Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some small things I'm learning...

In preparation for moving into our new, smaller, home, we've been getting rid of a LOT of things.  As I mentioned earlier, it is embarrassing how much I had accumulated in the 20 years we've been in this house.

I used to have a enough Corelle dishes to serve 12 people.  I've paired it down to enough for 4 people plus a platter and 2 vegetable bowls:

Not all of them match, which I don't care about at all.  I also have some china that belonged to my mother.  A lot of the set broke long ago, as she really used them when we were growing up, but I love them and when we have company and need more plates and things, that's what I'll fall back on.  The Corelle is what I'm using right now in the kitchen.

How can I explain this?  ....   Since I have fewer dishes, the kitchen stays cleaner, as I can't afford to not wash the dishes after a meal.  There is not nearly so much to wash.  It's really nice! Here are dishes from one meal:
The other thing I want to show you is that I traded our HUGE microwave oven to our daughter for her small one when they moved out of our home a few weeks ago.  I needed a smaller one for our new house.  It's nothing fancy, but it is all we need!
...and it's much quicker to clean a small one that the big one.  I hadn't even thought of that.  The marks on the front are rust under the glass, not ickies from cooking.  Here is the inside with a pint jar in it so you can see the size better:
I've really fallen in love with having a tidier, streamlined kitchen.  It will be interesting (for me) to see how I put it all together when we move.

Another thing along these lines... you know how on the cooking shows they "prep" all the food ingredients and put them in little bowls and then assemble the dish?  I've started doing that, and it makes it even easier to keep the kitchen clean.  As I measure out things, then I can put things away.  If I have to cook some of the ingredients first, before assembly, then it is a quick matter to wash up the pans, bowls, utensils, or whatever I used in the preparation.  So, by the time I have it all together, nearly all the dishes are done and so after a meal the clean up is faster and much easier.  Does that make sense?

By the way, if any of you Gentle Readers have any suggestions for me concerning how to manage in a tiny kitchen, please feel free to comment and share them with me!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spaghetti Squash!

Many of you, I am sure, are at least aware that there is a winter squash called "spaghetti squash."  It gets this interesting name because when it is cooked, you can remove the flesh of the squash with a fork and it looks a lot like spaghetti.  Being a winter squash, it keeps well on the kitchen counter.  Most groceries in the USA carry it throughout the winter.  The price can vary, but it is a wonderful meal if you like it... which I do... Very Much.  By the way, it is also easy to grow in your own garden.
The flavor is very mild and slightly sweet.  It really doesn't taste anything like spaghetti, but it has somewhat the same texture and appearance.  I like to eat it with some butter and grated cheese, and also, instead of cooking pasta (which isn't really a healthy choice - too highly processed) I use it topped with my own homemade marinara sauce.

To cook a spaghetti squash, cover it with water in a pot, bring it to a boil and simmer until a knife inserted goes in easily, once you get past the tough skin.  Then, drain the squash, and let it cool for a while.  That way you won't get burned when you are preparing it for the table.

Next, cut it in half, long-ways, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, and then a fork to shred the flesh of the squash.
That's it!  Once it is ready, you can serve it immediately or refrigerate it and re-heat later.  If you want to add it to soup, just put it in when you are serving the soup, so it won't cook to mush.

If you are a lover of vegetables, give spaghetti squash a try!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! A Reminder...

5 years ago, I wrote about "A quick turkey dinner."
Just in case this might be helpful to you, Dear Reader, I will put the link here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spices... sprinkling and storing...

I made some "Deviled" Eggs tonight.  I want to show you how I sprinkle Paprika on top of them.  Here they are in all their glory:

I love lots of Paprika on top of my deviled eggs.  Here is how I do it.  My daughter gave me a really nice "tea ball." I put a little paprika (or other spice if doing something else that needs sprinkling) in the tea ball and use it like a little sifter.  It's works so nicely!
While I'm at it, I want to show you how I store my spices and herbs for cooking.  When we move to our new house, I hope I can still have a drawer for this.  It is so very convenient.  All I have to do is open the drawer and all the labels are right there.  The spices and herbs are in half-pint jars with the plastic screw-on lids and I put a label on top of each one.  
The one with the different label is actually the paprika.  It is "Hungarian" paprika, and very good.

I have to tell you a story about the daughter who gave me the tea ball.  When she was about 2 years old, one day, she and I were in the kitchen.  I made a plate of deviled eggs and put them on the table.  Then I turned around to work at the counter.  After a while I realized she was being awfully quiet, which any of you who have taken care of toddlers knows is a bad sign.  I turned around to check on her.  She was sitting on the floor under the table and had that plate of deviled eggs in her lap and was systematically squishing each one with her hands!


Leftover Soup...

Sometimes when I have a variety of small amounts of leftovers in the refrigerator, I use them to make "Leftover Soup."  It can be surprisingly good, and today was one of those days.  Here is what I pulled out of the fridge - a quart of bone broth, some oyster mushrooms that I found a week ago, leftover fried beef liver and onions, a little bit of corn, half an onion, and some mashed potatoes!  :)

First, I sauteed the onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil:
 Next I blended the potatoes with a little warm water and added that along with everything else in that first picture:
Then it was time to make a small batch of egg noodles - just one egg's worth:

1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
unbleached all purpose flour

Mix until a good firmish dough forms, knead until smooth and roll it out as thin as you can:

Then, using flour so it won't stick, roll it up and cup into rounds and plop them into the simmering soup:

I added 1.5 teaspoons salt
a few "cranks" of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Oh, my!  It's really good!

As usual, this is more about method than an exact recipe.  If you have some foods about to get too old, make some Leftover Soup out of them.  You might be surprised how good it can be!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Things are changing...

Gentle Readers...

I usually post about things that have to do with homemaking, i.e. recipes, gardening, sewing, etc. but today I want to tell you what is going on in my life. 

Our home was built in 1974.  It was not built properly, given the ground conditions here, and to make a long and ugly story short, our poor house is rotting.  If someone came here to inspect, it would be condemned.  We did not realize until several weeks ago what the problem is.  Now we do.  Mold.  Wetness.  Ick.

It would be exceedingly expensive to try to have the house repaired, and then we'd still have an old house.  It really is too bad.

We are in the process of purchasing a 13 x 56 mobile home (a.k.a. "Trailer" or "Manufactured home.")  Within a couple of months, it should be installed and we will be moving in.  Then we will tear down the old house, salvage what we can, and fill in the hole and I imagine plant some grass.

So, we'll be moving from about 1200 square feet to about 700 square feet with minimal storage.  We have been very busy and working hard to streamline and de-junk.  It is embarrassing!  I didn't realize how much stuff we had accumulated!  I've purged my clothing down to 33 items hanging in the closet.  This does not include underthings, workout clothing or garden grubbies.  Here you can see what is in there:

I feel a little silly.  I know that by American standards, that's not much, but I also realize that I have a great deal more than many people in the world!  I have to say, it has made getting dressed much easier.  I have a few things to wear to church in the winter and in the summer, 4 pairs of blue jeans, 2 denim skirts, 3 blazers, and a variety of t-shirts and blouses.  Now I just go through them in rapid succession.  It's nice!

My husband has hauled off many pick-up loads of things.  We've donated, given away, and thrown away.  I've sold a few things as well.  We are not finished, but I think the bulk of it is done.  

So, say goodbye to our old house.  :'(  Here it is.  I will keep you posted as we get into the trailer and I figure out how to live a more minimalist lifestyle.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thought for the day...

"They might not need me;
but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
a smile as small as mine might be
precisely their necessity". - Emily Dickinson
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