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Monday Musings: 09.10.2012 Edition September 10, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, random stuff.
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Yup, fall is on the way, isn’t it?

I managed to pick up a bag of nice, fresh onions – no more of those nasty last year’s onions for us!  Of course potatoes are in season, and I just couldn’t pass up a couple of freakishly huge sweet potatoes – I’m not sure what exactly we’ll do with them, but I do love sweet potatoes!

I think this is probably my last chance for fresh melon – it’s been so good this year that I just had to have one more!

I did manage to avoid the weather while at the market – I passed through a bit of a cloudburst on my way downtown, and it was kind of raining when I came home, but nothing like what the market saw later!

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We’ve had an unusually busy week.

It all started Tuesday.  We’d planned to grill chicken for dinner, but it was raining, so Peeps suggested just roasting it.  Only he went to turn on the oven, and it wouldn’t light.

So while we were NOT roasting chicken, I started working on a batch of no-pectin jam, and that ended up taking a bit longer than I’d expected, so dinner (pasta) was a bit later than expected, and we were up later than planned.

Then, Wednesday, I had about a bushel of tomatoes that needed to be canned – my mother had kindly shared them with me when we were there for the Labor Day holiday, and, while they weren’t completely ripe Sunday, they certainly were by Wednesday!  For the record, prepping and pressure canning 21 quarts of tomatoes will, indeed, keep us up past our bedtime!

Oh, and for the record, the oven is back up and running – it was a small part that was fixed in about 15 minutes, so WHEW!

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Believe it or not, there are moments that the dog gets tired of hanging around with us in the kitchen!

And, of course, lest we get too lonely, the cat is more than happy to pick up the slack!  She does love that garden window, and she’ll just have to get used to it again when I bring the Christmas cactus back in and it fills the window – she’ll be Jungle Kitty!

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I almost forgot!

Several years ago, after replacing dining room chairs two or three times, I finally broke down and bought some good chairs – there was a store nearby that only dealt with quality wooden furniture, and they were running a chair sale, and I had a teenager in the house who was kind of hard on furniture.

I walked into that store and determined, then and there, that someday I’d be back to furnish the rest of my house.

Well, sadly, after 62 years, this store was closing, so I knew that if I wanted anything from them, now was the time.

And I found the most beautiful dining room table – that I had finished to match the chairs!   We love it.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  It’s looking to be a beautiful – and slightly less busy – week, which is a good thing.  We’re also getting serious about clearing out the freezer, so every dinner is coming from there, in some way.

Monday – Our supermarket frequently has single-serving packages of seafood on sale, and a while back, we picked up some packets of bay scallops – the little tiny ones.  Which, as it happens, are perfect for broiling with a bit of butter, lemon and garlic.  We’ll serve that with rice and some tossed salad, for a nice, light dinner.

Tuesday – We unearthed a 1-lb. flank steak, which Peeps is going to season simply and grill for dinner.  Since there are just two of us, that’ll probably end up being stretched into a second meal over the weekend.  We also had a package of mixed veggies in the freezer, and we’ll do a packet of seasoned potatoes on the grill with the steak.

Wednesday –  We’ve got a package of white hots in the freezer, along with half a package of tater tots.  I’ve also started dough for homemade hot dog rolls, using the pan that Peeps got for my birthday.  We’ll probably have salad again, because, really, what else are you gonna have for a vegetable with hot dogs?

Thursday – I’m just going to say it.  I love eggplant.  And it’s in season.  So I got a big, beautiful one at the market, and we’re doing eggplant parmesan and Peeps will just suck it up.  Of course, the fact that we froze a bunch of meatballs in with the sauce will probably help with that – he’ll probably have pasta with meatballs, while I have pasta with eggplant parm.  It’s a win-win!

Friday -And it’s pizza night – I should still be able to enjoy tomatoes and fresh herbs – that’s my standby during the summer!  If worst comes to worst, though, I’d imagine I’ll have some leftover eggplant, and I’ll bet that would be fabulous on pizza.

