Monthly Archives: October 2013

Use It Up Casserole

Well, this kinda worked, but needs to be tweaked!

There’s a raised bed of parsnips, carrots and celeriac in my veggie garden, still. I had bought a dozen eggs as they were on sale for $2 or so a dozen, couldn’t resist that price! So, what to do?

I made a casserole: 2 bread heels, chunked, 3 eggs, 2C milk, about 1C chunked cheddar cheese, 1/2 sweet onion, chopped, 2 ribs celery, sliced, about 1C diced parsnips, 3 carrots, and 1 large patty pan squash. It should have been fine.

I baked it, tested it with a knife in the center, came out clean. Looked cooked through. Top was all dry, so I chunked the cheese, put it on top, then put the thing under the broiler to brown. Pulled it out, dished up a bowl and there’s a layer of liquid on the bottom?

Stirred it all up (mixing the cheese inside) and put it back in the oven. We ate it, but it was NOT the custardy veggie casserole I wanted. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really find a recipe to modify for this, so I faked it. It was tasty, but NOT what I expected, sigh.

Back to the drawing board!

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Hoarding?

Let’s see. What’s new with me is that I have beat the shame and got the PTSD under control. So, is my house clean?

Well, no. Cleaner, yes. Clean? Not yet. I still have safety issues to deal with. I’m certain they’re related to the PTSD. I have been doing my “surface cleaning” thing since the end of July. As I said, the house is cleaner, if not exactly clean. I figured out not too long ago that my problem wasn’t being disorganized or unwilling to clean, it’s just that there’s too much stuff here, still!

And although I find it frustrating when I can’t find a book I know I own, I’m still reluctant to purge stuff. Why, I’m not sure. Doesn’t matter. We have company coming for brunch on Sunday. I want my house clean. These are folks who know us, if the house won’t pass a white glove inspection (it won’t) or it’s cluttered, that’s not going to change their mind about us. I know that. Still, I’ve been whacking away at cleaning the house for the past two weeks, off and on.

The first few days were easy. But for some reason cleaning the big rooms is harder? Don’t know why. I’ll figure it out. Maybe because it’s hard to see the end in a quick bite? Like I said, I don’t know.

The only big cleaning revelation I’ve had in the past week or so is realizing that I purely HATE doing large loads of dishes after I eat. I want to sit and relax. So, the answer is to take the time (and there’s almost always some) when things are cooking and do most of the dishes and clean up then. Then after eating all I have to do is wipe down counters and wash the few dishes we ate from, and I don’t mind that so much I won’t do it. This means the kitchen is staying cleaner, longer. Yay!!!

The data that filter down this way are few and far between. I wish this process was faster, but then I wish most of my healing was faster too.

So I’m working on it! More to do, more to do, more . . . . (repeat, for a very long time).

J

A “Not Real” Food Confession

Okay, I’ve been busy and rather than making everything from scratch, I’ve been using prefab pieces to make things, well, at least I did yesterday.

Last night’s dinner was a veggie soup (squash with peas, carrots added) and BBQ ribs and cake with fruit.

The soup was made two days ago, it’s a squash soup with cider, stock, onion, curry powder. I cooked one butternut squash, needed more squash and opened a can of pumpkin to finish it. Prefab, sort of. Last night we had that as a side dish and the end of the previously cooked veggies in it, and that was our vegetable.

The ribs were put in a Pyrex lasagna pan with a bottle of Lawry’s Santa Fe Chili Sauce and some water, and a little sweet onion, then baked until the pork was cooked through.

The cake is a Dr. Oetker mix, with a package of home-frozen mixed blueberries & peaches. When I find peaches/blueberries cheap in the summer I cut up the fruit then put 1C of each into a plastic bag and freeze. I use the premeasured and prepped fruitĀ  to make our favorite cobbler. (here) Of course, in this case, I added the fruit to the pan with the cake batter.

So, instead of making EVEN SOUP from scratch, which is my normal, I cheated, on everything. It was good, probably mostly healthy, fairly fast and (of course) frugal.

I confess. I don’t always cook from scratch. I think I should, always, but like everyone I just don’t have the time or inclination all the time.

The biggest problem with dinner? The soup, the baked cake and the rib’s sauce were almost all the same color. DH said, in mock horror, “Oh noooooooooo! Food that’s all the same color! nOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” and we laughed. But if this was a company dinner or I was cooking for kids, I would have made sure I had a green salad, had some corn or peas, mashed potatoes or something to offset the brown, brown, and dark orange-brown food.

(It was tasty just the same!)

Painted Stairs (sort of)

A few years ago we removed the uncleanable beige carpet from the stairs. The oak treads weren’t so bad, but the stair fronts weren’t good, so we painted them an almost federal blue.

