Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Steps We've Taken To A Healthier Diet

I made a new friend at the retreat I attended last weekend. It didn't take long to realize that we share similar views in health and nutrition. I have yet to meet many  "in real life" like-minded friends as far as nutrition goes, so this was a rare treat for me!

In one of our hurried and quick conversations in between sessions and after meals, she asked me what baby steps I've implemented so far. I thought this would make a great blog post since I haven't covered this type of list in a while.

First off, I need to clarify what I consider to be a healthy diet.  For us, this means Real Food. Real Food that is as close to the way God made it as possible. I'm baby-stepping my way into a more traditional way of cooking which tends to coincide a lot with The Weston A. Price Foundation's way of eating as well as the book Nourishing Traditions. Lots of good fats, pastured meats, full-fat dairy(preferably raw), pastured eggs, soaked grains and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies are what I aim for in our diet.

While I continue to make strides towards good nutrition, I have in no way arrived. And sometimes, I slide backwards as the bag of white sugar in my kitchen cabinet is shouting right now! Baby steps, baby steps!

So far, the changes we've made towards a healthier diet are:

1) Organic peanut butter with only peanuts and salt. Peanuts are highly sprayed so I like to buy organic.Costco is a good source for this.

2) Using olive oil and coconut oil instead of canola oil.

3) Switching to real butter instead of margarine. This was so difficult for me at first because of the price! Now I don't even think twice about it.

4) Buying local grass-fed beef.

5) Sucanat  and raw honey instead of refined sugar. I still go back and forth a little on this because of cost and availability. Also, some baked goods, such as sugar cookies and frostings just aren't the same with sucanat!

6) Buying the best chicken I can find. Earth Fare and Costco both carry some organic and better varieties than the traditional grocery store chicken. I hope to find a local source for pastured chickens and make a bulk purchase as I have been able to do with the beef.

7) Maple syrup instead of the fake HFCS variety from the store. Again, the cost made me gulp, but I've found ways to make it stretch and there is no comparison with the taste! I've been buying a non-organic jug at Costco but since have discovered an online source for organic syrup direct from a farmer for only a few dollars more, which I would like to try.

8) Purchased a Nutrimill and began grinding fresh flour for all of my bread and baked goods. Yum!

9) I've gotten my feet wet in the world of soaking grains. I routinely make soaked whole wheat bread and have also begun soaking my muffins and pancakes. Soaking grains and legumes such as brown rice and oats before cooking is really easy and I've begun doing this pretty consistently. Planning ahead is key to being successful in this area!

10) I make my own yogurt. My husband thought I was nuts when I first started to talk about trying this. Really, who makes their own yogurt? I started off using a small yogurt maker from the thrift store. Since then, I've switched to using my crockpot. Homemade yogurt is so easy to make and contains wonderful probiotics. We've gotten used to the plain yogurt so now when we eat the little tubs of store-bought yogurt (that we used to love so much!), they don't taste good at all to us. Instead, they taste very artificial. We really like the homemade plain variety much better! I eat mine plain or with some frozen berries and my husband still likes his with a drizzle of honey and some fruit. He isn't as fond of the tartness as I am! If I buy yogurt, we like the Stonyfield Farms really well, especially the French Vanilla flavor. Yummy!

11) We've pretty much eliminated High Fructose Corn Syrup from our diets. I say "pretty much" because it does seem to creep in occasionally. The main culprit for this has been ketchup, barbecue sauce and salad dressings. I've been buying organic ketchup which is HFCS-free which works well. We are not big ketchup eaters; the main thing we use ketchup for is to make homemade barbecue sauce. And that takes a lot of ketchup! Last week I purchased a bottle of Earth Fare organic barbecue sauce which was really good. Unless I can find a much better deal on ketchup, I might be better off just buying good barbecue sauce and then keeping a bottle of ketchup around for the occasional hamburger or hot dog.

As far as salad dressing goes, I've had a difficult time coming up with a homemade version that we both are fond of. I've tried quite a few recipes and most were ok, but not good enough to cause my husband to ditch his beloved creamy blue cheese dressing with all the bad ingredients! He makes a simple honey mustard dressing that's quite good and I tried a lemon-garlic oil dressing last week that we both seemed to enjoy so that's a possibility!

