Food, dogs, weather—and a serious thought


Big Mac Salad

Food, dogs, weather—and a serious thought

No one will be surprised that I devour food web pages, including the New York Times. Frequently the NYT column is full of recipes and ingredients that don’t reach out to me. It’s not that I’m not willing to experiment, but I most often cook for a family of four with conservative tastes, and I find myself leaning more and more into exploring American cooking, which is of course a hodge podge of dishes from other countries, But there is a core menu of dishes that have been adapted, become part of our tradition, and typify American cooking. In the Irene in Chicago Culinary Mysteries, that’s the kind of food that Henny cooks on her “Recipes from my mom’s kitchen” TV show. Yes, tuna casserole, and Sloppy Joe, potato salad and green chili rice casserole.

So imagine my surprise when prowling through the NYT column and then the Kitchn web site (more about that in another post) when I found the following: fried catfish with spaghetti, chicken with pears, and sausage and grapes. I like to think I have some sense about pairing of foods, and, truthfully, these pairings sound awful. Not everyone likes fried catfish, but I do—wth a healthy bit of lemon and maybe a dab of tartar sauce. But with spaghetti with a traditional red sauce (that was what the illustration showed)? Or take the chicken and pears—take them somewhere, because I can’t cook that here. Some of us don’t like cooked fruit; I like it in many circumstances, but this pairing seems odd. Maybe it’s because I am never sure what to do with pears anywhere. And sausage and grapes? Just plain no. Grapes belong in chicken salad, and sausages should get sauerkraut or at the very least mustard. Call me traditional.

Fortunately, tonight we had a truly American dish: Big Mac salad. Take all the ingredients of a Big Mac—ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, pickle, dressing—and toss them together in a salad. We had a heavy dinner last night—pork chops, potatoes, and asparagus—so we were ready for this lighter meal tonight. Jordan made the salad, but I have to add that I made the Thousand Island dressing from scratch. Bottled dressings generally have a taste I don’t like—maybe the preservatives? Anyway, it was a good dinner.

We had a bit of excitement tonight. Mary came for happy hour. No, wait, that’s not the excitement! We had left the driveway gate partially open for her, and she thought she slammed the inner gate when she came in. But all of a sudden, she, who was sitting facing that gate, got a horrible look on her face and said that the wind had blown it open and she didn’t know where Sophie was. We called, but she didn’t respond. Of course, my heart jumped right up into my throat, though the rational side of me said she hadn’t gotten far, and they would find her. When Soph was young, she was an escape artist, always ready to explore. We had to ease out of doors, etc., and there were several chases throughout the neighborhood where we learned to drive a car, because if you opened the door, she’d jump right in.

Tonight, Jordan ran, came back for her phone, but didn’t stop for a leash or car keys. Fortunately, Sophie was across the street in the neighbor’s yard, and Jordan corralled her without trouble. Jordan may have been tired, but Sophie was unfazed by her adventure.

So tonight storms are predicted from three to six in the morning—the kind of storms with heavy wind, hail, and possible tornadoes. We get a lot of such predictions, and it’s easy to get complacent, but we stay on alert. Jordan has brought in the fragile plants, sheltered my herb garden and a few others under the eaves, taken down the patio umbrellas. I often sleep through such storms, but then again, I’m a fitful sleeper and will likely waken. Sophie, so blasé about storms as a pup, is now terrified, and will be by my side in the night. She hasn’t sensed storm yet and is lounging on the patio.

I try for a variety of reasons to avoid politics in this blog, but I have some thoughts I can’t avoid, mostly about when trump and his cohorts will be charged with treason. He apparently said that he has no choice but to run for president in 2024—God help us all. Meantime, we are hearing increasingly solid evidence that he and several Republican Congresspeople were heavily involved in what was supposed to look like a spontaneous insurrection. I am so confused about where the American people weigh in on this. Maybe by tomorrow, I’ll collect my thoughts.

Stay safe, all of you, especially those in the storm’s path, whether here, in California, or the East Coast. Mother Nature s on a rampage tonight. Is she trying to tell us something?

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