Monday, November 11, 2013

A Watched Pot...

Well, it does boil.  Sometimes if I want to make pasta right on time, I'll heat the water to boiling ahead of time, then turn off the burner.  The water holds heat quite well, so fifteen minutes before dinnertime, you can just reheat the water back to boiling and add in the pasta.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nothing on a Bad Day

Sometimes when I'm having a bad day I listen to this song and I feel better.

I think someone called it the anthem for nihilism.

Think what you will.

Thanksgiving Trial Run

So Thanksgiving is definitely coming up.

There are a few things I want to try this year, but Lil' Sis and Bro are sticklers for tradition.  So I'm gonna try out these recipes ahead of time, just to be sure.

In lieu of stuffing, savory bread pudding. Cranberry-Pecan bread pudding, to be exact.

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of turkey.  Chicken is so much juicier and more flavorful, and duck is even more so.  Game hens are adorable.  Turkey is just... massive and unwieldy and difficult to fry.  I've become rather disillusioned with whole roast turkey over the years.

I will be making Zuni-style roast chicken tomorrow night.  What makes a roast chicken Zuni roast chicken?  You need a small chicken, no bigger than 3.5lbs, you need to season it at least a day in advance, and roast it first at a high temperature before finishing it off at a lower temperature.

I'm cooking using these recipes; here, and here, and here.  My bird is thoroughly dried and seasoned.  I've got salt, black and white pepper, as well as a little garlic powder on the skin, and tiny bundles of sage, rosemary and thyme under the skin.  We'll see how it turns out tomorrow.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bacon Fat -- tasty but bad for you

So save the fat when you cook bacon, because the stuff you cook in it will taste awesome.  Let it be said that bacon is not the healthiest of fats to consume.  But once in a while, use it for a special occasion.  It will knock your socks off!

My recommendation for collecting this precious stuff - cook your bacon in a baking pan lined with aluminum foil, with the edges folded up so the runny grease stays put.  Then, when the bacon is cooked, remove the strips with tongs to a folded wad of paper towels to blot off the excess fat.  Then simply pick up the foil and pour off the grease into a small cup, cover with cling wrap, and refrigerate.

What to do?  Cook eggs in it.  Or you can do what my mother did last night, and fried up Yukon Gold potatoes with rosemary.  Delish.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Smoky Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese and Bacon Sandwiches

On a cold day, sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup and a hot sandwich can be so satisfying.  And the classic soup-and-sandwich combo to beat them all is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

That's the stuff.

But canned tomato soup has so many additives… tons of sugar you can’t taste over the tomato, loads of salt you don’t need, and all kinds of preservatives.  The answer then is to make it at home.  There are many different ways to make homemade tomato soup, from roasting the tomatoes and pureeing them, canned smashed tomatoes, it goes on.  But I’ve found the easiest, fastest, yet nevertheless quite pleasing method is to use a can of straight up tomato paste.  There’s something beautiful about taking a ton of tomatoes, pureeing them and then boiling them into a concentrated paste that can be canned and kept on a shelf indefinitely, all while adding nothing extra.  That’s right, tomato paste is nothing but plain ol’ TOMATO.  And then not having to do it yourself; you can buy this stuff in any grocery store worth its salt.

I must admit this recipe did not pop out of my head like Athena did Zeus, but formed after reading three different recipes (the originating sites of which I cannot recall), and much fiddling with various spices and retasting.

Most of those recipes agreed that tomato paste is good, and that there should be milk, and maybe water, and baking soda to keep the milk from curdling.  I’m honestly not sure how anyone can taste slightly curdled milk beneath all that tomato, but maybe they’re supertasters or maybe they’re just boiling the soup too much.  Honestly, people.  You don’t boil tomato soup.  You heat it until it’s warm enough to consume, no more.

They also concurred there should definitely be a little sugar, and always a little salt, and you can add garlic powder and pepper if you like that thing, you wild crazy person you.  They kept mentioning that part.  I guess some people don’t go beyond salt and pepper.  How sad for them.

