The nicest opportunities come to me with Cooking My Way through Life with Kids and Books. Today I had an email from a woman in Maine, who with a business partner in California, sponsors a Web site for women writing memoirs. They've asked me to be a guest blogger, for review copies, and for a telephone interview. Of course I happily agreed to all and have the guest blog half written in my mind. I don't know how big their audience is--I should probably ask--but check out http://womensmemoirs.com/. If you've ever thought about writing a memoir, here's the site that will encourage you.
My neighbor, Sue, writes a blog called "The Replete Life." Google it, you'll enjoy, because she talks about living the good life without spending a lot of money. She is, like me, a cook, and often when I invite her for supper, she'll say she has a stew on the stove or fresh fish waiting to be cooked. But her recent blog was about all the staples in her pantry out of which she can make a meal. (Sue shares custody of two children, 13 and 8, with her ex-husband, so some weeks she's cooking for herself and like me, she still fixes a real meal.) It got me to thinking about what's always in my pantry--tuna, of course, and canned tomatoes, and canned veggies, which I ignore in this bountiful season. But my stash is in my freezer. Years ago, my brother, who often gives me generous and useful gifts, gave me a Tilia Food Saver (no, this is not an infomercial). It allows me to vacuum seal foods for the freezer--I use it mostly for meat and fish. When Megan and Brandon got one, he tried to vacuum seal everything in the fridge, which was a disaster with green onions. It also doesn't work with breads because it draws all the air out and reduces them to nothing. Like computers and cell phones, I underuse my food saver--you can extract the air from a half-drunk bottle of red wine, seal glass jars of things, etc., but I've never learned to do that. I get a roll of the pastic saver, cut it into the size I need, and seal meat. I always have chicken, ground sirloin, maybe a piece of salmon, leftover stew etc., and some days I come home and think what shall I defrost today? I keep a very few frozen vegetables, and too many tail ends of bread products which I use from crumbs when necessary. Bread keeps wonderfully in the freezer, whereas it turns hard and dry in the refrigerator. Of course, with my Weight Watchers diet, my cooking has changed dramatically and I have little use for the bread, etc. But I do use the meats.
Tonight, I'm cooking a half a leftover hamburger in a piece of bread for Jacob--and a trout fillet for myself. (OK, I just bought the trout this morning--it's not from a food saver bag.) I'll give him a bite to see if he likes it.
And while I'm at it talking about cooking, here's a recipe from my cookbook that I always loved and my kids didn't because they say it's gelatinous (a bad adjective from them). I got this from Carolyn Burk, an old friend, a real estate agent Joel and I met when he wanted to look at a house we could no more afford than Buckingham Palace. We ended up renting a red brick bungalow her son owned, and she and I remained friends until she died a few years ago.
1 hen or two fryers
1 cylinder saltines
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Stew chicken until cooked thoroughly. Reserve the stock. Cool chicken and pull meat off bones. Chop finely. (Carolyn did it with scissors, but I use the food processor, being careful not to over-process). Grind one clind of saltines in food process and add to chicken.
Soften gelatin in 1/2 c. of reserved stock. Add to chicken with enough stock to bind it together--it should be moist but not soupy. Sometimes I add a chicken boullion cube to give more flavor. I know Caroly never added gelatin--that was my mom's idea. But it holds the loaf together.
Pack into a loaf pan. Cover with clear wrap, put another loaf pan on top, and weigh it down with canned goods. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with mayonniase.
This will freeze, but will not keep after freezing. Still, it's the purest chicken flavor I've ever tasted. I love it and am going to try it on guests tomorrow night, along with a green salad and grilled nectarines filled with feta.
That's my holiday weekend. Hope yours is happy!