Monday Musings: 12.09.2013 Edition December 9, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Eating Down the Fridge, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
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Finally – the Christmas cactus is starting to show some life this year!
Sadly, I think it’s been declining for a few years now – it still blossoms and all, but I don’t think its heart is in it, you know?
I’ve always been kind of houseplant-challenged. It really is a testament to just how hardy this particular plant is that it’s even still alive, I think.
Peeps’s mom has been begging off of pizza night for the past couple of weeks. I think the cold is bothering her, for one thing. Add to that the fact that it’s getting dark so early, well, we really can’t blame her for wanting to stay home of Friday evenings, I guess.
But oh darn, that leaves us with an extra pizza crust!
It’s a good thing we’re also fans of breakfast pizza, isn’t it? What could make a nicer weekend breakfast (and lunch!) for two than fresh pizza topped with cheese, scrambled eggs and a bit of ham?
Ol’ Jarly had a busy day Saturday, wouldn’t you say?
He’s been doing so well with other dogs – he even spent some time frolicking with a few new acquaintances!
But WOW, those youngsters sure take it out of a guy like The Jar, you know? And let me tell you – a young lab, a golden retrievers,and a 4-month-old pitty baby are FULL of excitement! All that racing around and playing tag and stuff – Jar came home, ate dinner, and pretty much spent the rest of the evening crashed on his bed – or mostly on it, anyway.
Who was the tiredest pup of all?
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. We’ve got a chilly week ahead, along with a few outside things going on, so, after a weekend of MAD cooking, it’s shaping up to be a fairly easy week, dinner-wise. Add to that the fact that it’s No Shopping Week, and we’ve got a week of warm, clearing-out-the-freezer meals.
Monday - I was cleaning out my email inbox the other day, and I found, from AGES ago, a recipe I’d saved for Oatmeal Leek Soup – we’ve got steel-cut oatmeal on hand (always!) as well as leeks that we picked up last weekend. Plus, I can’t help thinking leftovers will make a great breakfast!
Tuesday - When we defrosted the freezer a while back, we found some packaged veal cutlets that had been in there a little too long – I never did make what I’d bought them for, so we decided to grind them up and use them, along with some beef and pork, not to menticon a couple of quarts of our own tomatoes, in spaghetti & meatballs. The meatballs are par-cooked and soaking in the sauce – they’ll finish cooking while we’re boiling the pasta.
Wednesday - Again, freezer-diving, and this time we came up with some chicken for chicken tacos. We didn’t have cilantro on hand, and it’s no-shopping week, so we did have to leave that out- I’m sure it’ll still be fine.
Thursday - It’s Minimal Effort Thursday, and I have been DYING for my chili – every time I make this, I always feel so proud of myself. It’s a DARNED good bowl of chili! Plus, I was so cold all day, and the best cure for that is to have a low oven running half the day, wouldn’t you say?
Friday - This week, we’ll have pizza night without Peeps’s mom – I kind of want to say “more for us” but, as it is, I don’t finish my pizza anyway! Jar, on the other hand, DOES finish his Kong!
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 12.02.2013 Edition December 2, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
Wow, the public market was quiet this weekend! I’m not surprised, though – not really. After all, it was Thanksgiving weekend, and not only were several of the vendors on vacation, many customers were also probably either out of town themselves, or entertaining a houseful of family.
And it looks like we’re now firmly in “winter produce” mode – onions, potatoes, broccoli – the hardier veggies. It’s all good, though!
I trust our readers enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving – we drove to my parents’ house and spent the day with all of my family – two brothers, one sister, seven nieces and nephews, and, of course, the three dogs (our one and my parents’s two).
Along with a sweet potato casserole and lots and lots of rolls (we always bring too many!), we also baked a trio of pies – apple, grape and peach. I’m pleased to report that they all came out pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!
Pretty creepy, huh?
However, they’re chock full of doggy goodness – besides protein, cartilage and bones, they’re loaded with collagen and chondroitin – both of which are exactly what the Jar, with his poor, sad joints, needs.
Plus it just cracks me up to “toss him the bird.” What can I say? – I’m easily amused!
We decided, since we had a bit of down time this weekend, to try making caramels – we both love them, and neither of us had ever actually made them before.
Well, it turns out they’re not difficult at all – though the whole boiling sugar then adding liquid part felt a little harrowing!
However, all in all, I might even say they’re almost too easy. That stuff is addicting!
We picked out our holiday wreath to hang on the front porch this weekend, too – isn’t it lovely?
We always buy them from this nice couple who makes them themselves, and they really do know their trees. This year, we went with mixed greens, including a bit of holly, and there are a few berries in there, too, along the colorful balls.
