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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Becoming A Domestic Goodwife: My Mid-Life Crisis

Our family has been un-OR-under/employed for nearly a year. Totality of the unemployment rooted its ugly head in February with exception to the little bit of substitute teaching DG has been able to garner that has helped to purchase groceries, gas, etc. By all accounts, I'm living in a crisis: This is my mid-life crisis. It will be the only one I will embrace and in turn grow from with its sufferings and experiences. It's not fun being broke. Keep in mind that not everyone qualifies for unemployment or even state aid - so broke we must pass through as we journey to a better day. It's not enjoyable seeking assistance from family and the community. It is humbling and educating. It is a period of mourning and attempting not to encroach others as well as being an encourager to those in my home. Moving forward is the goal. Employment is needed for both myself and my husband, summer employment between school years for DG and AJS would be a blessing too.


Moving Forward: I am for hire. I am an administrative assistant / debtor bankruptcy paralegal seeking employment in any legitimate field for any respectable job. I'll take a long-term job, a short-term job, a temporary job, a part-time job, contract work, etc. I will work. In the meantime, I pray my spouse and children will have the desire and the fortitude to move forward and conquer the self-defeat of down times to find work and hold gainful employment.


I cannot change the economy nor can I motivate or change the people around me. What I can change is my attitude, my altitude, and myself. If it is going to be, it is going to be up to my Lord and me. What can I do? I can continue to embrace this newfound domestic lifestyle, frugal, lifestyle. I can commit to my Lord my time, my energy, and my talents. I can volunteer. I can continue to seek employment. I can pray. I can wait upon my Lord. I can find strength in his Word. I can be humble and I can wait for, in His time, the storms of life to change as I wait on Him until He will billow me toward higher sailing.


So I cry, I write, I cry some more, I cook, I cry, I write some more, I clean, I cry out to God, I listen to music, I sing, I pray and I look for work. I spend time with family and friends. I read my Bible. I worship and fellowship and will volunteer.


I must also begin working again on this temple that the Holy Spirit resides inside, as it isn't too fit. Health issues are a burden in everyday activities so I must continue to tame the high blood pressure and work on life-style adjustments to treat the rheumatoid arthritis and hbp. I've been encouraged by family to seek disability but I just do not yet feel like that it what the Lord wants of me. I am still able, I am willing and I want to work but some days my body is just slow. I struggle. I know I need to work, I want to work. What's a girl to do? Lord speak to me.


I am a vessel. I am in the potter's hands being molded. I am being taught to trust, to be humble, to bow before Him, to seek Him, to respect Him, to Honor Him, to glorify Him in ALL things, ALL trials, ALL circumstances. I am being taught the fine line between being in the between: in between my heavenly home and this old world, intrinsically being in between adult child, wife, mother and grandmother, and the in between of growing in Christ (putting off the old and embracing the new).


Becoming a Domestic Goodwife isn't too bad of a spot to be in a mid-life crisis if you engage it and run with it. I am having the best time in the kitchen teaching myself to cook. I am enjoying the light cleaning, the homemaking and the time with my kids that are still at home.


Hopes and dreams do not die with change of circumstance nor should they be cast to the wayside. Don't live in denial of the present trial but embrace it, move forward, work through it, conquer it and in the meantime look for the sunny side of life and climb up. Pray for others, volunteer, be productive, use your hands and your mind and if I did not stress it, again, continue to pray and stay in the Word.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Keep On The Sunny Side,
Always On The Sunny Side.
Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life.
It Will Help Us Every Day,
It Will Brighten All The Way
If We Keep On The Sunny Side Of Life.
-- Ada Blenkhorn (1899)

Curried Split Pea & Vegetable Soup

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.25


Curried Split Pea
and Vegetable Soup
 Recipe derived from combination of several and various versions
of vegetable and split pea soup recipes.

INGREDIENTS:
1 - 3.5 oz pkg sliced deli pepperoni, dice to a minced bacon bits size
1 - 16 oz pkg dried split peas, rinsed & drained
1 - 2.2 oz box beefy onion soup mix
4 beef-bouillon cubes
1 large white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & diced into 1/2" bites
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled & diced into 1/2" bites
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1' florets
3 tbsp curry powder
3 tsp cumin seed, whole
1 tbsp minced garlic flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil "EVOO"


DIRECTIONS:


Over medium high heat saute in the "EVOO" the onion, bell pepper, pepperoni, 2 tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tbsp garlic flakes and one pkg of beefy onion soup mix.


Bring to boil in large stock pot 8 cups water, beef-bouillon cubes and second package of beefy onion soup mix, split peas, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower. Once boiling add sauteed mixture and return to boil adding also the tomato paste, tomatoes, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tbsp garlic flakes and 1 bay leaf. Stir and bring to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer one hour or
until peas are at tenderness desired. 


