Category Archives: Cooking

I like Ramen.

Yep. The kind that costs less than a quarter and is usually the fare of poor college students.

I had a meal plan in college, so I ate well all 4 years. My dad was in charge of food shopping while growing up, so we usually had real food, though occasionally my mom would buy ramen as part of her junk food stash.

When I did have ramen as a kid, it was always plain: noodles and seasoning as is. I thought it made for a pretty good quick lunch.

Now that I’m an adult and grocery shopping for myself and my hubby, ramen is one of my staples. I’m not sure if hubby ever craves ramen, but I think he’s told me that when he does eat it, he leaves out the seasoning. Weird.

I use my ramen (all flavors welcome) as the basis of most of my soups.

Half of one onion, some frozen veggies, and either some chicken, beef, or pork thrown into plenty of water and the seasoning packet. After the veggies and meat are cooked through I add the noodles and 2 minutes later, dinner’s ready! I can usually get two meals out of this soup since it’s just me eating it.

Tonight it’s chicken ramen soup for me and chicken and rice for hubby. 

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I nag, my tween complains — how do we end the struggle over chores? – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/help-my-12-year-old-wont-complete-chores/2017/02/21/582a1992-f553-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.00fb79b0ac9d

On tying chores to allowance, here is how I would do it:

Once the kid grasps the concept of money (needing money to buy things), they are old enough for their chores to be linked to their allowance. Since they should have already been doing age appropriate chores°, they will love getting paid to do what they’re already doing and will probably not realize over the years that an increase in the number and type of chores they’re doing is related to their age and development not an increase in allowance.

Let me explain. At 5 years old, the kid learns about the importance of money. They want money, so you say, “okay, if you complete all your chores this week, I’ll give you X dollars on Friday”. The kid thinks, “Sweet! I already do all my chores every week, so this is easy money!!”

As the kid gets older, they will want more money and you know they need to do more chores. They will gladly consent to doing more chores for more money. But, you were already planning to increase their allowance because you know a 10 year old probably can’t survive on $5/week. They think they’re getting the payraise for doing more work, when in reality, the payraise and work is unrelated… sort of.

You see, there’s a big problem that can arise with tying chores to allowance: what do you do when the kid doesn’t do their work? The simplest strategy I’ve thought of is that the kid loses money for every chore not done. $1/chore, depending on how the numbers crunch?

Since I believe that kids should be given reasonable choice as much as possible, I think that they should be allowed to choose their chores as much as possible.For younger kids, they may pick their daily chores for a given block of time* while older kids, have a master chore list^ for them to check off that let’s them choose the chores that fits their mood on a given day.

Any overlap between younger and older kids chore charts should be hashed out at the ~monthly meeting when the younger kids pick their chores for the month. Younger kids should be given first dibs on chores that are age appropriate, but be allowed to take on more responsibility if appropriate (like, they want to scrub the shower every week or help cook dinner).
°Note: There is a difference between chores and good habits.Chores are things that need to be done regardless of whose doing it. Habits are personal responsibilities that everyone has to do to be considered a responsible adult (brushing teeth, picking up their toys, etc). Chores can be mixed and matched depending on one’s roommates, spouse, or children. When a person lives alone, all the chores fall onto their shoulders. When living in a group, chores can be spread around (you don’t need 3 people washing dishes every night), but everyone, no matter their living situation, needs to automatically take care of their personal hygiene and pick up after themselves; teaching good habits is different from teaching how and when to do chores!
*So, every month or so, the younger kids decide on what they’re chore list is for every day: feed the dog, set the table, wipe up the bathroom, etc. When they get bored with these chores, they can choose a new set of chores. Younger kids take longer for their interests to change and they do better with a strict daily list of tasks.

^Older kids are capable of doing just about everything moms and dads can, which means they, like moms and dads, can decide what needs to be done and when. Someone needs to figure out dinner every night; who’s in the mood to cook? I’d suggest making the agreement = the total number of chores per week×/the number of people covered by that chore list @the amount of allowance that is appropriate. The teen is going to look at the list of everything that needs to get done in a week (7 dinners, 7 dish washings, etc, etc, etc) and pick the things they like best, based on their ever changing mood. If there’s more than one older kid, there will be competition over the choiciest chores, which seems like a good problem to have! Moms and dads, as members of the household, should also be included in the chores equation. School=Work, so none of this “I have a job and you don’t” argument (truthfully, school is more work than most jobs because of homework).