Even just driving home, it made the car smell like Christmas!
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. Unlike most of the rest of the country (it seems!) we don’t have piles of Thanksgiving leftovers to worry about – while I’ll admit that I’ll miss leftover turkey sandwiches (both hot and cold!), it’s probably for the best! Two people (and one dog) can eat but so much turkey, right? Besides, we did pick up a couple of birds on sale to divide up and roast later on, so all is not lost!
Monday - We’ve got some of last week’s pork roast left – we’ll roast some sweet potatoes and probably some pan-roasted broccoli to go with it.
Tuesday - I saw this recipe for baked fish with almonds, lemon, and bread crumbs and it looked GOOD! It should go nicely with green beans and maybe rice.
Wednesday - We may not have turkey leftovers, but we’re going to have roast chicken! I stumbled on this ginger roast chicken recipe that just sounded . . . intriguing. I listen to the Splendid Table podcast every week – they have some of the most interesting recipes!
Thursday - Now that Thanksgiving’s done, we’re back to Minimal Effort Thursday! This week, we’ve made a quick corn chowder that will just need reheating – a couple of slices of bacon, browned, then removed from the pan and set aside, then an onion and a clove of garlic sauteed in the rendered bacon fat. Add about a cup of frozen corn, half a cup of corn stock (or vegetable or chicken stock) and enough cream (or half and half or milk) to cover, plus maybe a tablespoon of chili powder, pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer, then puree. Add a couple of sweet potatoes and a regular potato (I used Yukon gold), diced, and another 3-1/2 cups of stock (the rest of the quart), and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Add another 2 or 3 cups of corn, return the bacon, and bring back to a simmer, check for seasoning, and you’re done.
Friday - And again with pizza night - we’ll enjoy our pizza in front of the TV, and Jar will enjoy his Kong – it’s a nice, quiet end to the work week!
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 10.25.2013 Edition November 25, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in 101 Things, Family, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
Isn’t this charming? Actual SNOW covering the actual GROUND.
Well, we knew it was coming – after all, we live in upstate New York – of course it’s going to snow! And really, it’s not that bad – it was only a light coating, and we’ve got our boots and our coats and our gloves – our morning walk was . . . brisk.
Yeah that’s it. Brisk.
Jarly’s switch to raw feeding has been going very well for him. Last week’s introduction to pork was uneventful – he liked it just fine, and he had absolutely no problems with it – yay.
He’s also been enjoying some turkey – Thanksgiving came early for him, I guess! We bought a case of turkey wings, and we used some to make turkey stock (that’ll be so good for the gravy on Thanksgiving Day, won’t it?) – and the rest were divided up for future meals for the dog.
We discovered early on, though, that some hunks of meat – the stuff with bones, mostly – are apparently better enjoyed in the living room. It’s just a good thing we’ve got an old blanket handy that he can use!
So I mentioned that we made a batch of turkey stock. Once the wings had cooled, I picked the big whacking hunks of turkey meat off of the bones and have been using that for treats.
I’m telling you, I still can’t get over just how well the two of them are doing! Generally, they’re happy to lie this close to each other and just take turns getting their treats – I usually cue first one, then the other to look at me by saying their name. Usually Minerva Kitty is purring up a storm, just gobbling up her bits of yummy turkey, knowing The Jar is mere inches away from her.
After their initial introduction, I never would have expected it. Amazing, huh?
Oh, hey, remember my 101 Things List? Yeah, I know it’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten about it. Really.
I finally found a handbag I like – is that exciting or what? I have problems in that area – they’re either boring, or they wear out too soon, or they’re too big (and I look like an old lady carrying a “pocketbook” around) or they’re too small (and all my stuff doesn’t fit) or they don’t have enough pockets (and everything’s all jumbled together in there) or they have too many pockets (and I can’t FIND anything) . . . it’s been an ongoing challenge for a long time!
BUT I finally found one – it’s a nice, soft leather, with a light colored lining (so I can actually SEE when I’m rummaging around in there!), and I went a little crazy and bought the “burgundy” color instead of my normal “black” – not even for a minute considering that it would match my winter coat almost perfectly!
Don’t you love it when things work out like that?
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. It feels like a short week with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, doesn’t it? However, it’s going to be a chilly one!
Monday - Finally – a big pot of split pea soup! It’s almost done cooking – just needs to reheat and finish cooking in the CrockPot for a couple of hours. We should also have some nice leftovers, either for lunches or a weekend supper.
Tuesday - Do you know what we haven’t made in a while? Cinnamon and honey chicken tenders – and I think they’ll be really good either with some leftover butternut squash (if it’s still leftover by then) or maybe some sweet potatoes. And maybe some potatoes or something non-sweet.
