Categories
Conferences Travel

Librarian in the Kitchen: Conference Preparations; Cooking for the Family

I love to travel! There’s nothing like learning new things and seeing new places.  As a blogger, I love  to attend several conferences and while it’s fun to travel, there is a certain amount of prep work that must be done to get out of the door. One of the things many of us do to prepare for conferences is prepare meals for the family we’re leaving behind.  In preparing for my trip to Sacramento to attend kidlitcon, I turned to my friend Heather, from Real, the Kitchen and Beyond, for food suggestions.

Chicken is very easy to prepare in numerous ways and my only requirement for Heather was that the meals couldn’t have dairy in them which meant no cheese. Boo.  Anyway, after reading Heather’s recipes here, I had my ideas!  We secured 5-8 pounds of chicken in bulk and I set to work cooking. If you’re like me and don’t have a crock pot big enough for all that cluck, you hafta get creative.

crockpot cooking

My family is the epitome of  picky eaters so we only buy chicken breasts. I like to divide up the chicken according to how many people I think might eat this particular thing i’m going to cook.

For the Crockpot, I placed 3 breasts and covered in water.  I added half a bag of Lipton Chicken Soup for flavoring. Once this had cooked, my Pumpkin shredded it and used it for chicken tacos.

Next I pulled out my dutch oven for the stove top.

stovetop cooking

Three or four chicken breasts should do the trick here. I was making chicken chili, so the more chicken the better.

I just use basic seasonings here; pepper, minced garlic (I prefer fresh but jar or dry will suffice in a pinch), and onion powder. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for hours. Chicken should break apart with a fork.  Do not remove chicken from the pot; just break it apart right there with a giant fork or spoon or whatever you have.

Then add your fave beans. I just used whatever I had on hand: Canneloni beans, Light Red kidney beans, Black beans.  Any beans that you like will do. When I’m making beef chili i don’t drain the beans because I need the liquid but because I’m making chicken and there is plenty of liquid in the pot, I drain the beans. It’s your choice.

After adding the beans, I add

  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • sofrito
  • stewed tomatoes that have some sort of flavoring in them for a little kick like jalapeños or similar.

If your family is’t much on spices totally back off on the spicy flavors. Just for fun I added little alphabet pastas because that’s what I had in the pantry.

Cover and simmer for an hour or so, stirring frequently.  The longer it simmers, the softer your beans will be.  When chili is ready, I IMMEDIATELY freeze half of it so I can enjoy a meal quickly one day when I’m strapped for a meal.

Finally, the remaining chicken went in the oven.

Bakingoven

I covered the chicken with water and sprinkled a little bit of minced garlic garlic for flavor. Bake at 250 for several hours until tender.  I made no plans for this chicken so that the family could do what they want with it. My husband likes to put chicken on top of his Lean Cuisines or on a store bought salad; my pumpkin likes to make bbq sandwiches,  so I like to leave them with options.

Because my family has weird eating preferences and also because my kids are 22 and 17, I generally tend to cook only on Sundays. The rest of the week they can heat up leftovers or fix their own meals since I am working.

Now that I know my family will have food in the house, I’m free to hit the skies for my own traveling adventures!

What do you fix for your family when you go away? Don’t forget to pop over to Heather’s site and show her some love!

 

Categories
Adult Fiction Clever Friends

Clever Heather reviews: The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

I’d like to preface this fabulous review by introducing Clever Reviewer Heather. She’s one of my local besties and a really awesome reviewer.  Check it out!

Stark, poignant, tumultuous – all words that describe The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. When I first glanced at the title I thought it represented a complete lack of creativity. But wait, before you cringe, I decided to give it a shot. After all, it is just a book. I can always shut it. I didn’t. I took it to the gym almost every morning, my only real downtime. The name is perfect. It sets the mood of this real to life story.

Many times throughout the pages I wondered if it was a real life story. We start in the young teenage life of a budding photographer, Deborah Shapiro, growing up in the unrest of a time when life wasn’t roses but everyone was searching for them. Her family in disarray, and ending in divorce, she resorts to seeing life through her camera lens. As a heartbreaking tale is spun, I find myself relating more with her mother than Deborah, the main character.

Deborah makes the choice to live with her father, choosing a life that leads to more heartache and pain than any kid should have to grow up in. She becomes a pawn in her father’s twisted game of life. Working a flea market, being along for the ride while immigration chases them, helping juvenile delinquents escape, she lives an excitingly dull life. Caught in lies of her father’s making, and feeling invisible to those around her, she sees no value in her life. This child woman is forced to run a house for her father, self-alienated from her mother. Her only outlet is photography class, and temple youth meetings, complete with a radical rabbi.

Finally, as we near the end of the book, she sees hope. She has a boyfriend who loves her. She has a plan to fast track her way to college – the chance to get out, to live her dreams, and take care of herself if her father signs his permission.

Will she ever see her mother loved her all along? Will she break free of the life her father has kept her prisoner to? Is her boyfriend really going to love her forever? Will she go to college or stay, stuck in her small town, an invisible person?

The last paragraph of the acknowledgements leaves you wondering just how much of this heart wrenching story is real.

I give this book 3 paws.

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws

 

So…whaddya think? Clever Heather is awesome, huh??? Here’s a little bit about Clever Heather:

In a normal week you can find Heather blogging about life at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond.

Growing up as the oldest of 7, and now being a wife and mother, homeschooling mama with a part time job and writing for two blogs, reading is her escape.

Her absolute favorite series of all time is Adventures in Narnia. About the only books she doesn’t devour are paranormal, sci fi, and self help books, although she has made exceptions in even those categories.

 

I love how Heather will make exceptions to her reading categories; isn’t that what the joy of reading is all about, finding something new??

So…go show Clever Heather some love on her food blog.  But DON’T lick the screen.  I’m just sayin…

Don’t forget to follow Heather on Twitter @heatherlm4 Tell her PammyPam sent ya!

Did I mention the author is the POET LAUREATE of Kansas?? How cool is that???

 

way.