Monday, January 31, 2011

Organizing Our Chaos

Have you ever had that niggling feeling that something is wrong, but can't quite place a finger on it? It's kind of like when you feel someone staring at you and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but when you look around, no one is to be found.

That's the feeling I've had for some time now. Not the somebody staring part, but that "off" feeling of unfinished business.

After nearly 24 years of marriage, I've finally figured it out.

It's called disorganization.

Thanks to a book called, "Large Family Logistics", by Kim Brenneman, that niggling is about to come to an end.

In theory anyway.

According to Kim, who is herself a mother of 9 children, (no relation), there is a way to giterdone without doing yourself in. She designates her days of the week to specific tasks. Everyone in her family knows what is going to happen on that day, and in an "orderly" fashion, tasks are completed. (Call me a cynic, but I'm still uncertain that the words family and orderly can be used in the same sentence!) Unlike her, in my house, my attention to detail and time-management issues keeps me from completing anything. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, but as a homemaker, I want my home to be a reflection of who I am.

Right now, that reflection could shatter mirrors.

Using Kim's technique, my Mister and I came up with our own plan. Well, mostly we copied her plan, but it's in our house, so it's uniquely ours.

In theory.

Here's how our plan looks...

~Monday~Laundry Day
*All sheets are stripped from beds in the morning to be washed
*Vacuum mattresses
*Dog bedding gets washed
*Bath day for the dogs
*Make laundry soap, if needed

~Tuesday~Town Day~Crockpot Day
*Feed store
*Pick up medications

~Wednesday~Office Day
*Pay bills
*Go over budget
*File school papers
*Work on lesson planners for following week

~Thursday~Kitchen Day
*Take inventory
*Clean fridges
*Make yogurt
*Bake bread
*Cook freezer meals, if needed

~Friday~Cleaning Day
*Deep clean entire house
*Wash windows

~Saturday~Gardening/Outside Day
*Fill wood-rack
*Clean/vacuum out cars
*Clean garage
*Sweep porches
*Clean animal pens
*Organize the rubber boot closet

*Wash cars
*Mow lawns
*Weed garden/flowerbeds
*Cut firewood/fill woodshed
*Maintain animal pens and chicken coop
*Organize the rubber boot closet (Because our children wear rubber boots year-round! And yes, it gets gross.)

~Sunday~Day of rest and relaxation!
Enjoy family time

I used to think that our home was "organized chaos", but have come to the conclusion that there was nothing organized about it. Sometimes there is so much to do, that it's easier mentally to not do anything at all. There's a saying that goes something like this, "The faster I go, the more behind I get." Doing anything, without purpose, keeps our progress to a minimum.

It also keeps the bedsheets from being washed.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu Plan 1/31/11

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

This will be my mantra for the week. Thursday, I hit a little roadblock in my meal plan.

I got sick. Or tried to anyway. It never really amounted to more than a terrible headache, but that alone was enough to derail my cooking plans.

It's very difficult to cook when you're head is pounding to the beat of your own heart. Even if it did have a pretty good rhythm.

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Crockpot Apple Pie Oatmeal (still new!)

Crockpot Salsa Chicken w/ Soaked Brown Rice, Corn

No Crust Spinach Omelet (still new!)
Bottomless Chicken Pot Pie, Caesar Salad

Fried Eggs, Toast



Peanut Butter Muffins, Homemade Yogurt
Superbowl Food...TO BE DETERMINED!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tales of the Pepto Bismol Room

When I see this color, my mind immediately shifts to memories of childhood. This color does not evoke pleasant memories of cotton candy at the local fair, but rather, of my mom teaching me the value of numbers by saying, "Kimberly Sue, I am going to count to 3 and if you do not swallow that medicine, your tummy-ache will not be the only problem you'll be having!"

I took that as a multiple choice and went with option 2.

Here's the thing, you know something is going to be bad when your mother uses your entire given name. It's just as bad when your adult daughter comes to you and starts her sentence with "Momma".
Adult daughter's should never be allowed to choose their room colors. See, as an adult, my daughter knew that her remaining time here was short. You'd think we would've already learned this lesson. After all, Melissa is daughter #4. Shortly before our eldest daughter, Kelsie, moved away, she chose the downstairs bathroom color.

Her favorite color at the time was neon orange.

