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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Own Personal Crazy Train

I have decided I need some comic relief when dealing with Mom so I have decided I will start another list.  This is more of a therapeutic way for me to deal with some of the things I get calls about each and every day.

I love Mom dearly and am thrilled she is able to still live at her house. She can do this because I literally can be at her front door from my house in 2 and a half minutes.  I have told the neighbors if they see me getting into my car wearing  pajama pants, 2 different shoes, a jacket, with my hair sticking straight up or soaking wet wrapped in a towel, it means there is an emergency at Mom's and I am headed down there ASAP.  I really didn't want them to think I was headed to The Pig looking like some street person.  (Well, actually looking like some street person who drives an old soccer mom van.)

Mom's method of summoning me  in an "emergency" is to call, say "Anne. I need you right now" then hang up the phone. (What!?!)  I have an immediate adrenaline dump, grab my keys and fly out the door.  What I really want to do is reach through the phone, grab her shoulders and say "Use your big girl words to tell me what the emergency is so I will know if I have time to put on clothes (tree branch emergency) or come in only a terry cloth robe (asthma emergency) because the crisis can be anything. Instead I run out the door calling My Beloved Sister so she will stay on the line with me in case I get to  Mom's house and find her in a heap on the kitchen floor (which has happened), or she will hear my silent scream when I get to her house and realize there is a spittle bug on the window and it scared Mom. (which has also happened)

When I return if they are outside they always ask if everything is ok, then look at me blankly when I tell them  "No, there was a branch in her driveway".  Now understand that this driveway was built when they built their house 50 years ago to accommodate 6 cars outside of the 2 car garage. (The folks entertained on a regular basis and wanted off street parking for guests). The branch was never in the way and would have been fine until later in the day (after I had showered and was wearing clothes) when either My Beloved Sister or I stopped by for our daily check-in.

Now to finally get to the point of this rambling post, I am going to start my collection of Mom's daily events or ramblings, since she not only has a daily crisis, but she also has opinions about everything which she not only shares but wants me to agree with.  For example, I will be driving her somewhere and she will see something she doesn't care for. There is some bizarre reason she does not like to see older men driving red convertibles while wearing billed felt caps and she mentions it every single time we see one.
Mom: "They just think they are all that!" "Don't you think so too, Anne?"
Me: "No, ma'am,  I never really gave it much thought. As long as they stay in their lane I'm ok with whatever they wear."
Mom: "Well, they just think they are something else and they are nothing but an old fool who wants to be young"
Me: "ok"
Mom: "What do you think when you see one"
Me: "I think they are going somewhere"
Mom: "Smart Ass!"

From now on (or as long as I am getting some weird benefit from it) I am going to post Crazy Train Tuesday.  Enjoy or skip it entirely, totally your choice. Whether any of you ride along with me or not this is much cheaper than a therapist and will make me either laugh or cry as I write it.  Whatever happens will be better than my spontaneous implosion or explosion which could be triggered by whatever the next phone call is.

As a teaser this is her crisis this morning.
The oak tree in her front yard shed too many acorns last fall so she needs it cut down__this week!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Positively Monday

As I have said on previous Mondays, in order to keep my mind set in a good place, I end each day thinking about the best thing or things that happened that day. For me it is so much better to dwell on life's positives instead of wallowing in aggravation, despair, angst, self pity (name your poison here) , yadda, yadda, yadda. This does not mean every day is perfect.  In fact, most of my days are far from perfect, but I am choosing to revel in those moments that create a sense of calm, excitement, or wonder.

Monday: Got to spend the entire day at home alone.  Occasionally I love a day like this to recharge my batteries, and get things organized without interrupted time.

Tuesday: The mornings are glorious now, the pollen is all but gone, and I was able to have a couple of cups of coffee on the deck just listening to the birds.

Wednesday: TheHub had a dinner meeting so I grabbed a chicken meal from Bojangles, ate in front of the TV and caught up on several shows I had DVR'd.  I love being able to watch an hour long show by zipping through and taking only about 15 minutes to follow the plot line. (And yes, I understand I am missing some of the intricacies of the story but I am not deeply enough invested to care abut anything but the major story line. I will never do to a show I really like. Can you say "Game of Thrones")

Thursday:  Morning coffee on the deck with birds singing  was really nice but the best thing about the day was Son2.  He has been working at Mom's house in my dad's old workshop making these really cool vases for the participants at Independence Place to give their Moms on Mother's Day. He and his gal pal hung around a little after and ate dinner with Mom which met her social needs, plus she eats much better when someone else is there.  And can you guess what happens when she eats food? She actually feels better and has more energy. Imagine that! So special thanks to you two. You made my night so much easier.

Friday: Got the car cleaned out, loaded Mom's lawnmower in the car (It is in her way since she has never cut the lawn in her life and started using a lawn service after Dad's death. But everything is in her way now and everything must be taken care of. Right.  This.  Minute. After taking care of the intrusive lawnmower, we headed to the lake place. We got there is enough time to wash the pollen off the porch so we could sit out there and enjoy the sunset. Nirvana!

Saturday: A/c at the lake place is on the fritz.  Bummer and it was kind of hot, but we have a big screened porch plus one of those magnetic screens on the house door to the porch so we were able to leave the bugs outside, the door open  and the fans on so the air at least moved. Late at night the storms came and the temps dropped quite a bit, enough that we actually had to sleep with a sheet and light cotton blanket covering us.  Sleep perfection, breezy stormy night with occasional owl hoots.

Sunday: Home again, home again, jiggety jig. We had plans to be at church Sunday evening to pack food for a world hunger mission. In 2 hours about 150 volunteers packed, sealed and boxed 50,000 meals. The church will be doing this for a couple of more days so I will probably volunteer at least once more because I truly do believe it is a blessing to be a blessing.



And apparently when I called Mom and she didn't answer when we got home from the lake, dressed and went on our little service mission then went out to eat I caused her severe angst which impacted My Beloved Sister.  It seems that by 3 pm Mom had decided I was in a wreck and dead on one of the little country roads between here and the lake. Don't ask me why.  By 7 pm she wanted my sister to drive her to the closest emergency room we would pass driving home from the lake.  My beloved sister had tried to call our cells which we had turned off during the meal packing (per request) and neither TheHub or I had turned our ringers back on  when we were at the restaurant. By shortly after nine when I finally called her she was in near hysterics and it was all my fault.  I would feel guilty but her crisis level was exactly the same when her refrigerator alarm beeped last week indicating her water filter needed to be changed, or when she got a piece of junk mail fishing for her to renew her car warranty.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sleep Blogging

I am looking for an answer to a purely hypothetical question. If you are trying to read your blog on your Ipad while in bed (nearly asleep) and delete a post accidentally while half awake is there a way to retrieve it or is it gone for the ages it?  Not that it happened to me or anything but I am somewhat curious.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Positively Monday on Tuesday

It seems Monday came and is now a memory.  I promise this was positively ready to post Sunday night, but due to user error and a mountain of Monday chores someone forgot to hit publish.

Monday:  Slept like a log until about 8:30.  My bed is great and I can have all the pillows I want. The Empire has not gotten on the hotel dream bed bandwagon and I had 3 very unhappy nights trying to sleep there.

Tuesday: Spent most of the day with Mom at a couple of doctors and then getting her prescriptions filled and checking things in her house because I had abandoned her for 4 days. Good new is she is doing OK physically.

Wednesday:  Caught up on two of my DVRed addictions! (I did forget it was Wednesday though until mid day so I missed my Wednesday class)

Thursday: We missed using our tickets to see Phantom of the Opera while we were in New York.  We were able to trade them in for seats to Thursday's performance.  It is not my favorite play but it was still visually stunning.

Friday:  Beautiful day and weather was perfect for grilling a steak while sitting on the deck with TheHub and an adult beverage.

