Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand by for a special announcement

This blog will return in it's entirety, after a special announcement.

OMG!, the new job is a lot to learn.

Of course it did not help to be hired on the 22 and have to close a month of bookkeeping and payroll edit errors that happened before you arrived, by the 30th.

So not only am I learning "new", I am trying to clean "old" and it is a big job.

So did I mention that it is a big job. Oh I did, sorry.

But we did have Sunday Cafe and it went well, considering I had no menu and no real time to prepare. I did prepare the requested items (except the pecan pie, cause I always make it at Thanksgiving, and the request came to late and I had no pecans.)

No pictures, but we did have a good time. The food was good, and everyone took home "family bags".

So for now, it is only an SOS for forgiveness and see you in a week!

M

Monday, September 22, 2008

New menu item

We have developed a new menu item here at the Cafe, FFY. It is tasty, custom tailored for each person, and is very little work for the Cafe owner.

It is Fend For Yourself.

Tonight we will be having FFY.

Today I start the new job and I will need to drive about 150 miles round trip for training. I hope this does not last for weeks and weeks, eeks!

Tonight I will need to get some shoes that are "business casual" and a couple of roasts, one beef and one pork for the crockpot. We might be needing these in the next few days.

A new adventure is always fun, but with only one day off in between old job and new job, I am a little unprepared. Not to mention I was already booked for the Komen race and spending time with friends. And it was just what the doctor ordered.

So for today it is ugly shoes that were from the old job and FFY for dinner.

Hope your day is great,

M

PS, I know it does not appear I have been cooking much, and that is kind of true. But there are more recipes in store, soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Today was it, "it" as in done!

I got home from "old" job at about 4:40 pm, and I am glad to be through. Except for co-workers there was little to enjoy about the environment. It goes without saying that I did not mind the work, actually I do not mind any work that supports my household. However it is hard to work for a business partnership that is,

&^(*&))$#@%^^&* and &^^%$$%^^&&&^&&$#@#@$$%#@.

There I said it.

I will miss, Nikki and Donita and Jessica and Tracee. I hope we do get together for dinner and a glass or bottle of wine! Thanks for the orchid plant and touching card.

Tomorrow I have a walk to complete with friends (Susan G Komen race for the cure), let me see I just counted my participation pins and I have (11 was wrong there are 12); so tomorrow will be #13. A walk along the Saturday market and some good food and friendship while I spend some time with my "cronies" and then home for laundry chores and such.

I start Monday morning at the new job early and then drive to the Salem Or area for training.

I spent time in the back yard raking and cleaning, there really is a lot to do. We have the south side of the yard to get fenced, we being a VERY loose term here. And wood to get stacked and covered for winter use. I did get the wood storage area raked and ready. I did some bed cleanup and then my hour was up. Time to get other things done, like dinner.

I hope your day was great, now lets see; what on earth will we eat for dinner?

M

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back to the future?????

I am not (usually) an alarmist, but I am becoming concerned for our country as a whole; and our families here and now. I cannot change the economic climate overall, but I can arrange to the best of my ability my/our own economic circumstances here at home.

I have always been frugal (except for a splurge for the kids now and again) and for the most part, do not charge anything. I do have a small car payment currently and of course a mortgage. My goal is to have the car paid off as of April 2009 when my zero percent loan is matured.

But right now, here and now; I am becoming concerned.

So I implore everyone,
do not charge,
do not waste,
do not whine,
do not just sit there,
do not think that today will not count,
do not think that a program somewhere will help you.

I request of everyone,
appreciate the small things,
appreciate your family for being "there",
appreciate the "free" things available - walking, libraries, board games at home, etc etc
appreciate the meal before you.

I suggest to everyone,
cook all your meals - eating out is expensive,
share family time - always paying for entertainment is expensive,
reuse what you can,
trade your unneeded for what you need,
laugh, it is a great health booster,
take a vitamin, yes they do work and are not that expensive,
remember this too shall pass.

OK that is it, I am not usually political or alarming, but I am concerned.

