Ladies and Gentlemen - this is NOT a time for salad.
Range Fries with Bacon and Homemade Queso.
Cook up some Waffle Fries, a couple big handfuls per servings (I love the Alexia brand sweet potato waffle fries, regular waffle fries will work),
Fry up 1/2 to 1 pound bacon (depending on whether you are doing 2 or 4 servings)
Keep warm until ready to assemble or cook while you're making your sauce
For the queso (makes enough for four servings, and will reheat nicely)
In a sturdy cooking pot heat on low until steaming (do not be tempted to raise heat)
-1 a teaspoon of butter
-1 cup half and half on low until steaming
SLOWLY stir in, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and maintaining the temperature on LOW
-3/4 pound deli white american cheese, that you've finely shredded) do NOT use the cheap stuff
-1/2 pound deli fontina, also very finely shredded
When melted, add:
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped canned green chilis
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp Penzey's roasted garlic powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp dried cilantro or 1/4 tsp oregano
-dash of salt and pepper
Layer fries and bacon and top with cheese. If you like, pop it under the broiler for a moment to bown up the top (optional)
Serve immediately with a cold beer or beverage of your choice
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
But it does give me a different perspective on how very different, and how very alike, we all can be.
Names have been changed to protect the guilty. Remember a couple of years ago and a talk of a looming bacon shortage?
Me: OMG Aporkalypse!
A: (pulling out the news article and passing it around) I sent messages last night to the guys on Facebook warning them about a possible bacon shortage!
B. How did they react?
A. (with a look of concern) "Dude, they unfriended me!
I understand, because even though I eat a lot of fruit and veggies and bean and grain based proteins, I LOVE my bacon. Especially THIS Bacon - brought to us from Indiana.
Everyday friends like you on Facebook
It's Friday night - WHAT to do with the bacon? How about cheeseburgers with bacon caramelized with honey, molasses, bourbon and chili? (yes, some wine was harmed in the shooting of this food post).
Posted by Brigid at 8:20 PM
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
This post isn't about the habits of those on public assistance, as it's easy to criticize. But I wanted simply to give an example of how, with a little planning, you can feed a family for much LESS than the amount of money normally allocated in such programs (about $194 per person per month) even assuming you contribute nothing of your own money towards your family meals.
This weeks food - $50 for the two of us, including a sweet bread and some cookies. I've rounded everything up to the nearest half dollar. I do the bread baking on Saturday and make cookies or some other baked treat. I make soup or stew on Sunday and chopped and Tupperware the veggies so there's little time to prepare them on a work night. Many meals are meat free, with beans and grain for complete protein. Nothing is wasted, so there's always little bits of peppers or chilis or such in the freezer to add to soup and beans dishes as well as some bones with a little meat on them for soups. Any leftovers not immediately eaten are frozen for lunches the following week. We have brewed iced tea, not pop, and I'll make an "energy drink" out of a splash of fruit juice mixed with 2 Tablespoons of Braggs apple cider vinegar and lots of water and carried in a recycled glass beverage bottle.
So total food and treats if one is closely watching the budget and has essentials on hand in bulk already - $200 for the month for two adults.
We are blessed with a good education (I paid for mine 100% on my own, my husband was blessed with parents, having done so themselves, were able to help him significantly). With that, we have jobs that pay very well But being raised by parents that understood a budget, mine growing up in the Great Depression, we are quite fine eating on a budget so that there is money available for unexpected expenses, helping family members and charities, including 100% of all the sales of the Book of Barkley and Saving Grace to animal rescue. That's important to us.
There have been years we've gone in with others for a 4-H cow, the cost per pound being really low, but this year, with a move, and remodeling, we just watch for sales.
Range "MackMuffin" with whole wheat sourdough bread rounds.
But it takes planning - don't wait until you lose your job before establishing a larder of bulk supplies. Do it when times are plentiful, and you'll have less to worry about later, because it's vital that you have certain items stored up to make a super cheap meal plan work. You will need to spend a months worth of food budget minimum, laying in supplies if you want the absolutely minimum cost on dried and bulk items, not something that's practical once the emergency strikes.
