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Favorite Cookbooks

I love to read.

I like to cook . . . . well, most of the time.

Really, I would like to snap my fingers and have dinner present itself. Since that is not in my near future (magic housekeeper or sometimes cloning myself, anyone?), I read cookbooks for ideas and tips, search online (hello, Pinterest), ask others, go back to my stand-bys, and generally make up stuff.

I am a huge fan of my slow cooker, one pot dishes that are yummy and don’t require a cream of ___ can or Velveeta, and meals that are actually ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes without a sous chef. (Rachael Ray, I’m talking to you.) A dear friend also reminded me to cook larger amounts to freeze for later. That is so simple, and I have remembered it a few times this month. 😉

I have a binder full of recipes I have put together and a collection of cookbooks. Here are some of them and a few that have been recommended to me.

Some that I own:

Joy of Cooking is a go-to for how to prepare almost everything with classic recipes throughout the 1000+ pages.

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Sixteenth Edition (Better Homes and Gardens Plaid) is one my mom used for apple pie. I consider it a staple in anyone’s kitchen with all of the information included.

Betty Crocker Cooking Basics: Recipes and Tips to Cook with Confidence is one Mom gave me when I graduated college and was on my own. It has good photographs and descriptions of preparation without being intimidating. A novice cook can succeed with the recipes in this book.

Out of the Sugar Rut
provides recipes that use honey and whole wheat flour instead of heavily refined ingredients. Real food is what you will find in this cookbook.

Fix-It and Forget-It Revised and Updated: 700 Great Slow Cooker Recipes (Fix-It and Forget-It Series) is the first book I used for slow cooker recipes, and it has a little bit of everything.

Recently recommended to me:

For cooking anything Italian, cookbooks by Lidia Bastianich

Cookbooks by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman

100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love by Lisa Leake

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime by Danielle Walker

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon

Cookbooks by local Junior League groups

Which ones would you add to the list?

Shopping at Aldi

A new    aldi_logo   opened near our house a couple of months ago.  I had been to one once, but wasn’t too impressed.  Friends from other areas have swooned over Aldi, though, for their prices and their chocolates.  I decided it was worth a try to see the selection, read ingredients, and experiment with a few items.  When I realized that I save about $50 per visit over the regular grocery store on the same (or similar) items, I was hooked.

Pros:

  • Prices — Most of their brands’ (Millville, Savoritz, Baker’s Corner, etc) boxed items are about $2.00 or less.  I equate prices to buying my main grocery store’s own brand or less.
  • Fresh produce — It is beautiful, and it is cheap.  The manager said they use local and regional sources as much as possible. Where else can you find avocados for 79 cents each? A package of strawberries was $1.19 and lasted 5 days in the refrigerator. Bananas are 44 cents/ pound at my store.
  • Size — The store is smaller, so you take less time shopping and have fewer opportunities for impulse buys.
  • Employees — Everyone has been helpful and friendly.

Cons:

  • Size — Since the store is smaller and has mostly Aldi’s brands, there are fewer choices.  What you’re looking for may not be available that day. It is not a one-stop shop for all things.
  • Payment — Our local stores accept cash, debit, and EBT cards.  If you like to write checks or accumulate credit card points, move along.
  • Time — While you can choose things quickly with only 4 or 5 aisles to navigate, lines can get long with only one or two cashiers.
  • No frills — Bring your own bags or pay 10 cents each for reusable plastic bags there, bag your items after checking out, load your car, and return your cart.

A few tips:

  • Make sure you have a quarter with you to rent a buggy.  There is one area outside the store that has all carts linked.  Put your quarter in to release your cart, and when you return it, take your quarter with you or be a good samaritan and leave it for the next shopper.
  • Try something new.  We’ve only had one thing we didn’t like, and it was a lettuce.
  • Bring your own bags.
  • Don’t be in a hurry on your first two or three visits.  It’s a different world with many items in a 3 foot section versus 10 brands of sauce to overlook.

Aldi is not the place to shop if you want a large selection, require only brand names, are a coupon fan, or need folks to bag and carry out your groceries.  It is the place to purchase most items at a reasonable price.

If you’re an Aldi shopper, what item(s) do you like?

Tonight’s Menu

I often inquire of others about their dinner plans for ideas of what to prepare in my home, so I’m simply sharing tonight’s dinner menu with you. Perhaps it will inspire you in your menu-planning.

Baked spiral-sliced ham
Sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon
Sautéed green beans
Fresh bread

I already put the sweet potatoes in the crock pot on low.  I will bake the ham for almost 2 hours, then saute the green beans while the ham rests before serving. The bread just needs to be sliced. I look forward to having leftover ham to use this week and to freeze for other meals.

How do you use leftover ham when you have it?

It’s September!

That means fall is almost here!  Yay!

I cannot be the only one who happily anticipates:  the crisp feeling in the air, the changing colors of the leaves, wearing sweaters without needing a coat, the different shadows brought by the setting sun, stomping on crunchy leaves (especially with my toddler), watching leaves fall around us, no mosquitoes, baking, drives in the mountains, and cinnamon or pumpkin-spiced almost-anything.

It is a special time of year.  It’s a reprieve from heat and humidity, although this summer has been more like the tropics with all of the rain.  It introduces the holiday season and encourages outdoor activity.

I’m ready!

What is your favorite thing about fall?