Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spaghetti, wine, dominoes, and Chutes & Ladders

Saturday was Poker night. That means that Jeff was not home for the evening.  I called up his sister and she came over, we had a girl's night of spaghetti, wine, playing dominoes, as well as Chutes and Ladders.  Well let me tell you, my Dad has this phrase he uses periodically; it's "Butt Numbers". Butt Numbers* are essentially numbers that are pulled out of nowhere, i.e. your butt.  My reason for explaining butt numbers is this..... I have created butt number cooking. I'm coining the phrase. Butt. Number. Cooking.

This is generally how I cook.  I rarely measure anything, and I tend to add stuff willy-nilly. Essentially I pull the 'recipe' out of nowhere. I'm really just lazy if you really must know. I made spaghetti but didn't measure a dang thing.... If you haven't noticed already I tend to use approximations on my recipes, now you know why. Butt Number Cooking.  Of course I wouldn't be telling you about my Butt Number Cooking if it wasn't a success. More often than not I am successful in my cooking endeavors. I think the most important thing to cooking is to correct your seasoning as you go. That means taste it! All during your cooking process taste it and see if it needs salt, or pepper. Correct your seasoning! Of course I wouldn't recommend doing this while browning the meat......

Anywho, the spaghetti turned out quite good.  Here's the psuedo recipe:

about 1lb ground beef
1 smallish-mediumish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cento peeled plum tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 white wine (you could prob use red if you prefer)
1 pkg mushrooms - I think that's 8oz?
a pinch of sugar (to reduce acidity)
chili powder

Brown the beef, add onions garlic, and mushrooms, spoon off the fat (if you do that sort of thing). Toss in some oregano, the paste, and the plum tomatoes.  Crush the tomatoes with your spoon. About this time I tasted the sauce and it mostly tasted like tomatoes, which is fine if that's what you like but I wanted more than just tomato flavor. So while I was dicing veggies for my salad, I tossed in about 1/2 of a bell pepper, some parsley I found in the fridge and probably 1/2 of a stalk of celery (diced of course).  More pepper, more oregano, and some water. Oh and don't forget the wine. Then I put the lid on and let it simmer for about an hour. Don't forget the bay leaf like I did. Boil your pasta of choice (I chose spaghetti, duh) once the pasta is al dente toss it with the sauce (add a little pasta water if it is still thick). Serve and enjoy.

*On a side note if you google Butt numbers there is no site that directly defines butt numbers. I thought for sure there would be a definition on urban dictionary or something. Interesting. I shall have to rectify this at some point.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Little less of a dilemma but still a dilemma nonetheless

So results from the bloodwork, x-rays, and all that is positive. The Vet thinks that Bo does not have mast cell cancer, because it has not spread at all. That's is good. They still have to do surgery.... that is bad. Poor dog is going to have to wear a cone for 10 day to keep him from licking the affected area (his weiner). Yes, I just said weiner.  The worrisome part is the surgery is going to cost $600. Yikes! I don't exactly have $600 lying around to donate to the vet. I'll have to find the money somewhere, the Vet said in order to keep the cancer from spreading they need to do the surgery ASAP.  So you know.... no pressure. I've got some jewelry that I'm trying to sell, we'll see how much that amounts too.

Anyone willing to donate some dollars to my surgery fund? I need 600 of 'em........No? Lol that's ok, just thought I'd ask.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A dilemma

I have a dilemma (more like a difficult weighty decision) and I’m finding it hard to deal with. My dog Bo, has cancer. The vet called it mast cell cancer.  From what I've read his chances are middle of the road based on where the cancer is located. So we are taking him to the vet tomorrow to have blood-work and x-rays done.  My understanding is that from this they will be able to tell if surgery will cure his cancer or if he will need further treatment. The vet mentioned chemo/radiation.
My problem is two-fold: 1) this is going to be expensive ($1,000 for surgery) and I don’t exactly have a couple grand lying around that I can fork over for this and 2) is it right to subject a dog to chemo/radiation?

