Today ONLY @!!

Get a $25 certificate for $1 by using the coupon code WOW.  Check out the restaurants that are available in your area and stock up for the holidays or for gifts. Most certificates are good for a year, but be sure to read the fine print. I'm headed over to check it out because this is definitely a Cool Idea!!

How 'bout Them Apples

Finally there are no apples in my house. Whew!! But it took fierce determination and a lot of time, patience, and recipe help from some friends.

So just how many apples met their match? Well, I couldn't rightly tell you except to say that I bought 40 pounds of gala apples from my CSA - which gets them from an organic orchard near Charlottesville. Yep, I needed to debit my account quickly and large purchases like apples are the easiest way to do it.

At first I started out making applesauce and apple butter. I love both of these but Comfort and Joy won't eat either one so I don't make but so much. Some of the applesauce got repurposed into applesauce bread which I then took to a variety of social functions - a party, church, and used for a small group meeting at our house. I'm pretty sure this would freeze well but I haven't tried it yet.

But I still had a LOT of apples. So I made more apple butter and I cut several dozen into slices and flash froze them to store in the freezer for use in our Thanksgiving Apple Pie. I learned last year that a one gallon Ziplock bag of apples works for my recipe.

And yet there were more apples. I put out a call to some friends on an email loop and someone suggested apple cider and I thought they had lost their ever lovin' mind. Then I did some research - mosty confined to a quick Swagbucks search and learned that while you could invest in a press and yada, yada there was way to make apple cider in your kitchen with just items that I had on hand.

I will say that the cider doesn't taste like store bought, or even what you might get at a fair, likely because I only had one type of apple. I'll also tell you that I used the remaining 30 apples and ended up with 1.5L of apple cider. It was a great way to use up the apples and I'm glad that I have a new skill but if you're really interested in doing this you're going to need a LOT of apples. And invest in the cider press. Using the food processor worked for a small batch but if I were going to do this often I might think about something more efficient.

That's our apple adventure from this past month. Do you have interesting ways to get through bountiful produce at your house?

Saving Second Base

There is an incredible eCookbook and blog idea getting started that will be going on during October to help commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here's some of the info from the Once A Month Mom blog:

Saving Second Base: A Breast Cancer eCookbook Project

We are looking for recipes and stories/memories related to those recipes of those you have known or loved that have survived or passed away from breast cancer. We will be using these recipes/posts throughout the month of October on A Southern Fairytale and Once A Month Mom.

In addition, at the conclusion of the month we will take each of these recipes and create a commemorative ecookbook that you can then purchase for yourself or as a gift to the loved one and/or their family. All PROFITS from the sale of these ecookbooks will go to the Susan G Koman Foundation. We (Tricia and Rachel) will keep NONE of the proceeds.

We hope that you find that this is a memorable way to honor those in your life and to relive some of their (or your) favorite culinary creations. Here is how you can contribute:

1.Include an original recipe. It can be one of the following: a recipe of theirs, a recipe of yours that they loved, or a recipe that makes you think of them/remember them when you make it.

2.Write a food related memory or story about someone that has survived or passed whom you knew or were close to that had breast cancer to go with the recipe.

3.Include a picture of that person, a picture of you with that person, a picture of the recipe, or another photo that would be appropriate.

4.A one-two sentence bio about you, include a URL if you have a blog.

5.Email all of the above to

Note: Those entering will be asked to sign a publication release for print of the commemorative ecookbook.

If you have known a love one with a love for the kitchen that has survived or been a victim of breast cancer I hope that you will consider joining us by contributing a recipe and story, visiting during the month of October, or by purchasing the ecookbook in November!

[There's more information on the blog so hop on over and check it out so you can get everything you'll need to know!]
Okay, it's Stephanie again: this is one of those things I love about the internet. A casual conversation starts and then - you have something incredible happen. This is definitely a Cool Idea!

MP3 Deal at Amazon Today the 14th

Yep, it's a deal for today only so move quickly. And you get to pick your own deal - sort of. Get $3 off one of the 35 new MP3s in the Amazon collection - you pick which one - and use the code PICKDEAL at check out! That's it. Super cool, huh!

Passing Along More Goodness

And another reason to subscribe to Mary Hunt's Everyday Cheapskate. In the email I got this morning, which I believe must be yesterday's column, there was a tip from a woman with VERY specific instructions about how she gets free diapers by participating in product research with Johnson & Johnson.