Well, I like milk.  But I am of the opinion that water can almost always be substituted for broth or something more flavorful when it comes to soup.  But we really don’t need broth or stock for plain old thick tomato soup.  Milk alone will do.  I found a one parts tomato paste to two parts milk is a winning combo and needs no further fiddling with beyond spices.  That’s where the fun starts – and the seasoning is what makes this soup recipe unique.

At first I went only with salt, sugar, garlic powder and black pepper.  But garlic goes hand in hand with onion powder in many savory things, just as I prefer to match black pepper with white.

I like pairing celery with tomato – from my Ma’s Bloody Marys probably, so I tried a dash of celery salt, which I liked, personally, but is not completely necessary for the soup.

But the seasonings that make this soup special are the cayenne, instant smoke, and smoked paprika.  To me a food should not just taste how it should – it should also taste how it looks.  Tomato soup to me should have a warm, red flavor.  In this case I think it should have a little fire to it – hence the cayenne and paprika.  And with fire comes smoke.  Somewhere in one of my gourmet magazines – either Bon Appetit or Gourmet Magazine or Food & Wine, I can’t remember, had a cold tomato soup that requuired no chilling.  It was very good stuff, and asked for smoked olive oil, which is difficult to get ahold of.  Barring that, it recommended using a teensy bit of instant smoke, and I’ve been experimenting with that strange substance ever since.  I suppose you could use normal paprika if you don’t want to buy the smoked stuff, but I like mine smoked for this dish.

It’s really important you only use a smidgen of instant smoke.  I can’t state this enough.  I received a gag gift several Christmases ago for my stocking – a measuring spoon set of miniscule proportions, the smallest being a drop, and that is what I use to measure out my instant smoke – a drop.  Instant smoke is powerful stuff – being the liquid that condenses from wood smoke, and it imparts a strong smoky flavor that can be overwhelming if used too liberally.  If you’re not a huge fan of smoke, only use a single drop of this liquid, or you might be unhappy with the result.

Now for the sandwiches.  Kolby Jack makes for the best cheese melts.  It melts nicely, and has a great flavor, not too sharp, not too mild.  Because we have a smoky note to our soup, I like to add a slight smokiness to the sandwiches as well to tie them together.  Perhaps smoked cheese would work, but everything is better with bacon, therefore we will use smoked thick-cut bacon in this recipe.

I think melted sandwiches are best done Panini-style, but not everyone has a Panini press, and even though I have one I tend to burn my sandwiches in it.  For me, the fork and spatula method works best for me.  As you cook the bread in the hot skillet, you use the fork and spatula to press the buttered bread onto the hot metal, thus making a do-it-yourself Panini without all the do-dads.

This recipe will make two servings.  That's one serving.

You will need:
6oz can of Tomato paste – pure, no extra ingredients
Low fat milk – two 6oz can’s worth
1 tsp Sugar
½ tsp salt
 ¼ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepper
1-2 drops instant smoke to taste
Light shake of cayenne pepper to taste
Shake of smoked paprika
Light shake of celery salt
1.        Open the can of tomato paste and dump it into a saucepan.
2.       Fill the can with milk and empty into the saucepan twice to wash out the leftover tomato bits.  Stir with a whisk.
3.       Measure out the sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black and white pepper, dumping each into the saucepan and stir. 
4.       Gently tap the edge of the celery salt container to shake a little of it into the tomato mixture; you’re looking to add no more than 1/16th of a teaspoon, the same with the cayenne and smoked paprika.  Taste the mixture and add more cayenne if you’d like a little more heat.  Whisk.
5.       To make sure you don’t use more than a drop or two of instant smoke (which has a highly concentrated flavor), pour a little instant smoke into the smallest measuring spoon you have, then use a clean finger to add two drops to the saucepan.  This gives the soup its wonderfully deep, smoky flavor.
6.       Make the grilled-cheese-and-bacon sandwiches.
7.       While whisking, heat the soup until just before it starts bubbling, and take off heat to cool for two minutes.
8.       Serve in wide bowls you can dip a sandwich into.

