Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The wonderful world of 'pico de gallo'

This wonderful little dish can stand alone with chips or be a side, topper, condiment or addition to any meal. Translation 'roosters beak' some say it is because the action you make chopping the veggies is that of a rooster pecking. I don't care why or what it is called, I call it amazing.

who turned out the lights

The beauty of this dish is you can totally manipulate it to fit your taste buds. You can do anything with it and you most likely have all the ingredients on hand. Top eggs, add to guacamole, add to tacos or burritos, add to a pita sandwich, put it in pasta, dip it with chips and sour cream, put on chicken or fish or steak or burgers or in burgers, put it on cheese fries or potato skins. I am not even kidding when I say the possibilities are endless.

It is sooooo simple, also called 'salsa fresca' FRESH, I see a lot of people making it with canned tomatoes and in my opinion you are only shorting yourself.

Summer has ended and we are pulling the last of the crops from our gardens, perfect time to have one last taste of summer before it is all gone

Now remember there really is no wrong way to do this, no wrong amount to add play around find what works for you but here is mine...

1 pint grape tomatoes (diced), I choose those because they tend to be less seedy it does make it more time consuming to cut them all up so you can use whatever tomatoes you have on hand.

1 sweet onion (diced) I used vidalia but red onion or even spring onions are good depending on your 'hot' level.

2 Jalapeno peppers (diced) if you are a really brave soul you can step it up a notch and use habenero, any pepper will do even red or green bell this dish is all about you and what you want and what your tongue can handle!

Juice of half a lemon about 1-2 tbsp (or lime both are great)

fresh cilantro and basil chopped (about 1 TBSP each) Here is another place you can 'own' your pico de gallo use dill for a twist or mint even some parsley play around with herbs they are such amazing things!

1 garlic clove finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

mix it up and there you have it. so simple. so, so good.

my 3 favorite ways to eat it...

In a pita or wrap with avacado and bacon

With chips and sour cream

on grilled chicken or fish.

Try a sweet twist, trade the tomato for watermelon add honey and mint. It is really good as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

You can do so much more when you have so much less.

I have noticed myself dragging this past week after the hurricane. I am not driven, or energetic I am just, blah. When we lost power, the house was cleaner the kids were happier, the coffee was stronger (lol) the meals were amazing. I did so much more when I had less. No TV, internet, phone or ipad, no hot water for 2 hour bubble baths, there it was, time, I had time and I was driven to survive.

Isn't it strange?

Then I got to thinking, maybe I should be a minimalist, I mean what can I really do with 58 pairs of underwear and 18 bras? who needs 115 pairs of socks? Can you really use all 28 mugs that you have been collecting over the years or the china that serves 16? All the knick-knacks and collectibles that I have to dust constantly, what good are they really doing? Why is it we fill our lives so full of items that mean nothing? That new shirt that you saw at The Gap that you are dying to have and will pinch scrimp and save all $80 to buy it, will it really MAKE you happy? Sure, maybe for the first year but then what? Next season will be a whole new line and yet again you will be saving $80 again for another shirt that will last a season. The things that really make me happy... Seeing my children smile, Gavins dimples, Walkers freckles, Avery's laugh. Jake or Dreamer wagging their tails and licking all over my face when I pet them. watching the sunset, sitting at the ocean, getting kisses, snuggle time, standing on a mountain top, or a valley floor...all FREE. Sure, you need money to survive (food, clothing, shelter), but I have 300 cable channels and I bet I watch 10 if that. What are we really doing? Keeping up with the Jones'? who cares who just bought 6 flat screens for every room of their house or has that brand new Escalade, it isn't making them happy, I promise you. Some people do have it all, material and love and can still live with-in their means, but those of us that can't afford that awesome backyard, car, stereo system and top of the line wardrobe and TRY to get it, we drown ourselves so far in debt to have this 'happiness' that was there all along.

