| May 16, 2012 | 2:18 pm
My kids love fresh green beans so much. I make them about once a week in the summer because I know that they are going to go down fast. Steamed or roasted with a dash of lemon juice, that’s the ticket!
Since I knew that the kids would devour green beans pretty much no matter how they are served they made the perfect first choice for my latest cooking experiment. My friend Colleen let me borrow her Sun Oven! And let me tell you, the green beans were outstanding! Moist, still crisp, slightly caramelized, and quickly devoured.
So, what is a sun oven? It’s an insulated outdoor oven which directs the sun’s heat into the cooking chamber with giant metal reflectors. There are many tutorials online on how to make your own, which I may try after I have to give back my loaner, but buying one is pretty cool, too.
I have used the sun oven twice now, each time at about 4pm, facing west. The days were fully sunny and I got an average temperature of 275* in the cooking chamber. According to the directions, if you’d like to get a higher temperature, like around 350* to 400* you can grab the southern sun at noon by aiming the oven towards the south. Then your food will get a high heat in the early day, and the oven temperature will slowly lower to around 200* in the evening once the sun is no longer directly into the funnel of the reflectors. So essentially you are slow roasting food in a completely energy free way (after manufacture and shipping of course).
Is anyone else out there cooking in a sun oven? Are you using a handmade one or a manufactured one? If you’re using a handmade one, what is your average temperature? I am really excited about the possibility of using a sun oven in the summer when my western facing kitchen is too hot to cook in, but I want to know if it is worth it to make one, or if I should just buy the same model Colleen let me borrow. Feedback, please!
| March 15, 2011 | 1:29 pm
Yesterday was Pi day, 3/14 for 3.14. And though I may be a craft-nerd now, I used to be an everything-nerd and so celebrating Pi day was kind of a fun idea. My kids are only 1, 4 and 6 so it was really confusing for them as I tried to explain the point of Pi, but I did manage to get Olivia to recite the formula for the circumference of a circle.
I made homemade pizzas, which I love to do on quick dinner nights. I make the dough in my bread machine while I run afternoon carpool and we all make our own pies when we get home. It’s like craft night and dinner time all in one.
To incorporate my theme we used the slices lines of the pizza to explain the radius of a circle. And the crust could represent the circumference. All the cheese represented the area. I might not be a bad homeschooling mom after all. Too bad my kids are so social, they would drive me nuts if they were here all day.
In other news, I am sending off my book proposal to a publisher. I have been procrastinating out of fear, but my good friend told me that this was my opportunity to start my wall of rejection letters. Gaining a wall of rejection letters is just as good as getting the deal, so I’m taking the plunge. Maybe I’ll make a collage of my rejections…
In other other news, I picked a pattern for the girls’ Easter dresses. I received a copy to review of Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon and Sabine Pollehn from their publisher. I haven’t made anything from it yet, but I am pumped to give it a go for my girls dresses. The projects are quite enticing! So after I get my proposal in the mail I will start cutting fabric. I’ll make Cressida’s as my “muslin” before I make it for the other girls that way if I mess it up it will be on less fabric!
| March 7, 2011 | 1:27 pm
My fabulous friend, Eliza, told me about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. She told me how she’s been using it to make bread for her family for months now. She told me how it has changed her life. I have heard from a lot of people out there in the interwebs the same story. So I said, I’d pick it up at the library to give it a try and promptly forgot about it.
A few days after my birthday I got a package from Amazon, and lo and behold, Eliza sent me a copy as a gift! I read through the introduction and let the concept brew in my head for a few days. The general idea is that you mix up a week or two worth of dough all at once and refrigerate the unused portion until you’re ready for more bread. There’s no kneading, no hard work, just the time required to give the dough a rise after you’ve shaped a loaf. The authors recommend “mastering” the basic recipe before moving on, but from this one basic recipe you can make many different types of bread, all with very little hands-on work.
I’m still mastering the first recipe. I made it for our family and baked a loaf straight away after the initial rise time. It was heavenly. It was amazing. I ate the whole loaf (with a bit of help from the girls) so I had to make a second loaf for Rob the next morning. I also made a batch of dough for my inlaws. They have a big family, so “two week’s worth” was gone in two meals.
I had contemplated writing up a blog post about my amazing bread after that first loaf disappeared, but decided I would wait for the first batch to be baked through. I wanted to see how it would rest in the refrigerator. Well, it’s been in my fridge for 6 days and I’ve baked the second to last loaf in the batch. Every time we’ve eaten the whole honeydew sized loaf in one sitting. We either butter it or slice up some hard gouda cheese and eat it while still slightly warm. The crust is so hard and crispy. The inside is so doughy, with large air pockets inside. It’s so good. I’m kind of doomed.
| February 3, 2011 | 2:18 pm
I know there are families out there who get all excited about Valentine’s Day. Some people get little gifts for their kids and go out on dates and stuff, but we’re always a little more subdued about it. I guess it’s because my birthday is a couple weeks after it, and then our wedding anniversary is another few weeks after that. How much can I expect my family to celebrate their love for me in one month, you know? And does anyone but Mom really want their family’s affection overtly celebrated?
But on Saturday I was making breakfast for the family with my go-to pancake recipe and accidentally made one heart shaped and the kids were ecstatic. So I made the rest of them heart shaped too and felt like I’d been more festive about Valentine’s Day than ever before. I might even do it again closer to the day, just to make it count.