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: 08.13.2012 Edition August 13, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Garden, meal plan monday, random stuff.
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Gosh, I love our public market.  Have I mentioned that lately?

This week, for the first time, I know for sure that all of the produce I bought, every last seed and leaf, was grown locally and picked recently, from the person I bought if from – the nice potato lady, the old garlic guys, the helpful melon family (who also do maple syrup), even the friendly Mennonite cucumber guy!

I know it’s kind of trendy and all, but I truly do prefer doing business with my “neighbors” – even if, as in this case, some of them are in the next county!

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I do love our potato source – and I jumped on this year’s new potatoes the minute I saw them!

The only problem is that they don’t seem to last as long as store-bought potatoes.  Not because they spoil or anything, of course, but because we always cook more than we’re actually going to eat!

You see, if you haven’t taken new potatoes, cooked them in a foil packet on the grill with nothing more than butter, salt, pepper and parsley, and then taken the leftovers and made homefries for breakfast, well, my friend, you just don’t know what “breakfast” should be!

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Here in upstate New York, rosemary is an annual plant (mostly) – our winters are usually too cold for it to come back, so every year, I have to plant new rosemary plants in the herb garden.

This year, I picked up a different variety – a prostrate rosemary.  This one flops around on the ground, rather than standing up like a proper bush.

And what do you know – for the first time, I’ve seen rosemary blossoms!  I’m not sure what, if anything, that means, but it’s kind of neat.

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We got home the other day, and I happened to notice what seemed like almost every bird in the neighborhood was lined up, sitting on our fence.

I have no idea why – why they were all there or what they were talking about – and especially what the deal was with the lone squirrel that was sitting on the post with them!

I couldn’t help noticing, though, that every stinking on of those birds left behind a, well, a calling card of sorts.  Stupid birds.

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This year, I’m going to try to extend my garden as long as I can – I’ve already added another row of green beans which I’m picking like crazy – and I put yet another row in this weekend (hope it’s not too late!).

I also planted a row of an Asian green called komatsuna – it’s a member of the brassica family, which means it’s related to some of my favorite veggies (kale, broccoli, mustard greens – the “eat this and you’ll live forever” vegetables), and, according to the seed packet, it “will overwinter with protection and give greens through January, at least.”  I can protect it!

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Long-time readers may remember that, this time of year, we start buying corn.  Not a lot at once – maybe 8 or a dozen ears.

What we do with it is this:  we shuck it, then we grill it briefly, just enough to get a little caramelization on the kernels – then we cut it off the cobs and freezer it for the BEST corn chowders, soups, and stews in the middle of the winter!

Not wanting to be left out, our big goofy-head wanted some, so I handed him a cob to chew on.

And he liked it – a lot!

Peeps noted that we might call him a corn-dog?

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Speaking of Idiot Boy.

The other morning, we came back from our walk and went into the back yard to toss a ball around.  (I toss the ball, the dog brings it back to me.)

He heard or saw something on the other side of the fence – whether it was a cat or a squirrel or even a possum, I have no idea.

All I know is that he suddenly raced along the fence-line to chase it off – right through my garden.  Then he turned around to go back the other direction!

I put a stop to that – we’re doing pretty well with our “distracted recall” thank you very much.  Ultimately, he knocked a couple of tomatoes off the vines, trampled a few beats, and smooshed my green beans.

NO more running around in the garden for him!

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After the ridiculous thunderstorms we got the other day, Peeps called me outside to see something.

Right across the street from our house was the brightest, prettiest rainbows ever!

I went in, got the camera and came back, and it was still there – I know there are scientific explanations for them, but darnit, rainbows are cool!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  It looks like we’re heading into a cooling-off trend around here, to some extent, anyway.  I’ll be honest, while I sometimes feel like a big jerk complaining that it’s too hot (in Rochester! where we have SNOW!), it is nice not to have 90+ degrees day after day!

