Category Archives: food

advocacy

Awwww. Thank you so much for the support of Rylie’s letter… particularly the no-Sears-photos part. We all feel so very loved over here. And you de-lurkers! Bless your hearts. Not one of you is a stranger to me, as I have been secretly reading you as well. Now we can be all out in the open about it. Thanks for making my day. Tracy, this photo of Ry in her Chucks is for you- because it reminded me of you and I thought you’d be proud of me (or at least my camera).

advocacy: (n) active support of an idea or cause etc.

The Boy was in charge of finding a movie for Friday night. When asked what I was in the mood for and given a shrugged-shoulder response, he said, “Oh. So, a kissy-kissy one then?” That boy. Naturally, I had no idea what he’d come home with. I didn’t recognize the name or the cover or even the synopsis on the back. But let me tell you, it was glorious. And not kissy-kissy… though it is indeed a love story. But it’s a love story about the land and the community and lastly, 2 people. The cinematography in this movie is absolutely stunning… the wide shots leave you with deep field green, sky blue, and chapel white in your mind. It’s just an achingly beautiful story. If you’re looking for something this weekend, go for it. And, invite me. And, also, have popcorn.
Rylie, like most people, loves to stand up in her chair, wave her hands around like she just doesn’t care, and then crawl on top on the table. Strap her in, you say. Yes, thank you. She is strapped in. Tightly. To within an inch of her life. I began looking for a portable chair for camping and travelling and such… and came across this one. The amazing this is that the clamps are very, very short- 6 inches long! No huge counter-balance arm for under table. This one slides right into a restaurant booth, if you’d like. And, it holds up to 40 pounds of cuteness… which, for Rylie, means she can sit in that chair until she is a freshman in high school. It has now replaced her everyday highchair and she swings her feet happily (if not wildly) in support of our decision. [The hat is from Jami… God bless her for passing it on.]
:::
You heard me. In a search for non-chemical, shorter drying time science, I came across this website. I was immediately hooked by the clip art and packaging. It doesn’t take much, folks. You use these in your dryer in place of dryer sheets. They bounce around like crazy and cause your dog to think he’s under attack by the minature pincher down the road. Canine confusion aside, these guys work wonders on cutting down your drying time [mine is easily half what it used to be] and are perfect for comforters and rugs and such. I do find they leave a bit of static cling, but we make do with using just a teensy bit of liquid softener in the wash cycle.

:::

Tracy’s Dad’s Creamy Onion Soup

Keeper’s Swap folks, you already have this. For the rest of you- allow me to change your world one soup bowl at a time.
8 cups beef broth
3 onions sliced – not too thin
3/4 cup of flour
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Salt
Pepper

In a large stock pot, heat the beef stock and add the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for an hour.

Make a slurry of the flour (you do this by adding a bit of water and stirring it up till it is the consistency of thin glue – this is so that when you add the flour to the soup it doesn’t get all clumpy). Add that slurry to the soup, stirring gently. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the cream and cheddar cheese. Simmer an additional 5 minutes, just to get everything warm and melty. Serve hot with a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese.

Oh, Friends. It’s just lovely and thick and warm and sweet and dare I say, better than Panera’s. I suggest having it with crusty bread and friends. Perhaps friends who have driven an hour to visit with you for the day, gotten stuck cross-wise in your road between the ditch and the driveway, pulled out by a young man in a Chevy truck behind her (while the County snow plow was waiting behind him), and all with a soon-to-be three year old in the backseat asking when her Strawberry Shortcake party is going to happen. Have it with friends like that and make it a beautiful, sunshiny, take-a-walk-with-your-kids-on-a-sled kind of day.
:::
I am off to pay bills and tackle Mount Laundry. Spaghetti for dinner. What are you having?

Why do I sew?

Why do I do anything crafty, for that reason?
I know you’re dying to know.

I do it to remind myself that I’m an idiot… that pattern instructions are in code I cannot decipher… that abbreviations are a foreign language I failed… that ‘rightside’ and ‘wrongside’ and Godhelpme ‘on the bias’ are advanced skills I am completely unable to master.

