Friday, January 30, 2009

A big one

and speckled, to boot.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Mishmash

First off, here is another piece chosen from my grandparent's house. A child's seat. My grandmother doesn't remember much about it's origin. It's missing a seat and therefore is at my parent's house waiting to be re-caned by a friend of the family. I can't wait to use it when we have company.

Secondly, here are a couple pictures of my attempts at Mama JJ's Five Minute Bread. Mine are not nearly as lovely as hers are. I skipped the flouring of the tops and didn't spray my oven often enough. Even with my shortcomings (or was it laziness?), they still turned out very tasty straight from the oven and as panini sandwiches for dinner the other night.

This is my little girl at her favorite post. The day this was taken, she turned three. She still uses those toddler pronunciations. For example, she calls her belly, her "bobby". When she wants a snack, she says she's "hungee". I can't bring myself to correct her yet. Maybe when she's eight or nine.

And lastly, something to bake. As regular readers know, our family eats baked oatmeal for breakfast every morning. One thing I have failed to mention, because it's a bit complicated, is that I don't eat the baked oatmeal with the family.

During the last couple years of college, I was plagued with stomach problems. The doctors thought maybe I had a stomach ulcer and prescribed medication. That did not help. Jamey and I married and I continued with stomach problems. Finally, I read about celiac disease and cut all gluten from my diet for a month or so.

It was like night and day. As Jamey and I took our evening walks I can remember telling him that it felt so weird to be without stomach pain, as if something was missing. It had been so long since I didn't have stomach discomfort. I was able to slowly and I mean sloooowly introduce gluten back into my diet. Those with real celiac disease can't do this. I discovered I just had a sensitivity to gluten.

All this to say, while things have been much better since, I still pay attention to how much pasta and bread I eat. Starting every day with baked oatmeal is not a good way to start my gluten-sensitive day. Oats affect me more than other gluten, for some reason. So, what do I eat while my family enjoys delicious baked oatmeal every morning?

Rice crispies. Yipee.

Do not cry for me. I can handle the temptation (I still love baked oatmeal). And the rice crispies. But, alas, I have found a much better alternative. While I am not a big fan of scrambled eggs or eggs sunny side up or omelets for breakfast (I do enjoy them later in the day), I have found an egg recipe that works for me for breakfast. And, we do have plenty of eggs. Jamey brought in a baker's dozen the other day.

It's called Strawberry Brunch Souffle. I made it one night for dinner back in the spring when we had fresh strawberries and then again the other night because we had several dozen eggs in the fridge (this night I used thawed, frozen crushed strawberries). I was reminded of how much I enjoyed this recipe back in the spring. So, after changing the recipe slightly (cutting back on the sugar, cutting out the butter), I have found a delightful breakfast for me. You'll note it does contain flour, but this amount, for me, is safe. And, I am doing my part to plow through the many cartons of crushed strawberries in the freezer. Oh, the sacrifices I make. You do know that strawberries come again in four short months, do you not?

Hmmm. They will come around the same time this baby comes. We are having trouble thinking of a girl's name. What do you think of Strawberry?

Back to the recipe. Don't be afraid of the lofty golden brown sides. They are delicious and make quite the impression right out of the oven. This souffle is velvety smooth and custardy. Topped with strawberries, it is divine.

Strawberry Brunch Souffle (adapted slightly from Simply In Season)

6 eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4-1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups fresh, sliced or crushed strawberries (adding 2 tbsp. sugar to the fruit is optional)

In a mixing bowl, beat (with a whisk or hand mixer) eggs and milk together. Add flour, sugar, salt and vanilla and beat again. Transfer to a greased 8x8 inch baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the edges are high and golden brown and the center has set. Top with strawberries. This reheats well in the microwave.

If you don't have strawberries on hand, I would think any frozen fruit (peaches, blueberries, etc) cooked down on the stove a bit with a touch of sugar would taste amazing. Pin It

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My 100th Post, Belated

From what I understand, it is some sort of blogger tradition to post 100 things about yourself in your 100th post. Well, I am a little bit late with this, but thought it still might be fun.

