Monday, January 16, 2023

Time to begin again...


I have a couple of different books going right now.  And zero housework. Need to vacuum. Might do it today, might not. Got up at the butt crack of dawn and took himself to work to keep the car, ostensibly to attend a memorial (?) meeting for my friend that died yesterday. Once I got back home this morning, I decided that I really don't want to go. I don't want to see a bunch of people that may or may not be hurting as much as I am over the loss. I prefer to grieve in solitude... have always been like this. I rarely attend funerals or memorial services in funeral homes or churches,  unless I need to be there to hold up someone I love that has suffered a major loss. I have my own ideas about death and dying. I don't believe in heaven or hell. I don't believe that God punishes people with life or death. I think it's just all part of the great cosmic scheme of things.  We are born, we live, we die.  Just like each year's garden. I like the idea of reincarnation, only because if I believe in a god, it's the god of second chances, who says, there-- let's try again.  And try to get it right this time. More to learn. I also believe that sometimes souls choose the time of their death, especially if there's been a cycle of physical or emotional pain they've subjected themselves to in this life. OR that maybe once the lesson here is learned, we are finished, and can go.  I like that idea a lot.  So... there will be another celebration of my friends life at a later date, when it is all not so raw, and I might attend that.  He knew me. He knows I am waffling about all this. And he's probably laughing his ass off. 

  So I had all these good intentions to regularly post here this year and it's already the middle of January and I missed December completely.  So much for good intentions.  It's a grey and rainy day here on Honeysuckle Hill and I am doing some laundry and looking through local grocery ads.  Some good deals that I will go pick up. Mostly meats, as my freezer is getting low, and I have a little extra money.   I have not been buying much the past few months, but eating more out of the pantry and freezers and using what I have. Meat prices have come down on some things this week, and I found (in my town) the big 10# bags of chicken leg and thigh quarters for $.59/lb. AND boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb.  We are still eating plant based meals about every other day and I will stick with that plan. I am also make meals that are meat incorporated instead of  a meat main dish.  Stretches the budget and is probably healthier. But every once in a while, I make a meat centered meal and it's so appreciated.  Last night I had a package with 2 huge chicken breasts that I sliced in half lengthwise and then pounded and put in an Italian dressing and lime juice marinade along with some jumbo shrimp.  They were very good and fork tender. Made some crispy potatoes that could have been better and some peas and that was supper.  I didn't feel like working too hard yesterday.  lol  

 Must have been good, as he finished off everything.  lol  Today is Meatless Monday and so I am thinking about what to fix. Don't want tofu. Don't want pasta.  Yawn.  This weather has me thinking of lentils or split pea soup, both of which I love. A small batch with maybe one day of leftovers.  I don't want to be eating it for a week. I have enough time today to make some baquettes to go with. That sounds kinda good.  Split pea or lentils or Dal (I think I have some golden lentils).  Later in the week I will make some chili, maybe.  Temps are pretty warm this week. Heading for 60 today. Unseasonable so. But we'll take it after the Arctic weather we had earlier. My electric bill (and everyone else's) was sky high.  Over 500 dollars here after 425 the month before.  They're killing me.

 So... maybe I'll make the lentils with coconut milk and Indian spices that I love for the aroma as much as the taste. It's a good rainy day dish. With some homemade baguettes. Maybe some salad, maybe not.  And a pie.  Cherry or pumpkin.   Hmmmm...

Monday, November 28, 2022

Just like that...


  Well, well.  Just like that. Suddenly it was Thanksgiving.  And I cooked and I cooked and I cooked.  And I was frazzled. Then the party of 6 turned to a party of 5.  Then my son got sick and it turned to a party of 4.  lol  But nevermind... I cooked a small spiral ham and a 13 lb turkey and glazed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and pecans. I made cornbread stuffing with crimini mushrooms, onions, celery, and dried cranberries. I made smashed red potatoes and turkey gravy. I made home canned green beans with onions and garlic. I had jellied cranberry sauce and whole sauce too. I made a pumpkin and a cherry pie.  And we 4 ate ourselves into a food coma and took a plate and 2 pieces of pie to my sick boy. (The next day I made him some turkey and rice soup.)  After our guest was gone and my husband and his brother who had traveled down from Minneapolis were watching tv, I cooked down the turkey carcass and made 5 quarts of beautiful broth, 4 of which I canned in the electric canner and 1 went in the fridge for soup.  It took 3 sets to get all the dishes done. I know people think I'm nuts, but I don't care how many people are at my house for a meal...we use real dishes.  I did try cleaning up as I went as much as I could. It was still a lot.  SO I got to sit a spell between sets. That helped. It was grand, but I'm really glad it's over. 

