Sunday, August 24, 2014

Coming in to the Finish Line

Ah, August. Can you ever end too soon? Or too quickly?

We were in the mountains for two weeks, but I pretty much stuck to the meal plan, only with a ton more peaches. I have had the overnight oatmeal with a variety of dried and fresh fruits (fresh: mostly peaches. And blueberries! But really peaches). And we are now just fitting in the last of the realistic summer goals, treading water until my paychecks begin again (thank you Lord, and not a moment too soon).

The other recipes I tried lately were Smitten Kitchen irresistables: her easy dill pickles, and the farro tomato one-pot meal. Both were, predictably, delicious. The pickles were crazy easy and good--I think I chopped five of the Trader Joe's Persian cucumbers and ate two right off the bat. Prep time was minimal and since I used the ziplock bag trick, even though I wasn't around to shake them, they all settled in and brined nicely. Nom nom nom nom.  The other was totally worth buying the farro for. Trader Joe's sells it in neat little bags, though there is way more than a cup in there. Also I over salted but for me--that is not a problem. It was fabulous and a great way to use up some CSA tomatoes of a variety that I'd have a hard time using otherwise.

We lucked into a friend's CSA this week, which you will see a little bit of reflected this week...

This week:

Sunday: Armagnac chicken (with Old Grand Dad--why I even have OGD in the house, I do not know) augmented with Crazy Jane's, scalloped tomatoes (heaven in a dish), and green beans.

Monday: out with friends--I think to an actual restaurant, otherwise I will bring Greek dip and ... something.

Tuesday: tacos, or ALS fundraiser at Chik-Fil-A

Wednesday: spaghetti (I have been making sausage sauce with Trader Joe's chicken sausages for my husband, who is very happy about that)

Thursday: tacos probably, but there is also an open house that will probably have food. Either way--I will be taco ready.

Friday: believe it or not, I have book group this night. I can't wait. No idea what the boys will eat. Hopefully leftover chicken.

And there it is--the Labor Day weekend approaches. We are just about ready for the school year to begin, though I am sad to see this summer go. There were lots of sleepovers, home and away, lots of goals met (I will go over the list next week), and lots of books read. So--here's to the last week! Wishign you a good one.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Time is...fleeting....

Sing it with me: madness....takes its toll.

No time warp here but I just cannot believe that we are in the final throes of August. In some ways: I am totally 100% grateful because entertaining the boys without just throwing the Kindles at them is wiping me out. On the other hand--I love love love being with them. And I am soaking in these days for the ones when we are scattered to school and jobs and I am grateful I have this time.

So another week of uninspired but super-easy meals on tap:

Monday: Joanne's pork tenderloin, veggies

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: grilling. Probably a London Broil (found one in the freezer) and maybe I'll make potatoes to go with it.

Friday: leftovers. I will be sure to grill enough to have some!

Keeping it short because there's not much to tell. It's summer, is all. Reading, swimming, trying to keep the dog cool...Enjoy your week!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Augusta Wind

You know that old joke, If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? One version is (of course) Pilgrims, but my friend had her own schtick: May flowers bring June bugs! And June bugs bring Julilacs. And Julilacs bring Augusta wind. Which is to say--happy August!

I know it is time for the month to change because my boys are starting to have school anxiety again, worrying about who will be in their classes and other school related issues. Summer projects are perking along--one of my favorite moments of the summer (year!) was when my older son got his 1000 lap t-shirt. What an accomplishment! He is the first in the family to do it and I couldn't be prouder.

On a far more mundane note, I have been trying to crunch my way through some recipes. I have been looking to recreate the sour cream cucumber salad my mother used to make, and this recipe came pretty close. Naturally my mother's recipe would have had a ton more of the dressing (and none of the low-fat stuff), so I adjusted a bit but overall I did like it very much. The kids would not touch it, which takes away part of the joy of the cucumber (the one veggie Mr. Picky will eat, though under duress). But I liked making it and my dill in the hanging basket is going crazy (my husband's great idea to save the herbs from slugs; verdict--awesome for dill, less so [mysteriously] for basil) so it was good to trim that back a bit.

