Spilt Milk

“There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” How many of us have heard that old idiom before?  I know many of you mama’s out there, like myself have likely cried over spilled milk.

Last night the cow stuck her foot in my full milk pail, which would have ruined the milk, even if she hadn’t knocked it over.  I could not help but to start crying.  Not because we were depending on this pail of milk for our meal (although I know a pail of milk is a meal for all too many in the world), but because of the waste.  The wasted energy and feed the cow spent making the milk, not that she seemed to mind in the least, the waste of my energy milking her, the wasted time my girls were waiting for their dinner, and the wasted milk that could have fed the calf or been consumed by my family or friends.

This isn’t the first time I’ve cried over spilled milk.  As a nursing and working mom, knocking over a newly pumped bottle or spilling even a little transferring that bottle to storage was often enough to make my eyes well.  So much energy put into caring for my sweet babies, and then it felt like it was all for nothing.  To all you formula feeding mama’s out there, I know you get it too, fumbling around in the middle of the night with a screaming infant in one arm only to drop the finally warm bottle and watch it splash all over your feet.  I have been there.

Then there are the moments when the toddler dumps their milk on the clean– you name it, the moments when you used the last of the milk to make something that should have been spectacular, failed.  I am sure most of us moms (and likely everyone else too) if we are honest can think of a moment milk has brought us to tears.

I have been blessed enough in my life that these moments of tears come from stress and exhaustion.  I have never been truly afraid that my baby would go hungry, even for a little while because of my mistake.  Too many parents out there have that real fear and my heart breaks for you.  Please know you are constantly in my prayers as are your little ones.

Spilled milk is an unfortunate event it’s true, and worrying over it might not do us any good. Feel free, though my friend to shed a couple tears because we both know that it is not the milk and it is not the unfortunate mess.  The tears are for the effort spent trying to show love and ending feeling inadequate.

Even if you are exhausted or frustrated, even if you spilled the milk today, even if it is not fine, they know you love them and you are strong, even if you don’t want to be right now.

Yogurt & Honey Wheat Bread

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I’ve been busily playing around with yogurt since I have discovered how to make it at home, and am quite happy with my success (I’ll share it here when I am sure I have it perfected). I modified one of my favorite white bread recipes to come up with this. I am sure it would be equally tasty as an all white bread or even a darker wheat if that’s your preference.   I found it tastes even better the second day.

Yogurt and Honey Wheat Bread

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3 tablespoons honey

8 ounces warm water

1 cup (8 ounces) plain yogurt

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup wheat flour

3-4 cups white flour

 

In a mixing bowl dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water until the yeast bubbles and expands (about 5 minutes). Add the yogurt and wheat flour. Mix until just smooth on a low speed. Add the salt and 2 cups of white flour. Mix at a low speed, gradually increasing until dough starts to come together and smooth out. Gradually add the remaining white flour until a soft dough forms.

Please note, the more you mix the dough the more flour it will take and the denser it will be. I recommend turning the dough out onto a flour board when it just forms a ball and knead by hand for the last cup of flour. This should result in a lighter bread, it will take about 10 minutes of kneading.

Place back in the mixing bowl (or another large bowl if you don’t mind the dishes) and cover with a towel. Place in a warm place to ride for about an hour or until doubled.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a minute. Divide and shape to fit your bread pans (Make sure to grease these!!)  This recipe will make about 2 regular sized loaves or 4 mini loaves.   Allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425’F. Brush with butter and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped in the top.  Allow to cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before turning out of pan. If the loaves are sticking, wait a few more minutes.

Enjoy!  Want to save them for later? After completely cool wrap in plastic wrap and freeze!

Happy Birthday Aunt Royleen!

My Aunt Royleen always requests a rather eclectic birthday meal.  One thing we can always count on is a soup.  I am pretty sure the last couple years it has been French Onion Soup, as it was this year.

At the table, for her birthday we had 2 babies, 1 toddler, 2 tweens and 10 people have met the age requirement to be adults.  On the menu, as mentioned above there was French onion soup with homemade croutons (of course!) and swiss cheese, lamb patties wrapped in bacon and served with a yogurt dill sauce, white bread, butternut squash puree, white rice and corn (so the kids would eat a veggie).

