Thursday, March 17, 2011

A St. Paddy's Day faux Irish Stew

My original title for Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books was The Faux Gourmet. It came from the fact the one highly critical (but very helpful) reader said she (I'm presuming it was a she) would never cook with canned soup. I make King Ranch Chicken with Healthy Heart Campbells' cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups.The reader insisted she made hers with made-from-scratch white sauce, which sounded like more work and too bland for me. I honestly read recipes on the internet for duplicating the taste of the canned soups but they were tons of trouble and still had some of the ingredients purists would object to. So I remain a happy faux gourmet.
Tonight I had Jacob, and Betty was coming for dinner, since we missed our usual dinner out for the week. I had meant to open a can of my fancy tuna and make a salad with all kinds of veggies and tuna, but then I realized I had that leftover lamb I've been eating all week and even took to Sue's last night. So I did all those things no true gourmet would do--I made two instant packets of brown gravy that were in the cupboard (that's a whole 'nother story about Norwegian hamburgers, for another time). I added a bouillon cube, dumbed in the cubed lamb with a small can of green beans and a healthy bit of frozen corn. I thought I had frozen peas but I didn't, so the green beans were a substitute and they worked well. Added pepper and thyme but not salt since I figure the prepared gravy and bouillon took care of that. Served it over a mixture of penne and rigatoni pasta, and it was delicious, if I do say so. The leftovers will go to Christian who will love them.
I have been accused--who, me?--of letting Jacob manipulate me, so tonight I was quite strict. No, he could not have chicken nuggets--he was eating stew. He must have gotten a piece of gristle, because he thought the meat was too chewy. But he ate all his noodles and some of the stew, so I gave him ice cream, followed by the banana he wanted. When bedtime came (a little late because I was doing dishes), I was firm: TV off, use the potty, brush your teeth and get into bed. I gave him a few minutes to play with his toys, then let him pet Scooby goodnight, and firmly closed the door to his room, telling him I loved him and "Sweet dreams." He said he'd go to sleep better with a little more TV, but  I didn't fall for it. So at after 9:30 I can hear him on the monitor, having conversations with his toy figures--or maybe himself.
We read a book that had a picture of a goldfish.
Me: Jacob, hows your goldfish?
Jacob, very philosophically: Fine. He hasn't died yet.
Earlier in the evening, we stepped next door to see the new baby--they were out in the back yard. The baby slept so peacefully in his mom's arms. We took his big sis, three-year-old Abby, a pink bunny and for new Grayson, a tiny T-shirt that says "It ain't easy being the cutest cowboy around." Jacob wasn't actually as interested in the baby as I thought he'd be, but he was most interested in being the one to present the gifts.
Grandkids, good friends and good neighbors surely make life sweet.

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