Monday Musings: 05.20.2013 Edition May 20, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Family, meal plan monday, Musings.
Boy what a week it’s been!
You’ll recall from last week how Peeps and I were both having mother issues – his mom came through her surgery just fine and is feeling well enough to, well, she’s kind of giving the hospital staff a rough time, so I guess that’s a good sign, right?
My mother had her procedure, too, and, fortunately she didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital, and both my parents spent Friday evening and Saturday morning with us before heading home. And of course, Saturday morning included a trip to the Public Market – I not only got my regular produce and eggs, but I got a flat of cute little violas for this year’s window boxes (Mother helped me pick them out).
I do still have to get a few more plants – some hangy stuff and maybe something a little taller. . . then I’ll get everything properly planted. But for now, aren’t they cute?
The perennial portion of the herb garden is, well, it’s perennial, huh? I did divide the thyme and the oregano a couple of weeks ago, and next year, I may do the same to the tarragon and the sage. Maybe even the lavender.
Meanwhile, the new stuff – dill, basil, rosemary, and a couple more parsleys – are settling in nicely, so I guess we can have plenty of fresh herbs to look forward to this summer.
We came home from visiting Peeps’s mom Saturday evening, and we were TIRED and HUNGRY – it had been a long day (week) and it was well past dinnertime.
As it happens, one of the things I picked up at the market was a package of romaine hearts, and the current issue of Cook’s Country featured a grilled Caesar salad which sounded quite good. While the recipe includes homemade dressing (and, of course, I had to make the mayonnaise before I could make the dressing!) anyway, I’m sure a decent bottled caesar or creamy parmesan dressing would work just fine.
The deal was – you cut the lettuce in half, leaving the core in to hold it together, and then brush the cut side with dressing before slapping it on the grill.
That’s right – grilled lettuce.
AND, since we had some leftover roasted chicken breast, I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything to give a couple of slices of that meat the same treatment – brush with dressing and reheat it gently on the grill.
It was the perfect late, light dinner, and, even making the dressing from scratch, it came together in well under half an hour.
I do still plan to get rid of that gosh-awful linoleum tile in the front entry – even though I have no idea what kind of shape the hardwood will be in when I do.
Since it’s such a cruddy job, and my discretionary time seem to be somewhat limited lately, I’ve decided it may work better to just clean up a dozen or so tiles at a time – I have to scrape the tiles off, then remove what appears to be a double-thick layer of some sort of adhesive, then I need to thoroughly clean up the solvent that actually softens the glue.
Someday, the floors will need to be refinished anyway, but for now, I think I much prefer the spotty, paint-spotted, and scratched hardwood to the awful plastic tile or, even worse, that fugly old blue carpet.
And I think Jar agrees.
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. We still don’t know what the Peeps’s Mom Situation will be, so we’re going to try to keep things as manageable as we can. Although it’s looking to be a spring-like week, it’s also looking like we may see a bit of rain, so . . .
Monday - Between a late day at work, forgetting to pre-prep the meal, and hospital visits, we ended up putting off last week’s falafel, so we’re going to remedy that right away. The falafel mix is made and in the fridge, as is the dough for whole-wheat pitas.
Tuesday - While we were rummaging in the freezer looking for shrimp (which we did NOT find), we did come across one last package of Chinese pork, all cut into cubes and ready for a batch of fried rice. Okay.
Wednesday - And since we’re pre-cooking rice for Tuesday, we’ll do a little extra for some (meatless) veggie burgers we noticed while thumbing through the current Bon Appetit magazine. And again, the dough for honey-whole wheat burger rolls is also made and in the fridge.
Thursday - Seasonally warm weather notwithstanding, while we were digging in the freezer, we found a smoked pork shoulder that Peeps had put aside for his favorite meaty beans – that’ll probably also be another future dinner and several lunches, I’m sure.
Friday - And as always, it’s pizza night. At this point, we don’t know what the head count will be, but I’d imagine that even if Peeps’s mom doesn’t make it over for pizza, she’d probably not mind some delivery!
