National Grilled Cheese Day!

Very recently, as in this past month, I went to my local Biggby’s coffee shop downtown and saw they had listed today’s date as National Grilled Cheese Day. First, I told the monsters that they HAD to have a grilled cheese planned out to eat today. Their pick, today’s recipe. Grilled cheese with tomato soup. And yes, this really is how I normally make it for them. This was the only way it was made for me at home when I was growing up. I knew nothing about adding mayonnaise to bread. All I knew of was the soft squishy bread with not quite melted completely cheese. This is NOT the restaurant recipe. This is not my cheeses now. This is Kid-centric happy grilled cheese.

So, my other big growing up memory of grilled cheese was at school. I’m pretty sure they didn’t do the mayonnaise on the bread trick either, but theirs was always crisp and melted. I have an idea on how they did it and it isn’t microwave. Back then, it was much more a vessel of gooeyness to transport that richer than home tomato soup. And we always had mixed vegetables at lunch on those days. I wonder if they really did watch and approve of us finding a way to “get the veggies off our plates” yet magically ended up in us. Side note, maybe schools should do more soups so kids can enjoy more varieties of veggies by returning to those old tricks from growing up. But, yeah, I would dump my serving of mixed veggies into my soup and stir it up. It made everything a little more palatable for my pickiness. But, it was also on white bread. It was the ONLY thing I would eat with white bread on it. I was the kid who was more than happy to trade your wheat peanut butter sandwich for a wheat bread one. I still will. But that sandwich was so simple and yet tasted so good. I miss the elementary lunch ladies. OK, tell your kids to tell their lunchlady or lunchguy thanks if they enjoyed their food. The good ones need reminided from time to time.

So, yes, the soup is condensed. Campbell’s is the kids’ favorite and I’m not allowed to buy even the completely prepared because it “doesn’t taste right” otherwise. And the cheese I listed is the one that I have found melts the best. Use whichever you like more if you want it meltier or whatever else. No, I don’t recommend Kraft personally because it never melts right. And the directions are for an electric stove. Gas heats different and I still haven’t gotten that right because I make it for the kids too infrequently to do it right.

 

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Serves 2

4 slices of whole wheat bread

4 slices of Helluva Good processed American Cheese

one piece of bread. Using one piece of plastic

Butter flavored cooking spray

1 Can Campbell’s Tomato Soup

1 can water

1 can milk

 

Heat flat pan on medium heat. Dump soup, water and milk in medium pot on medium low heat. Whisk until no lumps of soup can be seen. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Peel the plastic off of the cheese, saving one piece. Shingle two pieces of cheese together to make it the length of a slice of bread. Put the saved piece of plastic between the two sets of shingles. Lightly spray the pan with the cooking spray. Place two slices of bread, butter side down, on the flat pan. Top with the cheese shingles. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top with butter sides up. Heat until buttom is golden brown. Check the soup and stir to keep it from sticking to bottom of pan. Flip, using spatula. If soup starts bubbling, turn heat down to low or warm, dependng on which is lowest setting for your stove. Heat bread until golden brown again. Remove. Plate both items and enjoy.

 

Blown modem

Today’s post is brought to you by the iphone5c. Ouch. Love hating typing on this. But, on the upside: Spring is arriving. It has been warm enough I have considered wearing just my sweatshirt to work. But, that also brings rain.

Mine thing I love doing wen I need a pick up is to buy some flowers.

$13.99 bouquet including vase

This is carnations and baby’s breath bouquets bought from the grocery store

This bouquet I made myself. I bought two different bouquets for $5 each. Not cheap, but I wanted a white bouquet this time. I like to use baby’s breath on its own normally, but decided to do a play on normal ones. This time, I made the carnations the filler for the focus of lacy baby’s breath. I do like this very much, though know I need a smaller vase for smaller bouquets. I’m not meaning shorter; smaller diameter. The case I bought was the least expensive and I didn’t feel like making another store trip just for a vase.

A couple tips if you are making your own bouquets. First: Check your grocery stores and gas stations along with florists. You can sometimes make multiple bouquets from one bunch sold. Or, if you just need one or so more flowers, they can sometimes be less expensive. Second: Don’t pass up on a bunch because you don’t like all of the flowers together. You can easily get rid of a couple if that’s the case for a bouquet you’d enjoy. Third: Remember to cut the ends of your flowers at a slight angle when you put them in your vase. This allows the flowers to drink the water you put them in much better. In turn, it lets them stay alive longer. Fourth: Make sure there are no leaves or flowers below your water. That will cause rot, which will make the flowers die faster.

