What Did I Have for Dinner Tonight?

December 5, 2020

I made another dish from Diane Seed’s The Top 100 Pasta Sauces (repeat Germane Amazon Link) book. This was the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (literally, “Whore’s Spaghetti”). The story is that after a long evening of work, the sex workers in Italy would just throw whatever was in their larder together to make dinner, or they wanted an easy sauce to make between clients, or that they begged nearby restaurants for whatever cast off ingredients they had, etc., and that’s how the sauce got its name. There aren’t really any sources to back this up, however.

It is a pretty good sauce, though. The recipe is basically just tomatoes, olives, and capers. Some, such as the one in Seed’s book, include garlic, others include red pepper flakes, and some include both garlic and red pepper flakes.

I know that the image isn’t centered in the ellipse. I decided at the last minute that I needed a photo of the dish and didn’t have the time or energy to clean off my counter. So I cropped as much clutter as I could in Paint.Net and then used the ellipse display to cut out the rest of it. Hopefully when I tackle cheap knockoff Chicken Lo Mein later this week I’ll think ahead more.

Now, I’m not really a foodie or anything. I don’t even know how much really hard core cooking I’ll do in the future. So I didn’t want to buy a jar of anchovies or a whole head of garlic or anything that might go bad.

As a result, I ended up using garlic powder and anchovy paste. I did buy the capers, though, and Seed’s recipe called for more than half the jar. I ended up putting just about half the jar in, so that I would have half a jar for a second batch if I liked it. I already had the olives from when I made pasta salad earlier in the week. I’m not really sure what the capers added to the pasta, but the olives were tasty.

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

November 30, 2020 2 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

Tonight’s dinner is going to be a pretty short one, probably. Tonight we’re having what Alex and I refer to as “Election Night Chicken.”

Back in the early 2000s, I worked as an election clerk. It was pretty good money for one day’s work. I’d work the entire time, from 7 am until the last voter left and we’d packed everything up, so maybe 12.5, 13 hours. At $10 per hour, that was pretty good for one day. I also got to know a lot of my neighbors that way, which was nice.

I didn’t take a lunch hour those days, more like a lunch long break. I’d buy chicken legs and stick them in the freezer. Then, the day before Election Day, I’d stick them in the refrigerator to thaw most of the way through, and then at noon, I’d run home, throw the chicken and 1/3 of a cup of Liquid Smoke into the Crock Pot (I can use the brand names for both because I was using the brand names of both), set it on low, then go back to the election.

At about 6 pm, Alex would start checking the temperature, and when it hit 165, he’d turn it down to warm, and wait for me to come home.

After a while, Alex decided it needed a name so that we didn’t have to keep calling it “chicken in the Crock Pot with Liquid Smoke.” I believe the recipe I stole this from was originally called something like “Faux Barbecued Chicken” and was more complicated than we made it, but since we pared it down to just the Liquid Smoke and the chicken, we decided to just call it Election Night Chicken, since we had it on, well, Election Night.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. I though we were getting close to the end of the Discworld books, but it looks like we’ll still be there for a while. I do have a break from them today, though. Our book right now is Generation Why, the second Ms. Marvel compilation by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona.

About To Hither and Yon

November 28, 2020 2 of 8

At the beginning of November I said that I wanted to write one perfect introductory blog post that I could pay Facebook to promote and see if I could grow my audience.

This is that post. Or the first draft of it, at any rate.

My “name” is Olivia (not my real name, but I hate my real name, so why not take a pseudonym, right?). Olivia actually in some way relates to my real name, but . . . anyway.

The original plan for this blog was to blog about travel. Places I’d been, places I wanted to go, places I was when I wrote specific posts. I’d post my favorite pictures from each location and then monetize it with a goal of making my hobby of travel self-perpetuating. Travel -> post -> cash check -> do more travel.

