Monthly Archives: January 2012

Day 28….

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Country Ribs and Sauerkraut in the Crockpot

1 apple, 1 onion, sauerkraut, country style ribs and a bottle of beer.

Drain the kraut, peel and dice the apple, chop the onion, mix those together and put in the bottom of the crockpot. Put the ribs on top of the mix, pour the beer over top and season with whatever your seasoning of choice is….mine was sea salt and ground pepper. Leave the crockpot on low for 8-10 hours.

This was absolutely delicious. And, it seemed that after I turned the pot off and let the contents just sit awhile, presumably to cool a bit, the flavors soaked into the meat even more. Such a simple meal but really really good.

Give it a try.

Maybe I should start taking pictures of these meals to entice you to try them 🙂

Thunder Down Under

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We live in an apartment complex. As would be expected there are pros and cons to this.

We do not have to mow our grass – PRO.

We have a private entry – PRO.

Maintenance will come fix a problem if we need them – PRO.

Maintenance costs $50 if your disaster happens after 5pm – CON.

Our balcony/deck is rather small – CON.

We have 20ft. ceilings in our livingroom – PRO.

We put our garbage in a dumpster for someone else to deal with – PRO.

I don’t have a yard to decorate or plant flowers in – CON.

I have nowhere to plant a garden – CON.

But….all of these pretty much balance each other out. Gain a few things, give up a few things – it’s okay. But there is one thing that tips the scale – one item that carries more weight than all the others – one thing that I find both wildly irritating and disturbingly fascinating at the same time – one major CON…..

The downstairs neighbors. We live in an upstairs unit. We’re on the end, in the corner and that part is nice. We have almost 1500 square feet, a big kitchen, a loft….we like it. I’m just not so crazy about what’s beneath us.

I have begun to really monitor my use of “dysfunctional” in relation to families because I’ve come to realize that to some degree we are all dysfunctional. Even the most mundane, ordinary, traditional families have some element of dysfunction. So I will just say that the folks living beneath us seem to have some “challenges” in the family sphere. Again, I have learned to not judge because being a parent myself has taught me that parenting is not an easy job, especially not when it involves teenagers. For about 10 years it seems that the sweet, cuddly, happy child you brought home from the hospital turns into a raging, angry, hormonal, screaming devil-child. And one of those lives beneath us. And it’s a girl version.

At 6am the she-devil cranks up the surround sound on whatever the mornings dance music channel of choice is and allows us to enjoy not only the incessant beat but also a gentle foot massage from the reverberating floor boards. Then about an hour later we get to practice our earthquake drills when she leaves for high school and slams her front door. It’s blissfully quiet during the day, well at least the weekday, until around 2pm….or sometimes around noon if she skips out of school early. By now I no longer run for shelter in the bathtub every afternoon when the door slam signals her arrival, but I have reinforced the art on the walls with sturdier hanging mechanisms. For the rest of the evening we get to enjoy continual foot massages – it’s amazing how much zing you get from the carpet! This usually lasts until around 11pm and is sometimes broken up by bits of incoherent screaming that I believe only my dog could interpret. The scary part is that I’m never sure if it’s the she-devil child or the parental figure doing the screaming.

It’s an interesting thing being able hear bits and pieces of other people’s lives. It makes me self-conscious if things get loud in our place. Even if it’s fun loud – I still tend to worry about others being able to listen in.

I love our apartment. It’s really nice and big and it suits us perfectly right now. But I have to admit, I don’t think I’ll miss the thunder from down under when the day comes that we find a quiet little house that’s just for us.

Some Days Just Suck

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You ever have one of those days where it just seems that anything that can go wrong, does? Yeah….me neither.

I’m not going to drone on about how bad my day was and all the things that just make me feel broken. I’m just going to say this: people who work in financial aid offices in universities need to take classes in tact, helpfulness, cheerfulness, compassion, honesty and above all….organization and timeliness. I will leave it at that.

The best part of my day was coming home to a house that had not been in any way destroyed or defecated in by a sweet dog. Instead, she met us at the door, happily wagging her tail, oblivious to the crap that had been the day thus far and ready and excited to just be with us.

Noting her exuberance and excellent behavior is my effort to hold true to my “resolutionless new year” and find the silver lining. Today Stella is that lining…..that and the brown beans and cornbread for dinner.

Day 7…..

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I decided that we really needed a healthy dinner. I feel like we’ve eaten nothing but crap lately. Our refrigerator looks like one that’s in a dorm room or a college student’s apartment….it’s pathetic really. We needed some quality food.

So here it is:

Salad mix, cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes and…..shrimp. Wonderful little salad shrimp. And then Lite Asian Sesame dressing. Totally delicious and the easiest meal we’ve had since delivery!!

