Tuesday, June 29, 2010

sick, sick, and then revived

I was ill last week. Thursday and Friday were a complete wash. I started to rally from my cold on Saturday and so I managed to accomplish something. Sick is not fun. I don’t do sick. I have a hard time staying put. And when I stay home (like you do when you are an invalid), I just see the sink full of dishes and the pile of laundry that needs to be folded and so I usually give up and clean the house first so I can rest. Of course then it just gets messed up again, but I like to start from a certain baseline of filth.

As to the weekend…

I have been craving Kolaches for a while now and thought I would make some. These are good, but not quite in line with my sense memory (first of all, the sausage should be on the inside like some kind of ground beast surprise), but they were good. However, husband and older daughter apparently do not believe that any kind of meat in casing should be served to them in the vehicle of bread. They ate the sausage and left the rolls. I was furious. I made yeast bread for pete’s sake. It took time and kneading and time and love and time. And they don’t care. Ugh. Children and husbands rarely cooperate in the way you hoped and imagined.

I also tried another granola bar recipe. It was ok and the hubz actually inhaled the entire batch in one sitting and just left behind a crumbly mess for me to sprinkle on my yogurt, but I like the other ones better. I have a few more recipes I would like to try. Oh, and I didn’t grind up my oatmeal (cuz who wants to get out the food processor for that) and I kind of split up the oatmeal between Cheerios and oatmeal and squished them up some with my hands. And I added coconut and chocolate chips and dried cherries. I almost never go by the recipe 100%. The creativity is half the fun.I got some time to sew again. I am so enjoying doing it. And I really thought I had come to hate sewing and probably would not do it again until I was pressed into creating a giant flower costume or an octopus costume or something when the girls begin their elementary school acting careers. But it is a blast again. Note the kicky hem. I am also enjoying the fancy stitches on my machine. (Please ignore the hair- invalids sew, they do not brush hair)

On Sunday I was in charge of painting the windows for our Vacation Bible School. I had tons of help (don’t get me wrong), but I drew the picture and I am kind of proud of the results. We are having a rainforest theme. Too bad you can’t really see the monkey.

Have a wonderful week and if I don’t speak to you before then…HAPPY JULY 4th!!! God Bless America. I might complain sometimes, but we are so very lucky to have been born in a place where we don’t have to worry where we will get clean water or that bombs will crash down upon our heads when we are going to the grocery store….and that we have grocery stores with actual food in them.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The first harvest

I am thrilled to announce that our corn plant is with child. We have a baby corn just growing away. I am giddy with anticipation (how well does one ear of corn split 4 ways?).
And we reaped the first harvest from our garden this week. I should say “harvest”. It was two cherry tomatoes (one for Miss Z and one for me and the hubz to share) and one jalepeno. But still, that is more than I have ever gotten from a vegetable garden I planted, so I am darn excited. You can see here that Miss Z is both a proud farmer and an enthusiastic eater of the “harvest”.

I haven’t decided how I will use my pepper yet. Miss Z thought I should just eat it on the spot, but I plan to savor it in something delicious. Hopefully it will soon have friends, but I ain’t taking any chances. Gotta make this one count!

I also sewed a new dress this weekend. I am back into sewing after a long vacation. I decided I hated it for a while, but now it seems like endless fun to me. I made the pattern for this dress myself from another of my dresses that I love. I was drawn to this chicken fabric because it says little chicken terms of endearment in French. I could not resist.

I call it the chicken dress.
Note the detail on the neckline (thanks complicated sewing machine!). Note the cute daughter who wanted to be in the above picture too.

And here is one more picture of cute daughter because she is CUTE!

Baking frenzy:
Oh! I went for a redo on last week’s granola bars. Much better this time. I still did half ricespy crispies (as Z calls them) and half oatmeal, but they came out yummy. Oh and mine have a mess of coconut in them too.

