Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recipe For Crock Pot Chicken That Does Not Involve Cream of Anything Soup

Elizabeth asked me to post a recipe for the dinner we had last night, so here it is =)!

The original recipe is called "Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings". I can't remember where I got it...possibly the red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I will put the original recipe first, then I will tell you what I actually did =).

4-6 potatoes, cut up
2 carrots, cut up
14 oz. chicken broth
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. chicken

In crock pot, mix potatoes and carrots. In a medium bowl, combine broth, flour, and spices and blend well until smooth. Pour over vegetables in crock pot. Add chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Cook on high for 20 minutes while preparing dumplings.

Dumplings
In a small bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 1 Tbls. Baking Powder, 1 tsp. salt. cut in 2 Tbls. of butter until crumbly. Add 1 cup of milk. Mix just until combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto hot chicken mixture in crock pot. Cook on high for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a dumpling comes out clean.

I have made the recipe this way, and it was good! I remember being impressed that the dumplings would actually cook in the crock pot in 20 minutes.
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This is what I did for dinner yesterday:

2 cups of uncooked brown rice
7 red potatoes, washed and stabbed once with a knife
5 carrots, washed and cut in half
2 cans of chicken broth
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. onion powder
4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 lbs. chicken thighs (on sale for $0.50 per pound!!)

Put the rice in the bottom of the crock pot. In a medium bowl, mixed broth, flour, and spices and blended until smooth. Poured that mixture over the rice. Placed potatoes and carrots in a lovely artistic design on top of the rice. Placed chicken on top of vegetables. Sprinkled garlic salt and celery salt on top. Cooked on high for 5 hours. (Next time I will try cooking on low for 8 hours or on high for 6 hours.)

Results: It was delicious! However. I cooked it on high for 5 hours because of when I had made it home from grocery shopping and was able to get everything in the crock pot. While I was watching it cook, it looked like I had put in too much liquid, and when we sat down to eat, the rice wasn't quite done and the carrots were firmer than usual. (The potatoes were EXCELLENT! Perhaps they had such a delicious flavor because they were from a new crop?) I left the crock pot on for another hour and then let it sit for an hour after I turned it off, and when I checked on it, the rice was perfect because the extra liquid had cooked in to it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Example of a Crappy Day Package #16

It seems so strange to write a regular post, to find joy in anything after such intense sorrow, but life keeps happening whether we are ready or not. Beloved Friend would have liked this post because she loved books too, so it seemed like a good one to post tonight.
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A Lovely, Lovely Person* surprised me with this fun box months some time ago!

It is always nice to receive a surprise CDP, and the fun decorations cheered me up before I even opened it!


When I opened this mysterious package, I found:

A CDP built around a book!! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!

Just like the book, *squee*!


The inside of the box
Sparkly stars! I wanted to sprinkle the stars all over my room so I could fully enjoy them, but I didn't want them to get vacuumed up...so I'm still trying to think of something fun to do with them.

I liked everything in the box when I opened it, but I LOOOOOOVED everything once I had finished the book because it all went together so PERFECTLY! I enjoyed the book (but if you generally like the same books Jonna likes, you may not like this one ;-) ) and LOVED that this Lovely Person was able to execute this wonderful idea! Thank you again, Lovely Person!! You were right: this IS an excellent escape =).
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This box made me think how much fun it could be to do a book-themed CDP exchange...but then I wasn't sure how well that would work...what do you think? When you think of your favorite book, can you see any potential for a CDP built around it? It could be SO FUN or it could NOT WORK, but I don't have the brain capacity, at the moment, to figure it out, so speak up in the comments if you have an opinion!
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I will be keeping Crappy Day Present senders anonymous so that the sender doesn't have to worry that Person Q is going to see what they (the sender) sent me and possibly feel bad that their (Person Q's) package was not as fabulous as mine ;-). But if you don't worry as much as I do aren't worried about that, you are welcome to claim your package in the comments!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To Say Goodbye

Ever since I found out that my Beloved Friend died, I have wished over and over again that I could have said goodbye to her and that she would have said goodbye to me.

It makes me think: why do we write a last will and testament, make arrangements for our children and possessions to be taken care of, but we don't say goodbye to the people who are the most important to us? We don't leave them with something to hold onto to bring them comfort...we don't leave an unmistakable "I loved you and you were important to me!"

I guess it's because we'd like to think that it will be a loooooong time before something like that would be needed and/or it's just another of the too-many-things we need to do.

I remember writing some goodbye letters when I was a teenager, just in case. Ironically, one of those was to my Beloved Friend. I'm going to update my goodbye letters. I do my best to let the important people in my life know that they are important to me, but do they really know? Have they believed me when I've told or tried to show them?