Top with Shredded Cheese
And Sour Cream


Serve with
Warm Baked Bread or Tortillas.

Friday, June 24, 2011

VEGETABLE CHILE

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.23

VEGETABLE CHILE

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups Lima beans, dry
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil “EVOO”
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 medium white onion, chopped
3 whole, non-seeded, dried red peppers
Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic Seasoning
Tastefully Simple Garlic/Paprika Seasoning
salt
pepper
chili powder
cumin, ground
2 medium zucchini, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
15 oz corn on the Cob, sliced off Cob (or 1 – 15 ¼ oz can whole corn)
Tastefully Simple Wahoo Chili Seasoning
2/3 of a 28 oz can tomatoes, diced and drained
6 oz can tomato paste
cumin, whole
(SUBSTITUTE TASTEFULLY SIMPLE SEASONINGS WITH CLOVES OF GARLIC, GROUND PAPRIKA, ETC.) IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THESE ITEMS


DIRECTIONS:
In a large pot place selected Lima beans, cover with two inches of water, bring to boil and boil 5 – 7 minutes. Turn off heat and allow Lima beans to stand 1 – 3 hours soaking (or pre-soak beans overnight). Rinse Lima beans in colander and return to large pot.

Over medium-high heat warm EVOO, add and saute the onion, bell peppers, 1 tbsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic, 1 tbps Tastefully Simple Garlic/Paprika, three dried red peppers, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, ½ tbsp New Mexico red chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin until seasonings are well mixed into pepper mixture and the onion is clear.

Add onion/pepper mixture to the Lima beans in large pot. Add the zucchini, carrots, celery and corn to the pot. Add water to cover all ingredients by at least 1 – 2 inches. Add additional salt/pepper for taste if needed. Bring to boil all these ingredients and then simmer pot until Lima beans are tender.

Prior to Adding Tomato Products


Once Lima beans are tender add can of tomato paste to pot and mix in well, add diced tomatoes to pot, add liquid to bring back to one inch over top of ingredients in the pot. Add 5 pinches of whole cumin seed to pot, add a dime size amount of salt/pepper from the palm of your hand to the mixture, top off with about ½ tbsp more Tastefully Simple Wahoo Chili Seasoning (more ground NM chili pepper and paprika if not using the seasoning). On high heat bring these to another boil and the place on simmer for another 20 – 30 minutes.
Vegetable Chile



Serve hot with corn tortillas, Mexican-style cheese and sour cream.

YIELD: A HUGE BIG POT of CHILE SOUP







Thursday, June 23, 2011

Corn Meal Patties

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.22


Corn Meal Patties

INGREDIENTS:
 
Corn Meal to the amount you feel like making
      (I usually estimate one cup cornmeal per person)
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
Boiling Water
Canola Oil
Salt and other seasonings
     (we like to use Tastefully Simple Wahoo Chili or NM Red Chili Powder)
 
DIRECTIONS:
 
Combine Corn Meal, Salt and Sugar. 

Seasoned Corn Meal Mixture

Ready to Fry

Boiling Water/Cornmeal



Add Boiling Water until you have the consistency of paste.
 
 
Drop by spoonfuls onto heated oil in a skillet. Flatten droppings so that you have a flat cake like presence about ¼ “ thickness.
 
 
Allow to cook in bubbly oil until edges are browned and firm. Add any seasonings you care to add to the non-cooked side at this point. Plain with a little salt is ALWAYS good but if you want a little kick to it add some chile or cumin seasoning to it too. Once side one is browned, flip patty and allow second side with seasonings to brown.
 
 
Remove from skillet to drain rack to allow excess oil to drain and continue process until all patties have been cooked adding more oil to pan as needed to complete process.



ENJOY!  Delicious with butter or plain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When I listen...the Music is there...the Words of God are there...

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda


Stop...Listen...God speaks

For years the voice in my head (ie.. GOD) has spoken. So many thoughts, stories, words to begin but yet never realized or placed on paper. I would walk around with dialogue, words and thoughts never recorded or written because I did not stop and listen and record.  I would always after the fact think to myself, "oh that was good I should have caught that on paper".  I have just recently begun to stop, listen and pull out my phone and use my notepad or pull out a sheet of paper and write.

Twenty-six years ago I took the old manual typewritter, a table, some paper and pencils out to an old box car where I sat up shop because I was going to be a writer. The words didn't flow and I gave up too soon. The fall of 1985 found me studying music but music theory scared me away. I've never stopped having a desire to write or study music.

I've written three items this year. I call them songs and if you bear with me I'll hum/sing them for you. Once the piano is tuned I plan to finish putting notes between the lines of measures.

I desire to go back and finish the degree in music. I have for several years. I have such a pure love for music, the notes, the words, the feelings and thoughts that are conveyed. I just love music and I fully believe God is preparing me in my lifes journey for yet still greater works through music in his timing.

