Thursday, November 29, 2012

Clean, then decorate!

I love Christmas. As in, ever since my favourite blogs marked Christmas in July I've been counting down for the real thing, and driving my co-workers crazy with daydreams of fireplaces, snow falling softly, fancy Christmas baking and pretty, pretty lights. I start singing carols in the shower in September, much to my husband's chagrin. I know that there can't really be too much of a good thing, but out of respect for our veterans, I try to show some restraint and keep my Christmas spirit on the down low until at least November 12th. Actual Christmas decorating is verboten until December 1st, to keep the peace under our little roof. So you'd think that with all this anticipation I'd be ready for it, even a little bit?

My house is a hot mess.

Cue 40 hour work weeks, multiple workouts on weeknights, and too many nights on the couch letting Mr. TV woo me away from the task(s) at hand.

So, bring on the weekend! It's time to conquer this cluttercastle and get my Christmas spirit out of the storage locker and all lit up in here!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hormones and perspective

You know you're hormonal when: World Vision calls to ask you to sponsor another child and you immediately burst into tears, while they're still on the line.
As if it's not bad enough that there are children in the world starving, with nothing, here I am sitting here in our warm home, with plenty of food, clean water, feeling completely sorry for myself.
I felt so bad, as soon as I said I couldn't sponsor another child, because my husband got laid off from work last week. I told the rep that obviously we will continue to sponsor our current sponsor child, Demba, but that we are trying to cut back on everything else we can think of.
The World Vision rep actually started consoling me and told me that what we are doing is already enough. She also said she hopes that everything will work out for us. I guess I just hadn't really cried yet about the change in our circumstances, not that they're that bad, compared to kids in the third world. That, I think, is what frustrates me. I, mistakenly, thought that without Paul's income, we'd be poor, but I was wrong, we'll still be among the richest top percentage of the world. Seriously. Sometimes all you need is some perspective :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Trifle Cake

The other day was a co-worker's birthday so I decided to bring a cake into work for her. It's chocolate cake soaked in raspberry juice/syrup, then the first layer of cake was covered in canned raspberries and whipped cream. The top layer is another soaked cake topped with whipped cream, milk chocolate drizzle and raspberries.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Much Loved Meatloaf

Tonight's dinner is a tasty meatloaf, made from the same recipe my mother and paternal grandmother have used for as long as I can remember. It is awesome for freezer cooking because it's really not much work to put together and freeze into casserole dishes, the trick is remembering to thaw it out early enough in the day. I freeze mine raw because I find that they dry out if baked, frozen, and baked/reheated again. It takes about 1 and a 1/2 hours to bake at 350*F once it's thawed. It's the perfect meal for one of those chilly, rainy, August days. Yes, that's right, chilly and raining today, in August, brrrr.

Much Loved Meatloaf:

Family Pack of Lean or Extra Lean Ground Beef
4 Eggs
2 Cups of Oats
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 Cup of Ketchup
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients together and press into freezer/oven safe casserole dishes. I like to use disposable tin casserole dishes since this is quite a messy one to clean up. (Note, big messy clean-up tonight, Corningware...)

1 1/2 Cups of Ketchup
1 1/2 Cups of Brown or Golden sugar

Mix together and spread over meatloaves.

Bake at 350F* for 1 and a 1/2 to 2 hours.

Linked to Coupon Cooking's "Tasty Traditions"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cream of Yam, Bacon and Leek Soup

Tonight we reaped the benefits of freezer cooking! Hubby and I got a case of the (really) lazies last night and got take-out but tonight it was time to bite the bullet and defrost something. I often forget about all the goodies we have tucked away in our freezers...

The only photos I have of the soup in question are from last freezer cooking day, here it is cooling off a bit in a casserole dish before I bagged it to freeze.

And here we are all ready to freeze!

So the recipe is a little, um, wing it!


2 Cups of chopped Leeks (I used to use onions, so try whichever your preference is for)
1 package of Bacon, cut up
4-6 large Yams, peeled and cubed
4 Liters of Milk
1 Cup of Butter
Approximately 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
Garlic, Salt and Pepper to taste, and a pinch of Nutmeg if desired.
Water, to thin out consistency if soup is thicker than desired.

In a large skillet or wok, fry bacon until partially cooked, add leeks and fry until bacon is crispy and leeks are limp and bright green. Set aside.
In a large pot make a roux, melting the butter on low heat and adding flour until it forms a soft ball. (I find that a wooden spoon works best.) Whisk in milk gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add yams, bacon and leek mixture, stir and bring to a boil. Add spices and cook on medium heat until yams reach desired consistency.

Yeilds: Approximately 8 Liters of soup.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just Jammin'

Jam day went well, I think. I came out with ten 250ml jars of Raspberry-Strawberry-Blueberry jam. I ended up using a long-boil recipe with no pectin, just the berries and sugar. I also canned six 250ml jars of Raspberries in light syrup. They are lovely on vanilla ice cream in the middle of winter. Here are some pics from the kitchen:

Here is the fruit pureƩ boiling in the big pot. I am really glad I used the big pot because the jam really started to spit when it got boiling, there was jam everywhere. It had to be boiled for 20+ minutes and stirred almost constantly to prevent scorching.

Then I put the jam in the jars, centered the lids with the magnetic lid lifter thingy and put the bands on finger-tight.

Into the canner we go!

Raspberries in light syrup awaiting their turn in the canner.

The finished products!

All told, making the jam and canning it took me about 3 hours. Hopefully next time I can do it quicker :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

First time canning, let's hope I don't get in a jam!

Hehe, in a jam...Anyways... Tomorrow I am going to make jam for the first time. Now, I've been present for the making of many, many, jars of fantastic jams and jellies made by various family members but did I pay attention to how they really did it? No. So tomorrow will be a brand new adventure! Thankfully I have the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving to keep me on track. And I already called my mom for pointers.

I will also be doing some more freezer cooking to supplement the meals we still have from the last big cooking weekend. After all that work it makes me a little nervous to see the stockpile of frozen dishes starting to dwindle. Tonight I stopped at the Wholesale Club to buy beef for tomorrow's cooking but to my dismay it was all marked best before tomorrow! Much to my delight, however, some of the packages were marked 30% off! So I bought two and pre-cooked the beef tonight just to be on the safe side and it will be less work tomorrow. I also slammed together 2 meatloaves which are now in the freezer, ready to go.

Earlier this week I got a super deal on bottom round steaks at Thrifty's. They were $5.99/lb., so two large steaks in a package were about $5.00 each, with a $2.00 off department coupon for short dating. Since they were good for another 4 days I bought 4 packages, cut each steak in two and repackaged them in Ziploc freezer bags with marinade. All this really means is that we will have 4 BBQ steak dinners for about $0.75 per serving. Sweet deal!

Overall I am really enjoying the rewards of freezer cooking, we've had more time in the evenings to go for walks and spend time with friends and family, I spend less time in the kitchen prepping, cooking and cleaning after work, and so far our grocery budget is hanging in there. I think we will spend less on groceries this way in the long run but it has been a large investment to start. Here's hoping it pays off financially in the same way it's been paying off in the time department!