Bread - I make it from scratch, using a sourdough starter made out of wild yeast in place of commercial yeast and a food processor, it takes minutes to prep, then just the rise and bake time for a couple of loafs and a batch of muffins or rolls. An hour of prep, time to rise, and a couple of hours to bake up everything, and I've got bread products for the week for a couple of bucks.
Wild yeast sourdough starter
Shopping - I will hit 3 stores if it saves me 3 or 4 bucks, as long as the gas to go there doesn't eat up the difference. I regularly check ads to see what's on sale where and I'm not afraid to clip a coupon. Make sure you look at your receipt - I've been charged other than the sale price at a couple of the big chain grocers. I make a list. If I see something super cheap not on the list, I will pick it up to add to the larder. I will NOT buy something just because "it looks good!" if it's not on the list,
Home canned: salsas, applesauce (I trade bread/cookies for huge bag of apples each Fall with non baking colleague who has a bunch of trees), some veggies, barbecue sauce
frozen soup bones from previous roasts
powdered milk, vegetable oil, peanut butter, pasta
vinegar and spices in bulk
rice and dried beans - in bulk
flour and sugar - in bulk
water - we take refillable thermoses to work, the tap water here tastes good and frankly, half of the bottled water is from a tap in some other city plus we keep a minimum of 3 months of bleach treated water, per person (including the dog) with prepping supplies.
4-H cow burgers with homemade buns
Cost - About $50 for the week for Partner and I and that included a number of meals with meat and eggs.
Daily Goal - 3 servings of protein
5 servings of fruits and veggies
A treat (usually a cookie, sometimes a piece of pie when fruit is plentiful and cheap)
3 servings of whole grain carbs (my husband may eat more, the bread is super cheap to make)
2 servings dairy
Use of the bulk items for the week (spices, flour, bones, powdered milk, dried beans, oil, vinegar) $6.00
coffee or tea for the week (made at home and carried to work) $2
One small package chicken thighs (sale) $2
package of boneless breasts (for sandwiches) (free - this was a buy one get one from the previous week)
1 pound ground beef $4 (if money was extra tight, I would replace with lentils for meat sauce or sloppy joes on the homemade bread)
Fresh Green Beans - $2
Fresh squash - $2
2 Cucumbers (great with rice vinegar and a dash of honey as a salad) $1.50
2 bags of apples (Aldi) $5
Veggies: a number of cans purchased on scratch and dent clearance $4 total
Carrots: 2 bags on sale for $1.50
3 pounds oranges (sale) $2
eggs - free - bartered with homemade bread for someone that has chickens but doesn't bake
bananas .50 cents for a bunch on sale
Tibetan curried lentils
Potatoes 5 pound bag on sale .99 cents
2 onions $1.50
package of whole romaine for sandwiches and salad $1
1/4 deli pound swiss (sale) $1
1/2 pound mozzarella $2
Canned mushrooms (sale).50
Bag of peppers (Aldi sale) $2
Big tub of cottage cheese (or plain yogurt) $5
Bag of frozen dried berries (for oatmeal and/or muffins) $2
Generic boxed mac and cheese .50
Butter (free with $25 grocery purchase)
Ham and Bean soup
Even better, there will be some soup and beans to be frozen for a lunch the next week
Any leftover cheese or chicken will be mixed with leftover pasta for a casserole or stuffed baked potatoes the following week.