Tiny cute daughter doesn’t eat (as mentioned before). So I continue to try new tricks to get some kind of nutrition in her body. This week we have…BLACK BEAN COOKIES. You read that correctly. They basically turned out to be chocolate cookies that aren’t very sweet, but she ate three yesterday and I am assuming the combo of beans and whole wheat flour constituted a whole protein in some way

And I decided to try pizza in the 5 qt. chicken fryer. I found a super quick recipe for pizza crust(and I was so indulgent that I even used all white flour- but I think next time I will do half and half). I couldn’t really spread out the crust enough which made for an unusual and very 3-dimensional pizza crust. I will try the crust again, but I just think the fryer isn’t large enough to make a pizza in.
Also thought I would try to make homemade fruit and cereal bars. My kids call them Nadou bars after their grandma. You see, in any hunger emergency, you can depend on my mother-in-law to have a fruit and cereal bar in her purse (smashed flatter than a crepe [she is French after all, so it is more wafer thin than a pancake]). To our Nadou, a few bottles of water and some cereal bars will get you through any disaster (natural or otherwise). However, those bars contain all sorts of unnecessary goop. So I made some. They are really good. And by the way, I did not have wheat germ, so I crumbled up some bran flakes. And I used cherry jelly and applesauce for the inside goo. Tastes good to me.

Have a good week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

little baby sloppy joes

So I had been promising Miss Z that we would make thumb print cookies. What could be more fun than sticking your fingers in dough? Miss Z, ever ready for a culinary project jumped right in. She was very adamant that I take a particular picture of her doing the cooking. You can see my several tries here. She was quite exasperated that Mommy just couldn’t get it right. The one where she is squishing down the dough in the glass dish is a technique she refers to as "flatting the dough".

But the cookies turned out awesome. We got more creative than adding your standard jelly to our thumbprints. We did some jelly, but also apples sauce, peanut butter, chocolate chips and my personal favorite (Miss Z's genius idea) of marshmallow and chocolate (not seen in this photo).
I also got around to using the mini burger buns last night. They were great- soft, but dense enough that they did not fall apart on us while we were slurping up our delicious vegetarian sloppy joes. I have to just type in the recipe that I printed out because I can’t find the link. Whoever you are out there in internet land, sorry I can’t remember where I found you. Your buns are delicious (get your mind out of the gutter).

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

1 cup+ 3 tblsp warm water
1/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup sugar or honey
2 tablespoons yeast (I used two packets)
1 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour

Combine the water, yeast, oil and sweet stuff and let rest for 15 minutes.
Add the salt, egg and flour to the yeast mixture and mix well.
Roll out the dough ¾ in. thick and cut into rounds
Place rolls on cookie lightly greased cooking sheet ( I always use parchment paper instead)
Bake at 400-425 for 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake or they will be too dry.
I also took my first stab a using dehydrated TVP for this recipe. For those of you who are unfamiliar, TVP is textured vegetable protein. If you have eaten any of those commercially produced “fake meat” products that are out there like veggie burgers and faux chicken nuggets, then you have probably eaten TVP. I got it as a bag of granules that had to be rehydrated. After much internet research, I cobbled together an idea of how I was going to do it. This is a mish mash of me and the sloppy joe recipe from Heavenly Homemakers (forgive my lack of measurements. I am very much an eyeball it cook).

1 onion
2 cups dehydrated TVP granules (or you could substitute 2 pds of ground beast)
2 cups water (you won’t need the water if you are using beast)
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Chili powder
Olive oil
I put the tvp in a skillet with the diced onion, some garlic powder and some olive oil and sautéed until the onions were getting soft and the tvp started to brown. Then I little by little added the water. It may have ended up a bit less than two cups because I just added until I got the texture I wanted.
Then I added the rest of the ingredients, including a little bit of extra garlic powder and stirred it up till heated through.
I didn’t find I needed any salt because the Worcestershire sauce and the ketchup are pretty salty already.

Then I spooned it onto the split buns and slurped it up. I didn’t tell hubby it was fake meat and he didn’t seem to care (To be perfectly honest, he has become accustomed to my sneaky meat swaps. I was a vegetarian off and on for many years and I still don’t really like to cook or eat much meat).

