Friday, January 25, 2008

Sometimes the changes least noticed are the most significant

This is what we got in our Bountiful Basket two weeks ago.

It's gone... we ate it all. Really. (Okay, except for half of the cabbage... I don't like cabbage and have had a hard time cooking with it.)

That's an amazing accomplishment for our family. We eat well, but I tend to overbuy veggies from the supermarket and end up tossing half in the trash because they spoil too soon to be used or too late from being forgotten. Now that we are buying from this co-op, it's really transformed our meals.

Some of you may scoff and say, "Geez, that's not all that much to use up, we go through twice as many fruits and veggies in two weeks!" Well, you're way ahead of me on the green-wagon train. I start meal-planning with lots of ideas that fizzle out when it gets to five o'clock and I realize I forgot to defrost meat that day. As much as I want to eliminate convenience food from our pantry (and arteries), I still have a schedule that often puts me in front of the freezer digging for breaded fish bits or TJ's meatballs to put on top of 10 minute pasta.

This month, however, has nearly transformed my cooking routines. Now that I am not shopping for veggies on the spur of the moment, but rather forced to plan meals that take advantage of this new bounty, I have been more creative with my feeble attempts at culinary genius (or rather, competence), have wasted much less in the process from storing to leftovers, and have served meals that are more fresh and more homemade-from-scratch than ever before.

I'm still not always successful at these attempts (see above comments about cabbage--the pathetic "slaw" served to my family was met with thumbs-down, tongues-out reviews and afterwards dumped in the trash). However, the other things that came out of my kitchen this month--from the assortment of carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuces, corn, apples, citrus and berries--were all approved and requested again. My personal favorite so far was a Chicken Pot Pie. Mmmm, comfort food, soooo good.

Tomorrow's basket order will include three pounds of heirloom tomatoes and a half-pound of aged white cheddar cheese. Hubby has already put in a request for homemade tomato soup and a cheese sandwich. I hope I get this one right!

Any suggestions for canning tomatoes would be welcome. May your weekend also include a bounty!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yesterday's haul:

A fancy-schmancy sewing cabinet

Prenatal Yoga cards

A new 12" covered chef's pan

$35 Joann's Gift Card

A box of used items from my mom's kitchen* - a stained coffee mug, a trivet, a pair of Christmas ornaments, a spatula (all in her latest "theme" obsession -- gingerbread men) and a three-in-one peeler. At least the peeler is cool.

A pair of pretty freshwater pearl and jade earrings from hubby's sweet auntie.

Phone calls from my parents and my sisters (apparently my bro forgot again). An email from "Borders Rewards" with a coupon. Hugs from my daughters, along with a delicious dinner of my mother-in-law's tacos, rice & beans, plus a delicious disaster of a chocolate cake for dessert.

It was a pretty good day.

Here's to my three-dozenth year!

*(I am all for saving the earth by recycling and reusing... however, my mom's gift rubbed me the wrong way. She lies and insists that these items are "new" [so that she doesn't seem as poor as she really is], she buys lavishly for herself [yet complains about not being able to afford to buy presents] and then wraps those things up for other people when she is at a loss for a gift, and expects praise and compliments on her good taste when the stuff comes out of the box dirty, used, dusty and totally ill-suited to the recipient. If I make an off-hand comment about this neurotic behavior, I am then the most ungrateful daughter in the world to not appreciate her "generosity." Huh.)

Food Processor Lesson #642

Very important to remember: when incorporating liquid to a mixture in the food processor, add the liquid last, not first. For example, when chopping up frozen berries for sorbet, it is best to process down the berries first then add in the water slowly. Filling the processor bowl with two cups of water and one cup of frozen mixed berries, then turning it on, will result in pink water spewing out of every crack of the food processor all over the machine, kitchen counter and your clothes.

Better yet, for this type of recipe, use the blender.

In thanks for reading this blog, I will share the recipe that taught me this lesson, created by yours truly.

Lemon-Berry Sorbet
Created by Your Incompetent Hostess

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup lemonade concentrate
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup sugar

Combine berries with lemonade concentrate in food processor or blender. Chop until smooth. Slowly add in water and sugar. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker. Turn on ice cream maker, for about 25 minutes until mixture is frozen to consistency of soft-serve. Eat immediately. Delicious with a little vodka mixed in at a "Girls' Night In" party (as I was told).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You know your kids watch too much tv when...

