Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

November 28, 2010

The Food Project

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 8:19 pm
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My post about getting bored with eating the same food and trying to plan meals must have really struck a chord with a lot of you.  I think I had the most comments I’ve ever gotten on that post, and they were all filled with fabulous ideas.  I’m going to do my best here to summarize some of the ideas I received and give you some links to follow that maybe you haven’t seen in the past.

From more than one person, I heard that keeping a binder helps them stay organized and makes planning easier.  I’m promising myself that I’ll do this.  I’m always trying new ideas from websites, magazines and cookbooks.  Then, after I’ve cooked them, it is rare that I remember where I found them and which ones went over well with the family.  With the binder method, you either print out a copy of the recipe, tear out the page of the magazine, or maybe direct yourself to the page of the cookbook you got it from.  This will be my New Year’s Resolution – get the binder, buy those plastic insert pages, and start putting the good stuff in it.  Building up the binder will take some time, of course,  but I think it is a great idea for remembering the stuff you like.

Planning, planning, planning.  This seemed to be important to many folks who commented.  Trying to make up close to a week’s worth of dinner ideas before hitting the grocery store seemed like the common way to do it.  That’s what I usually do too, but some days I just don’t wanna!  You know what I mean?  The task of searching the internet or cookbooks or magazines just seems like more than I can possibly bear, then I end up having a miserable time at the grocery store wandering aimlessly trying to figure it out.   I think the binder will some day make this easier.

  A suggestion I read about once was to make up a calendar for the month.  When you know a bunch of family favorites (whether from in the rolodex in your head or from the magic binder) sprinkle favorites during the month.  Fill in other dates with new things to try or with great-buy items from grocery shopping that week.  The “month-at-a-glance” idea is supposed to help prevent the ruts that so many of us seem to get stuck in.

The calendar idea makes me think about the seasonality of food as well.  Winter is the season of casseroles and stews and soups.  In summertime, as Tracy M. put it, the grill is king.  Some favorite foods may transcend all seasons.  Making the most of what is in season can be a big part of meal planning.

Freezers were a big part of the food conversation as well.  Some people mentioned having an extra freezer and choosing meals according to what they had stored away.  Making extra of freezer friendly foods such as sauces, soups, stews, and casseroles makes life easier for some folks.  My sister even had a little cooking session with friends where they made a bunch of meals together to take home and put in their freeezers ( no, she didn’t invite me! maybe next time! 😉 ). 

Freezing meals reminds me of a little story.  Excuse me while I digress…

Back in the winter of 1994-1995, I was expecting my first child.  Inexplicably, my husband and I decided that was a good time to remodel our kitchen.  Meghan was due on March 1, 1995.  The contractor said, no problem, it will all be done long before then.  We made up some easy-to-freeze meals and stored them away for the days when all we would have was a microwave, plugged in in the dining room, to work with.  The kitchen was gutted.  Of course, the work took longer than the contractor predicted.  Shocker there, right?  I got sick of the frozen meals.  I got sick of every type of take-out food in my general area.  Got sick of the house in disarray.  My husband worked the midnight to 8am shift in those days, so he slept from 3pm til 11pm and I was left on my own to grouse about the house.  One night, very close to my due date, I couldn’t stand the claustrophobic feeling of my house any more and drove myself to a big mall about 25 minutes from home.  I fed myself in the food court and wandered the mall looking at baby items and other things.  I ran into another pregnant woman and we asked each other when we were due – I told her about a week.  I think she still had a few weeks to go.  We wished each other well and went our separate ways. 

