Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Here He Comes to Save the Day – Again!

My weekend did not go as planned.

First, my dear husband came home from work early on Friday due to a back injury.  He was unable to see the chiropractor until the following morning, and he was really hurting.  Chad had also invited a friend from work and his wife over for supper the next day, with the plan of grilling tri-tip.   When Chad grills, I’m usually only responsible for the really easy side dishes: heating up some baked beans, maybe baking some crescent rolls, and preparing some potatoes of some sort.

With the cold weather in the forecast for that day and Chad’s pain, I thought it would be nice for me to volunteer to cook the supper.  Not being the grill master that Chad is, I decided I’d make barbecue meatballs (one of Chad’s favorites), scalloped potatoes, some vegetables, and some kind of bread.

I waited for Chad’s okay to take over the plans.

He wanted to talk to his friend first, to confirm that he’d be coming.

The morning passed.  The afternoon began.  I still didn’t have groceries…  I started to stress.

I got our daughter down for her nap and finally headed to the store.  While there, I didn’t get a can of evaporated milk, sure that I still had one in my cupboard.  I purchased the items on my grocery list and headed for home.

I went straight to work, preparing cornbread muffins (from a Jiffy mix, don’t be too impressed) that called for a higher oven temperature, then peeling potatoes while the muffins baked.  I made the sauce needed for the non-dairy scalloped potatoes we like so they would have close to the two hours of baking time the recipe called for.

Without a break, I moved on to the meatballs.  Seeing my can of evaporated milk was 12 oz. instead of 5 oz., I decided to make a double batch that we could then freeze part of.  I put the ground beef and oatmeal into a bowl before opening the can of milk.

Strange.  I don’t remember ever seeing little chunks like that in a can of evaporated milk.  Maybe I just didn’t shake it well enough?  (I hoped.)  I poured it in, or I should say, I tried to pour it in.  The milk wasn’t flowing.  I opened the can more completely, only to have a bad-smelling glob go into my meat mixture.

Ever the optimist, I hoped that it might be alright still, but to be safe, I asked Chad to smell it.  He agreed with me that it smelled like the milk had gone bad.

By now, it’s 4:15, and the guests are due to come at 5:30.  I don’t know whether to cry or to go to the store to start over.  I’m definitely leaning toward the crying!   Chad gave me a big hug and became my hero (again) as he calmly said he’d go to the store and get a tri-tip.

He fired up the grill, went to the store, returned in fifteen minutes, seasoned the meat, and began grilling.  Not only did he save the dinner, but he intervened to save my sanity, and he introduced our guests to something special.  (Tri-tip is well-known in California, it seems, but not as well-known in Kansas yet.)

While he was gone, I continued an internal dialog with my frustration at having ruined the meat, having not been more sensible about the milk when I first noticed the chunks, and probably a million other shortcomings that came to mind.

I am so thankful to have such a wonderful husband who loves me, who works so hard to support our family, who sacrifices for us in so many ways, and who is always there when I need him!  God definitely knew what He was doing when He introduced us over seven years ago!



Kitchen Folly Friday

I’m sure Dorothy meant well when she shared her recipe with the Willing Workers to be included in the cookbook.  I’m sure she probably did win Grand Champion with those ginger snaps.  I also think Miss Dorothy may have been a bit like one of my grandmas who didn’t really measure and had her own way of doing things, and that writing them down may not have been a big priority.

I’ve been craving something sweet and spicy, and ginger snaps sounded good.  Really good.  Since I don’t remember Mom making these much, I searched my recipe books and found Dorothy’s recipe.  With some extra time this morning, I thought I would make the dough, let it chill while I went to school to grade, and then bake the cookies this evening.

I read through the directions.  I had all the ingredients.  The process seemed a bit strange, but I’ve never made ginger snaps before.  What do I know, right?

I’m good at reading and following directions when I want to.   You don’t excel in analytical chemistry lab if you don’t pay attention to detail, and I had that down.

Or, so I thought.

The first step in the recipe said to combine the dry ingredients.  I looked down the out-of-order list of supplies.  The things I saw that I considered “dry” were sugar, flour, salt, soda, and baking powder.  I sifted them together, as directed.

Then, I read the next line.  Cream shortening and sugar together.


The sugar was already dispersed with my flour!   I have made cookies many times and have always creamed the sugar with the butter, margarine, or shortening as the first step.  I thought it was strange that the sugar would be mixed with the flour this time, but it was dry, wasn’t it?

Unsure of how to proceed, I continued with the steps.  I added the eggs (which were not mentioned anywhere in the method!), vanilla, and vinegar.

Then, I found my molasses was not only 3 years beyond it’s recommended usage date, but was also less than the volume I needed for the recipe.

I’ve never bought molasses.  This jar was some that a friend brought when we were cleaning up from the tornado that hit our town one summer, you guessed it, three years ago.

So, on my way home from work this afternoon, I’ll buy molasses.  I’ll continue with the recipe and see if it turns out.  I’ll share a re-written version of the recipe if it does, one that’s a bit more mistake-proofed.

Dear Dorothy was likely an excellent, prize-winning baker, but she could use some tips on writing work instructions.  Let’s hope she created a recipe that is robust against these kinds of blunders that I’m making!


(See how these turned out by reading my follow-up post.)