Jun 18, 2013


Every one has a collection of some type.  It makes us feel good to gather the things we like.  I find this a fascinating insight as I watch my youngest grand son, Mr. M, not quite 2 year old yet.  He will sit on our couch and pull all of his little toys on to the couch around him.  Like he is holding court over all of his little cars, stuffed animals, action figures and such.  It is so cute.

At any rate, from an early age we have this desire to collect the things that touch us in a special way.  Be that silly giddy feeling we have by just seeing an item, or maybe a particular item causes a smile to cross our face for no apparent reason.  My mom collected decorative plates from all the places she travelled.  She also collected photos, lots and lots of photos, of all kinds of things, for years and years.  I had one aunt that enjoyed the beach and collected all kinds of things that she would find on her walks.  One aunt collected salt and pepper shakers.  I would love to collect them, have absolutely no room or way of displaying them.

I have random collections.  Depending on the mood I am in during that phase of my life.  At one time I collected cows, angels, thimbles, miniatures and such.  The last two I still pick up from time to time when ever we go on a vacation. Thimbles, like shot glasses, are small to carry and display and also cheap as far as souvenirs go.  One thing that I have always collected as been cookbooks.  All kinds of cookbooks.  Loose recipes, printed recipes, internet recipes, hand written recipes.  My favorite kinds of cookbooks are actually the fundraiser kind.  Like for a church or school or club.  Members submit their favorite recipes, then they are published with their name in the book.  I have a weakness for church congregational cookbooks.  I have lost count of how many cookbooks I actually have.  I am so excited that when we remodel the kitchen I will have some shelves to display all my books.  At the moment, they are tucked away in a closet, very hard to get to when I want one. 

I have over the years been really fascinated in old cookbooks.  The older the better.  My mother's side of the family comes from Germany and it is rumored that her father's family were Pennsylvania Amish.  This hasn't been proven by genealogy but based on the amount of family recipes with Amish influence, it would seem to be true.  My dad's side of the family all cooked what you would call "home-style" or "country".  Both sides of the family were farmers.  Different crops as they were in different parts of the state, but they still cooked with recipes that were carried down to them, and they grew up and started their families during the depression era so going to their home was like eating a meal from the old days. At the moment cookbooks, recipes from the 30's and 40's are of great interest to me.  More on that later.

So...on with my story.  Recently I had purchased a copy of "My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook" that had been published in 1936, the seller described it as having loose hand written pages with recipes on it included in the book as well as some handwritten notes on some of the book's recipes.  Those are the best kind.  My mom would write in her cookbooks "Good" or "Never Again" or "Excellent" depending on how the recipe turned out.  Back to the story though.  I received my package, all excited, only to open it and find the wrong book inside.  The seller had accidentally mixed up the two shipments, sending my book to another buyer and his book to me.  Doing the right thing, I repackaged the book and sent it to the correct buyer.  Sadly, the other buyer has not been so kind.  He has refused to send me my book, has ignored repeated email request to do so.  Thankfully the seller was a very honest person and not only refunded my initial payment, but refunded me the cost of shipping for my sending the other buyer his book.  I was understandably disappointed as it is really difficult to find the old cookbooks still in decent shape, when you do, they are sometimes pricey.  I am not willing to put a lot of money in to my addiction.  I was however fortunate to find a copy of the same book that had been listed, but published in 1938.  I really didn't care, it was still in the time period I was looking for.  I purchased it quickly, and it was even cheaper than the first book I had ordered.
It arrived today.  I was pleasantly surprised that the book was in such excellent condition for its age.  Some water damage has caused the last few pages to stick together, but they are all blank pages included in the book for writing notes or recipes in.  I don't really need them.  The biggest surprise however was when I opened up the cover to find that the book was published in 1930, not 1938. So happy.

The thing that I am drawn to the most about recipes from this time period is the simplicity of them.  No fancy techniques, no expensive ingredients, no bias toward red meat or for organic.  Things weren't processed back then the way they are these days.  Especially looking at where my family roots come from, farmers, they were working families that lived in rural areas.  They needed meals that fed their body.  They ate to live.  Now days it seems that people live to eat.
Here is a part of one of the pages in the cookbook, it explains how to plan a meal that is nutritious.  Yes, the food pyramid or what ever they call it these days, has changed over the years but to look at it makes total sense.  I love that they suggested a quart of milk a day per person.  Of course, now a days about the same amount is suggested, if you add up the consumption of all things dairy...milks, cheese, yogurt.  Also included are some suggested menus. 
Once again, the simplicity strikes me as appealing.  Their life style is reflective as well.  Dinner or supper is the main meal.  Fresh fruits, vegetables were the norm for daytime.  The dishes prepared for a meal was also reflective of the season.  They were experts at making use of the growing seasons.  Remember, they didn't have chemically preserved foods.  They canned and preserved the vegetables while they were fresh and in season to have during the months that wouldn't be available.  Total pioneers of "sustainable" food sources long before it was the fad.