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
Monday Musings: 05.13.2013 Edition May 13, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
Since I’m actually writing this on Sunday, I want say “happy Mothers Day” - at least to anyone to whom it applies!
Remember how we bought that little live Christmas tree last year? Well, the weather finally got nice enough that Peeps put it in the ground last week – it’s been close to a week, and it seems to be adjusting nicely! I’ll probably prune it next year, once it’s had a chance to get used to its new home.
Have I mentioned that that silly cat comes scooting out to the living room almost the minute the dog goes out on his afternoon walks?
It’s almost like she’s staking out her territory – either that, or checking to make sure he hasn’t hurt anything.
The other day, I actually caught her on the bookshelf!
I wasn’t sure if she was planning to start poking around in my sock yarn, but then, when I caught her trying to drink out of my water glass, I knew what she was up to.
Just so you know, it’s not like she doesn’t have her own fresh water – apparently she prefers people water. Iced people water.
So we went to the pubic market this weekend – it’s the first week of Flower City Sundays. Rather than produce and other foodibles, the vendors during this time have plants and flowers.
Although I wanted some nice perennials and some pretty annuals for the window boxes, I didn’t really see anything that struck my fancy. Except hostas – I found a great deal on some hostas, so I grabbed them. I’ll get flowers next week.
However, flowers aside, the REAL main reason I was at the market this weekend was to finish getting plants for the garden.
I got plenty of tomatoes – my Beloved JetStars, a few heirlooms, some cherry tomatoes, and a few Romas, as well as basil, parsley and marjoram.
Now I just need it to stop raining and get warm again so I can get them all in the ground!
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.
Well, I guess, here in upstate New York, when it comes to nice weather, it’s easy come easy go, huh? The past couple of weeks have been warm and sunny – and now we’ve got some chilly, rainy weather to look forward to, at least for the first part of the week, and, as always, we plan our menu with one eye on the forecast.
Tuesday - I’m hoping it’s going to clear up enough to fire up the grill – the newest Cook’s Country came last week, and we thought the grilled meatloaf burgers sounded good. Don’t they? And as long as the grill is going, we can grill some potatoes and either toss a salad steam some broccoli.
Wednesday - We also just got the newest Cooking Light magazine – and we have leftover roasted chicken to use. The Peanut Chicken Soup sounded quite nice – light and flavorful AND different and exiting.
Thursday - While digging around in the archives looking for something meatless (we DO try to do meatless once a week!), I found the Chef Mom’s falafel. If I remember, I may make some kind of yogurt-tahini sauce or something for it. And what, salad?
Friday - Ah, the end of the week, and it’s Kong and pizza night. Not sure, yet, what we’ll do. Can you tell I’m starting to get a little anxious for my garden? Boy, once those tomatoes come in, it’s all tomatoes all the time! For now, though, I guess I’ll go with maybe cheese and whatever fresh herbs I can scrounge out of the garden at this point. It’ll work.
Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.
On Good Intentions May 9, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, Rochester.
No, this isn’t going to be a mea culpa or a load of excuses about where I’ve been lately. I’ve been busy, I’ve been tired, and I’ve been blowing my nose a lot. Not much to talk about there, is there?
However, I did read an article the other day that made me stop and think about whether I’d pay more to support a local business.
Like most people these days, we generally try to be as budget-conscious (read: frugal) (re-read: cheap) as we can, although, again, like many people, we each have our, well, shall we say indulgences?
Currently, my biggest indulgence seems to be sock yarn. For every Christmas gift project I buy yarn for, I seem to be buying enough extra, “undesignated” yarn for at least a couple of pairs of socks.
So naturally, when the question was posed, I did stop and think – quite a bit. In this age of big-box stores and internet sales, it’s often almost impossible to get the “best price” locally anymore, unless you count the Walmart down the street as “local business,” though I don’t think anyone really does, do they?
I do realize that I’m fortunate to have access to our great Public Market – where farmers and other vendors gather year-round. Ah, but the key there is “vendors” – they’re not all local farmers!
