The Accidental Meatloaf

It all started because there was a big sale on hamburger last week at the local grocery store. At $0.99 a pound I stocked up – since I’m a starving freelance writer and all… Anywhoo – I get it home and man, did I buy a lot and I started wondering what the heck I was going to do with all of it. A person can only eat so many lettuce wrapped hamburgers after all.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I’d do some meatloaf. I’d make a lot and give some to Zelda who couldn’t cook her way out of a water boiling contest and maybe even roomie if he wasn’t a shit for a few days. So..it all settled nicely in my mind and I forgot about it.

Then one day the urge for meatloaf rang through my head on a particularly overcast and gloomy day. Love to cook when the weather is sad. So I pulled out a good chunk of hamburger to thaw in the morning. Well, bite me and slap me on the fanny when I was ready to make the darn stuff, I didn’t have the usual accroutements that I throw in there. In fact, I had precious little to make the meatloaf and I was in no mood to go to the store. So, I improvised – worst case scenario the dog would get some yummy treats and I’d have a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter for dinner.

To my utter shock and amazement, it turned out to be the best meatloaf I ever made and I make some awesome meatloaf. So… I share the recipe with you. Try it, you’ll love it.

1 big old hunk of ground beef

1 large egg

3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

8 ounces of tomato sauce

4 tablespoons of 1/2 & 1/2 or blue cheese dressing if you’re out of cream

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

2 stalks finely minced celery

1/2 small minced brown onion

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, using your hands – making sure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Form into a loaf and bake in a loaf pan (or whatever you normally use) in a 400 degree oven for 1.25 – 1.5 hours. Let rest for ten minutes before slicing.

I’m telling you folks, this is super yummy and I really regretted giving any of it away. In fact, I’m making another one right now.

Oooh and while we’re on the topic – I have great recipe for beet greens. Yup, that’s right beet greens. While it may be no suprise to some of you – I had no idea you could eat beet greens. I had grown some beets in my garden which I had pulled and made but had all the tops left. I happened to check to see if there was a recipe to make them and found a really super one.

Mess of beet greens, double cleaned, dried and torn into bite size pieces (including stems)

8 slices of bacon – the smokier the better

1/4 onion – chopped fine

1 tsp butter

2 TBS apple cider vinegar

2 TBS sugar (or splenda if you can’t have sugar)

Cook the bacon until it is 2/3 cooked, toss in chopped onion, if not enough bacon fat, add a little bit of butter, cook until onions are soft, slowly add in the greens, turning to wilt them – keep doing this until you’ve gotten all the greens in there and sauteed to a nice wilt with the leaves still a pretty bright green. Remove to a bowl. Add vinegar and sugar to the pan (turn off heat) and stir mixture into remaining juices in pan, once mixed, return the greens to pan and turn and toss until coated with the vinegar/sugar mixture. Serve immediately. Delish! Try it. BTW, the stems should be included as well, when cooked they have a wonderful beety flavor.

Okay, so this concludes our cooking class for today. 😉 WC

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Is Nature Telling Us Something?

This was sent to me by my pal, Jenny. I found it really fascinating – it could very well be that nature does mimic the human body and connect to it more than we realize. WC

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye…and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, Avocadoes and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? …. It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemica l cons tituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well, to overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, Oranges, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today’s research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.

No wonder they are always on us to eat our fruits and veggies. 😉

Mystery Melon Theatre

Okay, so I think I have a handle on the type of melon I’m growing now. I’m pretty sure it’s a cantaloupe. In the last couple of days it’s developed netting over the skin and it sure does look like a cantaloupe.

It’s about 3.5 inches in diameter and it’s heavy – can’t really say how much it weighs maybe 2-3 lbs? I post the pictures for your perusal and theories. Wow, isn’t this exciting?

On the second shot you can almost see the second melon – just below and to the left that is also rapidly growing into an adult melon. Cripes, wouldn’t it be funny if it was just a mutant cucumber or something?

I’ve cut the foilage back an awful lot (maybe too much) and I’m a little worried that it will wither and die because I shouldn’t do that but I can’t let it take over the whole garden, so I’m taking my chances. I’ve also trained it to start climbing the bungee cords that are attached to the wall, so maybe I’ll get a sort of lantern effect with little melon globes climbing upwards. Though I don’t know…do melons get traumatized if they can’t lay on the ground and they are swinging from a bungee cord in mid-air instead? Crap I may have to pay for therapy for these puppies.

