Monday, May 30, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons.....


Lemons + Honey = LEMONADE!
The other day I was transferring my honey into smaller containers. The remaining honey left in my gallon container filled two quart jars yet there was still a little left...quite a bit left if I would take the time to patiently scrap the sides of my container. I love honey yet it can be a sticky mess...and some times I have a problem with being patient. Finding a smaller container would take time as would scraping the sides - which would also result in sticky fingers, not that I mind licking off the sticky goodness, but I was in a hurry. However there was no way that I could waste my precious, yummy honey. So what's a girl to do?

As I contemplated my choices, my vase full of lemons whispered to me. AAH! Lemonade! I squeezed a few lemons. I added a couple cups of water and the lemon juice into my almost empty honey jar, sealed the jar and shook away. All the sticky honey that was once stuck to the sides of the jar mixed beautifully with my lemonade.

Honey does have a distinct flavor....still good, but different...so I added a little raw sugar too. I squeezed a couple more lemons. Added more water. Vigorously shook it over my head while I did a little lemonade dance (slight exaggeration). Poured my mixture into a pitcher and....VIOLA! Lemonade!

Mission complete. I found a use for my extra honey and I had a delicious glass of lemonade as my reward.
**Sorry, no exact measurements for you. This process consisted of many taste tests to determine what was needed until it was the perfect taste of sour yet sweet lemonade.

**Did you notice the beautiful lilacs in the background? My Boy picked those for me. =)  I love that kid.


Hearth & Soul Hop

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cheese Attempt


Heatin' the milk while the bread dough rises (the bread was wonderful).
I've made cheese a few times. Once I made a wonderful feta. Once I made...I don't know what it was, but it was edible enough to save by hiding it in a casserole. Once I made a mediocre attempt at feta which I used in lasagna. This time the cheese, or whatever you can call it, was a complete flop. Tasted like icky sour milk. Not good. On the bright side, The Boy and I had tons of fun TRYING to make mozzarella cheese.
Squishin' the cheese. (Have I ever mentioned that I HATE pictures of me?)


The Boy squishing the cheese.
 
I wish I would have written down what The Boy was saying. I can tell by the expression on his face that he was making a "funny". Probably comparing the cheese texture to brains or something equally gross and disgusting. I think it's a boy trait. It's MY boy's trait anyway. Anything to get a reaction. This reminds me of the time he woke his sister by placing his 5 toads on her pillow. He thought it would be funny. He never imagined the tears of horror that he would induce. I've never seen him so apologetic. Ah, but back to cheese...


The Boy adds obnoxiousness (and funny faces) to EVERYTHING. Always a comedian.



Yep. This is NOT what it's suppose to look like.
At this point we were to be "stretching" the cheese but for some reason the cheese was curding. It looked like cottage cheese...sort of. So irritating. I ended up hanging the cheese and left it to drain over night, hoping that it would form into a ball, lose a little moisture....or maybe the cheese fairy would come while we slept and turn my cheese mess into a beautiful ball of mozzarella. But alas, I woke to nothing beautiful. I had to face the fact that this was just another failure. I put the cheese into the frig, thinking I could salvage it by baking it in a lasagna. Unfortunately the lasagna was never made and the cheese eventually made it's way to the garbage can. I will try, try again. Someday.

Anyone out there want to come over and show me the secrets to successful cheese-making? I'll put on a pot of coffee or tea. I always like adult company in the midst of my child-filled day.

Happy Birthday Grandma


My Grandma and The Boy, Easter 2011
Yesterday was my Grandmother's Birthday. She turned 82, but you wouldn't know it by looking at her. Grandma is this cute, petite woman who is a fashion diva. She has more style than I have in my little toe. Beyond her beautiful exterior is an equally beautiful interior.

In many ways Grandma and I are complete opposites. She shops, I garage sale....similar yet quite different. She gets her hair "done" religiously. I don't even wear makeup. She likes to go dancing. I like to garden. In the past, she'd try hard to convince me that I should wear makeup and style my hair because I was "so beautiful when I did"... I always graciously listened to her loving advice. Out of love, she patiently advised and out of respect, I patiently listened. She's finally given up on changing my opinions on beauty. :)

The one thing we have in common is the love that we have for our family. Family is her first priority. She has taught me the importance of loving, helping and spending time with family. We spend many Sunday afternoons together at "The Farm", as my mother hosts our weekly family lunch. I treasure these moments with my grandmother and my parents. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Staycation ~ What's in Your "Neck of the Woods"?

