Cooking discovery nights

We’ve reached the moment during the week that I hate the most.

I hate cooking discoveries... really.
I hate cooking discoveries… really.

It’s the cooking discovery moment.

It happens every week, so I should be better prepared for it… maybe even plan for it or something, but I never do and I just assume that each one will be the last one and we won’t fight like this.

Me and my kitchen that is.

I hate my kitchen during cooking discovery moments too.

Right now, it is 6:13 p.m., on Thursday, June 12. It is the first night I’ve had the chance to cook a real home-cooked meal for my family this week… I don’t know that burrito night on Monday counts, since all I did was sauté up some chicken with a packet of seasonings and slice veggies or open cans of stuff. Okay, so it’s a lame home-cooked dinner, but I’ll still take it.

Anyway… every two weeks, I write up a list of what we will eat for the next fourteen days, noting on the schedule any after school/after work activities that might interfere with a normal cooking and eating pattern. For instance, Monday – I had to run to the grocery store and do shopping since we didn’t get a chance to do it this weekend, and then Tuesday, I had to cover the primary election for the Associated Press, and then Wednesday was Working Woman’s Wednesday, which meant margaritas with my BFF and schmoozing.

So Monday was burritos; Tuesday was Hubbie cooking hot dogs and French fries; Wednesday was salmon and noodles.

this or cooking fish... you chose...
this or cooking fish… you chose…

Like I’m going to hurry home to slave in a kitchen to make fish instead of drinking margaritas, right?

But now it’s Thursday. And it’s supposed to be Pepper Steak night.

My steak is defrosting in the microwave and I’m sautéing up some onions and garlic, and my rice is on the boil, and I’m looking for my green pepper, and…of course, there’s no green pepper.

Which is weird because I know I bought a green pepper. In fact, I know I bought two on Saturday when I was making brats, but I only sliced up one because no one ever eats the green pepper and onion stuff I make to go with my brats except me. I know there should be one left.

It’s not like anyone in this house is going to open up the fridge and say to themselves “Hmmmm, you know what I’d really like right now? Some green pepper… with ranch! That’s a good snack!”

Yes, peanut butter and cheezits is a real thing...
Yes, peanut butter and cheezits is a real thing…

No, these are guys who are more likely to say “What can I snack on that does not require an inordinate amount of work to get out and/or put away?… We’ve got fruit loops, but that would require a bowl, finding a spoon and the act of pouring some milk. Jeez, I might as well cook… there’s tortilla chips and salsa, but that would also require a bowl and getting the tortilla chips off the top of the fridge… there’s peanut butter, crackers in a sealed box, cocoa powder, a half-opened box of Cheezits and a microwavable pizza roll snack box … Okay, peanut butter on Cheezits it is!”

SO…I’m half way through making pepper steak, and I discover we have no green pepper. This is cooking discovery time. I’ve discovered I have no green pepper and will have to discover what to make in its place.

Invariably, this happens at least once every other week. I go to the store as soon as I get off work, grab a few mad dash items and come home to start supper only to find that I am missing the one key ingredient that makes the dish whole.

And because I’m too lazy, or tired, or busy to run back to the store, I have two choices – make something else, or get someone else to do it for me.

Hubbie was exhausted from being in the heat all day so there’s no way I’m making him get up. For a few moments, I actually consider giving my 14-year-old son the keys to my Jeep. Then I remember what it was like when we were practice driving, and realized I was too tired to have my face all over the evening news if he drives through a gas station pump or the new sliding doors of the grocery store.

And just as inevitably, while I’m standing here pondering what the heck to do, someone asks – “What are we having for dinner?” To which, the response is, as always, “I have no idea.”

While I stir the rice and pour myself a glass of wine to calm my nerves, I look through the kitchen cabinet… canned carrots, canned chili, canned pineapple, canned mushrooms, some canned clams, a half-empty package of Arborio rice and four different kinds of cereal, none of them with marshmallows in them.

Not only was dinner going to be difficult, but also the lack of marshmallow cereal meant no dessert. Bummer.

Stir fried beef
Stir fried beef

I decided to improvise and make a stir-fried beef with the mushrooms and pineapple, throwing in some oyster sauce and sesame oil from the refrigerator for good measure.

I had just enough time to pop some frozen egg rolls into the oven and finish the rice while the beef was cooking down its sauce. It was going to be a good dinner after all.

It just doesn’t look right. It looks bland. I think that’s why the Chinese put so many vegetables in their stir-fries, to make them look better. Otherwise, it’s just a pile of drab sitting on a pile of white on your table.

When Hubbie comes in to talk to me and grab a beer, I make one last look for a few more veggies to pop into the dish – just to brighten things up – like a carrot or some thing green.

Hubbie goes outside and grabs summer squash from the garden, but just as quickly he forbids me from putting it in the stir fry saying squash doesn’t GO with stir fry…

It’s discovery night, I’m thinking to myself…. Let’s discover if you’re wrong… But no, he’s right. Squash doesn’t sound like it would go all that well with oyster sauce.

Instead, I turn back to the refrigerator. The carrots have seen better days. The radishes don’t look all that edible, and no one wants limp celery in anything.

