Thursday, April 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Tomorrow is the first day of May! April seems to have zipped by while at the same time seeming to drag on.

I know that most people are having hair issues since we've been in Stay Home mode since March 14. But that was already 4 weeks after my last hair cut/color. I'm now at 11 weeks without a hair cut and without color to hide my gray roots. I'm getting a real good sense of just how gray, well, white, my hair is. It's not a happy thing. On the other hand, my hair care routine is wash, dry, brush, hide it all under a bandanna and make sure it's pulled low enough on the forehead to hide the ring of white hair. If I go out on the deck, I hide it under a hat.

Last weekend we were nebby neighbors. The most exciting stuff in weeks was going on! Neighbor across the street was having trees removed! And next-door neighbor was removing a tree! They actually used our driveway - their truck was in our driveway with the rope attached to the tree, they drove towards our deck, and tree came down, not even close to our property. They had a very narrow amount of space to work with as they tried to avoid pulling the tree onto their house, fence, or shed. They got it to fall right between the shed and fence (it's a partial fence just to, um, well, I have no idea, I guess give some privacy between the end of their drive/garage and our side yard?). Anyway, we were happy to help (by saying yes, you can use our driveway and side yard).

What We're Eating:

  • Pappardelle with Chicken in Red Sauce
  • Crunchy Pork Chops with Spiralized Zucchini
  • Dessert: Raspberry Chiffon Pie

What We're Watching:

  • Extraction (Netflix). Chris Hemsworth in an action movie. Perfect quarantine movie. Not much of a plot. Lots of action. Lots of a very good looking man.
  • We started Interrogation on CBS All Access. Apparently there's a free 30 day trial and someone wanted to watch the Star Trek shows (not me). But I did watch the first 2 episodes of Interrogation. We'll finish it (6 more episodes) but my gosh did I get angry and yell at the television during episode 1!
  • A while ago we cancelled our Dish service and switched to YouTube TV. They are currently offering free month-long trials of Showtime and Acorn TV, so we signed up for those. I'm not sure how much we'll actually be able to watch in 30 days. I guess we won't be watching anything on Netflix or Amazon.  
  • Anyway, we started watching Deadwater Fell with David Tennant on Acorn TV. We watched the first 2 of the 4 episodes and like it so far. Well, as much as one can like a show about 4 of 5 family members being killed in a fire and it was probably murder.
  • We finished The ABC Murders (Amazon). Episodes 2 & 3 were more exciting than episode 1.
  • Little Women (2019 movie). It was good. I get why people loved it, why it was nominated for pest picture, but for me, it was just another Little Women movie. Plus, Little Women was not one of the novels I really enjoyed.

What I'm Reading:
I finished Hell Bay and read Blood is Blood (Barker & Llewelyn Books #8 and #10) from Will Thomas. I hope the library re-opens soon so I can read #5 and #9.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Raspberry Chiffon Pie

In this time of quarantine and curb-side pick up shopping, it took us several weeks to acquire all the ingredients to make Raspberry Chiffon Pie from The Perfect Pie. There are four parts to making this pie! I guess the first part, the crust, wasn't very exciting because we did not take any photos. We chose the Pat-in-the-Pan Pie Crust and had a bit of trouble because we forgot that our oven is off by about 25 degrees. That doesn't seem like much, but it's been giving us a bit of trouble with our baked goods. The crust took a long time to cook/brown and when we took out the pie weights and returned it to the oven, the bottom inflated like a balloon. So we took it out and popped it, put the pie weights back in for a bit, and then re-removed them to finish baking it. It's possible our oops is why the crust slid down the pie pan and looked like it shrank too much. Or, it could be simply that the deep dish pie pan we used is just a bit too large.
After the crust cooks, the fun parts begin. The parts that send pink splatter around the kitchen. First up, the fruit layer. Cook the frozen raspberries until they release juices.
Add pectin, sugar, salt and cook until thickened:
Strain to remove seeds:
Set 1/3 puree aside. Fold fresh raspberries into remaining fruit puree and spread in cooled shell:
Time to beat jello, cream cheese, and reserved fruit puree together:
Add cream:
It turns a beautiful pink color:
Spread atop fruit puree layer and refrigerate:
Dessert the first night:
It was dark by the time we ate dessert, so not great photos. We didn't make the whipped cream (step 4) because it wouldn't keep well and it's just the two of us, so we topped our slices with whipped cream from a can.
Daytime photos! Such a pretty deep pink color.
The whole fresh raspberries mixed into the puree for the bottom layer are so good but my favorite part is the chiffon layer. Our crust got pretty dark and was pretty crisp the first night. The second night, it was less crisp but not at all soggy. I think baking the crust until it's pretty dark is a good idea, especially if you're planning to have the pie last a few days. This is delicious and definitely a Make Again dessert.

