Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Great Day!

Well, today is a great day!

My mind wasn’t much made up on the subject for the first half of the day, (it is now 12:00pm AKA noon.)

But after thinking on it, I can come up with quite the little list of positives that keep me keeping on.

#1: It has now been 162 days since I last dropped my cell phone in the pot!

Hey! High tech stuff is hard for my generation! But I think I have truly mastered the cell-phone-in-the-pot thing.

#2: I have not fallen out of bed since September 21, 2004

(that’s when I first moved to the new house and being totally disoriented in the middle of the night, rolled over the wrong way. It could happen to anyone.)

#3 I am pretty sure I don’t have worms.

I don’t seem to have any of the symptoms of that guy on Medical Mysteries that wound up with a 30-ft long tape worm. And besides, I never travel below the Mason/Dixon line just for that reason. I understand parasites really only love places that don’t freeze your monkey shut at least four times a year.

#4 My last bank statement shows that there were 19 days last month wherein (whereat?) I was not overdrawn!!

This is a great confidence builder. Of course if you’ve never BEEN overdrawn at the bank you will obviously just have to go through life feeling inferior on the subject. Sorry about that.

#5 My sore toe doesn’t hurt anymore.

You know, (if you don’t I’ll be happy to tell you about it) the one I broke five years ago kicking that goat.


#6 That itchy spot on my head wasn't lice after all but just that gash healing where the stapler fell on me last week.

Yes, today is a Great Day!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eat Better and Cheaper

Save Money-Eat Better-Stress Less

“Oh Lord!,” I can just hear my grown kids groaning now.

I'm always giving advice that nobody wants and NEVER takes but for what it's worth....

Grandma’s Rules Are as Follows:

1: Quit Eating Junk

2: Treat Your Kids Like They’re Important

3: Keep Your Eye on the Goal

Just to clear the deck I will admit, and assume that everyone knows, that I was a lousy mother, my children were often starved for junk food and were forced to wear homemade clothes well into the mid-years of elementary school. My oldest son spent his first hard-earned paycheck on a store bought haircut. Of course these aren’t the only examples of my lousy motherhood but they are the ones I can bear to share publicly and the only ones pertinent here.

I was also blessed with kids that were notorious for eating three times the amount the children of my friends and relatives did and challenged with having to care for them on about a quarter of the resources.

But from all that deprivation and struggle I did learn a few things just in case anyone is interested.

Quit Eating Junk

Feed Your Family Real Food:

First of all let me suggest that you only use those fancy cookbooks that you bought at all those garage sales or got as birthday gifts, anniversary gifts etc. for night reading. About all they are good for is to make a person set such high standards for cooking that they never get any real cooking done. On top of that they make a person feel so inadequate. I have a whole shelf full and a drawer full to boot and I am totally inadequate.!!

To feed your family real food you must buy real food not what ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) and the American Cardboard and Plastic Industries want you to think is food. Don’t go up any center aisle of the store except the baking and condiment aisle. (Flour, Sugar, Lard, Tea, Coffee, Ketchup, Mustard..well you get my drift) and the canned food aisle.

The periphery of almost all stores is where everything you really need is located. That’s meat, milk, cheese, bread, vegetables and fruit. If it’s in a box, bag, or frozen it should be a small addition to any meal and/or a rare treat. Treat it like a treat and don’t do it often.

Treat Your Kids Like They’re Important

Your Children Are Not Family Pets.

Expect Them to Help. They will surprise you if they think what they’re doing is important.

Keep Your Eye on the Goal:

Don’t rob Your Family of Good Meals or Your Precious Time

The goal is to provide a fast, pleasant, nutritious meal with the time to enjoy it. For good or ill, if there are children, the home is a training ground. Good food is better food. Less stress is better than more stress.

If you work outside the home, (and who doesn’t?) don’t cook more than an hour or two a week. Here’s how: Crock Pot, Crock Pot, Crock Pot. Grill, Grill, Grill. Bake, Bake Bake.

Sample Weekly Shopping:

Buy two whole chickens, one five-pound roast, five pork chops, ten pounds of hamburger and a package of either short ribs, spare ribs or pork steak for BBQ. One pack of meatloaf seasoning (McCormicks or store brand), 5 pound bag of small red potatoes, a two pound bag of carrots, four cans green beans, four cans carrots, four cans creamed or whole kernel corn, a stalk of celery and a bag of salad greens, the darker the better, (Iceberg lettuce has little food value.) four boxes mac and cheese, one pack of spaghetti, four boxes instant brown rice, one package frozen noodles, 3 packages of pre-baked hot rolls, a big package of frozen french fries, two cans of your favorite beans, a dozen eggs and a couple of jars of Ragu.