No this story doesn’t end in my water breaking in the middle of a mall.  I got home, chatted with hubby while he got ready for work and I got ready for bed.  I kissed him goodbye and settled in for the night.  At 5am, however, my water did break.  Hubby was in the middle of an arrest when I called his pager (er, he’s the police officer, not the criminal in case anyone was wondering! 😉 ).  Meghan arrived 19 hours later, about 5 days ahead of schedule.  We brought our baby home to a still incomplete kitchen.  No, it wasn’t done by her actual due date either.  I spent my first couple weeks at home with a newborn with a houseful of workers finishing my kitchen.  Ay-yi-yi!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

In addition to the freezer, I heard about deliveries that made for some variety in planning.  One commenter mentioned getting a weekly farm delivery!  Sounds wonderful.  My sister recently joined a local meat CSA (community supported agriculture).  The way I understand it, she gets a monthly shipment of a variety of meats.  I think she tells them the types of meats she’s interested in receiving, and gets whatever types and cuts are available each month in varying amounts.  This has challenged her to find some new ways to use the meats she receives, and in turn helped her get some variety in her menu planning.

Like many of us do, I scour through the internet in search of meal ideas.  Allrecipes.com and Myrecipes.com are two great sources.  I recently found out that the Pioneer Woman has a visual index of her recipes.  This is great for me because #1, I am a visual person.  I like to see things when people are explaining something to me, have a diagram drawn or, shocker here, see a picture!  #2, most of the time I have no idea what I am looking for or what I want to make.  You can scan through the pictures of P’Dub’s recipes and then click on it when you see something that looks good.

Andrea, a friend from high school, emailed me a list of some of her favorite dinners.  Many of them are  stand-by’s most of us probably make, but she’s given them their own twist.  Some are ideas I just don’t think of making.  Here’s her list of favorites:

Mexican lasagna

Ginger glazed meatloaf

chicken enchiladas

Roast chicken, which I then turn the leftovers into chicken and biscuits (just leftover chicken, a bag of mixed veggies, 2 cans of chicken gravy thinned with chicken stock if necessary, heated up and served over biscuits).  I also then make chicken, veggie and rice soup with the rest of the leftovers.

Spaghetti sauce (either marinara or meat if we haven’t had a lot of meat lately).  I usually freeze half of this and we get a total of 4 meals out of it.

Baked ziti

breaded pork chops

Orange-ginger pork chops

pork tenderloin seasoned with whatever we’re in the mood for, or I buy the pre-seasoned ones if they are on sale.

Chicken breast sautéed with veggies served with whole wheat noodles

Baked lentils

Fish and peppers

I make a lot of soup and we have soup and sandwiches.  The soups I make the most are vegetable, carrot-ginger, lentil, leek and potato, butternut squash, lasagna soup

We also eat a lot of fish b/c it cooks quickly.  Some favorites are: Salmon with lemon and rosemary, Salmon with onions and capers, crab cakes, steamed mussels

Chicken or beef fajitas

Beef taco bake

Chicken romano

Lemon Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken


Grilled portobellos on salad

Frittatas made various ways

Port marinated grilled flank steak

Stuffed pork chops

Meatballs made various ways

Sweet potato and kale

Fajita salad

Red curry pork and noodles

Thanks, Andrea!  For a super-easy dinner night, I found out many of you like “breakfast for dinner.”  I was so happy to find out I wasn’t the only one who occasionally served up pancakes to the kids on a night when I just didn’t know what else to make! 

I thought I’d finish this post with a couple recipes I’ve made recently that I’ve thought were really good.

I made ham, peas & pasta the other night and Meghan actually said,”I wish you’d make this more often!”

I made this recipe that Jennifer blogged about and gave me a link to, a fabulous chicken pot pie:

Just tonight, I made the most awesome turkey soup I’ve ever made in my life:

It was based on this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine, but I tweaked it to my own liking.  No parsnips or swiss chard for me, regular celery instead of celery root, plus I added some corn.  I touched up the seasoning with just a bit of “Slap Ya Mama” cajun seasoning.  Instead of dumplings, I made my favorite cheese biscuits:

Did you ever notice that homemade biscuits can make almost any meal feel hearty and delicious?

I hope this post gave you at least a few ideas for dinner that maybe you hadn’t thought of before!  I will continue to share some of my interesting recipes from time to time (but like I said, I am not a food blogger, so don’t worry, I won’t do it too often) or any great ideas that people may share with me.  If you are one of the fine folks who mentioned sharing recipes or ideas with me and haven’t had the chance to do it yet, send your thoughts along whenever you have the chance and I will pass them along.

November 26, 2010

My plants are confused!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:04 pm
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We’ve made an awful lot about the fact that we had one of the most fabulous summers in memory this year and that autumn has been relatively mild so far, with even some unseasonably warm days mixed in there.  Apparently, the warmth has been enough to confuse a few plants into beginning their spring growth about four months early!  I was drawn out into the yard today (though it is NOT unseasonably warm) because I noticed an abundance of red decorating some trees in the backyard.  It also seemed like a good excuse to try out the new 50 mm lens.  Teddy was at the ready to accompany me as Official Backyard Guide.

Yard escort, at my service

(taken with the new lens)

Upon closer inspection, the decorative red turned out to be a giant weed of bittersweet.  Unimpressive at 50mm, I took a close-up instead with the 55-250:
It is but bittersweet...

I was undeterred, and continued looking around a somewhat bleak yard for interesting photo subjects.  That was when I discovered many plants believing it is actually March rather than November:

Hydrangea with new leaves

Those are new leaves on the tippy-tops of those otherwise dead looking hydrangea canes.

New growth on butterfly bushes

Fresh young leaves on the butterfly bushes

Herbs live!

Parsley and chives continuing to grow (though the basil checked out quite a while ago) with fur of OBG sneaking into the corner of the shot.

Each year when I plant my whiskey barrel planter with annuals, I always include a spike plant as an accent piece.  For the past few years, my girls and I have marvelled at Spike’s staying power into the colder months – it has sometimes made it almost to the new year.  This year, when I replanted my barrel with mums, there wasn’t room for Spike, but I didn’t have the heart to just chuck him to the compost heap, so I replanted him in a small planter on the deck with a mini-rose that had long finished blooming for the year:

Spike lives!

Spike is still living, but more suprisingly, that mini-rose is too.  Roses are little more than expensive annuals for me, for the most part, so I’m surprised to see this mini hanging on. (Notice OBG fur and toes accompany this shot)

Teddy poses

OBG poses with one drop of water on nose.  His services were no longer required as I took my search to the front yard.  The front yard is not fenced in.  It distresses OBG to not be allowed to be an Official Frontyard Guide.

The front yard revealed daffodils poking up:
Daffodils poking up in November

and irises as well:

confused iris growing in November

Sorry about the lack of sharp focus there.  My fingers were getting quite chilled in the wind.  I may need to pick up some of those photographer’s gloves Michaela mentioned in the comments of Scott’s blog post about Christmas ideas for photographers.  In addition, I also found buds on my lilac trees, but try as I might,  I could not get a focused shot of one of the tiny buds.  The wind was blowing  and I was getting colder and frustrated.  I hope Mother Nature knows what she’s up to and doesn’t let her son Snow Miser wreck havoc on my plants!

November 24, 2010

With apologies to Lydia Maria Child

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:25 pm
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Over the river, not through the wood,

to my sister’s house we’ll go

I know the way, short trip on highway,

not forecast is snow.

Over the river, not through the wood,

to “Auntie’s” house away

We will not stop, ‘less tire should pop,

for ’tis Thanksgiving Day!     

 Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I spent this afternoon cooking up my creations to bring to my sister’s house tomorrow where my family will enjoy the day.  I baked cranberry bread and zucchini bread:

In addition, I did the first part of the cooking of  this dish that my sister discovered a couple years ago and has since become a family favorite for the holidays. I’ll refridgerate it overnight and bake it tomorrow morning.  It is time consuming so my sister and I trade off on the cooking of this recipe.  Jennifer hosts Thanksgiving dinner for the family, so I make it for Thanksgiving, then in turn Jennifer makes it for Christmas dinner at my house.  As is fairly common with this pair of sisters, we make substitutions in the recipe.  A preference for cheddar cheese rather than gruyere, 1% milk and light cream rather than whole milk and heavy cream. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am for this community of commenters and bloggers.  You’ve made blogging and commenting and responding to comments something I look forward to each day.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope you are able to enjoy it with the ones you love.

