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Archive for October, 2010

Hey, Herbert Hoover!

October 30th, 2010 at 06:42 am

Both my husband and I are history fans. My husband more so than I -- he loves those shows on the History Channel when they talk about tanks and go down to what kind of nuts and bolts were used to fasten things. Me, not so much.

However, we have a standing joke around our house. We talk about having a "Hoover dinner." Most Friday nights I get a whole frozen chicken and put it in the Crockpot to cook over night with some vegetables and herbs. Saturday morning we are awakened to the savory smell of chicken and broth. We figure Mr. Hoover would be proud of our chicken in the Crockpot and making two to three meals out of it.

Those folks who remember some historical phrases, when Herbert Hoover was running for president, he promised a chicken in every pot. Well, I have a chicken in my Crockpot so maybe Herbert would be proud!

To digress,I would have to say with the mudslinging and hate ads going on, I would like to go back to some of Herbert and FDR's phrases while running for election; our local telelvision station admitted that 80% of their advertisement is made up of political ads. And they are downright nasty -- only one person has actually ran an ad stating what he plans to do. The rest are ripping into their competition. When this is all said and done, how can these folks try to work with each other to truly represent us?

OK, now that I'm back to the original subject, I do a lot of things with that chicken and broth. I usually make two to three meals from that chicken. I'm planning on chicken stew, chicken and noodles and a new recipe I'm itching to try: chicken and artichoke casserole. I found it in the magazine Simple and Delicious.It was shared by a gal named Amy Nutoni from Minnesota.

Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
1 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (14 oz) water-packed artichoke hearts, rined, drained, and chopped
1 can (10 3/4 ounces of condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup onion and garlic salad courtons, coursely crushed

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile in a large bowl, combined the chicken, artichokes, soup, cheese, mayonnaise, milk, garlic, onion powder and pepper. Drain pasta; add to chicken mixture. Transfer to a greased 2 qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with croutons. Baked, uncovered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

I'm not sure if Mr. Hoover would like this dish, but he'd like the chicken in the Crockpot. And he would probably appreciate my goal of saving money -- he was around during the depression -- he may not have been poor, but he saw what it did. That's why he promised a chicken in every pot. So, as we lift our forks we'll say, "This one's for you, Herbie!"

Good Ole' Days?

October 24th, 2010 at 01:45 pm

Every so often folks sit down and starting remembering the "Good Ole' Days". And, often, these days of memory weren't so good when they were being lived, but a hard scrabble way of life.

But for many, there were life lessons learned that proved useful later in life.

I've mentioned before my folks grew up during the depression. The struggles they lived through -- going hungry, patched clothes, and doing without shaped their lives and then shaped mine. I fear for having an empty pantry in case something bad might happen -- this fear was learned through their hard lives and passed down to me.

But, I also think this fear also has made me frugal in life as well as appreciative to what I have.

I admit I spend money. Sometimes I go wild and I feel guilty when I do it. But, fortunately I have the means to do this without having to do without things.

But, looking back, some of those things that were in place years ago really did save money and make sense. Old fashioned? Perhaps.

There a quote I often think about:

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
Boyd K. Packer

If more people did this, perhaps we wouldn't have the money troubles in the economy.

Yesterday we took the train to Chicago and on the way home, chose to buy a sandwich and a bottle of water for our supper instead of buying the pricey meal in the dining car. After finishing the water, I put the bottle in my bag to bring home to recycle. It made me think of growing up when soft drinks were served in glass bottles. When you bought the soda, you paid a deposit and when you returned the empty bottle, you received your deposit back. Talk about recycling! You didn't have to check the bottom to see if the recycling place would take it! And I maintain that a soda doesn't taste as good nowdays in plastic container or aluminum can as it did in an ice cold bottle!

Plus, we had the entertainment of looking at the bottom of the bottle. My dad worked for Coca Cola bottling company and at the bottom of the bottle would be stamped the name of the city the bottle had originally been bottled at the first time it was used. It became a contest to see who had a bottle from the furtherst place.

Today I made what I call "Clean out your kitchen lasagna." I can't give measurements for anything. I had half a pound of sausage that I had cooked with onions and bell peppers. I had bits and pieces of different cheeses. I had a partial container of cream, a partial container of sour cream, milk, leftover lasagna noodles, and a few grape tomatoes. So, I thought a casserole could be this lasagna. I did open a small can of tomato sauce since I didn't have enough tomatoes, but the white sauce was thickedn with some butter and flour and it looked pretty good. It's sitting the fridge with two other casseroles we will be enjoying this week after I get off work.

Maybe we can define the "good" in the "Good Ole Days" as the good learning that took place.

So, what are some ways you are using it up, wearing it out, making it do, or doing without?

Grrrrr!

October 22nd, 2010 at 06:20 pm

No, I'm not practing my Tony the Tiger growling because things are not "GGGGRREEAATTT!"

I sort of lost it today. I work with another person and we are to be a "team". But yet again, this person is late. This person is late to almost every meeting. Today, one of our supervisors asked me where my "partner" was and why this person was late. I just said, "I wish people would quit asking me this because I'm not this person's keeper."

