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dinner dollars

Saturday, November 27, 2010

turkey, 15lb                   $3.31
injectable marinade        $4.49
turkey oven bag             $1.79
mustard greens            $11.12
smoked ham hocks         $3.18
onions                          $0.70
yellow corn meal            $0.97
green bell pepper           $0.64
celery                           $0.94
baking powder               $1.32
chicken broth (3 cans)     $1.50
eggs (dozen)                 $1.58
sweet potatoes              $0.61
margarine tub                $1.98
jellied cranberry (2 cans) $1.96
dinner rolls (2 packs)      $7.98
pumpkin pie                  $3.99
cherry pie                      $5.99
whipped cream               $1.88

total (tax not included)   $55.93 USD

already had on hand:
vanilla extract
white flour
cookware, dinnerware, etc.

I didn't totally wreck Thanksgiving dinner, but it is rated as "glad we didn't have company." Turkey and mustard greens were just fine. I flubbed the cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole but they were still edible.

adjustments I will make next time:
1.  Do not rub salt on the turkey before roasting. It makes the turkey drippings too salty and can't be used for gravy.
2.  Actually use a recipe for the dressing instead of winging it. Use just a little poultry seasoning or none at all.
3.  Do boil the sweet potatoes instead of baking them. The sogginess from boiling is needed.  Do not put frozen marshmallows on the casserole; they won't "blow" and spread over the top.  Marshmallows need to be either cool or room temperature.
4.  Consider buying smaller baking pans since I'm not making large portions.  The large pans resulted in thin casseroles.

The carcass is currently simmering on the stove to make turkey stock.  Additional veggies for making the stock was less than $6.

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The cooking has commenced.  And I'm already worn.  I baked the cornbread yesterday.  The cornbread dressing is in the oven right now.  The turkey has been injected.  The yams are cooked, ready for me to start on the sweet potato casserole.  Mustard greens and turkey are slated to be cooked tomorrow.

the stray

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It was probably the beginning of the year when I saw the stray dog. I remembered that it was cold. It was morning and I was leaving for work. The trash was out, but he didn't bother the trash. He was thin. He kept walking.

Some weeks later Gumby and I were returning late at night from a gocery shopping trip. It was cold, it had been raining but at this moment there was break in the rain. We saw that stray dog again. He was walking. We got the groceries in and proceeded to get food and water for the stray. We hoped we would see him. We looked down the street but he wasn't there. We left the food out for a little while but brought it back in since it had started to drizzle lightly. The next morning we looked again. Still no stray.

Months later (September?) I saw him again as I came home from morning mass (I was then and still am unemployed). I passed him up on the street on the way to the house; he was walking in the opposite direction. I parked the car in the driveway and got out to look down the street to see if he was there. No sight of him. As I walked in the house, I made a mental prayer to St. Francis and to St. Anthony that if they'd bring him to our yard, I'd take care of him. By that I meant that I'd call an organization to come pick him up so that he could be cared for.

It was trash day and I'd already put out the trash. Gumby reminded me that there were some wood debris from the previous week that I need to move closer to the trash so that it would get picked up. So I went back out to take care of that. Lo and behold, the stray was lying in the shade on the side of the house. Mentally I had pictured him on the front lawn when I did the prayer, not the side of the house. I would have never seen him had I not gone out to pick up the wood debris.

Gumby called the vet who advised us to call the county animal control. They come out the same day and they are a "no kill" shelter. We got two of the disposable leashes (to make one long leash) that we had from the numerous visits to the vet over the years. I tied him to the gas meter pipe on the side of the house, in the shade. We gave him a little food and water. He was extremely emaciated, had a severe case of mange, and other problems that made it difficult for me to determine that it was a male dog. A red nylong collar hung loosely around his neck. He didn't eat right away but when I checked on him later, all the food was gone.

I wasn't there when the county came to pick him up. They said whatever happens, it would be more humane than having the dog wander in the street and having to fend for himself.

Anyhow, that's my St. Francis/St. Anthony story.

two movies

Old news. I just forgot to post. We saw the movies Secretariat and For Colored Girls.
Secretariat is fun, family-friendly.
For Colored Girls is raw and poetic. As such, it will likely not win awards. However, I do believe the Academy will want to recognize it. Maybe it will win in the category for movie adaptation of a book.

doggie cot is working fine

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I slowed down on the projects around the house. Partly because I'm tired, partly because the funds just aren't there, and partly because the weather doesn't permit much working outdoors. I washed the outside of some of the windows today. Only the windows in the back got washed. I started late afternoon, having ran errands earlier in the day; then I quit when it got dark.

The cot I made for doggie is working okay. The fabric stretched somewhat, resulting in sagging. After he had used it for approximately a week, I attempted to remedy the sag. I took the stitches out of one long side and stretched the fabric as tight as I could and re-stitched. Since the only thing keeping the fabric tight on the frame is a death grip by my left hand as I stitched with my right, the job had to be done quickly. I re-stitched with giant stitches from craft hell and the job went fast. I've discovered that part of the sagging problem is that the plastic pipes will bend. Oh well. I also think the bolt-on design would be better for taughtness than the sewn design.

