Keep It Simple

I was a foodie for years. Actually I am still like that, but eating at home has become a more important part of my life. And for a while I tried to compete with the food that I was eating in the restaurants.

But here is the thing.

You can't.

You can do better.

In the restaurant you are eating a meal that hits the 1500 calorie mark rather than 600. Sure it tastes good, but you are eating: Butter, oil, and salt. And more butter and while we are at it a little more salt. Restaurants are not know for their health benefits unless that is their angle.

So sure you can do it, it is easy to make your home dish restaurant quality – add a stick of butter!

Of course you can't say that it boils down to just that. But it is a big part of it.

They cook with gas. I don't know about you but it takes time for my stove to get hot. Their stoves get hotter than yours by like a factor of three. That is hotter and faster. And the whole environment is made to make food the center of their attention. When they are working on one meal they can have multiple other meals on hot burners. Something comes out or off while another meal is going in the oven. I would love a gas stove (but it isn't possible), but I would have a nervous breakdown if I had to prepare that much food.

Another thing, you are paying for this space. Cooking high quality food takes space, space that they have to make prepare food in advanced. As you surely know most aspects of cooking that take time. They have the time to cook beef stock, at home you don't have the time to reduce it for days and days in progressively smaller pots.

But don't get disheartened there are things that you can do to improve the experience.

Lately I have been working my kitchen in a number of different directions. Thai on Tuesday? Sure. Welsh Wednesday? If you really want to I'm game.

Country home cooked food has been making more of a showing lately. Mainly because it tastes great when done with love and it is easy.

But you don't need to go all rustic if you want to make it a stress free kitchen. There are some techniques that make the process easier and more fun. My biggest secret is to turn my stove as hot as it can go only once all my ingredients are ready. Until then don't even bother to turn it on. My grandmother taught me that. She always made sure that all of her onions were chopped and shallots minced and all that other veggies done well before things start getting hot. If not you're in big trouble.

Another thing that will keep you sane in the kitchen is not to cook from recipes posted online. That one is pretty handy from time to time.

And keep this in mind when you are looking for recipes: In a restaurant someone else gets to do the prep work and another person does the dishes. If you make a complicated meal you get to cut everything and when it is done you get to wash every dish. The food work ratio doesn't balance out in that case.

To Garage Sell, Or Not To Garage Sell

Growing up garage sells were the hit in my family. We didn’t have a lot of money and they were a chance to go shopping on the cheap. And they were a lot of fun too. They were sort of like a scavenger hunt, and you never knew what you would find.

Now as an adult, established and with a family of my own I find that the idea of garage sells still appeal to me. Now, however I tend to host rather than attend. And I love meeting all of the different types of people that come through our addition. It is partially a chance for people to socialize in our community.

When you decide to have a garage sell you have to anticipate a little work. Sorting out your family’s belongs, what to keep, what to sell and what to give away takes time. But I like to keep the house clean and will usually have one every couple of years.

That said I generally try to only include things that are useful. And while I understand another man or woman’s trash is another man or woman’s treasure I will only include things if they are still useful.

As I said before, with my history of going garage selling as a child the desire to give back is strong.

I have a little checklist of things that I will go over mentally when I add them to the sell pile.

  1. Is it in good condition?
  2. Is it useful?
  3. Would I buy it at a garage sell?

If the answer is yes then I will go ahead and include it. I also usually do a free pile for things that don’t make the grade.

Once that is finished I will contact my friends and ask them if they would like to be included. If you can get a couple of people together you can garner more attention. Instead of one small table you can have a couple of larger ones that draw more attention.

I am lucky because my community offers a week for garage sells in the Summer. This means that more attention is paid to them around that time and you can usually get a better turn out.

If you are thinking about having a garage sell I hope that this has given you some insight into them.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Garlic and Apple Cider

This is something that I like to make around this time of year. Butternut squash is a real treat that you can make in a variety of different ways. In fact this little recipe adds a touch of yum that few of you might not even think about. It makes a great side dish or a main course for lunch due to the thick tasty nature of the soup.

Instructions: Ingredients | Directions

This recipe is going to take you twenty minutes to prepare, cook time is a little bit longer at an hour and twenty minutes, but you’ll be already to dish up this satisfying meal in less than two hours.

Ingredients

  • Medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • A large carrot, chunked
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into large chunks
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup apple cider

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celcius. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper And lay the halved squash, carrots, sweet potato and head of garlic on the tray.
  2. Sprinkle your olive oil over the vegetables and add the seasoning (rosemary, salt, and black pepper).
  3. Bake for twenty minutes then rotate the carrot and sweet potato chunks. It is ready to take out once everything is tender, usually another twenty minutes.
  4. Once the tray has cooled and you can handle the squash spoon out the flesh and place it in a bowl. Cut your carrots and sweet potatoes into small pieces. And press the roasted garlic out, it should be easy-peasy now that it has been roasted.
  5. Place a large pot on the stove and heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Now add in your add celery and onion. Season the celery mixture with nutmeg and cayenne pepper. You should sauté until both the celery and onion are tender. Now add the apple and cook it until it is hot.
  6. Add your vegetable broth and apple cider to the celery, onion, and apple and let it boil. Once it has boiled reduce heat to medium or low, and cook at a simmer for half an hour.
  7. Mix in your squash, carrot, sweet potato, and garlic to the broth.
  8. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until you have a smooth consistency and you do not see any individual pieces.

Grandma’s Easy Meatloaf

You’ll love this easy meatloaf and wonder why it has been absent from your kitchen all of these years. This makes a great addition to your weekly menu and a fun meal to prepare with children.

Instructions: Ingredients | Directions

This recipe is going to take you about ten minutes to prepare, cook time is one hour, and you’ll be already to eat in an hour and ten minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1/3 cup ketchup

Directions

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius.
  2. Take out a large mixing bowl and combine the beef, egg, onion, milk and bread, though I will also use cracker crumbs if I don’t have the bread on hand. Season with salt and pepper to suite your family’s taste and place in a greased loaf pan.
  3. Now in a new bowl, combine the brown sugar, mustard and ketchup. Mix it until it is an even consistency then pour it over over the meatloaf, careful not to spill it on the edge of the pan since it will burn.
  4. Bake for one hour.

For Super Moms Around The World

Alright, so I have been busy. I am sure that you have noticed. Or not. That is the think with being a mother isn’t it? You would think that we’re given another set of hands once we start a family. I am sure that you know what I mean. It seems like you can be in the middle of preparing supper when the phone rings. It is the woman from the HOA and they want to know if you will be attending next weeks meeting, you would love to but there is soccer practice to go to and you have a doctor’s appointment to take your mother to. In the mean time your children have run through the kitchen and sneaked (or not so sneakily) a taste of tonight’s dessert.

Then you have to get them feed and ready for bed. Hubby needs his attention to and finally you sag into bed at 11 PM tired. Then the alarm goes off and you do it all over again.

The daily life of a suburban housewife is one of those roles that everyone seems to take for granted and yet would hardly last a day in the job.

And yet I have still found a few minutes time to sneak on here and share some of my recipes.

Honestly, I am glad that I had a chance to type some of them off. They may be better preserved like this, and they may have a chance to live on. I am a notorious recipe collector. In fact I have several volumes of them. They are in every direction. But my favorite ones are the ones that are tasty, who would have thought, and easy. This double team combination gives you a great chance to save a few minutes of your precious time and please the family as well.

I hope that you will have a chance to try the ones that appeal to you. And if you have some that you feel would make a good addition feel free to share.