Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - Meal Plan Monday 5-30

Where has the month gone?  I am sure I don't know where.

Things are hopefully going to get back on track for me this week.  I need to work on my "To Do" list for sure after having last week so messed up.  Monday is Memorial Day.  That means holiday for the working crew around here and no school.  Kind of dumb in my opinion, that they get the day off then go back to school for three days.  Half days at that for finals.  Maybe if they didn't have three separate three day weekends in January and February (King's birthday, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday) they wouldn't have to go to school this next week.  But what do I know, I am just a parent, that has to drive them to school and activities.  Thursday June 2 is the last day of school, then Monday June 6 starts summer school and volleyball practice.  In case you are interested, that means that starting next Monday, I get to drive my daughter to school at 5:00am each morning.

Well, since there is a holiday, we are having the boys come over and going to cook out.  Don't know what we are cooking yet as hubby hasn't made up his mind on what meat he wants to burn yet.  Thankfully, we are having wonderfully mild weather.  Especially for this time of year for here.

Here is what the meals for the week around here look like.
Mon. - Grilling something.
Tue. - Chicken Saltimbocca, rice, carrots
Wed. - Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad
Thu. - Baked Sausage, easy mac & cheese, green beans
Fri. - If wild fire is out and weather hold we will be heading to mountains for some camping and riding for the week end.

Don't forget to go by MPM on Organizing Junkie for more great menu postings.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pasta - I think.

Tonight I decided to try and make some home made noodles.  It did not turn out so well.

Start with a recipe from a cookbook published in 1944.

Homemade Noodles

1 egg
1/2 teasp. salt
About 2/3 c. sifted all-purpose flour

Beat the egg, then add the salt and enough of the flour to make a very stiff dough.  Knead on a floured board for 3 or 4 minutes, then roll out in a thin sheet.  Cover with a towel and let stand about 20 min.  Then roll up as you would a jelly roll, cut into thin strips, unroll, and lay out to dry thoroughly.  Store until needed.  Then cook until tender as in Boiled Noodles, p. 389.  Serve seasoned as a vegetable.  Or add to soups.

Boiled Noodles

1/4 lb. fine or wide noodles
2 teasp. salt
2 qts. boiling water.

Break noodles into 1 1/2" pieces.  Add the salt to the boiling water, then add the noddles gradually, taking care that the boiling does not stop.  Cook the noodles uncovered, stirring frequently with a fork, until a piece of the noodle rubbed between the fingers is tender - the time varies with the noodles - about 10 minutes. Avoid overcooking especially if the noodles are to be added to a sauce.  Drain, rinse with boiling water and used as indicated in individual recipe.  Or add 3 tablesp. melted butter or margarine, and a dash of pepper and serve as a vegetable.  Makes about 3 c. and serves 4.

So, reading the recipe over again, then writing down the quantities (because I don't want to take a cookbook from 1944 anywhere close to anything liquid) I head in to my kitchen feeling brave, confident I can do this and I pull out a bowl and get an egg and start.
Now I measure out the flour.  This is when it hits me, I have no idea as to whether I am to measure out 2/3 cup flour, then sift it.  Or if I am supposed to sift out some flour and then measure out 2/3 cup of the sifted flour.  I precisely measure with my 1/3 cup measure, twice, then I sift it.  I did notice that 2/3 cup flour, sifted, turns into about 1/2 cup.  Mixing the flour in it begins to make crumbles, then like a snowball it all starts sticking to each other to grow in to one big crumble.  I take my hands and finish mixing it together in to a ball.  Knead that for a about 3 minutes (because some one once told me it is bad to over work the dough, of course that could be for bread.  I have no idea) and then I let the dough rest.
I let the ball of dough rest, setting the timer for 20 minutes.  Nice little ball of dough, but little is the key word.  Of course, let's ignore the fact that I was supposed to roll it out then let it rest.  See, I should have written down the complete directions to take with me as well.  I go forward though, because I did not know I had messed this step up.
Yep, after 20 minutes I rolled the dough out flat, rolled it back up like a jelly roll, cut it into strips then unrolled the strips for the noodles.  I think I had about 9 noodles.  But they were a bit long so I went a head and cut them down to size and then let them dry.

I don't make jelly rolls, have never made a jelly roll, don't think I want to make a jelly roll.  Tell me to roll it up like tortilla appetizer, like a fruit roll up, even a taquito, something I can understand.  Not a jelly roll.  I thought about my mom's famous pumpkin roll and used that as my visual.  I like pumpkin rolls, the cream cheese filling and all, have always wanted to try one, but I don't have a jelly roll pan and have always been a bit intimidated by the directions of rolling the pumpkin layer in a tea towel, letting it sit, then unrolling it, spreading on the filling and rolling it back up.  

I am pretty sure that I would not get that to work for me.

Although my oldest daughter, that never much cooked when she was living at home, plowed in and made one that all her in-laws raved about and now request she make each holiday.