Yesterday bloggers from all over the United States blogged about what a staycation would look like in their neck of the woods. Click on the links below to visit a variety of staycation destinations.

New England
Connecticut - Parenting Miracles
Boston, Massachusetts - ‎ Maven of Savin'
Manchester, New Hampshire - Common Sense with Money
Western Maine - Bubblegum and Lollipops

Mid-Atlantic
Erie, Pennsylvania -  Growing Kids Ministry
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - Somewhat Crunchy
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Family Balance Sheet
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York - Coupons, Deals and More
New Jersey - Oh! Diane

Midwest
Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Indoor Garden Musings
Mansfield, Ohio - Live the Adventure
Cincinnati, Ohio - Savings Lifestyle~Cincinnati
Mount Vernon, Ohio - Living Better One Day at a Time
Dayton, Ohio -  Savings Lifestyle~Dayton
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Kitchen Stewardship
Metro Detroit, Michigan - "Cents"able Momma
Oakland County, Michigan - Bargain Shopper Mom
Warren, Michigan - Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Forks, North Dakota - Frugal Front Porch
Indianapolis, Indiana - Bargain Briana
South Bend, Indiana -  Excuse The Mess
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri - Kansas City Mamas
St. Louis, Missouri -  The Pickledpigsfeet
Branson, Missouri - Getting Freedom from Debt
Springfield, Missouri - I Think I Can
Rochester, Minnesota - Everyday Notions
York, Nebraska - Heavenly Homemakers
Omaha, Nebraska - Mom Endeavors
Madison, Wisconsin - Many Little Blessings
Oshkosh, Wisconsin - A Little Bit of This and That
Chicago, Illinois -  Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Champaign, Illinois - Chambanamoms
Black Hills, South Dakota - Little House on the Prairie Living

South Central
Checotah, Oklahoma - Blessed With One Income
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
Gadsden, Alabama - Aint Mimi
Dallas, Texas - Funky Faith Girl
Dallas, Texas - Grocery Shop For FREE
East Dallas, Texas - Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas - Smockity Frocks
Austin, Texas - Stetted
Houston, Texas - Moms Travel Tales
McKinney, Texas - Wisdom Begun
East Texas - The Full Pantry
Murfreesboro, Tennessee - Life in a Barn
Nashville, Tennessee - The Country Chic Cottage
Mobile, Alabama - A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Birmingham, Alabama - iGoBOGO
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia - Teri Lynne Underwood
Alpharetta, Georgia - Cuponeando
Atlanta, Georgia - See Jamie Blog
Augusta, Georgia - Hyperactive Lu
Athens, Georgia and Mississippi - Tractors and Tire Swings
Little Rock, Arkansas - It's Real Life

South Atlantic
Ft. Bragg, North Carolina - Military Wives Saving
Charlotte, North Carolina - The Carolina Clipper
Charleston, South Carolina - The Tween & Me
Greensboro, North Carolina - Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Jacksonville, Florida - Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida - Orlando's Best Deals
Virginia Beach, Virginia - The Singley Fam Blog
Richmond, Virginia - Daily Dwelling
Hampton Roads, Virginia - A Home Made by Kiki
Charlottesville, Virginia - How to Have it All
Blackwater Falls State Park/Davis, West Virginia -  Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Treasure Coast, Florida - The Cardamom's Pod
Saint Augustine, Florida - Jypsie Visions
Lake Norman, North Carolina - Stretching Pennies Saving Dollars
Washington, DC - The WiC Project
Baltimore, Maryland -  The Happy Housewife
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia, Teri Lynne Underwood

Mountain
Tucson, Arizona - Saving with Pam
Phoenix, Arizona - Mom Endeavors
Albuquerque, New Mexico - The Chou Life
Kalispell, Montana -  Our Family Adventures
Salt Lake City, Utah - Just the 2 of Us
Thermopolis, Wyoming - The McDonald Family
Denver, Colorado - Denver Bargains
Colorado Springs, Colorado - Colorado Springs Bargains

Pacific
San Diego, California - Life As Mom
Yosemite National Park, California -Handbook of Nature Study
Seattle, Washington - Queen Bee Coupons & Savings
Whidbey Island, Washington - Manning the Homefront
Olympia, Washington The Coupon Savant
Portland, Oregon - Frugal Living NW
Willamette Valley, Oregon - An Oregon Cottage