Light crusty bread, 8 slices
8 slices of pre-cut Kolby-jack cheese
Six strips of thick-cut smoked bacon
Tub of margarine
Large flat spatula
1.       Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.       Line a pan (not a sheet) thoroughly with foil.  Lay out the bacon on the pan so they’re barely touching each other.  Cook in the oven for 14 minutes or until the fat is sizzling and the strips are noticeably reduced and beginning to crisp up.
3.       Remove the bacon from the oven and let cool. 
4.       Lay a strip of parchment paper down on the counter/table.
5.       Take the loaf and arrange the slices in pairs for each sandwich you want to make.  I prefer to make two sandwiches per person.  I like to use concurrent slices for each sandwich, like so:

6.       Butter the outside of both slices – you should keep the sides that faced each other clean.  Arrange the slices butter side up on the parchment paper.
7.       Tear up the cheese into strips the width of your bread slices, making sure the bread is covered but the cheese does not hang past the crust.  You’ll want a slice per bread piece.
8.       Cut the bacon into inch-pieces.  Lay them out on the bread – about a strip and a half per sandwich.
9.       Assemble the sandwich; bread butter side down, a layer of cheese, a layer of bacon, then the other slice – cheese, bread butter side up.
Like this.

Or if you need a real picture...

10.   Heat a small skillet on the stove, one just large enough to accommodate a single sandwich.
11.   When the skillet is hot, place the sandwich on the skillet.  Press the sandwich onto the skillet firmly using the spatula, and press down the spatula with a fork for leverage.
12.   Cook both sides of the sandwich until golden with light brown graining, like the above picture.  Use the fork and spatula to turn the sandwich over without separating the components from each other.  Using pressure while cooking will make the melted cheese act as a glue to hold the whole sandwich together.
13.    When the sandwich is done, place it on a plate and make the next one.

14.   Heat the tomato soup, serve and eat.  The sandwiches can be dipped into the soup.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Some sort of exercise regime...

Let me admit straight up.  I like rich food.  And I enjoy eating.  And I like sleeping in late.  And sitting reading for hours or even days at a time.

And these activities do not combine well for a healthy lifestyle.  For a long time I struggled keeping on any weight because my appetite was so low.  So it really didn't matter what I ate so long as I did eat at all.  I'm a small woman - topping out at five feet tall.  And naturally slight.  I have small hands, proportionately long limbs and a slim bone structure.

When I was in high school I was frequently mistaken for a semi-anorexic person.  When that happened I would laugh and say "Nope!  I know I'm thin.  I wish I weighed more!"  But I guess you could say I had some kind of bodily eating disorder, if you're not willing to blame it on my bipolar.

Eventually I was put on Geodon sometime around 2007-ish, and it worked wonders for me, and suddenly I was able to keep a little weight on.  Suddenly I got hips.  And breasts!  Nice breasts.  Suddenly the fabled 95-105 lb zone was possible.

But alas, as happens sometimes with people on anti-psychotics, I developed tardive dyskinesia in my lips.  That's involuntary muscle twitches that gradually get worse.  It looked like I was making strange faces out of the blue.  I guess I was lucky, because it was so noticeable.  Some people get it in their arms or legs and don't notice until its severe and permanent.

So off the Geodon I went, and I was put on Clozapine.  That's a story in itself for another day, but tl;dr, I had to stop school for a semester to adjust, and my metabolism is completely different now.

I ended up gaining twenty-five pounds.  I'd like to go back to 120 or 115lbs, that sounds feasible to me, but obviously purposefully losing weight is always harder than we'd like.

Exercising frequently was easy during the summer.  But now that I have school everyday, and so much homework, it's hard to get in a workout and watch what I eat so much.

For the food, I'm just trying to surround myself with only good options, and loading up on green vegetables and fruit.

As for exercise, I think I will do what I call "the Busy Day Workout."

When I'm sitting at home, I set my phone for thirty minutes, and every time it goes off, I get up, do 25 jumping jacks, and 10 crunches/sit ups.

We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fried Chicken Breading

When pan or deep frying chicken, there is no better mix than equal parts low-sodium saltines and Wheat Thins run through a food processor until fine.

