In Which Ms. Bean Finds A Recipe & Makes It Her Way

Saw the recipe. Thought it sounded good.

Made the recipe using ingredients I had on hand.  Ingredients that were close enough to those listed in the recipe.

Similar.

Didn’t have apple cider, so used pomegranate juice instead.  Most of a small bottle.

Didn’t have the specific aromatic spices required so substituted Penzey’s mulling spices.  Put about a teaspoon of them in a tea ball, so I wouldn’t have to strain the mess through cheesecloth later.

Lazy, but thinking ahead.

Didn’t have a clementine in the house.  Contemplated using a grapefruit, that was in the house, but decided that the tanginess of the pomegranate juice would not be improved with grapefruit zest in this recipe.

Also, I’m a messy zester, thus it came to be that no citrus was added.

Didn’t have any fresh ginger, so used crystallized ginger.  Two pieces.

Didn’t have the requisite amount of castor sugar, so used the end of the cane sugar in the bottom of the sugar bowl.  About three tablespoons.

Probably.

Put tea ball with spices into juice in a saucepan.  Brought the mess to a boil, allowing it to simmer on the stove top for a while.  Took out tea ball, added sugar.  Mixed mess around until sugar dissolved, then let sweetened mess simmer on very low heat until it thickened into a syrup.

The result?

Delicious, drizzled on fresh fruit salad. Or added, a splash at time, to a glass of red wine.

The recipe?

Vaguely adhered to.

The friend’s response?

Shock + dismay that I didn’t follow the recipe as written, but a request for the recipe exactly as I made it.

As if I have any idea… 🙄

~ ~ ~ ~
QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you follow recipes precisely as written OR do you wing it as you go along?

And how does that work out for you?

~ ~ ~ ~

It’s Halloween, Betwixt And Between, If You Know What I Mean

How in the world could it be the last day of October already?

Like witches, time flies, eh?

It’s been a busy weird month here at Chez Bean, but we did manage to turn three basic pumpkins into festive Jack-o-Lanterns, one of which is featured below.

And I have plenty of candy* + plastic bloody eyeballs on hand for tonight’s trick-or-treaters**.

So all is well here as I wait… wait… wait… for darkness to fall, when little ghosts and goblins at the front door will call.

Happy Halloween!

* I usually hand out Snickers, but [get this] yesterday when I went to buy Snickers at Kroger it was sold out, so I opted for Twix & Skittles & Starburst.

** We get anywhere from 125 to 225 kids here.  The number fluctuates depending on Halloween Day weather and the day of the week.

The Tale Of The Confused Dude Going Further In The Ford Pickup Truck

• • •

Here’s what made me laugh way too much the other day.

I was on a two-lane curvy township road, stopped in construction traffic in a single file lane with about 20 other vehicles, waiting, when…

This young dude in a huge new Ford F-150 pickup truck in front of me started revving his badass engine, bouncing his truck on its bloated large tires, impatient, as he waited for the opportunity to be allowed to drive on the one lane that the construction crew had us using.

But apparently Mr. Pickup Truck zoned out during the minutes he was forced to sit still so that when the flagger gave the go ahead to drive forward, Mr. Pickup Truck drove his vehicle on the wrong side of the road: the side of the road that the flagger was not pointing to.

• • •

Continuing on with this story I will attempt to tell it in a non-mocking mature way.

Meanwhile, while we [the other drivers and I] watched, the flagger dropped the STOP/SLOW sign he was holding and started yelling “NO!”as he ran down the middle of the road around the curve after Mr. Pickup Truck.

Mr. Pickup Truck, however, was oblivious to what he’d done wrong and vroom-vroom-vroomed around the curve in the road where we could see that he had to stop, abruptly, behind a backhoe– that was now blocked by Mr. Pickup Truck’s F-150.

The man on the backhoe did not appear to be happy about this development, and seemed to have a few words to say to Mr. Pickup Truck.  I was too far away to hear the actual conversation, but from body language I’m going to surmise that the backhoe operator used words not suitable for a PG-13 blog such as this one.

• • •

Not wanting to seem unkind here, but this was darned funny on both a slapstick level and on an existential level.

First of all, I got to see this young guy do something really dumb in which no one was hurt.  Plus, it was humorous for me to drive, in the proper lane, by Mr. Pickup Truck who looked astonished that he was trapped on the wrong side of the road, unable to move in any direction until the flagger took pity on him.

