Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The adventure begins, kinda

I've been an atheist for some years now. Well, many, many years actually. I like to consider myself open minded in some things. Definitely not all, there are some things it's good to be close minded about. Lately though, I've been wondering if I've closed myself off to the possibility of a deity or deities. Being who I am, I can't leave that alone.

So, where do I start. The best place for me to start any research is to go with the familiar and work my way out from there. Growing up I was raised in xian and spiritual households. My mother being a minister, I think I got to see all the ugly that goes into running a church. There where good times, but I also got to sit in and hear some pretty petty things I'm sure the leaders of the church would rather their fellow congregants not know about. I'd be lying if I said that didn't bias me, but I had already come to the conclusion that a god didn't make sense before any of that.

That leaves me with where to begin, still. Well, xian of course and deism-which is the only way to describe my father's beliefs though it isn't the most accurate. While religion is an interesting topic, it's not my first pick of things to study in my spare time. There's just this nagging feeling that I haven't explored religion to it's full potential, and I can't live with nagging-from myself or others. To negate that I've been reading bibles, various versions. I've been reading books about deism. However, both are bit of a snooze fest. No offense intended, they just aren't my cup of tea-especially when I've got 2 brand new Terry Pratchet books calling to me from the bookshelf, lol.

My conclusion is, I need guidance. I've set out to find a church. My goal is simply to have a better understanding of xians, deists, their beliefs and thought processes. It's just, how do you find the right church for something like this. The hubs and I tried the local UU, but never felt comfortable there. Not because they where unwelcoming, we're just not that social. Home is where are hearts are, and our minds when we aren't there. Homebodies isn't really strong enough. However, I'm willing to set my discomfort aside and expand my mind. Worst case scenario is I learn something new, maybe even make some new friends. If you have any advice for what to look for in a church or religious establishment, please share it with me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A couple things I do to stay sane

My biggest time saver is meal planning. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Having this planned out a week ahead of time saves time by not doing the million yard stare into the fridge wondering what the hell to fix for dinner at 5:30. Here's how I do it, at the end I'll include recipes and instructions.

On Friday night, I plan next weeks meals. I "shop" my cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what we already have and plan meals around that. Then I make my actual shopping list. Saturdays, I shop based on my meal plan. Sunday is cook/prep day. We always have a ton of meals and snacks that revolve around tortillas and tamales. On cook day I start out with the tortillas. They aren't that hard, but are time consuming-if I'm feeling really ambitious, I try to do two weeks worth. Trust me it doesn't happen often. I love eating tamales, but I hate making them, so I actually do a months worth. To save time during the week, I cook up any ground meat we made need for a dish, chop veg/fruits, cook rice, beans, etc. If we're having any casseroles, I assemble them and throw them in the freezer. I also bake pancakes, waffles, bread and other necessities for breakfasts and lunches. Snacks are tamales, quesadilla, fruit,veg, yogurt and other easy to grab or assemble items.

Another thing that happens on Sunday is outfit assembly. For myself, I hang work pants, shirt, undergarments and socks altogether. That way in the morning I can get up, grab a hanger, pull pancakes or waffles out of the freezer, shower, prepare everyone's breakfast. Seriously, this little tidbit lets me sleep an extra 20mins. After breakfast all I have to do is dress Little Man, put my hair up, brush teeth, a tiny bit of makeup and I am ready to go. I do the same for the hubs, and Little Man's clothes are arranged by outfit in his dresser. I work part time, so I don't have to worry about packing my lunch. Hubby works from home, so I pull something out of the fridge or freezer when I get home and it only takes a few minutes. The rest of my day is spent running errands, cleaning house, job hunting, a little bit of home preschool and the like.

To keep up on laundry, hubby and I did two things. We got rid of a lot of our clothes. It was ridiculous the amount we had. Second, we came up with a new wash routine. At night before bed, I throw a load in. In the morning, hubby switches it to the dryer and throws another load in the washer. Repeat. It turns out we only need to do about two loads a day to keep up with clothes and all the linens. Keep in mind that we live with my dad and have to include his laundry in this equation. When I get home, I help the hubs fold and put away anything he hasn't gotten to yet.

During nap time we pick up any toys or miscellaneous that needs put away. Dishes are rinsed and put in the dishwasher after each meal, or hand washed if they aren't dishwasher safe. After dinner, hubby starts the dishwasher and I dry/put everything away when it's done. While I'm doing that, hubby is picking up any toys, etc. We vacuum as needed, sweep daily, and mop twice a week. The kitchen is cleaned as it's used and the bathroom gets a deep clean once a week.

