Saturday, September 29, 2012

One more recipe

I didn't post the recipe for the meatloaf yet - and I like to post all of the recipes I use so that I can find them again.  This recipe is adapted from a Company's Coming Cookbook.

Meatless Meatloaf

1 cup creamed cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp dried basil (actually, I purchase my basil in a tube, and squeeze out about the same amount as I would use on my toothbrush)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and then add:
1 cup ground nuts (this time we used a mixture of sunflower seeds and almonds)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (if I was going gluten-free I'd probably use either puffed rice or left-over brown rice)
1/2 a large onion, chopped fine

Mix everything together, place in a greased loaf pan and cover with ketchup.  Bake at 350 until done - about 40 minutes.

Cooking up a Storm

We really got busy this morning.  My mother, my sister, my niece (Sonia) and I all were cooking at various times, although never more than three of us at a time.  We made a new salad because I had these beautiful carrots bought at the farmer's market, and wanted to do a salad to showcase them. Some are purple on the outside and orange on the inside, others are bright yellow.  I also have the traditional orange carrots.

Three C’s Salad

4 medium carrots, grated (we used some purple carrots, some yellow carrots and some orange ones)
½ cup currents
½ cup chopped celery

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 TLB raspberry cordial
1 tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Ruth and I are on for bringing the snack for The Party Monday night, so we needed to make something for that.  We also were doing our weekly meal cooking and planning.  So we made:

Meatless Meatloaf - we made two of them and will freeze one.
Meat balls (these contain hamburger meat) - we made 8 dozen
Pigs in blankets (otherwise known as hot dogs wrapped in bun dough and baked.  This was for The Party, so we cut the hot dogs into thirds and ended up making 12 dozen of them.  That should be enough.
Vegetable Pecan Salad
Peas and Corn Salad
Turkey Casserole (two of them)
We're planning on cooking a pork roast for Sunday dinner tomorrow, so I purchased a pork loin roast and it was so large we cut it into three, froze two portions and put the third portion to marinade until tomorrow.

We had to run out to get groceries twice - once before we started and just when we thought we were finished another sister phoned to ask if I could bring them over lunch, so I ran out and purchased luncheon meat and buns and a few more groceries.

Here's the recipe for the pea salad.  We looked and looked for a recipe for a pea salad that had a vinaigrette instead of a mayonnaise dressing.  Here's what we came up with:

Peas and Corn Salad
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 TLB chopped parsley
1 TLB chopped mint

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Finally, here's the recipe for the turkey casserole.  It's great because it uses up all of your leftovers after Thanksgiving.  In fact, you may want to keep some of the main course back, just so you'll have enough for this.

Turkey Casserole
4 cups of diced leftover turkey
4 cups diced bread cubes (or 1 box stuffing mix)
1 white onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 TSP poultry seasoning
1 cup turkey broth
2 cups leftover turkey gravy

Combine bread cubes, onion, celery and poultry seasoning with the broth to make stuffing.

Layer the turkey, stuffing, and gravy, starting and ending with turkey.  If it looks to be really dry, add either more gravy or broth on the top.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  This recipe freezes well, so if you freeze it, you'll need to bake it longer or thaw it first.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Working Out

I started going to Curves with my sister Ruth back in February.  Really enjoyed it too.  I find that when I work out regularly, I feel better, sleep better, and seem to have much more energy.  All good things.  However, I'm now commuting to Moose Jaw everyday - and while I have lots of time most days (as I'm done work at 3 pm and Bram's done school at 4:20 pm), the time I have is in Moose Jaw, where there is no Curves.  However, there is a fitness centre right here at SIAST, and a year's membership for staff is only $30 - that's less than a month's membership at Curves.  (I've also asked Curves if they'll put my membership on hold for two months.)  So, I signed up.

Took me awhile to get everything done - have to pay for the pass in one location, and pick up the swipe card so you can get in at another location, which is only open over the noon hour.  Have to find the fitness centre (which is not near the gym at all - although that's where the change rooms and showers are).  Have to remember to bring my workout clothes and shoes from home.

However, I managed to get everything done today and so went and worked out for the first time here at SIAST.  This also means that it's been nearly two weeks since I have worked out.  Did my body notice?  Yeah.  Also, the machines are all totally different from the ones at Curves, and I couldn't find a staff member to ask for help - so was reduced to reading the instructions on the side of each machine. 

