Our 24 Hour Apocalypse

July 8, 2014

5:52p.m. EST: It happened

The wind howled, the storm raged and the electricity flickered on and off. “This is it,” I thought. “The day we have been preparing for. The end of the world as we know it.” The lights went dark. The television went out and we sat in silence. Three seasons of watching Doomsday Preppers and actively perusing Pinterest “Preparedness” boards had prepared me for how my family should react. We would be calm, cool and collected, knowing that we had 72 hours worth of emergency food and water in the basement, a slew of camping trips under our belt and a son with one year of cub-scout training.  We were ready for anything.

5:57p.m: “Mommy. I’m hungry!”

Starvation had come earlier than I had anticipated. The children were wasting away before my eyes. I needed to find sustenance before I lost them both. The only logical solution was a trip to McDonalds. This lifted everyone’s spirits and I achieved the temporary title of “Best Mom Ever.”  This euphoria was short lived as we realized that, without electricity, we had no garage door opener. I tried to open the door manually to no avail. I delivered the crushing news that there would be no Happy Meal for dinner that evening. The news was met with disappointment, tears and I was rapidly stripped of my “best mom” title. Morale was at an all-time low. My solution was Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. The starving little waifs protested, wanting only hot food to fill their sensitive bellies. I tried to reason with them, explaining that without power there could be no hot food. My oldest, the cub scout, presented me with the simple solution of rubbing two sticks together so he could get ‘real food’ like chicken nuggets.  We compromised on a dinner of cold cuts, cheese and crackers.

7:00p.m.: Insanity began to take hold

The children played in their bedrooms until the outside light began to grow dim. My daughter, obviously reaching her breaking point, traveled from room to room flipping the light switches on and off. The realization that we had no electricity began to sink in. “Mommy? Can I watch a cartoon?” I explained that, without electricity, there would be no cartoons. She seemed to accept  that answer and then promptly asked for a movie. With that request denied she looked outside at the torrential downpour and asked to play outside. Logic and reason had vacated her little mind. Things were looking grim.

8:00p.m.: Survival Instincts

Daylight had gone completely. It occurred to me that we would need some form of light to get us through the night time hours. Thankfully, my husband had come home and knew the location of one working flashlight. With that source of light I managed to scrounge up a few tea candles, a hazelnut scented pillar candle and a jasmine votive. The world was crashing around us, but our home smelled wonderful!

8:30 p.m.: Sleep

The children were sent to their beds for the night. Both children were suffering the early effects of “screen withdrawal.” Thankfully, our oldest still had battery power on his 3DS or we may have had to sedate him with a Benadryl cocktail.

My husband and I, weary from our evening of hardship, retired to the front porch to relax with a lukewarm adult beverage.

July 9, 2014

7:00 a.m.: A new day

My husband dressed for work. Showers were a luxury we could no longer enjoy. With the loss of power came the loss of our well system. Each family member claimed their own toilet with the bleak knowledge that there would be no flushing any time soon.  I remembered that I had read a few articles on how to fashion a sanitary waste disposal system from a bucket, pool noodle and cat litter, but that would only be used in extreme conditions.

9:00a.m.  Now what?

With my husband at work, no coffee in the house and two hungry and cranky children, I decided that we needed to get away. Hubby was kind enough to free my mini-van from its garage prison and we were free to hit the highways. Apparently the apocalypse had only hit our street. The rest of the town was running just fine.

We traveled to the closest doughnut shop. The children weren’t sure how to react to these conditions. Running water, hot food and refrigerated drinks were now foreign to them. As I sat, sipping my latte, I worried that they might not adapt. I could not bring them back to the 3rd world conditions that we left behind. They needed to be surrounded by their own kind. We made our way to “Monkey Joe’s,” the local bounce house. After three hours of screaming, running, and bouncing fun I began to catch glimpses of the children I once knew. I knew we could get through this crisis. We would survive.

5:45p.m: After a full day of running around the city we received a cell phone call that power had been restored to our area. We breathed a collective sigh of relief and ventured home. A little older, a little wiser and  a lot stronger.

I walk away from this 24 hour crisis secure in the knowledge that, should the true apocalypse come our way, our house will smell lovely as we perish.

So….you want to be a writer?

