Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I cooked some quinoa to have under broccoli beef stir fry. It is good. I was surprised at how much like rice it is. The texture is a little different. The taste is a little different, but I really enjoyed it. Sadly, it's not any lower in calories than rice. Variety is always good.
Friday, January 18, 2013
We recently had new doors and windows installed. Apparently, during the installation process, a lone little mouse took refuge from the cold in our kitchen! Yuck! While my husband and I were basking in the afterglow of a homeowners job well done, our cats began to act weird. Our oldest cat became obsessed with getting into the lower cupboards where my plasticware is stored. Our youngest would suddenly dive under the dishwasher door when it was open and lay their flat the entire time I was loading it. I didn't think much of it until the first night I was back from attending a funeral out of state.
Both cats were sitting up like prairie dogs and staring at the top of the stove and cabinets near the stove. Their eyes were absolutely glued there. Former farm kids that we are, I said, "You know, the cats are acting like there's a mouse in the kitchen." I moved the basket of oven mitts away from the back wall. Sure enough, there they were. Mouse droppings. "Oh, we have a mouse!" We have never had a mouse in the house. Garage, once in awhile, but never in the house. We talked about how a mouse could have gotten in. Then we realized it most likely got in while the new doors and windows were being installed.
The next night when I opened the dishwasher to load it, there he was! Old farm girl or not, I yelped and hollered, "Rube! Rube!" (youngest cat) Rube didn't come to my rescue because my tone scared him to death, and the mouse scampered under the dishwasher.
We rinse our dishes thoroughly before putting them in the dishwasher. I decided the mouse was in the dishwasher to get water, not food. I started keeping the dishwasher door shut tight all the time, and I placed a small bowl of water in the middle of the kitchen floor to try and draw him out. Next, I took the cats' collars off of them. We never let them outside, and I figured their tags jingling would make it impossible for them to sneak up on our unwanted guest.
Last night our oldest cat tucked us in as usual. Big purr and love fest. As both cats have been doing the last couple of weeks, as we were drifting off to sleep, they got out of bed....tonight without their collars on.
At 2:30 A.M. I was awakened by fierce growling and hissing and spitting, and scuffling. I quietly got up, put my slippers on, and turned on the kitchen light. Rube was tossing the mouse around, playing with it. Py was the one growling. I couldn't tell if the mouse was dead or not. I woke up DH.
The mouse was not moving. Py took the mouse play over, still growling and hissing. It was a little unnerving. I have never heard him so fierce, and he would not let me have the mouse. After seeing all the puncture wounds, we determined it was dead. We went back to bed.
They ate the mouse. We woke up this morning to no mouse and a pile of puke in the family room. DH cleaned it up.
Both cats are sacked out in the sunshine now. Py is dreaming about chasing something. His paws and mouth are twitching in his sleep. Reliving last night's hunt? Probably. It was the most excitement we have had around here in awhile.
I hope we don't have anymore.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Well, we didn't get to go to the large church service I wanted to go to over ther weekend. We had to get my cousin and sister safely back to their homes before the ice storm moved in. I hung out at my sister's an extra day until the roads were clear before I headed home. Instead of singing with 1,000, I sang with about 25 of my cousins in the congregation that still meets where I was raised.
Bible class: Matthew 21:21, where Jesus says, "....Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will be done."
I have always thought it was an odd thing for Jesus to say. Who would want to uproot a mountain? I have always used the statement as a reminder of how small my faith is. We were talking about all these things. My cousin, Rex, spoke up, "My sin. It's as big as a mountain. The Lord promises here it will be uprooted and thrown into the sea."
Wow! That was an "Aha!" moment for me. The struggle with my appetite and my complete failure as a manager of my household will be overcome.
I'm still thinking about that statement.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
My cousin's husband, Curt, died. He had a rare form of cancer that was particularly aggressive. He was diagnosed 4 months ago, and the doctors thought it was manageable, though not curable. They were wrong. I hoped until his last weekend that the doctors were wrong. I have done a fair amount of crying the last two weeks.
Curt led singing at our wedding. Brenda (my cousin), was my maid of honor.
This is a branch of the family I especially respect. They are so level headed. They seem to have their priorities straight, and they always have. They don't struggle with the obesity problems that plague the rest of the family. I know they have the same appetite the rest of us have, but they have dealt with it.
Brenda and her mom manage their households well. That's another especially weak area for me. They amaze me. Their priorities are straight, and they clearly and consistently focus on them. This is a skill I am only beginning to learn. God, husband, family, home, work. They are connected to the Lord and each other, instead of food, media, and material possessions.
I drove to my sister's house in Illinois last Wednesday, 9 hours from here. I visited my brother for a few hours on Thursday. Then, Friday morning, another cousin, Cheryl, met me and my sister and we drove to Tennessee together. What a reunion. Cheryl is 3 years older than I am, and she was the first in our family to attend college. The only reason Dad let me go to college was that Cheryl was there. She could look after me. And she did. We both became music teachers. We are both retired now. We talked for hours.
