Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Pictures

Merry Christmas!! 

I promised some pictures of the Christmas cookie making, so here they are.  I didn't take as many as I wanted, I was busy cooking stuffs. 
Making banana bread for Christmas dinner. 

Making cookies with Aunt C.

Christmas Eve dinner: Smoked Salmon, summer sausage, smoked gouda,
fruit, chips and nut roll!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

General Tsao's Chicken

KFC has its colonel; the Chinese have their general.

This is my first attempt at making one of my favorite pseudo-chinese (American Chinese) dishes, General Tsao's Chicken. I finally broke down and bought the actual pre-mixed General Tsao's sauce, which is expensive but turned out to be worth it. I used the recipe on the bottle for reference as to how much sauce to use and when in the cooking process to use it.

I think now I know how to mix my own sauce, I don't want to spend almost $5 a bottle too often!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The title says it all: Merry Christmas to all our readers, all our friends, and to all men of good will!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Toddlers, and Corn Bread

I was so happy earlier this week, Thing One actually sat down with us and ate dinner!  Not that he won't sit with us, he's just at that stage where he will only eat if he's dying of starvation.  I have many assurances that he'll grow out of it, and he's not loosing weight or getting sick from it. 

Anyway, I had dropped Nick off at work because I needed to do some grocery shopping, and ended up bringing his dinner.  I had been craving some cornbread all weekend, and picked up a container of cornmeal when I was shopping.  So the first thing I did when I got home was make some cornbread (recipe below).  Once it was in the oven I pulled some chicken out of the freezer and threw it in the microwave.  On the side I made fried green beans with onions and mushrooms.  So very tasty!

The boys and I got to Nick's work and set the food out on the picnic table, and waited for Nick to come out.  While we waited I offered Thing One a piece of cornbread with honey on it.  He'd almost finished it by the time Nick came out, and then he asked for some chicken! (Thing One just came along and drank all my tea! Pest.)  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oreo Love!

I really should write something about Christmas cookies, it being the last week of Advent and I'm going to be making a lot of them this week.  But I'm not.  I'm going to write about how amazing Nick is and the pack of Oreo cookies he brought me the other week when I was feeling bad. 

I forget why I was upset, it was probably the amount of stress and lack of sleep that I've been under.  Not that those have gone away, I was just dealing with them poorly that week.  Well, Nick went grocery shopping on his way home from work one night and when he got home he asked what he could do to help me feel better.  Then he pulled out the Oreo's and asked if they would help. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

More on Chicken

I made this wonderful dish a few weeks ago, and it was very good.  I'm getting better about cooking chicken when we have it in the house. 

I had cooked this package of chicken all at once and put half aside for later (this post is about the later).  I cooked it diced with salt, pepper and garlic.  Thing One ate almost half of the whole pack that night. 

Anyway, the next day I fried a sliced onion and some spinach in butter.   Then I added the rest of the chicken.  I may have had mushrooms, I forget; I know I had black olives.  I stirred in some sour cream and Swiss cheese near the end.  Then I served it over fried potatoes.  It was good.  I would have been better with some more expensive things like goat cheese!  Oh well.  I suppose by the time we can buy goat cheese we'll have changed the name of the blog!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent Reflections

A priest once told me that during Advent we should think on the Four Last Things, namely Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell.  He said that that was part of the symbolism of the Advent candles; that each candle (and its corresponding week) was to to symbolize each one of the Four.  The pink candle, being a much softer and more joyful color, was for Heaven, to remind us of the hope we have and ever joy we will have when we get there.  Father said that it really was fitting to think on death while getting ready for Christmas because to really and fully prepare for the coming of Christ we must be ready for all that death means.

Nick and I have had these thoughts brought home to us this Advent; some of you may know that Nicks grandfather died the day after Thanksgiving.  We miss Grandpa, of course, but we are not saddened by his death.  Nick says the best way to describe Grandpa is that he was like a leaf. He lived his life according to its seasons, and with his face always towards the sun. 

I'm not sure how to wrap this up, so I'll borrow Nicks line: be aware.  Be aware of where you're going and what you're doing. And Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

More for the Holidays.

