Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Butternut Squash

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I was watching one of the daytime tv shows recently (can't remember which one). The host cut and roasted butternut squash after sprinkling them with olive oil and spices. I was instantly taken back to the Shabu Shabu restaurant in Korea and their broth which we used to cook our meat at the table. Along with the meats to cook, we also received greens and other veggies to add to our soup. Butternut squash slices was one of those veggies. Maybe I'll try that with the next butternut squash purchase! In the meantime, I forgot what spices Daytime TV Host put on her squash. So, I just sprinkled mine with olive oil, pepper and cinnamon. I thought of salt, but decided against it. The cinnamon was perfect for the squash and the pepper gave it a nice little kick! It turned out really good! Yummy in fact!

*Since getting my iPhone, I've finally joined Instagram. Not sharing a ton of photos, but having fun with the little photo app just the same. :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spooks' Welcome

Reed wanted to go all out and decorate the yard for Halloween. I was stubborn and didn't want to spend the money. $30 for a fog machine? Um, no, not into it. So, we got creative and did a few things along the sidewalk to the front door. Turns out, Hurricane Sandy may do some of her own decorating that might end up being a little more scary than ours. So, I saved money foregoing that fog machine. ;)

With thoughts of the storm heading our way, I debated taking down the decorations. Instead of all that, I just went out and snapped some photos to share and remember.
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Matilda, the witch, is a tomato cage turned upside down and draped with black trash bags and netting. I drilled holes in the plastic pumpkin to insert the tops of the tomato cage wire into. We then topped her off with the witch's hat. The ghost is Reed's costume from last year draped over the taller metal sunflower (like the short one you see on the side).
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Tombstones and bones litter the flowerbed.
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And the porch is creepy webbed with spiders and mice.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall has made it's mark

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I was thinking last week I should get out and take some fall photos. Yesterday, as I was driving down to the cranberry bogs to visit a friend, I realized I might have waited too late for those fall photos. Many of the trees have started dropping their leaves. But, beauty is still there in all the wonderful colors of fall.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Photo Friday!

Last Friday night, temps dipped down LOW! The overnight temp was 32°F at some point. This brought frost. I told my dad a few weeks ago that the frost was going to get my tomatoes before I did because there were still so many green ones on my vines! Grrr.... I covered the plants to protect them from the frost Friday night. On Saturday when I uncovered them, I decided to go ahead and pull all the tomatoes off the vine and clean up the area in case we had more cold nights before they ripened. We haven't had any more cold nights. But I have a box full of green tomatoes!
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The southerner in my whispers thoughts of frying these. Then, that southerner remembers the mess that frying makes and that she doesn't really LIKE to fry stuff. I've decided to leave them. If tomatoes we buy in the store are picked green and delivered to us months later ripened over time, why can't I try it at home? I'll bring them in and put them a counter somewhere. Maybe by December I'll have ripe tomatoes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm becoming my parents

If we visit my parents in the summer time, we usually get to enjoy the fruits of their labor in their garden. My dad loves to grow cantaloupe or watermelon. Usually, when we cut open a really good melon, he'll say, "Save those seeds!" Their window sills, outside tables and any susceptible horizontal surface is likely to be occupied by a paper towel drying seeds from something in his garden. There are little baggies in the freezer labeled with whatever seeds contained therein and often a date to depict the year.

Saving those seeds can produce GREAT things as seen in this post from last year. More of Dad's Garden Goodness

The older I get, the more I catch myself doing things my parents have done in the past. One case in point is rolling out dough for biscuits using the Tupperware pastry mat that belonged to my mother which I mentioned a few weeks ago.

This evening as I was preparing dinner, I was scooping out the seeds from the middle of a butternut squash when a little voice in my head said, "I wonder if I saved these seeds and planted them next year, would they produce?" And thus, it hit me again. I'm becoming my parents! I put the tray with the squash in the oven, then proceeded to separate the seeds from the pulp and put them in a strainer to dry a bit. They'll later take a place of honor on a paper towel to dry more.
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On becoming my parents, it's not such a bad thing. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful, supportive, loving Christian parents!

