I thought I had a solution to keep the cat from peeing and crapping in my house plant. I had randomly placed long skewers into the dirt around the plant and the edges of the pot. I also stupidly held her in my arms over the plant and poured a glass of water on her. Understandably she frrreeeaaaked out. Good! A few scratches on my chest and arms were worth it if she would stop her nasty new habit of using my Peace Lily plant as a litter box.

His Our cat is seven years old and has never had any problems before but this winter she started peeing in this particular plant in our dining room. She does use her litter box and she also goes outside whenever she wants through her THREE cat doors. (Well, not at night because a neighborhood cat keeps coming in and hanging out, but that is another story.)

I googled "cat peeing in plants" and most suggestions were for moth balls in the dirt and coffee grinds, which grow green fuzzy mold by the way. I did that. I hated it too. Our dining room started to smell like an old folks home break room. But when she started getting even more comfortable and moved up to doing her #2 business in the plant I wanted a more lethal deterrent.
I finally found a use for those skewers that you have to buy in bulk for that one cookout where you served kabobs? Yea, those. But apparently I didn't use enough skewers. Not anymore. After TD cleaned up all of his cat's our cat's lincoln logs out of the dirt and the two on the floor I went to town.

Welcome to our miniature Viet-Cong deathtrap. Suggestions welcome, especially if they are leaning toward giving his the cat to the ex-wife.
What do you make for dinner when your A/C goes out and the repair man is still in your house at 7:00 at night? Asian cold noodles. There are many recipes out there but I improvised and used only what I had on hand and I think the sauce turned out great. It takes just the time to cook the noodles to prepare and the noodles were light and packed with different flavors, sweet, sour, and spice all to our particular taste. A perfect meal for my husband and me Friday night and if our air conditioning is still not fixed tonight, Monday, then we will be having this again. Due to the simplicity this dish will be a staple in my fridge for the rest of the summer.

I had some diced chicken already cooked that I added to this. Personally, I liked it better without the meat but I think next time I will stop on the way home and pick up a rotisserie chicken instead. Here are the ingredients I used and in parentheses are what traditional sesame noodle dishes call for.

Soba noodles or spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup of Light Soy Sauce
2 tbls of Natural Smuckers creamy peanut butter, heated in microwave to soften and make stirring easier. (Tahini paste)
1/4 cup of Seasoned Rice vinegar. I only had about 1.5 tbls left so I used Apple Cider Vinegar too
(1/4 cup of Mirin is also used but I didn't have any and I didn't miss it)
1/8 cup of sugar
3 tbls of sesame oil
1 tsp of Thai garlic chili paste (crushed red pepper, hot sauce)
1 tsp of garlic powder (4 cloves crushed garlic)
1 tsp of ginger (an inch of fresh ginger peeled and grated)

When served:
2-3 tbls of toasted sesame seeds
3-4 green onions, sliced thin with about 3 inches of the dark green
optional: chicken, shrimp, tofu, thinly sliced steak

Cook the noodles al dente in salted water. Be sure not to cook all the way because they will soak up more if the liquid in the fridge. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Add all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl that you can whisk them vigorously in. You could use a food processor or blender but I chose to exercise my biceps. Blend until smooth and taste frequently to adjust flavoring to your taste.

In a toaster oven cook sesame seeds for about 4 minutes on 300, or until slightly browned.

Pour sauce over noodles and either garnish and eat right away or put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and let the flavors combine and saturate the noodles. Your choice. I will make this every week and just keep some in the fridge for a quick meal either as a main dish or a side. A lighter alternative to pasta salad.
It has been a long time, much longer than I intended to go before writing another post. It started out trying to just write while I am at home and not at work. As you can tell that was not successful. Staring at a computer for 9 hours a day and then sitting down at another one once the kids are in bed is not my idea of relaxation. And it is all about me don't ya know. Due to my complete lack of ambition to keep my butt off the couch after 9 and ending a decade long battle with insomnia; it looks like I will be toning up my toggling skills and perfecting my hearing to be almost bat like (wait are they deaf or blind?) to covertly post during the work day.