For some really odd reason the combination of garlic and worcestershire sauce creates one of THE smells of the Christmas season.  The people who came up with chex mix really hit on something with that.  I made some last night for the boys and had two startling realizations: that I've smelled cooking chex mix before, but not in a very long time, and that it is one of the smells that helps define the commercial holiday season. 

I cannot imagine where I would know this smell from, and my guess is that I was under the age of ten when I last smelled it.  I do have a vague memory of my mom making chex mix.  I know at some point she had to ask her mother for the recipe, which I've seen in her recipe box. 

And as far as associating this snack with Christmas, all I can guess is that it had something to do with the commercials of Charlie Brown mixing a bowl of chex and then all of his friends walking in and eating it all in front of his Christmas tree.

I ended up having to call my mom for the recipe since the last time I made it I had one of those official chex mix seasoning packets.  Mom gave me a list of ingredients that we compiled from her memory and what I guessed based on the flavor I remembered. When she found grandma's recipe it turned out we were right. 

My amounts were all a bit wrong, though.  I'd done half a stick of butter to about a cup of worcestershire sauce.  I think I ought to decrease the sauce by half.  And then I had about a tbsp of both garlic and onion powders.  Then I baked it. I started at 350°, and when the chex came out soggy I reduced it to 250°.  That worked better. 

My chex mix isn't perfect, in fact it has a very homemade-holiday feel, and I kinda like that. 

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ah, Sausage!

Just thought I'd make ya'lls mouth water for the heck of it. Sausage definitely makes my morning.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Of Hobbits And Mushrooms

I know a hobbit. Yes, a real, live, breathing hobbit. Her name is Nadine, and she is a good friend of mine. She is a huge sucker for mushrooms, naturally, being a hobbit, and I must have some hobbit blood too considering my penchant for mushrooms and my hairy feet.

Anyhow, we have become mushroom buddies of sorts on Facebook, exchanging mushroom cooking tips, swapping ideas, and generally just making each other hungry by telling mushroom stories. I know, we're weird, but hey! We're Hobbits. Nuf said.

So, anyhow, I found out today that not only had my wife made a wonderful pot roast for me to take to work, she had also had the good sense to purchase chicken and mushrooms at the same time as the roast. My morning was made.

I cut off between a quarter and a third of a stick of butter and melted it into a small wok, so that there was enough butter floating in their to sort of do a deep fry. I then took the chicken, which was sliced into tenders about six to eight inches long, and put four tenders in the pan to fry. I immediately added soy sauce, enough to darken the butter into a sort of dark sauce. I then sprinkled a couple pinches of sugar on top of everything and put the lid on the wok.

The lid is important: it holds the moisture in and makes for really tender chicken. Every time I let the whole thing sit, on went the lid.

After I let the chicken fry for one to two minutes on that side, I sprinkled garlic powder on it and let it fry until I could see the chicken turning white. At that point, I used a fork to carefully turn over each tender individually.

This is the point at which the hobbitness came into play. I got out the pack of baby mushrooms and sliced about eight of them into big slices right into the wok. Then I added a touch more soy sauce and closed the wok, waiting a minute or two longer.

When the chicken was finished frying, and the mushrooms were tender but not slimy, I took the pan off the heat, forked each tender onto a plate individually, and did the same for the mushrooms (I did this mainly so that I was not drowning the chicken on the plate with butter sauce.)

Not to toot my own horn, but it tasted amazing. Hurrah for mushrooms and chicken.

This one is dedicated to my mushroom buddy Nadine. Cook on, friend and be not afraid to fry the fungus!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The "Inconvenience" of Food

The Christmas season is always a ripe time for advertising specialty food items. And so it naturally should, since the season has always been associated with cookies, cakes, hot chocolate, egg nog, ham and turkey, stuffing, and numerous other delectables that only generally make an appearance once a year.

And yet, at the same time, I have noticed a truly disturbing trend amongst this advertising. This trend I suppose has been ongoing for the greater part of the last century, but only now has it seemed to truly strike home at the center of our philosophy here on this blog. I speak of advertising which specializes in creating the illusion of the "inconvenience" of cooking.

The reality of this was brought home to me quite rudely one day last week driving home from work. A commercial for a local bakery came on the radio, and the entire ad time was devoted to the portrayal of cooking as a chore akin to slavery, and that was the reason I should let them do all my holiday cooking for me. I was disgusted and disturbed. Is that the way our society really views cooking and food? If so, we are in sorry shape.