Menu for the week:
Breakfast - work day oatmeal (with some powdered milk and cinnamon mixed in) and tea or coffee or egg with toast or a homemade muffin
sourdough raspberry muffin
weekend - hash-browns with any leftover onions and scrambled eggs or omelette or pancakes made with leftover plain yogurt and a fried egg
Lunch - For Partner: peanut butter or chicken sandwich (sliced or chicken salad with veggie or fruit bits left from the previous weekend) with Swiss and homemade mayo and an apple
Homemade baked potato chips (400 F. oven, lightly coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with non stick spray. Slice potatoes super thin with food processor and place 1/4 inch apart on sheet. Season and bake, rotating halfway trough until golden brown - about 30 minutes)
extra fruit for afternoon snack
homemade peanut butter or oatmeal cookie
For me: baked potato with a bit of salsa and cottage cheese with some carrots, applesauce for dessert
Cottage cheese or leftover soup or casserole from the freezer with a slice of bread and a small apple
an extra fruit for a snack
Lebanese herbed rice - with homegrown herbs and bulk cow, less than .75 cents a serving
weekend lunches - boxed mac and cheese to which I've added a little leftover corn, a little leftover chicken or ground beef, a little pepper and salsa, topped with buttered bread crumbs and baked
canned green beans
Leftover barbecue shredded chicken served on homemade rolls with extra sauce and canned corn.
Baked potato stuffed with leftover veggies, salsa, cheeses, whatever bits are in the fridge.
leftover soups or stews (frozen)
(1) Split Pea Soup (from Scratch) with potatoes and onions (beef bone to add seasoning)
Cornbread from scratch
(2) Meat Sauce and Pasta (made with from scratch sauce from previous week, adding peppers and ground beef).
Garlic toast (homemade bread, a little oil and garlic powder toasted in a pan)
(3) Baked potatoes stuffed with meat sauce with a sprinkle of cheese or lasagne bread (meatsauce, 3 cheese stuffed day old rolls)
Can of peas and carrots
Fresh green beans
(4) Homemade lentil soup (beef bone and spices for seasoning)
(5) Chicken with homemade canned barbecue sauce
Remainder of fresh green beans
(6) Pizza Night - deep dish this time, homemade. topped with homemade Canadian bacon (much cheaper than the store bought), leftover veggies bits and cheese
Romaine salad with cucumber and homemade vinaigrette. Croutons made out of older bread.
(7) White beans with ham shank and spices
Garlic toast made with homemade bread, sprinkled with a little cheese
Carrots or canned veggies of choice.
Cookies for dessert and some sweet tea sitting out on the front porch
So whether you are budgeting or just learning to be more prepared, start getting creative in the kitchen and with your meal prep and prepping. It might save you more than a little money some day.
Posted by Brigid at 8:36 PM
Monday, April 25, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
There is no greater enhancement to beauty, than confidence.
I found it there in the closet of my big brother's room, a little Savage, that had been my Dad's. It still had no child safety lock and didn't when I first picked it up when I was 12.
My parents believed in providing us challenges. I was on the back of a big horse before I was even tall enough to climb on without assistance. At first I sat with an intrepid awkwardness, even with some lessons and the adventuresome spirit that seems to have been inherited by all the women in our family. The mare had been ridden by all the kids in the family and she seemed to sense my timidity and moved slowly and patiently as I took measure of her and myself as my parents watching carefully. I broke into a grin as she began to pick up speed with my encouragement. Leaning forward I let out a yell as we broke into a gallop, as if by doing so I could outpace the mare. We ran out free of the fence lines, free of ourselves, racing with a quality of movement in our motion totally separate from the pound of hooves or the whoop of joy as I discovered flight in its oldest form. So it was with all discoveries my parents exposed us to in that wild country, the next of which was in the form of that Savage .22.
For my parents a firearm wasn't some purpose of evil, but something that would help us learn and grow, with learning to use it as important as the possession. I held it, wood smooth under my hand, the sun at the quarry where we would shoot it shining off of the barrel. When I touched it, I felt an excitement of responsibility and promise whose reason I could not put into words at that age, being too young to articulate that. I felt responsible. Yes. Responsible. For something that cost most than many months allowance would ever replace. Responsible for the trust my parents put in me in handing over the legacy of guns in our house. Responsible for myself, my brothers. To use it properly.
So we watched, we learned. We started with soda cans in that old quarry, or out in the woods, using the center of the can as a little target area. We were well aware that for an adult it was a right, but a child it was a privilege, and one we worked hard at our schoolwork and chores, to maintain. Responsibility had to be earned. Trust had a price.
