Nothing cooking today, though I cooked egg tacos for my breakfast.

I guess if you write a blog, you like to write.  I read somewhere today that we write because we see things and must share them; that’s our job.  I don’t know.  I only know that since I could hold a pencil, I’ve been writing.  For years, it was letters.  Before that, it was poetry and all kinds of intense scribbling that kids seem to need to do.  Now it’s a cooking blog and I’m grateful for it and I’m grateful for you, since you’re reading.  Grateful to the cooking that brings it all together.

Speaking of cooking blogs, I began a new blog this week in response to Emily’s request for a kitchen and pantry list, as well as some recipes suited for cooking for one.  I had been thinking of (and had even staked out a name) another cooking blog for a while, but couldn’t settle on which focus to pursue.  When Emi talked to me about solo cooking, I knew I had my topic.  There aren’t many posts and the first ones deal with kitchen/pantry, of course.   There will be lots of recipes, links to video tutorials, shopping lists and tips, and thoughts on sharing your food.  Less stories and more food.  It’ll grow.  Take a peek, though.  It’s called Dinner Place:  A Blog for Solo Cooks. I’d love emails or comments with recipes/ideas that are great for one person; I’ll blog them if I can.

It’s a nasty-cold night in Colorado, land of temperate winters and beautiful, warming sun any day of the year.  We had a long, warm fall and have had a mostly gentle winter with a few arctic exceptions.   But last night, the banshee moaned and the house creaked hard  while the wind chimes sang and banged on the front deck.  Sometimes, when it gets like that, I make my way out in the dark and put the chimes out of their misery until morning.  We get wind here like nowhere else except Alaska and we get it worse up here on the mesa, where it’s not unusual to get hurricane-force gales that blow the panels out of the ceiling in the bathroom, scaring the shit out of me.  We don’t take showers when the wind is up.  One time, the panels crashed  down into the bathtub while I was at rehearsal, impaling a huge lizard that had, for reasons known only to her, made her way into the bathtub.  I came home and, after taking the dogs out and chilling out myself, decided to strip and jump in the shower.  Ever since then, I’ve had a clear shower curtain.  Make your own movie here, though it must involve a certain amount of Alyce running back and forth, making a lot of noise.

And not only is it frigid (.3 on my thermometer) and blowing, but the coyotes have the fur up on their backs and are crying and chirping down the hill, howling over God knows what.  Something they’ve had for a late night snack, I’m guessing.  The dogs are spooked and I am, too.  After all, I’ve got to take them out for a last pee in the snow.  It’s nothing to have incredible shapes make their way in front of you in the deepest dark on the street here.  Leaves you wondering if it was a bobcat out catting around.  Sometimes I have two or three lounging around in the yard.  40 pounders.  I’m just thoroughly happy it’s too early for the bears, though occasionally they wake early if it’s good weather.  One reason to be thankful for the cold, I guess.

There’s a good reason the Indians didn’t settle here.  Of course, no water was a big clue.

Despite the weather and wildlife, I am managing pretty well  on a snow day near the land I dreamed of when I was young.  My day was full of reading, writing, listening to music, dog snuggling and tennis ball playing,  laundry and playing the piano.  Not always in that order.  Today, the piano and writing won out. Two articles for examiner.   Had to finish Mr. Pettigrew’s Last Stand.    (Lovely British love story) I ate leftovers and skipped cleaning the kitchen.  (Did you read the grilled eggplant-Italian sausage pasta blog?  I had some of that in the freezer.) Don’t you just occasionally look at a clean kitchen and think, “I’m leaving it that way.”? I have sweet neighbors who keep in touch and give me lots of fuzzies and the conversation one needs come cold weather.

As we go through time toward moving, I’m spending more time on hateful things like weeding books and other possessions.  I donated half of my clothes to ARC last week.  What a chore.  I’m vowing to never again let that happen, to keep up better with things I don’t use.  Our closing date is set for mid-March; we’re still working on a schedule for what and who is moving when and how.  We probably will keep our house here, the question being, “For how long?”  First trip will be in the car with the dogs so they and I can stay and do some painting, get Dave’s office ready, and hire someone to repair the living room wood floor where a wood stove has just been removed. I’ll ship my kitchen ahead of time and use that first week or so to decide where the pots, pans, gadgets and Tupperware go.  All this, knowing the closing could fall through (we’re waiting on an appraisal) or be delayed and force us to house shop again. Yuck.

