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Leftover Help

I had a hunk of pork tenderloin leftover from Sunday’s meal, so today I chopped it up into bite-size pieces and browned it lightly in a large pan with a little olive oil.  I then removed it, added 2 sliced carrots and cooked them up until they were fairly tender.  I then returned the meat to the pan, added 2 handfuls of snow peas, 2 T. of rice vinegar and about the same of light soy sauce, a dash of agave or sweetener and cooked it about 2 minutes.  In the meantime, I chopped 2 scallions and tossed those in, gave it a quick stir and we had that for tonight’s supper.  I’ve done this, too, with other leftover meat or roasted vegetable like zucchini or broccoli.  It’s quick, easy and healthy for you.

If you don’t like to fix your own “stir fry” like above, you can just get a jar of pre-made General Tso’s sauce or a sweet-sour sauce and use that in place of vinegar, soy sauce and a bit of sweetness.  When I want a meatless dish but still need to  s t r e t c h that stir-fry, I will take meatless grounds or a fake “chicken” cutlet or strips and add those to the mix.  If you like mushrooms, they can also be included.  Let’s put it this way……add whatever vegetables you desire, really!  I’ve made this with onion, peppers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, radishes, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, and so on.  Just make sure you had the vegetables that take the longest to cook, first.  Let them cook a few minutes before adding the leftover veggies or meat and you shouldn’t have any problem with a way to use up the leftovers.

Sometimes, I will take my leftover vegetables and chop them fairly small, add 1 diced onion and a hunk of cabbage and cook it down with some garlic until they are all tender.  I then let it cool.  Then buy wonton wrappers and make your own egg rolls by adding 1T or so to the center of a wrapper, roll it up, dampen the area where the seams are and set aside.  Then fry in vegetable oil in a deep frying pot or deep fryer and  fry at 350 degrees until brown on all sides.   Serve with hot mustard or Mae Ploy (Sweet chili sauce) or duck sauce.

Leftover mashed potatoes?  If you only have a little then I suggest you shape into a patty, dip in bread crumbs, crushed corn flakes or potato flakes and fry in hot oil.  If you have 2-3 cups of leftover mashed potatoes, add 1 beaten egg yolk. In the meantime, beat the egg white until foamy and gently fold it into the potatoes.  Pour into a buttered casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until browned on top.

I seldom have leftover vegetables of any kind.  If I’m not making a stir-fry with any, then they go into soup that I make at least once a week.  If you have any you don’t need or can’t use, then freeze.  As a matter of fact, freeze all your vegetable scraps.  I keep a bin in my kitchen freezer just for that….in goes onion peels, carrot tops, celery ends, broccoli stems, garlic peel, etc.  When the bin is full, put it into a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, strain into a clean container and you have homemade vegetable broth for whenever you need it!

 

Happy (sniff) New (sniff) Year!

I ended 2016 with a bad cold.  How I contracted it is a mystery.  Prior to Christmas I had not been out of the house for almost a week and here it was Dec. 27th and I woke up feeling like a truck ran me over!  I began calling it the “Immaculate Virus”!   I couldn’t breathe, my nose was running and stuffy at the same time and my head felt like a thousand tiny gremlins were attacking it in all directions!  Out comes my supply of cold and congestion relief tablets, drinks, capsules, sprays, lozenges and everything else I could find in our medicine cabinet and I start doctoring myself up, faithfully, every 4 hours, or as directed on each package or application.  I now have a list about 8 pages long of companies that I plan on writing to to ask them to change their @#^***^$ packaging because when you are ill, achy and hacking away, you don’t have the energy or willpower to open those annoying tamper-proof, child-proof, irritating little ” chastity belt containers ” that the medicine is located in!  Why can’t they just use a pill bottle with a child-proof cap like headache medication?!

Anyway, in about 3 days my energy did return but my sinuses are still raging on, fighting for rights to keep which nostril to be clear at any given time and which ear to be plugged up or un-plugged.  Before long this head cold had made a “run for the border” and when my son returned from work on Dec. 30th it looked like those gremlins were playing hockey on him…….dark circles under his eyes, dragging his body into the house, he was exhausted, so I started feeding him from the stash in the medicine cabinet.  I should’ve started giving it to hubby and my daughter, too, because the next morning my daughter started sneezing those gremlins out!

Fortunately, hubby hasn’t caught it…yet, but you can bet I’m counting down the hours!  Anyway, we spent New Year’s Eve quietly at home, in front of the television with 2 boxes of tissues being passed back and forth and me or hubby making sure everyone got their hourly dosage of medications.  Tradition in our family is to give everyone a kiss at midnight……we did, through Kleenex!

Today the sniffles and sneezes are slowly winding down but I made a huge pot of soup with enough garlic in it to keep all vampires away from the entire state until October!!!  Hopefully, it will keep all gremlins away, too.  The last time I had a headcold had to be around 2001 or 2002.  But the way these little gremlins traveled around here this year it reminded me of the high-speed flu train that hit our family back in 1989 or 1990………one kids out of three woke up feeling bad and within 8 hours all 5 of us were fighting for use of the bathrooms, tissues and “barf bags”.