I want everyone healthy and happy, I however can only change my own home. But so can you! If we all change our homes for the better, we will be a better community. A few communities close to each other creates a better city, and onward and onward. Yes I have been called "Pollyanna" and I don't mind. This has gotten me where I am today.

Debt free
Healthy
Happy
Loving
Kind
and with a great family to love and be loved by.

**************************************************

ON ANOTHER NOTE,


It seems there are two new jobs to speak about this week. My Honey's and now myself. I begin a new job Monday September 22. It also involves a small raise in pay, which is always nice. The hours are better and it is more recession proof. A little bit of an extra benefit. I will get home at a better hour to fix a proper dinner and I will have my weekends back, except for a scheduled half day Saturday once a month. Win win win, I like that.

I have been tired of eating a throw together dinner, so I began tonight's dinner this morning. We will be having grilled steak (it is marinating now and will only need to be grilled) baked potatoes (they have been baked and will only need a quick warm up) and yellow summer squash casserole (the squash is cooked and only a quick sauce and run under the broiler will be needed).

I have no idea why I did not break down a recipe before so we could eat better, see even I am sometimes slow to do a great and right thing!

Hope your day is great!

M

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meatballs for the freezer


Honey started a new job this week. That was simply the end of a very busy time for him since he had spent the week before in Idaho finishing up his old job. And of course we had a little family gathering, and you can see some of the pictures here.

I worked an extra half day on Monday, my usual day off from work and time with the granddaughter. She got to go see her Papa's train club and see the trains running on the track. When we said our goodbyes to her Papa so he could stay at train club and I could get her home for the night, she informed me that she and her Papa were going to build a train track in the back yard they could have their own train club. She loves her Papa and Papa loves her!

Of course when I got the granddaughter home, she made a few "excuses" why I should not leave just yet. So we picked raspberries, watered some of the vegetable garden, and otherwise used up all the time before she had to go to bed. Finally I said my goodbyes and left with a sack of cherry tomatoes and a beautiful zucchini to cook.

This morning I have meatballs in the oven for a quick cook, then they will be chilled and tonight I will use my food saver and pack them away for winter. They smell great, but it is not really a recipe, more like a freestyle process.

I have done some work in the garden (AKA potager), I have come to realize that our yard just has too much shade to actually grown anything of any quantity. But in all my dreams of having a garden to putter in, I really have only dreamed of the puttering. So it is OK. There are sunny spots all over the yard, and I like the eclectic look of a yard/garden that is planted in such a way that the plants are exactly where they need to be. There is a beauty to that, it is really just like nature. Nothing grows well if it is not planted in the right spot. So there might be tomatoes over here, peas over there, etc. But the actual area that is the potager, will be serene and have berries and beauty and a place to relax. I don't think a yard gets better than that.

You can change the personality of the meatballs by the choice of meat used. If you like an Italian style meatball use the sausage. If you simply want meatballs that can be used for whatever and not cuisine specific use all beef.

Freestyle meatball at the ready

3 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound mild italian sausage
OR
4 pounds of lean ground beef

1 medium onion, minced
4 eggs
1 T garlic salt
1 cup dry bread crumbs
flour

Combine all ingredients in a LARGE bowl. Mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls (or smaller if you prefer). Toss in flour to coat.
Brown meatballs in fat of choice or simply spray your pan with Pam. As the meatballs brown, move them to a large baking pan with sides, at least 9X13. Continue browning all the meat balls. Pour 2 cups of beef stock, bouillion or water over meatballs, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Drain away any leftover stock and/or fat. Chill meatballs. Pack into freezer bags or use a food saver.
Store away in freezer until needed.


Some ideas for use:

Spaghetti and meatballs
Meatball and pepper subs
Meatball pizza (cut the meatballs in half)
Just meatballs


Enjoy your day!

M

Friday, September 12, 2008

Country Chicken and Looking back on the week

Well I could comment on what I did not get done (move wood, clean annual beds etc etc) or I could just say it has been quiet. Not too quiet, simply quiet. I like quiet. I live quiet. We generally are a quiet couple. Quiet is comforting. Quiet is our norm. We even have a quiet pet.

