Kitchen Survival, Part 4

Subtitled:  Applesauce Now Has Its Own Marquee!

My grocery store recently changed its layout, causing me to wander up and down the aisles searching for familiar items in unfamiliar places.  Thankfully, “Applesauce” now appears on the marquee above the aisle, so I didn’t waste too many steps searching for it.

THURSDAY – First Week – THURSDAY – First Week – THUR

I was surprised a weekly menu included not only a roast, but also a side dish that is fairly time-consuming.  Oh wait!  these recipes are for college students.  They don’t deal with the mundanity of 9-5.  Or 8-6 in some cases.  Or 7-7 in my last case.

Here’s the menu:

  • Roast Loin of Pork with Pan Gravy
  • Corn Pudding University of Virginia
  • Applesauce

Continue reading Kitchen Survival, Part 4


Kitchen Survival Trial #3

Is, as the saying goes, third time a charm?  Let’s find out.

WEDNESDAY – First Week – WEDNESDAY – First Week –

Weight Watcher's Turnaround Program Cookbook features Spaghetii Bolognese on the the cover.
This week’s chosen cookbook

Since I finally found the first 42 pages of the Campus Survival Cookbook (yay), I no longer need to rely on my memory (although it was surprisingly accurate).  The menu for Wednesday is:

  • McCrystal’s Survival Casserole
  • Tossed Green Salad with Sliced Cucumber
  • Traditional French Dressing

McCrystal’s Survival Casserole:  No, I don’t know who McCrystal is.  It doesn’t matter because the dish is basically goulash.  I didn’t like goulash growing up, but I remember trying this recipe and actually eating it.  It was okay, but not something I’d cook on a regular basis.  Or any basis, actually.

Continue reading Kitchen Survival Trial #3

Kitchen Survival Reboots!

Remember way back in the olden days of 2013 when I planned to  go through the Campus Survival Cookbook and adapt the menus and recipes with healthier alternatives?  What happened?  After difficulties with a couple recipes (and still not finding the first 42 pages of the cookbook) I got discouraged.

American goulash is a mixture of hamburger, tomatoes, and elbow macaroni.
[Photo from Gonna Want Seconds(.com).] Eh, I don’t think so.
I’m stuck on finding a good, easy substitute for McCrystal’s Survival Casserole.  It’s a fancy name for what I grew up knowing as goulash, that hodge-podge of hamburger, tomatoes, macaroni and cheese.

Lazy Day Beef Casserole, from the American Heart Association Cookbook (5th edition) was a combination of chuck steak, tomato paste, mushrooms and onions.  It sounded pretty good, but I overcooked it.  The beef was dry, tough, and not very flavorful.  In fact, it was so awful I couldn’t even finish one serving.

Round 2 was Eggplant Zucchini Casserole, from the same AHA cookbook.  It includes eggplant, zucchini (duh!), chopped celery, onion, and green pepper, tomato sauce, spaghetti (broken in bits), and mozzarella cheese.  It was quite tasty, but was a bitch to prepare:  peel and slice the eggplant (peeling eggplant is not as easy as it sounds), slice the zucchini, chop the celery, onion and pepper, and slice the cheese (since I couldn’t find any sliced mozzarella cheese in the dairy section).

Neither of the above two recipes called for ground beef, so I decided to take a different track.  I continued searching for a reasonable ground beef-tomato-pasta mash up, and I think I may have found it.  I’m preparing it for tonight’s dinner, so look for a review some time next week.

They say third time’s a charm.  That’s what I’m hoping.  Another good omen?  Yesterday I found the first 42 pages of the Campus Survival Cookbook!  Hot diggity!

Sunday Seven: Goals for April

My goodness, time flies when your having fun sleeping off drugs.  I have several Sunday Seven posts in the works, but they require time, care, and love to complete in the manner which they deserve.  Since I completely missed last week, let’s do something quick and dirty today.

A newly green tree adorns a calendar for April .2014
April showers bring… newly green trees.

Seven Goals for April

(No, filing taxes does not count.)

