Friday, November 4, 2011

Cookbooks and Traditions

I posted tonight about buying two new cookbooks...and it got me to thinking about cooking, family and traditions...with the holiday's right around the corner, those things are front and center on my list right now:)

I posted this on my personal wall that it didn't take much to make me happy...a night at home with my kids (we are going to watch Soul Surfer as soon as I get through with this) and two new cookbooks....

I LOVE cookbooks...I especially love the ones with stories in them about how the dish came about...who cooked it, and when they cooked it...I love the ones with pictures...Pioneer Woman has one of the best cookbooks I have ever not only has delicious dishes...she takes all her own pictures and it shows step by step how to prepare them...what they should be looking like every step of the way, and she tells such great stories in them, and has pictures of her family in it...a great cookbook if you are a cookbook lover like me.  Of course Paula Deen is still my favorite:)  Her cooking is so much my style:)

One thing I started doing several years back is making notes in my cookbooks...If I cook a dish for a birthday dinner (a tradition in our family...everyone gets their choice of birthday dinner, whether it be restaurant or favorite dish prepared at home) I write next to the recipe, when I made it...if the kids liked it or not...changes I made to it...things I should change next time....I do this for me as a reference, but I also do it with the hopes that my kids will be as sentimental as me some day:)  As my oldest gets older, I definitely see it happening to her:) I hope that one day when I am too old to be the one doing all the cooking and as my girls (and hopefully son) start going through my cookbooks finding recipes mom used to make for them, they will see my notes and they will mean something to them...and bring back memories of Christmas or a birthday party...those notes in my cookbooks are like a journal to the special meals I have made over the years...and if my kids turn out anything like me...those cookbooks with my notes in them will someday be something they treasure when I am no longer here...something maybe my grandkids will too:) 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Growing Pains...and blessings (it's long-but read to the end:)

It has been a while since I have written much more than our menus on here.  I was thinking about that on Friday and have had the urge to get on here and pour out my heart since then...but am just now getting the chance to do so.:) 

As a lot of our "regulars" know and some of you may be able to tell by my posts on facebook this past week...this last week was a week that tested me and made me question if I was really cut out for this...(even though really in my heart I KNOW I am doing what I am supposed to be doing:) we all have our moments when we question things and I had several of them this I am going to share with you those moments, and how you, my customers affected my life this week without even knowing it and affirmed to me I am right where God wants me to be at this moment in my life:) And I am so truly thankful for being able to do something I love doing and helping families all around here.

It started on Monday...we were sick, every one of us.  Me, my kids at oldest daughter who helps me, Misti, my best friend who helps me some at the there was just now way we could even open the doors on Monday, there was no one to cook...Of course I would love to be to the point where I had a huge staff that could keep things running when I get sick, but I am not there and honestly have realized in this that I care more about the quality that goes out of our doors than anyone else ever will, it's just part of being the owner and being a "hands on" person like I am...and I really do care that what you all taste is good and good quality and thats what keeps you coming back.  I have saw a lot of restaurants go out of business because they started out great, and as they grew the owners couldn't keep up with it so they hire people to do it for them, quality goes down...they lose customers...and they go out.  I want to be here for a long, long time:)So, at this point if I get really daughter is sick...or Misti is sick...all together, there is no way we can open our doors.  Most understand, but we had a few mention it and seem to not understand that we are human, we get sick too...:) I just have to try to keep a smile on my face, but sometimes it gets hard.

So Tuesday I come back...feeling a lot better...My daughter does too, but Misti is still sick.  So my daughter and I get there and start cooking...we have 2 BIG lunches and when I say big I am meaning we were feeding about 50 people between the two of them and it is just us two cooking:) Plus we are trying to get enough in the cooler to get started for regular walk-in customers....Now we make everything for these lunches from main dish, sides, desserts, and rolls....and while we are doing this, we have customers walk in and wonder where all the food is that is "supposed" to be in the coolers:)  And I understand, I do...but we literally cook from scratch...this food doesn't just "appear"  lol.  I have one girl who helps a lot with desserts come in almost 2 hours late...and when I say something about it, she starts crying and walks out thinking she could go get her composure and come back in...well, we were in the middle of these two lunches, trying to cook for the coolers and come in 2 hours late and then walk out to cool off when we have so much work to do...that didn't work for me.  She is like part of our family, in fact she married into the family...and is very hard for me to separate family and friendships from work, but I have work, we may all be family, but I expect everyone to work.  So, I let her go.  It broke my heart..but ulitmately I have to do what is best for the store and things like that weren't working for the store.

