Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Food Part of Home Economics

 

Pretty little gem-like tomatoes.  Can't do summer without tomatoes!!!!!


I'm jumping in with a little post about something that I've been doing lately, found that it's been working well for us, and wanted to share it with you.

I don't know if schools even have Home Economics classes anymore, or if you remember your Home Economics class, or if you even learned anything from Home Economics!!!  I certainly didn't learn much.  But I was ALWAYS interested in it.  I was in 4-H too and loved everything I learned through that.  In fact, I wanted to BE a Home Economics teacher but it just didn't work out for me, so I practice in my own home on my own family.  : )

I bring this up because I love reading cookbooks and books about nutrition - always have, always will.  There is something about food that intrigues me.  I'm very interested in how food works together to give us the proper nutrition we need to stay healthy.  Food as medicine, so to speak.  I'm not a nutritionist or in the medical field whatsoever, so everything I talk about in this post is only my take on things.  Only you know what is best for you and your family.  But my hope is that I can encourage each one of you to take a closer look at what you eat, but more importantly how MUCH you eat.  That is what I'm going to discuss today.  Portion control.

I've known for a while now that we, here at home, eat too much.  And even though we aren't overweight, we could certainly benefit by loosing a few pounds.  But, even at that, to me good nutrition isn't about weight loss, it's about maintaining health.  Which takes me back to the point of what we learned (or should have) in Home Economics - and that is the Food Groups (which used to be the 4 food groups, but I call it 5) and what the "daily servings" amounts really are!

I never really thought about it too much until I was reading a book on nutrition and it was showing the amounts that we should be eating!  Oh, no.  You mean when I'm serving spaghetti sauce over pasta I'm supposed to only plate up 1/2 cup pasta and 1/2 cup sauce?  I can't fill my entire plate with pasta and then put on as much sauce as I want?!  How will I (we) ever survive on so little?!  But wait.......you can and you will and you'll feel better for it.

Because when you plan your meals around the food groups, every meal will contain everything you need for good health and to take care of hunger.  You will have the:

*Bread/cereal/grain group (which requires 6-11 servings/day)
*Vegetable group (which requires 3-5 servings/day)
*Fruit group (which requires 2-4 servings/day)
*Dairy group (which requires 2-3 servings/day)
*Protein group (which requires 2-3 servings/day)

In our home, I plan for three meals a day so I just do the math.  But first I need to know what a serving really is.  Let's take my spaghetti meal as an example:

*The bread/cereal/grain group would include 1/2 cup pasta and 1 slice of garlic bread = 2 servings
*The vegetable group would include 1 cup leafy greens and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes = 2 servings
*The fruit group would include either 1 med. whole fresh fruit or 1 cup berries = 1 serving
*The dairy group would include 8 oz. milk, or 1 oz. of cheese, or 1 cup of a dairy dessert = 1 serving
*The protein group would be the scant 1/2 cup sauce w/meat = 1 serving

There is NO way that you could get up from the table with all the above food and still be hungry!  That is what we've found out.  Instead of the focus of the meal being the spaghetti with meat sauce and eating all you can with just that, we now focus on the whole instead of the part.  It's in balance now because we've cut back on the main and inserted the others.  Also, you can see that the serving portions are very small but when you put them all together it's more than enough!  AND it's healthier because your body is getting more vitamins and minerals from eating a variety of foods.

I have to say that since doing this I can tell a difference in my skin, my nails, and my hair and even in my clothes!  That is telling me that I was probably deficient in something before.

Again, you would obviously design your meals for whatever needs you have - dairy intolerance, gluten intolerance, diabetes, etc.   There are some foods that react negatively to certain medications - but if you are one of those people you already know what to do in that area.  

And, we stick only to three meals.  My husband is more a snack person than I am, but I have my moments so I make sure that we have popcorn around or a bit of dark chocolate or seeds/nuts.

I'm not a diet person.  I have never dieted.  I know myself too well - I know that I wouldn't be able to stick to it.  But I am a proponent of eating healthy.  So we can take the spaghetti meal and add 2 more meals to it and see how we come up with the recommended daily requirements.

Let's start with breakfast:  (I know there is such controversy over breakfast nowadays - no breakfast, late breakfast, etc.) - we have breakfast so I'm just going with what we do.

*The bread/cereal/grain group - 1 cup cold cereal, or 1/2 cup oatmeal along with 1 slice of toast = 2 servings
*The vegetable group - I don't incorporate any vegetables in our breakfast unless it's a weekend egg frittata that has mushrooms/spinach/peppers, etc. in it - so during the week there is no serving in this group, but on weekends I can add 1/2 cup cooked vegetables = 1 serving
*The fruit group - either 1 cup berries on your cereal, or 6 oz. orange juice, or 1/2 banana, or 1/2 grapefruit, or 2 Tbsp. of raisins on your oatmeal = 1 serving
*The dairy group - 8 oz. milk on the cereal = 1 serving
*The protein group - 2 Tbsp. peanut butter on your toast = 1 serving

Now.....on to lunch:

*Bread/cereal/grain group - 2 slices of whole grain bread for a sandwich = 2 servings
*The vegetable group - 1 cup leafy greens with 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes = 2 servings
*The fruit group - 1 medium whole fruit, or 1 cup berries, or 15 grapes = 1 serving
*The dairy group - 1 8 oz. glass of milk, or 8 oz. of cottage cheese, or 1 oz. of cheese, or cup of a dairy dessert = 1 serving
*The protein group - 3 oz. of meat on your sandwich, or 2 eggs on your sandwich = 1 serving

Let's do the math.

