I know that the weather event known as the bomb cyclone, or cyclogenesis, was ages (two weeks. Same thing) ago but I’m still dealing with the fallout. That fallout is also why I didn’t blog this recipe when I made it 2 weeks ago instead of now. Bomb cyclone fallout is time consuming.

But I’m not telling you about all that yet. First I’m telling you the cooking stuff. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my one daughter who likes to cook, ALWAYS put your story after the recipe. If you don’t, someone searching the internet for a recipe will end up at your blog and stand in their kitchen  muttering while they scroll through your story, “Ok, I get it. Your kid is smart, your dog is cute. Blah Blah. I don’t care about your life just let me see the damn recipe!”.

Disclaimer:
I don’t know if what I post here are recipe. I wing it. You should,too. Mostly it’s just instructions for what to do with cheap ingredients particularly those found at food pantries.
Also, I recognize that as I’m compiling these non-recipes into a book ,I need to have better names other than Chili Mac Stuff. I’m working on it.

Ok, on to the thing I made.
These are the ingredients I used minus herbs and spices.
These were 100% picked up from the food pantry.  There’s very rarely name brand or even store brand from the food pantry but usually  there is no notable difference in quality.

The USDA packaged meat can take a bit to get used to,cooking with, all varieties from ground beef to chicken,turkey, and pork. It’s ground finer and therefore …mushier? Smoother? I don’t have an adjective to describe it. It has a different texture.

When cooking with this meat, seasoning is the big thing. I know – it should be anyway but really it makes the most difference with this.
For this meal, I sauteed it in a cast iron pan with a little oil, salt,pepper, onion flakes and garlic powder. I prefer to use fresh onions & garlic but I didn’t have any. The dried will work just as well.

In a pot, I essentially opened cans of tomatoes,sauce,and beans and tossed them in. I rinse the beans first in a colander.  I tossed the meat in and added more herbs and spices. For this pot, I was cooking for non-spicy eaters so I used cumin,oregano,more garlic, and a little bit of a chipotle pepper mix.  I cooked all if this together for 10 minutes then added dry macaroni and enough water to add volume and help the pasta cook without losing thickness from the base. Cook about 7 minutes longer until the macaroni is done.
Spicy lovers added their nonsense to their own bowls and topped with some shredded cheese. No sour cream on hand,unfortunately.

This dish hit the spot as a hearty,warming comfort food while we were enduring the “bomb cyclone” and -25 temps.

[end food bit]
The day before this bomb cyclone thing was supposed to hit us, we managed to find a mobile food pantry we could go to. We never get to go to them because they’re either during inconvenient hours or too far to drive. They usually have a lot more perishable foods and produce then what’s available at our usual food pantry.
It’s always held outside and we froze but it was worth it. That food helped us get through the week until food stamps came through and then some. The security of that helped me deal much better with events that came out of the storm.

The days during the winter storm in our drafty cold house were miserable and not surprisingly, the pipes froze. The pipes have never frozen while we’ve lived here but it was a pretty common problem that weekend. I worked for hours trying to get them thawed before I finally called the property manager. As I expected, they were swamped with similar calls from tenants. They couldn’t send anyone out that day. This was Sunday  (Jan 7th) in the afternoon. Monday morning, the maintenance manager called to see if we were still frozen. Yep. He said someone would be out. That was Monday. No one showed. (Pro tip: Don’t rent from a large property management company. They rarely can meet the needs of all their tenants during a weather event)
I called Monday late afternoon to get an ETA. “Tuesday mid-morning”

If you’re at all experienced with frozen pipes, you know that it’s really important to deal with it proactively. ASAP. You wait and see if they thaw on their own, they will probably burst. And that’s exactly what happened Monday night. 3:30 a.m. I’m running through a maze of water showers in the basement to reach the pump to shut it off. Because where is the water shutoff? No one knows.  Great stuff.
Tuesday mid-morning comes and goes without seeing anyone. I notify them that the pipes had burst  . Tuesday around pm someone shows up. To see what they need to fix it. They’ll be back on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, we’re getting water from the town pump. I’m melting snow in a big pot on the wood stove and then filtering it through a colander to get the pinecones and sticks out for toilet flushing. When the toilet stopped flushing I assumed one of those buggers got past me and clogged it. Oh,no. That wasn’t it. The septic drain line turned out to be frozen solid as well. Most things in this house are set up wrongly and that was no exception. Part of the drain line is exposed outside to the elements, not buried correctly, so of course it would freeze. This is also the drain line for sinks so everything was backed up.

In all this time, the property management never once asked if we needed anything or offered to provide at least drinking water. I called the office at one point to get an update on repairs. They sounded annoyed and I said, “Listen, I just need to know if I need to go get more drinking water and water to wash up with.” The woman acted surprised. “Oh!” Like it was the 1st time she realized that frozen pipes mean the people living there don’t even have water to brush their teeth with. Ugh.

By Wednesday the house was disgusting. I won’t even go into all of that. The plumber fixed some of the pipes, just the ones going to the bathroom. “We’ll be back tomorrow”. Okie dokie.
The roto-rooter guy showed up finally to thaw the drain so we could have a fancy toilet that flushes. He’s the hero of this story, truly. He did have to cut a hole in the line to thaw it. Yes, this means we have potentially open septic line in our backyard. In that dude’s opinion though, there was no other way to handle it and it should have never been exposed like that in the 1st place.
Wednesday night we had a working toilet and could take showers! Hallelujah.

Thursday . No plumber showed up to finish the rest if the pipes. I called to see what’s up. The topic of our one month back rent came up, even though we’ve been in constant  touch with them and they were agreeable to waiting for payment when we got our tax return. I have that in writing.
They made a decision with the landlord to NOT fix the rest of the pipes. The toilet flushes. They made sure there’s running water in the bathroom. All done. Don’t need to do anything else.

One week later I’m washing dishes in the bathtub and my kitchen is in shambles. It’s mostly because after that long stretch without water, the dishes piled up and I’m still not caught up. We’re using paper plates and plastic cups as much as possible.
And I will have to take out a small loan to get laundry done at the laundromat.

Tell me how this decision to not make sure the whole house functions makes any sense? I would think they’d want it properly maintained and such?
We’re at a standoff, I suppose.  All of this is one more thing to document and notify proper people of. Tomorrow is payday and we’re going to attempt to buy needed materials and fix it ourselves with help from plumber-type friends.  Wish us luck.

Taxmas is around the corner. We’ll be looking for a new place to live once funds hit our bank account. I’m just done with these people.

Advertisements