Monday – We had a bag of chicken wings in the freezer, and Peeps suggested an old favorite we haven’t had in years – it’s a baked wing dish with kind of an Asian barbecue flavor, and it’s really, really good!  He’ll share that with you soon, fear not!  We’ll probably pan-roast a bit of broccoli, and maybe steam some rice to go with it.

Tuesday – We wanted to use some Alaskan whitefish that’s been knocking around in the freezer – just a simple pan-fry, with maybe a butter-lemon-parsley sauce.  If I’m smart, I’ll saute the beet greens I’ve got in the fridge!  Not sure what else we’ll do with it – maybe potatoes, or maybe rice or  barley or something more exotic- we’ll have to see.

Wednesday – Since we’re starting to get these ridiculous Beefsteak tomatoes, well, I think that means we need to do burger night – after all, the tomatoes are just begging to be sliced to top a burger, you know?

Thursday – Ah, roasted chicken.  A while back, I saw this recipe for grilled chicken with sriracha glaze, and I thought there was no reason we couldn’t use a whole butterflied chicken, rather than just the thighs.  Why not, right?  Also, since I’ve got plenty of kale from the garden (yay!), I’ll add a raw kale salad that just intrigues me.

Friday – And again, it’s pizza night. Not much to say about that, other than fresh tomatoes (yay!) and fresh herbs (yay again!).  Pretty boring to read about, not so boring to eat!

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: 02.13.2012 Edition February 13, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings.
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So, did we get a bit of snow this weekend, or what?

It’s been so unseasonably warm here this winter that I’d pretty much forgotten what it was like to hook up the dog, dress in layers of clothes, and trudge through knee-deep snow before the sun comes up.

Oh yeah, now I remember.

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PhotobucketWe did make the parsnip risotto last week, and, while I would have to say that it was definitely not an unqualified success, at least it was fun introducing Jar to a new vegetable.

Though he just wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  All in all, I’d have to say – he was not a big fan.

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PhotobucketRemember back when the Kitty took up residence in the basement?

I got a little concerned about here downstairs, alone, in the dark, all day and all night.  Short of forcing her to come upstairs, I concluded that it was best to just let her be where she wanted to be.

But she doesn’t have to be in the dark!   So I turned the light on for her – just one bulb on the landing, and I replaced the old-school incandescent bulb with one of the new, funky Curly Fry Lights.

I know, how very 21st century of me, right?

Oh, but wait, there’s more!  The other day, I ordered (from Woot!) not just one, but FOUR Curly Fry Lights with a light sensor – so they come on at night and go off during the day.

Yay – that should save, what, 12 or 13 cents a year?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.   As we get busier during the week (and more tired!), we find it’s more and more important to have a work-able meal plan.  We know ourselves well enough to know that we’re not going to wait until after obedience class for dinner, and by Thursday, we are not interested in doing  anything that’s any more complicated than reheating.

Monday – We’ve still got some of last summer’s smoked brisket in the freezer, which will be very nice with some roasted sweet potatoes and either a spinach salad or some of our canned collard greens.  We’ll see which we’re in the mood for.

Tuesday – Rather than swim class, Jar starts his THIRD basic obedience class.  (Here’s hoping the Prozac does its job and he behaves like a civilized beast!)  The class starts at 6, which is our suppertime, so we’ll have a quick bowl of soup before we leave – this week it’s a potato and sausage soup with a base of our beloved pureed  homely vegetables.

Wednesday – I have kind of been itching for stir-fry for a while now, and then we got this month’s Cooking Light with Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry in it.  So. . . when I went to the market this weekend, I picked up some snow peas, bean sprouts, and broccoli – I couldn’t remember what all was called for in  the recipe, bit I figured I’d be safe there.  We’ll swap in the broccoli for the red and yellow peppers, and just toss in a handful of sprouts – stir-fry is pretty easygoing.

