Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts on Wednesday

I skipped last week's Thursday Thoughts because it was Christmas Eve. Also, one of us is not doing well and was under the weather over Christmas. Things here have been difficult and worrisome.

It was just the two of us for Christmas Eve & Christmas. Even if the pandemic had magically disappeared, we would have been alone/stayed home because things were that bad. We ate the same meal both days, opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, and watched the new Wonder Woman movie on Christmas. 

This week has been doctor trips, work, and me threatening to start dismantling the tree. We live in an older home and the living room isn't huge. The way things are arranged, during holiday tree time, I cannot see the right quarter to one third of the TV because of the tree. I could sit on the couch, but then my neck would have to turn a bit and that still, at times, sets off the pulsing in my ear, so I won't do it. For Wonder Woman, we moved the tree in front of the fireplace. Thank goodness we put the stand on a towel - it slides easily! We couldn't have the lights on, but that was OK because we turned out all the lights and pretended we were in a real theater!

We managed to make pierogie and bake cookies but I wouldn't say it was fun this year. This year we baked Cinnamon Spice Cut OutsTriple Ginger CookiesIschl Tartlets (Linzer Cookies),  Chocolate Dipped Crescents, Spritz, Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices. We gave a lot to friends who helped us (you know a friend is awesome when they come over and snowblow your driveway for you in 20 degrees!).

We don't have any New Year's plans other than taking down the tree, cleaning the house, and watching TV. We pre-ordered take out from Bistro 19 as a treat.

What We've Been Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • Bridgerton (Netflix). I have not read the books. We just finished episode 5. Apparently the next couple are quite steamy?!
  • The Mandalorian Seasons 1 & 2. I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. Baby Yoda annoyed me much less than I expected. I liked the little guy.
  • Wonder Woman 1984. We watched this Christmas evening. It was good, not great, not as good as the first one, but still fun and I didn't find myself glancing at the clock to see how much longer there was to go.
  • We have yet to watch the season 2 finale of His Dark Materials.
  • Holiday Baking Challenge. We liked all 3 finalists.

What I'm Reading:

  • Ham Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #7) by Carolyn Haines. Still enjoyable. Still a quick read. That's OK.
  • Murder Wears White (Book #2) by Stephanie Blackmoore. This was also enjoyable & a quick read.
  • The Devil & the Dark Water by Stuart Turton. This was really good. I couldn't put it down. It's set in 1634 almost entirely on an East India Company merchant ship sailing to Amsterdam. It's a pretty convoluted plot involving a supposedly dead leper, ghosts, the devil, secrets, an imprisoned detective, and while I was a wee disappointed in the ending and incredulous when all was revealed, I still really enjoyed then book.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Outside is a winter wonderland. SP is happy he's working from home because he didn't have to worry about shoveling snow. It's almost 2:30 pm and he's finally going out to snowblow the almost 10 inches of snow. It looks pretty as long as you do not need to go out in it!

What We're Eating:

  • Chicken Marsala
  • Smoked Pulled Pork with biscuits and roast cauliflower
  • Dessert: Amish Cinnamon Bread (from the freezer)

What We're Watching:

  • Station 19. Sigh. It seemed (seems?) like they're trying to cram too much in, especially last week's episode. All in one episode: coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, drug addiction, mask wearing, the church and sexuality. I watch TV (and read) to avoid the crap in the news, not wallow in more despair and hopelessness.
  • On the Basis of Sex (movie). We enjoyed this a lot even though it made us angry all over again because RBG's accomplishments, her story is just so amazing & impressive and she was replaced by ACB on the SC - ? Seriously, no comparison. 
  • The Amazing Race. Of the 3 teams the one we liked the least won. Boo.
  • We finished The Crown and started Marcella (both on Netflix).