Food is one of God's most fantastic blessings on mankind. It is raw material for an unparalleled kind of creativity in man, an astounding opportunity to shape and to fashion and to continue the Creator's work. We are made in His image and likeness, and He loves to create. Why shouldn't we? He gives us vegetables, we give back ratatouille. He gives us sugarcane, we give back cupcakes. He gives us chickens, and we give back buffalo wings.

Cooking only becomes a chore, in my mind, when it is performed for purely selfish reasons, meaning cooking for its own sake. We are in a way both liberated and limited by food; liberated by the creative outlet provided by food, limited because we must eat to survive. Selfishness then has ample opportunity to creep into the process, especially since nowadays we seem to have tilted much more dramatically towards the perversion of eating to survive. Now we live to eat, rather than eat to live. And yet we don't want to have to cook. Odd conundrum.

I challenge all aspiring chefs out there to come to grips with yourself about the meaning of your cooking and why you do it. It should never be mixed with selfishness. The most satisfied you will ever be is when you cook for others and not just for yourself.

Cooking only becomes a problem when your reasons for doing so sour.

God bless the cook.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Corn Chowder

I've talked before about my corn soup, and I'd like to share a bit more about it.  And this might be kinda short because the boys and I are at the library, and they are running around. 

I've been making bread about once a week, and when I do, I make corn soup.  I generally end up eating the entire pot of soup with half a loaf of warm bread.  How I make the soup depends a lot on what I have in my cupboards.  I always use a can of creamed corn, half an onion, a tablespoon of vinegar and some milk.  I like to use sour cream and chicken flavoring--if I have any. 

This fall I've been experimenting with adding different vegetables.  Not much works.  The fried green peppers added the best flavor, but the peppers themselves became bitter.  Other green vegetables don't work, and if you're going to add tomatoes only use a small handful or you'll get a red soup. 

Last week I added some mashed potatoes.  I know that that sounds really weird, but it worked.  It made a thin potato soup with corn.  It was really good.  It would have been better if I'd had some leeks to add.  I love potato-leek soup.  I did try to get a picture, but my phone has been weird about pictures lately.

Okay, we need to leave the library and go somewhere they can run around. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Tea!

This is going to have to be a quick one, because we have to be out the door in about five minutes!  And we loose our internet access tonight, so my posts will depend on being able to drag the boys and the laptop to a wi-fi hotspot.  I apologize in advance for any inconvenience or lack of reading/cooking material.

This is a tea that I grew up with.  My mother always made it, and it's the perfect thing for a cold winter night!  I have no idea where she got the recipe but I'd like to share it with you.

Russian Tea

1/2C instant tea
1C sugar
2C tang
3oz. lemonade mix
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp cloves

*If you're using tea with lemon then omit the lemonade and decrease the sugar to 3/4C.

Mix all together and store in an airtight container.  Mix 1-2 tbsp into 6oz hot water.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fried Zucchini, and Chicken.

I made dinner! I'm so happy about it that I just have to share it with you; besides it was really good. 

Nick got chicken breasts, mushrooms, zucchini and green beans when we went shopping the other day--his only stipulation was that I leave half of it all for him to cook with.  Except the green beans, those we got for Thing One; he eats them raw (so do I, for that matter).

I cut up my half of the chicken into nugget things slightly larger than how they serve it in Chinese resturants and fried that in a little oil with salt and pepper.  When it was nearly done I blanketed each peice with a generous amount of hummus and topped that with slivered almonds. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Welcome to Advent!  It's time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ!  And I think Nick and I, and his family, are taking it a bit more seriously this year.  Nick's grandfather died on the last day of the liturgical year, and we have been thinking a lot about what it means to die a "happy death," and what the coming of Christ is really about; and it's a strangely fitting thing to think on at the beginning of Advent.

Grandpa was an extraordinary man; and I think he died much like he lived--joyfully.  I have never heard of anyone more ready to meet his Lord than Grandpa was.  I don't really know much about him, and I only met him twice, but everyone says he was wonderful, and that he was one of the holiest men they knew.  I do know that his was a very fulfilled life.  He lived as a child of God should, and there was nothing more he needed--or need do when he died.  His life on earth was filled and he was ready to move on to something better. 

