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Monday Musings: 06.24.2013 Edition June 24, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, meal plan monday, Musings.
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Well, the good news is that I’m pretty much at the tail end of the “busy season” at my job – that’s a good thing.  After a few weeks of staying an hour or two late every evening, a person just gets . . . tired.

The bad news, however, is that the end of “busy season” means the beginning of “do all the crap I put off while I was busy doing the other stuff” time.

While I  do recognize that I’m fortunate to not just have a job, but to have a job I enjoy (most of the time), a break is nice.

Like this weekend – an early morning walk on the beach is the perfect way to relax, isn’t it?

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Well, clearly this has been a slow week – we haven’t done much of interest – I’ve been working, and Peeps has been chipping away at his Honey-Do list (which is even LESS interesting than work!).

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You know, there’s a relaxing walk along the shore . . . and there’s a fun-filled, super-exciting trip to the B-E-A-C-H!

I realized that  we’ve been doing an awful lot of work with our Jarly this past year – and it’s really starting to show!

I mean, yeah, he’s SUPER excited to be at the beach – who wouldn’t be?  But  he’s learned to get DOWN and to WAIT ( and STOP barking!) before I’ll even consider throwing the ball for him.

Of course, that’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of butt-wiggling —  but he did officially stay “down” before I released him to chase the ball into the water!

And the water was great!  It was cool, but no too cold, wavy but not TOO much (he’s still out of practice, you know!) and it was just deep enough that he had to plow through it then swim a few strokes before his feet were back on the ground again.

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Would you believe there’s a tennis ball inside that big old mouth of his?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  While the forecasted temperatures don’t look THAT ominous (okay, they’re bad enough) – it’s the humidity and possible storms every afternoon that’s going to make the week kind of, well, icky.  And that’s making menu planning tricky – to grill or not to grill?  Hot meals or salad?

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Monday – We’re going to start the week with some of Peeps’s porkstrami – I picked up a loaf of rye Monk’s bread the other day, as well as some Swiss cheese – nice sandwiches, with some tossed salad and maybe Peeps will get some mac salad made, too.

Tuesday – We picked up a package of ground lamb the other day – it’s been so long since we’ve made knock-off gyros!  We’ll also pan-roast some potatoes and saute some greens – it’ll be lovely!

Wednesday – You know, a few things occurred to us the other day.  We currently have no kids at home.  Our alarm clock no longer goes off at 3:45 in the morning.  And there’s no reason we can’t enjoy an (early) evening out – so we’re going to go downtown to the Food Truck Rodeo – live music, local beer, and plenty of new and exciting food  – including, perhaps, some poutine!

Thursday – We found another packet of Chinese barbecued pork in the bottom of the freezer – I thought the last one was the LAST one, but, well, there was another, I guess.  Anyway, that’s been hanging around long enough, so well do a quick fried rice for dinner Thursday – I do prefer low-effort meals toward the end of the week, don’t you?

Friday – Ah, pizza night!  Peeps has been experimenting with pizza sauce, since he doesn’t have access to his Ravioli Shop favorite anymore. . . I’ll probably support his efforts and try a traditional pie this week – just sauce and cheese – and, of course, plenty of fresh herbs!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 06.10.2013 Edition June 9, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Cooking, Food, Garden, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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Isn’t it amazing how quickly time flies when you’re busy?  And BOY have we been busy lately!

Jar’s got the right idea, though, I think.  After a GRUELING tracking class (not really grueling, but he worked pretty hard), and a last-minute obedience class, by the time he finished dinner, he was done.  He crashed on his bed and barely moved for the rest of the evening – in fact, he never even came upstairs for bed!

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Boy, you take your eyes off that herb garden for a few days and it just goes CRAZY, doesn’t t?

Tarragon trying to take over, sage blossoming all over the place, and the MINT is trying to make a break for it!

Don’t even get me started on the random dill popping up all over the place.
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It may be had to tell, but I did make a bit of progress in imposing order on that mess!  I did some weeding, trimmed the sage, and tied up the tarragon.

I didn’t have the heart to rip up that runaway mint – though I’ll probably be sorry later, won’t I?

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Speaking of gardens and imposing order . . . I finally had a chance to do some work in the vegetable garden this weekend, too.  The beans, in front here, are up and doing beautifully, and the potatoes, which you can’t really see WAY at the back, are also mostly doing well – I think a couple of the plants didn’t come up (yet?), but the ones that are there are very happy!  I also thinned the kale, so we’ll be enjoying a baby kale salad in the near future, probably with some sort of mustard-y vinaigrette.

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I’ve got tomato blossoms!  You know what this means, right?

It means it’s only a matter of time (well, less time than it was, anyway) until  I’m out there picking my very own fresh tomatoes and making plans for that summertime favorite – BLTs from scratch!

