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Monday Musings: 03.10.2014 Edition March 10, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Stupor Kitty.
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Hopefully, this will be the last – or close to it, anyway – of the COLD market trips!  Boy, it’s just not as much fun shopping for produce when the temperatures are stubbornly stuck in the teens, is it?  We’re still a ways away from anything truly “fresh” – though I picked up some Meyer lemons, so there’s that.

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One cool thing we noticed – the City is installing a vehicle charging station right there at the public market!  

It’s starting to look like I should start saving up for my Tesla, huh?  By the time I can afford one, there should be charging stations on every corner, huh?

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So. This happened.

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I don’t know if you remember – I’ve mentioned once or twice how we have Treat Time in the mornings, right?

Basically, I sit down on the kitchen floor with the dog on one side of me, and the cat on the other, and we play the Name Game.

No, not that one.

Basically, I sit between the two of them, and, as long as they’re paying attention to ME (and not each other), I’ll say one of their names.  When the owner of the name looks at me, he or she gets a treat, and I mark that with a click of the clicker.

Sounds kind of silly, huh?  Especially with a, um, mature kitty.  (She’s about 13 years old.)

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Well.  The other evening, while Peeps was walking the dog, I was cleaning up the dishes and the kitty was frolicking around the dog-free living room, like she does.

As we’d had turkey with gravy for dinner, there happened to be a pan with some nice homemade turkey gravy that, any other time, I would have let the dog give a quick lick to (it’s FAR more effective than pre-rinsing) before washing.

But the dog wasn’t there.

So . . . more in a conversational way than anything else, I said “hey, Minerva Kitty!” and would you believe this!  She came RUNNING back to the kitchen like her tail was on fire!

So the moral of the story is this:  not only can you teach an old DOG new tricks, you can teach an old CAT some tricks too!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  Boy oh boy, can I just say – again – that I have had ENOUGH winter!  I mean, yeah, we love the hearty, warm foods and all, but we like salad, too.  And grilled stuff.  BUT we still do what we can to eat seasonally, and right now, the calendar notwithstanding, the season is winter.

Monday - Our supermarket had Norwegian salmon on sale, so, since it’s been a while since we’ve had any salmon, we thought that would be a nice change.  I’m thinking of pan-searing or roasting it with some sort of apple-bourbon glaze.   I also couldn’t stand it anymore, so I picked up some imported asparagus, which will be roasted to go with the salmon.  Baked potatoes and fresh bread will finish the meal.

Tuesday - We have a gift certificate for Applebee’s that’s expiring shortly, so, well, that.

Wednesday - We haven’t enjoyed our pasta with lentils in ages – and I just picked up lentils at the market, too.  I may try pre-cooking them in the pressure cooker, just for the heck of it.

Thursday - As we were rummaging in the freezer, we found a package of three NY strip steaks – so we defrosted them, split one for a steak-and-egg breakfast later in the week, and I used the remaining two steaks in a vegetable-beef soup.  After all, if spring’s not going to come, we may as well enjoy some more soup, right?

Friday - And again, it’s pizza night - Peeps has started making the crust the Sunday before (instead of Tuesday, like he used to) and would you believe, the pizza is better than ever?  Seriously!

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: 02.03.2014 Edition February 3, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, meal plan monday, Musings, random stuff, Stupor Kitty.
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Boy, it’s been a long, cold week, hasn’t it?

And clearly, The Jar is suffering from cabin fever, just like the rest of us!

Poor thing – he wants to go out and WALK and even RUN!  Then we get outside, and before we know it, his little (big) feet are cold and he’s walking funny and he’s ready to come IN.

He’s spent a good portion of a couple of evenings trying to get us to play ball with him – in the living room.  Now I don’t know about your house, but mine is far too small to have a 115-pound beast gallumping around chasing a tennis ball. That’s how houses get broken!  So he eventually settled for picking the yellow fuzz off the tennis ball instead.

I keep saying – it’s just like having a giant furry toddler in the house.

(And yes, we took him out to get weighed last week - someone is going to need to drop a few pounds, I think.  Someone else, that is.)

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And the kitty has finally done it – she’s broken the Kitty Code.

When we finally got a couple of hours of above-freezing temperatures Saturday, I took the opportunity to fill Kongs – it’s amazing how much easier that is when you don’t have someone trying to shove his big furry nose on the counter and barking his fool head off at you because he WANTS SOME RIGHT NOW.

