Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sauerkraut Soup

This was really, really good. Fortunately, I had enough requests for a recipe that I can't procrastinate getting this written, or I might never get it down. This recipe is an approximation. I read about six recipes and took elements from each, but didn't actually use any of them. I measured nothing when I made it. This makes a really large amount of soup, but this is the only way I can do this for right now. And remember, this is the kind of soup that is good for using what you have.

Melt 2 TBS of butter in a large stock pot. Add 1/2 chopped sweet onion and saute until just softening. Add stock. (I kept adding more stock and broth as I went, but altogether I used about 3 cups of homemade chicken stock and 4-14oz. cans of Swanson Chicken broth. So about 10 cups of chicken broth total.) Add four big carrots, in bite sized chunks, two parsnips, also in chunks, two ribs of celery, sliced, and about 3 pounds of redskin potatoes, cut in chunks with the skin on. I also added about six cups of water at this point. Add sauerkraut. I am guessing that I had 8-10 cups of sauerkraut. (This was leftover kraut that had been cooked with pork and caraway seeds, so it was really good. If I was starting with fresh kraut I would probably add some supplemental pork to the soup.) I had five brats that had some nice carmelization that I cut up and added, but kielbasa or smoked sausage would be awesome. Add about 1 t. black pepper and 1 t. white pepper.
Cover and simmer for a couple of hours, until the potatoes are getting soft.

In another pan, melt 3 TBS butter. Add about 1/4 c. chopped mushrooms and 1 t. salt. (I will probably use more mushrooms next time, but I wasn't sure that I wanted them.)  Use your flour of choice to make a roux. I used 3 TBS rice flour because I had a bag that had a little left in it that I wanted to finish. Add about 1/2 c. white wine or beer. (Again, more would be good, I had about 1/2 cup left from a box of chardonnay.) Add 1 qt. 1/2 and 1/2, and then, because it doesn't look like enough, add a cup or two of whole milk. Stir until slightly thickened. Add (don't hate me foodie friends!) about 8 oz. of Velveeta. (Because that's how much I had.) Add all of this to the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes, at least. Throw in about 1 TBS of dried parsley.

Makes a lot of soup. :)

Enjoy with crusty bread.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One problem with time management books

" The goal of much that is written about life management is to enable us to do more in less time." Jean Fleming, quoted in Margin. "Perhaps we need to get less done, but the right things."

YES. Oh yes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The things that happen

When I'm overwhelmed I get more absent-minded. This week I was distracted. Busy. Andrew, who often helps me keep my head on, was very busy working and getting ready for a D&D weekend.
I tried to fit in a few household tasks on Thursday. One of those was making some stock with the carcass of Monday's roasted chicken.

I made the stock.

And then I went to work, made salad for 50 people, went to church, went home exhausted, and went to bed. Friday I was at work almost all day, except when I was running errands. I was gone last night. I went to work this morning, then to the grocery, then did laundry and worked on cleaning the upstairs.

I just decided to get started on the chili for tomorrow's lunch for the D&D players. Grabbed my stock pot from the back of the stove, where I assumed it was sitting clean, having completely forgotten that the stock ever existed.

Oh yes. It's still there.

Andrew usually makes sure all food is properly stowed before he goes to bed. But he probably assumed that the stockpot, sitting on the back of the stove with the lid on, was clean, just like I did today.

Now I need to get rid of wasted, yucky, beginning-to-smell stock before I can cook. This is why I need margin.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Being derailed

Every time I  make a new attempt to get organized, get control, or anything else of the sort, I get derailed very quickly. Something happens--life, my raging ADD, busyness--and knocks me off the tracks and instead of hopping back on, I just chuck it all.

This week I have had my schedule thrown off by a bad headache and sore throat, which wiped out my cleaning day, and a couple of unproductive days at work caused by too many interruptions one day and grief over the death of an on-line friend's husband the other. (If you are not already, please pray for Rhonda. Her husband's death leaves her a widow with six children from four months to 10 years.)

So today, which was to be my catch-up and project day at home, with a little scrapbooking for good measure, is, of necessity, going to be spent mostly at work. But instead of chucking it all, I am determined to regroup. I'm going to sit down with my calendar at lunch and plan next week, shifting a few things around to make up for this week's lapses.

How do those of you who plan your time make up for lost days? I have no problem being flexible; flexible is my middle name.  That is what has always gotten me into trouble with any kind of plan. I'm so flexible that any sign of the plan is soon gone.

And as the week ends I am still behind on my house; I still haven't done a thing with my pictures this year; the laundry is piling up; the refrigerator is a disorganized mess. . . .

