Grilled Cheese Lunch

Wasn’t feeling lazy this morning so decided to treat myself for lunch. Normally I keep my lunches super simple, things like 3 minutes ramen, a bowl of cereal, or toast and jam. This whole week is going to be simple suppers, things I make all the time. Last night was pizza and tonight is shepherds pie, tomorrow will be pork steak in mushroom gravy. For lunch today I could of just kept it to a simple straightforward grilled cheese sandwich, but as I said I wasn’t feeling lazy. I had some bacon leftover from the pizza last night so I figured a grilled cheese and bacon was better than just grilled cheese. There is always lots of cheese in the fridge so I decided old cheddar and mozzarella would make it even better. So cheddar on the bottom slice then bacon then mozzarella and into the frying pan. Oh! there was also pepper in the mix. Made a great lunch but not one I will have often. Yes, it was delicious but I like my lazy lunches.

It may look like I had a big lunch but it wasn’t. I used the small end pieces of the rye bread. It really wasn’t any bigger than 2 slices of white bread

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Clean Out The Fridge Turkey Vegetable Soup

Since yesterday was turkey stock day today is turkey soup day. I find making soup, once I have the stock, just a fun thing to do. I have a number of soups I make often because both my wife and I like them. Other times I just go with what I can find in the pantry and fridge. Soup is the perfect thing to play with by putting different things in the pot. Once you have a very good stock there really are no rules to what you use.

We still only go grocery shopping once a week and Sunday morning is our normal trip. Thankfully we always have onions, celery, and carrots in the fridge and the spice drawer is stocked with 60 different things. I could stop with just those 3 things, a few spices and still have a great turkey soup. Soup is a good way to use the little amounts of frozen vegetables that aren’t enough for a meal. Freezer had some corn, diced tomatoes, and green beans which are always good in soup. Next was the pantry which always holds little treasures of dried beans and grains. My choice was pearl barley which is a great grain and should be in everyone’s pantry or cupboard. Think a lot of people would think it is only used for a beef barley soup, but it’s great in any soup. Believe it or not it even makes a great grain salad. So no need to run to the store I just used what I had.

Making the soup is one of the easiest things I make, and is great on a fall day. Today in Winnipeg it is definitely fall there was frost on the rooftops this morning. With homemade soup the stove does the work. Took me about 10 minutes of chopping and getting everything in the pot. The biscuits my wife made and I stayed out of the way. Our biscuit war is an ongoing thing and I didn’t feel like continuing it today.

2 and 1/2 litres of turkey stock

2 and 1/2 cup of turkey

2 cloves garlic minced

1 onion diced

1 large carrot chopped

2 ribs celery chopped

1 cup chopped green beans

3/4 cup corn

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/3 cup pearl barley

1 tablespoon dried parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the stock to a boil, add garlic, pearl barley, and parsley. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 45 minutes covered. After the 45 minutes add everything else and bring back to a boil, reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 45 minutes. When there is 10 minutes left taste the soup and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve with biscuits or really good whole grain buns

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Turkey Stock Day

Making stock for me is almost a therapeutic. It sounds funny when you say it out loud, but there are a number of reasons for that feeling. The obvious reason is how great it makes the house smell. If you have been outside and come in the smell greets you with a warm hug that just makes you happy. When you’re making stock it keeps a little smile on your face because it makes you feel so good. In my case the other reason is I know I haven’t wasted anything from the turkey. Both my wife and I hate wasting food and if you’re tossing the turkey carcass that is what you’re doing. When I pick over the carcass after I have made the stock usually I end up with about two to two and a half cups of turkey. Even with ham or beef bones you end up with about the same amount. Personally I just hate the thought of that much meat going in the trash.

Making any kind of stock is a very simple thing, and very little work. Ham or beef bones or turkey or chicken carcasses, vegetables, spices, and water. The stove really does all the work and time makes the stock great. You don’t even have to cut the vegetables up in a special way, you just chop them anyway that’s quick. Once you have the stock in the fridge you can make a multitude of different soups from it. Over the years I probably have made 3 or 4 dozen different soups. I know a lot of people think that with turkey stock your limited to a couple of soups, your not. I have made at least a dozen different soups with turkey stock. It goes from the standards to curry and cream to bean. The only limit really is your imagination.

