Friday, September 30, 2016

Italian Recipe--that's NOT Pasta

When talking about food, say the word "Italian", and everyone thinks pizza, pasta or pizza-pasta-presto! But after spending the summer cooking and baking countless recipes from the Italian cook book--Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan--I've learned a bunch of recipes that are not pizza, pasta or pizza-pasta-presto!

In short, if you want to be creative and make any dish Italian, make sure it has Parmesan cheese, cream, and plenty of butter. Ecco! Instant dinner Italiano! Like the following one...

Here is the recipe for Creamy Parmesan Peas that I have been making all summer. Mr. Wonderful loves it.

2 cups heavy willing cream
1 teaspoon unsalted/sweet butter
1 half onion diced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked (or frozen peas that have been thawed) peas

1) in a saucepan over medium high heat bring the cream to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to a simmer until the cream has decreased in volume making it thick.

2) In a separate frying pan, melt the butter and add the onion. Cook until the onions are soft but not brown.

3) Add the cooked onion and the Parmesan cheese to the cream stirring to blend well.

4) Add the peas stirring well to blend the entire mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Presto! It's manga-mangia time! Buon appetito!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Big Giveaway

They say it's better to give than to receive. And lately we've been giving a lot of... Tomatoes!

This year our little, uber fertile garden patch has produced a bumper crop of tomatoes that has been delicious and worth sharing.

We've got tomatoes up to our eyeballs and coming out of our ears, nose and hair follicles. So all our neighbors got some--twice--as did many of our friends, and even some acquaintances. I even had to buy bags to give away our free tomatoes. These tomatoes are costing me money!

The difference this year, was that 1) The plants produced more fruit per plant; and 2) Mr. Wonderful and I had a little helper in the tomato patch. Our Dear Daughter loved helping us pick the tomatoes for others, although she frequently took a bite out of every tomato she picked. Which is okay because we have so many tomatoes! Tomatoes! TOMATOES!

Hoping your garden is providing you a bounty!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?--The Contractor Episode

I need you. I love you. I'll do anything you want. 

There are no words sweeter to the ear. And lately I've been hearing them a lot.

It started with Mr. Wonderful whispering them to me, which is a good thing because I'm still crazy about him. So I'm glad he still likes me. Sort of.

Actually what Mr. Wonderful said in a hoarse voice while squeezed between the washing machine and the wall was: "I need you to hand me the Phillips screwdriver." When I gave him a tool, he said: "I'd love if you could ID a Phillips screwdriver." And when I dug through his tool box messing up its neat order, he said: "I'll do anything you want just leave my tools alone."

The trick to living with your spouse in a fixer upper house while fixing it up is having selective hearing. Which I do. Which is also probably why our relationship is still going. Which it is.

I need you. I love you. I'll do anything you want. 

But these honeyed words were also being bandied about by the roof company salesmen. Having someone else do our roof work, you say? Oh Mr. Wonderful did not come to this decision easily. For months he contemplated by himself removing our old roof by himself and laying a new one by himself. He even figured how many vacation days he'd need to do such a mammoth job. When I pointed out the summer weather forecast for the next four weeks and how our corner of L.A. would make Satan's home seem frigid, he decided that someone else could do the roof work. My man's the smartest!

Being a committed DIY-er though, he just didn't want the roof removed and the same type of roof put on. Oh no! He wanted a U.S. Department of Energy-approved "Cool Roof" installed to reflect the sun, keep our home cooler without using the air conditioning, and bring us world peace.

Diligently he met with various roofing company salesmen, showed them the job, and compared their quotes. They all said the same thing, "I need you. I love you. I'll do anything you want." But when fast-talking Roof Salesman #5 added that he could do the work for a fraction of the cost that the others had said, Mr. Wonderful believed him.

"Do you really want this fast-talking guy to put on our new roof?" I said making a cheese and cracker tray with one hand and balancing the baby in the other.
"He was the cheapest," my spouse said.
"But is he the best?"
"He's the best at being the cheapest," he said signing on the dotted line.

The guy was also the best at being the smarmiest. I need you. I love you. I'll do anything you want. But I won't write it in a contract.

Verbally the man agreed to the Cool Roof and its special specs that the DOE and Mr. Wonderful wanted. But on paper, this fast-talking Roof Salesman left lots of contractual loopholes to allow him to squeeze us everywhere for more moolah. It was a horrible feeling. So after being on the job for 48 hours, Mr. Wonderful did the only thing the contract allowed: he fired him.

But the fast-talking Roof Salesman's company was not doing the actual work. Oh, no! Instead it had hired a Contractor to have his workmen do the job and these workmen were already halfway done removing our old roof. When the firing happened, the work stopped, at which point we had a roof of exposed wooden boards. That's it. And it was the hottest part of July. So is my man smarter than a 5th grader? Maybe.

Hearing about the firing, the Contractor stepped up and said he could help us finish the job. He told us the magic words: I need you. I love you. I'll do anything you want. I'll just never see you. 

"Do you really want this mystery guy to put on the new roof?" I asked tossing a salad with one hand and holding the baby with the other.
"He's honest," my spouse said before hiring the guy via the telephone.

The guy was honestly the worst because Mr. Wonderful had never met him since said Contractor worked out of Lake Tahoe, which is eight hours away by car and on another planet from our roof. So after 48 hours Mr. Wonderful fired him. When the firing happened, the work stopped again, at which point we still had a roof of exposed wooden boards. At this point I realized the average bunny rabbit was smarter than my man.

But the Contractor was not doing the actual work on our roof. Oh, no! He had hired Sub-Contractors and they were the ones standing atop The House, risking their lives, to install the roof which had been completely stripped down to wooden boards. In the record-breaking August heat all we had between us and the fierce sun were a couple of thin, wooden boards. And I realized OMG: a cactus is smarter than my man.

Hearing about the firing, the Sub-Contractor stepped up offering to finish the job for us with the magic words: I need you. I love you. I'll do anything you want. I've just never done this before. 

"Do you really want this newbie guy to put on our new roof?" I asked stirring marinara sauce with one hand while holding the baby in the other.
"Better a new guy than an old one," Mr. Wonderful said hiring the newbie via text.

And this new guy was the best idea. He worked hard because it was his first managing gig, yet after five years of installing roofs, he knew what he was doing with Cool Roofs, and his crew followed his directions to a T. They shuffled the old roof tiles into the dumpster, installed the DOE-approved insulation, the special paper, the flashings, and laid the new super reflective tiles. They all did outstanding work. Oh my goodness! My spouse is so smart for hiring them. I never doubted my man!

At the end of the three and a half week job I walked inside our newly roofed house and realized the cool tiles did reflect the sun; and they did insulate the house from the heat, keeping our home a pleasant 76 degrees F without the air conditioning. Amazing.

However I'm still waiting for world peace.