That's why I didn't post anything on Friday.  We had gotten the news that he was on his deathbed, and we threw some things in the car and left.  Nick wanted to get there in time to say goodbye before Grandpa died.  And he did.  We spent all day Friday driving there, and all day Saturday driving back.  But Nick got to see him, and that's all that mattered.  And Saturday night, after we'd gotten back and gotten the call that Grandpa had died, we sat down and raised our glasses in his honor.  I think most of the family has. 

So here is the next drink recipe, and in honor of Grandpa, I would recommend adding a shot of rum!  And Grandpa, please pray for us who have yet to finish our journey.

Fall Drink

2C orange juice
2C milk
2pint orange sherbet
4 bananas

Combine all in blender and serve topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips.  

*I haven't actually tried this one yet, but I've always thought it sounded good.  And something like rum, or triple sec, would be a perfect addition.  The paper said this makes 9 servings.   

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Autumn, Winter, Holidays and Beverages!

It's that wonderful time of year when the weather turns cold (sometimes miserable), and people drag out the fuzzy sweaters and turn on the Christmas music.  Right now I have "Winter Wonderland" running through my head (although I absolutely refuse to listen to the music until after tomorrow).  And the "holiday blends" and seasonal drinks at the coffee shop are some of my favorite things. 

I admit that I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with enough food to write about; my knee has been giving me some trouble and it's been hard to cook food the way that I like to.  It's getting better, but I haven't cooked anything worth writing about for a while (tonight I made mac&cheese).  So it's time to pull out my recipe book and look at what I have for seasonal drinks!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Blender Saga Continues!

I'm very glad last week is over, and the Christmas Bazaar is as well.  I stressed so much about getting ready, and I still didn't get all I wanted done.  Oh well.  The Bazaar went about as well as could be expected in the current economy.  I had a table in a small room in the very back of the church hall, so I didn't get a lot of customers.  But I did alright.  Everyone who stopped by got a laugh from the fact that the priest I was raffling was made to look like their parish priest; most of them bought raffle tickets because of it.  Nick dropped me off in the morning, and then took the boys over to his parents house.  He and his dad apparently had a good time talking about stuff.  Everyone had fun; and I'm glad we don't have to do it again until next year!

The other day I was going through all of the things that people have given us because of something they've read on this blog; and I realized just how blessed we are to have such good friends.  I've told you about the fondue set (that we plan to use again during the holidays) and the bread machine from Katherine; but I don't think I've mentioned the lovely salt and pepper shakers that Nicole gave us.  They are a set of two peas in a pod.  They are so darling;  I've pictured them before, and I will again so keep an eye out for them! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home! And Chicken Fajitas.

We've been home for a few days now, and I finally feel like things are getting back to normal.  I still have to email all the pictures I took to my family, but otherwise, life is coming along like it used to.  

My craft fair is this weekend, and the drawing for the raffle prizes will be that afternoon.  You don't need to be present to win, but you can't win if you don't have a ticket.  Just to re-cap:  First Prize is a Nativity Play Set, with the Holy Family, Wise Men, a shepherd and an Angel; Second Prize is a Catholic Priest; and Third Prize is an Angel. 

Tickets are priced as follows:  one for $1.00, seven for $5.00, or fifteen for $10.00.  There is a handy button on the left side bar if you wish to purchase them online, otherwise you may email me for other options. 

I made chicken fajitas for dinner last night.   I needed something that was fast and easy; I was taking dinner to Nick work.  I had gone shopping for the first time
since coming home.  I had found a package of ground chicken on sale and decided that that was what we  were having for dinner.  I didn't know what I'd make until I actually had the pan out, but they turned out well. 

I fried the chicken with an onion, garlic, salt, paprika and sage.  Then I stirred in some sour cream.  That's all.  We spooned it onto tortillas, and had a salad on the side. 

Tonight I made fried rice, with onions, carrots and broccoli.  Simple, fast and filling.  The boys and I are inhaling it.

I had planned on making some cookies tonight, but I don't think that will happen.  My knee went out on me, and when I finally called for some advice I was told that I should not walk for the next few days.  I'll try, but with two small boys that just isn't practical.  So we'll see how that goes. 