Years went by. The blue stair fronts got dirty. And have for some time been so dirty they were uncleanable. I hit upon the idea of painting them in such a way that it would disguise the dirt. Then agonized:

What if we hated it?

After a bit I realized that was just silly. If we hated it, well, I’d paint them again!

So, I painted the stair fronts yesterday. I took pictures, none of which came out very well, while I was doing it. Then my camera seemed to quit working. I have some touch ups to do, but they’re mostly done. The treads need to be stained and will be, if we decide we like this, permanently. If not? Well, like I said, I’ll paint it out!

When I can get my camera to cooperate (when DH can) I’ll post pics. (The image shown is before the stair fronts were waxed. The colors are deeper and shiny now.)

J

painted stair front

Waterless Cooker

A while back, I acquired a waterless cooker. Don’t know what a waterless cooker is? They’re a clamping stew pot inside which sits a rack and smaller pots on that. You brown the meat in the bottom of the big pan, add the rack, then put veggies in the smaller pots. Turn down the heat and wait for an hour or so — then dinner is done!

I think I paid $6 for the entire rig along with a camping set at a thrift shop. I have no use for the camping set, but had acquired a waterless cooker cook book a few months back and so determined to try it.

I had a package of skinned, boneless chicken thighs that were discounted at the market last week — perfect! Melted 2 pats of butter (could have used just 1) browned the meat, seasoned it with a rub mix I have, added the rack and one empty veggie pot. Added cut up red potatoes to a 2nd and held onto the 3rd ( frozen mixed corn/peas) in the fridge until about 20 mins before I figured it was “done.”

The corn/peas could have been a bit hotter, but better a bit cold than over cooked! The potatoes were perfect and the meat was yummy. We counted this “experiment” a success.

Yes, this is an old pot. Yes, it’s aluminum. But you know? It was $6. If I use it only during the winter and power outages (a whole meal without the oven and dirtying up every pot– yeah!) this winter only, I’d say it was worth it. After that? If we’re still as enthusiastic about “waterless cooking” I *might* go buy a brand-new stainless job for $60 or more — maybe.

Necessary Fall Chores

Columbus Day here is the “end” of summer, or, if you’re in a tourist-based business, it’s the end of the tourist, leaf-peeper, summer people season. ( I was for years.)

What I was supposed to be doing on Columbus Day was hauling a commercial van’s worth of books to a bookstore in Maine. Which ain’t gonna happen, at least not any time soon.

What I did was some of the outstanding chores: I transplanted bulbs & strawberries, moved a little gravel, etc. There’s still HUGE quantities of fall-based chores, and of course the house-based chores as well. I deep cleaned the bathroom yesterday. Deep cleaned the hallway today.

We bought a new front door, it’s beautiful and I’m glad we’ve got it! The guy who put on our roof is going to probably build us a new entry shelter, and the doorway was the next “to do” item. We need a new threshold, door frame, etc.

I’m working on the house, we’ll see if I can keep up the go through a room every day for the next few days? The “fallout” from the hall and bathroom is now cluttering up our bedroom, bigtime. THAT’S tomorrow’s agenda (along with the staircase), aside from going to the dump.

The chore list/surface cleaning thing doesn’t do well with seasonal stuff, yet. I have a l0t more work to do to get it to a form where I really don’t have to think about it.

I belong to a “daily” website. You pick tracks and do one thing a day. I was in the clutter one a while back. Almost all the organizational and decluttering things they wanted me to do, I’d already done, and had been doing for some time. Currently, I”m in an organizational track. Either it doesn’t really pertain because I don’t work for anyone else, or it’s something I already do, or it just doesn’t apply.

My conclusion? I am organized enough, I absolutely can declutter and purge stuff. I just have TOO MUCH stuff in this house! So, this week and next, my job is to try and change that.

I don’t know if I’ll make it, or not, but it’s a goal. And I’ve got to have a goal or I just don’t get things done.

Happy October everyone!

Depressed

Not only did we put our cat to sleep last week, which makes me sad, but I have another problem. Another?

Of course. My f’n past causes me to respond inappropriately. It makes me kind of nutty as I can’t seem to stop it and THAT’s what makes me depressed. I don’t mind having had all the stupid problems, don’t mind so much that it’s taken me so long to actually deal with them. But I DO mind that I keep exposing myself emotionally to beating myself up — for something I can’t seem to stop.

The key to depression for me is feeling as if THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO to change something. As long as I have the smallest shred of hope, I’m okay, but honestly, do I have to keep paying?

Okay, whine over now, but sometimes? Sometimes I just get depressed about how hard it is, how long it’s taken, and how much I have yet to do. Sometimes it feels as if I haven’t accomplished anything at all.