12) I make my own bone broths with either chicken bones/skins or beef bones. Even though I began making my own broth out of frugality, I now realize how healthy it is! I use my crockpot for this, too.

13) I buy organic produce whenever possible. Costco carries some organics at very good prices so I often get my organic salad greens and carrots there.

That's all I can think of right now. :-)

A couple other baby steps I'd like to pursue are:
- Good quality local, pastured eggs. I haven't been able to find a consistent source for eggs. When I can get them, I do and otherwise have been using regular grocery store eggs. I know, gasp!
- Local, pastured chicken.
-Sprouting grains to make my own sprouted flours.
-Organic butter.
-Choosing only raw milk. I have a good source for it but often forget to call ahead and order.

So that's where I am at right now with nutrition.

What about you? What baby steps have you made towards better health? What is your biggest obstacle in choosing better foods for your family? Please share!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Retreat Reflections

 Waterfall on the property.

I was privileged to be able to again attend a women's retreat in the mountains of North Carolina a couple of weekends ago. This particular ministry offers retreats at no charge, including lodging and three wonderful home-cooked meals a day. Each attendee provides their own towels and bedding, paper products and a dessert. In addition, this year each group was asked to bring a case of some kind of food- our group provided a case of apples. A love offering is also taken at some point during the retreat and donations are accepted year-round, since it is a faith-based ministry.

It is such a blessing that anyone can attend regardless of their financial situations. Those who are able to pay make it possible for those who cannot. How awesome is this!
 One of the lodges.

At last year's retreat, I was very overwhelmed with all that was going on to the point that I really could not focus on the Lord. Going into this year, my prayer was that I could simply focus on the Lord and hear His voice throughout the weekend. My simple heartfelt prayer was answered!

At this year's retreat, several of the ladies in charge shared their stories of how they came to be at Living Waters. The common thread running through each of their stories was faith. These are ladies who have lived their lives by faith depending on God and God has honored that!  Their stories greatly inspired me to continue to allow God to grow my faith through various life circumstances.
The barn where all the sessions were held.

A verse that was quoted at nearly every session and then was handed out to all of us printed on a pink sheet of paper was Song of Solomon 4:7: "You are all fair and lovely, and there is no blemish in thee." My NIV Bible says it a bit different: "All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you." No flaw, beautiful, fair and lovely- that is what God sees in me! I love that!

The main theme of the weekend for me was "Prevailing in Prayer".  I received a lot of insight on prayer and what it means to prevail in prayer and pray effectively. Not all of this was from the main sessions but also through special prayer times and the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Since returning home, I've begun to put these techniques into practice while developing my own prayer life. I am still learning, of course, but even just in the past week, my prayer times have become very sweet times with God.

The main speaker for the weekend talked a lot about "knowing your enemy."

Ephesians 6: 12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." 

She stated that too many times we give our enemies the wrong names such as John, Jim, Mary or Sue rather than recognizing that Satan is our enemy not people. When you improperly diagnose your enemy; you will always lose the battle. But victory comes when we prevail in prayer against the right enemy. Flesh is not our enemy unless it's your own flesh. God did not create us to wrestle and struggle against flesh and blood since people are not our real enemies. Satan is the real enemy and who we are really in battle against, not our spouse, coworker or friend or family member.

Some other  quotes that stood out:

"Talk to the Lord. Ask Him what's going on with people, your husband, yourself."

"It's time to cry out {to Jesus} in authority and power not in desperation or whining. It's time to take your position. It's time to run him {the devil} out of your life. It's time  to run him out of your family. It's time to run him out of your home."

"Life with Jesus is walking in righteousness, peace and joy."

The praise and worship music was very good this year. I really enjoyed it! I wasn't familiar with all of the songs but many of the lyrics were so powerful so I wrote snippets down so I wouldn't forget. Here are two that I didn't want to forget. I think they might have been from the same song!

" See the way He holds the stars in His hands,
  See the way He holds my heart.
  God is a lover looking for a lover so He fashioned me."

"You call me worthy; You see beauty. You see who I'll be."
 Rachel's House- a newer lodge.  Inside is a lovely and rustic log cabin style. So nice to to sit and relax in the sitting area around the fireplace!