Thankfully, the ceiling caved in and the whole bathroom needed to be gutted. Personally, I think the bathroom committed suicide.

I've decided that it's up to me to save the bedroom before it too gets a crazy idea to end it all. Except for the carpet, which is *gasp* pink (!), the room has been stripped clean. It is a blank slate, ready for it's makeover and a new resident. When this room is done, it will no longer be known as the Pepto Bismol room, but as... didn't think I'd tell you yet, did you?

 Here's what I'm working with...

Warning: Must wear safety goggles before entering Pepto Planet!

If radiation had a color, this would be it. Even the deer can see the glow.

Run Bambi~It's not safe!!

Blue/Grey primer to "coat" the Pepto Bismol walls

After's safe to remove your eye wear now.

Sometimes, when a project consumes me, I can be a little hard to communicate with. Locked in the Pepto room with TobyMac and Bon Jovi blaring from the I-home, Matthew decided that the answer he was seeking was not going to be answered through traditional methods.

We'll be working on his spelling after my project is completed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lentil Burritos

When I began this blog, with only a smidge less knowledge than I possess now, my intention was to have a place to share favorite recipes along with life and the lessons learned along the way. For the most part, I've been able to do as I intended.

But, because of my challenged computer skills, I haven't been able to figure out how to add cute little tabs for various subjects, so everything is kind of a jumbled up mess. Instead of hiding my head in shame however, I have embraced my incompetence in this area. With my head held high, I will continue on. Mainly, I've been doing what some of you have to do~search (frantically, for me) through the mess, looking for that one, or 20, recipes that I've posted without a picture. Those recipes that I know I've shared, but can't really remember where.

I call them The Lost Recipes. I'll be pulling earlier recipes out of the hidden recesses of my, and re-posting them under their appropriate labels, making them easier to find. So, if some of them look familiar, just know that you are not losing your mind, nor are you having an episode of deja vu. Pretend, for my sake, that these are brand new, never before seen recipes.

I beg of you.

This is one of those recipes that should never be misplaced. Ever. Not only are Lentil Burritos frugal, meat-free and delicious, they are also considered a "fast food" in our house. It is also one of the recipes that cannot be messed up.

Even by me.☺

Lentil Burritos

~The Players~

3/4 C. dry, organic brown lentils
3/4 C. dry, organic brown rice
4 C. **beef broth (or 4 C. water and 1-1/2 Tb. organic beef soup base)
4 t. chili powder
1 t. dried cumin
2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
Optional: grated Cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole

Dump everything into a medium pot and bring to boil. Turn down the heat to medium low, cover, and continue to cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is done; approximately 45 minutes. Stir a couple of times while cooking.

Use as filling in the tortilla of your choice. We like to add a little grated cheese and serve with sour cream/ guacamole. ☺

Serves 4.
(I always double this and keep any extra in the fridge for a quick lunch later in the week.)

*For crispy burritos, lay wrapped burritos on cookie sheet. Lightly brush each burrito with olive oil and bake in 375F. preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

**To make a vegetarian version, omit beef broth and use vegetable broth instead. 


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Two Week Meal Plan 1/23/11

A couple of weeks ago, I made the decision to grocery shop every other week instead of weekly. As a result, I ended up saving quite a large amount of mullah. ($118.00 to be exact!)

But, live-in-the-moment girl that I am, I did not save any of the cash for a rainy day. Really, who does that? Who really wants to go outside to spend some money on a rainy day? Maybe if I were stranded on a desert for months on end, the rain might seem like a welcome guest. But I, like every other Pacific Northwester, tends to bury my head under my pillow when I hear the rap-a-tap-tap of raindrops on my window. (It's a coping mechanism. Or denial.) I look for any excuse possible to NOT leave the warmth of my cozy home when the sky is leaking.

 Sometimes however, we do not wake to liquid sunshine streaming in our windows. Sometimes my friends, it is the real deal. A bright light in the sky, with the ability to blind those who are unaccustomed, shining, and demanding an audience. That bright yellow orb to some of you may be known as the sun. To us pasty-skinned, vitamin D deprived lovers of green grass and trees, the sun is an open invitation to venture outside.

With time limits, of course. 

So, my savings at the grocery store did not go into a rainy day fund.

It went to the beach.

Since the savings plan worked so well before, we're going to try this 2-week plan again.

Just in case the sun decides to reappear before July 5th.

