Friday, November 06, 2009

Cooking Club

I really love to cook. And this wasn't the case a few short months ago. For some reason, I had lost my joy for cooking, and it became a chore that I really didn't like to do. So much work, and with having two children, one 3 1/2 and the other 12 months, I felt like I didn't have any time. But now, I have a rekindled love for cooking. I've tried so many new recipes the past few months, and I always make a double batch of most meals. It's just so much easier to do (make a double batch), and then you already have a ready-made meal waiting for you in the freezer. Right now, I have about a dozen turkey and bean chimichangas, 4 gourmet enchilada dishes, 6 cups of homemade chipotle roasted tomato sauce, 5 batches of sweet chicken tostada filling, and a potato-crusted chicken casserole. Tonight, I cooked up 4 pounds of dried beans, which is the equivalent to 12 15 ounce cans of beans. I'll be contributing these beans to a recipe that our Cooking Club has selected, Pasta Fagioli Casserole. Yes, tomorrow is the beginning of our Cooking Club. Myself and 4 other moms from my mom's group, PATH (Parents At Home), are getting together for fun and fixing. We'll each be preparing a dish 5 times so that each can take home to freeze and enjoy later. I am fixing Chicken Florentine Casserole x5, and the others are fixing Pasta Fagioli Casserole (like I already wrote)x5, Mango-Cranberry Chicken x5, Turkey Meatloaf with Rosemary-Cranberry Sauce Glaze x5, and Pork Loin Ragout x5. This has been 5 weeks in the making, due to our busy mommy schedules, and now it's time. Tomorrow I have to go out and buy all the produce for the meals. And then when we all get together, we'll divide our grocery bills into 5 so that we'll pay each other back. And then it's time for prepping. We'll be prepping the meals up to the point that we cook them so that we won't have to wait for meals to cool before we package them up. We could be at Lisa's house all night if we cooked everything! So, we'll be sealing up everything into freezer bags, labeling them, and be on our merry ways with 5 meals each for our families. This is going to be so much fun! And I hope that this club will continue. It'll be like our very own Let's Dish. Oh, how I love Let's Dish. And hopefully we can expand and fix two meals each instead of just one. But one is good to start with. We're still working out all the kinks.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

God's Green Earth

One of my favorite aspects of summer (and perhaps the only) is the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies that are available to eat and enjoy. Just today, I ate an organic purple heirloom tomato on my turkey and cheddar sandwich, tender green beans that I steamed to perfection, and sweet, white corn dripping with butter and a little salt. It makes me salivate just thinking about it! This year, as you may have read previously in a different post, I tried my hands at my own vegetable growing. And much to my delight, IT WORKED, and it worked BEAUTIFULLY! Here are a couple pictures of my beauties that I started from seed.

Amidst all this glorious gardening success, I'm having trouble fathoming eating my hard work. I guess I just don't want it to go away. So, here is my post. A tribute to God's green Earth, and the wonderful vegetables that He helped me grow. Because, I can't hold out any longer! Mmmm, these veggies are good!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Way to go, Baltimore!

Check out this website, Baltimore Green Works. This is so incredibly AWESOME! And then check out some information about Great Kids Farm. I'm speechless. I don't know what to say! I hope that this catches on, and people realize that they don't have to settle for processed foods and expensive produce at the grocery store. And that schools can give kids healthier food options to eat in their cafeterias. Way to go, Baltimore Green Works and Great Kids Farm! Way to go!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Come On People, JUST DO IT! 2

A few posts ago, I expressed my thoughts about recycling and how important it is to me. Well, I'm going to discuss washing and reusing items this time. Reusing plastic zip-top bags in particular. What got me started on washing plastic bags and reusing them was when the Debbie Meyer Green Bags were given to me as a gift. I LOVE THESE BAGS! And YES, they really DO work. I've preserved many a piece of fruit or vegetable with them. And they help keep everything nice, fresh, and plump. You can rinse and reuse each bag up to 8 times. Something to do with their effectiveness of squashing the gases that rot food.

In addition to rinsing the green bags, I decided that I needed to step it up a notch and wash with soap and rinse the plastic zip-top bags that we use everyday and tend to throw away without thinking. Think about it, you throw the plastic baggie away inside a plastic trash bag, and NEITHER of those decompose at a fast rate. So, it's just filler in those ever growing landfills. Just take a look at these facts on Shocking, huh? Makes you think twice about that bag that you just threw away. So, all you have to do is be diligent about rinsing them out and letting them dry. Now, diligent is the key word here my friends. So you don't want to be like I have been by just letting the bags pile up on the counter because I was too lazy to wash them as soon as I was finished. So, if you're going to give these green bags a try or washing zip-top bags, get yourself a Munchkin bottle drying rack or a plastic bag drying rack and go to town. Wash the bags out (the green bags only require water, no soap), give them a good shake like you're fluffing a trash bag, and hang them up. You'll be surprised how easy it is to form the habit of washing and rinsing bags out. And it won't seem like such a chore if you do a little at a time. And you'll be saving money too! And you know we all need to save money right now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ode to the Kitchen Television

