Saturday, October 17, 2015

In Our Kitchen

Here's a quick look at a few enjoyable things that have recently graced our table, not organized, but in the order they came off my memory card:

Curry chicken salad sandwiches were just something quick and easy I made for lunch one day. Shredded chicken and diced apples with mayonnaise mixed in until it is as "wet" as you like it.  Then season with salt, pepper, and curry powder to your tastes.  Serve between two slices of bread.

Corn Orzo Zucchini Salad except I left out the onion and jalapeƱo it called for because my kids and I don't like the bite.  (Jeremy on the other hand puts sriracha sauce on almost everything we eat!)  And even though I halved the recipe there was still enough leftovers to make the frittata noted in the recipe, however I was short on eggs that night so I made it into fritters instead and we enjoyed it a second time.  (Actually the boys probably liked it better as fritters, but Jeremy and I loved it the night it was salad as well--flavored with lemon, basil and goat cheese, it really was tasty. )

This was one of those bummer times when the person in charge of picking up groceries (we won't name names) grabbed one package of Cod, which was only two fillets, not even a pound total!  It was a real shame, because it was very good. We just doubled up on the veggies to fill our tummies with this Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Olives.

This Plum Bluberry Upside-Down Cake was a delicious seasonal treat, and the surprise flavor comes from a teaspoon of poppy seeds!  But watch out on the directions, because only half of the 1 cup of sugar is supposed to go into the bottom of the pan with the fruit--oops!  Our cake had a bit of a sugar crust on top--not that anyone complained. . .

I was hankering for some Molasses Sandwich Cookies to get me in the fall mood down here in 95 degree Texas.  I love the creamy molasses filling, but note that it usually makes more than I need for the number of cookies.

On night when looking through the fridge with no plan I looked up some of the ingredients we had and came across a recipe for these Stuffed Pepper Bites.  Although, I didn't go for the suggested filling but used a recipe for Teriyaki Meatballs instead, because that's what sounded good to me.  I made extra meatballs with the leftover filling, and my kids were loving all of it.

This Three Pepper Slaw looks a little boring but that's because It's only a one-color pepper slaw.  Because when I wrote "colored sweet peppers" on the grocery list, the person shopping (again, no names. . . ) brought home the bag of mini peppers that I ended up using to make those stuffed pepper bites above.  (Seriously, did I mention I'm pregnant? and feeling very lazy?  I'm not up to grocery shopping right now!  And actually totally grateful that Jeremy will go do it.) But the next week he brought home a three-pack of yellow peppers because they were on mark-down, so I made this salad that week with them.  It seems boring but the mustard dressing is what makes this so flavorful and fresh!

I don't have a recipe for this Stromboli.  We used our regular pizza crust recipe, and then rolled up what we wanted inside.  One was more pizza-like with tomato sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella, olives and mushrooms.  The other one was pesto, salami and ham, pepperoncinis, olives and mozzarella.  (Also, they were much longer!  We'd already eaten two thirds before I took the picture, but the heels are still there because, they're the heels of course.)

This final one is something I first threw together out of cupboard contents on a night when I was sure we were going to subsist on beans and rice for the rest of our lives!  We have since made it multiple times, because it is actually tasty.  I call it Tropical Rice because giving made-up recipes from the dregs of your pantry a "real" name fools the kids into eating it.

(Side note: When we moved onto the vineyard, we lived in a partially-furnished vacation home of a Chinese couple, and that was our first time ever using a rice cooker.  I always thought it was a "uni-tasker" and therefore had no place in the kitchen, but I came to see the errors of my ways.  So when we moved to Nebraska and I was buying Rory a "new" car seat at a garage sale, I had the woman throw in a small rice cooker to seal our deal.  Now we use it all the time.)

So to make "Tropical Rice" I use coconut milk to replace some or all of the water needed to cook the rice.  I usually throw in a can of white beans if I want it to be the "main" dish. Then I add some shredded coconut, and mix it up and leave it to cook in the rice cooker.  When that is done I add chopped pineapple (I think we've also used mango, and if either are coming from a can use the juice to replace the rest of the water for the rice), and sprinkle on some sunflower seeds for crunch.  This time (if you notice the char on the pineapple) was the night after we grilled on the barbecue, so we had a few leftover bratwurst sausages that I chopped up as well.

Well, those are some things that have been going on in our kitchen lately, we're almost to the change in seasons, which will really start to change things up in the kitchen as well!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New House: Month One

We moved into our first home one month ago.

It's a nice little home for our family.  We chose a home well-within our current means with the idea of not taking 30 years to pay it off.  Also, with the idea that, since we finally have a real income, we'd like to be able to have some of that income available to make plans with and do things along the way to paying off the mortgage as well.  

That said--the home is a bit of a fixer-upper.  It's totally livable and we are so happy to have it.  We just also have lots of ideas for improving it.  

The project that I din't think would be first, but ended up being first, was some stripey wallpaper in the extra room.  

On day two, Jeremy said, "That's gonna be the first thing to go!" 

I was surprised, as I never dreamt of keeping the wallpaper, but hadn't realized it bothered him so much.  

On night three Owen was sitting in the reading chair in that room and said, "It's making me dizzy." And truth be told, it was sort of like one of those mind bender puzzles, "look at the dot in the center and watch as the outside begins to appear to swirling around the center point like a washing machine!"

So right then and there I started peeling off the wallpaper.  It took two nights and left a completely unfinished, unplastered, drywall with joint-compounded-seams wall. After a few days I searched the shelves in the garage and came up with some beige paint plus primer, and started painting.  

It looks much better now--in that "different colored accent wall" kind of way.  And it's perfect for waiting out further plans.

