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Archive for September, 2008

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

I Don’t Care What They’re Saying About HFCS

You’ve seen the new ad campaign right?  I think I take the position on HFCS that a lot of home cooks take which is simply that if I can’t procure HFCS to use an an ingredient as a home cook I’m going to be highly suspicious… highly.  But this isn’t really a post about HFCS, this is a post about snacks.  HFCS comes into play because the ones that ben likes to eat unfortunately contain it and Chase loves to have bites whenever she sees him eating one.  All of my feeble attempts to offer her a store bought substitute also failed so as a last resort I decided to try my own.  Not to mention that dad agreed to give up his faves if the experiment was any good. 

I used a lot of different sources for inspiration including this, this and this.  I used a little big of each of the recipes and the result was a success.  I think that next time I would mix a double batch because 2c of oats comes out looking kinda puny but the taste and texture was right on.  They kept perfectly well stored on the counter in a tupperware container.  

They flipped out nicely and in one piece.  I meant to take a picture of them cut… but I forgot.  It was almost too late but I got a shot of Chase nibbling on one. 

So they were good, the thing is now I have to make them… like all the time.  

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Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Phase 1:: Chicken Hat: Complete

You won’t find this in any store!  The only way I could get her to wear the hat was to give her a pita chip.  A smarter parent would have waited more than 2 seconds after she woke up from nap.  

www.peepandthebigwideworld.com

 

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Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Cross Your Fingers

I just entered my blog here! On second thought I should have had Ben do it. He’s the one with the horseshoe… well you know.

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Sunday, September 28th, 2008

I Went to Visit a Farm One Day

I’m still reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I’ve been looking into this for a long while but the book was the final push I needed to really get stuff done.  I found Springfield Farm a while back searching for a local farm that did eggs and meat.  We drove out there today to visit.  It’s so close to the city, only about a half hour or so up 83.  We loved it up there.  If only we had half a mil, we’d move up there in a heartbeat.  

What I wanted to find out for myself was how the animals looked, how they were housed and whether they looked as happy as the website promised they were.  They were.  I also wanted to meet the owners… the farmers.  I wanted to see for myself whether these were nice people.  Nice enough for me to want to pay a a little extra to eat the food that they produced.  They were.  We met a father/daughter team, a woman who may or may not have been the mother and the CUTEST weiner dog-puppy, cutest… ever.  They were helpful and friendly and answered all of my questions about packing the deep freezer with meat.  

The best part though is that the entire farm is open to inspection, otherwise known as playtime to some, completely unguided and at your own pace.  We had such a good time.  Chase just soaked it all in.  She liked looking at most of the animals but really what she wanted to see were the sheep.  She asked for baas over and over again.  I never know where she comes up with these things.  We saw chickens last weekend at her cousin’s house and she brought that up a couple of times over the last week so I thought she’s be interested in that, but no, just the sheep.  

I picked up a few things for the week when we were there today but the idea is to order ahead and buy for a whole month. Bulk orders qualify for a discount so that’s my plan. I made goulash tonight with the stew beef I bought. It tasted… the same as usual. But taste isn’t really what I’m concerned about. It’s the feedlot beef. Over the summer when there was that big media frenzy over the beef processors inhumanely treating cattle I tried to avoid it. I just need to see the headline to get the story I can do without the sordid details. Of course, one of the local channels managed to sneak in some footage without any warning and I have been permanently scarred, the image burned into my memory.

That is what I’m trying to avoid. I really just don’t want to be a part of it to the extent that it’s possible and Michael Pollan’s book has just served to reinforce the point that it’s still no improvement to buy the new products popping up and referred to by all manner or names, natural, organic, grass fed, because bottom line you never know. Unless you can see it with your own eyes. My point is simply that I’m just not sure there’s any difference between conventional meat and the stuff that a lot of places are selling now as organic or grass fed for a lot more money and don’t feel compelled to pay extra for it. I am however willing to pay extra for a product produced locally that I can visit and where I can look the people who are responsible for its production in the eye and see that they are in fact human.

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Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Weekly Menu Planning

I’ve been really thinking about menu planning.  Well, thinking about thinking about it.  It’s not something I do or something that I’ve ever done before but I can definitely see how putting in the time could really be beneficial.  I tried this week, I scrawled out some notes on a scrap of paper and called it a menu plan, if you can even call it a menu plan.

Here’s where I started.  We picked up some supplies at Costco this weekend and they had nice wild caught salmon so I bought some.  I also picked up a container of fresh buffalo mozzarella for no particular reason.  So really, this whole week was built around those two items.

On monday, I cut the filet into smaller steaks and prepared them with simple boiled potatoes and blanched peas.  There was a little of everything leftover so that’s where I started.  My plan looks something like this:

Tuesday: creamy pasta with salmon and peas.