You know your kids watch too much tv when they recite the entire script of infomercials back to you at random moments, like in the car on the way to school.

My kids think they need:
The Go-Duster
The Betty Crocker 100-piece Cake Decorating Kit
Blendy Pens

My kids think I need:
The Craft-Lite Cutter
The Buxton Bag Organizer
Life-Alert (I'm not sure what they are trying to say about my age with this one.)

Maybe since I am an Incompetent Homemaker, I should get my kids the Go-Duster...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

All-Day Bread

A new recipe I perfected this week:

Around 9 am, take an excellent recipe like this one for Oatmeal Sandwich Bread. Load all the ingredients in the bread machine pan (don't leave anything out! whew!). Place the bread machine pan in the bread machine. Set the bread machine cycle to "Dough."

About an hour later, wonder how the bread is doing. Run back to the kitchen and look in the bread machine to find a bubbling mass and notice that you did not yet turn the machine on. Turn machine on.

When the buzzer sounds the end of the rising cycle, open the cover and notice that the bread didn't rise. Warm the oven slightly, place the dough in a bread pan, put the pan in the warm oven and cross your fingers.

Entertain a friend who has stopped by while your dough hangs out in the pan for an extra long period of time in the oven, not rising. Just before the end of the rising time, get ready to leave the house. Ask friend how to rescue this poor loaf that now needs to bake but can't start yet because you have to go pick up a child from school and can't leave the house with the oven on. Friend advises putting the bread outside where it is chilly so that the yeast growth is arrested. Follow her advice and go pick up child.

When arriving back at the house, surmise that you can warm it back up and maybe help it rise a little more by putting back in a warm oven. After another 30 minutes in warm oven, give up and bake the bread according to the original instructions. By dinnertime, remove bread from oven and present it to family as Dense Oatmeal Toasting Loaf for breakfast the next morning.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bag Lady

It's a disease, a fetish, an affliction... whatever you call it, I am a packrat. However, I have a mission--to reduce the amount of clutter in my home before this babe arrives in three short months.

Today, when sorting through a drawer in the bench seat by our front door, I found 14 (fourteen) bags stuffed in there. Tote bags, mini-backpacks, a discarded purse, accessory bags from various diaper and work bags, even two plastic library promotion bags.

That's just a start. I am afraid to think of how many bags I would find if I go around the house pulling them out of all the other closets and drawers where forgotten or unused bags are stuffed and stashed.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Choices, choices...

"Hello from,
Thanks to the recent purchase(s) you made in the Home and Garden store at, you are eligible to receive a one-year subscription to your choice of "Bon Appetit," "Domino," or "Gourmet" magazine (valued from $10 to $15).
"To receive your one-year subscription, please click the link below, which will direct you to a secure form at Amazon where you can sign in to your account, and sign up for your subscription.
"What's the catch? None. We're happy to provide our customers with the benefits of partnering with great publishers. There is no charge for this offer, and there is no automatic renewal."

I am tempted by all three. Such beauty, creativity, inspiration inside! I can't decide!

Which would you choose? Why?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Spot the Flaw

A gold star to anyone who can see my mistake in the following project photo:

This was a last minute Christmas gift for my second-grader's best friend. I was crazily stitching it up before delivering at the end of the last day of school before Winter Break. I didn't realize the mistake until I was laying it out for the photo! (That's a clue.)

So I ripped out a few inches of sewing, fixed the problem, re-sewed and wrapped it, just in time to take it to school. The look on the little girl's face was worth the rush!

I also made one for my daughter, so she and her BFF have matching tote bags. The inspiration was also from the latest craft swap, courtesy KM-S. Thanks, my friend!

(Here's the tote bag pattern, in case you like it.)

Sassy Shirt Shopping Sacks

I promised several people that I would post pictures of this soooo simple craft project when I was done. Well, with all the crafting before Christmas, and the cleanup after, I just got back to my t-shirt project.

My friend Marie introduced me to this idea at our last craft swap (which is such an amazing ritual, I highly recommend it for your group of friends). She used the Martha Stewart pattern, and I found the t-shirts at Goodwill (I love thrifting!).

The project took me about $1.50 and 5 minutes per bag. I liked the sassy tees, but it would also be a lot of fun to use fabric markers or paint and let your kids decorate the bags too!

(Sorry about the photo quality, I am not a photographer! Also, the mini sewing machine on the left is my daughter's. Mine is under the purple tee next to it.)