Friday, December 14, 2012

What kind of woman are you?

At a recent Bible study we discussed the qualities of a Biblical woman.  It was a good reminder to me.  I have been thinking about it especially at this time of year when I am tempted to try to "do it all" and keep up with everyone else in decorating, gifting and celebrating.  I cannot do it all.  I am glad for the reminder to keep things in perspective and only do the truly important things.

Here are some ideas of a Biblical woman that we came up with (this is not an exhaustive list):
  • love God
  • fear God
  • be self-sacrificing
  • be concerned about your family
  • care for your own personal spiritual development
  • care for your children's spiritual development
  • pray; depend on God
  • love your husband
  • submit to your husband
  • accept and appreciate your role as a wife and mother
  • be kind and loving 
I know these ideas aren't popular, but I hope they give you some things to think about at this busy time of year.  Who or what is controlling your schedule? your purchases? your family time?  Are your words and actions God honoring?  Or are you bustling around too busy to say a kind word?  Are your Christmas celebrations reflecting Christ and His love? Strive to grow in wisdom even as you celebrate Christmas.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."             Matthew 1:21


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stained!

A theme for me today was working on stains.  I began the day mending my stained record for turning in a time card on time.  Grrr...

Next I worked on removing stains from laundry.  I remember my mother naming me The Queen of Grass Stain.  I now pass that title to my middle daughter.  In addition to grass stains there are food stains, grease stains, sweat stains, and the list goes on.  Treating this, scrubbing that - not really my idea of a fun time.

I finally got around to processing our one and only home grown pumpkin.  It has a few spots that needed to be cut off; stains that needed treatment.



Of course, no mother's day is complete without washing some dishes.  Wiping away crumbs, brushing dried on food, scrubbing tougher spots.

I confess I get weary of doing these tasks.  But it got me to thinking about my heart and how stained it is.  And I am very thankful for a God who does not grow weary of cleaning me up.  I am thankful for His Faithfulness and His Love.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.                                 Psalm 51:7-12




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Over Sharing

So, I've been making a little bit of salsa...
And eating a little bit of garden fresh melon...
And dealing with a LOT of tomatoes...
True life confession:  I had been looking for that tacky glue and couldn't find it until I saw it in the picture!  That's how it goes sometimes.  The unedited reality of my busy, not-as-neat-as-I-would-like life.

I've spent some time with most of the family at the zoo.
And we got to see the dingoes.
This picture is for Meghan.  She couldn't see the dingoes the day she went to the zoo with us because it was too, too hot for the dingoes to be outside! 

I have also done a long list of other things that aren't picture worthy.  As you can imagine, blogging had to take a back seat.  A way back seat.  I have wanted to jump back in for a week or so, but wanted to find just the right topic to re-join the blogging world.

This morning while I was folding laundry I watched a show on "oversharing."  And I thought, that's it!  That's what I want to blog about!  Join me as I embark on the popular trend of oversharing.  Ready?
Sorry to disappoint you if you were really expecting a laundry list of detailed sharing.  I try to teach my growing girls that a wise woman does NOT over share.  Instead we want to always consider others ahead of our ourselves.  I try to practice and teach my girls to be kind and loving.  Sharing embarrassing stories about someone else is not kind and loving.  Please think about how your words will affect others before you post them for everyone to see.   

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Happy October!





Thursday, August 16, 2012

Double Duty Chicken Tacos

Sorry for my absence.  I've been a bit preoccupied with sending my youngest to Kindergarten, working on several aspects of volunteer work, and trying to adjust to the new school schedule which now includes my role as Crossing Guard.  My husband asked me to write down tonight's supper recipe (I make up a lot of meals), so I thought that would be a good thing to share.  A good part of my mental energy is on meals right now as I try to keep the girls well fed so they can do their best at school.

Tonight we had Chicken Tacos and Spanish Rice with lots of fresh veggies incorporated.  Here is what I did.

Spanish Rice
1 cup rice
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with sauce
2 cups water
diced fresh tomato
diced fresh pepper
salt to taste
2-3 pinches of cumin
chili powder to taste
Mix ingredients together.  Bring water to a boil and then reduce to medium high heat.  Let the rice cook while you prepare the chicken.   Rice takes about 40 minutes to cook.  Don't check it too often as the steam helps the cooking process; but do check it once in a while to be sure it isn't drying out before it is fully cooked. 

