Monday, December 20, 2010

Change of plans, from cooking to baking

4:10 p.m. Today's project was to prepare my dinner ingredients for this evening. We were expecting our future in-laws, the Ilies, over for dinner. I'd decided on a chicken pot pie, so I went about chunking and parboiling potatoes, broccoli and carrots, and then cutting up the turkey white meat I had kept frozen from Thanksgiving and making gravy. (I just munch the dark meat for a snack).

My daughter Mrs. Heather Love came over for a morning visit while I was in the kitchen, so she learned the ingredients I put in my mulled cider (clove-studded orange, apple juice, cinnamon stick, and a sprinkle of nutmeg). Heather had made some cider for her annual Christmas party the previous weekend, and exclaimed, "Nutmeg! That's the spice I was missing!" We also talked about a side dish she can make for Christmas Eve at our house this year, to go with my French Market Soup. My Chicken Chile Cheese Bread should do the trick, so I wrote down the ingredients for her. (Recipes follow).

As I was in line at Ralphs with two more pie crusts and other necessities, Rodica Ilie called me with a sudden change of plans. Her brother, whom she'd not seen for 30 years, was going to be at their house at the same time we would be sitting down for dinner, so we rescheduled for tomorrow. "I'll just bake cookies instead," I told her, as the Lord would want me to be gracious about a development that cannot be helped. In Ephesians 4:1, we are exhorted "to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

So we refocused on getting the dogs' crates into the garage and drying them off, thanks to my lame idea of moving the crates out to the patio to begin with, so there'd be room for company this evening to visit in the family room if they chose to. I neglected to remind Steve to get a waterproof tarp to put over the crates, so their towels and crates were soaked! What a commotion in the rain, with Steve dragging the crates to the back garage door, me figuring out how the crates were designed to collapse and could be moved by unlatching sets of hooks, and finally setting them back up and drying them! Now Bailey and Jada are doing nicely in the garage and Heidi's house guest Nick, a friend from Arizona, is here with Heidi and Pavel visiting. Looks like I'll be baking this evening: "Forgotten Cookies" mint meringues and Czechoslovakian Strawberry Bars. It's a perfect pairing: you use two yolks in one cookie and two whites in the other!

And, my pot pie just needs to be assembled tomorrow, so perhaps I can take a Christmas gift to my son, who is now in the 2nd phase of his VA treatment program. The Lord has it all under control!

Chicken Chili Cheese Bread

Cut a large French bread loaf in half lengthwise. Spread each half with a mixture of 2 sticks softened real butter, 2 cups shredded jack or cheddar cheese, or a mix of the two; red salsa to taste, and 2 large cans of chicken. (Or 2 cups cooked cubed). Toast 350 degrees on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes or until cheese melts and gets lightly browned. Serves 12

French Market Soup

Wash a 2 c. bag of mixed beans, and let soak overnight, covered with water and 1 T salt. Drain and add 3 c. water, 1 hamhock, 2 bay leaves. Simmer 3 hours. Add 1 quart tomatoes, 2 onions, 2 garlic cloves, 6 stalks chopped celery. Add salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Simmer 1-1/2 hours uncovered. Add 1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, 4-5 chicken thighs. Cook until chicken falls off the bones. Remove bones and return meat to soup. Serves 8-10.

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