Sunday, May 29, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Chelsea Market Makers

Chelsea Market Makers by Michael Phillips and Cree LeFavour gives readers a peek inside Chelsea Market.  The book is divided into topics arranged alphabetically and even includes a section on gifts. This book is best suited for people with a specific interest in Chelsea Market or those interested in a very wide variety of cooking topics/techniques.  The recipes seemed to fall on one of two sides. On one side the dishes were too far out there as far as ingredients for a very rural cook like myself  - like the squid ink linguine that calls for fresh sea urchins.  The other side had dishes that I already make all of the time - like chow chow.  For the record I prefer to stick with my southern version of chow chow.  I did note some middle of the line recipes but not enough to warrant actually keeping the book in my library.

This is not necessarily a bad cookbook.  It simply is not for me.  If you are looking for a broad cookbook that covers a bit of everything, check out Chelsea Market Makers from the library and see if it is for you.

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pantry Challenge Week 4

I think I have at least two more weeks at least of the pantry challenge.  I ended up being a bit over this week but hope it will balance out next week.  Part of the problem is that I needed some items to test a recipe for a book review.  We also added a couple of junk food items to the cart again this week.  With last week's uneaten junk food purchases, I should be able to stick better to the budget next week.

I spent $29.49.  I dug out $1.49 in change from my wallet and will consider myself $3 over for the week.  Here is I purchased:

Penne Pasta
Crushed Tomatoes
Plain Yogurt
Whipping Cream
Sour Cream

What we ate:

Pasta with Vegetables & Bread sticks:  Gardens here are starting to produce.  My aunt gifted me some zucchini & yellow squash.  I sauteed both with chopped onion, dried tomatoes (last year's garden), and some of the mushrooms.  I added in cooked penne, Parmesan cheese (left from last week), and garlic.  It was a made up recipe, but we both loved how it turned out.  I will definitely make it again.  The bread sticks were homemade, and I put two portions in the freezer for future meals.

Grilled Cheese:  I was aching from moving boxes of tile, and W was feeling better so he took care of this meal.

Homemade Corn Dogs with Zucchini Tots:  I was trying to make good use of the squash we were gifted.  Honestly I was a bit surprised at how much W liked them.  These will definitely be on the menu again.

Pizza & Salad:  Nothing spectacular, but I was able to add peppers and cucumbers from the garden to the salad.

Burrito Bowls:  I had extra filling left from making burritos.  I served that with chopped lettuce, salad, sour cream, and corn chips.

Hamburgers and Chips:  This was an easy quick meal one evening.

Pizza:  W had been asking for homemade pizza.  I had two portions of dough in the freezer.  I topped it with cheese (already on hand), mushrooms (also on hand), pepperoni (from the freezer), and banana pepper (garden).

Baked Chicken Tenders and Oven Fries:  I coat the chicken tenders in homemade breadcrumbs to make them crunchy even though they are not fried.  The oven fries are simply potatoes sliced into strips and soaked in water to remove some of the starch.  I then toss them with olive oil and salt/pepper before baking them.  They turn out crisp and are cheaper and healthier than purchasing frozen fries.

Big Salads:  We had two chicken tenders left over.  I served these in a big salad of lettuce and vegetables from the fridge/garden and homemade salad dressings.

Egg Salad and Chips:  I am never lacking for eggs.  This made an easy after church meal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Garden Update

I spent some time weeding the garden earlier this week so it was a good time to take some pictures.

This bed has very tiny lettuces, hibiscus, two volunteer tomato plants, two eggplants, zinnias, cosmos, and yarrow.

I have basil, blue hyssop, and chamomile.  The chickens love the chamomile which is the reason for the white wire shelf.  Hopefully now the chamomile can have a chance to grow.  I plan to add in more basil and some radishes to this bed.

The potted herbs are doing well.  I want to move them to a pallet saved from having our tile delivered.

The lemongrass has continued to grow like crazy.  I need to cut it back and dry some of it.

One of the lemons.  I think I have about 10 this year.

This bed currently only has bee balm, but I plan to add in some blue salvia.

The cucamelons are growing very well.  I pushed the containers up against the fence to allow them to run along it.

My bed of peppers continues to be filled with marigolds.  I need to find somewhere else to move some.

Cherokee Purple Tomato

Yellow Pear Tomatoes - Definitely one of my favorites to grow

Jalapeno peppers on plants that regrew from last year's stalks

Pineapple Sage

This is a mixture of things.  On the left are some loquat trees that my uncle gave me.  In the middle is a piece of pineapple sage.  To the right are two pomegranate cuttings and one fig cutting that I am trying to root.