Back to the pasta story.  Tonight I really impressed myself with our dinner.  Normally I have to have a precise recipe to follow, then hope that I can understand it.  Not tonight.  I had some pork chops that needed to be cooked, had thawed them out a couple of days ago.  I put tenderizer and seasoned salt on them, browned them lightly, then put them in a pan to bake in the oven.  Now, at this point I normally spread on a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Tonight though I got a wild hair and I just poured a little wine in the pan, covered it with foil and baked them.  I wanted a white wine, like they use in the cooking shows, but we didn't have any open so I used a Zinfandel, pink variety.  The kitchen sure smelled great.  Now, what to go with it.  I noticed a pan of left over cornbread, headed to the trash with it, realized it was still good, so instead of bagging it up to just mold I decided to make a savory type dressing dish.  I chopped up some onion and bell pepper, sauteed it in butter with a little minced garlic.  Then put the cornbread in the food processor along with a couple of hot dog buns.  Mixed the crumbs, sauteed mixture, an egg, some sage, celery salt, black pepper and a little bit of chicken broth and water.  On a lark I heated up some sliced almonds and threw them in the mix, poured that in a baking pan and put it in the oven with the pork chops.  Also whipped out a pan of green bean casserole.  I only had the cream of garlic mushroom soup on hand and used the original recipe for the casserole.  Do not like it nearly as well as what I usually make.  Dinner was a success though.
The noodles were not pretty, a little doughy, but it was all pretty good if I say so myself.  

Next time I make pasta though, am making a larger quantity and will pull out that pasta maker I have, in the cabinet, still in the plastic wrap, never been used.  

Have a great night all.

Catch up.

Thought I would do a little catching up with some of the things I have been posting about.

First off, I did clean out my smaller pantry.  This was done the week of May 16 as this past week, week of May 23, was pretty much taken up with caring for mom.  That really threw me off as far as housekeeping chores go.  But, am so thankful I was able to do it and she is back in her own home.
I can't believe how much junk was in this pantry before I cleaned it.  Sorry I don't have the before photo, but there was not one inch of empty space on any shelf.  And, that was before I did the canning.  I had to clean it out so I had some place to put the beans and catsup.  Still need to do a little vamping with the top shelf and the bottom (not shown in photo) as there are better places for some of those things.  Have a great empty space on my baking shelf.  That will help when I clean out the main pantry this coming week.

Now, to my menu planning. This is what I have been dealing with.

I can barely make room to write anything, much less do any sewing or crafting.  The desk I hate to confess is not in any better shape, but I did get a pretty good system worked out.

Now, I took an old file box that I had and designed a folder system that I divided in to categories that work for me.
As you can see, the front sections are for the most used.  My Menu Plans, in this section is a folder for each week.  When one week is completed, that folder becomes empty and moved to the back of the section.  There is a Try Soon section which is for recipes that I want to try out sooner rather than later because they either sound really great or feature some ingredient that I already have on hand.  May also be something that just sounds incredibly good.  Then there is a section for OAMC which is for all the recipes that I know are good for cooking ahead, or are going to be part of the same session.  For example, all the chicken dishes together, the beef dishes, and such.

Then each category is color coded.  Only that I changed colors to keep the beef and beverages all looking like the chicken and soups.  Like I said, this is what works for me and the way my weird little brain works.  However, some categories are divided and I kept the same color through out.  Beef is one, there is Beef and then Beef Casserole.  Same for Bread and Desserts, broken down by type.
Each category also has a file folder in it labeled Keepers.  Most of the recipes in all these categories are pulled from magazines or printed off from the internet.  I have since made an effort to try and add the web site addy for where to find that address so I can give credit or link to it if I post the recipe.  Since these are recipes that at some point sounded really good, pulled my interest in some way, once I try them if they are a success with the family then it goes in the Keepers folder.  It it wasn't a success, then I toss it making sure not to make it again.

Now, a little about how I make a menu plan.
I have blank calendar sheets that I made using Excel.  This is a copy of the older ones that I already had printed and didn't want to waste.  My week starts with Monday since I join in on I'm An Organizing Junkie's blog and post to her Menu Plan Monday section each Monday.  If you haven't looked at it, please do.  Over 300 members all post links to their weekly menu plans.  Great inspiration and ideas, huge variety as some are vegetarian, some are gluten free, healthier minded, and most are all budget minded, from all over the world.

Back to my system.  I take the blank calendar sheet and write out what I want to fix that week.  Also, an effort is made to make sure that I vary the protein (meat in this family) so no two days are the same type.  Then, if I know something is going to tie up my time that day (grocery shopping, taking mom on her errands) I plan on either a fast fix or slow cooker meal.
All of the recipes for that week are placed in order in the folder for a week.  Of course these are only the recipes that are written out.  A lot of times I fix meals that have no written recipe at all (meat loaf, chicken fried steak) or just open a can of vegetables that wouldn't need a recipe.  The next step is I take a few minutes to make a grocery list for the week, check off what I have on hand then list what I need to buy.  Some items are just not good bought way ahead, lettuce for salads is one of those.  Fresh mushrooms don't last well if you are buying groceries two weeks at a time, so those items I will make a run to the store for.

That being said, life does happen and things don't always go as planned.  On those days, I wing it.  Thankfully I have had a fairly well stocked pantry and freezer that allowed me to do this.  I am planning on changing that this next week or so, trying to make some casseroles that I can put in the freezer for just that purpose.  Then, when the plan goes awry, I just move that meal plan to another day.  No big deal.

