- Turkey (of course)
- Mom's stuffing
- Cranberry Bread
- Cranberry Sauce
- Grandmom's Dinner Rolls
- Butternut Squash (Tanya is in charge and I'm not sure what's going in to it ... it will be good for sure!)
- Spinach with crumbled bacon and blue cheese
- Green Beans with shallots, lemon zest, garlic and parsley
- Apple Pie with vanilla icecream
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Grandma's Secret Cranberry Bread Recipe
- 2 C Flour
- 1 C Sugar
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/4 C butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 t grated orange peel
- 3/4 C orange juice
- 1 1/2 C chopped cranberries
- We have always added in 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts when you add the berries.
Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice. Stir until evenly moist (but don't over mix). Fold in berries. Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean. (in buttered loaf pan)
Other quick bread tips I've learned:
- Doneness tips: when there is a crack at the top of the loaf and edges are starting to pull away from the pan.
- Leave cooked bread in pan for 10 minutes until removing from pan.
Friday, November 21, 2008
- 1 1/2 loaves of Arnold's classic white bread (it's a big ole long sleeve). (the bread should be a firm white bread) Tear the slices into more or less bite size pieces. Mom doesn't cut ... no, no, no! She tears. Set these "crumbs" out the night before.
- 1 Cup butter
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 1/2 t salt
- 1 t pepper
- 1 T dried sage (I tried fresh once and it didn't taste the same ... at all. Not sure why.)
- 1/2 t poultry seasoning (comes in a box with a picture of a turkey on it)
Melt butter in a large skillet. Add veggies and herbs - saute until soft. Mix the bread crumbs with the veggies (always a bit tricky and messy). Let cool before stuffing. Good thing to make first thing in the a.m. -- it smells wonderfully. Mom always has an extra side dish of the stuffing cooking in the oven. At some point when everything is getting close to done, she takes some of the juice from the turkey pan and squirts it all over the dish of stuffing. Bake any extra stuffing in a covered buttered baking dish at 375 degrees until heated through (take the cover off about 10 minutes before it's done) and top is golden, 30 to 40 minutes.
Use the left overs to make the Turkey Hash I made last year! YUMOLA! Whew.
Here is a picture of one of my cold frame windows. BBbbrrrrrrrr . . .
My cold-loving kale is looking very droopy and is planning a trip to Virginia.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
- Put a large pot of water for pasta on the stove. Throw in 1 T of salt into the water.
- Drizzle the bottom of a large saute pan generously with olive oil - set stove to med-low heat. (don't skimp on the olive oil -- it builds up the good HDL cholesterol in your body and tastes yummy)
- Crush, slice or chop 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic into the olive oil. Experiment with how you like your garlic best. Do not use that horrific chopped garlic from a jar (ever).
- Saute garlic until it's getting soft and translucent, but not browning. Stir around from time to time while you do other things. (no biggie if it gets golden a little this time - don't stress)
- Add about 1/2 t salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes if your serving children, 1/2 - 1 t if you enjoy a little kick in your marinara (which I do).
- When your garlic is softish turn up your heat to medium high and dump about a 32 oz of plum tomatoes (or a thawed 1 quart bag from the freezer) into the pan. The tomatoes should spatter like crazy. That's good. If you have a spatter screen, put it over the pan, or partially cover the pan with the top to cut down on clean up. Keep the heat up on medium high to break the tomatoes down. Stir from time to time to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. If your tomatoes have the the skins on them still, I usually just tong them out of the pan one by one after they fall off each tomato to save time.
- **right about now, put the pasta in the boiling water** (cook pasta al-dente because you will be cooking it more in the saute pan later.)
- Smash tomatoes with a potato masher if they need to be broken down further. Your marinara should be thickening up. At some point after the tomatoes have broken down, you will want to turn the heat down to medium.
- Just before (not sooner) add a ladle full (or so) of the starchy pasta water to your marinara sauce. This will make the sauce cling to the pasta. Reserve a little (maybe 1/2 a cup) of the pasta water in case your sauce gets a little to dry or thick.
- Dump a big ole bunch (maybe 1 cup of leaves before they are chopped - I like even more) of fresh chopped basil and or parsley in the the marinara. (I usually do one or the other, but it's up to you.)
- Drain your cooked pasta and dump the whole thing into your saute pan.
- Flip and toss your pasta around in the saute pan to coat it with the marinara. If you need to, add in a little of the reserved pasta water. Maybe add a little more olive oil -- drizzle it around. Sometimes I grate parm cheese into the pan at this point too.
- Serve with freshly grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese.
