Empty Nest Meals

Fast Food

Sometimes I am surprised by how fast I can throw a meal together. Since I have started working part-time, we have had to adjust our lifestyle to suit an odd schedule. Yesterday afternoon, between clients, I stopped at the grocery store and bought two pork chops. I ran home, popped them into a big cast iron kettle, scrubbed and added a couple potatoes and some baby carrots.  I covered the pot and put it in the oven. I cut an acorn squash in half, scooped out the seeds and put the halves upside down on a cookie sheet. It went in the oven, too. When I got home an hour later, it was all done and we had a lovely meal!! Including the stop at the store, it took less than 20 minutes to prepare.  I served it with some applesauce (home canned) and frozen blueberries. yummmmm…..


Harvest Season

Whether you are putting a garden to bed and getting everything put by for winter or doing your shopping at the grocery store, it’s time to think about winter. It’s a season of warm food.  Spicy cookies and pies. Soups. Bread. All of the things you didn’t even want to think about during the hot summer. Here in Wisconsin, summer is very short, and some days were cool enough that I did make soup and bread, but this is the real season for it.

Apples and pumpkins and other late-season produce are readily available, and it’s a good time to start processing them for winter. Apples are so useful and versatile – it’s easy (but time-consuming, I admit) to make applesauce, cider, apple butter, apple pies and cakes and breads, and to freeze slices and diced apples for use later in the winter. Dried apples, too, are a sweet treat.

Pumpkin is good in a variety of forms. The pies are the most common form, but pureed pumpkin is good in soups, bread and muffins and even pancakes. Sweet pumpkins can be eaten like other squash. Last year, I used the pressure cooker to cook pumpkin. Cut off the stem, cut in pieces, scoop out the seeds and pressure cook for a little while.  When it’s safe to remove it from the cooker, spoon out the flesh. No need to puree… it’s already done.  If I had cooked mine for one minute longer, I could have pureed the skin, too, because it was so soft. If it’s too runny, cook it down. Freeze it in Ziploc bags.

Even if you don’t have a garden or orchard of your own, it’s a good season for putting food by.

Feeding a Family

Pumpkin Pancakes


I made these for breakfast this morning. I tripled the batch, thinking I would freeze leftovers, but I don’t know if there will be any left to freeze. They were very good!!

I made mine with regular pumpkin. I cooked up a big one yesterday and froze most of the puree, but I left out one package to try this recipe.

I used sour milk instead of fresh (because I had it!) and I eliminated the salt because it already had so much sodium from the baking powder. I used white sugar and 1/2 WW flour and 1/2 white flour.

One thing – they are pretty sweet, so if you like to put syrup on your pancakes, you might want to eliminate the sugar from the batter. I had one pancake without syrup and it was perfect.

I was afraid that they wouldn’t be fluffy, but they were! They tasted a little like pumpkin pie, of course, with all that spice in them.  YUMMY!


Mail Call

I’ve been a slacker lately and not been shopping much. If I stay on top of things and shop at least once a week, I do better, but I am lazy and like to stay at home.

In the mail today: A full-size can of Progresso High Fiber Chicken Tuscany soup and ten coupons for $1.10 off a single can at the store!

Also in today’s mail, a full-size bottle of L’Oreal Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair and four addition smaller samples with coupons. That will go really well with yesterday’s mail: Olay’s new ProX Wrinkle Smoothing Cream. That also came with coupons.

I’m seeing a theme here.

Family Life, Miscellany

College Con’t

Guys do not wear bathrobes. I checked with some male college students. They wear gym shorts and a tshirt. Or towels.

We are starting to set aside some of the toiletries. We have so many bottles of free shampoo, bars of soap, tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant… so it’s mostly clothing and household items he will need.

School supplies! As homeschoolers, we just didn’t do a lot of  “school supplies” shopping. And, of course, we don’t really know what he will need.  Notebooks and pens to start with, I suppose. I’d better track down those experienced college students again and ask more questions.

Family Life, Miscellany

College Bound

For a taxpayer-funded institution, the state university is sure expensive! I know private colleges are higher, but DH’s private college has many scholarships and discounts, so his education is actually cheaper than it will be for DS#3 to attend the public school.

Every time we turn around, there is another letter or email wanting us to mail them $100 by yesterday.  We found some lists of what Matthew will need for dorm life. One list is four pages long!  He won’t need all of the items, of course, and we have some of it here at home.  Something we hadn’t considered is a cell phone. There is cable television in every room, but there are no landline telephones!  We’ve never used cell phones, and we are not going to take on an unnecessary monthly bill, so we bought a prepaid tracfone. We got a very good deal on it! Matthew will have to buy his own refill minutes, but he has a phone to start with.

I have been worried about sheets. Dorm beds are XL twins, which are hard to find except in the back-to-school sales. They go on sale at Kmart tomorrow! In addition, I have been offered a brand new set by a friend who couldn’t use hers. Towels. A Bathrobe. My son has never worn a bathrobe in his life. Do guys really wear bathrobes in the dorms? Oh, and there are beds, but they really want you to rent loft kits so you can put a desk in your room.  Loft kits – $80

The list goes on and on. We should have had all of this taken care of months ago, but we didn’t. It’s amazing how many little and big expenses there are!