Thursday, April 29, 2010

And Tonight's Dinner As Well!

... ok, so maybe I don't post about my dinner often because F and I go out to eat a lot...

As F is working late (and got dinner without me! Without telling me! (*shock!)), I am eating by myself tonight. Now, as I still need to eat lots o' protein or I'll die (true story), and like to eat up stuff that's been in the freezer for years, my dinner is STILL pretty simple.

... although, as I was telling a good friend M about my "simple" dinner last night, she exclaimed "that's your idea of simple?!" So clearly, I'm a better cook than I thought.

So, items used from the freezer: ancient pork sausage roll, ancient green beans, "Italian Seasoned" bread crumbs (who buys that crap?). Items from the fridge: butter, the last of the ricotta (although it lasts freaking forever, who knew?), and a hefty bit of parmasean. Pantry items: penne pasta.

I'm sure it's not hard to see how this turned into a yummy, gooey, cheesy casserole. It kinda makes me wish that I had a camera, to show this beauty.

But, here's the steps for those who need them, or haven't made this kind of meal before.

Boil water. While water is boiling, chop frozen sausage and put into frying pan (covered) to cook. When water boils, add pasta -- cook until al dente (check it by eating).

Drain pasta, but leave a little bit of water (if you have milk, drain all the water out -- but I didn't have milk).

To pot with pasta, add half a stick of butter (NOM NOM), and start grating cheese over it. Grate as much as you want. Add ricotta (I only had about 1/2 - 1 c. of ricotta left). Mix it all together. Add more cheese as needed. Throw in frozen green beans. When sausage is done frying, throw some crumbles of sausage in with pasta and sauce.

Put the whole shebang into a casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs and dots of butter (you can also melt the butter, throw breadcrumbs in that, and crumble this butter/crumb mix over the top -- I was being lazy). Stick in oven (I used 350F) until top is browned, crunchy, and sauce is bubbling.


Dinner Revisited

As I had half of a package of Lemon Pepper pasta left, I picked up the lemon juice I needed, and fried up 1/2 of the remaining chicken, used up the last of the celery, the last of this pepper/cheese mix that has been in the freezer for forever, and kinda made this yummy lemon/pepper/cheese/oil chicken and pasta dish.

Turned out yummy!

But, learned that lemon juice will pull the seasoning from cast iron -- so had to wash it IMMEDIATELY.

Toesie Cozy

So, I was telling F about how I was SOO COLD at his apartment earlier, that I took a nap in bed for an hour and a half, and woke up with cold feet. Still. Yeah -- I get cold, and stay cold easily.

At which point, F mentioned the most amazing idea: the Toesie Cozy. It's like slippers, only both feet go in the same little pouch. <3

Thinking about it, I'll kinda want it to be basically bag-like with two ribbed openings for ankles. I took a peek at Ravelry to see what their slipper selection was like (and to see if anyone else had come up with this!). As F appears to be the first to have this brilliant idea, I will have to make it.

Looks like I'll have to go to LYS and buy something nice and bulky.

... and for another yarn project, F claims that the blanket I made him 2 years ago does not go with his new couch (his couch is sage, the blanket is cranberry, cobalt, and honey -- what's not to go?!). So, looks like I'll be making another blanket for the back of his couch (and to cover me!).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cabbage Recipes To Try

These all look so good... I wish I had a cabbage RIGHT NOW. For some reason, I'm not interested in Asian cabbage dishes -- but East European look juuuuuuuuuust right.

Hungarian Noodles and Cabbage
Jane Brody's High Calcium Cabbage Bread
Pierogi Cabbage Filling
Ukrainian Steamed Cabbage Souffle
Polish Sausage and Cabbage
Beekeeper's Cabbage
Company Cabbage
Mrs. Howard's Baked Cabbage
Queensland Cabbage
Cabbage Strudel
Cabbage in Caraway Cream
Cabbage Au Gratin

A Few Knitty Patterns to Keep

Pattern for custom fit toe-up socks.
Pattern for heel-out socks.
Pattern for thin, soft, toe-up socks.
Pattern for a simple, toe-up sock.
Pattern for easy, lace socks.
Pattern for knit lace edging.


What an adorable little dishcloth pattern I found!

She was a featured cook on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen blog (Erica's cooking blog)

As I need to buy crochet thread for several projects (not in the least being my LONG OVERDUE payment to Sharon Astyk), I should pick up some crochet thread for these as well.

To the internets!

Edit: $100 later, have bought yarn for Sharon's payment, dishcloths, and socks for me and F. All at Must also keep in mind for nicer yarns.

