and Two Onions

As the first photo shows, there is nothing more mundane looking than a meatloaf, especially when it is not covered by what I would call a catsup bandage.

Meatloaf is a mid-week meal, a slab of hamburger-in- hiding with the bun hidden inside in the white bread crumbs added by cooks desperate to keep the loaf moist. Meatloaf is a Protein Delivery System for teenage boys and husbands who will eat anything as long as it is covered with barbecue sauce and comes with potatoes on the side.

Most American meatloaf recipes call for ground beef that may or may not be mixed with other ground meats. All recipes require an egg, a little milk, and a starch, be it bread, rolled oats, or crumbled cornflakes. A small onion,diced and untreated, is also tossed in in the hopes that it will not still taste raw after 45 minutes at 350 degrees. And some cooks cover the loaf with strips of thin bacon.

My Lamb Meatloaf would be ruined by lava flows of catsup dripping off the sides, but it goes beautifully with the Roast Pepper and Tomato Soup of my previous post, a soup that is not watery, but stew-like.

My meatloaf is spiced with cumin and a little Kefta mix and 7 spice powder, and while I gave the nod to starch by adding Panko crumbs, its main filler is the two onions-one white and one red- that I use as a moist filler.

*(Those who cannot find Kefta or 7 Spice could add a pinch of cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cardomom.)

The treatment of the white and Bermuda onions is key. They must be grated, and this is best done with the shredder disc of the food processor. This produces a mound of very moist onion bits that you will steam to softness in a saute pan that has olive oil in it. Saute over medium heat after adding some cumin and sea salt to taste. Stir to prevent sticking and do not brown the onions. You want them soft and tasty, not caramelized. Keep tasting and when the onions are soft and cooked through, they are ready.

1 pound ground lamb

2 garlic cloves, crushed in a press

Sea Salt

Olive oil

1 red onion medium sized and 1 medium white onion

1/3 cup pine nuts (Inexpensive if you can find them at Trader Joe's)

1/2 cup Panko crumbs

1 big egg

1/3 to 1/2 cup milk or cream

Sauteed onion-all of it- as described previously.

Cumin to taste for onions, and more added to the meat mixture- perhaps 1/2 tsp

Spices as described above.

Throw everything into a bowl and mix well. Then spoon mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Serves 4, perhaps. Dress with Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce/stew.

Note the side dish- Peeled and dice purple mini potatoes tossed with olive oil and sea salt, studded with garlic slivers and roasted.

This dish is also good cold.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From The Tee-Tiny Experimental Kitchen- Cream of Roast Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup

This soup took me under 15 minutes to make, and I think it is delicious.

15 oz can or jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained.

28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes

Dash of Italian seasoning

Sea salt to taste

2 garlic gloves, finely minced or crushed in a press

1-2 cups of chicken broth or chicken bouillon.

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar-optional

1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream( cook's preference on desired creaminess).

Puree the tomatoes in a blender- do not drain tomatoes! Set aside in a large sauce pan.

Puree the roasted peppers. You may need to add a little water to make the blender happy! Add to saucepan.

Add garlic and Italian seasoning to taste. Add broth, then bring soup to a boil on medium heat. Boil 2 minutes, then lower to simmer.

Add cream and stir well. Adjust seasonings.

Should serve 4-6. Very good with crusty bread

* I intend to use this recipe, minus the broth, to create a sauce for lamb and feta meatballs. Doesn't that sound good!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scenes from this morning's walk along the Harpeth Greenway and Edwin Warner Park

This has been a belated Spring. We are three weeks behind.

The river in the photo is the Harpeth. This was once the country of Indians called the Mound Builders, and supposedly a few miles west of here along the Harpeth there are some mounds, though I have never seen them-

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Diary of a Mad Old Lady

Today was a landmark day for me for it was a day that confirmed that my expulsion from the Middle Class was complete.

I had hopes for this day. My truck had been fixed, my dogs were ecstatic that they were at last back at the park, and I was in a good mood that the park was so peaceful and quiet. We met and greeted a number of other benign dogs and doglettes and their pleasant owners. We wandered and communed with the squirrels. My loyal Toyota, alone in a parking lot near a picnic table shed was slumbering, enjoying the solitude.

But not for long. We returned, at our geriatric pace, to find the truck encircled by high end cars. It was night of the Living Mercedes and the Zombie Bicycle Hordes.

There must have been two hundred of the Spandex clad biker clan. They were arranged in formation, and blocked the road. There was not one ounce of unhealthy flab on any one of them, and I will bet half were cardiologists who spent evenings at restaurants playing a game where they imagined the cholesterol levels of the people at the next table.

The hounds and I attained the truck, and in defiance I started to back out. I put it in forward and then saw a male organizer coming in our direction. I rolled the window down and shouted "And how exactly am I supposed to get out of here?".

"I imagine if you just go slow, they will get out of the way", he said, and I saw myself as he saw me- an old female crank in a straw hat,with an equally ancient beagle riding shotgun on the seat divider.