That is not to say we are boring, oh maybe by commercial TV standards we are boring. But I would venture to say we are, well actually we are just right; for us. And that is what counts. We each have our moments, and there is an occasional "blue streak" that can be heard; and I must honestly say not just from Him!

Honey has been away all week. That has added to the quiet. It will be good to see him come home tonight. To reestablish our quietness together, and stop being separate. He in one state, I in another. Home together.

I have gotten a few things done besides the daily paying job and mandatory upkeep of the home and care of the pet.

There was the great Food Saver awareness day, and the making of 30 stuffed bell peppers.

I did get some plants replanted in better spots.

I did get the soaker hose rearranged for the new rhubarb and blueberry spots and some watering done.

I did make all my own meals instead of eat out, and instead of using "it is only me, and why cook for one", which has been such a handy excuse in the past.

I did remain ever frugal and use the leftovers and planned overs that were in the fridge and freezer.

I did get the herb garden ring assembled and the chives planted. I have not retrieved a start of Rosemary from the kids yet. I will wait until this weekend, that way we both can see the granddaughter, and say hi to the kids.

I did get the lilac tree branches carried to the wood storage area.

See quiet is OK.

Here is a quiet way to use up some cooked chicken. Actually this is good enough to cook up chicken (thighs are great here) just so you can make this casserole. This also uses the All Purpose Baking Mix.

Sunday Cafe Country Chicken
400 degrees

6 - 8 slices of bacon
1/2 of a small onion

2 c diced cooked chicken
2 c frozen peas and carrots (or just peas if that is what you have)
2 large tomatoes - diced large
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (about 6 oz)
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can water

1 1/2 c All Purpose Baking Mix
2/3 c milk or water

Dice the bacon, brown in a skillet. Remove the bacon to a drain on a paper towel. Reserve about 1 T of the drippings. Dice the onion, brown in the bacon fat. Set aside to cool.

In the bottom of a 9X13 pan, layer the following: chicken, peas and carrots, diced tomatoes, bacon and 1 c of the cheddar cheese. Combine soup and 1/2 can water, mix well. Pour over ingredients in pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Combine All purpose baking mix and water (or milk, your choice). Drop over casserole in 8 drops or biscuits. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the biscuit dough and then the browned onions.

Bake additional 12 - 15 minutes.

Serves 6 - 8


Enjoy!

M

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gingerbread and Ginger Cookie Mix

A few days ago I was thumbing through a cookbook I have had this book for 20ish years. It only has a few dirty pages, so I know that I have not used it a lot. There are recipes that just now have caught my eye. Maybe I was too young to appreciate the style of writing or the personality of the authors. In some ways these recipes seem a bit tame in comparison to what a seeker will find, on the internet and in newly published books. But as the title states, old does not mean useless.

I am an everyday cook, not one to be fancy. Oh sure I like to make the serving plate look enticing, but usually the food itself is ordinary and comfortable, what I call "everyday". I usually cook the same way whether we are having company or not.

It is the company that makes the food seem unusually good, or special.

And I like that.

I show respect and love for my family by being true in the kitchen each and every day. But I must confess, when I have prepared a dish for company, you better not touch it before serving time, I do want to "show off" a bit!

I love gingerbread and chewy gingersnap cookies. So when I was looking and marking things I wanted to try or make up (some are mixes), I came across a homemade mix that will make gingerbread or chewy gingersnap cookies. The following was found in:

BETTER THAN STORE BOUGHT,

Authoritative recipes for the foods that most
people never knew they could make at home.

by: Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie (copyright 1979)

Gingerbread and/or Ginger Cookie Mix
Makes 2 packages

1 c sugar
4 t ground coriander
3 1/2 t baking powder
3 t ground ginger
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t ground cloves
4 c flour- spoon lightly into measure cup and level

Measure all ingredients except flour into a large bowl and mix together using a whisk to combine.

Add flour and continue to whisk until all ingredients are mixed together and no white streaks of flour are present.

Divide the mixture into two batches (2 1/2 c each), if any amount remains in the large mixing bowl, divide equally between the two packages. Store at room temperature in either plastic bags or glass jars.