We paid attention, we listened. It didn't mean we didn't make mistakes, but they weren't potentially deadly ones. We weren't taught just how to clear a misfire, or clean our weapon or to hit a nice grouping. We were given the talents to be safe and ethical shooters, guardians of an outdoor heritage of survival, stewards of the essential liberties which we now pass on to our children.
When we showed we could handle the smaller rifles and shotguns, a family member let us try out an 8 mm Mauser. It was heavy, it seemed to be as long as I was tall, and when I fired it, the recoil about knocked me down. There was a flash of powder and light as Thor's hammer struck in a slow, solid repercussion of sound and force that I felt all the way down my legs, in muscles and places I'd forgotten I had. Then the air cleared, a vacuum, an interval of recognition and amazing clarity and I knew something; in the tremble of flesh and the warmth of my hands. I wanted this. I wanted this again. I don't care if it will probably hurt me some in the process.
So many days where we would go out. We shot until we were out of ammo and our arms ached, and even then, worn out from the day, handed the guns back carefully with deep and somnolent reluctance. Even today I feel that, ammo can echoing, trigger finger aching from the pull of the .38, and I hate to leave - one more, one more shot. Please. The last bullet is carefully loaded, and its discharge explodes into sound; a report out of proportion to the small piece of air it pushed aside, as if by firing it obtained some sort of ravening possibility, not to be inhibited by anything, not by threat, or by cold or by wind. It fired in a burst of sound that put one last neat clean hole through the dead center of the target. Then the echo of silence.
I gather my range gear in an old green military tote bag in which are a just a few pistol pouches and supplies. The bag is old and worn, not much different than that I used as a child. The smell of gunpowder kissing my hair, the ache in my arm and my hand making me feel so very alive, no different than those days so long ago. In the quiet of a range gone cold, I hear my Dad's voice in my head. Well done kiddo, well done. I'd been here two hours, I could tell that from the sun, and the sound of the many birds in the trees. They were everywhere, constant and ceaseless, happy, chattering along with the various conversations as the shooters took a break. Shooters sharing information, knowledge and history, just as my parents shared with us.
I was a bit stiff, the knee aching as it does when there is a pressure change in the atmosphere. But the walk to the truck parked away from the range line would cure that, the urgent beating of my heart timed with the slap of the gun bag against my hip as I covered the distance across the now empty parking lot. My weapon, so much different than my first, yet still a paladin of equity, a fighter for justice.
I walk with that steady gait that is both aim and purpose, being free with that singular carrying of arms that abrogates both timidity and hesitation. It's a stride borne of training and practice so as to relegate fear to a place far away. I may be alone, but I am safe. I am safe because someone loved me enough to give me the tools to be confiden
Posted by Brigid at 2:10 PM
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Prince's music and his genius were the reason he was one of the few musicians that pulled me away from a budding career and schooling, a schedule too busy for the usual interests of young people. But I listened, so much and more than once, standing in line in West Coast rain to see the movie Purple Rain, and buying the music, even though money was beyond tight. That music got me through make ups, break ups, bad landings, and bad decisions, as I finally came into my own.
Look at the video. 2004 George Harrison Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction with Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff: Lynne and George's Son, Dhani Harrison. There about 34 seconds in, when he picks the high E rapidly, while alternatively fretting the note and leaving it open. I’ve never seen anyone do this since. . . ever. Whether you are a fan or not, this is guitar legend. The look on George Harrison's son behind him says it all.
Posted by Brigid at 6:22 PM
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
In cleaning out the closest and drawers as winter clothing is cleaned and tucked away in storage, it's sometimes not an easy decision. Some items can be mended, but only if there is enough wear left to make it worth the time and effort. Some items, that look like someone lost a jousting match with a paint can, are easier to toss away.
Most of us regularly go through our things, to clear space, to create room for new things, sometimes to the point it's almost an obsession. I've met people that can not function if they don't shop almost daily, often for things they don't need, and can't afford, just because they have a psychological need to buy something. I once was sent to a home that had belonged to a hoarder. There was barely any light but for the lamps, items piled up over window height; a gloom that brooded over the clutter, as if angered by the light that came only with the flip of a switch. A single person lived there, with no room for family, for visitors, only for more possessions, most of which were in bags never opened.
