Saturday, August 22, 2015

Do I Get Tired of Cooking?

Andrew (who is staying here for awhile as he transitions back to the States) came out to the kitchen awhile ago, right before he left the house, and asked me a question I haven't really thought about.

"Mom, do you ever get tired of cooking?"

Well, it's a good question.  Sometimes I get tired of cooking, usually if I am tired physically, have too much to do at the time, or have just run out of ideas.  But cooking is just part of the deal.  We gotta eat.  While we do enjoy eating out, we're not going to become one of those families that eats out all the time.  (On our trip to the beach, we ate out most nights.  Though it was fun to feel like we were splurging in that way, by the end of the week we discovered that eating out every night actually gets a little old.)  I know some men whose wives do not cook, at all, and it's easy to tell that they wish things were different.  A home-cooked meal means a lot.

Cooking is an act of service for the family or for whomever is in the home.

This is cheesy rice.  It looks better than this.
So I cook.  I cooked when the kids were at home, even after a long day at work, and I cook now.  Today: Cheesy zucchini rice, which is done.  I added jalapeƱos from our "garden" since Mike likes stuff really hot.  That will be for his lunch plates next week, as he is working five days and will need good food.  (He has said there are men whom he works with who can't believe he brings a plate to warm up every day.  If they don't stop at a fast food place, they don't have anything to eat.)

Also on the agenda for today, not finished yet, are some stuffed summer squash and hamburger steaks.  The squash has just been steamed, and the filling (finely chopped celery, onion, one small squash, mushrooms, some Pepperidge Farm stuffing, and a couple of slices of melted Havarti cheese) is sauted and in the pan, ready for me to finish the dish.  I'll scrape out the middle of the cooked squash, put filling in, and probably top with some more stuffing mix for some crunch.  Hamburger meat is thawing to become patties cooked like hamburger steak.  All of this is mainly for lunches for next week.  Two melons - a honeydew and a watermelon - need to be chopped.  (Postscript:  I tried to do too much.  Long afternoon!)

Cooking is fun because it is creative.  It was an enlightening day when I realized that most cooking (this does not include baking) really does not need recipes, at least if the cook knows the basics of how things go together.  There is a basic formula for making various kinds of soups, or for throwing together most vegetables or casseroles, and there is huge variety within the basic idea.  Cooking most meats involves basic technique.  A cook can use just about anything to cook just about anything.  That makes cooking very interesting.

It's a little harder in the winter because of limited fresh items.  But this season of the year, with so much good produce, is a great time to cook.

I still have a lot to learn.  Everything out of this kitchen is far from fancy.  :-)

I come from a heritage of good cooks.  My mother is a good cook.  And my grandmothers were good cooks, both from a German background.  I grew up eating good food and good homemade meals.  That is a privilege that is not known to many today, who grow up eating frozen breaded chicken nuggets, boxed macaroni and cheese, and McDonalds hamburgers.  Many young people do not know the blessing of good home-cooked food.

And marrying a man who grew up in the South has added another dimension to cooking.  I did not know what real Southern cooking was until then.  Rice and gravy, fried deer steak, turnip greens, all vegetables cooked to death, mustard-based barbecue sauce, just a certain style of cooking that is different from how I grew up.  Certain terms are particular to the this area.  For example - we eat slaw or coleslaw, not "cabbage slaw."  The word "cabbage" is redundant.  I've not become a great Southern cook, but I have learned a lot.

So--Do I get tired of cooking?  Yes, sometimes.  Eating out is still a fun thing to do.  But overall, I love cooking, because it is creative, and because it is part of my "job," but most of all--because it is a service to my family.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday's Fave Five 8/21/15

 Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Good first week of school.  Very, very busy.  Many things to do.  But it's a good kind of busy, at least right now.

2. I've been working on a project - these ink and toner cartridges, and a lot more of them, have been just sitting in a workroom for a year, since we changed copier companies for our ministry.  They are selling very well on eBay - just needed somebody to get in there and get it done.  I've sold about half of them and have netted over $400 so far, on just a few packages.  (I never knew how expensive copier toner can be.)  It's good to be able to make a few extra bucks to keep us going.

3. Son and I are working on a special song that he is going to sing at church on Sunday.  The accompaniment is a little different than most that I do, and so far it appears that it is going to turn out really nicely.  I hope so, and also hope that God can use it to encourage people.

