Monday, September 2, 2013

What's cooking? A time saver...

School starts tomorrow!  I am a mix of feelings - the part of me that is jumping up and down screaming "Freedom sweet freedom!!!!"  And the other part freaking out that I didn't enjoy every minute of being a SAHM and having her all to myself and OMG she is growing up fast.  It's funny how it didn't feel fast WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING!

I think y'all know I have 2 grown boys in their 20s in addition to Pezza.  I raised them alone.  They went to their dad's house every summer and I swear I couldn't wait for the break - it's HARD doing it ALL all by yourself!  I worked - sometimes close to full time, while putting myself through college full time plus raised them and I was ALWAYS outnumbered - 2 of them and 1 of me.  As summer approached and they were heading to their dad's I imagined the LOADS of things I would be able to do while they were gone.  And then they would go and I would be tremendously busy...for about 4 days.  And the rest of the time I was miserable without them!  I feel like it will be a little bit of that same experience with Pezza off in school full time.  BUT one thing I did learn was to make the most of the time I had while the boys were gone instead of spending it crying (which I did for the first several years.)

Alot of things have fallen by the wayside having a young child around - I hope to be able to get back to keeping up with things a little better and have loads of plans for stuff I will be doing around the house.  I thought I'd share them once a week on my blog with all of you.  I know this is a crafty blog and I considered for a brief moment that perhaps I should start a different blog but that sounded like too much work and HEY y'all all have homes and probably families and all that too SO I am just going to share it here.  I also thought about doing it on a specific day each week but then I thought "Let's not get ahead of ourselves!"  I may OR MAY NOT get back to being organized like I once was!  A friend posted a plea on FB a few days ago about how to get meals on the table with school and school activities under way and it got me thinking about the things I do to help with dinner dilemmas.  So for today here is a post about cooking - time saving cooking to be exact because we're ALL busy!  But pre-packaged or processed foods are horrible for us to eat. 

I am from the South - South Louisiana to be specific.  And down there folks COOK, from SCRATCH.  And that is how I was raised so it is how I have always done it.  But I know it can be tough to take the time out for it.  School is starting which means school activities are also underway - for us it's cheerleading.  Others may have have sports, clubs, extra work for the PTO OR maybe you work full time and you come home tired!  It's easy to grab something pre-made.  Here is one way I make the dinner time crunch a little easier (and healthier).

In Cajun country (and most of the south) every dish starts with 3 things - chopped seasoning vegies, broth and a roux.  Lots of dishes start with the need to chop a bunch of onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic....It may vary by recipe but usually only slightly and really you can use the same mix for all of it - gravies, spaghetti sauces, meatloaf, stews.  So here is what my Momma taught me.

Gather your vegies, chopping mat and a good chef's knife or whatever you like to chop with (my mom prefers a paring knife but I like this big one from Cutco - the BEST.)  I keep mine pretty basic - A 3lb bag of onions, the whole bunch of celery (technical term???), 2 bell peppers (I use ones OTHER than green - hubby doesn't like the green ones and it makes it more colorful), and a whole thing of garlic.

Chop it all up and throw it in a big bowl and then grab a little helper if you can snag one....

and mix it all up!

I fill a gallon ziplock freezer bag, freeze it and now it's ready for me at a moments notice.  I grab a handful or two and throw it in the pot!

Now the second thing on my list - broth.  For years I have taken the shortcut and used bouillion cubes.  Occasionally I will use the cans - LOW SODIUM.  But it's not hard to make your own and probably WAY better - both taste and health - wise!  When you are doing your chopping DON"T throw away the "trash" parts of the vegies.

I have carrot tops in there (I made something last night with carrots JUST because I knew I was making a huge pot of broth today), onion tops, celery tops and bottom and the smaller cloves of garlic cut in half.

Throw them ALL into a pot on top of a whole chicken and cover with water - I have a HUGE stock pot for this.  It has about 20 cups of water in it.  I threw in some sprigs of thyme and oregano frm my garden and a few bay leaves.  Another way to do this is to have a bag you toss the vegie "trash" into and keep it in your freezer.  When you have enough you can make your broth!  This will simmer all day long and then I will cool it off, skim off the fat, put it into 2 cup tupperware containers and freeze.  As for the 3rd thing - a roux - maybe that will be another post!

There is my tips for ya - let me know what you think!  Does anyone else do this?  Do you have any good tips to share???

1 comment:

  1. You GO Marti! Great tip! I never thought of doing my broth that way because hubby takes all of my throw-aways and puts them in the compost maker. Now, if you have a tip for "no crying while cutting onions" I will listen. :-)