Thursday, June 25, 2015

Our Dad on Father's Day

He pleasantly poses with his unripe hand-strung sandplum necklace and watercolored sheetrock materpieces.

 Because he knows it blesses his 5 year old's generous, developing heart.

 He delights in bear hugging his girlies in unfeigned affirmation.

He blesses the family with pancakes for breakfast each Saturday morning.

Because he knows we like them.

And we like him.

Our daddy. 
husband. friend.

Because of what he does; because of who he is...
that motivates him to do what he does.

So we present him with a pom pom necklace, a hunk of chocolate, a jar of sand.

And treat him with black bottom cake.

on Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dips, Pasta, Chili, and Cookies (New Recipes of the Week ~ 8)

Dutch Babies/Ocean Cakes

These aren't a new recipe for our family, but we had never tried baking them in a jellyroll sheet instead of a 9x13 glass baking dish. I just love how these eggy pancakes puff up, so bubbly! The recipe didn't take as long to bake in a larger pan either. Dutch Babies are a kid favorite around this house.

Strawberry Dip
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
2 T. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
graham crackers

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, honey and vanilla until smooth. Add strawberries; beat for 1 minute. Serve with graham crackers. Yield: 2 cups

This was served for breakfast on homemade sourdough English muffins. Everyone enjoyed the creamy fresh taste and the bowl was licked clean.

Hot Pastrami Spread

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
2 packages (2 1/2 oz each) thinly sliced, pastrami or pepperoni, chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped green pepper
1/3 c. chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
thinly sliced pumpernickel and light rye bread

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add pastrami/pepperoni and green pepper; mix well. Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with pecans if desired. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and edges are bubbly. Or put in pan and heat through on low. Serve pumpernickel bread with spread. Yield: about 3 1/2 cups.

Dips are my delight. I love all things creamy and cheesy, cold or hot. I remember devouring quite frequently the dried beef cheeseball my mom made often when I was growing up. This pastrami spread is very simple and tasty, if you don't mind having 2 packs of cream cheese get scarfed at one setting. (Cream cheese used to be on my expensive-do-not-buy-unless-necessary list). We used little rye cocktail breads (grocery mark-down) and more of those whole wheat sourdough English muffins to serve up the warm creaminess.

Turkey Tetrazinni

Pretty good, but still can't beat that creamy Alfredo chicken pasta!

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

After harvesting lettuce from the garden, I was in the mood for fajita salad. Since I didn't have a recipe, I looked online and found one with creamy cilantro lime dressing. That sounded pretty tasty, so we used up some of the profuse cilantro in the garden as well. We like a hint of fresh cilantro, but prefer the herb dried in more wintry recipes. This dressing was a bit strong to our liking. 

Beef-Cheese Spaghetti

This gourmet spaghetti with a cheesy garlic white sauce was a recipe I had tried and saved because it was good. It is good. It's just not as delicious as we once thought. So it gets weeded from the personal cookbook as well. Spaghetti with marinara is just as good and has fewer ingredients ($$) and has fewer calories (milk + cheese + butter = chubbers)!

Chipotle Chili

Using some chunked stew venison from the freezer, we ate chipotle chili with fried cornbread one evening for supper. The recipe was super easy and definitely edible, but I am a dump in and taste kind of chili girl. Plus I like more beans. Mostly beans. This recipe called for a piddly couple of cups of beans for TWO POUNDS of meat. 

Recipe rejected.

Chocolate Chip Cereal Cookies
3 1/2 c. flour
3 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
 1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. crushed cheerios
1 c. oatmeal
2 sticks margarine or butter
1 egg
1 T. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. oil (I use coconut oil)
12-oz. package chocolate chips

Sift dry ingredients. Add cheerios and oatmeal. Beat together remaining ingredients except oil and chocolate chips. Add alternately with oil to dry ingredients. Add chips. Bake at 350 for 6-10 minutes.

I have been thinking what a good idea it would be to have an assortment of cookie dough balls ready in the freezer to be baked for a short moment's notice...something easy for the girls to do in the kitchen.  Wouldn't they stay fresh longer? Wouldn't they not get snitched as much? Wouldn't that be an easy finger food or dessert for last minute company? Well. The unbaked balls are not hindering snacking. We still haven't had company since our latest remodel phase. And they certainly are not getting freezer burnt! But they sure are yummy to nibble as you're mixing up a batch or freshly baked from the oven. Mmmm. These have a little crunch and we like them.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Butchering Chickens

We bought the chicks weeks ago.
They were fed and watered well
by a teenage boy, sometimes slow
as he paused to just observe.