The evening started with the babies playing on the floor, the visiting baby crawled over to be social and my little girl screamed in his face, making him cry also.  Then after a few moments of calm,she decided to creep over to him.  She then got fairly close, looked right at him and started bawling, thus causing the poor boy to cry.  What a  little bully she was being!

Where is Aunt Royleen?  Is she going to be late for her birthday?

Well, she was supposed to be on time, but something changed at work and she said she would be a little late.  I don’t know exactly how late that means…

Everyone can start on soup anyway, she can catch up when she gets here.

Come on girls, let’s get your plates ready.  (Mom is in the kitchen with the tween-agers getting their plates ready to go for them.  It is important to note that these girlies get their own table and special blue plates to be fancy.  So I don’t often hear what their conversation is about).

Can you say pray—–

Bless-this-house-oh- Lord, we pray— Keep-us-safe-by night–and day.  Amen

A little bit of a rap beat tonight for prayers? (Giggles)

 

This pale stuff here on the table is our failed attempt at butter… if you want to try it on your bread.  It’s ok, we just don’t have the butter touch. (The attempt at butter looked a bit more like pale yellow whipped cream, but it did have a light butter flavor to it!)

Hey!  When did you get here?? Happy birthday!

Just now.  Thanks

Dad, can you get her some more soup? DAD!  DADDY!  HEY! Please get your granddaughter so more soup please! (She was sitting on my lap and the baby had me wedged in on the other side, so I couldn’t get up without shifting everyone.)

Oh,she wants more?

Yes.  Thank you!

This little girl loves the soup!  I wonder who taught her that?

Why wouldn’t she like soup?

Her Mom is not a soup eater–

So you don’t like any soup, at all?  What about stews? Gravy?

I love stew, gravy is good.  It’s not that I don’t like the taste of soup, I don’t like that it is so watery.  I don’t even drink that much water in the day, let alone want to eat liquid.  But it tastes good.

 

I had an idea for your work.

Oh yeah?

You said the seniors like picking their meals from the farmers market, what about doing some gardening with them?

You know we used to do something like that downstate and I didn’t think it would work out because I didn’t think they would be the crowd that wanted to get dirty gardening and they loved it.  I’ve tried similar things up here thinking, they would be more the gardening type and there really wasn’t as much interest.

Well, that’s different.  I wonder why?

(The main course makes its way to the table)

What is this?

Lamb patties wrapped in bacon with a yogurt dill sauce.  The sauce was made with the homemade yogurt.

Is this the lamb your husband wanted help taking?

Yes.  Everyone, this is Rob…. in case you wanted to know who you were eating.

Thanks, Rob!

Thank you, Rob.

You know… he taste’s like a Rob (sarcasm) By the way where is your husband? He hasn’t been here lately (exaggerated suspicious look), but the meat pies were delicious (and insert Sweeny Todd jokes here).

Hey, you know better than to make her mad.

Where is your husband anyway?

Running sugar beets.

Here, I’ll hold the dishes so you can scoop.

Thanks.

Baby love the lamb!

I’m the new lead caregiver for my client now.

Does that give you better hours?

I think it will be about the same.

I thought it was going to be all desserts for dinner tonight?

There is no dessert..

There has to be dessert, I will just keep waiting.

Maybe Aunt Royleen didn’t request a dessert.

There is dessert, I am sure of it.

No, it’s not a dessert.

Oh! By the way, the school party is Monday morning…

That’s nice, we won’t be here.

Shoot that’s right!

What’s going on?

Oh, their big sisters Halloween party is Monday morning and it’s really inconvenient to take the littles with me.

NO!

Oh…

No! Cats, maybe, kids no. (laughing)

I can’t believe you did your glucose test without getting sick.

She didn’t get sick?  That’s not even fair.

Hey, I have come home to her eating Hersey kisses and maraschino cherries juice and all, sugar should not be a problem.

But that stuff is so gross!

It just tasted like Hi-C or something like that.

Nasty.. well good for you.

I really thought there would be multiple desserts, oh I see it, I can’t believe I didn’t notice those before.

(cleaning up of dinner dishes)

I wish I could be all covered in food like that (to the baby who was thoroughly caked in squash, rice, and lamb) do you think anyone would mind?

Cinnamon Rolls!

See, they aren’t a dessert, they are a breakfast.  The frosting is partly made with homemade cream cheese too.  I didn’t have enough to do all homemade cream cheese though.

Can you take a picture?