It sounds like we are always on our toes, but in reality each chore only takes a few minutes (as long as we keep up with it). After we've cleaned up we can hop on the computer, watch a show together or just hang out. It took some rewiring of our brains to adapt to this routine. Neither of us was particularly good at housework, but its totally been worth it. I hope some of this is helpful to y'all and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'll answer to the best of my ability. Now, on to some recipes.

My favorite taco seasoning. Thank the stars for

Corn Tortillas
2c masa harina 1 1/4c water

Mix for 4 minutes. Divide into 16-18 pieces, roll into balls. Press using tortilla press lined with wax paper. Transfer to 450F griddle and cook for 20secs. Flip, cook additional 20secs. To freeze, lay wax or parchment paper between each tortilla, put in freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Good for up to 6 months.

Flour Tortillas
2c All Purpose Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp salt
2tsp oil or softened butter
3/4c lukewarm milk

Mix for 4 minutes. Divide into 16-18 pieces, roll into balls. Press using tortilla press lined with wax paper. Transfer to 450F griddle and cook for 20secs. Flip, cook additional 20secs. To freeze, lay wax or parchment paper between each tortilla, put in freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Good for up to 6 months.

Filling Ingredients
4lb Beef roast, pork roast or chicken
broth (beef, chicken or veg) and/or water
4 garlic cloves
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp chili powder-make sure it is salt free
1tsp paprika
1tsp red pepper flakes

9 cups masa harina
3 cups lard
1 tablespoon salt

3 (8oz packages) corn husk

Place meat, garlic, and spices in slow cooker. Use broth and/or water to cover. Cook for 4hrs or until done. Remove garlic cloves, reserve 5c liquid and shred meat with fork. Soak corn husk in large pot or bowl for 3 hours, you may need to use plate or something to weigh them down.

Place lard and salt in large mixing bowel. Whip with electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly add masa harina flour and beat until well combined. Add liquid a little at a time until it resembles soft cookie dough-you may not need to use all the liquid so if some is left over don't sweat it.

Drain corn husks. Lay flat with short end facing you. Evenly spread 2tbsp masa on 2/3 of the husk. Spread 1tbsp shredded meat down middle of masa. Roll corn husk starting with one of the long sides, fold narrow end of corn husk up onto rolled tamale, tie with twine.

Place tamales in steamer basket and steam over boiling water for 1 hour, don't run out of water. Masa should be firm and hold it's shape. Eat immediately, serving in corn husks for everyone to unwrap on their own; or chill in fridge and then freeze. If frozen, place in fridge overnight to thaw, then reheat in steamer or microwave until heated through.

Mexican Casserole
12 corn tortillas, thawed
1lb ground meat-no need to thaw if you've frozen it
1 can re-fried beans or 12oz homemade refritos
1c cooked rice-you will need to thaw this if frozen
1 jar your favorite salsa
8oz shredded cheese-sharp cheddar is my personal fav.
taco seasoning packet or 2tbsp homemade taco seasoning
sour cream or Greek yogurt

In skillet, heat 1 or 2in of oil. Fry tortillas one at a time for 10-20secs. Flip and fry other side for 5-10secs, set on plate to drain. Once you have finished the tortillas, drain oil and wash skillet. Following directions on taco seasoning, pick up after it says to cook meat and drain if using precooked/frozen meat. Don't worry the meat will thaw as you cook it. Add the rice toward the end. After everything is cooked, remove from heat and add re-fried beans. Mix well. In baking dish lay 4 tortillas on bottom, don't mind the gaps or overlaps-this doesn't have to be pretty. Spread meat mixture evenly, salsa on top of that, and a layer of cheese. Repeat, you should end up with tortillas on top. Bake in oven at 350F for 20-25min or until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and guacamole. It's a very filling dish, so you should have plenty of left overs for a family of 4.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post one

Probably the hardest post for any blogger to write. I guess I'm supposed to tell you about myself and why I'm even writing a blog. Hmm, because I can! It just seemed like a good place to put my thoughts down at, maybe share a few ideas and learn something from people (assuming anyone bothers to read it).

I have a 2 almost 3yr old son and 2 sons(12 and 13) who came with my husband when we got married. They are all amazing people. It's astounding how much I can learn from them. I am wife to a very good man who I love deeply, and doesn't get on my nerves to much, lol. We are not bound by any religion in our home. We like the idea of homesteading and living off grid, though it's a future goal and not one we've achieved yet.

Now, so this isn't a complete waste of your time, a recipe for a quick dessert.

Snickers bars
4-8 apples; peeled, cored and sliced-depending on size of baking dish/number of Snickers on hand

Chop Snickers up in a food processor.
Place apples in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream, enjoy.