(Maybe she would have made better speed if we had told her to turn her handlebars around. hee hee.)
After a delicious picnic, and a very cool discovery of and animal carcas in the edge of the woods, we set out for some easy hiking. There's just something about getting out there...the trees, the air, the birds. It puts things into perspective.
A Blue Moon and Chocolate ice cream stop on the way home....HAPPY DAY!
Marc & Melodie Sankey and their boys came for a wonderful visit Friday and Saturday. We had some great years of working together at Franklin Bible Methodist Church in Ohio before we moved to Alabama/Mississippi and they moved to Mexico/Texas. They are home for a few months, and we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to spend some time together. Friendships like this are worth holding on to.
Fun times gathered 'round the computer - they showed us around their new life in Mexico on Google Earth.
These are 3 handsome and incredible boys....They're being raised well and prepared for a lifetime of service.
I had already assembled a few of the meals before cooking day because of the ingredients involved. Cooking day was long...but not impossible. I just had to keep at it. I have very little counter space, so I pulled the kitchen table over by my tiny little counter to use as close work space.
The end result? I LOVE IT! My freezer is full of healthy meals. I don't have to rush or worry about what to fix. I have meals ready to go if I need to take food to someone. I was a little worried that all the new recipes would be overwhelming to my traditional eaters. But so far, every recipe has been a hit. The Shish Kebobs were the only challenging dish. But that is because it involved vegetables that are new to them. I didn't force the issue, and let them pick and choose off the kebobs what they wanted. The only rule: No complaining! Then I cooked up the remaining marinated meat for fajitas for today's lunch.
Do I plan to do it again? Without a doubt! I'd do a few things differently, though. The book suggests that you do your shopping the day before cooking day. I did some of my shopping early. This made some challenges for freezing the meat. I was also a little nervous that the dates on my cheeses and such would run out before I got to the day. It turned out fine, though. The best way to avoid this is to buy the meat fresh (not frozen) and keep it in the fridge a day or two until your cooking day. The reason? Many of the meals are assembled, not cooked. You need to add marinades and the like before freezing the raw meat, ready to cook. You definately need to xerox the (very easy and organized) shopping list so you can mark all over it. I did some substitutions and needed to record those. Plus it helped keep shopping simple to mark through items as I went.
Freezer space? Not a problem. I have teensy side-by-side freezer. You freeze most of the meals flat in freezer bags. And those plastic 3-cup containers from Aldis. You do need to start with a pretty empty freezer, though. Don't buy ice cream or a quarter beef until you've used up some of your delicious meals.
I have more pictures, but they're not loaded yet onto the computer. I'm planning to do reviews of the recipes as I go. So far, so good! It was completely and totally worth the 9 hours of cooking.
Here's the recipe lineup. The items in parenthesis are suggested sides. I love this, because it jump starts me for ideas and gets me a little out of my steamed broccoli rut. I haven't used the really strange suggestions yet. But it's a brain starter for me.
Once-A-Month Cooking Plan E
Split Pea Soup * (orange and apple slices)
Chili Dogs * (Winter fruit salad)
Jack Burgers * (Greek Pasta Salad)
Deborah’s Sweet-and-Sour Chicken * (Sauteed Apples with Thyme; steamed broccoli tossed with toasted sesame seeds)
French Stew * (Tossed green salad with Creamy Dressing*; French Bread)
Shish Kebabs * (Corn on the cob; Erica’s Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies)
Chicken and Rice Pilaf * (tomato caprese; baked asparagus)
Grandma’s Chili * (multigrain rolls; cottage cheese with pineapple chunks and mandarin orange slices)
Crustless Spinach Quiche * (Fresh sliced tomatoes)
Grilled Ham Slices * (Corn on the cob with chili Butter*)
Green Chile Enchiladas * (shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, avocados)
Chicken a la King * (fresh-baked asparagus; red grapes or melon slices)
Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork * (Sweet Potatoes)
Oriental Chicken * (sautéed napa cabbage; egg rolls; fortune cookies)
Marinated Flank Steak * Cauliflower Mock Potato Salad
Three-Bean Taco Chili * (Bed of corn chips; Spicy Grilled Pineapple)
Sicilian Meat Roll * (Eggplant sauteed with zucchini, tossed green salad with Creamy Dressing)
Dawn’s Lasagna * (Ceasar salad and Asparagus Italiano)
Italian Shepherd’s Pie * (Artichoke Hearts)
Southwestern Chicken Soup * (Watermelon salad*)
Rosie’s Meat Loaf * (Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes; broccoli)
Baked Beans and Hamburger * (corn on the cob; tossed green salad)
Glazed Ham * (Spaghetti Squash; green beans)
Bird’s Nest Pie * (apple spinach salad)
Chicken Tetrazzini * (Gingered Carrots; chocolate cake)
French Dip * (Waldorf salad; carrot strips)
Lemon Chicken * (cucumber salad; rasted grape Tomatoes*)
Grilled Salmon * (Greek Pasta Salad)
Mexican Stroganoff * (Tomatoes Caprese)
Many of the recipes are big enough to 2 meals for our family of 5. I split some of them, but I think if I had it to do over I'd split almost all of them. I'd rather get 2 full meals than one with leftovers.