Again this thing is growing in leaps and bounds, it has just about doubled in size since last week, so it could be a VW Bug by next week. And yeah, I’ve kept the vines away from my window, lest it creep into my bedroom whilst I sleep.

WC

Mystery Plant

As some of you may know, I’m an avid gardener. Not the Martha Stewart type though, who knows all the latin names for things and the special soil and fertilizer amendments – I garden by the seat of my pants. It’s an organic thing, if you will – I do what feels right and often I yield good results.

This year, my garden has been incredible, the weather has been perfect and the bugs and birds are barely bothering the plants at all. In fact, I’ve only lost two plants which is really amazing.

I’ve planted tomatoes of several varieties, summer squash, onions, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, turnips, radishes and even a spontaneous string bean plant came up out of nowhere.

Then there is this plant. It started out as a little seedling and it looked so cute, I thought what the heck, I’ll let it grow and see what happens. The above is what happened. It looked an awful lot like my cucumber plants so I assumed that it was a cucumber plant and let it be. You can never have too many cucumbers in my mind.

About a week ago, I noticed this:

And I knew it wasn’t no stinking cucumber. Over the last several days this mystery fruit/vegetable has continued to grow into:

and

and

I’ve actually come to believe that I am growing watermelons. Or some kind of melon. But I can’t for the life of me explain it. I never planted any watermelon and I never had any watermelon seeds, yet, the fruit on this baby grows by leaps and bounds each day – the largest one is a bit bigger than a softball as of today – and looking more and more like a watermelon.

Anybody out there care to hazard a guess? I’m dying to know what I’m growing and I simply cannot be sure. So, feel free to lob your guesses my way. The winner may end up with a fedexed melon in a few weeks.

WC

Dear Boodie…

(This is a very special letter to my cat – my love, my joy, my giant-hernia-producing-pain-in-the-butt, cat.)

Dear Boodie,

I saved you from sure extermination. That day I first saw you with your big red eye (that had been injured when a nail somehow got in there) and so tiny I could fit you in my hand. You stole my heart with your aloof and feral ways. I had to take  you home and make you my own.

At first you were shy and would wait until I was half conscious on the couch before you would venture out and crawl up on my chest, where you would sleep, issuing forth your little snore. Fur soft as silk – a funny face with yellow eyes that said ‘I have no brain cells’ I quickly came to love you.

We had many adventures, and you learned how to be a dog from the old girl – who we finally had to put asleep. But we fared well for that year when it was just  you and me. Then came the puppy, who you in the tradition of our family, taught to be a cat. To jump up on counters and perch on the back of sofas and chairs. To prefer eating from your cat box, rather than her dish. Oh sure, there was sibling rivalry but secretly, I knew you loved each other. As evidenced by the good morning kiss you give each other every morning. Followed by a barking and yeowling tussle.

But much as I love you my dear, overweight, obese and funny cat there are a few things we need to get straight:

1. When my eyelashes flutter at 4 a.m. I am not awake and getting ready to feed you, I am dreaming.

2. When the first fingers of sunlight filter through our guazy curtains, it is not time to feed you.

3. When I get up in the middle of the night to pee, it is not midnight snack time.

4. When I come home from work and I turn on my computer,  it is not dinner time.

5. When I move, it is not feeding time.

6. When I speak, it is not lunch time.

7. When I turn on the shower it is not time to feed you.

8. Are you sensing a pattern here?

I know that you don’t like Roomie’s cats and therefore you refuse to leave our room, with all your hiding places and the doggie to protect you from the evil ones. But seriously, you need to go to Jenny Craig’s. You need to get a full length mirror and look, really look at yourself. It is time for some real tough love here. You are FAT. Yes, you are. You are F.A.T. fat. You must brave the great outdoors and chase some mice or lizards or spiders or whatever it is you like to chase. You must go out and kick some Roomie Cat butt and make a space for yourself in the yard, with it’s big trees and green grass and several patio chairs just right for napping in the sun.

You must, my cat, come to know that there is more to life than food.

Love,

Mom

Finger Lickin’ Good!

Michael of Smoke & Mirrors has tagged me on a food meme. Imagine that, me and food – who’d a thunk? The deal is that I am supposed to list five of my fav eateries here in my neck of the woods, then I tag five more bloggers to do the same. So here goes:

Pink’s Hotdogs: Pink’s has been around forever in a day. Once you see the place, you definitely envision starlets and wannabe’s of the 1930’s & 1940’s standing around eating their dogs and sipping their creme soda. It’s clearly a Hollywood favorite, as evidenced by all the signed 8×10 glossies of Hollywood luminaries, that cover the walls inside the tiny dining area. But oh, my, God…they have the best chili dogs on the planet. And there is nothing quite so fun as running down there at midnight to stand on line to get a couple of these greasy, ooey, gooey, chili, onions,cheese dogs. 100% kosher beef dogs, on perfect squishy white buns, served by zophtic maidens. Get a Dr. Bonner’s Creme Soda to go with and you are set.