I did say that we are learning Italian, the thing is it's an all audio program, so I'm not learning how to spell anything!  Oh well, I'll get that some other day.

Ciao!  Zizi

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Finale!

This is going to be short, because we have to start packing soon.  We are leaving to go home today! We've all had a very good week together, and made a lot of new memories.  And now we are ready to go back to our daily routine, and our wonderful husbands.  So here are the pictures of our last days; and next week I should be back to writing about food.

Down in Pappy's man-cave, playing with trains!

Thing One and Thing Two would like us to get them some cats.

Then they can go cat-fishing whenever they want.

Dropping the uncles off at the fire-station.

"When I grow up, I want to be a fireman!"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Reunion--Day Seven!

He's been having the time of his life!
Well, we're surviving each other.  We are starting to get kind of tired, though.  This is the longest that my younger sister and I have been away from our husbands, and back home, since we moved out.  And we have underestimated some of the changes that have happened in that time.  Not that it's bad, we've just forgotten how much energy it takes to be around this many people for this long.  So please forgive me if this post is rather short, and if I don't get around to posting anything on Friday. 

I thought I'd give you the link (follow this link) for the recipe that my sister used for the pork chops we had on Saturday.  She had to alter it somewhat, as Mom didn't have all of the spices that it called for, and she was doing twice as many chops as the recipe says.  But I thought they were really good.  I've come to like my food a little salty, and I thought the pork chops were about perfect.  As sides we had cheesy mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas. 

They were playing this game to see who could jump the
highest.  Yes, that is a lint roller. 
I made fried rice for myself for dinner tonight.  And, as my mom has grape seed oil, rice vinegar, sunfflower seeds, garlic cloves, olive oil and a green pepper, I added those to the onion and soy sauce that I generally use.  My sister and I had bought some avocados when we went shopping for the week, and I chopped one and put it in after I had turned the heat off.  It's good, although I would recommend light olive oil.  The dark oil is about the only thing I can taste. 

Thing Two is at my elbow crying for some food and some mommy time.  The poor boy might be all funned-out. 

Ciao!  Zizi

Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Reunion--Days Four and Five!!

I was a little out of it on Friday after my appointment with my mom's Muscular/Skeletal Pain Therapist, and didn't take any pictures that day.  Which is okay, nothing really happened; we were all still a little travel weary, and the kids were too wired, for any of us to really do anything. 

By Saturday we were more on top of things.  We actually made lunch, and then my younger sister and I went out to get a few things for the weekend.  We took our youngest brother with us, and he was sweet enough to buy us some candy.  We also stopped at a coffee shop to get coffee like we always used to do.  It's not the same. 

Saturday evening we just sort of chilled and did girl things with our youngest sister.  It started with a conversation about hair, and me realizing that if I wanted my hair to look good, I'd have to spend more time on it than I do now.  So I curled my hair.  And then (and Mom had asked me to do this before she left!) I worked on my youngest sister's hair.  Auntie M is growing up, and she decided she wanted something different.  My sisters and I do have a habit of making these change-of-life hair decisions when our parents are gone.  Sorry, Dad. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Family Reunion--Days One and Two!

My sisters and I, and our first-born children.
It is my grandmother's seventy-fifth birthday in a few days, and my parents decided to fly home for the celebration.  I was to come and watch the kids for the week; and my sisters would come and hang out and we'd make a party of it.  However, we have no plans to drape the house in crepe paper and spaghetti. 

My next few posts will most likely be a series of picture posts detailing our adventures.  This first picture was taken at my place, before we drove to Mom's and Dad's.  It is a re-creation of a picture that was taken almost thirty years ago, of our mom, her sister and sister-in-law all nursing their first-born children. 
The bottom of the Blue Ridge Valley, VA. 
I took this one for my brother, Joe, who is stationed in Okinawa; and he's coming across as being a little homesick.  He's so young still, and discovering that the Marines are not all Blood-n-Glory, that someone has got to wash the dishes.  I love the Marines, and I'm so proud of my brother for what he's doing.  He just needs to "feel the love" that we all have for him.  Ooo-Rah! Joe!