Taco Chicken
Dice several boneless, skinless chicken breasts (my package was about 2 1/3 pounds).  Coat a frying pan with olive oil and add chicken.  If chicken starts to stick add chicken broth as needed.  I also added some diced zucchini just because I had it.  I thought the chicken and seasoning would reduce the objection to the vegetable - I was right!  Season to taste with Taco Seasoning of your choice (I use homemade from a recipe by Jonni McCoy in Miserly Moms).  Depending on your taco seasoning, you may also need additional salt.  Cook until chicken is fully cooked.

I served the Spanish Rice and Taco Chicken with taco shells (purchased for 10 cents a box at the local dent and ding store - yippee!), lettuce and cheese.  I had other traditional taco toppings available, but the rice and meat were so flavorful we skipped the other things.  I should also tell you that I intended the rice to be a side dish, but most of us thought it was tasty in the tacos with the meat and cheese.

The question was asked, "Why did you use chicken instead of meat?"  I decided to ignore any discussion about chicken also being meat and answered this way, "To balance our eating and save some meat for another time so we don't run out." 

One daughter picked up a stomach bug on her first day of school so she couldn't eat this meal.  But the rest of us who ate it liked it and went back for more!  In my book it's a double hit because I could pack leftovers to send to school!

Last school year was Picky Eater's first year of full day school and I worried about her!  How would she survive with a limited menu all day long instead of a plethora of choices to fit to her mood?  So I spent a good deal of time studying lunch packing blogs - it's kind-of addicting.

Now, I give back to the lunch packing blog world with my contribution of Chicken Tacos Lunchbox Style. 

I made two lunches (assuming Sickie will be well enough for school) because one child wants school lunch tomorrow.  In the round Tupperware container I have 2 shells for the younger child, and 3 for the older child.  They're mini shells - aren't they cute?!  In front is a Lock&Lock sandwich box with silicone cupcake wrappers as dividers (learned from my previous lunch packing blog research).  I filled two sections with chicken, one with cheese and one with lettuce.  In the morning I will add fruit and a drink to each lunch and Voila!  Lunch is made.  I suppose I should add a fork or spoon - better go do that now before I forget.

What are your favorite tacos?

Monday, July 23, 2012

The New Baby (and snack recipes)

My new granddaughter came for a visit on Sunday.  She is small and sweet.  We had fun together.  Of course, all of the aunts had to hold her.
Grandpa loves his newest granddaughter
 Oh, yeah, her brother, sister and mother came too ;-)   Brother and sister had their usual energy and played with the girls.  Mother had gotten three kiddos ready for church, attended church and gotten two kiddos to our house (one rode home from church with us), so her energy was fading.

I remember those days.  In addition to constant tiredness, I remember feeling frequent hunger.  I remember those early days of sitting down to feed the baby, realizing I was hungry and feeling like it was too late - I was already feeding the baby so I had to wait to grab something to eat.   Then I got a little smarter and tried to have snacks available to grab before I sat down to feed the baby!  Some of my favorite easy-to-grab snacks were (and still are) fruit, cheese sticks, cereal snacks and granola bars.  Those kind of snacks are also great for keeping busy toddlers happy while you tend to baby or other important matters.  I'll share two recipes that are great for easy snacking for any stage, but with my daugher-in-law and new moms in mind.

Quick Cinnamon Snack
1 14 oz box cinnamon swirl or cinnamon toast cereal
½ cup sliced almonds
½ bag semi sweet chocolate chips         
1 cup raisins
1/3 – ½ box Apple Cinnamon Cheerios or Toasted Oats
Mix together in a large bowl.  Store in an airtight container.  Put individual servings in snack cups or bags to carry in the diaper bag for a quick nutritious snack.  Easy and yummy for tired moms and cranky preschoolers!

This next recipe is more complex, but is full of healthy, filling ingredients.
 
Michele’s Granola Bars 
2 ½ cups oats                  ¾ cup mayo or butter
½ cup barley, ground (optional)   1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup flour                                  ½ cup sugar
¼ cup wheat germ                        1 egg
½ tsp baking soda                         1 tbsp water
6 oz mini chocolate chips            1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon       handful mini marshmallows

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.   Cut into bars or squares.  Store in an airtight container.           

