Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Meals - One Roaster

A favorite cheap eats meal that appears anything but is a whole roasted chicken. Sure, the easy way is to run to your local grocer and buy an already-roasted variety...and, in fact, this is not a bad option if you're crunched for time because there's still at least two meals on that one bird. I thought of it today both because I'm craving some homemade chicken noodle soup (and I have none in the freezer or on the stove) and because, quite honestly, I just watched a show on cheap meals which called a $20 meal for a family of four "cheap". Multiply that times 7 days and that's $140/week for just one meal! "Cheap" sure does have a wide range of definitions in the culinary world.

That said, assuming you've got the time, here's the easy way to roast on the truly cheap.

You'll need:

1 whole chicken
1-2T salt - I prefer coarse - your generic table variety is fine
1 T pepper - my preference is coarse and fresh ground - table style is just swell
4 whole bay leaves - you can find these in your spice section - bottled
2 T rosemary - buy it ground or buy in the more whole form and crush with a mortar/pestle
3 T oil - try using olive or canola if possible

Rinse your whole chicken thoroughly removing any 'innards' and the neck - save the neck. Rub the inside carcass with the salt, pepper, & rosemary. On the outside of the bird use a knife to separate the skin from the breast near the rear opening. Once open a pocket is created which can be filled with your bay leaves. Rub the entire carcass with the oil.

Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven generally for 1.5 hours or until done using a meat thermometer.

Enjoy your roaster but save any leftovers - yup - the bones (provided they haven't been chewed on or licked clean), the skin, anything left....even the often avoided dark meat. Take the whole kit and caboodle and put in a tall pot covered with water...include the neck you saved above.

In the pot include what you have...things like:

2 T salt
2 cups chopped thrifty and throw in the leaves too!
1 cup chopped white onion
1 T whole pepper corns
2-3 whole bay leaves

Heat this to boil and then reduce heat to simmer for about an hour....if the water is evaporating a good deal feel free to add more.

Like garlic? Throw some into the pot while cooking.

When all is said and done poor the pot into a fresh bowl or pot by simply using a colander and dumping through that. The colander should catch any bones, chunks you don't want, and whole pepper corns and leaves.

What you have left is chicken stock/soup. To use immediately consider throwing back in any celery/onion that you have in the colander - add some chopped carrot - maybe some egg noodles - and salt/pepper to taste.

Two meals - one roaster....whether roasted at home or roasted in the grocery store, the pre-seasoned meat makes for some great soup.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Early Monday Morning Ruminations

Sometimes early hours mean more productivity....that restless energy best spent on folding laundry or wiping down counters or even cleaning up after a rogue dog or two. Sometimes it just means that my head was not meant to live in Michigan. Which is really tough since my body has been firmly placed here for all the years of my life which I can recollect.

During the 5ish a.m. hour in our home all is still dark and silent. The hum of a refrigerator working and that faint electronic noise is all that I can detect. The street out front does have its share of cars but - perhaps a sign of our economic times - the buzzing is not as frequent as it has been in the past. Even factory workers sleep a bit more...sort of like builders who once rolled out of bed at 5:30. There's no need for early rising as of late.

On Monday there does seem to hang this sense of possibility. Nothing tangible of course, but sort of a feeling of being a bookshelf just a bit too overfull. That's what Monday reminds me of. Sort of bursting at the seams - waiting to see how much can be done or moved about in this one 24 hour period. And of course there is the looming of school - something that most of the inhabitants in this house are looking forward to. Oh, they won't come out and admit it - perhaps the youngest one might - but there is the feeling that it's just time to get on with it. I know the feeling well.

So at 5ish a.m. on a Monday morning filled with potential from a head bursting with all kinds of migraine-y fun, silence is a gift, darkness a blanket, and the air is thick with potential.

.....but how I'd much prefer to be back in bed!
(Incidentally my photo of choice has nothing to do with this post....I just figured it was time for the eldest to get some photo time.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Color Me.......disappointed

Today I'm afraid that what I feel the urge to write about will be considered a complete and utter 'downer'. I'm thinking namely of one thing: disappointment. It comes in many forms and rears its downer of a head in many situations and while it can be felt as a group emotion, it does tend to be rather solitary as one situation will render two people both disappointed but for very different reasons.

From day one of parenting disappointment rears its head. It begins simply enough with drowsy disappointment over lack of sleep. And while so many well-meaning (and well versed) parents will tell us to enjoy the moment for the moment will soon be gone, it sure is difficult to find enjoyment in anything when holding up one's eyelids takes an effort of Olympic proportions. Of course losing sleep takes on an entirely different meaning as children age and, in my case, the disappointment over bad behavior, bad choices, general "badness" falls squarely on my shoulders. While we're all in possession of a sinful nature, with each childhood misstep I can't help but be disappointed in myself for not (fill in the blank)....not spanking more, not refraining from spanking, not keeping him more sheltered, not forcing her out more, not throwing every TV out of the window, not teaching discernment as of 6 months of age....the list goes on. Disappointment.