Wednesday - Well, even though Thanksgiving is mere days away, we still went ahead and roasted a pork shoulder. This is SUCH a great meal, and we’ll have plenty of leftovers. Plus, it’s a perfect match for the veggie mash that we love so much. And hey, maybe a green salad because, well, why not?
Thursday - Thanksgiving! We’re driving to my parents’ house for the day, so no turkey here (though we did pick up a few for the freezer for later) – we’ll be bringing a couple of pies (apple, peach, grape, and that’s probably it, since Peeps tells me that any more than that would be “going overboard”), a sweet potato casserole, and rolls. Lots of rolls. Oh yeah, and turkey stock to go in the gravy.
Friday - Friday is pizza night as usual. I would imagine that it’ll be the basics – sauce, cheese and pepperoni for Peeps and just cheese and either olive oil or sauce for me. Jarly will, as always, enjoy a frozen stuffed Kong for pizza night.
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 11.18.2013 Edition November 18, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
This was our last trip to the Public Market before Thanksgiving – which meant we needed to be sure to pick up any produce we’d need for the holiday.
Which, really, isn’t that big a deal – we mainly wanted to be sure to find the guy with the truck backed into the market stall and get our annual Big Basket of Sweet Potatoes!
I ended up with just over 10 pounds, for about the same price as at the supermarket – I didn’t actually SAVE any money. But I did buy them directly from the farmer who grew them at least reasonably locally, so I’m going to score that a win.
Got a pumpkin, too, because, well, this is the only time you really see fresh sugar pumpkins, isn’t it?
And you know the guys at the market that we get the pork bellies from?
They’re an actual meat market on the other side of town from us, and they have a “kennel grind” – coarsely ground meat scraps and organ meat and other bits – it’s (obviously) just for dogs.
Well, Peeps called them this week and ordered 10 pounds of the stuff to pick up Saturday at the market. How great is that? (Especially for The Jar!)
So we were running a bit late when we made our weekly shopping trip, and there were a LOT of people at the supermarket.
Though it wasn’t really that late – I wonder if it has something to do with preparing for the upcoming holiday?
ANYWAY. We parked near a Honda that was almost identical to the one The Boy was driving for a while. And it was for sale!
Though I don’t think the owner was in too big a hurry to get rid of it – the phone number on the sign was all but obscured by one of the zillion stickers plastered all over the windows. I wonder if has any idea why he hasn’t gotten any calls yet?
Oh, and you’ll be just as relieved as I was to find out that my registration sticker arrived with Saturday’s mail – the actual day the old one expired!
I’m simply . . . astonished. that’s all.
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. Gosh, fall just hits, doesn’t it? I mean, one week, you’re out cleaning up the garden and tidying the yard, and the next, the trees are all bare and you’re thinking about stews and gloves and wool sweaters!
Monday - We picked up some fresh baby bok choy from one of our favorite vendors at the market. About the only thing I know to do with it is stir-fry, so, well, there it is. I’m sure there’s a package of “chicken scraps” in the freezer (left from trimming the freakishly huge chicken breasts we get), and and we’ve got carrots, scallions and green peppers, as well - we’ll be able to put together a perfectly passable stir fry!
Tuesday - Remember the butternut squash soup from last week? It was delightful, and we had a bit left. Since it was so thick, we’re going to try using it as a sauce this week for some manicotti – I made a quick filling with ricotta, cream cheese, some aged provolone, and lots of sage, chopped and sauteed quickly in a bit of butter. Stuffed into pasta, and smothered in the butternut
soup sauce, it should be a delightfully delicious meatless meal.
Wednesday - We’ve been wanting to start Jarly on pork – he hasn’t tried it yet, so we want to go slowly. (Our puppy has a delicate stomach, you know!) We had a pork loin roast in the freezer, from which we’ll cut a couple of chops for our dinner, and the rest will become part of Jar’s dinner the next couple of days. Along with the chops (grilled if we can manage it!) we’ve got some nice baked beans, and heaven knows we’ve got sweet potatoes to burn!
Thursday - Minimal Effort Thursday this week will be the minestrone I put together over the weekend. Nothing says fall like a pot of soup simmering on the back burner, does it? The soup’s all done (and tasting mighty good, too!) – Peeps will put in the crockpot to reheat, and it’ll just need a good handful of pasta tossed in, and once that’s cooked, we’re ready to go. How’s that for minimal effort?
Friday - What’s there to say about pizza night? We made so much sauce over the summer, and, while it was a bit of a pain in the neck then, we’re already glad we have it. I absolutely love the eggplant sauce I made – and I made two batches of the stuff!
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?