Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Drink! ~Korea

This drink will make you happy - or at least it's made by Hapi.

Mandarin Orange Float Drink - the word "float" made me think of something creamy and yummy like an orange Creamsicle - one of my favorite summer treats as a kid. It was quite exciting when we'd hear the ding-a-ling-ling of the Dickey-Dee ice-cream man/boy/girl. He would ride around on a bicycle with a freezer attached to it - no ice-cream truck, rather an ice-cream bicycle. If we had some extra money from our paper routes or could scrounge around the house for some money before the ice-cream boy was gone, we'd have ourselves a little treat.

Well the Hapi "float" didn't make me very happy. It looked like and tasted like the liquid in a can of mandarin oranges. "With it's own pulp" the can proclaims - so you don't have to worry about it being the pulp from another orange. It was pretty lame. It was clear with orange bits in it. It even had the funny smell that canned mandarin oranges have.

Dd - "Yum - tastes like a bunch of canned oranges mashed up."

Ds - "Good and bad at the same time."

The little can cost about $1.00 and is a product of Korea.

The ingredients are: water, Mandarin orange pulp, Mandarin orange juice, sugar, orange essence as flavoring and citric acid.

Ginger Snaps Without the Snap

During my doctor appointment yesterday, my dh stayed home and watched the kids. The kids do not need constant supervision so my dh took a nap during the kids' "rest time". He needed the nap because he's sickly. I told the kids that after rest time they could watch a video - I figured that would keep them out of trouble and keep them quiet so they wouldn't wake their pops.

I arrive home to find a girl, a mixing bowl and some molasses out on the counter (well the girl was standing next to the counter and thankfully not on the counter). "I'm making gingersnaps!" She has never made cookies by herself. I note there is a stick of butter on the counter and it is rock hard. I point that out. "Oh I'm using fat-free plain yogurt - I remembered you have used that instead of oil before". I decided to just go downstairs and leave her to her own devices. I had news to share with my beloved and wasn't wanting to deal with the mess upstairs. And as before with the impromptu bagel or pretzel making, I want to encourage my dd to be independent and I didn't want to spoil her fun - so I figured it would be best for me not to watch and get "worked up".

The cookies turned out fine. They were not very snapful - reminded me more of gingerbread cake - kind of spongy and soft. But still very gingerful and tasty. I was proud of my girl. I asked if the fat was the only thing she replaced - she said she didn't have enough brown sugar so she supplemented with white sugar. I ate 3 or 4 of them :) I'm glad she "surprised" me with the cookies - I was needing a sugar fix when I got back from the doctor visit.

Here is the recipe for the gingersnap cookies - it's from a Family Fun magazine - Aunt Erma's Molasses Gingersnaps. This is by far the best (and it's super easy) gingersnap cookie recipe! If made correctly they are the right amount of snappiness and super delicious! They also turn out perfectly round and look picture perfect.

I did make the girl clean up the kitchen. It looked nasty. Sticky brown cookie dough EVERYWHERE. If you look closely in the picture you can see it on the cabinet door, the tea pot etc. This was AFTER a lot of it had been cleaned up. I wasn't mean - I did help her clean it up, but for the most part she did it herself. I want her to learn that clean up is part of the cooking process. Can't just do the fun part.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Like Being Right as Much as the Next Guy...

but sometimes being right, is all wrong.

For about a month I've had a pain in my right side - it only hurt when I'd lay down and sometimes when I'd cough or sneeze hard. I thought it was a result of doing crunches - so I stopped doing them for a couple of weeks, but the pain didn't go away.

I did some Google-ing and figured that it was likely I had a hernia. Today I made an appointment to see my doctor. Well I say "my" doctor but she really isn't mine. "My" doctor left the practice a few years ago - so I was actually without a family doctor. I have a pediatrician for my kids and a dermatologist, allergist and gynecologist for myself, but being that I've been relatively healthy - I haven't had a need to visit a general doctor for about 3 yrs.

I was able to get in with another doctor from my previous doctor's practice. I was rather surprised I was able to get in so quickly - may be good, may be bad.

Diagnosis - hernia. The doc was quite surprised that I had a hernia as I don't fit the "profile" for most hernia patients. I received a referral to a surgeon.

Hernias do not go away on their own. Though my pain isn't severe - and isn't all that problematic...I am scared to continue weight training. It actually doesn't hurt at all when I lift or bend or pick something up.

I plan to make an appointment with the surgeon and talk with him before I continue weight training and before I decide on whether or not surgery will be needed. The doc said it was OK for me to keep running and I could continue to lift weights as long as I did not increase the weight at all.

Anyone with hernia experience?? I'd be curious to hear from those who have had surgery or didn't have surgery and just any advice you have on the whole thing.

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays - Simplifying Recipes for Kids

During the past year my daughter has become more interested in cooking and baking. Ideally she would like to do it "all by myself."

One problem that has surfaced is that a number of the recipes I use, I revise as I go along. The recipe says 3 c flour - I revise it to 1.5 c whole wheat flour and 1.5 c white flour. The recipe says 1/4 c oil - I replace it with unsweetened applesauce.

My daughter of course doesn't know all these little changes I make so what I am in the process of doing is to take some of the regular recipes I make, and to rewrite them in a simpler format for my daughter.

A lot of my recipes I can find online so I just find the recipe, paste it into a word document and make the appropriate changes. Any unnecessary information in the recipe I delete. I increase the font size and put a space between each line of instruction so it is easier to follow. Simplifying the recipe means less supervision needed by mom.

I have thought of putting each recipe in a page protector so my daughter can use an erasable marker to cross off or check off each item as she adds it to the mixing bowl, or completes a step in the instructions. Once the recipe is completed - you just need to wipe off the marker and it's good to go for the next time.

So far I've revamped about 4 recipes for her - not many, but my goal is to keep having her work on one recipe maybe once a week until she "masters" it, rather than working on a lot of different recipes each week.

The pages will be hole punched and placed in a binder and this will be my daughter's own cookbook.

Head on over to Tammy's Recipes for some more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.

Clover Chips - BBQ Flavor

Clover chips are a Filipino snack made from corn and tapioca. This bag of chips cost about $2.

I didn't think there was much BBQ flavor which was disappointing. The chips kind of reminded me of rice cakes - they were light and crisp and not very flavor-ful.

Dd thought they were "tasty, crunchy - can't describe the flavor but it's yummy."

Ds - he liked them but "not too much...kind of tasted like the seaweed nets - but these are actually kind of spicy."