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Speaking of BLTs – I did plant some lettuce, though it’s not doing spectacularly.

And apparently, my compost has gifted me with some of last year’s seeds – and the little volunteer looked so happy there trying to blend in with the lettuce, I just didn’t have the heart to pull it.

I have no idea what it is, though if I had to guess, I’d say it’s either got to be a winter squash or a melon.  Maybe.

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How about a quick Shopping With Peeps?  (Sort of, anyway.)

How do you like our Summer Snow?  The parking lot of the supermarket this morning was just absolutely loaded with piles and drifts of the stuff!

Here in the Rochester, NY area, we seem to have an alarming number of cottonwood trees – which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, really, unless you’re allergic to the stuff.

Yeah, I’ll spend the next few weeks blowing my nose and itchy-eyed.  But I’m used to it by now, I guess.

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We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend, and Peeps grabbed the opportunity to smoke some pork – some bacon, some pork loin, and some pork shoulder.  (You know, since the smoker was going anyway, might as well do it all, right?)

He even had some help, too!  Jar wanted to help carry, but Peeps had it under control.

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Meanwhile, I’m starting to get more than a little tired of walking around Jar’s unfinished feeder-to-be, so I hauled it out to the deck and sanded the daylights out of it and put a coat of paint on the inside.  I’ll give that a chance to dry, then finish painting it.

And if I’m smart, I’ll add a coat of polyurethane or something equally slobber-resistant.

I’m just not sure yet if I’m that smart. . .

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And of course it wouldn’t be Sunday without a nice bone in the back yard for Mister Fuzzy Butt (speaking of  fuzzy butt – OH the SHEDDING!)

I stopped at the butcher shop, and when I asked the butcher to cut the bones in half because his tongue wouldn’t fit all the way inside, well, the guy thought I was a little nuts.

So  I didn’t tell him I was buying a box of Honey Nut Cheerios to use as treats. . .

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When I cleaned the daylights out of the herb garden, I ended up hacking down a TON of sage.  So I salvaged half a dozen leaves, added to them the zest of half a lemon, some black pepper and some sea salt, and I chopped them all together.

I figure that’ll be a lovely rub for some pork chops that are going on the grill – after all, you didn’t think Peeps had smoked ALL of the pork, did you?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Last week was a looong week, and this week looks like it’s going to be more of the same.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you – just a little tired.

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So, most of the week is looking fairly decent – in fact, I’d go so far as to say we couldn’t ask for much nicer weather – except the couple of rainy days, of course.  But even that, we can live with – after all, the garden needs the water, right?

Monday –  Peeps requested Breakfast For Dinner, so we dusted off an old favorite lemon-ricotta pancake recipe, and we’ll work on finishing up the last of the oldest bacon in the freezer (if there is any).   I may even get ambitious and make some kind of blueberry sauce for the pancakes – that’ll be good, right?

Tuesday – Since it’s going to be rainy, and since we wanted something meatless (or mostly meatless, anyway), and since we loved the idea when we got the newest Cook’s Country magazine, we’re going to try their Corn Chowder makeover – which apparently the ENTIRE INTERNET has not yet heard of.

I’ll let you know how it goes. . .

Wednesday – Did I mention we smoked a pork loin this weekend?  We did.  And that got me thinking about Cuban sandwiches, and how they’re made with pork loin and supposed to be kind of squished, which made me think about that so-good-but-so-bad panini that I haven’t made in AGES – so we’re going try a Cuban-ish panini-ish sort of thing.  Smoked pork loin and kale and onion relish and cheese, with wild garlic pesto mayo on semolina, grilled panini-style.  With maybe some potato salad and green salad on the side

Thursday – I’ve got another “thing” after work, so I’ll be home for dinner, but just barely.  So after Kay‘s comment the other day, we realized that we hadn’t grill-spatchcocked a chicken in a while.  Peeps will deal with that, along with some pan-roasted little potatoes and some green beans from the freezer – a lovely dinner after a LONG day!

Friday – As always, Friday is pizza night – last week, I enjoyed wild garlic and asparagus, which was great.  This week, maybe there will be a bit of roast pork or chicken, otherwise I’m sure I can manage to rustle up a few fresh herbs. . .

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Actually, they’re BOTH wrong April 11, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, random stuff.
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Remember this?

Well, I’m here to tell you – it’s neither duck nor rabbit season.

It’s squirrel season.

Apparently the little buggers are getting frisky lately – they must’ve run out of acorns to cover or something.

One thing I’ve noticed on our morning walks of late is that there are MILLIONS of the little vermin dashing up and down trees, swishing their little tails at us, and, in general, making themselves thoroughly obnoxious to the Big Lug.  Then there are the squirrels that presumably lost their game of chicken with a car.

