All Cooked Out

23 06 2009

I love to cook, but I definitely overdid it for Father’s Day. I promised my mom that I would bake some oatmeal raisin cookies for my PawPaw who was going to be passing through that day.  Since I was cooking Oatmeal Cookies anyway, I thought I would surpise my hubby with some Oatmeal Creme Pies for Father’s Day.  Then I realized when I was cooking him breakfast that we didn’t not have anything breadish to put jam on. (We live on jam at our house. We didn’t used to, but then a friend showed me how to can and I made jam like crazy and then she shared her jam and now jam is all The Thing here. ) Anyway, we didn’t have any bread, so I decided that since I was baking I could just whip up a batch of biscuits, too. I’m sure for some people this isn’t a big deal, but I had never actually made biscuits before. (Except Cocoa and Biscuits, but that’s another story.) So I tried a new recipe that was ok, but the temperature was way too high and the I rolled the biscuits to thin, so I made another batch so I could get it right. Sometimes its hard being a perfectionist.

Are you tired yet?  I was pretty tired by this point.   Here’s where I took a break and threw the kids in the car to try and see my grandfather and my Uncle Dominic and Uncle Larry who were supposed to be at my Mom’s at 12:45.  They never showed. At 2:15, they were still a half hour away and I couldn’t wait anymore.  My kids were already up way past their nap time, and I didn’t want to risk the certain meltdowns if we tried to wait longer. So that was generally a waste of time, but it did give me a break from cooking.

I should have stopped here. I didn’t.

I’d already told my hubby and my brother in law that I would cook Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for them and I’d already taken all the meat out for it. And, since I was cooking gumbo anyway, my Mom wanted to know if I would go ahead and make some Egg and Potato Fricasee. So I started that. Now, if you haven’t cooked gumbo before, let me explain something. Cooking gumbo is not that difficult. Its actually pretty easy. The exhausting and laborious part of gumbo is cooking the roux. You get to stand over a skillet (or in my case, since I was cooking so much, 2 skillets) for a couple of hours, slowly stirring flour and oil and until it browns and starts to look like this.

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This flavor filled paste of goo. Then you chop up a bunch of veggies and throw them in the roux after you’ve taken it off the heat. (The roux stays very hot for quite awhile)

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After all the Cajun Trinity (celery, onion and bell pepper) has cooked, just throw the roux in a pot, throw in whatever else you are cooking and add water until you get to the desired consistency. Gumbo is more of a soup and Fricasee is more of a thick gravy. I wish I had pictures of the rest of the progress, but I didn’t take these myself. My friend, Wynk took the pictures and she had to go back home to mow her lawn before I could finish.

Oh, I almost forgot- while I was cooking the roux, I thought it would be a fun treat to cook some stuffed jalepenos, as well. (just for kicks)

So, to sum up, I cooked

  • 2 batches of biscuits a
  • batch of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • a batch of  Oatmeal Creme Pies
  • a breakfast of sausage, bacon and eggs
  • Stuffed Jalepenos
  • Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
  • Egg and Potato Fricasee

All in one day. Because I’m an idiot. Oh, and I love my husband. I spent 2 hours cleaning the kitchen that night and it still wasn’t completely clean. So what did my kids get for breakfast this morning? Pops cereal. And what did they have for lunch? Sonic. And what did they have for dinner? leftover gumbo.  I was so cooked out that by the time I made it home to eat, we were out of rice and I just ate my fricasee plain. (my 1 cajun reader is shuddering at the thought right now). Because I was too tired to cook rice! Maybe this won’t turn into a cooking blog, afterall. 🙂

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Homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies

23 06 2009

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Don’t you just love those Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies?  I do too, but last time I indulged and bought a box, they had shrunk!  I also hated the ingredient list. That’s why I love this version made with all natural ingredients.   I made these as a treat for my dear husband for Father’s Day, but I’ve snuck a couple myself and it goes without saying that the kiddos went crazy over them.   I found the recipe here, and I honestly don’t think I would change a thing. Usually after running through a recipe once, I try and start figuring out how to improve it. Not this one, though. The only tip I have is to find a consistent measuring device to drop the cookies out with so that they are each the same size. I used the 1 1/2 tablespoons from Williams and Sonoma and packed the dough in each time and leveled it out. It was kind of pain to the get all the cookies on the pan that way, but it was worth it. They all cooked at the exact same time and they all came out the exact same size.  Make some today and your family will love you for it. Or at least they’ll eat all the cookies and make yummy sounds.