I thought it was rather an interesting marketing ploy to add "with vitamins" to the package. Nothing like having a healthy junk food snack! Which reminds me - the other day my ds asked if the soup we were having was "healthy". I said "yes". "Well then it must be slow food," he replied. "Slow food?" I asked. "Yes - junk food and unhealthy stuff is fast food - so healthy food must be slow food." Well being that it sometimes takes him a long time to finish some healthy food that he might not like - I'd say he labeled it slow food rather correctly.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why Do I Bother to Bring My Camera

It's not all that unusual for me to bring my camera to some notable event or activity, and to leave with little or no photos. I guess I could use the excuse that we're having so much fun that no one is thinking of cameras or that a photo wouldn't do the event justice, you just "had to be there". In reality it's because I'm a lazy photographer. Or at least lazy.

So for our latest trip to the country I came back with only photos taken at the creek. A great photo would have been of the children covered in dirt after playing outside or the kids carrying heavy logs of wood into the basement to help out the grandparents or a photo of the kids running and playing and full of happiness. But I'll have to be content with the few photos I did take.

On the road to the creek. Yes that is a light saber in the boy's hand - it is a constant companion of his since he got it a month ago.

The girl is more brave than I. Ever since I found out that the creek has Agkistrodon piscivorus (AKA cottonmouth or water moccasins) I've decided my swimming days there are over. She still wants to swim in the creek - but I'm not sure if that will be allowed. I did let her wade in the water without her rubber boots on though...

There are always little "treasures" for children to find at the creek. Interesting rocks, frogs, snakes and the like. This little fella is pocketing some special rock...

Scott's Porage Oats ... Scottish-Milled Oats

"The True Taste of Scotland" the box of oats read. I'd love to visit Scotland someday - but until then, I'll have to content myself with experiencing Scotland through Scottish-Milled Oats.

Scott's is milled in Scotland. This small box of oats cost about $6 - yikes!

Porage (or porridge) has been a Scottish food staple since the Middle Ages - eaten mostly in the winter.

I usually eat my oats this way: 3/4 c old fashioned oats, 1/2 c milk - leave in the fridge overnight or let sit for at least 15 min for the oats to absorb the milk. Before eating add 1 c frozen raspberries w/Splenda - microwave the raspberries first to warm up and get a bit liquidy.

The Scott's oats have a better taste than regular oats...hard to say what the difference is - it's like the Scott's are less "dusty" tasting (if that makes sense). The consistency is more flaky and when soaked in milk the oats are mushier (good or bad depending on how you like your porridge). I'd probably switch to Scott's if price were not an issue.

I included a photo of regular old fashioned oats (on the left) and Scott's Porage Oats (on the right) so you can see the difference in the oats.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

And the Winner is....

I just had my hub pick a number between 1 and 88 for the produce book draw - and the number he chose was number 2.

Number 2 comment was left by Jennifer at Eating it Up - congratulations Jennifer! Please email me with your mailing address and I'll send the book on it's merry way.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Fine Country Living"

Well we are having an enjoyable time at the farm.
The kids are dirty, scratched, bruised and having a good time! There has been rain. Farm + Rain + Lots of Dirt = lots of laundry + repeated foot and hand washing.
It's best for me not to keep too close a watch on the kids or I'll be spoiling their fun with constant remarks like "No you can't climb onto the haybales and jump off or you'll break your neck" or "No you can't climb onto the top of the woodpile or you'll fall and break your neck" or "No you can't climb the fence and get in with the cows or you'll get trampled and break your neck". A lot of neck breaking warnings equals no fun.
I did take the kids down to the creek to play yesterday - but heavy rains means swollen creek and covered bridge and no shore to play on. There was rock throwing and wading and very muddy feet.
Ds found a puffball dandelion and I heard him say "If you blow on this you will get a wish." and then he continued with his wish..."I wish grandma would have lasagna". Now I'd say that if I only had one wish it wouldn't be for lasagna. As a child I thought if I could have only one wish granted my one wish would be this "I wish I could have 10 more wishes". And then once I'd get to wish number 9 I'd wish for 10 more wishes and so on and so on.
But this little fella used his one wish for lasagna. And it worked! I told grandma about his wish and she said she already planned that for supper tonight :) Good thing he didn't wish that he'd turn into Darth Vader or we'd have had a pretty big problem.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

To grandmother's house we go...I probably won't be posting again until Sunday/Monday when I post the winner of the produce book.

I'm going to the land of slooooowwwww dial-up internet connection - so I won't be doing much on the computer - which is good b/c you shouldn't go visit someone and then hang out on their computer all day.

I'll eventually be posting some more exotic eating - just had so much going on with planning/packing/unpacking and getting caught up with two trips back to back.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Everything You Wanted to Know About My Exercise Routine But Were Afraid to Ask...

Since so many have inquired into my exercise routine – I thought I’d go ahead and write about it. Well actually no one has inquired about it – but maybe my mom or one of my sisters would be curious…

Approximately 5 years ago I began exercising on the NordicTrack (NT). I chose this method b/c a) I could do it in the privacy of my own house b) I could read while I exercised. I used the NT every day for approx. 25 minutes. I tried to avoid skipping any days unless absolutely necessary, b/c I knew that once I started finding excuses to not exercise, eventually I would give up. Especially during the early months of NT I don't think I could have done it without being able to read at the same time...the reading was kind of an "incentive" to exercise. I have sometimes listened to music while on the NT and that helped with the monotony - but the music had to be "just right" or it wouldn't work for me. I tried doing the NT while watching t.v. but that didn't work b/c the t.v. would have to be super loud in order to hear it over the sound of the fan blasting and the sound of the skiing and the sound of my bones groaning.

A couple of months ago I began expanding my exercise routine to include some weight training and jogging.

At first I would alternate between jogging, NT with intervals, and weight training. Currently I am alternating just between jogging and weight training. I don’t think the jogging will continue during the hot summer days b/c I fear I’d die of heat stroke within about 2 minutes – but it’s working for now. A change of scenery, a change of pace and some cool fresh morning air, listening to the birds chirp – it’s enjoyable.

I jog for approx. 25 without stopping. There is a park with a walking trail that I can jog to in about 7 minutes so that is usually the route I take. The first couple of times I had to stop and walk some, but I think I’ve learned to pace myself better. I like jogging b/c no equipment is needed and so I can do it when I’m away from home.

A couple of reasons to add weight training to your exercise routine: the more muscle you have - the more calories you burn. Also, once adults reach 40, they begin to lose .5 to 2% of their muscle each year. This can result in becoming less mobile, more bone breaks and more falls that can become life threatening.

