Monday Musings: 11.11.2013 Edition November 11, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Food, meal plan monday, Musings.
Well, mission accomplished.
Last Friday evening, I met one of the meat suppliers (a very nice couple from Romulus, New York) (I can’t help thinking of them as The Romulans, though) and bought a 30-pound box of turkey wings and a 40-pound box of “chicken frames.”
Basically, that’s the bony part of the chicken that’s left after they cut the leg quarters, boneless breasts, and wings off. Still plenty of meat, lots of bone, and necks. Since he’s eating the bones and all, I’m very glad to have found a source domestic, antibiotic-free chicken parts.
I guess I don’t need to tell you how happy Peeps was to have dug out his very heavy, very sharp meat cleaver! We bought this several years ago, at a kitchen outlet store (that may or may not exist anymore – it was a LONG time ago, and out of town) – mainly because we didn’t have one.
We’ve almost never used it in all these years, UNTIL.
Until we suddenly had a need to start whacking up hunks of chicken, bones and all.
I salvaged three volunteer butternut squashes from the garden last week – two were beautiful, and one was just not quite ripe.
We roasted about half of what I’d picked (guess who likes the roasted, not-quite-ripe bits?) and the other half, well some of that is going for dinner this weekend, and the rest went into a very nice, quick and easy soup, using a bunch of squash and the rest of the leeks that I keep forgetting about in the fridge.
Very simple: Saute a bunch of sliced leeks until soft, season with a bit of salt and herbs (or herb salt). Add the cubed squash, I don’t know, 4-6 cups? a small squash’s worth, anyway, and saute, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Then pour in a pint of chicken stock or broth, and about a cup of half-and-half – just enough to just barely cover the squash. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and partially cover pot until squash is tender, then puree the whole mess into soup. If it’s too thick (which it was) add a splash of apple cider, maybe half a cup, then add a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar to brighten. You’re done.
And in the meantime, if you’ve planned ahead, you can be snacking on roasted butternut squash seeds – yum.
So do you remember last week’s nice, freshly defrosted, nearly empty freezer? Yeah, we divided up all that chicken into 2-pound containers, and that takes up a LOT of freezer space.
And underneath the pile of recycled yogurt containers (I knew they’d come in handy – eventually!) is 75 pounds of beef, in fifteen 5-pound packages. That should be enough beef for the Jar for about 2 months, and the chicken should last a good month. And, of course, we’ve got turkey wings in reserve, too.
I’d say I think I need a bigger freezer, but really, I just need to give over more of the one we have to the dog.
Speaking of the dog. I’m working very hard to understand what he’s saying sometimes.
Take this afternoon, for instance. He seems to think that every time I go to the basement, I should be coming back with a bone in my hand, and honestly, he gets downright pesky about it sometimes.
So I brought this small bone up for him and sent him out to the back yard with it. Where he promptly went down the steps from the deck, dropped the bone, and started barking. And he bark, bark, barked until the neighbors’ little dogs started barking, too, in that way that only little dogs do – yap yap yap yap yap yap! And then Jar stopped barking, lay down, and started chomping on the bone.
Clearly, what was Jar saying was: Hey, you guys! I’ve got a bone! You hear me? Who’s got a bone? I do! That’s right! Who’s got NO bone? You do! I’ve got a bone and you don’t! Neener neener neener!
Yup. Our dog is a jerk.
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. Even though we’ve sorted through (and defrosted!) both freezers, we’re continuing to observe No Shopping Week (which is just what it sounds like – once a month, we skip our weekly trip to the supermarket, live on what’s in the freezer/pantry/cupboards (with the exception of milk if we need it), and stash the grocery money). I think of it as working on mending our ways – our habit of over-buying, coupled with our loathing of waste, and added to a shift in our eating habits, well, it’s just gotten a little out of hand. This is a good way to hold myself accountable.
Monday - We ate about half the black bean soup last week, so we’ve got more black bean soup up this week. That should finish off the batch – and if it doesn’t, well, I won’t feel so bad about tossing whatever’s left.
Tuesday - Surprisingly enough, there was also about half of last week’s braciole left over, too. Rather than think of it “leftovers” though, I prefer to think of it as re-enjoyed. It was really good, and it’s nice to be able to have it again.