Hopefully, this headcold or virus is the worse part of 2017 for us and our only sickness of the year.  Now I have to Google on how to create a special spell to keep gremlins out of our house for the remainder of the year!

 

More Christmas Cookies!

My daughter’s been busy baking more and more!  At the moment she’s making the oatmeal cookies.  Earlier it was nut and poppyseed rolls….these are fresh out of the oven and haven’t been iced yet.

nut-and-poppy-seed-rolls  and then she made the banana bread that her best friends’ brother loves to receive each Christmas.  There’s nothing “fancy” about the banana bread…its just the normal bread.

She also made these delicious cookies yesterday…

lemon pralines russian-teacakes

Lemon Drops, Southern Pralines and Russian Teacakes.

The Russian Teacakes have been made every Christmas for the past 53 years for my hubby.  His mother always made them, too.  The Southern Pralines were added to our “usual” holiday goodies list probably around 10 years ago.  The Lemon Drops were added last year…they are a delicate, light lemon cake with a very lemony icing and are so good!

Not a whole lot of “goodies” compared to previous years, but then so many “kids” and young ones have grown and left the area/families so my daughter has dwindled the baking down to just a handful of great treats.  No matter what kind, it’s the thought that counts anyway!  Tomorrow she will make her delivery of all these delectable munchies to friends and relatives and put smiles on faces, including mine because I get my kitchen back!!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Blessed Yule, Happy Hannukkah, Happy Kwansa, or whatever you celebrate!!!

Christmas Cookies

I used to bake a lot when my kids were young and still living at home.  After they slowly moved out I just quit baking, which is strange because I come from a long line of cooks/chefs.  My maternal grandparents were both chefs.  My grandmother was a pastry chef and my grandpa a chef.  My mom even attended 3 years of cooking at a trade school back in the 1930s.  But, I preferred regular cooking to pastry work, so as the kids grew up and away from the nest, I slowly stopped baking.  I’m one who prefers salty or savory over sweets so I just quit making desserts.  My youngest girl, however, loves to bake.  Actually, all my kids love to bake but my youngest really, really loves it.

Each Christmas season my daughter begins baking on her birthday (18th) and continues up until Dec 23rd and makes enough goodies to feed just about every house in our neighborhood.  However, she bags dozens and dozens of goodies and it goes to special friends and neighbors.  Some are traditional cookies and goodies and some are “healthified” (made healthier) with the use of applesauce, less sugar, less fat, better flour, etc..

This year she’s making a LOT less holiday goodies but still a lot of the favorites and a few traditional ones for our family, such as pralines and Russian Teacakes and Tea Time Tassies.

The other afternoon we decorated her sugar cookies.  They are the soft, chewy kind, made with sour cream in the batter and they’re so tender and good even un-decorated.  We had fun doing those.

cookies-b-2016 cookies-a2016

Sunday night she made pralines, and last night a batch of these tiny lemon cupcake-like goodies that she made last year.  She packaged them up right away because they are that good!

She also makes little loaves of banana bread for her best friends’ brother.

At Thanksgiving, my daughter or I will make a pie or two, but usually at Christmas time it’s just cookies or something like a poppy seed or nut roll.

Do you do a lot of baking?  Do you do a cookie exchange?

 

Make Time for Me

I’m not a morning person.  I have always preferred to be up late at night, watching late-night movies, reading the latest Stephen King novel, or just hanging out with friends, but as I’ve grown and life changed, I found myself moving my favorite time of day to early morning.   When my kids were small and just starting school, I found out that I was not one to get up and start getting the kids moving and myself motivated to begin the day, so I began waking up earlier than I really wanted to or needed to.   As the kids grew, I discovered that waking up 30-60 minutes ahead of waking them up, I had time for my quiet cup of coffee and time to plan out my day.  I began to realize why my grandma was always up so early in the morning when I was a little girl….she needed “MY time” just like I was doing.  As one kid after another grew, went through school years and headed out to start their own lives, I now had a routine that I was quite accustomed to, especially after all those years.

Throughout the years, I continued my morning ritual.   Even though my husband worked “swing shift” (aka 2nd shift) most of those years, staying up late at night until he got home and then getting up early to enjoy MY time alone, it was still special time for me.   As years went on, kids moved back home, husband retired, and life continued, I still savor MY time.

Now as I’ve gotten much, much older, I find out that I like a bit of “my time” again in the middle of the afternoon about halfway between lunch and supper preparations…..a time when I can sit down and just spend some time by myself; a sort of re-energizing time to have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea or just water, but just a time to be alone.  My daughter tends to spend this time alone, too.  It’s her “re-energizing” time, though she will often take a short nap before dinner or just lay and read, I just prefer to sip some tea and unwind a bit.  It makes for a more relaxing day. It makes me, me.  It is making time for myself.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Tree

tree_2As a child in a large city, I remember some very lovely Christmas’s.  I recall going to get my picture taken with Santa at May Co. and Higbee’s Department Stores.  I remember looking at all of the mechanical Christmas scenes in the department store windows and the pure excitement of everything in downtown Cleveland at that time of year back in the 1950s.