So this month when you write that check for that credit card bill or that $800 car payment, or that $5000 house payment. Hug your kids, kiss your spouse, watch the sunset and tell me, which made you happier.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Real life pioneer woman.

If you know me really well you know I am a weather junkie, I love storms, I love extreme weather, so the week before Irene came I had been watching her already. I was already prepared on Tuesday knowing the chaos that was to come when the local meteorologists finally got a clue. (that is a whole different blog post.) Anyway Hurricane Irene came in and caused a lot of destruction in central VA as well as other places(up north took a huge beating, but I've just gotten power back and have no clue who else has gotten the wrath of what was Irene. I know that a lot of you were worried about me, but really, we were fine, annoyed, tired but we were fine...here is what we did. (I really wish I wasn't so overwhelmed that I would have taken more pics but I didn't and the usb cable is missing so until I find that, I can't share what I did take...)

Day 1)So Saturday Morning it was already raining, the wind was beginning to pick up and I had the laptop up with every radar, weather model and trusted meteorologist that I knew to watch. she was coming and she wasn't going to turn in time. I was excited! The power flickered quite a few times, we had at least 6-8 brown outs then around 3 pm it went off and on 3 times then it was out. No power woohooo!!! We had flashlights, charcoal, batteries, canned food we were ready. We had sandwiches for supper since it was still raining. The kids got to have shadow puppet shows with flashlights, the candle light flickered in every room and the cool winds came through the doors. We were having true family time, no computer, tv, cell phones, no ipads just people. It was great.

Day 2)Sunday morning we got up confident that we would have power quickly since we shared a power grid with some large businesses. Jason suggested that we ride around and see what happened and find a cup of coffee for me. We rode into colonial heights, no power anywhere, no traffic lights (I mean literally they were gone at some streets) Streets closed, trees down, houses lost. I suggested we drive west to find power and coffee. We hopped on 95 North and right before the Chester exit at 65 mph and the window cracked an inch I smelled food and told J that I did. I am sure he thought I was crazy but I urged him to get off the exit. Where there is food in the morning coffee is close and at this point it could have been a persons house and I would have paid $10 for a cup o' Joe. Sure enough there was 1 block with power because there is a police station and fire station on that grid. That block also has a dennys, wendys, cracker barrel, chic-fil-a and a hardees. Oh yes a hardees. We hopped in line at hardees which was down the street and around the corner blocking traffic. We stayed in line for a long time, 45 minutes? hour? not sure. When we got up to the screen to order they had a limited menu "sausage biscuit, butter biscuit, gravy and biscuits, hash browns and apple turnovers. All I wanted was coffee we had eggs at the house I could scramble. The kids split a sausage biscuit and each got a small order of hasbrowns and I got a medium coffee and we got one for my mother in law. $8, i am positive they jacked the prices. Happy with my one cup of coffee we started our day. After leaving the in-laws we came home and relaxed outside in the 93 degree heat, let the kids have one last dip in the pool before it got green. It was a good day. In hopes to save some food I fired up the grill. Fixed some home-made chili I had frozen, hotdogs, italian marinated chicken breasts and fried taters, oh, and some princess spaghettios for the princess. The kids were still excited with flashlights and puppet shows, it was another good day. We camped out on the couch, again.

Day 3) Monday, the natives are getting restless-the flies are taking over- when calling the dominion help line the power should be restored between 5-6pm, awesome. this day was full of questions from the children, can we watch tv? no. why? There is no power. Can we play computer? no. why? there is no power. Can we play ipad? no. why? There is no power. Can you turn on the light? no. why? there is no power. you get the idea. I fired up the grill and decided by golly I was having coffee and good food. I put a pot of water on the grill with coffee grounds then another pot with a coffee filter, brewed it then poured it then poured it into a filter over my mug. 1 cup was enough to put hair on your chest but it was coffee and I made it without power. Now food. The kids had scrambled eggs, I made an omelet with mushrooms, onions, green peppers and mozzarella cheese. It was so good. I had plenty of food. I had plenty of charcoal we were doing great. I was determined my family would at the very least eat good. I boiled water on the grill to make sweet tea then decided a slow roasted teriyaki pork loin, baked apples and carrots would be supper. So it was. The kids had chicken noodle soup and grilled (literally) cheese sandwiches. Still a tad annoyed with sleeping on the couch and the fact that flies were now overtaking the house since the doors were open all day. The kids quickly made me forget about it when I heard AB say to G "its almost shadow puppet time" as she watched the sun slip behind the trees. 10pm still no power.

