Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: February 2015

Make Ahead to Make Life Easier

There is only one thing that makes country life difficult.

No pizza delivery.

Gasp

I know. It’s like we live on the moon.

No pizza delivery means making dinner every night, or running back into town to pick something up … which will be Oldest’s job as soon as he gets his driver’s license.

But for now the job falls to me, and I don’t like to stress the SUV since she’s at almost 300,000 miles, so I cook.

Two weeks ago, I ran across a great make-ahead tip and I wanted to hug the blogger. She almost didn’t post the recipe since it was so simple, something she does without thinking. Something that rocked my world.

Shredded chicken in the Crockpot.

The chicken really does shred with the paddle attachment on your mixer. I was skeptical, but it worked. I put 2 cups of shredded chicken (that’s what most of my recipes call for) in each freezer sandwich bag, then store all the individual bags in one gallon-sized freezer bag. Obviously, in pure cheapskate country style, I wash and refill the freezer bags with more cooked chicken once they are empty.

shred chicken

Oh no, only three left!

I will never again neglect to store plastic bags of pre-cooked, pre-shredded chicken in my freezer. Just imagine pot pies, pesto sandwiches, casseroles, quesadillas, and soup at your frazzled fingertips!

It has changed my existence. You may think that’s sad, but I waved goodbye to pride with the birth of my third child. Life’s all yoga pants and shredded chicken for me, folks.

A Letter to my Homeschooled Child

No, I don’t know when you’ll use quadratic equations in real life, but I know you’ll use them in college.

Yes, I had to look up what a dangling participle was before I taught you how to identify one yesterday.

No, I don’t think you’ll become an artist. That’s pretty obvious by looking at your watercolor painting. But all those art lessons will help you understand how difficult it is to create beauty and maybe, just maybe, you’ll appreciate the talents of others.

Yes, I think you should know where the country of Azerbaijan is, what if you need to go there someday?

No, I don’t believe that you will perform with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but when you play, no matter how rough it is, it is still the most beautiful sound in the world.

Yes, you have to learn cursive. Because I said so.

No, I don’t think you will major in music history, but Mozart wrote over 600 pieces of amazing music in half a lifetime. What will you do before you’re forty?

Yes, you have to learn world history. How else will you choose differently than those who failed before you?

No, I don’t know if you’ll become an astronomer, but learning about the universe will help you understand how incredibly small and undeniably important you are.

Yes, you have to correct your mistakes. Learning from mistakes is the most important lesson you will ever learn.

No, texting does not count toward your writing grade. Give me five pages, single-spaced, discussing the works of C.S. Lewis just for asking that question.

Yes, I would do it again. Every gray hair. Each laugh. Every tear.

No, I didn’t imagine my life filled with papers to grade, lessons to plan, or animals prepped for dissection in my refrigerator.

Yes, my beautiful, curious, innovative child, you are worth it.

shutterstock_241482649

I am not that boring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Style

Ever wondered what makes country people so hardy?

My current theory is that the high levels of calcium in well water can harden a person’s character as well as their bones.

Country folk don’t need fancy-pants bureaucrats from the E(cough)P(choke)A(gag) tellin’ us that we need to conserve and reuse. That’s just how we roll.

Free a mighty pecan tree from the grips of wild grape vines? Reuse the grape vines to smoke BBQ.

recycled grapevine smoke

Or, better yet, trellis that baby for easy harvesting when the Mustang grapes ripen.

recycled grapevine

Need to clear a patch of land with ten trees blocking your path? Reuse the wood as firewood, then turn cold fireplace ash into garden fertilizer.

recycled ashes

My boys used to believe heat came from the thermostat. Now trained as proper country boys, they go get firewood when they’re cold.

Or save the straight tree trunks and build yourself a barn.

recycled trees

Future barn site.

Need a container to hold all the basketballs and bats rolling around in the garage? Recycle the blue plastic protein tub that your cows just emptied (be sure bleach it first…cows drool ya know).

recycled tubs

You will not find any crystal in our cupboards, instead you will find mason jars. They are cheap, hard to break, and can be used to store things if needed. Apparently, this is what has always been done out here as evidenced by a glass jar a recent visitor found in our woods. A 1947 vacuum-packed coffee jar to be exact. Probably dropped by an old rancher reusing the jar as a drinking glass while working the land. Still in great condition, we could turn around and use it again.

recycled glass

We find them all the time when we clear land. These were probably left lying around in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.

We try to lessen our footprint, not to make some kind of statement, but because we find satisfaction in being creatively resilient. Country folk are usually cheap sons of guns too, ahem, not us of course, but others.