But that leaves me with shrimp stir fry, which is what you came for; didn’t you?  Last week, one day when I was at the north end of town, I stopped in Whole Foods for cheese, chicken broth, yogurt, jicama and Fed Ex blueberries (shipped north from Chile).  They had yummy-looking shrimp on sale for $9.99 a pound and one pound rode home with me while I thought about:

  • Making shrimp po boys.
  • Making shrimp rolls.
  • Making horseradish sauce and eating them boiled in water seasoned with Old Bay.
  • Making spicy shrimp pasta
  • Making shrimp stir fry
  • Making shrimp Cobb salad

Stir fry won.  I NEVER know what I’m doing with stir fry, but Dave assured me I had made my mark (finally) with this potful.   I find if I think of it as just cooking and not Asian cooking, the food is much more tasty.  The original recipe  had just shrimp and sliced green onions, which sounds super, but I had a bunch of veggies wilting.  You can use whatever veg you have or like.  Actually, you can sub chopped boneless chicken thighs; make sure there’s no pink left in them after cooking.

Cook sticky (the cheap stuff) white rice; use a little less water to make sure it holds together.  Leave out the rice if you’re watching carbs; this is a filling meal without the rice. (about 250 calories a cupful)  A pot of tea would go down; we love oolong.  Otherwise, this is a beer meal.  Riesling if you must have wine.

Could this be for Valentine’s Day?  I don’t see why not.  If you have a helper, split the chopping and it’s pretty fast after that.  Get the table and drinks ready before you cook or the food will get cold.

This just sings.

Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry

Make a pot of rice first; it takes longest. While this sounds like a long list of ingredients, the dish comes together very quickly.  Get everything out and/or measured before you begin.              Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

sauce:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teapoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 

stir fry:

1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1 onion, chopped coarsely
1/2 large red pepper, sliced thinly
4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced snow peas in pods
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
 
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup spinach
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon sweet chili sauce (or a good pinch of crushed red pepper)
sprinkle each salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

  • Cilantro sprigs, garnish
  • Fresh Lime, garnish 

Hot rice

 directions:

  1. In wok or in a 12″ deep skillet, heat oil over high heat and add onion through cabbage to the pan.  Cook and stir often until  vegetables are starting to soften a bit.
  2. Meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce (first short list), broth-white pepper.
  3. When vegetables are softened, add sauce, shrimp, spinach, fresh ginger, garlic, and chili sauce or crushed red pepper.  Cook about 3 minutes, stirring often until shrimp are pink and firm. 
  4. Stir in sesame oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve hot on cooked, hot rice, garnished with cilantro and lime.

Two-Dog Kitchen

Around the ‘hood in no special order and rather random to say the least
Worshiped at Shove Chapel last Sunday, always a delight. What an organ.  How hopeful to hear Jacque Franklin pray.  How I hate to think of missing Benjamin Broadbent’s life-changing sermons, though we had a guest seminarian preacher.

Had friends to dinner Saturday for pork loin and oven-roasted root vegetables with a fennel-celery salad that had a fine, fine Parmesan dressing.  Homemade vanilla pudding with a dop of fig jam thinned with lemon juice and Cointreau. Enjoyed a luscious Burgundy imported by Scott Paul in Oregon; they do a famous job of picking the litter of less-expensive French wines.

Shipped a kitchen to Emily, who moved into an apartment. This was no easy feat..fitting it all in two big boxes.  (What’s with these shipping prices? Can you fix that somehow?)

Had a salad lunch at Walter’s with Mary Pat.

Friday we had to get out of the house (long day working at home) and ran over to the new BJ’s Brewery for a very quick meal; they were packed and turning tables. Glad for their business, but we needed to relax and couldn’t because they had such a long line and the server was pushing us through the meal.  So we came home and, by the time we did, home looked a bit more welcoming.   By the way, the food was tasty brewery fare at BJ’s.  They have some inexpensive happy hour specials (like an appetizer pizza you can split) and more draft beer choices than I’ve ever seen.  Perhaps I haven’t looked.

Sunday, I took Saturday’s leftover pork, made bbq sauce and we had bbq pork on Wimberger’s (Bott Ave off 21st St.) rolls for Super Bowl. I also made Raise Your Cholesterol Dip (breakfast sausage, cream cheese and undrained Rotel cooked and served w/ tortilla chips.)

Two things:  Where were the great commercials and did you notice the Packers didn’t appear over the moon about winning, despite the nail-biting ending?  (We’ll leave out the part about learning the words to the national anthem and I guess I was the only one who liked the half-time show.)

We signed a zillion loan, title, etc. papers on all of the red exes and mailed them back to St. Paul.  I bought used, but VERY expensive moving boxes.  If you have some, I’d love to take them off your hands. I kept very few from the last move.

Dave got in a nap or two; what are weekends for?

Sing a new song,
Alyce