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Granola or Fried Eggs & Toast

Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/blueberries
Lentil Burritos, Guacamole, Green salad

Peach Kuchen (carried over from last week)
Fried Elk Steak, Roasted Potatoes, English Creamed Peas (new), Cranberry Relish

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Toast

Herbed Mushroom Omelettes (new)

Apple Pie Oatmeal (new)

Homemade Egg Noodles w/ Herbed Butter (new), Baked Salmon, Sauteed greens

Granola & Yogurt
Potato/Corn Chowder, Caesar Salad

Simple Soaked Oatmeal w/blueberries

No-Crust Spinach Omelettes (new)

~Wednesday~ (Grocery Day!)

Fried Eggs, Toast

Steel-Cut Nutty Oats w/canned fruit
Crockpot Salsa Chicken, Soaked Brown Rice


Granola & Yogurt
Simple Sunday Supper (leftovers or whatever we pick up on the way home from church!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Salmon Patties

Back in September, my Mister and I bought a rather large amount of fresh salmon at a very reasonable price. We froze some of it in fillets and roasts, and canned the rest, to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Not to say that fresh salmon isn't welcome, but there's just something about having a salmon meal in the dead of winter, when it's not fishing season, that just tickles me to death. It almost feels like we're getting away with something.

That appeals to the rebel in me. Or, actually the wanna-be rebel in me.

One of our favorite meals are these salmon patties. I found the original recipe in a cookbook called, "Whole Foods for the Whole Family", by the La Leche league. (In case you don't know who they are, they are the breastfeeding experts.) Over the years, this recipe has been tweaked several times, but it has stayed pretty close to the original.

Like I said, a wanna-be rebel.

When making these, I always double the recipe so that we can enjoy salmon burgers for lunch the following day. With some homemade tartar sauce, this is one of those comfort meals that always finds its way onto our table several times a month.

Salmon Patties with Homemade Tartar Sauce

~The Players~
1 lb. canned salmon with liquid (1 pint home-canned or the equivalent of store-bought)
1/3 C. whole wheat flour (use fresh-ground if you can)
1/4 C. cornmeal (again, fresh ground is best)
1/4 C raw wheat germ
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 large onion, chopped (sweet is best, but yellow is fine too.)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (You can use green, yellow or orange if you prefer.)
Zest and juice from 1 large lemon (I used Meyer lemons)
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
oil for browning (I used Red Palm oil, but expeller pressed coconut oil works too.)

Dump the salmon into a large bowl, using a fork to break apart. Don't worry if there are bones in there, they are soft and break into the mixture well. You won't even know that they are there.

Add the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, wheat germ, salt, and pepper. Slightly mix in.

In a separate, small bowl, lightly beat eggs.

But first marvel at the ridiculous size of eggs that some of your chickens might be laying. You may want to congratulate them.

Into the salmon mixture, mix in the eggs, lemon zest and juice; stir well. Add in in the onions and peppers.

You mixture should look something like this.

Unless you used green, yellow or orange peppers.

In a large cast iron pan, heat oil until very hot, but not smoking. You only want about 1/4 inch of oil in the pan, anymore than that and we'll have to rename the art of frying to the art of swimming.

I get my Red Palm oil here, but you can find it at most whole food/health stores.

Don't be alarmed ,Red Palm oil is supposed to be...well, red!

Make patties in the palm of your hand, and using a pancake turner, very carefully place in the hot oil. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip over (again, very carefully!) and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes more. Remove cooked patties from oil and place on paper towels to drain.

Serve with Homemade Tartar Sauce! (Recipe follows)

Kim's Tartar Sauce

1-1/2 C. mayonnaise (The best that you can buy or make)
1 large dill pickle, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 t. dry mustard
1 t. dried parsley
1/8 t. paprika
1/2-1 t. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Serve with Salmon Patties, homemade fish & chips, or your favorite seafood.


This post is linked to Fight Back Fridays over at the Food Renegade! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Room of My Own

In the grand scheme of life, a mom's desire for her own space is an often neglected want. Don't get me wrong, as much as a family loves, adores, and admires (in a perfect world) the matriarch of the family, there is not usually the space or the time to provide that often-needed space of retreat.

In the past, to have any alone time, I've needed to go for walks, with my trusty pepper spray and over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever; had to rise before anyone else, which in my house, means it's still hours before sunrise, or stay up later than the rest of the family, which means that I probably shouldn't waste precious quiet time by sleeping. Not when there is likely something to clean!

