Birdie Lips and Snakey toes

how I confused my kids at breakfast

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Everybody who has ever stood at the kitchen stove has heard little voices (or not so little voices) asking, “What’s for breakfast”? And when it happens every day it can get tiresome, if not outright annoying. When my children were little my struggle was to not let them know when it bothered me. I eventually hit on the idea to make it fun for me.

Fun for me ended up being introducing my kids to joking in everyday life. So, when they asked me questions (if they weren’t critical or serious) I would give them nonsense answers. Sometimes I would pretend I misunderstood them, other times just silly things would be the answer. And when chores had to be done it was easiest when we were dancing and singing around. I don’t know how many times Bunny FooFoo bopped them in the head while we were working.

To this day my kids still refer to Farina as Birdie Lips and Snakey Toes. I was feeling overwhelmed trying to get everything done in the morning and while I was making the farina, in they came. About 2 minutes apart, but with the same exact questions. I don’t know what made me say it, but that morning I got the best puzzled reactions from two little kids who learned they were eating birdie lips and snakey toes.

It’s Hot, but I Bet You Know That

eating light later at night

It’s hot, and I’m still uncomfortable and in pain. But today I’m doing better handling my crabbiness. Plants are being watered and breezes are being pursued. As soon as the sun isn’t beating down on me I like to spend as much time as I can outside.

Being outside means meals are easier if they’re quick and can be started ahead of time. I really like things like crackers or little toasts with dips that aren’t just sour cream or cheese. Little bites with cool drinks that can be spread out over time during conversation with friends and family are the best way to spend the evenings of hot, hot days. This Buffalo Chicken Dip is just the ticket. And it has the benefit of being customizable to varying tastes. I’ve listed three different variations but it’s easy enough to make more changes.

Cook the chicken ahead of time. Boil it in bay leaves, sage and other favorite spices. Bonus: you end up with some great chicken stock! Roast chicken for dinner and roast some extra for the dip the next day. Or, even the rotisserie chicken from the store will do the trick. Vary the shredded cheese, or use blue cheese. Put it all together ahead of time and you only have to pop it in the oven to warm up and melt the cheese. Follow your family’s favorite tastes and you’ll end up with a great way to relax at the end of one of these hot days.

And That’s Why I Love Him

A well-timed snark is worth it’s weight in gold

I haven’t done much in the way of cooking lately. My back muscles have been playing the random “Who’s going to spasm today?” game. After a period of time I’ve gotten pretty freaking crabby. I’ve been in the mode I like to call “I hate everything”.

The point is I’ve not been easy to live with. I’ve been enjoying a pretty well-established crabby mood. So the hubs walks into the room I’m in and and asks how I’m doing. I’m honest with him so I tell him I hate everything. And he says something stupid that makes me laugh. It makes me mad because now I’m not enjoying my crabbiness any more. It also makes me snicker because it makes me see how ridiculous I’m being. Maybe I need to bake something he’ll enjoy, like Carrot Cake.

I still crave Pasta

substitute spaghetti squash for pasta

Getting healthy means a lot of different things get changed. Different foods, more movement, and attention to portion sizes. It doesn’t mean you can never have your favorites, just less often and smaller portions. Sometimes there are substitutions that you can make that means you can have a taste of your favorite a bit more often.

Spaghetti squash is one of those things that can help your craving for pasta. Make your favorite sauce, serve it over spaghetti squash, and enjoy your dinner. I particularly like making a garlicy, buttery, sauce and finish cooking the squash for the last minute in the sauce.  Top your plate with fresh grated Parmesan and dinner is served.

My husband, however, is not a squash fan, in any form. But, if I make a rich, flavorful tomato sauce and serve it over this spaghetti squash he enjoys it. The key for him is there must be a lot of flavor in the sauce because the squash flavor is mild and it’ll be covered up by the sauce flavor.

Don’t be afraid to try unconventional sauces. Try something your family likes a lot. In my future, I want to try chili over spaghetti squash. And something with an Asian flavor. When I do, I’ll update you on my results.

Changing My Plate

how my dinner plate has changed

As I’ve gotten older and become more comfortable with dealing with an incredibly tight food budget my menu planning has changed. Previously I planned everything around my protein choice for the meal. Now, protein is really not the important part for me.

To start with I check what I have that’s really fresh and will taste good, or what’s going to go bad if I don’t use it today. Then we check what will go with it. Right now, we have a pretty fair amount of lettuce so we’ll be eating salads for the next few days. But the trick is to vary what gets put into them. Leftover protein with a warm dressing. A bunch of fresh veggies and a little fruit. A little pasta, what have you. But my husbands favorite is to use it as a side to almost anything. I’ve found it satisfying to have a side salad with my mom’s Noodles Tomaszewski. Add a little protein to the salad, hard boiled eggs or tuna, and it’s a full meal for anybody.

Feeding Your Family on a Budget

how we cope with very little income

Sometimes this is a hard thing to talk about. In my house there are three adults and none of us are employed. This is a long story involving disabilities and a really lousy job market for older people. As such, the money we have coming in barely covers our bills so grocery shopping is sometimes bleak. We depend on food banks for the large part of our groceries. When we shop for groceries I try to buy things that don’t show up at food banks. I get oil for cooking, vinegars for flavoring, spices (you can find some for a dollar), flour, sugar, that sort of thing.

You learn to stretch the food you have until you can get more. We’ve learned how quickly we use produce and we’ve started chopping, portioning and freezing things like celery, onions, and peppers. That makes fixing something like Spanish Rice a lot easier. This is a fairly quick, one-skillet meal. The recipe calls for bacon or sausage, but I’ve used other things. I really like cooking a pork roast in the crock pot, and leftover pork from that is a great protein to use for this. And, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever used fresh tomatoes because they make great salads. Canned tomatoes work wonderfully in this. Make this your own, add some cumin, or ancho chili powder, or and chili powder that your family likes. It’s a good way to stretch your protein and feed your family.