4. I got home in time last night to fry a bunch of deer steak for the two men currently in this house (that would be husband and son), and they were glad to get it when they got home from work.  Andrew is happy with his new job, and we are all thankful that it was provided for him.  It's a good job and will help him get financially stable - as well as being a job that will utilize his best strength, which is talking with people!

5. I love all this late summer produce.  Our tomato vines are finally churning out good tomatoes - and lots of them.  So many that I took a bag to school just to give away.  I love late summer produce, and have lately discovered how good a simple salad of tomato, avocado, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil tastes.  You really don't need a heavy dressing.  We've also had a lot of grapes, as our local grocery has some right now that are wonderful.  (August is the month for grapes, at least around here.)  And I found a melon at Publix last weekend called a "sugar kiss"cantaloupe.  Delicious!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday's Fave Five 8/7/15

Link to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Andrew and I returned home safely from a marathon trip to Roswell, GA, today.  We took the school mini-bus to pick up 250 new textbooks that were being hard-bound for us at a bindery.  It should have been an easy trip - two hours down, pick up the books, eat lunch, two hours back.  We ended up in standstill traffic for two hours and an up-and-down detour on side roads.  The trip down took five hours.  We ended up not getting back until 5 p.m. (left at 9 a.m.).  But - the books are picked up, we had no bus difficulties and no accidents, and enjoyed the trip in spite of the heat and the difficulties.

2. The pool is almost ready to swim in.  (Right before I have to go back to school!) Mike and Andrew have worked very hard to get it ready.  It's been in the worst shape ever, but they've gotten it going.  

3. I got some new sheets last weekend.  I had found some on the L.L. Bean website - a beautiful blue print, perfect for what I wanted.  But - brace yourself - a set of queen-size sheets with two extra pillowcases would have cost $200.  Not justifiable in my book.  And then I saw an almost identical set of 100% cotton sheets, with extra pillowcases for purchase also, at Target.  $65 on sale.  A $10 iPhone coupon you could get instantly.  A $20 gift card.  Translated:  The sheets cost $35.  Almost identical to the ones from L.L. Bean.

4. Mike has discovered a beautiful arrangement of an old hymn.  Andrew is working on singing it and I am working on the accompaniment.  Maybe if we get it together right, I'll post an audio file.  :-)

5. I went to a very nice lunch yesterday with three friends from church.  It was in the home of one of them - always nice to be in someone's home - and I appreciate her doing that!  It was a nice respite right before going back to school.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

And So It Begins

I've been going to school for the last couple of days, working on bulletin boards.  Some years it's easy to go in early and get things done.  Other years I just can't do it.  This was an easy year.  (This cartoon of Billy reading a book fits many of the students. They are not readers like they used to be.  One of my goals is to find ways to make them appreciate reading.)
I've discovered Staples Copy Center.  I can email them something downloaded off the internet, and get a 3' x 3' blow-up, black and white, for a very reasonable price.  It doesn't take much color added to have a nice bulletin board piece without much work.  All three of these were done that way.  The bottom picture is actually on a wall.  That is my classroom theme, and particularly in the younger classes, we say it often.  But I got an improved picture of it this summer,  then highlighted the words using different colored markers.
The advantage of using Staples:  It is much faster to get bulletin boards done.  I believe that a room should look attractive and that bulletin boards should be updated regularly to keep interest up.  Just wish there was more time to work on it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

First-World Purchases

This link is to an on-line article about 23 things you've got to have.  Water that is LED-illuminated to be red or blue depending on if it is cold or hot.  A tie that inflates to be a pillow.  A "do everything" cooler.  And 20 more items that sound really fun, but are actually really superfluous.

Remember the singing fish craze of a few years ago?  (I often see them at yard sales today, along with many other things that people bought on whims.)

After reading the two books in the series Families of the World: Family Life at the Close of the 20th Century, by Helene Tremblay, a couple of years ago (reviewed here), I realized anew just how little most of the people of the world have.  And, making boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and seeing videos of how most children are delighted to get a toothbrush, or a single stuffed animal all their own, has driven the point home also.

It's difficult, and unnecessary, to draw any hard and fast lines as to what constitutes wasteful spending and what doesn't, and the point of this post is not to condemn what people spend or to go into anxiety mode over expenditures.  I probably spend more on some things than other people would.  But when I see links like the one above, it makes me realize once again how much we have in the "first world," compared to most of the people around the globe.  Enough to waste a lot of it on things like ties that inflate to be pillows.