So for now I'll work on getting the piano tuned, picking up a guitar to learn to play and putting to music the words He has given me. I'm going to continue to listen to that still small voice and STOP when I hear his words and put them to paper (notepad) so they do not vanish like the wind any longer. I will continue to study His WORD so I am spot on in these gifts from God.  Eventually the time will be right for me to continue my music education.   Until then prehaps I will find a way to conquer that long ago fear and dive into music theory.  I'll pick up some books, pull out my old college music text books and sit myself down at the piano to learn, really learn, the theory of music so I am ready when God says now is the time to return to school.

Thank you Jesus for dreams and goals and life lessons.

I'm listening and I will follow. Lead on dear Lord.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.03



Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole


From the section Meatless Main Courses
pg. 141
The Best Slow Cooker Cookbook Ever
by NatalieHaughton
Makes 5 to 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 (14 1/2 oz) can chunky salsa
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
5 corn tortillas
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (2 1/4 oz) can sliced ripe olives, drained
1 (15 1/4 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained


DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste, beans, corn, green chiles, cumin and garlic powder. Mix well. Ladle about 1 cup of this mixture in to the bottom of a 4-quart electic slow cooker; spread evenly. top with 1 1/2 tortillas, cutting to fit as necessary. Spread on 1/3 of the remaining tomato mixture. Repeat these layers 2 more times, ending with the rest of the tomato mixture; spread evenly over the top. Sprinkle the sliced olives over all.

2. Cover and cook on the low heat setting about 5 hours. Serve Hot.




This is basically a black bean and cut corn dish. We served this with the Mexican rice, sour cream, cilantro, avocado and shredded cheese.

Mexican Rice

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.03



Mexican Rice

Original Version of  Modified Recipe Can Be Viewed Here:

Check out the above link for the originial recipe. I doubled and added to recipe and it turned out somewhat like a recipe my mother use to make. Here is my tasty version:

INGREDIENTS:
3 tbsp canola oil
2 cups onion, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 cup green onion, chopped
2 green onion heads, whole head of stalk stem of stalk removed
2 cups green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups Jasmine rice
3 cubes chicken boullion
28 oz can of diced tomato
2 tsp New Mexico red chili powder
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Tastefully Simple Whahoo Chili Seasoning
1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prep your product. Combine onion, garlic, green onion, bell pepper, serrano pepper in one bowl. Combine seasonings in another bowl. Set aside rice. Boil 1 cup water to melt 3 cubs boullion, add to this mix once disovled remaining water to equal 3 cups. Combine chicken water and can of diced tomnatoes (including liquid from diced tomatoes).

2. Heat oil in a pan (I used our spaghetti pot).

3. Saute the onions, garlic, green pepper, green onion, serrano pepper with 1 tsp of the seasoning mix until tender, about 5 - 7 minutes.

4. Add the remaining seasoning mix to the onion/pepper mixture, mixing well. Add the rice and mix well. Add the liquid/tomato mixture.

5. Bring rice mixture to a boil, reduce heatm cover and simmer untiil the rice is tender. About 20 minutes.

Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.02


Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce


From the section Meatless Main Courses
pg. 146
The Best Slow Cooker Cookbook Ever
by NatalieHaughton
Makes about 7 cups

INGREDIENTS:
3 1/2 to 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 large red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart electric slow cooker, mix together the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, red onion, olive oil, garlic, dried basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

2. cover and cook on the low heat setting 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

3. Stir in the sugar, vinegar, and fresh basil. Increase the heat setting to high and cook, uncovered, 1/2 hour longer to thicken the sauce slightly.




I actually doubled this recipe and made it in my 8-quart CrockPot. It turned out pretty good (a little too much onion using two large-but still tasted good) and I was able to take and make two 4-cup freezer bags of sauce for two future meals. Peeling tomatoes is not easy. I still need a lesson on this technique but it was an excellent opportunity to talk with God about how he was peeling away layers of my life and what he is preparing me for me in the future.

Ratatouille

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda
Tested in Cizon's Kitchen
on 2011.06.01

Ratatouille
From the section Meatless Main Courses
pg. 143
The Best Slow Cooker Cookbook Ever
by Natalie Haughton
Makes 6 to 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
Salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp dried basil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed through a press
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 3 medium)
1/2 tsp freshly gound pepper
1 large bell pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
1 (5 3/4 oz) can pitted ripe olives, drained and coarsely chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced

DIRECTIONS:
1. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt; let stand in a colander 1/2 to 1 hour to drain. Press out excess moisture. Rinse the eggplant with water and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Place the eggplant in a 5- or 6-quart electric slow cooker. Add the onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, olive oil, basil, garlic, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well.

3. Cover and cook on the high heat setting 3 hours, until the vegetables are tender but still hold their shape. Stir in the tomatoe paste, olives and fresh basil. Serve hot, at room tempature, or chilled.


