Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Menus

Maple-brown sugar oatmeal ≈≈ Grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetables in cheese custard, apple-blueberry pie (hubby made that!)
Muesli ≈≈ Linguine parma rosa, salad
Cracked wheat, apple cider, fried eggs ≈≈ Chicken veggie stir-fry
Rice with cinnamon and sugar ≈≈ Pumpkin-thyme mac n' cheese
Muffins galore*, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Pumpkin chili
Pancakes ≈≈ Tuscan bean and tuna salad
Cereal ≈≈ Baked potato bar

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Menus

Oatmeal ≈≈ Corn chowder
Pink cantaloupe smoothie, Cream of Wheat ≈≈ West African peanut soup
Cornbread, fried eggs, canned peaches ≈≈ Fish fry, rice pilaf, carrots
Either cottage cheese croissants, or storebought Pepperidge Farm pumpkin swirl bread ≈≈
Hawaiian haystacks and a double-digit birthday cake! (Happy Birthday to my Lucy...)
Leftover cake ≈≈ 16-bean soup, biscuits, salad
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Spaghetti, frozen veggies
Cereal ≈≈ Minestrone soup

Monday, October 6, 2014

Honeyversary Post -- Ten Days and Eleven Pictures

We've returned from our epic, incredible, long-planned trip alone. We crammed in so so much, but I managed to distill it down into a short post on our family blog. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cookbook Update

I just realized -- partly thanks to a comment from an astute reader -- that my blog sidebar wasn't automatically including my new cookbook pages. Maybe a number of you were wondering how to find all the recipes listed in the tantalizingly empty table of contents...

Well, now it's fixed, and nearly complete, only lacking my (extensive) repertoire of soups.

I originally had them all in one page, but it was getting too unwieldy to actually navigate to a specific recipe, so I made it a table of contents with separate pages for each category. That's the format you'll see now that it's updated, and in the future I'll add actual links to the table of contents.

But first, I have a long-overdue trip with my husband, so this blog will be silent until the first week of October.

Happy cooking!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tirasalata

Tzatziki (front) and tirasalata, with carrots, cucumber, and blanched yellow squash

OK, another new favorite -- what my 20-year-old cookbook is calling Cretan Tirasalata, but what I call An Incredibly Simple Spread the Internet Doesn't Know About Yet.

Seriously simple, and not online anywhere. If you search for it, you get one of those 'did you mean?' messages referring you to a dip with caviar. Um, nope.

This is equal parts feta and cottage cheese, blended with olive oil and herbs until it's smooth.

No longer will my Costco-sized feta container end up with the last third of it turning moldy. My teenage son even dipped his chocolate granola bar in this stuff and proclaimed it delicious -- all right, I admit that's not the best selling point. But it's really nice to have a new member of the dip party, to go along with the ubiquitous ranch dressing and hummus. I love hummus, yes I do, but this is a niiiice change and healthy as heck, right?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Menus

Apricot-date-walnut oatmeal, orange-banana smoothie ≈≈ Carrot soup, bread
Blueberry muesli ≈≈ Ramen with veggies and egg

Cornmeal mush, deluxe scrambled eggs ≈≈ Split pea soup, biscuits
Rice pudding ≈≈ Chilaquiles, zucchini
Cranberry-banana muffins ≈≈ Pizza, spinach
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Niçoise salad
Cereal ≈≈ Chicken-rice bake, garden salad

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Menus

Rice, smoothie ≈≈ Grub mountain (peas and gravy piled on mashed potatoes, S.'s childhood nickname for it)
Apple-cinnamon oatmeal ≈≈ Chicken-veggie stir-fry
Cream of Wheat, fried eggs ≈≈ Burritos, corn
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Salmon burgers, carrots, garden salad
Blackberry muffins ≈≈ Pasta parma rosa, green beans
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Chef's salad
Cereal ≈≈ Split pea soup, biscuits

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tortillas A-plenty

We've started going through corn tortillas like there's no tomorrow, it's our new thing here.

They're often our go-to for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. Easy enough to grab off the shelf and eat almost plain (one of my kids does), but with a rich corn-ness and a million ways to dress them up, we are really loving us some tortillas!


Huevos rancheros or a quick scrambled egg taco to start the day; quesadillas at any hour, at home or packed in a lunch; layered as chilaquiles for dinner, sliced into strips and crisped up to throw on top of black bean soups or Mexican-themed salads, or simply turned into tacos or tostadas.


My husband pointed out, slightly worriedly, that Americans already eat more corn than just about anyone else, in the sense that the mainstays of our national diet are based on corn products such as oils and syrups, additives derived from corn, and meats from animals fed largely on corn.

I reassured him (as he flipped his tortilla in its pan to check that it was blistering up nicely) that those facts simply reflect the top-down nature of our food processing industries and agricultural policies, not that corn tortillas are unhealthy in and of themselves. (Plus, to balance it out, we don't eat much meat or processed food anyway...)

Which is good, because now that I think about it, we go through a pretty huge amount of popping corn as well...