It has never quite gotten to that point. At first, I didn’t want this blog to look like a *total* cash grab, so I held off on attempting to monetize it. Then, I began posting Amazon Associates links (if I can’t find a book germane to the topic, I refer to it as a “Gratuitous Amazon Link”). By the time I felt comfortable enough to think about putting ads on the pages, Google had canceled my ads account from lack of activity.

So now I just have the Amazon Links, which are not exactly making the dough roll in.

Since I haven’t been able to use this to do the travel I needed to make content for the blog, my focus has broadened. First, I added book blogging, which seemed to be a good fit with the attempted monetization through Amazon. Then I began talking about a project I’m starting where I will be working my way through my cookbooks. That is still book related, but also cooking-related, so there’s that.

And, occasionally, I post about my life and what’s going on in it. I spent November doing what’s called National Novel Writing Month, where you attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done better this year than in any year before, but I’m not likely to actually reach 50,000. In order to hit that point, I’ve started talking about medical topics and also Internet content creators that I enjoy (kind of like book blogging, but with YouTube). I don’t know if those will stick around after November.

So, since I’ve talked about the Gratuitous Amazon Link in the text above, here’s one so you can see how it works. I guess that since this is not in the regular continuity of the blog, I will go outside the continuity of my Gratuitous Amazon Links for ideas. What book have I given the highest rating to on my Goodreads page and that I absolutely love? Hm. Let’s go with No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, the first compilation of the adventures of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. I’ve loved comics since 1974 and this series is especially wonderful.

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

November 24, 2020 2 of 8

Diane Seed’s The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces book has a stripped-down version of Spaghetti Vesuvio that is just canned tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, salt, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Me being me, of course, I stripped it down farther, into canned tomato sauce with garlic, oregano, and basil, and Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

I also don’t really like Parmesan cheese. All I can taste and smell is the butyric acid, and the less said about that in a food post, the better. However, the sauce tastes flat without it, so I put the smallest amount of Parmesan cheese that will make the sauce more interesting (a little less than 1 tablespoon) directly into the sauce.

The recipe also says that you are to leave cubes of the mozzarella cheese in the pot with the pasta for three minutes until it starts to melt. This makes it resemble lava and gives the dish its name. I tried that, and every time I tried, my pot must not have been hot enough or something, because I still had unmelted chunks of cheese. So instead, I started topping the spaghetti with shredded mozzarella. It lacks something in terms of presentation, but it’s delicious, which is all we need here.

When I started this going through my cookbooks project, I noticed that this book lacks a recipe for Amatriciana sauce, which must have been the 101st top sauce and didn’t make the cut, I guess? I am going to try to dig up a recipe for that to make someday, but not, like, now. I’ve still got too many cookbooks to pore through.

What Are We Having for Dinner Tonight?

November 25, 2020 1 of 8

Alex and I had Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

The story was a little more complex than that. Today is the day before US Thanksgiving and my store was kind of a mess. Things were relatively calm in the pharmacy, but outside the pharmacy? Eek.

So I took a quick break to get some dessert for tomorrow (more on that, well, tomorrow). My coworker rang me up so that I could avoid the lines. However, as I was leaving the store, I realized that I didn’t know what we were going to have for dinner tonight.

I figured that I could pick up one thing really fast and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. I So I swung through the frozen foods department and I remembered that I have two Michael Angelo’s frozen dinners — baked ziti with meatballs and chicken piccata.

So when I came home, I suggested that to Alex, who still feels under the weather. He wasn’t crazy about that idea, so in desperation, I suggested Macaroni and Cheese. He liked that idea, so that’s what we had.

Alex is going to move out in another week or so, and so soon my “What Am I Having for Dinner Tonight” posts will be returning to going through my cookbooks.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, let’s see what we have: Eric, by Terry Pratchett. This is the 9th Discworld book and it features Rincewind.

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

November 20, 2020 1 of 8

I only have ten days left in the month. I’ve beaten my previous record of, like, 15,000 words. Will I make it to 50,000, though? I doubt it, but let’s try.

