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Monday Musings: 04.14.2014 April 14, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in Garden, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
2 comments

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At long last – we bring you the Outside All Weekend Edition!

That’s right – the snow has melted, and our Rochester weather has been absolutely gorgeous!

Besides the endless cleaning and raking in the yard and garden, that also means my first load of sheets went out on the clothesline.  There’s just nothing like crawling into a freshly-made bed with line-dried sheets, is there?

Of course, these were flannel sheets that we’ve been using this past winter, and, hopefully, I won’t be putting them back on the bed for many, many months, but still.

Clothesline!

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Of course, laundry’s not the only thing that got done this weekend.

We spent a bit of time in the garden – clearing the old brush and leaves leftover from last fall, and uncovering the garlic we put in back in September!

I just find it amazing that you can take a few cloves of garlic, stick them in the ground, let them  sit there for months in the sub-zero temperatures we had this winter, and then, almost as soon as the ground is thawed, it comes back to life.

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I’m a little late on the lettuce and peas this year – I’d have liked to have started planting a couple of weeks ago, but, unfortunately, we had a foot or more of snow on the ground. . .

I haven’t put any peas in since the year, several years back, that the peas were just starting to form on the vines and we had a hail storm, which took them all out.

This year, I’m going with a row of snow peas (above) and a row of mixed lettuce.  I put the lettuce between a couple of rows of what will be tomatoes – I figure that by the time the tomatoes need the space, the lettuce will be done anyway.  Pretty clever of me, huh?

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Once we were finally done working in the yard for the day, and I was showered and had a nice big glass of ice water, I just took a little time to enjoy sitting outside, on the deck, in the sunshine, knitting.

In addition to Peeps, I also had the company of my faithful companion – Jarly has certainly found those old cushions that we saved last year quite comfortable!

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Of course, he may be a bit of a drama queen – it really wasn’t THAT hot out there!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  The weather forecast is all over the place this week – we’ve got some rain, we’ve got some snow (!), some sun, some chilly days – its just so hard to plan at this time of year!

Monday -  We almost never have ground beef lying around, but I’ve got about a pound leftover from burgers (on the grill!) the other  night – I’m thinking of trying this Moo Shu Sloppy Joes – only instead of on rolls, we’ll probably serve it on rice.

Tuesday - We found a good sized cache of chicken in the freezer last week, and Peeps mentioned that he’d really like the cinnamon-honey tenders that we haven’t had in simply AGES.  I’m not sure what we’ll have with them, though – probably some broccoli (seem to be the vegetable of convenience lately) and, I don’t know, some sort of grain or potato or something.

Wednesday -  We’d initially intended to make pork ragout with some leftovers from a pork roast, but it turned out the roast (a) was smaller than we’d have liked, and (b) had a big old bone in it.  There won’t be enough leftovers for that sauce.  However, because I always try to stay on top of things, I think I’m going to take that big old bone, throw it in the pressure cooker with some chicken stock, and then take whatever leftovers we do have and make a lovely, porky soup or stew.

Thursday - A while back, I saw this recipe for black bean burgers – we do try to eat meatless once a week, and sometimes we actually succeed!  While not exactly in keeping with our Minimal Effort Thursday policy, it just might work if I make the burgers ahead of time!

Friday - Which brings us back to pizza night - a night to park ourselves in front of the TV with our pizza and Jar with his Kong, and just sit back and relax.

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: 04.07.2014 Edition April 7, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in mirth & woe, Musings.
4 comments

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Well, another market week has come and gone.

We only visit the public market every two weeks – it’s just easier that way for us, I guess.  What I typically do is keep all the $1 and $5 bills I accumulate during that two weeks, and that’s what we spend.  It helps keep us from spending too much AND it doesn’t force the vendors to have to make change for us.

So anyway, it seems that, the more available cash we have on hand, the more stuff we find we “need” – have you noticed that?

Though really, citrus season is almost over – I DID need to stock up on grapefruits and oranges, and it just won’t do to let the kitty run out of her favorite treats, will  it?

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There was a lady there who was selling Ukranian hand-painted eggs.

We talked to her for a few minutes, and found out that she BLOWS THE EGGS, stains them, etches the pattern on them (using some sort of machine) and then paints it by hand.

Wow, huh?

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Now that the snow has finally melted (for real this time) (knock on wood), I got out to the garden to see if any of last year’s kale was worth harvesting.

