Beef stroganoff

edited to add Jenni’s link at the bottom

I mentioned beef stroganoff in my post about price comparisons and a friend asked for the recipe. Since it’s been a while since we posted a recipe I’ll share it here. I just created this recipe on the spur of the moment. This is an easy one that the kids love, and they can prepare it themselves.

Beef Stroganoff

  • 2 lbs. ground beef or stew meat
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 large cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1-2 cups sour cream

If using stew meat, heat a bit of oil in a 4 quart pan. Brown meat and saute onion together. Drain and add soup. Simmer and stir occasionally to blend flavors. If using stew meat simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. Just before serving stir in sour cream. Serve over rice, potatoes or noodles.

This would be far healthier if we took the time to make a simple white sauce with the meat drippings in the pan rather than using the cream soup. The white sauce would cost about $1.50 and then we could add a 69 cent can of mushrooms or saute a few fresh ones with the meat and onion rather than spending $2.20 on 2 large cans of WalMart’s cream of mushroom soup. We will probably make it this way from now on, but the recipe above is quick and easy and very inexpensive for our crowd.

BTW, Jenni is having a recipe contest.  She is open for entries until midnight tonight (how’s that for just getting in under the wire?).  Just hurry up, post a recipe and link to her contest.  You could win a $35 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel!

What not to drive

Tip of the day:

If you’re going much further south than San Antonio, you might want to reconsider driving a white 15 passenger van with darkly tinted windows. Hubby and I were joking about this when we headed down a few days ago, but nothing exciting happened.  Obviously a suspicious van heading south is not a target for INS.

Heading north, however, is a different story.  Today on the way back home we got to live our joke.

An INS truck passed us going the other way on the highway and immediately hit the brakes. A minute later they were right on our tail. Hubby and I debated whether the stop would be worth the priceless memories and the inevitable blog post but we didn’t have long to think about it before we saw lights flashing.  I think we were both secretly elated.

I fought the urge to hide our two darkest daughters while hubby fought the urge to greet the man with, “Hola, senor.  Que pasa?”  We answered several questions for the humorless man and when he was satisfied that we knew where we had been and where we were going and that yes, we were all one family, he sent us on our way.

And for the record, yes. It was worth the post.

If Thomas Jefferson ran in 2008 it might look like this…

What makes a conservative?

Traditionally it has been limited federal government based on a strong view of the Constitution and States rights. In other words decentralization along with more personal freedom. If I am correct then there is only one conservative running in the primaries and it ain’t Mike Huckabee.

Cal Thomas agrees with me so does Chuck Baldwin.

Don’t believe me? Check his record, his public statements, his stated platform.

I think this is one of the most refreshing Presidential races I can ever remember (I barely remember Reagan’s 1980 win) because of the web. We can see and hear what a candidate says and does straight from the source we the people are not relegated to hearing the creative sound bites that the networks want to feed us.

Because of this I strain to understand why Huckabee is getting so much of the homeschool support. He is not constitutionalist. He is no conservative. He is pro-federal involvment in education. Skeptical?

Check this out

To be fair from everything I have read about Huckabee he is known to be strong on two important issues – he is pro second amendment, and he is pro-life.

He is also pro federal interference in far too many areas to count as a conservative.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Check out the links and tell me what you think.

(oh and keep it civil 🙂 )

read more | digg story

Choosing life

Many people like to ask the “what if” questions about hard situations when it comes to abortion.  Here’s a mother who chose life – the life of her baby.  This woman didn’t waver in her day of adversity.

If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.  Proverbs 24:10

ht to Amy’s Humble Musings 

Menu math results

Yesterday, we took a day off of Saxon math to calculate the cost of a few of our favorite meals. Don’t be fooled by the fact that our household is mostly small and female. We are hearty eaters (a mother of 4 teenage boys told me so), and most of the main dish numbers are for recipes that make 12-16 servings. A vegetarian dinner is a foreign concept to us. Sorry y’all. More confessions: we used canned cream of mushroom/cream of chicken soups, and canned spaghetti sauce and canned beans. I used to cook my own beans when we were city folk and it worked just fine. When we moved out here I tried cooking beans and after 3 days they were still rock hard. Strangely enough, our water is also rock hard. I feel sure there is a connection. Yes, I tried baking soda and didn’t add any acid or salt. So we buy canned beans.  update: we now cook our own beans from scratch.