Yummy, yummy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's over

So this weekend I happily set about to improve upon the merely so-so corndog cupcakes I made a few weeks ago. This time (due to the acquisition of the 5 qt. chicken fryer) I made corndog pie. Miss Z delighted in cutting up the hot dogs and adding them to the batter. As you can see from the photographs, the pie was lovely to behold. And here begins our problem. Oldest daughter and hubby (no matter how pretty it turns out or how much fun it was to make) don’t like cornbread. After two meals of watching daughter and husband pick the hot dog bits and leave behind a giant pile of cornbread, I decided it was time to give up. Owing to a desire for frugality (and you know you are cheap when you will do something like this) I picked all of the hotdogs out of the other half of the pie (couldn’t bear to waste them) and crumbled up the rest of the cornbread for the dog. I am not giving up on cornbread. I will find a recipe they like and I assume that will require the addition of copious amounts of sugar or some other sweet substance. But unfortunately, this will be the last mention of corndog confections on the old blog. Sigh (insert a single tear here if you wish).
I also made a couple of new quick bread recipes. You might have noticed I am a bit obsessed with quick bread of late. I do enjoy baking yeast bread, but the time it takes to wait for the dough to rise is often prohibitive to the actual eating of it. So I like quick bread.

This recipe for whole wheat quick bread has got the husband to saying it is his favorite so far. It has a texture that is the most like store bought, soft sandwich loaves. I think that is why he likes it. I used molasses instead of honey in the recipe, but it is super easy.

Tip: By the way, whenever I bake bread, in addition to greasing the pan, I always add a piece of parchment at the bottom of the pan. This ensures that I will be able to get the loaf out in one piece.

What follows is not a hedgehog or a porcupine. It is a loaf of bread. Miss Z says it is spiky bread.

Tastes good but is a bit crumbly to make truly successful toast without at least a little cursing.

I also made little baby hamburger buns for sloppy joes later this week. Miss Tiny gobbled them and she doesn’t eat anything, so I take that as a good sign. Mostly I made the tiny ones because I couldn’t find anything that was regular bun sized to use as a cutter. Will let you know how well they worked.


And this is one of those concoctions that makes me realize recipes exist for a reason. I took this recipe for chewy granola bars and changed everything. I used puffed millet and rice crispies combined with the oatmeal and sugar instead of honey cuz I didn’t have enough and I just switched too much around. I had to add water after they had baked a little because they obviously weren’t going to stick together and then they came out pretty crumbly anyway. I like them, but the hubz described them as “too earthy” and the kids won’t touch them. So next time I will go by the recipe, but I still believe in taking chances.

Here is a picture of me and Z. I made this dress myself. I started it over a year ago and never had time to finish. On Saturday, I forced the hubz into full duty as the caregiver and whipped out the rest so I could wear it for a dinner out with friends. I think it turned out great. It is a vintage pattern. Not a reproduction of a vintage pattern but the real deal. I kind of look like I am wearing a giant apron, but I still like it.

And here is a picture of my girls sleeping. My sister makes fun of me for taking so many pictures of them asleep, but they are so cute. Don’t they look like they just love each other? They do love each other, but the awake kind of love involves a lot of hair pulling and screaming. This is peaceful, quiet sister love.

Have a good week.

p.s. The continued sabbath observance (aka- day of rest) experiment was a dismal failure this week. Will try again next week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Games for Smart People

I did the New York Times crossword puzzle! It took me three days (just getting to it when I could). Apparently they get harder as the week progresses and I chose a Wednesday puzzle (figured medium difficulty was best). I have a way that I do crossword puzzles. The Casie Tabanou technique:

Go through and answer all of the ones you don’t even have to think about
Then go back and see if that made any of the other ones easy to figure out
Then go back and try to think of the answers left, but don’t get a tumor over it or anything.
Then go back again and see if this made any of the others easy to figure out
Then go back one more time if you added anything else it
Then, when you can think of nothing else without inciting said tumor into existence…CHEAT

I don’t like to cheat. I get no thrill or satisfaction from just being given the answer. I enjoy figuring things out. So I try to search for things in a way that will still make me have to think instead of just going to a crossword clue site. Sometimes there is no choice but to go to a clue site in the end, but I try. Then I return to the go back one more time and see if it made something possible to figure out blah blah blah. I like to think of my cheating as learning moments. Let’s call it enrichment instead.