Saturday: We were supposed to go to the lake but TheHub was not feeling well.  Instead I got a lot done on some projects for The Independence Place Spring Sale.

Sunday:  Easter celebrations with the family.  It was a really nice day with a spectacular dessert!

And the new addition to today's post is this ditty I found on Youtube: Hooray for Tuesday. I have never heard it before and it is an odd oldie, but it is about Tuesday so possibly enjoy it.  (It does have a rather long intro )











Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lazy Chantilly Cake or A Comedy of Errors: You decide!

Last week when we were trying to fly to New York the weather was not exactly cooperating and our flight that was cancelled but rescheduled the next morning kept getting delayed and delayed then delayed again.  When that happens it seems a lot of the fellow passengers begin talking among themselves and TheHub and I found ourselves talking to 2 delightful gentlemen. One was a former NY Times reporter who lived in Shanghai before relocating to Los Angeles.  He was visiting friends in Birmingham, before returning to NYC to visit his publisher. (Though I did not ask I am assuming he had a book deal in the works). The other gentleman was a former Brooklyn resident who had moved to Birmingham after his retirement to be close to his grandchildren.

Somehow during the conversation the topic turned to foods, restaurants, and bakeries.  I know there are a lot of really good restaurants in town, but I am always amazed when people who have lived in places with phenomenal eating establishments talk about how good the food here is. Not only do they love the food here but both were thrilled to find places that are very easy to access. I guess, because we live in a driving city with parking lots throughout, accessibility never really enters into my mind, but both men talked about how simple it is to get into every restaurant in town by car.  I suppose it is true because even those places with little on site parking all have valet parking services so you can get out of your car right at the front door of any restaurant in town. Additionally nearly every place in town has street level seating, so there are no stairs up or down. I imagine you never really think about the things your hometown has to offer, focusing instead on what is not there. (Bad, bad of me)

At one point the discussion started focusing on desserts and bakeries, and the one man who had moved here talked about chantilly cake.  It is evidently his all time favorite cake and he told us every place in town that makes it.  TheHub has not stopped talking about it since, and we did see one at Publix the other day, but I thought 27 bucks was a little too much to pay for a cake we were unsure if we would even like..  Instead I looked up a couple of recipes and decided to use a combination of two to come up with our personal variation of one

I notice both recipes called for a traditional yellow cake.  I knew I had a yellow cake mix in the pantry so I decided to whip it up and save a huge amount of time.  When I pulled out the yellow cake I realized it was a pineapple cake mix.  At first I was bummed out but underneath the pineapple cake was a strawberry cake mix.  Since the cake is filled with berries I decided the strawberry cake would be just fine, so I made it.  Then, as I was getting ready to pour it into my cake pans, I remembered I had taken one of my round cake pans to the lake place and left it there.  My options were to run out and buy another round pan or punt and make a square cake. So, of course, the square cake option won.

Chantilly Cake

For the cake
1 baked 2 layer yellow cake* (or go wild and make strawberry)

For the syrup
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (Yeah right, I had none so I used lingonberry jam. Worked fine!)
2 tablespoons hot water

For the frosting
1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped
8 ounces marscarpone cheese, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 cups mixed berries
Additional berries for garnish

From here on out I will mostly tell you how I made mine and than you can adjust as you wish.

Bake a 2 layer cake (I am not supplying the recipe for a yellow cake but this one is delicious)  As I mentioned above I used a strawberry mix because the cake mix mix-up, and I figured I couldn't go wrong using a strawberry cake since mixed berries were n the filling anyway.  After I got my cake mixed and baked in the square pans I noticed they had not risen much while baking.  I guessed correctly that the cake mix was well past it expiration date and would have added additional baking powder if I had realized it was.  Oh well, now instead of two nice round yellow cake layers, I had two rather flat strawberry square layers. (At this point seeing I had flat cake  I normally might have decided to make a yellow cake from scratch, but it was 2 a.m. so NO!) There was no way I was going to be able to split the layers to make a four layer cake, as the original instructions called for.  Instead I cut them in half so I had 4 4 1/2 x9 inch layers. Then I decided rather than stack it 4 layers high I would have a 4 1/2 x 18 inch 2 layer cake. (I was afraid since I was only going to have a 4 1/2 x9 inch rectangular base, stacking 4 would probably create a cake avalanche which I did not want for Easter dinner).  Caution: Before you move on to the next step make sure the cakes are completely cool.

To make the frosting, whip the heavy cream and set aside.  With a mixer blend the marscarpone, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until it is smooth.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar until everything is creamy.  Then fold in the whipped cream. (Now begins the lightning round. You have to work fast because it gets really messy very quickly.  Learn from my error so you don't have to make one )

Put your first layer of cake on your serving plate.  Spread the thinned down jam all over the side facing up.  Spread berries over it (I used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting over the berries, then put the next layer of cake on top of it. (If you are using round pans and making 4 layers repeat the process 2 more times.  If you are making a crazy skinny long cake put the 2nd bottom layer as close to the first as you can get it, add the jam, berries and frosting then top with the last layer.  Now you either have a really tall 4 layer cake or a really long 2 layer one.
Working as fast as you can. spread the remaining frosting over the entire cake.  I suggest starting at the top then icing it quickly on the sides and ends. (If you made a round cake don't worry about the ends because a round cake is not going to have ends!) Put the whole cake in the refrigerator immediately.  If you don't the frosting will start running down the sides of the cake and you will have a big mess..

Leave it there until about 10 minutes before you plan to serve it.  Garnish with a few berries and serve.  This stuff is incredible and delicious and every other good thing.  We do have some left over (I am secretly thankful Mom made a cake and brought it even though I asked her not too.  Everyone had a slice of both cakes instead of 2 slices of the chantilly cake)  This is going to be great tomorrow, possibly for breakfast!

This might possibly become my go to cake.  Even though there is nothing remotely low fat about it, it still managed to taste "light" and fresh.  If you try it let me know what you think, or if you already make it tell me your thoughts on it and tell me why you never shared info on this deliciousness with the rest of us!


p.s. the platter I used is 5 x 20 inches and the cake was a perfect fit!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

T-Minus 100 and Counting

Time is a commodity we all take for granted.  I know I tend to do things from one week to the other without thinking too far in advance about daily things.  Sure I might have appointments or trips on the calendar  for a couple of months ahead, but I rarely think in depth about each and every day. I tend to just fumble through life between events so I am trying to look at my days as 24 hours I can live intentionally.  I have decided to track my life for 100 days just to see what will happen if I slow my thought process down and live in the present without tremendous thought to what's next.

I am setting up a system of personal accountability for each day, with constructive, creative, and down time in it. I want every day to be productive, but I also want it to have the opportunity to appreciate beauty, as well as to have some time for personal growth.  This is not something I am going to post about until the 100 days are over and then I will assess how I did with this approach. Will I learn to live in the now or will  I just fall totally off the cliff and into the abyss of living with my mind set between big events again?

No real clue what will happen, but I imagine there will be days I live with intention and others I just get through while waiting for the next big thing. It should be a revealing experiment about my persona either way.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Positively Monday

In order to change my somewhat jaded look at life I decided to jot down the best thing or things that happen each week.  I will admit some days just suck and finding something good is hard, but every single day has at least one good thing in it. This is a list of the past weeks good things,

Monday: Volunteered at Independence Place.  I find my joy spending time with their wonderful participants.

Tuesday:  Got Mom's business affairs in order so I can take a few days vacation.  Sorry to My Beloved Sister who has to take up the slack for me this week.

Wednesday:  TheHub bought some travel hangers (Yep he is one of those who never travels without dress shirts and a couple of sport coats) which were delivered to the wrong address.  Thanks to our neighborhood FB page I was able to find where they were delivered got them just in time to finish packing. We were supposed to fly out of town that evening but the weather cancelled our flight until...

