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Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Big Thank You

Earlier in the week I defrosted and cleaned  my upright freezer. Like so many things around the house, it is a thankless but necessary job and I am so glad to have it behind me. While I was cold I also attacked the freezer in the kitchen fridge and the extra fridge in the laundry room. Now everything is neatly organized to be used like they should be used instead of the hodge podge arrangement I had before.  Things that are used often are in the kitchen, shorter storage but not everyday use are in the laundry room refrigerator freezer (keto "bread", breakfast biscuits, TheHubs beloved corn dogs, frozen pizza, etc), and longer storage food items are in the upright. Lots of rearranging and thought went into this process, but I am so glad I took the time to do it. At the very least our food life is more organized.

But speaking of food life__I have needed to clean the oven for about 2 months. Mine is self cleaning so it is not like it takes a tremendous amount of effort, but the weather has been too hot to have that much additional heat in the kitchen. This morning I was reading Sam, Coffee, Money, & Thyme and she mentioned cleaning her oven. I had not even thought of cleaning mine this morning, but TheHub went in the office, the ball game (Roll Tide) is not until 8 and it is barely 60 degrees outside. It is a perfect day for a little additional heat in the kitchen and I planned to be home until the later afternoon anyway, so as I type this I am into the second hour of oven cleaning.  And beginning that inspired me to do a deep cleaning of the stove top, microwave and dishwasher. Now if it would just inspire me to iron.

I do want to thank all of you. I never really stop and let you know how much inspiration, ideas, laughs and sometimes deep thoughts and reflections I get from sharing your posts.  My gratitude is sincere and I am so thankful y'all let me share your lives through this medium (or in the case of Sluggy in real life when she drove through Alabama) 

If you are headed south, let me know. I am always ready for a cup of coffee (Krispy Kreme optional or not!) and a visit!

Friday, October 18, 2019

What's Clean and Shiny and Full?

This morning I did the one chore I absolutely loathe and I have to do it at least once a year, but I really should do it every six months. I have an upright freezer in the laundry room that was crammed full complete with frost build-up. I would open it, try to rearrange and do an inventory, but it had gotten overly packed with no wiggle room for anything else. I bit the bullet today as soon as I got back from Mom's house and started the process of defrosting.

I have a very non technical method which requires a load of dirty towels, 2 large pots, a large plastic bowl, a large silicon spoon, insulated bags, 2 laundry baskets, a black leaf bag, a tea kettle of boiling water, ski gloves, and about 2 hours of my time.

First I empty everything out of the freezer, establishing the priority of whether or not it has to remain frozen or will be ok at room temp (nuts and frozen pounds of butter, flours, and meals). I set all of the temperature stable foods on my cabinet top, dump the rest in insulated bags, the refrigerator freezer, or in the black leaf bag which sits in a laundry basket.

I quickly scrape any loose frost into the large plastic bowl, then put 2 large pots of steaming hot water on the top two shelves, turn the power off and shut the door. I leave the room for about ten minutes and put a towel on the floor in front of the freezer to catch the first drips. After the 10 minutes I go back in, grab the pots, pour the water into a larger pot and heat it again. While it is heating I get my trusty spoon and scrape getting as much ice off the shelves and coils as I can. Next I put 2 towels in the bottom of the freezer to catch drips, empty the plastic bowl in the sink and start the hot water in the pots process all over. It usually takes two hot water changes per shelf to get all the accumulated frost off. Meanwhile I take the towels that have absorbed water and toss them in the washing machine, and replace them as needed. 

When everything is all defrosted I wipe it dry with a clean towel, wash it quickly with a water/baking soda solution, rinse it with a clean wet rag, then dry it with a couple of clean dishtowels.

Before I put anything back in it, I wipe off each bag or container with a clean dish towel.

I have a drawer for all the vegetables and have a system I have maintained for years for meats. All beef is in a red bin, all chicken is in a blue bin and all pork is in a white bin, after all, it is the other white meat. These are all on the bottom shelf which sits above the vegetable drawer. The second from the bottom houses all seafood, prepared foods (Bags of spaghetti sauce, chili, Mississippi chicken etc.), and bags of pre-cooked meats. The second shelf from the top holds frozen meals (think Lean Cuisine) breads, and odds and ends that are not specific but need to be frozen. The upper shelf is for nuts, and fruits. Flours and meals are in the shelves in the doors, with some frozen juice concentrates, packs of bacon, butter, cheese, and individual servings of keto veggies I have prepped (cauli mash, roasted brussels sprouts, etc)

Now that everything is all nice, clean organized and listed I know that I do not need to buy anything except produce. TheHub and I are going to have to do some serious eating to put a dent in the freezer inventory! Or have company, lots of company.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pumpkin Sausage Soup

I know we are rushing fall, but our temps have been so horrid lately that this cool down, even if it is temporary, feels so good and makes me want fall things. Like soup, who doesn't like a nice soup during fall or the winter.