These are my sisters babies.  They were born a month apart at the end of spring and this is the first time they've met.  We had stopped for lunch along the way, and the thermostat was broken in the restaurant and we were all freezing. 
Thing Two loves hats!
Pappy loves to buy toys for the grand kids!
There has been so much fun and excitement, it's almost been too much.  Thing One has been too busy playing to eat, and he hasn't slept so well either.  But then, who sleeps well their first night in a new place?  Well, all that much fun led to an inevitable crash . . . .
His youngest uncle was so wonderful, and sat with him, and read to him, and told him stories until he fell asleep on Granny's bed.  The poor boy slept for three hours! He's not napped at all for weeks, and not that long for months.  I was so happy!
The best part so far has been picking up the uncles at the firehouse, where they volunteer as junior fire-fighters.  Thing Two loved that there was so much space to run around in, and hats to put on, and things to point at. 

But it's only the end of the second day, and we've got so much planned--there is even a hint of leaf piles and roasted marshmallows!

And yes, I will be working on the Magi for my Nativity Scene while I am here.  Let me re-cap that for those who've missed it:  my Etsy shop will be on vacation to participate in a craft fair at church, and I will be doing a raffle at the same time.  The first prize is a Nativity Play Scene (thus the aforementioned Magi), second prize is a Priest and third prize is an Angel.  Pictures of them are in my previous posts, and more will follow.  I've got a button on the side bar here so you can purchase tickets online, and the prices and options are in the drop down menu.  So, that's all  of that. 

I have a chiropractic appointment in the morning (courtesy of Mom) and we get to babysit the granddaughter all day.  There should be some awesomely cute pictures by the time I post again on Monday.

Ciao! Zizi

P.S. Mom, you're going to have to come home to get your copies of these pictures ;P

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Joy of Parenting, or Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches.

Being a little boy!
The other day my sister said that she was creating a new extreme sport: Letting your Kids Cry Themselves to Sleep.  Yeah . . . .  I was once told (I think during marriage prep) that one of the purposes of marriage was to help your spouse get to heaven; I posit that children are the fail-safe.  I love my boys; I practically adore them.  And there are times when they frustrate me, like now.  I’m dutifully not noticing how Thing One is disobeying me.  I’ve put him in bed four times and carried through with a threatened spanking.  And he’s still up.  This time I’m not going to bother putting him back to bed.  Thing Two had stopped crying, and opening that door would start him up again; and Thing One would just get right back up.  He won’t go to sleep until Nick comes home and says “goodnight” to him-- sometimes not even then.
Not that I’m complaining about my children—alright, I am.  Sometimes it’s just that hard.  I guess I’m what I’m not complaining about is being a parent.  I love being a mother.  It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of being, and doing.  And I’ve realized that just because you’re an adult, or have children, doesn’t mean that you’re done growing up. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reflections on Zizi-ology

I suppose I ought to offer some more philosophical reflections.  We’ve had Food Pantry Feasts up for a year now; although we’ve not posted that entire time, we are back to it now—and I think a year of doing something somewhat successfully is cause for reflection and celebration. 
Getting ready for his first motorcycle show!
If I had to give it an average, I’d say that  at least   once   a   day   Nick says,   “I have an idea. . . .”   He is always coming up with great and wonderful things, and I love listening to him.  Even if most of his thoughts don’t pan out the way he’d imagined them, he is dreaming big.  Every once in a while I have ideas too. 
One of the ideas that I’ve had, and been thinking about for a while, was writing a cook book.  I reasoned that I’ve cooked enough food, and developed enough of my own recipes, and cooked long enough while being poor, that I could write a fairly decent cookbook about cooking good meals on a budget. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Promised Land, Err. . . Tortillas!

The Holy Family!  The shepherds and wise men will come.
You could be playing with them!
Here is the promised post about tortillas, since our internet access depends upon my ability to get to a wi-fi hotspot; I'm just writing and posting in quick sucession right now.  Oh! and the Holy Family the Nativity Scene is ready.  Buy some raffle tickets and you could win them!

The Amazing Omnivorous Child has been eating tortillas like there was nothing else in the house.  And then we were traveling, and that's hard on little people, so he only ate tortillas.  I decided that it was too expensive to buy them at the rate that he's eating them.  Besides, if I make them I can control how much sugar they have and maybe even put carrots in them (carrots are his new all-time favorite food).

