Thursday, August 16, 2012
Friday: I was busy in the house this morning. I followed my home-keeping routine yesterday but didn't quite finish the tasks. Today I cleaned bathrooms and vacuumed, planned weekend meals and prepared food for today.
There was more leftover rice than I'd anticipated. This changed my meal plan slightly. Chicken Fried Rice seemed a nice way to use it up (with half the chicken I'd set aside last night after stripping the carcass). I use what I have on hand for vegetables in the fried rice. Today that was: julienned carrots, frozen Green peas, celery, onion, broccoli stems (and a few of the florets cut into small pieces). I found that cooking my scrambled egg in the microwave took only 20 seconds and made it much easier on the cook. One less pan to clean up (or if I'd used the same skillet as for the rice, the sticky residue left behind would have necessitated hard scrubbing). I served simply with chilled orange wedges on the side.
I promised John I'd make cookies. I decided to mix up peanut butter cookie dough. I rolled the dough balls in Turbinado sugar (makes them glittery looking) and then pressed with one of my old fashioned tumblers with a pretty design on the bottom. Something so simple as plain old peanut butter cookies suddenly seems an extra special treat when given just a little extra effort to make it pretty as well as tasty.
I boiled the remainder of last pay period's eggs for egg salad. I find that the older the egg, the easier they are to peel. I saved the cooled cooking water for the geranium and orchids which seem to appreciate the added calcium. Roses like the egg shells, best.
I used the last bit of chicken, the broth and some noodles to make chicken noodle soup for our supper.
John mentioned possibly running an errand or two after synagogue tomorrow, while we were in the city. I added onto the list with a stop I needed to make. I also made plans to eat out after synagogue. Yes that's right, I PLANNED to eat out afterwards. I knew we had the money to cover the expense, that synagoge would last until well past the hour John prefers to eat dinner and that the errands would push us into the late afternoon hours. I also made a back-up plan just in case the plans changed!
Katie gave us a beautiful silvery gray tablecloth with Star of David woven all over it for Channukah this past year. We always set the Shabat table with that cloth. You might think it gets old but I've found the gray to be a very versatile neutral that blends well with various colors. I used white and green accents with it two weeks ago and navy, emerald and silver this week. In the past we've also paired it with white linen, acid green, lavender. Deep pink, turquoise, spring green, and eggplant are other colors that would make a lovely table, too.
I smiled when the table was all set for Shabat evening. My thrift store finds do make a lovely table! The silver candlesticks, hand blown glasses, silver napkin rings, beautiful china plate for the bread , and the emerald green compote used for centerpiece were all from the thrift store. I don't think all those pieces together cost me $15. (By the way John swears the napkin rings look like pipe strapping that has been formed into rings to him and I have seen a similar item in the plumbing section of the hardware store, though I believe these are manufactured pieces.)
Gave myself a manicure and pedicure after the chores were done and before we were ready to have Shabat evening. I didn't have to leave home, sit in a fume laden room, expose myself unnecessarily to chemicals, use gasoline to travel anywhere...Gracious but that little task is getting less and less expensive as I think of it!
Saturday: Our plans for today following Shabat changed. And I got caught with a plan that had no follow through! Remember that back-up plan just in case? Forgot all about taking the meat from the freezer. There we were with a deluge of rain ongoing which meant no errands or shopping after. And no food ready to prepare at home...Thank you John! He had a meal plan in mind already and stopped to pick up a Submarine sandwich on our way home. Fortunately the weather let up long enough for him to go in and back out again.
Typically we do very little on Shabat and this was no different a day. I think we both may have taken a brief nap. Then we took advantage of having cable and found two good John Wayne films back to back to watch on one of the channels we pay extra for. Always good to get your money's worth from something and since we discovered we have a 'new' contract (I changed our package and renewed a year ago) we figure we might as well use what we're getting.
It was chilly to me. Heavy gray skies, pouring rain, humidity always makes the AC seem that much more chilling to me. I wanted something hot and comforting for supper. I had some leftover breakfast sausages in the fridge. I decided to make a pan of biscuits with sausage gravy. I made up a full recipe of biscuits but divided between two pans and put one in the freezer for future use (unbaked. Just thaw and let come to room temperature before baking).
