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!

Tortillas

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.

--Zizi

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!

--Zizi

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Donuts

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:

PUMPKIN SEEDS!

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.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Steak!

Ready to Roll!
          
We had steak today!  It’s the third or fourth time in as many weeks that we’ve had steak.  Albeit, they are comparatively small steaks;  only about three or four ounces at the most—they are about five inches in diameter and just less than half an inch thick.   But then (and for those of us who received “health class” in the early 90’s), the food pyramid does state that the average human should only have three to four ounces of meat per day.

          So, we are trying to eat less food.  Or, at least, that is my subtle intention.  I have noticed on the occasions when we do go out to eat (and I hope my readers understand that there is nothing personal in what is about to follow) the people I see who are overweight are always stuffing themselves with gross amounts of food.  I do believe in the intrinsic goodness of food, but really—a 15oz. steak, with a mountain of mashed potatoes, and fries, with an overflowing bowl of ice cream, and brownies!   That strikes me as a bit.
          I remember a vacation I took several years ago to visit my grandparents (in MN), and I was impressed by their eating habits.  They rose before dawn (I could never get up early enough to have breakfast with them) and had a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee; at nine am they had a muffin and a cup of coffee; at lunch they had two sandwiches—roast beef or tuna salad on homemade bread (I think I’ve written about Grandma’s bread before?) and a glass of water; at three pm a few cookies or a bar and a cup of coffee; at six pm one slice of roast beef (or meatloaf, or a steak), a small spoonful of mashed potatoes (or scalloped or boiled) and a small spoonful of green beans (or corn or peas); and finally at nine pm a glass of red wine.  And they have never in their lives had a second serving of anything.  However, Grandma does have problems from not getting enough of the right kinds of fat.
          Point being?  There is a limit to both how much and how little one should have of things.  I mentioned the food pyramid earlier; however, I think man is too individual a creature to have just one standard for everyone.  I could do well with less of the required amount of carbs and more of the fruits, vegetables and meat than they say.  But we’re still poor, and carbs are cheaper than fruit, veggies or meat.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thing One and Thing Two

It’s raining, and the younger boy just woke up from his nap.  I’ll be right back….
Okay, maybe “right back” wasn’t quite accurate, but it still wasn’t as long as I’d thought it’d be.  I fed him, walked around a bit, cuddled him and cleaned up the living room before putting a movie on for them.  My mom likes to tell me that when my sister and I were this age we watched Dumbo after lunch, every day, for about two years. 
They are both going through the “terrible twos” even though the younger is only one and a half.  I think it’s because they are so close, and some distinctions are getting blurred.  Thing One has decided that he doesn’t need naps anymore (except that he had a two hour one yesterday evening) and Thing Two is picking up the sentiment. 
Anyway, the idea was to start by telling you that the nicknames we had had for them are no longer applicable.  And then he woke up and threw off my grove.   Oh well.  I think I picked it up at another point well enough. 
Playing Angry Birds, live!
Thing One, formerly known as The Amazing Omniverous Child, has reached the point where he doesn’t want to eat anything—except when he starts starving, then he’d eat us out of house and home.  But he still likes food.  He has taken to pulling out all my pots and pans and “cooking” his duplo blocks.  He’ll go on for hours cooking and eating, and feeding the rest of us.  The other day he took my empty coffee cup and pretended to pour himself, and Nick and I, cups of coffee.  He did that for an entire hour.  And he’s very intense when he plays; everything is real.  He has a very powerful imagination. 
So proud of himself.
Thing Two, formerly known as The Amazing Flying Child, has started walking.  It happened about two months after his first birthday, and it took about a week for him to make the transition.  Now he walks everywhere and climbs on everything.  Right now he is climbing off of the chair at the table.  He’d climbed up to see what I was doing and if there was anything to drink.  Thing Two, naturally, likes to do whatever his brother does.  So when Thing One “cooks” Thing Two also has a pot, spoon and blocks.  His pot of food sound suspiciously like a motorcycle, though. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Story of the Pinchy-Rabbit

I recently found an article, written by one of my mom's cousins, on Facebook.  The whole thing is describing an episode that he witnessed between my sister and I when we were about three and four years old.  You should read his article here.  


Erin, Dad and I
1987
I do not remember this happening, and neither does my sister.  It is the sort of thing that we would have done, though.  I don't think that Erin ever knew what I meant when I called her a "pinchy-rabbit,"  and she still can't tell you what it is.  I won't. 

I will, however, tell you some things about a pinchy-rabbit.  First of all, Erin was not the only one; everyone has either met a pinchy-rabbit, or has been one.  I'm even beginning to see some pinchy-rabbit tendencies in my older son.  And I must guiltily admit to waiting for Erin to have her own pinchy-rabbit. 

Josh ended his article with the thought that, whatever the pinchy-rabbit is, it must be bad.  I do feel obligated to qualify that.  How bad the pinchy-rabbit is really depends upon your point of view--or rather, your age.   I imagine if you are older than, oh say, twelve encountering a pinchy-rabbit is nothing more than annoying.  But for a three year old, a pinchy-rabbit is probably right up there with ginormous dogs and nightmares.  I know that those three were among the worst five things of my childhood (the other two being traffic and the babysitter). 

That's as much as I'm willing to divulge of the pinchy-rabbit right now, maybe I'll draw up some pictures later.  I do think that the original definition of "pinchy-rabbit" might evolve over the next few years; it's too cute to not use as a nick-name!

I'll have more stories and recipes for you later, now I have to go take care of my own pinchy-rabbits. Ciao!
--Zizi