Loving the weather and random thoughts on grocery shopping

We are having a warm spell here… it’s been in the mid seventies for a couple of days. How nice to be able to sit outside again! And has anyone noticed that if you kept your flowering plants alive during the summer, they look spectacular in the fall?  So far I have resisted buying mums since the other pots are doing so well.  I think I’ll pick up some mums and kale for the window boxes once everything else poops out.  Otherwise you reach mid- November, when it seems more dismal with the leaves down, and your mums are done too.

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Isn’t that awesome with the colored trees showing behind?

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Since I had to bring the kids to school today, I amazed myself by being at the grocery store at 8:30 am, with a list (well, I worked on that in the car first), rightly clothed, kids breakfasted, dressed and clean.  I strongly feel that the stress of grocery shopping with a four and one year old,  can be alleviated afterwards, by a big, fat donut at Shoprite, which by the way, is FAR better than Dunkin Donuts (and cheaper!).  Seriously though, I try to avoid grocery stores as much as possible, especially with littles in tow.  I go maybe once a month. The rest of the time I (or my DH) go to our big box store where you can put two kids in the seat in front of the cart, and the aisle are big and you can fly through quickly.   Add a 10 minute stop at the vegetable store once a week and grocery stores can be avoided.

So what about sales, coupons etc. asks the fugal homemaker?  Well, our box store has great coupons which I use to by regular stuff or anything extra (read: fattening, processed, short-cut-ish, not necessary), and otherwise I don’t do coupons.  I always forget them, they expire, and they tend to be for more expensive brands anyways.  I just get store brands, or what’s on sale. I will look at flyers for sales when I’m running low on meats in my freezer or other basics that the big store doesn’t have.   I have three grocery stores nearby, and will make a quick run to stock up on sales. So that’s my philosophy on grocery shopping.  The quicker the better… One final important note:  we do have two running lists going, one for the big store, one for the grocery store.  When you take the last of anything, it is a commandment in our house that you write it down on the list!  DH abhors running out of things ;)

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Nothing like having coffee time outside, with your peeps, and a (smooshed) donut from Shoprite. Eliza has raisins, ha ha.  Yes, I did share some donut with her :)  BTW, jelly donuts are a delicacy introduced to me by my husband…

So, do you have great weather too?  How often do you go grocery shopping?  Is it just me that finds the whole thing a big hassle?

~ Lora

Posted in garden, handy household tips, kids, reflection, seasons | 5 Comments

Happy birthday

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Happy birthday to my two little companions during the day!  These two girls keep our home lively, and each other happy. It has been so nice to see how much fun Eliza and Annika can have together. Annika is a conscientious sister, letting me know when Eliza is about to explore the toilet or the litter box :P, and Eliza’s face lights up when she sees her big sister. We were so thankful to celebrate their first and fourth birthdays this past weekend.

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~ Lora

 

Posted in celebrations, family, happiness, kids, relationships | 2 Comments

Irresistable attraction

My mom-ears hear the sound of water running somewhere. I haven’t seen Annika lately. Hmm…. better investigate.

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What is there about water that is so attractive to kids? Growing up, my kids love(d) nothing better than to fuss in the sink with soap and toys and bubbles spilling all over. Or better yet, fill the play kitchen sink with water and pretend to do dishes. So what’s a mom to do? Just let them I say, and when they’re done, get a big, old towel and dry the mess up.

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Kids love to mess around.  Moms hate it when kids mess around.  Mess = more work.  But… mess = kids occupied and kids learning and kids creating.  So it’s probably a wash :)

The moral of the story is: let kids mess around (with a little supervision).  Your kids will love it and your house will survive it.  I promise!

~ Lora

Posted in child's play, kids, parenting | 2 Comments

Chicken stew and dumplings

I make chicken soup about once a month or so and the kids have always liked it.  However, now that it’s Fall, I wanted to make something a little more hearty for dinner. This recipe turned out to be delicious and all most of the kids loved it.  It was a quick, healthy dinner, perfect for an early meal before soccer practice. It had dumplings which was a first for me, and the seasonings were great together.