Barney’s: Barney’s is a fixture in Pasadena’s Old Town and has been there for quite a while. It’s a morph of an old-time saloon and a yuppie cafe. The food is good, hearty and reasonably priced, especially for its locale. My all time favorite dish is their toast-taco-salad. An enormous dish of fresh greens, topped with taco meat, shredded cheese, onions, sour creme and freshly made corn chips. Enough to feed three people unless you’re feeling really piggy. It’s served with a boatload of fresh salsa and vinegarette. Their potato salad is perfect. Burgers, great. Also have a mean kielbasa samich served with sourkraut on a big bakery bun. Have it with a diet coke, coffee or any one of the millions of brands of beers they serve. Afterwards, go for a stroll through Old Town, look in the shops, stop at the movies or just mill with the rest of the crowd.

Al Read’s: Al Read’s is a little hole in the wall place a mere 1/4 mile from my house. It sits on a corner across from a liquor store and a grocery store. Nothing remarkable about the little white building it is housed in but wait til you go inside. The decor is early 1970’s with white walls and red vinyl booths. To your right a tiny bar that is always rocking and to your left the dining room. You slide into one of the booths, and are given a giant red menu to peruse. Steak, seafood and ribs. Man oh man, the ribs. The sauce is to die for and I’ve yet to wheedle the recipe out of any of them. My two favorite dishes: Fried clams – can’t get enough of them. And the prime rib – unbelievably huge (covers most of the plate) served with twice baked potatoes and hot cheesebread – for under $20. A-yup, that’s what I said. You can go in your sweats or your fancy duds, makes no difference to them. The food is to die for and the service is friendly, casual and you never feel like they are just waiting for you to leave. It’s like going to your Aunt Edna’s for dinner but the service is better and so is the food.

Da Franco’s: Da Franco’s is the classic neighborhood Italian restaurant. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid there were always the family style neighborhood Eye-talian places that we would go to and gorge until we couldn’t move – and still have tons of leftovers to take home. That’s this place. Alfredo that is light, creamy, perfect. Marinara, home-made and garden fresh. They also have this chicken dish that is layer with cheese, ham and eggplant that is amazing and in ‘pink sauce’ – no idea what that is, but it melts in your mouth. Again, another casual, easy going place that serves the hell out of you. Oh and the cannolis can’t be beat. One other thing that I love, is that they serve you a basket of fresh soft bread sticks with marinara on the side, the minute your fanny hits the seat.

The Elephant Bar: The Elephant Bar is a cool kind of yuppy place in the heart of Burbank. The walls are painted in leopard print and zebra stripes, the waiters and waitresses likely all actors and actresses looking for their big break. They have a nice patio that faces the mountains and you can sip your iced tea or passion fruit iced tea as you watch the sun go down. Don’t worry about getting cold because they have those great big patio heaters that they will light on request. Everything on the menu is delicious. Everything. And the chef will alter dishes to your specs if you’re on a diet or want to swap one item out for another. They have everything from fried calamari, chinese chicken salad to pot roast. The portions are huge, you will be taking home leftovers. My favorite dish is the pot roast. Fork tender, in a perfect brown sauce that just melts in your mouth. Make sure to top it off with a huge slab of Chocolate Blackout Cake. And then call the paramedics, because you’ll have passed out by then.

And any time y’all want to come out to sunny California, I’d be pleased as punch to take you to any of these places.

Okay, that’s my five. Now, on with the tags…who shall it be??????

Jess
Christine
Ham
Puddlehead
MsCrankypants

I Love Me Some Thin Mints! Don’t You?

I don’t know about you but every year right about this time I start to get a little excited. Not because Spring is right around the corner or because a cute guy has moved in to the house across the street but because the cookies of all cookies are about to go on sale.

Yep – I am a girl scout cookie junkie. I just can’t help myself. If there is even one thin mint within a 20 mile radius I can smell it, hunt it down and take it for my own. Since I don’t even smoke any more I figure I am entitled to just this one little obsession.