This will give you…

2 chicken dinners

1 beef roast dinner

1 meatloaf dinner

1 grilled hamburger dinner

1 spaghetti and meatball dinner

1 Grilled Pork Chop dinner

1 Barbecue (pork or beef)

None of the above will take any more time to fix than you would spend waiting in a fast food line or waiting for the Pizza delivery boy.

This list allows for a couple of throw-out recipes (AKA My-family-wouldn't-touch-that-with a- 10-foot-pole) and one night of carry-out or eating out. They should even each other out.

In The Kitchen

The following should take about ten minutes.

Well, you've made it home from the store. Divide hamburger into five two-pound portions, put each of three portions in separate zip lock bags and freeze. These you can use to grill. Take them out the night before to thaw in the frig or..remember..the nuker does have a “thaw” thingy on it.

Take one portion and toss into a bowl with a handful of oatmeal, an egg, (be sure and break the egg) salt and pepper, and a dollop of milk. A dollop is what you get if you start to pour milk and catch yourself just in time when you meant to pour beer. Roll into little meatballs, put back into a quart freezer bag. Now I know you can buy little plastic bags of little plastic meatballs but they are about four times the cost and four times the added chemicals besides being frozen in plastic for a month or two. This process will take you about four minutes if you don’t have to hunt for the salt and pepper, or the egg etc..

Freeze meatballs, chickens, pork or beef for BBQ and beef roast.

Sample Fast Meals

Weekend Day One.

This should take about 7 minutes max.

Meat loaf, potatoes, salad and hot rolls

Mix one unfrozen portion of hamburger with meatloaf seasoning mix, a handful of oatmeal, an egg and a blob of salsa, taco sauce, ketchup..whatever. Place in loaf pan or round casserole. Drizzle catsup on top and put in 350 degree oven.

Take four potatoes, grease with any grease but motor oil, poke holes in the top with fork and put in oven with meatloaf.

Cook about an hour until meatloaf is no longer bleeding. Serve with some WASHED salad and encourage eating the skin of the potato. Potato skin is loaded with good stuff.

Toss a half dozen store bought hot rolls in to heat for about the three minutes it’s going to take you to throw the salad into a bowl. I don’t care what you put on the potato or the salad. You have already worked off any fat you might get from sour cream, Ranch Dressing etc. poking holes in the potatoes.

Weekend Day 2:

This Should Take About 7 minutes actual work and another 20 to sit and contemplate the grill and listen to the neighbor’s dog bark.

Grilled pork chops, grilled potatoes, green beans and bread and butter

Slice and boil (do not peel) five red potatoes for about ten minutes. Pour off water and put potatoes on a piece of tinfoil that you have greased with oleo. Drop a blob of oleo on top of them, salt and pepper, fold the foil around them and stick on grill.

Take pork chops and do anything fancy you want to with them..dip in dressing..season with lemon pepper..lay a slice of pineapple on top after they’ve been turned once or just grill the dang things with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook but make sure they are done. Raw pork is a real no no.

Put a blob of oleo in a sauce pan and dump in a can of green beans.

Serve with bread and butter.

Any Weekday:

Before leaving for work put whatever meat you bought for BBQ in crock pot and pour BBQ sauce over it, set crock pot on low.

Serve with your favorite canned beans and baked fries.

Any Weekday:

15 minutes

Stewed chicken. Brown rice, salad and corn or green beans.

Put frozen chicken in crock pot on low before leaving for work. Add salt and pepper,

and a branch of celery. (You can take the bag of guts out of the chicken right before serving when it is all cooked and juicy and no one will ever know the difference. In fact in later years your children will think people are crazy who don't do it like that.)

As a safety measure set crock pot on metal surface such as your stove or a cookie sheet across one side of the sink. Remember do not run water with a plugged in crock pot in the sink. If you're really paranoid put the dang thing in the garage on concrete. When you get home, ladle off about a cup of broth into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add some instant brown rice (follow the box direction here.) Serve with salad, corn green beans or whatever.

Any Weekday:

About 7 minutes

Roast beef, red potatoes and carrots.

Put frozen beef roast into crock pot in the morning. Peel an onion and put in whole. Peel three carrots and put in whole. Wash and put in four or five red potatoes, unpeeled and whole. Do crock pot on low as you did with the chicken.

Serve with anything else you want to.

Any Weekday:

About 15 minutes

Grill Hamburgers with mac and cheese, pork and beans etc.

If you forgot to take the hamburger out of the freezer thaw it in micro wave for grilling. Serve with cheese, cheap iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes etc…Mac and cheese from box per directions takes about ten minutes so start it before you put the hamburgers on. Pork and Beans..Applesauce..whatever..

