Thursday, January 27, 2011

So Proud!

I'm so proud of Simeon. Today he did a cumulative test on all we have learned in Botany over the past year and he did pretty good. Considering he is in 2nd grade, getting 74% on a test that included information from last Spring is GREAT! Way to go Sim! We are looking forward to finishing second grade studying space/astronomy for science!

I'm also proud because today, he learned to tie his shoes. I've been pretty easy going about it, but it has been bothering Rich, AND Simeon is almost 8. He took up the initiative on his own today and he now knows how to tie them on his own. He just has to practice to get it down pat, and figure out how to tie the laces tightly.

My little Haitian munchkin is turning in to a young man. Time goes way to quickly!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Is My Word?

A fellow blogger,Wendy, posted a word that was going to be her focus for the coming year. I liked the idea, and have been thinking of what my word could be. There are two words that I have been thinking on. I'll share one of them for today's blog, and the other one in a different post.

Consistent: always acting or behaving in the same way; continue to happen or develop in the same way

Here are ways I hope to live up to the word consistent:

In my marriage: I want to make a point of spending time with Rich doing things we enjoy together. Too often, once the kids go to bed, I get on the computer and before I know it, its bedtime. I'd like to remedy that by being more consistent in engaging in mutually interesting activities, puzzles, music, games, TV show we both enjoy, etc

In my exercise:I'm a great starter, but not so good at following through. I want to be more consistent, and part of that is making attainable goals for myself and not being all or nothing. I'd like to get 30 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of weight training at least 4 times a week, preferably 6.

In my spiritual life: Again, I'd like to make sure that my bible is being read and that I'm spending time in prayer everyday. I seem to do okay during the week, but weekends, when I think I'd have more time, but it is often the weekend, where my consistency fails me. I have also committed to Beth Moore's Scripture Memory team this year. The goal is to memorize 24 Scriptures in 12 months. So far so good, but I want to continue to be consistent over the next year. It doesn't take much to throw me off my game, and I need to make sure that this area of my life is a priority or else everything else falls apart. I SO need Jesus.

In My Home: Keep up with the laundry, the dishes and the overall care of the home. I tend to start a cleaning routine and do well for a couple of weeks and then fizzle out. It doesn't take much to distract me and get me thinking of something else. I'd like to be more consistent in the overall care of my home.

In My Parenting: This is a big one. I have great ideas, start them, and then fall short of completing them. I'd like to make sure I'm engaging my kids more regularly, outside of regular parenting and home school. I'd like to play outside more often, have more dance parties, bake more with them, do more crafts and art activities. I want to do more out of the ordinary things with them, making special memories all year long, rather than simply during the holidays.I also want to be more consistent in my discipline, in remaining calm and uninvolved emotionally, so that my yelling decreases and my effectiveness increases.

With Myself: I'd like to do more of what I enjoy. Take a baking/cooking class or two, finish a book series I've started, buy clothes that make me feel good, plan more girls nights out, develop more friendships. Too often, I give my all in other areas of my life, and then have nothing left, and feel drained.

There you go! One of the two words I'd like to focus 2011 on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baking Report and Snowstorm traditions

I am so excited and thrilled with the progress of my sourdough. Yesterday, my starter was bubbling away, completely happy with growing. Tonight, will mark the beginning of the fourth day of my starter. I can't wait until this weekend. I think the first baked good I will make is sourdoughwaffles. They sound intriguing to me and my children love waffles. I've also been pouring through my recipe book, looking for sourdough bread recipes. Oooo, I can't wait!

In other baking news, I'm making another loaf of my rye raisin bread. It was a hit, and we loved it, so I have some dough proofing as I type.

Yesterday, I also made some dark whole wheat rolls. They were so yummy and sweet. The crust was soft however, and Rich and I are quite partial to a crusty, french dough style crust on our rolls. The solution is easy, I will bake the rolls at a higher temperature, for less time, with a steam bath. I can't wait to try it again. I froze have the dough already shaped, so those yummy rolls are but a few hours away on any given night of the week.

Finally a question. Today, snow is being dumped on our heads. School has been cancelled and the outdoors is a beautiful white. Years ago, on such a snowy morning, I decided to make some cinnamon buns. Once they were made, I waded through the snow to my neighbors homes and brought them homemade cinnamon buns. It has become a tradition that I enjoy and look forward to. I was thinking of forgoing the tradition this year, but just writing about it has convinced me to head towards the kitchen. A snowstorm is just not the same without the smell of homemade cinnamon buns.

Do you have snowstorm traditions? Anything you plan on doing when it snows. I'd love hear about your snowy days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sourdough Starter

Before Naomi came home, I was making sourdough bread regularly. A friend had given me some starter, and I was doing fairly well at keeping it going. A precious baby girl changed all of that. I have been itching to get back to baking with sourdough, but I don't want to spend the money on buying the starter.
I've always been one to enjoy some playing and experimenting in the kitchen,and so yesterday I set out to make my own sourdough starter. I'm hoping it will work. I had tried before, but that batch was an epic fail. I'm hoping that the detailed chapter in the King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking will make all the difference.I'll try to chronicle my progress with the starter.

Yesterday I baked my first loaf of Raisin Rye Bread. It was delicious fresh, but I was tickled pink with the toast it made this morning. The first time I had Raisin Rye Bread was 2 years ago at an Inn Rich and I had visited. It was so good, but I just hadn't found a recipe for it. I'm so glad that I found this recipe. We will be eating more of this bread in the near future. I'll try to post pictures of my next loaf and entice you all with beauty of this loaf.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scones and the Next Michael Jackson

We celebrated Rich's homecoming this morning with drop scones. My aunt gave this recipe to my Mom when we were little, and we have all been enjoying this little clouds of fluff ever since. They are best right out of the oven, with a bit of butter and homemade jam. Our favorites are homemade raspberry and blueberry.