Ok, everyone!  Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday Aunt Royleen! Happy Birthday to you!

I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out.  I had just gotten the dough ready when the phone rang and I hear “The cows are gone, get here now!”

WHAT!?!

Yeah.  A friend stopped and told me she almost hit our calf, and that the cow and calf were out in the road!

Thankfully, big sister was there to watch the littles, who were half naked because I was in the process of getting them ready for bed.  So I ran out the door.  Thank GOD that cow is so food driven she heard the bucket and came running back to me.  She had also called her dad who was running corn in our field, so they came over.  I had them back in the barn shortly after Mom and Dad got there.

That’s scary.

It sure is.

I remember when I was growing up a car crashed into a fence and this farmer had like 200 cows, and they all got out.  I remember the next day there was no school and everyone was out looking for the cows.  People we walking around, they were on quads, I had grabbed my horse and was out looking….

Looking for cows in corn fields is bad…

Dad would know, he’s had some bad experiences.

Ironically, with the girls’ cow, the one who saw ours out.

Well, I am pretty tall and my horse was pretty tall, so I could kind of see over the corn.

Chasing cows through corn is just bad.

Are you feeling ok? (My sister looking at my glass)

Why? Can you pass the milk?

Because you just finished your glass of water…

(It is an interesting point to note here, that I notoriously never finish a glass of anything, especially milk, there is almost always at least an inch left in the bottom.  To change drinks I will wash the glass out or  just get a new one.  It’s weird, but who doesn’t have a quirk?)

Wow, I guess I was thirsty, don’t’ worry I am sure I won’t finish the milk.  (for those wondering I did not)

A few people start to trickle out here gradually.

PSST MOM!!  What?

MOM! Come out here to the kitchen.

Ok, let me finish my sentence…

(Whispers… I made a birthday card for Aunt Royleen, you need to sign it and she can’t know.  I signed the card)

Bounding out to Aunt Royleen…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I MADE THIS FOR YOU!

Awe, thank you!  That’s very nice (maybe just a little teary eyed)

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Morning Antics

imageCows can inspire many endearing words. Having to fix a fence before the sun comes up because one got it in her head the grass is greener on the other side does not invoke those words.

Sometime last night, and I can only assume early on based on the size of the hay pile left, dear Sugar Dot decided to push through a fence panel leaving behind Merdia. Needless to say neither Merida nor I were very pleased at this arrangement. Sugar was a little uncomfortable also, since she didn’t have her baby nursing on her for who knows how long.

And so after getting the fence put back together Merida joined me with the morning milking. I thought she was being a little more rough than usual on her mom…. I don’t blame her and chuckled (just a little).

 

 

Baked custard

Looking for a little comfort on this chilly fall morning? Look no further than this rich and warm baked custard.

This custard is the one my mom would always make when we weren’t feeling well as kids and to warm everyone up as an after dinner treat.

The custard you see here is a little modified from the original recipe as I wanted to make it as “farm-to-table” as I could using our cows milk.   I also used fresh eggs from a local chicken raiser.

I hope you enjoy and this recipe becomes a comfort food favorite for your family!

 

Baked Custard

3 large eggs

1/2-3/4 cup sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Two 12 oz can evaporated milk or 16oz farm fresh milk

small dash nutmeg

cinnamon

Beat eggs and sugar in a 1 quart oven proof bowl. Add the milk,vanilla and nutmeg. Mix well with a spoon. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and bake in an oven preheated to 325’F for 45 – 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or refrigerate

Serves 4-6

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Enchilada Chicken and Rice

This is one of the very few crockpot recipes you will see from me.  I have tried to love my crock pot but I just can’t seem to pull off the amazing recipes I see all over Pinterest, promising a fabulous meal with minimal hassle.  Most of my attempts end up weird.   This one, however after a few trials comes out practically perfect every single time.  I made my own enchilada sauce this time, but just as often I used the already made stuff in a can.  Both work equally well and you have delicious results regardless.

This also happened to be a great dish to use up the few veggies my garden had left in it after the frost.  The peppers looked too pretty to feed to the critters.   This dish also happens to freeze very well and tastes good on nachos so I make it in bulk and save the leftovers for another day’s dinner.

You can serve this in a bowl topped with a little sour cream and some green onions, salsa or whatever you like.  You can also (like I typically do) use it to make baked enchiladas (which also freeze very well).