Thursday – A while back, I stumbled upon a recipe for a pork ragu that was ridiculously simple AND ridiculously delicious.  Peeps lightly smoked a small pork shoulder last fall, wrapped it up, then froze it to try a smoked pork ragu.  That’s been cooking all day Sunday, and it’ll be reheated Thursday – sauces are almost always better after spending some time in the fridge, aren’t they?

Friday – We’ve been very much enjoying our Friday night pizza night – Peeps’s mom comes over for a couple of hours, and we all relax and enjoy our personal pizzas and catch up at the end of the week.  Even  Jar is starting to realize that, no, he really doesn’t need to protect anyone – Peeps’s mom isn’t going to hurt us.  SIGH

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: Holy Cow it’s 2012! January 2, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings.
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This was a market weekend – the public market is held on Saturdays, and, even though it was New Year’s Eve, most of the vendors were doing business.

Here’s a word to the wise, though – if you come across a GIANT bag of salad mix for $2 – there’s a reason.  Just make plans to have salad for dinner that night – lots of salad.

It seems that two dollar salad doesn’t really last all that long.  Huh.

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Peeps and I had our annual New Year’s Eve dinner – he fired up the grill for a couple of ribeye steaks, and we baked a couple of potatoes, tossed some salad, and opened a bottle of bubbly.

This year, we went with Iron Horse – a domestic sparkling wine that makes a regular appearance in some of our favorite fiction – we do love Spenser and  Hawk and will miss Robert B. Parker.

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So we’re having dinner the other night, and the the dog is lying over in the living room waiting for us to finish and pay attention to him.

And who should come out of the basement lair but the kitty?

I don’t know what she was thinking, but she came out to the dining room, glanced into the living room, and she saw The Jar.

Whereupon she proceeded to give him The Evil Eye – he was  just lying there sleeping, but I think she was putting some kind of curse or something on him.

The sad thing is that he really doesn’t care what she does – until she starts getting all worked up and growling at him – THAT he just can’t let go.

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We have had one sleepy puppy on our hands!

He’s been on the Prozac for three weeks now – just enough time for it to start to take an effect.   Now I don’t know if that’s what it is or not, but he’s been sleeping a bit later in the mornings, and, later in the afteroons, he’s just not much interested in getting up.  Or, really, doing anyting much.

Or, I don’t know, maybe he’s just still recovering from the holidays like the rest of us.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  While we’re always trying to eat reasonably healthy (healthily? healthfully?), we’re also (still) trying to empty the freezers – it’s almost become a joke, hasn’t it?  We developed the habit of “stocking up” when things go on sale, and now, we’re not eating the same way we used to – more grains and vegetables, less meat.  And what’s in the freezer is primarily hunks of meat.

Monday – After all that about clearing out the freezer and stuff, I went and picked up some chicken breasts on sale – I do like to do that periodically so we can enjoy a meal with  pan roasted chicken – I’m thinking a variation of this sauce with leeks, sun-dried tomatoes and white wine – maybe with some nice polenta on the side and a fresh green salad.

Tuesday – I got a nice bunch of broccoli raab at the market this week, and one of our favorite things to do with it is a pasta dish with Italian sausage (homemade, of course!), broccoli raab and plenty of romano cheese.

Wednesday – I love me some kale – and, while it’s not Peeps’s favorite green, he doesn’t object too much when it’s part of caldo verde – and I scored a bunch at the market.  Soup night is becoming one of my favorite nights of the week!

Thursday – Well, except maybe this week – we discovered Cooking Light’s  Slow-cooked Tuscan Pork a while back and just absolutely love it.   We like to rub the meat the night before, brown it, and, of course, use our herb blend in place of straight sage.  This will be fantastic with some sauteed spinach as a contrast to the rich softness of the pork and beans.

Friday – And the end of the week brings pizza night – a chance for Peeps to “occupy” the kitchen.  He does such a great job with individual pizzas – I can have less cheese and less fat, while he enjoys plenty of pepperoni and cheese – something for everyone!