For the 3 meals in one day you will get:

6 servings of the bread/cereal/grain group - the daily requirement is 6 - 11 servings
5 servings of the vegetable group - the daily requirement is 3 - 5 servings
3 servings of the fruit group - the daily requirement is 2 - 4 servings
3 servings of the dairy group - the daily requirement is 2 - 3 servings
3 servings of the protein group - the daily requirement is 2 - 3 servings

You have met your daily requirements, your meal is balanced, your body is getting the nutrition.  

If you're thinking that this is a LOT of work.  It is.  But it can be done.  In my last post I said that I was tired of reading labels but that is for looking at unacceptable ingredients.  I read the labels for the serving size written on the container.  That is where you can get the amount that you are supposed to eat.  Go by that information and incorporate it into your meals.  I think that's the first step.  Next, I'm beginning to take some of our favorite meals and writing menus out for each meal and what I would serve that with - writing down the appropriate amounts of the food groups.  And, then, being mindful of what you're serving and how much when you actually have the meal in front of you.  After a while, you will just come to know the serving size without really thinking about it.

I know a lot of people do NOT like to write menus.  They like to just have a lot of food on hand and whatever they feel like having that day is what they will cook.  Schedules DO change and what you had planned on one day may not happen and you have to opt for something else.  That's totally okay because this isn't meant to be limiting, it's meant to make sure that we're getting the nutrition we need and you can do that by planning or by winging it because it comes down to portion control and balance.  Think of all the food we have to choose from!!!  There is no way that this kind of eating is limiting.

The bread group can include whole grain bread, bagels, healthy cereals, oatmeal, rice, pasta, cornmeal, barley, quinoa, English muffins, pancakes, waffles, crackers (even the occasional cinnamon roll!).  Just remember the proportion.

The vegetable group can include green peas, spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet peppers, squash, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, jicama, pumpkin, potatoes (although use these sparingly)

The fruit group can include bananas, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, pears, raspberries, blueberries, apples, strawberries, prunes, cranberries, lemons, kiwi.

The dairy group can include milk, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, cheese, vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, smoothies.

The protein group can include poultry, fish, red meat, eggs, beans, shrimp, crab.

Such a variety of food.  You can't get bored because each of these can be prepared in so many wonderful ways and the different menus would be endless.

Other foods that are good for us are what we use to cook with such as garlic and onions, the different herbs and spices, dried fruit, beverages such as herbal teas and green tea.

Some make-ahead tips for all of this are:
*hard boiling a dozen eggs for the week - they come in so handy for that protein need and can be eaten for breakfast, or for an egg sandwich, or on top of a main-dish salad.
*wash and cut up the fruits and vegetables - they will be ready to eat or cook with at a moments notice.  The only fruit that I don't cut up in advance is watermelon.  When it's cut up and sits in it's own juice, it gets pretty mushy after a while - so cut up just enough needed for when you're serving it.
*go through all the recipes that you will make your menus from and be sure you have all the ingredients you need for the week.

Well, I think that's all I have for you.  Again, I'm not an expert at this but I did want to share what works for us and maybe encourage you to look at the food you are serving but portioning it as well.  I know for us, we just got used to serving up as much as we wanted and then even going back for seconds!!!  WAY too much. It's not good to get up from the table feeling stuffed.  There should still be a little wiggle room.  : )  For some, it may be wise to talk to a certified nutritionist that could walk through your daily dietary needs to make sure you are getting the most out of your food.  I just can't afford to do that so I'm just trying to be wise in it all.  Like you, we know what foods don't cooperate with our bodies.  Our son can't eat beans - he's allergic to them.  And we know what foods we absolutely do not like - it's peaches for me!!!!  Ick.

So, you know your family and you know what works!!!  Please let me know how you plan YOUR meals.  : )  Have fun with this.

God bless.  Thanks for taking the time to read my post!






Saturday, July 17, 2021

July Newsletter

 

More summer flowers in bloom.  : )


July is half over.  My, oh, my.  It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs as far as temperatures.  Upper 90's and then upper 60's, back to upper 90's.............and the rains have been few and far between.  I feel like gone are the days when a good soaking rain would just settle in for a couple days, because now it comes in and goes out in a matter of a few hours (and sometimes in a matter of a few minutes!).  It barely gets down deep into the roots.  During the winter months I tried to learn about plants that could get through drought conditions and some of them actually are doing okay, but the annuals just need that extra water on a pretty regular basis.  I'm very happy that we got a rain barrel a few years back because even with those few and far between showers, it does fill up and can be used during these dry spells.  If your community/state allows you to collect rainwater (because I hear that some states won't let you) I would encourage you to either purchase a rain barrel or make one out of large plastic garbage containers (there are all kinds of instructions on-line).

