Blueberries for WV!

Auntie K and Uncle A (actually what we call them, not just a blog abbreviation) came to visit from NYC (“the big ci-tay”) while W was out of town. I felt like their visit was cut out of the “if you have just 4 days in Gloucester” tour book. We visited L in Richmond, enjoyed splashing in the James River at a secluded beach, noshed on fav sandwiches from The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg (best dang sandwich in VA if you ask me…now if only Edward Snowden could leak me their house dressing recipe), and I even taught the visiting Brooklynites how to pick Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs. But best of all, for A’s birthday, we went blueberry picking at College Run Farms! Picking fruit there is one of my favorite semi-local outings, because you have to cross the James on the (free!) ferry, wind your way through the cornfields (A: Monsanto? Me: Yes, Monsanto) of Surry, and come home with a trunk full of fruit. I called ahead and asked about their use of pesticides and the farmer informed me he hadn’t sprayed his blueberry bushes in 4 years – score! I’ve picked strawberries and pumpkins there, but never blueberries. Funny how whatever you are doing effectively blinds you to other things – though I’d been there 4 or so times, I hadn’t recalled blueberry bushes at the farm, but there they were, big bushy ladies bursting with fruit, rows and rows of them.

P1050871P1050873

P1050887 At first, A professed that the sweetest berries were certainly the top ones. We began by picking only “tops” then, but halfway through, had degraded to brushing lower hanging fruits half-heartedly into our buckets, not so gently, not as carefully as the first ones, which were all added, stemless, with much ado and hemming and hawing over girth, blue-ness, and mouthfeel. Soon, we had picked a fair portion of bluebs (pronounced “bloobs”). A and K each picked a quart and I had to go and pick a gallon.

Frankly, picking a gallon of blueberries is no small task, especially with a squirmy boy on your hip. WV’s sole enjoyment became picking from my basket, squishing, and then tossing. We had fun giggling about it, through blue-stained teeth and lips, but it soon became a habit that was definitely hindering progress. So, Auntie K held WV. He had a blueberry attitude going on, a little hyped on sugar (see below). A then helped carry WV, teaching him to pick from a bush instead of mommy’s basket; my picking picked up.

P1050900 P1050894P1050895

I kept thinking of W’s favorite children’s book, Blueberries for Sal, and determined to read it when we got home to see how our adventure compared to Sal’s. I had a feeling Sal encountered a bear. We, on the other hand, encountered a salty old man, very serious in his picking, several full gallon baskets already a-brim, picking droves more to resell at his farm stand outside of NASA. NASA seemed like the exact opposite of us in this moment, stuffing our faces with bluebs and chortling about finding the largest one yet. Auntie K leaned into me and jokingly whispered of the old man, “he’s going in a poem” mere seconds before A, a poet by trade, looked over his shoulder and said “he’s a character” (translation: “he’s going in a poem.”).

I ended up making this blueberry muffin recipe twice. The first time, I followed it exactly. The second, I doubled the recipe and and changed around some ingredients. I have it here on our recipe page. And STILL there were bluebs left over. So, what did we do? We made jam, naturally. Nine 8-oz jars grace our cupboard now. This little tastetester approved.

P1050980

And Sal DID encounter a bear on Blueberry Hill – but got home safe with her Mamma to can blueberries for winter.

downloadblueberries_4_Sal

Images from: McCloskey, Robert. Blueberries for Sal. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1948. Print.

Our CSA Experience, so far

Remember the failed $50 grocery experiment? Well, not to be discouraged, we have continued to search for ways to lower our monthly food budget.

The past few summers, we have been pretty reliant on the Yorktown and Williamsburg Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings for our fresh, local vegetables and eggs (and sometimes meats). We knew it was a little more expensive to eat this way, but figured it was worth it to have the peace of mind that we know what we’re putting into our bodies and we’re supporting local farmers rather than giant companies with their franken-foods and huge distributors. And yes, we do grow a lot of our own, but we can only grow so much with the amount of space we have.