I have to pick up my daughter and start some lunch, will be posting more through the week so drop by soon.  Thank you for visiting my little corner of the web.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Okay, I know it is not a huge accomplishment, but I am so doing the happy dance.  Did my weekly weigh in, total of 12 pounds lost this month.  I feel like I may have finally broke through this plateau I have been stuck on for several months.  I had hoped to loose ten pounds total when I started the 12 week program.  Still have three more weeks and have reached that goal.  FOR ME, that is a equivalent to major break through accomplishment.  I knew my jeans were getting pretty loose, but figured it was because they needed washed. LOL  However, I pulled out my favorite pair of jeans, which I have been able to wear for a few months, and slipped them on and zipped them up.  I zipped them up standing up!  Yes that is correct, no laying on the bed, sucking the gut in while I strained to close the zipper.  AND...I actually still have a little slack in the waist.

I got to change my ticker and am so motivated to keep choosing better food choices and more determined to make the time to get in to the gym.  Have not even been this week because of taking care of my mom, but today is the last doctor visit and will now be able to get back to my own routine now that she is back at her home and doing well.

My menu plans have not gone as planned this week, but I just skipped a day, family ate left overs of which there were plenty.  I should be able to get back on track this evening.  I still have to buy groceries, but will probably do that tomorrow.  I was waiting for the sales to change out.  WOW, am so disappointed that no one has any good meat sales, cannot find any beef for less than $2.50 a pound.  The cheapest I can find ground beef (at least that isn't full of fillers) is $2.48 a pound.  I was hoping to catch some roast on sale cheap and just cut them up, but will have to keep watching.  I really figured that with Memorial Day coming up this week end there would be some sales.  Only sales are on wieners, guess I will be buying those up. I was surprised that there aren't even any great sales on chickens at the major stores.  Some of the store chains that cater to the Hispanic population have some legs and thighs on for a pretty good price, will see if I can take the sale circular in and get a price match, if not then I will just wait.  The store is in a really bad part of town and as bad as this sounds, I am very uncomfortable there.  Thankfully though, I have a pretty good stockpile of chicken though and it really is about time for Albertson's to have their chicken sale.  Another great thing, I just about have a whole month of menus planned and have all the meat, fish, pork and chicken I need for those menus in the freezer.

This week ends plan is to do a big cooking and prep session.  I really think we may go camping, so am not really planning to hard.  However, it being Memorial Day weekend, hubby won't want to fight the crowds in the camp grounds so we might just get a little work done around here.  Still have some plants to re-pot and and want to work on planting some shrubs and flowers in the front.

Well, I need to run so I can take mom to doctor.  Thanks for stopping in and feel free to look over the past postings and to leave a comment.  It is always fun to know who has been visiting.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 5/23

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! My grandson is 8 today, May 23. I was fortunate actually blessed to be there when he was born. He and his brother live in Texas and I only get to see them once a year so I treasure every minute I am able to spend with them. They came at Christmas and I am praying that it works out for them to spend a few days with us this summer.

Now, for my Meal Plan Monday posting for the week.

Mon: Pinto Beans, cornbread, company fruit salad

Tue: Spanish rolls, broccoli, yellow squash

Wed: Bangers & mash, green bean casserole, simple apple dumpling

Thu: Chicken Marsala, fettuccine, salad

Fri: Baked pork chops, oven fried potatoes, fried okra

Sat: Talapia, coleslaw, baked beans

Sun: Surprise

For even more inspiration check out the MPM postings on I'm An Organizing Junkie.

I know, this sounds a lot like last Monday's weekly menu. As I posted earlier, last week wasn't followed much except for a couple of days. So, since I know I have all the ingredients on hand I am just moving it all to this week. A few of the recipes are new, and I will post the recipes as I make them if they are a success. As a matter of fact, I just about have the whole month planned, should have it all completed by tomorrow. I need to clean out my freezers, more to see what I have in there in the way of meat than anything else. I am low on beef I know, but am really hopping that some good sales happen this next week.

My mom is not happy that she has to spend another night in the hospital, and of course I am supposed to magically fix it or I am not doing anything to help or take care of her. Some one PLEASE tell me what I can do about it. I am not a doctor or a nurse, cannot monitor her 24 hours a day to make sure everything stays the way it should. She would rather go home than admit there is a problem, does not want to face it. It is tearing me apart to know that I can't fix things for her. Why am I so inadequate, so unwanted? I know that is a bit dramatic, but it is just how I feel at the moment...okay for several moments lately.

My little planter garden is coming along. I had plans for planting more tomorrow, but have no idea how my day is going to play out with the hospital situation. I want to plant some blackberry plants and maybe one big tomato plant. I also still really want that fuchsia plant I saw. Of course it probably isn't even there any more. I will live, will make it through all this kind of weirdness that I find myself in the middle of. After all, it happens quite often. On the bright side, tomorrow I will have the first harvest of my herbs. I cannot believe how they have taken off. Some how I have got to get to the store to buy some more potting soil so I can get my strawberries and flowers planted in their planters.

Thank you for stopping by and come again soon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What a week.

Another week gone. Where oh where did go? It feels like it just disappeared in to thin air. Two more weeks and the school year will be over, of course dear daughter Miss J will then start summer school right away. That means I will be driving her to school first thing in the morning, picking her up at noon, then take her back to school for volleyball, back to pick her up. If you lost count, that will be four trips to the school each day.

OH dear gas please drop your price just a little?

I spent time working on menu plans last night. Have decided to try a huge number of new recipes. I have been working really hard to organize my pages of recipes. Came up with a very detailed system. Will post more details about that later in the week. The bad thing about last week's menu plan is that it was not followed much. I got so busy with cleaning and purging that I just didn't stick to it much at all. Mid week we had a birthday dinner for oldest son, he picked the menu, and I just didn't even try to get back on track. Good thing about last week's menu plan is that I can just use it as a plan for this week, changing the days that were actually used. In other words, mostly a repeat of last week.

