Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Vacation and Kids in the Kitchen

Well Hello again! I ran into an issue with the server from which I usually write my posts. It kept sending error messages for this blog and didn't allow me to post. I am on another server now so all seems to be good.

No doubt you are well into summer plans and vacations now but there are also those of you too who are working and you have your kids at home. That can at times pose the issue of what they are to eat during the day while you are at work.

Really your best bet is to make extras of your recipes the night before (or on weekends to freeze for the next week) Having leftovers in the fridge is going to be a big help because it requires nothing more than heating lunch in the microwave.

For breakfast, in order to stay out of the cold cereal rut, you can always make ahead muffins to freeze and you can additionally make extra pancakes when you make them on weekends and bag and freeze those as well and they too can be re-heated.

If your children like cottage cheese or yogurt those are also great options with a little fruit added.

The kids can also be a help in terms of the evening meal by watching things you have started in the slow cooker.

In the next post I will add a few easy, kid friendly recipes to help keep some variety in summer meals. In the meantime, I am just glad to be posting again without the error messages!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

School's Almost Out! Prepare for the Summer Ahead!

The end of the school year brings about a lot of activity for students and adults alike. There may be a
graduation coming up, awards ceremonies, and other school functions at this time. Those events that you will be proudly attending are also good times to work in a little extra parent/child bonding. They are great opportunities to take your son or daughter for a treat afterwards and have some talk time and the opportunity to tell them how proud you are of them. The treat could be anything from a stop for ice cream or yogurt to a more sophisticated dessert and coffee at a restaurant. Those special times happen quickly and any time you can make them a more memorable time to cement your relationship with your child, so much the better!

A lot of kids will find themselves home for the summer and there is LOTS that can be done not only to have them help you, but teach them how to handle home emergencies and keep their days and their brains active.

If your child will be home alone this summer, consider discussing the following:
1. answering the phone and taking messages
2. going to a friend's house or having friends over
3. safety at home (locking up when they leave, IF they can leave etc.)
4. choking, poisoning or accidental injury - have a cabinet stocked with emergency medical supplies and make sure they know a reliable neighbor they can go to in an emergency if you can't get to them quick enough
5.what to do if a fire took place or flooding from a burst pipe (how to turn off the water) what to do to prepare for severe weather etc.
6.what to do about a stranger on the phone or at the door
7.what to do if someone hassles or threatens them 

It would also be good to have a WRITTEN list of 
a. emergency contact numbers
b. chores for each child
c. and don't forget notes of encouragement, bible verses and things that will get them thinking and lift their spirits and encourage them to be happy and productive. (For example - they did a fine job on their chores, feeding the dogs etc. and there are tons of great quotes all over the internet that can spur them on to greatness.)

Another item of importance is that of what they will have to eat during the day:
You can make ahead and leave notes about what they can eat.
You can teach them some simple no-bake and microwave recipes.
(I will list some of these in a future post)

Summer does not have to be a time of boredom or kids making you pull your hair it. It can be a time of great fun, getting things done and a time of growth.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Three Favorite Homemaking Books.

Raising happy, positive families is important. Just as important is to teach them to be responsible, productive, and thrifty.

When I first got married, my homemaking experience was nothing more than taking care of my brothers while my Mom worked. My Dad had passed away when I was in 8th grade and my sister was attending high school in another town. (another story)

As a kid I had done some gardening, laundry, and kept up with my room. I also had taken sewing through 4-H.

When Dad passed away it became incumbent upon me to take care of my brothers so Mom could work.

That first summer I pretty much burned everything I tried to make. About all I could manage was Hamburger Helper. Me and brothers lost weight that summer!

Sometimes Mom worked two jobs so she didn't have much time for teaching me housekeeping skills but we managed.

Fast forward to being a newlywed and shortly afterward, a young Mom; I knew I needed help.

I ran across the homemaking books of author Beverly Nye. Her methods were geared to basic and perhaps more old fashioned homemaking but I learned a lot from her. My books became so dog-eared and stained that I wound up years later buying additional copies of each book.

These are three of Beverly Nye's books:
Everyone's a Homemaker - recipes, canning, food storage, household hints and cleaning helps.

A Family Raised on Sunshine - mostly a cookbook but has great advice on economical buying and cooking and on families in general.

A Family Raised on Rainbows - homemaking, crafts, gardening

I would personally recommend all three books, which can be bought used on Amazon and very cheaply I might add.

In closing, I would say that I found these books very useful especially in terms of saving money because although sometimes you just want to make quick meals, they do cost more and knowing how to cook from scratch will save you lots of dollars and Beverly's miscellaneous homemaking tips were also very valuable to me.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cranberry Ham - Fast, Easy and cheaper than Beef

I feel a trend coming on. The past couple weeks has really been busy and by the time I get home from work, my first thought is, "Supper again? Didn't I just do that last night?" With that in mind I am going to do some regular posts that will include quick and easy meals

You know I really don't mind cooking if I have the time and am not tired, so my cookbook is filled, as I am sure yours is, with meals that you love but they take a little time and also your favorite stand by, throw together type meals. 