There’s a dish in the United States called “Cininnati Chili.” It’s not really chili, per se, as it has its root in the Mediterranean and not in South Texas. I wish I’d known that earlier. Oh, well, that’s all in the past.

Cincinnati Chili can be served several ways. And they are called just that — ways. Basically, you put the chili on top of spaghetti and then you can add cheese. Then you can add beans and/or onions on top.

Just before I moved down here (Thomas had been here for a month — Alex wasn’t born yet), I went out with a friend and some of her friends. One of her friends said that we had to try Wolf Chili when I got here. So we did, and boy was he right. It was excellent. It’s got a spicy, peppery flavor, but also has a very strong flavor of cumin. Yum!

Inspired kinda by Cincinnati Chili and kinda by using up leftover chili in “chili mac,” we used to use the Wolf chili almost as a kind of pasta sauce. We then decided to add cheese, and I ended up adding dark red kidney beans, too. So now we have what is more or less “four way” Cincinnati Chili with elbow macaroni instead of spaghetti and, of course, Wolf Chili.

Alex turned out to be either a regular taster who has a low tolerance for spice or a supertaster (which is odd, since I’m a nontaster), so he ended up having this dinner (which we just called “chili mac”) without the chili — just the pasta, beans, and cheese.

When Thomas left, I knew that half of the can of chili would’ve gone to waste if I kept up that recipe, so I just dropped it out and we made chili mac Alex-style into one of our dinners. We sat down and decided to dub it “macaroni, beans, and cheese.” We thought that putting “macaroni” and “cheese” next to each other would be confusing.

Macaroni, beans, and cheese has long been one of Alex’s favorite dinners and a staple in our diet.

And that’s what we had for dinner tonight.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’re beginning a Discworld run. I sat down and read, like, the first 22 Discworld books pretty much right in a row. Then I burned out and haven’t been back since. I’ll tackle the rest someday. For now, though, we have the epic fantasy parody novel that started it all, The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett.

My First Attempt at Roast Duck — An Ongoing Commentary

November 26, 2020 3 of 8

I started this post, then realized I couldn’t remember if this was my third or fourth post for today. So I went to my All Posts page and found that somehow all of my upcoming posts are out of order.

So I spent a while straightening that out (I’m still not done, but it’s a start) and now I’m ready to make my duck.

I just realized that I haven’t showered yet today. Crap. It’s almost 4 pm. Well, I’ll probably get sweaty making the duck, so I’ll shower afterwards.

First, I’m heating the oven to 350, which seems to be the accepted temperature for roast duck. I’m going to take the duck out of the fridge, pull the innards out,and then put them in a container for Evelyn’s dogs.

The duck is in the oven. I put some of the skin and also the fat that I pulled out while removing the innards. I’m going to save the fat for another experiment later — french fries cooked in duck fat. More on that later.

Edited to add: I totally forgot the actual first step of this duck — being unable to get the damn package open with my kitchen scissors so I used a big serrated knife which cut right through the orange sauce packet and the orange sauce got all over everything.

I removed the innards, cut off the loose skin and the tail, and ran just a little water into it so that I could see whether I got all of the innards out. I scored the skin on the breast (I missed and nicked the meat the tiniest bit in one place), then sprinkled salt onto the duck and a bit inside the cavity.

Then I stuck it on the vertical roaster thingy, stuck it in the oven, and bleached everything that the duck came close to down twice. I poured pure bleach on it and then a couple of minutes later I used generic Clorox wipes on everything. This may be the germ-free-est my kitchen has been in years.

Not that I go around cooking germy things and then leaving it. It’s just that when I cook poultry, I usually start with it a little more frozen than the duck was so that I can control the spread of the germs a little better, then I have to clean less of the area of the kitchen.

Now we wait.