Wednesday - Of course, just because we’ve got leftover soup on Monday, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fresh, new soup on Wednesday, does it? Squash and leek soup – with fresh bread – it’s good for the soul.
Thursday - We defrosted a chicken last week, to roast this weekend, so we’ve got some leftover cooked chicken. We’ve also got a chunk of ham in the freezer, so Peeps suggested putting them together for a Monte Cristo casserole. Um, sure.
Friday - Now that we’re back to our normal routine, pizza night will continue as usual! However, I’m on the lookout for Kong-stuffing ideas for The Jar. Now that we’ve changed his diet, the kibble mix with Might Dog I’ve been using all along seems to be a littler harder on his delicate tummy. Any thoughts?
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 10.07.2013 Edition October 7, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Country, Food, meal plan monday, Musings.
A market week this week- we ended up going quite a bit later than usual, though, because tracking class is at 7:30 WAY over on one side of town – we’re done there at 9:00, run home, drop off the tired dog to nap, then turn around and get back downtown by 10-ish.
That would be when ALL of the people are there!
I was still quite happy, though – all of the veggies (and pears) I bought were local, with the possible exception of couple of small eggplants – those I’m not sure of, but I’ll still eat them!
In addition to regular veggies, we also scored a 25-lb box of Yukon potatoes and a 1/4-bushel basket of concord grapes! Boy, is it fun to carry THOSE through the hordes of people milling around at the market!
It’s been so long since we’ve made mashed potatoes. . .
And of COURSE we couldn’t forget to pick up some bones for our puppy baby, either, could we?
Funny how he always knows when we’ve got a bag (or two) of bones, isn’t it?
So. . . you’ve got a peck of grapes, and it’s October, so what does that mean? Eyeballs, of course!
Seriously, the grapes were super ripe so they needed dealing with right away – it’s not like we were doing anything else all afternoon , right?
And a few hours later (counting processing AND cleaning up!), we have 4 quarts of unsweetened grape puree. I’ve never canned grapes before- I’m hoping it’ll work as well as frozen, without the defrosting.
And you’ll see that I was smart and used my cool new red lids – as an aside, if you regularly do any canning, I heartily recommend reusable Tattler lids. They’re not cheap, but you only have to buy them once.
Peeps and I were working in the kitchen, the dog was napping in the living room, and the kitty was just hanging out, watching the rain outside the dining room door.
Suddenly, the dog comes bounding out, surprising both me AND the kitty! In fact, he surprised her so much that she . . . didn’t run away right away.
Which, of course, surprised the daylights out of him - so much so that it gave her a chance to gather her thoughts and dash away – right upstairs to the bedroom.
Where she was effectively trapped – she knew the dog was standing guard at the bottom of the stairs, so she just staked out her temporary quarters in the front window.
I finally persuaded her to come downstairs while the dog was outside. It took a couple of treats and my bodily setting her on the floor near the stairs. She was less than happy to be disturbed.
There’s this truck, parked in a driveway, that we see when we go to the supermarket.
While there’s usually nothing very remarkable about a truck, this one is, well, it’s weird.
It’s got some sort of camper or something on it (which looks like it’s straight out of The A Team!), it seems to be made of corrugated metal of some sort, and the whole thing is all the same khaki color, and, on the front fender, is stenciled “OFFICIAL VEHICLE.”
Official WHAT vehicle? WHAT is its deal?
It’s driving us nuts!
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. Although we do check the 7-day forecast when we plan our meals, we do live in upstate New York. Things change.
It’s apparently NOT going to rain most of the week after all. Who knew?
Monday - I’ve had several bags with little dribs and drabs of dried beans lying around, and they’ve been driving me nuts! I finally decided to suck it up and make a batch of vegetarian chili.
Tuesday - Copper River salmon is on sale this week, and we just couldn’t resist it! Now that it’s probably not going to rain Tuesday, we’ll slap it on the grill and do something potato-y (since we’re all potatoed up and all!), and probably a tossed salad.
Wednesday - We kept turning to the page in Cook’s Country with the Monterey Chicken recipe – so we finally just pulled some chicken out of the freezer. Probably sweet potatoes and green beans with it.
