Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stop All the Clocks

I had a nice little post started with the title "Can You Feel the Pages Spin?" but then my father in law had a stroke and died unexpectedly last week. It is very hard to focus on food right now but we have to get back to it shortly, the budget can't sustain too much takeout in these pre-Christmas days. Herewith, the pre-written post.

Here we are in "that" time of year have half-days, then the holiday...I am almost ready to go. We traded pumpkins for turkeys in the living room and kicked the first set of leaves to the curb. Deep we go!

Monday: (I know now, it will be funeral leftovers.)

Tuesday: tacos (even this week!)

Wednesday: spaghetti (even this week!) Well...we'll see. It's actually my husband's birthday so I am not sure what happens here.

Thursday: Gobble gobble! Not at our house this year--not sure what we are bringing yet.

Friday: Faux leftovers. We go to my husband's family's for Thanksgiving so I always buy a turkey breast and my favorite kind of stuffing for our house for the next day so there are "leftovers" for us. Of course now that I think about it, that's going to be not very gluten free so I am not sure how that will go this year.

Last week, we (ha, ha! "We." So cute. I. I) made the cider pork in the crockpot. There was too much cinnamon but that was me, not the recipe (I had a pouring mishap). Otherwise, this was great. It was a little off our usual since it was too sweet for cheese, but I made an ersatz cole slaw (part of a bag of shredded cabbage mixed with cider vinegar and mayo sauce) and that went really well with it. This will stay in the rotation. It's not as good as the other one, but it was easier and still delicious.

I also made sausage and tomato sauce in the crockpot, and I am so pathetic, I used a recipe, here, minus the peppers.  I was very afraid of underdone sausage but it was actually overdone. I will try for "just right" next time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ordinary Days

It is amazing, to borrow a theme from 4everMom, how sweet the ordinary days are, especially when they've been lost for a bit. What a nice week, with just the usual rhythms, plus some little excitements--a sleepover, a first swim meet, a star for a great trombone lesson. I am so grateful.

Monday: trying again on the slow cooker cider pork for the crockpot. Potatoes roasted with onions and fennel (see fish and veggie recipe below).

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (and the little one's first reconciliation! very exciting); at my husband's request, sausage in the crock pot in sauce to go with. Mmm.

Thursday: leftover pork

Friday: freezer meal or out; though I might revisit this rosemary chicken since I have so much rosemary still

So, earlier this month, we were recipients of so much generosity, I made it my business to make dinners for some friends in need this week. I used this chicken taco soup recipe (sigh, at least other people's family's eat this way). I will save the recipe for the day my kids eat soups. It was a truly less-than-10-minute prep soup, and was all yummy and nourishing-feeling when it was done. It was also very bland (I didn't salt it), so next time I will use our actual taco seasoning, but as long as you season more and use the fixings--this was lovely.

Also, we drank all our cider, so I tried this fish and veggie recipe instead since we had all the veggies involved. I should have doubled the veggies--they were so good and we just picked at them while the rest of the stuff finished. They were great. The tilapia was good too--mine still fell apart but it wasn't stinky and went well with the veggies. The kids of course had chicken nuggets but the older boy tasted one of the potatoes and said, "Hey--this tastes like a French fry!" and went on, "But a REAL French fry--you know, not like McDonald's." (Whose fries I happen to enjoy more than almost anything else there, but I did know what he meant and appreciated both how and that he said it.)

Finally, in the effort to cook down the stuff on my counters, I made this sweet potato bisque from an old O magazine, using up ingredients from I don't know when. This was all part of the kitchen-cleanup-cabinet clean out (from the Organized Christmas aspirational series). In that respect, the soup was a great success (and I still adore my handheld blender--it feels like magic to me still). There was a bit of curry hint to it (probably due to, you know, the hint of curry in it), and the consistency and color were great. If I make it again I will use veggie stock to make it vegan. I think my lentils (ok, I know my red lentils) were past their prime so I can't totally recommend it, but it was easy, fast, and nutritious.

I am reading the Christmas prep blogs like they are about a foreign culture this year. It is hard to get in to the spirit when all I want is normalcy. Last night I woke up in a panic hearing a beeping sound that I thought was the carbon monoxide detector in the basement. I stumbled to the steps to listen and realized it wasn't quite mechanical enough. I went to the bathroom and opened a window just in case only to discover we have a cricket whose song mimics the detector alarm almost perfectly. Not cool, cricket. But another reminder: sometimes the chirps that wake you are just crickets, celebrating one last warm night.

Wishing you a week filled with things that bring you joy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lost weeks and other randomness

So a bunch of stuff happened. My son was in the hospital for a week and is ok now but I really don't want to talk about it. We had friends step in and feed us grandly with the following, all well received, and documented here for when I need ideas:

-French toast casserole
-sausage-cabbage-potato dish
-quiche and muffins
-pumpkin squares
-pulled barbecue chicken with rolls, cider and cookies
-chicken cutlets, sweet and regular potatoes roasted with rosemary, and cucumber salad

My gratitude is immense.

Since my son missed Halloween, my street was amazing and held Trick or Treat: Take 2, and all the kids dressed up, some trick-or-treated again, others greeted at the door, and then all came to our house for cider and cookies and apples with caramel dip. I used this cider recipe for the crockpot and will use again. I am also going to try making my own cider from this recipe and will let you know how it goes. I have so many apples right now, we are looking for ways to use them.

Speaking of the crockpot...Oh, I was sad about the mongolian beef the other week. It was a dream come true to just grab the bag from the freezer, dump it in the crockpot in the morning, and have the house smell great when I got home from work. ended there. The meat was that weird crockpot texture and it was not as good as I hoped. My husband and I ate it, our older son gamely tried some, and we won't be making that again. Sigh.

Monday: out to dinner. Fundraiser. Woohoo!

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti (young master picky was annoyed last week because "lasagna doesn't count")

Thursday: we are up to our ears in cider as well, so trying this cider pork roast in the crockpot. There are still potatoes all over my counter so I will use those with this as well.

Friday: leftovers, I hope.

Another thing for this weekend: my sons were skeeved when they figured out that petroleum jelly was made of--yep, petroleum. So I am hoping to try this homemade non-petroleum jelly with them with an old saucepan since I am afraid the beeswax will ruin it. Since I don't keep super-cute little glass jars around, I'm not sure what I'll use but I'm sure I will find something.

I hope you are having a less disjointed fall wherever you are. I am finding myself glancing to the holiday season and thinking "yeah whatever." I need to pull it together since I have young kids but I'm just a little withdrawn after a tough October.

On a brighter note: I actually won a drawing from my favorite recipe site ever, Dinner: A Love Story! I cannot quite believe it since over 600 people entered but fate smiled and the Thanksgiving book is coming my way. I am very thankful for it and hoping it kick-starts our holiday season.

Wishing you a good week with happy surprises!