I just salvaged my first bit of duck fat and I don’t know if I’m going to get enough to make it worth our while to try to make french fries. I guess we’ll see. It has, after all, only been about 15 minutes. I also realized that I forgot to put foil down on the pan before putting the duck on it.

So that’s going to be fun to clean later.

It’s 4:30 and my duck has been cooking for half an hour. Still somewhere between one and three hours (!) to go.

Really, if this turns out halfway edible, I may do this more in the future. I wish I could’ve found my actual roasting pan. I ended up doing this on a cookie sheet, which makes it kind of hard to get the fat off the pan. Instead of my turkey baster, I ended up just using a very large spoon.

It’s 4:50 and the kitchen is getting a little smoky from the drippings burning in the oven. I put the exhaust fan on medium. Let’s hope it doesn’t set off the smoke alarm in the house. It probably won’t, because it is just a little smoky. But I’m still kind of concerned.

It’s 5:20 and I just checked the temperature of the duck. It’s 160 degrees!?! I really worry that my meat thermometer is off.

I just took it out of the oven and it sure looks cooked from the outside.

It’s 5:30 and I just took it out and flipped it onto its back (a challenging proposition, given how hot it was and the fact that it was on a vertical roasting stand thing). I saw some red inside and so I checked the temperature again at the . . . hip? and it was only 145 degrees. So back into the oven it goes for a while longer.

But it’s getting there.

At 5:45, the temperature at the hip joint was 160 degrees and the liquid that came out when I poked it was just a little pink. We’re getting close to finding out if this is my dinner or the coyotes’.

At 6:00, I checked the temperature again. The hip was still 160 but the breast was 180. I figured that averages out to 170 and should be close enough. It’s just about done resting and soon we’ll see.

It’s done. Well, some of the parts are pinker that I’d hoped, and I don’t know if I’d pay money for this from a Czech restaurant, but it’s poultry, and it’s edible. I don’t think my Czech ancestors are turning over in their graves, for whatever that’s worth.

Oh, and I’ve completely forgotten how to cut poultry up neatly. I basically have chunks of duck, some with bones still in them (legs, wings) and others boneless.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

And the night before that . . . and the night before *that* . . . .

November 19, 2020 1 of 8

Okay, so my back is all better (I think) so I’m trying to get back into the swing of posting.

As you would recall if these entries were anything like sequential, my back was out of shape on Tuesday. When I came home from work, I saw that Alex had a friend over to help with Alex’s van. So, trying to be generous (and also in order to get dinner under way and go lie down to relax my back), I pulled up the Subway app on my phone (I don’t have any other restaurant apps on my phone — I guess I should get the Popeye’s app one of these days, since I’m a shareholder and all).

I tried to order from the store closest to me and got a message saying that the location wasn’t found. Then I tried the one second-closest, and all I could see was, like, deals. I couldn’t just order a damn sandwich. When I finally got that to go away, the app said that location couldn’t be found, either.

So I tried the one in the Walmart that’s not terribly far from here, and would be easier for Alex to find than some of the others. I got my sandwich set up and, knowing what Alex’s standard order is, I started on that, and, guess what? It said that that location couldn’t be found.

So I went and told Alex that I would’ve ordered sandwiches for the three of us if the app worked, and he said that he’d be happy to go and order and pick up the sandwiches. So I left my debit card for him and went to lie down.

So I got my standard order, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, provolone cheese, and extra olives. I asked Alex to get it on Italian bread, but he misunderstood and got the Italian herb bread with cheese, which actually was pretty good. The ends of the bread were slightly crunchy with leaves and twigs, but overall, it was edible.

So that’s Tuesday.

Wednesday, I forgot about the food that I ended up eating today (spoiler!), so I ate an HEB frozen dinner of curried lentils. Now, I doubt that the cooking of this recipe is overseen by, like, Muhammad Patel* or anything. It’s probably more Indian-inspired than anything, but it’s still one of my favorite frozen dinners.

