My Favorite Discovery!

I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before but I can’t help grinning everytime we have fried fish or chicken and do it without flour and still get a great ‘crisp’ on it and a very satisfying crunch. AND, what we use is low carb and good for you, too, fewer calories. It is Whey Protein Isolate! Just scoop out what you need, season it like flour and there is your future crispy coating. You just dip your fish or chicken into some  beaten egg, coat with the seasoned whey stuff, and fry. It works well for onion rings, too.

Horror Movies From the Kitchen!

Horror Movies From the Kitchen
by Barbara Jean & Julianna Barthelette

How many nightmares come true at the dinner table when your mom serves up something only a grown up could like. Here are our ideas of horror movies that would definitely scare us!

The Artichoke, a Dying Vegetable. Some wonderful children are punished for gagging at the dinner table when this vegetable made it debut.

Sour Puss or the Cat that Ate the Pickle. The story of a cat named Dill and the day his owners feed him a pickle for breakfast.

Deadly Nightshade or Mushrooms for Dinner. A suspenseful film of a mother not only serving mushrooms but making sure the children eat them!

A Bump in the Night or the Asparagus that Fell in the Cream Sauce. You can run but you can’t hide from this one as the plot as well as the cream sauce thickens.

Heartburn or the Chili Sauce that Went Bad. What happens when a mom serves leftover chili to her family. It was most frightening when the chili tried to climb out of the bowl.

The Mutant Avocado or the Gruesome Guacamole. Chips are destroyed at a dinner party as people are forced to dip them in the green stuff.

There’s a Leek in the Kitchen and we have to Eat It. Children are traumatized when they find out there is more than one onion in the family.

Tithing And The Budget

Tithing and The Budget
by Barbara M. Barthelette

Budget is always a constant in the lives of one-income families. And even though we are offering up the ‘freedom’ of the outside workplace, God still sees fit to send us crosses particular to our station in life.

We used have a sock basket of some sort. You know, the place we put the socks that come through the wash minus the mate they were made for! Our cross was that we never matched them all up, we never got to the bottom of the sock basket and we  often found socks we didn’t remember ever inviting into our homes. The size of the cross depends on the size of your sock basket!

Cooking can be a cross when it is days before payday and you have to be creative, not only in what you make but what you tell the children it is so they will eat it! That is why lids were invented for pots so family can’t come in and get preconceived notions about dinner.

Coupons for grocery shopping and special sales stretch the budget but can be a cross for the family. “Why do the fish still have their heads on?” They were on sale because they were cross-eyed. The store had to leave them on to make sure the customer knew this before buying. “How come you didn’t buy potato chips?” Go back to the Irish potato famine. Claim a shortage of potatoes. Check your history book.

Paper towels are a necessity in the kitchen. I usually ended up with an empty roll and find ‘used’ paper towels all over the house. There were once thirty paper towels, precisely separated and laid out on the floor from back door to bedroom. “We were pretending the floor was a deep river and the paper towels are stepping stones!” A sudden yell for help from the bathroom proclaimed a flood which quickly told me what they tried to use the rest of the paper towels for! They had used up the bathroom tissue to reenact The Mummy.

I kept trying to come up with time-saving, money-saving ideas to run my home happily yet frugally. I considered giving each person a sock basket of their own but quickly realized I would then probably have six or more baskets full of socks. I mean, what are the chances they would have ever compared the contents of their respective sock collections?

I tried starting a rumor that potato chips were made from creamed zucchini, carrots and turnips but my gang figure that if it is fried, it can’t be all bad.

I tried assigning each their own roll of bathroom tissue. I thought I had a system figured out. I would keep written records and the stuff under lock and key. I would check out a roll to each person, initial and date the inside of the tube and make note of the distribution in my notebook. When they brought me their empty cardboard roll, I would check the first date, the date returned and give counseling on waste not, want not as needed. It didn’t get off the ground, My husband wouldn’t cooperate on this one. He said that if we weren’t a one-income family with mismatched socks and on a budget, he would take me on a long, long restful vacation.

Black Cats . . .