Not a single one has to do with food. Well, maybe one does. Here we go...

1) My right foot is half a shoe size bigger than my left.
2) I lived and studied in Mexico for 5 months during college.
3) I remember very little Spanish.
4) A nick-name I had in high school was General Motors.
5) My husband and I dated for three years before getting engaged.
6) We then waited almost another year before getting married.
7) I was a clinical social worker in my before-children life.
8) I worked at a psychiatric hospital for kids.
9) I worked with teenagers there.
10) I got bit once.
11) And had a chair thrown at me.
12) I dislike any form of shopping.
13) I've turned into a home-body.
14) In high school, my head was half-shaved and my hair was dyed red.
15) I wore combat boots.
16) I attended lots of concerts.
17) At one, I had to be pulled out of the crowd by security because I had been pressed too close against the stage by the crowd and was getting crushed.
18) I don't drink alcohol.
19) I've seen what it can do to families and my money is not supporting that.
20) I had two ectopic pregnancies. One before Sam and one before Sadie, both requiring surgery.
21) The second time, they removed one of my fallopian tubes.
22) My mom's parents met when my Grandmother fell though the ice ice-skating and my Grandfather pulled her out. Ok, that's not about me, but it's romantic.
23) Jamey and I met in college.
24) I liked him first.
25) He had no clue.
26) I had to come out and tell him.
27) We dated awhile and then he broke up with me.
28) That was the saddest I think I've ever been.
29) A few weeks later, he changed his mind.
30) The only bone I have ever broken was a vertebrae.
31) I broke it while sledding.
32) I was in college at the time and 5 of us were sitting on a large wipe-your-feet-on-mat someone had taken from a campus building.
33) They put me in the middle because I was small.
34) Everyone else bailed out when we were headed for a sled ramp.
35) I couldn't see it and went over the ramp, flew into the air and landed on my bum. Hard.
36) It was my only ambulance ride.
37) I called my mom from the ER to tell her what happened and she asked me about the weather.
38) Later I found out that she had almost passed out and was lying on the floor and didn't remember asking me that.
39) Later, I also found out that Jamey was visiting my college that weekend and the friend he was staying with had to go visit a friend in the hospital. She had broken her back sledding (me).
40) I had to wear a back brace for a couple months.
41) I haven't had any back problems since.
42) I had 30 orchids, before kids.
43) I sold all but my favorite five after having kids.
44) They still bloom for me every year.
45) When I was a kid, I bit through my tongue.
46) We were not allowed to spin the chair that spun, but I was spinning my brother.
47) I tripped over a leg of the piano bench and landed on my chin on my brother's metal tractor.
48) I bit clear through.
49) The doctor couldn't do anything.
50) I had to just eat jello and drink milk shakes for awhile.
51) I quilt.
52) I've made Jamey, Sam and Sadie each one. And pieced one for my brother and his wife.
53) I've either cross-stitched or needle-pointed Christmas stockings for Jamey, Sam and Sadie.
54) I cry sometimes when I talk to babies.
55) I just get overwhelmed by the miracle that they are.
56) Not just my babies.
57) I love babies.
58) I loved nursing my babies.
59) I nursed Sam until he weaned himself at 18 months.
60) Sadie weaned herself at 22 months.
61) There is a hand towel and a separate dish towel on my oven door handle.
62) I get annoyed when they are not used for their intended purposes.
63) I have a dish sponge and a counter sponge.
64) I get annoyed when they are not used for their intended purposes.
65) I wear dish gloves to wash dishes.
66) Not because I have nice nails, but because I have excema.
67) I used to get terrible migraines.
68) I have since grown out of them.
69) I would like to become a doula one day.
70) I have never witnessed a birth that wasn't my own.
71) I would like to. Hint. Hint.
72) I was almost an art major in college.
73) Then I switched to elementary education.
74) Then I switched to social work and stayed there.
75) I love God.
76) I have been richly blessed and He deserves all the glory.
77) I get tired of canning.
78) But, I am thankful for canning.
79) I sometimes think I should have canned more.
80) That makes me more tired.
81) I typed this original list at 1:00 AM (pre-pregnancy).
82) I am really enjoying this blog thing.
83) It's a way for me to stay connected to the outside world without leaving home.
84) Not that leaving home is a bad thing. It's not.
85) I just enjoy home, too.
86) I am running out of things to tell about myself.
87) I am allergic to penicillin.
88) See, I am getting desperate for things to say.
89) I'm 5 ft. 3.5 inches tall.
90) This is getting pathetic.
91) I thought for sure I could list 100 things about myself.
92) Oh, I thought of something.
93) It's a really good one.
94) It's something you may not know.
95) Only a handful of people actually know this.
96) It's something I hope you remember about me.
97) Especially when you visit my blog.
98) Actually, two things.
99) I love when you comment and
100) I am so touched that you come. Pin It

