"Let's be cheerful"! We have no more right to steal the brightness out of the day for our own family than we have to steal the purse of a stranger. Let us be as careful that our homes are furnished with pleasant & happy thoughts as we are that the rugs are the right color and texture & the furniture comfortable and beautiful"! Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

freedom in the kitchen

Here is a peek at how a lazy cook makes magic.  First, wait until everyone says they're hungry before deciding what to make for dinner.  Next decide that home-made pasta would be perfect...... Stay with me.

The pasta machine I purchased for $5.00 at a yard sale a few years ago.  Amazing machine!

While making the pasta try to figure out what would be good on it.  Now!

This is where decisions made weeks ago come in to play.  A couple of weeks ago the grocery store had boneless skinless chicken breast for a terrific price.  When I see it for a good price I buy extra.  When I see it for a terrific price I stock up.

Right when I get it home I repackage the advantage pack ( the big long thing they sell you when you are trying to save money that couldn't possibly fit in your freezer and even if it does you would never be able to separate the amount you need later) in quart size freezer bags.

Some of the breasts I cube for stir fry ( I even pour some teriyaki sauce in some of the bags) the rest are cut in half and repackaged 6 halves to a bag because Cory eats 2 and there are 5 of us still at home.

The other wonderful freezer stock that I always have on hand is the organic frozen broccoli from Grocery Outlet.  I always have at least four bags.  Sometime I'll post my recipe for potato broccoli soup.  It's fast, easy and delicious.

I'm going to sidetrack for a moment here to talk about a hobby of mine.  I like to read cookbooks.

inspirational informationally
This is the book that taught me how to make vanilla sugar.   You can't imagine the fragrant goodness.

I have always incorporated the Charlotte Mason philosophy to our home school.  That's because before having a label for it, I knew it had been how I learned best as a young person. Charlotte Mason encourages the use of  'living books' rather than textbooks.  Textbooks are only to be used to reference facts or as a timeline. Living books are books written by someone who is directly related to their subject.

When I was in junior high I became fascinated with marine biology.  I pored over National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau.  Passionate words and seemingly unreal, beautiful, glossy pictures transported me.

So, what does that have to do with making dinner quickly for my hungry family?

Inspirational visually - don't you just want to jump up and plant an herb garden?  Can't do that (there's snow on the ground for goodness sake) so I'll make some herbal tea and scones for the kids and I today, and maybe we can plan our herb garden for spring.  Google: herbs and how they are used. :)    

By reading beautiful, interesting cookbooks you begin to learn the whys and whens of food. With this knowledge comes freedom!

Freedom to explore with food expecting the result to be exactly what you imagined. Obviously, lot's of cooking along with the reading is necessary.  But with the inspiration of passionate cooks in your noggin you'll be excited and ready to try new things.

I'm just encouraging you to strive for freedom in the kitchen because with it comes impressive, delicious meals with minimal effort.

So, I keep saying minimal effort in the same post as homemade pasta.

If you've never made it before you should try it.  It's fun!  I'll show you how soon and you don't need a machine.

al dente

So, back to the pasta dish.  First  put the water to boil for the pasta. Then goes the chicken, into the hot olive oil.

When it begins to brown I add the broccoli and a couple of cloves of pressed garlic.  Push it around now and then.

At this point I still didn't know what I was going to do with all of it.  Now, I've only made fettucini twice in my life because of all of the butter, cream and cheese, but I love it!  I saw the noodles boiling in the pot next to the skillet and I knew that's what it wanted to be.  Here again is where our freedom comes in to play.

I didn't want all of the fat and calories that come with traditional fettucini and in my old 'slave' days I would have searched and searched for a lower fat recipe.  I then would have been a slave to the ingredients called for.

A quick mental inventory told me I had parmesan (I always keep a tub of grated parmesan in the door of the freezer for a light sprinkle on spaghetti or soup) and half and half.  I turned down the heat under the skillet and poured on the half and half (there was only about 1/3 a cup left in the carton, fine, I'm no slave) then dumped on some parmesan.

I didn't stir, just pushed gently and let it all warm.  I wanted this to flavor all of the pasta so I made the decision to throw on about a tablespoon of butter at the last minute.

decision to add butter

Liberally grind pepper, we like pepper.  Making the pasta was a decision I made because we love it and even though it takes a little more time I decided it was time I had.  It took about 1/2 an hour.  The rest of the dish took maybe 20 minutes.

Delicious on the pasta!

I hope you are inspired to get in the kitchen and try something new.  Be realistic ( "if I do this, what can I really expect"? ) about your ingredients and what they will do and you will be on your way to freedom in the kitchen.

Blessings,  Debbie


  1. Oh YUM! I love anything pasta! This looks so delicious! Thanks for linking up today! :)

  2. Well, I guess you posted this in the days when you didn't have so many readers - you certainly have a lot of them now!!

    This is great, Debbie! Although making pasta at the last minute would make my stomach churn. You must be a calm person. Still, I have to say I think I'm going in that direction - I can see it. Deo gratias!

    And thanks to you for mentioning this post!


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