Archive for May, 2020

Working with Phyllo

About every 5 years or so, I forget my failures and get tempted to again make a dish using phyllo pastry.  The instructions always say how easy it is.

We had some left over Black Forest ham , some Broccoli and Gruyere cheese so I decided to make ham and cheese packets.  Thawed out the package of phyllo and started to make my layers.  This is horribly delicate as it is like working with wet kleenex.  No matter how careful it shatters or folds over on itself.  You have to wear a mask because your very breath will blow it to pieces all over the kitchen.

I supposedly only needed half the package to make this dish but with all the failures used the entire pack up.  Not that I would have wanted any leftover anyway.

The finished packets looked no where near as neat as the photo with the recipe, but tasted great.

Maybe in 5 years I will try again.


Perfect Lawn

See the picture.  The lawn in the backyard is perfect, well nearly so, but the best in several years.  After top dressing a few years ago with soil that included many weeds, we are back to the lawn that I aspired for.  Many hours of pulling weeds and cutting short.  Of course being out here in Paradise it is a lush, rich green.

Some background.  When Blaine and I were kids we begged Dad to replace the front potato patch with a lawn.  Why?  Because we saw that on TV (maybe Leave it to Beaver) and realized that a lawn was the symbol of a modern suburban family.  I think I may have even made the offer that I would mow it religiously.  As I recall when we eventually had the lawn I never did cut it.

Over the years with the many homes, I worked hard for a perfect lawn and had many good ones, and unlike me, our kids often did the mowing.  Always assured me they loved it!!

Now why do you want a perfect lush green lawn?  Well it looks good but it is there for the kids to roll around and do cartwheels.  Too late for that now.  Maybe the grandkids, again too late.

So I now have this gorgeous lawn in the back where it’s prime purpose is for Reese to use as a toilet.  Although she does love to roll around on it.

A pile of Gold Coins

With the economy where it is these days there is a consideration to sell everything and buy gold coins says one advisor on the internet.

Okay that is a bit of a stretch, but I was thinking of this idea.

When I was a kid in the 50s I loved comic books including Donald Duck and my favorite character Scrooge McDuck.  He was rich and had a money bin.

For whatever reason he never gave any money to Donald.

Scrooge ended up with his own comic book series.  For some reason I remember well a particular issue where he was challenged by his nemesis who is the richest duck in the world.  Obviously a big contest these days.

In the comic both agree to convert all their wealth into gold coins and make a pile.  The bad guy (I do not remember his name) realizes that Scrooge’s pile is getting big and hires a scientist to use a shrinking ray to reduce Scrooge’s pile.  Pays him with a bucket of gold coins.  I forget why but the ray does not work and when the judges measure the piles the bad guy loses by the margin that one judge says was one bucket of gold coins.

I do not know why I remember this comic so well but every time I read of a financial advisor saying buy gold coins… well….

Granted if I had put all my wealth into gold in 1969 when I got married… I could be rich today. But as I had no wealth at that time, now a moot point.

Pizza Disaster

It is a rainy day in Paradise.  Not the torrential rains that other places get, but the light rain that keeps everything green around here.

So a good evening for a Pizza.  I have the flour and yeast and all the other ingredients.  I was watching a documentary on TV earlier this morning which made me delay the start of the dough.

I was doing the first 10 minutes of kneading when Pat reminded me at 11:30 we had to leave to go to Campbell River for a dental appointment for Reese.  A long affair.

Instead of the first proof of 45 minutes, it was 3 hours.  When we got home the dough was half the size of a basketball.  No problem, I fingering down and put it back in the bowl.

But with our schedule it was another 2 hours before rolling.  When the dough came out it was gorgeous.  I had slightly oiled it to keep from sticking in the bowl.  I rolled it out thin a wafer.  If I had the skill I could have spun it in the air.

