I am currently blogging about everything. Jump in where you are and thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So this is a thing in the world... UPDATE

JC Penney is selling a shirt that reads "I'm Too Pretty to do Homework So My Brother Does it For Me". JC Penney is a multimillion dollar corporation that depends on consumers, a fair number of who must be women and mothers, to buy their products. Well, they just lost me and I made sure to let them know about it at their e-mail address jcpcorpcomm@jcpenney.com and on their Facebook page.

JCPenney pulled the "Homework" t-shirt, but is still selling this little gem and it is just if not MORE offensive. Please let them know what you think of their condescending attitude towards our daughters.

Tuesday and Wednesday's Menus

When I finished my pot roast on Sunday I saved the beef broth from the pressure cooker in a separate container and saved the leftover beef and veggies as well. Yesterday I made a quick roux with butter and flour and then thinned it out with the reserved beef broth. I added my veggies to simmer and then cubed some of the leftover meat. When the veggies were warmed through and ready I added the cubed beef, heated through this made a quick and easy beef stew. I still had some beef leftover, so I wrapped it well in foil and put it in the freezer. I may use it later for another beef stew, or even shred it down and make BBQ beef, or some other reason. It was a super economical meal because I got two dinners out of the one roast plus 2 lunches and now I can even use it round out a third meal. It was also economical because I bought the roasts on a buy one get one sale at Winn Dixie, so I have another untouched roast in the freezer. I wasn't intending on buying beef that day but when I see a sale like that I have to jump on it.

For tonight's dinner I will be setting up my rotisserie and roasting a whole chicken. I will flavor it with lemon, salt, white pepper, and butter rubbed generously under the breast skin to keep things moist and flavorful. I am making a side of rice, some artichokes (just steamed with butter) and some yellow squash.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday and Monday

This morning I decided to take advantage of the relatively cool temperatures in the kitchen and go ahead and make my cheese enchiladas for Meatless Monday. To make cheese enchiladas you will need the following ingredients:

Corn tortillas
1 can of preferred chili (seriously, we usually use hot dog chili but today I made chili with a can of tomatoes, chopped onion and bell pepper, chili powder and adobo, I let it all simmer on the stove until it reduced.)
Chili powder
Cheese, grated colby jack, queso blanco, 4 cheese mexi blend, (Today I used colby jack and shredded mozzarella because that's what I had on hand.)
Chopped fine onion

Set up your stations like this, a wide shallow bowl with water and 2 tablespoons of chili powder in it next to that a heavy bottom pan with a half inch of oil over medium heat. A 9 x 12 baking pan. 2 small bowls, one with onion, one with shredded cheese near the baking pan. Dip a corn tortilla in the water and chili powder mixture, shake off the excess water and fry it briefly in the hot oil. Place the fried tortilla into the baking pan with tongs, add some cheese and onions to the tortilla roll it up and slide it up against the narrow edge of the baking pan. Keep adding tortillas this way till you have the pan filled. If using the hot dog chili method add some of the chili water mixture to it to thin it out, pour your chili over the top of your enchiladas and then top with cheese, you can place this in the freezer at this point or cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve with salad and black beans and rice.

I made a pot roast today as well, I chopped up 3 potatoes and 3 carrots plus a good-sized onion and place them in the bottom of a slow cooker. I seasoned the vegetables with salt, pepper and dried rosemary. Meanwhile I salted and peppered my roast and browned it on all sides in an iron skillet, when it was done I placed it on top of the veggies and then sprinkled flour over the top and then seasoned the meat further with soy sauce, liquid smoke, and worcestershire sauce. I placed the lid on top of the slow cooker and put it on AUTO which in my slow cooker means it cooks on high for 2 hours and then switches to low, it will cook for 5 hours at this rate.

My plans for the rest of the week include "rubber chicken" and maybe a slow cooker broccoli potato soup.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hope everyone reading this is okay.

