Meal Prep for Country Cooks

Meal prep is something that many of us leave until the last moment. I’m not talking about taking the meat out of the freezer or refrigerator. I’m talking about chopping up all the vegetables that go in that soup, stew, one-pot meal. I’m talking celery, carrots, peppers, onions. (Onions are the worst in my humble opinion!)

Why not just buy it?

Before you jump up and tell me that you can just buy those items already chopped up, stop and think about it. What is cheaper, buying the already chopped up items and having to take what is available, or doing it yourself and including the items that your family likes? Last time I checked prices in the grocery store, it was cheaper to buy the produce in the produce section or at the produce market than to pay someone else to do all that chopping.

There are tons of books/pins/blogs that detail how to accomplish this. I love to look through these places for ideas. I don’t have a problem with the ideas they present, just the quantities!

It’s just my husband and myself, that’s it! I don’t need to cook a meal for more than 2 unless we are talking about soups. So what’s more convenient for me is ingredients that are prepped in such a way that I can simply measure out how much I need.

I don’t have time!

I got this idea the second time I bought a bag of celery stalks and part of them went bad before I could use them all. I grabbed a small cookie tray that would fit in my Side-by-side freezer and lined it with parchment paper. Then I grabbed my celery, cutting board and knife before starting to chop. 5 – 10 minutes later I had the tray filled with chopped celery. I popped it in the freezer and waited. About 2 hours later, I came back, and the celery was frozen enough that I could dump it from there into a freezer container. The pieces remained separated enough that I could easily just get what I needed out. I repeated this until I had all the celery done.

I took one large onion and cut it up using a mandolin slicer. It took maybe 5 minutes to do. This is going into the refrigerator for use. I’ll cut a few more up and freeze them to use later.

This is sliced Starfruit. A friend of mine has a tree in her backyard. She has started freezing the slices and then adding them to drinks instead of ice cubes.

Think about what you want to store the frozen vegetables in. I use a mixture of freezer bags and freezer containers. This makes it easier for me to see what is in the bags. Just remember to date the bags/containers so you know when you froze them.

My recipe calls for a different type of measurement!

Yeah, so do mine. My favorite cooking magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, once tackled this question. According to their tests, a small onion = 1/2 cup of diced onions, a medium onion = 1 cup, and a large onion = 2 cups!

Now, of course, you probably won’t only be dealing with just onions. Which led me to another website, https://www.howmuchisin.com/produce_converters Great website! Having found this, I plan to go back through my favorite recipes and make notes.

Now that I gave you some ideas, go forth and conquer! With all those vegetables already prepared, cooking becomes so much more enjoyable!

Sharing is Caring

We’ve all heard that little phrase at one point or another. The speaker could have been talking about our toys, our school supplies, or any number of other things that can be shared. Sharing is a good thing!

When it comes to blogs, sharing can be vital to our success as a blogger. After all, we want new readers to find and follow our blog. Relying on search engines isn’t going to get you very far.

Sharing isn’t going to replace searches but it can bring you more exposure. Across the bottom of most blog posts is a line of buttons that are a quick way to share the post. As a blogger, I include them but never really looked at the resulting stats.

Unexpected!

The other day I took a look at my sharing stats. Imagine my surprise when I saw that my blog has been shared a whopping 10,000+ times on WhatsApp! So thank you folks, that’s an avenue of sharing I never thought of!

The Devil’s in the Details

What is about a book series that keeps you interested and coming back for more? Before you give me a quick answer, stop and think harder about it. Yes, the characters, the relationships, the action, all that will play a huge part in whether you read more than the first few chapters.

There’s been more than one highly rated book series that I’ve tried but just couldn’t keep interested in. Honestly, I’ve always wondered why I didn’t like the classics more than I do. I kept coming back to the question of “Why?”

Recently my husband and I started buying the complete series on DVD of several TV series that are no longer available any other way. It took watching a couple of the ones from the 1970’s for the reason to dawn on me.

When you contrast those shows with some of today’s shows, the sheer amount of detail just jumps out at you. Rather than using studio sets for the indoor shots, they would shoot in actual places. That gives you a much more realistic feeling.

In the same way, it’s the details of the story that makes it so much more enjoyable. It’s the difference between filming on the studio backlot where everything is carefully staged and filming on a city street.

So, if you’re the writer, please include the details! As a reader, we need to let the authors know we appreciate their efforts!

Taking a look back!