Frugal Vacation Tips
Vacation or Stay-cation: Eating without Busting the Budget - Eat at Home

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sourdough Buns (UPDATED 5/24)

A new recipe that I'm trying today and I can't even tell you if this recipe is any good....the buns are risin' as I type. My hopes are high and I'll let ya know how they turn out. :)

2 cups sourdough starter
3T. butter
1/2 c. milk, lukewarm
2 eggs
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar (or honey)
3 cups flour (I used 2 cup whole wheat, 1 cup white)

  • Stir together all ingredients but flour
  • Add flour. Knead until smooth (my kitchenaid did this for me)
  • Add more flour if need ~ I added maybe another 1/2 cup
  • Let rest for 15-20 minutes (go check your email)
  • Roll out until 1/2" thick
  • Cut into 4" rounds (I use a canning jar lid)
  • Cover and let rise until double (I use this time to blog however a nap sounds good)
  • Bake at 350* for 15-18 minutes.
Now it's time for me to check my buns....and maybe I'll even have time to shut my eyes for 15 minutes. ;~)


May 24 ~
The danger of posting BEFORE completing a new recipe? The shame and humiliation of admitting to you that it was FLOP. The dough did not rise. The buns lost form and melded together in one lump. Luckily, before my sourdough bun attempt, I had made a batch of whole wheat buns that DID turn out.

This experiment proved two things:

1. Don't try new recipes for company. (I know I'll forget that rule)

2. My husband will eat anything.
     He arrived home from work, tried my flop and exclaimed, "I think this is the best bread you've ever made!" He might be a good liar...or just too kind.

Maybe it was my sourdough starter. This was was my first attempt with sourdough. Like I tell my kids, "Try, try again." I will try again but not today. Today the garden is calling. As in the box of green beans that needs to be canned. And yogurt to be made. Oh, and then there's a few kiddos to cuddle. Yep, sourdough can wait for another day.

Stay-cation: Fun Things to Do Around Rochester, MN

Family vacations are expensive. Gas, lodging, meals...oh, and then there is the admission cost to all the cool things that you want to see. Vacations cost more than a small fortune. Now figure in the loss of income (some of us don't get paid vacations) and you've "broke the bank". Enter the stay-cation. Gas costs are reduced. Lodging is covered. Meals, although still necessary, can be made at home and packed in a cooler. This summer, instead of taking a week off, I am taking a couple long weekends. One weekend we will be traveling "Up North" to visit my husband's college buddy. Otherwise we're keeping our exploring near to home.

Another benefit to a stay-cation is a little extra time for home projects. I can keep up with the laundry, instead of having a week's worth of laundry to do when I return home. Isn't that the worst part of vacation - the accumulation of dirty clothes you have to wash after being away from home all week? Gardening can be accomplished while the kiddos are sleeping in. Win-win. Get a little work done, wake the kids and off we go for some summertime FUN! 

I live in a small town near Rochester, MN. Although a smallish city, Rochester has quite a few hidden treasures. Many are inexpensive or free (I love that word). Travel a short distance from Rochester and there are many other resources in the neighboring towns. Yes, even in my tiny hometown, there are a few fun things to do.

Less than 15 miles west of Rochester, in Byron, MN is Oxbow Park/Zollman Zoo. Oxbow Park offers camping, hiking, picnic areas and Zollman Zoo. Although the zoo small, it is the perfect size for kids. Best of all.......it's FREE! This is a one my favorite places to take my daycare kiddos. Fun for the little kids and fun for the big kids. Check their schedule because they often offer free events on Saturdays. Last year I took my cub scouts for a maple syrup making workshop. The boys loved it.

Twenty-three miles south east of Rochester, in Chatfield, MN is the Pope and Young Club Museum of Bow hunting. Even if you are not a hunter, this museum is cool. It includes a timeline of the history of bow hunting, the largest collection of bows, handcrafted bows of Dr. Saxton Pope, Arthur Young, and Glen St. Charles (founder of the Pope and Young Club), as well as many stuffed animals...the real, but dead kind. Although the museum kindly appreciates donations, it is otherwise FREE! The museum is fun for all ages.


