How to Get Three Meals Out of One Chicken

I have a lot of eaters in my house. Many hungry mouths follow me around all day long making this odd noise. “I’m hungry! I’m hungry!” they whine. It costs a lot to get them to stop making that noise, but I have stumbled upon some strategies and I thought I would share my favorite.

I can make one chicken feed this large family for three nights. How? Like this:

Night One – Roast Chicken with Garlic Baked Potatoes.
Roast the entire chicken with  seven garlic bulbs. Cut the top 1/3 of the garlic bulbs off and sit them in the pan (I use my deep cast iron skillet with a lid) around the chicken. Then drizzle olive oil and salt over all, being sure to cover the garlic well. Bake at 350 degrees until done (one to one and half hours). At the same time, bake potatoes. To serve, cut chicken breasts into medium sized portions for bigger eaters and give the wings to the littles. Squeeze one entire bulb of garlic over each opened baked potato. Drizzle drippings from the pan over potato and chicken. After dinner, remove remaining meat from carcass and put in the fridge. Now make broth with the carcass.

Chicken Broth Recipe
Place chicken carcass, one onion, two carrots and two celery stalks into stock pot and add enough water to fully cover. Place over high heat until boiling; lower heat and simmer until ready to use. (A good crock pot is better than my method, but mine doesn’t simmer well enough.)

Night Two – Shredded chicken in something
On the second night, use the remaining meat (thighs and drumsticks) in some kind of chicken casserole or stir fry. My favorite choices are chicken pot pie or chicken tacos.

Night Three – Soup
Now that your broth has been cooking for about two days, it has sucked out all the yummy nutrients that the chicken carcass had hidden in its bones, grissle and skin (discard veggies and chicken remains – we just want the liquid). Time to make soup. Our favorite is my totally made up tomato soup recipe:

Tomato Soup Recipe
Grate two carrots; dice two celery stalks and an onion; saute veggies in olive oil in a good size sauce pan.
When veggies are tender, add a liberal amount of thyme, basil, and oregano; saute a little longer.
Add broth and two cans tomato sauce. (depending on how much broth there is, I may add enough water to make a enough soup for my whole crew – total needed for us is about about 10 cups of soup) Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer a little while.
Serve with biscuits or grilled cheese sandwiches or oyster crackers or whatever you have on hand.

In this way, I am able to feed seven hungry people three dinners with one chicken.
Do you have any strategies for making your grocery dollar stretch? Do share it!

Building a Strong Family

On Saturday we started a new family habit. We turned off all the electronic devices and spent the day together.

We played Legos together. I declared a challenge to everyone to build a self portrait. I totally got the giggles when my self portrait turned out with crazy eyes, wild green hair, and a crooked smile. We built forts and space craft, we built cars and weaponry. We built a great memory.

We colored. I put a pile of graph paper on the table next to the box of crayons and set the creativity loose. We had wild scribbles, maps of imaginary lands, and fair isle patterns (can you guess which one was mine?). We sang while we colored – we sang patriotic songs like “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner”, and then we sang old hymns and like “Amazing Grace” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, and we sang fun kids songs like “Ho Ho Ho Hosanna” and “Jesus Loves Me”. We created a memory.

We had some down time. The little ones went down for a nap and everyone did something quiet. There was reading and knitting and writing going on. The Man got a little nap in. There was a nice, quiet lull in our day.

Then we had to eat something so The Munchkin, The Princess, and The Dancing Queen helped me make an early dinner – chopping, mixing, pouring, grating… We all ate a delicious meal. Then the other half of the family (The Man, The Bookworm, and The Boy) cleaned up the kitchen.

For the rest of the evening we played games. Mouse Trap, Bananagrams, Mancala, and Don’t Spill the Beans. We laughed and hollered. We hooted and cheered. We had so much fun. We made some great memories.

Being a homeschool mom, I spend everyday with my kids. We do a lot of stuff together, too. We do our school and our chores, we eat every meal at the kitchen table, we go everywhere – always together. But I often forget to enjoy our time together. I get absorbed in getting this done, or getting through this day, or making this goal. I easily get distracted by Facebook or writing this blog or surfing Ravelry or checking my email. I don’t always have fun with my kids. I don’t always enjoy being together. So this was an excellent exercise in slowing down and making each moment of the day count.

We didn’t spend any money. We didn’t go anywhere. We didn’t do anything that we don’t already do all the time. We just did it together. A deliberate family day. An excellent new family tradition.

