"You may delay,
but time will not."
To parents, teachers, and other guardians of children:
The Review is a place where adults or kids should be able
to stop by and browse.
But, remember - I have no control over outside links.
For happiest results, please surf the Web with your kids!
The Artsy Site
Of The Month:
Antioch Publishing Gallery of Bookplate Art
Books were once a rare possession treasured by
owners who found decorative ways to declare that ownership.
Personal Home Page
Of The Month:
Fontaine's Game of Life
Cleverly disguised as a Monopoly game.
Web Page Design Site
Of The Month:
The Web Robots Pages
Crawlers, robots, spiders--whatever you call them,
they can do a lot for your web page.
Of The Month:
Trick or Treat for UNICEF
Children have already collected over
$100 million for other children.
Just Fun Site
Of The Month:
U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association
Downright Serious Site
Of The Month:
Protect Your Pet From Disasters
Please take care of your pets in bad times as well as good.
Of The Month:
The Story Behind A Loaf Of Bread
The history of bread from a British viewpoint.
For October Travelers
Several commented on the "Sometimes I Feel Like A Pecan" feature in the March 1999 Review.
You liked the idea of trying something new in the kitchen, and most of you liked using nuts as real food and not just snacks, but you also said your main problems in the kitchen are
Single fathers, senior women, veteran married couples, and others all seem to want to spend less time preparing food these days, unless their hobby is cooking. Many also look for economy in meal preparation.
Let's look at the time factor for a few minutes.
When you shop, stock up on canned goods and things that will keep at home, even if you have to reorganize a cabinet or keep a few boxes in the garage to store things. If you have a freezer you can stock up on even more, and cut down on store trips. Just remember to use older foods and replace them with newer ones. Some people keep a dated list of what was put into the freezer.
Buy some of the convenience foods you just don't have time to make at home every time you cook. They make canned (or bottled) white sauce, gravy, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, marinades, frosting, and pie filling. Take advantage of them.
Combine home-cooking with fast food or deli items. Reheat that pot of beans (or warm leftover brown rice in the microwave) and bring home tacos to go with it. Macaroni salad from the deli counter can go right on the plates with the home-broiled fish and steamed veggies.
Those take-and-bake pizzas give you the pizza aroma while it bakes without having to assemble the thing and clean up. If there are two or more of you to do this, and one is home (or gets home first), have the one at home get that oven going while you order the pizza. By the time you reach home the oven will be ready to bake.
One restaurant we frequent makes a really good dark loaf of bread. As we get ready to leave we always order a loaf to take home and use with one of the next day's meals.
If you shop at one store more than any other, take time to put a grocery list on your computer in the order in which the store is laid out. Then you can just put a mark beside the items you want and rush right through.
NOTE: There are pitfalls to this device. Both stores where we do most of our grocery shopping have recently undergone "chain" change-of-ownership, and have completely redone the store layout.
If you're just getting in from work, and know you're going to bake or broil, turn the appliance on as soon as you walk in the door and let it heat while you change clothes or attend to the kids. If you know you're going to be doing pasta, get the water in the pot and start the range burner.
Whenever possible, make more than you need when you do cook, especially with things like soup, chili, and baked goods. Freeze extras for later. Or, if you are the type who gets tired of foods quickly and you think you won't use that second batch, find someone to trade with, and you'll each get a whole new meal out of the deal.
We used to live in a rural area where it took about 20 minutes to drive to a grocery store. He would drive, and I would go through the coupons on the way to the store. Again, you need a shopping buddy for this to work smoothly. Coupons are not always a big time-saver, but if you clip them and go through them once every month or two, you can take advantage of quite a few for at least one shopping trip.
If you can shop at night or early morning, the stores are much less crowded and you can often get out of there more quickly.
If the only time you can shop is after a 9-to-5 job, and then you feel you have little time or energy to cook that evening, use the take-and-bake pizza idea (call ahead and they'll have it ready for you, and you can heat that oven while you put frozen foods away when you get home.) Or, call the nearest Chinese food place for take-out, and they'll have your order ready by the time you finish grocery shopping.
This is a touchy one for some folks. Do not take children into the grocery store unless they never ask for extras, never throw tantrums and never get tired while you shop. Find a friend who will sit with them at home, or even sit with them in the car while you shop.
NOTE: A few times I have seen really savvy parents take children into the store and give them part of the grocery list and send them to pick up the items. If you can teach your child to do this, you have accomplished a great time-management device, and you have also taught your children more about a basic skill in life. Bravo!
Speaking of children, whatever happened to families working together to get a meal on the table? One of my best school friends grew up in a large family, and the kids learned to clip coupons, bake bread, rinse their own dinner plates, and shell peas. These days children seem to fill their afternoons with soccer and wandering the streets. Children do need time to play, but learning about food and cooking is a skill they can take with them to the ends of their days. Don't rob them of that opportunity.
I maintain that it isn't always the cooking that's tough. It's the clean-up. If you must cook, get hot sudsy water going and wash utensils as you go. When you empty the cooking pan, get some hot water into it immediately. Don't be afraid to use paper cups and plates once in awhile. Invest in some really good non-stick cookware to make clean-up go more smoothly. If you have a dishwasher, take advantage of it. But if you find you always need a container that's dirty and sitting in the dishwasher, maybe you should buy extras of things like utensils, bowls, and measuring cups.
When you cook pasta, use a big pot. When the pasta is almost done, turn up the heat and add frozen chopped vegetables to cook quickly. If you use frozen peas, add them just that last minute, and they'll keep that nice pop they have when fresh.
I made fun of those bagged salads when they first came out. Now I use them. They also sell spinach leaves, and already-shredded cabbage and carrots, great for quick cooking or adding to tossed salads.