Thursday: . . . We woke at 4, to be at the airport for a 6:15 rescheduled flight to NYC.  Got to the airport only to find it was delayed until 10:45. (yes we got the text from Delta right as we were checking our bags in) so we went back home for a few hours. The flight finally left at about 12:30 (Did I mention I was upgraded to first class?) and after circling to avoid storms at LGA we finally landed and were headed to Son3's concert right in the middle of the 5 o'clock traffic.  By 6 we were still not on the Manhattan side of the bridge, but we did manage to get to our hotel right before 7, checked in, changed clothes and were seated by 7:20 (10 minutes before it started)  The night truly got better and better, including a sidewalk chat and walk with Mr. Marsalis

Friday: In spite of the cold wet weather we still have a couple of really nice times.  We ate lunch at this funky Chinese-Peruvian fusion restaurant.  If you are in NYC and want something deliciously different try Flor De Mayo on Amsterdam and 83rd (I think it was 83rd). Later that night we went with Son3 and Girlfriend3 to hear  Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra for a Buddy Rich tribute plus a new composition by Ali Jackson, the drummer.  After we went out for some late night Italian (Good but no better than an other Italian place)

Saturday: Matinee time to see Miss Saigon.  It was a fantastic performance!  We have changed our approach to ticket buying and decide on 5 plays we would like to see, then just get there and see what show has good seats left. Saturday night we at a French place Bar Boulud.  The food is exceptional and not too pricy by Manhattan standards. (The downside is their very small cocktails)

Sunday:  Seriously delayed return flight home, but no flight issues and we had nothing pressing us so the time didn't really matter. Got home too late to cook (bonus) so we headed to Full Moon to pick up some BBQ take out.  You have to love a joint whose tagline is "Best Little Pork House in Alabama"


                                                Ali Jackson and a little high hat action

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

You Know You're From Alabama When . . .

                                                       (blue sky view from my front porch)

           . . . The State is closed on account of bad                                         weather!

Monday, April 3, 2017

My, My Cherry Pie___Not! Plus Positively Monday

During my recent use it up challenge I found many foods that had gotten pushed to the back of the freezer and forgotten, including about 5 pounds of pitted bing cherry halves. I really do love eating frozen cherries, but obviously never found them in the icy abyss and now I need to use as many as possible as quickly as possible. Eating my usual 1/2 cup serving would take forever to finish them, so I decided to get a little creative and use them a couple of other ways.

Last night we ate from the freezer using another pack of peas, squash and green tomato slices (yay us!) Since I was going to bake cornbread to use my ever growing kefir stash I figured I might as well bake something using some of the cherries and a little more of the kefir. I decided on a clafoutis because it tastes really good, it is  really easy, and would bake at the same time and temp as the cornbread and "fried" green tomatoes. A perfect trifecta!

A clafoutis is a baked dessert that is somewhere between a pudding, cobbler and a custard.  It has no added fat but it does have a fair amount of sugar, so it is neither the healthiest nor worst dessert in my repertoire. It is mainly just a simple really tasty end to the meal. (And the leftovers are not horrible cold for breakfast either!)
                                                         Easy Cherry Clafoutis


2 cups pitted sweet cherries (I used frozen because I had them in the freezer. Fresh would be better probably)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar (omit and add 1 extra tablespoon sugar if you don't have any)
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
2 pinches salt
1/2 cup kefir (Just because I have a lot in the fridge)
1/2 cup milk  (Use 1 cup and eliminate kefir if you don't have any)
2 teaspoons amaretto (use about 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract if you prefer)
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract

 Preheat the oven to 350°

Butter and flour (Yeah right, spray that sucker with Pam) an 8x8 pyrex baking dish.  (You  can easily use an oblong or rectangular dish just make sure it is no larger in volume than an 8x8ish dish)  Toss the cherries evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Mix the sugars with the eggs until it is a smooth mixture.  Add the flour and salt and whisk until the flour is all incorporated and the batter is smooth.  Add the milk, amaretto and vanilla and whisk through. Gently pour the batter over the cherries and pop it into the oven.  Bake about 35-40 minutes. I test it like a custard and stick a flat blade knife into the center of it.  If it comes out clean (It will be slightly damp but clear looking) I call it done.  It will still be a little wiggly in the pan but that is how it is supposed to look.  Let it cool a bit the serve.  It will deflate but that is what is is supposed to do. (It is not a souffle after all.)  Enjoy it anyway!




This is TheHub's preferred method of eating anything with cooked fruit.  It pretty much negates that whole no added fat thing I was talking about earlier. You really don't need to top it with ice cream, but I am not going to fight any battle not worth fighting, especially since he can buy ice cream now when he does his recreational shopping.  Oh well!



And as for this weeks positive events:

Monday: Major seasonal clothes change over done!
Tuesday: Book Club dinner out with the gals
Wednesday: Got the spring garden planned and got the spring/summer project list finished.
Thursday: Got Mom's taxes totally taken care of (I love finished!)
Friday: Out to eat with TheHub then a little recreational shopping at Publix (He was excited)
Saturday: Nice phone visit with my cousin, and a different but nice phone visit with Uncle Bob
Sunday: Lovely Sunday morning at church, then an accidental 2 hour nap!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It's A Wrap!

This is the final  post of my self imposed March food challenge. My freezer and pantry were
both tremendously overstocked and I needed to use up a big hunk of food inventory so I  pulled a rabbit out of my hat and decided we would use what I had on hand buying only necessities for the month.  In my mind that meant fruit, salad fixings, milk and bread.  TheHub had other ideas so I wound up having to accommodate his recreational shopping habit in my food budget. (Chips, Fat Boys. Chocolate Milk, etc,)  Consequently I am about 15 dollars over my anticipated 100 budget for the month, but the pantry and freezer stock is substantially reduced.  I still have a fairly decent amount left in the freezer, and the pantry is nowhere near as full as it was.   I decided I will continue a modified challenge throughout April and will have at least 2 meals per week that are made entirely from items I already have on hand. That will give me a minimum of 8 meals to make another dent in the freezer, and will keep the Publix shopper I live with happy.  I will keep a list of those food storage meals and will post it at the end of the month.

Meanwhile this is my list of the final three days of March.  It has been a fun challenge with few surprises (except for the St Paddys corned beef that I was positive I had frozen but i turned out to be a boneless ham instead). So now I move on to April and TheHub is ecstatic because he gets to watch the basketball finals and have exactly what he wants for dinner instead of what is in the freezer ___hot dogs, buns, chips,root beer and ice cream. (Ha! the joke is on him__the hot dogs are from the freezer!)

March 29
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
tea (pantry)
T.J.'s chicken burger (freezer)
tossed salad (fridge)
mandarin (fridge)
package of chili (freezer)
oyster crackers (pantry)
bread (pantry)
pork skins (bought)
salsa (fridge)
peanut butter (pantry)
fruit spread, that stuff that is kind of like jelly but not really (fridge)
cabbage (fridge)
carrot (fridge)
scallions (fridge)
oil (pantry)
vinegar (pantry)
salt, pepper, herbs, spices (pantry)
Chulula (fridge)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch:grilled chicken patty, tossed salad, mandarin, few pork skins with salsa (and yes I know they are gross but they were here and I wanted something crunchy)
dinner: chili with Chulula and oyster crackers, slaw, tea
late night snack: peanut butter and almost jelly sandwich

March 30
bought
milk 2.00 Cavender's Greek Seasoning 1.79
used
leftover Asian rice and veggies (fridge)
mandarin (fridge)
pork tenderloin (freezer)
olive oil (pantry)
Cavender's greek seasoning (bought. Drats! I ran out of it Wednesday night)
hashbrowns (freezer)
broccoli (freezer)
tossed salad mix (fridge)
popcorn (pantry)
butter flavored salt (pantry)
cooking spray (pantry)
herbs seasonings, salt and pepper (pantry)
red wine vinegar (pantry)
tea (pantry)
coffee (pantry)
eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch: leftover Asian rice stuff, salad, mandarin
dinner: pork tenderloin, hashbrowns, broccoli, tossed salad
snack: popcorn (two times yesterday), mandarin

