Recipes

Meatballs and Mushroom Gravy Over Cauliflower Rice

Tonight I scrapped my meal plan of homemade macaroni and cheese and decided on Meatballs instead.  It turned out really good and is adapted from a number of recipes I found online.

I used cauliflower rice and turkey meatballs that I had in the freezer (both from Costco).

Meatballs and Mushroom Gravy Over Cauliflower Rice

2 tbsp butter

16 oz white mushrooms

1/4 cup flour

1 quart vegetable broth (I used Penzey’s vegetable base)

8 oz frozen spinach

Premade meatballs

1 lb Frozen Cauliflower Rice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in skillet, add mushrooms and saute for 5-6 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Once boiling add flour and whisk until smooth and thickened.  Add frozen meatballs and spinach.  Serve on cauliflower rice (or regular rice if you prefer).

Since there was an abundance of vegetables in this dish, we had a fruit salad on the side.

meatballs and fruit

 

Homesteading, Recipes

White Bread Recipe For Bread Machine

We make our own bread in a bread machine that we have had for 22 years.  No plastic bags, no additives and it saves us money.  Plus, it just tastes better.  The recipe below is our recipe for basic white sandwich bread.

 

Basic White Bread Recipe

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

How to make bread in a bread machine:
  1. Add water and oil into the bread pan. Add salt, sugar. Add flour.

  2. Make a small well on top of flour and make sure it does not reach wet ingredients. Add the gluten and  yeast to the well.

  3. Use Basic bread, 1.5 lb loaf, medium crust cycle (3 hrs 10 minutes)

    bread

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My 5 Favorite Books of 2018

I read 80 books in 2018.  Some were great, some terrible, but most were actually good.  I have compiled a list of my 5 favorites.

  1.  The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin: This one is my top pick for the year.  I had the privilege to meet the author at a Jodi Picoult event in October.  The story asks the question, do you have control over your future, or is it predetermined?  I feel pretty confident that we will be seeing more books from this Wisconsin author in the future.
  2. Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur: Three generations of women tell their story in rural Vermont.  The story begins when Vale returns to her home after Tropical Storm Irene to search for her mother.
  3. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh: A woman who decides to spend a year sleeping in 2000.  Actually a very sad story about a woman who needs to escape her depression.
  4. The Boy At The Door by Alex Dahl: This book from Norway tells the story of a mysterious boy who turns up in a small Norway town and the woman who takes him in.  I love books from Scandinavia, they have an eeriness to them that I don’t find in American books.
  5. Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer: This one is just for fun.  Imagine Barack Obama and Joe Biden as super sleuths in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area.  I laughed a lot and felt an odd comfort reading about them as a team again.

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Recipes

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

brussel sprouts and baconI know that the picture above is not the best looking food picture ever, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying my brussels sprouts.  We were almost done with dinner and when I thought to take a picture, so this is what was left.   As a general rule Brussels sprouts are healthy, these are probably not real great for the heart, but boy are they good.

When I was a kid, I hated these vegetables more than any other.  I avoided them like the plague and allowed myself to avoid them until recently.  My kids and I were at a restaurant for dinner and these were on the menu.  The bacon and blue cheese convinced me that they would be safe to try.  I am officially converted, however toxic the recipe may be.

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

1 pound brussels sprouts

1 pound bacon

blue cheese

The instructions are easy.  Cut up the bacon and fry it.  Once cooked drain most of the fat.  Add the shredded brussels sprouts and fry in the bacon until crispy.  Add blue cheese to taste.

We ate these with salmon and quinoa in an effort to cancel out the bad fat.

 

Homesteading

So Many Eggs

eggs

Our chickens are having a very prolific first winter.  We are getting several eggs every week, which we are so grateful for. It has been several weeks since I needed to purchase additional eggs from the grocery store.   For years, I purchased brown eggs because I liked the color.  Our chickens are laying every color of the rainbow it seems.  It is hard to believe the shades of blues and tans that they are laying.  So beautiful.

This morning I hard boiled 6 eggs and made deviled eggs out of them.  I don’t know if they actually taste better than what I can get at the store, or if it is my imagination.  Either way, they are a true gift.