For weight training I began with pushups, one arm dumbbell row, dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell curl, triceps kickback, wrist curls, basic crunch. Throughout the 2 months some things were added or dropped – the current weight routine is:

Squat w/60 lb
Bench press w/65 lb
One arm dumbbell row w/45 lb
Dumbbell shoulder press w/26 lb
Barbell curl w/40 lb
Basic crunch – currently on hold b/c I’ve a weird pain in my side that I’m worried might be a hernia or something else caused by the crunches

I'm sure my routine will continue to change - but this is what works best for me at this time in my life. And what works best for me - won't be good for someone else. If one routine doesn't work for you - don't give up, try something else.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Better Than Finding a Buck Last Week

I was walking through the woods hunting for morel mushrooms with another lady on our retreat. I had actually given up on the morels and was hunting for the other lady to tell her I was going back to the cabin. As I was walking, I kept my head down hoping to find even one measly little morel. No such luck.


I found something even better. Something much more exciting. Covered in some leaves, but poking out enough for me to see it - was an antler!!!

Last week I found a dollar bill also known as a buck, this week I found the antler from a buck - so you know what that finds are increasing in value...can't wait to see what I find next week! Perhaps a solid gold belt buckle or a bucket full of money!!

Bloggy GiveAway Returns!

It's time for another Bloggy GiveAways Quarterly Carnival over at "Don't Try This At Home."

Once you leave a comment to win my giveaway - head on over to the carnival and try to win something else too.

My give-away is a brand new copy of the book called "Field Guide To Produce...How to identify, select, and prepare virtually every fruit and vegetable at the market". The book includes color pictures.

I like this book b/c it includes alternative fruit and vegetable names (good for researching), history, storage, ripening techniques, preparation methods and some recipes.

This book does not include a whole lot of global produce - but it's still a good guide to the more likely items you'll find in a larger supermarket that carries some "exotic" produce. I slip my copy of this book into my purse when I go shopping. I liked it so much that I bought another copy to give away to one of my few faithful readers - or to one of my soon-to-be-faithful readers.

So if you are wanting to take an adventure on the food frontier with us - all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your name and your blog URL or email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.

This giveaway is open to those with an USA address. I'll be out of town until Sunday - so when I get home, I'll close the drawing and pick a name.

Only one comment per person.

In Which I Am Served More Food Than I've Ever Seen Before

On our return to civilization yesterday, we stopped at a restaurant I have never been to before.

I don't usually recommend restaurants b/c the type of restaurants I usually visit are not recommend worthy..."Wow I went to this cool restaurant the other day and it was orange and yellow and they have these cute little boxed lunches called "Happy Meals". As I said, not recommend worthy.

But the new restaurant I was at - is recommend worthy...Lotawata Creek Southern Grill. I have never seen such huge food portions in my life. You pretty much have to decide ahead of time that you are going to go with someone else (so you can split a meal), or you'll be bringing home a take-out container filled to overflowing.

The picture above was my meal. You can't really tell from the photo how big it was. I ordered the South Caribbean Jerk Chicken Sandwich..."A large boneless grilled chicken breast, seasoned and marinated in Jamaican Jerk spices. We then top it with leaf lettuce, tomato, sliced red onion and our homemade Chipotle mayonnaise and serve it on our fresh baked bun. Warning: This is a very spicy sandwich."

OK - the warning on the menu (the only one that had a warning) did scare me a bit. I love spicy food and thought perhaps the warning was just a marketing ploy - so I asked our server. She said one man had it the other day and said it wasn't very hot, but most people end up clawing their tongue. I live dangerously - so I went ahead and ordered it. Delicious but not even close to needing the warning.

They start out by bringing you "rolls". I put it in quotations - b/c they are so large it's more like a small loaf of bread. Sweet and light and served with cinnamon butter (I chose regular butter).

Before I even began eating my meal I asked for a take out container and totally filled it with fries and my spicy sandwich. I brought the leftovers home and there was enough for both my dh and I to have for supper...and there were still some fries left over!

I Have Returned!

I had a wonderful weekend.

I ate too much.

I found a great treasure (better than my $1 bill of last week).

I have a great new restaurant recommendation.

My kids survived without me.

The house was in better shape than I left it - thanks to my dh and children :)

So now I have a couple of days to recuperate, do laundry, pack for another trip and then I'm off again for a few days - but this time with the kids on an Amtrak visit to the grandparents.

I'll be posting when I have time...

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm Going Out to Smoke My Pipe I Won't Be Back 'Til Sunday Night...

I am excited to be going on a retreat this weekend, with some ladies from our church. I leave Friday afternoon and return Sunday afternoon. No children allowed :)

I won't be posting for the next few days....Have a nice weekend - I plan to!

Yuca - Cassava Chips

The yuca/cassava chips looked like potato chips so I was eager to try them.

Cassava is a root “vegetable”, and is the third largest source of carbohydrates for humans.

It looks like a long, skinny potato (and can actually be used in place of potatoes), and can be eaten raw or cooked. I found out that tapioca is derived from the cassava (tapioca pudding is a Sunday lunch favorite for the kids and I...serving it warm with some raspberries on top - yum!)

The chips were disappointing. Not enough salt and flavor for me. They are crisp like potato chips - but a bit thicker.

At first ds said he didn't want to try them b/c they were called "yucky". But once he tried them he really enjoyed them and kept wanting to have more. Dd didn't care for them "not much flavor...too crunchy".

Earthshaking News!

...or should I say earthquaking news?

Why am I up at this unnatural hour? I've been up trying to figure out whether or not it was an earthquake we just experienced around 4:40 AM.

Dh and I were both awakened to noise and shaking. He went back to sleep. Me? How can I sleep after possibly experiencing my first earthquake ever? Was the earthquake only as intense as we felt it or were we just on the edge of a 9.9 earthquake that happened a thousand miles away? You see my children do not get their active imagination from their father.

I checked our local news - no mention.

Then I found a link to the world earthquake center - sure enough the earthquake was 150 miles from us, and was listed as a 5.4 earthquake.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

During my morning jog today, two things crossed my path...well I actually was the one crossing the path as both things were stationary.

The first thing was a dead squirrel on the side of the road. Seeing the squirrel brought to mind a song I heard recently.

On a visit to the home of an "older" couple, in part to entertain the children (and the adults), the gentlemen of the house played us some RECORDS on his old record player. Don't know if my kids have ever seen a real record player before (oh so deprived!) so I'm sure they were intrigued.

I am of the record player generation. We had a big old one - guess it was "portable" - that is if you didn't mind lugging around a piece of equipment the size and weight of a large microwave. It was kind of a brown/beige mixed tweed color.

"Archie's here - Veronica too. Betty's here and Hotdog too! Now everythings Archie!" Those are the lyrics from one of the records I remember us playing as kids. I remember a portion of only one other song "Uh sugar, sugar, uh honey, honey, I will be your candy girl..." hmmm not sure what that all means. Surely we didn't just have 2 records in our home but that's all I remember.

