Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weekly Menu and a Recipe: Sausage and Rice

Here I am with another post so soon! I am very sporadic that way. Sometimes life gets ahead of me and I do not post for a month, other times I'm firmly entrenched in our routine and I can spare a few minutes for blogging. C'est la vie, as they say. Isn't it marvelous?

I am back to my weekly menu plan after a brief hiatus. While the kids were with their dad over Christmas, I did not make a menu plan, and then, naturally, it took a few weeks to get back into the habit. Do you ever feel like a break is more of a nuisance than a blessing? Perhaps it is just that they were gone for a whole week. An afternoon break would have been nice, a week....well. Let's just say I keep myself plenty busy while they are away.

Again, I don't actually know what dish I will make when. Mostly it depends on how long the ingredients will stay fresh. I always have all three kids in tow, and so I do one trip to the farmer's market, and one trip to the grocery store, and that is it. If anything is forgotten, it's just too damn bad. You can tell by the expletive how firmly I adhere to this motto.

Sausage with Rice and Vegetables (recipe below)
Chicken and Rice, arugula and spinach salad with sliced radishes and feta cheese.
Roast Chickenroasted brussels sprouts with herbs de Provence
Baked Ziti with Kale (will post this recipe soon, as it's a good one!)
Broiled salmon, sauteed broccoli with almonds
Braised turnip greens with potatoes, carrots, and turnips (I used my own Briased Kale recipe, but substituted turnips greens for the kale, onion for the leek, and beef stock for the chicken stock, plus added smoked bacon and turnips. It was a hit)

Recipe: Sausage with Rice and Vegetables
This was originally my mother-in-law's recipe, and it's a good one, although I've changed it a lot from her original. Cheap, easy, quick, and flexible. I love recipes where you can really play around with the ingredients. I have found that this recipe is a fantastic vehicle for getting vegetables into my kids' tummies. I have often cleaned out the vegetable crisper with this recipe, as it is very forgiving if the ingredients aren't exactly picked the same day. Some of my additions at various times have included frozen mixed vegetables, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, parsnips, peas, and corn and it's always good. My kids love sausage, and it's cheap and easy to find good pastured sausage (even I can find it at my very small local farmer's market), but you could do it entirely without meat if you wanted to. For the sake of simplicity, I'm giving you basic recipe, and you can add whatever vegetables you want, but you'll need to use your own judgment about when to add them. Just remember that harder vegetables probably need to be added with the celery and onion so they have time to cook, while softer vegetables, like mushroom or peas, really just need to be heated up and can be added towards the end.

3 ribs celery, diced
1 small onion (use your favorite kind or whatever you have on hand: red, yellow, white, or even green onions), peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
1 pound breakfast sausage (I use mild)
1 cup uncooked long grain brown or white rice
2 eggs
your favorite vegetables, diced, or 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (harder vegetables, like carrots, need to be diced small so they will cook faster)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil, several turns of the pan

Cook rice separately, according to package directions.  In a large dutch oven, cook the sausage over medium heat until done. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add celery and onion to the dutch oven and saute until caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the sausage, cooked rice, (frozen vegetables) and Worcestershire sauce and stir well. When mixture is thoroughly heated, break eggs into the dish and stir to break up and mix well. Cook until egg is done and no longer runny. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blanket Update: It's Finished!

Do you remember me telling you about Pumpkin's blanket waaaaaayyyyy back when? After his birthday passed and it wasn't finished, I set it aside to start some other small projects that needed to get done, and well, kind of forgot. I saw it folded up last week and thought that there really was not much left to do, probably two more hours and it would be finished. Seven hours later, I wove in the last end. I way underestimated how long it would take me to make that cableknit border! I'm pleased with the way that it turned out. I hope that it will be a special blanket for him. It really is cute, but even more than that, it's the reason I learned to knit. It's been a very emotional project for me, and while I know that Pumpkin will not understand until he's much older, one day, if I can remember, I hope to tell him this:

Dear One,

Here is a blanket that I made with just you in mind. I hope it will keep you warm when you are cold, comfort you when you are sad, and protect you when you are scared. I left the mistakes to remind you that life, like this blanket, is imperfect. Sometimes we mess up, but if you can just keep going, you will make something really wonderful in the end.

I love you,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Library List: 1/16-1/22

Since we've settled into our new house, we've also settled into our new library. Our weekly visits have returned. Our library has an excellent story time and a pretty darn good children's department. Much better than I would have expected. Here is our book list for this week:

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson
The Cow That Went Oink by Bernard Most
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A. Rey
When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Our weekly theme is "cows" this week. The Curious George title was an impulse. I have been incorporating more alphabet books into our reading because Darling is obsessed with letters all of a sudden. You should see her pouring over Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom! We love Curious George and when I saw it sitting on the shelf, I snatched it up for them. The Snowy Day was also an impulse, since it snowed. The girls had a wonderful time listening to the snow crunch! crunch! crunch! under their feet, just like Peter.

Winter Walk

The snow is almost gone now. Only a few patches are hanging on in shady spots, although they are more ice than snow now from thawing and re-freezing so many times. We enjoyed it while it lasted, though! A few days ago my mom stayed with Pumpkin while he napped so the girls and I could take a long walk through the snow. We tried to identify different animal tracks in the snow (I think we saw deer tracks!) and we tried to make different tracks ourselves. We walked to a creek not too terribly far from our house, and the girls were delighted to find that parts of it were frozen over.

Darling made what she called a "ginormous" snowball and carried it around until her mittens were wet and her hands were freezing cold. Then, of course, she whined that her hands were cold and asked me if I would please carry it! Haha!

One of the neighborhood snowmen. I love the hat!

 Our "Snow Totoro". We had just finished watching My Neighbor Totoro.

I just like this picture for some reason. The bare branches against the icy blue sky. It makes me think of winter, even more than snow

Monday, January 10, 2011


Ahhh, a new year! What is it about the start of a new year that makes me want to make resolutions? There's something about starting over which is very appealing. We've had something very big happen here, just nine days into the new year: SNOW!

Real, actual, soft, white, beautiful snow. This is something that rarely happens in our region. We do get some cold temperatures, but usually any winter precipitation comes our way in the form of ice, not snow. If we do get any snow flurries, almost always it's less than an inch and is completely melted within a day or so. This time, we got close to 6 inches! Woot! You can't imagine how excited my children are...or maybe you can! As soon as the first flurries started to fly, Darling had to rush outside to catch some one her tongue:

I definitely see snowmen in my future. I will have to take some  pictures to post. I love winter. We have a fire burning brightly in the grate almost every day.

The kids have brightly colored hats, scarves, and coats, so cute! Doodlebug and Pumpkin were certainly mesmerized by the snowfall:

It's going to be tough to get through our morning chores today, with snow calling our names! I'm sure all the neighborhood kids will be out. The funny thing about snow in a region that is not used to it, is that the whole area shuts down. There's a run on bread and milk at the grocery store, stores and schools close, and people tend to freak out even over an inch of snow. Did anyone else get any lovely white stuff?