I woke up this morning with the grand idea that I wanted to become a writer. I pictured myself sitting down at the computer and churning out the greatest historical romance novel ever written. It would be a real bodice ripper that would hit the best seller’s list and get me on the talk show circuit as “Stay at home mom turns novelist”. Kind of like that chick who wrote the 50 Shades of Gray books. Sure, my novel might really just be something a bunch of bored housewives get worked up about while they sit by the pool half-watching their kids try to drown one another in a rousing game of Marco Polo, but it would be my accomplishment. My creativity. Something I did outside of my job as ‘super mom’.

I sat down with my laptop, stared at the screen, placed my fingers on the keyboard and wrote half a sentence. It was then that my youngest child crawled up on my lap, started hitting keys and giggled “Can I have some juice?”. Then my seven year old chimed in “Can I have some chocolate milk and scrambled eggs? I’m hungry!” I put down the laptop, attended to the little urchin’s wishes, fed the dog, cleaned up a few stray Cheeri-Os from the kitchen floor, broke up a sibling fight, answered three telephone calls and attempted to returned to my writing. Somewhere in between pouring the chocolate syrup into the milk and hanging up on a telemarketer, my mind morphed my main character, the beautiful heroine with flowing auburn locks, porcelain skin and perfect 20 something body,  into a slightly frumpy 39 year old with love handles, crow’s feet, dishpan hands and a messy ponytail. Oh wait, that’s me! It was then I decided to follow the words of Louisa May Alcott in Little Women and “write what you know.” Ok, truth be told, I’m not not sure if Louisa May Alcott actually wrote those words, but I know the main character Jo did say that in the movie adaptation. Close enough, right?

So- what do I know? I know that I’m a stay at home mom. I know that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) is NOTHING like I thought it would be. I’m a wife. I’m a pet owner. I’m a daughter. I’m a cancer survivor. I’m a creative soul. I dream of being a farmer, a writer, a singer, an herbalist, an actress and a chef. I live in my own mind 80% of the time and need a platform to get these crazy thoughts out to the world.

So, here I am in blog form again. It’s been about two years since I last put in an entry so I’m a bit rusty. I’ve been interrupted by my children about 47 times in the short span of time it has taken me to write this post. If you forgive me for all spelling mistakes and my complete disregard for proper grammar and punctuation I will forgive you for not hanging on to my every word/post and quoting my profound words to all of your friends and family. Deal?

Give me a shout out to let me know who’s actually reading my musings. It encourages me and inflates my ego. I dig that kind of thing.

me

 

Welcome to my world. :-)

Just another lazy Sunday

Don’t you just love Sunday mornings?  I adore snuggling with my hubby while sipping coffee and reading a good book. We lounge around until noon and then leisurely make our way downstairs to watch movies all day. Oh wait….that was life BEFORE the kids.

Nowadays, Sunday morning is a non-stop tornado of activity!

7:00 a.m. my darling daughter calls me from her crib, desperately needing a diaper change. My loving son stumbles into our bedroom begging to play video games. My eyes flutter open and I realize that the mad Sunday rush is here yet again. Time to get the kids dressed, fed and presentable for church. Somewhere in this mad rush I manage to get in a shower and find an outfit that is appropriate for public viewing (no yoga pants in church…thankyouverymuch!). It’s insanity. You would think that I’d learn to plan ahead.

On those rare Sunday mornings when I actually have my act together, I like to spoil the family a bit by making a good, hearty breakfast. Santa was kind enough to buy me a waffle maker this year. I tell you, next to my mini van and my engagement ring, it was the best Christmas present ever! Yes, I truly am that low maintenance.

I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with different recipes for waffle batter. I’ve found that Bisquick mix, while it makes outstanding pancakes, makes pretty dry and tasteless waffles. Other waffle mixes I’ve made have been too dense or not puffy enough. After much trial and error, I finally found the perfect mix!

I give complete credit to Mr. Alton Brown and the Food Network for this recipe. I had nothing to do with it. I just thought I’d pass it along and share the love.

  • 4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 cup
  • 4 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Directions

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl beat together eggs and melted butter, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Here’s a handy-dandy tip from your old pal, Liz:  If you don’t have any buttermilk, just add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk. Viola! Home made buttermilk substitute!

Yum!