Wednesday: pizza (theoretically using the mozzarella)

Thursday: chicken soup (from a frozen carcass tossed in the freezer before leaving for the wedding and whatever veg is on hand)

Friday: ?

Pretty good no?  I thought I would use the last of the bread dough in the fridge for the pizza but when they say use within 2 weeks they don’t mean 2 weeks and 3 days.  Oh, and I didn’t have any tomatoes or tomato sauce.  So, I had to improvise I superheated the oven with the pizza stone inside and spread some sun-dried tomato tapenade onto huge flour tortillas, topped with the cheese and popped them onto the pizza stone until the tortilla was crispy and the cheese was melted.  I made a nice little salad with some boston lettuce and  lemony vinaigrette and put it right on top of the crisp pizza.  Eat with fork and knife… and done.  I thought it was extremely tasty for 10 minutes of effort.  

The creamy salmon pasta was really good too and really easy.  I just sweated some onions in a little olive oil, tossed in a crushed clove of garlic and then added plenty of half and half with a splash of skim for good measure.  I simmered the cream while the pasta cooked, pulled the noodles out a minute or two early and finished them in the cream with the peas and salmon.  I cut the noodles up for Chase and she loved it, even ate the peas.  

Friday is still up in the air, maybe a certain someone will treat me to dinner out.. if I’m lucky.  Tomorrow: the unauthorized report of the day before Chelsea’s wedding (with pictures!). 

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Monday, September 15th, 2008

Oh, Target

The place is so evil.  I went in for a case that will hold the portable dvd player over the back of the passenger seat.  I got the case, and a cartload of other nonsense too only to get home and find out that I bought a case for a 7.5 inch dvd player not an 8.5 inch one.  That being said they have a lot of great deals on stuff right now.  They are practically giving away school supplies.  They had great Faber-Castell products, things like watercolors and these cute chunky eco-friendly colored pencils, on clearance for a song.  I picked up one of everything they had for our trip and a bunch of cutsie notebooks for drawing.

 A quick swing through the clothes turned up some really cute dresses and a sweet pair of patterned tights that miraculously match all of them.  AND I found a headband that she approves of and doesn’t rip off her head.  

The most interesting thing about today was that Chase was perfectly happy to run the pre-trip errands that I had to take care of today.  Lately she none to happy to be strapped into her carseat and fusses like mad in stores.  Today though, not a peep.  I did stop at the playground before starting the errand-running but I swear it’s not the first time that I’ve tried that.  It was so nice to be able to think for once in a store or in the car.  I vaguely remember when it was like this all the time.  Now I have to make yet another trip to return the case I bought today and I feel like I’m probably pushing my luck to spend yet another day errand running.  

I wish I had something to write about the great things that I did today but aside from taking care of the shopping I was a total bum.  I barely even made dinner.  We’re expecting a ‘delivery’ tomorrow though so I won’t be able to do so much slacking.

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Sunday, September 14th, 2008

On the Road Again… Almost

I hate writing posts without pictures so I’m recycling one from last week or the week before.  Don’t mind the smears ALL over the glass.  Chase and Ben both think that putting your hands and face on the glass is a fun and worthwhile way to pass time.  Right now I’m trying not to freak out about our decision to drive to Ottawa this week rather than to fly.  We have never, ever taken such a long road trip with Chase.  Just driving to Target has become hit or miss so I’m really not looking forward to it.  I tried to drown my fears at Amazon.com but I’m still feeling really uneasy about the whole thing.  We’ve got a portable dvd player and leappad that I didn’t really want on the way.  Instead of playing with them she’ll probably use them to hurl at my head in an attempt to express her displeasure while I ask a gazillion questions about what’s wrong and what she might be needing.  Any advice?

This weekend was pretty busy.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen in spite of the fact that I had some kind of whacky back injury.  I made a batch of apple sauce for freezing straight away after our trip to the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Today I made a batch of hot pepper jelly with the jalapenos from my crazy prolific plant out back.  I picked almost a pound of peppers off the single plant.  It takes a lot of jalapenos to make a pound.  Most of the had turned red already and the recipe calls for two red bell peppers so it has a really nice red-orange color to it.  I’ve never tried it before but it’s supposed to be good with cream cheese on crackers.  

For dinner I made mac and cheese, salad and this bread (with olive oil for dipping, mmm) so that will be dinner for at least one more night.  That only leaves two nights to account for.  One of those will be chicken wings and we’ll probably just do take out on Wednesday night.  I am still really wanting to get into menu planning like here.  I’ve never been able to do it but I took a book out from the library last week that had some good ideas that I think I will try to use, take a few baby steps you know?

Oh, and I picked up a knitting project that I started a year ago  Maybe I’ll finish it before it gets warm again. 

This was a piss-poor recap of the weekend considering that I haven’t posted in ages BUT I’m charging the battery for my camera as we speak.  I’ll do a better job tomorrow.  