Um, obviously not, if I can manage to bring home artichokes and citrus, huh?
But many of the vendors are local farmers, and in a number of cases, I’ve made a deliberate choice to support the small businesses – but not in all cases.
I’m not going to pay $4.00 a dozen for “organic free range” eggs, when regular old eggs are half that at the supermarket. However, I’m happy to pay an extra $.50 for DIFFERENT eggs that are cage- and antibiotic-free.
I just can’t see paying $10 a pound for homegrown beef at this point, though it’s under serious consideration once the freezers are emptied.
Asparagus – last week, I paid DOUBLE for asparagus that had been picked locally the day before in preference to the stuff that had been picked who-knows-when and shipped in from Mexico.
Okay, so the food thing is easy – locavore, fossil fuels, blah blah blah.
But there’s a little more to it, isn’t there? What about stuff that’s not made, grown, produced, whatever, locally?
Say. . . what about that sock yarn that I’ve been so in love with lately? There are not a lot of superwash sheep grazing around the greater Rochester area, let me tell you!
So what about that? Things we need (let’s just agree that we need sock yarn, okay?) but must be imported from SOMEWHERE, in SOME manner.
I’ll be honest – THIS is where where I really had to do some honest soul-searching – when it came to my sock habit. How sad is that?
Sure, I could probably hunt out some old lady who spins yarn from her own homegrown sheep – I guess. And quite possibly, not RIDICULOUSLY far away. There are both Amish and Mennonite communities within a couple of hours of here. I’m probably not gonna do that, though.
Then there are local yarn shops – there are two that are easily (the most minor of detours) on my way home. And the people there are SO nice. SO helpful. But MAN, the yarn is expensive. And truly, the selection, well, they can’t stock everything, can they? And apparently socks aren’t even the only thing people knit! But I am reasonably confident that, if I ever had a question on anything I was doing, there would be someone here, in one of those shops,who could help me out.
There is, of course, the Big Box option – and, even worse, the online Big Box – what an individual store may or may not stock, I can certainly get from their online versions, if I wanted to.
This is my dilemma – shopping at the local shop is the most expensive, cost-wise, but it also provides the best service, AND it does the most to support my community. But WOW, it can be expensive.
Shopping at the Big Box, while the product may be a bit (or a lot) cheaper, customer service is virtually non-existent, AND any profits will end up far, far from here.
BUT that Big Box does, at least, employ my neighbors. Hmmmm. . .
While those aren’t the ONLY two options, they’re certainly the most local ones. There’s also the online mom-and-pop shops – stores that do mail-order that are, in fact, local yarn shops, just not local HERE. But their profits stay in their community, rather than going into the corporate pockets of some multi-national conglomerate.
What’s a gal to do?
What about you? Do you prefer to shop locally, even if it means spending a little more, or would you rather save the money?
Monday Musings: 05.06.2013 Edition May 6, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Food, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff.
Ah, a glorious weekend, with a wonderful trip to the Public Market!
Although I’d planned to wait a week or two to start filling the garden, I did pick up the seed potatoes I’d ordered a couple of months ago – and then I could not resist a couple of plants for the herb garden – but the bulk of my garden plant buying will take place next weekend.
One thing I was THRILLED to find was fresh, local asparagus! I’ve been seeing it for several weeks, but it’s all been shipped in. I prefer to wait for the local stuff that was picked the day before I bought it – and who can blame me?
Yay – roasted asparagus this weekend!
Well, I had a bit of a lull at work, so I took a couple of days of vacation time – goodness knows I’ve needed it!
I mostly puttered around, got my hair cut, had a doctor’s appointment, that sort of thing.
But, with the absolutely stellar weather we’ve been enjoying, I did make time each day to pour myself a frosty beverage (usually icewater) and sit out on the deck for a while and just knit. Although those Christmas socks aren’t going to knit themselves, I’ve got half a year for that. For now, I’m working on a pair for myself.
Judy, aren’t you proud of me?