More often than not I do make my own tortilla shells.  I think the flavor is much nicer than the store bought, they don’t take a ton of effort to make and they do not have any preservatives or questionable ingredients.  You can substitute lard for the vegetable shortening, but it is not typically something I have on hand.

The recipe I used can be found at Food.com and all credits to the original developers of this recipe.  I sometimes find the site hard to navigate, so I will re-type it here for you.  I double the recipe from the original.

Flour Tortilla Recipe

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup warm water (you may need additional)

 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add the shortening and cut in with a fork until it looks grainy.  Add the cup of warm water and mix in with your fork until the dough starts to form (I think at this stage it looks a lot like shredded chicken).  Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead lightly until it is smooth.  Divide into equal balls (this will make 16-20 depending on what size you like, I made larger ones so I had 16 balls).  Put these on a plate and cover to rest for 30-60 minutes.

Pat the dough balls into a disk shape and then roll out with a rolling pin until they are very thin.  In a hot, dry pan (over medium heat to start with, you will likely have to lower the temperature as you go) place one tortilla in and when it bubbles, flip to the other side for about 10 seconds and remove to a holding plate.  If you plan to use these right away, cover so they stay warm.

These go very quickly, I can usually roll one out while one is cooking.  Unless the kids are acting like they have never eaten or slept a day in their lives.  Should you have children about, plan on losing one of these shells to them, your child(ren) will want to sample one.

You want just a little color on these, too much and they will become stiff and hard to use very quickly.  I made these the day ahead for tacos and stored them in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.

Now for the chicken and rice part.

Enchilada Chicken and Rice

You can use more or less veggies as you desire.  If adding tomatoes, add them at the end with the beans otherwise they might dissolve in the slow cooker.  I almost always start this recipe with frozen chicken, it gives it a longer cooking time and saves the hassle of thawing-out chicken.  If you start with fresh, add an extra 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs

2-3 cups enchilada sauce divided

salt

pepper

1 cup white rice

1/3 cup water

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups grated cheese (cheddar and monterey jack are what I use), divided

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

Place your chicken into the crock pot and season with salt and pepper.  Add the peppers and onion over top of the chicken followed by the rice.

Pour 1 cup of enchilada sauce over the top (if you are using a mix of heat levels, use your spiciest one here) also add the water.  Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper over the rice if desired.

I use the 4 hour setting on my Crock Pot and let it finish cooking on the “warming” setting.  I have also cooked it strictly on the “warming” setting and it was perfect for a 10 hour day.

When the chicken and rice are tender shred the chicken ( you can do this easily with two forks right in the cooker) and add the beans and half of the cheese.   Mix it all together.

Serve it like this with a little of the reserved sauce, sour cream and extra cheese or toppings of your choice.  Or proceed to making baked enchiladas.

To bake:

Pre-heat oven to 375’F.  On a slightly warm tortilla add about 1/3 cup filling on one edge of the tortilla.  Fold both ends over the filling slightly and roll the filling toward the open end of the tortilla, wrapping it up as you go and tucking in the edges.  Place into a 9×13 inch baking dish that has 1/4 cup of sauce spread evenly across the bottom seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining shells and filling.  Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

I intended to have a beautiful picture of one adorned with lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and sour cream, but my husband thought it looked delicious and ate it before I had a chance to take a picture.  However, as I mentioned before these freeze great!  I packed this batch directly into meal prep containers and into the freezer they went.  They will be microwaved a later day for lunch.  They can also be frozen in regular disposable baking pans.

P.S.  I found that the baby food containers I used to store my yogurt in the other day fit PERFECTLY into the small sections!  Not exactly related to the above recipe, but I was pretty excited about it!

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Happy Birthday Chris!

I usually arrive early with my girls on Tuesdays, after picking my oldest up from school we head home to do chores or go to riding lessons or something of that nature that usually end about an hour before the dinner crew arrives.  Tonight was typical in that manner, we were already settled into a groove, changing diapers and chit-chatting about different things.  Tonight I brought a box of baby clothes for the mama’s to be to pick through.

So what kind of outfit is this one supposed to be?

I’m not really sure, I think it’s just a cute little summery crop top.  Did you see that there are some pieces that go with the last batch I brought?

Here, let’s put this top with that, there we are making our own cute outfits!

