Out of the oven: Baked Chicken Breasts

The chicken breast (see previous post) is quite tasty.

baked chicken breast
Just Out of the Oven

Not feeling inventive, this morning, I believe that I will have cold chicken for breakfast.


Supper is in the oven: Baked Chicken Breasts

Our butcher posted his weekly specials, this week, on his web page. We had been forgetting to stop at that store, somehow, without specials posted, even though we did not always take advantage of them. I had been wanting to bake chicken breasts, and that was one of the three specials, so we stopped by the shop before Al went off to his volunteer work, this afternoon.

With two pounds of meat, I washed and dried the chicken breasts, rubbed them lightly with olive oil, added seasoning to top and bottom (crushed peppercorns, sea salt, and cumin), and put the baking dish into the oven for forty minutes at 350°F. Twenty minutes to go!

The strong winds, combined with heavy rain, this morning, pretty much beat down and soaked the plants in the backyard wildflower garden. The ornamental clover is still doing well, and there are some Black-eyed Susan and Siberian Wallflower plants that still have blooms, but that’s about it. The blue wild flax … may dry out. If not, I will be taking photographs of fallen leaves until the snow flies.

In this morning’s rain, I saw two Northern Flickers hunting out bugs in the front yard. I’m glad that they are still around. I don’t imagine that the raptors do much hunting in the midst of thunderstorms or torrential downpours. (See Hunting Circles for background.)

Wednesday Afternoon’s Flowers

This has been an altogether wonderful day. It’s a bit chilly, outside. After all that was necessary, the Scampers decided to rest a while, midmorning, and then fell asleep. Didn’t wake up again until Noon. So, trapped in my chair, my puppy being on my lap, I reread Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey, which was on my telephone Nook-Book reader.

In the afternoon, I made out my food diary for the day to that point. We went shopping for odds and ends and came back with a tuna steak, two or three tubes of caulking, peppercorns and cayenne pepper. (I must empty the cupboard of the very old herbs and spices. Neither Al nor I can find what we want, anymore.) Cooked the peppercorns in olive oil and butter, and then put the tuna into the frying pan on top of that with the kosher salt and the cayenne pepper.

Al’s enjoying his summer project, building his woodworking shop in the back yard. I am reading some chapters in a book on bereavement theory loaned to me by my grief counselor. It’s a nice break from poetry and routines. We have decided to meet at least one more time. That will be at the beginning of June.

I am looking forward to flowers growing in my wildflower garden, this year, having pulled up the White Campions that rode in with the loads of dirt banked around the house, the same summer that the egress window was installed. The rabbits ate a lot of the tulip leaves before the flowers opened; I am glad that we got lush grass, which they prefer, before we lost any of the plants.

Best wishes!

Happy Domesticity

Enjoyed cooking, this morning, and then taking a nap with the Scampers.

This photo, however, was taken a couple of nights ago, when the Scampers fell asleep next to Al. That brown board to the right is the edge of his computer lapdesk.

cocker spaniels napping on couch

Still low key around here, adjusting to my parents’ deaths and the activity and people exposure involved with funerals and two “meetings of the clan” within such a short period of time. Avoiding activity in general except as amusement. I’ve started doing some exercising again, and I haven’t quite gotten back on my diet, but it’s pulling together. I’ll know that’s working when I actually start writing down the foods with their calorie and carbohydrate counts.

In the meanwhile I am continuing to think about what I want to do with the resurrection of two of my discontinued domains. I had thought to construct a writing/photo collection to complement the blogs where I put up anything and everything. I’m still too much in slow motion to make that practical. It will go faster when I dig out my old website backups and use some of the pages as templates.

Progress – New Garden

The new garden plot is now in place. It is four feet by twelve feet, which means that I should be able to weed it comfortably. I am considering ordering seed packets for fall planting of wildflowers. We have already had frost/freezing weather here along the Red River. I must find out if I have missed any deadlines and what planting conditions should be, given the early cold, this autumn.

Four Feet by Twelve

We got the concrete slab poured for Al’s workshop, and the skid-steer driver, seeing Al digging the plot with his shovel and fork, volunteered to remove the sod for him. The equipment is now out of our yard, and the fence is in place, so that the Scampers can have free run of the yard.

Next came days of rain and mud tracked into the house. Thaddeus (the buff and cream Scamper) had massive clumps of mud dried into the hair on his feet and legs and between his toes. He had his first half-bath experience, last night, to wet and wash out all the dirt. He was not impressed by the operation.

Myself, I am still processing my mother’s going into the nursing home under hospice care. The brother next to me in birth order is certain that she will not make it to the end of the year. Me? I would not venture a guess without hearing a doctor’s evaluation. My father is doing well at home; family live in the same town, and so there is someone to visit every day.

The other re-organizations are still up in the air, here at home. We have yet to put the waterbed back together in the basement bedroom, where the egress window was installed over a year ago. I still need to throw out or otherwise dispose of perhaps a thousand paper books and take down more shelving, so that there will be room to move. In the meanwhile, I am still sleeping in my recliner, which I have been doing since I retired. My office has turned into a bed-sitting room. I have box upon box of papers and miscellanea to go through and toss.

