Monday, February 28, 2022

50 Things

 I've been meaning to do this forever and a day (and I think I did it back in the day, but that blog is long gone...).  Here's 50 things me. 

1.  I moved around my whole life, and now I'm settled in the Land of Enchantment.  Never leaving.

2.  My family is very small.  I only have 1 brother and 1 cousin.  

3.  My mother emigrated to the U.S. at age 12.  She was born in Poland.

4.  I don't like dresses, and have always been something of a "tomboy".  

5.  I can't walk in heels.  I would break a leg.

6.  I've been married three times.  The last one stuck, and we've been married 17 years.

7.  My paternal grandfather committed suicide when my father was 4 by driving into a tree.  He had bipolar disease and was an alcoholic.

8.  My family once owned a roadhouse in New England called The Nine Owls.  

9.  My favorite colors are jewel tones, purple, emerald, fuschia.  

10.  I rarely get dressed for work, now that I work remotely.  I do have a wide array of comfy pajamas though.

11.  Bras are from hell.  I have always hated being big-breasted, and wish I had done the breast reduction thing a zillion years ago.  Too late now.

12.  I have struggled with mental illness my whole life.  It literally took decades for me to get a proper diagnosis and the right meds.

13.  Horses were the love of my life until I was in my 20s, on my own, and couldn't afford them anymore.  I was an accomplished equestrienne, and often wonder what happened to all the ribbons and trophies I collected along the way.  I honestly can't remember.

14.  I can't do things that require me to do two separate things with my hands, like playing guitar, or piano, that sort of thing.  Oddly, I can type 120 words a minute.

15.  I had cats my whole life until I met second ex, and he had dogs.  I can't imagine life without a dog these days.

16.  Maddie, our Texas Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog/Australian Shepherd mix) is a nut case but the sweetest girl ever.

17.  I have a pastel portrait of our last dog, Ginger, hanging on the wall of our house.  I have no portraits of the cats.  

18.  Mom moved out here a little over a year ago from South Carolina.  I'm still not sure she likes New Mexico, but I know she likes having me around.

19.  Politically, I'm a moderate liberal.  

20.  More about what I believe can be found in the sidebar of the blog.

21.  I used to love cooking, then my OCD got very bad.  I was afraid to cook because I was afraid it would not be perfect.  I didn't cook for 15 years.  In 2020, I got on the right medication for OCD, and it changed my life.  Cooking is my hobby now.

22.  I consider myself a foodie, and love everything food related--restaurants, cookbooks, cooking, etc.

23.  My favorite cuisines are New Mexican, Creole/Cajun, Southern, and anything Asian.

24.  I grew up in Mississippi, and was mostly always embarrassed by that. 

25.  I am an abuse survivor (not from anyone in my family)

26.  I have been agnostic most of my life, but I do pray to something greater than myself.  I'm not big on organized religion.

27.  I hate lima beans, bananas, and mealy apples.

28.  My favorite food is chips and salsa.  I literally could eat it morning, noon, and night.

29.  The weirdest thing I eat, according to my husband, is "raw" eggs (which in the rest of the world, we call soft boiled).  I love a runny yolk.

30.  The weirdest thing HE eats is innards.  Chicken livers, tripe, tongue, etc.  Ugggh, just no.  The only innard related thing I eat is liverwurst, which I have loved since I was a kid. 

31.  I am a re-watcher of movies and re-reader of books.  I find it relaxing and soothing to fall into something I really like.

32.  I hate showers, and avoid them when I can.  I don't like water on my head.  I love baths, and have a garden tub to take them in.  I call it my mini-pool.

33.  I was the editor of my high school yearbook, and I don't own a copy.  It got lost along the way.

34.  I was bullied throughout 6th grade by a boy named Robert, in Connecticut.  It was so bad, I refused to go to school.  He made fun of my Mississippi accent, called me a hick, and dumb, and ignorant.  After that experience, I worked very hard at taming my accent, and most people can figure out I'm from the South, but not where.  I'm OK with that.  I have never forgotten that experience, and it colored much of my insecurities throughout a lot of my life.

