I have to go into work for a couple hours tomorrow, so I left a couple hours early today. My boss will generally give me the option of leaving early or getting some OT, and after some irritation with some things yesterday, I decided to take this afternoon off. I figured I’d get the grocery shopping out of the way, even though I could very easily have done it Sunday before Meet the Press (which I’m not even sure I want to watch, as Rep. John Boehner from my home state of Ohio will be on, and any time that man opens his mouth, my blood boils. I am done talking politics now, otherwise my head will explode.). But it was nice having an afternoon off.

We didn’t need a whole lot at the store this time–The usual bananas, milk & yogurt was all we really needed. I did have to get more pork chops, as Jay is an awful lot like Homer Simpson in the aspect that both of them would live off pork products alone if allowed. I did also stock up on laundry stuff, as Seventh Generation stuff is on sale this month, and I had some coupons. And Organic Valley butter is also on sale. I did something a couple weeks ago that I regretted–Horizon Organics has butter that is now being stocked in my Hy-Vee, and because it’s about 2 bucks cheaper than Organic Valley, I bought 2 lbs. I won’t be doing that again. I swear the stuff is already rancid, and it’s been in my freezer since I bought it. I hate to waste food, when we’re already on a tight-enough budget, but I’ve been waffling on whether or not I want to throw it out. I stopped buying anything from Horizon Organics a couple years ago, once I learned they’re basically a large factory farm that pretends to be organic. But for right now, the butter is still in my freezer.

I did also need some potatoes, because the bambino has been requesting the Pioneer Woman’s BBQ meatballs, and since I had the time this afternoon, I obliged him:

They’re a little time-intensive, but very well-worth the effort. They go from this:

To this:

(At this point, raw in the center or not, I had to restrain myself from popping a couple into my mouth)

And finally:

Obviously, Ree’s pictures are far better than mine, and I did tweak her recipe only slightly. Both the sauce and the meatballs call for chopped onions in her recipe. As I cannot stand onions (it’s not the taste–I love onion flavoring, but I can’t handle the texture. It grosses me out, the same way the texture of coconut grosses me out.), and my husband doesn’t care for them either, I used a heckuva lot of onion powder instead. They were delicious enough that Jay had 3 servings, and I’m hoping that the 4 that are left are still waiting for me when I get home from work tomorrow (although I’m pretty sure that’s extremely wishful thinking on my part!).

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For the first time in over a week, the sun’s trying to break through the clouds. It’s amazing how my mood has perked up now that I’ve noticed it.

I’ve gotten the grocery shopping done, and as usual, spent a little more than I was planning. The bambino needed more diapers, and those aren’t cheap. I also stocked up on a few other things for the week. I did make a menu, and didn’t really deviate from my list. We’ll be doing 2 vegetarian nights this week–Tubetti cacio e uova Tuesday, and then broiled polenta with marinara on Thursday. It’ll help stretch the meat we do have out a bit. Tomorrow night’s not quite vegetarian–Soup & sandwiches, but the soup I’m making will have ground beef in it, and I’ll be dusting off the panini maker for some yummy grilled organic cheese. I don’t know if I’ll use the whole wheat bread that we have half a loaf left of, or if I’ll use the whole wheat oat bread I’ve got resting at the moment.

We’ll be heading down to Inwood, Iowa to visit Jay’s grandmother tomorrow morning. It’ll be interesting–His grandmother is a little nuts, but in a good way. She reminds me a bit of my grandma Myra–Very blunt & outspoken, which I like.

My new issue of Everyday Food showed up this afternoon, so I think I’ll flip through that while I wait for the dryer to finish up!

I kind of like my mundane Saturday ritual…The bambino & I go to the grocery store, he gets some chocolate milk & crackers to munch while we shop, and I get a cup of coffee so that I don’t maim or bite someone’s head off due to lack of caffeine. I’m thinking that I’m going to have to up my grocery budget if possible, if I’m going to continue buying organic or natural. I can’t wait until the farmers’ market starts up in a couple more months…And we can get our garden up & running. Granted, since this will be our first year attempting a vegetable garden, I’m trying not to have too high of hopes, but if I can at least get some decent tomato soup and/or pasta sauce out of it, I’ll be happy.

