Friday, March 30, 2007

Promotion celebration and food (finally)!

During my "slow down" period our wonderful adopted cat Snowball has been keeping things warm anxiously awaiting my return.

So here I am, thanks Snowball. It's been awhile since I had more to say than, "My thumb is healing" ;) Thanks for all your thoughts and well wishes! Also thanks for your prayers for "D", this young man talks nightly to my daughter on the phone and did prior to his mom's death, so even though we are glad he lives more than an hour drive from us we have felt close to the situation. Reading all my fav food blogs and the great food being prepared while I have been on the "sit and mend" has been ..... actually quite inspiring. I now know at least 200 more dishes that I want to cook soon. April 6th I go back to the doctor for an x-ray and anticipate a mended fracture and a freed thumb. Then I will get the fun job of exercising the stiff digit back into shape. This is also the same day I intend to plant my Yukon Gold potatoes.

My honey's last day with his current position is today, he has been promoted to a position of more responsibility. Yes, a good thing for us and something that he has been hoping for. My oldest sis always has a nice supply of free hotel stays due her frequent traveler and flier miles, so she booked us a mini getaway to celebrate not only his promotion but the new contract I was offered and signed for next school year (new location with new exciting things to teach and a new FCCLA chapter to start and advise). After a Friday night hot tub time and some eats that I am packing for supper, tomorrow we intend to do a little shopping including stopping at Penzey's to stock up on my favorite spices. I also plan to purchase a few garden seeds (peas, turnips, kale) as well as a few onions sets and plants (broccoli, cauliflower, etc).

Everyone in my family is experiencing new, new, new. We attended a college visitation with my oldest, Matthew, and were very pleased with what we saw. He will continue in a computer science program and will attempt dorm living there next year. For most kids this is a big deal, but Matthew has had many obstacles to overcome to get this far. Although we are not on easy street, this step is a doozy that we all feel can be a successful one. My baby, Melissa, is running the two mile in track, singing and dancing in show choir and is planning to go to a dance this evening. *Sigh* I'm proud of her and all she does, but this growing up stuff makes me emotional!

Now on to eats....
PRESERVING THE HARVEST (tomatoes, part 2)
I did make a batch of spaghetti sauce using tomatoes from my freezer right before I broke my thumb. Here is a picture. I do pressure can it and blogged about doing this in August last year. This time I made enough sauce to can, but then everyone here got in a big tomato sauce eating mood, plus I decided to try Fat Free Vegan's No Cook Noodle Lasagna (pictured below) which used up the last of the pasta sauce I had.

MY SAUCE RECIPE (copied from the August post linked above):
  • Inspired by Bryanna Clark Grogan's . . . I used Brian's Wine- Free Mushroom Tomato Sauce on page 44 of the Nonna's Italian Kitchen Cookbook. I did add 1 cup of TVP granules and 2 tsp Bill's Best Beefy flavored bouillon powder to this. I reduced the cooking time since the TVP soaks up some of the extra liquid which does not need to evaporate during the long simmer process... I also only simmered for about 1 1/2 hours since I knew I would pressure can it and it would cook for another 1 1/2 hours there.
I also made a double batch of siciliean split pea soup (the recipe link is in the post) using freezer tomatoes. 1 lb toms = a 14.5 ounce grocery store can, 2 lbs = a 28 ounce can. I calculate weight with the tomato skins on, then run the frozen tom under warm water to remove the skin for this recipe. Once the tomatoes thaw in the cooking soup I chop them up using kitchen shears which makes them pretty much dissolve, but they leave the necessary taste. I only keep the skins on when I blend them when I make soup and sauce. I still have two grocery store bags full of frozen tom's in my freezer, but I am sure they will get used up before mid July when I get a new crop of my favorite fruit.

My St Patty's Day feast was a couple of days later since we were out of town the 17th, but this was enjoyed just the same. I purchased some fresh spinach leaves that needed to have the last few in the bag used up, yet they were not edible as a salad anymore so I decided that a lime smoothie (link to recipe) on this special day was in order. Here you see my smoothie along with a plate of Bryanna's chik'n cutlets that I made in my crock pot. They were good and easy, I removed them from the crockpot and onto a plate to cool. Well, all but one... with that one I made a breakfast sandwich and ate it immediately with my smoothie.

I have small freezer bags of turnip and kale greens (cooked down, ready to thaw and use) in my freezer. In my attempt to use these up because I will have more around the first of June (weather cooperating) .... which I definitely will NOT want to eat from my freezer when I have fresh garden produce available. I have been thawing the small snack size bags in my frig and then taking out the greens to chop up and add to soups and stir fries. I did freeze a batch of garlic seasoned greens using a recipe from Dreena's book that I will probably thaw, heat in a pan, and eat as a meal side. This picture is a potato stir fry using the greens. Simple, yet flavorful. I think if I make it again I will add cooked white beans. This is served along side a slice of whole grain toast with apple butter.

Last bit of March cooking.....
CABBAGE (of course) ... Although I didn't make the traditional Irish feast like I did last year, I have been chopping a lot of cabbage.

