Thoughts and Wanderings

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Menu Planning

It's too expensive to go out to eat, and our meals at home are so much better than any restaurant we can go to. Papa makes the BEST BBQed steak!! Sometimes I buy myself a salmon steak and he BBQs it along with his beef steak.

I have my favorite grocery stores. One is a family market a short walk from my house. They have the best butcher counter, deli, vegetables, all kinds of gourmet items that you can't find anywhere else. Summer dinners for Papa and I have often been a walk together to the market to pick up something to BBQ, or one of their amazing prepared meats that you take home and put in the oven. BBQed something, fresh vegetables, delicious bread, and something simple for dessert like ice cream. We love good food.

Now that I'm getting ready to go back to school for the year, those weekday meals have to be planned a week in advance, so I went shopping today. Target for soaps and personal items and sometimes groceries. They have a good deal on Jimmy Dean sausage that Papa likes with his eggs in the morning, "string" cheese for my lunch box, sugar free ice cream sandwiches for Papa's dessert... 

Then I head over to Trader Joe, which is now in the same shopping center near my house. Today I went with my little "menu planner" sheet and I started to fill in the meals for each day. By the time I finished my shopping, this is what I had:

Monday: Trader Joe Cranberry Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts (fresh and ready for the oven)
Tuesday: Hamburgers (Trader Joe prepared and ready for the BBQ) on sour dough bread
Wednesday: BBQ Italian Sausage (From my freezer)
Thursday: Freezer Fun (I need to use whatever is oldest in there)
Friday: We're going to a ball game with friends, so dinner will be out.

I picked up some wonderful looking corn on the cob, fresh green beans, and fresh zucchini to have during the week. Frozen green beans and peas for my freezer. 

My lunch box always gets filled with leftovers from dinner, but I keep cheese and salami on hand along with fruit and cleaned raw vegetables. 

Ok. Bring on school. If I have my food, I'm ready to go!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics 2008 • Beijing, China

"... don't put an age limit on your dreams." 
Dara Torres

"...too many adults looked at Ms. Phelps's boy and saw what he couldn't do. This week, the world will be tuned to the Beijing Olympics to see what he can do." 
The New York Times • August 10, 2008

Vegetable Garden

Papa and I always like to stop by Sacramento to see the kids on our way to our Tahoe home. Since we have two families up there, we try to take turns. This time we stopped at M&A's for lunch. Our grandson is just going into 1st grade this month and is becoming such a little man. The first thing he did was to take me by the hand into his back yard to show me around.

He proudly counted the peppers growing in the pot and pointed out the basil and other herbs. He doesn't eat peppers, he said, but "I'll show you the tomatoes!" There were several tomato plants and he told me that I could have some "to take with you to Tahoe." "Here," he said, "I can get more for you!" He picked and I ate and my two hands were overflowing. He showed me how a branch of this tomato plant is growing straight through that tomato plant and it looks like there are two different kinds of tomatoes on one plant. "Funny, huh."

What I found interesting was the tomato that was striped red and yellow, some kind of heirloom plant I found out. "Here! I'll give you some of those too!" At which point he brought me over to the grapes growing on the arbor at the side of the house. "You like grapes?" By this time, I was sure I needed a bag. He was ready to climb up and pick grapes for me. 

Needless to say, Papa and I took off for Tahoe with the most delicious tomatoes and grapes, saying good bye to a proud little boy with a garden like his own personal "farmer's market."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Friendship Bread Starter

I baked today. My Friendship Bread starter needed attention. After doing a little research, I found out that the starter freezes with no ill effects. So, 10 days ago, I took a little zip lock bag of frozen starter out of my freezer and transferred it to a gallon zip lock bag. Day One. The next steps are easy. You just need to be home, take it with you on a trip, or find a sitter. I was home. 

When grandchildren come over, they love to squeeze the bag and I let them squeeze away. The starter loves the attention. And when the bag fills up with gas, it looks like a balloon ready to explode. 

At the end of the 10 days, you have 3 zip lock bags with 1 cup of starter each and a bowl with 1 1/2 cups starter that you use to bake. The idea is to give 2 bags away to friends and keep one for yourself to begin the process again. 

I tried one of my variations today and made Banana Friendship Bread. Two loaves. One for the freezer and one to eat. The last two times I kept all those 1 cup "give away" bags and put them in the freezer for safe keeping. Now my freezer is filling up with little Friendship Starter bags. I need to either throw them away, or find more friends!

But the bread cooling in the kitchen smells SO good! It's going to be delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. And those little bags in the freezer... I can plan on when I want my next baking day to be and possibly bake 4 loaves instead of giving some away.