Burnt food, Potato Soup, and Time management
I am sitting in the living room waiting for the third Presidential debate to start. Most people who know me well, know that I am a political junkie. Actually, as I wrote that I realized that I am not a real junkie in that at times, I tire of the whole mess and have to ignore it, or I would lose my sanity.
There are times when I will go several days or even a week without listening or watching my favorite political shows, however, I will then hear something or read something in the newspaper and have to research and try to find out what happened and what the implications are.
Again this month, time has gone by, and I spend so much time doing the day-to-day chores that I do not have time to do some of the personal things that I have been wanting to work on. It is really frustrating, because I only have one class right now and I had anticipated having more free time.
One thing that has taken my time is that my son, Felipe, is working on his Eagle Scout project. It will be on Saturday. There has been a lot of paper work, visiting with individuals, going to meetings, etc. This is the third project he submitted…the first two did not work out.
I will be so happy when the whole thing is over. I have had to nag, beg, and pester him as he is not as motivated as he could be to finish his project. Then we will have only David to finish his Eagle. He has all of merit badges, so he is further ahead than Felipe. Felipe turns 18 in November, and he must be done before then. I think that deadline has been a stress factor.
This is the type of thing that is simply part of life and simply has to be dealt with. This happens to all of us. We plan to use our spare time for something…we anticipate that time…then life hits us with something else that robs us of that time.
Today is Wednesday, and I had started this blog on Monday. Between cooking, homeschooling, laundry, work, taking care of my mom, and volunteering to help someone…two days just went by and I didn’t write a thing.
This afternoon, while cooking (and pondering while doing so), I remembered a strategy that I used while I was working on my doctorate, and realized that I was going to have to incorporate it again in order to have time to write: NOT Be at home.
When I am at home, people call me, people come over, I have to take calls, I end up cleaning or gardening, and so on.
When I was in school, I would disappear at times. I would go to the library or to a restaurant that has WIFI, turn off my phone and just stay there until I had the reading or assignment done.
When my children were young, I would usually go to a place that had a play area and would let them play while I read or wrote.
I hadn’t disappeared in such a long time, I had forgotten about doing so. But my children are old enough now, that I could easily take one day a week, and go someplace to write all day.
I could leave them with their school assignments and have lasagna or something similar already prepared for dinner. Or better yet, they can be in charge of dinner that day.
I am starting next week. Yea! I am excited and motivated again, which feels so much better than being frustrated, which I was.
I made chicken yesterday. It was thighs that were frozen. I put them (frozen) in a pan with some water, dehydrated onion, powdered garlic, 2 pkgs of Goya seasoning, salt, and pepper. I put a lid on and just let them cook until the water was mostly cooked off. I left some for broth to put on the rice.
I made Spanish Rice and used dehydrated onion and probably 2 Tablespoons of the Knorr Chicken bouillon with tomato.
Both came out really well.
On Monday, we made Mashed potatoes:
I use Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russets for mashed potatoes, but as russets are usually cheaper, I use then as well (but I peel them).
I like to use Russets for baking and French fries. Gold’s or the red potatoes are better in stews, soups, mashed potatoes, or for roasting.
5 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled if you want (I do not peel them, but cut out any bruises or deep eyes) and then I cut them length-wise in half…cut the two halves, length-wise in half. Then take the four long halves and chop them cross-wise into pieces about half an inch long. (Diced)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
½ stick of real butter
½ cup milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Put potatoes into a saucepan. Add the teaspoon of salt. Add cold water until the potatoes are covered. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook on a simmering boil 15-20 minutes, or until done - a fork can easily be poked through them. You want them soft, but not mushy.
Drain water from potatoes. Put hot potatoes into a bowl or if you don’t want to wash as many dishes…put them back into the same pan.
Add the cream, butter, and milk. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until well mashed. Some people use a hand mixer to make them really creamy, but fake potatoes are really creamy…to me, homemade mashed potatoes will always have some pieces of unmashed potato, and that is perfectly fine. Also, if you over-beat them, your potatoes will get gluey.
I like the metal potato mashers that go back and forth best. The ones that have little squares don’t seem to work as well, but each person is different. The plastic ones aren’t as strong.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
I always make more potatoes than we need so I can make potato Soup from the leftovers (which I did…as it is one of my mom’s favorite foods).
I just add milk to the leftover potatoes (another reason to just return the potatoes to the pan instead of using a serving dish…Thanksgiving and holidays are the only time I use serving dishes).
Add enough milk to completely cover the mashed potatoes by about an inch and ½.
Then add a little dehydrated onion.
I take my hands and squish the potatoes and milk together. It is easier than trying to stir them to mix them.
Then I bring the mixture to a boil.
I take a glass cup, fill it about ½ to ¾’s full with COLD water, and add 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Use a fork to briskly stir until dissolved.
Once the potato soup is boiling (stir it constantly as it will burn very easily…as the potatoes are starchy they stick really easy to the bottom…a nonstick pot is best).
Right before you add the corn starch mixture…stir it again as it settles sometimes. Then pour it into the boiling soup.
Boil the soup for another minute or two, stirring constantly, and you will feel and see it thicken right before your eyes.
Corn starch is great!! You can thicken anything and turn a broth into gravy just by this one little step.
For example, the chicken I made…I could have done this to thicken the broth.
Just remember to always use COLD water to first mix the corn starch and do not add corn starch directly to a broth (or grease) as it will just clump together and you will have lumpy soup or gravy.
You can replace the water with milk if you want the broth or gravy to be more white or creamy.
Add this to leftover sausage/bacon/turkey/fried chicken/fried steak grease and viola…you have gravy.
I never finished about Monday. We made hamburger gravy to eat with the mashed potatoes and I cheated by simply cooking some hamburger then adding cream of mushroom soup to make a gravy.
A very simple, but yummy food that small children, especially, like.
And today I cooked bacon, and potatoes and eggs. We probably eat eggs for dinner at least once per week.
I made Poppy seed bread last week and had to leave while the last batch was in the oven. I asked Felipe to watch it…showed him how to stick a toothpick in it to tell when done and told him it probably only need 3-5 more minutes of baking.
Well, needless to say, he left it and they burned. Then another day, I left stew meat cooking and explained to David exactly what to do…he left the room and burned the meat…big time.
He called me wanting to know how to turn off the alarm as it had set off the smoke detectors which are connected to our central alarm.
The house smelled of burnt meat for hours. We finally opened windows and turned on the attic fan, even though it was chilly, just to rid the house of the smell.
I have done the same…so I can’t really say anything. It’s part of learning how to cook (and parenting) and growing up…although, I must admit…I have burned more things as an adult than I ever did as a child…hummm…is that why they say to never leave the kitchen?