Going Paperless…Or Not

Having a husband who is tech- savvy is great. He often will show me ways I can better use my time and energy doing things on the computer instead of writing them down, such as my weekly grocery lists and school planning. These technological advances have been great for the most part, but still have their drawbacks. Here is a summary of how going paperless has worked, and not worked for me lately:

Grocery Shopping: I was keeping track of my purchases in a small notebook, so every month or so I could graph in which categories we were spending the most money. Yes, I was a math major, why do you ask? But I realized I would be doing a lot better if I was putting all of the data in an Excel spreadsheet, and letting the computer do all the sorting and calculating. Not only that, but I could generate a new list (from my master copy) every week and only have to introduce the few items I hadn’t bought before (like chicken feet), saving me a lot of time and effort. I went so far as to try using my iPod while I shopped, Luke having transferred my list to it before I left, but this is where my paperless existence had to end. That was too hard. I’d much rather have a piece of paper in my hand, crossing out the items, than a device that presented so many tedious problems, like going black every few minutes, and being only the size of my hand, I was constantly scrolling up and down.

Homeschooling- My goal this school year is to try to stay a month ahead as far as planning goes. I’ve been putting all of my lesson plans and ideas into text documents and calendars, which has been really nice. Today though, I went to look for the document that had all my science lesson plans in it, only to find that it had disappeared! Thankfully, it wasn’t more than just the one document. I can’t help but think this wouldn’t have happened if I was writing these things down on paper. But, then, a kid could have eaten it, or thrown it away. Nothing’s ever safe here. 🙂

Recipes- I’ve been posting recipes here, to have them all be in one place. At home there is a box of recipe cards, a clipboard of recipe printouts, and a list of recipes bookmarked on my web browser, not to mention the ten cookbooks shelved over the stove. Too many locations! We are pretty simple eaters around here, eating the same things over and over, so it would be nice to have one place demonstrate the reality of our limited variety. My blog seemed like a good choice, since it was already here on the Internet taking up space. This would be a problem if it were the only place for my recipes, however, because we won’t have Internet at the new house. I’ll have to plan my meals ahead enough to catch them when I am out to McD’s or Panera to check my email.

Books online- I’m currently reading How To Have a Family Altar by Norman V. Williams. Nancy from Above Rubies has mentioned it many times as a great read, and now it is available online here. I love that I didn’t have to pay for this book to enjoy the benefits of it. Other books I have had to buy, because they are too old or unknown to be found in a library system. It is nice to find rarities online from time to time.

How about you? Have you been typing more and writing less?

Banana Bread

6-8 ripe bananas, peeled
1/2 c melted butter
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 t vanilla
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
heavy pinch nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
3 c flour
1/2 c chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips, optional
Combine wet ingredients. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet. Pour into two loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

Taco Salad

1 lb. ground beef
taco seasoning
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced
4 tomatoes, diced, or tub of fresh salsa
1 head of lettuce, chopped
4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
nacho chips, crushed
8 oz. thousand island dressing

Brown ground beef, add seasoning. Add kidney beans, heat through. Toss remaining ingredients, add meat mixture and toss some more.