But I have been busy. I made two of the most wonderful cakes EVER. A three layer pistachio chocolate ganache cake for my mother's birthday and a three layer lemon-raspberry chocolate ganache for my husband's 4oth birthday. They turned out fabulous!!

Each layer had a layer of marzipan and in the case of the pistachio, apricot preserves and the lemon, raspberry preserves. I even made the decorations out of marzipan. I'm crafty. They were not hard to make just a little time consuming. I will be posting the recipe and the how to for the Lemon Raspberry cake because I totally had to figure out the recipe on my very own. And it turned out phenomenal! I got the idea here at Smitten Kitchen.

I also made a great chipolte potato salad that was the hit of our cookout last weekend. No eggs and hardly any mayonnaise made it perfect for vegetarians, kids, and my husband who gags at anything white. We HE also smoked a brisket in the new smoker the kids gave him for Father's Day. Super good. I used a marinade I saw on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and it was so moist but with a little kick. On Father's day we had beef tenderloin that I marinated in Jack Daniels and Soy Sauce. TD put a rub on the beef and cooked it on the grill. So good.

Looks like with just the above recipe sharing I have a plethora of posts. Plus with all the monotony excitement in my life I will be returning with a vengeance. Did you know that when you reach your 100th post you are suppose to do a "100 Things About Me" post? I am almost there. If I was to psycho-analyze me I would bet that is why I haven't been posting, the pressure to reveal myself is looming.

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Tri-Tip in the crock pot could not be easier. There is no browning, no trimming the fat, just season and walk away. But finding Tri-Tip in the grocery store here in Oklahoma used to be a challenge. Or maybe it was just my own personal challenge because I do not have cuts of meat memorized. Imagine that! If I chose not to memorize my own mother's phone number because I can always look it up on my cell phone then why in the world would I memorize cuts of meat?? I always knew that all I needed to do was press the call button at the grocery store and ask the butcher but what if he asked me if I wanted sirloin or roast? (see, I really have no idea if those are a location on the cow or a names for a certain cut of meat) I did not feel like I could answer a single question the butcher might ask except to repeat my request for Tri-Tip with "I had it when I lived in California and I know it is very inexpensive."

Tri-Tip was originally used only for ground beef and was shipped primarily to California to be used as a cheap cut of beef. Here go read about it. When we would visit my ex-husbands uncle in Santa Barbara his uncle would always make it and act like it was meat of the gods. He would load up a spray bottle and spray it with a soy sauce, oil and water mixture about every hour. All the while telling me that I was going to have the best piece of meat served in Santa Barbara. He also told me some cockamamie story that the name Tri-Tip came from where Santa Barbara was located in California. (Google fails to mention that) I later found out it was a super cheap cut of meat and the reason he had to cook it all day and keep it marinated was to make it edible.

Fast forward to now. Now, I try to cook at home almost every night and since I work full time I need to use my crock pot as much as possible otherwise it would be chicken nuggets and fries in the toaster every night. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, uh huh, no way, just raising my own bar)

When we made our monthly trip to Sam's Club I spotted huge packages of Tri-Tip, cheap. We bought a couple packages and I split it up into family meal portions and froze it. I made some of it the other night and Oh my! It was delicious and flavorful. It is very versatile after it has been cooked. We have had it plain with just the seasoning it was cooked with and it has been made into BBQ sandwiches. Just think, if I wasn't such a twit I would have been making this all along just by asking the butcher. I do live in the state of Beef Producers after all they could have given me some before they shipped it off to Cali.

If you want to try a great beef dinner that does not take any browning and is not quite a roast, not quite a flank steak, not quite a brisket then drop the pride and ask your butcher for Tri-Tip if it is not in your meat counter.