What flowers do you like in your bouquets? Do you have to need a reason to buy or receive flowers?

Quick and Simple Rice and Beans

It keeps trying to sprinkle here. The day is not too cold, but still is pretty gloomy. Not like the previous days. It feels too much like Spring still though. Right now, I’m on a cooking binge for the week. So, with the glut of food and packing being done, I still need to feed myself. My biggest thing is that I make enough of one thing that I can eat. Well, today, I just made a load of rice. I needed it for a couple different things and even still it was too much for the amount I made. I’m almost to the point of not having to cook for work meals for the next couple of weeks. My freezer is about to the stuffed point. So, that will help a bit. All my recipes I stretch to four servings, which gives me four weeks of options to eat. That’s also good when the recommended time to freeze foods seems to be a month to three.

My biggest thing is that I’m making myself try new foods that I wouldn’t have previously tried. I’ve never made cabbage rolls or stuffed peppers before. Now, I can say that I have. It’s easier to make cabbage rolls and I find that I enjoy making them. It’s taken me many years (maybe it was the meat stuffing that didn’t help things) but I find myself even liking eating them. But, I make more filling than I have the patience to roll. So, what do I do? I take the remainder and either put it in soup or else with fried cabbage to make an unstuffed cabbage. That makes quick meals for work that nobody else seems to touch. It could also be that the night shift doesn’t find interest in others foods because they all bring their own. Either way, I get to enjoy it.

Another recipe I never ate growing up is this addiction of mine. I never had a reason growing up to know about rice and beans except maybe school, which did that spanish rice. I don’t think it had beans in it though. It was red and clumped into a scoop that went with taco day. It looked so unappetising and I always tried to avoid it. But, when made to choose between eating the taco and eating the rice, I ended up eating the rice. No, I don’t remember there being much flavor in it either. So, when I first considered seriously trying vegetarian, I read all about rice and beans. Such a staple that I had never heard of. So, of course I had to try it. For a while, I ended up just buying a box to make of it. It was bland or nothing but spice. This, this is mine and it’s a little creamier with a bite from the beans. Using the bean mix, all I need to do is reheat it enough to the same temperature as the rice. And for future reference, I’m in love with coconut milk. It is richer than the others, even coming out of the box. I do buy the shelf stable kind because it’s cheaper than the refrigerated. Since I’m already reading the labels, I keep an eye out for the kind without carageenan. I’m not really all certain about the health risks, but currently I just want something with a little less extra. And since they are the same price, I choose to go without.

rice and beans

Cajun Rice and Beans

Serves 1

3/4 C cooked Jasmine rice
1/2 C bean mix
1 Tbs cajun spice blend
1/2 C boxed coconut milk

Put all ingredients in a 1 qt saucepan. Mix together until the spice blend is coating all of the rice. Heat on Medium low. Scoop it in a bowl and eat it all up.

How soon is Spring?

So, instead of sleeping, I’m currently sitting outside with my bowl of oatmeal (lemon poppyseed), cup of dirty chai, and pajamas. Yes, outside where the entire world can see me and with sandals on for footwear. My pajama ensemble lately has been including socks, so I know it looks bad. But, with weather this warm after the cold streak, I think I’ll enjoy it before I get too tired. This makes for the perfect end for a day. Of course, it’s a bank holiday, so there are quite a few people who are enjoying this day too. I’m sure there are a few others who are calling off today to enjoy the day. But, a nice part about working at night, I can enjoy the day without having to cut into the money coming in. Vitamin D, you are so welcome right now.

Over the weekend, I went out at night (which technically is illegal where we went because it is marked sunrise to sunset) to go walk a park path with the guy. I found myself wishing there was a park setup where there wasn’t that risk of getting in trouble for those who do work nights and want to do that outdoors on days off. I understand that most of the city will turn a blind eye as long as you aren’t doing something really bad, but there can always be the day one either runs into someone who wants to be a stickler for the rules or is having a bad day and decides to enforce the rule. But, this also was nice to do because we got to talk and relax. We both were feeling cooped up with the only option being us being in my room for any type of privacy. So, the two of us really enjoyed and laughed more during our exploring walk. We’re also figuring other places to park his car so we can do long walks on my days off and get to just be together. He brought coffee and I told him about my idea for when I have the girls out here in an apartment this summer.