There you have it… the best food that Sunday morning has to offer! Top these golden beauties with syrup and butter or berries and whipped cream. You could even go hog-wild and make a fried egg, bacon and cheese waffle sandwich. Not that I’ve ever done anything THAT unhealthy. *ahem*

Speaking of healthy eating….Liz Land is going to get a bit healthier. It seems that my love of all things creamy and buttery has caught up with me. Time to lower the fat and cholesterol intake. I’ve been experimenting with some new healthy alternatives to my old favorites. Hope you stick with me on this.

Chicken Kiev… Land of Liz style.

Every year I make the same New Years resolution; Lose weight and get fit.  I search through my back issues of Cooking Light magazine and compile an arsenal of recipes that are guaranteed to get me back to my “before I had the children” weight. With grocery list in hand I march confidently into the grocery store ready to conquer the food world. I just know THIS will be the year I fit back in my favorite jeans (the ones at the back of the closet, covered in a layer of dust).

When my cart is full of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy snacks I stroll up to the checkout counter. As I put my groceries on the conveyor belt, I have this fantasy that the checker and the other housewives around me are admiring just how healthy my family must be with all of this wonderful food in the house. I can just tell they are thinking “What a good wife and mother she must be!” To add to this delusion, I even browse through a fitness magazine before paying my bill. I walk out of the store feeling very good about myself and my new healthy lifestyle.

Then it happens….about a week after bingeing on carrots, spinach, fiber muffins and Special K cereal I hear a little voice calling from inside the fridge. It says to me “Psst…Liz….come here. I miss you! Please don’t abandon me. Come back!”.  It is the sweet voice of my dear friend, butter. I curse The Land O Lakes Indian and swear she is an evil little temptress. One thing leads to another and I come up with a recipe like this: Chicken Kiev, Land of Liz style.

The Betty Crocker cookbook has a basic recipe for Chicken Kiev that involves parsley and tarragon but, I didn’t have those things. I improvised this recipe and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Hubby even said it was ‘blog worthy’! It’s a little more labor intensive than some of my other recipes but it’s totally worth it. I’d be proud to make this meal for guests.

Here’s the cast of characters:

  • Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • all purpose flour
  • seasoned salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 6 thinly sliced chicken breasts (or you can go through the trouble of pounding regular chicken breasts with a mallet…I’m too lazy for that)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • two cloves minced garlic
  • 12 basil leaves, minced
  • two mozzarella string cheese sticks (or, if you want to get fancy….use fresh mozzarella)
  • salt and pepper

Step 1:  Get out three shallow bowls. In the first bowl mix eggs and 1 tbsp water. In the second, put in the bread crumbs. I the third, mix flour and seasoned salt.

Step 2: Cut butter into quarters, lengthwise and then in half (you’ll have 8 little rectangles of lovely butter). Do the same with the mozzarella cheese sticks.

Step 3: place a little bit of the minced garlic, basil, 1 butter rectangle and one of the pieces of mozzarella into the center of the chicken breast and roll it up into a tight little bundle.

Step 4: Dredge chicken roll in flour, then dip in egg, dip in bread crumbs, back in the egg again and one more time in the bread crumbs. Got that? The double dip in the crumbs makes for an extra crispy crust.  Repeat steps 3 and four until all six chicken breasts are rolled.

Step 5: Heat up oil in a frying pan and fry up the chicken breasts for about 5 minutes (or until all sides are browned).

Step 6: Place all six rolls in a baking dish and place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through). Pour any drippings over the top when serving. You don’t want to waste any of that fabulous butter. It’s a sin!

Mmmm.... look at that glorious butter and cheese! When I fall off the wagon, I fall HARD!

Enjoy….you can always return to the diet the next day!

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Spread

There are few things in life I like more than the smell of roasted garlic. If I had my way I would have a roasted garlic air freshener hanging from my rear view mirror and large bowls of garlic, basil and onion potpourri in my living room. The smell of garlic warms my soul and makes me feel at peace with the world. Other people in the Land of Liz don’t feel quite so passionate about these delightful little bulbs of joy, so I limit my love of garlic to cooking.

Ordinarily I’m perfectly happy just roasting up a bulb of garlic and spreading it on a loaf of crusty Italian bread, but today I decided to get a bit more creative. I made a big batch of white bean and roasted garlic spread. This is a very simple recipe but it tastes out of this world!

The first step is roasting up the garlic!

