End of Year Fear & Loathing

I just found out that Nick’s work prints out all emails. TWICE.

Wow, that’s really stupid.

We are truly astounded at the level of idiocy we see DAILY in all sorts of businesses – yet they somehow manage to make money. The Japanese game people, for instance, have no website. Only FB, IG and Twitter. And yet, they book cons constantly. They are very unprofessional at the con, too, with no table, no signs, no one taking care of their games, NOTHING. And yet…

We could KILL with a print shop. But we don’t have the capital to buy one. It’s our classic issue. We have the ability to run a business, just no money to start one. We run POAS like pros: table, signage, working games, ALWAYS someone at the table, etc. Why? Because that is how you do it! We are many things, but half assers is not one of them.

The pub was a very bad idea that the Universe saved us from – for which we are forever grateful. But it sucked down most of our savings, so now we can’t do SHIT. A print shop franchise is pricey ($45k plus space, equipment, etc.), but you get some really good support, so it’s worth it the price of admission.

BUT. No funding. We could manage the franchise fee, but not the rest. We also can’t get any sort of credit with a bankruptcy on our reports. So, as usual, we are stuck. Nick has to drive an hour to work twice a day to make someone else money. Sigh.

It’s easy to start a business when your family will back you. THAT is the common thread we see with these business owners who are clueless, but manage to make money. They come from family money and/or simply buy a business.

We have no support at all. No family money, only the money we manage to save and invest. So we KNOW what it’s like to have zero support and be on your own to eek out a living. We really wanted more for ourselves, which is why we keep trying to start our OWN business! We want to put our energy into something for US, not some clueless rich white guy who has never worried about money a day in his life.

These are the things in my head as we wrap up 2021. The pandemic has sucked 2 years out of our lives so far and 2022 will be another gone. I am OLD. This is wasted time for me. I am worried that we’ll never be able to have our OWN business, for ourselves. And that, my friends, SUCKS.

The games are fun and all, but make no money. AND we are too old and broke down to shlep them more than a couple times a year. POAS is strictly a side hustle and will remain so. BUT a print shop would be the perfect biz for us. With Nick’s extensive printing expertise (he is the Print GOD) and my admin expertise, we would KILL IT.

But it all comes down to money. Of which we have little. We are ok day to day, but don’t have much extra to go into savings or investments. I don’t see how we’ll ever be able to be on our own. And that is a real buzz kill.

THAT is why I’ve just lost all motivation and deal with depression and/or anxiety (depending on the day) constantly. We are looking at never retiring and always having to work shitty jobs we don’t want. I like MY job, but it’s extremely p/t and that will not change. I’d LOVE to take on more restaurants to admin, but that’s just not in the cards thanks to fucking Covid. Catering is done as well. I am at a loss. Nick hates his job and can’t quit. IT SUCKS.

So, hey, happy holidays and all that shit.

I’m just not into it. I’m too distracted by all of the above. I’m OK, but not OK, yanno? I keep doing the next thing on my list, but I feel 100% stalled. Like everyone else, I imagine.

BUH.

Sorry for the fear and loathing post, but I had to get it OUT.

//end whining

Potato Casserole

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Potato Casserole

This is a really great way to jazz up potatoes! It is almost a souffé, since it has eggs in it and it does rise a little. It can also be made ahead, which is great for holiday cooking!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword chayote casserole, potato, potatoes and cheese, souffle
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author misangela

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs Russet (baking) potatoes (3 large) Yukon Golds are fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbl cream optional, use more half & half if skipping
  • 3 Tbl butter
  • 1 cup shredded gruyère cheese use whatever you like
  • 4 scallions, finely slice on bias both green and white parts
  • 1 tsp thyme fresh is best
  • 1 Tbl parsley, minced fresh is best
  • 1 tsp salt might need more, CHECK before baking
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese for topping

Instructions

  • Peel and cut potatoes into 2" cubes. Boil in heavily salted water (should taste like the ocean) with the whole garlic. Cook to fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • If you have a stand mixer, use it! If not, get a large mixing bowl and put in 2 eggs and lightly beat them. Then add half & half, sour cream and cream, and stir together.
  • When potatoes are done, drain them and pull out the garlic. Smash the garlic and add to ingredients. Turn mixer on to stir and add hot potatoes a few at a time (slowly, so you don't scramble the eggs). Add butter in pats while stirring.
  • When potatoes are all in and mixture is getting smooth, add cheese, 2/3 of the scallions, herbs and S/P.
  • Pour potatoes into a 2 qt (9x9) baking dish and top with more cheese and the remaining scallions. Make sure to taste for salt levels!
  • Bake at 375ºF for 45 minutes, until brown on top. Add about 10 minutes if you're starting with a cold casserole.

Notes

This is a really great recipe for the holidays, because you can make it a day (or two) ahead. 

Almost Thanksgiving!

This year has screamed by. I swear it was May just last month!

I am happy to see my blog getting busier with people googling recipes! Mirliton casserole is especially busy, which is great, because it is a SOLID recipe. :)

I’m hosting just a few friends this year and here is the menu (available recipes linked):
Deviled eggs 2 ways: dill/caper and kimchi
Ham spiral sliced
ham gravy
cornbread stuffing w/sage
corn casserole
squash casserole
potato souffle (recipe not published yet, sorry!)
green bean casserole is being brought by Heather
buttered mint peas
glazed carrots w/dill & orange
roasted lemon butter asparagus
Roasted acorn squash with goat cheese and pecan stuffing (a surprise for my vegetarian neighbors)
lemon curd tartlets w/ whipped cream
pecan pie (made with Steens!)