When I was visiting my parents sometime last year I helped my mom make tortillas, so I knew that it was possible to do at home, and even had a general idea of how to do it.  So I called Mom to get her recipe. 

Warm, fresh tortillas!
The tortillas came out more like flat bread than tortillas; next time I'll take out the baking powder see what that does.  The recipe also has too much flour, so when you do it either add more liquid or take out some flour (I suggest starting with half cup less flour). 

Have fun!


4 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 tsp oil
1 milk
½ c water

Mix all the dough together and let sit for 20 minutes.  Form into small balls (about the size of a small child's fist) and let sit for another 10 minutes.  Preheat griddle to Hot.  Roll out one at a time as flat as you can and fry in light oil for about 30 seconds on each side.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pie Crust, A Culinary Extraordinaire

I went to two stores and the only cloves
I could find were whole.
Why is it that pie crusts are so very difficult?  I know that they are considered one of the greater home culinary accomplishments; and I always have trouble with them.  This time I can even tell you what went wrong, and how I managed to fix it.  But I still don’t understand what makes them hard to get right. 

Leaf shaped doughnuts!
It was my father-in-law’s birthday over the weekend and I’d agreed to help my mother-in-law make the pies he requested instead of cake.  Mom gave me a large can of packed pumpkin and two cans of evaporated milk (I used the recipe off the back of the can, so I won’t reproduce it here, I will only say that I did cut out ½ cup of sugar without any effect on the taste), and I took them home. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blender Happiness

My handy-dandy, portable
blender shelf!
A few weeks ago I broke down and bought a blender.  Now, I know, we are trying to keep costs down and help you to do so too; so we've avoided getting a blender.  They are ridiculously expensive, I have trouble finding any for under $20.00.  So getting one was a big thing.  Although, I have to be honest with you--I only paid $2.50 for it! 

I found it at Goodwill, and it's almost worth every penny I paid for it.  And, with a little coaxing, it does the job.  Still, I am happy I bought it; I've been doing a lot with it.  I've made hummus! and baby food! 

The hummus was a bit of a project.  I ended up boiling my chick peas for three days, and then I had to add much water and oil during the blending process.  I didn't have any tahini, so I used peanut butter; and much garlic powder, some paprika and salt.  The peanut butter didn't affect it in any way except to add a small peanut taste--which I assume the tahini does anyway.  I pureed it in two batches and then blended them together so there was a consistant taste.  It turned out really well!  I froze half of the batch until I needed it.  I loved to eat it with a little mustard on a tortilla--that was a great snack!  I should buy more chick peas. . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sigh, Illness Recovery--Ugh!

Pure Potential!
Well, I did it again.  I'm so used to not having meat that I completely forgot about the package of chicken until it went bad.  Oh, well.   There was a virus of some kind going around, and it seemed to hit me the worst.  Or maybe it only felt that way because I'm the "mom" and I keep the rhythm going in the house.  The boys and I all got mild fevers and sore throats, and I had the mother of all headaches.  Nick was so wonderful when I was collapsed and came home from work twice to start the world moving again!

Second Prize! Buy Raffle Tickets
Win a Priest!
Now I'm trying to get things back into some kind of order.  Not much cleaning got done last week and I've a lot to catch up with.  And I'm trying to get the boys out of the house so they can get some fresh air and burn off some of this pent up energy they've developed.  So now it's ten-thirty at night, and dinner still isn't made.  And I'm woefully behind on my dolls.  I'd planned to make the St. Joseph figure for the Nativity Scene tonight, but there was too much to do.  But my dishes are mostly all done, and half of the laundry is clean--and put away! 

I realized something, to be a true domestic goddess, one has to be able to fix her own vacuum cleaner.  Even if she doesn't have to, she should be able.  I took the detachable brush apart to see why it wasn't working; I'm not sure I ever found out why, but somehow I fixed it.  Now the vacuum just has to charge, and I can eventually do my floors!

Do you think it's odd that I write about dinner and then post it in time for brunch?  I just realized that that's what I do.  If I include a recipe then you've got some time to think about it before you have to start dinner, so I guess that's good.  Maybe I should do more stuff about cookies, and breakfast foods? 

Random, cute kids!
I need to go mash some potatoes; so here is a really cute picture to compensate for the length, and the lack of a recipe!  Ciao, all!