Our neighbor came to us to ask if we would be interested in going in together on a full CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. This is something I had considered in the past, but never put too much thought into it because of the upfront cost. Well, we did just a teeny tiny bit more research and found out that it is definitely worth the upfront cost, and signed up in a heartbeat. It comes out to just a little more than $13 a week for fresh, local produce from May through September. And it’s a lot of produce. We essentially get an overflowing brown paper grocery bag each Friday, which we split in half and still is an overflowing brown paper grocery bag, and we’re pretty much set on veggies for the week. With a nice note attached each week from the farmers themselves (see below). Can’t get that at the grocery store OR the market.

DaySpring1

Now, we still have to go to the store to buy a few things, but we really enjoy picking up a bag of fresh produce each Friday afternoon. And we play a little guessing game as to what we think will be in the bag each time. So far we’ve had some absolutely delicious strawberries, lettuce, mixed greens, green onions, cabbage, radish, Swiss chard, Pac Choy, arugula, and broccoli. It also forces us to come up with or find new recipes to eat what we have on hand (stay tuned for additions to the recipes page throughout the next few months). So between the CSA and our own garden, we should be pretty set for not only eating fresh produce throughout the summer, but saving what we don’t eat (need to buy a pressure canner… any advice?).

I won’t go into full details on the cost breakdown of our food budget just yet, as we have to wait a few months to see the results of the initial upfront investment, but I just wanted to share about our experience so far with the CSA and the delicious produce we have received. Here’s a link to the farm if you are interested in finding out more information: Dayspring Farm.

March: Less Lion, More Lamb

Ok, this metaphor is inherently flawed. Lions are cool (I wore a tutu on my head for some months as a child because I was a male lion), endangered, beautiful big kitties. W likes to hold WV up and pretend he’s Simba. Lambs (and their adult counterparts SHEEEP!), on the other hand (as opposed to cows, and definitely lions), wreak havoc on the root structure of grasses by cropping them too close and killing them. This has lead to anthropogenically intensified erosion in New Zealand (for example), causing the rivers there to be some of the most sediment laden in the world (intrinsic to the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation). However, for the purposes of maintaining the Marchified metaphor, I shall equate lions with destruction and lambs with tender do-gooding. We know the truth.

March was all about reevaluating our home life and reducing or removing certain things from it that are wasteful, not economical, or generally make us cranky. I wanted to make some changes that would be easy for us, as W is pretty much ensconced in his office either working or finishing his thesis and doesn’t have much time to get down and dirty with other creative projects and family extracurriculars. So, my three lambs:

1. We went paper-towel-less. I’ll pause here, while you get in a good eye roll.

Now I’ll brag about how AWESOME being free of paper towels has been (and we’re not going back). For starters, I hated using paper towels. And running out of them. So wasteful of trees and money. I always felt bad when reaching for one to dry my hands (but I still did it, even though we have plenty of kitchen hand towels) – and ended up with a soggy lump of wet-but-clean paper towels waiting to be used for a real mess later. Good for cleaning up WV’s squash eyebrows, true.

cloth paper towelQuestion: Do you know what cloth “paper” towels clean up better? Answer: Everything! From the mess at lunch on the chopping block to WV’s chin to the wet rails of the sink after washing dishes. They are more absorbent (seen here drying washed spinach), they are reusable, they are better for the earth and our family! C’mon, I’ve got to believe you have a few towels you can cut up from bygone room mates and relationships. Join me in cutting them up and wiping up messes! I put them in a small muslin bag and hung it on our paper towel rack. I took our small bedroom trash bin, since we never use it, and put it behind the kitchen trash, and that’s what I’ve been throwing the used towels into for laundering as a bunch. They don’t look terribly pretty, I’ll give ya that, but then again, neither does an expanse of land devoid of trees – and is a paper towel’s role supposed to be aesthetics? My mom totally agreed it was a good idea, when she visited and pointed out that, in the same vein, she uses cloth dish rags around the kitchen. It’s always good when your mom approves. Gave me a much needed boost of confidence.