Then there are the times where an unexplainable trip to town is needed. Not that that results in rest and relaxation, but at least the music in the car is mine and I am free to sing at the top of my lungs, off-key, and oblivious of anyone I know spotting me. Of course, this method is not suitable for the frugal homemaker as money that was allotted for
"Suzie's" new socks ends up buying the frazzled mommy's new nail polish. That is, if she even has any nails left.

Enter my family. Specifically, my Mister. Women see a need and talk about various ways to accomplish the goal. (Since I am a woman, this is an appropriate observation. Not so, if a man observes and has the audacity to mention it.) Men typically see a need and just giterdone. Unless it's a big football playoff weekend. Thankfully, my farmer man isn't too concerned with football. It leaves more time for giterdone mode.

After seeing his rather frazzled wife, eyes wide, babbling incoherently, and possibly drooling after a rather rough day of homeschooling (Algebra is NOT for the faint of heart! And all I'm doing is correcting!), my beloved decided that it was time to give Momma a place of her own.

Definition of "very own": kid, husband, dog & cat free, with frills, ruffles and a collection of Anne Geddes pictures on the walls. May also include various shades of the color pink.

What began it's life as a shared space of office and sewing area, is now mine. All mine.

My sewing area before...

My sewing room after...

The office area, after the desk was removed, before...and slightly after...

My antique table, perfect for quilting and sipping tea, after...

Our shared office/sewing/craft/wrapping paper storage, before...

My scrapbooking/wrapping paper storage, after...

My literature...

My work area...

My artwork...

My tea, in my great-grandmother's wedding china...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need one more thing to make my room absolutely perfect.

A little background noise.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan 1/17/11

This is week 2 of my 2-week menu plan, and I am happy to report that I like this new schedule. The plan was to grocery shop for 2 weeks, using "fresh" ingredients for week 1, then resort to home-preserved foods for the following week.

I got my inspiration from Scrooge McDuck. See, Scrooge McDuck likes to hold on to his hard-earned cash. I can relate. He is also a little cranky at times, which is another thing we have in common.

Besides detesting my weekly visits to the grocery store, I find that sometimes I end up with more in my cart than items on my list! I'm not sure if "stuff" just falls off the shelves and my cart is just in the right place at the wrong time, or if some lunatic mystery shopper is just passing by and dropping things in.

I'll be keeping a closer watch in the future.

Our average weekly grocery bill runs about $140. This includes our 2 gallons of raw milk that we pick up every Wednesday. So, for 2 weeks worth of groceries, I budgeted $280.

Actual money spent at a whole foods type store...$118.00. Add in an additional $44 for 4 gallons of raw milk and the grand total was a whopping $162.00.

FOR 2 WEEKS!!!!!

Thank you Scrooge McDuck. I kept some money in my pocket and managed to keep a smile on my face!

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Cranberry Orange Scones (I substituted whole wheat flour for the white)
Navy Bean soup, fruit salad (from canned/frozen fruits)

Salmon Patties (will post this week!), Roasted potatoes, Swiss chard (must've fallen into the cart!)

Scrambled eggs, Deer sausage

Mexican Frittata, leftover cornbread

Peanut Butter Muffins (new), Fruit Smoothies
Sweet & Sour Meatballs, Soaked brown rice, baked Acorn squash

Jamaican Style Beans & Rice (new)

Granola, Yogurt
Elk Stew, European Peasant Bread (I killed my sourdough starter...again.)

This post is linked to Organizing Junkie's Menu Monday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Raindrops, Radishes and Riesentraube?

♫Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'.♫

♪So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job
Those raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'.♫

♪But there's one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me♪

♫Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me
'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me.♪

~B.J. Thomas~

While I can't promise my eyes won't be turnin' red, I'm certainly not going to sit around and just wait for the sun to shine again. I live in the Pacific Northwest, therefore, it could be a very long wait.

And there's bound to be a few tears.

So, in honor of the spring that will eventually arrive, the dirt that will very quickly find a home back under my toenails, and the farmer's tan that I will be sporting sometime this year, I am planning my summer garden. Not just planning, today I actually ordered the seeds that will become food for my family. 

What's going in the garden you ask? 