2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 C. butter or margarine
1 scant cup of milk

Cut butter into first 4 ingredients,until coarse crumbs are formed. Add milk. Mix until just moist. Drop on ungreased pan by Tablespoonfuls. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Now for the next Michael! Simeon just LOVES to dance. During his recital last year, the dance company performed a Michael Jackson medley and he just loved it. He has been obsessed with the music and dancing of Michael Jackson ever since. The only rule I have is that there is to be no crotch grabbing. The spotlight of Christmas this year is that Trisha bought him the Wii Michael Jackson game. Since Naomi had a pic spotlighted on the blog yesterday, I figured I'd give you all a glimpse of the next Michael.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Forgot the pictures...

Last night I started a 2 day process pizza dough. The dough is SO yummy. I was all set to post pictures of my beautiful pizzas, but the ranks were hungry, and my mother in law was invited for supper and we were all so excited about Rich coming home...and pictures.

Posting what I'm cooking/baking on my blog has been inspirational though. The problem is trying to keep eating healthy AND keep baking. I was hoping to make something special for Rich's homecoming in the morning, but I don't have all the ingredients to the fancier recipes. I'll have to settle for some type of muffin, or maybe some scones with my homemade jam. Whatever the baked good is, I'll try to get pictures up.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pics of little miss and her Christmas crafts. I was more intentional about doing some crafty things with her around Christmas and she absolutely LOVES it. Everytime my mother in law comes over she shows off her work. I guess crafts are a hit with her. So without further ado:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tea Time

My friend, Ruthe,came over for tea today. It was so nice to get to see her again, as our lives have both gotten busy, and we have neglected getting together. What goes better with company and tea? Something SWEET! So I tried another recipe from my Whole Grain Baking book. This time, I made Crumb Coffeecake. One word: YUM! It was absolutely delicious. While the recipe did include both some unbleached all-purpose flour and some bread flour, the majority of the flour was Whole Wheat, both of the pastry variety and of the white wheat variety. It was delicious, my friend had no clue it was whole grain until I told her, and it was a hit with the kids. Lest you think I would indulge in the rest of those goodies all by myself, I'll have you know I didn't keep all of the cake. Ruthe went home with some for her family and I brought my in-laws some of the goodies. Definitely a make again recipe. I think Rich is looking forward to tasting some of this after he gets home tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Banana-Oat Pancakes

My cookbooks arrived yesterday. I ordered Whole Grain Baking by the King Arthur Flour Company, as well as Once a Month Cooking: Family Favorites. Both Cookbooks look great, but I haven't made anything out of the Once a Month Cooking yet.More on that in later posts.
After Rich left yesterday, and the kids were put to bed, I started pouring through the Whole Grain Baking. My, oh my! I can't wait to try some of these yummy recipes and play around with healthier whole grains for the family. This morning was my first try. Please forgive the blurry pictures. I guess I need to work on my picture taking skills. Overall, Naomi and I liked the pancakes. Simeon said he didn't like the texture of the pancakes. He described them as mushy, but I found them moist. He is a hard one to please when it comes to food textures though.

Yield: 10 pancakes

3 small(9.5 ounces)bananas, mashed
2 T ( 1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 T lemon juice
1 T sugar
2 eggs
1 C ( 3 1/4 oz) oat flour (used a coffee grinder to grind old fashioned rolled oats)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg

Stir together the mashed bananas, butter, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in the eggs.

I guess this is where I realize that I don't read instructions too well. Though the recipe states to mix the rest of the dry ingredients with the oat flour, I went ahead and added it to the wet ingredients. Ha!

Whisk together the oat flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a small bowl.

Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Check to be sure the batter is thin enough for your pancakes: you may need to add a touch of milk or water. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes before using.

Heat a nonstick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not nonstick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil. when the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across it, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to remove excess oil, and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4 c at a time. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, 3-4 minutes. you may need to adjust the heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface or being too pale. When the cakes are just beginning to set,

flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, until they're golden brown on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes more. Serve the pancakes immediately, or keep them warm in a 200F oven.

For two pancakes, this recipe packs in 18g of whole grains, 6 grams of protein and 3g of fiber. Not bad if you ask me! Yummy too!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Culinary Adventures

I love to bake and cook. I have been in a rut for the past TOO LONG. I miss making menus and buying from organized grocery lists, knowing exactly what to cook, and yet, I have had no motivation. This balancing game of housework, child rearing, homeschooling, trying to exercise, and keeping up with my relationship with Jesus is just too much! BUT, I have felt the passion and desire rekindling, and so I've enjoyed some experimenting in the past few weeks. I've often thought to take pictures of the process, but it hasn't happened. Hopefully it will soon. I'm actually considering taking some cooking classes that I have found close by. They are kind of pricy, but oh, the thought of perfecting my baguettes and the thought of learning how to make sumptuous homemade pasta is SO alluring. In the meantime, I'll share some of what I've been up to, and will try to get some pictures up the next time I bake. One of the things I've been doing is cooking with more whole grains. I'm actually waiting for a whole grain baking book, and I hope it comes in the next few days. Who am I kidding? I hope it comes today, so that I can revel in it while Rich is gone to Philly for work this week. There's nothing like pouring over a cookbook.

Okay, I've made:
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Applesauce Banana Muffins
Homemade Potstickers
Banana Blueberry Bran Muffins

All were YUM! All had mostly healthy ingredients, and my kids ate them. Yeah!