I also love that the recipes use a huge variety of herbs and spices for seasoning. They are very tasteful, without being weird. I think it will help a little towards stretching the tastebuds of kids (and hubby).
Oh! I almost forgot to mention....the book also has plans for cooking 2 weeks' worth of meals, if you're not up for a month.
Anyone else tried this plan or something similar? This sure takes the idea of browning hamburger and freezing for later up a notch. I'd like to hear your experiences.
The birthday parade marches around the restaurant.
Meanwhile....Daddy, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Alex take full advantage of this 2-year-old birthday bash! Looks like intense ski ball competition.
That's our guy....and he is ALL boy. Loves to shoot cars and zoom trucks. Loves real tools and knows how to use them. Loves to sing. Conducts music. Keeps perfect rhythm. Bangs his head when he's upset (Yes, we're consistently working on that one....) Is best buds with his sister Karissa. Talked like crazy at 18 months old. Loves to get dressed and go places. Spontaneously rubbed my back as I put him to bed and laid down by him tonight.
Caiden with is cool M&M cake Aunt Chelle made.
Daddy and Bubby in church.
Like this....all the time!
Lord, give us the Biblical wisdom to train him. Give us the godliness to lead him. Give us the patience to mold his intensity. Thank you for this little man.
Loaded up for a weekend with the Wolf fam at Grandpa's cabin in the Indiana hills.
The playhouse Grandpa built...
So on a whim, I poked in some cheap numbers into priceline for a 4-star hotel in Indy. It was Indy 500 weekend.....fancy hotel downtown....no way they'd accept my meager bid. But they did! So we threw some clothes together and headed out.
For Christmas, someone gave our kids a family pass to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. It is, by the way, the most amazing children's museum in the world that we know of. It's cool having a pass, becuase we feel like we can go and have some fun for a couple of hours without having to knock ourselves out for 7 hours trying to get our money's worth for the day. We hit some of our favorite spots:
Decisions, decisions in PLAYSCAPES!
Serving mommy and daddy ice cream....
Next (after a cheap lunch via the Wendy's drive-through) we met Mom Fry, Debbie and Alex at the Imax and saw Dolphins and Whales. It really was good, but a bit slow-moving and very redundant. The hundreds and hundreds of close-up shots of the bellys and sides of whales, combined with the narrator's "I'm-trying-to-sound-mysterious-and-provocative" voice was almost enough to put you to sleep. But it was fun to be together
And then the canal walk. It is a quiet, beautiful and peaceful place.
To save on the outrageous "fancy hotel" parking costs, we left our car parked in the garage by the canal walk and walked the couple of blocks to the hotel. The hotel (Downtown Marriot) turned out to be fabulous. Enjoying the piles of fluffy pillows: It was a great combination of modern elegance
Nothing like chillin' in the windowsill in your diaper, ya know.
Cereal & milk, cartoons, and a cool pull-out table. (You'd think these poor kids had never seen cartoons before....)
Beautiful view of the sunset
The city at eventide
We enjoyed hanging out at the hotel. Then...as dark began to fall, we packed the kids up in the triple stroller and went out to paint the town. It was one of those priceless evenings when the kids were tired, but relaxed. Not squabbling and whining. We were just a couple blocks from just about everything Indy has to offer. We enjoyed the beautiful evening and the city lights at the circle. Then we had a lovely dinner at Buca di Beppos. David and I shared a plate of "Quattro al Forno" (A sampling of: Cheese Manicotti, Chicken Cannelloni, Stuffed Shells and Ravioli.) We got the sleepy kids a 1/2 pound Italian meatball to share. We were amazed when Caiden tried to finish off the meatball single-handedly and the girls scooped into our shared plate. (I fear our days of one 6-piece nugget shared between 3 kids are just about over.)
After a quiet walk back to the hotel we found that the maid had slipped in and left the extra blanket and pillow we requested. Everyone slept like babies.
The next morning we walked around White River State park, checked out the area by the river where the free outdoor summer concerts will be and walked over to the zoo.
Then it was back home to Frankfort for an FCA staff lunch and the beginning of teacher work week. The hotel was a bit of a splurge. But it was every bit worth it.
Cost of gas to get to Indy: $???!!!
24 hours of memories with our little family: Priceless