- 1 quart tomatoes or 32 oz can of plum tomatoes (include the juice in the can)
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 1T plus 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 - 1 t red pepper flakes
1 Cup (before they are chopped) fresh basil or parsley leaves.
- About 3/4 lb pasta
I'll leave you with this picture of some herbs and apples that I've dehydrated. As you may remember, I had a bad experience trying to dry tomatoes in the late summer here in humid New England. They all got mold. So, I purchased a dehydrator. It didn't dawn on me until late in the season that I could dehydrate my own herbs as well. Next year I will dehydrate a lot more.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
These actually look smaller than they really are
Presenting ... the first of my garlic shoots. Isn't she gorgeous? :)
Monday, November 17, 2008
- At the same time every week (whatever works best for your schedule) decide what you will be serving for dinner.
- Consider what days you will be able to make something more involved, and what days you will need something quick. Consider the "season" that you are in, and what is realistic for your schedule -- understanding that planning gives you a little more time to make things happen.
- Some people like to rotate their menu over a two week period -- so you have 14 things and you just keep rotating over and over again. This requires less "thinking about it". When you get sick of one dish or another -- switch that one meal out.
- Some people like to plan their meals by "type" just to give them some guidelines and make it quicker and simpler to plan. Monday is Soup Night, Tuesday is Pasta Night, Wednesday is Sandwich Night, etc., etc.
- Keep in mind that if you plan ahead, you will be able to cook more things from scratch. Such as beans -- in the morning throw them in a bowl of water and they will be sufficiently soaked and ready for cooking by late afternoon.
- Create a grocery list from your planned menu.
- Go to the grocery store only ONCE a week. This will save you time and money! And don't go roaming through the aisles after you have everything "to see if there is anything else you need". This is a marketeers dream come true. Prepare to spend an extra $50. Don't do it. As soon as you have everything, leave at once!
- Only buy what's on your list. (If you hope to save, give and/or stick to your budget this will be a huge help.)
Here are the top reasons why you should plan out your meals:
- You will save time at the grocery store.
- You will save money at the grocery store.
- You won't have that blank stare on your face when you enter the grocery store as you panic asking yourself -- OK, What am I going to cook this week?
- You won't have a stress attack trying to decide what you are going to cook this week as you try to keep your children from running wild in the aisles.
- You won't find yourself panicked as afternoon approaches and you still haven't thought about what you are going to whip up for the family.
- You won't find yourself rushing to get things done at the last minute because you planned for a meal that you didn't have time for b/c you picked something that sounded yummy at the last minute.
- You will save by being able to cook more from scratch.
- You will buy less take out and pizza.
For the Working Mother: The comment below was left by my friend an neighbor Katie who is very organized (she should be writing this) and works several days a week. She had some great suggestions, so I thought I would enclose them.
Katie Wrote: I work several days a week and have 2 young gals at home. My friends tease me, but what honestly works for me is that I plan our dinner menu for the week and actually write what we're having on the calendar (I'm sure you've seen this in my kitchen). Anyways, it helps me with grocery shopping and getting my family's meals ready as quickly as I can. There are always those occasions when we deviate from what was planned, but I try to stick to it as much as possible, if even for my own sanity during the evening hours. On the days that I work I always plan simple meals that I can pull together quickly like pancakes, sausage, fruit; pizza and Caesar salad; grilled cheese and tomato soup; or burgers on the grill with raw veggies, like cucumbers and carrot sticks. I love to cook and try new recipes and tend to do that on weekends and on my days home from work when I have a little bit more time. If, for example, I know I'm cooking chicken then I'll cook extra 'just with a little olive oil' and use it for soup or enchiladas the next night. When I make meatballs or spaghetti sauce I always make enough to freeze for another night. And when I make homemade banana, cranberry, or pumpkin breads, I always make two and freeze one. As a kid I didn't like leftovers; as a working mom - LOVE them! I cooked a chicken Monday night with all the fixins like stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes, and butternut squash. Of course there were extras and so I buttered a small casserole dish and layered the stuffing, potatoes, chicken, and gravy. My hubby was home yesterday so he just popped it in the oven and presto dinner was done and actually tasted better the next night. Hope some of my ideas are helpful!
For an At Home Mother with Young Children: For more thought provoking ideas (in case you missed this) my Sister-in-Law Tanya made this comment about how meal planning has helped her to simplify and organize her evening routine -- as she has a 3 month old, a 2 year old and a 4 year old!