Anyway, we frequently get quite the workout in the mornings – he sees a squirrel taunting him, or a rabbit daring him to come after it, and I tell him to “leave it” and, after the occasional back talk, he does.  But BOY do I have be alert!

See, if I see it first – whatever “it” may be  (swishy squirrels, dumb bunnies, fast food wrappers on the ground, whatever) –  then I can tell him to Leave It, and, the great majority of the time, he does.  And he’s rewarded for it, fear not.

See, that Advanced Obedience Class is already paying off – for everyone!

However.

If he sees “it” before I do, and he manages to get “it” in his mouth, well, all bets are off.  He sees, he snatches, and it’s his.   There’s no “leaving” it, apparently, because he’s already “got” it.

This can be a problem.  Sometimes, the “it” he finds is something even more inappropriate (not to mention disgusting) than, say, a Taco Bell wrapper.

I am convinced that there are certain segments of the population who hang around their neighborhoods eating chicken bones or pork chops, and they just toss the bones over their shoulder as they’re walking along.  And frequently, I don’t even know he’s found something until he suddenly lunges, snatches, and crunches whatever-it-is.

I call that his bullfrog move – he is FAST!

However, when it comes to things like squirrel jerky, you’ll be happy to know that I have learned my lesson about trying to take his prizes away from him, to wit: don’t try to play tug with a dead squirrel.

So. . . we’ve spent the last several months working on a new game – Drop It – to be played when it’s too late to Leave It.

To date, the game works best when I’ve got something awesomer to give him than what he’s already got.  Maybe he’s got a tennis ball and I’ve got a piece of cheese.   Obviously.

Me (smily and happy):  Jar, Drop it!

Jar (sniffing cheese): Okay!

We’re even getting pretty good at playing Drop It when I’ve got lesser treats (bits of kibble, say, or a piece of plain bread), and he’s got something a little higher value – like an already-chewed bone or his beloved baseball.

So this morning, we put the “Drop It” cue to the test – Jar utilized his Bullfrog Move and snatched himself a nice, juicy . . . squirrel carcass from the edge of someone’s front yard.

By the way, neighbor guy, YOU’RE WELCOME for the squirrel disposal.

So there’s Jar with a nice, stinky, going-rancid squirrel hanging out of his mouth.

And me with . . . half a pocket of Cheerios and a pizza crust.

Squirrel burger . . . Cheerios.

I’ll admit – it took a few tries, and I did grab hold of the squirrel tail (with gloves on!), but eventually, he did actually drop it!

And I threw him a party, let me tell you!  (After I FLUNG that bugger as far away as I could, of course!)

So we continued our walk, and DARNED if he didn’t find ANOTHER dead squirrel and try to pull the same stunt!

But this time, he dropped it on the FIRST command – you could have knocked me down with a feather (or a squirrel’s tail) – I fed him the rest of the treats I had, we beat it for home before another one fell out of the sky!

Monday Musings: 02.04.2013 Edition February 4, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Home, meal plan monday, Musings.
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It’s been a quiet week around here for all of us.  Cold, too.  Though really, it’s February – the dog days of winter – so honestly, what do we expect?

This is hibernating season – even the Jar knows that!  These days, more often than not, he spends most of his waking hours (and not-so-waking hours!) curled up in his bed, and he’s often more than happy to be tucked in, too.

Who’s his Mama’s boy?

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I’ve finished my holiday knitting, so right now I’m working on some recreational knitting.  Basically, that means more socks, but for myself this time!

Funny story . . .

When I was preparing to start a new pair of socks, I went through some patterns, looking for Just the Right One – like I always do

There was one pattern I almost chose – it had this fancy detail on the heel.

I pointed out the HEEL to Peeps, asked him just LOOK at the HEEL.  Isn’t that HEEL pretty?

Poor Jarly – he couldn’t seem to figure why, while sitting on the couch, I kept telling him to HEEL!

To his credit, he did actually consider getting up!  I’d say he’s been doing pretty well in his training, huh?

So I guess the socks with the fancy H-E-E-L-S will have to wait a bit.

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I guess it’s all Jarly all the time this week!

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned Jar’s affinity for fire trucks.  He does love to sing along.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  We’ve still got the winter weather advisories going on this week – gosh it just seems like this winter is dragging on, doesn’t it?  However, I remind myself that February’s the shortest month. Before we know it, we’ll be running out of time for the roasts and braises and stews. . .

Monday –  I’m going to confess – I am a sucker for a chicken on sale.  We have whole chickens – even a turkey – in the freezer, but whenever I see them on sale, I just can’t resist. We’re roasting a chicken, along with some fingerling potatoes – take that, February!  Add in some frozen green beans from the garden, and we’ll be very happy!

