Monday, January 21, 2019

Let's Talk Spices

 We tend to have a mild pallet.  Most of the foods I make would mostly fall into the older farm genre.  Even though we like simple fare, I can't stand unseasoned, bland food.  I prefer homemade stock, yet it isn't always available.  I will use bouillon along with canned broth to add flavor. When I do make my own stock besides onion, carrot, and celery I also add garlic powder, parsley flakes, and bay leaf. 
You will often find me using bay leaf.  So much so that Megan calls it my secret ingredient. Ha!  I keep telling her that it's commonly used.  Do you follow Annabelle at http://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com?  She shows some the most beautiful, fresh bay leaf that she her mom grows.  It makes me wonder if it could grow in Indiana.  I might have to check out the conditions it needs to grow. 

Speaking of bland, unseasoned food, I know that is something that can be hard for a young cook.  It takes time to pick up the "season to taste" part of a recipe.  My advice to young cook is keep tasting and don't give up even if you don't first succeed.  Another thing I would say is don't discount plain ol' salt and pepper.  It's amazing what adding a little more salt can do for the taste of  dish. 
  Please share your favorite spice and how you use it.  I'm always open to learning a new trick or two in the kitchen. 

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations... keep moving forward, friends. 


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Penny Smart #8: Leftover Makeover #2

This is a place where I share how I've stretched a penny, saved a penny and in many cases spent no pennies.

One of the ways to help meet our financial goals is to have a zero waste, or as close as I can, kitchen. This year you will see me talking about re-purposing leftovers, cooking from the pantry, and making things stretch. 

Sometimes there is no need to makeover the leftover.  I made a dinner buffet by heating up all of the leftovers from Christmas.  I sat everything on the counter and it was a pick and chose meal.
After the leftover buffet there were still leftovers.  I added hot dogs to the beans for a beanie weenie dinner and provided the leftover green beans and potatoes as a side.  Both Chuck and I ate beans and hot dogs from time to time as kids.  This meal was a throw back treat for Chuck.  
A choice of turkey or ham for a grilled sandwich lunch.  I used turkey and swiss on my sandwich.
The pot pie filling I didn't need was made into a lunch item.  It was topped with leftover stuffing and heated in the oven to make the stuffing a little crisp. 
I used the last of the macaroni and cheese along with some diced Christmas ham to make a ham and mac casserole.  Megan happened to pop in just after I had made this and asked what was for dinner.  

It was dinner time, but Chuck and the neighbor were out trying to get the van running.  A story for another day.  Anyway, Megan cracked me up when I asked her if she wanted it and she said, "are you trying to get rid of leftovers?"  Absolutely!  Pared with some leftover peas and her dinner was served. 
I have two sizes of ramekins that I use often.  It helps with portion control and makes an ordinary food item fun.  
By this time the leftovers had dwindled and frankly I was tired of remaking things.  The rest of Christmas dinner (ham, turkey and gravy)was packaged up and placed in the freezer.  In a month or so we will welcome the ham and turkey, but for now we are over them.  Oh, and don't worry they were tucked away long before this post. *wink*

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. Proverbs 13:11  

It's a great reminder to tackle our financial goals bit by bit. So there you go. I hope this encourages you to do things to save money. The old adage that every penny counts seems to apply more and more these days. I find it's much harder to stretch my pennies into nickles. *smile* I find it encouraging to hear about other frugal adventures and I hope you do also.


Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Joy in the Ordinary

Look around, really look around and you will find joy... joy in the everyday... joy in the ordinary things.


This week Chuck returned to work after an extended vacation.  It was a lovely time together with slooooow mornings. Now we are back to the grind.
 This week has started off with a very clean house.  Thanks to a mouse that Megan named Jerry.  *shutter*  That little thing was a pain to catch.  It would eat the peanut butter off of the traps.  One night it even set one off while snagging the peanut butter.  Chuck started to call it Houdini!  Thankfully it is now gone! 
My sidekick helped me clean every nook and cranny to get rid of any evidence of Jerry.  Yay for a clean house!

School is back in session.  
Daily routines are resuming. 
I've been busy stretching things in the kitchen.  The Thanksgiving turkey carcass came out of the freezer to be made into stock.  Hmm... it made my home smell wonderful!
We are working hard to reach goals.  It may not seem like much, but every little bit toward our goal is better than none. 

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations... keep moving forward, friends. 


Monday, January 07, 2019

Fifty!

Yesterday, 50 years ago my parents said "I do." I've been thinking about their marriage and what it has taught me. I kept coming back to three things... love, forgiveness, and most importantly commitment. They are committed to honoring their vows, for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, to love and to cherish. My parents have modeled commitment to their vows and to one another through all their years together. In a world where many take the marriage vows lightly, I'm thankful for my parents example.