While I was working outside with the plants and weeding and cleaning things up, I got to thinking about the various plants that we can root and then grow even more plants from! I thought it would be a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone on your list that loves plants and wouldn't mind nurturing one in their own homes over the winter months.  A couple of leaves were broken off on our Begonia so I brought them in, put them in water, and they grew roots like crazy.  I was able to put them in small terra cotta pots:

the Begonia these fell off of is in the background under the tree

look at this - it already has a little flower on it!!!!

I think anyone would love to receive this as a gift - if you do this now, the plants will have time to root, you can pot them, and they can establish themselves.   Just look around at all the plants you have (inside and outside) and give it a try.  Some might not work, but I think it's important to at least give it a try!  : ) Clay pots are very inexpensive so I bought a lot of them in different sizes because I'm really excited about doing this.  Geraniums work well as do Christmas cactus and then think of herbs - mint, rosemary, basil, etc. (which would be great to give someone who enjoys cooking).  Make a list of all the people who would love this "green" gift from you.  

I'm actually kind of thinking Christmas lately and hoping to get back to a more traditional Christmas this year.  We were talking about it with our son and he, also, agreed.  I'm not sure when the idea of fulfilling everyone's wants on one day of the year came from.  Doesn't a Christmas in a warm house with festive decorations and comfort, lots of good food to eat, and fun games with joy and laughter sound good?  I'm still going to ask for Christmas gift lists but this year I want to narrow it down to purchasing something needed and practical, and then something fun that they don't want to purchase for themselves but can still use.   But I think that's about it.  We always have stocking gifts as well, but in the past few years these gifts are those that can be used up - toiletry items, something for an on-going hobby, snacks, etc. - nothing that goes into a drawer or on a closet shelf and eventually tossed or given away. Years ago we used to give some silly gifts and then never knew what to do with them because people actually spent good money - thankfully that is over.  I hope this helps you as well.  Are you thinking Christmas yet?  Do you think you'll do anything different this year?

I only have a couple of recipes to share with you this time around.  And I'm sorry - no photos - it's so hard to remember!!!!  The first one is a homemade Catalina Salad Dressing.  Building (and maintaining) a pantry is important to me (actually I just read about that in Proverbs this morning - how we are to stock up in the summer and fall months for the winter), but more and more I feel that having the ingredients to make things is more important than having the actual product.  Again, it's good to know what goes into the recipe and I really do get tired of reading all those labels for questionable stuff.  It doesn't mean that I don't have any ready-made products on my shelf (because I do), I just like making more on my own.  Anyway........that was a long intro to the dressing, wasn't it?  : o

CATALINA  SALAD DRESSING

Make the dry mix first - SO handy to have on the pantry shelf!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. parsley

Mix well and put into a Ziploc baggie.  When ready to make, pour the mix into a mason jar and add:

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup ketchup

Shake well and enjoy.  Even my picky husband liked it!!!!!  Yeah!!!!!  : )

When we're in corn-on-the-cob season, this next "recipe" is such a time saver and they come out perfect every time.

CROCKPOT CORN-ON-COB

3-6 ears of corn
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water

Husk corn and remove silk.  Lay each ear on a sheet of foil.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and then wrap them up.  Add the water to the bottom of the crockpot and lay the corn in.  3 ears should fit lengthways and additional ears on top.  Cook on Low for 3 hours.  Unwrap and enjoy!!!!

And then there are the personal things that I'm doing:

*Continuing to send letters to the Senior Center
*Crocheting quilt blocks
*Knitting prayer shawls

WHAT I'M READING:

 I received these books for my birthday!!!!  I've already read the Nancy Drew book and I'm well into the one of the Charles Spurgeon books and loving it.  : )  I like having two or three books going at the same time!  

Remember to keep reading!!!!  Remember to keep your children/grandchildren in books!!!!!  What are you reading?


WHAT I'M WATCHING ON YOUTUBE:

*A Quilter's Life - I'm not a quilter, but there is something real about this mother/daughter team that makes it enjoyable to listen to while doing other things.  Sometimes they talk about other things too that can be helpful in any craft/hobby we do.
*P. Allen Smith - he is definitely my mentor on everything gardening - I'm learning SO much.  When I have time, I will bring my gardening notebook out and stream this on the television and sit and take notes.  : )
*Behind the scenes of the Walton's with Judy Norton - if you're a fan of The Walton's, I think you'll like it - not a "learning" thing but just interesting.
*America's Test Kitchen and/or Cook's Country - these are fun to listen to while in the kitchen.  : )

Remember to keep learning!!!!   Remember to not let your kids/grandkids take a break from learning in the summer - we don't have to be strict, but show them that learning can be fun!   Do you have a favorite channel on YouTube that you watch and learn from regularly?  