A highlight of the weekend was making a new friend who also grinds her own wheat and is very interested in health and nutrition. Some of the ladies from my group heard us talking about some home remedies and remarked that we were "speaking the same language." :-) I really don't know many people in real life with similar interests in nutrition so it was a real treat to get to know Charleen. We were able to share our resources for some hard-to-find ingredients. She shared where she gets her sucanat at a good price and I'm excited to try ordering from there.

What I love the very most about retreats (this year and other years) is spending a whole weekend with a group of wonderful ladies from my church. Our group numbered 13 this year! I am blessed to be a part of a group of such sweet Godly ladies who truly follow the Lord. And they're really fun to be with, too! We all stayed together in a house just down the road from the main property.  It is so rare that we get to hang out together. Sharing our dreams, struggles and experiences is really encouraging and knits us together as the body of Christ.

 We could hear the falls from our bedroom windows.
The weekend was wonderful, draining, tiring and refreshing all at the same time! I am so grateful that I was able to attend!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

B- homemade yogurt, toast, apple slices
L- green salad with chicken and cheese
S- soaked pancakes, beef sausage, scrambled eggs, applesauce

B- pancakes, applesauce
L- pinto beans with cheese, sour cream, and salsa
S- New crockpot recipe- "One-Pot Easy Chicken" (chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots and spices), steamed green beans

B- beef sausage, toast
L- leftovers
S- Homemade "Hamburger Helper" skillet dish, corn

B- cornmeal mush, cheese
L- leftovers
S- lentil soup, corn muffins

B- cinnamon rolls from a can (not our usual fare but they were FREE with a  coupon!), fruit
L- leftovers
S- Israeli Spice Chicken, pita bread, marinated tomatoes, tabouli (trying it with cracked wheat that I have on hand)

B- leftover cornmeal mush, cheese, fruit
L- ham and cheese bread**, carrot and celery sticks
S- Breakfast for dinner- TBD

For more menu planning ideas, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Homekeeper's Journal

What's happening in my home? 

I'm finally starting to get back on track after being gone at a retreat last weekend.  I think I'm finally starting to get caught up on sleep too!

In My Kitchen ….Easy stuff this week. Crockpot pinto beans yesterday. Crockpot BBQ ribs today. Trying to use up all the odds and ends in the fridge.
With my Family … good!
What I’m Reading …Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader, Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn, Fix It And Forget It Lightly(crockpot cookbook).
An area where I wish I was stronger …My prayer life- a work in progress.
What I’ve Been Noticing …The Holy Spirit's voice and presence daily.
A character from literature that I would bring to life if I could... Hmmm...can't think of any right off. Also having a hard time recalling any actual literature. LOL!!!
On The Back Burner of My Mind ….Keeping up with our busy spring!
In The Deepest Darkest Recesses …. Lots of thoughts and stuff sloshing around as I process everything I took in at the retreat. Maybe I'll share some of it with you; I'll have to see.

**Thanks to Sylvia from Christian Homekeeper for hosting Homekeeper's Journal!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm back from an awesome weekend taking in a women's retreat! What an sweet and wonderful time with God and other Godly ladies. God showed me many things throughout the weekend which was really cool. I'd forgotten how totally exhausting these weekends can be; I've been dragging around today like I have a hangover. :-)

This looks like another busy week! I'm trying to keep the menu pretty simple for the most part. I didn't get to the ribs and mashed potatoes meal before I left for the weekend last week, so that meal is making another appearance this week!

**indicates already prepared freezer meals. 

To do: make menu plan for week; soak pinto beans
B- homemade plain yogurt with bran cereal topping; apple slices
L- My husband surprised me by taking me out!
S- broiled pizza bread ( spaghetti sauce, ground beef and white cheddar cheese spread on bread and broiled); spinach salad

To do: soak millet
B- eggs, toast, sauteed peppers and onions
L- lunch meat sandwiches, sliced veggies and oranges
S- pinto beans (crockpot), brown rice, shredded white cheddar cheese, tomatoes

B-millet porridge cooked with chopped apples
S- BBQ ribs(crockpot), mashed potatoes, green beans

B- leftover millet porridge
S- spaghetti, steamed veggies and /or salad

B-cornmeal mush with cheese, apple slices
S- lentil soup, corn muffins

B-leftover cornmeal mush with cheese, apple slices
L-sandwiches, fruit and veggies
S- pizza pockets**, salad

For more menu planning inspiration, please visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Will Return...

