Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm a Cheap Date!

Not a very complimentary title? Cheap = inexpensive, not anything else you mighta been thinkin'!

Dates can be EXPENSIVE! Babysitting costs an arm-and-two-legs. Gas prices are ridiculous. Food, shows, all adds up.

When my kids were really little, we got a babysitter once or twice. By the time we dressed up, got the kids prepared for the sitter, figured out what they were going to eat, and took the sitter through the long list of instructions, I wondered WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? Then it'd be cold or rainy, the restaurant line would be long, the arm of my movie seat would be sticky with Cola...or a cell phone would go off during the show. Not my idea of a good time.

Our kids generally go to bed by 8p.m. on school nights. Sometimes they're in by 7:30 with a half-hour to read. Even 'LilDude, age 5, likes to "read" in bed, imitating his siblings. If I plan in advance, my husband and I can start "date night" at 8p.m. This is how it works...

At 7p.m., he drives to town while I get the kids ready for bed. He chooses a DVD, I brush teeth. He picks up Chinese takeout, I read bedtime stories. I shut the kids' bedroom doors, he walks in the door. We both pile our plates high with steamin' Chinese food and head upstairs to watch a movie from the comfort of our no-Cola couch in front of a blazing pellet stove.

Ahhhhh. Now that's a date! All for less than $20! (Including leftover Chinese takeout for lunch the next day.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Barter More, Spend Less…and Save Useful Stuff!

Okay, I know it’s silly. But when I found out that my daughter needed a “Renaissance-Classical look costume” for her role as Queen Margaret in Richard III and that it was to have “almost a wild haggard witch look…perhaps the tattered remains of a royal dress…,” I panicked! I did not want to go thrift shopping for a costume that I had such a slim chance of finding. I mean, Renaissance-Classical and tattered???? You've got to be kidding!

I even dreamed about it one night, stressing over where I was going to find this costume. It had been suggested that we check with a costume shop, but I knew the rental could be formidable. I sew, but did not want to invest time and energy in a new costume, only to turn around and destroy it.

Several years ago at Halloween we purchased a royal-looking dress from Goodwill. I hated to wreck this perfectly good costume, also doubting that it was “enough” for this production. I remembered that in the bottom of my scrap box, I had the very, very tattered remains of what was once a wedding dress. At a garage sale an older lady had practically begged my then preschool daughters to take the dress and “have fun with it.” The dress wasn’t in good shape even ten years ago, but now all that remained was the under layer and zippered side seam. Only a couple weeks before, Anakin had been cutting little Lego Star Wars capes from the starched, yellowing skirt.

Thankfully, I remembered that my friend, Lynn, liked to do costuming. I just didn’t know the extent of her talents! Always gracious, Lynn agreed to help us. We met one afternoon and she transformed the odds and ends into a beautifully tattered, Elizabethan wonder in just a few hours.

During the “fittings” Lynn mentioned that she was hosting a birthday dinner for her mom the next day and she hadn’t had time to find a musician for entertainment like she had in other years. My daughter and I looked at one another. “We could do it.”

“What do you mean?” Lynn mumbled, pins sticking out of her mouth.

“We could play for your mom. Queen Margaret here could play violin. I could play piano.”

“You play piano?”

“Sure.” I played through a few tunes in an attempt to prove that my repertoire wasn't limited to "Chopsticks".

The next night we returned for our first birthday musical event. The audience couldn’t have been more appreciative. Queen Margaret loves her tattered Renaissance look. And I’m not having any more costume nightmares. Everyone won in this barter. What skills could you exchange with someone?

Digital photo work?
Car repair/oil changes?
Video production?
Computer work?
Household repairs?
Hair cutting?
Word processing?
Car washing?
Animal care/grooming?
The options are limitless…

If you’ve traded a skill/service with someone, I’d love to read your comment about it.

Oh, and on saving useful stuff…

Last weekend I had dinner with a group of high school friends. We were talking about saving vs. discarding used items. After several people talked about how easily they dispose of stuff, I admitted that I had a hard time parting with things. They asked why. “Because I might use it sometime.” Although I generally have an aversion to “stuff”…especially when it gets in the way of life, I was sure glad that I had the shell of that wedding dress left. I’d considered throwing it out many times, but somehow it always managed to make it back to the scrap box. I'm so thankful it did! It very well may have saved us a large rental bill.