I mean, I always hope that, but today I am particularly hoping you have shelter and power and you are safe and dry and warm. I am a hurricane veteran at this point, but I know if you are not they can be very scary and disconcerting. Heck, they are still scary and disconcerting to me, but in a familiar type of way by this point.

As far as the weather here; it was so hot today, the kind of numbing, "NO! I am not doing ANYTHING today!" heat that makes cooking kind of a bummer. However I picked myself up and marched myself into the kitchen to make one of my favorite foods in the world, migas! Migas is an egg based dish, usually served at breakfast where you sauté a variety of vegetables (any combo of onion, bell peppers and chopped tomatoes) in oil, add beaten eggs, strips of fried corn tortillas and top with soft Mexican cheese. YUM! So good. And it cooks very quickly so a good dinner for tonight.

I checked the fridge... two eggs. TWO EGGS? We just bought 2 1/2 dozen eggs like last week! Lord, we have been eating eggs a lot recently. But eggs are so perfect aren't they? Gorgeous little proteins, they can be prepared a variety of ways, they cook quickly with little effort and they can be everything from a hearty breakfast to a decadent dessert (meringue cookies anyone?) So it was time to back up and punt.

I had already chopped some onion and bell pepper for my migas so I sauteed them with a dash of salt in some olive oil and decided to make some pasta sauce. I scoured the freezer for some likely source of protein and found some frozen turkey sausage patties, I chopped them up with my big kitchen knife, still frozen and threw them into the pan with my veggies and stirred them till they were brown and sizzling, then I added a jar of fancy basil pasta sauce I got from my MIL (mother in law).

I made a big pot of boiling salted water, cooked some whole wheat penne pasta and dinner was ready in about 20 minutes.

Stay safe, stay dry and see you later!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Easiest Dinners in the World

Some bonus posting today to make up for all the days I've missed due to moving, rats, kitchen appliance malfunction, electrical issues and family emergencies. YUP, it's been a month hasn't it?

Here are some of the fastest and easiest dinners I know how to make:

*Cheese quesadillas with a side of frozen or canned black beans and corn. If you have salsa or sofrito on hand you can toss some in with the black beans to give it some homemade flavor. A small Caesar salad would go great as well.

*Grilled cheese with tomato soup, salad and apple sauce.

*Macaroni and cheese with cut up all beef hotdogs, side of broccoli steamed in the microwave.

*Linguine and clam sauce, (a great pantry staples recipe!) Boil water for noodles, throw canned clams and canned tomatoes into a stock pot, hit it with some italian herbs, smashed clove of garlic and a slug of white wine. When the noodles are done, so is the sauce.

*Frozen cheese or meat raviolis with a side of sauteed green beans with garlic or onions.

*Frozen pot stickers prepared to package directions served with a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables tossed with soy sauce or hoisin.

*Hamburger patty, done on the George Foreman grill or cooktop, side of cottage cheese and tossed salad.

*Chicken breast, pounded flat, cubed and cut up, season and sautee in a pan, toss with cooked hot rice or buttery noodles, serve with veggie of choice.

What are your go-to super fast suppers?

Fish Friday: Lobster Enchilado

Time to make you jealous again with my sweet, sweet fisherman friend hook-up. Here in Florida we are in the middle of lobster season, the Florida lobster (sometimes called the spiny lobster or Caribbean spiny lobster) is a crustacean that lacks the large claws of the Maine lobster but has sweet and succulent tail flesh. Oh my gosh do we love our "bugs" down here and we will eat them any way we can get them. Some of the favorites are lobster Ruebens, lobster linguine, lobster alfredo, steamed tails served with drawn butter, or even spicy tempura battered and fried lobster bites!

Here is a wonderful lobster recipe that we make with Florida lobster and I add Key West Pinks (a type of shrimp) to it as well, delicious and flavorful! Just be careful not to overcook the tails or the shrimp as they can become unpleasantly chewy and tough. Also, just eat it all in one night, reheated lobster is not great. I think pairing this with a nice bottle of white wine, maybe a Pinot Gris, would be a perfect end of summer dinner.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

BBQ Pork Sandwiches (Your Way)

I took the leftover pork roast and shredded it with two forks, mixed it with some high-fructose corn syrup free BBQ sauce and heated it all up briefly on the stove, meanwhile I took some frozen corn niblets, frozen green beans and microwave steamed them. I also served some store-bought potato salad and some crispy, crunchy coleslaw.