Anyway. This week:

Monday: Crazy Jane's chicken, summer veggies (whatever looks good!)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday (we do not interrupt this for summer veggies)

Wednesday: spaghetti (Young Mr. Picky still eats with butter and cheese but my husband has been whipping up awesome fresh tomato sauces for the grownups...yum)

Thursday: leftovers (chicken, etc.) I want to make a quiche for the mister and me but I know it will not be popular with the under-five-foot crowd.

Friday: maybe out, maybe a freezer meal--I just found some pulled pork, yum!

Tap dancing (not really, but hey! there's an idea) as fast as I can to keep the boys entertained. Last week was library camp and Apple camp...this week...all activities appear to cease. This is giving me agita so keep us in your happy thoughts. Happy week!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Transitions

Oh, the melancholy end of camp. The kids had a great year, and especially in the traditional (non-sports) camp, they really let out all the stops for the last week (Carnival Day! Pony rides! Tattoos! Science show with explosions!). Alas, it just makes life at home look Even More Boring by comparison. But I'm working on it.

And this weekend was not boring--it was feverish. Instead of competing in the A-champs, my little guy was battling a fever that peaked at 104.1. I hate those. Fortunately he seems to be just about over it but it was loathsome while it stayed.

So, this week:

Sunday: grillin'. And corn because summer.

Monday: farmer's chicken (didn't get to it last week)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday spaghetti

Thursday: leftovers, I hope, freezer meal if not

Friday: out!

Have a great week!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Just When You Think You Have No Readers

Of course I invited people to come check out my blog. And the tone of my last title was all wrong, though the sentiment was one I meant in a straight-up way. And yet people find themselves here via the Hansel-and-Gretl breadcrumbs of the internet: links from friends' blogs, or my thanks on Smitten Kitchen from 2008. Strange, how you know the internet lives forever and yet it startles me that something I wrote 6 years ago resonates enough with someone today to click over and see how I'm doing.

The answer is: I am still learning. I am still not an intuitive cook. My sense of kitchen adventure is dragged down by fussy eating kids (well, one fussy eater and another who, if Fussy likes it, will declare immediately that he doesn't, and we have always been at war with Oceana, thereby preventing one-meal-fits-all meals in the house) and a part-time job.

I am still weak at figuring out the timing of having all meal elements ready at once. I am still baffled how my cabinets and refrigerator end up with the random assortment that ends up there, and unlike my husband, who can suddenly whip random ingredients into something delicious, I buy more random ingredients to make it work.

But I have had some successes. There are things I enjoy making and my kids haven't starved. Even if more weeks than not have a lot of repeated favorites, I am ok with that. The good ones (for the most part) make it to the sidebar; the less-successful are kept here so I can go back to remind myself what did and didn't work.

So, thanks for visiting. You are welcome anytime, and questions are always welcomed as well. I am glad you are here, whoever you are, as long as you come in peace and bring no malware.

Monday: Leftover Chinese, salmon, and shrimp (not all together but we all ate well)

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti

Thursday: farmer's chicken, maybe corn on the cob

Friday: just me & Mr. Picky, so I have no idea what we'll do. If I am lazy I will make him more pasta and he will be over the moon with joy. If not, I will try to figure something else out. (In some ways, he is very easy; he adores the Crazy Jane's chicken and will cheerfully eat it night after night, complimenting me on how delicious it is. Nothing too wrong with that.)

Wishing you a good week. This is our last week of camp and the second half of summer is staring me down and making me a bit crazy but I am lucky to have these as my worries and I know it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Having No Readers Is Freeing

Ah, the end of the age of amateur blogs. It was fun to be here while the form morphed and I enjoyed it. I'm not stopping what I'm doing--it absolutely serves the purpose I meant it to serve. But it is strange watching my Feedly depopulate.

For anyone stopping by, we had a really calm week here last week, at least by summer standards. A swim meet here and there, lots of pool time otherwise, fun camp days for the boys, and a shockingly closely followed meal plan. One note: I will not be making those banana-oat bars again; they attracted fruit flies like crazy and they drive me...well, bananas.

Meanwhile, I, for one, welcome back the polar vortex with open arms. We are not in the worst of it but it has already depressed the humidity so even the 90 degree heat didn't feel so bad. Winning.