I recently read this article about creating a nursing basket that might be helpful.  The Keeper of the Home sight has lots of helpful information for new moms and not-so-new moms about babies, families, budgeting, meal-planning, etc..  You can search for things by topic if there is something you are struggling with or want to learn more about.

Enjoy your infant and hang in there, mom, you'll start feeling normal again before too long.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Post: Heidi's Book

Things have been a little hectic around here.  

After a whirlwind visit from my youngest sister and her family we finally had to say good-bye.  I will miss her and her husband and those sweet little children who know me as "my cousins' mom."  

And I have a new granddaughter!   She finally made her entrance into the world.  While she and mommy are in the hospital, sister and brother are staying here.  

So I'm going to take a break today and let my friend Heidi tell her story.  I've know Heidi for many years and greatly admire her focus in her journey.  Read her story, check-out her blog and register for her give-away. 


When All You Need Is Family...

            We stood together, just the six of us.  On a day when we buried one, we huddled... holding and upholding.  When others said...we'll be there.  I said... no.  All I wanted, all I needed was my family.   I gathered them around me... my parents, my man, and my kids together.  It was enough.
            Family... that group of people who are defined by blood lines, and maybe more.  Sometimes those closest to our hearts do not share the same family tree.  We cannot choose our relations but we can choose to redefine the term family to include those who are closest to us.  Those we live life with... the ones to whom we cling when the storms of life roar and the winds threaten to overflow us.
            I am blessed with an amazing family.  As I grow older and slightly wiser, I have learned to count that amazing family as a gift.  I now recognize its rarity.  I also know that I have friends who are as close to me as my sisters.  I've learned to count them as family and as gifts.  They are equal but  different treasures to my heart.
            Recently, I wrote a novel about family and friendship, life and loss... The Secret of Counting Gifts and an accompanying journal, The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal.  Both volumes have been released and are now available through Amazon.com. 
            The Secret of Counting Gifts is the story of  Kris McClintock and Liz Bower and their friendship that spans twenty-eight years.  Through marriage, babies, and infidelity they stand by each other and hold one another up... until breast cancer delivers the final blow.  As she sits by Liz, Kris recounts the trials and  blessings that made them who they are.  She tells their story and recalls the many "gifts" they have been blessed with throughout the years. She shares of how Liz taught her to notice the gifts in each day and to live with a grateful heart. It is through the telling of their story that the secret of counting gifts is discovered....
            Throughout this month, I'm on a virtual book tour, meeting up with bloggers and talking about friends and family, life and loss.  You can see the stops along the way at www.heidikreider.com.  Come on over and say "Hey!" and register for my giveaway... autographed copies of The Secret of Counting Gifts and The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal in a hand-made basket, made my lovely friend, Anne.
            All those years ago, my family stood with me as we buried our stillborn son.  Who do you have stand with you when you face loss?  Do you have friends who are as close to you as family?
            ** Heidi Kreider is a wife, mother, author, and friend.  She blogs about life, grace, and gratitude at www.heidikreider.com.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Drawing the Line on Green

I've had something on my chest for a while that I want to get off.  I think we need to draw the line on being green.  Now, before you tune me out let me explain.  First, I recycle, garden, compost, reuse, try to reduce and I have never left the water running while I was brushing my teeth. But I recently found some information encouraging "green" actions that would be "less healthy."  Hmm.... is that how I want to live?

I dabble in nutrition study.  As a stay-at-home mom, I try to educate myself on the best nutrition for my family.  If I can reduce doctor visits and medication use, I feel that I am contributing to the family budget even without working and bringing in money.  I am saving money that can then be used on other things.

So here is the conundrum:  every nutrition book or article I have read has stated that we get the most vitamin benefit from cooking vegetables in the largest piece possible.  Cutting vegetables into very small pieces before cooking them depletes some of their vitamin content - it seeps out into the cooking water and I've read it cannot be used again.  (I'm still studying this one, not sure I totally understand it but apparently you can't just save the water for soup and get those vitamins - they're gone.)  Last week I read an article (in a health magazine, no less) about "being green" that suggested cooking vegetables in smaller pieces to reduce cooking time and thus reduce energy use.

