Monday, February 5, 2007

Can it get any colder?!

When I walked downstairs this morning, the indoor/outdoor thermometer read -2.2˚. Happy Monday!

I immediately checked to make certain the pipes in the kitchen had not frozen (they were fine), then I went to the basement to see if the water line into the house had frozen (nope). Life is good. :)

Having mixed the dry ingredients for Banana-Oat Bran muffins the night before, I turned on the oven and left for a bit while it (and the room) came to temperature.

I didn’t do as much baking over the past weekend as I had planned. It was just too cold in that kitchen to stand around, kneading dough and measuring out ingredients.

On Saturday I made Chili, using ground turkey and “burger crumbles” (Morningstar Farms brand). It was very good. Served alongside was light sour cream, shredded Cabot 50% Less Fat Jalapeno Cheddar, and diced avocado. I decided not to make the cornbread, so I steamed corn tortillas to eat with the chili.

The windows in the kitchen were rattling as arctic winds blew, but we ate our dinner in our warm, cozy dining room. It’s a nice room, but we hardly ever use it since there’s a table in the kitchen and the dining room table is a huge 7’ long thing. However, there is a gas fireplace there and I just can’t resist turning it on while we eat. Unfortunately, the thermostat is also in that room, and when the gas stove is on, the furnace isn’t. The second floor, where the bedrooms and bathroom are, was a nippy 55˚ when we retired that evening… I love my new flannel sheets!

On Sunday I ventured outside to fill the birdfeeder and melt a hole in the ice for the goldfish. The ice was very thick, and this took a long time, and I really didn’t enjoy being out there in the single-digit wind chills. For some reason, Spooky wanted out twice, and I just can’t no to the cat, so I also went out with him. It actually took more time to put on all of my outdoor clothing layers than it took for us to go out for a romp around the back patio/ yard. So I spent the rest of the day in the living room, gas fireplace blasting. Dinner was pizza, which required a half-hour preheat of the oven. Yay! Warm kitchen! I had made pizza dough last week and froze half, then actually remembered to remove it from the freezer on Saturday evening. Yesterday’s Pizza DuJour was more traditional than usual (Thai pizza, etc.). I found a good recipe for pizza sauce and “tweaked” it a little, then piled on lowfat cheddar, diced Boca Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, chopped sautéed spinach, and orange bell peppers. The some grated Parmesan on top.

The pizza sauce recipe is really simple and quick. When I started to read ingredient labels at the grocery store (sometimes I really do believe that “ignorance is bliss”—now I hardly buy any prepared food items because of what the ingredient list reveals!), I found that commercial pizza sauces contained corn syrup, lots of salt, and some unpronounceable things. Not what I want to be eating. So this pizza sauce tasted better than anything else I have bought, and it’s a snap to put together.

Which brings us to today. To keep the oven cranking out heat, I made a couple of loaves of 5-Grain bread, and a loaf of Black Bread. That recipe has been hanging around in my “to try” file for months. However, I will have to find something to eat it with as it’s a type of bread with which I am unfamiliar. On vacation last year I had a wonderful sandwich with featured grilled shrimp and a wonderfully nutty Swiss cheese on black bread, but I am having difficulty in remembering the rest of the ingredients. I’ll have to improvise. ;)

I had a craving for chicken biryani , so I made that for dinner. It's a Madhur Jaffrey recipe that I tweaked a little.

I served the biryani with stir-fried cauliflower with black mustard seed and cumin seed. Very good, a nice dinner for a cold night.

So, did you ever see an unlabelled container of something in your freezer, which has been there for months, and realize that you no longer knew what was in it? I really do try to label things, but sometimes I think “well, I don’t have to because I’ll remember this”. Right. I found a few of those containers while searching for my bag of caraway seeds today. One, I am certain, is coconut milk. The other, maybe crushed pineapple? I should thaw them all and create a meal from them!