Truthfully I could eat soup year round, but TheHub has a different stance about when soup should legally be consumed. Our highs today were in the upper 60's. Yes I know to some of you that does not feel cool, but it was cool enough to get the go ahead from the soup police. We had a big meal for the day at lunch. We went to the Brazilian festival and brought back so many delicious foods; black beans, pork and rice,  steak kabobs, tamales, empanadas, and 3 different types of desserts for a shared meal with Son2 and DIL2. It was a football day and what is more perfect than eating and talking about football (Except that the Georgia/South Carolina game went into overtime which put us eating right as the Alabama game started.)

I had made taco soup  on Friday for TheHub's post game meal, and figured I would just scour the fridge for leftovers for me. At halftime I was on the computer looking for some kind of easy keto dessert, when I found a recipe for pumpkin doughnuts using the pumpkin spice extract that came in the box with  my cornbread extract. It called for some pumpkin puree and I thought I might as well find some way to use the rest of the can. I remembered a recipe for sweet potato soup I have made before, so I thought I could use pumpkin instead and hope for the best.

1 small onion, diced
1/2 small red pepper, diced
1 cup cooked crumbled sausage*
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional of course)
1/8 teaspoon coriander
salt and pepper to taste (I used none since the broth was salted and I am just not crazy about salt)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Wilt the onion and pepper in the bottom of a small soup pot. Add the cooked sausage and cook until the veggies are soft. Toss in the broth and pumpkin and stir until it is all combined. Add the seasonings and cook on low about 15 minutes (Add more broth or water if the liquid starts to reduce) About 2 minutes before serving add the heavy cream, stir through and bring to whatever soup temp you like. (It really did not lower the temperature much at all. I let it heat on low about a minute and a half, stirring the whole time)

This is a pretty unattractive soup so I would suggest sprinkling some minced red pepper and some chopped fresh parsley on top for a little color. Since it was just for me, I did not do that, but I will for the picture. When I tell you even though it is not a pretty food but the flavor makes up for it, I feel like the coed describing her not so pretty roommate to a potential blind date, "She's got a great personality and all the girls love her"

Trust me, the flavor did make up for the less than stellar appearance of the soup. I am not crazy bout the taste of pumpkin, but with this soup, I never felt I was eating eating pumpkin. The broth was a lovely blend of spices and none of them competed with the others. It was just a nice blend in a creamy base, with chunks of sausage, and bits of vegetables.

Fortunately I have enough left over for a meal during the week. It is supposed to be cool and rainy on Tuesday, so I think this might be a great meal for that night. Maybe with a piece of the mock cornbread and a salad!

*I always have 1 cup packs of sausage frozen. Sprouts has a couple of packages of their butcher made links reduced nearly every time I go shopping. They are at their last sell by date so I always buy them, bring the home and cook and freeze them. Usually it winds up in a pan full of cabbage for a super quick meal so I am not picky about labeling what type of sausage it is and I rarely know exactly what kind I am using. Judging by the taste this might have been polish flavored sausage.  I think just about anything other than Italian sausage would work very well with the flavors in this soup.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Meal Plan or Meal Bust?

Last week I made a tentative meal plan for the week. As usual things did not go as planned, but we were not too far off target. I spent a large amount of time at Mom's and came home usually late in the afternoon/early evening . Fortunately I had cooked a few things on Sunday, so there were a couple of quick meals available. This is what was planned:

1. Chili, keto "cornbread" coleslaw
2. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or zoodles, tossed salad, french bread or keto rolls
3. Brazilian Festival food
4. Shepherd's pie (keto), coleslaw, roll or keto roll
5. Fasting
6. Grilled scallops, tossed salad, rolls, cauli mash
7. Cauliflower au gratin 

And this is what actually happened:

Monday: The temps had dropped just enough so that we could actually enjoy a bowl of chili.
Chili, keto cornbread

Tuesday: TheHub had a dinner meeting so I decided to fast. It was an easy kitchen cleanup. Wash one water glass and a mug!
Water and a cup of hot tea

