Jan 012006

Cookin’ at the Keyboard with Shelley

Big Rocks

ShelleySo, how are the resolutions coming? Being a “goal-setting” kind of girl, New Year’s Resolutions are right up my alley. Unfortunately, by the end of January, my resolve is running low. But the following illustration helps me regain my focus.

“An expert in time management was addressing a class of business students. To illustrate his point, he pulled out a one gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table. He then proceeded to fill it with fist-sized rocks. When no more rocks would fit into the jar, he asked the class, ‘Is the jar full?’ The class, somewhat uncertain, nodded their heads ‘Yes.’

From under the table the man pulled out a bucket of gravel and poured it into the jar. He shook it into the open spaces between the big rocks and asked once more, ‘Is the jar full?’ Hesitantly, one young man responded, ‘Probably not.’

Again reaching under the table, the man brought out a bucket of sand. As he dumped it into the jar, everyone watched the sand trickle into the empty spaces. Once more he asked the question, ‘Is the jar full?’ Noticing the pattern, the class responded together, ‘No!’

Grabbing a pitcher of water, the expert poured the water into the jar until it was filled to the brim. Looking at the class with a smile on his face, he asked, ‘What is the point of my illustration?’ After some thought, one student offered, ‘The point is: No matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit more things into it, if you really try!’ Smiling, the teacher replied, ‘No. The point is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.'”

Like the Mason jar, every day will be filled with things of relative importance: rocks, gravel, sand, and water. So dust off those resolutions that have been covered up by a month’s worth of activities and distractions. Take a moment to contemplate the list, and then pick the most important one. See your goal as a big rock in your “Mason-jar day” and drop it in…before it’s too late. Remember: “If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

Valentine Treats

My husband and I put two coupons in the Valentine cards to our daughters. One is good for “A Date with Mom”, and the second can be redeemed for “A Date with Dad”. The dates aren’t expensive; with five daughters, that equates to ten separate outings in the next month! I usually go to Starbuck’s for a long talk over hot chocolate. Last year, I was buying cards and printing coupons the night before Valentine’s Day. This year, the cards and coupons have been classified as Big Rocks for next week. If you’re planning ahead for Valentine’s Day, here’s a couple of recipes to put in the freezer so you’re ready for the big event.

Snickers-BarsFrozen Candy Bars

These bars have a butterscotch flavor that adds a twist to the traditional candy bar taste. Make them, freeze them, and serve them chilled. Yum!



Banana-Coconut-LoafBanana Coconut Loaf

I made this bread at Christmas, but it works for Valentine’s as well. The cherries, coconut, and almond flavor are a unique combination. Delicious!


Software Suggestions

Before You Shop

The Advantage Cooking software is such a great tool! When it comes to planning a cooking day, I hardly have to think anymore. It takes only minutes to create a new “Cooking Day” and select the recipes I want to prepare. With one click of the mouse, the Grocery Report is printed and I’m on my way to the store. Before grabbing my keys, there are three things that I always remember to do:

  • Print a Container Report. While the Grocery Report is a list of the food items needed to cook, the Container Report is a list of the storage items needed to freeze. Containers can be a variety of things, such as freezer bags, rigid containers, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or cupcake liners. If I come home without enough of these important items, I either have to improvise, or make another trip to the store (both of which can be frustrating and time consuming!)

  • Detour through the kitchen. I’m always anxious to get in the car, but a few minutes spent here saves me money at the checkout. I do a quick inventory of the cupboards and pantry, eliminating the items on the Grocery Report (and Container Report) that are already in the kitchen. No need to come home with double and have to store it until next time.

  • Consider the staples. I can’t count the number of times I’ve finished a cooking session, only to discover that we’re out of butter, or milk, or flour, or something! I was just at the store and I’m not in the mood to go back. I’ve tried two different methods to avoid this event, and they both work equally well. First, manually write in the staples your family can’t live without. The second option is to create a recipe called “Household Staples” and add it to the Cooking Day. My recipe contains things like butter, milk, flour, bread, peanut butter, lettuce, bananas, and apples.

By using the software, I find myself conquering the aisles at the grocery store before it’s necessary to look at the recipes I’m cooking. Adding a few practical steps, in the right order, gives me an even greater “Advantage!”

  Download a trial version of the software! It’s free!

 Closing Comments from Shelley

I received this email last month from another 30 Day Gourmet cook:

Hey Shelley! I wanted to tell you your last News helped me out! I was putting my Thanksgiving shopping list together, and realized I only had one of my recipes in the software. I’m not sure how that happened, but I was in a hurry, and moaned about how long it would take me to put all the recipes in there. Then I remembered what you said about adding it quick and pulled up the News to see what you said to do. So, I added my recipe name and the ingredients and I was good to go in a short time. Once again, Shelley to the rescue with another great idea!!

Read the “Fast and Furious” software tip!

Until we talk again next month, make those Big Rocks a priority before the opportunity disappears! You’ll be glad you did.



Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.