If you don't have time to make desserts and your family craves something sweet after dinner, always have a bit of candy on hand. It's sweet and easy to serve. It may not have the nutrition of a home-baked apple pie, but it does have other rewards of saving time and frustration.
If you always have trouble putting together menus, take some time to write down a few basic ones, and refer to them when you feel stuck for ideas.
Develop a base of quick recipes to aid you in the plan.
Here are some ideas you can use to begin.
Baked potato wedges are tasty, but they take about 45 minutes to cook. Here's a faster way: Cut the potatoes into wedges while you melt a little margarine (or use olive oil) in a glass baking dish in the microwave oven. (choose a dish which can go also go into a conventional oven.) Put the wedges into the dish, and turn them so that the cut sides get a bit of margarine or oil on them. Sprinkle the potatoes with your favorite seasonings, or use a purchased blend. Cover dish and vent a corner. Microwave, stirring once or twice, for about 8-10 minutes (time depends on how many potatoes you cook), until the potatoes are just tender. In the meantime, heat the broiler. Remove the cover from the dish and put the dish under broiler to brown wedges for 4 or 5 minutes. Top with shredded cheese if you wish.
Another easy potato one: Scrub baking potatoes and pierce with a fork. Cook in microwave until tender. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut a thin slice off the top of each potato and scoop out the insides, leaving just a shell. Mash the insides with a little sour cream. Add some concentrated canned Cheddar cheese soup and mix well. Spoon mixture back into the potato shells. You can pop under broiler to brown if you wish. Serve with chives, green onions, and/or paprika. Even kids like potatoes done this way.
Quick Rolls: Dissolve a package of dry yeast and 1 Tablespoon of sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water. Add 1/4 cup warm milk and 2 cups of biscuit mix (such as Bisquick brand). Mix. Put more dry baking mix on a board or counter and knead the dough about 1 dozen times. Shape into rolls or cut with a biscuit cutter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about half an hour. Bake at 425 degrees for 7-10 minutes, until nice and golden.
Note: If you live in a high altitude, let them rise only about 20 minutes and bake at 450 degrees for only about 5-6 minutes.
TIP: I'm told that a really sharp biscuit cutter and cutting only once through dough (don't twist the cutter!) is the secret to getting rolls or biscuits with nice high sides.
Make Stroganoff with ground sirloin. It cooks faster than beef strips, and no one will complain that it isn't tender beef, I assure you.
You can make Stroganoff and by-pass meat altogether. Use lots of sliced mushrooms instead.
If you use chicken, buy the skinless boneless breasts and slice them into thin strips. They take only a few minutes to cook, and with this ingredient, you now have the start for several different dishes.
For an Italian meal, cook the chicken strips using cooking spray, and you can add sliced mushrooms and/or thinly sliced onion. Add cooked veggies if you like, and simmer all in bought spaghetti sauce or primavera sauce. Serve with pasta.
For a Greek variation, cook the chicken and add onion, Greek seasonings, olives, feta cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil.
For sweet-and-sour, cook the chicken, adding green and red bell pepper strips, thin slices of carrot if you like, thinly sliced onion, and canned pineapple chunks. Thicken the pineapple juice with cornstarch, add soy sauce, vinegar or lemon juice and a little brown sugar. You can add tomato wedges just at serving, for even more color. Serve with rice.
For a Mexican variation, cook the chicken with onion and/or garlic, add canned chopped chiles or jalapenos, canned or frozen corn, salsa, canned beans, and shredded cheese.
Freeze beef, and with that sharp knife you've invested in, cut across the grain into really thin slices. Cook with vegetables as a stir fry, adding sauces as desired.
For even faster cooking, keep on hand some of those canned or frozen vegetable protein products to use instead of meat. Tofu is also quick.
If homemade bread is a big deal to you, and you don't have time to bake it conventionally, get a bread machine. Crockpots and slow cookers are nice for putting ingredients into the container and letting simmer all day (or all night). For fast-cooking beans and other foods that generally take awhile, consider investing in a good pressure cooker.
Some people swear by the method of only cooking once or twice a month, and then building meals around the food cooked that day. If you have the multi-tasking ability to do this, it might be an answer for you. Think of things like roasting whole turkeys and cutting them up for casseroles and stir-fry dishes, making huge pots of spaghetti sauce, and freezing casseroles, baked goods and other dishes. I can't imagine doing this without a large amount of freezer space, but if you are more desperate to save time than money, you can invest in a freezer.
If you'd like to know more about cooking once a month check out OAMC 101.
In some areas you can now buy groceries online and have them delivered. Check out NetGrocer Online Grocery Shopping.
When all else fails, find a Chinese restaurant and a pizza place that deliver, and keep those phone numbers on speed dial!
Shameless Promotion Here
But You'll Be Glad I Told You This
If your pastor asked you to write a Public Service Announcement for the opening of the church-sponsored day care center, would you know what to do?
If your child's school needed to raise money for sports equipment, would you know who to approach to ask for donations?
If the 4-H kid at your house came home and said their group wanted to put on a variety show to raise money, would you know how to help them find a venue, coordinate the talent search, find lighting and sound technicians? And could you find a place to print all the tickets for free?
They say the next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find out about it.
Well, I know where to find out how to raise money.
We just put up the web page for the author of
"Blueprints For Greenbacks"
For just under $20 you'll have step-by-step directions in your hands for making your favorite organization's budget do what you need to do to help others in your community.
I wish I'd had this book when I was asked to do Public Relations for my church 20 years ago.
This book is going to save you time, money, and frustration.
It's going to put a smile on your face and on other faces!
Remember! Those of us who publish on the web are not saying our work is in the public domain.
When in doubt about your use of someone's else's writings or graphics, ask!
If you want to use graphics or text on a commercial page, contact me first, please, and we'll work something out.
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