Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Announcing The Winner of The Gift Card................................................

Drum Roll Please!

The Winner is:

Old Dominion Heather

Heather's name was selected at random.

HEATHER:  Congratulations!  Please email me at majr0328@aol.com so I can arrange for the Gift Card to find its way to you.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and to comment.  MARIANN

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Are You Doing to Prepare for Tough Times Ahead? ($50. GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!)


I probably communicate with the people on my homeschool board more than any other group........IRL or cyber.  Today I spotted a thread that pulled me right in:

Ok, so I am finally absolutely convinced Americans are going to face VERY rough times

and I began to read it because DH had been talking about the same thing the other night at dinner.  I paid attention to him for a little while but then realized I had messed up the pick up times for lacrosse practice and I flew out the door.

Coupled with the fact that we have not had tv broadcasted into our house in a year (see previous post), I am totally clueless to some extent about these coming TOUGH TIMES.  I read the thread cited above, I jotted down the title of a book recommended by an individual on the board for whom I have the utmost respect, asked some questions, and now am asking here:


Honestly, I think I personally will have to take it a little bit further than 'maybe I won't buy a new dress to wear to Brunch on Sunday.'


I intend to read every single comment -- I am going to somehow plan a giveaway around this -- I will announce those details later -- perhaps a $50. American Express Gift Card (or a card of the Winner's choosing) -- that would buy a fair amount of canned goods - and no, I am not being snarky.

I am going to give away a $50. Gift Card to a randomly selected individual who comments legitimately
(SPAM will not be considered)


I will announce winner on the blog on Tuesday night, February 22, 2011 and provide contact instructions for them.  Thanks and good luck!

And, just in case you are as clueless about this as I was, here are some links that you may find helpful:

The Backyard Homestead and Country Wisdom and Know How

The link to Amazon is a publication recommended by someone whose opinion I highly respect.

Monday, February 14, 2011


WHAT???????    #$^%%$   And, yes, it has felt like that sometimes!  We moved home from the ESH one year ago today, and I did not get tv service:  internet, yes 0, landline phone, yes........but I stood my ground and we do not have tv.

The kids watch stuff that I preview on netflix.  We do redbox and bb. 

It has not been without its challenges, but, all in all, it has been good for our family.  Ds10 has what can be called 'screen addicition' so there are no electronic games and no tv now -- it has been a positive change for him -- he is reading books now (heretofore, 'reading' was only something that he did for school).  We do play board games, we do more read alouds, all three kids knit (which they like to do when we read-aloud), we bake together, we make craft stuff for just about every goofy little holiday that comes along.

This is not to say that there are nights when I would love to stare at the screen and just veg............but I can do that with or without cable/satellite/FIOS. 0

I can watch pretty much what I used to watch (not much) on my computer, and dh is able to get a fair number of football games and baseball online.

There are folks at co-op who look at us like we are from another planet if the kids mention that we don't have tv service (we have a gorgeous flat screen tv - just  no tv service) and there are families who nod in agreement that they do not have tv service either.

For us, this has been a good thing.  I think that dh is amazed that HE made it for one year!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fast Food At Our House.................................

Our day is going to resemble Mr. Toad's Wild Road today!  We have places to go and people to see.  It is Odyssey of the Mind Season, and all three kids are on teams.  Sous Chef 11 has volunteer work so I am going to get dinner ready while she is there.


This is Fast Food at our house.  I am cooking at 11:00am as the kids and I will be out until dinnertime.

Pasta and Ground Beef!  Everyone loves it.  I use jar sauce -- my Aunt Tess doesn't think I use jar sauce, but I do.  She's been told that I use jar sauce, but she insists that I don't.  OK!  Ingredients will be listed at the end of the photos, but they are all here.

We love good quality pasta.  I bought this pasta at MOM's in Alexandria.  MOM's stands for 'My Organic Market.'  My family loves cool-shaped pasta, and a shape like this works well with the ground beef. 

This is the jar sauce that Aunt Tess says I don't use.  I typically buy Wegman's Organic, or Whole Foods Organic or something organic at MOM's.