This new menu item is a definite keeper…..

(don’t forget the wine!)

Day 1……

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So I’m a bit late writing this.

January 1st was a new menu item day. Irish Stew and Cornbread.

See, I’m Irish. I bleed green….well, that and gold and blue for the Mountaineers. But really…I feel my Irish roots deeply. I love to do traditional Irish cooking but it typically takes SO LONG that I end up taking a short cut. But not this particular day.

The grocery list:

Lamb, parsley, potatoes and onions. This isn’t a tough recipe to make – you just need to be patient.

It’s really very very delicious, and then we had cornbread to round out the stew. It is a definite “keeper”. Do you have those in your family? Recipes that you have tried and have deemed worthy of repeating for dinner? We have those. Admittedly there are some that don’t make the list….but I’m surprised at how many we keep. New things are good!!

There were 2 things that I really loved about this meal.

1. It was soul food, homemade with love and something that was comforting. I’m sure you’ve had meals like that – ones that just make you feel good. They are warm and comfortable and make you feel happy from the inside out. This is one of those, especially on a cold winter night.

2. This reminded me of home, of growing up, of smelling wonderful things coming from my grandma’s kitchen – things that were always Irish staples or variations of…. My grandma made everything from scratch and I learned to bake in the greatest little side portion to her oven. She had this oven that in addition to the regular oven had a side section that I believe was most likely intended for bread but my grandma deemed “my” oven. I learned to make cupcakes and bread and pies and cakes and brownies and anything else I could get in that little door. It’s one of many things that I remember so vividly. She was a fantastic cook and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to learn a few things, even by osmosis from her. So yeah, I think of my grandma anytime I make a recipe like this. She would’ve made this for my grandpa – and he would’ve eaten every drop and told her how amazing it was and how she knew exactly how to make everything he loved……

It’s not a recipe for everyone….but if you’re interested feel free to ask – I’ll always share a good recipe.

Happy Cooking.

A Resolutionless New Year

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Happy New Year!! It’s January 1st and I really can’t believe it. It seems that this past year has flown by. In some ways that’s a good thing….you know, in the parts of the year that were real crap – I’m glad those are moving on. But, in other ways I think I missed a lot. I think maybe I was so focused on the negative things that were going on that I failed to really enjoy the positive moments. I know there were loads of positive moments and I feel somewhat ashamed that I didn’t acknowledge them a bit more.

So today I have a resolution. I say this with trepidation because I really don’t like making new year’s resolutions. Typically within 2 weeks the resolutions are broken or forgotten or altered in some way. I’ve always tended to set rather unattainable goals it seems. So my resolution is to not make any resolutions. I’m not making a list of things to accomplish that inevitably contains losing a particular number of pounds, reading a certain number of books, exercising religiously and donating more time to charities. Sure those are great goals, but they are the same ones that I end up stating every year…..along with I’m guessing about a million other people.

This year I’m going to focus on living life. I’m going to try to daily remind myself that no one has a perfect life, that all of us face trials and bumps in the road….and they help to shape our character. Every single person has bad days, terrible things that happen in their lives and situations that they never saw coming. But every single person also has fantastic days, wonderful things that happen and pleasant surprises that they never saw coming. I think the key is to focus on those things. Yes, the tough times can get us down. And that’s okay…..it’s normal to get down and frustrated and sad and lonely and irritated and a bunch of other adjectives….but we have to remember that every morning just may be the one that brings the wonderful surprise. At least that’s what I’m going to try to remember. I’ll deal with the bad, lean on those that love me, gather strength from them when I’m not feeling so strong….and then brush myself off and realize that every day is a gift I have been given. I have people who love me and that I love more than everything. It’s time to smile.

Now, with all of that said…….I’m going to cook my way to happiness!! For me, cooking is an art. It’s a gift that some have and some don’t . I’m fortunate enough to have it. I love to cook and I love to share what I make. When I cook it’s out of love. I put a bit of my heart into every dish I make. So I’m going to cook more. I do it a fair bit as it is, but I’m going to experiment and try new things. I have a goal to try a particular number of new dishes each week….but I’ll just leave it at that since that seems a bit like a resolution.

My plan is to record what I try. Not in a Julie and Julia kind of way…..that’s been done. And quite frankly Julia Childs isn’t exactly my style. But…..I am going to occasionally mention what I’ve made and note any particular goods or bads of the dish or the process or…..well, you get it.

So, I hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful, exciting, fantastic, love-filled 2012. I hope for all of us that we can accept the bad and relish in the good. My husband said something that has stuck with me today…..”2011 was fun, but in 2012 how about letting go of the safety bar and really enjoying the ride.” Raise your hands everyone…..