So, don’t look for me online on Saturday. I will be busy making memories with my family.

Look At What I Made!

Yarn! Real yarn!

Three things about my first spinning experience.

1. Park and draft is a great way to learn. There is no way that I could have spun this suspended just yet. I am all thumbs and the spindle keeps back spinning and the yarn keeps breaking and the spindle keeps falling on the ground…. But, by the end of this project I was pretty good at drafting, so I have hope.

2. Spinning is a whole new world! New terms, new tools, new techniques. I am learning so much I think my brain may explode. As a knitter I didn’t really care about the actual structure of the yarn (amount of twist, breed of sheep, etc…) as long as the color was pretty and it felt soft and looked awesome and had that special X-factor that gives yarn irresistibility. But, I am interested to see how all this understanding will change the way I shop for yarn in the future.

3. I have hardly knit a thing since the spindle entered my life. Interesting, huh?

I have used up all the roving that I was given and am now left to my knitting until the mailman brings me more. I hope to get a bunch of knitting done before then because when it comes, I don’t think I will feel like knitting much. I just want to spin all day long.

Tuesdays in the Kitchen – Biscuits

I know the secret to easy, perfect biscuits. A cheese grater.

I have tried many things to get that flaky, moist biscuit that every great cook aspires to create. (Okay, maybe that was overstated, but it does make your mouth water, doesn’t it?) Pastry blenders in various shapes and materials, different kinds of fats, whole wheat vs. white wheat, …. you get the picture. After churning out millions of little white hockey pucks, I figured it out. Want the recipe? I start with my Grandma’s recipe and throw in my own little shortcuts and tips. Here you go.

A biscuit tutorial with help from The Munchkin

Grandma Hovie’s Biscuits
makes about 18

4 cups white flour
8 tsp baking powder
6 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In large bowl, mix dry ingredients together; using a cheese grater, shred the butter onto a piece of wax paper.

Add cold grated butter; break up butter bits with fork (I use my fingers).

It should look like this –

Mix eggs and milk together and add them to the butter/flour mixture.

Stir to blend; turn onto lightly floured surface and knead about ten times – just to create a nice ball. Don’t handle it too much because you want it to stay nice and cold.

Pat out to about 1/2″ thick and fold in half, then pat out to about 3/4″. (I skip the rolling pin)

Cut out and place biscuits on cookie sheet about 1″ apart.

My grandma says that you shouldn’t roll them out more than twice, so the last two are just the cut offs all squished together by hand.

Bake at 450 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Mmmm, perfection. Add a little Bree and an egg over-easy and Voila! A yummy way to start the day.

 

Like I Needed Another Hobby

Look at what I am learning how to do:

I have been resisting the desire to learn to spin for years. I wanted to learn so much in knitting and to perfect my art. And, while I wouldn’t say that I have attained perfection in my knitting, I have learned all the techniques that I am interested in so far. Knitting presents fewer challenges for me than it did three years ago, and so I figured it was time to branch out.

I ordered this inexpensive drop spindle (from this Etsy shop) and a friend gave me some Knit Picks roving and I watched some YouTube videos (the most helpful being this one) and read every post in this Ravelry group and away I went.

Now I make yarn. It’s not great yarn, yet. But I am loving the challenge.

Not What I Planned to Write

So, it was about this time that I had planned to write about a finished sweater for The Princess.

A red hooded coat with a cabled yoke. An adorable squishy masterpiece. (This one, to be precise)

The Princess and I poured over patterns on Ravelry looking for the perfect sweater to make with the yarn I purchased from Craftsy.com, a red Bollicine Baby Night. Once it was picked out, she assumed that she would have a sweater in minutes and even told someone not 45 minutes later, “Mama is almost done making my new, red coat!”

I knit the yoke. She said, “Is is almost done?”

I picked up the stitches and knit the body. She said, “Have you finished my red coat, yet?”

I bound off along the bottom edge and held it up. Hmmm. Looks small. She said, “Can I wear it now? I don’t need sleeves.”

I shrugged off the doubt and picked up the stitches for the edging/button band. She said, “When can I try it on?”

I bound off the edging and held it up. Yup. Definitely small. She said, “Let’s see if it fits me.”

It doesn’t.

It doesn’t really even fit The Munchkin who is signifigantly smaller. (For those of you who are wondering – No, I did not make a gauge swatch. Yes, I regret not making a gauge swatch. No, I did not learn my lesson and I will probably skip the gauge swatch next time, too.)