 So understand, we have two people on Tuesday doing all this food and trying our hardest to make sure you all had food to buy...we don't sit down, I don't even get to go pick my kids up from school most daughter does it for me.  We work non-stop to do this every day.  Most of our customers who KNOW us KNOW this...but to someone walking in, and if we are running low on what is in our coolers, they will look at us like we are "playing house" or something...and when you usually have 4 in the kitchen and you only have 2 like I did this week...there was no way I could of physically done any more than I did.  And I know customers didn't realize what was going on in the kitchen...but here it is, I believe in being honest, telling things like they really are...and this is what went on in our kitchen this week.

So then comes Wed....Misti is sick again....Me and Becca (my daughter) again, by ourselves trying to cook up a storm...main dishes...desserts...I don't even think we bothered with sides this day..we didn't have time:)  I had ordered my food from our food distributor on Tuesday and expected it on Wed morning.  We are dealing with a different company.  I have told them I need my food in the mornings...but for some reason they keep routing me for afternoons...this week I didn't get my food until 5:00.  So, I had to alter my menu for that day because I didn't have all the ingredients to make what was on the regular menu and couldn't just run to the grocery store to get them...I ran to Wal-Mart as soon as they told me it would be afternoon and bought enough ingredients to get through to make some of our menu items...and then I got to mixing up and noon we were steady...people were just coming in back to back...My boy "helper" came to the store after noon to help me and Becca....I was mixing the Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, He was rolling them as fast as he could and dishing them up:) I would cook a little, wash my hands, run out to the front, wait on customers, run back to the kitchen, wash my hands, cook a little...that went on ALL DAY Wed.  We never got caught up...we had about 65 customers Wed and normally a good day is 50.  :) 

We are SOOO thankful and blessed for days like that, but it was hard because you all couldn't get all the items you were used to getting when we are all there working like we should be...and I could of had an AWESOME day at the store had I had all the things that we normally have to sell to you all.  It was very frustrating to me because I try so hard to give everybody everything they want.  It is really hard for me to tell a customer "no" we don't have that, or we can't do that.  I hate that feeling:) KNOW THAT.  If you have a reasonable request, I WANT to do it for you...that is my nature, and I will stay late and come early many times to do it for people, but I am one person and can't do it all...and I am learning I have to say "no" sometimes because I simply can't do it:(

I didn't leave the store till about 9:00 Wed night.  Thursday Misti finally was feeling well enough to come back to work and I was breathing a sigh of relief!  So, there were at least 3 of us there cooking...because on Tuesday it was like a swarm of something came in and everything was sold!  I think we had 2 containers of soup left in the cooler at the end of Wed.  It is quite comical...when you think of it...but I simply couldn't keep up with it Wed! So Thursday we cooked our tails off, we never really got much ahead, but we tried!  As we would cook, it was going out the door...the cooler never really got filled up:) I am sooo thankful, don't ge me wrong, we are thankful to have such loyal, good customers.  But we had several new people walk in last week who had never been in before and they probably are laughing thinking "those ladies don't have much"...I want our coolers full....but more than that...I want our customers getting the food they even if our coolers never get full, if we can help you, that's our goal.

Friday...We had planned 4 BIG lunches before noon...all together, we fed about 230 people in those lunches...There are 3 of us there cooking.  We stayed late on Thursday and did lots of the prep work before hand...I know we still have "regular" customers going to come in to get food...but early in the morning we simply had to concentrate on these big meals .  We did entire meals...Entrees, sides, rolls, desserts....I am constantly looking at the clock every day to determine what my next move should be...again I WANT everyone happy, but I have to prioritize:)  These meals were at the top of my list that morning.  I would of loved to been cooking and getting our coolers stocked up for customers to walk in...but we have limited space, so even with more staff...we can't handle much more than 5-6 in our kitchen without bumping into each other. lol.  I know me and my girls run smoothly enough now that we can pull off lunches like this and we need them.  If I want to stay in business, I need things like this.  We all work extremely hard, but we can look at each other and know what each other is needing and getting ready to do, because we work so closely together all day.  So I know as long as I watch the clock and keep things rolling, we can pull these lunches off...and we did...

