Saturday, October 6, 2012

Second Go at Slow Cooker Monthly Meals

I finished my second night of Once a Month Cooking last night.  This time around, rather than using a menu that was set up by someone else for their family, I searched through the internet and some cookbooks to customize a menu for us.  The result:  4 weeks of meals (plus two weeks of lunches and some snacks and breakfast items) for $194.32.  I feel really pleased.

I tailored the menu to foods that I knew we would eat, with a few new recipes I wanted to try.  Last time, all of the recipes were new, and honestly, it was too much.  Every night was sort of a gamble, and while we did like a lot of them, particularly the Thai Coconut Chicken, it was kind of like playing dinner roulette.  I prefer to know that, at least 5 nights out of seven, we will for sure like what we're having.

One of the new recipes we tried

That said, here is our menu for dinners:

--Turkey Chili with Apples
--Creamy Chicken Stew
--Slow Cooker Jambalaya
--Saucy Pork Chops
--Beef Fajitas
--Pizza (this is not done in the slow cooker, we make dough in the bread machine)
--Breakfast for Supper
--Chicken and Dressing Casserole
--Island Pork
--Hashbrown Casserole
--Italian Stew

Each of these recipes were doubled so that we could eat them twice in the month.  We had our first new recipe this evening, and it was super good!  You can find the recipe here.  It is so autumn-y and filling!

Turkey Chili with Butternut Squash and Apples---Yum!

In my next blog entry, I'm going to make a list of things I wish someone had told me before I started Once a Month Cooking.  I'm sure as I go along I will think of a million more!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down rushing, rising rivulets.  Or, at least, that's how the song from The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh goes.  And that's how it's gone here for the past several days.  I've honestly never seen rain like we've had in the past few days.  I've seen crazy, driving rains in Illinois, tornadoes and driving winds that blew the windows out of our upstairs sunroom and tore up our barn.  But the rain here is so...rainy.  Seriously, the drops are enormous and it's more like watching water poured out of a bucket than rain.  And it lasts for days.  But, it's beautiful and soothing to hear it on the roof.  And it's really interesting to see how the river changes, swollen and muddy and rushing in giant WHOOSHES instead of the clear, rippling flow we normally have.

I am dreaming of farming again.  Right now, the only thing I'm growing is a basil plant in my kitchen window (it is gorgeous, by the way).  I passed a sign for pullets for three dollars, and I am tempted.  I think my property manager would be on board.  She's an animal lover and she's actually cleaning out a room in her home right now for two tortoises to free range in.

It is a little premature to be making big decisions, but Preston and I have been looking over home buyer's guides and dreaming of buying property here.  Our dream is still to farm and I think it would be a good place to do it.  The local residents and the local restaurants are really big on small-footprint food.  The local schools do farm tours, have school gardens, and eat local food in the cafeterias.  The students even receive a monthly local food magazine made by an organization in the surrounding counties.

In many cultures, this month is a time to honor our ancestors who have passed on.  In places like Mexico, they are remembering loved ones as they celebrate Dia de Los Muertos.  I am thinking a lot of my Great Grandpa and Grandma Cowsert and how much I loved being on their farm as a child.  I loved visiting the rabbits and chickens and eating good food from the garden and watching the corn grow.  But most of all, I am thinking about how much love a place holds when you have roots in your spot in the world and use hard work and perseverance to put them there.