W's first avocado tree grown from seed.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekly Savings

W was sick for most of last week so I did not do much of anything.  I ended up having to take him to the doctor.  The visit was covered by insurance, and his medicine was around $12.  I also used some home remedies to help him recover and keep myself from getting sick.

I did laundry on days when it was sunny so the clothes could be hung on the line.

I harvested lemon balm, pineapple sage, mints, and chives from the garden. 

I baked two loaves of bread.

In anticipation of busy weeks ahead, I made burritos and cheesesteak sloppy joe filling for the freezer.  I had everything on hand for the burritos except tortillas which I purchased with extra grocery money earlier this month.  I bought mushrooms on sale and had all of the other ingredients for the sloppy joe filling.

My aunt gifted me with zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers from her garden.

My uncle gifted me with a bucket full of blueberries.  I kept some for fresh eating and froze the rest.

Those are the highlights from here.  I hope everyone had a thrifty week!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

This weekend's post is a mix of genres.  I have been enjoying reading books that I would not normally choose.

Painting Water by Teresa Waugh was originally released as a hardback book in 1985.  It has recently been re-released as an e-book.  I was very interested to read the book as it was described as  woman looking back over her life as she lay dying.  This is not exactly true.  It is simply the story of a woman (Alice) and her family/friends.  She only looks back over her life at the very end.  I was disappointed in the story line.  To me it was nothing more than people complaining about their own lives as well as the choices those around them made.  The whining seemed endless.  I lean toward the side of finding contentment in life, and none of the characters were content at all.  At the same time they did nothing to change the situations.  As much as I wanted to like the book, I just hated it.

I have mixed feelings about My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E Simmons.  I thought this would be an interesting look into a country that I will never visit.  While I did find some of the stories and descriptions in the book compelling, I was put off by the writer.  She goes on and on with how empathetic she is.  Considering actions speak louder than words, I am not convinced she possesses that character trait.  Ms. Simmons did choose to travel to North Korea for 10 days.  Her handlers/guides live in North Korea.  I was also put off by the author's unnecessary use of profanity.  In the end I found this book to be just average.

Morgue by Dr. Vincent DiMaio and Ron Franscell is not for everyone.  While not overly gory, some of the descriptions may be upsetting to readers as they are true stories.  I enjoyed reading about Dr. DiMaio's process.  The cases cover a wide time frame.  It also brings to light how the smallest detail can be the difference between an innocent person being free and going to prison.  This book was easily my favorite of the three books I read this week.  I stayed up much too late reading as it was so hard to put down.

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pantry Challenge Week 3

My spending was a bit over this week from the $25.  I had money from the gift category and my mom's contribution toward the food for the bridal shower(*).  I also had some money left from the previous week.  Finally I totaled up all the change in my wallet to give me the amount I spent with a bit of change leftover.

This week's spending was $43.43.  Here is what I purchased:
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Dry Vegetable Soup Mix*
Fresh Corn
Parmesan Cheese*
Plain Yogurt*
Frozen Spinach*
Frozen Pizza

What we ate:

Frozen Pizzas and Salads:  We spent way to much time at the home improvement store, and I needed something quick.  The pizzas were much cheaper than take out.  We had all of the salad fixings at home.

Ham Sandwiches and Corn on the Cob:  The ham was from the freezer.  I wanted to make use of some rolls so I turned them into mini sandwiches.  The corn was on sale again.  This is probably my last purchase from the grocery store as the corn is getting too old (mature) to be good as corn on the cob, which is our favorite way to eat it.

Ham and French Toast:  I used the rest of the ham to round out a breakfast for supper meal of French toast.

W ended up catching a stomach bug that is circulating around.  He only ate a baked potato and some bananas over the rest of the week.  I ate whatever I could round up from the freezer and used some home remedies to keep myself healthy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Yearly Goal: 52 Small Changes - Update

Anyone remember back at the first of the year I planned to work through the book 52 Small Changes?  Things started off well, but as work on the new house progressed I spent less time on the small changes.  Not one to just give in I decided to start all over at the end of April.

Week One:  I found that drinking more water was much easier this time around.  I start my day with one cup of water before I allow myself any coffee.  I find myself actually craving water first thing in the morning now.

Week Two:  A set sleeping schedule has been much harder.  Many days after I finished chores in the old house, working on the new house, and feeding up I still needed to work in the garden.  I am going to continue to work on this.  As long as I am getting enough sleep, I will not stress over it.

Week Three:  This week I have worked on moving more.  I bought myself a pedometer to keep track of my steps.  This was a much more economical purchase for me.  I also wanted something simple. I hope to gradually start increasing the amount of walking I do each day.