I had to take my mom to the ER today, while she has to stay at least over night, it is so very tiring to sit and wait. I took a couple of cook books and made to look over while I did wait. Pulled out my handy little notepad and made a list of all the recipes I want to try. Since this is a neat little OAMC cookbook, the plan is to prepare a few of these dishes during the week to put straight in to the freezer. Not to eat now, but later on. A lot of them are chicken recipes and I know my daughter in law likes chicken so will probably put some of them up to give her for when the baby comes. Hopefully it will make life a little easier for them. I know that when I had my babies I would have loved to have had meals already made just waiting to be popped in the oven. When my youngest, Miss J, was born, a dear friend from church brought over a whole meal for me. The church ladies also did that when my hubby had pneumonia. What a blessing.

Our church we go to now is so large that it would be impossible to do something like that for the members. We have a whole little club of ladies that cook for funerals though. Maybe it would be nice to see about being a part of that group. I think I need to find some way to connect myself to the church in more ways. Yes, I think I will make that my goal for the fall. Most every group is shutting down for the summer, but when it all starts back up in the fall I am going to try and join in a bit more.

I am ashamed of myself for spending money on a weight program that I just did not utilize to the fullest. I won't say that it was a waste, have lost about 8 pounds and have learned some valuable exercises to do on my own when I go back to the regular gym. It is kind of a long story, but I have this gym membership, love going to that gym, but had absolutely no idea what do, much less how to do any work outs. It is a great deal on the price that cannot be found any where else. Also, I am quite determined to throw some energy that way. Timing has been my problem with this additional program. I did the program to get access to trainers, but just could not get a good time which made it hard to get in to a routine. I am a person that needs routine. The time with a trainer has been scheduled, but the time I will spend at the gym is pretty much when ever. That will be helpful for me I am sure. I am actually planning that I can take Miss J to summer class then head straight for the gym and work out, head home to do a few chores then go get her. It just might work.

Well, thanks for dropping in for a visit. Guess I should get back to going through all the email, read a few blogs, then tackle another few feet of my desk top.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Need A Class

I am so confused about, I really need a class. Here are some issues.

1. Links to other sites are not showing up in a contrasting color, even when I change the color of the text.

2. Color changes in the text do not make it to the posting, even though they show up in the draft or when I am saving the post I am writing.

3. Font changes do not change as well.

I see so many blogs that have indexes or tabs for various subjects and think how cool would that be. Of course none of the blogs that I really admire are on so I guess that should tell me something. I tried word press, didn't really care for that set up either. I don't know enough to make my own blog spot, don't know how to even start. I guess when I have a little spare time I must do some research on that, but don't really know enough terminology to even know how to start looking for the info I need. Do they have any free classes on the internet for blogging? Surely they do. Does You Tube? They must. Let me know if you know of any sites for this type of information.

Am off to work out, take mom to store (that alone will take up most of my day) then back home to do some more cleaning, purging, take out trash, empty dishwasher, start laundry then make supper. Oh my, I am still so tired from last week that just thinking about what needs to be done makes me tired all over again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - 5/16

This is what I am cooking up at our house this week.

Mon. - Tried N True Lasagna, garlic bread, salad - recipe is from Dream Dinners Cookbook - will be making a triple batch putting two in the freezer.
Tue. - Spanish Rolls, broccoli, yellow squash
Wed. - Bangers & Mash, baked beans
Thu. - Carino's Italian Chicken Marsala (recipe to be posted later in week) fettuccine, salad
Fri. - Baked pork chops, rice, fried okra - this may change, birthday dinner in works
Sat. - Stuffed chicken breast, green beans, pasta
Sun. - Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, salad

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie's site and her Meal Plan Monday section to read hundreds of menu plans posted by bloggers.

Each week I plan a week's menu plan. It has really helped me in a number of ways. I know what I am going to be cooking that day, know what I need to make the meal, saves me time and saves me money. I have to say, I wasn't too sure that all the time spent writing out what I would cook and when would be worth it, but it really has been. I planned out a tentative month's worth of meals. Not necessarily which day for each meal, but a month's worth of meals. I made grocery list of what I would need for those meals, checked for any coupons, then hit the store. I am totally blown away with how well it has worked. I usually buy groceries, a big bill, twice a month the day after we get paid. When we get paid I withdraw a set amount for the groceries and household needs. I have really struggled with staying with in the budgeted amount. My pantry is overstocked with food that seems to get purchased all over again. Now that I have my system in place I can already see the positive results. This last pay day I only had to buy household items. Used some of the money I saved for purchasing plants, canning supplies and two bushels of green beans. Now this pay day I have a short list of items that I need to purchase, mostly replacing staples. I expect to have the funds to now take advantage of sales. Mainly meat.

Thanks for stopping in.

Lazy Sunday

I am so worn out. All the canning has really gotten to me physically. However, I now have 45 quarts of green beans tucked away in the pantry. My house is a disaster because of being so busy with one task. All I can think about is how on earth our grand mother's and great grand mothers managed to do it all.

