Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Share of Squirrels

With all the bird feeding we do, there is a fair amount of seed that ends up on the ground.  It isn't wasted though.  We have several birds who are ground feeders as well as squirrels who spend the whole day cleaning up the uneaten seeds.  We have gray squirrels, black squirrels and an occasional white squirrel.

Mourning Doves everywhere.

A lot of male cardinals.

Female Cardinal searching for sunflower seeds in the snow.

And then as dusk approaches,

here come the bunnies to see what is left.

Winter Deer Photos 2015

The winter of 2014-2015 brings a lot of deer to the yard looking for food.  Here just a few photos taken from our dining room window.  Fortunately this has been a winter with very little snow so far.  The deer are looking healthy. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Slow Cooker Chocolate Covered Peanuts

With St. Valentine's Day only four days away, I thought I would make a special treat.  This recipe or variations of it have been posted on Facebook many times.  It makes a big batch.  I got 212 pieces of candy.  It cost $18.20 for the ingredients.  You could easily make half a batch.  It does take a long time to spoon out all the melted mixture.  I will give some to the kids and save some for those times when you (or at least me) are turning the house upside down for a piece of chocolate.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Covered Peanuts

16 oz. unsalted dry roasted peanuts
16 oz. salted cocktail peanuts
12 oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips
12 oz. bag of milk chocolate chips
2 - 10 oz. bags of peanut butter chips
24 oz. white almond bark

Layer all of the ingredients in order in a 6-quart slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 2 hours.

Remove the lid and stir everything together.  Combine completely to make sure all the ingredients are melted.

Then drop mounds of mixture onto parchment paper.  I didn't have any parchment paper so I used freezer paper with the shiny side up.  The size depends on how big you want the piece of candy.  I used a generous teaspoon full.  Allow to harden and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  They can also be frozen.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Meal Planning System

I'd like to think that we are organized.  I know my husband is for the most part.  He has three notebooks with recipes in.  One is for desserts, one is for meats and main courses and the other is soups and salads.   He also has my pantry cataloged so we know what we have and which shelf it is on.  I am the fly in his ointment.  When I am making a meal I like knowing if we have something, but then I don't always cross it off the list.  I have learned not to put away some things after grocery shopping until it gets put on the list.

Recently I found out that we are far from organized compared to our daughter.  She is the master. She has all the kid toys in bins which are labeled.  The legos in one bin, trucks in another and on and on. They have a toy room and one wall is devoted to the bins.  Her laminator and her label maker are her best friend.

She shared with me her system for making meals and grocery shopping.  She has a big stack of laminated cards.  On each card is written a main course meal.  She has over a hundred different meals.  Every week her family chooses which meals they would like that week.  It looks like she chose green for chicken meals, red for beef, orange for pork, light blue for soup etc.  I see she also wrote where she can find the recipe.  On each card she wrote recipe box or the name of the cookbook or website.

On the back of each card is the list of ingredients it takes to make the recipe.

From here she makes her grocery list.  She may have some of the ingredients on hand, so everything doesn't have to go on the list.  For example, if black beans were on sale in the past and she bought four cans, then they don't go on the list.  She cuts coupons for the good buys she knows she will need in the future.  When the list is completed, she arranges it according to the map of the store or stores.  It streamlines the buying process.  This seems like a lot of work to set up, but when it is done it saves hours of time not to mention being able to feed her family real food.  Very seldom do they eat out.  In the morning, she knows before going to work what they will have for dinner (or supper as some of us say).  If it requires the crockpot, then in it goes.  Her favorite appliance is the pressure cooker as it is mine.  You can cook a whole meal faster than take out.  I am pretty impressed with her system although any of you who know Heather will not be surprised.