Last year, we ended up pulling the remainder during a mid-winter thaw.  We didn’t get that this winter, unfortunately.   The best we got was when I could actually look out the window and see the kale bushes sticking out above the snow.

Yeah, I’m not about to even consider working in the garden then.

So, while we did have to compost more than I’d have liked, I did get it all cleaned, blanched and packaged up - enough for 3 meals for us.

Better than nothing, though.

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We decided to roast a chicken this weekend, and, as we usually do, first, Peeps butterflied it and seasoned it, to sit in the fridge  overnight.

And . . . he always has help when he does that!

We do get some mileage out of a roast chicken, I’ll admit.  Besides a a couple dinners for us, plus maybe a lunch or breakfast AND a couple of quarts of chicken stock, Jar also gets a meal out of it – he gets the back, the tail, and the “goody packet.”  That ends up being just about perfect for one meal for him.

I guess he likes to be sure he gets his fair share!

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Would you believe there’s STILL one blossom left on my Christmas cactus?

That starts blooming, what, around Halloween?

Crazy, huh?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.    While we’re hoping to start seeing some actual Spring weather,well, I’m pretty much at a “I’ll believe it when I see it” point.  I’d like to to some odds and ends cleared out of the freezer.  Now that we finally got the freezer emptied and defrosted, it’s important to keep rotating things in and out.

Monday -  We’ve got some of Peeps’s porkstrami thawing – that will get steamed (just like real pastrami!) and served on rye sandwich rolls that we’ll bake fresh. I’m trying another rye bread recipe – only instead of baking as one loaf, I’ll make 6 (or 8) rolls.  We’ll also probably do some salad and fries.

Tuesday - I found this interesting-sounding recipe for tuna, white bean and kale soup – which, in case you were wondering, is WHY I had to go to the garden and salvage the kale!

Wednesday - Since we’re roasting a chicken over the weekend, Peeps suggested chicken and dumplings.  I suspect our dumpling season is nearing an end for this year, and it’s SO good, so . . . why not?

Thursday - We are supposed to see some lovely spring weather this week, and by golly, we’re going to fire up the grill and slap a couple of steaks on it!  We’ll probably have some sort of potatoes and broccoli, just to keep things healthy, though.

Friday - The end of a long week – and any week that involves going to work every day is a long week! – calls for pizza night, doesn’t it?  Fresh pizza, Kong for the dog, and an evening of catching up on TV is just a great way to end the week, I think.

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: 03.31.2014 Edition March 31, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings.
2 comments

Boy, has it been a week or what? I, for one, will be MORE than happy to see the end of March!

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I mean . . . for a minute there, I actually thought we were going to have spring – the snow had melted, the sun was shining, the bulbs were starting to come up, and the birds were singing!  Geese were flying overhead – heading this way!

There were people in shorts (granted, young, kind of stupid people, but still).

The Jar even took his bone out to the deck on Saturday to bask and gnaw.

It was a beautiful thing.

 

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That was Saturday.

Then, Sunday, we woke up to snow – not just a dusting, oh no.  Measurable snow.

Enough so we had to wait for the plow guy to come by and do his thing in our driveway.  THAT’s how much snow.

I mean, sure, we probably could have shoveled the half a foot or so in order to get out and go to the supermarket, but (a) the plowing contract goes through April 1, and it’s still March, darnit, (b) I’ve been sick, and Peeps is fighting off the same bug, and (c) it was that kind of snow known as “heart attack snow” – the kind that’s wet and heavy and, well, you’re just asking to hurt yourself when you go out and shovel it.

So here’s hoping April brings us ACTUAL spring this week, eh?

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Speaking of Jarly and his bones, he’s accumulating quite a collection in the house of old bones.

Although he’s gotten used to lying out in the snow by now, he knows that, when he gets too cold, I don’t have the heart to make him leave his bone outside, so, once he gets the initial “ick” gnawed off, he usually brings them in and finishes them in the living room.

Peeps commented the other day that he might as well be leaving Legos lying around for us to step on!

I have to periodically go around and gather up all the old bones and get rid of them – generally when The Giant Toddler isn’t looking!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.

This is such a tricky time of year to try to plan meals – it’s just starting to warm up, and we’re DYING to fire up the grill.  But if we do, more likely than not, we’ll end up grilling in the rain.  That’s no good!

However, we still need to eat, right?