If the wayward bartender I invited shows up, he says he’ll make hot buttered rum! Otherwise, the booze will be wines, beer, sweet tea and soft drinks.

I am stoked to be cooking! I can put together the casseroles and baked things in advance, so Thu will be baking things all day. I’m borrowing a couple of cambros (large insulated container used to keep food hot for catering) since I only have one small oven. So many casseroles AND a ham will require TWO! LOL

I just love cooking for people. It truly is my happy place. Too bad that doing it professionally is not in the cards – although I think that doing it professionally would likely ruin it for me anyway.

So, I hope everyone has a great Turkey Day! Eat too much and watch football if you have network TV! (I DO miss live sports A LOT, but I refuse to pay Combastard for their stupid cable package and HD antennae don’t work well here.). I guess it’ll be movies for us.

Cheers!!

How I Saved a Failed Recipe

I have tried two recipes from Milk Street – the Christopher Kimball dealie. The first was a stovetop chicken and risotto dish and the second was called Red Chile Soup. The first recipe I rescued with added herbs, lots more salt and lemon juice. But the soup recipe was just NOT GOOD. I actually made it a point to follow the recipe to the letter.

Here is the sad, bland Red Chile Soup ingredients:

2 ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into a few pieces
2 chipotle chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into a few pieces (I used a pasilla, and New Mexico chiles
Boiling water, for soaking the chilies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 plum tomatoes, cored
1 small white onion, root end intact, halved and peeled
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
6 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup masa harina or three 6-inch corn tortillas (I buzzed up some corn meal for this.)
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and shiitake, thinly sliced (I used cremini, shiitake and rehydrated dried chanterelles)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges, to serve

Notice ONE teaspoon of cumin and only 2 cloves garlic for a 6+ cups recipe. Yeah. There’s your first red flag. The directions are pretty straightforward. Roast the onions and tomatoes, toast and soak the dried chiles, then toss it all in the blender and puree. Cook the puree for a few minutes to reduce, add mushrooms, broth and the cup of water/masa. Season to taste. Pretty simple. And VERY VERY bland. I did not use 6 cups of chicken stock, thank the gods, I only used four, which brings us to about 7-8 cups volume all in. A lot. I added probably a Tbl of salt to this and another half pound of creminis. I did not bother with cilantro or limes, but I think both would be nice for service.

I am not at all happy with the taste of this soup, so I decide to turn it into chili. I added:

2 chubs of soyrizo (Cacique, the BEST)
3 roasted hatch chiles (I had these in the freezer)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl chili powder
1 Tbl ancho powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbl tomato paste
1 can black beans, partially drained
2 Tbl ketchup
2 tsp sugar

You can still taste the dried chiles (from the original recipe), which is nice and the soyrizo is up front, too. The mushrooms give nice texture – but the shiitakes have just a tish too much Asian flavor for chili. It could use more black beans, but I only had one can. The recipe almost doubled in size with all the additions I did to rescue it. It’s almost a gallon! It is a little bit looser than my usual chili, but I didn’t want to add more thickener and have to re-season.

This chili will be just great for chili cheese tots! I just had it with lime and some crema: YUM!

All in all, I’m happy that I managed to rescue the dish and make it tasty and edible. That Red Chile Soup recipe from Milk Street was straight up useless. That is two in a row that I’ve tried from that site and both were bland and called for little to no spices. So, here’s your warning: DO NOT bother with Milk Street recipes!

The thing to remember when rescuing any recipe that’s gone sideways, is to think about how to use the flavor profile you’ve got to either make something similar (soup -> chili) or amp up the lacking flavors by adding herbs and/or citrus. It’s surprising how much herbs and citrus can really make flavors pop. Being able to rescue a recipe is a handy skill to have, especially when you try out as many as I do! Just think about the flavors you have, then go from there. It takes a little practice, but it’s worth learning. I HATE wasting food, so it’s one of my prized skills to be able to use what I’ve already cooked rather than toss it. :)

Southern Corn Casserole

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Southern Corn Casserole

This is the typical recipe that I've added a couple of things to. It is VERY easy and VERY delicious!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Southern
Keyword corn, corn casserole, corn pudding
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Servings 8
Author misangela

Equipment

  • 9x9 or any 2 quart casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 1 can whole corn drained
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can diced green chiles 4oz small can, drained
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced on bias sub shallot or fine dice onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbl mayo optional, but gives a little acidity
  • 4 oz butter (one stick), melted COOL before adding to mix!
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt (Dixie Crystal Kosher) taste before cooking, this can take up to twice as much salt!
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese optional topping

Instructions

  • Preaheat oven to 375°F and spray baking dish with food release (PAM).
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayo and eggs.
  • Slowly whisk in cooled butter, then whisk in Jiffy mix.
  • Fold in corn (drained!), cream corn, chiles (drained), onion, garlic and salt. Mix until homogenous.
  • Pour mix into baking dish and bake in 375° oven, covered with foil, for about 35 minutes. Remove foil, turn up heat to 400°, add cheese if using and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes or so. The casserole will puff up and become browned. It is done when the center is fully cooked. Look for 160-165°F with a thermometer.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.