Thursday, July 10, 2008
This is a great way to include the little ones so they can contribute to the enjoyment of homemade bread: CINNAMON BUTTER 1/4 cup organic unsalted butter 2 tbsp organic sugar 1 tbsp organic brown sugar 1 tbsp ground cinnamon Soften unsalted butter to room temperature. Combine the softened butter and other ingredients together until they are completely blended. Place the compound butter in a container. Or, shape butter in logs and wrap in parchment paper, then cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch discs. Chill for a at least 1 hour and preferably one day. NOTE: Compound butters can be store under refrigeration for up to 5 days or up to 6 months in the freezer
Monday, March 24, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
(Or not - cuz you have your own life and are only mildly amused by mine.)
Anyhow, I got deployed to Las Vegas to help with the Hepatitis/syringe reuse thing that resulted in a notification of 40, 000 patients in southern Nevada.
The last time I was deployed was during the SARS outbreak. After I had Sizzles, I cut my hours way back and now only work part-time. Going out to the field when I am used to working only a couple days of week was a big adjustment for me and my girls. But their super-fly daddy kept the home fires burning and even managed to avoid ordering pizza every night. (He did order "Shrimp with Lobster Sauce" but that was only after the children had burned through all the food I crammed into the fridge the day I left for Vegas).
In five days, my little foodies ate 8 bananas, 2 quarts of strawberries, a 2lb bag of grapes, an 8 snack cups of applesauce and half a box of Kidz cliff bars. Did I mention the chicken shish kabobs, loaf of pumpkin bread, box of Nature's Own Cheese crackers and 2.5 pounds of oranges? :)
These girls can EAT. (They clearly have their father's metabolism.)
I haven't had a spare second to run to Whole Foods, so the food supply is virtually non-existent. Thank God my parents arrived last night from Ft. Lauderdale! They swooped in and made a MASSIVE pot of spaghetti sauce studded with Italian sausage and meatballs.
Re-entry into regular life is harder than I remember but gobbling up spaghetti by the forkful is making it a little bit easier.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
On a blustery Saturday, during the last days of the month of February, we planted seeds.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
I considered pleading with the head of The Daring Baker's Blogroll herself, that this recipe was, well, too DARING.
Then I took a deep breath and flung myself off the cliff, accepting that I would attempt (with a 3.5 year old and 1 year old underfoot and only one successful attempt to make a loaf of bread ) to make a French Batard. All, so I could publicly parade myself about as a Daring Baker.
Come along on my journey: Mission 1:
1) First I decided I needed to attempt one more bread making excursion before embarking upon the Mount Everest of the bread-making world - a French Baguette. I decided to make Julia's Country Bread. Without closely reading the instructions, I presumed that since it was called Country Bread that it would be simple as surely people living on a farm (in the country) didn't have too much time to muck about with the necessary task of making bread. I never reread the instructions and simply began the process. During that process I learned (not until I came upon each broken bridge in my journey) that: a) this bread requires 3 different rises b) it required a baking stone of which I had none c) stabbing your bread with a large chef's knife is NOT the same as slashing your bread with a razor blade, d) spraying mists of water across the back of your gas oven could cause it to sputter and screw up its temperature gauging mechanism and e) pulling bread out early and then deciding it wasn't completely finished cooking and then putting it back in the oven while the cold oven climbed back to 400 degrees F does not produce edible bread.Status of mission: FAILURE
Saturday, February 23, 2008
It has been a long, long week but now it is the weekend and we are glad. :)
On the agenda for the weekend:
- Find a small rocking chair for the girls' bedroom
- Find some compressed yeast and rye flour
- Bake country bread
- Go to the farmer's market and buy organic beef, red carrots and fresh beets
- Restock our muffin liner supply
- Make beef stew with our farmer's market finds
- Have a date with Brian
- Read some more of Barbara Kingslover's book
- Make pancakes and sausage for breakfast
- Go to church on Sunday night
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I have found some good limbs to grab hold of as life rushes me down its rapids. Some of those limbs belong to authors like Alice Waters, Barbara Kingslover, and Katrina Kennison. Their works hold me down. They could hold you too.
During the busy seasons of life, simple recipes become restful places to repeat the practice of centering your priorities back to God, your family and friends. Over my life the recipe that rises over and over as simple and soulful is my Grandmother's Chicken and Dumplings. It has been ages since my arms have pushed dough across a wooden table until it failed to bounce back to its glutenous knot; taking a butter knife and cutting long strips down and across; scooping and plopping limp rectangles into a bubbling broth of chicken parts and potato stumps.
Although the years have pulled the details of this recipe away from my mind, it has not been pulled away from the memory of my hands and fingers. Those hands and fingers were creating that food as far back as my ability to stand underneath my Momom's housecoat as she moved from the sink, to the stove, to the table.
