Saturday, July 23, 2011

Checking in...

Wow! It's been almost a month since I've last posted! I've been so busy going, going, and going that I have forgotten to type anything. We spent almost two weeks in the great state of Washington...see the pic above.  It was glorious! I took that pic while standing on the northwesternmost tip of the continental US. 

I often wonder why people are so in a hurry to leave our continent to explore.  I am 44 years old and still haven't been and seen everything here yet!  I'm pretty sure once I do see it all, I'll need to turn around and do it over again as I will have forgotten half of it!

Summer is here in Oklahoma for the duration. I'm trying hard to keep a few things alive around my yard.  I will be yanking most of my garden up in a week, once I get back from summer church camp, because we are so dry and hot that nothing is producing.  I'm so very glad that my family does not rely one hundred percent on my produce for it's winter sustenance or we would be very hungry this winter!  I have nothing producing except eggplant, lots and lots of eggplant!  We've had it fried, sauteed, in pasta dishes and grilled.  I'm thinking that once summer is over, no one will want an eggplant for a while!

I'm truly hoping that after church camp, I'll start getting better about posting.  It will be the first of August, time to get started settling down for school.  I'll try to get everyone back into some routine because we certainly have not been on one this summer.  I'll also be starting meal planning and big batch cooking again. I've taken the month off since we have been gone so much! 

I'm kind of looking forward to August to tell you the truth.  I like order and summer is definitely order around here! Everyday is different, everyday ends differently. I never know who will be here and when.  Yep, I'm looking forward to August!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Thoughts on Freedom

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, I look back at my past year and reflect.  I hope I have gathered a greater understanding of freedom this year with a few of the activities I have been involved in and really want to remember those lessons into the next year.

As we all here in the good old USA start our grills and drag out our fireworks and red, white and blue t-shirts, I want to remember that the freedoms we enjoy as citizens have never been 'free'!  The rights we enjoy as citizens were fought and paid for by our forefathers and mothers sacrifices.  Sacrifices that, I'm sure, were giving freely but not without pain.  Sacrifices that required giving to others, others they surely did not know or hope to know.

Looking across the nation today, I'm not struck by sacrifice and service but instead by selfishness and wanting to be served by a  government who has allowed itself to grow to big to really be 'of service' to anyone.  A government who only lives to grow larger on the backs of it's citizens.  It is egged on by a public who wants it all, thinks they deserve it all, and wants to take it away from someone else. 

Over the last year, I have had the privilege to help and serve numerous people.  No, I didn't serve in the military, no I didn't go fight a war...the last time I checked middle-aged women were not allowed in either! He! he!  I may not have done big things to ensure our freedom but I hope to think my little acts of service and sacrifice helped shape our future generations to look outside of themselves and past tomorrow. 

I think our country is at a crossroads this summer of 2011.  Do we continue to allow our leaders to herd us down a direction that is counter to what most of us Americans know is right or do we exercise our 'rights' as citizens and change the course of our destiny by not being afraid of standing up and saying 'enough!'  I pray that we stand up and say 'enough' to our leaders. 

Moving forward will require sacrifice and selfishness.  It will require us to do things that are hard and are not necessarily 'fun'.  It will require saying 'no' sometimes to those with their hands out and some of those hands will be our own! We are used to 'having it all and having it now'.  It's time to be grown-ups.  It's time to do the hard work and stop blaming everyone else for our problems.   We are the grown-ups.....It's time we act responsibly and do the right thing for ourselves, our children and our world.....

We need to be the USA!  We've never wanted to be anyone else....why stop now?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Red, HOT and Blue!

Remind me again why July fourth has to be so stinking hot each year?  I remember when I was a kid, I didn't do too many firecrackers because it was just too hot to stand out in the sun...I mean really, you can only blow up so many ant holes and then you start suffering from delirium from the heat!

We are planning to attend a friend's cookout again this year and luckily, they also have a pool.  That will at least keep the kids know when it's too hot to swim, it's hot! 

I've been charged with bringing chips and salsa again this year.  Apparently, it was such a hit last year that I'm a repeat!  I always laugh when someone asks me to bring the same thing over and over again.  I have friends that I do the same thing to because I enjoy something they make.  I guess I should only be worried when someone asks me NOT to bring what I brought last time!  We used to laugh at school and say we were going to have a carry in dinner and tell everyone what they had to bring...we would take votes of everyone's favorite dish that each person made.  It would have made an interesting dinner!

I'm usually the salad lady.  I love salads and so my salads are pretty creative...oftentimes, people think of a salad as an afterthought but I love making and trying new and creative salads.  Plus, for me, they are usually a quick and easy way to make a one dish meal and at this stage of my life, that's important!

As you celebrate our country's birth this weekend, think of all those who have given up to gain our freedom.  There are thousands serving our country even now, giving up their 'weekend off' serving in far-away lands.  I'm hoping that 2011 will be the year we begin to bring our troops home!  Personally, I'm getting tired of paying with American lives...well I won't go into that now! 

I support our troops and love the United States! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Simple Seafood suppers

It's only going to be 104 degrees farenheit today in Oklahoma so cooking has kind of stopped being a priority. I'm looking for easy, quick and cool to prepare foods for a family who's appetite is somewhat reduced due to the heat.  I have turned to seafood and salads.

So far this week, we've had a cold tortellini salmon salad and a hot pasta with shrimp and mussels.  Both were hits with the family, both took less than 30 minutes to put together and neither needed a recipe book! All amounts are for my family of one is a small eater!

Cold torellini salmon salad
3 small salmon fillets - I cooked these in the microwave with lemon pepper and then placed in the fridge to cool them
1bag of frozen tortellini - cook according to directions
1 cup mixed veggies - I used frozen, place in the colander that you are going to drain the pasta in, the hot water from the pasta will cook and steam the veggies until just tender, exactly what you need for a cold pasta dish!
Italian dressing to taste
I cooked the salmon, tortellini and veggies, tossed it all together and added the dressing and then put in the fridge for an hour.  I served this with bread and brushetta!  Easy dinner

Mussels, Shrimp and Pasta
I found a box in my seafood area of my local grocery store called Steamers in 5 mediterranean mussels in sundried tomatoes.  You just poke a hole in the plastic cover and microwave for 5 minutes.  Perfectly steamed mussels in a very good light sauce!
I put about 1/4 cup butter in a skillet and added some already cooked shrimp and then the mussels and sauce and then added cooked pasta. I served this with a green salad.
I have to say the presentation on this dish was amazing!  It looked very similar to a dish I had seen in San Fransisco and the entire meal cost less for my family than the one dish was in San Fran!

Both of these dishes were hits at my house!  It's challenging to come up with light simple meals when the weather turns this hot.....we sometimes just eat a fresh veggie meal when sweet corn is in season but this year, my daughter is in braces so I have to cut the corn off the cob for her...that makes it more difficult!  Oh well, she'll be out next year so we'll be eating sweet corn off the cob again!