Monday, January 21, 2013

"Boy, I need a wife!"

The college age boys were visiting over Skype which let two of them see that their friend was enjoying a snack.  They questioned, "What are you eating?"  When the reply revealed, "Chocolate chip banana Bread," the boys were quick to exclaim, "Boy, I need a wife!"  I smiled.  Some women may object that their role is to bake scrumptious treats for their men,and they would rather have him do the baking in the house, or perhaps they settle for purchasing a loaf of banana bread on the way home from work. Both options are better than no treats, but given all the options at my fingers, I applaud that young wife for taking the time to make a treat worth bragging rights.


We bought 50 pounds bananas on sale in the discount cart.  Within a day we peeled and bagged all the bananas in freezer bags.  It has been so handy to pull out a bag, dislodge one or two bananas for a breakfast shake, banana cookies or more banana bread.  Savings/benefits: 35 cents per pound, security in the freezer supplies, and happy children and husband.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Life - Enjoying the Fleeting Moments

Our nation mourns. This week 20 kindergartners were shot to death in school along with eight adults. Life.

The time we spend on this earth is a gift.  No one knows when their time is up.  No one knows when it will be the last time to kiss your loved ones goodbye.  I have determined to live each day with meaning and purpose.  To find joy and happiness - not pleasure and fun - but lasting joy of caring, service and meaning in every moment.  Life is too fleeting to carry regrets. Perhaps that is why I'll post today.


We hurrried  home from church in a snow flurry.  No Sunday meal invited us so I quickly started frying onions to make 'Frisco Burgers.  The savory smell of onions cooking enticed the children to come and chat while the table was set, buns cut, cheese sliced and napkins folded.  It was really not a big affair because everyone helped and peace and contentment filled our home.  The burgers were delicious.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Power of Touch

The most profound lessons come in the simplest packages.  The lesson learned: touch is a powerful tool to bond two people.  I had been out of town for three days supporting one of the older children in her activities. My youngest at the tender age of three was left home with siblings.  She seemed totally unaffected by my absence.  She was not clingy or teary.  Nevertheless, upon returning just in case she needed some extra nurturing, I decided to make a conscious effort to hold her, to hug her, to give kisses, to stroke her hair, to pat her as she walked by, to touch her arm when I was talking to her, to look at her when I passed her glass of milk.... Within a day she was returning me the favor.    Spontaneously she would exclaim, "Mom, I love you." Over the next two days, her little arms would wind themselves around my neck time and time again  to whisper in my ear "I love you."

I smiled because I had not been telling her "I love you." with every touch.  Yet, she understood love from every touch.  I remembered an experienced mother telling me that at one point as she struggled with one of her sons the thought came to her to "touch him."  So at every family meal while pouring all the glasses of water, she made a point to put her hand on his shoulder for those brief seconds behind his chair.  She reported "It made all the difference."

I wonder how many marriages would be sources of supreme trust, joy, and comfort if we would simply increased the frequency of touch with kindness and caring.  Can a masterpiece be wrought without the "touch of the Master's hand?"

There are no eggs in the house today.  Brainstorming what we have on hand and what could be done with them on the way home from church yielded the following list of goodies for the afternoon snacks:

Apple crisp
Egg-less chocolate cake with fudge sauce
No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies
Raw cookie dough without eggs

I suppose there are many other treats we could make but the children though of these.
I am glad they considered life full of opportunities not the lack thereof.

"Daddy, I cooked the broccoli!"/ Food for the Road

We held Sunday Dinner an hour and a half waiting for Dad to come home.  As soon as Dad appeared on the scene our 5 year old exclaimed, "Daddy, I cooked the broccoli and I didn't even cut myself!"
I smiled; the broccoli had big chunks of stem and little floweretts and one whole pan got eaten by the crew before Dad made it home.  We had to steam more for dinner.  Who can stifle the glee of a 5 year old?