March 31
bought
zero
Truthfully on the way home from eating out we bought some things for TheHub's ball game dinner tomorrow, but nothing was used today so it goes on Aprils food budget!  Yay! I can buy more than essentials, but will probably wait until next week to shop since we are leaving for NYC  Wednesday afternoon.

used
coffee (pantry)
cashews (pantry)
egg (fridge)
coffee (pantry)
tea (pantry)
mandarins (fridge)
pickles (fridge)
oyster crackers (pantry)
cheese (fridge)

eaten
breakfast: coffee, McDonald's plain biscuit (I had to take Mom to the dr. butt early so I grabbed a coffee and biscuit while waiting on her )
lunch:  I did not eat lunch but nibbled on oyster crackers, cheese, pickles, cashews and drank tea
dinner:  We went out to a little Mediterranean joint for their Camel Racer sandwich (Gussied up bologna in pita but dang is it ever tasty)


I guess the only thing left is to say this has been very good for me. It stretches my cooking imagination and makes me so grateful that we are able to have a full freezer and pantry. It also reminds me that I might need to expand my volunteer hours to include working in our local food pantry instead of just donating to it.

I won't say I will not stock up like this again, because when I can get 80 percent lean ground chuck for 2.79 a pound I will buy 40 or so pounds and freeze it.  The same goes for 49 cents per pound chicken quarters, or 1.49 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts. And of course I will process and freeze summer produce again.  I just want to be more mindful of what I have on hand and use it more freely throughout the year. By October my freezer will probably be busting at the gills again, and I might have to have a March challenge all over.

And now that this challenge is over and closed I am gong to head over to enter Sulggy's giveaway. Pop over to Don't Read This It's Boring for a chance to win chocolate some cool stuff.

Friday, March 31, 2017

MY Favorite Things

I read a blog post today, Nine to Five,  and the blogger was talking about her 10 favorite kitchen items.  It made me stop and think about my kitchen and what I would consider the things I would hate doing without most.  I thought I would list them since they are things I use nearly every single day. Don't get me wrong, I have a fully equipped kitchen and lack for nothing, but these are my absolutely essential and most used items.  I could do without a lot of things but not these. So here goes!

1. Keurig  I understand it is not essential and I can make coffee other ways but I love having a cup of freshly brewed coffee each time I am ready to drink one. I do not buy K-cups, instead I have refillable ones and change coffees regularly.  I have 3 mason jars filled with 3 different coffees which are rotated throughout the morning based of how deep a roast I want at any particular time.

2.Paring knife  Many years ago I broke down and bought some very good knives.  I have had these since the late 80's-early 90's. (Not exactly sure) but they have been fantastic. They sharpen easily and I can't say enough good things about them.  I would tell anyone to go ahead and invest in a couple of good knives and you'll probably never have to replace them.

3. Vegetable peeler  This is one I picked up at a discount store forever ago.  It is just one of those garden variety brands that Walmart and K mart carry, and I have had it and used it for decades. It makes fast work of peeling potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples and anything else I want to peel. Great invention and kudos to whomever invented it.

4. Colander  I make salads nearly every single day so I am constantly washing greens and other salad fixings.  I generally wash them in the morning and let them drip dry before sticking them back in the fridge.  I do have a salad spinner but it is a pain in the butt to get out and use for just the two of us, so I really save it (time and washing)  for days when we are having guests and I need a big salad

5. Wine tool   Both of my older sons worked in restaurants while they were in school and both wound up at the same really nice place.  When the restaurant was introducing new wines, the wine steward would have reps from the vineyard come and share samples with the wait staff so they could pitch the wines pairing them to menu items having first hand experience with it.  Invariably they would give each person on the wait staff a wine tool with their vineyard name embossed on it. At one time I think they about a dozen of them and  4 or 5 wound up here.  I like them much better than a traditional corkscrew because it has the knife to cut the foil, the corkscrew plus the edge that fits on the lip of the bottle also functions as a bottle opener. Nothing beats something you use regularly better than it being a free regularly used item

6. 8 inch chef's knife  Again there is not a day that goes by without me using this knife.  I could actually get by with just this knife and my paring knife.  I don't want to, but I truly could. Buy the best knife you can afford and it will be your friend forever.

7. Wooden spoons  I have about 8 of these all bought from the dollar store.  I know there are better ones out there but these serve me perfectly fine.  You cannot use anything better for candy making or caramelizing sugar.  The spoons don't transfer heat to your hands and the handles are easy to grab, especially for protracted stirring.  And yes there is a downside.  I have a gas cooktop and I have caught several handles on fire. (Not a true blaze, but smoking and charred)  When that happens they become kindling for the outdoor chimenea,  But honestly it does not happen that often!

8. Tea kettle  I do not stand at the sink with the water running waiting for it to get warm. I always have a kettle full of water and I heat it to boiling on my quick burner. Instant oatmeal? No problem! Quick cup of tea? It's ready.  Hot chocolate, bouillon, gravy anything that needs hot water is a snap with a kettle.

9. Box grater  Otherwise know as a knuckle buster.  Mine is the inexpensive kind from Kmart.  I will admit I have bought a replacement for my original grater which was part of a kitchen shower gift when I got married decades and decades ago.  If this one lasts as long as the lasts one did I might have to buy a replacement when I am in my late 70's. I use it for just about all my grating/shredding tasks.  I know the food processor is easier, but see my comments above about the salad spinner and clean up.  Unless I am grating a massive amount I will stick to my trusty box grater.  A quick rinse and a spin through the dishwasher  when it is full is all it takes.

10. Wire Whisk  Again I know life is easier with my stand mixer, and I do use it, but there is no way I am going to get it out to whip cream or make a quick mayonnaise. I use it for making puddings, sauces, gravy and anything I want to be silky smooth with a little air in it.

11. Hardwood cutting board  I have a couple of these that are made from a single slab of wood and have no glued parts for anything to seep into.  Yes I do have one of those white ones and I do cut raw meat on it, but everything else is cut on wood. It does not dull my knives, can be cleaned with bleach water and sanded down whenever I need to.  Following a storm when large hardwoods uproot I am a threat to go looking for large pieces of cut wood that would make good cutting boards.  Luckily I have people in my family with power tools!

12. Pyrex 4 cup measuring cup  This is just a multi function piece.  In addition to liquid measurements, you can zap it in the microwave, stick it in the freezer, use it as a small mixing bowl, stick it in a pot of simmering water for a makeshift double boiler.  If my kitchen were a baseball team this little lovely would be my utility player.  These are under 10 bucks and last virtually forever.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bought, Used and Made Do One More Time

I have been using food form my food storage budget for the entire month, buying only what is necessary with little help from TheHub who is an after work recreational shopper.  Beginning this week I had a remaining food budget of 14.50. And this is what happened!