With this stock I put in 20 of the woody ends of asparagus, just because I keep them in the freezer. Because I used the asparagus I also used the most under used spice, turmeric.

1 turkey carcass

2 and 1/2 litres water

2 onions sliced

2 carrots chopped

inner stocks of celery with the leaves chopped ( about the equivalent to 2 stocks )

20 woody ends of asparagus ( optional )

1 teaspoon turmeric ( optional )

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

12 pepper corns

4 bay leaves

Put everything in a pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a very gentle boil and cook covered for 3 hour. Drain through a strainer and sit on the counter until it is at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. When the bones have cooled pick all the meat off and refrigerate.

The next day remove all the solidified fat and have fun making soup.

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And So It Begins

The question has been answered, the answer is to paint. I totally enjoyed working on fixing the print for my wife. It was amazing how quickly I fell back into the relaxed state that painting always gave me. Guess it’s muscle memory because when I put the brush in my hand it seemed to know exactly how to do what I needed it to. A couple of times I actually laughed out loud because my mind knew the change the print needed and my brush was already doing it. Never really believed in muscle memory but now I kind of do.

Thanksgiving Day I told our daughter-in-law I was mad at her. She looked shocked until I told her it was because she gave me the blank canvas. Told giving a blank canvas to someone like me was like giving drugs to an addict. Honestly it is just about that bad, think I have looked at the canvas at least a dozen times. If you are artistic a blank canvas screams very loudly to have something on it. Funny thing is I thought I might paint my clown head that is my blog picture it is my favourite picture. I really like the character that Oberstein puts in his work. Thought of painting it not because I think I could do it better but because I thought it would be fun. When I painted when I was younger I would buy a canvas and sit and look at it, there was always kind of a picture that would form in my mind. Then it was always faces that carried a lot of character, but that wasn’t what I was seeing in the canvas now.

What I was seeing in my mind on the canvas was different Scottish castles. That was something not even close to anything I have ever painted. Some castles where ruins, Scott’s have a habit of putting castles in very cool places. Some castles are still in use and located in gorgeous places. Two castles became the ones I saw most often. Threave Castle and Stalker Castle. Today all I was seeing in my mind was Stalker Castle, so the canvas is showing me what needs to be on it like it did when I was younger. Guess there really was no other choice for me if I was going to paint a castle. Since I owe my heritage to the Stewart’s of Appin it is only fitting that is the castle I paint.

It will be my winter project on days when I am cooking things that are already on my blog. Since I don’t want to get into the old habits that I had when I was young I have a plan. Painting will be an hour a day, and only on days when I am not playing in the kitchen. Maybe I am getting smarter as I have gotten older, going to set a timer when I paint to make sure I only paint for an hour. Seen lots of pictures of Stalker Castle because they have a great website and years ago I got the free wallpaper they have for my laptop. Pictures have different views and were talking about different times of the year which is nice. Found a perfect shot from a perfect angle, other shows better aspects of the island so my painting will have parts of about a dozen pictures in it. Idea isn’t to copy a photo, it’s to use ideas from them and then do my own thing. Honestly can’t wait to start but have other things to do for a couple of weeks. When I get it finished I will post a picture so everyone can have a good laugh.

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The Turkey Cook’s Treat

Today we are celebrating our Thanksgiving Day, a special family day for us. Since we are all vaccinated we can get together as a family again. Having our family here for Thanksgiving is getting us back to kind of normal. Of all the things that we couldn’t do because of covid, not being able to have everyone here for a meal was the hardest.

Over the years we have gotten a little smarter when it comes to holiday meals. We get a lot of things done in advance. Today is actually a good day, not a mad rush to get everything done. The pies are made, the coleslaw is made also. The brussel sprouts are trimmed and ready for the microwave, creamed corn is just opening the cans. The meatballs were done a few days ago and are now thawed and ready to go in the oven when the turkey comes out. Mashed potatoes I did yesterday and they will be reheated in the oven with the meatballs. Surprisingly reheating them works great. Seen that trick on a cooking show and tried it, was surprised how they were just like I had just made them. Getting things done ahead makes the day more fun for us.

Of all the things I cook for our family cooking a turkey is my favourite thing to cook. Yes there are other things I like eating a little bit more, but cooking them isn’t the same as cooking a turkey. The smell that it gives the house is amazing and comforting. To me that smell just screams”HOLIDAY” and makes you hungry to eat it. Part of the smell with my turkey comes from my stuffing song stuffing. The smell of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme somehow just lets you know it’s a holiday and it’s a special meal.