Preparation: We spent 5 days on the road.  To prepare for those left at home as well as food to eat while traveling with six children, we baked bread and froze loaves, baked and froze muffins, baked a large batch of samosa's (little potato pies), froze the remaining half of birthday cake in 3 inch squares for the 14 year old to snack on when he came home from school, and left a large bowl of leftovers for the teenagers.   Everything worked well.  The samosa's were the biggest hit on the road - filling and savory even cold. This proved very useful when we were stranded while a new transmission was installed.  The grocery options were expensive, greasy, and not very nutritious.  The restaurant option nearby were very expensive.  Samosas were inexpensive, homemade, savory, and nutritious.

Restaurants:  We went to lunch at a Mexican Restaurant for Labor day to celebrate a birthday.  We invited a friend to join us.  I smiled when the friend asked my son, "How do you like Mexican food?"  He replied, "I don't know I've never had it before." Then proceeded to clean his plate spotless.  I thought it a great example of the rhyme my Mom chimed to us "Try it you might like it!"   We all loved the excursion.


5 pounds of potatoes, washed, peeled (or not if you like), and diced
1 cup frozen gren peas
1 cup frozen baby lima beans (optional add in, peanuts, or other beans or other vegetable chuncks)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Mrs. Dash
1 tsp Montreal Chicken.

Pizza Dough
3 cups warm water
3 TBS yeast
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS salt
6 TBS oil
7- 1/2 cups flour white or whole wheat

Mix all together.

Boil potatoes in enough water to cover for 5 minutes or until tender to a fork.  Remove from water, stir in frozen vegetables, add spices.  Make pizza dough. roll pizza dough thin in a large rectangular shape.  Cut the rolled out dough with a pizza cutter into rectangles, squares, and small triangles about 2 inches by 3 inches. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of the potato mixture onto each dough shape.  Bring up the sides and corners and pinch them together over the top of the filling.  Bake for 12-15 minutes in an oven heated to 350 degrees.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Delightful Sunday

We enjoyed visiting and just being together after our Sunday dinner of pork loin roast, mashed potatoes, gravy,  steamed carrots and broccoli, green salad and ice cream. The relaxed conversation lasted for three plus hours.  We read family histories detailing more difficult times when luxuries were scarce, articles encouraging us to protect our freedoms by example and civil discourse, and played name that tune while the big girls styled the little girl's hair.

The best moments came with our after dinner snack of gluten free peanut butter cookies.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix together, bake 10-12 minutes, let cool before trying to eat.  The are more crumbly hot.

I thought the cookie excellent.  Leaving flour and butter out as called for in a conventional recipe conserves calories while satisfying a sweet tooth.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

He Knows Our Desires

My son was sitting at the bar typing his talk for church in two hours.  I was sautéing zuccinni and onions. The essence of savory foods started filling the house and inviting the children to wake.  Before they made it to the kitchen, we were enjoying a minute of relative quiet.  "Mom, what does 'and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed' mean?"  Humbled, I looked up from the frying pan.  "To me it means God knows us.  He knows our thoughts, our feelings, our words, and everything we do.  He knows our desires."  He nodded and turned back to the computer.  His talk would not mention the ideas discussed.   His life experiences will test the reasoning.

I marveled again, offering a little prayer of thanks that I had taken  the few minutes to fry up a breakfast.  In the mindless stirring of a frying pan came the opportunity to teach, to witness.  God knows us,  He loves us enough to hear the very desires of our hearts.

Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs with diced Zuccini, onions, and a roma tomato
Lunch: Leftover vegetable soup from yesterday and eggs from breakfast.
Dinner: Steamed broccoli;  rice with hamburger, onions, and peppers;  Lettuce wedge.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Preparing for Success

Christmas of 2012 taught me a lesson.  About 2:00 am just hours before the children would wake to open their gifts,  I woke my husband  "It is time to put the little kitchen together, this is a 'Daddy' job."  For the next three hours both of us laboriously inserted one screw at a time to complete the project, I felt grateful that my husband can follow directions.  I knew I had been taken through an exercise that stretched me and taught me that SUCCESS IS DELIBERATE.  This method is often counter to the way I like to approach life, especially cooking.  I like to wing it, throw it all in,  go for adventure, be flexible and follow my best sense.  There was nothing intuitive in that little kitchen set.  The only way through the maze of parts was a step by step  disciplined approach.