  The next 2 days were nonstop. And when Sunday came and my BIL was heading home, I made sure to tell him goodbye and make him promise to call when he arrived safe and sound,THE NIGHT BEFORE. Because no way was I gonna be able to get up at 7 AM.  lol  I intended to do nothing but laze around the whole day, but of course I couldn't as there was laundry to be done (himself's work clothes mostly, but it turned into everything). lol  Once himself was back home from getting his spiritual batteries recharged, he helped with it all.  I'm still tired.  

  To give our systems a rest and try to get back on track, we had a Meatless Monday today. I made sweet potato and chickpea Buddha Bowls that were quite good. I used leftover sweet potatoes, and some vegetables that were languishing in the bin.  The chickpeas are cooked in a spice mix, and instead of roasting the vegetables in the oven, I used my big cast iron skillet to pan roast them and used sesame oil. I had some leftover quinoa from Wednesday night's supper of Peanut Butter Tofu that I used for the grain. The vegetable ingredients were : Kale, Red and Yellow Bell Pepper, leftover steamed broccoli, Red Onion- quartered, and sweet potato.

 The chickpeas were tossed in a bowl  (after draining rinsing and patting dry) with some grapeseed oil and spices. Cumin, oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder and salt & pepper. Then in about a  tablespoon more oil in a small cast iron skillet, I cooked them until the crackled a little over medium high heat. Didn't take long and they were toasty and spicy and done. 

 Then I made a dressing for the whole shebang of a quarter cup (plus or minus-- didn't really measure it, just eyeballed it and tasted it, lol) Tahini, about a tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of real maple syrup and a tablespoon or 2 of hot water to thin it down once you've got it all mixed up. It was divine. 

It was a really good bowl -- who doesn't love a BIG bowl of healthy supper on a cold night ?  We finished of f the last piece of pumpkin pie for dessert and it a perfect amount of food. Good and healthy, tasty and using leftover items and vegetables that would hit the compost heap in another few days felt right, somehow.  This week winds down the month and then it is December, and all the madness starts.  Not so much for me, actually. But it's hard times for lots of people and I am a bit of a shelter for some who have these hard times. It's okay... there's plenty of love to go around. We have a very cozy house that's warm and inviting, coffee or tea or hot chocolate is always available.  We keep our Xmas holiday very small, sometimes we have had big Xmas Eve suppers and invited friends who have no other family, or none in the area. Sometimes it's just us. We really have everything we need and even some to share, and though we live on a pretty limited income, simple food, and simple drinks can go a long way to easing the culture shock we go through this time of year.  The week of Xmas, and almost NEVER before, I will get a few ceramic snowmen and Santa Clauses out of storage and put up a small fiber optic tree. I have a raggedy old Gifting Stag (I love him !!) made of papier mache that will make an appearance if the mice haven't destroyed it in the garage. A few Xmas wreaths that I made myself.  That's it. I have no grandchildren and my big family stopped celebrating together years ago, so everyone spends the day with their own. I'm okay with all of this.  It's too much for me these days, as I totter off in my dotage. lol   I expect December will zip through just like November did, and shock me with it's arrival and departure. And the nit will be New Years Eve and then it will be my 70th birthday, which I am looking forward to, as I join the ranks of the old and decrepit.  LOL  Be assured-- there is a LOT of freedom in being old.  When you turn 69, you get a taste of it.  I looking forward to the whole pie next year. Sliding into old age with a BANG !

  Til next time...

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Helllloooooo...November !


  Hard to believe it's November already.  It's been a busy few weeks around here and the older I get, the faster the months fly by.  Finished out 1.5 months of the pantry challenge and spent a little over 20 dollars at the grocery. Not bad. Didn't really make a dent in the pantry either. Did free up lots of freezer space, so there's that. We are also now eating plant based meals every other day instead of just a random time or two each week.  Mostly makes me have to become a little more creative with my cooking, but it's definitely healthier. We might actually become vegetarians by the first of next year. Maybe.  lol  

  Temps a little cooler, but then it heats back up again. We're in the mid to high 70's this week. Had some damp and chilly days too, so got to make a nice dairy free Creamy Potato soup for supper one night last week.  I'm going to share that recipe so I can send a link to some folks asking for it. This time I used some of my home canned red potatoes that I got from my produce guy's little front yard market, I bought a good sized box from him and canned most of them. I usually can them in big chunks to use for stews and breakfast potatoes, and then pint jars of them diced to use in soups. I also buy fresh potatoes and use them regularly but the price of potatoes has been sky high around these parts the past 4 months. (Like everything).  And I like having canned potatoes for  back-ups, in case I run out.  They worked really well in this soup.  I know not everyone cans or likes canned potatoes, so I'll put this recipe the way I make it with fresh potatoes.