Also too there is just something sweet and nostailgic about them. They have been around since I can remember and I can remember pretty far back. Always somewhere around spring break you would start to see little cardboard table and folding chair sales stands cropping up – in front of super markets, laundramats, banks and even street corners in some suburban neighborhoods. Naturally when I was a kid I knew many of the salesgirls 😉 now, not so much.

However, I do have one little friend who is probably one of my favorite cookie sellers:  

Let’s call her Cookie-Girl – she does a bang up job, according to her mom and troop mama. But I mean who has to be told, check out that stand, nice display, clean, neat with lots of variety but no clutter. Poifect.

What many of you may not know is that there is a whole lot more to selling girl scout cookies than meets the eye. In the words of my favorite Girl Scout Mama:

Cookie sales gets so much negative crap that people don’t see the good it does. On the money side, it funds the whole Girl Scout program and it helps troops earn money for their activities. (camping, horseback riding, community service projects [one troop paid their way to Build A Bear to stuff and dress bears then donated them to the Fire Department to give to kids that needed them])

On the “Where Girls Grow Strong” side of it (a Girl Scout saying) cookie sales gives girls a chance to learn so much in a safe environment. Sales, money handling, responsibility, people skills, persistence, goal setting, etc. When it’s all over, they have such a sense of achievement! You can see the change in them. They’ve grown!

Also, especially in recent years, there are many troops who are selling cookies in order to send them to the troops. The way it works is this: you buy a box of cookies and instead of taking them home and eating them and making your thighs and butt even bigger, you tell the troop to go ahead and send them to the troops overseas. In addition to this, the kids take a lot of the money they make and send additional cookies to the troops. For example there is a relatively well known program called Operation Cookie Drop, which is a program started by Girls Scouts who managed to send bagillions of cookies to our young men and women in Iraq and gave them a  taste of home.

If you see a local troop selling in your area, ask them what their ’cause’ or program is that they are selling for – I’m sure you’ll discover that they are not in it for a beach chair or so they can all go to Chuck E. Cheeese for a weekend. They are going to do something special with the money for someone who needs it, senior citizen homes, the troops overseas, underprivilidged children and so forth.

So the next time you see that little cardboard table and chairs set up, don’t hide your face and mumble something about being on a diet. Chat with the girls and find out what they intend to do with their proceeds. And don’t be so darn stingy, give them a five-spot and tell them to give a box of cookies to their favorite shut in, kid stuck in a hospital, or a kid in a uniform overseas and far far away from home.

If you want to know when the cookies are going on sale in your area you can go here – type in your zip code and councils in your area should come up, with their schedules of sales.

Heck there is even a myspace girlscout page here.

So for pete’s sake, get some Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas, Trefoils or even som DoSiDos and know that you are likely contributing to something worthy and worthwhile. Heck if you are really worried about your diet they even sell some fudgy sugar free numbers AND all the cookies have Zero trans fats. So let’s not sweat the small stuff, otay.

For pictures, descriptions and nutritional information about the cookies go here

Also, if you just want to help and contribute to a troop who is sending cookies to the troops, I personally know of such a troop and I’d be happy to hook you up with them. If so, feel free to email me.

Okay, let’s get our fat asses down there and be loading up on the damn finest cookies ever made in America. Sound good? 😉

WC

Twinkies, Anyone?

When I was a kid, I loved Twinkies. In fact, I still do. There is no other highly processed, prepackaged lump of sugar and starch that I love more. In fact, as processed, prepackaged lumps of sugar and starch go, Hostess just can’t be beaten. They are the king of the heap in this department.

Now as time wore on, after my childhood Twinkies became evil things – things that would make you kill another human being, for example. Hence the Twinkie Defense. Of course it could only have happened in California and San Francisco, as the rest of the world just isn’t that stupid.

Also the word Twinkie is sometimes used as a term to objectify women who are overly sexual and not too bright. Like we need another one of those.

But despite all the abuse the poor Twinkie has gotten over the years, it is still one of America’s favorite junk foods. So imagine my awe and surprise when I discovered that there are many things one can do with a Twinkie to make really cool deserts. There is actually a twinkie desert recipe page. Can you believe it? Below is my favorite recipe – but you can find many more here .

So enjoy your weekend and make a delicious Twinkie desert for your family which you can enjoy while watching a Sunday night video. Cheers!