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Monday, September 8th, 2008

Hurricane a Comin’

What with the hurricane a comin’ this past weekend, I booked myself solid with stuff to do.   I splurged a little on some books I’ve been wanting for a while.  I FINALLY picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma and can’t put it down.  Although it’s eye-opening I can’t say that there’s anything in here that a good dose of common sense couldn’t tell you but it does chronicle all of the gory details for the morbidly curious.  I also picked up Barabara Kingsolver’s Animal , Vegetable, Miracle.  That’s next on my list.  

By far the most exciting purchase however was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Have you heard of this book yet?  It’s great.  I’ve already mixed up our first batch of the master recipe and we’ve baked off two loaves.  Which leads to my next point which is a throwback to a recipe I posted some time ago.  Since I decided that tomatoes were probably what was causing Chase’s hive we’ve stopped eating them cold turkey.  Up to that point we were eating tomatoes at breakneck speed.  Of course I had this epiphany the day after I picked up a new load at the farmer’s market… and so there they sat languishing until one day one went bad.  Apparently one bad tomato was enough to put me off the whole lot and so there they sat and there they stayed.  Until today that is, when Erin reminded me about this recipe for fresh tomato sauce that I posted here last year.  Tomatoes are taken care of, scratch it off the list.  Oh, and it was super delicious with fresh bread.  If you have any interest in baking, bread in particular you should absolutely check out this book.  What a great concept, and I’ve only just scratched the surface.  Montreal bagels are what we’re really after.  

I did some sewing over the weekend too.  I revamped and made another play tent.  This time I used sail cloth.  It’s really sunny and nice but I think it still needs to be tweaked a bit.  That being said, Chase loves it.  She likes yellow but in retrospect I should have made it blue.  

I also made a hideous monstrosity of an orange curtain for the kitchen.  It’s just a big rectangle but I still managed to mangle it somehow.  

I don’t know where this week is going but I took a few seconds today to tend my badly neglected basil.  Truth be told I just needed some for dinner but the flowers make a for a lovely little arrangement.

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Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Overheard

I’m reluctant to write work-related posts but I just have to share some of the stuff I overhear out there.  In the few short weeks that I’ve been working I’ve been to court in more counties than I can count on one hand.  This is an amazing state.  You don’t have to travel far to find yourself in a completely different universe.  And because I’m a people person I have found, thus far, each of them to be equally charming in their own unique way.  I’ve overheard conversations about everything from this year’s haying to ones initiated with “mushi mushi,” it’s been just all over the place.  This is all to say that three weeks in I’m still really enjoying the new gig.  I like it so much that I always want to look sharp.  I still don’t think that I have an adequate supply of clothes to really get by but on the other hand am reasonably certain that I couldn’t identify an adequate supply either.  I probably need an expert to come and give me an opinion : )  I just know that I definitely don’t have enough shoes.  Plus, if you look like a lawyer you can bypass the metal detector line. 

I can’t believe I’m just getting to write about last weekend and it’s almost the weekend again already.  How was yours?  I actually worked!  I crossed a lot of projects off of my mental list.  I cleaned up a little in the basement and got it somewhat organized with the new workbench that we bough more than a month ago.  Of course it’s all in shambles again because my next order of business was to paint the dining room and that meant getting out all of the painting supplies but I did make the effort.  I’m really happy with the dining room.  I barely changed the color but i replaced the flat and dull contractor paint with an ever so slightly warmer color called “oatmeal” that ties in with the “peanut” that runs into the kitchen.  I painted the trim the same porcelain from Sherwin Williams that we used in the foyer and I feel really good about how it turned out.  Now I just have to get that curtain up on the back door.  Hopefully I’ll have enough energy to do it tomorrow night now that the whole neighborhood has had a chance to peep our fridge.  I replaced the blinds in the dining room with a rod I found on clearance over the weekend and a curtain that I pulled out of some drawer, unopened nonetheless.  Sometimes just poking around in the house is like being at a rummage sale.  You just never know what you’re going to find.  It already feels so much better.  Now, I just need to order the rug and pick up the shelves.  I really wanted an armoire but have neither the time nor the inclination to really invest in finding the right piece so shelves it is.  The whole first floor is painted now and mostly furnished and I feel pretty good about that.  Of course Ben had to go and remind me that there is still an entire room upstairs that could have completely blown off the house for all we know because no one EVER opens the door.  That room’s on the list now too.  In the picture, the top portion of the molding shows the original wall and molding color.  I think the new scheme is much better don’t you?  I had a whole fistful of paint chips and carpet samples to help make the decision but in the end it all came down to looking at the pile as a whole and just picking the set of colors that made me say that’s a room I want to sit in.  It was a little bit of a moment for me. :)  

That’s about it.  Did you have fun too?

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