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lentil Coconut Curry

Curry. We just love it.

It was our friend's turn to host us for dinner. Cinde made this dish and served it over brown rice. We topped the curry with her homemade chutney and scooped it up with her homemade naan. It was a very yummy meal.

Come to find out, the recipe for this curry is in Simply In Season. How could I have missed it?! So, this past week I made a big pot of it, adapting it to our liking. It was wonderful. We are still eating the leftovers for lunches and are very pleased with ourselves and this recipe.

Lentil Coconut Curry (adapted from Simply In Season's Red Lentil Coconut Curry)
serves 6-8

2 cups dried lentils
5 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
3 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. each of ground turmeric, cumin and black pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 (13.5 oz.) cans coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
3 tsp. hot sauce (we use our friend Chris' homemade hot sauce)
2 tsp. salt
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 head cabbage, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups frozen peas

In a medium sized saucepan, combine lentils and 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove from burner and set aside, leaving the liquid in with the lentils. In the meantime...

In a large soup pot, saute onion in oil or butter until tender. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add spices curry through cinnamon as well as the coconut milk, soy sauce, tomato sauce, hot sauce and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes or until your lentils are done.

Once the lentils are done, add the lentils and their liquid to the soup pot. Add cauliflower, sweet potatoes and cabbage and cook over medium high heat until the sweet potatoes are soft. Add the peas and cook another 5 or so minutes.

Serve over white or brown rice and top with chutney or plain yogurt.

This recipe is easily adaptable. I didn't have cauliflower or cabbage, so I added more sweet potatoes and peas. I increased the curry from the original recipe and added the hot sauce to give it more heat. You may want to back-off in these areas if you are serving kids or if you don't like things spicy. We like it spicy, so we fed our kids leftover quiche that night. Pin It

Friday, January 23, 2009

Craving Confession

As many of you know, we grow or buy local all our fruits and vegetables (and then preserve them one way or another to eat throughout the year). Here comes the confession.

I have been buying oranges and orange juice made who-knows-where for the past month or so. There I said it. I got it off my chest. My excuse? I'm pregnant and I crave citrus like you would not believe.

Every morning, I drink at least two glasses of orange juice. Every night, after the kids are in bed, I eat an orange. Why can't I crave canned peaches or frozen blueberries or red raspberries? We have plenty of those. Nope. I crave a fruit that grows either across the country or in another country. My goodness. Locavores forgive me. I would never do this in an un-pregnant state.

Oh, and I hope this baby doesn't come out with some strange orange pigment disorder. Pin It

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Peanut Butter-Vegetable Soup

After two consecutive non-food posts, I'm back talking about food again. One, because I made this bread that Mama JJ wrote about. It's very easy as it requires no kneading and doesn't make a mess of your counter top, clothes, floor, etc. It turned out great. And two, because I can't believe I haven't told you about this soup before.

There are a few sure-fire ways to get our kids to eat vegetables. This is one of those ways.

Don't stop reading if you don't have kids or if you don't care if your kids eat vegetables, or if your kids do a great job already of eating their vegetables, or if you don't like vegetables. Trust me. Read on. Grown-ups love this, too!!!

When I first stumbled upon this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking for Today: Vegetarian Recipes cookbook, I admit, I was skeptical. Peanut butter in vegetable soup? I am so glad I tried it. It is such a wonderful, hearty winter soup. I've adapted it so that all the vegetables are ones we have grown. You can substitute vegetables as needed, but this version is worth a try.