I started the puzzle in pen (not out of any hubris towards the gods of puzzledom…it was just handy) then very quickly sought out a pencil.

It was fun and now I want to do another. Here are my bits of “enrichment” (or the stuff I cheated on). Despite the length of the list, I really did a lot of the puzzle myself.

1.) Robert Mithchum is the star of the 1955 movie “The Night of the Hunter”
2.) The Feast of Trumpets could refer to the trumpet that will signal the coming of Jesus Christ or it can be a little celebrated Christian holiday akin to the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana.
3.) Nona Hendryx was in the group Labelle
4.) Elsa was the name of Albert Einstein’s 2nd wife
5.)Literary olios could be anas (in my family oleo [notice the difference in spelling] was what my memal called margarine, but apparently it is also a word for a mishmash, potpourri or hodgepodge. I still can’t figure out what an ana is, but oh well…)
6.)A croupier is a person who takes money or bets at a gambling table
7.)Apparently a “Norwegian wood instrument” refers to a Beatles song and someone played the Sitar
8.)Hors de Combat, literally meaning "outside the fight," is a French term used in diplomacy and international law to refer to soldiers who are incapable of performing their military function. Examples include a downed fighter pilot, as well as the sick, wounded, detained, or otherwise disabled. Soldiers hors de combat are normally granted special protections according to the laws of war, sometimes including prisoner of war status.
9.)L-dopa is a treatment for Parkinson’s disease
10.)The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency
11.)A-Rod is a Dominican-American Major League slugger
12.)OED is a multi-volume ref.- it stands for the Oxford English Dictionary (by the way, this one was way outside of the way I think. I feel like this is one of those things that come up on crossword puzzles a lot that you really only know if you do crossword puzzles)
13.)An ern is a coastal bird (I figured this out when I was trying to find out if an emu was a coastal bird- the only three letter bird I knew that starts with E)
14.)Apparently a set shot is the “jumper alternative” I guess they meant a jump shot. I try to think outside the box, but this one got me for sure. I am not sports minded at all.
15.) Now this one just doesn’t make sense. The clue was: D-back, for one. The answer after giving up and going to a crossword clues site is: NLER. But even that site said, “ NLER is a crossword puzzle answer that we have spotted 55 times. There are no related answers. Try defining NLER with Google.” Google said, “No definitions were found for NLER” But upon further inspection, I found out that it is an abbreviation for a National Leaguer. Basically, a baseball player. I sort of figured out the D-back could mean a Diamond Back, but I never would have figured out the nler thing.
16.)Tris Speaker is a major league baseball player from the 1930’s who was inducted into the baseball hall of fame in 1999.
17.)A Yawp is a harsh cry. I knew this word and I just couldn’t think of it.
18.)FTD is the flower people (abbreviated)
19.)IMAC is an Apple variety (this is what happens when you don’t think outside of the box)
20.)Delta is an American rival (also what happens when you don’t think outside of the box)
21.)An acer is any of a variety of trees with winged fruit, but I still don’t know why that goes with the clue, “Super Server”

So there you go. Now I am one cossword puzzle smarter than I was before.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Good Southern Daughter

So this weekend was nice.

Friday night we had leftover curried peas that I had made a while back (that is a recipe for another day) and I made some whole wheat chapatis (got it from the Prudent Homemaker website). These things are literally just flour, water and salt, but GOOD. the hubz has decided that since I have been on the homemade bread kick, that this is his favorite thing so far. I was afraid his stomach might swell and explode once any liquid hit cuz he ate so many, but he survived.

Then on Saturday I decided to make the baking frenzy a little easier by giving the young un’s their own cooking project. I handed Z a bowl, some water, flour and a spoon and told her to make whatever she wanted.

This is her cooking on top of the diaper genie. As the chief health inspector in our house, I decided to look the other way just this once (don’t worry, no one eats the “project”).

And what did the kiddies decide to make us? Meatballs. Yes, that’s right. A bucket of rocks slathered in a paste made of flour and water. What could be more appetizing? The best part is that after the rocks are done, you can spend the rest of the day cursing your free-spirited momminess while you scrape dough paste off everything in the house and your children. But it was a lot of fun to watch them filled with glee at the mess.