So, what is a mother to do?

First, evaluate and decide who to listen to.  Seek God' guidance.  If the choices before you don't clearly fall into right or wrong, then give yourself the freedom to be flexible.

Second, decide what your priorities are.  For example, if you have several young children at home, you may wish to cut vegetables very small to save yourself time and sanity - hey, those things are important too!   

Third, don't believe everything you read! Don't be easily swayed by the latest fad.

Now, go eat your veggies - green and other colors too.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Land Hurricanes and "The One Who is Always Present"

On my journey toward being more wise I have learned that there are things I cannot control - many things, most things.   I was reminded of this earlier this week when we experienced a land hurricane (or durecho); winds to the east of us were clocked at 91 mph.  For any male readers who are asking, "Do they make these terms up as they go?"  I'm told that land hurricanes (or durechos) have been so named since 2010 but I have spent no time in verifying this fact.

Several years ago I wrote a devotional about The One who can control things.  I will share that a little later on.  Before that I would like to share what I was doing during the land hurricane and what my children were doing.  Imagine the thoughts and feelings of this mother's heart.

Grandma is staying with us.  She recently had a stroke and struggles to say what she wants to.   She needed to take care of some things at her doctor's office.  Initially I was planning to take the girls along and do some errands while "in town" (the larger town about 8 miles to the west where we do most of our business).  As the day progressed I realized their constant chatter was making it more difficult for Grandma to speak.  That combined with thoughts of the small waiting area at the doctor's office and deciding the nature of the visit wouldn't be appropriate for young ears, I decided to take Grandma to her doctor's office and leave the girls at home.

If I had been on my computer at all that morning, I would not have made that decision.  If I had watched any news that day I would not have made that decision.  But I worked around the house, fed my family, etc. oblivious to the building storm - totally ignorant of pending danger.

I headed toward the doctor's office and commented about the dark sky but still had no idea how serious the coming storm would be.    We continued driving, the sky continued darkening.  Our area is experiencing a drought, so I'm thinking of the coming refreshment still naive of any possible danger.  My first warning sign was when the wind blew my car significantly.  Shortly after that one of the traffic lights was out.  And then the rain started, blinding at times.  I told Grandma we should go to my sister-in-laws house (where Grandma normally lives) and wait out the storm.  She agreed and we headed that direction but were stopped by a downed tree.  Thanks to the new one way road near the hospital, the only way to get around the tree and get to my sister-in-law's house was to go back out to the highway and deal with panicked drivers, wind and darkened traffic lights.  I thought about taking Grandma to one of the many waiting rooms on "medical row" but realized we would have to fight the rain to get inside to safety.  Instead we decided to find a parking space (away from trees) and just wait.

We watched the storm.  I wondered how soon it would reach my children at home.  And then the call from home came.   But... wait for it... wait for it... the storm took out our cell connection!  I was ten miles away from my children with no way to call them or call anyone else to help them.  I could not drive to them without driving through the storm and putting myself and Grandma in further danger.  There was absolutely nothing I could do!  Nothing but pray!  And pray I did!  The storm subsided, we headed home and the girls were fine.  They weren't even scared, proving that yes, sometimes ignorance is bliss. 

This experience taught me that I am too independent, depending too much on my own wisdom and my own strength.  It also reminded me how dependent I have become on my cell phone.   And most of all I was reminded that God was not surprised by the storm and he was not weakened by it.  He wasn't operating without power, without cell connections and with any trees down in His way.  He still had "the whole world in His hands." 

May you be encouraged by this message from Isaiah.  

Isaiah 58:11

The LORD (LORD in capital letters is the personal name of Jehovah God. It probably means “The One Who is Always Present” (The Revell Concise Bible Dictionary) I picture large hands holding me.  Wherever I go I am in God’s hands.  If I fail and fall, I am still in God’s hands.  A hymn states, “While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care and everywhere that man can be, Thou, God, are present there.)

 Will Guide you ALWAYS; (God’s guidance isn’t hampered by power outages, software glitches or inaccurate human input.  It doesn’t have to be weakened or altered to go through prison walls, hospital walls or soldiers' barracks.  It doesn’t have to be turned off on airplanes or in waiting rooms.)