The secret to really crisp coleslaw is to salt your shredded cabbage and let it sit in a colander to drain for at least 20 minutes, then rinse it well and spin it in a salad spinner or wrap it in dishcloths and wring it out. Add your shredded carrot and maybe some shredded onion and thinly sliced green pepper too, but those are optional. I then like to toss my cabbage with a bit of olive oil and apple cider vinegar, before blending in some mayo (not too much) and salt, pepper, celery seed and a dab of dijon mustard. Then just combine well and chill until you are ready for dinner, but at least 15 minutes. I am not giving amounts because it truly depends on how much cabbage you are using, a whole head of cabbage versus a small bag of premixed slaw necessarily require different amounts. Also, I like my coleslaw very dry, more like a tossed salad than absolutely swimming in dressing, some people require a lot of dressing, all a matter of taste; but always add less than you think you need, you can always add more. You MUST taste your food as you are cooking, it helps you learn what you like and in what amounts and combinations you like it.

Now, my husband has got me eating cole slaw ON my pulled pork sandwiches instead of on the side and I think it is delicious! You may top your sandwich with pickle chips or cheese or both, or maybe add lettuce and tomato and thinly sliced onion.

The kids had pork sandwiches with cheese, all the sides and decided they wanted to eat some pickled okra too. We washed it all down with some ice cold lemonade!

Stay cool friends!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weird Wednesday: Pork with Apples

Some people have not embraced cooking meats with fruit, so I have another awesome slow cooker recipe for you! Cut a good sized onion into quarters and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Take an apple and cut it into quarters as well. Place a center cut pork roast and flip it fat side up and place it on top if the apples and onions. Season it all over with your favorite spice rub. I have a great BBQ style rub, but I am bound by law, blood oath and family commitment not to reveal the ingredients of it. You could make your own basic rub with the following:

Easy BBQ Rub
1/4 C paprika (or chili powder)
2 TB salt (or onion salt)
2 TB ground black pepper
2 TB crushed dried rosemary
1 TB dry mustard

Mix all together and store in a clean dry jar.

If you like you can cut small slits into the meat and fill that with slivers of garlic, though that's optional. Pour a cup of apple juice into the slow cooker and 2 TB of apple cider vinegar (lacking that you can substitute some white vinegar). Cover and cook on high for 2 hours and switch to low for 2-3 more hours or cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve this with crunchy coleslaw or creamy potato salad, or my favorite turnip greens!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!

One of the few challenges I actually KNEW I was going to be facing in this house was the fact that only the bedrooms are air conditioned. The living areas are dependent on ocean breezes and ceiling fans to keep it cool. So obviously cooking dinner is bit of a challenge because I want to prepare food without heating up the house unduly. Today I tried two new experiments in meal preparation and I feel like I was *mostly* successful. I tried making meatloaf in the pressure cooker and I tried making "oven roasted" rosemary potatoes in the microwave.

For the meatloaf recipe I read a lot of "pressure cooker meatloaf" recipes and sort of distilled their wisdom down into my own take on it. I made a meat loaf recipe, adding to 1 pound of ground beef 1/2 C of slow cook oatmeal moistened with several tablespoons of milk (keeps things moist), I added salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 of a large onion finely diced, about 1/2 TB of dried Italian seasonings, 2 eggs lightly beaten, and some worcestershire sauce. I mixed this all up and placed it into a plastic container somewhat smaller in circumference than my pressure cooker and then I placed it all into the freezer uncovered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile I helped my 3rd grader with her math homework and prepped the potatoes by scrubbing them clean and cutting them into approximately 1" cubes. When the timer went off I popped the now firmed up meatloaf into my pressure cooker and set it on the "browning" level and crisped the bottom of the meatloaf. While it was browning I brushed the top of the meat loaf with a mixture of ketchup and worcestershire sauce. I added a 1/2 C or so of water to the bottom of the cooker, topped it with the lid and set it to high pressure for 15 minutes. Well, after a few minutes it clicked off and I realized I had not added enough water. I let the pan come back down to pressure naturally (the meat will keep cooking during this stage) and then I added another 1/2 C of water mixed with worcestershire sauce for seasoning, popped the lid back on and cooked it for another 6 minutes.