Get Rich Slowly

Wanted to post a link to a great blog. Get Rich Slowly is written by a friend from childhood. Check out his post "The Key to Wealth is Being Satisfied with What You Already Have."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Anakin's Favorite Green Beans & Sausage

Anakin (11) calls it “the best food I’ve ever had.” Tonight he ate a large dinner plate full.

Green Beans and Sausage
Modified from Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook (crockpot recipes)

Here’s my version. It’s been doubled to feed my big family. I use a 6 qt. Crockpot.

2 quarts green beans, cut into 2” pieces (I use frozen, thawed. In the summer I use raw.)
2-3 carrots, chopped
1/2-1 small green or red pepper, chopped (I freeze them in the summer, cut up.)
16 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 t. dried thyme
3/4 t. salt
1 lb turkey kielbasa (a rope sausage, cut into small bites)

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover. Cook on high about 4 hours (without lifting lid!) In the summer I also add zucchini or summer squash.

Serve over noodles. I like to use penne. I make a regular batch and a gluten free batch for 'LilDude.

Tonight, Grandma and Grandpa came for dinner. We had this dish, berries from the freezer and the squash/pineapple recipe I posted earlier. This was my frugal attempt of the day. My husband had made plans for everyone to go out to dinner. I volunteered to cook instead. Here’s the breakdown of the price difference:

Mexican Restaurant (sit down)

5 adults x $9 = $45 (my oldest eats an adult portion)
3 kids x $4 = $12 (two of these kiddos would eat an adult portion normally...but we do well with portion sizes at this restaurant)

Tip = $10

Total = $67 (this is without ordering any drinks…just water)

Ingredients in Tonight’s Meal
2 quarts green beans
2-3 carrots, chopped
1/2-1 small green or red pepper, chopped (I freeze them in the summer, cut up.)
16 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 t. dried thyme
3/4 t. salt
1 lb turkey kielbasa
3 c. (or more) cooked, mashed butternut squash
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 (20-oz or less) can pineapple**
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/3 c. chopped peanuts

Garden: green beans, peppers, squash (cost of seeds divided between umpteen meals = pennies…I’ll estimate high and say $1.50 to include some energy cost for freezing the beans)
Berries = free from a friend in exchange for green beans from our garden
Grocery: spices, peanuts (from bulk bins), sugar, tomato sauce, carrots = high estimate, $2.50
Kielbasa = $2
Pineapple = 50 cents (used partial can, saving remainder for smoothies)
Noodles = $3.50 (including more $ gluten-free)

Total = $10
(and we have leftovers that will cover husband's lunch well as squash for at least one more side veggie/meal)

Savings = $57 for tonight’s meal--which doesn’t include the gas saved by not having to drive to town or the leftover food

In this case, the $57 can be considered “income” for not working. Had I worked outside of the home today, I would not have had the time or energy to cook even this simple meal. When I work—which I do, very occasionally—I’m wiped out. I admire anyone who can work a full day outside the home and then come home and cook a meal. Not me!

What Are YOU Working For?

Anyone else catch Lisa Ling on Oprah today? She interviewed “freegans”…people who use freebies they find in the garbage…everything from food (often new in the packaging) to furniture to exercise equipment. The unique thing about this particular group was that they didn’t need to save money to “get ahead”; most were making six figures. But they wanted to consume less. Oprah asked what they did with their money. They talked about living simply so they could give more. One woman now donates her time (time she’s earned by not spending money) to causes that she supports.

During the discussion, they started talking about how we often work to pay for our consumer habits…that when we consume less, we enable ourselves to work less. But they also stressed how hard this is to do. In the United States we are influenced by multi-million dollar corporations whose sole goal is to get us to spend more. People surround us saying that we must stop wearing this outfit because it’s “last year.” Since the fashion industry depends on our belief that we must look a certain way—this year—they’ll do whatever it takes to convince us to BUY NOW. Our kids watch television and see 25+ commercials an hour, convincing them they must have this new toy or that new snack. So we work. We work and work and work. So we can consume.

They asked an excellent question…”What are you working for?” What’s a need and what’s a want?

Are we working for our kids? Food? Shelter? A bigger house? A nicer car? Vacations? And if the answer is “our kids,” is it really? Are we doing everything we possibly can to be WITH those kids? I wonder how the world looks from a kid’s perspective. Will the new house, nicer car, better vacations ever be able to compete with the thing they want most…time with Mom and Dad?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Costco-Frugal or Not?

