Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Look who is in Sunday School this year!

Friday, September 24, 2010

sleepy heads

a teaser

We worked on this project all day Wednesday. Any ideas what it's about? :)

parting ways with sugar

Last Thursday night, surfing the web, I found this post at Thy Hand Hath Provided where she describes both here and through a series of posts her desire and progress to cut sugar out of her diet. (If you click on the label, "sugar fast" it will show you all the posts.)
As soon as I started reading, I knew this was a diet change I should be making, starting immediately. I should mention that I had been primed by two friends from church, Johannah and Kim who had separately and briefly on the web, referenced going without sugar for a time . Neither of them even know I read that, but I did and I thought long and hard about it. I mentioned it in passing to my husband before we went to bed already wondering what I would eat for breakfast. My typical quick breakfast is a cup of Lipton tea with about three teaspoons of raw cane sugar and milk and a bread item, sometimes a bagel, sometimes a piece of toast spread with peanut butter. If we have Tropicana orange juice(my fav and only purchased on a good sale)I'll have a small cup of that too. The bagel would be a problem because the only kind left in my freezer is a cinnamon raisin. And on top of that, they were lousy so it was easy to not see the need to finish the last two.
So for breakfast this week, I've mostly had the toast(which is my homemade bread with cane sugar to help speed the yeast which I can cut back or eliminate)spread with a thin layer of regular store bought peanut butter which does have sugar in it. But I have been using it sparingly as I think about other quick options. And I've been using honey in my tea. It's an okay option, not quite the taste I'm used to in my tea but it gets the job done.
Saturday brought an unexpected loot of candy to our house, (including a tempting Kit-Kat bar) as we attended our town's annual parade where the participants threw candy at us. Later as I stood looking at the stash piled on the kitchen counter, I convincingly told myself, "You're not interested." And for the most part, I was right with that one wafery exception which I did not eat, just for the record!
Another tricky time for me is after dinner when I usually make a cup of tea and have something sweet while I drink it. So first thing, I checked my little bag of New York Style Almond biscotti to see where the sugar faired in the list of ingredients.
First item. Nooo! I put the bag back and didn't eat anything that night.
Sunday lunch(I actually call it dinner on Sunday but let's not confuse anyone) brought my husband's brother and his wife and two store-bought desserts to my house. One, apple pie. Okay so pie isn't really a big deal for me. Move on. Two, a brownie caramel cheesecake. My heart stopped. For real? Brownie? Caramel? Cheesecake? What is this? Who does she think I am? Worst part? She actually saw my status update on Facebook on Friday talking about this plan. So cruel. But we laughed and I instantly started to rationalize about having a piece. By the time I had fixed lunch and served it, fed my girls, got them to bed for a nap, put the tea kettle on for dessert tea, cleaned up some dishes and sat down to eat my late lunch, I knew I would be having a a small slice. It was delicious and it was all I could do to not go into the kitchen and enjoy a second and third helping. But surprisingly I confined myself to one tiny wedge and enjoyed it with little or no guilt. As they prepared to leave later in the afternoon, I put the lid on the remaining cake, silently bid it farewell, and gave it to her in a bag. Yes, it was a little sad, I won't lie, but that night, the biscotti didn't tempt me at all.

But oh it was waiting for me Monday night after I put our girls to bed. The tea was hot and steaming and the biscotti dipped in the tea became a warm comforting mouthful. Three bites and it was over. I ate two, put the clothespin on the bag and shoved it back in the pantry. Wednesday night they beckoned again. Perfect nightcap. Perfect devils those crunchy cons.
But I tell myself, I did not eat the leftover apple pie in the fridge, nor any of Mrs. Dunster's whole wheat sugar donuts trucked home from New Brunswick back in August now sitting comfortably in our freezer, nor did I even have a sip of the ginger ale that I bought for my husband in case of nausea with his migraine last Thursday. And it was purchased in a two liter bottle which once opened isn't fizzy very long. But as much as I would have loved to have a small glass, I firmly closed the door and left it in the cold dark of the refrigerator waiting to drank by my fully recovered husband.
The only other sugar I've had is a natural sugar item in the form of a large jug of apple cider that I paid good money for and could not fathom pouring it down the drain. So I drank that instead of the ginger ale. It didn't have any additional sugar but like apple juice it is very sweet. But what I am aiming to eliminate is the junk sugar that comes from soda, candy, and the like. Chocolate cake included. More sorrow because cake is a dear friend.
All in all, I have avoided some major pitfalls in this first week, so the cheesecake and biscotti incidents have been a far cry from the normal amount of sugar I would have consumed in a week's time. Pat on the back. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a web bouquet