I do it to humble myself in the memory of ancestors who went before me… hand-sewing and needle-clicking along merrily by candlelight whilst being able to carry on a full-blown conversation about cooking and courting. I do it to teach Rylie about failing… about crooked seams… and about quality of work. Wear it. It’s home-made.

I sew because I need to (daily, apparently) be reminded that I am a simple, simple person… too impulsive for my own good… too impatient to double-check and too lazy low maintenance to press seams. Oh, how the oopsDANGit pile is growing. Gawd.

I’m a single mom starting today at 5am. The Mulder boys and brother-in-law Bill are headed to the U.P. for a man-cation until Monday. The planning was sparce, and, as I had nothing to do with the packing, I can only hope that there’s enough underwear between the four of them to go around. I asked The Boy what what on the menu, and he replied, “Lots of bacon.” Right. A man-cation. I hope to get MASSIVE amounts of knitting/winter sewing finished. I dream.

I leave you with my favorite recipe of all time… given to me/made for me often by Renee (man I miss y’all) when I was single and working 24-7 for YoungLife. It is the world’s best macaroni and cheese- unlike any mac and cheese I’ve ever had. Make. Freeze. Enjoy while watching 90210 reruns this Fall.

UltimateComfortFood Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups shredded cheese…throw some sharp cheddar in there so it’s not too bland
1 egg…preferably from my chickens…I’m being over run with eggs here
1 cup sour cream
2 cups small curd cottage cheese…never use large curd for anything…it’s gross
garlic…as much as your rommates or husband will allow you to put in
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces of pasta…I prefer rigatoni, as it holds the cheese in there so well…mmmmm

preheat oven to 350
cook pasta according to package
mix together: sour cream, cottage cheese, egg, garlic, salt and pepper
add cheese, mix
add cooked pasta, mix super well
pour into a 2-quart baking dish
bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Could it BE any simpler?
You’re gonna die, it’s so good.


A post in which I promise not to mention my adorable child.

We are living in dirt.

Some friends did some digging for us while we were on vacation in the Wild Wild West, and, since returning, we have been living in dirt. The basement needed insulation around its entirety which left us with 20 feet of dirt surrounding the entire house. Abe thinks its fantastic… absolutely fantastic. Digging and rolling and mud and dust clouds… fanTAStic. And the chickens! The chickens think they’re in heaven. Chicken heaven… they scratch out little bath pods and fluff themselves like there is no tomorrow. You can almost see them smiling. Curt is thrilled because this brings us one step closer to a front and back porch before cold weather comes…AND he gets to use big machinery. Oh, the joy in this boy’s face.

The only person not enjoying this– I don’t even have front steps, people!- is me. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no saint when it comes to cleaning. Country living, having a child, and being married to me has taught Curt to re-evaluate his expectations considerably…but I’m no slob. Major cleaning/picking up happens at least once a week- usually on Saturday mornings (the result of childhood brainwashing). This whole situation has driven me to my wits end, which wasn’t far, I know, but I am there.

All this to say, there is dirt everywhere…sand and grit and dust everywhere.
And I have decided I don’t care.
Because I’m getting a porch and a screen…someday.

So, please do come over.
But, as I told Jo and KMoore once, “Make sure you wear shoes.”
Everyday, my brillance astounds me.


And now…oh, man, are you gonna love me for this one…

The Ultimate Enchilada Recipe as published by Texas Monthly and introduced by my sister-in-law Sarah. It is now a Mulder favorite. The green sauce is fabulous all by itself for dip.

*Don’t be scared by the ingredients…I promise the peppers and tomatillos can be found near the green bell peppers in the produce department. They’ll be labeled and everything. It’s super simple.*

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde
aka Ode to Joy
salsa verde:
2 #s tomatillos, dehusked and washed
(They kinda look like green tomatoes in a corn husk.)
1 medium yellow onion
6 serrano peppers or 3 jalapenos
(We use 4 serranos for medium heat.)
2 T. canola oil
¾ cup fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Place tomatillos, onion, & peppers in a skillet and drizzle with 1 T. of canola oil. Roast for 10 minutes. Add skillet mixture to blender with cilantro & salt. Heat remaining 1 T. of canola oil in the skillet. Add blender sauce to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.

chicken enchiladas:
2 ½ #s chicken (Buy a nice roasted one at the grocery deli and be easy on yourself.)
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup diced green pepper
1 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
¾ cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 ½ t. cumin
¾ t. oregano
¾ cup whole tomatoes, pureed with juice
¾ cup canola oil
16-20 corn tortillas (6” round)
1 # Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Boil chicken and shred. In a 2 qt. pot, melt butter. Add bell pepper, onion, and diced fresh tomatoes. Cook until soft.