Doggie has been using the cot for a while now and those giant stitches are doing just fine. I like that much of the dirt and loose hair that he sheds falls below the cot and he doesn't have to lie or trample in it. Also, when I do mop the crate, I can put the cot right back in and he can go in his crate without having to wait for the crate floor to dry. The cot has gotten dirty from the mud he brings in. I'll scrub and hose it off one day when the weather is good.

Update: 1/13/2011
The cot fabric has stretched tremendously. Also, the dog has managed to tear the fabric with his scratching. There is now a large hole in the cot. I am now in search of Dacron fabric locally. At least for the moment I'm thinking Dacron.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Yesterday was Gumby's birthday. I took it upon myself to bake half a cake. I mean, how difficult can it be? I found a recipe that I can halve and it went okay. However, I don't have half of a 9x13 pan. I have a loaf pan. The cake didn't rise much and I do believe it got overcooked. Undaunted, I cut it in half: it will be a two-layer cake.

Then came the frosting. I could not believe how unhealthy the frosting is: loaded with butter and sugar. I couldn't find the sticks of butter I though I had; they must have expired and gotten thrown out. I didn't want to use shortening (Crisco). So I opted for a recipe that used only egg, sugar, and corn syrup. I don't know why we have corn syrup, but we do. I don't have a double boiler, so I used a smaller pot that I put into a larger pot. Our mixer is a hand-held one, so it worked okay. After more the seven minutes of beating that the recipe estimated, I still did not have stiff peaks. Worried, I put in a little cream of tartar. The last step was to add the vanilla extract. Oops, I spilled the extract into the frosting; no telling how much is in there. Oh well, mix it up anyways.

Then I piled it onto the "cake." Fortunately it did stick to the cake and not run. It wasn't pretty. After I finished frosting, I tasted the frosting. It was like marshmallow. I set the cake aside and started the clean up (lots of clean up when you're baking). To add to the comedy, during the clean up, I knocked over a tray that had small packets of condiments and a bulb of garlic. The garlic bulb fell onto a side of the cake.  I picked the garlic out and patched up the icing, but there's a chance some of the garlic papery shell is still there.

Gumby was game and tasted the cake. Gumby was okay with it, and liked the "fun" marshmallowy icing. Cake is almost gone (it was half a cake).

by the Grace of God

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Now that I am unemployed, I have time to cook. It's been a while since I did such a thing. Lately "cooking" and "disaster" has been synonymous for me. Yesterday was a bad day. I made beef stew in the slow cooker, but misread the directions and had the cooker set on "high" instead of "low." It cooked for maybe six hours before I realized the mistake.

Then I made cornbread to go with it, but I think I was once again a victim of shortening that had gone bad. The only time I use shortening is to make cornbread. About the only time I make cornbread is to make cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. I can't think too far back, but I know we've been out of town for Thanksgiving the past two years. It's likely that the shortening is several years old. I had baked a cake before with vegetable oil that apparently went bad. I didn't know that cooking oil can go bad. We don't cook much, so cooking stuff may sit on the shelves for several years.

Cooking is supposed to save money compared to take-out food, but it doesn't save money if the food ends up being inedible. The beef stew was ok to eat, it was overcooked but tasted fine. I re-did the cornbread this morning and Gumby was so enticed by the smell of cornbread that Gumby had beef stew for breakfast.

What was really bad about yesterday was that I caused an "almost accident" due to a lapse in good judgment while driving. I try to live my life without regrets, but I sure regret that moment of stupidity. It was only by the Grace of God that no collision occurred. It made me think about our need for God's Grace. We are like little children living this life. We're not very good at it, and like 3-year olds pouring milk from a large carton, we need some help. Our judgment is far from perfect, and God comes along and sometimes He helps prevent the mess; other times He helps us clean up the mess. Sometimes he keeps us from hurting ourselves; other times He soothes the injury. I thank God that He prevented the "big mess" of an auto accident yesterday, and apologize to all the drivers around me at that moment. I pray that God bless them all.
I thank God that the stew was still edible. All good things come from God.

red light cameras voted out

Looky there.  People have voted against having red light cameras, which were installed to improve safety for all on the roads.  What is the reason for the rejection of these cameras?  They think it's a scam, that there are mistakes, falsehoods--however you view it--regarding whether a driver actually ran the red light.  So they voted them out.

Now compare that to the death penalty:  sometimes it's a scam (prosecutorial misconduct), sometimes it's a mistake (wrong person convicted) and it costs money. But Texans like to hang on to their death penalty. Texas takes pride in killing off criminals in the name of justice. It would take an act of God before Texas will give up captial punishment.

That's just messed up.