Saturday, June 15, 2013

My "Use it Up" Phase

Well folks, we are getting close to our 2-week vacation to visit family.  This is something we do every couple of years.  So, about a week ago I embarked on the "use up the pantry, fridge, and freezer" phase.  It's always good to do that from time to time.

This means when I grocery shop, I try to keep it at a minimum - snacks for the plane, milk, some fresh fruit and veggies (but I am trying to use up frozen right now).

I've had to be somewhat creative.  A little of this, a little of that.  Look, only a tablespoon of sunflower butter, might as well use that up...look, one can of chickpeas, throw that in there.

I've been using frozen fruits for my afternoon snack (except for the day I found a bee in my raspberries - yuck!)  I'm making a bunch of soups (yes, I know it is almost summer, but it's June gloom in So. Cal. and at least it's cool here most days because of it).

In the last week I've used up some pasta, a can of tomatoes, frozen meatballs, chicken breasts, a tri-tip, some corn dogs.  For Father's Day tomorrow (sorry honey, I'm winging it!) I'll probably be making more carrot-turnip soup and baked salmon and kale chips. 

I really like doing these challenges from time to time because I do get to get my creative juices flowing.  I don't get to do that much anymore with a baby (and older child...and job).

There are several foods that I have that I really need to figure out how to use up:

A pile of frozen bananas (I seem to grow the pile faster than I use them)
Frozen spinach
Frozen roasted red peppers
Frozen baby food pears (hmm...maybe I should just feed them to the baby...)
Plus some other stuff in the pantry, which will probably just have to wait until we get back.

One of my FB friends told me about, which is a website where you put in what you have and it brings up recipes.  I tested it last night with items like chicken, cauliflower, mushrooms...and I was disappointed with the results.  Then I went to Pinterest and did the same and got MUCH better options (or at least, prettier pictures), and the same with google.  Maybe I'm just not impressed with the websites that supercook pulls from.

So based on pinterest and google, tonight I'm making creamy mushroom and roasted cauliflower soup.  And either chicken in the soup or grilled on the side.  That's TBD.

The weekend AFTER we come back we have friends visiting AND it's our 17th anniversary!!  So I'm pretty sure I'm going to save that 9-lb package of grass-fed tri-tip for their visit and do my famous crock-pot tri-tip (tri-tip, salsa, crock-pot).

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The weekend cooking chores

I get so inspired by Biz's posts and the many things she cooks every week.  I have to remind myself that her kiddo is up and out, and that's a big factor in the type and amount of cooking she does.

My weekends are often filled with cooking and prep for the week.  It really depends on the week and the weekend.  Last week was the illness week.  My husband and I are both feeling behind at work.  We each took a day off with the sick kiddo.  Then I caught a bit of the bug.  Then I came home on Friday (hubby was home with the kids because school was out), and the baby had a fever (24 hour one, he seems to be fine now).  At least we are fine enough to be cooking today.

The amount of cooking a family does will depend on a lot of factors:
1.  What you like to eat
2.  The number of kids you have
3.  The ages and temperaments of your children
4.  The jobs that you have and their schedules
5.  The family you have in town (or not)
6.  The extracurriculars

I remember having a discussion with friends about this.  One friend was amazed with how much cooking the neighbor and I do sometimes.  Well, my neighbor works part time, but that means 4 days per week.  She often spends a great deal of time on Friday cooking, which gives her a head start.  Her husband makes the bread, and they often roast a chicken in their rotisserie every Sunday night.  I also work part time, but shorter days.  So I do my cooking on Saturday and Sunday, but also have an hour after I get home before dinner every night (often that time is spent feeding the baby and bottle and solid food though.)  This particular friend has a job where she is on the road a lot.  So some days she can be home early, but often it's her husband who picks up the kids.  It's hard to cook when you aren't at home.

Last weekend I only really made a pasta dish.  I made a big pot of soup the day I was home with the sick kid.  This weekend I am trying to get a bit more done.

We ate the last burrito on Thursday night, so I knew it was time to make more.  I am trying to limit my shopping right now because we're visiting family for two weeks soon, so I'd rather use up what we have in the fridge and pantry.  Usually, most of my weekend cooking chores revolve around prepping the CSA vegetables.  Washing and cutting are time consuming.

