Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kitchen Musings

1. We spend about $1000 a month on groceries (and cleaning supplies that I hardly have time to use and don’t know why I am always replacing.) Every week one of us makes a run to the wholesale club and to Walmart. And then there are still multiple trips to the market down the road for the daily essentials like fresh vegetables and whatever thingie I forgot that I must have for tonight’s dinner.


Oh wait, that’s the problem. Every night I stare blankly at the monthly menu planner clinging to refrigerator door. Tonight’s imaginary dinner sounds delicious, as does last night’s and tomorrow’s. I wander back and forth between the refrigerator/freezer and the pantry, opening one and then the other, making mental notes of the possibilities and... I am stymied. How come there is never anything to make for dinner in there?

2. Many many moons ago an old witch gave me a heavy, short, fat, square, green glass bottle filled with some sort of potion that was supposed to magically make my step-daughter TK’s mother’s boyfriend get hit by a bus become a nice guy. I dumped out the liquid spell on the back lawn (sorry TK) and then used that beautiful bottle to house my dishwashing soap all these years. About a month ago Kimani climbed up on the counter and smashed it on my granite countertop. Then for good measure she tossed what was left of it onto the floor where it shattered some more. That green bottle broke into a million sparkling pieces that took me forever to clean up. Not one of them landed on Kimani.

And now I can’t do dishes anymore. Ok, well, I can’t peacefully do dishes... because I have nothing to store my soap in. I keep having to drag out an oversized bottle of Dawn (Remember the trips to the wholesale club?) from underneath my sink. I squirt some into whatever small dish is handy and I use that to wash the daily pileup. Every time I have to dip my sponge into the dish, I wonder what other people do with their dishsoap. I think about those plastic pump bottles that always have dried up soap on them, like a used taper candle. I don’t want one of those.

3. Last Christmas my bestie got me a pressure cooker set. It saved my life. Ok, that is a slight exaggeration but it saved my sanity which is tightly tied to my life so yeah. I have since learned that almost everyone I know is afraid of pressure cookers. Have no fear, this is not your mother’s pressure cooker, it’s your great-grandmother’s. (During and after WWII pressure cooker manufactures, of which there were quite a number, started using cheap and available light-weight aluminum; and the blow ups followed. Those days are over. Pressure cookers are well-made once again.)


It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but pressure cooking is definitely the way to go for about half of what I cook. (Which according to #1 isn’t much these days.) At first it was all about the time-saving. Every evening, hundreds of (ok five) hungry children start whining and I realize it is already 5:08 p.m. and I have not even started staring blankly at the menu planner yet. What to do, what to do? It is so hard to think with Autumn tearfully clinging to my leg begging for food. On autopilot I get out the pressure cooker and my favorite cookbook and a half hour later they all love me again. Now it is my go-to pan because food made in a pressure cooker tastes better. It’s true. You should get one.

4. Pan drippings, what the heck do you do with them? At least once a week I end up with a pan (usually my pressure cooker) that has an inch or so of left over meat juice. It is too slimy to dump down the drain and too watery to dump in the garbage. I could sop it up with handfuls of paper towels and dump it in the trash, or leave it overnight and hope it congeals enough to scrape it into the trash, or scrounge up an empty carton or can to pour it in before placing it carefully in the garbage bin... or I could toss it on the back lawn (in the same place as the magic potion) but then the coyotes might smell it and come eat our cat. (That happened once. It is a horrible story, a funny and horrible story which I will eventually be forced to tell you because some cat lover out there now thinks I am evil for using the word funny to describe a story in which the family cat gets offed by a coyote. When you laugh during the funny part you will forgive me.)

Whenever I am faced with the grease dilemma, I remember that I really want to buy a grease separator. I have this fantasy that if I can get the actual fat out of the pan, the rest can be safely poured down the drain with a swish of scalding hot water. The grease will thicken up nicely and can live out the rest of its life in a paper towel in the local landfill. Is this possible? Do any of you have a grease separator? If not, what do you do with your pan leftovers?


Anonymous said...

my dad would get up in the middle of the night, spread the grease on a triscuit top it with horse radish and eat it

Melissa said...

I do the same many trips to the store every week. I've never bothered with a menu plan, because I know I would use it about the same as you do.

Our pan drippings get put in a glass jar, stored on the stove, until the jar get full-ish or stinks too much, whichever comes first.

Anonymous said...

For dish soap, we used to use an olive oil bottle. Not like the bottle it comes in when you purchase it at the store, but like a slightly fancier empty glass bottle you get at a store like pier one or something.

Anonymous said...

If there where yummy flavors in the pan, then you can cook your next thing in it.

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