  • 2-3 lbs of Tri-Tip. (mine looked like 4 big boneless ribs not sure if that is normal or not. ASK YOUR BUTCHER)
  • 1/2 cup of Beef Broth or 1/2 cup of water with dry beef broth mixed in
  • 2 tbls of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 packet of Dry Italian Dressing mix (Sam's needs to make this in a big bottle like the Ranch)
  • Generous sprinkling of Garlic Salt
  • 1 tbls of Ground Mustard
  • 2-4 dashes of Hot Sauce
  • drizzle of Olive Oil

Before adding the Tri-Tip mix the broth/water and Worcestershire together then put the meat in the Crock pot. Generously sprinkle the meat with Garlic Salt and Ground Mustard then sprinkle half the packet of Dry Italian Dressing Mix all over. Add a few dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce and drizzle lightly with Olive Oil. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve it how you want as a sandwich, as a BBQ meat, as a meat side with it's own au jus, or just plain with a baked potato. It's all good!
(Link to recipe print out)

Last Friday night we were invited to have dinner at my dad's and I was a little stressed about it. (you can read about it here) But I shouldn't have been. It was a great night!

My dad's wife was so incredibly sweet and she made sure we had anything we could possibly want. Plus it doesn't hurt that she kept our wine glasses full.

That is what is so different about being around my dad now, openly drinking a glass of wine or a beer. I grew up in a family where drinking alcohol was not tolerated. At all. (I did, for sure, A LOT, but never ever in front of or in anyway where they would have known) I do not think my mother has ever, ever had a sip of alcohol. I know that is hard to believe but it is true. When she was young my grandfather drank a lot. I think he might have been an alcoholic but it is hardly ever discussed, and with my mother's view on drinking being so skewed-two drinks and you are inebriated- I am not sure. But she has never tolerated drinking and assured us that when Jesus turned the water into wine it was just grape juice. I always thought my dad felt the same way and I think he does not like to drink but he doesn't freak out if someone has a glass of wine before their meal, during, or after. His wife has no problem with it and neither do her new stepdaughters or their husbands.

Last Friday night was the first time my dad's wife saw my sister and I interact with each other. Things had been so tense during their courtship-so soon after the divorce, and it was especially crazy and tense when they were planning their wedding. Their wedding and the aftermath is what eventually led to none of us speaking to one person or the other. But my dad's wife always kept positive and she didn't get bogged down with all the crap. For that I am so thankful.

I am also glad we went Friday night. Dinner was great, the steaks were fabulous, better than my dad has ever made. She made this wonderfully light lemonade pie that was a perfect ending to our meal. My sister's little girl played with my stepson and my daughter was able to soak up as much attention as she could.

There were a couple of times I caught my dad watching all of us and smiling with a faraway look on his face. There were no arguments, no talk of politics, no debating religions, only this small portion of our family getting together to share a meal and spend time together. Time really is helping ease my parents 36 year marriage breakup. It is softening the edges that is for sure and it is showing me what kind of stepmom I should aspire to be when my stepkids are grown.
My younger sister is in the area visiting her friends and staying with my mom who lives only five blocks from my dad's house. The same house my parents remodeled, downsized, and moved to while preparing to build on their lake property. Before they divorced after 36 years of marriage.

My dad and sister are finally on cordial speaking terms since my parents divorce 3 years ago. Now my sister can no longer avoid visiting my dad in the house he shared with our mom. Something I tried to do for as long as possible but since I live only 45 minutes away I ran out of excuses.

My dad and his wife have invited her and her daughter for dinner. They have asked my family to join them. At their house. For dinner. At the antique table that always wobbled a bit until my dad fixed it after my mom moved out. The table that will be set with plates my mom bought to match the kitchen. Prepared on the same island counter that I sat around watching my mom as she cooked. Things sitting on the stainless steel countertops my mom loved but that I thought were a pain to keep clean yet now realize how great they would be in my own home.

