Making Progress on Scheduling Challenges!

For some time I’ve been overwhelmed with how to keep all the details of life together in this season.  We’re grandparents of a 3-year-old who’s here most weekdays, we’re building a new house while living in the garage/studio (doing some finish work on it at the same time), we pastor a church (I oversee the children’s ministry team), have a small construction business, greenhouse and garden, raise chickens for eggs and meat, sell a bit of garden produce…

So, today I sat down to lay out some of the elements that need to be tied together into one coordinated schedule (I don’t want to have 5 or 6 different lists–aarrgh).  I’ve begun to identify several weekly elements:  kids’ church responsibilities, financial deadlines,  government reports due dates, bookkeeping entries for each bank account, personal and business.  Then there are monthly tasks–business sales tax report, allowance check and reimbursement check for monies we’ve spent on budgeted items from our personal allowance, reconciling each bank statement, printing reports from QuickBooks.  A couple quarterly reports for withholding deposits (personal) and employee reports (business) add to the seeming complexity of the situation.  Then there are strictly household tasks like meal planning, garden and greenhouse scheduling, home cleaning and maintenance tasks, oil changes, tire rotation, etc. etc.

I’m still in the “think of a piece, write it down, sort it out later” phase. However, I’m envisioning a coordination with my small purse planner and a section of the household notebook where I’ll have a dated monthly check-off list of regular responsibilities with room to plug in appointments or meetings from the purse planner.  One of the check-off items will be checking that planner.

Another part of this “planning storm” is the idea of developing a “Favorites” list for Costco, our local healthy foods market and any other general house/kitchen items.  With that list to check against, each time I’m buying from that location, I’ll at least have a record of my “regulars.”

Reading over again what I’ve written, I’m keenly aware of the very large size of this undertaking.  I’ll have to take incremental “small bites.”  Blogging it should help me keep on track and moving forward.  Stay tuned…

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June 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm Leave a comment

Plain Ole Hamburger Pasta Made Special

Yes, I know I haven’t written since the end of April–which prompted an “oh my gosh!” response when I first realized how long it had been. However, moving and beginning a new house have been taking significant amounts of both time and creative energy, not to mention matching (no, trying to match) activity levels with a 3-year-old most days. Yikes!

Anyway, here’s a process for making “really good” pasta. It was on my menu plan to do some sort of hamburger macaroni dish tonight, which didn’t sound particularly inspired. But…I pulled an old issue of Fine Cooking off the shelf, one that had an article on baked pasta, and there was the inspiration.

Basically, it’s about the “process,” not an exact recipe. I still browned my hamburger (pastured beef) with onions in a little coconut oil, then made a fairly thin bechamel sauce and added asparagus, a few dried morel mushrooms, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of Anaheim chili flakes, just a little cheddar cheese and grated parmesan.

I cooked penne pasta for two minutes less than the box suggested, drained it but didn’t rinse it. Then I combined the sauce and pasta in a shallow baking pan (mine’s oval shaped, about 8″x12″ or so).   I sprinkled on bread crumbs (easy to make in the Vita-Mix or a food processor), another grinding of parmesan and into a preheated 425F oven for about 17-18 minutes.

Again, it’s the process and principles that are important:
1) undercook the pasta; don’t rinse it
2) make a thin white sauce
3) use breadcrumbs for a crispy top
4) go lightly on the cheese–just add a little flavor
5) season each element as you go; salt and pepper on top won’t permeate the whole dish
6) bake in a hot oven for a short time to keep the pasta from “gluing” itself together

We really liked it!

June 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

I’m Still Here!

Just a very quick note to say that I haven’t abandoned my blog. I just spent a few moments touching base with some other favorite blogs out there. I’m inspired, but it can’t be a major focus right now.

We’re moving out of a mobile home that’s been on our property for 20 years (and we’ve lived in for the past 6 years ourselves). We’ll be completely out with another few hours effort, and we’re becoming more comfortably ensconced in the garage as a short-term living quarters as we build a house. Yay! My kitchen routine is extremely disrupted at the moment–dishes, stove, sink and dishwasher in the mobile home, refrigerator, washer/dryer and increasingly more of the essentials in the garage. I’m thinking, “give me another few hours” (and a friend plumbing in the garage sink) and we’ll be functional again. Actually, I did soak batter for pancakes last night, so we’ll have a good breakfast. It’s just odd, rather disorienting experiencing such a major disruption in routine.

I’ll keep posting as we go, possibly putting up a few pictures as well. It’s a good thing, positive, but chaotic. Thanks for our lovely, administrative daughter who spent a couple hours (after working all day) helping sort it out and bring some order and breathing space. I’m hopeful that we’ll soon be somewhat normal again. Oh, and one of the plusses from yesterday–there was room for a larger table in the kitchen space so we can actually have friends for dinner without banging into each others’ knees. That’s a “God gift!”

More later…

April 24, 2010 at 6:16 am Leave a comment

Soaked Whole Grain Bread

This was an amazing, easy recipe that husband, daughter, grandson, kids’ ministry team, and I all enjoyed!  I made it for my team leaders meeting, and along with the vegetable beef soup (made with my homemade beef stock), it was a well received lunch.