While waiting for the meatloaf to cook I made preparations for the microwave oven potatoes. I have to admit I don't really cook much in my microwave, I use it to reheat things of course or make water for tea or melt butter or defrost meat, but actual cooking? Not so much. I was intrigued by the idea of using it to as it does not heat up the kitchen and it actually uses a lot less energy than cooking on a stove or in an oven. I smashed a clove of garlic and placed it into a glass bowl that was about 8 inches across. I added a few teaspoons of Smart Balance spread (maybe a tablespoon) because that is what I had on hand, you can use butter or olive oil I am sure. Then I added some salt and microwaved it for about 45 seconds, next I tossed in and mixed up the chopped potatoes (about 3-4 medium sized potatoes) and crushed some dried rosemary and tossed that in as well. Then I covered the potatoes with a microwave safe splatter guard and let them cook on high for 15 minutes. Now microwave times and powers will vary, so keep a CLOSE eye on your food when you try this, but it was totally worth the little extra worry, the potatoes come out great. You could smell the rosemary and they spuds had very good texture, a few of them even got a little brown around the edges! I quickly used the microwave to steam some cut up broccoli (official vegetable of the Dinner 365 Family) and we were ready to eat. (The kids also had a side of applesauce, "Because Mom if you have a dinner plate with 4 sections all 4 sections need some food in them!")

Anyhow, I made dinner; I stayed cool and comfortable and everything was ready very quickly, so a total WIN for us tonight.

Monday, August 22, 2011


It was a hectic, emotional day. First day of school for my 3rd grader and her baby sister, a PreK 3 year old. We are at a new house, a new school, they need to make new friends, get used to a new routine, and frankly the enormity of what I am asking them to do and do cheerfully hit me today.

My PreK kid went straight into her classroom, ready to play and ready to greet the day. Her older sister was explaining things to her in a calm soothing voice like you might use with a skittish animal, but the baby seemed content and happy to play with the toy shopping cart and baby dolls in the "dramatic play center". Finally it was time to take my 3rd grader to her classroom so we hugged baby sister good bye and let ourselves out. She never even looked back at us.

Walking in silence towards the 3rd grade class room I looked at my 8 year old, remembering the tears and frantic grabbing after me when she was the little one being left at daycare for the first time. Now she has a sassy little bob of hair and her feet are nearly as big as mine. I could tell by the guarded look on her face she was nervous so I started chatting about the girls she had met at "Meet the Teacher" day, subtly reminding her of their names. We realized that the 3rd graders were supposed to meet in the cafeteria, so we headed down the hallway with me still blithely blabbering and she, my little chatterbox, giving me one word answers.

I left her in the cafeteria with her class and seated between the two girls she knew and hoped for the best. She looked at me a little tremulously as I waved good-bye. In her eyes I could see the little toddler who begged me not to leave her 6 years ago. It hurt.

