What our daily meals are like, thoughts on food, etc...

Today was a fairly relaxing day. In the morning, I gave baths to the children, washed a load of laundry, stuff like that. I put Yehoshua down for a nap early (11 am) since he had gotten up before 7, and then in the afternoon, we went over to visit at my parents' house. My mom had invited her mom (my grandma), also, and she just loves to see her great-grandchildren. There's something so special about babies, and seeing generations together is so rewarding and touching.

This evening, Joshua asked me, "So, what's for dinner?" I replied that I had been thinking about making grilled cheese. We love grilled cheese, but it's like my back-up plan for when I haven't really planned ahead and don't know what else to make. :| So then I said, "Well, what do you want me to make?" and Joshua said, "Well, you should be able to come up with something that sounds good. After all, you are the owner of Tammy's Recipes.com!" I started laughing and said, "I knew that was coming sooner or later" ;) Then I said, "Well, honey, I hate to inform you of this, but I really am the same person I was 2 weeks ago when you bought the domain name. I wish buying a domain would change me! Ha, I would buy "excellent wife" and "nice mom all the time" and stuff like that!" :)

So, in case this website is giving anyone the impression that I am some fabulous cook who makes 7-course meals every night while being the best wife and mom in the world... ;)

Actually, usually my daily meals involve 3 main items.

There's a meat or main dish item (because my husband likes meat at every meal if possible!), a vegetable, and a bread/starch food. Salads are a bonus with me, unfortunately.

I rarely take the time to make a nice salad (with things like carrots, celery, onions, peas, peppers, boiled eggs, etc.) because they're a lot of work (almost as much work as a lot of main dishes!) and since they're just a side, we don't eat enough to make it worth the bother...before it goes bad in the fridge :|. Okay, poor excuses, I know.

Also, fruit is sometimes present, sometimes not. I love it when there's sales on fresh fruit, because we get tired of opening jars of applesauce at every meal. And I do keep bananas on hand whenever possible, for snacks.

And desserts are just whatever, whenever. I don't make it a priority to have a dessert handy every day or at every meal, and when we do eat dessert it usually isn't with meals, but rather as a snack. We also like to freeze things (like individually wrapped pieces of cheesecake, cookies, etc.) and take out just what we need. That way we're not tempted to eat the whole batch right away. ;) Well, I still get tempted, (especially if chocolate's involved!) but we're less likely to eat too much. :)


One of our dinners recently: Beef vegetable soup, leftover cornbread, and watermelon

You might notice that a lot of the pictures of whole plates of foods, really do only have 3 items. I think most of my recipes are for fairly simple things... because I really don't spend all day in the kitchen! And on some days, I can be overheard saying things like, "Ummm...I had dinner planned, really I did... but I just forgot what it was! Give me a minute and I'll remember." or "Well, I'm still deciding... do any of these 3 things sound good?!"

I do like to cook, and I do like making nice meals for others to enjoy (and, as my waistline shows, enjoying them myself ;D). But I am constantly searching for quicker and easier ways to do things (without compromising the quality of homemade meals!) and trying to be more efficient in the kitchen. I've also learned not to feel guilty about things that just aren't possible or practical for me to do.

One of those things involves homemade bread. My mom (who is an excellent cook, though she didn't know how to cook at all when she got married) has always made homemade bread. My dad taught her how (since he was the oldest of 13 children and grew up making it) and I think I was able to make bread by the time I was 8 or 10. With a decent-sized family, homemade bread disappeared in no time.

When Joshua and I got married, I was, of course, planning to make bread. I soon learned that with just 2 people in the house, homemade bread sat around and got stale. (Partly because homemade bread gets dry and crumbly in about 24 hours' time.) ;) I also had moved half-way across the country and for some reason had the most difficult time with getting my bread to turn out with a good texture. I made Joshua endure loaf after loaf of crumbly, dry, soggy, or dense bread before finally giving in and deciding to buy (yes, buy!) bread to make sandwiches for his lunches.

I do make bread occasionally (maybe once every week or two) for garlic bread or dinner rolls, but we buy a lot of bread, and you know what? I don't feel guilty about it. I can't do everything, after all! And you can't, either. So use this site for ideas and encouragement, but remember that there are more important things than making everything homemade or being the "best" at everything. :)

My Grill (Weber Q Grill)

Weber Grill

Welcome to Joshua's grill! I am very excited about Tammy's new site and I am honored that she asked me to do a regular contribution to her site. Now that I have all the major portions of the site deployed and functional I can move onto something much more exciting... like grilling meat!

