High Five for Friday #13: Books, TVs, and Cheese Sauce

  High Five for Friday!  I can't believe it's Friday again!  With less on our family's calendar the week went by pretty slowly but now that it's over, I feel like it zoomed past.  You know the saying, "The days are long but the years are short"?  That's on my mind a lot this week and it seems to be reflected in what I chose for my Friday Five:

Sky graduated from Pre-K!
For some reason, this graduation feels huge to us.  Maybe it's because Sky is our first, or maybe it's because we know how much she had to overcome to get to something "normal" like this.  It's probably some of both along with the regular old joy that comes with seeing your child succeed at something, even if you never doubted they could do it.  We celebrated our big girl this week and are looking forward to her transition to Kindergarten in September.

D bought a flat screen TV
Does anyone else remember the post I wrote about buying a piano without talking to D about it first?  Well, let me just say that my slate is wiped clean as far as surprise purchases go.  D was trying to keep it a surprise but a friend who works at the base exchange accidentally told me about it.  We've had it up for two days and I'm still trying to get used to how different the picture looks.  Our last TV was a 15-year-old rear projection one so the change is like moving from a 10-person shared room at a hostel to the penthouse suite at the Hilton.  While I was pretty happy at the hostel (and it cost much less), I think I can get used to the Hilton.  We're going to have a family video game night (Little Big Planet and Mario Cart!) on the new TV tonight and I think that will help ease the transition.

I got angry that a book ended
D has always called me a bibliovore but these days I haven't been reading as much as I used to.  For some reason I'm having a hard time finding books that really interest me.  I miss being able to go to a bookstore or library and browse until I find just the right book (or 10).  These days, I'm limited to my old issues of BookMarks and the recommendations from friends and Amazon. 
Amazon came through for me last week when it recommended The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant.  I'd listened to The Red Tent as an audio book so I thought I would probably this one too.  I didn't just like it, I loved it.  I was genuinely upset when the book ended because of how much I enjoyed being immersed in the characters.  It's the story of a woman's life, told as she recounts it to her granddaughter, spanning most of the 20th century but focusing mainly on the early 1900's through the 20's.    If you're looking for something new to read, you should give this book a try.

D and I committed to a vacation this week.  We're going to Kosrae, an island in a nearby chain in the Federated States of Micronesia, for a week at the end of July.  We'll be swimming, kayaking, hiking, shopping, and just enjoying being someplace else.  Our family loves to be on the move and we're looking forward to a little bit of adventure before the next child comes home.

And finally, the cheese sauce I promised you in the post title.  Being able to make a cheese sauce from scratch is one of the best skills I have in my cooking arsenal, especially since we live someplace where ingredients can be scarce.  It only takes four ingredients (six if you include the salt and pepper) and tastes way better than anything rehydrated from a packet.  But wait, there's more!
The base of a homemade cheese sauce is a basic white sauce.  You can turn it into Alfredo sauce for pasta or pizza, into pepper gravy for fried chicken, or use to make your own chicken pot pie.  The basic recipe is below with notes on how to expand from there.  Please note: I say "to taste" a lot, and I mean it.  Some people like things saltier than others, some like more or less cheese or cheddar instead of Gouda.  Becoming a good cook takes practice so if you don't like how it comes out the first time, try again.  Eventually you'll know how much salt or cheese to put in based on how things taste.

  Basic White Sauce

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
Milk, half and half, or heavy cream (the more cream in the dairy, the richer the sauce will taste)

  Have all your ingredients and tools ready before you start.  In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  When it begins to bubble, add the flour and stir until it turns into a smooth paste.  Very slowly add the milk, half and half, or cream, stirring the whole time.  Use a whisk to stir in any lumps.  Add enough dairy to reach the desired amount of sauce and remember that it will thicken as it cooks.

For Alfredo sauce: add shredded Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to taste
For pepper gravy: add 1Tbsp of pepper or more and salt to taste
For sausage gravy: substitute sausage grease for butter and season with salt and pepper to taste
For chicken pot pie: season one and half cups of white sauce with 1 1/2 tsp dried rubbed thyme, salt, and pepper.  Mix in two cups of thawed frozen mixed vegetables and one cup of cooked, chopped chicken and pour into an uncooked pie shell.  Top with pie crust and bake at 425 for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown.
For cheese sauce: add cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. 

Do you have a favorite go-to in the kitchen?  Read any good books lately?  Are you making any summer plans?

See where I'm linking up here


  1. Forgot to mention that I am in the middle of "Girl on the Train" and it is very engaging. Thanks for the recommendation on "the Boston girl." You are the 2nd person to recommend it to me!

    1. I loved Girl on the Train- I couldn't put it down! I hope you like Boston Girl. I also raced through The Color of Secrets and loved that too.

  2. Lost my first comment in cyberspace but congrats on your first pre K graduation, vacation coming up and a new TV.


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