I wish often that I could back to that time and live there.  As long as I could take my electric washer/dryer, mixer, computer and sewing machine to name a few.  Life and all it's expectations were more simple, purer, back then.  Families took care of families, people had morals, had ethics, believed in church and country.

Enough of my ramblings.  I have to get to the store to pick up a 10 inch iron skillet to make a recipe I found from the 50's for tonight.  I had something else planned for tonight, but have a lot of ground beef left over from the party last night since only a third of the invited showed up.  So...off I go. Thanks for stopping by and come back often.





Jun 16, 2013

MPM 6/17 - 6/23

Wow, this is going to be a really crazy week.  I have had the last two weeks meals planned out, has not worked out for one reason or another.  However, I have stayed on budget and have for the most part only used what I had already on hand.  Honestly, I have not really cooked in several days.  Mainly because I had some dental work done and that has not turned out well at all.  I have been on a very soft diet, hardly eating much at all.  Hubby has been great at helping out with the cooking.  You know it has to be bad if I don't want to even thing about going out to eat or even think about food.

So, here is the plan for this week.

Mon: burgers and dogs, chips, dips, brownies, cookies (daughter is hosting a Stanley Cup party)
Tue: C.O.R.N - Cleaning out refrigerator night.
Wed: Del Monte Hamburger Upside Down Bake
Thu: Chicken and Dumplings, salad
Fri: Depends on how my mouth is doing, get the stitches out.
Sat: Eating out - picking up grandson from airport.
Sun: Eating out brunch.

The Del Monte Hamburger Upside Down Bake is a vintage recipe from 1956.  It is a  new recipe from McCallumVintageRecipeDivas on Facebook.  If you are in to Facebook, this is a fabulous page.
Since my cast iron skillets are in the RV, I have to go buy one for the house before I can make this.  Am pretty sure I can use a baking dish, but want to make it with the recommended pan the first time.  Of course, what kitchen from those days, and earlier for that matter, didn't have an iron skillet in their kitchen.  My grandmother had several sizes, a dutch oven as well.

Hoping that this week works out a little better. 
My beautiful youngest daughter, 16, Miss Zebra.  She had an ice skating competition this past Saturday. She received a 2nd place medal, best of all she made it through with out falling.  This was a first.  She is so beautiful and graceful out on the ice.
The song she performed to was Red High Heels by Kelly Pickler.

Also on Saturday, my youngest grand son, Mr. M, had his 2nd birthday party.

His birthday is actually in July, but since his little sister Miss C is scheduled to arrive in July as well, they went ahead and held the party a little early.  We have entered in to new territory here, since Mr. M came 7 weeks early, she is going through things that didn't get a chance to happen before.  She is due July 16, and we have to leave for our vacation on July 20, so am praying that she does not come late.  I will be very sad if I miss her arrival.  We have two other grand sons as well.  The oldest Mr. T is flying in on June 20th to stay a few weeks with us and going on vacation with us.

Today, since the swelling had gone down a bit, and was feeling a little better, I went to the local farmer's market.  I went to just buy some berries.  I came home with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, orange honey, plums and duck eggs.  Have been told that duck eggs are very rich, buttery and velvety when cooked.  We will see how it comes out.
I did receive my "new" old cookbook.  This was my second choice, my first choice was a different cookbook that I had purchased from a seller on Amazon.  The seller had accidentally mixed up the shipment, sending another buyer's book in my package and my book to that person in his package.  I did the right thing and sent the book to the correct buyer, but unfortunately that person has not done the same.  The seller made it right, giving me not only a refund for my payment but also refunded me the cost for shipping the book to the correct buyer.

Thanks for stopping buy for a visit.  Menu planning is very important to help you organize your time, save you money, and help to plan better meals.  I am linking up with Meal Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie.  Hundreds of readers post their menu plans to her site and it is great inspiration when I get stuck.  Come back soon, tomorrow I hope to do some baking, or as soon as I am feeling a little stronger, will post when I do.