Once upon a time, an older man in our neighborhood suddenly got deathly ill and his daughter placed him in a hospital . . . and he never returned. He left a legacy that his daughter did her best to take care of but the magnitude of his ‘bequest’ to her was impossible to totally resolve. The man had taken in and fed just about every stray cat that came his way. He must have had 30 cats of all sizes and colors in and around his property. We would often see him on the front lawn spending time with his cats. I met up with him at the grocery store one time and his cart was filled to the brim with tins of cat food.

When his daughter tried to clean his house, she also called the shelter to come take the cats. Well, trying to corner and catch half feral cats is no easy chore. We found this out a few weeks later, when four, little waifs showed up on our doorstep. Before our trial by cats was over, we topped off at having found homes for fifteen cats. We got down to the last three and someone in 29 Palms said he would take the two kittens and the one grown cat. We got one of the kittens and the grown cat delivered but one of the half-grown kittens just disappeared from the earth.

Two months later, Fresh (named for her attitude!) returned and demanded food. The people in 29 Palms were filled up with nine cats so we kept looking around for a home for Miss Fresh. Hard cat to place as she was part feral and liked it at our house, thank you very much! That was over six years ago and she is still
queen of our garage, comes in the house to visit but rules our garage and yard and leaves us the occasional dead mouse or half-eaten gopher to express her gratitude. Taking her to the vet for shots and checkups are memorable occasions in our lives.

Being rather small for a cat and completely black, she can be hard to find and she is good at slipping in and out of the house often startling us when we come into a room and she is just sitting there. I’m the only one who has ever been able to hold her but even then, you have to know to the second when to put her down. I’m in charge of giving her the canned stinky food which ranks me somewhat higher than the rest of the household.

The other evening, we were trying to get the young lady into the garage for the evening and my husband opened the front door and complained she was being stubborn and wouldn’t come in. He stalked over to the door out to the garage to see if she would come in through the big garage door. As he walked away, I saw Fresh sitting right next to where he had been standing! I hurriedly got her cat food ready and she followed me out into the garage. I told my husband to close the garage door now before the cat got out again. He testily stated that she wasn’t in the garage while all the time I’m looking down at said cat who was sitting between the two of us bobbing her head back and forth as we talked like watching a tennis match. I kept trying to say that she was in the garage but he had his opinion set in cement as he said he would have seen her come in the front door. I finally walked over to her food dish and she happily hunkered down to eat. My husband had some strong words and never quite believed me that she had slunk past him when he opened the front door. Fresh finished eating, came over and rubbed against my legs, seemed to grin at my husband and, went to bed.

Yam Bread – a Holiday Favorite

Leftover yams at the Thanksgiving table? No matter how I plan a meal in regards to the number of guests, I always end up with leftover yams! Well, that leftover has been my go to for making a few loaves of Yam Bread to bake and freeze for the upcoming holiday season – if a loaf of this bread would survive the final cooling the day it was made. Something about toasted yam bread with a slathering of butter . . .

Yam Bread

2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups cooked yams
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cups coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 cup raisins (optional)

Whip up the yams until fairly smooth.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of two loaf pans, 9x5x3 inches.

Mix shortening and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, yams, and water. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking power, cinnamon, and clovers. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into pans. (If batter seems too dry, you can always add bits of juice or water but go slowly as you don’t want it runny.)

Bake about an hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove and cool completely before slicing.

Pumpkin Bread
Substitute yams for 2 cups of canned pumpkin.

Zucchini Bread
Substitute 3 cups shredded zucchini. Blend in 2 teaspoons vanilla with the clovers. Decrease baking time to under 60 minutes

Banana Bread
Substitute 3 very ripe, smashed (and it ain’t easy getting them drunk!) bananas

Cranberry Walnut Bread
One cup roughly chopped fresh or frozen cranberries and ½ cup toasted, chopped walnuts.

Budgets vs. Reality

Budgets vs. Reality
by Barbara M. Barthelette

I read cookbooks and find it hard to believe when I see recipes for ‘cooking gourmet on a budget’. What these people seem to have on hand in times of limited cash, sure doesn’t match up to what I find available in my cupboards between paydays.