I bought a couple containers of Oikos this morning, to give them another try. I think, though, I prefer Chobani, when it comes to Greek yogurt. For one, it’s about 50 cents cheaper than Oikos. And it’s just a hint milder-tasting. I see that Dannon and Yoplait also have Greek-style yogurts out now as well, but I don’t think I’ll be trying them. I’ve read a few online reviews that say they aren’t that good, and I’ve been trying to stay away from as much HFCS as I can. I will say, though, that my Oikos Vanilla tasted pretty good with the Bear Naked Maple Pecan granola I also bought. I usually make my own granola, but I neglected to buy pecans, and I’ve got enough other things to try & accomplish today that I didn’t want to bother.

Jay’s been really nice this week, and treated us to dinners out 3 nights in a row. As such, the only meat that I bought was some Organic Prairie Ground Beef (I had a coupon), and some steaks that the bambino requested (which were on sale). Everything else I got was either to restock the pantry (spaghetti, broth, bananas, potatoes) or necessities (diapers, napkins). Since I haven’t cooked in 4 or 5 days, I can pretty much reuse the menu I made last week. I’ll tweak it a little bit, but I haven’t really cooked since Tuesday night.

I’m planning on maybe getting the laundry done this afternoon, since it looks like we’re going to Sunday dinner with the in-laws tomorrow. That way, I can fix breakfast in the morning (after Meet the Press), and make some bread after we get back.

I need to work on tweaking the settings on my new camera. That’s using the cloudy setting with flash. Apparently, SoDak really is this dark & depressing. I’m really trying not to let SAD get the better of me today, but the faster the snow falls, the faster my mood falls. 3 more inches between now & tomorrow, then semi-blizzard conditions kick in. I’ve heard from more than one person around town that this winter has been particularly harsh, and not because the snowfall’s been all that unusual or anything…There hasn’t been nearly as much of a break as far as the really frigid temps, or the frequency of snow. This winter (with the exception of a couple of freakish days in early October), the snow held off until December. But it’s basically been falling a couple inches at a time (or more, in some cases)  once or twice a week since probably December 15th. And off-hand, there was a string of maybe 3 or 4 days last month where there was sun, and things started to melt. Then the temp dropped again, and the snow started up. I keep thinking about a passage from one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books (and I can’t remember which one exactly, but I think it’s Little Town on the Prairie), where she’s taken a teaching job somewhere outside of De Smet, and she has to live with the superintendent or some other school official. She wakes up one night to witness the man’s wife holding him at knifepoint, and she’s telling him she wants to move back East. I’m beginning to understand exactly why that woman cracked.

Although we have a self-imposed ban on any spending other than food, bills, or other necessities, we did venture out to lunch this afternoon, and we’re going out for dinner tomorrow night. We took the bambino to Nick’s again, although this time he was more interested in spinning around on the stool than he was in his cheeseburger. No matter. He’s a Brookings native, so most likely, if he ever moves away, Nick’s will be one of the places he’ll need to stop when he comes home to visit…Not unlike my need for Skyline & LaRosa’s whenever I’m in Cincinnati.

I got the grocery shopping done…I kind of figured that if I can’t spend money on things other than food or bills these days, I might as well go back to buying more expensive and organic food. I’m trying to decide if I want to make Pasta Filetto di Pomodoro (from the Rao’s cookbook), or if I want to attempt Tubetti Cacio e Uova. I did buy pancetta this morning, with the specific intent of using it for the Pasta Filetto di Pomodoro, but we’ve eaten a LOT of red meat in the past couple of days (and I know neither Jay or the bambino would find anything wrong with that), so a simple yet filling meatless dish might be nice. We’ll see though. I was thinking I need to make some Hot Fudge Brownie Pudding (which is what it’s called in my mom’s old-school Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, although in my not-as-old-school BHG cookbook, it’s called Brownie Pudding Cake, and online, it’s been given yet another new name), since I have this need to use my still-new dessert bowls and I did buy some organic vanilla ice cream as well this morning. I also need to bake bread sometime this weekend, although if that doesn’t get done before tonight’s dinner, that’s okay. Our dinner reservations aren’t until 5 tomorrow night, so I have plenty of time, even if it goes into the oven after the bambino goes to bed.