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Archive for September, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Sweet Babboo!

September 29th, 2010 at 04:30 pm

My husband recently celebrated his 64th birthday. On the morning, I got out my Beatles CD and played, "When I'm 64." When I posted on Facebook that I did that, many of my friends asked different lines from the song. It's interesting the things that tie us together!

We drove to a small town near us called Arthur, Illinois. Arthur is considered the home of many Amish families. A couple of friends gave my husband a gift card to a restaurant called Yoder's and we had lunch there courtesy of these friends. My husband loves his food and enjoyed the broasted chicken and mashed potatoes (real ones) with homemade gravy.

We then went to a place called Beachy's which sells products in bulk. It is also run by a local and they have cheeses made there as well as baked goods. We stocked up on some cheese, and rice, and different flours. I like to experiment with different flours and since one can buy different sizes, I didn't have to purchase a 4 or 5 pound bag of a flour I'm not sure I'll use. I also purchased some sausage ground with sage. We tried it the last time and it was delicious. We purchased a loaf of bread -- oatmeal -- and a huge draw is when they bake things there, they put the ingredients -- no preservatives. Just basics like flour, oil, butter, oatmeal, yeast, and water. The same with the noodles.

For dinner we also went out to our favorite Italian restaurant run locally. The owner picked out our steaks which were delicious. The server was generous and had bought a birthday ballon for my husband to put on the table.

We like purchasing items and eating at restaurants that are owned by local people. Although when traveling we often gravitate towards chains, at home, we like supporting our own.

As for my hubby, he enjoyed his birthday because he chose where we went and had some delicious food and many people thought of him. It doesn't get much better than that!

Fall Fixins

September 27th, 2010 at 01:42 pm

Today actually feels like fall in Central Illinois. We had upper 80s and 90 degree temps last week, but suddenly some of the leaves are starting to turn and it is a comfortable 65 today.

One thing I've been looking forward to is finding some soups and stews that I can fix ahead of time and then heat up when I get home from work. I was reading "Country Living" and they had a turkey chili that looked hearty as well as "lighter" because it is made with turkey. I haven't tried it yet -- I just found it this weekend, but I'm putting it in my file of "need to try soon".

Turkey Chili

2 T olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 t salt
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1/3 c tomato sauce
2 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T sugar
2 1/2 t ground chili powder
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 1/4 t ground cumin
1 15 ounce can each of these types of beans: pinto, kidney, and black beans, drained and rinsed

In a large pot over medium high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brown turkey, breaking up with a wooden spoon as meat cooks. Season with salt. Using a slotted spoon, remove turkey and reserve; discard any liquid.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, peppers, sugar, and spices using wooden spoon to break up tomatoes. Add reserved turkey and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Add beans, stirring gently, and simmer 15 more minutes.

Doesn't this sound like a great fall-winter meal with some crusty bread?

Tasty Tomato Pie

September 26th, 2010 at 04:44 pm

I went to one of my favorite places yesterday -- the library -- and checked out a few magazines. Although I'm a month behind, the price is right, and I enjoy the fact that I don't have to deal with storing them or disposing of them (or recycling) when I'm done -- I just return them.

I have been on a tomato kick and was delighted when I found this recipe for tomato pie in the August Woman's Day. The recipe said this with a green salad makes it a great duo. I would agree.

Southern Tomato Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust (from a 15 oz box of 2)
1 cup light mayonnaise
8 oz Cheddar, shredded (2 cups)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4cup sliced scallions
1 1/3 ripe plum tomatoes (8-10 medium size), sliced

Place one oven rack in bottom position. Heat oven to 350.

Line a 9 in pie plate with crut. Crimp edges with a fork. Prick bottom and sides of dough in several places with a fork.

Bake 10-12 minutes until crust looks slightly puffed and dry.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, 1 1/4 cups of the cheese and the pepper
Sprinkle bottom of partially baked crust with 1/3 up of the remaining cheese. Top with 1/4 of the tomatoes (about 12 or 13 slices). Sprinkle with 1 T of scallions. Spoon 1/3 cup of the mayonnaise mixture on top in dollops. Continue to layer tomatoes, scallions and mayonnaise mixture to make e more layers. Sprink top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Bake 30-35 minutes until crust is golden and juices are bubbling. Remove to rack to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.