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(Btw- the lovely pictures are courtesy of my photography savy friend, Melissa. Thanks, Wynk! )





2 steps forward and 1 step back

17 04 2009

I ate like crap today. In the midst of my obsession with fresh, I took a break and ate a party time sausage in a tortilla, a peanut butter and jam sandwich (although the jam was made by yours truly) on white bread and a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not exactly garden fresh kind of stuff. In fact, I didn’t eat a single vegetable today (which is pretty odd for me). I think some of it has to do with the fact that I didn’t work out today or yesterday. Yesterday I went to the gym with every intention of enjoying my Pilates and Zumba classes, but 15 minutes into Pilates, I realized that my allergies were not going to allow me the oxygen or the necessary equilibrium to finish. Today I just wasn’t very motivated. Whenever I take a break from the gym, my eating habits tend to regress. I don’t think that was the whole story, though. I checked out Harvest For Hope by Jane Goodall from the library today along with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to reread. It feels very ironic to be poring over reading material about the gluttony of the American Way while I eat mint chocolate chip ice cream, but it feels a bit like Mardi Gras for me. I know that the more information I take in about our food sources and the effects that they have on our world (and our health), the more concerned I will become with it. I understand why most people don’t want to think about this kind of stuff. You can’t educate yourself and then ignore it. At some point, you have to act on that knowledge. I can foresee a point in the not so distant future when I won’t allow myself to indulge in convenience foods at the cost of my conscience. So for right now, it feels like that last guilty splurge before a long Lenten season. Even though my main concern is the health of my family, a part of me feels like a kid whose about to have my candy taken away.





Change in Direction

10 04 2009

I know- I haven’t blogged in forever. This blog just didn’t really fit anymore. In fact, I thought about starting a brand spankin’ new one with a different name, but for the moment I’ll just post here.

My life has found a new focus lately. My family is still my main concern and I do still try to save money whenever I can, but I’m much more concerned with my health and the health of my family these days. It’s bordering on obsession, but I’m ok with that. Mostly just because I’m an obsessive kind of person and I’m used to it. This is not a new trend with me; its been building over time. I’ve worked out consistently for a year and half and I’ve been cooking most of our meals at home since before that. I had a nice square foot garden last year that produced a decent amount of fresh vegetables and herbs. I spent more time in the produce section of the grocery store than anywhere else, and I thought I was doing pretty well.

Recently I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I came across it at Barnes and Noble and it sounded interesting. A friend had read and raved over it, so I went to to the library and checked it out. I read it in two days and promptly began to annoy everyone in my life by telling them all about it insisting that they HAD to read it. (Didn’t I warn you that I get obsessive?)

It sounds very dramatic and cliche to say this book changed my life, so I won’t go that far, but it did make me think.  If you aren’t familiar with the book, its the true story of the journey the author and her family go through to attempt to eat only local food for a full year. Since then, I’ve paying more and more attention to where my food came from and just how fresh it was (or wasn’t). I’d love to say that I’m mostly motivated by my concern for the environment. That I just can’t stand the thought of eating a tomato from California that burned countless gallons of fossil fuels just to make it to my grocery store. I’d also love to say that my secondary conern is the small time farmer. How I couldn’t eat that well traveled tomato from the large corporate farm out of guilt, because I just knew I was helping put the little guy out of business.  These things do cross my mind, but I’m afraid to say that my main concern is how things taste and the nutrients that my family is getting. That tomato that traveled two weeks to get to me is not really fresh. It’s not breed to burst with flavor or high levels of Vitamin C and lycopene. It’s engineered to survive a two week truck ride and still look pretty when it gets to the store.  That’s not really what I’m looking for in food.

Since I’ve developed this awareness of the freshness of things, it has definitely crossed over into the slightly insane category. I find myself craving the freshest foods and then still wondering how I could get them even fresher.  My lunch today was a perfect example. I’ve been craving a really good panini for weeks now. My wonderful mother treated me to Panera the other day, which used to do the trick. Unfortunately, I was terribly disappointed. It wasn’t as fresh or as a flavorful as my flawed memory told me it should be. So I finally made my own today.  I roasted fresh zucchini and tomatoes and put them on fresh homemade honey wheat bread with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil and then I served the sandwich with fresh goats’ milk. Sounds pretty, um, fresh, huh? (Because if it doesn’t, I could try and throw that word in a few dozen more times!)  It was delicious. I finally had my craving satisfied, but the entire time I was enjoying it, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways it could be better. What if the goat’s milk had come from my goats?  What if the zucchini and tomatoes had come from my garden? (mine aren’t producing just yet) What if I had made the mozzarella cheese myself (from the goat’s milk)? This is just a small example. Every day, I think of a million things that taste would better or would just be cooler if I had produced them myself.

