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Archive for February, 2012

Pot Pie Plunderings

February 29th, 2012 at 04:55 pm

We had turkey pot pie for supper tonight. I have tried 3 different toppings and have concluded that I like the homemade pie crust the best. I have been using some things we had...I have some Bisquick that I need to use up so that was the top tonight. It was OK, but just a bit heavy. DH who normally loves all things bready, ate some, but said he wasn't in love with it.

We had turkey breast last Saturday night for supper, so I used some of the leftovers for the pot pie and roasted a large pan of vegetables over the weekend. Half went into the pot pie and half went into cooked rice. The rice dish is for supper tomorrow night with either salmon patties or tuna cakes.

It was pretty windy here today with gusts up to 50 mph, but I will not complain after seeing the tornado damage on the news in Harrisburg, IL, and Branson, MO. A few broken limbs and other things is nothing compared to the tragic loss these cities and some others had.

I guess I should research other ways to make pot pie. I've tried turkey and chicken and I imagine there is also beef. Anyone tried anything else?

Hubby says I'm torturing him...

February 26th, 2012 at 04:45 pm

I have been going through my cookbooks and found a recipe for the slow cooker. I am trying to use things up in the pantry before they are past their date, as well as use what I have in the freezer. At our recent meat shop run, they had beef stew meat on sale, so I bought some thinking I could always either make stew or use it to make another dish. Then I found this recipe:

Beef and Barley Vegetable Soup

1 pound stew meat -- trim all fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2/3 cup of barley
2 cans of diced tomatoes (with garlic if possible -- if no garlic, mince a couple of cloves)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cups beef broth

Put all in a slow cooker and cook 8-9 hours on low. I have it ready for tomorrow and dh walked by and said that I was mean.

Mean? I asked.

Yep, he replied. He said every time I put something in the slow cooker when I'm away are work, I torture him because he has to smell it when he's home.

I suggested I could possibly not make things and he said that perhaps torture was too strong a word, but it does make him very hungry by the afternoon. I guess the man likes pain!

Prices going up, employment going down

February 25th, 2012 at 07:00 am

It's been an odd few days. We received our home insurance bill and it went up almost $100. I guess it is because of so many claims all over the country. In the almost 22 years we have had homeowner's insurance, we had one claim and it was to replace a small area of guttering when the ice storm had a tree hit our house.

Gas prices skyrocketed. I know that was everywhere in the U.S. What we find interesting is although the local service stations have already bought some of the gas, as soon as they catch wind of oil prices going up, they raise the price, although they haven't bought any of the new gas.

Our governor is trying to cut things everywhere. He's trying to figure out how he can cut teacher pensions. I understand that our state is in trouble, but Illinois teachers pay a huge amount of their paychecks for their pension. Unfortunately the legislature hasn't kept up their end of the bargain for years and has raised the pension plan to pay for projects they wanted. Now the governor wants to cut the health insurance. Teachers pay for their health insurance so it isn't like they get it free.

It is getting scary since I'm getting closer to retirement. I'm hoping there will be a pension plan and insurance plan when my time comes. Illinois teachers are not eligible for Social Security.

Our city has been hit with layoffs at two places this week. I know the national news says the recession is over, but our unemployment has remained high. Now with these two major employers laying more off, it is getting downright frightening.

Hope things are better where you are!

Eggsactly!

February 21st, 2012 at 02:48 pm

Quiche is on the menu tonight. I have an easy recipe and feel that because it easy as well as economical, it makes for a good meal.

Recipe:

1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)

3 eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup shredded cheese
other optional items: spinach, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, etc.

I whip the eggs, half and half and cheese together and put it in the crust. I then add the other things -- usually what is on hand. Tonight is chopped green onions and cherry tomatoes. I put strips of foil over around the edge of the pie crust so it doesn't brown too much, and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until solid.

I'm have a salad with this and this makes a fairly nutritious meal. I was telling a gal I work with about the recipe and she mentioned that using eggs is a reasonable meal. On Saturday we were talking to another gal and she brought up that you can't eat much more cheaply than having a few eggs.

Hubby loves eggs so he's a happy boy. He doesn't subscribe to the theory that real men don't eat quiche!

Peer Pressure and Spending

February 18th, 2012 at 04:51 pm

We went to the library and on the new arrival shelf was a book about being debt free by Gail Vaz-Oxley. One chapter talked about how our friends influence the way we spend.

I would say to a certain extent that could be true. I think it also can be said that some of us no longer bow to peer pressure. I would think that many folks on the SA site have chosen a different route.

Years ago it was tough when my friends in high school, most who had parents who had more money than mine, would tell me about this and that their parents bought them. Or the trips they were going on. I couldn't keep up with the Joneses so to speak then, and I choose not to now.

Yesterday we had a teacher inservice day and although we had an hour for lunch (unheard of for teachers), part of that time was also travel time because we came from different schools in the morning, to a larger school in the afternoon to all meet together. I packed saltines, peanut butter, apple, and a Thermos of water. Most of the folks who had to travel and set up stopped and bought sandwiches and soda.

