Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dining In

Hello there, dear readers! I know, it's been awhile, but I know you'll all forgive me, knowing I've been moving and that all is in an uproar... The sewing stuff is still all in boxes, my summer clothes still have not been located, and I'm off on a mini vacation to visit my sister and some old friends in Missouri and Chicago with the baby. I thought I'd just pipe in with a few suggestions for this time of year. I know I've mentioned square foot gardening before, and I still think that is a wonderful way to start to do a little to make life more healthy for you and your neighbors. Perhaps you're not really ready for that... perhaps you can't afford it, or you think it's too late in the season, or you don't think you can find all the ingredients. So I have another suggestion! Make your own dinner. Make it from scratch. Make it from local, fresh, seasonal food if you possibly can, but if you can't or don't want to go to the trouble, just make something for yourself for dinner. I know, you're busy, you're really, really busy and it's just easier to pick up some fast food and eat it on the way home, or get some tuna helper and cook it all in a skillet. But really, it's not very good for you or your taste buds or the environment or small family farmers or your beloved neighbors near and far. I have a few suggestions, just in case you want to try.
Mary Jane Butters came up with the wonderful idea of a Bakeover, which you can try, I've never tried her mixes, but one can always make their own.
A Crockpot is a great investment... if you use it! Think of it as an investment, as you'll save lots of money in the future by putting it to good use.
Try a pot of soup... I love this carrot top soup for spring, it's hearty enough for supper with some bread, but not too heavy for warm weather, and cooking stove top is waaaaay cooler in the kitchen than cooking in the oven.
Even better, try the rubber chicken idea. Roast a chicken... if you work, do it on a day off, like Saturday. (If you have a big family, try more than one chicken!) Eat it with some mashed potatoes, or try some roasted potatoes with fresh parsley or carrot top greens sprinkled over the top. How about a spinach salad with hard boiled eggs and bacon dressing? Have you ever made gravy from scratch? Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry.
After dinner, when the dishes are clean, grab that chicken and pick it clean with your fingers... yeah, it's messy and greasy, but it can be fun if you're listening to a book on tape, or chatting with someone you enjoy spending time with. Try to get them to help you! Put all the leftover pieces of chicken in a glass bowl and put some foil over it and save it for dinner tomorrow night! Then put that bony carcass away in the fridge, too, or, if you have time, throw it into a big soup pot, cover it with water and simmer it for a looooong time. While it's simmering, play cards or another game with your loved one(s)... it's fun! Or, make some dessert, we always do that on Saturday night. Make some chicken broth (here's some more detailed directions). Use it for your carrot top soup a couple of days from now!
On Sunday afternoon, depending on how much chicken is left either make chicken salad (I like this one from Martha Stewart) or black bean quesadillas. These are easily made with a can of black beans, some tortillas, plum tomatoes, and some cheese, don't forget the cumin and garlic and maybe some green onions, if you like. Or add salsa, or sour cream, or make it soft tacos or burritos with rice, or whatever strikes your fancy. If you drink alcohol, grab a couple of cervezas and a lime and make it a little event! If not, make yourself some sun tea or limeade with maraschino cherries and make it an event, anyway! There's your Sunday night dinner.
On Monday, eat your soup for dinner with a really good loaf of bread that YOU like, though, if I were you I'd remember the saying, “the whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead!” Try to make some! If you live alone, go shopping for a second hand thermos and take that soup to work every day to eat for lunch!
Now you know why they call it rubber chicken, it stretches to at least 3 meals!
If you're really into saving money, keep track of what you spend on those meals and compare it to what you would have spent on eating out. Then use the extra money to go shopping at the antique or thrift store for an old tablecloth that you think would make a good apron cause we're gonna do that for the next project! Don't forget to warm up that sewing machine, or get yourself some sewing needles and a thimble that your middle finger of your sewing hand and some thread to match, or contrast nicely with, your project. And don't forget to get some really sharp scissors, or get yours sharpened... it makes the work so much more pleasurable!

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