Contributed by Leigh Ann in the Family Cookbook

How To Clean A Refrigerator

Get a new refrigerator, and place old one in corner of room, until it can be moved to garage. Thank husband warmly for graciously emptying contents of old fridge into new fridge. Note that he left two bags of celery in old fridge for some reason. Promptly forget about old fridge.
Three weeks later, hear Carol ask you to put disinfectant on the grocery list; the old fridge needs cleaned out. Vaguely recall the celery being in there, and the half dozen times a child has opened the old fridge, nearly fainting from the odors within. Admit that you have been putting off the inevitable; hang head in shame.
The next day, commit to tackling the beast first thing. Open it up and pull out celery. Gross. Note the fuzzy dots that cover the interior of both boxes. And you thought you kept the fridge reasonably clean while you were using it, but now bacteria have taken residence in each and every fingerprint and ketchup drip. Remove all the shelving, laying them here and there over every surface of the kitchen. Scrub all til they shine, placing them out on the deck to dry in the sun. Close old fridge’s doors, telling yourself you’ll have to do the inside later.
The next day, prepare a bowl of Lysol bubbly and get some rags you plan to throw out. First, though, put some chicken in to roast, but don’t set the timer, figuring you’ll smell it when it’s done. Scoot the old fridge to the sliding glass doorway so the fridge doors will open out onto the deck. Pull a kitchen chair outside through the other sliding glass door, to sit in as you scrub the bottom box of the fridge. Note that A Flat has now joined you, wanting in on the fun you are having with the bowl of bubbles. Get older sister to entertain her before she is in penicillin up to her elbows. Go back to scrubbing box, thinking of how you didn’t have any clue this was what happened to a fridge when you unplugged it and left it, seeing how you have never done that before. Think back to the time a repairman was working on that same fridge’s water dispenser, and who lectured you on the merits of keeping the fridge clean, especially the super-expensive seals around the doors. If you did, he said, the fridge would last you for years. And it has, you think to yourself, in spite of you rarely checking the seals. It is headed to the garage to be a back-up, still puttering away keeping things cool. This scouring should have those seals in fine shape, you reckon.
After finishing the bottom box, move on to the freezer box. Note that it is not as bad as the fridge, but why didn’t you think of doing it first, so that all the nasty bits wouldn’t fall into your clean bottom box? In fact, why did you save this job til last of all? If there is a next time, promise yourself you will leave the shelving off til later and do this, the grossest job, first. Look around you at all the shelving laying on the deck, and note the hose laying right beside them. Gee whiz- you could have been using Carol’s power sprayer, and saved yourself a heap of work! Hang head in shame. There are still some shelves to be washed- hook up sprayer with Lysol in the soap dispenser and have a ball soaping up and thoroughly rinsing the shelving. Rinse one more time, making sure to get all the bubbles off. While you are showering after your dirty job, remember suddenly the roasting chicken you’ve been smelling for a while but too busy cleaning the fridge to think about. Yell to daughter to turn off the oven. Note as you go to the kitchen to inspect the chicken that it is beginning to pour down rain outside, giving the shelving its third rinse.

Blueberry Muffins

1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c oil
1 egg
1 c yogurt or milk
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
pinch nutmeg
1 cup blueberries

Mix together first five ingredients (wet). Combine remaining dry ingredients except blueberries, add to wet mixture. Fold in blueberries. Use 1/3 c measure to scoop batter into muffin tin. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes, or until no longer gooey.

Homemade Ketchup

4 whole cloves
1/4 t whole allspice
1/4 t celery seed
1/4 t chile flakes
1 cinnamon stick (3-inches long)
One 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes with their juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c maple syrup

Tie the cloves, allspice, celery seed, chile flakes, and cinnamon stick together in a medium square of doubled-up cheesecloth. In a large, heavy pot, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, optional jalapeno, salt, vinegar, and syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers are very soft, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the secret spice bundle. Let the mixture cool slightly, then puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Once cool, store in a 16 oz. jar in the fridge.

Inspired by Brooklyn Farmhouse

Sloppy Joes

2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 can tomato paste
1 tomato paste can of water
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T maple syrup
1/2 cup homemade ketchup
mustard to taste

Brown ground beef and onion. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour.
Serve on buns.

Inspired by Wardeh at gnowfglins.com

Chicken Legs

5 lb. chicken drumsticks
1 T parmesan cheese
1 t salt
1 T paprika
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
2 T oil

Rinse drumsticks and dry thoroughly on paper towels. In a bowl or gallon bag, toss chicken in spices to coat. Add oil, toss again to coat. Bake at 475 degrees for 40 minutes.

Taken from Chaos In The Kitchen

Carrot-Oatmeal Muffins

4 eggs
1 c maple syrup
1 c grated carrot
3/4 c oil
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c oats
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
dash nutmeg

Grease muffin tin. Combine wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients and add to wet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely; remove from muffin tin.