Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I’ve decided to make some changes to the overall theme of my blog.  Not just the visual theme, as you may have noticed, but to the “journey” of my blog.  When I first started writing I was very interested in learning to live with less, learning to de-clutter my life, and to make my own products whenever possible.  That is still very important to me, but I’m not nearly as motivated as I was when this first started.  And trying to think of topics that are useful to my readers is really hard.  I definitely have a healthy new respect for people who blog for a living, it is not an easy task.

Embracing minimalism is still important to me, along with quite a few other things.  But sometimes there are things that I want to share on my blog that aren’t particularly useful to anyone, they’re just fun.

For example: Check out this awesome website I found!

Photo courtesy of peasandcrayons.com

Photo courtesy of peasandcrayons.com

Peas and Crayons is both a food blog and an art blog.  The food that she blogs about is heavy on vegetables, which is important to me, since the only defense I have against the inhumane practices of our food industry is to eat less meat.  It’s also very creative and looks excellent.  I hope you take a few minutes to check it out.

 

On other news, I made the best grilled cheese sandwich the other day.  My husband and our roommate have been on a bread making spree lately. On their first try they made these big fat round loafs.  1416613892938_IMG_20141118_133213_434

Being chefs, they weren’t happy with the result, but they tasted great.  I cooked up some bacon and put it into between two giant pieces of bread with about 4 slices of cheese.  I have been thinking about it all week.  Sooooo good.

 

 

Pancakes and a 5K

Photo Courtesy neilarey.com

Photo Courtesy neilarey.com

So my husband has been unhappy with the way that he looks for as long as I’ve known him.  However, he’s one of those guys that complains about his looks but doesn’t lift a finger to do anything about it.  While I am aware that he carries a little more weight on him than he probably should, I have always thought he was handsome, and I would continue to be attracted to him even if he never changes a thing about himself.  However, he is always in pain.  He’s a chef, so he is on his feet all day long, on busy days he may stand in the exact same spot for 9 or 10 hours.  His job would cause him discomfort even if he was at the ‘ideal weight’, but he is in pain all the time.  He has terrible knee and ankle pain, and his back and shoulders are almost always aching.

About three weeks ago he was going through an extremely bad spell and had been especially miserable for several days.  One day he came home from work and could barely walk.  I’d finally had enough.  I’ve been working hard to get myself into shape for a few months now, and have been going to a Zumba class two or three times per week.  I’m not losing weight the way I’d like, but I am feeling better.  I have more energy, I sleep better, I have fewer aches and pains.  So I know that if my husband starts to exercise and lose weight that he will feel better too.  I told him that we were going to start walking.

The first week I made sure that he had breakfast every morning, and woke him up 15 minutes early everyday to take a walk with me and our son before I had to leave for work.  This didn’t really work out.  I would walk, my son would ride his bike, and my husband would shuffle along behind us and whine about having to wake up early.  This would usually result in an argument, and I was late for work every single day.  The next week I would send him text messages to remind him to walk everyday, but I don’t think he ever actually took a walk.

I finally decided that he needed a goal to work toward.  I informed him that we were going to run a 5K together.  I found this great plan on Pinterest called Eight Weeks to 5K.  It establishes a plan where you run every other day, and on the other days you do squats and calf raises.  It starts off really easy with a two minute walk and a two minute run (two sets), and increases in difficulty every day of training.  It’s been going pretty good so far, until this weekend.  My husband’s truck broke down, so he’s been working on that for a couple of days, and I can’t bring myself to make him go for a run when he’s been under his truck all day.  But the training plan is hanging up on the door, where we see it everyday, and I have one on my desk at work, so I’m confident we’ll get back on track.  But since it’s been a couple of days, we’ll probably just start over with our training.

I am still trying to make sure that my husband and I have breakfast every morning, as it is so important to get our metabolism off to a good start.  Some mornings it’s just cereal, but I try to change it up so that it doesn’t get boring.  One morning I made pancakes using a recipe that I found on allrecipes.com.  It was so simple.  I woke up on Monday morning, made the batter and the pancakes, and still had time to eat breakfast, get ready for work, and leave for work on time.  I wanted to share it with you.

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Photo Courtesy of allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 tspn baking powder

1 tspn salt

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

3 tblspn melted butter

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, and melted butter.  Mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Enjoy!

 

Oh, I almost forgot!  We recently got a new roommate.  He’s a chef, like my husband.  For those of you who do not have two chefs living in your house…this is what happens when they both have a day off together. :)

Smoked Pork Roast and Collard Greens!

Smoked Pork Roast and Collard Greens!

 

Wardrobe swapping, blanching veggies, and vodka sauce.

 

As I look around my house, I’m well aware that all signs of the hard work that my husband and I did just a week or so ago has been erased. For once, it’s not because we were too lazy or forgetful to maintain our clean house. In fact, the state our house is in today, is proof of all the work we’ve been doing this morning.

