In the last two weeks I've schlepped plenty of boxes. And, it's not done yet.
First my dear friend Dottie had to be moved from independent living to the nursing wing of the retirement community. Her son Jim and I spent an afternoon packing her apartment. Then, he spent another morning finishing up. A lot of the things are boxed and in our garage awaiting the Kiwanis garage sale next weekend. Jim saved aside a box of her cookbooks. Dottie was a dietician so a lot of her cookbooks were directed to cooking for a crowd or were technical types. Three caught my eye. One is a Cincinnati cookbook that I've not yet read. The second is Betty Crocker through the years. And, the third is a Campbell's Soup cookbook. I've been reading recipes to Connie as we've traveled about and it's been like a trip down memory lane. One of us will say, "Oh, my mom used to do that!" and the other would say, "My mom did too!" You see, both of our moms dealt with working, raising a family and trying to keep them fed. My mom loved to cook, his didn't. But, both used a fair amount of canned soup! Truth be told, a couple of my favorite recipes have the ubiquitous Campbell's cream of whatever soup in them. So, although I may not make more than one or two of the recipes from this cookbook, it's certainly proven to be a wonderful journey!
Second, our friend Nancy has needed to get a couple of storage units cleaned out. Her husband, Terry, died seven years ago. She's not checked into the storage units since then. He was executive director of Kiwanis International. Needless to say, the opportunity to donate some things to the Kiwanis garage sale was a great incentive for us to dig into the units. Connie and Nancy and I spent most of a Saturday afternoon cleaning out half of one unit. Connie made about four trips to our garage - which is now bulging with garage sale goodies - and one trip to the dumpster at the office.
Last, but certainly not least, Mom has decided its time to move from her condo to an independent living apartment. Like me, she's got a lot of knick-knacks. And, they all have a story. While she's been thrilled to find that her kids and grandkids will enjoy and cherish the many treasures they've been given, it is still heart-wrenching to give away so many memories. Connie's weeded and mulched and trimmed the yard. A pair of robins found his work to be most disturbing and chattered away at him the first week. The next week, we were greeted by three baby robins all snuggled up in the nest. We're looking forward to seeing them this week! Taking in Mom's treasures has meant either giving away or storing some of mine. The pear that I bought so I'd have a grouping of three - with a couple of teapots that were my grandmother's - is in the garage sale stack. It's replaced by a teacup that my great-grandmother hand-painted. And, so it goes. Yesterday, my sister-in-law helped Mom pack up the knick-knacks that she'll take along. This weekend, I'll help her clean out closets and part of the kitchen. And, we'll make the big decision of what day she moves. Then, once she's moved, we'll finish getting the condo ready to sell. The photo at the top is Mom with Vargus. My brother John and sister-in-law, Pam, were pet sitting for friends and rather than leaving Vargus at home, John brought him along. He and Mom became fast friends!
One of my favorite photos is this - John (his father-in-law, Donald and Connie in the background) is taking down photos of us when we were little shavers:
In the midst of all of the packing and schlepping, election day was coming up on us. I'd been trying to keep the crockpot full of nourishing food in our friend John McGoff's Congressional campaign office. The few evenings that we've actually been home for dinner, I've fixed ours then fixed a pot of something for the McGoff crew. Poor Connie was totally bummed to find out that the entire pot of glop was going to the guys. So, Saturday evening I quadrupled the recipe. Half went to McGoff, a couple of servings are going to Mom and he can have the rest for lunches this week. Now, he'll be a happy camper.
One of the brilliant ideas Connie had was to fix deconstructed chicken caesar lasagna. Instead of lasagna noodles, I mixed in a pound of cooked whole wheat rotini. And, instead of putting the cheese on top, it was also mixed in. Now, I've got another tremendous casserole in my arsenal.
So, you ask, have we had time to try any new recipes? Yes, a couple. One was an extremely average sandwich from Rachael Ray. It was called a Rachel Patty Melt.
The sandwich was a turkey burger. A pretty dry, tasteless turkey burger. The recipe was tossed.
The winner was a quesadilla that I made up. It started with a bit of olive oil brushed in a skillet. Then, a flour tortilla. That was topped with a mixture of cheeses - mozzarella and cheddar primarily. Then, on top of that went sliced, sauteed cremini mushrooms and chopped pickled jalapenos.
Next was shredded chicken.
Followed by shredded chive blossoms.
And, a bunch of chopped cilantro.
Then, more cheese
And another tortilla. Now, I will say that flipping this to get the other side cooked was, ummm, interesting. Let's just say that it involved two plates, Connie and Kate and we got it done!
The finished dish was topped with picante sauce, cilantro sour cream and sliced avocado. We managed to make two meals out of one quesadilla.