The oatmeal was the first time I made it, and I didn’t do any measuring. I wasn’t even sure it would work. So, no recipe for this. I figure that closer to easter I’ll post a final recipe on it. That way, I know that it is right. It does taste quite like a lemon poppyseed muffin. It’s what I find funny, but so many like the tops of muffins. I find the best part is the bottom. I think there’s too many extras added to the top, so you miss out on the actual flavor and texture of the muffin. But, this oatmeal is fitting in perfectly with the weather I’m sitting in. I usually end up sweetening my oatmeal by adding flavors. Jams and chocolates are quite sweetening. My maple and brown sugar oatmeal is a distinct difference. Wait, maybe not since I’m really trying to eat it for the maple and the molasses flavorings. I am finding myself buying a lot of local stuff which ends up either being the same price or less than going to the grocery store. I know adding the girls will have my costs go up because the local meats are much higher, but I think that we can make it. They have all requested having meats still be in their diets, so this is going to be my compromise. It makes having a tight budget for food to begin with hard, but I will figure a way to do it. They just have to grab my old pans and pots to cook the meat in. My jam area in my fridge is growing from the selection I have, but I’ll hit TJMaxx as long as they still have my one jam. Darn it, I blame Ribena for my blackcurrant addiction.

I think I’ll try to end this with my new vinaigrette recipe. It’s worked quite nicely on both salads and the other part of my bean salad base.Yes, there are two different vinegars, but I’m kind of realising I’m a vinegar addict. I have more vinegars than anything else. I do need to get some more oils, but I see a vinegar and start drooling. Both of these are sweet vinegars, so they play nicely together. It does darken the look of the food, so if you are not wanting that, then change the vinegars to your liking. I won’t put servings on anything with dressings because I don’t pay attention to how much I use at once and I know everyone uses different amounts per item.

 

Malt Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tbs. Malt Vinegar (I used London Pub, but Heinz also makes a killer malt vinegar)

2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

1 tsp. Black currant Preserves

Pinch Kroenig spice mix

Pinch Hickory smoked Salt

Olive Oil with black Truffles

Add all ingredients before Olive oil to a jar. Add olive oil to the top. Add lid. Shake until emulsified. If it doesn’t get to the thickness of your liking, add more olive oil. Shake again. Enjoy. Remember to reshake each time you use it because they WILL separate.

Shopping Saturday

Since moving here, I’ve been trying to figure more and more ways to enjoy cooking and eating. My favorite thing now is to do a Saturday shopping trip. It usually ends up being an all day ordeal because I get up too late. I need to get downtown by nine am to do all of it in one day. But, yesterday, I just did not want to get out of bed. I just wanted to sleep and enjoy the warm weather. So, I still have a bit to do shopping wise before I can do all my cooking. I’ll end up spending even longer awake on Monday after I finish work from tonight to get it done. Luckily, it’s only a couple more things. And, I grabbed more milk from the store today that I keep forgetting to buy.

I only have twenty dollars for shopping this week to spend after semi monthly rent. Well, I have $1.50 left. Which is cutting it so close. I am so glad all I need to get now is from the bulk bins and it’s all small amounts. I did splurge, which made the dollar amount go less for groceries, by exploring the Glass outlet store across from the Farmer’s market. They had all these Halloween items on super cheap prices. I ended up getting two glass coffee mugs that were cute Halloween themed, listing Zombie to Human, a shot glass that I really did not need for my collection (I didn’t get the more expensive one that I’m hoping will still be there in a couple more weeks), a needed measuring beaker for recipes that list mls for liquid measurements, and a candy bowl.

image

That there is my fridge that is next to my bed. I should add the red sticks are coffee stirrers I use for my perfume that then become room fragrances, especially when the heater gets turned on (which hasn’t been that often really). I’m already using my candy bowl as a way to remind myself to grab my snacks before work. I am trying to take one caramel and a candy bar to get my sweet tooth fix. I’d gone the previous week to Ollie’s and picked up a bag of Cadbury’s dark chocolate and mint bars for less than two dollars. The way I’ve been eating them, it should last me the rest of the month and then I’ll just have to hope they have another bag option like that. To be honest, it does help a lot to have a bag to ration out for a while instead of shopping for a bar or three every night because it’s available and I’m having a craving.