Yet, in some ways, all of us are prone to gather up "things" that take up space. I certainly have more lathe bits around than are likely allowed by law, and there are pots and pans of every conceivable size in the kitchen. There's also copies of cooking magazines, and oh, so many books. But those are things we use and re-read.
My first home on my own was a showpiece. Three levels, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, full of beautiful new furniture, art and all the trappings of success. I spent all of my time and money maintaining it—which left little time or money for anything else. I liked to say I loved it, yet after another night alone in that place, but for Barkley, I had to admit to myself that there was a visceral response to the terrible loneliness of that open space, and I yearned for the lean days where life was simple and full of hope.
Giving most of it to charity; paring it down to just those things I really cherished, was the most liberating thing I've ever done.
Now my house is tiny, warm, full of the abandoned and reclaimed, almost every bit of wooden furniture rescued from a curb and restored. So much history here, so much laughter as that work was done. I look at it now, not with that quick glance that is a short day, greedily grabbed and then forgotten, but in the sustained light of memories made.
It was a busy weekend of "spring cleaning", an old broken washing machine left out by the trash where it soon disappeared as planned, by others that look to take what is cast off and make something worthwhile from it. There were also bags of trash and non repairable clothing and such out in the bin to be discarded. The sun was setting, the sky and the horizon welded in one bright spark, soon to be snuffed out. Everything around me dissolved into that last bit of warmth, bags of trash, heavy in my arms, everything in them at one time, fashioned out of love, duty or desire, which all bear their own weights.
I've written of it here before, as it's a journey many a family has been on, Seventeen years into a happy remarriage after my Mom died from cancer, my stepmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She had long term care insurance, something she and her late husband had policies for. It covered nursing care, but Dad steadfastly refused to put her in a home, caring for her at home, even in his own declining years.
Dad cared for her at home, no matter how bad it got. We couldn't visit, for we were strangers, and she'd go into a hysterical fury if we tried to enter the home. Dad was her calm and her constant. We arranged for someone to come in and lend a hand a few hours a week with the cooking and housework but he refused to let anyone else care for "his girl" or to send her to skilled nursing care. When she passed, it was quite sudden, after she contracted pneumonia. From her sudden coughing to her collapse, was just days.
Sometimes when you get to the far edge, the edge just breaks away.
One of those photos is one of she and Dad on their first date, and you could see something in their smiles that would be lost on so many people. Not many people could have cared for her by themselves as my Dad did, for so long. But I understand. Love is a story that tells itself.
On my couch is a the form of a black dog. Dumped during the holidays—heartworm positive at a high kill shelter. She responds with great plaintive urgency to the sound of small children laughing as well as men walking while smoking a cigarette. The first time I witnessed it, I cried. Apparently she was with a family, with a smoker—money for cigarettes but not for the medicine that would have kept her safe.
Rescued, and recovering from a sometimes brutal treatment for the disease; we adopted her. What was one person's decision to be rid of a burden was a saving grace in a house that had a gaping hole in it.
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it".
I realized that there were certain things, and in the past, even certain people, that simply violated my sense of thrift, exacting things out of me well beyond their worth. That concept was lost to me when I was young, but as I got older, with truth stripped of its clock of immortality, it was clear.
Home and love, love and desire, can be what propels us silently onward. Hope and love, love and desire, can also be merely sounds, that people who have never hoped or loved or desired have for what they never possessed, and will not until such time as they forget the words.
Posted by Brigid at 6:26 PM
Monday, April 18, 2016
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
We've all seen our dogs when they dream. The back legs may twitch, sometimes they give out a soft little woof. Barkley on more than occasion gave out a long mournful howl, like the Hound of the Baskervilles.
But I wonder - what does Abby Normal dream she is doing? Is she having an adventure? Is she famous? Is she stealing stuffed animals with squeakers?
I guess I'll never know.
But I wonder - what does Abby Normal dream she is doing? Is she having an adventure? Is she famous? Is she stealing stuffed animals with squeakers?
I guess I'll never know.
Posted by Brigid at 8:19 PM