Some of the meals I will be posting will be found recipes, that though I have not tried, they sound like good options and be ones I plan to try soon, others will be my tried and true favorites.

This recipe is one I tried and though a good one, I think is best used with regular ham slices and not "ham steak" like they sell in the store, which is what I have done in the past. 

Pork is now cheaper than beef and it's a good idea to add more pork recipes to your cookbook. The typical canned cranberry sauce is pretty well loaded with sugar but if you don't have a big amount, I don't see it as a big deal. Alternatively on those not so tired days you can make and can your own cranberry sauce and control the amount of sugar you use. 

Cranberry Ham

2 Slices (precooked) Ham (each slice 2 inches thick)
1 cup whole cranberry sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
¼ tsp cloves

Place ham in greased casserole dish. Spoon cranberry sauce evenly over ham. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cloves. Bake covered. Precooked ham I would cook about 20 -30 minutes at 350*F. Cut slices in half to make 4 servings. Serves 4
**Good side dishes would be rice which can also be baked at same time, and steamed broccoli.
To bake rice: 1 cup white rice, 3 cups water, tsp salt, tsp butter (if desired). Spray baking pan (9x12 cake pan) with cooking spray and add rice, water and salt. Cook till tender, about 15-20 minutes. 
Next post - continuing along the Homemaking/Cooking theme will be a review of a couple favorite homemaking books that helped me get through my early homemaking years. I'll include links on where to get them. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Growing Up Frugal

Growing up in a large family, my mom was always the one who was in charge of keeping expenses under control. 

Mom was fortunate in that she was able to work as bookkeeper for Southwestern Motor Transport and do her work from the house. She had an office set up in a corner of hers and Dad's bedroom where she processed the billing and took calls and whatever else was required of the job. 

I still remember standing on her office chair and punching the keys of that old adding machine and pulling the handle of it forward to make it work. It was a great memory for me, but she probably would have just as soon we left it alone. She was good about giving us old misprinted freight bills though and letting us play office!

Working at home with four kids can be a challenge but she did that and she kept house and kept up the garden as well.

One of the many ways Mom would economize in the area of feeding our family of 6 was that she always had a pot of cabbage cooked and as part of lunch and dinner we were expected to eat a bowl of cabbage before eating the rest of our meal. Why? Cabbage was cheap and cabbage would help fill us up so we didn't eat so much of the main dish. 

Yeah sure I got tired of eating cabbage but it was also just part of growing up in my household and now that I have learned that cabbage can help prevent certain diseases, I am glad I learned to eat it. 

Mom also would portion out our food and we always had enough even though it might not have been as much as we would have liked. 

The recipe below is for a family of 6. This was one of Mom's recipe mainstays and I still make it exactly the way she did years ago.

Chicken and Rice
(Pernia Dennis)

1 fryer, cut up
1 pkg. onion soup mix
salt, pepper
3 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups white rice

Place fryer pieces and rice in 3 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add soup mix and water. Then bake  1 ½ hours at 375*F
**note if you want to use brown rice you will need to pre-cook it to be at least half done before mixing for this recipe. Brown rice takes longer to cook. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Everybody's A Homemaker

One thing my years as a stay-at-home Mom did for me is to help me to learn to be frugal and resourceful and it helped me to understand the magnitude of the job and responsibilities and the influence that a homemaker really holds.

Being a homemaker does not mean just keeping a clean house. A homemaker does cook and clean (with help from other family members!), but there is a lot more to making a home. A homemaker will strive to make their home an inviting place with joy and laughter, which is really one of our most important responsibilities.

To make a house a home, we must also be counselors, psychiatrists, organizers, decorators, and home economists especially if we are to manage a family on one income.

I stayed home with my children until they reached Junior High. Yes, it meant I had to really pinch pennies but in the process, I learned a lot of  skills I had not learned growing up. The rewards of my efforts were evident in my family and that was payment enough for me.

I was not organized by nature and I really was not that great of a cook but I did learn.

A couple of my sources for learning how to be a homemaker were books by author Beverly Nye. My well worn copies of "A Family Raised on Rainbows" and "A Family Raised on Sunshine" did as much to help me as anything.

Now days we have the Internet with a world of recipes, children's activities, organizing and financial advice and much more. There is a lot to learn but it is out there, both on the Internet and the Library.

I don't think we are ever "done" with learning skills and we all can use a little help in making our homes our sanctuaries.

I am going to make a concentrated effort to publish links and sources on this blog because children or not, married or not, or whether you are male or female, in the words of Beverly Nye... "Everybody's a Homemaker."