But this didn’t happen immediately because the flagger was a person who believed that stupid actions had consequences. Thus he allowed the rest of us alert drivers to go on our way before [presumably] letting Mr. Pickup Truck drive in reverse around the curve back to where Mr. Pickup Truck needed to be so that he could drive in the lane that was open.

At the same time, on a more meta level, I got giggling because Ford’s ad campaign is: “Go Further.”  Little did they know that their slogan needed to be tweaked;  that is, apparently Ford needs to clarify to their truck buyers that the drivers should go further in the correct lane. 🙄

I Believe Sheldon Was Right, The ATMs Are Starting To Rise Up

“I don’t trust banks. I believe that when the robots rise up, ATMs will lead the charge.”
~ Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

• • •

HEY! DID YOU KNOW… that an ATM can take your card away from you? A legitimate card that you’ve had for a while? A card that attaches to an account that has your money in it?

Well, it can. And one did.

Here’s what happened: I drove to our local bank branch, got into the stay-in-your-car ATM lane, got to the machine, put my bright red ATM card into the machine– and WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM the machine ate my card.

Just. Like. That.

The message on the ATM screen said that my card had been confiscated for security reasons and that I needed to contact my financial institution for further assistance.

Considering that I was at my financial institution I found this message ludicrous.

Annoying.

Off-putting, even.

• • •

• • •

SO I SWORE AT… the ATM, as one does, then I drove around to the front of the bank, found a parking spot, got out of my car, wandered into the bank branch, waited in line– and finally got to a teller.

This teller, a pleasant woman, told me that the bank doesn’t want its customers to use our old bright red ATM cards, so the bank is confiscating them when you try to use one. Thereafter, I was quickly issued a new light blue ATM card that the bank wants me to use.

Uh huh.

And it worked when I used it so… *yay* I guess.

• • •

• • •

BUT HERE’S THE THING… what if I’d been on vacation when this happened?  Or at the airport stuck waiting for a flight? Or I needed the cash immediately for some reason*?

What would have happened then?

The reality is that I would have been in dire straits through no doing of my own– all because the bank, who has my money, doesn’t like the ATM card it issued to me.

So instead of just sending me a new card, the bank decided that it’d be better to risk my safety and experience my ire, than waste the money on an envelope and postage to send me a new light blue ATM card.

That gets me to my money.

All of which has me thinking that Sheldon might be onto something, ‘ya know?

• • •

* Actual real-life examples of when I needed cash now:

  1. in the hospital emergency waiting room late at night by myself, hungry, in need of cash to use in the vending machine
  2. in a foreign country too tired to use public transit back to hotel, in need of cash to use to take a taxi
  3. at a local art show, having found a beautiful piece of art, in need of cash to buy it from the person who made it

Images courtesy of Library of Congress: |1| |2|

Carelessness, Coupons, And Cake– OH MY!

It would seem that at some point in the recent past we stole our neighbor’s mail.  Well, we didn’t intentionally steal it as much as we accidentally acquired their mail.

My defense for this lapse is that we aren’t mail thieves, per se, as much as distracted, pre-elderly homeowners who assume any and all mail in our mailbox is, indeed, our mail.

But that assumption would be wrong. Oh yes, so wrong.

In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed this theft accidental acquirement if not for the good old coupons.  You know, the paper kind that come in the mail IF you’re a Kroger Plus Customer.

I’m talking about the ones that are specifically sent to you because you buy the same stuff over and over.

# # #

Look at those shopping carts all lined up. So tidy.  {Photo via Pixabay by Michael Gaida}

# # #

IT’S LIKE THIS, my gentle readers: the other day I went to get our mail from our mailbox and I see that our monthly Kroger Plus Customer coupon envelope is among the letters/junk mail in my hand.  I go inside the house, open the envelope, whereupon I feast my eyes on our very special and specific coupons.

[Some of which are for FREE money off your order if you spend a certain amount of money at the checkout.  This is normal.]

But it dawns on me that just a few days before Zen-Den had retrieved the mail from the mailbox, opened what he assumed was our Kroger Plus Customer envelope and left the coupons on the kitchen counter for me to file.

Which I hadn’t done yet.

Suddenly I start looking at these coupons on the counter, thinking how peculiar it is that we have coupons for Hubba Bubba bubble gum, and Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Rolls with Icing, and Simply Potatoes frozen potatoes. Items we don’t buy. Ever.