Recap on Animals

So, F doesn't want animals mostly because they're loud (and probably smelly). What I might be able to have:

-- bees
-- cats
-- dogs
-- rabbits?
-- worms

What I can't:

-- chickens
-- goats
-- cows
-- pigs
-- ducks
-- horses
-- sheep

What I would still like to convince him of:

-- chickens
-- goats

I can't see pigs working well in the city, nor cows and horses, and as much as I love ducks, I'd need water for them as well -- and my backyard will be full of garden thankee kindly!

(*keeps plotting...)

It's A Go

So, in the cutesy fake sign language that I use when I'm waking up, I asked F if he wanted bees. He's down with bees. :-D (Granted, since it's fake sign language, he spent a while asking "I want to get stung by a bee?")

I feel that because we're not to have regular animals, I'll never have enough extra milk to make it worth while to make cheese. This makes me sad. Unless I have a huge trade network.

What can I offer a trade network:

-- produce from (currently) fictional garden
-- sewing
-- knitting/crocheting
-- babysitting
-- honey from (currently) fictional hives

And perhaps I could convince F to be involved with trade network for either tech support or handyman stuff. Y'never know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And Dinner

One of the things that I often don't discuss on here is what and how I cook. For several reasons, not in the least being that I don't feel like my cooking is anything to showcase. I'm usually a "throw it in the pan and it'll be nummy" cook. But there is a method to my madness!

So, I'm going to cook dinner for F and myself tonight, and stopped at Trader Joe's on my way back from an appointment. I bought some Lemon Pepper pasta, a white bean salsa type food, and a pack of chicken breast.

Ideally, I'd be marinating the chicken breast in oil, lemon juice and some black pepper (esp. keeping with the pasta!), but I'm not sure if F has lemon juice (crazy, I know), and probably too lazy to get some. Although, chicken doesn't need to marinate long... I could have him pick it up on the way home.

My plan for cooking?

Cook the pasta in water until done, then drain. Pretty simple. While that's cooking, fry some garlic (already had) in olive oil, and add bite-size chicken pieces to that. When the chicken's fairly cooked, add some frozen veggies, and what other veggies are in the fridge (not much, but not worth buying more), and add the white bean salsa with a little more oil to make a sauce. Cook down for a few more minutes, then serve over pasta.

Easy peasy. See why I don't discuss it often?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And A Complete Turnabout

So, remember all of my dreams about going out into the wilderness, planting trees, building a house, having forests, and farmland and animals?

Slight change of plans.

So, BF proposed. Not for anytime soon to get married, but, to make a more serious commitment to each other. I suppose I should call him 'F' now... only then he sounds like a Bond character.

The problem with those dreams? F doesn't ever want to leave the city. He also, has no inclination towards having animals. Having a backyard full of garden? No problem. Exploring greener household solutions? No problem there either. The not having land, the not building my house, and the not having animals is going to be very saddening though. Maybe chickens and bees... >.>

Now, I'm sure that there are ways to "animal share" -- pay part of the cost, do part of the work, and reap part of the profits (such as meat and fertilizer). And, for a family, that will probably be enough. But is it enough for my husbandry desires? We'll find out.

I am fairly intrigued at the thought of having to figure out small garden plans, but still saddened by the lack of FARM. I am confident that I'll be able to create food to feed myself and whatever family I have -- and with F having a good job, and being more than likely able to KEEP said good job, I am also not worried about complete reliance upon my efforts -- if need be, I can purchase locally.

So many of my thoughts have been planning for "when I get out" and it looks like I might not now. Am I ok with this? Well, if we hadn't had a loooooooooong discussion about the logistics before the question was popped, I wouldn't have said 'yes'. There are many things I enjoy about the city. And frankly, most of the reasons why I wanted to leave were because of the accessibility of cheap(er) land. I enjoy the culture -- and this actually will give something that I've worried about slightly. In my dreams of having the Manor and family, I had thought about schooling. And your average country school isn't particularly good -- so I had figured I'd more than likely homeschool. But even if I homeschool in the city, my kids would have more opportunities just by the fact that there's more going on! If I was homeschooling to try and train mini-mes who don't follow modern culture... well, I'm screwed on that line of reasoning. But really -- did I really want that? No, I was worried that's what it would turn out to be!

I have some time to think about this, and to get prepped and decide on how to make everything work. It's just... a change.

Friday, April 16, 2010


OMG I'm totally going to try to grow tea when I get my farmstead -- with the zones changing, temps warming up overall, and a little care, I could probably get it to grow -- and have my own tea! (*glee)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Book Review

It seems like everyone and their neighbors from the Czech Republic do Book and Movie Reviews of new and upcoming items on their blogs. Guess what folks -- I'm doing an OLD book, what now?