The kale and lettuce that I planted last week? Yup, it’s up.
I started some celery seeds, too, in the house, but I’m not so sure about them. They’re up, but I think I was a bit late starting them – like a couple of months. And I think celery takes a little more fussing than I realized. I don’t know what they’re going to do.
Anyone out there ever (successfully) grow celery? Or should I just put peppers in instead?
Several years ago, a friend gave me a few ferns that she’d dug out of her back yard.
All I really know about ferns is that they like shady, damp spots, so I planted them along the edge of under the deck, the idea being that, eventually they’d spread and fill in that area, and we’d remove the skirting. (The operative word being “eventually.”)
Well, they spread all right – right into the herb garden! I have no idea how they got there, or WHY they thought they wanted to live with the tarragon, but we dug two baby ferns up and transplanted them back to their under-the-deck home.
They survived the night, anyway. I do think they’ll be much happier there, too.
Minerva Kitty had herself quite the adventure this weekend!
Peeps had the back door open, and she scooted out and made a run for it! She does that about once a year – I think she goes out, plays Jungle Kitty for an hour or so, then has enough and hangs around until someone lets her in, though we do worry about her while she’s gone – she’s not as young as she once was, you know!
So anyway, she ran outside, hung around underneath the neighbors’ camper playing Jungle Kitty for a bit, and came back in.
I spent a bit of time imposing order on the herb garden this weekend, too. I finally dug up about half of the oregano and moved it over to the other side of the yard. Basically, I don’t care what it does over there – if it survives (as if anything will kill it!) it’ll make a perfectly fine (and fragrant) ground cover around the holly bush. And meanwhile, the remaining oregano now has room to grow again.
I thinned out the thyme, too, and trimmed the sage. I also gave the mint a good warning.
And I put four (FOUR!) dill plants in (they came in a 4-pack, so why not) and a couple of rosemary plants. Still to go – 4 more parsley plants, a few basils, and a couple of marjoram plants. That should do it for this year..
A couple of years ago, I picked up this cute little chest at a fundraiser. I think it was supposed to be a toy chest, but, well, I really don’t need a place for toys, and I’d planned to use it to store hats and gloves and such in the front entry.
Well, I never got around to finishing it, and with the new bathroom and closet out there, there’s just not a good spot for it.
So I’ve decided that Jar needs a new elevated feeder. His current one, well, I hate it. It’s ugly, it’s not sturdy, and have I mentioned that I don’t like it? So I cut a couple of dish-sized holes in the lid, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sanding (a LOT), priming, painting, then polyurethaning this little chest.
I can’t wait to get it done!
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. After the chilly, lame spring we’ve had, we are LOVING this gorgeous stretch! I mean, will you LOOK at this? Truly, does it get any better?
Monday - We watched a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen, where they grilled a turkey. On the actual grill! When we saw that, we had to ask – how easy would it be to grill a chicken the same way? (Answer: I’ll let you know!) A little steamed broccoli, and some sweet potatoes that we have hanging around in the freezer, and we should be set!
Tuesday - Jar’s got a vet’s appointment so we want dinner to be reasonably quick. I picked up some nice whole wheat rolls at the public market, so we put together a small batch of Italian sausage – and I think there’s some provolone in the fridge, which will be perfect. We also made some coleslaw with some cabbage that was knocking around and the last of the mayo.
And because I can’t get the Tuesday Afternoon appointment out of my mind:
Wednesday - Since we were making sausage, we took the rest of the pork shoulder and hacked it up, some of which will go to make souvlaki. I’m going to try pan-braising some potatoes with lemon and herbs – I’ll let you know on that, too. We are also going try making some pitas with Peeps’s baguette dough. Fingers crossed.
Thursday - Have I mentioned that one of the things I do on our morning walks is listen to podcasts? Yeah, and one of them is The Splendid Table. One of the guests discussed Indian food, specifically dal, which is, apparently, not just lentils! This particular recipe sounded really good (and easy!) and call for split peas, which we happen have a surplus of from last fall. I also hope to get ambitious enough to make some naan.