I like to dip the chicken in a mixture of two eggs whisked with a splash of milk and a tablespoon of corn starch.  Then simply fry the chicken until golden brown on both sides.

The Wheat Thins will give the breading a nutty depth, while the saltines provide all the seasoning you will need, no need to salt them afterwards.

Friday, October 11, 2013

All the family in the house

They are all here now.  We are 5/5, instead of 2/5 or 3/5.  Plus three cats.
I am happy right now.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

the ossobucco is coming...

My 25th birthday is approaching.  It will be upon me at 11:15pm tomorrow night.
And I have been promised Ossobucco, with braised root vegetables and saffron risotto.  How could a girl not feel loved when she receives such a meal?  It will be served on Saturday, because we are working people and like true food lovers, know the best meals take days of preparation.
Such reparations are already starting.

As you can see, Ma went to the local butchers and brought home veal bones and chicken backs and necks to roast with celery so she can make both beef and chicken stock from scratch.  The smell wafting out of the oven is heavenly!

Tomorrow I will go to the store and pick up the remaining ingredients for the weekend, including sweet cream ice cream and my birthday cake (chocolate I hope!), because I don't trust anyone else to pick the perfect cake.

Younger Sister and Even Younger Brother are coming home for my birthday weekend, so this will be quite an occasion.  I am the oldest child.  Sadly, homework stops for no birthday, so there will be no shopping excursion as Sis hopes.  Alas, I really don't need more makeup, I have all I need, and I prefer to splurge on food and sex toys rather than cosmetics and shoes.  To each their own, I suppose.

I have been banging out poems recently like no one's business.  Perhaps I shall post some...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's on the dinner plate? 10/4/2013

Last night I requested a dinner with lots of vegetables, and my parents turned out to be in a cooking mood.  The result was fantastic, and plans have been made to repeat the meal for a dinner party larger than us three.

The meal itself consisted of miso-marinated flank steak, and sauteed diced vegetables - potato, onion, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and grape tomatoes.

My contribution to dinner-making was whipping up the marinade (more of a paste, really) and setting the table.

I got the marinade for the steak from the Bon Appetit website, kept more or less intact except for the addition of a single packet of instant red miso soup powder.  The recipe calls for white miso paste, but red miso has a saltier, more intense flavor.  Once you've developed the taste for it, there's really no going back.

I've made this paste before for flank steak, which can be paired with a miso-marinaded salmon, if you enjoy surf and turf.  If you do choose to go that route, the miso in both marinades lends a wonderful, earthy umami hit that pairs the two proteins together.

Can't really say much for grilling tips - my father is the grill master and we don't mess with him and his method since he continues to produce food on par or surpassing that of a fine restaurant.
See his awesome grill marks?

The vegetables are pretty simple - saute in a wok with a little olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a single pat of frozen beef bouillon.  That has to be made ahead of time.

I'm always loathe to waste good beef, lamb or chicken bones, and homemade stock is so much more flavorful than store stock, and has no preservatives besides.  I take that stock and reduce it into a gelatinous, inky goop of goodness, spoon it into a mini muffin pan with each depression lined with cling wrap.  Then I freeze it, and use the excess film to wrap up the frozen disks.  I keep those in a bag in my freezer, and they are incredibly useful for adding a bit of flavor and richness to rice, soups, sauces, and in this case, sauteing as well.  If you don't want to go through all that or want to make the veg now, I suppose you could substitute two to three tablespoons of broth/stock.

Back to the vegetables, take the frozen bouillon and melt it on the hot pan.

You simply cook the vegetables until they're done, starting with the potatoes, onions and carrots since they require more cooking, then add the zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes last.
Onions, potatoes and carrots first...
Then add tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.

Maybe sometime I'll make this again to finesse the actual timing of this recipe, but really all it takes is a watchful eye and tasting everything to ascertain doneness.  When the veg is cooked, sprinkle crumbed feta cheese on top and toss.

The heat of the vegetables will melt it and they will be coated with a creamy smeary layer of cheese.