I'll be taking a break from blogging the rest of the week since I'm headed to the mountains for a women's retreat with a group of ladies from my church. 

I'm looking forward to being refreshed by time away and seeing how God will work in and through me this weekend.

See y'all back here on Monday!

Have a great weekend!

The Little Green Project: Seedlings Update

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Laura at Heavenly Homemakers is hosting The Little Green Project today where we can share anything that has to do with green. Going green, saving green, making more green, eating greens, anything green!

Since my little garden sprouts are green, I thought I'd share a little update on my seeds

To date we have:
-10 tomato sprouts
- 8 zinnia sprouts
- 3 red pepper sprouts
Some of my little sprouts. This is the top of my dryer so please overlook any fuzz. We like to celebrate our Lint.

Green peppers haven't sprouted yet and not all of the tomatoes or red peppers. I'm going to plant another  round of zinnias since I'd like lots of those. They're so pretty when blooming!

How is your garden growing?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This will be a short cooking week for me since I'm heading out for a women's retreat with the ladies from my church later this week. Looking forward to it!

In preparation for  leaving, I'll be spending a few hours in the kitchen tomorrow making some pizzas, baking bread and cookies and preparing a few foods such as yogurt and hard-boiled eggs that will be ready for Andy to eat while I'm gone. I need to bake bread anyways since we've eaten all but the last loaf of bread from my baking day 2 weeks ago.

I did have a moment of panic this morning when I took the last loaf out of the freezer. "Have we, a family of 2 people, really consumed 5 loaves of bread in 2 weeks time?" That's  a lot of bread! Then I remembered that I'd given two loaves away so I'm breathing easier. Whew! Just starting the 3rd loaf at the 2 week mark isn't so bad-one loaf a week.

To add a twist to my meal planning, Andy and I both decided to actively pursue some weight loss by using SparkPeople. We both signed up and have been at it for almost a week now. Even though our caloric needs and  pounds to shed are different, it's fun to work together towards the same goal. We motivate each other! I can't seem to get him to run with me, though. :-)

SparkPeople does have some yummy sounding recipes that I'd like to try but because this is a rather busy week, I'm sticking to the simple stuff. Maybe next week, I'll add a couple new recipes or meal ideas. 

This week's menu:

oatmeal (2x)
eggs and toast, sauteed green peppers, mushrooms and onions (2x)
banana muffins


Monday: White chicken chili with shredded cheese, salad, bread
Tuesday: Chicken stir-fry with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower blend, brown rice
Wednesday: BBQ pork ribs(crockpot), mashed potatoes, salad
Thursday through Sunday:  I'm out of town; husband's on his own. :-)

For more menu-planning inspiration, check out Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Out And About

While you're roaming around in the blogosphere this weekend, enjoy these worth-while reads and fun ideas!

Just in time for spring cleaning, this is a great list of homemade cleaners @ Christian Homekeeper Network.

These flowers are so cute @ Bird Crafts.

Stephanie shares how to make fabulous soup from scratch @ Keeper Of The Home. I use many of the same techniques for making soup without a recipe. I'm looking forward to getting out of my current "boring soup rut" by trying a few of her ideas!

This post puts into perspective how truly blessed I am @ The Finer Things In Life.

**Oh and don't forget the time change! Daylight Savings Time again! Turn those clocks ahead tonight so you're not an hour late for church tomorrow morning!**

Friday, March 12, 2010

Making Your Home A Haven: Something Special

When I first read that the assignment for this week was to plan something special for someone, I immediately tried to think of someone to bless and what to do.

You know, so I could put it on my schedule.

My husband suggested that I not plan anything quite yet but to wait and see how the week unfolded. "You'll probably see that an opportunity will arise for you, " he said.

He was right!

His mom, my sweet mother-in-law, was able to come for a visit yesterday. When she called on Tuesday and asked if she could come by, I knew that this was the "something special".

I will start off by saying that I have a wonderful mother-in-law. She is nice, helpful, fun, kind...not at all like the stories you hear about mother-in-laws. I enjoy spending time with her  and she and my father-in-law have accepted me as one of their own.

My husband also has very nice in-laws, by the way. We are both very blessed to have such wonderful parents!