Michael Pollan excerpt on corn

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Menus

Omelettes, cantaloupe ≈≈ Scalloped potatoes, broccoli
Strawberries-and-cream oatmeal ≈≈ Ham, mushroom and cheese crêpes
Cream of Wheat, smoothie ≈≈ Zucchini fritters, baked sweet potatoes
Banana bread ≈≈ Dhal Makhani
Rice pudding ≈≈ Spaghetti, 'Winter' salad
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Chopped or Iron Chef  home competition with another couple or two
Cereal, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Russian apricot-cranberry chicken, rice, green beans with beurre sauce, side salad*

And, just because today was that day around here, a cakewreck for the occasion.
*We're having dinner guests that day, different from the couple the night before -- hopefully I'm not all cooked out! Luckily, the chicken is dump-in-a-crock-pot and my rice cooker has a delay timer...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Slowly Improving

Sidebar pages: my reading list is now thumbnails! Working on making them all clickable, as well, though that's only partway finished.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Menus

Cornbread, fresh pineapple ≈≈ Pan-fried flounder, mashed potatoes, crispy deep-fried kale shreds
Banana bread, smoothie ≈≈ Cuban black beans
Oatmeal with berries and nuts ≈≈ Zucchini mini-quiches
Rice with cinnamon and sugar ≈≈ BLTs, carrots
French toast, applesauce ≈≈ Pizza, green beans
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈ Chef's salad, popcorn
Cereal ≈≈ Hot dogs, burgers, corn, watermelon

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Flourishing: Provident Blessings

Just this past few weeks, a large family we know has been packing up and readying themselves for an overseas move. They called us one afternoon to see if we would be interested in their food storage items. We pretty much never turn an offer like that down! They were giving the more day-to-day items to other neighbors, but those of us who actually go through whole wheat and dry beans regularly are much rarer birds. I know of another family or two they could have offered the items to and been confident that they would get used, but our friends were hoping to get the stuff out of their basement that very day and I'm guessing they knew we tend to be quick and efficient in responding.

A few hours later, all of us were carting precarious stacks of #10 cans down to the basement -- none of them had been in boxes, they probably wanted them all for the move -- while I was trying to figure out where to put them and make room for the next incoming load. It was a fairly sticky day, and we were all sweating quickly.

There was much more than I had expected, definitely a few hundred dollars' worth of food. Rice, flour, whole wheat, beans, powdered milk, mashed potatoes, macaroni, dried apples, even 3 cans of butter powder. The oddest item was a whole bunch of little cans of processed cheese, labeled something like Australia's Best Cheese in English but with most of the rest in Arabic, a few years past the best-by date. (Those were utterly unappealing even to me and got tossed, though it seemed like there must be some kind of curious story behind them...)

At some point in the ensuing days, as I gradually rallied myself and inventoried my new stock of storage, I realized how much we've been blessed by following some of those more difficult admonitions of prophets and wise leaders. We've saved up food, we've learned to use more traditional methods of preparing meals and ingredients, we've reduced our reliance on pre-packaged items; I really think it has improved our health, moods, skills, and bank accounts all at once, not to mention how it might benefit us in a true emergency.
So as I reflected on how lucky we were to be the recipients of this extra bounty, especially when we're trying harder than ever to live close to our means with S.'s job change last year, I realized that we weren't 'lucky' -- we were prepared for blessings when they came. We had been diligent, we had sacrificed from time to time to try to follow what we felt was important counsel, and both the Lord and our peers knew that we had room for what they could offer.





Or, mostly had room: as were were trying to pile up the last cans in our storage room that afternoon, I joked to my son that this must be what the scriptures mean when they promise to pour out so much from heaven that there is 'not room enough to receive it'. And truly, I think that is the meaning -- the windows of heaven don't generally open to provide convenience and easy prosperity, but they do open to meet our needs abundantly when we continue to be faithful stewards. For which I am thoroughly grateful.

Reluctant Menus

I'm feeling the drag of menu planning/food preparation/washing dishes lately. It comes and goes, but I reaallly didn't want to think about it at all this weekend. I made some awesome, scrumptious cupcakes (not my usual habit) hoping the rest of the problem would go away, but it didn't. So about an hour before dinnertime yesterday I dug deep in my soul and finally put a plan together, because I know it really matters for our stress level and budget that I make menus.

Here they are:

Leftover cupcakes/toast/scrounge* ≈≈ Chicken cacciatore
Oatmeal ≈≈ Carrot soup
Muesli ≈≈ Tuna melts, corn
Lemon poppy seed muffins ≈≈ Rice pilaf, kale
Hash browns, eggs ≈≈ Chili mac
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Asian chicken salad, popcorn
Cereal ≈≈ Pottage

*This was a pretty sad morning -- we had no milk, eggs, fruit, or pretty much anything fresh. I had to do quite a big shop later that day to restock!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Menus

Zucchini bread, chocolate cream pie* ≈≈ Thai peanut noodles
Cornmeal mush, smoothie ≈≈ Greek minestrone
Berries-and-cream oatmeal ≈≈ Niçoise salad
Pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs ≈≈ Red beans with sausage, rice
Butterscotch oatmeal ≈≈ Pizza, frozen veggies
Apricot-date muffins ≈≈ Mexi-quinoa
Cereal ≈≈ Goulash

*The boys made it yesterday. Who am I to quash their plans for sharing it, even if it is breakfast?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Berries and Mint

Maine's wild blueberries in July -- not just a hype to get tourism, as I had secretly feared. Hike up a mountain in Acadia National Park and get a free feast along the way. You can't really see the abundance, but there were enough blueberries here for our entire family to eat for hours on end.



