Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. I think SP has my computer back to normal. That makes me happy.

2. Last week after I published my post about the crappy computer and horrible stomach pains, the smoke detector started beeping. Not a huge problem if you are not in a wheelchair. I ended up calling my dad to come save me from the beeping. He came over and removed the battery from our smoke detector and then as we were talking, there was another beep. And another. Turns out, it was actually the carbon monoxide detector beeping because of a low battery. That one I can reach - it's plugged into the wall next to the kitchen table. So I could have saved myself from nearly an hour of beeping, if only my ears were not old and if only I had remembered we even have a carbon monoxide detector that beeps when the battery is low.

3. Last week I read Vanishing Games and Silent Creed. I just discovered the Roger Hobbs books and have really enjoyed them. I'm looking forward to the next one. I always read Alex Kava's latest and enjoy them.

4. My magazine pile was under control last Thursday afternoon. By Monday, new issues of Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Pittsburgh Magazine had arrived. So back to not under control.

5. The sunflowers died, the petunias died, summer is ending, winter is coming. This makes me sad. SP cut down the dead sunflowers but saved me the flowers that still looked OK. They've been on the kitchen island all week but are now drooping.

6. I like autumn, it is my favorite season, but it's August and I do NOT want to see Halloween stuff or Thanksgiving stuff yet. I'm looking at you, Michaels, the store displaying fall stuff the first weekend in August. And you, Yankee Candle, the place that just emailed me & sent me coupons for fall candles and fall/Halloween decor. It is summer until Wednesday, September 23, the date of the fall equinox.
7. This past weekend we made the annual peach pie with peaches from Dawsons Orchards. Yum!

8. We also made one last huge batch of pasta salad with fresh herbs since our herbs are starting to die. The basil did not do well this year, which makes me sad. Not nearly enough for a batch of pesto. We also grilled peaches and ate them with burrata & tarragon, grilled some chicken, and grilled zucchini.

9. I'm really not ready for summer to end.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

We eat a lot of grilled chicken in the summer. Sometimes it's simply seasoned with salt & pepper, sometimes seasoned with Northwoods seasoning. Sometimes there's a sauce, like this one: Quick Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from March~April 2015 Cook's Illustrated
It's simple and quick. It's very much like a romesco sauce we once made for with shrimp & grits. The sauce is delicious on the chicken. It's also delicious on top of bread and on top greens as a thick salad "dressing."
Instead of jarred roasted red peppers, we roasted our own on the grill and then guessed at how many to use. We also omitted the garlic and toasted our bread & hazelnuts in the oven. Pulse all that in a food processor with some sherry vinegar, honey, smoked paprika, and cayenne and you have a delicious sauce for atop grilled or sauteed chicken. 

Recipe here.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

1. SP did whatever he wanted to do to my computer. Then my computer was super slow and horrible and annoying instead of faster and better so I yelled. I made him use it for a while and he saw what I meant. So he undid what he did. And it was better. Then he did something and it changed the look of my screens. And now I hate my computer again because I hate what he did and how it all looks AND it looks like I lost anything new since last Wednesday (new photos, docs, etc.) GRRRRRR. NOT A HAPPY WIFE.

I have no patience for this crap and no interest in again hunting for settings/fixing things the way I like them. I am never again letting my computer engineer husband touch my computer.

2. It doesn't help that I'm suffering through another bout of stomach distress. These cramp pains are so excruciatingly painful. It's like food poisoning cramping, but I'm not expelling anything, just doubling over in pain and gasping. I have no idea what did it this time. This week's menu: ribs, tomato tart, grilled skirt steak, grilled green beans, rolls. Since Tuesday night I've been eating bananas and bread.

There are no photos of my beautiful tomato tart or tasty ribs/steak because SP lost them from my computer.

3. This past week I read Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Ghostman, and The Innocent. My library pile is down to two books. All three books held my interest (I kept exiling SP to the basement to play video games so I could keep reading; I don't think he minded) and were enjoyable.

4. We watched Woman in Gold. It's not the best movie, but it held my interest. Stories like this always do.

5. We finished the last episode of the HBO John Adams mini-series. I thought the final episode was a little lacking compared to the previous ones, but overall I enjoyed the series.

6. I can't take this stupid computer anymore, or my stomach, so I'm off to take a nap! Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hough's

Last weekend was our niece's 5th birthday party. The party was in Greenfield, just a couple of blocks from Hough's, so we decided to go there for dinner after the party. It was an early dinner for us, 5 pm, and it wasn't too crowded inside. It's a typical bar inside, but spacious. Lots of wood and TVs showing sporting events. Here's what we ordered:
Fresh brewed iced tea! I was so happy. And a Brooklyn Vintage 2011 Monster for SP. Hough's has a HUGE beer selection.
Appetizer Grilled Cheese Sliders. It was a lot larger than I expected. It was basically 1.5 grilled cheese sandwiches. This could have been my meal. There were 3 flavors:
Provolone & Tomato
Goat Cheese, Scallions, and Bacon.
American Cheese.

The goat cheese, scallions, & bacon was my favorite. All were good but I thought they could have used more cheese. I like a lot of cheese on my grilled cheese. Oozing out all over.
SP's meal: Hough's House Burger with chicken, caramelized onions, cheddar, and special sauce slaw with side salad.
Close up of his sandwich.
Mac & Cheese with white cheddar, tomatoes, and bacon for me. More cheese! And bacon. Yum.