I rest on those memories, making muffins with Sizzles week after week. We fill those muffins with blueberries, spotted brown bannanas, pumpkin puree, applesauce and strawberry jam. It is our refuge together when our days have been long with struggle, stress or disappointment. Together we find our way back to the kitchen, back to where we belong, back to the beginning of that muffin recipe. And we are home.
If you asked me for the muffin recipe that we use every week of our lives, I would have to look it up. If you asked my hands, they could tell you in one long movement.
One day, my daughter's fingers will tell it too.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
One exciting bit of news is that I became an Aunt for the first time Sunday night! My nephew's name is Brody Elisha. Cute name, huh?
Unfortunately, I haven't seen a picture of the kiddo yet because my brother took a picture with his phone and then text(ed?) it to everyone. My blackberry didn't get the message. So, I am waiting for my kin to leave the hospital, then have the time to send an email picture via the computer.
Apparently for Lent, God intended for me to practice patience.
Patience isn't my thing. Cooking is my thing. Oh, that reminds me!
I have a new goal coming down the pipe for all you fancy readers!
I am going to start tossing out some turn of the century recipes. (Not the recent turn of the century, the one before that). These recipes come from an old handwritten cookbook my grandmother gave me before she passed away. I have to take it out and look again, but I seem to recall that it was my grandfather's mother's. That sounds about right (well, maybe not grammatically). Anyway, some of the recipes have dates on them and the oldest one is from 1895! The trick though is that hardly any of the recipes have tempature or time notations. Some just give ingredients list and lack the narrative instructions. So, I will need your help to test them out!
Oh boy. Sizzles, is circling so I will grab a short one so that I can jump off the computer before she starts acting crazy. Sizzles does a fine rendition of crazy. Believe you me, no one wants any of that stuff coming their way, especially not this worn out mama.
Let's start with Snow Flake Cake:
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sweet milk (not sure what that would mean other than NOT buttermilk or sour milk?)
Whites of three eggs
2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking powder
Then it says: flavor and frost.
This recipe is on the same page as a cake entitled, Mrs. Phinneys Sunshine Cake.
Doesn't that name just make you smile?
So, get to it! Make some Snow Flake Cake!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
This just in - apparently today is TUESDAY.
Hmm. So I guess some words will do.
We had lots of drama this weekend:
- Friday night my car would not start after numerous attempts by my collegues and as a result was stranded a top a six story parking deck on the CDC campus.
- Saturday morning - I return to campus to get the tow truck through security only to discover that a tow truck can't get up the parking deck because the overhead clearance is too low. The nice man hand carried his equipment up to my car to jump it and we drove away.
- Saturday night - We had an awesome date night. Brian helped me pick out some new clothes, we saw a movie and ate some late night guacamole. Then we returned home to find Sizzles with a raging fever. :(
- Sunday - We spent all day caring for Sizzles and Sticky Butt. They were both very sick.
- Sunday night about two hours before the Superbowl - the plumbing went nuts and the toilets began to overflow.
Today was the second day in a row of attempting to take care of sick children and get some paid work done.
Somewhere along the way today, I decided to bake bread from scratch. At some point, I remember thinking this would be easier than loading up children into the car to go to the store to get some bread.
Did I mention that I have NEVER baked bread before?
Did I mention that the kids were sick AND that I was trying to work from home?
And I wonder why I struggle with balance. :)
At the end of the day (which is now), the day was GOOD and for that I am truly GRATEFUL.
(Later tonight, I will post the recipe for the white bread I made which was a simple recipe that required little of me except my full attention and even without that, the bread turned out great!)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
According to the folks over at www.allrecipes.com, today begins Pancake Week.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Back to the food:
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
- Bring your own bags from home or reuse last week's paper bags. To be honest, I am not automatically inclined to bring cloth bags to the grocery store. But at WF you are given 10 cents off for every bag you reuse. The cool thing is that this even applies to reusing the WF paper bags that the store supplies for free. For me ,this is a weekly saving of about 70 cents to $1. It is also a great way to avoid having mountains and mountains of brown paper bags erupting from the space between my dryer and the wall where I store my bags. I know this isn't much but over one year that amounts to $52 which is an extra $52 into the kiddo college fund. (Assuming it makes it there of course). I recommend just emptying the groceries and then putting the flattened stack of bags in the back of the car, so you don't have to worry about remembering them.
- Skip the pre-made food altogether. I know it is beautiful but that nearly one-third of most WF is the devil if you are on a budget. Just close your eyes and walk away really really fast.
- Shop in season. This is a universal grocery tip. Produce tastes better and is cheaper when it is season.