2. Shoes are banished from the inside of the house.

details (2)If you know me, you know I LOVE shoes. Once in a while, I’ll put on my wedding shoes (at right, *le sigh*) and think to myself, gah, how did I wear these and when can I again?!? I wish there were things I could wear nice shoes to more often. I get giddy just thinking about the insanely expensive shoe parade that is Sex and the City (see #3; a girl has to have a vice, ya know). These days I rotate between my all purpose crunchy mama Toms, all purpose weary cowgirl boots and treading-on-air Mizuno running shoes that I’m breaking in and trying to keep clean (a much-needed gift from my MIL).

But, finally, after a long-standing “let’s take our shoes off once we come inside” fairly unenforced policy, we’ve relegated our everyday shoes to the vestibule. We’d tracked in enough grime and crud…I was tired of constant sweeping up, and the mess o’ shoes by the front door would slowly migrate to the kitchen and living room (cray-cray, I know, but W has way more shoes than I do). More importantly, if you think about it (I did. A lot.) where have the soles of your shoes been?!? They keep your feet from touching the floor of a public restroom (and any other non-home floors); but if you wear them inside and then take them off, you are essentially spreading the germs of the public restroom to your feet…then you get in bed…ok, gross. I’m done with shoes in the house. Socks, slippers and bare feet are welcome, but we are adopting the cultural traditions of Japan, and many other countries, when it comes to shoes. Perhaps I’ll chance upon a nice wire rack to organize them. Further impetus is that WV is about to crawl. The floors need to be clean. Period.

3. “Hey wait, I can use that!” and “Hey wait, I can use that!”

I got to using more food and household items in non-traditional ways I hadn’t before.
These included (you decide if the emphasis is on “use” or “that”):

→ Saving the bones from a roast chicken to make yummy bone broth, thereby eeking a lot more value out of that expensive organic bird. This “lamb” is more like the proverbial Native American buffalo.
→ Cleaning the bathroom with baking soda and vinegar, thereby avoiding harsh chemicals and all that is intrinsic with their use.
→ Finding yummy recipes to use the pulp leftover from our juicing endeavors. That just makes sense. Since I’m prone to buying multiple 5-lb bags of carrots: Carrot Banana Bunt Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

I’ve enjoyed browsing through the Year of Living Less blog, even though it is defunct. It gets me thinking. We all have our limits, though – while I admire purposeful simplifications I won’t dread out my hair to live without a comb (there was a time in high school I had wanted to…ah well, opportunity missed) or reduce our towel stockpile to the number of people in the house! But I’m really happy about our March’s worth of intentional living. I’m committed to observing my household with a keen eye for what can be replaced with less expensive, safer, and/or more sustainable options (not surprising, how it’s almost always all three), and will keep in mind what I change and find for further posts. I’m taking cues from family, friends, and frustrations. Another thing I’m going to give up is straws. Yes, I love straws, but W pointed out that they are wasteful pieces of plastic and, well, he’s right. Maybe I can get a glass straw? That sounds like a bad idea.

So tell me, what have you changed, repurposed or cooked in your household lately? What are your March “lambs?” Looking forward to hearing and getting some good ideas from ya’ll…

PS: W defends his MS thesis in early April and will be back to blogging thereafter. Send him happy math thoughts!!!

Productive Saturday

Well, today was a pretty productive day, especially for a Saturday. As you can see, I’m actually writing a blog post!

So here’s the day so far:

We woke up at 7:30 am. Not just L, but both of us! This never happens. Most of the time I have a gig on Friday so I don’t get home until 3, so my normal Saturday wake up time is around 11ish. But last night I had no gig – we made dinner, caught up on some Stephen Colbert, and went to bed at a normal time.

So L made coffee (Mobjack Bay Coffee) and left to go to some garage sales, I whipped up some bread batter and set it aside to let it rise, pulled out a copy of my thesis that my advisor had scribbled red ink all over, and began to brew beer. A couple weeks ago I purchased a new brew kettle – 8 gallon capacity, stainless steel, with a spigot. I’ve been itching to try it out but hadn’t had much time (stupid thesis…), but I have been working pretty hard lately and figured I could address the red ink issues with one eye while keeping the other eye on the kettle. I got the water heating up and began to work on my edits. After a while, the water had reached 155 degrees (F), so I added my grains for steeping, set the timer, and continued to work.