Peanut Butter-Vegetable Soup (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking for Today: Vegetarian Recipes)

2 medium carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. butter
3 cups water
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups zucchini, chopped (I use frozen, chopped zucchini.)
3 bullion cubes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pint stewed tomatoes (or canned tomatoes), cut up
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cook carrots, onions, and garlic in melted butter until onions are tender. Stir in water, sweet potatoes, zucchini, bullion cubes and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until sweet potatoes and carrots are tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes and peanut butter. Stir gently until peanut butter has completely dissolved and tomatoes are heated through. Makes about 4 servings.

The leftovers, if you have any, are great for lunch the next day. Especially when it's frigid outside. I double the recipe to guarantee myself lunches.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sadie's Quilt

By the time Sam came into this world, I had his quilt finished. It was a simple pattern and was crib size. He still uses it on his bed today.

It was the first quilt I pieced and quilted myself. I had helped my mother and grandmother quilt in the past, having learned how from them (maybe) when I was nine or ten years old. My grandmother on my mother's side made many quilts over the years, gifting them to her children and grandchildren on birthdays and as wedding gifts. My great grandmother on my father's side was also a quilter. Here she is (second from left) on the cover of a local (to her home) magazine. The cover is framed and in my dining room.

Below are some samples of this great grandmother's quilting. More treasures I chose from my grandparent's house. One day, I'd like to frame these, too, and hang them around the magazine cover.

On Saturday, three and a half years after I started it, I finished Sadie's quilt. It's twin bed-sized and involved more detailed piecing and quilting than did Sam's. Like Sam's, I designed it, using fabric I had picked up here and there.

On Sunday, I started planning and cutting fabric for the baby's quilt. The baby inspired me by looking sweet as can be in the ultrasound we had on Friday. He or she (we don't find out the gender) had the hiccups, was sucking away at nothing and showing us his/her fingers. Yes, baby, I am making a quilt for you, too.

This time, due to the fact that I have been given many beautiful fabric swatches by my interior designer-friend, Laura, and that we are living off student loans, I am going to do my best not to buy any fabric for this one. I'll try to remember to show pictures as I go along. In the meantime, here are some more of Sadie's quilt. She's excited to use it on the big-girl bed she'll move to in a few months.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Sound

For years I have wanted a piano. For our kids to learn on one day. For me (I took lessons when I was a child.) Well, one day last week it happened. I happened to be checking Craigslist on the right day at the right time. A local family was giving this piano away, free, to a good home. We were happy to help them out.

The night we brought it home, Sam learned Hot Cross Buns. He's been begging for lessons since. Once we get some beginner books, I will start teaching him some basics. I have enjoyed stumbling through our hymnals, trying to remember notes, sharps and flats. I'm going to benefit from Sam's lessons, too. Pin It

Friday, January 16, 2009

Curried-Chicken Potpie

This is another favorite recipe of mine. It comes from Cooking Light's Annual Recipes 2001 and is listed under the section, "Not Your Grandma's Potpies". Did you know potpie was one word? I didn't. Anyway, this recipe is on my Winter Menu Ideas list/rotation.

Below is a picture of some of our blue potatoes, peeled. Aren't they pretty? This is the first year we grew them. While I am so impressed with their lovely color, I have to say we probably won't be growing these again next year. First off, once cooked, they taste no different than red potatoes to me. Also, once cooked, they lose their blue-purple color and become somewhat gray. Reason number three, they don't store particularly well. They are usable at this point, but already the skins are getting pretty soft and they are sprouting. They were a very fun experiment and do taste good. They just aren't in our garden plans for next year.

Back to the recipe. These potatoes worked very well here. Also, while all potpies are a bit labor intensive, if you have cooked chicken on hand and prepare the pastry the day (or two) before, it goes rather quickly and is SO worth it (even if you are cooking your chicken and making your pastry the same day). Anytime I'm going to make it, I tell Jamey ahead of time because he loves it and enjoys looking forward to it. Also, this is another recipe that is easily doubled. I always double it, putting the second potpie in the freezer to have handy for an easy Sunday lunch after church. Adding mushrooms and larger amounts of the vegetables can replace the chicken if you are vegetarian or cooking for vegetarians.