Blackberry slips that we got from friends two years ago, now giving us our first, and abundant, harvest. I hardly have to do anything but pick them, it feels miraculous.



A chocolate mint plant trying to take over one of my garden beds and the adjoining lawn -- chopped it down today to make tea for next winter. It will still grow back for a second harvesting this year, and live on to dominate my planting bed in 2015.


A generous friend has been walking over to bring me handsome piles of zucchini, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes in this my fallow garden year. I will pick her some blackberries to take home next time. Life is good, and I didn't even have to weed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Maine Menus

Camping in Maine this week -- a place none of us have ever been, so we're very excited. Here's the plan for our food:

Monday (mostly driving):
Banana bread
Bagels, cream cheese, apples, buy chocolate milk along the way
Hot dogs, baked beans, s'mores

Tuesday:
Butterscotch oatmeal, canned mandarin oranges
Buy lobster rolls for lunch, maybe blueberry pie
Hobo dinners, baked apples

Wednesday:
Pancakes, applesauce, syrup
Turkey and cheddar sandwiches, apples
Omelettes, instant rice, canned green beans

Thursday:
Dutch oven 'almost pumpkin pie'
Pbj sandwiches, fresh fruit of some kind, string cheese
Tuna sandwiches, salad, yogurt

Friday:
Instant oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs
Ham sandwiches, dried mangoes
Chilaquile casserole, zucchini

Saturday (on the road again):
Cereal, milk, canned pineapple
Hummus, bread, baby carrots, beef jerky
Spaghetti at home

I'll have to find a grocery store to buy fresh bread, milk, fruit, and veggies nearer the end of the week, along with hummus and ham, but the rest I'm preparing and packing in advance.

Cannot wait!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Menus

Leftover birthday cake ≈≈ Thai peanut noodles, blueberry crisp
Cranberry-banana muffins ≈≈ Pottage
Huevos rancheros ≈≈ Curried potatoes, zucchini with mushrooms
Strawberry muesli ≈≈ Black-eyed peas, biscuits
Raisin-date-walnut oatmeal ≈≈ Polenta pizza, green beans
Pancakes, applesauce ≈≈ Chef's salad, popcorn with movie night
Cereal, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Chicken country captain

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Menus

Oatmeal scones, with raisins, craisins, and cinnamon chips ≈≈ Carrot soup, sourdough baguettes
Blueberry oatmeal ≈≈ Broccoli-rice casserole
Cornbread, smoothie ≈≈ Pizza, frozen vegetables
Cranberry-walnut muesli ≈≈ Black bean burritos, corn
Rice with cinnamon and sugar, scrambled eggs ≈≈ Fish sticks, carrots, herbed noodles
Pancakes and waffles with applesauce ≈≈ Curried rice pilaf
Cereal ≈≈ Tomato soup with toasted croutons, Asian chicken salad, birthday cake and ice cream

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Menus and the Kitchen Sink

'Kitchen sink' salad


I got all excited about our green salad last night -- I was just quickly dressing up leftover ingredients that I needed to clear out of my fridge, but it was one of the yummiest combinations we've had. I won't specify which items were the nearly-castoffs, because that would make you second-guess its deliciousness; but fried green tomatoes, chicken, green beans, eggs, carrots, olives, palm hearts, fresh corn, deli turkey breast, and homemade croutons work crazy well with Asian dressing, as it turns out.


Homemade Snickers (delicious) fail

And, I spent a couple of days recently working on the different layers of what were supposed to be 'snickers' bars, but without a reliable candy thermometer (I'm on my third different kind, and its calibration didn't last any longer than the others') it was, well, a little hit or miss. The caramel was too soft and the nougat too hard, yet oddly enough when I put inch-square chunks of them on a rack to drizzle chocolate over, they completely oozed through the rack before the chocolate was dry, nougat and all. So we rolled them into weird balls, and they taste incredible anyway. We're trying to make them last, but it's been difficult -- though seeing the vast quantities of cream, sugar, butter, nuts, and corn syrup that went into them helps a little bit.


So, here are the week's menu plans:

Leftovers ≈≈ 'Kitchen sink' salad
Pancake-in-the-oven, fresh blueberries ≈≈ Baked potato bar
Strawberry oatmeal ≈≈ Lasagna
Corn muffins, eggs ≈≈ Tuna sandwiches with pineapple bits
Raisin-date-walnut oatmeal ≈≈ Baked beans, hot dogs, chips and salsa, guacamole, Waldorf salad, root beer, ice cream
Cereal ≈≈ Stir fry
Fast Sunday ≈≈ Cuban black beans

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recipes Added

Meat dishes (I know, shocker!) are now included in my Little Red Hen's cookbook sidebar.