  1. Get up by ^^’ o’clock every day.  (The actual time is too embarrassing to post.)
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.  It’s not a “well-formed” goal, but it’s good enough for now.
  3. Reboot my Kitchen Survival series, searching for healthy substitutions to The Campus Survival Cookbook recipes and menus.
  4. Post at least once a week here and once a week at SciFi Chicks.
  5. Spend 15 minutes a day cleaning out the kitchen and/or paperwork.
  6. Make one trip to Goodwill.  Should be easy—the car is nearly full.
  7. Get out and walk twice a week—preferably with camera.

And let’s not forget—no television shopping!

I think that’s a pretty good list.  Let’s hop to it!  (Easter-ish pun intended.)

[Adorable calendar found at]

Life’s Certainties

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
Income taxes are due on April 15.
One of life’s certainties.

This past week I had my taxes done.  Retirement has thrown my tax habits into chaos.  I tried doing them myself, but got lost when asked for the Fair Market Value (FMV) of my pension.  Is there an FMV for a pension?  I understand the FMV of my retirement investments, but a pension?  What’s the value of that?  All things considered (including a printer that’s on the fritz), I gave up and made an appointment to have someone more professional do them.

Sadly, my favorite accountant is gone.  Last year she didn’t work because she’d had a mild stroke.  (She wanted to, but her colleagues said no.)  Since my dad worked several years after recovering from a massive stroke, I was hoping she’d be back this year.  But she did the smart thing, retiring and moving out of the area.

Income and withholding information from my working years has not translated well into retirement.  I’d thought my W-4 information transferred from  employment to retirement, but I was only half right.  When my 1099-R arrived last year, it showed no state withholding.  I paid for it big time.  But this year even my federal withholding wasn’t enough.  So now I owe double big time.

The good news is the shock propelled me to change both federal and state withholding.  The bad news is I still need to pay this year’s taxes.  The further bad news is my meager income will now be even more meager than it has been.

What’s a girl on an austere budget to do?   Reinstate the television shopping embargo.  Instead of four weeks though, let’s make it an entire month this time.  Oh heck, this calls for drastic measures—let’s make it two months.

Wish me luck!

Welcome, 2014

Happy (almost) New Year!  The new year brings with it the chance to reboot ourselves, however mundane or all-encompassing that might be.  It’s filled with hope, a time to start afresh, to look at our lives and figure out what needs improving.  It’s not just the standard “eat less, exercise more” routine.  It encompasses all aspects of our lives.

I stopped making resolutions years ago, but it hasn’t prevented me from trying to establish or reestablish good habits.  It’s an on-going process which lasts throughout the year.  That doesn’t mean I’m always successful or that I don’t backslide, but it’s a constant attempt to improve my life.  And it avoids that dreadful “all or nothing” thinking.

For a remodeled kitchen, I like stainless steel appliances, light-to-medium wood cabinets, and a dark countertops.
Perhaps the look of my new kitchen. [Photo credit unknown]
This year I’m hoping to remodel my kitchen.  It’s an intimidating task because I have a massive amount of preparation to do.  I started a blog called Ms Pack Brat about five years ago to chronicle my attempts to get my home and life in order, but it was more “miss” than “hit.”  Perhaps it was one blog too many.  Hell, it may have been two blogs too many, what with SciFi Chicks (where I spent most of last year).

This new year presents itself with an opportunity to renew and revitalize The New Stream of Conscience.  I certainly have plenty to write about.  Why not make this daunting kitchen remodel (and its prerequisite cleaning and clearing) a focus?  Why not write about how I adapt FlyLady’s principles to my own life?  And let’s not forget about exploring cookbooks in an effort to eat better.

Hey!  That’s a plan!

Photo credit: Small Kitchen Ideas

Kitchen Survival, Part 2

My how time flies.  I made Tuesday’s First Week  menu last week and have already eaten it.  How did things turn out?  Pretty darned terrific.

TUESDAY – First Week – TUESDAY – First Week – TUESD

I’m still working from memory since this is also among the 42 missing pages.  Nonetheless, the menu for “today” is:

  • Broiled Chuck Steak Superstar
  • Baked Potato
  • Tomatoes with Mayonnaise
The Weight Watcher's Complete Cookbook is one of my go-to cookbooks.
One of my go-to cookbooks!