Twinkie-misu
By Larry Coons

Items Needed:

Box Hostess Twinkies
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled & sweetened
1/4 cup Kahlua (optional)
1/2 gallon coffee or coffee & chocolate ice cream
Chocolate shavings or sprinkles

DIRECTIONS: Slice Twinkies in half lengthwise. Spray 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Put five Twinkie halves, cream side up, side by side in pan. Mix coffee and Kahlua (optional); with pastry brush, apply liberally to cut side of Twinkies. Spoon about a 1/2 inch layer of softened ice cream over Twinkies. Repeat until you have used enough Twinkies & ice cream to fill the loaf pan. Cover tightly with foil and freeze several hours or overnight. This can be served from the pan in slices or unmolded, garnished with the chocolate and served. Serves about 10.

Ole! Soup, Anyone?

(HT to Gerry for this recipe – rumor has it that it is yummy and comes from his sister. WC )


TACO SOUP
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 package ranch-style dressing mix
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 cup water
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 15-ounce can cream-style corn
Brown beef with onions in a medium-size soup pot.  Drain excess grease.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes before serving.
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
I’d add that you could serve it with fresh taco chips or TJ’s blue corn tortilla chips, a crisp green salad and a nice cold Dos Equis. Oh yeah!

Julia Child’s Turkey Christmas – 12 days of xmas #6

New house, new man (with two sons…why do they come in two’s?) and yet another memorable Christmas. Still cooking. In this case, cooking up a veritible storm. It started out pretty simple me, Tom and the boys with a few friends…but then I started getting these phone calls. There was a bevy of Christmas orphans that year with nowhere to go and could they come to my house? Sure, the more the merrier!

As each day inched nearer to Christmas, more phone calls, more unexpected guests to feed. I’d never made a really big turkey but this was the year to do it. The house was small so there was no way we were all going to sit down, so a buffet it was.

It’s a rather odd and surreal experience (even to a Christmas nut like me) to have a houseful of guests for Christmas dinner when you’ve never met half of them. Sort of like stumbling into a big frat party. But I loving to cook and have guests the way I do decided to just roll with it.

I got up early (can you say 5 am?) and Tom just had to get this shot of me in search of my first cup of coffee. Oh how I love to have my picture taken in my jammies with no makeup and a dumb expression on my face.

But I digress.

So, out came the 30lb turkey to sit on the counter while I drank coffee and made the stuffing. Now I’m a kind of organic cook – I generally abhor recipes and I honestly can’t follow one completely as I always add things or change things. So instead of taking the easy way out and following Mrs. Cubbitson’s recipe that was quite conveniently on the back of the box, I set to chopping up apples, nuts and onions, sauteed all that in some butter and threw in a few handful of raisens – I happened to have some cranberries too so in they went. Once the vat of dressing was made and the turkey stuffed to the gills and the remaining dressing in a sheet pan, we set to making the basting sauce. Butter, chicken broth, orange juice and white wine, a little sugar for good measure and we were ready to roll. Into the oven it went.

The next hour was spent peeling potatoes because of course home made mashed potatoes were a must and I had a lot of guests and they were going to want those darn potatoes. Ooops, one of the kids just shot a toy soldier into the potato pot. No harm done, the soldier was barely injured. On the back burner with those. Next sweet potatoes, peeling, dicing, glazing with butter, cinnamon, pineapple juice and brown sugar. My gawd how glad was I that I made the pumpkin pies the night before? Very, I must say.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a couple of bags of frozen peas since no one really likes vegetables with their Christmas dinner, do they? Unheard of, really , absolutely scandalous!

And between the basting and trying to find enough dishes and the the parade of guests and little gift giving, before I knew it, it was time to pull it all out of the oven. Of course by that time I was ready for a nap but i had an army to feed and they were getting restless with Ruffles and beer being their only appetisers (I know, shame on me – but I just couldn’t clone myself to make nibblies).

The turkey needed to rest before we could carve him up – so I put on my best Julia Childs impression and entertained the guests while extolling the many virtues of the giant perfectly browned bird.

Then came the rue for the gravy and separating the fat from the drippings – oh my where was that little bit of coffee I saved for the gravy? Is that bowl big enough for the potatoes? Why on earth don’t I have an electric mixer? Do you know how hard it is to mash and whip 10 pounds of mashed potatoes? My biceps were quite impressive that day. At least Tom opened the cranberry sauce and carved the turkey.

Finally we ate and ate and then we ate some more. We played Trivial Pursuit, got drunk and finished the leftovers. I think I finally had to kick everyone out around midnight. Since my orphans had cleaned up after me when dinner was over, I had a clean kitchen and just enough to share a turkey sandwich with Tom before we crawled into bed for a long winter’s nap. Of course I swore I’d never do that again. And yet I did, the next year and the next year and the year after that. 😉

WC