Sunday, June 5, 2022
HomeBudgetScattered Sundays - Sustainable Cooks

Scattered Sundays – Sustainable Cooks

Watching the news come out of Uvalde, TX was as horrific as these situations are. And yet, they’re now so common in the US that it seems rote. A friend of mine who teaches high school has basically told me she has learned how to remain in a state of numbness to protect her emotions.

Is this the world we want to live in? Not me! And let’s say for sake of argument that mental health is actually the cause of 99% of all these instances. Well friends, shouldn’t we COVER MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT??? No, instead, we turn people loose onto society and say “good luck”.

If you’re like me, these moments can make you feel absolutely furious but also powerless. When that happens, I look to where I can help as a starting point. First things first, you can sign up with Moms Demand Action or Everytown USA. They guide you through what you can do in your own community to make an impact.

Second, you can donate if it is within your means. And not all donations have to be financial. Things like giving blood or sharing donation opportunities on social media are all ways to help if your budget doesn’t allow straight cash.

And before anyone thinks I’m getting up on a soapbox without a leg to stand on, I will share that we are a family that does actually own firearms.

Troy has done competitive target shooting for 15+ years, and with that, comes all the equipment one would need. It’s not something I would have on my own, but I do want to be an example that safe ownership is possible AND you can still support regulation and restriction.

To put my money where my mouth is, I thought I’d share that since starting with ads on my site (~2014ish), I have always banned anything related to firearms. Even though those ads pay significantly higher, I keep the entire category on the “do not place on my site” list.

There is no way to transition into a typical Scattered Sundays, and frankly, I’m exhausted from even trying. So, if you’re hurting, wanting to hide, or have a sense of rage that you cannot place, I want you to know that I see you and I hear you.

a kid with a stuffed animal and a picture he drew of it.

In a completely different direction, we scheduled Bennett’s tonsil surgery for August. I’m so excited to get those suckers out of his head and cut back on his periodic fever aphthous stomatitis pharyngitis and adenitis syndrome. Yes, that is a mouthful (pun intended). You can read more about it here.

All three males were sick the last week and one or three of them were home at any given time for a week. Bennett legit sneezed into my mouth at one point and yet I thankfully avoided coming down with whatever plague they all had.

All three tested negative multiple times for the ‘Rona. Though, I assume it is only a matter of time before it is our family’s turn with it. I’m thankful we’ve held out this long, are vaccinated, and the strains that are going around are weaker.

Jack likes to joke that during the creation of my operating system, they leveled up on immunity but inserted a weakness point, ala the Death Star. And that weak point is my absolutely terrible sleep. Though to be fair, 75% of my terrible sleep is directly related to children waking me up or someone snoring.

Troy is not excited about the tonsil recovery process, because Jack’s was so awful. But it’s worth it knowing that 7 days of absolute whining and crap will eventually end. And that it will lead to Bennett not being out of school for a week at a time each time he catches a cold.

Speaking of the (3) males being sick, Jack ran his final cross country qualifier two weeks ago feeling like absolute garbage. You could tell he felt awful and when we got home I took his temp and it was 100.8F. Nothing live-threatening, but also not conditions in which you could go run 2 miles and feel great.

That race allowed him to qualify for the JV cross-country championships this past week. I was there while Troy and Bennett were at their tball game. While waiting for his heat, I watched three earlier groups all get tripped up at the exact same point in the course.

It was poorly marked and even though ALL the participants walk the route with their coaches before the races, I could see that this choke point was a problem. Kids were coming down a hill and not making the right choice with their footwork and were getting tripped up over themselves and each other.

I took a photo of the area that was slowing everyone down and ran over to where Jack and his teammates were warming up. I called them all over and explained what I had seen and how they needed to avoid it.

I figured the likelihood of 10 middle school boys listening to a mom was slim, but I could only give them the info…I couldn’t force them to heed my warning. But just to be extra safe, I positioned myself at that point in the course and as each of them ran by I yelled “swing right, swing right”.

It was so gratifying to see almost all of them follow my direction, and those who did all benefited from my screaming gentle guidance. At that specific point in the course, I watched Jack dart ahead of five other kids who were confused by the path and then he overtook two more kids who also got tripped up.

Right after the finish, I heard Jack said “I would have placed five places shower if my mom hadn’t told us what to do”. And then I got the rarest of rare things in middle school – a big sweaty public hug from a teen.