P1040717WV woke up around 9:30, but he wasn’t all that cranky so I changed his diaper and let him run around the kitchen in his walker until L got back (and she made delicious pancakes and sausage patties). After the wort was finished boiling, I took it out on the porch to let it cool while I took a trip to the dump. Don’t worry, it was covered so nothing could get in the beer. By the time I got back home from the dump, the wort had cooled enough where I felt comfortable transferring it to the primary fermenter. All I had to do was open the spigot and let it go!

So now I’ve got a batch of pale ale fermenting, two loaves of bread ready to go into the oven, fixed the red ink issues, and the trash and recyclables are out of the house. Doing an acoustic gig tonight, then I get to spend tomorrow with my family (and maybe work on my figures).

Awesome Soup

You may be surprised to know that I am a tad soup-shy. Perhaps this is because I grew up around the most umami-imbued matzoh ball soup (Grandma) and crunktastic cream of carrot soup (Dad). When asked what food I wanted to celebrate my birthday, I chose cream of carrot soup. I was 7. Perhaps I was a rabbit in a past life. Wouldn’t surprise me. At Passover (happy Pasach by the way), I had no problem sneaking an extra matzoh ball in the kitchen pretending I had gone to the restroom (and a sugar cube to boot…did your grandma have sugar cubes?). And then when my grandma asked, “Who wants another ball?” I’d raise my hand. Her broth had little carrot pillows suspended throughout and a proprietary spice blend. Also, my dad was prone to crooning “Beautiful Soup!,” around the house and at random cooking moments which may have subliminally scared me that I’m set up to fail. Fast forward to 2013. I have deep soup galoshes to fill.

So when my dad mentioned he was whipping up a parsnip-y, potato-y soup concoction recently (he had me at “parsnip”), I admonished: send me the recipe! He wrote it all down with room for variations (and I did take some liberties), hints, tricks and tips. I made it. And I only called him twice for clarifications and support. And it was bangin’.

Grandpa D’s Potato Leek Soup aka Vichyssoise a la Ritz*

Ingredients:
P10407064 Leeks, white part, sliced (I used 3 mondo ones)
2 Parsnips, thinly sliced (I used 4)
1/4 Cup Sweet Butter
1 Medium Onion, sliced (I used a half)
5 Medium Potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced (I used 6)
1 Quart Chicken Broth
3 Cups Milk (I used 3.5 cups)
2 Cups Cream (I used 1.5 cups 1/2 and 1/2)

Instructions: In a deep kettle, brown leeks and onion very lightly in butter. Add parsnips and continue to brown for a few minutes. Pour in broth, add potatoes and boil until very tender. Immersion blend (or otherwise crush, sieve or puree). Add milk and cream. Stir, cool and chill. You may vary the quantity of potatoes, parsnips, milk, cream and even butter to you’re tastes – it shall be good as long as, according to Grandpa D, “you love creamy potatoes in some state of liquidity.”

In his recipe notes, he calls this is “a soup to be reckoned with, versatile, and killer-diller in most any circumstance.” I have to agree – it was a divine liquid. We keep eating it with W’s home made bread and mmming! Side note: the kitchen implement that has most helped me break out of my soup shell is my immersion blender. It’s on my (non existent, maybe I should make one) top 5 list of things one really should have in their kitchen. It’s so easy to use, I held WV while blending – he enjoyed listening to and watching it.

P1040711

An added bonus to making soup is that it generates a ton of compostable goodies. And I’m all about that.

P1040709

Today, at the encouragement and behest of dear new friends, I am attempting a 24-hour crock pot bone broth. We shall see. We shall see.

* See NY Times Cookbook (1961) p. 83 for Vichyssoise a la Ritz; In my parents’ copy, my mom wrote, “June 21, 1992, Father’s Day, Delicious!”