 He will SATISFY your needs in a sun-scorched land
 (Picture the driest desert.  God not only satisfies our every day needs, but also our intense deep needs that no other resource can satisfy.)

And will STRENGTHEN your frame.  (When I am tired, I sometimes feel like my bones are rubber.  God strengthens my frame and makes my bones firm for the task.)

 You will be like a well-watered garden, (A well-watered garden is beautiful, flourishing, vibrant and fruitful.  I can be all those things with my ever-present God.)

 Like a spring whose waters never fail. (Water has energy and life-giving abilities.  God can give me that energy in unending supplies.)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vine plants and Life

Last fall we spread our compost out over our proposed garden space for this year.  It seems our plans never work out quite as we intend.  We had some set backs due to an uncooperative tiller.  Our schedules and the weather at times didn't jibe.  When we finally got into the garden to start planting, we discovered a mess of volunteer vine plants!  Volunteers are a welcome part of our gardening; they are plants that start growing on their own (from the compost or a previous planting).  We excitedly studied them trying to figure out what they were and how much we could afford to save.  Our best guess is that we have watermelon and pumpkin plants growing.

Determining how much we can afford to save is a more difficult assessment.  We all know that weeds are bad.  They interfere with the plant growth and must be removed.   But did you know that good plants can interfere with the growth of other good plants?
Take these plants for example, as they grow they may choke each other out.  There is a risk that neither plant will grow good fruit.  Therefore it is necessary to thin the plants out.  We had to pull out some plants so the other plants would be healthier, grow to maturity and produce the desired fruit - hopefully in large quantities :-)

But guess what... the job is not done.   This thinning is a continuous process.  Each day when we check the garden we find 6 -10 new volunteers.  We have to keep assessing which plants can truly grow into something productive.
This little guy on the right is trying to grow in between two bigger, more mature plants (one of which is shown on the left).  He will fight for food and water like my daughters fight over the biggest handful of Skittles.  It will get ugly and one or more of the plants will loose its nice healthy green color.  Though it is hard to pluck such a nice looking plant from the ground and end its life, doing so was necessary for the survival and maturity of the other plants.

Our lives are similar.  There are many good healthy things we could do to fill our time.  However, if we are not careful, we can try to do too many things - even too many good things.  Especially now in the summer time I feel this tension as I look at activities for the children.  We COULD attend swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, art classes, reading challenges, story times, Vacation Bible Schools, piano lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons, cheer leading camps, etc., etc.   If we tried to do all of the good things that are available, we would end up so tired we would miss out on healthier family times and teaching opportunities at home.  Just like in the garden, the evaluation has to be constant.   When you get your schedule set, something else WILL grow up to tempt you. 

This doesn't just apply to the family, it applies to me personally as well.   As I anticipate the fall and having my youngest attend kindergarten, I consider what I might do.  I might work, I might volunteer, I might enjoy more lunches with friends, I might read, I might write, etc.  I will have to continue evaluating to consider what things will contribute to the best growth and maturity.

Just as too many volunteer vine plants can choke each other out in my garden, too many activities  (good and solid though they may be) can choke out productivity and quality in my life.

A friend challenged me not to do what is good, not to do what is better, but to do what is BEST.  I pass that challenge on to you.  Have you thought about things in your life that may be choking out better things?   Do you have a plan to put more time and energy into the BEST?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wishes, Knowledge and Thanksgiving

My mother-in-law was in and out of the hospital at the end of May, so I didn't have the time, energy or creativity to post with any kind of regularity.  Here are a few thoughts that have been floating around in my mind:

I WISH...
* allergies, diabetes and heart conditions weren't such a part of daily life
* sickness and hospitalizations weren't necessary
* friends didn't have to hurt
* I didn't forget things, neglect things, waste things


BUT I KNOW...
* God loves me and you and those I love
1 John 3:1a, 2, 16, 4:10, 16, 19:  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  ...This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers...This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins...And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him... We love because he first loved us.