EXTRA:

I was thinking about the importance faith, in the Lord Jesus, is in homemaking.  I truly believe that the Lord is interested in what we do in the home.  "Do everything as unto the Lord" is important.  I know that I've said this before but when you cook, clean, garden, parent.........and you feel like nobody cares or nobody notices........just remember that the Lord sees you.  I encourage you to put Him first and He will give you the energy and motivation to make it through the day.  Because as we all know, sometimes it feels like we're just trying to make it through the day.  Lean into the Lord and ask Him to pick you up and carry you through.  He does and He will.  : )

Sometimes when I talk to people and they have a burden or a problem, I feel like I need to be more bold in asking them if they've taken this to the Lord.  I think we often feel like if we can just talk to someone they will be able to encourage and give advice but I have found that in talking to the Lord about everything first is what I need more than anything else.  He knows it all anyway and He is the only one who can do anything about anything, so why not just go to Him?

In this crazy world we live in, I feel like wisdom and discernment is a thing of the past!!!  I just finished the Book of Exodus and felt that, instead of going on to Leviticus, I needed to go to the Book of Proverbs (the book of wisdom!) instead.  God's Word says that "if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God" - so in my reading I have an opportunity to pray Scripture and ask God for wisdom, discernment, and understanding.  What a wonderful gift God has given us - His Word!  To be able to open it daily and read the very words He has spoken and then we can learn from it.  SO amazing.  : )  I was thinking the other day that if you are a parent/grandparent, what a wonderful summer study this would be!  Our kids need to gain wisdom and discernment as they live in this world.  You would be able to read it together and talk it over - it gives them a safe place to discuss these things with you and not with others who might mislead them or give them false information.  There's a LOT of false teaching out there!!!!  Of course, some things in Proverbs you WILL have to be discerning - I feel like some of it needs to be age-appropriate and you need to decide what to discuss with the children.

Lastly, our church is taking the month of July for a time of Prayer and Fasting and I would encourage you in this as well.  It's a time of eating less and eating healthy while keeping our eyes on Jesus.  Our prayer weeks are broken down into 4 areas:

*Week one - prayer for health and healing.  Make a list of everyone you know that needs healing (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual).  Remember also to praise the Lord for His help!

*Week two - prayer for the lost.  We all know someone who is lost.  Those who haven't trusted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  Make a list of those who need Jesus.  Those who are in bondage to sin and cannot free themselves - for the Lord to break the chains and free them!

*Week three - prayer for our cities and nation.  We all know that everything is upside down.  Right is wrong, wrong is right.  Tension, lawlessness, riots, crime, violence.  Only God can bring healing and we know that we need to be brought back to the Bible.  We need restoration and forgiveness!

*Week four - prayer for personal help.  We all need God to intervene in our lives so that we can bring hope to others even when everything around us seems dark and hopeless.  Pray that He will strengthen you.

I encourage you in this.  Maybe this is something that you can begin in your own church and small groups and families.  Praying together (even if it's just husband/wife, or family) is important.  God hears us and wants to answer!

Lastly, and I know I haven't said this in a while.......if you have never given your life to Christ I encourage you to do that.  Today.  God's Word says that "today is the day of salvation" - we aren't guaranteed tomorrow.   We are all so concerned about our plans for each and every day (and it's important to plan and do what we need to do) but what is truly important is our concern for our salvation and where we will spend eternity.  Eternity is a LONG time!  It's forever!!!  This life here on earth is temporary - what comes after that is what matters.

Well, I think that is it!  Thank you SO much for taking the time to stop by for a visit.  I appreciate all of you and I'm very thankful for you.  May God bless your homemaking efforts and I'll see you again!!!  

 





Saturday, July 3, 2021

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND!!!!

 

The next picture on our kitchen calendar - so cute.  : )


Well, Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!!!  I hope you have some plans in store with family and friends and I pray that you will all remain safe and healthy through it all.  : )

We celebrate the 4th today and have ever since I can remember because it just seems to work out better for everyone which is fine.  This weekend here will be very hot and humid (along with almost everyone else everywhere else!).  Tonight will be the fireworks display after having nothing last year so we're looking forward to that.  It will be a day of getting things ready for a suppertime picnic at our son's house tonight so that will keep me busy.  : )

I hope we will all remember to be bold and courageous in our stand to defend our country.  And I hope that we will all remember to continue to be on our knees in prayer for this country.   I believe the Lord is listening to our prayers and continues to help us during this time.  We all know there are little sub-groups of people who are bent on destroying, but God is faithful and just and will deliver us if we just keep calling on His Name!  Our future depends on it.

I just wanted to share some photos before I go:

instead of disposing (properly, of course) an old flag, my husband put it on a frame and then hung it up on our fence for the weekend.  I love the way it looks.  Don't be afraid to display our flag!!!!  

a little banner along the side yard.  Be patriotic!  : )

the flowers in the raised containers are just so pretty and full right now - with all the heat we at least make sure that the beds are watered.

I read an idea the other day about using your children's old toys in the garden so I have 3 little trucks scattered around the yard.  I think it looks really cute.  : )

I filled this old firepit with soil in the Spring and then sprinkled two packages of wildflower seed in it - this is what happened!  The different flowers are starting to blossom now.  And then, of course, I tuck tiny flags in pots around the house!  : )

I just love these coneflowers - every morning though I see one nipped off and laying on the ground - naughty bunny!  It gives me a good excuse to bring them in and put them in a jar to pretty up the kitchen!  : )

My herb "garden" - mint, basil, chives, rosemary.  : )

Beautiful cloud formation over our house - isn't it amazing?!