Thursday - Minimal Effort Thursday! While dinner this evening will involve minimal effort right at dinner time, we’re trying a variation of homemade hot dogs which will be made ahead of time. We’ll have some leftover mac salad from last week, and something green.
Friday - Friday is pizza night - pizza for us, Kong for Jarly. We’ve reached the time of year where I’m not quite sure if I’ll have fresh tomatoes or not. If I do, I will, but if not, I’ve got plenty of sauce we made during the summer – either eggplant sauce or roasted tomato sauce will suit me just fine. Other than that, I’m happy with just cheese.
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 08.19.2013 Edition August 19, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Food, Home, meal plan monday, Stupor Kitty.
Holy cow it’s peach season! Where has the summer gone?
And how do we know that, you ask? Well, besides fantastic local Red Haven peaches I picked up at the public market last week (and they were spectacular!), I received an email on Saturday from my local pick-your-own farm letting me know that peaches are ripe and ready.
What’s a gal to do but pack up her husband and drag him out to the farm first thing Sunday?
I was very restrained, though, I think. I only ended up with 17 and a half pounds - which took about 10 minutes to pick.
They are SO good, too!
Peaches aren’t the only fresh fruit we’re enjoying – oh no!
We were home Saturday afternoon, and I took the opportunity to enjoy my all-time favorite lunch in the whole world – a BLT! Peeps has been baking some fantastic bread lately -which, as it happens, toasts up beautifully, and there’s not much that can beat his homemade bacon. Add some nice bibb lettuce, homemade mayo and of course, the star of the show, a couple of slices of fresh Jetstar tomato, and I have a happy, happy lunch!
Old Jarly is having a bit of trouble deciding whether he wants to chew on his bone, or if he wants to come inside. He can’t do both – bones are outside toys.
We spent half of Sunday afternoon trying to get that through to him – he’ll bark to come in, so one of us opens the door for him, then he picks up the bone and we tell him “no bone” and shut the door. So he drops the bone, we open the door again, and he picks it up again.
That game gets old really quick, let me tell you!
Meanwhile, the cat is out prancing around the house, and every time it looks like the dog may come in (that would be something like every five minutes), she makes herself scarce, only to come back out and pester me as soon as he’s out of sight and earshot.
No wonder I never get anything done!
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. It looks like “Hey! Summer’s back!” around here – temperatures and humidity increasing through the end of the week. We don’t mind that too much – both my office and the house are air-conditioned, and we’ll probably plan a quick morning beach trip to keep Jar well-exercised.
Monday - We roasted that chicken last week (and it was very good!) – some of the breast meat is going to go nicely with a grilled caesar salad – basically, you take a romaine heart, cut it in half, brush it with dressing and slap it on the grill, cut-side down. We also like to slice already-cooked chicken and grill that the same way to gently reheat it. A perfect light dinner!
Tuesday - We got the September issue of Cooking Light last week, and there’s this big section on short-cut meals – healthy meals using prepared foods. At first, I sort of flipped past that section (Prepared foods? Really?) but then Peeps pointed out this hummus and rice fritter recipe. We would certainly try that!
Wednesday - We picked up a sirloin tip last week – that got divided and stuck in the freezer for future burgers and the like. Well, it’s the future, and we’re doing burgers. We’re going to finish up some baked beans, too, and I think I want to make this beet salad to go with it – if I get to it. Or maybe we’ll have peaches and tomatoes.
Thursday - Peeps made tacos for last weekend – so what’s better for Minimal Effort Thursday than more tacos – when everything’s already done?
Friday - We do love pizza night around here – ESPECIALLY during tomato season! Last week’s eggplant sauce was mostly a success – though next time I’ll double the amount of eggplant. However, the remainder of the sauce is now in the freezer – we’ll use that when we don’t have fresh tomatoes to slice up. I may sacrifice some of the pathetic basil for pizza – I don’t know what’s wrong with it this year, but it’s not doing well. Probably should just use it up, huh?
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 06.10.2013 Edition June 9, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Cooking, Food, Garden, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Shopping With Peeps.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. . .
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. . .
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?
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.
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. . .