Tanya Wrote: I have a new meal planning system that has been really helping me to simplify. I love to cook, but I am a creative type and tend to be indecisive and rather prone to last minute inspirations. Considering I have a 4, a 2, and a 3 month old I needed to do something different!!! I was overwhelmed at the grocery store and could barely function while managing the little ones. My daughter was over sleeping for preschool because we were eating dinner so late. Sandy sat down with me and helped me come up with an emergency plan designed for my current situation, but as I have been doing it I think it would be great for anyone trying to simplify. The basic idea is that I have a category of meal that I make for respective nights of the week. For example Monday is soup night, Tuesday is "out" night, weds is pasta night, Thursday is meat night, and Friday is sandwich night (paninis make it a bit more interesting). Weekends are more spontaneous. It makes planning and going to the grocery store so much easier. Out night is supposed to be either take-out, or eat-out but has ended up being left-over night. Thursday is my usual shopping day so I can get fresh meat or fish. For now I am limiting myself to some very simple recipes in each category. I have not found it at all boring. In fact by limiting myself I have been more enthusiastic about cooking.
Friday, November 14, 2008
What is an environmentally friendly parent to do when it comes to packing school lunches?
The good news is that being environmentally friendly and saving often do go hand in hand.
- Wrap all sandwiches, breads, carrot sticks, grapes in wax paper -- just like the "old days". Waxed paper is compostable. My 9 year old is well trained and brings all compostable things home in his lunch box. What a guy! Plastic baggies are more expensive, are toxic to recycle (although always better to recycle) and let's face it -- go right into the trash at the school.
How to wrap a sandwich in waxed paper
- Bake "quick breads" as a great part of a pack lunch. Quick breads are great ways to get healthy vitamins into your children. From carrot, to zucchini, to pumpkin bread -- it's good stuff. Wrap in waxed paper.
- If you pack a dessert for your children, bake cookies and freeze them. Take them out of the freezer one at a time -- they will be thawed out by lunch time.
- Use older cloth napkins (maybe with a stain or tear or two) rather than paper napkins. I won't be devastated if it doesn't come home -- but once your children know the routine, they put it back in their lunch box just like any other reusable food container. (No need to continually buy paper napkins.)
- Go to a thrift store and purchase mis-matched forks and spoons for them to take in their lunches when needed. Again, if you lose one, you won't be devastated. So far, all of mine have come home. (A much cheaper option than continually buying plastic ware.)
- Pack whole fruits like apples, peaches, pears. Sometimes I wrap the fruit in an old cloth napkin if the fruit is fragile. Train your children to bring home the apple / pear cores so that they can go into the compost. If necessary write "our family composts" on the inside of the lunch box. At first, my (now) 9 year old got pressure to throw stuff away, but he stuck up for himself and explained that we compost!
- I pack hot soups a lot for my children. They bring it in low wide mouthed thermos. So healthy for them and what's better than soup on a fall / winter day?
- I was sending my children (who can handle glass carefully) to school with my glass food storage containers. I finally got two complaints in one week from the schools so I ordered stainless food containers from life without plastic. They are adorable and my children seemed to work them just fine. (4 and 9 year old) If you don't know already, I'm anti-plastic. :)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Window Cleaner: Put 1/8 cup white vinegar to 1 cup water into a recycled spray bottle -- shake to mix it up and you're ready to go! Frankly, I don't measure the vinegar -- I just glug a bit into a spray bottle, fill the rest with water and call it a day -- it works very well and doesn't fume me to death. (Ok, I'm being a wee bit dramatic -- but try using the vinegar spray for a month then go back to Windex and you'll see what I mean.)
Homemade Furniture Polish: 2 t Olive oil, 1/4 C white distilled vinegar, 20 drops pure essential lemon oil, and water. Put olive oil, vinegar and essential lemon oil into a recycled spray bottle 22 ounces or so. Then, fill up to the top with water. Voila! Your done. Shake, spray and polish.
(Thanks Tanya for the above info)
Simple Powdered Laundry Soap:
As a footnote when you grate the soap, grate it small. I understand that you can use Dr. Bronner's bar soap. This soap is fine for front loading washing machines.
Link it at Raingarden here
Link it at Plain Old Kristi here
Liquid Laundry Soap:
This is the soap I'm using at the moment. It's working very well with my front loading washing machine and it's very inexpensive.
Link it at Plain Old Kristi here
Dishwasher Soap: I'm using this now and let me tell you it's maybe 10 minutes to make (including getting out the boxes of ingredients) it's very inexpensive (again) and works well. I can't be quite as aggressive (I don't wash my dishes before putting them into the dishwasher -- don't get me started! Just go ahead and wash them ... ) in loading my dishwasher, but for the price and the environment (most regular dishwashing detergents still have phosphates in them) it's worth it. Link it at Plain Old Kristi here
To clean my house from floors to bathrooms I use Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds. I've been using the first container of it that I purchased for six months or so and I've hardly made a dent in it. You use only 1 t per gallon of water. I also made a spray out of it for the shower and bathtubs. About two teaspoons in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water -- that's it. Very inexpensive.