Old Homestead Kentucky Wonder pole beans, Blue Lake Bush beans, and various dried varieties of beans.

Sweet Dumpling Squash, Butternut, Marina di Chioggia, Zucchini, and Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Purple Top Turnips, Blue Curled Scotch Kale, Bull's Blood Beets, Glory of Enkhuizen Cabbage, Pandora Striped Rose Eggplant, and Kohlrabi that my children can "sneak" into. 

Chocolate Striped, Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Riesentraube (an old cherry tomato), Striped Roman, and Red Zebra Tomatoes

Because I waited a little too long, I did not get the Green Zebra tomatoes that we so love. These will have to wait until April, when the farmer's market reopens for the season. Happily, I will be able to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor.

We're also planting Swiss chard, spinach, many types of lettuces, leeks, green bunching onions, radishes, carrots, red and yellow potatoes,  and many different herbs.

It's not all work and no play though. I also ordered 3 different types of sunflowers, zinnias, amaranth, and lots of sweet peas!

Guess it's time to start cleaning out the greenhouse!

Thank you Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company for making my wet winter a happier season.

Are you still in the planning stages, or have you advanced to the starting of the seeds? And more importantly, am I the only one eager for some springtime sunshine?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Leftover Pork Curry

Otherwise known as Day 2, aptly named by yours truly, this is a great way to use leftover pork. If you read yesterdays post, Roasted Pork Loin, you'll know that I like to plan ahead and save steps by cooking extra vittles for a later date.

This is the first time that I've used pork in a curry recipe, as we usually favor chicken for it's ease and expense. But I have to say, the pig was great! And because it was pre-cooked, the time spent on this dish was minimal. In fact, the time spent was less than 30 minutes, but please don't tell my family...they think I spent the whole day working on this!

Before I share the recipe, I need you to remember that not only am I an amateur photographer at best, but I am also forgetful in my semi-old age. I forgot to snap a picture of the finished product while it was hot, so in order to capture the finished product, I had to take a picture of cold leftovers. Cold coconut milk firms up a little. Even stirred, you'll be able to see chunks that do not resemble vegetables. Please do not let that deter your from trying this dish. It really is delicious!

Leftover Pork Curry
~adapted from the book, "Eat Fat, Lose Fat"~

~The Players~

2 Tb. coconut oil, beef tallow, or sesame oil
2 C. leftover pork (or lamb), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can whole coconut milk
2 C. beef stock
1 t. red curry paste
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 t. organic sugar
1 t. sea salt
2 Tb. fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into bite-sized strips
1 C. pod peas, ends removed and cut on an angle into 1/2-inch pieces

Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add meat and saute, stirring frequently, until browned, about 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix coconut milk and stock together. Whisk in the red curry paste.

Unless you forget to add the curry paste. Then quickly scoop a little milk back out of the pan and whisk the paste into that.

Just smile and pretend that you did it on purpose.

Add remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.

Can you smell it yet? Lean closer...

Pork curry can be served over brown rice or can be served in a bowl and eaten as a soup. At one of our favorite Thai restaraunts, curry is served as a soup, with a side of rice.

Just don't forget to take pictures of the finished dish before putting away the leftovers!

If there are any!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Roasted Pork Loin

Fact: My life is semi-organized chaos.

Fact: I am too busy to make it completely organized.

The reality is that I cut corners wherever and whenever possible. I don't like to do things twice, nor do I like to waste steps. One way to cut wasted time from my day is to cook more than we need for one meal. In this case, it's about the pig. Specifically, pork loin.

One 3-4 lb. pork loin roast can last for several days around here. In fact, I can make 2 very different dinners with it and we can enjoy the leftovers for lunch over 2 or 3 days.

I'm going to share with you a recipe that I found in the book, "Eat Fat, Lose Fat". I've adapted it from its original version, as it called for leg of lamb, but if you like lamb and can afford it (YIKES!), feel free to use that instead. Personally, we used to raise sheep for the sole purpose of having our own fresh lamb. After watching their births, spending hours holding them, and watching my kids take naps with them in the front yard, butchering day was NOT a happy occasion. In fact, I am sorry to say, we were lousy sheep farmers. We only butchered one lamb, then didn't have the heart to eat it.

But, if you like that kind of stuff, knock yourself out. I won't judge you.


Except for a lapse in judgement in which we became the rather frustrated owners of a pot-bellied pig named Rosie, we've never been pig farmers.