Anywhoo back to the record playing recently - one of the songs they played for us was "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road". I was vaguely familiar with that song...or had at least heard the title before...but this night we actually got to hear the whole song. The kids loved it - and so did we. Here is a version on YouTube you can listen to if you like. It's animated so no real animals were harmed in the filming of it :) so any animal activists can look elsewhere for trouble.

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

Crossin' the highway late last night
He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
He didn't see the station wagon car
The skunk got squashed and there you are!

The other item I came across during my jog was some money. Now we all know how common it is to come across a penny. My kids do pick them up - so it's fine for you to leave them behind - it makes them happy. Finding a quarter is pretty exciting. But I found a $1.00 bill! Now you find a penny and you need at least 25 of them to buy a candy or two - but find a dollar and you are no longer limited in your purchase. A chocolate bar. A slurpee. A bag of Salt n Vinegar chips. A bag of candy. An ice-cream cone from McDonalds. I sound like a child don't I?

Pretty pathetic to be excited about finding a dollar bill - I know...but it beats finding a dead squirrel!

Ds pipes up when I told them about my "lucky" find ..."Maybe you can give it to dad to buy some batteries." He needs some rechargeable batteries for his light saber and so he's had batteries on his mind ALL MORNING. Dd pipes up "Maybe you can use it for your trip this weekend." Finding a dollar has endless possibilities.

How would you spend a found dollar bill???

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boys and Pocket Knives - What Age??

This morning I was in my weight room (A.K.A. the laundry room) when there was a knock at the door. The kids know not to bother me when I'm on an adrenaline high - so it must have been an "emergency". Of course what an 8 or 6 yr old thinks is an emergency might just be a "tattle" or it could be a catastrophe.

"Brother is taking apart the blade in the sharpener with a screwdriver?" informs older sister. The laundry room also houses the work bench, so I did see the boy in there earlier getting out a screwdriver - I guess I should have inquired to his need for a screwdriver at that point. I tell her to send her brother to me. Down he comes with these objects in hand:

He had already removed one of the razor sharp blades from the little pencil sharpener. I have to give him points for his dexterity in removing the small screw from the blade - even used the right type of screwdriver head, and for even coming up with the idea in the first place. Remember he is the brother to the daughter of invention.

When I inquired into this dangerous sport, blinking rapidly and with a tearful voice he replied, "I just want to have a knife!"

He's been trying other methods recently...I know he was sharpening a stick with a bread knife the other day and I've heard talk of using some kind of milk lid for a knife ????

He wants a pocket knife. More accurately a Swiss Army Knife.

So this is my question - at what age do you allow a boy to have a pocket knife? I know some folks would say "never" and that's OK, but this is the son of a country boy, so someday he will have a pocket knife - just not sure when.

My dad had 5 girls - but he still gave us various pocket knives...I think they were more along the line of novelty pocket knives a pocket knife shaped like an ear of corn, hanging on a keychain.

The boy just turned 6. I'm sure the age for a pocket knife all depends on the maturity of the child and how much you trust them - but I'd still be curious to know how other folks have handled the pocket knife issue.

Salt & Vinegar Hula Hoops

Yeah I thought Hula Hoops were an old childhood form of entertainment - I didn't expect that someday I would be eating them.

Hula Hoops are flavored "potato rings" from the UK. There were a couple of different flavors - but of course with my love for anything salty and vinegary - I chose that flavor.

The rings are crunchy and a bit hard - but that might have been due to the fact that the "best before" date was over by a month. Speaking of expiration dates - pretty consistently when I am looking for food at the world food store - items are past their "best by" date...sometimes by a month sometimes by MANY months. I have to be real careful when I put something in my cart. I figured the hula hoops were safe - but I wouldn't want to buy some frozen meat or cheese product that was long past the "best by" date.

As you might guess - they taste very similar to potato chips. This tiny little bag cost $1.00. We all enjoyed them. Nice thing about the small package is that if you are one that has little self control when it comes to resisting things like potato chips - there isn't much to over-indulge in.

Works For Me Wednesday - Spare Bed

We haven't used a crib or toddler bed in many years - but we've kept the mattress around.

When company is staying overnight in my daughter's room, we can move her into her brother's room and she can sleep on the crib mattress (or he can - whichever one wants it). It's obviously smaller than a twin mattress but our kids are still small so they can still fit on it comfortably.

The mattress is lightweight and small enough to store under a bed until needed. I can't count the times that little mattress has worked as an extra bed for a child in our home.

For more Work's For Me Wednesday tips - head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I've Always Loved Fire! - Kitchen Tip Tuesday

I've always loved fire! The smell of fire, the brightness and warmth of fire, lighting matches, lighting candles. The smell of wood stoves, fireplaces, bonfires, campfires...even the smell of a match after you blow it out. Perhaps I've a bit of pyromania coursing through my blood...

I got to play with matches today because I broke out the old BBQ for the first grill of the season. Yesterday I made all the preparations for grilling tonight...took the meat out of the freezer...bought some hamburger buns...made sure there was some charcoal and newspaper (for starting the charcoal in the chimney) - then I found out my dh wouldn't be home for dinner tonight.

Since he wouldn't be here for supper - I decided why wait...and started up the grill in the morning so the kids and I could feast at lunch time.

I have this thing about meat being well-cooked, so I'm always a bit apprehensive about grilling...worried that the meat won't be cooked enough and then end up eating meat that is over-cooked. Oh well...

My grilling is pretty simple...usually hamburgers or boneless/skinless chicken breasts...sometimes salmon and sometimes kabobs. I read once that you can make pita bread on the grill and I tried that.

Today it was hamburgers and chicken breasts. Surprisingly dd remarked that the hamburgers were delicious...she's never been fond of hamburgers so I asked her about it "It's just cheeseburgers that I don't like." Strange b/c she does love cheese. The boy wanted some onions "diced" (like McDonalds) and he proceeded to add them to the outside of the hamburger bun! I think he's rec'd McD burgers with a bit of onion accidentally on the outside of the bun - so that's the way he likes.

So if you've read this far - here is my Kitchen Tip Tuesday. Many moons ago I read that to ensure the middle of your burger cooks all the way through - after you have formed the patty, stick your finger through the center of the patty, making a small hole (so it looks like a donut). Now there is no dense middle portion that might still be a bit "red" after grilling.

Matpewka Cookies - Russia

These are some of the sweetest and most unique little cookies I've come cross. They are flat with a raised imprint of a Russian nesting doll.

I remember my grandma had a set of the Russian nesting was fun to un-nest the dolls, line them up and put them back together again.