The crowd did not need to part, they were already taking off, and I followed. And I was furious when I saw this entitled crowd was headed out onto Sneed Road, to torment other drivers, and that they were using Edwin Warner as a parking lot.

This was a bad omen.

But by afternoon, I felt less aggrieved and I decided to see if I could qualify for a credit card for people with bad credit, which I knew I had since I have spent the last 7 years becoming Financia Non Grata at the hands of two of the most Satanic organizations on earth- the IRS and the US Nashville District Bankruptcy Chapter 13

But I discovered that to The Barclay Bank, I was not a nice old lady with bad credit ,I was fiscally deceased, with no hope of resuscitation.

No credit card for me. I am now wedded forever to the Title Loan people, and all because I made the mistake of thinking that when I drew out my pension funds early that they were mine, though I knew there would be a penalty.

And what a penalty! Since I had not the money the IRS wanted my house. They wanted me to hire a contractor to tell them what condition it was in. I told them I had been sick. They wanted proof from a doctor.

I sought protection from the IRS with the Chapter 13 people, who offer the same sort of protection that the Mob does. Indeed the IRS and the Court were fist in glove, and for 4 years I went to the Work House while they took half my income.

For those considering bankruptcy of the Chapter 13 kind, I would advise considering emigrating to Cuba, faking your own death, or not faking your own death.

In Chapter 13 you might get to keep your house,( though I sent mine back to the bank), but you will not keep anything else.

There will be no new clothes, no vacations, no car repairs. Perhaps you will call in sick to work not because you are sick, but because you cannot buy gas to get there.
Your teeth will fall out. Your spirit will die, and you will become scum to our great Republic because you cannot fulfill the two great duties of an American.

Consuming stuff, and paying taxes.

And now the IRS is after me again for penalties and interest.

But being retired I am no longer a human piggy bank they can shake. No assets. No property. no savings. On Social Security, of which the IRS can only drain a little-

So to my adversaries at the IRS, I say what Henry V told the herald of the French at Agincourt-

"Achieve me, and then sell my bones'.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Automotive Literacy

Nothing gives me a case of what Mark Twain called "the fantods" faster than car trouble.Two weeks ago I had a terrible case of it after my Toyota truck started sputtering as we drove down White Bridge Road to go to work at the night clinic at The Little Big House. Sputtering is one thing, but lurching and flashing the check engine light is something else.

I feared an automotive Chernobyl. Would the car die and stall out as we merge just in front of a semi coming on at ninety? Would it explode like cars do in Jerry Bruckenheimer films? Would I get to work on time?

The truck got me home the next morning after I spent the night in a funk. One of my co-workers was a man, and I drilled him for answers about cars. But he was involved with motorcycles and could give me no answers. And as I drove home I not only still seeing the flashing engine light, I found it impossible to get the truck to go faster than thirty.

I did not have to work for another two weeks, but I ended up under house arrest because I was down to $120.00 and could not afford to get it fixed until some money blew my way, which it would do in another ten days.

My truck and I have always been amicable, and never has he stranded me on the side of the road. I know how to get in, how to get out, and how to throw trash into the bed, the back seat and the front. I know how to turn the key and turn the lights on. I know the truck has a front and back, but I cannot remember where to find the flashers.

A concerned friend, trying to help, told me to go out and check the oil with some kind of stick. I knew the oil was in the front somewhere, and that I had to open the lid with some kind of lever that was inside the car. I started pulling levers and pushing buttons, then I got out to see if I could pry the lid open. I could not remember if it opened from the top or bottom. The top seemed unlikely since it was attached to the windshield, so I tried the bottom. It lifted an inch or two then quit.

I gave up then.

I know women who can change tires, but I do not want to know how. I pay others to do it. In a Toyota Tundra it is a terrible thing. It means having to remove an old computer, trashed mail and the dog steps from the back seat so you can pull the seat up or down(I do not remember which) just to find some metal rod thing. This rod goes into some sort of pulley under the back of the truck and you have to turn it and turn it to get the spare tire down from some hidden compartment to a place where the wrecker man can take it out.

There is a jack in there too, but do not ask me where it is. When the jack appears I go the front for I do not want to be near any part of a truck that is lifted in the air.

Today I delivered the truck to the Car Care Center. I was terrified. Would it be the dreaded Catalytic convertor?($2000.00) or the engine ($8000.00). Would I have to go to the loan sharks to pay for it? What if it could not be fixed?

In the end it cost 800 dollars, which seemed like a bargain compared to the alternatives.

The problem was with the coils they told me, and with the spark plugs. Two coils in fact.

The invoice they gave me looked like a cable bill. I recognized a few things. They had replaced the windshield wipers for free, apparently, but which was a good thing since they had been ground down to stubs.

And I learned another new thing- that spark plugs need little boots for their little spark plug feet, and that these boots cost 16 bucks a piece, and that I had paid for 129 dollars worth.

This is a good garage, and they depend on people like me for business for if everyone shopped at Auto Zone and did their own repairs the garages' work would plummet .

There are automotive literates out there-

And there are the automotive idiots- Like me.