What We Spent and What We Ate: Goodbye to clocks ticking


Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute?

My mother could never teach Our Town.  She said she couldn’t get through Act III without sobbing.  I never understood why.  I never taught it because I thought it was dumb. But as I was rushing to the farmers’ market, yelling at the kids to stop yelling,  I heard Emily’s cemetery monologue on NPR and it brought me to tears.  Now I get what my mom knows.  She knows I should stop rushing around all the time.  I should stop worrying.  I should stop feeling put upon for having to chauffeur my kids to Boy Scouts, school functions, parties, holiday events, piano lessons.  Sure, it’s hard being a mom to three young boys, but in a few short years, I won’t have to do these things anymore.  I won’t have three young boys anymore–I’ll have grown men and it will just be me and Pat in the house.

Emily’s right–we need to really look at each other.  I  need to really look at my sons, my husband, my in-laws, my parents.  I want to enjoy them and treasure the time we have together.  I want to appreciate how lucky I am.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m still going to bitch and moan all the time.  My friend Jamie says that it’s just in my nature to complain.  But I’m going to make a concerted effort to realize life.

What we ate:

Saturday: pork chops, potatoes, three greens gratin

I cut little Yukon Gold potatoes in half, rubbed them with olive oil and put a sprig of rosemary on each cut side.  Pretty.  I was sick of greens, so I decided to try something different.  sautéed some kale and beet greens in a little olive oil and garlic, transferred them to a baking dish, made a quick bechemel sauce, lightly covered the greens (put some under the greens, too) and topped the thing off with a generous sprinkling of grated Romano.  I baked it for a few minutes to warm it up, then broiled it until the top was browned.  It was perfection (okay, maybe it would be slightly better with bacon).

Sunday: chicken soup and Spinach Salad

Last week’s $50 worth of chicken made the best chicken soup in the world.  My broth was a beautiful color and turned to firm Jell-O in the fridge.  I know–gross–but a sure sign of a great broth.  I put way too much chicken in the soup–I should have gotten another meal out of it. Same with the broth–I could have stretched it with a little more water.  I was self-indulgent, so I got three $20 meals out those chickens, when I really should have gotten four of five $15 meals.

Side note:  Don’t put purple carrots in your soup–they’ll turn it blue.

Monday: braised chuck steaks

We’re down to the less easy-to-cook cuts of meat from our steer.  I had several chuck steaks to deal with, so I browned them (when they were at room temp), put them in my dutch oven and just covered them with water and leftover broth.

I deglazed the pan with port, but I’d use a different wine next time (it was overpowering, but that’s all I had). Then, in the same pan, I lightly sautéed some garlic, onion, carrots and celery in a little olive oil, added a can of chipotle peppers (including sauce) and put the mixture in the dutch oven.

Then it went in the oven (at 325 degrees) for three hours.  It was great–a different alcohol to deglaze the pan, and some diced tomatoes would have improved it.

Tuesday: shredded beef soft tacos with tomatoes, cabbage, avocado and crema

I shredded the leftover chuck steak from the previous night for the tacos and warmed it in a little of its sauce.  I saved the rest of the sauce for bean soup.  I liked the tacos even better than the original braised chuck steaks.

Wednesday: lentils and naan

On nights when we’re too busy to cook, this is one of my favorite meals.  I warm Tasty Bite lentils and put six pieces of frozen naan (from the Asian market) in the oven.  The whole thing takes about 10 minutes and I don’t use any pans, so there’s no clean up.  Phew.

Thursday: The kids ate at my moms and Pat and I had a late night dinner of America’s (The Vampiro and carne).  A relief after a hard day.

Friday:  bean soup

I remembered to soak the beans the night before.  That’s three times in a row–I’m getting good at this planning thing.  Seriously, planning the week’s meals it the KEY to cooking on a budget.  You’re able to use everything.  We rarely let anything go to waste.

I used the leftover broth from the chuck steaks, a box of beef broth, and a container of salsa from last week’s party.  I just added all the appropriate vegetables left in the fridge (garlic, onion, tomatoes, celery, carrots).  Pretty good.

My camera broke this week–hence the lack of pictures.  I borrowed my dad’s old camera and took some great photos, only the turned out to be black squares.  I only swore a little, because I’m trying to realize how wonderful the world is.

What we spent:

We spent about $60 on fruit and vegetables at the farmers’ markets this week.  We also used about $15 worth of beef from our steer.  The rest we spent at Whole Foods and Sprouts.

Total : $205

Oh–by the way.  Do not EVER, EVER, EVER buy the bulk sprouted, cocao, coconut reishi at Whole Foods.  It was really expensive, but I wanted to try a new porridge for breakfast.  It smelled and tasted sour and bitter and horrible.  I added a mountain of sugar and it was still inedible.  Just thinking about it is making feel queasy.  I feel bad about spending so much money on it and I also really want to meet the people who eat this.


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