Plum Week

When we came back from vacation, the plum trees were heavy with ripe fruit.

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There were not-quite-ripe plums, too, but even those were ready to come off in our hands, so we picked them.  We left the ones the birds had started to snack on.

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At the end, we had a lot of plums. (Had I been thinking clearly, I’d have weighed them.)

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We froze plums for smoothies and made Plum-Vanilla Jam, Plum Barbecue Sauce, and Fresh Plum Turnovers and Plum Upside-Down Cake.

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Happy is she whose husband processes fruit with her.

Making Meals Ahead

Sometimes I feel like I can’t be as helpful to others as if I were more mobile.  For example, it would be great to go clean the house of someone who just had a baby.  But really, bringing my four kids into a house with a newborn would be terribly germy and dangerous.  But I can make meals to share.  And when I was a new mom, the meals others brought us were such a blessing.  But what to bring?

I think my favorite meal was a roast pork tenderloin with new potatoes and green beans… but I can’t quite whip that up and deliver it at 10 am.  So instead, we like to bring:

Mini pizzas. 

I precook the crust for 7-8 minutes before I put on sauce and toppings.  (The precooking keeps it from getting all soggy.)  Then they can cook them at 375 until the cheese bubbles.

Creamy chicken enchiladas.  (Any enchiladas, really.)  My friend Lori is so smart: she lines her pan with foil and then freezes them, and then she can just hand over the frozen foil-wrapped enchiladas and keep her pan.  Brilliant.

Breakfast Burritos.  These are great, because you can freeze some for yourself, too.  Any breakfast food, really.  When SweetP was born, my friend Lori brought me cinnamon rolls and a breakfast casserole.  I ate it for days, for every meal.  Yum.

Cookie dough, frozen in balls.  Or individually wrapped muffins.

What are your favorite dishes to share?

 

 

Cake Pop Central

O requested “Bunny Cake Pops” for his party.
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I started with melted white chocolate, which I put in a sandwich bag.  I cut off the corner (a SMALL hole) and piped the chocolate on a parchment-covered cookie sheet, in the shape of bunny ears.  (I repeated this with the dark chocolate.)  These went into the fridge to cool.

Then I made a cake, which– after cooling– went into the mixer with 1/2 (to 1) cup frosting to mix into “dough.”

I rolled this into balls and put them on a parchment-covered cookie sheet to cool in the fridge.

Then I melted dark chocolate and dipped the stick in it, getting about 1/2 cm of chocolate on the stick.  Then pop the stick into a cooled ball. Repeat ad nauseum and chill again.

The penultimate step is to melt more chocolate and dip the cooled balls into it.  I watched a youtube video which I now can’t find, but if you’re a visual person, this was very helpful.   This is the trickiest part– getting the chocolate very smooth and molted without ruining it.  I do it in 30-s increments in the microwave.  In between, I put the container of chocolate in another, larger container of  very hot water to keep it warm.  When the chocolate on the balls is hardening, it’s helpful to have some foam in which to stick the sticks so they dry round.  I had some leftover foam from an Edible Arrangement and used that, but no one complained when the cake pops were flat on one side.

A few of them had faces painted in chocolate, but they were delicious without as well.

First week of school, in photos

:: a really great nature walk

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:: a cabbage caterpillar found on the basil in the fridge, which prompted M to recite every fact she knew about butterflies and moths and their life cycle

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:: table time

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:: my new plan for limiting screen time: if you want to watch someone else’s 15 minutes of time, you have to do jumping jacks all the way through it

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:: cattails

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:: every time I walk into the bathroom, I can see which article of Scientific American is capturing J’s interest

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:: making apple-rhubarb sauce (adapted from Stacy’s great recipe here)

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:: reading with Daddy

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:: a visit with our friends who have chickens

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:: time in the garden

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:: our volunteer time, in which we got to do our FAVORITE activity: loading cardboard for recycling

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:: a very sweet SURPRISE! belated birthday party for M from friends

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Not pictured: math tantrums, dance breaks, my costco meltdown, broken glass all over the floor (twice), $270 at the eye doctor, screeching eels, cliffs of insanity

Chicken Corn Noodle Soup

This soup is a conglomeration of several soups.  My college roommate made a Korean comfort soup that was an egg drop/creamed corn chicken soup.  I added the Mexican alphabet pasta when our first babysitter introduced J to it, and he loved it.  (I’m sure it’s why he’s so smart.)  O ate three bowls of it last night.  So, without further ado:

Korean Chicken Creamed Corn Egg Drop Mexican Noodle Soup

15 oz chicken broth

2 eggs, beaten

2 cans creamed corn

2 cups cooked chicken, in bite-sized pieces

1 package Mexican alphabet pasta

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.

2. Bring broth to a boil.  Slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs, all the while stirring the broth with a fork.

