Saturday, October 25, 2014

Frog Legs

Spring in New Hampshire is an awesome, nasty, sloppy mess especially if you live in the woods, half way up a mountain. Spring was also noisy. Yes, noisy. You would not believe how noisy it could be. The mud that made our dirt driveway impassable (the truck sat stuck in it for weeks) did not make any noise. The leaves sprouting on the poplar trees that surrounded the house made no noise. Neither did the small patches of leftover melting snow. The noise was from the FROGS!
That small ditch pond we so happily skated on through the winter was now the mating and nesting grounds of thousands of frogs. You would never have guessed such a small pond (maybe 30 ft x 20 ft) could produce such sound but it did every spring.
It was impossible not to hear then. It was a loud, steady drone the whole day through. I had walked down and seen that the pond was covered in frogs but I didn't know that my father had taken notice as well. He never mentioned it and he didn't walk down there to check them out like I did. Just one day he took his pole. This caught mine and my brother's attention immediately. I was a girl but I was such a tomboy and I loved fishing. However, my father didn't take bait. He went to the ragbag where we kept the leftover fabric scraps and got a small piece of red felt. He didn't tell us what he was doing but we got poles and followed him as he knew we would. My father wasn't a secretive person but he liked to surprise us and I think he believed in teaching by example.
Once we were down by the pond you couldn't hear to talk anyway. That was how much noise those frogs made. We watched him cut off a very small square from the red felt, put it on his hook, dangle it in front of a frogs face, and SNAP! a second later the frog had snapped it up and he was caught. My father hit its head on a stone from an old stone wall bordering one side of the pond and put it in a plastic bag he had also brought.
Both my brother and myself asked for a bit of red felt and we were off catching frogs. Oh we knew they were for eating, we had had frog legs once before but one frog set of frog legs does not make much of a meal. We were out there for hours, my father went in before we did but we kept catching frogs. We caught 47 the first day and went out again the next day and caught 54. This didn't even make a dent in the frog population or noise level of our little pond.
My father cut and skinned the frog legs and put them in a cast iron frying pan. Then quickly slapped the lid on it. He then lifted it a bit and showed us how the frog leg reflexes would make the legs jump if he didn't have the lid on and they did, they jumped like they were still a attached to the frog!
We, my brother, my father and I, happily ate the frog legs after they were cooked (yes, they taste quite a bit like chicken) though my mother and sister thought it was gross and would not eat any.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to Shop

I had a friend who once told me that she never learned how to shop. What she meant was she didn't know how to "bargain shop". She said she went to one grocery store and just bought what they had. This was kind of amazing to me. It never occurred to me that people didn't watch the sales and shop accordingly.
I was quite pleased when I moved here to find that there were 4 large grocery stores in town to choose from (we only have 3 now) and they are all no more than a mile from each other. It didn't take long to establish  'what to buy where'. This has changed some over the years but I still know what is mostly on sale now at each of the stores.
One of the stores is my favorite for meat. It always has a good selection and if you get there early enough...but not too early, you can go through the marked down meat and get some good deals. The other store has all the buy 1 get 1 free sales and it also has the fuel perks. The last store is Wal-mart, it is where I get most of my boxed and canned stuff because it is always cheaper there.
What also amazed me about my friend was that she didn't buy the marked down stuff saying she didn't know what was still "good".  You have eaten food all your life and you don't know what is good? Smell it! Touch it! Look it over good! If it looks good and smells good it probably is good as far as meat and fresh vegetables go. If it is in a can, it is likely still good anyway.
Also think about what you can use it for. If it is a really good deal but you don't usually buy it, think of what you could use it for. For instance, this week one store had these small rolls of turkey marked down.

This part of a roll was only $2.11.  It was too good of a deal to pass up so I had to think of what to use it for. I felt I could slice it and use it for sandwich meat or I could dice it in cubes and put it in a casserole or quiche. I bought 4 of them. I sliced one today.

Sorry about the phone picture but this package is only a third of what I sliced up. We will have plenty of sandwich meat for a while and meat for several dinner meals...and they were $2.11 each! (Yes, I will post when I make other meals from it).
I always buy extra of a good deal. Last year at Christmas the turkeys were so cheap that I couldn't resist and bought four of them. Two of them are still in the freezer and will be used this year at Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is one less thing during the holidays that I will have to worry about this year.
Also keep in mind that the larger grocery stores aren't the only place to shop. I go to the next town over every week for violin lessons and I often stop in their little Family Dollar Store because they have the treats my dogs like in there at a really good price and since the store is right there on my way it doesn't cost me any extra gas.

Of course, your garden is the best place to shop. These are probably the last of the peppers picked from my pots the other day.

I don't use hot peppers very much (unless I have a lot of them to make hot pepper relish with) but I will cut them up and freeze them so that I can use a little of them here or there.

Anyway, happy shopping and keep looking for those bargains!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I swear it is not the same as it used to be. I used to make bread and it would rise up out of the pan and swell over it like bread is supposed to but it never does it now. I am trying to make bread today and used two "rapid rise yeast" and it is SO slow and will probably just barely get over the pan rim. Maybe I am more impatient than I used to be? I think that is unlikely. I know what you are all going to say that sourdough is better and I liked it when I had a sourdough but it never rose over the rim either and I did not use it enough to keep it going well. I am going to wait longer for it to rise although I wanted to have it with dinner. Maybe I can get it over the rim eventually.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Baked Ziti

Or in our case baked macaroni since I had no Ziti yesterday. I had gone to my brother's house on Tuesday to visit and my sister-in-law fed us this for lunch. It always seems funny to me that I probably have several cookbooks with Baked Ziti recipes in them but I almost never try anything new from a cookbook. For some reason I have to see the recipe in person which is what happened with this one. It was SO good! So she told me what she had put in it and I made it for us the next day...except I didn't have any ziti and substituted the macaroni for it. Pasta is pasta.
So anyway, wanted to write the recipe down so I would always have it.

Baked Ziti

1 box ziti or other pasta
Peppers- I have a bag in the freezer that has cut up peppers all different colors in it and I used a handful of these.
Onion- I used a half of a medium onion
1 can of spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese (the grated kind)
Mozzarela or other shredded cheese (8 oz bag)
Italian seasoning
1 1/2 lbs hamburger

Cook the pasta, Meanwhile cook the hamburger, onions and peppers in a frying pan. Sprinkle generously with Italian seasoning while cooking. Drain grease, add spaghetti sauce. Cook the sauce on low until pasta is done. Drain pasta. Mix the two together add about a cup of  grated parmesan cheese, add about half your shredded cheese. Put in a 9x13 in. pan. Sprinkle the top with more parmesan cheese and the rest of your shredded. Cook for about a half an hour in an oven on about 375 degrees.

I made this ahead of time and covered it and put it in the frig for Phil to cook when he got home. He had to cook it in the oven a bit longer because it was cold.

Sorry I did not think to take a picture. Everyone had second helpings of this, EVEN MICHELLE!
I know, amazing!