It is at least 40 degrees in Wisconsin today, so the chickens are wandering around the yard looking for scraps to eat.  I am confident that they appreciate the exercise and sunshine as much as any of us would.  Honestly, they are more trustworthy than dogs.  If I let my dogs out to wander, I would never see them again.  But those 4 girls are reliable and stay in our yard.

Eric also checked out the hives today, since the weather is cooperating.  He said all 4 hives remain active and he is optimistic that they will survive the winter.  Only a couple more months and we can venture back into the yard and enjoy the warm weather.

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Self Care

I recently finished the book Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.  It was a 5 star book, in my opinion.  As an author, she never fails to write great books.  That however, is not the point to what I am writing.  There was a line in the book, that I am paraphrasing, that has had me thinking.  A character had a heart attack and a nurse said that they always know which men will improve their health after such an event based on the condition of their facial hair.  A man who takes the time to groom himself is a man who will embrace the healthy lifestyle needed to survive.  The character immediately shaves her legs and for those who have read the book, takes a healthy lifestyle to levels of absolute crazy.

When I finished the book, I shaved my legs.  I also realized how true that statement is.  Self care and a healthy lifestyle should be the cornerstone of everything we do.  I know that I am guilty of indulging a bit too much on everything.  I don’t exercise nearly enough and I will let stress get to me more than it should.  Yoga, a form of exercise and relaxation, which I actually love doing, is nothing more than an occasional activity for me.  I also have been told a number of times that I need to start strength training.  I love it when 21-year-old personal trainers tell their 40 something clients that we are losing muscle mass due to our age.  I know that, I just hate doing it.  But, I should listen, she is just trying to help.  I will get on a treadmill, but tend to walk at a leisurely pace, I don’t actually think that is the point of a treadmill.

I think I need to really decide what kind of activities I love that will lead me to a healthier lifestyle.  I would love to hear what others do.  Is it yoga? Pilates? Hiking? NO RUNNING though.  The only time I will be seen running, a bear will be behind me.  I read over and over again that you have to find a form of exercise you love in order for it to truly stick, so I need to hear what people do, that they love.  I hate for this to sound like I am making some kind of resolution.  It just so happens that I finished the book December 30th (I think), so the timing is coincidental.

 

IMG_3870My dad walking on the beach on Lake Michigan.  His favorite self care ritual

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My 2019 Goal

mug and teaThis year for Christmas, my mom came through.  A mug and a box of tea.  This simple gift told me that she really knows me, understands what makes me happy and appreciates the activity that brings me the most calm.  A cup of  tea while reading a book.

Very few things in life bring me as much joy as reading a really good book.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit that when my children were little, I remember telling them to find something to do so “mommy can finish her book”.  This is no longer a request I have to make, but I would probably continue to do that if I had to.  Reading calms my nerves and relaxes me after a long day.  It is an escape when needed and takes me to places I have never been to.

2018 was a really stressful year.  As all families, we had our sources of personal sadness and stress, but those are not what I am speaking of.  The world as a whole has been a stressful place.  As an American, I am constantly on the edge of fear, never knowing what certain leaders, who shall remain nameless, will do.  I worry about the world we are destroying for our grandchildren.  I am not embarrassed or ashamed to say that these worries have stolen more than a couple of hours of sleep.  I tell myself I can’t do anything about what happens, so I shouldn’t worry.  Funny how that doesn’t work.  I am also very aware that we can all make a difference if we work together and make individual choices that will encourage change.  At this point, our awareness of the choices we make might actually make a noticeable difference.  Do I believe that one person choosing to enact Meatless Mondays will change the world?  No.  But a million people making that choice will.

My goal, not resolution, for 2019 is to calm these worries.  I plan on reading more positive books, enjoying a bit more tea, spending precious time with my family and friends and living in the moment.   I will continue to make lifestyle choices that I believe are healthy for the environment and will vote with my dollars.   That is really all I can do.  But, setting all that aside, I will continue hope that 2020 brings my nation a change of guard that might calm the worries of the last 2 years.