I've been waiting for this day since we heard of the digital TV switch. The television in the kitchen has always been a sort of eye sore to me, but it was nice to be able to zone out on the TV while doing dishes or simmering a pot of tomato sauce. Needless to say, I have wanted it gone for awhile. It was just taking up so much space on my counter top. Made everything on that side seem so closed in and claustrophobic. It was just this big, ugly robot-like machine that just needed to go! And FINALLY it's gone! And I am so happy. Now I can enjoy more space for chopping, mixing, and prepping the delicious meals that I cook. Maybe it will even motivate me to stick better to my points (Weight Watchers term). And maybe it will help excite me to cook meals after all our Let's Dish meals are gone (Food Stamps doesn't pay for Let's Dish, bummer!). So, it's a new day in the Cook Kitchen. Well, at least until the day comes that a small appliance finds it's home on that new found counter space. I'm going to try to avoid doing that as along as possible. Praise to the digital TV switch!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Come on people! JUST DO IT!

If you know me, you may know that I feel that it is VERY important to recycle. Paper, plastic, glass, aluminum. Everything! It's not hard. Yes, it may take some effort, but to know that my stuff isn't going in the landfill makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I'm doing my part to save our planet and make it a more healthy place to live. And you know what really drives me up a wall? To see people just being plain LAZY about it and NOT DOING IT! It's like when people smoke cigarettes. They say, "oh, I'm alright. I won't get cancer. It won't happen to ME". Same goes with recycling! People who don't recycle may think, "eh, it's no big deal. Just a little extra trash in our landfill won't be such a big deal". Well, you know what? IT IS A BIG DEAL! Just because you might have to keep, for example, paper for two weeks because they only pick it up every other week DOES NOT mean that it's too hard to do so just forget about it. NO! You have to change your routine (Ooo, scary, huh?), and that goes for people who don't have trash pick-up service, and start freaking caring about our environment and STOP THROWING RECYCLABLE TRASH IN YOUR GARBAGE! Today is trash pick-up day in our neighborhood, and you wouldn't believe (or maybe you would) how much cardboard and paper products are sitting, waiting to be put out with the garbage in our growing landfills. AMAZING! And there are so many times that I just want to go and pick up all those recyclables, but then my home would be over flowing with it and my husband would probably go crazy. SO, it's GOT to be up to EVERY person to do their part. EVERY PERSON! PLEASE! Please don't throw out a cardboard box. Give it to your child to play in, or fill that cardboard box with empty envelopes from your mail or other paper products that you call "trash" and then put it out with RECYCLING. Please don't throw out that plastic milk jug. Make it a bird feeder or just crush it and put it out with your RECYCLING. Please don't throw out that glass jar. Make it a flower vase, or terrarium, or paintbrush holder, or throw it in your RECYCLING bin and set it out to be recycled. Please don't throw out your aluminum cans. Make them into luminaries or tie them to a newly married couple's car, or put them out with your plastic milk jugs and glass jars and any other recyclable container, and DO YOUR PART TO HELP KEEP OUR EARTH CLEAN AND FREE OF WASTE. Come on people! JUST DO IT!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day

So I had a really nice Mother's Day. How about you? Even though it's a Hallmark holiday, it still seems to be important, and we still celebrate. My husband pretty much gave me the day off. It was really nice. I nursed the baby at 6:30 that morning, and then, after baby was done, my husband took him, shut the bedroom door, and let me sleep. Ahhh, sleep. Glorious sleep! How I love to sleep. And sleep in. . .in the morning. I thought that I'd sleep for another hour or so, but no, I slept until 10AM! I guess I was pretty tired. And when I woke up, baby was napping, which meant that hubby successfully put him down for a nap, which sometimes is hard to do. I had made a grocery list the night before, so hubby took our almost 3 year old with him, and I got a lovely morning to myself. Time to eat breakfast in peace. Time to not have to worry about fixing something else for someone else, or changing a diaper. Time for quiet. Time to myself. Time to watch the Today Show (despite their bland interviews). Time to work on my knitting project. Time to be just me. Not a mom. Not a wife. Just me. How refreshing! Plus, it's so amazing how having one day off can really make you appreciate what you have in your kids and your family. I can get so tired of it all, and then when I have a day off and not have to worry about it. I am revived. I am a new mom and wife. Not so tired and not so cranky. I think we should have Mother's Day Off Day once a week. What do you think?