Thursday, October 6, 2011

Desperate times...

These last few weeks have been hectic.  I have often felt like I’m on the edge of spinning out of control as I navigate school and preschool drop-offs and newsletters, home reading, spelling words, Ava’s cast appointments and the myriad other things that make up my life right now.  In fact I just got a note home saying we missed Tristan’s sharing conference at school on Tuesday night.  How?  How, did I miss that?  It was on my calendar!  A few weeks ago, in desperation, I asked my highly organized, scarily efficient best friend, Michelle some of her secrets. 

Thanks to the conversation I had with her I have now implemented a “Monday Prep Day”. This is now the day I do any baking that needs to be done and as much advance cooking or prep as I can do for dinners for the rest of the week.  I started two weeks ago.  How’s it been going you ask?  Remember how in my last post I said if everything always went according to plan I wouldn’t have anything to write about?  We-eee-lllll, let’s just say after two weeks the kinks are not entirely worked out.

Week 1: I woke up in the morning with my game face on ready to tackle my kitchen and bring a whole new level of peace into my life.  I made a pot of tea, I cleared off counters, I got out recipe books, I started lining my island with ingredients.... and realized I had left all my meat in the freezer.  So I made a batch of clean eating Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins and called it a day.  I spent the next few hours drinking tea on my deck, reading and talking to my sister. 

Actually now that I think about it.  It was kind of an awesome day.  Except I still had to make every part of dinner every night that week.

Week 2: This past Monday I woke up at 6:00am so excited about having a day to putter in my kitchen I couldn’t fall back to sleep.  I decided then was as good a time as any to do a workout video so I actually got up and did one.  I’m still in shock.  After I dropped the kids off at school I made a pot of tea, cleared off counters, got out recipe books and lined my island with ingredients and cranked Harry Chapin Live.  The meat was even defrosted in my fridge! I was all set.  I was ready to OWN Monday Prep Day.  I got my bread machine going to make dough which I was later going to turn into Cheddar Dill Onion Buns.  I mixed up a double batch of Ginger Molasses Cookies and rolled them all into balls and then rolled the balls in sugar.  While the first tray of cookies were baking I mixed the batter for some healthy Cherry Almond Muffins.  (Which psychologically counteracts the unhealthy cookies.) As I opened a new box of baking soda to use in the muffin batter I was thinking about the cookies.  They always bake consistently for 9 minutes in my oven - just until the tops crackle.  20 minutes in they still hadn't crackled.  I took them out anyway because 20 minutes is a ridiculously long time to bake any cookie, but I was perplexed.  I make these cookies so often throughout the fall and winter months I almost have the recipe memorized.  They always turn out. What on earth had I done?  It was as I glanced back over the recipe it registered. If I had had to open a box of baking soda for the muffins I certainly hadn’t used 2 tsp of it in the cookies!  Ergo, really, really nice-smelling hockey pucks.  Yeah... So... That was a do-over.

The other thing that didn’t go quite right was the Cheddar Dill Onion Buns.  I made these all last winter with soups and stews but I hadn’t made them yet this year so when I pulled the lovely, yeasty, onion-y smelling dough out of my bread machine I couldn’t for the life of me remember whether I used my 9x11 or my 9x13 last year.  You wouldn’t think those two inches could make so much of a difference.  The first batch I made was to go into the freezer to be pulled out over this Thanksgiving weekend along with some Sausage Lentil  Soup which I made and froze Monday afternoon.  I closed and my eyes and picked my 9x11.  I rolled my lump of dough into 6 balls and let them rise.   The buns ended up enormous.  Like elephantitisly (if I can make up a word) enormous.  Seriously.  I almost could have hollowed them out and used them as soup bowls.  I was making two batches anyway so we could also have buns with our chilli Monday night. I decided batch #1 would be for dinner and batch #2 would be made with significantly smaller balls in my bigger baking dish and be saved for my Thanksgiving company.  Batch #2 turned out fantastic.  I took ten beautifully golden, perfectly-sized buns out of the oven and turned it off.  I set them on the stove to admire them. They were perfect. 


The chili suddenly started to bubble over while I was trying to spice it up and I totally forgot about the buns.  By the time I remembered them, the golden crusty tops had started sinking into the now-spongy bottoms.  I immediately took them out of the pan and put them on a cooling rack to try to salvage them.  And then I cried a little and seriously considered making a third batch after the kids went to bed. Because I’m really a perfectionist at heart.  Though you wouldn’t know it by Monday’s little shenanigans (or the state of my kitchen floors on any given day)!  I didn't end up making a third batch.  It was already 5:00 and I was exhausted.  I had been in the kitchen since 8:45am.

On the plus side, it was so great to have chili made and then have leftovers and so nice to have all my veggies chopped and my peanut sauce already made for my stirfry.  I think I’m going to love this system once I get all the kinks worked out.  So, last week I learned to take the meat out the night before.  This week I learned to read recipes thoroughly and take myself a little less seriously.  Those shrunken buns may not look quite as picture perfect as usual but they won’t taste any different.  And when we’re sitting around the table this Thanksgiving weekend with our good friends Wayne and Laura, who we rarely get to see, dunking those buns into steaming hot soup, I really don’t think it'll be the shape of the buns we’ll be focusing on.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Happy visiting, happy prepping and happy decorating (if you do that kind of thing). I have a handmade cornucopia on my table from Ava and that will be the extent of my decor.  Did I mention it’s Sebastian’s birthday tomorrow and the kids don’t have school we’re having his birthday party tomorrow night?  What was it I was saying before... oh yes, “I am slowly going crazy 1-2-3-4-5-6 switch.”


  1. I know you're not busy at all so I think you need to provide recipes and pictures. ;) I kid, I kid. Here's to hoping Week 3 is much, much more organized. I think I'm going to try "Monday Prep Day". Also, I'd love to hear some more of Michelle's tip to a more organized life. ;)

  2. Yes. You should get Michelle to do a guest-blog (since we all know she's a blogging slacker on her own blog!)

    And seriously. That post made me so tired! But good for you! ;)