Curried Chicken Potpie (adapted slightly from Cooking Light)

1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
3 tbsp. ice water
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. curry powder (you may want to decrease this if you are cooking for kids, too)
2 cups, peeled, diced potatoes
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1-2 tbsp. water
1/2 cup (4 oz.) 1/3 less fat or regular cream cheese
2 cups, diced, cooked chicken

To prepare the pastry, combine 1/4 cup flour, ice water and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk until well-blended to create a slurry. Set aside. In another bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup flour and salt and then cut-in the shortening with a pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add slurry to flour mixture and blend with a fork until well-combined. Form the dough into a ball with your hands. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your counter that is larger than the size of the opening of your 2-quart baking dish. Place the ball of dough in the center and lay another piece of plastic wrap (the same size as the first) over the ball. Wrap up the sides and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. When you are ready to place the pastry on your baking dish (once the filling is in it), remove it from the fridge, unwrap it, keeping the ball of dough between the two opened-up pieces of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is at least the size of your baking dish. Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap, make 5 slits (or a little heart or star:-)) in the center of the rolled-out dough with a knife and flip it, plastic wrap side up, onto your baking dish. Peel the plastic wrap off and either tuck the edges of the dough into the baking dish or crimp it like a pie crust. (Your counter and rolling pin stayed clean!)

To prepare the filling, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat until warm, add the curry powder and cook 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, onions, bell pepper and garlic. Stir- fry for several minutes. Add ingredients broth through black pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 1-2 tbsp. water until cornstarch is dissolved. Add to vegetables. Add cooked chicken and cream cheese, cubed into small pieces. Stir until cream cheese has melted. Spoon filling into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Follow directions above for placing the pastry on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the pastry is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes.

This photo (above) was taken the day after four adults ate of the potpie. I forgot to take a photo of it right out of the oven because the whole house was smoke-filled. My Squash and Apple Casserole that was in the oven with the potpie baked over and continued to bake/burn on the bottom of the oven. This photo was taken of the potpie straight from the fridge, not warm and creamy like it is once it's warm. It does reheat very nicely. It's a fight-over-the-leftovers kind of meal. Pin It

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

This is one of my very favorite dishes. It's healthy, delicious, I always have almost everything on hand and my kids like it. What more could you ask for? Oh, and the filling freezes so well that I always double the filling recipe and freeze the extra for a very quick and easy meal another night.

My friend, Amy, shared this recipe with me years ago. I have always loved it, but now especially so since we have crates of sweet potatoes individually wrapped in newspaper, stored under the table in the office upstairs (keeping very nicely).

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos (adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook)

5 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
2 tsp. canola oil
3 1/2 cups diced onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
4 1/2 cups cooked or canned black beans
2/3 cups packed cilantro leaves (optional)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
8-10 8-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 pints salsa (homemade, if you have)

Place your cooked, mashed sweet potatoes in a large bowl (I cut my sweet potatoes in half, leaving their skins on, and boil them in water until they are soft, peel them while they are warm and mash with a potato masher) . Add the black beans and using a potato masher, mash the beans and sweet potatoes together. Set it aside. Saute onions and garlic in the oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat until the onions are tender. Add the cumin and coriander and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the onion mixture to your sweet potato and bean mixture and stir to combine. Add cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Stir again.

Grease a 9 x 13" pan. Fill your tortillas with about 3/4 cup of the sweet potato mixture, roll up and lay seal side down in your baking dish. Smother the top of the burritos with salsa and cover the pan with foil. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream and additional cilantro if you have it.

These re-heat nicely and the leftovers are perfect for lunches.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Menu Ideas

Way back when, October 20th to be exact, I wrote about the need to write-up a menu rotation for myself so I would be sure to make good use of everything I have socked away. Well, I did that. I even typed it up. But, after that things get fuzzy...I remember throwing up, feeling tired...avoiding the kitchen.... oh, yes, pregnancy. So, my list remained a list and wasn't used (at all maybe?) until these past few weeks since I am finally feeling more like myself.