Wednesday: I have class every Wednesday morning and left the house so I could be at Mom's at 7:30 to fill in the gap between her overnight and her daytime caregivers. After the day caregiver got there I was off to class, with a list of groceries and supplies needed for Mom' house.  As soon as the class was over I ran by Aldi to pick up things Mom needed from there along with my Aldi groceries. I swung by Mom's to put up her groceries, then went to my house to put mine away (I had refrigerator items that could not stay in the car), got back in the car to drive to Publix for the items Mom needed that Aldi does not carry, dropped those off, got a new and different list of items T. had forgotten to include on the earlier list, went to The Pig (which is by CVS) for a couple of items then went to CVS for incontinence supplies, back to Mom's, then had an appointment with Mom's accountant (about 1099's for her care givers)  and finally back home___until Mom called later and needed me to come back to her house for a non-emergency, emergency.
TheHub had another dinner meeting and I was fried from running around. I rummaged around in the fridge and came up with a slight variation on my original plan for the night.
Steamed cauliflower with a slice of New York sharp cheddar and a glass of white wine

Thursday: I think it was an uneventful day. I still did my daily 2 visits with Mom but they were nothing out of the ordinary. TheHub was going to be home for dinner, so I pulled the spaghetti sauce I had made and frozen out to thaw.
Spaghetti sauce over noodles or zoodles, huge tossed salad

Friday: Usual Mom stuff and a couple of meetings for me! TheHub wanted to run by Aldi to pick up some low carb protein bars they carry (Elevation bars, the no added sugar type)  If he had told me he was out or nearly out I could have picked them up when I was at Aldi on Wednesday.  He suggested we drop by Culver's (next door to Aldi) and grab a bite to eat, so I was game for that.
Mushroom Swiss burger (no bun or condiments) with a side of broccoli or fish sandwich basket. You can guess which was the keto meal.

 Saturday:  Game day (Alabama vs. Texas A&M ) meant we had to get up and get moving so we could be at the Brazilian festival early. Even though we were there when it opened we got one of the last parking spots and the crowd was pretty large. We knew after wandering around a bit that we would be bringing food home. Son 2 and DIL2 would be eating with us so we had a jantar (Portuguese word for main meal of the day. See what going to the Brazilian festival will do for you. Thank you guy who was at the steak kabob booth for that bit of trivia). The food? Yumlicious!
Pork and black bean stew, steak skewers, empanadas, tamales, tomatoes and cucumber slices. We also bought flan, lime mousse and chocolate balls but we were stuffed and no one ate the desserts.

Sunday: We had a true day of rest, except for going to the store for Mom and going to her house twice. I had made  soup to have Saturday night and we had leftover soup, plus TheHub brought a doggie bag home from his meal Wednesday night.
Soup or leftover pork and coleslaw

And now on to this week:*****
1. Soup and bread (either keto cornbread or dinner rolls)
2. Keto pork stew over broccoli
3. Leftover Brazilian, tossed salad
4. Sesame chicken over rice or cauli rice, asparagus
5. Philly cheesesteak one pot dish
6. Corn dogs , coleslaw
7. Chili, keto cornbread, cucumber slices

***** I just realized what today's date is. TheHub's Birthday is today! Yes I am a dumbass. Fortunately I had bought a card a while back and am already dressed since I had to take Mom to a dentist appointment this afternoon. I think tonight I will take him out to eat wherever he wants to go.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mock Cornbread

I have been on the keto bandwagon for a while now. I would like to say I have been diligent, but that would be a big fat lie. Now it is time for me to get crackin' and stay keto faithful . (Mostly because I threw out all my fall/winter duds that were too big and I have ordered several new pieces one size smaller than my current size. It would be very nice if all of them will fit by the time true cooler weather arrives.

Sunday I did a lot of advance cooking. The caregivers were at Mom's with no gap in time, so I could go to her house at my leisure rather than when I had to be there. It was great to be able to get some things done that I needed to get done without serious interruptions. Since it is October and we had a slight break in the weather I decided to make some chili. (It really is still to hot for it, but I wanted some) I have gotten used to making a huge batch of beanless chili, then adding beans to half of it, and tiny cauliflower flowerets to mine. TheHub would probably eat it with cauliflower if I asked him to, but splitting it is easy enough, especially since I was asking him to do the almost unthinkable__eat keto "cornbread".

I will admit I was skeptical about this dish, but tried it anyway. It does contain one ingredient I have never heard of before, and I could only find it online. I decided to give it a try and purchased my first ever bottle of cornbread extract. I am posting a link to this stuff here * though I did lessen my risk when I bought it. Amazon had a pack of ten flavorings that included the cornbread stuff. I figured even if it was horrid I had nine other flavoring options and not all of them could be horrible.