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Winter seems to have finally visited Florida. I even had to turn the heat on last night, I’m pretty sure the temperature dropped down to the forties. Winter in Florida is different than any other winter I’ve experienced (not that my experience is vast).  This is especially true near the beach.  When the wind blows, even temperatures that are just in the low 50’s feel frigid, and it can take hours to warm back up if you’re outside for any length of time.  I know that winter is not here to stay, at least not yet, but summer is definitely over.  That means that it’s officially time to put away the summer clothes and pull out the winter clothes.  I sent my husband up into the attic today and he pulled out some clothes that we haven’t in three or four years.  It’s almost like having a whole new wardrobe, I’m very excited.  Of course, that means that laundry is the word of the day.   I’m pretty sure that I spent at least 2 hours folding the clothes that my dear husband was kind enough to launder earlier this week, only to have the basket fill right back up with the winter clothes that are being put back into rotation.

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Since we’re going through our closets and dressers anyway, we decided to use this as an opportunity to do some purging.  Anything torn or stained was trashed.  Clothes that we don’t wear anymore because they no longer fit, or we just don’t like them anymore, was bagged and earmarked for the thrift store.  This ended up being a bigger chore than either of us expected.  There are three bags of clothes sitting by the door to go to the thrift store, along with a Rubbermaid bin of maternity clothes and a giant bag of children’s clothes that will go to the consignment shop.  Our summer clothes were put into vacuum bags, and stuffed into the attic.  Hopefully we won’t forget they’re there before summer roles around.  It didn’t seem like such a daunting task when we first started, but we started working at 10:30 this morning and worked continuously until 3:30, when my husband had to go to work.  I am one exhausted mama, but I’m very happy to have this chore behind us.  Not to mention that there is a ton more space in our closets and dressers now that we’ve cleared them out.  And it’s kind of like having a whole new wardrobe since I haven’t seen these winter clothes in such a long time.  I’m really pretty excited about it.

Photo courtesy of myfirstapartment.com

Photo courtesy of myfirstapartment.com

We all know that it’s better to buy fresh vegetables whenever possible, but sometimes that can be hard on the budget.  Even when you can find fresh vegetables that you like and are affordable, they tend to go bad so quickly, that you can still end up wasting your hard earned money if you can’t find a use for them quickly enough.  It would be ideal if you could freeze your vegetables and make them last longer, but fresh vegetables don’t freeze well. So then you have to choose, do you buy canned or frozen vegetables that will stay good until you’re ready to use them?  Or do you buy fresh vegetables that are better for you but can’t be frozen?  I was pondering this exact conundrum just the other day when my wonderful chef husband mentioned something off hand about blanching vegetables. For those of you who aren’t familiar with blanching, it’s just about the  simplest way to cook vegetables, and is often used for vegetables that are intended for a sauce, because blanched vegetables absorb flavor so well.  Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, and have a bowl of ice sitting near your pot.  Drop your vegetables into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then scoop them out and drop them into the ice.  Voila!  You’re veggies are blanched.  Easy.  And, now your vegetables are cooked, which means that now they can be frozen. I did this a few weeks ago with some fresh mushrooms.  I love having fresh mushrooms, but they only stay good for about three days, so I never buy them, because it’s such a waste of money when they go bad.  Well a couple of weeks ago, I got my fresh mushroom and I cut them into small pieces to use for easy use.  I blanched them and then put them into individual baggies, and put them in the freezer.  About a week ago I took one bag out to use for some vodka sauce I was making.  It worked beautifully.  The mushrooms defrosted very quickly, so I was able to put them right into the pan with the other vegetables I was sauteing without slowing the process down too much.

By the way, I think that Vodka sauce is just about the best sauce out there for any noodle dish.  It’s the perfect compromise between Alfredo sauce and red sauce.  It took me about an hour and a half to make it from scratch.  I could have let it cook down longer, but I hadn’t really planned ahead, and it tasted awesome as it was.  I started by making my red sauce.  I made it the same way that I make meat sauce for spaghetti or lasagna, except that I didn’t use any meat.  Instead I just used vegetables: squash, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, yum.  Click here for my lasagna sauce recipe.  Once the red sauce was cooking nicely I added a cup of vodka, and then started on a white sauce.  My mom gave me a great cookbook called More-With-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre.  The cookbook has some great recipes, but it also gives you ideas for re-purposing left overs.  But the recipe that I have gotten the most use out of is the white sauce.  A good white sauce is the base for many other sauces, and really opens up a lot of recipe opportunities.  At this point, I can make it without using a recipe, but that doesn’t do you any good.  So, here is the recipe straight out of More-With-Less for a basic white sauce:

  • In a heavy saucepan melt in 2 Tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • Blend in, cooking and stirring until bubbly 2 Tablespoons of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Using a wire whisk to prevent lumps, stir in 1 cup of milk
  • Cook just until smooth and thickened. 

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I added some mozzarella cheese to that recipe, and once I had the texture and taste to my liking, I added it to the red sauce.  I let that all cook together, while I cooked a package of three-cheese tortellini.  It was so good.  How good was it?  My little guy cleaned his plate and asked for more in less than 10 minutes!  Definitely a record.  And since I only used enough sauce to coat the tortellini, I had a ton left over, which went right into the freezer for later use.