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Can’t beat a summer trip to the creek.

WHEN WE THOUGHT WE WERE BUSY…

Can’t beat a summer trip to the creek.

Can’t beat a summer trip to the creek.

By Adam & Kristin Kleinert

Summertime is almost here. We Kleinerts are anxious to close out the semester, and everyone in the household is looking forward to a few mornings of sleeping past 6 a.m. Sitting at the dinner table together recently, one of the kids mentioned how quickly the break seems to go. The others all agreed and seemed concerned about getting in some fun and relaxation before they have to head back to school in August.

“We should plan for this summer to be more like when we thought we were busy.”

You see, when the kids were little, our summers seemed packed. We remember going to bed exhausted every night after chock-full days of activity. Yet, until now, we haven’t really examined how we used to spend the time back then as compared to how we’ve done it during more recent breaks. And after reflecting a bit, we’ve learned our game plan for the next few months needs to take a lesson from our younger selves. This year, we plan to enjoy our summer together by slowing it down…at least a little bit.

When it comes to managing family schedules, busy creeps up on you. One moment you agree to allow your kiddo to play a couple of all-star baseball games at the end of his or her regular season. Next you find yourself shuttling that kid to practice four nights a week through the entire month of June and then playing in several tournaments in July, often traveling out of town and engulfing multiple, full weekends. Add in academic enrichment classes, open gyms and league practices and suddenly, the family calendar begins to look very similar to the regular school year. It’s a slippery slope because the opportunities offered are positive experiences for the kids. The vast majority are things the kids want to do and some are even obligations. The point is, positive experiences or not, it all adds up and before you know it, summertime has disappeared. This description is nearly identical to the format of our most recent summers and, in the interest of making a change, we’ve decided to aim a little lower this year.

It’s kind of a perfect year to make the shift. By some fortuitous twist of fate, there are no required varsity sports practices this time, no significant league play we have to attend, and we’ve chosen to forgo all-star baseball participation this season. Already it’s looking promising.

Now, we aren’t entertaining fantasies of long hours spent laying in the hammock drinking iced tea and lemonade. Not only are those delusions unrealistic when it comes to our high-energy crew, they’re not at all what the kids were referring to when they mentioned the summers we used to enjoy. Those months of yesterday were as busy as ever. The difference lays in the activities in which we occupied the largest chunks of our time in summers past and, even more significantly, the sense of obligation we lacked in those years.

We won’t be lounging by any means; rather, we’ll fill our days to the brim. But we’ll fill them with very few scheduled activities and lots of flexible fun. Creek visits, dips in the lake, evening fishing sessions and trips to friends’ pools will top our to-do lists. We’ll enjoy easy summer meals together and eat them outside any chance we get. We’ll attend vacation Bible school, wash the cars in the driveway, stain the front porch as a group and stay outside way past dark while the kids run around with their friends in the yard.

Reality will take over now and then, of course, and we’ll have to go to dentist appointments and fit in well-child visits at the pediatrician. There’ll still be work for Dad and Mom and chores for all. Eli will want to go to open gym some nights, and Syd will need to hit the driving range when she can. But for the most part, we feel like this summer is an opportunity to make strides toward being the kind of “busy we used to be” and we’re looking forward to the adjustment.


WHAT’S ON OUR AGENDA THIS SUMMER?

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-12-59-01-pmBRAHM, 8: “I’M GONNA DIG SOME WORMS AND GO FISHING AND I’M GONNA PLAY IN THE CREEK. I’M GONNA PLAY TRUCKS IN THE DIRT AND THEN GO SWIMMING IN THE LAKE AND I’M GONNA SLEEP IN MY TENT. WE SHOULD GO CAMPING, TOO.”


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-12-59-14-pmMOLLY, 10: “I WANT TO SWIM! AND I WANT TO MAKE CRAFTS, VISIT MAMAW AND PAPAW, AND HAVE MOVIE NIGHTS WITH POPCORN AND ROOT BEER FLOATS. OH, AND GO OUT FOR ICE CREAM! AND I’M GOING TO SLEEP IN, LIKE, A LOT.”


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-12-59-22-pmELI, 13: “I WANT TO SWIM IN THE LAKE, DO FLIPS OFF OF THE HIGH DIVE AND GO TUBING. I WANT TO HAVE FRIENDS OVER FOR COOKOUTS AND PLAY BASKETBALL OUTSIDE UNTIL IT’S REALLY, REALLY LATE. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY PARTY!”


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-12-59-30-pmSYDNEY, 15: “I’VE GOT SOME BABYSITTING JOBS LINED UP, AND I’M EXCITED TO MAKE A LITTLE MONEY DOING THAT. I WANT TO SLEEP IN SOME MORNINGS, WORK ON MY GOLF GAME, AND SPEND TIME AT THE LAKE AND THE POOL.”


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-12-59-53-pmKRISTIN (MOM): “I’D LOVE TO TAKE THE KIDS SWIMMING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND FINISH A FEW SMALL PROJECTS AT THE HOUSE AS WELL. I PLAN TO EXERCISE WITH ADAM AT LEAST THREE TIMES A WEEK AND DO SOMETHING ACTIVE WITH THE KIDS ON DAYS I DON’T. A WEEKEND OF CAMPING WOULDN’T HURT MY FEELINGS EITHER. OH, AND MAYBE WE CAN GET OUT THE OLD CROQUET SET AND HAVE SOME HEALTHY COMPETITION IN THE FRONT YARD!”


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-1-00-00-pmADAM (DAD): “I DON’T KNOW WHAT EXACTLY WE’LL DO THIS SUMMER AND THAT IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. TO GO INTO EACH DAY WITHOUT ANY AGENDA OR SCHEDULE (BESIDES WORK) SOUNDS AMAZING. RAIN OR SHINE, AS LONG AS WE ARE TOGETHER, IT’S GOING TO BE A GREAT SUMMER!”

Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wrap

Instant Cooking: A Blessing for Our Busy Kitchen

By Adam & Kristin Kleinert

Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wrap

Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wrap

If you’ve read our column before in the now-tabled Extol Sports (Extol Magazine’s sister publication), you’ve probably heard about our enthusiasm for our Instant Cooker. It’s worked its way into our dynamic and is quickly becoming a dear family member. This month, we wanted to share a handful of our go- to recipes.

    While handy in a multitude of ways, the Instant Pot is a game-changer for our household due to the sheer amount of time it saves us. In the past, crockpot meals have been a staple, but the Instant Cooker allows for almost zero advanced planning. We can throw something in at 4 or 5 p.m. and enjoy a dish that would previously have needed to cook all day long. Even frozen foods can be ready (and delicious) in less than half an hour. Overall, this handy gadget is one more way to save precious amounts of time and, for our crew, that’s always a blessing.

PORK CARNITAS (SHREDDED PORK LOIN)

We do two of these loins at once and store the leftovers in the fridge for a day or two to eat in tons of ways: lettuce wraps, tacos, sandwiches, over salads. It’s lean, flavorful protein that our whole family loves…and it’s FAST.

RECIPE FOR ONE LOIN:

(again, we just double this and do two):

RUB:

    2 lbs boneless pork loin, cubed

    1 1/2 T Olive Oil

    1 t salt

    1 t ground chipotle chili pepper

    1/2 t black pepper

Cooking Juice:

    1 cup orange juice

    1/3 cup lime juice

    2 t dried oregano

    1 1/2 t cinnamon

    4 garlic cloves, minced

    1 onion, peeled and quartered

   Mix rub ingredients and rub cubed meat into it. If you have time and want let this sit, it’s extra yummy, but not a must. Turn Instant Pot to the saute mode and drizzle a bit of olive oil into pot. Add the rubbed meat, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add the juice to the pot and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure: 17 minutes for one loin, 23 for two loins. Quick release the pressure and shred the meat. (Use a whisk or a potato masher for this). Enjoy!


Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

So it’s more of a splurge than a healthy, family recipe, but it’s a favorite comfort food at our house and we’ve found it soothes the soul after a busy week. Besides, who can resist trying it out when it cooks together, in one pot, in just 25 minutes.

Recipe:

    1 lb ground beef

    1 lb ground sausage

    1 small onion, chopped small

    1 egg, beaten

    3/4 cup bread crumbs

    Splash of worcestershire sauce

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp pepper

    1/4 tsp cajun spice, old bay, or italian seasoning

    (your preference!)

    *3 or 4 strips of microwavable bacon, if desired

For Topping

    1 cup ketchup

    1 1/2 tsp brown sugar

    1 tsp hot sauce

For Potatoes

    3 1/2 to 4 lbs of potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered

    1 1/4 cups of chicken broth (butter, milk, broth…

    whatever you like to add to mashed potatoes)

Layer the cut potatoes in the bottom of the instant pot and pour the broth over top. Lay the rack that came with the cooker on top of the potatoes so that it lays pretty flat. Combine meatloaf ingredients (minus topping ingredients) and shape into a rounded loaf. Place on a piece of tinfoil, large enough to shape the sides up as if meatloaf is in a pocket. *If you are using bacon, lay strips over top of loaf. Place on top of rack and secure lid. With the steam release closed, use manual mode on high pressure and set for 23 minutes. When finished, quick release steam.

Lift meatloaf out of cooker and place on a baking sheet. Mix topping ingredients, spread over top and place under broiler for 3-4 minutes, until topping is caramelized.

Meanwhile, add your desired ingredients to the potatoes (we use a heaping spoonful of butter, a little chicken broth and some salt and pepper) and mash until smooth.

Serve sliced meatloaf together with potatoes. Enjoy!


Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

Weeknight Chicken

    Like the pork, this chicken is so versatile that it’s an invaluable staple in our meal cycle. Here’s the kicker (and thus, the beauty of an Instant Cooker): It’s a bag of frozen chicken. And it’s ready to serve or add to another recipe in less than half an hour!

Recipe:

    1 bag of frozen chicken breasts

    (about 3 lbs)

    1 can of salsa verde, OR 1 jar of

    any Asian sauce or chicken broth

    and spices of your choice

   Mix rub ingredients and rub cubed meat into it. If you have time and want let this sit, it’s extra yummy, but not a must. Turn Instant Pot to the saute mode and drizzle a bit of olive oil into pot. Add the rubbed meat, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add the juice to the pot and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure: 17 minutes for one loin, 23 for two loins. Quick release the pressure and shred the meat. (Use a whisk or a potato masher for this). Enjoy!


Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard Boiled Eggs

FAST Hard-Boiled Eggs

Quick, wholesome sources of protein are key for our busy tribe and the Instant Pot delivers perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs with amazing efficiency. It’s so easy our kids can do it themselves. We cook a batch in record time and have go-to snacks on hand for several days. Bonus: this method causes the shells to slide off so easily!

5-5-5 Recipe:

    8 to 12 fresh eggs (a friend swears she

    does 18 at a time but we’ve never tried

    more than a dozen at once)

    1 cup water

   Using the rack that came with the Instant Pot, sit the eggs gently inside on the rack. Pour in one cup water and slide lid into place. Set to high pressure for just 5 minutes. Natural pressure release (which just means to leave them alone) for 5 minutes, then release rest of steam and put eggs into an ice bath for 5 minutes. Enjoy!(Use a whisk or a potato masher for this). Enjoy!