Recipe: Raspberry Chiffon Pie

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Another week of Stay Home has gone by. I'm not too stir crazy yet, mostly because the weather has been kind of crappy. Not very spring-like. Way too windy. And rainy. But I do miss Saturday dinner dates with SP.

My allergies seem especially bad this year. Since I haven't gone anywhere since March 7, and neither has SP (he does curbside pick ups, so he doesn't go in the stores), the logical part of my brain is 99% sure I do not have coronavirus. The illogical, scared-to-death because of the news part is convinced that somehow the virus invaded the house and infected me and now I'm going to die a miserable, lonely death. I've been sneezing a lot, sometimes I have coughing fits, and my eyes are often watery. Ugh!

What is with banana bread? Growing up, my mom didn't bake and once I started baking, it definitely wasn't banana bread since I loathed bananas. In our house, bananas never lasted long enough to turn mushy because my dad and brother loved peanut butter and banana toast sandwiches. Ugh - two of the most disgusting foods ever. My grandma didn't bake banana bread. It's not a comforting baked good for my family. So seeing so much banana bread on social media confuses me. I can think of so many yummier things to bake while stuck inside than banana bread. So many more comforting baked goods.

We managed to find & buy yeast - a 2 lb bag, so I guess we're set with yeast for quite some time! The next hunt will be for more flour. Last week SP used some newly acquired yeast to make soft pretzels one night. This past weekend we made English Muffin Bread for lunch sandwiches this week. I really like it, not just with turkey & cheese but also toasted and slathered with butter.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We zipped through Season 6 of Bosch, enjoying it as much as we always do.
  • The final episode of The Plot Against America. It was a good show, but not great.
  • The second episode of Killing Eve Season 3 seemed a bit slow after the first episode, but I can sense pieces being moved into place for more exciting episodes.
  • Code 8 (Netflix). It was pretty good, much to my surprise. It is science fiction, about people with super powers, and stars the guy from Arrow. 
  • We watched the first of three episodes of The ABC Murders on Amazon. It's based on Agatha Christie's Poirot novel and starts John Malkovich as Poirot and Rupert Grint as an inspector who does not much like Poirot.

What I'm Reading:

  • Anatomy of Evil (Barker & Llewelyn Series #7) from Will Thomas. I think I have only 2 more and then I have to wait until the library re-opens to get the two not in eBook format.
  • I started #8, Hell Bay, and according to my tablet I'm 33% through - I kind of like that feature!
  • My magazine pile is at zero! Unless you count the Smithsonian issues I have not yet gotten around to reading. They have such small print, even with my glasses I find it tiny, so I never feel like reading them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Almond Financiers (French Almond-Browned Butter Cakes)

We made these little cakes a while ago. The recipe makes 24 little cakes and that was a bit much for the two of us. We couldn't eat them all before they got a bit stale tasting, which happened pretty quickly. Of course that was before the virus. Now with SP home all day long and no dining out, we could easily eat 24 before they taste stale!
This recipe is in the March-April 2020 Cook's Illustrated. Just 6 ingredients: butter, almond flour, sugar, AP flour, salt, egg whites.
We decided to try a couple of the customized options suggested. Chocolate chips in some, sliced almonds for others.
Although I did not press the chocolate into the batter, the chips sank to the bottom, but fortunately didn't stick to the pan.
These are bite-sized, so it was difficult to control the urge to keep popping them in our mouths! The exterior is nice & crisp while the interior is moist & cakey.
We'll definitely make these again, but probably for a gathering since they're best the first day.