  Here it is:  Creamy Potato Soup.  (without the dairy)  :)  

  **ingredient list

 Red or Russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced. I use about 6 large potatoes to make soup for 2 with leftovers.

 1 nice sized onion, diced

 2 stalks celery, washed and diced

 1-2 medium sized carrots, scrubbed and diced

 2-3 Tablespoons Olive or Sesame Oil (or veg oil, or butter--your choice)

 2 quarts vegetable broth (or water)

 Sea salt and ground black pepper, and any other seasonings you like in your soup. I like fresh minced garlic in it.

 A dash of  liquid smoke (optional) I use it because it gives an illusion of bacon or ham in the soup.

 1-2 cans Cannelini beans or Navy beans 

I use my instapot to make most soups these days. I have a gas range and the price of propane is thru the roof, so I use it as little as possible.  With the InstaPot on the brown/sear setting, put your oil, onions, celery and carrots in and sweat them well. After about 15 minutes, add the diced potatoes. Add the minced garlic and seasonings and mix it well.  Add the broth or water and make sure you have enough to cover the vegetables. If you need to, add more.  Set it on the soups/stews setting and  let 'er go.  It usually takes about 20 minutes to cook the carrots and potatoes through. Depends on how small you diced them. I always put these vegetables in my potato soup because it's added nutrition and it looks pretty. lol  

  When the vegetables are done to your satisfaction, put the can(s) of beans into your blender, liquid and all. Add a couple of ladles of your soup to it and blend until smooth.  Stir this into your pot of soup. If it's too thick, add a little water. If it's too thin, add more beans.  But this should be just about right.  Taste it and add more salt if needed. We don't use milk, but we do use butter, I will sometimes put a spoonful of butter into it at this point. It makes a really nice silky creamy soup. Serve it with some yeast rolls or buttery crackers or whatever you feel like. 

These are 30 minute yeast rolls that I baked in my Ninja Foodi Grill.

Hope you enjoy-- Bon Appetit !

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Autumn has arrived...



   Very grateful for the cooler temps of late.  Mostly because it means it's soups and stews weather. lol  This is a chicken and rice soup I made this past week, all made from pantry ingredients, of course. We had the leftovers for Saturday night supper last night, with peanut butter sandwiches, and there's still enough left for at least one of his lunches this coming week. It was quite tasty. In the 25 days since I started this Pantry Challenge, I have spent about 15 dollars at the grocery store, for mostly produce and a couple of loaves of bread.  But this week I'm going to start making bread again, and I'll probably still have to buy a little produce and fruit. But that's okay.  I'm sticking to it, even though the local grocers keep trying to entice me with their ground beef and steak sales.  lol  

  Today is Sunday and I'm trying to figure out what to make for our supper tonight.  We usually clear out whatever leftovers there are on Friday and Saturday, but not this week. There is still some air fried chicken in the fridge.  And soup. But I made breakfast for supper Friday night and finished up the mashed potatoes by making potato pancakes, the white gravy by using a leftover biscuit each for B&G, the piece of leftover smoked sausage for , well, meat.  lol  Added 2 over easy eggs and it was a great supper. And cleaned some stuff out of the fridge. Win/win !!  I just had a thought about a one pot Corned Beef and Cabbage dish for supper tonight. Make it with home canned corned beef, baby carrots and red potatoes and fresh onions and cabbage. I could bake a small loaf of  Irish Soda Bread to make it special,. Mmmm... that sounds pretty darn good. Himself does love that Irish Soda Bread.  (Me too).  lol

  Hope everyone is surviving the inflationary prices of everything. The cost of gas is going back up again (that didn't last long). Makes me worried that I cannot afford to refill my propane tank. The last time it was filled it was 700 dollars. And that's when fuel prices were not nearly this high.  SMH... interesting watching Victoria (the Masterpiece Theater series) last night about the Irish Potato Famine and the attitudes of the wealthy (English) landowners and their behaviors. Quite disgusting, really...millions of people dying of starvation and they're throwing them off the land and houses and proclaiming that they "brought this upon themselves".   Then himself proceeded to tell me about the British evicting all these people living in the slums because they were sick and tearing down all the housing, leaving them with nowhere to go. This was (I think) late 1800's. 