Neither of us can really use this ‘little sister’ onsie (giggles) since we are only having our first.

Well, I don’t know, leave it here or as a rag, I don’t want it!

Hi!  And hello to you handsome baby!

He’s getting so big!

..standing with Dad next to the stove…

Man, there’s a lot of babies here tonight.  In a few months, there might be more babies than adults.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or if I should be scared.

Hmm.  I am  not sure either, but I know I am not contributing any more!  It is going to be busy for sure.

Hey guys!  Here, try a piece of the bread.

Is it Challah?

Yes is it good?

Yeah!

I was supposed to help make it for you, but that didn’t work out.

You were going to help?

Yeah….

Dinners Ready!

No, he needs a real chair, your little you can sit on one of the folding chairs.

Fine…

Mom, you can sit on the other side.  Then you can just stay there.

Yeah, the girls and I will be on the clean up side tonight.

Really?  Are you sure? OOOOK.

(General murmuring and conversation as people settle into slightly different places than normal, but all very cheery)

Is that Spanakopita?!

Close Spinach Ricotta Pie.  It also has pepperoni and mushrooms in it.  It’s is kind of like pizza.

Can  you say prayers please?

Bless this house oh Lord we pray.  Keep us safe by night and day. Amen

Amen.

So was the birthday dinner chef’s choice tonight?

Yeah, the idea was Italian, but not spaghetti or lasagna.

So, how do we go about this?

The pieces with the toothpicks DO NOT have pepperoni

Oh good!  I hate pepperoni.

Really? Like even on pizza.

I have never liked it, even when I was little.  I am really not even polite about picking it off pizza.

Well, the Caesar won’t care.

The pie is a savory pie crust filled with cooked spinach, ricotta cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms and a little ham.  You put the red sauce (marinara) over it.

Then this is chicken parmesan like we had it growing up.  Pieces of chicken pounded thin and coated in parmesan cheese and seasoned bread crumbs, pan fried until it is crispy.  Then you just put a little sauce on the top and sprinkle with a little extra cheese.

Mom, made the sauce tonight?

No, your dad did.

Really? But it’s not sweet…

That’s because your mother says I make it too sweet..

For this kind of dinner, you don’t want it sweet….

Well, that’s not what Nana would say (insert cheesy grin here)

Here you want more noodles?

What kind of noodles are these?

Rotelle, I think that’s how you say it.

The babies sure like them.

Are you guys taking any classes?

I am taking the labor and delivery class, baby 101, the boob class and infant CPR

… Well I signed up for the labor and delivery (hem-hawing about the other stuff)

That’s great the offer infant CPR, I am pretty sure mine were just all lumped into one, you definitely want the hospital tour, though.

WAAAHHH!HOOOO!!AAA!!

GAHHOOO!!!!!!

Well, they are enjoying dinner!

Do you want some more noodles and chicken?  Becareful its hot!

BABABABABABABABA!!!!!!!

All right girls, this side cleans up!

Mom “Wow, this is so weird.  But I’ll have to get up to do dessert.”

I can handle getting dessert served you are fine.

Ok, but you have to find the candles.

(Opening a cabinet and rummaging around)

No they are on your right

(I totally look left, to where there are zero cabinets)

No! Your other right.

RIGHT RIGHT! Keep going RIGHT.  Not the corner.

(I am now rummaging around for about three minutes)

Anywhere else they could be?

They should be in a ziploc kind of bag.

Uhhuh, where else?

Hey!  Turn the lights back on!  We haven’t found the candles yet silly girl!

Well, I’ve been looking for like five minutes

I can just have a virtual candle…

I can pull one up on my phone.

See, virtual candle just fine.

I officially give up, they are not in there.

Well, we at least have to sing.

(Kid shuts the lights off again)

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you (Dad lights a match as a ‘candle’)  Happy birthday dear Chris, Happy Birthday to you!

(Now in the middle of this I am also trying to move the candle and cake across the table and of course the match blows out resulting in much laughter)

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I guess I don’t get a birthday wish.  “No, wish for you!”

Wait! You can’t eat that yet!

Why? It looks amazing.

It hasn’t been turtled yet. Hey, go grab the carmel sauce from over there.

Now it is Turtle Cheesecake.