35.  I'm not a big fan of jewelry.  I like it on other people, but only wear my wedding rings.  I've even given up earrings.

36.  I have a daughter and 2 grandchildren, a boy and a girl.  We are not close, which is a bummer, but it is what it is.  Divorce sucks.

37.  My favorite vacation ever is a tie between a camping trip in Canyonlands, Utah with ex number 2 and the second trip to Puerto Rico with hubs.  They were both amazing.

38.  I miss my Dad a lot.  Even though he could be a shit, I admired him so much, and know that he loved me.

39.  I am a registered nurse, and have been for 30 years.  I left the bedside after 10 years in ICU/OR, and haven't looked back.  I like being behind the scenes.

40.  My first career was as a technical writer in the nuclear power industry.  Go figure.

41.  My Dad got me the job.

42.  One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped.

43.  I've always wanted to travel to Great Britain, but I doubt that I'll ever make it happen.  The idea of being on a plane for that long just makes me shudder.

44.  The favorite food from my childhood is my mother's potato pancakes.  She calls them "Kartoffelpfannkuchen".

45.  I have a side gig that I work, about 10 hours a week, doing oncology abstraction.  What is that, you might say?  Basically, I go through medical records looking for very specific data points that can't easily be captured without clinical knowledge -- basically, it requires a person, not a computer, to do it.  I can see this being another career avenue for me someday.

46.  I love my house.  This is the first house in all my adult life that I have decorated, and it's so cozy and warm, and it just makes me very happy to look around at all the things we've collected, the photos, and such.

47.  I love to dance, but am not graceful in the least.

48.  I look like my mother, but my personality is my father's, or so I've been told.

49.  I am kind, especially to the elderly.  

50.  I still Ma'am and Sir everyone older than me, or in a position of authority.  You can take the girl out of the South, but it's hard to get the South out of the girl.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Cooking is Fun...And Easy!! Chicken Cutlets with Charred Tomatoes, Onions, and Peppers with Rose Harissa Pine Nuts and Gremolata


Wow, that title is a mouthful, isn't it?!  Don't let the length and number of ingredients scare you....there's not a single thing hard about this recipe.  I will say that it's not quick.  I did this in two stages, because Mom is coming over this afternoon, and I didn't want to be in the kitchen while she was here.  This is the ideal recipe for a lazy Sunday enjoy-zen-cooking kind of day.  I made this in the morning, right up until the point that it goes under the broiler, and then I let it sit, covered, on the range.  When it was time to eat, I finished the dish, while I was frying the cutlets.

I am so excited to be cooking something from my new cookbook, Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s Shelf Love, by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi.  I joined a quarterly box club called Hardcover Cook, and I got this book, along with several of the ingredients required for some of the dishes.  For this recipe, I’ll be using the Belazu rose harissa and the Diaspora Co. nandini coriander that came with the box.  Believe it or not, I had all the rest of these ingredients in my freezer, fridge, and pantry, because that’s how I roll!

The chicken cutlet portion is my idea, since we are inveterate carnivores around here.  The rest is courtesy of OTK.  Remember, if you are using table salt, cut the amount of salt in half.

For the Charred Tomatoes, Onions, and Peppers with Feta and Rose Harissa Pine Nuts

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red onions, sliced from root end down into eighths
1 jalepeno, seeds and stem removed, sliced into 1/2 inch crescents
2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, sliced into 1-1/2 inch x 1-1/2 inch pieces
10 garlic cloves
2 cans of Italian peeled plum tomatoes (2 lb cans), juice discarded, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp nandini coriander seeds
4-1/2 oz cherry tomatoes, left whole
6 oz chunk feta in brine, discard brine, break up into large chunks
1/4  cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon rose harissa or 1/2 tablespoon Tunisian harissa
Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Put 2 tablespoons of oil, the onions, jalapeno, bell peppers and garlic into a half sheet pan, give a good stir to coat everything in the oil.  Roast for about 30 minutes until everything is soft and well charred, stirring every 10 minutes.