How I cook a turkey leads to the turkey cook’s treat, well for me it’s a treat. I always cover my roasting pan tightly with foil, it doesn’t come off until the last 45 minutes of cooking time. That last 45 minutes is when I baste my turkey, and it gets to browns nicely, that is also when I get my treat. The first thing I do when I uncover it is take the liver out of the pan. The turkey liver with a little salt and pepper for me is as good as the meal itself. I realize that may seem strange but everytime I cook a turkey it is the thing I look forward to the most. I know that if you don’t like liver then it would be something that went in the trash. If, like me, liver is a good thing you probably eat it, gizzard is also a treat but this turkey it was missing.

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My Wife’s Apple Pie

I don’t say enough about how great a baker my wife is. When it comes to making cakes, cookies, pies and anything else for desert I think she is the best in the world. Thanksgiving is Monday for us so somethings get made in advance. Normally she just makes pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving but this year she decided an apple pie would be a good idea also. So today was apple pie day which believe it or not excited me. I never eat pumpkin pie and usually end up with no desert on Thanksgiving. Deserts aren’t a big thing for me so I have never cared about no desert. About the only deserts I would crawl over broken glass for is cheese cake and sour cherry pie. All of my wife’s deserts I can’t wait to eat, except pumpkin pie. Her apple pie and apple crisp I can add to the broken glass list. Worst part of her making it today is as it sits cooling on the counter I just want to cut a big wedge out of it. She would kill me so I just have to wait till Monday.

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French Toast Ham Sandwich

What we in North America call french toast has absolutely nothing to do with France. The name comes from an American cook in the eighteenth century whose last name was French. When you research it the concept of stale bread soaked in egg and fried in fat goes back to ancient Egypt. There are a couple of dozen different names for it depending on what country your in. It’s all basically the same thing, but there is a difference in how it’s eaten.

We have it as a breakfast thing with powdered sugar, whipped cream, maple syrup, and berries. I have had it once that way and still find it a silly way to eat it. For me it is a fried egg dish and I eat it with salt and pepper. The way I look at it I would never put vanilla, cinnamon, whipped cream, or maple syrup on a fried egg, not even a scrambled egg.

So is my way of eating “french toast” something very strange. No, exactly the opposite, in most place in the world it is eaten like toast, sometimes with brown sauce (HP sauce) or red sauce (ketchup). Surprise, surprise in a lot of places it is made into a sandwich. In Scotland it is made into a sausage sandwich. But for the average person in North America they probably think it’s a crazy thing to do. Thing is it makes a great sandwich whether it’s ham, bacon, or sausage. It’s also great just eaten with salt and pepper with brown or red sauce, just leave the vanilla and cinnamon out of it.

2 slices of bread

2 beaten eggs ( leave the vanilla and cinnamon in the cupboard)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons milk

1 tablespoon butter

sliced ham

brown sauce

Preheat a frying pan on medium heat with the butter. Beat the eggs, salt, pepper, and milk together well in a bowl large enough for the 2 slices of bread. Soak the bread in the egg mixture for 2 minutes per side. Place the bread in the frying pan and cook covered for 2 minutes. Turn over, add the ham to one slice and the brown sauce to the other. Cover and turn the heat off, after 2 minutes remove from the pan and eat.

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To Paint Or Not To Paint, That Is The Question

When I was young I painted, not walls, pictures. I guess you could say it was my hobby. If you are artistic you know it can be more than a hobby it can become an obsession. Was I good at it, did I have any talent? No artistic person can truthfully answer that question, other people hold the answer to whether anyone has talent. Most of what I did ended up in the trash, because when I was finished all I could see was things I should of done differently. A couple I thought were just good, surprisingly people I knew thought they were better than just good. They asked if they could have them because they wanted to hang them in their offices. I was shocked but gladly said yes. The last picture I painted I was actually proud of and there wasn’t a thing I would change when I looked at it. It also made me realize that my hobby was turning into an obsession. Painting until 3 or 4 in the morning and getting up at 7 to go to work was not a good thing. Family and work was what I needed to focus on so the painting needed to stop and did. Life gets priority over a lot of things and always should. A friend of mine saw the picture and wanted to buy it because he had opened a business and the picture would be perfect for his office. The subject of the painting matched his business perfectly and he thought it was a great painting. I told him I wouldn’t sell it to him but he could have it and when he was sick of it he could give it back. When he died his son took over the business and ask me if I wanted the picture back. I said sure if you don’t want it, but if you do please keep it. He said it had always hung behind his father’s chair and yes he wanted to keep it there, and that’s where it hangs to this day.