[I also notice that the FREE coupons are for things like Betty Crocker cake mix, not for FREE money.  That’s not our normal.]

# # #

Look at Barney Kroger, founder of the Kroger supermarket chain. So dapper.  {photo source here via Library of Congress}

# # #

SLOWLY IT DAWNS on me that the coupons we have sitting on our kitchen counter are someone else’s coupons.  And because the envelope that these coupons came in is long gone, there’s no way to return the coupons to them.

Meaning, of course, that we, the Beans, jointly and severally, are miscreants of the lowest order, stealing [acquiring?] grocery coupons from our neighbors, like we’re two addled-brained overwrought suburbanites without the sense to read the front of an envelope.

Which clearly we are… but does not necessarily mean that we’re above using an accidentally acquired coupon to get a free box of cake mix.

Because, you know, CAKE!

Out For A Walk, Learning That Sometimes It’s Difficult To Go Home Again

THE OTHER AFTERNOON having taken a walk around the neighborhood, I stopped at our mailbox that is down by the street to collect our mail before walking up our driveway to the house.

With the sun directly in my eyes, looking down at the mail in my hands, I heard them before I saw them.

The first one, who was standing in the middle of our driveway, was older, a little plump, with a collar– and snarling at me.

Teeth exposed. Tail down.

The second one, who was running up from the ravine behind our house and heading toward our driveway, was barking loudly and appeared to have me in his sights.

That one was collar-less.

🏘️ 📪 👀 🐶 🛑

NOW I’VE HAD stray &/or lost dogs block my driveway before, but those dogs were friendly with tails wagging. Cheery fellows looking for a little pat on the head.

Not these two.  They were menacing. On my property. Between me and the front door.

So, with my heart pumping about 2,000 beats per minute, I moseyed myself slowly back down the driveway, then stood in the middle of our completely, utterly empty street, looking at our front door while contemplating what to do… what. to. do.

⭐️📱💭 🏡 🔑

TRYING NOT TO give into despair, and wondering if there’s an app I should have on my smart phone for this sort of circumstance, an idea dawned on me.  A solution so obvious.

And effective, I hoped.

Thus it came to be that I shouted at these two wolf wannabes to: GO HOME.

They both stopped in place, looked at each other, looked back at me– then ran off in different directions, presumably to their respective homes.

And what did I do?

I ran through the grass directly to the front door, still clutching the mail, key ready to unlock the door quickly.  Then once inside the house I slammed the door shut and thanked my lucky stars that the doggies in my path were all show, no go.

When One Doth Use The Snot Out Of Something

I love when the absurd intersects with the ridiculous, and everything suddenly makes sense. 

 { Classic TV: Catch the toast. Kiss the grapefruit. }

~ ~ ~ ~

I.  Years ago Zen-Den and I were walking around a discount mall complex.  It was crowded, we were walking slowly, and we chanced to overhear part of a serious conversation between two people who we didn’t know.

What we heard was: “We used the snot out of those oven mitts.”

We started laughing because neither one of us could imagine a scenario where you’d say this sentence with such earnestness.  Of course Z-D and I, being who we are, immediately adopted this sentence as our favorite inside joke that means absolutely nothing, but it’s darned funny to say.

Don’t judge.

~ ~ ~ ~

II.  I’ve been cooking and baking more this winter than usual. We didn’t decorate the house for the holidays, but instead I decided to be festive and make some foods that we especially like: stews, soups, casseroles, breads, biscuits.

Even though the holidays are over now, I’ve just kept on cooking.

All was going well in my happy little cooking world until our last oven mitt ripped in two.  This left me with one square potholder and a dish towel to use when getting food out of the oven, and off the top of the stove.

I adapt. No big deal, right?

~ ~ ~ ~

III.  It didn’t concern me to not have any oven mitts because I was making do with what I had.  It was only when Zen-Den walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was doing that I began to realize that this conversation was going to go somewhere funny.

I got the giggles but was able to explain the situation to him, and for the first time ever I was able to say in all truthfulness: “We used the snot out of those oven mitts, didn’t we?”

Thereby using our favorite absurd overheard sentence in a non-ironic way to describe the present ridiculous situation– and to finally understand why anyone would say that sentence to begin with.

Life is good.