When All Else Fails, Do It Yourself and Don’t Experiment.

I was trying to do a good thing and got smacked in the face.

A local company has begun to thrive, and I was happy for their new success. For the first time, they were bringing in a shift to work on Saturday. A few of the workers grumbled, but I see the big picture. They are winning and it’s a GOOD THING. That said, I wanted to do something nice for the workers and thought about bringing in a little snack for the workers. Thought about making something for breakfast I could transport easily….Quiches would have been perfect and stayed warm…… but not really the kind of food you bring to a manufacturing floor…… It is hard to transport breakfast food and take it into a manufacturing facility, not to mention the goofiness of me, wearing shorts with steel toed boots, a CoVid mask, and safety glasses (to be allowed into the plant floor) at 6am on a Saturday morning.

I recalled a new little doughnut shop on a WalMart outparcel….. and I thought it would be a perfect choice. I could support two new businesses at one time. See there, I had all these good intentions going at the same time. I could see the doughnut shop but I could not get to it. The place was abuzz with heavy equipment and workers re-doing the massive parking lot surrounding the adjoining Wal-Mart. I drove around and around, dodging a bulldozer/scarifier and finally sneaked into their parking lot behind a gas station next door.

So, there I was at the doughnut shop at 6:05am, wearing my steel-toed boots and shorts.

Lovely woman behind the counter, broken English, was happy to see me. The shop is sparsely decorated, bare bones, and obviously a new business. They needed local support. Good. She helped me pick out gorgeous doughnuts and fussed all over me picking out the breakfast sandwiches, a sausage and biscuit and a croissant with egg/cheese/bacon. I bought everything she had. I was the only one in the store and she was clearly happy to see me…. a live customer.

We moved to settle up the bill and I opened my wallet, only to discover….. no bank card. OMG. What did I do with my bank card? I rushed to the car. Did I drop it in the car? Bucket the dog was in the car, thrilled to see I had not been murdered in the doughnut shop, licking my face and getting dog slop all over my safety glasses….. could not see anything…. I rifled through my wallet but did not have enough cash to pay the bill. Rats….

Returned to the doughnut shop counter and across two cultures and languages communicated that I lived around the corner, please don’t unpack my order….. and “I’ll be right back”.

Home again, bank card was in my purse. Bucket was elated to be home and thought we were done, “No honey, we’re not done yet.” Back to the doughnut shop and the work crew waved at me the second time. Paid my bill, more expensive than I thought, but okay, fine.

Off we went to the plant. Windows down, gorgeous morning, Bucket hanging her head out of the car…. All good, right?

About 9/10ths of the way to the plant, I realized I did not have my security badge. The place is a veritable fortress. I could never get in without a badge. I COULD wait to see someone at the entry who knew me, but no…… Back home we went, to get the badge…..

Again, Bucket thrilled to be home, ready to jump out of the car. Nope, still not done. I went through the kitchen, bathroom, my office…. what did I do with that security badge? I had been at the facility the day before. Found it. Back to the car. Dog thrilled to see me, more spittle on my safety glasses.

Back to the plant.

How am I going to carry in all this food? Awkward…. Made it, with my mask, safety glasses and boots. Out to the plant floor. Perfect timing, they were on a break. Do I have enough food for all these people?

  • From one big burly guy, “Those sure are pretty pink doughnuts.”
  • Me: “I thought about getting the plain glazed doughnuts, but I wanted the ones with the sprinkles, cuz you’re special.”
  • Big Burly Guy: Laughing…..Shaking his head, and the obligatory “Thank you Miss D”. Big hugs.

Home again…..all done by 7:00am. Bucket would not leave the car. She was not convinced we were done. Dogs are so smart.

I sat down, started doing the laundry. Folded a bunch of sheets, started to spin rooms for guests coming in Saturday night.

About 9:00am, Gunner sauntered downstairs, rummaging through the kitchen for food. Told him I had a surprise, saved a breakfast sandwich for him and I picked up one to eat it…….. YUCK! I opened the sandwich to see what was inside, barely one egg, folded into a perfect square and it looked like plastic, plus a miniature version of a slice of Kraft American cheese, all on an untoasted unbuttered croissant. The bacon was so bad I gave it to the dog.

I should have made quiches. Heck, I could have made 50-100 biscuits in no time, one round through the ovens, and I had enough sausage in the freezer/fridge…… Would have saved $100. I should have done it myself. But I can’t make those pretty pink doughnuts….

My effort for the plant guys was …… at best…… a mixed bag. Lesson learned. Make it yourself.

To add insult to injury….

I was out in the suite making beds and cleaning bathrooms when my phone rang. It was Gunner.

  • Gunner: Where are you?
  • Me: Out in the suite, making beds, guests tonight.
  • Gunner: Oh, well, you weren’t here. I couldn’t find you.
  • Me: I’m here, son.
  • Gunner: Okay, are you making roasted chicken tonight for dinner?
  • Me, thinking, the guys came home with 10lbs of chicken breasts instead of usual 5lbs for me to make their favorite oven roasted chicken. Message received. Mom is making roasted chicken…..
  • Me: Well, yeah, I can make chicken tonight. Where have you been?
  • Gunner: I went to get my oil changed.
  • Me: Great, can you go back and take my car in and get it serviced as well?
  • Gunner: No, I have to leave (friends waiting) but I left you the coupon for the free car wash on your desk.
  • Me: Eye roll.