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Tree Top Towers
Chatfield also offers fishing on the Root River and Mill Creek (which I'm told is great location for trout fishing); a short hike at Savanna Springs Nature Area, which displays area prairie grasses and wildflowers; and a city park which hosts FREE Thursday night concerts during the summer and a grower's market on Thursday afternoons. The park is a perfect spot for a picnic and has an awesome playground for the kids to work off some energy. Other than the cost of a container of worms, these activities are all FREE! After all the free activities, stop by the Dairy Queen for a treat. Not only do we love ice cream, but the owners, John and Holly Martinka are a REALLY nice couple. I'm all for supporting my local business' especially when the owners of said business cares for and loves the people in their community.

Rochester also has a few FREE (how can you not emphasize such a great word?) options for entertainment.

Rochester Art Center, adjacent to the Mayo Civic Center, hosts a FREE Family Day on the first Saturday of each month. The hours are 10am-5pm, with hands-on art activities from 1pm-4pm. Family guides are available. The people that work/volunteer at the Art Center are FABULOUS! 

The Rochester Art Center, during regular hours (check the website for hours) is FREE to military personnel and their families, Olmsted County Residents and children. If you don't fall into the "free" category the cost is $5 per adult. Pretty cheap.

Thursdays on First and 3rd ~ weekly outdoor market in downtown Rochester. This all day event (11am-8pm) is FREE...if you can resist the multitude of vendors selling food, arts and crafts. ;) Live music/entertainment begins around 4 pm. I have yet to check this out but have heard good things. Thursdays on First is on this summer's to do list.


Another favorite place to visit is Quarry Hill Nature Center. Donations kindly accepted but otherwise this stop is FREE. Quarry Hill Nature Center includes an exploration hall filled with live and mounted animals, a huge fish aquarium, and many things to touch (bones, pelts, fossils, turtle shells) - no need to tell the kids to keep their hands to themselves! The Center also has a bird observatory equipped with binoculars, bird guides and speakers so that you can hear the songs coming from the outdoor bird sanctuary.

Outside you'll find a 2 acre catch and release fishing pond, hiking trails/bike path, and historic caves. The pond is home to many turtles and frogs. An evening hike around the pond in the Spring offers the lovely chorus of the hundreds of frogs that call Quarry Hill home. Quarry Hill offers summer Nature Camps (something my son looks forward to every year), Sunday programs and other special events during the year. During the winter, Quarry Hill offers snowshoe rentals. Love, love, love this place!

The History Center of Olmsted County is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am-5pm and costs $5/adult and $2/child. The Center displays a medical theater, history of St. Mary's and the Mayo family, as well as IBM computers that are as old (or as young) as me.

Aerial View of MayowoodThe History Center is also the contact point to tour the Mayowood Mansion. This year the mansion turns 100 years old.  I had the opportunity to visit the mansion last winter during it's Christmas tour. Each room was sponsored/decorated by individuals or business' for Christmas. The mansion is beautiful and I loved the tour but I suspect that this would be very boring for young children.


Stop by Silver Lake to feed the geese and have a picnic. Bring your own bread crumbs or quarters for the "corn dispensers". Canoe, kayak, paddle boat and bike rentals are also available at Silver Lake Bike and Boat Rental (cost approximately $10 or more).

Chester Woods Park, just outside of Rochester, also has canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals costing $6/hour or $25/day....or you can bring your own. A vehicle permit is required to enter the park and costs $5/day or $25/year. Chester Woods also has campsites available.

Summer vacation wouldn't be complete without swimming. Silver Lake Pool and Soldiers Field Pool, which has a 112 foot water slide, cost $3/children and $4/adult. Foster Arends Beach is FREE but does not have life guards. Chester Woods Park also has a beach. Personally, I prefer the beach over a swimming pool. Something about digging my toes into the sand.

Although I've listed several options for stay-cation fun, I think it's important to s-l-o-w-down. Spend some time at home catching fireflies. Take a walk or a bike ride around town. Fire up the grill. Roast s'mores on the fire pit in the backyard. Run through the sprinkler with your kids. Splash in some puddles during a warm summer rain. BUT, most importantly, cherish the person or people you are with more than the activities that you are doing.

May you each have a summer creating lifetime memories with the people that you love the most!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yummy Summer Treats and Creating Rugs Out of T-Shirts

During the summer I usually keep my freezer stocked with Mr. Freezes. Nothing like preaching against the evils of sugar yet serving up daily doses of it to my little (and big) buddies. Finding popsicle molds had been on my mind lately. I wanted to find small ones to help combat the drip and mess factor. The other night I found the perfect size at Walmart. Now to fill them with a little nutritional content...I'm all for tricking my kids into eating something that is good for them and what better way than in a popsicle! Yesterday I tripled my morning smoothie recipe and made Tropical Pops. The kids (most of them) loved it! This morning I used strawberries and bananas (I think these will be more widely accepted by the general population at my house).  Hidden in my smoothies are ground flax seed, super duper "green powder"(bunch of healthy herbs), milk, homemade yogurt, fruit and sweetened with a little REAL maple syrup. YUMMY!


The Boy, making his t-shirt "intersections"

Last month I found directions to weave a rug out of t-shirts. Family and friends have been collecting discarded shirts for me. I also got a pile for free at a garage sale. I started cutting up the t-shirts last week and today The Boy began weaving. The weaving loom is a hula hoop which I picked up at Walmart for $5.  The t-shirt is cut horizontally from arm pit to arm pit - this top portion is thrown....until I decided that this was being much too wasteful. In the past I have cut up old, stained t-shirts to use as Kleenex's so I decided to cut up the rest of the scraps for "wipes". Nose Wipes. Butt Wipes. Whatever Wipes. May as well get one more use out of this material. If I choose to wash and reuse, great. If not, oh well. At one point or another they were bond to be thrown.

While The Boy was weaving he exclaimed, "Mom, I think you've found a great project for us! I think this is going to be the best...and the most successful project since the chickens!" Followed by ten minutes of chatter on how he is going to make a rug each day and make millions. Then came a bit of quiet. Shortly thereafter he decided he was tired of weaving. <sigh>



Laundry basket of weaving "strips", basket of wipes, rug in progress sitting on top of a bag of shirts



Repurpose My Life

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wildtree Wednesday


I love chickpeas and couscous so I am anxious to try this new recipe.

Mediterranean Chickpea and Couscous Salad


1 ¼ cup water
2 teaspoons Wildtree Chicken or Vegetable Bouillon Soup Base
1 cup couscous
¼ cup currants
2 tablespoons Wildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons Wildtree Tzatziki Seasoning Blend
1 large carrot, grated
½ cup diced cucumber
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in Bouillon, couscous, and currants, turn
off heat, cover and steam for five minutes. In a small bowl mix together Grapeseed Oil, lemon juice, and Tzatziki;
set aside. Fluff couscous with a fork. Combine couscous, and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the
dressing over the couscous mixture and toss well to combine.

Calories 290; Fat 6g; Saturated Fat 0.5g; Carb 49g; Fiber 6g; Protein 10g; Chol 0mg; Sodium 170mg

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garage Sales: Green Frugality at it's Best

My loot from the weekend of treasure hunting during Chatfield's City-wide Garage Sale
Garage sales, for me, can be compared to a treasure hunt. After all, isn't one man's junk another man's treasure? Through fall and winter I formulate a list of things to put on my "hunting" list. During this time, if I need (usually it's a want) something, I ask myself, "Would I find xyz at a garage sale? If so, can I wait until May/June to make this purchase?" I have been know to beg small kitchen appliances to just hold out until May. A couple of years ago I bought a blender for $2. It worked great for one year, in fact it stopped running a week before garage sales season began again at which time I bought another $2 blender. The second blender didn't last as long. It did last until a week before Christmas, giving darling husband the perfect gift idea.


My Boy (who is more of a man-child) is growing too quickly and is also very hard on his clothes. Garage sales offer the perfect solution to this never ending need of clothes and shoes....especially "sports" shoes. Last winter, unable to locate skates that were his size at the consignment/used sporting good stores, we broke down and bought new ice skates. He's feet have grown two sizes since. One month of skating. Yikes. Recently, at a garage sale, I spent $5 on a pair of skates that are two sizes too big....he's got 8 months to grow and I'm sure he will. If not, I can sell them on ebay for $5.


I love the thrill of the hunt. Garage sales are a great way to save money - if you're careful to buy more NEEDS than wants and I can't think of a better way to recycle.


Inventory of Loot found on Saturday, May 7:
Canopy (FREE!) this will either be used in the playroom or cut up for crafts
Air hockey/Foosball table
Journal (brand new, still in plastic wrap for 50cents!)
3 Books
3 Worship CD's
New book light
Sheetrock (FREE! and just the right size for a small project that we have)
Shelving (FREE! Brand new, found in a new housing addition)
Duck Step-stool for the daycare kiddos
Refrigerator Alphabet magnets
Magnetic Noisy Alphabet game-thingy for the refrigerator
Bin full of Thomas movies and trains
Bench (FREE!)
Sink and vanity
Bathroom light fixture


For The Boy:
Winter Boots
Ice Skates
Rollerblades
Cleats
Loafers
Rain coat
Winter Coat
Snow pants
5 Tshirts
2 Swim Trunks
3 Pairs of jeans/pants
2 pairs of shorts


For Friend's Boy:
Rain coat
Winter coat
2 pairs of jeans
Dress shirt


Little Girl clothes (also for friends):
4 Dresses
Sweater
Shoes


For ME:
8 Tshirts
6 Sweaters  (3 for craft projects)
Shorts
Jeans


Number of items: 60+
Cost: approximately $75




Shared on Frugally Sustainable


Monday, May 16, 2011

Today in Laurie's Kitchen - Cereal and Mayonnaise (but not cereal WITH mayonnaise!)

Finding an easy, but healthy breakfast is always a challenge. Presently I have daycare kiddos who don't care for eggs, nor do they like oatmeal. Pancakes are messy and involve prep, not to mention that the kids want their pancakes to drown in syrup. The kids also arrive at various times. We try to wait for all our friends to arrive before having breakfast but sometimes we are too hungry to wait. Cereal is easy. Pour as needed and it doesn't get cold while it waits for everyone to arrive. Every once in awhile I serve toast and fresh fruit for breakfast but mostly the kids just want cereal. Unfortunately, store bought cereal is often overpriced and is almost always filled with sugar. I try to reserve our sugar consumption to occasional afternoon snacks of homemade cakes, brownies, and cookies. Check out this article comparing cereal to ice cream:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1174591/Named-shamed-The-cereals-sugar-bowl-ice-cream.html

I've spent much time in the cereal aisle reading the ingredient lists. Rice krispies (I buy the generic brand so this is relatively less expensive) has the least amount of sugar and has become the staple for my breakfast "cupboard". BUT rice krispies may have some competition as I stumbled upon the following recipe and am hoping the kids will love it! If they do, I will no longer need to buy cereal (WAHOO!).

I have ground my wheat berries, added the milk, water and whey which will now sit on my kitchen counter until tomorrow morning, as which time I will add remaining ingredients and bake. By Wednesday morning we will be feasting on homemade cereal!

Breakfast Cereal

6 cups of whole wheat flour
3 cups of milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup whey
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. maple flavoring (I used REAL maple syrup)
1/2 cups melted butter or coconut oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

-Mix flour, milk, water and whey-cover and let set overnight.
-Add remaining ingredients in the morning.
-Preheat oven to 350
-Grease two 9X13 pans with coconut oil
-Bake 35-45 mins.
-Remove from oven and lower temp. to 200.
-Cool the cakes and crumble on baking sheets.
-Bake until dry and hard. (About an hour)


CEREAL UPDATE (5/18/11)
First round in the oven produced this lovely "cake-like" deliciousness. I couldn't resist and enjoyed a piece slathered in honey. After my delicious breakfast, I crumbled up the cake onto my cookie sheets and baked my crumbles for two hours (the directions recommended one hour but I felt it needed to be a little more crisp/dry....my old oven also tends to need more time than most.) I was a little skeptical...my cereal looked like bread crumbs/tiny croutons. I was worried about the sog factor, as well as the kid friendly factor. During the afternoon I enjoyed eating it dry...by the handfuls. :) Even hubby liked it this way. This morning I tried it with milk. Yum. It remained crisp and didn't get soggy, even when I was interrupted several times from my breakfast. The true test....the kids ate it!
--------------------------

A year or so ago, I attempted to make homemade mayonnaise....and it was a flop. This morning I decided to try again. SUCCESS! This recipe from Nourishing Traditions is wonderful! I will never buy mayo again. :) I think the garlic grapeseed oil added an extra yum to this recipe.

MAYONNAISE

1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk (room temperature)
1 t. Dijon Mustard (I was out so I used regular mustard)
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1 T. Whey
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (also out of this so I substituted 1/4 c. Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil + 1/2 c. Wildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil)
generous pinch of sea salt

I added everything but the oil in my blender. Blend well. Removed lid (or little "pour lid" thingamajiggy) and very slowly began to pour in oil while still blending (this is the trick - SLOWLY add oil!).

If whey is added, leave on kitchen counter for 7 hours before putting in the refrigerator. With the whey added, the mayonnaise will keep for several months. Without the whey, the mayonnaise will keep for about two weeks.

------------------------------

Tonight my son and I will be attending a Boy Scout potluck so I used my homemade mayonnaise in the broccoli/cauliflower salad that I will be bringing to share.

Broccoli Salad

1/2 Red Onion, diced
Handful of Grapes, cut in fourths
Handful of Sunflower Seeds
Couple Stalks of Broccoli, cut into bite size "chunks"
Head of Cauliflower, cut into bite size "chunks"

DRESSING:
1 c. Mayonnaise
4 t. Red Wine Vinegar
4 t. Sugar

Throw cut up grapes, veggies, and seeds into a bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over "veggie bowl". Toss to combine. Store in refrigerator. So easy and I am all about easy.



Shared at Delicious Obsessions.....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Certain days of the year build expectations that are often not fulfilled. Valentines Day. Birthdays. Christmas. Even Mother's Day. For some, the days before such events are filled with anticipation. For others, the days before are filled with dread, trying to prepare oneself for...well, nothing. Once the day arrives, you try your best to not be disappointed, history has told you not to expect much, if anything. But somehow those feelings of hurt and disappointment creep in. No matter how hard you try to shove them into the deepest, darkest, secret place inside you, those feelings keep resurfacing. After the disappointment comes the feeling of guilt. Who am I to think that for one day I should be treated like a princess? After the guilt comes the feeling of failure. Maybe I'm not a good mom, maybe I don't deserve to be treated like a princess. Maybe I'm being selfish by even wanting acknowledgement. These maybes only breed the churning emotions and achieves nothing.

Yesterday started well. I had no expectations, I knew better. I thanked God for my children. There are so many women that dread Mother's Day for other reasons. Mothers who have buried their children. Women who want nothing else but to have a child of their own but are unable. Women whose mothers have passed. Mother's Day is a reminder for these women of their grief. A reminder of a void. So I turned my prayers and thoughts away from me and prayed for women who were hurting. I knew that there were others that are suffering far worse than I and my heart truly aches for these women. I tried to focus on my many blessings. I did pretty good until weariness at the end of the day broke me as I softly cried into my pillow. I cried for the grieving moms. I cried for the motherless. I cried for the childless. I cried for the many other women, who like me, were not treated like royalty yesterday...and of course, my selfishness won out and I cried for me.

This morning, before my son woke, I debated if I should share my feelings with my son. I prayed about it. I asked God to guide my words so that no bitterness or blame would come from my lips. I prayed that God would guide my son into a man who would shower his future wife with love and adoration. I know my part in shaping my young son and felt that this conversation must take place. I prefaced our conversation with, "You are still learning and I am not mad." Hoping this would curb his natural need to become defensive. I also explained, "You know when I'm mad but I won't talk about it? I stomp around and act grumpy? I need to share with you why I feel the way I do because it wouldn't be fair to you if I didn't." and "If we truly love each other we should be open to listening how the other feels." I preceded to explain how I felt and what I would have liked (I told him a homemade card and dandelions from the yard would have been perfect).

We worked in the kitchen together as we talked. I was making lemon poppy seed muffins and he was making pancakes for the him and the daycare children. After he made silver dollar cakes for the kids, he made two big cakes for himself. Instead of sitting down to eat, while I served the kids, he was moving around from room to room and then went outside to feed his rabbit. He returned while I was washing the dishes and insisted on finishing them for me. Now I felt guilty...but blessed. How many mothers get this kind of service the day AFTER Mother's Day? While he washed the dishes, I entered the playroom/office to find this:
A cup of coffee, pancakes with strawberries (he sacrificed his pancakes to give to me and added the strawberries that I didn't even know we had), homemade card, tulip and bleeding hearts (which he had to pick in the rain). He put such care into each detail.

I am truly blessed. He went above and beyond in an effort to prove his love to his mother.