My Dad, who loves his wine and buys it by the case because its cheaper that way, paired a lovely 2010 Arcturos Cabernet Franc from Michigan (Traverse City area) with our meal.

As for the dinner experience itself, the food was absolutely delicious, but the conversation and company kept us happily talking for hours.  It's truly amazing how food can facilitate social interaction.

COMING UP - In the works is my own recipe for a delightfully smoky tomato soup paired with grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches.

Friday, October 4, 2013

What's On the Dinner Plate? 10/3/2013

Tonight's a very vegetabley dinner.  I nuked some leftover green beans with the tiniest amount of olive oil and salt when I got home from school, then sat back with a tall glass of Crystal Lite's Mojito Mix - virgin of course.  It is a Thursday night, after all.

Later I made myself a large bowl of red miso soup - instant, sadly.  I have to go rather far out of my way to find good red miso paste.  If you develop the taste for it, miso soup is really very satisfying, since it hits both salty and umami notes.

Now I'm nomming on something my Mom whipped up in the toaster oven - Parmesan breadcrumb zucchini rounds.  She sliced a big fat zucchini up into quarter-inch thick slices, drizzled them with a little olive oil, then sprinkled with bread crumbs (a mix of low-sodium saltines and wheat thins run through the food processor until fine) and pre-grated parmesan cheese.  Then she arranged them on a parchment-paper lined tray and baked them until cooked all the way through.

They are a bit mushy, so I'm eating them with a fork.  But honestly, they are SO GOOD.

Now you see them...

Now they're in my stomach.

On another note, I recently acquired a We-Vibe Salsa for a steep steal on Amazon, as well as a Tantus Alumina Motion, prompted by the unwelcome news that both are going to be discontinued.  They're pretty awesome, and a review will be forthcoming when I'm better acquainted with them.  I would have sooner, but my menses interferred, and that's nuff said.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spiced Oatmeal Berry Walnut Chip Cookies

Spiced Oatmeal Berry Walnut Cookies

Ah, oatmeal cookies, delicious nuggets of relatively less-guilt-inducing numminess compared to other cookies.  Are they dessert?  Are they breakfast?  Does it truly matter? 

Some people say that you should put raisins in your oatmeal cookies.  Others say you should add walnuts or pecans.  Still other people prefer chocolate chips, and those people are right.  But they don’t have to be completely right; why not add in all of those much-argued over ingredients?  And why not change out those raisins to their healthier cousins the dried cranberry and blueberry?  I like walnuts better than pecans for their earthier, oiler taste.  Sorry pecans.  I’ll save you for my maple ice cream and streusel muffins.

Obviously our cookie dough can only support so much oatmeal and extra goodies to be studded throughout, so we must use a little common sense when doling out these ingredients. 

Originally I used the recipe for “Classic Oatmeal Cookies” in my ancient copy of the Joy of Cooking.  And by ancient I mean the 1975 version that still has a specific recipe on how to cook muskrat (only the legs are worth eating and only when you brown them in bacon fat, apparently – though I’m pretty sure bacon fat will make just about anything edible).  

And this recipe does yield tasty cookies.  But I like cinnamon, and lots of vanilla extract.  I’m a vanilla girl in general – I even wear it in my perfume.  So I added more cinnamon and vanilla at first.  Then I added ginger to the spices, for some warmth.  Then I discovered the sweetly sticky, gooey bitterness of molasses.  And it was good.  I would dip the resulting cookies in milk and nom them down for breakfast with some yogurt and fruit.  And it was very good. 

Then I used chocolate chips instead of raisins.  I have nothing against raisins.  I like them in my trail mix.  I like them in my bread pudding.  I like to snack on them, but the combination of spices and chocolate, the crunch of the oats paired with the silky bite of the solidified chocolate…  To.  Damn.  Good. 

But soon I wanted to have my chocolate, and berries, and nuts, and eat them too!

Over the course of time this is the final recipe I ended up with.  

This recipe will make 3.5 dozen cookies.  These cookies can be chewy or crunchy depending on how long you bake them.  They are homey and comforting, with a nubby texture.