Anyways, it was very special that she was able to come for a visit. She takes care of her 92 year old aunt who has Alzheimers and her parents who are also near 90 are living with them right now. She is not often able to travel or get out because of this. My father-in-law works for Kohl's and travels weekly for his job and she was able to travel with him this week.And it just so happened that he was headed in our direction!

She takes such good care of everyone else so I wanted her to have a relaxing time while here. To enjoy not having to take anyone's blood pressure, cook and clean up for each meal, drive everyone to doctor and hair appointments or explain why she cannot have her checkbook!

She didn't have any specific stores she wanted to go to when I asked her so she rode along with me while I got a few groceries and ran some errands. She thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different grocery stores here since she normally only gets to Wal-mart and then has to hurry so she's not gone long! We looked at everything at Earth Fare and sampled cheese and fresh fruit, looked around at Super Bi-Lo and finished up at Aldi. She was so tickled to find discounted hair color in the right shade for one of the ladies on the clearance rack at Bi-Lo!

When we got home, I made French bread pizzas and a salad for lunch. Then we watched a Christian comedian on DVD that we knew she'd get a kick out of. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the day spent with her. Even though I really didn't plan anything extra special or out of the ordinary but just enjoyed being with her. I was so happy to be able to serve her and hope that she was blessed.

Next week's theme is an easy one: Pick a drawer and clean it out! That should be simple enough!

**Thanks to Monica for hosting Making Your Home A Haven each Friday!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Measurement Conversion Chart

I received a handy little "measure magnet' in the mail recently. The company I got it from is a scam and I will not sign up for their cooking club but I immediately saw that this little chart could come in handy.

And it has. It is so helpful to have these measurement conversions right at my fingertips.

The list may be very helpful to you too, so I'm sharing it here.

Cup         Fluid Oz.         TBSP          TSP       Milliliter
1 c.          8 oz.                 16 Tbsp       48 tsp     237 ml
3/4 c.       6 oz.                 12 Tbsp       36 tsp     177 ml
2/3 c.       5 oz.                 11 Tbsp       32 tsp     158 ml    
1/2 c.       4 oz.                   8 Tbsp       24 tsp     118 ml   
1/3 c.       3 oz.                   5 Tbsp       16 tsp       79 ml
1/4 c.       2 oz.                   4 Tbsp       12 tsp       59 ml
1/8 c.       1 oz.                   2  Tbsp        6 tsp       30 ml
1/16 c.    .5 oz.                   1 Tbsp         3 tsp       15 ml

Not having to do so much brain work when converting measurements is a kitchen tip that works for me!

**This post is a part of Kitchen Tip Tuesdays and Works For Me Wednesday!


My 2nd 5k

This weekend I participated in my 2nd 5k run (3.1 miles) at Berry College in Georgia. My sweet in-laws live very close by so we and my sister and brother-in-law and their kids all came for the weekend. Coming for the run was a good excuse to get to spend time together!
 Start/finish line

My sister-in-law Becky ran with me in the 5k. She and her husband are both training for a half marathon in a few weeks. It was very sweet of her to run with me since on her own she's fast enough that she would've had a good chance of winning in her age group. Her husband (my brother-in-law) also ran the 5k and came in 3rd in his age group!
Becky and I after the run.

This race seemed extremely long to me possibly because I wasn't familiar with the area but I really liked running with Becky. She was very encouraging and motivating throughout.

I know I ran a  little faster with her beside me and I came in at 36:15. That's 1:30 faster than my first run! For folks who have been running for a while or are just naturally fast, that's still very slow, but I am just grateful that I've been able to do this!
All three of us after the run.

The kids participated in a 1 mile run that took place a little later in the morning. They were so cute and did a great job! 

Our nieces and nephew after their run. 

Berry College has a beautiful campus and wonderful old buildings. It was a great place to run and hang out with family!


Monday, March 08, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We were away visiting family over the weekend. Now it's time to get back on track around here! I'll try to start by making a quick menu. 