We use a sheet of white laminate as our Pizza Peel (paddle).  You can see in the picture.  I took this wonderful thin dough and laid it on the Peel and loaded it with all the ingredients that you would pay big time for in a Pizza place.  Pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, peppers and three kinds of cheese including cubes of Feta.  It was beautiful.

The pizza stone was glowing hot in the oven when Pat and I tried to slide the pizza on.  Unfortunately I had forgotten to flour the Peel before laying on the dough.

We could not slide it off the peel.  I think if we had taken the laminate and turned it over, the guts would have fallen off and the dough would be stuck like glue.  We peeled and pushed and rolled and sprinkled flour like powder on a baby’s butt, and eventually got it onto the stone.  Not a pretty picture.

Still on the end, tasted great although I expect this pizza would have gotten Chandler fired.   I am not too old not to remember a lesson.


A Kitchen Hint

If you are like Patty and me, you like your Parmesan cheese grated or sliced on many of your dishes.  Italian or otherwise.

I add grated Parmesan to omelettes and salads.  Never, ever buy the pre ground Parmesan cheese in the shake out containers. No idea where this was made and with the preservatives, does not taste like Parmesan.

I always start from a block of pure Parmigiano Reggiano.

We buy a block from Costco but it is always too huge to consume so I break it up into wedges.  Put the extra wedges through our vacuum seal bags and save the one piece.

But if you are like us, regardless if you try to keep this last piece in saran and a bag, it turns hard as a rock before it is used up.  Okay, good for grating but getting dried out.

I found a hint on the internet.  Take a piece of cotton cloth.  An old tee shirt many times washed. Soak it in water and wring it out.

Wrap the wedge of Parmesan in a paper towel and then wrap in the cotton.  Put in a sealed bag and keep in the fridge.

Every time you bring the wedge out to sliver or grate, it will be like fresh all the way to the rind.

Never get to old to learn things.

My Baguette

About 25 years ago, Patty and I were in Paris in June.  Sunday morning and as she attended mass (in french) I went in search of a bakery to pick up our breakfast.  I bought a French Baguette and had them slice it in half along with a selection of sliced cheeses.  Met up with Pat and we sat beside a fountain in the sunshine and had a great breakfast.  I love Baguettes.

Well here we are in isolation and I have lots of flour and yeast.  Pat was planning to make her stew last night so I told he I would make a couple of baguettes.

Started at 8:30 in the morning and spent the next 6 hours kneading and resting the dough.  Ended up with two okay baguettes only slightly misshaped. Tasted great.

But I decided that 6 hours of effort and a messy kitchen is not worth it.  I will go back to buying them for a buck and a half at the local bakery.

Still if the world does collapse, I have the knowledge.


Proper Hand Washing

10 years ago we hosted our grandchildren for a summer holiday in Paradise.  In shifts, the grandsons first for two weeks and then the granddaughters.

Sort of a military camp for the kids even though they were young.  We had lots of fun and adventures to beaches and crawling through caves… but each morning Grandma Pat would check to see if they had made their beds when they got up.  Every morning they would wander down for breakfast and after an inspection sent again up to make their beds.

Whenever they came out from play or went to the bathroom on the main floor, Grandma Pat would challenge them if they washed their hands.  Being kids they would run the tap so Pat could hear them run water briefly over their hands.  But Pat would march them back in and make sure they used soap and rinsed while they chanted to themselves “Happy Birthday to You” twice.

By the end of each of the visits we could hear the murmurs when they followed Grandma Pat’s orders in the bathroom next to the kitchen.  I always thought it was so nice.

I very much doubt if the grandkids remember these instructions.  But I do.

We have directions from the Medical General on proper hand washing procedure.  Apparently the polarized molecule in soap that connects grease to water allowing it to be washed down, works for the virus destroying the little knobs like velcro so they can be washed away.

Whenever I come back from outside in the garden, or on my adventurous trips to buy us supplies… I go to the sink and wash my hands and recite Happy Birthday to me two times.