When life is busier than usual

Wendi Spraker
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“Life has a way of testing a person’s will either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once,” said Paulo Coelho. How right you are Paulo, how right you are. Have you noticed this too?

About one month ago on a Sunday afternoon, I scanned my calendar and I thought, “I have no idea how I will get all of this done.” Somewhere in the background, the devil laughed and in a craggily whisper said, “Oh, you have no idea.” The following Monday at o-dark-thirty, the phone rang (never a good omen). My dad came on the line with bad news about my mother. Time to rush to the hospital.

The rest, frankly has been a blur, a four week long haze of one big or small emergency after another. Thank God, sweet Jesus, angels, my family and my husband or my world would resemble a knotted strand of Christmas lights. By the way, there were no Christmas lights at my house this year – I just didn’t have time.

What does all of this have to do with food?

A lot.

I know I am not the only one in this boat. Many of you are running so fast that you never get to sit down and have a complete satisfying nutritious meal. Like me over the past four weeks, many of you gulp down fast food burgers, crackers or a handful of popcorn and call it a meal.

Scary, isn’t it?

If it weren’t for having the ingredients in my pantry for several meals that I know by heart and a freezer packed with crockpot meals, I believe my pocketbook would be empty, my waistline enlarged and everyone under my roof would be grumpy from eating the mystery ingredients found in today’s “fast” food.

What follows are a couple recipes that you can put straight into freezer bags completely raw. No precooking necessary. On the day you want to use them, simply remove from the freezer and plunk the frozen concoction straight into the crockpot. Set the crockpot on low and walk away and eight hours later you will have a nutritious and tasty meal ready! Simply add some rice, noodles or toast and a salad and your meal is complete.

On days like I’ve been having lately, these recipes are a safety line. We should call them “Life Saver” meals for drowning people. I wrote these recipes specifically for two people (me and my husband) using our teeny 3 quart crock pot. There is usually enough left over for one extra meal – sometimes two. If you are feeding more people at your house, just double the ingredients (and use a bigger crock pot). Cook time remains the same. (I do recommend the broth concentrate – you can find it in the grocery store near the canned soups and canned broths – the taste is about a million times better than bouillon cubes – just my opinion).

Have you had a stressful holiday time too? I would love to hear about it. Maybe we could swap stories! You can reach me any time at wendi@loavesanddishes.net or you can check out more recipes on my website www.loavesanddishes.net

Lemon Garlic Chicken

1 large potato (fist size or larger) – peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

1 lb boneless skinless chicken (thigh or breast – thigh is juicer and more flavorful).

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbs butter

1 lemon’s juice (about 2 Tbs)

½ lemon’s zest

1 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbs Chicken Broth concentrate (or 2 chicken bouillon cubes)

Place all items in a quart sized freezer bag, lay flat to freeze – squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag before freezing.

When ready to use, remove from the freezer – run the bag under warm water so that contents can be removed from the bag. Place in a 3 quart crockpot.

Add ½ cup water to the crock and then cook on low in the crockpot for 6-8 hours.

If the “sauce” for this dish is thinner than you like, 30 minutes before serving mix 1 tsp of cornstarch with 3 Tbs cool water – mix well and add to the crockpot. The “sauce” will thicken in about 30 minutes.

Serve with a green salad and crusty bread! YUM!

Blueberry Pork Roast

1-1 ½ lb pork roast (loin, shoulder or butt) (will be difficult to find this small amount – best to choose a 3 lb roast and cut it in half and make two recipes of this).

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

¼ cup orange juice

2 tsp dijon mustard

½ onion – diced

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 Tbs Beef broth concentrate (or 2 beef bouillon cubes).

Place all items in a quart sized freezer bag, lay flat to freeze

When ready to use, remove from the freezer – run under warm water so that contents can be removed from the bag. Place in a 2 quart crock pot.

Add ½ cup of water to the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

If the “sauce” for this dish is thinner than you like, 30 minutes before serving mix 1 tsp of cornstarch with 3 Tbs cool water – mix well and add to the crockpot. The “sauce” will thicken in about 30 minutes.

This dish is wonderful with a green veggie – green beans or a salad. Please have some mashed potatoes with it too – that sauce over the mashed potatoes – pure divine!

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Wendi Spraker