Writing My Life

Now and Then


… so you think I can cook …

If you have read any food-related posts of mine, such as Bean Soup for the ????, Yammy YumsT-Giving: The Prep and The Review, or  Christmas 09 – the food,  you know that I don’t consider myself much of a cook at all. I am  all right with that because I’d much rather expend my creative juices writing than trashing  my kitchen and burning fingers, hands, and arms. (I don’t know whether it is  cooking or curling irons that inflict more blisters upon my person.)

Because of the messes I create, G.E. thinks every meal involves the same effort required of a  Thanksgiving-Feast. “Thanks for the Thanksgiving soup/sandwich/oatmeal,” he remarks as he searches the counter top for an empty spot to stack his dirty dishes. Another cooking issue  is that I move at turtle speed in the kitchen! If the recipe lists 10 minutes preparation time, I’ll take 30. That’s two reasons I don’t cook from Julia’s or Martha’s books: We’d never eat and I’d dirty EVERY dish, pot, pan, and utensil in the house.

Traditional Italian New Year’s Day Dinner

In spite of all this, I do want to be a better cook. I am tired of eating out, and I want to eat healthier – remember my New Year’s resolutions.  Because of the aforementioned problems,  I may cook out of cans, but I leave Hamburger Helper on the shelves. I’m sort of a quasi-from-scratch cook, you might say.

Anyway, back on Martin Luther King’s holiday, I cooked up 3 dinners to eat throughout the week. That was my “cooking from Costco” experiment as I tried some of the recipes from the free Costco cookbook I received on Black Friday.  I fixed several recipes from that book, but the Italian Sausage and Lentils was the most interesting. I couldn’t find the Puy lentils that are grown in the volcanic ash soil in France. So I had to settle for plain old lentils found at Smiths. Must say, I’m not a big fan. The texture actually reminded me of black-eyed peas, traditional Southern New Year’s Day side dish, and I don’t care for those either. Maybe it’s an acquired taste.

Last Monday, on Presidents Day, I cooked up a couple of heart-healthy recipes I found in February’s Woman’s Day. I’m often drawn to recipes found in women’s magazines because they are quick and simple, but I wondered if these would be tasty. One ingredient that jazzes up flavor but isn’t heart-friendly is SALT, and these dishes included VERY little of the seasoning.

Roast Rosemary Chicken on a small plate for portion control!!!

The first recipe I “whipped up” was Roast Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables  – DELICIOUS – and I even had to substitute a couple of mediocre ingredients for the preferred choices! I LOVE  roast vegetables, and the rosemary and garlic made me forget about salt! (And yes, I used fresh rosemary, a first for me!) While G.E. isn’t a big fan of garlic, he did enjoy this dish. Although, he was a bit nervous when he smelled the garlic’s pungent odor permeate our entire house.  He did not care for the Kalamata olives, however, but I thought their flavor added a fun zip and combined well with the veggies and the herbs.

Roast Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables

  • 8 small chicken drumsticks(about 1 3/4 lb)
  • 4 large red potatoes, each cut in 8 wedges, wedges halved (I didn’t have any, so I used boring old bakers – not as sweet and not as colorful)
  • 2 large peppers, cut in 3/4-in. wedges (Because orange peppers were in my fridge’s crisper,  they stood in for the lively red ones.)
  • 1 large red onion, cut in 1/2-in.-thick slices (Again, I resorted to slicing the blah yellow onion in the bin, BUT it was a sweet one!)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half (I could only find these bottled in an oil and wine marinade, but I toweled them off, threw them in!)
  • Serve with: balsamic vinegar to drizzle over chicken and vegetables – HEY! I didn’t notice this suggestion in the magazine’s version! Double YUM!


1. Position racks to divide oven in thirds. Heat oven to 500°F. You’ll need 2 rimmed baking sheets lined with nonstick foil.2. Distribute drumsticks, potatoes, peppers and onion evenly between pans. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, and toss to turn and coat.3. Roast 30 minutes, stirring mixtures after 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.4. Arrange on platter; add olives.


I’ll definitely make this dish again, but I’ll double up the vegtables!

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… Christmas ’09 ~ the food …

It was THAT good!?!

I said it before, “I’m NOT a great cook,” but I enjoy it when I am in the mood. However, I demand a certain criteria – simple and fast! One obstacle that contributes to my ineptness in the kitchen is that I am SIMPLY SLOW! As a result, simple and fast recipes take me a long time. Because I am so self-conscious about my cooking-challenged disabilities,  I prefer to cook alone – unless the helper is as handicapped as I am.

As recorded, our Thanksgiving feast was the essence of simple and fast, but we didn’t have many guests (2) at our table. For the Christmas week, I would be serving the multitudes, and I was SCARED! Now I have super-talented cooks for daughters-in-law, but they had their hands full preparing for December 25th. And, like M. Thenardie in Les Miserables, I felt it was crucial for me to be “the master of the house,” including the kitchen. This meant that I create dishes I am confident in cooking – which aren’t many. Even doing that is no guarantee of success, but it ups the odds! I also like to try a couple of new recipes to surprise and maybe even impress my guests.

To accomplish this cooking plan, I needed to prepare dishes ahead of time so I could create in solitude and take my time. That meant being more organized that I usually am, but I am happy to report that I DID IT! I cooked up my fast and easy lasagna and chili before our California kids arrived, and I also whipped up a NEW sauce to go with Christmas Day’s ham dinner. I found this recipe in Costco’s free cook book , and I want to share it with you. Continue reading