I received my Costco membership magazine in the mail today. Paging through it, I started thinking about the ways that Costco supports my attempts at frugality. Just today I paid about 15 cents/gal less for gasoline there. In the last couple of years we've been pleased with their optical department...and with 5 people in contacts/glasses, that's been a wonderful benefit! We have a list of regular items that we purchase there...usually because they are less expensive than purchasing in other stores. I've also been happy to see more and more organic and/or free-trade foods available for purchase.


Spending is still spending. For me, frugality does not equal coupons or money saving tricks. For me, frugality = not spending money. It is so easy to nickel and dime one's way to substantial debt. Shoot, a $3 coffee just 4x/week adds up to over $600/year!

Thankfully, when I don't spend money, I also reap something else I'm after...a smaller footprint on the earth. A few years ago, someone quoted a ridiculously high percentage of new purchases from stores like Target/Walmart/etc. that end up in the landfill within one year of purchase. I don't remember the exact number, but I was appalled.

But back to Costco...

When I walk into Costco it is oh-so-tempting to spend more than I intended. I browse through all the latest books (my biggest vice!) and drool! At Christmas time, I walk down the toy aisles and try to program my feet to "move ahead!" Even the food items can get tempting (esp. when you get a sample at every corner!)--carbonated fruit juices, specialty coffees, chips, packaged snacks...all stuff that can be fun but is stuff that I DON'T NEED!

And the funny thing is...if I do really need it...I can find it at a garage sale within six months of seeing it at Costco. ;)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Easy Chicken/Veg Stirfry that Kids Will Eat!

My friend, Lynn, is an amazing gourmet cook. The other night she served an exotic meal that I couldn’t manage under the best of circumstances…parmesan cheese baskets with salad, crème brule, an incredible chicken, and a spinach side dish with some fantastic cheese that I can’t pronounce, much less remember. I love to eat. I really don’t love to cook.

A couple weeks ago, Lynn’s 12-year-old son was over for supper. I had planned to make Vietnam Fried Rice (with modifications) from the More With Less cookbook. I thought he would hate it. I make my kids eat main dishes full of veggies, but I don’t assume the same of guest children. I almost changed the menu, but I couldn’t figure out an easy alternative, so I crossed my fingers and served it anyway. I figured the worst that would happen was that he’d eat again when he got home. Imagine my shock when he ate not one helping, but THREE! Later Lynn called and said that she needed my recipe…that she’d tried to duplicate it but he said, “the sauce wasn’t right.” What sauce???? This recipe is too simple for sauce. Hope you enjoy it.

Cook rice or have leftover rice available.

Heat 1 T. oil (I like coconut) in a large skillet.

Add to the hot skillet your choice of assorted fresh or frozen veggies, cut into bite-sized pieces. You’ll need several cups of veggies. (I use 3-4 cups.) Start with those that need to cook the longest.

I often use:

Green beans
Snow peas
Red or green peppers

Cook til “crisp-tender.” Then add some cooked, cut-up chicken to the skillet. Mix the chicken in with the veggies.

To season, add:

1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper (or more)
1 t. sugar
1 T. soy sauce (I use gf tahini)

[The original recipe calls for the rice to be stir fried in with the other ingredients. We prefer to serve the chicken/veggie mix over plain brown rice. You can also stirfry in a beaten egg if you like.]

Optional condiments: I like to add peanut sauce. My husband likes to add red pepper sauce. The kids like it “as is.”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Succulent SMOOTHIES!

Want a quick, nutritious way to "healthy up" your kiddos? Think SMOOTHIES! We eat/drink (depending on how thick they are! :) smoothies several times a week. I use whatever is on hand. Fruits of all kinds--frozen, leftovers, bananas that have had better days. Juices--concentrates and regular. Various milk substitutes. And when I'm feeling really sneaky, I throw in some ground flax seed for an even more nutritious punch. No one has ever noticed or complained.