Of course, in the day, the household was significantly less inventory. Minimal furniture, minimal kitchen ware, and of course minimal clothing. I know that the next time I decide to do any canning I will be bringing out the aprons for sure. Not the little half apron that mom wore for the holiday dinner either. No sir, full apron that covers neck to knee. Now I will be on the hunt for cucumbers, pears, cherries, peaches and strawberries. Maybe some apples and carrots as well. However, around here, carrots are harvested 11 months out of 12 and are extremely cheap in the stores. If I come across a great deal on tomatoes I may can a few, but we just don't use them enough to bother with cooking, peeling then canning them. I do have two plants growing that are the variety that produce large fruits, another one that is the small grape size variety.
This is what I did with the old barbecue pit that has been standing in the corner growing spider webs. The burners and such no longer work, we have long since replaced it with a new and larger grill. In the middle are the two tomato plants I have planted in containers. Our whole back yard is swimming pool, in ground hot tub and cement. With four small dogs about, the flower beds were not an option, they are very small as well. So...the notion of container gardening came about. On either side of the tomatoes are pepper plants and you can't really tell from this photo but behind the tomato plants is a container that has some cucumber seeds and lettuce seeds planted. I am really hoping that they sprout and grow, but may be going and buying some starts as well.

This is the topsy turvy planter that I planted the tomato plant in that will produce the tiny tomatoes for salads.

This is my version of an herb garden. There are five different herbs growing in the planter that is hanging on my patio. I should be able to harvest off enough of what I want for just us with just this one container. There is oregano, basil, cilantro, chives and thyme. It is called the Mexican Fiesta container, just not sure what those herbs have to to do with Mexican flavor. This next week I will be taking my first clipping from the plants. Will see how things go with it. Before we had dogs I planted lots of herbs in my little flower bed beneath the kitchen window. The blooms would smell so good through the open window. I miss that. But maybe when hubby fixes the screen and I can once again open the window I will be able to catch the scent from the hanging baskets.

I will have a fuchsia plant more honey suckle growing as well. Then it will really smell nice.

Today I made Muffaletta for lunch.

I found this recipe in the June 2011 issue of Woman's Day magazine. You can find it here. There are lots of great recipes on their site. If you have never had Muffaletta you are missing out. It is a mixture of chopped olive, garlic and seasoning, spread it on each side of the bread, then add your lunch meats, put the sandwich together, slice for servings. I used one of the round artisan breads, called a boule. You can use what ever you can find though. One of the round bread loafs that are used for serving dips or chowders will work fine. Also, I added some chopped black olive in to the mixture as well. The recipe calls for Genoa salami and capicola ham which I don't buy, but I did have some sliced cooked ham and turkey. I know that I will be putting this recipe in my keeper file. It will be great to take to luncheons.

I am off now, have to get my next week's menu plan together. Come back soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beans, Beans, Beans

OH MY GOSH, am I a glutton for punishment? I decided to do some home canning, green beans to be exact.

I found a local farmer that happen to have some green beans available. So, I met with him and bought some. Two bushels to be exact. I had done a little research on the the internet which told me that I could expect to get 10 to 13 quart jars of green beans from a bushel. I bought two dozen jars thinking that would be enough for the the two bushels.

So, I started washing the beans. My mom told me it would be best to wash them as I go. Now I am glad I listened to her.

Then, I took a comfy seat in my dad's old chair. Turned to something good on TV and settled in to string and snap the beans. It was an odd thing, I was dreading the work but instead I found it very therapeutic. Sitting there with all the beans was very good for my soul, almost spiritual. Maybe it is because I was sitting and forced to just take the time to sit awhile. I thought about my dad, since that was one of his favorite chairs to sit in. I thought about the past, the gardens I use to grow when I actually had a bit of land to plant. Thought about my relatives that have gone on to heaven, all the tons of vegetables that my aunts canned over their life time. Talked to my mom while I snapped beans, she offered to take some but I just didn't want her to have to do that tedious work, but was so thankful that I was able to question her about the things I had forgotten about canning. Talked to my youngest daughter who came in and chatted with me while she snapped a few bowls, a really nice talk between a mother and her daughter, between a daughter and her mom.

Then, two nights later, I have finally finished snapping all those beans. They are bagged in gallon size bags that I can stuff in the fridge if I need time to finish the canning. Which I am sure I will have to finish tomorrow.

Wednesday night, I had done one bushel and had canned 20 quarts.

Also, on Wednesday, I cooked up a batch of the family favorite homemade catsup, expecting to get about 4 pints, ended up with 7 pints. I will however have to make a note next time to double the spices. It has been years since I made it, had lost the cherished recipe, which I came across in the old cook book that I had posted earlier about. I take a short cut when I make this recipe and used canned tomato puree instead of boiling, peeling then cooking down fresh tomatoes. The puree is about twice the amount of the pulp mix that the recipe makes. Still tasted great, but just not quite as strong flavor as usual.

Thursday, I went back to the store to buy more boxes of quart jars, another 2 dozen to be exact. They are in the dishwasher getting sterilized as I take a little break to type this. Now it is time to get go start heating up the canner and sterilize the jar lids. However, at 10:00 pm I am thinking I should just wait until morning.

Yes, the bath has won out and the jars will wait until morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Family Swiss Steak

I thought I might post this awesome simple recipe. I made it for my family Monday night and it was wonderful.

Family Swiss Steak

2 pounds round steak

2 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. oil

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 (4 oz.) can mushrooms, stems and pieces, undrained

1 large onion, diced

1 cup tomato juice

Cut steaks in 6 pieces. Coat with flour. Brown on both sides in hot oil in a large frying pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms with liquid, onion and tomato juice.