With the exception of the first link, which links to a specific post that struck me quite funny, the rest of the links take you to the main page of these sites. Some I have been checking on for a while, some are still like-new to me. They cover a wide variety of interests, but hopefully one will catch your eye and give you a new friend. :)

The Reluctant Entertainer

Finding the Motherlode

Meadowbrook Farm

The Magic Onions

Baking Bites

Hearts and Trees


Across the Page

Reformed Music

Rhythm of the Home

And just for fun, here's me with every bride's dream bouquet. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

so, how do I stack these little things? :)

nature study

Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight has put together a wonderful Fall Nature Study complete with what she calls a "trail checklist". Her photos however show many interesting things that were found without making it to the checklist. Go see. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010


This looks like a project I'm capable of doing.

flower pounding

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Isn't this so sweet?
There is a link to a Flickr gallery of more ideas at the bottom of the post. People are so creative. It's downright inspiring even for someone non-crafty like me. :)
Making a playscape

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Creamed Corn

In our summer travels, I used jarred baby food to feed my two girls and one that they both seemed to like was Sweet Corn Casserole made by Beech Nut. Searching for recipes for Corn Casserole yielded a dish similar to a thick corn bread or pudding dish. Not really what I was looking for. So I turned to looking for Creamed Corn recipes which is what many people call cream-style corn and I came up with a modified version of those recipes.
I started with chopped onion and a glop of butter(I don't measure butter, I enjoy it!). I then remembered that I have tons of celery growing profusely in the garden that needs to start making guest appearances in food, so I grabbed some stalks and finely chopped some of that too. At this point I considered adding some sweet red pepper but due to time issues, I passed it by. But I think it would add some great color and flavor so try it and let me know.

Now here is where the photography gets tricky so please pardon all the fuzzy and wobbly photos. Only two hands, both sticky with sweet corn, a sharp knife, slippery cobs and a finicky camera. To eliminate extra steps and more dirty containers, I cut the corn off the cob and right into my saucepan which I pulled off the burner temporarily to get all this done on camera. Using the sharp blade of the knife, cut only the top portion of the kernel off. You do not need to cut right into the cob, we'll get the rest on the second round. So for now, your mission is to go around the cob once and remove the top third of the corn kernel. It will be messy, but it goes quick.

Then, flip your knife upside down and use the back of the knife to scrape the rest of the kernel and juice into the pan. More mess but this is the good stuff.

Most recipes I found called for 1 cup heavy cream. I don't keep cream on hand so I used milk, 2% at that. To compensate for the lack of cream, I added two teaspoons of cornstarch to help thicken the corn and milk. If you use cream, you probably can skip that step or reduce to a teaspoon or less. Stir as it thickens and then dig out the power tools.

You could leave it like this, but I know Kate won't be able to chew and swallow this, so I used my immersion blender stick to blend it all together until it was at a consistency I thought both my girls could handle.

I tested it at this point and thought it was still too much to chew for her so I continued to blend.

Every kitchen needs a taster, one that will give their honest and unbiased opinion. Here's mine.

Seems thick enough! (As a slight neat-freak, this was starting to make me feel panicky, this fingering of the mushy food, so I cleaned her hand, offered her a taste and she ate the whole bowl lickety-split. Her written review is a few years in the offing.)

It was also polished off by her older sister(not pictured)with nary a scowl or gag. A success to be sure!

Here is the barebones recipe. Feel free to tweak it. I purposely left out sugar and salt but you do what you want. I am freezing this like I do my other vegetables but will be careful about reheating it due to the milk content.

Creamed Corn
4 ears of cooked corn on the cob, cooled
2-3 tbsp of butter(more if needed, lots if you want)
1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
1/4 cup of thinly chopped celery (optional)
1/4 cup of finely chopped sweet red pepper (optional)
1 cup milk or cream
2 tsp corn starch, arrowroot or other thickener if needed
dash of pepper
dash of nutmeg

Monday, September 13, 2010

kitchen help

just to be clear, they do have toys, but clearly these are much more fun!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


On the evening before we started back up our homeschool routine, I left a note for our son on a newly acquired message board. It went something like this, "Dear S., Good morning! I hope you like what we do today! Love, Mommy ♥

The next morning, he wrote back. Melted my heart. :)

and here he is, curled up with a book that was read by his grandmother, his mother and now him. love that guy! ♥

busy hands

taking them out, one by one...

and putting them back cuz momma says so! :)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

how to make homemade baby cereal

I make homemade baby cereal for our two baby girls and earlier this week I took some photos to show how easy it is. (I follow the directions given by Ruth Yaron in her popular and helpful book Super Baby Food.)
I use a ten dollar Black and Decker coffee grinder to grind rice and oats. I have tried soybeans with my old inherited grinder, but it didn't like the hard beans and broke after my second batch. I definitely would use a grain grinder to grind legumes, but a coffee grinder is sufficient for long grain brown rice and oats which is what I use.