To pot, add shredded chicken, spice mixture, and pureed tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat canola oil. Using tongs, place tortillas in one at a time and cook until soft. Stack on a plate with a paper towel in between each one. (This is so the tortialls don’t break and it totally works. You must use corn tortillas at least the first time…they’re so good.)

Assemble enchiladas. Pour verde salsa and shredded cheese on top. Bake until cheese melts. Of course, this freezes beautifully, so freeze half for another day.


Happy Labor Day weekend to you all!

Be safe and eat good food.

See? I didn’t mention her and her cute adorableness once.


diapers covering only one ‘bun’ do not work, and other various insights



I love her.
She- and her impish grin- absolutely makes my day.
Obviously, we need to lower the mattress.

I show you this not (only) because she’s adorable, but because it demonstrates a point I have come to terms with lately: the girl has no clothes. When you stay home 5 days out of 7 and see dear friends the other 2, clothes become an afterthought. She has long grown out of the “yay you’re having a baby” clothes we received, and I have honestly not updated since save for a few onsies and pjs on sale. I just don’t care if her pants are too short or if she has shoes.

Alas, I know the seasons are soon to change around here in the Mitten State and I will have to alter my mindset. I have decided to try to make just about everything…but simply. Pinafores, pants, and shoes I can do. I want very much to do this from the fabric stash and Goodwill wool sweaters. If I made 5 apron tops and 5 pants, the girl would be a true home-grown diva. I could then spend $20 on some long-sleeve onsies underneath for layers and she’d be all set. Does she need 42 outfits? No. Is the stuff out there adorable now? Yes. Hello, Old Navy girls’ section. But I am feeling myself tugged even more in the simple (and green) direction these days and I think that’s good. Grandparents, you are welcome and encouraged to continue shopping so my child does not develop a complex.

We will also be concluding our mass landfill contributions after this last package of number 2s is finished…it shall be cloth for us. Cloth is so easy these days it makes it difficult to come up with excuses for our family. I’m at home and chained to the washing machine all day anyway. Will I keep disposables on hand? Absolutely. I don’t expect the world, or the church nursery for that matter, to have to deal with my conscience.

On a similar note (trust me)…I am researching madly about copyright issues and such to make sure I’m being honest and fair at the shop. It’s so hard…there seems to be no clear answer about patterns, inspiration, vision, blah blah blah. It’s such a huge issue in the creative-sewing world! And everyone, including the lawyers, seems to have a different take on it. But I do so greatly respect other people’s ideas…and I do so much want to sell you bags and pinafores to make both our lives easier and more beautiful…that the only way to be 100% safe is to stop buying patterns and simply draw up my own freestyle. So, I shall. Anyone with any true information on this issue is welcome to share.

In other news (still out there? blessed blessed people), I conquered the traditional pot roast last night. I think my oven and I have finally come to an understanding. We are friends. Wine, meat, potatoes… it’s a good thing. Tonight? Ham and potatoes (Chris, this is a good one for you.) from Williams Sonoma. It’s a standby in our house.

Ham, Potato, and Cheese Gratin

ingredients: 2 cups water (to simmer the ham in if it’s not already cooked…drain afterwards), 1.5# ham or ham steak cubed, 3.5# sliced potatoes, 3 cups milk, 1/4 cup butter, 6 tablespoons flour, 1# cheese (some sharp cheddar in here is mmmmm good), 2 tablespoons dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350. Oil or butter a 9×13 baking dish (I often 1/2 this recipe, OR make the whole thing and put it in 2 dishes and freeze one). Alternate layers of ham and potatoes in dish.

sauce: Pour milk into a pot over medium heat. Warm until small bubbles apear at the edge…but not boiling. Pour into a bowl to set aside and save. [OR, warm milk carefully in a microwave and skip the previous step.] Melt butter over medium heat in the empty pot. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Don’t stop stirring! Add warm milk. Cook until sauce thickens…about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in cheese and stir until cheese melts. (This 6 minutes of sauce-making is the key…it makes all the difference.)