We have had quite a number of heavy rains, spread out over days and shorter, and there has been no seepage into the basement. It appears that banking around the house, replacement of the rain gutters, and adding a new downspout have handled the problem. We are talking about adding more dirt, next summer, just up around the house and in some low spots. The fourth (westernmost) cotoneaster shrubs did not survive, and so Al finally sawed off all of the remaining branches and dug up the roots, this past week. The other three clusters are doing well, and so we still have shade along the south side of the yard. When Al gets his workshop built, next year, we will have shelter along the north side of the back yard from the winter winds.

The currently former wildflower bed has been trampled down, run over and munched on by the Scampers. I will be surprised if much has survived of the wild flax flowers. I did save some seeds in an envelope for the new garden plot, once it’s raked smooth. I also will try to find some to purchase via mail order. I am considering re-adding vegetables to the list of seeds. I have enjoyed the cucumbers from the family across the back fence, but I do miss the zucchini and summer squashes.

I continue in my attempts to lengthen my time on the exercise bike. Some setbacks, but I continue in my efforts. Also, while I am not managing to play the piano every day, I am getting to it perhaps three or four times a week, and I can tell that the dexterity is coming back. I do need to re-learn the written notes, rather than just trusting that my fingers will find the correct keys.

Ah, well!

Breakfast, Thursday

Eggs, spinach and potato
Eggs, spinach and potato

I’m concentrating, these days, on variety in meals that can be prepared in under half an hour. This morning I made scrambled eggs. I whisked the eggs and half-and-half and fried it in 1 pat of butter, . On the electric range, I set the heat level to low medium (4.5). No herbs, spices or salt added. I microwaved the potato in a microwave baked potato bag. The spinach is frozen store brand, also microwaved. I was able to do all the microwaving during the frequent scrambling and turning of the eggs.

What I would have added, but didn’t have available: grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, chives, chopped bunch onion greens, lemon for the spinach. What I didn’t use because I don’t usually: butter or seasoning on the potato.

Meal Planning

The past week or so (since our anniversary dinner at the Olive Garden, I guess, on September 26), I have been thinking about and a couple times, making pasta meals. My sister-in-law D. gave me a big bag of gluten-free products, including bread and waffle mixes and a Macaroni and Cheese box. I realized, after our dinner, that while I may not like wet-and-serve American cheese powder, I do rather like macaroni with no sauces on it per se. My first try-out was the macaroni with (the plastic cheese and) tinned Deming’s Wild Alaskan salmon. That was not at all bad. Even the leftovers, the next day, were good cold. My husband did not care to try it. He does not like fish, he says, although we have many times, recently, headed for Denny’s for their grilled salmon. It’s really good.

This week, I found two packages of “my” pasta on a “Clearance” table at the grocery. [I guess I’m going to have to find another source.]  This time, it was not the plastic cheese stuff, but just a couple different kinds of pasta. This time, instead of plastic cheese, I sprinkled grated Swiss cheese on top. The “meat” ingredient was canned La Preferida tamales. Instead of a sauce, I added a can of diced tomatoes with added green pepper and celery and something else, I think. I also tossed in a handful of frozen green peas.

I forgot that I had bought bunching onions again, or I would have chopped some of those to put in. I also forgot that the chives I dug up and divided, and then replanted when the extra dirt was packed up against the house, have taken nicely and have been growing new greens. I would have chopped some of those, also.

Pasta and Tamale Casserole
Pasta and Tamale Casserole

Today I had leftovers. Al decided that he wanted to finish the pizza he’d gotten last night. His loss! I also treated myself to a big salad for lunch. [For breakfast, this morning, I had Toddy coffee and a hard-boiled egg. Again.] I think that I’m going to end up eating most of these creations on my own, so I need to plan a variety of pasta entrées that are single serving (and gluten-free). I still have a can of salmon in the cupboard. I must look around and see what I can see.

Green & Veggies Salad

Sunday Morning

Samantha woke me around 8:30, this morning, and we went outside. The temperature is still in the 60s, which is a wonderful change from the mid-90s.  I am not sure we’re going to get rain, but the forecast indicates there’s a chance until mid-evening. I took some photographs while we were out, then came in and put out breakfast for myself and Samantha (who chose to curl up in the deep shadows at the back of her crate and go back to sleep). I had planned to have a hard-boiled egg, but found none in the refrigerator, and so I put on nine eggs to boil while I assembled something else.


breakfast: grapes, semi-soft cheeses, rolled deli turkey breast, cranberry juice
Sunday Breakfast

This morning’s weather (61 °F, and a stiff breeze) was not conducive to picture taking, but I’ve pulled out a few that are presentable with some “adjustments”.

