Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ready to Rumble!

It is barely noon and they are dressed for success.........
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Halloween Practice

This morning we got up early and got the chili on for the Halloween visitors tonight, and the girlie girl wanted to practice her makeup
for her Kitten costume. It turned out really cute for the first try! Hopefully, we will all be dressed up for Trickin' and Treatin' in Olde Towne later today, then back home tonight for chili and friends!!!!!
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pork Roast - Three Ways for Three Days

Here is the star of this week's menu, the 5 lb Boston Butt pork roast. It was on sale this week, so I got a pretty big one. A 4 lb roast will cook down to yield about 3 lbs of meat.

To cook a roast this size, I used an oblong, removable crock , slow cooker. You could surely do it in the oven, but for me, the crock pot is so much easier!

First, I rub the meat with a "not too sweet" BBQ dry rub and black pepper. At this point, I don't salt it because it will have other seasonings added and we wouldn't want it too salty.
Plunk it in the slow cooker and add about a cup of water down the side ( so you don't disturb the rub) and turn it on low for about 8-10 hours. If you are in a hurry, do it on high for three hours, and another three on low. It will really depend on your cooker and the roast as to how long it takes. When it is falling apart, it is done.

When the meat is done, take it out of the crock pot and allow it to cool. Shred with a couple of forks, discarding fat and bone.

First meal: Posole soup. The recipe for this is on the previous post. Worth the effort!

Second meal: Burrito filling. Put one portion of the shredded meat in a skillet with one package of your favorite taco or burrito seasoning and one can of diced tomatoes ( with the juice). Cook on low until reduced a little and thickened. To serve, roll it up in flour tortillas ( or high fiber wraps in my case) with sauted onions, peppers and cheese, salsa and lettuce. This Ortega seasoning is my favorite for tacos or burritos because it really has a nice jalapeno punch.

Third meal: BBQ pork. My favorite bottle BBQ sauce is this one. All you gotta do on this BBQ is to put the shredded pork in a baking dish pour the sauce on. Mix it in with a pair of tongs and you are good to go for BBQ sandwiches. Make a little cole slaw and buy some buns and a can of beans and you are set.
These quick fixes could be done with a bunch of chicken, or even a nice beef roast. Try it! It is a great way to utilize all of the piece of meat without feeling like the meal is "leftovers."

Saturday Night Posole

Posole is a "South of the Border" soup that features hominy and pork as a main ingredients. Traditionally, it is made with pork, but you can use beef or chicken if you like. The version here is one that my kid and I made last night at about 9 o'clock after seeing Guy eat some on "Diner's Drive-In's and Dives." ( What six-year-old wants to make spicy soup at 9 pm?) It turned out great!

1 lb shredded pork roast (about 3 cups or so)**
2- 15 oz cans hominy, drained and rinsed
2 -15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 - small can green chilies
1 -medium onion
1- bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped chipotle chili ( comes in a can with adobo sauce)
1- 15 oz can black beans, rinsed well
1 - 15 oz can chicken broth
1/2 tsp cumin
black pepper

Chop the onion and bell pepper in to a chunky dice, then saute it with the minced garlic in a tablespoon or two of bacon grease ( you had to know that was coming) or other fat until tender.

Put all canned ingredients ( except for the chipotle )in a big pot and add the shredded pork, bell pepper and onion. Add the cumin, and about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Now, the tricky part is to add the chipotle to taste.
Chipotle is just smoked jalapeno peppers and actually are not as "hot" to me as a fresh jalapeno. They have a very different flavor and I think add a lot to this soup. They are slimy when you take them out of the can, so be prepared. I take a couple out of the can and put them on the chopping board, then remove as many seeds as possible, then chop the rest. The best thing to do is to add a tsp at a time , letting it simmer a little in between until you get to the right "heat" for your taste. I found that a tablespoon was adequate for me, and my little gourmet ate it without complaint. You could leave them out if you like, and just add a few drops of liquid smoke ( assuming your pork wasn't smoked.)
Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, then serve hot after checking the need for more salt. It would be most authentic served with a chewy flatbread, but cornbread sticks would be great. Garnishes could include a little salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese or chopped cilantro. I just go with it plain, but I can sure see how it would be good with some pretty add-ons.
( I don't normally keep hominy on hand, but I had bought it to make Ree Drummond's hominy casserole and had not yet had occasion to make it. )

** Next post on how we stretched one pork roast to make three plus meals.

Weekend Update

The weekend started with an early dance camp with the high school dance team.
Stretching wasn't a new thing to our tiny dancer.

The girls all had a great time and will be dancing in the halftime show at the last home football game. Great fun, huh? We just love the small town, family friendly atmosphere of living here. Quite a few of the girls either go to school or church with us, some both.

Then we attended a block party hosted by a local pastoral family here launching a new Methodist church. It was a lot of fun, but the it was just a wee bit chilly!