There.  I think that's it.  I just wanted to drop in to wish you a very nice upcoming weekend.  God bless you and your families and may God continue to bless the U.S.A.!!!!!
















Friday, June 25, 2021

June Newsletter Part 2

 

Hollyhock.  Different than what I was used to growing up - but it's still pretty.  : )


Well.....hello!!!!  Glad you are here for Part 2 of my June newsletter.  : )  I've been busy writing things down and I'm excited to share them with you.

We had such beautiful weather at the beginning of the week, but it turned hot and humid again.  Only for a couple of days though from what they are telling us.  We usually have a lush, green lawn - not this year.  In some spots it is burned to a crisp.  We just can't keep up.  It's important right now to keep all the plantings alive so that is where our emphasis on watering goes.

*Last time I had mentioned the three decorating styles (along with homemaking styles) I tend to be - Farmhouse, Cottage, and Cabin.  I, again, wrote a few more things down in regards to this while cleaning the house.  I feel we should show our style and what to bring into the home - what we like and how that reflects our families.  In our home:

The farmhouse style means that I have a few signs around, I display old photos, old oil lamps and candles, homemade things, old recipes and books, cookies in the cookie jar, old bowls, and I often have coffee brewing.........

The cottage style means that I have some artwork, pretty tea cups, flowers and lots of green plants, lace doilies, embroidered tablecloths, and pretty magazines for inspiration........

The cabin style means that we display our hobbies such as oil paints, picture puzzles that are framed and hung up around the house, photography, games are out, rocks are displayed, books to pick up and read, a globe to look certain countries up, binoculars and nature books........

You wouldn't think that these different decorating styles would work together, but they do and they tell the story of who we are and what we like.   It's important to decorate your home for YOUR family, not someone else's.  : )

*Now that we're into the summer months, it can be hard to keep the kids occupied, so I have a few more ideas that we did when our son was young.  I can honestly say that I don't remember him ever being bored.  He had a wide variety of interests and we just kept building on those.

- the first thing is to ALWAYS have books to read - classic kids books that are morally sound, adventure books (especially for the boys!), books on different kinds of hobbies that they can try, books for information such as nature to get them outside or how to build things or how things work.  Read, read, read.

- games are great - play with them or have them invite friends over or let them try to make up their own games!

- buy them a journal or just a plain notebook that they can turn into a journal.  Encourage them to write in it every evening as to what they did during the day.

- if they want or have a hobby, don't hesitate to buy them what they need for it.  Yes, over the years you will have spent a bit of money on this, but this is SO important!  They are no different than we in that we sometimes have to try several things before we find something that we really enjoy doing but it's so worth it when they do.  What they love as a hobby now, will stay with them until they are old.  There might be a few years where it looks like they have set it aside because, even for them, life happens.  But when they think they finally have the time again, that hobby will come back.  We have seen that happen to our son and his wife.

- go places - visit state parks and trails, go to museums, go to art galleries, go to antique stores, go biking, go on picnics........just go!  : )

I know I didn't say anything about sports and the summer can be consumed by sports.  We weren't a sports family.  Our son never showed an interest and we didn't push it and I'm glad we didn't.  After high school he earned a degree in health and fitness and he, himself, is very strong and fit.  So, even though he wasn't an athlete, he always took care of himself and then helped others in that as well.  We need to let them find their own way, not what we would want for them.  I see too many parents who live vicariously through their kids and put a lot of stress on them.  If, however, your child really has a desire to play a certain sport, and it's his/her idea - that's different.  Let them find out if it's really what they want.  Sometimes it isn't and they just don't want to do it anymore and that's okay too!  : )

*Now, onto a bit of food and recipes.  I must admit that when the weather is hot, or even beautiful and I just want to be outside, my desire for cooking wanes a bit, but we gotta eat so...............

We have been enjoying the summer foods, especially the watermelon!  We have it every day and it's SO good for you.  For lunch today, we had BLT's (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches), watermelon slices, and homemade strawberry/rhubarb pie - such a classic summer meal.  It tasted great.  I think it's fun to get the most out of summer with all those foods that we crave in the middle of winter.

I have two rhubarb pies to share with you - a rhubarb custard pie and then the strawberry/rhubarb pie that I just mentioned.  Totally different but totally yummy.  My little patch of rhubarb shriveled up, so I had to resort to buying it at our local co-op which is a little spendy but I bought enough for the two pies and then quite a bit to freeze so that maybe in the fall or even winter we can have a taste of summer again!  I grew up with rhubarb.  My husband and I both agree that we didn't exactly like the pies that our mom's baked so I have always been determined to make one (or two, in this case) that defies our not liking it.  I may have shared the rhubarb custard pie in the past, but wanted to share it again in case you're interested.  ; )


RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE(above)

1, 9" unbaked pie shell

Pie filling - 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. flour, 2 beaten eggs, 4 cups chopped rhubarb

Topping - 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter (chilled and cut into small pieces), pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir the dry ingredients together and then stir in the beaten eggs, then add the chopped rhubarb and mix well.  Pour into the unbaked pie shell.  Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly.  Sprinkle this over the rhubarb filling.  Bake for one hour and let cool completely before serving.  Putting it into the fridge after cooling really helps the filling to set up.