So, I'm sticking with the pork.

Roasted Pork Loin with Root Vegetables~Day 1
~adapted from Eat Fat, Lose Fat~

The Players

3 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
1 onion, sliced
3-4 lb. pork loin roast
6 Tb. melted butter
3 Tb. Dijon mustard
1 t. dried rosemary, thyme or tarragon
6 new potatoes, cut in halves or quarters (depending on size)
4-5 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
3 turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup white wine (whatever you like)
3-4 cups beef stock
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Place peeled garlic and slices of onion on bottom of roasting pan. Lay pork loin on top of onions, fat side up. Thoroughly mix melted butter and Dijon together and brush on roast.

Here's where I deviated from the recipe. It called for 3 Tb. melted butter mixed with Dijon, saving the remaining 3 Tb. butter to brush over the vegetables. Since there is a sauce that is poured over the entire dish, I decided the butter was better utilized during the baking process.

That, and I messed up. But I digress...

 Sprinkle herbs on top. Cover with lid or foil and place in oven. Roast until pork temperature reaches 145-160 when a thermometer is inserted in the center. About an hour before roast is done, add the potatoes, carrots and turnips. Mix them into the juices and put back in the oven.

When the roast reaches desired temperature, remove roast and set on platter, keeping it warm while finishing potatoes and sauce. Stir the vegetables into the juice and bake a few minutes more, or until potatoes are done. Slice the roast, leaving it on the platter. Remove vegetables from pan and place around sliced roast. Use a slotted spoon to keep extra juice in pan. 

In the roasting pan or a cast-iron skillet, mix wine and stock with juices from the pan. 

Bring to a rapid boil, stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Boil until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, skimming occasionally. Season with salt. Pour over entire platter, making sure to include vegetables.

Tomorrow, I'll share the recipe for using the leftover meat. I'll shall call it Day 2.

I know. That took a lot of thought.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Two Week Meal Plan for 1/9/11

With the price of gas well over the $3/gallon mark, I've decided to consolidate my trips to town. My usual routine of grocery shopping is once per week, but with gas prices where they are and where they seem to be heading, I'm going to try grocery shopping every other week.

Notice the emphasis on the word try?

For week one, we'll be using a lot of fresh (to us) produce. Week 2 will consist more of items we already have in the pantry. I'm not sure how this will work because I've gotten quite used to seeing lettuce wilting in the produce bin of the fridge.

New year, new beginnings, right?

I'm still doing the Eat Fat, Lose Fat challenge. In fact, my scale was very kind to me this morning as it showed that I'm down 2 lbs. Yeah! More importantly, I didn't go through the usual "blahs" of giving up the carbs. In fact, I've had more energy than my still healing body can keep up with! 

That has to be a good thing. 

Here's what's cooking~Week 1

Peanut Butter Muffins (I'll share this recipe this week!), fried eggs
Chicken Tortilla Soup, homemade tortilla chips

Baked ham, Macaroni & Cheese (w/ brown rice pasta), Spinach Pie (new)

Sourdough English Muffins w/ fried eggs and ham
Thai Cashew Chicken, Caesar salad w/ homemade dressing (new)

Baked Chicken w/ Peanut Sauce (I'll share the recipe for the sauce this week!), Broccoli Salad

Soaked Oatmeal w/ peaches
Coconut Chicken Soup, Caesar Salad w/ homemade dressing

Sunshine Casserole

Kodiak pancakes
Sauteed sea scallops, Coconut-Lime Rice (new), Spinach salad (w/feta, almonds, dried cranberries)

**Week 2** (I'll repost this part next week)

Granola & Yogurt Parfaits
Salmon Quiche, Blueberry muffins

Navy Bean Soup w/ ham hocks, canned fruit salad

Salmon Patties, (Oh my goodness, I still haven't posted this recipe...coming soon...I promise!), Roasted potatoes, green beans

Scrambled eggs w/ deer sausage

Mexican Frittata, leftover Cornbread

Peanut Butter Muffins, Fruit Smoothies
Sweet & Sour Meatballs, Soaked brown rice


Granola & Yogurt Parfaits
Jamaican Style Beans & Rice (new)

This post is linked with Menu Mondays at The Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hurdling the Obstacles, Instead of Tripping...Again.