Sound good? I didn't have plum tomatoes, but believe in using what you have. I am just thinking how good this would be with different types of cheeses. And since plum tomatoes are available year round, this might be a great recipe for one of those days when you hunger for a tomato and don't have a good vine ripened one available.

Customer Service Rant #2

September 22nd, 2010 at 05:02 pm

I'm sorry if it seems I'm beating a dead horse...I'd much rather be beating something else and I'm not talking a drum.

I received my Hewlett Packard notebook back after the second go around with service. I turned it on when I got it home and it still isn't fixed. It was late so I didn't call. Seems Fed Ex delivers when I'm at work. I can't fault them --they are just doing their job. But it means we then have to go and pick it up after a certain time. Which we did.

Last night I was late getting home and too tired to deal with customer service. Tonight I called early enough and got a nice gal named Pam. She was very helpful and had me do this and that and it still didn't work. She wanted me to take the back off and I balked. I figure if the service center didn't fix it, my tinkering with the insides isn't going to either. I was polite when I told her this and she said then it would have to be sent back in. I expressed my frustration and she came back and said according to protocol it has to be sent in three times and then if it still comes back not working, then there's the possibility of getting it replaced, but it isn't a sure thing. I told her I had to problems with her, but I would like to talk to her supervisor.

Well, I did talk to the supervisor. He said is name was Lander. He read me the protocol. I am a teacher and people read differently than they talk. Maybe he figured he'd dazzle me with baloney or something. I waited until he was finished and said I didn't agree with his protocol and that I am one very frustrated customer. He was a bit flippant by this point. I asked what HP was going to do to make me happy and he said I would have to send it in.

Then he informed me that I shouldn't be upset because it took less than a week to get the computer returned to me. Are these folks nuts or what? Yes, it was less than a week, but it wasn't fixed. I pointed that out to him and he said, but why are you upset when it took less than a week.

I asked if he had a supervisor and he said yes. I asked to speak to his supervisor and he told me they don't take phone calls. Isn't that rich?

I told him I would be putting all this on Facebook and my blog and I asked him nicely to document it. He said OK and then thanked me for calling HP and hung up.

Gosh, just makes me want to run out and buy another HP....NOT!

Turkey Time

September 20th, 2010 at 05:35 pm

It's not Thanksgiving, but turkey and mashed potatoes are pretty good anytime.

I put a turkey breast in the Crockpot with onion, celery, garlic, rosemary, and some pepper with some water. It was all white meat. Yum.

I fixed mashed potatoes with Yukon Gold potatoes and whipping cream. Double yum.

We bought fresh green beans at a farmer's market this weekend and I fixed them over the weekend. I heated them up ... made my husband very happy.

It might not be Thanksgiving, but it was a good time for turkey.

And it's never a bad time to count one's blessings, is it?

Lunch Conversations

September 16th, 2010 at 04:24 pm

Currently I work at 4 schools. And every lunch period is different. This is not a judgment, but perception data.

The buildings where the majority of the staff tend to eat what tastes good to them, even if it isn't healthy tends to have more young people on staff.

Then the buildings where the majority of the staff is older are looking at sodium, carbs, and calories.

It's pretty interesting to see what people bring for lunch and then what they have to say about it.

My lunch fare is pretty boring at times...lately it's been a peanut butter and something sandwich. It can be jelly or honey and I even tried Nutella. On days when I can't refrigerate my lunch, I try to take things that won't spoil in an insulated lunch bag. Often times I bring leftovers, but now that hubby is retired, he often gets the leftovers for his lunch.

Some people bring the same thing every day. When I think of how many years my dad took the same thing in his lunch bucket...I don't know how he did it. Maybe he didn't think eating was a big thing...just something to keep going.

I like a little variety...maybe that's why I like studying what people bring to lunch.

What was my lunch you ask? Today it was slices of green bell pepper, a slice of tomato, cottage cheese, applesauce, grapes,and string cheese with a Thermos of water. You see, I'm trying to watch what I eat...I'm one of the oldsters!

The Gift Goes On...

September 14th, 2010 at 04:42 pm

Sandi Patti has a Christmas song called, "The Gift Goes On."

(See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iA96s9QQ8E)

The basic premise is we were given a great gift and we then live joyfully and in a giving spirit.

OK, it's not Christmas...but I read an email from a friend of mine that made me stop and take a breath.

He's superintendent of a Chicagoan surburban school district. One of his teachers has been diagnosed with ALS. She's only 50. He said he wanted to keep her working as long as possible for her sake ... both money as well as doing what she loves...teaching.