Do you do things that make you stop and think, am I becoming my parents?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Granola

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Cinnamon, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, maple syrup, and old fashioned oats are the keys to this homemade granola recipe I found in
The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila.


I've made other granola before that I found and pinned on Pinterest. I had just read Alana's recipe last night. This morning, I had an argument with Teen about breakfast.

With Alana's recipe fresh on my brain, I decided it was time to make something for another option. I added a few more spices of nutmeg and ground cloves and replaced the canola oil with coconut oil. My house smelled so good while this was in the oven! Breakfast in the morning will be granola with craisins covered with milk.
Yum, I can imagine it now. Wait, maybe I should just taste test it for an afternoon snack.

Here's my method of madness for putting the granola together using Alana's recipe while making a few substitutes and additions of my own.

Granola
10 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups raw sliced or roughly chopped almonds
1 cup shredded unsweetene coconut (I used sweetened)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I used sea salt)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil (I used coconut oil)
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons Vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract ( I didn't have this so left it out)
Optional: 1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup, dried fruit (I didn't have this syrup so left it out as well.)
Fruit - fresh or dried to add later.
My additions to the recipe:
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


1. Preheat oven to 250. Position both racks in the upper two thirds of oven.
2. Combine the oats, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut, salt and cinnamon in your largest bowl. Stir until contents are uniformly mixed. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together oil, maple syrup, vanilla, almond extract and golden syrup, if using, to make a uniform syrup. Pour this mixture int the bowl. Stir until everything is coated and there are no hidden pockets of syrup or dry ingredients in your bowl.
3. Line 2 18x13 inch jelly roll pans with parchment paper. Spread granola in an even layer on each pan. Put them in the oven and set your time to thirty minutes. Shuffle granola around and switch pans on racks. Set timer for another thirty minutes. Same routine. Set timer on another thirty minutes.
4. At the end of the full 90 minutes of baking, turn off over and leave the granola for up to 6 hours. (I didn't do this as I was using my oven for something else after this.)

Add your raisins, fruits just before eating.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Donuts

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With my resolve of eating more wholesome and less processed foods, I have run into quite a few road blocks when it comes to snacks or extras for the boys' lunches. This has led me to being creative which is actually a nice way of saying cooking more.

On 100 Days of Real Food's Facebook page, she often shares photos of the lunches she packs for her girls. A few times, I've spotted homemade donuts.

Hmm.... lightbulb.

I didn't act on this lightbulb moment right away because I was caught up making muffins or finding good pretzels and cutting up different fruits, etc. But, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a mini donut tin at Joann's that was on sale. I debated the larger donut pan, but I went with the mini thinking minis would be great for lunchboxes. I didn't even realize it was on sale until I was at the checkout. Yay!

Over the weekend when I was making breakfast and my kitchen was already a mess, I decided to try out a pumpkin recipe. I compared Lisa's recipe on her site Ways to Switch Up You Kid's Lunch with the recipe included in the paperwork for the pan. I ended up making adjustments and making my own Pumpkin donuts.
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They were moist and delicious...

Pumpkin Donuts
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons oil (I used coconut oil)
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (canned)
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
3 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a bowl, blend flour with the baking powder and other dry ingredients.
3. In another bowl, mix egg, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, oil and pumpkin puree.
4. Stir flour mixture into the milk mixture and blend until lumps are no longer present.
5. Grease donut pan. I used my new Misto sprayer filled with oil olive.
6. Fill wells half full with batter.
7. Bake at 425 for 6-7 until the tops reach a beautiful golden brown.
8. Cool in pan for five minutes, then on a baking rack while you finish cooking the remaining batter!
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Boo!

I used to call myself a scrapbooker and paper-crafter. I've not done much of either craft in the past five years. A card here. A scrapbook layout there. Nothing to shout from the rooftops about! Same for buying supplies to do such things with.... I swore off buying anything new long ago. But, that doesn't stop me from picking up something every once in a while. I was in ACMoore a few weeks ago and spotted these Halloween stamps for a buck a piece. I decided why not.