Pour cheese sauce over ham and potatoes in dish/es. Bake uncoverd for 1 hour. Invite me over.

Wende has a great idea for dessert over at Evidently today…

I wish you a blessed weekend! Thanks for all the encouragement this week. I’m blowing all of you kisses… and Rylie is zerbert-ing you from her crib. Seriously. Remember that Cosby Show? *sigh*


oh, and another thing…

[added Friday: Sweet little daisy bag up at etsy now, and another coming during afternoon nap time.]

What I did on my summer vacation:
3. I did not see any bears, but I did see lots of other wildlife.

I saw an osprey, a bald eagle, 2 wolves, multiple ground squirrels (one who drew blood on my toe hoping for my turkey sandwich), marmots, mountain goats, big horn sheep, buffalo, elk, and and a camel. Seriously. I saw a camel. In South Dakota. Yay, God, for making so many amazing animals and for not letting any of them kill us on this trip. We came close, particularly with the buffalo, but we were gracefully spared. Thank you.


Whilst unpacking (ok, so I was knitting in the basement while Curt put our camping gear away…and then he got into reorganizing the basement shelves…and so I moved in to ‘director’ mode…still in my chair…still knitting)- so yes…whilst unpacking, I came across a few things that I need to talk to you about. Before continuing, please promise to love me forever.

We found:
Curt’s old tonka toys and legos (this is good)
my toy German baby pram and grandmother’s china (also good)
*ahem*
my gameboy (which still works and I still rule)
my homemade gameboy case (thanks, mom)
2 tetris games (I guess I really did steal yours back in 1989, Danny.)
1 super mario brothers game (definitely mine)
my box of hundreds (yes) of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins & Sweet Valley High ‘novels’
a rubbermaid of my 3 Cabbage Patch dolls and 1 Koosa- a cat (I can’t believe I just said that.)
a mini duffel bag of clothing for said dolls

And now, I think I will go crawl into a hole and die.

But not until I tell you that I made the most fantastic zucchini bread Monday. I have a terrible horrible no good record with banana bread- too much pressure, I think, as both my mother and Curt’s mom are famous for theirs. When my neighbor came over with a 2 1/2 foot zuchinni from her garden, I thought I’d give it a try. People. I win. It’s perfect. Here you go:
Zucchini Bread
2 1/2 cups sugar OR mix brown and white together, mmmmm
3 eggs
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup oil OR 1/2 cup oil, 1 cup applesauce
2 cups zucchini, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup nuts (optional)
3 teaspoons cinnamon
mix all ingredients in one bowl (love this) and pour into 2 greased loaf pans
bake at 350 for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Warning:

I have taken a Benadryl and will likely fall asleep before I finish typing this post. You see, I have the allergies. I diagnosed myself with the help of multiple television ads and the back of a few medicine boxes. I am having trouble seeing straight as the allergies have compressed my head into something resembling a flat pizza box.

Rylie and I both woke up soaking wet this morning…her due to an over-filled diaper and me because of an almost-too-real dream about high school. I seriously wake up in a cold sweat during/after bad dreams…and while I always have trouble remembering them, I find that I struggle for the rest of the day to get my brain back to normal. Thankfully, 99% of the bad things in my life are only dreams.

Due to my impending lack of coherency and the fact that my child is dangerously wearing no clothes (see above), I shall distract you with this week’s bread. It is, if I do say so myself, wicked good. I was warned that it would be, but didn’t believe it could be done without the fancy brick oven and the supercool white baker’s smock. It’s No-Knead Bread. It’s crusty and soft and oh so delicious. I am, I think, in love.

No-Knead Bread
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

You’ll k-need (HA! Sorry…it’s the Benadryl.)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast [aka Rapid Rise, QuickRise, Instant Active Dry, Perfect Rise, or Bread Machine Yeast]
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 (like, overnight), at warm room temperature (like on top of your fridge).

