Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to school

Let me first start with apologizing for not blogging in a while. It's been busy. Ok, here we go.

It's that time of the year! It's back to school time! And with it comes a lot of back to school shopping. I love this part about school, always have. Oh the thrill of new pens, binders and alas... a new backpack. You can always tell the moms who are on a school supply mission. They look confused as they try to decipher the difference between wide ruled and college ruled paper or find a box of 48 count crayons in sea of 24 count boxes. Tightly clinching to a crumpled list of endless items, back to school moms continue to wander the store until they cross of every item off their list. While shopping, I made a couple observations:

1. Why do glue sticks come in packs of 2, when we are only required to have one? Every year, I have to buy one too many. I always say that I'm going to save the glue stick for the next school year, but I never do.
2. What is so special about Ticonderoga pencils? Teachers always specify that they want that brand, but it's always sold out.
3. A box of kleenex was on the list. If every kid has to bring a box, that's like 25 boxes! I didn't realized kids went through that stuff so quickly. What happened to just wiping your nose on your sleeve?

To all my moms who have kids going back to school, I wish I could give you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils (Ticonderoga brand, of course).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kiss the Cook

When I was working, I didn’t realize that my cooking repertoire offered very little variety. The three dishes that I knew how to make well were pasta with marinara sauce, tacos and grilled chicken with rice. They each took roughly 45 minutes to make and the ingredients were constantly available in my cupboards. It was an easy answer for a mom on the go. Now that I am a SAHM, I assumed that serving these three dishes only would get very old with my family. As a result, I quickly researched new recipes.

My cousin (a fellow SAHM) shared a clever idea for obtaining recipes. She goes to the library and checks out cookbooks and makes copies of the recipes that are keepers. The key is to look for books that highlight cooking on a budget for large families. The Something Extra app and Big Oven app on my iPhone are my new BFFs. Without them, I would probably be serving my family canned corn and oatmeal on the nights that I wasn’t making my standby recipes. As a result, I have made all kinds of wonderful things that I would never considered making in the past like pot roast (below is an incredible recipe). While I am still learning, I am thoroughly enjoying the journey to culinary prowess.

Hearty Pot Roast with Vegetables
1 large boneless chuck roast
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 small yellow squash, halved and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1 cup peeled baby carrots
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence or Italian herb seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Dredge meat well with flour and brown in hot oil on all sides; reserve
excess flour. Place meat in a large Dutch oven with vegetables. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Pour broth and wine over all. Add seasonings. Cover and bake for 3 hours or until meat is tender. Remove meat and vegetables from pan and place pan over burner on low heat. Add water to remaining flour and stir until smooth. Slowly add to hot drippings, adding just enough to thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and serve with meat and vegetables.

Makes 6 servings.