But while we were doing these lunches were the customers walking in wondering why we didn't have our menu items for the day out yet by 11:00.:)  I am sorry, I want to make everyone happy, and you almost always can get something out of our coolers, it may not be exactly what you want, but there will be something:)  But I don't believe many people realize how extremely hard we are working back there to get this food all use us because it is good home-cooked food...that is why it is takes time to prepare...and we do a pretty efficient job getting a lot out there...but we can't snap our fingers and it be out there...and we don't pull frozen food out of a freezer somewhere for you all.  We cook it fresh, daily.  We hand shred our fresh cooked chicken daily...(I don't buy canned or chunked frozen chicken) you can taste it in the quality of our food.  I feel the need to say all this so everyone understands how hard we work to give you good quality food and we try to keep enough in the coolers...but this week with not a lot of help most of the week...We didn't have a lot extra.

  During the preparation of the lunches I had one very sweet customer come in and want Chicken Salad...I had chicken chopped and celery chopped and in the fridge, but hadn't had time to put it together yet...I was working on feeding the Harding Academy Football team right at that very moment, (I literally had my hands in their Spaghetti when he walked in) I had saw him at my early morning trip to Wal-Mart and he asked me if I wold be making it, I told him yes, when I got through the lunches...he said around 11? I said I would as soon as I got the lunches out.  :)  Well, he came in while I was working on the 3rd lunch of the morning, and chicken salad wasn't done.  He got a little irritated at me...and I was probably a little short with him and it has bothered me ever since...but I tried to tell him I hadn't got to do it was a 4.00 chicken salad...what am I going to focus on? Orders for the morning that will pay my grocery bill, or a 4.00 chicken salad?  I don't want to have to be that way...but I am posting this to maybe help our customers know and understand, I will bend over backwards to make you happy and take care of you....but I can only do so much.  As soon as I got the lunches out, I made the chicken salad:) I felt like I was being tested all week and had we had the help that we should of in the kitchen it would of ran much smoother.  We are working on hiring someone right now. 

Now, I told you the stresses and the "bads" of the week...but let me tell you the "goods" and how I know that even in weeks like this, I am where I need to be...I may not remember the days exactly, but I am going to tell you the things that you all, my customers have done for me lately to make me know that all this is worth the stess!  I do love you all! 

  I have a customer who hadn't been in in a while...his wife was ill when he became a customer last year, when he came in I said "I haven't seen you in a while"  He tells me his wife has died, and he was just now getting able to get out and do things...he starts to tell me about it and you could see the tears in his eyes and hear him choking up, his hand is on my counter, I just take my hand and place it on his and tell him he doesn't have to talk about it, it's ok...I have another very good, sweet, precious customer who is sitting in the chair in the front waiting on us to put a banana pudding together(again, one of those weeks, we usually have them out there) and she hears this...She gets up, comes over to my other customer and hugs him.  These two people don't know each other...they are just both my customers.  She comforts him and talks to him.  When he left we had all hugged:) As I am writing this my eyes have tears, because it's little things like this that make this job so much more than a job to me...You all are important to me, and if God can use me in some way by doing this to help people that's what I want.

 I have another very good customer that I have known for years.  She comes in to get food almost weekly.  Not for herself, but to help others.  She has a list of people in her church or friends that are going through something or having babies or whatever the reason...she works and she doesn't have time to cook for them, but she wants to take them a home-made meal.  She told me on Friday something that touched my heart more than she probably knows...She had a job offer in another town close to her home.  She said she made a list of pros and of the cons if she took the job was that she wouldn't have a place to come get food for people like she does with us.  I had to hug her neck when she told me that...because I needed to hear that on Friday after the week I had.:)

  I have another customer turned friend who came in one day this week to get a chicken salad (that darn chicken salad gets me in trouble:))  and I didn't have it all mixed together yet.  She came in to talk to me while I was mixing it up and also trying to cook a few other things:) and she asked could she help me, she realized we were so busy and trying to get things out.  She scrubbed in...and helped label dishes for us and get them out in the cooler for us.  Now I realize this may sound like a small thing, but it wasn't.  It helped me so much.  And it also shows me how much people really do care about us and what we are doing here.  I just gave her her chicken salad...and that is the way she is...last year at Christmas when I had no time to decorate a tree for Christmas because I was so busy filling orders...she went and picked out ornaments for the store for me...and decorated my tree.  She has been a blessing to me and I want her to know that:)