Saturday, October 15, 2011


I'm sorry that I didn't post anything on Friday; both boys had had fevers earlier this week, and on Thursday it was my turn. By Friday I was feeling better, but there was much to do to get things back in order, and I didn't feel like getting on the computer at all. I'm almost completely better now (the only thing left is a sore throat), but I don't really have a topic to write about. So I will post one of the things I wrote back in April that never made it up. 
The Amazing Flying Child is getting another tooth (groaning and moaning). It only seems to bother him when I'm busy, and at night. So not only can I not get anything done, I can't sleep either. And Nick woke up yesterday with a mild fever; he feels rotten. We think that might be due to the weather changing. So of course I decide to not clean anything and spend the day making tortillas and donuts. (The tortilla recipe will come next.)

When Katherine gave me her bread machine she included a copy of The Cooks Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking by Jennie Shapter. The first day I got it I looked through it just to see what it had. I admit that I'm surprised at some of the things you can make in a bread machine. My machine has a setting for jams and jellies! Anyway, I was looking through and tagged a few recipes that either looked interesting or were things I've always heard of and wanted to try, like Hot Cross Buns. I'm going to try those on my birthday so they'll be ready for Easter.

One of the recipes that I found was for donuts. Now, I've tried a variety of fritters and funnel cakes, but I've never really tried donuts. And I've been craving donuts. I'm still feeding The Amazing Flying Child (part of the reason I never sleep) and I still get the weirdest cravings. Because I'm not pregnant I don't feel justified in begging to have each and every one filled. But the donuts, for the past month. So I decided to do the only thing I could. I'd make them!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adventures in Orange

The smells of Autumn!
The continuing story of my pumpkins! But first I must share with you my latest non-food related project: I'm selling raffle tickets. I make dolls and sell them here, and I am participating in a Christmas Bazaar at church this year. In the past, when I've done craft fairs, I've always had a raffle to go with it. The prizes this year are a Nativity Scene, a Priest and an Angel. Tickets are $1.00 a piece, and I will have a button up soon so you can buy them. Or you can buy a doll from my shop, that will come with a handful of tickets also.  

Back to my love of orange; with the first pumpkin I made pumpkin bread. I didn't have a proper recipe for it, but it was simple; I took my recipe for Banana Bread and substituted pumpkin for the bananas, and added the standard blend of spices for a pumpkin pie (cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg--I don't have cloves yet). It was good, and very moist. If we'd had cream cheese or whipped cream it would have been perfect. It was good enough to eat plain and cold, too.

I promised Mary-Kate I would say something about the pumpkin seeds; so here goes:


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Over the River, and Through the Woods

Pumpkin Buttermilk Scones
I've been buying sugar pie pumpkins over the last few weeks. Right now I have seeds roasting in the oven, and pumpkin meat in the blender. Not that I really knew what to do with a sugar pie pumpkin when I bought it; but I decided that this year I would do the pumpkin thing from scratch. So I did what any of you would have done—I googled it. After looking here, here and there (I think) I had a general idea of what to do with my pumpkin. 

What you want to do is cut your pumpkin in half and take the seeds and veins out. I washed my seeds and set them aside to dry so I could roast them later. Then you will place your pumpkin—cut side down--on a baking sheet or shallow cake pan and bake it for a while. The time will depend on how hot your oven is and how big your pumpkin was. The pumpkins I bought were about the size of Thing One's head and baked for about thirty minutes. After the thing comes out of the oven and cools down, you scrape the meat out (or remove the skin, whatever your preference is) and puree it. With both of my pumpkins I had over-baked and had to add water while I blended it. After all that, what you do with your pumpkin is only limited by your imagination!
Fresh Pumpkin

The first think I did with my pumpkin was to make pumpkin pancakes. I'm sorry I didn't get pictures (and I'll try to remember to get some this time before I post this!). They were good, if a little bland. I just added about 2/3 cup pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg to my standard pancake recipe. I'm under the impression that the bland flavor came from the pumpkin itself. They do say that a standard can of pumpkin had additives like butternut squash that enhance the pumpkin flavor. Who knew? Anyway; the pancakes were good with just some butter, and maybe some sugar sprinkled lightly on top.