Some folks buy packaged gravy mix (or use a jar). There's no need really. Here's how simple making gravy can be: about a tablespoon or two of oil is needed. I heat until warm then stir in flour (3-4 tbsps), salt and pepper. As the flour cooks and you stir you are making what is known as a roux. It may all lump up together. That 's okay. Now slowly add 1-2 cups liquid (water, broth, or milk, which is what I used), stirring all the while until a smooth paste forms. The more liquid you add the 'thinner'(more liquid) your gravy will be. Continue adding liquid slowly, stirring all the while, until the paste is dissolved and there are no lumps. Heat and stir until the consistency is thickened slightly, enough to coat the spoon when you remove it from the pan. If you do use milk, you've not just made gravy, you have what is called 'white sauce', which is a basic ingredient in many sauces/soups. I know the stuff from a jar tastes good but I really do not see the need to buy it when I can so easily make my own gravy. And it surely takes no longer to mix up that packaged stuff than it does to make it from scratch! For my sausage gravy, I added in a dash of Worcestershire sauce and the chopped cooked sausage.
I ate too much today. There's no two ways about it, I overate and I was miserable. Recently I noted that a major magazine offered the tip to sip baking soda (1/4 tsp) mixed with water (1/2 cup) to relieve bloating and gastric distress. Ha. Yet again the wisdom of my senior family members proves to be valid stuff! Grandmama and Granny both swore by this little concoction to relieve indigestion and reduce acid. Yet another home remedy with validity! I sampled the concoction. It's salty tasting to be sure but it did help, far more than any of the over the counter relievers I've used in the past few years. Guess what? It's very inexpensive too! And a natural remedy as well.
Took meat from freezer to thaw overnight (several packages) and put in a stainless bowl with a thick towel covering to keep the meat good and cold.
Sunday: John scheduled Samuel to come down and change oil in two of our vehicles and in Katie's car as well. We provided the oil, filters, jugs to store the used oil and a meal.
John made up the menu plan earlier in the week (I had too but his was different than mine, lol). He wanted to cook hot dogs and burgers on the grill. I wanted a steak. I compromised and we had the burgers and hot dogs for today's meal, but I figured while the coals were burning, we could cook the steak ahead and have as our dinner meat for Tuesday.
When I want to make burger patties of a consistent size, I use a plastic lid. It can be from a container of cottage cheese or a coffee can. I pat out the meat on the inside of the lid. I can make it as thick or thin as I choose but keep a nice round shape and compact texture. When I purchase meat in bulk I often will use several of these lids and not only form my burgers but to stack and keep the patties separated. Works beautifully.
Put away that beautiful cloth Katie gave us and set the table with our day to day placemats, napkins, and such that I don't mind getting mustard or ketchup stains on.
My secret to good baked beans? I take a can of vegetarian baked beans, drain and rinse. Then I add in onion, ketchup, mustard and molasses and bake them until they are thickened and delicious. These taste more like 'from scratch' baked beans...Speaking of beans: I've not seen a single sale on them this summer. Last year they were frequently on sale. I bought a big bag of navy beans and will make my own as we want them this winter.
By 10am the dinner was prepped for (just needed to grill meats and bake beans) and the house was clean...Nothing like having two or three hours to rest before your company arrives. I highly recommend it for relaxed entertaining,lol!
John didn't buy a filter for one of the vehicles. He dug about in his shop and found three unopened oil filters then looked up the numbers on each box online. He found one for the mower, one for my car, and one for the car he didn't buy one for the other day. Good deal! Smart man took time to write which vehicle they each fit on the boxes in permanent marker. That's the second time in the lasts few days he's discovered just what he needed in his shop.
I had far more food than we had people to eat it. Leftovers are not a bad thing however. Katie took a burger home with her, John ate supper from the leftovers. I didn't eat anything more after our dinner. No desire to feel as full as I did yesterday...
I didn't bake dessert but sort of wish I had. Katie went into town and purchased a pecan pie (her request) which I paid for. It was almost $10! Gracious! I have to say however that it would have cost me almost that to make one. Pecans were very high this past year and haven't come down in price.
Monday: John made breakfast this morning. He used two leftover hot dogs and some leftover red onion to season a cheese omelet. It was very tasty.