It is fitting that my first blog starts with the foundation of all my outdoor cooking: my grill. But to begin, a little background is necessary. Being the oldest of six children I did a bit of cooking growing up, which I quite liked because I was good at it and I could 'experiment' much like one would do in chemistry class. Sure, there were some freaky accidents along the way...I have yet to forget the super-peppermint sugar cookies I made when I was about 12. I am still attempting to get rid of that horrid aftertaste! ... but overall it was a positive experience and prepared me well for manhood.

Like other males, as I began to branch out from boyhood to true manhood (grunt grunt) I had the uncontrollable urge to merge my fascination with fire with the consumption of red meat. Call it a right of passage, call it primal hungers being unleashed, or just call it a desire for a good steak! Whatever you call it I began practicing the forbidden (to women!) art of grilling.

My first grill was a small portable charcoal grill that Tammy and I bought weeks after being married. Being a man I had to demonstrate my manly skills in providing food! Thankfully she always had a backup plan when I came in with the bad news, "Uh, honey... our charbroiled burgers are now... uhmmm... charcoal burgers"! With time and patience I slowly learned the fine art of cooking a meat over a flame, and all was good.

After using this cheap-o grill and another charcoal grill (kindly donated by some friends) until they fell apart (literally) it was time to get serious. We were grilling on a regular basis and charcoal had become expensive and the preparation time was making grilling more work than pleasure. While I did not want to give up the delicious charcoal flavor I had decided the convenience of a gas grill--and the savings--would be worth a try.

Problem: Most gas grills are great at burning food and horrible at cooking it! Hot spots, cold spots, flare up and flame guards that did not work, direct heat the burned the outside and left the inside cold and mushy, and in general a very poor experience. The consensus: serious grillers need not apply.

But all hope was not lost. After months of reading up on grilling and reading various grills I had finally focused in on my future grill: The Weber Q Grill. Everywhere I turned this grill earned high marks. About.com ranked it highly and rated it as the top portable grill in its class. Likewise MSNBC recently ran a video segment concluding it was by far the best grill in its class (sorry I cannot find the link right this moment). The feedback at Amazon.com was absolutely amazing as well (the two current models here and here are just slightly different than mine).

I have used my Weber for two full years now and I can report back after nearly 4 tanks of gas and nearly 200 uses that this grill is not only the best grill I have ever used, but produces better grilled food than I have had anywhere else--including restaurants.

Yes, it is THAT good.

What makes it special? Lets cover some of the common complaints consumers have about grills:

- Hot spots & Cold spots
- Flare ups
- Too large of a dome to retain heat
- Poor balance between burner/grate temperature and ambient temperature in the dome

The Weber Q grill solves these problems in two unique ways:

  • Most grills are too big for the amount of heat they produce. To compensate the burners run hot resulting in focused hot spots and spotty cold spots and the general ambient temperature, due to a cavernous lid, is inadequate to help cook the food. To remedy this Weber created a dome with a very controlled profile. The Webber Q is compact and well designed for good airflow (giving a nice smoky taste) while reducing the unnecessary volume of air to arbitrarily heat.
  • The burner and grate on the Weber Q grill is ingeniously designed. Instead of multiple burners (which lead to further cold and hot spots) the Q grill has 1 burner. And instead of flimsy, ineffective flame guards Weber designed the burner as a giant loop with a corresponding thick strip of cast iron into the grill grate so the flames hit the bottom of the grate. This prevents most flare-ups and makes the cast iron grill EXTREMLY hot, leaving foods seared by the heat and not the flame. This encourages even cooking and leaves absolutely fabulous grill marks.

Grill Grate

The food this grill churns out is incredible. But Weber, being the company they are, went the extra mile. Instead of leaving me empty handed trying to figure out what temperature and time to cook food to, they provide a handy booklet with a dozen or so recipes and cooking instructions and in the back dozens upon dozens of meats, cuts, and cooking times / settings for the desired doneness. And they are ALL spot-on for the grill.

The Weber Q is also crafted with impeccable construction. After two years of frequent (and I mean frequent) grilling the grill is still in great shape. I had originally thought it would last 2 or so years and I would move on from there. Now I am looking more at 5 years! Considering the use I get out of it the price was a steal (~$180 when I bought it).

One of the nice features of this grill is that it is portable. I did not buy it for a portable grill mind you, but it is very easy to transport. And while it is classified as a "portable" grill don't let that fool you. It has a very large great--280 square inches--and I have cooked for 12 people at one time with the grill. 12 is pushing it, but you can do 8-10 people easy. If you do more of an ala carte you can do even more.

