Happy Birthday Grandma!

It was Mr. Man’s mother’s birthday, so I fixed dinner for the family and transported it 30 miles. I get ridiculed for my ginormous collection of cooking paraphernalia, but I really do use all this stuff. I have a group of three serving crock pots, a big crock pot, two small crock pots, and two teeny tiny ones. And I need them all, till death do us part.

I also have one of those portable coolers that keep food hot or cold, depending on which way you flip the switch. I imagine they’re not much good at cooling, but I have ice chests for that. I need it to keep food hot, sometimes for hours.

So I put some salisbury steak and mashed potatoes in the heater. Filled the bank of crock pots with three different veggies, and we had our own version of Meals on Wheels.

Seems fitting I let Grandma choose the cake, since it was her 89th birthday and you should get some perks for being that old. (I don’t think there are very many, just sayin’.) She picked a good old fashioned carrot cake, which luckily everyone likes. So…I pass the recipe on for posterity.

On Men In The Kitchen

I welcome men in the kitchen. I welcome anyone who wants to cook for me because I hate to cook. If the dog could whip up breakfast for me, I’d let him go for it.

Unfortunately, around here Man + Kitchen = Disaster. Today I have no work I have to finish, so I thought I’d make some cookies. Well, Mr. Man got a bug up his nose to make cinnamon rolls last weekend, and I’ll have to say they were pretty good. Better than mine. BUT…..Bobby Flay he’s not.

He tried to mix up a giant batch of bread dough using a little hand mixer. Are you kidding me? Even the Cuisinart couldn’t handle it so he had to give up and knead the dough by hand.

And once that little hand mixer was out of sight, it was also out of mind. (We all know men simply cannot multitask.)

So today I took out the mixer to whip up some sugar cookie dough and this is what I found…

I had to pick dried up bread dough out of the holes before I could stick the beaters in. Sigh!

And it’s a good thing I’m pretty rational, or I’d swear we had a Poltergeist in the house. I’m always finding cabinet doors standing wide open. And every time I need to use something like a measuring spoon, it becomes a treasure hunt. Because even though those spoons have been kept in the same drawer for years, somehow they materialize in random drawers with no rhyme or reason. And what’s the aversion to washing a pot or pan by hand? If it won’t fit in the dishwasher, Mr. Man WON’T wash it.

OK, I feel better now…..

Back to making sugar cookies, in January, using a Christmas tree cookie cutter. Because I put all my cookie cutters away. Somewhere. In what I’m sure is a very good place. And someday I’m going to figure out just where that place is.


For The Gluten Free

If you’re eating gluten free just because you think it’s healthier, I say forget about it. None of us are getting out of here alive so we might as eat, drink and be merry.

However, we do have a family member with celiac disease, which is a cruel fate for an Italian. Barilla makes a pretty good gluten free pasta, but that doesn’t help when it’s holiday time and nothing will do but homemade ravioli. So I found this gluten free pasta recipe and used it to make some darn good ravioli, and I didn’t even have to say so myself.

One of these days I’ll get around to publishing our family’s ravioli recipe. They’re really not that hard to make. But in the meantime I’ll share my recipe for gluten free pasta.

The dough has a different texture, rather slippery when wet. Without gluten, it lacks elasticity, which makes it really impossible to make ravoilis the way we usually do. You really need to make raviolis one at a time when using gluten free pasta. Just wet the edges of both pieces of pasta and crimp well.

OR you can roll out your dough, spread on the filling, then roll up jelly roll style. Wrap the roll in cheesecloth, tie the ends so it looks like a big firecracker, and drop it boiling water to cook. When done, cut in slices and top with your sauce and cheese. Looks different, but is easier and tastes just the same. In this case it would be called “Rotolo Italiano”. (Italian Roll)

The Ham That Wouldn’t Die

Curse of the Holiday Ham. We gave half of it away. We made ham, biscuits and gravy. We made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I think the ham was somehow growing in the refrigerator when we weren’t looking.

Today I decided to kill the beast once and for all, so I made some crock pot split pea soup. I really should make soup more often, but I’m pretty lazy. This is about as effortless as it gets and I can barely manage that. But, for all of us who set the bar really low when it comes to effort made in the kitchen, or for those who just need one more way to kill off that holiday ham, split pea soup is about as easy as it gets.