April 22, 2014

Beginning Again

So it has been two years and one baby since I last posted. Our family has grown by yet another little man.
I apparently shop at Costco often enough that the people who give out samples recognize us and ask me if we are going to try for a girl. Actually, everyone asks that. The nurse at the pediatrician's office, random folks at the grocery store...
I wonder what exactly it is about our three ring circus that suggests we need another act?
Anyway, my goal now is to journal weekly on this blog. I want to share our journey in life. The hilarious antics of our three boys. The not as hilarious antics of their parents. The stuff we eat. The things we think about. The projects we undertake. The faith we love.
So prepare for a little construction work as I revamp/rebuild and start anew.

April 19, 2012

Garden Days

My experience with gardening has been woeful at best. Last year we tried the community garden at a local park...I didn't dare go back into the jungle garden plot by midsummer. I have to say I blame myself for my timing. I always want to start a garden right before I'm due to deliver a baby. Smart, huh?
This year I broke tradition and tried the garden thing sans expected baby. Whew.
We bought self watering planters and put in the plants the last weekend of March.
I was so anxious I peeked at them every thirty minutes. We have, um, wildlife in abundance around our home and I was just positive I'd find a raccoon nibbling on my tomato plant the minute the sun went down. I'm not sure who finds leaves of tomato plants appetizing (they smell stinky know what I mean?) but I was determined to make sure I spotted them in time to come to the rescue of my tender plantlings.
Amazingly enough the plants (bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries) survived not just the first night but are thriving outside...yeah, just we speak! Not just the transplants either. All my seeds sprouted.
I know this is not a big shocker to most of you normal type people out there but I am a doubter. I know you have one in your circle of friends/family. Maybe more than one. We stand out as those people caught without umbrellas all the time because we didn't believe it was going to rain. We over cook chicken because we don't trust the variety of meat thermometers and recipe instructions we use.
We make squinty eyes at you when you're telling a story and we're trying to use our doubt-o-vision to decipher if you're spouting malarkey or not.  Ok, maybe that last one is just me. I must come across as seriously gullible...
Anywho, I was completely prepared for my soil to die. Maybe have the planters melt. I promise I wouldn't have been shocked. Instead everything has come up. Beans, peas, corn, garlic, herbs, even my pumpkin has sprouted. I do a dance every morning as I watch them grow. It is truly amazing. From one little dry bean sprouts a bush that will be filled with beans. It is seriously a testament of a divine organizer.
Three weeks later and I've had to hand remove some aphids and a hungry, hungry caterpillar but all is well. I think my fascination with the little garden is really contagious too. Derek is always commenting on how the plants are growing. I can't wait to take him outside and let him harvest some of the food. Right now we are both doubting these beautiful plants will produce actual food. Hopefully Derek will grow out of that.
Are you growing a garden this year? If you need help check this out.

March 7, 2012

Ode to the Bosch

I love kitchen gadgets. When people realized I enjoyed cooking they started gifting me all sorts of off the wall kitchen tools. I used to laugh. Turns out many of those tools are now used quite frequently in my kitchen. I laugh no more....well I still sort of wonder why anyone would use the seriously dull scissor/knife contraption or the cloth microwave tortilla warmer/potato baker. Those can only be described as classic "as seen on TV", you know?
Anyhoo, as I've ventured into more and more homemade goodness I've often found that things I used to think just took up space in my cabinets or drawers are actually seriously useful. I've used my mortar and pestle to grind whole spices and herbs (if we're honest my blender or chopper makes more sense but it was fun anyway). I've actually found that a strawberry corer is a beautiful thing. The apple corer/slicer was a lifesaver when I made apple pies and apple sauce with my bushel of apples. However, I now understand the usefulness of one of these.
All of the little things made cooking easier or more fun. Then of course there were the big game changers. Where the strawberry corer is nice the Kitchen Aid my mother-in-law passed down to me changed my life. My hand mixer started dedicating songs to me on the radio in hopes of winning my heart back, but it was all in vain. It seemed like the perfect romance until I started making bread. It was then that the dough hook let me down. I would mix my bread and then have to knead it by hand. Don't get me wrong, I actually love kneading, occasionally. Making all of our breads with three little dudes running around (no, I didn't spontaneously birth another child, I baby sit =D ) isn't exactly easy when you have to hand knead something for twenty minutes. It would go something like this...

Minute 1 kneading dough
Minute 3 run to see what made that crashing noise
Return to dough
Minute 5 ask one of the toddlers to stop riding the baby like a horse
Return to dough
Minute 8 answer phone and let the boys say hello to Gaga/Dada/the telemarketer trying to sell me a new cell phone plan
Return to dough
Minute 9 realize the phone isn't where I put it and track down Derek to terminate the call to the random seven digit number he dialed
Return to dough
Minute 14 finally decide I should have just made this snack time to begin with and bribe children to sit still with peanut butter and graham crackers
Return to dough
Minute 17 pass out the milk
Return to dough
Minute 20 give a last couple pokes to the dough and then run after fleeing stickyfied children with a wet wash cloth


I admit after all this work on a regular basis I started to have doubts about my relationship with the Kitchen Aid. Then I met Bosch. At first I didn't think anything of the chance encounter at a friend's house. But then it was like Bosch was everywhere. We would meet at cooking blogs and You Tube videos. I promise it was innocent in the beginning. Then somewhere along the line, I fell in love.