Add plum tomatoes, cilantro, coriander seeds and 2-1/2 teaspoons of salt to the roasting pan.  Use the back of a wooden spoon to smash everything together, breaking apart the tomatoes, garlic, and peppers a bit.  Return the pan to the oven for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are completely broken down and the mixture has thickened.   

Remove the pan from the oven, add the cherry tomatoes and feta and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Turn oven up to broil, and broil for 10 minutes.   


Meanwhile, put the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan, and saute the pine nuts until golden, shaking the pan constantly over medium high heat.  This should be take about 3 minutes.  Add the harissa, stir to combine, and take off heat.

Remove charred veggies from the broiler and set aside while you do the cutlets.

For the Chicken Cutlets

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 large chicken breasts or 4 small ones
2-3 tablespoons canola for frying

Put each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap, and place on a cutting board.  Beat with a meat mallet (flat side) until flat and thin.  In a shallow plate, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and smoked paprika.  Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl.  Place bread crumbs in another shallow dish (paper plates work great for the flour mix and bread crumbs).  Dredge breasts in flour, dip in egg, then dredge in bread crumbs.  In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until shimmering.  Saute chicken breasts until golden brown, then flip and do the same.  

For the gremolata:

1/2 cup chopped flat cilantro
Zest of one lemon
3 cloves of garlic, put through a microplaner or minced fine
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix all together in a small bowl until blended.

Put it all together:

To serve—Spoon the veggie mixture onto a warm plate and sprinkle the harissa pine nut mixture of the top.  Place a cutlet next to the veggie mixture, and spoon the gremolata on top of the cutlet.

My mom devoured this.  Well, we did too, lol.  I'm going to take the leftover roasted veg mix and buzz it up to make a dip for crackers.  

Buen Provecho!!

Sunday Stealing--Luna Nina


I say,......and you think...

    Casino ::  Clams

    Bone ::  Broth

    Painting ::  Hans Holbein the Younger

    Shocked ::  Tazer

    Quieter ::  Acoustic music

    Feed ::  Horse

    Song ::  Golden Embers, by Watchhouse

    Glass ::  Houses

    Boat ::  Whale watching

    Junk ::  Yard

    Sheet ::  Music

    Knit ::  Kwizgiver

    Gift ::  Card

    Small ::  Large

    Title ::  Car

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Cooking is Fun...And Easy!! InstantPot Beef Shanks with Grits and Gremolata


Instant Pot Beef Shanks with Grits and Gremolata

First, I apologize for no photos--I had such a good time making this that I forgot to take any, lol.  This is not technically an osso bucco, since that is veal shanks.  I don’t do veal, so I’ve made several changes to Jeffrey Eisner’s great recipe to accommodate the beef, and our tastes.   I had stone ground white grits made already, so I used them as the base of this dish.  You can use mashed potatoes, rice, lightly fried slices of polenta or pasta as well.


3-4 lbs of bone-in beef shanks
1/2 cup of all purpose flour with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper for dredging the shanks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 stock high quality butter (I like Kerrygold)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 in rounds
2 stalks of celery, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
1 white onion, diced
1 cup of red wine (something big like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Old Vine Zinfandel)
1 cup of chicken broth (I use our homemade chicken stock)
1 can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons of triple-concentrated tomato paste or 1 tablespoon of regular tomato paste
2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp of cornstarch + 3 tbsp of cold water, to make a slurry

For the gremolata:

Zest of 1 lemon (discard the lemon itself)
3 cloves garlic, put through a microplaner or crushed
1/2 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)

How To:

Step 1.      Put flour in a large shallow dish, and add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, stir.  Dredge beef shanks in the flour mixture and set aside. 

Step 2.      Add olive oil to InstantPot, hit saute high and allow to heat until oil is shimmering.  Then, in batches, lightly sear the shanks on each side, removing them to a plate when done.  Next, add butter to the InstantPot and scrape up the bits stuck to the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Add onion, carrot, and celery to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.

