Bountiful Big Breakfast – Lodge Style

April 10, 2013 Leave a comment

One of my devoted fans wanted a bit more detail on the pans mentioned in my last post.¬† ūüôā I will do anything to keep my many, many readers happy! So, on our adventure to Florida we made a bit of an off-the-beaten path detour to The Lodge Factory Outlet store. ¬†Turns out this cookware has been manufactured for over 100 years.

Fried Eggs, Leo's Pancakes

Fried Eggs, Leo’s Pancakes

The store clerks were all very helpful.¬† Each suggested we go with items from the “Seconds” department.¬† Which meant our pans had slight flaws and were seasoned and ready to use.¬† I selected a basic 12 inch skillet and a griddle to use on my gas stove.¬† With my purchases, and the stuff the two sister-in-laws picked up we added the weight of another person in our already packed minivan.

The skillet is not your typical non-stick pan.¬† It is a heavy duty pan that can be used on the stove or over a camp-fire.¬† It takes a bit of practice to get the feel for how high or low to set the flame on the gas stove. ¬†This past Sunday I made what we call Big Breakfast. ¬†I used the new pan and the griddle. ¬†The griddle was perfect for fried eggs and Leo’s Pancakes. ¬†Without question, Lodge creates pans that are made to fry up bacon. ¬†Clean up of the Lodge cookware also takes a bit to get used to. ¬†No Soap! And preferably no water. ¬†Heat the pan back up, get the bits and grime off. ¬†Then put some oil on it and let it heat up again. This is the seasoning process.¬† Seasoning is when vegi-oil gets baked into the pan creating a non-chemical, non-stick coating.¬† The whole process is kind of relaxing.


All it takes is a bit of oil and some heat to season these pans.

One is of my “in the process of cooking” breakfast shot.¬† This is one of many reasons why I could never be a food blogger or TV host.¬† I am a messy, messy, unorganized, fly by the seat of my pants home cook.

messy kitchen

Cooking process

Leo’s Dairy Free & Whole Wheat Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon – I probably use a bit more than this
2 Large eggs – at room temp – although this is not usually the case in my house
1 cup lite vanilla soy milk
1/4 cup water – or a bit more depending on consistency
2 Tablespoons of canola or vegi-oil

DirectionsWhisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the milk, water and oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, and whisk until a thick batter is formed.
Let the batter sit for a bit.  Heat up the pan or griddle with a bit of oil.
Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter to form a pancake.  Heat until bubbles form Рthen give it a confident flip.
Leo loves blue berries.¬† I usually add those when it is just about ready to flip.¬† I take a spoon to cover the berries with a bit of batter so they don’t burn or stick.¬† Add more oil to the pan if it needs it.¬† Eat up!

I wish the dads were here…

April 4, 2013 1 comment

Sis-in-law, “We should just drive. ¬†Tickets are crazy expensive.”

Me, “Yeah! Let’s drive that seems totally reasonable.”

And so it began our adventure with 3 “moms” and four kids under 10 jammed into one minivan en route to Daytona Beach. ¬†If you Google it you will see that it is two 12-hour days of driving. Totally reasonable. ¬†We headed out at the crack of dawn. All good road trips begin before the sun comes up. ¬†In the beginning time passes quickly. ¬†Kids are quiet because they are still drowsy, and the moms are happy because their is much to chat about. ¬†Day 1 was pretty much a breeze.

Day two gets off to a slow start. ¬†Free breakfast at the Best Western, a stop at Starbucks that included getting back in line ¬†because we needed our road trip theme music and they had the new JT album. ¬†These things take time. ¬†Then comes the, “Oh my! We have to stop here!” ¬†The billboard said Lodge Outlet. ¬†I took the exit as requested. ¬†We drove off the freeway wondering if we had taken the wrong exit. ¬†Passed through a small town, and finally found the Lodge store. ¬†Lodge seasoned cookware is serious cookware. It is located in the Cumberland Plateau of the ¬†Appalachian Mountains in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. ¬†The stop was totally worth it. ¬†We followed this diversion with a “quick” (not so quick lunch for 7) at the local Mexican restaurant. Beans anyone?

Fed, happy with our Lodge pan purchases and ready to get back on the road we all piled into the minivan. ¬†We were only on the road about 20 minutes when traffic came to a screeching halt. ¬†It was crawling along. ¬†This of course was a trigger for “Mommy I need to go potty.” ¬†Hmmm. ¬†No exits, no place to pull over. ¬†We had a problem. ¬†So, I drove on the shoulder until we found an exit. ¬†Now to find a bathroom. ¬†We found one, and asked the sweetheart of a store clerk if there were any alternative routes to the one we were on. ¬†He got out a map, but could not find Jasper, Tennessee on said map. ¬†This, for many, might be a sign to stay on the big road. ¬†Don’t detour. ¬†But not us. ¬†We followed his directions minus a turn or maybe two. ¬†The two lane road eventually began to climb, and turn. We were heading into the Prentice Cooper State Forest. ¬†I was nervously giggling. ¬†And we were making jokes about the drive. ¬†When from the backseat a little voice proclaimed, “I wish the dads were here.” ¬†Guess our little passengers lacked confidence in our abilities to lead us through the forest.