Maybe I shouldn't have said it. But I hear it a minimum of four days a week.

The supervisor said he understood and he could see why it would bother me.

Yet, I don't get it why this person is consistently late.

Overall, this person is nice, but perhaps doesn't realize how rude it is to keep people waiting to start a meeting until this person shows up.

An administrator did say something a few weeks ago about a meeting starting ten minutes before and it seemed to help, but that lasted but a few days. And the person it was directed to was none too happy to have this mentioned.

It's not my place to tell this person to be at work on time -- I'm not a boss. They roll their eyes or say something to me about the person being late, but other than that one time, nothing was said.

But, wouldn't one think that the bosses are as much to blame for allowing it to continue?

I've got the lunch packing blues!

October 17th, 2010 at 04:31 pm

It's Sunday and I've been in the kitchen most of the afternoon fixing stuff for the coming week. I also pack my lunch for the next day because it means I don't have to get up that much earlier in the morning. Plus, I hate worrying that I might forget.

I have read many posts and blogs about folks saying they save money taking their lunches. It was always a given with me because I don't have time to go out and I don't want to get up an earlier than I have to to stop someplace and pick something up.

Are you creative with your lunches? Often I take leftovers and that's pretty good. But there are times when I don't have leftovers. For awhile, I was eating turkey and to be quite honest, I was getting a bit tired of it. I guess that sounds whiny. Sorry!

A friend of mine was talking about her tuna salad and I'm thinking I need to try it. She puts sliced boiled eggs (3 eggs, but only uses one yolk), and relish in it. That sounds pretty good.

I had some potatoes that were starting to get a bit soft and since I had fixed a chicken in the Crockpot, I had chicken broth left over. I normally freeze it so I have it on hand, but I figured it's mine and I can use it. So, I made potato soup this afternoon and put it in a microwavable mug with a lid for lunch tomorrow. It's supposed to be rainy so that sounds pretty good. DH bought a bag of apples on sale and we usually have grapes so I cleaned them and packaged the grapes in a plastic container and washed the apple and have it ready for my lunch. With a Thermos of water, it should be a decent lunch.

So, do you have the lunch packing blues?

Lonely Looking Fridge

October 14th, 2010 at 04:50 pm

If you read my blogs you might think I have a preoccupation with kitchen appliances and you might be correct!

It's Thursday and my fridge is looking kind of lonely. I fixed a few meals ahead this week and had them stashed in the fridge. I opened the door tonight after supper and showed my husband how bare it was starting to look. He just laughed at me.

But it does look bare. There's a little milk, some ice tea in a pitcher, and a few odds and ends here and there to eat, but last Sunday the shelves were jam packed with things that were fixed and could be heated up, or defrosting so they could be cooked.

It means the cycle starts over where I write up a grocery list for Aldi and one for the other grocery we frequent so we can begin again.

On the bright side, better a lonely looking fridge than an empty tummy, right?

Torn Between....

October 11th, 2010 at 08:14 am

I am torn. I have blogged about wanting a new stove and saving up for it.

I have been watching the ads and have also read Consumer Reports.

I think that if I catch the stove in sale, I have enough to pay for it.

There was something great about anticipating. I like looking through the Sunday ads and seeing what's out there. I have enjoyed perusing stores and looking at those sleek and shiny stoves and imagining them in my kitchen.

But, I wonder now if I should spend the money. It's not an issue of not having the money to pay bills. We do.

It's not an issue of having to have the stove...it's a want, not a need.

But, I'm torn. Do I want to keep the money in the credit union...I admit it, I like having that money in the bank and seeing the balance go up.

Or do I want a new stove enough to spend that money?

Geeze, talking about the old adage of having your cake and eating it too....

Harvest Time

October 9th, 2010 at 07:17 am

I like fall. I like it for a variety of reasons -- partially because it gets cooler. I'd like summer a whole lot more if it didn't get so stinking hot because I don't handle heat well. But, I think fall is a special time because the leaves change color and it just makes it enjoyable to watch as trees get more colorful each day.

I also think I like fall because it is a season of harvest. Believe it or not, I'm a food lover and some of the things harvested in the fall are simply delicious.

I like the aspect of baking more and using fall flavors. I try to bake things seasonally just to keep it in my mind what the season is like. The idea of a bubbling stew and a hearty bread on a cool fall day just makes me smile.

A few years ago in one of those coupon inserts a flour company had this harvest bread recipe and I clipped it and make it from time to time. It sort of tastes like stuffing which goes into the seasonal part. Hope you enjoy it.

Harvest Stuffing Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 envelope quick rise yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon of minced onion (divided)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon celery sead.

Combine 1 cup all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, 2 tablespoons onions, parlsey, poultry seasoning and salt in a large bowl. Heat water and butter until very warm (120 to 130 F). Stir into flour mixture.

Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Stire in remaining all purpose flour to make stiff batter.

Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Turn batter into greased bread pan (about 1 1/2 quart). Smooth top of dough in casserole with floured hands. Cover.

Rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Brush beaten egg on loaf. Sprinkle with remining onion and celery seed.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack. If you use a glass pan, bake at 350.

I have changed this a bit using sage because I like sage in my stuff and it does give it little more depth of flavor. Can you imagine how much a loaf of this would cost at a bakery? Once you get the basic ingredients to make bread, it makes store bought bread seem outrageous, especially at speciality bakeries!

OK, what kind of soup should I fix with this?

In the Name of Christianity

October 6th, 2010 at 05:01 pm

I'm a tear right now.

I just watched the news and I'm fed up with some church who thinks it is their First Amendment Right to demonstrate at soldiers' funerals and wave signs that say pray for dead soldiers. Not that they want prayers for the dead, but that they become dead.

They claim the was is God's was of punishing our country because people are allowed to live and be homosexual.

Personally, I'm not going to get into a lifestyle choice. And I'm all for First Amendment Rights.

But, to claim they are doing it as Christians? Sorry, folks, as a Christian, I don't want anything to do with that unloving militant group. Jesus said there the commandments could be summed up with these two ways: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

I don't know about you, but I don't think that group is being very loving, especially to a group of people who are hurting because their child, spouse, or friend was killed in war times.

And they certainly aren't very losing to those folks who are gay.

It might be what they claim as their First Amendment Right to demonstrate, but just because it might be legal (I am waiting to hear what the Supreme Court decides, that's why I'm sort of waffling here), but it is kind? Is it moral?

Somehow, I don't believe God sent this group to be this cruel to get his message across. I hate to announce to them that God is fully capable of punishing folks without man's help.

So, forgive my rant, but if this is loving, I don't think I want to be a part of THAT church!

Casseroles -- for taste or money?

October 4th, 2010 at 04:29 pm

Many of us grew up on casseroles because they were a cheap way to stretch a meal whether it was with pasta or rice or bread crumbs. For some it brings back good memories of eating with family.

So, as I am in a quest for some new casserole recipes, I am wondering, why do we still like them?

Is it to save money -- I can stretch a chicken pretty far in a couple of casseroles.

Is it because it tastes good -- I sure plan on keeping the recipes we liked and forgetting those we didn't.

Is it for ease -- making them ahead of time and keeping them in the fridge or freezer sure makes it easy to feed those you love and adore.

Or is it a memory we like to relive?

So, what is our love affair with casseroles about?

Am I Anal?

October 2nd, 2010 at 01:14 pm

I was at a meeting yesterday and one of the gals said that a mutual friend had told her about me. I looked at her and she said that this friend had told her that I make out a grocery list and then spend some time during the weekend cooking stuff for the week. I wasn't sure if she thought this was a positive or negative thing. My perception was it was I was crazy, but that's a whole different story.

I do fix things on weekends and store in the fridge during the school year for a variety of reasons. Most nights I come in the door and have very little time to fix stuff from scratch. Although I know there are things out there you can heat and eat, I am trying to eat stuff that doesn't have a lot of salt or preservatives in them. And, they are pricey.

Plus, the temptation to go out is there when I come home tired. So, if I have something already ready to heat up, chances are I can reason it out that I need to use it for two reasons -- if it's basically fixed and just needs to be heated, it won't take long and by the time I clean up and go out, it would take longer to eat (not to mention the expense), plus that would mean I would waste what I had already fixed. It basically boils down to money.

I can afford to go out and we do eat out, just not every night.

I always feel a twinge of regret on Friday night when the fridge looks bare since we've used the casseroles, stews, etc. that I fixed for the week and the pantry has empty spots. There's a security when my fridge is full of meals ready to eat (sorry, armed forces, I borrowed your phrase).

So, after this discussion and getting a few odd looks from the people at the meeting, I now query, am I anal because I take the time to cook stuff and control what goes into it and have meals ready to eat?
Or am I just cheap?

Savings Denied

October 1st, 2010 at 04:58 pm

It's my own fault. I started the whole thing and it's up to me to carry it through.

I started saving for a sleek and shiny stainless steel stove. And, I was doing pretty well for awhile.

Let me remind you, I don't need a new stove. It's a want, not a need. But, I'd like a new one to match the fridge that we had to buy over a year ago because it was dying.

I like things to match.

As a teacher, I get paid by having my last paycheck come two weeks after school is out. It is my choosing -- I could have it spread throughout the summer, but there is something thrilling about having one big check.

However, with that one big check comes the realization that I need to make that money last so I'm stingy when it comes to spending it on non necessities. And, I put a bunch of it in our money market so I won't spend it unless I needed it. So instead of putting money in my stove fund, I just kept it the money market.

Well, my stove fund hasn't grown much since July. I had added to it by selling stuff at an auction, but I've run out of stuff to sell. Either I don't want to give it up or it isn't worth selling.

The quest for a new stove has been delayed, but is, if you pardon the pun, on a front burner again because a friend just bought two new stainless steel appliances.

So, instead of denying my stove savings, I need to turn up the heat so to speak. And I just can't resist the puns! Yeah, I know, if you can stand the heat...