Weekend Musings

This weekend was quite full. It can be separated into two, admittedly mama-biased, categories:

P10405091. WV said his first legit word.
2. Everything else.

First word: DADA!!!
Oh laws, I can not, I can not! I’m just busting with pride.

We say, “Walter, can you say ‘dada’?”
He smiles. “DADA!”
We say, “Walter, can you say mama?”
He gives a coy look, “DADA!”

So, erm, we know he’s responding, and it’s technically a word. Buuut, I don’t think it’s attached to dada yet. The thing that really differentiates it from other babblings and cooings and gushings is that he is doing it on purpose, after we ask and he knows he’s repeating something we specifically say to him. We’ve had “back-and-forths” before, but it was more of the “gah, gah, snort, burble” ilk – cute, fun, he’s learning, but no real words. I’d had tried a while back doing vowel sounds to see if he’d mimic them back. Nope. Oh well. This time, he’s repeatedly repeating back the word. So. Dang. Proud.

And onto “everything else.”

It’s been a quiet, productive, cozy weekend.

W’s been working hard on his thesis – every now and then he’ll emerge from his office to rant about test-grids and phi-lines merging with Cartesian coordinates while pointing to a blow-up globe I gave him.

P1040517It was raining hard when I woke up on both Saturday and Sunday, which has been less than delightful. But later during Saturday morning the rain did pause and I quick found a garage sale on line that started at 10am. Perfect! I left the boys sleeping in bed, made a few wrong turns, but found it. Spent exactly $1 on a Daffodil Festival poster, which I am pleased to own – the Daffodil Festival is a Gloucester springtime tradition. Gloucester, didn’t you know, is the daffodil capital of the US! There’s a craft fair, zillions of daffodils sold in bunches and an accompanying 5k that my best friend and I have run several times. The posters are always wicked expensive so I never buy one, but now I have a happy souvenir to remind me of all the Daffodil Fest 5ks we’ve done. I think maybe I’ll sign me and The Walters up for this year’s 5k come to think of it. We have to break in our Bob running stroller!

P1040475Despite the dreary rain, there are some signs of spring just making me itch to go outside! Our yard is one perpetual soggy mess; I would love it to be dry enough to sit outside on the ground with WV, but alas. However, the garden is in progress in our bedroom instead – W rigged up a grow lamp and it has accelerated the process of seedlings peeping their shy first leaves out from beneath the soil. I think our March dual-post will be all things garden-starting, so I won’t say more. The spring peepers have started their cliche-ing-ly incessant crepuscular chatter, too, which is exciting and makes me think of balmy nights! And we’ve left the porch door open to let in the outside (and vice versa) and turned off the heaters a few times. I even sat with WV in the rocker out on the porch for almost an hour talking to an old VIMS friend, whom I hadn’t spoken with in a while! So great to catch up and breath fresh air.

We took a few dog walks, picking between the rain drops, and we (mostly WV) took several naps. He’s getting so big.

P1040453P1040423P1040488


Of course, no weekend is a weekend unless replete with too many cooking endeavors: an insanely tasty apple chicken salad (from a fellow foodie friend – I’ll check with her to see if she’s cool with me broadcasting the recipe), whole wheat pancakes, 8 pizza doughs (to be pizza’d this week), to name a few. WV also had his first pork – I smashed it up with apples (he now eats them incorporated with other flavors) and breast milk and added avocados once and another time, carrots. I also made mushed (boiled, then finely shredded) chicken with broccoli and bananas for him. I kind of want to eat baby food from now on – it was all delish!