March 22
bought
zero

used 
ham (freezer
sweet potato chips (pantry)
green chili salsa (pantry)
pancake mix (pantry)
blueberries (freezer)
sf maple syrup (fridge)

eaten
breakfast: coffee, slice of ham
lunch: sweet potato chips with green salsa, mandarin
dinner: blueberry pancakes, coffee

March 23
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
corned beef hash leftovers(fridge)
sauteed cabbage leftovers (fridge)
mandarin
chicken thighs (freezer)
bbq sauce (fridge)
brown rice (pantry)
squash and green bean leftovers (fridge)
balsamic vinegar (pantry)
olive oil (pantry)
herbs, salt and pepper (pantry)
cukes (fridge)
tomatoes (fridge)

eaten
breakfast coffee, mandarin
lunch leftover corned beef hash, cabbage
dinner: bbq baked chicken thighs, squash and green bean medley, brown rice, cukes and tomatoes in balsamic dressing

March 24

bought
instant potato pouch 1.00, strawberries 2.50, dip 1.99 chips 1.59, bread 1.79, rolls 2.00.  Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches (TheHub) 3.50, bagged salad 2.00, brewed tea 2.00  for a total of 20.21 including tax. We actually spent about 60 dollars at the store, but TheHub (the recreational shopper) was with me and we stocked up on several things (cleaning supplies, crackers, nuts, and super sale soft drinks) for the lake place, so I am not counting it as purchases this week since none of it was consumed or will be used until we start going to the lake regularly

used
coffee (pantry)
leftover burrito (fridge)
porterhouse steaks (freezer)
spring mix (fridge)
cucumbers (fridge)
tomatoes (fridge)
asparagus (fridge)
instant mashed potatoes (bought)
butter (fridge)
herbs, spices, salt and pepper (pantry)
olive oil (pantry)
dressing (fridge)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch: burrito (Son2 ordered one from a restaurant near his work and it had guacamole on it.  Since he is allergic to avocados he brought it to me)  Woo hoo free food!
dinner: steak, potatoes, asparagus, salad, Fat Boys

March 25
bought
zero

used
bread (bought)
butter (pantry)
jelly (pantry)
ham (freezer)
eggs (fridge)
vegetable soup (freezer)
pimento cheese sandwich (1/2 left from TheHubs lunch Friday. Biggest sandwich ever!)
kefir cheese (fridge, made from homemade kefir)
mozzarella cheese (freezer)
parmesan cheese (fridge)
bolognese sauce (fridge)
jumbo pasta shells (pantry)
herbs, spices, salt and pepper (pantry)
tossed salad (leftover from Friday night)
dressing (fridge)
tea (pantry)

eaten
breakfast ham and eggs, coffee, chocolate milk (TheHub)
lunch: soup and 1/4 (each) pimento cheese sandwich
dinner: cheese stuffed pasta shells topped with bolognese sauce, tossed salad


March 26
bought
Recreational shopping (TheHub) chocolate milk 2.59, pork skins 1.99 for a total of 5.04 including tax

used
coffee (pantry)
jam (pantry)
butter (fridge)
tea (pantry)
pack Asian veggies (freezer)
ground beef (pantry)
onion (pantry)
white rice (pantry)
garlic (pantry)
herbs, spices, seasonings, salt and  pepper
oil (pantry)
brownie cookie mix (pantry)
butter (fridge)
eggs (fridge)
oatmeal (pantry)
flour (pantry)
baking soda(pantry)
sugar (pantry)
brown sugar (pantry)
vanilla (pantry)
chocolate chips (pantry)


eaten
breakfast: toast with jam
lunch: fish sandwich (Arby's) tea
dinner: Asian veggies with ground beef and rice, cookie brownie, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

March 27
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
strawberries (bought)
steak (leftover, fridge)
chicken breast (freezer
bag California vegetable mix (freezer)
bag squash (freezer)
onion (pantry)
salad mix (bought)
mashed potatoes (leftover, fridge)
rolls (bought)
butter (fridge)
mayo (fridge)
oil (pantry)
vinegar (pantry)
egg (fridge)
tea (pantry)
salt, pepper, herbs, seasonings (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch : leftover steak, strawberries, tea
dinner: chicken with veggies. squash casserole, leftover mashed potatoes, salad, dinner rolls

March 28
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
ham (freezer)
strawberries (bought)
leftover squash casserole (fridge)

eaten
breakfast: coffee, strawberries
lunch: ham slices, squash casserole, strawberries
dinner:  book club night, out to eat

This week 20.25 was spent on food which is 10.75 over my proposed budget of 100.00 this month.  I only have to make the food I have last until Friday.  I know I will need some more milk, but should be ok with everything else.  So although I was over budget I am ok with it, but the next time I do a challenge I am going to have to exclude the recreational shopper's excursions and never let him go shopping with me__ever!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Positively Monday

I am continuing my Positively Monday post. My aim is to review each day and record the best thing/things that happened that particular day. It is a way for me to remember that even the worst day has something good in it.

Monday: I was able to volunteer at Independence Place.  We made fairy night lights for them to sell at their spring craft fair. I can't tell you how much I love being with these very special people.

Tuesday:  Nice day at home.  Got some things I had been neglecting done.

Wednesday:  I was kind of teed off all day Wednesday.  I have class every Wednesday morning but Mom asked me to clean her freezer for her that afternoon. (She had put a 6 pack of glass bottles filled with seltzer water on the top shelf of her upright freezer , thinking it was the fridge I guess, which had burst showering the entire thing with glass shards and seltzer.  She rarely uses the freezer so there is no telling how long it had been like that) Long story short, Mom takes naps every afternoon and if I waited until class was over she would be ready to sleep and it would mean I was cleaning her freezer at about 5. (You have to understand that cleaning it Wednesday was critical to her because that was an arbitrary day when she decided it needed to be done, even though she needed/wanted nothing that was in the freezer)  So I skipped class which made me a tad unhappy, then I got to her house and she had started "cleaning" before I got there instead of waiting, creating more of a mess. It took me much longer than it should have because I had to clean things twice just to clean her "clean up" before I actually could clean the freezer.  I guess the positive for the day is that the job is completed until the next incident.  Another positive is just some laughs My Beloved Sister and I had over  a bizarre question she asked me. Mom wanted to know why I was making candles in glass bottles and why I put them in her freezer?!?!?!?!

Thursday: Another day at Independence Place making Boho bags for them to sell in May. It is wonderful to have someone come up to me at the end of the day and tell me how much they love me. Like I have said before, it's a special place for very special people.

Friday:  By 6 we were headed to the lake.  Traffic was abysmal since schools were out and Spring Break was beginning.  I think every school kid in Alabama was headed for the beach.  Our normal 45 minute drive took nearly 2 hours, but it did give us a lot of time for conversation. Anyway who cared that it took so long because we were driving to the lake!

Saturday: Laura (Son2's very special friend) spent the night with us and I got to enjoy her company. It was really nice to have another female around.

Sunday: Did I mention this was a Mom free weekend. (Apologies to My Beloved Sister who had to pick up the slack )

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chocolate and More Chocolate

The way I can tell if a dessert is a hit or not is by the number of additional servings TheHub eats. A couple of nights ago we had planned leftovers (He hates leftovers unless they are reformatted) from our St Patricks  meal.  I made a veggie laden corned beef hash (way more hash than beef) and served a large tossed salad with it. Since it was a fairly uninspired meal I decided to make him a small cake for dessert.  Like me, he is a chocolate freak so it was a no brainer. The only thing I was looking for was a way to use the kefir I made earlier in the week and keep TheHub's recreational shopping to a minimum.

This was a huge hit, and by huge I mean he ate 3 slices after supper.  It is a very simple cake requiring just a bowl, a wooden spoon, measuring cups and spoons, and a loaf pan.  I call this a double hit!

In a large mixing bowl add

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa
2 pinches salt
Stir to blend well then add

1/2 cup kefir (buttermilk should also work)
1/2 cup mashed banana
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon milk

Beat with a mixer or wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth (add a few additional drops of milk if necessary for a smooth batter) then stir in 1/2 cup chocolate bits. I used mini chips because that is what has been hanging out opened in the pantry for the longest amount of time, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand)

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake for about 30 minutes (Use a piece of spaghetti toothpick inserted in the center of the cake to test for doneness )  Let the cake sit in the pan until it is cool enough to touch then invert it on a serving plate. Cut in slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

The resulting loaf is a dense super chocolaty cake.  I never mentioned to TheHub that it had bananas in it and after 3 slices he still hadn't realized it. He really did flip over this cake. If you can wait till Sunday and there is still some cake left I will try a bite and give you my opinion. It's simple, fast to whip up on the fly and has limited clean up,  What's not to like?