Now, to more newsy things ...
My friend Michelle came over today to teach me how to make egg rolls which she'd learn how to make from her Filipino Sister-in-Law. I in-turn taught her how to make my pie crust -- which she'd been struggling with. (I think I need to make a video b/c she's not the only one. Once you get the hang of it though, it's easy, yummy and better for you than butter.) What a fun day we had -- cooking away while our children (who happen to be almost exactly matched in age and adore each other ... wonderful!) played both inside and outside on this beautiful fall Veterans Day. For dinner, to go with the egg rolls (which were made with the local Rehoboth hamburger that I purchased last month) I will be making fried rice with the broccoli and bok choy that I just picked in my little garden. Yumola!
AND ... Our new wood stove insert was installed today. Wood stoves today have to pass new emissions standards, so a wood stove is actually far more efficient and environmentally friendly than using your fireplace. I'd had it last year when our oil bill went close to $600 in one month with the thermostat set at 66 degrees! As we speak, it's 71 degrees inside the house and in the 30's outside. Yipee. I turned down my thermostat to 60 degrees!
Ok, time to get busy. Enjoy the pictures!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Dulce's Chicken Soup
Now this soup I haven't ever seen being cooked from the very beginning to the very end. But, when my Mother-in-Law is cooking I watch her like a hawk. My version isn't quite as good as hers, but it's dern close.
- Drizzle bottom of pan with olive oil.
- Put about a tablespoon of salt and a shake (just a small one) of paprika into the pan.
- Thinly slice two onions (btwn 1/8-1/4" wide) and throw in the bottom of the large pan.
- Cook onions over medium heat until they are translucent.
- Put two chicken breasts WITH BONE IN into the pan.
- Fill pan with water (not so full that it will slosh out when boiling)
- Bring water to a boil, reduce heat slightly to maintain a rolling boil - not a simmer.
- Cook for about 1 hour. (you can double check chicken by cutting a breast open and making sure the liquid in there is running clear ... ie: without blood or pinky color)
- Meanwhile, take about 3 medium sized carrots - cut into 1/8" slices, then chop small with a big 'ole knife several times changing the direction of your knife several times until the pieces are both tiny-tiny to the size of a pea or so. (My MIL does this all slowly by hand with one small knife -- it's not just the Chinese that feel the way things are cut is important!)
- Take chicken and bones out.
- The easiest next step is use a hand held blender -- stick it in the pan and churn up the onions.
- Dump the cut carrots into the pot -- continue cooking at a rolling boil.
- Pull chicken off the bones and shred pulling apart with a fork ... kind of like string cheese ... line up the "strings" then cut across chopping pieces into 1/4-1/2 inch lengths. (see pictures)
- Dump about 1/2 lb (which is about 1/2 box) of "Acini di Pepe" pasta into the soup. This is the little pasta that looks like little balls that you find in Italian Wedding Soup. My In-Laws also use regular pasta, which they break off into about 1" lengths when they drop it into the soup pot.
- After the pasta is done cooking (about 10 minutes) put the cut chicken into the pot.
My Mother-in-Law on what was one of her happiest days to date ... the birth of Ripley. We were able to be in the Alternative Birthing Center with our Midwife Silvia -- Our families were in the living room next door, so this picture was taken just a few minutes after Ripley was born. Joy.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Now, other business, two days ago, just shy of Love Cook Create Knit's first birthday I was given my first blog award from The Domestic Goddess! Thanks Dawn! Her dry sense of humor alone is worth the visit. So, as it goes with these awards I am supposed to recommend and award a favorite blog or two of mine, which I will do with pleasure. However, I cannot insist that they in turn post the award or "pass it on" just because that type of pressure on someone else makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm sorry, I hope I'm not upsetting the blogisphere. Apologies.