Of course, I’ve got furry little meowing going on instead.  So. . . I let her lick the can.  That would be the Mighty Dog can.  Then I took a picture of her with her face in the dog food can.  Ha.

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It’s been just about 3 months since we’ve switched Jarly to a raw diet, and, overall, I have to say, we’re very happy with it.

We haven’t seen any sign of any of the stomach issues he’s suffered in the past, which is great.  And he’s pretty much always had a rash on his stomach, which got a little better when we changed kibble, and better yet when we cut out peanut butter, but it’s always still been there.  Now it’s completely gone.

Now that we’ve found several decent sources of meat, it’s actually much cheaper than kibble too – and, additionally, kibble itself has become something of a treat!

The only downside?  Raw liver.  (Actually, organ meat in general.)  Do you have any idea how awkward (and disgusting) it is to cut up a 20-pound beef liver?

The things we do for our pets, eh?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.   We seem to have fallen in a bit of a rut when it comes to dinner – I don’t know what’s going on.  Winter blues, maybe.  Some days, if I didn’t already have the meal plan, I swear, I’d just scramble a couple of eggs and call it dinner.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that . . . but then what would we do for breakfast?

Monday -Our local supermarket had Alaskan cod on sale, AND I have fennel in the fridge, so we’re going to try cod with fennel and potatoes.  Should be interesting, no?

Tuesday - Since we made a big old pot of sauce last weekend, it was a no-brainer to make a big old pan of lasagna this weekend, right?  That’s all made and ready to just pop in the oven when I get home.  Then it’s leftovers for breakfast, too!

Wednesday - We managed to separate those two pork chops I got at the market last weekend, so we’re going to split one of them between us – the other went back in the freezer.  The chop is about 2 inches thick, and I’m going to cook them basically the way Alton Brown did rib-eye steaks on Good Eats – pan-seared, then finished in the oven.  We’ll do baby potatoes and beet rösti, which I LOVE.

Thursday - For Minimal Effort Thursday, we’ve got some beef and barley soup up.  I used a couple of boneless short ribs in the soup, and I kind of (ahem) beefed up the flavor with some chopped mushrooms.  While neither of us is a fan of mushrooms on their own (the texture is weird), I chopped them chopped fine and cooked them until they all but disappeared – they add the hearty flavor without the icky texture.

Friday - And again, it’s pizza night.  You’ll recall that we had lasagna earlier in the week, which means leftover ricotta filling.  I just can’t seem to get it even!  Either I have too much sauce and run out of filling, or too much filling and run out of sauce, or, as in this case, too much lasagna and ran out of pan!  Anyway, we already know that ricotta filling on pizza is delicious, so it’s not such a bad thing to have some left over!

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: 08.19.2013 Edition August 19, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Big Lug, Food, Home, meal plan monday, Stupor Kitty.
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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Monday Musings: 01.21.2013 Edition January 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, this weekend, we tried it again.

Apparently, her new motto is:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on you again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday Musings: 01 14 2013 Edition January 14, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Eating Down the Fridge, meal plan monday, random stuff, Stupor Kitty.
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Another market week, another pile of produce!  (Pay no attention to those mini cheesecakes – I have no idea how they got there!)

You know, I started out with a very short list – carrots, celery, snow peas, leeks.   And I even forgot the leeks!

But one thing I’ve learned at the Public Market is to jump on a good deal when you see it, because it won’t be there next time.  Which is why I bought 3 avocados (for a buck), two freakishly huge sweet potatoes (a buck again) and even a bag of Meyer lemons (yet another dollar).

So. . . since I’ve never actually used Meyer lemons, I’ll be looking for cool, exciting things to do with them this week!
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Last week we roasted a chicken, which was, as usual, very good.  One of the best things about roast chicken, though, is chicken salad sandwiches, am I right?

However, to make chicken salad, you need mayonise, and I haven’t actually bought mayonnaise in, well, a long time. But as much as I love my homemade mayo (I scoff at Hellman’s now!),I do have to plan ahead a bit- so the other day, I pulled an egg out of the fridge so it would be room-temperature that afternoon.  And, just in case I forgot, I asked Peeps to remind me.

We communicate like this you see:  I wrote “for mayo” on the egg and set it on top of the coffee canister.  He came home from work, saw my notated egg, and probably shook his head.  Maybe he even rolled his eyes.

Then, when I got home, he said “did you seriously WRITE on an EGG?” thus reminding me to make mayonnaise.

See how that worked out?

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Remember all that snow we had last week? What was it, about 3 feet of the stuff?