We arrived at my cousin's house about 2. Some of our family was already there, some of Curt's family, some of Curt's friends from Colorado, and some people from the church Brenda and Curt attend. On Thursday they had planted a tree by the pond on Brenda and Curt's property. Friday morning they gathered around the tree and sang, prayed, shared stories, and laughed and cried, and they scattered Curt's ashes around the base of the tree.
By the time we got there they were fixing Curt's favorite meal. They had spread paper over some tables in the barn, and they had boiled a huge stock pot of shrimp, smoked sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes, with some Cajun (I think) seasoning. When the food was done, they drained the water and dumped everything out on the table. Tongs and some additional seasoning were available, also some loves of French bread. No silverware. I watched as Brenda expertly ate the boiled potatoes with no fork. I tried to duplicate her. I got them down, but not as neatly as she did.
Saturday morning was the Celebration of Life service at the church building. There was a big dinner after the service. We had planned to attend the service and dinner on Saturday and stay for church on Sunday morning, but that was not to be. The weather apps on my sister and cousin's phones started going off Friday night. A blizzard warning had been issued for Illinois. We cancelled our Saturday night stay at the hotel and headed back to Illinois when the Celebration of Life service was over. A planned short visit was cut even shorter.
I am glad we left early. The blizzard did not develop, but we had a decent ice storm. We were all back home before it started. Living in the heart of the drought area, I had forgotten what heavy rain was like. It was good to hear it coming down on my sister's roof. We had to take shelter in Evansville, IL. The tornado sirens were going off. In January! Go figure.
I didn't get the time with Brenda I would have liked to have had. I'm thinking about going back later this spring for some 1 on 1 time.
So, I worshipped at the little congregation I was raised in with another branch of the family I have a lot of respect for. The church cemetery is where my mom and dad are buried, my Aunt Lois (who was a huge influence on me), both of my grandmothers and Grandpa, and Cheryl's mom (also a positive influence). This is the cemetery my husband and I will be buried in when we die. Yes, I thought about that this weekend.
I came home to a sink full of dirty dishes and no laundry done with my husband wanting to know if I had washed a load of permanent press when he got home late from work. He didn't know what he was going to work today. I had. He didn't go naked. 3 weeks ago I would have complained about the dishes in the sink. All I could think about was that Brenda would probably give anything to wash a sink full of Curt's dirty dishes.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Here is a list of the books I have used over the years to learn about once a month cooking.
1. Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg This book provides good, general instructions about the process, and we like the recipes better in this book than any of the other books we have. They recommend you start with a two week cycle. They even have a 10 day cycle for the holidays.
2. Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough We have found this book has good, basic recipes, but they're just a little too bland for us. We have notes all over the place of stuff we added.
3. Month of Meals by Kelly Machel It's in a three ring binder, so that you can add your own recipes. We have used this book the least of all our manuals.
4. Freezer Cooking Manual by Tara Wolenhaus and Nanci Slagle This book is unique because each recipe is broken down into how many meals it will make for a family of 5. Once again we found the recipes rather bland and have made notes about adding ingredients. The best feature of this book is the reproducible planning sheets. I use them all the time. The grocery spreadsheet is awesome. You put each recipe and all the ingredients on the sheet. After you have entered all the ingredients you need for each recipe, total the columns. Then you go to your pantry and take inventory. Subtract all the items you have on hand from the total of each column, and that's your grocery list. It also has a freezer inventory of meals to keep on your freezer door. You mark off what you have taken out of the freezer to use. It keeps you from losing food in the back of the freezer.
All of my books are rather old (1990's). We've been doing this for awhile. You might want to check for updated versions.
Another book I use quite a bit is The Meatless Gourmet by Bobbie Hinman. It is not a once a month cookbook. It's a cookbook of vegetarian recipes from around the world. Many of them freeze well. We try to eat meatless at night, or at least light on meat. We think we sleep better.
Tips: Potatoes don't freeze well. Add them to soups and stews when you are reheating. Meat loaf freezes well raw or cooked. I do think if you cook it before you freeze it, it dries it out. We have started freezing ours raw. Defrost, bake, and glaze.
Once a month cooking is a lot of work, but it creates a lot of peace of mind. It's also nice to have meals ready to go for unexpected events - sick neighbor or friend. You don't have to drop everything you're doing and cook. You're even ready for potluck dinners. It also cuts down on the amount of routine dish washing and kitchen clean up you have to do.
We have gotten to the point that we use very few of the recipes in the once a month cooking manuals. It took awhile, but we have found recipes we like, some of them family recipes, that freeze well and are nutritious. We're always trying to upgrade. I try to make one new to me recipe each time I cook. It's a trial and error process. We only make main dishes. Some people make side dishes and desserts and freeze ahead. I cook those fresh. Just keeping up with the main dishes takes all the energy I want to expend.
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