I'm trying to make a meatless meal at least twice a week these days. It's not always easy when you have a husband who really enjoys meat. I find that if I have one meatless meal and one that is simply flavored with meat it works well. Today's meal was meatless: Cheese Ravioli lasagna. It was hearty enough John didn't miss the meat at all. The secret is to have a good mix of carb/fat/protein so it FEELS like you've eaten well. The Chicken Fried Rice and Chicken Noodle Soup are cases in point. Two small chicken breasts made both meals and I had a leftover portion of the rice and enough soup for two leftover.
Washed a full (and I do mean FULL) load of dishes today. I allowed them to air dry before unloading.
John washed a full load of clothes as well. They were hung to dry.
Watered plants with water I'd saved the day before from bottles.
Refilled water bottles to put in the fridge. Don't ask me why, but my family drinks more water if it's chilled in single serve bottles than if it's in a pitcher or jug to poured into a glass. I want to encourage them to drink more water. The bottles I use are PET rated soda bottles saved and washed in the dishwasher and reused.
Work all morning and...Granny used to do quiet work or light work in the afternoons after doing heavy stuff in the mornings. I find the same method works well for me. I was doing some necessary budget work (putting down my grocery money spent thus far,ow!) and planning tasks I want to do this week. Then John and I settled to watch another good old movie on TV this one starring Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner and Jason Robards.
Took stock of the fridge and planned dinner meals for this week starting with leftovers first and then planning to remove items from the freezer.
Checking under the sink for any drips (I'm just a tiny bit paranoid after the previous week's mess) I discovered ants coming in the house, apparently via the drain pipe. I quickly sprayed that area and hope that effectively blocks them from coming in at that entry point for a time.
As supper time drew near determined it would do me well, with John home to eat three meals a day, to plan breakfasts and suppers as well as main meals these days. Will definitely have to sit down down and plot that out.
Tuesday: I slept much later than I'd thought I might this morning. Wish I'd had that breakfast/supper menu written out! I scrambled about and made a simple, light breakfast. I knew we'd be having a nice meal midday today and midday wasn't so very far away.
Made another pan of white sauce today. I want to use a cheese sauce to top the enchiladas in the freezer and since I also wanted to make au gratin potatoes today, I figured I could easily double the recipe. I layered plain white sauce with our potatoes/onions/ and shredded cheese then added in pepper jack cheese to the remaining sauce for the enchiladas. I put that in the fridge in a jar.
Pre-baked the potatoes in the microwave for four minutes. The potatoes were fairly small and this cooked them almost through. It was really just a matter of heating long enough in the oven to melt the cheese and steam the onions tender instead of a long bake.
I set the steak out to come to room temperature. Ten minutes in the oven with the potatoes heated it right through.
Made a salad of lettuce, drained 3 bean salad, leftover tomato that I chopped and Parmesan cheese. We served it with French dressing and found it very good. I used oyster crackers as our croutons. This is something John really enjoys and oyster crackers are very inexpensive, much tastier and cheaper than any boxed croutons. They are a nice substitute when I don't have the inclination or time to make fresh croutons.
Helping John very briefly outdoors this morning, I lifted the lid of the grill to discover the messy grill rack. Ugh. I brought it indoors, put in a plastic trash bag, sprayed with oven cleaner and closed the bag up tight. An hour later it took only light scrubbing (and plenty of rinsing) to get that grill rack clean.
I forgot I'm to be out with Mama tomorrow. I reviewed plans for meals and decided that John should have the leftover burger and baked beans along with chips for his dinner. I had enough leftover potatoes that I think I'll slice those two hot dogs into the casserole, reheat and we can both have supper from that dish. Not the original plan but a do-able plan to use up the same leftovers.
A few years ago John was given a gift card to a store with a great tool department. He was supposedly looking for a tool box but came away instead with an air compressor. I cannot name how many times that compressor has saved us the aggravation of flat tires! Even if a tire was completely flat we generally could get air enough in it to get us into town for repairs. This weekend he used it to fill Katie's tires. Her gauge was broken and she didn't realize it, so she'd been getting an inaccurate reading. Today he filled his car tires and my garden wagon's tires, too. I think he used it Thursday to add air to the mower tires. I'm telling you that compressor was a good investment.