We enjoyed our food and beverages - I especially like that they serve fresh iced tea and not that awful pre-made crap or instant powder crap. It was nice and cool inside on a really hot August Saturday. The tables were clean and not sticky. Our server was friendly and food arrived at a nice pace. Hough's is definitely more of a beer than food place (many more pages of beer on the menu than food!). My food was good not great, but I don't drink beer so I'm not sure how often we'll return. It's a great place if you like beer and if you like above average bar food with your beer.


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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creamy Chocolate Pudding

Way back in July, I had a lot of milk to use before it expired so we decided to make pudding. While the basic Better Homes & Gardens Chocolate Pudding is tasty, I wanted to try The Best Creamy Chocolate Pudding recipe I ripped from the September & October 2011 issue of Cook's Illustrated.
It did not disappoint. It makes the BH&G one taste bland and boring. Probably because this ones uses heavy cream and whole milk plus espresso powder plus cocoa powder & bittersweet chocolate. Apparently, too much cocoa butter makes for a grainy tasting pudding, but this recipe has just the right combination of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate for lots of chocolate flavor without a grainy texture.
It's a lot of whisking but totally worth the extra effort. Smooth, creamy, chocolaty, not chalky, and wee hints of coffee and vanilla flavors.
Definitely a make again pudding.

Recipe here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Sunflowers out front
1. Last night SP wanted to do something to my computer. Something about switching something of my computer with something from his or some such thing. I don't really get it. I usually just ask if what he does will annoy me the next day or mess up my stuff. After spending some time copying stuff to the server to be sure I wouldn't lose anything if he messed up (yes, such confidence in my husband, who has a computer engineering degree), I plopped in front of the TV and left him to it.

I didn't ask how it was going. I knew whatever he was doing would largely be hands off, so I wasn't worried when he joined me on the couch a few minutes later. He was up & down several times for laundry and the computer thing and a few times I noticed him sort of wandering around and looking around -- that look he gets when he can't find something. I figured he "lost" his phone or tablet. "Losing" things is not uncommon. Sometimes I'll know exactly what he is looking for and I'll see it and start laughing because he forgot where he put his phone, or tablet, or wedding ring, or keys and is wandering around, frantically hoping he finds it before I realize he has again "lost" something.

Finally around 11:30pm he says, uhhh, you know what I said I was going to do? Well I had the part in my hand and then you called me in to do something and I set it down and now I don't remember where and I can't find it.

I started laughing. I asked him what this thing looked like and then got up to look for it. I went through the living room, kitchen, and my office and didn't see it. So I figured it was in his office. The disaster zone. He swears he knows what is in each and every pile and that he can find whatever needs finding. I doubt this. Usually I roll my eyes at the mess. When it looks especially disastrous I yell. Our cleaning lady, well, I told her to just vacuum in there. She's afraid to move anything lest she mess up the "system" or create an avalanche.

So I went in his office and about 1 minute later I spotted what had been "lost" for the past 3 hours.

Oh, SP.

So he spent the next hour doing what he meant to do 3 hours earlier.

2. Yesterday my mom & I went shopping. This time we went to Ross Park Mall, which is exciting in that it's not "our mall." "Our mall" is Robinson Mall, or South Hills Village. So Ross Park is kind of a treat. Anyway, we decided to have lunch at Cheesecake Factory. I was very disappointed. We were seated at a table with crumbs on it. The girl at the table next to us chewed with her mouth open and the tables are so close together you can't help but notice everything about your table neighbors. My favorite sandwich is no longer on the menu. It's not as tasty as it used to be. I suppose it was better than mall court food, but... I'm definitely not much of a fan anymore.
Tall sunflower!
3. The sunflowers SP planted for me are blooming. They make me happy! I love sitting in the living room, gazing out the front window at them.
Sunflowers by the side fence
4. I read the latest novel by Kathy Reichs, Speaking in Bones. Always enjoy them. My library book pile is down to 4.

5. My magazine pile is down to 3 from 5.

6. This weekend we have to go through tunnels and over rivers for our niece's birthday party. We're not looking forward to it because the inbound Ft. Pitt tunnels are going to be closed and the party is in an un-airconditioned old church basement on what is possibly going to be a 90 degree day (according to The Weather Channel).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Shrimp Salad

During summer, I don't like re-heating dinner in the oven. It's just too hot. I prefer cold meals. Like salads - regular salad, bread salad, fattoush salad, chicken salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and this Shrimp Salad.
Better Shrimp Salad is a recipe I ripped out of the July/August 2007 Cook's Illustrated. Sure, we know what goes in shrimp salad, but sometimes when we wing it, we just don't get an end result as delicious as when we dine out. It's usually good, just not great. So we decided to follow the recipe.
We did make a few changes. We grilled the shrimp instead of boiling them. We substituted fresh chives for chopped shallot. And we probably used a bit under 1/4 c mayonnaise since we do not like our salads too mayonnaise-y. Just enough mayo to bind it.The end result is fantastic. SP is quite good at grilling jumbo shrimp so they were perfectly cooked. The fresh chives, tarragon, and parsley complemented the shrimp and lemon juice/mayo. The 1/3 cup of finely chopped celery was the perfect amount for some crunch. We ate it on a Mediterra croissant the first night. The second night, we ate it on Mediterra whole grain bread and it was even tastier after everything had a chance to marinate together for a day. And then, to our dismay, it was gone.

But not forgotten. We'll definitely make this again.

Recipe here.