Here's a list of ingredients I frequently use. The main requirement is a balance of liquid and need to have enough liquid to get the fruit to blend. (At least you do in my old blender! :)

  • Any kind of berry: strawberry, blackberry, marionberry, raspberry, blueberry (a mainstay!)--usually frozen
  • peaches--canned or frozen
  • bananas or pineapple (though I try to avoid buying an abundance of "tropical" fruit because it has to be shipped such a long distance and therefore isn't very easy on the environment)

  • Juice--orange (w/ calcium), pineapple (if I've saved from the squash recipe I posted), apple, grape
  • Any liquid from a canned fruit...I can peaches with a VERY light sugar syrup...when the peaches are gone I save the juice to add to smoothies. I don't use any other sweetener.
  • Vanilla or regular rice milk (since 'LilDude is dairy intolerant, I avoid milk products though they are great in smoothies!)
  • Orange juice concentrate

EXTRA nutrition

  • ground flax seed

We eat smoothies for breakfast or snacks. The other day my kiddos were drinking the latest smoothie, saying "this is better than what we get at _____!" (Famous smoothie restaurant...where each smoothie is about $4!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

'LilDude's Big Heart

Just read to 'LilDude (5) before bed. We read Everybody Cooks Rice for the first time. It led to a fascinating discussion.

During the book he asked where Vietnam was. I told him it was close to Korea, where he was born. Then, on a later page, I pointed out that China was attached to North Korea. He made the comment that his birth family could visit China. I explained that people from South Korea aren't really able to travel through North Korea to go to China. When he asked why, I explained in VERY simple terms that the leader in North Korea doesn't allow it.

He started asking questions about how much money people in Korea have. This has come up in several past discussions. I told him that South Koreans don't live a lot differently than how we live (this is in 5yo terms, mind you!), but that things were different in North Korea...that some people there don't have a lot of food. I then told him that there are ways that we can give to children in North Korea. Immediately he brightened and said, "Remember my red bag with the change in it? I can give some of that to them!" He was very excited about the prospect. I also told him we could pray for the leader and the people of North Korea. He grinned ear to ear and reminded me when the book was over that he wanted to pray for the leader from "the other Korea."

'LilDude has a BIG HEART! I'm so proud of my boy!

P.S. When we finished the book he said that he wants to "cook all the recipes from the book" together!

5-year-old says, "More lentils!"

Lentils + rice = complete protein. Tonight we had honey baked lentils and 'LilDude (5) asked for THIRDS. Here it is, modified from More with Less, a VERY well-used cookbook in our house!

Combine in saucepan:

1 lb (2 1/3 c.) lentils
1 small bay leaf
5 c. water
2 t. salt (or less)

Bring to boil. Cover tightly, reduce heat. Simmer 30 mins. Do not drain. Preheat oven to 350.

Combine separately and add to lentils:

1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. powdered ginger
1 T. soy sauce
1 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onions, optional (I skip)

Slice some bacon in little chunks, optional. (I didn't use it this time and it's great without. Recipe says "4 slices"...I never use that much.) Stir most of bacon into lentils and sprinkle a few on top.

Pour over all:

1/3 c. honey

Cover tightly. Bake 1 hr. Uncover last 10 mins. to brown bacon.

Serve over rice:

You can make use of the oven energy by cooking oven rice...also from More with Less.

Combine in covered casserole dish:

2 c. hot water
1 c. rice (I use brown)
1/2 t. salt
1 T. oil or margarine (I use olive oil or coconut oil)

Cover and bake 45 mins. or longer for larger quantities. I doubled the rice recipe and it was done the same time as the lentils.

To really save on your oven energy, put frozen corn in another casserole dish with a little water and let it thaw/heat with the other dishes.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Feeding a Family Locally Grown, Seasonal Food!

I used to have three primary cooking goals:

1. Fast & easy to make.
2. Cheap to make.
3. Decently healthy that kids will eat.

We ate piles of casseroles. Noodles & cheese…mixed with a can of soup. Tuna, noodles & peas…mixed with a can of soup. Fast and easy it was. Healthy and environmentally sound it probably wasn’t.

My first wake up call came when we learned that ‘LilDude’s gluten intolerance made all those noodles and cans of soup a no-no. It didn’t take long to figure out that our best bet was to eat food in as close to “natural” a state as possible. The more processing, the more likely a food contained gluten.

In a similar time frame, I started reading about eating local foods in season. I’d never been crazy about buying Styrofoam-tasting tomatoes in the middle of winter, but in reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I realized that there were a lot more reasons to buy local. When my kids studied the energy use involved in food transportation as part of a LegoRobotics project, the family jumped on board. (I knew we’d reached a pinnacle when they came home from Grandma’s with a running commentary on the “lettuce and tomatoes in the middle of winter!”)

