Saturday, January 10, 2015


     The cats woke me at six, hungry. I fed them, shutting the door that closes off the back of the house so Huck wouldn't eat up all of Rannie's breakfast.  The TV came on and perkily informed me it was eleven below.  I went back to bed and turned up the electric blanket.

     Around about eight, I heard a mild commotion: Tam had awakened and realized she and Rannie were shut away from Huck, me...and the litter box.  The TV was still claiming subzero temperatures.  I went back to sleep, pulling the covers over my head.

     Along about nine-thirty, the tiny, two-dimensional people inside my TV* were finally reporting "warmer" temps: two above.  (For you seafolk -- Canada, Czechoslovakia, Chile -- that rounds to -17). So I got up, despite not wanting to.

     Cold as it is, breakfast is a matter of "what's in the larder?"  A little extra-lean ground sirloin, some bacon, eggs, canned diced tomatoes, canned black beans, an onion and some green olives, along with various spices.

     Fried up two slices of bacon, drained off ninety percent of the fat -- look, you have to fry the lean stuff in something -- and had a look at the onion. Moldy.  Gah!

     But I had some dehydrated onion -- this is why you stock such stuff, after all -- and once the water was bubbling from the beef, I added it, neatly solving the "do I drain the ground beef or not?" issue.  A little this and that from the spice rack (parsley, thyme, hot paprika) went in as well. Then I snipped up a dried hot Chinese pepper, read the label ("Add whole while cooking.  Remove before serving."), fished out all the bits and put in a whole one.  Drained the canned tomato, added it, got it bubbling, tossed in a little basil and some Italian seasoning (also basil, plus some other things).  The black beans were marked "Low Sodium," so I snipped the cooked bacon and a few olives into the wok, drained the beans well, added about half and decided I liked the proportions.  Cooked all that down a little, drained off the nice-looking broth into a Pyrex measuring cup and parked it over a pilot light,† pushed everything to the sides, and quick-scrambled a couple eggs in the center.  Mixed it all together and served with a bit of the warm, spicy broth poured over: tasty! Surprisingly low-to-no heat and a complex set of flavors.

     If I was doing it again, I'd skim the broth for luck , add about half the black-bean liquid to the broth with a drop of hot sauce, and cook it a little, possibly thickening with a little arrowroot or cornstarch.  (Arrowroot can be found in small containers in the spice section.  It costs like gold or Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee but it's a wonderfully unobtrusive thickener.‡) 

     And now here I am, for about a half-day of whatever, since I'm scheduled to go in early tomorrow.
* Nothing personal, Kellie and Naomi; the process of televising does that to all its vict subjects.

† This is why we cook over gas ranges, that and the very fast response to control inputs. Oh, and the ability to stack up burner separators to get very low-heat simmering, and....  It's the mature cooktop technology.  Ovens, on the other hand, you're much better off with an electric.

‡  For instance, you can use it to help the egg white get more structure when making "egg nests," or "eggs in a cloud," though that version doesn't.  If you have time, this is a versatile treat -- people make it on top of toast/ham/cheese, or add well-cooled bacon to the egg white, or various cheeses.  Oh, great, now I'm hungry again.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I prefer a gas stove because I can turn the oven on when it gets this cold for supplemental heat :)

I could shoot the HVAC salesman who, against my better judgment, managed to talk me into an 80K BTUH furnace rather than a 100K. But they figure furnaces for a 70 degree rise over outdoor ambient in this part of the country...and that's what an 80K will do for a 1900 sf house. Which doesn't help when it gets 80 degrees below my preferred thermostatic setpoint...

Drang said...

Oh, great, now I'm hungry again.
It's the Chinese pepper. ;-)

Jeffrey Smith said...

Do you realize that what you think of as a small breakfast, most people consider a gourmet meal?

Hmmm. You could get your own show on the Food Network and drop the current paycheck supplier...

Roberta X said...

:) You're too kind, Jeffrey.

DaddyBear said...

Sounds delicious. The things you make when we're just trying to clean out the cupboards always seem to be the most tasty.

But what is this "go back to bed" thing you speak of? I dimly remember waking up after the sun rises, but it may just have been a dream from my early 20's.

Old NFO said...

Now I'm hungry too... sigh