We enjoyed this dish with dallops of sour cream and fresh cilantro as well as with parmesean-garlic toasted bread. Very yummy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vegetarian Crock Pot Adventures & Other Domestic Aspirations

© 2011 Cizon Sauceda

This week a has been one of chopping, storing, freezing, research and cooking.  I don't cook.  I don't usually like to cook but I can no longer be the Take Out Queen so I must begin cooking, again.  Yes, again.  Yes, Cizon CAN COOK.  It's been a number of years since I was last found in the kitchen during the evening slaving, oops, loving, over the evening meal preparations.  Looking back I would say 1997/1998/1999 may have been the last few years that I regularly cooked nightly.  Like so many other dual working parent households we began grabbing take out or eating out nightly.  Yes, nightly.  I would say that out of seven nights a week we would eat/grab fast food or pizza out 4 - 6 depending on the week and what was  happening in our home (or how exhausted I was that evening) and the other nights our resident cook, Chris, took care of meal preparations.

In 1997 I discovered a book that would enable me to throw everything into a pot and let it simmer and cook all day to make my life easier.  It was revolutionary to my young mind and I was determined to purposefully begin preparing family meals much more easily.  Well it goes without saying that the book collected dust for fourteen years and just recently resurfaced while we moved into our new home.  The book, **The Best Slow Cooker Cookbook Ever by Natalie Haughton and published by Harper Collins Publishers, is easily broken down into eight distinctive chapters covering Appetizers and Snacks, Soups and Chowders, Chilis and Stews, Chicken and Turkey, Meaty Mainstays, Meatless Main Courses, Side Dishes and Condiments, and last but not least Desserts and Beverages.

At the moment we are checking out Meatless Main Courses to satisfy a meatless budget and Gabi's vegetarian whims.  Not everyone is hip on this new adventure.  Chris continues to claim he can't live without meat and Andrew continues to become more picky.  Chris eats and admits it wasn't too bad and Andrew finds other things to eat.  I told Andrew today he may just have to get a job to begin buying/preparing his own meals if he isn't going to eat with us.  I make him sit with us at the table to eat so tonight he pulled out the peanut butter and jelly....makes a mom proud!  LOL - you know I always told my mom that I could live on peanut butter and coffee - maybe that is Andrew's motto too.

Now that we are settling into the new home I am diving into the kitchen not necessarily out of necessity (yes as nine months of under/unemployment still loom in our home it is necessary) but also because I want to be there, Yes, Cizon wants to cook!  I also want to bake and learn to decorate cakes and make sweets and pastries too.  I HAVE RECLAIMED THE KITCHEN from Chris, kids, dog and cats (ok, I still have to fight Joe with his barking and run the cats out of the room- but I'm winning still).  I unpacked and put away the kitchenware and plan to make it one of my favorite places to be in the coming days, years, decades.  I am also working on a scrapping/card making area in my living room as well as a place to sew.  Yes, I did say SEW.  Really.  REALLY!  I was thinking the other day about how Home Economics should be required of all high school students in order to graduate from high school.  I think I would have been a bit more prepared for life if it had been.  Maybe if I had listened more to Mom and MeeMaw too as they attempted to teach me home economics first hand I would know my way around a kitchen a little better.  Never a better time than the present time to get on with the show and learn how to be DOMESTIC!  Hey I'm only 44!  I plan to live to 121 the Lord willing so I am still young at heart and have a lifetime to learn!

Tonight's crockpot sensation was entitled Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole.  It was tasty but like Chris stated I think it needed some meat.  It is made up of black beans, corn, salsa, green chili, spices and corn tortilla.  I'll post the recipe so you can try it too if you want to check it out.



I googled mexican rice and came up with a recipe similar to one mom made when I was growing up and made that to go with dinner and it turned out pretty good too (recipe to be posted).  I do want to try CrockPot Enchilada's again but I will modify the recipe and will be using enchilada sauce in lieu of salsa as well as add chicken to it which should satisfy several palates in our home.

We've enjoyed Ratatouille and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce from the CrockPot this week.  We were surprised at how well we enjoyed eggplant and zucchini in the ratatouille.  Tomorrow will present Vegetable Paella to which I will be adding sausage.  Dinner on a budget is working out this week.  It only took me 12 hours to chop and prep and freeze give or take about 25 main daily meals this week.  Now its just about pulling out the ingredients, firing up the CrockPot and searching for a side to go with dinner.  I am also enjoying making bread each day in the bread maker.

This weekend I plan to get my crafting area together and the twenty some odd years of pictures out and sorting began so I can finally scrapbook.  I have a job interview at one of those local temp placement agencies on Tuesday so hope to get the house settled by then so I can pursue work by day and my love of being domestic by nights and weekend.

**Reference to CookBook: