Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept 29, 2013::hello from the backroad

Just dropping by to share some of our adventures in the last week or so.

Brice and I have begun reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series with Little. House in the Big Woods. I live to read about the laying in of food in the first chapters of the book. I would have loved to play house among the piles of pumpkins in the attic. The big kids always seem to make their way to the room where we wre reading aloud. I think we all love the Little House. 

After reading the part about Ma making butter, we tried our hand at our own. What fun!

Captain America still makes a daily appearance around these parts.

Our dear friend, Lisa, paid us a visit last weekend. It was so good to see a familiar face, especially one we miss so very much!! Looking forward to more exciting company next weekend.

We attended the Koh-Koh-Mah and Foster Encampment and watched a reenactment of a battle from the French and Indian War.

I am working on a plan for how to paint this place when all the wallpaper comes down. Work in progress...

The Indiana Bicentennial Train Exhibit visited Kokomo.

Reeves learned to play Magic at the local game store. Big Bang Theory hard!

We attended a video taping of a local tv show and watched a concert with Shiny Penny. Check 'me out on iTunes. Remember them. I think they are going to go far. Talented kids.

And my favorite adventure, the VW Cruise In! I even picked up a treasure at the swap meet for my collection. 

Until next time...happy adventuring!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sept 18, 2013::still

My intention this year was to post something here daily to mark our year of "home."

My struggles to post lately reflect my inner struggle to pinpoint my place here in our new home and new hometown. Nothing to worry about. I came with very few of my former responsibilities, so my personal place in this community can now evolve into something new for me. That's exciting. 

My inner voice is telling me to be still and listen instead of pushing to speak. So, I will not be posting here daily. I will post, but it will be when I have something I truly want to share, not just to fill a calendar. Fall is typically a very creative time for me, so we'll be together here again soon.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Sept 15 & 16, 2013::pumpkin time

Oh, it's pumpkin time and that makes me so happy!

I am not a fan of the Starbucks pumpkin concoction. 
No, It's the pure, orange, smashy, real deal that I love. 
I use it off and on throughout the year, but in the fall, it's a staple in everyday cooking.

The October issue of Food Network Magazine is speaking my language in their insert cookbook listing 50 ways with canned pumpkin...inspiration!

I put it in smoothies, pancakes, cookies, even chili. 
This year, it's going in applesauce, scones, refrained beans, hummus, and cornbread. 
Great fiber and vitamins. We even feed it to the dogs and they love it! 

Remember what happened when you fed your baby too many carrots?
I may be orange by December!
It'll be yummy getting there, though!

P.S. A very happy birthday to my you always...


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sept 13 & 14, 2013::weekend update

Ended the week with...

A women's summit on the IUK campus. So great to meet so many of Kokomo's women and talk about the needs of women in the community.

Visited the apple orchard again for a last stash of Honeycrisp apples.

Visited Target for a special purchase. How else would he spend his allowance?

Still not feeling up to snuff, so this is short and sweet. Looking forward to some beautiful fall weather coming up this week. Leaves are changing before our eyes. Can't wait to see an Indiana fall.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sept 12, 2013::new obsession

Brice announced today that he will be Captain America when he is an adult. He will eat lots of good food and get strong enough to lift a motorcycle.

Instead of plans for Titanics, he's dreaming up bigger and better shields and better "dresses." He talks of his plans nonstop. 

One obsession traded for another...on to new learning.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sept 11, 2013::roses

I do not have a green thumb. Both of my parents do, but that talent skipped over me. Really, though, I should just own up to the fact that I find the repetition boring. I love planning and planting, but the constant weeding, watering, and upkeep is beyond my interest. I would love to take a master gardener class, but would I use it? 

When we bought this house, I was a little disappointed that there were so many rose bushes. they are beautiful, but oh boy, roses take work. They all appeared to have finished blooming, and I wondered if we should just dig them up and give them away instead of allowing them to die a long death under my neglect. 

When my parents visited, my dad gave me a lesson in pruning and within a week they were blooming again! Pruning, I can handle. Seeing new buds, I can enjoy. 

I still don't have a clue how to prep them for winter or fertilize them or help them survive this heat wave, but I have a start. They are doing ok by luck right now and I am growing attached to them. Maybe I can nurture them and my own green thumb.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sept. 9 & 10, 2013::birthdays

The last two days have been fun for our Reeves. 

Yesterday, we joined some local homeschoolers at the park, where Reeves met a kindred spirit who loves Yugioh, Minecraft, and all manner of techie pastimes just as much as he does. So happy he has found someone here to share his interests and friendship.

Last night, during a visit from his new friend, and his sweet mom, we celebrated Reeves birthday early with a two layer rice krispie treat cake, complete with buttercream icing and sour nerds for sprinkles. A sweet tooth's dream!!

Presents before bed, and a day off today to try them out, complete with root beer floats at dinner...I think this birthday has been pretty sweet (pun intended). 

For so many years, I have noted that Reeves seemed so much older than his years. All of a sudden, eleven sounds so old. Is he really eleven? Wow!

Happy Birthday my soft spoken, soft hearted, too cool for school son. 
Namaste, Dear Boy

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sept 8, 2013::sick leave

Brice lovingly shared his cold with me.

Taking a sick day. I think I've banked a few over the years. 


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sept 6 & 7, 2013::Repost, Embree's Purse

Today, Embree said she was in the market for a larger bag so she could keep more things with her like she did when she carried a big purse. I was reminded of one of my favorite blog posts of years past.

Originally posted 9/28/09. Embree was 10 years old. Sweet!
I have neglected to post recently because I have neglected to take pictures recently and think I have to add pictures whenever I post. A vicious cycle. Today, I have something to write about that is truly amazing to me. Embree asked to borrow one of my purses. I wondered if she planned to use it as a book bag or something…no…it’s her new purse. After watching her lug it around all over town today I asked her if she would tell me what in the world she was carrying around. Here’s the list…as she gave it to me…seriously!

A kitten bottle (a real nursing bottle she bought at tractor supply Saturday)
A stuffed cat
An unopened spool of ribbon
Two jingly cat toys
A squeaky dog toy
A Ziploc back filled with more ribbon, cat food, a jingly bell on a string, a mouse on a string, a bottle of water
A book about dogs & cats
Her Epipen
A hand mirror
A Neopet dinosaur from Burger King
A hairbrush
Two pair of oobi eyes
A pinwheel
A small plastic doggie with bowl
A ring with a cat on it
A big bouncy ball
A tiny, heart-shaped journal
An orange pencil eraser
A hair bow
A target card with $4
Her library card
3 $1 bills, 6 quarters, 10 nickles, 13 dimes, 16 pennies, and 1 Canadian penny

When asked why she carries all this stuff…”In case I need it.”


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sept 5, 2013::take what you need

You've seen the flyers for roommates, babysitters, couches for sale...the ones where you rip off a small tab at the bottom to contact someone about goods or services you need.

Today, the Unitarian Universalist page on Facebook, I Am UU, posted a similar flyer.

These are based on the UU seven principles. Even if you are not UU, I hope there is something here that you can use right now.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sept 4, 2013::Tarte Tatine

I understand, now, why my mom seemed to become a better cook whenever we moved to a new town. She would spend the months before she really got involved in a new place in the kitchen to occupy herself.

This is the first time, maybe since we were married, that I haven't held at least a part time job outside the home. No night classes or after dinner rehearsals. No grading papers, other than my own children's. No making costumes, building sets, or wrangling a cast of 100.

My focus, right now at least, is narrowly focused on home. Now, that's fine. I am not complaining. I am sure I will wrap myself up in some new business soon, but right now I am happy to have a little extra time to pursue some personal goals and hone in on our homeschool plan.

One such goal is to become a better baker. I have always loved baking, but for some reason my results have always been a little clunky. I know part if it is my reluctance to bake with bleached, all purpose flour. I am hesitant to use even unbleached all purpose flour, but that trade off leaves me with bricks instead of cookies and bread instead of pie crust.

So, I am trying to master some of the techniques using unbleached AP flour, so that I can then test changes in the recipes with either whole wheat or gluten free flours. Knowing the beast first will help in modifying the beast...that's the assumption anyway. We'll see.

Today's project, Tarte Tatin. 

I have avoided Tarte Tatin for awhile now. Maybe it's the pie crust. Maybe it's the French name. Maybe it's the flip at the end that could bring it all crashing down ( or as my family calls it, the "flip and cuss.")

Once again, my guide, Mark Bittman, new what he was talking about. Maybe I can cook everything! Clean plates and full tummies all around.

Find his recipe in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sept 3, 2013::I love the fact...

I love the fact that Reeves wanted to do tomorrow's math tonight at 10:00pm, even if I was headed for bed.

I love the fact that, yesterday, Embree decided she would, for the first time ever, open a cookbook and make cupcakes for the family...solo.

I love the fact that Brice is teaching himself to read based on his need to know information to further his interests.

Homeschooling, like all parenting duties, can be a thankless job. It can hard to see measurable progress in the heat of the moment. There are days, though, when I remember to watch for the sweet moments, when I am just certain that this is exactly where I need to be and how I should be spending my life.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Sept 2, 2013::how to cook

I really like Mark Bittman!

If you have never heard of Mark Bittman, and you enjoy cooking, I recommend his work. I have learned so much from his collection of books.

Food Matters
VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00
Kitchen Express
How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
How to Cook Everything The Basics
How to Cook Everything

...just to name a few

Honestly, I have never had a recipe of his fail in my kitchen. That says a great deal about both his writing and his testing. His recipes are simple and so easy to follow, but they are written in such a way that a cook can make any recipe his or her own with simple variations.