I was recently asked where I came up with the name “Reluctant Retiree.” In all honesty, it’s because I had to “retire” even though I didn’t want to.

My husband and I had just moved to Florida to be nearer to my father. Neither one of us were having any luck finding good jobs. We’d settled for delivering papers at night. When my husband had to go to the hospital for a problem he was having, the ER doctor set him up with an appointment for a Primary Care Doctor.

Imagine our surprise when the first words out of the doctor’s mouth were “Are you on Disability yet?” We had tried several times before to sign him up but never got anywhere. The doctor had him signed up for a VA pension within a month. The only catch? It was based on family need so I had to leave my job (retire) so we remained eligible.

Since the amount of the pension was enough to cover our bills, I reluctantly retired! My blog started as a way to share my favorite books with others.

So there you have it! The story behind the name!

Small Space Decorating – Outside Edition

Previously I’ve shown you how you can decorate your small home with simple things such as changing your dining table centerpieces. It can make a big difference in how your house/apartment looks.

But what about the outside of your home? I live in a single wide trailer in Florida so I have a small amount of space. It still takes some planning to change the looks outside.

Decorating your mailbox is one easy improvement you can make. The covers are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. If your mailbox is metal, there are magnets on the edge of the cover that hold it in place. If it’s plastic, there are small holes punched along the edge that you can use zip ties to secure it with.

As veterans, we always have an American flag out, but on the other side is a different story. Here I use large garden flags. I tend to change these with the seasons!

I have a number of the smaller flags that I use. Here are the three that I have out right now. The one on the left is positioned so that when I am backing in, I can use it as a guide for how far over I should be. If I’m doing it right, that flag will be just to the right of my car fender.

You can only go so far with flower pots so try adding colorful solar lights to add interest to your space.

Don’t forget the special appeal of garden statues! These come in all sizes and can also be changed to reflect the seasons.

That’s all I have for you now. Stick around to see what else I can find to decorate my space!

Special Decorations from Nature!

Friends of ours who live in a Double-Wide trailer choose to decorate their place by adding swags over the outside doorway. Imagine the surprise when they discovered the a pair of doves made a nest in the greenery and raised a family!

Fixing the Bike Trail

Back on September 14, a “Road Closed” sign showed up at the trail crossing by my house. Looking down the trail, I saw a group of pylons blocking off part of bridge. Being the good nosey neighbor that I am, I walked down to see what was going on. Here’s what I saw….

A chunk of the trail had fallen through. Why?
It seems that the rocks and whatever that was surrounding the drain pipe had finally washed out.

So, they brought in the big front end loaders. Now remember, this trail is just barely wide enough for a pickup truck to go down. So getting all the equipment in place was not exactly easy.

They placed a proper storm drain pipe made of concrete under the surface. You can just see it in the photo. Then they built the sides out of concrete.

Those spillways were something that had been needed for a while. Finally after 2 months of work, it was finished.

Hopefully those big rocks will help keep the weeds away!

Time For A Change

It’s been one of those weeks here at my house. Actually, to be honest, it’s been that way for a few weeks. RL has taken me away from doing more than just blasé book reviews for a while now.

That’s going to change. I’m tired of going back through old book series. For example, Milly Taiden’s Paranormal Dating Agency. These last few books are ones that I just can’t seem to force myself to even finish. After looking at the reviews, it looks like I’m not the only one having problems with it.

Julia Mills’s Dragon Guard is another series that I seem to have a “love-hate” relationship with. The last few books feature the MacAllen clan which is okay. It looks like she is spinning them off into a new series, Dragon Intelligence Agency. I will admit, I don’t do books with cartoon covers so there are several of her holiday Dragon Guard books that I won’t be reading.

Anna Lowe and Heather Long are another two authors that seem to be slowing down and failing to keep my interest. For both of them, their most recent series seems to be dragging on with no end in sight.

So where does that leave me???

For awhile at least, you can expect fewer actual book reviews. Delta James has several new series started that have captured my interest. The packs and families that she began in “Wayward Mates” and “Tangled Vines” have had children. The story of this next generation is being told in “Fated Legacy.” I was amused to see that a number of the clubs mentioned in these series also show up in other series by her.

I want to post a few more “Lifestyle” posts. Cooking, decorating, just general “what’s going on in my world” posts. It’s fall now and for most of country, our focus is changing. The weather is changing and there are major holidays coming up. I’d like to capitalize on those.

So stick around, and we’ll all enjoy a new phase of the journey together.
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