Hrm…some other housey things I did in my “free” time? I’m trying to keep up with my book group book, Einstein Never Used Flashcards, by reading while BFing. We drooled over a silly posh-farmer catalogue that showed up in our mail box and agreed we could make everything ourselves. For our farm. I also sorted out a bunch of baby items to consign and then proceeded to miss the deadline to sign up for the local kids’ consignment sale (in my defense, they don’t appear to state the deadline on their website). I bought a mini-tube of super glue and went about the house a-gluin’ all the things I had made a mental note to mend over the past, say, 2 years. It may sound mundane, but small but attainable goals run this household. On my list: a milk-glass (love!) candlestick my Aunt gave me that had cracked in half when the candle burned too low, a magnet that had lost it’s magnet with a picture of my sister spitting water (she’d kill me if I showed the actual pic), the ceramic knob that informatively says “shower” and turns the shower on and off which was broken exactly in half, and a large chunk of a plant pot’s drainage dish that I kept propping up and would continually get knocked off by an animal. glued edited

Tonight, we stayed in, missing a sure-to-be awesome concert in Richmond that our friend’s band, Handsome Molly, was playing. But tomorrow I may go to Richmond to have brunch with her and mah BF! Looking forward to it!

A Week In Recipes…Food & Otherwise

I made and cleaned a mess of a kitchen untold numbers of times this past week. I thought I’d share the week’s food and non-food recipes. Some were inspired by our attempts to more thoughtfully purchase, prep and eat (i.e. making things ahead of time and ensuring leftovers). I also learned that writing recipes takes thought and patience – new appreciation for those old biddies (how I imagine them) who write such old-fashioned-ly snarky things in The Joy of Cooking, and to all recipe makers out there!

Sunday: Super Bowl! Spent the evening with good friends, S & R (who happen to have a 7-month-old, J, who is WV’s girlfriend – I am hoping one day S and I are machatunia).

I made Fried Rice with Bok Choy – our homage to the San Francisco in San Francisco 49ers. We also brought Home Made Rolls and S made the most delish crab cakes to put on them. This recipe is also my favorite for making hot dog buns, from the book W has mentioned before – Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. I tease him by calling the author, Jennifer Reese, his mistress because he starts mucho kitchen sentences with “well, Jennifer Reese says…” She gives a definite “MAKE!” to hot dog buns, but says not to bother with, and “BUY!”, hamburger buns. This is confusing – why not just use the hot dog bun recipe to make hamburger buns and rolls? She says they wouldn’t hold up to a greasy overloaded hamburger, but they did hold up to a crab cake and I’m guessing will be much better than any store-bought hamburger bun (which, lets face, likely won’t hold up well either). I get the feeling from her book that she also wanted her hot dog and hamburger buns to be appreciably different in flavor. However, these buns are so tasty, I don’t mind them being the same for hot dogs and hamburgers and even rolls for dinner with pasta. Your alternative is always the grocery store disgusto-buns that have human hair and duck feathers and who knows what else (I’m serious) in them. So there’s that.

Monday: Babywearing WV in a double hammock, I was a dough-making fool! Eight pizza doughs and 18 more rolls rose during the day and then W and I cooked 4 of the pizzas – 1 for dinner and the others to freeze. Hallelujah for our stand mixer! We need to order more flour.

Pizza Dough and Pizza Recipes – It’s taken numerous iterations to get to what we think of as our “go-to” pizza recipe when it comes to both the dough and the process. We used to buy dough from Trader Joes, which sells a single dough (white or wheat) for 99 cents, which ain’t too shabby price-wise, but compared to home made dough, doesn’t hold a candle to the flavor. After several girl’s nights where my friends easily made tasty, tasty dough to make pizzas, I realized we should (and could) too! Our favorite recipe is from an Italian cook-book (makes sense) we got for our wedding. I often make 8 doughs at a time (we. eat. alot. of. pizza), quadrupling the recipe and using two bowls. I also usually make W help. Then we’ll assemble 2-4 pizzas that night, freezing the remainder of the doughs in individual portions as well as the left over pizza – it’s a great snack or dinner in a pinch. Brings new meaning to “frozen pizza.”

Tuesday: Day o’leftovers.  Lunch was Peanut Sauce and Glass Noodles, which although I made the Friday before I started this post, were so tasty and the recipe so simple, I thought it would be a good one to add.

Wednesday: Walter had a long day at work (usually he works from home, but he had to go to several meetings) so I was stuck at home thinking about chicken cutlets. I did something about that. Also, I made some baby food for WV.

