5 Things You NEED To Know About Cooking Pasta!

How To Cook PastaPasta . . . YUM!  Who doesn’t love it?  It comes in all sorts of fun shapes and sizes.  It can be a dish as simple as chicken and noodles or something more exotic with unusual sauces and toppings.

But, do you know how to get the most from your pasta?  It doesn’t matter if you use fresh pasta or the stuff out of the box, there are some standard tips to use.

  • Use a large pot.  Pasta needs a lot of water and plenty of room to move about while being cooked.
  • Speaking of water . . . use plenty of it.  Any pasta that isn’t totally submerged while cooking will not cook properly.
  • Season your water.  I know most people don’t think of this.  But, adding seasoning (I personally use salt, pepper and garlic) will enhance the pasta flavor even though you drain the water off before serving.
  • Do NOT use olive oil (or any other kind of oil) in the water.  Yes, it will help the pasta to not clump and to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.  But, it will also make it more difficult for the sauce to stick to the pasta.  Just remember to stir your pasta a couple of times in the cooking process and you should be good to go.
  • Do NOT rinse your pasta after draining.  I know a lot of people will rinse their pasta (usually with cold water to stop the cooking process) but that washes away the starch that helps to keep the sauce nice and thick and to stick to the noodles.  If you are worried about overcooking, remove your pasta from the heat about two minutes before you feel it will be cooked properly.

See how easy these things are?  You can cook pasta like a pro just by remembering these easy steps!

Mangia!

Love, Peace & Pasta!

Hoosier Barn Chick

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Monday Motivation

I am not a big fan of motivational posters and quotes.  But, sometimes you find one that resonates with you.  While researching ideas to come up with at least four weeks of posts, the “motivational quote” prompt came up.  (Insert Eye Roll Here)  But, after some clicking, I came up with one that I felt was inspiring, but not too corny.

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What draws me to this one?  It addresses a couple of factors in our lives.  The first is the fear of failure or change.  These are often really one thing.  The second is how to make changes in your life without freaking yourself out or overhauling your entire life all at once.

In honor of my vow to FLY again by using Baby Steps, this is my new mantra.  Until my short attention span runs out . . . oh look, a squirrel!

Peace, Love & Tiny Tweaks

Hoosier Barn Chick

 

Saturdays At The Barn

During the last month, I’ve started using the Wal-Mart grocery app and I’m loving it!  Here’s how I get the most out of it:

  • On Sundays (usually), I reserve a time for the next Saturday or Sunday.
  • In order to keep that time reserved, you must put a minimum of $30 on your order and “checkout”.  I always throw the basics in which gets me to the minimum order.
  • As I have time during the week, I plan out our meals and add the needed groceries to my list.
  • Whenever I discover we are low on something or I find there’s something extra I need, I just add it to my order.
  • The night before I pick up, I finalize my order.  I think you can add to your existing order right up until 7 or 8 hours before pickup.  You must check out ALL of your remaining items in your order by then.
  • On my pick up morning, I watch my email until they tell me my order is ready.
  • When I get my email, I use the app to “check in” and I head into town.
  • Once I get to the Wal-Mart parking lot, I choose one of the designated parking spaces and call the number on the sign to let them know I’m there.
  • They bring the groceries out and load them into your vehicle.
  • When I get home, I enter my TC# into the Savings Catcher to add to my account so that I can use the money for gift cards later.

How simple is that?

You can even mark individual items if you will accept substitutions if they are out of something.  Substitutions have been few and far in between and they have always given me something that was really acceptable . . . and if the alternate item is more expensive than your chosen one, they give it to you at the cheaper price.

While I was in town, I filled up the cow water tank we keep in the back of one of the trucks at the water company, picked up some stuff from CVS because I had a $25 coupon, bought Daisy Doodle a bigger crate and put gas in that truck.

Back at The Barn, I unloaded and put away the groceries, started some laundry, set up the new crate, burned some boxes and mopped the laundry room.  I even managed to color my hair!

Once that was done, I went out and filled up the water troughs, repositioned the feed trough (Walnut likes to knock it around), fed the cows and gathered up the salt and mineral blocks and put them back up on their stand.

Now, I think I need a nap!

Peace, Love & Ger ‘er Done

Hoosier Barn Chick

Bigfoot or Not Bigfoot?

That is the question.

Several years ago The Hubby bought a gilley suit.  If you aren’t familiar with these, the military developed them as camo and they have become popular with hunters as well.

As a joke, he put it on and went and stood on our property during low light for me to take a picture and post it.  I’m not a believer in Bigfoot.  And I assumed that most people I know aren’t either.  Little did I know that this one picture would create a shitstorm.  My post simply said something along the lines of “what is this?”.  Friends who I would have never guessed to be Bigfoot believers came out of the woodwork to discuss it.  Many were adamant about it.  What amazed me even more was the number of people I knew who said that they (or someone close to them) had seen Bigfoot.

Bigfoot? Fact or Fiction?
Bigfoot?
Bigfoot?  Fact or Fiction?
Bigfoot?

Several years ago, Finding Bigfoot did an episode that included the Morgan-Monroe State Forest which our property actually extends to.  The forestry is also popular with paranormal groups who are in search of Bigfoot.

I have to say that the money spent on the gilley suit was worth every penny.

Pumpkin-Palooza!

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As much as I hate to say it, pumpkin season has snuck up on us.  Not being a big fan of the pumpkin spice craze, I’m still a fanatic for things with fresh pumpkin.

I don’t like my pumpkin related foods to include canned pumpkin from the store and HATE anything made from the store-bought pumpkin pie filling.

So, it’s not uncommon for me to get a few large pumpkins in the fall and make my own pumpkin puree for myself and the in-laws.

Making your own pumpkin puree may seem like a daunting task but it’s really quite simple.

  1. Know your pumpkins – There are several types of pumpkins but you can usually lump them into two main categories:
    • Carving/Decorating Pumpkins – You are certainly familiar with these.
    • Cooking Pumpkins
      • You can actually use either to cook with.  But, I think you get more out of a cooking pumpkin and a meatier/better texture.  The texture issue can be resolved by draining off the extra liquid from the puree.
  2. Wash and dry your pumpkins
  3. Cut your pumpkins in half.
  4. Using a large spoon (or even an ice cream scoop) remove the “guts” and stringy bits.
  5. Cut your halves into consistent size chunks in order for them to cook evenly and quickly.
  6. Cook the pumpkin until it’s soft.  You can do this in a pot on the stove or cover it with foil and roast it in the oven.
  7. Remove the skin of the pumpkin.  Sometimes you can just peel it off.  Some people prefer to scrape out the cooked meat.
  8. Using a blender, puree the pumpkin until it’s the consistency you want.  If your blender won’t start processing the pumpkin, add a little water.  You can always remove the water later.
  9. Once your pumpkin is ready, let it sit for 30-60 minutes and drain off any extra liquid.  Some people like to strain the liquid out with a cheesecloth.
  10. Freeze or can your puree.  I prefer to freeze mine.  I bag it in quantities of 2 or 4 pumpkincups (2 cups are standard for 1 pie) and lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and let them freeze overnight.  Then, I can just pop them in a basket in my freezer and they don’t take up as much room as a canning jar would in my pantry.  Make sure you label the bags before you freeze them!

When you thaw your puree, feel free to drain off any excess liquid.

I prefer not to add any spices to my puree as I am making it.  Picture your puree is a blank canvas.  Then, you can add what you like to it depending on what you are making or who it is for!

Peace, Love & Pumpkins!

Hoosier Barn Chick