It was interesting because one person watched me slather the peanut butter on the saltines and then said that she was jealous of my lunch...it seemed that I was getting an intrinsic joy of putting the peanut butter on the cracker in such a way.

I thought about it for a moment and realized she was right. I like saltines and peanut butter. I remember in college when my snacks were that and when I ran out of peanut butter (and money), it was just saltines. But, I also thought this little exercise gave me some control - not only of my spending and eating, but I "controlled" how I would spread the peanut butter.

Pretty weird for such a simple lunch!

Someone asked me why I brought my lunch and I just said I was trying to save money and the conversation then went to how overpriced "fast food" sandwiches were.

I don't ever think I'll be the one giving peer pressure to the spenders, but for one brief moment, I was the one they were jealous of with my simple lunch!

BIM SIM

February 16th, 2012 at 04:35 pm

Bet you are wondering what "BIM SIM" represents...

A little background... DH and I both have some arthritis. As a result, it often can be painful to do things. But, most doctors and apparently medicine advertisers agree that one shouldn't stop doing things because you have arthritis. One commercial says, "a body in motion stays in motion" so I decided we needed to have a saying or slogan to remind each other. So, I thought BIM SIM (body in motion stays in motion)was something we could say to keep each other going.

My dad has been gone 14 years. The last few years of his life he was bedridden. He had arthritis and although his doctor told him to keep moving and walking, he said it hurt too much. I'm sure it was painful. On the rare occasions I did get him out and moving, he would comment the next day he felt like he could move better. But, it didn't last. It is a sad saga...he wound up with bedsores because he wouldn't get up and walk, but sat all the time. His bedsores became so bad the doctor gave him antibiotics, but unfortunately they were too strong and he became dehydrated and very ill. He was hospitalized and was making recovery as the hospital put him through physical therapy. However, he chose to quit going and as a result, he got the point he couldn't walk. It was a vicious circle in a way. He had also had a lot of mini strokes so I don't think he was really able to think through things at this point, so his judgment wasn't the best.

That being said, I don't want to have the same problems, so the reminder of getting up and moving is always good. I guess I could say it could save me money if I take care of myself. BIM SIM

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 13th, 2012 at 05:53 pm

Tomorrow is the big heart day. If you are a teacher, you may have a aimilar experience...elementary kids really take this day seriously. I have seen street smart sixth graders get really hurt if they didn't get a Valentine from every single one in class. I think it just shows how we all desire to be thought of.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Cookbooks Everywhere!

February 12th, 2012 at 02:44 pm

I have quite a collection of cookbooks. I never started out thinking I wanted to collect them, but folks have been generous in getting them to me.

Although I have so many, I have to admit I have been remiss in using too many new recipes.

So, I challenged myself to go through my cookbooks and try to locate something different. I will admit that my area in the family room looks like a bookmobile exploded with all these various cookbooks piled up. They are not the same size or shape and some are professionally bound while others are spiral, and a few are just like pamphlets with a staple holding it all together.

I stumbled on this recipe and thought I'd try it this week.

Chicken and rice casserole

1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup (1 stick butter)
1/2 cup flour
1 (6 oz) can sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups Half and Half
3 cups diced chicken
1/s t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T dried cilantro

Cook the rice according to directions on package. Saute onion in butter until tender, but not brown. Remove from heat and stir in flour, drain mushrooms, saving liquid. Add enough chicken broth to mushroom liquid to make 1 1/2 cups, gradually stir into onion mixture. Slowly add Half and Half, and stir until mixture is thickened. Add cooked rice, mushroom, chicken, salt and pepper to a greased 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with cilantro. Bake uncovered at 350 for 25 to 35 minutes. Serves 6-8.

I have the casserole ready and will heat it up later in the week. I'm thinking already how maybe I'll change it the next time.

In the meantime, I will need to keep going through all these cookbooks! Yikes!

Goldilocks Portions

February 8th, 2012 at 04:27 pm

I'm just a little bit impressed that I actually fixed a supper and did not make too much. Granted, it isn't earth shattering, but I hate to waste food. Some of my lunches have been pretty diverse because I have a little of this and a little of that because I don't like to throw stuff away.

I fixed beef short ribs, brown rice, salad, homemade rye bread, and a fruit salad. The fruit and the garden salad were easy -- just portion out what we need. But things like rice and pasta usually drive me crazy because it is either feast or famine -- I either make too much or too little. Tonight, I can call it a Goldilocks portion -- it was just right!

So, I would say I saved money by not wasting food. We had sufficient to suffice and it was very, very nice!

Is it soup, yet?

February 6th, 2012 at 04:17 pm

A few years ago, there was a commercial where the question asked, "It is soup, yet?" as someone talked about making soup and how hard it is to wait. I think it was for a canned soup and how one can get homemade taste with the convenience of opening a can and heating it.