I’m willing to find a way to make this happen but unless this surgery is a cure I’m not sure that I want to it.  A dog isn’t going to understand that chemo and/or radiation will help him, what will his quality of life be?  Dogs live in the moment (thanks dog whisperer!) and all he will know is the pain that is chemo.  Not to mention the cost factor of chemo, the vet said it would be very pricey.

So I will be waiting to hear from the vet to see if surgery will be a cure or not.  From there I guess we shall see….

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I hate Orchard Bank

I hate Orchard Bank. I will never do business with them again.
To make a really long story shorter, I got a credit card with them in 2003. Everything was hunky dory until they jacked up my interest rate to 29% without informing me of it first. I had 3 credit cards at the time and all 3 went up to 29%. Can you guess when that was? Yep, during the bank failing crap of 2008/2009. So my manageable minimum payments skyrockted, previously I was making double the minimum payment in order to pay down my balance.

I then found myself in the situation that many people have been in; I could not pay all of my bills AND pay my credit cards. Yes I realize this is my fault, and they are under no obligation to help me, but it would be in their best interests if they did.  I considered several options, CCCS, just not paying them, and getting a loan to pay off the cards. I firmly believe in paying my debts so after trying to pay the cards for a few months, and failing I got a loan to pay off almost all of my cards. I closed all but one - Orchard. I had had the card the longest of the 3 and that was the account I wanted to keep open.

So I kept making payments, and did ok for a few more months but *stuff* happened (as it is apt to do) and I got into a situation where I was again having a problem paying the bill. I called Orchard and they told me they could drop my rate to 9.0%! Happy day! Oh but wait, they would be closing my account. Wait! What? So in order to get any help from them they were going to close my account. Ok, I can deal with that. It's the best option I have.

Then they said it would only be on 9.0% for 6 months. Ummmm this deal isn't sounding as good as it first did. I still agreed to it there was no way I was going to be able to pay off the balance in 6 months.  They assured me I could extend this "Hardship" program for another 6 months when the first 6 months expired. "Ok", I thought, "I can handle that." And I did. I paid, much more than the minimum due each month. All during this time they called me, the e-mailed me, they snail mailed me advertisements to open up ANOTHER card with them. Wow.

So the 6 months expired on 01/01/11 and guess what, when I called to extend the "Hardship" program they said no. I in turn said, if you do not extend this you will not get another red cent from me. The rep informed me that I could call a credit counseling service. Clearly we were not communicating on the same plane. I then told her that I find it fascinating that they would rather get NO money from me than to lower the interest and get a little LESS money. She continued babbling about credit counseling. I hung up.

This is just one instance of why I hate the EPIC fail that is Orchard Bank. I could go on but why? Needless to say I will be calling their executive customer service line which is 1-888-890-4204 to complain about this. Although I doubt it will do any good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pot Roast Stew

It snowed yesterday so it was a perfect weather for comfort food. I made macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, spaghetti casserole, and stew last night. The stew and mashed potatoes were dinner, the rest was for later in the week and for lunch.  The stew recipe is something I made up on the fly (it was inspired by Jeff), it turned out pretty good, we ate it served over the mashed potatoes instead of me putting potatoes in the stew. Here's the recipe:

Nic's Pot Roast Stew
2 T butter
1-2 T oil (I used canola)
4 medium carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 T flour
3-4 C french onion soup (or cooked both from a 4-5lb pot roast) with the fat skimmed off
1-2 lbs of left over pot roast
bay leaf
salt and pepper

Combine butter and oil over med-low heat in a dutch oven.  Sweat onion, carrots, celery, and garlic 5-7 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Add the flour and stir for 3-4 minutes.  Then add soup/broth, bay leaf, and oregano bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, add the meat and set on a low simmer for 30 mins. You may want to skim off any fat/grease that rises to the top.  Add the peas and serve over mashed potatoes once the peas are hot.

