22 July 2011

Mid-Year Review

So my blogfriend (though we technically met in... '07? '08? through the best Krista I know) ThinkLiz does this great thing where she picks a word for the year. And I stole that thing. My word is rest. See, I posted on it at the beginning of this year. And since holey-crap-it's-late-July-how-did-that-happen, I thought I'd give a mid-year update.

On a scale of 0-5, I'd say I'm at about a 2. It turns out, I wasn't ever good at resting, even when I thought I was. I just had a lot more time to kinda rest. Now that I only get like an hour at the very end of the day to have any sort of me-time, I actually have to try. [I'm not good at trying.]

So becoming a mom was like a slap in the face while having a bucket of icy water thrown on you while falling desperately in love at the same time. And that happened every day for the six weeks after the first two weeks (the first two weeks didn't count for me; Stephen was off or only working part time, and E slept most of the time anyway). This business of getting to do what I wanted was absolutely gone in a way I really didn't understand before. But how can you? Everything in your whole life changes forever. I knew I was selfish before, but wow. Motherhood is crazy. Even if the Lord took Ezra to Heaven, there is no going back to being a not-mom.

Okay, back to rest. I should make it clear that I'm talking about real rest. Not how much sleep I got, but how much I was resting in the Lord - allowing Him to be my strength, leaning on Him, trusting Him, not being all anxious and crazy or lazy and good-for-nothing. I kind of went into a spiritual coma for the first three months. It was a bit like falling down a well on a warm, sunny day. It's somewhat dark and not terribly unpleasant, but you know you can't stay there forever, and it's gonna be hard to get out.

And it has been. I'm happy to say I actually started working on it in earnest a few weeks ago. And now I have genuinely restful days. Maybe one or two a week, but still. I feel so good after those days.

Today was not a restful day. I spent a lot of it frustrated and out-of-love. I think of it like baths. I hated bathing growing up, HATED it. But then I'd step in the shower or bath and never want to get out. But still, when it was bath-time again, I'd put it off as much as possible. And let me tell you, a rag-bath is not a bath. Just like a rag-bath day is not a bath day. You get through both, but one is wonderful and the other just kind of does the job. And yet, even the day after a gorgeous bath day, I'm right back to the rag baths until I get sick of it again.

Okay, I didn't write this to be down on myself. The Lord isn't upset with me; He told me so, and I'd be an idiot to call Him a liar. We're getting out of this together. I have confidence that, at some point in my future, every day will be a bath day for me.

20 July 2011

Taco Soup

Sorry for the vaycay from blogging. I'm just not a reliable person; you're going to have to deal with it.

So I've started this thing where I add up how much a meal costs and figure out how many meals we're getting out of it. Because something may be good, but if it's like 8 bucks a person, it's not very helpful in the long run, you know? It can become a birthday dinner or something of the like.

So I made this taco soup. And it was REALLY good. I also have this thing about making stuff for the first time without a recipe. And another thing where I don't want to taste the dish until we're both eating it. [I get it: that's weird and unreasonable. I do what I want.]

So I did that with this taco soup. I make a pretty mean chicken tortilla soup (I've been trying to recipize my favorite meals I make in desperate hopes that someday, somehow, someone else in this home will know how to cook enough to follow a recipe), so I used that as a rough template. I just had one big, big gamble. Taco soup is made with ground beef, yes? Well I used chicken broth instead of beef broth. I'd never tried HEB's beef broth and was not prepared to lose a good amount of leftovers at the beginning of the week, when I need them most. Of course, after I did this, I thought I could be ruining it anyway with some bizarre beefy-chickeny concoction. I mean, who wants ground beef stuffed inside a chicken breast? That's gross.

I guess that's another reason why I don't taste it. I know I'd just forge ahead with the disaster anyway. But the weird thing was, it wasn't a disaster. And it was relatively cheap! $17 for 8-10 servings (8 if you eat like me; 10 if you eat like I should). That comes to between $2.15 & $1.70 a plate, which is fine for our budget. If you wanna shrink that down by $3.50, don't have the chips. You could fry some chopped corn tortilla strips or something. But seriously, Stephen was bewildered at how good this soup was. I think it was so good he forgot that at least a third of the time I do "my thing," the results are so-so, and probably every one out of five is inedible.

I will give you a recipe, but you're one your own with the spice levels. I don't take pictures of my food because I don't.

Taco Soup

64 oz low sodium chicken broth
1/2 of one of those bigger cans of crushed tomatoes (sorry for the lack of specificity)
4 T butter (actual butter)
1 lb ground beef (I used 93/7 so I didn't have to drain)
1 red bell pepper
2 slices onions (I used one because my husband has a thing about onions)
2/3 cup rice (I used white this time; I'll probably sneak in brown next)
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans (I kind of love "making" my own beans)
2T flour (for thickening)
generous amount of cumin
good bit of chipotle chili powder (I think the chipotle part is really good, but use a good bit more if you're just using regular chili powder)
dash of paprika
lots of black pepper (for the hubs)
couple pinches red pepper (also hubs)
a sprinkling of minced garlic bits (I'd say optional)
a bit of cheddar and
a handful of El Milagro chips (try to find some not-crazy-salty chips) and
1t sour cream for garnish

Whew! That looks like a lot! But it really doesn't feel so bad. It cooks in one pot, so that helps.

1. Melt 2T butter in a large pot of med-med-low heat (my oven's on 3/8, but I have gas (teehee)). Brown ground beef in pot and chop bell pepper and onions while this is going on. Add other 2T butter and add pepper and onions. Saute for a couple minutes.
2. Measure out rice and add. Give it a few hiss-stirs (stir, wait for hissing, stir again), then add beans and corn. Stir a bit.
3. Keep out 1.5-2 cups broth, then add rest to pot. Also add crushed tomatoes and stir. Turn up heat to a healthy medium.
4. Microwave broth to get a warm-but-not-boiling. Measure out a T of flour and get out your awesome tiny whisk (I hope you have one; I love my little whisk! Ezra loves to hold it while I cook. Well, hold it and slobber alllll over it.). Start shaking the flour in a bit at a time while totally rocking your whisking powers. I think I put around 3T flou, but I honestly have no idea. Once you've got some seriously floury broth, add to pot.
5. Add the spices to your heart's content.
6. Walk away for a half an hour. Okay, you may need to occasionally stir.
7. When your rice is good n cooked, you're ready. Get out your most fabulous, gigantic bowls. Fill em up with soup, sprinkle some grated cheese, and roll out the sour cream. I'm not a big sour cream fan, but the dollop is important. So please, do it. I tried to keep the dollop for presentation, but it didn't work out. So I stirred ours in. Srsly, so good.

Lemme know if you try this. Also let me know if you make it better. I love that!