Chicken Parmigiana – Oh man, this turned out soooo good!  I have never made this…probably mostly because my mom makes chicken cutlets to die for and I just didn’t want to try and fail – failing meaning, not tasting like my mom’s.  But this was a delish dish that made it onto sandwiches and as dinners over the next two days.  W and I figured it cost less than $2.00 a serving…and these were organic chicken breasts.  Recalling that our chicken parm sandwich from a restaurant a few weeks ago was nearly $10, well, I, uh, wow.

Apple SauceP1030810 Originally made for a certain baby, but as you can see here, after choosing the best organic apples, washing them, peeling them, juicing them, reconstituting them, heating them, and finally pureeing them…WV DID NOT WANT TO EAT THEM. He made several adorable “this sucks, mom” faces, pulled off his cute bib, and spit them out. Okay, so now it’s adult apple sauce.

Thursday: Juicing Fiends!!!  No need for a recipe here – I’d pulled out the juicer for the apple sauce, so kept it out for a round of home made orange, carrot and apple juices.  Mmm…liquid ambrosia.  The key to juicing is just prepping the ingredients all at once (makes you feel accomplished); then they’re ready whenever you want juice (makes you feel lucky). Carrot juice cut with a hint of apple is my favorite. The rest of the day was full of leftovers.

Friday: Breakfast – eggs and W’s Home Made Bread.  For dinner I made Pink Alfredo Sauce with onions and mushrooms and spinach pasta. This has got to go into our rotation as well – it came out scrumptious!!! I kept “re-saucing” my pasta, just to have some more!

P1030842

Saturday: Breakfast – Orange & Oat Scones. W’s mom gave me this beautiful stoneware scone pan that I don’t use often enough. These scones did’t show the thistle impression because they were too chunky with the oatmeal, but the pan keeps them in a nice shape. One note, if you are using a pan like mine and not a cookie sheet, you’ll need to adjust the baking time to ~25 minutes. Also, the recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk; I didn’t have any. Using one of my favorite handy cooking references, Substituting Ingredients, I added 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar instead. I made two batches – one with and one without chocolate chips. Sixteen scones didn’t last long…they’re great with afternoon tea, too (and we gave a few away)!

I also made a new batch of our Go-To Granola, which I always modify in some way according to the ingredients I have laying about (this time I had date pieces and craisins). Usually I double the recipe, but this time I didn’t and it went much faster – mostly because mixing ~10 cups of ingredients is much harder than mixing ~5 cups of ingredients. Tasty for upcoming breakfasts with milk or yogurt or as a snack by itself.

P1030908

Lavender Baby Powder – One of my mom’s friends sent me a small shaker of home made baby powder, and it turned out to be the best thing we’d ever put on WV’s butt! Especially for cloth diapering, which necessitates not using any sticky creams. Anyway, we ran out. Ack!!! I didn’t want his rashlessness to end!!!  I haven’t made this recipe exactly because I’m waiting on the kaolinite (white clay) to arrive (bought 5 pounds here), but(t) have posted the full recipe because it kinda sucks without the clay (very hard to shake out of the bottle, trust me). Can’t wait for the clay to arrive and amend my currently eking-by baby powder.

Butt Spray (yep, that’s really what we call it). I made a batch of wet wipe solution (I make our own cloth wipes, too – more on that forthcoming). This is super simple and avoids all the nastastic and harsh ingredients in regular wipes. One batch lasts about a month.

Sunday: Crock Pot London Broil with Veggies – To prep for a few extra meals this week, I whipped this up and let it simmer all day. The house smelled divine. On Saturday I had cooked up 2 cups of rice to have for the week, when needed. That came in real handy for this diner! I like prepping a big pot of rice (might do some quinoa tonight, too) for the rest of the week. It came out a little tough, but I think that is because of the meat cut itself; other crock pot meats I’ve made with the same recipe were quite tender.

What’s in store, recipe-wise for this week? Well, for V-Day, I’m going to try salted caramel brownies cut into hearts. No other major cooking plans…maybe I’ll defrost some pizza. And chuckle at these cooking fails again! Bon Appetit!!!