**indicates freezer meals.

B- poached eggs, toast
L- lentil soup**, corn muffins**
S- meatballs** with sweet and sour sauce, brown rice**, sauteed green beans

B- millet porridge, apple slices
L- ham and cheese bread**, carrot and celery sticks, grapes
S- chicken noodle soup, bread and butter

B- eggs and toast
L- eat out
S- stovetop chicken and rice casserole, homemade bread**, applesauce

B-millet porridge, apple slices
L- leftovers
S- salmon patties, peas, buttered pasta

B- cornmeal mush with cheese
L- leftovers
S- homemade pizza, salad

B- cornmeal mush with cheese
L- sandwiches
S- leftover pizza, whatever else I can scrounge up :-)

**For more menu ideas, visit Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Making Your Home A Haven: Outside Chore

 This week's assignment was to choose an outside chore that has been put off and needed to be done. 

I have a lot of things that could be done outside but it's been an extremely hectic week so instead of being an over-achiever, I picked one relatively small chore: trimming a bush beside our house.

Every time I drive into the driveway, I notice this bush. It had gotten so tall and overgrown that we could hardly see the flag that's hanging over it.

It was high-time to cut it back!

This took a bit of time to complete. It was worth it, though.

We can now see the flag! Much better!

**Thanks to Monica for hosting the Making Your Home A Haven challenge!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Planting Seeds

 My makeshift potting table.
For my garden this year, I decided to give starting my own seeds a try. I settled on ordering all heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Seeds ( recommended by Stephanie) and was very pleased with their service. I ordered the seeds on Tuesday night and received them in the mail that Friday!

I wanted to go ahead and get at least the peppers and tomatoes started. Saturday was very sunny so I set up my own potting station out on the deck.

The varieties of seeds I ordered:
  • Emerald Giant green pepper
  • Lipstick red pepper
  • Atkinson tomato
  • Amish Paste tomato ( Good for canning)
  • Cucumber Delikatesse
  • Black Beauty zucchini
  • Blue Lake bush bean
  • Bright Jewels Cactus zinnia
Other than the Blue Lake beans, all the other varieties are new to me. I read the different descriptions and chose something that fit what I wanted. It will be an experiment to see what works well and whether or not we like the kinds we got!

 Seeds in pots ready to be brought inside.
For starting the seeds, I used starter pots I had saved from previous years, and various baskets and pans to set them in. When I ran out of starter pots, I made a few newspaper pots using these directions. I had some extra plastic containers like the ones that organic salad greens come in so I used one for planting zinnia seeds. I poked holes in the bottom for drainage.

Can you tell I'm trying to keep this low-budget? :-)

I planted 2 kinds each of tomato and pepper seeds and some zinnia seeds. Obviously, it's still too cold to plant much outside yet. I'll plant the bean seeds straight into the ground when it's warmer. I'll probably start the zucchini and cucumber seeds a little later or I can even wait and put them directly in the ground.

 Waiting for my seeds to sprout!
This morning, I discovered four zinnia sprouts! Yeah!

Have you started your seeds yet? What are your gardening plans for this year?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Homekeeper's Journal

Here’s What’s happening …..

In My Kitchen …. chicken broth, freezer cooking day yesterday, tried a new shrimp recipe tonight.

What I’m Reading … The first part of the book of Romans- a chapter each day. No other books yet.

What I Have Been Learning …It's better to say less than to talk more and say the wrong things. :-)

What I’ve Been Noticing ….How much more peace I have and how much more I can accomplish when my priorities are in the right order.

On The Back Burner of My Mind ….Preparing for and signing up for spring craft shows that I want to be  a part of.

In The Deepest Darkest Recesses ….Whether or not I should go to the Women's Retreat in a few weeks. I signed up a while ago and have been looking forward to it. I still would like to go but for the past few days have had a very uneasy feeling about it. Praying for wisdom!

**Thanks to Sylvia for hosting the Homekeeper's Journal!

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Oh wait. It is sliced bread!

I like to slice my fresh loaves of bread before freezing. Having the loaves ready sliced is as convenient as a store-bought loaf. In case I forget to thaw bread in advance, I can usually pry a couple of slices off in an emergency vs. trying to thaw the whole loaf in a hurry.

Slicing bread before freezing works really well for me!

**This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday.

P.S.- An electric knife is a great tool for slicing homemade bread. Love it!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Menu Plan Monday...On Tuesday!

Well, obviously I'm a little slow in getting this posted, being that it's already Tuesday night! It's been a  really crazy couple of days! But even if I'm late, I like to post my menu plan because it motivates me to be more intentional and detailed in my planning.