Enjoy!  : )



STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE (above)

1, 9" unbaked pie shell

Pie filling - 3 cups sliced rhubarb, 2 1/2 cups chopped strawberries, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 3 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping - 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chilled and cubed butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all pie filling ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie shell.  Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over filling.  Bake for 50-55 minutes and, again, let cool completely (then refrigerate it) before serving.  REALLY good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!!!!

As you can see, the two recipes are very similar but the results are very different.  We were VERY happy.  : )


In my cooking over the years, there are certain things that I've always stretched myself with - especially the basics.  I'm not a natural cook - in fact, cooking sometimes can be a real pain for me because I would much rather be doing something else!!!  But food is important in a home and we all enjoy food that tastes good.  We don't want it to just satisfy our empty tummies.  It's so much more than that.  Sitting down to a plate of good food goes far beyond that.  So, like it or not, I'm the one who does it and I'm determined to keep learning and find those tried and true recipes that we now call comfort food.

There are things that I want to perfect.  Things like the perfect pie crust, the perfect loaf of bread, the best fried chicken, the best roast chicken, a wonderful pot roast.........and I really don't stop until I find that recipe!  Since I'm not a natural at cooking, I'm that person who NEEDS a recipe to follow.  I don't have it all in my head and I don't "add a little of this and a little of that".   It's just the way I am.  I'm that way with sewing or crafting (or anything else).  I have to have directions.  Anyway.........

I found such a great slow cooker whole chicken recipe that I will count on from now on.  This will take a permanent place in my recipe box.  I can't believe that I didn't take a picture of it though!!!!  It looked SO good when it was topped with all the good seasonings.  It tastes exactly like a rotisserie chicken and couldn't be easier.  Here it is:

ROTISSERIE-STYLE SLOW COOKER CHICKEN

5 lb. whole chicken (remove the neck and giblets)
cooking spray
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. paprika

Spray a slow cooker large enough to hold your chicken.  Crumple up some pieces of aluminum foil for the bottom of the slow cooker (this keeps the chicken from sitting in the liquid during cooking).  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.

Mix all the rub ingredients together and rub the spice mixture all over the chicken.  Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or until the thermometer registers 165 degrees or higher.

Slice and serve.  I hope you give it a try!!!

*What I did with this was make it on Saturday, sliced it, put it into a baking dish, poured the juices over it and popped it into the fridge.  On Sunday after church all I had to do was bake it in a 350-degree oven for about an hour while preparing the sides to go with it.  Easy peasy.  Perfect Sunday meal.

*Then, of course, I saved the leftover meat and bones and made a terrific Chicken soup/broth.  

I think we've all heard of shrimp boils and around here we love our seafood so I noticed one day that I had everything to prepare it with.  Here is a photo and the recipe I used:


Shrimp boils are usually in a huge pot on top of the stove, but this one is on a sheet pan in the oven.  The corn is usually cut up into chunks because this is the type of meal that serves a crowd, but since it was just my husband and I, I knew we would eat a whole corn cob anyway so I just left it whole. 

SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a large sheet pan and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 lb. baby yellow potatoes till just tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Stir in however many ears of corn you want during the last 5 minutes of cooking time; drain well.  

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup melted butter 4 cloves of minced garlic, and 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning.  Place the potatoes, corn, 1 1b. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined), and 1, 12 oz. pkg. sausage ring, thinly sliced in a single layer in pan.  Stir in butter/seasoning mixture and toss gently to combine.

Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or till shrimp are opaque and corn is tender.

*Again, this is a fun crowd-pleasing meal.  Served with French bread and a salad - it's wonderful.

In our family we have a few things coming up leading to the 4th of July:

On Monday the 28th, our son has his birthday - here is what he has requested:

Fried chicken (which we will pick up at the deli)
My potato salad (it does my heart good when someone requests something that I make!)  : )
Variety of pickles and olives
Watermelon slices
Vanilla cake with buttercream icing (I'm making individual Bundt cakes so he can have his own to blow the candles out!)
Ice cream
Variety of sodas

On Saturday, July 3rd, it's my birthday - and here is what I'll be having/making:

Grilled hot dogs with the fixins'
Sloppy Joes 
Variety of chips
Pasta salad
Sliced Watermelon
 Blueberry and Cherry pie
Ice cream
Variety of sodas

Ever since I can remember, we also use my birthday as our family 4th of July gathering.

On Sunday, July 4th - we'll just see what comes up - but I know one thing for sure, we'll be eating leftovers!!!!!!  : )

I've already made the Sloppy Joe mix and have it in the freezer.  It's our favorite and I'll share it with you too:


SLOPPY JOES

2 Tbsp. butter
2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
 Worcestershire sauce to taste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add butter to large pan over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook till brown.  Drain.  Add onions, green pepper, and garlic and cook for a few minutes until vegetables begin to soften.  Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, and water.  Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Add tomato paste, Worcestershire and taste to adjust seasonings.