What I'm Reading:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. This was just OK. I don't know if I'll continue with the series.
  • The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer. Another engrossing read from this author.
  • Bones to Pick by Carolyn Haines. Probably one of my favorite "cozy mystery" series (not that I read that many, maybe 5?).
  • Fractured by Karin Slaughter. I like Slaughter a lot and just started the Will Trent books. This one, the second one, was quite good.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

I don't have any exciting thoughts. Here are my not very exciting thoughts:

  • We got a new coffee machine & I'm enjoying a cup every afternoon but as delicious as it is, it's also giving me heartburn.
  • As grateful as I am for central heat, I do not like the system in our house. I'm either seated by a cold air return vent, freezing and shivering, or sitting right in front of a vent blasting hot air in my face, drying out my skin and my eyes. My eyes are so dry that I constantly want to close them and nap.
  • It's Holiday Cookie Baking time but I cannot muster much enthusiasm this year. Or energy. I pretty much just want to be a blob under a blanket, napping in my comfy chair.
  • I accidentally ordered holiday cards with glitter. I guess these things happen when you don't closely read the online description. I despise glitter. If someone sends me a glitter card, I won't even take it out of the envelop. Now my desk is covered with glitter. Those bits get tracked around the house. I don't really understand how, but they do.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • His Dark Materials (HBO).
  • I think the Alliance Trio may have diminished Amazing Race a bit. Not sure I care which team wins now.
  • One more episode of The Crown. I know it's not entirely factual, but good grief Charles & Diana should never have married.

What I'm Reading:

  • Hallowed Bones by Carolyn Haines.
  • Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore.
  • Fortune & Glory by Janet Evanovich. The latest Stephanie Plum book. It was better than usual. I wasn't as annoyed with the usual predictable stuff (the wrecked cars, the failed fugitive apprehensions, etc.).

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Crabmeat Squares

My mom has been making these Crabmeat Squares for as long as I can remember. She used to make them for Card Club., the group of neighborhood ladies who took turns hosting card playing night once a month - with card playing pretty much meaning eating and gossiping! There was some card playing, too, and the whole event usually went on until 1 or 2 am on a school night! My brother and I loved card party night because we liked sampling the snacks and then eating the leftover snacks plus yummy candies appeared in the candy bowls. My dad disliked card night because it was on a work night and, as you might expect, a dozen ladies chatting & laughing could get quite loud so he never got much sleep. 
That was back in the 70's and 80's before everyone wanted whole grains and gluten free and low carb and fake meat. This recipe is not remotely healthy. It's white bread, toasted, and covered with a mixture of canned crab, butter, and Velveeta cheese. It's sooo good. Mom makes them once a year, at the holidays. This Thanksgiving, she gave us 16 of these delights and we devoured them. 
I know, they're technically Crab Rectangles, not Crab Squares! These are nice because they can be made ahead of time, frozen, and go right from the freezer to the oven.

Mom's Crabmeat Squares (Rectangles)

¼ lb butter
¼ lb Velveeta
4 oz crabmeat (frozen or fresh or canned)
Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Sliced Bread, about 13 slices

Melt together the butter, Velveeta. Add crab. Cut bread slices in half. Put under broiler and toast until hard, not brown. Remove and cut off crusts. Put crab mixture on bread halves and freeze.

Bake 375 for about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

We've made these cookies many times but not in a long time. I'm not sure why because we really like charry and chocolate together. We also like that this recipe used dried cherries, not maraschino cherries. I can't remember the recipe source, but I think I cut it out from an ad for one of the ingredients like the M&M Shortbread Cookies we bake.

These are easy to make. The hardest/most time consuming part is chopping the dried cherries. Also chopping the chocolate, but we "cheated" and used regular chocolate chips.
The dough was pretty crumbly and SP had to use his hands to get it smoothly smushed together before adding the cherries & chocolate. These are just as delicious as we remember. Chewy bits of dried cherry and chunks of chocolate - yum!

Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries
  • 1 ounce bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup) 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 

Drizzle :

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon shortening

Our Notes:

  • We use chocolate chips.
  • We don't dip a glass in sugar, we just flatten.
  • We do not do drizzle chocolate on top. We found that it just flaked off when we bit into the cookie.