But, I’m also making a slow small buying of things in there that I still need from the outlet store. They do have a good selection of lower priced items. But, it’s mainly bakeware I need left. That and I’m thinking of getting some seasonal glasses for uses. The easter ones are all greens and blues with purple on them. I just wish they had St Patrick’s patterns. Maybe after the holiday they will. I didn’t get any of the snowflake patterned ones only because I was using my hands to carry everything. But, I ended spending six dollars there. I should add that one of the coffee mugs is going to the boy simply because he’ll get a kick out of it.

So, then I went to the farmer’s market. Last time, I went in, did a little browsing and felt so nervous with the shopping I either avoided looking at the vendors or talked too much.This time, I felt a little more comfortable. Or else it was because my stomach was better filled than last time. So, first tip that will seem obvious: Always eat before you go shopping. But, don’t eat to full. I started talking to a few more vendors and asked more questions. This led me to new discoveries. So, second tip: Ask about what they are selling. I found out the vendor who I’ve been getting my cabbage from really grows it to make cabbage rolls, which was why I was buying it. He ended up showing me what to look for to get the best for rolling. Other vendors have a return policy for money back when you return the container that was used for the product. So, I have two dollars possible to get back once I finish my honey and jams. The third tip is: If you don’t see something you are looking for, ask. I have one vendor bringing me a specific variety of fruit because I wanted to buy some next time I’ll be there. I heard a couple other people asking about other things they wanted to other vendors and they told them that they would bring it the next time because they were just waiting for someone to want the items. Also, they will let you know when something is in season and when they will be harvesting things.

Remember, farmer’s markets do not hold just produce. Those caramels you saw in the candy bowl; I bought them from a vendor there. The farmer’s market here also has coffee roasters, a bakery comes in, honey vendors, a clothing shop (I am not kidding!), a preserves stand, some floral vendors (they are mostly selling succulents and bulbs right now), and a dog treats stand. I can’t wait for this spring when everything goes outdoors and there are supposed to be even more people. Wait, I just thought how many more options I’ll have. I do think I will search out the vendors I see who are here already, but I’m a little nervous still about making new contacts to shop from.

As I was going home, I finally got to discover the little grocer that goes in front of one of the many churches I pass to go downtown. It is not a joke that there are a bunch of churches in Toledo. I can honestly say I live within a mile of six different churches, at least. But, I realised after I left that I had forgotten to buy an onion. Why I want an onion is still up in the air since I hate cutting them, but it’ll get used this week. So, I spent a little bit getting sold by a young girl and ended up getting the onion I needed and a grapefruit. The grapefruit is really an outside item because my last memory of that was my grandparents having me try one for a breakfast. When I didn’t like it because it was too tart, they told me to put some sugar on it to taste better. I remember it didn’t and they got upset I wasted it. I haven’t gone near one since. So, this will be an interesting thing to try.

I forgot to pull something for dinner that night. So, I ended up eating one of my stews that were supposed to be for work and the mac and cheese I’d left at home instead of taking to work. Otherwise, it probably would have been make a quick meal from the pantry. I do think tomorrow will have some zucchini from my dollar Kroger produce hit. Beyond that, it’ll be cooking and sleeping. More the sleeping than cooking.

Day 1 for class

It seems that all the times I want to put up a text, they pile on me. So, this got put on the sidelines. Again. And add in that the main internet connection keeps failing. So, every trifecta has happened. Let’s hope the future doesn’t work like this.

image

So, today’s theme is home. For me, it means more like this: never ending laundry and other cleaning. This made me wonder about why it always feels that way. It gave me a realization. I’m taking care of everyone else and still putting myself second. Why? Because I don’t want to deal with the stress from certain other people over having to fight for any help.

Home is never a good word for me. I always thought it should be a happy place, but reality says different. It can be a struggle and a balancing act. Too much of one or another is a bad thing. So, I practice patience at home around chaos.