Fairly odd tofu mom posted about her fav THAI SALAD... I made this recipe twice in the last month. It is beautiful and tasty - I love it. The picture is of a dish of it I took for lunch. It is topped with some sesame seed twigs. The recipe is posted on her blog, click the thai salad word to get to it. You can see my mending thumb here also, the poor thing is purple and usually cold, but lately the right color is beginning to come back which is a good sign of circulation and proper healing. The wrap continues down onto my wrist to keep it in the proper place to mend.

I also made a simple salad in which I add fruit to, I never measure, just chop whatever and put my fav basic cole slaw dressing on it.

I like this best on broccoli salad, shredded carrot salad, and cole slaw. Just whisk it smooth in the small magic blender cup. Combine:
1/2 C favorite lite mayo
2-3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp KAL brand stevia extract powder

APPLES (they are an Irish Thing too!):
The bakehouse has an apple tree that bears fruit every second year. Last year was one of them. I made some s/f free (stevia sweetened) apple pie filling. Although I had some grand ideas on what I could do with this, so far I have been enjoying it straight from the jar or warmed and topped with some cold vanilla soy yogurt and granola. Someday I want to make small hand held pies with it. Here's my granola and yogurt topped treat:

Last, but not lease, here's a picture of the cat we are still fostering for the PALS organization. SOPHIE is adoptable. She was the mother of the second batch of kittens we fostered and found homes for around Thanksgiving. She is cuddling up on my rocking chair, such a sweet kitty.

For now I hope everyone is enjoying their spring recess (if you have one) and is staying safe from the tragic path of tornadoes that recently ripped through a section of the Midwest. We have had some absolutely wonderful weather here... today a bit chilly with drizzle (blustery), but early this week we were sitting in the 80's!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy Blog Birthday

March 17 my blog turned one year old and I've been married another year (19 and going strong!). My thumb feels good enough to take the protective plastic off, but I know that to have a good fix I've been warned to keep it on for the whole six weeks. DH and I went with 25 rowdy (and some uncivilized) teenagers and three other adults to a church weekend event in another state. We and they had an awesome time even if not much sleep was involved. A friend of my daughter lost his 39 year old mother suddenly due to an anuerysm on the 12th, he went to the weekend trip also... my heart was really breaking for him. If you'd like to think of "d" and give a quick prayer for him and family I extend the effort to tell you about it for that purpose.

I have been thinking about gardening and beginning to order. We are going through some major property purchases and related dealings right now, so the face of my garden will be changing greatly this summer. I am looking forward to it. March 21 is the first day of spring. We plant potatoes, a few onions, and some greens seeds on Good Friday usually. Our average last frost date is May 15th and we garden until mid October (short growing season). Soon I have my left hand back in use for cooking and typing, until then I am slowed down tremendously so I haven't been posting much.

Until then... I am still reading other blogs (just not typing much). Happy St Patty's day! Check out my archives from a year ago and you'll find some corned gluten roast as well as big beautiful bran muffins. CHEERS and happy soon to be spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Still alive...


Yes, I passed the test (Thanks kleo!).

I added "my blog" to my cell phone address book. I then used the key pad to add my blogpage e- post address in stead of a phone number. I can see by my word test above that I can instantly post a message and pictures by texting a message to my blog page. Isn't that just "techy" of me to figure out. :) Sure I had done it once before but it wasn't as easy as pushing one button like it is now.

By the way I have began to cook again and single handedly wash dished. I can chop veggies pretty well. My thumb is so protected that I do not have to worry about cutting it when I slice onions. Thanks for a double dose hug veg-a-nut. I feel so warm and fuzzy in side y'all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

We got the power ..

HUGS! To all you who commented and left well wishes. We have power and the worst of the branches picked up. Many people around us still do not have power even after two weeks, which means no heat for many but some do have gas powered generators (not us). With the cost of gas being at almost $3 gallon it takes a good 20 gallons a day to power a small house. Dave's work was running generators to power up the entire plant which took more than 50000 gallons of gas a day however there were three days he did not work last week. Many shelters had opened up for showers and just a warm place to stay.

What am I to be thankful for. My home canned food red beans (seasoned), rice, black beans soup, green split pea soup, pickled green beans, jellies, bread I had previously baked in the freezer, etc. We had a propane cook stove to warm things up with (an electric household convection oven doesn't work without electricity) and was thankful that it was cold enough outside that we just allowed nature to keep our freezer goods at the bakehouse cold by opening a couple of windows in the freezer room... we didn't lose anything (yeah!). Other things we were thankful for included a propane heater for the main level of our house, a shower at the school, candlelight, a battery operated radio, bottled water, and each other.

My thumb is healing... four and 1/2 weeks of still having it wrapped :( - the wrap is annoying and my hand occasionally itches inside of it. Washing dishes and ease in going to the bathroom are things I miss the most. I'll be lurking around blog land awhile catching up on my favorite blog reads for a while longer. I'll also be working on that using the harvest frozen tomato post part 2. CHEERS!