First, we wrote on the whiteboard a short list of some of our favorite and most frequent main dishes, lunches and breakfasts.

Then we worked together to figure the cost/unit for several common ingredients and pantry staples, and wrote those on the board as well:

  • bread (whole wheat; we aspire to make our own but rarely do so) – $1.30
  • eggs – $.16 each (just under $2/dozen)
  • grated cheese (mozzarella or cheddar) – $.70/cup ($2.80/lb at Costco – savings on cheese alone more than pays for our annual membership!)
  • ground beef – $1.60/lb (the cheap stuff at WalMart in the 5 or 10 lb. tube)
  • sausage – $1.18/lb (we just switched from The Good Stuff to the cheap stuff. at twice the price, The Good Stuff simply wasn’t that good)
  • milk – $.23/cup
  • flour – $.09/cup
  • sugar – $.20/cup
  • butter – $.44/stick (this is from Costco too. I would hate to pay grocery store prices!)
  • chicken (boneless skinless breasts on sale) – $2/lb

Next, the 4 oldest girls chose from the list of meals. They each picked 2 main dishes, a lunch, a breakfast and a dessert, and they got to work. Many of the main dishes require an added salad, veggie and/or bread.  Breakfasts and lunches are just for the children and me. Hubby eats a separate breakfast early and usually takes leftovers for lunch.

Here is what they came up with:


  • Burritos (beef, bean, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa) – $9.45 This one surprised me. I assumed burritos were cheap, but not when you make them meaty and cheesy and use fresh produce out of season. And canned beans.
  • Lasagne (beef and 3 cheeses) – $8.89
  • Quesadillas (bean & cheese, cooked with butter on the griddle. mmmm. even better w/leftover chili.) – $4.90
  • Mexican casserole – $6.41
  • Hamburger stroganoff (served over rice, though I’m sure potatoes or noodles would be comparable) – $7.81
  • Pizza (5 large w/lots of leftover) – $16.35
  • Spaghetti – $7.50  This surprised me too, since I thought spaghetti was a cheap meal, but we like to splurge on angel hair pasta and meat.  We often use sausage which does help cut down the cost.
  • Chicken pot pie – $7.98

LUNCHES: these sound spectacularly unhealthy, but the girls chose by favorites, not frequency. Honestly. We don’t eat like this every day. Really. Trust me.

  • Maccaroni & cheese (3 boxes) – $2.43
  • Ramen noodles – $.96
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches – $3.59
  • Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches – $2.59



  • Low carb cheesecake (a single small cheesecake for mom & dad) – $4.36 (ouch!)
  • Hot cocoa from scratch – $2.48
  • Wacky cake – $1.19
  • Brownies – $1.65

I learned a lot from this little lesson yesterday, and was pleased at the discussion that was generated. There are some more recipes that I would like to see numbers on, so I think we might be doing this again today. I am also feeling motivated to start a price book. I shop mainly at WalMart and Costco and used to know all the prices but they are changing so quickly these days that when I searched my memory I often found myself floundering for the current numbers.

Today’s math

I don’t know about you, but the cost of food in our area seems to have risen 25-30% in the last year. I think my children will be happy about that today because they’re going to get a day off from Saxon Math.

Instead of the textbooks, today we’ll be figuring the cost of our favorite meals so that we can plan cheaper menus. Although our home is not a democracy, the children will be involved in this process for a number of reasons:

  1. They eat.fruit1.gif
  2. They plan meals and cook them.
  3. They love an excuse to “skip math.” Will they consider this to be math? Only if I tell them. They can be naive that way. Kaitlyn is reading over my shoulder and thinks I’m being naive to think so.
  4. Although math theory is crucial for obvious reasons, I think applied mathematics is far more useful for everyday living. What good is theory if you don’t know how to apply it? It becomes nothing but useless trivia.

By the way, I searched for a free image of groceries and couldn’t find anything I liked, so I took a picture of our fruit platter.