Any Weekday:

About 20 Minutes

Roast chicken and Noodles, corn, salad and/or fresh celery

Plop a whole frozen chicken, salt and pepper, a branch of celery and a chunk of onion in crock pot before going to work. Set on low. When you get home remove chicken to bowl or platter and cover to keep warm. Dig out the slimy cooked celery, onions etc and do whatever you want with them. Dump a bag of frozen noodles in broth in crock pot and cook on high ‘til noodles are done. (My crock pot will come to a boil on high and the noodles cook quickly. If yours doesn’t, dump noodles and broth into large pan and boil until done.)

While noodles are cooking put a blob of oleo into a sauce pan and dump in a can of corn.

Serve chicken and noodles with corn and salad or raw celery.

Any Weekday:

15 minutes

Spaghetti and meatballs.

Set a package of spaghetti to cooking. (Just break in half and put in a large pan of water. Poke periodically to keep it from glomming together. Brown hamburger balls, (remember you made the little suckers the day you bought groceries?) turning occasionally, in a fairly large skillet. Turn skillet on low and cook with lid for a few minutes. Ad Ragu and heat until hot. Serve with Italian bread and salad or broccoli or something green.

Well, I got that off my chest!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Catalogue People

I was born in the dining room before the upstairs was finished on a swelteringly hot day and I was very fat.

Being my mother’s seventh child there really was no need for a doctor as she had done it six times before but he was called anyway and his contribution to the event was to tell Dad, “Well, Mike, maybe this will be the lucky one as she is “seven come eleven.”

You have to know a little bit about the game of Craps, to understand his thinking on this. Craps is a dice game played by gamblers and Dad was famous for his love of the game. In the game of Craps sevens and elevens are game changers and I was the seventh child born in the seventh month on the eleventh day. (July 11)

Shieldsy, our neighbor and Mom’s friend, assisted at my birth and tried hard to keep me cool and happy but the cooler I got the unhappier I became. As soon as Shieldsy left to fix supper for Poppy Shields and her own family Mom got me out of the basket and wrapped me up tight. She said as soon as I started to sweat she never hard another peep out of me.

I guess that’s why winters always seemed so darned cold to me. That big old house only had two zones, frigid and sweltering. Even with the huge basement furnace (as big as a modern day bathroom) that ate up the sooty coal that cost Mom $15 a ton load, the chill in winter never left and a draft always blew around our ankles and knees.

And often, on winter nights..the waiting nights..between Thanksgiving and Christmas..and then through a long was just me, Mom’s sewing scissors and the last year’s Sears and Roebuck Catalogue.

Sitting at the dining room table with my legs tucked up under me and my sweater pulled down over my fingers to keep warm, I spent long, miraculous hours with the Catalogue People.

The Catalogue People were incredibly clever. They spoke, sang, played and danced with each other in an endless variety of dress, carefully selected and cut from the Men’s, Women’s and Children’s Section and played with the most marvelous toys from the Toy Section.

They pushed the baby, chosen form the Infants Section, in the most adorable baby carriage of the season. (after cutting a slit in the buggy top the baby could be slipped right in.)

The children, selected from the underwear page of the Children’s Section, wore every wonderful item of dress that I had ever desired or imagined. With their charming clothing held in place with small tabs cut at the shoulder and waist, they slept in the most exquisite nighties, swam in the most cunning swim garb and played in the brightest, most casual play clothes. For winter only the furriest, most elegant coat and hat would do.

The mother, chosen for her gentle expression and whether her arms stuck out far enough to bend the tabs in at the waist, wore incredible combinations of glamour and servitude from the Women’s Section. She always carried beautiful “Genuine Morocan Leather” purses and wore perky hats with feathers.

The father, a stalwart fellow, wore handsome hats and always faced to the right. I haven’t a clue as to why this requirement was so important but it was and I adhered to it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

All You Need to Know About Cows

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954), Saturday 7 July 1945, page 23
National Library of Australia

TIE cow is a mamal. It has six sides, left, right, and upper and
below. At the back it has a tail on which hangs a brush. With
this it sends the flies away so that they will not fall in the milk. The
head is for the purpose of growing horns, and so that the mouth can be
somewhere. The horns are to butt with. The mouth is to moo with.
Under the cow hangs the milk. It is arranged for milking.
When people milk, the milk comes, and there is never an end to
the supply. How the cow does it I have not yet realised, but it makes
more and more. The cow has a fine sense of smell; one can smell it
far away. This is the reason for the fresh air in the country.
The cow does not eat much, but what it eats it eats twice, so
that it gets enough. When it is hungry it moos, and when it says
nothing it is because all its inside is full up of grass.

-Essay by t. 10-year-old boy at Klttybrewster School, Aberdeen.