Broiled Chuck Steak:  The recipe was to broil a steak, and taught how to season it.  The substitution was a no-brainer.  The New Weight Watcher’s Complete Cookbook (c. 1998) has a recipe for Grilled T-Bone Steak that I’ve made a few times and love.  It’s grilled rather than broiled, which is better for hot weather since it doesn’t heat up the kitchen.  (Yes, it’s October.  Heating the kitchen shouldn’t be a concern, but it’s 90 stinkin’ degrees today!)  I bought a 1 pound bone-in steak (maybe rib eye?).  Because of the bone, I got only three servings out of it, but each was delicious.

Baked Potato:  Duh!  I could have cooked it in the microwave, but I do like a nice baked potato, so into the oven it went.  I think potatoes get a bad rap, what with all the carbohydrate paranoia.  Their glycemic index may be high, but they do provide some benefits.   For portion control, I eat 1/2 (russet) potato per serving, since the darned things are so large.

This version of Insalata Caprese is from In
Insalata Caprese:  Two little slices of heaven. [Credit: Al Cirillo, In]
Tomatoes with Mayonnaise:  I substituted Greek Tomatoes from Weight Watchers’ Five Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes cookbook (summer 2009).  It’s similar to Insalata Caprese, which I fell in love with when I lived in Italy, but uses feta cheese instead of mozzarella di bufala.

A word about the New Weight Watcher’s Complete Cookbook

I love this cookbook!  Not only does it provide great recipes, basic and otherwise, it also gives food preparation principles.  I’ve had many  Weight Watcher’s cookbooks over the years, but I consider this the granddaddy of them all.  Perhaps I love it so much because my version is hard-sided with rings, having bought it in 1998.  It reminds me of those cookbooks we grew up with and taught us how to cook.  You know, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, the Joy of Cooking, or the Better Homes and Gardens one.

Kitchen Survival, Part 1 (of 24)

My cover of "the Campus Survival Cookbook" is very stained.
My beloved Campus Survival Cookbook, stains and all

It’s a good thing I know the beginning of The Campus Survival Cookbook so well because the first 42 pages are missing.  When scanning the cover, I brought only the cover and its attached pages to the computer.  They’re around here somewhere, but it’s not essential I find them—yet.

The initial pages talk about stocking your kitchen, the importance of breakfast, and where cuts of meat come from.  Only then does it get into the recipes.  So even though it’s 42 pages, I’m missing only the first two and one-half recipes.  (The one-half will be explained at a later date.)

The week’s start with Monday, and Monday is always chicken.  So here is the menu for:

MONDAY – First Week – MONDAY – First Week – MONDAY –

(That’s how it appears, more or less, in the book.)

Continue reading Kitchen Survival, Part 1 (of 24)

Adventures in Cooking

My sister-in-law Margie posed with her childern Ted, Rich, and Kristen before her untimely death.
Margie (top right) and her three wonderful kids, c. 1990.

My sister-in-law, Marjorie Forsythe Overholt (not to be confused with my mother, Marjorie Carter Overholt), was a terrific cook.  She claimed, however, all one needed was to follow the recipe.  I’m sure she was being overly modest; lots of people follow recipes without great success. (raises hand)

Margie had the most amazingly organized brain.  Being a math major and high school math teacher probably had something to do with it (or vice versa).  Once I opened a cupboard door in her kitchen to find a hand-printed calendar of evening meals planned out for the month.

My nephew Ted (top left) wasn’t quite so impressed, though.  He said she may have been a good cook, but they had the same thing again and again.  That may be true, but that’s how the majority of us live.  We have 20 or so recipes we use in a somewhat cyclical fashion.

For example, growing up, our Sunday dinner alternated between pot roast and fried chicken.  Then there were the standard meals in between.  The ones I remember most fondly are pork chops with rice and onions (possibly my favorite—besides my mother’s pigs in blankets 😉 ) and liver and onions (probably because I liked it, whereas my dad and brother did not).

Continue reading Adventures in Cooking

Summer’s End

A Sunday Seven Post

[I can no longer write a post unless it’s in list form. I attribute this affliction to writing only Sunday Sevens for the past month.  I started a post earlier this week, but couldn’t seem to finish it.  Since I have nothing else planned for today, here it is in list form.]

It’s official.  Summer is over. I know this not because Labor Day has come and gone, not because school is in session once again, not because September hails the start of meteorological autumnNope.  I know this because I can’t breathe.


Continue reading Summer’s End