January 5, 2009

January 5th, 2009

Posted in cleaning, daily to do lists tagged , , , , , at 10:04 am by allisonwonder

Yeah, yesterday wasn’t so productive, but you know what? That’s OK. I was tired, the boys were tired and cranky… at least we managed to get out to buy apple juice, and I didn’t give in to the temptation to get McDonald’s for lunch or supper. I made fettuccine with tomato sauce and shrimp last night- not bad.

I also got birthday cards made for a few more February family birthdays. I enjoy playing with my paper, ribbons, beads and glue sticks, but it’s not easy to do it unless the boyzos are in bed- otherwise I have curious little hands all over my stuff. It’s also a hassle to go downstairs, pick out whatever I think I’ll want to use (I don’t work from patterns or instructions), toss it all in a box, and bring it upstairs… and then haul it all back down when I’m done. This is one of the reasons Ike and Simon were going to be sharing a bedroom- AJ and I need a room for our stuff. The desk, his toys, maybe even the movies… my card-making stuff. I’m working on an area in the basement where I can work, but we’re not down there much right now.

There’s lots to do again today:

Today’s To Do:

Kitchen

dishes (as needed)

sweep

wipe countertops and sink

stains, spills and smudges


Bathroom

wipe sink and shower after use

hang up towels

put bath toys away

wipe counter and floor as needed


Living Room/ Dining Room

sweep floors, spot clean messes

tidy floor and flat surfaces

take baskets to appropriate rooms

Bedrooms

make beds

laundry in hampers


Basement

litter box- quick scoop

food and water for cats

 

Other:

laundry

groceries

activity planning for this week (at least one planned activity for the boys per day)

 

 

January 4, 2009

January 4, 2009

Posted in entertaining, food tagged , , , , , at 11:32 am by allisonwonder

I’m having such a hard time getting used to writing/ typing “2009” instead of “2008”. It always takes me a while to adjust- good thing I don’t write a lot of cheques…

Wehad our company over for supper last night, and (if I may say so), the food was great.  We had Greek-Style Lemon Roast Chicken (recipe courtesy of Kraft Kitchens- bless them!) with rice, spinach “salad” (OK, fresh spinach leaves with dressing, but so good) and home-made bread. It was tasty, but I was mainly pleased with the timing of everything. I never know exactly when AJ will be home from work- if he’s supposed to be done at 5:00, he could be home any time between 5 and 6:15 (and he’d better call if he’s going to be later than that!). The guys came in at 5:55, and supper was ready at 6:10- no cold food last night. Also, I managed to have everything ready at the same time, which has always been a challenge for me. Having a consistent oven makes a big difference- when you know how long the chicken’s going to take to cook, it’s a lot easier to figure out when the rice needs to go on. Hooray for properly-functioning appliances!

I DO need a meat thermometer, though- that would make things easier. I used to have one, but it didn’t last long- I don’t even know how I killed it.

OH- and I was a good girl and did whatever dishes I could while I was working, so doing the plates and pots and stuff afterward wasn’t TOO bad.I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: it’s a lot easier to get the dishes done when there’s a nice window to look out while you’re doing them, rather than a blank wall. Been there, done thet (twice, actually).

Was the house perfect? Nope. Did P. care? Definitely not.

As an afterthought, I decided to have a look at what Ms. Lillian Eichler of “The New Book of Etiquette” had to say on the subject. Apparently people didn’t have just one or two people over for meals in the ’20s or the ’30s- just dinner parties, luncheons, and tea, any of which could be formal or informal, each with its own rules. The closest thing I found was actually the “Sunday-Night Supper.”    “As a rule there is no maid service, the hostess taking this opportunity to show what she can do in the way of cooking and serving…with modern electrical appliances to help her, the hostess whould be able to entertain eight to ten friends at Sunday-night supper very easily, without scrambling from kitchen to dining room.” Lil, I don’t have ROOM for eight to ten friends, and I get to show off my cooking and serving skills (such as they may be) every damn night. At least the cooking didn’t have to be too fancy- “creamed chicken on toast is an excellent supper dish that can be prepared on a table grill… Some hostesses like to serve waffles for Sunday-night supper…”

I get the idea that maybe this book was written for a class of people I just don’t belong to- or were things just that different back then*? I certainly don’t know anyone who would consider cooking for 8-10 friends a novelty, what with the maid having the night off and all.

*Speaking of “back then,” here’s an interesting blog/ project I’ve just started reading: My Decade Year follows the adventures of a modern woman as she spends 100 days living as a ’50s housewife, 100 days in the 60s, 100 in the 70s and 65 days in the 80s.  It’s been interesting so far…

December 4, 2008

YARR, This Chicken Be Salty, Says I

Posted in food tagged , , , at 3:38 pm by allisonwonder

Last night’s supper was almost completely successful. I’d been planning to make quiche, until AJ informed me that he doesn’t like quiche. I’m still going to make it another night (because Simon will actually eat “egg pie”), but I changed our plan for yesterday to baked chicken, etc.