Gingerbread
350 degrees

1 c boiling water
3/4 stick (6 T) butter
3/4 c light unsulphured molasses
1 package (1/2 batch) Gingerbread/Ginger Cookie Mix
1 egg plus 1 yolk

Combine boiling water, butter and molasses. Stir until butter melts, let cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl combine the package of mix and the cooled butter mixture, stir to combine. In a small bowl, beat the egg and yolk, stir the egg mixture into the ginger bread mixture, mixing well. Pour into prepared 8 inch pan.

Bake 45 minutes or until top spring back when lightly touched. Let cool before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or lemon sauce.

Serves 9

**************************************************

Ginger Cookies
375 degrees

1/4 stick butter (4 T)
2/3 light unsulphured molasses
2 eggs beaten to combine well
1 package Gingerbread/Ginger Cookie Mix


Beat the butter and molasses together, stir in the eggs and mix lightly. Add the cookie mix and combine until mixture is evenly dampened. Drop by teaspoons onto a prepared cookie sheet. Bake 6 - 8 minutes or until the centers spring back when gently touched. Remove from cookies sheets and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

I like this recipe because it allows variety. Many times when a mix is used whether homemade or purchase, all food is the same.

I hope this adds variety to you meals.

M

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

These hands.....

Are attached to the body of a woman that has a timid streak! How that happened is beyond me, and it just does not seem to add up.

After all:
I am 53 years old/young,
5'8" tall,
wear a size 12W shoe,
weigh - (well that shall remain a secret even the Department of Licensing does not know!) lets just say ENOUGH,
and I have large hands.

The hands are very useful, for instance they can......help, heal and hold.

The shoulders are broad and can carry more than the usual load of work and worry.

The arms are long and that is helpful with the list of chores the hands can accomplish.

The brain is probably "normal" in size and is useful as well. I can learn and relearn if needed. I can reason and reconsider if needed. I can recommend and relate and all sorts of other R word skills.

But the brain has that T word......... timid.

I have tried to lose it, on many occasions. I have been loud at times thinking that loud will remove timid, it does not. I have been silent at times, thinking that maybe that would shooo timid away, but quiet does not work. I have been funny at times with witty talk, and yet timid stays. I have not been able to embarrass or shame timid with my behavior, and it stays.

Timid usually does not matter much, except for a few things. OK, that is a lie. Timid is there everyday. But I am usually OK with timid being present. After all, sometimes timid helps me keep my mouth shut when I really should!

But there is an area where timid is really really REALLY in the way.

Mechanical.

I know, I know. How hard can it be, right? But I seem to have this blockage. Think freeways for a moment. If a large truck is stalled on the freeway, does traffic flow?

Here let me help, I will give you the answer; it is no.

Now trade my brain for a freeway and timid for a large truck. See what I mean?

I have owned a food saver device for about 2 years now. I love it, well actually I loved the concept; because I really did not use it until today.

Oh sure, I watched the DVD on how to use it and thumbed through the paper manual. My daughter used it, said it works great. She did not have to watch the DVD or look at the manual.

The food saver device was hidden in my pantry cupboard for almost 2 years. Then I moved it to the kitchen, where I would have to look at it everyday. After a while it seemed to fit there and was a part of my kitchen.

Oh, I had come up with many excuses to not use the food saver in those almost 2 years. The bag making material is expensive. I then had to remind myself how expensive wasted food is. I told myself that what I was placing in the freezer was such a small amount, that it did not warrant the food saver, only to find little bags of unknown stuff to throw out later. Will I ever change?

Yes.

I made 30 stuffed peppers for the freezer. My excuses were gone. I HAD to use the food saver to store the food without fear of freezer burn and future waste.

So I did it, I mastered the food saver. There is no stopping me now. Watch out food world, I am in control! If it can be frozen or stored for long periods of time, I will bag it! Just watch me!

OK don't, just go on with your day.

Make it a good one (please)!

M

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Start of a new week

It was a busy weekend, with yard work, fence building (actually completed on north side!) and a birthday celebration on Sunday. We had a simple gathering with cookies and ding dongs (my Honey's long time favorite) and other things to nibble. Some gifts and laughter, it was a nice time.