- Buy the house brand and know that 365 is typically less expensive than the Whole Foods label. But the 365 brand isn't always organic so pay close attention if that is important to you. Also, Whole Kitchen (the Whole Foods brand name for many items) tends to be a smaller amount of food in a similar sized package so you may want to compare beyond just the price.
- Sometimes it pays to shell out an extra 40 cents. There are some house brand items that in my humble opinion are not worth the saved pennies. If an item ends up in the trash can because no one in the house will touch it, it doesn't really matter if it was 40 cents less than the tasty competition. A few examples of rejected Whole Food knock-offs include: Knock-offs of Stacy's Pita Chips (WAY WAY WAY to much salt on those suckers and let it be known that Sizzles licks salt straight out of her hand), Whole Foods fig bars (okay if you haven't had Fig Newman's recently then these beige little stinkers will suffice. If your kids eat Fig Newton's or Fig Newman's on a regular basis I doubt the Whole Food fig bars will cut it), Whole Foods knock-off cheetos (I don't eat this kind of thing often but I will say, dude, these are just gross and just try not to purchase them. Ever.)
So there you go, a couple of tips to start you on your way. Go forth and pinch those pennies for the greater good!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Did you know yesterday was the birthday of Winnie the Pooh author, A.A. Milne?
Yeah, me either, until I stumbled upon the information while trolling the blogsphere and getting my daily fix of Sun and Candlelight.
Winnie the Pooh books were some of my favorite chapter books as a child. I remember being the lone kid in the first grade who spent the entire library hour on my knees trying decide which Winnie the Pooh book I was going to rescue from the dark bottom shelf. I liked Pooh books so much that I bought one of first chapter book in the series as soon as I got pregnant with Sizzles.
I think I even tried to read it to her the first week of her life but alas, she was more interested in hearing Brian's voice narrating the first of the Harry Potter books. Sizzles laid her stake as a daddy's girls right from the get-go.
But last night, she was at my shoulder when I checked out Sun and Candlelight so I read to her the entry and she got VERY excited about the idea of having birthday candles for Winnie the Pooh. So, although I was pretty tired from a crazy day at the CDC, I went to the bookshelf and found our copy of Winnie the Pooh. Sizzles brought it to the computer screen, declared it a "match" and demanded to know where the candles were.
Of course we needed something to put in the candles and after rummaging around the pantry, it was determined that he had all the ingredients for homemade pumpkin muffins. We whipped up the muffins and read the first chapter while they baked. After they were done, we shoved in the candle and song our homage just in time for bed.
This morning while we watched last night's snow melt away we ate Winnie the Pooh pumpkin muffins and then headed off to school.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Are you Listening?
Its coming. . .
Listen, its almost there.
POP! Ping! Pop! Pop!
Pop!, Pop!, Pop!, Pop! PING!,
"I hear it! Mommy, I hear the popcorn!"
"Mommy, I Looooove popcorn!"
POP! Ping! Pop! Pop!
Pop!, Pop!, Pop!, Pop! PING!,
"Can I shake it? No, I don't want to get to close to the fire. The fire is HOT."
"You shake it."
"Is it ready?"
"Can I have some salt? I Loooove salt."
"Can I taste? Can I have some?"
"Mmm. I love popcorn! It is so TASTY!"
As mentioned at Boys Rule My Life, today was simple Friday. The challenge was to think about all the noises we let into our lives and to attempt to lock out noises that disrupt or dampen our day.
The loud HUM of a running microwave and the piercing BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP BEEEEEEP that repeats until the food is removed reminds me of the fact that in our house we abandoned microwave popcorn years ago. In our home, we practice the simple tradition of making popcorn on the stove top. Making your own popcorn is an inexpensive snack. Bags of corn kernels cost only a dollar or two and you only use about 1/3 cup of corn at a time.
Sizzles loves to sit on the counter, and listen to the popcorn as it explodes inside my heavy-bottomed stainless steel Dutch oven. During the pictured endeavor, we even sprinkled some freshly ground Parmesan cheese onto the popcorn. There are all kinds of heirloom popcorn kernels that can be explored with the kiddos.
And don't forget to Listen.
Here is information I found on the web, about some of the popcorn varieties available.
YELLOW is a butterfly popcorn variety with an exceptional yellow corn taste. It has a high expansion rate, popping big and fluffy.
WHITE is a smaller kernel popcorn than the yellow, still with a relatively high expansion rate, popping up large and fluffy. It has a very mild corn flavor.
MIDNIGHT BLUE is a large kernel blue popcorn with an exceptional expansion rate. After it's popped, the kernel is white with blue hull speckles; it has a unique flavor.
