Getting Back On The Horse

It’s been a horrible couple of years. My wife was ill, getting worse by the week. Then came the divorce. A year after that… well, if you’ve read the previous post, you know.

It affected me far more than I realized at the time. I was acting a little crazy for a few weeks. I won’t go into details because I did things that seemed logical at the time but in hindsight were bad choices and frankly embarrassing; I’d rather forget.

Blogging, writing of any kind at all, became impossible. For a while I wasn’t even up to getting out with a camera. I wasn’t taking proper care of myself.

My best friend mentioned counseling and I decided maybe that would help. And it has, most definitely. Things are getting back to normal – a new normal, since so much has changed, but the fact that I’m able to write this right now shows that things are improving. I’m glad I didn’t try to tough it out alone. Lesson learned: Never be afraid to seek help when you need it. You can’t do everything on your own – especially when your logic itself is compromised.

That’s enough about that for now. I might write more about it in a future post, maybe.

About that plan to go back to the UK

The plan’s on hold for a good while. I realised that I’m really better off here in the US, at least for now. I have my own house, my own cat, a damn good job that I like (and hasn’t been affected by COVID), and other things. Moving back to the UK isn’t the best thing for me, to be honest – and in any case what with Brexit, and BoJo the Killer Klown From Outer London in No. 10, the UK isn’t a great place to be right now. I’ve applied for US citizenship (but I’ll be a double agent, since I’m not planning on giving up my UK citizenship; I do have family in England, after all), which will mean that after paying taxes and Social Security for more than twenty years I’ll finally be able to vote, among other things (no taxation without representation my arse). I was misled years ago, told that becoming a US citizen automatically meant losing my UK citizenship. Not true, but I believed it and didn’t think to check into it myself, for which I’m kicking myself. On the assumption that this country is still having elections by the time I’m a citizen, and hasn’t become a banana republic with Trump as dictator-for-life, at least I’ll be able to stand up and be counted in future.

Single old gits in the time of COVID

It’s more than a little weird rattling around on my own (apart from the cat) in a house big enough for four. COVID-19 makes it all but impossible to justify getting out. I can take a walk in any number of natural areas and parks in the area (subject to social distancing), and like anyone else I do have to go shopping (masks are mandatory in stores by county ordinance, although there are still shit-for-brains assholes taking their masks off as soon as they’re through the door). But socialising and meeting other people IRL, eating out, going to see a movie, bowling, browsing a bookshop, visiting a museum, etc., aren’t options.

It all makes getting back to anything kind of normal – even a new one completely different from what I’ve been accustomed to for the last couple of decades – very difficult.

But it has its up-sides. Among other things, limiting how often I get to eat at a restaurant (to zero, actually – I haven’t had a sit-in meal since April) or get take-out (I treated myself to Olive Garden for my birthday, which was the first take-out I’d had in at least two months) has meant that I’ve been cooking and eating at home. And being single again has meant going back to cooking for one, which has been something of a challenge. It would be very easy to live on hotdogs and cheeseburgers and nachos and tacos and cheese fries and all those wonderful, yummy grease-bombs. But I decided early on to try a little harder to eat things that are at least a bit better than that, and as a result I eat fish and chicken instead of rib-eye and ground beef, and try to include some green veggies when I can. Here’s one thing I’ve been making for myself on occasion: Chicken & Spinach Alfredo Bake (with optional homemade Alfredo Sauce):

Alfredo Sauce:

Makes about 16floz, takes five minutes. (floz = fluid ounce, by the way. American cooks tend to measure by volume rather than weight.)

  • 1½ cups (12floz) heavy cream (double cream in the UK)
  • 4oz butter
  • 2 cups (16floz) shredded Parmesan (that’s probably about 4-5oz by weight, and also note the stuff you buy pre-shredded might not melt properly so you’re better off getting a chunk and grating it yourself)
  • (Edit! – I forgot this…) A tablespoon or two of Italian Seasoning

Put the butter and cream in a non-stick saucepan and bring to a simmer (don’t boil) for two minutes, stirring continuously.

Add the Parmesan (and Italian Seasoning) and stir until the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.

Voila, Alfredo Sauce.

Chicken & Spinach Alfredo Bake

Easily enough for two, maybe three. Takes about an hour including bake time.

  • About 1lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut across the grain into ¼-inch slices
  • 14oz can leaf spinach, drained
  • 16oz Alfredo Sauce (see above, or just buy a jar – saves time and money, but not as good as homemade)
  • 1¼ cups (10 floz) (uncooked) pasta of your choice – medium shells work well, also Trompetta
  • 4oz (weight) shredded Italian-blend cheese (I use ready-shredded store brand, works fine)

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Get a big pan of water boiling for the pasta, then throw that in. Don’t add salt. You want it al dente, since it’s going in the oven anyway and will finish off in there – for shells that means about ten minutes, for Trompetta a little more.

About five minutes before the pasta’s ready, get a frying pan or skillet medium-hot, throw in the chicken, toss it around until it’s white on all sides, no pink showing.

Drain the cooked pasta well, throw in the chicken (drain off any liquid in the pan), Alfredo Sauce, spinach, Italian cheese (and some Italian Seasoning, if the sauce doesn’t already have any). Mix well. Tip into a baking dish (I use an 8-inch square Pyrex dish) then bake for 30-35 minutes. It should be getting brown on top and the sauce should be bubbling. If you like it a little browner, give it an extra five minutes.

Let stand for a couple of minutes before serving. Eat. Om nom nom.

That’s all for now

Watch this space. Take care of yourself and those you care about, wash your hands, wear a mask, and for the sake of all that is good and holy, VOTE.

Until next time…

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