** indicates freezer meals.
B- oatmeal with blueberries
L- meatball sandwiches, pickles, apple slices, zucchini bread
S- eat at church meeting

To Do: Freezer Cooking Day!
B- oatmeal with blueberries
L- leftover rice dishes (Spanish rice and lentils and rice), bread and butter
S- pork bbq sandwiches, coleslaw-leftovers from last night's dinner

B- ham and egg quiche, grapes
L-leftover Spanish rice, bread, apple slices
S- Garlic-basil shrimp with pasta (new recipe), steamed carrots- Shrimp was FREE at Earth Fare last week!

To Do: make cream cheese frosting for carrot cakes, prepare lunch for tomorrow
B- oatmeal, pb toast, apples
L- veggie beef soup**, corn muffins
S- Cheesy mashed potatoes with ham, steamed green beans, carrot salad

B- poached eggs, toast, turkey ham
L- sandwiches, chips, grapes, brownies on the road
S- Visiting family!

Saturday- Visiting family!

**Thanks to Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday!

Mini-Freezer Cooking Day- The Results

My baking day is over. I completed everything on my list and at the end also whipped up a pan of brownies to eat right away.

It's snowing and I really wanted something sweet! Not sure how these two things relate but it made sense at the time!

My conclusion is that lots of baking, especially yeast items that need rising and baking time, takes more effort and time than doing a good amount of meats and main dishes. Just my thoughts, although it is wonderful to have all these fresh goodies prepared and ready to eat!

The results:
  • 5 loaves of whole wheat bread
  • 1 batch (8) pita pockets
  • 1 large loaf French bread
  • 2 smaller loaves Ham and Cheese bread- directions for making this here.
  • 6- 2 cup bags of chopped chicken for casseroles, soups, chicken salad, etc. 
  • 1 recipe (2 square pans) carrot cake- This is to take with us when visiting family this weekend. I will make the cream cheese frosting before we go and frost the cakes after we arrive for ease in transporting. 
  • 1 pan of brownies- These will probably not last long! 
  • 1 crockpot full of chicken broth is simmering- I'll package and freeze it in a day or two. 
Read all my posts about this mini-freezer cooking day:
  1. My cooking plan.
  2. Part 1
  3. Part 2
**Read all about Crystal's cooking day and see links to many more by visiting Money Saving Mom.

Mini- Freezer Cooking Day- Part 2

I'm at a good stopping point so here's an update.

I've baked bread, French bread and ham and cheese bread. Chicken has been baked, deboned and chopped. The chicken skins and bones were thrown immediately into the crockpot and are now simmering into chicken broth.

The kitchen has been cleaned up and dishes and pans washed so I can continue. Lunch (leftovers)  has been eaten.

To make ham and cheese bread, roll out French bread dough and layer ham and cheese on the dough before rolling it into a loaf. I made two ham and cheese breads from one batch of dough.
Roll up and slash the tops with a sharp knife. Bake according to recipe.

These are good eaten hot out of the oven, of course, but are also really nice to have in the freezer for a quick meal later on.

When ready to use, I wrap the frozen loaf in foil and heat in the oven until thawed and heated through. Cut in slices and serve!

Up next: 

Make pita bread
Make carrot cake

When I'm finished, I'll update with a final list and pictures of the finished products.

Mini- Freezer Cooking Day- Part 1

My freezer cooking day is well underway.

I'm a poet and didn't know it!

It's just a mini freezer-fest and most of it is baking today. We went out to get a few groceries yesterday and were so amazed to find many good deals on marked down meats! Seriously, there were so many, we had to just pick and choose. On the way home, I contemplated adding a few other things to my cooking day, like baking a huge ham I scored for $.69 a pound! I am so glad now that I decided to keep the plan as it was. I am so tired today after an extremely busy day yesterday which included the funeral for the father of a friend.

So I'm keeping it simple.  And in a few weeks when I have more staple items on hand, I'll do another big freezer day focusing on meats, main dishes and lunch items.

It's just after 8:30 and I have 10 pounds of chicken leg quarters baking in the oven, a big batch of whole wheat bread and 2 batches of French bread rising.

I'm getting ready to eat some breakfast, then shape the French bread into loaves as soon as it's ready to go.

I'll update again in a few hours and hopefully get my menu plan posted as well.