Then I tried hanging up our flower alphabet cards (as this is our "dining-turned-computer/school/reading room off of the kitchen), but since living in Texas requires ceiling fans running at full blast, half the cards fell down by the end of the first day.  It's now been two weeks and the rest have stayed put, so. . . apparently I need to come up with a plan to get the first ones back on the wall.

But the wallpaper removal and painting are all we have done so far inside the house.  We've done a lot more outside the house, though.

We have a 1/3 acre lot.

That's one of the reasons we bought an older house as well.  Newer houses are on much smaller lots, and have HOA's--Bleh!

The lot was one of the most important factors in choosing a house for us.  And we ended up finding a home on a third acre, mostly open lot.

After watching the neighborhood hummingbirds fight over our feeder of imitation nectar, we figured we could put in an actual pollinator garden for them.

This is the beginnings of that (with cardboard mulch to kill the grass) and I have already seen a hummingbird at that tall one in the center with the small orange flowers!

Speaking of killing grass. . . I layed out three beds for raised garden space.  It's time to be planting already, but I have plenty of experience with fall gardening and season-extending, so I'm not worried about it yet--just being patient.

This is the beginnings of our permaculture swale and berm food forest.  (More on that another day.) Jeremy and I placed our first order from a Texas nursery for trees and other edible perennials last week during a free shipping sale, but they won't come until planting season--probably November.

And this is the beginning of a homemade play structure.  We kind of planned something out, and Jeremy went and bought the wood, but came home with a bit of sticker shock.  So we looked up the cheapest play structure on and proved to ourselves that we were indeed doing it significantly cheaper as a DIY.  

The plan is to erect it under this oak tree, so that it is not really a "tree fort" but a fort up under the canopy of the tree--still fun?  We hope so. 

And those are our accomplishments of month one as homeowners. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Day I Learned to Not Resent Doing Dishes

Housekeeping is not my strongest suit.  I love being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom--but housekeeping is a struggle for me.

Dishes, in particular, have been my least favorite task. (One of the problems is that I love to cook, but make a big mess doing so.)  Jeremy and I have had a loose agreement since getting married that dishes were going to be "his job".   The problem is--dishes aren't really his strong point either.

Me, in an apron.  (For making, not cleaning!)
I remember one time early in our marriage my dad came to visit us in our 7 foot high basement apartment with one small sink in the kitchen, and (if my memory is correct) he literally spent multiple days doing dishes to get us caught up.  (Without a hint of disappointment in me--which was the greater service?)  And over the years there have been multiple occasions where a good friend would help me work on dishes when she came over to hang out.

The thing is, I always felt like dishes were my responsibility.  So in the same breath as asking Jeremy to take care of the dishes I would claim responsibility for them.  Because "everyone knows that dishes are a woman's job."  Jeremy was not saying this, nor did he believe it, but I was telling myself it.  So I would sulk and moan over the dishes, and resent the time I spent working on them.

Until one night, while in the midst of a pile of dishes I was pondering my resentful feelings and pondering my responsibilities in our home and the words of The Proclamation to the World on the Family came to my mind:

"Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."

That's what it says.  It doesn't say, 'and that means women do all the housework and change all the poopy baby diapers.'  In fact in terms of physically caring for our households the proclamation speaks of both parents:

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." 

And further notes to do so in unity and equality:

"In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

And it hit me and sunk in--Doing the dishes is not my "responsibility" as the woman in the home.  It's just not.  And for anyone that thinks, from a cultural standpoint--as I used to--that "yeah, but it really is," is wrong.

When I die and stand before the judgement bar, I will not be asked if I faithfully washed all my family's dishes.  

That moment changed my outlook on doing dishes.   I no longer work on dishes resenting the cultural mandate that it is my responsibility.  I know it is not my responsibility, and when I work on the dishes, it is as a service to my family.  It's as a service to my husband.  It is as an opportunity for me to help make our home the environment we want for our family, but it is not because dishes are the "woman's job".  

Dishes are still "Jeremy's job", but since that day I've chosen to do this dishes much more frequently than before.  I feel a greater sense of satisfaction when I work on the dishes.  And I'm grateful for the knowledge of what my responsibilities as a woman and a mother truly are.  

It's the twentieth anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and there's no denying that the topics were revelatory for this current issues of this generation, and I believe the doctrines were as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


We're visiting my sister in southwest Washington--checking on the job market, among other things--and we are once again enjoying blueberry season with her family.

The season is just ramping up with lot's of unripe berries covering her bushes.

Along with plenty of ripe ones as well.

It's a part of our daily rhythm here to spend a few minutes every day walking down her row of bushes scanning for the pops of blue.

Even Rory.

Yep, he can spot the berries, and if we don't pick them fast enough for him he lunges out of our arms to get them himself!

He wolfs them down so quickly I doubt he's chewing them.  And he makes sounds that make me think of the tremendous mouthful little bear eats in Blueberries for Sal.

I also feel strange security knowing that If I was to loose little Rory in the woods he could feed himself to stay alive until he was rescued!

Just kidding.

But some days we pick colanders full of berries and make all the delicious blueberry things we can think of: blueberry muffins and pancakes, blueberry pie and cobbler, plenty of blueberry jam.  And a new one this year--blueberry cream cheese!

Sometimes I forget that anything I've eaten as a processed food from the grocery store will invariably taste more delicious than imaginable when recreated with fresh ingredients at home.

(Move over little silver plastic tub--here comes the real deal!)

The homemade blueberry cream cheese my brother-in-law made was a delicious hit, and a perfect match for Jeremy's homemade bagels.  (It's true my sister and I both scored in the husband department!)

Blueberries every day.

Can you blame us for wanting to move here?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Try Again

Obviously there was a hiccup in the video as originally posted in the last blog.  The soundtrack took over the video!!!

Here's the fixed version:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Intense Debate Comments