Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fix and Forget Dinners and Other Retirement Musings

I am a non cooker who likes to eat. My saving grace, as they say, is my slow cooker. Soups (and many stews) are perfect for creative non cookers, I've found. They can be made with what's on hand, and once you have the basics down, creativity (or in my case the need to use-it up) can make a recipe different each time.  For the good. Minestrone is a regular in our house, and once the broth, some seasoning and some kind of bean is thrown in, everything else is as they say negotiable.  The last time my son threw in the last of our tomatoes (crushed up), the leftover green beans from a previous meal.. you get the idea.

Tonight's fix it and forget it meal is one of those "I can serve this one to guests" kind of dinner.  This particular soup is not the cheapest one in my repertoire. It's not the healthiest thing I'll eat all week (that cream). I am one of those who think eating healthy overall and exercising regularly allows a cookie here and a soup made with cream there.


Zuppa Toscana (with an unhealthy nod to the Olive Garden) begins with sliced Italian Sausage and a potato or two, peeled and cut up. On top of that I add seasonings (basil and garlic at a minimum, I cheat and use Italian seasoning. On top of that, I throw on a carton of low sodium chicken broth, turn on the slow cooker and leave. Oh, and speaking of substitutions, since I have no white wine, red will do today-a really good splash. Six hours later, I throw in frozen spinach (or kale), and cream and cook till the soup is hot again. Add whatever bread and salad we have and there you go!  The sausage came from my freezer, the spinach as well.  The potatoes from my pantry (I keep a few canned baby tomatoes so I can saute them up in butter and parsley for a last minute side dish. I could have substituted those).  It looks stunning, tastes great and takes literally no effort.  Oh, and I would brown that sausage first. Today I did not and I will probably have to skim out a few of those casing pieces.

And there you have it, no effort dinner.......Elsewhere......

  • Germany (at no surprise to me) has surpassed the US on almost every index to become the best country in the world.  This is based on 23 "attributes".  Having a strong leader, a winning and likable soccer, team, a healthy economy (yes, socialists have healthy economies), and and a really strong  record on global peace and security. I of course, could have told everyone that already. There was a reason, after all, that I was prepared to retire in such a place.

  • Using the library is part of a frugal retirement, even while owning a kindle/tablet for reading.  Just because I purchase fiction for my kindle does not mean I need to always do so-and the library is still the best source for non fiction books-at least until one has tried them! (fortunately more kindle books now have photographs, so it's not out of reach to purchase a cooking making or home improvement book with pictures, on occasion).
  • Remembering to return library books in a timely manner is also part of a frugal retirement, so that your fees don't amount to the equivalent of a purchased kindle book-enough said?
  •   I tend to never refuse free items (within storage limitations).  I find that free items can be used, re-purposed, donated or put aside for my homeless women.  Recently a friend brought a pile of yarn to our girls' get together. Although this raspberry yearn is not my color, once I got it home a certain family member fell in love . The yarn is was on it's way to becoming a shawl, but it was too bulky to show the lace pattern. It will become a scarf and possibly a hat instead.  
  • A friends has shown me that even I can learn no ways to do things for free. We have a lovely community theater in my town.  Tickets at this venue are not expensive and the entertainment is good.  To take it down a peg, a friend and her husband usher (he often handles the bar), on the opening night of each event. In exchange, their attendance is free.  This is something I'll attempt in the future, as it fits with my personality. The same friend volunteers at the Historical Castle nearby, receiving entrance to events such as chamber music concerts for doing nothing Kore than handing out programs. I also intend to jump into this one.
As always, I'm reminded that there is no one retirement lifestyle, but rather retirement is about choices, day by day and week b week.  And with that, I'm off to give that dinner a quick look.


    1. I just love fix it and forget it meals!! Soup is so good at this time of year, heck at any time of year.

      God bless.

      1. Yes I really am going to have to explore more soups

    2. We love our slow cooker so much at home, we bought a small one just for the RV. There are few things better than driving down the road while smelling something delicious cooking for dinner.

      1. I have a very small one that cooks three servings, but because we like to eat leftovers I use that primarily for appetizers any more!!!

    3. I'm with you on the library -- a great resource. But Germany? Not my idea of a dream retirement destination.


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