Actually, Miss Tiny spent most of her time standing by the dryer vent and being amazed and amused at the air coming out. Childhood was such bliss. Remember when hot air was fascinating?

As to the baking frenzy…

There were many of the usual suspects. But I also made some nummy yummy chocolate cookies.

These turned out well, but I have just learned that 8oz of chocolate chips and one cup of chocolate chips do not the same volume create. I had to add some flour to make my dough less of a runny mess. They were really decadent at first, but as the week progressed, they kind of hardened on me. I like to have cookies for the week, so I may need to look for another recipe. Oh, and I did ½ choc chips and ½ white chips to mix it up. You can’t really tell from the picture.

I got my cast iron skillet this week. It was my housewarming gift from my dad. I feel like I got a new Corvette. Ain’t she sweet? I nearly got a hernia lifting the box and trying to get it up on the stove, but it is awesome. A 5qt. chicken fryer. I haven’t fried any chicken in quite a while, but I have been hankerin’ to make some cornbread.

Here is the result. Whole wheat cornbread. I literally ate half of this by myself in one day. Apparently the hubz doesn’t particularly care for cornbread. Unfortunately for him, I have a 5 qt. cast iron chicken fryer in my possession and I don’t anticipate the cornbread will stop any time soon.

I also made a pot of black-eyed peas so that we could have peas, collard greens and cornbread for lunch after church on Sunday. Am I a good southern gal or what (just ignore the fact that there is no bacon in any of the above…the good southern gal wants to live to see 100- some concessions must be made)?

Just in case you were wondering how cool my kids are…

They are to cool for you, your school, most of Hollywood and maybe even ice itself.

Miss Z came up with her own outfit. I think it is sort of Liza Manelli meets Moby. Note the ruffled tights for pants and the headphones as a belt. She rocks it. Miss Tiny of course is sporting the pacifier and flour paste tattoo look.

On Saturday night we got to see some friends that we don’t get to see much. It was relaxing and lovely. Unfortunately one of the friends was taking this picture. Just imagine him. He is perfectly handsome and cooked us a great dinner of hot dogs and fajitas.
On Sunday I also began my one month experiment of observing Sunday as a day of rest. I have a hard time sitting still and I think God gave us one day off for a reason. I am trying it. Took a nap (a miracle) and forced myself to stare at the pile of unfolded laundry and not do anything with it. Now I am behind, but a little better rested.

More soon…


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life as it is

This is the real me. Tired and trying to get my ridiculously slow computer to work. Wearing my daughter's bow to keep my bangs out of my face. Mascara long since gone south of my eyes and onto my cheeks for the winter. Z took this when I wasn't paying attention. She has a way of capturing things. The eyes of a child see the truth.

But I do clean up nicely. The hubz and I had a record release party to attend on Friday night. It was at this amazing retro club (www.clubcicada.com) where vintage dress is encouraged. I NEVER miss an opportunity to don a costume. I think we are a smashing couple (please ignore all the crap behind the smashing couple).

Then on Saturday I commenced the baking frenzy. The only new additions were these oatmeal cookies. They are apparently Jim Bob Duggars favorite cookie. I am totally obsessed with the Duggars. While I may not share all of their beliefs, I choose to believe that they are as precious as they seem on t.v. and that gives me joy. Miss Z and I have spent many a bonding moment watching their show (she calls it "The Boys and the Kids").
When you click on the link, you have to scroll down through the recipes to get to it, but they are really yummy.

And this whole wheat molasses bread is the bomb. It makes great toast and is kind of like a very decadent and tender cornbread. Try it!

All the booty I baked.

On Sunday we went to the beach with some friends and the girls had a blast. Z, Papa and Uncle Cameron made a sand castle. Miss Tiny reinacted a scene from Godzilla and, well...you get the idea.

My dear friend Marie was one of the folks we went to the beach with. This is a picture of us in front of a lovely California sunset.

On Monday I finally decided that I had to weed the garden patch. It just didn't look like a proper garden with all the weeds around the pots. Fabulous hat, huh?

Both of my tomato plants have babies!!!!!! I am going to eat the babies. Bwah ha ha!
So that is life as it is.