  I don't know if any of you read my blog a long time ago about Mr. Van 93 year old customer who used to come in every Wed. ...well, he is unable to drive now and has to depend on his daughters to bring him in if I am going to get to see him...He always brightens my day and I truly love him.  His daughter Nancy came in (this was last week) at the end of the day and her and I were having our usual long conversations about life...then we hear a horn blow...She says "oh, dad is in the car!" I couldn't believe we had been visiting while he was out in the car! So as she leaves, I go out with her to her car to see my precious Mr. Leon....I open the car door and lean in to give him a hug...I tell him that I am so sorry we talked so long, I didn't realize he was out there...and he kisses me on the cheek and says it is is worth it for him to get to see me.  :)  I hug him again, and we both tell each other we love each other...and we do...he has become someone so special to me..and I think I have to him too!  He was one of my very first customers and we just bonded.  He is the most precious man.  The store brought him in my life..that's another blessing there:)

  This lady I don't really know...she is a new customer who brought her two daughters in...I love kids.  Anyone who knows me knows I do.  The sweet ones:)  Even the mischevious ones:) but sweet little ones melt my heart!  And these two little girls were just melting it away! They were just talking and I was asking them questions and talking to them...and the oldest one just took to me...she was just telling me about her sister and her family and what food they liked...she was maybe 5?  I was just taken by this little girl she was so adorable...and they got ready to go...and she started to walk out with her momma, and she just turned around and ran back to me and gave me a hug like she had known me forever...she didn't know that she tugged at my heart...just sweet, precious, innocent....not holding anything back...wouldn't it be nice if we could all be that way?  Later her mom sent me a message on facebook thanking me for being so sweet to her girls...but how could you NOT be sweet to such precious kids?  Thank you" momma" for raising such good kids with good manners!

I had a customer who is such a kind hearted lady who I love to visit with when she comes in, come in on Friday and tell me that she didn't know why, but God layed it on her heart to bring me this pamphlet...It was about our words...and what they appropriate for me this week!:)  God put me on her heart for a reason because my words probably weren't as sweet all week as they should of been.  She said she knew I was a single mom, and she was too for years, and God had just put me on her heart that day....she blessed me and I thank God that my customers care enough about me to do little things like that.  That little act that she did for me, changed our relationship.  She went from friendly customer that I talk FRIEND.

  Then theres sweet little red-headed helper I miss so much! She started staying home with her kids back in the beginning of August, and while I am so happy she is able to do this, I miss her!  She came just for the day a week or two ago to help out and visit...I realized then how much I missed her..having her back in the kitchen with me:) She read on facebook about my week this week and she came by on Friday to check on me...of course I never really had time to talk to her and visit like I would of liked to...but her coming by to tell me she missed me and loved me meant so much to me!  Another person the store brought into my life and I truly love!  She helped me more than she so many ways.  She kept me straight.:)

 I am so thankful for all of you.  I may have an "off" week, which I had last week..but we will be fine:) It is all part of growing, trying to juggle, and make it all work.  I appreciate those of you who have been there since I opened my doors and have been so supportive of me...and I appreciate all the new cusomers who give us opportunity to feed your families.  I love what I do...I couldn't do it if I didn't! Especially last week:)
We will get in a groove again and I am praying this week runs smoother than last. It will, because I am going to make sure WE run smoother than last.:) 

This is more than a job to me.  This is in my heart.  I eat, sleep and breathe The Mixing Bowl.  I go home thinking about what so and so told me they want for dinner next week....I remember who is allergic to what...I do...I don't have to write it down...I remember, and if they call me...I can tell them if they can eat it or not...and they are shocked that I  Just want you all to know what you mean to me!  And if I am ever stressed and having a bad day and it shows and I seem grumpy...(like I probably did a lot last week) know I still appreciate you all so much!  That's one thing for sure I never want you all to question.  I know you can go somewhere else to get your food, and I appreciate the trust you put in us!


 I am pretty certain I am leaving out lot't of important stories that happened this past week or two...but when I get so busy and stressed my mind sometimes quits working....but I love getting to know you all.  I love that some of you are like family and close friends...I love that

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Menu for the week of August 29-Sept 2nd

Menu for the week of August 29-September 2nd.  We are catering a lot of meals this week so as you can see some of our menu items repeat themselves this week because that is what we have orders for.  As always, we will try to have more dishes than what is on the menu for you to choose from in our cooler.  We are always taking “special” orders and we make extraJ  We also usually have Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad made up for a light lunch or snack.