This was the first time I used this recipe, so I ended up taking 2 hours to make the whole shebang, but if you’re not a perfectionist like me, you can definitely get away with shaving at least half an hour off your cooking time.

These are the ingredients you’ll need:
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 ½ cups brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 tbl molasses
2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup dried blueberries
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 ½ cup rolled oats

Got everything ready?  Let’s begin.

1.        Arrange racks in oven to evenly hold two cookie trays.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.        In a large bowl, mix these dry ingredients together.  I like to use a whisk.
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground ginger
3.       In a mixing bowl, combine the brown and white sugar. 
1 ½ cups brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
4.       Mix the margarine into the sugar until incorporated and the mixture clumps together.  Add the eggs, the vanilla, and the molasses.  Mix.
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 tbl molasses
5.       Add the flour mix, stir to combine until it makes a wet dough.
6.       In the separate bowl formerly used to hold the flour mix, combine the dried berries, chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.
2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup dried blueberries
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
7.       With the mixer on, add in the oatmeal, then the berry/chocolate/nut mix.  Mix into the dough until thoroughly combined.  At this point my mixer will be starting to protest, rumbling on my counter. 
3 ½ cup rolled oats
8.        Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  The great thing about using parchment paper is that it doesn’t add any extra grease, is much cleaner than butter or oil spray, and when you’re done with it, you can just roll it up and throw it away, leaving the actual metal pan itself clean enough to put back in the cupboard once cool.  The cookies never stick either, which is the whole point of the thing.
9.       Using a spoon or cookie/melon baller, scoop full rounds of dough onto the cookie sheet.  I typically get about 13 blobs onto each tray – mine are 14” by 15”. 

10.    Using a clean hand, use your closed fingers to press the tops of the dough balls flat, about 2” across, and 1/2” thick.  This will ensure a thinner, flatter cookie that will cook evenly all the way through.
11.   Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, switching the bottom tray with the top halfway through.  The tray closest to the top of the oven will develop a texture that is almost lace-like in appearance, which I find most attractive in oatmeal cookies. 
The cookies will spread and puff up when they cook.  After the 12 minute mark, CONTINUE TO COOK!  Keep checking them every two minutes until they have stopped puffing up and have actually shrunk down a little, gone brown and a bit firm.  That’s when you’ll know they’re ready to remove from the oven.
12.   Let the trays cool for about 5 minutes or until the cookies are stiff enough that they don’t bend in two when you lift up the edge of the parchment paper.  You can then peel them off by hand or using a flat spatula. 

Store the cookies in an airtight container/s.  They should keep for a week, but they won’t last nearly that long!    My prophecies have never failed to come true. You will end up eating these for breakfast. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Sign of True Familial Love

Tonight I came home after a full day at school, and two articles written between class, one for my campus newspaper, and the other a recipe I am cleaning up to be the first proper entry for this blog.  And what did I arrive in to but my mother, making dinner.

Not just any dinner, my dears.  She was sauteing portabella mushrooms.  Their aroma filled the kitchen, and she informed me that dinner would be sauteed chicken, mushrooms and asparagus on hearty bread, lovingly covered with a mornay sauce and then cooked in the toaster oven.  With a small salad of butter lettuce dressed with rice vinegar and olive oil.  It was magical.

Perhaps - aside from the fancy dinner - this does not sound unusual to you.  Mom always cooks dinner.  But these days, my mother making dinner on a weeknight is a special treat.  My parents and I have a special as-yet-unspoken deal - my tuition is paid and my doctors' bills covered, and I live at home, commute to school, buy the groceries, keep the house relatively tidy, and cook the meals on a regular basis.

My mother's boss has forgotten she is part-time.  These days she works full time every day of the work week, along with doing all the little tasks, errands, and keeping all the appointments one must keep to keep a house like mine with a yard like Eden running.

So to come home after a half hour of all the yahoos and lunatics rush hour turns ordinary citizens into, trying to keep my car on the road and my mind on Welcome to Night Vale...  to a thoughtfully made, savory dinner that hasn't turned into a hearty brick of regret in my gut not two hours after dinner began is a treat indeed.