1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cornbread extract
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

















Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder,  onion powder, and salt.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in eggs, sour cream, butter, cornbread extract and cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. Pour into a well greased pan. I used an 8x8 metal cake pan. Cook for 20 minutes until top is golden brown and cooked through.

Now TheHub and I are both originally from Alabama, we grew up eating what the rest of you call soul food, but we always just called it dinner. Cornbread has always been mandatory with so many of our meals, and I have tried about 5 different keto recipes. All of it looked like cornbread and even felt mostly like cornbread, but fell miles short when it came to the taste. This stuff is nearly spot on, in fact, TheHub had 3 pieces with his chili last night.  I froze the remaining bread and will pull it out and warm it up when we have something else than demands cornbread.  If you are doing keto give this a whirl. It was a fantastic, and I will only change one thing next time. I will make this in mini muffin pans so that every single bite will have some of that delicious crunchy edges . It is making me hungry all over again, just writing about it.

The Pig has collards on sale this week. Collards cornbread and sliced tomatoes might be just what the doctor ordered!

* I have no affiliation with Amazon. This is just where I found it and like it enough to recommend it to others.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

What We Ate and What's Next

I started back with my meal planning this past week, thinking things had settled into a routine with Mom and perhaps I would at least have some direction if I had a plan. As usual (even without Mom issues) my plan and actions are not exact (or even really close) but it is ok and all is well. We have not missed a meal and if nothing else, we are flexible. The following is what I planned:

1. BLT's (thanks to chaffle wonderbread*)
2. Greek Food Festival
3. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or zoodles, tossed salad
4. Shepherd's pie (cauli mash topping) ,coleslaw
5. Steak, baked potato (or not) , asparagus, tossed salad
6. Slaw dog, cauli tots
7. Taco salad with or without tortilla chips

And this is what really and truly happened:

Monday: My Beloved Sister had the day off so she filled the morning gap in Mom's care schedule. Since I did not have to be there during the morning, I only spoke to her caregivers by phone and had the entire day for myself. Kind of!

I had to be home for a service call from my local cable company. (Investigating ways to cut the cord) which meant I was around all day, until about 6:15 when the cable guy finally finished. I did get a lot done in my bedroom. I started with the ceiling and worked my way down the walls, baseboards, behind furniture, the furnishings, windows, floors and the comforter, curtains, and throw pillows changed to their fall/winter look. The room is so clean, I don't even want to breathe in there!

As for the cable? It seems an armadillo was rooting through the lawn for grubs and clipped the line from the street. We have all underground utilities so I guess I am glad it missed the power and gas lines (or maybe they are just a little deeper). I did not start dinner until the cable guy left and TheHub was nearly home.  I am so glad I had planned this in the menu. (Though I really planned on having it Sunday night)
BLT, tea and that was it

Tuesday: Tuesday was back to my normal get up and go to Mom's, then just handling whatever new thing has come up. I spent a good bit of time on the phone taking care of some issues for Mom, then did some more intensive cleaning here, before the knock on the door came. No one who comes to my door knocks with the exception of the next door neighbor, who has some disorders. She needed to let me know her sister and foreign women are stealing my water and power. Evidently they have opened a laundromat (visible only to her) on the other side of our fences.  She left right as TheHub called to let me know he was on his way home.  Since I had thawed the ground chuck for spaghetti sauce (but didn't get to it since I was listening to all the details of the thieving sister and foreign women) I punted.
Philly cheesesteak skillet dinner, lettuce wedge, tea

Wednesday: It's hot, damn hot. After going to Mom's for my morning Mom ritual, I went to class. Her caregiver had given me a grocery list, so immediately after class I went to Aldi for things I could find there. I ran by Mom's to drop off those groceries. It was about 96  degrees by this time and I figured it would not be a great idea to leave milk and eggs in the back of my car while I shopped at a different store. Then I ran back to Publix for things on her list that are not available at Aldi. This time instead of just dropping everything off, I went in to visit with her a little bit. Evidently she has forgotten that I run by her house at least 2 times a day nearly every day and she wanted to know what I was doing there. Looking back, I wonder the same thing. I had a couple of personal errands to take care of and by the time I got home it was about 4.  I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner so what should you do but throw things together for a delicious nutritious meal?. It was not what I did at all. I visited with a couple of neighbors, did a couple of loads of laundry, started working in the laundry room (It is beyond horrid) and only when TheHub called to say he was on his way home did I even begin to think of what we would eat. I knew I had a couple of boneless skinless chicken thighs thawed so I decided to make the taco salad I had planned for the week from chicken rather than my typical ground chuck. It turned out to be a great change and one I will do regularly.