So my cooking goals have changed:

1. I still want things that are fast and easy to make. But now fast/easy must also fulfill a few additional requirements…

2. Food cost continues to be an issue…but food cost at what cost? If my food comes to me at a low price because it was shipped here from a distance, there is a price to pay. I don’t know what growing methods were used…which especially concerns me when it comes to pesticide use. As an example, I recently learned that most apple juice in the United States comes from China. Buying that juice contributes to energy use/food transportation, adds to the burden of chemical use in China (hurting the people living there), and takes away from my local economy…where apples naturally grow just a few miles away.

3. My new goal is to find or grow as much whole/natural/unprocessed/seasonal/local food as I can. Sometimes I pay slightly more. Sometimes I’m astounded by how reasonable these healthy alternatives are. This past year we made two big meat purchases: locally grown, grass-fed beef, and free-range chickens. We chose to commit a lot of freezer space to the endeavor, purchasing a third freezer, used. (I realize, guiltily, that this is a lot of energy use, but it's the best alternative our family has found.) We’re about ready to condense to two freezers, having eaten about a third of the supply.

In addition to the meat, we loaded the freezers with tomatoes, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, pesto, green beans, blueberries (90 lbs purchased at 60 cents/lb), raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, sour cherries, corn, broccoli, etc… Everything but the berries came from the garden. Salsa, peaches, green beans, dilly beans, and grape juice line our pantry. And, yes, the squash still fills buckets in the garage. As a result, our monthly grocery budget is quite low.

4. I still want the kids to eat it. But I also want them to eat healthy…and in an environmentally sustainable way.

We’re still a long way from meeting these goals, but I’m trying to add one little piece at a time…

Since Christmas, one goal has been to increase crockpot usage. I can easily throw in a meat or soup/stew. Lately, I find myself using the crockpot 2-3 times a week. Here’s this week:

Monday: crockpot stew (this was a traditional beef, carrot, potato stew…I threw in chunks of butternut squash and no one even noticed!)

Tuesday: roast beef (crockpot), mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, blueberries

Wednesday: chicken (crockpot—so easy!—put a half onion in the cavity with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sprinkle with basil…it makes about 3 cups of amazing broth that I save for a crockpot chicken soup that I’ll post later), squash casserole (posted earlier), green beans, blueberries

Thursday: honey baked lentils (yep!, the kids like this!) with rice, corn, leftover squash casserole

Friday: shepherd’s pie made with the leftover vegetables from the week and the leftover mashed potatoes, gravy and beef from Tuesday.

I’d love to hear from others who are moving toward feeding families on locally grown, seasonal food!

Coming up...1 chicken, 3 meals! ;)

Monday, February 4, 2008

What Kids See as "Normal"

Ever notice how people expect to grow up and have more than they did growing up? We expect our adult home to be bigger than our childhood home. Our cars need to be better than those that our parents drove. Our vacations should be more exotic. The gifts we received as kids should pale in comparison to our kids’ birthdays.

Sometimes I start dreaming about a new house or a fancier car. But then I consciously stop myself. Do I want my kids to have ________, and think that this is "normal?" We could have “more,” but I don’t want it…all because of the message it sends to my kiddos. Frankly, it’s bad enough as it is. We already live better than the majority of the people in the world.

My mom often said that she would have happily “lived in a trailer as long as she was able to stay home with her kids.” That mantra, which I heard from an early age, led me to an early understanding of what my parents, my role models, valued. I hope my kids grow up understanding that stuff means nothing…but people are everything. I know we best teach by example, but living in this society, this one is really hard.

11-year-old's Squash Soup Assessment

At lunch today, Anakin (again, the kids named themselves!), said that he found the soup, "Manageable." Now if that's not approval, I don't know what is...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rich on One Income

My family manages “rich” on one income. You might wonder what my definition of “rich” is. No diamonds, Hummers, or lavish vacations. But we are rich with family time.

I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. Yes, I did the “career” thing and still dabble in little paying jobs now and then. But my biggest job is MOM. And that’s the way I want it.

Part of the job of MOM entails keeping us rich…and this time it does have to do with money. While RichPoppa brings home the bacon, I try to keep it from growing hooves and running wee, wee, wee away from home. A huge piece of my financial contribution involves holding onto our money rather than spending it. So how do I do it?

1. I avoid shopping. Ever go into a store for one item and leave with ten...nine of which you never knew you needed until they leapt off the shelf and flew into your cart?

One of my goals is to leave a smaller footprint on our planet. When I buy, I just end up with more STUFF. New treasures today becomes old stuff tomorrow...and it all has to go somewhere.