This week:

Monday: Armagnac chicken (because I have all the veggies for it)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday (now with *soft* tacos! oooh. I am pleased b/c they are cheaper and more versatile, though just as nutritionally bankrupt)

Wednesday: Wednesday spaghetti, of course (another swim meet too so it will be early)

Thursday: leftovers, with any luck

Friday: the Independence Eve race in our town was weather-delayed to this night, so we will have a cookout at home and cheer on the runners as they come down our street.

Wishing you a great week, and a fun time watching swim meets, the World Cup, the Tour de France, World Championship Lacrosse, or whatever else strikes your fancy this week!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New New Favorites

So this week, just a bit too late for my blueberries, I came across the recipe for blueberry almond refrigerator oatmeal. I made it with the almond milk I had for the other new favorite summer breakfast (pb & banana smoothie) and I loved it. So did my husband. It was perfect after a sticky dog walk in the morning. I kept making it all week. I added strawberries (ok), bananas (yum), coconut (which I think improves all it touches), and eventually--more blueberries. It was great.

This July 4, I had crazy grand food plans and in the end, it was such a strange day, most of it didn't happen. On July 3, some freak little storm cell hit the north end of town, taking down at least 5 huge, old, gorgeous trees, while on the other side of town, it barely drizzled. Because of that and a prediction of showers all day, the town cancelled the July 4 festivities. By noon, though, there was no rain falling, and so people paraded anyway, with no judges or trophies, and the fire company gave rides from the cabs of the fire trucks instead of on top. It was very low key and super fun. Since our usual water fight wasn't happening, we went to the horseshoes tournament and the one boy joined in with his friend and the other went exploring the creek with a bunch of other kids. Then one biked to a friend's house, but got waylaid playing ball tag with another group of buddies; then they biked to the pool to rendezvous with my husband and other son to play the games there. It was awesome, start to finish, and the strange weather--breezy and 74 degrees! it felt like Maine--just added to the small town magic of the day.

But...that meant I wasn't hiding in my house cooking. I heated the strawberry rhubarb crumble...and forgot to take it to the party. In the end, the only two things from my list of (whoops) 12 were the Greek dip from Clover Lane, which was spectacular and I will make again and again, and the flag snacks--white dish, box of blueberries in the corner for the blue field, then stripes of strawberries and yogurt pretzels. That was a giant hit, the kids oohed and ahed like I'd cooked all day, and in the end, there were maybe four strawberries and a light layer of blueberries left. So all those other cool ideas? Forget it.

Oh, and I made oatmeal squares from the following recipe; they were good, for what they were--that sounds like damning with faint praise but that isn't what I mean to do. The recipe:

3 bananas, smushed
1/3 C applesauce
2 C oats
1/2 C almond milk
1/2 C raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix, pour in to square baking dish and smooth out top; bake at 350 for 20 minutes, let cool and cut.

Not as good as the refrigerator oatmeal, but for a no-gluten, no-dairy, no-sugar cookie? they were good.

Then the block party was amazing; we had some "extra" invited families with kids who visit here all the time, and there was just a herd of boys romping through the yards, dropping by every once in a while for a hot dog or cupcake. There were fireworks from BJ's and then someone rigged a projector to show a movie on the garage door of one of the houses. The kids all pulled up chairs and settled in, giving the parents the chance to do the same. So we sat around a fire pit in the middle of the street until almost midnight, enjoying the evening and each other.

But for at least 10 years, we've had crazy hot July 4ths. Our first one in this house was 104 degrees and humid; not many after were much better weather-wise. But this year, when the kids were putting on their bathing suits and topping them with fleece, when the wind blew so hard the mosquitoes were chased away; when the kids decorated their bikes and rode them for no judges, just the pleasure of garland and streamers on their was really magic. It was a great day and I will remember this one forever.

This week:

Monday: yogurt chicken, green beans with pickled onions and toasted almonds, maybe rice if I feel like it.

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, yay!

Wednesday: Wednesday Spaghetti, yay!

Thursday: there has been a request for Pacific Rim Pork again, which I am happy to do. Rice and probably leftover string beans on the side.

Friday: Leftovers, is my guess. Otherwise, something from the freezer.

I am so grateful to live here. I am so glad to have such good neighbors. I am so happy that my boys are old enough to go traipsing around town on their bikes, and that today was such a good day to do it. Wishing you a week full of things that make your heart content.