Cover tightly and simmer on stove or bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Serves 6

I made a few changes, due to what I had on hand. I didn't have any tomato juice so I substituted tomato sauce. I added some diced tomatoes as well. Also, maybe because of my changes, this was really soupy, the pan was full of juices to the brim. I am glad I forgot to leave the mushroom juice (I had drained them before adding them. The prep time went really fast. I put some crescent rolls in the oven with it and made the mashed potatoes after I pulled things out of the oven.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday - MPM 5/9 - 5/15

Well, another Monday is here...and almost gone. I have not had a good day. I am having a pity party for myself because my oldest child didn't take a couple of minutes to call me yesterday. Amazing how a little pity party can make you totally exhausted. I am just worn out, physically and emotionally.

I did not even have the energy to grocery shop. I still have to clean out the fridge before I do that. Thankfully, I don't need much because I did a really good job on the last shopping trip. Also, there just aren't any great loss leaders for my taste in shopping at least.

Okay, since I was so inspired by all the great menu plans posted last week, I have some great ideas for the next few weeks. Hundreds of posters post their plans at Organizing Junkie on her Meal Plan Menu weekly feature. Go check them out.

Here is what's cooking at our house this week.

Mon. - Swiss Steak, mashed potatoes and tossed salad with crescent rolls.
Tue. - Dinner at band boosters concert.
Wed. - Baked Chicken Fingers, corn, green beans
Thu. - MM Sandwiches (from Pioneer Woman), steak fries and tossed salad.
Fri. - Wrapped stuffed chicken breast, baked beans and rice.
Sat. - Steak, baked potato, okra.
Sun. - Burgers, chips.

The weather is so great, I may do a little baking so there will probably be some sweets about the house. Am also planning on doing a canning session to make some Ketchup. It is a family favorite around my house. Of course this is a result of the old cookbook I found I had. I asked my mom some questions about "back in the day" and it was so nice to see her eyes light up when she talked about her favorite "bump jelly" which was one of the hand written recipes I found tucked in the book. Grapes grew wild on and around her child hood home and they would gather those grapes while they were still green (as in not ripe) which turned a dark red (mom said she remembers them as purple, though the recipe states to cook them until they turn red) and they are were small round in size as they had no seeds so they looked like little bumps. It is comical the things that are remembered, especially by some one that is 84 and she is remembering back to when she was about 4-5 years old. We also talked a little bit about the canning that her sisters did. Her mother died before she was two, her sisters were all much older and they took care of her when she was growing up. One sister that was spinster moved back home and took over the household chores and caring for my mom. When mom was old enough to go to school, she would live with her two oldest sisters (both married) during the school year. Alternating sisters each year. It was handy, they literally lived a half a mile apart. Summers she would go back to the home place (she has always called it that) to live with her father. The home place was about 70 miles from the sisters and the closest school. At any rate, I asked her about the book describing home canning with tin cans. She said that a lot of people did that, they would can in tin cans their own meat and fruit. Her family however never purchased the equipment needed for that, they always used glass jars.

On that note, I was looking at a small pantry that I have and thinking that I really should clean it out. I notice some jars of jam and tomatoes. Now, I don't know about expiration dates of such things, my dad always joke that my aunt still had jars of peaches she canned during the war. But I know that the jars in my pantry are at least 8-10 years old. I AM NOT TAKING any chances. They are getting dumped, well the insides any way, and I will wash and sterilize the jars and reuse them. I also think that I saw my boxes of pint jars when I was out in the storage shed. A few days ago I was looking for something or other in a kitchen cabinet that is not user friendly, but did find a nice stash of canning jars in it that I didn't know I had. I found several boxes of lids, so am thinking all I have to buy is some rings. Another good note about those jars. I have an upright freezer, freezer compartment of my side by side, and then a freezer compartment on a regular fridge that we keep in the garage (mostly used for beer and milk) so you can see how easy it is to forget what I have in the freezer at times. I found a stash of whole chickens in one of the freezers and behind them was the very last of the plum juice my mom put in the freezer for making into jam. I just couldn't throw it out when we moved her out here, so in her little chest freezer we put the jars of juice, loaded it down with Blue Bell ice cream added some dry ice and it make the move from her home in Texas to here in California perfectly. Well almost, one jar broke but we won't tell mom that. She was so upset about all her work that was just wasted when we moved her, then she found out I took the juice, along with a few other tidbits from her freezer.

I bought some planters and replanted my tomatoes and impatiens along with a couple of indoor plants. Wow, three hours later they sure looked happy. I also took a long skinny planter and planted some cucumbers and lettuce. Tomorrow, I am going to go buy a hanging fuchsia plant that I spotted a few days ago and have decided I just got to have it for my patio. Am also determined to dig up my yellow miniature rose bush, well it is more like a rose stick at the moment. Imagine Charlie Brown's Christmas tree and then you are getting close to this poor guy. At any rate, I have some empty large planters laying about and am going to put that sickly little yellow rose and see if I can nurse it back to a blooming buddy. There is a story behind the little bush, and I will share it when I post photos.

Tomorrow night is my daughter's end of year band concert and the boosters sold tickets for a dinner. That means I don't have to cook. I really don't care for paying as much as we did for that meal, but am viewing it as a charitable contribution.