×However, it’s important to remember that not all chores are created equal. I’d suggest ranking chores by difficulty and making a hard chore like washing clothes count for more than an easy chore like feeding the dog. To adjust the equation, simply add together the rankings rather than the base number.

Here’s an example of a partial master chore list:

Family members: 2 parents, 2 teens = 4 participants

Dinner (7×2 (ranking)) = 14 points

Feeding dog (7×1) = 7 points

Washing clothes (includes washing, drying, folding, sorting/putting away) (3 or 4 (or however often as necessary) ×4) = 12 or 16 points

Dishes (7×2 (4 in my real house because we don’t have a dishwasher) = 14 or 28 points

Take the number of points (47 or 61) and divide it by the number of people responsible (4) so, each person is responsible for about 11 or 15 points worth of work. The ranking score above is how many points you earn for doing a chore once. A person who primarily feeds the dog will have to cook or wash dishes a couple days while that cook/dishwasher gets the day off.

Of course, your milage will vary.

Not Wasting Food

For about a month, I’d been craving a meaty hand-pie. I have no idea why, since I’ve never had them before. I guess it was too much time spent watching documentaries on historic British “houses” (more like castles or palaces) and thinking about the food of Harry Potter.

Since I’m a timid soul who doesn’t like exploring new restaurants on my own (and my husband has a tender stomach), I knew that I’d have to make these pies on my own. And since I’m cheap, I knew I’d be making the pie crust by hand (because why should I buy something that is just flour, butter, water and salt, all of which I always have on hand even though I don’t bake that often).

In my head, I knew that I wanted the crust to be chewy, not the flaky stuff that is traditional for most kinds of pie. When I looked up a recipe for the pie dough (because while I know the ingredients I don’t know the proportions) a peirogi dough immediately caught my eye. I thought it would have the perfect texture for what I wanted.

I have a (relative) lot of homemade jams and jellies that were given to me as a gift for Christmas, so I figured that while I was making meat pies, I could make some fruit ones as well, using the jam as filling.

I made a fabulous meat filling using some pork chops (diced up), grated cabbage (out of a bag of coleslaw mix because I can’t eat a whole head of cabbage), some grated carrot, onion, and some sweet potato (in retrospect, I should have left out the sweet potato). I cooked the pork, onion, and potato fully before stuffing the pierogi dough. I wanted the veggies to stay crunchy figured they’d cook enough in the oven.

This is where I seem to have made the critical error. I’m a lazy cook and love to just throw stuff into the oven and have it come out cooked. I have bought frozen pierogies 3 times before and have used all three cooking methods recommended on the box (saute, oven, and boiling) and had already determined that boiling was the ideal way to cook them. I did NOT take my own advice after making a pierogi dough for my meat pies.

I stuck those suckers in the oven and what came out was a tasty rock. Well, not a rock, but they definitely took some serious chewing to eat (I’d also miscalculated on my fruity pies which leaked and seemed to not have enough filling, either).

So, I found myself the unfortunate owners of some pretty, but not the tastiest meat and fruit hand pies. Did I mention that the meat pies were quite dry because I hadn’t included a gravy? Yeah…

After a couple days in the fridge, I knew I had to do something with them. I hate the idea of wasting food, though, so I didn’t want to throw them away without a second chance. So, I cut 2 of the meat pies up  into bite sized pieces and threw them into a pot of chicken stock. The pierogi dough sucked up that liquid beautifully and finally got the texture that I’d craved. I had enough to cover my lunches for work for the rest of the week. I put 2 more meat pies into the freezer for future enjoyment.

By the end of the week, I knew I had to do something with the fruit pies, and I found another meat pie that I’d packaged for my lunch before realizing that I needed to do something better. So, I cut the fruit pies up into pieces  and put them into a baking dish along with an apple I’d cut up and a can of sliced peaches (including the light syrup). This I put into the oven for like an hour and a half at 325 (stirring occasionally and looking for the fruit to be tender, but not completely mushy).

The result was delicious! Kind of a deconstructed fruit pie.

As for the “final” meat pie (since I still have 2 in the freezer), I chopped it up and threw it into some left over canned baked beans. Also delicious! And not one bit of my cooking adventure ended up in the trash!

But I think that the next time I want to make a meat pie, I’ll use a traditional pie dough and I think I’ll get some personal sized pie dishes to make them in so that I can enjoy some proper gravy.