Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

February 2, 2015

Another Snowstorm, More Musing

I’m starting to think I should make “Snow Day Musings” a regular feature around here. Snow days from school seem to be the days lately that I find the time to blog and share what’s been happening in my little part of the world.

The last time I posted, a snow day started off what was my last week as the long term sub for 6th grade math. I’m back to working as paraprofessional again, and let me tell you it takes some getting used to. I’m so very appreciative for the experience that I had as a teacher and now I think it is going to push me in the direction I think I need to take. I’ve been practicing and studying to get ready to take the teacher’s test for middle school math. If I can pass this test,(that’s a big “IF” at this point: the test has trigonometry and calculus on it!! Ay yi yi!) I can add being able to teach 5th through 9th grade math to my teaching license. I’m currently certified to teach 5th through 12th grade social studies. Those of you familiar with the Common Core are surely aware of the dismal view of the future of social studies classes. Opportunities for social studies teachers will become fewer in the future, I’m sure, as social studies blends into English Language Arts classes. That is the way social studies is treated by the Common Core.
Thinking of the future

In that last post, I also mentioned thinking about a new lens and trying to get back into photography this year. All the white I’m surrounded by lately has me less than inspired, but I have been researching the lens. The more I read, the more I want it. I’ve decided that if I make the investment, I will definitely go with the Canon lens. The Canon is the only one in this price category (85mm portrait lens) that has autofocus. Tack sharp focus is something I’d really like to work on in my photography and I don’t think buying a manual-focus-only lens to save some money will help me reach that goal. So I’m researching and scheming and watching a few places to try to get the Canon lens for the best possible price.

My area did not receive the worst of the snow from that last storm, but just 45 minutes away in Worcester where Meghan goes to school, they did. Worcester received 34.5 inches of snow from that storm. We have been lucky that the snow has been light and fluffy rather than wet and heavy. Meghan sent me a few pictures from around campus after the storm.
Snow drift
A snow drift taller than she is

On campus at Clark
Those piles will be getting taller today!

While I am talking about college, happy news came for Sarah this weekend:
Acceptance for Sarah
Wentworth Institute of Technology is the school we went to visit last summer that I told you about in this post. It turned out to be Sarah’s first choice of all of the schools she applied to. We have not heard back from the other schools yet, but I have a feeling that unless we are unable to work with this school financially, this is where she will be enrolling for the fall. It has been a great few days for Sarah. In addition to this wonderful news, she just came home yesterday from a wonderful trip to Florida. Sarah participated in her high school’s technology department trip to Disney World. They spent 3 days taking “behind the scenes” classes with the Disney Y.E.S. program as well as having free time to explore the parks. She brought me home this adorable Mickey pendant because, in her words, she thought I deserved something nice. ūüôā
Mickey pendant

Before all this snow arrived, we did have a peek at the sun yesterday. (Thank goodness Sarah’s return flight was yesterday and not today!) Daphne seemed to be enjoying it.
Enjoying a spot of sunshine
She is my solar-powered golden non-retriever after all! (Yes, I say non-retriever. Daphne has never been much of a retriever. She fetched a few balls in her puppyhood days but quickly decided that game wasn’t really her style.)

And oh yeah, there was a big game of some sort yesterday too, right? Yes, of course, the Super Bowl was yesterday and our local boys, the New England Patriots, are the champs. I am not a big football person at all but I’m very happy for the hometown team. After the dismal performance of my Red Sox last year, it is very nice to have the local team to be proud of. I don’t get invited to Super Bowl parties or have a big celebration, but I do use it as an excuse to have not-so-good-for-you food. For sitting in front of the t.v. yesterday I made Queso Fundido, chicken tenders (buffalo style for me, honey mustard for Sarah) and the Pioneer Woman’s Pizza Potato Skins
Super Bowl treat
They were delicious! I may have spoiled myself against eating frozen potato skins any more these were so good. Did you know they made little tiny pepperoni slices like that? I just discovered them yesterday when I went grocery shopping and they were perfect.

And now here we are, back to today and more snow. Here’s what I found this morning at my “squirrel proof” bird feeder:
"Squirrel proof" bird feeder

A fish eye view of the backyard:
Fisheye view of snowstorm

Well, that was a lot of musing! But who knows when you’ll hear from me next – maybe the next snow day! ūüėČ

February 21, 2011

COOKIES!

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 5:12 pm
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After our thoroughly enjoyable thaw a few days ago, I awakened to this again:
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Yep, another couple inches of snow.¬† Mother Nature is pretty funny isn’t she?¬† Anyway, I went grocery shopping today and decided today would be a good day to bake a recipe I’d been planning to try for a couple weeks.¬† BlueBonnetBaker¬†tweeted out her creation of a recipe called Movie Theatre Cookies.¬† Kettle corn and raisinets baked together in a cookie?¬† I was intrigued.

This recipe said it made 18 large cookies Рan ice cream scoop is the recommended portion of dough.  I got 16 cookies out of the batch and have 3 teenagers in the house today, so this is a picture of the whole batch:

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The verdict? Tasty!¬† But I didn’t really taste a lot of the popcorn flavor.¬† The raisinets were delicious in the cookie.¬† Meghan suggests using more than the 1 cup of popcorn the recipe calls for the next time I make them.¬† The next time – I guess that means she liked them.

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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! ūüėČ ).¬†

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! ūüėČ ).¬† 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

Chili

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:
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Just tonight, I made the most awesome turkey soup I’ve ever made in my life:
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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:
IMG_2268

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 24, 2010

With apologies to Lydia Maria Child

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:25 pm
Tags: , ,

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:
IMG_2235

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 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:

P6292576

That’s the crust, just in from the grill

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

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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:
P7032702

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…
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the ingredients..
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and mixing up the sauce…
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… but no finished product!¬† I don’t even remember what we thought of it when we ate it.

Here’s some grilled chicken.
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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.

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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.