Anyway.  I walked on the treadmill for half an hour.  That was easy.  Enjoyed it too.  I don't think the pulse monitor part works correctly though, because the highest it had my pulse going up to was 101 - and I'm pretty sure that after a half an hour of brisk walking, I should have a higher pulse rate than that.

Then I went to try the weight machines.  Whew!  That's a workout!  Set the weight for somewhere near the top (they've obviously all been used by some macho guy trying to set a point, because they're all set right near the bottom); read how to use the machine, try a few reps.  Move on to another machine.  I think I only tried five machines - there's way more than that, but that's all I could easily figure out and besides that, I was feeling that I'd really done something by that time.

I had thought I'd work out for an hour.  Managed about 45 min. or so.  Try again another day.  Maybe some day I'll find someone who can actually show me what I should be doing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Family Supper

I have been hosting a family supper on Wednesday nights for the past few years.  Everyone who lives in Regina or who is visiting Regina on a Wednesday is invited.  I usually have between 10 and 15 but have had up to 30 on occasion.  It ensures that we all get a visit in and touch base with everyone; which isn't always possible otherwise.  Then once a month (or more often) I have everyone over on Sunday.  The most I've ever had on a Sunday is around 65  (after a certain number, it gets really hard to do an accurate count), but we usually have around 20 or so.

Tonight, being Wednesday, we had everyone over.  We had turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, vegetables, salads, etc. with ice cream for dessert.  A special thank you to my mother because as I was going out the door this morning I hadn't found my roasting pan yet and left the frozen bird sitting on my counter and when she got up, she got it in the oven for me, peeled the potatoes, and got nearly everything ready.  When Bram and I got in this evening, it was just about all done.  That was a special bonus.  This wasn't a Thanksgiving dinner - but turkeys are on sale right now, and I really like turkey.  Unfortunately, I did buy cranberries, but couldn't find them when it was time to put supper on the table, so we will have to have cranberries later.  I can't think we really missed having them.  It also means that we'll have leftover turkey for lunch tomorrow and turkey soup on Friday.  Tonight we set the table with china and silverware - after all, if I've got it, why not use it?  I didn't give any preschoolers china though.  They had to make do with the regular stoneware.

I really like having guests. I also like that I don't have to go out in the evenings, because I'm a home body.  This works well for everyone because I have more room than everyone.  I think it's a win-win situation all around.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Salad Experimentation

Well, Ruth and I didn't get to making salads until Sunday evening.  However, we tried two new recipes that I think will be hits.  First of all, we made a

Broccoli, Beets and Bean Salad (The Three B's)

2 heads of broccoli, cut into small pieces
3 small golden beets - cut in half and boiled or steamed until tender, then thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 1/2 cups red kidney beans (or a 19 oz can)
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled or diced
1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Either 2 TLB raspberry jam or 2 tsp raspberry syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

This makes a really beautiful salad - the golden beets are much milder than the traditional deep red beets, and together with the red kidney beans, the green broccoli and the red onion (which is really purple) - it's really attractive.  I took photos but will have to load them later.

Then we made a
Cucumber Carrot Salad
Which was basically, thinly slicing
1/2 English cucumber
2 carrots (we used the purple carrots, which are orange in the centre - again, they're really beautiful)
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 red onion diced

Cover with
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Now I have to admit that the second day, the carrots had stained everything bright purple because they work the same way the beets do - but they're beautiful on the first day, aren't they?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Aunt Rose

Although she was not a blood relation, Aunt Rose was definitely family.  She started boarding with my Granddad and Grandmother Orr when they lived in Moose Jaw, when Aunt Verna was in her early teens and the rest of the family was in their later teens or early 20's.  My Grandmother told me many years later, that it wasn't a convenient time to take a boarder, particularly a boarder who was crippled by arthritis, but she couldn't say no.  She quickly became part of the family, and when the Orrs moved to Saskatoon and Biggar and Wawota - Aunt Rose moved with them.  In fact, by the time they moved to Biggar - they designed the house with her suite set up for her disabilities.  They used essentially the same house plan when they moved to Wawota.

I really don't remember her walking, aside from a step here or there.  I was young enough that in my memories she was in a wheel chair.  However, she did hold a job in Moose Jaw and in Saskatoon, and wasn't restricted to the wheel chair until much later.  When they lived in Biggar, I remember she had a pet turtle, and if we were really good, she'd let us feed it tiny pieces of liver.