Day 4) Tuesday-no power, a call to dominion says between 11 and 6, okie dokie . The day that I had to become a survivor lol. We were running out of charcoal, The laundry was piling up, Jason's pants had to be ironed. He asked "is there anyway to iron my pants" without hesitation I said YES. What was I thinking was I going to plug it into the sky? The grill was hot and coffee was brewing ah-HA the grill of course. Threw the iron on the grill and Ironed his pants, they may have smelled like charcoal but they were wrinkle free. Scrambled eggs on the grill for the kids a cup of 'hair on your chest joe' for me and I was ready. I babysit on Tuesdays and Thursdays and this Tuesday was no different. At nap-time I had to work hard, I threw laundry in the tub (we have county water so that was 1 good thing, it was cold but it was running water) I scrubbed, twisted, rinsed and wrung 3 small loads of laundry and hung them on the line to dry. Mopped the floors and swept the carpets. J called to ask if there would be enough supper for his parents to eat too. I said yes and started to plan a meal. We had roasted chicken, green beans, fried potatoes and peach cobbler all on the grill. 10pm no power.

Day 5) I'm grouchy, a 6am call to dominion says "there is extensive damage in your area, we have no estimated time of restoration, thank you for your patients" wonderful. Now I understand these guys are working 24hours a day, working hard and restoring power to people when their own homes may be without. I am not mad that I don't have power, I am mad that they were giving false hope, if it is going to be Saturday, tell me Saturday so I can prepare!! An 8am call reveals power may be restored between 5am and 6pm on Thursday. I am out of candles, I have to go find somewhere that has some, some where. I promised the kids I would take them anywhere they wanted to get food, I didn't care if I had to go to Staunton to find it, they were getting a happy meal. They wanted Wendy's, there is one about 2-5 miles away. They each got Chicken nugget kids meal with fries and sweet tea and a plain cheeseburger. Avery got 'dip' She is addicted to condiments. She has been without her 'dip' (ranch dressing) since Sunday, this is detrimental. She asked for 2 packs and dipped her fries, nuggets and burger in it then when she was out of dip-ees she used her finger then her tongue. Did I mention she loves dip? So before running out to find candles I went upstairs to finish organizing our room. As the thought ' It is so hot up here I would love to feel that AC blowing on my face' crossed my mind a familiar beep could be heard in the hallways, THE SMOKE ALARMS!!! The fan started to spin, there was light coming from bulbs, WE HAVE POWER. I wanted to kiss my electric meter. I turned the AC on downstairs, ran the dishwasher, threw a load of clothes in, made supper on my stove and took a HOT shower!!!!

People were buying generators, spending $600 and up for the unit and spending over $40 a day in gasoline. For what? To have lights? To cook? To take a hot shower? To save the $600 of food in the deep freeze, why? I personally think it is crazy, I mean if you have the $$ to blow fine, but really it isn't like we were dying. We weren't hungry ever. We may have been hot but guess what, we could take a cold shower. It was in the 60's at night the breeze was nice. The worst thing was we lost our food and possibly some sanity. A lot of people had it a lot worse, they lost water, their homes and even their loved ones. My prayers are with all of the families affected by Irene and I hope the rest of you guys get your power back fast!!

In hindsight it was great, we were a real family no electronics it was great. Last night was depressing. no conversation just the dings of computers, ipads and the volume on the tvs. I may throw the breaker once a week.