So, here is my list. It's really more for me than for you, unless you happen to have the same things stored-up as I do. And, starting tomorrow, I am going to share photos and recipes with you of the things on my list as I make them (If I haven't shared them with you already).

Winter Menu Ideas

Venison Stew (carrots, potatoes, onions, etc)

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches

Chicken and BBQ Sauce over Rice

Feta Chard Pie (eggs, roasted tomatoes, chard, onions, garlic, etc.)

Peanut Butter Vegetable Soup (sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, stewed tomatoes, etc.)

Pasta/lasagna/ziti (Tomato sauce, various vegetables)

Homemade Pizza (Tomato sauce or pesto, roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.)

Pesto Pasta Salad (Pesto, roasted tomatoes)

Sweet Potato Black Bean burritos (sweet potatoes, onions) topped with salsa

Egg Soufflé (eggs, chard, sausage)

Spaghetti (browned venison, tomato sauce)

Stuffed Peppers (sausage, stewed tomatoes, etc.)

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Calzones (chard, onions, tomatoes, etc.)

Eggplant Parmesan (eggplant, tomato sauce)

Apple and Sausage Pie (apples, onions, eggs)

Butternut Squash (try new recipes)

Chicken Corn soup

Egg Fried Rice (eggs, peas, carrots, peppers)

Carrot soup

Pasta e Fagiolli (carrot, onion, stewed tomatoes)

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad (sweet potatoes, stewed or roasted tomatoes)

Sausage Sweet Potato Bake (sweet potatoes, apples)

Curried Chicken Pot Pie


Mashed sweet potatoes

Roasted Potatoes with Pesto

Saucy green beans

Squash and Apple Casserole



Deviled Eggs

Zucchini Bread

Muffins (with rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries)

Pickled Beets

Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad

Potato Salad

Pumpkin Bread


Sour Cherry Pie

Grape Pie

Blueberry Swirl Cake (or sour cherry or strawberry rhubarb or peach variation)

Raspberry Cake

Pumpkin Pie

Peach Pie

Peach or Blueberry Cobbler

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Old, Treasured Things

I love old things. They remind me of simpler, albeit often harder, times. When there were no cell phones, video games, TVs or (how ironic) the internet. When people got up with the sun, worked together, ate what they grew, then sat outside on their porches in the evenings. Entertainment was socializing with each other- talking face to face- within their families, churches and amongst neighbors.

Now, I don't think I'm quite saying that I wished I lived back then. If so, I would've probably worried more about pregnancy and the safety of myself and the baby come time for it to be born. I would've worried more about my children's health and the weather and the crops. I could have peed in a chamber pot at night, but I would certainly miss the future invention of tampons.

I think instead of wishing to go back, I wish we didn't have quite all of the 'extras' we have now. I think those extras keep us holed-up in our houses, away from each other. Away from seeing the needs of others and extending a hand. Sometimes, the harder way to do something is the most rewarding.

This verse rings true to me. I came across it again, here.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody". (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)


As I mentioned here, my siblings, cousins and our significant others were invited to choose keepsakes from my grandparent's house over Christmas. I wanted to share with you some of the treasures I chose.

This bench is one of my favorites. I have always wanted some type of seating in my kitchen- it's where everyone congregates, but there's no room to sit or stand without being in the way of the cook. My grandmother told me that she and my grandfather picked this up years ago when they were traveling through the Poconos in PA. Out by the road, someone was selling these benches straight out of an old chapel. Jamey came home the other day to find me sitting on my bench, leafing through cookbooks. He said it looked like I should be singing, as if I held a hymn book.

Another favorite keepsake has not made it's way to us yet. It wouldn't fit in our van. It's a large, old canning cupboard. My parent's actually chuckled when they heard I wanted it because it's not in very good shape. Oh! but it's a canning cupboard and my husband is a wiz with wood. Once we have it with us and Jamey has worked his magic, I will share a picture of it with you, as well.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chicken is Back on the Menu

Back in November, we harvested our meat birds. They went directly into our neighbor's freezer (our freezers were packed). It wasn't until this past week that we actually ate one of these meat birds. I was feeling lousy at the time and couldn't quite imagine the smell of cooking chicken for an entire day. Plus, we have wonderful friends and a church family that kept us well fed. Soon it was time to travel for the holidays and more people fed us. How fortunate are we?