I have tweaked my grill slightly. The only consistent complaint I read about this grill was the small propane tanks did not provide even cooking due to pressure variations. The users I talked to said buy an adapter ($20) and hook up a traditional 20lb propane tank. Not only has this saved me money and convenience, it really works great. The only small note is you have to remember to turn off the pressure and bleed the line before you turn off the grill.

Overall I have no complaints about the food that comes off my Weber Q Grill. The food comes of sizzling hot and tasty with excellent grill marks. The combination of the searing hot grate and the super heated ambient air create perfectly crafted foods to your desired doneness. It is convenient, easy to use, large and portable.

My next grill won't only be a Weber, it will be another Q Grill. And at the price (under $200) I will be getting an absolute bargain.

Some examples of grilled food:

 


Edited to add: It has now been more than 2 years since this review was written. We still have the same Weber grill and we're still completely in love with it!! We use it weekly (if not daily!) in the summer, and even occasionally in the winter (it's in our garage, so we just open the garage doors).

This grill just works fabulously. Even I (Tammy) can grill with it -- it turns out beautiful food without much effort -- notice the lovely grill marks in the photos above: this is what this grill does every time. Even hot dogs taste great made on our Weber Q grill. 

Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by!

This site began as an idea for a kitchen blog. I enjoy cooking (most of the time :D) and had been thinking about starting a special "food blog" with recipes, for fun and to encourage others when they needed a little "kitchen inspiration". As I discussed my ideas with my husband, Joshua, we decided to add more and more things: besides having a blog, there's a whole directory for easy access, comment and review features, and various articles. I can't thank Joshua enough for all his hard work on the functionality of this site.

As we worked on making these ideas a reality, I realised that I was really enjoying this website! And I didn't want to only blog about what I'd been cooking. There's so much more to life than just food. ;)

So this website is my recipe box, my blog, and featured guest chefs, all in one. You can come here for recipes, menus, meal ideas, and kitchen topics... or even just to read about my life and see a few photos of my little ones. :)

If you would like to leave comments on blog entries, or review a recipe (after you have tried it, of course ;D), you will need to register a username. It's really simple: just click on the link to submit your email address and the name you wish to register. You'll receive a confirmation email, and you're all set! No one else can access your email address, and of course, we aren't going to spam you! :)

If you have suggestions for this site, run into a problem, or have a question, please take the opportunity to relpy to this post and let us know! We also can't wait to hear what you think of the site itself! And I'm sure Joshua would enjoy hearing that all his hard work is being enjoyed by someone besides just me. ;)

Thanks for visiting! We plan to update this site often, so be sure to visit again! May Yahweh bless you!

Tammy

What we've been busy cooking...

Too pretty!!

Joshua took this photo today, of a cheesecake we made. It was a joint effort, as I made the cherry topping last evening, and he made the cheesecake part this morning. Our neighbor dropped off some sour cherries, so I used those. And yes, the cheesecake tastes as good as it looks!!

So, besides cheesecake, what have we been eating? Well, Joshua made his awesome grilled salmon for me yesterday! It is always a treat for me when he makes it. I like it better than steak or chicken, even! I made some simple fried rice to go along with the salmon, and served peas with the meal.

We also tried a new recipe for cherry rhubarb dessert, which I thought was basically just a pie in a 9 x 13 dish. It was pretty good, but more work than I expected. Probably partly because I made the cherry pie filling from scratch. Pitting cherries is time-consuming! Anyway, I took the rest of that dessert over to my parents' house today for them to try. I know my mom really liked it... not sure about everyone else.

This evening's meal was chili and cornbread. Simple but tasty! The cornbread was especially easy because I already had the dry ingredients mixed together in a sandwich bag. All I had to do was crack 2 eggs, measure milk and oil, and grease the pan! Now, tell me how that could be harder than using a mix!?! Having my own "mixes" on hand sure is nice when I've been gone all day or didn't plan ahead like I should have. :)

And now it's time to head for bed... boy, I'm really tired!! I won't be walking tomorrow morning, though, because I hurt my ankle last night! I wonder if the children will let me sleep in past 6:15 am? :)

Welcome to our first guest chef, Ruth Visser of Vermont

Chicken Lo Mein

Ruth is sharing her recipe for Chicken Lo Mein. She writes, "I've come to realize lately that cooking is a passion for me. =) If I go a few days without baking something I begin to feel a little like I am having caffine withdrawl." :D

Page Type: 
Guest Chef Name: 

Eastern Shore Tea Company: Della Robbia Tea

As I was making my morning tea today, I was thinking about my new "tea" page here, and realised that the one tea review currently up isn't even tea, it's an herbal infusion! For a tea-lover like myself, this is almost sacrilege! So, I decided to review a wonderful tea blend by the Eastern Shore Tea Company: their Della Robbia.