Imagine my surprise when I was approached after my wheat workshop by a woman at church who just happened to have an older model she was looking for a home for. Could it be? Could I really do that to my faithful, if deficient, Kitchen Aid? I told myself it would just be on a trial basis. Honest.
At first all I had was a dough hook. I made my first batch of dough and stared mouth agape as the beautiful machine not only mixed but kneaded the dough without a single bit of help from me. I set the timer and played referee and returned to a perfectly kneaded loaf of bread that rose higher than my soaring heart.

Yesterday I received the cookie paddles and wire whips I didn't get with the mixer and promptly tried out the paddles with a batch of these.

I just put everything in the mixer. I didn't have to constantly scrape the sides of the bowl down as I creamed the butter and sugar. It didn't miss a beat as I added in the flour and oats. Then I added in the chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and pecans (yeah, you need to make these) and the beautiful machine just mixed it all up without complaint. The dough was perfect.
Now I just need to put the whips to the test...okay need is a strong word. I just really wanna. I've heard rumors that whipped cream reaches unheard of heights in these things. I even saw a video where a man shredded cooked chicken breasts with the whips in his Bosch. Can you even imagine?
Bosch you are not just a stand mixer, you are a dream come true. I'm so sorry Kitchen Aid. It just wasn't meant to be.

February 17, 2012

I can't believe it is already a new year! Bryan and I are getting ready to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary in a couple weeks. On top of that Derek will be three and Marcus will turn one!
I'm starting a pre-school next week. I figure if I'm going to home school I should stop fretting about it and get started. That is the only way I'm going to build any confidence.
I'm also working on being more prudent with the way I spend my time. I've got a to-do list that is ten miles long and I've begun to accept the fact that I just can't do it all. We nearly completely eliminated processed foods. I realized one night while I was chasing children, answering the phone and door, and nearly sobbing because I couldn't get the tortillas to come out just right (at nearly 1.5 hours after our normal dinner time) that maybe going completely from scratch wasn't the best use of my time. Or the (mentally) healthiest for that matter.
I have started making all our breads but I think we all agree that a box of mac n cheese once in a while never hurt anyone. 

Speaking of bread. Check out the recipe for this deliciousness. Me and this loaf had a serious romance. It was the first successful loaf of wheat bread I've ever had. We ate it in like one day.
Oh, yeah. That came from my oven. It is soft and smushy and made for PB&J. Did I mention I used freshly ground whole wheat? No, seriously.
The website the recipe comes from is all about using your food storage in everyday cooking. I can't believe how simple it is. All this time food storage/rotation has been on my "things that stress Andrea out list" but no more!  And check homemade wheat bread off too.

October 13, 2011

It's Wheat Dah-ling

So I taught a class on sprouting and softening wheat today. I had this hand-out on how to from years ago that I passed along to the president of the woman's association at church. Turns out she got really excited about it since the activity was all about emergency preparedness and wheat.
I seem to have a sixth sense on how to get myself assignments. I mean it was like mere seconds later I received a phone call asking me to share my "expertise."
My what?
Anyone in my family will tell you the word "no" is not in my vocabulary. I beg to differ. No. No, no, no, no, no.
I said yes.
It was actually a lot of fun dusting off my sprouter that I had used maybe once in my life and that was pre-kids...or the dark ages as we affectionately call it now since the memories seem so dim. Or maybe the sunny toothy/toothless smiles of the boys just skew the perspective...either way, I had to demonstrate something I pretty much had never done.
Well chalk that up to another awesome notch on the eliminating processed food to-do list. Umm, FYI, sprouted wheat rocks. Seriously. Softened wheat too.
No, whole wheat doesn't taste weird. I made yogurt parfaits with it and some strawberries and everyone was impressed with the mild flavor and..umm...searching for a texture word here...kinda rolled oaty texture?
Don't judge.
Do try the wheat.

Things to do with Wheat besides Making Bread

Sprout it!
Sprouted wheat is a vegetable. It is an excellent source of protein, magnesium, phosphorus, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin E. It is also rich in energy-producing carbohydrates.

Use sprouted wheat in salads, to make milks, and in desserts, breads and cereals. Be creative.
To sprout wheat: Rinse wheat and soak overnight in warm water. You will want twice as much water as wheat. Make sure you have a container big enough to accommodate a 300% growth in the wheat kernels. Drain off water and place in sprouting container (if you started out with ½ cup dry wheat it would work well in a 1 quart jar with nylon or cheese cloth over the top).  Rinse your wheat twice a day.