Have I got your attention now?

It got mine even though we're, hopefully, 'this close' to being done with diapers for good. If you are interested check out the site and take a look. If you can't find it but you're interested shoot me an email and I'll send the section in question to you.

But you should subscribe anyway. It's free and the tips are great. So are the recipes. It's all the way around a Cool Idea!

Back to School Resolutions

Yep, back to school time feels like the new year to me in so many ways. There are new outfits, new haircuts, new schools and let's not forget - new crayons! So let's take time to make some resolutions...

This is a really, really good time to get your meal planning organized. Check out Once a Month Mom or $5 Dinners for help.

If you need some help getting your home organization in hand then I suggest hoping over to Totally Together Journal and subscribing to the daily email. I guarantee you won't be made to feel guilty but you will get a daily reminder that it's time to do the dusting/ change the sheets/ send cards to friends/ or just take a day for yourself.

And how about taking better care of our personal computers. Personally, I've experienced four hard drive crashes and it took the last, and most catastrophic, for me to really learn my lesson. After that tumultuous even I did some research and found that Mozy online backup was what I needed. It pulls my files up into the ether at some point during the day when my I take a break and my computer goes idle.  There are several packages but I use the free version. It works for me. It might work for you, it might not, but I guarantee you that if you are a heavy computer user you need some kind of automatic backup system. Even if you use a thumb drive to backup some of your files you need something else because thumb drives are not indestructible - I can attest to this as well. So, pick something that works with your work style and budget so you won't get stuck empty handed in a horrible crash.

Do you have any new resolutions for the end of the calendar year?

My Favorite Vegetable!

Okay, my mom and my best friend are laughing uncontrolably at this already  [You guys can stop now!!] because to say I love veggies isn't exactly true.

I eat vegetables. Some. I have a few that I prefer over others. I have some I'll only eat cooked and some I'll only eat raw and some I won't even get within the same zip code.

Then there's creamed spinach. This is my absolute favorite vegetable and it has been ever since I was a child. Although I realize for some people it doesn't qualify as a vegetable since it has been changed into something almost unrecognizable from it's original form. However, I will go so far as to continue to call it a veggie since a) the noun here is 'spinach' and b) I'm the one making the rules.

So, growing up we always ate Seabrook Creamed Spinach which by most people's account and my own, again - I make the rules here - is some of the best Creamed Spinach around. In fact, I remember reading an article in the New Yorker to this account, too, so I'm not the only one who thought this. Others just didn't match it - some were more like souffles, or had more butter or were just plain gross.

Then I grew up and moved away from home and my new grocery store didn't carry Seabrook Creamed Spinach so I thought I'd try to cook it for myself. I scoured cookbooks and tried different options and all of them tasted like crap. Well, some of them didn't even make it to the tasting round. Some of them went straight to the trash.

Then Boston Market came to town and I found their creamed spinach and even with the incredible amount of garlic they included I decided it was better than nothing so I learned to like it and about the time that I found I wanted Boston Market's Creamed Spinach more than anything else, the chain of restaurants disappeared from the area.

And then I was back to the beginning, looking for creamed spinach recipes occasionally and testing them out, never with very high hopes until one day I took a chance on a recipe from Jenn at Frugal Upstate and let me just say - Yumm.

So, here's what I did with her recipe... I didn't use cream of celery soup. Why? Because I didn't have any. Because I don't buy any. Because I don't understand why you would want to 'cream celery'. Maybe I'll try it next time. Maybe I'll just make an extra thick white sauce instead.

I did have cream of chicken soup and the thickness of the creamed spinach was absolutely perfect. The taste was great except when I'd find a wee bit of chicken;) Not gross, just unexpected.

As for the amount of garlic... well, if you think your kids are going to eat it this is probably a great amout, however if you're just making it for adults you might think about doubling it.

And let me just say that this is so yummy that I almost ate it all for myself scalding hot right off the stove instead of serving it to my family for dinner. I'm pretty sure this will become a staple of yumminess in our dinner rotation from now on and I can see the creamed spinach also becoming a yummy filling for enchiladas, too, and maybe a filling in wonton wrappers. You see, the spinach is already making me smarter!! Or was that stronger? Maybe it's both but it's definitely a Cool Idea!