There are many some days when I feel like I spend the entire day correcting children's behavior and reminding people to do their chores. I rarely hear them say or see them do the kind, loving things they've heard me say or seen me do. I'm afraid that if I died, they wouldn't remember all of the times I told them I loved them, or took them on a special date, or gave them a fun surprise. I want to spell it out for them; I don't think it needs to be a long letter, but I want to make sure there is no question in their minds about how much I loved them.

Because I would give almost anything to be reminded by my friend that she loved me and knew how much I loved her.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lean On Me

So, tonight, I was reading something funny and laughing, and Marie said, "Mom, that's the first time I've heard you laugh since Aunt [Beloved Friend] died!", which, of course, made me start crying again, because I wanted to send the link to Beloved Friend and I couldn't.
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Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But, if we are wise
We know that there's
Always tomorrow.

Lean on me
When you're not strong
I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For, it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things
You need to borrow
For no one can fill
those of your needs
that you won't let show.

You just call on me sister
When you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem
That you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on.

Lean on me
When you're not strong
I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.

You just call on me sister
when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem
That you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on.

If there is a load
You have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load
If you just call me.

I wish it would have worked. I miss you, Beloved Friend.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Will Miss You, My Beloved Friend

My Beloved Friend died on Monday, and I found out on Friday night. How did I not know before then? How did I not feel that something was terribly wrong in my world?
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Just in time for 9th grade, my family moved again. It was so miserable to be new and not know anyone. There was a certain girl in one of my classes. We started talking, and I told her how hard it was to make new friends.

"I'll be your friend," she said.

And she was. For 22 years.

The first time she invited me for a sleepover, before the days of G00gle and M*pquest, my mother and I drove all over town trying to find where she lived....only to discover that she lived within walking distance of my house.

For her birthday one year, I snuck to school early and filled her locker with Di3t C0ke. Naturally, she had just decided that she was going to try to kick the habit.

She moved after graduation, right as email and the internet were coming out. Until we had email, we wrote letters. I wrote and sent a letter to her every day for a while, because I missed her so she wouldn't be too homesick. Once I sent her a box of fresh peas from my garden; she thought it was very funny that I would send peas and that they made it in good shape. One December, I sent her a 5-foot tall plastic candy cane filled with chocolate kisses; she said she had quite the time trying to figure out what was in THAT strangely-shaped box on her way home from the post office.

When I was newly married, and living in student housing while my husband finished his degree, I was, again, struggling to adjust to a new place. The student housing was barren (fluorescent lights, cinder block walls), so I decided to make simple table (piano, dresser) runners to try to cheer things up a little. I went to the craft store and carefully selected a variety of bright, happy fabric that was on sale. When I got to the register to check out, I was appalled because somehow, despite the sale, my total came to $50! That was a small fortune at that time, and I just couldn't believe I'd made such a mistake! My Beloved Friend came to visit shortly after that. When she arrived, she handed me $50 and said, "Here! My dad gave me some money before I left so that we could go out to dinner or something. Here's part of the money so that you don't have to keep feeling bad about that fabric."

When I was pregnant with David, we thought it would be so fun if he was born on My Beloved Friend's birthday, but we didn't hold out much hope because his due date was 3 weeks after her birthday. But that was my one charmed pregnancy, and he arrived, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, while I laughed, early on the morning of her 26th birthday.

She invited me into her home as often as I could come visit, so that I could try to recover from the demands of motherhood we could visit and laugh and watch movies and read. She called me a JEWEL when I emptied her dishwasher and vacuumed one day, during one of my visits.

Before I got pregnant for the last time, I spent 2 weeks at her apartment, trying to gather my strength for what was to come. When I had surgery at the beginning of that pregnancy, she came and stayed with my children so that my husband could stay with me in the hospital.

Throughout my house there are reminders of her.

Cross-stitches she made for me. One of them is identical to one I made for her because we accidentally picked out the same pattern for each other that year.

A picture we both liked, so I got one for each of us.

A picture she took while she was travelling because she saw something and it made her think of me.

A beautiful, miserable-to-make blanket that she made for me because she knew I'd love it.

A beautiful doily that matches the blanket.

All of these things that remind me that I will never again, in this life, be able to talk to my oldest friend...the person, besides my mother, who had really KNOWN me longer than anyone else in my life. The smart, beautiful, talented, loving person who knew everything about me and loved me anyway. 

Someone may be thinking, "Well, gosh, Doing My Best, this is all about YOU. What about your Beloved Friend, who is the person who DIED?" I am CERTAIN that My Beloved Friend is a lot happier than I am at this moment. I know that she is in a better place, with someone she had missed desperately for many years. I am grateful that she is finished fighting the battles in her life, but her absence from this world will leave a hole in my heart for a long time, and I am left to wonder if I could have done more...was I the best friend I could be to her? Should I have called more often? Made one more cross-stitch? Sent one more Crappy Day Present? What vital thing did I leave un-said or un-done?

I don't want to check the mail today. I cannot squash the one small hope I have that I will find a letter from her.

Depression killed my friend, and I didn't get to say goodbye.
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