Sunday, July 16, 2017

Teaching Service While Having Fun in Wonkaville

If you're a parent, you know how much time, energy, concern and enthusiasm goes into broadening your child's horizons. Personally, my husband and I have tried our best to focus on fostering the activities in which our daughter expresses interest and to nurture her strengths.  We also want to help shape her into a thoughtful, considerate, responsible and kind human. This makes service very important to us: church, Girl Scouts, volunteer work, just being nice.

Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking my daughter and my niece to the "Wonkaville" event at Town Theatre.  ("Willy Wonka" opens next week!) The theatre hosted kids and parents for a preview of the show as well as fun stations such as making chocolatey treats with Augustus Gloop and his mom, photo shoot with Willy Wonka himself, an interview with a reporter and Mike Teevee and a bubble gum blowing contest with Violet Beauregard and her mama.  (Betsy Jackson has some hidden talents!)

While all these events were nothing short of awesome, I was so impressed and delighted that the other station was a service project. You see, this event wasn't just to promote the opening of the "Wonka" show, but to benefit an organization called Feeding Children Everywhere.  The kids went up to the green room of the theatre.  After donning their hair covers and plastic gloves, they formed an assembly line and put together bags of lentil casserole kits to be distributed to kids/families in need. 

 Our kids had a great time doing the work but also learned so much about the importance of helping our fellow man in a very meaningful way.  It's so vital to teach our children that even though they are still kids, they are capable of helping others.  I'm not sure how many meals were assembled yesterday by the Wonkaville participants but I am certain it was a significant number.  For me, it was just wonderful to step back and watch my sweet girls get in there and make a difference.

Many thanks to Shannon Scruggs and all of the folks at Town Theatre for hosting this event!  And thank you also for doing so very much to promote the cultural health of Columbia and our children with the Youth Theatre Program, Teen Troupe and Summer Day Camps.  Remember, "Willy Wonka" opens July 21st!  I can tell you up close and personal, Columbia's Willy looks remarkably like Gene Wilder...Gene and Gilda love child??

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My New Toy

I love Pampered Chef for the same reason I love Mary Kay.  It's good quality, it lasts and it does what it says it does.  I recently had a P.C. party and had a great time with friends and neighbors and our consultant, Rebecca.  She made grilled chicken with lemon/garlic cream sauce and rice pilaf for us, using the RocCroc. This thing is a Dutch oven that can go in the microwave, oven, fridge, stovetop and it can also be a crockpot. 

The RocCroc just sits on top of this base to become a crockpot

I love the "warm" setting. My other crockpots don't have it.

Amazing.  When it came time for me to order, the RocCroc with the crockpot base was top of my list. Thus, the title of this post.

Today is July 4th, so I decided to make barbeque to christen the new RocCroc.  I'm not a purist who has to dig a pit, sweat over a smoker or spend an entire day and a half creating barbeque.  I make my sauce from scratch and the rest happens in my crockpot.  

Good ol' South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce

Mixing sauce into our pulled pork

See?  BBQ from a crockpot. It can be done.

I use a Boston butt and cook on low for about 8 hours.

I have a neat little timer that I use.  What makes it so neat is that it is actually easy to use and easy to program. We had some timers years ago for our Christmas lights that required a PhD to program.  I set my neat little timer to come on at 2:30 this morning.  Last night, I salt and peppered a 4 lb Boston butt and placed it and about 1/4 cup of water in the RocCroc.  Night night!

Around 11:00 this morning, we had a pot full of tender meat ready to be shredded.  I made our sauce and made a big batch of my favorite potato salad.  

New potatoes, sour cream, mayo, dill, bacon, garlic & scallion. Uhhh, YUM.

So, our July 4th dinner is fresh corn on the cob, potato salad and mustard based barbeque. 

We've decided to wait and have it later for supper, but I'm having a tough time waiting.  It smells so great in this house right now! 

If you're interested in hosting a Pampered Chef party, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Rebecca.  She really knows her stuff and does a great job demostrating the products. And to reiterate how the Pampered Chef stuff lasts, when I met Rebecca, I told her I couldn't leave without a new wonder-cup.  After 20+ years, the numbers were finally wearing off the measuring cup that I love.  Did you hear that...20+ years!

Happy Independence Day, everyone.  Be thankful and grateful. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Pioneer Meatballs

Well, yesterday was my birthday.  Never mind which one.  I am one of those people who DOES NOT obsess about her birthday. Many years, it's actually snuck up on me.  I'll be going through all my usual shenanigans and then, DOH!, tomorrow is my birthday.  Really? And, of course, as we get to a certain age, the birthday festivities become even less important.  When someone asks me what I want for my birthday, I have no idea.  No well-thought out list.  Just crickets and tumbleweeds.  

But, the two people who know me best hit the nail on the head yesterday.  They presented me with not one, but THREE, Pioneer Woman cookbooks.  

 I can't even remember the last time I bought a cookbook.  This tells you what incredible self-restraint I have achieved!  Consequently, my birthday turned out to be pretty darn awesome.  Neil took Viv to the movies so I went to the nail shop and got my nails done, pedicure and had 2 mimosas while they worked their magic on me.  Then, I returned home and read my new cookbooks all afternoon.  

One thing I love about Ree Drummond is her talent for creating "freezer meals."  This is particularly of interest to me these days because I like to make dishes for my parents that can just be taken out of the freezer and popped in the oven or crockpot, so they don't have to stress about what to have for dinner. I also serve on the "Gracious Goodness" committee (that's really not the right word) at church. We make meals and freeze them to distribute to church members and spouses when someone is hospitalized, just home from the hospital, not able to get out much, etc.  I really love cooking for other people, so this is right up my alley.

ANYWAY...I had 2 1/2 lbs of hamburger sitting my fridge waiting for me to come up with something brilliant to do with it and along came the Pioneer Woman.  I turned it into her "ready to go freezer meatballs."  

I cut her recipe in half because of the amount of meat I had on hand, yet, I ended up with 3 batches of approximately 25 meatballs each.  We used one tonight for dinner and the other 2 are in the freezer. The cookbook gives 3 ideas for preparation of the meatballs. I had all the ingredients for the BBQ recipe on hand, so that's what we had tonight.  

Very simple ingredients: bread crumbs, eggs, salt, pepper, mustard

You go ahead and cook 'em then freeze for later
 Ree's recipe takes store-bought barbeque sauce and jacks it up.  You put it on the stove just to a gentle boil, add some vinegar, brown sugar, Tabasco and Worchestershire.  Add your meatballs back in, cover and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes and then, it's dinnertime.  

I can't even begin to tell you how insanely easy this was and how fast you can have it on the table. Thank you Pioneer Woman.  I want to come hang out on your ranch sometime.  Whaddya say?


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