Fellow staff members are stepping up by helping with things to make her life easier. They are even collecting money to help with financial concerns.

But the most surprising thing I read was the school board told my friend to do whatever it takes to keep this gal working as long as she wants. So, he's been rearranging jobs and schedules to help her and keep the education of the students going.

Are you teary yet?

This school district is teaching a great gift of showing compassion and kindness...can you think of any better lesson for children to learn?

Fall Flavors

September 11th, 2010 at 01:32 pm

There's something about the approach of fall that makes me want to fix stews and soups.

Today I fixed chicken stew. I put a chicken in the Crockpot overnight with a few vegetables and herbs to season it and the broth. When I got up, I turned it off, let is cool,and then used the meat to make a couple of dishes, one of which was my stew.

My chicken stew is basically using whatever vegetables I have on hand. We went to local farmers' market this morning so I had a good assortment: zucchini, yellow squash, and radishes. We had carrots, celery, and onions here at home. I roasted them at 400 for about 35 minutes to put in the stew. I used some of the broth as well as adding some of my marinara sauce and then I added some lentils that I had poured boiling water over to sort of cook and then drained them. At the end I added some pasta. I had bowtie pasta so that's what I added, and let it all simmer for about 30 minutes on low. It's safely tucked into the fridge for a meal this week.

I decided to look for another stew recipe and this one sounded promising; I found it on all recipes.com.

Meatball Oven Stew

1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups tomato juice
12 fresh pearl onions, peeled
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
Directions
1.In a bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 12 meatballs. In an ovenproof Dutch oven, brown meatballs in oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Whisk flour into drippings until smooth. Gradually whisk in tomato juice; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return meatballs to pan. Add vegetables; stir gently. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.

When I was growing up I only knew about beef stew which I learned to make as a teenager because my dad loved it; hubby adores it now. I'm happy to learn about other stews.

Customer Service....Ha!

September 9th, 2010 at 06:11 pm

I am thoroughly ticked. A year ago I bought a HP Pavalion notebook to replace my very old desktop. I got the wifi so I could sit in the kitchen and work while my hubby is in the family room instead of being squirreled away in a back bedroom.

In August I had some trouble and called customer service because although the computer would turn on, nothing would come up on the screen. I pulled out the manual, did the troubleshooting tips, and it still didn't work. I called customer service. Forty five minutes later after having to take it apart and move the ram cards around, it worked. I was relieved.

Two weeks ago the same thing happened. I did the same thing with the Ram cards and nothing. I called and after an hour of doing this and that and even taking out the hard drive, they decided I needed to send it in. Of course the "sage" on the phone said she would email me the order number. I told her it would be a little hard for me to read it since I only had one computer and since it didn't work, it wouldn't do me much good. She read it off to me. Two days later I received the postage paid box and I packed it up and sent it to California to be fixed.

Yesterday it was returned. I was thrilled -- much quicker than I anticipated. I unpacked it, plugged it in and turned it on. It didn't work. I tried it 4 or 5 times. No good. I called customer service and they wanted me to do all these things...I had 24 hours to check it and here it was less than 24 hours and they didn't want to look up the stuff although I had the number for the repair. They wanted me to read them the serial number and model number and give them all this information I have given them twice before.

Then, they had me do a couple of things and it came on. He pronounced it fixed. I told him I disagreed -- I don't trust that it will work because it didn't work when I first tried it. I don't think I should have to wiggle this and unplug that every time I go to use it. He said he'd call me tonight at 7:30 to check on it.

We had open house at school tonight so after I got home, I immediately turned on the computer.

What a surprise...it didn't work. I left it on and went on to do some other things anticipating his phone call. An hour later, the computer came on. Gosh, isn't that convenient? And the clown from HP that was supposed to call me at 7:30 p.m. Central time? Well, apparently he has forgotten.

I am very disappointed with the fact my computer has had the same problem 3 times, they are reluctant to fix it, and they don't keep their promises. I do not believe I will ever purchase another computer bearing HP after this experience.

I know I am not alone in this frustrating experience. It used to be many businesses tried to please the customer. I know there are some people who took advantage of those companies, but for those of us who do not, I say my trust as a consumer has taken a hit.

Crock Pot Recipe Search

September 6th, 2010 at 08:30 am

The first part of this blog is going to be a rant...I'm sorry if it is tiresome!