In early August Apple offered the app for How to Cook Everything for free. I have checked that book out at the library so many times and just love it. so I tried the app. It is so thorough and easy to use, I would go back and pay the full price if I had to. I have used it more than any app I have ever downloaded and I have NEVER had a failed recipe. I am considering buying the app for How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

One of the best features is the illustrated kitchen basics tutorials. I am using them to help the kids learn knife and prep skills, dough techniques, and basic cooking essentials.

Can you tell I am smitten? I thought about writing this post the week I downloaded the app, but decided to wait and see if I was still as enamored after the initial joy.Yes, I must say it has become a daily go to in meal planning and basic recipes.

Whether you have Apple technology to download this app,or if you can get it at the library or on Kindle, I encourage you to give Mark Bittman's work a look. He's a great teacher, author, and chef.

Below is a recipe from the app for muffins that we make at least once a week. I have substituted whole wheat flour with great success. My guess is that a nice gluten free baking mix would do just fine. I have used coconut oil in place of the butter and nondairy milks and raw milk in place of regular milk. I often use blueberries, as they have been in season and are a family favorite, but I have added cheese and finely chopped vegetables as well. This morning I made a batch with dark chocolate chips and some frozen sour cherries. They were delicious, as every batch has been. These are certainly our go-to now.

Enjoy and check out Mark Bittman!


Muffins, Infinite Ways
By Mark Bittman
From the How to Cook Everything® app
The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in. But those little muffin cups allow for a lot more potential variation, depending on what you do at the last minute before baking.
Anything goes when it comes to varying this master recipe, including the suggestions for Fruit‐and‐Nut or Vegetable‐and‐Nut Bread. See 13 Additions To Virtually Any Quick Bread, Muffins, Biscuits, or Scones for more ways to spike recipe. And for a more dessert like muffin, see the Sweet and Rich Muffins variation.
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for the muffin tin
  • 2 cups all‐purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 12‐cup muffin tin and line it with paper or foil muffin cups if you like.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter or oil in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
  3. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two‐thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. (If you prefer bigger muffins, fill 8 cups almost to the top; pour ¼ cup water into the empty cups.) Bake for about 20 minutes (about 30 minutes for larger muffins) or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.
Banana‐Nut Muffins
These are good with half bran or whole wheat flour: Add ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts, pecans, or cashews to the dry ingredients. Substitute 1 cup mashed very ripe banana for ¾ cup of the milk. Use honey or maple syrup in place of sugar if possible.
Bran Muffins
Substitute 1 cup oat or wheat bran for 1 cup of the flour (you can use whole wheat flour for the remainder if you like). Use 2 eggs and honey, molasses, or maple syrup as the sweetener. Add ½ cup raisins to the prepared batter if you like.
Sour Cream or Yogurt Muffins
Reduce the baking powder to 1 teaspoon and add ½ teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients. Substitute 1¼ cups sour cream or yogurt for the milk and cut the butter or oil back to 1 tablespoon.
Spice Muffins
Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each ground allspice and ground ginger, and 1 pinch ground cloves and mace or nutmeg to the dry ingredients; use 1 cup whole wheat flour in place of 1 cup all‐purpose flour. Add ½ cup raisins, currants, dates, or dried figs to the prepared batter if you like.
Blueberry or Cranberry Muffins
Try substituting cornmeal for up to ½ cup of the flour: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients; increase the sugar to ½ cup. Stir 1 cup fresh blueberries or cranberries into the batter at the last minute. You can also use frozen blueberries or cranberries here; do not defrost them first. Blueberry muffins are good with ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest added to the batter along with the wet ingredients. Cranberry muffins are excellent with ½ cup chopped nuts and/or 1 tablespoon minced orange zest added to the prepared batter.
Sweet and Rich Muffins
Like cake: Use butter and increase the quantity to 6 tablespoons (¾ stick); increase the sugar to ¾ cup. Use 2 eggs and decrease the milk to ½ cup, or more if needed. In Step 2, after mixing together the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer and in a small bowl beat together the eggs with the milk. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter‐sugar mixture, then moisten with a little of the milk. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, taking care not to over mix. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
Lighter Muffins
A little more work, with noticeable results: Use 2 eggs and separate them. Add the yolks as usual; beat the whites until stiff but not dry and fold in very gently at the last moment.
Coffee Cake Muffins
Mix together ½ cup packed brown sugar; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans, or cashews; and 2 tablespoons extra melted butter. Stir half of this mixture into the original batter with the wet ingredients and sprinkle the rest on top before baking.
Savory Muffins
Cut the sugar back to 1 tablespoon. Add up to 1 cup of cooked minced onion or leek and shredded cheese to the batter just before baking.
Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © Double B Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sept 1, 2013::slow down

We drove to a local orchard near Peru, IN today to pick up some honey crisp apples and spent lots of time with resident horses.

In our continuing search for the best pizza in Kokomo, we stopped by the mall to try the new pizza joint there. So-so. Still looking for New York style with burned edges. Suggestions?

Now Brice and I are watching Buck Owens sing Bad, Bad Leroy Brown on HeeHaw. Now that's a blast from my past and the end to a pretty slow Sunday.