Friday - As always, Friday night is pizza night - if there’s something leftover that will go nicely on pizza, it’ll be on mine, otherwise I think I’ll go with roasted artichokes and provolone. Peeps and his mom usually opt for the basic pepperoni and 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: 04.29.2013 Edition April 29, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Eating Down the Fridge, Food, meal plan monday, Musings.
Let me just start out the week by saying – where the heck did April go? I mean, the last thing I remember, we were looking at rainy forecasts, chilly mornings, and braised stews. And now just LOOK out there – it’s SPRING!
I’ve had a slightly-more-social-than-usual week this past week. Besides the regular work stuff (I have GOT to schedule a vacation!) there was that wine-tasting thing with the Women’s Forum, hosted by (the women of) a local law firm. It was, of course, quite nice, if rather crowded.
Then Saturday evening, Peeps and I attended a meet-up with a group of people from one of the discussion forums I frequent- including the three husbands, there were 15 people, some who had traveled from various parts of upstate New York, Canada, and even North Carolina. What a fun group!
Speaking of stew, last week’s Belgian Beef, Onion & Beer stew was fantastic with the polenta. However, we set aside half of the stew to enjoy another night, but there’s really not a good stew night coming up any time soon, so . . . into the freezer it went. We’ll make it a point, though, to finish it sooner, rather than later, fear not!
We’ve been trying, between our oh-so-many social engagements, to keep up with stuff around the house and yard.
Gosh, spring is a busy time, isn’t it? The garden is mostly tilled, I’ve gotten lettuce and kale in, and we finally replaced those old chair cushions on the deck furniture!
Although the old cushions were awfully worn, a couple of them still had some life left in them, so . . . guess who’s got himself a nice, weather-resistant deck bed to enjoy when he’s being solar puppy?
So, I don’t know if it’s the camera, or the software, or just me (most likely), but when I transferred the photos from the camera to the computer this afternoon, all but one looked mighty familiar – it turns out that for some reason, when I uploaded photos last week, they didn’t get deleted from the camera, so they uploaded again.
I have no idea.
Have I mentioned that I should really schedule a vacation? Yeah, now you see what I mean, don’t you?
And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan. It’s looking like we’re looking forward to all nice, all the time! We may have a couple of drops of rain Monday (morning), then it’s all 70 and sunny for the rest of the week.
Does it get much better than that?
Monday - In the spirit of getting stuff out of the freezer, we’re finishing the rest of the turkey we roasted a couple of weeks ago – along with the gravy. And if you’ve been here any amount of time, you’d have guessed by now that leftover turkey + gravy = hot turkey sandwiches around here!
Tuesday - Okay, so enough with that winter food! We’re firing up the grill and, again in the spirit of pulling stuff OUT of the freezer, we’ll enjoy some lovely Korean beef – we used short ribs from the freezer (though the bones went right back, either for future stock, or for quick dog-distractions), the marinade was also in the freezer, AND we’ll have some green beans, also from the freezer. Go team freezer!
Wednesday - We decided to do some very simple, very basic grilled chicken tenders, which we’ll finish with some sauce we had left from last week’s salmon. The sauce was an old recipe from The Archives, with something of an Asian flavor, and I think it’ll go nicely with some sort of roasted sweet potatoes (the clock is ticking there!) and some Brussels sprouts that I picked up on quick sale at the supermarket.
Thursday - Although it’s neither grilled nor coming out of the freezer, Peeps and I stopped at Sam’s Club and picked up a pork shoulder for no other reason than we want to do taco night, darnit. However, we will be working on a stash of flour tortillas that I’d like to use up before they get stale, so there’s that!
Friday - As always, Peeps’s mom is coming over for pizza and Kong night. (We have the pizza, and Jar has the Kong.) I scored a bunch of only-slightly the-worse-for-wear artichoke hearts the other day, so I cleaned and roasted the little buggers, and I’ll be enjoying THOSE on my pie – I don’t know about anyone else (though I would probably share)!