Slum clearances: evicting the lowly

Between 1878 and 1899, slum clearance schemes in central London led to 45,334 men, women and children being evicted. Those, at least, are the official figures; the real numbers may be much higher, because it was in the slum landlord’s interest to evict as many people as he could before the official valuation of his property – empty rooms having greater letting potential than houses filled to the rafters. There is no figure for those thus ‘winkled out’, but even the official number is huge – equivalent to the population of Rotherham in the 1890s.

Who were these people? The short answer is: we don’t know. The voice of the evicted slum-dweller is, for all practical purposes, silent. Some among them would have been intelligent and articulate, literate and skilled. Most, though, were the nameless poor, who lived large parts of their lives in hunger, cold and semi-nakedness. Perhaps word of mouth told them to stay put for the few shillings of compensation that came their way, but that is all they got. At the end, as the social reformer the Earl of Shaftesbury described in the House of Lords in 1875, when the bailiffs arrived “perplexity and dismay are everywhere; the district has all the air of a town taken by assault”. The slums were not cleared to benefit people like these. They were cleared to get rid of them.

  There's your history lesson for today, ducklings. 

  Okay-- I'm off into my day. Might get dressed, might not. Hope you have a peaceful Sunday...

Thursday, September 29, 2022

How's the Pantry Challenge going, you ask ?


Quinoa,Corn and Edamame Salad
Happy Family Fried Rice
Taco Salads
Ribs 'n Taters 'n Green Beans
Aloo Patak

  Then there was smothered chicken last night, with smashed potatoes and glazed carrots. The night before that was Caribbean stew, made with home canned pork loin. Tofu burgers for Meatless Monday. Chili on Saturday and still plenty of that leftover for omelets, lunches and whatever else. 

  It's been an interesting  [almost] 2 weeks of the Pantry Challenge. Have not felt any kind of a squeeze yet, which is good. Making more one pot kind of meals than normal, but I have been trying to do that anyway, to cut down on the amount of meat we consume. Still eating it, but less quantities and less often. Very helpful in this time of sky high prices. My little local market has  Porterhouse steaks on sale right now for 6.99/lb.  Boy, am I tempted to go buy a couple ! But... once I start cheating a little on this challenge, it will happen more and more often. And that defeats the purpose of the whole shebang. lol I have already decided that tonight's supper will be a healthy Egg Roll Bowl, a recipe of cabbage and onions and carrots and ground sausage and bean sprouts. That reminds me, I want to start my sprout jar today too. The fermented carrots are about done. Have had a problem (?) with Kahm yeast growing on it, and have cleaned it out twice. This time it will go into the fridge for snacks and salads. I'm done fooling with it.  The Kombucha, on the other hand has been going well. I have 2 bottles in the fridge now and the 3rd batch since I started brewing it again is on the counter. Now that it's so much cooler, the process is taking much longer. Gives me time to drink the stuff that's already made.  lol 


  The weather has finally cooled down here, we're having 40 degree nights and  65-70 degree days.  Almost good soup weather. You can feel the changes in the earth's energies as the world begins to slow down a little.  I find it a relief, although the past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic for me. Today I am home all day, with no commitments and time to do whatever I choose.  That has to include a little householding, as the dog hair is rolling down the hall like tumbleweeds in a Sonoran desert. The Galloping Goofballs (new twin kittens) are wreaking havoc with any and everything, now that they're finally healthy and old enough to jump and climb and run. They are a constant source of amusement and fun. 

  OK.  I am going to get dressed and eat some breakfast. Then I'll start some hard boiled eggs in my little Egg Wizard machine. I like having hard boiled eggs to munch on or use with salads.  I have 4 dozen eggs in the fridge right now.  Cooler weather means himself is eating more oatmeal and less eggs. Healthier for him, more frugal for me. I'm going to check the cupboard and see if I have any sugar free jello left.  That makes a better dessert option for me and my blood sugar than the leftover orange bundt cake.  lol   My numbers are staying very good, so I'm not too worried.


  Off I go...

Friday, September 16, 2022

Days 1 and 2 of the pantry challenge.