Tuesday – Remember how last week I roasted some brussels sprouts?  Boy were they good!  However, Peeps is not the sprout fan that I am, so we made up some Dijon mustard butter for him- and had some leftover.  Rather than let that go to waste, we’re going to cook some salmon in it.  Mmmm. . .salmon with mustard butter!  I’ve got some fresh spinach which will be good, and I’m thinking some grilled corn out of the freezer.

Wednesday – Not to let soup night get away from us, Peeps has been wanting a nice, warm potato soup with a bit of ham.  I think a potato soup with cheese would be nice, so I’m pretty sure we can figure out something that will please both of us, don’ you think?

Thursday – Since we’re roasting a big old chicken earlier in the week, I’m thinking little individual chicken pot pies would be fun.  In fact, I’m leaning  toward Moravian chicken pie – in personal size.  How cute!

Friday – Peeps’s mom will be joining us for pizza night – it’s good for her to get out of the house, and, of course, it’s always nice for all of us to spend the evening in front of the TV enjoying our pizza!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 01.21.2013 Edition January 21, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Food, meal plan monday, Musings, Stupor Kitty.
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 I don’t like to brag, but I like to think I can put together a pretty mean breakfast sandwich.  My secret?  It’s simple – I just don’t limit myself to breakfast-y things.  After all, isn’t that what Breakfast For Dinner is for?

As much as I’m a fan of a quick smoothie in the morning, I have found that, if I have a heartier breakfast before I leave for work, that keeps me satisfied for much longer – I’m not  scrounging around the office  by 10:00 looking for something – anything! – to snack on.

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Since we had a bit of garden kale left last week, I’ve been enjoying that in the mornings – one morning, I sauteed up a bit of the green stuff (with some garlic, of course!) and added  an egg- then I put a slice of gouda cheese on my green eggs (ha!) and turned the whole thing onto some leftover baguette.  Breakfast!

My new favorite, though, is a grilled chicken sandwich!  I spread mayo  on a couple of slices of bread, then lay some leftover roasted chicken breast on top.  Put the sandwich together and brush the outside of each slice with some good olive oil, then grill.

That, together with a little more sauteed kale – a fan-freaking-tastic way to start the day!

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Speaking of breakfast – remember our little experiment with the cat last week?

How Peeps didn’t set the coffee maker to turn on, so she didn’t know it was breakfast time?  And we got to sleep in until 5:30?

Well, we did that last Sunday morning, then we did it again Monday (Peeps’s day off), and it worked like a charm.

Then, this weekend, we tried it again.

Apparently, her new motto is:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on you again.

Fool me three times, I don’t think so –  FEED ME NOW!!!

It’s a good thing I cut her nails last weekend. . .

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The Jar enjoyed a nice bone this weekend – somehow he knows when it’s the weekend, so, starting around mid-morning on Saturday, every time I go to the basement for something, when I come back up, he’s waiting at the kitchen door with this expectant look on his face.

You know, just in case I’d gone in the freezer and into the Bone Stash.

Finally, Sunday afternoon, while we were in the kitchen working on the week’s dinners, Jar got his bone.

Then we played the in-and-out game for a while.  But really, how can you resist that face?  And the waggy tail?  And the cute little Gizmo ear?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Winter is back this week, that’s for sure!  We’re looking forward to some cold-weather, heart-warming meals this week – slow-cooked, full of flavor, and, best of all, mostly already cooked!

Monday – One thing we haven’t had in too long is our white chili – and how fortunate that I’ve got plenty of dried beans from the bean guy at the market on hand!  I do need to get used to the fact that fresh dried beans soak up less liquid and cook faster – not that any of that is a bad thing!

Tuesday – I was listening to the America’s Test Kitchen podcast the other day, and they were talking about Cuban beans and rice.  I thought to myself “boy, that sounds good” – and so, the first opportunity that  came up to suggest a meatless meal, here it is!  Though it isn’t truly meatless, having a bit of bacon in, but I don’t think bacon counts as “meat” anyway – it’s more “seasoning.”  Yeah, that’s it.

Wednesday – I actually printed this recipe for Belgian beef, beer & onion stew back in 2007 – and we finally made it for the first time last winter.  BOY is it good!  However, apparently America’s Test Kitchen doesn’t make recipes from old episodes available for free anymore, though they do allow for a 2-week “free trial.”  We’ll serve this stew with either noodles or barley – depends on our mood,  I guess.  I’ll bet some nice green beans would be good, too.

Thursday – The only evening this week we’re actually cooking, I’m going to try Cooking Light’s Meyer lemon chicken piccata – I think it’ll be a nice, bright change after a week of braised, cold-weather dishes, don’t you?  Probably serve with rice and some sort of vegetable.

Friday – We do love our pizza night!  We picked up some hard salami (on sale) , so guess what we’re all having on our pizza this week!  Well, except the dog – he’ll stick with his Kong toy.

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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