I learned success at any task takes following a plan.  When feeding a family these are tools to use: recipes, menues, budgets, and a plan for acquiring and using basic shelf stable items and long term food storage items. We will create happy memories, feed our our families and protect our homes.  it will take careful PLANNING to be SUCCESSFUL.  Lets do it!

Back to Biscuits:

This week I cleaned the fridge freezer and made a list of everything. Our breakfasts, lunches and dinners have included these items.  Stress has decreased considerably because the menu possibilities are in front of me and we can use what I have.  The freezer is organized and it is like giving myself a hug every time I open the door.

One item I found was a gallon size bag of biscuit mix.  This homemade mix is all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and the butter) in my Grandma's biscuit recipe.  I assembled 3-4 mixes at a time, froze them, and now we get to enjoy them. 

"Could you help us with food"

Last week I had the privilege of putting some food on our friends shelves.  The mother and I shopped together to find foods that would ensure that the children would not ever have to be hungry because there was no food in the house when food stamps would not come for 2 more weeks.  Rice, pinto beans, spices, a pork loin, and 5 pounds of cheese were the staples we chose.  Mom cut the pork loin into individual 1/2 cup servings of tid bit pieces, the cheese was re-sacked into 1-1/2 cup portions then refrozen.  The meat and cheese will provide flavor and variety for months if used wisely.  We augmented the shopping list with foods from our own shelves - white flour, and honey.  The 25# of rice and 20 pounds of beans are easily a six month supply for a family of 6.  The peace of mind for this mother is worth the sacrifice of fast food or other prepackaged foods for a month to allow this family to be prepared.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Be Hungry, Be Foolish" - Dairy Free Rice Krispies

Steve Jobs chose to close his remarks at the 2005 Stanford Commencement exercises offered this counsel: "Be hungry, be foolish."  I agree.  Hunger is a good thing.  Too often we are afraid of it.  Too often we deny our children the growth of knowing they can be hungry and they won't die.  Too often we never develop an appetite for something greater than the next meal.

Schooling our appetites is part of our purpose on Earth and sometimes it requires we do more than just "go hungry: we have to be hungry - for knowledge, for discipline, for charity.   This requires that our stomachs learn to be hungry as well.  For Steve Jobs that meant he lived out of vending machines off loose change for six days a week, and once a week walked seven miles for a good meal.  No one would argue that Steve Jobs achieved success.  The road there required he be hungry. 

On the Home Front:
"Mommy, isn't this the best day of your life!" My five year old was sitting on the counter stirring the noodles.  I smiled back with an uncertain, "Yes?"  He clarified, "Because we've never cooked this before!"  I chuckled out loud.  We were cooking ABC pasta for a special "mac and cheese" dish.  Roger, the five year old, was cooks helper and he requested mac and cheese.  The special noodles made our day.

Group Hug - Good smells from cooking dinner evoked a group hug in the kitchen as all three children 7, 5, 2 grabbed my legs and waist to say "Thank you Mom!  Your the best Mom!"

Food Tips:

We made Rice Krispies without butter or margarine.

6 cups marshmallows
2 TBS canola oil
6 cups Rice Krispies

Melt the mini marshmallows in the oil that is just enough to cover the bottom of the pan
Add the cereal, stir until well mixed, Put in pan to cool.  Enjoy.

Old Flour
I opened some flour that had been stored in the original 5# paper sacks inside a five gallon bucket for a long time. (I took it off a friend's hands when they moved- I have had it 18 months- it has been stored for maybe 5-10 years. The flavor was okay but the flour was dry.  It was so dry that the brownies crumbled like sand.  The next batch of bread that I made with that flour took 1/3 again more water.  (Original recipe called for 4 cups water I added 1-1/2 cups more water for the same dry ingredients.)