The book that I'm reviewing is the 1924 edition of "Physical Culture Cook Book". According to Wikipedia, "Physical culture is a term applied to health and strength training regimens, particularly those that originated during the 19th century. During the mid-late 20th century, the term "physical culture" became largely outmoded in most English-speaking countries, being replaced by terms such as "physical education", "fitness training" or simply "exercise"." This book is of a two part culmination of the magazine named after the movement.

Look at the lovely picture of the author! He looks much crazier, less sexy in the picture of "Our Author" in my book.

So, with no further ado, I present: "Physical Culture Cook Book" by Bernarr Macfadden (Author of "Macfadden's Encyclopedia of Physical Culture," Eating for Health and Strength," "Strengthening the Eyes," "Hair Culture," "Manhood and Marriage," "The Miracle of Milk" and other works on Health and Sex) [N.B. -- capitalization upon sex the choice of the editor or author :-P]


One of the points that Macfadden mentions early in the book is that he merely calls this a cook book because it is a familiar term, not that it would be a typical cook book (of the time) (1). He spends the first 120 or so pages proselytizing about such diverse topics as: why you shouldn't use spices, how awesome raw diets are, and about these Cool New Discoveries: Vitamins. He is also a supporter of chewing everything -- even such things as soup, gruel and juice. Some of his points are very interesting, and all of it has the flavor of KNOWING how perfectly "scientific" one is being, as well as being so terribly dated.

Yet, a lot of what he says is being said time and again. "Eat whole grains over denatured white flour", "eat less meat", etc. But, some of it is just wrong. For example, the author claims that some bodies just digest better than others -- and that this explains weight disparities (2).

He also offers ways to judge quality food over bad, labor saving options, ways to set a table so that it is both simple and attractive (he's a fan of flowers), and a brief description of methods of cooking. When reading this type of book, I always feel that the author just likes to hear themselves talk, and they'd probably not be a guest I'd make the mistake of inviting to dinner twice.

However accurate or inaccurate his sermons are, they are entertaining. And that brings us to the "meat" of the book: the actual recipes.

The recipes in the book appear to be fairly straightforward, and simple. The author offers no pretense otherwise. He wrote the book as a reaction to the over-done Victorian-into-Gilded Age eating and entertaining styles. Each section offers a little description of the food to be covered, and goes into recipes. For simple ones, the recipe is in paragraph form; for more complex, the ingredients are before, with the instructions in paragraph form.

Overall, I would not consider it a bad $9 spent (a local used book store -- the book is not in great condition). His actual instruction is more entertaining than informative as it is so dated -- as some of his suggestions were to fast for 2 or 3 weeks until appetite returns, I would fear for someone's safety if they were following too closely to his words.

The recipes I would consider basic and hearty enough to merit it being given to a beginner, or someone starting out who wants a basic "kitchen bible". BF and I are constantly at war over our OWN preferences for "kitchen bible" [I like Fanny Farmer, he likes Joy of Cooking], but this covers enough territory to make it worthwhile. The only thing I would be leery of giving to a beginner is such fun instructions as "Bake in a medium hot oven for 30 minutes". If the person I was to give this to already had an idea of how to cook, but merely needed reference often -- this would be an excellent choice.

Overall usability: A-
Beginner's usability: C
Accuracy in statements: C-

A fun read! I always enjoy old cookbooks -- especially the "scientific" ones like this one and my second edition Boston School of Cooking (a.k.a. Fanny Farmer).

(1) "In the recipes of this book you will find many dishes that are composed partly or wholly of uncooked foods. The name 'Cook Book' is thus not wholly accurate, the more exact title would be 'Food Preparation Book'; however, we use the more familiar term." (41)

(2) "Some people are naturally small eaters. Sometimes they are above the normal in weight. It is because of good assimilation. You may find others who are below weight, and yet eat more food than those who are heavier in proportion to their height. They do not digest what they eat." (24)

"Coming Out"

So although my mother knew of my plans to farm, etc., and was a huge supporter of this idea, I had never broached the topic with my father. My dad is VERY typical, middle-class, white collar, suburban, "American Dream" -- I could go on and on, but let's just say that I did not expect a telling to go well, nor with much understanding.

Well, I was talking with my dad today about different topics, and the subject of my long term goals came up. So, my dad asked "so what are your long term goals?" I said "you're going to laugh", of which he assured me that he wouldn't. So, I said "I want to farm". Slight pause, and my dad commented that the best way to do that is to marry a farmer!

We weren't able to finish the conversation, as I was technically on the clock, but it's a start! I still am not so sure that my dad would understand a lot of my reasons behind farming (he supports troops in Iraq, as an example), but I feel that he would be supportive. This is such a HUGE weight off of my chest that I never even knew was there!