Monday - Our supermarket has coho salmon on sale this week – and, since salmon’s good for us and all, we picked some up.  Not sure yet what we’ll serve with it – probably broccoli and either brown rice or quinoa.  We’ve only tried quinoa once and were . . . less than excited by it.  I’d like to give it another try.  Maybe.

Tuesday - We pulled some chicken tenders out of the freezer – we love this creamy garlic chicken  with angel hair pasta – and we haven’t had it in AGES!

Wednesday - I few week ago, we bought two heritage pork chops from a farmer at the public market.  Two HUGE pork chops.  We cooked one that week, and the other went into the freezer – we’ll enjoy that this week.  These chops were fantastic – it’s been YEARS since I’ve had farm-fresh pork, and boy, have I missed it!  Small pan-roasted potatoes and some sort of vegetable on the side – the perfect mid-week meal.

Thursday -  In a fit of “take THAT Old Man Winter” I made a pot of chili.  A big pot of it.  We had it Sunday, and there’s plenty left to reheat for Minimal Effort Thursday.

Friday - Which brings us back to pizza night - cheese and pepperoni for Peeps, ricotta and mozzarella for me, and Kong for The Jar.  Such a nice relaxing end to a long week!

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: 03.24.2014 March 24, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
4 comments

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It was kind of a quiet week at the Public Market, I guess.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t gripe about the weather anymore, but the fact that it’s STILL WINTER may have had something to do with it.  Everyone’s just tired of the cold, I guess, and the fact that we’ve been “spoiled” for the past few winters, well, that’s starting to wear a little thin around here.

I did pick up some snow peas which will be lovely in a stir-fry this week, and the bean guy had chick peas, which he’s never had before, so of course we had to pick up some.

Gosh I’m looking forward to seeing some actual fresh, local produce soon!

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As an adult, how often do you get sick?  I don’t mean “under the weather” or taking a “sick day” sick – I mean SICK IN BED sick.

When I smoked, lo these many years ago, I regularly had sinus infections and the occasional bronchitis, which made me pretty miserable, but, thankfully, I haven’t had those problems since I quit.  I did have chicken pox a few years back – I was about 30.  I was sure sick then!  I’m talking sick in bed.  The Boy (who was around 8 at the time) was fixing his own breakfast and packing his own lunches for school.

This past week, though, wow, I don’t think I’ve been this sick since then.

Monday, I didn’t feel well, but I had some stuff that HAD to get done at the office, so I went in, did what needed to be done, and came home and went to bed.

Tuesday, I still didn’t feel well, but I had a bond closing, so I went in, took care of that, and went home and went to bed.

Wednesday, I just stayed home and slept half the day.

By Thursday, you know how, sometimes you’re not feeling so good, but you get up and get moving anyway and you sort of start feeling better?

Yeah, that didn’t work this time.

So Friday, I stayed home, slept all day, and when Peeps got home from work, I was actually still sleeping.

Saturday, I felt up to going to the Public Market (barely), and we stopped on the way home, because I needed to restock on Nyquil, cough syrup, lotion-y tissues (you should have SEEN how red my nose was!) and a big old bag of cough drops.

And now, I’m starting to feel human again.  Thank goodness.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.    They say the first day of spring was last week, but I’ll buy into it when there’s NO SNOW in the forecast!  I’m still not feeling 100 percent – maybe around 75% I’d say – so we’re trying to keep things as simple as we can.

Monday - We picked up some Alaskan whitefish on sale – it’s a mild, tender fish that works well with a lot of flavors.  We’ve baked tilapia in an Old Bay-butter sauce, so we’ll try it with this whitefish.  Small red potatoes and sweet potatoes should round out the meal nicely.

Tuesday -  We broke into the mole stash – I’m just going to quickly brown a couple of chicken breasts, then finish cooking them in the mole sauce – it’ll be a nice change!  What’ll even make it nicer will be a side of Mexican rice!  We may have a can of refried beans knocking around that would go nicely, as well.

Wednesday -  We picked up some “pork tenderloin tips” at our local butcher shop the other day – they were ridiculously cheap, and I think they’ll be fantastic for stir-fry.  Like. . . with the snow peas and peppers I picked up at the market, not to mention the broccoli that’s still in the produce drawer.