 

(I can’t even begin to explain the silence that falls here.  It is the absence of sound that can only come from being in a near food coma from a delicious meal and then being presented with the most decadent of desserts)

See, no one ever is this quite for dinner.  Everyone only comes for dessert.

I told you Dad, its because there is so much more dinner.

Oh, mom’s are always the mean one’s.  You’ll just have to get used to being the bad guy.

We’ll  you’ve met Michael.  He comes from a family of mean Italian women.

Italian women? Mean? Never heard of such a thing (Dad being very sarcastic)

I swear, I am so lucky I married a favorite and she likes me!

Of course, we always joke that because of our families we both have to behave so it works out.

Dinner was amazing, but it is time for me to be heading home.

Me too.  John will be  hungry.

Oh by the way, I wanted to let you know we are totally interested in the beef.  And I just have to tell you that I have had four pot roasts turn out!

This is a big deal for me! It is one of my husbands favorite meals and one I have never been able to make turn out for him.  And since your beef I’ve made four!

That’s awesome!  I should have some ready in March.  I will let you know!

(Some shuffling around while things are getting re-organzied)

So my company is expanding across the country to California.

You have a compnay?

Yeah, it started on the East Coast and when it came to Michigan I jumped on it.  Now it is expanind across the country.

Wow, I did not know that.

You aren’t moving to California right?

No, we like our neighbors too much, have to wait until they move.

We’ve actually talked about that.  What would we do if our neighbors moved?

Talk to the realator, here is the deal, we need two houses right next to eachother.

Well, by the time we move we would need that kind of care anyway.

Napa Valley?  International?

Hey, how do I get in on this international thing, wont you need someone to do the herd management for where ever you are sourcing your food from?

Of course…

Then I could be like on the Perdue chicken commercial?  “Never mind this chicken behind me that has been bred to have a crazy huge breast, it tastes delicious and we feed it things like sage.”

(Laughter)

Do we need another bottle of wine?

I really like this one.

Yeah, it wasn’t so good at 10:30 this morning.  Now it’s great.

If we open another bottle, I will be in trouble.

You don’t want Mom to have anymore.

Hi Aunt Royleen!! (she came in late)

How is that cheesecake?

It’s delicious, I start with dessert first because I can.

So the peer pressure is working, my grandson should be coming in the next couple weeks.

They go to school together and are only a year a part.

So you know, cousins have to watch out for each other.

Hey, did you tell Chris how you did at your horse show this weekend?  Got to show of those belts he made?

Oh yeah? Sell a lot of them for me did you?

They went over really well, they worked out perfect…

Yeah… I took a fourth, a first and a third.

Wow, good job!

Ok, we’ll I am losing the little’s quickly here.  I think its time for us to go.

(We leave plus a sippy cup and a giant tupperwear of animal crackers, that she wont let anyone touch or help her carry out the door.)

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade yogurt

I have been facing an abundance of fresh milk. Which is excellent but my family does not consume a gallon or so of milk a day leaving me pondering how to create space in my fridge. Cheese making is an option but also is far more labor intensive than I initially expected and I need to do more research.

My inspiration to use this surplus came from my daughters favorite (non-dessert) snack–yogurt. Surely this must be simpler than pressed cheese, and it was. Following a simple recipe on the New York Times website I was able to use an abundance of my raw milk. I used the raw because the milk heats to about 190’F, which is well past the temperature needed to pasteurize.  I used a little of the left over plain yogurt I had in the fridge and poof in the morning I was rewarded with a giant bowl of yogurt. My oldest daughter informed me she loved it because it was so creamy (but needed more sugar because it was a little too tangy).

I sweetened about half and added chocolate chips and used my recycled baby food containers (which are perfect for lunch snacks and other snacking options).  After experimenting with a couple bowls I ended up using corn syrup to sweeten as it mixed in better than regular or powdered sugar and I didn’t feel like making simple syrup. I also added a couple tablespoons of vanilla for richness. So if you have found yourself with more milk than you know what to do with, yogurt may be your answer!

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Fridays are Pancake Night

I hate Friday… Yes, I said it.  I hate Friday.  I understand I am counter- culture not screaming TGIF late Thursday night, but it is true.  For me Fridays are filled with grumpy kids because they have been away from home the last couple days and need to vent to their mother.  It is full of me being grumpy because when I finally hit my front door at 7:00 PM, I not only have to feed all the screaming children but also all the animals who are ‘concerned’ that they have had to wait an extra hour to be fed.