In conclusion, when you are trying to keep someone out of the grocery store so you can use up items from your food storage, just make this and let them eat cake!





Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bought, Used and Made Do Again

In order to use a decent amount of my current food inventory I decided to spend only 100 dollars this month and concentrate of using my freezer and pantry as my primary grocery sources. I need to create space in my freezer for the upcoming produce season, and my pantry items just need to be rotated and used instead of sitting on the shelf and ruining.

Hmmm!  I just did not do as well as I hoped I would this week.  Not only did I spend more at the store than I wanted to, we also did take out twice this week so I did not use as much food inventory as I could have.  Bummer


March 15
bought
The damn Ides got me. I know to beware but did I heed ancient advice? Nope! Instead I went to the grocery store.  Sprouts: Asparagus 2.04, mandarins 1.98, radishes .34, cashews 5.15 (TheHub asked for more since he ate all I had in the pantry) 10.52 total including tax.
Aldi: onions, 1.89,  potatoes 1.59,  eggs.99,  corned beef 7.13, cabbage .69,  lettuce.89, bread 1.35, 6 pack seltzer water 1.59 (I thought I had corned beef in the freezer but I didn't , it was a hunk of ham, and this is why inventorying would have helped greatly) Total 17.74 including tax

used
2 pork sausage patties (freezer)
2 mandarins (fridge, still have 4 more before I open the new ones)
coffee (pantry)
almond milk creamer (bought)
mustard fridge
chicken legs (freezer)
asparagus (bought)
spring greens (bought)
tomatoes (bought)
cukes (fridge)
radishes (bought)
ginger miso dressing (fridge)
butter (fridge)
marzipan cake (leftover)
milk to put kefir grains to rest

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch: 2 pork sausage patties, mandarin
snack: handful of cashews
dinner: buffalo style baked chicken drumsticks, asparagus, potaotes, green salad, marzipan cake (TheHub) mandarin (me)

March 16
bought
zero

used
coffee( (pantry)
leftovers, fridge)
1 pack ground beef (freezer)
1 pack squash (freezer)
1/3 bag sweet potato fries (freezer)
1/4 bag green beans (freezer)
1 onion (pantry)
lemonade mix (pantry)
cabbage (fridge)
mayo (fridge)
canned peach (pantry)
green onions (fridge)
jalapeno (freezer)
spices salt and pepper (fridge)
vinegar (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch: leftover spaghetti squash with leftover meat/veggie sauce
dinner: hamburger patty, squash green bean saute', sweet potato fries, Hotlanta slaw

March 17
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
mandarin (pantry)
corned beef (bought)
cabbage (fridge)
potatoes (bought)
brownie mix (pantry at lake place)
eggs (fridge)
oil (fridge)
ice cream (lake place freezer)
tea (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch mandarin
dinner corned beef cabbage potatoes (everyone else) brownie a la mode

March 18
bought
Thai take out (In the T&E budget not food budget)

used 
coffee (lake pantry)
eggs (fridge)
grits (lake pantry)
sausage patties (freezer)
cheese (lake fridge)
onion (pantry)
bread (bought)
onion (pantry)
seltzer (bought)
lemonade mix (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: eggs and grits (theHub) homemade sausage patties, coffee
lunch: toasted cheese sandwiches, lemonade, leftover brownies
dinner take out Thai, seltzer

March 19
bought
2 tomatoes1.53
Bojangles chicken meal
(T&E budget)

used
coffee (Pantry)
tea (pantry)
bread (bought)
cheese (fridge)
tomato (bought)
onion (pantry)
graham cracker pie crust (pantry)
peanut butter (pantry)
cool whip (freezer)
cream cheese (fridge)
confectioners sugar (pantry)
vanilla (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch: take out chicken meal
dinner: toasted cheese sandwiches with tomato and onion, tea, peanut butter pie

March 20
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
salad greens (fridge)
can kidney beans
onion (pantry)
small pack corn (freezer)
can tomatoes (pantry)
can hatch chilies (pantry)
small pack ground chuck (freezer)
tortilla chips (pantry)
cheese (fridge)
seltzer (bought)
spring greens (bought)
milk for kefir (fridge)

eaten
breakfast:coffee
lunch: blt from Sonic (volunteering and not near home) seltzer from home
dinner: Mexicanish stew, green salad, water

March 21
bought
zero
used
chicken breast (fridge)
salad greens (bought)
cucumbers (fridge)
oil (pantry)
balsamic vinegar (pantry)
herbs, salt, pepper (pantry)
leftover corned beef (fridge)
leftover potatoes (fridge)
onion (bought)
leftover cabbage (fridge)
flour (pantry)
sugar (pantry)
egg (fridge)
safflower oil (pantry)
baking soda, salt, extract (pantry)
3 bananas (freezer)
mini chocolate chips (pantry)
tomatoes (bought)
kefir (fridge)
milk for kefir (fridge)
tea (pantry)
eaten
breakfast: leftover chicken breast (and yes I know it sounds horrid, but it was there and  already cooked), coffee
lunch: spring greens salad with cucumber slices, coffee
dinner: corned beef hash, tossed salad, double chocolate cake (TheHub), tea

I spent 29.79 this week including tax. (Tax on food purchases just sucks, especially our 10 percent sales tax!)  I had only 45.97 left in my 100 budget for this month, leaving me with a grand total of 16.18 for the next 9 days.  With tax that only leaves me  right at 14.50 in real food dollars to spend. I may or may not make it, but I am going to seriously try! I have looked over the food ads and am secretly happy that the food sales this week are not great. With the exception of boneless skinless chicken thighs there is nothing I even care about stocking up on, and the chicken thighs will be on sale another week, so it's all good>

Monday, March 20, 2017

Positively Monday

As has become my habit, I am keeping up with positive things that happen each day. I am intentionally keeping the list relatively short, but please don't think these are the only positive things that happen during my days. (though my life is fairly low keyed and mostly ordinary) These are nightly reflections of the things that meant the most to me each day, (And, yes, I am simple and easily amused)
Monday: It was cold so I stayed in most of the day and binged watched Taboo.

Tuesday: Lovely day, I was able to stay home all day and knocked some things off my to do list while listening to St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

Wednesday: Found a book under my bed that I had been looking for. ("Dark Matter"; very interesting read)

Thursday: Took Mom to the Dr.  News was not as good as I hoped but not horrible either, so I am counting is as a positive.

Friday: Started the day with a Mom scare, but she recovered and insisted I go ahead to the lake. After talking it over with My Beloved Sister I did go. Got to see a gorgeous orange sky reflected in the lake at sunset and the ospreys were out and about.

Saturday: Rearranged the downstairs den at the lake place and got the old pump organ in place. (Now it needs a bunch of tlc to make it really work.  Guess I will be learning to repair reeds)

Sunday: TheHub was able to go to church with me again (He went into the office afterward to get his jump start on the week) and Billions! (I am hooked on this show)












Friday, March 17, 2017

Cabbage Was Cheap So I Bought Lots

Right before I started this use em up challenge I had bought a couple of very inexpensive cabbages and stored them in my auxiliary refrigerator. Then the Aldi ad for the week had them for 69 cents each.  Of course I bought one because, well, cheap cabbage! So as of last night I had 3 whole cabbages, with 2 of them needing to be used pretty quickly.  I knew one of them would be cooked and served with corned beef and potatoes tonight, and the one I bought this week will be fine for a while yet.  That left one needing immediate attention and my go to cabbage side dish is always cole slaw, but I wanted a slightly different taste.  Enter the following recipe for a side dish known as Hotlanta Slaw. For anyone who doesn't know, Atlanta is sometimes called Hotlanta, so I am assuming this slaw originated there (perhaps in a BBQ joint?) but I really don't know.  The only thing I am sure of is that Hotlanta slaw is a delicious amped up version of traditional slaw.