Serve over buns and top with a slice of cheese if desired.  YUM.  : )

I think that's about it for food!   What are YOU serving up for the 4th?

For my birthday gift wish list it has nothing but books on it because I truly enjoy summer reading.  I am now reading:

I can't believe I haven't read this book yet, but I'm so glad that I'm starting.  Already a lot of underlining and hopefully can share some things with you too.

And then I can't believe I haven't read this yet either.  Again, really liking it and more underlining.

I hope you, too, are continuing to learn whether it be in your housekeeping, your cooking, your baking, your reading..........it's so important to learn new things.  If you have children or grandchildren, it's a wonderful thing for them to see you learning and being interested in all kinds of things.

Before I end this post, I will share some other photos that I've been taking lately:

Begonia under the apple tree.

Our new batch of little turkeys.


Beginning to make more cards.


Our back yard bird area.

Well, I think I had better let you go and for me to get going!!!!  Thank you SO much for your visit - I appreciate all of you and I hope you got a little inspiration.  Please remember to keep on praying for our country.   Never in a million years did I ever think I would be praying about certain things as I do now.  How in the world did we get to this point?  But, having said that, God DOES hear our prayers and is totally able to help us in our times of trouble.  So, I encourage you in your prayer life as well.  Let's all be diligent.

I'll probably drop by on the 4th of July for a moment but until then.......God bless you and your families and God bless you in your homemaking!  Bye for now.


















Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Business Side of Blogging

 


A little spot in our side yard.
 

As much as I enjoy blogging, it's the "business" side of it that frustrates me.  I'm not technically adept at figuring things out so I just tend to not even try.  Fortunately I don't blog to earn money - I have NO idea what that entails!!!!!!  But, I do know that I have to tell you of a change that Blogger has put in place and that is that those of you who subscribe to my blogposts and they are delivered to your email won't happen anymore.  They are taking that away (again, I don't understand).

However, if you want to keep reading my posts you will have to visit the blog directly at homemakersthoughts.blogspot.com.  I'm sorry if this is an inconvenience to you and I hope you don't stop dropping by because of this change.  My son keeps telling me that I should try another blogging venue (which I might at some point - but, again, that means that I would need to learn a whole new way of using it).  So, for now, I hope that you will continue to read my blog in spite of the changes they keep throwing our way!!!

Thanks so much for your support.  God bless you, your family, and your upcoming weekend!!!  : )

A very prolific geranium in front of our garage.  It's a trooper - with all the heat and full sun, it keeps on blooming strong (with daily waterings).  : )


Saturday, June 12, 2021

June Newsletter Part 1

 

The annuals are SO pretty!!!!


I know that I'm not the only one who is saying how hard and harsh this heat has been!  We're certainly not used to this extreme heat so early in the year and I'm praying that it isn't going to be the norm.  The plantings look okay only because we've been watering every day.  If we stop the water they wilt almost immediately.  And now, because everyone is watering just to keep things alive, a lot of surrounding communities are issuing water bans and restrictions.   Thankfully, this is the first morning where it actually is a bit cool-ish and I finally have the windows open after I don't know how long.  But (and there seems to always be a but) tomorrow we're back into the heat again.  It almost feels like winter where you just want to hunker down in the house but it's totally different at this time of year because we yearn to be outdoors after the long winter so it's not enjoyable at all.  Some people love the heat (I have a brother like that) so this is great for them!!!  Me.....not so much.  

I guess the only thing about it being hot and having to be indoors is that I've been getting some things done!  And I've been writing a few things down that I wanted to share now and then I'll have Part 2 at the end of June to finish it up.

As I said in my last post, I feel that there are three home styles that I'm interested in and try to incorporate into my own home - Farmhouse, Cottage, and Cabin.  I absolutely love all three of those as far as lifestyle, decorating, and even cooking.  I think it's important to know what your style is so that you can live the life you want now even though you might not actually have it!!!  For instance:

Farmhouse - I grew up in a farming community in South Dakota and was invited to many different farms and got to see different ways that the women of the home decorated.  I also love looking at farmhouse-type of magazines and I instantly know what I like.  The farmhouse style (to me and what I like to incorporate around our home) is hanging clothes out on the line when I can, having a composter that I can take our food scraps out to that turn into organic goodness to be used in the soil, scratch cooking from what we have in our fridge and pantry (everything from the meats to homemade pies), having a work station in the kitchen in front of the open window that allows light and fresh air in while preparing meals, having a hand washing basin by the outdoor spigot to wash up after working in the garden, washing dishes in a tub in the kitchen sink so that I can throw the dishwater out on much needed trees and plantings.  I guess what I sum it all up with is being practical and frugal.  And it's work - good work.  I consider this everyday living.