Then I have what I'm now calling 'Socialist Disappointment'. Color me green (or communist red) but I'm really disappointed in my fellow capitalists over their shock at the direction of this country. Is it not inevitable for Socialism and its counterparts to gain a foothold when even in our Judeo-Christian circles we can't refrain ourselves from spending and retrain ourselves to give to those who need a bit? Oh, to be certain, non-profit agencies often thrive in this economy as well-meaning Christians set out to prove a point (if I had a dollar for each comment similar to: "I guess we're showing the world...our missions budget is well over its yearly goal during this miserable economy."....) Yet I'd like to snatch a few new cars from a few people and disperse that money directly into the hands of the un/under employed...the un/under insured... the stressed out wives....the hard working (but failing) husbands...the Christian school tuition bills of the family of 4...YES - I'd like to get a bit Socialist on the spending of others. I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the lack of embarrassment - in the face of the problems of so many - that a new car/new cottage/new (big ticket item) seems prudent right now. I have Socialist Disappointment and though I feel that I should undergo a 12-step program for it I'm just not ready to commit to that quite yet.

Veggie disappointment: there's one that only comes to the surface in the homes of would be gardeners. I learned disappointment over growing vegetables from my dear old dad. Each year the garden would be tilled, each year the plants would be planted in a very OCD-manner, each year he would stew over rabbits and fungus and bugs (Oh My!) Veggie disappointment is habitual at its very core in that it can be avoided but among the would be gardener it rarely is. In February of each year a seed catalog enters a home and all prior year VD is forgotten, replaced only by visions of Eden-like tomatoes and carnivorous rabbits. VD is subtle, filled with angst, but like Groundhog Day repeated over and over and over and over..... (Have I mentioned my deer-eaten kale?)

Today I'm thinking on disappointment. I'm not yet disappointed by anything in particular but I fully expect to reach it on some level, at some time, in some place..... For as sure as the sun rises and sets, so sure is disappointment....the hope, however, is that like Veggie Disappointment each day is begun fresh - "with no mistakes in it" as Anne of Green Gable fame enjoyed saying - and devoid of disappointment for as long as possible.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Into Movie

Brevity shall reign.

Our Mutual Friend & BBC's Our Mutual Friend....generally a good adaptation

Charlotte's Web & ancient cartoon version....quite a good adaptation

Charlotte's Web & most recent live version....oh heavens...not so much

Pride and Prejudice & BBC's Pride & Prejudice....bring on the Darcy! Nice!

The Memory Keeper's Daughter & the TV movie.....I'm glad my memory isn't so hot

Jane Eyre & most recent version....not bad

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe & BBC's version.....worth coming out of the wardrobe for

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe & the most recent adaptaion....I want to like it...enh

Les Miserables & the 1998's a long book to adapt but missing characters abound

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Way We Were

When I was young my mother used to listen to 105.7FM - at the time it was quite easy listening with the once per hour vocal number thrown in for good measure. As I made my bed the other morning I had one of those momentary flashbacks - perhaps brought on by smoothing a pillow or fixing the comforter. I recalled my mom sitting on the edge of her bed, quietly crying. To a child, a crying parent is (hopefully) an oddity and an occasion met with some vague sense of curiousity.

I sat next to her and inquired as to the source of her tears (I'm sure secretly hoping it wasn't something I did....) She was listening to a song, she stated, and it always made her cry. It was "The Way We Were" song by Barbra Streisand courtesy of the movie of the same name. She went on to explain that the words made her remember the moment she met my dad - their early courtship - fixing up their first house....all the moments that I now realize are the hallmarks of many younger couples. Now being an only child I went on to stomp my little feet wondering why those memories did not include me - how could she be sad if back then she didn't have me, her greatest joy of course.

She couldn't fully explain it to a young child. There were no words, I know now, which would have satisfied my curiousity and my lack of understanding. But I do realize now that I witnessed the hallmark of a good marriage. And while Ms. Streisand connotes other less than glorious political thoughts in me as an adult, her song still renders me teary and now I understand....

Memries,Like the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? could we?
Memries, may be beautiful and yet
Whats too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So its the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...The way we were...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I have written in the past about my love-hate relationships with scrapbooks. The pressure they have created - the marketing genius of one company in particular - and the seemingly endless ways one can now 'archive' their past is a bit mind blowing. Throw in the incredibly ironical concept of leaving one's family for a weekend or week to scrapbook the memories of the family that was left behind.... It's really a bit overwhelming.

I'm artsy. I like odd numbers. I like colorful homes. I like taking pictures. I can even appreciate interesting acid-free, lignin-free, (insert latest concern)-free paper.

I own scrapbooks. I have one of my own from my childhood, purchased with hard-earned money from the local Hallmark store (circa 1970-something). It's filled with non-archival papers that move through my life in a very realistic fashion. I wasn't into grommetting and I don't recall ever embossing anything, but I have some great little 1st grade Valentine's commenting on my "little kid teeth" as well as a report card or two written out in very ordinary Bic Roundpoint Blue.

For my own wedding I purchased the 'appropriate' book from the 'appropriate' company intending to do everything in an 'appropriate' fashion. Instead, my dear mother took it upon herself to place the wedding photos in an album along with snippets of the (quite un-acid free) invitations I had, little pearls from my hair, and a napkin from the reception. I remember shuddering at the time - imagining the looks of horror from the scrapbooking set when they saw how my once 'appropriate' book had been defiled. Five years after her death, I don't see defiled...I see her fingerprints. That's what really matters.

And so as I haul all of my stuff out to the dining table yet again. With the best of intentions yet again....I wonder just how homogeneous the scrapbooks of the late 20th and 21st centuries will appear to children in forty years. When all the very dear, very well-intentioned scrappin' mommas and aunts and sisters are gone or at least too arthritic to apply another acid-free photo corner to a priceless photograph, will the children sitting and gazing at the books see the fingerprints of those who so lovingly prepared the books? or will they instead see a history of the latest scrappin' fad devoid of any non acid-free ribbons and report cards and 1st grade Valentines?