I went home and cleaned furiously, unpacked, broke down boxes with insane energy. I washed dishes, I organized shelves, I swept the floor, I vacuumed the rug, I wiped down counters and put away toys. I had set the timer for 2 1/2 hours to make sure I was on time to get the baby and I was out the door like a shot when it rang out. I grabbed my camera on impulse as I dashed out so i could maybe get a few cute shots of baby at closing circle time or hugging a new friend goodbye. I parked my car in the driveway a few minutes later and started toward the classroom. I was just climbing the steps to her portable I heard the sound that makes your hair stand up, a wailing bloodcurdling YELL from my preschooler. I peeked in the window and while the teacher was valiantly trying to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider with the other kids, over the deafening roar. My baby was in the back with the assistant SCREAMING HER HEAD OFF and what she was screaming was plaintive, powerful and persistent, "I WANT MY MOMMY!" The assistant caught my eye in the window and motioned me in frantically. I walked in and baby launched herself into my arms sobbing and hiccuping and she said to me, "I never want to go to school AGAIN!" The assistant told me she had been fine till some boys started crying for their Moms and it seemed to spread from there. I noticed two small boys were also sniffling and teary but neither of them had the insane window rattling fury of my bellicose beauty. I grabbed her bag and scooped her up and mouthed, "I'm sorry!" at the lead teacher as we hustled out the door.

Later, over some mac and cheese we discussed the day, she said, "School is terrible Mama!" When pressed she admitted she had fun at playground and centers and playing with other kids, but she suggested next time I just come with her. She also shook her head sadly and said, "I never even got to see Sister."

Yup. I forgot to tell her that 3rd grade and PreK aren't in the same class, heck they are not even in the same building. She was devastated. This made my misapprehension for my 8 year old even bigger. I set the timer again to leave and to go to my older child at a moment's notice. I kept my cell phone on my hip in case of a frantic phone call from her teacher or principal or possibly the police. My sunny gregarious toddler had crashed and burned in class, surely my sensitive artist/poet/singer/dancer would come home permanently curled in the fetal position and suffering dehydration from the copious crying.

The baby and I entered the cafeteria 3 hours later with great trepidation, me looking for a sad eyed brunette and she looking for roving preschool teachers who might come and separate us. When I finally saw my little tween she beckoned me over with an assertive "come here" gesture so I hustled to her, prepared to whisk her to the car before the inevitable tears could start. Before I could say a word she told me brusquely, "Come on! I have a lot of homework to do and SO DO YOU!" As we trotted off she was waving at new friends and yelling goodbye to her teacher and telling me in rapid fire detail about her day before announcing as she buckled herself into the car, "Today was the best day EVER!"

For dinner we had bacon, star fruit off our tree and scrambled eggs. They match my brain at this point.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What I did Today: Museum Edition

I walked all over Key West today hauling kids who were alternately happy and murderous... walk with me will you?

Our first stop, the fully air conditioned and utterly delightful Florida Keys Eco Discovery Center which since it is located in a sort of janky end of town made me worried it would also be janky. But it was very well done and a great example of as our guide said, "our tax dollars at work" should you be in Key West I'd recommend it!

Then we walked to the awesome and inspiring Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum, where I learned the fascinating fact that the lighthouse was tended three times in it's history by female lighthouse keepers, all of whom inherited the job from their husbands. The lighthouse is located directly across from the Hemingway House, which I found out later was built and lived in by the Tift family, who made their fortune in ship wreck salvage.

Then we decided to get some lunch at a delightful little bistro called Six Toed Cat, after the famous polydactyl cats that inhabit the Hemingway garden. I had a turkey bacon panini to share with the baby, my oldest had a garden salad, Lee got a burger and we all shared the shoe string french fries which were hot, crispy and had just the right amount of salt. There was fresh squeezed limeade on the menu (delicious!!) so I got a glass of that, but then hit the ice water pretty hard because it was HOT out there today and we had been sweating buckets. The kids were sucking down waters as well. The tables are shaped like 6-toed paws and it was inside in the a/c so very pleasant.

Then we marched down to The Key West Shipwreck Museum and climbed the 65 foot tall tower overlooking Key West and the reef and my oldest got to hold a 65 pound bar of Spanish silver that was lost at sea hundreds of years ago before being recovered in the late 80's.