Thursday: This was kind of a difficult day with Mom. In spite of having round the clock care she can be demanding. She is becoming more and more agitated that we have her in a facility, even though she is at her house. She is convinced that her house is in ruins, even describing wallpaper that is ripped and torn off the walls and hardwood floors that have been gouged and sheetrock with holes in it. When asked how she knows about the "ruins" she declares "I saw it" .   We had planned on going to the Greek Festival and I told her we would bring her a plate of deliciousness back.
TheHub had to work much later than we expected so we got off to a late start and decided to just go through the takeout line.  It takes about 20 minutes to get from our house to the Festival site. They were having some 1st day issues so we sat in line for about 35 minutes. By the time we drove from town to her house it was about 10 until 8. I had all the food in my lap so TheHub got out and ran hers and her caregivers into them (Now understand I had been calling and telling her caregiver about our delays and also called the minute they processed our order, so it is not like this was a surprise) When he walked in Mom was a complete jerk to him, told him she had already eaten and did not appreciate us going and having a good time at the festival while being late to bring her food.  Later I found she had told her caregiver that I am selfish with my time and only think of my own enjoyment. I am not saying anything else because even recounting this stirs some unpleasant feelings.
Greek chicken, souvlakia, rice pilaf, salad, chocolate baklava, koularakia, and kourambethes. The food was delicious and we did stop by Publix and grab a bottle of wine.

Friday: Had to take Mom to the doctor, even though I am selfish and only think of my own enjoyment. I enjoy nothing more than being at her house at 7:30 to make sure she has breakfast, before getting her cleaned, dressed, and to an early morning appointment so I can sit in the waiting room for over an hour. Yes I love that better than anything.
TheHub and I had planned on running by Sprouts that night because they were having a 72 hour sale on some things we needed. While we were in that area of town we tried a new to us hamburger joint.
Hamburger, root beer, fish sandwich (TheHub) shared french fries

Saturday: Game Day! We are big SEC college football fans, specifically Alabama fans (Roll Tide). TheHub had to run into the office so I went down to do some chores for Mom., then we met back at home to begin our football day. If you watch college football you know games start at 11 Central time and go through the night. Although we do not sit and watch all the SEC games all the way though, we do watch bits and pieces of all of them, except Alabama games.(They require total attention)  Georgia and Tennessee were playing at dinner time so we decided to have a quick and easy dinner. We do not eat in front of the tv, but wanted something
Corn dogs*, coleslaw, iced tea.

Sunday:  This was a day of rest for us. Very needed rest. Sunday is the only day of the week I have continual help so I don't have to go bridge any gap in home care. The weather was cooler and it was not yet raining so we grilled our dinner,
Steak, green beans, new potatoes, tossed salad, french bread.

And for this week the possibilities are:
1. Chili, keto "cornbread" coleslaw
2. Spaghetti sauce over pasta or zoodles, tossed salad, french bread or keto rolls
3. Brazilian Festival food
4. Shepherd's pie (keto), coleslaw, roll or keto roll
5. Fasting
6. Grilled scallops, tossed salad, rolls, cauli mash
7. Cauliflower au gratin
(TheHub has 2 business dinners this week so I am fasting one of the days and eating crap the other)

This plan might work but then again, I might go rogue and do things that are entirely different. Who knows? Hope you all have a great week

*Don't know if any of you have tried the turkey corn dogs from Trader Joes, but those puppies are delicious and "cook" in the microwave.  It is not something I would buy, but TheHub has gotten them a couple of times. TJ's is on his way home from the office, but requires a 15 minute  trip from our home. He stopped in at my request one day for just one item. He had never been in a TJ store before, so this opened a whole new world  and new selection of food choices for his recreational shopping. (I think he heard the angels singing when he walked into the store.) Now instead of calling and telling me he is going to Publix he calls and asks if I need anything from Trader Joe's before he stops at Publix. (Yes he goes to both stores at least a couple of times a week, but his Publix stops are still pretty much a daily thing)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Hooray for Fall!



I am currently doing my happy dance. We had a rain last night (fantastic news for the parched earth) and today is is now 4:15 and it is only 86 degrees. I am thinking I might need to haul out  a sweater to go with my sleeveless shirt, shorts and flip flops. It has been so hot this almost feels cool!