Then tonight I had the dinner that I should’ve had last night when my back was already in pretty good shape. For Black Friday, 2019, I got a George Foreman panini maker. I haven’t made any panini on it, yet, but it makes a mean quesadilla.

And so that’s what I had tonight. I took the leftover white-girl taco meat, and tortillas and put cheddar cheese in it and then cooked it until it was *just* starting to get crunchy. I liked that one so much I made another.

I still have meat left. Maybe I’ll have that for a snack later.

And now, for our Gratuitous Amazon Link, we have the middle of a six-book series, and one of my favorite kidlit/ya series ever, Gallagher Girls, book 4, Only the Good Spy Young, by Ally Carter.

*Muhammad is the most common boy’s name in India in 2019 and, yes, I feasibility checked this combination.

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

November 16, 2020 2 of 8

Is this my second post for today? It seems like there should be more, but yeah. I think it is.

Dinner tonight was white-girl tacos. This is not as sexy as it sounds. It’s just that the cheese is wrong and the seasonings came from a packet. The tortillas were also flour, and not corn, but a lot of Latin@ people buy the flour tortillas, so I’ll pretend like they’re authentic.

I browned the ground beef (neither Alex nor I like fatty food, so I get the ultra-lean ground beef) then added just a tablespoon of the seasoning (Alex doesn’t like spicy food). I warmed up the tortillas in a warm (not hot!) oven, then put meat, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped tomatoes on, in that order. Putting the cheese right on top of the meat makes the cheese melty and good.

No, we don’t put lettuce on our tacos. It’s pretty much the only thing we’d use iceberg lettuce for, so I leave it in the store and save it for someone who’d appreciate it.

It’s not authentic, but it tastes good, it has all four old-school food groups in it, and a pound of extra lean ground beef will leave enough left over for me to make a couple of white-girl quesadillas later in the week.

Wow. Even though I haven’t done much writing today (I’ve gotten a pretty good deal of reading done and also went out and got my fingerprints done for my pharmacy technician license renewal), I’m still pretty punchy. Instead of searching for “Calamity, Sanderson,” like I usually do when searching for my Gratuitous Amazon Link, I typed “Calamity in:inbox” like I usually do when trying to eliminate some of the crap in my email.

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

November 14, 2020 2 of 8

This isn’t a recipe as such, but I’m hard up for words today, so . . .

Most of my meals are pretty basic. When Thomas and I split up, I pared down most of my meals to the bare basics because neither Alex nor I wanted the extra stuff.

I mostly said that for the wordcount, because I’m pretty sure this meal is the same now as it was back then. If I remember differently, I’ll edit this post later.

When I was little, the only fish my mom made was perch. She’d get these blocks of frozen perch at the store and we’d thaw them, pry them apart into individual fillets, brush them with lemon butter, and broil them. I believe we served this with French fries.

When I started getting older, my mom decided to start trying new kinds of fish. We tried halibut, turbot, orange roughy, salmon, sole, and other kinds of fish. Just fresh from the seafood counter at the store. And we’d cook it pretty much like we had the perch — lemon butter and broil The halibut, orange roughy, and salmon were the ones that did the best with that approach.

When I started dating Thomas, he swore that the only kind of fish he liked was frozen, breaded fish sticks. After several months, I got him to have fish with my folks and me on fish night (which was usually Friday, though we aren’t Catholic. If I could explain my mom . . . .) and he really liked the fish.

So when we got married, we made halibut and salmon. Then when we moved to Texas, something happened to the halibut. It was no longer firm and flaky but kind of mealy. So, so much for halibut. Now we were just down to salmon.

We decided that the salmon needed a side dish and somehow decided on the Pasta Roni Angel Hair with Herbs.

This is now Alex’s favorite dinner, and so I pick up salmon pretty regularly. And that’s what we had for dinner tonight.

A couple of posts ago, I started on the The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. Well, tonight is the second book, Her Dark Curiosity, which is an adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.