Monday, November 16, 2009

Lane changes and leftovers

Tonight, 580 decided to kiss and make up. In spite of leaving the office a hair too late for comfort, we had pretty darned quick-moving traffic.

Mostly, this is because I was driving. No, seriously…see, my husband is one of those people who will get on the freeway (eventually), and then stay in the wrong slow lane for a while, then decide things aren’t moving well and that something is ‘obviously’ wrong up ahead, and then take some 600 mile “short cut” to get around the five miles of backup.

OK, it was only 60 miles.

Still. You can either put up with five miles of backup, or, you can take a (all kidding aside) thirty mile “short cut” through the hills and vales and valleys and dells and end up stuck behind a flatbed truck going fifteen miles an hour because he’s (quite reasonably, actually) spooked by being a large truck on a tiny, lightless country road in the middle of what appears to be nowhere and are we quite sure we’re still in California?!

This is how my husband “saves time” whenever the traffic is backed up on the freeway. Which is always, which is also why he will frequently come staggering in at 7:30 even though he left the office at 4:00. “The traffic was brutal, so I took the short cut…”


When I drive, the elapsed time between getting on the freeway and being in the fast lane is something like eight nanoseconds. No fooling around. No lollygagging. No ‘let’s see what the traffic is doing’ or ‘let’s wait to hear a traffic report.’ (Also, occasionally, a certain…ahem…shall we say effective use of our vehicle’s acceleration / maneuverability?)

And then, just because Life is perverse that way – the traffic will magically clear up so that I can turn to him and say, “SEE? It’s not that bad, you just hafta find the zen of the freeway…and get in the fast lane right away…”

In the same way, though, whenever we do have the rare circumstance where we are in two cars and the traffic is awful and he does his 400-mile-short-cut thing while I stick by the freeway…y’all know what happens, right?

He gets home in half an hour, while I’m sitting on the freeway waving a flashlight at the rescue helicopter that’s dropping food for all of us poor, stranded souls.

Because Life is really perverse that way.

ANYWAY. We got home in plenty of time for our divide-and-conquer approach to dinner. Tonight I had it easy in one way, but hard in another: Dinner was a very simple fridge-diving affair. I threw rice into the rice cooker (an appliance I scoffed at before I owned one [“what’s wrong with a danged pot with a cover? it was good enough for my momma, it’s good enough for me!”], but now can’t imagine life without), put some leftover roast beef into the microwave on ‘gentle cook’ to reheat, and dug through the fridge to pull out leftover corn, peas and carrots from other meals – my fridge tends to get awfully full of tiny Tupperware containers with not-quite-a-serving of various things, which can be a bit dangerous to combine due to my habit of deciding plain old butter or salt is “boring, let’s try paprika! Chili powder! What’s this stuff, I dunno, maybe it’s crab spice! LET’S TRY IT!”

Which is fine on its own, but if you throw together several things made several ways, the result can be…interesting in a bad way.

But fortunately, I had a streak of boring so all the vegetables had reasonably similar seasonings – no Cajun doing battle with Indian or BBQ sauce trying to conquer the soy.

The roast turned out really well yesterday. I kept it super-simple: I made a bed of sliced onions and carrots for the roast to sit on in the broiling pan, then mixed together a bottle of dark brown ale, some Worcestershire sauce and fresh cracked pepper. A little went into the bottom of the pan, and about a quarter cup was poured over the roast before it went into the oven – then throughout the roughly four hour roasting time, I’d baste it whenever the spirit moved me…technically every half hour but hahahahaha, yeah, party, people over, kids everywhere…sometimes every hour. Or so.

And then I got use my cool deli slicer thingee and wow…how did I ever live without one of these things?! It made beautiful thin slices perfect for sandwiches and quickly-warmed-up leftovers and I love it even though it’s a royal pain in the backside to clean up afterward.

Also, I’m terrified I’m going to stick a finger into the whirling blade of death, because trust me – I’m an expert at Stupid Maneuvers Like That.

I swear, I am the reason we have to have warning labels that say things like, “Warning: Do Not Stick Head Into Fan Blades.” Wow…on reflection, that WOULD be rather dangerous, wouldn’t it…

Meanwhile, my challenge for the evening was wedging a baking session into the mix. We used up the last of the bread this morning, so I needed to get something bread-like together for tomorrow or else.

When I first started mixing, I thought I was making regular old bread. But then it sort of changed on me, and I ended up making rolls.

I don’t know how these things happen. Really. One minute I’m making the standard bread recipe, the next…well.

I replaced about half a cup of the regular flour with Bob’s 7-Grain Hot Cereal, added an extra half-tablespoon of sugar and cut back the salt a smidge and instead of making two loaves of bread, I made eight sloppy-looking rolls.

Because I didn’t know I was making rolls until they were on the baking sheet and I was saying, “Oh. Apparently, I’m making rolls…”

I did have a couple sort-of reasons. One was that making rolls eliminated the second rise I like to have for sandwich bread. The other was that rolls take less time to bake, and since I have a cold I really want to go to bed sooner rather than later – less baking time meant a sooner bedtime.

And of course, this kind of “different” is something the Denizens will like in their lunches. It’s got a neat nutty flavor, but isn’t “too” whole wheat. (Because gracious, we wouldn’t want “healthy” bread, would we?!)

Should make an awfully good roast beef sandwich wrapper tomorrow – with some stone ground mustard, Swiss cheese and maybe some freshly-picked baby spinach…


PipneyJane said...

Are you working with your husband or just in the same neighbourhood?

- Pam (curious as usual)

Louiz said...

ok, now I'm drooling into the keyboard. Bad idea!

Anonymous said...

You need to look up the No Knead Artisian bread. It is much easier and works fairly well most of the time. You mix up a batch, put it in the fridge and when you need a loaf you pull it out, let it rest and bake.

RobinH said...

What SuSaw said. I have the first book, and it's about as easy as they say. Online at:

Anonymous said...

Or Google Sullivan Street Bakery no-knead bread. Awesome. I have this Calphalon Dutch oven that it turns out is the perfect vessel