Oh, and if you’re not hip on cross country (lucky you), parents, coaches, and teammates are positioned all along the course. They’re cheering, using noise makers, and yelling out advice. I wasn’t doing anything shady with my help. Swearsies!

a kid eating a piece of kale.

People like to joke about food blogs and say “just give me the recipe and not the story”. Any blogger worth their salt today no longer tells long, meandering stories. The post is simply about the recipe with hints and tips and tricks to make sure you’re successful in making the recipe.

Sure, I used to do the long stories, but now (I save them for Sundays only!), when I’m updating old posts, I relish the act of deleting anything not pertinent to the recipe. Katie is in the same boat, and we’re gleeful about saying “shut up 2016, Sarah/Katie” as we obliterate and rework old content.

But, I’m about to tell you about the day I had this week. And after I told Cassie (also a fellow food blogger) about it, we laughed and said “if EVER there was a time to insert a giant story into a recipe post, this is it”. But when the post does come out, I’m not actually sharing the backstory. So consider this an exclusive. 🙂

This week I was testing a recipe for Q4 (Oct-Dec for the non-nerds out there) because yes, we make fall/winter food in spring and summer. It’s just part of the job.

I had the oven, air fryer, and two burners on the stove all going. As I was testing a certain part of the recipe, I started smelling what I can best describe as a cross between burning plastic and hot batteries.

I shut down everything I was cooking and went on the hunt for the source. I should note that Troy had worked a double shift and the second night was absolutely brutal with one hour of sleep, so he was taking a well-earned nap while I was recipe testing.

For years, people have teased me about my sense of smell. My sister’s high school friends nicknamed me “Sniffer” when I was in junior high. It’s always been incredibly strong and many times to my detriment…like walking past a boy’s bathroom. 🤮

My super nose and I tore through the house trying to locate the origin of this scent. I sniffed down halls, into rooms, nooks, crannies, and felt walls and the ceiling to see if I could find any “hot spots”.

I went outside, and examined the roof (we’re on a hill so if you run up the hill you can see our roof), and the perimeter of the house. I spoke to neighbors who were putting in a new driveway and were using an excavator to dig into the old surface.

I thought maybe they hit some sort of line or something. They had not, but asked that I keep them posted if I figured it out. Throughout this all, my only thoughts were “find the source, don’t wake up Troy”.

As I went back into the house, the smell HIT me and I realized it was getting stronger. It was no longer time to let Troy sleep and I woke him up. He came out of the room and immediately smelled it as well.

He then went off hunting for the source, including popping into the attic to see if something was smoldering there. As I headed back into the kitchen, the smell got much stronger, and I was determined to find the source.

My nose eventually helped me determine that the source was our fridge. And I was livid because last week I was at Costco and I saw the current price of fridges and thought “thank goodness we don’t need a new fridge right now”. I was certain I had doomed us to appliance supply-chain hell.

Troy moved the fridge, removed the back panel, and said while everything needed a good vacuuming, nothing appeared wrong. At this point, I was back to cooking the recipe I was testing because the firefighter was on the case. And then I hear “ah ha”!

a man holding a singed plastic plate.

Where our fridge is now used to be the nook where our range (oven) was. In the States at least, ranges have a specially dedicated plug-in that won’t fit any other appliances.

When we did our kitchen demo, we cut the power to the range outlet, our electrician put caps on them, and we shoved them back into the space. We drywalled around it and then covered that space with that smoky electrical cover you see Calves McGee holding above.

Hey, fun fact, those wires were STILL HOT and we had NOT killed all the power to them. So, they had just been hanging out in the wall and like a teen girl wronged, were slowly smoldering and planning their revenge.

tools and singed cords on a grey tile floor.

We put the fridge on an extension cord to an outlet in the dining room and then Troy cut the power to the outlet behind the fridge. Finding out which breaker went to the old oven caused our current oven to turn on and off about 10 times. You know, the very oven that I was testing my November recipe in.

I’m absolutely going to have to retest this recipe in the coming weeks. It tasted DELICIOUS but half of it was undercooked and half of it was almost burned from the constant “on-off” of the oven.

The fact that we were both home at that exact time was in itself a miracle. Troy and Bennett had tball that afternoon, and I was heading to Jack’s cross-country meet.

I had planned to test my recipe at that exact time, but had I decided to delay it a day or stayed working at my computer, I would have left the house without hanging out in the kitchen for an extended period of time.

