Saturday, January 26, 2013

Clawing My Way Back Onto the Menu-planning Bandwagon

Sadly, it's true ... I sometimes (read: more often than not during the last three years) fall off the menu-planning bandwagon. Don't get me wrong. I want to plan ahead. I need to plan ahead. Life is just too insane and too expensive otherwise. But, sometimes insanity wins ...

I've decided that perhaps it's time for baby steps. You do realize that even if I'm only holding onto said bandwagon with the tips of my fingernails, it still counts, right? We will not mention the fact that this means the rest of my body is flailing and jouncing behind the cart, hitting every bump, as we careen wildly down the road of life. Chalk it up to inexpensive entertainment for anyone bothering to watch.

I wish I could tell you that I went out today, picked up whatever was needed to last the next two weeks, and smiled cheerfully at the menu plan that I'd lovingly and carefully crafted. But, that would be lying ...

Instead, I packed one crock pot full of apples, sprinkled them with some sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, dashed them with some lemon juice and a bit of water. When life hands you lemons ... oh, wait ... Wrong fruit. At any rate, I have a lovely batch of homemade applesauce sitting in my fridge. It made a delicious addition to dinner, and it will make some scrumptious applesauce cookies down the road.

I filled another crock pot with a mixture of dried pinto beans and dried black beans. After adding some spices, a ham shank, a splash or two of worcestershire and cholula sauces, and some water, they were ready to cook all day as well.

Now that dinner is over, I have the remainder of a large batch of beans in my fridge. Sometime in the next few days, I'll mash them, add in some spices -- perhaps cumin and chili powder -- and a can of green chiles. Of course, this means I need to make up a batch of tortillas, but then I'll bake some burritos to freeze for busy day meals or nights when the kids are gone to their dad's house.
Since I had some sweet potatoes screaming at me that I'd best use them immediately, I decided that baked sweet potatoes were the order of the day. Hmm ... lunch?

 L loves sweet potatoes mashed with butter and brown sugar. I'm kind of a salt and pepper kind of gal. M has selective "I don't like sweet potatoes"itis. It was visiting today.
Dinner was a pretty simple affair. Beans and applesauce from the crock pot, of course ... but we needed a bread of sorts. Beans are not to be eaten without some form of biscuit or cornbread, you know. A-ha! Sweet potatoes to the rescue ...
I found a recipe for sweet potato biscuits. (You can see it here: Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits) Hers are prettier than mine. But, mine did taste simply delightful. The girls loved them. (In spite of the sweet potato-itis.) The texture was fantastic. Even if they were sort of, well ... squashy in appearance. I think it might have been because I used skim milk instead of whole. Although it might be because my sweet potatoes had been in the fridge and were cold. Then again, it may have been because my sweet potatoes had more excess liquid in them. (That's what happens when you chill them ... ) Might have to play with that one a bit. At any rate, they were still soft, and fluffy, and oh, so yummy! L was thrilled. "MOM! Do you realize that because you added mashed sweet potatoes, we are eating mashed sweet potatoes? WITH OUR HANDS?!?" By the way, should you want to try this delicious recipe, it doesn't state when to add the honey. I just mixed it with the potatoes and milk. Hmm ... maybe that's my problem ...
It may not have been the most amazing meal in the world, but it was warm and filling and full of soul-satisfying comfort foods. The kids went to bed with full bellies and content taste buds. I'm feeling pretty good since it's a step toward being better prepared for the craziness that somehow, even after all this time, surprises me every single day. Hopefully, sooner than later, I'll get there. In the meantime, enjoy the flailing feet!

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