And lest you think I have a horrible husband...I don't. He's a good man. He's just not a planner. At 8:00 pm on Saturday night while we discussed visiting his mom for Mother's Day, he said in a shocking tone, "Hey, it's Mother's day for you too tomorrow"...like this was one big, shocking surprise. He didn't go out of his way to "remember" me but he shows me everyday (in his way) that he loves and appreciates me. In fact, yesterday he sacrificed time to put in my garage-sale-new-to-me sink and vanity.

So, other than a visit to my mother-in-laws, I spent Mother's Day making meals for my family, cleaning the bathroom, doing dishes, folding laundry...you know, the regular "Mom duties".  No day off from being a mom. No breakfast in bed. No cards or gifts. However, I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this responsibility. I am thankful that I have a family to care for. I love being a mom and I love my children....and somehow that is gift enough for me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Go Bananas

Last week, through the generosity of a friend, I was blessed with an abundance of produce. Tuesday we went bananas.
The bananas, although quite brown on the outside, were still firm. I'd have loved to keep them around for a couple more days for plain old eating but I didn't want to risk the bananas browning too much. I popped one into my morning smoothie and chucked up half a dozen to freeze. These will be perfect for my breakfast smoothies.


Half a dozen bananas were used up in this recipe:
http://www.southernplate.com/2008/07/homemade-banana-pudding-tutorial.html
The only thing I changed in this recipe was omitting the Nilla Wafers and I also forgot to add the salt. I used fresh eggs from my hens and creamy fresh milk. Hubby raved about this pudding and said that it was the best pudding he has ever tasted!


My next google search for chocolate covered bananas led me again to Southern Plate. This is the first time I've stumbled across this site. Twice. I think that calls for a re-visit.
http://www.southernplate.com/2010/06/frozen-chocolate-covered-bananas.html/comment-page-1#comment-354322
I didn't realize how yummy frozen chocolate-dipped bananas are. Kinda like a Dairy Queen Dilly Bar. But better. And good for you...well, chocolate is good for you, right?

The Boy made a loaf of banana bread. I would have had him double (or triple) the recipe but found that I was out of sugar and butter. The recipe called for 3/4 C. sugar so we used the last of the sugar (about 1/4 c.), added a heaping tablespoon of honey and sprinkled in a little bit of cinnamon/sugar. Instead of butter, The Boy used Wildtree Butter Flavored Grapeseed Oil. The banana bread didn't even last the afternoon. The Boy did good.

The bananas, with brown and mushy insides, got mashed for the freezer and will be used in future banana bread.

WAHOO! We did it - started on Monday with about 5 dozen bananas and all have been eaten (in one form or another) or "put up" for future use.

On Wednesday, I canned green beans and filled the freezer with diced peppers, diced potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. This was my first ever pressure canning experience. With a few words of wisdom from my mom and an awesome tutorial in The Ball Blue Book (complete with pictures, which really helps this visual learner), I was able to successfully manage this new experience. It is so satisfying to see a counter full of vegetables and fruit that will be enjoyed for weeks to come.

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your bounty with me and thank you for your kind and giving spirit. YOU are a blessing to many.




Shared on Food Revolution 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Everyday Notions: Wildtree Wednesday

Everyday Notions: Wildtree Wednesday: "I'll be trying out these recipes on the grill this spring....if spring ever comes. :) I do love the Ranchers Steak Rub and use it on roasts..."

Wildtree Wednesday


I'll be trying out these recipes on the grill this spring....if spring ever comes. :)
I do love the Ranchers Steak Rub and use it on roasts, steaks and burgers.




Rodeo Burgers
In a large bowl, combine ground beef and Rodeo Rub and stir until incorporated. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, form into patties. Grill burgers over medium-high heat, 5-6 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Serve on kaiser or bulkie rolls with Leslie's Smoky Burger & Rib Sauce.






Easy BBQ Chicken
  • 4 bone-in chicken pieces (thigh, breast, legs)
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Rancher Steak Rub
  • Wildtree Cactus Pete's Agave BBQ Sauce
Prepare a medium-hot grill.
Season the chicken with Rancher Steak Rub. Place the chicken on the grill and cook 10 minutes per side. Baste the chicken with the Cactus Pete's Agave BBQ Sauce and grill for 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and serve with additional BBQ Sauce on the side for dipping.