  • Crank up your oven to 400. 
  • Cut off the top half of two bulbs of garlic
  • place them on a square of foil
  • drizzle on some olive oil and wrap them up
  •  Once the oven is heated up, roast those babies for 45 minutes.

When they are done they will be soft, easy to spread and delicious. 

When your kitchen starts to smell like a high-end Italian restaurant, open up a can of Great Northern beans. Rinse, drain and heat them on low on the stove top.

When the garlic is ready, squeeze it out from its paper shell into the bowl of a food processor.

Add the following:

  • warm beans
  •  a handful of cilantro (omit if you are not a cilantro fan….I am a BIG fan so I added extra!),
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • a drizzle of olive oil

 Mix it up in the food processor until it’s smooth.

Bean really liked it on her sandwich!

Peanut really liked it on her sandwich!

This is a great dip for veggies! I’m using it as a sandwich spread this week. It also stores really well in the fridge. It should be good for up to two weeks. Keep some on hand for any unexpected guests. They’ll think you eat like a gourmet every day!

Split pea and ham soup…. it ain’t pretty but, it’s so good!

Oh my goodness… it’s been 7 months since my last blog post! I’d like to give you all a list of excuses, but truth be told, I just got lazy. Hope you can forgive me! Hope you can also forgive how rusty this post might be. I’m out of practice! I’ve made a New Years resolution to start writing more. Bear with me, please.

So, it’s freezing here in the Land of Liz. We’ve had a very mild winter so far and my body just can’t seem to adjust to this cold snap. I can’t get the chill out of my bones and the only cure I can think of  is a huge vat of split pea soup! Yes, I know that for many people, the thought of split pea soup conjures up images of Linda Blair’s head spinning around, but if you can get past that visual, I highly suggest trying this awesome soup.

This is such an easy and cheap recipe! I had a bag of split peas that I soaked overnight, a leftover ham bone from Christmas dinner, an onion and some carrots. Next thing I know…. I had soup! Ok, maybe it wasn’t that easy but, close!

As you may remember, Hubby is not a ‘soup guy’ and it turns out, neither is Bean. Thankfully, Peanut is turning out to be a foodie like her mama!  Here’s her reaction to my soup:

She hasn't quite mastered the spoon yet. Soup through a straw works for us. She looks a little nervous doesn't she?

 

I think she likes it!
This was a huge success. Peanut drank the soup and even started dipping her crackers in it! 
Ok, here’s the magic recipe:
1 ham bone (the meatier, the better)
1 bag of split peas, soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
chopped carrots (to your taste)
Salt & pepper to taste 
 
Start by sauteeing the onion in a bit of olive oil. Dump in the split peas, ham bone, a little salt & pepper and the carrots. Pour enough water over the top to cover. Cook on medium heat until the peas have all turned into a lovely green liquid (about two hours). Remove ham bone & serve. Doesn’t get much easier!  Enjoy!
 

Yum!

 
 

A light lunch

Last weekend I packed a bag and headed out to Chincoteague Island, Virginia with my two BFFs for a girl’s weekend away. Prior to our escape, I had been doing very well on my diet.  I’m not a calorie counter but for two weeks I was mindful of eating sensible portions, lowering my fat intake and limiting in-between meal snacks. Once on the road, however, my diet flew out the window, landed somewhere on interstate 95 and became roadkill.

Crab dip, cream of crab soup, shrimp stuffed with crab imperial, french fries, crab balls, tortilla chips with cheese dip…. ooooh… I fell off the wagon and it proceeded to roll over me.

Now that I’m back home and my brain is no longer on island time, I realize that I must get back into good eating habits. I fear someone may try to harpoon me on my next trip to the beach.

This is a modified recipe for a roast-beef sandwich recipe I found on the Special K website. I don’t succeed with diet food that tastes like diet food. This sammy was filling and I felt like I was eating something on the naughty foods list.

Open Faced Roast Beef Sandwich

  • 2 teaspoons fat-free plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 slice multigrain bread, toasted
  • 1/2 cup mixed spring baby greens
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced, lean roasted beef
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese (optional)
  • sliced hard-boiled egg
  • sliced tomato

Directions

  1. In small bowl stir together yogurt, mayonnaise and horseradish. Spread on toast. Top with greens, roast beef, tomato, egg and blue cheese.

    Grab a fork and knife and dig in!