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Here’s the recipe I adapted from one I found on allrecipe.com.

3 cups, or about 2 lbs of chicken cooked and cut up.  I sauteed small pieces of chicken in a little oil, and shook about 1 – 2 tsp of curry powder on them while cooking the chicken. Put aside.

Melt 5 tbsp of butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook and stir 2 medium to large chopped onions and 3 large ribs of finely chopped celery until soft, for about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle in 5 tbsp flour and whisk continuously to make a thick roux, about 2 minutes.  Slowly pour about 40 oz or 5 cups chicken broth, whisking to remove any lumps. (I use Better than Bouillon chicken base to make my broth.) Add 1 tsp salt (unless your broth is salted), 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 2 large new potatoes cleaned and diced, 2 cups or 10 oz frozen vegetables (thawed) - I get the kind without lima beans.  Cover and cook stew over medium heat until potatoes are tender.  Stir in chicken and continue to simmer. If it seems to thick, add some more broth or a little water.

Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  Cut in 4 tbsp butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  I may have added a little more butter to get the crumbs.  Stir in 3/4 cup milk and 1 1/2 tbsp dried dill. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough into the simmering stew.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover and cook until the dumplings are tender, another 8 to 1o minutes. Next time, I will form the dumplings into more of a ball so that they don’t lose pieces in the stew.  You could still use your tablespoon to do this.  Mine were too loose at first.  Also, this makes a lot of dumplings.  You could halve the recipe if you are unsure about dumplings.

Simply put, this stew is definitely being added to my recipe box.  Something different, but still accessible comfort food.

~ Lora

 

Posted in cooking, recipes | 1 Comment

Fall’s here!

IMG_5340Who’s excited to feel a nip in the air?  Our family just loves Fall. With cooler sunny weather (hurray for mid 70’s) and even cooler nights, I figured I could haul the Autumn decor out of the attic and change things up a bit around here. Changing the decor in my house is a little pleasure I allow myself as the seasons change. In the spring, I get rid of all references to winter, (even my red living room curtains) and then I don’t change anything till fall. I have three main areas I change up… my fireplace mantel, the top of a red cabinet in my kitchen, and on top of the “high” bar that shields my stove from view. I also have a habit of moving around pictures and other art which explains the numerous holes I have in the walls. That’s enough to give our home a new seasonal look and feel. Just to show you how I change things around, here’s a picture of my mantel this past summer:

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And here it is now:

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I like to display my Willow Tree figurines, given to me as gifts.  With Thanksgiving coming up, it reminds me how much I love my five kids and husband and what a blessing they are to me.  The oil painting is special to us since it was done by a local artist in Northern Ontario, Helen Hall, where we have been vacationing for years.  A dear sister (in-law) gave me the beautiful plate which has been hung in many different places in our home.

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The plant is obscuring two pieces of art which Scott and I picked up on a rare overnight away several years ago.  It’s made of carefully cut out paper to create a folk art design, and the words “Be joyful at all times, pray without ceasing and give thanks for all things” are written underneath.

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The round piece of carved wood was the table top of a little three legged table that had been my Oma’s table.  It then moved into my childhood home while I was growing up, and now I inherited it.  The legs were simply too broken to repair, but I’m glad I can use it in another way.  I like to decorate my home with meaningful objects.  It’s not just how things look, and whether they are “on trend”.  It’s the story behind the pretty, it’s the feeling communicated to my family, and to those who visit us.  I was so pleased to hear my kids excitedly exclaim as they burst through the door after school, “Mom, you put all the Fall stuff up!  Yay!”

Are you excited about a new season?

~ Lora

 

Posted in before and after, decorating, family, home decorating, reflection | 6 Comments

Eliza – 10 months

Where has the time flown? My little baby isn’t so little anymore. She’s ten months and now that she’s finally gotten mobile, she’s intent on exploring as much of her world as she can. I’m glad she’s still a peanut though… (17 lbs, 27 inches long). She’ll can still be my baby for awhile longer.

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Could you explain this ridiculous flower on my head?

That's better!

That’s better!

~ Lora

 

Posted in family, kids, time | 2 Comments

Best roasted potatoes and gourmet porkchops

So I discovered how to make really good roasted potatoes today. I mean, the kids called them fries… and ate them all up. High praise indeed. And.. they were not deep fried, yet crisp on the outside, a little soft inside and overall just right!
I bought fingerling potatoes the other day and wanted to cook them somehow. It was very humid and warm today so I wanted to use the grill as much as possible. I cut the potatoes up in quarters the long way, tossed them in olive oil, seasoned them with a new find, Mixed-Up Pepper and coarse sea salt, and threw them into a grill basket.

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The grill was on medium high to high (500 -550 F) with all burners on. I often grill indirectly (that is turn one burner off and grill over that burner.) This time I didn’t, and just scraped and turned the potatoes every 5 or 10 minutes. I would say I grilled them for about 30 to 35 minutes. They came out great; tasted as good as they looked. I’m pleased to have discovered this super easy method of cooking potatoes. I think it would work well with any baby potato.

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And while we’re on the topic of food… I got real gourmet-ish last week and bought a mango at the produce market thinking I wanted to do something fruit salsa-ish with it.  After poking around Allrecipes.com and a few other sites, I modified a pork chop  recipe and I am pleased to announce that it was a success – for the adults at least ;).  This isn’t to say that all my creative cooking attempts are successes…  Indeed there have been some notable failures… but they don’t get published (like the very limp zucchini fries).  I have many pictures of dishes I expectantly photographed, only to be greatly disappointed.  But I digress.  If you like grilled pork chops, and can cook them without completely drying them out this recipe is worth the effort in my humble opinion.

Grilled Porkchops topped with Tropical Salsa

1) Using a mortar and pestle (or in my case a bowl and spoon) mash the following seasoning into a paste: 1 clove garlic minced, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/8 -1/4 tsp cardamon. Mix up to 1/2 tsp water to help make the paste.

2)Heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in spice paste and cook till it begins to bubble, about 30 seconds.  Stir in1/4 cup white wine vinegar, cook without boiling for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup sugar until it dissolves.  Mix in 1 mango, peeled and chopped, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 to 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tsp. lemon juice. If you desire to, you can add a chopped jalapeno pepper.  I found the salsa to be a mild to medium heat without it. Simmer for twenty minutes. Stir in  2 peeled and chopped peaches, 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce and 3 chopped pineapple rings. Simmer for ten more minutes.  Season with pepper.  Place in a bowl, cover and put aside if you are using it that evening.  Otherwise refrigerate.

3) To prepare marinade for the 4-6 pork chops (I used bone-in), mix 2/3 cup of your tropical salsa with 1/3 cup soy sauce and 1/3 white vinegar.  Place pork chops in a large resealable bag, and pour marinade on top.  Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4) Prepare grill for medium-high heat.  Drain (and reserve) marinade.  If you want to baste the pork chops while  grilling, you can boil the marinade you just drained and use it.

5) Place pork chops on hot grill.  Cook about ten minutes turning once.  Cook a little longer for bone-in pork chops.  Baste occasionally if you aren’t juggling five other things.

6) If your salsa was refrigerated, heat it up to at least room temperature or warmer and serve the pork chops topped with the salsa.  Use the remainder of the salsa  to spice up some rice, or for tomorrows grilled chicken.

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As you can see, the salsa is more of a chunky sauce, but Tropical salsa sounds a lot more appealing.  However, the flavor was fruity and complex, and complemented the pork very well.  I used leftover salsa with chicken, tortilla chips (late at night once) and it never disappointed.

Well that’s my fit of culinary inspiration for the month.  Tomorrow fish sticks and fries ;)

What have you been cooking lately?

~Lora

ps did you see those green beans on the plate?  First fruits from the garden!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cooking, menu planning, recipes | 8 Comments