Cottage - I love looking at cottage magazines and the comfort that the rooms and yards convey.  Everything, first, is cozy.  Where you have favorite chairs and throws and pillows.  It's where you have flowers both inside and outside of the house, it's chippy paint and squeeky hardwood floors.  It's where you set up seating areas outside so that you can enjoy meals (when it's not 100 degrees!!!) or just sit in a glider with a cup of tea.  And this I sum it up to be a place of beauty and comfort.  I consider this to be special living.

Cabin - My husband's parents had a cabin "up north" and the family was often invited to join them on the weekends and it made for some wonderful memories.  And that's where I begin - a cabin is a place to make memories.  Your home should be a memory-maker.  Times that you can look back on with joy.  And cabin living is like that.  Cabins convey a time of rest.  Whether that is sleeping in or taking an afternoon nap or pulling out a chaise lounge in the back yard to lie on and read till you fall asleep.  A cabin is a time of relaxing - getting away from the work world and doing something a little different.  It's a place to catch up on your reading.  It's those fire nights (again, when it's not 100 degrees!) where you bring out the S'mores and have quiet conversations while watching the fire.  I sum this up to be a place of getting away from it all.  Even though you are still at home (because not all of us can afford the luxury of having a real cabin) you can make it seem as if you are somewhere else.  I consider this to be weekend living.

All three of these lifestyle/decorating/cooking styles are totally who I am and what I like so it's important to me to make our home feel this way.  As with everything, it takes special planning to make it so.   Like I said above, the farmhouse living is everyday living.  That doesn't seem to change.  Work needs to be done and we do it.  But cottage living is adding little special extras throughout the day to break up the work and bring beauty and comfort in for a while - even if it's for a little break in the day or in the evening hours after the work is done.  And then the cabin living is when the Monday through Friday is over and you want something different - beginning Friday evening by having "Friday fire nights" and invite friends/family over and then planning your Saturdays and after church on Sunday to do what you want to do that brings fun to your life.

So.......I want to encourage you to think about what your style(s) is(are) and write down as many things that you can think of to begin to incorporate into your own home and for your family.  You (and they) will find that your home becomes interesting.  It becomes a place where everyone will want to be.  BUT, again, it takes time and planning in order for it to be that way.  I know there are schedules to be worked around.  Activities to go to.  Nothing is idyllic but everything can always be made to be better if you really want it.  Have fun with this!  

The next thing I was thinking of is that now after things seem to be getting back to some kind of normal and we're beginning to have company again (whether it's family or friends or both), we need to keep up with keeping our homes "company ready."  I love it when someone drops by for a visit but, unfortunately, we don't get much of that.  It just got me to thinking that there are some daily questions we should ask ourselves:

*Is the bathroom clean?  After everyone is done in getting ready for the day, we should be going into the bathroom and change out the hand towels, clean the mirror and sink, and clean the toilet, along with shaking the rug(s) and wiping the floor.  This will ensure that it is a proper place for company to go into.

*Is the living room comfortable?  This is the first room that people come into from the front door and they need a place to sit.  Make sure that this room is picked up regularly.  Yes, it is for YOUR family to use but you can pick up papers and other items so that anyone can come in and not have stuff all around.

*Do you have a beverage to offer?  Hot or cold.  I always have my Keurig on so that I have hot water at a moment's notice.  And, in the summer, we always have lemonade or iced tea on hand along with a variety of sodas.  Make sure you are stocked up on ice (even though you have an ice-maker in your fridge).

*How does your house smell?  This constantly surprises me.  When we're gone for a while and then walk in the house - sometimes it smells good and then sometimes.....not so much.  You would think it would be consistent but the air picks up on what you cooked that day, what cleaning products you used, etc. so the house should be aired out consistently.  When you are home, just putting essential oils into a diffuser can add a nice touch or a beautifully scented candle helps.

*Is your kitchen clean?  I have often experienced, after asking someone if they'd like something to drink, for them to follow me into the kitchen.  I don't mind that whatsoever.  Actually, I like it.  It makes me feel like they are comfortable in doing that.  But.......we want to make sure the kitchen is clean at all times.  No dirty dishes in the sink.  No greasy stovetop.  No dirty floors.  No cluttered countertops.  It all makes a difference.  You don't want to offer someone something from your kitchen where it looks like you aren't clean.  It would be awkward for them to even accept something from you!  

ALWAYS think of others when you are taking care of your home.  Some people say that they don't care what others think and that's sad.  Our homes are an indication of who we are and what we think is important.  Cleanliness IS important.

I think that is all for today!!!!!  : )  Before I leave, I just wanted to remind all of you (in case you didn't know) that tomorrow, June 13th, is a day of prayer for local and state law enforcement officers.  Please join me in lifting our officers up in prayer.  We are in time where there is a lot of negativity and malice towards those who protect us.  If you can write a note of encouragement to your police department that would be wonderful and/or pay for their lunch if you seem them out and about.  Let's encourage them.

Thank you so much for dropping by.  Like I said before, Part 2 will come at the end of June with some recipes and menus and things like that.  : )  I hope you have a wonderful day and upcoming weekend ahead.  I know for us, the weather is finally going to be gorgeous today before more heat comes tomorrow.  So, we're going to take a little road trip with a picnic lunch and take advantage of it all.  : )

God bless you and your homemaking efforts.  It's important work.