Today’s Ponderances: Let the Baking Begin, A stupid chef trick….and more!


Date Nut Bread in a well-used oven!

  •  Baking has begun for the Holiday Weekend

First up is Old Fashioned Date Nut Bread.  High hopes it will remind me of some awesome tasting Date Nut Breads I enjoyed many years ago.  Always better than those bricks of Fruit Cake with it’s petrified and mysteriously colored fruits.  Stay tuned for the verdict. And more Easter Baking.

  • The first Stupid Chef trick of Easter Weekend

I was really trying to be a good citizen by salvaging some Strawberries that were on their way to garbage bin.  So last evening, while preparing dinner, I sorted the strawberries into two batches while pulling the stems and leaves.  Batch one was for breakfast cereal additions or other general snacking, batch 2 was on the verge of rotting and certainly not beauty contest winners.  The second batch got rinsed and spread onto a paper towel lined sheet pan to dry thoroughly.  The plan was to then trim as needed and/or slice in half to be flash frozen and stored in the freezer bag of smoothie fruits.  The strawberries were transferred to a table in the living room (where on a normal evening no man or woman will enter or spend time).  This morning when making cereal it was realized that the berries were still on their tray in the living room “drying”.  After breakfast I dutifully trimmed the 2/3 of these berries that survived and placed them on a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment and placed them on the top shelf of our bottom drawer freezer.  After putting the Date-Nut Bread into the oven I needed to refill my perpetual glass of ice water.  Pulled open the drawer of the freezer and the shelf that houses the automatic ice bin and heard something fall to the bottom of the freezer.  I deduct that, once again, I have opened the freezer and pulled the top shelf out just as the ice maker was dropping a load and since the drawer was pulled out the ice fell to the bottom of the freezer. But when I attempted to close the freezer said ice was blocking my ability to secure my filled to the brim with frozen-morsels freezer drawer!  On my knees to reach behind the basket drawer to retrieve the errant ice cubes, that have never caused this much trouble in the past. (For your psyche-imaging imagine a Cirque du Soleil contortionist doing this move, sans costume and double jointed limbs….argh!)  Peering inside I see one strawberry and no ice cubes from my contorted viewing capacity.  Oh s—, (sugar, or any uncensored expletive you choose to believe I said)!  Still thinking it’s a few strawberries I move to the other side of the open drawer and realize all strawberries, sheet pan and parchment paper are down there preventing the freezer drawer from becoming one with the closed fridge!  Retrieval requires emptying full to the brim freezer basket-drawer and more contortion!  It seems like you’d want to just remove the freezer drawer in it’s entirety, but by the time I procure the manual and tools needed the frozen morsels will become sad puddles of their original forms.  The only…..I repeat….ONLY positive of this experience is now a mental inventory of what I own in the dead storage nether-regions of the freezer!  Like chocolate chip cookie dough, now being defrosted and will be baked for the youngest family member: Master Charlie James’ Easter dessert!  As my Passover-celebrating friends would say: OY VEY!!

  • The saying: EVERYTHING tastes better with Bacon has been proven yet again.

Last night’s dinner included Spanakopita Loaded Potatoes, recipe here.  I had been rooting through the fridge and discovered a 1/2 pound of bacon that I had forgotten to finish off and since I know I will buying another pound for Sunday, decided to bake this and use for lunches, etc.  Later while prepping the Spanakopita I crumbled a few slices of bacon into the mix!  Sacrilege?  Possibly, oh heck, probably.  Tasty? AbsoFreekinlutely!  To be transparently honest here, I probably wouldn’t have thought to add the bacon, but as we all know it’s nearly impossible to cook bacon, inhale the marvelous aroma, and not test a piece or two.  But that only left me craving more, ergo the successful addition to the Spanakopita twice baked potatoes! A word of caution if you choose to duplicated this recipe…while being amazingly delicious and creating a stunning presentation, it is labor intensive, not hard just time consuming!  Did I mention we loved it?  Also I didn’t have fresh oregano but I added mint and I’m here to say next time I would add both and a touch more garlic!

  • Evil Smoke detector at work!

We have lived in this apartment for 39 years this month!  Many years ago the building installed smoke detectors in all the apartments.  Ours is located in a squarish hallway off the dining room with access to the two bedrooms, the bathroom and two closets.  It’s about 12 feet away from the entrance of the kitchen.  Everytime I made toast the alarm would go off, even after cleaning out all the toaster crumbs!  So when I was seriously cooking it was always going off.  Back in the beginning I could reach the reset button, but one time while I was practicing cooking a 5×4 (a popular Personal Chef offering) I got tired to running to the hall and tapping the reset button so I removed the battery.  Hadn’t put it back in a lot of years.  Due to recent stove top grease fire in our downstairs neighbors apartment we experienced a good deal of smoke in our own kitchen.  At first we were concerned that our stove was on fire or possibly some electrical components behind the stove and dishwasher.  After proving it wasn’t our issue the Super received a call that people on the floor below could see and smell smoke on their floor.  He determined it was coming from the apartment directly below us and tried to gain access, however the elderly parents of the tenant would not answer the door until he reached the working daughter by phone.  Fire extinguished with no damage or personal injury etc.  This too close to home incident spurned me to reinstall the battery and see what happens.  Successfully made toast 5 or 6 times, cooked as many dinners with no issue of the detector going off.  However, after every shower we’ve taken, a few minutes after we’ve vacated the bathroom the friggin alarm goes off!!  I do take, long hot showers but really this never occurred before! So has this previously idle smoke detector morphed into a steam detector?



The finished Date Nut Bread

More Easter baking to come, and the final brunch menu is still in flux….maybe the Easter Bunny should bestow some inspiration on me!  To devil the eggs or not?



Eat Well…Be Well!

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