We lost at least two hours with our detour.  When we finally crossed the river and caught back up to the main road we still had 8 hours and 35 minutes to go.  Roughly the same amount of time as when we left from lunch.  I will never forget this detour; it is what road trips are made for.  And while we dearly love the dads in our lives; the moms did just fine through the forest.


Kids in the backseat.

kids in car


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Succeeding in life

March 10, 2013 1 comment

 Am I the right size?  Have I made it far enough in my career?  Am I working as hard as I can?  Did I win? Unfortunately, (and I know I am not alone here) i started to measure myself in these categories a long time ago and it runs deep.  Sure I can point to our culture, media, how I was raised etc.  But bottom line I look at my success and failures with a very harsh and critical eye in these areas Рand many others.  Achievement matters to me.  Succeeding in my career is important.  And sometimes I obsess over it.  While I intellectually am aware of how limiting this line of thinking can be I do find myself drifting here all too often.

But today, I have been forced to take a different view.  Forced because life tosses up reminders all the time about what is really important.  This year had barely started when a friend of my daughter was badly injured in a ski accident.  Her success is now measured in relearning the basics of life.  Everyday she accomplishes something amazing.  I watch how her family supports her every minute.  Her sister is taking a leave of absence from her burgeoning career to be there with her.  The love, fulfillment and joy she will both give and receive is so much more than anyone ever found in climbing the corporate ladder.  That is success where it matter.

Such a good reminder of what it really means to succeed in life. #FOE  

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A girl who wants gourmet food…on a budget?

April 9, 2011 Leave a comment

First, I have to thank my sweet cousin J who kicked me in the rear last weekend for my lapse in posting.

Here is the deal we are trying to watch what we spend.¬† It seems so simple.¬† Why do I find it so HARD to do consistently?¬† For me, its like exercising I know I should do it; I just don’t –¬† at least not with any consistency.¬† I have had my successes, but the grocery thing is very difficult.¬† It requires significant planning.¬† In theory this should be a snap requiring a few steps:

  1. Pick the meals for each evening.¬† (Color commentary: What if I don’t want meatloaf on Tuesday.¬† Too bad)
  2. Write a list. (Color commentary: I use my mom’s tried and true system of writing the list in the order of the store layout.¬† It works.)
  3. Clip coupons and look at weekly ad for Rainbow.  (Color commentary: This sucks.)
  4. Go to Rainbow on Sunday with every other Saint Paul resident. (Color commentary: I included the color commentary in the actual statement.)
  5. Fill the cart with all appropriate ingredients & staples. (Color Commentary: I don’t understand why produce is before the heavy stuff. )
  6. Stand in line. (Color Commentary: Saint Paul has many residents shopping on Sunday.)
  7. Bag your stuff.  (Color Commentary: This stresses me out.  I never bag fast enough.  I have too much stuff, and am always balancing something precariously on the top of the cart.  Where are the eggs?)
  8. Pay. (Color Commentary: I like it when I save – it feels good.)

Did I say a few steps?¬† After all of this, I head home to unpack and put everything away .¬† More than once I have left some items at Rainbow because I get all freaked out during the grocery packing experience.¬† So, I get lazy and head over to Lund’s on a dinner by dinner basis.¬† There is nothing remotely frugal about this decision.¬† Last night, I bought one meal and a couple gallons of milk.¬† It was close to $50 bucks.¬† It did not help that I bought the New York Strip for the kabobs.¬† They looked good.¬† Better than the round steak, and they were “on-sale.”¬† Still that is not saving it is splurging.¬† So I am getting back on the Rainbow wagon.¬† See you at the Midway Rainbow tomorrow – list in hand.

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The girl with a brown bag lunch

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment

When I embarked on the 2011 New Year’s resolution of saving money I knew one of the things I had to kick was lunch at Sandy’s Cafe.¬†¬† The prices are not readily available, and some items like the sushi or the large salad tend to be pretty expensive.¬† On average my daily lunch expense was $7.00.¬†¬† So, to be true to my resolution, I needed to go with a more economically sound lunch choice.¬† But I had concerns.¬† My biggest fear was that I would fall out of touch with people at work.¬† For me lunch time is all about the connection.¬† I love running into people I have not seen for a while.¬†¬†¬† I enjoy hearing about how things are going for people both at work and with their families.¬† And at work the best time for this connection is lunch.¬† And frankly, what is better than tomato basil soup with a juicy side of gossip?