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Time to get moving

Most of the time one part of my body or another hurts. If it's not my neck and head or my ankle and knee, it's my shoulder and arm or my back. It slows me down. It makes it hard for me to sleep.

The chiropractor helps, but the one I like is thirty minutes away and our budget--tightened as it is by increases in taxes, insurance costs, deductibles, and copays, plus college tuition and the myriad other expenses that accompany it, not to mention the rising cost of gas--really can't handle too many visits.

I've known for a while that I need to do something. A while back--okay, months ago--I ordered a series of DVDs that looked good. I also have a good yoga CD. Part of my new effort at gaining margin and getting my time under control is a commitment to actually use these things.

You see, I have a problem. I am LAZY. I would rather sit in the chair and read than get down on the floor and exercise. In the summer I walk and I swim, but even with that exercise I know that I need to do more if I want to be able to move when I'm 65. Let alone 80.

So tonight I did the first of the DVD's. It was focused on the neck and shoulders. There are exercises and also aspects of body movement that I need to focus on. It felt good. I'm going to start doing these exercises daily, mixed with the yoga.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saying yes, saying no

My dear friend Mary commented, on Facebook, on my last post, and it immediately provoked another post.

For some of us, even when we are already drowning in busyness, it is very hard to say no. For me it has always come from two things, one weakness and one strength.

The weakness is that I don't want to disappoint people. I don't want to make them sad. I don't want them to be mad at me. So I do things that I don't really want to do and for which I don't have time because I don't want to upset the asker. This is where I need to continue to learn to say no.

The strength is that I like to do things for people. I like to help people when they need help. I like to feed people. I like to host people and events. I have no desire to learn to say no to these things. If you need a meal, if your kid needs a ride somewhere, if you just need a break and need to have something done, ask me.

Learning to distinguish between these two has been tricky. Once in a while they are hard to tell apart. A couple of the people who push me to say no don't understand that all requests are not equal. But they aren't.

The other difficulty that grows out of not being able to say no is not being able to ask for help. I don't want to burden someone else who can't say no by asking them to do something, so I tend not to ask for help. I do, now, have a couple of people who I am pretty sure will tell me if they can't or don't want to do something. And that helps. I can ask them. Sometimes. But that is still really hard for me.

First thoughts about margin

A couple of posts ago I wrote about gaining control of my time. As part of that effort, I ordered a book that a friend recommended several years ago. The title is Margin and it is about giving yourself some space in all of the aspects of your life: time, finances, physical energy, and emotional energy.

As I've started reading it, one of the things that has struck me is how many different directions we have things coming at us from and how many different directions we are pulled by things. I started limiting inputs a couple of years ago. I dumped an email list that was made up of people for whom I cared, but that was--overall--mostly a source of stress. I left a couple of others that had ceased to be useful to me. We got rid of our satellite television service. (That deserves a whole post of its own!)

I have also tried to limit things that are pulling at me. I left a board of directors that made huge, largely thankless, demands on my time. I still serve the group, but in smaller ways. And since I'm no longer on the board, it is easier to say no to those things that I am not inclined to help with. I have avoided the temptations of several other opportunities to be heavily involved with various groups and instead serve, when I can, from the periphery. We also finally found someone to take on my treasurer position at church, which all too often seemed to be the proverbial straw on this camel's back.

There are more things like this that may be jettisoned soon. Nothing is off the table right now.

This room needs margin.
I have a former business that I have left in limbo. I am still spending money--just a small amount, but still money--each month for tools that I am not currently using. I need to come to a decision about the place of that business in my life. Right now it is mental, emotional, and physical clutter. All useful if I return to being active in the business, but if not, there really needs to be a period put to it.

I am also looking for ways to simplify and help to clear out even more of the stuff around here. I have promised myself weekly scrapbooking time, but this year I need to use up the supplies I have. So, that means no new paper. (This truly is not a hardship.) This will save money and force me to use some of the thousands of sheets of paper and cardstock that are taking up space in my extra room.

Anyone who sees me often knows that I wear the same clothes almost all the time. Yet I own a lot of clothes. That fit. And are nice, stylish clothes. I need to figure out what I am going to use and allow the rest to be useful to someone else, instead of hanging in the closet torturing me.

There's more. And I have more of the book to read. But the campaign for peace and sanity continues.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A little sea air

If the doctor thought outside the pill box, this would be just what the doctor ordered. My cough is better than it has been all winter. Almost gone. And nothing cures the winter blahs like sunshine, white sand and palm trees.

Now I can make it to spring.