Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey (brined)
Cornbread Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Beans
Clover Leaf Rolls
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Fudge Macaroon Pie

Thanksgiving with Brent's family was on Thursday. We went to his mom's house and had a nice time. We were the only ones there. His brother's family went to an 80th birthday/Thanksgiving celebration for her great-aunt, so it was just us. The girls and I didn't eat (my MIL can't cook), but we had fun and watched the I Love Lucy marathon on TV Land and played Bingo with the kids after dinner.

Thanksgiving with my family is tomorrow. I'm hosting this year. Usually we go to my parents' house or to my brother's house but since my mom died I'm the only one who knows how to cook. The last three Thanksgivings I've prepared the entire feast here and then carted it over to whoever's house. Huge pain in the rear. This year we have our house nearly completed in terms of the remodeling so we're having everyone here. I'm so glad I don't have to worry about carrying the entire Thanksgiving meal all over town.

The girls and I are making the dough for the rolls today and baking the pies. I will also roast the sweet potatoes for the sweet potato casserole. The bread (challah) and cornbread for the stuffing are already baked, cubed, and dried (I did that two days ago), so I should be in pretty fair shape tomorrow morning. I have to go mix my brine now and get the turkey going in that so it brines for a good 16-18 hours.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Job Possibility

I'd rather be posting to say that I am quitting work altogether, but this is a good turn of events for me. It would mean less time working and more time to spend on my husband and children and home.

I've been praying for something to come my way, something that will mean less time typing and more time with the important things in life. I believe this is my answer to prayer.

I hope it works out.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Comfort Food

Life has been hectic lately. Too hectic. I feel like I'm flailing in the wind, exhausted but unable to sleep, so many responsibilities hanging over me and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them. I want to take a good book and a hot cup of tea and hide under the covers. I want to forget I have a job and remember what it was like before, when my children and I spent quiet days together, just living life and having fun. I have to keep working for the time being. I hate that it has to be that way, but it does. For me to quit now would place an unnecessary burden on my wonderful, hard-working husband, and I love him too much to do that. However, I've developed carpal tunnel in my right hand and it is incredibly painful and makes it very difficult to type, so as soon as it is feasible for me to quit this job and be "just mom" again, you better believe I will do so.

Since I cannot take comfort in quitting, I'll take comfort in pudding. Rice pudding, to be exact. It's one of my favorite comfort foods and is also a favorite of my youngest. I make it especially when one of us needs a pick-me-up, or just because.

Rice Pudding

2 cups water
2 strips lemon zest
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil with the lemon zest. Add the rice, cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the milk, sugar, cinnamon and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

While the rice is still hot, lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla in a small bowl, then temper the mixture by whisking in a few spoonfuls of the rice. (This keeps the eggs from scrambling.) Stir the yolk mixture into the cooked rice.

Remove the lemon zest, stir the raisins into the rice pudding and transfer to a casserole dish or individual serving bowls. Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.

Isaiah 43:1-4


Homemade Cleaning Supplies

One of the ways I try to save money on a regular basis is by making my own cleaning solutions. My grandmother used a lot of white vinegar and baking soda around her house, and those two things are in heavy rotation at my house too, but one of my favorite things to make is detergent for the dishwasher.

I admit that I love my dishwasher. I was fortunate to grow up with an automatic dishwasher, and I actually had never washed dishes by hand until I got married and we moved to a small house in Maine. I remember looking around the tiny kitchen, turning to my husband, and asking "But, where is the dishwasher? How will we wash dishes and things without one?" Ha. I was young (20) and naive, and about to find out just "how" to wash dishes without a dishwasher. I was so grossed out at the thought of putting my hands in that dirty dishwater after the first few dishes had been cleaned. I used to drain and refill the sink multiple times so that I didn't have to touch that yucky water. I laugh at myself now, after 16 years of cleaning up after sick children and pets and rinsing and washing cloth diapers, a little dirty dishwater seems like nothing.

But I still love my dishwasher and use it daily. Here's the recipe I use:


Automatic Dishwashing Detergent

1 cup washing soda (crystals)
1 cup borax
2-3 drops essential oil

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until washing soda crystals are reduced to powder. Store in airtight container. Use 1- 2 tablespoons per load in your dishwasher. To save even more money, substitute Rinse Aid with white vinegar.


Processing this in the food processor grinds the powders finer and helps to distribute the oil throughout the detergent. I've been without a food processor for almost a year, so lately I haven't been able to do more than just stir the three ingredients together and it still works just fine, but I think it does dissolve better when it is processed beforehand.

You can use any essential oil you like. I normally add either lavender (my favorite) or lemon oil (smells more like commercial dish detergents).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Slow Work Day, Busy Home Day

I got so much done today! I am always thankful for light work days, especially because they come so few and far between lately. I love to cook and bake and make treats for my husband and children, and I'm pretty sure they love it too.

I made a wonderful Caramel Dip from Tammy's website. As I wrote a couple of weekends ago, we visited the apple orchard and came home with just shy of a bushel of Northern Spy, Granny Smith, and McIntosh apples. We love apples eaten plain or spread with peanut butter or almond butter, and I made the apple pie from last week's blog entry, but we still have a LOT of apples left. Luckily they keep for a long time in a cool, dry place, but I thought the caramel dip might be just the thing to move some more apples along into the children's stomachs!

For dinner tonight I made Spaghetti & Meatballs using a tried and true recipe from Recipezaar. Brent and the children all love it. Last but not least I made another favorite of ours, Amish White Bread, again from Tammy's site. If you haven't visited Tammy's Recipes yet, I encourage you to do so. Some of our best loved recipes have been gleaned from Tammy's site. I visit nearly every day just to read her blog and see what delicious recipe she has added.

I need to get back to work and finish what little typing I have.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Dinner

I have ham and greens simmering in the slow-cooker. I'll make a pan of cornbread served with butter and raw honey and DH will be in food heaven. The children don't care for collard greens, so I'll be making pasta primavera for them.

I just took an apple pie out of the oven. It smells heavenly. We picked lots of apples at the orchard last weekend, the Northern Spy variety is one of my favorites for pie baking.

Amish Apple Pie
(Cooking From Quilt Country, by Marcia Adams)

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans

4 large apples (totaling 4 cups)
1 unbaked, 10-inch pie shell
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup cream (I have used whole milk with success many times)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor bowl, mix the first 6 streusel ingredients. Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly; it should still have a dry look to it - don't overprocess. Add the nuts and set aside.

Preheat the ove to 350°F. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples; there should be 4 cups. Place the apples in the pie shell. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon.

Beat the egg in a medium bowl, and add the cream and vanilla. Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture and blend. Pour over the apples. Bake for 1 hour in the lower one-third of the oven. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the streusel over the top and continue baking approximately 40 minutes longer, or until the top puffs and is golden brown.