8 ish cups grated cabbage (1 medium head)
4 carrots, shredded 
1 sliced peach, drained and chopped (I used canned but fresh are better, just not in season yet)
1 cup chopped pecans (plus a few additional pecans to sprinkle on each serving)
1/2 cup sliced green onions (tops and bottoms)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup vinegar
2 Tbs poppy seeds
1 jalapeno, seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 Tbs cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

In a large non reactive bowl mix the cabbage, carrots, peach, pecans and onions and set aside.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl until they are all combined, then pour over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine evenly.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (Overnight is even better) Serve and enjoy!

This is a traditional slaw consistency, but the flavors are a bit more intense and it has a wonderful kick to it.  It is not too hot but has a nice short burst of heat that is calmed by the mayo.  It was a huge hit last night and actually became the focus of the meal.

When I make this I cut the recipe on half, because there are just 2 of us, so we will have slaw for about 3 days in a row.  I am sure I could make a smaller amount, but this just gets better as it sits and we love it so there is no foul having the larger amount made.  And now it is time for breakfast and I am thinking slaw and coffee?

Serve it in small bowls with a smattering of chopped pecans on tops.  Yum!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Buy, Use and Make Do Some More

For the month of March I am systematically trying to use my over abundant pantry and freezer inventory for our meals. I have a budget of 100 dollars for the month, which may or may not work since all of a sudden TheHub wants items that are not part of our standard meals, consequently I do not have them in the pantry. So this begins week 2 of the use it up challenge, where I list what was bought, used and eaten, with the exception of TheHub's breakfasts during the week which are the same daily. (1/2 cup cereal, milk for the cereal and 1 cup of chocolate milk, saving his coffee drinking for the office) He also eats out at lunch every day, mostly having lunch meetings which are picked up by the company.

March 8

purchased
crackers 1.49, bread 1.57, buns .85, lettuce .99, 2 english cucumbers 1.38, milk 2.99, green onions .99, cereal 1.85, chocolate milk 1.59

used
stuffed bell pepper (leftover)
brussels sprouts (leftover)
mandarin (fridge)
1 pack oven roasted turkey (freezer)
1 steamer bag mixed vegetables (freezer)
cornbread (left over)
2 slices bread (bought)
2 eggs (fridge)
1 bag turkey broth (freezer)
crackers (bought)
sf hot chocolate (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee (had a class early so no time to eat)
lunch : 1/2 leftover stuffed bell pepper, brussels sprouts, mandarin
dinner: turkey slices, cornbread dressing, mixed vegetables, water
snack: sf hot chocolate and crackers

March 9
bought
zero

used
bread (bought)
ham (leftover)
crackers (pantry)
mayo (fridge)
mandarin
spatzle (pantry)
porterhouse steak (leftover)
dried mushrooms (pantry)
onion (pantry)
1/2 bag  broccoli (freezer)
herbs, salt and pepper (pantry)
sour cream (fridge)
lettuce (fridge)
1/2 red pepper (fridge)
cukes (fridge)
ginger miso dressing (fridge)
peanut butter (pantry)
fruit spread (pantry)
popcorn (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee pb and fruit spread on toast
lunch: ham sandwich, mandarin
dinner: one pan meal noodles, veggies and steak, and tossed salad
snack: popcorn


March 10
bought
zero

used
bread (bought)
butter (fridge)
coffee (pantry)
fruit spread (pantry)
vegetable soup mix (pantry)
container of odd leftover frozen vegetables (freezer)
1/2 bag pirogis (freezer)
tea (pantry)
sf cocoa (pantry)
popcorn (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: buttered toast with fruit spread, coffee
lunch: none, had to go take care of Mom
dinner: vegetable soup and pirogis, tea
snack: sf cocoa, popcorn

March 11
bought
zero

used
coffee (pantry)
ham (leftover)
bread (bought)
mustard (fridge)
cheese (fridge)
pickles (fridge)
pulled pork (freezer)
partial bag tater tots (freezer)
partial bag sweet potato fries (freezer)
lettuce (bought)
cukes (fridge)
1/2 red pepper (fridge)
salad dressings (fridge)
pickles (fridge)
pickled okra (fridge)
chow chow (fridge)
buns (pantry)
sf lemonade mix (pantry)
bbq sauce (fridge)
flour (pantry)
sugar (pantry)
eggs(fridge)
kefir (fridge)
milk for making kefir (fridge)
2 meyer lemons (fridge)
bp, salt, vanilla, oil (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: coffee
lunch: ham sandwich, mandarin, water, coffee
dinner: bbq sandwiches, tossed salad, pickles, pickled okra, chow chow, sweet potato fries or tater tots, lemonade, lemon cake (TheHub)

March 12

bought
Pringles (gave Mom 2 and kept 1) 1.25
Ok technically I bought a birthday cake, Pringles and Turtles for Mom but that is in a totally different budget so I am not counting it.

used
ham (fridge)
grits (pantry)
bacon (freezer)
2/3 box elbow macaroni (pantry)
butter (fridge)
milk (fridge)
cheese (fridge)
leftover ham (fridge)
broccoli (freezer)
coffee (pantry)
sf coffee creamer(fridge)
sf lemonade mix (pantry)
chocolate bar (pantry)

eaten
breakfast: bacon and grits (TheHub) ham, mandarin (me), coffee
lunch: Birthday meal with Mom (take out and from a totally different budget)
dinner: Mac and cheese with ham, broccoli, tea
snacks: Pringles, dark chocolate bar (Yes, I invoked special Mom's birthday and Sunday lenten fast breaking rules and  had both birthday cake and a chocolate bar)


March 13
bought
zero

used
coffee
lettuce (bought)
red bell pepper (fridge)
cuke (fridge)
leftover ham (fridge)
olive oil (pantry)
vinegar ( pantry)
mayo (fridge)
mandarin (fridge)
spaghetti noodles (pantry)
mini peppers (fridge)
onion (pantry)
garlic (pantry)
carrots (fridge)
dehydrated mushrooms (pantry)
1 pack ground chuck (freezer)
jar marinara sauce (pantry)
1 small pack spaghetti squash (freezer)
parmesan cheese (fridge)
salt, pepper, herbs and spices (pantry)
marzipan cake mix (pantry)
eggs (fridge)
butter (freezer, now moved to fridge)
milk (fridge)
cocoa (pantry)
sugar (pantry)
mandarin


eaten
breakfast: coffee, mandarin
lunch: salad of lettuce, cukes, red pepper and ham. Oil and vinegar dressing
dinner: veggie dense meat sauce with spaghetti, tea, chocolate marzipan cake (TheHub) dookie cookies (TheHub and Son 2) mandarin 


March 14
bought 
almond milk coffee creamer 4.99, spring greens 3.99, chocolate milk 2.99, (Grrrr, if he could have stretched it one more day it would have only cost 1.59) tomatoes 2.00, oatmeal packets (special request not in my wheel house, but I am nice) 3.50, wine vinegar 1.85

used
coffee (pantry)
tea (leftover)
stevia (pantry)
lemonade (leftover)
ham (leftover and finally gone except the bag I froze right as it was sliced after baking)
mandarin (fridge)
pork tenderloin (freezer)
green beans (Mom's house.  She decided she didn't want them)
sweet potatoes (pantry)
mandarins
grapefruit (about to die, so juiced)
milk to make kefir (fridge)

eaten
breakfast: coffee, ham slice, mandarin
lunch: busy and forgot to eat (Daylight Savings Time screws everything up)
dinner:  roasted pork tenderloin, baked sweet potato, green beans, marzipan cake (TheHub) dookie cookies (TheHub)
snack: mandarin, pecan halves

I spent a lot more money this week than I intended to.  The special requests are killing the budget, so who knows where this will wind up. This week I spent 37.70 plus 16.33 from last week for a total of 54.03 leaving me 45.97 to spend for the remainder of the month. May or may not happen.  I guess time will tell.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Lemon Cake

Last week I made TheHub a small lemon loaf cake for three reasons.  He has an almost insatiable sweet tooth and is one of those people who can eat dessert every single day and never gain wait. (Yeah, if I didn't love him I would hate him.) I also had some Meyer lemons and kefir that needed to be used right away. The third reason I made it is although I like lemon cake perfectly fine, I don't love it so I can leave it alone without it screaming at me from the pan.