Then we were off to The Museum of Art and History at the Custom House and saw some really cool interactive pieces of sculpture where an artist had created life sized 3-D renderings of some famous paintings and you were encouraged to climb into them and interact with them and even take pictures of yourself posing in them. Meanwhile cameras are trained on you and the images are displayed on video screens that are placed in picture frames along the staircase. Pretty neat! The 2nd floor was devoted to Keys history with a neat exhibit about Flagler's trains down to here. I didn't realize that the project cost 700 lives, millions of dollars, opened in 1935 and then was blown away in the Labor Day hurricane of 1935! Some of our existing car bridges are built on the very bones of Flagler's lost dream.

The kids were pretty hot and tired at this point so we made a quick stop at Mattheessen's Ice Cream for a little pick me up. I had strawberry, the kids got something called "Papa Smurf" which was blue and had tiny marshmallows in it. I am not sure they got the implications of EATING PAPA SMURF and that it puts them squarely into Gargamel territory, but it was like 112 degrees out there and I guess he was a smurfing good way to bring down their core temperatures.

And then our last stop of the day was Truman's Little White House and it was so freaking cool. The house is done with original furnishings from Truman's days there, if you have Florida relatives of a certain age you will KNOW what type of furnishings they had. Rattan furniture in tropical print fabric, geometric pottery style ash trays, mahogany wet bar, jalousie windows, the whole business. It was everyone's Miami grandma's condo from 1954 in there, I loved it! The one drawback was keeping a very tired toddler from trying to climb into Bess Truman's bed to take a nap. The BEST PART was the tour guide talking about all the bills and laws that Truman signed at his small living room desk there, and she said, "He was working in health care back then. He was trying to create Medicare and it was very unpopular, people were calling him a socialist and all kinds of things, he left office with a 22% approval rating, worse than Nixon! And yet I know that is a program that a lot of us here depend on TO THIS DAY!" I wanted to go up and hug that woman, I really did. Apparently when Johnson signed Medicare into law he signed it at the Truman library to honor the work Truman had done.

Then we went home. I meant to make a key lime pie for dessert but all I had energy for was to get the kids to pick the limes off our tree and then make them some scrambled eggs for dinner. Key Lime Pie with recipe TOMORROW!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dinner is ready! I

I know, it's only 9:30 a.m. EST. But see I've been up since the wee hours of the morning being systematically tortured by thoughts of faulty wiring causing our house to burn to the ground and by the incessant kicking, headbutting and general bed- hogginess of our otherwise adorable 3 year old. Seriously, how can someone only 3 feet tall take up 90% of the space in a king-sized bed? Also my friend Mark brings up a great point with his theory that children actually grow extra arms and legs in the night because they flail around like beached octopi. But I was talking about dinner wasn't I? Yes, since I have literally been up since the crack of dawn it gave me a chance to start a crockpot meal.

Taco Crockpot Chicken

To the crockpot add 1 16 oz package of frozen corn
Over that place 1 can of rinsed and drained black beans
On top of that add boneless chicken(3 breasts, 4-5 thighs, tenders what have you)
Over that pour 1 16 oz container of salsa

Put the lid on and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. You can shred the chicken with two forks and serve it as taco filling, or you can add a can or two of chicken broth and make a tasty soup.

This recipe has been making the rounds on a parenting website I frequent and I have no idea who to credit for it, but my friend Lisa passed it on to me.

What makes this recipe a winner to me is 1) the chicken can be added frozen and 2)slow cooker recipes are perfect because they do not heat up the house and they are not labor intensive at all. Enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

You know, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you move into a house that was apparently built on an Indian burial ground or something. Yes, the new house has been a bit of a challenge (rats, snakes, broken refrigerators) and now some wonky electrical issues. My breakers keep flipping. I don't have anything plugged in aside from the usual kitchen appliances and also sometimes when I plug things in I hear a little sizzle-pop sound and see some sparks.

This is a wooden house and I feel like just maybe it will catch fire. Normally I would not indulge in such catastrophic thinking, but my track record with this house has not been good. I am going to call the landlord tomorrow.