I have many fond memories of the season…my aunts and uncles coming to visit close to the holidays and my one aunt always brought me a package of LiveSavers….eight rolls in that box and I loved each one and I remember ButterRum being the first eaten each year, sharing with my cousins.

My maternal grandparents came from Europe so we also celebrated the “old” Christmas on Jan 7th according to the Julian (Orthodox) Calendar and Jan 6th was always celebrated at my grandparents home.  Grandma always let me decorate the mantel in the living room.  She rarely had a tree because the rooms were small, but just having some decorations up made that house special.  I still have, after all these years, the little 6″ red wreaths that she used to hang in her living room windows.  I also have an old piece of a door decoration that she used to hang on her door.  The foil covered decorations have fallen off long ago, but the suction cup and little bell still are attached to the spring-like frame and I sometimes hang it on my own living room door.  I know both wreath and door decor have to be at least 80 years old, if not more.

When my maternal grandparents retired, it became difficult for them to purchase presents for everyone in the family, so at Thanksgiving we would draw names and buy only for that one person.   So on Jan. 6th, we would go to Grandma’s house (3 blocks away) around 7 a.m. and my mother and aunt would help my grandmother make pierogi’s for dinner that night.  pierogi-2016

Making these little pillows of cheesy potatoes smothered in buttered onions was always a lovely, happy experience.  I always had the privilege of sitting there, watching and playing with scrap pieces of dough.

Grandma also made some with sauerkraut, prunes or dry cottage cheese.  My favorite has always been the cheesy-potato filled ones and to this day I make them once a year before Christmas.  I freeze half of them to save for Springtime, too.

After dinner at Grandma’s we’d exchange gifts and that really extended the holidays for me.  Of course, we (my parents and my dad’s side of the family) always celebrated our own Christmas on Dec 25th like most.  I remember one year, I guess I was about 3 or 4 years old, when Cleveland had a horrible snow storm on Thanksgiving day.  It was so bad, my father tried to get out of the front yard and it took him almost an hour just to shovel to the car!  My mom kept saying “there’s no way we will get our tree up and decorated in this weather” and so we did not have a tree like we usually did on the weekend following Thanksgiving.  As Christmas crept closer, still no tree.  My dad was teasing that Santa won’t come when the tree isn’t here because the deer wanted to nibble on it and all sorts of funny stories and tales.  Then on Christmas morning my mom told me to open the door to my “play room”…and there was the widest, fattest tree I ever saw…all decorated with lots of gifts underneath!  Back then we had bubble lights, waxed snowmen and santas hanging on the tree, lots of tinsel and garland and of course, larger (nightlight size) colored bulbs, too. It was magical!

And those are the fond memories of Christmas as a child.  Of course, mom always complained years later because as a little girl of 5 or 6 I would ask her for a “jointed doll” (one where I could bend the arms and legs how I wanted) because I was interested in designing dresses and clothes for my dolls….BUT in the early 1950s there were no dolls like that.  That one Christmas it was the only thing I wanted and my mom swore that she walked up and down all the streets in downtown Cleveland looking for such a doll at more than 40 stores.  I wound up getting a complete art set instead, including my first set of colored chalks and LOTS of paper!

Christmas was truly magical as a kid.  And it got better with my own children when they were little, and then again with the grandchildren.  Now it’s just fun to sit back and reminisce.   I love this season!

 

 

Thanks

Winter is coming slow and steady.  The last of the color on the trees is slowly falling to the ground with each breeze and covering the precious plants that have hidden their faces to protect from the winter’s cold.  I give thanks to the wind for letting those leaves protect the coming spring beauty and keeping their feet warm beneath the coming snows.  At least I hope the snows come.  I’d rather have the snow than the ice and freezing rain.  Ice is much to difficult to travel in, via auto, bus, train, plane or foot.  Give me snow any winter day.

Winter, Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area. Williamsburg, Virginia

Winter, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. Williamsburg, Virginia

Yes, I live close to Williamsburg.  It’s just “down the road” and a place I love to walk and visit.  It’s so serene even in the middle of tourist season when everybody is out and enjoying the sights and sounds.  In winter, it’s even more serene.  I have visited it in all seasons, but my favorite, by far, is autumn.  I love purchasing a cup of spiced cider, perhaps a pastry, and walking along the lovely little streets and shops.

The whole area of Virginia is a very historic place.  A place where my husband and I decided to settle, mainly because we both feel that “we belong” here.  We have some sort of unseen and unrecorded history here.  I don’t know if it’s a longing for the life of decades and centuries gone by or if somehow our hearts are saying “here” but we definitely feel at home in this area.

We retired here in the 1980s after a long, long enduring life as a military family.  Our birthplaces were both in Ohio, but Virginia has become OUR place.  OUR place of solitude.  I give thanks to the Air Force for planting us here back in January and February of 1980.  Our children have really enjoyed being in this area and have learned to love history as much as anyone else.

Yes, I’m a thankful person.  Every night I give thanks and every morning a new round of thankfulness appears.  I’m also thankful for WordPress.