I thought that the idea of stacking dolls was originally from Russia - but apparently the first nesting dolls were actually made in China in the early 1800s.

The name of the cookies Matpewka - comes from the Russian name for "mother"...the dolls are a symbol of fertility and motherhood.

These cookies were not overly sweet and actually did not have much flavor - but we still enjoyed them with our tea today.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the mother of invention...if that is so, my girl is the daughter of invention (if there is such a thing).

As I've mentioned before, if something is not being playing with, used, worn or read, and especially if it is an item that is large and hard to store - it will end up being donated at some point.

Yesterday before supper, dd asked "where is my doll highchair?" The deal is, she rarely plays with dolls - the interest kind of comes and goes and hasn't been coming as often. She rarely played with the doll highchair - which fell into the category of items not been played with and being kind of large and hard to store - so it went out with the last batch of thrift store donations about a month ago.

She was grieved for about 15 seconds and then just matter-of-factly announced "I guess I'm gonna have to make one". She disappeared for awhile and came back with a cardboard box. But not just a regular cardboard box - do one thing and it's a car for pulling the doll in...or flip it over, force the doll's feet inside (I actually heard her cry out in pain) and it's a highchair. She continued to extol it's virtues but I was in the midst of getting supper so I kind of wasn't paying attention the whole time. She was excited enough about her "invention" that she had to explain it all to dad when he got home...kind of like one of those ginsu knife commercials "cut through a nail, a tin can, and a radiator hose and still cut a tomato paper thin...but wait there's more".

The point is - are we stifling our kids' imaginations and creativity by giving them, and buying for them, everything they want?

I sometimes think of the toys the pioneer children probably had...sticks, rocks, dirt, water, maybe a cornhusk doll, some blocks of wood perhaps. Few (or no) books, little or (no) paper, pens, crayons, markers.

I figure those pioneer children turned out just fine with their limited toy resources, so I don't need to feel guilty about getting rid of toys that are not being played with. Of course I don't get rid of toys/books etc. with significance attached to them ...the little baby board book "I Love Daddy"...with flaps that you open...with broken flaps and the edges of the book badly gnawed by a roly poly little teething baby, the wooden baby rattle that a friend in Japan sent and other special gifts given by those the children love.

Sometimes kids just need to be left to their own resources...

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Don't Know What Was in the Mustard

I love mustard. I'm willing to try most kinds - but my favorite is probably spicy brown. I'm not crazy about mayo on my sandwiches - so any sandwich that might usually have mayo (other than egg salad) - I substitute mustard.

Today I went to Subway (kid's forced me into that) and bought a Veggie Delite Sub. Wholewheat bread with a bit of cheese, veggies and topped off with some "spicy brown mustard". I'm sure I've ordered it like that before and it was great.

Well no doubt about it - when they say spicy brown mustard, they really mean it! I don't know if I have ever eaten something before today, that actually burned the lining of my nostrils! A first time for everything. Great pain. Burning. Eyes tearing up I'm sure. It was very strange and a bit scary. It didn't happen with every bite - so there must have been areas of the sub that had greater mustard concentrations.

Let's just say if you have a stuffed up nose due to a head cold - just head on over to Subway and ask for a double dose of spicy brown mustard on your sub!

There was a large sized, cardboard cut out of Jared of Subway Weight Reduction fame, inside the store. Said he's kept off his weight for 10 years!

When the kids heard his story - they said they wanted to eat at Subway everyday b/c they needed to lose weight. Of course they don't need to lose weight. I think it had more to do with the fact that they were eating a PIZZA SUB - which they love - and which was most likely NOT on Jared's Subway diet plan.

Pillows Ube-Filled Crackers

These deep lavender colored "crackers" were very tasty.

Ube is the Filipino word for purple yam. I admit I do not taste anything yamish or purple-ish about these treats.

The outside reminds me of Rice Chex cereal, painted purple. The inside is filled with some purple ube that tastes like the white part of an Oreo cookie.

The boy just took a small bite and said "yuck". The girl liked the pillows a lot and asked for more.

A 42 g bag cost about $1, and comes from the Philippines. The main ingredients are: milk powder, sugar, rice, wheat, salt, natural and artificial ube flavor.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How Not to Look Old

When I went to pick up my books that I placed on hold at the library, I saw a book I did not remember ordering.

That isn't too unusual because sometimes I might request a book or dvd months before it ever gets around to being my turn to check it out. Or sometimes my dh will place a book on hold on my library card without my knowing about it. Sometimes it's just a library error and I figure it out right away because it will be something totally strange and beyond our scope of "How to Raise Baby Goats for Hormone-Free Eating" or "Horror Movies of the 90's" or "Algebra for Fun".

The book that appeared in my library lot yesterday was called "How Not to Look Old...Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better". I asked my husband this morning if he ordered it for me, he didn't. So I figure I must have seen the book referenced somewhere, thought it sounded interesting, and decided to order it. That or someone at the library figured I needed it.

I'm soon to be 40 - and though I know I probably won't ever look 20 again - I wouldn't mind a few tips on looking better. Though from a health perspective I'd rather be 10 lbs lighter than look 10 lbs lighter.

Notice in the subtitle of the book above it says "fast and effortless ways". Well just skimming through this book I'm not sure how effortless some of these tips are. For example the section on "Brow Fixes: Extensions, Prosthetics, and Tattooing." This talks about what women with thinning or loss of eyebrow hairs may choose to do to thicken them up a bit. A 90 min brow extension service can cost $100 and up and would need a redo in about a month. Or if you decide to go with the tattoo it can cost about $500...but the problem with that is that it will eventually fade to a lovely purple color, which, unless you are a circus clown - it will need to be touched up.

I guess I'm not so sure what is "effortless" about the above procedures other than you would not be the one applying the extensions or the tattoo so you could just lay there for 90 min or so and "relax".

In all fairness there are some helpful tips that are effortless in the book, like wearing pink lipstick instead of dark red...or changing a hairstyle or your wardrobe (didn't say it would be inexpensive).

I'm going to continue reading this book - though I'm not sure if I will ultimately change much. All the pictures of the women in the book are from "Hollywood". Photos of women that have probably had plastic surgery, have had professionals style their hair and makeup prior to the photos and are wearing clothes that may look nice - but they are far above the amount I'd ever spend.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Party

It is amazing how excited children tend to get anticipating their birthday parties. Not only do they become a year older (which when you are less than 18 - gaining a year is always a big deal) - but they get presents too! Sure they get presents at Christmas, but on their birthday - the gifts go to them alone. Big deal when you are 6...

In our family, we don't really have a set way of handling birthdays. Seems like I remember when I was growing up that we got to choose the flavor of the birthday cake (I liked choosing Confetti Angel Food Cake With Vanilla Betty Crocker Icing/Frosting), and usually had some friends over for a party.