This is a pretty straight forward cake recipe that I found on the Lifeway website.  I am going ahead and posting this as it was written there because it is exactly how I made it.  I claim no originality but I will mention what I will change next time at the end of the recipe.



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup kefir (or buttermilk)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 ̊ F. Grease an 8 ½-inch loaf pan with butter or baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a larger separate bowl, beat together kefir, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir to combine. Mix in oil until combined.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (You may want to remove from oven after 50 minutes as the cake will continue to cook as it cools.)
While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Combine the lemon and sugar in a small pan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved.
Set aside. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven.
Remove from loaf pan and place on a plate or cutting board. Let the cake cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled, use a toothpick to poke several holes all around the top of the cake.
Brush the lemon-sugar mixture on the warm cake. You don’t have to use all of the mixture.

I literally just copied and pasted the recipe and now I will tell you what I would do differently. ( I know because on the Mom Birthday, Sunday lenten fasting exception I tried a bite so I could accurately tell you what I thought about it. See,  I was only thinking of y'all.  I am nice like that)

The cake had a very nice pound cake consistency, slightly dense and moist, but it was not lemony.  next time I will take out a couple of tablespoons of the kefir and replace it with lemon juice, and use 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla to up the lemon flavor .  And trust me you will want to use all the lemon juice sugar mix.  I always bake a loaf cake in a glass loaf pan and never take it out prior to serving it.  I poked deep holes in the warm cake using my favorite poking device, a single piece of uncooked spaghetti, then spooned the lemony goodness all over the cake top.  Since I made really deep holes the topping went all the way through the cake. It was really tasty and after I had a small bite of it, it started screaming at me from the pan so it had to be sliced, individually wrapped in plastic, placed in a gallon size freezer bag and hidden toward the back of the big freezer just to get it to shut up.

Next time in addition to the lemon extract and juice changes, I will probably flour about 1/2 cup blueberries and fold  them into the batter right before pouring it in the pan, and will up the lemon syrup to 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar.  I will probably pour about half on the cake and save the rest to drizzle on each cake slice as it is served




And as if this isn't enough lemon cakery and you are in the mood to read an interesting, yet odd book try The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  We read it for book club several years ago and it sparked quite a conversation.

Positively Monday

Every week has some good and bad things that happen. I had gotten to a point where I was carping about every single unpleasant thing in life and ignoring the many good things I was offered. For about a year I had been focusing on what brings me joy but had a gloom and doom relapse.  As a reminder to myself that I am blessed beyond all measure I decided to keep a daily log of the best thing each day.  So the week began__



Monday
I had the pleasure of volunteering at Independence Place of Alabama.  I get a huge amount of joy just being there, but now they are opened on Monday and I got to experience said joy with an entirely new to me group of very special adults.  Who knew making St Patrick's Day photo booth props could create so many laughs (and pictures)!

Tuesday
I had a glorious day at home and went no where. It was bliss!

Wednesday
Managed to get my shopping done (all 10 bucks worth) and also found a few things Mom needed. (On a down note, I did accidentally manage to tee her off.  Fortunately it was short lived)

Thursday
I had another trip back to Independence Place and taught them how to make a no sew bag from old tee shirts.  I had called Son3 and asked if I could have any of his tee shirts that were still in his drawer at the house. (He had tons) After weeding the beer and bar ones out there were only 10, but it was plenty since several of them had trouble tying knots and decided they had rather paint instead.

Friday
Saw my first of the Oscar nominated films for the past Awards show. Yes, I know I am behind the eight ball.  Going to a theater for a movie is just not in my wheelhouse.  Now that many are on DVD I will stand a better chance of seeing them.

Saturday
Decided not to go to the lake place and stayed home. (TheHub had to go to a memorial service for a coworker and it would not be over before 3 plus it was very cool and rainy so why even bother.)
Instead I baked a little.  Now TheHub has something sweet to eat and might be able to stay out of Publix. (or not)

Sunday
Mom's birthday, so we celebrated with a take out lunch at her house. We made sure we got fried shrimp for Mom since it is her favorite guilty pleasure and had a small party of Mom, My Beloved Sister and BIL, Son2, TheHub and me.  Pip sent (Ok it was really Son1 who sent it, but it was from Pip) a Happy Birthday video which thrilled Mom beyond belief.  We gave her crappy presents but she has everything in this world and wanted nothing and Pringles and Turtles might not be too crappy since she loves them. At the end of the meal she hustled us out of the door__we stayed beyond her nap time!






Hope your week is memorable and filled with daily joy!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ah That Elusive Hour

Have you ever wondered like I have what happens to that hour they rob us of every spring.  If you are like me and not a morning person you are restless and sleepy until the fall when they give me that hour back.  And in my sleep deprived state I often wonder what that hour does.

Does it go hide in some dark recess in the universe, afraid to move lest it lose some precious seconds or does it travel, happily unfettered, hopping from star to star between galaxies until the fall when we summons it back so people like me cab feel rested once again?

Color me pissy until then.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Reformation Movement

Saturday night TheHub and I shared a steak and thought Son2 was going to be here to eat with us, so I thawed 2 steaks, one for TheHub and I to share and one for Son2.  We ate and enjoyed ours, but the son was a no show (fine) and it left us with one thawed steak that could not be refrozen.  I slapped it on the hot grill and cooked it to mid rare then stuck it in a container in the refrigerator.  I honestly thought i would serve it one night as a black and blue salad.  Well that never happened and last night I remembered it was still hanging out in the meat drawer  and had to be eaten. Son3 was going to be joining us for dinner and that complicated it a little because TheHub and I can easily split a steak, but it is a little harder to split one 3 ways.

Punt time! I went through the pantry and the freezer to see what bits I had that needed to be used how
I could possibly stretch a 5 ounce steak into a meal for 3 adults. I found a bag of spatzle, a half bag of frozen broccoli, part of an onion in the fridge, and a lot of dehydrated mushrooms in the pantry. The reformation began.

I cut the steak into very thin strips then sautéed it in a pan with the onions.  When the onions were slightly softened I put everything in the pan into a bowl the added water to the pan I was using to saute' the onions.  I scraped the bottom of the pan with a spatula to get any beef and onion flavoring mixed into the water then added the bag of spatzle. When it had cooked to a semi soft state I added more liquid (including about 1/2 cup of white wine that was left in a bottle)  1/2 cup dried mushrooms, and a half of a bag of frozen broccoli. It ws seasoned lightly with  1 teaspoon thyme, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of parsley.  It cooked until the mushrooms were soft and the spatzle was done. Then I stirred in the meat and onion mix and let it all cook together for about 5 minutes over a low heat.  At the last minute I looked through the refrigerator and found about 2 tablespoons of sour cream so I threw that in the pan, gave it a quick stir and called it good enough.

This was amazingly good.  I am sure it would have been equally good with egg noodles but I didn't have any, and am trying very hard to use up what I have on hand.  The only problem? After the 3 of us ate all we wanted (Son2 even had seconds) there is still a boatload left over, so now it is in a container in the freezer waiting for an
emergency meal when I need something quick.