Yeah, that’s all gone now.  This weekend, the temperatures were, I kid you not, near 70.  In January.  In Rochester.

The perfect time to get out to my garden!  See, kale is what they call a “hardy” green – it can withstand a little cold and snow.  Or even, apparently, a LOT of cold and snow!

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(For what it’s worth, just a couple of days ago, all those plants were buried – I couldn’t even see where they were, let alone pick anything!)

So I went out and picked my kale and stuffed it into a 5-gallon bucket.  And piled it onto the bucket.

I guess I probably should have taken care of this last fall, but in the fall, there’s so much other stuff to take care of, and the idea of leaving something in the garden to come back to in January, well, how could I not?

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I know we’ve been working on emptying the freezer – and really, we are!

However, our local butcher shop had whole rib loins on sale for, well, a really, really good price – with complimentary cutting.  Since we’ve been eating mostly out of the freezer, we’ve been squirreling away part of the grocery money for large-ish meat purchases.  And hey, look, 18 very nice inch-thick ribeye steaks in the freezer for. . . just under $3 each.

Well, okay, 16 in the freezer and two for dinner this weekend.  Hey, it’s 70 degrees out – who wouldn’t fire up the grill?

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Um yeah, that was a lot of kale, wasn’t it?  I almost want to think I need more bowls, but I’d need more counter, too, and that’s not going to happen any time soon!

I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon cleaning kale and, well, that was about it.

Then Peeps helped me blanch it and pack it up into little  packets to go in the freezer.

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What started out as 5-gallons PLUS of fresh kale?

8 eight-ounce packages. Plus enough for a batch of soup this week, and about 6 ounces that wouldn’t fit in the bag.

Maybe I’ll try a kale omelet for breakfast this week.
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So the cat has this Pavlovian thing going on – Peeps has the coffeemaker set to turn on and brew coffee about 20 minutes before we get up, or, for us, that would be 3:40 in the morning.

And when our alarm goes off, he gets up and feeds the cat, then pours coffee.

The cat has learned, of course, that when the coffee maker starts, she’s going to get be fed soon.

Every morning starts like this:

The coffeemaker starts brewing at 3:40.  The cat says, “OH I AM SO STARVING” and she  comes upstairs to tell Peeps.

The DOG, meanwhile, who DOESN’T get fed right away, doesn’t want to hear it, and, when the cat comes upstairs with her Starving Kitty Act, he’ll move himself out to the hallway, effectively chasing her back downstairs.

Where she continues her piteous carrying on until Jarly will get BACK up, come into the bedroom, walk over to Peeps, and BARK! in his face to wake him up, whereupon Peeps gets up, goes downstairs, and feeds the cat — all before the alarm even goes off.

This weekend, Peeps had the bright idea to NOT set the timer on the coffeemaker.  If the coffee didn’t start at 3:40, maybe the cat wouldn’t come upstairs at 3:41, and maybe the dog wouldn’t BARK him out of bed at 3:45.

Heh.  We slept until 5:30!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  The tell us that January will, in fact, be back this week, so we’ve planned our meals accordingly.  Additionally, we’re always trying to cook and eat as much from the freezer (and the garden!) as we can, and, of course, keep as it healthy and budget-friendly as possible.

Monday - We absolutely love this slow-roasted pork shoulder – and it makes a TON, which means leftovers for lunches, for something next week, and maybe even a bit in the freezer!  We’ve got plenty of carrots and some parsnips that need to be used, so, rather than roast the carrots as directed, I’m going to do these roasted root vegetables - getting a head start on my Meyer lemon usage!

Tuesday - I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it or not, but we’ve got plenty of kale at the moment.  It seemed silly to just freeze it all without using some of it, so I thought a nice kale soup would be perfect.  I’ll add some chick peas, I think, and maybe I’ll even get home early enough to do some naan.

Wednesday - While I was digging chicken stock makings out of the freezer last weekend, I found a lonely container of Peeps’s Cincinnati chili.  We figured it would be very nice as the winter weather starts coming back.

Thursday - Quite a while ago, I received  in a Cuisine at Home e-newsletter this recipe for Chinese chicken & corn soup.  We made it once and really enjoyed it, and, since we had the better part of a leftover roasted chicken handy, as well as everything else (except snow peas, which I picked up at the market), we’re looking forward to revisiting that soup this week.

Friday - Gosh,pizza night makes life easier!  It’s the end of the week, and the last thing we want to do is THINK about what we’re going to do for dinner!  Peeps’s pizza rivals anything we can easily get in this area, which makes it even better.

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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