One pound of ground beef.  We buy our meats from South Mountain Creamery in Maryland.  The link will be found below.  SMC delivers our milk (in glass bottles) and meats and other goodies once a week.  The meat is hormone-free, antibiotic-free and the cows are grass-fed.  If I forget to order meat from 'the farm,' I will buy organic at Wegman's.

I am only going to use a tsp of tomato paste in the ground beef.  And, we are going to be adding grated cheese.

The ground beef has been defrosted and is ready to be browned.  A hint here:  remember the yellow rice and black bean recipe?  If you wanted to add ground beef, this is the method I use to brown it.

I have a different sous chef today, btw.

Pour 2 teaspoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (these olives have never even seen a man) in your fry pan.  We use a basting brush to coat the pan so we don't use more oil than we need.

The ground beef goes in, the heat is on medium to begin.  I slice the square of ground beef lengthwise......

I slice it crosswise, and with the spatula, I break it up some more and make sure it covers the pan evenly so it browns evenly.

Like this.

I continue to use the spatula to break it up and get the uncooked beef to the bottom of the fry pan.

Today's sous chef, Miss Eenie Weenie, grates cheese into a little dish we will put on the table at dinner.  Watch your knuckles!

The beef is nicely browned.  If you were going to use it with the yellow rice dish, it would be perfect right now.  If you are going to proceed with the Pasta and Ground Beef, read on.

I add the sauce.  This is about 2/3 of a jar.

I get every last drop from the jar.

That looks good.

I stir the sauce into the browned beef thoroughly.

My sous chef, Miss Eenie Weenie, grates cheese into the ground beef and sauce.

The cheese, beef and sauce before stirring in the cheese.

Ground beef, sauce and cheese nicely mixed.

I add a half teaspoon to one teaspoon of tomato paste just to thicken things and give it a hint of sweetness.

And, the tomato paste goes in.......

Stir.  Cover.  Let sit and only slightly simmer at the lowest heat setting possible.  Now it's time to 'get the pot on' for the pasta.

I add a teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the pasta water right when I turn on the heat.  And, I have added a teaspoon of salt as well.

When the water comes to a full, rolling boil, we add the pasta........

We are using a full pound of pasta.  Lower the heat to medium-high, and stir.

Notice that none of your pasta is floating.......that's because it isn't cooked.  When the pasta is cooked, it will float.

Like this.

Drain into your colander.

Don't get burned.  The steam is hot!

Give those last few a little nudge.

Give it a stir so the water is drained -- this shape might have some water 'inside' so give it a stir.

The pasta goes back into the pot that we used to cook it in.

That's why I call this 'fast food' -- cooking and clean up are a snap!

Add the ground beef and sauce to the cooked pasta.

All of it goes in.  And the fry pan is HEAVY!

All in.

Almost finished.  Stir everything till thoroughly mixed.


And stir.
AND, that is why we call it FAST FOOD!  Did I say that already?  Start to clean-up: 25 minutes.....and I was taking photos!

OOPS!  I'm dropping hints to DH for Valentine's Day, hence, the PANDORA book.  I'm leaving this photo in so he sees it.

I know it's only 11:30am, but I get flatware and dinnerware out on the table so one of the kids can get the table set as soon as we walk in the door.
Our Pasta and Ground Beef are going to sit in here till it is time to warm it in the oven.

It's here......waiting......waiting........waiting........................
The kids and I are out the door.  We will stop at Wegman's on our way home for a loaf of fresh-baked bread and a salad to go with our pasta and ground beef. 

Here is what you need:

Pound of Ground Beef
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Grated Cheese or Cheese for Grating
A Pound of Pasta
Jar of Pasta Sauce
One teaspoon of Tomato Paste

Serve with a nice loaf of Italian bread (we are having Rosemary Loaf with Olive Oil and Sea Salt from Wegman's) and a Caesar salad!  Who says you can't get a great dinner on the table just because you've been in the car most of the day!