* God has a plan for salvation that shines above our earthly challenges
Ephesians 2:4&5 - But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.
John 14:6 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.
I Corinthians 15:3&4 - For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:  That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

* I can call to God:  He hears and cares
Psalm 34:4, 8, 15, 18 - I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears...Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him... The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry...The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

AND I'M THANKFUL FOR...
* celebrating 17 years of marriage
* finding a major counter top kitchen appliance, a clay roaster and a fondue pot for $26.75 and a husband who was equally excited about the finds and the money saved
* being more mature
* medical coverage, allergy meds, insulin, appropriate and kind medical care
* a smoke free hospital and the memories of an incident some seven years ago when one of my daughters asked, "Is that the smoker nurse?"  after hearing her parents complain about the overbearing smoke odor of the OB nurse
* a loving God who created and sustains me
* family fun and Mother's Day pampering
* a sister who lives near a lake and offered a few hours of escape
* close proximity to most grandparents
* beautiful summer weather

Happy June!  What are you thankful for?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bulk Cooking: Ground Meat

I've been trying to get around to this post for a couple of weeks.  But as I hinted at in my last post, this is Crazy Season around here!  Even today I have a to-do "wish" list that seems a mile long, but I'm choosing to ignore it and take things a little slower today to conserve energy for my double header tonight.  (Why did I agree to play softball again this year?  Oh, did I mention, the three girls also have games tonight.)

I wanted to get this information out as soon as possible in case any others are also in Crazy Season.  In my craziness I stumbled upon a quick way to brown large quantities of meat and I want to share in case it might help alleviate someone else's craziness.  Preparing food in bulk quantities is helpful if you are planning a large gathering or preparing food for a crowd.  It is also helpful for small families who are often busy or lacking energy.  I've read about once-a-month cooking before and never thought it was for me.  I've also prepared meat for large family gatherings one pan full at a time then putting it in a crock pot to stay warm.  But this method that I discovered is easier and faster than that!  Interested?  Keep reading...

I volunteered to make a meal for a group of about 42 people.  I wanted to have enough for my own family of 5 too, so I rounded the number to 50 people.  When cooking for that many people, I try to leave some room for personal preferences so I chose to make a taco salad type meal with rice, meat, veggies, tortilla chips and condiments that individuals could put together according to their own tastes.  As the time got closer, my week began to fill up with some unexpected activities.  I realized I would only have a few hours on the day of the meal to get everything ready.   I have never been accused of being fast in the kitchen with food prep, and on this particular day I expected to be somewhat tired from a week full of activities.  I quickly realized I would not have enough room in the oven for the quantities of meat and rice and I was planning, so I concluded that I had to prepare the meat ahead of time.

I looked around my kitchen and decided to try a new roaster pan I had purchased at a "Stock Up Sale" at our local Big R. 
This roaster held about half of the meat and it had a nice fitting lid.


I kept looking and decided an extra large cake pan was the best I could do for the rest of the meat.  Since this pan did not have a lid, I covered it with a cookie sheet.  (Hint:  since the "lid" was not tight fitting, I found it best to put the full pan in the oven first, then cover it with the cookie sheet.)

I left the meat to cook for a while.   I checked on the meat after about 20-30 minutes.  I drained it and added the seasoning.  The meat in the cake pan was cooking faster than the meat in the roaster.

Because this is Crazy Season, I of course, got interrupted by a long phone call at this point.  (Don't worry, I put the meat back in the oven to finish cooking first.)  Anyway, as you probably guessed by now, I don't know how long the meat took to cook for sure.  The cake pan/cookie sheet combo seemed to cook about 9 pounds of meat in right around an hour.  The roaster pan took a little longer; I stirred it an extra time to help the middle cook completely.

Now that the meat was cooked I was able to put it in smaller pans (after it cooled) to keep it in the fridge overnight.  I reheated it in the oven for about an hour (while other things were cooking and being prepared) when I was ready to use it.

If you don't need to use the whole amount right away, you can place meal size portions in freezer bags or freezer containers.  Be sure to mark what it is and the date you prepared it.  When you need a quick meal, pull some cooked meat out of the freezer - it works best if you do it in the morning so it thaws some.  Prepare the rest of your meal while the meat warms and you have an easy supper.

I hope that helps some of you through crazy seasons of life.  Do some preparation ahead of time so you can continue providing good meals while still participating in and enjoying your family's activities.

Just for fun, I will close with a picture of my second oregano harvest.  I dry it and use it in my homemade taco seasoning and many other things.
Isn't it beautiful?  :-)