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth- seriously overdo the generous coating of the towel, otherwise you risk the dough sticking to the towel during the next step.) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 4-quart (but I used a 2.5 one as that’s all I had) heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

5. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf. Mmmmmmm. Goodness.
Note: the dent in my finished bread is from my pot lid. I think it’s cute.

We are headed to Cleveland Saturday and Sunday to visit Rylie’s Great Gramma Kluska. She is Gramma’s only great grand child. I am excited to share Rylie with her…but I am admittedly nervous about the trip. Nervous because Gramma is terribly frail and I see myself in her hands. Nervous because it’s a 5-hour drive. Nervous because sometimes Curt gets on my nerves in the car while he’s trying to see if our speedometer is calibrated correctly mile after mile after mile. So, think of us if you find a spare moment…and pray for ease of heart, good naps, and patience sweet patience.

and now…the succumb to the medicine and rest
after I dress the nekid child
if I can remember where she is
Hey,you! Go make some bread.
love,
me
(love me)

groovin’

on this sleeping beauty I mean, please…could she be any more gorgeous? At her 15-week appointment she was 23.25 inches long (50%) and 10.2 pounds (17%, which is what she’s always been) and pronounced “perfect…and very funny” by our favorite family doctor. We go back in 2 weeks for shots.

on this website: www.recipezaar.com I bet I use this at least 4 times a week. Bought a strange-to-you cut of meat on sale? Type it in and there’s 40 recipes for you. Need a new take on chicken casserole? Can’t remember how to cook asparagus? Wanna make enchiladas in the crockpot? It’s all there. I love it.

on bloglines: www.bloglines.com I’ve mentioned this before, but seriously…this thing has changed my life. I am maybe a teenyweeny bit addicted to the internet and craft sites and the news and your blogs. This jazzy little number (free, by the way) cuts my time in half and makes me a more informed but active housewife because I’m not glued to the computer all day. I just type in the addresses I want to keep tabs on and then once (ok, maybe twice) a day I pull up my list and it shows me all the ones that have new posts. Glorious.

on my summer clothes The post-pregnancy sizing is not going over very well, but thankfully I own a lot of skirts and that’s what I’ll be taking to Texas Texas sweet home Texas this Saturday.

on this granola recipe (found on little birds handmade website over to your left)

8 cups rolled oats (regular old Quaker Oats)
2 to 3 cups of seeds and nuts (shelled sunflower seeds, walnuts, coconut, almonds, etc.)
1 cup maple syrup and/or honey
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

mix oats and nuts and seeds
heat oil and syrup…maybe add a little peanut butter if you like…then add vanilla and salt
pour over oat/nut/seed mixture, mix well in a shallow pan
bake @ 350˚ for 30 minutes or until toasty brown, stirring every 10 minutes or so to mix it all up

I just made this yesterday and I love it…simple and crunchy and just barely sweet. I heat it up, add a little milk, and sit down with my Bloglines in the morning while I wait for the little angel to wake up. I’m trying to be better about what I put in my body…sugars and skipping meals and general laziness, not to mention the lack of sunshine and sub-zero temperatures lately, have taken their toll. I want to be fun and cute and healthy again.

on the bunnies that have oh so recently appeared out back looking for some grass underneath the steps Spring is coming! It’s really really coming!

on audiobooks The Boy bought me an iPod for my birthday (December 28th…write it down for next year) and I did the whole download-your-cd-collection thing. But just this week I logged on to the Apple iPod Store and found a whole other world…free classic audiobooks, my pastor’s sermons, and millions of books and music and old movies to buy. I’m all about the books, though. I can “read” Pride and Prejudice while feeding Ry or k-nitting and leave the tv OFF. Love. It. It takes my computer no-lie 4 hours to download a chapter, so if you call and the land-line is busy…that would be why.

on my Little Blonde One’s beautiful new twins, Lauren and Emily Hi, girls!!! I can’t wait to meet you Sunday!

Here’s to a great weekend! I hope you groove a little. Don’t forget to move your clocks ahead!!!

Rylie Joy and I head South this weekend, so we’re gonna take next week off from Blog Land. We promise to come back with lots of pictures and, I’m sure, a few stories. Miss me!