Then, as I close the vegetable bins and moved aside the tortillas and cheese,something peaks out at me from the bottom refrigerator shelf and I know I could just scream. I’ve just found exactly what I needed to add.

A green pepper.

Stupid cooking discovery moments…


Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2014

Stop Yelling At ME!!!

I’m so tired of being yelled at by the Internet.

You're all screaming at me and I want it to STOP!!!
You’re all screaming at me and I want it to STOP!!!

Hardly a day has gone by this past week that someone I’ve never met feels like it’s their job to scream at me about what I need to be doing. With exclamation points, capital letters and strategically placed ellipses, they all want to tell me what I’m doing wrong and how great my life would be if I’d just listen to them.

“Ten sandwiches you should stop eating!”

“Eight beers you MUST stop drinking right now!”

“Seventeen recipes you should ABSOLUTELY make for your kids this summer!”

“I couldn’t BELIEVE what this whale did… watch to the end to be truly amazed!”

Frankly, I’m getting a little annoyed by it all. Who gave all these people the right to yell at me? Was it some kind of reverse email hack? Did I click on some “Scream at me from the Ether” button I didn’t know about?

nirvana between two slices of bread... don't tell me what sandwich to eat...
Nirvana between two slices of bread… don’t tell me what sandwich to eat…

I gave in today and clicked on some of those links. I mean, what if my turkey and herbed havarti on dark rye with mayo and Dijon mustard was actually a silent killer, like butter and sour cream or out-of-date egg salad? If it proved worthwhile, I vowed I was going straight to my refrigerator to look for any of the “15 food you must NEVER refrigerate!” posted on Facebook.

But no, it was nothing more than a list of fast food sandwiches you shouldn’t buy – mostly, it appeared, because they were loaded with calories, carbohydrates and cholesterol, and the much healthier option that you can order at the same place instead. Here’s a thought… make your own damn sandwich and stay the hell out of fast food joints – healthier in a month, guaranteed!

The whale video was pretty cool except for the fact that it took forever to figure out what the hell they were looking at, and it’s hard to get past the guy yelling at everyone to let “Sabrina” pet the whales like they were her monkeys or something and “Sabrina” screaming “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God” in response. One minute in and I wanted to smack her and toss her overboard just to see if the mother whale would mistake her for really big krill…

I ignored the 17 recipes post because it looked like something pinteresty and I avoid giving my children organic celery and olive stuffed piñatas at all cost, since I find the actual bursting of the piñata means the green stuff blends with the grass and that’s just a waste of olives. Besides, what kid wants to eat organic anything or some food stuff that isn’t processed to within an inch of its life and covered in a layer of cheese powder? None, that’s who… are you listening Gywneth?

And I completely overlooked the beer post because … well, it’s beer. It’s not a political statement. Sometimes a bottle is just a bottle. And an empty one means I’m a lot happier than I was before.

Instead, I got trapped in one of those headline screaming, warped, clickfests … First it was “Pictures Kim Kardashian Doesn’t Want You to see!” (which was weird, cause usually I don’t give a crap about ANY of the photos Kim Kardashian actually DOES want me to see), and that led to “Where are they now?!?!?! 33 celebrities who have DISAPPEARED!” which of course, led to “18 celebrities without their make up on!” which kinda made me wish they would disappear too.

And none of the posts were worthwhile. None of them were a valuable use of my time – then again, neither is “1,000 ways to die,” one of my guilty television pleasures, so, I can’t really use that comparison… But all of them were nothing more than a diversion from the REAL news of the weekend – who won the Belmont Stakes. 

steve coburnThen, even the OWNER of the damned horse started yelling at me on YouTube! Sure, the dude was pissed, but dang… one minute I’m watching the race results and the next “It’s not fair… this is the coward’s way out!…” Whatevs, dude! Tone it down a bit! I know you’re upset and all, but get a grip! Even Meatloaf said “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

We’ve got YouTube videos of Gain McInness ranting on Fox News about Neil DeGrasse Tyson. We’ve got Rush Limbaugh on Vine spewing out venom about whatever seems to pop into his head. We’ve got Alex Jones screaming in podcasts that the government is actually covering up the REAL unemployment numbers and that it’s all part of an insidious plot to take over the country.

Really, guys, quit yelling!!! Ease up on all of us a bit. It’s all just a bit much. I guess they think that they have to yell to get our attention, to make their point, to vent their inexhaustible supply of bile. But it’s tiring. It just wears me down and turns me off.

You too, Interwebs, really, stop yelling at me. I’m not going to pay any more attention to you if you’re talking to me in all caps 16-point Helvetica Bold Italic font, than I am if you’re whispering in 10-point Brush Cursive Script.

And anyone who knows me knows that telling me what to do is a sure fire way to get me to do just the opposite. It’s just not going to work anymore.

But… if you insist, by all means, keep yelling at me. Keep telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing, how I must or mustn’t do yet one more thing, or how I absoluely positively have to do something right now.

Don’t say I didn’t tell you what would happen.

Now, let’s see – anybody got some of those 8 beers? I’m a little thirsty.

Maybe I’ll just yell into the kitchen and get someone to bring me one…