November 23, 2010

New Glass!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:40 pm
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Woo-hoo!  It came today!  I received my Christmas gift from hubby about a month early.  It is a 50mm f1.8 prime lens:

After I purchased my Rebel this summer, I spoke with several photographer/bloggers about what particular lens would you recommend for someone like me?  Many of them suggested a 50 mm prime lens.  Scott Thomas directed me to an article he wrote about the reasons every photographer should have this lens.  I immediately put in on my “wish list.”  We have a special family event coming up in a few weeks, and I thought it would be nice to have it for then, so I had a little chat with hubby and VOILA!  Merry Christmas to me!  Here are my first shots with the new lens, SOOC.  All were taken inside with no flash, hand-held:





Thanks 50 mm!  I’m looking forward to getting to know you!

November 21, 2010

Musings on a Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 4:31 pm
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It’s been an interesting weekend.  I’m always grateful for the weekend, but something about this past week of work made it seem extraodinarily long.  My co-workers had the same feelings.  Anyone else’s workplace feel this way this past week?  Our theory is that we are all so focused on the short week and the holiday next week (well, really this week as of my writing) that it made last week seem extremely long in comparison.  The thing I am most grateful for on the weekend is being able to get up when I want to get up rather than when the alarm clock says I have to.

Saturday started out with a family trip for a planned-on event:

We stocked up on candy and popcorn (mmmm, nutritious lunch!  What good mom I am, LOL!) and enjoyed the first matinee of the day, which thankfully wasn’t overly crowded.  We can’t wait for part 2 next summer.

Then we were off on a mission.  Meghan needed a dress for her school’s upcoming semi-formal and I needed to get my hands on some newly discovered Hot Apple Cider K-cups!  We were successful on both counts.


My verdict on the K-cups?  Tasty  for sure.  Better than mulling it yourself? No, but not bad for a quick warm-up afternoon treat.  Also not bad with a shot of this added to it:

This morning’s sleep-late time was woefully disturbed by a multitude of thoughts churning through my brain: Thanksgiving is this week!  Got to remember to buy ingredients for the things I’m making to bring to my sister’s house when I go grocery shopping today.  What the heck else are we eating for dinner the rest of this week?  Hmm, Meghan won’t be home for dinner a couple times this week.  Oh yeah, that powderpuff football game she wants to go to is this week.  Are we going to let the boyfriend drive her there?  What about the semi?……..

Don’t you hate it when that happens?  Luckily, I have a very level-headed husband with whom I can talk these things through.  We haven’t figured everything on my worry-about-it list out, but we’ve made some headway.  While I was grocery shopping, I remembered to finally buy some birdseed to fill my long-empty feeder.


I wanted to remember to fill it so I’ll hopefully have some birds to look at when there isn’t much else to see outside.  It is right outside the window of the room where I’m sitting right now, writing this blog.  Can you see the light in the window?  I’m under it right now!  Hi there! 😉

My feeder is supposed to be “squirrel-proof” – I don’t know if such a thing truly exists.  They are industrious critters.  In an attempt to appease the squirrels away from my bird feeder, I put some cereal that I don’t like in a much more squirrel-accessible feeder:

I’ll let you know how it works.  At the very least, perhaps it will provide some amusing, acrobatic squirrel pictures.

While we were driving home from our mission on the Mass Turnpike yesterday, I was bemoaning the fact that I did not have my camera with me and, even if I did, composing shots of a beautiful full moon rising while driving 65+ MPH is probably frowned upon by Massachusetts State Troopers.  The sky around it was gorgeous, as well as the lack of cluttered surrounding on the highway.  I also drove by some Oreo cows that I’ve been wanting to photograph ever since Andre became a part of my life.  (In my world, Oreo cow = belted galloway .  I find this breed of cow highly amusing and adorable).  My family giggled as I whined, “Oreo cows and a full moon and me without my camera!”  I’m going outside now to see if there is any sign of that lovely moon visible tonight.  This has to be one of the strangest paragraphs ever blogged.  But my family understands, and I love them for it!

