This week was great because…

Similar to the ideas of focusing on the roses, or of enumerating things to be grateful for, another idea for improving positive thinking is to focus on what has been accomplished and what has been good.  Fat Man has used this idea pretty successfully himself, and it’s been floating to the surface of my mind this week.

This week has been good because I went skating twice, and skated so hard that I was sore the next day.

This week has been good because every day (that I’ve been home; Foster doesn’t count!) I have gotten my basic daily chores done.  I’ve done laundry.  I’ve cooked dinner.  I’ve been writing.  I’ve been practicing with my bodhran. I’ve been picking things up.  I haven’t been able to get this much done this consistently in months, maybe years.20131025 Kender's big check

This week has been good because I finally made a trip to the bank to deposit Kender‘s donations, and he showed off his giant check to the tellers.

This week has been good because I learned more new things for my Vikings class, and learned more about a new craft that might help keep my hands and feet warmer in the winter.

20131108 Midnight in cageThis week has been good because I caught Midnight escaping her cage, and I moved her and her things into Pixel’s old cage before Teddy Bear actually caught her and decided she was tasty.

This week has been good because I discovered my pie crust recipe makes an excellent, tasty wrapper for pasties.

This week has been good because I played Othello with Liam and Jarod, and I got to watch Jarod learn how to think ahead and anticipate my moves.

This week was great.

I Made Butter

I made butter tonight. It’s not like I set out to do so. It all started with the stew. Or maybe with the grocery budget.

I tried to start a new eating plan earlier this month that required expensive materials. I did one shopping trip trying to obtain the special food, and then gave up, but I had already spent a chunk of money on it. So now at the end of the month, I’m over budget. Even though the freezer is empty and the pantry is draining, I don’t want to go to the store unless I absolutely have to. So tonight’s dinner menu was to be stew, starting with two cans of meatball stew I had in the pantry. (I think I ended up adding 2 cups of pearl barley, 2 cans of kidney beans, 1 can of baked beans, 1 can of peas, 2 cans of tomato paste, water, bay leaves, white pepper, black pepper, oregano, and garlic.)

What good is stew without bread? I wanted to make Irish soda bread, but good Irish soda bread needs buttermilk, which I didn’t have. I went to pull up the recipe for fake buttermilk (1 Tbsp vinegar then fill the cup with milk, if you’re curious). The page I found had a snip at the end to the effect of you could make your own buttermilk if you had heavy cream laying about.

Wouldn’t you know it, I had a whole quart of heavy cream that was in danger of going out of date next week that I still didn’t have a use for! So I tossed it in the mixer and turned it on. Normally when you do this, you stop when it gets all fluffy, and then you add sugar and vanilla and have whipped cream (and if you’ve only ever had Cool Whip or Redi-Whip, you have GOT to try homemade whipped cream). This time, though, I didn’t stop there. I kept going. Just leave the mixer on for 10-15 minutes. It will go past whipped cream and turn into butter. You have to scrape the sides a bit to make sure all the cream gets in. Gradually, it will start to look yellow and crumbly, and when it starts splashing, it’s done.

Now I had butter bits in buttermilk. I strained the butter in a strainer, then used a wooden spoon to knead the butter against the strainer and squeeze out the rest of the milk. The milk went into the soda bread, and then I added salt and kneaded it into the butter. The butter went on the soda bread when it was done cooking. Yay, dinner! And I still had enough butter left over to fill my butter dish for toast and things.

I’ll have to check the prices, but this could be a good way to get buttermilk when I want it, since I tend to buy a quart and then not use half of it. I got about 2.5 cups of buttermilk out of a quart of heavy whipping cream, and what looks like a pound of butter. Considering how fast we go through butter, and the price of the whipping cream, it could be cheaper this way…and definitely more fun!