Sometimes, it seems like the world is conspiring to kill your smile, and it has certainly felt that way to me over the past couple of weeks. I had a headache start up the week before last, and it was aggravated by a rough week at work. Then last Monday, I realized that I was getting sick. It really felt like I was getting a sinus infection, having had a couple of those before. So I called the doctor, and I was fortunate to get an appointment that morning. So I figured I would be taken care of and went about the business of making the bed. I suddenly started hearing a very loud noise, like someone was drilling concrete out in the back of our building (our back lanai faces a parking lot), so I went to look out the kitchen window to investigate. I was shocked and horrified to realize that the noise was no drill, but rather our refrigerator. It went on with the loud drilling sound for about a minute, and then it sputtered and went quiet. I put my ear up to the side of the freezer, and found that there was a slight humming. Hmmm… at least it wasn’t fully dead, but rather walking with a limp.
Of course, I had to call the landlady and make arrangements for a repairman to come out, and thankfully he was to come after my doctor appointment. To make a long story short, I went to the doctor and was sent home with an armload of medication, (he was pretty sure it was a virus, not an infection) and was told to go home and rest, which is exactly what I felt like doing. So, I went home to wait for the repairman instead, who was to arrive between 3pm and 6pm. He came earlier rather than later, and I was glad for that. He poked around the refrigerator for a bit. He seemed to be a nice, polite, young man, who was maybe around 30, at most. He then told me some good news and some very, bad news.
He told me that the part the self-defrosts the freezer was no longer working, and that he could replace that. He explained that the gawd-awful sound I was hearing was the fan hitting ice on the inside. That was the good news. The problem was that the freezer wouldn’t work until it was defrosted… and I mean defrosted the old-fashioned way. Anyone who was born before the 70s will likely remember turning off the refrigerator after putting everything into coolers of ice, (or just running out of food) and letting the ice melt in the freezer. You could very carefully chip away at it, once it started to fall off, but you had to be really careful or you could break something and it would leak freon. NOT a good thing. It was never a welcome chore, but back in the day it was the only way. He told me I could call him if I wasn’t sure how to do it. I suddenly felt really old… I imagine he probably never really had to do that in his life.
I told him that I, ummm… I had done that many times before, thank you very much… and would it be okay if we waited to defrost until Friday? We don’t have a cooler and I had to try to use up the food in the freezer. He was a bit indirect in answering, just saying that it was important to get it done as soon as possible, and that it would be as good as new, once defrosted.
I won’t go into a lot more detail about all of this, because it doesn’t matter at this point. The freezer really showed signs of not working two days later, as food was starting to thaw on its own. I salvaged what I could and put it into the refrigerator. When that wasn’t feeling as cold, (Wednesday) I broke down and bought 2 styrofoam coolers and 2 bags of ice. We were both wondering… if the repairman replaced the part that self-defrosts, what was the point of defrosting… and, would it freeze again? Would it really reset it self after manual defrosting? We were both baffled. Still, we threw stuff out, (including the lilikoi juice I’d saved…. not good!) cleaned it out, turned it off, and opened the door overnight. Needless to say, it was exhausting.
Monty let me sleep in that morning and left for work, before I awoke. When I went into the kitchen to get coffee, I was amazed to see the refrigerator humming… and cold inside! It was also filled with blinding, white from having nothing in it… maybe that makes me nervous? Maybe just a little. Call me neurotic… it’s okay. I must tell you though, there is one thing that makes me smile~ there is now plenty of room in the freezer for my ice cream maker tub… gelato is coming soon~ yippee!
Meanwhile, I managed to salvage a package of chicken breakfast sausage that was still ice-cold from the defrosting freezer. It really did need to be used this weekend, so I give you this breakfast casserole recipe that I whipped up from the experience of several others I’ve made. If you’ve never tried making a breakfast casserole, I do recommend it. You make it the night before, stick it in the oven for about an hour the next morning, and you have time in the morning to relax. Which is exactly what I need… for the next year.
Breakfast casserole~ make it the night before
The amounts for this will serve 4-6 people, so we will have leftovers for a day or so. This is not a bad thing, because Monty doesn’t like to make breakfast. Here’s what I did, though you can improvise with other ingredients. This is all put into a 2-1/2 quart casserole, to be baked the next morning:
I had the 1-lb package of bulk chicken breakfast sausage, so I cooked that in a small frying pan, breaking it up as it cooked. While the sausage was cooking, I cut up some bread into approximately 1-inch pieces. I wanted a firm, solid, yet soft bread for this, so I chose some ciabatta rolls that I got at the farmers market. You can use whatever kind of bread you want, though I just prefer a little firmness, like a french bread or even something more rustic. But, you needn’t limit yourself… you can make this mexican style with tortillas or cornbread. Whatever you use, you will need about a half loaf of bread. This is a very flexible recipe, so use your best judgement and the things you like.
Little ciabatta rolls
The bread ends up as the first layer in the casserole, after a good spray of cooking spray to the bottom and sides.
Spread diced bread on bottom of casserole
I wanted to add some veggies, so I washed some kale I got from the farmers market and steamed it. When it was done, I drained it and squeezed the water from it. If you have some frozen spinach, you can thaw it and squeeze out the excess water. That would be even easier. Whatever you use, it is a great opportunity to squeeze some vegetables in. I also added a little bit of pressed garlic. When the sausage was done, I added it in and gently stirred.
Sausage with kale and a little garlic
Sausage, kale and garlic mixture spread on top of the bread.
Sausage mixture over bread
The eggs are next. I whisked 6 eggs and about 1 cup of milk (I’m a non-fat user, but what works for you is your choice) together with a good shake of salt and pepper. I added about a half cup of grated cheddar cheese that also needed to be used, to this mix.
Eggs, milk, cheese, salt & pepper
Once well mixed, I quickly poured it over the top of the casserole. I then gave the casserole a good rap on a solid surface to help distribute the milk and eggs to the bottom.
Ready to kiss goodnight~ muah!
At this point, you are pretty much done, for the moment. All you need to do is kiss it goodnight, cover it with aluminum foil and put it into the refrigerator until tomorrow morning.
The next morning about an hour and a half before you want to eat, place the casserole into the oven (keep the foil on) and turn it on to 350°. Set your timer for about 1 hour and ten minutes. Relax and catch up on the news or something~ mornings are much better like that. When the time is up, pull the casserole from the oven and let it rest still covered for about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Fresh out of the oven
Breakfast is served!
Ingredient list for this version:
cooking spray or oil to grease the casserole
bread equivalent to 1 1/2 loaf of bread (I used 5 small multi-grained ciabatta rolls)
1 lb. package bulk chicken breakfast sausage
1 bunch kale, trimmed of stems, steamed, drained and squeezed dry of excess water
6 whole eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt & pepper to taste