November 19, 2010

A Rainbow of Autumn

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 5:22 pm
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I’d been trying to come up with a unique way to present my favorite fall photos for Scott Thomas’s assignment this month, when I thought of rainbows.  I was treated to a couple rainbows recently, and managed to get a few pictures, so I decided to present some of my favorite autumn shots in a rainbow of colors.
favorite fall fruit

Red macoun apple

dewy mum

Is this pink mum close enough to fit in the red category?

empty beach

Orange beach

Classic combination

Classic combination of cat and orange pumpkin

fading sunflower

Summer fades away like the sunflower, giving way to..

yellow yard

yellow leaves

green pond

green pond

sunny pine

green pine needles in afternoon sun

blue pond

shiny blue pond

Peregrine falcon

I saw this peregrine falcon soaring in the bright blue sky while I was raking leaves last weekend.

homemade grape jelly

I made purple grape jelly for the first time ever this fall

purple sky

and saw a lovely purple sky.

While I was composing this blog post, I had the lyrics to one of my favorite songs in my head, “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley:

Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach,

You can feel it in the air, the summer’s out of reach,

Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone…

Thanks again, Scott, for another fun assignment.  I will be looking forward to the assignments of 2011!

November 14, 2010

A Walk by Myself

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:16 pm
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As perhaps many of you did, I had this past Thursday off from work.  Thanks, Veterans!  You are appreciated for what you do. 

Since I had the day off, I took advantage of some crisp, sunny, weather and actually went for a walk by myself.  I was in the mood for some quiet contemplating and picture taking, so I went out without the dogs and got in the car.  I drove just a short distance to a little place here in town that I don’t often give much thought to, Spec Pond.  Spec is short for “spectacle” because there are actually two small ponds close together that look like a pair of spectacles when viewed from above.  I explored this little, local recreation area and came away with some shots that made me happy.


Afternoon sun shimmering on the pond


Sunlit leaves


Pond from the woods with quiet geese in the water


A full mouth!


A group of three.  What is it about the number 3?  Does it contain a certain magic?  As photographers, we always try to remember the rule of thirds.  Good or bad things are said to happen in three’s.  Three is always a special number in fairy tales – 3 bears, 3 pigs, 3 wishes.  And out of all the shots of the geese that I took this day, this one of the 3 geese I found most aesthetically pleasing.


Trying to be artsy with a cattail and sun low in the sky


Late afternoon shadow of photographer

It was a peaceful afternoon.  Andre and I spent some quality time together.  I’m trying out “Andre” for Camera’s name.  It was my sister’s suggestion and I think it is kind of cute due to this.  Although hubby tried to get my goat recently by saying he has named my camera “EWOT” – expensive waste of time!  I disagree!

November 12, 2010

I have more questions for you!

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 4:37 pm
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Food Mosiac

My food project idea is off to a great start!  I’ve received LOTS of helpful ideas from folks in the comments.  Gerry over at Torch Lake Views,  is planning a post to help me out, I’ve emailed and tweeted with some people, and I’ve responded to your comments.  Your comments have created even more questions from me!  So, if you are one of the kind and  helpful people who left me a comment on yesterday’s post, if you have the chance, could you go back and read my comment back to you?  It most likely contains another question or request!  Please feel free to email me as well.  If you need my email address, drop me a comment saying so.  I am hoping to photograph a few recipes and do a big round-up blog post for everyone to maybe get some new food ideas.  I know there are plenty of food blogs out there you can read, but I’m hoping this will turn into a post for us to enjoy everyday ideas and get out of those ruts!

If anyone was curious, those pictures are from my 365 photo-a-day project in 2008.  I took a lot of food shots on days when I felt like I couldn’t possibly find one more interesting photo subject.