Here's what I do to maximize the food that I have bought. I make French onion soup (Julia Child's recipe) eat that for dinner, use the left over soup to cook the pot roast either in the oven or in the crock pot. Eat the pot roast for dinner and then use the sauce/soup concoction and make stew with the left over pot roast. That way I have 3 meals (and then some). It makes me feel like I'm being thrifty.

The mac and cheese recipe is what my Mom used to make all the time, serves about 4-6 people as a side dish. While it uses velveeta I'm OK with that, I am not one to turn my nose up at processed cheese.... it melts soooo well and is easy to use. I justify this by not using it that frequently.

Mom's Mac 'n Cheese

2 C cooked elbow pasta
2-4 T butter
1/2 onion diced, sauteed in a little butter
3-4 T flour
velveeta - I never measure best guess would be about 1 1/2 C cubed
3-4 C milk

Grease 2 qt. casserole, add pasta, onion, and butter, toss to coat. Add velveeta, stir, add flour, stir. Pour in milk, until all is covered but not swimming. I microwave the milk for a few minutes just to preheat. Add pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Bake at 350 for 45 min- 1 hr (or until top is brown and edges are bubbly you don't want it soupy). Enjoy!

The spaghetti casserole has been a favorite of my families since I was a kid. I have no idea where my Mom got it, I've adapted it a bit to suit my tastes.

Spaghetti Casserole

1lb ground beef
1 garlic clove, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can tomato soup
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 can diced mushrooms
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked
shredded cheddar cheese

In a large dutch oven brown ground beef with onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Drain off fat, combine with soups and mushrooms. Add in spaghetti, toss well to combine, top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Kindle

I got a Kindle for Christmas from Jeff and I love it! I take it everywhere with me.  I wasn't sure how I would feel about it, even though I did specifically request it. My kindle is so light and portable. I love that I can carry around an almost unlimited number of books with me. I was always slogging around books with me and some of them were prettty big/heavy. So this is nice. I've also managed to find a cache of free books from amazon and another website. I currently have 26 books on my kindle and I think I've paid for about 8 of them. Sweet!
Currently I am reading a book called Doan & Carstairs Mysteries, Book Two: The Mouse in the Mountain  (the delightful mystery classic!). That last part makes me laugh.
I read the first book, which is more like a short story; and I really enjoyed it. This series was written in the 1940's by a guy named Norbert Davis here is a brief history. Davis wrote a lot of short stories, however; not a lot of his work is available in print anymore. His characters make me laugh out loud with their comments and the way they behave.  So far the books have been a quick read and I've enjoyed them. For $0.99, it's a good deal, I plan on buying the other 2 or 3 novels that are available.

Doan & Carstairs Mysteries, Book Two: The Mouse in the Mountain (The delightful mystery classic!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New year.... not so new stuff

We spent New Year's Eve on my parent's couch watching a movie. The purest example of Excitement we may not be... but I can honestly say I do NOT miss the subsequent New Year's Day hangover one bit. We had a nice brunch at Another Broken Egg. I have a new mission.... to recreate the fabulous chicken and andouille sausage cream soup they served. More on that later.

On another note. I do not make resolutions, I look at it as just one more way to not meet a goal that I set for myself. The probelm with these resolutions? They are invariably ridiculously hard to obtain and eventually they leave you feeling down-trodden and left behind in the dust of another raucous New Year's optimistic high. How long that takes is a case-by-case basis, but I find by March my desire to adhere to my resolutions is by the wayside.

So NO I will not adhere to the demands of the New Year's Baby, or fall to the populous and put forth yet another resolution to be more healthy, to lose weight, to stop using my phone so much, or to love myself and my family more (I love them plenty and even more each day). I will not bow to the pressure!
I am starting my own tradition of being waveringly certain that I am OK! the way I am. No drastic changes needed here.