Monday was a busy day as well. I had my granddaughter for the day, she and I watched movies, played in the yard and then had ice cream and a Merry Go Round ride at Jantzen Beach. Oh and the stroll down the toy aisle, with "Oh grammie I love this!" and "Isn't She beautiful" when we came upon the Disney Princess dolls.

I was also informed that Granddaughter is having a Princess party for her birthday. She explained to me that all of the little girls will dress up as princesses. She asked me if I would like to come, yet let me know that "Grammies do not dress up, only girls".

After the trip to Jantzen beach was over and we were back home, I gave her a "digger" and she was dispatched to the back yard to play on the slide and pick some weeds. I took her home a bit early because there was no nap, and she was getting tired (me too!) and I still had 30 stuffed green peppers to get ready for the freezer. However when we were in the yard, I noticed that I have quite a few rose hips. I think I will try my hand at some rose hip jelly.

My Honey is out of town for the week, working in Idaho. It will be a quiet week, I am hoping to keep myself busy with projects and getting things done. Sometimes the quiet will lull me into inactivity. I have yet to decide if that is laziness coming out, or my need for some quiet as well. Tonight after work I will make a trip to Costco for the things we need, pay bills because it is also payday and settle in for the night, to start it all over again!

Some of the things I would like to get done:

rearrange the soaker hoses around the blueberries and rhubarb, they have been replanted in better sun spots. In addition there is room to add 2 more rhubarb and 2 more blueberry plants come spring.

Use the curved concrete border pieces (from the lilac tree that was cut down) to make a little garden in the garden for herbs. Then transplant the chives and a bit of the rosemary from the kids backyard.

Carry the cut lilac branches to the wood storage area on the north side of the house.

Clean up the annual flower beds.

Carry the cedar pieces to the wood storage area.

Arrange the pavers for a sitting area under the eves of the house, where there is shade most of the time and nothing will grow!

Prune the roses and harvest the hips for jelly.

Make and freeze some italian style meat balls, for quick meals later.

Yeah I probably won't get this all done while He is away. But it is a good list for the month of September, don't you think?

Hope you day is great!

M

Friday, September 5, 2008

TGIF, again with ramblings

Why is it you are more tired with an extra day off? For Pete's sake! Is it a sign of being lazy? or age? Say it ain't so!!!!!!

I have such a list of what needs to be done, I cannot seem to find a beginning spot. So this week I have indulged my lazy side and just worked the paying job and completed what had to be done at home each evening. But I must shake this off, there is stuff to be done in the yard, and else where.

I did get the rhubarb replanted to a better location in the garden. I should have a larger yield next year. I have decided upon and planned a sitting area in the shady area of the garden, using recycled pavers and such. A place to relax and contemplate. I have also decided here to replant the blueberries, so they too will get more sun and I can add a couple more bushes. The raspberries need to be staked. And the lilac tree must be cut down. It is old, but more importantly it is in the way. The hazards of taking over an existing yard when you move. In addition the move here with the housing frenzy was late in the season and the plants I brought with me, were planted in spots thought to work, but they just don't. Live and learn.

On another note, here is the tale of water and the decision to water or not. The conversation went something like this:

Honey, that back yard looks awful, the lawn is dry and brown.

Me, I don't water a lawn, I just let it go dormant in the summer time.

Honey, well I like a green lawn. So I am going to keep it green.

Me, well the water bill will be very high. Water is expensive here and I only water the beds.

Honey, (again) well I like a green lawn.

Me, OK if that is what you want. (meaning be prepared for a large bill)

NOW THE BILL ARRIVES 2 MONTHS LATER!!!!!

Honey, my gosh that was a big water bill. $107.00.

Me, yeah that is high, but remember that is a two month cycle billing.

Honey, I am done watering the lawn, it can just die out next year.

Me, OK (no snarky comments or I told you so's, I have learned a few things with age!)

And last but not the least of importance,

My Honey had a birthday yesterday. Happy B'day to you dear one! He is an avid model railroader and has found a club to join. Last night he took me to meet some of the "guys" and see the layout. He now has a place to go and play trains!

I will get over the lazy/age thing and get back with another recipe, soon!

Until then have a great day!!

M