Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monsoon season in Indiana

In the summer, my attention turns from the house to the outdoors.
I garden until dark.
Until past dark.
I garden in the rain.
I'm certain people who drive by think I must be crazy.
If I am crazy, gardening is wonderful therapy.
When the ground is soaked, the weeds pull easily from its grasp.
It has been raining each and every day.
Yesterday, thunder and lightening overhead
as I pulled grass from the sidewalk's edge.
 The cat lay nearby under a bush.
He and I both dry beneath the dense leaves above.
Finally, after several strikes of lightening, I decided it was time to go in.
 The rain fell in sheets.
When I turned to look back at my garden, 
I went into the house to get my camera.
 When I moved here five years ago,
I claimed this patch of yard that was once grass.
Now, very little grass remains.
I love the rain.
My plants love it, too.
I don't understand why people often complain about rain
 when without it,
we couldn't grow crops
or have beautiful gardens.
The rain to the wind said,
You push and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”

Robert Frost

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't tell Chef Dave

Chef Dave with our cooking class at etc for the home
Remember Chef Dave?
My new friend who taught me how to rock the knife at etc for the home?
Last night I made dish for dinner from a recipe I found in a
Walmart flyer.
It is called  Amazing Pizza Casserole.
Amazing Pizza Casserole
Here is the Walmart version:
12 oz bag of No Yolks Egg Noodles
1 jar (2 lb, 13 oz. pasta sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1.5 lbs ground beef
3.5 oz. package of pepperoni
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil noodles & drain. Brown the mean & drain. In 9"x13" baking dish, spread thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom, then layer half of the noodles, half of the ground beef, half of the remaining pasta sauce, and half of the cheese. Then layer rest of noodles, meat sauce, cheese, and top with pepperoni. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Easy, peasy - right?
I am at the glorious freed-up stage in my life and I find it difficult to stick to a recipe.  I cannot do it. I think to myself "oooohhhh, what if we add this, what if we add that? 

I started out by lightly greasing my old aluminum cake pan with olive oil. I know pepperoni is greasy, but I thought the noodles still might stick. I made small layers of noodles, meats, cheese. I added 2 small cans of mushrooms stems and pieces. (Fresh mushroom would have tasted great, but I did not have any on hand.) I sprinkled garlic salt, oregano and basil over it all. The package of sausage I picked up was Kroger brand sweet Italian and had fennel seeds in it. I brown my sausage by cooking it, four minutes at a time, then using my favorite kitchen tool, the Pampered Chef chopper thing...

It took about ten minutes to brown the sausage. (I just can't do ground beef.) Then I quartered the pepperoni rounds. I just sprinkled cheese here and there and don't believe I used three cups of cheese. I do like sauce and I used about one and a half jars of pasta sauce. (I think the next time I make this I might forgo the layers and mix it all up, put it in the pan and top with cheese.)
Simple, good fare on a summer's stormy evening
Let me say this about the Barefoot Refresh Perfectly Pink California wine. Doug brought it home one night on a whim and it is delish. He couldn't remember where he picked it up and I started searching for it. It is a teensy bit bubbly. Here is the description from Barefoot:
What happens when Grenache and Moscato go toe-to-toe? A lively blend of mandarin orange and peach notes complemented by flavors of raspberry and cherry. Enjoy over ice.
Not too bad for a $7.99 bottle of wine. (It is a light summer wine and not too strong.)
So there you have it, my cheap inexpensive meal and wine for a (very) stormy summer night. This recipe makes a ton of food and it would be a great dish to take to a carry-in. And, it tastes even better warmed up the second time!
But, don't tell Chef Dave!

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