Do you think that looks like a lot of bananas? That’s half of what I brought home Tuesday afternoon. We try to grab 15# twice or three times a week. The Boy alone eats 2-3 each day and if they get too ripe before we eat them all we make banana bread or put them in the freezer for peanut butter-banana smoothies. That’s a nice thing about South Texas. If you’re willing to wait a week, you can count on nice warm smoothies days almost any time of year.

Sale on Vision Forum films

For those who enjoy and appreciate Vision Forum products, there’s a one-of-a-kind sale on DVDs now through January 31: get 53 DVDs for 70% off – just $125.

The package includes all of the following: 

  1. The History of the World Mega-Conference DVD Collection (10 DVDs)
  2. The Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Christian Families DVD Collection (10 DVDs)
  3. From Script to Cinema DVD Collection (10 DVDs)
  4. A Comprehensive Defense of the Providence of God in the Founding of America
    DVD Collection (21 DVDs)
  5. The League of Grateful Sons (1 DVD)
  6. Jamestown: Ancient Landmark, Modern Battleground (1 DVD)

Celebrating life

I heard the baby’s heartbeat again yesterday. Without the proper context, you probably don’t realize just how much it meant to me.

For the last several days, I had a foreboding feeling about this pregnancy. I haven’t felt much movement, but I did think I was feeling small occasional kicks and gentle, indistinct movement. I also seemed to be “popping out” last week – going from just a little thick around the waist to Obviously Pregnant.

But then on Saturday I realized that my belly seemed unusually still and quiet. At 18 weeks, this concerned me a little. I started looking for movement, sure that I would find it.

By Sunday my concerns were becoming more serious. I hadn’t talked about it yet to hubby so I didn’t want to say anything to our friends at church, but I felt awkward every time somebody asked how I was feeling. The more I tried to feel movement – any movement! – the more sure I became that I couldn’t feel a thing. And was my belly actually getting smaller?

I finally mentioned it to hubby and we agreed to call my midwife in the morning. I had an appointment for Thursday and was hoping to move it to Tuesday. Hubby was home all day Monday, and I still felt no movement. Ann heard my concerns and immediately agreed to squeeze me in on the following day. I was relieved that I would have an answer soon, but the stillness in my belly seemed too powerful to ignore and I was already quietly grieving for this baby.

Yesterday morning as I drove the 75 miles to my midwife’s office, my head was filled with questions. “Will there be a heartbeat?” was not even on my list. I was asking myself what it would be like to deliver at 4 months (I have had early miscarriages and a full term stillbirth, but never in the second trimester.) I was wondering if we could find a nice little wooden chest at Hobby Lobby to serve as a coffin. We could bury the baby in the family cemetery next to our stillborn daughter Sarah. What would we name the baby, and would the gender be apparent to our untrained eyes at this stage? I was wondering if we would need to notify the county coroner after the delivery, and would the midwife need to be present or would it be safe to deliver alone unattended? I composed the blog post in my head: the title would be from Job, The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  I was sad, but content.  We are all His.

When I arrived a bit early, I sat down to read and wait, but the midwife was ready for me. She hurried through the preliminary parts of the checkup: blood pressure, urine test, etc. Then I laid down and she rubbed cold jelly on my belly. I was composed, thinking I knew what to expect. I had heard the deafening silence of a baby’s still heart once before. As she got ready, she warned me that the baby at 18 weeks has lots of room to move and hide; I shouldn’t jump to conclusions if she didn’t find a heartbeat immediately.

She laid the cold head of the stethoscope on my belly and we instantly heard the most beautiful sound imaginable: the pitter patter of a tiny heart. My composure melted and I burst into tears of surprise and relief, thanking God for entrusting this child to us for a little longer.

And that was what did on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade this year.  I celebrated an unborn life.

A few riddles by kittykait

Here are a few riddles from a book called: One Thousand Poems For Children.

1. First they dress green,


Then they change brown;


and some will even wear


A red or golden gown!



2. From house to house he goes

A messenger small but slight;

And whether it rains or snows

He sleeps outside in the night


3. Riddle-me, riddle-me, riddle-me-ree,

Perhaps you can tell what this riddle may be!

As deep as a house, as round as a cup,

And all the King’s horses can’t draw it up.







1. Leaves!

2. A lane!

3.  A well!