Tag Archives: cooking

E-Mealz

w 007aWell, I finally followed through with my E-Mealz subscription, and it’s been a great week!

E-Mealz is an online company which helps you plan your suppers each night. For a small subscription fee ($15 for three months), you can choose a meal plan based on your diet preferences, the size of your family, and your favorite grocery store. E-Mealz supplies you with a plan for seven meals, the recipes, and the shopping list. The meal plan for the week is based on the sales at your particular store that week, an extra bonus.

I had purchased a subscription some time ago, but cooking just isn’t my favorite thing to do, though we don’t eat out very often either. Instead, the meals I fixed often consisted of frozen chicken nuggets or patties, salads, and maybe a meatloaf every now and then. If my husband wasn’t coming home for dinner, the kids were satisfied with pancakes or cereal, so I was satisfied with that too.

This week, though, I was determined to give E-Mealz a fair try. I took my E-Mealz shopping list to my grocery store and got started. The amount I spent was very close to the estimated amount E-Mealz provided. That was a good sign!

Then came the real test: fixing the meals. I’ve followed the plan all week — mixing up the schedule a little, depending on what we were doing — and it has been great!  In the past, I usually make my way to the kitchen around 5:00, then scour the cabinets for about 20 minutes until I figure out what I’m going to cook. This week, though, I didn’t have to do that. I pulled out my copy of the plan, picked out a meal, and was ready to go. We’ve eaten something different every night this week and tried three new dishes that everyone liked. Wow!

So, next week I’ll try again. Now I’m looking forward to establishing better habits in the kitchen, and my family’s looking forward to better meals!

Cookies for Those Who Don’t Cook

cookiesjanjpgWhen I was growing up, my mom stayed home and took charge of the household. We rarely ate out, as there were eight kids; she cooked all the suppers, which always included a main dish with one or two side dishes. You would think that somehow, some of that knack for creating tasty things would have rubbed off on me.

Well, I’ve worked at it for years, even taking cooking lessons from some friends, and I have to say, cooking is still a bit of a struggle for me. I can follow a recipe, I can even make up recipes — I just don’t like to do it. It makes suppertime a bit tricky, since we don’t eat out much either.

Several years ago, however, my sister-in-law passed on a recipe that has become one of my all-time favorites. It’s a cookie recipe, and although we don’t eat dessert every night, I do whip up these cookies any time we go to a picnic, covered dish dinner, or church supper. They are SO EASY to make, and they taste so good. Here’s what you do:

Gather together:

1 Box of Cake Mix (any kind you like — I usually use yellow, white, or chocolate, but I’ve also used german chocolate, strawberry, and lemon)

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup of Oil

Anything else you want to throw in there, i.e. chocolate chips (6 oz. will do), M & M’s, peanut butter chips, nuts, etc.

In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix, eggs, and oil. Add chips, etc.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are starting to turn golden brown. It’s a little harder to tell when the chocolate ones are done, since they’re so dark already.

That’s it!  This recipe makes about 2 dozen smaller cookies, about 18 larger ones. It’s a simple recipe my kids can make all by themselves, creating cookies that are a hit everywhere we take them.

Rattlesnake Steak

file000838868154Our camping trip in Tennessee over Memorial Day was a fun time of visiting with family members. It was also the first time I had ever eaten rattlesnake. 

On the last full day of the trip, most of the children and a few of the adults decided to take a short hike to a deeper place in the river known as the Swimming Hole. The hike involved following a path through the woods; a large group of children went on ahead and my brother, his grown son, and two of his son’s friend brought up the rear. It was on this path that my nephew nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. 

Thankfully, all the younger children had already gone by. My nephew and one of his friends went into action and quickly killed the snake. They brought it back to the campsite among the excited shouts of the kids. 

My niece’s husband, a true southern boy from Alabama, knew just what to do. Surrounded by a host of curious children, he skinned and gutted the snake. They saw the two mice it had eaten recently along with its heart and entrails. Quite nauseating to me, but great science for the kids. 

My nephew then sautéed the snake in salad dressing and put it on a grill over the campfire. When it was well-done, he cut it up and passed it around. Now I’m not an adventurous eater at all, but how often do you eat rattlesnake fresh out of the woods? Everyone took a small piece, including me. And you know, it wasn’t bad — sort of a mix between fish and chicken in flavor. Even my peanut-butter and jelly eating five-year-old gave it a try. 

Camping is always an adventure, and this trip was no exception. Next time we eat rattlesnake, though, I’d prefer it to be in a restaurant. I’d rather avoid the snakes on the path.

My Rooster Conundrum

The first chickens we had were given to us by a friend. Included in that group was a hen with chicks, several of which grew up to be roosters. Since then, we’ve always had a rooster around, and each year several of the hens sit on their nests and hatch out a brood. (Because the mother hens are so protective, though, I would still buy chicks from the feed store that the children could hold.)

This spring, we have five grown roosters. One of them is clearly the dominant bird, and most of the ladies follow him around. And again, this spring, we have a familiar problem – what to do with the extra roosters?

We can’t keep all the birds, even though there’s plenty of room for them to roam; they’ll eventually start attacking each other. I could give them to a farm or another homeschooling family that needs a rooster, but so far I haven’t found one. All of our other options, though, mean a sad fate for the birds. The possiblities, then:

  • We could eat them since they’re not quite a year old. A friend told me that if they get much older, the meat is just too tough. But neither my husband nor I are the pioneering type, and neither of us wants to do the deed to prepare them for cooking.
  • We could give them to someone else to eat — I just have to find that person. Not as easy as one might think.
  • We could sell them at the flea market or our local weekly livestock auction. This is tempting, as it would give us cash in our pocket, but I’d wonder if the new owners would use them for cock fights.

What makes the choices harder this year is that all of these birds are very sweet – at least, as much as a rooster can be. They come to eat when I call them and follow us around the yard like pets. We’ll have to do something soon, though — that many roosters can wear a hen out!