MIXED BABY RICE is an heirloom variety which is HULL-LESS. The kernels are shaped something like rice and are white, red, and striped red in color. When popped, it has less volume than other varieties, the kernel is white and the flavor is light and delicate.
MAUVE is an heirloom variety which is a favorite. It has a moderate pop, and is tender and tasty! The meat is white to creamy in color.
MUSHROOM FLAKE pops up round; it's used mostly by people who want to caramelize their corn. Once popped, it holds its shape during shipping better than other types. It has a lighter corn taste than traditional yellow popcorn.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I acknowledge that I am hard to please. I have never really been into processed foods, I love to cook and once upon a time I even reviewed restaurants (only about 10 and then I got pregnant and started barfing and that was the end of that). But three nights a week I need to get in the door and get food on the table that is homemade and fast. Did I mention I also try to eat organic and local? Biting off more than you can chew will be the title of my next blog. :)
Part of the problem has been revealed to me over and over again. God has repeatedly made it clear to me that I have no business trying to cook a rice noodle. I overcook them and they turn to mush or I use to much sauce and they turn to mush or I over zealously toss them and they turn to mush. Have I learned? Um, NO. I am the ram your head into the wall a million times before accepting the truth kind of girl. And tonight, I rose to the rice noodle wall occasion. I am shamed to say I thought I could whip up a Pad Thai without bean sprouts, limes, and fresh roasted peanuts. I am ashamed to admit, I took some bottled peanut sauce and tossed it with some frozen shrimp and sauteed veggies and called it a day. If Bill (my super awesome friend who now is a snazzy food writer and nominated for a James Beard Award) is reading this post - I am so very very sorry. To all the hard-working cooks in Thai restaurants across this land - I am so very very sorry. To all who are about to take a look at this picture of my nasty, nasty concoction -
let my treachery be a lesson to you all and let it be known that cooking should be done with your full heart and full attention and if you don't have time to do it the right way, then just serve fried eggs, salami and toast for dinner.
Um. Did I mention that Sticky-Butt has a habit of placing her fried eggs on top of her head to get a laugh?
I'm proud. So very proud.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
On many Fridays, in the attempt to hit the kitchen chopping, I don't slow down to connect with the very thing that is driving me to cook - my family. Sizzles and Sticky-butt are also tired from the week's escapades but they are also eager to pick up on our Thursday adventures. This frantic energy creates frazzled Fridays and they are no fun.
Over the holidays, in addition to gorging on cookies, chocolates and a disturbing variety of meats, I also gorged on books. Several books I have been consuming are about slowing down and prioritizing family life. One of the books, entitled, Mitten Strings from God - for mom's in a hurry, was recommended at a blog I have been visiting, titled Happy at Home. Although this mom and I seem different in many ways, we both long for a simpler approach to our lives. Even better, today there was a challenge posted about Slow Fridays. This challenge was issued at Boys Rule My Life and it was perfectly timed with this Friday when our home successfully slowed down. Here is how we did it.
I picked up a pizza, clementines, and cookies from Whole Foods on my way home. I walked in the door, gobbled up my hugs and we sat down for pizza. While we all ate, Sizzles told me about her day with daddy, and Sticky-butt signed "more" over and over while shoving pizza hunks into her plump little cheeks. We were covered with pepperoni grease and smiles. Then Brian opened his anniversary gift one day early (a Star Wars t-shirt), and slipped off to take a nap (the girls were up a lot last night for some reason). I then piled the girls into the bathtub and we sang while I washed hair and pizza off most of their bodies. Then we read books and put Sticky-butt to bed.
The best part was that Sizzles picked up the playroom and then asked if we could do art! ( I have been introducing art time to her for a couple of weeks in an attempt to escape the lure of the television). We painted Popsicle sticks with paint and glitter glue and then traced our hands on the back of wrapping paper while listening to Nora Jones. By this time, Brian was back up and just in time to read her a book and take her off to bed. A successful (although a bit unusual) slow Friday. FINALLY.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Happy New Year and Enjoy!
by Billy Collins from Picnic, Lightening (the first stanza)
This is the beginning.
Almost anything can happen.
This is where you can find
the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land,
the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page.
Think of an egg, the letter A,
a woman ironing on a bare stage
as the heavy curtain rises.
This is the very beginning.
The first-person narrator introduces himself,
tells us about his lineage.
The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings.
Here the climbers are studying a map
or pulling on their long woolen socks.
This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn.
The profile of an animal is being smeared
on the wall of a cave,
and you have not yet learned to crawl.
This is the opening, the gambit,
a pawn moving forward an inch.
This is your first night with her,
your first night without her.
This is the first part
where the wheels begin to turn,
where the elevator begins its acent,
before the doors lurch apart.