The rest of the morning was taken up by chores. In addition to putting the eggs on to boil (now cooked, labeled and back in the refrigerator), I have put the coming week’s Toddy coffee on to steep, and caught up on the dish-washing. When the weather is cooler, and I have fewer problems breathing, and everything seems to take 90% less time to do.

I much prefer the Toddy coffee, because it is less acidic and tastes sweet, unlike coffee that is brewed using hot instead of cold water. I believe the cold-brewed coffee also has more caffeine. We use Folgers classic roast (medium grind). I usually add the coffee concentrate to half-and-half or whole milk rather than water, which gives it a more noticeable chocolate-like undertaste, one part coffee concentrate to two to three parts milk. Otherwise, I’m a drinker of strong, black tea.

Quiet weekend

I’ve spent much of the weekend awake and up, but not focusing on any work. Aside from two days at the handgun range with Al, while we tried to figure out why my/our pistols are not working properly. Although it has not interfered too much with my aim. I do like the discipline of bulls-eye shooting. And the fact that there is so much room for continued improvement in skill, self-discipline, consistency, and focus.

We stopped by the butcher shop after payday and got chicken breasts for baking (added to soups and salads, mostly) and a pork shoulder roast, which I put into the Crock Pot for pulled pork. Simple additions, this time: sliced yellow onion, a can of peeled tomatoes, and a medium-sized jar of mild salsa. Yesterday when I got hungry for soup, I heated some pulled pork with onion and juices and a cup or so of Mott’s Original Vegetable Juice. Nicely mixed to add sharper highlights (I think vinegar, celery, and perhaps some herbs).

Other meals have been dull. Cottage cheese or yogurt with mango and strawberries, scrambled eggs with smoked paprika, Swiss cheese, or chopped bunching onions and greens, and wild blueberry preserves. Also Thai Kitchen ginger soup with lots of sliced chicken breast. I have been drinking cranberry juice cut 1:1 with filtered water. Toddy coffee, mostly, to cut down on acidic beverages.

Al has dropped me off at the mall a number of times during the week, so that I can put in some concentrated walking time. I think that it helps me to be more alert later in the day. Keeping the circulation going instead of taking a nap when my energy lags. My sleep is still highly irregular. When I do wake up, however, I try to stay awake long enough for the time to qualify as a day. Today, however, I fell asleep several times and took a nap. We did not go out because the temperature was in the 80s. (Yes, I know that many are suffering temperatures above 100°F. I start feeling ill and unsteady at 75°F. I prefer the basement, where it is usually around 64°.

It’s gotten cooler. Supposed to be a thunderstorm, tonight, and as much as an inch of rain. That’s why I am sitting in the gazebo with a couple windows open (temp. 75°F), enjoying the breeze and listening for the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning in the distance. A bow has formed in the group of clouds headed toward us, and so it is going to take longer for the storm to hit our town. I’m going to run out of water and computer battery by then, so I may have to go indoors before it arrives.

I have finished one of the poems that I have been working on (since 2005), “Broken Patterns”. It’s part of my Future Freedom poetry set: brief images of the collapse of the ecosystem and afterwards. A short poem, but not short enough for Dwarf Stars consideration, should I manage to get it published. Form follows content. The poem was insistent on that.

Really weird dreams. Vivid, recurring, lingering after waking.

I mailed Dad’s Father’s Day card on Tuesday. Even though he is in good health, still walking downtown, driving into town, where there’s a Cash Wise Foods for groceries once or twice a week, and so forth, I have the urge to do things early. I wanted him to have it because it might be the last card he gets from me. He’s 30 years older than me, less two weeks, and I’m in my late 60s. Except for some effects of aging, he’s certainly healthier than I am. Either one of us could go first, these days. He’s a joy . . . but he doesn’t like company. He gets bored with us and leaves to read or walk or drive about the countryside.

Sounds like we’re getting into the strong winds and heavier rain, now. Out of here! Must see if I need to unplug computers, TV, etc.

Another Breakfast Alternative

roasted pepper and tomato soup with onions, chives, cooked egg yolk, etc.
Soup and Veggies
for Breakfast


I awoke about three hours earlier than I’d planned on, so there was more time to create and eat a tasty breakfast, this morning. Being aware of expiration dates, having eaten my last green salad packet on the “sell before” date, I searched the refrigerator and came across a carton of roasted red pepper and tomato soup. That became the base of my breakfast.

I added to the soup chopped onion greens and some fresh chives from their garden spot just out the back door, and a crumbled egg yolk. Also, there was Italian sausage that I had browned in the frying pan, last week; I added about three ounces. Across the top, I sprinkled powdered ginger and powdered cumin.

As sides, I added four bunching onions and a handful of sweet grape tomatoes that we’d picked up on one of our forays at the grocer’s, end of last week, and strong, hot coffee. I decided against homemade yogurt in place of the egg yolk. If I’d had grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, I would have put a layer over the hot soup; none of the varieties I had in the frig would have suited.

I was quite happy with the taste combination, textures, and temperature. I wish I’d made a larger serving. I am memorializing the meal on my blog.