Even though it is not something I look forward to, going to the house my parents lived in together, I actually like the place better now. Without my mom my dad has less "stuff" and it looks more like a model home you can tour in a new suburban development. My dad's wife has a great sense of style different from my mother's but nice and comfortable all the same. She has made it feel open and airy.

It is just very hard to spend time in that house. It is the place where the arguments ended in apathy more than a true compromise. Where my dad spent his time in his office and my mother in the kitchen or sun room. Away from each other. It is where I spent my pregnancy crying over my divorce and the place I was sleeping the night I went into labor.

Watching my step mom cook using the pans and utensils my mother left for my dad is hard. Actually gut wrenching since it makes me physically clench my stomach and will the hard knot in my throat to go away so I won't cry. Much like watching Little House on the Prairie when I was younger.

Everyone means well. No one is intentionally trying to wound anyone. We are all just dealing with the reality like it is all normal and has always been this way. My dad is proud of what the place looks like and what they have done to it. They spend most of their time in San Antonio at his wife's house but for business reasons my dad has to come back to Oklahoma during the mid week. This is the first time in his life he has had to clean up after himself and he has done a great job. I think he is lonely too. I think he misses having us in the house. But it is hard. Very hard.

The eggshells we walked on while my parents were married have, for the most part, been swept away. There is no longer this undercurrent of tension and anger charging the house. That is nice.

But the memories are still there, and to be polite and kind to my dad's wife, my sister and our families will be having dinner tonight at my dad's. Steak. Divorce sucks. As a kid and as an adult. I think, like everything, time is the only thing that can help. Or a restaurant.......
I am not a huge bread eater. You know, the type of person that must have cannot survive without a bread product at the dinner table. I thank my mother for that because if I was I swear I would be enormous. I once dated a guy that had to have a loaf of bread on the table for every meal, Wonder or Roman Meal, it didn't matter just some sort of bread-dammit, Now go fix me a Turkey Pot Pie.

At our house we tend to limit the bread with a meal in order to get everyone to eat the actual meal and not just the dinner roll. But I never did get on that bandwagon of a burger with no bun or a wrap with a huge piece of lettuce instead of a tortilla. (Unless it is Lettuce wraps from PF Changs then I am all over the no carb craze)

But times....they are a'changin:

Homemade Whole Wheat sandwich bread. Delicious! I made this on Saturday and my house still smells like a bakery.

(Did you know that I almost rented an apartment right above a Great Harvest Bread Company when I moved to Chicago? My roommate and I both were estactic over the aroma wafting up through the hardwood floor but we were not thrilled with the tub rigged with a shower smack dab in the middle of the kitchen......uh no.)

I used this recipe and it was super simple but makes a TON. I am all thinking "my Kitchen Aid mixer is bigger than yours" (sing-song voice) to the comments but no, the dough rose over and beyond the dough hook attachment. That was probably the only difficult part, that and the waiting and wanting. It made 3 large loafs and 1 smaller one that in a normal size bread pan would have been fine. I decided to try cinnamon swirl bread with the puny loaf.

I added flax seed meal to boost the nutrients and I used 1/3 honey and 1/3 brown sugar instead of just brown. (those that know me know I mock the organic but my next post will explain why I might have to hand it to the tree huggers)

I also experimented with slashing down the middle trying to be the Split Top Mama. That failed. I have no idea when in the process you are suppose to make the split? Before the second rise, after the rise and before the oven? Who knows.

Being the Hannah Homemaker that I am *cough*cough* I cut all of these loafs for sandwich style bread. I then bagged 2 loaves and froze them. Seriously, I am getting scared of my future. I am thinking it will either involve buying a Jim Giles Safe Room and installing it under the cover of night and filling it full of food for when the market collapses OR I will be entertaining folks in a pioneer outfit and apron at Silver Dollar City.