My niece and I hosted a simple luncheon in their honor yesterday.  
 
 
 
  
 My prayer is that God will continue to bless their union. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! We love you!!


Friday, January 04, 2019

Mrs. Red

I have a new friend named, Mrs. Red. After seeing her from time to time and longing for a better relationship she came into my life this Christmas.
She is an enameled cast iron dutch oven. We are having fun getting to know each other. 
I can already tell this is the start to long and beautiful friendship.  I'm looking forward to all the adventures we will enjoy.

If you have a friend like this, please, tell me all about her. *smile*

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations... keep moving forward, friends. 





Thursday, January 03, 2019

Penny Smart #7: Leftover Makeover

This a place where I share how I've stretched a penny, saved a penny and in many cases spent no pennies.

One of the ways to help meet our financial goals is to have a zero waste, or as close as I can, kitchen. This year you will see me talking about re-purposing leftovers, cooking from the pantry, and making things stretch. 

Christmas Eve we had lunch with the in-laws (Chucks' mom and step-dad).  My mil sent home one and a half of the chicken breast that she fried for lunch.  I decided to use it to make a pot pie.  
Anyway, I cut the meat off into chunks and was able to get about 2 cups.  I sat that in the refrigerator for later.  
As you can see in the pot I could have gotten some more meat off, but I decided to use it to flavor the stock since I only had the carcass of one chicken breast.  I threw in the skin, bits and piece, a carrot, bay leaf, sprinkled in a little garlic salt, and some pepper.  
 
It made the riches, most delicious stock.  It had a ton of flavor from the chicken being fried.  
My sous chef was in charge of peeling and slicing carrots.  She decided they would look better if she used the crinkle cutter. *smile*
Once the pot pie was in the oven  I pulled the rest of the filling out for another use.  The good stuff was out into the refrigerator for later and there was still a good portion of the "sauce" left.  It was placed in the freezer to be used as a starter for soup. 
It would have been a much more frugal meal if I had made my crust.  I haven't had much luck with making a tasty pie crust.  That will be on list to conquer this year.  
This was the best pot pie I have ever made!  I'm sure it is due to making my own stock.  Chuck declared it "plate licking good."  Thankfully he has more manners then to lick the plate.  *wink*

This is the time of year when there are plenty of leftovers.  I'll be back next Thursday with some more leftover makeovers.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. Proverbs 13:11  



It's a great reminder to tackle our financial goals bit by bit. So there you go. I hope this encourages you to do things to save money. The old adage that every penny counts seems to apply more and more these days. I find it's much harder to stretch my pennies into nickles. *smile* I find it encouraging to hear about other frugal adventures and I hope you do also.


Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Joy in the Ordinary

Look around, really look around and you will find joy... joy in the everyday... joy in the ordinary things.

We brought the New Year in sound asleep.  The next morning was slow and lazy.
Time in the Word as a family.  Our family verse is 2 Corimthians 12:8

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
After a hard, hard 2018 we are holding fast to the fact that His grace is sufficient... always.

New Years Eve morning I hit the grocery store.  By 9 am I had hit both WalMart and Meijer.  The next stop was breakfast where we enjoyed a last meal of sorts.  You see I "might" have a slight Chick-fil-A addiction.  That isn't going to cut it on our debt free journey.  This is what I said about it on my FB page. 


"Dear Chick-fil-A, I love you, but we need to take a break. It's me and not you. Saying good-bye is hard, especially since I really love your sweet tea. The thing is we have financial goals for 2019 and I want financial security more than your deliciousness. It's not good-bye forever. I'll drop by from time to time, just not once, twice or... it doesn't matter how often it use to be... Until we meet again, Wendi"
This was suppose to be funny, yet I had many people putting the sad emoji on this post. Ha! I don't know if they are sad that I won't be eating Chick-fil-A way too often or if they think we are broke beyond affording a meal.  We can afford it, but not if we want to irraticate our debt quickly.  Or at least as quick as we can. 
Slime!  Thanks for the wonderful gift from Grandma. I gave her hard time (jokingly) about it especially when Megan told me it had glitter. 
A simple donut breakfast set out for my family.  I had honest to goodness joy as I set this up.  I can't tell you how happy it made me to feel real joy in the ordinary! 

The first of what I hope many trips to drop off donations.  I got rid of lots of stuff last year, yet I'm still going.  Honestly, I think it's an on going thin.
The first room cleaned top to botom.  Many of the above items were things Megan parted with.  For our pack rack daughter it was a big day!  Her bed was made with Christmas bedding and she so far she had been doing a decent job keeping it tidy. 

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations... keep moving forward, friends.