Over the weekend, I found myself in the basement at my desk playing with paper, scissors and glue. This is one result of my play time.
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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Yard Sale Saturday

G-Dub decided today that he wants to be a picker when he grows up! At age almost 43, it's about time, right? LOL

We dropped Teen off to catch the bus with his Cross Country team this morning, then did a little driving around to see if we could find any good yard sales. We were spoiled by the neat and cool things we found at yard sales in Kansas. We haven't really hit a jackpot since being here. But today, we pretty much hit a couple of jackpots! I think the cooler weather and hint of fall had people out faring their goods because we found more sales today than we ever have.

I used to feel a little weird about yard sales. There's just something eh about walking around looking through other people's stuff. But, that's how treasures are often found!

I'll share a couple of things we picked snagged today.

I almost walked by this beauty of a lantern but the turquoise color drew me back to it. I inquired about the price and the lady said, $6. Um, where did G-Dub go with his wallet? Yikes.... down to the neighbor's sale. Hmmm... so I walked down to get him hoping that no one else would pick up the lantern while I was away from it. He met me with another lantern asking if I liked it. "I like the other one at that house better!" was my response. He had noticed it, but didn't ask the price so kept going. We went back and paid for it! We won't use it here at the rental house though we could. But, we are planning to save it and hopefully use it at our next house. I just love it.
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Apparently we were on a roll with light fixtures today because we also bought a ceiling fan with a heater. I'd never seen one before or even thought to look for one. When we saw it, we immediately thought about our bedroom here. We could barely get it above 63 degrees in that room last winter! And it was a mild winter! Geesh... We are hoping that we can replace the ceiling fan that is there with this one and have good luck. I couldn't find the exact one online, but in looking at others, they range in price from $250-$400. We bought the one today, still in the box and never used or removed for $20. Um, yeah. Bargain! And that baby will be going back in that box and with us when we move!

Third is a vanity light fixture. We bought this with the downstairs bath in mind. The one that was in there had light bulbs that were $10 a piece and had to be special ordered. Ugh... G-Dub found a past its prime and not so pretty fixture at another yard sale and replaced it, but I don't like it. When we found this one for $5 again, we snagged it. Again, this will go with us when we move just because I like it.
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Another yard sale prompted me to buy this basket. I don't need this basket, but I really liked it! It's so unique. The lady worked somewhere and said they were originally $50, but she had $5 on it. She also commented that no one had taken her up on it for $5 so she'd let me have it for $3. Ok... the balls inside were $1, so not a bad deal. I have wanted a few more decorative balls, but haven't wanted to pay the price for them. Problem solved. Now, just what am I going to do with this basket? Hmmm.... If I ever moved forward with photography, it would be a good prop.
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Speaking of photography props, I bought a half pack of wood look vinyl floor slats that I will store away for some future use. (Would make a great hardwood floor look for a photo prop....combined with that basket.... hmmm)
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G-Dub asked about a Craftsman leaf blower. The man said he wasn't sure if it worked or not and told G-Dub he could just have it because it was a little difficult to crank the last time he'd started it. G-Dub equals Mr. Fix-It. He has the thing in pieces adding a new fuel line and other little pieces in the garage as I write this. He started it earlier and it runs great, but needed a few new parts. So... awesome bargain!

We picked up some other odds and ends. LilMan bought a backpack that is bigger than his travel bag. G-Dub bought a digital camera which I told him not to, but he wanted anyway. LOL We picked up a Starbucks thermos for $2. I was on the hunt for some small Mason jars, but only came home with four half pints for $1. More than I had this morning, but not as many as I wished for! LilMan was so ready to come home! He usually loves treasure hunting garage sale picking, but this morning, he was done! (not my fault we didn't find any sales with Legos... ;)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Planting garlic

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I will admit that I probably didn't even know what garlic was until I was a teenager. My first introduction to it was probably pertaining to some vampire movie or maybe Scooby Doo. Oh, wait, Pizza Hut was a prominent part of my teenage years, so maybe I knew about it because of pizza. My family never used garlic. We never ate much pizza until I was in my teens. Basic and simple southern cooking of a meat and three just doesn't require much garlic.