Setting New Year's goals, tends to set people up for failure. Most goals are made on the spur of the moment, or during an emotional high/low, with the expectations being so far out of reach, goals are doomed before they begin.

That said, I've officially made it through day 2 of my own resolution, to get healthy and cut out the bad carbs. Can I call that a success? No, not yet. I have a long way to go before my yoga pants can actually be used for exercise instead of as a relief from the ever-shrinking jeans.  But, it is a good start.

Usually by day 2, I've relegated myself to the basement with my trusty bags of Fritos and Reese's to ease the shame. Of course, that brings another round of shame that can only be eased with a bowl of ice cream from my favorite uncles, Ben & Jerry. It's a vicious circle my friends, and it's one shape that I do not want to be.

I've also declared our home a "diet-free zone". Just the word "diet" sends chills down my spine and makes me want to have a Thanksgiving feast every week...with pie. Instead of dieting, I am cleansing. I've eliminated sugar, white flour, and white rice from my repertoire. I have cut most wheat products and potatoes from my meals and I have bagged the Fritos and Reese's for now. As a "former" food junkie, I am determined to not fail this time. Over the past year & a half, our diets have changed dramatically for the better. We consume more fresh fruits and veggies, grass-fed animal proteins and raw dairy than ever before. But our dependence on the "treats" has become the thorn in my side.

Memo to Starbucks...I resign. I will no longer be a slave to your Caramel Frappuccino. Nor will I wait in line, and pay you $4.26 to take one more year off of my life. 
...Almost sincerely, Me.

I've got a little more positive self-talking to do. 

~Here are my healthy food goals for 2011~

1. Eliminate all white sugar from the pantry. Except for the honeybee's sugar~they get testy without their daily fix. Keep that bag under lock & key. If pure maple syrup, raw honey, or sucanat cannot be substituted in a recipe, then we do not need it.

2. Use only flour that I have to grind myself. White flour has had all of the good nutrition robbed from it. It's the equivalent of eating dirt from a GMO farm. What's the point of eating it if there are no nutrients in it to begin with?

3. The only corn chips allowed in the house are ones that I have made myself. Making tortilla chips are easy, but more importantly, they are time-consuming to make. Which means that it's less likely that I'm going to hide in the basement with a bag.

4. Use only healthy, traditional fats. Coconut oil, olive oil, butter from pastured cows, ghee, and beef tallow are now taking the places of rancid oils such as; corn, canola, vegetable, and soybean oil.

5. Throw out all foods containing the words, partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil, MSG or "natural flavorings",  and high-fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. This means that the pudding cupboard will be no more. If we need pudding, we can make it. From whole food ingredients.

6. Move daily. Even if it's just dancing around the kitchen while I cook. And if that doesn't work, my Mister has my permission to tie a grain bag to my backside and leave me in the middle of the field with our always hungry cows.

If some of these seem familiar, they are. I have NOT arrived. Striving toward a healthier lifestyle is a daily challenge, especially with a large family who is always on the go. But it is a challenge that should be met head-on, even if it requires a helmet to prevent brain injury.

Expecting set-backs and knowing that goals are easier met when not alone, are key to to conquering "The New Year's Resolution Curse". When we stumble, it's always good to have someone to help us up. Most of the time, we know when we're going to trip up. Try to avoid those moments, but don't beat yourself up about them. Moments happen. And enjoying a meal with someone who has your back, can be a real boost towards success. Share with others your goals toward a healthier lifestyle. It may surprise you just how many people are willing to stand behind you. Even better is when they stand in front of you.

I recently read an article that said how we should eat. In the winter, 75% of our meals should be cooked. In the summer, only 25%, and during spring and fall, 50/50. That's a good plan and one that I plan on working toward. Another article stated that the term "whole food" is easiest to remember if you remember it as "one ingredient". Think back to math class and learning fractions. We have become a society of fraction-eating people. Fractions make me crazy. There are too many parts. Too many hands in the pot, so to speak.

I like 1. It's a good whole number.

Beginning a regular exercise program is also on my list of healthy goals, but that will have to wait until the Dr. gives the thumbs-up. Until then, I've got some work of my own to do.

How about you? Have you made healthy food goals for the year? Are you still working on your goals from last year or have those fallen off the proverbial wagon? 

It's time to pull up your bootstraps, and make 2011 your best, brightest and healthiest year yet!