So for over 35 years I haven’t touched a paint brush. When I was retiring our kids asked me if I was going to start painting again, I said I didn’t know. Told them I had my legacy project, my blog, and I would see how that went. That brings me to this weekend which in some ways surprised me. We ordered a picture online, an inexpensive print on canvas, the composition and the colours looked perfect. When it arrived the colours didn’t look as bright as they did on the tablet. Composition was still what we wanted but it needed some of the muted colours brightened. My wife asked if I could do it without going overboard with the colours, I said yes. She asked our daughter-in-law if we could borrow some paints and a couple of brushes. Yesterday she dropped them off, but not just the paint and a couple of brushes, she also brought a blank canvas.

After she left and I was putting the brushes away I was amazed at how, in my hands, they automatically slipped into the proper position for painting. It was strange how good it felt to be holding a proper art brush again. Looking at the blank canvas I could see a half dozen pictures jumping out of it. Even my wife told me there was a picture I could paint and should paint.

Do I have the time to paint, yes, can I stop it from becoming an obsession, maybe, hopefully. That is, I guess the curse of anyone who does anything artistic. When your mind hits the point of wanting something absolutely perfect that it consumes your time, then it’s not a hobby anymore. After I have fixed the picture this week, I question I have the question to answer, to paint or not to paint.

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This Week I Will Be Kind Of Quiet

Making ham and scalloped potatoes for supper tonight so most of the week will be leftovers. Tomorrow is meatball day so we have meatballs for Thanksgiving. Between the leftover ham and some meatballs not much playing in the kitchen. Since I can’t help myself I have one crazy idea for my lunch. Think it will surprise some people but my research says it isn’t to strange. So at least I will have one day of playing

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Just My Sauce!

Somethings just need a sauce to take them to the next level, schnitzel is one. Schnitzel is good but becomes delicious when you have a sauce for it. This sauce is such a simple thing to make I never considered including it on my blog. I changed my mind after watching a cooking show and watched them make a big fuss over a complicated sauce they made. Like most things I cook I prefer simple, using ingredients everyone usually has in their house. You don’t have to buy expensive ingredients and spend an hour to make a great sauce. So many cooking shows use things the average person never has in the house. Yes the sauce they made was probably delicious but at about $30 to make it had better been super delicious.

Just about everything we cook that is breaded and fried needs a sauce, even a pan fried pork chop can us a sauce. My sauce is made with bouillon powder, tried it with broth but it didn’t work. With the schnitzel I used the simplest sauce I make, but it is so versatile you can change it up for what you’re cooking. You can use beef, chicken, vegetable, or seafood bouillon to match the sauce to the protein. Since the recipe is for 2 portions just increase everything as needed.

This is just the basic sauce that works the best with schnitzel but you can turn it into a fancy sauce very easily. All you have to do is add 1 teaspoon of any of the following things for every 2 portions.

Smashed capers

Juniper berries

Any kind of pickled peppers chopped

Chopped fresh peppers

Chopped cranberries

Chopped black or green olives

Even a chopped dill pickle

The basic sauce is the one we like with schnitzel, breaded pork chops, and chicken fried steak. When making the sauce in the 2 or 4 portion size you have to use a saute pan and a sauce pan to get the proper result. You need the saute pan because you want the mushrooms to fry not boil. The fried mushrooms add a great amount of flavour to the finished sauce

4 mushrooms cut in half and thinly sliced

1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic minced

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon half and half cream

1/3 teaspoon flour

1/4 teaspoon kitchen banquet

1 packet of beef bouillon ( I use Knorr packets)

Preheat a saute pan on medium high heat with the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to a sauce pan on medium heat making sure you get all the butter out of the saute pan. Add the flour and mix it well for about 1 minute. Add the water, bouillon, and kitchen banquet and stir until thickened (if you use one of the optional ingredients to make a fancy sauce this is when you add them). Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and serve.

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