Last year the birthday boy had some friends over - this year he had some relatives over for his birthday. His grandma was in town so she came, and his aunt and two cousins also came over.

One thing we've done somewhat consistently, is let the birthday girl or boy choose the party "theme", the cake and choose the menu (within reason). Ds choose a spice cake - he must have had spice cake sometime in the last few months before the party b/c he declared that was the best cake and that is what he wanted. He, with a little assistance, decided on a caramel frosting.

I have sometimes made the cakes from scratch - but I decided to go the easy way this time - enlisting my friends Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker.

You know I have never been successful at cake decorating. Decorating cakes to me usually means frosting a cake with a tub of store-bought frosting and then placing plastic decorations on top that fit with the "theme".

A few years ago ds received some cowboy cookie cutters (cactus, cowboy boot etc.), and then a year or so ago I purchased a teepee and cowboy cookie cutter while visiting Silver Dollar City.

I decided the kids could help make some cookies and we'd use those to "decorate" the cake. There were also extra cookies that they could eat before, during, and after the party.

The cookies may look a bit darker than usual because I was following a recipe from a new magazine I received "Seasons at Home", and when I came to the flour part of the recipe I saw it was whole wheat flour. Now I've been trying to fit in more whole grains into our diet but hadn't thought of using the whole wheat in sugar cookies. And actually I was a bit scared - so I didn't use all whole wheat flour.

Well the kids loved them. Of course you add some sugar sprinkles and or frosting to anything (including cardboard) and the kids will love it!

Ds also requested a fruit "bouquet". A fruit bouquet is pieces of fruit cut in different shapes, skewered, then poked into a basket. Generally you'd want to use cutters shaped like flowers, hearts, stars etc. But since this was a C&I party - the shapes were things like cowboy boots, cowboys, horses, cow heads, sheriff stars etc. I just used regular cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.

At the bottom of the basket you place a head of iceberg lettuce to anchor the skewers. Since I had the top of a pineapple and it looked nice and green and leafy - I decided to cut out the center of the lettuce and poke in the pineapple top. Seemed to add a nice bit of leafiness.

The main course that the boy choose was corn dogs and cheesy shell noodles.

Last year for my dd's birthday I had bought something called sparkler candles. You use them instead of candles and they are similar, but smaller than the sparklers you might use on the 4th of July (or Canada Day for you Canadians).

Well this year I bought some more. Or so I thought. When I was reading the instructions on the back of the package it said "for outdoor use only". I thought that a bit odd. It was also strange that they took so long to light, so that one was practically burnt out before I got them all lit. Makes me wonder if the ones I bought last year were meant for cakes and the ones I bought this year were indeed meant for outdoor use only. No fires were started - so no problem.

As part of his special day - ds also got to choose a special activity for the family to do, or a restaurant for us all to go to for supper. Fitting in with the cowboy theme he choose Bandana's Bar-B-Q.

When I was getting ready to serve the cake, ds announced that he was not wanting any because "I'm not feeling well and I wasn't feeling well in the night". This announcement came, incidentally, after he sprayed his germs all over the cake trying to blow out the sparkers.

Thankfully that announcement seemed to be a "false alarm" b/c there was no further indication of illness yesterday or today. I think he was probably too excited to eat - he just wanted to continue playing with all his birthday loot.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Birthday (cow)Boy

Today my "baby" turned 6.

He decided quite some time ago that he wanted the birthday "theme" to be, the perhaps politically incorrect, "Cowboys and Indians".

My boy has never been interested in cars/trucks/machines...pretty much as soon as he was old enough to develop an "obsession" or field of interest, it was people or things related to weaponry (Knights, the Army, knives, guns).

Right now he is watching a DVD that he received for his birthday, called "Knife and Tomahawk Throwing for Fun" by He received it from his grandma, but I know it was purchased through Vision Forum.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Does An Apple A Day Keep the Dentist Away Also?

I'm hoping it does.

My dental future though, was etched in stone many moons ago. By the time I realized going to the dentist wasn't so fun and how I wished I had taken better care of my teeth, it was too late.

I have vague memories of being "put to sleep" (not in the way an animal is "put to sleep" but under anesthetic) to have dental work done when I was very young.

I have other memories of getting the "Mickey Mouse Nose" as my childhood dentist called the "laughing gas" that was placed on my face while dental work was being performed. I'd say there wasn't much laughing going on.

Yesterday I went to the dentist to have my crazy broken tooth (from Christmas Day) finally fixed. I kept putting it off until I started worrying that maybe more bits were going to break off and I'd end up in a bigger fix (and have a bigger bill) - if I didn't get it fixed now.

So I made an appointment - far enough in advance to give myself some time to build up my courage, but not too far in advance that it would be broken to bits by the time my appointment arrived.

My dentist is a jolly character. He seems familiar - like a character in a Dickens' novel - but not sure which one. The way he talks and jokes constantly. The way he moves his hands. I know it's all about putting the patient at ease.

Of course there was almost zero pain. Even the shot of novacaine didn't hurt b/c a topical numbing agent was first applied. It freaked me out a bit when my tongue also started feeling numb. I have visions (or maybe I've read stories...urban legends??) of some of that numbing stuff going down my throat and me being unable to swallow and breathe.

No pain was good - but oh the sound of the drill! The grinding, the vibration. I wondered, if I opened my eyes and looked, would there be smoke wafting up into the air. I was wondering too, if the only way I'll realize that the novacaine didn't quite work, would be when it was too late to do anything about it.

The dentist continually made soothing remarks and complimentary remarks on his dental handiwork. It was all finished within about 30 minutes. It ended with him thanking me for my "poise".

Walking out - I thought again how I wished that I could have taken better care of my teeth during my younger days. A few less candy bars, a few more toothbrushings.

Glico Pretz - Japanese Snack

I've always enjoyed the way Japan has cutesified (if that is a word) everyday products.

This little snack is called Pretz and it's cute. Pretz looks like pretzel sticks, but tastes like chocolate.

The Pretz comes in a little box that has a flip top that kind of reminds me of a package of cigarettes.

On the English version of the nutritional facts these pretzels are called "Baked Wheat Cracker - Pretz Caramel Cocoa." It does have a mild cocoa and caramel flavor and smells like caramel too. A great combination. I haven't had one in a long time but that flavor combination reminded me of some chocolate Rolo candy...or Caramilk Chocolate bars which used to be one of my favorite treats.

The kids loved the Pretz also. Apparently they come in different flavors, so the next time we're at the world food store I'm going to see what other flavors they carry.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Speaking of Finding Body Parts in Chili

There is something else that if I find it in my chili or salad or pretty much anything I'm will kill my appetite for that food pretty quickly. Hair.