One night I cracked, there was absolutely nothing to be had in the dinner department.  My kids were clearly not going to wait an extra half hour for me to thaw meat out or boil potatoes or anything else.  Then my oldest daughter amidst the chaos says “SO, what is for dinner anyway?”  With my very best mom glare, I looked at her and said “Pancakes.  Got a problem with that?”

Maybe not my most diplomatic moment as a parent, but I did not get one single complaint and in fact, everyone ate their dinner with smiles and had pleasant things to say.

I’ve got this, I thought.  The next week breakfast showed up for dinner again and while my husband gave me a little bit of a hairy eyeball, the bacon and potatoes vanished without trace and the extra pancakes I thought I would have for the morning were also gone.

Now, it isn’t always pancakes, tonight we had waffles and other nights its eggs and toast.  They are simple and everyone love’s breakfast food for dinner.  And why not?  We usually eat some sort of potato for dinner anyway, eggs are an excellent source or protein.  Bacon and sausage, I mean come on….

And they all only take a very small amount of time to prep, cook and serve. While we might be lacking a vegetable, I usually have fruit in the mix.

So if you are feeling stressed and out of dinner ideas my suggestion is to look to breakfast for the answers.

Have a little extra time (like maybe 20 minutes)?  Try making some homemade pancake syrup!  YUM!!! And a fraction of the cost of store-bought.   Visit the recipe section to find out how to make it!

Pajama Day

Today I just did not want to.  I did not want to make a decision, I did not want to get dressed, I did not want to do anything except be a child with my little girls.  So I knocked out as much adult have to’s as I could very early (animals still needed fed and babies still needed clean diapers and breakfast as well).  I managed to spend the majority of the day watching The Little Mermaid and eating ice cream with the kiddos on the couch for lunch.  At some point I did realize we would have to eat dinner…. what a bummer, the mom in me couldn’t accept ice cream for two meals.  Going to the store would involve changing out of my baby stained jammies, so that was out.  I decided to go with good old sloppy joes.  I made some homemade buns (not my standard recipe because I wanted them to rise while I picked my oldest up from school) and pulled some burger out of the freezer.  Cook up some green beans and bam, dinner- done.

And then I had to be an adult again and go out and do the evening chores and eat my dinner cold… boo.

Since I didn’t pay the slightest attention to how I made sloppy joes tonight, I will share the Pot Roast I made the other night.  My dear friend has been experimenting in her kitchen at home and requested some different topics, gravy being one of them.  I am happy to report that contrary to her belief she summons demons when she cooks, that the pictures she sends me look great and I have not felt the need to call a priest to perform an exorcism.   But here it is for you Wendy, roast beef and gravy:

First, thing that makes all of this come together well is browning the meat, this is best accomplished in a pan that will go from the stovetop to the oven, so you don’t loose any of that delicious brownness.  I am lazy and don’t often thaw my meat out all the way….. so I don’t add any liquid before putting in the oven.  If you are starting with a thawed piece of meat, add about 1/2 cup of water or beef stock to the bottom of your pan after browning.

Once your meat is nicely browned add your veggies (I use carrots, onions and mushrooms.  You can absolutely add small or cut up potatoes, we just prefer mashed potatoes).

Cover everything with a lid or foil and place in a 350’F oven.  Your cooking time will depend largely on how big your roast is.  This was apprixamently a 2-pound roast and cooked for about 2 hours.  You will know it’s done when it is fork tender.

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Now for the gravy!  Take all the meat and veggies out and put them on a plate or holding vessel of your choice to stay warm a rest while making the gravy.

Place the roasting dish on a burning and set to a medium heat.  I added 1 Tablespoon of beef base and 1 1/2 cups of water.  Bring this to a boil.  In a bowl or measuring cup dissolve 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in about 1/2 cup of water.  When the broth comes to a boil, whisk the cornstarch mixture briskly.  Continue whisking until your gravy has thickened.  Reduce the heat and taste for seasoning.  Add salt or pepper to taste, your gravy is now ready to serve!  You can easily make more gravy by adding more beef stock or beef base and water along with more corn starch.  If you are wanting  the gravy thicker add another teaspoon or two dissolved in a small amount of water  while the gravy is boiling.

Have left-overs?  Check out Our Favorite Beef Stew over in the recipe section!