Now, the really sad part of this sad, sad tale is that, while I know that I could just pull it out and make a bigger size, I also know that I have no where near enough yarn to do so.

On the flip side, I got to go yarn shopping – and that spin worked on the four year old.

“No, honey, it doesn’t fit. Let’s pick out a new color together and I will make a bigger one for you.”

She chose blue.

Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort Navy Odd Weight

So, instead of writing a post about a finished red coat for The Princess, I am writing a post about casting on a blue coat for The Princess.

Maybe I should do a gauge swatch first …

Experience (Or, Choosing What to Knit)

In the year 2010, I knit a bunch of sweaters for myself.

Now that I have had a chance to wear these sweaters, I have learned something about myself.

What I want to knit isn’t always going to turn into what I want to wear. I want to knit interesting knits with colorwork or lace panels or shaping or something. I want to wear simple, streamlined sweaters that don’t call attention to *ahem* certain places.

So, in the sweaters that I knit, I have found certain features of note that I will need to remember when choosing my next knitting project for me. I thought I would break it down for you (and for me. Next time I want to knit a short, all-over lace, boxy cardigan I will come back and read this again).

Exhibit A – The Pink Sweater

Don’t let the photo fool you – it didn’t fit at all.

Frequency of use – I wore it once or twice and never out of the house.
Features I like – color
Features I don’t like – knit in bulky yarn (makes me look fat), oversized (makes me look fat), collar is goofy (my mistake – I veered off pattern)

Bottom line – threw it away in disgust (after felting it in hopes of turning it into a kids coat)

What I learned – oversized bulky sweaters, no matter how fun a quick knit, are not going to look good on this body. Ever.

Exhibit B – Chai

apparently, I was in a headless woman phase in my photography during this sweater knitting marathon….

Frequency of use – fairly often, expecially when dressing up
Features I like – softness, color, wood buttons, 3/4 length sleeve, round yoke, overall fit
Features I don’t like – the yarn pills so horribly that I take a sweater stone to it every time I wear it, the neck is a little too wide

Bottom line – despite the pilling this is a definite keeper

What I learned – one ply merino, while super soft, isn’t fun to maintain  & the more boring the knit, the more I will wear the product

Exhibit C – I called it Mermaid

Frequency of use – ALL THE TIME
Features I like – washable, length of body, color
Features I don’t like – three buttons at the top, weird collar

Bottom line – this is my workhorse sweater and my kids will probably remember this as being the only thing I ever wore.

What I learned – washable wool will get worn more often because I’m not afraid of ruining it & either leave it with no buttons, or put buttons all the way down. Three buttons at the throat are no good for me.

Exhibit D – Labyrinth

I never did take a good picture of this one….

Frequency of use – only special occasions
Features I like – softness of the silk/merino blend, colors, sleeve shape, neckline
Features I don’t like – too short in the body

Bottom line – I save this for special occasions, and then spend the whole time wearing it wishing I had made it longer.

What I learned – I have a long torso so maybe I should knit like it.

Exhibit E – Wispy

I never got a good picture of this one, either. Darn – it doesn’t look that good anymore….

Frequency of use – very often
Features I like – it is small and lightweight, color, perfect for not quite cold kind of days
Features I don’t like – the sleeves shorten up with wear and are now a weird length, frames my largish front thus actentuating it.

Bottom line – this is my go to sweater on cool days, but the sleeves bug me and I feel fat in it.

What I learned – just because I knit the sweater in the picture, doesn’t mean it will look like that on me. And also, Malabrigo Lace is awesome, but shrinks up a little with wear, so knit sleeves longer next time.

Exhibit F – February Lady

Okay, I was nine months preggo when this was taken…

Frequency of use – often
Features I like – squishy yarn, color, 3/4 sleeves, all over lace
Features I don’t like – squishy yarn, color, body length, all over lace

Bottom line – after months of use, I haven’t made up my mind on this one. For sure the body is too short, a lesson that I didn’t learn on all the sweaters before this one.

What I learned – all over lace is awesome – fun to knit, gorgeous to look at, but hard to wear. And, for crying out loud – knit the body longer, woman!

So, that brings us to the present. Hopefully I will learn my lessons well and the next sweater that I knit for myself will be the perfect sweater.

I am leaning towards this one…. with a longer body, of course.