Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ah! Sweet Misery of Life - Not My Grandmother's Cockapitzy

I woke up feeling like I was being eaten alive by fleas.  This can't be - we flea-sprayed the dogs and cat last night again, changed linens again, put flea collars back on, the house has been bombed - enough already.  And I have a panic attack, a bad one.  I am supposed to be having another test, an upper GI which requires a barium swallow, and I just can't.  Both of my arms hurt from needle punctures - I would make a lousy drug addict. I don't suppose it helps that I inadvertently ate a miniature Kit-Kat bar at around 5:00 this morning when I was not supposed to eat anything after midnight.  But Kit-Kat notwithstanding, I am in anxiety hell.  I am going to have to reschedule - twice in one week, I can't deal with this anymore.  It's almost laughable - I can't eat ice cream or drink milkshakes or frappaccinos and I'm supposed to swallow barium?  Can't do it.  I'm no hero, this sucks. I want my coffee.  I want to be able to take my medication.  I want to cook something - who cares if I can't eat it?  If the frakking endoscopy did not show any reason for the eating disorder, what is the upper GI going to show? That I had gastric bypass 12 years ago?  I think my PCP is the only one who got it right, when he said that somehow, the gastric bypass had become active again.  Fine.  I'll live with it.


My head is going to explode.  I am tired in every sense of the word.  And what the hell is going on with the cat?  He's acting totally weird.  First he goes to sleep in my night table drawer.  Then, he climbs onto the bed and goes to sleep right next to me.  Now, this is not behavior one expects from Anakin Skywalker, Darth Kitten, Feline Lord of the Sith and Occasional Jedi Knight.  Ira, yes - Ira slept so close to me, we were breathing the same air.  Ira liked to hang out on my night table so he could sneak a few Cheesy Puffs when I wasn't looking.  But Ira is gone, and Anakin, the Last Cat Standing, is acting totally out of character.

I probably don't feel as bad as Lebron James - the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors by 8 points in overtime - but I don't feel anywhere as good as Stephen Curry.  Not even close.


Facebook is messing with my mind today.  All at once I see an article about caring for someone who suffers from anxiety - ha, my husband could give lessons on how to do that - then a post that today is Best Friend Day - and then because after all, it is Best Friend Day, this reminder of activity that occurred "On this Day", June 5, 2010: "Cindy, Hi, I'm back from the dead. How are you?"  A message from Bethe Lipper.  Perfect. I want to respond, "not so good, Bethe; can you do that coming-back-from-the-dead-thing again?  Because I'd really like to see you, talk to you, give you a hug.  I want to see pictures of you at Ashley's wedding, and the joyful look on Kim's face when she sees you again. I want everything to go back to the way it was before February 21, 2013 and if I do have to lose you again, I want there to be a proper goodbye, not standing in a cold, very old cemetery in Charlottesville adding a shovel of dirt to your grave."


Today is not a good day.  I am tired of Life expecting me to understand the incomprehensible.  I am tired of the rain mashing down my precious babied herbs and vegetables.  Cilantro is a lost cause.  Oregano is not looking too good either.  Crap.

Since everything is topsy-turvy anyway, I would like to say something nice about she-who-raised-me.  Although I've said terrible things about her, and let's face it, all of them were true, we didn't always clash.  Although I usually attribute my ability to cook to being self-taught, an inveterate cookbook reader who read and experimented, watched and listened and learned, I have never given my grandmother the credit she really deserves for having taught me the basics and having shown me that sometimes, the only way you can show your family how much you care for them is to feed them really good food.


This morning I was in a bad place, so I went downstairs and became a Crazy Woman with a Very Sharp Knife.  I chopped onions and bell peppers, smashed garlic, and slashed bacon.  I opened an endless array of cans and ripped hot dogs from the refrigerator.  In the middle of all this, I freaking remembered to recycle. I started pulling spices out of the cabinet. I measured nothing; that would have only ruined the effect. In just one morning, I lost all my cooking self-discipline and broke all my own kitchen rules (except the recycling).  What came out of this was what my grandmother would laughingly call a cockapitzy - yeah, sometimes she laughed - which was a sort of thrown-together combination of leftovers and other stuff that didn't quite qualify as a casserole.  I grew up thinking that casseroles were only for goyim; Gentiles had casseroles, Jews had cockapitzies.  At least Jews from Brooklyn, because I still can't confirm that the word is actually Yiddish.  I don't think they have cockapitzies in the Bronx.


This is a Pantry Buster, and while I have had some spectacular fails when combining the contents of my pantry with bits and pieces from freezer, fridge, and vegetable bin, this one was surprisingly good.  My grandmother would not have been caught dead using canned corned beef hash for anything, but the idea of using the baked beans in what is essentially a chili comes from something she had once told me about a recipe she had heard about from one of the alter kockers she played cards with before they all stopped talking to her.  Ah Mom, sometimes I miss you.  Not often, but sometimes.  This happens to be one of them.


Not My Grandmother's Cockapitzy - An Inspiration Nation Pantry Buster Chili

3-4 tablespoons butter
3 large dinner franks, halved crosswise, then lengthwise, then sliced
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 very large or 2 medium onions, chopped
4 baby bella sweet pepper, or 1-2 regular bell peppers, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans corned beef hash
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes

kosher salt, coarse black pepper
smoked paprika
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh thyme leaves
granulated garlic
chili powder
cumin
dried oregano
sugar
Raging River pepper blend and/or cayenne pepper

1 regular size can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large size can Bush's Country-Style baked beans, drained but not rinsed

1x2 inch piece of rind from parmigiano reggiano cheese

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter.  Add the cut up franks and cook until getting brown around the edges.  Add the bacon, cook for a few minutes for the pieces to separate and render some of the fat.  Add the onions, sweet peppers, and garlic.  Stirring frequently, cook until the onions are tender and your kitchen smells awesome.

Add the corned beef hash, breaking it up as it cooks.  Keep cooking and stirring until the hash is completely broken down and heated through.  Add the undrained tomatoes, breaking up any overly-large pieces of stewed tomatoes.  Now start seasoning, to your own taste.  Be generous with the black pepper, chili powder, and cumin.  Keep cooking and stirring until the seasonings are well distributed. Add the kidney beans and country-style beans, stir, add the parm rind, cover and simmer over low heat for an hour.


I guess this is best described as a cross between chili and franks & beans, with a walk through by corned beef hash.  Chili Cockapitzy, a ménage a trois.  Enjoy!

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