So here's the weekend plan:
1.  Cook crockpot refried beans - DONE (put them in on Friday night, and out Saturday morning.  Still have to mash.)
2.  Cook crockpot tri-tip - DONE.  My neighbor was the inspiration for this dish.  She mentioned offhand once that her boss's "Bachelor meal" is a tri-tip in the crockpot with a can or two of black beans and a jar of salsa over the top. It's now my go-to recipe for tri-tip (I do have others, but this is easy and delish.)  This was a big save too - yesterday we drove south to go play mini-golf.  We were coming home at 5:30 and were STARVING.  It would have been so easy to get a burrito somewhere.  But luckily we had a bag of sliced apples and a small bag of cashews in the diaper bag and that kept us going until we got home.  We had the beef in tacos.
3.  Make basil-arugula pesto - DONE.  It's basil season at the CSA.  I've made plain arugula pesto too, but that's pretty bitter, so I am always happy when I get both the same week.  My pesto is nut-free.
4.  Make bean-tri-tip burritos.  We start an assembly line with shredded cheese too and roll them up and wrap in plastic, put in the freezer.  This used to be just a lunch thing for hubby and I, but now it's turned into a great dinner and lunch thing for the kiddo too.
5.  Make more carrot-turnip ginger soup.  I have a bunch of carrots and turnips, and it's the only recipe with turnips that I actually like, vs. just tolerate.
6.  Wash strawberries - DONE (hubby did this)
7.  Slice another cantaloupe (when the first one is gone)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Saltines, applesauce, and gatorade.

Sounds like fun 'eh?  Big boy yesterday morning complained that his throat hurt and he had to throw up.  I told him to go to the bathroom.  He did, but nothing happened, so he came back, and threw up on the floor.  I told him to go lie in bed and use the trash can.  I cleaned up.  Baby was NOT happy to be relegated to the crib or high chair.

Hubby came home from the gym.  He told me we can't keep him in his room all day.  So he threw a sheet on the couch.  Then...big boy proceeded to throw up on the couch.  (Which is why I didn't want him on there.)

Anyway, I went off to the store with the baby to get pedialyte and crackers and applesauce and gatorade, and went to work.  Hubby stayed home all day (okay, he has totally made up for the two business trips).

Finally the puking stopped at around noon.  Starting at around 2:30, big boy got tablespoons of water or pedialyte every 15 minutes.  At 7 pm, he got 1/2 a cracker.  At 8 pm, he got the other half.  He seems to be better today, but will be kept home from school until tomorrow at least. 

We've quarantined the kids, because the last thing I need is to have this thing spread.  Big boy is on his little chair, or in his bed, or in the bathroom.  Baby is allowed in our bedroom with his newly cleaned toys, his crib, and the high chair.  I plan to keep them separated until at least Thursday, because apparently these viruses can live for 3 days.

Hubby did a ton of laundry yesterday, and I'm doing more today.  He bleached everything.  I bleached everything.  I am using the Clorox wipes on the doorknobs, fridge, and light switches about 3x a day and will bleach everything at least 2x a day.

This may seem excessive, but big boy brought home a stomach virus when he was 11 months old.  We didn't realize it until too late and we both got it.  I was down and out for a week.

He's only had a stomach thing probably 4-5 times total in  his 7 years.  The first time and the time we caught it camping with our neighbors (no running water camping) were the only times we caught it too.  So the quarantine, the obsessive hand washing, and the bleaching really does work.  I am also really glad that we buy paper towels at Costco.  These are the days you give up on your "environmental/green" side and use paper towels.  If we make it to Friday with no spreading, I'll be happy.

The one good thing about the stomach virus, unlike respiratory illnesses, is that you really aren't contagious beforehand.  When you start getting sick, that's when you are contagious.  So you don't have to worry about who you were around 2 days ago.  You DO have to be careful for the three days after.

So yesterday and today are full of Harry Potter.  We are reading book 2 and watching the movies.  Yesterday he watched movies 2, 3, 4.  He's watching movie 5 today.  Sucks to be missing the last week of school but he's not complaining.

Thus far he's had a bunch of applesauce, gatorade, and crackers today, so I think he's definitely on the mend.  I'll probably see if he can handle some bread for lunch.

Wish us luck that it doesn't spread.