Guess that is about all for tonight. Need to get some rest so I can actually do at least some of the things on my "to do" list. Between my list and working out at the gym, I will be very busy this week. Which is a good thing. Also, one of the meals this week I will be doubling and freezing half of it. I am going to do this quite a bit over the next few weeks, have decided to put some meals in the freezer for my son and his wife for when the baby arrives.

Thanks for stopping in and check back again soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Back Then

So, the other day I took a detour in my thoughts and went down memory lane a bit. I was thinking about when I was in Jr. High and High School. Not to date my self, but that pretty much took up the last half of the 70's. Now I don't know why I started thinking about it. Oh yes I do. I took a trip to the restroom, grabbed a cook book to take with me. It was an old cook book that was my mom's, published in the 70's. One of the recipes listed a roll of garlic cheese as one of the ingredients. I remember these well. Ate many, oh so many of them. They had a little plastic ring on the back, you would cut two slits in the tube where that plastic ring was and then squeeze out the cheese. Or just cut the end off, stick a spoon in and go for it.

They are no longer available as Kraft quit making them. Personally, I think they should bring them back. But hey, who am I to be talking. At least this was a great sensible product.

Not like some of the other things that were on the market. Take the milk shake for instance. Anyone remember these babies? I always got chocolate. The vanilla wasn't bad either. They were pretty innovative for the time. Take out a cup, they were about the same size as the small McCafe Shakes, put it in the microwave and then you had a shake. Or more like thick chocolate milk, unless you left it a little too long, then you got warm hot chocolate. Of course, when you think about it, in the grand scheme of things and all, how hard is it to make a milk shake?

I mean really, we had a microwave and what did my use it for? Warming up her coffee and warming a wash rag to clean the grand babies faces. After all these years, and all those babies faces, she has gotten a little braver with the microwave, she will soften her ice cream so it is easier to scoop and make pop corn. Okay, I admit, she got to where she was heating up left overs in it too. At any rate, that trip to the bathroom with the cookbook (reading material is reading material and all I have around here is cook books, cooking magazines or craft magazines) just kind of started my mind running. Yes, it doesn't take much to get me sidetracked, I admit.

So, back to the cook book. I found another one, this one published in 1944 titled The Good Housekeeping Cook Book. It is really pretty interesting to look through, a little look inside the minds of people of the time. The country was in the midst of WWII. Rationing, blood drives, women would make bandages and most larger towns had USO dances. Especially those close to any bases. My mom and aunts would talk about those dances and the soldiers in their uniforms. Talk about your recycling efforts. How about going with out your nylon hose so all the nylon could be used for parachutes? Mom would tell me about drawing hose lines on the back of the legs for the dances and hoping you didn't sweat it off. Women were suddenly having to work the many jobs that the men normally did. There wasn't any leave back then for home visits. My dad was in the national guard, his unit was called in to the army right after Pearl Harbor. He went to Ft. Hood, had a little training, then sent out to war. His group went to Bataan, his home town lost most of that group. God took care of daddy though. He had been on a week end pass, just came back to find his outfit shipping out. They had all gotten their shots while he was gone. Instead of going to Bataan he was shipped to Africa, worked his way up to go through Anzio, Salerno, ended up in Austria. He saw Africa, Italy, France, England, Germany, Austria and a lot of places in between. The people at home pitched in valiantly. My parent's families were all farmers, living on farms, so they had it a little easier I think. People that lived in the towns weren't able to raise their own meat. Granny made sure that every family in their little town had meat to cook when their son's came home. No matter which way they came home. Dad was serving overseas for four years.

The cook book tells you what was important. A whole section, several pages, is devoted to making proper coffee. Tips and info on how to stretch your meat, stretch your butter, two egg cakes with sugar, three egg cakes in case your low on sugar. Desserts that have no eggs or sugar in case you situation is such. If even talks about a fairly new product called margarine. The first products looked a little like a block of lard, all white, and the package contained a pill that was crushed and stirred in to the margarine to give it a yellow color, to look like butter. Some of the products or ingredients called for are totally unknown to me. What is a bottled thick meat sauce? Or even Condensed Mock Turtle Soup? I get the shin bones, but you just can't go buy meat bones any more. I can tell you this much, after looking over those recipes I am so glad that we have blenders and food processors. I mean, I know what a food sieve is and remember using one to help my mom make grape jelly with it. From those brief experiences, I am so totally thankful that I don't have to sieve my bananas each time I use them for bread. Also thankful I don't have to make broth all the time. It was also a little humorous to see the description of the can sizes, jarred food sizes as compared with today's version. Of course, seeing the recipe ingredients - bottled milk - really sent me back to when we had milk delivery. Then, when we moved to a new town, we first rented a house way out in the country. A dairy was just down the road and dad would take us there to get milk, took the glass bottles back to refill them. But that was in the 70's. I imagine that in the 40's, it was all delivered if you lived in town. I almost forgot, the most wonderful thing about that cook book...found three of my most favorite recipes that my wonderful aunt would always make. All these years we were told they were her secret recipes. When ever she would give us a copy of her recipe she would leave one little something or other out so that when we made it, the recipe just didn't quite taste like hers. I am just in awe that after all these years I have them now, and didn't even know that we had them the whole time. I can tell I am going to be busy next week.

Enough of memory lane. I could easily get lost in that era, think sometimes my former life was during the pioneer days or the depression. You know, Little House on the Prairie meets Walton's. Life was simpler then, more patriotic, more faith, everyone helped each other. Right was right and wrong was wrong and every one knew which was which. Your life was built around God, family, country. Women didn't wear pants, mom's were home, life was just simpler.