Jun 11, 2013

Menu - 6/10 - 6/16

Well...best laid plans and all.  I was so proud of myself to actually get not one, but three weeks of meals planned out.  Posted it to my blog and to Meal Plan Monday early on Monday morning so was at least in the top half of the list of postings.  Every thing was going swimmingly along, the family loved the tamale casserole.  Although, since I had a meeting on that night, I had the meal all ready to just plate up. Got home from meeting only to find that hubby had just eaten left over pizza. The Frito salad didn't quite turn out as well as it could have because I went cheap and quick on the dressing, buying the Great Value or Walmart brand.  It is just not the same as Catalina.  However, it was all eaten.  Day one a success.

Then it all went south. LOL

After cleaning all the dishes up, was putting away the crock pot, looked like some food had stuck to the liner - even though I use disposal liners (thank you to Reynold's company for coming out with those babies) - so grabbed my little scrubber sponge to see if I could get it off.  It wasn't food, it was a crack all the way down the side in to the middle of the ceramic liner.  Once they get a crack it is very difficult for the unit to regulate the temperature properly while in use.  I know this from years of experience.  This is one of those cases that considering the cost of shipping, it would cost more to purchase a replacement liner than to just purchase a new unit.  Off to Walmart I went, of course they did not have the same unit any longer as I had.  OH WHY won't these companies just leave well enough alone, wouldn't it be easier to just make the same unit instead of changing out the manufacturing plant for a little different look?  My unit was not that old either, only a couple of years. 

I carefully considered my type of cooking with the crockpot.  I knew that I wanted automatic shut off, programmable time and temperature settings and a warm function.  In the aisle of small appliances, I was carefully looking over each unit.  Is that one big enough, too big?  How are the controls? How much is that one?   You get the idea.  I find the one I think I want, naturally it is on the top shelf.  Pulling the unit down, it falls on me, leaving a nasty bruise from the box.  I bring it home, pull it out of the box, put a liner in, then forged ahead with the Tamale Casserole for Monday's meal. 
After it was already cooking, I figured out that according to this manufacturer, programmable equates digital display.  It has preset settings for 4 hour 6 hour, both on high temperature and 8 hour 10 hour, both on low.  No way to adjust either for time or temperature setting.  The recipe I was using called for 4 1/2 hours on low setting, which I couldn't make the unit perform.   The unit worked well, for what it cooked.  All I had to do was set it for 8 hours so it would cook on low, then set a kitchen timer for 4 hours at which time changed the crockpot setting to warm.  I knew that I would not be keeping this unit, but, even though I had used a liner and could not tell it have ever been cooked in, I could NOT in good conscience return it for a refund or exchange. 

I have donated it to our church for the children's ministry to use as they were in need of one and the settings and such are fine for their use.

Things got busy and it was few days before I was able to go back to the store...even though the menu for the week was pretty much all recipes for the crock pot.  Finally, I was able to get to the store and after looking over all the available models, decided on a Faberware brand.
It doesn't quite work the same, as far as the settings, as my old unit, but it truly is programmable.  When you turn it on, it automatically defaults to 4 hours and high.  With the touch of a couple of buttons you can then choose between low, high and warm settings and the timer from a little as 30 minutes up to 12 hours.  After it has cooked for the designated time, during the last minute of cooking the unit gives a long beep and then switches to warm function.  The maximum amount of time that unit will function on warm setting is 4 hours.  It really is a great little unit.  I am disappointed however that the liner is metal and there is a thick rubber seal around the lid that feels a little awkward to use.  The metal attachment on the back (reminds me of old time TV antennae) is a lid holder.  I have however removed it as it takes up a lot a space that I don't really have.  It also has sliding locks on the either handle to lock the lid in place while transporting.  With that seal the way it is, not sure I would trust it, but will be giving it a try before making a final conclusion.  I did use it yesterday, for a very quick throw together main dish.  I just made it on the fly, but it was so tasty so am sharing the recipe.

Meatball Goulash

24 mini Italian meatballs (about, I figured 8 per person and it was really two many, 6 would be fine)
1 jar savory beef gravy (in the glass jar, not a can - there is a difference)
1 can roasted diced tomatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can mushroom pieces

I used prepared frozen Italian meatballs, they are already cooked.  If you make your own, at least brown them first, especially if you don't have time for them to cook a long time and browning them makes them hold their shape better.

Load all the ingredients in to a crockpot, cook on high for 4 hours (best if you cook on low for about 6 hours, I had forgot about dinner and didn't have time for low).  Mix a few times while cooking.  That's all there is too it.  Easy and tasty.  I served it over rice with a salad.  Not much left overs, but enough for my lunch tomorrow.

Use a disposable liner for super easy clean up.