E.T.A.:  Occurred to me after Michaela’s comment that it might not be obvious what each of those foods are.  Top left – homemade egg rolls, top right – crab cakes, middle left – fajita fixings, lower left – frittata, lower center – spaghetti with sauce made from tomatoes grown in my garden, lower right – pork chops with bacon butter!

November 11, 2010

I am not a food blogger…

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 10:36 am
Tags: , ,

… but, I take pictures of food.  Sometimes, those food pictures have become posts for recipes that I have shared with you.  Other times, the photos just sit there in my archives, sadly unused.  My sister recently came up with a name for this situation: Recipe Distraction Disorder.  She is a food blogger, however, so it seems somehow appropriate that she should have pictures of food all over her hard drive.  I sure as heck don’t fancy myself as a great cook, but I am capable of following a recipe and putting something decent to eat on the table.  On occasion, I have made something pretty darn good.  Since I started this blog in April,  I have thought to take pictures along the way when I have been in the process of cooking something that seems interesting or different that I’ve thought folks might like to read about or try for themselves.  Recipe Distraction Disorder (or RDD) seems to keep me from following through.  For example, back in June, I took some shots of my favorite grilled pizza  recipe:


That’s the crust, just in from the grill


A trying-to-be-interesting shot of garlic and olive oil about to be brushed on the crust


And the finished, gooey, cheese pizza.  Did I ever share this recipe with you?  Nope.  It is now November.  How many of you would even be interested in a recipe like this at this time of year?

Check out this one, from early July:

Berry muffins of some sort.  No other pictures accompany this one.  I’m thinking they are raspberry and blueberry, due to my abundant raspberry crop this year.  No notes or hint of a recipe appear anywhere around them.

For this one, I actually took a picture of the recipe…

the ingredients..

and mixing up the sauce…

… but no finished product!  I don’t even remember what we thought of it when we ate it.

Here’s some grilled chicken.

I often grill up some chicken on the George Foreman to add to a recipe.  What recipe was this for?  Haven’t got a clue.


A lone tomato.  Maybe I was just trying to be artsy with this one.  Maybe I was creating a memory of one of my favorite parts of summer.  Maybe I was just looking for another excuse to use Andre, or Cameron, or Bob, or whatever his name is.   But technically, another picture of food.

So where the heck am I going with all this?  To a request from you, dear reader.  I get into ruts with my dinners.  I end up making the same old meals over and over again.  I want to start being more organized with my food planning.  I’d like to remember recipes that the family enjoys so that I can make them again, and skip the ones that were met with less-than-favorable reviews.  Do you plan out a week of meals at a time?  Do you save recipes that you really like?  How do you organize dinner planning?  Do you decide what is for dinner each day on your way home from work?  How many times a week do you go to the grocery store or get take-out or eat out? Do you use or read any sort of online site to help you with these things on a regular basis?  Do you have any awesome, family-pleasing recipes to share with me? Please tell me any or all of these things in the comments.  If I end up getting a lot of great ideas from you all (feel free to share links to anything you find helpful), maybe I could do a follow up post for everyone to share.  I’d love to have lots of people participate in this, so if there is any chance you wouldn’t mind sharing this in a blog post or tweet or Facebook post of your own, I’d really appreciate it.

November 10, 2010

Photo Assignment Time at Scott’s Place

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 5:30 pm
Tags: ,


It is time once again for a photo assignment at Scott’s place.  This time,  however, you may already have the work done!  The assignment is Autumn 2010.  Scott’s looking for a variety of shots representing the season and you can share as few or as many as you’d like.  I pretty much spent last month doing just that with the “Picture Fall” class, so I am thinking I will probably be culling some of my favorites from the month, plus maybe a few others I haven’t had the chance to share yet, for my submission for Scott’s assignment.

In the meantime, if anyone has any shooting ideas for this not-favorite month of mine, I’d be oh-so-pleased if you’d share them in the comments.  I find myself missing my daily photo prompt emails from last month!

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