Della Robbia teabag

My friend Nicole sent me this tea (she lives near Baltimore herself!) and I love it! It's black and fruity, with hazelnut tones. I don't think I've ever tasted a blend quite like this. Definitely a real treat!

Cherries!

Today was "supposed" to be a relaxing day at home, just puttering around, doing odd jobs. I should know by now that my "relaxing" days always get filled with more and more things that just "have" to get done!

My day started by waking up early (that's about 5:45 am for me) and feeding Eliyahu. He woke up and started giggling, apparently ready to start his day. So, about 6:30 I took him downstairs and Yehoshua woke up. I gave Yehoshua a bowl of homemade granola with milk for his breakfast, and managed to eat some myself, in-between changing diapers and getting ready for my walk.

At 7, I was pushing the double stroller down the street, meeting up with a friend who lives a couple blocks away, for our morning walk. We walked just over two miles (our usual), and I got home a little before 8.

By then, it was getting sunny and hot out, and I realised that I needed to get diapers in the washer. My morning practically flew by with attending to the children, making out a grocery list for the week, hanging out clothes, etc... In the afternoon, I was able to get the lawn mowed (since I thought it was going to storm this evening!) and kitchen cleaned up.

The only "real" cooking I did today was making a new dessert. We'll taste-test it and if it's good, I'll share the recipe. :) It took me a while to make because I was making my cherry pie filling from fresh cherries, as they're in season right now! Really good, but time-consuming. :D Yehoshua helped me, though!

Yehoshua helps wash and pit the cherries...

I have a few more recipes to share before I head to bed, if time permits. Oh, and Joshua bought a salmon fillet at the store today! We haven't had salmon lately, but I guess the season is starting. Joshua makes yummy grilled salmon. We have served his recipe often for company and even people who say that salmon isn't their favorite are usually impressed and say they really enjoyed his! I like it better than steak! But, anything that Joshua grills is good. :) I hope he writes a review on his grill soon, because it makes great food.

Here is what I made for lunch yesterday...

I finally got the recipe typed up, and wanted to post this picture of our lunch yesterday:

Chicken Gravy over Egg Noodles

This is one of my favorite uses for leftover chicken. :) I had some leftover Italian bread, so we had garlic bread with it, too. (We love gralic bread!)

Joshua's transformation skillz

Joshua turned this:

Marinating steaks

into this:

wow! 

Have I mentioned lately what an awesome cook my husband is?! I have been so blessed by his willingness to grill meat for me, or help make a dessert or side dish when company's coming.

Speaking of company, we had some yesterday. (I was going to blog about it last night, but I crashed my site. Still trying to get the bugs worked out before we start telling all our friends and family about this website.)

Well, here's a photo taken as we were getting ready to start eating lunch yesterday. My mom and sisters were our guests.

Enjoying the food...

I've been working on peas, and just got the last of them in the freezer. I decided to add a section for all my canning/freezing/dehydrating recipes. Since I'll be busy all summer and fall with stuff from the garden, why not? :)

I am SO excited about this blog and website. Joshua has put many hours into making me a functional, easy, and FUN site! He really gets all the credit for making this idea a reality for me! Thank you, honey!! :)

Well, Eliyahu is waking from his nap, so I will end here. Tonight I'll post a couple recipes and blog about what I made for lunch today!

Dip, peas, potatoes, and chicken

Today was a nice relaxing Sabbath spent at home. I slept in and then we ate breakfast (Joshua had pan-scrambled eggs and I had mine with tomato) and went for a leisurely walk. There is a river about a mile away, and we walked there so Yehoshua could see the rushing water (we had a lot of rain this week!).

We came back home and had oatmeal for lunch, and then took naps. :) About 3 pm, I put a chicken in the oven, along with a dish of potatoes. By 6:00, our dinner was ready: oven-roasted chicken, snow peas, and oven-baked potatoes. Joshua had some leftover Italian bread with his plate, too.

Joshua's dinner plate

Yehoshua and I made some dill dip, and he got to eat some with carrot sticks. He had never gotten to have dip before, but quickly decided that he liked it and kept asking for more! :) Here's a picture of him enjoying it:

Yehoshua + dip = fun :D

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