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.
I’ve heard some people complain that following a recipe is too confining. But it’s really not. I’ve started looking at recipes as a foundation, so to speak. When I find a new one I’d like to try I follow the recipe exactly, the first time. Then, as I cook and try the food, I start thinking of how I want to change the recipe. This is where your creativity comes into play.
My entire family loves my mom’s recipe for french toast but I don’t always like to make the same thing over and over. Use your favorite bread, your favorite spices, or your favorite extract. Leave the sugar out of the mix and make savory french toast, serve it topped with your favorite breakfast hash. There are so many ways to make this your own.
In my kitchen the recipe frequently gets changed according to what I have in my kitchen at the time. One great variation that I found by accident was changing the bread I used. I had King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls that needed to be used but I didn’t want to just feed everybody sweet rolls for breakfast. So I split each roll in two and made them into small slices of french toast. It was wonderfully indulgent and I find myself repeating it as often as I can. And, when you want something a little less sweet and more substantial, a hearty multi-grain bread adds a great nutty flavor to this breakfast.
This recipe can be doubled, tripled, or more, without messing up the taste. Just remember for every 2 slices of bread, you’ll need approximately one egg mixture.
Getting healthy with good food and portion control
I think we can all agree that staying healthy as long as possible involves fueling our body with good, nutritious food. My problem is, and has been, that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Everybody has a new, exciting secret to quick weight loss. Well, this weight didn’t show up overnight so it’s not going anywhere that quickly.
There’s a lot of reasons to shake off this extra weight I’m carrying, not the least of which is health. So, I’ve been trying a few things and spending time in discussions with different people and I’ve come to a few conclusions. I cannot totally deprive myself to lose weight, I’ll end up breaking my diet. I can’t rule out an entire food group for the same reason. So, it looks like my best bet is to cut way back on things that I know make me gain weight (or not lose weight) and portion control.
Along that line of thinking, muffins are a good, quick food to grab and go. Except, the muffins you buy in the store are full of sugar, or big enough to feed three people. So, I found myself some muffin tins (regular size and mini) and got out my mom’s muffin recipes.
The first one is plain muffins. These are great just as they are, split open a warm one and add a dab of butter, yummm. But, there’s room for creativity. Add some favorite fruit, fresh or frozen, and a little cinnamon or allspice makes a whole new taste.
The next three recipes are ones made with breakfast cereal. My personal favorite is the oatmeal muffins. I like to add golden raisins with chopped walnuts or pecans. They make a great breakfast with the hot beverage of your choice.
Spending time with family today at home, but remembering large family gatherings in years past. Lots of fun, good food and time spent in the sun.
I remember watching parades with the generations of veterans marching in their uniforms. I didn’t really understand it all until I was more grown up. Now that I’m really grown up I am feeling very thankful to all who have served to preserve our freedom.
Now, back to the food part of the celebrations today. With all the different types of food, and the need to have some portable foods, one of the easiest desserts is Texas Sheet Cake.
It’s really chocolatey, easy to make, and easy to bring to any celebration. I prefer it to brownies and it was a staple at my mom’s house for any and all gatherings.
Mom always made it in a foil-lined sheet pan. Make sure there’s enough foil at the ends to lift the cake right out of the pan when it’s finished. Then you can cut it and repack it in any container that’s easy to take with you.
A couple tips, when you measure the cocoa, the tablespoons are not leveled off, they’re rounded or heaping. And, I know you frost every other cake when it’s cool, but not this one. Frost it right out of the oven. The frosting melts a bit and kind of melts right into the cake, soooo indulgent.
Enjoy your gatherings today, and don’t forget to give thanks to all those who have made it possible through their sacrifice.
Every year this weekend signals the beginning of summer for most of us. One of the things I remember most about summer was picking strawberries on my grandmother’s strawberry farm. It was hot, dirty work, but when you’re a kid, you take it for granted that you’re going to be hot and dirty in the summer. That’s part of the fun, mom didn’t always get so mad when you showed up at the door filthy and sweaty.
While you’re picking strawberries you get a wonderful bonus of eating some of them while you’re picking. On a farm that you know doesn’t use pesticides, let me tell you, strawberries fresh from the field, warm from the sun, that you just brushed the dirt off, were wonderful.
We always came home with strawberries, that’s how grandma paid us. We got the strawberries that weren’t picture perfect enough for her customers, but they tasted just as good. One of the things mom would make is strawberry shortcake. So easy and a wonderful fresh dessert for summer eating.
First you have to make the Baking Powder Biscuits. One thing I have found when making the biscuits, cutting in the shortening is super simple when you use your kitchen mixer. Add your shortening when it’s called for and set your mixer fairly low, it will mix it wonderfully. If you don’t have a larger mixer you can use a pastry cutter, or do it the way I did it when I was young. I used two butter knives, one in each hand, and cut through the shortening in the dry ingredients repeatedly until I got it mixed properly.
No real measurements for the strawberry part, but when I make it I use 2 to 3 cups of sliced berries, 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar depending on the sweetness of your berries, and a little lemon zest and juice if you’d like. I’ve even used just a touch of balsamic vinegar. Put your berries, sugar, and lemon in a saucepan and heat until nice and bubbly. Split a biscuit in half and spoon berries over the top. Add a little whipped cream and serve. So good.
Memories of mom’s kitchen.
Some of my most vivid memories are wrapped up around mom’s cooking. Whether it’s the smell of fresh baked bread, homemade chicken soup with noodles, or the many dishes she labored over for the holidays, it meant home. I think that’s probably why everyone wants to make sure they have mom’s recipes.
So this is an attempt to put all mom’s recipes in one place. At the same time our family has blended with other families, and each of us has gathered our own favorite recipes. Those will be added here too as I get my hands on them.
I’m starting with my own favorite comfort food that was always my request for breakfast. Mom always made it in a special dish and when she got that dish out I knew I would be a happy camper at breakfast. My mom’s recipe for Rice Pudding. It’s a little fiddly and takes some time, but it is really worth it.