Monday:      *Chicken and Dumplin’s
                   *Poppy Seed Chicken
                   *Chicken Spaghetti
                   *Pork Roast With Vegetables

Tuesday:      * Fettuccine Alfredo with or without Chicken (just call early and let us know if you want the chicken left out)
                   *Poppy Seed Chicken    
                   *Chicken Spaghetti

Wednesday:  *Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
                   *Poppy Seed Chicken
                   *Cheesy Meaty Spaghetti

Thursday:    *Mexican Chicken
                   *Beef Fajitas (call early to order these)  We will make a limited number)

Friday:         *Classic Meaty Cheesy Lasagna
*Classic Meaty Cheesy Spaghetti
*Poppy Seed Chicken

We always have a variety of desserts to choose from in our cooler.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu For This Week

Menu for the week of July 25- 29

Monday: Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Taco Soup
Beefy Classic Spaghetti
Spinach and Chicken Lasagna

Tuesday:  Chicken Spaghetti
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday:  Poppy Seed Chicken
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Thursday: Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Friday: You Pick! (Choose from our dishes available in the cooler)

As always, we will have a few extras not included on the menu, so feel free to call and see what is cooking!

Don’t forget to try one of our signature desserts! Eagle Brand Banana Pudding and Heavenly Chocolate Mousse are offered daily.

Small casserole is 8.99 (feeds 2-3) Medium (feeds 4-6) 16.99 Large (feeds 8-10) $24.99

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weekly Menu

Menu for the week of July 11- July 15

Monday: Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Classic- Meaty, Cheesy Spaghetti

Tuesday:  Asian Chicken Salad (NEW!)
Texas Tortilla Bake

Wednesday:  Corn Bread Salad (NEW!)
Poppy Seed Chicken
Cheesy Chicken Noodle Bake

Thursday: Mexican Chicken

Friday: Chicken Spaghetti 

As always, we will have a few extras not included on the menu, so feel free to call and see what is cooking!

Don’t forget to try one of our signature desserts! Eagle Brand Banana Pudding and Heavenly Chocolate Mousse are offered daily.

Small casserole is 8.99 (feeds 2-3) Medium (feeds 4-6) 16.99 Large (feeds 8-10) $24.99

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekly Menu

Menu for the week of June 27- July 1

Monday: Poppy Seed Chicken
Chicken and Spinach Pasta in a creamy alfredo sauce.

Tuesday:  Chicken and Spinach Lasagna (with a cream sauce)
Classic 3 Cheese-Meaty Lasagna (in a red sauce)

Wednesday:  Poppy Seed Chicken
Mexican Lasagna Stack (NEW)

Thursday: Chicken Spaghetti (in a cream sauce)

Friday: Making Fourth Of July Sides and Desserts such as Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Chicken Salads, Pasta Salads, Corn Casseroles, Banana Pudding, Lemon Icebox Pies, Strawberry Pretzel Salads, plus more… 

As always, we will have a few extras not included on the menu, so feel free to call and see what is cooking!

Don’t forget to try one of our signature desserts! Eagle Brand Banana Pudding and Heavenly Chocolate Mousse are offered daily.

Small casserole is 8.99 (feeds 2-3) Medium (feeds 4-6) 16.99 Large (feeds 8-10) $24.99

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekly Menu

Menu for the week of June 20- 24

Monday: Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas and Poppy Seed Chicken

Tuesday:  Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

Wednesday:  Poppy Seed Chicken and Classic Lasagna

Thursday:  Smothered Pork Chops (served over rice and topped with French fried onions)

Friday:  Home-Made Chicken Pot Pie (topped with puff pastry)

**We now offer Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad and Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad as a daily menu item! These make an excellent lunch for those on the go or a delicious but lighter dinner option!**

As always, we will have a few extras not included on the menu, so feel free to call and see what is cooking!

Don’t forget to try one of our signature desserts! Eagle Brand Banana Pudding and Heavenly Chocolate Mousse are offered daily.

Small casserole is 8.99 (feeds 2-3) Medium (feeds 4-6) 16.99 Large (feeds 8-10) $24.99