So, thanks Domestic Goddess! Happy Birthday Love Cook Create Knit! And, love and thanks to Raingarden and Plain Old Kristi for great information and sharing your journey online. Be well! -Sandy
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Confession: The first time I read through Simplify Your Life I was working as a single mom and ... had a cleaning lady. Since then I've gotten remarried, had another son, made the decision to stay home for both of my boys (I was at home for my oldest before he was in school) and returned to cleaning my home on my own. So I've never worked out a proper routine. Before life with a cleaning lady my routine was no routine -- clean when I looked around and said "Damn, this place is a pit!" Blush, it's true. Kristi posted her daily cleaning routine recently and it got me to thinking about my short comings in this area. What I have been doing over the past year is blitzing the whole house in one day while both of the boys (9 & 4) are in school. The problem there is that a) Things come up, and then lo and behold, the house doesn't get clean. b) To do a really good job I can't get it all done in one day. c) Our house isn't that big - dining room, living room, kitchen, laundry room, finished basement, 2 1/2 baths, 4 bedrooms - if I attack the whole house thoroughly, plus deal with children and dinner, I'm ready to collapse by 8 pm ... and I'm physically fit!! Here is what I'm working on:
- Get up before your children (if you have them, and if at all possible). Drink your coffee or tea, get yourself together, get ready for your day, get your act together. This goes at the top of all lists -- it's a huge help in all things. My children get up at 7am (no one is allowed out of their rooms sooner ... except for bathroom, etc., if they can't get back to sleep, they can read a book.) and I get up at 5:30am. I've been working on creating this habit and now I get up at that time automatically. It makes for a much calmer, happier morning routine for everyone. ... I digress ...
- Make a list of all of the housework that you expect to be done.
- Create a daily cleaning ritual. Top things that you always do EVERY DAY. Currently I'm trying Kristi's routine. Link it HERE.
- Pick one day during the week to tackle the big cleaning projects.
- Select certain cleaning projects to do on different days throughout the week.
- Select certain cleaning projects to do at the beginning of the month that need to be done once a month.
- Stream line your house. Make it CLEANING FRIENDLY. Position things so it's easy to get your vacuum in (like how your coffee table is positioned - how shelves are positioned). Get rid of unnecessary clutter. Decorating is cute and all, but don't go overboard with nick-knacks that collect dust and make cleaning take an eternity. (sorry nick-knack lovers) Down size your piles -- like books that I keep under my coffee table ... the more that are there, the longer it takes to clean. Keep it simple.
- Give your children jobs! They can help ... even the small ones ... and it's important to teach them early to create good habits. (Some come out naturally neat, some come out naturally messy. I have one boy that's like Pigpen from the Peanuts, and one that's like my Portuguese Mother-in-Law -- it's genetics, the boy is just neat!)
Here is my list (a work in progress) of housework that needs to be done on a weekly basis. I'm still working out how I will break this down throughout the week (more on that later ... after I work it out :) ). It's a good idea to assign days to do certain things. I know that sounds really psycho OCD, but the idea here is to make it a habit, and make sure it actually happens. In this way, schedules help. You plan ahead and create a realistic schedule that will work for you ... and therefore the housework will actually get done:
- Wake up before your kids. (did I mention that already?)
- Vacuum thoroughly.
- Clean bathrooms thoroughly. (When I say thoroughly, I mean -- we are not talking spot clean, I'm talking scrubbing every inch of the place with elbow grease -- and rags of course -- so that Emily Post could walk in a feel proud.)
- Wash Floors and Walls of high traffic areas thoroughly on your hands and knees while scrubbing hard.
- Dust all of the furniture.
- Change all of the beds. I have my 9 year old strip the beds and plunk the sheets in the laundry room. Start a load of laundry and (I do dry these in the dryer unless I can dry them outside in the fresh air) they will be dry and ready to go by the time you're 1/2 way through your cleaning projects.
- Wash windows with hand prints and dog nose prints on them. (grrrrrrrr)
- Empty waste baskets (this should be done when you're done with a bag of kitchen trash which for us is once a week b/c we recycle and compost -- before you bundle it up go around and gather up trash from waste baskets around the house.
- Tidy up the FRIDGE.
- Iron. (This is an area I struggle with.)
- Tackle a project on your project list. This is a Simplify Your Life idea that is fabulous. I'll talk more about projects later -- but for starters tackle something relatively small that's driving you bananas, and get it done!
Did I miss anything?
I will post more on my daily cleaning routine later ... this is getting long!
The whole idea is for this plan to become routine and manageable. What works for you? Do you have any advice for me as I go to make my cleaning schedule?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Victor's younger sister Michelle and Mom, Dulce.
Friends Vivian and Michelle ... and more importantly (to Ripley) mother's of Kaleab and Ian.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
My precious boy Benjamin with the Recycling Bin that we made together. He gave a reusable shopping bag to each house he stopped at.
Spencer (3 mos). It's hard being Piglet.
Cousins forever: Dylan, Orion and Benjamin
My BIL Glen with "I Love Shay" on his throat. What a husband.
Our neighbor Michelle tending to our large crowd.