Thursday - Since we scored some chickpeas at the market this week, we decided to make this chick pea and chorizo dish that we’ve enjoyed before.  The only thing we didn’t care for was the spinach – believe it or not, that kind of ruined it for us.  So, since we’re the boss of our dinner, we’re just going to leave it out.  We’ll serve the chick peas with either pasta or rice (we’ll decide which we’re more in the mood for) and maybe – MAYBE a vegetable.

Friday - And again, I say yay for pizza night!  We’ve got an assortment of sauces and toppings (roasted tomato or eggplant sauce,  ricotta cheese, salami, pepperoni, roasted artichokes – we like to mix it up a little!) and, of course, the Kong for Jarly – everyone’s a winner!

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: 03.17.2014 Edition March 17, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in Eating Down the Fridge, meal plan monday, Musings.
8 comments

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Boy, has this week been a rough ride or what?  I mean, talk about “in like a lion,” huh?  Maybe a psychotic, schizophrenic lion!

Tuesday, we had temperatures in the 50s – it was gorgeous!

Wednesday, we got about 20 inches of snow, more or less, depending on which side of town – go ahead and guess which side we’re on!

Thursday – single-digit temperatures, then, by Friday, back into the 50s again.

And now we’ve been hovering in the 20-30 degree range since.

Who do I talk to about this, anyway?  I mean . . . it’s St. Patrick’s Day, for Pete’s sake!  How about a little o’ the green, eh?  Grass that is – I’d love to see some green, green grass!

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We roasted a chicken over the weekend and used a new spice rub – a Moroccan blend, with 16 different additions.  You know, I love putting together blends with lots of different spices in a Mason jar – it’s like making sand art.   Isn’t that pretty cool?

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Did you ever have that moment when you realize that you’ve actually turned into your mother?

Now I don’t mean like when your grandmother tells you that you look “just like your mother did at that age, deary.”  No, I mean that moment when it just strikes you that you ARE your parent.

I thought that had happened when I realized that I’d heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth – and not just once, either.   Did you ever warn your kid NOT to make you pull over this car?  Or ask him, mid-whine, if he’d like you to GIVE him something to cry about?  Yeah, that’s got your parents written all over it, doesn’t it?

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It wasn’t even the day my mother and I were out somewhere (I don’t even remember where) and I realized that we were wearing the same shoes.  We’d each chosen them at different times, in different stores, completely independently of each other, but they were the SAME EXACT SHOES.

Nope.  The day I started driving my mother’s car – that was it.

Now I’m not talking about a car just like my mother’s – no.

I mean the actual minivan, bought brand new and paid for by my parents, driven by my mother, and now, owned and driven yours truly.

I could go all into the tale of woe about check engine lights and (yet more) expensive repairs to the Volvo, but at the end of the day – I bought the minivan from my parents, and now I’m driving my mother’s old car, and honestly, I don’t even hate it.

Maybe becoming your mother isn’t such an awful thing after all.  Huh.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  We’ve gotten a little off-course with our “no-shopping weeks,” so we’ve re-instituted it this week.  We’re clearing some of the older stuff out of the freezer, and putting the budgeted grocery money aside for future bulk meat purchases.  We’ve found that this works well for us.

Monday - The last time I made a big pot of sauce, I stashed a quart in the freezer.  That came out, so Monday is spaghetti with meat sauce.  And as a bonus, Peeps is going to pull some pizza dough out of the freezer and make garlic bread.

Tuesday - A couple of months ago, we received our Cook’s Country magazine, and Peeps was riveted to the recipe for Tourtière – a French-Canadian pork pie.  This particular recipe uses ground pork shoulder and shredded potatoes in the filling and the fantastic crust from the Moravian chicken pie – we’ve had a hunk of pork stashed in the freezer to make this since we saw the recipe, so this is the time!

Wednesday - We roasted a chicken this weekend, so I’ll make pressure cooker stock from the rack and use that, and the leftover chicken, for some chicken and dumplings – only this time, the “dumplings” are going to be these “pot pie squares” which actually seem like noodles to me.  This’ll be fun, huh?

Thursday - We picked up a spiral ham a while back, which we promptly cooked, enjoyed, and then returned to the freezer in smaller packages.  Along with those packets of ham, we also stashed the ham bone for soup – I’m so looking forward to my favorite split pea soup with ham!

Friday - And again, after a long week, it’s pizza night.  We picked up a couple of pounds of hard salami when it was on sale last week, and the great thing about salami (besides how wonderful it is on pizza)  is that it’s got so much salt and other preservatives that it keeps very well – we can keep it for a couple of weeks!

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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