Anyway, this past week, Jamey went next door and retrieved one of our frozen birds. We thawed it overnight and it spent the next day in the crock pot, slowly cooking on my counter. It's been a long time since we have had chicken at home. Every time I had a poultry craving, I'd look outside and see our meat birds happily pecking away in the yard. So, we waited. We knew it would be worth it. I had a couple weak moments over the summer when I broke down and bought a free range chicken from our local farmer's market.

Jamey and I were vegetarians for quite awhile (me, about 7 years) before having kids. So, it wasn't that hard to go without chicken while we waited for our birds to mature. Also, we had venison on hand given to us by our friend's parents. And, occasionally, I would buy some sausage at the farmer's market.

Indian Chicken

Ok, back to our chicken. Once cooked (First thing in the morning, I put the bird and a cup of water into my crock pot whole, turn it on high for an hour and then turn it back to low until late afternoon.), I pulled half the meat off the bones (or rather it fell off) and added it to the dish I was making. Jamey pulled the rest off the bone and it went into the freezer for next week sometime.

So, what did I make with our first chicken? Indian Chicken from the More with Less cookbook. The first time we ever ate this was almost 6 years ago, soon after Sam was born. My friend, Mama JJ, had brought a meal to us (the new, green parents) and this is what she brought, along with other tasty things. She has written about this dish on her blog and you can find her post about it and the recipe here. It's one of my very favorite chicken dishes- it's the first chicken recipe I made since having chicken again for crying out loud! The main ingredients, other than chicken, are onions, curry powder, honey and chicken stock. I served it over rice with green beans and applesauce (both on the side, not together). Delicious.

I am really impressed with how these meat birds turned out. They are bigger than what I usually have gotten at the farmer's market. I had to put a heavy pot on top of the crock pot lid to hold it down tight. One of these chickens will easily make 4-6 meals for us (Sam is a professed vegetarian). We'll see how fast we go through them, but I have a feeling raising meat birds will become a yearly tradition.

I love chickens. Pin It


This morning I woke up at 9am. The house was quiet. Jamey had gone off to work (this is his last week of school break) many hours before. Were the kids still sleeping? Soon, as I lay there, I heard Sadie calling me, more in a sing-song way then in desperation. Then, I heard Sam quietly talking to himself in his room. Bless them.

We got up, dressed and ate breakfast. Sadie helped me make more baked oatmeal and banana muffins (Relatives who know our kids like bananas and that we don't buy them often bring them as gifts when they visit. The kids often can't eat them all before they turn, so into the freezer they go for bread later).

So, that's all I did this morning. Oatmeal, muffins, dishes. Oh, and I put a load of wash in. It's still in. Finished, but still in. I am tired. Fall asleep at the computer tired. I should work on Sam's math lesson plans- I've run out, so we can't do math until I do the plans. I should get the wash out and hang it up. I should take a shower. I should have devotions and schedule the kids' yearly check ups at the pediatrician's since their birthdays are coming up. I should make more pie crusts.

Wouldn't it be nice if just writing tasks down actually completed them? I am learning that being pregnant with two kids is tiring. And that maybe oatmeal, banana muffins and one load of laundry are too much for me in a morning. Hard to imagine when my mornings used to consist of canning copious amounts of food, doing several loads of laundry, cleaning the kitchen and managing to read a few picture books in between. That wasn't that long ago.

But life has it's seasons and this is my season to be tired. To grow a baby. To do less and be okay with that. Oh, and to lay down and take naps. I think I'll go work on that last one right now. Pin It

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Green Eggs, Anyone?

Well, it's been awhile since I've written about our chickens. For those of you who enjoy these updates, read on. For those of you who could care less, I'm sorry. Check back in a few days and I'm sure I will have written about something other than chickens. Probably.

