Monday, February 27, 2012

Breathing life into leftovers: Asian Salad

Last weekend Hubs and I headed to the grocery store.  They had pork roast on sale for $1.99/lb so I picked up a pack with 2 in it (about 3.5 lbs).  Fast forward a few days and I found it in the fridge on the bottom shelf.  I was weary about freezing it (a few days may be an understatement) so I roasted them both in the oven with some Montreal Steak Seasoning. We had it for supper with cauliflower and another side I don’t remember.

When Hubs and I were vacationing in Shipshewana, IN we ate a small coffee shop.  I can’t find a link for it, and I can’t remember the name.  I had an Asian chicken salad, which was so fantastic I drool thinking about it.

EDIT:  I found them.  It’s called Morton Street Coffee.

So I decided to try to recreate it.

I made a sweet asian dressing which was kind of morphed between a few recipes I found

Asian Salad (serves 4)

3/4 cup of oil (I used vegetable because I had it on hand.  I think olive would be too strong for this recipe)
3/8 cup of rice vinegar (I used seasoned because that’s what I have)
3/8 c sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce ( I added this for that asian flavor and a lot of recipes called for salt so I thought this was a good addition)

1 head of Napa Cabbage (I cut mine into shreds)
1 cup shredded carrots (I like carrots, I only chopped mine because I was lazy)
1/4 cup of sliced almonds (or more if you like)
1/4 dried cranberries
1 cup of diced meat of your choice (I used leftover pork roast and it was fantastic.  I can’t wait to try it with grilled chicken. If you want to keep it vegetarian, skip the meat)

1/4 cup sesame sticks

Mix dressing ingredients and whisk or shake so that everything gets emulsified.  Toss with salad ingredients.  Top with sesame sticks.

This was so good.  Hubs and I both had 2 bowls of it, but we only made half this recipe.  Next time I may try adding sunflower seeds for some more nutrition.  I’ve only tried Napa Cabbage once before, it was cooked and I didn’t like it.  But, I wanted to give it the chance to redeem itself. The checkout lady didn’t even know what it was when trying to ring it up.  I’m glad to have added a new vegetable to our repertoire and a new meal to our family’s meal plan.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Downsizing in today’s world

I read a lot of posts on the internet where people judge others for their spending habits.  Who cares if you’re “cheap”.  I know a lot of people with a lot of money who shop for clothing at Goodwill, can their own food, etc.

People seem to assume that once you have money you can start spending it.  But if we all did that, then we wouldn’t have any money.

Currently we live in a 1400 sq ft home.  It has 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms.  Most people consider our home “small”.  However we have a very large living room and kitchen.  Our rooms are good sized and have large closets.  We also have a full basement.  I’ve never longed for space here.

Hubs and I put in an offer on a house yesterday.  It’s only just over 1200 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  And it has no basement. A lot of people have asked why.

Well because we WANT to downsize.  Upsizing comes with a lot of hidden costs.  A bigger home costs more to heat, cool, maintain, taxes, insurance, etc.  It costs more of my time to clean it and I don’t have that luxury right now.

We’ve been furiously sorting, packing, donating and trashing our current possessions in order to get our house on the market on Tuesday. (Yes we put an offer in on a house before ours is sold. It is a short sale/foreclosure and the bank has up to 60 days to accept, counter or reject our offer.  It could take a long time). 

I cannot believe the amount of stuff we had that was unopened from my bridal shower or that I couldn’t remember the last time we used.  We had a beautiful set of crystal candlesticks, vase and dish that was literally still in the box, never used.  We had an electric skillet that I remember using once in this house.  We’ve lived here for 3.25 years now.

With every box we donated it really felt like a weight was lifted of my chest.  It’s been easier to clean our home without so much junk in the way, and it’s been easier to find everything we need.  We’ve done 1 van-full to a local thrift store that is part of church community and 1 to the new salvation army a few miles away. 

It’s been easy to overlook all the stuff because of our basement.  A lot of things were in boxes, out of sight and out of mind.  It’s been easier to ignore it than to dive into it and clean it. But then it hit me, we have to move all this stuff!  We’ve donated clothing, unused blankets, small appliances, wedding gifts, baby clothing, school supplies, etc.  And I feel better.

I’ve talked with a lot of people who can’t believe how much we’ve gotten rid of.  And I get the same old question…what if you need it in the future?  Well, I haven’t needed it in the 5 years we’ve been married and I didn’t even remember we had it, so I doubt I’ll ever need it.  People confuse the word want and need lately.  I wanted a nice new car.  I needed a reliable car to get Bear and I to doctors appointments with good gas mileage.  I got a car that was 2 years old and had 16,000 miles on it.  Not my dream car, but it’s been terrific.  I may WANT crystal candlesticks in my future, but I certainly do not need them. 

Once we started boxing things up we stored them in the kitchen (we have this weird corner which would be great for a china hutch, but we never got one) for two weeks.  If in those two weeks I needed something out of those boxes then I could retrieve it and all would be well.  Shortly after stacking them in the kitchen, I realized I wouldn’t need anything in them because to be honest, I couldn’t even really remember what we packed in them.

The only time I had a hard time parting with anything was our baby girl clothes.  We didn’t find out Bear’s sex before he was born and we had been given a few girl clothes.  I held on to them incase this baby was a girl.  It was very hard to get rid of them knowing that we won’t have anymore children after this Baby Boy (even though I desperately want them).  But I know in my heart, that someone else can use them and it can help me move through my grief over this diagnosis.

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