Sprouts grow best between 75 to 80 degrees. When colder, sprouts may grow but at a slower rate.

Sprouts are ready to use when the sprout is the same length as the seed.

Do not put sprouts in direct sunlight, they will be sweeter if sprouted in the dark.

When you achieve your desired sprouts you can halt growth by putting them in a container and placing them in the fridge. Sprouts should keep for about one week. DO NOT rinse them before you refrigerate them or you may get cotton mold. This is apparently harmless to humans.
Add sprouted wheat to things like breads and pancakes. Take some of the liquid from your recipe and blend it in the blender with some wheat sprouts. Decrease your dry ingredients slightly.

If you would like to try wheat grass simply let your sprouts continue to grow until you see the green grass. Blend this into fruit shakes.

Soften it!

Since wheat is very hard it has to be ground, sprouted or softened. Softened wheat can be used in casseroles, breads, pancakes, and with anything calling for hamburger. Try it as a side dish or in place of rice. Add it to bean dishes to make a complete protein.  Sprinkle it on green salads, fruit salads, soups, vegetable dishes etc.

There are different ways to soften wheat. Keep in mind the more you cook something the more nutrients you lose!

Slow Methods (preserves most nutrients)-
1.    Rinse and then soak desired amount of wheat with twice as much water for about 16 hours.
2.    Bring desired amount of water to a boil. Turn to low and add rinsed wheat. Cover. Cook on very low heat (do not boil) for 30 minutes. Take wheat off heat and let it sit, undisturbed overnight. Wheat will be ready after about 12 hours.

Fast Method –
Bring desired amount of water to a boil. Turn heat to medium low and add rinsed wheat. Simmer until wheat is softened, about 2-3 hours. You may need to add more water during the cooking process.

October 11, 2011

Derek and the Great Pumpkin

Today we bought a pumpkin. It is half the size of my two year old. Said two year old is in love. As soon as Derek saw the pumpkins at the store his eyes went wide, his jaw went slack, and he held out both arms. He held the pumpkin all the way home...Yes, it was impressive. He even helped me carry it into the house.
I was not prepared for the level of attachment the little man had to the gourd. This presents a problem to me. At our house we don't carve pumpkins...we eat them. Muahahahaha!
Sorry the evil laugh was necessary.
Aldi had these simply massive pumpkins on sale for 1.99 each. That, my friends, is waaay cheaper than buying a comparable amount of canned pumpkin. How much cheaper you ask? Well once I figure out how to separate Derek from his new best friend long enough to get it in the oven I'll let you know. I'm guessing I'm going to get about 12-15 cups out of this baby though.
Hello, pumpkin dump cake.
Heard of dump cake before? This year ours is going to be 100% homemade. Cutting out the processed foods has been much easier than expected and oh, oh, so delicious. I'm going to start posting some of the yummy recipes I've gathered. No pictures at the moment though because my card reader has revolted. *sigh*

August 1, 2011

Consignment Success

We've been blessed that I haven't had to buy clothes for Derek since he was born. That isn't to say I haven't succumbed to a cute new outfit now and then. Mostly he has worn hand me downs from my cousin and a few my sister, Paula, has passed along. As well as various new outfits family and friends have given us.
This consignment season is the first that I've really been gearing up for some serious shopping. My stash of 3T clothes that Derek will soon be transitioning into was sadly lacking in colder weather wear. So last Thursday I hit my first sale of the season to stock up. What a circus! I stopped by the strollers on the way in just in case there was a double my dreams...and then went straight to the 3T section. Good thing I didn't get sidetracked any where else. Every other woman in the city decided to try to get there early, like I did, and it was a race to get the clothes you wanted. It only took me thirty minutes to find way more than Derek would need for the fall/winter and then after I culled my picks I headed over to look for a couple 2T church shirts. The racks were all but picked clean. I found a total of 3 polos, two were white and very stained (who exactly did they think would buy those?) and one was a dark green that came home with me.
I admit I went over budget by 23 dollars. I couldn't resist. I came home with thirty items and paid less than $2.50 each. That ain't bad when you take note that I brought home several Gap, Children's Place, and Osh Kosh items in like new condition. As a matter of fact one shirt still had the tags on it. The score I was most thrilled with was a three-piece hooded sweater set. I know I'm not great at pictures but I'll pull out some of my steals and get them up sometime this week.
There is another sale this weekend and I'm planning to scope it out to get a head start on his 4T clothes since my stash of that size is almost non-existent. I'm still hoping to find a good double jogger (odds are better this time 'round because it's the Mothers of Multiples sale) or at least a sit and stand.
Then there is the shoe dilemma. I just bought four pairs of shoes from a co-op and Derek already is growing out of the last pair. Holy moley. I don't like used shoes and I refuse to buy new ones with inch thick immobile plastic soles so that turns out to be a big problem. The brands I would like to buy are like $44 a pair. For a two year old? You've got to be kidding. I've managed to miss all the shoe sales on my favorite discount site too. I'm certainly open to suggestions.

Template by