Step 3.      Pour in the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pot (that’s called deglazing, BTW) with your spoon.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, and the bay leave and 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal salt.  Stir everything together, then add beef shanks.  Hit cancel then place the lid on the InstantPot.  Hit pressure cook high and set for 20 minutes.

Step 4.      Make the gremolata by finely chopping the parsley and mixing well with the garlic, oil, salt and lemon zest. 

Step 5.      When pressure cooking is complete, allow a natural release for 10 minutes.  That means you do nothing for 10 minutes and then quick release the InstantPot.  Remove your shanks to a plate and discard the bay leaf.

Step 6.       Hit cancel, then hit saute high.   Whisk 3 tablespoons of corn starch into COLD water to make a slurry.  Once the liquid in the InstantPot starts to bubble, add the corn starch slurry.  Let it bubble for another minute, then hit cancel.  As the sauce starts to cool, it will thicken.

Step 7.      Serve the shanks over grits.  Pour the sauce over, and lastly, put a dollop of gremolata on top.

This came out so good, we devoured all of it. 

Buen Provecho!!

Saturday 9--Cruella De Vil

Join us every Saturday here.

Saturday 9: Cruella de Vil (1961)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In the original animated 101 Dalmations, this song is written by Roger, who gets his best ideas at the piano. Where do you feel most creative?

In the kitchen.  I love cooking dishes from other countries—I find it creative to take a dish, adapt it for our tastes, and really enjoy blogging my recipes.   I especially love using my InstantPot and our new InstantPot Vortex Pro air fryer—stay tuned for dishes that are air fryer centric!

2) His piano is tucked away in a crowded attic. Does your home have an attic? If so, what do you keep up there?

Our garage has an attic, however, we don’t use it.  It doesn’t have a ladder and is not vented for the kind of heat we have here in NM, so it gets crazy hot up there.  I don’t want to have so much stuff that I need yet another place to store it, so it’s a good thing.

3) The inspiration for this song is his wife's old school chum, the very wealthy and very mean Cruella de Vil. Have you ever found you couldn't stand one of your spouse's or lover's friends?

My first ex had this pothead friend that I couldn’t stand.  He was a bad influence on first ex, and dumb as a box of hair.   

Image Credit
4) Make no mistake, Cruella is a very bad lady. The American Film Institute named her #38 on their 100 Greatest Villains list. Tell us another nasty movie character who comes to mind.

Patrick Bateman, from the movie American Psycho, based on the book by the same name written by Bret Easton Ellis.  In the movie, he's played by Christian Bale, and he's just a nasty, nasty guy.  

5) Cruella wanted to skin sweet little Dalmation puppies and make a coat. (We told you she was bad.) As winter wears on, could you use a new coat (though not one made from puppy fur!)?

I actually had to buy a new coat just last week.  The zipper on my previous coat bit the dust.  I bought a pretty silvery-gray puffer coat from Lane Bryant that I love!

6) This song was written by Mel Leven, who did both words and music. Do you think you'd be more successful as a lyricist (words) or composer (music)?

Definitely a word girl.  I’ll take lyricist.

7) 1961 was a big year for Disney. In addition to this animated movie, they had a hit with The Parent Trap, about twins who are reunited at summer camp. Approx. 1 in every 250 births results in twins. Are there any twins in your family?

None that I’m aware of. 

8) Also in 1961, IBM introduced the Selectric typewriter. Amazon and Walmart both still sell typewriters. Do you own one?

I don’t, but I have a lovely mechanical keyboard (a Das Keyboard S) that is pretty much a standalone Selectric keyboard.  Nice and clicky, with the sort of rounded, indent-in-the-top keys I learned to type on.  It’s indestructible, and I LOVE it.

9) Random question: When is the last time you took a nap?

Yesterday.  Every other day we walk Maddie during my lunch hour, and on the off days, I take a bath and a 30 minute nap.  Working remotely has its perks.