Later on in the day, I wrestled with 10lbs of chicken breasts. We have this great new method where we roast 5lbs of chicken breasts in the turkey roaster, but this week, the guys came home with 10lbs of chicken breasts because we always run out during the week and the leftovers are often better than the original meal.

Do you know what 10lbs of chicken breasts looks like? That’s a LOT of chicken. I sat and watched a movie and trimmed up the breasts, thinking about what ELSE I could do with chicken breasts. Searched a few recipes, still undecided. Put the majority of the chicken into the roaster for 2 hours and left 5 enormous chicken breasts on the counter, waiting for inspiration to strike.

Put away remainder of the groceries and Yooooooo!!! On the back of the Cornflakes box was their 100-year-old recipe for Cornflake coated baked chicken tenders. Why not? I whipped up the easy-peasy recipe and had two pans of chicken tenders ready to go into the oven. Scratch honey mustard is easy and I had it, ready to go.

The roaster chicken usually takes about 2 1/2 hours, which gives me enough time for the sides, mashed potatoes and some kind of vegetable. Yet, I was busy with Cornflake chicken and the guests started checking in….. No time for sides.

Gunner pulled into the driveway 3 minutes before the first guest. I was standing in the driveway, waiting on guests when he pulled in. The boys/young men had all been at the gym. He was starving.

So, there we all were in the driveway.

  • Guests: Remembered Gunner as a youngster, can’t believe how much he has grown, hugs all around. Catching up on the last 10years since they were last here.
  • Gunner: Polite, well-mannered. Guests remembered details of his life…. Amazing.
  • Guests: And they turned to me to talk more, recalling the story I told them about “Caddywompus”, they still laugh about Aunt Henrietta and “the vapors”. I was stunned they remembered the story and we talked more while Gunner went inside to shower and get ready for dinner.
  • Gunner, done with his shower, from the side porch, yelling: Mom, there are no mashed potatoes!!!!!!! The roaster chicken looks done. When did you put it in?
  • Me: I can’t remember when I put the chicken in the roaster, son. Cut one in half and see if it is done.
  • Gunner, frowning, returned to the kitchen. Clearly, guests wanted to talk more. I remained with them.
  • Gunner, 15 minutes later, from the side porch: Mom, what’s the stuff in the pans in the oven? Did you put a timer on? It smells good. I think it might be done. (I had just put the chicken tenders in the oven before the guests landed.) Did you cook all 10lbs of chicken? I thought it was all going in the roaster.
  • Me: Excusing myself to the guests because of a chicken emergency.

Back in the kitchen, Gunner over my shoulder. Ready made tater tots with chicken tenders for dinner tonight and oven roaster chicken for his lunches for the week. He was happy about that but highly suspect of the chicken tenders. He watched the oven, setting his personal phone timer to gauge the perfect crispness, taking over my duties. Fine.

First pan of chicken tenders out of the oven. Gunner reached for a knife and fork, sampling my chicken tender like he was a professor for a culinary school….. Made me laugh. He cut and ate one off the pan……..

  • Me: What do you think?
  • Gunner: It tastes like a Cornflake.
  • Me, cutting off a piece to sample a bite, still waiting on the tots to finish browning…..
  • Gunner: Be careful, it’s really hot.
  • Me: Tasting, undecided.
  • Gunner, with his final proclamation, pointing the tip of his knife, rolling the chicken piece in his mouth like he was sampling a $500 bottle of wine ordered for the table at an expensive restaurant: This is the kind of thing I would expect if I went to a friend’s house and his Mom cooked. It’s good, but it’s just….okay. It’s not ….. YOU. Definitely not on the scale of your Chicken Parmesan.

Well, there was a left-handed compliment if I’ve ever seen one…..

So, I failed in the kitchen yesterday.

French toast for breakfast this morning and Shrimp tonight. Let’s see what happens.


6 thoughts on “When All Else Fails, Do It Yourself and Don’t Experiment.

      1. Even back then, I didn’t like the cornflake ‘fake fried’ chicken.

        Publix Premium chicken filets are really good – seasoned right – if you are ever in need of something in a hurry. Not for large crowds of boys though. I’ve made them into chicken parmesan, in sandwiches, on a salad, as a snack with orange marmalade/mustard dip, even served them with Veronique sauce. I’ve gotten real lazy in my senior years.

  1. oh, well we all have days! At our house it is called the (family last name) Parade! We wave and smile as we circle around the home block again for the umpteenth time in row as we try to get stuff done!

    We have learned that home cooking is better and cheaper than out anymore too! Butt, time, we think, will be saved and as you say, want to support a local business.

  2. We used rolled Rice Krispies. We dipped the chicken in melted butter then the Rice Krispies and baked in oven. Comes out more like Shake and Bake. Rice Krispies don’t have as strong a flavor as corn flakes.

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