I shudder to think what would have happened had we both been away from the house. I’m thankful we were home. I’m thankful we’re ok. I’m thankful Troy knew what to do and had the tools and knowledge to do it. And I’m thankful for my overpowered sniffer.

a woman pointing at her nose
Not all heroes wear capes.

So, the people coming to the blog in November to get the recipe for the delightful dish I am publishing then will never know that my house almost burned down while testing the recipe. But you do. And that makes you special. 😘

disney and marvel fabric on a teal chair.

I mentioned last week that this weekend we were seeing friends for two days to celebrate their joint 40th birthdays! Adam was one of my best friends in high school, and thanks to the powers of social media, I have come to know and adore his beautiful wife and his amazing kids.

We’re so lucky because his son is a perfect buddy for Jack, and his daughter and Bennett get along like you wouldn’t believe. If you can’t find the littles, they’ve either buried themselves in a pile of stuffies, or they’re outside with the bugs and snails.

Adam collects rum and I know as much about rum as I know about buying a C bra, so we gave him a gift card to Total Wine. His wife is a huge Disney and Marvel fan and is the kind of elementary school teacher that you would dream of for your child.

For his wife, I made a giant set of fabric gift bags (my tutorial is here) in a mix of Disney and Marvel. I include a spool of white fabric ribbon for her to use over and over again. I think they turned out really well and she loved them!

a cloth marvel gift bag.
All the handmade gift bags are inside this one. It’s a bag o’ bags.

In the Garden This Week

My salad consumption has increased about 300% in the last two weeks thanks to the lovely lettuce I am harvesting every few days. I have the biggest salad spinner someone can own outside of an industrial farm, and we’re filling it up constantly. These are the days that the garden is 100% worth it.

Other than that, the carrots, beets, and peas are coming along nicely. The raspberry patch is going beserk but won’t be producing any fruit for another month or so. Just waiting on things to start warming up!

Still nary a strawberry in the patch, but I see they’re trying and I appreciate the effort. And their delicious eventual offspring.


Another reader recommended the podcast White Eagle about an armored truck robbery. From the website: On a balmy evening in late September 1983, a 25-year-old armored truck driver set in motion one of the largest cash heists in U.S. history. White Eagle is the story of that robbery. Join investigative journalist and bestselling true crime author M. William Phelps as he untangles one of the most fascinating crimes in modern history and searches for a man who’s eluded federal authorities for nearly four decades. (source)

What I’m reading this week

I finished Never by Ken Follet. It was good, scary, and dreadfully close to our present-day global political situation. I’m sure that was intended but it was still very heavy.

After it was recommended by tons of readers, I started The Midnight Library. So far, I like the concept and writing and am interested to see where it goes.


Long-time reader, Melissa gets the award for “fastest person ever to make a brand new recipe” as she made our Air Fryer Shrimp Tacos ONE DAY after the post went live! {Pin this recipe}

We were driving home from an activity and my husband said to me, I’d love to have shrimp for dinner. I knew we had to try this! We stopped by the store to grab a few ingredients. This was a huge hit here! Dead easy to make and delicious.

a platter of shrimp tacos with lime cabbage slaw.


Oat Milk PancakesAn easy from-scratch recipe for the fluffiest Oat Milk Pancakes ever. These healthy dairy-free pancakes are made with all-purpose, oat flour, and creamy oat milk. {Pin this recipe}

a stack of oatmilk pancakes on a plate with syrup being poured over it.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Without BreadingTender and juicy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders With No Breading are a fast and tasty recipe that is ready in only 20 minutes (including prep!). Enjoy this delicious air fryer chicken recipe with your favorite side dishes for a fast weeknight meal. {Pin this recipe}

a plate of air fryer chicken tenders without breading topped with parsley.

Garlic Butter Rice – This delicious and popular reader favorite recipe got a glow up with new photos, and better, more detailed instructions. Enjoy! {Pin this recipe}

a white and blue bowl with garlic rice topped with chopped parsley.


Monday:: Testing a new recipe that will hopefully be not only a hit with my family but also yours. Very soon.

Tuesday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Wednesday:: Air Fryer Taquitos, Garlic Butter Rice, and salad.

Thursday:: Another recipe that I’m testing that involves breakfast for dinner.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Jack has a s’mores-centered soccer meeting early that evening, so we’ll make something quick and healthy depending on what is in the fridge before heading over there.

Sunday:: Takeout because it will be a long week and I’m going to be DONE by the end of the week. Just eat your food and be quiet. Momma loves you but doesn’t want to hear from you.

What are you having this week?



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