Time To Try Some New Cookware Just Right for the Cool Weather

These bright Cocinaware pots purchased at HEB should be fun and easier to use than covering baking dishes with aluminum foil.

These bright Cocinaware pots purchased at HEB should be fun and easier to use than covering baking dishes with aluminum foil.

The cold weather just doesn’t want to give up this year, even here in southeast Texas, where the winter temperatures usually bounce around, chilling us to don our jackets and sweaters for a few days, then soon after, heating back up enough to coax us back into shorts.  Since sometime around Thanksgiving many of the days have been grey and bleak with the highs just into the 50s, if that, and here we are.  Tomorrow starts March, and my winter coat lays over the back of the rocking chair, just waiting to be grabbed as I head to work or out to walk  a little black and white papillon.

With all this cold, almost every weekend, I’ve put together a pot of soup or popped a roast with vegetables into the oven, making enough to divide into lunches to carry to work or for some quick leftover suppers.

I’ve been making the roasts in glass baking dishes with aluminum foil as a cover.  This works OK, but every time I start the cooking process, I’ve been longing for a dutch oven with a proper lid.  I have two cast-iron pots, both of the famous French name, bought second-hand many years ago.  The large oval one has a lid and served me well to bake chickens and cook stews on the stovetop.  With so much use, it’s become so pitted up and rusty that it’s now found a resting spot out in the garage, waiting to be put out for the next yard sale or maybe or to be an interesting planter.  The other, a smaller yellow round pot, doesn’t have a lid, and none that I have seem to fit well.

I haven’t been willing to put out the money for name-brand dutch ovens that I’ve seen at the department stores and the discount stores really didn’t have anything that really fit the bill.  Today, I stopped off to do my weekend grocery shopping at an HEB, which is larger than the ones where I usually go.  This store has a large kitchenware department, and right as I was passing by, my eyes lit upon some colorful dutch ovens and other cookware.  The brand of HEB’s cookware is Cocinaware.  The enamel-covered dutch ovens come in two sizes, 2.8 quarts and 5.2 quarts.  I soon decided on a turquoise green, but was unsure of the size to buy.  I wanted one that wasn’t so big; the smaller would be good for a roast and some veggies, but probably wouldn’t be big enough for pot of chili.  In the end, just put both into my shopping cart.  The price was right: $19 and some change for the small pot and just ten dollars more for the 5.2 quart pot.  Together, the $50 for both was less than I had seen for any other single pot that I had seen in the store or online.

With my other groceries, I picked up a pork roast and a couple of cans of sauerkraut, so that’s what’s in store for the trial run tomorrow.

These dutch ovens are pretty and seem well-made. I don’t know if they’ll near as long as the  second-hand ones that they are replacing.  But I reckon they might.

On the Road Home: Aladin and Gays Cause the End of Humanity

I really know better than to go to the super market on Sunday afternoon.

If you’re intrigued by the title of this post, I’ve succeeded.  Not long ago, I decided to start a new series of posts called “On the Road Home.”  I had been having trouble writing posts, so I wanted to put down some of the thoughts of the days, especially during my evening commute.

I know today is Sunday; actually, I’m on vacation; therefore, maybe I’m stretching to make this work, but Sunday as it was, I had some errands to run and so I’m gathering here some of the pieces of the day.

I like eating at home (now that I have my own house), but I’ve decided I need to try some places in my new part of town.  A couple of months ago, a new place opened about a mile or so up the road.  It’s called Aladin, and the sign said, Mediterranean and Indo/Pak Buffet and Grill.  Today I had had no breakfast, so by noontime, I was ready for almost anything.  As I drove up the road, I decided to try the place out.  Just a couple of cars were in the parking lot, and when I got inside, I found that I was the only customer.