Recipe: Financiers (Almond-Browned Butter Cakes)
*1/3 c (3 oz) egg white is about 3-4 whites from large eggs

Monday, April 20, 2020

Penne with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

We made this Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce dish for Good Friday because it doesn't have meat. It was easy to make and it was really tasty. We scraped every last bit of sauce off our plates. Closed stores (liquor) and curb-side pick ups make getting exactly the ingredients you want a bit challenging, so we made some minor adjustments to the recipe. No garlic (my sensitivity); penne, not rigatoni (because that's what we had in the pantry); no chives; cooking wine, not real wine; and regular mushrooms, not a fancy mix with cremini and shiitake.
This is definitely a make again dish. The creamy sauce (mascarpone, parmesan, wine, vegetable stock) is delicious. We got 2 dinners (4 servings) from this.

Recipe: Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

I missed my Blog Anniversary on Tuesday. Eleven years.

Tomorrow is another anniversary. Tenth wedding anniversary! Whoo! Quarantine anniversary!

Sunday was Easter. The Easter Bunny did not bring a basket of goodies. Something about an Easter basket filled with candy for an adult not being essential. SP made brunch (lemon ricotta pancakes, bacon, fruit) and then we sat in the sunshine on the deck for a while. We watched the neighbors down the hill and judged their social distancing!!

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • The Plot Against America on HBO. We've watched 5 of the 6 episodes. The 6th one airs this coming Monday. 
  • Bosch Season 6 (Amazon Prime) starts tomorrow!
  • We tried to watch Uncut Gems (movie) but every character was some combination of  horrible/obnoxious/despicable/annoying so we couldn't get into it. We watched a half hour and called it quits. Disappointing given the great reviews the movie received.

What I'm Reading:

  • The Hellfire Conspiracy and Fatal Enquiry (Barker & Llewelyn Series #4 and #6) from Will Thomas. I cannot read #5 until the library reopens because they do not have it in electronic form. I'm really enjoying the series. 
  • Cleaning the Gold (A Jack Reacher and Will Trent Short Story) by Lee Child and Karin Slaughter. I've read all the Jack Reacher books from Child but not the Will Trent books from Slaughter. I might need to start that series next. 
  • If Snow Hadn't Fallen (Lacey Flint Series, Book 1.5) by S. J. Bolton. I've read all the other Lacey Flint books and like the characters in them as well as the stories. This one was good, but also sad.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

I don't know anymore how many days we've been at home. I do know I haven't left the house since March 7. SP goes out for curb-side pick up. That was going pretty well until today when our grocery store didn't have 4 items we requested and then gave us meatloaf mix instead of chicken. Their solution was to tell us to keep the meatloaf mix (of course we've been eating meatloaf this week so I do not want more meatloaf) and they'd credit the cost of the chicken (which has not yet showed up on the credit card).

Someday we will find yeast & whole wheat flour. Meanwhile, no more bread baking for us.

We were going to make a pie for Easter dessert but the grocery didn't have frozen raspberries. So no new-to-us, special dessert.

But SP is employed, has a paycheck, we have food, we have toilet paper, and aside from my horrible allergies, we are healthy. I know many people are struggling. The meatloaf mix mistake and not getting raspberries for a pie are minor inconveniences.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We watched Tiger King. Best summed up by OMGWTF?!?!?! Those people are all nuts!
  • Manifest ended. I like that it answered the current questions and raised questions/left a cliffhanger for a (hopefully) third season.
  • Modern Family aired its series finale. I think it was a good way to end the show. It left us both a little teary. We really enjoyed the show for the past 11 seasons.
  • The Current War (movie). We both enjoyed this movie. After the movie, we spent some time on our tablets, looking up Edison & Westinghouse & Tesla.
  • I'm a little lost in HTGAWM. Maybe because I can't remember everything that has happened over the crazy-pants last 5 seasons?

What I'm Reading:
I finally joined 2020 and started checking out library books on the Kindle app. I've read a few short stories and started a book. I still prefer a real book to reading on my tablet, but with the libraries closed, I'll manage.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Challah Bread

For our second Saturday Bread Baking we made Challah Bread. This recipe is from Baking Illustrated. This recipe calls for two braids, a smaller one stacked atop a larger one, to get a good challah shape.
The larger, bottom bread braid.
The second, smaller bread braid on top the larger one. The braiding isn't that difficult.
So pretty & shiny with the egg wash. But even prettier after baking:
A beautiful golden color. The braids really did stick together.
We used the bread to make roast turkey & smoked gouda with honey-dijonnaise sandwiches for lunch.
It's a bit of a sweeter bread, but so tasty. I tried it plain, toasted, and panini grilled. I liked the panini version the best. I've been enjoying our homemade breads so much that I don't think I'll be able to go back to English muffins for lunch. I guess we'll have to factor in bread baking time every weekend - ?!