For the rest of the week, the meal plan will look pretty much the same as last week, since I didn't get around to cooking most of those dinners. 

Mon: pan grilled fish, new potatoes mix, salad
Tue: pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans
Wed: bacon wrapped chicken, carrots, green beans
Thu: Cajun sausage and rice, buttermilk biscuits
Fri: cowboy casserole, rice,
Sat: have grandson's birthday party and youngest daughter's ice skating completion
Sun: Father's Day - may cook some ribs.

The great thing about my menu plans, they are totally flexible.  So thankfully, I have all the ingredients I need on hand since some of the dinners were not cooked.  Fish wasn't planned for tonight, but was a great mark down price at the store today and it won't keep long so am using it first.

That's all for now, thank you for stopping in and feel free to leave a comment.  Visit again soon.

Jun 3, 2013

MPM - June 3-9

Wow...what on earth happened to May?  Now it is June and getting closer to all our summer plans. 

School is over for Miss Zebra, she is now officially a senior in high school.  She doesn't get much of a break, Monday starts summer school.  She is only doing a three week session, only half day, so won't be too bad.  I am putting her in charge of Mr. M in the afternoons while I try to get a few things done around here.

This was dessert this week end.
Strawberries and Cream Pie has become a favorite around here.  I learned with the first one I made that you need to cover it in the fridge or the berries freeze.  I changed the recipe up a little bit.  Our Walmart carries Sweet Lava strawberry glaze (located in the produce section) so I mix the strawberry slices in with that for my topping.  I also opted to not add the chocolate drizzle.  The berries are fresh at the time at the local farmer's market.

I am actually semi-functional for a change.  I will be hooking up with Organizing Junkie this week for the Meal Plan Monday.  Be sure and take a look, there are all kinds of plans posted by wonderful people.  Some are vegan, gluten free, paleo diets and really a little something for everyone.

Here is my plan for this week:

Mon. - Slow Cooked Tamale Casserole, Frito salad with homemade Catalina style dressing.
Tue. - Baja Fish Tacos, Pinto Beans, Marinated Tomatoes
Wed. - Cajun Sausage & Rice, Buttermilk Biscuits
Thu. - Cracker Barrel Chicken & Dumplings, Carrots, Peas
Fri. - Cowboy Casserole, Rice, 7-up Biscuits
Sat. - Seafood Enchiladas, Broccoli, Rice (I think this is a recipe close to what a local restaurant offers, got it off of FB)
Sun. - Pulled Pork W/Root Beer Sauce, Baked Onion Rings, Coleslaw

I have my grocery list all made for the week and will be going to the grocery store today.  We don't get paid until next week, so won't do a big buy until then.  I am doing quite well with the budget, have some extra left over actually.  Hope I can keep this up, our vacation is going to cost a small fortune, but it will be worth it.

I only plan my dinner meals, as it has just been me for lunch.  Now that Miss Zebra will be home for lunch, we will just eat sandwiches or salads.  It works for us.  As I mentioned, I have the next three weeks planned.  I could have gone farther, but my oldest grand son is coming for a visit, Mr. T is 10, and am waiting until he gets here to find out what he would like to eat.  I only get to see him a once a year, twice if I am lucky, and only for a few days.  Towards the end of our vacation, when we take him home, we will only have about three days with my oldest daughter and the other grand son, Mr. W will be 3 by then and is Mr. T's little brother.  Not a lot of time but I will take what I can get.

I am also starting a new program today, Frist Place 4 Health, and am hoping it will help me learn to eat more nutritious and because of that, loose some weight.  I finally got cleared by my doctor to head to the gym and now have done something to my back.  Will see what happens, am still going to try and get in a little work out time this next week.  That being said, the rest of the family does like to have a little sweetness from time to time.  I have a recipe for Banana Rum Bread that I am just itching to make, before my bananas go bad.  But...I have to make my Blackberry Cobbler first, before those go bad.  I figure the bread will freeze well, so will go ahead and make both.

This was the last I made, am adding more berries this time. 
I will be making this incredible Mile High Banana Pie later this week as well.  It includes the recipe to make the most awesome Chantilly cream.  I have just fallen in love with it.  I thought it would be to expensive to make very often, as the store brand of heavy cream is almost $7 for a large carton.  However, I found a little trick at the store.  Well at the local Walmart anyway.  Instead of looking by the milk, if you look by the creamers, you can get the same size carton for about $4 instead.  It is crazy, but it is true.

Well, I am off to get my day started.  Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.  Check back often, I will be adding some recipes this week as I make some of the dishes.