I have been looking at Crockpot recipes. The true reason I do Crockpot is for the pleasure of putting something in it and then having it cook while I'm at work all day. However, some of the recipes that I'd like to try only cook for a few hours like 4 or 5. That's great if I were home, but doesn't help me much if I'm gone over 8 hours!

That being said, here's a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com that I might try this week:

Chicken and Fresh Tomato Stew

Ingredients
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomato
1 cup sliced carrot
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
water, as needed

Directions
Combine the potatoes, tomato, carrot, onion, and bay leaves in a slow cooker. Place the chicken breasts atop the vegetables. Stir the tomato sauce, chicken broth, and Italian seasoning in a bowl; pour over the chicken breasts. Add water as needed to assure the chicken is completely covered. Cook on Low for 6 hours. Remove the chicken breasts and cut into bite sized chunks and return to slow cooker. Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, another 1 to 2 hours.

On another note...hope you have a wonderful Labor Day!

Labor Day Menu

September 5th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

After looking at the grocery ads, I wonder if I'm missing something. According to the ads, I should be buying lots of picnic/cookout foods for the weekend. I realize that many families do have a cookout so that is to be expected.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I don't go with the norm. On a holiday weekend, I often fix things that I have time to fix instead of a typical menu. I did pull out a couple of steaks to defrost in the fridge. I probably won't be fixing them on the grill. I think I may sear the sides, then put them in the oven to finish with a little butter on top. I hate to admit this, but doing the charcoal grill for two little steaks often seems hardly worth the effort. Maybe if we had a bunch of folks it would seem worth it, but running in and out of the house seems to be a lot of labor.

I think we will have baked potatoes (I'm already using the oven) and possibly a vegetable casserole as well as sliced tomatoes.

Not fancy, but a treat -- we don't do steaks very often.

What is on your Labor Day Menu?

What would you change?

September 4th, 2010 at 06:57 am

Do you everlook back and regret things you did or didn't do? I was reading a devotion that talked about this.Are there things that you would change?

That was the question asked in a survey a number of years ago. The only thing special about the survey was the question was asked only to people who had celebrated their 95th birthday.

It was an open-ended question.

It could be answered any way they wished.

No religion was connected with it and there was no anticipated response -- just the question: Is there anything you'd like to change about your life?

Of all the different responses which came back, there were three appearing with great regularity.

Those three were

1. I would reflect more (the most popular answers);
2. I would risk more;
3. I would do more things which would live on after I'm dead.

Most of us are not yet 95 years old.

Even so, I wonder how would you answer that question?

I think I do need to reflect more. And I guess we all want to do things to make us remembered. However, I'm not much of a risk taker, so I'm not sure #2 would apply to me. But who knows, maybe as I get older, I'll take more risks.

So, how would you answer the question...what would you change?

Chicken, Cheese, and Rice

September 3rd, 2010 at 05:10 pm

You just can't beat a casserole with chicken, cheese, and rice. I made it up last weekend and stuck it in the fridge to heat up.

I wish I had the recipe because I just kind of made it up as I went along. I bought some whole grain rice and sauted it in a small bit of butter, then cooked it with the chicken broth I had from the chicken I fixed in the Crockpot. I let it cook for about 50 minutes...I guess simmer is the word...and the rice was done and had absorbed the broth.

I had roasted some vegetables for another meal so I threw those in with the shredded chicken. Then, I put the hot rice with all these in a greased casserole dish and cleaned out my fridge with the bits and pieces of different cheeses. All these melted into the rice. I then grated some cheese on top and stuck it in the fridge.

Tonight I came home, added about a tablespoon of milk to it so it wouldn't be dried out, and baked at 400 for about 40 minutes. It was amazing. Yum!

Hubby wanted to know where I got this recipe and I told him I just sort of combined stuff I had. He said it was good and to make it again sometime.

So, I guess you just can't beat chicken, cheese and rice.

Fashion Fast?

September 1st, 2010 at 03:17 pm

I read Mary Hunt's column yesterday about the fashion fast -- she went through her closet and picked out 6 items and wore them for a week. I guess it was to prove a point that we have too many clothes.

She cited some gal (I haven't taken the time to look up the blog) who wore the same dress for a year, just changing the accessories.

Interesting concept, eh?

I'm thinking that if I wore the same thing over and over I'd spend more in laundry than I'd save not buying a few more things.

Guess it's all a matter of priorities, eh?