Recipe: Challah Bread 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Prosciutto Bread with Provolone

Before we subscribed to Cook's Country a bit over a year ago, SP's mom would sometimes give us an issue she had finished reading. That's how we first saw this Prosciutto Bread with Provolone recipe. Of course we never found the time to make it until recently. We may have lost our Saturday Date Nights to coronavirus, but now we sometimes have Saturday Bread Baking.
We had to make a few adjustments. Our Giant Eagle curb-side shopper had some trouble with some ingredients. Apparently everyone is now baking, so instead of instant or rapid-rise yeast we got fresh yeast. There was no capicola, so we just used more prosciutto and pepperoni. We did use thin prosciutto, and it was swallowed up by the bread, but, oh well. It didn't seem to affect the bread's texture.
Sitting on the living room table for rise #1.
Shaping the loaves.
After rise #2, about to go in the oven.
Cooling on the kitchen table.
Look at the browned provolone that melted down the side of the bread. Yum!
This bread is really good. We ate it for lunch with arugula salad. We froze one loaf until we finished the first loaf. Yes, we ate both loaves in seven days. It's that yummy. I saw a note that you could also substitute rosemary (or regular) ham for one of the meats. Basically any 9 oz of meats.

Definitely a Make Again bread.

Recipe: Prosciutto Bread with Provolone
From Cook’s Country February / March 2018 issue. Also recently featured on Cook's Country Instagram.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

This might sound strange given everything going on in the world, but lately, I've been telling SP how grateful & thankful I am for what we have and for the way our life is. I am thankful he has a job that has always allowed him to work from home if necessary. I am thankful his employer actively tells employees to stay home if they feel unwell. I am thankful he still has a paycheck. I am thankful we are able to afford to stock up and afford warehouse membership and buy in bulk. Right now, I am even thankful that we do not have children.

There have been a lot of sad times since I found out in my early 20's that I couldn't have children, and I know all my friends say how wonderful it is and it's the best thing they ever did, but right now I am thankful we don't have kids to worry about, to entertain, to home school, to explain all this. We don't have them bugging us, being bored, whining, hogging the internet, etc.

Speaking of the internet, before all this started, we upgraded our service (faster & cheaper) which is good because we also recently got rid of our "traditional" television service and switched to a streaming tv service. We compared our existing channels and costs with those of 2-3 streaming services and then tried 2 of them with free trials before deciding. Truthfully, I miss some things about our old service. I find some things with our new service difficult. Maybe it's better to say not as user friendly. Not as old user friendly?! Sometimes I can't figure out how to navigate to where I want to go. But for $70 less a month, I'll deal with it. The only thing we maybe might miss a wee bit is the local sports channel. But not right now since there aren't any new sports. There are things I like a lot more with the new service.

Mostly, I have trouble remembering whether something I want to watch is on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or the streaming TV service or HBO which is attached to our Prime account.

And I resent that SP finally got his XBox in the main living room - ! It's white - it does not match the other devices. Why, why would they make it white???

What We're Eating:

  • Roast Chicken with rice and steamed broccoli or sauteed zucchini. All week long.
  • Dessert: Chocolate Pudding

What We're Watching:

  • Ozark Season 3 (Netflix). What an ending! How fun bat-shit crazy is Darlene?! I think she's my favorite character - the one you love to hate!
  • The Manifest season finale is this Monday. I'm glad they shortened the show to 13 episodes instead of a slow, plodding season with useless episodes. 
  • Movie: Richard Jewell. Good movie. But the movie made us feel really old!
  • HTGAWM returns tonight. I am excited to see how it ends, if Annalise really dies, how does Wes return (he was seen in a preview snippet, I think). 
  • Killing Eve Season 3 starts April 12!

What I'm Reading:

  • Lavender Blue Murder from Laura Childs. It took me a while to get through this light, fluffy read (like all the Tea Shop Mysteries) and I'm not sure if I'm bored with formulaic, all too familiar plot or if what's going on (or not going on) in the world is getting to me, making me unable to concentrate.