  Been a bit of a snafu here.  As usual, Annie makes plans and God laughs. I have not been feeling well since Wednesday and now it has erupted into a full blown bit of buggery.  Went to the dr yesterday and am starting antibiotics today, after himself picks them up on his way home. I have felt horrid, have had to cancel plans twice this week and may have to cancel tonight.  I didn't sleep well and am in a lot of pain. So...that being said, I have not been able to do the shopping I had planned to round things up before starting the pantry challenge on the 15th. (yesterday).  But by the time I got out of the clinic yesterday, I was running out of time to make supper. I got home about half an hour before he did. I seriously thought about stopping and getting a rotisserie chicken, something I could make a quick easy meal around.  Then I thought-- no, I have stuff at home.  It had been a hot September day, and I had salad greens that needed using, so I just came straight home and got busy. 

  I had some leftover hummus from Meatless Monday, had some cukes and odds and ends of vegetables.  Had some little instant soup packets I had picked up at Big Lots, a Pad Thai soup. So I set to work and before he got home, I had supper on the table.  All made from things I had here at home. It looked like this: 

 Home made hummus. Edamame from the freezer.  Canned (home again) baby carrots. Onions, cukes,black olives,radishes.  Yum.   And those little soup packets (all natural ingredients) were really quite good.  If I see them again, I will buy them for quick use. Mix, 1 c water.  2 minutes total in microwave. It's from the UK.  

Might check and see if Amazon has them by the case. They'd be a handy lunch for cold winter days.

  Anyway.  Today is Friday and I am not terribly motivated to work too hard at supper.  I just had a bowl of multi grain Cheerios for breakfast/ lunch.  Supper tonight will be fish cakes made with canned tuna. I keep that stuff super stocked at all times. It's a cheap and easy to make a lot of things with source of protein. We really like the tuna croquettes, made with cracker crumbs and egg and onion and some spices.  I'll open a jar of my home canned applesauce and heat up some leftover potatoes and maybe open a can of peas.  Voila. Supper.  Out of the pantry. Day 2.  

  I've had a lot of practice making meals out of what I have on hand. We live just far enough out in the country that I can't run to the grocery easily, and the 2 small mom and pop grocery stores close to me are much more expensive than Aldi or the bigger box supermarkets.  Our country road is never the first to be plowed and cleaned up during winter snows, so it can be an issue getting out to the main road from here.  Hence, making meals out of what's in the house.  It's exciting sometimes. lol

  Tonight's supper will look like this (more or less) :  

  With sides.  lol  Have some cut up watermelon for dessert.   Life is good on Honeysuckle Hill.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Circumstances... Time for a pantry challenge.


"The Time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things..."
 Especially the cabbages part. lol
  This is an interesting time we live in. And by interesting, I mean downright terrifying at times.  I have been caught in  web of  sticky wickets of late. We have more money going out than coming in, like a lot of Americans. Having had an onslaught of medical bills, his OT at work has vanished, gas prices through the roof (and when I say gas prices, I mean petrol for the car and truck as well as propane for the furnace and stove).  We are about out of propane, I expect, and the last time the tank was filled it was over $750.00.  In the meantime our [another] small company bit the dust and was bought out by a bigger national company.  I tremble to think what the next fill is going to be and if we can afford it. I just paid off the last one. Utilities are on the rise and the general cost of living has skyrocketed.  This isn't news to anyone with half a brain.

That brings us to the cost of eating, as it always does here.  lol  I have been tucking away bits and bobs of stuff when I can and trying to prepare for a rough year. Not easy when everything is such a struggle already. I have tried to focus on things like meats I could can, already canned meats like tuna and salmon and mackerel.  Staples like rice and beans and flour and sugar and salt.  Spices for cooking. Olive oil and vegetable oil, grapeseed oil and sesame oil. Cases of canned vegetables. Meat for the freezer. 

This isn't my first poverty rodeo, lol   Those of you who are new here may not remember this:

It's that time again. So, starting September 15th, I am going to do another pantry challenge, to try and get through this rough time.  As soon as I have a little extra money Wed -Fri (hopefully) I am going to buy a few more items like oatmeal and some other staples. I think I can do it for under a hundred dollars. I haven't bought any groceries for 2 weeks. Then I will not buy any food related items. We will eat what we have. Creatively.  The last time (see link above) in a 3.5 month period I spent less that 38 dollars, and that was only because I had to buy rice, toilet paper and olive oil.  The pantry was completely bare by the time it was finished and he went back to work. But the gardens were going and the hens were laying. No hens or gardens this year. So there's that. But I have the confidence to believe that we can do it again. It may look a little different, but I will make it work. 

Wish me luck.