Animals have been his niche;
poultry in particular.
He even liked to skin them whole
hanging from the tractor.

Altogether twenty-two
Cornish Cross were butchered.
Four died, although a few;
too many to my liking.

Dad set it up, the meat bird center.
All the family gathered.
We'll enjoy the meat in winter,
with noodles in butter slathered.

Each one has his special part
in butcher assembly.
Girls while degutting found a heart
and lesson in biology.

Dad chopped off heads, son cut off feet.
We hosed off birds and table.

Got it done before the heat,
cut, weighed, and labeled.

130 pounds later
garage freezer stocked
$1.08 per pound is what
we calculated the cost.

But family-time cannot be measured
by cost per pound at least.
Learning times like these we treasure
and on the food we feast.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

French Toast, Pizza, Starfruit, and Potatoes (New Recipes of the Week ~ 7)

French toast sticks conjure memories of school lunch days. The kids love them and later in life, dad does too!

This recipe is from a Taste Of Home Celebrations cookbook  that was given to me at a Christmas exchange soon after we moved to Kansas. I haven't really tried too many of the recipes, though the pretty picture pages have been looked at often.

French Toast Sticks
12 slices bread
4 eggs
1 c milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut each piece of bread into thirds. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dip bread pieces in liquid and lay on greased jellyroll pan. (Can be frozen at this point to be pulled out individually or if you're going to go ahead and eat 'em up, like us ...) Bake at 425* for 8 -12 minutes. Serve with syrup.

I used a package of $.50 hotdog buns from the freezer. A freshly picked wildflower bouquet is also a nice table-top addition. Or a pretty tea towel from a sweet great aunt in Washington state!

Four-Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Pizzas

I'm always up for trying new flavors and toppings on pizza. My children...not so much. And even though these two recipes were from above said cookbook, neither one appealed to me much either. Well, that is when compared to my favorites: scrumptious Supreme or Hawaiian!


We always swing past the clearanced produce racks when we're in the grocery. On this occasion, they had 3 starfruit for $.99. My little girlies wanted some (of course.) So we grabbed them with several packs of colored peppers for the same price.

Hence the suppertime individual appetizer plate.

We had never tasted starfruit. These were kind of crunchy, yet juicy. They had a sourish sweet taste -not much flavor- but refreshing! And very pretty!

Hearty Alfredo Potatoes

With chicken and broccoli, this potato dish is meal in itself. No one complained when the lid lifted after prayer to reveal the skillet's contents.

Baking Day

Sweet C wanted real bread, not hamburger buns or french loaves, but freshly ground Kansas-grown-wheat bread. While her big sister/chief baker was gone to visit grandparents, Caroline got some kitchen experience. She always like a little dab of dough to doctor up with sweet things like cinnamon, sugar, raisins, etc.

While the oven was prepped and hot, we also made Blueberry Custard Kuchen to share Sunday with friends and Cinnamon Amish Sourdough Bread for a quick breakfast cake later in the week.

What's been happening in your kitchen?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Project Pond

A long time ago -October of 2013- we began to grade the partially dug pond that was full of prairie grass and overgrown weeds. With an elderly neighbor's tractor and a friend's speed mover, my hubs enjoyed smoothing out dirt. Up and down and through, turn. Up and down and through, repeat.

Then, 7 months later, in early spring (May of 2014), we shook out a pallet of 100 pound bags of bentonite clay to help our sandy pond bottom seal.

With high hopes, we turned on the water and watched it rise, rise, cover the hose, and rise AS LONG AS IT WAS ON. Unfortunately, our area of Kansas just happened to be in a drought (which is quite common; that's why we crave water)! 

So despite the nice puddle that the ground was quickly sucking, we ceased work on the pond project until we did more research and talked to more locals. We didn't want to keep dumping, literally, hundreds of dollars of clay into a hole without significant or even descent results.

Later in the year, the pond soil had washed and filled in a bit, so with another borrowed machine, the hubs played worked at making the shallow end a nice beach area.

Enter April 2015. The pond receives another dose of bentonite "snow".

A separate well is drilled.

It rains! It fills! 

It takes several weeks with the new pump running, and an additional sifting of clay on top of the water. That was the clincher. But our hole is now with water. Fresh, shiny, refreshing, beautiful water.

Enough to swim in.
Days and afternoons and evenings perfect to swim in. 
Brothers and sisters and "please Daddy!" so glad to relax or play or swim in.

Even enough water for sweet C to be baptized in.

Thank you Lord! Hallelujah! What a Savior!