While we were away over the holidays, our neighbors used our house for guests and kept watch over Somersault and our flock. I had warned them that our newest flock was coming up on five months of age and could start laying soon. This included our Americanas, the breed that lays eggs in shades that range from green to blue. Sure enough, when we got home, this is what we found in our fridge left by our neighbors.

Also, Jamey made some changes in the chicken house. He rigged up a heat lamp over their water to keep it from freezing so our neighbors wouldn't have to lug water into the chicken house every day. When we got home, he rigged up (he's good at rigging) a light with a timer in the roost to extend their daylight hours. Chickens lay less in the winter because the days are shorter. Our original flock was laying even less than that lately because the girls were molting. Prior to the light in the roost (and the newer flock starting to lay), we were getting only a few eggs a day.

After the FIRST night with the light, we collected 11 (yes, eleven) eggs in one day. Holy eggs. Needless to say, we have started supplying a couple families with eggs again (in addition to our own).

Here is one of the lovely ladies responsible for our gray-green eggs. She's fleeing from me. This newer flock runs away from us. They haven't caught on to the fact that we feed them yummy scraps. It's funny to watch- when I head outside with scraps, the newer flock runs away and the older ones run toward me. I wonder how long it will take them to learn....

The chicken company really messed up our last order. They got our Americanas right, but instead of the Silver-laced Wyandottes, they sent us Golden-laced Wyandottes. That's okay, our original flock are Golden-laced, but we wanted a variety. Also, we ordered only hens. They sent us two roosters- one Wyandotte and this young feller...we aren't sure what he is, but he's very pretty. If you have an idea of what he may be, please let me know. He, too, is afraid if me, so I had trouble getting close for a picture. We feel kind of sorry him. The other roosters bully him a bit, so he ends up flying over the fence to get away and Jamey has to chase him through fields, cow pastures and even some woods to get him back in. Okay, I feel a bit sorry for Jamey, too. If I see he's out, he stays out. My chasing chicken days are over, at least until the baby is out.

Here is our original flock- Marv, the rooster, and hens. As you can see, Marv and one of the girls are in the garden. Don't worry, they are allowed. We let them in to fertilize the soil and stir up and in the straw we've put down.

Here's the extra Wyandotte rooster (not quite as pretty as Marv yet). Well, one of them. As I told you, the chicken company sent us one by mistake. We've adopted another (they are impossible for me to tell them apart) from some friends who said he was chasing their kids. He's fenced in here and has caused no trouble, so he'll stay with us until our next harvest day.

Well, I guess that's the scoop. Everyone seems to be behaving well enough. They all roost together at night even though during the day they seem to form two distinct families with a rooster heading each one. Then, there are the two bachelors who seem to be on the outs most of the time. I guess the two roosters with 'families' don't appreciate when the bachelors try to get a little nookie from their girls.

The next thing I'm watching for is to see if our original hens (2 years old this spring) will turn broody and set on their eggs. My hope is that they hatch babies when I do. Well, except I'm only hatching one. But I'm just fine with that. Pin It

Monday, January 5, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Jigity jig. After two weeks away, we are home. Our two weeks were spent visiting both families, eating, watching cousins dance around the room, playing games, feeling the baby kick, walking through a village of Christmas lights, watching the kids ride on a carousal, playing with my baby niece, taking a bus tour with my Grandma pointing out all the places she lived (to celebrate her 90th birthday), visiting both sets of my grandparents, helping my sister with wedding crafts and choosing pieces of my grandparent's home with siblings and cousins.

We came home with a lot of stuff. Laundry, gifts, antique furniture, old dishes, children's books, tools and glassware. The past two days have been filled with me filling boxes with things that don't hold as much meaning as the things that are taking there place in hutches and cabinets, on walls and along walls. I'm only beginning to think about the laundry and what we will eat this week.

It's so good to be home. To hear our roosters crow (yes, we have more than one- a story for another day), to catch up with our neighbors, to eat at our own table and sleep in our own beds, to pencil in play dates for the kids and to get back to homeschooling. And to look forward to 2009 together, as our own little family.

Happy New Year. Pin It
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