Thankful (and it’s not even November!)

Excuse me for being a bit personal.  I promise I’ll supplement it with some food talk as well, since that is the whole point of the blog!  But bear with me for a minute.

This weekend we bought a car.  I held off on saying anything since it hasn’t quite worked out how we anticipated.  But that’s a story for another day.  At any rate, we saved up for the car for several months, at the expense of paying extra on our student loans.  And when we made the purchase this weekend, it did stretch us a bit financially despite our saving.  Not so much that we were against the wall, but enough so that we want to watch spending for the rest of the month so that we can still make an overpayment on student loan debt.

But what that made me realize is that I feel incredibly thankful that we have that flexibility.  That our problem is not that we need to watch spending so that we can have enough to eat for the whole month.  Or so we can make sure our bills are paid before they disconnect anything crucial.  Or even so that we can start to recover from an unexpected medical emergency that forced us to pay a lot.  Nope.  We have self-induced urgency to watch our spending so that we can pay MORE than we’re technically required to pay.  Not everyone can say that.  Heck, we’re lucky we could even save up the money we needed for a second car in a matter of a few months.

It also made me thankful that we have flexibility in another way.  We could watch our spending on food this week because we have a well stocked pantry and freezer.  We’re able to spend a little more on butter and whole wheat flour one week because it’s on sale.  It doesn’t save us a ton, but it does help in weeks like these when we want to focus on using what we have instead of spending more on things we want.  And that buying in advance doesn’t make us squirm.  Some people have all they can do to afford what they need for that week.

Now this isn’t to say that I think we’re frivolous in our spending on normal weeks.  We still try to coordinate with the sales, we don’t eat out often, and we buy off brands where possible.  But for us, more so than a lot of people, it’s a choice.  Not a necessity.  And we’re making these choices now in part because we want to pay off our debt so we have even more flexibility to help those people for whom things like this are not a choice.  But again, it’s a choice we get to make.  Not that we’re forced to make.

And finally, to wrap up my thankful-in-March-as-opposed-to-November discussion, I’m thankful we have the flexibility to try new things in the kitchen.  When you’re a single mom or dad and trying to work to support kids AND be a good parent to them?  Sometimes it’s all you can do to get a decent dinner on the table.  Much less make a treat for your family.  But we have that ability to go beyond all that, even on a week we’re trying to go lean.  I got to be creative in the kitchen this week.  I got to go above and beyond getting dinner on the table 7 days a week.  And I did enjoy it.  And my belly enjoyed it.  And that makes me extremely grateful.

Here’s a little look at what we were able to do.

Irish Brown Bread

irish brown bread on cooling rackThis recipe was originally intended to be made with our corned beef and cabbage.  But since we spent Saturday while the corned beef was cooking tending to new car stuff, we made it Sunday to go with our soup instead.  It was perhaps a bit dry, but I liked that it was mostly whole wheat flour with a little white instead of the other way around.  It made it especially hardy.

Lemon Curd

lemon curd in jars and a spoonOne of the blogs I read strongly suggested (demanded?) that we make lemon curd before citrus was out of season.  We also happened to have 4 egg yolks from meringue cookies last week sitting in our fridge begging to be used rather than thrown out.  I decided that if I could find inexpensive lemons that looked good we’d go for it.  Lucky for me I hit the tail end of the citrus season somewhere with reasonably priced lemons.  It was pretty easy and we got to enjoy this in yogurt (and straight out of the jar – let’s be honest) as a result!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

So now we had all this lemon curd, and only two of us (a little goes a long way, even when you’re eating it by the spoonful).  Since we had Chris’ brother over for dinner on Tuesday, I thought these would be a good addition.  They looked very pretty once we added strawberry jam and the lemon curd, especially on an orange plate (my three favorite colors!).

strawberry jam and lemon curd filled sugar cookies on an orange plate

But….I don’t know if I can actually vouch for the recipe. I had been intrigued since it used so few ingredients, all of which we already had.  Better yet it made a smaller batch.  However, when I followed the recipe as written there was NO WAY it was going to be  ‘just blended’ so it could be ‘rolled in balls’.  It was waaay too crumbly and dry.  I ended up having to improvise and add another tablespoon of butter to get it to somewhat agree.  As a result they turned out dry and a bit too crisp for my liking.  However, the leftovers were softened slightly by the jam and were much better the next day.  And? Just as pretty.

close up of lemon curd and strawberry jam filled sugar cookies on an orange plate

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