John took an extra shift tonight. He works awfully hard and I appreciate that he boosts our income with these extra days. My goal is to insure that he only does this twice a month at most and not make it a habit to count on anything but our regular pay. That's where our teamwork comes in. We each make our own sacrifices to insure we live well on one job and very little overtime.
Organized the bane of my life: the plastics bin...These days that bin is mostly glass jars and lids that I use to store stuff in the fridge. I use glass or clear plastic containers because I've discovered I am a visual person. If I see it I know what it is and remember that I should plan to use it which saves waste. I matched lids to jars or containers. For once I had no throw aways. Now I can just choose a container or jar immediately to use instead of digging about. This will only last about three weeks and I'll be right back to rooting about but for now I'll enjoy the time and aggravation that little task saves me.
Wednesday: Maddie isn't so fond of the current brand dog food, sigh. I've been adding a single 1/4 cup scoop of cat food to the pan (and reducing her dog food by as much) to entice her to eat some of the food. Works well enough that I don't fret when she chooses to skip eating altogether every now and then. Since she's not a people food eater at all, it makes it doubly hard when she's not happy about her food.
Breakfast from the freezer this morning: that extra pan of biscuits I put in the freezer on Saturday was our bread for the morning meal.
I was going to be out with Mama today. John had a meal of leftovers left for him in the fridge to reheat in the microwave.
Stopped at the Mennonite Country Store to buy cocoa in bulk. Less expensive than buying store brand and I purchased in greater quantity than I can at grocery. I filled a 2 quart and 1 quart jar when I got home with the cocoa.
Mama and I went to the good meat market. I found my prices still average about $3 or less per meal at this meat market. However we did hear from the butcher that prices will rise sharply (at least 25%) in the next few weeks most likely. I'll cross that bridge when we arrive at it. In the meantime I'll be extra careful to stretch where we can and to use all possible bits and pieces.
It was not my grocery day but mid-pay period. However, John and I talked about it when Mama told me this was how she wanted to spend her day. John suggested I go ahead and make my purchases this week while taking Mama down in order to save the gasoline a second trip would cost us.
My supper this evening consisted of leftovers as well.
John did a full load of laundry and hung to dry this morning.
I washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher. I pre-heated the water so that I'd have hot water ready to run into the machine. I rinsed dishes and did a few by hand while that water got good and hot. I continue to use the shortest cycle possible on my washer and dishwasher. The dishes were allowed to air dry.
Thursday: My files were in a mess. I spent a morning sorting through all but one really bulky folder and got them organized once more. Keeping records is not an onerous task but it takes some organization. John asked me a question the other day about one of our vehicles and the answer came from those files. Today I also found we are due septic tank cleaning (it's been three years since our last) and found record of the battery bought for the truck (info John had also asked me about).
Our dinner was simple today. Meat,salad, and the last of the potato au gratin I made for dinner on Tuesday.
Turned up AC as soon as I got up this morning.
Looked for a recipe I've had but have never made: Broccoli Raisin Salad. John pronounced it a keeper. I'm so happy. Broccoli will be well priced during the next few months or so and I like the idea of eating some cooked and some raw.
John needed a large bag to carry an item to work...My shopping bags all proved too small. I remembered a big bag in our closet that he once used as luggage. It's perfect for what he needed (to store bedding roll that he uses at work) and should keep his bedding nice and dry on rainy days as well as prevent it tumbling onto the ground and getting dirty.
Not feeling well today. Fortunately I don't lose money when I feel under the weather, but I do feel obligated to push through at least a little and attend to my household. Hence the quiet work of organizing files and utilizing leftovers for our dinner.
I have Gingerale and homemade chicken noodle soup on hand to help make me feel better today. Homemade soup tastes so nice, agreed?
Katie and I agreed over the weekend that my plan to get a new larger platter for the living room wall arrangement was dead on. She suggested I look for something in green. I took time Monday afternoon to see what eBay had to offer and found a dozen! I couldn't make up my mind so asked her to go to the page and choose. She chose one of the ones I'd decided upon as well. It arrived today and is just perfect. The price was very good on it as well. Hooray for eBay!