Then there was this little guy, Teco. He had a bladder stone removal on Friday and wasn't quite ready to go home on Saturday, so he spent the weekend recovering in our bathtub. He is doing VERY well and should be going home to his family on Monday. He had a late lunch today and then a little walk ..... he may not want to go home.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fried chicken "On the Bone"

All that talk about skillets got me wanting to cook something and it was just my good fortune that my boy decided Thursday morning that he wanted to have "Fried chicken on the bone" for dinner. Living in the world of fast food nuggets and strips, home cooked "on the bone" chicken is something they really look forward to. I knew there was a package of drumsticks lurking in the freezer, so I told him that his wish would be granted. The girl wanted gnocci with pesto.......but that is another story for another day.

Fried chicken is just about my favorite thing ever! I know that back in my single days that there were times when I would have it three or four days in a row. My grandmother used to cook up batches of wings , cut into two pieces of course. They were so delicious , I can almost taste it right now. Her biscuits were good too, and I have never quite figured out that secret. I think it had something to do with bacon do most things that are really, really good. If I remember correctly, we had chicken about once a week when I was growing up, most often with masked potatoes and English peas. That is still one of my very favorite meals ever, only now I can only have a little bite. It is enough though..... :(

When I make anything fried, I use a paper bag to do the "flouring" because it gets the pieces coated evenly and then after you are done, the whole thing can just go in the trash. The seasoning that I usually use is salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and maybe a little paprika. I have even added a table spoon of ranch dressing powder to the flour - it was pretty darn good! You can use anything you like really, just watch the salt because there is a pretty fine line between perfect and disaster.

The oil I use is usually just plain vegetable oil, but you can use canola or peanut - whatever you like. The best I ever fried was in shortening and of course, for the really authentic flavor of the South, you would need to use LARD. I have never bought it.....just can't do it.
( Side note: Do any of y'all recall having to break through a layer of solidified fat on top of a bowl of vegetables in the fridge to be able to tell what was under it? We never HAD to cover stuff in the fridge - the fatback did it for us! )

It is really hard to get the most out of your chicken leg when your front teeth are in various stages of eruption.

Perserverance is the key! She cleaned it off in no time and had room left for her parmesan pasta! One of these days, she is gonna be the one cookin' for the rest of us!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guest Blogger - "Skillets"

Hey there y'all! I got a great e-mail from my friend Marilyn, AKA "MistiMemphis", this morning about her iron skillets. I guess she was having a nostalgic moment and had to let me in on it. Anyway, I figured that what she had to say was pretty important to her, so I called her and asked her if I could have her as a guest blogger....she said GREAT.
Of course, she had already posted my response to her note on some message board so I guess she had to say yes, huh? Anyway, here is what she had to say. ( background- Marilyn works for airlines and gets to fly around a lot. She is also the mother of a beautiful daughter who lives in Japan at present and is teaching English. Her dogs stay at "MMS 's home base" when she jet sets all over the world . She has been a great friend to us for as long as we have been an "us." ( We even had our post wedding BBQ party at her house AND she made the wedding cake!)

Here's what she had to say ........

" As I travel the Jamaican countryside I see many bright, silver aluminum pots for sale. I don't recall, however seeing a black cast iron skillet in Jamaica. These skillets are the mainstay of African- Americans since slavery times. They are our Teflon, because if they are cured properly, and coated correctly when cooking, you get the same non- stick easy to clean surface. As members of my family have died I have become heir to the skillets. I now have about five. The most recent one came from my mother's house.
This morning I was washing about 3 of them when I noticed that the one from my mothers had layers and layers of a black deposit on the outside of the skillet (the inside being perfectly smooth like the others. I started to contemplate how I could remove this scale, then I asked myself if it hindered or enhanced the process of cooking, and why would I bother to remove it ? (If it ain't broke, why try to fix it?). I ran my hand over the scale, and realized that it represented many meals cooked by my grandmother, and then my mother, or maybe even further back than that. Who knows? So, this morning I felt their spirit, the fried chicken, the slab pork bacon, the cornbread baked in the oven all crusty brown, the eggs scrambled for a husband going off to work, the yeast rolls rising on the stove to go in the oven later…food from a time when women really cooked. I decided never to remove one bit of the scale, it is my legacy, my heritage, my fore-mothers talking to me from beyond. I wondered when I die if my daughter will even realize what these skillets mean. Will they become part of a massive garage sale, and then she will return to her life in Tokyo? That will be her choice, she has her turn on this earth. But for now, I washed them, and turned them lovingly together into the rack to dry and realized that I have been the lucky recipient of a rich history indeed. " - Miss Marilyn

Now y'all know I use my cast iron almost everyday, so this subject was near and dear for me. Nothing beats it for slow cooking and even frying. I do feel a certain nostalgia when I use my "big irons." If you have a great cast iron story or memory you want to share, just post it in the comments or send me an email and I'll post it for too!

Here's one of Marilyn's skillets, cooking up some Callaloo (?).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Break, Day 2

The second day of Fall Break started out with some computer time. Thank goodness for laptops, dvd players and Nintendo DS because we would have been sorely hurting if not for our electronic babysitters.
A bit later in the morning, we had a few spare minutes, so we let the apprentices take a look at the inner workings of their dog.