Mix butter, sugar and almond extract thoroughly using an electric mixer. Gradually blend in flour and corn starch. Add cherries and chocolate. Form into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Pour sugar on a small plate; dip bottom of drinking glass in sugar and gently press down on each cookie to flatten. Bake in a preheated 300 degrees F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until bottoms begin to brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For drizzle: Place 2 ounces chocolate and shortening in a small resealable plastic bag. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Snip off corner and drizzle over cookies.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Spiced Citrus Chicken

We tried another recipe from Cook's Country Dec-Jan 2021. This time, we made Spiced Citrus Chicken Breasts for dinner. These are yummy! Also quick and easy.
Season the breasts with cinnamon, cumin, salt, and pepper. Dredge in flour. Saute in olive oil. Drizzle a citrus-shallot dressing on top. We served ours with rice and steamed broccoli.
Some of our breasts had more cinnamon-cumin than others. Since I ate the less seasoned ones, I enjoyed the subtle flavors of cinnamon and cumin. SP liked the more heavily seasoned ones for more spice oomph. We both liked the citrus dressing although we omitted the shallot since raw shallot can really flavor a dressing over time and since my stomach doesn't do well with uncooked shallots, onions, etc. I wouldn't have thought to season chicken with cinnamon and cumin so this is a nice change of pace.

Recipe: Spiced Citrus Chicken


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Our quiet Thanksgiving for two was nice. On Friday we decorated for Christmas. Gosh there's a lot of Christmas stuff and it always takes longer than it should. Like trying to get the garland on the mantle, well not on, but hanging with this kind of clip. We'd get the left side on, then as we were doing the right side, the left would plop off. Or the ends would be up and as we did the middle, one or both ends would plop off. Then the lights on one side were twisted to the back and we had to twist the garland which made it plop off. It took 40 minutes to get the garland up! 

Then assembling the tree took 30 minutes. A tree in 3 pieces with prelit lights. But there was the problem: the entire top section was not lighting up and it took a long time to find the problematic bulb (one had popped out) then we couldn't locate the extra bulbs. Ugh! After that we spent about 2-3 hours hanging ornaments and doing other assorted decorating stuff and then cleaning up.

The other excitement this week: the car. We got an oil change in late Oct. Over the weekend, SP pulled the car out of the garage so he could work on getting the snowblower ready. He found oil puddles under the car. So we assumed it was leaking oil & were angry because of the recent oil change plus the car is only 2.5 years old so it cannot be sick yet! He checked the oil indicator light inside and it said 40%, which didn't make sense for an oil change 1 month ago and given how little we drive. Fortunately, we had another scheduled porch swap with my dad, who also was going to WalMart, so we asked him to get us some oil for the car because SP didn't want to somehow have 0% oil to drive it to the service garage. But when he went to add the oil, the dipstick thingy indicated it was full. 

End result: The service garage said the car is not leaking oil but the person who did the oil change in Oct. made 2 mistakes. One, they didn't reset the oil indicator light. Two, they got oil on the car frame and didn't wipe it up, hence the drips. SP couldn't see that because the car had to be raised up to see the drippy oil residue underneath. All better now. We just need to get some kitty litter to clean up the oil in the garage.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Season 3 of Babylon Berlin (Netflix) and now we anxiously await Season 4. I didn't think the third season was as good as the first two seasons and the ending was a little weird. I had to look it up to understand it! But overall, I still really like the show.
  • We started Season 4 of The Crown (Netflix). We've watched 3 episodes. 
  • Amazing Race (CBS). There were five teams and my least favorite team got eliminated. I don't have high hopes for my favorite team, but we'll see.
  • SEAL Team (CBS) is back! Lots of changes for the team, including Cerberus. 
  • Fargo (FX) Season 4 ended. Finally. The last episode was kind of an epilogue, a where are they now kind of thing. I still think the season was disappointing. 
  • The Undoing (HBO). No spoilers, but I wasn't surprised by the identity of the murderer. 

What I'm Reading:

  • The Sentinel by Lee Child. The latest Jack Reacher book. It was just OK. Lee Child is retiring and turning over the Reacher series to his younger brother to write and this was a joint effort. The plot seemed a little too fantastic for the location. And the book seemed kind of wordy at times, or too focused on fight scenes.
  • All the Old Knives. I really enjoyed Olen Steinhauer's Milo Weaver series so I decided to read the stand alone novels. This one was interesting, but also kind of sad.