One clear memory I have from Biggar was one time when I was left with her (I think I wasn't feeling very well) and everyone else was out.  I wanted to bake a cake - and she said ok, but I had to go next door and borrow some eggs. I was shy, but she made it my responsibility.  After all, if I wanted to cook, I was responsible for borrowing the ingredients.  Cake to Aunt Rose, meant Angel Food - made from scratch.  We mixed the whole thing up, and I recall climbing up on a stool to peer in the oven to see it bake - and jumping off the stool - and the cake fell.  Aunt Rose was more than a little disgusted with me.

Most of my memories are from when they lived in Wawota though.  Aunt Rose was in and out of the hospital in Saskatoon because of recurring problems with ulcers in her legs that wouldn't heal, and in addition my parents served as respite care for my grandparents and she'd stay with us for the month of August most years.  I was Aunt Rose's personal care attendant.  I would help her dress, count out her pills, do her hair, dress her sores, bathe her feet and put ointment on them, etc.  She paid me the princely sum of $5 a week to do this - which was quite a bit of money, as far as I was concerned.  I was in my early teens.  More than that though, we were friends.  I'd push her the three blocks down to the corner store and we'd take turns treating each other to fresh fruit.  I'd tease her and she'd tease me back.  She was kind of ageless to me - although she was a contemporary of my grandparents, I never realized that she had an age - she just was.  I planned that when I grew up, I'd need to have a house with a bedroom on the main floor to provide a home for Aunt Rose because my grandparents couldn't look after her forever.  (I now live in a house with all the bedrooms on the main floor, Aunt Rose).

She was incredibly patient.  She spent hours and hours reading stories to my younger brothers and sister - mostly Dick and Jane books.  We had a set of old readers that had been discarded from a school and Grandma had given to us.  The younger ones loved those stories - especially the ones with food in them - and would get Aunt Rose to read to them for hours and hours at a time.  That's one of my strongest memories - she was restricted to bed rest, in the hopes that the ulcers on her feet and legs would heal up, so she'd have a child or two on each side of her on the bed and she'd be reading to them.

She was tremendously crippled by arthritis, and must have been in constant pain, but I never recall her ever complaining.  She could only stand to move from the bed to her wheel chair or from the wheel chair to the toilet; her hands were so crippled that in order to sign a cheque we had to tape her fingers together and tape the pen to it.  Her feet were tremendously clubbed, and we had to be very careful to put ointment between the toes and keep them scrupulously clean or they'd get infected.  Most of the time she had open ulcers on her feet and legs.  However, she never talked about her disabilities - only about her abilities.  I remember one time she came back from the hospital and showed off her stick, that the occupational therapy department had made for her at her request.  It was about 2 feet long, had a hook at one end, and a really strong magnet at the other.  She used it to open drawers, grab clothing off hangars, etc.  She was quite pleased with it and showed off how if she dropped an article of clothing on the floor, for example, she could retrieve it herself with her stick, instead of asking for help.

She was also incredibly generous.  In addition to giving her time, she also donated regularly to a number of different causes.   She lived on a small fixed income, but she regularly helped to support a children's home in the southern states somewhere, for example. I only knew because I would write out the cheques for her and then tape her fingers together so that she could sign them.  She was quite stern with me that I couldn't tell anyone - that how she chose to give her money was no one else's concern.  She hated having her picture taken and it was quite difficult to find her in any pictures.  The photo above was the only one I could find - and I cropped her out of a group photo.

She hated garlic - and could detect it in very small quantities.  She was of German Mennonite background and could speak high and low German as well as English.  She taught me to count to 10 in German.  She had a difficult childhood and developed arthritis in her early 20's - but she never spoke much about herself.  She was far more interested in you.

She loved us - and we loved her.  Towards the end of her life, when she was in the hospital in Wawota, she shared a room with a senile elderly woman who wailed and cried all day long in a loud voice, "Lord Jesus, come and take me.  I don't want to be here!  Please, take me home!"  It must have been very hard to have such a room mate, but she didn't complain.  I recall one time, Sengpeth and Gina had come up to visit with me (they were preschoolers) and Aunt Rose asked if they would like a candy.  Yes, they would, and she pulled open her drawer to take some out, only to discover the candy box was empty! "Oh, that's ok," she said, "we'll borrow some candies from Granny, she'll never know."  Right at that time, Granny spoke up and said, "Be sure your sins will find you out!" and we all laughed and laughed.

I named my daughter in part after Aunt Rose.  She was an important part of my life and she taught me so much.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

After one week

Well, I've had one week of my new job.  I'm commuting daily 40 min one way; which is a lot more than I've ever done in my life - but a lot less than many people all over the world do, so I can still count my blessings.  In addition, I commute daily with Bram - so he and I are getting lots of visiting and sharing in; which is a real bonus.   I've been driving and he's been reading aloud a chapter or two from the Bible in the morning, which is also really good. I think it would be better to have a really small car with awesome gas mileage if I was doing this over a longer term (or move to Moose Jaw) but seeing as it's just a 10-week term, I'll live with it.  I need to buy myself a membership in CAA I think, seeing as I'm doing so much more driving.

The job is really non-stressful.  Everyone's working at their own pace, and come to me when they have questions.  It's pretty quiet.  I like that.  Sometimes it would be nice to have a bit more direct instruction time; but seeing as I'm coming in for only a short time period; I guess I can count my blessings because if it was more direct instruction, I would have been really struggling the first day or two (or three or four).

Aside from starting at the same time, Bram and my timetables don't match up very well though.  I teach from 8:45 to 3 pm, with a lunch from 11:45 to 1 pm; while Bram's in classes from 8:30 to 4:20 with a lunch from 12:30 to 1:30.  This means that I have pretty close to an hour and a half most days without much to do - I think I'll need to take up knitting or crocheting or something.  I don't have any prep to do because I have from 2:10 to 3 daily for that.  Bram has no classes on Friday afternoons (although there's a math tutorial - which he says that at this point he's not needing to attend as he's getting the math) - so this Friday I drove him down to the nursing home and he was able to visit with his grandmother for awhile.  He walked back to the school afterwards, although I would have picked him up.  That's also very nice.

The main drawback (aside from the commute) is that I haven't been able to work out mornings at Curves.  There isn't a Curves at Moose Jaw - so I think I'll purchase a membership to the school gym and start working out at 3 pm daily.  I was still finding my feet this week, but now that I know what I'm doing, getting my exercise in will be my next essential.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday morning meal planning

Although I did work today - starting work at 8:45; Ruth and I still did our Saturday morning cooking together.  We did our grocery shopping last night and started at 7 this morning. What did we make, you ask?

Five salads:

    • Sweet potato black bean
    • Broccoli and grape
    • Warm winter vegetable
    • Cauliflower
    • Moroccan chickpea barley
Now you'll notice that that's pretty heavy on the vegetable salads, and our salad with the grain in it is also the salad with the legume in it, but it's also harvest time and there are so many lovely vegetables right now, that it's really nice to be able to use them.  

We also made:

One soup - borscht (but I think we still need to add some sausage to it - it was sort of a spur of the moment thing, so we used the ingredients on hand).

Several casseroles
    • Two big pans of lasagna
    • Chili
    • Swiss steak
Now to be honest - we didn't get all of that done before I had to dash off to work.  When I left for work, we had done the first four salads plus the borscht and the  lasagna, and Ruth came back after she dropped me off (and checked out the farmer's market), and finished up and did up the dishes (bless her).

When I got home after work, I unplugged the various slow cookers and am just waiting for them to cool down before I pull the food out of them into storage containers.

What's kind of funny about the whole thing is that wasn't what we had planned to cook today.  Yes, we had planned to make salads and a casserole or two, but we had planned to make a green pea salad and one other kind of salad (I don't remember what) - but when we started pulling ingredients out of the fridge, we changed our minds, deciding to use up what we already had instead of pulling other ingredients out of the freezer.

Jumping without a Parachute

Today marks exactly six weeks that I have been working for the public library.  It also was my last day of work.  I gave my resignation a week ago - not actually having any firm job offers but having had one interview, and knowing another interview was coming up.

I enjoyed working at RPL, but I didn't really want to stay there.  I wasn't doing enough (any) teaching - and although in the future I would be teaching about 1.5 hours a week - that's still not really teaching.  I got to write up some interesting program proposals and did a number of book club bags for people who had low literacy levels, but I wasn't feeling challenged - aside from the challenge of finding things to do.  In addition, a lot of my work there involved phoning people - and I've always hated phoning; especially phoning strangers. So, as soon as I knew that I had some other fairly firm prospects - although nothing actually offered, I gave a week's notice.

Things I really liked about working at RPL?

  • Taking the bus there and back every day - not having to drive.
  • My coworkers.
  • Working in a library.
  • Having regular set hours, and knowing what they would be.
  • Helping people.
  • Being really appreciated for the work I did.
Things that weren't as good?
  • The salary
  • Phoning strangers all the time
  • Not enough work to do; not enough challenge
  • Not teaching

Then, I was offered a job at one of the other private schools here in Regina.  However it wasn't as a teacher - it was as a tutor.  (Think - much, much less pay).  The pay was probably comparable to what I was making at RPL, but although they didn't call it teaching, I would be teaching.  I would really need to pick up another part-time job in order to make ends meet.  However, I'd be starting at 7:30 am and finishing before 2 pm, so that would be a possibility.  I was guaranteed the job through the end of June.  It was an hourly wage, and I wouldn't be paid for days I didn't work (such as teacher PD days).  I really couldn't decide whether to take that job or not.

Then, I had an interview for a term position at SIAST - Palliser campus (which is the Moose Jaw campus).  It would be teaching high school level classes - math and humanities (a real mixed bag), but full-time for the term.  The down side was that it is a short-term contract - filling in for a teacher off on sick leave.

Then, I had an interview for a term position at SIAST - Wascana campus (here in Regina).  It would be teaching in the business ed. division.  The down side was that it is a short-term contract - filling in for a teacher off on sick leave - and it wouldn't be full-time.

So - I turned down the tutoring position at the private high school (before I had any other job offer - but after I knew that they had checked my references).  That was Thursday.  Friday morning SIAST called me to offer me the position in Moose Jaw and I accepted.  I have to say that I didn't sleep too well Thursday night, but was very happy to have the job offer Friday morning.  I'll start Monday.

The good things about this new position?

  • It's back teaching adult ed - which is what I've really been wanting to do
  • It gets my foot in the door for teaching at SIAST
  • I will be teaching again - full-time
  • I'll be commuting with Bram every day - so we'll get some good visits in
  • The pay and benefits
The not so good things about this new position?
  • It's a short-term contract (to be extended if the person on sick leave needs more time off)
  • It's commuting 45 min. a day every day - on a highway known for blizzards
  • It's teaching new subjects that I haven't taught before (well, some of them I've taught before and I know I can teach them - it's just that the learning curve will be really sharp at the beginning)
  • The uncertainty of it all again

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labour Day - Cooking up a storm

Yesterday may have been a day off work - but Ruth and I worked hard.  We cooked up a storm: four different salads, two soups, two casseroles and two desserts.  Then in the evening, while I was doing up dishes and cleaning up, I baked two different types of muffins.  Also did laundry - and hung it out on the line. All in all, it was a very productive day.

Today after work I started processing crab apples.  Ruth and I had picked two ice cream pails full and I cooked them up and made a bit of applesauce to go with supper tonight.  They were bright red crabs and so the applesauce and apple juice is a beautiful pink colour; it looks like it must have been artificially sweetened, but it's all natural.

I had purchased some discounted peaches on the weekend and Bram had kindly gone through them and cut out the bad spots.  I was too tired last night to use them all up; I made a pie but still had lots left, so I just mixed up some fruit fresh and put them in the fridge.  Tonight I made fresh peach cobbler for dessert - very nice.  I used my great-grandmother Head's recipe; which is really one of the nicest recipes for cobbler I've ever made; it doesn't use too much sugar either.  Here it is:

Great Grandmother Head's Fruit Cobbler

1 quart fruit, sweetened (this is the really large can, 128 oz) or a quart jar of whatever fruit you want
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Use a 9x 13" pan.  Put the oven on to pre-heat and put the butter in the pan to melt.  (This also greases the pan.  Obviously Great-grandma wasn't one to waste any effort).  I find this recipe works best if you preheat the fruit, so while I'm mixing up the batter, I usually put the fruit in a glass bowl and heat it in the microwave.
Mix everything except for the fruit into a batter.  Put it in your pre-greased pan.  Pour fruit over batter.  The batter will rise to the top when it's cooked.

Bake at 350 until done (about 1/2 hour).