3. Add creamed corn, noodles, and chicken.  Heat through.

It sounds bizarre, but we love it, and it cooks up in a dash from my freezer and pantry.

I’d love a more condensed name– anyone up to the challenge?

Roast Tomato Soup

I received a few requests for this recipe.

Wrap 4 cloves (or more!) of garlic in foil.  Quarter your tomatoes (all kinds work well) and put in a 9×13 roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil. 

Roast the tomatoes and garlic at 450 F for about 45 minutes to 60 minutes.

When they smell fabulous and are all bubbly, take them out and let them cool a little.

Put the tomatoes through a food mill to remove the skins and most of the seeds.  Let this cool a little.

Then blend a few cups of the tomatoes with your garlic (peeled), and as many basil leaves as you can find.

Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.

This soup freezes well.  When I serve it as soup, I reheat it with milk (about 1:1).  I also use it as sauce for pasta or pizza, or as a base for whatever other tomato soup/sauce I’m making.

(The tomatoes on the right are waiting to go into the oven.  The ones on the left have been roasted.)

Summer Food

Our diet really changes in the summer– from all my one pot winter comfort food, to stir fries, or green salads with grilled steak or chicken, and big bowls of pasta plus any vegetable/fruit we have in the house.  I like to keep raisins (or craisins), croutons and nuts in the pantry to throw in there, too.

Another options I like is quiche.  This one is 5 eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 5 slices of bacon, 1/2 cup each grated parmesan and jarlsburg cheese, and some tarragon, salt & pepper on top.  I was out of onions and forgot I have a garden full of them, but onions would have been good.

For dessert we had a rhubarb-berry crisp from Simply in Season, my favorite cookbook.  I made a shortbread crust (1 cup flour, 3 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/3 cup butter, mix well, then bake in a pie crust at 425 degrees for 10 minutes) and filled it with the Rhubarb Pie recipe.  Except I didn’t have enough rhubarb, so I added the last handful of blueberries from the freezer, and half a cup of strawberry jam.  Yum.

If I bake, I try to bake a whole bunch of things at the same time so I’m not heating up the oven multiple times.

What are your favorite summer foods?

Black Bean-Avocado-Pepper-Mango Salad

I think I mentioned I’m in a food rut.  So with great effort, I’ve been dragging out our favorite recipes and making them.  This one has been a favorite for a long time.  I make it in the winter when mangoes and avocadoes come ripe from… somewhere.  It doesn’t fit with my local food preference, but right now about the only thing growing locally is mushrooms.

Black Bean-Avocado-Red Pepper-Mango Salad

Chop and combine: 2 ripe avocadoes, two 15 oz cans (rinsed and drained) black beans, 1 red pepper, 1/2 red onion, 2 mangoes, and one 14 oz can corn, drained.

Combine and blend well: the juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 clove garlic, crushed.

Pour dressing the salad and enjoy.  (It’s best cold.)

What’s for dinner at your house?

Homemade Play Dough

I don’t want to debate the merits of homemade playdough v. store-bought.  I do both, but when all that’s left in my house is this:

and I have neither the time nor the inclination to run to the store (where I’d spend way more than the $4 I’d spend on playdough), here is how I make it:

Play Dough

Bring 1 cup water, 1 tbsp oil and the food coloring of your choice to a boil.

Add in 1/2 cup salt and stir for 1 minute.  Then add 1 tbsp cream of tartar and 1 cup flour.  Mix well over low heat until it firms up, then put the lump on a plate and knead it until smooth and cool enough for your children to handle.

This is a very forgiving recipe– you can actually add the ingredients in any order, but I find the color comes out better when I do it this way.  Also, I used kosher salt one day and ended up with large grains still in the dough.  So maybe use iodized (small grain) salt.

Just for fun, let’s pan out from the play dough photo to show you what the kitchen really looked like…

But wait– there’s more:

Now you know what I’ll be working on while the kids play with play dough. 

Blessings to you today!

Breakfast Burritos

Let me preface this post by saying that breakfast is a hard meal for me, both to eat and cook. But there are a few recipes I really enjoy for the morning–  Stacy’s breakfast burritos, Kendra’s Baked Oatmeal— that I use over and over.

Last week, I wanted to make breakfast burritos, but what I had on hand was slightly different.  So, using Stacy’s recipe as a guide, I sauteed 2 lbs of bacon, then 18 eggs, then a quart of fingerling potatoes with some diced onions.  I sauteed (all in the bacon fat– don’t tell my cholesterol!) some red peppers and onions as well.  Then I mixed it all together in a ginormous bowl, and put a scoop on a tortilla, covered it with cheese, and wrapped it to freeze.

These are very different from Stacy’s, but very delicious too.

Now, if I could only get the kids to eat them…