However, the place smelled good, and everything at the buffet tables looked appetizing.  Some of the Arabic foods, I knew, but I assume quite a few of the hot dishes are of the Indo/Pak cuisine.  I tried a bit of many things.  The salads, the hummus, and some kind of eggy squares were especially good.  The best, though, was the gyro, filled with tender, tasty meat, which they made and brought out, after I had already filled my plate.  If you’re in the Houston area out near 529 and Highway 6, try this place.  The food and the service are very good.

After I had eaten I decided to pick up some groceries.  I know if I go on a Sunday, I’m just a glutton for punishment.  The HEB I went to on Barker-Cypress was jam-packed.

Getting used to shopping out in the suburbs hasn’t been easy.  Everybody out here seems to have kids, and they have to bring them along when they go to the super market, which only adds to the traffic congestion in the store aisles.

One of the arguments that some of those against gay marriage is that if gay marriage is legalized, it will be the end of humanity.  They surely have to hold their own noses to their own “stinkin’ lyin'” when they say that.  As if gay people getting married would stop opposite-sex couples from having kids.

Gay marriage is already legal in a number of U.S. states, several European countries, South Africa, and now Argentina.  All I can say is that so far it hasn’t had any effect on all those people with kids at the HEB that I went to today.

Usually, when I’m waiting to check out, there is a family in front of me with at least one kid screaming, “I want this,” while pulling at the innumerable candy bars and other baubles on either side of the checkout aisle.

The little girl in front today had a bit more game.  Picking up a plastic package with a glittery brush inside, she looked at her mother, and coyly asked, “Would this work on my hair?’  Her mother barely shook her head without even looking at her.

Then the girl pointed at another item hanging from the many hooks, “Would this work to sharpen pencils?”  Her mother shook her head again.  At that moment, the girl looked back at me, and we both knew that she needed to try some new tactics, because obviously, Mom had already heard “Would this work?’ too many times, and that line definitely wasn’t going to work.

After crossing the scorching parking lot and packing away my groceries, I was glad to be inside the quiet of my car even if I did have to wait for the AC to start blasting out some cool air.

View from the Suburbs: Saturday Haircut and Feeling Like an Alien

Driving back into town this morning, I was wondering whether I was ready to give up my regular haircut place.  In fact, I’ve been going to Visible Changes in the Galleria for more than 25 years, with a few detours here and there, when my haircutter had left or I had heard there were greener pastures in some other salon.

It’s a long trip in on a Saturday, when I could sleep in and just head to one of the places that I’ve seen out here in the strip centers, rather than retracing the better part of my Monday through Friday commute to work.  This morning, though, with the weekend morning’s light traffic,  from the gas station just down the road, where I had to fill up, to the corner of Westheimer and Post Oak, only took 15 minutes.  That meant I had extra time to spare.

That meant extra time to wait.  Unless I’m the first cut of the day, waiting is generally par for the course at the salon.  For a long time, I hated the wait, felt I was being cheated out of my time.  The past couple of years, though, I have come to embrace the time I spend waiting for my cutter to be ready.  Time just isn’t so urgent any more;  savoring the moment is more enjoyable than worrying about hurrying on to some other task on the “to do” list.

Sunk down into the comfortable give of the salon’s sofas, I can take in what is to me a metropolitan atmosphere, the edgy look of some of the haircutters, the even-on-a-sleepy-Saturday-morning, casual sense of style of the customers, the tracks of new and old club music playing, and, in particular, a painting of a tree, that I want, some day, to mimic in a quilt.

There’s a feeling of homecoming for me, a return to the old stomping grounds.  I’m one of these people.

I’m comfortable now in my house out here 25 miles from the Galleria.  I have no regrets about buying it, and I’ve met nice, welcoming neighbors, but I have to admit when I go to my neighborhood Kroger or HEB for groceries or Home Depot or Lowe’s for items for the house and yard, I generally feel like I’m in alien territory.  After living in the suburbs for 6 months, I can’t say I feel like I am one of these people.

Maybe, though, like my feelings about time and waiting, this too will change.