Stuff needs storage (which we’re already short on!) and shuffling. Some days I feel like all I do is move the stuff we already own from place to place around the house. Don’t need more stuff.

2. When I shop, I delight in buying used. Garage sales, Goodwill, consignment shops. One big treasure hunt! I shop with purpose at certain sales.

Last year I decided I wanted a small coffee maker. (RichPoppa doesn't drink coffee!) I remembered seeing several at a retirement village garage sale the year before, so I waited. I found several to choose from...$3 each...less than the price of one Starbucks!

3. In our home, credit cards provide an alternative to carrying cash, not an alternative to paying bills. We pay off any balance at the end of each month. No debt carry-over. If we cannot afford it, we don't buy it.

4. We own and watch television (although I often wish we'd just chuck it!), but we don't have cable. We might be the last hold-outs in this country. The other day, Lizzi commented on a Hannah Montana episode, saying it was one she "hadn't seen." Between Nana's and Grandma's and her friends', she'd managed to see quite a few. So much for living the sheltered life. :)

5. No daily coffee take-out. It pains me to spend $3 or $4 for a cup of coffee. On a rare occasion I treat myself, but that's usually after receiving a gift card. Even then I don't like to do it. The thought of all the garbage created by my coffee "treat" bothers me.

6. We limit eating out. It's a treat, not a way of life. It's been cut back even further since 'LilDude's dx of gluten intolerance. When the bigger kids watched Super Size Me, then read Chew on This, even they stopped asking for fast food. Our last fast food hold out is Burgerville. Since we rarely go out to eat, an occasional splurge for locally grown, sustainable fast food (isn't that an oxymoron?) keeps our arteries from going into shock. Chocolate Hazelnut milkshakes. YUM!

7. Along with the lack of cable, I might be the last person in the U.S. who doesn't own a cell phone. RichPoppa uses one for work, but I don't have one. What if there is an emergency? I guess I'll ask someone with a cell phone to take pity on me.

I'll keep adding 'em as I think of 'em. A lot of people think of frugality in terms of coupons, discounts, and buying retail at the lowest possible price. I prefer to avoid the whole retail thing whenever possible. If more people in the U.S. shared my view, the whole "tax rebate to boost the economy" idea would fall apart.

Squash That Kids Will Eat

Growing squash could make a person rich. A couple cheap little seeds yield bushels and bushels of the veggie...high in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber. In a cool winter climate, storage is as simple as piling it in boxes in the garage. When we eat from our stash of squash, we save on our grocery produce bill. Since 'Lil Dude (can you tell that the kids named themselves?) is gluten intolerant, it's also a great food for him.

Squash is a good thing! And I've got a LOT. Time to pull out the recipes!

Curried Squash & Mushroom Soup
(modified from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)

2 med. acorn or butternut squash
2 1/2 c. water
1 c. orange juice
1 T. coconut oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
dashes cayenne to taste

1. In a 375 oven, bake squash halves until soft. Puree in food processor with water. Transfer to kettle and stir in orange juice.

2. Heat coconut oil. Add onion, garlic, salt, spices. Saute til onion is soft. (Add water if needed to prevent sticking.) Add mushrooms, cover, & cook for 10 minutes over med. heat, stirring occasionally.

3. Add saute to the squash. Add cayenne and heat gently. YUMMERS!

Butternut Squash Casserole
(modified from Mennonite Country Style Recipes & Kitchen Secrets by Esther Shank)

3 c. (or more) cooked, mashed butternut squash
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 (20-oz or less) can pineapple**
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/3 c. chopped peanuts

**Drain pineapple and save the liquid (and some pineapple if you don't want it all in the casserole) for smoothies. Crush pineapple with a potato masher, integrating into squash. Combine all remaining ingredients except peanuts. Sprinkle peanuts on top. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

We like this hot and cold. When it's cold, it's sorta like a pumpkin pudding.

SuperBowl Fare Isn't Fair

Dear Children,

As you enjoy Daddy's SuperBowl spread--potato chips, clam dip, cheese & bacon dip, tortilla chips, bean dip, & hotdogs--please remember that normal programming resumes tomorrow. That pile of butternut squash from the garden needs to be used. Squash soup for lunch!

Children, do you know that a mom's love for her children is directly proportional to the amount of squash she prepares for them?

Mommy loves you a whole bunch!

Edited to add that dd Lizzi just read this post over my shoulder and started sobbing.
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