The “etc.” would normally involve either potatoes (boiled or mashed) or rice, both of which require a stovetop, which I still don’t have. Instead, I made cornbread muffins in the toaster oven, using this recipe from Home Ec 101. The baked chicken would normally be Shake n’ Baked, but a walk down to the grocery store left us S&B-less (though I did get a nice raspberry vinegarette for the spinach salad). I coated the chicken in some flour plus whatever herbs I had in the cupboard and stuck it in the fridge while the cornbread wsas cooking.

The cornbread was good, though it got a little too brown on top. The chicken, however, met with disaster  while I was busy making the muffins. I had just finished pouring the batter into the muffin tray (since I don’t have a cake pan) when I turned around…

…and saw Simon with the fridge door open, dumping a box of table salt on the chicken. The nicely seasoned chicken breasts I’d prepared looked like the foothills of tiny ski slopes, covered in mountains of salt. “SIMON! No, no, no, no, no!” was all I could think of to say as I grabbed the chicken and tried to brush as much of the salt off as I could. Simon didn’t see anything wrong with his additional seasoning. “I help mommy koonkin’? Mommy koonkin de chinken?” he asked, all wide-eyed innocence.

It’s a damn good thing he’s cute- especially after he got up at 3:15 in the morning. AAARGH. When Andre came home, I said, “I’ve always wondered why hamsters sometimes eat their babies. Today, I think I found out the answer…”

We survived. I cooked the chicken, which ranged from “very good” (AJ’s piece) to “not worth finishing” (mine) to “Dear GOD, that’s salty!” (Simon’s un-touched meal). The cornbread was great, though, and AJ surprised me by actually eating his spinach. Hooray!

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Good news! Sears just called, and the range is ready to be picked up. Christmas baking, here we come!

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Today’s To Do:

-walk to post office and mail Christmas cards

-downstairs play time with boys (and try to get through some boxes while we’re down there)

-sweep and vacuum… probably several times, like most days

-menu planning for next week

-ironing

November 26, 2008

Come inside, have a nice cuppa tea!

Posted in food tagged , , at 1:15 pm by allisonwonder

I needed a good cup of tea this morning. Not just a cup of tea- a good cup of tea. There’s a difference. If I’m out and about and I want a good one, I go to Tim Horton’s for a Steeped Tea (which I initially thought was just a marketing thing- isn’t all tea steeped?- but it really is better). Since I wasn’t going anywhere this morning, I had to make my own pot.

Here’s how I do it when I need good tea; please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!

– Start with the right pot. I like a heavy-ish ceramic pot, which holds heat nicely, but right now I’ve got a glass one. This one’s nice because it has an infuser for loose teas, but I don’t have any of those at the moment.

– The water you use is surprisingly important. It took me a few days at this house before I figured out that my tea tasted  terrible because of the tap water. It’s safe to drink, but it doesn’t taste great. I’m using filtered water now, and it’s making a huge difference. Water temperature is important, too, at both ends of the kettle. The water should be cold (or at least not hot) going into the kettle, and at a rolling boil coming out*. Why cold water? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because hot water out of the tap carries more foreign particles from the pipes… just take my word for it, OK?

– Obviously your choice of tea is very important, and totally up to you. Loose teas steep beautifully, if you have an infuser and don’t mind measuring. If I’m using tea bags (as I was this morning), it has to be Tetley Orange Pekoe for me. Don’t like Red Rose or Mother whatserface’s. That’s just personal preference. You generally get what you pay for with tea, though, and I’ve never found a good generic one.

– keep the pot warm while your tea is steeping. This is what tea cozies are for**- they’re not just for lookin’ all cute and grandma’s-kitcheny. I don’t have one, so I wrap a dish towel around the pot and drape another one over the top. This keeps the heat in the pot, soing its job, instead of escaping out into the air. Keep the pot warm after you’ve poured your first cup, too- re-heated tea isn’t good.

-Take the bags out when your tea is as strong as you like it- if you leave them in, they’ll continue steeping, and the tea will get too strong.

– as for what you put in your tea, that’s up to you. Put your milk and sugar (if that’s what you’re using) in the cup before you pour the tea; again, I have no idea why this makes a difference, but I think it does.

So there you have it- my technique for a great pot of tea. Not every pot has to be great, of course, but it sure is nice when your 3-year old has you up at 5:40 a.m…. again…

 

* This applies to black teas, like Orange Pekoe; green tea needs water that’s a little cooler, or it’ll burn and not taste as good as it should.

**as for toilet paper cozies, like the crocheted ones you can get at church bazaars… I have no idea what thet’s for, unless people are just embarrassed about the fact that they need toilet paper.