More on the obsession to come…





The other side

11 06 2008

So, I’ve whined quite a bit (mostly in my head, but still) about all of the thankless jobs that I do around here. I get so frustrated because nothing that I do lasts at all. The kitchen will have to be cleaned tomorrow, the laundry, the grocery shopping, etc, etc, etc.  I tend to be pretty envious of my dear husband for some of the jobs he does because they are noticeable and they last. The lastest example is our floors. He has busted his butt to rip out the carpet in our house and install new laminate floors. The job is dirty, backbreaking and exhausting, but it also has the thrill of doing something yourself and everyone walks in and “Ohs” and “Ahs” over this incredible accomplishment.  This Sunday, however, I took note of all of the thankless jobs that my husband does. He finished the floor in his closet, went to Lowe’s, picked me up my Sunday papers, installed the grid in my second garden, replaced the broken toilet seat and changed out all of the burnt out light bulbs in our house (which was most of them). It occurred to me that no one was going to walk into his closet just to admire the floor or walk out of the bathroom and congratulate him on an amazingly placed toiled seat or walk into the house and exclaim, “Wow, you did a great job lighting the place today!” So thanks, babe, for all the things that you do. I really appreciate it!





Why I’m always tired..

6 06 2008

I had several optional titles for this post like, “why I always feel like a chicken with my head cut off” or “Why it feels like I never accomplish anything” or just, “A Day in the Life of a Tired Mom”. I’ve experienced a lot of frustration lately by how exhausted I always feel and how messy the house always is, so I decided to log my activity for a day, if for no other reason than to remind myself of all that I do accomplish on a regular basis. (Even if no one else can tell!)

Emptied the diaper genie, took out the trash, fixed Tori’s milk, let the dogs out of their kennels, changed Tori, changed Taryn, Nursed Tarn, Fixed Tori more milk, Fixed Taryn breakfast, Watered the garden, Fixed Tori breakfast, Changed Tori, Emptied the dishwasher, Sorted clothes, Put a load on to wash, Put up Tori’s clean clothes, Cleaned off the dining room table, Put up a load of clothes, Put a load on to wash, Picked up the living room, Picked up the media room, Put load of clothes up, Put load on to wash, Picked up the Kitchen, Put a load of clothes up, Put load on to wash, Changed Taryn, Picked up the master bathroom (which was FULL of stuff dumped from the bedroom while the floors were being done), Picked up the girls room, Changed sheets on both of the girls beds, Put up load of clothes, Put load on the wash, Changed Tori, Organized coupons, Went to the store, Went to Petco, Changed Taryn, Unloaded groceries and put away, Fixed both girls dinner, Fed Taryn, Changed the girls for bed, Nursed Taryn, Shaved both dogs, Took a shower and some benadryl and CRASHED!!!

That was my day. Granted, I don’t groom the dogs or go to the store everyday, but I do generally feel like I go and go and go and it doesn’t really matter because most of the things that I do are things are going to have to be done the next day and the next and the next.

The good news is that I’m taking today off! The hubby is working from home today and I am hightailing it out of here. The last time I had a day off it was back in November when I went to RenFest, so I am very excited. I’m getting a long overdue pedicure and then I’m going to have a nice lunch somewhere (possibly alone, but that’s ok) and then I’m going to the movies. Not sure what I’m seeing, but its not really important.





Friday Fill in

11 04 2008

Sorry, I haven’t posted in so long. My blog is a little young for me to abandon it so quickly (even if temporarily), but I’ve been in a funk. Thanks to wynk for giving me an easy post to get back in the groove.

1. I love springtime in Texas! (Especially since my new garden is doing wonderfully!)
2. Coffee and biscotti are foods I love to eat for breakfast. (The biscotti is rare, but the coffee is everyday)
3. It seems I’m always searching for a purpose.
4. Snuggling is a great way to end the day.
5. I think I need a nap!
6. My grandmother’s cocoa and biscuits is what I’ve been craving lately.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to shopping with my sister and mom, tomorrow my plans include a wedding shower in Lake Jackson and Sunday, I want to enjoy my visit in Beaumont with the in-laws.