I have been trying to stay away from canned soups as much as possible, but want to make things that are both nutritious, economical, and something we'll eat. I ran across this recipe is a magazine, but changed it because I didn't care for the original.

Sweet Potato Soup

2 onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into chunks
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 T Turmeric
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 c cream

In a 5 to 6 slow cooker, combine the onions, carrots, ginger Tumeric, cinnamon stick, salt, pepper, broth and water. Cook covered 7 or 8 hours. Puree the soup in a blender and add the cream.

I actually halved the recipe because I didn't have that many sweet potatoes and I put it in a smaller slow cooker, but it was yummy. I like the fact I could use things I had on hand and the ingredients weren't so exotic (read expensive). It made a good lunch today.

At my schools, there's a company that sells books and usually it has a couple of cookbooks. One gal said she loved cookbooks, but anymore, she doesn't buy them because she either gets people to share recipes or goes to allrecipes.com. She said her cookbooks are collecting dust on the shelf.

That lead to a discussion that is appears that many of the cookbooks have recipes that most of us aren't going to really use and how sharing recipes and getting them online is probably more economical.

And so feeding the tummy and feeding the wallet, all in one step sounds like a great idea!

Keeping "it" for "good"

February 5th, 2012 at 11:21 am

When I was growing up, my folks would often encourage me not to use certain things and keep them for "good."

As my mother aged, she admitted that wasn't always the best advice. She said she crocheted and embroidered a lot of things and wouldn't use them, but instead kept them for "good," which meant she was saving them for use on a special occasion. However, as these things aged, they started to go bad. A lot of the things she worked so hard on started to fall apart. All that work and anticipated pleasure for naught because she never had the joy of using them.

I didn't inherit a lot of things from my grandmother, but I did get a tablecloth that fit a card table and 4 napkins. They are linen and have a design cut out and embroidered around the design. For years I would take them out of the cedar lined chest, wash them, iron them, and put them back. Then it dawned on me, these were my grandmother's and I never saw her use them. My mom never used them. And since I don't have children, chances are they won't get used unless I do.

So, I pulled out the tablecloth and I have it on a small table in my sunroom. I like the tablecloth and enjoy seeing it.

As for the napkins, we use them. Not for special days either. I use a lot of cloth napkins and they are in the stack to be used. Whatever placemats or tablecloth they go with, they get used.

I ironed them last night and thought that I'm getting far more enjoyment out of using them, than having them stored away.

Years ago Erma Bomback who normally wrote humorous articles did write a serious one. I believe it was when she was diagnosed with a terminal disease. She pointed out that life was for living and it was OK to use those things. I remember her saying she didn't use a rose shaped candle because it was for a special time, but wound up in a box in the garage where it melted.

A few years ago I donated my "good" China to be given away to a family that could use it. I think I used it maybe two or three times. It wasn't the most expensive, but I remember buying into the notion that when one married, they should have two sets of dishes -- every day and the fancy stuff. And, I didn't want to use the fancy stuff in case I would break a piece or chip it.

My dishes are my dishes. Some are chipped. I've broken a few through the years, but I like the pattern and feel I'm making better use of these stuff I have if I use it, instead of saving it.

I ironed a tablecloth last night. I never used to use cloth tablecloths or napkins, thinking it should only be when we have company. Well, I've decided we are worth the trouble of having a pretty tablecloth and napkins.

There isn't too much I'm keeping for "good" anymore. We don't have fancy dinner parties. I'm not a gourmet cook or chef. If folks come to eat at my house, hopefully they come for the hospitality and not the fancy dishes or flatware or napkins.

Perhaps it is part of my mind set of being content and finding pleasure in what I have.

Rainy Day Renderings

February 4th, 2012 at 11:24 am

I live in Central Illinois and it is a rainy day. First, let me clarify I am not complaining. Given the choice between a ton of snow or freezing rain, plain rain is just fine. We had water restrictions this fall, so I'm sure the rain is a blessing. But, what a dreary day! We have had such a mild winter so far that most of my fresh herbs are still alive outside. I know we do need a hard freeze just to keep down the insect population, but as long as we don't receive all the snow and ice, I'm fine with that.

DH is under the weather so I'm trying to stay quiet while he rests. I did get some things done in the kitchen. I have a loaf of rye bread baking and I'm roasting some vegetables for two different meals this week. I have a turkey breast in the Crockpot and I am fixing fresh green beans as well. I wrote out my menus for this week. I'm' thinking of pulling out the other Crockpot and making some soup for lunches too.

I did go to the grocery store -- the one closest to us -- this morning. We usually run errands and are out and about and we frequent another one where the prices are a little cheaper. But, since I wasn't going too far, I only bought what I absolutely needed and did score some buys on Kleenex. With the store card and I had to buy 10 boxes, but got them for 99 cents each. Both of us have allergies and although dh often uses a hanky, it is nice to have a stash of facial tissue when we need it.

Hope you are having a great Saturday as well.