Anyhow, I DID make dinner tonight, simple Spaghetti and Meatballs. I know today was technically Meatless Monday, but you could make this a meatless meal just by omitting the meatballs or by adding any good vegetarian meatballs or even adding something like a can of rinsed cannelini beans for a bit of protein and heartiness.

My basic method is to start my lightly salted water to boil in a stock pot with a lid on it. Then I sautee my vegetables in a bit of olive oil in a sauce pan, tonight I used minced garlic, diced onion and diced green pepper, adding the garlic last to make sure it doesn't scorch or burn. Other nights I might wilt some spinach or sautee some mushrooms as well, basically use anything you like, sometimes I even add some grated carrot if I think the kids need another serving of veggies. Once your veggies have softened a bit I add 1 small can of diced tomatoes and 1 small can of tomato sauce, plus some Italian seasoning. I let all of this simmer until the pasta is ready. If using meatballs you can let them simmer in the sauce until cooked, or cook them in a seperate pan and then add to the sauce at the end. I was using frozen meatballs today so I let them simmer in the sauce for 25 minutes. Our pasta tonight was whole wheat thin spaghetti. Dessert was no sugar added applesauce with an optional sprinkling of cinnamon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Everything Will Kill You

So I grew up in the South making sun tea, we even had the special little glass jar with a spigot on the bottom just for making it. It was painted with little flowers and was super cheerful. Sun tea is so easy too, just add water, tea bags and let it sit in a sunny spot for a few hours. Then add sugar, lemon, or mint and you were done.

Now apparently, sun tea CAN KILL YOU!!! By not boiling the water you are allowing an environment where bacteria can grow and (it is implied) eat your face off, scare your dog and ruin your credit rating.

I live in a house without air conditioning, and boiling anything on my stove top add a certain humid heat that is unpleasant. I made some deviled eggs for the girls the other day and standing anywhere near the stove was what I imagine a wrinkled shirt feels like under the iron. I could make it in the microwave but I always forget it and then hours later I open the door to defrost something and BOOM there's a glass measuring cup full of cold tea staring at me.

What is a southern girl to do? Make some refrigerator tea, of course! Just add water and tea bags to a pitcher the night before and leave it in the fridge for 12 hours. The next day you will have fresh iced tea. To add sweetness to already cold tea, I simply make a cup or two of simple syrup and use it to sweeten individual glasses. Simple syrup is just 2 parts sugar to one part water, for instance if I boil up 2 cups of water, then I add in 4 C of sugar, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved I remove the water from the heat, let it sit and cool and thicken, then pour it into a clean mason jar and refrigerate it till I need it.

So there ya go. Of course you really need a refrigerator for this recipe and I won't have one until this weekend, but have a nice cold one for me!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

...and now the refrigerator broke!

Last night I made steak and chicken fajitas, watched my family eat peacefully at the dining room table. We were all watching the lizards running across the dining room windows eating bugs and I thought, "Yes, things are going to be alright here."

Today? Not so much. The refrigerator has not been acting right since we moved in, I called the repairman and he came out and said, basically, the whole fridge is shot to hell. Go get a new one. Well my landlord lives in another state from me, so coordinating a new fridge has fallen on my shoulders a bit. Then there are the vagaries of delivery when one lives on a small island. Saturday was my earliest delivery date. SATURDAY. Till then I am to what? Cool the milk in a sink filled with ice?

I remember there being a chest freezer in one of the backyard tool sheds. I haul it out, clean it up and plug it in to keep my freezer stuff, uh, frozen. Meanwhile I start a new load of laundry (one of the kids had an accident last night) so I am up to my ears in sheets and blankets. I come back half an hour later ready to put the clothes in the dryer and, lo, the washer is full of hot dirty water. What. the. hell????? I trudge to our outdoor breaker box, now conveniently located in ankle high weeds because the landlord's landscaping company did NOT come out and mow the yard. I saw a snake out there yesterday. A SNAKE. So I go to the breaker box and a fuse has blow. I flip the switch and go over and turn the washer back on.

