A Week of Triumph and Failure

So I’ve “fallen back” in time, which I (and I believe the rest of the world) hate with a passion. It gets dark so early! Real Simple advises some practical home maintenance advise to complete on this day. I did a couple of the suggested items- changing a/c filters and cleaning my coffee maker. By the way, I love Tom Samet on Instagram. Check him out.

I’ve packed up the Halloween stuff and am preparing for Thanksgiving at my house. The rest of the country, apparently, hasn’t gotten the message that the Holiday season starts AFTER Thanksgiving. I’m totally fine with getting a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, but Christmas music before Halloween? Sacrilegious!

On my way back from Tallahassee, many stations (like 12) were already playing Christmas music and when I went to Home Depot for herbs and flowers for my garden Sunday, they had poinsettias on sale for $1.98 (normally $4.98). It was a really good deal, but I just couldn’t do it!

I refuse to buy a poinsettia before Thanksgiving. It’s just not right.

Me, to apparently no one listening in Home Depot.

I was in a rush to get home from Tallahassee last week, so just ate at the Turnpike Station on the way home, instead of my normal Cracker Barrel. I had THE BEST Wendy’s Single hamburger of my life! It came with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and was jam-packed with extra pickles. That night, I was tired, so Zeke and I just ate Trader Joe’s Mac ‘N Cheese Bites ($3.99) for dinner.

I served them with three sauces- B-B-Q, Ranch and a Spicy Green Sauce. They took 20 minutes in the air fryer and were pretty good, but you need to let them cool a minute before eating, otherwise they fall apart. Number two, I wouldn’t exactly call them dinner, more of an appetizer, but with a glass of wine and Jeopardy, it was fine for a Tuesday night.

I love Jeopardy and have for many years. I always try respond to the answers (in the form of a question) and enjoy competing along with the contestants, from the comfort of my couch. But lately, I’ve been doing awful. I don’t know if the questions are getting harder or I’m getting stupider, but I’m finding it extremely difficult to answer many questions correctly. I believe my peak Jeopardy smartness has passed me by.

A Really Big deal!

I finally got to pick up Phoenix from school and he rode in my Mini Cooper for the first time! I bought the car specifically so I could fit all three grandsons in it, but I’ve never had more than one (and it’s always been Wyatt), so I was thrilled to pick him up at his cute day care in the Gables and drive him home. I went to his class and when he saw me he said “Gigi”; my heart melted. He came with me happily. I think I had street cred because Wyatt was with me and we listened to Kidz Bop on the radio and bopped all the way home.

As I unpacked groceries, Phoenix was playing with his basket of toys. Or so I thought. I looked over and he had something in his mouth. Upon further inspection, I realized it was pebbles from my terrarium! I screamed, fished the rocks out and fed him yogurt. I thought he was out of the “eating inedible objects” stage, but apparently not. It was kind of ironic when I later gave him a bite of apple cake and he spit out a toasted nut he disliked. I’m thinking “You eat rocks, but spit out nuts?” Typical toddler- totally unpredictable.

Exhausted after the kids left, Zeke made a Hello Fresh meal Emma had given us. It was Pork Chops with Brussel Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes and it was really good (although the brussels were overcooked). They had a good idea with the mashed potatoes, which is to add a little of the water the potato cooked in, back into the potatoes (kind of like how you do with pasta water). They came out great and it was the perfect amount of food.

Two Cakes and a Football Game

I had a couple baking failures this week.

I attempted to make an Apple Cake for my son Christopher’s birthday. It was a cake I used to make for him when he was little, but hadn’t made it in a while. I was pretty proud of myself for making the cake so quickly and was about to scrape the batter into my ancient Bundt pan, when I spied one lone egg on the counter. I’d forgotten to mix it in! I tried mixing it in after the fact, but it was a fail. The cake fell apart. It still tasted good, so I cut it up and put it into cupcake liners to serve at a meeting the next day. I made Christopher another cake, this time with the egg beaten in at the right time, and it turned out fine.

I found out I had to bring a cake to a meeting that same day at the last minute, so I made a Pumpkin Ring Cake. It’s an easy recipe made with Bisquick, eggs, butter, canned pumpkin puree and spices. It all went well (although the butter wasn’t quite room temp), until I glazed it. The glaze was too thin and the powdered sugar hadn’t quite dissolved, leaving little white specks of sugar in the glaze. It still tasted good. Oh well!

Football Games are not a Date Night!

When I first started dating Zeke, I told him I needed a date night each week. With three little girls and no time to ourselves, this was non-negotiable. All went fine that first year, until the Fall rolled around and UM Football Season started. Zeke and his Dad had Season tickets and our “date nights” usually consisted of going to UM Football Games.

I told him I didn’t consider that a proper “date night” and I feel that’s even more true now, since we Tailgate most games. This consists of me Cooking, Packing, driving to Hard Rock while being forced to listen to Sports Radio, Unpacking, setting up the tent, table, chairs, and then breaking it all down to go to the football game. By this time, I’m typically semi-exhausted. A cocktail or two helps relieve the pain, but not quite entirely.

Now, if you go to a movie, you know what kind of show you’re going to see- a Comedy, Drama or Horror Flick, but with U.M. (especially this year) you never know what kind of entertainment (or torture) is in store. Come to think of it, U.M. games have often been comic, tragic and horrifying, all at the same time lately. We’ve been leaving at halftime and then there’s the long, sad trip home, again listening to Sports Radio. Again, not my idea of a date night.

This week was Homecoming and the big rivalry game against F.S.U. Emma got dibs on these coveted ticket at the beginning of the season, arguing that she’s the only child who’s attended both F.S.U. AND U.M. (except for Lauren, who is out of town).

We decided on a Middle Eastern Theme for our Tailgate, so I made Baba Ghahoush with pita chips and veggies and my Aunt Emma’s Persian Chicken Kabobs with bell peppers and onions on skewers. Zeke made Kofta, which is ground beef and lamb with spices, wrapped around a skewer and grilled. He served it with Tzatziki sauce and I made an Orzo Salad with sun dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives as a side.

It was all good, much better than the game, in fact, which was quite awful. U.M. lost 3 to 45! I guess football’s like baking cakes- you can’t win ’em all. I listened to a Podcast this week I liked called Sporkful, about cooking. This one was with Domestic Goddess and British cook Nigella Lawson. Speaking of domestic goddesses, Ina Garten’s new Cookbook- Go-To Dinners– is out, her 13th. My friend Martha always gives me her cookbook for my birthday and I’m looking forward to this latest. Her recipes are reliable, delicious and not too complicated.

Julie Powell, the food writer who blogged about trying Julia Child’s recipes from The Art of French Cooking which led to the Julie & Julia movie, recently passed away of a heart attack at the young age of 49. I really enjoyed that movie, especially the parts about Julia Child. I started watching From Scratch, a Netflix movie a friend recommended about a student in Florence who falls for a chef. Zeke wasn’t into it, saying it was like “Emily in Paris”, only in Italy. I guess I’ll finish it on my own!

You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting, when the dealings done.

Kenny Rodgers, The Gambler

Up Next: Apple Cake with Hot Caramel Sauce

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: