SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{September 28, 2014}   Applesauce Autumn

I don’t recall ever having store bought applesauce as a kid.  I never ate the soupy yellow slop in the school cafeteria that was touted to be applesauce. I’m spoiled.  I ate homemade applesauce.

I remember chunky, not too sweet,  applesauce in quart jars from Gram’s fruit room in the basement. Sometimes, she’d make a fresh batch to go with dinner, and I’d sneak chunks of apple from the dishpan. I wasn’t so slick – she knew exactly what I was doing. And I never saw her canning it, but she must have, because there were always jars downstairs, pretty and golden and full. These days, canning is too much bother and she freezes containers instead.

My absolute favorite was always Great Grandma Sweitzer’s pink applesauce. Was it sweeter? More cinnamon flavored? Or was it simply that it was an infrequent treat? And I may be the only one who really liked it. I never can get Gram to make it for me.

When the weather turns a little cooler, my comfort cravings arrive. I watch for good prices on acorn squash and roasts. And as apples go on sale, I walk through the grocery, Droid to my ear, asking Gram which ones and how many I should get for a batch of applesauce.

Honeycrisps are good for eating, but no good for applesauce, and too pricey by far, she advised yesterday as I strolled through my Brookshire’s.

So I purchased several McIntosh, a few Red Delicious, and some Braeburns.  It takes a variety to get a good flavor, according to Gram.

As forty lurks in the not too distant future, and I’ve been away from home over twenty years, one might think these phone calls unnecessary. After all, I’ve made applesauce, baked Mac & cheese, and acorn squash on my own hundreds of times now. And I probably don’t have to call her every time. (“Don’t you ever write things down, Katherine?” “Do you have your pencil and paper ready?” I always lie and say I do, and she always knows it’s a lie). By this point, I do it out of habit. It’s an extra excuse to call my grandma.  She’s getting older, and someday I won’t be able to call and bother her with silly kitchen questions that I can answer myself or Google. So I’ll do it as long as I can.

So here is the off the top of my head because I never really write it down instructions for easy applesauce:

Easy Applesauce
3-4 varieties of apples, totaling about ten pounds
Sweetener and cinnamon, to taste

Peel, core, and cut your apples into chunks. You can run through the blender, but you may as well buy it at the grocery for that.

Place your chunks into a good-sized pot.  Add some water till your chunks are just barely covered. They should not float.

Bring to a good boil for a few minutes. Turn down and simmer till soft.  I test mine once in a while with my potato smasher.

Once soft, you can mash them easily. Give a taste and start sweetening. With the right apples, it won’t take much.

I live hot applesauce on a little ice cream.  I like it chunky and tangy. You just can’t buy it like that.

We will eat some of it, but I’ll can the rest.  It’s one of my autumn routines.

What are some of yours?

~ Katie

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Starting back in April, I demanded politely requested a weekly date night with my husband.  Although I think he hated was hesitant at first, it’s a routine we both count on now.  We’ve tried a few “new to us” restaurants, a few favorites, and revisited some we’ve not been to in years.  We’ve had a picnic by the river and experienced the fine cuisine at TK’s Tavern when he’s running late for Friday pool league.

This week has been crazy with a capital C.  Back to School Night, karate, etc.  He’s got several jobs he’s trying to finish, which adds several hours to every day.  I really expected this week he’d go to pool while the monkeys and I chowed down on leftover fried rice (yum!!!). But he called after work with “What are your thoughts on dinner?”

While I’m tearing the house apart, desperately searching for Monkey #2’s karate pants is not the best time to ask me this. 

And still, we were running behind.

“How about Arby’s? Its on the way.”

I love that place.  Their little ham and cheddar sandwich is cheap. The jamocha shake is amazing. And we spent less than $20. On a dinner on date night! The kitchen was a little on the slow side, but the food was worth it.

I have figured out through the experiences over the past few months that it’s not really about the food.  It’s the time together, without the monkeys, to talk and catch up and laugh and flirt. Do I love going to the pool hall practically every Friday? Not every week, for sure. But do I love the alone time before? Yes.

So, while it’s a routine, and you can set your watch by it, our date night dinners aren’t about the food. I think we’d do just as well with Little Caesar’s and Red box.  As long as we get that it’s quality time, that’s what is important.

How do you make sure to squeeze honey time into your schedule?

~ Katie

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I’m having anxiety because my freezer meals are dwindling.  A few weeks back, I decided to throw some more meals together.  I’ve seen “Cheeseburger Soup” recipes, but have yet to try one, or even look closely at them.  For my Burger Soup, I just threw things in my gallon sized ziploc  that appealed to me.

Freezer to Crockpot Burger Soup
1 lb. browned ground meat – venison in my house!
1 pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
1 pkg. frozen skillet potatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1 can water
Season to taste

Label, lay flat, and freeze.  Crockpot low 6-8 hours. It would be awesome with some shredded cheese.  I actually added a bag of tater tots upon arriving home, as well as some sliced cheese.  This thickened it too much, and we ate on it for three days.  Obviously I need to tweak a little!

It was easy, filling, and satisfied my freezer filling desires for a minute.  What are you doing to feed your freezer?

~ Katie

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I wasn’t really raised in the south.  I moved here when I was almost 16, but over the past 20+ years, I’ve adopted some very southern idiosyncrasies.  My monkeys do not refer to grown ups by their first names – it’s “Mr. Shawn, Mrs. Mia,” and for those very close family friends “Aunt Janice, Uncle Karl.”. We say “yes, ma’am. No, sir.” We bless our McDonald’s value meals.  These aren’t things I grew up doing, but have totally embraced.

A little more difficult? Weddings and babies.  Southern women love love love weddings and babies.  I do, too, truth be told.  But I love love love them from a distance.

A little over a week ago, September 4, our family was blessed with a new addition. Grizzly’s “baby” brother and his sweet wife were joined by baby Tiger Bite. They were on my mind and in my prayers all day and evening. Due to a C-section, it was Saturday before they left the hospital. I didn’t go visit. Do I love them any less? Absolutely not. I don’t like hospitals or crowds, Monkey 2 is too young to go in the room, and Grizzly was out of town. I’m beyond excited to have a new nephew to spoil! But I’m OK with waiting a minute.

As for weddings, they tend to stress me out. I’ve been a bridesmaid in several. Expensive dresses and up-do’s for a 15 minute ceremony, dealing with bridezillas and in-laws, and excessive drama in general. I much prefer being a guest, so I may come and go at will.

One of my best friends married on the 12th, and I’m over the moon for her. Her new husband is young, adorable, and head over heels for her and my little buddy, Soccer Star. I wanted to throw her a shower, attend her bachelorette, etc., but when she said it was a JP wedding with just their parents, I honestly breathed a sigh of relief! Had she needed me there, I’d have stopped whatever I needed to for her. But it was still a weight off my shoulders. A wedding can wreck the best of friendships.

Am I the only weirdo that loves weddings and babies more in theory than in real life? Maybe it’s my aversion to crowds and excessive financial expenditures? And it really isn’t that I dislike either in reality. I just prefer to keep a safe distance.

Btw, BFF and Tatman are now happily married and honeymooned, and I did finally get to love on that sweet lil nephew of mine, Tiger Bite. Totally worth the lack of my immediate presence.

So, seriously, am I the only weirdo?

~ Katie

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{September 6, 2014}   Reflection: Hanging On

I remember two things distinctly from my childhood.  One was this ragged yellow baby blanket that I toted everywhere. Another is a one-eyed brown teddy bear named “Tedina” (because I was a creative kid like that!). I don’t know what ever happened to them. I’m certain they were chunked in one move or another and I forgot all about them.

When Super Nana moved in with GG and Billy, she left tons of stuff behind.  I neatly packed things away in totes, waiting for her and Grizzly’s younger sister to come and sort through them. Just one tote at a time, I remember thinking. Nana has gotten most of her stuff – it’s 7 years now – and about 2 years ago, I made a special delivery to my sister in law.

How long is too long to hold on?  When your baby blanket is useless even as a cleaning rag?  When it’s been a decade since you’ve seen whatever is in the bottom of the box? When should you let it go?

I’m in a reflective state today, with my partner in crime running errands, my husband working out of town, and the monkeys getting along.  I realize that I don’t just hold on to my tangible stuff. I hold on to friendships that have died. I hold on to hurt feelings. I hold on to unspoken thoughts.

When do you let it go?

It can’t be healthy to hang on to things like that.

A lot of it goes back to perception and reality (guess what unit I’m teaching right now?)

Friendships. Sometimes we just don’t get that the ship has sailed. A few months ago, I needed to be selfish and focus on me. Real Chick called me a liar and a bad friend. She blocked me on Facebook. Our friendship had become very one-sided and I honestly was not in a place to maintain that relationship. She has since apologized, which I’ve accepted and I wish her well. But we can never have that friendship back.

On the other side of the coin, I miss the Higher Authority like crazy. So many times in the past 6 months I wanted to reach out to her, to get some advice. A few times since the oh-so-mature “Block Party,” I’ve thought she and I were in a good place – but there’s never any follow up on her end. And she’s angry with me about something she’s never addressed with me, something I played a minuscule role in but ended up with the blame. Why do I continue to reach out, want to resolve it, want to at least get back to the place where she doesn’t hate me?

Hurt feelings. Grizzly likes to say I hold grudges and will cut people out of my life with ease. It’s not really like that. But if someone is being mean and hurtful, why bother with them? It takes a lot of work to turn the other cheek and often it just doesn’t feel worth the energy. But I hold on to the hurt. The gossip about me, the gossip about my family – those are things I find difficult to let go. How long is too long to hold on?

Unspoken thoughts. Getting stuck in your own head can be the worst. I watch a good friend go through cycles where he does this, too, and while I want to shake him, I get it. If you say it out loud, it’s real. But if you obsess on whatever’s in your brain…it’s no way to live. And sometimes, speaking those thoughts, can bring clarity. Why are we so hellbent on not speaking? What are we holding on to?

It’s easy to let go of so many things. Unless you’re a hoarder. But the intangibles, the thoughts, feelings, friendships – they’re tough. When is it time to let go?

~ Katie

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{September 1, 2014}   Recipe: Broccoli Burger Braid

First of all, my CDO isn’t as severe as Jeepnmom’s. Let me make that crystal clear right now.  I don’t lose my poo over nearly as many things as my precious bff. I’m all about some routines, though, and my Monday dinners are a big deal to me.

They started while Pioneer Woman was deployed, so her husband had a home cooked meal at least once a week, and have continued for over a year.  Usually l chunk something in the crockpot on my way out the door, due to faculty meetings and schedules. The one Monday I actually attempted to cancel, they showed up with pizza and beer. They know me and my “stuff.”

Today is Labor Day. Most of America is grilling with family and friends. Not the House of Cheaptitude. 1. Grizzly is working. 2. Pioneer Woman is traveling. 3. Pioneer Woman’s hubby hasn’t been to Monday dinner since June. 4. I don’t grill.

I didn’t feel like a freezer meal though.  And I had an idea that sounded divine to me.  Have you ever been to a Pampered Chef party and had the yummy Chicken and Broccoli Braid? One of my favorites.  I rarely make it because I’m always crunched for time, but it sounds good today.

I don’t have some of the ingredients. I don’t like some of the ingredients.  So here is my take on the braid.

Cheeseburger Broccoli Braid
1 cup browned ground meat (deer, at my house)
1 cup shredded cheese
2 tablespoons mayo – I actually add more so it’ll be more moist. You can also use ranch dressing – yum!
1 cup finely chopped broccoli (tonight I’m using green beans because I’m out of broccoli!)
Garlic powder, salt, pepper, dill to taste
1 package refrigerated crescent rolls – almost bought just the sheet dough!

Combine everything but the dough in a bowl. Mix well  – everything should be moist.  On a cookie sheet – I use a large bar stone – roll out the dough and press the seams together.  Using a knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough 1/4 of the way in, matching each side, about 6-8 times.  Scoop the filling into the middle strip of the dough. Bring the cut sides together and twist. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes.
So there it is. It may be just the monkeys and me, but it’s a yummy, easy dinner!

What’s your go-to when you have some extra time?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android

et cetera
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