But I had to try it.  I had to force myself to bring lunch from home.

To my delight, I have found a whole new circle of people who don’t head down for lunch.¬† Everyday people gather in the little kitchen area on our floor taking turns to zap their lunches.¬† In fact now we have all begun to make the effort to eat at about the same time.¬† We have had some great discussions about saving money, career aspirations, weekend plans and life in general.¬† On other days I sit by myself and look outside.¬† It is really good for me to just rest my head for a few minutes.

I have been bringing a range of things for lunch like leftovers, salmon salad and vegis with brown rice.¬† I have managed to keep the cost down on these items by buying things on sale. For example, the salmon packs were 10 for $10.¬† When I bring leftovers I kind of think of that as free.¬† Other benefits of the brown bag lunch have included controlling portion size, ingredients and calories.¬† It has also forced me to end a few other bad habits like “accidentally” getting a grilled cheese when I meant to get a salad.¬† All told I think I have saved about $150.

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The boy who ate bison

January 24, 2011 1 comment

My dad would never have needed a bucket list.¬† He chose to live life with zest;¬† taking every opportunity to try something new.¬† He started several businesses, traveled the world and even ran for a state office.¬† This adventurous spirit impacted his wallet.¬† He rarely said no to something new, and this applied to his kids’ crazy ideas as well.¬† In fact, he encouraged us to explore the world, and be active participants in life which usually had an associated price tag.¬† When my brother Kris wanted to eat something he could not pronounce namely, escargot, my dad ordered it up for all of us to try.¬† I love this sense of adventure, but at times it runs very contrary to frugality.

Which brings me to our vacation in Montana.¬† Let me start by saying that saving and vacationing are not really two concepts that work well together for me.¬† On a vacation, I want to experience everything – activities, great food, all the sites.¬† My family was gathering to celebrate my Mom’s 75th birthday.¬† To celebrate we ate at the 320 Ranch .¬† It is a family favorite because it really encapsulates the spirit of Montana.¬† Their menu is filled with local fare like Elk, Bison and 320 Ranch Beef.¬† George was seated at the table with a regular menu, and quickly began looking at the options.¬† It was a matter of seconds before he spotted something that sounded great.¬† Once he was assured that he could have a red wine gravy he was decided.¬† George wanted the Bison Short Ribs.¬† This is a perfect example of “saving” and “experiencing” colliding.¬† The kids’ menu had several options around $7, and I had no way of knowing if he would even like the meal. ¬† The truth is I never even thought about the price until it was pointed out to me.¬† For me it was exciting that he was willing to try something unusual.¬† So without hesitation, or concern for any old resolution, I insisted that he get what he wanted.¬† How often in life do you get to try a fabulous local meal of Bison Short Ribs?

In the end, George ate most of his meal declaring that it was really wonderful.  I want all of my kids to live within their means, but I also want them to have spirited sense of adventure.  That will sometimes require that they splurge on the Bison Short Ribs braised in a Red Wine Gravy.

The boy who ate bison

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A Highly Caffinated Girl

January 8, 2011 1 comment

Who knew the money saving thing would help me bust some myths about myself.  Oh please hold there.  I need to grab a cup of coffee.  No really. Well, truthfully I did not kick coffee. Believe me that would be a bad idea for everyone involved.  I did however manage to get through the entire week making my own brew at home, and bringing it in a lovely mug.  Now, I am a pretty picky coffee person.  For the last ten plus years, I have been enjoying a depth charge, red eye, or at Starbucks a Grande Coffee with a shot of espresso.  Yes, it is hardcore.  Yes, you are ready to conquer the world, or your middle management desk job after enjoying this beverage.  So no regular cup of Folgers will suffice this bad ass habit.  So I bought an old school espresso maker at Ikea for $14.00.  Sometime you have to spend to save.  Right? I made two shots of espresso, and tossed it in the mug with my Folgers. I am depth charged up for the day!  Skipping the morning java fix at the Caribou everyday (or sometimes twice a day) will save me over $1200 a year.

This coming week will prove challenging on the money front.¬† We are heading out on vacation.¬† All six of us will be trekking out to Big Sky, Montana to meet the rest of my family for a ski trip.¬† When I was growing up we often took the family ski trip.¬† I started skiing at 4.¬† That said, I am pretty sure ski school back in the day did not cost a whopping $142 a day per freaking kid.¬† Who can cover that?¬† So needless to say we are skipping the ski school.¬† The boys will learn to ski, but it will be a little more “home-school” method on Buck Hill.

I tried to research coupons for the lift tickets, and less costly ways to rent skis.  We have to rent there due to lack of space in the mini-van.  Rental adds up quickly, and so do the lift tickets. I will be finding other ways to save like bringing our lunch to the hill.  If I come up with any handy ideas along the way I will be sure to post.


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