As an adult, I've learned to use it more and more. Two times living in Korea really helped me appreciate garlic. The first time we were there, I remember trying it like so many of the Koreans do. Eating an entire clove. Oh.my.goodness... I thought I was going to die! What? This is supposed to be healthy? How can it be healthy and almost kill me at the same time? Geeesh! Lesson learned - leave the whole garlic clove eating to those who can handle Soju and Korean chili peppers. I stick to the simple stuff. A teaspoon here. A tablespoon there. Nothing over the top. And, I really cheat by buying the jar of minced garlic though I have a nice gadget to press it for me.

A few weeks ago, I saw a pin on Pinterest about growing your own garlic. I'd never really thought much about it. I tend to plant in my little garden bits of what my parents planted in theirs because I learned from them. If you read all of the above, you can imagine that garlic was never a staple in my parents' garden. Maybe that's why I never considered it. With my friend Christy's talk of fall planting over at Our Homestead Haven, I thought of planting something for fall. But, that was a few weeks ago and thoughts were as close as I got to actually doing! That Pinterest pin and thoughts of fall garden planting led me to pick up a few heads of garlic at the farm market earlier this week when I was buying all those tomatoes!

Planting and growing garlic seems pretty straight forward. As one blogger stated, any idiot can do it. Hey, that sounds like a challenge! Today, I broke apart the head of garlic and looked for a spot in the border beds to tackle for the job.
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Though the mulch looked too pretty to bother, I did. I shoveled around and added some humus and manure to the area (because I thought over the summer that dirt needed a little boost).
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Then I used my trowel and dug a trench. I placed the cloves into the trench with the root side down. I covered everything, watered and walked away.
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Hopefully, the garlic really is idiot proof and will like my carefree approach.

Time will tell. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I might be crazy


I was browsing the Heavenly Homemakers blog recently and ran across a recipe for homemade/canned tomato soup. We love tomato soup in the winter with a warm grilled cheese sandwich. I decided I needed to try and make up a batch for us. That required a trip back to the farm market as my tomatoes are still green! Sigh.... There are a few red ones, but the majority are green. They are coming around, but I hope the frost doesn't get them before I do! I couldn't decide how many tomatoes to buy. My purchase from a few weeks ago purposed three lovely pints of homemade marinara. I wanted to ensure I'd have more than three pints this time around. So, when I saw the sign on the box that said, "$12 for whole box" of utility tomatoes, I decided to just do that! Utility tomatoes are tomatoes that are perfectly fine, they just aren't as pretty as the ones the market can sell for more $ a pound. I picked up the box and a few more things. I got home and weighed the box of tomatoes.

Two pounds.

Wait, what?

It took me just a second to realize that my scale had circled itself and landed on two pounds. It maxes out at 24.
The increments between that 24 and 2 are actually three. 24, 0, 1, then 2.

I bought 27 pounds of tomatoes for $12.
Oh, a bargain! But, ummm, twenty seven pounds of tomatoes is a lot of tomatoes!

They aren't quite as ripe as I'd like them to be, so I decided to spread them out on the table out back.
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Seeing them all spread out like that I decided I might be crazy.

Then I remembered what the lady at the counter of the other farm market asked me when she was weighing my butternut squash. I had two. She pointed to the big bushel bucket overflowing with butternut squash behind her and asked if I would rather have those. $4 for the entire lot. As she weighed my two and they came to almost $4 alone, I was tempted, but turned her down. I haven't used butternut squash in a long time. The venture to buy those yesterday was a whim. I couldn't see X pounds of them in my kitchen along with the tomatoes. THAT would have been crazy! But it would have been another bargain!

Maybe if they are still there after I finish with the tomatoes. ;)