To make the bread start the night before you’ll bake it.  Combine 3 cups flour (I used whole wheat and kamut) with 1 cup warm water and 2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar.  Mix well with a wooden spoon, then cover the bowl tightly.

The next day:  proof yeast using about 2 ounces warm water, a little honey, and 2 tsp yeast; let sit until it bubbles up; add to soaked mixture.

Then add:  2 Tbsp melted coconut oil, 1-2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp salt.

Mix thoroughly; knead til smooth.  Let rise in an oiled bowl til doubled.  Punch down and shape into a loaf (I made rolls instead); let rise again til doubled.  Then bake at 350F for about 30 minutes (even the rolls seemed to need that much time).  Success–they were light, tender, great tasting!  Now I’ll try a loaf of bread.

(recipe slightly adapted from the blog: Cracking an Egg with One Hand)

March 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm 1 comment

It’s spring…already?

Predictions are for the weather to be in the 50s this week–that’s a major blessing after the tough, long winter we had last year!  Going out in the greenhouse this noon I found 7 little pea shoots making their way out of the ground, along with the little bed of spinach coming up nicely and even my late addition of kale making a showing.  The French breakfast radishes, speedy little guys that they are, are filling in nicely and I’m anticipating adding them to our fresh salads before too many more weeks pass.  A fairly small bed of salad greens wintered over nicely and now are genuinely growing.  We can feast on salads again!!  And then the new bed of greens is coming along nicely, but it won’t be eating size for quite awhile.  It’s always a matter of planning ahead, checking my notebook to see what worked before, and a little bit of trial and error.  Never fails to feed my hungering, thirsting soul.

Maybe this afternoon (after or before short nap and walk?) I can get a few broccoli seeds in the ground in there.  Usually I winter over some broccoli, too, but that didn’t happen this year.  It’s time, too, to begin seriously planning for spring and summer gardening outside.  I like to grow heirloom tomatoes, sell a few, and give the surplus away.  I’ll pull out my tomato marketing plan from last year, revise it a little and get it out there and available.  Amazing that we can be that far into spring already:-)

I’d love to hear from other “inland northwest” gardeners, especially if you use unheated greenhouses for food crops.  Let me know what you’re eating, planning, planting right now.

March 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm Leave a comment

Planting Time!

This morning grandson and I spent a good hour out in the greenhouse–outside its lower 40’s, inside lower 70’s.   Aaaaah.  This is my very favorite time of year to be working inside where it genuinely feels like spring though there’s still a bite in the air outside.

We planted the kale seeds that had come in yesterday’s mail, hopeful that the warmth and increasing light will speed germination.  Kale is way too expensive this time of year to buy at the market, but I do it anyway for green smoothies most every morning.

So now we have a bed of salad greens (a mixture that I planted early last fall to eat in the winter) there for the picking, and we also have another bed of greens plus early peas and radishes.  A friend and I planted those two weeks ago, but the weather hasn’t yet cooperated enough to get them boogying.  There are a few salad starts (tiny and tentative), but nothing else popping up yet.  I planted a small section of bloomsdale spinach last week–nothing there yet either.

It’s a waiting game, one I’m not very good at right now.  I want to see these vegies up and growing!  With the greenhouse, it’s still a guessing game as well.  I’m continuing to learn when it’s best to plant what crop, and which ones are actually worthwhile growing inside.  Some things do just as well outside for us, some things are good inside during certain parts of the year, and some things excell when they’re grown in the protected environs of the greenhouse.  The challenge is constantly learning which is which.

One thing that definitely works (and makes the whole thing seem worthwhile!) is planting salad greens in the late summer/early fall, letting them come up and keep growing through mid- to late-November, then basically sit (pickable but not growing) until sometime in early February when there’s enough light to start new growth.  It’s truly luxurious to have fresh salad fixings–crisp, sweet, juicy–just out the back door in the dead cold of winter!

February 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Still soaking (whole grain muffins, tortillas)

I’m practicing my soaking again; today we had a couple winners. First up was a batch of muffins that is going to make a great basic recipe in my binder. This time I added a mashed banana, both for flavor and for moisture. The recipe comes from Wardeh’s blog, Gnowfglins; it’s a sample tutorial recipe from her upcoming eCourse on traditional food preparation. I’m definitely glad I tried it as it’s going to be a foundational recipe in my recipe notebook. Click here to access Wardeh’s blog and find out about her coming course, and naturally, find this recipe.

My other success story today in the kitchen was whole grain tortillas. I’ve tried soaking tortillas before, but never quite got the product I was looking for. Today’s tortillas were beautiful–soft and pliable, looking much like the hand-fashioned tortillas in Mexico–as well as delicious. My husband and I were both impressed, and this is another “keeper”. The recipe comes from Stephanie at “Keeper of the Home,”  “http://www.keeperofthehome.org/”>.

Soaking is fun–it does take planning ahead, but after that it’s easy!  One of the next things I’d like to try is yeast bread.  Sue Gregg has a sample recipe on her web site; I’ll keep you posted.

February 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm 1 comment

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