Meanwhile I am trying to load all of my refrigerator stuff into some coolers with the last of the ice from the freezer. I decide after I get that packed up that I will go out and dry my laundry. HAHAHAHA! The washer has turned off again. Go back to the breaker box, flip the switch, go back and restart the clothes. Make more phone calls related to the refrigerator crisis. Wait for the exterminator to come and bring me a key to the landlord's cottage so I can load my fridge stuff into her tiny fridge. Try and unpack. Debate the wisdom of unpacking into a house already beset by rats, carpenter ants, a lousy fridge and now bad wiring. Cry a little. Hear tremendous thump where Preschool Child has flipped off of my raised bed and landed face first onto the floor. Her sister runs by sobbing, "I didn't push her!" The preschooler has a scrape on her head. Take to my bed with the baby and calm her down. Decide that I am definitely going out to dinner tonight and I may well have a drink or two with it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dinner in the New House

Okay, despite the unpacking ordeal and the rat thing, I sucked it up and sanitized the dishes and made dinner for the last two nights. Night one involved everybody's favorite grocery store rotisserie chicken and some heat and eat side dishes, night two was hotdogs, mac and cheese and steamed broccoli spears. So yeah, no great culinary masterpieces, but we ate all together at the dining room table as a family. We couldn't find the table cloths so we put a giant sized beach towel over the table. I had the baby put the forks and paper towels by each plate that the 8 year old laid out, we all drank out of plastic cups gleaned from various casual dining restaurants and chatted; about the rat, about the kids new school, about my husband's new job, my hopes for putting in a late summer garden.

I know I haven't been too enthusiastic about this move but really the house (rat aside) is pretty awesome. It is an old style "conch cottage" and the woman who owns it is a horticulturalist, so it is all set up with raised garden beds, a compost tumbler and several mature fruit trees. I have carambolas (star fruit), key lime (of course!), and a freaking grove of banana trees. The banana trees are watered with the water that drains from the bathtubs! The washing machine waters another grove of banana trees. There is also an all-spice tree that grows tiny allspice berries. The leaves when crushed smell delightfully like pumpkin pie or egg nog or any number of spicy holiday treats. My landlord said she packs up her Christmas ornaments with fresh leaves so that when she opens them the following year they smell wonderful.

Going to finish putting the kitchen together tomorrow, I have been washing the cabinets out with ammonia and water and sanitizing dishes and trying to figure out where to put every thing. Also listening for the sudden snap of a rat trap, so you know... busy.

How was your week?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Until I get back on my feet blog wise...

here are some super cool links for yummy lunches and snacks. I know with school starting back soon we are all thinking about these things. Today my kids ate Vienna sausages, cheese sticks and pickled okra for lunch (this was their choice). Man, moving-in meals cannot be over soon enough. We have been eating a lot of cold cereal and PB and J over here too.

Here is a yummy sounding vegan snack bar from Martha Stewart.
Here is a BUNCH of cool sounding sandwiches from Family Fun magazine.
Here are some cool healthy lunch ideas from Kaboose.
And finally, some seriously funny banana magic from The Bloggess!

That's all from me today, I have to go unpack 47 thousand more boxes now, but please keep in touch!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Where the heck have I been?

Moved out of old house, discovered small snake living in a hole in the rotted door jamb of old house, scare snake away, fill hole with expanding crack filler.

Move stuff in various bins, boxes and bags to new house, discover large black snake living in the laundry room (outdoor separate building) watch snake slither from laundry room to under the house. Freak OUT. Keep moving in, making sure to keep door more firmly closed. Go on vacation for a week, eat like a horse (amazing southern home cooking food) and return home rested, relaxed and ready to put the kitchen together and get cooking when I realized... SOMETHING has chewed through a bag of coffee and a bag of chocolate chips. I have a mouse. Maybe a rat. In my kitchen. Eating things. Walking on my counters.

I want to know what the HELL the snake has been doing that it let a rodent into my house?!

Also, should I get a cat?

The exterminator gets here at 2.