One recipe states that a simple dish of angel hair pasta garnished with tiny shrimp, bits of leftover clams with a dash of olive oil and freshly ground pepper will elegantly nourish any family. I don’t know whether I should start feeling inferior now but I don’t have any shrimp on hand! And the days we have clam chowder, the whole can of clams goes into giving the boiled milk and potatoes at least a taste reminiscent of our hard-shelled friend. Being on a budget means being creative in times of need. However, the tuna, corn oil and elbow macaroni just didn’t seem destined to become anything that had the remotest possibility of being eaten by my children. Spaghetti with spiced up tomato soup stood a better chance of acceptance.

Or, as another would-be-helpful recipe stated, you can stretch your meat with the addition of mushrooms, tiny onions, baby carrots and tofu cubes. Forget the fungus! Even if they are on sale, how many children do you know that will eat anything that even touches a mushroom? One chopped onion equals a dozen tiny pearl onions and is much easier to hide in a gravy. The best I could do for baby carrots was to carve them down to the appropriate size. Since only threats can get carrots eaten around here anyway, it really doesn’t matter how big or small they are, right? And I won’t even eat tofu no matter how far it might stretch my budget.

When it comes to salad, the books always tell us to be fresh and creative. My favorite idea was empaling bits of vegetables and greenery on toothpicks and then piercing them artfully into the flesh of a grapefruit. We are promised that our family will rave about this and happily consume our healthy arrangement. Between paydays, my vegetable bin will yield, perhaps, a couple of tomatoes, a stalk of wilted celery, a carrot or two and a forgotten branch of broccoli. I suppose I could substitute an old Styrofoam ball from the craft cupboard for the grapefruit but the result would be rather pitiful. Limp celery chunks do not stand up well on a toothpick, pieces of tomatoes tend to drip and carrots are almost impossible to stick on a toothpick. Besides, if memory serves me, my children probably found some creative use for the toothpicks weeks ago, leaving me with just three.

Dessert was my absolute favorite. When you don’t have a lot of time, according to the easy-does-it gourmets, and want to make an impression, just bring on a variety of cheese, fruit and crackers. I imagine many of you sport cupboards very similar to mine. Can you picture a platter adorned with slices of processed cheese, a lone apple arranged so the bite doesn’t show snuggled up against a couple of teething biscuits?

I am afraid that there are budgets and then there are budgets! I, fortunately or unfortunately, fall into the budget of total reality! Whatever pasta shape is available in the pantry gets smothered in creative tomato soup. We stretch our meat budget by cutting smaller pieces. Carrot and celery sticks get revived in ice water. And the one who took the initial bite out of the apple gets to read Genesis after dinner.

Seamlessly Blending Carrots Into Meals

When my children were in their formative years, ur budget was such that getting ten pounds of carrots for under three dollars made them a fixture on my weekly shopping list. Unfortunately, my children didn’t sympathize with me on this aspect of saving money. I had several unsuccessful attempts in disguising carrots at mealtimes. My children had radar when it came to sensing a carrot in their vicinity. I am sharing my failures with you so you can avoid the same dinner-time pitfalls. For some reason, they just didn’t work.

1. I tried passing off steamed carrots as hot dogs. One attempt at the subterfuge and relish and ketchup were never applied after that until the children tested the contents of the bun on both the dog and cat.

2. I tried something trendy. I told them it was orange sherbert but the unsuccessfully pureed carrot bumps cued them in.

3. Mixed mashed carrots into their liver and they still wouldn’t eat it!

4. Told them it was actually hashed, orange rutabagas, not carrots. They threatened to call 911.

5. Painted red stripes on carrots and put them into their Christmas stockings. Told them Santa left the candy canes. You don’t want to know.

6. Tried honesty . . . told them carrots taste like chicken.

7. Found a recipe for ground carrots and cottage cheese that was suppose to fry up ‘just like a hamburger patty’. My children’s first question was, “Mom, why are you frying cottage cheese and carrots?”

8. Told them they couldn’t have dessert unless they ate all their carrots at dinner. Almost had a mutiny when they discovered dessert was Carrot Cake.

9. Told them they weren’t carrots but odd-colored zucchini. Actually refused to believe me!

10. Chopped up the carrots into cubes and told them it was tofu in their stir fry.