So between finding it easier and easier to tell people that this is my dream, having people UNDERSTAND it (and slightly share it!), and having my family on board... I am in a comfortable place at the moment. I may not be where I want to be eventually, but I feel like I've made an important step in the right direction.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Overflow

So I got my Easter box in the mail from my mum and grandma today. It came complete with:

-- 7 oz. box of turtles
-- some ribbon and a Lush shampoo that was to get returned to a friend...?
-- a nice copy of the Earthsea Trilogy
-- a lovely book called "The Perfect Tea"
-- 2 boxes of peeps (one green, one yellow)
-- paska (Ukrainian Easter bread)
-- reeces peanut butter eggs
-- Werther's Originals
-- marshmellow renditions of VeggieTales characters
-- 3 boxes of Thin Mints
-- bar of Milka chocolate
-- and the start of my herd...

This is Goatee, the most adorable little goat Beanie Baby! My mother informed me that although I probably will not get much goat milk from her, she is still the official start of my herd.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Over at Retro Housewife Goes Green (see sidebar for blog), she has a fabulous post on making do with non-toxic cleaners and other green cleaning methods (and by "making do" I mean "doing better!").

This will be another thing that I will be working with in my new apartment, as "traditional" cleansers are far to expensive to buy regularly. I would LOVE to have a studio or something similar, so that I can experiment on all sorts of things! And not having a cat (*sniff), I will be able to have plants that don't get chomped.

Do you think someone is looking forward to a new apartment? 'Cause -I- do! :-P

Addendum: there's some info over at Green Phone Booth as well!

Some Recipes I'd Like to Keep Track of

Crock Pot Bread
Polish Sausage
Cinnamon Carrot Bread
Easter Recipes
Bread Paska
Cheese Paska
More Easter Recipes

Possible Idea for Weekly Menu Plan

A few of the blogs that I've been reading lately have weekly menu plans. One of the ones I just read has a two week menu that doesn't really change. (Since it has such entries as "chicken night", it's not that boring.) Since I'll need to keep my life on the cheapy side of life when I move, here's a quickly thought out sample week menu plan for me.

Day 1: eggs with stuff in it
Day 2: stirfry with beans or meat
Day 3: leftover rice and beans/meat
Day 4: enchiladas with cheesey beans
Day 5: soup, salad, grilled sandwich
Day 6: beans and sausage
Day 7: veggies

Obviously, if I want to make something special, I can switch out a meal and put in my new one. One thing I need to keep track of is how much protein I need -- I burn through carbs way too fast to make it worth while to have a meal with just them. Hopefully, this will get me to eat more veggies, eat more balanced, spend less in food, and actually eat! ...I forget a lot, and then my body thoroughly reminds me.

Does anyone else have that problem? Why is it that if you haven't eaten, you get nauseas? It makes it feel like that LAST thing you want to do is eat! Or drink water on an empty stomach. I'll probably try to make iced tea this summer again, as its something that I will drink -- unlike water.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A New Post! Whee! Also, Groceries

A lot of folks have been talking about what they eat, how they eat it, and why. What they buy, what they grow, what they make. As I will be moving soon, I'd like to have a solid idea on my shopping budget so that I can actually save money like I'm supposed to -- instead of eating out a lot.

Food Pyramid Style!

-- Maseca to make tortillas -- retardedly easy folks
-- rice in bulk
-- maybe buy bread and freeze it -- or get into making bread (buying day old?)
-- oatmeal and other hot grains
-- cornmeal in bulk
-- flour and such for my forays into baking -- I really can't see my baking cupboard diminishing

-- when in season, I will shop at the farmers markets
-- frozen veggies are great in stirfrys and soups
-- perhaps I will be able to actually plant this year?
-- root veggies in bulk (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc.)
-- canned tomato products

-- canned fruits such as applesauce, pineapple rings, perhaps pears, etc.
-- ... maybe splurge and buy oranges for lunch en route to work?
[N.B. I'm terrible at incorporating fruits and veggies into my life]

-- cheese -- maybe I'll learn how to make it! Would that save me money? ... I could see milk being a hell of a lot cheaper than cheese...
-- powdered milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed are all shelf stable and should be staples
-- eggs definately, perhaps milk?

-- dried beans in bulk
-- buy meat in large quantities when on sale, and freeze (it makes for an easy meal when you pull a hand cut chop out of the freezer and pop it in a frying pan with spices)
-- sausages are usually cheaper, so buy large quantities of those, and freeze as well
-- soy products? I'm not sure

-- lard, shortening or butter
-- sugars in bulk -- honey? maple syrup (not my fave)?

And with that, I should be able to give myself 4 or 5 small meals a day, which is what I need -- and if I usually have reconstituted beans available, I'll be able to get my protein easily (of which I need a lot -- I burn through carbs too fast).

A lot of this requires pantry storage, or some other form of storage, such as freezer space. And then to factor in my doomer requirements such as having food and water stored for six months worth of living... eesh. We'll see what's possible.