Monday Musings: 06.02.2013 Edition June 3, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Eating Down the Fridge, Family, Food, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
Well, I guess we’re starting to get into a new “normal” swing of things – this week was Peeps’s first trip to the Public Market since, well, last Thanksgiving, I think.
This not working thing will certainly have some advantages for him, I’m thinking. Especially when it comes to our market trips!
I may have gone a tad overboard, though – the beet greens looked so gorgeous, and the asparagus has such a short season – and how could I pass up wild garlic? And the pork bellies looked so nice – can one really have too much BACON in the house?
I don’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but this year, I put some fingerling potatoes in the garden. I’ve never grown potatoes before, so I’m kind of excited about it!
And how even more exciting when the little bits of potato started to sprout! Way better here in the garden than, say, in the bottom of the potato basket in the basement. . . don’t you hate it when you reach into that bag of potatoes and find one that looks like some kind of freaky alien?
We started tracking class with Jar this weekend – and what a gorgeous morning it was!
The idea here is for him to actually use his nose and sniff and sniff and actually follow the trail of the person who left it, with, of course, lovely tasty treats planted along the way to let him know that he’s on the right track. (Ha! Get it? TRACK? I slay me!)
However, this was all new for him, and, as it turns out, focused sniffing is tough work for a dog!
After about an hour, old Mr. Sniffy Face was all sniffed out. But still – a good time was had by all – and we’ll be working on it this week and ready to learn even more bright and early next Saturday morning!
The herb garden has certainly been happy with the warm weather and occasional rain, that’s for sure!
The oregano and tarragon are already nearly out of control, the sage and thyme both have blossoms, as do the chives, and the lavender is starting to bud.
And the mint – well, the mint seems to be trying to make a run for it. I don’t know what that’s all about.
Oh, and speaking of herbs – and gardens – (see how I did that?) – the garlic scapes are coming in.
Last fall, we planted several cloves of a hardneck variety of garlic, and this kind of garlic puts out these shoots – I think it’s the plants way of creating seeds (but I’m just guessing there).
Anyway, we diligently watch the garlic plants, and the MINUTE we see the scapes, off they go – we want our plants putting their energy into making big, juicy bulbs of garlic, not flowers, right?
Maybe breakfast one day this week will be scrambled eggs with sauteed garlic scapes. . . after all, nothing says “please go out and play golf and just let me do my work” like garlic for breakfast, does it?
I don’t know, but it almost seems like the kitty misses the dog when he’s outside, doesn’t it?
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. While she’s recovering, we’re making sure Peeps’s mom is eating properly at least once a day – she’s got stuff in her fridge that she nibbles during the day, but we want to make sure she has a warm, nutritious dinner.
Monday - I realized that I still have a Groupon that expires this week – so instead of the pork chops we’d planned on, I’ll take one for the team and stop for cheesesteaks on my way home from work. (About what I said about a nutritious dinner for Peeps’s mom – cheesesteak has protein, and that’s nutritious, right?)
Tuesday -Since we were right there in the Bon Appetit magazine and all, we thought the Spiced Salmon Kebobs looked fantastic. We’ll grill the asparagus with it and cook some farro - can it get much healthier than that? Plus, I told you, the fresh oregano is just crazy – this’ll use up, oh, at least a couple of sprigs, anyway!
Wednesday - Last week, I added a chuck roast to my mental “get this out of the freezer soon” list – and, since we’re enjoying such seasonably nice weather, we’re going to grind it up and make burgers. Peeps wants to add some of the wild garlic to the meat as he’s grinding it, and we’ve got tossed salad and will stick some small potatoes in foil packets with some olive oil and garlic scapes – did I mention that it’s all garlic all the time around here this week?
Thursday - This month’s Bon Appetit featured a recipe for Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto - but instead of four cups (!) of parsley, we used the greens from the wild garlic for the pesto. It’ll be great. Since we already made the pesto, it’ll be a quick matter of cooking the pasta and tossing it together -just the thing on a Thursday evening when I’ll most likely be working late.
Friday - This week on pizza night, I’m planning to use the handful of wild garlic that I saved from the pesto, which I think will go famously with some of the caramelized onions I’ve got stashed in the freezer. Gosh it’s nice to have this stuff on hand, isn’t it?