Fill up the grinder with as much rice as it will hold before spilling everywhere which is usually what happens to me. :)

Now this is where it gets noisy so you may want to either warn anyone in the area or move to a more remote part of the house to avoid hearing complaints or crying.
When you first start grinding, it will sound something like little rocks pinging the underside of your car as you drive down a newly chip-sealed back road. This is normal and will gradually subside as the rice gets ground. When you hear next to nothing, the rice is done. (If you're worried about pieces remaining behind unground, remember that we will be cooking this and those pieces if there are any will become soft and mushy.)

It should look powdery and dry. I dump it into the container that I store it in for later use.

Next I grind up the oats which right now are old-fashioned rolled oats. Steel cut oats, which look like tiny pieces of oats rolled up in a tiny scroll would work as well as quick-cooking oats. So take your pick and grind them up too. (Note, if you are introducing one cereal at a time, then skip the oats and follow the directions for cooking the rice only. I myself started with just rice but then added the oats when I finally remembered to grind some.)

The oats are much quieter, quicker and softer to grind up than the rice but still end up looking just as powdery and dry as the rice.

I use a quarter cup of each ground cereal. If you are only using the rice, then use a half a cup of the rice. If you want only the oats, then use half a cup as well. I'm sure you could have figured that out, I just wanted to be clear. :)

Add the measured cereal to a medium saucepan or pot and admire your work, unless your children are hanging off your legs crying for food, then get busy adding the water.

Half cup of cereal needs two and half cups of water. Rice alone or mixed with oats, the water amount stays the same.

Add the water, turn the heat to high and do not leave the stove!

Stir it immediately to distribute the grain and avoid huge lumps from forming.

With the heat on high, it will soon begin to bubble. Stir frequently. I like to use a silicon spatula, since I can use it to scrape the cooled cereal out later.

More bubbles, keep stirring.

Almost there, stir some more.

This is a full boil and it's time to turn down the heat to low-mid range, simmering is what I guess it would be called. Take it off the heat for a moment if you feel it's going to boil over and make a terrible mess, but do keep up the stirring!

As the full boil begins to slow down, the cereal is now starting to thicken. Lumps can still form quite easily so frequent stirring is best.

It may seem somewhat thin right now, but it will thicken to that porridge state very quickly over the next couple of minutes.

If you need to serve it right away, pull it off the burner, keep stirring and allow it to start cooling. As it sits, a crust will form over the top, but it can be mixed back in without causing too much texture change.

Once it has cooled sufficiently to be put into a container, it should all fit nicely into this medium container. I then refrigerate it until I need some at which point I put it into a microwaveable bowl and heat it until warm. It likely will be more firm than boxed baby cereals but my girls have no problem with the texture and Special K doesn't chew her food yet so it works well for both of them.

Store the uncooked cereals in a airtight container. I am feeding two children up to three meals a day so I make the amount above every other day right now. I could make it in bigger batches but this works for me just as well.

I know that this is considered baby cereal but it can easily be given to an older toddler or child as a better alternative to most breakfast cereals. Also many people are into soaking their grains before cooking which was done in previous generations by peoples all over the world. If you are interested in pursuing soaking, here is one book and one site to check into. Nourishing Traditions is a popular book which I own and use as a reference. And The Nourishing Gourmet is one website that I have done some reading on. Soaking is a commitment which I have yet to commit to but I think many people find a good deal of health benefits including tolerating wheat products that previously they were allergic to.

You will definitely save money by making your own cereal as a bag of rice costs as much as a box of baby cereal and will last much, much longer. But just as important, in my opinion, it has more nutrition than the boxed cereal. I serve this warm with a fork-mashed banana to my girls for the main part of their breakfast. At lunch, they get another serving with their vegetables and at dinner again with more veggies and meat. Everyday works a little differently but this is a typical menu.
And I do cook my own vegetables unless we are traveling then I usually buy it in the jar.
If I left something out or you have any questions, comments or suggestions I'd love to hear from you. :)