Go-to Heart Pancakes (makes enough for 2 adults)
1 Cup whole wheat, or whole wheat white flour (more for consistency if necessary)
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 T baking powder
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
Mix dry ingredients in a large pyrex mixing bowl with spout. Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients. Mix it all together until just mixed through. Add more flour 2T at a time to thicken it if needed so that the batter is a little thicker than standard pancakes.
On a hot griddle pour out batter into heart shapes by starting in the upper left corner and pouring a line of batter, getting narrower towards the bottom. Repeat from the right hand side, meeting the batter in the middle. Flip once. Eat with, and love your family.
| October 29, 2010 | 3:18 pm
Today I had a beautiful quiet moment while both kids napped. I made myself a Pumpkin Spiced Latte & sipped it while soaking in the beautiful red tree leaves outside.
This is the first latte recipe I’ve used, and it tastes just like a barista whipped it up. I can control the sugar in it (I use half the sugar and no whipped cream). And since I didn’t have pumpkin pie spice, I found the spice mixture to make it. Enjoy!
| September 29, 2010 | 8:59 pm
Photo Credit sxc.hu. I ate my soup before I could get a good picture!
The past two days have been so fallish and grey I really wanted to eat some comfort food. And nothing at all is as comfort-food as tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Unfortunately, I never buy canned soups, so quickly making a Campbell’s Soup lunch is not gonna happen at my house. I don’t like to have all that added sodium, you know. I just looked at Campbell’s Nutrition Facts online and their tomato soup has 480mg of sodium. Yikes.
So, instead I make my own tomato soup at home. The recipe is always a little different, using what I have on hand, but this time I made it the result was absolute perfection and it only has 240mg of sodium! Here’s the recipe for your fall enjoyment:
2 6oz cans tomato paste
2 1/4 c water
2 cups milk
2 T white flour
2 T brown sugar or honey
Unsalted onion powder to taste
1/8 tsp baking soda
In a saucepan mix tomato paste and water with a whisk over medium high heat until smooth. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix flour and milk in a separate bowl until mixed well.
Add milk mixture to tomato mixture, whisking continuously, once tomato mixture is boiling. Return to a boil, while whisking, until soup starts to thicken, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Add brown sugar/honey, onion powder and baking soda to saucepan. The soup will froth up, so continue to stir until the bubbles disappear. Remove from heat and enjoy.
I like to add a bit of basil, or maybe some bleu cheese crumbles to my soup. And of course, I like to dip a buttery grilled cheese sandwich in my bowl. And I like it all the more if I can wear a sweater while eating. Hope you like it too!
| September 22, 2010 | 9:51 pm
I am so excited. My good friend, Morgen, has a grape vine growing over her swing set and it was covered with these little tiny concord grapes. She let me have a gallon size ziplock full of them to make into jelly.
I cheated and just boiled the whole she-bang down and poured it through a strainer since the grapes were really small. That was super easy. Then I found this recipe on allrecipes.com. My friend Jenn let me borrow her canning pot and some rings and I have them set aside to jelly up. The recipe says it will take up to a week for it to set, and as of right now they are all still liquidy so I am waiting and hoping. I’ll give you all the heads up next week! Hopefully we will be eating pb and j in style by then and I can go get more grapes!
| August 17, 2010 | 10:00 pm
Today while making banana bread, I was thinking about how long it takes to bake. A loaf of bread takes 60 minutes, while muffins take 25 minutes. I opted to put the banana bread in muffin tins not only because my house was 80 degrees before turning the oven on, but because I’m thinking about energy use. There is no good reason to keep the oven on an extra half hour so my bread can taste exactly the same.
By the way, my recipe is Banana Banana Bread from Allrecipes. I made the following changes:
-instead of 1/2 cup butter, use 1/4 cup butter & 1/4 cup apple sauce
-instead of 3/4 cup sugar, use 1/2 cup sugar
-add some spice such as cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg
| August 13, 2010 | 10:29 pm
It’s tomato time! I grew “lemon boy” and “ruffled yellow” tomatoes this year to change up my usual early girl, cherry tomatoes and romas. The harvest has been quite prolific, actually quite a bit more than I can use in just salads and sandwiches. Rather than freezing them, I decided to try to use them fresh as often as possible, and that’s how I started making my Simple Salsa.
It’s very mild, since I am always sharing it with the girls, but you can easily add a jalepeno or other hot pepper variety if you like some fire in your salsa.
The recipe is as follows:
about 6 tomatoes diced
2 small red onions diced very small
2 green peppers diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
black pepper to taste
Stir all ingredients together, let it set a bit for the flavors to blend together. I’ve had it 5 minutes after making it and it is great. It is even better if you can manage to wait until the next day. We can rarely wait that long!
If you like blogging, cooking, or both, you have to see the movie Julie & Julia. It’s about a woman named Julie who cooks & blogs her way through a Julia Child’s cookbook in one year. Alongside Julie’s cooking journey, there are flashes back to Julia Child’s life as she learned how to cook & got her cookbook published.
I really connected with Julie as a blogger. She continued writing even when her mom was her only reader. Julie persevered &…well I won’t spoil the ending for you. But I wonder where my perseverance will lead me as I blog, teach, and build relationships with other creative people. I also enjoyed watching Julie & Julia’s processes to getting published, especially because I have a couple book ideas in my head. It rejuvenated my book writing muse. I felt camaraderie with the characters. I relate to their highs & lows in creative pursuits and figuring out what what we can contribute to this world. And just how Julie imagined Julia Child in the kitchen with her cheering her on, this movie cheered me on.