Well, tomorrow is Mother's Day. Of course, once again, my husband has not planned anything. I will never forget the Mother's Day that I was 9 months pregnant with my oldest son, big as a barn, and sweet hubby goes to the store for some milk on Saturday evening, comes home with diet chocolates. Yeah, you got it. At any rate, their is a little whisper that the same oldest son is bringing me fried chicken tomorrow. I had told them that I would rather have their dad go get some KFC as opposed to going out to eat. But not really sure about that. I just know that I am not doing a thing in that kitchen but pointing tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping in to visit. Check back and see what else I find in that cook book, may even make a few of those dishes. Will try to get some photos of my little attempt at container gardening. Now that I found one of the recipes my aunt would make, that calls for lots of tomatoes, I may have to try and plant some more some where.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


It has been hot here. In the high 90's the last few days, supposed to cool off a touch on Saturday and through the first part of the week. That will be nice. At any rate, we have not gotten the air conditioning going yet so it has been pretty miserable by evening. My bedroom and kitchen both face the west and really heat up. So, I changed up the menu plan a bit to try and reduce the heat in the kitchen of an evening, by not using the oven.

Last night, hubby surprised me and took us out to eat to get a break from the heat. I had decided last night that I would pay back the kindness and make a nice meal, instead of the quick cook casseroles I had been making. I used the crock pots so as to not heat up the kitchen.
Cooked roast beef, baby red potatoes and green beans. Man the house smelled incredible all day. It was time to eat, you see my plate, and I ate all alone. Hubby told me when he got home he had football meeting to go to, daughter Miss J opted to accept a friend's invitation to go eat at the bowling alley. Go figure!

Oh well, such is my life around here. LOL

I finally got through all my receipts today and have finished my price book. I looked at a lot of different kinds that people had made, then I came up with what I think will work for me. It is a small green binder that is just the size to hold index cards. I bought colored cards and used white as well, breaking my groceries in to about 14 categories. I figured this would be easier for me to carry with me, which is what I want to do so I can check to see if the sale price is really a great price while in the store. It also has a pocket that I can put my coupons in.

The last big grocery shop I did, spent about 4 hours preparing for it. Wrote a list of what I needed to buy, different list for different stored based on sale fliers. This worked out really well as I also wrote which items on my list I had coupons for, how much the coupon was for, and exactly what I had to buy to use the coupon. OH MY GOSH was that really helpful for me as I got to one store and found out that their regular price was cheaper than the sale price. My last trip I spent a tad over $200.00 after my coupons. I actually saved about $75 between the coupons and shopping sales. I had estimated that I bought enough to make my rough meal list for 4 weeks, maybe 6. Well, I have done beyond wonderful with all my planning. We get paid again this week end and so far it is a very short list for the grocery shopping next week. This is so wonderful, will give me extra money from the grocery budget to take advantage of any sales. Only need milk and bread and of course toilet paper. I am really digging this, finally feel like I am getting my act together. I already have next week's menu plan ready to go, have a few more weeks worked up, but that will depend on the sales. Sure makes my life easier when I know what is cooking a head of time. Of course, since I changed up the menu and no one was home to eat it, there will be left overs for the week end whether they like it or not.

On to other topics. I have determined a way to have a small garden. I have no room in the back, it is all pool, hot tub and cement. Having very narrow flower beds that the four dogs love to roll around it. The front yard is not much better as in my neighborhood all the fruits of my labor would literally walk away. Because of the dogs, don't think the raised bed or square foot method would work well for me, and there is the issue of only patches of full sun. Not to be defeated, I do have my three topsy turvy planters. I have lots of places for hanging baskets that I can plant herbs in as well. We have a rotted out BBQ that really needed to be hauled off that I went out and took a second long look at. While it is no good for cooking, I have come up with the plan to use it for some tomatoes and peppers. Tomatoes in the pit part, potted peppers to sit on the little shelves that are for holding platters and such. I will post photos as I get it all going and growing. Will be buying plants on Saturday to get started.

I am too tired tonight, but tomorrow evening will get the embroidery machine out for a bit to embroidery a couple of names on the corners of some little baby blanket animals. A dear lady at our church is going through chemo for breast cancer and they are for her grand babies.

Thanks for stopping in and check back soon for recipes I am going to post.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I first have to say that I am so relived, happy, thrilled, to hear the news that Bin Laden is dead. I don't know if it will really make any difference with the unrest that is going on, but if feels like a just closure for Sept. 11 and the devastation that was caused to so many innocent families as a result of that attack.

It has been a really long time since I have posted a menu plan. Too long. I will keep this short since I am trying to finish up a few things and actually get to bed at a decent time for a change. I have a to do list a mile long this week.

Menu Plan:

Mon. - Chicken Enchiladas
Tue. - Tater Casserole
Wed. - Chicken Parmesan
Thu. - Tamale Pie
Fri. - Green Chile Bake
Sat. - Smothered Steak
Sun. - Mother's Day - hoping to not cook.

For more great menu ideas check out what others have posted as part of Meal Plan Monday at Organized Junkie which is a great site for all kinds of inspiration.

If I can get my camera going, will have some photos of the dishes. Will post some recipes over the week as well. I haven't quite gotten all the sides decided either, but will have it worked out before long. Am also hoping to post the cost of the meals as I work it out. Am building a price book based off of receipts so should be able to make some accurate accounting of the meals.