Doesn't matter if it's food I've prepared myself and most likely my own hair - it just grosses me out severely.

I must attribute this hair in food aversion to my mother :) I recollect her telling stories of hair in food when I was growing up.

One time in high school I was eating in the school cafeteria. No need really b/c I lived about a block away from the high school. But I had friends that ate in the cafeteria so sometimes I liked to eat there too.

I distinctly remember ordering some spaghetti and sitting down to eat it. At some point I found "the hair". For some reason I figured it wasn't mine and thought it probably belonged to a certain greasy haired boy I noticed working in the cafeteria. But this is the strange part. I still finished the spaghetti. All I can say is I must have been STARVING. But seems like AFTERWARDS I was more grossed out thinking that I had finished the hair tainted spaghetti.

Now that I've grown up and become more mature (to some degree) - if I am say eating at someone's house and I would find a hair in my food - I'd probably discreetly remove the hair and continue eating. Or at least eating the other food on my plate. If I could get by with no one noticing - I'd throw the food away and not finish eating any of it.

All of this hair in food is made worse by the fact that I am continually shedding. My hair is thin and obviously becoming more so. I barely have to move my head and my hair falls out.

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Famous German" Whole Rye Bread with Muesli

This bread comes from Germany. I think I purchased it for about $2. It's not nearly as large as a regular loaf of bread - but what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste! There are no preservatives added to the bread - but the shelf life is pretty long. A good kind of bread to bring along on a camping trip or picnic.

This bread is dense and full of flavor. The ingredients include: whole kernel rye, water, wholemeal rye, wholemeal wheat, oat flakes, non-sulphurated sultanas, whole hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, linseed, sesame, yeast, salt.

I love this bread! It is best toasted and then spread with a thin layer of margarine/butter. Eat it with a bowl of homemade soup - Yum!

Of course b/c I love it so much - the kids didn't. Ds thought it had a molasses flavor - which it does somewhat. I really like bread that has substance to it - rather than "sandwich bread" of the store bought variety that is almost like glue after chewing it a couple of times.

Aldi sometimes carries a similar bread when they are doing their "German" themed products.

Keep Sharp Implements Away From Me

I haven't had a very good track record these past couple of days, in the slicing and dicing department.

I bought my dh some new disposable razors. He's tried various kinds before and decided that the plastic throw away kind work just as good as the more expensive just-change-the-blade variety of razors.

These razors looked a bit different - instead of having a removable protective "cap", the razor and cap were attached. The cap says "open" has and arrows pointing up, to indicate how to move the cap up so you could use the blade.

I thought I'd give it a try. The first time it was hard to do and my hands were wet - so this time my hands were dry and I pushed up like the arrows indicated, and sliced through my thumb. It bled quite a bit. Not a lot of pain. I wondered if I needed stitches. At least it was a clean slice.

My dh later told me that you are not supposed to slide the cap up in the middle of the razor or what happened to me will happen. I guess those of a higher I.Q. than myself would have realized that you grasp the cap at the corners and push up - thereby keeping your digits intact.

My thumb injury (which was on my right hand) is healing nicely. Still bleeds from time to time.

Then tonight I am sawing through an egg salad sandwich (not really sure where the salad comes into the equation of that name). The top layer was the heel of the bread - a part that some folks refuse to eat for some strange reason (it happens to be my favorite part). Well this sandwich heel was rather tough b/c a) it had been in the freezer which always dries bread out b) it was over baked c) I threw a lot of extra stuff into the bread so it was kind of dense). So anywhoo - slicing through an egg salad sandwich should, generally, be a super easy task. A task that shouldn't require anything more heavy duty that a butter knife - actually most times you could easily just TEAR it in half. But I took out my new super duper sharp tomato knife. I'm not used to having such nice sharp knives around, so when I needed a knife for cutting my pickles (to add to the egg salad - which was the only vegetable that this "salad" contained) I chose my new knife.

So I'm proceeding to cut through the heel or trying to - and the knife slips and instead of cutting the bread it cuts my baby finger (on my left hand). Enough bleeding occurs to soak through the bandage (which is more information than the squeamish members of my readership care to know I imagine).

In case anyone cares to know - I bought the knife at a Mennonite bulk food store. The company that makes the knives is called "Rada Cutlery." I bought a couple of other knives from there - so I better be careful. A slice is one thing - a missing finger is another. Better watch it when I slice the onions for my chili.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I Love eBay!

I am an eBay seller and an eBay buyer. 100% feedback on 456 far. My first sales were some Janette Oke books I think...and some early purchases might have been some old Cherry Ames books. Funny that I can remember that from 8 years ago.

Well when Rocks in My Dryer posted a link to an eBay song by Weird Al Yankovich on Youtube - I had to check it out. It was great! Course if you've never bought or sold anything on eBay it might be rather boring - but I loved it.

Now look closely at the snow globe - I didn't notice this until I had seen it a couple of times...thought that was funny. Now makes me wonder if they really have a snow globe like that b/c if they do I might need to buy one on eBay!

In case you want to hear it - click on this link.

Now I Wouldn't Call Myself a Hypochondriac

But I would say that when symptoms appear, my concerns for the typical ailment diagnosis gets replaced by something a bit more complex...more serious...maybe even fatal.

Is that a chest pain I'm having? Heart attack imminent? Actually that was what in part spurred me on to beginning to exercise and watch my diet about 5 years ago. I remember laying in bed and having a funny feeling/pain in my chest and I thought "what if I have heart problems?" "Could this be the beginning of a heart attack?" I decided to just go to sleep and see what happened. Nothing happened except I fell asleep. But, that experience, combined with seeing myself in a fitting room mirror and seeing more rolls than a bakery, made me change my lifestyle. Anywhoooo....

This morning I was gonna go for a jog. This is a relatively new experience for me...I thought I'd add something to my exercise regime b/c I was getting bored with the Nordic Trak after 5 yrs and figured my body was just adjusting itself to the workout so I needed to add something more challenging. My plan is to do weight training about 3 days a week and the other 4 days change between the Nordic and jogging.

The last time I went jogging my legs were killing me for a couple of days - shin splints. Or so the simple diagnosis would say. I decided to Google "Shin Splints" to see what I can do to avoid them. Bad mistake.

Here I was thinking I only needed to avoid the shin splints but now I see that I could actually be suffering from a (can be) fatal ailment called "Compartment Syndrome".

Google can be your friend or it can be your enemy. If you are looking for peace of mind, you might be looking in the wrong place. But I still do it. And it's entertaining. In 30 seconds you can go from having an innocent looking rash to having Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Birthday Freebies

Throughout the past few years we have come across various fast food places that have "Birthday Clubs" or recognize children's birthdays with a free ice-cream or children's meal.