They were pretty interested in both the ultrasound and the x-rays that we took right after.

Hopefully by the time they are teens, they will be ready for summer jobs at any clinic in the area. I figure, since I got hired when I was a kid, and I have helped "raise" a lot of other people's kids in a clinic environment, there will be someone who can train these in what it means to get up every day and do whatever it takes.

Spaghetti for lunch means wearing a few towels so that it doesn't ruin your scrubs!

Good thing we had spaghetti because that's my boy's very favorite.

The afternoon rolled on without too much excitement, except for these puppies, who fortunately have a home of their own and did NOT need to come home with us!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Take Your Kids to Work Day ( otherwise known as "School's out and there is no babysitter")

During the two-day fall break, the little people in the family are "working" with Mom.
This guy is getting a little OJT and learning how much work it takes to keep the clinic running.
He's a pretty good table cleaner now that he is tall enough to reach across it.

The laptops come in handy in these situations. So do portable DVD players, Nintendo DS, and cable TV. We had it all going at one time!

Super Collapse and Bejewelled require some brain power.

" Tinkerbell " the poodle came in to get her stitches out from her emergency Hysterectomy that happened last week. The kid was there the day she had the surgery and had made a picture of the "real Tinkerbell" for the dog Tinkerbell to take home with her. It was really cool that she got to see how things turned out.

There is always some sort of cleaning that can be done. Window washing is a good place to learn.
Also, it got her away from the brother for a few minutes. Things were getting a little intense.

She did a pretty good job , at least on the lower parts.

Always time for a little posing.

The day ended a bit earlier than usual, and we headed home to our own little pack of ankle biters and a lot of house work to complete. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Our School is the Best!"

Center Hill Elementary has been awarded "Blue Ribbon" status by the US Department of Education, which is a VERY high honor. Yesterday, we attended the recognition ceremony and were very impressed by all the accolades voiced for our principal, teachers, and students. Some of the faculty will be going to Washington in November to attend the official award ceremony.

Of over 120,000 public schools in the country, only 314 achieved the Blue Ribbon award. Only 4 of those schools are in our state. When we were choosing a place to buy a new home, I got busy talking to people and browsing online at the schools in this area and based on what I found, we bought our house smack dab in the middle of the district. It really didn't have anything to do with the house itself....the school is what counts.

Anyway, we are so happy that we are a part of this wonderful school family! It is so nice to attend school functions and see people who live in our neighborhood, attend our church or are patrons of our businesses. Makes it seem just a little like Mayberry!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"When I Grow Up" Day

Today the children were asked to dress up as whatever they will be when they grow up. I am not sure that mine really WANT to be a physician and veterinarian, but these are careers that I can easily costume for! The scrubs came from an internet uniform place that is local. I had to pick them up after hours from the front seat of their delivery van. The rest of the stuff, we already had.
The little veterinarian took her little poodle to "work" with her in a little pet taxi that has wheels and a pull handle. Just like Mom.....

How cute can one kid be?

Ok, how cute can TWO kids be?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Decades" Day

To celebrate our school's accomplishment in being selected as a "Blue Ribbon" school this year, the children are dressing in a different theme each day this week. While in theory, this is a great idea, for working parents, it is a big pain. Fun, but a pain! We chose the 60's because it seemed to be the easiest one to costume. Here is my girl wearing her very marginal tie-dye and a hacked up sweatshirt vest.
She was pretty proud of the whole thing, but then she is one for dressing up ( or down) anyway.

The boy was not quite as into the idea, and was quite perturbed when the red of his tie-dye actually turned out to be a little on the pinkish side. Ok, it is a lot pink, hence the black jacket.
He did consent to wear it only because we made a black headband out of one of my old shirts and I let him wear his shark necklace. He said the headband was like a ninja, so it was all cool.
Tomorrow is " When I Grow Up Day". Good thing they both said they would dress as veterinarians . They both have scrubs and I can get caps and masks. A stuffed animal and we are DONE!

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Applesauce" is almost done!

Here's what I have so far on Applesauce's outfit. The top is just an expanded ( greatly) version of the simple pillowcase dress. The bottom is a very flowy split skirt that I got from Goodwill. The fabrics coordinated very well, so even though it is quite busy, I think it will work. ( It actually can make me a little nauseous if I look at it together too long.)

The top needed a little weight at the bottom to hold it down, so I went to JoAnn's and got this cool polyester upholstery trim and ran it around the hem. It adds a lot, so much in fact, I have made some bands to put around the bottoms of the legs of the pants ( gonna have to do some major gathering on that!) so I can put it around the bottom - making sort of "balloon" pants.

The top is held together at the shoulders with ribbons. This is really simple, in fact, the hardest part is facing the armholes, and even that isn't all that complicated.

I think we might have to build on a room to hold all the clown stuff. Or maybe just add a closet in the garage.