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: 11.01.2010 November 1, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, random stuff.
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Hello and welcome to November!  I know, how did THAT happen, anyway?

You know what November means, right?  From here until the end of the year, we worry about holidays.

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You know, buying toys for a big dog gets pretty ridiculous – anything that costs less than $15 or $20 – he can destroy within minutes.  Or worse, swallow whole.

Every so often, though, we realize that all his toys are chewed beyond recognition and we need to replace them – so we make a trip to the pet store, pick up half a dozen or so new toys, and, one by one, they enter the toy rotation.

And I thought raising a kid was hard!

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PhotobucketRemember how I went to the market last week and picked up two pie pumpkins (for a buck)?  Well, the first thing I did with those pumpkins was clean them and roast them to puree the pulp for various purposes.

The next thing I did was roast the pumpkin seeds – I love roasted pumpkin (and squash) seeds!

To this batch, I added about a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp. melted butter.  Then simply roast in a low oven (300°) for about 45 minutes, or until they’re crisp, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

They’re SO good!  They’ve kind of got that sweet-hot thing going on – I love that!

(BTW, check back later in the week to see what else I did with the pumpkin!)

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So we headed upstairs to bed the other night, just like we always do, and LOOK who was upstairs on the dresser in the bedroom, hanging out on my clothes for the next day!

Sure, we’d noticed that the cat had been uncharacteristically quiet all evening – usually she likes to taunt the dog – she snarls at him, he barks at her, then he gets yelled at.

She thinks we’re not on to her.  Ha.

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Meanwhile, the Big Scary Dog?

Well, he stretched out next to the bed with his Wubba.

Never even noticed she was there.

There’s your ferocious watch dog, huh?

(This is me, rolling my eyes.)

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And it’s time for another gripping installment of our “Shopping With Peeps” feature, courtesy of the cell phone.  (You’d think I’d remember to keep a camera in my purse, wouldn’t you?)

Has anyone ever heard of “Cameo Apples?”  I mean, what’s their deal, anyway?

Peeps suggested that maybe they just make a brief appearance and don’t stay around long.

Heh.

I think we’ll stick with the Granny Smiths, thank you very much.  At least I know what they are!

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  There’s really very little point in checking the weather forecast – once November arrives, there’s very little worry about whether we can grill or not!

Monday –  Chicken breasts were on sale this week, so we held out a couple that I didn’t skin – we’ll be enjoying one of the few dishes that we go back to over and over – oven-roasted chicken breast on rosemary and hazelnuts.  The chicken will be served with roasted sweet potatoes (bought them off the back of a truck, from the sweet potato farmer – really!) and, probably, some rice.

Tuesday – Guess what we found buried in the freezer?  A quart container of the sauce for our pork sugo, which will get tossed with some pasta, a healthy bunch of cheese, and baked until everything’s hot through.  Along with a nice salad (I still have surviving lettuce in a pot on the deck!), it’ll be a great mid-week dinner.

Wednesday – I had about a pound of parsnips that I keep forgetting to use, and it seems that I’ve been buying fresh leeks faster than I’ve been using them, so we had to use them before they spoiled – and since Wednesday is traditionally soup night (because of swim class), we’re going to try this creamy parsnip soup, using half-and-half instead of heavy cream, and probably a sprinkle of cooked bacon.  Bacon is always a plus.

Thursday – We made several pounds of ravioli this summer, so we’ve been enjoying a package every couple of weeks or so – since Peeps works with it every day, I hate to serve it too often, but once in a while, it’s a nice change.

Friday – And it’s Pizza Night!  I officially used the Very Last Tomato from my garden on last week’s pizza, so I’ll have to give some thought to what I’m going to do this week . . . maybe roasted beets, maybe thin-sliced potatoes, maybe a bit of pepperoni – I guess we’ll see how the mood strikes, 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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