Since my ds's birthday is next week - the freebies have been arriving.

McDonalds - Free Happy Meal coupon plus coupons for a free pie or small cone with the purchase of a (separate) Happy Meal and a free cheeseburger with the purchase of a (separate) Happy Meal.

Sonic - Free Kid's Meal Wacky Pack

Local Dairy Queen - Free Sundae

Captain D's - Free Kid's Meal (haven't received it yet - but have in previous years)

Bandana's Bar-B-Q - When you eat there on your "bouquet" of lollipops wrapped in a bandana and your name announced over the P.A. (ds is excited about this - we went on my birthday and so he knows all about it - so he decided he wanted to go there on his birthday...all for the lollipops I'm sure).

You can either go to the restaurants' websites to sign up for the birthday clubs or sometimes they will have a form to fill out inside the restaurant.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Laddu - India

Laddu is an Indian sweet that is traditionally served to celebrate weddings.

They remind me of little ball shaped cookies. I checked out the ingredients and nothing looked "surprising" (ie. expecting sweet and getting spicy) - so I thought these would be tasty.

I didn't let them defrost before microwaving them, which may have been the reason that they kind of exploded when I cooked them for about 2 min on high. The instructions did say to let them come to room temperature first - but of course I'm not one to always follow instructions - especially when I'm in a hurry.

I loved the laddu!!!!!!!!!! Good as any "regular" cookie type treat I've had. Sweet and a bit chewy and buttery - no "weird" spicy flavor.

The kids did not like it! Weird! Strange! How could they not like it?? There are quite a few in the package and I only cooked up a few, so I'm going to try having the kids taste them again some time. They both agreed that it was sweet.

You can tell from the grease on the napkin that these were NOT low fat - that part looks pretty disgusting.

Ingredients were: basen flour, sugar, butter, cashew nut, raisins, cardamom. Only thing objectionable from their point of view could have been the cardamom. I've used that spice before and they were not too thrilled.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Golden Temple - Naan Bread Mix and Homemade Butter

Naan is a traditional Indian bread. I've tried making it before and found it to be similar to pita bread - without the pocket...

I found a NAAN bread mix at Big Lots for only 70 cents so I thought I'd give it a try.

One problem - I should have rolled these out and flattened them more b/c they ended up being very dense - almost like a biscuit.

They tasted wonderful - but just one had 180 calories - which seemed like a lot to me. The box made 8.

Here is a YouTube clip on how to make your own Naan. You will see that my round Naan above doesn't quite look as it ought.

To go with it, we made some homemade butter. Dd had been asking me about it for some time so I went out and bought some whipping cream (just a very small carton). We dumped the cream into an empty, but clean, de-caf instant coffee container, and shook with all our might. It helped that there were 3 of us to take turns with the shaking.

It is a very cool process to watch/experience...every child should do it at least once.

It probably took about 15 of 20 minutes of shaking - it's fun once you can hear the change of consistency - a clumping around and water swishing (the buttermilk coming out).

After it's solid - you rinse the butter in cold water, until the water runs clear. You can add salt if you want. We didn't add salt - to the butter was quite bland - but still a fun project.

Eggs With Toast Soldiers

As a child I remember having hard or soft boiled eggs in an egg cup. We would cut off the top - and then add salt/pepper and butter to the inside of the egg. Delicious!

Recently I've come across a few references to eggs with soldiers or "toast soldiers". I wanted to find out what it meant, so I searched around a bit.

Seems like the "toast soldiers" are a British "comfort food". The soldiers are thinly sliced pieces of toast that can be dipped into a soft boiled egg. Makes sense. I love my fried eggs slightly runny (the yoke - not the little bit of white that surrounds the yoke - if that is runny too - I gag!) - and like to dip toast into the fried egg. A bit of ketchup rounds it out.

"A soldier is British term that refers to a piece of toast cut into thin strips reminiscent of the formation of soldiers on parade. The toast is sliced in this manner so that it can be dipped into the opening of a soft boiled egg that has had the top of its shell removed.Another belief for the origin of the name is from the childhood rhyme "Humpty Dumpty". The bread refers to the soldiers who went to rescue Humpty Dumpty when he had his "great fall." (from Wikipedia)

For lunch yesterday I decided to make some eggs with toast soldiers for the kids. I read that they are also called "Eggy Soldiers" and so that is what I called them when telling the kids what was for lunch. They were perplexed.

I prepared the meal and ds ran off and brought something back that he thought should be a part of the meal - b/c eggy soldiers need some real soldiers.

Not to be outdone - sister ran and did the same. There were definitely some eggy soldiers on the table.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Homemade Pretzels and A Proud 8 Year Old

I was all ready to begin my bread making yesterday afternoon when dd piped up that she wanted to make something "all by myself." She ran and got a recipe book and found a recipe for pretzels. It wasn't a good recipe b/c the measurements were in ounces - so I sent her to find a different one.

She came back with an old Martha Stewart Kids' Magazine (we both LOVED that magazine - sorry that it ever ceased publication) and a simpler recipe. At first I didn't plan to let her do it all herself b/c I didn't think she could do it - plus sometimes it's hard to relinquish control in the kitchen...easier to do it myself...less messy...less time.

But then (thankfully) I saw the proverbial light - and just kept my hands off the project. Dd has helped me bake bread before and has been a good little kneader when I've needed her to knead - so she kind of new how it all worked to make some pretzel dough.

The only thing I did was make some reminders like "do you think you ought to start the water boiling" or "should you turn on the oven to pre-heat".

I also took the pretzels out of the oven for her.

They turned out great! Some were sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and some with coarse salt.

She was excited to have made something from start to finish on her own.

April Fools Day

Yesterday I came upstairs to find these unusual things...a dog reading a Trixie Belden book on the toilet...I can see why the dog would like to read Trixie Belden - that was one of my favorite series when I was younger. Not only does the dog and I like Trixie, but so does dd. It's hard to believe she is reading books that I read and MY mother read before I did.

A deep sea diver in the bathroom sink...

A music loving cowboy....

The kids thought they'd do a little April Foolin'...the girl was also dressed in the boy's clothes and the boy in one of the girl's dresses.

This morning the girl came and told me "Brother was messing with my alarm clock yesterday and so I woke up at 3:00 AM - can you tell him he's not allowed to do that anymore?" Maybe it was his own little April Fools joke - he (and I) had a good laugh about it.

Of course where did he learn to do that anyway? Well b/c big sister did that to dad's alarm clock a couple of weeks ago. It's more fun to do the foolin' than to be the fooled.